February 2, 1993

NDP

Philip Edmonston

New Democratic Party

Mr. Phillip Edmonston (Chambly):

The last time I spoke I was as much against the bill under discussion then, a bill authorizing the government to borrow $8 billion, as I am now, I think, in favour of my colleagues'

private members bill, Bill C-281, an act relating to indoor air quality.

The people who are listening to us and following these proceedings may find that an act concerning cleaner indoor air is a bit strange because people think it should be clean and uncontaminated and they may find that we are somewhat paranoid, creating problems where none exist.

This bill is extremely important and there is nothing paranoid about that. It is important for us to pass this bill. The government's representative just said she cannot support the bill. I fail to understand why the government refuses to follow up on the initiative taken by the hon. member and support this kind of bill because today environmental factors are becoming an increasingly frequent cause of illness. Doctors agree that today's diseases of the 21st century are diseases we have created ourselves, whether we are talking about the connection between smoking and cancer or other problems due to the contamination of our water, our food or our environment in general.

There is not a trace of paranoia in this. This bill responds to an increasingly critical need when we consider how contaminated our environment has become today. Consumers in Quebec, in Canada and North America are becoming increasingly suspicious of products that are seemingly harmless, like a glass of water, for instance. I drink from this glass which contains water, but what else? I heard a report on the radio yesterday that a certain brand of bottled water in Quebec contains nitrate.

I remember when I was a member of a consumer protection group a few years ago and someone discovered that Perrier water from France contained benzine. Imagine Perrier being something you can drink or put in your gas tank. Mind-boggling.

So we become increasingly suspicious of products that seem absolutely harmless. I think a bill that calls on the government to develop a comprehensive strategy for improving the quality of indoor air makes good sense. I think it responds to a critical need.

Mr. Speaker, have you ever travelled and had to stay in hotels where the windows didn't open? Did you feel comfortable breathing this artificial air containing God knows what, perhaps filtered, perhaps not? I don't. I feel terrible if I can't have a window that opens so I can more or less control the quality of the air I breathe.

February 2, 1993

What is the air like here in the House of Commons right now? Does it contain asbestos? We don't know. What are the government standards for air quality right here? Have there been any checks recently? Do we have any federal standards for indoor air quality in this building? Where does our air come from?

I know the quality of air circulation varies, but of course we produce our own. Seriously, if we agree that 90 per cent of our time is spent indoors, the problem is a critical one. It is not only about contamination due to poor filtration or certain substances but about the need for clean air because it has a dramatic impact on the health of individuals who work indoors.

I could talk about radon, for instance, a colourless and odourless gas. According to the experts, radon has apparenbly been responsible for 5 per cent to 15 per cent of lung cancer cases. This is a serious problem. And I am not being paranoid about this either. These were figures presented by well-known physicians.

Now we know the problem exists and that the problem of contaminated indoor air has been criticized several times by employees and by other members, what is the federal government doing about this in a comprehensive way?

The hon. member said: We are trying to co-ordinate our efforts. Fine. I couldn't agree more. We also have guidelines, the difference being that the hon. member prefers specific standards. There is quite a difference.

In concluding, I want to say that as a member I am proud to support a bill that really makes good sense. I am proud of this bill. It does not happen very often because I get the impression that there is a lot of talk in the House about things that are not really important, except for last night, when I was also very proud to see my Conservative, Liberal and NDP colleagues support the entrenchment in the Constitution of the recognition of both languages for New Brunswick. I thought that was splendid. I was very proud indeed.

This evening I am equally proud of the hon. member's initiative in tackling a problem that is obvious, serious and far-reaching. And I wish him good luck with his bill.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   INDOOR AIR QUALITY ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Lise Bourgault

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Lise Bourgault (Argenteuil-Papineau):

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity this evening to take part in this debate on air quality.

Private Members' Business

We all know that air pollution has been recognized for quite some time as a serious threat to health. Air pollution has probably focussed the public's attention on the quality of our environment to a greater extent than has any other form of environmental deterioration. Since the 15th century, smoke and the odours emanating from burning coal were considered a public nuisance. Laws designed to control point source emissions have been part of the history of most industrialized countries and were passed many years ago.

Interestingly, indoor air quality did not become a subject of debate and intense research until quite recently. The recent flurry of activity proves that indoor air quality has become a major health concern, especially in this country, where we unfortunately spend up to 90 per cent of our time indoors.

Here in Canada, we had the controversy about urea formaldehyde foam insulation. You will recall the UFFI debate and the government's ban in 1980 which I think was a major factor in drawing the public's attention to the problem of indoor air quality. Reports on scientific studies which showed a higher concentration of chemical contaminants indoors than outdoors have tended to heighten these concerns. Furthermore, office employees claim that current energy conservation practices in large office buildings are responsible for poor air quality.

