31e législature, 4e session

L086 - Thu 9 Oct 1980 / Jeu 9 oct 1980

The House resumed at 8:05 p.m.


Mr. Speaker: According to the order of business announced just prior to the six o’clock recess, we are going to deal with item one, item three and, if time permits, item two. Unless we get some instruction as to the allocation of time, we will just let nature take its course, unless the acting government House leader has any more definite understanding of the allocation of time this evening.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I understand there is an agreement to share the time equally among all three parties.

Mr. Speaker: Are the table officers aware of that? Thank you.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, so we may resolve any remaining confusion, as I understand it, tonight we are talking about the interim report and the final report on reactor safety.

Mr. Nixon: But not together.

Mr. MacDonald: They are all on the floor for tonight’s debate.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Let’s get one off the order paper.

Mr. MacDonald: We won’t get them off the order paper until we have debated them.

Mr. Nixon: On a point of order: With respect, if the chairman of the committee is suggesting that we do one and three together, I would like to object, because the reports are separate. They are not identical, and there is a very important dissent having to do with the first report which I would like to refer to.

Mr. Warner: That’s the one the member wrote.

Mr. Nixon: Well, by coincidence it is.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think there is any problem here. The final report on reactor safety encompasses 90 plus per cent of the interim report. I acknowledge there was a dissent by the honourable member who has just spoken.

Mr. Nixon: Why did the member not include it?

Mr. MacDonald: The member knows why it was not included. He was not there to see that it was included.

Mr. Nixon: I am here to see that it is included.

Mr. MacDonald: He can speak to it. I think there is no problem, because we are debating one and three together tonight.

Mr. Nixon: No, we are not.

Mr. MacDonald: I suggest that we should.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, the last thing I want to do is impinge on the prerogatives of the chairman who has been, I would say, very successful in steering the business of the committee in such a way that about half the terms of reference have been very well covered. There is a good deal left to do and we may have something more to say about that, either on this or on a later occasion.

I want to refer to a dissent I had on the interim report. As a matter of fact, it was not possible for me to continue as a member of the committee following the interim report, and I have looked at the final report with a great deal of interest. The chairman is entirely correct when he says that most of the recommendations are the same. As far as I am concerned, I did not think the additional recommendations really were of an importance to justify another three months of hearings. But, of course, that is a jaundiced view I have.

I should perhaps be sure that there is no mistake on what I have gathered from my work on the committee. I am extremely proud of the technological achievements made by Ontario Hydro and Atomic Energy of Canada.

Mr. Speaker: Is the honourable member talking about the report or the point of order?

Mr. Nixon: I am talking about the report, sir.

Mr. Speaker: I thought the honourable member was addressing himself to the point of order. The chairman of the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs has made his position quite clear. As the person who has to make the final decision as to the order of business based on what I heard from the acting government House leader, which I take to be a consensus arrived at earlier by the House leaders, I would have to rule that we will deal separately with item one, then item three, and, if time permits, item two. I will now hear the member for York South on item one, which is safety of Ontario nuclear reactors.

8:10 p.m.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, item one is the interim report. All of my remarks are going to be on the final report. I concede the floor to the honourable member who has just taken his seat so he can get rid of the dissent that is bothering him so much.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk on item one.

Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion of the interim report of the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs, dated December 1979, re: safety of Ontario’s nuclear reactors.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your ruling and the kindness of the chairman in allowing me to proceed. I did want to say -- and I have begun my comments, which shall be brief, I assure you -- that I am one of those, and I believe there are many, who are extremely proud of the technological achievements made in Canada, resulting in the Candu reactor and, more than that, its development as a power source.

There is no doubt that Ontario leads the way in this area. I can recall sitting in my seat, unfortunately in this general area, those many years ago when the Minister of Energy, a car dealer named Simonett from Sharbot Lake, announced the decision that probably had been made for him, with some respect, that Ontario was going to go forward with a world-class power development at Pickering and then finally in the Bruce.

I believe that our careful investigations as to the safety of these reactors has properly led the committee to accept the phrase “acceptably safe.” There have been some dissents even on the use of that phrase, but in my view it is reasonable for us as members of the Legislature to accept that and to indicate to the populace that this is our considered opinion, arrived at as independently, I would suggest to you, as is possible. It was also our good fortune to receive evidence from world-class experts, international world-class experts.

I should also indicate, since this might be raised if not later this evening at least on another occasion in the near future, that we had good counsel and we had general advice from our staff that was second to none. As to the cost of that advice, I have an opinion that is well known and I will have something to say about that on another occasion.

I did feel, however, particularly since this was a special reference to the committee or a special emphasis to the committee, that there was a danger in us giving an incorrect impression to the populace that there was some reason for untoward concern as to the safety of the reactors. You may well recall the circumstances at Three Mile Island that precipitated these general hearings. The committee got under way earlier than had been normally expected, and we drew from our terms of reference one phrase having to do with reactor safety which occupied our attention for a number of weeks of work.

My own feeling, and I expressed it at the time and I express it again, is that the House was not well served by the committee in the fact that we did not bring in a final report on reactor safety in the fall session. I gathered, and certainly it was my feeling, that we were representing the populace at large, all of whom would like to have had an opportunity to talk to the experts, get all of the information that our undoubted powers and your warrants would get for us. We were able to examine these with professional assistance and in my view come to that rational decision, and we could have come to it earlier than the committee saw fit to do.

I believe in some respects the community has perhaps lost some interest in this. It has recurred a bit with the vote in the state of Maine where the anti-nuclear forces had a referendum put on a ballot as to whether the state wanted to continue with the utilization of one of the major reactors.

I did want to refer briefly, however, to my dissenting opinion in the interim report. I don’t intend to read it all, but only one or two paragraphs:

“My dissent from the recommendation calling for a far-reaching study to analyse the likelihood and consequences of a catastrophic accident lies in the same field. I believe no research will prove anything other than a catastrophic accident is possible but highly unlikely. This is the same sort of information that has led us to conclude that our reactors are acceptably safe.”

I also dissented from a recommendation that occurs in the final report. I felt that our committee was definitely going beyond its terms of reference and obviously beyond its powers when it made recommendations to the government of Canada having to do with the Atomic Energy Control Board.

It is obvious in our hearings and discussions that we felt the AECB might have been stronger in its directions to Ontario Hydro. There was even a feeling that the AECB was one of the last agencies or groups in Canada to be overawed by the undoubted high reputation of Ontario Hydro, which I think gave Hydro the confidence to argue with the control board in a way that I felt the control board had reacted to perhaps more timorously than was necessary.

There were some clear misgivings on behalf of the control board having to do with safety measures, and they repeatedly postponed a specific decision in their instructions to Ontario Hydro. In instances when their instructions did seem specific, Ontario Hydro, like a recalcitrant child, would go back and say: “Let’s go over those arguments again. We are not prepared to accept your order as an order, but we would like to review it further.” I believe the control board has strengthened its position in that respect.

One of the important functions the committee served, in my view, was that Ontario Hydro’s attitude towards public information was changed rather dramatically. As a matter of fact, they eventually inundated us with so much information it was only my good friend the member for Carleton East (Ms. Gigantes), who was able to peruse every last piece of statistic and draw a considered conclusion from it. Not all the other members of the committee were able to go through that 14.5 tons of documents.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Do you mean the chairman?

Mr. Nixon: I don’t mean the chairman, no. Definitely not the chairman. He flies by the seat of his pants in this, as in other matters.

I did feel when we instructed the government of Canada to increase the funding of the control board we were definitely going beyond our terms of reference and being even a bit condescending. The attitude seemed to be growing in the committee that we were probably the world authorities on most of these things but, while we worked assiduously and since 1975 spent $1,640,491, I still think even the expenditure of that amount of money does not make us into world authorities.

The Parliament of Canada, also made up of elected people, has the responsibility for the control board and, frankly, I was very deeply impressed with the individuals, particularly the senior administrative officers from the control board who repeatedly visited our committee and answered our questions and provided the information that we had indicated we needed.

I would read a further paragraph from this dissent, which I would recommend to all of the members to read again. This is from page 60 of the interim report, and I quote myself:

“I particularly object to the recommendation that the Atomic Energy Control Board should broaden its membership to include representation from the general public. The last thing we need in our atomic energy control agency is to establish some sort of an atomic parliament or nuclear debating society. It is, however, within our responsibility as a committee to make it clear the body we recommend in the report” -- and Mr. Speaker, I am sure you are aware of that recommendation -- “to review matters of nuclear radiation safety in Ontario should and must provide a forum wherein residents of Ontario, whether professionally trained or not, have a place to express their views and concerns, not only about the long-range nuclear program but also the mining and refining of uranium and disposal of radioactive waste. This is something we can do in our jurisdiction which will involve citizens in the solution to the many problems associated with policy and practice in the nuclear field.”

There was a feeling, which probably is growing even stronger, perhaps in the mind of the chairman if not in the minds of other members of the committee, that this body of the Legislature ought to be somehow made permanent and, like the select committee on company law, never come to its deliberations, but always be there --

Mr. Foulds: That is a cheap shot

Mr. Nixon: Cheap? At $1.6 million?

Mr. Ashe: No. Expensive.

Mr. Nixon: It is not a cheap shot at all. I would simply say --

Mr. Foulds: I suppose you turned your per diem back in, did you?

8:20 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: Now that’s a cheap shot. Mr Speaker, a labourer is worthy of his hire, and I feel the money that the taxpayers provided to me for my work in that committee was probably as well earned as by most of the other members of the committee, and I certainly don’t apologize for that.

It’s unfortunate that my sensitive colleagues to the left consider this an attack on them, because it certainly is anything but that. The idea of a continuing group from this Legislature to review matters pertaining to energy and particularly to Hydro has very properly been seriously discussed in the committee. I put it forward myself. My own judgement, however, is that it would be far better to accept the recommendation put forward in the report which would establish, not a body in control but one that can receive the views of citizens, experts and others having to do with the role of nuclear physics in our power development and other aspects of provincial policy. In this way, we can have a continuous supervision of these matters and the information can be reported to the Legislature.

