Mr. Speaker, Bill C-22 will be an opportunity for me to demonstrate the unfair treatment given Jean Lesage Airport in my riding, compared with other Canadian airports.
Since the opening of the 35th Parliament on January 17, we have on many occasions heard Liberal and Reform Party members boast of the advantages of Canadian federalism for Quebecers. In my speech on Bill C-22, I will try to show how different the real situation is by looking at the problems we have with air transportation.
First of all, we condemn the centralizing approach of Transport Canada in decisions that affect Quebec. For instance, there is the story around the selection of Mirabel as a second airport for Montreal. The result: 20 years of economic disaster. Mirabel is still finding its feet, Dorval has stagnated, and Toronto has emerged as the big winner from Transport Canada's planning disaster. From 1970 to 1991, Air Canada moved 12 per cent of its employees from Montreal to Toronto, and from 1977 to 1991, Montreal lost 22 per cent of its pilots, while the number of pilots in Toronto increased by 34 per cent. In 1988, Air Canada transferred its pilot training services to Toronto, and in 1991, 12 management positions were transferred as well.
The centralizing approach of Transport Canada has affected air traffic control as well.
Terminal control units have been transferred to regional control centres. Halifax, Thunder Bay, North Bay, Regina, Saskatoon and Sault Ste. Marie each lost their radar control facilities.
The terminal at the airport in Quebec City will be closed in July 1994, which means that after that date, aside from the seven regional control centres, only Ottawa and Calgary will be allowed to maintain their air traffic control units.
Nearly $1 billion has been spent as part of a plan that has created a number of security problems by making vast areas extremely vulnerable, in case of a malfunction in regional radars or if regional control centres have to be evacuated in an emergency, and I will get back to this later on.
I would now like to make some comparisons to illustrate how ignorant Liberal and Reform Party members are when they claim Quebec is complaining on a full stomach.
The airport in Quebec City was built on 633 hectares of land, the airport in Halifax on 930 hectares, Winnipeg on 1504 hectares, Toronto on 1714 hectares and Edmonton on 2669 hectares.
Liberal and Reform Party members will have to admit that Quebecers paid approximately 25 per cent of the cost of these locations, which are much bigger than the site at Jean Lesage Airport in Quebec City.
These properties have cost Quebecers a lot of money. Only the airports in Newfoundland, Charlottetown, Regina, Yellowknife and Whitehorse are on sites smaller than the location in Quebec City.
If we compare air terminal areas, Quebec has 12,126 square metres, Ottawa has 18,044, Winnipeg has 24,834, Halifax has 24,870 and Edmonton 34,374. Liberal and Reform Party members will have to admit that Quebecers paid 25 per cent of the cost of the air terminals in these Canadian cities, while they have to make do with an area two to three times as small. Once again, the other provinces have cost Quebec a lot of money.
My Liberal and Reform Party colleagues might want to justify Transport Canada's neglect of Quebec, by assuming that the volume of air traffic at the airport in Quebec City is smaller than at other Canadian airports.
Here are some more figures to demonstrate the greed of Transport Canada. What we have here is the increase in transborder and international flights from 1988 to 1992: Halifax went up 12.5 per cent; Winnipeg, 13 per cent; Calgary, 15 per cent; Quebec City, 179 p. 100.
I did not make this up. These figures are from Transport Canada.
This was about increases in volume. If we compare the flight volume in Quebec City with the volume at the other airports I mentioned, we see that these volumes are comparable. It is therefore not surprising that, with a comparable flight volume and an operating area two to three times as small, the quality of service provided by Transport Canada at Jean Lesage Airport is very poor. In fact, according to Transport Canada's own criteria, the level of service at the airport in Quebec City, rates an F, which means: system saturated, congestion and unacceptable delays. So much for the profitable federalism you are trying to sell Quebecers!
Everyone refers to Jean Lesage Airport as a bush airport. Considering the millions of dollars invested in other Canadian airports and especially in Toronto, the situation in Quebec city is
a disgrace. The only explanation is the irresponsible attitude, if not bad faith, of Transport Canada and the Liberal and Conservative members who sat and sit on the benches opposite.
This is one more indication that, under Canadian federalism, Liberal and Conservative members from Quebec have always done the bidding of the English Canadian majority and never had any real power. The presence of Prime Ministers from Quebec was, and still is, merely an illusion of power.
Let us now go back to air traffic control. While the regional centres in other provinces serve, on average, some 2.6 million people, in Quebec, according to Transport Canada plans, the Montreal regional air traffic control centre will be serving a population of 7 million. This is what we mean by profitable federalism for all Canadians, except Quebecers, who are paying to provide other provinces with services they can only dream of.
We are not fooled by all this! Why is Transport Canada trying to close the Quebec City airport terminal air traffic control unit? The reason invoked is savings. However, we do not believe it, because we can prove that a series of decisions proposed by Transport Canada will require much larger investments than what is requested by the people involved in the Quebec City area. We believe that the real reason, although nobody would admit to it, is the elimination of a French-speaking air traffic control centre. Then Canada would be left with only two officially bilingual centres, one in Montreal and one in Ottawa.
Speaking of bilingualism at the Ottawa airport, how do you expect francophones of this country to feel that they get some respect, when they know that Transport Canada has been trying unsuccessfully for five years to render air traffic control bilingual at the airport of the national capital of a country which claims to have an official languages policy. This is the Prime Minister's Canada.
By the way, why was the Ottawa airport terminal air traffic control unit not transferred to Toronto, like all other units within a given region? Air traffic control in Ottawa was supposed to become bilingual, so if it were to be transferred to Toronto, could that centre be expected to become bilingual one day? The answer is obvious.
This is one more example of the so-called profitability of federalism as it applies, this time, to air transportation. Over the years, Quebecers have come to realize that Canadian federalism cannot be reformed and cannot be profitable. I should add, by the way, that if the other provinces had not come to the same conclusion, that is to say that Quebec is profitable for them, why would they be so strenuously opposed to Quebec sovereignty?
As for the possibility of the Canadian government compensating people who were about to extort millions of dollars from Canadians, it is outrageous. If we should compensate friends of Liberal and Conservative regimes for profit losses, how should we compensate Quebecers for 125 years of federalism that kept them unemployed and dependent? This unfair treatment of the people of Quebec began in 1840, when England imposed the Act of Union between Upper and Lower Canada. In doing so, England wanted to make Canadians living in Lower Canada, French Canadians, pay part of Upper Canada's debt. Quebec has already paid its share of compensation and then some.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, clearly, I will vote against this bill.