House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was authorities.

Topics

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, thank my friend for his support of Bill C-23.

As a member of the transportation committee, I too had an opportunity to participate in the discussion and hear witnesses. Not one witness spoke against the legislation.

I come from the west coast. The Vancouver Fraser Port is very important to me. It is very important to the economy of British Columbia and to the economy of the country. Any delays at all in moving the legislation forward will hurt our economy.

Mr. Gordon Houston and Mr. Duncan Wilson, representatives from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, visited me yesterday.They expressed serious concern, and it was not about the legislation. Their concern was about the delays that were occurring in the House. There was consensus at committee that this was excellent legislation and that it was important for the productivity of our country, yet the NDP is delaying and obstructing it.

Does the member know why that is occurring and will these delay have an impact on the ability of the Montreal Port Authority to move ahead with improvements to its facility?

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I said it in my speech. Had we not had the election, this bill would have been passed and gone forward. The Conservatives have to stop blaming the opposition for not passing bills. This is a slam dunk. The government has the consent of our side of the House and with Conservative members, the bill can be passed rather quickly.

The government has to get on with its vision and move on to bigger and better things. The bill should have been adopted ages ago. The Conservatives should be tabling new bills addressing the challenges that we will be facing in 2008 and not 2004.

Let us get going and pass the bill.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to speak to Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Marine Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Pilotage Act and other Acts in consequence.

For the benefit of our listeners and my colleagues in this House, it is important to briefly go over the content of the bill. This bill has a very specific objective concerning Canada's port authorities.

I will use Quebec as an example. Not all the ports in Quebec that our citizens are familiar with will benefit from this legislation. Five ports have port authorities. Those port authorities are autonomous management companies. They are in Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City, Port Saguenay and Sept-Îles. They are responsible for the administration of the ports, as well as domestic and international trade, and they form what is known as the national port system.

This bill targets these ports that have port authorities, autonomous management companies. They have constantly changing needs. There is a reason I previously gave the example of the port of Vancouver. The Liberals created the Asia-Pacific corridor, and the Conservatives have put money into the Pacific gateway. But both the Conservatives and the Liberals forgot that Canada had other maritime gateways. The St. Lawrence-Great Lakes corridor is another extremely important gateway.

This bill enables port authorities to take advantage of infrastructure programs. We have to be careful, though, because the $33 billion in funding announced includes only one infrastructure program. I am not making that up. It is in the Conservative government's budget. It was in the economic statement last fall. Of the $33 billion, $1 billion is set aside for the Asia-Pacific corridor and the Pacific gateway, which means for the port of Vancouver and, I believe, Fraser port.

What this will mean for other ports once this bill is adopted is that they will have to apply for funding to other infrastructure programs, many of which are intended for cities.

This is important to us. I want to tell my Conservative and Liberal colleagues that the Bloc Québécois is the conscience of Quebeckers. That is why Quebeckers elected us: to point out the gaps in all the bills that apply to Quebec. We are happy to do this, and that is why we work collaboratively.

We will support this bill, but we have to be able to raise red flags. We are the only party that raises red flags for Quebeckers. Once again, the funding announced includes money only for the Pacific gateway. The Liberals created the gateway, and the Conservatives have continued funding it. We shall see what happens.

As I said earlier, this bill will enable port authorities to apply to various infrastructure programs, something they were prohibited from doing by the legislation that created them.

When the port authorities were created, just like when the airport authorities were created, they were supposed to pay for themselves. That is why users and shipowners pay fees to use port facilities. Airports have their airport improvement fees—the AIFs that people pay every time they buy a plane ticket. These authorities were supposed to pay for themselves.

In the marine transportation sector, economic development is tied to development. The industry is changing, and marine transportation is growing. Major new facilities will be needed in various ports for all kinds of reasons.

Earlier, someone talked about how the Montreal port needs $500 million. An application will probably be submitted for that money. The port of Montreal wants to be able to accommodate cruise ships. Montreal is one of our most beautiful cities, along with Quebec City and other cities. I mean those with ports, like Sept-Îles. The member for Manicouagan, who is doing such a good job of representing the region, knows that the city of Sept-Îles is a very beautiful city. We also have Port Saguenay, Quebec City, Trois-Rivières and Montreal. Among other things, Montreal would like to invest a lot of money in facilities to accommodate passengers there. That could mean an investment of about $500 million.

The Bloc Québécois would like to see that happen. However, we would not want Montreal to apply for funding from infrastructure programs and be competing with applications from the City of Montreal. We do not want what is happening in Toronto to happen in Montreal.

