Mr. Speaker, once again it is my pleasure to appear before a full House to speak to Bill C-5. I notice my friend, the hon. member for Prince Albert, who knew I was speaking, decided to listen to my speech today, and I thank him for that.
First, I want to zero in on Bill C-5, speak a little about it and try to put it the context of what we are dealing with when we look at energy.
In an overview of Bill C-5, the Conservative government is taking what some would say a cavalier toward nuclear safety, and this recklessness is being supported by the other two opposition parties.
The bill will shortchange ordinary Canadians who get sick and die from a nuclear accident, or may lose all they own because of contamination or lose a family member who dies from cancer or radiation sickness.
The $650 million cap on compensation is not sufficient. The United States has a limit of $10 billion. Germany has an unlimited amount. Many countries are moving toward unlimited amounts. No private insurance is available, and it has been estimated that a nuclear accident would cost billions of dollars in damage, personal injury and death.
Let us look at nuclear safety. Despite assurances from the nuclear industry, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Windscale all show that the potential for a nuclear accident is real. Later on, if I have some time, I will once again give an account of some of the accidents that have happened in this industry.
The safety of nuclear installations must be paramount. We have already seen the government willing to put the lives and property of Canadians at risk to keep unsafe nuclear reactors running.
The nuclear industry is not really a green choice, as opposed to what some people might want us to believe. Nuclear waste remains deadly for thousands of years.
A few weeks ago I gave a brief statement on depleted uranium and the effects it had on those who used weapons containing depleted uranium, not only the soldiers of those armies who use these weapons, but civilian populations in countries such as Iraq.
Canada exports uranium to the United States with supposed assurances that it will never be used for weapons. However, experts say that some of it actually creeps into depleted uranium weapons, which then endangers the lives of people in those areas.
The last time I spoke with regard to depleted uranium, I mentioned a film which graphically illustrated the damaging effects. I have asked the government to ensure that we become a leader in banning and abolishing all the depleted uranium weapons in the world.
A person exposed to a used nuclear fuel bundle will be dead within an hour. There is no long term storage solution that has been found for the waste. The processing of fuel and waste has resulted in widespread contamination requiring expensive cleanups, and I cite the example of Fort Hope, Ontario and Rayrock Mine in the Northwest Territories.
Before moving on, I will mention that some people on this continent and in the world are tracking nuclear power reactors and the effects they have on surrounding populations. It would be very wise for our government to explore the possibility of doing a comprehensive study, at least in our country, and perhaps coordinating it with our neighbours to the south, to see what effects there are on the health of people who live in the surrounding areas of nuclear reactors.
Approximately a month ago I met with Dr. Leuren Moret from the United States. She has been quite heavily involved in the nuclear industry and is one of the leaders in the world exposing the danger of depleted uranium. She has been coordinating and looking at studies that link the effects on health with nuclear reactors. In addition to cancer, there is some evidence pointing to the correlation between high rates of diabetes and the proximity to nuclear reactors. Whether this is in fact the case, whether this is science, I am not sure, but these concerns warrant an investigation.
Our country should take the lead on this and say that we will challenge the world to investigate the fact that some people may suffer and die from the effects of living too close to nuclear reactors. As we move on in this debate, this is one of the things at which we could look.
The answer is not in building more nuclear reactors. In the budget the government has been investing in nuclear energy. It seems there is quite a lot of money for nuclear energy, but very little for green alternatives, such as solar power, wind power, wave generation, geothermal and all kinds of things that truly are green clean sources of energy, which have very little impact and leave a much smaller footprint on our planet. The government should be supporting more of these sources of energy in our country.
If the passage of the bill allows the expansion of nuclear power in our country, it will be a big step backward for us in our quest to have a greener and cleaner energy source in many ways. We need to ensure that it not only does not create greenhouse gases, which it does not in that respect, but we need to look at if for other things, such as the waste, the mining that takes place and the tragedy, human and otherwise, to which I just alluded, that it could inflict if there were to be an accident.
It is not the green source of energy we should invest in so heavily. We should be thinking of much cleaner greener ways to go. I will outline a few points from our NDP plan for the environment in a few minutes.
Bill C-5 limits the total liability of a nuclear operator to $650 million, which is the bottom of the international average. This is not enough.
Before outlining some of the tragic instances of nuclear accidents that have happened, it is important for us to realize there is another way of conserving energy and making our planet much more conducive to the environment. One way is what our party has proposed, and that is a cap and trade system. This is a mechanism at the heart of the Kyoto protocol. In fact, both candidates for the president of the United States have embraced cap and trade, making it a key tool in the continental fight against climate change. Cap and trade has already been tested in Europe and the NDP's plan builds on the lessons learned there.
My colleague, the hon. member for Outremont. was at an OECD conference in Europe. He said that the Europeans were embracing cap and trade as the way to conserve energy and fight climate change. They were not holding on to the fallacy of trying to put a tax on carbon so ordinary people would suffer, as my colleague from Winnipeg Centre pointed out.
When we called on other parties to reject the Conservative's dead on arrival clean air act and work together to build better legislation, the resulting legislation was deemed a breakthrough bill by environmental groups. The centrepiece of the bill was a carbon pricing regime. However, that is not enough. In addition to this method, which works, we need to create jobs in the green environment sector.
We would propose a green collar jobs fund be established that would allocate $1 billion per year to train workers, displaced workers and new entrants to the job market, so they could be provided with the skills that would be necessary to power Canada into the new energy economy.
The green collar jobs fund would be used to leverage training apprenticeships and investment partnerships from provincial and territorial governments, from first nations, Métis and Inuit communities, and from the private sector. For my hon. Conservative friends I repeat, from the private sector.
High skills training would be needed for such areas as installing and maintaining energy efficient and renewable energy technology for alternative cars and fuels, manufacturing parts for wind turbines and other new energy technologies, and energy efficiency auditing expertise.
It is a shame that a Canadian solar power private enterprise has to go to Germany to set up business because there is not enough incentive available in our country. Parallel to this, tax breaks are being given to the big oil companies that are reaping billions of dollars in profits. Something in this equation is not right.
At the same time, as we see with this bill, we are limiting the amount of liability in a nuclear accident. As my hon. colleague who spoke before said, there is something wrong in this equation.
In the province of British Columbia, where I come from, we had BC Hydro in control of our public water and our power system. The current government in British Columbia is slowly dismantling the public trust of our waters and our energy and creating what it calls public-private companies to damn the creeks, create energy and sell it on the open market.
I want to emphasize the importance for senior levels of government to take the lead and the initiative. The time is gone when we could just sit back and say that we would let the market take over and let private enterprise run our energy system. It is up to each and every one of us to--