Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 24 - Evidence for February 19, 2002
OTTAWA, Tuesday, February 19, 2002
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources met this day at 5:55 p.m. to examine such issues as may arise from
time to time relating to energy, the environment and natural resources,
including the continuation and completion of the study on Nuclear Reactor
Senator Nicholas W. Taylor (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: The minister will arrive shortly. We have a budget that
might be discussed and voted until the minister returns.
Senator Adams: Should this budget discussion be in camera?
The Chairman: It is usually in camera but since the cameras are
here, this would be a chance to see how open and democratic the Senate is.
You all have a copy of the budget before you. We split the budget into two
parts, the first being the budget for legislation. We will do if first. The
budget is for $26,000 between now and the end of March. That amount is to cover
mainly researchers and working lunches.
The trip that we are making next week to the U.S. to study their energy and
electrical thing in California was already approved in a previous budget. This
budget is our food and PR work between now and the end of March. It is about
$26,000. Are there any questions on that?
Senator Christensen: Why do we need the additional? Do we have a
The Chairman: That is a very good question. It is a typo. It should be
to the end of next year. This amount is for the entire year for the meetings on
Senator Christensen: This is to March 31, 2003?
The Chairman: Yes.
Senator Christensen: That makes a difference.
The Chairman: Yes, it makes more sense. We split the budget between
travel and legislation. The legislative budget is just what we spend for
Senator Banks: Pursuing that same question, I am not sure that is
right because professional services for expert researcher, item number 0401, is
$10,000 in the $26,000 total budget. It is also $10,000 of the $39,500 in the
first part of the second budget. Are they two different things?
The Chairman: You are talking about the $10,000? That is only for 20
days scattered throughout the year.
Senator Banks: Then what is the $10,000 amount in the other budget
totalling the $26,000? It is also marked as being for professional services,
expert researchers? It has ``communications consultant, 20 days.'' That same
item is in both budgets, is it not?
The Chairman: You are saying that there are two readings. I understand
from the clerk that one is for 20 days for communications and the other is for
the expert researcher.
Senator Banks: In the small budget, the second item listed under
number 1, says ``professional services — 0401 — communications consultant
— 20 days. That is also number 1 in the larger budget, communications
consultant, 20 days. Are they different?
The Chairman: Yes. We use the communication consultant in the short
budget for releases on hearings we are conducting on bills, and we use the PR
budget for the travels and special studies we do.
Senator Banks: In the aggregate, do we have 40 days of communications?
The Chairman: Yes.
Senator Banks: Thank you.
Senator Watt: I have a question about the same budget we are dealing
with here. Is March 31, 2003, the correct date?
The Chairman: There is a misprint. It is the next fiscal year. We are
not going to spend $26,000.
Senator Watt: We are a long way from the year 2003.
The Chairman: The budget is from March 31, 2002, to March 31, 2003. It
is for next year.
Senator Watt: Are we dealing with it now?
The Chairman: Yes. We try to get the budget out of the way before the
end of March.
Senator Watt: I would have thought this amount of $26,000 would carry
us up to March because we are not even in March yet.
The Chairman: No. We are okay.
Mr. Thompson: My understanding is that the Internal Economy Committee
will begin hearings on allotments for the next fiscal year, which runs April 1,
2002, until March 31, 2003. The current fiscal year is almost concluded.
The Chairman: Normally we would not have looked at this for another
week or so. I was just trying to make use of our time while waiting for the
minister, and I thought the $26,000 amount was a nice easy one for next year.
Do I have a motion, provided it is changed to March 31, 2003, fiscal year
ending? Is there a motion for acceptance?
Senator Christensen: I have one more question. Number 2 is lunches. We
also have lunches in the other one and they are 20 in both cases and each $300.
I am sorry, 15 in one and 20 in another. Is that for travel and the other not?
Mr. Thompson: Yes.
Senator Christensen: That is fine.
The Chairman: Do we have a motion on the short budget?
Senator Buchanan: I so move.
The Chairman: Is everyone in favour?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: The minister has now arrived. Minister Anderson, I
gather you want to make a short statement to the committee and then we will have
questions for you about what has happened in the last year.
Hon. David Anderson, Minister of the Environment: Honourable senators,
I would be delighted if you would question me. I have a statement than I will
try to keep brief. I appreciate the opportunity to be here and I am available
for whatever needs to be done, however long it takes, and I can come back if
necessary. I am at your disposal.
Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to appear before you, as always. This
time I will be discussing the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, or CEPA
1999. When I appeared before the committee in August of 1999, it would have been
safe to say there was no love lost for the CEPA bill. Groups at one end were
saying that it was toothless, weak and would not protect the environment; at the
other end, critics were saying it was so rigorous it would scare off investment
in Canada and have a deleterious effect. Experience has shown that the sincere
but frequently extreme voices on both sides got it wrong, as they so often do.
We have found that the new CEPA is among the most advanced pieces of legislation
in the developed world for the environment, and today I want to highlight the
progress we have made under CEPA since it was approved and signed into law.
CEPA has proved to be a powerful and effective law that has enabled
government to take action on clean air, clean water, and protect the environment
and the health of Canadians. It has given us new tools that encourage innovation
and environmental protection measures, new levers for environmental management
in shared jurisdictions, and new opportunities for partnership with industry to
put in place policies and programs to prevent pollution.
We have completed a comparative analysis with similar legislative frameworks
with the seven OECD countries and the European Union, and the analysis shows
that Canada is, perhaps, in the best position in taking a comprehensive approach
to examine all of the substances in use in its domestic commerce. This is a huge
challenge for the government. There are 23,000 such substances and we, of
course, are working closely with experts from around the world as well as within
our own country. The legislation commits me to meeting a deadline of September
2006 for categorizing these 23,000 substances as set out in the bill, and this
is a challenge to which I will later refer.
Since September 11, it is very hard to look at any legislation or ministerial
mandate without wondering how they protect Canadians not only from ecological
accidents but also from intentional acts of terror.
I am glad to say that the CEPA contains tools that will serve or could serve
to contribute to intervention and emergency intervention activities. Here are a
few examples: follow-up mechanisms for the movement of dangerous waste entering
or exiting Canada; a regulation on emergency measures for toxic substances, if
there is reason to believe that there must be immediate control over the
manufacture, import, sale or use of those substances because they pose
considerable danger for the environment or human life or health; the power to
force businesses to elaborate and implement environmental emergency plans for
toxic substances and the power to establish regulations concerning prevention,
the capacity to intervene, and clean-up measures.