My own feeling is that a select committee of the Legislature from time to time is necessary to deal with Hydro problems but, in my view, a continuing committee is not in the best interest of the work of the Legislature. I feel that it will definitely have diminishing returns to have the committee dealing on a continuing basis with these policies and problems as they unfold.

I wanted to have an opportunity to express my views in dissent on the interim report, and I appreciate your ruling, Mr. Speaker, that has permitted me to do so.

Report adopted.

Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the final report of the select committee on Ontario Hydro Affairs re: safety of Ontario’s nuclear reactors.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I want to make two brief comments with regard to the final report which will be in part something of a reply to the comments of the honourable member who has just taken his seat.

He objected to the fact that there was not a final report last fall. He felt that one could have been brought in. All I report to the House is that the majority of the committee felt that there were five areas in which we wanted further testimony, and I thought that most judges and most juries did not come to a final decision until they have all the evidence. We did not get that final evidence until February; therefore, the final report was produced in June and is being debated only now. His was a minority feeling and, unfortunately, in this instance he lost.

I am not going to argue the point of the cost. The cost of the committee is roughly $500,000 a year. One recommendation of this committee with regard to Bruce heavy water plant is -- that it should not be proceeded with, or at least half of it should not be proceeded with -- saved this province $60 million. Interestingly enough, the government dismissed it; then Hydro implemented it and pulled the rug out from under the government. That one saving would have financed the committee for the next 100 years, to say nothing of all of the other things that the committee has done which I suggest have been of significant importance.

I start my comments on the final report on reactor safety by expressing the hope that all members of the House will feel enthusiastic in terms of adopting it. I acknowledge there were one or two areas in which there was minority disagreement; in one instance it was the Conservative Party, and in another instance it was the New Democratic Party. But, fortunately, we have moved to a procedure with regard to select committee reports in which the minority dissents are embodied in the report. Therefore, it is possible to adopt the report, encompassing those minority decisions so that people get some idea of the perspective of views that happened to emerge in the committee. Certainly, it will give the right for anybody to speak to those minority views during the course of this debate, and I suspect it is a right that is going to be fully used.

Let me begin my comments with a general observation that has no reference specifically to any of the many recommendations the committee made. If there was one major running complaint with regard to the nuclear industry and all of its aspects, Hydro and its generation, AECL and AECB, prior to this committee’s getting into operation, it was the complaint that the nuclear industry was something of a closed shop and that adequate public access to information was not available. I think the one major achievement, and in the long run it can be of profound significance, is that the industry is now open.

For example, in its relationship with Hydro, the committee unanimously said at the outset that any document the committee wanted would be made available by Hydro, and Hydro knew we had the power to get those documents. With some degree of concern and some degree of apprehension, they agreed to make them available. They put certain restrictions on certain of the documents so that they would be available in a restricted fashion and one could not photocopy them and, therefore, take them out in sections so that, in effect, one would have the whole document. They felt that would infringe security and the proprietary rights of Hydro.

Let me say that when the committee was finishing its hearings, of the evidence, on the concluding day one of the top people in Hydro volunteered the view, having seen all that had happened, that Hydro’s apprehensions were perhaps exaggerated and unnecessary and that nothing untoward had happened because of the opening up of the industry. One of the things the first recommendation spells out is that all of the information that became available to the committee will be available in a continuing fashion. The recommendation says it will be available in the legislative library. I do not know whether the legislative library in perpetuity is going to maintain these documents. If not, they certainly will be available down at the head office of Hydro and available to the public at any point.

Second, they made the recommendation -- and I draw this to the particular attention of the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) -- that if there are any untoward events, reanalysis or occurrences then Hydro should warn the Minister of Energy and he, in turn, should inform the Legislature so that it is not an isolated event that gets one small press release on page 45 of some papers and not in other papers. There should be this degree of effort to make it available to the public as a whole.

As far as Hydro, the nuclear industry and its involvement are concerned, it is an open book from this point forward. I have no illusions about that. It is going to require vigilance to make certain that recommendation is lived up to, but I think that is a real achievement.

The committee’s achievement was even more remarkable with regard to the AECB. Because Hydro had to provide documents to us, we got all of the correspondence between Hydro and AECB and, back and forth, we got all of the correspondence between Hydro and AECL, but we did not get relevant correspondence between AECL and AECB, the other side of the triangle, so to speak. Interestingly enough, after the committee had finished its hearings, one of the tag ends we looked at before we made our final report was a whole batch of documents provided by AECB that gave us the total picture. We looked at those in February after the interim report was made. Even in the instance of AECB, we opened it up significantly.

I do not want to be begrudging here. While there are some people who have continuing concerns -- and with some degree of validity -- about the closeness with which AECB on occasions operates, it is certainly making efforts to try to open up its process. They testified -- and I have no reason to believe it is not 100 per cent correct -- that they had the major input in the legislation that has come before the House of Commons but unfortunately has never been passed in terms of opening up the process and providing statutory rights to public hearings and things of that nature. That has all gone by the board.

This committee provided a very major contribution to opening up the industry. I think in the long run that is at least going to dismiss the idea that there is a lot of information people want and cannot get, and therefore perhaps it will ease some of the tensions and some of the dialogue of the deaf that goes on between pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear people.

8:30 p.m.

The honourable member who has just taken his seat expressed opposition to the third recommendation made here that there should be set up a council in Ontario. Let me read it: “A council should be formed by the government of Ontario” --

Mr. Nixon: I did not quote that.

Mr. MacDonald: No, the member did not; he is right. His was with regard to opening up AECB and having some public representation on it. This recommendation is strictly within our own jurisdiction in Ontario.

“A council should be formed by the government of Ontario with given terms of reference and representation from within and outside the nuclear establishment to provide an institutional forum for public participation and a focus for concerns about radiation problems in Ontario, to build up Ontario-based technical knowledge and to oversee as much epidemiological work as is necessary to decide what the standards should be for the health and safety of people in Ontario.”

The committee felt, by unanimous vote, that this was a desirable move to be made. We are all aware of concerns that arises from individuals or groups in Port Hope, Elliot Lake, Thunder Bay and various places in the province with regard to what they think is unexamined new information as to radiation hazards. There is no forum where you can really bring this forward and get it discussed with some announcement to the public so that the public’s concerns can at least be addressed.

In this recommendation, we are suggesting that such a body should be set up. It would be an advisory body, a public forum, but at least it would provide a means for airing these concerns which continue to bob up so frequently.

The fourth area in connection with the AECB is one that has been touched on by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon). The committee was really perplexed at the procedures of the AECB and the difference between a request and an order. Sometimes they would request Ontario Hydro to do something and Ontario Hydro would not do it. When we inquired, a request was tantamount to an order if it was not done.

There was one classic case where Ontario Hydro argued for two full years before they finally resolved it a few months ago. The Premier here has stated that the AECB is in control when they issue an order and an order will be abided by in the province by Ontario Hydro.

We requested that they should clean up this terminology, the difference of view between a request and an order. We acknowledged that sometimes AECB makes it a request because they want to get a dialogue to reclarify their views, but there is certainly no legitimacy that the dialogue should go on for two years.

As a matter of fact, one of the members of the committee put it rather neatly one day when we were hearing testimony from an AECB official and we heard the story about how long this dialogue had gone on. His comment was a query to the AECB: “Are you a pressure group or are you a regulatory authority? If you are a regulatory authority, make up your mind and issue an order, not a request, so that people know what you mean. Do not engage in 24 months of discussion, which make you look as though you are a pressure group.”

Quite frankly -- and this is purely a personal comment -- I think another achievement of this committee is that it helped the AECB to mature and become a regulatory authority. The AECB was in a strange position. AECB in a sense is a stepchild of Ontario Hydro. Many of its personnel came from Ontario Hydro. Much of the experience on which it has based its regulations and the development of its pattern has come from Ontario Hydro. It is like a child who grew up. How do you challenge the parent?

That was the kind of relationship that went on. In our committee we smoked that out and said to AECB, “If you are the regulatory authority, you come to a conclusion and issue an order, and even if it is big Hydro, your father, so to speak, he will have to respond.”

Because I do not want to take an undue amount of time here, let me focus quickly on the three areas in which there were disagreements.

The first one of significance is this whole question of whether Ontario Hydro plants are acceptably safe. It is a real dilemma. Let me try briefly to present to the House why it is a dilemma, and I want to do it in the context of three paragraphs which are quoted from page five in the report.

The committee would like to be able to say, simply and directly, that Ontario’s reactors are safe or Ontario’s reactors are not safe. It would be desirable to be able to say to the public, “A catastrophic nuclear accident in an Ontario reactor is impossible.” A direct, simple statement cannot be made.

It is not possible to say a nuclear reactor is absolutely safe. There are risks associated with nuclear power. It is not right to say that a catastrophic accident is impossible. There is always a chance that the worst can happen. In a situation where absolutes are misleading, the committee is forced to make relative judgements. If there is some chance of a catastrophic accident, that chance must be suitably small. If it is not possible to say that Ontario’s reactors are absolutely safe, then if they are allowed to operate, they must be judged acceptably safe for continued operation. There must be a political and societal judgement that the risks from the nuclear reactors are worth its benefits: competitively priced Ontario-based energy from power generating stations that are relatively nonpolluting in normal operation.

Although this is a difficult judgement to make, society has always made judgements of this type. For example, motor vehicles are widely accepted in our society, despite the fact that in Ontario alone, about 2,000 people are killed and many more injured every year in accidents involving motor vehicles. Although few would deny that we should continue to try to make motor vehicles safer, they are accepted as they are today -- they are acceptably safe.

The majority of the committee concurred with that conclusion that they are acceptably safe. The New Democratic members had certain reservations and they will speak to them tonight. I would like to try to put this issue by saying, “The problem is that they are acceptably safe or they are acceptably dangerous.” It is the opposite side of the same coin.

Cars -- many things we do in life today -- are acceptably dangerous. Every time we go to the airport, assuming we can get on the airplane -- an assumption that is getting a little riskier every day -- if we stop to think about it, we will have to recognize the fact that we may not get to one destination. It happens all the time. We accept it; it is acceptably dangerous or acceptably safe, just as you want to put it. That was one area of real concern where the committee was genuinely anguished. Quite frankly, in their anguish I think they reflected a fairly widespread anguish out there in society in general.

