Motion No. 1
That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 21.
Motion No. 2
That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 22.
Motion No. 3
That Bill C-5, in Clause 23, be amended by replacing lines 23 and 24 on page 7 with the following:
“contains nuclear material, financial security to”
Motion No. 4
That Bill C-5, in Clause 24, be amended by deleting lines 39 to 42 on page 7 and lines 1 to 18 on page 8.
Motion No. 5
That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 26.
Motion No. 6
That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 30.
Motion No. 7
That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 32.
Motion No. 8
That Bill C-5, in Clause 34, be amended by deleting lines 15 to 23 on page 11.
Motion No. 9
That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 47.
Motion No. 11
That Bill C-5, in Clause 61, be amended by replacing lines 23 to 31 on page 16 with the following:
“Majesty in right of Canada the total of all amounts paid by the Minister under this Act.”
Motion No. 12
That Bill C-5, in Clause 62, be amended by deleting lines 19 to 26 on page 17.
Motion No. 16
That Bill C-5, in Clause 66, be amended by deleting lines 3 and 4 on page 19.
Motion No. 17
That Bill C-5, in Clause 66, be amended by deleting lines 7 to 9 on page 19.
Motion No. 18
That Bill C-5, in Clause 66, be amended by deleting lines 10 to 12 on page 19.
Motion No. 21
That Bill C-5, in Clause 68, be amended by deleting lines 1 to 3 on page 20.
Mr. Speaker, after many months, the government is again bringing forward Bill C-5, the nuclear liability and compensation act. In the intervening times, different types of issues on the nuclear liability front have arisen and a full interest in this issue has been heightened over the period of time involved.
No one in any party wants to stand in the way of good legislation or to stand in the way of the things that need to be done for Canadians. While we supported the bill at second reading to get it to committee and to look at the types of issues that needed to be dealt with within the nuclear liability context, the results were less than what we felt were essential for Canadians.
As a member of Parliament from the Northwest Territories, the people I represent have had much experience with nuclear contamination over the years. Even though our numbers are very small, we have had that experience and we understand the results of that.
We have a community in the Northwest Territories called Deline. It used to be called Fort Franklin. It also was called the village of widows because it was on the shores of Great Bear Lake where the first mining for uranium took place in Canada on a large scale. The Port Radium mine brought lots of yellowcake out there. It was handled by the people in the community to a great extent. Even today we have not seen the end of this incident. We are in Port Radium cleaning up the mine. The people of Deline have gone through countless years of anguish over the results of what happened in that nuclear industry.
When we talk about nuclear liability and the need to protect individuals from the results of nuclear accidents and contamination spills, we in the Northwest Territories have a track record that we go back to. We know what the track record has been with other Canadian governments. The fact that we are still at a $650 million liability limit for nuclear installations in this country, in this day and age, strikes me as being the clearest indicator that work has not been done in this field.
As well, when it comes to more recent examples of contamination that have occurred in the Northwest Territories, I refer back to Cosmos 954 where we had a very small nuclear reactor in a Russian satellite that burned up over the Northwest Territories. The contamination from that unit was spread over 14,000 square kilometres. In fact, it required intensive searches by trained professionals throughout all our communities to locate very small amounts of nuclear contamination and eliminate them. It was a very expensive process.
What it showed us was how difficult it is to deal with nuclear contamination, how long the issues last and how long this goes on for in our society once there is a nuclear accident.
We felt that more work needed to be done on this bill. We put forward a number of amendments at committee but they were rejected by the Conservatives, the Liberals and, to a great extent, by the Bloc, which brings us here today with the amendments that we have in front of this House right now.
One of the key amendments that we are looking for is to take out any limit on nuclear liability. Unlimited amounts would probably be the preferred method to deal with it, just as Germany does. It has an unlimited liability on nuclear facilities. That means that whatever the costs are, when there is an accident those who are responsible for the plant will need to pay those costs.
The $650 million limit set in this bill pales next to that of our major trading partner, the United States of America, which has an $8 billion to $10 billion liability ceiling on its nuclear facilities. Most of our nuclear facilities are located in highly populated areas in southern Canada, areas similar to where the nuclear facilities are located in the United States.
Why should we think that our situation is remarkably different from the situation in the United States? Why should that be part of the equation? Is it because if we set the limit to where it should be, the nuclear industry would have to reflect the true costs of doing business in this country? If we set the ceiling at $650 million, would we be giving the industry another break and Canadians would not have a clear indication of the issues surrounding the industry and the associated costs?
The Conservatives are taking a very cavalier attitude toward nuclear safety. We saw that before Christmas. I do not want to denigrate the effort Parliament made with respect to the issues surrounding Chalk River, but it showed how much trouble we have working on issues around nuclear safety in this country. We saw the method by which these very serious issues were derailed by the government by its failure to pay attention to them. We saw the blame game that was played with the Nuclear Safety Commission.
Those things all stand out as stark examples of why we have to be very careful with the kind of legislation we are dealing with here today. We need to protect Canadians. The first and foremost job of this institution is to protect and enhance the lives of Canadians. This bill does not accomplish that.
Many of these amendments speak to the difficult time Canadians would have in trying to achieve compensation if there was a nuclear accident. Many of the proposed amendments would make it better for Canadians to get the compensation they should be entitled to receive. The amendments would make sure that all the issues surrounding a nuclear contamination incident would be addressed. They would assure Canadians about the compensation they would receive and that they would not be tied up in court forever trying to get that compensation.
Those are some of the issues that have brought us to this point. The NDP is not trying to obstruct Parliament. We are trying to get these issues out front for Canadians to make sure they understand what is at stake here with this nuclear liability bill. We are not going to simply push it forward so that some other restructuring in the nuclear industry can take place. We are not going to simply push it forward so the nuclear industry can be assured that it will not be judged by U.S. standards when there is a contamination accident and might be judged by these much softer Canadian standards.
These are all issues behind the legislation. These are all reasons that the legislation appeared when it did. We agreed that there was a need to move ahead with better nuclear liability provisions. We had hoped for a fulsome and useful debate in committee where we could put forward the correct type of amendments, but that did not happen, and that has brought us to this stage here in the House of Commons.
I urge all members to take a look at what we are doing here. I urge them to consider the amendments and to consider the spirit in which they have been presented.