House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-9.


Bill C-9. On the Order: Government Orders

October 2, 1997—the Minister of Transport—Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Transport of Bill C-9, an act for making the system of Canadian ports competitive, efficient and commercially oriented, providing for the establishing of port authorities and the divesting of certain harbours and ports, for the commercialization of the St. Lawrence seaway and ferry services and other matters related to maritime trade and transport and amending the Pilotage Act and amending and repealing other acts as a consequence.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario


David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport


That Bill C-9, an act for making the system of Canadian ports competitive, efficient and commercially oriented, providing for the establishing of port authorities and the divesting of certain harbours and ports, for the commercialization of the St. Lawrence seaway and ferry services and other matters related to maritime trade and transport and amending the Pilotage Act and amending and repealing other acts as a consequence, be referred forthwith to the Standing Committee on Transport.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to have the opportunity to speak to hon. members about the bill before the House, the Canada marine act. One of the government's central goals is to strengthen Canada's economy and create a climate that supports job creation and investment. Only with a solid economic foundation can we retain the standard of living and social benefits that we have come to expect as Canadians.

Fast, reliable, low cost transportation is critical to Canada's economy. We must have a transportation system that is safe, efficient, competitively priced and operated according to sound business practices.

We have been working since 1993 to modernize Canada's transportation network, by commercializing operations, reducing subsidies and modernizing the legislation.

In all modes, air, surface and maritime, we are working toward greater efficiency by increasing user input and improving community and regional economies.

Our goal is a national integrated transportation system for the new millennium, one that will help Canada meet the challenges of competing in a global marketplace. A modernized multimodal transportation network will help to create jobs and growth by supporting domestic and international trade and by promoting tourism.

Marine transportation is of vital importance to Canada's economic health and makes an enormous contribution to our international trade, tourism and jobs. The sector handles 40% of the freight we ship each year. That accounts for 200 million tonnes of our trade with other countries, which translates into more than $2.5 billion a year in revenue and more than 45,000 Canadian jobs.

Canada's marine sector has to adapt to the challenges of the next millennium. It must keep up with changing markets, competition and a changing commodity mix. Modernizing the marine sector will have a direct impact on jobs and growth. A stronger and more efficient marine transportation system will improve our international trade performance and that means more jobs for Canadians.

It was to accomplish this goal that the Department of Transport began a review of Canada's marine management and regulatory regime in 1994. The next year the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport undertook a study of the marine sector. The leadership of my now parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Hamilton West, was evident throughout the process. The report on the marine sector became known as the Keyes report.

There were many recommendations which flowed from this report to improve the marine system.

Following the report the department held regional meetings with shippers and industry to discuss the recommendations and then began a series of consultations with key players in the maritime sector. Together these activities helped to shape the government's national marine policy which was announced in December 1995.

The policy is designed to increase efficiency in the maritime sector, reduce costs and give communities more control over their ports. It will help to ensure that Canada's marine sector continues to support international trade. It will also help us to continue to meet our top priorities, safety, security and environmental protection.

The policy calls for the government to continue, as regulators, our commitment to safe marine transportation and a clean environment.

The centrepiece of all this is the bill before us, which the government has reintroduced as Bill C-9. It was originally tabled in the House in June 1996 but did not complete the parliamentary process when the House adjourned in April 1997, prior to third reading in the Senate, as the election intervened.

We have reintroduced the legislation as it was passed in this House last spring. Not a dot, a comma or a change has been made. If changes are to be made the committee will deal with them.

We consider this an important bill. That is why we have introduced it as is. It is important to the competitiveness of our marine sector.

I welcomed the co-operation I received from the other parties who have agreed with my judgment that this bill should be referred to committee as soon as possible so that detailed study can begin.

We know that industry supports this bill and wants to see the marine system improved.

The revised act will consolidate and simplify maritime regulations, reduce red tape, and speed up commercial decision-making. It will enable the ports to meet client needs more efficiently and to reduce the bureaucracy. Overall, it will make our maritime sector competitive.

