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37th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 198

CONTENTS

Tuesday, June 4, 2002





CANADA

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 137 
l
NUMBER 198 
l
1st SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, June 4, 2002

Speaker: The Honourable Peter Milliken

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayers



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1000)  

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

  (1005)  

Committees of the House

Public Accounts 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 23rd report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in chapter 7, “Canada Customs and Revenue Agency--International Tax Administration: Non-residents Subject to Canadian Income Tax”, of the December 2001 report of the Auditor General of Canada.
    I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 24th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in chapter 2, “Recruitment for Canada's Future Public Service: Changing the System”; and chapter 3, “Recruitment for Canada's Future Public Service: Changing the Practices“, of the December 2001 report of the Auditor General of Canada.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to these two reports.

[Translation]

Petitions

Government Contracts  

    Mr. Speaker, for the second day in a row, I rise to table a petition in the House. This morning again 35 people consider this government to be corrupt.
    The petitioners are asking that parliament call a public inquiry to get to the bottom of the whole issue of sponsorships in Canada, and the companies involved such as Groupaction. Recent statements show that they are not totally beyond reproach.
    So here are 35 more people who join previous petitioners in calling on the government to hold that public inquiry.

  (1010)  

[English]

Child Pornography  

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have three petitions to present today. Two of the petitions deal with the issue of protecting our children in Canada.
    The petitioners call upon parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sadomasochistic activities involving children are outlawed.
    One petition contains 50 names and the other contains 44 names.

Marriage  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to table another petition with 125 names. It calls upon parliament to uphold the motion presented some time ago that reaffirmed that marriage must be between a male and a female.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 147 and 148.

[Text]

Question No. 147--
Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick:
    Regarding the current trade issues with the United States with respect to the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB): (a) what percentage or proportion of the legal fees and costs incurred by the CWB will the federal treasury absorb; (b) is there any portion not covered by the federal treasury; and (c) is this consistent with the federal government's position with respect to other industries and sectors such as Bombardier?
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.):
    (a) Nil.
    (b) Yes.
    (c) The federal government's policy is that Canadian stakeholders that participate with the government in foreign trade law cases assume their own legal costs. Thus, the Canadian Wheat Board has assumed any legal costs it might have incurred related to its participation in the recently completed section 301 investigation by the United States, while the federal government assumed its own legal costs incurred during that investigation. A trading partner that wished to challenge Canada's trade policies in respect of the Canadian Wheat Board would bring its challenge against the Government of Canada as the signatory to the relevant international trade agreement.
Question No. 148--
Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick:
    With regard to the provision of certain paid prescription drugs by Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada for aboriginals in Canada: (a) why have certain drugs been delisted; (b) is there a plan to coordinate with the various stakeholders to ensure that Treaty Indians receive coverage through alternative sources such as provincial health plans; (c) if not, is this consistent with the government's commitment to ensuring that all Canadians have access to essential health services?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Health, Lib.):
    Drugs are delisted from the non-insured health benefits, NIHB, drug benefit list when:
    (a) the drug has been discontinued from the Canadian market; new products possessing clearly demonstrated therapeutic and safety advantages or improvements have been listed; new toxicity data shift the risk-benefit ratio to make the continued listing of the product inappropriate; new information demonstrates that the product does not have the anticipated therapeutic benefit; the purchase cost is disproportionate to the benefits provided; and, the drug has a high potential for misuse or abuse.
    (b) The NIHB program was established to assist in addressing the poor health status of first nations and Inuit people. Where the provinces/territories have not specifically excluded first nations and Inuit from drug plans and programs, AIDS, Methadone, the program does co-ordinate the funding.
    (c) The provision of drug benefits to first nations and Inuit groups, as stated in the 1979 Indian health policy, is a shared responsibility between the federal, provincial, territorial governments and first nations and Inuit. The provinces and territories, through their drug plans, ensure access for provincial residents. The NIHB program meets that responsibility for first nations and Inuit people. We work closely with the provincial and territorial drugs plans in the listing of benefits, and through activities such as the common drug review announced by the premiers in January 2002. In doing so the premiers directed their health ministers to develop common recommendations for the approval of all new drugs to be covered under federal, provincial and territorial plans by the end of August 2002.

[English]

    I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Points of Order

Standing Committee on Transport  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order regarding a notice of a meeting of the newly created transport committee. The notice has the committee meeting this morning at 11 a.m.
    As you are aware, the transport committee was established on May 27 via a motion that created two committees, the transport committee and the estimates and government operations committee.
    The motion provided for the procedure and House affairs committee to prepare and report to the House, within five sitting days of the adoption of the order, lists of members to compose the new standing committees. Such a list has not been prepared or reported to the House.
    As you are aware, committees meet at the call of the clerk when an organization committee is required, by the call of the chair, or when a committee so desires to meet. The meeting is not an organization meeting and if it is there is no membership. Also, 48 hours' notice is required. It cannot meet by the call of the chair because it has no chair. It cannot meet by a decision of the committee because the committee has never met.
    I can only conclude from this notice that Liberal arrogance is once again at play here and its disrespect for this institution is confirmed by this notice.
    In April the Library of Parliament held a briefing on the estimates. At the briefing, it was stated that there was to be a new committee on the estimates to be chaired by the member for Winnipeg South. How did the library get the impression that such a committee existed one month before the motion establishing the committee was adopted by the House? How did it conclude that the member for Winnipeg South was to be its chairman?
    As usual, it is presumed that if the Liberal leadership desires something it is only a matter of formality that the House of Commons gets involved.
    Once again it is this dismissive view of the role of this House that is at issue here and it is unacceptable.
    The only notice I want to see is one for the organization of the transport committee but I insist on 48 hours' notice. I do not want to be told who the chairman is until the committee decides who the chairman is. That goes for the new estimates committee as well.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's point of order and I want to correct one thing. He made reference to the fact that it had been suggested that I would be the chair of that committee. That question was put to me also and I specifically said that was not the case. I have said it twice on television and in other forums.
    I was involved in some of the thinking, as were other members, in how this committee might be created and that is all.
    The Chair will look into the matter raised by the hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast. I appreciate his diligence in bringing this matter to the attention of the Chair. I will examine the situation and report back to the House if necessary in due course. This is a surprise to me and I will have to look into it.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1015)  

[Translation]

Nuclear Safety and Control Act

    (for the Minister of Natural Resources) moved that Bill C-57, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    He said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a few words on Bill C-57, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

[English]

    It gives me great pleasure to stand before the House today in support of amending subsection 46(3) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. This is a one clause bill. The amendment would clarify the wording in subsection 46(3) of the act.

[Translation]

    According to the present wording of subsection 46(3), the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission can order the owner or occupant “or any other person with a right to or interest in the land” to take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.
    This wording is an anomaly that must be corrected. Its consequence, unintended of course, is to require lenders to also assume responsibility for decontamination of the site, the same way as the owners and administrators.

[English]

    As a result then, this subsection has discouraged the private sector interest from lending to the nuclear industry. Obviously no one ever wanted to create a condition that would deprive the industry from funding to continue to do its work.
    The industry is a vital component of the Canadian economy. It includes electrical power plants, uranium mines, refineries, laboratories, universities and hospitals that use nuclear material to diagnose and to treat disease.

[Translation]

    The proposed amendment clarifies subsection 46(3) by deleting the words I have just mentioned, which I shall repeat, “or any other person with a right to or interest in the land” and replacing them with “who has the management and control of the affected land”.
    It also defines the risk for lending institutions. A lender that assumed management and control of a nuclear facility would be subject to this subsection.

[English]

    No other industrial or power generation sector is encumbered by a federal provision of this nature that discourages its access to bank lending of any kind. The nuclear industry must have access to commercial credit to finance its needs like any other sector. This amendment would allow the nuclear industry to attract capital markets and equity. At the same time we have all the mechanisms in place to ensure that nuclear facilities are managed in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

[Translation]

    Since governments encourage the private sector to get more involved in the acquisition and administration of facilities in all sectors of energy, companies operating nuclear facilities must have access to the same sources of financing as do others.
    Let us not lose sight of the fact that companies need banks and other financial institutions in order to attract the capital they will need to finance present and future operations.
    “Other financial institutions” can sometimes refer to union funds, pension or other funds. These are all capital that might be used for this purpose.

[English]

    Therefore we must then be fair and consistent. We must ensure that all companies have an equal opportunity to conduct their business and to better position themselves in the marketplace. At the same time we must ensure that these companies are fully responsible for environmental stewardship.
    This approach maintains the authority of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to take the necessary measures for site remediation against those who have management and control. That is not removed. I say this so that all hon. members will be aware.

  (1020)  

[Translation]

    It will also not weaken Canada's stringent licensing and control system, which has been designed to protect Canadians' health, safety and security, as well as the environment.
    All parties stand to benefit from this bill. The nuclear industry will be on an equal footing with the other industrial and energy production sectors. In parallel, the responsibility for cleaning up a site will be clearly assigned to the owner or those who assume management or control of the site.

[English]

    Clearly this is a good governance bill and with that in mind I would ask all hon. members to join me in supporting the bill's immediate passing.
    If later today members would agree, it would be highly appropriate, given the popularity of this measure for the industry, if we could do more than one stage today. Perhaps we could even entertain to do all stages. I am not proposing that by formal resolution right now in the House. I understand that some hon. members have not yet agreed to this proposal but perhaps upon reflection we could do that later this day. If not, then I hope the bill passes swiftly and after review in committee that we could pass the report stage and third reading, send it to the other place and hopefully have the legislation assented to before the recess, which is likely to come sometime soon.
    I thank hon. members in advance for the support they will give to this measure.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-57. I am disappointed but not surprised that the bill had to come to the House at all. It should not have been necessary. After all the Liberals have a long tradition of failing to deliver the goods when it comes to the needs of Canadians. We have seen this over and over again. The truth is Canadians deserve better.
    Although there are many changes occurring within the ranks of the government and weekly cabinet shuffles, we cannot expect the Liberals to make progress too quickly. Surely it would be simply unheard of for a bill that is as badly needed as this one is to get to the House in a timely fashion, ensuring the due diligence of the legislation has sufficient time.
    The government and the industry have been aware of what I will refer to as a mistake for two years now. The government has had two years to correct it. Why the government waited until now to bring it to the House and then ask the House to consider all stages in one day is beyond me. It was not necessary and it should not have happened.
    As we have seen with past practices of the government, we are rushing through the legislation at the end of the session, within days or weeks of adjournment for the summer. That puts the opposition in a very difficult position as a result of the government's actions. Either we rush the bill through to ensure its passage before the summer break or we do not comply and the nuclear industry will be unable to achieve the financing it so desperately needs.
    The nuclear industry has been waiting two years for a seven word amendment. We find ourselves ignoring the needs for a measured and accountable debate because either the government is embarrassed, as it should be, by this obvious misstep or the government is in a hurry to close business for the summer. Canadians deserve better.
    The truly sad thing about this exercise is that in reality the amendment should never have been required. All sorts of justifications have been offered as to why the original legislation includes a problem that could make lenders liable for the clean up of a nuclear spill. The truth is that it was a foolish oversight by the bureaucrats who drafted the bill, a foolish expensive oversight that has cost the nuclear industry millions in delays and/or potential loss of domestic and international financing.
    I have long advocated a simple change in this place that would have avoided this. I have referred to this over and over again for the last nine years. We in this place have a committee process that allows all party committees of the House to examine issues and, if necessary, to call the best expert witnesses from all over the world to testify. After hearing all the expert witnesses and having access to that knowledge and understanding of the issues, the government could have the committee draft the amendment or bill before it comes to this House, with the backup of that expertise and the involvement of the justice department and the bureaucracy of government as well at the committee. If it did that, we would not get into these situations.
    Instead committees spend days, weeks, months and sometimes years examining issues. The endangered species legislation and human reproductive technologies are just a couple that come to mind. We spent months examining and listening to the best people who came to committee to talk to us. Then the bills went somewhere into the nameless, faceless bureaucracy where they were drafted, ignoring all that testimony and expertise that was brought to committee.

  (1025)  

    That should not be. It should not happen that way. It would not need to happen that way if the government was serious about doing the best job it could in this place on behalf of Canadians. I hope somewhere down the road a change takes place and it is done that way. However the way things work around here it will probably be long after all of us are gone. I will come back to the issue a little later in my presentation, but from what I have seen in my nine years here the expression “The more things change, the more they stay the same” is appropriate. It seems to be the only way this place operates.
    The current embarrassment is the result of another humiliating embarrassment to the nuclear regulating bodies. There were serious safety problems in Ontario Hydro's nuclear reactors, problems the Canadian nuclear regulator should have known about and taken action to correct. Instead, an American consultant hired by Ontario Hydro identified the problem and has since shut down a number of Ontario Hydro's reactors.
    In an effort to rectify the deficiencies in the existing regulatory regime we went through a process two years ago of restructuring the Canadian nuclear safety and control bureaucracy. Bill C-57 is an amendment to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act that would fix the problem with subsection 46(3) of the current act, a problem which should have been recognized by the drafters of the bill at the time.
    Subsection 46(3) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act prevents owners and operators of Canadian nuclear facilities from obtaining debt financing. It represents a significant barrier to any form of domestic or foreign investment in the nuclear industry in Canada. It puts the Canadian nuclear industry at a substantial competitive disadvantage internationally. This is because it provides that where the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission believes a site may be contaminated in excess of prescribed limits, the commission may conduct a public hearing. After the hearing, if the commission concludes that contamination exists it may take action to:
--order that the owner or occupant of, or any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.
    The subsection means there is unlimited liability for the cleanup of environmental contamination for anyone with a legal right to or interest in the contaminated land or facilities. This includes mortgage lenders and other security holders. The provision is unique to the nuclear industry. It does not appear in any other federal or provincial environmental legislation.
    Subsection 46(3) goes so far as to make passive investors such as mutual fund holders, pension fund holders, private shareholders, and lenders such as banks liable for the costs of cleanup. It is obvious why the nuclear industry has been having such a terrible time arranging for financing since the bringing into force of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act two years ago.
    Subsection 46(3) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act goes far beyond the common law principle of liability and the provisions of provincial and federal legislation. In all other such environmental legislation, lenders and other security holders are not exposed to such levels of liability unless they exercise their security and assume management and control of the secured assets.
    I find it difficult to believe that the individuals who drafted the original legislation could not foresee this complication in the form of the current act. The problems inherent in the legislation are obvious. The argument has been made that the original wording may have been intended to address the issue of orphaned sites; that is, when companies operating facilities, usually mining, have gone bankrupt and walked away from remediation thus leaving the federal and provincial governments with the cleanup responsibilities.
    It strikes me as odd. If this kind of situation is almost exclusively found in the mining industry, why would the government hamstring the nuclear industry with this provision? As we have seen, sometimes the most obvious problems escape the notice of the Liberal government until the problems become so significant it finally is forced into action.
    The way to protect the public purse from companies declaring bankruptcy or disappearing and abdicating responsibility for reclamation is to require as part of the licensing process adequate bonding of the company to cover the costs of cleanup in the event the company becomes insolvent.

  (1030)  

    When we consider the ramifications of subsection 46(3) it is easy to understand why banks and potential investors have been running in the opposite direction at the thought of investing in the Canadian nuclear industry. After all, what bank or lending institution would impose that kind of liability on its shareholders?
    The change to the wording of the subsection as proposed in the amendment would bring the Nuclear Safety Control Act in line with other environmental legislation. Changing the phrase “a right to or interest in” to “management and control of” would ensure liability for the cleanup of nuclear spills remained with the owners and producers of nuclear facilities rather than saddling private sector investments and their clients with the uncertainty and potential huge costs of cleanup.
    The Canadian Alliance supports private sector involvement in the financing of the nuclear industry to keep government involvement and public funding of such projects to a minimum. I have long had a problem with the conflict situation in which the Canadian government is both the sales agency for Canada's nuclear technology such as the Candu reactor and the sole regulator of the nuclear industry and nuclear research in the country. The situation makes us vulnerable to compromises in the safety and regulatory body in favour of the commercial side of the industry. In the past I sponsored a private member's bill to split responsibility between different ministers and departments.
    The Canadian Alliance also supports reducing barriers that impede private sector competitiveness at a time when all forms of cleaner fuel must be considered. If the nuclear industry is to be part of the energy mix of the country it is imperative that it is kept on the same playing field as other energy industries in Canada. I am not convinced nuclear energy is the answer to Canada's clean air challenges but that is a debate for another day.
    I support allowing the nuclear industry to attract investors and thereby make investment decisions and plans for the future development of the industry on both the domestic and international fronts. Like many energy industries, the nuclear industry requires a huge amount of funding to remain viable. It must be able to make accurate long term plans to remain stable and attract private sector investment. Continuing uncertainty regarding the availability of financing could jeopardize not only the substantial economic spinoff benefits of such investment for Canadian nuclear manufacturers but also the jobs of thousands of Canadian workers.
    Passage of the amendment is critical to the revitalization of Ontario's electrical industry. As the amendment falls in line with Canadian Alliance policy we will be supporting passage of the bill. However although we support the bill we do not support the government's hijacking technique to ensure speedy passage of it. There is no reason the amendment could not have been tabled a month ago, gone through all the appropriate stages of consideration and been passed by session's end.
    The government must be embarrassed to feel the need to delay such an important amendment to one of its own acts. Perhaps it is afraid Canadians will notice yet another Liberal attempt to cover up misguided incompetence. Canadians deserve better.

  (1035)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, Bill C-57, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, was introduced at first reading on Friday of last week. Today is Tuesday; this is only two working days. This is not much.
    We have not been informed of all the government's intentions, but the bill might seem fairly straightforward, given its brevity.
    It seems fairly straightforward but, on reflection, more information is needed to be able to consider it further. Fortunately, the Internet is available 24 hours a day so I did some research into nuclear issues yesterday evening and part of the night. I do not have a written text but I will take one step at a time.
    The bill is only one page long and it consists of one short paragraph. Paragraph 46(3) of the previous legislation reads as follows:
    
Where, after conducting a hearing, the Commission is satisfied that there is contamination referred to in subsection (1), the Commission may, in addition to filing a notice under subsection (2), order that the owner or occupant of, or any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.
    “With a right to or interest in” has become “who has the management and control of”. This limits the responsibility of financiers a good deal in this connection.
    There is already a bill and normally it would be a straightforward matter. This puts me in mind of Cyrano de Bergerac whose reactions would run something like this:
    “Oh no, young man, that is a bit brief. One could convey much to the gods just by varying one's tone of voice.
    There is curious: But what does this apparently inoffensive simplicity conceal?
    Timorous: There are therefore risks if financiers do not wish to commit themselves.
    Cavalier: Ah, that is a private matter. We should not concern ourselves with it.
    Interrogative: Can we do without nuclear energy?
    Affirmative: Nuclear energy is not a greenhouse gas solution.
    Provident and considerate: Invest in renewable energy; it will be to your advantage”.
    In fact, the arguments of the minister and the backer are fairly simple as well, relying solely on the financial aspects. As an accountant I have often had to assess financial risk. Often such risk was limited to the money invested in or loaned to a company.
    The nuclear issue goes beyond nuclear plants, and private sector ownership and investment in nuclear plants. But it seems this is the first time we are debating this provision. I am told they have been working on this for two years. That is rather long for a single section of an act, but when the initial bill was first introduced in its entirety, what was the point of clause 46(3)?
    The question begs to be asked. I am told nobody made any comments on this clause, but it is being suggested that the intent was not to move toward the privatization of the nuclear industry. This is the most relevant question that should be asked.

  (1040)  

    The main user and owner of nuclear plants in Canada is the province of Ontario, with 20 plants. Ontario Power Generation, formerly Hydro Ontario, was the owner of the plants and its was experiencing significant losses. It had to invest enormous amounts just to keep the system working. There had been many disruptions and serious problems were looming. The situation remains unchanged, nuclear energy being nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is said to be the solution to the greenhouse gas emissions problem but I do not share that view.
    It is clear that the minister would like the private sector to invest more in the nuclear industry. Here is a quote from his backgrounder:
With governments encouraging more private sector participation in the ownership and management of facilities in all energy sectors--
    Presumably he also favoured the nuclear industry as far as the private sector goes. Obviously this is a matter for the natural resources minister. He has answered many of our questions so that we might readily accept his conclusions.
    However, there are also the backers. The backers are the ones making the request and pushing for this because funds were not made available by the lending institutions. The aspects of government policy that backers take into consideration are the following. They say that the current provisions of section 46(3) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act prevent nuclear power plant owners and operators from having access to financial markets and from obtaining financing. The big Canadian banks have refused to finance power plants and have officially told the Minister of Natural Resources that section 46(3) was the reason behind the refusal.
    Once again, for those interested, the current legislation is said to have a negative impact on the ability of private enterprises to invest in nuclear power plants, to the detriment of the development of Canada's nuclear industry.
    This is an important element. We are being told that it is to the detriment of the future development of Canada's nuclear industry. What of this? Do we really want to push the development of Canada's nuclear industry even more?
    It is worth asking whether or not this is the best way to proceed. We know quite well that this is not the best way to proceed when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Obviously, I could come back to this later.
    We have also been told that this is unusual, that there are no other similar provisions in other federal or provincial environmental legislation. In other statutes on the environment, the responsibility for compensating for damages caused to the environment is up to the owners, occupants or those who manage or supervise the contaminated site. Lenders and title holders are not exposed to environmental responsibility, unless they have not exercised their rights on the title and are not ensuring that the asset is being managed or monitored.
    If at some time possession of the site occurs due to a loan, obviously, then there is responsibility involved. When it comes to this responsibility, the dangers involved in the nuclear industry are far greater than with other energy sources, as far as I am concerned. We know that in oil and gas, contaminants are shamelessly released into the atmosphere. We are told that nuclear energy is clean. However, we know that there is a great deal of waste and risk involved in operating and managing these facilities, and automatically, a great deal of risk in terms of contamination. We also know that when it comes to the management of waste, we recently had the nuclear waste disposal act.

  (1045)  

    As members know, we were still not in agreement with how this was done. Now, we figure there never was any debate on the advisability of continuing to develop the nuclear industry in Canada and in Quebec. In Quebec, it is not a real issue, because we have hydroelectricity and it is likely that, in the relatively close future, we will not even rely on nuclear energy anymore.
    It is also said that the proposed legislative amendments will not reduce the power of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to require owners and operators of nuclear plants to post an adequate guarantee to protect the environment, since the commission will continue to deliver licences to nuclear plants.
    Of course, this is not quite the same thing. Amounts of money or guarantees can be provided. However, we can see that, increasingly, the government wants to promote nuclear development through the private sector.
    The government's main argument is that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission will still be omnipresent and have control over everything. If a place is contaminated, the commission will force its owners or operators to fix the problem.
    We all remember that the former Atomic Energy Control Board was created in 1946, shortly after the Hiroshima tragedy. Back then, there were already some serious concerns which triggered a will to promote effective monitoring of atomic energy and, of course, nuclear plants.
    The commission's role is to regulate nuclear industry in Canada, so that the development and use of nuclear energy do not pose an unacceptable risk to health, safety and the environment. The commission must also control imports and exports of regulated nuclear substances, equipment and technologies, and help Canada fulfill its domestic and international obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
    In this regard, we are told that the plutonium used to make atomic weapons comes primarily from nuclear plants operated by the private sector.
    We know that, for a significant number of Canadians, the Candu reactors operated by electric utilities are the most obvious example of nuclear plants. So, when we talk about funding of nuclear facilities by financial institutions, we are not just talking about reactors, as we know, but the public believes that this is what we are primarily talking about.
    For sure there are many fields of research. They are varied. There is uranium processing, naturally; there are also research reactors; nuclear research and test establishments; big irradiators; and, at the end of the spectrum, nuclear weapons of course. Everybody knows we have to strive for nuclear non-proliferation. However, fear may always remain in people's minds regarding all this.
    We learned from a former head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission that it was not up to the commission to make decisions on whether to use nuclear power in Canada. She added “However, once such a decision has been made, our role begins—and it does not end until the facility has been successfully decommissioned according the regulatory requirements”.

  (1050)  

    We know the government wants to proceed swiftly, as witnessed by the fact that first reading took place on Friday, second reading today, and that the bill will probably go through committee very quickly and third reading stage before the end of the session.
    There has been no update on whether or not to go forward with nuclear energy, which would be very worthwhile, I believe. We are not just trying to prolong proceedings or interfere with financial interests. What is in place today will probably have to stay in place for a while yet. The laws of finance require that equipment be amortized, but we know that if we do amortize our equipment, we produce dangerous nuclear waste in increasingly large quantities. The government is ignoring this fact, it is not paying attention to it, but it is the Damocles sword that hangs over every one of us.
    While doing my research, I looked into why private companies are and will be getting increasingly more involved in the nuclear sector. It is the result of deregulating the electricity sector. A case in point is Ontario Hydro and the decision by the provincial government to deregulate the electricity market. It has been very much in the news lately, and Ontario is not the only place where this is happening.
    Deregulation of electricity markets is occurring all over the western world. However, Ontario was the first province in Canada to legislate in this area when it passed the Energy Competition Act in 1998. The purpose of this act is to restructure the electricity market and electric power utility. Ontario owns 20 nuclear power stations and is beginning to dispose of them. I think that four of them have gone to Bruce Power.
    I also read the Ontario Power Generation reports. There were significant losses. For the first quarter of 2002, losses totalled $217 million. It is significant.
    One has to wonder why an organization that is experiencing losses would want to dispose of some of its assets—it is a form of lease, of course—or to transfer the management or control of these assets to the private sector. First of all, there are substantial sums of money involved, as one can see in the financial statements. Ontario Power Generation is receiving substantial payments.
    However, one can question the viability of the private company that will run this nuclear power station. We know all about the maintenance and management of such stations, emergency procedures and control. If there is any decontamination involved, it is even worse. In situations where businesses are struggling, how will they make a profit? For a business that is not making a profit, the risks can be huge.
    I will spare you another report that I have read. It is clear that promoters are very good with the rhetoric. They were promoting Ontario Power Generation for the transfer of various facilities so they could manage these facilities themselves. In fact, I think that one or two stations are not operating right now because they do not comply with the commission's regulations.

