House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was international.

Topics

International Bridges and Tunnels Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

My goodness, Mr. Speaker, on the first point, the answer is very simple. It is this bill which will give the government the tools to handle the Ambassador Bridge and other crossings.

Had the NDP not colluded with the Conservative Party to bring down the Liberal government when it did, the bill would have been legislation by now and we would have been able to act by now. Therefore, it is the NDP in colluding with the Conservatives that caused this delay.

In terms of negotiating by going on our knees to Washington, I think the hon. member has got the wrong party, the wrong Prime Minister. He may recall, for example, that when Jean Chrétien was prime minister, he said no to the war in Iraq. Was that on our knees? No. That was an independent principled statement by the Government of Canada going totally against the Bush administration. It is the present Conservative government which is on its knees caving in to the Bush administration demands. Therefore, we have no apologies whatsoever to make on that score.

International Bridges and Tunnels Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois readily supports the principle of Bill C-3, the international bridges and tunnels act, but we still have some reservations, which I will explain in the next few minutes.

I would first like to make the point, for the benefit of the Quebec audience, that there is only one international bridge in Quebec, the one in Sutton. It is on the Vallée-Missisquoi road and crosses the Missisquoi River in Sutton. An old, metal bridge, it is approximately 50 metres long and was built around 1929. It spans a beautiful gorge. It is used by many trucks and appears in need of repair. It is owned by both Vermont, primarily, and the municipality of Sutton. It is inspected by Quebec's Department of Transport and in conjunction with Vermont as well. The municipality is responsible for repair costs, under a Quebec infrastructure fund. Vermont pays approximately 70% of repair costs.

Now that I have clearly described our international bridge in Quebec, I will address the positive aspects of Bill C-3.

There has been a legal void in the area of international bridges and tunnels. Bill C-3 aims to improve the security of these structures. According to the Department of Transport, local stakeholders are in favour of the provisions of this bill.

Let us now move on to the negative aspects. In the international brides and tunnels legislative framework, a very broad policing power is being given to the government such as the power to investigate without a warrant and a very authoritarian power of seizure. The government has the power to legislate, but the financial responsibility rests on other shoulders. In time, this situation can lead to conflicts.

The current bill left out a number of important and highly useful measures that were in Bill C-44. I will come back to that.

For example, there was a requirement that airline advertising be more transparent. The airlines would have had to change their advertising methods. They would have been required to list the total price of the flight including related fees. This measure was much demanded by the consumer associations.

The provisions of Bill C-44 that are missing from Bill C-3 would have improved the conflict resolution process for sharing the rail lines between passenger transportation companies and freight companies. Bill C-44 included a section under which a railway company wishing to sell a railway line would first offer it to any interested urban transit authorities, giving municipal governments priority in order to avoid tearing up the tracks.

The new VIA Rail Canada Act, proposed by Bill C-44, would have given it greater decision-making power, in the hope of improving rail transportation, reducing environmental impact and achieving energy savings.

Section 32 of Bill C-44 would have provided the Canadian Transportation Agency with authority to address complaints relating to railway noise in order to require railway companies to take measures to prevent unreasonable noise, particularly around marshalling yards.

I will speak later about these measures which are not found in Bill C-3. First, I would like to give the background of this last bill, which was introduced at first reading on April 24, 2006. It seeks to bring forward part of former Bills C-44 and C-26.

There are 24 international vehicular bridges and tunnels connecting Canada and the United States: 14 in Ontario, nine in New Brunswick and only one in Quebec, as I mentioned earlier. In addition there are five railway bridges and tunnels in Ontario. Only five of these crossings are owned by the federal government. According to the Department of Transport, the events of 9/11 brought to light the importance of protecting these vital infrastructures.

Responsibility for international bridges and tunnels lies with the federal government, which has sole legislative jurisdiction in this matter . However, the federal government does not have the clearly defined legislative and regulatory authority to administer these crossings. According to the Department of Transport, there is currently no process to approve the construction of new bridges or tunnels or alterations to existing structures.

