Bill C-23 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Canada Marine Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Pilotage Act and other Acts in consequence
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.
Lawrence Cannon Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.
This enactment amends the Canada Marine Act to clarify and make technical changes to certain provisions. As well, the amendments
(a) modify the Act’s purpose;
(b) modify a port authority’s access to federal funding;
(c) add provisions regarding the power of a port authority to borrow money;
(d) provide additional regulatory powers to the Governor in Council;
(e) add provisions regarding port amalgamation;
(f) modify provisions regarding the appointment of directors of port authorities; and
(g) add a penalty scheme and streamline certain other enforcement provisions.
The amendments also include transitional provisions, corrections to other Acts and consequential amendments to other Acts.
- May 6, 2008 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
June 18th, 2008 / 3:25 p.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord--Chapter 23
Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Judges Act--Chapter 26
Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day--Chapter 27
Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act--Chapter 30
Business of the House
May 8th, 2008 / 3:05 p.m.
Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform
Mr. Speaker, the government took a major step forward this week to maintain a competitive economy, our theme for this week, and I am happy to advise the House that yesterday the Standing Committee on Finance agreed to report the budget implementation bill back to the House by May 28.
This is excellent news. The budget bill ensures a balanced budget, controls spending, and invests in priority areas.
Today, we are debating a confidence motion on the government’s handling of the economy. We fully expect, notwithstanding the minority status of our government, that this House of Commons will, once again, express its support for the government’s sound management of Canada’s finances and the economy.
Tomorrow, will we continue with maintaining a competitive economy week by debating our bill to implement our free trade agreement with the countries of the European Free Trade Association. It is the first free trade agreement signed in six years and represents our commitment to finding new markets for the goods and services Canadians produce.
If there is time, we will also debate Bill C-14, which would allow enterprises choice for communicating with customers; Bill C-7, to modernize our aeronautics sector; Bill C-32, to modernize our fisheries sector; Bill C-43, to modernize our custom rules; Bill C-39, to modernize the Grain Act for farmers; and Bill C-46, to give farmers more choice in marketing grain.
The government believes strongly in the principle of democracy and the fundamental importance of human rights. Next week we will show our support for that with strengthening democracy and human rights week. The week will start with debate on Bill C-30, our specific land claims bill. The bill would create an independent tribunal made up of superior court judges to help resolve the specific claims of first nations and will, hopefully, speed up the resolution about standing claims.
We will debate Bill C-34, which is our bill to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement. We will debate our bill to provide basic rights to on reserve individuals, Bill C-47, to protect them and their children in the event of a relationship breakdown, rights that off reserve Canadians enjoy every day.
As I said, we are committed to strengthening democracy in Canada. Yesterday, I had an excellent discussion on Senate reform with members of the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee. That discussion will continue in this House next week when we debate our bill to limit the terms of senators to eight years from the current maximum of 45, as foreseen in Bill C-19.
We will also debate our bill to close the loophole used by leadership candidates to bypass the personal contribution limit provisions of the election financing laws with large, personal loans from wealthy powerful individuals and ensure we eliminate the influence of big money in the political process.
With regard to the question about estimates, there are, as the opposition House leader knows, two evenings that must be scheduled for committee of the whole in the House to deal with those estimates. Those days will be scheduled over the next two weeks that we sit so they may be completed before May 31, as contemplated in the Standing Orders.
There have been consultations, Mr. Speaker, and I believe you would find the unanimous consent of the House for the following:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, on Friday, May 9, starting at noon and ending at the normal hour of daily adjournment, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.
May 8th, 2008 / 11 a.m.
Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
My officials and I are here today to discuss the 2008-09 main estimates for the transport, infrastructure, and communities portfolio. This is my third opportunity to appear before this committee and to deliver the main estimates. Since my first appearance, significant progress has been made within the portfolio. As you know, it is a wide-ranging portfolio that brings together Transport Canada, Infrastructure Canada, and 16 crown corporations.
In this portfolio we continue to tackle some of the most important issues facing Canada today, including the productivity of our economy, transportation safety and security, environmental sustainability, and the quality of life in our cities and communities, as supported by public infrastructure.
Members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities have made important contributions in each of these areas, and I'd like to take this opportunity at the outset to thank you for your active involvement in the legislative agenda and the number of important policy decisions and questions that have an impact on the portfolio.
Specifically, I'd like to thank the members of the committee for its study of Bill C-23, which modifies the Canada Marine Act. The proposed amendments will strengthen the operating framework of Canada port authorities, helping to build a stronger and more competitive marine sector. Also key was the committee's participation in the study of rail safety and the subsequent amendments to the Railway Safety Act.
I also thank the committee for its consideration of the future role of the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the NWPA. We believe that the NWPA, one of the oldest pieces of legislation in Canada, needs to reflect current economic needs and respond to the increased volume and variety of uses of Canada's waterways. I look forward to working with you as we move forward on this and other issues central to transportation and infrastructure in Canada.
Over the past year, this government has made serious investments in transportation and infrastructure throughout Canada. In doing so, we are improving the quality of life of Canadians, and making Canada more competitive on the world stage.
As you know, we are moving forward on Canada's biggest infrastructure program ever. The Building Canada Infrastructure Plan is $33 billion worth of investments in matters that are important to Canadians, such as the environment, the economy and stronger and better communities.
Our plan provides an unprecedented, long-term, predictable investment that will allow provinces, territories and communities to plan for the future. In fact, more than half of the funding—$17.6 billion, to be exact—is going to municipalities through the 100 per cent GST rebate and the Gas Tax Fund, to modernize Canada's infrastructure.
It is expected that Building Canada, with other levels of government and funding partners, will generate at least $50 billion in new investments. Since the Prime Minister launched the Building Canada Plan last November, we have made significant progress in implementing this plan. We have signed framework agreements with eight provinces and territories, and we are well advanced and close to concluding agreements with the remaining provinces.
And, we are investing the gas tax in over 2,000 community projects.
Under Building Canada, we are making early progress through priority investments across Canada. These investments support a more productive economy, such as our $100 million commitment to improve highways in New Brunswick, and a cleaner environment. As you know, we have announced $1 billion in funding for public transit across the Greater Toronto area to reduce gridlock.
We are also making key investments to support the delivery of clean drinking water, such as the $50 million investment in the Huron Elgin London Clean Water Project in Southern Ontario.
