House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was port.

Topics

Food and Drugs Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Food and Drugs Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Food and Drugs Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Yea.

Food and Drugs Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Food and Drugs Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Nay.

Food and Drugs Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the division stands deferred until Wednesday, May 7, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Bill C-5—Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Points of Order
Private Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order concerning the amendments at report stage of Bill C-5, An Act respecting civil liability and compensation for damage in case of a nuclear incident. Before you make a ruling on the selection of these amendments for debate, I would like to bring two things to your attention.

First, I point out that the member for Western Arctic is his party's energy critic and was present in committee during consideration of the clauses where report stage amendments had been proposed. He had the opportunity to move all these amendments at committee. When these clauses were debated at committee, he was signed in as a full member of the committee.

Standing Order 76.1(5) states:

The Speaker...will normally only select motions which were not or could not be presented in committee.

Second, I have concerns that some of these amendments would increase the cost to the Crown, and I would like to go through those.

Page 711 of Marleau and Montpetit states:

A royal recommendation not only fixes the allowable charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. An amendment which either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends it objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown's financial initiative.

Therefore, I submit that some of the amendments are inconsistent with the royal recommendation that accompanies the bill.

Motion No. 1 proposes to delete clause 21, which limits the liability of an operator to $650 million. I make the point that a similar motion was ruled out of order at committee. This change would apply to all nuclear operators, including those that are agents of the Crown, such as Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, which are funded by the government through appropriations.

The effect of this motion would increase the costs to the Crown of operating these reactors and therefore would require a royal recommendation. Again, I point out that this was ruled out of order by the Chair at committee. Further clause 26 authorizes the minister to reinsure the risk of operators, which can be funded out of the consolidated revenue fund under clause 27. Therefore, if clause 21 is deleted without the deletion of clause 26, there would be increased liability to the government and that would therefore infringe on the financial initiative of the Crown.

Motion No. 4 would delete subclauses 24(2) to (5). These provisions presently authorize operators to obtain alternate financial security. This change would apply to all nuclear operators, including those that are agents of the Crown such as Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, which are funded by the government through appropriations. The effect of this motion would increase the cost to the Crown of operating these reactors and therefore requires a royal recommendation.

Motion No. 8, as with Motion No. 1, was ruled out of order at committee. It would have the effect of repealing subclause 34(2) of the bill. Clause 34 relates to interim financial assistance that is payable to persons who, in the minister's opinion, have suffered damage as a result of a nuclear incident.

Subsection (2) of this clause states that the maximum amount paid under subsection (1) may not exceed 20% of the difference between: (a) the amount set out in subsection 21(1), which is $650 million; and (b) the total amounts paid by the operator before the declaration of the governor in council is made to compensate persons for damage arising from the nuclear incident.

A motion to increase the amount from 20% to 40% was defeated at committee on the basis that it would require a royal recommendation. By deleting clause 34(2) the minister could pay 100% of claims before the tribunal would be in a position to adjudicate any such claim for damage suffered as a result of the incident. Again, I point out that a similar motion was ruled out of order at committee.

Motions Nos. 6, 7, 9 and 10 propose to delete clauses of the bill which are designed to ensure the efficient operation of the tribunal established by the bill. For example, Motion No. 9 proposes to delete clause 47, which allows the tribunal to refuse to hear claims which are frivolous and vexatious. We dealt with this at committee where it was defeated. The deletion of these clauses would have the effect of increasing the operating costs to the tribunal and therefore should require a royal recommendation.

In conclusion, I point out, once again, that the member for Western Arctic was part of the committee when it heard much of the subject areas that were dealt with by these amendments. He had the opportunity to make those amendments. It is clear that the motions that would require a royal recommendation cannot be selected for debate at report stage.

The annotated Standing Orders at page 271 state:

Though not mentioned in this section, exception is made for motions requiring a Royal Recommendation, which are inadmissible at committee stage but admissible at report stage. However, if the necessary Royal Recommendation has not been placed on notice by the deadline required in section (3), the motion in question will not be selected.

I therefore submit that these motions should not be selected for debate.

Bill C-5—Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Points of Order
Private Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board.

Are there other submissions on this matter? This submission will be considered before the ruling is made.