Mr. Nixon: What is the chance of an accident?

Mr. MacDonald: What is the chance of an accident? I am not going to get into that probabilistic numbers game. What is the chance of an engine falling off a DC-10 plane? One in a billion? One in five billion? One in a million? It will never happen, but it did happen. The problem is whether the one in a billion or one in a million is going to take place tomorrow or a million years from now?

Mr. Worton: I would prefer it a million years from now.

Mr. MacDonald: We all would prefer it a million years from now.

Let me address myself briefly to the issue of Rolphton. The whole plant in Rolphton down in the Chalk River area was a matter of major concern that we devoted almost an undue amount of time. It had become very high profile and it was having problems that were getting into a very vigilant Ottawa press all the time. The Rolphton plant is a toy. It is the original model on which the whole Candu system was started. It produces 22 megawatts of power, which is a drop in the bucket so to speak; it would never be missed in the whole grid system if it were not there. But because of the fact that it was built at a time when the standards were not as high, and therefore it is not as safe, there is the doubt as to whether the retrofitting, so to speak, of the plant really makes it adequately safe.

It is interesting for the committee to note that we suggested in recommendation nine that there should be a thorough reanalysis of Rolphton so that those fears and the exact situation can be stated in up-to-date terms and made available in a final hazard report to allay some of the continuing concerns. I have no illusion that will necessarily allay them all, but there it is.

8:40 p.m.

The final recommendation about which there were some serious differences of opinion was that in the committee we were extremely aware of the public concern out there about the possibility of a catastrophic accident. Society has been conditioned to the potential of an accident in which the fuel would fall on to the floor and would melt down. We have all gone to see the China Syndrome and we have a picture of what would happen if it melted down, presumably going right through to China.

Hydro would argue that they have defence in depth, that it cannot happen. In the United States there was a study headed by Rasmussen, which spent $5 million, and they came up with a conclusion that has been challenged; there was nothing definitive about it.

Hydro’s argument is that it is better to spend the money in perfecting the system to avoid that improbable catastrophic accident than to study the possibility of its emerging and what one would do should it emerge.

I must confess and once again this is a personal view, I think the arguments with regard to cost are purely specious and irrelevant. Even if it cost us $5 million, the same as the Rasmussen report cost, if it allays concern out there to some degree, I think it would be a useful contribution to helping the public be more fully knowledgeable about nuclear power and therefore to be knowledgeable about their fears.

A sum of $5 million in the Hydro budget, I suggest, is a drop in the bucket. Hydro closed the Keith plant in Windsor in 1976 because it was old and uneconomic. They spend $37 million in rehabilitating it. They pushed the button and found it worked; now they have mothballed it because they really do not need it.

If you can spend $37 million to rehabilitate your oldest plant, it is a legitimate expenditure to spend $5 million to satisfy the public concern on this issue.

What the committee suggested was that --

Mr. Nixon: Rasmussen hasn’t satisfied the public.

Mr. MacDonald: The member has had his chance to speak.

Mr. Nixon: You are really making a bad point.

Mr. MacDonald: The committee recommended that the Atomic Energy Control Board should make this study; but if they did not make it by July 1, 1980, then Ontario Hydro should be instructed by the government to make the study here in Ontario.

The Conservatives dissented from that. They think it is a federal responsibility and Ontario should not get involved.

Those are the kinds of differences. They are isolated differences. I sit down with a reaffirmation of my original comment: Do not let these areas of differences, which I think are important to focus on and to consider, put the appreciation of the report out of perspective. The overwhelming range of the recommendations in the work of the committee was unanimously and enthusiastically accepted and put forward to this House. I hope everybody will enthusiastically support adoption of the report.

Mr. Cureatz: Mr. Speaker, might I first say how pleased I am to have the opportunity to participate in this debate. The member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) left us to go on to bigger and better fields, looking at the constitution, which I know is a very worthwhile endeavour from the provincial level. But I am the provincial representative who at the moment has the Darlington generating station being constructed in his riding, and this committee has given me the opportunity of re-evaluating nuclear power. It is giving me the appreciation a member should have, in terms of a generating station of this nature being built in his locality.

The problem we all encounter in terms of the amounts of hours and days the committee has sat is that we come into the Legislature at eight o’clock and the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk takes up a few chunks of time and we are loaded with about two hours.

I am always amused when one meets with the Minister of Energy and he says: “What do you think, five minutes? Ten at the most?” Here we are debating the fate of nuclear safety.

However, in the few moments I have, one of the problems facing me is to decide whether to focus in on specifics of the recommendations or on some global problems, or global concerns, or global understandings that I have accumulated from sitting on the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs.

I have decided to opt for the latter, to try to cover in a broader sense some of those aspects and appreciations that I encountered. I will leave some of the specifics to other members who will follow.

Probably the basic thing that first struck me was that Ontario is very fortunate to have the kind of nuclear generating program we have and, indeed is fortunate to have a uranium supply in Ontario. When we listen to the goings-on from Alberta and the Premier of that province harping continually about the advantages of Alberta and its energy resources, we also should be very proud about the opportunity and the mineral wealth we have in uranium.

Mr. Kerrio: They are Tories. You did not say that, did you?

Mr. Cureatz: We are hearing again from the member for Niagara Falls, emphasizing that he is an Ontario Liberal, for the second time today.

The problem I found, although being very supportive of the generation of electricity through nuclear energy, was that it is not the sole surviving factor of our energy needs in Ontario. On the other hand, neither is solar biomass or geothermal. But I see nuclear as a major component in our energy field.

When we look at the energy requirements for transportation and heating of homes and industry, we can see that nuclear power does not, and will not, play an overall role in the supply of energy in Ontario but, as of this particular point, it is going to play a rather significant role.

The interesting aspect that I found through the deliberations and the investigation of the safety of nuclear reactors was that Ontario Hydro is one of the largest utilities, if not the largest, dealing in nuclear power in North America. Sometimes this largeness gets a little worrisome because, with largeness, you often have the possibility of mistakes taking place. Yet, on the other hand, when you think of the largeness of Ontario Hydro, they, through their witnesses, indicated to me that they had the depth to provide the kinds of training necessary for the monitoring and building of nuclear generating stations.

I see the member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. Eakins), who is looking so pleased with himself after opening a fine plant in his riding which is providing more jobs all the time in that particular Wilberforce community. I am glad that he could come in and participate in my choice pearls in regard to nuclear generation.

The one concern I think it is worthwhile to mention is that the technology certainly is in a class with world leadership. I am hesitant to say that in light of the commercials we see periodically, such as “Well done, Canada,” when advertising the Candu reactor. But we should look at it from a positive standpoint and think in terms of our Candu reactors being the best in the world. We should not be embarrassed about that. That is why I support the continued construction of the Darlington generating station; in my estimation, and from the witnesses who came before the committee, it was evident to me that we have the best system, and we should be using that in a positive nature.

Mr. MacDonald: Even if we do not need it?

Mr. Cureatz: That is for the next report. I am sure the chairman of the Hydro affairs committee will have his kick at the can on that one.

I want to be specific about the efficiencies of the reactors we have, if you will be so kind, Mr. Speaker, to bear with me for a couple of paragraphs. The efficiency of the Candu reactor is unparalleled anywhere in the world. It is a showpiece of Canadian expertise. The lifetime performance rating of Ontario Hydro’s reactors has been exceptional. In 1977, Hydro had three reactors in the top eight of the entire world’s 500-megawatt plus reactors. By 1978, the utility had five reactors in the top eight and, as of last year, that record had improved to six reactors of the top seven.

Pickering 2’s lifetime performance record has been among the best in the world for two of the past three years. During 1978 it slipped to second, behind a West German pressurized light-water reactor. Pickering 1, 3, and 4 ranked third, sixth and seventh respectively, and the ability of all Candu reactors to handle on-line fuelling while the reactor is still in operation is unquestionably the key to those astounding success rates.

8:50 p.m.

Pickering 2 has a lifetime performance record of 84.5 per cent. The gas-cooled boiling water and pressurized light-water reactors are not capable of on-line fuelling and their efficiency ratings suffer as a result. The safety of the Candu reactor is also extremely high. In over 60 reactor-years in Canada -- I mention this to the member for Niagara Falls -- no member of the public has ever been injured as a result of the operation of a nuclear electric plant. This is a safety record that is unparalleled in any other industry and one for which we should feel justifiably proud.

For this reason I feel very strongly about this committee’s key statement that Ontario reactors are acceptably safe, which was stressed by the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald). Indeed, it goes without saying that every one of us takes risks each and every day. We will not get into, as was so fully discussed in the committee, the risks in getting up in the morning, driving your car, smoking, cancer risks and the like. Let me just say, in that overall comment, that I do not agree with those dissenting members that the phrase “acceptably safe” is confusing.

The other little matter I want to mention to the House is the comment in terms of investigating a catastrophic accident. Let me say that I could dwell, as we already dwelled last fall, on a specific resolution that was presented in private members’ hour in this House by the member for -- where else? -- Durham East. I want to point out that resolution was passed by the assembly after, I might add, much discussion from all sides. For those members who missed those comments, I want to reemphasize my stand in regard to that resolution, which in essence is similar in some terms to that in the report.

Mr. Speaker, those are my few general comments in terms of the report and I thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in the debate.

Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to be able to rise and speak on this report of the committee, of which I was a part. I am going to try not to overlap or duplicate what has been said up to this point. The report is large and very involved but there are a few interesting highlights.

I would like to comment first of all on the words of my friend and colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, who was seriously questioning whether the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs would run forever. As one who sat on that committee from January 1976 to the spring of 1980, I want to assure you, Mr. Speaker, that I concur with his point of view, if only from the vantage point of fatigue. Whether or not there is more ground to cover, and there may be more valuable ground to cover by this select committee, I think we should always be cognizant that there comes a time when a select committee’s effectiveness is diminished.

