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Conservative MP for Essex (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 48.10% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Air Transportation March 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I will simply remind the member that wind farm proponents are the ones who are responsible for engaging interested parties, including Nav Canada. Nav Canada is a private company and, as such, it provides its input insofar as impacts on aviation safety are concerned.
Air Transportation March 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Peterborough for the question. As was said in the House earlier on this matter, the Ontario government is responsible for approving land use plans when it comes to wind turbines. The federal government does not approve wind turbine projects. The role of the federal government and Nav Canada is to ensure that wind turbines do not cause concerns with respect to aviation safety.
As I reported earlier, because of the importance of this issue to the member, the minister said she would have her officials look into the matter. I can confirm for the House that officials are in fact looking at the matter presently.
Rail Transportation March 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, that is nonsense. The industry is regulated and the minister has taken action with respect to a protective direction with the full force of law on properly classifying. That is because the health and safety of Canadians is a priority for this government. This directive will ensure that all crude that is being transported be properly tested, classified, and the results sent to Transport Canada. This is an additional means of monitoring industry compliance and it will bring great security benefit to all Canadians.
Rail Transportation March 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for sinking to an all-time new low with respect to a Green Party intervention in this House with that horrible rant and personal attack against members of Parliament, when the member knows that the honour of members in this House is presumed. To use the words he did, while they may not be unparliamentary, was certain undignified. He should retract those remarks. I will give him an opportunity at some point over the coming days to do so.
The House can rest assured that every investment that has been made over the last number of years in the VIA Rail network has been supported by every member of this Conservative caucus, including members from New Brunswick. The member has been missing in action every single time. He stands up and puts his vote in the opposite direction. He should be ashamed of his record. We are certainly proud of ours.
Rail Transportation March 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, there was a whole lot there in the member's question. The member raised a lot of different topics, everything from rail safety to VIA Rail. I think the focus toward the end was a little more on the VIA Rail side.
The member will know that our government provides significant funding to support passenger rail services. For example, in 2012–13, our government provided VIA Rail, a crown corporation that operates at arm's length from the government, with $275 million across its network for passenger rail services to Canadians.
In addition, since 2006, we have invested about $1 billion in capital funding, supporting projects on everything from station upgrades to rail car refurbishment and track improvements. I will note that the member opposite opposed all of that funding, at every turn.
On the specific rail line mentioned in New Brunswick, the member will know, the government has said it has no intention to buy the track. CN has indicated its plans to advertise it for sale. Instead, our role is to provide a legislative framework that encourages stakeholders to seek commercial solutions to address the discontinuance of rail lines.
The Canada Transportation Act actually lays out the process that railways must follow if they want to stop service on those lines. The line transfer or discontinuance provisions in the Canada Transportation Act are aimed at encouraging the retention of rail lines, where it makes sense to do so, by giving other railways or other interested parties the opportunity to continue railway operations.
While the discontinuance process is under way, CN will continue to be responsible for maintaining the rail line and ensuring the service is not disrupted. If CN does complete the discontinuance process for this portion of track, VIA Rail, as an independent crown corporation, will have to make its own decision about passenger rail services in New Brunswick.
Our government is obviously going to continue to monitor that particular circumstance.
I want to address the issue of rail safety. The minister has taken a number of very important actions related to rail safety. Our government has taken a number of actions consistently for a number of years.
We have invested over $100 million in our rail safety system. We continue to hire inspectors for inspections across the country. Last year alone, we did a record 30,000 traditional inspections of everything from track to equipment, and that is in addition to the inspections that railway companies themselves are required to do, by the way.
We brought in important whistleblower protection so that employees who may see something that goes contrary to the rules will have the immunity they need to be able to report those types of incidents, and new administrative monetary penalties to increase the suite of compliance mechanisms available to Transport Canada officials at the conclusion of investigations so they can look at how to penalize infractions. That makes the system far more robust.
I could go on and on. There are information-sharing protocols with first responders in municipalities, and new permanent rules were put in place for the original emergency directive, post Lac-Mégantic. We are following the recommendations of the Transportation Safety Board.
