House of Commons Hansard #42 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was highway.

Topics

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, I commend my hon. colleague from Cumberland—Colchester on his motion. Numerous members have talked today about the substandard highways we are dealing with and about the disrepair of our highways, that it is going to take $17 billion to bring them back to where they should be. For example, there should be four lanes when the traffic warrants so we do not have the killer highway that is just outside of Ottawa.

There is no question that people nationwide realize there is a problem. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been pushing to have dollars go into a national highway policy as well as into assistance with other infrastructure and highways throughout the country. The government has failed to do that.

This is another area in which the government lacks any vision whatsoever. It lacks any sound vision as to where Canada should be going. It is literally letting the nation fall apart in front of us with the underfunding of health care, the underfunding of education, with the EI surplus where dollars have been taken away from the EI fund and from the unemployed, those not able to get enough work. Money has been taken from the Canada pension plan. The government sings its praises on a wonderful surplus but fails to put anything back into the country.

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester indicates it would be done with the partnership of the provinces. I do not think there is any question that if we are going to have a nation where the people can go from one end to the other, whether it be north, south, east, west, in any direction they choose to go, they need to feel comfortable and safe when they are travelling our highway system. They want to know that when they go through Saskatchewan there will be safe roads, that when they hit Manitoba they can continue on the same. They do not want to hit that provincial boundary and say, “Now we are going through New Brunswick, we are going to hit a toll highway, we are going to have to pay for it and my taxpayer dollars have already done that”.

They want to know that highway is safe. In order to not pay to go on that highway they will have to go on an unsafe road.

Canadians deserve to feel safe throughout the country, and they have in the past, but over the last 10 or 15 years it has gradually deteriorated. The point I want to make in that regard is it started during the time that the party of the member for Cumberland—Colchester was the government of the country. It failed to put funding in place as well. I do not want him to feel that it is all hunky-dory and rosy on his side over there and just blame it on the other side because they are both at fault.

Both those parties have failed when they had the opportunity to ensure that funding was there. If they want to use the gas taxes, by all means let them do it. In the past my party and I have not supported dedicated taxes. However, government time and time again does not put dollars into services and infrastructure. Then we start to think that we need legislation which says the government has to put money there. It will have to do that. It has failed to show Canadian people a true commitment to providing for the country, to ensuring that the dollars are going where they should be going.

Canadians do not argue about paying taxes. I do not know about the people here, but if I pay my taxes and education is there, health care is there, and we have decent roads and decent services, we will not hear Canadians complaining. They do not mind paying for what they get.

We all work hard and we do not want everything for nothing. We will pay our taxes but we want services in return. When our money goes to the federal government and we do not get it back in any kind of service that is when we get disgruntled. That is when we get parties like the Reform Party saying “Scrap the taxes. Scrap everything”.

What did the hon. member from the Reform Party say? No money is to go into recreational facilities. Can hon. members imagine putting no money into recreational facilities? It is common knowledge that every dollar spent in recreational facilities for youth in our communities will save $7 in the future on problems that may result from children not having somewhere to go and getting into lives of crime because they do not have things to do. When they become adults a good number of them will end up in jail because they did not have enough things to do when they were younger. This blanket statement of no funding for recreational facilities is wrong.

We need a cohesive country where we have dollars supporting all these different programs: infrastructure, recreational facilities, highways and post-secondary education. We need funding in all those areas.

Although I commend the hon. member and support his motion, I wanted to make those points. We had a much similar debate just a few weeks ago with the suggestion of dedicated taxes. As I said, the problems are there. There is probably about a $17 billion cost to improve our national highway structure. We certainly need a national highway policy and we need a national transportation policy. There is no question. We heard it all here today. With all of us knowing it, surely some good can come out of the discussion we have had over and over again and we will see the government make a real commitment to the country.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, this is the last day of the 1900s and to end it in Private Members' Business with a discussion on roads is one of the most significant moments in this parliament, because this parliament has demonstrated throughout this century that it is one of the finest political institutions in the world and one of the most democratic.

With the permission of the member for Cumberland—Colchester, I would like to make a few remarks that pertain more to the end of the millennium than they do to roads. Some years ago I found myself alone travelling in Tunisia and I came across a ruined Roman city in the mountains, right on the edge of the mountains in Tunisia, next to the desert. This city probably had a population of about 20,000 or 30,000 and it was far more dramatic than Pompeii.

For those Canadians who may have travelled in north Africa, they will know that the Roman ruins and Roman cities are very well preserved in north Africa. One can actually walk down the streets of these cities and feel as though one is back 2,000 years, because the streets are there, the shops are there and the aqueducts are there. The only thing that is missing is the people.

I point out that 2,000 years ago the world was not that much different than it is today. In fact, there are eerie coincidences between the state of the world 2,000 years ago and the state we find the world in today. I point out that at that time, the time of the city that I walked through, Rome ruled the world. Rome was the superpower and from Rome it ruled all the civilized world. Roman culture was everywhere.