We are supporting more liveable communities—such as the $40-million investment in the Centre of Sport Excellence in Calgary, and the $8-million contribution for the cultural precinct, Quartier des Spectacles, in Montreal.
In addition to the Building Canada plan, we continue to take action in each transportation mode. With respect to public transit, we brought investments to $1 billion per year, and in budget 2008 we've set aside $500 million to support capital investments, through the public transit capital trust.
In the rail sector, we passed Bill C-8, protecting rail shippers from potential abuse of market power by railways. We also began a review of rail freight service and signed two memorandums of understanding with the Railway Association of Canada. The first enhances the security of rail transportation in Canada, and the second addresses the issue of railway emissions. Both underscore the central role of railways to trade in Canada.
We are also making significant gains in the air sector. We are very encouraged by the progress that has been made in the year since we launched “Blue Sky”, and the momentum for more liberalized air travel continues to build.
Last June, when Prime Minister Harper met his European colleagues at the Canada-European Summit, the leaders agreed to launch negotiations for a comprehensive air services agreement between Canada and the European Union.
I am very happy to report to this committee that one year after the launch of “Blue Sky”, the third round of negotiations has begun in Brussels. This is good news for travellers and for the travel industry.
In the marine sector, as I mentioned previously, with your assistance we have moved ahead with amendments to the Canada Marine Act. I was also happy last month to announce that the Government of Canada is providing $101 million over five years to help Marine Atlantic Inc. acquire a charter vessel that will address increasing traffic to and from Newfoundland and Labrador.
We've made progress in building a more sustainable transportation system as well, and we must. Transportation accounts for about 25% of all Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. That's why we're moving forward with national fuel consumption regulations for new cars and light trucks. It's also why we're moving ahead in key areas of our ecoTransport strategy, which covers all modes of transportation.
We are also working with our provincial and territorial colleagues to improve our environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by delivering clean water, green energy, and cleaning up contaminated sites.
Honourable Members, this is the work we are currently doing and, as you can see, we have accomplished much together. But much more work yet remains. That is why I am asking you today to recommend that Parliament approve the spending in the Main Estimates that were tabled by the President of the Treasury Board on February 28.
The 2008-2009 Main Estimates for the portfolio, which total $4.544 billion, include $1.032 billion for Transport Canada and $2.456 billion for the Office of Infrastructure Canada. The remainder of the funding is allocated to the various Crown corporations.
Because we don’t have time to go into all the numbers, I would instead like to briefly discuss the two major components of this portfolio—Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada.
For Transport Canada, the 2008-2009 Main Estimates—$1.032 billion—show a net increase of $173.3 million from the $859 million level in the 2007-2008 Main Estimates. The $173.3 million net increase is due to increases of $293.5 million for new initiatives, and changes to ongoing programs that are offset by $120.2 million in decreases in funding for the winding down of programs and government-wide reductions.
Of the $1.032 billion, 9.7 per cent—or $100.1 million—is for flow-through payments, including: $54.9 million for the Confederation Bridge; $41.9 million for the St. Lawrence Seaway; and, $3.3 million for the Victoria Bridge.
The remaining resources of $932.2 million, combined with respendable revenue of $345.6 million, represent a $1.28-billion budget that is available to the department to cover the following expenses: $471.7 million for grants and contributions programs; $382.5 million for personnel costs; $278.3 million for other operating costs; $78.2 million for capital; and, $67 million for employee benefit plans.
Let me now turn to the Infrastructure portion of this portfolio.
The total funding being sought is $2.456 billion, a net increase of $437.8 million from the $2.018 billion in the 2007-2008 main estimates. The $437.8 million net increase is due to the greater spending on infrastructure programs, and in particular I would like to mention $327.8 million for the provincial-territorial infrastructure base funding program, for the second year of this program, and a $197.5 million increase for the gas tax fund, which steps up in total from $800 million to close to $1 billion this year.
These increases were offset to some degree by decreases in funding for programs where most of the commitments were made in previous years.
Of course the estimates also provide for funding needed for the operations of the department and for the delivery of its programs in the amount of $37.5 million.
As Minister, I have a number of other portfolio responsibilities that do not require any appropriations from Parliament and are therefore not displayed in the Estimates. They include: the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund; the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority; the Pacific Pilotage Authority; the Atlantic Pilotage Authority; the Laurentian Pilotage Authority; the Blue Water Bridge Authority; Ridley Terminals Inc.; the Royal Canadian Mint and Subsidiaries; and, Canada Lands Company Ltd.
Honourable Members, my limited time today does not allow me to go into detail regarding all the items on this list. However, I believe the numbers I have presented today demonstrate the importance this government places on the priorities we have identified under this portfolio.
Mr. Chairman, I welcome the Committee’s questions on our overall approach, or on any of the specific measures contained in these estimates.
May 8th, 2008 / 10:35 a.m.
Commissioner of Official Languages, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
The House resumed from May 5, consideration of the motion that Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Marine Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Pilotage Act and other Acts in consequence, be read the third time and passed.
Canada Marine Act
May 5th, 2008 / 1 p.m.
Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate, having worked on the committee to ensure that the bill would provide the detail and implementable advantages that it purported to do when it was first presented. As a member of Parliament one has to assume a certain sense of responsibility. One has to examine the intent of the legislation, question the minister, probe the bureaucracy, and then go out into the field and consult with those who are going to be first and foremost impacted by the legislation. Without undue modesty, I did all three.
As a concession to a new member of the NDP, we asked at the very last meeting dealing with Bill C-23 if we could have more detail for that new member, and I see that the member is paying attention so that is good. That member was invited to bring forward new witnesses with proposed amendments. The only people he was able to come up with were the ones we have talked about, such as people involved with Community Air who came as individuals, and a councillor who came as an individual. As for amendments, I know that listeners cannot see, but when I put my index finger and my thumb together, it forms a zero. There were none. When the member says that there are people who rejected amendments, I am still at a loss to understand which amendments were presented that were rejected. There were none.
I come back to the concept of what the legislation was intended to do.
I have great respect for all members of Parliament who come here to represent the views of their citizens. They come here to address the issues that are germane to the growth of Canada. A parliamentarian of great note thanked his constituents for voting him in as their representative but he also said that he was now a member of the Parliament of Canada.
As a member of the Parliament of Canada, each and every one of the members on that committee looked at all the port authorities to see what they needed in order to become viable commercial entities capable of meeting the challenges of the economies of tomorrow.
