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House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was islamophobia.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. Excuse me. I will remind the member that he is to address the questions and comments to the Chair.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, I apologize.

What does the member have against shining a light on Islamophobia? What does the member have against the Muslim community that he would want to take away from a perfectly good motion that was already presented to the House?

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, I respectfully decline to answer the question. As someone who comes from the Middle East, I understand more than you do, the Islamic culture and religion. I could teach you a lesson in that. To tell me that I have something against Islam—

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. I will remind the member for Edmonton Manning to address the questions and comments to the Chair, and I would suggest that the member wrap it up soon.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, I completely reject that type of tone coming from the other side. That is not the way to talk to people. The last thing I need in life is for someone on that side to teach me about Islam and the Middle East, where I came from. Therefore, respectfully, I refuse to answer the question.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe that the member attributed some words and intentions to a member on my side of the House, and I am asking him to withdraw these comments, which are very inappropriate for the House.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I wonder if the member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington would—

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, I have been listening to the debate all day. I suspect if the member was fair, he would recognize that there were all sorts of comments throughout the day. If we were to say the member has a point of order here, one would be able to say there would have been a point of order—

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. A point of order has been raised here, so I am just wondering now if the member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington has anything to say at this point.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, I will withdraw the comment.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Madam Speaker, I find it fascinating to question ourselves. How did we get here, right here to this debate today?

In my riding of Pierrefonds—Dollard, Mr. Samer Majzoub, of the Canadian Muslim Forum, and I sat around, had a coffee, and discussed the concerns we had about rising Islamophobia. We looked at what we could do to shine a light and speak up against it. Together with his group, he came up with this petition. I will read the wording, because it is important:

Islam is a religion of 1.5 billion people worldwide. Since its founding more than 1400 years ago, Muslims have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the positive development of human civilization. This encompasses all areas of human endeavours including the arts, culture, science, medicine, literature, and more;

Recently an infinitesimally small number of extremist individuals have conducted terrorist activities while claiming to speak for the religion of Islam. Their actions have been used as a pretext for a notable rise of anti-Muslim sentiments in Canada; and

These violent individuals do not reflect in any way the values or the teachings of the religion of Islam. In fact, they misrepresent the religion. We categorically reject all their activities. They in no way represent the religion, the beliefs and the desire of Muslims to co-exist in peace with all peoples around the world.

We, the undersigned, Citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.

That is what happened.

At the time, this petition received the most signatures ever on an electronic petition in the history of Canada. In fact, it was double the previous ones.

Based on this petition, the fine leader of the NDP put forward a motion for unanimous consent. He asked that the House join the more than 69,742 Canadian supporters of the House of Commons petition e-411 in condemning all forms of Islamophobia. He asked for unanimous consent. He asked the House for unanimous consent to condemn all forms of Islamophobia.

Can members imagine what happened? The House agreed that yes, we condemn all forms of Islamophobia. The members on this side of the House said it, and the members on the other side of the House said it. The opposition said it, and the government said it. It was unanimous.

What came of that? The member for Mississauga—Erin Mills said she would put forward a motion to study how we could work on this problem. I will read her wording.

It said that the House “take note of House of Commons' petition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and...request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study”, a study only, “on how the government could develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing”, and this is really important, “or eliminating”, and at this point she did not want to restrict it to Islamophobia, “systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia”, but it would not be limited to Islamophobia.

A petition, a motion with unanimous consent, and a study. The only thing she is guilty of is expanding it.

Today we are debating another motion brought forward because the word “Islamophobia” was in the member for Mississauga—Erin Mills' motion. Today that word has to come out, because politics have been played, because it just cannot be.

I did not hear one member speak up, in the four months since they all agreed to condemn Islamophobia, to say that this word was terrible.

The fine gentleman, the member for Edmonton Manning, 10 minutes ago, said, “I oppose anything I do not understand”.

I am speechless. I do not understand how a member could vote for a motion that receives unanimous consent and, four months later, say she does not understand the word. I am shocked. I have to put it down to one thing: politics. Cheap politics, shameful politics, shameful, cheap politics.

I looked up “Islamophobia”. It is very simple. It means hatred or fear of Muslims. Arachnophobia is an irrational fear of spiders. If I am afraid of spiders, I am at least not afraid to say the word “arachnophobia”. I am a little afraid of spiders, but I can still say the word. It is not that scary. Conservatives seem to have a problem saying the word.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It being 5:15 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, February 21, 2017, at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to see the clock as 5:30 p.m.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Is it agreed?