  (1055)  

    Earlier, I asked this question: can we do without nuclear energy? This is the fundamental question we should be asking. By amending this section, we are, in effect, handing over to the private increased management of nuclear plants. Therefore, in contributing to the development of nuclear plants and getting the private sector to invest more and more, will we, at some point in time, be building nuclear plants to produce electricity to be sold tor the United States, which is increasingly starved for energy? If nuclear plants owned by the private sector in Canada are allowed to proliferate, of more and more nuclear waste will also be produced.
    I asked if we could do without nuclear energy. I believe that we can. It all boils down to how we look at the issue. The only question that must be asked is this: is nuclear energy acceptable or not? If it is, then I would be in favour of it. However, like all the people who have seriously examined the issue, I believe that nuclear energy is unacceptable, principally because of the risk of major accidents.
    Of course, in our modern societies, we must accept a certain degree of risk. We will not stop travelling by plane because a plane crashed. People do take risks. However, in this case, the banks are not willing to take risks. One must conclude, therefore, that there enormous risks associated with nuclear plants.
    The nuclear risk is without parallel. It is completely out of proportion. After a nuclear accident, a whole area would have to be evacuated for centuries, and, for generations, children would be born with all kinds of deformities.
    I spoke earlier about the other problem with the burial of radioactive waste. If it is really that safe, why bother to bury it in practically unpopulated areas? Why not closer to big cities? We would like Canadians to know enough about that to wonder about this. Is nuclear energy acceptable or not? As far as I am concerned, it is not. For the population, I think the answer would also be no.
    I was also asking a little earlier if nuclear power could be a solution to greenhouse gas emissions. We often hear that nuclear energy is one of the best solutions, if not the only reliable solution to greenhouse gas emissions. The nuclear industry is working very hard to be included in the post-Kyoto negotiations. Nuclear reactors are presented as an alternative that should be taken into consideration in the development of flexibility arrangements, as for emission permit trading or the joint implementation of clean development mechanisms such as wind energy, solar energy and hydroelectricity.
    This attempt is seen by these backers as a last chance to revitalize the nuclear industry, which has never reached the level of expansion announced by the pioneers and has even started to show the first signs of decline.
    In 1974, the International Atomic Energy Agency was forecasting a worldwide nuclear capacity of 4,450 one thousand megawatt reactors by the end of the century. At the end of 1999, the same agency had only 433 nuclear reactors listed around the world, or only 8% of what had been forecasted.
    Nuclear energy is being used in 32 only countries around the world. In 1999, it provided only 7.5% of the commercial primary energy in the world, way behind the fossil fuels, like oil, gas or natural gas, which produced 40%, 25% and 25% respectively. It represents 17% of commercially rpoduced electricity, but only 2.5% of final energy demand.

  (1100)  

    In 2000, no reactor was under construction, on order or even in the planning stages in North America or in western Europe. The last order that was not cancelled later on was made in 1973, in the United States, and in 1980, in Europe, except in France, where construction of the last plant began in 1993.
    The decline is starting to be seen worldwide. The nuclear park has lost seven units, from its all time record of 440 operating reactors in 1997. And the chances of recovery are slim. Most of the 38 reactors listed by the IAEA as being under construction at the end of 1999 are located in eastern Europe, in the former U.S.S.R.
    This record has not prevented nuclear proponents from developing very optimistic scenarios for the recovery of the nuclear industry, and climate change is being given a crucial role in influencing decision makers.
    Thus, in early 1999, the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency developed three scenarios for the period extending from 2000 to 2050. While the first one would be the demise of nuclear energy in 2045, both of the others forecast either continued development or a decline, followed by a recovery, which would lead to the same worldwide installed capacity of 1,120 megawatts in 2050. In contradiction with short term outlook, these scenarios would imply an unprecedented building campaign.
    The argument generally used by the nuclear lobby is the direct comparison of greenhouse gas emissions from a reactor with those from a coal fired power plant. The very favourable figures that are misleading. In particular, the comparison must cover all the alternatives: gas, which now represents most of the new capacity installed in Europe and which produces 1.5 to 2 times less greenhouse gas emissions than coal, but also alternative energy sources and energy efficiency.
    Nuclear plants and nuclear energy are in a decline. This is obvious. Now, there are things that we, in the Bloc Quebecois, would still like to point out. Since there has to be a debate on the appropriateness of Canada's continuing to invest and to work at producing energy from nuclear sources, we say that there are major alternatives.
    Looking at investments made in the past by the Canadian government in other sources of energy, we realize that direct grants from the federal government into the oil industry since 1970 amount to $66 billion, compared to $6 billion in nuclear energy and only $329 million in renewable energy.
    Just imagine what $66 billion would have done for wind power and solar energy. Most likely this would not even be an issue today. We know that, together, nuclear plants in Canada generate between 16,000 and 17,000 megawatts of energy. However, wind power is also creating a great many jobs. I could get back on this later.
    The wind power industry is expanding around the world. Over the last six years the average annual growth of this industry was 30%. With 40 times the installed power capacity of Canada, Germany is the biggest user of this form of energy. Europe alone owns close to 75% of all wind generators in the world.
    At the present time the total wind power generated in the countries using this kind of energy is 24,471 megawatts. Canada's contribution is currently 207 megawatts.

  (1105)  

    I revert to the job creation aspect. According to the U.S. department of energy, wind power creates more jobs by invested dollar than any other technology. It creates over five times more than thermal power produced from coal and nuclear energy.
    Let us take a look at the number of jobs created by the wind power industry in Europe: in 1996, for the production of 3,500 megawatts, 72,000 person years of employment were created. Could the same kind of investment in nuclear power have the same impact? I doubt it very much.
    In the year 2000, for an installed production capacity of 8,000 megawatts, 512,000 person years of employment were created. According to forecasts for 2020, with 100,000 megawatts installed, 2.4 million jobs directly related to wind power would be created.
    As members know, the federal program is very skimpy. The December 2001 federal budget introduced a production incentive for electricity generated from wind energy projects: 1.2 ¢ per kilowatt hour of production from projects commissioned as early as 2002; 1.1 ¢ per kilowatt hour in 2003, and so on, down to 0.8 ¢ per kilowatt hour in 2007. The federal government is far from the 2.7 cents per kilowatt-hour assistance provided in the U.S. Moreover, this program only has an overall budget of $260 million, spread over 15 years. That is $17 million a year. That is not even enough to build 15 wind turbines a year.
    Instead of asking ourselves questions, trying to encourage the private sector to invest in nuclear energy, when the government has invested close to $66 billion in the oil industry and a minimum of $6 billion in nuclear energy since 1970, in other words in the past 30 or so years, imagine what could be done, especially with a large budgetary surplus. Taking Quebec as an example, the Gaspé would be one appropriate place for the development of wind energy. If Quebec were not hampered by the fiscal imbalance, it too might be able to invest in these energy sources, given the federal government's lukewarm interest in investing in wind energy.
    Quebec is proposing the creation of a federal program to invest $700 million in the wind industry over five years. This is the equivalent, on a per capita basis, of federal assistance to Newfoundland for the Hibernia project. The federal government has the means, as witness its $9.8 billion surplus for the 2001-02 budgetary year.
    The goal is to create wind capacity of at least 1,000 megawatts in Quebec, primarily in the Gaspé region. To accomplish this, a strong wind industry must be developed. Such a capacity would have the potential to create 15,000 jobs at the very least. That is why the program will be used to set up plants to manufacture wind turbine components.
    We can certainly see the potential for private investment in the nuclear industry. Let us also put some money into renewable energies so that in the future we rely less and less on nuclear energy, and future generations never have to deal with disasters that could strike at any time.

  (1110)  

    I will repeat, and with no one in particular in mind, what I said at the beginning of my speech. Plutonium used to make atomic bombs mainly originates with civilian nuclear plants that have financial backers. This is strictly a cautionary remark. Let us try to imagine what will happen if the program is continued.
    This is why it should focus on the manufacture of wind generators. The project should absolutely include local content and an aspect to encourage the development of regional industry. The region has definitely been affected from the economic point of view. In terms of energy and job creation, there are huge possibilities.
    Returning now to my first and most basic ideas, I believe that if financial backers find this too risky an investment, there is no reason for society to react differently.
    We believe that the hazards relating to nuclear energy require tighter regulations than for any other type of energy. We also believe that the government should focus its efforts on developing clean energy such as wind power. Where energy is concerned, the Bloc Quebecois also demands, first and foremost, ratification of Kyoto.
    Why change a section that in my estimation was mainly aimed at blocking private investment in the nuclear energy field? With regard to nuclear energy, we know that the risk increases as use increases. If the government wants to enlist private enterprise in order to increase the production of nuclear energy, I do not see this as the ideal solution as far as the greenhouse effect is concerned. It is erroneous to think that the nuclear approach is the only one with positive effects on greenhouse gases. Wind energy might very well takes its place and would have far more significant economic impact than investments in nuclear energy where the risks are too great to warrant any such considerable investment.

  (1115)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I listened closely to the comments of my colleague on the particular change to the act proposed by Bill C-57.
    My colleagues from Athabasca, Sherbrooke, and although he did not speak yet, my colleague from Windsor--St. Clair, have spoken at length on a number of government nuclear policies and the importance of various pieces of legislation affecting the nuclear industry. We have agreed with many of the policies. I take no exception to the thoughtful comments made by my colleague from Sherbrooke although I expect that at the end of the day on this vote we will probably not be in complete agreement. That does not take away from the importance of what my colleague from Sherbrooke said.
    Bill C-57, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, is almost a piece of housekeeping legislation. The difficulty, as has been mentioned already, with housekeeping legislation introduced by the government is that one has to go back and check the entire bill again because there is always something hidden.
    In this case I do not think there is anything hidden. It is a pretty straightforward, uncomplicated change contained in a few words in subsection 46(3) of the bill.
    The government House leader rose earlier and asked that we pass all stages of the bill. The Progressive Conservative Party is in agreement with that. However, it has been said, and needs to be said again, that this is not timely. The government had an opportunity to bring it forward and did not bring it forward. All of a sudden we have a bill on the table in the dying days of this sitting of the House.
    Once again there is an unprecedented urgency that all stages of the bill be passed in unison. Because of the subject matter, I agree, but the point needs to be made that it is not the way legislation or changes to legislation should be brought to the House. We should be more thorough in the original legislation. Part of the problem is the absolute sloppiness of the legislation the government has been passing, and its absolute refusal to make amendments to poorly worded legislation.
    Under proposed subsection 46(3) in the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, that measure can be interpreted to extend liability for nuclear site remediation, as it is worded now, to an owner, operator or any other person with a right to, or an interest in, the affected land or place.
    Obviously that was a mistake in the original act that should have been picked up. Unfortunately it was not picked up and as a result of that clause banks or other financial institutions are reluctant to lend money to nuclear operators because of potential liability. The cost of the liability could exceed the initial financing to the operator and negatively affect the financial situation of the lending institution. This is unprecedented in any other section of Canadian law or legislation.
    Even with the changes it is conceivable that a lending institution could still be liable if it owns the property. If for some reason the original owner forecloses then the lending institution could be held liable. That is a different situation and it is not unforeseen with the changes.

  (1120)  

    Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which is the nuclear control agency, is authorized to conduct investigations to see if nuclear contamination exists onsite if and when any site has been decommissioned. Under subsection 46(3) the commission can order that measures be taken to minimize or eliminate the contamination and that those measures be carried out in a prompt manner, as it should be. However, who is liable for the cost of that clean up?
    It was mentioned earlier by my colleague from Athabasca that subsection 46(3) in the original legislation was a section carried over from the mining sector. It was not really meant to affect the operation and control of nuclear reactors. It was meant to deal with mine site reclamation, acid mine drainage and possible tailing ponds contamination to any area surrounding a mine or a smelter. There are ways to deal with that. It was not meant to hinder or control financiers of the nuclear sector.
    This is not about whether one supports nuclear energy or not. This is not about all of the correct things said earlier about our responsibility as legislators to seek more avenues and opportunities for green power, hydroelectricity, wind energy, solar energy and thermal energy. That is not what this is about.
    This is about taking away the liability of a lending institution from the responsibility for nuclear onsite contamination. That does not exist if, for example a lending institution suddenly became a service station with onsite gas or diesel contamination which needed to be cleaned up. The lending institution is not responsible for that, nor should it be. This change that has been asked for is not a complicated change.
    The amendment to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act addresses a number of issues. The possibility of liability for lending institutions for site remediation impedes nuclear facilities from accessing debt financing. Barriers to financing place nuclear operators at a competitive disadvantage compared to non-nuclear operators where barriers do not exist. The amendment also addresses nuclear facilities able to produce electricity with minimal greenhouse gas emissions.
    This is not about whether we are supporters or non-supporters of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is a fact of life. Nuclear energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The government is trying to get public opinion on its side to sign Kyoto. There are good reasons to look at the agreements under Kyoto and it is the government's responsibility to look at those agreements. As Canada attempts to meet its commitments under Kyoto there is no question that we will have to turn to alternative sources of energy, namely nuclear energy.
    It is not the job of government to stifle the nuclear sector or to prevent it from being a supplier of clean energy. Nuclear waste is still problematic and has not been dealt with. All opposition parties in the House voted against Bill C-27, an act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste, because it was a poorly worded, poorly crafted and sloppy piece of legislation. The government has not dealt with the long term storage problems inherent in the nuclear energy sector. However, that does not mean that we should not approve a small change to the legislation which would allow nuclear operators to access debt financing.

  (1125)  

    It is not apparent to me that there is the legislative intent in the original wording of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to extend site remediation liability to parties without management or control of operations. I certainly believe that statement. What has happened here is exactly what happened with regard to the storage of nuclear waste in Bill C-27. What happened was that a piece of legislation that was supposed to be housekeeping legislation, just a matter of tying a few loose ends together, became legislation because the government has a huge majority and a huge ego. It could not bear the fact that well-meaning amendments were needed to make that piece of legislation better and to make this piece of legislation better. The government simply voted down the amendments.
    It is not about whether the amendments are good or bad, quite frankly. It is about whether or not the Liberals put their majority in place in the committee and vote down amendments because they come from an opposition party. I have made amendments to Liberal government legislation which were voted down at committee and then the government brought back to the House the exact same amendments with the exact same wording and passed them. This is not about passing good legislation. It is all about the ego of a huge majority government that has not done its job.
    The next government to come to power will have to go back through all the legislation that the government has passed and improve it. It will not have to change every detail and every word of it but it will have to improve it.
    The amendment to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act which we are dealing with today will change the wording of subsection 46(3) to limit liability to those with “management and control” of the affected sites. This will replace the reference to anyone “with a right to or an interest in”, which clearly puts the liability of any nuclear contamination upon the person with management or control of that site. There has been some opposition to the idea: that somehow we are helping out the big banks or the big financiers of the world. It does not exclude them from responsibility if in fact they have management or control of that site.
    If there were a private nuclear institution, nuclear producers who actually found themselves in financial difficulty and went bankrupt, and the financiers loaning the money to that institution suddenly became the owners or were in management of or control of that institution, they would assume the liability, which they should. That is a different situation and that situation is covered.
    However, for a regular institution loaning money, why should the government hamper and burden the nuclear sector under what is really a very strange clause that never should have been there to begin with and is there only because the government side of the House has not passed clear, consistent, well thought out legislation in this piece of legislation or in any other piece of legislation?
    The PC Party will support this change to the legislation because it will provide operators of nuclear facilities with the opportunity to access debt financing from private investors. Clearly that is needed. It is important for a number of reasons. It is important to allow nuclear operators to compete equally with other electricity generators and operators and it is important to be consistent with other environmental legislation. We should not be singling out the nuclear sector as one that is somehow different from other sectors. We have a certain amount of and, I think, a very clear environmental responsibility, which should sit evenly on all sectors. The amendment clarifies the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and limits the liability of banks and other financial institutions providing funding to nuclear facilities, as I believe it should.

  (1130)  

    In closing, let me say again that this is not about nuclear energy or non-nuclear energy. This is about an amendment that should have been made in the original act, a change that should have taken place in the wording of the original act and never did. It is not about supporting or not supporting alternative sectors. I believe everyone in the House supports more clean energy, more green energy, wherever that green energy is from, including ways of improving the so-called dirty energy sectors, the oil generation, certainly even any hydrocarbon electricity generating stations and coal-fired electricity generating stations. There are many areas where we can do a better job and where we have a responsibility to do a better job. There are all kinds of tidal, wind and deep sea current energy that has yet to be harnessed or utilized in Canada. We can spend $66 billion, as has been mentioned earlier, to improve our capacity to burn oil. We spent somewhere around $296 million, which I think was the quote, on types of alternative energy. Something is seriously wrong. It is a completely lopsided agenda that the government has.
    Let us take a look at the alternatives, but let us not stifle the nuclear energy sector while we are doing that. This does not take away the government's responsibility to deal with nuclear waste, which it has not done. This does not take away the responsibility of the nuclear sector to be a very good guardian of the planet, to prevent nuclear contamination and to prevent any form of radioactive contamination. However, for the purposes of the bill, for a very simple change in the wording, we support the piece of legislation. It is not timely, being brought in at the end of the session, but it is needed and the PC Party will support it.
    Madam Speaker, I wonder if my hon. friend realizes that the reason for introducing these amendments at this time is that for the first time in the history of Canada nuclear power will be controlled privately. Prior to this, clauses of this nature were not necessary because funding did not come from private sources.
    Does my hon. friend understand that? It is not that the bill was imperfect but simply that this is the first time in our history that funding will come from private sources. These amendments would allow the lender to not be liable but would still keep liability with the generating company and, in the case of Ontario, with the government of Ontario as the backstop for liability.
    Madam Speaker, the way the member brought his comments out is interesting. He made a comment that I would tend to agree with and then he reiterated that comment and said, no, that was not correct.
    I disagree with the member's statement. What the member said is that somehow or another this has been brought out because the government has decided to allow private lenders to the nuclear sector or privately owned reactors and privately owned generators.
    The way the original wording under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act read under subsection 46(3) had nothing to do with preventing private ownership of nuclear reactors and private generators of nuclear electricity. That was not what it was about. It was a mistake in the legislation. It states “any other person with a right to or an interest in”.
    That clause was not put in there to prevent private lenders to nuclear institutions. That was put in there because the Liberals did not know what they were doing at the time. This is just another example of poorly crafted, poorly worded legislation. It was not anything about preventing private ownership of nuclear facilities. It had nothing to do with it.

  (1135)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a technical question that has to do with allowing businesses to obtain financing.
    The original subsection of the act did not necessarily prevent the private sector from investing in nuclear plants. I suppose that if my colleague, who is a wealthy man, decided to buy a nuclear plan he would pay cash and would not have to seek financing.
    However, someone who wishes to share a risk must know that nuclear plants represent a significant risk. Someone wishing to invest in a nuclear plant would want to reduce his risk and share it with financial institutions. When the original section was drafted and considered in committee—and we know how things are done in committee at section by section stage and how things are analyzed—we knew perfectly well that financial institutions would not invest and hence that there would be no investment by the private sector.
    The changes proposed today greatly favour privatization of nuclear plants. In view of this, does my colleague still agree with increasing private sector investment, in spite of the risks involved?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, that is a different angle and a different question. I still question whether or not it is the correct angle or interpretation. The original wording, and again I would categorically state that it was simply a mistake and poorly crafted legislation, states “any other person with a right to or an interest in”. The change to subsection 46(3) states “management and control of”. I do not believe that leaves investors out of the loop.
    There is a difference between someone who has a direct investment in a company or business and is making a profit out of that investment and a financial institution that is simply a loner and has nothing to do with the management and operation and control of a particular facility. I separate the two. I think there is a clear separation and I think there is a clear delineation in the liability. It is still a point that needs to be examined more closely and is certainly a point that we have to take into consideration, but if we take a very clear reading of the legislation, at the end of the day I do not really think it is a valid point.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I have another question for my colleague.
    Instead of favouring private sector investment in the nuclear industry, should the government not implement various incentives to develop renewable energies like solar energy and wind power?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I can answer that question directly with a brief explanation.
    The government has to do both. I believe the bill finds a way to facilitate investment into the nuclear sector. At the time my colleague from Sherbrooke made his speech I believe he said that $66 billion had been invested into oil fired hydroelectric development in this country, that somewhere around $6 billion had been put into the nuclear sector and that only about $290 million or $296 million had been put into other green energy forms, such as wind energy.
    Without question the government has a responsibility. It has had ample opportunities to do it and has refused to do it. We need to invest more dollars into solar energy and into thermal electricity. We need to invest more dollars into harnessing the deep sea ocean currents, many of which move at 30 to 40 knots. It is a tremendous source of energy once we find a way to harness it.
    We can do more with tidal. We can do more with hydroelectricity. If we cut down the power drop in electrical power lines we can increase the electrical output of this country by a huge margin, simply by finding a better way to move that electrical current from point A to point B.
    There are all kinds of avenues for the government to invest in. That does not mean that it does not have a responsibility and that we do not have a responsibility to clear up what was a blatant mistake in the original legislation.

  (1140)  

    Madam Speaker, this is an interesting bill because it is being camouflaged as just a minor amendment to protect financiers. However it is really about the Liberal government getting in bed with the Ontario Conservative government to cover up a huge mistake it made when it moved to privatize Bruce Power and British Energy about a year and a half ago. It missed a little section.
    However the bill is about the future of the nuclear industry as far as generating power for the country.
    Those are the two issues and both are very important issues in the short term and may be more important for the long term environmental health of the country. Therefore, to suggest, as the government has, that we just need to slide this through to deal with a little technical problem is really a sham.
    Let us look at what happened around the whole issue of privatization. We had a very right wing Conservative government elected in the province of Ontario and one of its mandates as it interpreted it was to downsize government. It looked at a number of areas to do that and one of them was in the field of production of hydroelectric power and energy more generally.
    We have heard some of the recent boondoggles around the Ontario government trying to sell off Hydro One that in effect was stopped by the courts. There is a real analogy here. The Ontario government thought it had the ability to do it. What really happened was that it had not looked at the legislation. There was no empowerment legislation in Ontario that would allow that government to sell off Hydro One.
    Now the courts have told the Ontario government that it does not have the authority to sell Hydro One. The Conservative government recently introduced a bill in the house to allow it to go ahead with the sale although it is obvious that the new premier of Ontario is getting cold feet because of all the opposition from Ontario to privatize. It looks like he may be backing off.
    It is clear that the Ontario government did not know what it was doing. It is also clear, as more and more analysis falls on the deal that was made by the Ontario government with British Energy to let it manage and control Bruce Power, that it was a very favourable deal to British Energy. Much like this legislation, it was drafted in such a way that ultimately, if things do not go so well for British Energy, the Ontario government and obviously the Ontario taxpayer will be left to pay the tab. That is such a consistent pattern with the nuclear industry, not just in Canada but across the globe.
    Over the last few months, as British Energy looked to expand and re-open part of Bruce Power, it was being told by its financiers about this section in the act. In spite of some of the allegations we have heard in the House that somehow we were just going to treat those financiers of nuclear power the same as we treat everybody else, the opposite is true.
    I am not clear whether this is true in Quebec but as it sits in the common law in the rest of Canada, if an operation is financed, whether it be a mortgage or some other security against land, buildings, equipment, and the company defaults on its payment, the lender is responsible for the cleanup.

