Mr. Speaker, you will understand that it is with barely contained excitement that I join the debate on Bill C-4 which, on the surface, might seem very dry and technical, but still has its romantic side. I will get back to this later on.
Having said that, while we support the bill, as all my predecessors have said, there is nevertheless a certain amount of disappointment . The member for Outremont and Minister of Transport was so outspoken during the electoral campaign. All my colleagues remember this. He said that he would be very vigilant in defending Quebec's interests. Given what the member for Outremont has been saying, we would have expected one or two legislative initiatives before the introduction of Bill C-4.
Not that this bill is not important. I will get back to this. It is a bill to implement international conventions that give loan guarantees and that pertain to a whole series of processes for mortgages, mobile equipment and aircraft registries. We are not saying that it is not important since a number of industrialized countries have signed on to this convention. However, would it not have been more important for this House to deal first with former Bill C-26? Would it not have been more important for the Minister of Transport to take his responsibilities and reintroduce former Bill C-26 that gave the Canadian Transportation Agency--a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal--power to mediate in those cases where the railway companies do not act properly or do not respect the surrounding communities?
I am sure that, through you, we could ask those members who represent ridings where railway companies show no respect for the local communities, making noise and switching engines at all hours of the dayi n a residential area, to raise their hand. In my riding of Hochelaga, on Moreau street, the CP is operating 24/7. I have been told that, in the Lévis area, this very beautiful area of Quebec's national capital, a former mayor has called the Government of Canada on this matter. In Outremont, there is a switching yard. Some of our fellow citizens are being deprived of their quality of life, by a lack of respect, a lack of regulations. When the transportation agency proposed regulations, the CP went to court. As a result, the Federal Court of Appeal brought down a decision, saying that the transportation agency did not have jurisdiction to propose such regulations.
All this to say that, when my amiable colleague from Longueuil and transportation critic spoke this morning, she urged the Minister of Transport to restore former Bill C-26. We need legislation like that, because, in every province, in every community, there are railway companies behaving like barons of industry, interested only in money and with little or no regard for our fellow citizens. When, in a residential area, a person lives next to a railroad track, has to fight with railway companies behaving in an irresponsible fashion, we believe it is the role of this Parliament and of the Minister of Transport to become more vigilant and to introduce a bill to remedy the situation much sooner than they have.
Were we not entitled to expect—we have been talking about it in the Bombardier file—that we would be presented with a policy on aeronautics and aerospace? Every time the federal government prepared to fulfill its responsibilities in the area of transportation, it failed miserably. The oldest members in this House—not in chronological terms, but the oldest politically speaking, those who were here before the June 2004 election—can recall the disaster brought about by the Minister of Transport with his policy of divestment of wharves in smaller ports.
The government wanted to entrust the management of these ports to the communities, but without making the necessary resources available. If it had not been for the members of the Bloc, this file would just about have gone unnoticed by the Quebec Liberal caucus.
People will recall, of course, as the member for d'Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel mentioned, the boondoggle created by Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I can think of no other words to describe the white elephant that the whole issue of the Mirabel airport became. It was the kind of anarchic way of doing things that was questioned.
I could also talk about shipping. As you know, I have been the member for Hochelaga since 1993. In the 1980s, not that long ago, shipyards in Canada, in my constituency and in various provinces were closed. I do not know how old you were then, Mr. Speaker, but I am sure you were sufficiently aware and interested in public affairs that you can remember that.
In Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, generations had worked for the MIL Vickers Inc., a shipbuilding industry. In the 1980s, we realized there was a 30% shipping overcapacity throughout the world. The decline in this industry is not due to any lack of vigour on the part of the workforce, but to a lack of will to continue improving our product and technologies. These workers were left to their own resources, and the federal government shunned its responsibilities.
The provinces did take theirs. I remember the excellent government of René Lévesque—and I am talking here with the objectivity I am known for—had already suggested elements of a policy to help workers adjust and move to another career.
I am sure my colleagues remember the Program for Older Worker Adjustment, or POWA, which goes back to the days of Brian Mulroney's Conservatives. The initiator of this program was minister Cadieux. This program had a big flaw. In communities with a population of over 100,000 residents, like Montreal, 100 workers had to be laid off for them to be eligible. We had layoffs in a number of communities, but POWA could not kick in because the number of laid off workers was not high enough.
On several occasions, Bloc Québécois members introduced bills to rectify this situation, but the government never provided any support to get such a bill passed.
This file has been a disaster right from the beginning. The Mirabel file is a disaster too. When it comes to shipyards, the government missed the boat.
I remember the excellent work done by the former member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, whom I can call by name now since he no longer is an MP. I am sure you have fond memories of him too, Mr. Speaker. I am talking about Mr. Antoine Dubé. On several occasions he put forward bills and organized workers to get the federal government to invest in a shipbuilding policy, to help workers at the then Lévis shipyard.