The House resumed from April 11 consideration of the motion that Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Marine Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Pilotage Act and other Acts in consequence, be read the third time and passed.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-23 today. Before I begin I want to say that our thoughts are with the over 4,000 people who may have died during the tragedy in Burma on the weekend.

On November 16, 2007, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities introduced Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Marine Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Pilotage Act and other Acts in consequence, in the House of Commons. The bill is very similar in respect to its predecessor, Bill C-61, An Act to amend the Canada Marine Act and other Acts, which was introduced in the House of Commons on June 22, 2005 by the previous Liberal government. The bill died on the order paper with the dissolution of Parliament without having passed first reading.

Just to ensure our critic knows where I stand on this, I am in favour of the bill to modernize and increase the efficiency of our ports. I have a few questions and concerns on certain elements, but they are basically bringing forth the main points that we had in our bill. We are in agreement with the modernization of the ports in this trading world and to do anything that would make it more efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are so critical to my area in the north.

In 1998, during the Liberal government's term in office, the Canadian Marine Act received royal assent. This was the first comprehensive legislation to govern several aspects of Canada's marine legislation. In addition, the act allowed for the establishment of Canada Port Authorities, port facilities and continued divestiture of certain harbour beds.

The Canadian Marine Act assisted in the commercialization of the St. Lawrence Seaway and contained provisions for the further commercialization of federal ferry services.

In 2003, the Canadian Marine Act was subject to a legislative review and, since 2003, Transport Canada has carried out a number of studies from which it was able to compile several recommendations to improve the Canadian Marine Act.

Canada's policy framework of 1995 for federal ports focused on the elimination of overcapacity in the new government structure to support a more commercialized system. Global trading patterns have changed in the context in which federal ports operate. Port modernization is required to ensure that ports have the tools needed to compete in a global trading environment and to support the government's new national policy framework for strategic gateways and trade corridors.

The Canada Port Authorities have locations now in St. John's, Belledune, Halifax, Saint John, Sept-Îles , Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, Montreal, Hamilton, Toronto, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Prince Rupert and Vancouver which will be amalgamated with the Fraser River and North Fraser.

Some aspects of the bill are administrative and some are more substantive. Certain administrative aspects were made to increase the clarity and consistency between both language versions. One changes the purpose so it would recognize the significance of marine transportation and its contribution to the Canadian economy.

Our party, in developing this act in the first place, is very supportive of this modernization of the ports. In fact, our leader, the Leader of the Opposition, announced before this past Christmas about a number of new ports in Nunavut, small boat harbours, which is very exciting. Unfortunately, the government has only announced one port, which is one commercial harbour in Nunavut, and we would certainly like a lot more small boat harbours in Nunavut.

The government also announced the enhancement of the military harbour but we have not seen much progress on it to date and we certainly would like to see that initiative related to harbours proceed.

During second reading on this bill, I asked questions as we have had problems relating to consultation with many bills in this Parliament. I was happy to find out that stevedores and longshoremen were consulted. The government had to do some research to find that out but I finally got the answer to that question. The opinions of the pilotage associations are very important. I meet with them usually once a year and they have very important considerations. Of course, also the port authorities, which we know had major input into this bill.

The purpose of the bill, over and above the technical amendments I talked about, is to do a number of things. I will talk about each of these things in more detail and maybe some specific elements of the bill on top of that.

First, the bill would modify the port authorities' access to federal funding.

Second, it would add provisions regarding the power of a port authority to borrow money.

Third, it would provide additional regulatory powers to the Governor in Council.

In some things related to the amalgamation of port authorities, the way in which the directors on the boards of the port authorities' would be pointed would facilitate the processes.

The bill adds provisions regarding port amalgamation, which, in the original times, were not needed because there were so few major ports operating. We now have many more ports to accommodate the huge increase in the world shipping trade. I will list them later on in my speech.

The sixth item related to the bill is that it would modify provisions regarding the boards of directors the port authorities.

Finally, it would add a penalty scheme and streamline certain other provisions.

Before I go into each one of those, I want to state that there are 19 Canadian port authorities right now when we are talking about the amendments related to port authorities. These are located in each of the regions in which gateway and corridor initiatives are being started. I will refer to those later on as well.

