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House of Commons Hansard #101 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member actually identified different countries than I identified and that the minister identified. I identified Germany, Japan, Austria and Switzerland as countries that have unlimited liability. It is the U.S. that has liability that could be as high as $9 billion.

Let us consider the areas where some of our nuclear facilities are located. Some experts have said that nuclear facilities should not be in populated areas where there are families, homes, businesses and schools and that they should be further away from populations to limit the impact. They have also suggested that if we are going to be building new ones, they should be built underground. If there were to be an incident nearby, the human cost, the cost of people's homes, the cost to businesses and future loss of revenue could be quite high. For a business that generates a couple of million dollars a year or even more, the costs could add up very quickly. If an area were contaminated for a number of years or even forever, then the future costs to those businesses could be quite high.

That is what I am basing my statistics on. That is also what the people whom I quoted are basing their representations on.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's handling of the Chalk River incident shook the confidence of many Canadians with respect to our nuclear industry. Many of my constituents expressed their concerns to me. I think we would all feel more confident if we were to leave it to nuclear scientists and engineers to decide where nuclear safety resides rather than leaving it up to politicians.

Given the firing of the president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission by the Conservative government, I am wondering, as are my constituents, does Canada still have an independent nuclear safety regulator? How accountable is it now? How transparent are the mechanisms to ensure the safety of the operations of the nuclear industry in Canada?

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Victoria for that question as I did not get a chance to speak about this in my intervention on Bill C-5.

She is absolutely right when she says that Canadians need to have confidence that the Nuclear Safety Commission can work at arm's length. However, I do not think we have that confidence. We lost that confidence back in January with the Conservative government's firing of Linda Keen, the nuclear safety commissioner at the time, in the dead of night.

Unfortunately, that left Canadians wondering what was going on. How can we have confidence in this industry when things like this happen? That was a very sad day. We know that the commissioner was trying to look after public safety and security and unfortunately she was let go from her job for doing just that.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all members for such a spirited and fulsome debate on this issue, but because of the debate the issue has been almost exhaustively discussed, I believe. Therefore, I move:

That this question be now put.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed that the motion has been made to put this question, because we have just started to debate this today after a bit of a lapse. We had a couple of speeches, one from the minister and one from the member leading off the debate, but this is an important bill.

It is an important bill from the standpoint that it is another example of where legislation in Canada has gone without an update for an extended period of time. We have to understand why this happens and whether or not we have left ourselves exposed. In this bill, we go from a civil liability limit of $75 million up to proposing $650 million.

We have the same problem in other legislation with which I am involved. Neither the Access to Information Act nor the Privacy Act have been updated in 25 years, yet those pieces of legislation deal with significant matters related to Canadians. They are important to Canadians. Those matters have not been kept up to date with the changes in our world, both the 9/11 mentality and the technological changes.

I suggest to the member that it is important to hear not only from the principal members dealing in natural resources but from parliamentarians with regard to some of the other important issues related to legislation that has not been kept up to date. We need to hold the government accountable.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, while I thank my hon. colleague from Mississauga South, my point remains the same, which is that there has been, I believe, fulsome debate on this issue.

In response to the member's question about how legislation from time to time needs to be updated, that is certainly correct. Because of that, I would underscore the fact that this needs to be dealt with promptly and expeditiously. I would also suggest that all pieces of legislation coming before this House are, I believe, quite exhaustively discussed within respective caucuses.

I believe my hon. colleague from the New Democratic Party said earlier in her presentation that the position of each of the parties is well known. I believe that to be true. I believe that by continuing the debate all we would be doing is restricting the ability of this House to deal with an important piece of legislation in the expeditious manner it deserves.

Therefore, I think my motion that the question be now put is quite appropriate and should be dealt with at this time.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are three reactors in different provinces. In Ontario, there is Ontario Power Generation in Bruce. In New Brunswick, there are the operators at New Brunswick Power. In Quebec, it is Hydro-Québec.

This piece of legislation addresses an important issue. As I indicated in my question for the parliamentary secretary, it is a piece of legislation that has not been updated for a very substantial period of time.

I know there are only a few minutes remaining before question period, but I think it is important for Canadians to understand what we are debating. Bill C-5 is an act respecting civil liability and compensation for damage in case of a nuclear incident. It establishes a specific civil liability and a regime with respect to nuclear incidents and repeals the current Nuclear Liability Act, which provides the regime today.

This act, which will repeal the Nuclear Liability Act, is very similar to that act. It does make operators of nuclear installations exclusively liable but, as I indicated, it increases significantly, from $75 million to $650 million, the extent of their liability and the financial security they are required to maintain. The establishment of a form of civil liability and a requirement to pay compensation in respect of damage caused by a nuclear incident is in line with the efforts to manage and minimize the risk involved in the use of nuclear material.

