House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rail.

Topics

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, everybody is happy about this debate because it is probably the only bill that everyone agrees on. I thank the member for Beauce, who was initially against the bill, but then supported it later on. Apparently, even he sometimes sees the light. We thank him.

One thing is certain: I was proud to suggest at the last committee meeting that the bill be fast-tracked and reported without amendment, so that it can return to the House. This is a subject that everybody agrees on, because health and safety are not partisan issues. Everyone has made an effort and worked hard on this issue.

The issue should have been considered as part of Bill C–33, which unfortunately died on the order paper. We know that the subject was then dealt with in the other chamber, in the form of Bill S–4.

I would like to begin by thanking my colleague, Senator Mercer, who did an admirable job. What is important and interesting about this bill is that we had proposed a series of amendments as part of Bill C–33. These amendments were adopted virtually unanimously thanks particularly to the tireless work of my colleague, the member for Markham—Unionville, who did a very good job.

We could talk about what more could be done. There is obviously a lot more to be done. Health and safety are ongoing issues. This had to be done to be in sync with the other forms of transport. It was therefore crucial that it be done. As far as air and marine transport are concerned, we know that measures had already been proposed. It is important that the same thing be done for the railways.

I would also like to thank the members on both sides of this House, especially the minister who answered my questions. Someone said earlier that he was quiet. It is true that he is sometimes quiet on a number of issues, but at least he answered the question in this case. I am quite happy about this.

As a former minister, I have always been in favour, whether from a curative or preventive standpoint, of having some power to protect people's quality of life. I believe that this is the very core of this bill: enabling the minister to intervene. This of course is a power that can be delegated. Often, such an intervention can prevent things from getting bogged down in administrative or bureaucratic details. In a democracy, it is crucial for the people's representative, the minister, to have this ability and this power to intervene. Very often, this kind of prevention can save lives. Providing it is essential.

In short, it is clear that this bill will improve Transport Canada's oversight capacity. It will increase the department’s powers to enforce the act. There will be punitive fines. This is important. It is not always enough, but it is important.

I also believe that it is necessary to have someone who is accountable where safety is concerned. In my view, the other essential element is that whistleblowers be able to intervene without becoming victims of intimidation. As we know, very often, knowledge is power. Once people realize, whether in the private or public sector, that they can have this "political” power to intervene and prevent problems, it becomes not only the right thing to do, but the essential thing to do.

Needless to say, there has to be a process that leads to a form of certification. I believe that such certification is vital. It is a step in the right direction. It is even several steps in the right direction. After the two reports were prepared, we were able to demonstrate that we were listening carefully. It was essential and important to be able to intervene.

I do have one concern, however, because this is not the end of the story, and it is not a panacea. All our amendments were accepted, but a further step is still required, because things are different in rural communities and urban communities. I asked the minister some questions. There is of course this whole concept of accountability of individuals, parents and everyone who has a supervisory role to play. You can put up 12-foot-high fences. You can build all kinds of infrastructure to prevent people from getting through, but people will get through anyway.

Given the existing urban reality and even, in some cases, the existing rural reality, it is important that all stakeholders make a pact so that, after this bill is passed, they can move on to the next step and come to an agreement about safety.

Earlier, the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina spoke about certain elements that could be added to improve safety and protection, both for passengers and workers.

Today is May 1, International Workers' Day. We must therefore also think about the railway workers whose do quite an admirable job.

This is not just a legal battle. We cannot say that this is not our responsibility because it involves the private sector or it falls under the jurisdiction of the provinces. We also cannot say that we are not going to get involved because this falls under the jurisdiction of the municipalities and they are creatures of the provinces.

With regard to security and protection, it will be essential to come to an agreement with all the stakeholders, whether it be the Federation of Canadian Municipalities or the major cities. In areas where there are railway crossings, it will be key to have additional tools to protect our youth and others who too often recklessly decide to cross the railway tracks.

In addition, certification is not a solution in and of itself but, rather, a means to an end. It is an additional tool that will aid in prevention.

Yes, the train is one of the safest forms of transportation. The other day, we spoke about the train that derailed in Burlington. We were very distressed about that situation. Could this type of accident have been avoided?