As a member of the former government, I said that at least from its intent the legislation was worthy of consideration. We will see if it is worthy of support. I said it and I might have been selfish, but indulge me for a moment. When I was in government with my cabinet colleagues and my caucus colleagues, we fashioned a policy that we thought would enhance the future of Canada and all Canadians. Whether they lived in downtown Toronto, Yukon or Atlantic Canada, it did not matter. The policy was designed to ensure that we would have gateways of access and success in the west, in central Canada and in Atlantic Canada. We thought we were all-encompassing.
We had provisions in place for all of those ports that some might say are northern ports, those which the coastal areas of Atlantic Canada and British Columbia might think of as secondary ports, but they are very important ports. More important for all of Canada, we wanted to position the port authorities such that they would be able to meet the challenges of the economies that were beginning to develop everywhere around the world.
At the very first instance we asked if these ports were commercially viable. Some ports are bigger than others. We divided them into two tiers. It is no secret that the first three are Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax. We put in a cutoff of $25 million. Those ports do that amount of business. They are the ports that will be the fulcrum for transportation around the world.
There are other ports, tier two, which are equally significant,perhaps locally, but they are not the hubs around which spokes will be developed. We recognize that. However, that does not mean they should not be prepared to take advantage of the vagaries of commerce. We could dispense with them, move them over to one side, eliminate them, say they have no value, and then watch as their communities languish while commerce takes a look someplace else. We thought that would not be responsible for Canadians and so we said that we needed to make sure that some of these ports can amalgamate.
Quite frankly, the ports in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia needed to have one authority for efficiency and effectiveness purposes. They needed to be able to make the investments in their infrastructure so that they could receive commerce from the interior of Canada, the interior of the continent, and make sure that it could be expeditiously shipped to those ports and those markets in the Orient and southeast Asia and along the western coast of Canada and down along, I guess we would call it, the eastern Pacific rim.
In order to do that, we had to give those ports the legislative authority to amalgamate; to ensure that they could borrow on the open market commensurate with their commercial ability; and to be like other corporate entities, capable of accessing government advantages through infrastructure programs as an example, or through other programs that would give them the advantage that all Canadians would expect of any of their organizations that would be directed to enhancing the Canadian livelihood, the standard of living and the quality of life. That is what we all intended to do.
We sought witnesses from all sectors of the economy and society, and indeed governments, as my colleague from Yukon said, from all orders of government, one might say from all levels of government, but all governments interested. We sought their advice. We sought the advice of those in the industry and the businesses, the port authorities that came before us. We asked them where the deficiencies were in the legislation, what they needed to do. We invited everyone. It may be that others might not have heeded the call. It is rather unfortunate. But we took that extra step; we went out and sought the advice of those who would be impacted.
It is interesting. For example, the former speaker concentrated everything on Toronto. I am a citizen of Toronto. I have lived all of my life there. I am a specialist. I went there and got all of my education over and over again so that I could say, yes, I am from Toronto. I hold no place higher than anyone else, but I will not take a second position to anyone else about how my city has developed, should develop and what is important for its citizens whom I have been proud to represent for these last almost 20 years. I have learned in those 20 years that somebody can make a distinction between the spin indicated for a particular purpose and good sound public policy.
Here I am as the transport critic for the official opposition supporting a piece of government legislation that has gone through all of the appropriate filters, examinations and critiques. As I indicated, I avowed very early it is because it was generated by the former government of which I was a member.
This is a happy confluence of two different parties, two different governments, recognizing the import of this bill for all of Canada. In fact, even the Bloc Québécois on that committee said that this bill was good for transportation policy, irrespective of the colour of the party in power. Surely that has to be the test of good legislation. I do not think the government can take full credit for it. Nor am I reaching back into the past to say that it is ours and that is why we are doing it. Nor do our colleagues in the Bloc say that it is their legislation and they will put their brand on it.
This is something where, collectively, members of Parliament came from the various regions of the country. As I indicated at the beginning of my discussion, they were elected as representatives of their people, but they came here to become members of Parliament. That meant they assumed the obligation to see everything from the prism of the public good.
Three of the four parties in the House support this legislation, wholeheartedly, after having gone through the appropriate examination and underscoring the fact that we were talking about strengthening the commercial viability, the ability to borrow and the governance models of all these ports. I hearken to point out that each and every one of these ports has representatives from the communities in which they are located, representatives who are suggested and recommended by the municipalities in which they are located.
Yes, they must finally receive the stamp of approval of the then minister of transport, but even in my own city, that port authority has representatives from the municipality, the province and the federal authority. All three orders of government are represented in a port authority, which number one objective must be to ensure that if there are advantages to be gained from commerce to be shipped through the Great Lakes, some of it be resident in the area of Toronto.
One might ask how big a port is it. Despite all the criticisms, it ranks, according to Transport Canada and according to the volume of operating revenue, number eight in the country. It is not bad for a port that is not supposed to be doing anything. Only 10 other significant ports rank below it. What we have seen over the course of this last little while is the ebb and flow of commerce, the value of commodities that are shipped from the interior of our great country to other parts of the world, is making its way through a transportation system in which various ports are key.
For example, I think of the great port of Thunder Bay, which at one time was the second most important inland port in all of Canada, second only to Montreal. It has suffered some decline partly because a lot of the materials, a lot of the commodities, minerals as well as lumber has been shipped out west through the port of Vancouver, now Prince Rupert.
This does not mean that all the investment Canadian governments before us made in building a seaway to ensure all the products were produced in the centre of Canada, my province being most significant in this regard, would come through a St. Lawrence Seaway system, of which the port of Toronto is a very important element. However, it is not the only port in the Great Lakes Seaway system. We have seen more and more investments in the port of Montreal. It has begun to flourish in a way that people had not anticipated.
One can be morose, critical or shortsighted and say that we should forget all those 19 major ports throughout the country because those people in one port city of the country might be interested only in the land development side of the port authority. Therefore, we should forget about the flow of commerce, transportation and goods from the markets, which are particularly Canadian, out to an export environment where they will enhance the standard of living of all Canadians.
Happily, the majority of members of Parliament in the House do not have that same disposition. Happily, members of Parliament recognize their obligation to the Canadian common weal. Happily, we have saner minds in the House that are prepared to take a look at what must be done.