The bill establishes a specific liability regime applicable in the case of a nuclear incident and sets out the terms and conditions in respect of the civil liability and the compensation to be paid for any damage caused in such circumstances. It also provides for the establishment of a tribunal to administer the claims arising from the nuclear incident.

I was very interested in this and did a little research. The bill states specifically that it is binding on the federal government and on the provinces and it excludes two types of circumstances. The first exclusion includes incidents resulting from an act of war, hostilities, civil war or insurrection, but not a terrorist activity as defined in the Criminal Code. The second exclusion is damage to a nuclear installation or any property located at the installation and used in connection with it if the operator of the installation is responsible for the damage.

Earlier in the debate, there was some question with regard to the liability exclusion of suppliers of equipment that would be used in these plants. As someone who is not an expert in this area, I am not exactly sure about this and certainly would want to ask this question. In the event that there is a fault with regard to the equipment supplier, the operator itself, the purchaser of that equipment, would have legal recourse. I am not sure how far the umbrella has to go to insure all those who are directly or indirectly the source of the problem and the cause for the liability and the costs and damages to be incurred.

Because of the time constraints, I am not going to be able to deliver all of my speech, but in preparing for this debate today I noted that the minister laid out the main principles of the bill. The responsibility of providing an insurance framework for the nuclear industry falls under federal jurisdiction. That is one of the reasons why we need this. It is a framework that is in existence today. Both the current legislation and Bill C-5 apply to nuclear power plants, nuclear research reactors, fuel fabrication facilities and facilities managing nuclear fuel.

There are three principles involved that the legislation tries to emulate. Those are the principles of absolute and exclusive liability of the operator, mandatory insurance, and limitations in the time and amount. These are the kinds of things that are consistent with legislation internationally.

I understand that we are going to break now. Unfortunately, I will not be able to be in the House to continue my speech due to committee responsibilities, but I appreciate having at least this brief time to address the House on Bill C-5.

Government PoliciesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, actions taken by our Conservative government over the past two and a half years have made real improvements to the lives of Canadians. Some are more noticeable than others but all are important.

Canadians see the savings they get from the two per cent reduction in the GST almost every time they purchase something. They also notice the savings we provided in income tax cuts through lower deductions from their paycheques, less tax paid at tax time, or more money being returned to them through tax refunds.

Corporate tax cuts are every bit as important but are less obvious. These cuts encourage businesses to keep operating in Canada or encourage new businesses to come and operate in Canada.

The NDP, the Bloc and even some Liberals criticize these corporate tax cuts, yet these, more than anything else, create the jobs that we need for us, for our children and for our grandchildren. This is something the opposition just does not get but Canadians do, and that is what is important.

Howard DillStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, last week Canada lost an extraordinary citizen with the passing of Howard Dill of Windsor, Nova Scotia.

Howard was a giant, and not just for the breeding of his Atlantic giant pumpkin. His community spirit, his kind heart, and his immense passion to make a difference made him a true leader.

Howard held the title of the grower of the world's largest pumpkin from 1979 to 1982, and today pumpkins grown from his Dill Atlantic Giant seed win competitions around the world. Howard and his pumpkins have been featured on the Martha Stewart show and inspired the Windsor--West Hants Pumpkin Regatta, where pumpkin paddlers race across Lake Pesaquid every fall.

Howard's passion for and encyclopedic knowledge of hockey helped install Windsor in the history books as the birthplace of hockey.

Howard was an icon who served his community, province and country with distinction. To his loving wife Hilda and their children Danny, Andrew, Maureen and Diana, our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Daniel ChalifourStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to highlight the extraordinary performance of an athlete in my riding, paracyclist Daniel Chalifour.

Mr. Chalifour, who is visually impaired, began his tandem cycling training in the fall of 2005. In April 2006, his road performances earned him a place on the Quebec team at the National Cycling Championships. To everyone's surprise, he and his pilot at the time, Normand Couillard, won two bronze medals.

In 2007, two years after he started training, Daniel Chalifour and his new pilot, Alexandre Cloutier, had spectacular results. They dominated, winning nine gold medals and one silver in ten races. On the world stage, they won three gold medals in track races at the Parapanamerican Games in Cali, Colombia in November 2007.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I would like to congratulate this young athlete who is an example of strength, courage and determination for our youth.

Child CareStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to salute child care workers in my riding who are doing outstanding work in difficult circumstances with poor pay and no benefits.

While the Prime Minister recently recognized extraordinary teachers like Kim Atkinson of Victoria and others, his government is undermining their work by offering a piecemeal approach to the national child care crisis. In Victoria alone, 13,000 child care spaces are needed. Across the country, waiting lists for day care spaces are years long. Meanwhile the government's inaction is opening the door to big box child care.