  (1145)  

    I will bring this down to a basic level. If I were to purchase a home only to find out later that there was a problem with toxic waste on the site, I, as the subsequent purchaser of that home, and my mortgage company would be responsible for the cleanup. That is the law in Canada with, as I say, perhaps the exception of Quebec, because I do not know that.
    We are not rectifying some discrimination here against lenders who want to lend to the nuclear industry. The law, as it sits now, treats them no differently than they are treated in every other aspect of their lending.
    What is really offensive, other than this attempt to cover up the mistake made by the Ontario government, which the Liberals seem to be willing to help out with, is that we have favoured the nuclear industry for a long time. Our Prime Minister runs around the globe as a salesperson for it. He is its biggest booster. We give it all sorts of breaks, and by that I mean royalties, tax breaks, any number of things. It is also subsidized at the provincial government level.
    If the Ontario government privatizes Ontario Hydro a huge debt will be left behind. The vast majority of that debt, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 75% to 80%, was accumulated through its overspending when it first opened some of the nuclear plants in Ontario. Cost estimates ran 200%, 300% and, in some cases, almost 400% over what the original estimates were. We in Ontario will be paying for that.
    What we are now doing is saying that we will give the industry another break. We cannot do that. This is an opportunity for the government and the country to say that we have been wrong about nuclear power all along. We need to face the fact that this is not a sustainable industry and, as have a number of other countries, we have to look at phasing out the industry.
    We are sitting with a huge bill that we will need to pay somewhere down the road. How will we deal with the existing waste, which we are continuing to produce, and then the decommissioning of the nuclear power plants in the country?
    In the fall and early winter we went through a review of the nuclear waste disposal bill. In spite of the fact that there are some trust funds being established to deal with that, they are grossly inadequate.
    What we are doing here today as we look at this bill is burying our heads in the sand and pretending that we can let the financiers of this industry off the hook. We can pretend that the government does not have to assess this industry with the same type of risk assessment it uses for every other industry.
    Before I was elected I sat as a member on a credit union board. We gave out fairly substantial commercial loans. We had to do risk assessments. Certainly one of the risk assessments we had to do was environmental. We needed to know if we were taking on a piece of property as security for a loan that could potentially end up back in our laps. We were no different about this. Every credit union and financial institution in the country does the same thing. Therefore we now regularly do an environmental assessment of the site.

  (1150)  

    If we do not impose the same standard, we again are pretending that the nuclear industry is risk free from an environmental standpoint. That is what we are saying to the financiers and the financial community. We are saying that it is okay, that they do not have to treat this industry like they treat every other sector of the economy when they are considering advancing funds, either by way of investment or loans. That is what the amendment to the act would do and it is wrong. That is not what we should be about as a country. We should not be facilitating either the privatization or the expansion of this industry, which this amendment would allow.
    Again, to suggest that there are no particular major issues here is an attempt on the part of the government to grossly mislead the House. It is really about going back and covering up the mistake that was made. It is pretending on an ongoing basis that the nuclear industry does not have these costs associated with it. That is in fact how we have conducted public business in Canada for the better part of five decades. It is time for that to stop. We cannot allow ourselves to continue on in this way. We talk a lot about sustainable development. This industry is not sustainable.
    We have heard where we will go with this. I just want to say one more thing about privatization. If we allow the amendment to go through, it would open the door to privatization. By that I mean turning over either ownership and control or control of every nuclear plant to the private sector because the private sector would not have to worry about its liability and it would not have to do that risk assessment.
    I want to be very clear about this. We could say that maybe to be fair to the financiers we should not impose this on them. We should think about it from the other angle. We are private sector persons. We have entered into an arrangement where we have taken over either ownership or management of a plant. We know now that we can go out into the financial community, because this amendment has been passed, and say to the financiers that they should not worry about liability because it all rests with us.
    There is no accountability. There are no standards for operators. The operators do not have to worry about it. They would have their financing from the financiers because they did not have to worry about any liability. They could expand plants without doing all the safety things. They could cut some corners here and there to save some money and make greater profits. At the end of the day they could shut down the plants and walk away.
    Before anybody tells me I am crazy and says that this does not happen, we should think about how many mining industry sites, including uranium mines, have been abandoned and sitting with tailings. I just came from committee this morning. We heard about tailings that had been dumped from uranium mining and how they were now leaching into waterways in Saskatchewan and up in the territories. It has happened specifically in this industry and we know it has happened in a number of others. We should think about all the brown sites in our cities, toxic sites from which people have walked away. It does happen and the costs with regard to nuclear are so phenomenal. We should be doing absolutely nothing that would make it easier for those operators.
    Quite frankly, if we look at the specific operator at Bruce go back and look at its history in England, we will see that it is not a very good one. There have been some monumental problems. Major fines have been levied against it because of the its operation of some of the plants.

  (1155)  

    I just want to deal with costs for a minute and what we will be looking at if that type of scenario develops. I will use as an example a project that has just been funded by the U.S. congress with taxpayer dollars to the tune of $7.5 billion because the site is contaminated. The engineering firm that developed the methodology to clean it up just won an international award. The end result is that the site will be cleaned up and it will no longer be radioactive. However that waste will be run through another nuclear plant in South Carolina. At the end of the day there will still be nuclear waste. That one site will cost the American taxpayer $7.5 billion.
    Right now we are on a curve to produce more nuclear waste by 2010 than will be produced at that time in the United States. We will have by that time more waste than in the United States. That is what we are talking about in terms of this industry.
    As my friend from the Bloc, the hon. member for Sherbrooke, has pointed out, we have alternatives. If someone asked he and I if our proposal was that we not do this and that the nuclear industry should be phased out, we both would say yes. If someone then said to us that we did not have an alternative, our answer would be that we did have alternatives. The hon. member enunciated a number of them such as wind.
    Canada has the ability and potential to create more wind energy than any other country in the world. That would be wind energy drawn from onshore and offshore turbines. It is interesting that I know this and it is not because of any work done by the government. It is through analyses that have been done by companies and countries in Europe.
    One of the great sacrileges is because the government has dawdled on this for so long, we are now at least a decade behind Europe in technology for offshore development of wind power. The British Columbia government has entered into a short term and potentially long term contract with Germany. It bought the technology from Germany to provide one of the first offshore wind generated power plants in the country.
    A small country like Ireland, with a population of 3.5 million to 5 million people, opened the largest offshore wind generating plant in the world last fall. England is about to open one in the next 12 months that will be even larger. We do not have that technology. We will have to buy it, which will cost us cost us more money.
    We should be moving into that area as rapidly as we can. If we are going to subsidize any industry with regard to energy, it should be renewable energy sources, not these industries that are dead or dying. The bill simply contributes to that.
    There are alternative sources. Let us take a look at ethanol and using it as a power source. We have the potential to do great things in that area. Some very interesting experiments are going on right now and they are ready to be used. Again, there has been a lack of government policy either to provide subsidies or to provide the economic infrastructure that would facilitate, encourage and enhance these industries.
    The government announced a week ago, 10 years too late, substantial funding and methodology. However it is way behind and it is not enough. We have to move faster and more extensively than that proposal allows.
    We have the ability to develop solar energy. We heard from my friend from the Conservative Party who comes from the maritimes about our ability to develop energy from wave power and underwater currents. The indications we have at this point are that we can do that without causing environmental damage while at the same time create substantial sources of new renewable energy.

  (1200)  

    It is in fact possible to phase out the nuclear industry. It will not be done tomorrow or probably for a long time. However we have to plan for the decommissioning of the plants and how we will deal with the waste produced by that time, including what will be left over from the decommissioning. By that I mean we will have to consider how we will treat the people who work in those plants and that industry.
    I want to acknowledge the work done by the Canadian Labour Congress and a number of the other individual unions to develop some standards and methodologies, which is generally referred to as just transitions, and how we will deal with that.
    If we continue to hide our heads in the sand and ignore the reality that these plants will have to be shut down and phased out at some point, the real risk is that workers and communities will be very negatively impacted. We have to plan for that now. That concept of just transitions has to be applied to both the employees within that sector and the communities that rely on this industry so that over a period of time they can find new employment in other sectors within the economy and communities can be provided stability.
    Members heard my friend from the Bloc, the member for Sherbrooke, talk about the experience of Denmark and Germany with the development of wind power in those countries. It shows very clearly that we can also do that. We can produce a lot of jobs for a new sector of the economy.
    I could go on for another 20 minutes on this topic, but I will conclude by saying this is not a simple amendment. It has very severe complications to it.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Windsor—St. Clair for his position.
    Elected officials must demonstrate political courage to separate themselves from this nuclear leash that we wear. We know that citizens are very sensitive to nuclear issues. Obviously, we must act, educate people and build a movement that will succeed in proposing other ways to supply the planet with its energy needs.
    I think that my colleague shares the same apprehensions and fears that I have as regards the development of nuclear energy and the fact that the private sector can invest more and more in this area.
    Personally, I am afraid. Some may say that I am paranoid. However, we know that the thirst for energy in the United States is steadily increasing. Given the fact that there could be nuclear power plants popping up all over Canada and increased investment by the private sector, is there not a danger that we may one day end up as the energy supplier to the United States? I do not know if my colleague shares this fear.

  (1205)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Sherbrooke for his question.
    It is a fear that I have. I have it in a number of other areas with regard to the huge, black hole across the boundaries with the United States and its demand for power. We cannot pretend any innocence here. We actually consume more energy than the Americans do on a per capita basis, so we have a tough time pointing a finger at them.
    It is a real concern around the whole issue of privatization. I see it not only with the nuclear industry, but quite frankly, and I feel this personally because of the region of the country I come from, I see it with the attempt on the part of the Ontario government to sell off coal-fired plants. I am concerned about that in terms of it being privatized because of the temptation for both those industries if the demand is there.
    I want to be clear about this. The demand in the United States will be there and it will be at a value greater than what we are paying for energy in Canada right now. There will be great incentive for private operators to increase production in the existing plants. Corners may be cut in coal-fired plants where a number of those plants have alternative fuel sources. In some cases they will be able to use natural gas and in others they will use coal.
    The demand will be there. For example, if Chicago were to have a hot summer Illinois Power would say to Ontario that it needs an extra thousand megawatts. We would dump more coal into those plants and crank it up, or if it were a nuclear plant, we would say that we probably should not be reactivating it because there are a couple of problems but we will do it anyway because we will make so much money.
    There is a real fear that with privatization that type of conduct will be coming because of the profit incentive that is built into those private plants.
    Madam Speaker, I cannot help but express disappointment that the NDP has chosen to turn this debate on a simple seven word amendment to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act into a debate on the future of nuclear power in this country.
    I have many of the same concerns with nuclear power and its place in Canada that have been expressed here today, but it is a gross exaggeration to turn this seven word amendment to limit the liability of a nuclear power plant into a debate on the viability and the future of nuclear power. To suggest that it is no different than the bank that holds a mortgage on my house being responsible should I contaminate that house or property simply is not true. That is not factual, particularly if I do not go bankrupt.
    Quite frankly Bruce Power still belongs to the government of Ontario and will continue to belong to the government of Ontario. It is entering into an agreement to refurbish and to operate the plant with British Energy. Every nuclear power plant in this country belongs to a government. The chances of a government going bankrupt and therefore passing that liability on is a far stretch.
    I suggest that the debate seems to be more about the philosophy of private sector versus public sector ownership of the industry and how that affects people. I suggest that the NDP should consider the protection that the bill would provide to union pension funds that might be invested in the industry, or the jobs of the thousands of workers at Bruce Power who depend on the refurbishing of the plant. It seems to me that the issue is being broadened far further than it should.

  (1210)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if there was a question in the member's comments, but allow me respond to the commentary with a comment of my own.
    I reject the argument or the fearmongering about the loss of thousands of jobs in the member's statement. The reality is that no jobs will be lost if the bill does not pass. Bruce Power is operating now and employees who are presently there will continue to be there. The member is correct that if funds were being advanced and the expansion was to take place there would be a relatively modest increase in the number of jobs.
    To suggest that we should be concerned about pension funds is again fearmongering. As it is right now, those pension funds invested in the British Energy arrangement are about 2% of the operation. Those are secured funds. If this were not to go ahead the funds would not be any less secure because they would have already been taken care of. It would prevent the industry, which is a good idea, from putting more money into this type of operation because I do believe this industry is dying and eventually will be phased out.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on the remarks made by the member for Athabasca and also refer to the comments made by the member for Windsor—St. Clair.
    The member mentioned earlier that his mortgage lender was not responsible if he contaminated his land. He used this as an example.
    However, I have news for him. If, throughout his lifetime, he did oil changes that he dumped on his land, and at some point he went bankrupt and left, the mortgage lender, when taking over his assets, would automatically be required to decontaminate the land. However, I know that this would never happen, since I doubt that the member is a polluter. So, he will not have a problem with this.
    However, I would like to come back to the section that existed before. I would like to know from the member for Windsor—St. Clair if he thinks it was truly the legislators' intent to limit private investment in this way.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that is a difficult question to answer. The concept of privatizing the nuclear industry did not exist in this country at the time the bill was originally passed. I do not think there is any way of determining what was in the mind of the government when it passed the legislation at that time.
    There are a number of wells in my constituency that have been drilled in the farming area so farmers are faced with this problem and there are lenders. If we were to look at the way the law was generally applied in Canada I would say it was contemplated that the industry would be treated the same and it would be liable if it were a lender, and it borrowed or defaulted.
    Mr. Speaker, members must have noticed that the exchange in the last few minutes between the members for Windsor--St. Clair and Athabasca puts the focus on the crux of the question behind the bill.
    The question behind the bill is: Should a private investor in the nuclear industry be exempted from responsibility should there be a contamination if that private investor has invested in a nuclear plant? That is the crux and the difficulty of the question.
    It seems to me that an investment in a nuclear industry cannot be compared to an investment in a water bottle plant or in a plant that produces clothing or shoes or most other articles which do not imply in their production any dangerous activity to human health. We are talking about an industry which not only has been heavily subsidized by the government over the years, as everyone probably knows, but an industry that is engaged in the production of a type of electricity that has potential dangers involved in its activity.
    It is not only implicit but actually explicit because the explanatory note in the bill itself refers to the fact that there may be situations where the level of contamination might have to be reduced. It would aim at exempting investors from this type of responsibility.
    Upon reflection it becomes clear that this type of exemption is not desirable, quite frankly. We are dealing with an industry that has played quite a role in the development of energy and electricity in Canada. There are good reasons why the bill has been drafted in the manner that it has.
    The legislation as it is presently drafted has merits over the proposed amendment. I would suggest that an amendment of this kind would draw away investments from other forms of energy investments, particularly the ones that have been referred to by my other colleagues in the field of renewable energy, for instance, where the returns may be slow in coming but an industry that requires a strong injection of investments if we are to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
    A measure of this kind, as the member for Athabasca pointed out, is a narrow one and should only be taken in its limited scope. A measure of this kind in the long run would actually not be a desirable one if we consider the fact that we are increasingly receiving representations at our environment committee, for instance, by groups of citizens who are extremely disturbed by the fact that the establishment of nuclear waste at the Bruce plant in recent years has not received the proper in depth environmental assessment that should have been given to it. In addition to that, the organization that appeared before our committee went so far as to establish serious epidemiological links between the plant and its nuclear waste storage facility and the health of children, particularly those now affected by leukemia.

  (1215)  

    Bill C-57 should therefore be seen in a much broader context than merely as a measure to facilitate investment in a certain industry, an industry which, as I mentioned earlier, has enjoyed phenomenally high levels of investment over the decades. A few points need to be made with respect to the bill. First, the legislation as it is worded is not bad at all and should be retained.
    Second, if the bill were passed it would encourage investment in the nuclear industry and draw away potential investment from renewable energy alternatives.
    Third, we have already had a warning by the auditor general. A few years ago the auditor general made repeated references to the necessity of including the cost of decommissioning nuclear plants in the price of electricity. The fact that we seem to exclude from the cost of energy certain aspects and steps required by the nuclear industry needs to be addressed.
    I would submit, as the former auditor general did so well in his report, that the cost of decommissioning plants is becoming a reality as existing plants become older. In addition to that there is the cost of short term storage which, in the language of the people at the commission, means something up to 50 years.
    The costs of storage and decommissioning do not seem to make their way into the cost of electricity in the marketplace. These are two serious shortcomings from an economic point of view. It is true that the cost of energy should reflect exactly the cost of producing it. However because of its unique character nuclear energy should include the cost of materials which are used, stored for a while and then put away permanently, probably underground, at considerable expense. The issue has not yet been resolved despite the fine work of the Seaborn commission. Finally, there is the cost of decommissioning plants.
    We are talking about much more than a little amendment. We are talking about a complex process that deserves the attention of parliament if the industry is to attract further investment.
    The issue of temporary and safe storage is still with us, as has been registered forcefully by witnesses at committee in recent weeks. The issue of alternate storage is unresolved despite the efforts of the Seaborn commission. The costs of decommissioning and storage are not yet clear. It has not been clearly established whether they are included in the cost of a kilowatt hour. It is therefore inevitable that an amendment of this kind would trigger all these interventions by members concerned with the larger picture.

  (1220)  

    The larger picture leads to the issue of energy because we are talking about human requirements for energy and whether we need a new energy policy in Canada. I would submit, and I am sure many members in the House think the same way, that we badly need a new approach to energy policy because energy policy and the Kyoto agreement are intimately related.
    The need for a new energy policy should force us to think about our consumption levels, our demand and our supply. It should force us to ask ourselves difficult questions: Should we not be more careful in our use of energy? Should we not be more innovative? Should we not, as other members have said so eloquently, intensify and accelerate the shift from non-renewable to renewable sources of energy? Should we not redesign our taxation system to achieve the goals of our energy policy?
    A wide range of measures need to be contemplated for this type of major undertaking, an undertaking which is being resisted because of the energy policy of the early 1980s and the fear that a new policy may have negative political repercussions. However I am convinced that an honest and thorough effort on the part of the government to launch a new energy policy would be extremely well received by Canadians. It would involve all sectors of society and facilitate efforts to reach the objectives of the Kyoto protocol which we hope will be ratified soon.
    Coming back to Bill C-57, we should not be too bold in commenting on it beyond what has already been said. If there is a prorogation this summer and we go into a new session perhaps the best thing to hope for is that it dies on the order paper. We may then see a much broader approach to the nuclear question.
    I would be remiss if I did not mention that the bill brings to mind the question of nuclear liability. If I remember correctly, we are still suffering from a nuclear liability rate or insurance limit that is set at $75 million. In other words, in the case of a major disaster the liability would be set only at that amount. As members are probably aware, the Vienna convention and another convention, I do not remember which, set the minimum liability many years ago at $600 million in case of a disaster. We are now at $75 million. An amendment to the act, not the Nuclear Safety and Control Act but the Nuclear Liability Act, is therefore urgent and necessary if we are to have preventive measures in place should, perish the thought, something happen.
    The debate on Bill C-57 is forcing us to think about the broader issue of nuclear energy production and the various issues related to it. These include the cost of electricity, appropriate liability levels, the importance of drawing investment to the renewable sector, the need to reorganize our taxation system, and a host of other measures I am sure members have already covered or will cover in the course of the debate.

  (1225)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the member for Davenport.
    The member for Davenport is right. Contrary to what the minister for natural resources seems to be saying, this is not a purely administrative amendment.
    This bill, which we believe to be a mere housekeeping measure, will open a real Pandora's box. IWe are opening up the whole issue of nuclear energy and the storage and processing of the radioactive waste buried on site at nuclear plants. We are also opening up the issue of the proliferation of nuclear energy. We are wiping out any possibility of investment in wind energy and renewable energies.
    I would like to ask the following question to my colleague, the member for Davenport, because of the important speech he just made and because of his great wisdom. Does he not think that his government should withdraw Bill C-57 and say “say that it will examine the whole issue of nuclear energy and start all over, in the interests of Canadians”?

  (1230)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is no great wisdom on this side. I only gave my point of view and I am sure the government will carefully listen to the comments by all members, including those of the member for Jonquière.
    Naturally, as always, I will listen and pay close attention to what the member has to say when she decides to participate in this debate.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for Davenport for his analysis. He said lending money to the nuclear industry may take it away from other energy sectors where it may well be needed. It brought to mind a company whose representatives I talked to at a show. The company was trying to develop an industry around wave power but could not get financing in Canada. It is an excellent point.
    Is the hon. member concerned that if we provide an exemption for financiers in the nuclear industry we may be faced with a series of requests from lenders who want to lend to pesticide companies or chemical companies and are concerned about liability? Is he concerned that we would be developing a trend?
    Mr. Speaker, I must admit I have not thought that far. However it would not be the first time the hon. member for Windsor--St. Clair has been light years ahead of me in anticipating certain situations.
    I can only repeat what I said earlier. Investors in the nuclear industry have a special responsibility because it is not like any other industry. The present wording of the legislation, in the wisdom of the parliamentarians who passed it several decades ago, is the one I would recommend as being preferable. What we have now in the books is the proper approach. Investors should think before they make investments. If they choose the nuclear route they ought to carry the responsibility of their investment.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-57. As you know, nuclear energy is a very important issue to me.
    Two years ago, I had the opportunity to see, during more that a month, how the Canadian nuclear industry completely ignored the people of the Saguenay on the issue of the importation of MOX.
    I can only approach this issue with a very critical mind, particularly since Quebec has only one plant, the one in Gentilly. It is for this reason and for many others that I am so interested in this debate on Bill C-57, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, in order to change the category of people whom the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission can order to decontaminate a site.
    As it now stands, the act says that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission may, and I quote “...order that the owner or occupant of, or any other person with a right to or interest in the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination”.
    The phrase “any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place” is quite broad. It means that any person with an interest may be made to pay in case of a spill or any other kind of problem.
    A bank that would loan money to a plant could thus be sued and incur what would inevitably be very high costs. It is mainly to spare third parties, especially those able to finance the nuclear sector, that the bill was put forward.
    The purpose of the bill is to replace “any other person with right to or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination” by “any other person who has the management and control of, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination”.
    This amendment spares a whole group the obligation to decontaminate. It is not just a simple administrative amendment, as the minister would have us believe.
    We must therefore ask ourselves: Why is the Minister of Natural Resources putting forward this bill? In fact, as he indicated in his press release of last Friday, “Companies that own and operate nuclear facilities must have access to commercial credit to finance their needs, like any other enterprise”.
    “This amendment will allow the nuclear industry to attract market capital and equity. At the same time, we can continue to ensure that nuclear facilities are managed in a safe environmentally-sound manner”.
    Two elements caught my eye when I read this document, namely “finance their needs” and “environmentally-sound”.
    It is a well-known fact that the current government, led in that by the Prime Minister, has always considered nuclear energy as an incredible economic development tool. Moreover, in terms of respecting its Kyoto commitments, the government is very favourable to this kind of energy.
    Here is an example. Two or three years ago, the current Minister of Energy was taking part in a meeting in Bonn, Germany, on Kyoto. At that time, he suggested that Canada should be granted greenhouse gas emission credits because it exported CANDU reactors. Everybody laughed at him, and rightly so.
    As we know, nuclear energy is not clean. It produces so much radioactive waste that we do not know what to do with it anymore.

  (1235)  

    Yet, the Canadian government thinks differently. This is very serious. Indeed, the following can be read on AECL's Internet site:
Nuclear energy has many benefits, particularly in the area of environment. Nuclear energy emits no combustion by-products, no acid gases and no greenhouse gases. It is a clean, safe, and economical energy source that does not contribute to air pollution, global warming or acid rain.
    This is quite the propaganda tool, albeit an incomplete one. What AECL does not say is that we are stuck with over 20,000 tons of nuclear waste in Canada and that it will cost close to $13 billion to get rid of it. This waste is currently located on the sites of nuclear plants. Again, this government agency is really not telling all the truth to the public, and it would have us believe incomplete and biased information.
    Moreover, we must ask ourselves if nuclear energy is safe. Of course, the Chernobyl tragedy occurred because of the blatant lack of security measures in the former Soviet Union. The government claims that the Candu technology is the best in the world, as are its engineers. But what is the reality?
    Here is an excerpt from a report that was broadcast by Radio-Canada on August 11, 2000:
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is concerned about the quality of the maintenance of the main reactor at the Chalk River plant, close to Ottawa. The commission fears that the departure of several experts and engineers in recent years may jeopardize the safety of the plant's operations.
These concerns are in addition to the controversy surrounding the use of the Chalk River reactor to test MOX imported from the United States and Russia.
Samples of MOX, which is a radioactive fuel, have already been sent from the United States to the Chalk River nuclear plant. Atomic Energy of Canada is waiting for more samples from Russia before undertaking a series of tests.
    It was then that we people from the Saguenay led an all out battle to ensure that MOX imports would not travel through our region, because we know that it is not safe. The report goes on to say:
This project continues to generate controversy, but now the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is expressing concerns of its own. This time, it is not the movement of MOX that is the source of these concerns but, rather, the quality of the maintenance of Chalk River's main research reactor, the oldest one in Canada.
    I am still reading from this Radio-Canada report.
The problem is that, in 1999, a great number of very well trained people have left the plant. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has made an assessment and concluded that Atomic Energy Canada does not invest all the resources needed in replacement personnel training.
    Paul Lafrenière, who is the head of the nuclear facilities at the Chalk River plant, has stated:
Since 1957, we have been relying on a system of on the job training. The CNSC would like us to move to a new customized training.
    We can see that what is going on right now in nuclear plants makes no sense whatsoever. The Bloc Quebecois has suggested to the government a number of different courses of acation with respect to the nuclear industry.
    Recently, the Bloc made public an investment plan of $700 million over five years to promote the emergence of a wind energy industry in Quebec. It could contribute to the creation of 15,000 jobs in Quebec, most of them in the Gaspé peninsula.
    We should not forget that in 1997, in Kyoto, Canada made a commitment to reduce, by 2008 or 2010, its greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below the 1990 level.
    Reversing the tendency of increasing greenhouse gas emissions will limit the extreme weather occurrences like the ice storm and other environmental impacts like the low water level in the St. Lawrence River.
    To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we should strive for greater energy efficiency and produce more with less. This is a great opportunity to encourage technological innovation and develop new structuring industries.

