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House of Commons Hansard #44 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I hope that the member for Winnipeg Centre did not think that when I referred to his service to the Conservatives as that of a busboy that I meant it as an insult. We had a conversation outside of the House and I made it very clear that I have a high regard for busboys. Second, he made an attempt to create a difference in stating that he was just a carpenter and I was a high powered lawyer.

First, I am not a high powered lawyer. Second, I come from a working class background. My father was a porter on the train. Third, I myself was working class in my professional life. When I did my law degree, I worked full time as a coder. I was unionized with CUPW at Canada Post and worked full time as I studied full time. I would not in any way wish to cast aspersions on his socio-economic background prior to coming into politics because I shared a lot of it and I am quite proud of that.

To come to the achievements of the committee regarding the question of the public appointments commission, as the member for Winnipeg Centre stated, one area where the three opposition parties came together, were like-minded, were in agreement, and as a result were able to amend Bill C-2 to bring it back and put it in a form that, if it gets all the way through Parliament, will create an independent system that is merit-based.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, there has been some interesting discussion about the motions in Group No. 2.

At the start of the debate on Group No. 1 there were suggestions that perhaps the bill was hurried in committee. Some of the witnesses had indicated that there was not enough time. I think we can see that some of the items in Group Nos. 1 and 2 are showing evidence of sloppiness and a little bit of a lack of due diligence and care.

The one motion that was put in by the member who just spoke has to do with adding the words “wholly owned” because the bill was referring to crown corporations. Purolator is not a crown corporation. It is a wholly owned operation. It is a small item.

There is another item there. I think it is in Motion No. 21. If there is a change in the mandate of the Canadian Wheat Board, the bill presently says “the minister will do a review as to the propriety of the change”. We have a motion before the House for an extensive debate to change the word “will” to “shall”. We have to ask the question, why?

A number of members have taken the offer, as it were, of the Chair that notwithstanding, we may be talking on a particular group of motions but that it is appropriate to talk generally about the bill as a whole. I wanted to make a couple of comments about the bill as a whole because I may not get another chance to speak at report stage of the bill.

One of the things I wanted to raise was Bill C-11, known as the whistleblower bill. That bill goes back two Parliaments. It has had a couple of iterations. In the last Parliament, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates virtually spent the entire Parliament working on that bill. In fact, through the good work of all the members of the committee from all parties, there was a very good start to the bill.

I think it has already been acknowledged that no bill will be perfect. However, it is a good starting point. We feel comfortable that we have responded to the witnesses, as well as to the wishes of the various parties.

Bill C-11 received a third reading vote with the support of all parties in the House. It also received royal assent. That did not occur until about the second last day of the last Parliament. That meant that the bill was not proclaimed. It was law, but it was not in force is basically what that means.

We have Bill C-2 come forward and it has been described as dealing with the whole blanket of ethical issues. For example, it is dealing with whistleblowers, but not in the sense that it is doing anything in the first instance. In fact, the changes or the items in Bill C-2 that are seen are actually amendments to Bill C-11.

That means that we will see Bill C-11 from the Liberal government in the last Parliament. With the support of all other parties, it is going to come into force and law in Canada. It will then be amended for a number of the points that were raised by committee members and by this legislation. I do not see substantive changes. It seems that the committee has done its job to again ensure that legislation continues to get the scrutiny that it needs so that it continues to be up-to-date and takes into account all of the values and principles that should be incorporated in the blanket of Bill C-2.

I am very pleased that we are going to have Bill C-11 finally proclaimed. The bill will then be a law of Canada, and that it will be amended by some of the items in Bill C-2.

One of the other items I wanted to raise is the Access to Information Act. I am very much a big fan of the Information Commissioner. He is someone that I have worked with for many years. He has been in this role even more than his prescribed term. His term was extended by the House.