I am from Quebec, and I stand up for the interests of Quebeckers. With all due respect to the members from Ontario—I have no idea what they are doing about it—the City of Toronto and the Toronto Port Authority are at war. I do not want to see these conflicts get any worse and spread to the other ports I mentioned earlier—Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City, Sept-Îles and Saguenay. Port authorities can now apply for funding from infrastructure programs, and they do not necessarily have the same vision as the cities. It is important to emphasize that.

We have to tell the Conservative government that it must not give all of the money to the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor. It will have to invest money. We know that is not in this year's budget, but we hope that the Conservative government will listen to us and that next year, there will be significant funding for development of the St. Lawrence—Great Lakes corridor.

This bill will also allow the borrowing limit to be increased. The port authorities, the port of Vancouver among others, have maximized their borrowing capacity, likely as a result of their rapid growth, and would like to do business like any other private organization. That is more or less the case. They will be allowed to make borrowing rules and access the markets with their income. Their borrowing limit is being increased to allow them to further their own development.

The port of Montreal is not asking for this because it does not have any debt. That is why the Bloc Québécois has to be the conscience of Quebeckers. If the port of Montreal could apply to infrastructure programs, it would not borrow money and go into debt just because other ports, like the port of Vancouver, are in debt. There needs to be some logic in all this and every port should be allowed to develop within their own limits.

In addition to the increased borrowing limit and the ability to apply to different infrastructure programs, governance is being improved and the ports will be allowed in their letters patent to manage real property. This is something the port authorities asked for in order to have more latitude in managing the federal government's assets and to be able to purchase property and other facilities.

All this is because the ports are undergoing intensive development. They want to be able to make forecasts and acquire property before an expansion. They wanted to have the financial ability to plan and not have to wait until the last-minute. Sometimes while they are waiting to acquire the land around a port, the price goes up. If port authorities could plan their investments over ten or more years, they could immediately start acquiring land and rent it out in the meantime, for other purposes, until they can use it to achieve their development objectives.

We have to be careful. We cannot allow them to become speculators for the government. Once again, the Bloc Québécois will be the conscience of Quebeckers. We will make sure the bill is used appropriately by the port authorities. We are prepared to give them this chance to develop and plan their development. However, we do not want this to interfere with the major development the cities are planning in their own jurisdictions. That is where we draw the line because when we allow port authorities to apply to the same infrastructure programs as the cities, there is a problem.

No one can tell us otherwise. There is only one envelope for marine transportation and that is the billion dollars for the Asia-Pacific gateway announced by the federal government. No other monies have been set aside in the infrastructure program for the St. Lawrence—Great lakes corridor in particular, which is an underutilized corridor. Earlier I heard a Liberal member say that they had contributed to its development.

The St. Lawrence Seaway is underutilized. I will give you some statistics. The total amount of goods shipped on the St. Lawrence fell from 130 million tonnes in the early 1980s to 100 million and 105 million tonnes in recent years. Once again, even with a 5 million tonne increase in the past three years, we have nevertheless lost 25 million tonnes in marine shipping on the St. Lawrence since 1980.

However, over the past 30 years, shipping has increased 600% internationally. On the Mississippi system, which is the St. Lawrence's direct competitor, shipping has increased from 450 million to 700 million tonnes. There is not one Liberal who can boast about that in this House.

Since the early 1980s, the St. Lawrence has lost out with shipping falling from 130 million to 105 million tonnes, whereas on the Mississippi shipping has increased from 450 million to 700 million tonnes and international shipping has increased by 600%. Once again, the governments, both Liberal and Conservative, underestimated the capacity of the St. Lawrence—Great Lakes corridor, which is the main access route to the central United States. Again, the governments overlooked Quebec and Ontario.

It must be said—we are very honest—when we defend Quebec and the St. Lawrence—Great Lakes corridor, we are defending the Great Lakes and Ontario, whether the Liberal members like it or not. They have a majority in Ontario, and have seen marine transportation in the St. Lawrence—Great Lakes corridor decline, but it did not seem to bother them, and it does not seem to bother them now.

Once again, the Bloc Québécois is alone in defending this very important St. Lawrence—Great Lakes corridor. Why? Because we have five very important ports in Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City, Port Saguenay et Sept-Îles. We want these ports to be able to develop without having to compete with municipalities. That is why we will call for an independent program.

Yes, this bill is important so that port authorities are able to increase their borrowing capacity, acquire land to plan their development over the next 10 years, and apply to infrastructure programs. But these ports in Quebec and in other regions, such as Ontario, should not have to compete with municipalities in the other infrastructure programs, because there was no money allocated for the St. Lawrence—Great Lakes corridor, as there was for the Pacific gateway.

Once again, the Bloc Québécois is proud to be the conscience of Quebeckers. It is the only party in this House to do so.

World War I Veteran
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to recognize an extraordinary woman. Her name is Gladys Powers and she is celebrating a birthday.

