January 23, 1984

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

BUSINESS OF SUPPLY

NDP

William Alexander (Bill) Blaikie (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Blaikie:

Mr. Speaker, at this point I rise in order to seek the unanimous consent-

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PC

Erik Nielsen (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nielsen:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

With all due respect to the Hon. Member for Yukon (Mr. Nielsen), I would like to hear what the Hon. Member for Winnipeg-Birds Hill (Mr. Blaikie) is saying. Then 1 will hear the Hon. Member for Yukon.

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PC

Erik Nielsen (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nielsen:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Chair has to read the Order of the Day in order to proceed further, with great respect.

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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

The problem the Chair faces is that the Order of the Day has to be moved by an Hon. Member. There is a problem in seeking unanimous consent to substitute another Hon. Member in the name of the Hon. Member in whose name the motion stands on the Order Paper. For that reason the Chair has recognized the Hon. Member for Winnipeg-Birds Hill at this point.

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NDP

William Alexander (Bill) Blaikie (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Blaikie:

Mr. Speaker, I rise to seek unanimous consent of the House to substitute the Hon. Member for Regina East (Mr. de Jong) for the Hon. Member for Skeena (Mr. Fulton), who fell ill this weekend and had to go to hospital. We understand he will be returning home today. He is unable to be here today. We would like very much the Hon. Member for Regina East to move the motion for the Hon. Member for Skeena and speak to the motion.

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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Is there consent that the Hon. Member for Regina East should move the motion in the name of the Hon. Member for Skeena?

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LIB

Yvon Pinard (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Pinard:

These are humanitarian grounds that are entirely understandable, and I think it would be most unreasonable to deny consent when one of our colleagues is ill and as a result unable to move a motion. I can assure you that we on

the Government side are always very reasonable, and in the circumstances, we most certainly shall agree to the Hon. Member's request.

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PC

Erik Nielsen (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nielsen:

Mr. Speaker, in our view it is unnecessary. It has long been the practice of this House in circumstances like these, or any other circumstances where the mover of a motion is not present, for that motion to be moved in the name of any other Hon. Member who is recognized for that purpose. Certainly if there were consent required, we would gladly give it; but in this case we maintain that that consent is not necessary, that any member of the NDP could move that motion.

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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

The Chair is acting in accordance with the ruling of Madam Speaker Sauve on October 17, 1983, as spelled out in Hansard at page 28078, where Madam Speaker clearly ruled that in such circumstances unanimous consent was required. In accordance with that, I presume there is unanimous consent. Therefore, the Hon. Member for Regina East, seconded by Mr. Ogle-

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PC

Erik Nielsen (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nielsen:

Mr. Speaker, with great respect, you cannot presume unanimous consent has been given on this side. We have stated that we believe, with great respect to the former occupant of the chair whom you have now replaced, that she acted on bad advice in that instance. It has for decades been the practice of this place, when an Hon. Member in whose name a motion stands is away, that that motion may be moved by any other member of the Party that has moved it.

[DOT] (U10)

We are not going to stand in the way of unanimous consent. We expect this Order of the Day to proceed today. I understand the Government House Leader might be disposed to find some area of agreement with me, but you will recall the difficulty it led to on the last occasion and what a ruling like that means, Mr. Speaker. I would hope the Chair might take this under consideration. In circumstances where perhaps we are not on all fours as we are now today with respect to this motion proceeding, it leads to the position where, in order to be sure a motion put down in the name of a member is heard, it has to be put down in the name of every other single member in the Party that supports that motion. The Order Paper is cluttered at God knows what expense and we do not want to be put in that position ever again. We want to revert to the practice where we were free as we were in the past. For example, when a Minister is absent, there must be freedom for that motion or Bill to be moved in the name of another

January 23, 1984

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Minister. That has been the practice here and we would like the Chair to review it.

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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

The Chair has made a ruling. The Chair has made note of the observations of the Hon. Member for Yukon. Is there unanimous consent for the Hon. Member for Regina East to move the motion standing in the name of the Hon. Member for Skeena (Mr. Fulton)?

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PC

Erik Nielsen (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nielsen:

We will not refuse consent.

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?

Some Hon. Members:

Agreed.