As for the implementation of the legislation in the broad sense of the term,
I would like to emphasize a few specific examples that illustrate how it has
already borne fruit with regard to monitoring vehicle emissions, trans-border
pollution and toxic substances.
The new Canadian Environmental Protection Act provides that when a substance
is considered to be toxic, the legal instruments to prevent or monitor the
pollution it may cause must be established within the 2 years, and implemented
within the 18 months which follow.
The CEPA includes a broad range of instruments to this end in pollution
prevention plans, environmental emergency plans, courses on environmental
practice, guidelines on environmental bureaus and, of course, regulations.
Transportation is the greatest cause of atmospheric pollution in Canada. It
contributes 70 per cent of all NOx emissions which are the precursor
to smog. This has a direct and major influence on the health and well-being of
all Canadian men and women.
Last February, using the new powers provided by the CEPA to control vehicle
and motor emissions, I initiated a 10- year action plan that will considerably
reduce the emissions from those sources. Our 10-year plan will address all types
of vehicles, including automobiles, light utility vehicles, recreational and
work vehicles, agricultural equipment and construction equipment. It will
guarantee the establishment of new, strict emission standards and will impose
tests and testing of cars, trucks and motors manufactured or sold in Canada to
ensure they meet the standards concerning low- emission vehicles.
Regulations under CEPA were used to set a limit of 30 parts per million for
sulphur content in gasoline starting on January 1 of 2005. That will be a
significant decrease from the average levels in 2000 of some 300 parts per
million: 300 parts down to 30 parts.
Further, these regulations call for an average sulphur level in gasoline to
be 150 parts per million starting on July 1 of this year. I also published the
draft regulation in December that will ensure that sulphur content in diesel
fuel for on- road diesel is reduced to 15 parts per million — half that of
gasoline — by June of 2006, down from today's average of 320 parts per
CEPA also gives the government the authority to control emissions from small
engines such as those found in snow blowers, portable generators, lawn mowers,
leaf blowers, weed trimmers and chain saws. Previous to CEPA, I did not have
that power. Those sources are often overlooked. They are, however, important.
They are responsible for some 20 per cent of air emissions stemming from
gasoline and diesel powered engines.
According to the California Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resources
Board, using a commercial chain saw for two hours produces the same amount of
smog-forming hydrocarbon emissions as driving a 1995 model car about 400
Air contaminants, however, are generated on both sides of the U.S.-Canada
border. Therefore, in December of 2000, shortly before the change of
administration in the United States, I signed the Ozone Annex with the United
States. That is a very important historic agreement that will significantly
reduce smog-causing pollutants on both sides of the border and bring cleaner air
to millions of Canadians and Americans in the eastern half of the continent.
This agreement calls for measures that will reduce Canadian year-round emissions
of nitrous oxides, a key component of smog, by 44 per cent by the year 2010 —
eight years hence.
On the American side, the reduction in NOx is projected to be
approximately 36 per cent year-round.
CEPA has helped us take further action internationally. For example, last
year, Canada was the first country — and I am very proud of this — to both
sign and ratify the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. This
global agreement proposes to reduce and largely eliminate emissions of 12
persistent organic pollutants — or POPs — known as ``the dirty dozen,'' a
group that includes PCBs, DDT, dioxins and furans. Fortunately, ``the dirty
dozen'' have, for all intents and purposes, been eliminated in Canada.
The POP agreement is a remarkable example of what can be achieved when
parties come together and work together. In this instance, our partners included
the provinces, Aboriginal peoples, industry and NGOs. Northern Aboriginal
populations went even further to describe the government's approach to the POPs
agreement as a model for their own involvement on other health and environmental
The CEPA guarantees that all provinces will meet their commitments under the
appendix on ozone. In this respect, I wish to continue working with the Ontario
government and Ontario businesses to help them respect their commitments to
decrease the pollution due to power plants and other NOx producers.
They must do more than they have already made provision for and I will continue
to follow Ontario's progress.
However, let me assure you that if discussions were to fail, we can count on
the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to have our international obligations
respected. The cross-Canada standards to set higher national emission pollution
limits is another tool available to the government. They allowed us to establish
partnerships with the provinces and territories for a broad range of
environmental matters. The Government of Canada is doing its share to implement
cross-Canada standards on particulates and ozone and we are using the CEPA to
We declared that particulates are toxic and that designation gives us access
to the whole range of tools under the CEPA. I indicated my intent to declare
that the precursors creating particulates and ozone are also toxic because they
threaten human health. The government took steps in 2001 under the CEPA to
protect our water and our aquatic ecosystems.
The plan to include chloride salts in Appendix 1 of the CEPA after in-depth
scientific evaluations is meant to protect freshwater as well as freshwater
plants and animals from excessive exposure to chloride salts.
In June 2002, together with the Minister of Health, I also published the
conclusions of four scientific evaluations on substances affecting the quality
of our aquatic environment. I am now taking steps to set up control and
prevention instruments centred on municipal sewer effluents to guarantee the
efficient management of those substances. The management of municipal effluents
first of all reduces their negative effect on the environment and human health.
However, they also provide ongoing protection to the aquatic environment that
has to cope with multiple uses of the marine and freshwater environments for
leisure, tourism and commercial fisheries.
The provinces and territories clearly have a major role to play to preserve
the quality of our water and marine environment in Canada. Thanks to the CEPA,
we have a lot flexibility to come up with the pollution management tools and
undertakings, including the possibility of working closely with the provinces
and territories, to find the best solutions for risk management.
I said earlier I would return to a broader discussion of CEPA. The best law
in the world would be ineffective without tools and resources to implement and
enforce it. When CEPA received Royal Assent, I announced $72 million in new
funding to help implement the act. That includes funds to accelerate the
characterization, screening and assessment of new and existing substances, as
well as to manage toxic substances.
Recognizing the need for more resources to enforce the current and new
regulations under CEPA, our government allocated another $40 million over five
years in budget 2000 for enforcement and $9 million ongoing. There is strong
recognition of the critical importance of enforcement as a base for ensuring
adequate environmental health protection.
The staff complement has gone from 72 pollution enforcement officers in
1998-99, to 95 such officers in 2000-01 — an increase of 32 per cent. As well,
we will add four more intelligence officers to the current six to work with law
enforcement and customs agents to track and stop organized environmental
criminal activities such as the smuggling of ozone-depleting substances.
We also have environmental protection alternative measures, which can assist
in our environmental enforcement efforts. That is a negotiated agreement that
returns the violator to compliance, diverting the parties away from costly court
processes after the charge has been laid. In September, we issued the first of
these against an exploration company in Calgary. Rather than go through the
legal process, they made a $30,000 contribution to an environmental damages
fund. They agreed to train their employees appropriately and submitted an
article for publication in an environmental magazine describing the case and its
outcome. Again, that was an alternative to the court system.