One of the areas in which I am interested and hope to hear from the government about is the amendment, as of November 2007, that contribution funding for implementation of security enhancements would no longer be available to Canadian port authorities. I wonder why that has been allowed to expire and why something else was not put in place. I know that is the intent of this bill but, as I will talk about later, I do not want it to detract from money that would be available for other security provisions.

I know a bill was put in place to allow security investments in ports, for instance. I also know that the Canadian Fertilizer Institute approached us for a similar program so it could invest in the very expensive security requirements for fertilizers and dangerous chemical items to make it more competitive in the world markets and more competitive for our agricultural markets.

The bill would give ports the ability to use some of their lands for different purposes, not just for the port itself. In general, I am very strongly supportive of this provision for two reasons. The first reason is that there would be no incentive for a port to expand to cover future contingencies. As we have seen, there have been great increases in shipping in the world and yet some of our ports could not keep up and then, all of a sudden, the land is all gone.

When condos, art centres and other big structures are built on waterfront land that should have been reserved for a port, it becomes very difficult to expropriate them when the land is needed for a port. It would be hard to get public opinion behind it to use that land and it would be very expensive and wasteful.

For long term planning, we need to set aside that land up front, but if it were to be set aside and left vacant, there will be all sorts of public pressure from every group, commercial enterprise, government, other transportation facilities, convention centres and everyone who wants that land for something else.

This bill would allow that land to be used for other purposes and generate revenue for the port authorities, which should be as self-sufficient as possible, of course, until such time as it is needed.

I definitely am in favour of that, with the exception that we must ensure that once again things are not put on the land that would cause the same problem, permanent structures such as condominiums, transportation networks or art centres, something that cannot just be taken down when the land is needed. I think this is a good provision but it needs to be watched carefully to ensure it is used properly.

For Canada, the ports are more important than for many other countries because we are a trading nation. The parliamentary secretary said that in his speech at second reading. In that light, I hope the government will stop closing important consulates around the world because they are just as important for us as a trading nation.

I said earlier that I would talk about the increase in the number of ports and talk about why we need to deal with things like amalgamations in this bill. In British Columbia, where there was originally one major port, it now has one in North Fraser, Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Nanaimo and Port Alberni, all to help the great expansion of trade to Asia. That is why we need coordination, not only with the ports themselves but also with the other types of transportation that feed into the port.

All the investment cannot be in the port land itself, because we also need to invest in the appropriate bridges, roads, parking and customs facilities in a type of corridor strategy. When we did the west coast port corridor we envisioned all of those items. I hope the Conservatives enhance and speed up the investment in that Pacific corridor at the rate that we had envisioned.

A few years ago we missed an opportunity to re-enhance the capacity of the Halifax harbour to handle the giant ships coming into the marketplace. I hope we do not miss that in the future.

When we are talking about the gateways, I want to assure my colleagues in Quebec and Ontario that we are not just talking about the Atlantic and Pacific gateways, which I have mentioned. We also need to ensure there is investment in the St. Lawrence--Great Lakes corridor and the St. Lawrence Seaway. That corridor has good potential because many of those ports would not be in competition with the east or west. They would be taking goods directly inland in a more efficient and economical way. This would help to build efficiencies in Ontario and Quebec in their ports on the Great Lakes and on the St. Lawrence River.

The distance between Montreal and Rotterdam is 5,813 kilometres, while the distance between New York and Rotterdam is 6,154 kilometres. Therefore, there is no reason that we cannot get that faster entry into the heartland of the Americas if we ensure we have just as efficient a system for getting the goods into our ports as opposed to ports like New York.

In spite of increased shipping around the world, Canada's use of that particular route has dropped. The total amount of goods transported via the St. Lawrence dropped from 130 million tonnes in the early 1980s to approximately 100 million tonnes 10 years later, only to have around 105 million tonnes since. Thus, since 1980, the ports on the St. Lawrence have received less merchandise than the 150 million tonnes they received in 2007. It was 25 million tonnes less than what was being transported on the St. Lawrence in the early 1980s.