I know that a gentleman never discusses a lady's age, but in this case I know the House will agree that an exception should be made. On May 10, Gladys will turn 109 years old.

That is only part of the story. Gladys was a world traveller. Born in England, she lived in Turkey and Australia. Her life has straddled three different centuries. Today she calls Abbotsford, B.C. her home.

What really sets Gladys apart is that at the tender age of 15, she fibbed about her age and enlisted in the British Women's Auxiliary in World War I. Today, she is not only Canada's oldest war veteran, but also the world's last surviving female veteran of World War I.

What a remarkable life. I call on my colleagues to support me in wishing Gladys Powers a happy 109th birthday.

Cancer
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, April is the Canadian Cancer Society's Daffodil Month, in recognition of the millions of Canadians touched by cancer.

Unfortunately, most Canadians know, or will know, someone who has suffered from cancer in their lifetime.

According to statistics this year approximately 166,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer and about 74,000 will die from this terrible disease. The new numbers also suggest that one out of four Canadians will succumb to cancer. This is shocking.

It is important that we do not give up on the fight against this terrible affliction. We must take the opportunity to better understand this disease and to appeal to all governments and to all the people of Canada to step up and show their support. Together we can and will make cancer history.

Doctors Munger and Lamontagne
Statements By Members

April 11th, 2008 / 11 a.m.

Bloc

Raymond Gravel Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to echo the Sherbrooke AQDR which, on April 4, thanked two doctors from the region for taking a stand on behalf of seniors who are not receiving the guaranteed income supplement.

Doctors Munger and Lamontagne put out an appeal to all citizens with an interest in social justice to spread the word about the guaranteed income supplement and offer to help a senior take the necessary steps to receive the money they are owed.

The two doctors said that this would be productive because there are approximately 1,500 people in the Eastern Townships who are eligible for the supplement yet do not receive it. Their pension income totals about $6,000 per year, but they are eligible for an additional amount that could be as high as $7,000 for a single person. They added, “If only this money could lead to better food and housing—”.

Along with my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois, I would like to congratulate Doctors Munger and Lamontagne for their initiative, and I hope that it will produce results.

Homelessness
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week the metro Vancouver 2008 homeless count was released. It is no surprise that the numbers are up yet again. The number of those living on the street was up 37% over 2005, and up 131% overall since 2002. It is likely even higher given the difficulty of actually taking the count.

Continued homelessness is just plain wrong. Homelessness in a wealthy country like ours with huge government surpluses is an outrage. The fact that this national crisis does not dominate our politics is the real scandal of the day.

Existing housing programs must be renewed for the long term. The Conservatives must immediately finance a multi-year national housing program with set targets that actually builds homes. Use the surplus. Cancel tax cuts for profitable corporations. Take action now.

Every Saturday groups of citizens in the Vancouver area stand on street corners in silent witness to the need for urgent action. Every Saturday more people join these stands. Citizens know what is needed. When will the government join them and build housing?

Community Boosters
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past week marked the passing of two tremendous citizens and community boosters in Lambton—Kent—Middlesex who lived their lives in service to others.

Murray Newkirk lived 95 years as a businessman and one of the driving forces behind Wallaceburg's Kiltie Band. He loved music and he used his voice as a member of the church choir where he also served on the board for numerous years. Murray is fondly remembered first and foremost as a gentleman.

Reverend Bob Whalls passed away suddenly at the all too young age of 52. Reverend Whalls pastored a United Church three point charge, and he was the longest current serving member of the Wallaceburg Ministerial Association and was the Padre of the Wallaceburg Legion. Uniquely, Reverend Whalls was also an active member of the Soul Patrol, a group of Christian motorcycle enthusiasts who collected can goods for local food banks and provided motorcycle rides to seniors.

I ask the House to please join me in honouring two very well-lived lives.

Afghanistan
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada needs a balanced three-prong approach in Afghanistan: security, development and democratic peace building.

Our troops have been doing brave and honourable work. It is now time that Canada's NATO allies shouldered their fair share of the mission's weight.

Canada has lost 82 of its bravest citizens and seen more than 300 wounded from this conflict. With the military price tag skyrocketing under the Conservative government, Canada must shift its focus.

NATO countries must deploy substantial numbers of troops to Kandahar to allow Canadian troops to focus their efforts on training the Afghan army and police authorities. In parallel, Canada must help facilitate a democratic peacebuilding and reconciliation process between warlords and different religious and ethnic factions, recognizing that there is no military based solution to the conflict. We must also shift our focus to reconstruction and development assistance.

Only with a balanced approach can we be successful in bringing peace to the Afghans.

