October 10, 1996

LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the member raises similar issues to those that have been raised by other speakers from the Bloc having to do with an indictment of the automobile lobby.

As I indicated earlier, today I had an opportunity to meet with the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association and the chairman, Douglas R. Leggat from Burlington, Ontario. The issue of MMT is extremely important to them.

The adverse effect of MMT stems from the fact that approximately 80 per cent of the combustion products of the additive remain in the engine combustion chamber and catalytic converter. This adversely affects the vehicle pollution control equipment and as a result will increase air pollution and consequent health implications.

My question to the member comes down to, are we concerned about a potential problem of the lobbyist type or are we dealing with a risk to the environment and to the health of Canadians? I would like the member to tell me what the automobile industry has to gain from this other than to have products which reduce the pollution of Canada's environment.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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BQ

Osvaldo Nunez

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Nunez

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious to us that there is a very strong lobbying effort by the automotive industry on this issue. Like my hon. colleague, most of the government members who oppose our view are from Ontario, where there is a high concentration of car manufacturers.

If you were really sure of your facts, you could discuss the matter with your colleague, the Minister of International Trade, who is also from Ontario, who wrote the Minister of the Environment, saying how concerned he was about the potential implications of this bill.

If you are so right, why did the Government of Saskatchewan express very serious reservations about this bill? The Government of Quebec did the same thing; the Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution opposing this bill.

I think it would be in the interests of the people of Canada and Quebec not to proceed with this bill, especially at a time when there is a difference of opinion in government, within Cabinet. I think the bill should be considered further before being brought back, given that it is very controversial.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Szabo

Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight for the member that the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment task force on cleaner vehicles and fuels estimated that health benefits of up to $31 billion over 23 years would result from introducing cleaner fuels and more stringent vehicle emissions standards into the Canadian marketplace.

Acknowledging that there is some uncertainty, some risk, some disagreement of opinion, would it not be prudent to proceed with this bill if we are to err on the side of caution in protection of the health of Canadians and the Canadian environment?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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BQ

Osvaldo Nunez

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Nunez

With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, I do not think that the health of Canadians and Quebecers is at great risk. That is why I do not believe this bill is warranted in the circumstances. There are scientific studies to back me up on this.

I think that the government is facing a huge challenge, because if there is no consensus within Cabinet itself, among its own members, it would be wiser not to go ahead with a bill as strongly criticized and as controversial as this one.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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LIB

Karen Kraft Sloan

Liberal

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of the Environment, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, first I want to suggest that the scientificstudies the hon. member from the Bloc was referring to are studies that have been developed by the corporation in question which is producing MMT. One might try to understand whether these would be unbiased studies.

Studies were conducted by the University of Waterloo, which is a very fine Canadian university with international and national reputation. The university has suggested that the studies that were conducted by Ethyl Corporation were not valid and were not conducted in a rigorous scientific way. I would suggest that the studies that the hon. member has brought forward are not entirely correct.

The member talks about a lot of things in his speech. The debate right now is on the amendment, which is to postpone a vote on this bill for another six months. I find this amendment to be totally intolerable and unacceptable. I think Canadians who are watching us today also find this intolerable.

Canadians find it intolerable that the Bloc and the Reform are colluding on this and are falling prey to a lobbying effort by an American multinational firm. If we are going to stand up for Canada, if we are going to stand up for the health of Canadians, if we are going to stand up for a clean environment for Canadians, we are not going to pander to the desires and needs of an American multinational. I say shame to them.

I would point out in reference to the concerns the member opposite has raised, that the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment task force, which represents ministers from all the provinces in Canada, in its report on cleaner vehicles and fuels recognizes that fuels and emissions control technology should be treated as an integrated system to reduce motor vehicle emissions. The ministers have further agreed to require that cleaner fuels be mandated for use in all motor vehicles. The MMT initiative is fully consistent with this approach.

I was in committee and there were witnesses from Ethyl Corporation. I asked the witness from Ethyl: Whose responsibility is it to ensure that we reduce unacceptable emissions? Is it the public? Is it the government? Is it the automotive industry? Is it the refinery? His answer to me was that all those other people had a responsibility but that the refineries and the producers of MMT had no responsibility. I think Canadians would find that absolutely unacceptable. The arguments that are put forward by both the Bloc and Reform support unacceptable arguments.

