Mr. Roger Gallaway (Sarnia—Lambton, Lib.)
Madam Speaker, on October 29, I raised the question where do we sit as government with respect to a bill passed in the last Parliament known as the MMT bill, Bill C-29 or Bill C-94.
Members and people watching should know that this legislation came forward in the last Parliament for various stated reasons. The first time it came in, the government said it wanted to have a uniform blend of gasoline. To do that it had to remove MMT from Canadian gasoline because it did not exist in the United States. But the government knew or ought to have known that the American Environmental Protection Agency was about to license it and indeed it did.
Instead of pulling the bill at the time, the government proceeded to change its rationale. Instead of saying it was for a uniform blend of gasoline, it said it wanted to examine this as a public safety matter. But this was not case. It was not a health matter because Health Canada at that time was issuing statements saying there were no known health risks with MMT. It could not find any risks and would give a published statement to that effect.
The government on one hand was saying that public safety was the reason, and that is a very laudable and noble objective. But if I were to follow the rationale of the environment department, then I am sure there are a lot of other products we could outlaw, such as bacon or donuts, because they too are allegedly bad for your health.
In the end the bill passed the Commons. It forbids the importation of MMT. It is interesting to note that the environment department proposed a bill that is a trade bill. It is a bill that bans the importation of a product. The manufacturer of that product, Ethyl Corporation, now has the Government of Canada before a NAFTA trade tribunal.
What is the outcome likely to be? There are two possible outcomes. How is it going to affect Canadians? The answers are clear. If we loose this challenge under the NAFTA, we are going to pay $201 million U.S. or we are going to have to revoke the law. Second, if we win the NAFTA trade challenge, Canadians are going to pay more for gasoline at the pumps.
I ask members here, in particular the parliamentary secretary, and those watching, who is going to pay? Canadians can pay at the gas pumps or Canadians can pay through their taxes.
I would ask that the next time parliamentarians want to talk about the price of gasoline they tell Canadians that, with respect to the increase in the price of gasoline, they contributed to the problem. I think this is the least that those who supported this bill can do for Canadians.
Subtopic: Criminal Code