I could go on and on about how we continue to do more rail safety. The last point I will make is that while we are trying to get our committee out to places like Lac-Mégantic, so we can find more things to improve rail safety in this country, opposition members continue to hold up that important committee travel.
Quebec Bridge March 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, let me be clear for the member. CN owns the bridge and is responsible for it. The federal government's jurisdiction extends to the inspection of the rail line portion of the bridge. We have met our obligations to inspect it, and the track is fine. The province is responsible for the inspection of the roadway portion of the bridge, and it has undertaken those responsibilities.
However, let the record show that in criticizing the $400,000 that has been spent on legal fees, the member opposite would let CN entirely off the hook for its obligations, and that is absolutely shameful. We will not do that to our taxpayers and we will ensure that CN meets its obligations.
Quebec Bridge March 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity today to speak in the House about the Quebec Bridge. The Quebec Bridge is an impressive structure of historical importance and a prominent landmark in the community. The Quebec Bridge is a vital link for transportation. CN and VIA trains use the rail lines on a regular basis, and thousands of vehicles cross back and forth daily. Thus, the Quebec Bridge supports the local and national economies as well as contributing to social vitality in the region.
I would like to briefly provide some context for my comments today.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Government of Canada divested itself of various transportation assets as part of removing itself from the direct management and ownership of transportation services. In this context, just prior to CN's privatization in 1993, the Government of Canada and CN agreed to the transfer of a number of valuable rail properties to CN for $1. In exchange for the properties, CN assumed certain liabilities, including the Quebec Bridge. In 1995, CN became the full owner of the Quebec Bridge and assumed responsibility for the bridge's safety, maintenance, and operation.
Upon assuming ownership, CN committed to a major maintenance program for the bridge. To support CN in meeting these restoration obligations, the Governments of Canada and Quebec agreed to contribute toward a 10-year, $60 million restoration program. The Government of Canada's commitment was $6 million.
When this 1997 tripartite agreement ended in 2006, CN had depleted the funds but had not completed some of the maintenance work, and about 60% of the bridge surface had not been painted. These procedures were to be finished as part of the 1997 agreement.
Despite several months of negotiations with CN to complete the restoration, the painting was not completed. As such, the Government of Canada initiated legal action in 2006. Specifically, a motion was filed by the Attorney General of Canada requesting that the Quebec Superior Court declare that CN has failed to meet its contractual obligations, including completing the restoration of the bridge. I understand the trial will be under way in May of this year.
I would like to reiterate that the Quebec Bridge is owned by CN and that the restoration, operation, maintenance, and safety of the Quebec Bridge rests with CN as its owner. The legal action undertaken by the Government of Canada seeks to hold CN accountable for its responsibilities as owner of the bridge and to protect taxpayers. Our government recognizes the importance of CN's completing the restoration of the Quebec Bridge and ensuring its long-term viability.
Anti-Semitism March 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I rise to condemn recent anti-Semitic vandalism at the University of Windsor and its Students' Alliance's one-sided resolution to endorse and participate in the misguided and hateful boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.
BDS singles out the only Jewish state for condemnation, while turning a blind eye to the world's most grotesque violators of human rights. The deceitful BDS movement has no place on Canadian campuses. In fact, it is against everything our universities stand for and creates an environment of intimidation for Jewish students and Jewish staff.
While I denounce this new anti-Semitism poisoning our Canadian campuses, I am proud that our government stands against anti-Semitism at home and abroad and has consistently stood up for Israel on the world stage. As the Prime Minister said in his historic address to the Knesset:
Israel is the only country in the Middle East which has long anchored itself in the ideals of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
Rail Transportation February 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, let me say very clearly, when it comes to investments in VIA Rail, it is the Conservative members in New Brunswick who consistently stand up to ensure that VIA is supported, and not the NDP. The member knows, with respect to this specific line, that this was a business decision made by a private company. There is a regulatory process in place, which that company is following. While the discontinuance process is under way, CN is responsible for maintaining its track infrastructure.