House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendment.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Karen Redman

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the vote be deferred to the end of government orders today.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Accordingly the vote stands deferred until the end of government orders this day.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Marine Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Pilotage Act and other Acts in consequence, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's Ruling
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

There is one motion in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-23. Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted upon.

I shall now put Motion No. 1 to the House.

Motions in amendment
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Josée Verner Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-23, in Clause 15, be amended by replacing line 36 on page 7 with the following:

“subparagraph 25(a)(iv).”

Motions in amendment
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I understand the amendment was put forward by the government and accepted by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. The amendment we are debating today corrects a drafting oversight to correct a reference to reflect the new numbering of paragraphs in the proposed amendment to section 25. It brings conformity between the French and the English in this case.

I will not waste the time of taxpayers. We have already debated the issue of Bill C-23, and I do not want to be ruled out of order, Mr. Speaker, as you would do if it went anywhere except for the amendment itself. I do not want to delay such an important bill. How much can we talk about an “a”, which is simply the change?

I would like to read supportive quotes in relation to Bill C-23 from the Shipping Federation of Canada, the Chamber of Marine Commerce and the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, but again, Mr. Speaker, you would rule me out of order because it is not on the point of the “a”.

Clause by clause took 27 minutes, almost a record in the House, because this is such an important bill for our marine industry. However, Mr. Speaker, you would rule me out of order, so in this case I ask that all members of all parties support the bill and the change in the “a”, which is so important to bring conformity between the French and the English.

Having said that, I am done with the debate.

Motions in amendment
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be engaged in this debate. My hon. colleague opposite gave me an indication that he wanted to be brief and he was looking for me to, how shall I put it, be like the leopard that could change it spots and perhaps follow his example in brevity.

On a bill of such great import, he wanted me to be brief and not illustrate the import of this bill. I am going to try to follow his example. Even my hon. colleague from Montreal says it is absolutely important for us to stake out a position on this and make sure that we elucidate it with the clarity that we would have on this bill.

I am going to try to do it. With all due respect to the parliamentary secretary, this bill, as I said, is extremely important, for a couple of reasons. One of them, of course, is that it falls into the great tradition of Liberal bills that have taken on another coat in this Parliament. It is one of the bills that our government, in its previous Parliament, put forward for consideration. I was pleased that the current government saw fit to emulate the example.

It came before the committee. In the committee, it received thorough discussion, and for the second reason. That second reason is that this is an important economic measure brought forth to ensure that the infrastructure of the ports system in Canada functions according to all of those means and all of those standards that we have come to label as purely Canadian, which are the following: first, transparent; second, efficient; third, building on all of the partnerships involved in ensuring that the ports system will be reflective of the infrastructure needs of this country; fourth, that it involve the people who are expert in the maintenance and in the running of these operations, according to the business models that we expect would pass the scrutiny of our own system, including the Auditor General; and fifth, it would ensure that the inefficiencies that might exist by virtue of the fact that smaller entities operating often in competition with each other are amalgamated into an environment and into an authority that can provide the services required not only by shippers, i.e. their main clients, but also by the macro needs of the country, and that is an efficient transportation system to get our goods and our services, but primarily our goods, to the foreign markets.

Members will recall that in the last Parliament we initiated a couple of gateways to the economic dynamics of Canada, an Atlantic gateway, a Pacific gateway and, as well, an internal Great Lakes gateway, a central Canada gateway. All of these required the appropriate measures to ensure that the port authorities could function as units, as economic business units capable of delivering an economic service and capable of surviving the operational challenges that come to operating a business that has to meet others' needs.

It was important for us, especially in the committee, to understand that the ebb and flow of business patterns does change, but that these ports would be prepared to ensure that those changes in the economic cycles and in the special economic needs would be reflected in their capacities.

The parliamentary secretary and I tried to find common ground on this, as we found with the critic for the Bloc. I always forget what the name of the riding is, but he will forgive me, I am sure. I cannot mention that it is Monsieur Laframboise, so I will try not to, but we tried to find a common ground and make positive recommendations on how to improve legislation, and we did do that.

Motions in amendment
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member is always very good at speaking and is a great orator, and I know he wants to take credit for another Conservative bill that we got passed because the Liberals simply did not get it done for so many years, but notwithstanding that, this is debate is on the amendment. It is on the letter “a”.

I am wondering if the member could actually deal with the letter “a”, because that is what the amendment is all about. It is about bringing the French and the English into consistency. It is not about the bill itself. We have already dealt with that. Could the member deal with the amendment itself?