What must be done includes not only those gateways to central and western Canada, but to all those ports that provide the world with an avenue into Canada, coming from the Atlantic ports, of which Halifax is the largest and is the most commercially viable. However, it is not the only one.
We have a tendency to focus on all those that are of great interest to us. I have a particular soft spot in my heart for the port of Halifax. It is the port which received me when I first came to this country. It is a wonderful place. I am surprised we have not made much more of Halifax than it currently is, but it ranks as either the best or the second best. It is among the top three natural ports, natural harbours in the entire world.
The port of Halifax is a gateway for everything that could come from Europe and Africa. The most logical place for all that commerce to come in through is either Halifax or Saint John. In fact, there are others, but Halifax is by far the biggest. Through it, we could build that kind of an infrastructure, that kind of a network, which would enhance the economic viabilities of so many communities throughout all of Canada.
Bill C-23 speaks to the importance of marine ports. The fact is, Mr. Speaker, and you know this better than others because of where you come from, all those marine ports are tied to a road and rail infrastructure that spreads out in a network through the rest of the marketplace, which is North America. There are none that are better positioned to do that, in my view, than Halifax or mainland Vancouver, Nanaimo, Prince Rupert, Fraser River Valley and Montreal.
There are other ports, but those hubs ought to give Canada the advantage that other countries naturally cannot enjoy. Therefore, we have been gifted by the bounty of geography and the good Lord, some might say, and we should take advantage of it.
I come from a city that is one of the most advantaged in the world. I am not anxious to see us lose one of those elements that give us this great advantage, even if, over the course of the last several years, we have allowed it to slip into an inferior position relative to others. However, such is the competition among Canadians that the competition among these port cities and port societies all enhance the livelihood of the citizens they serve. They might serve most directly those with which they are adjacent, but they serve the larger Canadian advantage that all of us share and advocate when we run for office.
Members in the House sometimes might put partisan advantage and partisan diatribe ahead of our obligation as members of Parliament. While I am capable of engaging in that kind of dialogue and would reserve it for fun moments, for serious moments like this one, I call on all members of Parliament to do what I know my caucus will do, and that is support a bill that is absolutely focused on ensuring the Canadian advantage is maintained by giving port authorities good governance and access to loans and an opportunity to enhance the infrastructure for greater commercial viability down the road.
My colleagues on the committee all felt that way. Those who did the work, appreciate this most. Those who appreciate this most, will support it. Those who support it, know that its intent is good. This is what the Liberal Party will do and it will vote for it.
Canada Marine Act
May 5th, 2008 / 12:50 p.m.
Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON
Mr. Speaker, speaking about misleading, the Conservative government consults but it does not listen.
The City of Toronto actually has put forward two motions that have said very clearly that the Toronto Port Authority must be returned to the citizens of Toronto, that it should be disbanded. That motion was very clear. It was supported. It was voted on democratically. It was submitted as evidence to the transport committee.
The Conservative and Liberal members of Parliament choose not to look at facts and the black and white motions from the city of Toronto. Then they say they have consulted everybody. A lot of municipalities say they want to see local councillors on these port authorities, but no, port authorities cannot have local councillors. Perhaps they are not very accountable. That is why they do not want elected representatives on these bodies that have a say over how funds are used and how lands are used, lands that are supposed to be for all Canadians, not for the chosen few, the big corporations, the elite and the most powerful. These lands are supposed to be for all Canadians, but they have no say.
No city councillors are allowed to be on any of the port authorities. However, if one is a friend of the Conservative government, if one used to work for a former finance minister in the Harris government or a few of the Conservative MPs, one can be appointed to the Toronto Port Authority, for example. They have control over these lands. They have control. What kind of accountability are we talking about? What kind of democracy are we talking about? What kind of consultation are we talking about? How is the Conservative government listening to the people of Toronto?
No wonder there are no Conservative MPs from the city of Toronto. Over and over again, it has not been listened to. A local councillor, Mr. Adam Vaughan, was a witness for Bill C-23 and said he was very opposed to this bill. Guess what? He was shouted down. He was told that perhaps he did not really represent the City of Toronto and that perhaps he did not really represent the citizens of Toronto. I am sorry, but Mr. Vaughan was elected and there is absolutely no reason to say that the citizens have not--
Canada Marine Act
May 5th, 2008 / 12:35 p.m.
Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON
Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is misleading the public about the impacts of changes to the Marine Act through Bill C-23.
If anyone opposite wonders why cities are so upset with the Conservative government, they need to look no further than this bill which will further reduce infrastructure funding for cities. Moreover, it changes the governance regulations for port authorities, like the unaccountable, unelected and undemocratic Toronto port authority.
Currently, port authorities are legislated to be self-sustaining. They are not supposed to depend on the federal government for handouts or subsidies.
The government is ramming through a bill and has opposed all of the NDP amendments which would allow the Toronto port authority, and other port authorities, to apply for federal infrastructure funds desperately needed by cities like Toronto and others across Canada. It also would extend the terms of the board of directors, decrease the size of the board, and make the port authorities even less accountable.
The Liberals do not even bat an eyelash. They simply roll over and are letting the Conservatives pass the bill to avoid public scrutiny. They together in fact oppose hearings at committee, hearings that Parliament could conduct across Canada so that we could hear from municipalities and citizens about the bill. That was opposed even though the NDP proposed it during the debate at committee.
It is too bad that the 20 members of the House elected from Toronto in the Liberal Toronto caucus will not listen to the city councillors, the mayor and advocates for our city. They have said that the bill is bad for our ridings, bad for our economy, and will not do anything to fix Toronto or any other city's crumbling infrastructure. It is too bad these MPs are afraid to face the good citizens of Toronto.
The bill is a clear signal that the Conservatives cannot be trusted to give cities what they need to grow and prosper in the 21st century. On the weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday, across Canada and especially in Toronto there were Jane Jacobs walks. Of course, people know that Jane Jacobs is a renowned urban philosopher, a planner, and it is her version of cities that are world renowned.
She urges Canadians and Parliament to close a dangerous Trojan horse down. What she is talking about is of course the Toronto port authority. Why? Because the port authority was imposed by the former government, the Liberals, against the wishes of Torontonians. It was formed through changes in the Marine Act in 2001.