However, I should point out that the exercise we have gone through to examine the safety of nuclear reactors in Ontario has been a very valuable one. It has been valuable to the people of Ontario, it has been valuable for the legislators and I think history will show that it has been valuable for the nuclear industry in Ontario. We have learned some things that really were not generally believed or accepted before. I will try to touch on a very few of them. The idea that laymen could not understand nuclear technology sufficiently to make some kind of value judgement was one of the myths that I think the select committee put to bed. I must admit that we had some pretty good teachers. But I have to say, if the member for Halton-Burlington can learn to have some kind of a layman’s working knowledge of nuclear reactors, I think almost anyone in Ontario can.

When the argument is put, as it is from time to time, that it is somehow not valuable to have a layman sitting on a board or to have a layman’s point of view to make some kind of judgement about the nuclear industry, I must say I have to come down on the side of lay participation. I do not think the nuclear industry, or any other industry for that matter, should be solely in the hands of engineers especially when this industry has such a profound impact and such profound consequences for all the people of Ontario. Perhaps that is why I support lay participation in these areas. I think it has to come, it has to happen. It is simply the way the world is unfolding.

Another thing we learned that was kind of interesting was the viewpoint we have taken about the cost of nuclear-produced power. I realize that Hydro through its advertising campaign has been turning handsprings to tell the people of Ontario how much cheaper nuclear electric power is than fossil-produced power. The comparisons are built in about how much cheaper nuclear is, but some things have been left out of that scenario and continue to be left out. We have another source of electric power in Ontario that is much cheaper and much more reliable than nuclear power, which brings us to the conclusion that the costs are not all in. We are defending ourselves if we feel that somehow the fuelling costs and the manpower costs of the nuclear plant are the only costs associated with electric power.

That is a very nice picture my colleague the member for Niagara Falls is holding up, a very important picture, one that should tell its own story.

I think we discovered in the select committee that we have not exhausted all the cost areas. The principal question is what is going to happen to the disposal technology for the highly toxic wastes. Therein lies a tale that has not yet unfolded, is yet untold. It may very well prove that nuclear-generated power is not quite as cheap as we are advertising it today, and its relationship to other kinds of generation may change quite significantly when the research work is done and when we decide if we have found an appropriate method for the final disposal of these toxic wastes. I think it would be naive of anyone, either the government, Ontario Hydro or us in the opposition, to suggest that we have found that answer, that we have come to the end of the road as far as the costs of nuclear power are concerned.

9 p.m.

We learned that we had trouble finding an appropriate statement about the nuclear reactors. Remember that this study was limited to the engines of nuclear power, not the nuclear industry on a broad base. When we came and found those words that were so difficult for us all to find, those words “acceptably safe,” it was something we had to do, first of all, in the context of the engine component of the nuclear industry and not the whole nuclear industry. We probably could have said, as has been pointed out by a previous speaker, “acceptably dangerous” or something else. It has been well pointed out that the word “safe” itself is inappropriate because it is an absolute. We all must recognize that any device created by man cannot carry that absolute. Anyone who judges something in black and white terms like that is simply being grossly naive.

When we made our recommendations, there were some concerns for various aspects as they related to the people who were concerned. I must say the timing of this exercise just happened to be historically appropriate. We had the Three Mile Island incident. We had a film, which I must admit I had no part of, that also happened to come upon the scene at that time. It aroused a good deal of concern with the public generally.

There were needs that became very acutely evident. There was the need to inform the public and to keep the public continuously informed. There was the need for some independent review, some ability to look at a situation as independently as possible. I know how difficult that is, because it was virtually impossible to take an independent or totally objective viewpoint on these subjects. If one was on one side of the issue, one was away out on one side. If one was on the other side of the issue, one tended to be away out on the other side. To try to strike some line down the centre of objectivity was very difficult indeed. We recognized that.

It became evident to us that the system was not perfect. Once we were able to learn some of the workings of the system in layman’s terms, it was obvious the system was not perfect and needed to be improved. There was the final need, or the final one I felt was critically important, that if the machinery was acceptably safe so that the public could be reassured, that reassurance had to be built into the recommendations as well.

We accomplished one other thing that is worth noting. The chairman introduced it, and I would like to mention it again. It was the process of complete reversal of Ontario Hydro on the subject of disclosure. One will say, to give Hydro the benefit of the doubt, this was all going to evolve anyway. I would like to think the activities of the committee and world events as they were precipitated a very painful decision on the part of Ontario Hydro. It was very difficult for them to really feel confident they could undertake disclosure on as complete a basis as they did without risking something.

I can remember the debates and the concerns that were being expressed by Ontario Hydro at that time. I also want to reiterate the words of the chairman when he said that a few months later Ontario Hydro came back to the committee and said: “We tried it and we like it. It worked.” There was not the danger inherent in that disclosure that Ontario Hydro thought there was initially. The achievement of that reversal probably was pushed over the cliff, if you can imagine pushing a stone or something over the edge, by my leader, who was --

Mr. Ashe: You are dreaming.

Mr. J. Reed: If my friend remembers the sequence of events, he will remember the tale of Mr. Schultz and all of the intrigue that was involved there. Finally it turned out there was an operator who came to a member he happened to know. He did not know which party he was connected with, but he made contact with him and in the end some of these significant event reports were tabled with the select committee. It turned out that these significant event reports, while they are very important, certainly did not represent any great threat to Ontario Hydro. We know now that significant event reports must remain in the public domain. It is the only way there will ever be any objectivity come into the nuclear industry.

There is a very strong anti-nuclear movement on one side of this issue and a very strong pro-nuclear movement on the other side. I think the truth is that nuclear power is neither a pariah nor a saviour; it is neither one, it has its risks and we must understand what they are and decide whether we want to accept those risks. It also has its benefits and we must understand what the benefits are and decide whether the benefits are worth the risks. I think that is something we have tended to miss throughout a lot of this, although I must say I am very gratified that the select committee representing all parties came to an essential consensus and these valuable recommendations were able to reflect views that required a lot of give and take on the part of all the members of the committee.

I would remind these people who are far on one side of this issue and far on the other side of this issue of my little light bulb story. Last year, I think, was the 100th anniversary of the invention of the light bulb. Up until 1921 in the Walper Hotel in Kitchener -- which is unfortunately long gone, that grand old lady of hotels in that area -- a sign was hung in every room beside the light switch. I am not sure whether I can repeat it verbatim, but it said: “This room is lit with an Edison electric light. Do not try to light with a match. Electric light has been found not harmful to the health, nor will it disturb the sleep.” That was in 1921, a full generation after the invention of the light bulb. I dare say, had the light bulb been invented in the 1960s, we might be having a select committee on the safety of the light bulb at this time.

Finally, I want to caution the government of Ontario and Ontario Hydro that nuclear power is not the be-all and end-all of energy in Ontario in any way, shape or form. As a matter of fact, at the present time other forms of energy are not being allowed to compete with nuclear-produced electric power, and I am prepared to debate that subject with the government anywhere at any time. I will say again: Other forms of energy are not being allowed to compete and therefore nuclear power, if it is going to have a continuing place, must be allowed to compete and take the consequences of that competition. We have a long way to go before that is opened up.

I will close by saying that my friend across the way said that Pickering 2 has been operating at an in-service efficiency of 84.5 per cent. I should remind him that any hydraulic plant in Ontario has been operating at an in-service efficiency of 99.5.

9:10 p.m.

Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, it is fascinating to note how the Liberal Party treats the people who come to it with information which they find useful. We have just listened to the member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. Reed) dismiss Bill Taves and the information he brought forward to the public, leaked by Bill Taves to the members of the Liberal Party. We have heard the member dismiss that information as an insignificant train of events by an operator who did not explain what reasons might have been behind it --

Mr. J. Reed: On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr. J. Reed: On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker: If the honourable member is suggesting that I am dismissing that event, I tried to explain it was the most significant event that occurred at the select committee and that credit is due to Mr. Bill Taves and to the member to whom he brought that information.

Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, that was certainly not my understanding of the words of the member. I think a look at the transcript will convey a totally different impression from his revision.

I would like to pay tribute to Bill Taves and to the information he brought forward to the public of Ontario which led us into consideration of the safety of Ontario’s nuclear reactors last year. It was important information. I think he brought it forward to the public with the deepest possible personal concern. He felt, as I felt, as many people in Ontario felt, that Ontario Hydro was dismissing the concerns of people in Ontario about the safety of Ontario’s reactors following the Three Mile Island incident, and that Ontario’s reactors needed a good, hard review in terms of their safety.

I followed what happened to Bill Taves with some regret. I am sorry he left the organization of Ontario Hydro. I hope that Ontario Hydro is filled with people with the courage and integrity of Bill Taves. He paid a high price for the actions he took.

As I sat last evening trying to collect my thoughts for this debate, I was forced to reflect again on how enlightening and how difficult it has been to have taken part in the work of writing this report. The subject of the safety of Ontario’s nuclear reactors is something I wish I had never had to think about. I wish I could forget about it forever. The subject tested the intelligence and emotions of members of the committee, our staff and the witnesses, and exposed some very different attitudes towards basic social and political questions.

The clash of those differing attitudes was often bitter and angry, and it was the depth of that bitterness and anger that bears witness to the significance of the issue we are facing. What is an acceptable risk? Where technology exposes large populations to the involuntary assumption of risk, how unlikely does an accident have to be? Can we really know the probability of a sequence of mechanical and/or human failures that could produce a major accident? If we can estimate that probability accurately and if we can estimate the financial and human consequences, what trade-off do we require to make it worthwhile? How much should we rely on technical experts to provide the judgement? Can the current structures of government cope with these questions, or do we have to seek the moral authority that comes from a referendum?

These were the kinds of questions that underlay the work of the committee, and the disagreements we had on many of the particular items we considered were symptoms of underlying conflict about the responsibility of government for a technology that raises such fundamental questions in a democratic society.

The use of nuclear technology for the commercial production of electricity is one of many processes which raises these fundamental questions. The production, transport, use and disposal of many other products calls up the same questions. Indeed, the very number of these products and technologies tempts us to throw up our hands in helpless resignation as we contemplate the difficulties posed by any one of them, but the prospect of a society that does not seek to assure the health and safety of its citizens is too awful to imagine; it goes against every element in our being as humans. It is inevitable that society must respond to our will to live in safety and good health. Safety and health are relative matters, and there is the rub; they are not only relative but difficult to measure, quantify and submit to probability theory.