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Madam Speaker, I speak French and I did not understand a word. Unlike members on the other side, I need to understand what I'm voting on.

Opposition Motion--Systemic racism and religious discriminationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I speak French and I understood the hon. member. I encourage the hon. member to use his earpiece.

The House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Formaldehyde EmissionsPrivate Members' Business

February 16th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rémi Massé Liberal Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) adopt regulations on formaldehyde emissions for composite wood products intended for indoor use that are sold, provided, or supplied for sale in Canada; and (b) ensure that these regulations are similar to US Environmental Protection Agency regulations enforcing the formaldehyde emissions standards in the US Toxic Substances Control Act Title VI in order to protect the health of Canadians who use these products.

Madam Speaker, I hope the debate we have here this evening, or late this afternoon, will allow us to have objective discussions that are perhaps a little less animated than what we saw in the dying minutes of the past hour.

Again, I am very pleased to rise today in the House to move Motion No.102 on a subject that is very important to me. The purpose of the motion is to ensure that we adopt Canadian regulations on formaldehyde emissions.

Formaldehyde is a toxic substance that originates, for example, in composite wood products that are used indoors and causes serious health problems.

I am the father of four young boys. Obviously my children's health, and the health of my family, is important to me. I must admit that, sometimes, I tend to go a little overboard when it comes to protecting my children's health. For example, I ask them to make sure they carefully wash the fruits and vegetables they eat. I sometimes even do it myself to help them. I also ask them to wash their hands really thoroughly. I turn off the WiFi every night before they go to bed.

Obviously, for their protection, I make sure they live in a safe environment. We own a home and, over the years, I have done renovations by installing floating flooring, a new kitchen, and new cabinets. Then, on a visit to a composite wood panel manufacturing facility during the election campaign, I learned that some foreign manufacturers use formaldehyde-based resins.

I was shocked because I thought that formaldehyde had been banned from all wood composite products. I thought that Canada had regulations to limit, reduce, or eliminate formaldehyde emissions. I was therefore extremely shocked to learn that Canada does not have any regulations or concrete measures in place to eliminate formaldehyde emissions.

When I did some digging to find out more about what kind of protection was in place and how to avoid formaldehyde emissions, I came across an article about Hurricane Katrina. I learned that the 2005 hurricane had some major consequences. People in Louisiana were evacuated, then relocated and housed in mobile homes. In the weeks following relocation, as they were settling into those mobile homes, people started getting sick. They were having respiratory problems.

Finally, after all kinds of tests, it came to light that those mobile homes were made with wood composites that contained formaldehyde. All kinds of legal action ensued in pursuit of compensation from the manufacturers that produced those products and built those mobile homes. In 2012, the disputes were settled.

In 2015, the American program60 Minutes investigated the matter and found that foreign manufacturers of composite wood panels were selling lots of formaldehyde-containing composite products to the U.S., such as floating floors. Therefore, 60 Minutes investigated further and found that no measures were in place to regulate formaldehyde emissions and that Americans were getting sick from exposure to formaldehyde emissions.

Obviously, the reaction of Americans was very negative. After the show aired, the U.S. government introduced very strict regulations in order to eliminate formaldehyde from composite wood products.

We are in the House today to ensure that Canada, which does not have such regulations or concrete measures to limit formaldehyde emissions, can adopt similar regulations. That is why I moved Motion No. 102. We will debate the elements of this motion.

As I was saying earlier, the objective of Motion No. 102 is to introduce Canadian regulations on formaldehyde emissions for composite wood products for indoor use that are sold, provided, or supplied for sale in Canada. These regulations should be similar to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations enforcing the formaldehyde emission standards in the Toxic Substances Control Act, Title VI, through a certification process to establish levels of formaldehyde in composite wood products.

It is important to note that U.S. regulations introduced last year will go into force in December 2017. That is an important factor to be considered in our debate. I will repeat that the U.S. regulations will go into effect in December 2017, which is in the months to come.

Once again, formaldehyde is a colourless gas that infiltrates the air in two different ways. It can enter the air through gas emissions from construction materials or household products, or from the combustion of these products. The effects of formaldehyde on health are known, have been studied for many years, and are well documented by Health Canada.

