House of Commons Hansard #157 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was water.

Topics

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent?

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

April 16th, 1997 / 5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Peterson Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour on behalf of the finance committee to table our 12th report dealing with Bill C-93.

As I have in the past, I thank all members of all parties for their wonderful co-operation.

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find consent among the parties for the following motion:

That, notwithstanding any standing order, immediately after Private Members' Business is completed on this day, the House shall consider Bill C-84 at the second reading stage, in committee of the whole, at the report stage and at the third reading stage;

The amendments may be proposed to the bill during the committee stage of the said bill;

That no dilatory motions or quorum shall be received;

That the House shall adjourn immediately after completion and adoption of all the said stages of the bill.

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride and pleasure that I rise at third reading to address Bill C-44, which deals with the implementation of the Canadian marine policy, and which is called an act for making the system of Canadian ports competitive, efficient and commercially oriented, providing for the establishing of port authorities and the divesting of certain harbours and ports.

It is as the member representing the riding of Trois-Rivières that I am proud to take the floor today. As you know, Trois-Rivières is not only a port city, but also a maritime location where, for two years now, the Festival de Trois-Rivières has been expanding so as to better reflect that reality. I am also proud to salute Commodore Phil Goyette for his excellent work-in co-operation with the SDAC of the Trois-Rivières centre town-in staging a wonderful event that keeps growing every year.

I would also like to congratulate the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup for his excellent work on this issue. My colleague moved many amendments designed to improve the bill and better protect the public interest. I thank him particularly because of his zeal, vigilance and hard work, and also his ability to listen.

As the member for Trois-Rivières, I would like to thank him, because when I say "ability to listen" it is because he listened to the representations I constantly made to him, as he himself was saying earlier, on behalf of the community of Trois-Rivières. I represented the views of that city which, having made up its mind on this issue, wanted very much to see the port of Trois-Rivières granted the status of Canadian port authority, as Quebec City, Montreal and Sept-Îles had been by the first bill. Saguenay and Trois-Rivières having been granted this status following representations by the Bloc Quebecois, in particular the member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, the community of Trois-Rivières owes him a big thank you.

Yes, there was a consensus on this issue in Trois-Rivières, but it did not come about easily. It is perhaps a good idea, on the eve of an election, to give a brief historical overview to refresh people's memories.

There was the scheming of the member for Saint-Maurice, the present Prime Minister, who was a party to the whole thing, in league with a tiny group of four, five or six Liberals who had their eye on the port at Trois-Rivières, and whose great distinction was to be known to be Liberals. Coincidentally as well, they had the backing of the Prime Minister, which he blurted out at some point, in their vague wish to eventually take over the port at Trois-Rivières.

Fortunately, the community apparently reacted, and the necessary representations were made. We were heard in fact by the government on February 12, 1997, after the member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup moved Motion No. 127, which reads as follows:

That Bill C-44, in the Schedule, be amended by adding in alphabetical order the following: "Trois-Rivières Port Authority".

This was, therefore, a victory by the community which had brought the necessary pressures to bear on the federal government, and I am proud to have played a role in this local victory.

In the same vein, where there is the possibility of action that may or may not be desirable, sometimes prompted by motives that may or may not be praiseworthy themselves, I have concerns about the minister's discretionary power over the board of directors of the Trois-Rivières port authority. I have philosophical concerns, because we all have first hand knowledge of what the Liberals are like. You know them, too. We know that the Liberals have their own way of looking at the federal government, as their property. This is a view that is very much peculiar to the Liberals. We have had an example of this just recently, late last week in fact. A delegation of Liberals was literally besieging the Canadian Parliament for partisan activities on the eve of the announcement of an election campaign.

Imagine a similar thing happening in Quebec, with the members of the Parti Quebecois holding meetings within the Quebec legislature. That would make the headlines everywhere, in all of the newspapers and all of the broadcast media as well, decrying the attitude of the leaders of the Parti Quebecois government, if ever such a thing were to happen. Yet we have just seen it here, a few days ago. And again when the returning officers for the next electoral campaign were recently appointed. This causes us to fear-knowing as we do the Liberals and their style, their glibness, their intellectual laziness-the possible, perhaps too systematic appointment of people whose greatest attribute, rather than their ability, is their membership in the Liberal Party of Canada.

Further to the introduction of this bill, I would like to draw your attention to the ill-defined mandates given out to manage one thing or another. This is a situation in which the government is divesting itself of assets, including harbours and small ports, and Canada's marine policy, as far as Quebec is concerned, involves theSt. Lawrence and the Ottawa River.

