Yes. Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I want to thank my colleagues for allowing me to be here. I'd like to move the motion put on record by Madam Block on February 25, 2019:
That the Committee, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), undertake a study of two meetings on the government's intent to amalgamate the Oshawa and Hamilton port authorities and that the study include: any consultations the government held with stakeholders, the business and governance model, its impact on the local economies and the province of Ontario as well as consultations with the municipalities involved, and that the Committee report its findings to the House.
Madam Chair, I know this committee is doing some great work with the Canadian transportation and logistics study. I understand that there's been an interim report and a lot of good work done in this regard, but I need to bring this up because it's an extremely timely issue for my community. There's a deadline. I think everybody around the table knows that Oshawa got a really big hit recently with the General Motors announcement of the plant closure, and now one of our secondary economic drivers is really hit with some uncertainty.
Our port authority is really important for the city and the region's economic plan. On February 5, the Minister of Transport announced on Newswire—he didn't even pick up the phone and talk to our mayor—that it's the Liberal government's intent to amalgamate the Oshawa and Hamilton port authorities to form a new entity.
The decision was actually a shock to our business leaders and our users. To quote our mayor, Dan Carter, he said, “On behalf of City Council and staff, we were taken aback by the Government of Canada's premature announcement that it intends to amalgamate the two ports.”
Now, the government was very clear that they would make decisions with openness and transparency and with a commitment to consultation. Well, the minister's office didn't meet with any stakeholders, including the City of Oshawa, the port users, the port authority, members of the indigenous communities, the chamber of commerce, the employees, the unions, the importers and the shippers. No one from the ministry will actually come down to Oshawa to answer the numerous questions that we have, and no one will provide an explanation or a rationale for the amalgamation. The announcement is actually raising more questions than answers and, frankly, it's very difficult to give any answers.
These are the questions I'm getting: What problem will the amalgamation resolve? How will it affect our local businesses? How will the local interests be protected in the structuring of the new entity? How will contracts be affected? Why is this amalgamation in the best interests of Oshawa and Durham region? What marketing analysis and financial analysis support the amalgamation? Is there any plan for public hearings or town halls to allow Oshawa to provide input into this decision? No other ports are being amalgamated, and the question I'm getting is why. Was Toronto even considered? If so, why or why not?
This is something that we've spent millions of dollars on, over uncountable hours, to make sure that we have a locally controlled clean and green port. This announcement is causing more uncertainty and hampering decisions that will improve our economic competitiveness in moving forward.
There's been so much secrecy around the announcement. This is really important to Oshawa and Durham region and we deserve to at least be consulted before the decision is made. We participated in the government's ports modernization review, and the review hasn't even been released yet.
We have only until March 11 to submit comments, and the questions I'm getting are why, why now, and why does this need to be done so quickly. The city is respectfully asking for an extension of 90 days so that proper, respectful consultation can occur. The study that we would do here would be an important part of that. The mayor and all the stakeholders are willing to commute and to come up and be in front of the committee here if that would help.
With that, Madam Chair, I know that you have a really important meeting planned, but I would like to ask if we could get a vote on this very important issue for me locally, and if we could have a recorded vote, please.