In order to prevent those kinds of incidents, it is important to provide individuals with all the tools they need to ensure their security. I proposed a fast track at committee because we have been talking from both sides, not only this time but even before the last session. It has been a long process since 2006 but it is not the first time that we have talked about security and prevention. This is why the Liberal Party of Canada will take responsibility and support the bill.

I believe it is very important to mention that if everybody wants to work together, majority government or not, it would be a great thing for democracy because we would be sending a true message that we are all equal as representatives and that we have a role to play. The fact that we can put forward some amendments that, from the two chambers, we can talk together and work for the sake of our communities, is the good news today. It is a lesson learned that we should take note of that process. It is like the movie Field of Dreams, if we build it they will come.

It is a wonderful process. I am very pleased with the answers that Transport Canada and the minister provided to us on that issue. The minister and I do not agree on everything but I do recognize that in that process he delivered. We are looking forward to providing some new alternatives afterward because there are some other issues regarding alternatives for security.

What is important is that it is a living paper. We will need to see what happens in the future but we have a framework here that addresses some of the issues that we wanted to address and the fact that the stakeholders, such as the unions, are on the same page. Nothing is perfect but I believe we are better having an imperfection realized than a perfection en attente, as we say.

We will support Bill S-4.

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by mentioning that railway is a very important part of Canada. In my riding of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, I have been working fairly closely with a group called CAPT from Sault Ste. Marie in order to bring passenger rail back to northern Ontario.

We see this piece of legislation as a move forward to protect the railway system and those who use it. I think it is an important part. However, it has taken a very long time to get to the House.

As members know, the bill was tabled in the previous Parliament and was close to being brought forward. Therefore, I would ask my colleague to talk about the need for expediency in moving the bill forward.

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, if members want to support it now, then let us do it. I have fast-tracked it already in committee.

To speak to the question, I believe that, truly, Bill S-4 is a matter of culture, and if we push these kinds of processes forward together, we can achieve it. We are all focusing on the same thing: we want to have a better quality of life.

I believe in the chemin de fer. This country has been built on the railway. It is the link between regions. We will be able to push forward those kinds of policies and change of culture in every region.

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments on this important issue. I wonder if he could comment on the current safety situation.

In the past number of years in British Columbia we have had a number of rail derailments and accidents that have caused spills into waterways and caused concern for communities. I wonder if the member could comment on this important bill and how it could perhaps affect spills in the future.

Could the member also comment about not only the need to improve rail transport safety in the country but also the noise issue at crossings around residential areas? Could he comment on how the bill might address some of those concerns that residents face?

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, these are ongoing issues. There are two questions. First, it may be about alternative technology to address the noise. Second, with Bill S-4, I believe it is also a matter of prevention.

I think railways are secure. Of course, we have derailments and sad accidents. We always have to ensure they are dealt with in an open and transparent manner to understand what truly happened. However through that tool, Bill S-4, we can better prevent than cure.

We do have to address situations. However, through the prevention tool and the certification process and the fact that we would have whistleblowers and people able to bring back the intelligence we need in order to understand what is going on in a particular company or the situation of the rail, I believe it will be a real good thing to do and it may prevent incidents. We have to be focused and vigilant.

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Bourassa, for splitting his time with me. I do know that, as our Liberal Party critic, the member for Bourassa has done an outstanding job in terms of ensuring there is this sense of urgency to see this particular bill pass through the system.

It is great to see. It is not that long ago that we had it before us in second reading, and we have it again today in third reading. I suspect we would love to see it pass here today and, ultimately, continue on going through the system.

It is important to note that this particular bill was in a different form prior to the last election, better known as Bill C-33, which had its origin here in the House. I know there was some concern as to why this would have started off in the Senate.

However, I do think there is a sense that this particular bill does need to be fast-tracked, primarily because we recognize just how critically important it is to the railway industry as a whole to ensure we do what we can to improve rail line services throughout the country.

It has been a long time since there was an actual significant change to the Railway Safety Act. My understanding is we would have to go back to the 1990s, I think it was 1999, under the Chrétien government, where there were other amendments of significance that were made. A lot has happened over that period of time. That is one of the reasons we have the bill here today in recognition of the changes and the number of things that have been brought to the government's attention by a wide variety of stakeholders.