The hon. member from my side of the House who has a little bit of sense around this issue, I would suggest a lot of sense around this issue-

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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LIB
LIB

Karen Kraft Sloan

Liberal

Mrs. Kraft Sloan

He is a Liberal. Absolutely

The hon. member asked a question of the member opposite, why would all of these automotive manufacturers put forward a situation where MMT is bad for their onboard diagnostic systems? We are talking about over 20 automotive manufacturers that are in competition with each other. They have spent millions of dollars conducting scientific tests. Why would they spend this money in a fiercely competitive market if they were not going after the truth?

I want to add a few more truths about Bill C-29 to refute some of the untruths coming from the other side. The truth is that MMT impairs emission control equipment. If you want information on the formulation of fuel you should consult a refinery expert. If you want to understand the impact of that fuel on a vehicle you need to talk to the engineers and scientists who design and test vehicles.

Everyone agrees that more than 80 per cent of the manganese that is added to gasoline stays in the automobile's engine and emissions control system. Guess what happens when it stays there? It gums up the works. It makes those systems inoperable. When those systems do not operate it makes it impossible to monitor all of the other emissions from that automobile.

The member opposite in his speech spoke of the cost to consumers. Taking MMT out of gasoline will result in a $5 cost to the consumer for a year versus thousands and thousands of dollars of cost to their automobile. That is why the Canadian Automobile Association, which is the largest consumer group for the automobile drivers in Canada, is right behind this bill.

Another truth is that if MMT was really as great as the corporation that produces it claims for vehicle performance and emission control, it would have been embraced by the automotive manufacturers in jurisdictions like California as part of their emission control standard. MMT is banned in California. If anyone in the House has been to California you know the kinds of problems it has with smog.

The organizations that have been held accountable for achieving measures for emissions reductions have worked with leading academics, scientists and engineers around the world to find a way to reduce the pollution from vehicles. No jurisdiction or corporation has found MMT to be part of the solution.

The truth is that Canada is the only jurisdiction in the developed world in which MMT is used on a national basis. In spite of the recent narrow technical decision of a U.S. court that forced the Environmental Protection Agency to grant Ethyl a waiver, MMT is still prohibited for use in over one-third of the U.S. states. A number of refineries do not allow MMT as part of their reformulation program.

There is another truth which I would like to use to debunk opinions expressed by members of the House. The Government of Canada has the authority under NAFTA to pass legislation like Bill C-29. I guess the members opposite are running like scared little chickens, afraid of this giant American multinational company. They are afraid to promote their sovereignty. I find it very interesting when we hear a lot of debate about sovereignty in this House.

NAFTA has a safeguard that allows us to protect human, animal or plant life and health. This safeguard was enshrined in NAFTA to allow the federal government the ability to protect the environment and the health of Canadians without fear of having these efforts blocked by frivolous trade actions like the one recently announced.

I have another truth. It is that the U.S. wants to ban MMT as badly as Canada. The proposed challenge being brought by the corporation is a private challenge against Bill C-29. This is a clear signal that its position is not supported by the American government. The American government has not hestitated to launch complaints under NAFTA in the past but in this case the U.S. EPA has taken a leadership role, which is what the Government of Canada is doing in opposing the use of this fuel additive.

Carol Browner who is the head of the EPA in the United States said earlier this year, and I would like to say this loudly, clearly and perhaps slowly so that it might sink into the member's opposite, that the EPA, believes that the American public should not be used as a laboratory to test the safety of MMT.

I applaud the efforts of the government which makes a similar stand. Canadians will not be a testing ground for MMT. Would you like me to repeat that? Canadians will not be-

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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?

The Deputy Speaker

I ask the hon. member to please sit down. I appreciate the hon. member is not the only one who does this but the hon. member will please not have a you and I discussion across the floor. I ask that she please address all of her remarks to the Chair.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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LIB

Karen Kraft Sloan

Liberal

Mrs. Kraft Sloan

Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is just that I have such an incredible passion about this particular issue and I have such a lack of understanding why the opposite side is not getting it.

Health Canada confirmed in July 1996 that it fully supports the proposed ban on MMT. A ban on MMT is also supported by the public health departments of the cities of Toronto and North York. These and other communities are all too familiar with the health problems associated with poor air quality and are anxious to see MMT banned. Very little is known about the long term health effects of chronic low level exposure to manganese compounds that are formed when MMT is used as an additive in gasoline.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, the suggestion that we are caving in to one lobby group is totally absurd. When we look at the equation, who is standing on the side of the public interest? On one side are the Bloc and the Reform that have caved in to the lobbying efforts of a single American multinational which I might add fought against the removal of lead in gasoline.