Over the past 30 years the carriage of goods by ship has grown in the world 600%, while traffic on the St. Lawrence has dropped from 130 million tonnes in the 1980s to the current 105 million tonnes. Even the Mississippi River, which is a competitor to get into the heartland of the St. Lawrence, saw its traffic increase from 450 million tonnes to 700 million tonnes. I want my colleagues in Ontario and Quebec to know we are thinking of them and that our vision of ports includes them in the modernization and investment of their ports.

Those were introductory remarks. I want to now go on to the major components of the bill.

First, I will talk about the borrowing limits. It is certainly important to make sure that ports can make their investments, that they are borrowing efficiently and that everything else as a system is monitored and controlled. It should be done in such a way as to ensure they have secure borrowing and can be able to pay the bills. To date, the government has not had to step in. We would not want a situation where there was excess borrowing where ports could not control themselves.

The next area is access to contribution funding. This is perhaps my biggest concern with the bill. It is related to making ports eligible for funding through existing programs. Of course, we all agree that ports have to have funding, but it is perplexing to me as to why the government, if it believes in that, just does not provide the funding and why it would want to take the money from other federal government programs as opposed to providing a program for the ports. For instance, the ports want funding for infrastructure and security, which of course what we want, but why would the government take that money from other areas?

We have limited infrastructure. The government, fortunately, after extensive lobbying, carried on the infrastructure programs to the tune of $33 billion but changed the conditions. Most of the municipalities across Canada have not heard how much of that they are going to get. I have said time and time again in the House, and I know the Minister of Finance has heard me, that municipalities have to get the same amount of infrastructure money as they did under the previous government, which was $33 billion, and they need to know the rules so they can apply it and it is not distributed all over the place.

The municipalities have not heard for so long, the new rules are not out, and there is worry across the country. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Association of Yukon Communities have been wondering when they are going to hear what the rules are and how much of that money they are going to get. Are they still going to get the same amount of the infrastructure money as they did in the past?

The primary reason these programs were started in the first place was for the municipalities of this country. The Liberal Party will never cease to stand up for the municipalities to ensure they get their fair share of that funding. That is why, when there is a provision in this bill that adds another important need for funding to the same pile money, it is very worrying to me. Everyone will certainly be watching to make sure the ports get their money, but that the municipalities in Canada are not deprived of the funds they so desperately need.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the absence of other people who might wish to comment on the lucid approach that my colleague from Yukon employed when speaking to this particular bill, I will ask him to elaborate a little bit, if he would not mind, on this perception that there is one limited pot and that everything is a zero sum game.

I know this is a position that the NDP has verbalized on many an occasion, but given that municipalities are, shall I say in the main, corporate entities, and as corporate entities, that have a particular jurisdiction and authority that derives from the people's trust, they access infrastructure funds in order to maintain a particular level of service and goods, et cetera, that are important for the maintenance of a good, lively, commercial enterprise. Does he not see that this might be equally valid for another corporation, another corporate entity, an authority whose authority is derived through legislation, and that this authority, in order to maintain its livelihood and its commercial viability, would also have access to some of those public funds that are designed to maintain the infrastructure of commercial viability everywhere around the country?

If he were to agree with me, and I am obviously waiting with bated anticipation that he would, would he not think then that this argument that is proposed often by the NDP actually takes us off the mark and distracts us from what we are trying to accomplish, and that is to ensure that entities like port authorities, which he has so eloquently advanced as being physically and financially viable in order to meet the challenges of the new commerce of tomorrow? I wonder what his thoughts might be.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Just before I answer the question, Mr. Speaker, I was reminded of an item I did not have time to get in, in my 20 minutes, which dealt with another type of investment important for ports and it is the security investment. We need to do much better monitoring. I know we are doing great work on that, but the ports actually need the money to put in sophisticated equipment, for instance, for scanning containers, et cetera.

In regard to the member's point, I am not sure we have a disagreement because I was basically saying that both entities need the funds: the ports and the municipalities. I am not sure which NDP argument he was referring to because I am not aware of that, but in relation to the ports, I definitely think they need funds for infrastructure and security through these types of investments.

However, when we started all these infrastructure funds, our first need was for the municipalities. I do not treat the municipalities as a corporation. Municipalities are an order of government. There are four orders of government in Canada, and hon. members will notice I am not saying levels of government: federal, provincial and territorial, first nations and municipal. These four orders of government are not stakeholders. They are not interest groups. They are governments. Each government has its needs in balancing its responsibility, as it says in the Constitution of Canada, to provide equal services to Canadians across the country, wherever they are.

