Mr. Speaker, Bill C-81 is the bill before us.
The Buffalo and Fort Erie Bridge Company is a company formed by the Government of Canada in co-operation with the Government of the United States. The increased traffic on the international bridge resulting from the free trade agreement, which, it will be remembered, the Liberals opposed vigorously at the time, has now necessitated construction work.
The bill will accordingly allow the company to borrow up to $100 million on the private market through bond issues. This $100 million will help to pay for part of the Gateway project-a ten year $144 million project. Construction is planned on both sides of the border. It should be noted that the Government of Canada does not guarantee the $100 million loans. Theoretically, then, these loans are not binding on the Government of Canada.
The need to increase the borrowing power of the company will also enable the government to correct an anomaly. This bridge is the only one to come under the authority of the Minister of Finance. All the other international cross-border highways are the responsibility of the Minister of Transport, and the bill assigns him responsibility for this bridge as well.
A third aspect of this bill is that in order to facilitate future increases in the borrowing power of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Company, the governor in council is authorized by this bill to increase the borrowing limit.
It should be noted that the bridge authority must cover its expenses and that moneys spent to improve the bridge will be recovered through an increase in traffic and tolls.
For all these reasons, we support this bill, all the more so because the Bloc Quebecois has always supported the liberalization of trade and the NAFTA. The increased traffic on the bridge is a good example of the economic benefit to both countries of this liberalization. In opposing the free trade agreement, the Liberals showed at that time that they were unable to take economic decisions that would benefit Canada.
By proposing legislation in this House today that would help the bridge handle the increase in traffic resulting from this agreement that they so vigorously opposed, the Liberals are making amends, and in the same spirit I would be prepared to let bygones be bygones.