April 3, 2000

NDP

Peter Stoffer

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Stoffer

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I will be speaking in lieu of my colleague from Churchill River.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Permalink
?

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is there unanimous consent of the House for the hon. member to speak in lieu of the member for Churchill River?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Permalink
NDP

Peter Stoffer

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Stoffer (for Mr. Rick Laliberte)

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should provide initiatives to deliver natural gas to unserviced regions and address environmental concerns and high energy costs.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of my colleague, the member for Churchill River, Saskatchewan on his Motion No. 298. The motion states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should provide initiatives to deliver natural gas to unserviced regions and address environmental concerns and high energy costs.

Debate on this important motion began on June 4, 1999 in the first session of the 36th parliament. At that time the motion was called Motion No. 292. My colleague from Churchill River outlined the need for a national vision in relation to natural gas distribution. He provided the House with examples of the social and economic benefits natural gas distribution could bring to unserviced regions.

Canada is blessed with tremendous natural gas resources. Canada is the world's third largest producer, and this resource sector is growing exponentially. Fueling this growth in royalty revenues is the United States demand, which some day may place our Canadian domestic needs at risk.

My NDP colleague from Winnipeg Centre described, during his debate on the motion, that gas discoveries were once considered a curse while drilling for oil. How quickly our resource priorities change. He outlined the opportunities natural gas conversion could bring into building retrofits, both in energy savings and through employment.

The federal government has approximately 50,000 properties and less than 100 have completed energy efficiency conversions since the Liberal government began mismanaging energy efficiency efforts in 1993. Indeed, the House agreed with the NDP member for Winnipeg Centre on his energy efficiency motion, Motion No. 300. That motion also called on the federal government to take action to tackle energy inefficiency.

The first hour of debate on Motion No. 298 included comments by the Reform Party speaker, the member for Athabasca, who supported the principle of natural gas distribution, but did not support this motion because it would bring federal interference into an area of provincial jurisdiction. The NDP agrees that the provinces and territories should have a say over the natural resources within their respective borders, but does not propose federal intrusion. Nor does it propose that a direct distribution subsidy would be the answer.

For the clarification of the House, the motion is intended to provide incentives to deliver natural gas to regions without service.

The member for Athabasca described Alberta's efforts for natural gas distribution which began in the 1960s. This successful Alberta program, based on community input and co-operative templates, could perhaps serve as a template for federal participation if and when a private or a crown interest expressed the wish to take up the federal government in an initiative opportunity.

The Liberal members who have spoken to date on Motion No. 298 have retreated to an outdated and embarrassing ideological megaproject defence. The federal government is out of the megaproject business, as Liberal members have stated.

The NDP proposed a national vision, not a chequebook reference, which appears to be the Liberal policy these days.

We are not proposing to sponsor every pipeline or branch line so that every home would be linked to this cleaner energy source. We are asking the House to recognize that there are unserviced regions in the country, pockets of inefficiency and high energy costs. We are asking that the House recognize these disparities of the have and have not communities and to act, to agree that improved distribution opportunities would be a benefit to the entire country.

The Progressive Conservative member for South Shore spoke in support of this motion, citing Canada's faltering commitment to the Kyoto protocol to address climate change and greenhouse gases.

Emissions continue to rise while the Liberal government hides from its responsibility to provide leadership and direction to ensure a cleaner environment and reduced energy costs for future generations. The NDP agrees that not enough is being done by the Liberal government to meet our international obligations to reverse the damage to our atmosphere which all nations and people share. The recent budget will provide for further studies and some immediate action, but falls short of the current opportunities we could be implementing.

As the finance minister stated in February in reference to infrastructure priorities for the new century, the issue will be studied and a proposed vision for Canada will be finished at year end. If the finance minister and his cabinet colleagues are committed to a national infrastructure vision for Canada, the principles of sustainability and a cleaner environment should be a guiding principle.

The supposed Liberal government commitment to rural and regional development, to level playing fields for all Canadians across this great country, requires access to clean and efficient fuel sources.

The type and availability of energy sources is a key component for business siting decisions. Where natural gas is distributed, added economic opportunities follow. Canada's raw resources are often transported hundreds of kilometres for basic processing, limiting local economic opportunities and value-added economic growth.

Quebec and New Brunswick recently addressed natural gas distribution in the region in February.

Nova Scotia has just started with the offshore Sable Island gas project, which is going great guns. The problem is that all of that gas is being distributed to the New England states. It flows right by Nova Scotia, right through New Brunswick and into the United States. I have a bit of a problem with that, although it did provide economic growth for our province and provided many jobs in that area. We could have done much better and followed other examples around the world. Gas could have been distributed in Nova Scotia as well. Eventually those trunk lines will come to Nova Scotia, but at a much slower pace.

Businesses and enterprises in the New England states will be starting up their manufacturing plants with natural gas, which is much cheaper than the coal we use at this time and other energy sources like diesel and oil. They will be competing head-on with companies in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. Those companies in the New England states will have the advantage of operating with lower fuel costs than our companies. We will be at a disadvantage for many years, until we have an equal playing field for natural gas distribution.