No single Canadian agency has full responsibility for investigating and checking the potential impact on health of air contaminants inside residences. In the case of residential buildings, the government's presence is perceived by some as an intrusion, by others as a necessity. The wide range of strategies and approaches for controlling exposure to indoor air contaminants are an indication of the complexity of the problem. Finally, controlling indoor air contaminants involves measures such as ventilation, removal or replacement of sources of air contaminants, making changes so as to avoid contaminant sources, air purification, restrictions on household use of potentially hazardous chemical products, certification programs for builders and trades people, compulsory courses for engineers and building designers and educational programs for the general public.

Private Members' Business

Corrective measures may include a balanced application of several of these approaches, which are not necessarily incompatible. Standards or criteria defining air quality levels that are conducive to health and comfort must be used to determine to what extent controls are necessary. That is why in 1987, the Department of National Health and Welfare published the following document: Exposure Guidelines for Residential Indoor Air Quality.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   INDOOR AIR QUALITY ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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BQ

Louis Plamondon (Bloc Québécois House Leader)

Bloc Québécois

Mr. PJamondon:

In 1985?

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   INDOOR AIR QUALITY ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Lise Bourgault

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Bourgault:

No, in 1987. The first one of its kind to be published by any government in the world. Although provincial departments across the country approved these guidelines, they are neither compulsory nor binding. However, it is expected they will help individuals and public agencies to be consistent in their assessments of the need for corrective action. In the longer term, these national guidelines will be used as a basis for developing or modifying the building code, standards for construction materials and furnishings, and ventilation requirements.

The department developed these guidelines in June 1980 when the Ontario Deputy Minister of Health requested a federal-provincial study that would set standards for air quality in new residential housing projects. A proposal to form a task force on indoor air quality was officially tabled at a meeting in October 1980 of the Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee on Environmental and Occupational Health. I mention this so that people who are interested will realize there are a number of committees and that a number of things have been done in recent years. The deputy ministers of health subsequently approved the proposal. The advisory committee created the federal-provincial task force on indoor air quality, whose mandate would be to examine a definition of acceptable air quality, the need to establish acceptable objectives and maximum acceptable concentrations of specific substances, and standards for ventilation or air recirculation. The scope of the mandate was restricted to residential establishments and the task force was to make recommendations designed to protect the public, based on constant exposure, in other words, 24 hours a day.

When it wrote these guidelines, the department wanted to protect the health of the great majority of the general public, including groups at risk like very young children, the elderly and persons with known health problems. These groups are especially concerned with indoor air quality because, as we know, they spend most of their time indoors. The department set itself two major objectives: (1). To develop guidelines on the concentrations of particular air contaminants in homes, taking account of factors like the sensitivity of groups at risk and the sources and modes of action of the contaminants; (2). To develop as much as possible other guidelines or recommendations on measures to protect or improve air quality in domestic establishments.

The federal-provincial task force met for the first time in September 1981 under the aegis of the Department of National Health and Welfare. In the next four years it collected and examined scientific documentation on 18 substances or groups of substances before setting the guidelines and recommendations contained in the document published by the Minister of National Health and Welfare in April 1987.

The government agreed in principle to update the guidelines in 1992-93 so that is now going on. The group will consider other substances to be added to the guidelines. If it seems possible to develop guidelines on these substances the work will again be facilitated by the Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee on Environmental and Occupational Health.

That is why the very existence of these guidelines, combined with the research now under way in various federal government departments, shows that we have implemented a national strategy for reducing the threats posed by exposure to contaminants in indoor air.

Also, our government's tobacco policy is another measure that has particularly improved indoor air quality in public buildings. Nevertheless, it should not be taken for granted that everything is going well. As a member of Parliament when I was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare, I had to deal with the case of a citizen who is fighting a constant struggle throughout the country with the problems of asthma and the possibility that he might have to work or even live in buildings that are insulated in different ways.

February 2, 1993

I think that we are doing many things, but fully regulating single-family homes in Canada is still a long way off. Nevertheless we must continue to work for increased protection of the health of Canadians, especially those who work in public, semi-public and even private buildings, because health is a subject that concerns all Canadians. Health costs being so high, it is obviously desirable to implement all kinds of preventive policies.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to participate in this debate.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   INDOOR AIR QUALITY ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Beryl Gaffney

Liberal

Mrs. Beryl Gaffney (Nepean):

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the motion of my colleague, the hon. member for Ottawa South, on Bill C-281, an act relating to indoor air quality.

The quality of the air we breath is essential for good health. 1 think that is a very basic statement and one with which we are all very familiar.