Turning to information on the public right to know, the national pollutant
release inventory is now mandatory. In light of this new provision, we enhanced
the NPRI — the National Pollutant Release Inventory — to make it even more
effective and we have launched a process to require industry to report on seven
common air pollutants. This increases the number of reporting facilities from
some 2,100 to some 7,000. The effect of this is powerful. The United States
Environmental Protection Agency regards this approach as its most useful
regulatory tool, which resulted in a 45 per cent reduction in those pollutants
as a result of the reporting process. The very fact that people report is
important in encouraging them to reduce the amounts.
What is the workload? Assessing the risks to our environment, enacting
additional provisions and regulations to manage hazardous waste in a
comprehensive manner, requiring the development and implementation of pollution
prevention plans for dichloromethane and acrylonitrile, two substances that were
declared toxic based on their potential to cause harm to the environment as well
as to human health. These pollution prevention plans are the first of several
planned for other substances on the priority substances list.
We are developing controlled programs and policies to fully capitalize on the
vast powers available to us under the act, as well as voluntary measures that
complement our statutory initiative. I am watching with particular interest as
work proceeds on the development of successors to our voluntary measures
program, known as ARET. It has reduced emissions of toxic substances by about
26,000 tonnes since this program was launched in 1994, and that has been a
success. On the other hand, it has been justifiably criticized for, among other
things, the lack of a verification regime. We wish to correct that.
We have released a framework for environmental performance agreements that
sets the criteria that voluntary agreements must meet. These include public
consultation, reporting, and verification of results. This was proposed by the
Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development and we are
following through on her advice.
Voluntary initiatives can be effective complements to government action when
used appropriately but we will need industry to work closely with us as we move
through the challenging exercise of categorizing 23,000 substances. Both
industry and government have much to lose if Canadians do not see an effective
and realistic program that delivers results. If we look to other jurisdictions,
we begin to see what the future could look like.
In the United States, for example, the Performance Track Program challenges
industry leaders to set targets for pollution prevention, land conservation and
product stewardship. Our use of disciplined, voluntary programs must continually
evolve to motivate leading practices and comprehensive environmental management.
In our first year, our priority was to begin implementation of the new
provisions of CEPA 1999. We are now focussing on what can be achieved for the
rest of the decade and well into the next. The record shows that the department
is ready and able to implement the new legislation and other new legislation
such as the proposed Species at Risk Act, which your committee will consider
Like CEPA, the Species at Risk Act, or SARA, is a complex piece of
legislation that will provide the government with many new powers and
responsibilities. Critics are now saying many of the same things they said about
CEPA about two and one-half years ago. However, just as the operation of CEPA
has shown those critics to be wrong two and one-half years ago, I look forward
to the day two and one-half years hence, when I come before this same group of
senators and I am able to tell you that the detractors of SARA were wrong as
The House of Commons is examining Bill C-5 as we speak. During the coming
weeks, it will hear evidence reflecting this country's diverse points of view.
It must be said that there are differing opinions within my own party.
The Senate will then have to examine Bill C-5. I am not entirely satisfied
with some amendments suggested by the House of Commons committee and I would
like to take a few minutes to explain why.
During the debate in committee, some asked for a stronger bill whose
implementation would seek results by imposing automatic prohibitions.
The first objective of the Species at Risk Act was to provide to Canadians
living in a rural environment a way to cooperate with the government to protect
the species and their habitats.
The second objective was that the provinces and territories, with their
jurisdictions, would protect the wildlife and their habitat and have enough
space to do so pursuant to their commitments made under the pancanadian
agreement for the protection of species at risk.
Because of those two factors, Bill C-5 won the informed support of Canadians
living in rural environments as well as that of the provincial and territorial
governments. There is no doubt that their cooperation will have the most impact
on the effective protection of wildlife for a very long time to come.
Overuse of automatic prohibitions and forceful implementation of the
legislation with a view to protecting critical habitats is not the best way to
try to influence the way humans use the land and behave where nature is
involved. That kind of undertaking can only arouse suspicion and perhaps even
opposition in the ranks of those who live in rural areas and whom we actually
most need as our partners.
In the long term, that kind of coercion will inevitably turn against us.
Everyone agrees that it is possible to get better results if private owners
consider that the Species at Risk Act will help them by providing the scientific
expertise and the appropriate incentives to better protect our species. We
really need those people's cooperation.
I should like to repeat this point. I cannot stress how important I believe
it is to have rural people comfortable with the legislation to the largest
possible degree. I know it is easy to say that laws should be strong, but what
are laws for? Laws are to be effective. That is surely the test — not whether
they are strong or whether they are weak on some abstract scale of measurements
or punishment or criminal sanctions — namely, whether they work. To get laws
protecting species in rural areas working, you must have rural people who are
supportive. I just told you the numbers for our protection officers — namely,
95. How do you spread that across the whole of Canada? If we can get people
everywhere — trappers, fishermen, loggers, ranchers and farmers — saying,
``We have always wanted to protect endangered species. They make our life
interesting here in rural Canada. We will cooperate because the law is not
threatening,'' then we will have achieved something.
This is a philosophical difference I have with some members of the house
committee and I fully respect their approach. Everyone is motivated by the best
of intentions. However, for me, legislation that creates fear in Nunavut or the
Northwest Territories or the Yukon in Northern Canada is wrong. I will go into
that at some length because I feel with great passion that that is the crux of
this legislation, making it user-friendly to rural people.
With respect to the territories and provinces, how can we possibly have
effective legislation if we can only intervene at the point of endangerment and
they have responsibility for wildlife up to that point? We must have working
relationships based on confidence, trust and goodwill. It is not enough to say
the federal government must force other jurisdictions against their will. We
must lead other jurisdictions, which I believe we are doing and the results
recently have been positive.
The Chairman: Mr. Minister, if I may, we asked you to talk about CEPA.
We will be looking at Bill C-5 later. That is not to try to stop you from
speaking on SARA, and we want to hear from you again on it. Right now, however,
CEPA is the main target we want you discuss.
Mr. Anderson: I apologize, but, again, the parallel with CEPA is
The Chairman: Nice to see an exuberant minister.
Mr. Anderson: CEPA was criticized for the same reason, and it has
turned out to be effective. I have trespassed into an area that I should have
probably left, but I do appreciate your indulgence because I certainly will be
back here soon, I hope, to discuss SARA.