The needs of the municipality, as a government, are very important. That is why we came up with that amount of money, which has now been basically morphed into the $33 billion building Canada fund.

I am saying that we should not detract from the amount that municipalities were getting, unless the municipality chooses that a port authority is one of its priorities and that is where it would like its particular money to go. In our area, two waterfronts were very important investments. If that is an investment of a municipality, I have no problem with making a port eligible.

Over the years moneys were promised to municipalities through infrastructure programs: strategic infrastructure, rural infrastructure, border infrastructure, the gas tax rebate, and the GST rebate. However, I do not want to see the moneys needed by municipalities for huge infrastructure all of a sudden develop new terms and conditions, and all of a sudden they have a new player in the field that is eligible for the money, without adding to the pot of money.

That is the point I was trying to make. I hope that is not in conflict with the point that our critic was trying to make because he and I, as I think, we both said that in our speeches. We are big supporters of ports. There are needs for the modernization of ports and there are also needs for increased investments in ports.

The borrowing provisions of the bill will help ports actually invest in themselves. Once they are more efficient, they will have more revenues to help them be self-sufficient in order to pay for these investments.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is misleading the public about the impacts of changes to the Marine Act through Bill C-23.

If anyone opposite wonders why cities are so upset with the Conservative government, they need to look no further than this bill which will further reduce infrastructure funding for cities. Moreover, it changes the governance regulations for port authorities, like the unaccountable, unelected and undemocratic Toronto port authority.

Currently, port authorities are legislated to be self-sustaining. They are not supposed to depend on the federal government for handouts or subsidies.

The government is ramming through a bill and has opposed all of the NDP amendments which would allow the Toronto port authority, and other port authorities, to apply for federal infrastructure funds desperately needed by cities like Toronto and others across Canada. It also would extend the terms of the board of directors, decrease the size of the board, and make the port authorities even less accountable.

The Liberals do not even bat an eyelash. They simply roll over and are letting the Conservatives pass the bill to avoid public scrutiny. They together in fact oppose hearings at committee, hearings that Parliament could conduct across Canada so that we could hear from municipalities and citizens about the bill. That was opposed even though the NDP proposed it during the debate at committee.

It is too bad that the 20 members of the House elected from Toronto in the Liberal Toronto caucus will not listen to the city councillors, the mayor and advocates for our city. They have said that the bill is bad for our ridings, bad for our economy, and will not do anything to fix Toronto or any other city's crumbling infrastructure. It is too bad these MPs are afraid to face the good citizens of Toronto.

The bill is a clear signal that the Conservatives cannot be trusted to give cities what they need to grow and prosper in the 21st century. On the weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday, across Canada and especially in Toronto there were Jane Jacobs walks. Of course, people know that Jane Jacobs is a renowned urban philosopher, a planner, and it is her version of cities that are world renowned.

She urges Canadians and Parliament to close a dangerous Trojan horse down. What she is talking about is of course the Toronto port authority. Why? Because the port authority was imposed by the former government, the Liberals, against the wishes of Torontonians. It was formed through changes in the Marine Act in 2001.

In downtown Toronto we have 100,000 people living at the Toronto waterfront and another 100,000 who will work there when all the developments are finished. The Toronto official website says:

Toronto's waterfront is our front porch to the world. With the right kind of investment, the waterfront will become a necklace of green, with pearls of activity; people living, working and enjoying it with pride and passion.

The Toronto port authority vision, on the other hand, is to create an industrial strip dominated by an airport. These two visions are obviously incompatible. Instead of a strip of green with 215 acres of land, we now have an airport and planes flying out creating about 2,865 kilograms of CO2 pollution in the air. It certainly is not the vision of a clean, green waterfront.

Jane Jacobs is not alone. Another very famous Torontonian was Allan Sparrow, who unfortunately passed away from cancer last week. Mr. Sparrow was the founder of a group called Community AIR, with 2,000 members in Toronto. It has been pushing the federal government to put the port authorities back into the hands of the citizens.