However, yesterday in the editorial pages there was further commentary on the concerns that have been raised about how the commissioner does not feel that the changes being contemplated, as well as Bill C-2 generally, are going to promote the kind of openness and transparency that we sought to achieve. That gives me some concern. I think it is a signal to all hon. members to look again at the changes to the Access to Information Act that the Information Commissioner was proposing.

Finally, with regard to political donations, I am going to get into that, but I wanted to put a couple of thoughts on the record. Having looked at Bill C-2 and also at the legislative summary provided by the Library of Parliament, I note that there are certain provisions within the act that are in force on receiving royal assent and being proclaimed. There are some that would be delayed for some six months. There are others that are going to be in force on the day on which royal assent is given and the bill is proclaimed.

The donations item is one of those items. This is going to finally eliminate the $1,000 donations that can be made by corporations and unions. As an individual candidate, I am sorry that is going to be taken away, because it will take away the ability to accept donations from small businesses within the community that want to support people who are doing good things for the community. It will take that opportunity away from those small businesses, but if that is what it takes, I am prepared to live with it.

Then there is the fact of reducing the amount that an individual can give from the current $5,000 limit to $1,000. For an ordinary individual, $1,000 is a lot of money. I certainly understand that, but as a member of Parliament, for instance, I attend at least two conventions a year, if not three, which cost anywhere from $150 up. I believe the leadership convention is going to be some $900. Not all of the fees for those conventions are tax receiptable; the costs have to be deducted. Of that $950, if that is what it turns out to be, a substantial amount will be real costs that are not going to be receiptable. I think we can make it.

The problem is that there are no transitional provisions in the bill with regard to whether the rules of the bill specify that those changes are going to be in force on the day that this bill receives royal assent. It is not likely to be on January 1 of a new calendar year. It is going to be in the middle of a year, and it could be the middle of this year, but a lot of Canadians who have made donations under the laws of Canada have exceeded what this bill proposes.

We have heard reports now from the Chief Electoral Officer that with the way in which the bill is presently crafted, in his view as the officer of Parliament who has to enforce the Canada Elections Act, there in fact will be a limit imposed for 2006 of $1,000. Many people contributed to the last election campaign in January 2006, plus there are people who will be going to conventions or who want to support a candidate in a nomination or give to their local riding associations, because it is important for riding associations to have the resources to do their work.

This is going to be very problematic. It is going to mean that an awful lot of businesses and individuals, if the Chief Electoral Officer is correct, are going to have to return moneys. It is going to be a bit of a mess. It is going to make us look bad. I know the committee has had some discussions on this. I hope that more hon. members will raise some of these issues. The most appropriate approach to this would be to amend the report stage motion so as to prescribe that the enforced date of the changes to political donations will be made for January 1 of the next calendar year, which allows for proper transition.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the speech that the member for Mississauga South made. He seems quite interested in this bill since he spoke on several occasions today. I commend him for doing so, even though—and this is not an accusation—he was not present regularly at the committee. He followed, studied and analyzed BIll C-2, and he has a very good understanding of it.

We heard throughout the day that it was urgent to work on and to pass Bill C-2, because we wanted to eliminate corruption. It is important to remind the House that the vast majority of public servants are very honest men and women and that we are ensuring, through this bill, that they are provided with a safety net.

Why does the member for Mississauga South think that the government refused to immediately implement Bill C-11 that had received royal assent and that provided this safety net for public servants, which would have allowed us to have a more serious study of Bill C-2?

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government will have to answer that question directly. I cannot speculate.

I would suggest, in the spirit of transparency and openness and getting on with this process, that to proclaim Bill C-11 now would at least allow the process of the recruitment of the public service integrity officer to commence. The member is well aware of the lengthy time it is going to take to do publication nationally, to probably get a national search firm to do pre-screening and to start the process that is necessary when a bunch of officers are recruited. At the government operations and estimates committee, we went through this process extensively.