Regarding the CEPA legislation, we obviously have challenges, but we have had
some success and made some progress. I believe we are on track to meeting the
demands of the legislation: to categorize the 23,000 substances by 2006.
However, categorization is simply a preliminary look at those substances to see
if they cause harm to the environment or human health.
To determine whether future action is required, we must go much further to
see if those categorized substances are released in the environment in amounts
that harm human health and the environment. If so, we then have to develop risk
management measures within 24 months from the declaration of toxicity — again,
a requirement of the act. I expect a number of substances in the coming months
will fall into that timeline and it will be a challenge for the department and
the whole regulatory system to meet those timelines. It is not just a question
of spending more money. I wish to stress that. It is also a question of what our
priorities are and how quickly we can move.
However, may I end by reminding you that the whole process under CEPA is
putting us out in front internationally, and yet Canada accounts for less than 2
per cent of the world's chemical industry output. We have a difficult task, but
the government is determined to press on with it. Your efforts and the efforts
of all the members of Parliament that were put into CEPA 1999 have given us an
act of which we can be proud. I look forward to coming back to the committee to
report further in two years. Certainly, I will come back earlier than that to
discuss issues such as climate change, the World Summit on Sustainable
Development, and, of course, the SARA legislation.
The Chairman: Before I open the floor to the committee, I will remind
the members that the motion we made was adopted in the Senate in September 1999.
It said the committee majority recommends that the Minister of the Environment
meet each autumn with the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment
and Natural Resources to exchange information and views, and discuss progress on
the legislation. I was wrong when I talked about cross-examination before. This
is more of a friendly exchange. Although spring is here and the tulips are not
quite up, this is the fall meeting. We are just a little late. I will start off
You mandated the amount of sulphur in diesel fuel and gasoline. In doing
that, what is your argument for or against mandating the use of ethanol in
ordinary car gasoline?
Mr. Anderson: I will ask Dr. Stemshorn and my deputy, Mr. Nymark, for
comment on where we stand on that. We have declared an objective of increasing
five-fold the amount of ethanol used in the gasoline stream in Canada. With
respect to the measures taken to achieve that, I will have to rely on them for
advice. Certainly, on the sulphur issue, we mandated that because the automobile
industry regarded it as critical to be able to put in place the third stage,
catalytic converters on cars. In addition, if we did not do that and Americans
did it in certain jurisdictions, came to Canada, and found they did not have
clean fuel, it could have a major impact on the rubber-tire tourism trade. We
must recognize that there was a certain amount of self-interest in what we did.
The debate was successful in regard to industry. It has not yet concluded,
but we do expect to meet that target at the end of June of this year for 250
parts and meet it at the very end of 2004 for 30 parts. Mr. Nymark will add
something on the ethanol regulation and the mandating of ethanol use.
Mr. Alan Nymark, Deputy Minister, Environment Canada: We have taken
action in the government's climate change policy in the National Action Plan
2000 when there were incentives provided for that, and we have under review
whether we should go beyond those measures at this time.
The Chairman: They are mandating it now in a number of U.S. states, so
the excuse about sulphur is intriguing to me. Maybe you thought the pressure you
were putting on the big gasoline refineries was enough by taking the sulphur out
and you did not want to give them a whole bale of hay, just a forkful at a time.
I would hope that the mandating of ethanol is just around the corner.
Mr. Anderson: We do have as a government objective increasing
five-fold the amount of ethanol in the gasoline stream. Whether we mandate it by
similar methods to the sulphur, I cannot answer at this time, but I will take
this as a representation that you would like to see a major increase of ethanol
in the gasoline stream.
The Chairman: I would like to see methanol mandated.
Senator Christensen: During the hearings on Bill C-32, a number of
recommendations came out from that committee, both from majority and minority
reports. From the northern point of view, there were concerns about
contamination of the food chain — country foods in particular. One
recommendation was that the environment minister and the health minister develop
a system of continuous, widespread testing of country foods to ensure human. Has
that taken place? Have those studies started?
Mr. Anderson: We have a project, led by Indian and Northern Affairs
Canada, involving our department, Health Canada, the territorial governments and
various Aboriginal groups in the North to address the issue under our Northern
Contaminants Program. Health advisories restricting consumption of certain
species in certain areas have been issued over time. We have had, for example,
most recently in the Mackenzie Valley, restrictions on the consumption of fish
due to mercury levels being elevated. We try hard to carry out the
communications to northerners on a regular basis through the northern
contaminants committees, our partners, the governments of the territories, et
We are involved in the development of the Country Food Program led by Health
Canada. We believe we are working towards the objective outlined to you some two
and one-half years ago — in other words, having effective analysis and quick
communication of the information to Aboriginal people in the north. The biggest
concern was that it took so long to get results once they sent the samples south
for the analysis. It was weeks before they would receive the analysis results,
and frequently by then it was irrelevant.
Senator Christensen: I believe also that the intent was that not only
were people to be notified of toxic chemicals that would be in those foods, but
also a remedy or solution, a determination of where those toxic chemicals where
coming from and how that could be alleviated in the long term.
Mr. Anderson: With respect to the long-term or persistent organic
pollutants, Canada took the lead in the international protocol that was signed
in Stockholm. I signed it a year ago. We were also the first nation to ratify
this. We are spending a fair amount of money internationally — mostly in
equatorial countries — to reduce the use of DDT and therefore to reduce the
persistent organic pollutants in the atmosphere coming up into northern Canada.
The response I have had internationally on this is interesting. Many
countries — African countries particularly — but also some elsewhere, Latin
American and Asian, have said, ``Remember, a large number of people die from
malaria annually, and that is why we use it.'' We will have to develop
substitutes, and there are substitutes. We will also have to develop training
programs to reduce the incidents of malaria by use of things other than drugs.
For instance, the use of simple mosquito netting can be a major help in certain
areas. They do not need to use the chemicals as they have in the past. It is a
difficult issue, but we are making some progress on it and I believe that that
We do not yet have the ratification by enough countries to bring this
protocol into law, but we hope that will occur. On the diplomatic side we are
pressing for greater ratification and greater contribution from other countries,
particularly other countries with northern populations — I am thinking of the
United States of American — to assist us financially. Indeed, we are having a
Senator Christensen: Another issue that concerned the committee was
the inclusion of the worlds ``cost effective'' in the definition of the
precautionary principles because of the very high costs for cleanups in the
north. Have there been any environmental problems as a result of the inclusion
of the phrase ``cost effective''? Has it precluded the costs or the cleaning up
of any issues?