As a former Toronto city councillor, Allan Sparrow inspired a generation of reform-minded progressives with his ahead of his time thinking about our environment. He dreamed of a clean and livable city that all could enjoy. His role in shaping the Toronto we know and love today should not be forgotten. His legacy will live on in the movements that he inspired, such as closing the Toronto Island Airport and, of course, promoting a clean and livable waterfront community.

I want to talk about the contrast between the Toronto Port Authority and Allan Sparrow's vision. He said:

As for the ongoing battle over the future of the Island Airport lands, some things never change. The privileged and civically disengaged will continue to pollute and degrade Toronto's waterfront with their “save a few minutes at all costs” life style...at the end of the day, the larger community will prevail, but not without struggle.

Why is the Toronto downtown waterfront important? I want to talk about the neighbourhood that surrounds the waterfront. The waterfront communities, through Allan Sparrow, designed the beautiful St. Lawrence neighbourhood as a new, model downtown community at that time. It embraced a mix of affordable and market priced housing, centred on a park and community recreation centre. There were non-profit projects. Whether people are young or old, they enjoy living there. It is the same thing in the Harbourfront area with the Harbourfront Community Centre. This has happened all along the waterfront.

What Mr. Sparrow was particularly good at was that as a businessman he looked at the business case of the Toronto Port Authority and at its financial statements. He was very clear that in 2006, for example, the financial statements of the Toronto Port Authority showed that it made $5 million in revenue but spent $5.2 million to operate. It was obviously a money losing operation.

Mr. Sparrow was a very good business person. He founded a consulting company, Domicity, which in fact helped the federal government quite a few years ago in regard to attracting IT investment to Canada. He led missions to Japan, Korea and the Silicon Valley. We know that he was a person who knew a lot about businesses and a lot about large private and government organizations.

Allan Sparrow very clearly said that the port authority was unsustainable and that the business case it presented would forever lose money. Because of that, he knew that the expansion of the island airport by the port authority would be a disaster for the City of Toronto and its plans to create a clean and green waterfront.

He was also very concerned about the increase in air traffic bringing water and noise pollution to one of the most densely populated parts of the city. In his very focused and deliberate way, Allan Sparrow decided he would do everything in his power to stop it. In 2002 he founded Community AIR and was the group's spokesperson in the formative years of the fight.

As the number of people involved in fighting the port authority grew, more people went to the annual general meetings of the port authority. It became more obvious that these port authorities were not at all accountable. It was noticed that when the port authorities conducted their environmental assessment process, it really was not a clear and open process. This very strong organization, which represented the City of Toronto and the citizens of Toronto, was not given a voice.

I wish that the Toronto Port Authority had people like Jane Jacobs and Allan Sparrow on its board of directors so that the people's voices would actually be heard in these port authorities. What do we have instead under Bill C-23? We have a smaller board of directors whose terms can be extended not just once but twice.

The former Liberal government appointed a lot of its friends to the port authorities, and in the last two or three years the Conservatives have been appointing lobbyists and a former Conservative staffer of the finance minister to the port authority, whereas citizens and the people who represent the users and who really know something about running ports are not appointed. The Jane Jacobses and Allan Sparrows never have a chance to have a say in how the Toronto Port Authority is being run.

It is a disgrace. This bill is a step in the wrong direction. We know that every political movement is built on the shoulders of those who came before, whether it is the Jane Jacobses and the Allan Sparrows of the world or someone else. Their leadership, their personal style and their vision of what great cities and countries are all about have been missed completely in the bill.

We note that if lobbyists or political friends can have a contract or a term renewed twice, we are looking at nine years of them being in a port authority that has absolutely no say from the local cities or citizens or the elected councillors.

We have also noted that the bill has no accountability. Many municipalities are speaking against it. We oppose access to federal funds for the Toronto Port Authority and other port authorities because it would drain the funds from a central pot and the crumbling infrastructure of municipalities would continue to crumble.

We also note that the bill will give the minister authority to expand the borrowing limits of port authorities. If they go bankrupt, guess what? It will be taxpayers who will be left holding the bag or trying to pay off those debts. Or maybe the Toronto Port Authority, as it has done before, will sue everyone. It sued the city of Toronto and the federal government and made off with a lot of money, with millions, in fact.

