House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was transportation.

Topics

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

May 30th, 2000 / 10:10 a.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to present a petition signed by 43 of my constituents, which states that whereas marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, the petitioners request that parliament take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada, and they further ask that parliament withdraw Bill C-23 and affirm the opposite sex definition of marriage in legislation.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to present a petition signed by many constituents from across the country, asking parliament to amend the Divorce Act to include the provision supported by Bill C-340, which is the right of the spouses' parents, that is, the grandparents, to have access to or custody of the children. In the present situation they have to go through all kinds of procedures to do that.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today on behalf of approximately 200 people in the riding of St. John's East. The petition states: “Whereas Canadians are horrified by pornography which depicts children and are astounded by legal determinations that possession of that kind of pornography is not criminal; and whereas it is the duty of parliament through the enactment and enforcement of the criminal code to protect the most vulnerable members of society from sexual abuse; therefore, your petitioners pray that parliament take all measures necessary to ensure that possession of child pornography remains a serious criminal offence and that federal police forces be directed to give priority to enforcing this law for the protection of children”.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I wish to present a second petition from approximately 100 people in the riding of St. John's East, which states: “We, the undersigned citizens of the province of Newfoundland, wish to draw the attention of the House to the polluted condition of St. John's harbour; and therefore your petitioners request that the House encourage the federal, provincial and relevant municipal governments to financially support the sewage treatment system required for the clean-up of St. John's harbour”.

This issue I have brought to the attention of the House on at least four, five or perhaps seven different occasions. It is a very serious issue and I would ask parliament to consider it.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of New Brunswick Southwest.

The petitioners pray that parliament enact legislation, such as Bill C-225, so as to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female. There are thousands of these and I am pleased to present them to the House.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Raymond Lavigne Verdun—Saint-Henri, QC

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to move that the report I presented earlier concerning the Library of Parliament be concurred in.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent for the hon. member to move the motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Raymond Lavigne Verdun—Saint-Henri, QC

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That the Second Report of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament, presented earlier today, be concurred in.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Supply
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

moved:

That this House recognize the urgent need to address the serious transportation problems facing the Canadian people, and call upon the government to establish a comprehensive national transportation policy that demonstrates leadership on this issue and which provides solutions to the problems shared coast to coast by all Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on this issue. My interest in transportation goes back a long way, perhaps to the early 1990s and probably into 1996, because of a project I wanted developed in my riding but there was a lack of federal government policy on funding for our national highway system.

The province of Nova Scotia, faced with a dangerous highway, no money and unable to establish an agreement with the federal government, tried to come up with an unique and innovative way to build part of our Trans-Canada Highway. It is now known as the Cobequid Pass and it is a toll highway. It is the only toll highway on the Trans-Canada Highway system right now and it runs entirely through my riding. It certainly focused the issue of transportation for me.

It is not only highways where there is a lack of co-ordinated, consistent policy, where there is a policy of long range planning rather than just react, react. It applies to the rail system; the airline system, as we have just seen recently; the port policies; shipbuilding; and passenger rail service. Again, there is just reaction. There is no long range plan, no consistent approach and no thought put behind these issues.

The ferry system in Canada, especially Marine Atlantic, is now coming under fire and criticism because again, after years of having one system of supplying and managing the Atlantic ferry system through Marine Atlantic, all of a sudden there is a new system and nobody understands what it is. The people in charge of Marine Atlantic are circumventing the process and nobody knows the thought processes, if there is any protection for consumers or if there is any accountability.

In this debate I will be focusing on some of the issues I have just listed. My very learned colleague from Brandon—Souris will be discussing rail and grain issues, which are in his area of expertise. The very distinguished member for St. John's East will be discussing the Marine Atlantic issue. I will also be focusing in on some airline issues.

This morning, for example, when I flew from Montreal to Ottawa, the plane was delayed for a little while. I called my office and said that I would be delayed and that I would be in Ottawa for my presentation this morning but that it would be close. When we were ready to get on the plane there was another delay. This has happened to consumers right across the country. I do not want to hone in on that because I know there are transitional issues, but delays for consumers now are completely unacceptable. There are consistent delays. I hope the new dominant airline can address these issues and bring them back to the former standards.

However, the problem is not Air Canada or the airline mergers. It is that there was very little government involvement in this merger issue. It was almost all private sector driven. The government should have been establishing plans years ago to predict the collapse of Canadian Airlines. It should have been prepared for it but it was not.

