Madam Speaker, this issue has been before the people of the nation's capital for a great number of years. The hon. member for Victoria-Haliburton, my colleague who just spoke on the issue, adequately explained or visually explained the problems people have in trying to get to the nation's capital. Whether they are coming to Ottawa on the present highway 16 or whether they are coming on Highway 7, both roads are very dangerous.
In 1988 we were talking about the free trade agreement in the House. It was the first bill I had to vote on having been elected in 1988. Madam Speaker, you will remember you were newly elected at the same time. We sat in the House right up to December 23.
One issue I raised in my maiden speech in the House of Commons was with regard to the free trade agreement and particularly highway 416. I raised the importance to the nation's capital of having that four-lane link prepared and the effect it would have on the economy. It is the only four-lane link that would connect us to Toronto. It would be the only four-lane link that we had to connect us to New York State. Presently we have a
two-lane highway connecting us to both Toronto and New York State.
I refer to the comments of the member from the Bloc Quebecois who spoke earlier on why should we give it to Ontario when we should give the same thing to Quebec. I would like to correct the gentleman and advise him that federal moneys have gone into roadworks in the province of Quebec.
We already have a four-lane link between the nation's capital to Montreal and right through to Quebec City. If my memory serves me correctly it goes right through to Rivière du Loup and the Gaspé peninsula. I have travelled that route on many occasions. Therefore the precedent has already been set.
I am looking at transportation infrastructure agreements. In 1993 the federal government put in a $10 million project in roadwork infrastructure in the Northwest Territories. In B.C. it put in $30 million; Saskatchewan, $35 million; Nova Scotia, $30 million; New Brunswick, $130 million. I could go on and on but there was not one penny that went into the province of Ontario.
The province of Ontario has long been recognized as the engine of growth in this country. We who live in Ontario are very proud of that. We are very proud to help the provinces that do not have the financial resources we have had historically up until this point in time, to sustain not only ourselves in this province but also the people in the other provinces. We have been pleased to do that.
However the province of Ontario today is going through very tough economic times. We no longer have the manufacturing base we had before. We have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Whether it is the result of the free trade agreement I think the jury is still out on that. We need to do things that are going to increase economic growth. We need to do this not only in all of Ontario but we need to do it specifically here in the nation's capital.
Why should we put federal money into a roadway coming into the nation's capital? For goodness sakes, it is the nation's capital. The eyes of the country are on this capital city. We talk about our Canadian dollar and how it flips up and down. Is it any wonder it flips up and down when we cannot even put a four-lane highway into the nation's capital? It is absolutely disgraceful.
The argument of the gentleman from the Bloc Quebecois does not wash with me and it does not wash with the majority of Canadians.
The improvements to this highway are long overdue when one considers the increase in traffic over the 25 years plus that I certainly have been a resident of the Ottawa-Carleton region. We have seen the traffic patterns increase. As a result of this heavy traffic we see the accidents have increased in this area.
There is the commercial business, the recreation business, the tourist traffic. This morning my colleague from Leeds-Grenville and I were at a meeting. We met with the tourism industry from eastern Ontario. What is happening to the tourism industry? What is happening to the tourism industry in the nation's capital? Do members know how many dollars from the tourism industry support governments, support the federal government, support the provincial government?
It is very shortsighted on our part not to recognize the economic importance we as a nation as a whole would realize from such a structure being expanded. The construction of highway 416 to a four-lane highway is precisely the kind of infrastructure we as the government are talking about. It is something that is needed in the province of Ontario.
It would provide jobs and would improve jobs, which would contribute to the productivity and competitiveness of area employers. The four-lane link is vital to the continued growth of eastern Ontario.
I cannot be dramatic enough in speaking to my colleague's motion. Our future in eastern Ontario depends upon it.
Even setting that aside, set aside eastern Ontario and think of the nation's capital. You people from Quebec, think of your capital city, Quebec City. How many times in the province of Quebec have you heard Quebecers say: "Oh, Quebec City gets everything. We don't get anything in Montreal. We don't get anything in Hull". At that point in time you have a federal government which has been especially kind to you, which has helped with bridges, which has helped with roads and which has helped with the infrastructure in the province of Quebec.
I say the same thing to Toronto, to Queen's Park. Look at all of the beautiful roads in Toronto. I do not want to crap all over Bob Rae and what he is doing. My colleagues would like me to, but for goodness sake, Queen's Park is not any different from Quebec City where they think of their own and they want to make sure that the capital of their province is well looked after.
Would you not agree with me that Quebec City is probably better looked after in terms of infrastructure as compared to Montreal? Would you not agree with me on that? Or Ottawa?
This is the seat of our Canadian Parliament. It is the seat of all our national institutions. Our museums, our arts centres, our galleries, everything that is national in scope is here in this region. Maybe we should do as Washington does. Maybe we should make this little precinct around the nation's capital, on both sides of the river. Make this a separate little province or a
regional area or territory that could receive these special dollars to ensure it is an area we can be proud of.
People come here from all over the world. My God, heaven forbid if they are driving from Toronto and they have to come in on the two-lane highway. They cannot believe they are on the road to the nation's capital.
I believe my time is almost up. I have gone on in trying to impress upon this House the importance of this issue to me, to the nation and to the capital. All of us in this House should be very concerned. I hope all members will support my colleague from Leeds-Grenville on this issue.