High concentrations of formaldehyde can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; cause breathing problems; and worsen asthma symptoms in children and infants. They can even cause cancer. That is why this gas was declared toxic in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

Formaldehyde is found in many construction materials made using composite panels. Composite panels are made using recycled wood residue, and these consumer products are becoming increasingly common in the everyday lives of Canadians.

These panels have many uses, including in the manufacture of furniture, desks, bookcases, kitchen cabinets, flooring, and toys. Formaldehyde comes primarily from the resin that is used as an adhesive in the manufacture of these composite wood panels and hardwood plywood.

As my colleagues may already be aware, Health Canada has developed general guidelines regarding indoor air quality in homes. Those guidelines set out maximum levels for two kinds of formaldehyde exposure: short-term and long-term exposure.

These guidelines also provide information regarding the known health effects of indoor air contaminants, sources of indoor air contaminants, the recommended exposure limits, and recommendations to reduce exposure to pollutants.

Although there is a formaldehyde emission standard for composite wood panels and hardwood plywood, CAN/CSA-0160, it is a voluntary standard. That is very important to remember. It is a voluntary standard. Manufacturers are under no obligation to abide by it like they would be if it were a regulation arising from legislation.

It is vital that we protect Canadians from the harmful effects of formaldehyde emissions from composite wood panels and hardwood plywood. As a result, the motion we are debating today is crucial and resolves problems that are not addressed in Canadian regulations. If this regulation is not adopted, the situation that I explained earlier could get worse when the American regulations take effect in December 2017.

The motion seeks to protect the health of Canadians who buy or use these products and ensure that Canadian consumers have access to high quality building materials.

The Canadian regulations must be consistent with the American ones. Here is why. On December 12, 2016, the United States published the final version of its national regulations on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products in order to protect the American citizens that purchase them. Once again, the health effects of this toxic gas are known and have been studied.

Any American or foreign manufacturer of composite wood wishing to sell or supply products to American consumers will have until December 12, 2017, to comply with the certification program and the new U.S. environmental requirements. Through these regulations, the United States has clearly indicated to manufacturers of composite panels that the health of Americans comes first.

Since the majority of Canadian manufacturers of composite panels have already made investments to ensure that their facilities meet the new U.S. standards, they will be able to continue exporting their products to the United States. Their operations will not be affected.

However, some foreign manufacturers of composite panels, who have not made the necessary investments in their operations to meet the new U.S. standards, will try to liquidate their products in countries that do not have such strict standards, such as Canada.

If that happens, the use of those composite panels, which have very high formaldehyde emissions, could obviously have serious effects on the health of Canadians who buy or use these products.

Canada needs to have a certification process that is similar to that of the United States in order to protect Canadian consumers by guaranteeing that the products they buy meet the highest standards of protection from formaldehyde emissions.

As I said, I am the father of four young boys, and their health is very important to me. Had I known that the products I bought in recent years contained formaldehyde, I would obviously have decided to buy something else.

As I said earlier, when I found out that Canada has no real measures to protect Canadians from the harmful effects of formaldehyde in the air, I decided to do something. That is why I came up with this motion and put it before the House. It is my duty as a father to safeguard the health of my children and my family.

If Canada does not adopt measures to protect Canadians from the health effects of formaldehyde, companies that manufacture composite panels that do not comply with U.S. standards could target the Canadian market to dump their products.

We must fix this problem and adopt regulations that are similar to American regulations, which are particularly strict. Once in place, those Canadian regulations will protect the health of Canadians.

By basing our standards on the American standards, Canadian regulations will limit the emission of formaldehyde, ensure that imported products meet the new Canadians standards, ensure correct labelling, ensure that all products are tested, and lastly, implement a certification process that will be done by accredited entities.

The composite panel manufacturing sector consists of 13 plants in Canada that are located in six different provinces. Seventy percent of its output is exported to the United States. This is an important economic sector that generates revenues of $3.4 billion.

Like many others who share my objective, I am very proud to have a plant in my riding that has adopted the highest standards when it comes to protecting the people of our region and all Canadians.

To summarize, I want to commend Canadian composite panel manufacturers on their leadership; they have made the investments needed to conform to the highest standards and limit Canadians' exposure to formaldehyde emissions.

Once again, I am pleased to present and table this motion in the House to help keep Canadians safe.