  (1240)  

    It is in that context that the Bloc Quebecois is proposing a vast federal program for wind energy in the Gaspé Peninsula. For the federal government, the only alternative to clean and green energy is oil and nuclear energy. It has put $6 billion in the atomic energy program alone.
    As for financial assistance to the fossil energy industry, since 1970, the federal government has paid $66 billion in direct subsidies to the oil and gas industry. By comparison, businesses in the renewable energy sector received 200 times less from the federal government, which gave absolutely nothing for the development of hydroelectric power, a type of really clean energy that produces no greenhouse gases and no radioactive material. Quebec has been developing this type of energy for more than 40 years.
    That is why we believe that Canada should abandon the development of nuclear energy and follow the lead of countries such as Germany, which will permanently give up nuclear energy in 2025 in favour of green energies such as wind energy.
    I should point out that, over the last six years, the wind energy industry has experienced an average annual growth of 30%. Germany is the country that favours this kind of energy the most. The wind energy that it manages is 40 times greater than the total for Canada. Europe has almost 75% of the world's aerogenerators. The European Union wants to reach a target of 22% of its electricity from renewable energies, including a large part of it from wind energy.
    Canada lags far behind the leaders, with a production of only 207 megawatts. Even the United States has significant incentives, such as a subsidy of 2.7 ¢ per kilowatt hour, to reach a capacity of more than 5,000 kilowatts hour.
    Quebec accounts for 50% of this production, which is minimal considering its potential. According to experts, Quebec's wind energy potential, concentrated in the Gaspe Peninsula and the North Shore, ranges from 4,000 to 6,000 kilowatts-hour, which is about 60% of the total for Canada.
    The U.S. department of energy says that wind energy creates more jobs for each dollar that is invested than any other technology, five times more than in the case of coal or nuclear energy.
    The European Wind Energy Association has estimated that each megawatt of installed wind energy potential creates about 60 person-years of employment, or between 15 and 19 direct and indirect jobs. Therefore, in 1996, the newly installed 3,500 megawatts in Europe would have created 72,000 jobs.
    As a confirmation of the association's statements, in 2001, the wind industry was providing employment to more than 30,000 people. In California, where over $5 billion have been invested in the wind power industry since 1991, 5,200 jobs depend on that industry.
    That is why the Bloc Quebecois has always said that environment is important. Why is it important? The environment has been abused enough. We have caused enough damage to the environment and we must take immediate measures to protect the environment for future generations. Something has to be done; we have to go the way of renewable energy. Fossil fuels and nuclear energy must be abandoned.
    That is why, from today onward, we must invest in energies that create jobs. Let us not forget that the goal is to create wind potential of at least 1,000 megawatts in Quebec, mainly in the Gaspé area. As we know, the Gaspé area has been hit headlong by major job losses, specially with the closure of the mining operation in Murdochville.

  (1245)  

    They have the expertise in wind energy. It would be important to create industries making wind turbine components. They have a huge potential to make Canada one of the three best wind energy producers in the world. At present, this government is stubbornly staying the course of nuclear energy.
    The Bloc proposal would cost $700 million. This is not much compared to all the money that the government has invested in nuclear energy. Let us just compare this with what happened in Newfoundland, when the Canadian government invested money in the Hibernia project. The federal government invested a lot of money in this project.
    Today, it tells us that it has no money. It has a budget surplus of $9.8 million for the fiscal year that just ended alone. It has the money; what is missing is the will.
    The government tells us that it wants to help the regions. As you know, I am responsible for the regional development issue for the Bloc Quebecois. The government wants to help the regions but is not using the means that reflect the realities of the regions to provide them with the potential to develop. A huge number of jobs would be created in the Gaspé peninsula. This new approach would also allow this government to come out a winner.
    Other aspects of the program could also be used. Bill C-57, as tabled by the natural resources minister, is more than an administrative amendment. It will bring about the further development of nuclear energy. It must stop. The government must stop going in all directions at the same time. It is always introducing small bills. It does not ask itself what the effects of its legislation will be. It seems that it is working in a vacuum when it introduces bills.
    This bill affects many sectors, including the storing and treatment of nuclear waste that is presently stored in nuclear plants. The Seaborn panel proposed different approaches. Experiments were conducted in the Canadian Shield; there is nothing conclusive yet.
    The legislation allows for the investment of more funds in the development of nuclear energy. Enough is enough. The government must stop. I am asking it to withdraw Bill C-57. This legislation does not address the nuclear problem, it allows for its development.
    Consequently, we must understand that this bill is a lot more than the administrative change the natural resources minister referred to. The bill will allow for maximal development of nuclear energy. I cannot approve such a philosophy.
    That is why, as the member for Jonquière representing people who are very concerned about nuclear energy, I am asking the government to withdraw its bill. If it does not do so, I will vote against it.

  (1250)  

    Mr. Speaker, first I would like to congratulate my colleague, the hon. member for Jonquière, on her speech.
    According to her, is it unrealistic to think that one day, the Liberal government will turn green? I am not asking the government to stop being red, but it could be a bit greener. The fact of the matter is that the investment it is seeking from the private sector for nuclear energy will mean less money for the development of renewable resources.
    Moreover, as my colleague clearly demonstrated, not only is wind power a renewable energy but it creates jobs. In regions like the Gaspé peninsula, this would be beneficial in every regard: for job creation, for families and, of course, for the government, in tax revenue.

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Sherbrooke, and congratulate him for his performance in the matter we are dealing with today.
    If we keep raising the issue, I hope it will become less and less unrealistic for this government to take a greener approach.
    I hope the government will wake up. It has the power to change its way of doing things, with us, in the opposition, who are advocating the use of environmentally sound approaches, of new, green energies such as wind and hydro-electric power, which must be promoted.
    I hope this government gets out of utopia and moves in the right direction so that we can finally take steps to improve our environment.
    Mr. Speaker, I would also like to point out that my colleague from Jonquière sat as I did on the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources when the report on the long term management of nuclear waste was examined.
    She is therefore very much attuned to the nuclear waste problem. We had the opportunity to look into it in great depth and it is, obviously, a major problem.
    I wonder how anyone could convince him or herself that there is no problem with nuclear energy. Just dig a hole, dump in the waste, and the world will be none the worse for it.
    I wonder how anyone could have such a perception of things. This is both my first question and my first comment.
    I imagine that the process of osmosis, as far as the Liberal members are concerned, is not working very well. Given the colour of the seats in the House, they ought to have gone green a long time ago.
    Mr. Speaker, the humour of our colleague, the member for Sherbrooke, is always recognizable.
    It is true that we took part together in the consideration of the bill that put forward some means of getting rid of the waste that is now buried at nuclear plant sites. We know that, besides having a life, waste has a half-life of several hundreds of thousands of years.
    Just imagine that. The government does not know yet—even after the Seaborn report—what it will do with the waste that is stored at nuclear plant sites. There is now almost 20,000 tonnes of it. This is huge. The government does not know what to do with it.
    Imagine if, on top of this, through such a bill, the government were to allow people, providers of financing, to avoid being held responsible for the pollution that would result from further nuclear development.
    Imagine all the waste that would be created every day, during all these years to come, yet the government does not know what to do with the waste currently stored at our nuclear plant sites.
    As my colleague from Sherbrooke said, I hope, if the trend could continue, given all the green seats in the House, that the government will choose this colour.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague if she agrees with me. Like almost everybody else, for some time now I have been pondering all the problems we have in our society and my conclusion has been very simple; it can be summed up in just one word: concentration.
    When we talk about greenhouse gas emissions, in fact we are really talking about concentrations of these emissions that are too high. When we wonder about all the problems there are in the area of nuclear energy, we are really thinking about the high concentration of nuclear waste.
    Finally, in almost all areas, even in the case of social problems, everything is due to concentration. Therefore, this problem is even bigger than we think.
    Even here in the House, the problem is due to concentration; there are simply too many Liberal members.

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, even if this is a very serious issue, my colleague, the member for Sherbrooke, is such a humorous person that I cannot help but laugh; it certainly helps to lighten things up.
    It is true that concentration keeps the people from opening their minds up to other ideas. When all our energies are focused on one point, we cannot see the forest for the trees. This is why the government should withdraw this bill and start all over again on the whole nuclear energy issue: storage, processing, development and alternative energies.
    The government should draft a bill and rework the whole issue of nuclear energy, so that Canada can improve the situation. We have to get on with the greening of Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, since I have a little bit of time left, I would like to make a comment.
    On the topic of wind energy, to stay in the same vein, even here in this House, we could save a lot of energy by installing a small windmill. With all the hot air produced by Liberal members across the way, the windmill would go round and round and light up the whole chamber. It would probably produce a greener light, which would provide more inspiration to the Liberal members. That was my comment.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to second what my colleague from Sherbrooke just said. It would be a good idea to start in this very chamber. Just imagine how much we could improve the quality of the environment in Quebec and in Canada.
    I urge the Minister of the Environment, who is here in the House, to take the necessary steps to finally ratify the Kyoto protocol and develop wind energy, especially in the Gaspe peninsula.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-57, which was introduced at first reading on May 31, 2002.
    It is fair to say that in this House we have seen more comprehensive bills amending a number of acts. However, the bill before us today amends a single section of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. According to the sponsor of the bill, the Minister of Natural Resources, the bill is designed to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. He calls it an administrative amendment or bill, meaning that it is not a complete overhaul of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.
    However, this amendment, even though this is not obvious yet, will have a serious impact on the way the nuclear industry operates here in Canada. It is significant that the minister has decided to introduce the bill we are debating today. The bill amends the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.
    Of course, I will speak about Bill C-57 and the amendments at issue, but I would also like to talk about the long term management of nuclear waste.
    Members will recall that there has already been a debate in the House on the disposal of nuclear waste. This debate took place in the context of Bill C-27. This was an interesting bill, as it was introduced and considered in committee. It was also interesting because Canada studied the issue of nuclear waste management for a ten year period with the Seaborn commission, which I will speak about later.
    Of course, I will speak to Bill C-57, and I will also refer to Bill C-27 and the whole issue of nuclear waste disposal. I will also speak to the issue of the importance of public consultations in cases where the disposal of such waste is being considered in locations and regions in Quebec and Canada.
    As an example, there is a case we asked questions about to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission just this morning in the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. There was even a ruling on this case by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. It is the case of the Bruce complex in Ontario. This is a site where radioactive waste will be stored on the shores of Lake Huron, and the residents would have liked a commission to have been set up, through the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, to consult with residents and to study the projects.
    The Bruce complex is located on the shores of Lake Huron and has been designated, first, as a high level complex. Second, it is one of the biggest disposal sites in the world. The residents would therefore have liked to have been consulted.
    Finally, I would like to close by outlining to Canadians and Quebecers the impact that nuclear waste and nuclear energy can have on human health. A number of reports have been published on this. These reports conclude that nuclear waste and nuclear energy are significant in the development of certain diseases when workers, residents and more specifically children are near this waste.

  (1305)  

    So, Bill C-57 amends the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. Clause 1 would replace a paragraph in the current legislation, which reads as follows: “--any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination”.
    Bill C-57 would amend paragraph 46(3) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to read as follows: “--any other person who has the management and control of, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination”.
    In fact, only a few words will be changed if this bill is passed. But the impact will be considerable.
    In his press release, the minister tells us that these amendments are purely administrative. That may be so from a cosmetic point of view, but the impact will be considerable.
    What are the government's true intentions in introducing this amendment? It is good to ask ourselves this question. If the amendment is purely administrative, there should not be any impact. But this bill amends the act significantly and will have a considerable impact on the development of the nuclear industry here in Canada.
    Basically, the government wants this amendment to exempt one group from decontamination obligations. Third parties should no longer be responsible for decontamination.
    In this connection, we know what the government's intentions are. Its true intentions are to ensure, for example, that a bank making a loan to a nuclear plant could—under the existing legislation, if we succeed in defeating this bill—be taken to court and would inevitably incur very high costs.
    It is primarily to exempt these third parties, the banks, those able to finance the nuclear industry, that this bill was introduced.
    The government wants to arrange it so that those parties—be they banks or other interests—who have helped developed the nuclear industry in Canada are exempt from their decontamination obligation.
    This runs counter to a fundamental principle recognized in Quebec which is that the polluter pays. Anyone who contributed to the contamination of a site must share the costs of decontamination.
    We on this side of the House are of the opinion that to the extent that a citizen, a third party, but more importantly a citizen, whether a corporate entity or not, has contributed to contamination by nuclear wastes, he must assume the costs thereof. This is what the government is trying to take away with this bill and this is basically what we are opposed to.
    There have been some significant debates on this in the past. As my colleague from Sherbrooke has indicated, a commission was set up here in Canada because the storage of nuclear waste needed to be given some thought. There are 20,000 metric tonnes of waste—or 18,000 to be more precise—in Canada at the present time.
    This represents 1.3 million bundles, as we know, and we also know that there are three types of waste: nuclear fuel waste, low level radioactive waste and uranium mine and mill tailings.

  (1310)  

    It is worthwhile taking the time to look at the nuclear waste situation in Canada. It must be pointed out that, of these 20,000 tonnes of waste, the bulk of it comes from spent nuclear fuel bundles. We are talking here of the 22 Candu reactors, most of which date back to the 1970s. Ontario Power Generation Inc. is currently operating 20 reactors. At the present time, 90% of the nuclear waste is in Ontario.
    Hydro Québec produces some at its Gentilly plant, of course, but the nuclear waste produced in Quebec accounts for only 3% of the total of 20,000 tonnes currently available, if I may use such a term.
    An energy company in New Brunswick accounts for another 5%. Atomic Energy of Canada' experimental reactors produce 2%, of the total of 1.3 million bundles.
    We have trouble understanding how certain obligations can be taken away, how steps can be taken so that third parties will no longer be responsible for decontamination, when we can see what the problem is like in Canada at this time as far as the management of nuclear waste storage is concerned. How can bills get passed in this House that will facilitate the development of the Canadian nuclear industry while we are having such trouble managing the present 18,000 tonnes? This makes no sense whatsoever.
    Why, as a matter of public policy, are we not focusing on the development of clean renewable energies, as my colleague from Jonquière suggested about ten minutes ago? How can we adopt measures like the one in front of us, which benefits this industry, while we are still waiting for financial incentives to develop renewable energies?
    I am glad to see that the Minister of Environment is present to hear what I have to say. How can he feel comfortable in a debate on this issue? How can we reject that proposal and apply the polluter pay principle? This bill raises some questions.
    I will summarize the Seaborn commission findings. For one thing, what we are expecting from the government in terms of a nuclear fuel waste management plan is that the technical aspects of the storage program be taken into consideration at the planning stage.
    Public consultation has to be at the basis of the Canadian policy on waste management. Canadians livre right beside the waste storage complexes. The best solution cannot be only technical. It has to include a sociological approach to management. We would have liked to see the government focus on green energy instead of making social choices that favour the Canadian nuclear industry.

  (1315)  

    The government is again being called to account for its refusal to hold public consultations, which were called for by the Seaborn commission.
    On May 30, 2002, Normand de la Chevrotière appeared as a witness before the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, on the issue of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Bill C-19. He told us that his group, which includes 300 families, had asked the government to establish an environmental assessment board to examine the Bruce complex, which is designed to store radioactive nuclear waste near his community.
    This complex on the shore of Huron Lake and the waste storage site are considered among the biggest in the world and are termed high level facilities, and experts will understand what I mean. People from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission told us this morning that they are certainly the biggest in North America.
    I was reading some papers this morning, particularly an article from the September 1996 issue of Québec Science. Six years ago, the possibility of storing weapons grade plutonium from Russia and the U.S. at the Bruce complex was being examined . Six years ago, papers in the scientific community were considering this possibility.
    The Department of Environment deemed that it was not appropriate to consult the public. It does not matter that 300 families will be living close to this site.
    I want to go back to what I was saying two minutes ago when I was referring to the conclusions of the Seaborn panel. Sure, it is necessary to evaluate storage techniques but, more importantly, the public must be consulted.
    I am under the impression that this bill is providing oxygen to the Canadian nuclear industry. The government is promoting the establishment in Canada of places to store nuclear waste, while ensuring that third parties, who may not necessarily have the responsibility to manage these sites, cannot be required to decontaminate them.
    If a bank decides to fund the Bruce complex storage project, will it be responsible for decontaminating the site if this bill is passed? The answer is no. Those who will have provided the necessary funding to establish this complex on the shores of Lake Huron will have no environmental responsibility.
    We want this government to send to the nuclear industry a clear message that its members must behave like good corporate citizens. The legislation already provides for the funding of storage projects by banks. However, it is totally unacceptable on the part of the government to remove the banks' responsibilities by condoning this.
    So, this bill must be examined from a different perspective, not from the perspective of the government, which is trying to fool us with mere administrative and cosmetic arguments, because it wants to ram this legislation through the House. This shows how, sometimes, bills that amend only one section may have a major impact.
    This is why we are opposed to the bill's only clause. It will have a major impact on the development of Canada's nuclear industry.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Rosemont—Petite-Patrie. Like my colleague from Jonquière, he is particularly committed to the environment. He is also a striking example of renewable energy. Today is his birthday; I believe he is turning 33, yet he looks 18. His is a constantly renewable energy.
    Sometimes there are things that I do not comprehend. Even the public would like to know this. My colleague talked about 18,000 tonnes of nuclear waste. It can be hard to imagine how much waste that represents. I wonder if my colleague could explain.
    At the same time, given that the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Natural Resources do not seem to be concerned about nuclear waste, I would like him to tell me whether it could be stored in their swimming pools.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is interesting. These 18,000 tonnes of waste represent 1.3 million bundles and it is only one kind of waste. As I said, there are three different kinds of waste: nuclear fuel waste, low radioactivity waste and uranium mine and mill tailings.
    I mentioned earlier the issue of spent fuel storage bays. Since these 18,000 tonnes of waste represent only one kind of nuclear waste, members can easily see how much nuclear waste there is in Canada. I was referring only to nuclear fuel waste dealt with in Bill C-57.
    We know that storing this kind of nuclear waste is a problem at present. Spent fuel storage bays are overflowing. The capacity for conventional storage of nuclear waste, the conventional method of storing and stockpiling nuclear waste is being exceeded. There is no more room. Meanwhile, the government is putting forward a bill to foster the nuclear industry in Canada. This does not make sense. Here in Canada, we have to have a real debate on the various sources of energy.
    Canada is at a crossroad. We must change direction and put forward measures, both legislative and fiscal, to develop renewable energy. In a few years, we will no longer be able to provide non polluting green energy, but we will be stuck with waste we have nowhere to store except in the Canadian Shield. We debated this solution, but nothing has been decided yet.
    We must not look for ways to increase the number of storage bays. We must not look for new methods of storing nuclear waste. A logical situation would be to reduce waste. At present, we have nowhere left to store waste and we are looking for new ways to do so.
    What we should do is stop producing nuclear waste. To this end, we need a Canadian energy policy designed to develop renewable energy.
    We are still waiting for a wind energy policy, for which the government has been announcing a few million dollars here and there. We are waiting for the greening of the energy sector for the sake of future generations, but also to comply with the Kyoto protocol, which Canada has yet to ratify.

  (1325)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to know something from my colleague.
    Of course, it takes political will to get rid, at some point, of this dependence on nuclear power. Politicians must really want to do so.
    However, I wonder if my colleague has thought about the way to get rid of nuclear plants and nuclear energy. We are aware—we must be realistic—that this represents big investments. We are also aware that even bigger investments are required to maintain these plants. But we have, of course, the renewable energies that could be used to replace nuclear energy. We are able to use them. It has been demonstrated; my colleague has demonstrated this. It is feasible with wind power, and the money would be available if the government had the will to invest in this.
    The fact remains that the day when we do away with nuclear energy, we will still have to manage that. I do not know if my colleague, following his erudite readings and reflections, has thought about a quick suggestion that the Liberal government would have no choice but to immediately agree with.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an excellent question. I hope the Minister of the Environment will listen to the answer.
    The best example is probably Germany, one of the European countries that produces wind energy. I see my NDP colleague, with whom I had the good fortune to go to Marrakesh, where we met people from the German embassy who explained to us—and I remember clearly—how Germany made the transition from nuclear to wind energy.
    I have a few figures to show that it is feasible. In a few years, Germany went from producing nuclear energy to producing wind energy. Its current production is 8,753 megawatts, which accounts for 35.8% of the world's total wind energy production.
    These countries did not succeed in making this transition by adopting measures that favour nuclear energy, as we are about to do today. On the contrary, they did it with financial incentives for every kilowatt-hour produced through wind energy. There are examples, including in California, where subsidies of nearly 2.6 ¢ per kilowatt hour have been given for wind energy.
    This allows a country such as Germany to go from nuclear energy, a polluting type of energy, to wind energy, a non polluting type of energy. It also helps the environmental sector.
    Let us not forget one thing. Those who claim that the ratification of the Kyoto protocol will create considerable economic costs for Canada are mistaken. In that regard, Germany is a conclusive example. Denmark is another example where wind energy production has been greatly increased.
    To conclude, I will say that Germany is the best example. It went from nuclear energy to wind energy, which brought not only economic benefits, but also environmental benefits.

  (1330)  

    Mr. Speaker, it brings me great pleasure to rise and speak to Bill C-57. I would like to thank my learned colleagues, the member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie and the member for Sherbrooke, who so clearly outlined the position of the Bloc Quebecois on this matter and the fact that Canada is again sitting on the fence and continues to use traditional energy sources, when there are some wonderful developments around the world in all kinds of new energies that are far greener.
    The purpose of my speech today is to focus on this legislative amendment, which appears to be simple, as certain Liberal members opposite have said, but which illustrates quite well this government's Liberal philosophy. This is what I am critical of.
    The current legislation regarding the responsibility of those who do not respect their responsibility to decontaminate a nuclear site says that the occupants are:
—any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.
    Today, this text would be replaced by:
—any other person who has the management and control of, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.
    The government's objective is clear. It wants to get the banks off the hook and it has said as much. They want to keep the bankers, who would support investment, from being held responsible in any way for the decontamination of a site, or for related costs that could be incurred. However, it goes even further. The words “a right to or interest in”, could even include the federal government, which, through subsidies to industry, might have been seen to have a legal right or responsibility. Obviously, this is the objective of this government. This Liberal philosophy is about ridding itself of any responsibility.
    Once again today, we are getting its friends and bankers, who are often great friends of the Liberal Party, off the hook. Inevitably, this leads to getting ourselves off the hook. This bill gets the government off the hook and frees it of any responsibility for contamination that could occur at a nuclear plant site. This is terrible for Quebecers and even more so for Canadians, since most nuclear sites are located in the rest of Canada.
    It is a terrible thing not to bring out the fact that the government is not taking this opportunity to show the public what its philosophy is. The government does not take any responsiblities anymore. It is leaving the private sector to make out as best it can. When bankruptcies occur, no one is held responsible. This happens all the time.
    While governments tend more and more to take responsibility for contamination, this government is walking away from its responsibilities and getting its friends, the bankers, off the hook. This shows what the Liberal philosophy is. To me, this is probably the most difficult. Since my election in the fall of 2000, I have seen how, in keeping with this philosophy, the federal government has simply decided to no longer get involved in any community problems.
    Here are a few vivid reminders of this. During the terrible events of September 11, Canadians and Americans witnessed a unique and unprecedented situation in North America. An industry suffered in the aftermath, and several airline companies were among the casualties. Believe it or not, the federal government did not invest a cent, except for closing down the Canadian airspace for six days and compensating air carriers for the increase in insurance premiums. Nothing more.
    It has let several air carriers fold. Men and women who had a lot of experience in air travel lost their jobs. The government allowed this human capital to be lost, taking for granted that the market would pick up and preferring to let it decide all things. This is what the Liberal philosophy is all about.