In downtown Toronto we have 100,000 people living at the Toronto waterfront and another 100,000 who will work there when all the developments are finished. The Toronto official website says:
Toronto's waterfront is our front porch to the world. With the right kind of investment, the waterfront will become a necklace of green, with pearls of activity; people living, working and enjoying it with pride and passion.
The Toronto port authority vision, on the other hand, is to create an industrial strip dominated by an airport. These two visions are obviously incompatible. Instead of a strip of green with 215 acres of land, we now have an airport and planes flying out creating about 2,865 kilograms of CO2 pollution in the air. It certainly is not the vision of a clean, green waterfront.
Jane Jacobs is not alone. Another very famous Torontonian was Allan Sparrow, who unfortunately passed away from cancer last week. Mr. Sparrow was the founder of a group called Community AIR, with 2,000 members in Toronto. It has been pushing the federal government to put the port authorities back into the hands of the citizens.
As a former Toronto city councillor, Allan Sparrow inspired a generation of reform-minded progressives with his ahead of his time thinking about our environment. He dreamed of a clean and livable city that all could enjoy. His role in shaping the Toronto we know and love today should not be forgotten. His legacy will live on in the movements that he inspired, such as closing the Toronto Island Airport and, of course, promoting a clean and livable waterfront community.
I want to talk about the contrast between the Toronto Port Authority and Allan Sparrow's vision. He said:
As for the ongoing battle over the future of the Island Airport lands, some things never change. The privileged and civically disengaged will continue to pollute and degrade Toronto's waterfront with their “save a few minutes at all costs” life style...at the end of the day, the larger community will prevail, but not without struggle.
Why is the Toronto downtown waterfront important? I want to talk about the neighbourhood that surrounds the waterfront. The waterfront communities, through Allan Sparrow, designed the beautiful St. Lawrence neighbourhood as a new, model downtown community at that time. It embraced a mix of affordable and market priced housing, centred on a park and community recreation centre. There were non-profit projects. Whether people are young or old, they enjoy living there. It is the same thing in the Harbourfront area with the Harbourfront Community Centre. This has happened all along the waterfront.
What Mr. Sparrow was particularly good at was that as a businessman he looked at the business case of the Toronto Port Authority and at its financial statements. He was very clear that in 2006, for example, the financial statements of the Toronto Port Authority showed that it made $5 million in revenue but spent $5.2 million to operate. It was obviously a money losing operation.
Mr. Sparrow was a very good business person. He founded a consulting company, Domicity, which in fact helped the federal government quite a few years ago in regard to attracting IT investment to Canada. He led missions to Japan, Korea and the Silicon Valley. We know that he was a person who knew a lot about businesses and a lot about large private and government organizations.
Allan Sparrow very clearly said that the port authority was unsustainable and that the business case it presented would forever lose money. Because of that, he knew that the expansion of the island airport by the port authority would be a disaster for the City of Toronto and its plans to create a clean and green waterfront.
He was also very concerned about the increase in air traffic bringing water and noise pollution to one of the most densely populated parts of the city. In his very focused and deliberate way, Allan Sparrow decided he would do everything in his power to stop it. In 2002 he founded Community AIR and was the group's spokesperson in the formative years of the fight.
As the number of people involved in fighting the port authority grew, more people went to the annual general meetings of the port authority. It became more obvious that these port authorities were not at all accountable. It was noticed that when the port authorities conducted their environmental assessment process, it really was not a clear and open process. This very strong organization, which represented the City of Toronto and the citizens of Toronto, was not given a voice.
I wish that the Toronto Port Authority had people like Jane Jacobs and Allan Sparrow on its board of directors so that the people's voices would actually be heard in these port authorities. What do we have instead under Bill C-23? We have a smaller board of directors whose terms can be extended not just once but twice.
The former Liberal government appointed a lot of its friends to the port authorities, and in the last two or three years the Conservatives have been appointing lobbyists and a former Conservative staffer of the finance minister to the port authority, whereas citizens and the people who represent the users and who really know something about running ports are not appointed. The Jane Jacobses and Allan Sparrows never have a chance to have a say in how the Toronto Port Authority is being run.
It is a disgrace. This bill is a step in the wrong direction. We know that every political movement is built on the shoulders of those who came before, whether it is the Jane Jacobses and the Allan Sparrows of the world or someone else. Their leadership, their personal style and their vision of what great cities and countries are all about have been missed completely in the bill.
We note that if lobbyists or political friends can have a contract or a term renewed twice, we are looking at nine years of them being in a port authority that has absolutely no say from the local cities or citizens or the elected councillors.
We have also noted that the bill has no accountability. Many municipalities are speaking against it. We oppose access to federal funds for the Toronto Port Authority and other port authorities because it would drain the funds from a central pot and the crumbling infrastructure of municipalities would continue to crumble.
We also note that the bill will give the minister authority to expand the borrowing limits of port authorities. If they go bankrupt, guess what? It will be taxpayers who will be left holding the bag or trying to pay off those debts. Or maybe the Toronto Port Authority, as it has done before, will sue everyone. It sued the city of Toronto and the federal government and made off with a lot of money, with millions, in fact.
Another change in Bill C-23 that is a dangerous area is that it licenses landholdings. It would allow port authorities to license landholdings to third parties with absolutely no input and no comment from local municipalities.
In yet another area, Bill C-23 gives no standards for security measures. For the port authority in downtown Toronto, right by the CN Tower and hundreds of thousands of residents of that highly dense area, there are really no standards for security measures.
Bill C-23 also does not give the Auditor General any power to investigate port authorities' financial practices, so the port authority is not accountable financially, and neither is it accountable to local citizens.
For those reasons, the NDP and residents of Toronto will continue to fight and will strive to return the port authorities to the people of Toronto and the citizens of Canada. Bill C-23 concerning Marine Act changes is certainly a step in the wrong direction.
Canada Marine Act
May 5th, 2008 / 12:10 p.m.
Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-23 today. Before I begin I want to say that our thoughts are with the over 4,000 people who may have died during the tragedy in Burma on the weekend.
On November 16, 2007, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities introduced Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Marine Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Pilotage Act and other Acts in consequence, in the House of Commons. The bill is very similar in respect to its predecessor, Bill C-61, An Act to amend the Canada Marine Act and other Acts, which was introduced in the House of Commons on June 22, 2005 by the previous Liberal government. The bill died on the order paper with the dissolution of Parliament without having passed first reading.
