Mr. Speaker, I am a little disappointed that there are not more members here when they knew that I would be making this speech. In any case, I will do my best. I know that the members who stayed are very interested in what I have to say.
In the first part of my speech, I was trying to give an overview of our environmental plan. I was talking about how we can avoid the nuclear industry by creating green jobs. Before going on, I would like to put all of this in the context of what I call political will.
Anything that comes from the government, such as bills and so on, can sometimes diminish the government's power and give more powers to large, multinational companies. What I am seeing is a struggle between big business and the will of the people. Bill C-5 is an example, because it sets a limit of $650 million, instead of truly protecting people and society.
I would also like to point out that this is all going on in the context of what I call the Friedman philosophy, which talks of privatization, deregulation and a government that is pulling out of programs for which it is responsible.
Before I continue, I would like to share with my colleagues a book, which no doubt some of them have read and if they have not, I am sure it would be good, depressing bedtime reading. The book is entitled The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein, in which she outlines exactly what I have been trying to get at, the role of the corporate sector in dismantling our societies, not only in our country but in the rest of the world.
In case I do not have time to continue in outlining our plan for the environment, I would like to give a few examples of what has happened in other countries of the world with regard to the nuclear industry.
For example, on April 10, 2003, in Hungary, partially spent fuel rods undergoing cleaning in a tank of heavy water ruptured and spilled fuel pellets at Paks Nuclear Power Plant. It is expected that inadequate cooling of the rods during the cleaning process, combined with a sudden influx of cold water, thermally shocked the fuel rods, causing them to split. Boric acid was added to the tank to prevent the loose fuel pellets from achieving criticality. Ammonia and hydrazine were also added to absorb iodine.
On April 19, 2005, in Sellafield in the United Kingdom, there was a nuclear material leak. Twenty metric tonnes of uranium and 160 kilograms of plutonium, dissolved in 83,000 litres of nitric acid, leaked over several months from a cracked pipe into a stainless steel subchamber at the THORP nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. The partially processed spent fuel was drained into holding tanks outside the plant.
Most recently, on March 6, 2006, in Erwin, Tennessee, 35 litres of a highly enriched uranium solution leaked during transfer into a lab at the Nuclear Fuel Services Erwin plant. The incident caused a seven month shutdown and required a public hearing on the licensing of the plant.
What we are seeing is the nuclear industry is by no means 100% safe. The fact that even if there is the slightest accident, this can cause havoc on the environment. As I was trying to point out earlier in my speech, this can cause irreparable damage also to the health of individuals.
There is an alternative, and I started to outline this alternative in my speech just before being stopped. At that time, I was speaking about the fact that, in addition to establishing a cap and trade system, we could create green jobs and also continue to make sustainable consumer choices more affordable.
We need a national energy plan that would make a better building retrofit and energy efficient strategy, which would constitute a groundbreaking, historic construction project for Canada in every community, creating thousands of new local jobs, making Canada a world leader in building efficiency skills in technology.
I referred to the fact that a few months ago, a Canadian solar power company was forced to set up shop in Germany because Germany was providing the Canadian company with incentives to develop this industry, where there were no incentives in our country. This is really a shame on our future and on our country, that we are not able to promote clean, efficient energy in our country.
I would like to go further and say that there are now approximately 12.5 million homes in Canada. Green Communities, an environmental organization involved extensively in residential home audits and retrofits, estimates that home energy efficiency improvements can result in greenhouse gas savings of four tonnes a year per house.
What is our strategy? Our strategy is a new program for retrofitting low income homes to replace the program that was cancelled by the government. We also want to expand and revamp the co-energy programs by providing low interest loans and improved grants for energy efficient home and building retrofits, modelled on the city of Toronto's successful better building partnership using revolving funds.
We also feel that we should amend the Canadian building code to add energy conservation and efficiency to the criteria.