Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's intervention and I respect what he said, because a lot of what he says has a lot of merit. Possibly even there could be two directors around the same table just having a difference of opinion on how to approach a problem.
I heard another comment. I promised I would never have rabbit ears, but there is a certain individual whose voice is so loud that I just have to say that when they tell me I do not understand, let me tell that hon. member that I do understand. I have been in business for a long time. I know what it takes to buy and sell businesses and how to make a profit and how to achieve a bottom line.
We have a railroader here debating with a businessman. Maybe he is the only railroader. I know I am not the only businessman, but along with the Minister of Finance and the member for Edmonton South I may be one of the few successful businessmen here whose comments are made in sincerity, not partisan politics. We are talking business here. We are talking privatization and how it should be done. I submit these suggestions on the basis that I feel that the government and the Minister of Transport should reconsider these issues.
On the question of Montreal, I did agree that there was some sense to keeping the headquarters in Montreal for the sake of stability. I would agree with that member that stability is important, that to allow a new purchaser to lift up, pull out, and do what they wanted initially would be a mistake. But that stability should have a time factor on it. It should not be in perpetuity. It should be long enough that the people who are running the company, the board of directors, can have five years. It could be three, it could be eight, it could be ten. I do not care about the number, but eliminate that forever clause.
They can try it and see whether leaving Montreal is in the best interests of the corporation. They can choose then where to move the corporation. Anybody who buys a company should have that freedom and flexibility. I believe that will attract and help those people who would be bothered by that and handicapped by that. It would eliminate that, which in the long run would be negative. In the short run it is a positive, but if you really want to attract investors you have to look at the long term, not the short term.
On the issue of control and the 15 per cent, I do not care what CP did. It does not matter to me whether there is 11 per cent or 10 per cent or 9 per cent. It does not matter. What I am suggesting here is that we have a quick and effective sale. The way to do that is to give Canadians the first opportunity. We know that the market is hot. The marketplace is hot right now. There are people willing to part with billions of dollars. There are investment funds, mutual funds, investors and dealers looking for places to place pension moneys. There is lots of money out there.
If there are individuals with an expertise in this area and they feel they could buy control and that 16 per cent would give them that control, let that sophisticated purchaser buy that 16 per cent, or whatever amount would be control.
By the very nature of how CP operates, nobody is going to buy 51 per cent. Nobody is going to buy that much. If they can figure out that by buying this amount they could get control, great. But let us give it first to Canadian corporations and give them an opportunity for a certain period of time and after that open it up. I will submit that at the end, if these suggestions were at least addressed and looked at, the sale would be quicker. The sale would come about. It would not be a bastardized deal like some of the other crown corporations we have tried to sell, where we only end up selling off half of it and not all of it. We end up in trouble and it lags there.
These are the things I am trying to recommend to the government. With respect, I tried to answer this as a businessman to a railroader who is also a businessman, businessman to businessman, to try to achieve a consensus. I still think we
should go after the Minister of Transport and get him to change his mind on a few of these issues.