Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate again in this debate on Bill C-22.
First of all, I would like to tell you how surprised I am to see a government that, just weeks ago, contended it was bound by a secret verbal agreement-more bounded than that, you choke-now be able to get out of a written, signed agreement.
I notice also that the government refused categorically to provide us with any information whatsoever, not one single document, on the verbal agreement regarding Ginn Publishing. In the case of the signed agreement between Her Majesty and T1 T2 Limited Partnership however, it produced a schedule attached to the bill listing 24 agreements and leases, as well as 7 other agreements and 19 other documents, for a total of 46 different documents. But again this was an agreement the Prime Minister had signed herself with her Minister of Transport.
How the government can so easily break that many agreements and leases while the Minister of National Heritage is incapable of getting out of a verbal agreement remains a great mystery to me, a mystery I hope we will be able to clear up someday.
That being said, I would like to address two questions: first, did the government negotiate a secret, possibly verbal, agreement with regards to compensation that could be paid under clause 10? Second, does the government intend to favour unduly, as it has in the past, Pearson Airport at the expense of other airports in the Toronto region and elsewhere in Canada?
Let us start by looking at a possible secret deal. This bill makes use of the well-known Liberal technique of concealment. For example, clause 9 reads, and I quote:
No one is entitled to any compensation-
That sounds clear and simple. Finally, we think, the government is taking a firm stand.
Wrong. Again, the government is concealing its real intentions, because paragraph 10(1) of the bill states, and I quote:
If the Minister considers it appropriate to do so the Minister may, with the approval of the Governor in Council, enter into agreements on behalf of Her Majesty to provide for the payment of such amounts as the Minister considers appropriate in connection with the coming into force of the Act, subject to the terms and conditions that the Minister considers appropriate.
In other words, for my hon. opponents who have not yet understood, the government is giving itself the authority, without telling anyone, as is its way, to pay its friends what it wants, without reporting the amount.
Because remember, several friends of the Conservatives and also of the Liberals, of course, are in the T1 T2 Limited Partnership. For the information of some Liberal members who always made it a duty under the former government to point out the shadow of a doubt about conflicts of interest, I remind them that several of their fund-raisers and affiliates took part in the limited partnership in question, which will benefit from clause 10(1) of the bill which we are discussing.
Since the lunch hour is often a time for game shows on television, I suggest we play a game of Jeopardy.
Here are the clues for the first question: He owns Claridge Properties Inc., which controls T1 T2 Limited Partnership; he is also a great Liberal and contributor to the party's election fund. You are right, the question is: Who is Charles Bronfman?
Second question: He is a lobbyist for Claridge Properties and a former organizer for Jean Chrétien. Once again, you are right: Who is Herb Metcalfe?
Third question: He is a Liberal senator and held a $1,000-a-plate benefit supper during the election campaign; coincidentally, he is on the board of Claridge Properties, the majority shareholder of T1 T2 Limited Partnership. You are right: Who is Leo Kolber?
And I could go on.
Again I ask: Is there a written or verbal agreement guaranteeing payments to shareholders of T1 T2 Limited Partnership that this bill would implement?
I want to pay particular attention to the written or verbal agreement as one of the people involved in the Pearson Airport case is Fred Doucet, the lobbyist who managed to convince the Liberal minister of heritage to sell part of the Canadian heritage to foreign interests by invoking a verbal agreement.
The Minister of Transport must table all the documents kept secret on this bill, and especially its virtual or potential agreements to prevent the government from wasting public funds, as it seems to be doing, to thank its friends and compensate them for an election promise that cost them a juicy contract. It must be as transparent as it claims to be and set up a royal commission of inquiry to shed light on the case and its history.
Otherwise, Quebecers and Canadians will know that under their Liberal government, a beer drinker can have his benefits cut without qualms while a distillery owner gets breaks such as Clause 10 of this bill.
Bill C-22 does not say anything about the government's intentions regarding Pearson airport. We already know that the government intended to favour this airport at the expense of other Metro Toronto airports by prohibiting Transport Canada from making, at any airport located within a 75-kilometre radius of Pearson airport, investments likely to decrease traffic at Pearson. In Montreal, Transport Canada forced the Montreal airport society to keep Mirabel and Dorval airports open as a requirement for privatizing airport operations. Unfortunately for Montreal, while Jean Chrétien and his then colleagues were plunging the country into an astronomical deficit-the last of which, in 1984, has never been matched in constant dollars-, they did not choose the same path as that taken for Toronto, that is expanding the existing airport instead of creating two lame ducks to Toronto's great delight.
I will quote Jean Lapointe, the spokesman for the Reaction group that includes airline and aircraft industry employees as well as the Canadian Manufacturers' Association. Mr. Lapointe made the following comment regarding the decision of the Montreal Airports Advisory Board to keep both airports in operation: "It is clear that Ottawa has opted in favour of Toronto. Can Quebec have a competitive airport system? The answer is no. Quebec will only manage to do that through sovereignty, because its hands will no longer be tied by the decisions made in Ottawa". So, what is that decision made by Ottawa all about?
Claude Picher, who is a journalist with La Presse , tells us that entrusting the management of Dorval and Mirabel airports to a non-profit corporation was conditional upon maintaining two major airports for the greater Montreal area. This is a case of double standard.
There is also the issue of investments. Does this government intend to invest massive amounts of money in Pearson Airport, to the detriment of other airports which must be self-financing? Let us not forget that the cancelled contract provided for investments of some $700 million for terminals 1 and 2 at Pearson Airport. We still do not know if the government will make these investments before entrusting the management of the airport to who-knows-whom. By contrast, the Montreal Airports Advisory Board, which does not have the financial means of the government, will invest some $150 million, or $30
million annually over a five-year period, to modernize and improve the infrastructures and facilities at Dorval and Mirabel.
The previous and current governments chose Toronto, and Montreal is still paying the price. According to the daily Le Soleil , in 1990, 20.5 million passengers were processed at Pearson Airport, compared to 8.9 million for Dorval and Mirabel combined. In the same editorial, Michel Audet points out that, in 1952, Montreal had 20 per cent more head offices and financial institutions than Toronto. But by 1988, it had 60 per cent fewer. Mr. Audet also mentions the fact that between 1975, which is the year Mirabel opened, and 1980, the number of passengers increased by only 13 per cent in Montreal, compared to 37 per cent in Toronto. This pattern has persisted and is even more pronounced now. This bias also led to significant job loss in the greater Montreal area. For example, an official of the Public Service Alliance mentioned that he now represents only 900 employees in the Montreal area where he used to speak for 1,200 workers in 1978.
I leave you with the conclusion Claude Picher came to while reviewing the study conducted by Aéroports de Montréal, a study which concluded that the greater Montreal should keep both its airports. Mr. Picher said, and I quote: "Hundreds of millions of dollars have been thrown in this venture which did nothing to improve the competitiveness of Montreal. Quite the opposite in fact, since the Mirabel fiasco is partly responsible for redirecting traffic to Toronto."
Since airports in Dorval, Mirabel, Edmonton and Vancouver were handed to non-profit corporations, why should we have something different for Toronto? Is it that what is good for the rest of the country is not good enough for Toronto? The government does not seem to want to answer to the requests made by the greater Toronto area, why is that so? Why does the government not entrust the management of Terminals 1 and 2 to a non-profit organisation immediately?