I think it is worthy of note that the stakeholders come from a fairly wide spectrum of individuals and groups who have actually been able to contribute to what we have here today.

It is interesting. When I had the opportunity to read through the bill and some of the notes that my colleague from Bourassa had provided on this issue, one of the things that really came to mind is the whole whistleblower content and how important it is to recognize that people working somewhere within the industry or with the train company have the ability to say they are concerned about the safety of X, whatever that X might be, and not be in fear of losing their job. To me, that is something that is good to see in legislation.

I can recall when we supported similar legislation with regard to whistleblower legislation in the province of Manitoba and how well that was received.

I would suggest that the same principle applies here. This way reasonable issues would be brought up because individuals working within the industry would now feel comfortable knowing that, if they have a concern that is related to safety, they could actually bring it up and would not have to be in fear of ultimately being fired because of raising an issue that is related to safety.

That is just one aspect of the bill we have before us that makes it so important that the bill ultimately passes. At the end of the day, I believe all members here in the House recognize that the bill would in fact improve the overall safety of our rail lines. We have seen that demonstrated through comments with regard to this bill, whether in committee stage, in second reading or, now, in third reading. So, I see that as a positive thing.

It is also important to recognize, and I have already made quick reference to it, that there are advisory committees out there, there are members from within our unions and there are others who have had the opportunity to provide input. I know we, as the Liberal Party, have had that opportunity and appreciate that the government, on this particular piece of legislation, seems to have listened and responded in kind.

It is somewhat noteworthy, and I put it tongue-in-cheek, that the government does not require time allocation in order to pass this particular bill, which tells me it is another good reason to believe we are seeing more of an all-party approach to recognizing this as a good idea.

Well we should, because the consequences of rail accidents, whether in our rural communities or urban centres, are quite significant. On the macro scale, a derailment can cause a complete and total evacuation of communities. On the micro scale, people may be hit by a train, causing fatalities. Both of those happen far too often. At the end of the day, this is what we are hoping to deal with by passing Bill S-4 today.

I want to emphasize the importance of rail safety. It is not just up to the federal government to pass this legislation. There is a need to have co-operation among different stakeholders. Some of the stakeholders I am referring to are municipal governments. I would suggest municipal governments of our rural communities all have a role to play. They are in essence the groups that ultimately decide, in many communities, where there will be flashing railway signs or railway arms that are lifted to accommodate the flow of traffic versus train traffic.

Provincial governments also need to step up to the plate. A lot of the monitoring of our highways is done through our provincial governments. They too need to step up to the plate and deal with what they can of their responsibilities.

Obviously, it goes without saying that our rail lines, companies like CN, CP, VIA Rail and other rail lines that are operating on our tracks, have the most significant role to play in ensuring the quality of the line or the quality of the vehicles they are using to transport goods is of a high standard, so we can minimize any sort of damage to the individual or the community as a whole.

I have spoken in the past about how the rail industry has played a critical role in the development of the city of Winnipeg and many communities. I want to focus some attention on the city of Winnipeg. I have had a history with the rail line in one form or another, primarily indirectly, with the impact of the railway industry on my ancestry. I can talk about my grandfather's time and today, in terms of how it divides communities in geographical regions.

The last time I had the opportunity to speak, I talked about Main Street, Salter Street, McPhillips, Arlington in between those other two, and Keewatin and Route 90. All of those have either underpasses or overpasses that cross the CP tracks. There are tens of thousands of people who live around the CP yards. One can rest assured that the constituents I represent have a vested interest in this legislation and how important it is that it passes. It is all about rail safety.

I see my time has expired. I posed a question about the expansion of rapid transit and where rail lines could play an active role in it. It is something I may be able to talk about in the future.

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, there are a host of good reasons for relocating the CPR marshalling yards from the heart of the city that I represent in Winnipeg Centre. There is a desperate need for more green space, for more recreational opportunities and for inner city affordable housing, but one of the most compelling reasons in the context of the bill we are dealing with today is that since 1882 there have been a host of spills, collisions and even explosions in the CPR marshalling yards, which are the very heart and core of the city of Winnipeg. Essentially, the reason we have “a tale of two cities”, this great divide between south Winnipeg and the north end of Winnipeg, is that in 1882 it was decided to put these marshalling yards exactly where they are.