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NDP

Simon Leendert de Jong

New Democratic Party

Mr. Simon de Jong (Regina East) moved:

That a Royal Commission of Inquiry be created to study the nuclear fuel cycle in Canada including the range of economic, social, medical, environmental and safety matters resulting from exploration, mining, production, transportation, storage and use of uranium and its byproducts.

He said: Mr. Speaker, today my Party, the New Democratic Party, has introduced this motion during its Opposition Day. We feel the time is long overdue for the public of Canada to be afforded an opportunity to look at the Canadian nuclear industry, from the mining aspect to the enrichment, to the use and export and sale of uranium and nuclear reactors.

There is no doubt that the introduction of nuclear energy, brought about by some important and historic discoveries by Albert Einstein and many other prominent scientists, has opened up a whole new vista for the world, namely a new energy which was originally touted to be the great saviour and a solution to many human problems by providing an endless supply of energy. What we have found is that while the potential of this new energy has not been fully realized, many of its dangers are more than apparent to us today. This new energy has placed the world on the brink of its own selfdestruction through nuclear weaponry. The threat of devastating and destroying large sections of our environment is yet another danger that arises out of this new discovery, nuclear energy.

Just to give you some example of the scale with which we are dealing, Mr. Speaker, the half life of uranium and other radioactive particles is measured in thousands of years. A mistake, then, is a thousand-year mistake. An environmental mistake can destroy hundreds and thousands of acres or miles, which destruction will last for thousands of years, longer than the existence of the pyramids.

Dealing with an energy that is so potent, the effects of which can be felt for such a long time, requires a tremendous sense of social responsibility by the institutions that deal with it. They are the scientific community, government and industry. What we have seen, in fact, is social irresponsibility by the handlers of the nuclear industry. In my own province, when my Party was in power it decided to go ahead with the development of uranium mines in northern Saskatchewan. At that time, publicly and within the Party conventions, I opposed that move. One of my reasons was that while the Party was in power it could take all the necessary safeguards and precautions to make certain that the environment and the safety and health of workers is not in danger; but the time could come when

another party would be in power which would not have the same regard for the health and safety of the workers and the environment.

[DOT] 0115)

The events of the last few weeks have demonstrated the social irresponsibility of the Saskatchewan Conservative Government. Since taking office it has drastically reduced the monitoring capacity of the provincial government. For example, in its budget of March, 1982 it cut the program that deals with occupational health and safety by 14 per cent in funds and by 17 per cent in staff. Since taking office it has also cut the budget of its Department of the Environment by some 18 per cent. It has chopped 11 per cent of the Department's budget and 20 per cent of its staff. This is the Department that is responsible for making sure that the environment of northern Saskatchewan is not in danger.

The budget for the mines pollution control branch that is supposed to monitor the work in uranium mines was cut by 39 per cent and the staff was cut by 42 per cent. This is a case of a government anxious to reduce its deficit, anxious to get the revenues from the uranium mines onstream as fast as possible, and for that it is willing to take certain risks and cut certain corners. The end result is the most major environment accident-and I put "accident" in quotation marks, Mr. Speaker-in Saskatchewan's history with over 100 million litres of radioactive water now loose in that environment.

Can we honestly say that the federal Government has dealt with the uranium question in a responsible manner? Thanks to Canada's contribution by selling the Candu reactor to India, India now has a nuclear bomb. Canada has sold Candu technology to Pakistan and it will soon have the first Muslim bomb. We are quite anxious to sell Candu reactors to Argentina, South Korea and Romania. What great democracies these are with a tremendous history of social responsibility!

I charge the Government with total irresponsibility, not only to Canadian citizens but to citizens of the world, by merchandising technology that would allow the creation of nuclear devices and nuclear bombs by people with a history of nuclear irresponsibility. Certainly they do not have a history of democracy.

I should like to deal with the economic question now. Does the nuclear industry make any economic sense? So far in this country I understand that the nuclear industry has been subsidized by up to $4 billion. It is a very expensive form of energy that requires 40 per cent subsidization. That just does not make any economic sense. The citizens of Ontario will be paying billions of dollars, for years to come, Mr. Speaker, for their nuclear power plants, many of which cannot be used. Many of them are out of commission. Heavy water plants, Mr. Speaker, were over-built. They now have to be taken apart at a cost, again, of hundreds of millions of dollars.