I could not allow a debate on natural gas to go by without mentioning the concerns of the fishermen on our shore waters, especially in the gulf area. What we have asked for, prior to any exploration for natural gas, is that a full independent environmental assessment be done on the effects of drilling or seismic work in the waters or on the land to ascertain whether indeed the proposals would be met and that they would take the environment into consideration first, prior to any exploration, so that the distribution of the gas would do three things.

First, it would protect the surrounding environment where they have proposed to drill. Second, it would respect the original users of that land, whether fishermen, farmers or those involved in forestry. Third, it would provide our companies in Canada with the opportunity to obtain a cheaper or more cost effective fuel resource so that they could compete head-on with the international markets which are now operating on our own fuel bases.

There are pipelines proposed in the Mackenzie Valley, to the far north and in other places. Those lines are all headed south. The motion put forward by my hon. friend from Churchill River, Saskatchewan suggests that some of those lines should go east and west so that we could provide our businesses which are located in regions where they do not have opportunities for cheaper fuel the opportunity to compete with their southern neighbours. Fuel costs are some of the highest costs which those businesses must incur.

The oil and gas industry described the current rate of natural gas expansion as a golden era. The NDP agrees, as long as Canada's strategic interests and its citizens are of priority interest. What we are basically saying is that we should think of Canada first and export markets after, very closely of course, but we need to be able to look after our citizens and businesses in order to compete in the global economy.

At issue is what is making us sick. Why are health care costs continuing to skyrocket? Environmental factors in human health are no longer denied. Southern Ontarians only need to experience several weeks of smog and deteriorating air quality to agree.

A national initiative to expedite cleaner fuel sources, co-generation or mixed fuel efficiency could only help in each instance to improve air quality. Natural gas reduces greenhouse emissions. There are less particulate byproducts from natural gas fuel sources.

A national vision to provide initiative opportunities, not just to intrude on jurisdictions, is the basis for Motion No. 298. National perspective and true leadership are not bad things. A national vision gave birth to medicare and the five principles of health care, and provided the incentive for the great railway and the linking of Canadian communities and schools to the information technology sector and the Internet.

A similar effort is needed to begin concrete steps toward a more energy efficient and cleaner environment for future generations. I urge all of my colleagues to support Motion No. 298.

It is true that this country had vision in the railway. Now we have it in trying to link up all of the communities across this country, especially in rural ridings and outlying areas of Canada through the Internet, through what are called CAP sites.

We have health care in this country. The Liberals and some other opposition parties would like to see it go away and turn it into a two tiered system, but the fact is that we had a national vision for health care. This basically meant that from one end of the country to the other, from sea to sea to sea, citizens would be under the same sort of access to health care. Now it is being done for the Internet, as it was done for the railroad.

We should do the same thing for energy efficient initiatives. People in northern Saskatchewan should have the same access to fuel resources as in southern Ontario or Vancouver or in parts of Alberta.

I have full confidence that this motion will be given a sweeping endorsement by everyone once they have debated it and understand the true effects of it. On behalf of all those communities in the outlying regions of Canada, in most cases where the resource itself comes from, I am sure that members of the House, under careful reflection, would support this motion and move on to greater and bigger things.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Natural Gas
Permalink
LIB

Brent St. Denis

Liberal

Mr. Brent St. Denis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to address the motion put forward by the hon. member for Churchill River, so eloquently presented by his colleague this morning.

The member is proposing that the federal government subsidize natural gas expansion projects for remote communities as a way of reducing the cost of living for residents and achieving environmental benefits.

The hon. member should be thanked for his interest in this very valuable natural resource. Natural gas is a clean burning, efficient, cost effective fuel, which is why it has become one of Canada's number one natural resources.

Canada also has an abundant supply, with an estimated available total of between 559 trillion to 630 trillion cubic feet. It is the stated objective of our government to make Canada the world's smartest natural resources' steward, developer, user and exporter. In fact to become the world's smartest resource developer means, in part, adopting a considered, practical, market oriented approach that balances the needs of all interests. It is this type of approach that is behind the natural gas success story. It is a thriving, competitive industry that has followed a course of continuous growth.

In the mid-1980s the crude oil and natural gas markets in Canada were deregulated. For the Canadian natural gas industry this resulted in lower natural gas prices and a surge in natural gas activity.

Since then natural gas production, along with the associated transmission and distribution infrastructure, has increased at a healthy and in some cases dramatic pace. Expansions to Canada's natural gas infrastructure, whether of a local or international dimension, have been governed by a combination of economic opportunity, economic viability and technology development.

This is one reason we have difficulty in supporting the hon. member's motion. It is the government's current energy policy not to fund megaprojects, but to leave it to the competitive market to decide what goes forward and what does not. This policy has not resulted in a stalled natural gas industry. Far from it. The result has been some very exciting private sector driven developments, including the expansion of natural gas distribution and production into new, previously unserviced regions.

Consider the Sable offshore energy project to which the member referred. In late 1999 the natural gas resources from the Nova Scotia offshore began to flow. Sable natural gas was first discovered in the 1960s, but it has never been economically viable for production until now. Thanks to new drilling and production technology and new alliances between oil companies and engineering and construction contractors, the onshore Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline will make natural gas available in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for the first time.

