Mr. Speaker, it is again my pleasure this morning to talk to Bill C-19, an act to implement the agreement on internal trade, and especially to Motion No. 3 that I moved to the House.
During the referendum in Quebec, we talked a lot about economic partnership with the rest of Canada, which was part of our main project. We think this agreement on internal trade is a step in the right direction that will allow to speed up somewhat the concluding of this partnership agreement between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
I will deal with the role of the minister of industry. He plays a very important role with regard to economic growth, productivity, competitiveness and employment. There are regulations, and this bill on the agreement on internal trade seems very positive to us as far as productivity, competitiveness and employment in Quebec and in Canada are concerned.
A lot of regulations these days seem to make trade between the provinces sometimes more difficult than trade with the United States, which is totally unacceptable. That is why we find this bill interesting.
Deregulation sometimes causes adjustment problems, and that it why, in our Motion No. 3, we are asking the government not to go too fast in deregulating in certain cases.
It could have a destabilizing effect on some very specific internal trade areas. Bankruptcies and job losses could result. Long term planning and a slightly longer time frame might help prevent this kind of problem, all these bankruptcies, job losses and so on.
Motion No. 3 deals specifically with transportation. The transportation industry is very important in Canada. Various goods are shipped. There is a high volume of activity and the level of business is very important. The industry ensures that our interrelated industries receive their supplies on time. It plays a major role in our economic development and in fostering enhanced productivity in our small and medium size businesses.
Motion No. 3 relates more specifically to bulk shipping by Quebec small businesses. I explained earlier to a government member how important this part of the regulations was. I met with officials of the bulk hauling association, which represents small family companies. By family company, I mean that the father owns a truck, which is used for very local transportation purposes within the rural community, to haul gravel, grain or what not, but only in Quebec and within a very short radius.
In Quebec, we already have regulations governing this kind of transportation. We are of course in favour of liberalizing the transportation industry in general, but this is a very specific activity, in Quebec in particular. In many cases, this activity supports an entire family and these people contracted loans of up to $100,000 or $125,000 to buy a truck. Those who just bought a truck are really worried at the thought that, in the future, a carrier could obtain a federal permit but not have to comply with Quebec's bulk transportation regulations.
This would mean that transport tariffs would not apply to them. There are several regulations, which I shall not list here, governing this sector of activity. And there are four main principles. As far as this very particular mode of transportation is concerned, Quebec does not issue a permit for the company, but for the truck. There is one permit per truck. This means that we are really talking about a one person one truck business. And the trucking activities must be carried out whithin a very short radius.
In bidding for contracts with municipalities or to build roads in the region, there is a floor price set for hauling this kind of stuff, but under the new arrangements, someone could hold a federal permit and not have to play by the same rules.
Essentially, what we are asking for is an exemption period. We are asking the minister to extend the time frame to two, three or even four years. Perhaps then more precise calculations could be made to help these very local small businesses adjust, so that they are at least not confronted with unfair competition because of other types permits being issued locally.
This, we think, is very important because these small family businesses run the risk of going bankrupt. This would cause some major economic disruptions in remote regions, villages and small towns. This plays a rather significant role with regard, for example, to the maintenance of these trucks, and people living off this small business are very concerned. The economic consequences could be disastrous.
All we are asking the minister through Motion No. 3 is basically this:
-to eliminate inconsistencies between the provisions of the Internal Trade Agreement and Quebec's laws and regulations respecting bulk trucking.
We want the law to recognize this type of business, which is very specific to Quebec. I think this would not hurt the liberalization of interprovincial transport in any way. This is directly linked to those
people who provide transport services on a very local basis. We feel that, in this respect, the motion is very important for this kind of business.
If the government does not understand how important it is, we are asking the minister to at least consider allowing for a transition period of two, three or four years before really enforcing the act, so that these small businesses can survive for a while.