I have one final comment on the point about the spirit of corruption. I said earlier in debate that the party in power is the government, but government as defined is not just the members of Parliament who sit on that side of the House. Government also includes everyone who works for it. The buck stops there. The government is responsible for the wrongdoing of everybody who happens to work in the public service. A government could legitimately be accused of being corrupt if someone did something wrong.

There is a process going on. It is up to the courts to determine who is guilty of an offence. There have been three cases now. Two involved two ad agency executives who have been found guilty and have been prescribed jail sentences. The third case involves Mr. Guité, a public servant who was hired at the time of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. He was found guilty and has been sentenced to three and a half years. Mr. Guité has an appeal process going forward.

We are also aware that other matters have been referred to the RCMP. Further charges may be laid. We do not know that yet. The Auditor General told Canadians that Mr. Guité, in her opinion, broke every rule in the book. It appears that the courts have agreed, as did Justice Gomery. Mr. Guité has been found guilty. It appears he will be punished, as should anyone who broke any law of Canada in regard to the sponsorship program. Individuals who break our laws should face the full force of the law.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his contribution to this discussion today. There are some who think this report will move Canada toward further Americanization of our system of government. We keep hearing concerns about the current government getting that much closer to Mr. Bush and the whole American style of politics.

I would like to hear your comments on what you think of that report. Do you think it is one more step down the line of Americanization of our current government system?

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order, please. Pursuant to my persistence in this matter, the hon. member would be better advised to wonder what he thinks and address the member in the third person.

Could we all try to remember that parliamentary rule? It seems to be disappearing into the Bermuda Triangle in the last few days.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree.

I have given a speech in this place in which I did use the terminology “the Americanization of Canada”. I think it was in the context of Kyoto, Afghanistan, justice and some other issues.

I respect the government's authority and right to take positions that it feels are right in its view, based on its best information. With regard to this bill, I am supportive of Bill C-2. I am supportive of the principles of openness and transparency. When we have whistleblower legislation totally in force, I want to make sure that we are going to have an environment in which our public servants, including those at crown corporations who are not public servants as defined but who are dealt with as public servants for purposes of the bill, will feel comfortable that they can come forward and provide information which I would consider allegations so that others who have the tools to be able to do the work will be able to determine it.

That is in the best interests of Canadians. If that is the ultimate achievement of the bill, in that part alone, Bill C-2 will have been a success in terms of triggering Bill C-11 so that it is in force and amending it as necessary to make it a better piece of legislation.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to warmly and sincerely congratulate my two Bloc colleagues, the hon. member for Repentigny and the hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord. Both did a tremendous job in committee. They spent many hours on it.

Unfortunately, as a result of the complicity of the New Democratic member for Winnipeg Centre, who literally voted almost automatically with the Conservative members, among other things, all the witnesses that we wanted on this bill could not be heard at the preparation and scrutiny stage.

It was clearly established from the outset that we did not intend to systematically obstruct or filibuster. In view of the scope of this legislation, which modified an incredible number of laws currently in effect, the Bloc Québécois felt that more witnesses should have been heard.

At this stage, we can only deplore the attitude of the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre. I am sure that he must be reconsidering his political future and thinking of joining the Conservative ranks. The people of Winnipeg Centre will have to judge the hon. member on the basis of his conduct.

As was said previously, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of this bill. However, we must look again at some aspects that may not be directly related to the bill but touch upon its philosophy and approach.

Ethics were at the heart of the last election campaign. On January 23, a clear judgment was passed on a corrupt party, the Liberal Party, by the people of Quebec and the people of Canada. The Liberal Party no longer had the moral authority to govern—something we had been saying for a long time—and last January 23, the Liberals got their political punishment for the sponsorship scandal.

The current Conservative government made ethics its battle cry during the last election campaign. Now there is a desire to ask them some tough questions. Just yesterday, in the wake of the sentencing of Charles Guité, who got three and a half years in prison, we saw certain recommendations that followed from the Gomery report going unanswered. During the election campaign, the Conservatives said that, if elected, they would not hesitate to take civil action against the people responsible for the sponsorship scandal.