Motions in amendment
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. parliamentary secretary does bring up a good point about relevance to the actual amendment we are debating. I will also take this opportunity to remind the hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence that he cannot do indirectly what he cannot do directly. Perhaps he was trying to think of the riding name of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel when he was referring to the member from the Bloc and will not use the member's proper name again.

If he could stay relevant to the amendment and refrain from using proper names, it would be appreciated.

Motions in amendment
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, you will not find a more humble member than myself, and I am appreciative of the fact that you were able to assist me, while we were in the middle of debate, in remembering the hon. member's riding, Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, so I want to give him due credit. Now I am going to be forced to give everybody else due credit as well.

I wanted as well to thank the parliamentary secretary, who has just illustrated how we operate cooperatively on the committee, because he has pointed that it is important to understand both the form as well as the substance of the letter “a”. If he is suggesting that perhaps by focusing on the letter “a”, which has ramifications for some of the economic and financial structures that are part and parcel of the bill in flowing to this particular amendment, I am only hoping that he will be at least as patient when I go through the other 25 letters of the alphabet associated with the bill.

However, he is absolutely right. We are talking right now about an amendment to all of that fine work that we put together as members of the committee. I want to say hats off to the new NDP member on the committee, who is struggling very hard to find something difficult with this bill, and I imagine he is going to have difficulty with the letter “a”. Otherwise, he is going to be absolutely happy with everything else.

As I said, the other things that one would be happy with, the other 25 letters of the alphabet or the style associated with the “a”, have to do with giving these ports the opportunity to function as true financial entities capable of meeting the challenges of the economic cycles and the opportunity to access all of those benefits available to growing businesses under the infrastructure program. I know the parliamentary secretary would have wanted to say that too. I see him nodding his head, indicating yes, this is right, but I want to thank him as well for reminding me that people can colour a particular letter not only in style, but in a particular kaleidoscope of colours.

However, any way we colour this letter “a”, the bill was getting it done, as they say. It has become part of the lexicon of the House now, “getting it done”, and it gets done because people in the House are men and women of goodwill and they develop that goodwill from an emotive and religious disposition, an ideological disposition, and convert it into political will.

I think what has happened is that there has been an expression of political will to ensure that the bill does receive the support of the House and that when we bring it here, as we are doing now, to discuss nothing more than one small fragment of this great plan, the letter “a” in all of its style and all of its kaleidoscopic colours, really what we mean is the members of the committee, and there are many. I mentioned, of course, the member whom indirectly I could not mention but directly was able to with respect to his riding, and as well the parliamentary secretary. I do not want to lose sight of the fact that the chairmanship of the committee was such that it allowed us to work properly.

That is a lesson that some of the other chairs might learn. They could look at this and see that the positive legislation that has actually come forward in the House. Whether it has been under the letter “a” or the letter “b”, or whether it has come in red vestiges or blue coats, it has really been from that committee of transport.

My hat goes off to my colleagues who worked on that committee together to ensure that we could present the bill. The only fly in the ointment was the letter “a” and I am glad that we are dealing with it today, so the letter “a” should be accepted as well and we would go on with this great bill.

Motions in amendment
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I just cannot resist this. I do not know whether you are aware of the fact that there is an award in my name on the Internet. It is in honour of members of Parliament who have said the most inane thing.

Apparently at some time back I was found guilty of saying something that was totally meaningless, so an individual created the award in my name, and I believe that the speech just given on the letter “a” qualifies. I hope the hon. member gets the award for this week.

Usually when we give a speech, the reason is to try to persuade other members to our way of thinking on an issue. In this particular case, the amendment is to insert the single alphabetic letter “a”. The member did not propose an alternate letter and he did not propose that it should not be inserted, so it is indeed the most inane speech we have had in the House for weeks.

Motions in amendment
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we are wont to say in this place, there was probably a question in there somewhere, but I guess my glasses did not give me the appropriate vision to discover it. It must fall under the category of comment.

I think the award the member was thinking of was really one that said “someone who is capable of talking about a very small issue at great length in order to elucidate and clarify the issues for even those who are short of wit and very narrow of sight”. I welcome the flattery associated with that kind of distinction, although I must say, being consistent with what I said earlier about self-characterization of humility, that I cannot accept the compliment.

Motions in amendment
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member, because I think that for all the people who have been listening to the last 10 minutes of the member's speech, that speech really has proven to Canadians that two years and three months ago they actually made the right choice and elected a government that is getting things done for Canadians, that listens to stakeholders, as it is in this case, that quits wasting time, and that really gets the best things done for Canadians. That is what we are doing.