I am pleased that New Brunswick and Quebec are working together to extend the Sable natural gas pipeline system to northern New Brunswick and eastern Quebec as well. On February 28, 2000 the premier of New Brunswick and the premier of Quebec signed an MOU to work together in creating a favourable environment to develop an interconnection between the existing pipelines in their provinces.

Both premiers have stated very clearly that this project must proceed on a commercial basis and recognize that successful pipeline projects must be built on sound economic footings. I welcome their efforts and wish them success in assembling the necessary market support to move this project forward.

The building of laterals within a province, such as the hon. member is suggesting, falls under the jurisdiction of provincial governments; in the member for Churchill River's case, the Province of Saskatchewan. In these cases, expanding the distribution system is the responsibility of provincially regulated local distribution utilities. For example, in late 1999 TransGas of Saskatchewan completed a $6 million expansion to four rural communities north of Prince Albert.

Provincial regulators set financial tests for new projects. Where a project cannot generate enough revenue to justify its capital cost, the local distribution company will ask potential gas consumers to make financial contributions, known as grants in aid of construction, which will bring the project to the point of economic viability. If converting to natural gas offers an opportunity for reduced fuel bills, consumers can use a portion of their savings to finance the cost of conversion.

The most recently available data indicates that there were an average of 125,000 new residential natural gas hookups per year in Canada from 1995 to 1997. Of these customer additions, roughly 70,000 per year resulted from new construction and 55,000 were conversions from other energy sources. What this means is that fully 48% of Canadian homes are now gas heated on a normal commercial market driven supply system.

From an energy policy point of view it would not be sensible to depart from the basic principle that project economics will decide where laterals can be built.

Let me assure the House that the Government of Canada is also very sensitive to the fact that many rural and remote communities face high cost energy and general environmental sensitivity. That is why the Department of Natural Resources has specifically designed alternative and renewable energy programs as well as energy efficiency and conservation programs that will help these communities meet their energy needs and lower their cost of living as well as to receive environmental benefits.

Pursuing these initiatives is the most workable, economically viable and environmentally friendly way of meeting the needs of rural and remote areas. Adapting these new technologies could bring these communities savings of $200 million per year, not to mention significant environmental benefits.

For example, some communities are totally dependent upon fuel oil that is shipped in at great expense. There are new technology programs in the energy sector of NRCan that focus on developing alternative and renewable sources of supply, including bioenergy, small hydro, wind, photovoltaic and active solar energy.

In addition to these technology initiatives the department has developed tools to help communities analyze what kind of supply source would be reasonable and what they need to do to pursue it. Another initiative is the development of community energy systems to improve energy efficiency and to allow better use of waste heat. Under this approach energy use is reduced by integrating conventional energy supply, renewable energy sources, energy demands of the building, transportation and industrial sectors, and the use of waste heat.

The Minister of Natural Resources is also taking the lead by working to increase energy efficiency of buildings. Let us consider this example. In this year's federal budget the Minister of Finance announced that two funds with a total of $125 million would be created to support investment in green municipal infrastructure including projects to improve the energy efficiency of municipal buildings. It is important to develop the technology but people need to know about it.

Through ongoing information programs and sources the department is working to get the word out to rural and remote communities about alternative and energy efficiency technologies. Another initiative is the establishment of technical training and certification programs to help develop local expertise, which contributes to increased self-sufficiency.

One exciting dimension of the work in alternative power and energy efficiency is its global market potential. An estimated two billion people in the developing world do not have access to reliable energy supplies. The world market for Canadian know-how and technology is substantial. In addition, if Canada becomes the leading exporter of greenhouse gas technology, this country will be directly contributing to preventing climate change.

Canada's capacity to develop climate change mitigation technologies is already proven and it is growing. It is part and parcel of the overarching objective of the Minister of Natural Resources to establish Canada as the world's smartest resources developer. This means continuing to develop alternative and renewable energy sources and pushing ahead with more energy conservation and energy programs.

These initiatives are the best options for delivering a lower cost of living and environmental benefits to rural and remote communities. They are the wave of the future for rural and remote areas and for all of Canada.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Natural Gas
Permalink
REF

Roy H. Bailey

Reform

Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Canadian Alliance)

Madam Speaker, undoubtedly the member who represents Churchill River, Saskatchewan, had good reasons for bringing this private member's motion to the floor of the House. I appreciate what his colleague had to say as well.

There is one advantage of being a little older. I remember very well, having lived in what is a remote area, the first time the power came to my farm. I got rid of the old 32 volt wind charger and carrying batteries out of the basement. It also gave me a great thrill when I watched the natural gas pipeline coming in. When I heard the member speak, it crossed my mind that the natural gas pipeline was laid at a speed of about three miles an hour.

My colleague in his motion is referring to unserviced regions. I was busy last summer watching a gas line come in from a little place called Beulah, North Dakota, right beside Bismarck. They were coming north into the oil fields in my constituency. It was taking carbon dioxide gas and under pressure making it a liquid. There was co-operation between two companies and two countries.

A little story about that really angered me this summer. The contract to lay the pipe from south of the 49th parallel to the Weyburn oil fields came to a standstill because of government regulations.