[DOT] (1120)

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, the great planners in the energy sector, particularly when it comes to nuclear energy, have

January 23, 1984

made some horrendous mistakes which are going to cost the average citizens of Canada hundreds of millions of dollars in the years ahead. Yet the Government is not willing to call a halt to these fantastic sums of money being poured down the drain. It is not willing to say: "Enough is enough; we have made a mistake. Let us cut our losses and look for some alternatives". The economics just do not make sense on a public level.

There are those who propose nuclear energy as a saviour for Third World countries, which need this endless source of cheap electricity. But it is not cheap, Mr. Speaker, it is very expensive, and most Third World countries cannot afford the massive loans necessary to build reactors and to create an infrastructure which would use that electricity. There are technical problems involved. For example, just out of uranium mining alone, there are 99.3 million tonnes of radioactive tailings which have to be stored in Ontario, some 20 million tonnes of such substances in Saskatchewan and 1.1 million tonnes in the Northwest Territories. Altogether there are 120 million tonnes of radioactive tailings covering 87,400 acres which Canada does not know how to dispose of properly. The 100 million tonnes of tailings in Ontario is in the Elliot Lake region. This is enough to cover a two-lane highway to a depth of three feet from Vancouver to Halifax. The problem will get worse, to quote a government document.

We do have some major technical problems, Mr. Speaker, not only with storing the tailings but in dealing with the waste from the nuclear sites themselves. We have technical problems with the Candu reactor itself. We also have problems with our agency, the Atomic Energy Control Board, the AECB. This agency is supposed to be the monitor of the nuclear industry. Yet, Mr. Speaker, there is a tremendous conflict of interest occurring there. Most of the people responsible for the monitoring originally came from the nuclear industry itself. What that "watchdog" agency is really up to, we just do not know. However, most of us are quite suspicious of the impartiality of that agency. I place on record a quote from a memo which was sent to Environment Canada from the Chief Safety Engineer, of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. This is what Mr. Liberty Pease, the Chief Engineer, had to say, and I quote:

Not only do I see no particular obligation on the part of the present generation for the comfort of future generations, but I also think we underestimate the ingenuity of future generations to control pollution from the technologies they

devise.

It is my strong personal view, that environment regulation (including nuclear regulation) is in danger of becoming a serious overkill. Regulatory agencies are responding to public hysteria, and although the intentions are good, the effect is further to aggravate the hysteria.

This is a quote from one of the watchdogs. He considers we should not be concerned about future generations, that the future generations will take care of themselves, that they will devise the technologies to take care of the tailings and the nuclear waste. I hold that up as a prime example of social irresponsibility. If this is what the people in the watchdog agency are saying, what are the people in the nuclear industry itself saying? We want a royal commission, Mr. Speaker, to look into the alternatives. For example, the economics of

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nuclear energy have never made sense to me, when one realizes that if the amount of money it would take to build a nuclear power plant was spent on conservation, more electricity would be saved than the nuclear power plant would ever produce.

There are two directions in which our western industrialized society can go. We can continue down the path that we have been following, a highly capital-intensive path, one which makes no economic or environmental sense. Alternatively, we can develop conservation and the use of alternative sources of energy. Going down the nuclear path requires tremendous capital investment, produces only a few jobs, and continues the dependence of people on financial institutions and utilities for a basic need, that of electrical energy. Conservation would allow individuals to become more self-sufficient, allow them to heat their homes in a cheaper way so that they do not have to meet those high monthly utility bills. Surely, Mr. Speaker, the rational path to follow is the one leading to energy conservation and self-sufficiency.

Those are the alternatives, Mr. Speaker. However, this Government and previous governments have chosen the capital-intensive route. Some 70 per cent of the money this Government has spent on energy research has gone to the nuclear industry, with the balance, on the whole, going to the oil industry. Precious little of it has gone to conservation, or wind-generated, solar or other forms of energy. There are alternatives and it is about time we had a government with political will and vision to realize that the nuclear route is a dead-end economically and environmentally. Where the health and safety of workers is concerned, it does not make any sense. Is it not about time we started looking at alternatives?

I urge this House to accept our motion, Mr. Speaker, our call for a public inquiry. This Government is seriously contemplating building nuclear power plants in Canada to export electricity to the U.S. in order to help our balance of payments situation. Another example of social irresponsibility. This Government has given massive subsidies to the nuclear industry. We have problems with tailings and nuclear waste. The economics of this situation no longer make sense. There are dire medical consequences flowing from exposure to radiation. Much of our uranium ends up in weaponry. The judges at Nuremberg did not accept the excuse of: "Well, if it was not us, someone else would have provided it". That is no longer an excuse, Mr. Speaker. The environmental implications of the nuclear industry are everlasting. There is a conflict of interest in the AECB.