Mr. Anderson: ``Cost effective'' gets worked into the system after
there has been a decision that there is a problem. You then start analyzing the
possibilities of handling it and that is where cost-effective issues come
forward. The federal regulatory policy that governs implementation of all
federal law is in fact consistent with using the precautionary principle and the
concept of cost effectiveness. There are some situations that I am sure we are
all well aware of where risk occurs for financial reasons. It would be nice to
have every automobile in Canada with tires that have not exceeded 10,000
kilometres. We know that is not the case. It is a cost factor for individual
Canadians. We know there are probably accidents or fatalities that occur as a
result of not having adequate money to do everything.
Similarly, in this, when we come across measures that are not cost effective,
it is a matter of practicality. We know some situations will exist where the
precautionary principle leads you to extraordinary expenditure with very little
potential gain. That is where the ``cost-effective'' principle would be used.
Senator Christensen: Have there been incidents since the act came into
effect where that has created a problem in the north?
Mr. Anderson: None of which we are aware.
Senator Kenny: Can we talk about compliance and enforcement? Can you
explain to the committee or elaborate further on the voluntary measures you were
talking about? How do they work? How do you persuade people to get involved with
them? What sort of communications program do you have, and how do you count
Mr. Anderson: The primary approach with industry is to recognize that,
in large part, industry is well aware of concerns over their own products and is
very keen to ensure such concerns are minimized by a variety of means. This is
one of the approaches that we take.
If you have a company, for example, which has a good compliance record, you
would be much more willing to talk about voluntary compliance. That would be one
criterion. If you are dealing with a companies that have a high level of public
openness in terms of compliance, companies that print information about problems
in their annual reports or in their company newsletters, you would be much more
willing to consider a voluntary approach.
The policy framework for environmental performance was issued last summer,
and that defines the criteria companies must meet with respect to public
consultation, reporting and verification of results. We have an NGO/ industry
group that advises, and we have the recommendations of the Auditor General in
this regard. For example, we have a new agreement with the Canadian Chemical
Producers' Association to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds —
VOCs. That includes at least Ontario and Alberta. It includes Industry Canada
and Environment Canada as partners with the producers' association.
We also will be having similar agreements with the auto parts producers
organization and the vehicle producers organization. Again, it cannot be done
everywhere, but where you find responsible industrial organizations and
responsible companies, it is generally pretty effective to use a voluntary
approach where possible.
Senator Kenny: The voluntary approach is appealing. Logically, it is
more sensible to take a voluntary approach before pursing things legally. I was
more curious to get some measure of the resources you allocate to communicate
with these folks and what sort of resources you have to determine whether they
are compliant. Is it simply published in the Canada Gazette and you count
on them to read it, or do you advertise or write them letters? How does it work?
Dr. Barry Stemshorn, Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Protection
Service, Environment Canada: The voluntary programs are largely communicated
through the industry in a range of meetings and stakeholders negotiations. When
we strike an agreement, it is publicized on our web site. An example of that
would be the MOUs with the various vehicle manufacturers for low emissions
vehicles or the one the minister mentioned with the Canadian Chemical Producers'
Association. They are made known to the public so people are aware of them and
can comment on them.
They are not subject to the enforcement action. The resources that we
mentioned under enforcement are used for dealing with non-compliance situations,
so it is a bit of a different track, but it is certainly an incentive.
In having voluntary compliance, you keep away from the command and control
process. These things work as a ``carrot-and-stick'' approach, and we have a
spectrum of tools. I am not sure if I am answering your question adequately in
terms of resources for publicizing.
Mr. Nymark: You indicated the Canada Gazette, which suggests
that you may have been thinking that voluntary codes are actually formal
instruments to deal with measures under CEPA. They are not. Under CEPA, a formal
instrument does not include voluntary measures. Voluntary measures are
complementary to any guidelines or regulatory action that you might take under
CEPA. It is a complementary set of instruments.
We have a great deal of experience under the Accelerated
Reduction/Elimination of Toxics Program, ARET. There was a significant reduction
of toxic materials as a result of that, but there was also a great deal of
criticism of the program from the point of view of the Commissioner on
Sustainable Development, as well as environmental and other groups.
A group called the ``New Directions Group'' has been formed. This group is a
coalition of industry and other groups. They established a set of principles by
which we should develop voluntary schemes, including verification of results
achieved. In the last year, we have been discussing with this coalition a way of
replacing the ARET system. We want to keep the value of that scheme, especially
by strengthening the verification side. Once we achieve a consensus on a
substitute program for ARET, we will look at engaging industry and other groups
in information dissemination as well as recognition of results achieved. We are
at the threshold of broadening our voluntary initiatives, but these are only
complements to formal CEPA instruments.
Dr. Stemshorn: The minister mentioned the National Pollutant Release
Inventory, NPRI, which is currently a mandatory program whereby industries
report to us emissions released. We publish that on Web sites where you can look
up by your postal code what is released in your neighbourhood.
The new version of ARET that is being designed — the voluntary program —
would use this same reporting system as a basis for communicating to Canadians
emissions releases under the new program and the reductions resulting from it.
That would be a way of communicating to Canadians the impacts of these programs.
Senator Kenny: The criticism I hear is great bill, no muscle. I am
happy when you talk about voluntary approaches. I am happy when you talk about
persuading people first. You quantified the ``teeth'' end when you said 72 to 75
protection officers, then you said you increased the number of intelligence
officers from six to ten. Is that right?
Mr. Anderson: Yes.
Senator Kenny: Can you give the committee some sense of what sort of
muscle you have in terms of voluntary compliance? How much of the Government of
Canada's resources go into explaining this legislation, persuading Canadians to
follow this legislation, and measuring whether they follow it or not?
How many thousands or millions of dollars do you spend doing that? How many
people are involved in it? Do you have the capacity to educate, persuade, and
then measure that you are getting the results? I am not hearing anything very
definitive back from you in that regard.
Dr. Stemshorn: I do not have hard numbers for all the dimensions that
you mentioned. However, I could mention that we are currently spending about
one-half a million dollars to run the ARET program and its successor. We would
like to increase that, but this will be competing with other priorities as we
work through our budgets for the next year.
That is only this one particular voluntary program. There are a number of
other pieces including advertising in various publications and memoranda of
understanding that we negotiate with industries. I do not have the numbers in
hand to speak to you at this point.
Senator Kenny: Can someone inform the committee at some point as to
what resources you put into communicating, educating, measuring and enforcing
the bill? It is a hugely complex piece of legislation that affects so many
people, and I have the impression that while it is a good piece of legislation,
you folks do not have enough resources to communicate it and to see that it is
The Chairman: Would the witnesses write a letter to the committee
elaborating on these questions? We are on your side, and we suspect that you are
not getting enough light, so we would like to receive a letter.