When the hon. member for Outremont was transport minister in the last Parliament, he said that if any dirty money had been paid, it would be paid back. So I ask again: what is happening now with this dirty money? How is the much anticipated civil action proceeding against the Liberal Party, which allegedly received illegal funds?

What is happening to certain participants in the sponsorship scandal, who have gone unpunished and still stroll freely along the sidewalks of Sparks or Wellington streets here in Ottawa or continue to live in their castles in north Montreal or elsewhere? Take Jacques Corriveau for example. He was portrayed by Gomery as the man who instituted the bribery system, the bid system and all the tricks with exaggerated quotations.

How are the criminal or civil cases going against Jacques Corriveau? Yes, Charles Guité got a prison sentence. Yes, Jean Breault got a prison sentence. But the symphony is still unfinished.

There are still people at large who remain unpunished and that is not acceptable. When we speak of the Gomery commission, Quebeckers and Canadians tell us that they hope the guilty parties will be prosecuted and punished. This money was not taken from the pockets of the Liberal Party or of any one of us here, it was taken from the pockets of taxpayers who believe that they pay too much tax. Therefore we are still waiting. What happened to the agency owners who profited from overbilling, the new millionaires who never bought a lottery ticket? They won the lottery.

I remember as though it were yesterday. When I was on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Gilles-André Gosselin told us, and he candidly repeated it to Judge Gomery, that he had invoiced 10 to 12 hours of work per day, 365 days per year, including Christmas and New Years. Gilles-André Gosselin remains unpunished. We are waiting for concrete action from the Conservative government.

The Bloc Québécois is pleased to note that the Conservative government has adopted one of the longstanding demands of the Bloc Québécois—dating back to 1993—to the effect that henceforth appointments of returning officers are no longer to be patronage appointments. Roughly the same principle applies to senators. When the government leader appoints a good Liberal organizer as a returning officer—not necessarily on the basis of ability but rather because of past contributions— it is known as returning the favour. I am not implying that all 308 returning officers are incompetent. Far from it. However, when the basic criterion is past participation in Liberal election organizations, this can result in the appointment of some incompetent people. We are pleased to see that the Conservatives have agreed to copy the system that has been in place in Quebec for several years.

Now, with Bill C-2, returning officers will be appointed following an open and transparent competition. In Quebec, the electoral officer, Mr. Blanchet, has put an ad in the papers to find a returning officer for the provincial electoral district of Montmorency. Any person who feels qualified may apply. We do not rely on party memberships or on a party election organization. It is not patronage in disguise. The process is open and transparent.

If we wanted to be mean and unwilling to recognize the merits of Bill C-2, we would probably say that things could have been done differently in the bill. I do not do this with laxness or flattery, but we, in the Bloc Québécois, are pleased to see that in Bill C-2 the Conservative Party has agreed with one of the recommendations that had become traditional for the Bloc, that is, that returning officers will now be appointed following an open and transparent competition. The best qualified person will then be able to fill the position. If the person is not able to do so, there will be removal procedures. If there is a power of appointment, there is a power of removal. Any staffing principle has its corollary.

I almost felt like asking for the unanimous consent of the House to speak until midnight, since Parliament is allowed to sit until that time. However, as I want to give other colleagues the opportunity to speak, I will stop here.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe if you were to check you would find unanimous consent from our friends in the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party and the member for Repentigny, who I spoke with earlier, to allow Motions Nos. 25 and 26, which the Speaker disallowed, to be included in Group No. 2.

I hope that my colleague from Quebec will have some positive comments, because I spoke with him for a little while. I am sure he will.

I am therefore requesting the unanimous consent of the House to include Motions Nos. 25 and 26 in Group No. 2.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Is it agreed?