The bill will meet seven broad objectives. First, it will promote and safeguard Canada's competitiveness and trade objectives. Second, it will base marine infrastructure and services on international practices and approaches consistent with those of our trading partners. Third, it will ensure that marine transportation services are organized to satisfy the needs of users and are available at a reasonable cost. Fourth, it will provide a high level of safety and environmental protection. Fifth, it will provide a higher degree of autonomy for the management of the marine transportation system. Sixth, it will manage the marine infrastructure according to good business practices. Seventh, it will provide for the transfer of certain ports and facilities.

There are four main components to this bill. I do not think time will permit me to get into detail on all of them. However, I would like to say a few words about one in particular which is of great interest to members of the House, the port system. The bill will deal with pilotage, on which I believe consensus was reached in the last Parliament. It will deal with the seaway and it will deal with the ports themselves.

The port system has to be modernized. There is no question about that.

We have to go into the new millennium with a structure for our ports which is comprehensive and adaptable to all the needs that will be thrust on them.

We need to step up the commercial discipline of the port system and to simplify the decision-making process.

The bill will help us to make public ports into commercial ventures, and to gradually phase out the Canadian Ports Corporation.

Ports deemed essential to domestic and international trade will form a national port system and will be managed by Canada port authorities made up of representatives of user groups and governments.

Any port can apply to become a port authority, CPA as we affectionately call it. To be accepted it has to meet four criteria. It has to be financially self-sufficient, it must have diversified traffic, it must have strategic significance to trade and a link to a major highway or railway line.

The CPAs will be set up as non-share capital corporations with board of directors made up of federal, provincial and municipal appointments and user representatives. CPAs will recover their costs from fees charged to customers and must comply with the relevant provisions of the Canada Business Corporations Act. They will not receive federal funding. The era of federal subsidies is over.

CPAs will be agents of the crown. Agent status will allow ports to pay for grants in lieu of taxes and will reinforce the ports' immunity from provincial taxation and regulation. Agent status will be limited to core port activities.

The directors of the CPAs will have to conform to codes of conduct and the government will set up a public accountability regime with new disclosure requirements. In addition, there will be annual financial audits and special examinations of the management operations and financial performance of CPAs every five years.

Port authorities will be accountable to their customers, local communities, the financial community and to the three levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal.

CPAs will have to seek financing from the private sector. The federal government will no longer be around to be responsible for their debts.

A second category of ports, regional and local ports, will be transferred to provincial and municipal governments, community organizations, private interests and in some cases other federal departments over the next six years. The process of divesting these ports is already well under way. To assist this the government has established a $125 million six year port divestiture fund to ease the transition.

The Government of Canada will continue to ensure operation of remote ports. Remote ports have been identified using criteria which reflect the communities degree of isolation. Reliance of marine and transportation is essential to their survival and we shall continue to support them.

This policy will be applied equitably and consistently across the country.

I want to pay particular attention to the sensitivities which some members have expressed to me in Atlantic Canada about the future of ports in that region. This is Canada's original maritime area. The sea, the ports and sea traffic are so vital to all those communities. In particular there appears to be a challenge in Prince Edward Island. This is a challenge I would hope the committee could examine in great detail.

Many of these concerns were expressed in the other place when Bill C-44 was before committee. In addition, many of my colleagues have approached me in the last few weeks with concerns.

I and my colleagues in cabinet will be sensitive to those concerns. We shall try to address all legitimate problems in a fair and equitable way to ensure this bill does truly reflect the national consensus.

Time does not permit me to talk about the other elements but other speakers on our side will talk about the rest of the bill and how important it is for quick passage by the House.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, the general thrust of Bill C-9 is compatible with Reform Party policy. Several of us voted in favour of its previous incarnation as Bill C-44. However that is not to say there is no room for improvement.

I had been looking forward to working with the minister and his department to address some of the concerns that have been expressed with respect to this legislation. I found them to be very forthcoming and helpful. It is regrettable that the co-operative atmosphere here has been so poisoned by the contemptuous, I might even say contemptible actions of his ministerial colleagues in the House a couple of days ago that it is going to be difficult.

During the summer I had the opportunity to discuss the legislation with many interested parties. Others have come to the Hill to express their views since Parliament reopened. During the Thanksgiving break I plan to go to Vancouver to consult with stakeholders there.