There were piles of steel pipe, grey in colour. I do not know why they were 52 feet long and only 12 inches in diameter, but the laying of pipe was stopped at the border. There was no further development. The reason was that on each pipe 51 feet by 12 inches was indicated. The National Energy Board said, even though it was going four feet below ground, that had to be changed into metric. Steel stencils had to be made and each pipe had to be resprayed before it went into the ground.

I tell the House this story because the member for Churchill should realize what would have to take place. I am assuming he is intending to go north into Saskatchewan, and indeed there would be a number of problems. If it was going north it would require industry input. Otherwise the cost to go through rocky terrain would be almost prohibitive.

I do not know of any place where a natural gas pipeline could be installed above ground. I am not sure if that is possible. However I do know in Alberta, which has 276,000 kilometres of natural gas pipeline, that almost half of it is faulty. Can we imagine what it would be like and the cost to do so? I am not saying it would be impossible.

We have to look at going into the north in another way. With the cost of land acquisition and the environment protection which the north wants and deserves, I am not sure whether it is totally possible. This looks good on paper. It sounds like it is easy to accomplish. If we asked the federal government to sponsor it, what would we do? Would we go back to the provinces where the utilities remain with them?

Saskatchewan Energy in my province committed $50 million in 1999 to the expansion of natural gas pipelines. That is a lot of money for me but not a lot of money when it comes to laying pipelines. It is not a lot of money when it is necessary to go under a body of water, cross several highways and other obstacles.

I want members to imagine 50 miles of solid rock and how deep it would have to be. Natural gas is something like propane. It can freeze even in tanks that heat homes. Saskatchewan provided its school buses with propane gas. It has since taken it out because too many buses would not start at -40°. We would have to make sure there was some way. It would be extremely expensive.

The revenues of Saskatchewan Energy in 1998 were $367 million and it made a 10% profit without municipal help, without industry help and without individual help. It had all these things going on without environment approval. The bill sounds very good, but without all these other things being in place it would not work out. Saskatchewan Energy is having difficulties in that it had to stop its own program of delivering natural gas to farms because $50 million would not take up the new customers.

For this reason and many others I cannot support the motion. I support the intent and I would support a study, but I cannot support the government becoming involved in a massive project such as this one. We are not ready for it. I do not think the groundwork has been done. For those reasons, and with all due respect to my colleague from Churchill River, I simply cannot support the private member's motion.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Natural Gas
Permalink
BQ

Ghislain Lebel

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly, BQ)

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Motion No. 298, presented by the member of the NDP.

This motion affords us an opportunity to look at our energy supply programs and forces us to reflect on how energy is being supplied to Canadians, instead of focusing on exports and on imagining ourselves as leading exporters of natural gas. The NDP motion makes us reflect on what should be done here before getting the idea that we are leading exporters of natural gas outside Canada, to just about everywhere else, as the Liberal member has just said.

Canada's natural gas reserves are immense. They are beyond anyone's imagination. We are talking 500 to 600 trillion cubic metres. Even someone with the most fertile imagination possible cannot imagine what a volume of 500 to 600 trillion cubic metres would be like. But it does exist.

The NDP's motion comes at an opportune time, as gas prices are at an all-time high, and some countries are being virtually strangled by the oil producing countries. This is an important factor in the issue. I cannot fault the oil exporting countries for setting prices and export quotas, but why should we not defend our interests as they do theirs? There is nothing wrong with that.

Considering that we are talking about 500 to 600 trillion cubic metres of gas in Canada and considering the return on the investment—today it would not be profitable, but in the case of future generations and, perhaps, given a certain kind of blackmail that will become more prevalent from year to year or decade to decade because fossil fuel sources are constantly diminishing and the more we burn the less there is left—we must find the alternatives sources that are out there.

Of course, the basic price, the cost of a cubic metre of natural gas must be taken into account, but there are other considerations including those relating to the environment and to the usefulness of the product. In light of global warming and of what was decided in Rio in the early nineties, that is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, would the proposal made by the NDP member not be a step in that direction?

Of course, the cost of extending the natural gas distribution network all over Canada now would be astronomical. However, we must begin to think about these options now, because in 25, 50 or 75 years we will no longer be here, but future generations of Canadians will be at the mercy of countries that may still have oil, but in such reduced quantities that costs will be exorbitant, making that oil inaccessible for countries that are far from the Middle East, such as Canada.

This aspect of the member's proposal is very interesting, and I think the government should look into this question immediately, strike a committee in the House, perhaps even a joint committee with the Senate, call expert witnesses and look at the real issues. That is not what the government does. It reacts to a given situation, but advances nothing. I am not the one saying this. It was Senator Lynch-Staunton who said it in a speech he gave recently, on March 22 or 28, before the Canadian Club.

He said “Our governments react. They take no initiative, they propose nothing. They do not enter into discussion”. This food for thought was provided by a member of a party that is in a considerable minority here in this House.

Governments cannot just watch the train go by. They have to anticipate its passage. They have to be open to the future, stop thinking about what interests them right now without giving a thought to future generations.

It is not surprising that, for example, the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of the New Democratic Party's proposal. In a sovereign Quebec, as it very soon will be I believe, some things will not change. The St. Lawrence will continue to flow from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic, even after Quebec secedes. Ships will continue to travel it. The prevailing winds will continue to blow in the same direction.