In the past, the construction of a bridge or tunnel was authorized by a special act of Parliament and by the adoption of identical legislation in the United States. Again according to the department, consultation of key players was carried out and the provisions of Bill C-44 received considerable support. The majority of players were eager to participate in the regulatory process.

The provisions in this new bill are practically identical to those in Bill C-44. The enactment contains two new provisions: approval for all changes in ownership, operation and control, and clarification of the process for obtaining permits to build bridges over the St. Lawrence River.

Besides confirming the federal government’s jurisdiction with respect to international bridges and tunnels, the proposed legislation would enable the federal government to issue guidelines concerning approval for the construction or alteration of new and existing bridges or tunnels; specify conditions regarding bridge maintenance and operation; approve changes in ownership, control or operation of international bridges or tunnels; and finally, ensure that the crossings are safe and secure.

The expression “international bridge or tunnel” means “a bridge or tunnel, or any part of it, that connects any place in Canada to any place outside Canada, and includes the approaches and facilities related to the bridge or tunnel”. As hon. members know, international bridges or tunnels cannot be build without government approval. Such approval may be given to the site or plans of an international bridge over the St. Lawrence River.

Other provisions state that the government may make regulations respecting the maintenance, repair, operation, use, security and safety of international bridges and tunnels. The bill also provides that the Minister may make any appropriate directions, if he is of the opinion that there is an immediate threat to the security or safety of any international bridge or tunnel or to the safety of persons. Government approval would also be necessary to change the ownership, control or operation of international bridges or tunnels. Under this bill, it would also be possible to establish a crown corporation to administer a bridge or tunnel.

Unfortunately, very broad police powers are being granted to the government, such as the power to investigate without a warrant and a most authoritarian power of seizure. I am referring to clause 39.

A great deal of what Bill C-44 provided for is not covered by Bill C-3, particularly with respect to rail transportation. For instance, Bill C-44 proposed improvements to the shipper protection regime for rail service users and the elimination of the requirement for the Canada Transportation Agency to determine whether the commercial harm to the shipper would be substantial.

It would appear that the time allotted me has expired.

International Bridges and Tunnels Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but as she knows, it is time for statements by members. After question period, she will have 12 minutes to finish her remarks.

Devils Lake
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Prime Minister for improving relations with our closest neighbour, and successfully concluding a deal on softwood lumber. It is good to see that our Prime Minister and this government can deal with our southern neighbours after the Liberals spent 13 years destroying our relations with the Americans.

This bodes well for all the other issues on which we have to work with the Americans.

This spring Manitobans are once again faced with uncertainty about the protection of Lake Winnipeg due to the Devils Lake diversion. We are forced, once again, to deal with this issue despite claims made last year by the former Liberal government that it had signed a fictitious agreement to provide a permanent filter to protect Manitoba's waters.

This week I hosted a meeting with three of our ministers, municipalities surrounding Lake Winnipeg and the commercial fishing industry. We have to start focusing on the science and develop an ongoing respectful dialogue between all the jurisdictions affected.

Everyone is well aware that this issue is one of many that is of great importance to both our nations. I am confident that this Conservative government and our Prime Minister will be able to keep working constructively with the U.S., as demonstrated yesterday.

Darfur
Statements by Members

April 28th, 2006 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we speak, thousands of people are being systematically slaughtered, raped and pillaged by Sudanese government sponsored militias in Darfur.

Sixty five years ago the world remained silent to the death of millions and vowed never again. This week our country marked the Holocaust Remembrance Day and yet today genocidal horrors are once again going unchallenged.

Today we must speak up against the evils occurring in Darfur. On Sunday, at Toronto city hall, thousands of people will gather to shout for Darfur. I stand with them in calling for Canada to be a leader in ending the horrendous violence in Darfur.