One thing we know for sure, though, is that the citizens of this country believe in insurance, and any government that overlooks the Canadian preoccupation with ensuring against risk is a government that will not enjoy long life. As a people, Canadians do not like risk, and that is a trait that has been both our curse and our blessing or, as the experts would put it, our cost and our benefit. It has also made us survivors, in the words of one of our best poets. In any case, it may stand us in good stead in a world increasingly swamped by the risks associated with threatening technologies.

Canadians will not accept those risks without good cause, nor will they accept technological risks that could be mitigated by measures to protect health and safety. It is part of our heritage, of our very national character, to insist on as much social insurance as possible, so that our individual family and community life is protected from unnecessary risk.

What does this mean in terms of the select committee’s work on the question of the safety of Ontario reactors? I believe, first of all, that it means the public of Ontario would consider the 24 recommendations of the committee to be obvious and essential steps which government must undertake immediately. In fact, it is both amazing and disturbing that it required a select committee to review the regulation of nuclear safety in a comprehensive way.

I believe that to read through the list of recommendations we have made is to understand the unsystematic nature of current methods of regulating nuclear safety matters. The recommendations are of such a basic, common-sense nature, that it is not reassuring to think they have not already been implemented. They are the very minimum that the public has a right to expect by way of improvements to the safety assurance system for the operation of Ontario reactors.

9:20 p.m.

Beyond the recommendations, the report is of great public interest, because the majority of the committee came to the conclusion, “on the basis of evidence examined so far,” that Hydro’s nuclear reactors are acceptably safe. It is an important conclusion, coming as it does from the only representative group ever to examine the question. It is one that three of us who sat on the committee cannot endorse.

The dissent that we attach to the report on this question outlines our feeling on the subject, but I think it is worth discussing the essence of our concern right here and now for the record of this debate. The fact is that the question -- are Ontario Hydro’s nuclear reactors acceptably safe? -- is one that has a context, and that context is the Ontario hydroelectric system, which is dependent on nuclear reactors in terms of both supply and price. What that means is that although the committee learned of worrying failures to meet standards of availability of major safety systems, incidents of human error, equipment failures and design problems which have not yet been overcome at both the Pickering A and Bruce A reactors, to say at this time that the operation of these reactors is not acceptably safe is to say the Ontario hydroelectric system would lose 5,000 megawatts of capacity, that the reliability of electric supply in Ontario would be placed in jeopardy and that the price of electricity in Ontario would rise significantly.

Given this context for the question, the majority of the committee was unwilling to say that Ontario Hydro’s reactors are not acceptably safe. That is fair enough if the report had provided a careful explanation of the supply and financial constraints that influenced the conclusion of acceptable safety. I, for one, would endorse a conclusion that we accept the operation of Pickering A and Bruce A for the reasons of our current supply and price dependence on those reactors and that we make very clear to the public of Ontario that those are the reasons for our endorsation.

But I do not believe it is adequate to convey to the public the sense that we found the current operations of those reactors to be acceptably safe in that they now meet desirable standards of safety or that we found the current system of safety regulations by Ontario Hydro and the AECB meets desirable standards because that is not the truth. Anyone who reads the report and reviews the recommendations for basic and essential modification in the mechanisms for improving the safety of reactor operation can see we did not think it was the truth.

The report of the committee fails to make this point, and its failure of clarity, in turn, creates the potential for misinterpretation of the committee’s findings, a potential, I should point out, which has already been met by events. Spokespeople for the nuclear industry have repeatedly referred to the findings of the select committee as if our work were a sort of stamp of approval for existing reactors, their operation and the nuclear safety regulatory system. Our recommendations make it very clear. Our work led us to outline 24 essential changes to improve reactor safety, hardly a stamp of approval for the current system.

In addition to lending itself to misinterpretation on current safety of current reactors, the bland phrase “acceptably safe” can and will be used to defend the building of more Ontario reactors. The phrase “acceptably safe,” born in the ambiguity of our current dependence on the nuclear generation of electricity, will become an argument for increasing our dependence on nuclear reactors, making it even more difficult in the future for us to distinguish whether our reactors are acceptably safe because they operate within a safety regulation system that meets desirable standards or whether we call them acceptably safe simply because we have to accept them. We depend on them so totally.

I think it is when we look at the committee consideration of what should happen in the operations of two particular reactors, the nuclear power demonstrator reactor at Rolphton and the Douglas Point reactor at the Bruce site, that we see the grossest inadequacies in the final recommendations of the select committee concerning reactor safety.

Both those reactors were prototype reactors. They produce small amounts of power. They are not an important component of the electric grid and the supply of electricity to Ontario. Both of them have design problems, do not meet current safety standards and have had operational problems. There is no good reason why we should be operating either of those reactors -- certainly not good enough reasons to justify their operation, given the problems we identified as we reviewed them. Just in the last few weeks Ontario Hydro discovered, as it tested containment at Douglas Point for the first time, that containment was not intact at Douglas Point, and they have apparently been doing patchwork to containment at Douglas Point.

Why should we be operating reactors which we don’t need in terms of electric supply, or in terms of helping us to keep down the cost of electricity in this province when we know these reactors do not meet standards that we could, in any way, call acceptable standards? They don’t have desirable operations and they should not be operating.

It was a matter of some disappointment to me, as a member of the committee, that the committee as a whole did not come to a tough conclusion about the need to close down reactors which, by current standards, are inadequate and unacceptable in safety terms. I am also disappointed that the phrase “acceptably safe” has been used in such a loose way in the report that the problems associated with that phrase will continue to haunt us.

I would have wished that the report of the committee had defined very carefully the context in which we considered what was acceptable for safety in the operation of Ontario reactors, had discussed in honest and direct terms our dependence financially in terms of supply on the Pickering A and Bruce A reactors, and had defined those questions in a way that would be more helpful to the Ontario public in its understanding of what our work and what our review has caused us to conclude.

Mr. Speaker, I have been pleased to be able to participate in this debate. Indeed it was a major challenge to take a role in the work of the committee throughout 1979.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. MacBeth): The member for Durham West.

Mr. Conway: Let the record show that some applauded.

Mr. MacDonald: That is only three of five, only 60 per cent of your own group.

Mr. Ashe: That’s the way it goes. It is like the term “acceptably safe.” Some people feel it should be absolute, some people realize the reality of the situation. In any event, I don’t want to be provocative on such an important topic tonight. Whenever I get on my feet, I never attempt to be provocative, so I will keep strictly to the subject.

I think it is very important to recognize the activities of the committee when you consider this particular topic stretched over roughly a full calendar year in deliberations -- not continuous, although I am sure some would have had it continuous, but it did stretch over a long period of time. The committee had the advantage of hearing some 100 witnesses with very diverse, to put it mildly, opinions on the subject, for, against and in the middle, including those of some of the members opposite. I think it was very enlightening.

I would state this frankly and off the top of my head rather than from any great amount of investigation, but I would suggest there has probably never been a committee of this Legislature that has ended up accumulating such a mound of testimony, such a mound of exhibits -- several tons of them -- as the select committee did on this particular topic of nuclear safety. I look at that really with pros and cons. When you look at it in terms of the paper, the paper industry in Ontario was obviously well served.

I am not quite sure that overall the consumers of Ontario Hydro were exceedingly well served when you consider the time and expense there was in getting these documents before the committee in such numbers, but again, you have to weigh some of these pros and cons and I suppose they did balance out.

9:30 p.m.

There is no doubt an abundance of material was made available, I think importantly, and I subscribe and agree with those who have already recognized that this was not only for the benefit of the select committee, but there is no doubt it opened a door that was probably not open before. It did lead Hydro to make all this material public. I also think, probably equally importantly, all of this information is on the public record now and continues to be available to the public, not only in the library at Ontario Hydro but in the library within this particular building.

Although I was not one who thought some of this material should become public, in hindsight at least to date, I don’t see any great negatives that have come out of it, other than the cost and expense involved. I would hope, being a very optimistic person, that there will be nothing but good that will come out of making all this material public and maintaining and updating it as public information over the months and years ahead.

When we look at a committee report of 24 recommendations, I think we all came to the conclusion as to what was the highlight and the main issue the committee dealt with in its deliberations. There is no doubt at all in coming to a conclusions after approximately a year, several tons of exhibits and 100 or so witnesses, that the Ontario Hydro nuclear program in Ontario operated its plants in an acceptably safe way.

The great debate, in my view, is really on that issue. There were some, including myself, we felt “acceptably safe” really wasn’t strong enough. There were others on the other side who felt “acceptably safe” was far too strong. I guess it was on that basis the committee in its wisdom, and I suppose one could say in its compromise, agreed with the term “acceptably safe.” If one looks at the realities of anything -- and I think the member for Halton-Burlington covered that issue to an adequate degree, so I won’t dwell on it -- nothing is completely pure, as some would have us try to suggest.

Mr. Kerrio: Just two of us.

Mr. Ashe: That’s right. You and I. Some witnesses did come before the committee and, in effect, were trying to dig out of the committee, the experts and the nuclear industry a statement that would say, “This industry is absolutely safe and this industry will never have an accident.”

Of course, the purists would try to get to that, knowing full well that anybody who was at all realistic, at all rational and at all honest in what he or she was attempting to put forward could not subscribe to that particular conclusion. Nothing is absolutely safe in this life, right from getting up in the morning and including all the things we do each and every day. I think a very important conclusion we did reach was that nuclear operations were acceptably safe.

As others have done, I would like to quote a brief sentence from the select committee’s report that helped us reach this conclusion. “To reach the conclusion, the committee had to satisfy itself in four areas: the effects of radiation, the safety analysis and research carried out by the industry, the basic design and the lessons learned from examining the incidents at the station that are recorded in abnormal or significant event reports.”

We all have our views as to which of those four were important or more important or less important. They were in my view all important. I guess the main issue that was dwelt upon more than any other in the testimony and in the deliberations of the committee was the varying degrees of acceptance of what we could accept in terms of radiation.

In this regard, I think the committee looked at the varying views of the experts on that issue. We came to the conclusion that the majority of experts believe the risk to human health decreased substantially at low levels; that there is not any significant difference between background levels of radiation throughout the world, and that the human body can adjust because of those variations just in the normality of our every day living.

