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House of Commons Hansard #203 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was milk.

Topics

Air-India DisasterPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Air-India DisasterPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

An hon. member

No.

Air-India DisasterPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I will give the hon. member for York South-Weston one minute if he wants to close the debate.

Air-India DisasterPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

Liberal

John Nunziata Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the closing of the debate, I want to remind the House that several members have stood up, all of them Liberal members of Parliament, asking that this motion be votable.

I would like you, Mr. Speaker, to consider a point of privilege. This is private members' business. On several occasions there was one member, the parliamentary secretary to the solicitor general, who withheld his consent to having this matter voted upon. He has not spoken today and I do not know why he has not. Perhaps he does not have any worthwhile submissions to make today.

However, I would suggest that as the parliamentary secretary to the solicitor general, he does not have the right to interfere in private members' business. If his withholding of unanimous consent is as an individual member, then that is one thing, but if he is interfering on the part of the Government of Canada, I would submit that is improper. The Prime Minister and the government has committed itself to the integrity of the private members' business. If private members' business is in fact to remain private, allowing free votes on behalf of private members, then the parliamentary secretary to the solicitor general should keep his nose out of private members' business.

Air-India DisasterPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time has expired. Is there unanimous consent to let the parliamentary secretary reply as a point of order?

Air-India DisasterPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Air-India DisasterPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

An hon. member

It was a point of privilege.

Air-India DisasterPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It does not matter whether it is privilege or a point of order, the time has expired and there is not unanimous consent to go over the time. Therefore, the time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. Pursuant Standing Order 96, the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Air-India DisasterAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to pursue a question I asked the Minister of Transport in this House last week about the port of Belledune in New Brunswick.

I asked the minister to explain to this House how he justified giving a $5.8 million grant to the port of Belledune after saying that he was "not prepared to put a cent into Belledune as far as a grant or anything like that is concerned, any more than I would put into the port of Saint John or anywhere else".

The minister gave an answer but it was not to my question. I was pleased to hear him say that he would consider forgiving the loan to the port of Saint John, but not surprisingly he flip-flopped on that promise once the cameras were off.

It is not just troubling that the minister continually goes back on his word but that he gave the port of Belledune almost $6 million when we have yet to see a plan on how the port intends to pay back its $20 million loan it has received.

Furthermore, the minister has failed to explain why the government is spending over $25 million on new berthage and cargo sheds in a town bordering the minister's home riding when there is excess capacity at the port of Saint John and the port of Dalhousie which is only 32 kilometres away. As the minister has stated, once the port of Belledune and the expansion takes place, the port of Dalhousie is out of business.

The House will understand my questioning the minister's motivations for this grant to Belledune in light of some of the decisions made by this government.

Just recently there have been hearings on the privatization of the pilotage authority of our harbour pilots. I ask again, is this because the port of Belledune does not need the harbour pilots and the port of Saint John does?

For example, in February we learned of a decision by public works to borrow $12 million to build a new office complex in the riding of the Indian affairs minister, even though the office building vacancy rate is 18.2 per cent in Sault Ste. Marie and despite the fact that a less expensive option of buying and retrofitting existing office space could save $5 to $6.5 million for the taxpayers of Canada.

Now the minister of public works and the Nova Scotia transportation minister have inexplicably diverted $26 million of the federal strategic highway improvement program, known

as SHIP, funds designated for Nova Scotia highway 104, death valley, toward the fleur-de-lis tourist trail in their ridings.

The SHIP agreement states that projects undertaken are to be part of the national highway system. The fleur-de-lis does not meet this criterion and everyone knows it. Death valley is an example, just as Belledune is an example, of blatant, unapologetic, pork barrelling with no thought to fiscal responsibility.

The Saint John Port Corporation told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport on March 16, 1995 that "there is an overcapacity in Canadian ports with too much underutilization of infrastructure and the federal government as the shareholder of the port is competing against itself".

Once again I ask the Minister of Transport to explain why he is pouring millions of dollars into expanding the port of Belledune when existing ports in New Brunswick are underutilized.

Air-India DisasterAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

London East Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate but as usual this member has it all wrong and misrepresents the facts.

The proposed marine terminal at Belledune represents an unprecedented partnership between federal, provincial and various municipal governments. All three levels of government working in concert will be putting funds into this project.

If the member were concerned about the future of marine transportation in Atlantic Canada, she would be supporting this unique collaboration. It is interesting to note the following comments from Paul Doiron, general manager of Logistec Stevedoring that operates the Rodney terminal. He said he did not expect that development of the terminal of Belledune on the north shore would offer threatening competition to Logistec.

He then said that Forterm operates the largest forest products terminal on the eastern seaboard and is in the top eight or nine forest products terminals in the world. That will not change. "We will be able to compete just as we have for over 16 years," he said.

It is sad to note that the member wants to deny the people in this region the right to seek a loan from the federal government when she had no trouble supporting a request that the federal government write off a loan for the port of Saint John.

I would be interested to discover whether the hon. member opposite during her reign as mayor ever gave the port of Saint John money toward its operations. Perhaps if she had, the port would not be in this fix today.

It seems that I have to remind the former mayor that members should be reminded that Belledune and Saint John are in the same province and that the entire province will benefit from the increased economic activity.

The mayors and people of the municipalities surrounding Belledune are putting their money up front to support their region and the entire marine industry. They should be applauded, not hindered, and this member should be supporting New Brunswick, not voting against it.

Air-India DisasterAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 38(5), the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed adopted.

Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7.08 p.m.)