How can the government justify the hypocrisy of recognizing the excellence of well trained teachers, yet allow big box operators to enter Canada and specify in their ads that people without training can apply, as one company is doing in Air Canada's May issue of enRoute magazine?

What Canada really needs is a national child care system with standards that protect our children and ensure workers have decent working conditions.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

May 29th, 2008 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, Aung San Suu Kyi has now been held in detention for more than 12 years. On Tuesday the Burmese authorities once again extended Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest. Canada has repeatedly called on the Burmese regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners.

Canada has long been at the forefront of support for Burma's democratic movement. In October of last year, this House conferred honorary Canadian citizenship on Aung San Suu Kyi in recognition of her long and courageous struggle to bring freedom and democracy to Burma. Canada condemns the extension of her house arrest and calls for her immediate release.

On another front, I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Michel Sleiman on his recent appointment as the President of Lebanon. Our government welcomes President Sleiman's appointment.

On behalf of the Conservative government, I wish the Lebanese people success in their efforts to achieve peace and national unity.

Safe Drinking WaterStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, on this second ever National Day of Action the Assembly of First Nations has clearly identified that one of its priorities is to improve the living conditions of its children. This would include water quality.

That is why it is so disturbing to see a report last week by the Polaris Institute, the Assembly of First Nations and the Canada Labour Congress suggesting that water quality in first nations communities across the country has reached a boiling point. This report confirms that concerted efforts to improve first nations drinking water are but a drop in the bucket. According to the report, as of last month about 100 aboriginal communities across the country remain on drinking water advisories. This is appalling. First nations children deserve better.

The Conservative government cannot simply ignore this very real wake up call.

On this, the second National Day of Action we are calling on the government to immediately commit to do more to ensure first nations people across the country and not just their children have safe drinking water.

HousingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, as much as I would like to talk about the shameful state that the Liberals left first nations water and all the progressive work we have done to correct those issues, I am going to talk about housing today.

We are committed to ensuring that first nations people have the same opportunities as other Canadians and our government knows that housing is a key issue.

The government recently announced the opening of a $300 million first nations market housing fund that will offer the means for individuals and families living on reserve to build equity and generate wealth through home ownership. It is anticipated that up to 25,000 new homes over 10 years will be provided through this fund.

The Government of Canada also signed a historic memorandum of understanding with British Columbia and the First Nations Leadership Council agreeing to work together to develop a comprehensive approach to improve housing for first nations communities, individuals and families both on and off reserve.

We have made significant progress and will continue to work with first nations to deliver results. This government is getting the job done.

National Day of ActionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is the First Nations National Day of Action. The aim of this day of action is to raise public awareness regarding the important issues facing aboriginal peoples. The Bloc Québécois joins the first nations in calling on the Conservative government to finally take action.

The need for massive investment in aboriginal communities is well known. The Conservative government must work in partnership with first nations to help them protect their children, invest in their future and assume their respective responsibilities.

A number of projects are awaiting the government's response, including the “mission of 10,000 opportunities” proposed by the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, which happens to be demonstrating here today on Parliament Hill.

The Bloc Québécois supports these initiatives and urges the Conservative government to take immediate action.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader has some explaining to do. He has spent the last two years telling Canadians that he opposes a carbon tax, but now the flip-flopping Liberal leader has changed his mind. He has decided to punish hard-working Canadians by imposing a massive gas tax. He wants Canadians to pay even more to drive their cars and heat their homes. This on top of his threat to increase the GST and to eliminate the $1,200 per year child care benefit.

We on this side of the House are not the only ones who cannot believe the Liberal leader wants to do this. His own MPs are worried. They know that higher energy prices will hurt middle and low income Canadians, including seniors on a fixed income.

Under this Conservative government over three-quarters of a million jobs have been created. We have kept our promise and reduced the GST from 7% to 5%. The debt has been paid down and income taxes have been reduced.

This Conservative government is providing strong economic leadership and is standing up for Canadian families.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, Canada embarrassed itself on the world stage last year when the Conservative government opposed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Canada was one of only four countries in the world to oppose it when an overwhelming majority of countries, 143, voted in favour. Over 100 legal experts agreed that Canada did not have a legal basis to reject the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The government's opposition to the UN declaration went against the advice of its own officials. The government is hiding behind bogus arguments to defend its betrayal of Canada's aboriginal peoples.

Canada was once a leader on human rights issues. It is an international embarrassment that we would undermine the declaration at the UN. Now Canada is even blocking attempts to implement a similar document at the Organization of American States.

On this National Day of Action we are demanding that the Conservative government reverse its position and stand up for our rights.

Royal Military College Saint-JeanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I take great pleasure and pride in announcing, on behalf of the Conservative team in Quebec, that the Royal Military College Saint-Jean officially reopened on May 24.