I call upon all members of the House, and all people of good conscience, to take action on this issue.

Softwood Lumber
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the executive vice-president and general manager of the Free Trade Lumber Council, Carl Grenier, has said that yesterday was a very sad day for the softwood lumber industry in Quebec and Canada.

The federal government's stubborn refusal to provide solid support for the softwood lumber industry led to the situation we are in today.

Softwood lumber companies are not to blame for caving in to pressure from the Americans. The current and previous federal governments are to blame for refusing to put in place a serious aid program for the industry, including loan guarantees, as the Bloc Québécois, companies and workers demanded. Such measures would have put us in a stronger negotiating position and resulted in a better agreement.

In addition, by accepting an agreement that goes against the principle of full free trade, the Prime Minister weakened NAFTA and its dispute settlement mechanisms.

National Day of Mourning
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1991 NDP MP Rod Murphy sponsored an act respecting a day of mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace. It proclaimed April 28 as National Day of Mourning.

According to the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, Canada's rate of workplace fatalities is now among the worst in the industrialized world. Employers and governments are failing on this front and working people are paying for this failure with their health and their lives.

In 1984, when the National Day of Mourning was initiated, 744 workers were listed as having died from workplace injuries. Twenty years later, in 2004, that number stood at 928. In 2003 the Westray bill finally gave courts the right to hold corporations criminally responsible for unsafe working conditions.

Today, the NDP recommits our efforts to create safe workplaces where employers take full responsibility for the health and safety of their workers and where the government enforces the rules that are in place.

Keystone Centre
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I recently attended the grand opening of the Agricultural Centre of Excellence, the newest addition to our Keystone Centre complex in Brandon and western Manitoba. The Keystone now boasts a world class facility, including 540,000 square feet under one roof. The latest addition to the Agricultural Centre of Excellence and related upgrades makes the Keystone Centre a prominent economic generator for the western Manitoba region.

Home to the Brandon Wheat Kings, several other hockey and curling leagues, groups and organizations, the upgraded facility can accommodate up to 800 animals as well as being host to many special regional and national agricultural events. The Keystone Centre will host several significant events over the next year.

This June marks the 125th anniversary of the Annual Manitoba Summer Fair. As well, the 30th Annual Manitoba Ag Days and the 100th Annual Royal Manitoba Winter Fair are in the planning stages for 2007.

I invite all Canadians to put Brandon and western Manitoba on their holiday schedule this year.

Steve Stavro
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Monday my friend Steve Stavro passed away in Toronto. Steve was born in Macedonia, as was I, and we knew each other for a number of years.

Steve's accomplishments in his adopted home of Canada were many. He began the Knobb Hill Farms grocery chain, but his love for sports was enduring. He owned the Toronto Maple Leafs and was active in Toronto's soccer scene. Steve was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1992 and in 2005 was inducted in the builder category into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.

His love for sports was only unmatched by his love for his wife Sally, four daughters, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Like Alexander the Great, Steve was great in his community charity work, to his family, friends and business associates. I know I speak on behalf of many Canadians when I say that Steve will be greatly missed. He was truly a great Canadian.

Canadian Cattlemen's Association
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate a respected rancher and constituent of my riding of Macleod, Mr. Hugh Lynch-Staunton of Lundbreck, Alberta on his recent election to President of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

Mr. Lynch-Staunton comes from a family of distinguished individuals. His father was lieutenant governor of Alberta and his cousin John recently retired from the Senate of Canada.

He is undertaking a great role in ensuring Canadian cattle producers have the best environment possible to make a profit from the market. Under Mr. Lynch-Staunton's leadership, the Canadian cattle industry continues to work with this government to ensure that trade with the United States and other countries will soon be returned to normal volumes, traditional before the first case of BSE in May 2003.

I, as the member of Parliament for Macleod, look forward to working with Mr. Lynch-Staunton and the 90,000 beef producers across Canada to return to a normal market situation.