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I will now propose Motion No. 25 to the House.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

moved:

Motion No. 25

That Bill C-2, in Clause 222, be amended by

a) replacing line 9 on page 171 with the following:

“16.4 (1) The Public Sector Integrity Commis-” (b) adding after line 22 on page 171 the following:

“(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of a record that contains information referred to in paragraph (1)(b) if the person who gave the information to the conciliator consents to the record being disclosed.”

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

(Motion No. 25 agreed to)

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I will now propose Motion No. 26 to the House.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

moved:

Motion No. 26

That Bill C-2, in Clause 225, be amended by replacing line 36 on page 173 to line 7 on page 174 with the following:

“that was obtained or created by him or her or on his or her behalf in the course of an investigation into a disclosure made under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act or an investigation commenced under section 33 of that Act.”

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

(Motion No. 26 agreed to)

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Phthalate Control ActPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2006 / 5:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

moved that Bill C-307, An Act to prohibit the use of benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) in certain products and to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, for all interested members and Canadians watching, the pronunciation of the bill is not a requirement to support it. It is sound government policy and I know there is support from various sides of the House for such sound legislation.

I would first like to thank my colleague from Winnipeg Centre for seconding this.

We have seen some small steps from the government to conduct itself in such a way, when it comes to the health and protection of Canadians, to operate under some fundamental principles. One of those principles is called the precautionary principle. It is a principle that has been outlined for a number of years and is used in jurisdictions across the world to prevent undue harm and unnecessary harm falling upon their citizens.

I will take the tobacco companies, for example, and then I will get to the specifics of the bill.

For many years, there were claims that there was no ill health effects due to tobacco. Companies would rely upon some sort of naive and false version of true and pure science needing to connect completely the smoking of tobacco to the many forms of cancer that were supposedly caused by that. For decades, these companies hid behind pseudo-science and the need to prove it beyond any reasonable doubt, meanwhile making record profits and costing taxpayers not only the physical cost of cancers and the pain to those people and their families, but hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs.

It was only when public support grew to a level sufficient to push governments, both at the federal and provincial levels, to do something about this, that the companies finally had to come forward and admit there was enough health science to prove that smoking was harmful for our health.

No politician in our country will get up and suggest that we should reverse the direction that has been made when it comes to smoking, the prohibition of where people can smoke and the ability to sell to minors. Therefore, we have moved beyond that debate.

However, when it comes to chemicals and the toxic soup that Canadians are asked to swim through each and every day of their lives, the question for government and the responsible leaders of our country is, what are we doing to protect the health of Canadians? Are we doing all that we can?

Clearly, when we look at the group of chemicals to be banned under my bill, we have not done enough. This would ban three specific chemicals, and I am not as courageous as the Speaker in terms of attempting the pronunciation of all these. I will leave that to the organic chemists, but I do definitely take my hat off for the Speaker's efforts. There are three: BBP, DBP and DEHP.

These are specifically placed in products used by some of the most vulnerable people in our society and placed in such a way that allows toxins to then leach out of the products and into the humans who use them. In particular, many of these chemicals are placed in products which children frequently use. Knowing that these chemicals have been associated with a whole list of extremely serious health risks and knowing that they can be brought into a young person's body is the same as knowing the way those products are designed.

I will give an example. Many soothers are put on the market that contain two of these chemicals. Chewing the product will allow the chemical to be released from the product. There is this sad and twisted irony in the way these products have entered into our distribution chain and marketplace, completely unintentionally. They are causing extremely worrisome effects felt by the most vulnerable in our population, who are children.

The bill promotes the banning of these chemicals within 12 months, once the House has passed this bill. Many jurisdictions have already taken these first courageous steps, and I will speak to that.

Also a commercial element is involved for Canadian manufacturers looking to make some of these products. We are talking about children's toys, cosmetics and some medical devices as well. The European market and a number of American markets and others have banned these products over a series of time. If Canadian manufacturers hope to sell any of the listed products, they will be unable to export to any of those markets. Therefore, on the health of Canadian economy and on the health of individuals, this makes clear sense.