North Americans spend over 90 per cent of their time indoors. Here in Canada this is as high as 98 per cent, given the climate. I was alarmed to read of a study by the Ontario environment industry which states that Canadians breath more toxic chemicals in their homes, offices and cars than they do from the worst urban pollution outdoors.

Obviously something needs to be done to rectify this situation. Checks need to be set in place to ensure that the quality of indoor air is clean and safe.

In other words, this bill is long overdue. As a member of Parliament for a local riding, Nepean, many of my constituents work for the federal Public Service. My colleague has mentioned that many federal buildings across the country have contaminants seeping into the space in which the employees are working.

I would like to specifically zero in on one building in the Ottawa area-

Private Members' Business

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   INDOOR AIR QUALITY ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

I am sorry but the time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired.

Pursuant to Standing Order 96(1), the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   INDOOR AIR QUALITY ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
LIB

John Paul Manley

Liberal

Mr. Manley:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Given the fact that the bells rang for 10 minutes at the beginning of private members' hour we did not begin the hour until about 5.10 p.m.

I know my colleague has remarks prepared and is ready to deliver them. It does not seem right that we have an abbreviated private members' hour in this case.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   INDOOR AIR QUALITY ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

I accepted the hon. member's question out of courtesy, even though the debate on the adjournment motion had begun. I do not have to receive the point of order. That being said, the Standing Orders clearly state that the time for Private Members' Business ends at six o'clock. Pursuant to the Standing Orders, I proceeded to the debate on the adjournment motion at sue o'clock.

If the hon. member wants to change the Standing Orders he can always address the committee that periodically considers improvements to the Standing Orders.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   INDOOR AIR QUALITY ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

John Paul Manley

Liberal

Mr. Manley:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. Perhaps there would be unanimous consent of the House to at least allow my colleague from Nepean to complete the remarks that were under way at the time. I think many of us contemplated that she had until 6.10 p.m.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   INDOOR AIR QUALITY ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

I am sorry, but once the debate on the adjournment motion is under way, I cannot receive requests of this kind. It should have been done before sue o'clock.

Adjournment Debate

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   INDOOR AIR QUALITY ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink

PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION


A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.


CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE

LIB

Derek Vincent Lee

Liberal

Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough-Rouge River):

Mr. Speaker, last autumn I put a question through the Chair to the Solicitor General regarding a matter involving the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

I was seeking from him an assurance for Canadians that intelligence gathering and analysis had not been politicized. Politicization of that type of information can cause significant problems for democratic governments. There are many examples in modem history such as the case of J. Edgar Hoover in the United States who perhaps used information for purposes other than for that which it was originally intended in the field of security intelligence.

The background to my question involved two allegations that were publicly made. The first was that the names of intelligence sources were made known to the Solicitor General and were routinely disclosed. The second was that the political staff of the Solicitor General attended meetings of the target approval and review committee within CSIS.

On the first question the Solicitor General responded that in a small number of exceptional cases names were disclosed but in none of those cases was the person a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. In that way he perhaps got a little lucky but that does not speak for other Solicitors General prior to this one. What he did not say but should have said, and he might if he had the chance, is that any reference in the Solicitor General's routine business to persons without using a code name should only occur on an exceptional need to know basis. I hope that is what is occurring because anything beyond that risks politicization.

The second question involved the allegation that political assistants of a previous solicitor general had attended meetings of the target approval and review committee. This was not fully addressed in the question.

A committee of this House reported in 1990 on CSIS and did not include that type of person at meetings of TARC. I hope that is the case. That is not to say that before 1988 such persons did not attend those meetings. I hope they did not. In any event we do not have a lot of information that they are now, and I believe they are not.

The point I want to make, and I make it on behalf of members on this side of the House for the benefit of the Solicitor General, is that disclosure of source names and attendance by political staff at meetings of TARC or any other committee within CSIS should not happen. It is a matter for continuing monitoring by the security and intelligence review committee that acts on behalf of this House and all Canadians in monitoring CSIS. The Solicitor General should always be in a position in this House to assure Canadians that the security intelligence gathering systems within CSIS are secure and have not been politicized as those public allegations suggested at that time.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE
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PC

Monique Bernatchez Tardif (Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Monique B. Tardif (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada):

Mr. Speaker, last June, the media did say that the names of CSIS's human sources were regularly passed on to politicians. More specifically, they said that the minister's instructions issued in 1986 described how CSIS's human sources should be treated and that the names of these informers should be disclosed to the Solicitor General of Canada.

Naturally, the director of the service keeps the minister informed on all important operational activities. The identity of human sources is a very sensitive issue and the promise of anonymity is a significant factor in obtaining their co-operation and trust. Their identity is always protected.