I am sure Mr. Dubé's successor, the member for Lévis—Bellechasse, who, as you know, is a Bloc Québécois members, will keep on urging the federal government to come up with a shipbuilding policy.
I digress. We might reasonably have expected other bills to come before Bill C-4.
But let us back to Bill C-4. We will support it at least at this stage. We will see if we can continue supporting it in committee. As the member for Longueuil said with her traditional dynamism we will support the bill in principle.
We are aware that they are differences between Canada and Germany with regard to the law. In Canada, even though the executive might ratify an international convention, it does not in itself create law. In Germany, it does. They have a monist system. As soon as the executive creates or signs a convention, it creates law.
Here in Canada for a convention to be implemented, we need an implementation bill. Bill C-4 is exactly that.
I am sure that television viewers are anxious to know that Bill C-4 seeks to implement international agreements. What are these agreements? They are the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment.
What do we want to achieve through these conventions? We want to change somewhat the rules of the game in the international aerospace industry. Let us face it: if there is an industry that has been affected by globalization, it is the aerospace industry. A number of companies have their head office in Montreal or in Toronto. Many subcontractors are involved in the building of an aircraft. Sometimes, subcontractors may even be located abroad.
When an aircraft is built, creditors involved in the funding process will sometime ask for loan guarantees. The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques knows about this, because he follows very closely what is happening on the international scene. When such guarantees are requested, they must of course be provided. It is what is commonly called a mortgage.
Incidentally, this notion is studied in law school. While I would definitely not go so far as to say that these are the most popular courses, students must pass them, because they are mandatory.
When mortgages are sought to provide funding, those who provide them may ask for guarantees. We could have a situation where an international consortium may be the debtor regarding various equipment located abroad, in different countries, and incorporated under different laws.
Bill C-4 proposes to harmonize all this, so that things will be a little clearer. This legislation is good for both creditors and debtors. The bill even proposes an international registry in which the names of all those involved in commercial transactions relating to aircraft would be listed.
Therefore, it would be difficult for the Bloc Québécois not to support such a bill, or at least its underlying principle. However, we remain just as disappointed by the fact that Bill C-4 was given priority over other measures which, we feel, should have taken precedence.
Let us take the example of Bombardier. As members know, I represent a riding of Montreal and I would like to say a few words about Bombardier.
We know that Bombardier is currently being courted by many. The media is reporting that some U.S. states—our neighbours to the south—and European countries, have made concrete proposals. Bombardier has been offered several million dollars for its expertise in aircraft, especially for 100 and 110 seat airplanes.
The Minister of Transport has been very vocal in other arenas, but not very firm when it comes to defending Quebec's interests. We would have expected him to defend Bombardier's interests a little more vigorously.
When we think of modern day Quebec, we think of a certain number of things: René Lévesque's political party financing legislation, the Quebec education system, CEGEPs, and so on, but also the aeronautics industry. Generations of workers in today's Quebec—Quebec since the Quiet Revolution—have worked in the aeronautics and aerospace industry. In today's fiercely competitive market, Bombardier is not in a vulnerable position, but in a highly competitive position.
That is why in the previous Parliament, the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup will recall, the Bloc Québécois was extremely clear in its call for better funding for Technology Partnerships Canada. We feel that public funds are needed in situations like the one Bombardier is in.
My colleagues will agree that we in the Bloc Québécois are not extreme interventionists. However, we find that the lending package that Technology Partnerships Canada provides is a connection between private enterprise and the role of the government. That is why we think it is important for the Minister of Transport to deal with this issue.
I do not know what my colleagues think, but I was very unhappy when I heard the Minister of Transport say in two or three televised news reports that there would be no counteroffers. What a thing to say. As though it were a question of counteroffers. Of course not. Public funds have to be used wisely.
From the time that a proposal is put on the table, that jobs are at risk in Quebec and, thus, that there is a threat to one of our most important industrial sectors, is it not the role of the transport minister, particularly if he is a Quebecker, to put a proposal on the table? One would have expected him to make a formal proposal rather than serving us up a clever but meaningless speech which is actually a denial of responsibility.
It is in situations like this that Quebecers will realize how well advised they were, in June, to put their confidence in the 54 members of the Bloc Québécois. Rest assured that the Bloc Québécois will work relentlessly to make sure that those jobs are not lost to the Americans. It will also make sure that the Minister of Transport tables a proposal at the appropriate time. Finally, the Bloc Québécois will try to make sure that Bombardier remains among the 20 top industries of the aeronautics sector. This is no small matter.
In light of the success Bombardier has achieved, we should not hesitate to act and answer the call of these members of the business community.
When I was elected in 1993, I think you were in your early twenties. Lucien Bouchard asked me to take on the file of the restructuring of the military industry into a civil industry and the file of technology. I was somewhat surprised by his choice. I am a big-hearted person, but I had trouble hooking up my VCR; I was not very knowledgeable about technology. However, I took an interest in this file and I discovered that there was a program called DIPP or Defence Industry Productivity Program.
As a critic, when I delved into--