Under the rail relocation act, if a municipality applies to the Minister of Transport specifically, then for safety reasons or any urban development and urban planning reasons, the federal government can pay, and has paid, for up to 50% of the cost of removal of these inner city rail lines so that the urban development can take place and the safety of the people living around the rail yards can be protected.

Would my colleague agree that the present Minister of Transport should entertain an application from the City of Winnipeg to remove the CPR marshalling yards from where they currently exist out to the new inland port of CentrePort so that we can have an intermodal, tripartite shipping and transportation hub called CentrePort?

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Winnipeg Centre and I share a common boundary. I am on the north side of the tracks; he is on the south side.

The member's idea does merit further discussion and dialogue. What the member is talking about would no doubt have a serious impact on the economy of not only Winnipeg's north end but the entire province of Manitoba. It would also have a ripple effects on the country. The amount of money involved would likely be in excess of a couple of billion dollars.

We do not know, for example, where the CP trucking terminal would be put for the trucking firms that are located in the north end and hook up to the trains. The member is talking about hundreds of acres of land.

It is an idea worth exploring. I myself am definitely open to the concept and would welcome an apolitical discussion as to where the City of Winnipeg, in co-operation with the provincial government, might be able to move it to see if it is feasible. If it is feasible, it would be wonderful to see the federal government involved, especially if we are thinking about CentrePort and the potential economic boom that would be generated for thousands of Manitobans well into the future.

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

May 1st, 2012 / 1:40 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Winnipeg North has his numbers way out of line. Manitoba had good senior political ministers in Lloyd Axworthy and Reg Alcock. Both of them pitched this idea. At that time the cost to relocate the tracks was $80 million, and it was to be shared jointly.

The vice-president of CPR said it would take 12 years to tear up those tracks. Tim Sale stood up at a meeting and challenged the vice-president of CPR by saying that it took the company three years to build the entire Canadian Pacific Railway from Thunder Bay to Victoria in 1880, blasting through the mountains and working with nothing but mules and pickaxes, so how could it take 12 years to tear up a few tracks in the inner city of Winnipeg when tracks are being torn up all over the whole Prairie region at a mile a minute? It would take a matter of months.

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to question what the member is saying, but Winnipeg had the good fortune of having a brand new air terminal put in at a cost of several hundreds of millions of dollars.

It would be worth looking at what the actual cost would be. I agree with the member that Lloyd Axworthy and Reg Alcock were high-calibre Liberal members of Parliament. I suspect that their numbers would have been accurate for that time.

This is something I would be most interested in pursuing. I look forward to future discussions with the member for Winnipeg Centre.

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before I call on the hon. member for York South—Weston to resume debate, I will just let him know that I will need to interrupt him at the top of the hour, as we will need to start statements by members.

The hon. member for York South—Weston.

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to again speak to Bill S-4, the Railway Safety Act, at third reading and report stage today.

This bill, as others have mentioned, originates from a previous Parliament, and the good member for Trinity—Spadina had a lot to do with putting forward the bill in the first place. I want to congratulate her and others who have worked on this bill, and congratulate those in the industry, in the unions and in the safety agencies who have contributed to what will be a great improvement to the bill.

Unfortunately, it has taken us six years from the commencement of the study on whether or not the bill needed to be improved until today, when we hope the bill will pass the House. That was way too long. When we are talking about safety, six years is way too long for something as critical to Canadians as the safety of the railroads, as has been mentioned by several members here.

These railroads travel through dense urban areas. In order to ensure the safety of not just the railway workers and not just the patrons of the railway but also of the people who live around these railroads, there needs to be a regimen in Canada that provides for the safe operation of these railroads, which the bill goes a long way to providing. It does not go all the way, and I will get into that in a few minutes.

Every school child knows that railways built this country and that railways play an important role in transporting goods and people from coast to coast. We believe that railways should actually provide a much greater role in transporting people in this country, and perhaps in transporting goods.

Railways are a more efficient way of transporting people than cars. Railways are a more efficient way of transporting goods than trucks. It would take some of the pressure off our highways and cities if we were to move more goods safely by using rail. However, I emphasize the word “safely”, and that is what the bill would, in part, do.