These chemicals allow plastics, in particular, to become softer. The original forms of plastic in commercial use were extremely hard and durable, but were not malleable at all.

It is an important consideration, whenever we look at banning a chemical through the manufacturing process, that reliable alternatives can be used and are safe. In this case there are a number of them. What is most attractive about phthalates, this family of chemicals, is that they have an extremely wide use. Manufacturers in other jurisdictions have been called upon to get a little more specific about the replacement chemical to be applied.

A number of these chemicals are also used in cosmetics. When we put these chemicals into things like children's toys, which children then chew on, or in cosmetics that are applied to the face, they leach out or off-gas. A number of studies have been done on carpets and paints. There is that new car smell with which people are familiar. Those are primarily the same group of chemicals and they are not necessary.

In not being necessary and not being implicit to the manufacture of any of those products, it causes one to wonder why government has not taken this step before. Given that we have a new government, we are willing to push this and see what kind of support we can get from around this House to doing something progressive.

The problem with the ability of these chemicals to enter into our into our bodies, is they do not have a chemical bond. That allows them to off-gas quite easily. The other secondary problem is that they accumulate in the fatty tissues of organisms. This is a process of bioaccumulation. Any trace amount that passes through one's system stays there because it gets trapped in the fatty tissues.

A recent study was done by Pollution Probe, I believe. It is one of the environmental groups that was studying the actual chemical makeup of Canadians and the levels of toxicity. It was by no means a conclusive study because the sample was too small. However, one of the things that was most interesting was that children in some cases had higher levels of these toxins than their parents did, even though they had obviously been on the Earth for a much shorter time. Part of the reason is the child might be consuming toxins at a much greater rate as a ratio to their body mass and also that the bioaccumulation, the ability of certain chemicals to stick in our bodies, then gets passed on to children.

A great list of unbelievable diseases and effects is associated with these chemicals. It strikes one as incredible that they even exist at all in commercial use, but let us blame the times and ignorance when they were first brought in. However, knowledge being power, clearly it is incumbent upon us to do something about it.

In particular, a number of studies have shown the abnormal reproductive development in small male children. I have an incredible list of the effects of these chemicals and I will table these documents. I hesitate doing that however because what these chemicals can cause is absolutely unbelievable. They primarily target the reproductive systems of small children and in particular small young males.

Again, when one steps back to the precautionary principle, if there is evidence linking this, in the absence of absolute 100% confirmed science, it is incumbent upon us to remove any chance at all of inflicting this upon any younger members of our society, who through no fault of their own, through their simple existence in their day to day lives, start to incur some of these health effects.

The list of general disorders and malformations is long and disturbing. Some of the less graphic in nature are strong links to allergies in children, premature deaths, testicular cancer. In animals that were tested with these chemicals, there was reduced fertility, spontaneous abortions, birth defects, damage to liver, kidneys and lungs. These things are absolutely incredible in terms of the number of disorders to which they are linked. There is no need or cause to be alarmist. It is simply to point out where the studies have led us

Just last month the United States national toxicology program published a draft brief on one of these chemicals, DEHP, examining its risks. The study found that they were probably affecting humans in their development and/or reproduction and that current exposures were high enough to cause concern.

When reading the list of possible ailments that would fall on those in our society, that in itself is enough to cause members to take a serious and hard look at what has been proposed in the bill, to determine that the measures are reasonable and responsible and that the bill should be supported. I will take a small quote from the study, which is extensive. I can table that document as well. It says:

Although there is no direct evidence that exposure of people to DEHP adversely affects reproduction or development, studies with laboratory rodents clearly show that exposure...can cause adverse effects...Based on recent data on the extent to which humans absorb, metabolize and excrete DEHP, the NTP believes it is reasonable and prudent to conclude that the results reported in laboratory animals indicate a potential for similar or other adverse effects in human populations.