Formaldehyde EmissionsPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague for moving this very important and useful motion that could improve the health of Canadians.

Protecting Canadians' health and environment is indeed a federal responsibility. Health Canada, or my colleague's Liberal government, tabled updated guidelines to that effect on June 16, 2015, guidelines that were rather strict. For example, the guidelines on long-term exposure talk about 40 parts per billion, while in the U.S. it is 110 parts. These guidelines are better in Canada. However, as the hon. member said, these measures are not mandatory.

I congratulate my colleague for going beyond these guidelines. However, will the government agree to go ahead and make these measures mandatory?

Formaldehyde EmissionsPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rémi Massé Liberal Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for raising this question. Obviously, that is my goal. As I said, I hope that we can adopt Canadian regulations that will limit formaldehyde emissions in order to protect the health of Canadians.

We currently have one hour to debate this motion, which will eventually be put to a vote. What I would like is to get the support of all my colleagues in the House and also of the opposition side, of the Conservatives and the NDP. That is my objective and I really hope that we can all come to an agreement.

Formaldehyde EmissionsPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to point out the excellent work that my colleague opposite has done in preparing this motion. I know that he had to meet with people from the industry on several occasions. We are not used to dealing with files concerning standards, U.S. regulations, and Canadian regulations.

We are, however, familiar with the product in question. The composite wood panel manufacturing facilities in our regions and ridings are very important to us.

I wanted to ask my colleague a polite question. In the motion that he moved, he spoke about adopting standards that are similar to the American standards. Would he be amenable to talking about harmonizing the standards rather than making them similar? It is his speech. He can give us his answer shortly.

Formaldehyde EmissionsPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rémi Massé Liberal Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for his kind words. During the 16 years that I worked for the federal government, I had the opportunity to work in the regulatory field in various departments, such as the Department of Health and the Department of Justice. I worked on developing regulations.

Obviously, when I began looking into this issue, I made sure to find out everything I possibly could about formaldehyde emissions. I wanted to draft a motion that would hold together, one that made sense, so that it would get the support of as many members of the House as possible.

The goal is clear. It is to protect the health of Canadians and recognize the work that the industry has done to meet the highest standards. I thank my colleague. Obviously there is the matter of terminology, but I think that we agree on the meaning of the motion. I am therefore going to leave it at that.

Formaldehyde EmissionsPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak to Motion No. 102.

I want to commend our hon. colleague for the incredible work in putting together this motion. I have to admit that this is an issue that came up in my riding. We have organizations that have already started taking steps to adopt these regulations or at least the processes in place, and Motion No. 102 is a great start in recognizing this problem.

Motion No. 102 reads:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) adopt regulations on formaldehyde emissions for composite wood products intended for indoor use that are sold, provided, or supplied for sale in Canada; and (b) ensure that these regulations are similar to US Environmental Protection Agency regulations enforcing the formaldehyde emissions standards in the US Toxic Substances Control Act Title VI in order to protect the health of Canadians who use these products.

A concern we have, and industry has brought it up as well, is with the word “similar”. We recognize that this is a common-sense motion. We would like to see an amendment, as we would like to have language such as “align with” or “in alignment with”.

I received word from one of our major manufacturers of composite wood and plywood in my riding, one of the leading forestry product producers in Canada. It suggested that these regulations should be patterned on the U.S. formaldehyde emissions requirements, and more specifically patterned on California's very strict rules. I believe my hon. colleague has moved on this.

Our previous Conservative government has always taken a stance on controlling toxic substances that pose risks to human health. For example, it was a priority to pass the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, which banned the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles.

On December 12, 2016, the American Environmental Protection Agency published new regulations to reduce exposure to formaldehyde emissions from certain wood products domestically produced or imported into the United States. The EPA adopted California Air Resources Board regulations for composite wood products to ensure a consistent regulatory framework across the U.S.

Formaldehyde is used as an adhesive in a wide range of wood products, such as furniture, flooring, cabinets, bookcases, and building materials, including plywood and wood panels, as our hon. colleague mentioned. Composite wood products are made with pre-consumer, recycled wood residuals, which utilize 95% of the whole tree and also a significant majority of wood fibre, which is locally sourced. This is important, especially in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George where we are dependent on forestry.

Exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation; other respiratory symptoms; and even cancer. Formaldehyde in Canada is classified as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protections Act of 1999, CEPA, and it is regulated. However, if the Government of Canada decides to adopt EPA regulations, the use of formaldehyde in wood products would be subject to stricter regulation on finished wood products, like plywood, cabinet doors, and countertops.

It is important to note that Canadian exporters of composite wood products already adhere to the American and Californian standards voluntarily through the CSA Group to export into the American market. If Canada did not adopt this regulatory change or if we refused to adopt Motion No. 102, composite wood products entering Canada would be subject to less stringent formaldehyde regulations than Canadian exports to the United States.

This is also about jobs. It is not just a health issue, but a competitive advantage. It is about jobs here in Canada as well as products that could be flooding into our market from foreign countries, such as composite wood products from China.

I will reiterate for the record that this is a common-sense motion.

When we see so many topics come through the House, where the House can oftentimes be divided, this is one that hopefully will be supported by all members on all sides because it is a very common-sense motion. I want to bring it back to Canadian jobs. We need to always be mindful that it protects jobs within Canada. It also promotes jobs and job growth.

The composite panel industry supports Canadian jobs. Nearly 12,000 people across Canada are employed in this industry, many of them in rural communities like those in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George. In fact, the West Fraser production plant in Quesnel is a significant job creator and is a member of the composite panel industry and indeed one of the largest producers of this in Canada.

If Motion No. 102 does not pass, these jobs and jobs in my riding could be negatively impacted.

As members know, I am one of the fiercest proponents of getting a new softwood lumber agreement done as quickly as possible. With increasing protectionist rhetoric coming from our friends across the border, we need to do everything in our power to ensure our Canadian producers enjoy the same advantages as those who are in competition with them. If Motion No. 102 does not pass, those jobs and jobs in my riding will be negatively impacted.

Aligning Canada's regulatory framework with the United States on wood products containing formaldehyde will prevent the dumping of non-compliant EPA products into the Canadian marketplace. This will ensure Canada's wood product manufacturers maintain a competitive advantage, both domestically as well as internationally. In an ever-changing uncertain global economic environment, we need to seize every opportunity to ensure our forestry products and forestry producers remain competitive.

Here is a statistic for the House. Over 140 communities in my province of British Columbia are forestry dependent. Roughly 65,000 jobs depend on the forestry industry for their livelihoods and to put food on the table for their families. We currently do not have a softwood lumber agreement in place. This has been mentioned time and again, and I will continue to defend our forestry workers.

It is expected that tariffs will soon be levied on our Canadian producers that ship between Canada and the U.S. Prior to the Harper government coming to power, disputes on the softwood lumber had been simmering for more than 20 years. It reached a peak in May 2002 when the United States imposed duties of 27% on Canadian softwood. It was argued that Canada unfairly subsidized producers of spruce, pine, and fir lumber.

The trade war took a toll on Canadian jobs. While we like to tout our record in litigation, thousands upon thousands of people in the industry lost their jobs, including nearly 15,000 forestry workers in my home province of British Columbia.

A quote that was thrown around this chamber quite frequently was “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. Instead of negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement right out of the gate, we have seen inaction on this file and the Liberal government has chosen to put it on the back burner and instead put false promises as well as false deadlines forward.

That is where we stand today, with no deal and our high-quality, well-paying forestry jobs at risk. One certainty we do have is knowing from the experiences of the last four trade wars that this one will not end well. Regardless of where we move with our softwood lumber agreement, there will be losers.

Canadians need results from the government that include protection of almost 400,000 jobs from a new softwood lumber agreement. From conversations I have had with them, Canadians are rightly worried because it is clear there is no plan to protect the high-paying jobs that are created in Canada as a result of NAFTA, including 550,000 auto sector jobs, 211,000 aerospace jobs, and our oil and gas, mining, and forestry jobs.

We need the Liberal government to start recognizing the importance of our rural economies as the backbone of the national economy. The Conservative Party stands for our hard-working families employed in the resources sector. Oftentimes these individuals are working 12 to 14-hour days doing back-breaking, labour intensive jobs in all kinds of unpredictable weather. They work hard to put food on their tables, and we stand with them.

Making a small, common sense change to tweak legislation that is already voluntarily acted upon is a good move, and that is why we will support Motion No. 102.