There are 73,000 kilometres of track, and as the member for Trinity—Spadina noted, track has been removed. We have lost 10,000 kilometres of track as the railroads have moved out of transporting. The most recent loss of a railroad was the CP secondary line between Ottawa, the nation's capital, and North Bay. One of the reasons for removing that track was that CP wanted the steel; it was not because it was an uneconomical piece of railroad but because it needed the steel for replacing rails in other places.

It is a shame that the railbed could not be used for public transit or could not continue to be used for the transportation of goods, because generally speaking, the rail line from here to North Bay goes through no cities. It does not go past any homes or businesses that would be endangered by a railway spill.

Last year, railways moved some 72 million passengers and carried 66% of all the surface freight in Canada, so railways are a very important part of the infrastructure of this country.

However, there are some places where we are actually still building railroads. We are building railroads in my riding in large numbers. We are expanding the capacity of a rail corridor that runs through my riding from 40 trains a day to 464 trains a day. That is one of the reasons I am anxious for the bill to pass, because I want to ensure that the government has some power to make sure that railroad is operated in a safe manner.

Some of that railroad may in fact be exempt from this legislation, becausegovernment will decide, for whatever reason, that some of that railroad is not a federally regulated railway. I want to ensure that all of the railroad systems in Canada, whether they are passenger rail or heavy freight rail—and we are talking heavy rail, not the little light rail streetcar systems in some cities—are all run in a safe and efficient manner.

According to the Transportation Safety Board, in 2009 there were 1,081 rail accidents, including 68 main track derailments. If rail traffic continues to grow as anticipated—and the rail companies tell us that it will grow at roughly the same rate as inflation, meaning 3% a year—in 10 years there will be 40% more rail traffic than there is today, and the potential for accidents will increase.

The rail industry believes that the way to prevent accidents at rail crossings in particular is to remove the rail crossings. The idea is to just close the road. That is the easiest way to prevent rail crossings. There will not be any cars crossing the tracks, and the tracks will reign supreme.

That does not work in many urban centres in this country. There is some money, a very small amount of money—about $12 million a year, according to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister—that is set aside by the government to remove rail crossings in this country. I assume that means putting in grade-separated rail crossings so that either the roads go under or above the rail corridor or the rail corridor is dipped below or above the road.

The trouble is that $12 million might pay for half of one of those, and there are hundreds and hundreds, probably thousands—I do not have the number in front of me—of railroad crossings in this country, each of which has the potential for a fatal accident. In fact, there was a fatal accident on the railroads in Toronto just two weeks ago. A pedestrian was killed on a railbed in Toronto. We do not need any more of those.

Keeping people and trains apart should be an important part of what the transport minister strives to do in the implementation of this act.

One of the new key points in the legislation is the requirement for railways to obtain a certificate for operation. The certificate must include a safety management system acceptable to Transport Canada. It is a key element of this legislation that the safety management system be acceptable to Transport Canada so that Transport Canada actually understands and accepts that the railroad applying for a certificate for operation has in place measures that will prevent accidents, that will prevent overwork of their employees—which is why the unions are in support—and that will prevent trains from colliding with one another.

We recently had such a collision involving a passenger train in Burlington, Ontario. No one is really certain yet of all the causes, but speed was definitely a factor. This train went way too fast through a switch. The switch was rated for 15 kilometres an hour, and the train went through at about 60 kilometres an hour and derailed. There was loss of life and there were injuries.

What will prevent, in large measure, many of these kinds of accidents is something called positive train control. In this system the speed of the train is not controlled just by a person watching lights, which is how it works today and which is the same way it worked 160 years ago. A person runs a train by watching lights in order to know when they should go slower and when they can go faster.

Positive train control is widespread in all of the world except North America. It is already in place in some parts of the United States, but it is not present in Canada. It is a system whereby the train's speed is controlled externally. If a switch is closed and the train should slow down, the train's speed is controlled automatically if the train operator does not do it himself or herself.

It makes all kinds of sense, but it is not a system that the government is prepared to impose on the railroads yet. Why?

We would immediately start preventing accidents. It is true that it would be an expense to the railroads, but it is part of the cost of doing business. Railroads that operate in the United States will already have to comply with the positive train control system in the U.S. They already have to build their infrastructure to deal with positive train control. CN and CP and VIA Rail trains that travel across our border will have to do this, yet for some reason the government is not prepared to impose it in Canada.

