June 19, 2008

NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, as the House leader for the NDP, I would like to thank the government House leader for his very pleasing remarks.

We certainly would like to echo them and say thank you to yourself, as the Speaker, and all of your staff, the table officers and the pages who serve us so well.

We get pretty frazzled in the House and we have a lot of debate. Sometimes things go a bit crazy, but it is very good that we take a moment as well to be cooperative and to thank those who make this place work and allow us to do our job.

On behalf of the NDP, I would add our voice and wish everybody a very good summer break. Again, thanks to all the employees and workers in the House of Commons who serve us so well so we can do our job.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   House of Commons
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LIB

Karen Redman

Liberal

Hon. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I, too, on behalf of my Liberal colleagues, would like to commend the table officers, the pages and yourself, being our referee in the House, to ensure we get the business of Canadians done.

From time to time, all of us have members from our communities who come to Ottawa and tour Parliament. I always think it bears as a very good reminder for me personally of what an historic place this is and how very important this institution of democracy is in defining who we have been historically, who we are today, the rules and the legislation we deal with and who we will be in the future.

It is a distinct honour to be part of this assemblage. I wish everyone a rest and a good summer. I know most of us will be back working in our ridings, as you will be, Mr. Speaker. It has been terrific having the pages ensure that things go forward. I again commend the table officers and the Clerk for doing such an outstanding job of interpreting the rules for us.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   House of Commons
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BQ

Pauline Picard

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would also like to join the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons in thanking the pages, clerks and all those who help ensure the House runs smoothly. I would also like to wish you, Mr. Speaker, a good summer.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   House of Commons
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

I thank all the hon. members who rose on these points of order. On behalf of all the employees of the House who help us here, I thank them for their kind words.

I assure them that I wish the same for all our employees, a very pleasant summer and I hope they get some relaxation. I hope hon. members do too, and maybe we will start sooner than later. However, in any event, I guess it is orders of the day now.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   House of Commons
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The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-5, An Act respecting civil liability and compensation for damage in case of a nuclear incident, be read the third time and passed, and of the motion that this question be now put.


LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

Before question period the hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior had the floor and there are seven and a half minutes remaining in the time allotted for his remarks.

I therefore call upon the hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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NDP

Alex Atamanenko

New Democratic Party

Mr. Alex Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am a little disappointed that there are not more members here when they knew that I would be making this speech. In any case, I will do my best. I know that the members who stayed are very interested in what I have to say.

In the first part of my speech, I was trying to give an overview of our environmental plan. I was talking about how we can avoid the nuclear industry by creating green jobs. Before going on, I would like to put all of this in the context of what I call political will.

Anything that comes from the government, such as bills and so on, can sometimes diminish the government's power and give more powers to large, multinational companies. What I am seeing is a struggle between big business and the will of the people. Bill C-5 is an example, because it sets a limit of $650 million, instead of truly protecting people and society.

I would also like to point out that this is all going on in the context of what I call the Friedman philosophy, which talks of privatization, deregulation and a government that is pulling out of programs for which it is responsible.

Before I continue, I would like to share with my colleagues a book, which no doubt some of them have read and if they have not, I am sure it would be good, depressing bedtime reading. The book is entitled The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein, in which she outlines exactly what I have been trying to get at, the role of the corporate sector in dismantling our societies, not only in our country but in the rest of the world.

In case I do not have time to continue in outlining our plan for the environment, I would like to give a few examples of what has happened in other countries of the world with regard to the nuclear industry.

For example, on April 10, 2003, in Hungary, partially spent fuel rods undergoing cleaning in a tank of heavy water ruptured and spilled fuel pellets at Paks Nuclear Power Plant. It is expected that inadequate cooling of the rods during the cleaning process, combined with a sudden influx of cold water, thermally shocked the fuel rods, causing them to split. Boric acid was added to the tank to prevent the loose fuel pellets from achieving criticality. Ammonia and hydrazine were also added to absorb iodine.

On April 19, 2005, in Sellafield in the United Kingdom, there was a nuclear material leak. Twenty metric tonnes of uranium and 160 kilograms of plutonium, dissolved in 83,000 litres of nitric acid, leaked over several months from a cracked pipe into a stainless steel subchamber at the THORP nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. The partially processed spent fuel was drained into holding tanks outside the plant.

Most recently, on March 6, 2006, in Erwin, Tennessee, 35 litres of a highly enriched uranium solution leaked during transfer into a lab at the Nuclear Fuel Services Erwin plant. The incident caused a seven month shutdown and required a public hearing on the licensing of the plant.