Quebec is well intentioned. In partnership agreements, in agreements signed after Quebec becomes sovereign, the distribution networks, if there are any, like the one covered by the agreement signed last week between New Brunswick and Quebec, will continue to exist and to be recognized by a sovereign Quebec, as by a Quebec within Canada. The fact of being within Canada at the moment does not strengthen Quebecers' desire to assume their fair share of the costs of just about everything.

In the case before us, there will certainly be international agreements, because Quebec will be a nation by then, a recognized people, a state. There will be international agreements. If the Canadian government were to decide right now to take this sort of step, if it were to decide to look a bit further than the end of its nose and give some thought to North America's future from an energy angle, perhaps it would not hesitate to do some studies, take action, create incentives.

We in the Bloc Quebecois are in agreement. The NDP's suggestion is an excellent one. The government is not being asked to provide subsidies or assistance to companies responsible for extending or maintaining the existing network. At least there would be tax breaks, such as loan guarantees or some sort of commitments to serve heavily dependent communities.

My area, Chambly, is not particularly remote, but I have seen young single mothers faced with an unexpected increase in the price of heating oil. The direct result was that one, two or three children in a household were deprived of things as essential to their existence as food, because the price of heating oil doubled overnight. I have seen this. People I know well, some of my party workers, came and told me. They thought it was terrible, but it was something that happened.

The government has done nothing about this. It has begun to say that it would reduce its tax on a litre of gas if the provinces followed suit. This is a very petty attitude because we know that the provinces need these revenues in order to help people like those in my example who are devastated by a sudden increase in energy costs and who are unable to count on help from the federal government.

Therefore, I think that members of the Bloc Quebecois and I will support the proposal of the NDP member in principle.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Natural Gas
Permalink
PC

Bill Casey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC)

Madam Speaker, it certainly is a pleasure to speak about this subject. The hon. member's timing in moving this motion is appropriate considering all the things we have recently gone through with the fluctuating gas prices.

People on fixed incomes have had to make choices between food and heat. Governments seem to have their hands tied. They have been unable to address any facet of this issue nor have they had any input or impact on the high prices of fuel, heating and operating businesses.

The proposal in this motion is very timely and we in the Conservative Party certainly support it. In fact recently the Conservative government in Nova Scotia felt it was necessary to provide low income people with assistance so they could afford heating oil by providing them with a certain amount of money each month to deal with the increased price of oil. Many people on fixed on incomes have no extra money. They cannot afford to pay an extra $100 or $200 a month for heat because they have no other source of income.

Distributing natural gas to every place in Nova Scotia and elsewhere in Canada would take the pressure off. It would take the dependence on foreign oil and oil supplies away from the oil and energy business. Obviously there are a lot of advantages in doing this for consumers who live in rural Canada.

In Nova Scotia there is a movement under way and the system is already in place to distribute gas to the main population centres first. Then it will go on to the smaller centres, and so on, until it gets to the point where it will no longer be viable for the gas distribution companies to go that extra mile. In effect people in small communities such as Tatamagouche or Advocate in my riding will pay a fine or a penalty for living away from an area where natural gas is provided.

In my mind it is not fair that only some people can heat their homes with a clean, low cost, energy supply that is local, independent and not subject to international fluctuations of money and policy by countries on another continent. With natural gas that comes from a Canadian source, we will have some control over that and will be able to eliminate the fluctuations in prices, delivery and sustainability. However it is not fair to say that residents in some parts of Nova Scotia will be treated differently from others. We certainly support the motion.

I can think of industries located in small communities in my riding that will not be able to compete unless they have access to natural gas if the major centres in Nova Scotia have natural gas. The major and small centres in New England have natural gas. More and more the northeastern United States is our competition. If others have access to our natural gas while companies in areas like Parrsboro, Pugwash, Tatamagouche and Stewiacke do not have access to natural gas, those companies are not going to be able to compete with companies that have access to natural gas.

Again, it impacts on the standard of living and sustainability of businesses in the small communities. It impacts on employment. It means zero growth. People will not invest in areas where natural gas is not available if they can locate just a few miles further a factory or facility in an area that has access to natural gas.

It is more than just the economic issue here. It is the standard of living. It is the way of life. It is the culture. It is the ability to raise a family in small communities and stay there. Therefore we support this motion.

It is incredible that natural gas exports to other countries are increasing when there are people in our own country who do not have access to natural gas. We are sending more and more to other countries, and obviously the United States, when this gas could be made available to our own residents.

Again it is not only to provide low cost fuel but it is to provide a stability in fuel costs. As I said, many people are on fixed incomes and cannot afford the incredible fluctuations we have seen over the last few months. Depending on our own supplies and controlling our own supplies within the country will eliminate these horrible fluctuations.

There has been a great debate in the House and speculation about what the government may do. We have seen it go one way and then the other. First the government said it would not help with the fluctuations in the energy costs then it said, maybe it would, maybe it would not. It could do away with all that if everyone in the country had access to natural gas.