Up to now I have found remarkable consensus among shipping companies, stevedoring firms, unions, even shippers, both in general support for the legislation and in the identification of shortcomings. In the limited time available for me today I can only touch briefly on a few areas where we would like to see further work.

The clauses of the bill which define the capacity and power of port authorities are inconsistent with the stated objective of allowing them to operate according to business principles. They are neither fish nor fowl.

The port authorities will have the responsibility to operate with commercial discipline but they will be denied the tools to do so. They may not, for example, diversify by establishing new subsidiaries on port property. Their borrowing and investment powers will be rigorously constrained and they will be subject to the vagaries of ministerial discretion in the setting of the annual fee that they must pay to the federal government out of gross, not net, revenues.

Port authorities will have to be self-sufficient but the minister will be empowered to continue federal contributions to the seaway for capital works. This constitutes unfair competition for railways and deep water ports, courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer. Again, the legislation is inconsistent with the expressed objective of commercialization. It is the partial pregnancy syndrome that afflicts the government in so many of its endeavours.

The bill does not address the problem of excessive costs and featherbedding arising from pilotage monopolies. There is no incentive to cut pilotage costs by certifying the masters of Canadian vessels that ply the same inland waters back and forth on a routine basis or by the employment of available new technology.

The proposed boards of directors for port authorities are potential patronage havens as well as being a mechanism for continued political control. Government participation in entities which will be managing crown assets is normal and acceptable but if the government is serious about commercialization, indirect government control is not. Again, we are looking at partial pregnancy.

The size of the proposed boards, seven to eleven members, is far too large for most ports and the majority will be appointed by the minister, ostensibly in consultation with port users. Ah, patronage joy.

The Liberals should remember that governments come and governments go. They will not be forever in power. Do they really want to set up such a juicy system, not just for themselves now but for whomever comes behind them? Their mandatory provision for individual directors to be appointed by host municipalities and provinces is defensible and sensible. Each jurisdiction gets one.

It is unfortunate that there is no provision for labour representation on each board. This could readily be done by specifying that there be one on each board. It could be done without increasing the size of the board simply by reducing the number of ministerial appointments from these famous lists.

The elimination of ports police is problematical. I do not believe that was well thought out and it should be reconsidered. There is a lot more to port policing than guarding the security of cargo.

Sea ports, especially the larger ones like Vancouver, are wonderful funnels for contraband, for illegal entrance and they are targets for organized crime. When mobsters get the upper hand in a port they are extremely hard to dislodge.

Few municipalities have the resources to properly police a port. If the government is determined to do away with ports police it should seriously consider establishing a specialized branch within the RCMP.

Finally, there is no mechanism for the resolution of disputes with shippers. If the Canada Transportation Act can contain provisions with respect to railways, why can we not have something equivalent in Bill C-9 with respect to ports? Why should they be treated differently?

I cannot read the minister's mind. I do not know the intent of fast tracking this bill to committee. In theory, getting into committee early seems like a great idea, a chance for MPs to sit down and reason together away from the hurly-burly of the House and work together for the common good. It is a great theory but in practice in the last Parliament we Reformers learned the hard way that this is generally a policy for stifling any meaningful debate and ramming a bill through to the report stage according to ministerial specifications.

Therefore we do not support the procedure. We will vote against it. If subsequent events prove that our suspicions were unjustified I will personally apologize to the minister and nobody will be happier than I.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, as this is the first time I have spoken in the debate on the bill, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the voters of Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans for placing their trust in me once again in the June 2 election. They may rest assured that I will do my best to meet their expectations from me as their member of Parliament.

Right off, I would like to say that the Minister of Transport earlier presented a true picture of the procedures that led to this bill's return to the House of Commons.

He probably forget, however, as memory is fallible, or perhaps he omitted—a little more serious in this instance—to mention that the bill is back before the House because the members of the other House, the senators, blocked the bill before Parliament adjourned prior to the elections. This is more serious in a democracy.

There was a lot of input on the previous bill, Bill C-44. The former Minister of Transport, the member for Victoria, confirmed he had consulted Canadians across the country. The consultations took place in capitals, communities and among the people. We in the Bloc proposed a number of amendments to the bill. The initial consultation cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions.