Just to ensure our critic knows where I stand on this, I am in favour of the bill to modernize and increase the efficiency of our ports. I have a few questions and concerns on certain elements, but they are basically bringing forth the main points that we had in our bill. We are in agreement with the modernization of the ports in this trading world and to do anything that would make it more efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are so critical to my area in the north.
In 1998, during the Liberal government's term in office, the Canadian Marine Act received royal assent. This was the first comprehensive legislation to govern several aspects of Canada's marine legislation. In addition, the act allowed for the establishment of Canada Port Authorities, port facilities and continued divestiture of certain harbour beds.
The Canadian Marine Act assisted in the commercialization of the St. Lawrence Seaway and contained provisions for the further commercialization of federal ferry services.
In 2003, the Canadian Marine Act was subject to a legislative review and, since 2003, Transport Canada has carried out a number of studies from which it was able to compile several recommendations to improve the Canadian Marine Act.
Canada's policy framework of 1995 for federal ports focused on the elimination of overcapacity in the new government structure to support a more commercialized system. Global trading patterns have changed in the context in which federal ports operate. Port modernization is required to ensure that ports have the tools needed to compete in a global trading environment and to support the government's new national policy framework for strategic gateways and trade corridors.
The Canada Port Authorities have locations now in St. John's, Belledune, Halifax, Saint John, Sept-Îles , Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, Montreal, Hamilton, Toronto, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Prince Rupert and Vancouver which will be amalgamated with the Fraser River and North Fraser.
Some aspects of the bill are administrative and some are more substantive. Certain administrative aspects were made to increase the clarity and consistency between both language versions. One changes the purpose so it would recognize the significance of marine transportation and its contribution to the Canadian economy.
Our party, in developing this act in the first place, is very supportive of this modernization of the ports. In fact, our leader, the Leader of the Opposition, announced before this past Christmas about a number of new ports in Nunavut, small boat harbours, which is very exciting. Unfortunately, the government has only announced one port, which is one commercial harbour in Nunavut, and we would certainly like a lot more small boat harbours in Nunavut.
The government also announced the enhancement of the military harbour but we have not seen much progress on it to date and we certainly would like to see that initiative related to harbours proceed.
During second reading on this bill, I asked questions as we have had problems relating to consultation with many bills in this Parliament. I was happy to find out that stevedores and longshoremen were consulted. The government had to do some research to find that out but I finally got the answer to that question. The opinions of the pilotage associations are very important. I meet with them usually once a year and they have very important considerations. Of course, also the port authorities, which we know had major input into this bill.
The purpose of the bill, over and above the technical amendments I talked about, is to do a number of things. I will talk about each of these things in more detail and maybe some specific elements of the bill on top of that.
First, the bill would modify the port authorities' access to federal funding.
Second, it would add provisions regarding the power of a port authority to borrow money.
Third, it would provide additional regulatory powers to the Governor in Council.
In some things related to the amalgamation of port authorities, the way in which the directors on the boards of the port authorities' would be pointed would facilitate the processes.
The bill adds provisions regarding port amalgamation, which, in the original times, were not needed because there were so few major ports operating. We now have many more ports to accommodate the huge increase in the world shipping trade. I will list them later on in my speech.
The sixth item related to the bill is that it would modify provisions regarding the boards of directors the port authorities.
Finally, it would add a penalty scheme and streamline certain other provisions.
Before I go into each one of those, I want to state that there are 19 Canadian port authorities right now when we are talking about the amendments related to port authorities. These are located in each of the regions in which gateway and corridor initiatives are being started. I will refer to those later on as well.
One of the areas in which I am interested and hope to hear from the government about is the amendment, as of November 2007, that contribution funding for implementation of security enhancements would no longer be available to Canadian port authorities. I wonder why that has been allowed to expire and why something else was not put in place. I know that is the intent of this bill but, as I will talk about later, I do not want it to detract from money that would be available for other security provisions.
I know a bill was put in place to allow security investments in ports, for instance. I also know that the Canadian Fertilizer Institute approached us for a similar program so it could invest in the very expensive security requirements for fertilizers and dangerous chemical items to make it more competitive in the world markets and more competitive for our agricultural markets.
The bill would give ports the ability to use some of their lands for different purposes, not just for the port itself. In general, I am very strongly supportive of this provision for two reasons. The first reason is that there would be no incentive for a port to expand to cover future contingencies. As we have seen, there have been great increases in shipping in the world and yet some of our ports could not keep up and then, all of a sudden, the land is all gone.
When condos, art centres and other big structures are built on waterfront land that should have been reserved for a port, it becomes very difficult to expropriate them when the land is needed for a port. It would be hard to get public opinion behind it to use that land and it would be very expensive and wasteful.
For long term planning, we need to set aside that land up front, but if it were to be set aside and left vacant, there will be all sorts of public pressure from every group, commercial enterprise, government, other transportation facilities, convention centres and everyone who wants that land for something else.
This bill would allow that land to be used for other purposes and generate revenue for the port authorities, which should be as self-sufficient as possible, of course, until such time as it is needed.
I definitely am in favour of that, with the exception that we must ensure that once again things are not put on the land that would cause the same problem, permanent structures such as condominiums, transportation networks or art centres, something that cannot just be taken down when the land is needed. I think this is a good provision but it needs to be watched carefully to ensure it is used properly.
For Canada, the ports are more important than for many other countries because we are a trading nation. The parliamentary secretary said that in his speech at second reading. In that light, I hope the government will stop closing important consulates around the world because they are just as important for us as a trading nation.
I said earlier that I would talk about the increase in the number of ports and talk about why we need to deal with things like amalgamations in this bill. In British Columbia, where there was originally one major port, it now has one in North Fraser, Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Nanaimo and Port Alberni, all to help the great expansion of trade to Asia. That is why we need coordination, not only with the ports themselves but also with the other types of transportation that feed into the port.
All the investment cannot be in the port land itself, because we also need to invest in the appropriate bridges, roads, parking and customs facilities in a type of corridor strategy. When we did the west coast port corridor we envisioned all of those items. I hope the Conservatives enhance and speed up the investment in that Pacific corridor at the rate that we had envisioned.
A few years ago we missed an opportunity to re-enhance the capacity of the Halifax harbour to handle the giant ships coming into the marketplace. I hope we do not miss that in the future.