More and more in eastern Canada, because of the free trade agreements and because of reductions in subsidies for transportation of goods from central Canada to Atlantic Canada, we are looking north and south. We are looking to our neighbours in the northeastern United States as our competition, as our suppliers and as our customers. We have to be able to compete on a level playing field with them. If we are pumping our national gas to them and providing their industries and consumers with our natural gas, then we have to have access to it as well. It only makes sense.

There is another benefit of this proposal. There is a huge correctional facility in the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia which is in my riding. Its energy costs are enormous. It could use natural gas to offset those energy costs. It could use it in combination with the local geothermal energy in Springhill and reduce the energy costs dramatically. Again, if the natural gas is only delivered to the major centres, Springhill will not be on that list for a long time.

An initiative such as the one proposed today would provide some help in making sure that Springhill gets natural gas in a timely fashion. The industries there, the government agencies and the government buildings and facilities would also benefit. That again would save taxpayers. Perhaps the initiatives would cost money but there would also be huge savings and it would remove the instability.

Springhill is unique in that it has an enormous amount of geothermal energy. There were several deep coal mines in Springhill. Those coal mines are now filled with hot water. The coal mines are sealed off but they can be drilled into and the hot water accessed. It is geothermal energy. Virtually it can provide free heat in certain circumstances just for the cost of circulating the water. There is no energy cost as far as increasing the temperature of the water or any other energy costs, except to circulate the hot water.

That in combination with the natural gas would create a lot of low cost energy for that town. It would help economic development. It would help to attract investment, help to provide incentives for people and would cost nothing to the government. It would definitely bring jobs to that area.

We have just gone through this urgent situation this morning. On the way to the airport I checked the price of gas. Gas is down five cents a litre this morning from what it was on Friday. That is a tremendous fluctuation but it could go up again tomorrow the same as it went down yesterday. That instability is extremely difficult for people to handle.

If we are going to provide low cost energy to certain parts of the country it is completely unfair to say some communities are going to be able operate at much less cost for energy and much lower overhead than other communities and businesses that cannot. They cannot compete. Those residents are going to have to pay higher energy costs. Small communities like Advocate, River Hebert, Joggins, Nappan and Northport in my riding will not get natural gas without the initiative that has been proposed by the NDP.

Completely aside from the economic issues are our Kyoto commitments. There are deadlines we have to meet on environmental standards. Projections are that instead of improving we are getting worse. Natural gas delivered to all communities in our country would help address those concerns. The last statistic I saw indicated that we will miss our target by 26%. In fact, we are already going the wrong way, which is an incredible problem for our country. We will now have to reverse our direction even more than before to catch up.

On the weekend I noticed that the auto industry is developing hybrid cars, which operate on gas, electricity and diesel fuel, to address the environmental issues. It is spending hundreds of millions of dollars because of environmental concerns. Again, natural gas could offset that problem in a quicker way because it is clean burning.

We in the Conservative Party will support the bill because it is in the interests of the consumer, the industry and economic development. It will also help to develop our natural gas industry. It is in the interest the provincial and federal taxes. We will all be winners if this bill goes through.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Natural Gas
Permalink
LIB

Lynn Myers

Liberal

Mr. Lynn Myers (Waterloo—Wellington, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by congratulating the member for Churchill for his motion and the fact that he gave thought and good judgment to such an important issue as natural gas in Canada and the great resource in industry which that represents.

Speaking of congratulations, I want to indicate that today is a landmark day. Premier Mike Harris is finally back to work in Ontario. This is the same Mr. Harris who spent a mere 41 days in 1999 in the legislature. It is good to see him back at work today. We congratulate him for finally getting back to work because it is important for him to do so.

The natural gas industry in Canada is a very important engine when it comes to resources in our great country. It seems to me that what we on this side of the House have done over the last while underscores the commitment of the Government of Canada when it comes to putting in place the kinds of economic indicators and well-being needed by people no matter where they live in Canada. I point to the fact that we have the deficit under control, interests rates are in hand and employment is growing at an all time record, at least within the last number of decades. There is still more work to do but the government has consistently and with great effort ensured that we have been able to do the kinds of things that were necessary for Canada.

I was thinking the other night that a mere five years ago the G-7 questioned our performance in terms of what we were doing. Now we really do have in place the kind of strength in the economy that is necessary.

Natural gas is a great resource base kind of economic engine that sustains Canadians in all kinds of matters. It is important that we give credit for that major engine growth, for its technological sophistication, for its new export opportunities and the kind of trade advantages that we have, especially within the integrated North American economy, vis-à-vis the natural gas industry. Needless to say, a great many communities across Canada and thousands upon thousands of Canadians benefit either directly or indirectly as a result of the kind opportunities provided by this great energy sector.

As a result of the kind of money and profit that is made in this area, the Government of Canada and other governments benefit with public revenues flowing into the coffers. This sustains us and enables us as governments, either provincial, territorial or federal, to provide the services that are required by Canadians in all areas of this great country.

Why should we be optimistic about our future in this area? We really should be and we must be. The reason is quite simple. The natural gas sector has demonstrated repeatedly that it has enormous management acumen. It has flexibility. It has a technological innovative side to it and a capital raising ability that is almost second to none in terms of engines of growth in Canada. We should be celebrating and congratulating all those involved because it really underscores one of the fundamental economic well-beings for Canada.