Formaldehyde EmissionsPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Motion No. 102 moved by my colleague from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia. I will read his motion because it is worthwhile to do so:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) adopt regulations on formaldehyde emissions for composite wood products intended for indoor use that are sold, provided, or supplied for sale in Canada; and (b) ensure that these regulations are similar to US Environmental Protection Agency regulations enforcing the formaldehyde emissions standards in the US Toxic Substances Control Act Title VI in order to protect the health of Canadians who use these products.

As my colleagues mentioned a few moments ago, the problem with the existing guidelines is that they are not mandatory and we should therefore strengthen the protection of Canadians. I will first explain in lay terms what formaldehyde is. We do not use this word every day, but it could be useful in a game of Scrabble.

Formaldehyde is a colourless gas that is emitted primarily by household products, as well as wood products, and can be found in composite panels, for example. Certain products give off this gas, which can be toxic. It can cause a burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat as well as respiratory problems. Very high concentrations can even cause certain kinds of cancer. It is a toxic substance that cannot be ignored.

The problem we have had for many years now, both with the Conservative government and more recently with the Liberal government, is that they have a tendency to introduce guidelines with voluntary compliance. They bring in guidelines and advise companies to meet certain standards, but these are not mandatory.

I congratulate my colleague on his motion, because it specifies that we should have mandatory standards. We already have regulations that Canadian business owners follow. The problem is that we do not have mandatory regulations.

While a standard does exist regarding formaldehyde emissions from composite panels and hardwood plywood, it is applied on a voluntary basis only. As a result, it is not necessarily applied at all, because it is not mandatory.

Things are different in other countries, such as the United States, where careful consideration recently resulted in stricter rules. In 2007, California passed regulations to reduce the public's exposure to formaldehyde.

The regulations phased in emissions standards for laminated composite materials and flooring. The first standard, stipulating 210 parts per billion, came into force in January 2009. The second, which came into force in January 2011, allowed a maximum formaldehyde concentration of 110 parts per billion.

The United States has ramped up work on this issue. Our American neighbours recently had other concerns about products manufactured outside the U.S. that began flooding the market because they were cheap. They contained much more formaldehyde than the standards allowed.

Now all companies that want to sell or manufacture these products for American consumers have until December 12, 2017, to comply with the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products. U.S. regulations have clearly improved over time.

One might well ask whether the Canadian industry that builds these wood panels would suffer if our regulations were similar to those of the United States.

The answer is no. To continue exporting to the United States, Canadian manufacturers have already made substantial investments in their facilities in order to comply with and even exceed U.S. environmental standards. Canadian companies are already prepared to meet mandatory standards even though the standards are currently voluntary.

Canadian manufacturers are prepared. As other hon. members mentioned, we would be penalized if we did not have firm and mandatory regulations because manufacturers from other countries might export and sell their wood products here, products that would contain a greater quantity of formaldehyde than what is recommended and acceptable for health.

Canada's recommendations are much stricter than those of the United States, as I said earlier in one of my questions. For example, for long-term exposure, Health Canada recommends a maximum of 40 parts per billion, while in the United States it is 110 parts per billion. This recommendation seeks to ensure the well-being and health of Canadians.

The motion proposes that we take an approach similar to that of the United States. However, I completely agree with my colleague that we should do more than what the U.S. recommends, because Health Canada recommends 40 parts per billion, while in the U.S. it is 110 parts per billion. We could do more and have guidelines.

The fact that my colleague is introducing this bill is good news, but it is also surprising because on June 16, 2015, Health Canada issued an update to the residential air quality guideline for formaldehyde.

In fact, about a year and a half ago the Liberal government provided updates and adopted stringent guidelines that follow Health Canada's recommendations for the well-being, health, and safety of Canadians. However, they are voluntary, which unfortunately was often the case under previous Conservative governments and now under the current Liberal government.

I congratulate my colleague for this measure that goes above and beyond what the government did in 2015, which was somewhat disappointing. This approach is a step in the right direction.

I hope that the next set of regulations and changes made by the Liberal government will be mandatory and not consist of guidelines that companies may or may not follow according to the whims or goodwill of their managers or boards of directors.

Once again, I think this is a very good motion, and I will be very pleased to vote for it.

Formaldehyde EmissionsPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier in the debate I made a comment toward the member for Calgary Forest Lawn, which I feel was inappropriate. I would like to retract that and apologize.