Mr. Anderson: Generally we do not get everything we ask for. That is
certainly true with the number of enforcement officers who do tremendous work.
That said, we will certainly provide, as the chairman has suggested, the
financial breakdown of the communications side.
Senator Kenny: As well as evaluation and measurement? Mr. Nymark said
earlier that there was a reduction. Can we quantify that? How do you know?
Senator Cochrane: Senator Kenny has taken the wind out of my sails in
regard to my question on the voluntary approach. I know you have good
intentions, Mr. Minister, with your confidence, trust and goodwill in various
companies to uphold these environmental protection items. However, are you only
relying on responsible companies and openness in regard to companies? What about
the companies that are not open? What about the companies that are
irresponsible? How are you assessing those? Is there any assessment of those
You did say there is a lack of verification of some of the results that you
have already indicated. I would like to know what the irresponsible companies
are doing, and how have you assessed them.
Mr. Anderson: We do have remarkable levels of compliance with
companies. Not all are that tight. When we turn to the regulations, we generally
find that 90 per cent of them comply and it is done effectively by the companies
themselves. Thus, we devote our attention to a relatively small number of
companies. These are the companies about which we have concerns.
The Commissioner of Environmental and Sustainable Development reported in
1999 that we had to develop more rigorous requirements for managing our
voluntary initiatives; we believe we have done that. However, where that is not
successful we then turn to the standard process of enforcement. I will ask Dr.
Stemshorn once more to comment on the figures on the enforcement.
Where we have had particular concerns in the corporate sector, Dr. Stemshorn,
where are we spending our enforcement time?
Dr. Stemshorn: An annual enforcement plan is developed and published
on our Web site, the CEPA registry. This details the plan for the year.
We set out priorities based on the intelligence that comes from our
intelligence officers and from our managers and other staff who have insight
into the industry. An example of an area of focus in the past year is ozone
depleating substances. We are aware, through our intelligence community, of
challenges and smuggling operations that had been going on. Illicit
ozone-depleting substances for recharging refrigeration systems can be sold in
the U.S. for quite a profit. That was an area of considerable activity over the
past year, as an example.
Senator Cochrane: I am interested in a response to Senator Kenny's
questions. We need to put some ``teeth'' into this and so we need those answers.
I do not feel that there has been enough groundwork done and there is not enough
evidence to show that the results are significant.
What about the situation in Walkerton in respect of their water? I am sure
that you will probably say that it is a provincial matter, but there must be
something that CEPA has control over as well. What can we do for these Canadians
who are sceptical, especially after what has happened?
Mr. Anderson: The Walkerton Report — the first one as you indicated
in your question — essentially referred to the provincial government
However, we are using CEPA to protect the water quality from chemical
contamination or toxics in both ground water and surface water. Many of the
substances that we regulate would otherwise find their way into the water
systems, ground or surface, thereby causing difficulty.
We have worked with the provinces and the territories on a series of
guidelines for water in Canada, of which there are approximately 300. This work
is headed up by Health Canada. Some 80 of those guidelines pertain to drinking
water standards. We work heavily on the science side, and use CEPA in respect of
many of the toxic substances that might otherwise make their way into water
With respect to the next stage for Walkerton, we are awaiting the second
aspect of Mr. Justice O'Connor's report. We expect that it will be more
comprehensive and that it will deal more fully with the federal role and whether
there should be changes made to ensure a more seamless system.
We are waiting for that report with considerable interest, and my hope is
that we will be able to respond quickly to it. Directly, we have waited for the
report before embarking on any constitutional changes that might offend
provinces or territories. It is easy to suggest changes to a system, but it is
sometimes more difficult to show that the changes to the system will result in
more effective management. Simply passing federal laws will not have much effect
if the same levels of training, supervision and oversight that we saw at
Walkerton continue. We have to make the laws more effective.
We are essentially waiting for that second report for any change of original
role that we have had. The first report did not suggest that any change was
necessary, therefore we will wait for the second report to see if it suggests
that changes are necessary.
The Chairman: We had Bill S-18 before us, which was presented by
Senator Grafstein. The bill basically asked that the drinking water be put under
the Food and Drug Act, using the old argument that the Province of Ontario
governs water from the tap, and the federal government governs water from the
bottle. I have received a firestorm of letters from the provinces complaining
that it interferes with their right to poison people and that water is their
business. You mentioned that you are looking at wastewater and, of course,
wastewater is where this comes from — it is surface runoff into the water
You also mentioned that you are waiting for the second report, but is the
approach of putting drinking water under the Food and Drug Act reasonable?
Mr. Anderson: We have a close contact with the provinces under the
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, CCME, and we work on standards
through them. The firestorm of letters and e-mails that you have received
probably have been repeated to me.
There is a considerable concern. I might add that the public is by no means
convinced that simply transferring drinking water to the federal jurisdiction
will make it better. We assume, perhaps, in Ottawa that that is the view out
there. Yet, not everyone believes that we are the best custodians of something
that, of course, is very local in its management.
We have the issue of the Food and Drug Act and the proposal of Senator
Grafstein. I would not like to become too involved in judging the merits or
otherwise of this matter. However, it is important not to create a
constitutional problem along with a water management problem.
I would hesitate, with a number of provinces, to go nose-to-nose to argue
jurisdiction. While we would argue, nothing would get done in the practical
sense to deal with wastewater and with drinking water.
Our approach has been through CCME, and it has proved to be a reasonably
useful body in handling joint actions. At this stage, I will pass on the issue
of Bill S-18, and I do not know where it stands.
The Chairman: It is before the Senate awaiting the report of the
committee and third reading. It has been delayed, possibly for the reasons that
Mr. Anderson: I will then pull the ultimate copout by saying, in
deference to senators, that I would not dream of offering an opinion if you are
now considering it. However, Bill S-18 raises a constitutional issue. I am sure
honourable senators will be considering this matter quite closely. Sometimes the
federal government does tend to mean ``one size fits all,'' and sometimes
regionalization means that we can experiment and have improvements by more
flexible local or provincial governments.
When Bill S-18 comes before the House, we will look at it carefully, if
indeed you send it to us.
Senator Banks: I am tempted to rise to the defence of Senator
Grafstein's bill, but I will not. I should like to ask you two questions. They
are both related to your comments to us.