Tibet
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, recently I met with members of the Tibetan community in Toronto to discuss the ongoing unrest in Tibet. It was an open exchange of views.

I was also encouraged to see Chinese Canadians demonstrating and calling for dialogue.

China needs to move forward. A golden opportunity has been presented to the Chinese through the hand of friendship and cooperation offered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We encourage the Chinese to seize it.

Canada will continue to encourage China to engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama, to fully respect human rights, respect peaceful protest, show restraint in dealing with the situation in Tibet, and allow unrestricted access to the entire affected region.

An early peaceful and sustainable resolution is in the interest of all.

Venant Cauchy
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, Venant Cauchy, a great Quebecker, a man of the world, an internationally renowned philosopher and an apostle of Quebec sovereignty, died last week at the venerable age of 83.

For many years, we were privileged to be part of his entourage, and to benefit from his friendship, his teachings and his wisdom.

Even when he knew his days were numbered, he kept thinking of the country of which he had always dreamed. I would like to read the last thing he wrote in Laval on March 8: “We would like to extend a cordial invitation to you to be part of Quebec's society, which welcomes all communities that are open to our country. May you find it to be a society that lives and breathes freedom and education. Long live a free Quebec!”

Venant, my Bloc Québécois colleagues and I salute you one last time.

Vaisakhi
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Conservative government, I congratulate Sikhs in Canada and around the world on the celebration of Vaisakhi.

In 1699 Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji created Khalsa and gave Sikhs a name, Singh or Kaur, along with a visible identity and the five kakars that are globally recognized as religious symbols. Guru Ji also gave Sikhs a code of conduct and discipline based on equality, justice, peace, courage, hard work, honesty, community service and the universality of the brotherhood.

Creation of Khalsa meant obliteration of all creed or caste based disparities and discriminations and the courage to fight injustice and oppression. His teachings are for all humankind.

During the last century, the Canadian Sikh community has made a significant contribution to the social, cultural and economic prosperity to our great country.

I invite all to celebrate Vaisakhi on Parliament Hill. The very best wishes to all on celebration of Vaisakhi.

Rwandan Genocide
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Monday the House unanimously adopted a motion commemorating the Rwandan genocide on its 14th anniversary.

During a three month period beginning April 7, 1994, 800,000 Rwandans were killed in an organized genocidal campaign. Nobody can say that we did not know. We knew, but we did not act.

In designating April 7 as a Day of Reflection on the Prevention of Genocide, we will be able to learn about, reflect upon and act upon the unlearned lessons of the Rwandan genocide.

First, the genocide occurred not because of the machinery of death, but because of the state sanctioned incitement of genocide. Second, the genocide was made possible by the indifference and inaction of the international community. Third, the international community must act to prevent genocide to begin with, rather than intervene after the fact when it is too late. Fourth, there is the danger of genocide denial, which constitutes an assault on truth, memory and justice.

It is tragic that while we recall the catastrophic effects of the Rwandan genocide, we have yet to act in the genocide in Darfur.

If Rwanda taught us anything, it is that the time to act is now. Tomorrow will be too late.

Manitoba
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, another provincial budget was introduced earlier this week and once again Canadians are seeing good results from our government's fiscal policy.

When Manitoba finance minister Greg Selinger tabled his budget, he listed area after area where Manitobans are benefiting from a positive federal-provincial relationship and strong federal investments. He talked about how federal investments will help Manitobans save more money, improve health care, transition to new jobs, upgrade their skills, increase productivity, build new wastewater infrastructure, hire more police officers and create better public transit. Finally, because of our fiscal policy, Manitoba was able to produce yet another balanced budget. The list goes on and on.

The real question is why the federal NDP cannot see what Premier Doer is doing. Why did the members for Elmwood—Transcona, Winnipeg Centre and Winnipeg North not tell their leader that budget 2008 is good for Manitoba and good for Canada? Why did they let their party vote against it? Is their leader that out of touch, or is he just not listening?

Our Corridor
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to give my support to the Our Corridor campaign, launched to help rebuild Vancouver Island's rail service.

A growing list of citizens, community groups and local politicians are getting on board, hoping to raise $103.8 million for upgrades to ensure viability. It is abundantly clear that this rail service would facilitate many opportunities for our island communities and include both economic and environmental benefits.

Once the rail corridor is upgraded, our businesses will have a seamless competitive advantage for exporting and importing products that is fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. At the present time, it is taking the equivalent of 2,900 large trailer trucks off the roads per year. With the proposed upgrades, this number could rise to almost 18,000 trucks per year.

The proposal supports an integrated transportation system that connects buses to trains, park and ride facilities and the use of bicycle and walking paths along the corridor. All that is needed now is for the federal government to make it to the station and get on board to support our island rail service.