I point out that we have the same type of situation now, 2,000 years later, when we have another superpower, the United States, that not only is its political influence felt everywhere but so too is its cultural influence. That was precisely the situation that existed 2,000 years ago.

Indeed Rome was known for its military might. Not only was it tremendously far advanced in the military technology of the day, in the type of weapons the Roman soldiers used and the catapults and the other kinds of siege weapons that the Romans had developed, but it had a tremendous martial spirit so the quality of its soldiers was what basically kept the peace in the world of 2,000 years ago.

We cannot help but be struck by the parallel that the United States again has a similar military power, an all pervasive military power. Yet we have to remember that pervasive military power has been tested, as it was later in Rome, in places like Yugoslavia and Somalia.

What has been found, as was the case 2,000 years ago, is that all the military technology in the world does not save a nation when it has problems with its soldiers losing the esprit de corps, shall we say, and that happened in Rome. We see that again happening in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia where despite all the technology the Americans and the United Nations, if you will, were not able to control the type of independence movement that occurred in these countries. Indeed, that is precisely what happened in the Roman world.

Then we had a kind of global free trade 2,000 years ago.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order to ask a question of relevance here. If this individual is speaking on a national highway's program, I fail to see the connection.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I understand the hon. member's point of order but, as the hon. member said earlier, he has the contentment of the member for Cumberland—Colchester to deviate a bit from the subject.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Wentworth—Burlington, ON

I am sorry that the Reform Party takes such an attitude when this is a very historic moment. I will go quickly through it.

Two thousand years ago global free trade existed. It is what we had in the Roman world, tremendous prosperity because based on Rome the entire world was in a situation where trade was centred on Rome and Rome became very wealthy but prosperity existed all around the Mediterranean rim.

I suggest to you, Madam Speaker, we have precisely the same situation now. We remember what happened to Rome. Eventually global free trade in Roman times collapsed. I suggest to you, Madam Speaker, we have to remember as we go into the next millennium that what we see before us in terms of global free trade is only temporary. We should be worried as Canadians and people of the world of the consequences when eventually global free trade collapses in this world in this millennium. We will see it, I am sure, in the coming years.

We also have the parallel of climate change. Two thousand years ago in the Roman world in north Africa the desert was green. Of course the reason why the cities are empty in north Africa is that there was a major climate change that occurred after the year 2000.

Finally is the parallel and so singular between 2,000 years ago and today is the fact that 2,000 years ago there was a vacuum in religion. There was a vacuum in organized religion. They accepted gods as being set aside for the rationalism of Hellenistic Greece, of Aristotle. We know that the world as it existed then had fragmented into cults and we know then that led to the foundation 2,000 years ago of two great religions, because 2,000 years ago was the birth of Jesus Christ and a few centuries later Muhammad arrived on the scene and we now, 2,000 years later, have two great religions of the world.

I just wanted to take note that we are entering into the new millennium. It is an exciting new millennium and I think that this country of all the countries is the best suited for it because we leave this century stronger than when we began. I believe our democracy and this parliament has demonstrated with the civility of our debate, even in the independence questions, that we are a model to the rest of the world and that we stand the best chances—

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, again we have switched Speakers. I welcome you back to the chair. I want to say how pleased and honoured I am to be sponsoring the last private member's motion of the century. It is even called Motion No. 102. Highway 102 goes through my riding, which is kind of coincidental.

The hon. member for Wentworth—Burlington questioned whether his speech was relevant. He was talking about the roads of 2,000 years ago. I thought that was relevant because a lot of the time when I am on the highways in Nova Scotia they feel as if they are 2,000 years old, considering the condition they are in. That is why we are here today to talk about a federal-provincial funding program for highways.

As a coincidence, in my previous presentation I talked about toll highways. While I was speaking, the new premier of New Brunswick, the honourable Bernard Lord, announced that he agreed in principle with the highway development company, Maritime Road Development, the company of former minister Doug Young. They have agreed in principle to take the tolls off the New Brunswick roads which is a big step, considering the auditor general's reports both federally and provincially are against this concept. That leaves Nova Scotia with the only toll highway left on the Trans-Canada Highway.

During some of the comments I was thinking that there should be a caution sign at the beginning of any toll highway in Nova Scotia for politicians that reads tolls can be hazardous to our health. In New Brunswick the Liberals put tolls on the Trans-Canada Highway and they were soundly defeated in the next election. In Nova Scotia the Liberals put tolls on a highway and in the next election they were soundly defeated. In Nova Scotia there were 11 federal Liberal MPs before the last election and they were all defeated. A government should be very careful before it puts tolls on highways in Canada.

I want to come back to the point that we definitely need a highway funding program. We need a national transportation system program that the provinces and all parties involved can use for long range planning; predicting the future; planning their communities, their routes, safety issues and certainly pollution issues; and planning all other things that are appropriate.