  (1335)  

    The government did the same thing in the automobile industry. My riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel borders Boisbriand, where the GM plant is located. The current Minister of Justice, who was responsible for regional development in Quebec, made the announcement: there was nothing that could be done anymore; the Boisbriand plant was going to shut down. He had just attended a meeting with GM officials in Canada and it so happened that he was the one giving the bad news that the plant would shut down.
    These days, GM workers are engaged in very important discussions. On the table is a proposal whereby GM is offering to protect union members aged 50 or more. Under the orphan clause, the younger workers will practically lose everything with the closing of this plant. This never bothered the Liberal members of this House for one moment. We had a debate during an opposition day and Liberal members never even spoke. This is the reality.
    They are letting the free market dictate things and even though Quebecers buy 26% of all automobiles in Canada, the federal government finds it perfectly normal not to have an auto manufacturing industry in Quebec. On the other hand, they centralize: everything is concentrated in Ontario and they find this very normal.
    Again, this shows the Liberal philosophy of letting the free market dictate things, regardless of the consequences of the closing of GM's plant in Boisbriand. I am talking about human capital, about men and women who had a lot of experience. These people will lose their jobs but, more importantly, this human capital will no longer be available for Canada's automobile industry.
    It was the same thing in the airline industry. After September 11, the government let the airlines down. Recently, it was the softwood lumber issue. We had long debates and extensive discussions during which the government stated its position.
    We are very upset that the Americans imposed a 27% countervailing duty. The minister responsible for this issue told us in the House “We did everything that we could”. The result is that thousands of men and women are losing their jobs, a huge human capital will be lost, because plants are closing everywhere.
    The only thing the government saw fit to do was to put forward a $75 million aid package for research and development, to benefit its friends of course. Once again, the mighty big is going to swallow up the small. With a $75 million aid package for research and development, major companies will once again take advantage of the bankruptcy of weaker companies. Bigger monopolies will be created. Often, this is where the major contributors to the Liberal Party are found.
    Today, again, we have a fourth revelation through a bill the Liberal Party seems to have introduced in a rather inconspicuous way. In the nuclear industry, it wants only those in management to be responsible for taking measures to reduce the level of contamination in nuclear sites, mainly to exempt bankers.
    The government wants to exempt bankers; it wants to let the markets decide. What it is hiding behind all this is the desire to exempt itself from any responsibility regarding contamination of such sites.
    This affects the safety of citizens throughout Canada, slightly less in Quebec, but it is very difficult. We are not wishing any disaster on anybody, in Canada or anywhere else.
    As we know, the Liberal Party has been going through rough times these past few weeks, and yet the government found a way to introduce a bill that is very important for the safety of people in Canada and Quebec.
    This important bill is aimed at no longer holding accountable people who may have a right to or interest in the affected place; only those managing such a place will be held accountable.
    Bankers are now exempt and so is the federal government, which could have been held accountable by law for having provided grants to renovate a plant. It will no longer have any responsibilities for such places.

  (1340)  

    Once again, as I have said, this is a Liberal philosophy that seems to leave everything up to private enterprise as far as responsibilities are concerned. Yet, with regard to safety and nuclear pollution, the damage cannot be assessed in financial terms. If there is a catastrophe, the damage will be terrible.
    Today, this party ever so charmingly is introducing this bill, once again with the support of the Canadian Alliance, which is no better than the people opposite. Obviously, whenever the government enacts measures aimed at decentralization in favour of private enterprise or assigning responsibility to private enterprise, it always has the backing of the Canadian Alliance. In my estimation, they are worse than the Liberal government.
    So there we have the Canada of today. There is no protection for the weak and the oppressed. There is no protection for those who are so in need everywhere in Canada. As far as the nuclear issue is concerned, there could of course be catastrophes that would totally devastate families.
    No problem, though. The federal government wants no responsibility, particularly no responsibility for its buddies, the bankers, who might be the ones bankrolling projects. The federal government will not, of course, want to put its money into businesses.
    What they want is for private enterprise to be able to get involved in lending to it without any responsibility except for getting its money back if ever any profit is generated.
    Once again, we need to update the Liberal philosophy which is increasingly sloughing off responsibility and placing a lot of it on the private sector. As we know, private enterprise often exists solely on the paper that creates it. This has been seen in all the scandals that have been going on, companies behind other companies, numbered companies and the like.
    There is the sponsorship scandal. Even for a single funding of any activity, regardless of how praiseworthy that activity might be, two or three companies will be skimming off some 12% or so, and then contributing to the Liberal Party subsequently. That is the way things are.
    They really want to be able to do business with the private sector. When private enterprise has too many responsibilities, as is the case here with nuclear waste, steps are being taken to absolve their little banker friends of any responsibility, for otherwise none of their funds will be forthcoming.
    The obvious solution is for the government, if it really does believe in nuclear energy to that extent, to give sufficient resources to those involved in this sector for the industry and its equipment to be safe.
    It is therefore digging into its coffers and its marvellous surplus in order to be able to help the industry, rather than requiring the private sector and the banks to finance nuclear energy. It tells them “In any case, if you provide financing, you will no longer be liable. If anything happens, it will just be an unfortunate event”.
    It is an unfortunate event for a banker, but a tragedy for all the people living in the vicinity of these plants.
    Once again, our Liberal friends across the way have no social conscience. Their social conscience continues to shrink. The more time passes, the more we see that not only do they lack an economic conscience, but their social conscience is shrinking as well. This becomes clear with a bill such as Bill C-57.
    As I said, I found it hard to accept this lack of responsibility toward communities. I gave four examples.
    There was September 11 with the airline industry. There was the example in the auto industry, with the closing of the GM plant in Boisbriand. The government never stepped in to support employees or come up with reprimands or try to negotiate with GM to keep the auto industry in Quebec.
    It is the same with the softwood lumber industry. There is no support there either. Once again, there is no concern about social support for men and women who often represent—in the auto, airline or softwood lumber industries—significant human potential with unprecedented skills. By not supporting these industries, all the government is doing is favouring its friends, who are the most powerful and the biggest in the industry, so that they can take over other companies.
    In the process, thousands of jobs are being lost. That is the hard reality of it. In the case of the nuclear industry, people will be exempt from liability. Bankers, who have provided the financing for projects, will be allowed not to check. Without any liability, they will obviously be much less rigorous in their environmental checks.
    When this bill uses the wording “any other person who has the management and control of”, it is so that the federal government will not have any liability in the nuclear sector.

  (1345)  

    In this regard, I agree with my colleagues from Rosemont—Petite-Patrie and Sherbrooke. While the use of such nice renewable and non polluting energies as wind energy is expanding worldwide, and great projects could be available in Quebec, including the Gaspé peninsula, this bill provides nothing to support the industry or wind energy. There is absolutely nothing, let alone a major program to replace nuclear energy with wind energy, so that bills do not have to be introduced in the House to try to take responsibilities away from almost everyone who could be affected by nuclear energy, including our friends the bankers, as the Liberals are doing. The federal government is washing its hands of responsibility, if ever it had to invest any money through a grant or otherwise. Otherwise, it would have been bound automatically, like a banker. This is the reality.
    If we want to take away the responsibilities of bankers and if, as a government, we think that we did not have any responsibility, think again. When a bank invests in a business, it has responsibilities. When a government invests money through grants in a business, it has responsibilities.
    With this bill, decontamination becomes the responsibility of those who manage the business. The federal government is already having trouble managing its own affairs. It certainly will not try to manage the private sector. People who are listening to us certainly understand that. Bankers manage their banks on behalf of their shareholders. What is most important to them is the dividends they pay to the shareholders every three months, not what may be happening in the field or the problems that a community may be experiencing because of nuclear pollution.
    This is not an easy end of session for the Liberal government. It introduced Bill C-57 practically in a panic, to try to keep the members of this House busy. Again, and I will never repeat it often enough, the Liberal philosophy prevails. The government does not want to take responsibility for anything, especially not social and community problems.
    It washes its hands of all that. What is worse, the Liberal government even divests its banker friends of any responsibility. In this regard, the bill clearly says that those who do not manage a company and could have some responsibility for the decontamination of nuclear sites will have no such responsibility.
    Numbered companies will be allowed to continue to operate nuclear sites and, if there are damages, the people will suffer the consequences. Nobody will want to help these communities. Help will only come after the fact. They will never get help before a problem occurs or while a problem is occurring. A responsible banker and a responsible government see to it that the industry always complies with environmental standards. With this bill, bankers and the government will no longer be responsible.
    Such a business will then be left to itself. When financial difficulties occur, businessmen do not focus on environmental problems. They rather try to resolve short term problems like paying the employees salary and others. In the last years of operation of a business, it tends to worry very little about the environment. This is the harsh reality of this bill: the bad managers will be left to themselves, and we will have to pick up the pieces after. But above all, nobody will ever be accountable. They will all be able to say that they co-operated to the project. The banker and the government, having given a subsidy, may say “It is not our fault. It is the fault of those who were there, if things went wrong”. What matters is being able to say “It is not our fault”. In the case of a nuclear pollution disaster, they will all say “It is not our fault, it is the managers' fault”.
    This Liberal philosophy of divesting oneself of responsibilities and not having any social or community consciousness is reflected in Bill C-57. It was also present in all the problems that the airline industry experienced after September 11. It is also reflected in the problems faced by the automobile industry, with the closing of GM's plant in Boisbriand for example. It is reflected in the problems faced by the softwood lumber industry since the failure of the negotiations between Canada and the United States. It comes from the desire to skirt any responsibility, and to try and save friends, particularly banker friends in this case, and the government that could have had a certain responsibility. However, when it comes to the airline companies, the automobile industry and the softwood lumber industry, it is a matter of encouraging cronies whose greater might will enable them to gobble up smaller ones, even if it means that thousands of jobs will be lost.

  (1350)  

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all Quebecers and Canadians, I want to thank the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel for his efforts to protect the environment in Quebec and in Canada.
    I would like to make a comparison with one of the main issues that my colleague is responsible for, namely Bill C-55 on controlled access military zones. In this bill, which is brilliantly reviewed by my colleague, I cannot help but see how, on the one hand, the government is prepared to interfere with people's freedom in the name of security and, on the other hand, how it is prepared to jeopardize public safety for the benefit of the nuclear energy industry. We are well aware that nuclear energy produces waste that is difficult to control.
    This is very clear. On the one hand, the government is leaning in one direction, while on the other hand it is leaning in the other direction. Who is the Liberal government trying to protect? The public or the interests of a nuclear energy program, this at the expense of public safety? I would like to hear the hon. member on this issue.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Sherbrooke for his question. He has interpreted the dichotomy in the Liberal Party's position very well.
    In Bill C-55, the government is submitted to pressure from the machinery of government, from the bureaucrats, who for dozens of years have dreamed of imposing their views and their policies on Canadians, one department at a time. Using September 11 as an excuse, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-55, saying to Canadians “Canada will be a safer place once Bill C-55 is passed”.
    The question we have been asking the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport, responsible for this question, has always been the same: what could you not have done prior to September 11 that a bill like Bill C-55 would allow you to do?
    Once again, based on the statements made by the Prime Minister and all of the ministers, we do not know any more. They talk about national security. Today, with Bill C-57, dealing with nuclear safety and regulations, the Government of Canada is shirking its responsibility for the safety of people who could be threatened by nuclear pollution.
    This government is led and directed by its public servants. It is currently much more concerned about its Liberal leadership race than it is about problems experienced by the public. It just introduced a bill in the House in the name of security.
    The only security provided in Bill C-57 is for their banker friends, who will now have no responsibility whatsoever if they decide to invest in nuclear energy. This is the security the government is providing for its banker friends with Bill C-57, while Bill C-55 is intended to provide security for all Canadians.
    This is the sign of a government that, at this time, has a great many other concerns than the security of Canadians or Quebecers.

  (1355)  

    I wish to inform the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel that, if he wishes, he will have five minutes for questions and comments after oral question period.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[S. O. 31]

[English]

Billy Bishop

    Mr. Speaker, last Sunday in Owen Sound I attended the 85th anniversary of the awarding of the Victoria Cross to William Avery Bishop. If we fail to respect our heroes, we have no past, no present and no future. Attending the ceremonies were Arthur Bishop, Billy's son, and his granddaughter Diana Bishop.
    During World War I Billy flew several sorties that were defining moments in the war. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross. When I was mayor of Owen Sound in 1987 we built an airport and we dedicated it in his name so that his memory could live on. In our cemetery we have David Currie, Billy Bishop and Thomas Holmes, all Victoria Cross recipients.
    May they rest in peace because they were great heroes for our country and our democracy.

Softwood Lumber

    Mr. Speaker, the government's inaction on softwood is hurting real people and real families in my riding and across British Columbia. Thanks to the government the problem will only get worse as the 27% duty now has to be paid in cash at the border.
    In my own riding I recently visited Chasyn Wood Technologies in Maple Ridge which employs over 100 workers. I was moved listening to the concerns of Chasyn workers in their lunchroom about their frustration with the prospect of losing their jobs. Job losses in one sector often have a ripple effect and they could eventually devastate towns and grow to hurt the whole province.
    Close to 100 Chasyn employees have signed a petition calling on the Minister for International Trade and the Prime Minister to act now. The Prime Minister must push the U.S. to consider the bigger picture and to set up a rules based trade body that works before workers and families at Chasyn and across British Columbia are thrown out of work.
    I join with hard working families of British Columbia and urge the Liberal government to stop neglecting softwood and act now before more jobs are lost.

[Translation]

Volunteerism

    Mr. Speaker, since the International Year of the Family in 1994, the City of Plessisville has honoured a family that has been particularly involved in the community over the course of the year. In 2002, the honourees are the Morin family.
    Marc Morin was the chief organizer of the Marathon of Hope, the objective of which is to raise funds for needy people in the region. His wife Chantal and their three children, Pierrick, Marielou and Émilie, are also involved in helping their fellow citizens. Whether the activity relates to culture, sports, community or economic development, there is often a Morin involved.
    This family from Lotbinière—L'Érable has even gotten involved on the international scene as well.
    My congratulations to them for their volunteer involvement. This family is a model for all Canadians. Well done, Morin family of Lotbinière—L'Érable.

  (1400)  

[English]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, on the evening of Sunday, May 26 I had the pleasure of attending a sunset ceremony parade for the cadet corps and squadrons of the Winnipeg area. The ceremony is one that is steeped in military tradition. Its most important part being the inspection of the troops by a reviewing officer.
    Among the six cadet corps on parade was 553 Sergeant Tommy Prince (PPCLI), an aboriginal cadet corps named after Canada's most highly decorated aboriginal soldier. Also on parade that day were the 2295 Royal Winnipeg Rifles Cadet Corps, the 407 Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, 2701 PPCLI, 170 Air Squadron and 77 Daerwood Selkirk Corps. All the units were reviewed and inspected by Major-General James Lucas. He will be relocating to Ottawa very soon where he will continue to add to his more than 32 years of experience with the Canadian military.
    A special thanks goes out to Major-General Lucas, as well as everyone else who contributed to making the ceremony a success, especially the cadets whose hard work, long hours of rehearsal and dedication made it all possible.

[Translation]

Élevages Ruban Bleu

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to congratulate a business in my riding, Les Élevages Ruban Bleu of Saint-Isidore, which was recognized as the provincial award winner at the 27th congress of the Fédération des agricotours du Québec for its promotion of goat cheese.
    The jury selected it because of the devotion and caring of its operators, Denise Poirier and Jean-Paul Rivard, to ensure that visitors have an opportunity enjoy “a total farm experience”.
    One of the reasons for the 50% increase in the number of visitors to this farm and its great success over the past 10 years is its Pavillon Ruban Bleu. This interpretive centre provides visitors with the opportunity to learn more about the farm's products.
    Congratulations to Les Élevages Ruban Bleu for their dynamism, their vision of the future and their contribution to raising the profile of the riding of Châteauguay.

[English]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, June 5 is Clean Air Day, a day to increase public awareness of an action on air quality and climate change. Clean Air Day is part of Canadian Environment Week which promotes the reduction of greenhouse gases and pollutants. Clean Air Day and Environment Week are very much grassroots activities.
    Examples of actions across the country this week include: a beach cleanup in Halifax, an environmental health workshop in Quebec City, collection of household toxic wastes for proper disposal in Toronto, and the commuter challenge among 28 communities to see who can cut air pollution the most.
    Today in Peterborough the Clean Air Day Bus will be driving the message home. The festively decorated bus will be a reminder for Peterborough residents to get involved in Clean Air Day activities and will promote the importance of active and efficient transportation for our air and our health.
    Clean Air Day and Environment Week are all about individuals creating a cleaner and healthier environment.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, last week Focus on the Family released the results of a nationwide poll on child pornography.
    Some 80% of respondents believed that the federal government should raise the age of sexual consent to at least 16 years of age from 14 years, 86% disagreed with the recent ruling that acquitted John Robin Sharpe of possessing and distributing child pornography, and 93% said that strengthening child pornography legislation should be a priority for the federal government.
    The Liberal government was clearly representing only a small minority of Canadians when it voted against last month's Canadian Alliance motion to strengthen our child pornography laws and to raise the age of sexual consent.
    It is time for the Liberal government to fall into step with the rest of Canadians and take the necessary measures to protect our children.

  (1405)  

Organ Donations

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to applaud the efforts of a constituent of mine. Liver transplant survivor George Marcello and his Step-By-Step road crew are walking across the country to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation.
    Throughout his 769 day walk he has been welcomed in over 500 communities, including Barrie, and has raised awareness at almost 4,000 events. His travels have taken him all over the country. He returned to Barrie yesterday and ends his journey at Queen's Park on July 27.
    This is a very important issue and I recognized this in my riding of Barrie--Simcoe--Bradford by initiating an awareness campaign three years ago. The campaign is in April of every year and compliments the ongoing national campaign. Canada has almost 4,000 people on the waiting list hoping for lifesaving organs. That is why George Marcello's message is so vital.
    I say to George to keep up the good work and wish to congratulate him on his courageous efforts.

Canada-U.S. Relations

    Mr. Speaker, our friendship with the U.S. is built on our close economic reliance and mutual trust. We share the same air, water and ecosystems. We have respect for the freedom of the individual and we mutually respect a system based on the rule of law. The efficient flow of people and goods between our two countries is vital.
    However maintaining this close relationship is not without its challenges. Up to now our relationship has been based mainly between the administrations of our two governments and at the ambassadorial level. This relationship I am pleased to report is strong and will be enhanced. Added to our U.S. policy are new initiatives to form stronger, long lasting and productive negotiations with elected members of the U.S. senate, the house of representatives and our elected members of parliament through parliamentary diplomacy.
    I urge all members in the House to participate in this very new and exciting venture in foreign affairs.

Government of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, due to the Liberal government's infighting and loss of focus it is being thrust further and further into an advanced state of turmoil. What exactly has the Prime Minister been doing while he should be addressing the important issues facing Canadians?
    We see him on live TV threatening whistleblowers. We see him enlisting the aid of the national media in his witch hunt to silence those seeking the truth about maybe millions being stolen. We see him defending the donations to the Liberal Party from firms doing business with his own government. We see him firing ministers who will not bow to his wishes. We see him shuffling ministers out the back door to cover up their abuses of authority. We see him defending a government that is both increasingly arrogant and out of touch with Canadians. We see him losing control as more and more of his caucus refuse to yield to his bullying. We see his government with a weak agenda and no vision for the future.
    The great Liberal legacy is shaping up and frankly Canadians deserve better.

Trade

    Mr. Speaker, Dr. Hui Chi Ming is currently visiting Ottawa to discuss his plans to assist in developing the Chinese wood construction market via a pilot project.
    Dr. Hui recognizes China's fast growing economy and enormous potential for wood frame development and is looking to Canada for technical guidance, lumber and practical know how. The pilot project will draw on Canadian talent and products in all stages of development and will promote more extensive use of Canadian softwood lumber as the Chinese market becomes more accessible and the quality and availability of Canadian products is fully realized.
    Dr. Hui is one of China's most prominent and successful businessmen and philanthropists. He is a recipient of the United Nation's humanity and peace promotion award and is one of China's top ten poverty aid contributors. He is chairman of the Hong Kong Association of International Investment.
    This important cultural and economic development initiative is most welcome in Canada, as is Dr. Hui himself.

Automobile Industry

    Mr. Speaker, word has come of another blow to the auto industry. DaimlerChrysler will be closing its manufacturing plant in Ajax in December 2003 with a loss of 650 jobs. In the last 18 months approximately 15,000 auto related jobs have been lost in Quebec and Ontario.
    The World Trade Organization's decision to kill the Canada-U.S. auto pact and the Liberals' blind faith in free trade have caused this problem. The Liberal government must recognize that there is a growing problem in this vital part of our economy and must act to ensure its long term health and survival.
    With the end of the auto pact there is no longer a need for manufacturers to invest in Canada if they are going to sell vehicles here. While we wait for long overdue government action, let us hope that auto makers recognize that one of the costs of selling in this country is investing in this country. Besides which, unemployed workers are not going to buy new cars.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

Liberal Government

    


The scandals are not over yet,
Nor are the shuffles you can bet.
The little guy from you know where
Is all but tearing out his hair

In search of traitors 'mongst his men,
But where to start, for then again,
The Liberal Party helps its friends,
And naturally the rules its bends.

It's just like PC days of old.
Ten years ago, what were we told?
Integrity was on the way.
Imagine then our great dismay.

But tricks that worked for 40 years
Are wearing thin as judgment nears
And thoughts of legacies die hard
When one is hoist on one's petard.

[English]

Queen's Jubilee

    Mr. Speaker, 50 years ago, February 6, 1952, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne.
    The Queen's Jubilee is a special time for Canadians. Many of us will participate in celebrations in our own communities. Certainly we all share in the pride and excitement of Her Majesty's 50th anniversary as the monarch.
    The last 50 years have brought great innovation and prosperity to Canada. This is also a time to reflect on our own achievements of the last 50 years and to look forward to the continued promise of financial and social success in the years ahead.
    I know that many Canadians eagerly anticipate next October when Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will visit Nunavut, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and the national capital region.
    I ask this House to join me in congratulating the Queen on this momentous occasion.

Mining Industry

    Mr. Speaker, I want to talk briefly today about a topic of great importance to the people in my riding of Gander--Grand Falls and all of Newfoundland and Labrador.
    Today I am given to understand that negotiations are ongoing between the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and Inco with respect to the development of Voisey's Bay. In fact I am told that a deal will be done soon.
    Given our province's past history of resource giveaways, it is vitally important that the Voisey's deal be a good deal. To ensure that we are getting a good deal any agreement with Voisey's Bay must not be done behind closed doors. It should be publicly debated and should be ratified by the house of assembly in Newfoundland and Labrador before a deal is signed.
    Voisey's Bay is a non-renewable resource. We only get one shot at doing it right. We found out with Churchill Falls that it was too late to close the barn door after the horse was gone.

Shree Swaminarayan Community Complex

    Mr. Speaker, recently I had the opportunity to participate in a pooja which is a construction commencement ceremony for the start of the Shree Swaminarayan Community Complex that will be located on an 18 acre site in my riding of Etobicoke North.
    When completed this site will be an astounding combination of pillars, pinnacles and domes made of marble, stone and hand carved wood. It will be a remarkable architectural achievement and the first of its kind in Canada, making it a unique tourist attraction as well as a fully functioning community centre.
    Please join me in celebrating the beginning of this important project for the South Asian community of Etobicoke North.

Parks Canada

    Mr. Speaker, last September I rose to warn the heritage minister of the environmental harm that was going to occur if national park wardens were unable to fulfill their enforcement role.
    Parks Canada has been churning out the line that “little lasting damage was done to national park resources and any that was done was a necessary cost of fighting to be sure wardens did not get side arms”.
    Nathan Anderson of the Jasper Booster newspaper has obtained a leaked document from Parks Canada's serious incident reporting system which tells a very different story.
    Numerous cases of poaching and other irreversible environmental damage has occurred.
    As I said last fall, a little common sense is needed to save our parks. Park wardens are the best able to protect these national treasures.

ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Cabinet Ministers

    Mr. Speaker, it became clear yesterday that the Prime Minister fired his most influential senior cabinet colleague for reasons he is unwilling or unable to explain. He has now assigned his government's two most important functions, finance and national security, to a single minister.
    Does the Prime Minister have so little confidence in the talent of his cabinet and his caucus that he cannot find separate ministers for public security and finance?

  (1415)  

    Mr. Speaker, the many talents of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance are very well known by the people of Canada and by me in particular.
    Mr. Speaker, whatever the evaluation it is hard to believe that post September 11 national security can be properly handled on a part time basis by someone who is Deputy Prime Minister, infrastructure minister and finance minister, especially when we have a new defence minister in place.
    Canadians need full time ministers. When will the Prime Minister appoint a full time finance minister and a full time public security minister?
    Mr. Speaker, I have absolute confidence that the Deputy Prime Minister can handle it very effectively. He has established an extremely good rapport with Governor Ridge of the United States. The file is about to be completed and I wanted to finish the job. The job will be well finished and relations with Governor Ridge are excellent.
    The Leader of the Opposition said that to have good relations with the Americans is to bend and receive a kick in the back and turn and ask the person--
    The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
    Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister himself has admitted he cannot handle all the portfolios that have been assigned to him and he is waiting for the summer recess for some reassignments. Already the finance minister is signalling that he will not give the planned update on the nation's economy to the finance committee that his predecessor promised in June.
    When can we expect the next cabinet shuffle to deal with the problems that the last two created?
    Sunday.
    Mr. Speaker, Sunday perhaps.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
    Order. We will want to hear the Prime Minister's reply. The Prime Minister has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, this morning in cabinet the minister of fisheries said “Prime Minister, you have to play golf on Sunday and I will be your caddy. I want you on the golf course on Sunday, not at the governor general's”.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Ottawa South has said he is too busy. Listen to the things he has on his plate. He is the political minister for Ontario, he is in charge of infrastructure, he has security, he is the Deputy Prime Minister and now he is the finance minister.
    My question is pretty straightforward. Which of these jobs is he going to do part time, or does he expect a salary for each one of them?
    I will quit my job at Tim Hortons.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
    Mr. Speaker, he just told me that he has a part time job with Tim Hortons on top of that. If he has too much work, I will become his assistant.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister fired one of the major leadership rivals. Brian Tobin quit in a huff. I just wonder if this is not a new mechanism to keep another leadership rival so busy that he will hardly be able to breathe.
    Mr. Speaker, I never thought about it but it is a good idea.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

[Translation]

Government Contracts

    Mr. Speaker, in April 1998, Groupaction got a new contract to produce a second report on the opportunities provided by the federal program's visibility program. This report does not even exist. So, for a job that it did not do, Groupaction not only received $550,000, as we already know, but, in addition to this, this major contributor to the Liberal Party's campaign fund, collected a 12% commission.
    Could the minister of public works tell us why Groupaction, whose half a million dollar report cannot be found, received a $66,000 commission to act as a go-between between itself and the government?