The first relates to the Kyoto agreement, which is coming down the road at us
at 90 miles per hour. I am from Alberta, and there are some well-known persons
in Alberta who are not enthusiastic about signing the Kyoto agreement. That is
not a surprise to you, who are, on the other hand, a well-known champion of this
agreement. The government has made it clear for a long time that it will, when
it is prudent and possible to do so, sign the Kyoto agreement and ask that it be
Has CEPA, in respect of those emissions that you mentioned, been running
parallel along the lines that you want us to take on Kyoto? Since we have known
about Kyoto and about the new regulations in CEPA for so long, can we assume
they are running along two parallel tracks at the moment?
In the same respect, and assuming that CEPA and Kyoto cannot be spoken about
in the same breath, will President Bush's announcement last week about what
America will do affect the Canadian government's view and your view in respect
to our signing Kyoto. How can we be comfortable with the idea of signing if the
Americans are clearly, as they have said, not going to sign? Are you completely
comfortable that we will be okay in that respect?
Mr. Anderson: On the first question, first let me set the parameters.
The Prime Minister has said that he wishes to ratify Kyoto. He has said that
that is his target and aim. He has also said that we would not make such a
decision until we have had appropriate consultation with the provinces and
territories as well as the industries concerned and indeed Canadians generally.
That is still the clear position. I repeat it from time to time. Sometimes
the media focus on the first three words and sometimes the second with a
headline that the minister has changed his mind.
There is no change to that overall policy. The consultations must be
meaningful. You cannot announce beforehand what you will do, and then go to
consultations and say, ``This is what we will do, and we will consult.'' You
must have a recognition and respect for the other side. That means, of course,
waiting until appropriate consultations have been completed before that final
decision is made.
There is no time limit in the sense that while the Prime Minister mentioned
in mid-2001 that this year would be an appropriate year to sign. We want to
ensure that these are realistic discussion. We will not allow them to spin out
forever, but we want them to be realistic. People can put their minds at rest
about inadequacy of process. The Prime Minister has made it clear that the
process will be adequate.
What can CEPA do? We must look at that as possible vehicles for regulatory
action to support Kyoto goals. The area where it could be used would be with
respect to a domestic emissions trading system. There would be real potential
for using CEPA and also for some of the targeted measures, which are the
specific measures, regulations, incentives and taxes required in various sectors
of the economy. For example, we could increase the amount of ethanol used in
gasoline. We could use CEPA under those circumstances. My belief is that we will
be using CEPA and a large number of other pieces of legislation and measures
when we come to the possible signing.
The second important point you have raised is the American position. I
welcome President Bush's position. This is the re-engagement of the United
States after one year on the sidelines on the issue of climate change. He has
made a number of proposals that are very positive. There are many energy
conservation proposals in his plan. There is also an emphasis on new technology
and expanding existing technology and technology transfers overseas, which I
believe are very positive. He has also spoken of domestic trading, which is
important. I just mentioned it for Canada.
We want to cooperate as closely as we can with the United States. Well before
the announcement of his plan, I was stressing the importance that the two plans
— the Kyoto and the U.S. plan — work in a cooperative manner and not be
contradictory or at cross purposes. It is quite possible to work within the
The really important item with which we are wrestling is clean energy
exports. For example, Alberta has increased emissions — no question about it.
However, much of the increase in emissions has been to reduce emissions in the
United States by a greater amount. If that is the case, the global atmosphere is
benefited because overall less is going up in the atmosphere.
People note that the United States is outside Kyoto as if that were somehow a
magic bar and that meant that all their greenhouse gases are funnelled off to
another planet. It does not work that way. Regardless of whether they are in
Kyoto, they are in the same atmosphere and on the same planet as we and every
other Kyoto signatory are. We think it is important to take this into account.
Let me give another example — perhaps I will try a more neutral item. It is
one in which Senator Buchanan might be interested. The gas pumped from the Sable
Island field goes about 90 per cent to the northeastern United States. Virtually
all that gas is burnt in that area. Not every cubic metre of gas has replaced
coal, but it has replaced a certain amount of coal that was previously used for
power generation. Thus, we have the New England governors as some of the most
vigorous champions of climate change measures. They have already started.
How have they started? They reduced Canadian gas, and they have reduced their
emissions. In Canada, Premier Buchanan and Premier Hamm have taken up this point
recently. They know that the emissions in Nova Scotia have increased. There has
been exploration. There has been development of a new field. There has been the
development of new pipelines. There is pumping of gas through the pipeline. All
of this increases emissions. Nova Scotia gets the deficit; New England gets the
benefit. People are saying that we cannot count that overall benefit to the New
England- Maritime area. A line is there. For heaven's sake, surely we can
arrange methods, as we have in so many other ways, of ignoring the border when
it becomes an impediment to common sense.
The issue of clean energy exports is an important one. It is not a
make-or-break issue. It is not being described that way.
I will talk about achieving those goals, and the get off the microphone.
Senator Banks: I do not want to you get off it.
Mr. Anderson: To achieve them, senator, we arranged for an informal
meeting in Calgary — a great place to have such an informal meeting — of
international delegates who are doubtful about clean energy exports and whose
governments had expressed negative remarks about it. There was quite a lot of
That informal meeting reported to the Marrakesh Conference of the Parties to
the protocol. The report received a favourable response. Based on that, a formal
meeting will take place in Vancouver. We are again promoting this. As it is a
formal meeting of the committee of the Conference of Parties, it will formally
report in November at Delhi at the COP8 — the Conference of Parties, number 8
that follows Marrakesh.
We are hopeful that the common sense position that we have will go forward. I
have spent some time talking about it because there are people who say that we
must reduce Alberta's emissions and restrict it from any further development of
gas fields. To do so, if that gas is being used to substitute for higher
greenhouse gas emissions of Virginia coal, is folly in terms of climate change.
Senator Banks: I agree.
Mr. Anderson: We must keep working on that issue. That is one aspect
that we have not yet regulated. I believe it will be possible to work
comfortably under a North American and Kyoto approach.
Senator Banks: I want to ensure that I understand what you are saying.
We are selling a non-renewable resource — and gas is a perfect example —
that, in global terms, results in an improvement in the situation. The countries
that use the gas, as opposed those that supply it, get the entire benefit of it.
Are you suggesting that it is likely that we will be able to get back some of
that benefit to Sable Island and Alberta for having sold that gas that allows
the United States to reduce emissions?
Mr. Anderson: That is our intention and the logic of our contention.
Senator Banks: Do we have a shot at that?
Mr. Anderson: I believe the logic gives us a shot at that. It would be
worthwhile even if we only got back enough credit to offset the emissions of the
clay development of Sable Island and the pipeline and the pumping. Even if we
reduced that to zero so that developing that field would not give a deficit to
Nova Scotia, or at least said it was a wash — even that would be a step in the
right direction. That makes common sense.