As I said in the motion, because of our geography it is of the utmost importance for Canada to have a proper transportation system, especially a national highway system. It should be a priority, as the minister has said over and over again, but he has not done anything about it.

In closing this debate we urge the minister to make it a priority and actually do something about it because there is a total vacuum of transportation policy with respect to our national highway system.

I thank all colleagues from all parties for participating in the debate. I really appreciate it. We have heard some excellent debate and some excellent ideas. I wish one and all a merry Christmas and a happy new year and a great century.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The time provided for consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. The order is dropped from the order paper.

Canada
Statements By Members

December 17th, 1999 / 10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, as we prepare to close down, I would like to wish a happy holiday to all the people of Canada.

In particular, I would like to invite the sovereignists to take the time to reflect, more specifically to reflect on this opportunity and privilege we all have to live in such a great country, such a free country, a county with so much to be shared, to reflect on the reality, recognized the world over, of Canada's strengths: economic, social and cultural.

My wish to the sovereignists is that they may open their eyes and realize, finally, that our freedom is a treasure, one we must guard jealously, for fear of losing it forever.

I wish the sovereignists a happy holiday season.

Festival Of Eid Ul-Fitr
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, since early December, Muslims in Canada have been fasting during this month of Ramadan, a month of blessing marked by prayers and charity.

I have had the honour of joining in the celebrations over the years. The Muslim community has made a tremendous contribution in enriching Canada. Their involvement with other Canadians in academic, professional, artistic and cultural sectors is what has helped make Canada the number one country in the world.

Ramadan ends with the Festival of Eid Ul-Fitr which means breaking the fast. Eid is celebrated after the sighting of the new crescent on the previous evening. As Eid falls in January and the House of Commons will be closed, I take this opportunity on behalf of the Leader of the Official Opposition and members of the Reform Party to wish all Muslims “Eid Mubarak”.

I would also like to extend to all Canadians season's greetings, and on the dawn of the new millennium, our best wishes.

Dr. Wilbert Keon
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness we learned yesterday that Dr. Wilbert Keon resigned as the director of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Dr. Keon was born and raised in my riding in the beautiful town of Sheenboro. He followed his brother's footsteps in the medical profession and is today a world renowned heart specialist.

We have all met people who have been helped either by Dr. Keon himself or by the skilful team he helped train at the heart institute which he founded. In my own family, Dr. Keon operated on two of my brothers, one as recently as last June.

To Dr. Keon, his wife Anne and his family, we offer our support in this difficult time.

Dr. Wilbert Keon
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, I very rarely intervene but I agree with you wholeheartedly. Dr. Keon is a treasure to us in Canada. I hope that he will not give up his responsibilities and will keep going working for us here in this country.

Family Service Canada
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to share with Canadians the great work being performed by the fine group of people at Family Service Canada.

As an advocacy group, they work with service agencies, governments, corporations, unions and parents. Together they are developing a strong and lasting commitment to ensure the well-being of our children. They also work to provide important information on leadership, training and resources to meet the changing demands of our constituents.

Every year one way in which Family Service Canada draws attention to the needs, achievements and diversities of Canadian families is through National Family Week. The United Nations has declared the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace. This will be the theme used by Family Service Canada to celebrate the coming National Family Week.

I ask all members to support the wonderful work of Family Service Canada.

Wilmot Township
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, today it is an honour for me to rise and advise my colleagues of a significant event in the township of Wilmot located in my great riding of Waterloo—Wellington in the heart of Ontario.

The residents of Wilmot township will celebrate its 150th anniversary in the year 2000. Wilmot township holds a special place in my heart and my family's history. I was born, raised and still live on the family farm, my ancestors having first settled there in 1827. I also served there as a municipal councillor and as mayor of the municipality.

The 150th anniversary celebrations will include the opening of the Oasis in the Centre Park. This park will be located on the site of the original town hall where in 1850 my great-great-grandfather served as the first Clerk.

Not only will the park commemorate the history of the township by providing a place to reflect on the rich heritage of the township, but also the park will serve as a place to contemplate the yet unwritten history of the next millennium.

I would ask all my colleagues to join me in this great celebration and applaud the township of Wilmot on its 150th anniversary.

Volunteers
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise with my heart filled with gratitude for a large segment of our society that contributes in a significant way to this being the best country in the world in which to live.

I am referring to caring, compassionate individuals who unselfishly donate their time, their energy, their skills and often financial support to support worthy community endeavours. It is this group with representatives from every segment of our society who create a meaningful spirit of community.

When people help people without expectation for remuneration, we are witnessing the purest form of brotherly love. I am referring to the countless number of volunteers we find in every community from coast to coast to coast.

On behalf of the government and my fellow colleagues in the House of Commons and all Canadians, we wish them the very best. May the spirit prosper and prevail.