Given all that, surely the time has come where a full public inquiry into the nuclear industry is desperately needed. Let the Canadian people decide which route we should follow. Let the Canadian people in open hearings get all the facts and figures about the real risks and benefits. Let the Canadian people make those decisions rather than having them made behind closed doors.

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[DOT] (N30)

It is an important step, Mr. Speaker. We are living in a day and age in which major global implications are coming to a head. We have the problem of the greenhouse effect. Scientists are now saying that the consequences of the greenhouse effect are irreversible and will be felt within the next 20 years. Major social, economic and agricultural changes will have to occur on a global level. We will need new forms of energy. We will have to change how we use our energy. Necessity will force us to this position in our lifetimes. Time is running out. We need a comprehensive, open national discussion and debate regarding what type of society we want and what road we should follow.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I urge the House, and in particular I urge this Government, to allow an open public inquiry into the nuclear industry. We had an excellent committee of this House which discussed and investigated alternate forms of energy. The major recommendation of that committee was that Canada go to hydrogen economy. Yet the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources has totally ignored that recommendation. The bureaucrats in the back seem to know better. Look at the mistakes they have made which are costing this country billions of dollars. Yet they have the gall, Mr. Speaker, to say that they know better! They say that the committee of Members of Parliament was just a bunch of "feelies" and their suggestions were totally off the wall because after all they are the experts. They are some experts, Mr. Speaker, who have made decisions which are costing this country billions of dollars and are endangering our environment. Through their stupidity they are introducing nuclear reactors into the world that are endangering the safety and continuing existence of the human race. Let us have a public inquiry.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Hon. Member for Saskatoon East (Mr. Ogle), that this House approve the following motion:

That a Royal Commission of Inquiry be created to study the nuclear fuel cycle in Canada including the range of economic, social, medical, environmental and safety matters resulting from exploration, mining, production, transportation, storage and use of uranium and its byproducts.

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?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

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LIB

David Charles Dingwall (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Dingwall:

Mr. Speaker, I listened with considerable interest to the comments made by the Hon. Member. I note that he wishes a royal commission of inquiry. I would like to ask him one or two questions in relation to the substance of his remarks.

He talks about a royal commission making an inquiry. In listening to the Hon. Member, unless my interpretation is wrong, we know his position before that inquiry would take place. He would like to see the displacement in Canada of

36.000 workers involved in the nuclear industry. Since he seems to have come to a conclusion as to what ought to be done with the industry, I hope the Hon. Member will rise in his place momentarily and tell us what he would do with

36.000 displaced workers. If he has given so much consideration to making his position on an inquiry and on the nuclear

industry known, obviously he would have 10 or 15 steps readily available to put into place to hire the 36,000 workers.

We know from reports within the New Democratic Party that their policy of the past is not in line with what is happening in Canada today. I hope, Mr. Speaker, we will not get the same rhetorical answers that we have received in the past and that the Hon. Member would be kind enough to address himself to that question.

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NDP

Simon Leendert de Jong

New Democratic Party

Mr. de Jong:

Mr. Speaker, I will answer the question in a non-rhetorical way. It is unfortunate that the question itself was not put in a non-rhetorical way.

Of course, there has to be concern for the jobs of the 36,000 people involved in the nuclear industry. You must also ask whether $4 billion that they have continued to owe to the federal Government is not quite a high price to pay to maintain those jobs. Of course, those jobs have to be phased out and alternative jobs have to be found for those people. This Party has consistently attempted to convince the Government that when you replace industries, or as industry introduces new technologies, or whatever occurs, you do it in a humane way. You do not abruptly throw all sorts of people out of work. It is unfortunate that in a whole slew of other industries that same concern is not exhibited.

I would suggest as well that there are a lot more jobs waiting in other forms of energy. The conservation program was a good program. The CHIP program was highly successful. It created many, many more jobs than the nuclear industry created at a fraction of the cost and with much more human benefit to the average Canadian. There is an area in alternative energies that can create more jobs, that will have a greater benefit to the average Canadian and cost the Canadian taxpayer less.

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January 23, 1984