In this regard, Parliament gave the service an important responsibility which is found in section 18 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act that reads as follows:

-no person shall disclose any information that the person obtained or to which the person had access in the course of the performance by that person of duties and functions under this Act or the participation by that person in the administration or enforcement of this Act and from which the identity of (a) any other person who is or was a confidential source of information or assistance to the Service-can be inferred.

February 2, 1993

There are departmental instructions dealing with human sources. Here, I would like to refer to On Course published by the government in February 1991.

Page 14 of this document contains the following statement: "Sources are to be managed so as to protect both the security of the service's operations and the personal safety of sources". Nevertheless, there is no requirement in these instructions to disclose the identity of a human source to the minister or another politician.

The identity of a human source will be revealed to the minister only if it is directly related to his responsibilities which is a very rare and exceptional occurrence.

In conclusion, the media's statements that the identity of human sources is regularly revealed to the Solicitor General are unfounded.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE
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CANADA POST CORPORATION

LIB

Don Boudria (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell):

Mr. Speaker, on December 9, 1992,1 rose in this House to put a question to the minister responsible for Canada Post. I wanted to know why he was pursuing this policy of shutting down rural post offices. I asked in particular for his intervention in the case of the post office in Saint-Clement de Riviere-du-Loup. Post offices are closing in my riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, in Martin-town, just as they are closing in my colleague's riding here.

The worst thing about these decisions is that they are arbitrary. Canada Post shuts down rural post offices whether or not the post office is still needed and whether or not the post office is making money. It does not make any difference to them. The only criteria Canada Post uses is whether or not the postmaster has left. We call this the natural opportunity criteria.

This so-called natural opportunity is what Canada Post is taking.

I submit to you today that several post offices were not shut down. There are discrepancies in the administration of this policy. In some cases post offices are allowed to remain open in the ridings of certain members opposite

Adjournment Debate

even after the postmaster retired. But, in the ridings of members of the opposition it was quite another matter. I do hope that the government will answer these questions.

What I want the government to tell me today, is why pursue this policy of so-called natural opportunity to shut down rural post offices. The parliamentary secretary may argue: "We are not shutting them down. They are being converted". Go and tell that to my constituents in Summerstown for instance. When the post office was closed down one of these converted outlets was opened but it has moved three times in the past ten months. Canadians from rural areas are not provided with service at least not the level of service they are entitled to.

Today, I urge this government to reconsider its decision and eliminate immediately this criterion for shutting down rural post offices.

There is still time for this government to change its ways in regard to closing rural post offices. If the Tories will not do it, we will do it very soon.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   CANADA POST CORPORATION
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PC

Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for External Relations; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Indian Affairs and Northern Development))

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Suzanne Duplessis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for External Relations and Minister of State (Indian Affairs and Northern Development)):

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Post Corporation has worked very hard to improve the efficiency and accessibility of postal services in Canada and thus meet the expectations and changing needs of all Canadians. Like other organizations offering services to the public Canada Post has had to find new ways to provide its services and meet the pressing needs of all Canadians. Canada Post continues to improve access to its postal services and products for Canadians.

For example, the corporation reaches its goal in rural Canada by using the resources and knowledge of local businesses in order to significantly increase the number of outlets which provide postal services and products. It should be noted that other businesses providing services in rural areas have reacted to changes by interrupting their services. The corporation, however, has made every possible effort to maintain its business ties in the community by consolidating its partnerships with local businesses, and it has been doing so for more than 100 years.

February 2, 1993

Adjournment Debate

Canada Post implemented a program which has been misunderstood in more ways than one, namely the program to reorganize rural service by converting from an institutional outlet to one that is being taken over by a local business in a rural area. Therefore, all retail services such as postal money orders, mail collection and parcel postage, as well as items which require a signature are available at the postal outlets in rural areas.

The corporation has also developed a number of methods to continue mail delivery in a given community. For example, we can mention mailboxes in a retail postal outlet, community mail boxes or rural route delivery. In this way Canada Post makes sure that the community maintains its specific postal identity and that all customers can send and receive their mail locally.

The corporation proceeds case by case and bases its decision on criteria such as the size of the community, its commercial base, revenue, the distance to the next community, population trends and the present service. Although it is a rather rare occurrence, Canada Post will sometimes decide that it should continue on its own to provide the postal service. This is mostly the case in remote areas such as the Far North.

A survey was done-

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   CANADA POST CORPORATION
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PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBIois):

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but I cannot go much beyond the two minutes allotted to her.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   CANADA POST CORPORATION
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EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS CANADA

February 2, 1993