  (1420)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman will know that this has been the subject of an examination by the auditor general. The auditor general has taken the step of referring matters with respect to Groupaction to the appropriate police authorities.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as regards the missing report, the former minister of public works said, on March 11, that the contract had been drafted, and I quote, “in accordance with treasury board guidelines”. This was said in the House.
    Since no go-between was required, could the President of the Treasury Board explain how the payment of a $66,000 commission to Groupaction is in accordance with the guidelines she is supposed to enforce and which we are told she did enforce?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, again as the hon. gentleman knows, all of the matters with respect to Groupaction are now subject to a police investigation.
    Not only has the auditor general referred the matter to the RCMP, but the RCMP have publicly confirmed that they are pursuing an investigation. Accordingly, it would be highly inappropriate for us to do or say anything in the House that might impede or interfere with that investigation.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, in 1998-99, the Government of Canada paid the firm Media IDA Vision, a subsidiary of Everest, a sum of $16,500 to examine the report to be produced by Groupaction and to send out the cheque.
    How does the government explain that this Everest subsidiary managed to get paid $16,500 to examine Groupaction's report, a report that never existed?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm the preamble of the hon. gentleman's question. I do not know precisely the point to which he is referring. However, the firm that he refers to in his question was at certain relevant times the agency of record responsible for billing matters.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, under its mandate, Media IDA Vision was to examine the report that Groupaction was supposed to prepare.
    When the government was looking for Groupaction's report, how could it not realize that it had paid this Everest subsidiary $16,500 for absolutely nothing, except to send out a cheque for a job that was never done?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, again let me put this whole matter in some context. The point I want to make is that the government is absolutely determined to get to the bottom of this series of transactions.
    In the first place, my department is conducting a thorough examination of all relevant time periods from 1997 to the year 2000. The auditor general is conducting a government wide audit. Where matters arise that are appropriately of interest to police authorities, those references are made. In every instance we will ensure that the process is transparent and the public interest is protected.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, in typical Liberal fashion, just before leaving office the former finance minister promised a new funding plan for municipalities. Yesterday the Prime Minister confirmed there is no plan. No matter who it is, the government is full of empty promises.
    Last week the new finance minister signed a social housing deal with Ontario from which most communities will never benefit. More empty promises.
    When will the Prime Minister get beyond the problems in the Liberal house and deal with the housing problems of Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, we have made great progress in working with the provinces and the municipalities in dealing with some of the urban needs. Many of these were indicated in the Prime Minister's task force on housing.
    That includes $2.05 billion in the Canada infrastructure program. We have $2 billion in the strategic infrastructure program, $600 million in the border infrastructure program, $783 million approximately in the homelessness program. Between homelessness, affordable housing at $680 million, and infrastucture, we have made substantial contributions to the needs of municipalities. We will continue to do so.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to housing the government is the master of the big promise. Then the Liberals go out and get their Liberal Party friends to promote it. How about promoting that 1.7 million Canadians are desperate for housing, a 40% increase over five years, 60,000 wait listed in Toronto alone.
    Canadians who need housing cannot wait for the Liberals to get their house in order. Why is the government once again putting party interests and public relations ahead of social housing and municipal needs?
    Mr. Speaker, it is a little hard to understand the point. I thought that in the first question she was criticizing us for signing the agreement with Ontario which will see $245 million of federal money flow to the province of Ontario for affordable housing. In addition, that money will be matched by provincial and municipal funding, doubling the amount that is available to deal with the shortage of housing in Ontario.
    We have come a long way since last fall with the increased funding for affordable housing and homelessness. This of course will not solve every problem in the country, but it is a very important step forward in dealing with those critical problems in Canada's cities.

Government Contracts

    Mr. Speaker, my question is about VIA Rail, whose chairman, Jean Pelletier, was chief of staff to the Prime Minister during Shawinigate. The RCMP is investigating at least one sponsorship contract with VIA. The crown corporation now refuses to answer journalists' questions about specific sponsorships or advertising contracts.
    Has the government told VIA Rail to shut out these media inquiries? Will the minister instruct the crown corporation to answer media questions about sponsorship or other contracts that might involve Jean Pelletier or anyone else at VIA Rail?
    Mr. Speaker, according to the terms of the Financial Administration Act and the responsibilities in the act that are imposed upon public officials, certain matters have been referred for investigation by the RCMP. I can confirm that there has been absolutely no communication between my office and VIA Rail.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it works for one minister but not for the other one.
    The auditor general wants to audit all federal sponsorship and advertising programs and contracts. Will this government-wide audit apply to Via Rail, to the Business Development Bank of Canada and to other crown corporations?
    Will it also include the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the other independent foundations to which the government has transferred in excess of $7 billion?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in this matter the Auditor General of Canada will speak for herself. She has indicated that as a result of her previous examinations she would be conducting a government-wide audit with respect to advertising and sponsorships. It will be up to her to determine the scope of that work.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, on his first day on the job the new finance minister reassured international investors that his priorities were the same as his predecessor's. However, one of his first decisions was to cancel the economic update which the former finance minister had scheduled for June 11. So much for staying the course.
    Why is the new Minister of Finance putting off informing Canadians and foreign investors on what this government's fiscal outlook is?
    Mr. Speaker, I know that the member wants to be precise in his terms and therefore I am sure he will agree that the financial update has always been given in the fall.
    I have not taken a final decision on whether I will appear before the finance committee before the end of June, but he should know that the results we are seeing, particularly looking at the first quarter of this year, are more positive than we were expecting, quite frankly. I think Canadians will be pleased by those results.
    Mr. Speaker, the former minister of finance thought it was pretty important to have an economic update this spring, on June 11 in fact. The former minister stated quite clearly that policy differences were a big part of what got him fired over there. Delaying the economic update will only create further uncertainty. Canadians deserve to know where this government's fiscal priorities are.
    If the economic update is delayed until the fall, does that also mean that there will be no federal budget in 2002?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, if I have not taken a decision on whether I will visit the finance committee in June, I clearly have not taken a decision on when the next budget will be. The member will find out in due course, but I do want to acknowledge his invitation to seek opportunities to draw to the public's attention the excellent economic performance that we have had.
    I know that yesterday the markets were very stable. We have seen confidence in international markets in this government. The opportunity to appear before a delegation of international bankers to draw to their attention our excellent economic performance was certainly welcomed by me.

[Translation]

Government Contracts

    Mr. Speaker, Media IDA Vision accepted along the way the tidy little sum of $16,500 in fees to evaluate the work of a corporate friend, Groupaction, before paying for the report, which still does not exist.
    How can the Minister of Public Works and Government Services explain that nobody in his department asked to see this evaluation by Media IDA Vision, which was supposed to confirm that the Groupaction work had in fact been carried out?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the auditor general has inquired into matters related to Groupaction. The auditor general concluded that there were obviously deficiencies and serious problems that needed to be addressed with respect to that file.
    That corrective action is now beginning to get underway, including all of the appropriate investigations that need to be undertaken. The government wants to ensure that where mistakes were existing in the past they are not repeated in the future.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, in response to an earlier question from my colleague, the minister answered that an internal investigation was underway. Now, he refers to the auditor general's report.
    Would the Minister of Public Works and Government Services not find it easier in the end to turn this matter over to an investigator, or to have an independent public inquiry to get to the bottom of it all, given that he himself is confused?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there are several levels of inquiry and corrective activity that are underway. My department is examining all of the files once again in that period 1997 to the year 2000.
    The auditor general is conducting a government-wide inquiry with respect to advertising and sponsorships.
    Where matters that may raise legal issues come to light, they are referred to the appropriate police authorities. The Treasury Board is also examining on a government-wide basis what corrective action might be needed. We are approaching this on all fronts.

National Revenue

    Mr. Speaker, the government should not punish Canadians and their provincial governments by clawing back the $3.3 billion it lost track of. Canadians deserve better.
    Will the finance minister assure Canadians that their health care and schools will not be cut to pay for the government's mistakes?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member will know that the auditor general released her report on those years in which the overpayments occurred just yesterday. We are going to look carefully at her report and give it the consideration that it deserves prior to taking any decisions with respect to the overpayments.
    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Liberals cannot manage money. They blew billions on their friends through sponsorships and job scams but never recouped a cent. However, when they overpay the provinces for health and education there is talk of repayment.
    When will Canadians finally hear how the government plans to clean up this mess?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said, we will look very carefully at it, but as the hon. member knows, the provinces themselves are in the habit of collecting overpayments whether they occur on welfare, workers' compensation or other payments to their citizens. These things happen occasionally and it is regrettable, but nevertheless it needs to be dealt with.
    To suggest that this is a pattern of mis-administration when each year's accounts had been audited by the auditor general is quite an exaggeration.

[Translation]

Government Contracts

    Mr. Speaker, a Groupaction report, which was never produced, is under police investigation. This company was paid a 12% commission on its own fees. It charged an intermediary commission on its own contract.
    Another company charged 3% to check that the work was done and to issue the cheque. However, it should never have issued the cheque, since the work was not done.
    Do these inexplicable aspects, which go beyond carrying out the work in the Groupaction contract, and which are just as mysterious as that contract, not demand that a public inquiry be held?

  (1435)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, with respect to all of the matters, I believe, referred to in the hon. member's question, I point out that my predecessor took corrective action immediately in each and every case, including the suspension of the sponsorship relationship with Groupaction.
    Obviously in years gone by there were problems and errors with respect to Groupaction. A series of corrective actions is now in the process of being implemented and we are absolutely determined to make sure that this experience is not repeated.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the government continually uses the excuse of the police investigation into the Groupaction affair to avoid providing any answers. Furthermore, it systematically rejects the witnesses we would like to hear from at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
    Does the public interest and the right of citizens to be informed not demand a real, open and full investigation, commonly known as a public inquiry?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, with matters related to financial administration, surely the public official that is best equipped to deal with those questions is in fact the auditor general. She is conducting a government-wide inquiry.
    Where any matters bear upon legal issues, surely the most effective remedy there is reference to the appropriate police authorities and that is in fact being done.
    We are dealing with this issue in the proper manner.

Canadian Wheat Board

    Mr. Speaker, last Thursday 10 officials of the Canadian Wheat Board attended the now famous Liberal Party fundraiser in Winnipeg at a price tag of at least $400 each. The money for the tickets was taken from prairie wheat farmers who are forced to participate in this monopoly.
    Forcing farmers to donate their hard-earned money to the Liberal Party is clearly wrong. Does the Prime Minister not see this as a highly unethical practice?
    Mr. Speaker, approximately two years ago a directive was issued that crown corporations were not to make contributions to political parties. I committed myself at that time that if any of them did, the money would be returned.
    An hon. member: That's not a crown corporation.
    Mr. Speaker, it goes beyond that. The government appointed five of the directors present at the Liberal Party fundraiser. They clearly contravened the code of conduct guidelines for directors of the Canadian Wheat Board. These guidelines state that a director's “political activities must be clearly separated from activities related to” his or her appointment.
    Does the Prime Minister support his wheat board officials violating their own code of conduct and what will he do about it?
    Mr. Speaker, I have no personal knowledge at all of the matters that the hon. gentleman alleges, but quite frankly I take the allegations seriously. I will make the appropriate inquiries and if any guidelines have in fact been contravened, corrective action will be taken.

Research and Development

    Mr. Speaker, as a member of parliament proud to have a progressive university in my riding, Brock, I understand and appreciate the importance of the government's support for the skilled academic workforce that is essential for competing in this knowledge based economy.
    Could the minister responsible for science, research and development tell the House what the federal government plans to do to meet the goal of a skilled academic workforce?
    Mr. Speaker, to complete this research and development target to make Canada one of the top five countries in the world in research and development is part of our innovation strategy. Toward this goal we are pleased to have announced funding for some 3,000 research grants worth over $360 million, benefiting 62 post-secondary education institutions, college professors and university professors.
    Indeed, we have committed to unleashing the full potential of our universities in our innovation strategy agenda.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, it has been almost six months since the Canadian government completed the consultation process on a national progress report regarding sustainable development. We are required to submit this report to the UN in advance of the world summit in Johannesburg this summer.
    It is widely believed that the report reveals Canada's abysmal performance in protecting the environment. The government has had several opportunities to submit the report, including at the current preparatory meetings in Bali.
    Could the Minister of the Environment indicate why we do not have it yet? Where is it?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, in an effort to have an entirely arm's length analysis of the Canadian government's performance and Canada's performance in this regard, we put the work in the hands of a private company which carried out the study. The company has reported. The government is now examining it.
    I think that if the hon. member looks back on past performances of Canadian governments and Canada as a whole, he will see that Canada normally ranks about second, third or fourth out of the 123 countries that are normally checked on this particular file.

Infrastructure Program

    Mr. Speaker, the government has ignored and delayed addressing border congestion on Huron Church Road in Windsor, creating environmental degradation and threatening economic development in Ontario.
    My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of Infrastructure. We will just call him minister of everything.
    Yesterday the minister stated that there were $600 million of immediate border moneys available. Could the minister tell the House if he will support the city of Windsor's request for 100% financing of $1.2 million for operational improvements to address the immediate need, or is he too busy to perform his duties, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, I hope to have cabinet approval shortly for both the strategic infrastructure program and the border infrastructure program so that we can begin to deal with local authorities on appropriate projects.
    I want to assure the hon. member that I consider the situation at the Windsor border to be one of the critical issues that needs to be dealt with in both the areas of border and strategic infrastructure. It is the place at which 25% of our trade crosses. We will be looking at it and we need the support of local authorities to do so.

Government Contracts

    Mr. Speaker, we agree with the premier of P.E.I. who is in favour of federal projects to Atlantic Canada based on merit, not politics. We question the practice of untendered contracts to Liberal friends, family and party workers.
    The Liberal connected APM group received an untendered contract to build the Greenwich Interpretive Centre at a cost of $3.5 million and then signed a 48 year lease with Parks Canada worth over $17 million.
    Will the solicitor general release all the terms of the Greenwich lease agreement in his riding between his government and his friend, P.E.I. Liberal Party president and APM CEO, Tim Banks?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has, on several occasions, drawn reference to problems that are occurring in Atlantic Canada. He seems to be agreeing with the Canadian Alliance on a regular basis.
    Tim Banks is a private businessman who was involved with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency long before he was ever involved with the Liberal Party, and his repayment record on all his loans has been impeccable.

Mining Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry is about to give Inco in excess of $100 million to construct a test plant that will use the hydromet process to refine ore from Voisey's Bay.
    Does the minister have a rock solid guarantee that following the three to five year process the company will not renege on a permanent facility and continue to ship ore from the mine, benefiting the rest of the country but giving Newfoundland and Labrador the shaft again?
    Mr. Speaker, on all arrangements on the Voisey's Bay project, first and foremost there must be a lease agreement from the province to Inco. On all federal support to the program it is absolutely contingent on that lease agreement being in place before any funding is put into place. We are making sure there are strong regional s and national benefits associated with the project.

Government Contracts

    Mr. Speaker, Claude Boulay said “You don't have to be a good little Liberal to receive government contracts but it helps”, and helps and helps.
    Media IDA Vision is another company owned by Mr. Boulay of Groupe Everest fame and condo rentals. No sooner did IDA come into being than it became the agency of record for all government advertising. That is a five year monopoly.
    Was this just a coincidence or does this have everything to do with Mr. Boulay's generous contributions to the Liberal Party?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, I made some inquiries with respect to this matter and the information before me would indicate very clearly that Media IDA Vision was selected for a role as agency of record through a process that was completely competitive in 1998.
    Mr. Speaker, this is a brand new company with absolutely no track record in advertising and it gets a five year monopoly. It must have been some process.
    Mr. Boulay through his shadow companies now controls three-quarters of all government advertising, $60 million last year alone.
    We have had a string of public works ministers over there and every one of them have hid behind the line that Treasury Board guidelines were followed. Some guidelines.
    A public works audit in 2000, again the one they hide behind, however, said “The process did not fully comply with the spirit or the letter of Treasury Board rules and directives”. This kind of goes against what they have been saying.
    Why do the Liberals consistently break the rules for their political contributors?
    Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. gentleman may be mixing up audits. However I do want to share with him the comments of the auditor general with respect to the internal audit division of Public Works and Government Services Canada.
    The auditor general says that the internal audit function of this department is excellent, courageous and does firstclass work. It was that audit which revealed the difficulties we are now dealing with. The Treasury Board Secretariat is pursuing a government wide approach to improve the process with respect to sponsorships, advertising and polls.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the scandals now dogging the sponsorship program are ample proof that it is time to end this program and all the commissions paid to friends of the party, and set up a genuine program of support for events.
    Does the government intend to set up a genuine program of support for cultural and sports events, so that they do not suffer because of scandals that have nothing to do with them?

[English]

    First, I believe there is broad support in the House and broad support among Canadians for the principle of what the sponsorship program has sought to achieve. I have before me letters from the leader of the Bloc Quebecois and the member for Rimouski-Neigette-et-la Mitis, for example, endorsing what the program was trying to achieve.
    Some administrative difficulties have been identified and the government has laid out a very aggressive program on how we will correct those administrative problems while we continue to--
    The hon. member for Quebec.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we know that in its present form the sponsorship program is a program for distributing commissions to friends of the party.
    Does the government intend to put an end to the existing sponsorship program and transform it immediately into a program of support for cultural events, without any commissions to cronies and run directly by public servants? That is my question.

[English]

    First, I appreciate the inherent recognition of the value of what the program was trying to accomplish. That is exceedingly important.
    Second, can we improve the administration? Can we find better ways to deliver this support to communities, groups and organizations? Can we build the country at the same time and save money? Yes, indeed, I believe we can.
    Mr. Speaker, last year two related companies, Groupe Everest and Media IDA Vision, received 75% of all advertising service contracts for the government. Treasury Board Secretariat guidelines prohibit any company from getting more than 25%.
    Does the fact that well connected Claude Boulay controls both companies account for this breach of the rules?
    Mr. Speaker, I will personally examine the facts that the hon. gentleman alleges. I take his point seriously. I will check into anything that might constitute an irregularity or a violation of the guidelines.
    The guidelines and the operating procedures are important to ensure that there is transparency and fairness in all these activities.
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with that, and the minister will find the guidelines and the figures he is looking for on his own website.
    Groupe Everest and Claude Boulay worked on the 2000 federal Liberal campaign in Quebec. The company gave a $77,000 donation to the Liberal Party. Both the former minister of public works and the minister of immigration stayed at the home of the owner. It is plain to see how this company got the contract. Someone broke the rules for a political friend. Canadians deserve better.
    I will ask my question again. When will the government stop breaking the rules for its friends and live up to what--

  (1450)  

    The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not accept the premise of the question. However I want to point out that corrective action is already in the process of being taken on a number of fronts.
    Let me specifically mention one. The Prime Minister has asked the President of the Treasury Board to examine all the means by which advertising, sponsorship and polling activity by the Government of Canada can be improved in the public interest and in the spirit of what the auditor general has said.

Technology Partnerships

    Mr. Speaker, after months of waiting, the Minister of Industry was able to tell the House that Cascade Data Services Inc. is a subsidiary of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, an aerospace company that has contributed more than $50,000 to the Liberal Party since 1998.
    It took my office about five minutes to obtain this information and to also find out that Cascade was not listed as a subsidiary of MDA in either its 2000 or 2001 annual reports or on its website as of this morning.
    What we have not been able to determine is whether in fact this company exists. Could the Minister of Industry confirm to Canadians that this $87 million loan was made to a viable company?
    Mr. Speaker, not a single penny of this $87 million risk sharing investment has yet been advanced and it will not be advanced until all conditions imposed by officials of Industry Canada have been satisfied, including the details to which the member refers.
    The member should know as well that when the money is invested it will be on a ratio of 10:1 of private investments. As this whole project goes forward almost $1 billion of private investment is involved at a ratio of 10:1. That is the kind of investment in new, innovative technology that we need in the country. It is a good investment on behalf of the people of Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister should get a better briefing from his officials because according to the public accounts 2000-01 report, Cascade Data Services Inc. had already received $300,000 by the end of 2000. Unfortunately we do not know how much it has received since then.
    Could the minister tell the House what qualifies a company incorporated only three months before to receive an $87 million loan from the taxpayers of Canada? Could he explain what he just said to the House in light of the fact that the public accounts report of last year confirms that $300,000 went to this corporation?
    Mr. Speaker, like all TPC applications, this application was reviewed in detail by officials and it was decided only after an examination of the prospectus that it was a good investment for the public interest.
    There is broad support for our goal to make Canada among the top five nations in the world for research and development. Right now we are number 14 in OECD. We are not going to get there unless we, like other countries, provide investments in industries and in businesses that create new knowledge and bring new products to the market. This is an example of that. It is done by all civilized countries. We are not going to get left behind.

[Translation]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, the former Minister of Finance recognized the fiscal imbalance in the municipal sector, but denied its existence between the provinces and the federal government.
    My question for the new Minister of Finance is this: Is he prepared to meet the demands of Pauline Marois and all the opposition parties in the National Assembly, by first admitting that a dangerous fiscal imbalance exists between Ottawa and the provinces?
    Mr. Speaker, I would be very pleased to meet with Ms. Marois and to discuss the fiscal situation in Quebec and in the other provinces.
    The provinces have the same ability to raise taxes as does the federal government. It is up to her to decide on the level of taxes and spending in the province of Quebec.

  (1455)  

[English]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the Canadian military is in crisis. The defence committee, after taking more than a year to examine the operational readiness of our Canadian forces, came out with its report last week. The conclusion was that the military was in crisis and it had to be acted on immediately.
    The minister has had a week to read the report. Is he prepared to act upon the first recommendation?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very interesting question coming from across the aisle when back in 1995 the then leader of the opposition stated in the House of Commons, “I do not intend to dispute in any way the need for defence cuts”.
    That was said by the member's leader. I think he should check with his boss to find out what his party's policy is.

[Translation]

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, according to the Commissioner of Official Languages, the government is exhibiting laxity as far as official language skill requirements and monitoring are concerned at the senior public service level.
    Does the minister responsible for official languages agree with the commissioner that all senior public service positions should be bilingual?
    Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that we do require our senior executives to be bilingual, which is why we even have a skill upgrading program to help them attain a certain level.
    We are pleased that the commissioner herself has reported that there have been some positive developments over the past two years. She emphasized the efforts made by the public service specifically to attain this high standard.

[English]

Airport Security

    Mr. Speaker, on May 10 the U.S. congress rejected a plan to double the U.S. security fees at airports. On May 14 the European parliament passed legislation to have security costs come from general revenues and not from airports or air travellers.
    Canada's air security tax is the highest in the world and threatens our $54 billion tourism industry. Summer tourists are crucial to that industry. Is the new minister accepting responsibility for the losses to tourism or will he end this harmful tax immediately?
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member agrees with the principle that those who use services should pay for them. Certainly it is of interest to me to determine if the revenues meet the expenditures and that is something we will monitor very closely. However in the meantime the principle of user pay applies to this sector.

Leadership Campaigns

    Mr. Speaker, now that the Prime Minister has ordered all leadership campaigns to shut down so that ministers can concentrate on government business, would he tell the House whether he has also shut down his own leadership defence fund?
    I am afraid that question does not appear to have anything to do with the administration of the Government of Canada and accordingly is out of order, much as the Prime Minister might want to reply. However, if the question is out of order, it is hard to imagine how the reply could be in order.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, it is pretty disappointing that the new Minister of National Defence, in his response to the very first question and a serious question about the crisis in the military, gave a cutesy, flippant response that was not appropriate. This issue is too serious.
    I would like to ask the minister this. Is he going to respond to the committee report and is he going to respond to that first recommendation?
    Mr. Speaker, I hope the hon. member is not referring to his own leader as cutesy and flippant. My point is that whereas the government committed $5 billion of additional defence spending to the military in the years to 2006, his own current Leader of the Opposition, writing in his so-called taxpayers' budget, called for a $1 billion cut in defence spending. Where do they stand?