There is a second view which was considered as the conservative view, which is an excellent word in itself, and which is accepted by most bodies responsible for setting exposure standards, and that is the linear, no-threshold hypothesis view. This was the one that said, “Yes, you should always be aware of it since it does have some effect. Whether it is here or whether it is down to zero, there is some effect.” I know personally, and I guess the majority of the committee were satisfied, that the regulatory body and Ontario Hydro, in implementing those regulations, were being conservative when looking at that particular issue.

There was, of course, a third view expressed, which is held by a very small number of researchers, and that is that the linear, no-threshold hypothesis is not relevant and that there is greater risk at the lower end. I think the committee, and quite correctly in my view, came to the right conclusion on that issue. Again, it is not sure. We really will not know for sure for 30, 40 or beyond 50 years, but if we look at the realities of the marketplace and the realities of the risks we live with every day, the conclusion we reached was the correct one. I think we also agreed and concluded that there was really no absolute proof to suggest that whether you could identify 19.999 per cent of cancer deaths in the world, or 20.0001 per cent of deaths in the world, which is about the normal, there was any distinguishable difference because of radiation because of the nuclear generation program.

Recognizing that is the main issue I would like for a few moments, before putting on the record some of the performances within this field to recognize some of the concerns that I have, and I suppose I could say the government has, on some of the 24 recommendations that the committee brought forth. I do not think they are generally overly serious. I know personally they do not deter me from supporting the report in terms of totality. I have some reservations, but in total I think it was a good report and comes out with a good conclusion.

What are some of the issues that I have a few concerns about? Recommendation three suggests “a council should be formed by the government of Ontario,” et cetera. I will not read it for the sake of time. I think my main concern is the fact that it is creating another body. I think there is general agreement, regardless of one’s political views or leanings that we are governed and bodied to death. I am not really quite sure that a new body is needed and will serve a useful purpose. We now have a federal responsibility through the Atomic Energy Control Board in this area and all in all, although there is no doubt there are diverse opinions on this, it has fulfilled and delivered on its mandate in that regard.

Ontario already has considerable input to the standards through the media of Ontario Hydro and government ministries -- for example, Labour, Environment, Consumer and Commercial Relations regarding boilers, and so on. We already have considerable input without a new committee being set up. I think it is also safe to say that Ontario’s problem is not unique within the industry, although there is no doubt at this time that the Ontario industry is for all practical purposes the total industry in Canada. I do not think that will be the case forever as other jurisdictions also recognize the realities of the marketplace and the benefits from nuclear power.

There is no doubt that we do support that the AECB should be seeking and regularly having words with John Q. Public, hearing his views and, of course, changing any radiation standards that seem necessary at the time.

Recommendation number four, of course, is a followup of that same one: “The first task of the council should be to take on and give high priority to the independent review of the adequacy of current proposed release limits for carbon 14 and tritium.”

9:40 p.m.

We have to recognize that Ontario Hydro, first of all, is recognized as a world leader in looking at this issue. As a matter of fact, it was not by the prompting of the Atomic Energy Control Board but of its own volition that Ontario Hydro addressed the carbon 14 problem. From the expertise they have already developed they are recognized as a world leader in that area. It is not something that has come after the fact; it is something that has come before the fact. Ontario Hydro is well ahead of the committee’s recommendation in that regard.

In terms of tritium in itself, as we all know, it has a relatively short half-life and this again has been dealt with by Ontario Hydro. For example, recent announcements were made by Ontario Hydro in that regard relating to the treatment, if you will, of the possible future tritium problem at Pickering before it even develops. Again, Ontario Hydro has taken the leadership it very rightly should in that particular issue.

The main concern I have personally -- I share it with most of my colleagues -- relates to recommendation number 10, about which I really have an awful lot of concern. That is the one that said the AECB should commission a study to analyse the likelihood and consequences of a catastrophic accident in a Candu reactor. The study should be directed by recognized experts outside the industry and it should be funded by a special grant from the government. If they don’t do it by July past, the Ontario government should do it.

Frankly, I do not think I can come up with any better words than those expressing the dissent of myself and most of my colleagues in that regard. I would like to read into the record the six relatively short paragraphs:

“In our view, based on the extensive, knowledgeable testimony heard by the committee, the undertaking of a substantive and expensive study would probably serve little purpose but to identify the fact that a catastrophic type of accident is possible but highly improbable. The results would, as in the Rasmussen study undertaken in the United States, be widely debated and challenged and would in the end serve little practical purpose except to confirm the consensus of this committee that the reactors are ‘acceptably safe.’

“In any event it is our feeling that further studies deemed necessary by the regulatory authority should be commissioned by that authority. It would in our view be wrong to suggest that the Ontario government should assume responsibility for a study which is clearly within the proper jurisdiction of the federal government and/or its agency.

“During the course of the committee’s hearings, the president of the Atomic Energy Control Board indicated that the board had recognized the need to study further the possible consequences of severe reactor malfunctions and had already taken steps to evaluate same through studies at Carleton University.

“We also heard testimony from AECB, AECL, Ontario Hydro staff and others that to undertake an even more comprehensive study similar to the Rasmussen study in the United States would likely take a number of years to complete and would represent a very major research undertaking.

“In conclusion we do not believe it to be reasonable, or perhaps even practical, to have other than the responsible federal regulatory agency undertake such a study and to assume, thereby, the apparent responsibility for taking any subsequent action on the basis of the results of the study.

“The laws of the government of Canada provide that the AECB be the sole regulatory agency with respect to nuclear reactor safety in Canada.”

I think that that particular dissent was reasonable and responsible, recognized the realities of the issue and the realities of the responsibilities.

The last item about which I have a bit of concern relates to recommendation number 19, that “The AECB should broaden its membership to include representation from the general public as well as the informed technical community.” My only concern about that one really is that if that recommendation is implemented by the federal authorities, and it is in their jurisdiction, of course, they do not go overboard.

I think it is fine if the members of the committee can end up saying, “We are now all experts in the nuclear field.” But if we look deep down into ourselves, we realize we have just scratched the surface. We may delude ourselves into feeling that we know a fair bit about it, but technically we really don’t. I have some concerns about putting into the hand of nonexperts, some of the decisions and some of the guidelines and some of the authority that is now being enacted by the AECB. If they do take this recommendation to heart, and again I want to re-emphasize the fact that it would be their decision and not ours, they should be very careful to not have any imbalance in the expertise that should very rightly be on the board, for my benefit as well as for each and everyone of us.

Those are the four issues out of the 24 with which we have some or varying concerns. All in all, I think the recommendations were reasonable and were adequate.

I will go back for a moment to what I feel is the most important issue covered by the committee, which was coming to the conclusion that the nuclear industry and particularly the nuclear power industry in Ontario as operated by Ontario Hydro was, is and will be acceptably safe. I think that was a very reasonable and responsible conclusion for anybody to reach who looked at the facts and who looked at the record that is there. Let me just quote a little bit of that record on worker safety. I think everybody in this House from time to time is concerned about the worker at his work place. Let us look at some of the highlights:

From 1962 to 1979 in nuclear operations, employees have worked 54.7 million man-hours. There has never been a fatality of a nuclear operations employee at work for any reason. There has been a very low frequency of temporary disabling injuries. Specifically, the frequency has been 2.8 injuries per one million man-hours for the decade between 1970 and 1979 inclusive. No employees have ever been injured due to radiation. There has never been a serious radiation exposure.

The highest whole-body exposure which exceeded the regulatory limit of five rem per annum was an exposure of 7.3 rem. Overexposures to employees are very infrequent, corresponding to 0.29 overexposures per million man-hours work. Nuclear employees have been much safer at work than when not at work. There are statistics to back that up which are outstanding to say the least.

Fatalities per hundred million man-hours for nuclear workers off the job are 8.2, and on the job, zero. Worker safety at nuclear plants has been better than at hydro and at fossil plants, although the safety at all three types has been good. The worker has been safe. What about the public? In that regard, needless to say, we are all concerned. Again, let me cover some of the highlights.

During 72 reactor years of operation in Canada, there has never been a fatality nor has there been an injury of any kind for any reason to a member of the public. There has never been a release of radioactivity from any nuclear generating station which resulted in a measurable dose to any member of the public. The radioactivity risk criteria have been fully met at every station for every year. It is a record which is second to none in the marketplace.

When we look at a program, we look at worker safety, safety to the public, and system reliability. Has it got a good cost- benefit return? Is it reliable? Again, let me cover the highlights.

The lifetime performance of the Candu pressurized heavy water unit has exceeded any other type of nuclear electric station in the world. The Candu gross capacity factor, compared with other 500-megawatt units or larger on a lifetime basis is: Candu, 77 per cent; pressurized water reactors, 57 per cent; boiler water reactor, 55 per cent, and gas-cooled reactors, 45 per cent. The record speaks for itself.

9:50 p.m.

A number of years ago, Ontario Hydro and the Ontario government made a very wise decision as to the electrical future of this province. I am convinced that the deliberations of the select committee vis-à-vis the safety of the Ontario Hydro operations have proved again and again that this was a wise and rational decision that was made. Not only today, but the people of Ontario tomorrow and 10 years and 20 years from now I am sure will benefit :by that wise decision.

The committee’s deliberations were long, the debate was sometimes a little rowdy, the chairman from time to time was called upon to bring it back to order, and rationality came through in the end. The conclusions were the correct ones, and I think the committee fulfilled the mandate that was given to it by this Legislature.

Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the opportunity to join my colleagues in this debate tonight. I recognize that my effervescent friend from Niagara Falls also has words and views to express tonight, as well as my friend from York South and others. I want to leave some time, as I always want to do, to people senior to me. So I shall try to restrict my remarks, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, to some of the specifics of the report before us tonight.

I want to say at the outset my involvement with this committee has been a particularly enjoyable and memorable one. I had the pleasure of joining the select committee on Hydro affairs in July 1979, some three years after it was struck, and I left that committee this past spring, having served on the two references -- the nuclear reactor safety matter and on the nuclear waste management reference that was dealt with in the winter and spring of this year.

