House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

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

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the yeas have it.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

And five or more members having risen:

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #143

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare the motion defeated.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the question of privilege in the name of the Minister of Public Safety.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #144

Privilege
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried.

It being 6:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from December 6, 2011, consideration of the motion.

Port of Québec
Private Members' Business

March 6th, 2012 / 6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise to comment on Motion M-271, moved by the member for Beauport—Limoilou, which reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize that the Port of Québec is of vital importance as a hub of international trade in opening new markets for Canadian business, creating jobs, generating significant economic benefits, particularly in terms of tourism, and ensuring the vitality of small and medium businesses in Quebec City and the surrounding areas; and (b) support key projects for the upgrading of port assets and the development of equipment, taking into account the climatic and environmental challenges of this particular section of the St. Lawrence River.

I agree with my colleague from Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, who spoke earlier in support of this motion. As Quebeckers and Canadians, we understand the importance of Quebec City and its port. That is why Liberal governments have always invested in infrastructure and the environment, which are important to the Liberals.

We also believe, just like the member for Beauport—Limoilou does, that it is important to equip the Quebec City region, and the Port of Québec in particular, with the necessary tools. We will therefore support the motion. It is not complicated. We need to invest in and make a commitment to infrastructure because, with regard to basic infrastructure—whether for transportation by air, land or sea— these tools serve as the pillars of the community's economy. The Port of Québec is a very important port. In order to protect Quebec City, an international heritage site, we must provide it with the necessary tools.

As for the Port of Québec, I know that extraordinary work has been done and that there is a team on site that is quite fantastic and is doing great work. However, the Canadian government's role is to ensure, through the Department of Transport, that the necessary investments are made, especially in infrastructure.

Everyone knows that if we want to invest in infrastructure, in terms of sustainable development, it is necessary and vital that we be fully engaged in the decontamination effort, if necessary, and that we have infrastructure that will enable us to have the necessary tools to ensure the sustainability of this infrastructure.

I will close by simply reiterating our support. The Liberal Party of Canada is the party that has supported infrastructure since 1993. By reviewing programs, it also played a role in returning certain infrastructure such as ports, wharves and airports to municipalities and municipal governments. We believe that the Port of Québec, like the Port of Montreal, must have the necessary tools for its economic development. It is important for tourism, it is important for the economy, and it is important for transportation. Therefore, we will proudly support the member's motion.

Port of Québec
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to continue the discussion in response to the member's Motion No. 271, which proposes that the federal government recognize the importance of the Quebec Port Authority and support its various projects.

The member for Beauport—Limoilou tabled a motion that calls upon the federal government to recognize that the port of Quebec is important for international trade, in creating jobs, in generating economic benefits and in ensuring the vitality of businesses in Quebec City and the surrounding areas. The motion also calls upon the federal government to support key projects at the port, for the upgrading of port assets and for the development of equipment.

I stand here today to state that the current legislative and policy regime established by Canada's national ports already recognizes the strategic role that the port of Quebec plays in the regional, local and national economy.

Our government does not support this motion for a number of reasons. First, the motion is simply not necessary. Second, supporting the motion could create conditions and expectations that go against the spirit and stated intentions of the Canada Marine Act, the legislation that governs the federal national port system.

First and foremost, let me say unequivocally that the government recognizes the importance of the port of Quebec in terms of its key role in supporting international trade. As this country's fifth largest port authority, it plays a critical role in getting our goods to the global marketplace. In terms of its key role in supporting tourism and jobs in Quebec, there is no question the Quebec Port Authority is an important hub in the region and as a national port as well.

The port of Quebec is a key component of the continental gateway. I will o say a few words about this worthy initiative. The goal of this initiative is to maintain and build upon Ontario's and Quebec's world-class transportation system so that it remains a key driver of international trade and economic growth for the future. The continental gateway is focused on developing a sustainable, secure and efficient multi-modal transportation system that keeps Canada's economic heartland competitive and attractive for investment and trade. It includes strategic ports, airports, intermodal facilities and border crossings, as well as essential road, rail, and marine infrastructure that ensure this transportation system's connection to and seamless integration with Canada's other gateways: the Asia-Pacific and the Atlantic.

The Quebec Port Authority is a key part of that because it is of strategic importance to Canada's international trade, with markets all over the world, including the United States, South America, China, Europe and the Middle East.