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act

     The House resumed from June 3 consideration of the motion that Bill C-15B, an act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.
    It being 3 p.m., pursuant to order made on Monday, June 3, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the subamendment.
    Call in the members.
    (The House divided on the amendment to the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 291)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Bachand (Richmond--Arthabaska)
Bachand (Saint-Jean)
Bailey
Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls)
Benoit
Bergeron
Borotsik
Breitkreuz
Brien
Brison
Burton
Cadman
Casson
Chatters
Clark
Cummins
Dalphond-Guiral
Desrochers
Dubé
Duceppe
Duncan
Elley
Epp
Forseth
Gagnon (Québec)
Gallant
Gauthier
Girard-Bujold
Goldring
Grewal
Grey
Guay
Guimond
Harper
Harris
Hearn
Hill (Macleod)
Hill (Prince George--Peace River)
Hilstrom
Jaffer
Johnston
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Laframboise
Lalonde
Lanctôt
Lebel
Lunn (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
MacKay (Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough)
Marceau
Mark
Martin (Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca)
Mayfield
McNally
Ménard
Meredith
Merrifield
Mills (Red Deer)
Moore
Pallister
Paquette
Penson
Perron
Picard (Drummond)
Rajotte
Reid (Lanark—Carleton)
Reynolds
Ritz
Rocheleau
Roy
Sauvageau
Skelton
Solberg
Spencer
St-Hilaire
Stinson
Strahl
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Toews
Vellacott
Venne
White (North Vancouver)
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 86

NAYS

Members

Adams
Alcock
Anderson (Victoria)
Assad
Assadourian
Augustine
Bagnell
Barnes (London West)
Bélanger
Bellemare
Bennett
Bertrand
Bevilacqua
Binet
Blaikie
Blondin-Andrew
Bonin
Bonwick
Boudria
Bradshaw
Brown
Bryden
Bulte
Byrne
Caccia
Calder
Caplan
Carignan
Carroll
Castonguay
Catterall
Cauchon
Chamberlain
Charbonneau
Chrétien
Coderre
Collenette
Comartin
Comuzzi
Copps
Cotler
Cullen
Cuzner
Desjarlais
DeVillers
Dion
Dromisky
Drouin
Duplain
Easter
Efford
Eyking
Farrah
Finlay
Folco
Fontana
Gallaway
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Grose
Guarnieri
Harb
Harvard
Harvey
Hubbard
Ianno
Jackson
Jennings
Jordan
Karetak-Lindell
Karygiannis
Keyes
Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast)
Knutson
Kraft Sloan
Lastewka
LeBlanc
Leung
Lill
Lincoln
Longfield
MacAulay
Macklin
Mahoney
Malhi
Maloney
Manley
Marcil
Marleau
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Masse
McCallum
McDonough
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough East)
McLellan
McTeague
Minna
Mitchell
Murphy
Myers
Nault
Neville
Normand
O'Brien (London--Fanshawe)
O'Reilly
Owen
Pagtakhan
Paradis
Parrish
Patry
Peric
Peschisolido
Phinney
Pickard (Chatham--Kent Essex)
Pillitteri
Pratt
Price
Proctor
Proulx
Provenzano
Redman
Reed (Halton)
Regan
Richardson
Robillard
Rock
Saada
Savoy
Scott
Sgro
Shepherd
Simard
Speller
St-Jacques
St-Julien
St. Denis
Steckle
Stewart
Stoffer
Szabo
Thibault (West Nova)
Thibeault (Saint-Lambert)
Tirabassi
Tonks
Ur
Valeri
Vanclief
Volpe
Wappel
Wasylycia-Leis
Whelan
Wilfert
Wood

Total: -- 155

PAIRED

Members

Allard
Asselin
Bonwick
Crête
Fournier
Gagnon (Champlain)
Graham
Lee
McCormick
Pettigrew
Plamondon
Tremblay

Total: -- 12

  (1510)  

[Translation]

    I declare the amendment lost.

[English]

    The next question is on the amendment to the amendment.
    Mr. Speaker, I think if you seek it you would find consent that the vote on the immediately previous motion be applied to the motion now before the House.
    Is it agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Mr. Dale Johnston: Mr. Speaker, the member for Calgary West will be voting with the party on the amendment.
    Mr. Art Hanger: Mr. Speaker, I will be voting with my party on the amendment.
    (The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 292)

YEAS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Anders
Bachand (Richmond--Arthabaska)
Bachand (Saint-Jean)
Bailey
Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls)
Benoit
Bergeron
Borotsik
Breitkreuz
Brien
Brison
Burton
Cadman
Casson
Chatters
Clark
Cummins
Dalphond-Guiral
Desrochers
Dubé
Duceppe
Duncan
Elley
Epp
Forseth
Gagnon (Québec)
Gallant
Gauthier
Girard-Bujold
Goldring
Grewal
Grey
Guay
Guimond
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Hearn
Hill (Macleod)
Hill (Prince George--Peace River)
Hilstrom
Jaffer
Johnston
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Laframboise
Lalonde
Lanctôt
Lebel
Lunn (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
MacKay (Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough)
Marceau
Mark
Martin (Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca)
Mayfield
McNally
Ménard
Meredith
Merrifield
Mills (Red Deer)
Moore
Pallister
Paquette
Penson
Perron
Picard (Drummond)
Rajotte
Reid (Lanark—Carleton)
Reynolds
Ritz
Rocheleau
Roy
Sauvageau
Skelton
Solberg
Spencer
St-Hilaire
Stinson
Strahl
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Toews
Vellacott
Venne
White (North Vancouver)
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 88

NAYS

Members

Adams
Alcock
Anderson (Victoria)
Assad
Assadourian
Augustine
Bagnell
Barnes (London West)
Bélanger
Bellemare
Bennett
Bertrand
Bevilacqua
Binet
Blaikie
Blondin-Andrew
Bonin
Bonwick
Boudria
Bradshaw
Brown
Bryden
Bulte
Byrne
Caccia
Calder
Caplan
Carignan
Carroll
Castonguay
Catterall
Cauchon
Chamberlain
Charbonneau
Chrétien
Coderre
Collenette
Comartin
Comuzzi
Copps
Cotler
Cullen
Cuzner
Desjarlais
DeVillers
Dion
Dromisky
Drouin
Duplain
Easter
Efford
Eyking
Farrah
Finlay
Folco
Fontana
Gallaway
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Grose
Guarnieri
Harb
Harvard
Harvey
Hubbard
Ianno
Jackson
Jennings
Jordan
Karetak-Lindell
Karygiannis
Keyes
Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast)
Knutson
Kraft Sloan
Lastewka
LeBlanc
Leung
Lill
Lincoln
Longfield
MacAulay
Macklin
Mahoney
Malhi
Maloney
Manley
Marcil
Marleau
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Masse
McCallum
McDonough
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough East)
McLellan
McTeague
Minna
Mitchell
Murphy
Myers
Nault
Neville
Normand
O'Brien (London--Fanshawe)
O'Reilly
Owen
Pagtakhan
Paradis
Parrish
Patry
Peric
Peschisolido
Phinney
Pickard (Chatham--Kent Essex)
Pillitteri
Pratt
Price
Proctor
Proulx
Provenzano
Redman
Reed (Halton)
Regan
Richardson
Robillard
Rock
Saada
Savoy
Scott
Sgro
Shepherd
Simard
Speller
St-Jacques
St-Julien
St. Denis
Steckle
Stewart
Stoffer
Szabo
Thibault (West Nova)
Thibeault (Saint-Lambert)
Tirabassi
Tonks
Ur
Valeri
Vanclief
Volpe
Wappel
Wasylycia-Leis
Whelan
Wilfert
Wood

Total: -- 155

PAIRED

Members

Allard
Asselin
Bonwick
Crête
Fournier
Gagnon (Champlain)
Graham
Lee
McCormick
Pettigrew
Plamondon
Tremblay

Total: -- 12

    I declare the amendment lost.
    The next question is on the main motion.
    Mr. Speaker, I think if you seek it you would find consent to apply the vote on the previous motion in reverse to the motion now before the House.
    Is it agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Mr. Dale Johnston: Mr. Speaker, on this motion, I would like the member for Saanich--Gulf Islands to be recorded as a yea.
    Ms. Colleen Beaumier: Mr. Speaker, as I was absent for the first vote I would like to be counted as having voted with my government on the motion.
    Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Mr. Speaker, will we not also give those Liberals who were very vocal in their opposition to this an opportunity to stand?
    The Speaker: People seem to be taking all kinds of opportunities but at the moment I think we will conclude the matter.
    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 293)

YEAS

Members

Adams
Alcock
Anderson (Victoria)
Assad
Assadourian
Augustine
Bagnell
Barnes (London West)
Beaumier
Bélanger
Bellemare
Bennett
Bertrand
Bevilacqua
Binet
Blaikie
Blondin-Andrew
Bonin
Bonwick
Boudria
Bradshaw
Brown
Bryden
Bulte
Byrne
Caccia
Calder
Caplan
Carignan
Carroll
Castonguay
Catterall
Cauchon
Chamberlain
Charbonneau
Chrétien
Coderre
Collenette
Comartin
Comuzzi
Copps
Cotler
Cullen
Cuzner
Desjarlais
DeVillers
Dion
Dromisky
Drouin
Duplain
Easter
Efford
Eyking
Farrah
Finlay
Folco
Fontana
Gallaway
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Grose
Guarnieri
Harb
Harvard
Harvey
Hubbard
Ianno
Jackson
Jennings
Jordan
Karetak-Lindell
Karygiannis
Keyes
Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast)
Knutson
Kraft Sloan
Lastewka
LeBlanc
Leung
Lill
Lincoln
Longfield
Lunn (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
MacAulay
Macklin
Mahoney
Malhi
Maloney
Manley
Marcil
Marleau
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Masse
McCallum
McDonough
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough East)
McLellan
McTeague
Minna
Mitchell
Murphy
Myers
Nault
Neville
Normand
O'Brien (London--Fanshawe)
O'Reilly
Owen
Pagtakhan
Paradis
Parrish
Patry
Peric
Peschisolido
Phinney
Pickard (Chatham--Kent Essex)
Pillitteri
Pratt
Price
Proctor
Proulx
Provenzano
Redman
Reed (Halton)
Regan
Richardson
Robillard
Rock
Saada
Savoy
Scott
Sgro
Shepherd
Simard
Speller
St-Jacques
St-Julien
St. Denis
Steckle
Stewart
Stoffer
Szabo
Thibault (West Nova)
Thibeault (Saint-Lambert)
Tirabassi
Tonks
Ur
Valeri
Vanclief
Volpe
Wappel
Wasylycia-Leis
Whelan
Wilfert
Wood

Total: -- 157

NAYS

Members

Abbott
Ablonczy
Anders
Bachand (Richmond--Arthabaska)
Bachand (Saint-Jean)
Bailey
Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls)
Benoit
Bergeron
Borotsik
Breitkreuz
Brien
Brison
Burton
Cadman
Casson
Chatters
Clark
Cummins
Dalphond-Guiral
Desrochers
Dubé
Duceppe
Duncan
Elley
Epp
Forseth
Gagnon (Québec)
Gallant
Gauthier
Girard-Bujold
Goldring
Grewal
Grey
Guay
Guimond
Hanger
Harper
Harris
Hearn
Hill (Macleod)
Hill (Prince George--Peace River)
Hilstrom
Jaffer
Johnston
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Laframboise
Lalonde
Lanctôt
Lebel
MacKay (Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough)
Marceau
Mark
Martin (Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca)
Mayfield
McNally
Ménard
Meredith
Merrifield
Mills (Red Deer)
Moore
Pallister
Paquette
Penson
Perron
Picard (Drummond)
Rajotte
Reid (Lanark—Carleton)
Reynolds
Ritz
Rocheleau
Roy
Sauvageau
Skelton
Solberg
Spencer
St-Hilaire
Stinson
Strahl
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Toews
Vellacott
Venne
White (North Vancouver)
Williams
Yelich

Total: -- 87

PAIRED

Members

Allard
Asselin
Bonwick
Crête
Fournier
Gagnon (Champlain)
Graham
Lee
McCormick
Pettigrew
Plamondon
Tremblay

Total: -- 12

    I declare the motion carried.

    (Bill read the third time and passed)


Royal Assent

[Royal Assent]

  (1515)  

[Translation]

    Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
Government House

Ottawa
June 4, 2002
Mr. Speaker,
    I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Jack Major, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy of the Governor General, will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 4th day of June, 2002, at 4.15 p.m., for the purpose of giving Royal Assent to certain bills.
    Yours sincerely,
Barbara Uteck

Secretary to the Governor General

[English]

Points of Order

Standing Committee on Transport--Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised earlier today by the hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast. He has argued that the notice of meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport is not valid since it is in violation of the order adopted by the House on May 27.
    That order creates a new Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates and lays out the mandate of the new committee. However by modifying the mandate of the former Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations the House has also in effect created another new committee, the Standing Committee on Transport. This view is supported by the wording of the House order which instructs the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to prepare and report to the House lists of members to compose the new standing committees.

[Translation]

    This, as I understand it, is precisely the point being made by the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, and I agree that he is quite correct.

[English]

    I have therefore given instructions that the appropriate corrective measures be taken and that the usual practices regarding the organization of newly constituted committees be followed in the case of the new Standing Committee on Transport.

[Translation]

    I thank the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast for his customary diligence in bringing this matter to the attention of the House.

  (1520)  

[English]

    I also wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded divisions, government orders will be extended by 14 minutes.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Nuclear Safety and Control Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that BillC-57, An Act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, be now read a second time and referred to a committee.
    Before the beginning of oral question period, the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel had five minutes left to receive questions and comments about his speech.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to point this out to my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. The amendment to subsection 46(3) obviously specifies that the financial institution will no longer be responsible if a place is contaminated.
    When financial institutions lend money to someone who represents a certain risk, they often ask for extra guarantees and even endorsers, sometimes one, sometimes two.
    In contrast, and we know very well that the nuclear industry is particularly dangerous, the section of the act that existed before allowed them to be held responsible.
    So, indirectly, and I said this throughout the day and will repeat it once again, the section that existed before ensured that the private sector would not be favoured as a manager of nuclear plants.
    I would like my colleague to comment on this.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Sherbrooke, for his question.
    It is important that Quebecers and Canadians who are listening understand the meaning of these changes. The old section 46(3) in the legislation explained who was responsible, and I quote:
    
—any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.
    It referred to all persons, in the natural and legal senses, who had “a right to or interest in”, which clearly includes bankers. I also believe this includes the federal or provincial governments, which provide subsidies or direct assistance to these companies. When there is a guarantee regarding the work done in a nuclear establishment, there is automatically a right or an interest. The old legislation held accountable bankers and governments that gave money to these organizations, or invested in them.
    The new paragraph establishes who will be responsible:
    
—any other person who has the management and control of—
    It is no longer persons with an interest; now it is the management. Bankers and governments, those who could have invested in these companies, are no longer included.
    This is happening at a critical time. A great deal of investment is required to renovate all of the nuclear infrastructure. We know that it is very dangerous. Why is this happening now? This is what I would like to point out to my colleague, the member for Sherbrooke.
    This is happening now because there is a great deal of work to be done. Heavy decontamination burdens have been uncovered and this will continue in the next few years. The Liberal Party wants its banker friends to be free of any responsibilities. This is not only for those who will invest in the future; it is for those who have made loans to these companies, and for governments, including the federal government, which may have provided loans or subsidies to these companies.
    As soon as Bill C-57, which we are discussing today, enters into effect, bankers and governments that had a right to, or interest in these facilities will no longer be responsible for the decontamination. The government is washing its hands of the whole thing; its banker friends are also off the hook. The Liberal government has no social conscience.

  (1525)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the debate on Bill C-57, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. We have many concerns about the bill. Some of them have been enunciated by our environment critic, the member for Windsor--St. Clair. I would like to elaborate on those comments and indicate to members present our grave concerns about the bill.
    First, let us be clear about what this bill would do. Although it may be short in length, the bill very clearly would limit the current liability provisions related to the cost of a cleanup stemming from an incident impacting the environment. It is very much a serious issue in terms of the environment, nuclear energy and the whole area of privatization.
    I forgot to mention, Mr. Speaker, that I will be splitting my time with the member for Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore.
    As currently defined in subsection 46(3) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, any person with an interest in the affected land or facility is potentially liable for the cost of cleaning up any contamination resulting from an incident. This point is relevant to the debate at hand because the provision includes not only the owners and operators but also a mortgage lender or holder of a security interest in the land. That is the way the act now reads.
    The amendment before us today, through Bill C-57, would actually narrow the scope of potential liability to include only the owners and operators. It seems to me that we are dealing with a fairly significant issue, something that is worthy of considerable debate in the House. Yet the Liberal government would actually have us believe that this is simply a housekeeping bill to correct a flaw in existing legislation and would like it fast tracked with little debate and no study by committee.
    It seems to me that this is becoming the preferred modus operandi of the Liberal government of the day: fast track legislation, keep the public out of the process, limit debate and keep study of important issues to a bare minimum. It is certainly a pattern we have seen repeated over and over again in the House and one which we hope will come to an end. Perhaps with this bill the government may see the wisdom of allowing for some debate and thorough consideration.
    I will focus on part of the concerns we have with this bill. As I mentioned, my colleague from Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore will pursue our further concerns.
    Is it not interesting that just days before we know the parliamentary session will end, the government brings forward a bill, last Friday to be exact, asking the House to give support for its swift passage because suddenly time is of the essence. We do not believe this matter can be treated lightly.
    We have some serious concerns and it will be very difficult for us to accommodate the government agenda and to accommodate a request caused of its own doing by waiting until the last minute to bring this forward and ask for our consent. It is not possible for us to facilitate this unilateral, arbitrary attempt by the government to bypass the committee process and to silence debate.

  (1530)  

    We are dealing with a rather significant issue. We are talking about the loosening of regulations in the nuclear industry and lending our support to a bill that facilitates the privatization process. These issues are far too important to be dealt with in such a cavalier fashion and we will certainly try to send a clear message to the government in this debate.
    I would like to focus on the privatization issue because it is clear that the bill is intended to facilitate that process. We are talking about privatization in Canada's nuclear industry. That fact is absolutely clear. The matter is plain and simple.
    Let me go through some of the points that embellish this fact.
    In the short term the bill is targeted to assist Bruce A and B nuclear generating plants in Ontario. We all know that Bruce Power is Ontario's largest independent generator of electricity. It is in effect foreign owned, with the predominant manager being British Energy, the United Kingdom's largest electricity generator. As was pointed out earlier, as a private operator, Bruce Power must raise capital by borrowing from the banks. However because of the current wording in the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, banks are unwilling to lend to Bruce Power because of potential liability.
    We also know that Bruce Power has been investing in its operations. It has opened up four of the nuclear reactors and wants to open up the remaining four. It is projecting its investment to reach close to $2 billion over the next four years. Through the government, it is seeking a way to facilitate its accomplishment of the project. It is seeking, through Bill C-57, to allow Bruce Power to maintain its investment and provide capital for expansion.
    It is very unlikely that banks would lend money even with the proposed changes, as the property would not likely be seen as viable collateral in any event. We must also consider that this sector is unlikely to ever turn a profit in any case. However we have to be very vigilant on this issue and very concerned about the ramifications of an amendment that would actually narrow the scope of liability for those involved in the nuclear power industry.
    As it now stands, liability is already limited to only $75 million under the Nuclear Liability Act. Many would certainly argue that the industry is already unduly protected by legislation and needs tougher liability laws not weaker ones.
    The federal government clearly seems intent on supporting the privatization of the nuclear industry. In fact the Minister of Environment has already stated publicly that he is not concerned about the privatization of Ontario Hydro. Clearly Bill C-57 would facilitate the expansion or greater participation of private utilities, particularly with regard to nuclear power generators.
    In conclusion, and before I turn it over to my colleague, on behalf of members of our caucus we are very concerned about the bill. We will be monitoring the process very carefully because we absolutely oppose any attempt to deregulate and privatize our public power utilities and any measures that contribute to that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank my colleague for her speech. I just want to ask her how the bill before us, which changes nuclear waste management and which maintains this government's fundamental policy in favour of traditional nuclear energy from nuclear fission, fits in with the international trend emerging from the Kyoto agreements, which, by the way, were signed yesterday by European Union countries and by Japan.
    This means that there is a growing international movement in favour of the ratification of the Kyoto agreements to limit greenhouse gases and to use cleaner and more environmentally friendly methods to produce energy.
    Again, my question is very simple: how does the bill before us fit in with this trend in favour of greener energy production methods?

  (1535)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member of the Bloc for his question. It is a very important question that deals with the environment and alternative energy sources.

[English]

    The question of the member is very much at the heart of the concerns we have with respect to the bill. It is great to see that there has been some movement internationally with respect to the Kyoto accord. I understand that Japan just officially indicated its support for Kyoto. We hope the present government of the day takes notice and is prepared to muster the political courage to do the right thing with respect to the Kyoto accord.
    We are very concerned about this bill in that context. In fact any bill that encourages privatization and deregulation in the area of nuclear energy, encourages expansion of the use of nuclear energy as an energy source. Obviously members of the New Democratic Party, as I am sure is the case for those in the Bloc, are constantly searching for ways to convince the government to pursue alternative energy sources.
    We desperately see the need for a reduction in the use of nuclear power. We urge the government to find ways to make the transition from reliance upon the nuclear energy industry to alternative energy sources. We believe, with the will from the government, that there are ways to deal with workers in transition, to deal with the questions about jobs in the sector and to ensure that we build a sustainable economy for the future.
    That is certainly one of the key concerns we have with the bill. We hope this is understood not to be simply a housekeeping bill, or a minor technicality, or in fact part of a broader agenda to pursue privatization in the field of our renewable resources and nuclear energy and to encourage broader use of energy sources which are not in keeping with our notions about sustainability and protection for all of our citizens.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the federal New Democratic Party to tell the government in no uncertain terms that we oppose Bill C-57.
    I will tell the House exactly what the bill means. It amends the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to limit the current liability provisions related to the cost of a cleanup stemming from an incident impacting the environment. I just want to point out that a nuclear mishap is not an incident. It is a major catastrophe. To put the word incident in there is simply very misleading to the Canadian people. One only has to be reminded of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island to understand that when we screw around and make a mistake with anything nuclear we are affecting not only the lives of potentially millions of people but we are affecting the environment as well.
    As currently defined in subsection 46(3), any person with an interest in the affected land or facility is potentially liable for the cost of cleaning up any contamination resulting from an incident, and there is that word again. This includes not only the owner and operators but also a mortgage lender or a holder of a security interest in the land. The proposed amendment would narrow the scope of the potential liability to include only “the owner or occupant...or any other person who has the management and control”.
    This means that if the province privatized it and sold it off to someone, the new owners potentially may be responsible for everything surrounding those particular power plants and the province more or less would get off the hook. It is inconceivable that the government would attempt to do anything in this regard. I want to give credit where credit is due to Howard Hampton and the provincial Ontario NDP for the strong work they are doing throughout the entire province to tell the people of Ontario exactly what privatization of the hydro would do.
    Let alone the concerns already expressed by the previous speaker about the environmental issues, let us see what happened when we privatized hydro facilities. In Nova Scotia we were told that when Nova Scotia Power was privatized we were going to have lower rates and cleaner efficiency rates. We were going to have everything better. The sun would shine even brighter. What happened? More and more people are falling by the wayside because they can no longer afford to pay their electrical bills.
    What does Nova Scotia Power want to do now that it is privatized? It wants to introduce a 9% increase to power rates to appease the shareholders. It has completely abandoned its responsibility to businesses and citizens within the province of Nova Scotia.
    I can assure the House that the mistruth, the stretching of the argument, more or less, because I cannot say that three letter word in the House and I will not, will be that if the nuclear plants of Ontario Hydro are privatized things will be much better for the Ontario consumer. Life will be better and the sun will shine brighter. We have heard this over and over again. It is simply not true. What will happen is that rates will increase, businesses will suffer, and individuals, especially those on fixed incomes who cannot defer those higher costs in electrical rates, will go elsewhere. We will not see anything from that government to help retrofit homes or make buildings more efficient. No, it will say that the government is not in the game any more, that it is up to the private sector market to solve all those problems. It is simply unacceptable that the government of Ontario and, for that matter, the federal Liberal government can treat the people of Ontario in that manner.
    On the environmental side, I want to speak on a personal note, not on behalf of the party. I have opposed the use of nuclear power ever since I was a wee kid because of the potential changes and the risk that it poses. I cannot help but think about what we heard after September 11. What did we hear that was one of the things we would have to protect with CF-18s? Nuclear power plants. There was even talk of putting these planes right next to these power plants to ensure that no terrorist would attack them or blow them up.
    Everybody knows exactly what would happen if Point Lepreau in New Brunswick or the Pickering plant had meltdowns. That would be absolute catastrophe for the country and for the world. It would be unbelievable. Chernobyl was bad, but we can imagine how much worse it could get.