Let us take a look for a moment at some of the facts surrounding the natural gas sector and the industry. As has been pointed out a number of times by members opposite, this is a huge area in terms of the kinds of reserves that are built-in in Canada. There is enough to meet not only Canadian demand but export demand well into the future. That is another great shining light in terms of what it means for Canada and all Canadians.

I also want to point out by way of fact that the natural gas industry has demonstrated repeatedly that it can respond to changes quickly in an ever-changing and especially integrated North American market. It has the capacity to meet the growing demand not only of Canada but of the United States as well. We should again celebrate that fact.

Finally, Canada's energy policy framework has allowed the marketplace to demonstrate and determine energy prices and supply without undue government involvement. We should think about that because it really is important. When the free market system works, it often works very well in terms of supply, demand and ultimately how it sets prices. It really underscores the government's ability to leave unfettered an industry that should respond in a very systematic and appropriate way to the issues of supply and demand. I think we have seen over time that the system works well in this area.

As I have pointed out, we have a plentiful resource base, unbelievable resources in this area. We have growing markets and a favourable public policy framework.

By way of looking into the future, I think it is fair to say that we have an industry that is a shining example of good things to come. It is an excellent industry and there are tremendous advantages that will take us well into the next century because of what it is and how it should be best dealt with.

As has been noted—and other members have stated this as well—this is a convenient, efficient, safe supply of fuel. It is clean and it is effective. Faced with the difficult global challenge of climate change and energy consumption throughout North America from homeowners to major industrial users, we will likely be seeking less carbon intensive energy sources. Needless to say, natural gas fits that bill.

Natural gas is also expected to be the fuel of choice for many of the electrical generation projects in North America. As a former chairman of Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro, I welcome that. I sat on the board for 10 years. In the production of electricity there is nothing better than electrical generation projects speared on by natural gas projects. I think that is important, and the country as a whole will benefit as a result.

I also want to point out that Canada's industry is well positioned to meet North America's growing need and demand for natural gas. Over the past decades, the changes in the gas sector have been, frankly, phenomenal. Price deregulation and the unbungling of transmission services have prompted compatible and competitive business environments.

As we all know, deregulation had an immediate effect on Canadian and North American energy markets. There was an immediate decline in the price of gas, which was good not only for consumers but for industrial users as well. Producers responded because lower prices required them to aggressively cut costs and rapidly expand export sales. The end result has been higher production volumes and, accordingly, increased revenues.

To accommodate the growth in export sales, huge capital investments were made into new pipelines. With the completion of projects like the Foothills northern border expansion, export gas pipeline capacity increased from 4.9 billion cubic feet per day in 1985 to over 10 billion cubic feet per day in 1998. That is, by any stretch of the imagination, phenomenal.

Later this year the alliance project will add over 1.3 billion cubic feet per day more to export capacity. Over the past 10 years Canadian gas exports to the United States have increased by 132%, from 1.3 trillion cubic feet to 3.1 trillion cubic feet annually. We are selling more natural gas to U.S. markets than ever before.

What it all means is that we in Canada are well positioned in this very important sector of the economy. It seems to me that we should proceed in the manner that we have been proceeding without going down the path of doing the kinds of things that the member for Churchill wants but rather proceeding in the fashion consistent with what we on the government side have been doing.

I urge all members of this great parliament to vote accordingly on this motion.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Natural Gas
Permalink
?

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Natural Gas
Permalink

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-23, an act to modernize the Statutes of Canada in relation to benefits and obligations, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.


?

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

There are 172 motions in amendment on the notice paper concerning the report stage of Bill C-23.

Motions Nos. 2, 6, 8, 11, 17, 20, 25, 26, 29, 30, 34, 36, 40, 42, 45, 48, 51, 54, 57, 59, 62, 65, 69, 72, 77, 80, 83, 85, 92, 93, 97, 100, 103, 106, 111, 112, 114, 134, 136, 139, 141, 145, 150, 151, 152, 159, 162, 165 and 170 cannot be proposed to the House because they are not accompanied by the recommendation of the Governor General.

Standing Order 72(3) requires that notice of such a recommendation be given no later than the sitting day before the beginning of report stage consideration of a bill.

The other motions will be grouped for debate as follows:

Group No. 1: Motions Nos. 1, 3 to 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21 to 24, 27, 28, 31 to 33, 35, 37 to 39, 41, 43, 44, 46, 47, 49, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56, 58, 60, 61, 63, 64, 66 to 68, 70, 71, 73 to 76, 78, 79, 81, 82, 84, 86 to 90, 94 to 96, 98, 99, 101, 102, 104, 105, 107 to 110, 113, 115, 116, 135, 137, 138, 140, 142 to 144, 146 to 149, 153 to 158, 160, 161, 163, 164, 166 to 169, 171 and 172.

Group No. 2: Motions Nos. 14, 91, and 117 to 133.

The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.

