Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the debate on Bill C-43, on railway safety.
First, the closure of the rail maintenance shop in Charny, the Joffre shop, was recently announced. A look into the matter because of the closure reveals that, by region, track defects are between 3 and 10 times higher in Quebec then elsewhere in the country. This why rail safety is of particular concern to me.
In the case of Charny, the first thing is the loss of 93 jobs, which is very important. But the Joffre shop also used subcontractors. There were 150 firms in the Quebec City region working with the Joffre shop with a total payroll or the equivalent of the payroll of these 93 employees plus materials. In all, this decision means $5 million less in economic benefits for the Quebec City region.
What is the decision exactly? There were three shops of the same type in Canada maintaining tracks. There was one at Charny for all of eastern Canada, one in Winnipeg and the other in British Columbia. The CN decided to concentrate things in Winnipeg. Last year, we in the Bloc did not oppose the bill to privatize the CN, because it was time decisions were made as much as possible from a business standpoint.
The principle is a good one. However, in practical terms- I will start with the president, Mr. Tellier, who comes from a political background, and who, after doing some dirty work, if I may use the expression, in terms of cuts when the CN was a crown corporation, contributed to the deterioration of rail lines particularly in Quebec. There were other decisions at CN such as the decision to transfer the pay service to Winnipeg, although head office remained in Montreal. This is a bit odd.
As far as orders and so on are concerned, that section is in Toronto. In the case of other services, part of the head office was moved to eastern Canada. CN's head office is an increasingly empty shell. It is not yet empty, but increasingly so. This leads me to point out that, as far as the tracks are concerned-and I say this on my own, it is not the official stand of the Bloc-I would say there is a deliberate plan to try to deprive Quebec of its primary rail resources. The Joffre shop in Charny is one example.
Somewhat paradoxically, last year, just before the referendum, this shop, also called La Rotonde, was designated a historical site by the Minister of Canadian Heritage.