  (1540)  

    I would like to say to the workers and families of the power unions and the people who work in those plants that the NDP is not saying we would cut them off tomorrow and throw them out on the streets. It is a long term vision to reduce our use of nuclear power throughout the country. We should start looking seriously at what countries like Denmark have done and what Germany is doing. We should start looking at alternative forms of energy. Denmark now gets 16% of its energy from wind. There is no reason that we could not do the same in this country.
    What we are saying to the workers and their families in those communities is that it would be a gradual phase-out and that we would look after them when the changes come. The changes have to come because there is not one person in the House, in the country or on the planet who can tell anybody what to do with nuclear waste. We are talking about burying it in the Canadian shield. What solution is that? We have absolutely no way to handle or contain nuclear waste in a safe way, and forever too.
    We have no idea what to do with it, but I can say what we do with something called depleted uranium. We coat weapons with it and fire it into the oceans and onto the land. There is a woman named Susan Riordon, from Yarmouth, whose husband, it is suspected, died from depleted uranium. All the medical authorities in North America are saying that depleted uranium is not a hazard but medical authorities in Europe are saying it is. We have conflicting evidence about depleted uranium and what I have talked about is just a small amount of it.
    I cannot leave the House without saying how duplicitous it is about the tragedy that may befall India and Pakistan. The fact is, it is no coincidence that we rushed the sales of Candu reactors to those countries many years ago. It is no coincidence that they used the expertise around those Candu reactors to help build up their nuclear arsenal.
    What was done a few years ago when Sergio Marchi was the environment minister? He changed the law literally overnight in order to give China an over $1 billion loan to purchase two more Candu reactors. What do we think China is going do with those Candu reactors? It as well will build up its own nuclear arsenal down the road.
    Canada cannot wash its hands clean on this one. We have to stop selling Candu reactors around the world, stop this reliance and stop the subsidization of Canadian tax dollars in promotion of this industry. What we should be doing is promoting much more environmentally sound industries, industries that we can all look to for a very bright future, especially for our children. All we are doing right now is making it easier for the private marketplace to take control, but in the end these corporations will have no responsibility.
    If something happened to one of those plants under private control, I can guarantee that the owners of the plant would walk away. Who would be left cleaning it up? It would be the taxpayers again, the Canadian people. It would be just like Enron all over again. The shareholders would disappear and say that it is up to the government. Where would the people turn? They would not turn to the private corporation, which is generally foreign controlled and owned. They would go back to their elected representatives.
    Therefore I would like to tell those elected representatives to throw away Bill C-57 and start looking at alternative forms of energy so that we can look forward to a future for our children.

  (1545)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I was environment critic for a very long time. I am very familiar with the issue of nuclear waste.
    This debate has been ongoing in the House for a number of years. I see here some colleagues who sat with me on the Standing Committee on the Environment in those days.
    One cannot speak from both sides of one's mouth when talking about nuclear waste. However, this is what is happening in the House of Commons.
    I remember travelling with the Standing Committee on the Environment to Washington and New York, among others. We met with parliamentarians there and we told them, “We have to talk about nuclear weapons, because we are headed that way”. I remember we were soundly rebuffed. We were told to mind our own business and that this was none of our business.
    However, we are selling Candu reactors and we are taking dangerous political steps with regard to the nuclear industry. There is now talk of storing nuclear waste here in Canada.
    I will put a question to my colleague, who might have more information than I do since I stopped being environment critic a while ago. Needless to say, I am still very interested in the issue.
    A few years ago, there was no study to indicate that storing nuclear waste had no harmful mid or long term effect on the environment.
    I would like my colleague to give me further details in this regard. Have there been recent studies? At athe time, the Standing Committee on the Environment had asked whether there was really no danger in storing nuclear waste here.
    Can Canada really afford to take in nuclear waste from other countries and bury it in the Canadian Shield? Perhaps there has been studies on this recently. I am putting this question to my colleague.

  (1550)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for the question but I regret to inform her that I have not read any of those studies. My environment critic has done some research in this regard. My previous environment critic did so as well.
    I do know about the concerns of Canadians when, for example, moving nuclear waste from the United States into Chalk River was being talked about. I realized the grave concerns of all the Canadians and in fact all the Americans along the route where the nuclear waste was to be transported.
    I do not believe there is a report anywhere out there that can definitively tell Canadians, and Americans for that matter, that nuclear waste can be stored or placed in a situation where it will never ever be dangerous to humans. I do not believe a report like that has ever been written.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a quick question. In the legislature of Ontario yesterday it came out that there were political donations made by the hydro company in Ontario, both to the provincial Conservatives and the provincial Liberals. I do not know if any investigation was done to see if there were similar federal contributions. With that bit of backdrop, I just wondered if my friend could comment about whether he thinks there is any consideration there in regard to the bill being put before us and us being asked to get it rammed through very quickly.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for the question, but of course when it comes to privatization the first thing we have to ask ourselves is, who will benefit? What about the dollars? If we follow the money, we will find the answer.
    Time and time again we have heard concerns about privatization. We are working on one example right now, the alternative service delivery of the supply chain, which is going to Tibbett's of England. There are many other examples of that, such as the CCRA thinking of sole sourcing its entire documentation process to foreign nationals.
    This is unacceptable, but it only leads us to believe that something is not right in the state of the Liberal Party or in the state of Denmark when it comes to nuclear power and rushing the bill through.

  (1555)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address the amendment proposed in Bill C-57. I already had the opportunity to deal with this issue a number of weeks ago.
    First, I want to discuss the very substance of the amendment before getting back to the more general context of the bill that includes this proposed change. The amendment seeks to change a provision on the responsibility relating to the decontamination of sites and the storage of waste. It seeks to amend a part of section 46(3) of the act, which reads as follows:
    
—any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.
    This provision would be replaced by the following:
    
—any other person who has the management and control of, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.
    This amendment essentially provides that a group, primarily the financiers, who used to be included in the provision on the decontamination of storage sites, would suddenly be excluded. Under this amendment, financiers are no longer covered.
    It appears that the investment related risks would be much too high for financiers to be interested in such a venture. If the risks of investing in traditional nuclear energy are much too great for financiers, should we not ask ourselves whether these risks are also too high for a society such as ours?
    I am now getting to the core of this issue. The very essence of this bill raises a number of philosophical questions. I mentioned this during my previous remarks on this legislation: in the past, the federal government made a choice regarding the energy sector. It is now up to the government to change that choice, but it seems reluctant to do so.
    So, the government made a choice that it wants to maintain against all odds, and I will get back to this in a moment. But the government did make a choice to invest massively in traditional nuclear energy, in nuclear fission. This choice is definitely not a safe choice. It is definitely not an environmentally friendly choice, since it results in the production of a large quantity of hazardous waste. It is difficult to isolate this waste properly.
    We must now pick up the pieces. We must adopt effective legislation that will allow us to deal with the waste that is the result of the choices made in the past.
    I know some people on the other side, and maybe even on this side of the House, will call us paranoid, but we have to acknowledge that, in the past, the government has generously financed some energy groups that favoured other provinces and some regions in the country, especially western Canada in the case of oil. The federal government has invested more than $66 billion since the 1970s. In 1998-1999, the federal government gave $78 billion in direct subsidies.
    When I hear our friends from western Canada criticize the federal government's energy policy, I recognize that there might be some legitimate dissatisfaction in their arguments. However, when we look at the more than $66 billion in investments by the federal government in the oil industry since the 1970s, I do not think that western Canada can complain about the federal contribution to its economic development, particularly in Alberta.
    As for the traditional nuclear process, that is nuclear fission, the federal government has invested some $6 billion in that area since the 1970s.
    It is therefore $6 billion for the nuclear industry, which, for 1998-1999, represents an investment of some $126 million, or more than $100 million a year invested by the federal government to promote the development of the traditional nuclear industry, that is nuclear fission, which is located mainly in Ontario.
    When we look at these figures and compare them to the money invested by the federal government in the so-called green energies, that is renewable energies, it is $329 million since the 1970s. So, $329 million compared to $66 billion for the oil industry, which produces very high levels of greenhouse gases. For the nuclear industry, which produces great quantities of dangerous radioactive waste, it is $6 billion since the 1970s. For the so-called green energies, it is a meagre $329 million.

  (1600)  

    One could say that since the 1970s, the federal government has lacked a vision in terms of energy development. If this were the only problem, we could be saddened but tell ourselves that it is never too late to do the right thing. However, this government will not budge. Not only has it not learned from the past but it continues to invest massively in fossil energies like oil and in nuclear energy, while investments in so-called green energies remain almost nonexistent. I think we should also be concerned about that.
    Most recently, investments in the oil industry development in Newfoundland have reached $3.8 billion. These investments were not made in the early 1970s but fairly recently. The development of energy sources in western Canada, in Alberta, Ontario and Newfoundland in particular, were generously financed. While investments in renewable energies remain almost nonexistent, this government acts as the champion of the environment. It should put action to its words.
    For instance, what energy choice did Quebec make? It decided to invest in a renewable, green, and environmentally-friendly energy: hydroelectricity. How much did the federal government invest to support Quebec's efforts in the development of hydroelectric energy? Almost nothing, if anything at all. Quebec supported alone the development of its hydroelectricity.
    Now, if the Kyoto protocol is ever ratified, they will want all Canadians and Quebecers to bear the cost of a 6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, when for years Quebec has been making tremendous efforts on its own to develop an environment friendly energy supply and to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, while other provinces like Alberta show a net increase in the production of greenhouse gas emissions in the last decade. The government would like the cost of the 6% reduction to be shared by Canadians across the board, regardless of the efforts made in the past without any support from Ottawa.
    However, if this was only a record of what had been done in the past, once again, we could be saddened, but we could say that there is hope. On the contrary, the situation is only getting worse. Of the meagre $329 million invested in the renewable energies sector since the 1970s, the federal government had invested a few tens of millions of dollars in nuclear fusion, which is the energy of the future. I will come back to this in a few moments.
    Governments of industrialized countries are investing massive amounts in nuclear fusion. Canada once invested about 1% of the amount spent on nuclear fusion research worldwide. However, through its partnership with the other countries taking part in this research, it benefited fully from the technological spinoffs of nuclear fusion.
    In the early 1990s, after this government came into office, in 1994-95, using the fight against the deficit as an excuse, if I can put it that way, it decided to cut its annual contribution of about $7.2 million to the nuclear fusion program. We are talking about a federal government investment of more than $100 million in the traditional, highly dangerous and not environmentally sustainable nuclear fission industry, and a meagre $7.2 million in the Tokamak activities, in Varennes, in my riding, which was the only nuclear fusion reactor in Canada.

  (1605)  

    As I said, under the pretext of budgetary restraint, the decision was made to cut the $7.2 million allocated annually to the operations of Tokamak at Varennes.
    The result is that the Varennes Tokamak operation very shortly closed down, since the government of Quebec could not support it on its own. To all intents and purposes, the Canadian government has definitively abandoned nuclear fusion as an approach and has in a way just stood back and watched the rest of the world get ahead of us.
    The day nuclear fusion becomes feasible as a source of energy, Canada will, to all intents and purposes, become a net importer of a technology which it has helped develop at the cost of several dozens of millions of dollars.
    Such an unwise use of public funds, given that it is generally acknowledged that the federal government would recover in tax revenue far in excess of its annual investment in nuclear fusion, given the technological spinoffs of the development of nuclear fusion.
    What shortsightedness, saving $7.2 million that would have been spent on a form of energy for the future, simply because, or so it appears, they want to favour energy from nuclear fission in Ontario, and Ontario is a better place to invest.
    It is politically more advantageous for the Liberal Party. Moreover, the results are visible: 99 MPs out of 103 is not to be sniffed at. In other words, in Ontario it is very cost-effective to invest in Ontario in this type of energy that is extremely harmful to the environment and highly dangerous: nuclear fission.
    When the government made the decision to pull out of nuclear fusion, we asked it why it was so intent on reducing, eliminating, rejecting the nuclear fusion approach?
    The answer was that there were some hard budgetary choices to be made”. Obviously,we did not expect there would be some $10 billion in annual surplus accumulating just a few years later. So this was really a shortsighted decision.
    Anyway, what we were told was “We had some hard budgetary decisions to make as a government, so we decided to cut nuclear fusion. Hey, that's life”.
    The minister of natural resources of the day, now Minister of health, told us loud and clear that fusion was not a government priority as an energy project. How can one reconcile that statement with the statements made by the government as it signs the praises of renewable energy and of the Kyoto protocol and so on?
    What is really a source of concern though is that after having been told repeatedly—indeed, we were told by her successor at the Department of Natural Resources, the current Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and by the current Minister of Natural Resources—that nuclear fusion was not a government priority, there seems to have been an attitudinal shift. I was stunned to find out, after the Tokamak project folded up, that the experts that we had developed with our taxes—I am referring to the brains that we had developed in our universities with the taxpayers' money—had to leave the country to use their knowledge.
    There was no room left in Canada for these people to use their knowledge. So, we forced them to leave the country. The Varennes Tokamak project was completely dismantled. Once that was done and the Quebec government had barely managed to maintain a very small program to continue minimal research on nuclear fusion, with the available means, so as to preserve the technological expertise that had been developed in the area of plasma and microwaves, I was stunned to learn that the federal government was injecting $1 billion annually in a project that is not supposed to be part of its priorities, this to promote the ITER project in Ontario.

  (1610)  

    What is the ITER project? It is a project to build a nuclear fusion megareactor, and it is sponsored by an international consortium. All of a sudden, the federal government is interested in seeing this nuclear fusion megareactor on its territory. I would remind members that, according to the former minister of natural resources and her successors, nuclear fusion is not a priority of the government.
    The federal government shows an interest in nuclear fusion and is prepared to welcome the $12 billion ITER project on its territory. It is a major project. Where will the site be? In Ontario. It is becoming more and more interesting. The government is starting to see it as a priority. It is willing to invest some money.
    As if that were not enough, it was reported in the National Post on May 23 that the defence research and development agency is trying to reproduce an American experiment that would allow for the efficient production of clean low cost energy through nuclear fusion.
    Those who are watching will agree with me that the government is starting to show its true colours. This was not a priority of the government at the time when the centre of excellence in nuclear fusion was located in Quebec, but now, after having caused the closure of the centre for magnetic fusion in Quebec, the government shows a sudden interest in the ITER project in Ontario. All of a sudden, national defence is starting to want to reproduce American experiments for the production of energy through nuclear fusion.
    I would like to ask this question to our friends in the government. Is fusion a priority of this government, yes or no? Has the government changed its policy with regard to nuclear fusion because Quebec no longer has a centre of expertise in that area? Has fusion suddenly become an interesting form of energy again because it can now be developed in Ontario?
    This is simply despicable. This is simply outrageous. Is it any wonder that some people in Quebec say that the best way to ensure our development and our future is to take our destiny into our own hands and achieve sovereignty for Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe that if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:
    That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice, when the House is in committee of the whole this day, pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a), time shall be allotted to the recognized parties in the House in periods of twenty minutes as follows:

    1. The first such periods shall be allocated to the Liberal Party, the second, to the Canadian Alliance, the third, to the Bloc Quebecois, the fourth, to the New Democratic Party and the fifth, to the Progressive Conservative Party and subsequent periods shall be allocated to the parties in proportion to their representation in the House;

    Within each twenty minute period, each party may allocate time to one or more of its Members, for speeches or for questions and answers, provided that, in the case of questions and answers, the Minister's answer shall not exceed the time taken by the questions, and provided that, in the case of speeches, Members of the party to which the period is allocated may speak one after the other.
    Does the parliamentary secretary have unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Deputy Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.

  (1615)  

[English]

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, I will try another one and see how it goes. I believe you would find unanimous consent in the House for the following motion. I move:
    That the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates be designated to review the Seized Property Management Act, pursuant to clause 20 of the said act.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

[Translation]

Nuclear Safety and Control Act

[Government Orders]
    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-57, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, my question is quite simple. I want to congratulate my colleague for his excellent speech. The member is the industry critic for our party.
    I know he has very strong feelings about this issue. He was really affected by the closure of the Tokamak reactor, which was in his riding. He has fought tooth and nail for this issue. I would like him to brief us a bit on what has happened.

The Royal Assent

[The Royal Assent]

  (1625)  

[English]

    A message was delivered by the Usher of the Black Rod as follows:
    Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Deputy to the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this honourable House in the chamber of the honourable the Senate.
    Accordingly, the Speaker with the House went up to the Senate chamber.
     And being returned:
    I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Deputy Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-15A, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to amend other acts--Chapter No. 13.
Bill S-40, an act to amend the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act--Chapter No. 14.
Bill S-34, an act respecting royal assent to bills passed by the Houses of Parliament--Chapter No. 15.
Bill C-23, an act to amend the Competition Act and the Competition Tribunal Act--Chapter No. 16.
    It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, Shipbuilding; the hon. member for Rosemont--Petite-Patrie, National Wildlife Areas; the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest, Softwood Lumber.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, a few minutes ago I sought unanimous consent for a motion and there was a misunderstanding. I believe there is now an understanding, not only among party leaders but also among some members. I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice, when the House is in committee of the whole this day pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a), time shall be allotted to the recognized parties in the House in periods of twenty minutes as follows:
1. The first such periods shall be allocated to the Liberal Party, the second, to the Canadian Alliance, the third, to the Bloc Quebecois, the fourth, to the New Democratic Party and the fifth, to the Progressive Conservative Party and subsequent periods shall be allocated to the parties in proportion to their representation in the House;
2. Within each twenty minute period, each party may allocate time to one or more of its Members, for speeches or for questions and answers, provided that, in the case of questions and answers, the Minister's answer shall not exceed the time taken by the question, and provided that, in the case of speeches, Members of the party to which the period is allocated may speak one after the other.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)


Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Nuclear Safety and Control Act

    The House resume consideration of the motion that Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, be now read a second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I was in the process of asking a question when I was interrupted because of these events.
    An hon. member: It was a royal interruption.
    Ms. Monique Guay: Indeed, it was a royal interruption. I only wanted my colleague to complete his speech by giving us an overview of what happened in the Tokamak file, a file he relentlessly defended.
    I would like him to give us a summary. The bill before us today is very important. The member worked very hard on the Tokamak file, but to no avail. I will now ask him to give us a detailed account.
    Mr. Speaker, you will understand that I cannot start without warmly thanking my colleague from Laurentides for her question, which gives me the opportunity to give an update to my colleagues in the House.
    I mentioned the issue of Tokamak, in Varennes, without any context. Obviously, it is important to understand what really happened.
    The Canadian Centre for Magnetic Fusion, which ran Tokamak, in Varennes, was a joint partnership between Quebec and the federal government. God knows that there are not that many partnerships between Quebec and the federal government, and those that exist the federal government tries very hard to destroy.
    In any case, the project was funded equally by the federal government, on the one hand, and Hydro-Québec and INRS, on the other hand, to the tune of $7.2 million each. A centre of excellence in nuclear fusion had successfully been established, a centre which, as I said earlier, was responsible for 1% of the world research on nuclear fusion, but which enjoyed 100% of the technological spinoffs, since there was an international partnership in which the Canadian Centre for Magnetic Fusion was a partner.
    Over the years, we managed to build one of the best nuclear fusion reactors, the only one in Canada at the time, in fact. Currently, there are no nuclear fusion reactors, now that Canada has abandoned nuclear fusion, at least officially.
    We also invested several tens of millions of dollars into the Tokamak and succeeded in forming a team of approximately 100 high level technicians and researchers with special expertise in the areas of plasma and microwaves.
    Around 1994-95, the federal government suddenly and unilaterally decided to end its $7.2 million contribution, which led to Tokamak's closing in Varennes, and the waste of tens of millions of public dollars that we had invested to create Tokamak, money taken from taxpayers' pockets.
    We also dismantled a team of high level researchers who, as I mentioned before, had no other choice but to leave the country to use their knowledge. These researchers, who developed their talents and knowledge in nuclear fusion in Quebec and Canada working on Tokamak in Varennes, now work on the development of nuclear fusion in Japan, Europe and the United States.
    I cannot believe that for $7.2 million, when the federal government was getting back much more than its annual investment in Tokamak, this was a wise decision in terms of the management of public funds. No, this was not a wise decision.
    At a time when we were fighting a deficit, it was not a wise decision in terms of public finance. Nor is it today, given that the government has some ten billion dollars, which it is using generously for its sponsorship programs, as we have seen.
    This was not a wise decision because we destroyed equipment paid for by taxpayers. This was not a wise decision because it dismantled a team put together in large part thanks to the actions of Quebec government. This was in no way a wise use of public funds.
    This was a purely political decision, as has now been demonstrated by the attitude of this government, which, through the back door, is supporting implementation of the ITER project in Ontario, a $12 billion nuclear fusion megareactor. We are not talking about a few tens of millions of dollars; we are talking about $12 billion for a project that would be located in Ontario. The federal government, which said that nuclear fusion was not among its priorities, is making annual investments in the Canadian consortium that wants to have the ITER project in Ontario.
    We see that this was a political decision, as the Department of National Defence wants to emulate American experiments in nuclear fusion.

  (1630)  

    This was hogwash. This was smoke and mirrors. Meanwhile, a centre for research excellence—the most important energy research and development project in Quebec—was killed, was closed by the federal government.
    The government hoodwinked people, saying that this was done because of its financial problems. In fact, it was a political decision.
    As I was saying earlier, one will not be surprised that, with decisions such as these, many Quebecers have chosen to ensure that Quebec will become a sovereign state to take its future into its own hands.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the previous speaker. He has a good grasp of a broad topic, probably much better than my own.
    The bill before the House is a very brief amendment. I am not sure we are here today to discuss the entire nuclear energy program or what might be a nuclear energy program across the country. However I am concerned that the bill before the House is being introduced at a late time in terms of our summer recess.
    Bill C-57 should be studied by committee of the House, especially the environment committee. I am greatly concerned that the liability for an industry with sites in only three provinces across the country would be taken away, whether in Quebec with Hydro Quebec, in Ontario with Ontario Hydro, or in my own province of New Brunswick with the New Brunswick Power Corporation. New Brunswick also has Point Lepreau which is considering renovations, improvements and a revisiting of the strength of the facility.
    I urge members of the House not to pass the bill through the House too quickly. It should be well studied. We have had problems before in terms of who is liable. The entire situation concerning the tar ponds in my neighbouring province of Nova Scotia seems to fall on the provincial government which argues that the major liability rests with our federal institutions.
    I commend the hon. member for his knowledge of the industry. In considering the importance of the decision to the people of Canada and the future liabilities of the federal government, it is my strong recommendation that Bill C-57 go to the environment committee for study and come back to the House at a later time.

  (1635)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I can only agree with a recommendation like the one made by our colleague from Miramichi.
    However, in terms of his comments regarding the relevancy of my speech, I will simply tell the member for Miramichi—I do not know if he was with us at the beginning of my speech—that I did in fact establish a link regarding the content of this proposed amendment, which is designed to exempt a group from being held responsible for site decontamination. This is an issue we are most concerned about.
    However, we must therefore realize that the amendment before us is a result of the decisions that the government has been taking on energy for a number of years.
    As I said in my speech, those decisions are questionable at the very least. If at least it had been acknowledged that very questionable decisions had been made in the energy sector and if it had been decided to change direction for the future, we could feel reassured. Unfortunately, this is not the case. This is to a certain extent the thrust of my speech today.
    As regards the proposal made by my colleague from Miramichi, I obviously support it entirely. I believe that we cannot study this fundamental issue in a hasty way. We must give it all the time and attention needed. Who is in a better position than the members of the Standing Committee on the Environment to study in detail the implications of this amendment?
    I obviously support this proposal and I hope that the members of his party will back him up and support the proposal.

[English]

 
    The Deputy Speaker: Before resuming debate I will pass on some information which may be useful for members interested in Bill C-53 which could be before the House tomorrow.
    In the event that members may be preparing report stage amendments I wish to draw the House's attention to a clerical error found in the report stage reprint of Bill C-53, the pest control products act. In subclause 2(2) on page 7 the words “a preponderance of evidence” are replaced by the words “reasonable certainty”.
    Clerks at the table are available should members wish to obtain more information.

  (1640)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-57. In my view, the amendment in this bill is designed to exempt backers from liability vis-à-vis nuclear energy.
    Paragraph 46(3) of the act says:
    
--any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.
    This will be replaced by:
    
—any other person who has the management and control of, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.
    What this amendment would do is exempt backers from liability in the nuclear sector. This assumes that companies which make loans to those who manage nuclear facilities will no longer be liable. They will be able to make loans without subsequently assuming liability for any contamination. When these sites are abandoned, they will have to be decontaminated in any event. We know that this will have to be done at most sites.
    We are saying that backers will not be held liable. A company could declare bankruptcy tomorrow morning, disappear, and responsibility would revert to the government. The government would have to assume responsibility for decontaminating the sites in question. There have already been many problems in the past, including with sites which had gas facilities. The companies disappeared, and today the government has to take over responsibility.
    In my riding, we had a recent, very obvious example. It involved copper dust contamination. A company in Murdochville, in my riding, has just closed down. This company had used the Mont-Louis and Gaspé ports. Right now, these two ports are owned by Transport Canada; they were extensively contaminated by copper dust. Today, people are calling on the government to decontaminate these facilities.
    This amendment is proposing that we tell backers “Go ahead. Make a loan to the company. No matter its responsibility, no matter what it will do. In the end, if it goes out of business, the government will take on the responsibility”. I cannot agree with this proposal; I find it very dangerous and very risky.
    Quebec, however, has been asking companies for years now to assume their responsibilities vis-à-vis the environment. The Bloc Quebecois hopes that the Kyoto protocol will be ratified; we even think that this protocol does not go far enough. We must get it into our heads that the environment is very important; the future of the planet depends on it. It is as simple as that.
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