When we are talking about the gateways, I want to assure my colleagues in Quebec and Ontario that we are not just talking about the Atlantic and Pacific gateways, which I have mentioned. We also need to ensure there is investment in the St. Lawrence--Great Lakes corridor and the St. Lawrence Seaway. That corridor has good potential because many of those ports would not be in competition with the east or west. They would be taking goods directly inland in a more efficient and economical way. This would help to build efficiencies in Ontario and Quebec in their ports on the Great Lakes and on the St. Lawrence River.
The distance between Montreal and Rotterdam is 5,813 kilometres, while the distance between New York and Rotterdam is 6,154 kilometres. Therefore, there is no reason that we cannot get that faster entry into the heartland of the Americas if we ensure we have just as efficient a system for getting the goods into our ports as opposed to ports like New York.
In spite of increased shipping around the world, Canada's use of that particular route has dropped. The total amount of goods transported via the St. Lawrence dropped from 130 million tonnes in the early 1980s to approximately 100 million tonnes 10 years later, only to have around 105 million tonnes since. Thus, since 1980, the ports on the St. Lawrence have received less merchandise than the 150 million tonnes they received in 2007. It was 25 million tonnes less than what was being transported on the St. Lawrence in the early 1980s.
Over the past 30 years the carriage of goods by ship has grown in the world 600%, while traffic on the St. Lawrence has dropped from 130 million tonnes in the 1980s to the current 105 million tonnes. Even the Mississippi River, which is a competitor to get into the heartland of the St. Lawrence, saw its traffic increase from 450 million tonnes to 700 million tonnes. I want my colleagues in Ontario and Quebec to know we are thinking of them and that our vision of ports includes them in the modernization and investment of their ports.
Those were introductory remarks. I want to now go on to the major components of the bill.
First, I will talk about the borrowing limits. It is certainly important to make sure that ports can make their investments, that they are borrowing efficiently and that everything else as a system is monitored and controlled. It should be done in such a way as to ensure they have secure borrowing and can be able to pay the bills. To date, the government has not had to step in. We would not want a situation where there was excess borrowing where ports could not control themselves.
The next area is access to contribution funding. This is perhaps my biggest concern with the bill. It is related to making ports eligible for funding through existing programs. Of course, we all agree that ports have to have funding, but it is perplexing to me as to why the government, if it believes in that, just does not provide the funding and why it would want to take the money from other federal government programs as opposed to providing a program for the ports. For instance, the ports want funding for infrastructure and security, which of course what we want, but why would the government take that money from other areas?
We have limited infrastructure. The government, fortunately, after extensive lobbying, carried on the infrastructure programs to the tune of $33 billion but changed the conditions. Most of the municipalities across Canada have not heard how much of that they are going to get. I have said time and time again in the House, and I know the Minister of Finance has heard me, that municipalities have to get the same amount of infrastructure money as they did under the previous government, which was $33 billion, and they need to know the rules so they can apply it and it is not distributed all over the place.
The municipalities have not heard for so long, the new rules are not out, and there is worry across the country. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Association of Yukon Communities have been wondering when they are going to hear what the rules are and how much of that money they are going to get. Are they still going to get the same amount of the infrastructure money as they did in the past?
The primary reason these programs were started in the first place was for the municipalities of this country. The Liberal Party will never cease to stand up for the municipalities to ensure they get their fair share of that funding. That is why, when there is a provision in this bill that adds another important need for funding to the same pile money, it is very worrying to me. Everyone will certainly be watching to make sure the ports get their money, but that the municipalities in Canada are not deprived of the funds they so desperately need.
The House resumed from April 11 consideration of the motion that Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Marine Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Pilotage Act and other Acts in consequence, be read the third time and passed.
Business of the House
May 1st, 2008 / 3:15 p.m.
Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform
Mr. Speaker, our week devoted to action on the environment and health of Canadians is proving to be a success. We just passed Bill C-33 at report stage with the support of two of the other three parties. This is our bill requiring that by 2010 5% of gasoline and by 2012 2% of diesel fuel and home heating oil be comprised of renewable fuels. It represents an important part of our plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. Debate of this bill at third reading will now be able to commence tomorrow.
We have also started to debate two bills to improve the safety of food, consumer products and medical products in Canada.
We also introduced Bill C-54, to promote safety and security with respect to human pathogens and toxins. We will continue to debate these bills today and tomorrow.
During these uncertain economic times to the south, our government has led the way on the economy by taking decisive and early action over the past six months to pay down debt, reduce taxes to stimulate the economy and create jobs, and provide targeted support to key industries. In keeping with our strong leadership on the economy, next week will be maintaining a competitive economy week.
We plan to debate the following bills intended to enhance the competitiveness of certain sectors of the Canadian economy: our Bill C-23, at third reading stage, to amend the Canada Marine Act; our Bill C-5, at report stage, on liability in case of a nuclear incident; and our Bill C-14, at second reading stage, to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act.
We will also debate at second reading Bill C-32, which modernizes the Fisheries Act, Bill C-43, which amends the Customs Act, and Bill C-39, which amends the Canada Grain Act. We will also begin to debate Bill C-46. This is our bill to free western barley producers from the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly by giving them the freedom to market their own products. We will debate at third reading our bill to amend the Aeronautics Act, Bill C-7.
My friend, the member for Wascana, the Liberal House leader, said that government business and the doing of business in the House of Commons appeared to end on Tuesday. That is because next Wednesday and Thursday will be opposition days, and I would like to allot them as such at this time.
In terms of the question he raised with regard to Bill C-293, which is a private member's bill, I understand it is scheduled to come before the House in early May. At that time the House will have an opportunity to deal with the matter.
In terms of estimates and witnesses appearing before committee of the whole, the government does have to designate those to occur before May 31. Late last night I finally received notice of which two departments were identified and we will soon be advising the House of the dates that will be scheduled for consideration of those matters in committee of the whole.
Canada Marine Act
April 11th, 2008 / 1:25 p.m.
Canada Marine Act
April 11th, 2008 / 1:20 p.m.
Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on Bill C-23 on port lands and port authorities.
First, it is ironic that earlier today the parliamentary secretary accused the NDP of delaying the bill. In actual fact the questions from his members during questions and comments have delayed the bill, so I will not get my full 20 minutes today, which will delay it further. I certainly intend to take my full 20 minutes because I have a lot to say on this.