On the other side, the side that is speaking for the public interest, for the health of Canadians, for the environmental protection of Canadians are organizations like the Allergy Asthma Information Association, the Canadian Automobile Association, which is the largest consumer group for Canadians automobile drivers, the Canadian Institute of Child Health, the Council of Canadians, the Environmental Defence Fund, the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, the Ontario Public Health Association, Pollution Probe and the Sierra Club of Canada.

I believe I have made my case very clearly and I look forward to a quick resolution of the amendment and the bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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REF

Philip Mayfield

Reform

Mr. Philip Mayfield (Cariboo-Chilcotin, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, as I listen to the comments on MMT it occurs to me that just about the time the Liberals are getting around to banning it, the United States lifted the ban about a year ago. I wonder why the Liberals are trying to play catch-up on this now.

A consequence of eliminating MMT as an additive is a 20 per cent increase in nitrous oxide emissions, which is the smog we are trying to avoid in our cities. What the member said does not make a lot of sense. I wonder what her comment would be in the light of these two facts.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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LIB

Karen Kraft Sloan

Liberal

Mrs. Kraft Sloan

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member had the misfortune not to hear my speech. I will endeavour to speak a little more slowly.

With respect to the member's first question, in my speech I clearly stated that the case which went before the U.S. Supreme Court was lost on technical grounds. The EPA is going ahead. I also said that Carol Browner, who is head of the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States, said that the American public should not be used as a laboratory to test the safety of MMT. I further said that California, along with 16 other U.S. states, has banned MMT. Most of the refineries in the United States are not using MMT. They refuse to use MMT.

With respect to the final question of the hon. member opposite, the information that he has relayed to the House comes from a study undertaken by the corporation responsible for the production of MMT and, might I add, the only corporation in the entire world which produces MMT. This information came from the study. This was a study which the University of Waterloo, an internationally renowned institution, debunked.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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LIB

Murray Calder

Liberal

Mr. Murray Calder (Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I want ask a question of the parliamentary secretary. The member from the third party spoke about nitrous oxide, manganese oxide, et cetera. There is another additive that we could put into gasoline. It is called alcohol. When alcohol is put together with gasoline it is called ethanol. We are not putting a refinery out of business. It could mix that too.

In Ontario we will create a new domestic market for corn producers, consisting of 15 million bushels, with the ethanol plant which will come on line next year. Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions can be lowered. The problem of the onboard diagnostic sensors which the automotive dealers are worried about can be solved. More than that, there is a byproduct of this. It is called brewer's grain. Brewer's grain has had enzymes which have acted upon it. It is highly digestible. It can be fed to cattle, dairy cows and pigs. There is a byproduct from it called fertilizer. Some of the amendments the third party is talking about reflect the byproduct that comes from bulls. That can go into the ground. Crops can be raised from that. There is absolutely no pollution from it at all. It is totally green biomass. I would like the parliamentary secretary to comment on that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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LIB

Karen Kraft Sloan

Liberal

Mrs. Kraft Sloan

Mr. Speaker, as always, my hon. colleague has an interesting way of addressing some very complex problems.

One of the things that has been raised in this House, especially by members opposite, is that this will only help the Ontario corn industry. I would suggest that not only ethanol can be used as a replacement for MMT. There are many other substances.

The members from the Bloc forget that there is an ethanol producing organization in Quebec which manufacturers ethanol from wood products.

There are many different opportunities. There are refinery operations in the province of Alberta, the province that many Reform members come from.

When we are talking about banning MMT and replacing it, we are talking about a variety of substances being used in ways that all parts of this country can benefit instead of giving all of the money to an American firm.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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?

An hon. member

It is good for health.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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LIB

Karen Kraft Sloan

Liberal

Mrs. Kraft Sloan

It is good for health.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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?

The Deputy Speaker

Resuming debate, with apologies to the member for Mississauga South, unless there is unanimous consent to extend the time.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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REF

Dave Chatters

Reform

Mr. Chatters

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have been scheduled to speak on this issue for some time now. I was kind enough to give my space in the order to a Bloc member who had to

catch a plane. I would appreciate some time to speak on this issue before the time expires.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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?

The Deputy Speaker

Accordingly, there is not unanimous consent to extend the time of the parliamentary secretary.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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NDP

Svend Robinson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Robinson

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want some clarification from the Chair as to the extension of time. Private Members' Business is set for 5.30 p.m. and certainly we have no difficulty at all in extending it briefly but obviously we do want to get on with the motion.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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?

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member. The time has been extended because of a ministerial statement to 5.42 p.m.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
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October 10, 1996