In just 25 months in power, this government has kept its promise. This is further proof that the people in Montérégie can count on our government to deliver real results.

Once again, we see the powerlessness of the Bloc Québécois. For 12 years, the member who has achieved exactly nothing has been making empty promises about this. In 18 years in Ottawa, the Bloc Québécois in Saint-Jean has always come up empty. Bloc members measure their success by the number of questions they ask, but the record of achievements of the member for Saint-Jean will always be a big zero.

The Liberals could not accomplish anything, and the Bloc never will. Under the Conservatives, Quebec is growing stronger.

National Day of ActionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats are proud to stand in support and solidarity with first nations on today's National Day of Action. The growing poverty and loss of rights in first nations communities is a shame on our country.

First nations are calling on the government to work with them to protect their children and invest in the future.

In East Vancouver, the Urban Native Youth Association has been waiting for far too long for this government to provide funding for a much needed first nations youth centre. This government must stop shirking responsibility and make this important investment as soon as possible.

We call on this government to act on the tragedy of the missing women in the downtown east side and along highway 16. We call on the government to work with first nations for justice and an end to discrimination. We call on the government to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The NDP will not let up on holding this government to account to ensure equality and justice for the first nations people in Canada.

National Day of ActionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, for this year's National Day of Action, the Assembly of First Nations is putting a strong, clear focus on the plight of first nations children.

Sadly, children are paying a very high price for this government's failures. First nations children receive less funding for education per capita than many other Canadian children. First nations child welfare systems are underfunded, compared to provincial child welfare systems.

The national chief has put these issues in context, saying there are more first nations children in care today than there were students at the height of the residential school era.

Today's National Day of Action is about getting this minority Conservative government to acknowledge that the status quo is not acceptable. We call on this Conservative government to act immediately to address the real needs of first nations children and their communities. It is the very least that this government can do.

CensorshipStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, my Bloc Québécois colleagues and I are very concerned about the reasons for the dismissal of the assistant to the Conservative member for Cambridge. We are also concerned by the fact that Ms. Van Eyk provided an explanation not to justify the purchase of tickets for her personal use but to protect her boss's reputation. Talk about déjà vu.

The MP's assistant was actually fired for reserving tickets to attend the screening of a movie that the Conservatives do not seem to like because it is considered to be risqué. They believe that it is contrary to the public good. This incident confirms our fears regarding the thinly veiled censorship in Bill C-10.

The Bloc Québécois considers Ms. Van Eyk's firing as a confirmation of its members' fears regarding the Conservative government's desire for censorship in order to impose its bigoted moral view. Tartuffe, Molière's religious hypocrite, said, “Cover up that bosom, which I can't endure to look on.”

National Day of ActionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, today's national day of protest is no surprise. It is a direct result of the actions, and inactions, of that Conservative government.

The action was to break its promise to put the wheels on Kelowna. The inaction was to do nothing to replace the accord that it killed.

The absence of the Kelowna accord has left aboriginal people with few alternatives to address the issues of health, education and infrastructure in their communities.

In fact, conditions have worsened since last year's day of national protest; a shameful condemnation of the Conservative government. The Conservatives did not get the message. Aboriginal people in this country are frustrated; frustrated about needs unmet and frustrated about Conservative promises broken.

The minister has chucked aside their voices, chucked aside their hopes, and chucked aside their dreams of a better life. One would say that the minister has done sweet chuck-all.

The Conservative government promised to do more. Aboriginal people deserve better.

Leadership Campaign FinancingStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are wondering if Elections Canada will give special treatment to the Liberal Party by extending their deadline for paying back their leadership race loans.

Millions of dollars in loans were given to the Liberal leader and other Liberal candidates by rich, powerful elites for the campaigns during the Liberal leadership race over a year ago.

The Canada Elections Act states that candidates who receive loans during a leadership race must pay the loan back within 18 months. If the loan is not paid back by that deadline, it constitutes an illegal donation.

Today marks five days until June 3, the 18-month deadline. The former Liberal leadership candidates now have less than a week to pay back all their loans.

Elections Canada will have to decide very soon if it will give the Liberal Party special treatment by extending their repayment deadline.

Two questions: Will the Liberal leadership contestants break the law by ignoring the loan payback deadline, or will Elections Canada give special treatment to the Liberal Party and its leader?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, for at least five weeks, classified documents about our forces in Afghanistan and our allies at NATO lay open in a private house. The government has failed to explain how such a security breach was allowed to happen and then go undetected for five weeks at least. Its explanations are impossible to believe.

The government is either incompetent or it is covering up the truth. Which is it?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, such a security breach was not allowed. It was not permitted. That is why the minister of foreign affairs, when he took responsibility for the breach that occurred, tendered his resignation. That is why the Prime Minister accepted it.