The Quebec Port Authority is also a top port when it comes to the cruise industry. It is a leading port of call for cruise ships plying the waters of the St. Lawrence. For example, on one day alone, to be specific, on October 14 of last year, there were nearly 8,500 visiting international cruise passengers and 3,241 crew members visiting the port. There were a total of five cruise ships docked at the port that day. In fact, the port of Quebec recorded its best season ever in 2010, welcoming more than 100,000 passengers and nearly 35,000 crew members. I also understand that the famous Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary II have visited the port. Quebec is, indeed, a top destination for passengers discovering the Quebec to New England route, because Quebec City lives up to the expectations of all tourists.

The numbers say it all. Over the years, the port of Quebec has welcomed 500,000 passengers. Quebec's international cruise industry generates direct economic spinoffs of nearly $86 million, including $25 million in the Quebec City area. As the chairman of the parliamentary tourism caucus, I will be the first to say that that kind of impact as a point of entry for Canadian tourists is an incredibly valuable contribution to the health and prosperity of Canada's tourism sector.

In Quebec and across the country, tourism is one of the most unique sectors of our economy. It creates jobs in all areas: urban, rural and remote locations. Approximately 600,000 direct jobs are derived from tourism nationally and it drives key service industries, including accommodations, food and beverage, passenger transportation, recreation, entertainment, and travel services. Together, these industries account for 9.2% of total employment in Canada.

In Quebec alone, a study commissioned by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada shows that 38,850 tourism businesses are operating there. They create or support more than 391,000 jobs in the province. In the riding of the member for Beauport—Limoilou, who sponsored the bill, there are 401 tourism businesses that support 6,330 jobs.

We can see the importance of the port of Quebec to tourism in that province and we recognize the spinoff effects the port has for tourism right across the country as a high profile point of entry to Canada for international visitors.

More than 2.84 million international travellers visited Quebec in 2010 according to the Canadian Tourism Commission. In total, some 28 million people from Canada and abroad visited the province that year. These visitors contributed $11 billion in tourism receipts for a $7.8 billion contribution to Quebec's GDP. It is obvious that we do not need to have a motion to recognize the importance of the Quebec port's contribution to tourism. Hordes of tourists already do, and they are the ones that really count.

On the international trade side, again the evidence is there. Quebec handled over 24.5 million tonnes of cargo in 2010, serving markets all over the world.

The Government of Canada not only recognizes the importance of the Quebec Port Authority but it is committed to its success. It is also committed to the entire system of Canada Port Authorities.

The Canada Port Authorities was established in 1998 under the new Canada Marine Act. One of the purposes of this act is to, and I quote directly from the legislation, “promote the success of ports for the purpose of contributing to the competitiveness, growth and prosperity of the Canadian economy”. The key element here is the use of the plural, ports, not just one port. The act requires that we recognize the importance of all ports in the national port system together. Now the question is: are we doing that? Let me point out some of the initiatives and a few facts and figures that illustrate how we promote the success of all of our port authorities.

First, the federal government has provided targeted support for key infrastructure, environmental and security initiatives, through allowing Canada Port Authorities access to national funding programs. These programs include the gateways and border crossings fund, the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative transportation infrastructure fund, the infrastructure stimulus fund, the freight technology demonstration fund, the marine shore power program and the marine security contribution program.

The ports applied for these programs and met the criteria for them. They applied on equal footing with each other and with other entities that applied. Between 2005 and 2011, ports received close to $380 million from the federal government. Quebec ports received over $140 million of that under these various programs. This funding was for important environmental sustainability projects and for improving security. It was also used for key upgrades to aging infrastructure and strategic investments for expansions in response to market demands.

It is important to note that while the government provided key support for these projects, the ports also had to contribute. Like any other business, they financed these projects through borrowings on the commercial market.

The key point to remember is that while the federal government provided funding, it also ensured that the ports continued to adhere to the basic tenets of the Canada Marine Act. These basic tenets are financial self-sufficiency, commercial discipline and responsiveness to its users in order to remain competitive in a global economy.

We have provided funding through tough economic times to assist our port authorities in positioning themselves strategically for the future.

We had to fight hard against the opposition parties, including the official opposition, who at the time was slightly less official, to help our corporate and industrial partners like the port of Quebec create jobs. If the port authority was so important for the NDP, it should have supported the actions by our Conservative government then. Sadly, the economy and job creation was not its top priority.

We support all of our port authorities. The port of Quebec, like all other port authorities, has demonstrated time and again that it has the experience and capacity to meet the challenges of the global marketplace and continues to offer competitive services to Canadian port users that rely on the port to move their goods.

The current legislative and policy framework for our national ports has proven to be sufficiently flexible to maintain the balance between commercial discipline and targeted initiatives that support the transportation system.