Another change in Bill C-23 that is a dangerous area is that it licenses landholdings. It would allow port authorities to license landholdings to third parties with absolutely no input and no comment from local municipalities.

In yet another area, Bill C-23 gives no standards for security measures. For the port authority in downtown Toronto, right by the CN Tower and hundreds of thousands of residents of that highly dense area, there are really no standards for security measures.

Bill C-23 also does not give the Auditor General any power to investigate port authorities' financial practices, so the port authority is not accountable financially, and neither is it accountable to local citizens.

For those reasons, the NDP and residents of Toronto will continue to fight and will strive to return the port authorities to the people of Toronto and the citizens of Canada. Bill C-23 concerning Marine Act changes is certainly a step in the wrong direction.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I disagree with only one thing my friend has brought before us today and that is everything she said. I sat on the committee. I heard every meeting. I heard every witness. With respect, I saw the member show up for a couple of photo ops for five or ten minutes during one committee meeting. I do not remember her being there at any other opportunity to listen to evidence.

In fact, we actually received unanimous support from the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, the Shipping Federation of Canada and the Chamber of Marine Commerce for these positive changes that we have brought forward to this act.

In response to her comments on infrastructure funding, I should note that during the period of time the Liberals were in office for 13 years they spent approximately $1.3 billion per year on infrastructure in Canada. The Conservative government has spent over $5 billion per year, so there is enough money from this federal government going into provincial coffers to help with what we now have as a deficit in this country.

I have a question for the member. We did have an opportunity to consult with the City of Burnaby, the City of Nanaimo, North Vancouver, Port Alberni, Port Moody, Richmond, the City of Vancouver and the districts of North Vancouver and West Vancouver, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, of which the City of Toronto is a member, the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the Halifax Regional Municipality, the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce, the Toronto Harbourfront Community Association, and the St. Lawrence Economic Development Council. They were all consulted.

We never had one city come forward and speak against this bill, not one, so I am wondering what channel the member is on. Quite frankly, I do not understand it. Without the ports being a great and integral part of this country, we will not have the economic prosperity that we need in this country to continue during this economic global slowdown.

I am wondering what channel she is on and if she could be more specific. If she has some evidence of a city opposing this bill, then I ask her to bring it forward. I would like to see her table that because we have not heard it and we have been talking about this for a long time. I know that member just wants to come forward for the photo ops on committee, but we have not heard this, so if she is going to speak about a bill, then maybe she could be accurate in her representations, because she is not at this stage.

Canada Marine Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, speaking about misleading, the Conservative government consults but it does not listen.

The City of Toronto actually has put forward two motions that have said very clearly that the Toronto Port Authority must be returned to the citizens of Toronto, that it should be disbanded. That motion was very clear. It was supported. It was voted on democratically. It was submitted as evidence to the transport committee.

The Conservative and Liberal members of Parliament choose not to look at facts and the black and white motions from the city of Toronto. Then they say they have consulted everybody. A lot of municipalities say they want to see local councillors on these port authorities, but no, port authorities cannot have local councillors. Perhaps they are not very accountable. That is why they do not want elected representatives on these bodies that have a say over how funds are used and how lands are used, lands that are supposed to be for all Canadians, not for the chosen few, the big corporations, the elite and the most powerful. These lands are supposed to be for all Canadians, but they have no say.

No city councillors are allowed to be on any of the port authorities. However, if one is a friend of the Conservative government, if one used to work for a former finance minister in the Harris government or a few of the Conservative MPs, one can be appointed to the Toronto Port Authority, for example. They have control over these lands. They have control. What kind of accountability are we talking about? What kind of democracy are we talking about? What kind of consultation are we talking about? How is the Conservative government listening to the people of Toronto?

No wonder there are no Conservative MPs from the city of Toronto. Over and over again, it has not been listened to. A local councillor, Mr. Adam Vaughan, was a witness for Bill C-23 and said he was very opposed to this bill. Guess what? He was shouted down. He was told that perhaps he did not really represent the City of Toronto and that perhaps he did not really represent the citizens of Toronto. I am sorry, but Mr. Vaughan was elected and there is absolutely no reason to say that the citizens have not--