Sometimes at international meetings, in the debate and the enthusiasm for
points of view, common sense is lost. However, I am hopeful that the meeting in
Vancouver will put us on the way to achieving that objective.
I cannot give you any better indication of success than that at this time.
However, I was surprised that the informal meeting in Calgary came up with such
a positive response, and I was somewhat surprised that my international
colleagues at Marrakesh were willing to accept the Canadian position — at
least to the point of putting it on the table for a formal committee meeting.
Senator Banks: I wish you very good luck and I hope that you will come
back and tell us that it worked perfectly, that everyone agreed and that common
The Chairman: I might remind Senator Banks that at our meeting with
OPEC it was mentioned that Russia is exporting natural gas so that they can have
nuclear energy replacement. The situations are nearly the same except that their
source is nuclear energy. France is exporting nuclear energy while we are
exporting gas. The argument in both cases is that we are reducing the amount
that is going into the atmosphere.
Senator Buchanan: I want to congratulate the minister on his great
knowledge of the pluses and minuses between the Atlantic provinces and the New
England states. It is incredible. You are right on. I also want to congratulate
Senator Banks for raising the matter in general to allow the minister to be
specific about Nova Scotia and Sable Island gas.
During the 13 years that I was Premier of Nova Scotia, I learned that the New
England states take a bigger interest in what is going on environmentally in
Canada than does any other part of Canada or the United States. We signed
agreements with the New England states the 1980s on the very topic we are
discussing here this evening. That illustrates that, as usual, the East — and
Nova Scotia in particular — is moving ahead, as we have for years, and we will
continue to do so.
The Chairman: With regard to genetically modified foods, are you
taking part in the debate between the ministry of health and the ministry of
agriculture? They are indirectly tied to the environment.
Mr. Anderson: The latest genetically modified concern is the so-called
``enviro-pigs,'' the genetically modified pigs from a university research
facility that were turned into chicken feed. The chicken feed was consumed and
12 million eggs resulted. Of course, this is a major concern. A research
facility was not secure. I understand that it was an error made by a graduate
student or some other person working in the facility who simply put the wrong
animals in the wrong place, and they wound up in the food chain for the
I have been assured by Health Canada that there is absolutely no health risk,
although I do not have the scientific background to confirm that for you.
However, they have given me every assurance that there is no health risk.
That shows that we must be particularly careful with research facilities, be
they at universities or elsewhere. That was an error. Changing systems does not
appear to be appropriate, at least until we have had a look at the efforts of
the university itself. The university has promised a very careful analysis and
investigation, which is currently taking place.
It would be inappropriate for me to comment on exactly what happened, other
than to say that that investigation will take place at the university level. The
federal government will be watching it closely. That will be probably be done by
Agriculture Canada and Health Canada more than Environment Canada.
The Chairman: I was inquiring about the larger issue of genetically
modified plants being used and how they affect the environment.
Mr. Anderson: We obviously have continuing concern on this. We want to
ensure that a genetically modified plant does not become an invasive species
because it is tougher or more vigorous. We want to ensure that there is control
of spread of seeds or plants. There are those who say that genetic modification
should be eliminated. To those we can only say that in our view, given the
amount of genetically modified agricultural produce now coming out, it is not
possible to reverse that at this time.
Second, we want to ensure that it is possible to have transportation systems
that do not result in destroying a very efficient system in Canada. We want to
protect the environment against invasive species. Most of the work is done by
Agriculture and Agri-foods Canada. Our concern is the possible replacement of
something human-made by a natural species. The other possibility is restriction
on genetic diversity, which could conceivably result from too much reliance on
Mr. Nymark: CEPA is largely a safety net for other federal acts in
terms of the standards for regulatory activity having to do with biotechnology.
Last September, five federal acts met the standards established by CEPA and were
listed in an annex to CEPA. However, three areas were not: One was the Food and
Drugs Act, the second had to do with transgenic animals, and the third had to do
with transgenic fish. Until there are regulatory regimes in place, the Minister
of the Environment does remain accountable for activity in those areas, but the
intention is to follow the lead of both Health Canada and the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans in the case of animals and have the CFIA develop the
regulatory regime for transgenic animals. They have the expertise in the field
as well as biotechnology expertise. We are encouraging them to move into the
area to develop the regulatory activity.
Senator Banks: My question is semi-rhetorical question. I shuddered
slightly when you said that genetically modified food has arrived at the point
that it can no longer be reversed. Does that cause you any concern?
Mr. Anderson: It is correct in this regard: As there is no indication
of any health risk, the possibility of the commercial systems reversing to
something other than genetically modified seed is just very unlikely. It is
unrealistic to demand that when there is no indication of any health risk.
They are planting genetically modified crops for a reason. Generally, it is a
higher yield. However, we must also remember that given global population
increases, we have major concerns about increasing yields worldwide and
preventing agriculture from moving more and more into areas of marginal land
that will provide little in the way of sustenance for human populations. In
other words, improving yield on existing land worldwide is an objective, as we
see the world population dramatically increasing.
I feel that to attempt to reverse by fiat of government what has happened in
the agricultural community of Canada would be extremely difficult in the absence
of any clear health reason or environmental reason. Farmers make their decisions
not carelessly and not reluctantly. They are a shrewd crowd. They have decided
this is the way to go. You would have to give them pretty good reasons for not
doing it. I do not have them and I am not giving any value judgment on whether
we would want to do it in the absence of that. I am simply saying that it is now
very widespread. It is somewhat simplistic to say just return to where we were
and ignore the improved yields that genetically modified foods have provided.
The Chairman: I wish to thank Minister Anderson, Mr. Nymark and Dr.
Stemshorn. As you know, when SARA comes forward we will be back to you at least
once, maybe twice, to shepherd that through. Thank you very much for appearing.
The committee meets again Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m.
Did honourable senators wish to talk about the Thursday morning meeting?
Senator Kenny: I wonder, Mr. Chairman, if on behalf of the committee
you could extend our best wishes to the deputy chair, who has suffered an
The Chairman: That is a very good point because CEPA and the
appearance of CEPA each year before the committee is largely due to Senator
Senator Kenny: Senator Spivak wishes she were here, Mr. Minister.
The Chairman: We thought of a closed-circuit TV set-up, but knowing
the questions she would have to ask we did not think we could afford the whole
evening. She will be back perhaps for our hearings on SARA.
We extend our regrets for that. Thank you again.
To committee members, 9:00 in the morning we will be considering Bill C-39.
We might look at some clauses of Bill C-33, as well as the budget.