I represent Vancouver East. The whole of my northern boundary borders the port of Vancouver, from Cambie Street to Boundary Road. Over many decades, whether it is myself as the current member of Parliament or whether it was the former member of Parliament, Margaret Mitchell, we have dealt with many issues concerning the port of Vancouver.
I want to acknowledge that there is a national and economic significance in terms of trade and economic activity to the ports in Canada. The port of Vancouver is an incredibly important economic engine in Vancouver and in British Columbia and, indeed, in Canada. There is no question we need legislation that lays out the importance and the mandate of that function.
I have also learned, over 11 years of being a member of Parliament, that the interface between the port and what happens on port lands and the local community, because sometimes it is a residential neighbourhood, or a commercial neighbourhood and the municipality of which it is a part, is a very important question. It is some of those issues that I want to focus on today.
We were told earlier by the parliamentary secretary that we were delaying this bill. We think it is very important that we have adequate debate. We are not delaying the bill; we want to have adequate debate.
I point out that at committee the parliamentary secretary said everyone was in favour of the bill and the ports came out in favour. On January 29, only two port authorities came as witnesses, Vancouver and Montreal. On the second day of hearings, there was one city councillor, someone from the community airport impact review in Toronto and an individual. That was it. Then the bill went clause by clause. In fact, it went through with lightning speed.
Unfortunately, the NDP amendments at the committee were ruled out of order. Those amendments would have addressed some of our serious concerns about bill, concerns about the questions of accountability, jurisdiction and mandate as they relate to the local community.
As I mentioned earlier, Vancouver has had significant issues over the years relating to the port activity, the adjacent residential neighbourhoods and the city of Vancouver as a whole. One of the NDP amendments would have ensured that a majority of the board of the port authority would be made up of municipal councillors. As well, the land use plan that a port authority might develop would be approved by the municipality.
This has been a very key issue for many years, in that port authorities can approve developments and legally do not have to abide by municipal zoning. In some cases that has happened in a voluntary way. Vancouver has had a lot of interaction and cooperation between the port authority and the city of Vancouver in developing various plans over the years. However, there is nothing legally binding in the legislation to ensure that happens.
When problems arise, the port authority, as a legally standing body, has the ability to put through a development that may be detrimental to local residents, to the adjacent residential community and, indeed, to the city as a whole. That creates an enormous amount of conflict. That conflict does not need to happen if only we could structure the port authority in such a way that is in context and is reflective of the interests of the city as a whole.
Again, I want to emphasize that no one is questioning the important mandate ports have and the fact that they need to be given scope and authority to do their work.
However, as we see in the bill, we are now moving into a territory where, for example, a port authority could be making decisions about non-marine functions, activities on land that may have a negative impact. There will be no oversight for that from the local municipality.
Those of us who have been municipal councillors were very used to going to public hearings. We were very used to having zoning bylaws where there is a due process. None of that will apply here.
As we see, port authorities getting this vastly expanded mandate that will allow them to bring in land uses that are not necessarily primarily or strictly port related will cause all kinds of conflicts.
We have already seen that conflict in our community, whether it was with the Lafarge Concrete facility that had been an ongoing battle in east Vancouver for years or whether it was with other potential developments that the port wanted to approve. Residents had to organize and go up against the port authority and a board of directors that really had no accountability to people.
That is why it is so important that we have some municipal representation on those port authority boards. That is a very serious concern for us. I also have major issues around security with ports, and I will address that when I speak in the next round on the bill.
I do want to say that we believe the bill would have been far better off if it were sent across the country in terms of holding public hearings. I know there are many local resident groups and people who have been very interested in the issue of port development who would have wanted to comment on the bill.
Unfortunately, they never got the opportunity to do that, so here we are now at the eleventh hour of the bill at third reading and some of these very fundamental questions will remain unresolved and not dealt with.
I will continue to speak on that. I appreciate the fact that I will have further time when the bill comes up and I certainly intend to deal with the concerns that we have in the NDP.
Canada Marine Act
April 11th, 2008 / 1:15 p.m.
Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the presentation by my colleague on Bill C-23. I also heard his comments and suggestions concerning the involvement of municipal representatives in the governance of port authorities. His own party will have a lot of work to do because his critic, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, had some far from friendly discussions with the councillor from the City of Toronto when he appeared before our committee. The situation within his own party will have to evolve.
I am concerned by what is happening in Toronto, namely the dispute between the city and the port authority. Without an envelope for the development of the St. Lawrence—Great Lakes corridor like the one for the Asia-Pacific gateway, and if port authorities were ever allowed to apply for funding under infrastructure programs to which the cities have already applied, we can just imagine the dispute that would arise in Toronto, for example. I would not want such conflicts to erupt in other cities that have port authorities, either, such as Montreal, Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, Sept-Îles or Saguenay.
The only money available in the budget for the building Canada fund has been allocated to the Asia-Pacific gateway. There is no more money and we should not be imagining there will be more. I hope that my colleague will agree that we should establish a specific budget for the development of the St. Lawrence—Great Lakes corridor.
Canada Marine Act
April 11th, 2008 / 1:10 p.m.
Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for York South—Weston for his support of the bill.
The bill is critical to getting the infrastructure built in Canada to ensure our long term prosperity. Unfortunately, the NDP members seem to be hellbent on opposing the bill. They are obstructing it. They are delaying it. It is going to negatively impact the economic prosperity across the country, especially in British Columbia.
As the House knows, I am from the west coast. I understand the needs of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, which administers the largest port by a long mile in Canada. I had a chance to meet with representatives from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority yesterday. They advised me of a project that they intended to bring forward under our building Canada plan. This project is one where they are working together with the cruise lines that come into Vancouver bringing tourists.
As we know, when these large ships berth in Vancouver, they continue to run their engines to provide power for their ships and that creates more and more greenhouse gas emissions. That is exactly what our government is fighting against. We want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has recognized that and so have the cruise lines. They have come forward with an expensive project to install something called “shore power”, clean power that would be available to the cruise lines to use while they were berthed in Vancouver.
To do that, the port authority will need federal funding. Under section 25, at present there is no ability to receive federal government funding. Bill C-23 would make that possible and would allow organizations such as the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to access critical federal infrastructure money to build those kinds of facilities, which would reduce the impact on our environment.
Does the member believe that what are essentially commercial disputes between the Toronto Port Authority and the city of Toronto should stand in the way of implementing such critical legislation as is Bill C-23?