So where does that leave us today? Unfortunately, because of unelected people appointed either by the ruling party or by the Conservative party, we must let unelected people interfere with democracy and completely set aside a piece of legislation that was the subject of extensive consultations. This is cause for concern. It has to be denounced because the members of this House have been democratically elected, they have been sent here by the people of their ridings. Is it normal and acceptable in this day and age to have unelected senators come and tell elected members what to do?

I will get to the substance of the bill in a moment. While all this is going on, the entire maritime industry in Canada and Quebec is suffering, and that is cause for concern. This puts an end to what I might call my preliminary remarks. I now come to the bill before us.

First of all, I want to reiterate the Bloc's position on this bill, for the benefit of the current transport minister. As for the principle of the bill, we in the Bloc Quebecois agree with it because, except for the dates, the vast majority of the provisions contained in the bill are identical to those in former Bill C-44.

In this respect, to avoid making the system even more cumbersome, it might have been possible, perhaps even advisable, to pass the bill quickly. At any rate, the minister can rest assured that, if the transport committee approves the few changes we are seeking, it will be possible to proceed quickly with this bill.

We will recall that the government had given Bill C-44, now Bill C-9 before us, the bombastic name of Canada Marine Act, which was undeserved, as we in the Bloc Quebecois pointed out, denouncing the fact that it did not contain—and still does not contain—anything about shipbuilding, shipyards and the merchant navy. That is a concern.

In 1994, when I was the transportation critic of the official opposition, the Bloc Quebecois, I suggested in committee a tax policy designed to promote shipbuilding in Canada and in Quebec, as is done in several other countries. Unfortunately, the legislation is silent as regards that proposal.

The bill before us essentially shows how miserably the federal maritime policy has failed in the past 20 years. The federal government just realized that its involvement over the years has resulted in costly and cumbersome bureaucratization as well as ineffective management. In this regard, I want to congratulate the government, and the current Minister of Transport and his predecessor, for accepting a proposal which the Bloc Quebecois had been pushing since 1994, namely to abolish Ports Canada.

Ports Canada was a fantastic tool for pork barrelling and patronage. I remember condemning that situation and putting questions to the former president of that body, who had engaged in lavish spending. He behaved as people did when money was not a problem in Canada. He spent tons of money for suites at the hotel located in the West Edmonton Mall. People slept in the so-called Truck Room. They slept in pick-up truck boxes equipped with jacuzzi baths for six to eight people, at a cost of $280 to $300 a night. Ports Canada people slept there.

The parliamentary secretary, who represents the riding of Hamilton West, is doing the right thing by supporting my comments. I am the one who told the House about these things, and I am pleased that the government has accepted the Bloc Quebecois' request to abolish Ports Canada.

Of course, we are happy to see that the government has also accepted the Bloc Quebecois' recommendation that compulsory pilotage be maintained in Canada. Once again, with all the modesty I can muster, the Bloc Quebecois was the only party to defend pilotage on a Canada wide scale.

The parliamentary secretary and member for Hamilton West will recall a report on the future of the St. Lawrence Seaway in which the Liberal majority even recommended allowing foreign captains to navigate in Canadian waters, which are dangerous waters—look at the St. Lawrence River—without a pilot on board.

It was crazy. I told the parliamentary secretary, “You are giving me arguments to use against you. You are giving me ammunition. Do not do it, it makes no sense”.

Unfortunately, this was the recommendation the government made in its majority report. Fortunately, today's bill includes pilotage and we in the Bloc Quebecois are happy to have, once again, the assurance that the environment will be protected by qualified maritime pilots such as those we have on the St. Lawrence, especially those on the Lower St. Lawrence, in Central Quebec and in the port of Montreal, as far as Quebec is concerned.

Since I have only one minute left and since, in any event, there will be another opportunity to speak of it, I now come to certain points with which we have problems, such as the divesting of ports with an envelope to undertake unproductive improvements. The former bill mentioned $125 million. We are still waiting to hear the amount. If the federal government stops running ports, it should hand over tools so that they can be improved and modernized, as it did with airports.