In that connection my involvement was spurred on by the concerns and difficulties that were reported as a result of the nuclear power demonstration plant at Rolphton which is located within my constituency. The great electoral district of Renfrew North does contain within its boundaries the atomic energy facilities known as the Chalk River nuclear laboratory and, without any doubt, I have, as a member of the assembly for that part of the province, a very considerable interest in and concern about the current and future condition of our atomic industry.

I do have some very fond memories about our committee’s work in my time -- such as the six hours of steamy discussion that day, July 12, 1979, at Mackenzie High School in Deep River. As I recall, I suggested the meeting take place, and with all candour I might say now on reflection that in the middle of the heat of the day on that occasion I wondered whether it was a wise course of action for me to have recommended.

I remember my friend from Durham East and I in the wilds of Atikokan in the winter of 1980, and this really gave me a new perspective on how and where it is members of the assembly travel on the so-called junket circuit. I felt that our business in Atikokan was an important part of our public responsibility.

I think the member for Durham West pointed out in his remarks that there were some interesting times. It was a joy to go in in the morning and to punch in, as it were, and day after day to be privileged to see the warm and conciliatory approaches of my friends from Durham West and Carleton East, to enjoy the easy-going charm of our friend from Oriole (Mr. William’s) who is not here tonight. Of course, the balanced, moderate and considered opinions of my Liberal colleagues certainly was an important fulcrum on which much of the debate turned. I wouldn’t want to measure the number of cigars our friend the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) supplied to keep us all moderated in some other manner.

Mr. Nixon: And we thought radiation was bad.

Mr. Conway: We sat an awful lot of time in that committee concerned about environmental hazards, but the blue-green-brown haze that was forever emanating from, on the one side, Carleton East and on the other side Fort William, made one wonder where the environmental hazards in this province really originated.

Mr. MacDonald: Thank you very much.

Mr. Conway: The pipe of the chairman is no part of my concern in that connection.

I believe the exercise this particular select committee undertook was an extremely important and valuable one, not only for the public of this province, as others have mentioned, but perhaps more than anything else for the membership of this assembly. I have said repeatedly that one of my very great concerns as an elected official is my ongoing worry about how it is our mandate proliferates, becomes more and more complex, and how at the same time there seems to be an inverse relationship between that particular development in growth and our inability to come to terms with these complexities for which we are elected and for which we are accountable.

I look around the assembly tonight and as we discuss what I believe to be an extremely important matter of provincial policy, what do I see? I see not many more members than those who have had a particular interest in this report. That concerns me because I would like to believe this is the sort of issue that would bring a wider selection of members to the debate. As I say, it is something about which we must all have a concern. I am delighted to have the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) here in full participation tonight. I only wish others from the cabinet were here and I quite frankly wish other parties, and my own for that matter, were more fully represented.

Mr. Nixon: You can see how worried the minister is about the matter.

Mr. Conway: I have said this before, as my friend from York South might remember: The whole Hydro affair has been a troublesome one because it has not been the history of this jurisdiction that the Legislature has ever been able to exercise very meaningful control over that very important public utility. I don’t feel I have been mugged by the mandarins from the utility, although my good friend the deputy minister has from time to time engaged my Ottawa Valley fury, perhaps too much of it for my own good, but we would do well as members of the assembly to try as best we can to exercise the responsibilities we have. Certainly this undertaking, however imperfect, however modest it may have been, I believe was a very important step in a very right direction.

With respect to the main conclusion, I have no difficulty, notwithstanding my conflict of interest, and I don’t dispute it for a moment because, as I said earlier, I do represent a constituency in which the atomic interest is a very significant one. In that sense I suppose I could not be considered neutral, any more so than my friends from Durham West or Durham East, and I mean that in a most benign sense, but I have a particular interest.

One of my reactors -- by that I mean the NDP reactors -- was a matter of great concern in this debate. I think I came to it with an open mind, as open as is possible, and I have no difficulty on the basis of the evidence I heard in affirming the main conclusion of this report which is, as others have indicated, that the Ontario nuclear power reactors are operating in this particular jurisdiction at this particular time acceptably safely.

In so far as other recommendations are concerned, I want to highlight a couple. I certainly believe very strongly, and I know my good friend from eastern Ontario and Carleton East would agree, the doors of the industry have been opened and I think very profitably, and not only for those of us who are supposedly mandated to exercise the responsibility and don’t ever want to be put in the position of our friend the former minister from Prince Edward-Lennox of finding no ability to manage that which is his or our responsibility. Certainly I believe the public access that is spoken of in our first recommendation is and has been an important and positive step.

10 p.m.

I want to say as well that the radiation council spoken of in recommendation number three is something that appeals to me very keenly as, among other things, health critic for the official opposition. I do believe that recommendation is an important one and should be fulfilled.

I listened with great interest, as I always do, to the putative Minister of Energy, my friend from Durham West, when he recited at great length the achievements, the splendour, of his government’s industry, the great utility. A lot of the evidence supports a substantial amount of what he says, but it is not as sweeping surely as he would have us believe.

I am not like my friend from Brant. I don’t have that sort of chemistry background. I have a very poor mechanical understanding. I have avoided that pursuit with good reason, as those members who know me can appreciate. I will leave it to my friend from Brant and to my friend from Carleton East and others who understand the technical complexities far better than I do to arbitrate some of those very special, almost unintelligible to me at least, areas.

However, one area where I felt deeply concerned, where I was not assured by much of the evidence and indeed some of the record, was the area of human weaknesses. I certainly would draw to members’ attention -- those who have not perhaps participated in the select committee activities or, God forbid, have not read the report -- that section at pages 27 and 28 in which the weaknesses in human processes are dealt with. That whole business, and certainly the testimony of people such as Professors Senders and Foley weighed very heavily and meaningfully upon me.

I got a very distinct impression -- I cite page 27: “Clearly the human backup to the physical equipment is vital to the continuing safe operation of nuclear plants. It is in this area that the committee found evidence that Hydro needs to strengthen and improve.” The report goes on to talk about the pressure on plant operators to get or keep a unit going that leads operators to take improper action. It goes on, furthermore, to indicate that there seems to have been or is likely to be a breakdown in the human processes.

Hydro has not followed up on some of the matters that have been brought to its attention and we have recommended in recommendation number seven some ways and means of improving upon that. I certainly support that very strongly because I believe, on the basis of what I heard there, we can improve. That is an area I think the public would want us to improve as quickly as possible.

My friend from York South mentioned, I think in his opening remarks, that “toy” at NPD. I don’t think NPD is a toy. I never have. It is a power demonstration reactor to be sure, one which I think is properly recommended for review in recommendation number nine. It is an old plant; nobody denies that. It is a power demonstration prototype. It needs to be closely monitored. I want to see an up-to-date engineering review which will be made available to the public so that we know precisely what we have there. But I have no difficulty whatsoever, on the basis of the evidence I heard, in continuing the mandate of NPD on a number of grounds, most of them well known to members of the committee.

Certainly with respect to the membership of the Atomic Energy Control Board, I feel again that recommendation number 19 is a proper course of action. Somehow I want to see the regulator in a position -- and I know the member from Brant will want to sit carefully on this -- I want to see that membership either broadened or at least so structured as to have the benefit of a small group of people who are not necessarily technical experts but who might be able to exercise a more broadly based social judgement. I have seen difficulties in my part of the province which owed much less to the way in which the regulator made a technical judgement and owed much more to the poor manner in which it was able to deal with the public. I think the regulator has a responsibility.

I do not hold out a great deal of hope that a completely homogeneous group of specialists from an engineering field or any other specialized field in the atomic community will be very easily able to deal with those farmers from Horton township in Renfrew county or anywhere else who do not have a clue about all the specialized technical niceties, but who are just anxious to be assured of some very basic things and might not be easily assured of that by people whom they see to be very directly related to the industry.

We are not going to solve the problems completely. I do not believe we have realistic expectations we can eliminate that completely, but I certainly think we can improve upon it. It is clearly an unfortunate reality that the regulator is not and has not been seen by the public as a neutral arbiter. There are those in this province who see it rightly or wrongly -- and there is some evidence to indicate it is not all wrongly -- as too close to the industry. I think we have to ensure that the regulator in this critical area is, like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion and not only that. I need perhaps say no more than that, but I want the regulator to be above any suspicion in so far as who is running what is concerned.

In conclusion, I have only one comment to add. I stand here tonight, having left the particular committee of which I was at one time a member, in the position of having changed very little in my view about the important and positive role that atomic or nuclear power has to play in the energy future of this province.

I feel it is an area of high technology that can give this country and this province a considerable amount of energy self-sufficiency. I see it as an extremely important area, as I said earlier, a technological advance for the people of this province in an area in which we can specialize. I think we must, in terms of our national government, improve substantially our record in so far as our international export picture is concerned, because we in Ontario cannot expect to have the kind of diversified atomic industry on our provincial or national market alone.

I believe this assembly has an important role, notwithstanding my strong feeling of support for the atomic industry, but I feel this assembly must be vigilant and must not ever accord uncritical support to an area of this degree of significance to the people of Ontario.

I do want to say I think there is no reasonable person who can disagree with the principal recommendation on the basis of the evidence heard. I want to affirm once again, because I believe it on the basis of what I heard over many months from quite a range of people, that the atomic reactors of this province, including the nuclear power demonstration plant at Rolphton, are operating at an acceptably safe level.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I first want to apologize to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk for the interjection very early in the debate this evening. I was sorry to see the member decided to leave the committee because although he and I seldom agreed on matters of substance, I certainly had to admire his style. The committee lost, I must say, some of its zip and some of its liveliness when he decided not to continue as a member of committee.

I would like to remind my friend the member for Rolphton with regard to Caesar’s wife that Wayne and Shuster coined that memorable line, “Don’t go, big Julie, don’t go.” So if he wants to say that to the nuclear industry, I am in full accord.

10:10 p.m.

Mr. Conway: The member for Halton-Burlington, let the record show, is blushing profusely.

Mr. Foulds: Is he? That would not be a first. He should blush for the position be tried to put before the House on this debate this evening. If ever I have seen a member abandon the environmentalists over an issue, it was that member on this one before this committee during the course of its sittings.