This is not an alarmist group at a federal level in the United States.

When we look at other jurisdictions in the world and see what they have done with this family of chemicals, we find a long list of legislators are raising the alarms and seeking to pull these chemicals from our system.

The European Union has a more comprehensive ban than the one suggested in Bill C-307. I am always encouraged by that. If we can get the European nations to agree on anything at any given point in time, we have truly pulled off a miracle. In respect to something such as this, with the strong chemical manufacturing element of the European economy and this having gone through all of the hoops and levels required in that quasi-federal governance, it shows that its ban in specifically targeting those products aimed at children, especially, shows the strength and intention of the will of European parliamentarians. We would be well to heed their call.

Argentina, Fiji, Finland, Japan and Mexico have all banned this group of chemicals in children's toys. It is a wide and diverse group of countries. There are many more under consideration. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended considering alternatives containing products when performing high risk procedures on male newborns, pregnant women with male fetuses and male preteens eight to twelve years old.

Even without the full “proven link” that has been sought by companies from tobacco on down, the U.S. FDA has said that on those vulnerable groups, particularly pregnant women who are due to bear male children and young male boys, we must find alternatives because other options are available.

For the life of me I cannot understand why members in the House would not support such an initiative, with options being available and given the list of dastardly diseases and effects related to these chemicals.

Health Canada has an even stronger policy when it comes to phthalates. Though it is still in draft, it recommends that DEHP not be used for certain procedures and that DEHP containing products be labelled.

I want to quickly go to alternatives. It is important for people to realize that if companies have sought alternative and responsible products, they be allowed to use them so they remain profitable. A number of European based companies and some American ones have been able to find alternative and responsible products to replace these. Some cosmetic companies have already started a phase in.

My last point, for members in this place and for those watching, is the principle of precaution, the principle of using sound judgment, even in the absence of full and complete knowledge on an issue in cases such as this, is paramount to the type of decisions we make. The onus we use must be reversed. It must not be left to consumers to somehow prove that the products they buy their children are safe. They simply do not have the time, wherewithal or capacity.

The onus must be put on those making the products and those attempting to introduce those products into the marketplace. It is simply responsible government to do this. It is responsible for all of us to strongly consider the bill. I look forward to the debate that ensues.

Phthalate Control ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague from Skeena to expand on the comment on which he began his speech and ended his speech. It had to do with the precautionary principle that must guide us especially when we are dealing with the well-being of children. It has always driven me crazy that the onus is on us to prove that a chemical is dangerous. The onus is not on the chemical company to prove that it is safe. I cannot for the life of me understand how chemicals are innocent until proven guilty, especially when we are faced with the near impossible task of making the direct link to a specific cause when we are exposed to such a chemical soup. That task is nearly impossible.

Phthalate Control ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the precautionary principle is already in Canadian law. Our central piece of environmental legislation is currently under review at committee. We spent an entire day and more in conversation around the precautionary principle. When first introduced to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act it was much heralded. It was a central way of thinking, particularly about pollutants that have the potential to cause harmful effects on Canadians and Canadian society.

That principle clearly states that we must not wait for absolute truth to make a decision. If we waited for such absolute truth, for example, it has never been proven that there is 100% causation between the smoking of cigarettes and cancer. It is virtually impossible to prove 100% because there are so many elements and variables.

Scientists, health officials and environment officials have said to us that when they examine groups of chemicals such as phthalates, the risks are so high and so great that even if they are 10% right on some of their reports, even at that small margin with most of it being wrong, the responsibility is ours to do something. Even with 10% of it being right, it is incredible that we would even consider allowing their use. If we had known what we know now about the toxicity of these chemicals, would we have allowed their production? It is unlikely. As we go forward with hundreds being introduced every year and combining in certain ways, we must consistently ask ourselves if we are doing justice by Canadians who place their trust in us that we are looking out for their ultimate well-being.