I wonder why we always wait for the accident or the problem to occur before we act. Most people can see that this would be a good addition to the rail safety system in this country.

A number of problems were identified with rail safety that did not have to do directly with this bill but instead had to do with the oversight that Transport Canada applies to rail safety in this country. In a 2011 report, the federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development identified serious deficiencies in the transport of dangerous products.

It is up to the minister to ensure that his officials at Transport Canada are actually enforcing the laws that it already has regarding safety. If it is not, something is wrong with the system.

The commissioner stated that 53% of the files he examined had instances of non-compliance and, of those files, an astonishing 73%, nearly three-quarters, little or no corrective action was taken. We have a law that tells us how to transport dangerous goods. We have a system in which Transport Canada is to actually monitor and enforce that law. We have a commissioner who looked at it and said that Transport Canada was not enforcing it and we have silence from the government. We do not seem to know how to enforce the laws we already have.

Bill S-4 contains a lot of very generous provisions toward the minister who will make decisions about how this law will be implemented. The minister needs to take the most protective and precautionary stance possible with his officials in Transport Canada and with the safety of Canadians because to do otherwise he would be derelict in his duties.

What we are saying about the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, which is already in force, is that if it is not being enforced by the officials who need to enforce it, the minister and his staff, then could S-4 face the same thing? We cannot sit here and pass laws that nobody enforces. The Conservatives believe that laws are to be enforced and enforced to the letter of the law. We heard yesterday from the Minister of Foreign Affairs that, no matter where Canadian companies operate, they are to abide by the laws. The same should be true in Canada but it is up to the government to enforce those laws.

Bill S-4 has quite serious penalties for failing to comply with the legislation. Those penalties are now administrative penalties where the minister would not need to take a company to court. The minister could impose a penalty without actually having to file suit against an individual or company for failing to comply.

We would hope that Transport Canada would actually impose those sanctions when it finds violations. It is no good to have a bunch of sanctions in a law if we do not apply them when there are violations. We hope that corrective action is only necessary very rarely, but we want that corrective action to be taken when it is necessary. We do not want a situation in which the government, as it apparently has done with the transportation of dangerous goods, ignores the law or the enforcement of the law.

The other portion of this law deals with the emissions of pollutants into the air. This is of great interest to the residents in Toronto who would be faced with a rail corridor that will have 464 trains per day or a train every 90 seconds going past. These are diesel engines of 4,000 to 5,000 horsepower emitting huge clouds of black smoke. People want to know that something will be done to limit that pollution.

The bill provides mechanisms whereby the minister can demand that these emissions be reduced, curtailed, regulated or monitored. It will be up to the minister to actually impose those regulations and enforce them.

The people of the city of Toronto are watching this with some great interest because one of the issues that has raised a huge storm is the issue of the amount of pollution that comes from train engines. When people looked at it, because they did not look at it until someone said that we would have 460 of them, they discovered that there were carcinogens, nitrous oxide and particulate matter in that exhaust that can cause grave harm to individuals. To increase it by tenfold, without also putting in some kind of limits, has people in my riding and in other ridings in the city of Toronto demanding that trains be made electric.

In 1908, in the city of New York, the use of fossil fuel burning trains was banned. As my time as run out, I will continue that thought when I come back.

Safer Railways Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for York South—Weston will have five minutes remaining for his speech when the House next resumes debate on the question and the usual 10 minutes for questions and comments.

Floradale Public School
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, this weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 50th anniversary of Floradale Public School, an elementary school in the riding I am proud to represent, Mississauga East—Cooksville. The school's gymnasium was packed full of students, parents, staff, alumni and former staff. I was privileged to see performances by some of the school's many very talented students, all of whose parents must be very proud.

Floradale is located near the heart of Cooksville, one of the most diverse parts of Mississauga. Its motto is “Diversity is our strength”, which sets a great example to the students and to us all, and embodies the spirit of Canadian multiculturalism.

I am happy and proud to congratulate the principal, Carolyn Sossi Grant, and all her staff on this milestone anniversary. I look forward to seeing many more classes of Floradale students move on from strength to strength and work toward a brighter future.