My attention has been drawn to the fact that the small docks and the ports along the Saint-Maurice River in my region are not covered. No one knows who to approach, who has jurisdiction. Is it the Department of Transport or Fisheries and Oceans? It is not easy. I have made the appropriate representations to the Department of Transport, which accorded me considerable time, confiding that it was an administrative mishmash. If they have a hard time figuring things out in the minister's office, think about the ordinary citizen and the mayor, often a community volunteer, working part time.

This leads me to speak of the introduction into our beautiful Quebec of the Canadian coast guard, which now has control over the St. Lawrence Seaway and which wants to charge its users. It will soon be involved in the management of lakes and rivers as it may issue permits for pedal boat and rowboat owners.

Nothing says that the Canadian Coast Guard, whose mandate it is to work from coast to coast, will not be the one interfering with the operation of the largest seaway in the world, a complex inland seaway. The task of marine pilots is a complex one, and I want to commend the work done by the St. Lawrence River pilots' association, whose members saw their jobs threatened by government pressure.

Here again, we must thank the Bloc Quebecois, and our colleague from Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, who made sure that common sense prevails, given the safety risks involved, the fact that the river is used by huge oil tankers and ore-carrying ships, and the difficulty of manoeuvring on the St. Lawrence River, with a narrow and sometimes shallow channel.

I think this was an irresponsible attempt on the part of the government. I do hope the St. Lawrence River pilots' association will continue to prevail and survive, to ensure the protection of the public and the riparian community. Although technology can be very useful, it must never replace humans, as was the intention in this case.

I would have liked to say more. I thought I would have more time. That is unfortunate, because coast guard activities is a very important issue. Just yesterday, I was attending a meeting of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. The committee just tabled a disgraceful report with obvious methodology problems. The committee had a very narrow mandate, and no effort was made to try and take a close look at the concerns expressed and

allegations made by users of the St. Lawrence, even though they are quite reasonable.

I am thinking in particular of the SODES and Mr. Gaudreault, who gave an excellent presentation yesterday, showing the very serious threat facing Quebec's economy if the Government of Canada does not turn around and make an effort to get to the bottom of this and see the light.

In closing, since a criticism of this recent report shows that, under the new policy, the Quebec Cartier Mining company may have to shut down its operations two and a half years earlier, I think further consideration is required.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary North, AB

Madam Speaker, as you know I am the Atlantic issues critic for our caucus. This means that I bring forward issues that are of particular interest and importance to Atlantic Canada. This will go on for a month or so until we elect members for Reform from Atlantic Canada.

Bill C-44 impacts on Atlantic Canadian interests. It impacts on a wonderful new opportunity for the port of Halifax to develop into a post-Panamax port.

The post-Panamax opportunity has come about because ships are getting so big that they can no longer get through the Panama canal. Ships with goods from all over the world need a port on the eastern seaboard large enough to land these goods for distribution across North America and into South America. A port needs to be developed to allow these huge ships to offload the containers for trans-shipment across Canada and the United States.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the port of Halifax because it has a lot of natural advantages that the big ports in the U.S., in particular New York and Boston, do not have. A lot of land is available. This port does not have to be dredged to accommodate these huge ships, as Boston and New York would.

The potential advantage to the Atlantic provinces is enormous. The potential income from this kind of economic activity, shipping activity, trade activity is huge. Reports have estimated it would be about $2 billion per year. This is not small change for a province like Nova Scotia.

However, this bill would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the port of Halifax, the businesses and the province to take advantage of this opportunity for three reasons. The port would be unable to raise the capital necessary to go ahead with this development. To develop the port properly, to have the facilities to offload these huge ships and to trans-ship the containers and the goods would take about $.5 billion.

This cannot be done with the strictures being put on the port and the port authority by this bill. The port would not be able to borrow money. It could perhaps borrow money on cash flow which would amount to about $40 million to $50 million maximum. Investors could not be given equity shares in the enterprise. Here is a wonderful opportunity and the bill puts a regime into place which absolutely forecloses that opportunity from ever being given to the Atlantic provinces. I have met with a number of people interested in the matter of developing the port of Halifax. They are very concerned.

Unfortunately my time has been shortened due to some arrangements in the House today. I would like to go on record as saying that as far as the port of Halifax is concerned, the people of Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada and the whole of Canada, have some real concerns that this bill limits important economic opportunities. I would urge the government to look at this matter very carefully before something is put in place that stifles development in a very critical part of our country, namely, the Atlantic provinces.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

An hon. member

Question.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.