What we are seeing is the nuclear industry is by no means 100% safe. The fact that even if there is the slightest accident, this can cause havoc on the environment. As I was trying to point out earlier in my speech, this can cause irreparable damage also to the health of individuals.

There is an alternative, and I started to outline this alternative in my speech just before being stopped. At that time, I was speaking about the fact that, in addition to establishing a cap and trade system, we could create green jobs and also continue to make sustainable consumer choices more affordable.

We need a national energy plan that would make a better building retrofit and energy efficient strategy, which would constitute a groundbreaking, historic construction project for Canada in every community, creating thousands of new local jobs, making Canada a world leader in building efficiency skills in technology.

I referred to the fact that a few months ago, a Canadian solar power company was forced to set up shop in Germany because Germany was providing the Canadian company with incentives to develop this industry, where there were no incentives in our country. This is really a shame on our future and on our country, that we are not able to promote clean, efficient energy in our country.

I would like to go further and say that there are now approximately 12.5 million homes in Canada. Green Communities, an environmental organization involved extensively in residential home audits and retrofits, estimates that home energy efficiency improvements can result in greenhouse gas savings of four tonnes a year per house.

What is our strategy? Our strategy is a new program for retrofitting low income homes to replace the program that was cancelled by the government. We also want to expand and revamp the co-energy programs by providing low interest loans and improved grants for energy efficient home and building retrofits, modelled on the city of Toronto's successful better building partnership using revolving funds.

We also feel that we should amend the Canadian building code to add energy conservation and efficiency to the criteria.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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CPC

Bradley Trost

Conservative

Mr. Bradley Trost

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The legislation that we are currently debating today deals with nuclear liability not with energy efficiency, so I will challenge the hon. member to demonstrate relevance with his remarks as he is going on about the NDP energy efficiency plan.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer)

The hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior only has about 35 seconds left in his time slot, but I will remind him that at third reading a member's speech is supposed to be confined to the actual legislative properties of the bill. In the last half minute that he has remaining, I would ask him to tie his remarks to the bill before the House. That would be appreciated by the House.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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NDP

Alex Atamanenko

New Democratic Party

Mr. Alex Atamanenko

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague for reminding me of that. I just got so involved and excited about this wonderful plan that we have that I just could not help but talk about it. With respect to Bill C-5, we have to be very careful. It is not advantageous for our country to adopt this bill the way it currently stands.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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NDP

Charlie Angus

New Democratic Party

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, Conservatives are trying to walk the clock down here. They say there is no reason we should be talking about a plan for conserving energy because we should be talking about liability. That strikes to the very heart of why there is such a mistrust of the Conservative government.

Conservative members are so into promoting big energy projects at whatever cost. They are basically opening up Canada as the energy powerhouse for the U.S. market despite serious concerns as opposed to what my hon. colleague was talking about. He spoke of the need to move energy away from one or two huge megaprojects projects and diffuse it where it would leave a much smaller environmental impact and would actually be more sustainable.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague what he thinks is behind the Conservative lust, whether it is the pillaging of the tar sands, or whether it is the selling of the nukes to any private company that comes along to create these megaprojects that have a massive impact? The average citizen has to wonder whether the Conservative Party is basically just a hand puppet for the oil and gas sector and now the nuclear industry.

Perhaps my colleague could explain to us why he thinks there is this particular predilection for big energy and irresponsible energy projects in the Conservative mindset?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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NDP

Alex Atamanenko

New Democratic Party

Mr. Alex Atamanenko

Mr. Speaker, I believe our challenge in the 21st century is between the corporate sector, the banking sector and those that put pressure on elected officials, and on the other hand, the ability of elected officials to continue serving people by making wise, constructive policy decisions. I have stated this before and I stated it last night when I was participating in a food security forum in Renfrew.