There is one last point that we disagree with completely. Since the government is no longer running ports, it should also give up its power to appoint the majority of representatives in local port authorities. On the one hand, the government is saying that it is leaving, but on the other it wants to hold onto control of port authorities.

In conclusion, we are looking forward to some good work in the transport committee with respect to this bill.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, my party opposes this bill as is for the following reasons.

Bill C-9 will create a patchwork of privately run ports with new mandates supposedly oriented to financial self-sufficiency. It seems less likely that these ports will form an integral part of a coherent national strategy for meeting our transportation and regional development needs. Instead we will have a set of local activities which are not linked to a national vision or plan. The danger arising from the withdrawal of a federal presence in the port system is that we will be handicapped in relation to our principal competitor the United States.

The U.S. government has a transportation policy based on the national interest. It has developed mechanisms to support and fund national transportation infrastructure. The trust fund mechanism is used to fund airports, highways, inland waterways and harbour maintenance. For example in the U.S., dredging of harbours is done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is financed by the harbour maintenance fund.

Under the proposed legislation we are considering today, Canadian ports that need dredging will have to pay for it themselves. This is estimated to cost a port like Saint John between $1 million to $1.5 million a year. This imbalance in funding and resources in the absence of a commitment from the national government will undoubtedly hurt Canada's position in competing for the lucrative business of international container cargo and freight.

The proposed privatization will ultimately have negative implications for many of the people presently working in the port system and the maritime industry generally. Despite assurances from the government about job security, it seems likely that as a new profit driven management approach is broadened jobs will be lost among the longshoreman and administrative workers who presently work within the Canada Ports Corporation. There is evidence from numerous other sectors that short term financial considerations will inevitably prevail over the preservation of jobs and the maintenance of fair working conditions.

As productivity and throughput considerations become more dominant, who will look out for the welfare of the staff who remain in the service of the ports organization? Cuts to workforce inevitably put additional pressures on the remaining staff. The added stress this creates is often reflected in increasing numbers of industrial accidents. These sorts of conditions are rarely reflected in this sort of legislation.

Can the government assure us that there will be a fair and representative cross-section of the different interests who have a stake in the Canadian port system? Will the federal government be able to protect the national interest in the future?

In many cases the most important users of the port facilities, those with a real stake in its performance and fees are the farmers from the prairie provinces. Under the new arrangements they will also be granted only one voice on the board. We believe that the board must be more than just an expression of the interests of the local business community. There is no guarantee under the proposed legislation that this will be the case.

Furthermore will there be a representative of labour on the new board of directors? As a vital player in the activity of ports, surely there is a case for union representation on the decision making structure that will oversee the agencies.

Even more appalling to this scenario especially in light of the statement by the Minister of Industry that if you did not vote Liberal do not expect to be treated fairly, and the Prime Minister's obvious approval of this prostituting of their favours for votes, two or maybe three members of the board will be appointed, not elected, and the remaining four to eight members will be appointed directly or indirectly by the minister.

The former transport minister made the rather arrogant statement that you do not have to be Sherlock Holmes to check surveillance monitors and ensure doors are locked in reference to work done by port police. Although that may be one aspect of the work done, it is still done in a dangerous environment where without question criminal activity, drug, people and weapons smuggling is a major factor.

I think it is irresponsible to suggest that lower cost security guards should have their lives devalued and put at risk. The proposal to remove the Canada ports police from the newly created entity seems an unwise step. Private security firms are not peace officers and do not have the same range of powers enjoyed by the police.

It is likely that drug smuggling, already a significant problem, will increase as a result of this legislation. Neal Jessop, president of the Canadian Police Association in March 1997 was quoted as saying that abolishing Canada's ports police will open the floodgates to the smuggling of drugs, guns and other contraband by organized crime. What passes through the ports will end up on the streets of our towns and cities from coast to coast to coast.

Let us look at the case of Vancouver, for example. The Minister of Transport at the time said that Canada Ports Corporation will provide $1 million to B.C. to cover the cost of one year of a 10-person Vancouver city police unit to patrol the port 24 hours a day. When the $1 million for Vancouver policing runs out it will be up to the city and the port to determine who should pay for more.