One of the things which disturbs me about all of those who support so strongly and so wholeheartedly the nuclear industry is the retroactivity of their arguments, the way in which they are now scrambling to find arguments to justify the decision which Brampton Billy took in 1972-73 to forge ahead with nuclear power before he had the evidence before him about whether it was acceptably safe or not and before the scientists had demonstrated, as they have not to this day, where you put or what you do with nuclear wastes.

I will make my remarks about nuclear wastes in next week’s debate, Mr. Speaker, and confine myself to the comments with regard to reactor safety I believe the phrase coined and used in the select committee report about the reactors being acceptably safe is a dangerous, a misleading and a mischievous coining of words. It has been used as the dissent of the members of the interim report said it would be used.

Just the other day in Thunder Bay, on the radio, an Ontario Hydro spokesman was saying, first, that the committee had unanimously said the reactors were acceptably safe -- that itself was a false statement -- and second, that there was every reason in the world, therefore, to conclude that Ontario and Ontario Hydro should proceed to the production of 60 per cent of its capacity from nuclear energy. I believe that would be a mistake and I believe it is a mischievous and a misleading way to use the committee’s report.

I think I would have accepted the report more wholeheartedly if we bad used the phrase “acceptably dangerous.” All we can say about reactor safety is that so far we have not had a major accident. That is all we can say -- so far so good, thank goodness. We cannot, as the member for Durham West did, translate that conclusion, which was very narrow about reactor safety, to the whole nuclear cycle. That is what Ontario Hydro, the Ontario government and the nuclear industry are doing in a mischievous, misleading and, I believe, dangerous way.

I believe it is unwise for this province to become any more dependent on nuclear power than it already has because we have too many unanswered questions.

Mr. Bradley: Is the member for or against nuclear power?

Mr. Foulds: Am I for or against? What is the honourable member’s party’s position, does he know?

I think it would have been utter folly and an abdication of the committee’s responsibility if it had not made recommendations such as recommendation 10, which I think is key and important, and had not made recommendations to the federal agency. The federal agency that regulates nuclear power has to regulate the nuclear waste and the nuclear power. That is run at the present time only in Ontario.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, may I be permitted just one or two observations during this discussion? As the Minister of Energy, I want to thank what I suppose we could call the MacDonald committee, the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs, for this very valuable service which it has performed for the people of Ontario. I say that because I think it should be underlined that the work of this committee can be labelled as pioneer work from the stand-point of an overall public legislative review of a very important matter of obvious public concern. I want to thank the committee for its work and for accepting this particular responsibility.

It is obvious that during the course of its hearings the committee has become aware, as members during the course of this discussion have shared with us tonight, of the frequent and, in some cases, almost the multifaceted contacts that are obviously the hallmark of the methods by which Hydro and the AECB review all of the aspects of the safety of the Candu system as it is operated within our province. Obvious appreciation of these intricate relationships during the course of the hearings was a difficult and time-consuming responsibility which, to the great credit -- and I underline the great credit -- of the committee members themselves has been pursued with a great sense of public responsibility.

In doing this, the members of this committee have provided a great service in bringing to the attention of the public the multifaceted review program in a more understandable way, as indicated by my friend from Halton-Burlington, by having the opportunity to articulate and provide in language that could be understood by the people of Ontario, where obviously the accountability is, the evidence from which they could have some assurance and some comfort with respect to matters relative to health and safety. The committee and its report should be seen as a very significant and a very desirable contribution to such public dialogue.

May I point out that the select committee’s finding that our reactors are acceptably safe has been a valuable contribution to the advancement of our nuclear program, the expansion of which is obviously receiving widespread support in the province. As members of the House will recall, it was just in August that a group of 21 scientists, representing universities from across the province, presented a position paper to the provincial government entitled “A Low Risk Energy Future for Ontario.” This paper represented months of study and recommended that the Ontario government pursue a policy of strong growth of the provincial electrical system with particular emphasis, as members will recall, on nuclear generation.

Mr. Foulds: You are blushing as much as the member for Halton-Burlington.

Ms. Gigantes: Have you read Goldfarb? You paid Goldfarb for nothing.

Hon. Mr. Welch: May I go on to quote from the position paper during the few minutes that are allowed to me to proceed, I hope in an uninterrupted way, as I continue to pay tribute to the committee. I am not quoting from the report, in case I didn’t mention that.

“With the success of the nuclear power program, Ontario has the opportunity to produce electrical energy in an environmentally acceptable and economic manner and to do so through an almost fully indigenous industry.” Furthermore, it stated that the development of such a strong and dependable electrical system with supplies assured far into the future will be a strong attraction to industry to locate in Ontario with both short term and continuing benefits, including the development and the introduction of new technologies.

Was it not Dr. Arthur Porter very recently in his submission to the House of Commons special committee on alternative energy and oil substitution -- just last month, I think -- who stated unequivocally: “It is incumbent upon me to stress that the more I examine the nuclear power option and its role in the generation of electricity as a substitute for oil, the more convinced I am that it must achieve a much more central role in providing the world’s energy needs than presently anticipated”?

10:20 p.m.

I’m sure it is strong support indeed. I’m sure our recently honoured mother would agree. It is strong support indeed, from a man who, as an impartial investigator, has examined Ontario Hydro’s entire operation in the greatest detail in its history.

Mr. J. Reed: That statement cost you $5 million.

Hon. Mr. Welch: The member for York South felt investments of that magnitude perhaps were absolutely essential in order to get that type of public support. As Minister of Energy for Ontario, responsible by way of accounting to the House for the activities of Hydro, I find this type of support quite gratifying.

The main concern of the government of Ontario, a concern shared by every member of this House, is and must always be to act in the best interests of the people of Ontario. The select committee has provided further evidence that in the area of nuclear power, both in terms of energy and in terms of social implications, Ontario Hydro and the government are working in the best interests of the people of this province. I pay tribute to the members of the MacDonald committee for bringing this matter to our attention.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, now that we’ve retired Ken Taylor, I think there are many people plugging for a job in the diplomatic corps. I would nominate the member for Brock as the number one candidate, if we were going to place him in that role.

This is probably one of the most significant subjects we will address in this Legislature. One of the things that has become very apparent to me over all the months we’ve been sitting and getting probably the foremost physicists in America, and in all probability, the world, before our select committee, in that for every expert that you bring who would make a point, you could bring another expert who would be diametrically opposed.

I suppose in the final analysis, while we look to those very learned people to help us, they may be somewhat less able to make such decisions as they relate to nuclear power and those new involvements of mankind that are beyond the comprehension of the average citizen. While we look to those people for some kind of direction, it becomes obvious to me that for every one who has a commitment on one side, you could bring another one who has a commitment that is directly opposed.

Ultimately, the decision is made by those of us who stand and speak and vote in this legislative assembly. It becomes very disturbing in the sense that you could nearly discount all the experts, because if you could bring one to bear on each side of an issue it becomes impossible to make a determination on the basis of a consensus of the experts.

I say, with respect, that ultimately the decision is ours. If that is the case, what the Minister of Energy has just put on the record may be looked at with just a little bit of question. We would look on our scene as not being Great Britain, or Japan, which has very limited ability to look in other directions and has to go to these modern concepts of importing coal or some nuclear commitment. We have alternatives we have refused to face.

When the member for Durham West got up and talked about the percentage of on-stream power development of a nuclear reactor, it pales into insignificance when you relate it to a hydraulic generating station. Thereto is no comparison whatsoever. It comes as a surprise to me that those people -- Tories all -- who would stand and talk about free enterprise in that way, swell their chests out and talk about a socialistic involvement that turns me right off. If they want to talk about Hydro turning them on, that involvement of the Tories with Hydro turns me right off because I think they have gone too far.

There have been many areas that have not been open to people with a great deal of incentive and a great deal of real feeling about putting something on stream that is independent, free-enterprise and meaningful. No, they have not seen fit to do that. They have allowed this monster of Hydro to grow so big it spills out beyond this whole legislative assembly. It is bigger than all of us. It has been proven by members before this Minister of Energy who sits with us tonight. It may prove bigger than he. He may join that long list of people who thought they could bring this monster to heel, but never has it happened.

In any event, I have a very strong feeling about this, coming as I do from that free-enterprise sector that did not look to government for any kind of help, making it on our own. In fact, in this Legislature I am probably one of the only people who has ever bid for an involvement with a nuclear plant. I say that with respect. I have bid on a heavy water recovery system in the nuclear reactor at Douglas Point. I did not get the contract; I just happened to be second. But that does not matter with a government-operated section that is Socialist, strictly Socialist. I do not concur with that Ontario Hydro involvement that is in direct competition with the private sector.

But that is something else. The fact is that I concur with nuclear involvement but only as an alternative after we exploit all of the hydraulic power, all of the saving that might be made, all of the things that we could do before we make a commitment to this huge involvement with nuclear reactors because the nuclear reactor is a real contradiction.

I have yet to see any kind of salesman who could not sell what some people claim is the best of something, be it an automobile, a threshing machine or a Candu reactor. There is something strange about the whole scheme of things when there are those who stand in their place, like the member for Durham West, and tell us what a great reactor the Candu is. It is better than anything else in the world, but even at a loss we cannot sell them. This is very strange.

The fact remains that we have a couple of levers that those people, who should be good business people but prefer to be socialistically involved, would not use. If we had good business judgment in this country we could sell Candu reactors. We would sell them by telling those people who want to generate by the nuclear route that they not only would get a reactor from this country but could get the fuel. But that is not what is going to happen.

Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr. Kerrio: I beg your pardon.

Mr. Speaker: Again, you have had it.

Mr. Kerrio: That is twice today now, Mr. Speaker. I will wind up very briefly by suggesting that unless we get all levels of government co-operating -- we are on the track now with the Premier and the Prime Minister; we have a start. If we could get them to react so that we would supply the uranium to the Candu reactor and tell the Japanese they could not buy our uranium unless they buy our reactor, then we would sell Candu.

Report adopted.

Mr. Speaker: That leaves one thing unresolved: item two, the need for electrical capacity. I understand that will be scheduled for another time.

The House adjourned at 10:31 p.m.