I thank the member for that and I hope all Canadians were watching, because sooner or later they are going to have the opportunity again. I wonder if the member thinks that this is what is going to happen again.

Motions in amendment
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that I can resist the temptation associated with that reflection. I think what my hon. colleague, the parliamentary secretary, wanted to illustrate is that governments can get things done when opposition members are convinced that an idea is well worth supporting. That is how things get done. If one wants to be an obstructionist, then of course one can prevent anything from taking place.

However, here I cannot be humble, I think, because I must accept the compliment for all members of the official opposition party. I am sure the other opposition parties can reflect on their own. As for characterizing us as those who have the gravitas and statesmanship of wanting to see good in legislation and then ferreting out those aspects of goodness that must be supported, then I must accept the compliment for all of my colleagues. Yes, we work hard and we try to get the job done. We are glad that the government supports our perspective.

Motions in amendment
Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, to address the amendment to Bill C-23 proposed by the Conservative Party.

First of all, my colleague from Eglinton—Lawrence, who spoke on behalf of the Liberal Party, was quite right to make the comments he did concerning this amendment. It is a very superficial amendment, but it is so important that it is delaying the passing of the bill. Once again, I have a very hard time listening to the parliamentary secretary, a Conservative member. They seem to want to blame the opposition when it comes to discussions on the amendment. Yes, it might seem very minor, since it is an amendment to align—which the Bloc Québécois will support—but it is also important to say that it is a mistake on the part of the government. If Bill C-23 has not yet passed and, once again, the entire marine community does not benefit, it is because the bill was not completed by the Conservative government.

The Conservatives can say what they like. I would very much like to be able to support the government—in committee, the Conservatives were proud that the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois were supporting them—but I hope they will show a little respect here today when they ask us, once again, to vote in favour of this amendment. We will do so, but it is also very important that they understand that they are the framers of the bill. If there was a mistake in the bill, the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals are not to blame. It is the Conservative Party's fault.

I trust it will be democratic and permit us to explain to all those listening, to the citizens in our ridings and to all those interested in marine transportation, that Bill C-23 must be made complete and that this amendment will improve it. Yes, the Bloc Québécois will support it, but it is important also that the Conservatives understand that the bill was delayed because they did not do their job. Once again, they were in too much of a hurry to introduce the bill. Of course this is typical of the Conservative Party, which is not very rigorous in the way it operates. There is a reason why several committees are paralyzed in this House. That is how the Conservatives operate. However, they will never be able to prevent us from rising to point this out to them and to make them understand this, even if we do support them on occasion.

Bill C-23, first introduced by the Liberals, was reintroduced by the Conservatives. The Bloc Québécois supported it then and will do so today. We wish to help the marine transportation sector. However the bill must be complete.

The proposed amendment is being made for consistency. Those following this matter closely will say that the devil is in the details. Today, this small detail is forcing the government to ask for the support of the House in order to adopt this amendment, which is an important one, even though it is small and consists of only one line. We want to prevent legal proceedings from being taken against the minister—in this case—which could jeopardize the application of all of Bill C-23.

Naturally, I hope that the Conservative members and the parliamentary secretary will understand that it is important for the citizens watching us to know why such minor amendments are made. It is because they are important to an understanding of the law as a whole. We will need it if we ever have to go to court. We have to have a complete bill in order to prevent port authorities from having certain situations, that they believed could arise, challenged in court. That is why this amendment, although minor, is important. And, I will say it again, we will vote in favour of this amendment.

To us, everything is important. Every line, every sentence, every clause in Bill C-23 is important. The government can count on the full support of the Bloc Québécois in implementing this bill, as amended by this amendment, which the government had neglected to make. Once again, the Conservative Party is the legislator and it had neglected this. Again, we can assure the government of our full support so that the marine sector can have space to develop. That is what was lacking.

This is what will enable Bill C-23, as amended, to really help the marine sector develop fully. The port authorities that own the ports and manage the land adjacent to seaports must be able to borrow the money they need and move forward. This bill will mean they can get what they need to develop and keep pace with the surge in marine transportation. This sector is expanding rapidly and needs Bill C-23, as amended by today's amendment.

I hope that the Conservatives will understand that this is important. People who followed the progress of Bill C-23 in committee were wondering why it had not been adopted. It was because the bill contained a small typographical error that the Conservative Party had neglected to correct. Today that error has been corrected, and the Bloc Québécois is proud to support this measure in the interest of the entire marine sector.