What is driving the government's agenda is corporate influence that exploits at all costs, that pollutes our lakes as we heard today in question period. The corporate sector does not worry about selling our energy to the United States. It continues to funnel cheap energy to the United States while at the same time importing 90% of oil east of Ottawa, which we are currently doing and which makes absolutely no sense. The reason this is happening is the fact that there is no political will to have some kind of national strategy for green energy. We need to ensure that we do not follow along in the corporate footsteps.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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CPC

Laurie Hawn

Conservative

Mr. Laurie Hawn (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I will be really brief because I just cannot stand this anymore. Does the hon. member have any idea that the oil patch contributes directly and indirectly 500,000 jobs in Canada? Does he have any idea or appreciation of the fact that his pension plan and every pension plan in Canada depends on investments in the oil patch to pay out the kind of income Canadians need in their retirement? Does he care about any of that or is this just simply more NDP baloney?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer)

I will go to the hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior, but questions and comments should be relevant to the bill before the House.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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NDP

Alex Atamanenko

New Democratic Party

Mr. Alex Atamanenko

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important, and I will mention this, that it is possible to have industry in this country, but this industry has to come under the surveillance of the elected representatives.

The fact that we have uncontrolled pollution in the oil sands is not acceptable. The fact that it is providing jobs certainly helps our economy, but there are also foreign jobs that are taking away jobs from Canadians. I think any megaproject has to have oversight and we have to look at it step by step to ensure that it serves our best interests and not the interests of those big oil corporations.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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NDP

Catherine Bell

New Democratic Party

Ms. Catherine Bell (Vancouver Island North, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the member's speech on the NDP's energy plan. I think it was very interesting. The other hon. member also talked about the oil sands.

I sit on the natural resources committee. We visited and did a study on the oil sands. The Minister of Natural Resources, at one point, said that nuclear might be a way to go because it is a clean source of energy, as he calls it.

My concern is that we are going to be looking at more and more nuclear facilities across this country, especially in Alberta, where we can use that energy to melt the tar to make the bitumen that we are going to ship, unfortunately, straight to the U.S. We are building new pipelines and this is going to further increase our greenhouse gas emissions coming from the tar sands.

The government sees nuclear as a way to get us out of these emissions because it sees it as clean energy. However, there are a lot of problems with nuclear. It is extremely expensive. It always has cost overruns and it can be seen as dangerous.

Notwithstanding the fact that we have nuclear facilities in this country that are aging, there are more and more problems with them, and some of the licences are running out. I think we are going to see in the very near future the possibility that we could be using this nuclear liability act more and more. I wonder if my hon. colleague could comment on any of those things.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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NDP

Alex Atamanenko

New Democratic Party

Mr. Alex Atamanenko

Mr. Speaker, I basically agree with what the member says. We have to be very careful as we move into the future. We have a chance in this country to become world leaders in the whole area of environmental technology. We must be careful how we proceed and we must make some very hard and fast choices.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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NDP

Charlie Angus

New Democratic Party

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I notice my colleagues from the Conservative Party are taking it personal when we talk about megaprojects. I have never met someone who would be personally slighted about something like the Athabasca tar sands, but perhaps they are.

I wonder again if the member has a sense that this is again a government that will do anything to protect the mega energy boondoogles and yet, it would not cry a tear for the hundreds of thousands of workers who have been laid off in Ontario and Quebec during this manufacturing crisis. Does he see this strange duplicity that will bend over backwards and cry tears for the Athabasca tar sands and yet say nothing about the hundreds of thousands of jobs, particularly in southern Ontario in the auto belt, where our Conservative members have run and hid under their Prime Minister's desk rather than meet workers who have been laid off in Oshawa, the London area, and Windsor?

These are very serious issues. We are talking about the complete extinction of an entire industry in Ontario and yet, we see Conservative members who will not even go and meet their constituents who are seeing the complete loss of, say, the GM plant in Oshawa. At Ford, I met with the CAW workers in London. They said that the Conservatives are completely missing in action.

Does the hon. member have any thoughts on why this strange duplicity?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer)

I am not sure if that has anything to do with Bill C-5. There was a point of order raised previously about relevance, so I will give the floor to the hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior to respond, keeping in mind the rules of relevance regarding the third reading stage of the bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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NDP

Alex Atamanenko

New Democratic Party

Mr. Alex Atamanenko

Mr. Speaker, obviously, I must respond to a question. I think it is up to those who are asking the question to realize whether or not it is relevant.

The comments are very well taken. This is not an isolated incident we are viewing with one aspect of industry. We are looking at the global picture.

What we see, to answer my colleague's question, is the lack of political will to really provide a strong direction in this country. We see basically a strategy that involves sitting back and letting the market rule.

This is the same strategy we are seeing in my province of British Columbia and unfortunately across this country. That same strategy is being seen in the battle between the corporate sector, which is driving the agenda, and the idea that we actually have people elected who can work on behalf of all of us here in Canada.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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June 19, 2008