Mr. Speaker, such excitement. For a moment I thought the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel would speak, but no. Maybe one day we will hear his voice in this House.
We are talking about an extremely important bill that aims to relieve the nuclear industry of its responsibility. Nuclear energy represents very real dangers. Because using nuclear energy to produce electricity is so dangerous, the Conservative government, which has no vision for sustainable development, wants to make things easier for companies should an accident occur.
What I am about to say may seem incredible, but to the south of us, in the United States, the limit on compensation that could be paid out for a nuclear accident is $10 billion. The Conservatives would like to set the limit at $650 million. However, we know that the total cost of damages from an accident like Chernobyl would be hundreds of billions of dollars. For a single accident. The proposed amount is obviously insufficient. It does not even represent 1% of the potential damages in the event of an accident, which is not something anyone wants to see happen, of course.
How did we get to this point? The answer is simple. For at least the past 13 years, the Liberals claimed they were doing something about sustainable development, but in reality they were not. They were all talk and no action, as is their habit. Although we do not agree with the Conservatives, at least they do not pretend to care about future generations. All they want to do is get as much as they can now, look after today and let tomorrow look after itself. That is their attitude, and it is reflected in all their decisions.
We are faced with a situation that came about through Liberal inaction: no vision, no plan for clean, renewable energy, no hydrogen, no wind power, no solar power or hydro. What we have instead is an attempt to promote nuclear power in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
I want to be very clear. The NDP is opposed to any new nuclear infrastructure in Canada. We find it regrettable that, instead of looking at potential energy sources—and what Quebec is doing is a perfect example—instead of developing clean, renewable energy sources, the government is relying on a technology that is more than 60 years old.
As I just demonstrated with the case of Chernobyl, in Ukraine, nuclear accidents can have devastating consequences. I am talking about damage in the hundreds of billions of dollars, as well as tens of thousands of deaths. Many people died immediately, as a direct result of the accident, but a huge number of people also developed cancer. By looking at the concentric circles emanating out to Europe from Chernobyl, we can even see changes in types of cancer 5, 10 and 15 years after the accident, which occurred about 20 years ago.
I am reading a book about Chernobyl and was interested to see that the accident prompted Gorbachev and Reagan to focus on the urgent need to work for peace. However, it seems as though these lessons—pursuing peace and working to eliminate the real danger of any form of nuclear energy, whether it be a nuclear weapon or, in the case of Chernobyl again, a series of reactors to produce electricity that could get out of control—are often lost.
Let us look at how extraordinary Canada is. It is the second largest country in the world, in terms of geographic area, with a small population of barely 35 million. In this country, solutions have varied over the years and generating electricity is a provincial and local responsibility. We could work, for example, with wind energy. Did you know that Quebec is heading toward a production of 4,000 megawatts? That means 4,000 times a million watts in wind energy. We have potential wind energy sites all across Canada, in other words, sites that are particularly favourable for generating wind energy, particularly in regions where first nations live.
Last week, quite rightfully, the government apologized for some of the harm caused to the first nations. What an incredible opportunity for us to have a vision of the future, to work with the provinces, which are primarily responsible, to provide incentives, including tax programs, to develop clean and renewable energy that comes from the wind.
If we combine wind energy with hydroelectricity, which is often a potential source of energy across Canada, we can, when weather and market conditions are suitable—why not export clean, renewable energy if we have it in abundance?—we can create something that is sustainable and also very useful for future generations.
Quebec's current finance minister, Monique Jérôme-Forget, recently went to different capital cities to explain the intrinsic value of Hydro-Québec, and I must admit that I more or less agree with her. She was talking about the wealth that can be created, but the Conservatives do not see it that way. To them, the only thing worth doing in Canada is to develop the oil sands in Alberta as quickly as possible and soon those in Saskatchewan, too.
In an extraordinary new book by Montreal journalist William Marsden, aptly entitled Stupid to the Last Drop, he considers the oil sands and recalls a historical fact. In the early 1950s, the suggestion was made that to get oil out of the oil sands in Alberta, it would be a good idea to set off atomic bombs here and there throughout that province. Plans were created and analyses carried out. It would not surprise me to learn that they actually tried that.
Something almost as stupid is now being proposed: the construction of a number of nuclear plants to generate the steam used to extract the oil from the tar sands. This is already an unsustainable situation. Natural gas is presently used to extract oil from tar sands. And the oil is being exported directly to the United States without any value added.
This is somewhat similar to the mistake made, generation after generation, with respect to our forests. My colleague just explained to us how ridiculous it was to sell out to the Americans. Even if there were real concerns about the sustainability of certain forestry practices, that did not at all justify, in light of NAFTA, giving away $1 billion just to settle the dispute. But that is what was done. We were directly exporting our forest products, while the value added, the processing, was done elsewhere, primarily in the United States. Most of the time, this is also true of ores and our other resources from the primary sector.
The same thing is happening with oil. The new Keystone project, just approved by the National Energy Board, proposes to export 200 million litres per day to the United States. Despite the problems of extracting the oil and the pollution that already exists in Canada, the errors will be stupidly compounded by exporting the oil in bulk to the United States, along with all the jobs in processing.
For the Keystone project alone, that amounts to 18,000 jobs that will be exported to the United States. The environmental problems will be placed on our shoulders and on those of future generations and the first nations. All the benefits will be exported. With regard to the obvious problem of NAFTA, we are creating a situation where the Americans can, under the NAFTA rules of proportionality, demand that we continue sending the same amount.
This bill exemplifies the Conservatives' lack of vision in terms of energy production. They have gone so far as to draft a bill to help the nuclear industry avoid its civil responsibility. It is outright shameful and I am very proud to be a member of the only political party that has the courage to rise in the House of Commons and to express its disapproval. I am very disappointed that the Bloc and the Liberals support the Conservatives in this matter.