As things got worse and worse for Canadian Airlines, another private sector company, Onex, became involved and made a proposal. It looked like that was going to happen, then it did not happen. Then we had all kinds of other proposals and jiggery-pokery with American Airlines and many other partners in this whole issue. Again the private sector determined the aviation policy in this country, not the government. The government was behind the eight ball and it fell far short of the expectations of the Canadian people.

The first issue that I brought up was highways. This is probably the only country in the world that does not have a highway policy. Right now there is not one provincial transportation minister who can tell us what the federal government's policy is on highways. They have been making sounds about maybe some day establishing a policy, but right now there is no policy on highways. It is amazing that a country that is so dependent on highways like Canada, perhaps more than any other country in the world, has no highway policy. Years ago the provinces could make co-operative highway funding agreements with the federal government and now they have all expired except for a few. The remaining policies are now completely inconsistent.

To point out the inconsistency in my area over the next two years, the province of Newfoundland will get $55 million this year and $50 million in funding next year from the federal government, for a total of $105 million. That is on one side of Nova Scotia. On the other side of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick gets $102 million over the next two years. Nova Scotia, in the middle, gets zero. I point out that this is completely inconsistent. I do not say either one of them is right but the point is that it is completely inconsistent.

The road builders, the governments, the shippers, the manufacturers and the industrial parks cannot make plans on how they will establish their facilities, where to build their buildings, where they will hire people and how they will ship their products to market without a co-ordinated, long range, long term policy. That policy has to tie in rail with highway, highway with air and all these have to be tied into municipal passenger systems too. None of that is being done. We are addressing the issues as they come up: bang, there is a highway program, we will build a toll highway; VIA Rail is broke, we will give it more money; Canadian Airlines is in trouble, we will let them merge or whatever. This country, which is so dependent on transportation, perhaps more than any other country in the world because we are so big and our populations are so focused in certain areas, needs a transportation policy.

We want to grow, compete and be in the global market but we cannot be without a transportation policy that ties them all together. That means the government must work with the provinces, the industry, the shippers and the transportation industry to come up with a co-ordinated policy that handles all these issues.

Instead, we have piecemeal deals where the government decides to privatize the airports. This has not happened yet, but I predict that some of the smaller airports in Canada, which are the lifelines and the hope for economic development in small communities like Saint John, New Brunswick for instance, will suddenly find themselves unable to survive and compete.

It is critical that the small airports be brought into an overall policy of the government. We must not just diversify, privatize, commercialize or divest all the airports in Canada. They have to be part of an overall plan.

The big airports will survive. They will do well and prosper. I see great things in the future for the major airports.

Mr. Speaker, I neglected to mention that I will be splitting my time with the very hon. member for Brandon—Souris. He is very anxious to get up and talk about wheat. He knows a lot about wheat and I know very little about wheat, but I do know something about transportation. I do know that there should be a policy that co-ordinates all these issues together.

What has happened is that instead of having a department of transportation, we now have a profit centre. When the government came to power in 1993, the department virtually broke even or lost money. According to a Manitoba study, in the year 2002-03 the department will have a profit of $3.9 billion, counting all the fuel taxes, all the taxes it brings in, the rents from the ports and the rents from the airports.

I do not know how members feel, but the Department of Transport should not be a profit centre. It should not be an avenue to make money on behalf of the government. It should provide the very best transportation and infrastructure possible for this country. It cannot be done on a wing and a prayer. It has to be long range. Highways, rail lines, and airports take decades to plan and decades to build. It cannot be done in the haphazard manner that is happening now.

I will just go back to the aviation merger which changed things so much in the last few months. The divestiture of the ports and the airports are not all bad but they are not part of an overall plan. They have to be part of an overall plan.

There is no plan for highway construction in the country. When I was first given the position of transport critic for the Progressive Conservative Party, I wrote every provincial minister of transport in Canada. I asked them what the number one issue was facing ministers of transport. Every single one said that it was highways and that they needed highway money.

This is a critical issue because there is now such a large transfer of goods and services to the highways from rail. It is more economical, more efficient and more practical to ship by truck. Trucks are getting bigger. The provinces are all asking for permission to have bigger trucks and bigger regulations, which will put more workload on the highways, causing more damage to the highways.

The provincial ministers of transport, absolutely together, say that they need a transportation policy for highways, one that they can plan on for 10 to 20 years and one which they can count on for certain amount of funding based on the gas and oil tax that is collected. It is only fair. Right now only 5%, 6% or less than that goes back into highways. If 15% of the gas and diesel oil tax went back into highways it would resolve most of the issues in the country. It is not a lot to ask.