I shall now put Motions Nos. 1, 3 to 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21 to 24, 27, 28, 31 to 33, 35, 37 to 39, 41, 43, 44, 46, 47, 49, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56, 58, 60, 61, 63, 64, 66 to 68, 70, 71, 73 to 76, 78, 79, 81, 82, 84, 86 to 90, 94 to 96, 98, 99, 101, 102, 104, 105, 107 to 110, 113, 115, 116, 135, 137, 138, 140, 142 to 144, 146 to 149, 153 to 158, 160, 161, 163, 164, 166 to 169, 171 and 172 to the House.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act
Permalink
NDP

Svend Robinson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-23 be amended by deleting Clause 1.1.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-23, in Clause 1.1, be amended by replacing lines 8 to 10 on page 1 with the following:

“the word “marriage”.”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act
Permalink
REF

Ken Epp

Reform

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance)

moved:

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-23, in Clause 1.1, be amended by replacing line 8 on page 1 with the following:

“the word “marriage” which, for the purpose of any federal law, means the lawful union of”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act
Permalink
REF

Chuck Strahl

Reform

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Canadian Alliance)

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to Motion No. 3. The member for Burnaby—Douglas moved the same motion at committee as a subamendment and the committee voted it down during the committee proceedings. Yet, here we are at report stage of Bill C-23 and the same motion is before the entire House. Marleau and Montpetit at page 668 reads:

A motion previously defeated in committee will only be selected if the Speaker judges it to be of such significance as to warrant a further consideration at report stage.

Marleau and Montpetit does not differentiate between amendments and subamendments. The important point is that it addresses the fact that any motion that is previously defeated in committee cannot be introduced as a report stage amendment. Only in an extraordinary situation should a motion defeated at committee be allowed to be moved at report stage. Beauchesne's describes this exception to the rule on page 212 as “special circumstances”.

There does not seem to be anything special or extraordinary about the procedure followed at committee or on Motion No. 3 itself. Motion No. 3 is no more or less significant than any other motion proposed at committee and amended or defeated at that time. It seems to me that Motion No. 3 should be ruled out of order in keeping with both Beauchesne's and Marleau and Montpetit. I ask you, Madam Speaker, to explain why Motion No. 3 is before the House today.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act
Permalink
NDP

Svend Robinson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I rise on this point of order. As the mover of Motion No. 3, I want to make two points.

The first is that it is well within the discretion of the Chair to determine which motions, having been moved and defeated in committee, can subsequently be moved in the House. The standing orders are very clear. The practice in Beauchesne's as well as our other guides are clear. This is a matter within the discretion of the Chair. I would argue that the Chair has exercised its discretion with wisdom in this particular case.

More important, I wonder whether the hon. member has gone on to look at Motion No. 4. Motion No. 4 is submitted in the name of his colleague, the member for Elk Island. That motion would amend certain words in clause 1.1. I will not read the proposed amendment in Motion No. 4, but that motion was put in precisely the same form as it is now being put to the House.

The Chair has ruled in these circumstances that it is in order to submit it to the House. I suggest that there cannot be one standard for the member for Burnaby—Douglas and another standard for the member for Elk Island. Perhaps the member might want to explain why the double standard.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act
Permalink
REF

Chuck Strahl

Reform

Mr. Chuck Strahl

Madam Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. I do not want to engage in debate with the member for Burnaby—Douglas. Obviously we will get into that during the course of the bill.

With regard to Motion No. 4 it is not in the same form. It is a different motion than the one submitted by the member for Elk Island. I invite the member for Burnaby—Douglas to have a look at it. That aside, the member for Elk Island may have to defend his motion before the House as well later on.

Since I have been in this place it has been both our practice and is quite clearly in our rule books, including both Marleau and Montpetit and Beauchesne's, that motions which are defeated in committee are not reintroduced at report stage and then debated and voted on again in the House. Obviously there is a redundancy when we do that. It seems to me it is out of order to have that motion before the House.

Perhaps the Speaker has ruled that there is something extraordinary or something quite unique about the motion. If that is the case, I would love to hear it from the Speaker to understand why. My understanding to date is that the motion should be ruled out of order, and I would ask the Speaker to do so.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act
Permalink
LIB

Tom Wappel

Liberal

Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. I have some further citations to perhaps help the Chair. I am referring directly to Beauchesne's sixth edition, Rules & Forms of the House of Commons of Canada with Annotations, Comments and Precedents , and specifically to page 211 thereof, paragraph 714:

A Note to Standing Order 76(5) adopted in 1987, instructs that the report stage is not meant to be a reconsideration of the committee stage of a bill. Instead, it is intended to be an opportunity for Members who were not members of the committee to propose specific amendments not dealt with by the committee.

In this case the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas was a member of the committee. His motion was dealt with by the committee. I would suggest that paragraph is definitive in ruling his motion out of order.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act
Permalink
?

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I think the Chair has heard enough arguments on this point of order. At this point I would like to take the matter under consideration and the Chair will come back to the House as soon as possible.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act
Permalink
LIB

Tom Wappel

Liberal

Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest, Lib.)

moved:

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-23, in Clause 2, be amended a ) by replacing line 14 on page 1 with the following:

“(ii) marriage (being the lawful union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others)”, in the sense that one is” b ) by replacing “marriage” with “marriage (being the lawful union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others)”, wherever it occurs throughout the Bill after Clause 2, with any changes that the circumstances require.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act
Permalink

April 3, 2000