Tennis
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, after a 20-year absence, Frédéric Niemeyer returned to the Rock Forest recreation centre, where he made his professional debut, from March 11 to 19, when he competed in front of a home crowd in the National Bank Futures tournament in Sherbrooke. Mr. Niemeyer, who is originally from Deauville, is ranked 179th in the world.

Created to showcase the most talented players from Quebec and from Canada, the National Bank Futures tournaments allow our athletes to accumulate ATP points and win $10,000 in prize money.

The Bloc Québécois would like to thank and congratulate the recreation centre and the Sherbrooke tennis club and its president, François Lefevbre, for organizing the tournament. They gave us a chance to see a Quebec tennis great in action, along with two upcoming young players from the Eastern Townships: Sébastien Jacques of Magog and Alexandre Desmarais of Deauville.

We also congratulate the tournament winner, seventh-seeded Robin Haase from the Netherlands.

Terrorism
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, this government is concerned with the intensification of violence in Sri Lanka, triggered by Tuesday's suicide bombing.

We condemn all terrorist acts as demonstrated most recently by our listing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam pursuant to the Criminal Code.

Norway, which has been facilitating the peace process between the parties, is currently working on the ground to bring them back to the negotiating table.

The government of Sri Lanka has stated its continued support for the ceasefire agreement and willingness to return to negotiations. We urge both parties to cooperate with the Norwegian facilitators and agree upon a date for the resumption of talks.

National Day of Mourning
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, today is the National Day of Mourning. It is a day the constituents of the Churchill riding know only too well. This day we remember Canadians who have lost their lives in a work related death and those who have lost their health due to the workplace. Many of us in the House and across the country have been affected in one way or another by a workplace accident or tragedy.

In my riding of Churchill injuries happen not only in the high risk industries of logging or mining, fishing or construction, but they happen in all occupations. Injuries in a rural riding can be most challenging, often requiring travel to access health care and further travel for appropriate treatments. This difficulty is compounded by the emotional and often financial burden for the families.

Young people are quick to jump at opportunities to work, but these new workers have higher rates of injuries than other people, often within the first couple of days or weeks of starting their new job.

This National Day of Mourning gives us, as Canadians, a chance to remember the value of both work and safety and each other.

I ask all members to work together as parliamentarians toward the goal of safer workplaces for all people.

Softwood Lumber
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was a historic day for the forestry industry in Canada. After us suffering through 13 years of Liberal inaction, it took only 80 days for our Prime Minister and this government to find a resolution to the softwood dispute.

The Liberal record is abysmal on this file. The previous prime minister was willing to sell out the return of illegal duties. He clearly stated that the return of only $3.5 billion was just okay with him. The former member for Papineau, as foreign affairs minister, was willing to get rid of the exemption for Atlantic producers. It is obvious that the previous Liberal government did not have the interests of the forestry industry in mind and was willing to sell out the industry just to get a deal.

The deal will improve the balance sheets of our Canadian forestry companies. The residents and the forestry industry of Saskatchewan are extremely pleased with this deal. This is a good deal for our country, for our residents and for the forestry industry in my riding. Under this Prime Minister, what Canada wanted is what Canada got.

Foreign Affairs
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, the rescue of James Loney and two other hostages in Iraq ended an anxious four month ordeal for my community of Sault Ste. Marie.

James' parents, Patrick and Claudette, rejoiced with their other children. For 118 days, neighbours, church and other friends offered steadfast prayer and support. Like James, the community is grateful to God, to the soldiers, government and diplomats who rescued him, and to supporters who were his voice during captivity.

Typical of James, his first words of gratitude included remembering others in detention, in prison or on security certificates without due process. His deepest wish is that every forsaken human being has a hand of solidarity reaching out to them.

The Christian Peacekeeper witness to non-violent peacemaking challenges the rhetoric of violence. The world is bigger than only “us and them”.