Ian Whittington a port police officer and president of the Port Police Association for the Pacific region stated that the level of policing within Canada's largest and most major port will digress drastically. Of course Vancouver will not be the only port affected. St. John's, Newfoundland and Saint John, New Brunswick, Halifax, Quebec City and Montreal, every part of the country is going to be affected.

We need to have commitments that will ensure that all Canadians are safe. The privatization of the ports fits into a pattern of the gradual withdrawal of the federal government from a host of activities and functions vital to the well-being of coastal communities. Cutbacks to the coast guard search and rescue capacity and the demanning and automation of lighthouses form the backdrop to the privatization of the ports.

There are estimated to be approximately 500 public ports and harbours in Canada. It seems safe to assume that communities with ports smaller than those of Vancouver, Halifax and Montreal are likely to feel the brunt of this legislation. Why is the Liberal government turning its back on the legitimate needs of the smaller coastal communities?

When the existing employees of the ports and the St. Lawrence seaway are transferred to the new authorities, there is no provision in the act for the continuation of superannuation benefits for existing employees within the new regimes, as was the case with the air traffic controllers when they were transferred to the not for profit corporation Nav Canada.

It might seem somewhat paranoid to suggest that these types of things are going to happen. However, I happened to be in Churchill, Manitoba the day after the signing for the turnover of the port to the new owner. The prime example of the pilotage situation came into question as a contract had not been signed with the pilot who was then going to be working and bringing in the tugs. Because the contract was not signed and the pilot was thinking about not taking in the tugs, it was suggested that an American pilot might be able to bring the tug in instead. Thank heavens for wiser heads prevailing and immigration seeing fit to make sure that would not happen. It certainly leads us to agree with the Bloc member that piloting was a major question.

The bill fails to provide for the capital financing that would be required to construct new port facilities at some future date. The submission of the Halifax Port Development Commission is highly instructive on this point and worth quoting at length:

The funding needed for construction of major port facilities can only be arranged in part, if at all, in the private sector. No private sector lender or investor can advance the bulk of such funding against user commitments which may or may not materialize when the facilities are completed, and if they do then materialize, may or may not continue until the funding has been repaid. Under such a scenario, funding can only come from governments which have the necessary financial resources and can justify, in the interests of promoting the economy of their constituents, the assumption of the attendant commercial risk. Had Bill C-9 been in effect in the late 1960s, Halifax would never have been able to build and equip even one container berth, and the harbour would long ago have fallen into disuse.

Should these ports be privatized? Will they be required to disclose their capital expenditure plans for local community input and review? The kind of secrecy that normally shrouds the investment activities of private companies must not be allowed to prevail within the ports where a range of public groups have a vital stake in the financial posture of their ports. Why has the government not chosen to make mandated public disclosure of all financial plans a precondition for the transfer of the ports to the private sector?

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill C-9. I have a great deal of respect for the hon. member in the Liberal Party who chaired the committee and brought the committee meeting to Saint John, New Brunswick. I really appreciated that our people had the opportunity to have their say.

This bill was debated as Bill C-44 in the House during the 35th Parliament. It later died in the Senate. When this bill was debated earlier in the House I had a specific concern with respect to the section that deals with the policing of our ports. Nothing has changed with the reintroduction of this bill. The section is still there. But there is a question that I have for the minister.

This government's intention contained in clause 108 of Bill C-9 is to disband the Ports Canada Police across Canada. It will have a major negative impact on all Canadian citizens and port users. With the elimination of the Canada Ports Corporation the requirement for local port authorities to maintain and pay for the detachment of Ports Canada Police will disappear. How could this government allow the Vancouver port police to be disbanded when we are still debating the bill that allows for that disbandment? I cannot imagine this has taken place. What happened to democracy? Where did it go?

I have a copy of a letter that was sent on October 2 to all port police in Halifax port. The letter said in effect “Here is your pink slip, this is it, by the end of the year you are gone”. Those men, like the men in Saint John, have worked for 24 years. And those who have become superintendents in just the last few years are getting a larger severance package than the men who have been there for 24 years. The minister has to step in and take a look.

The Saint John Ports Canada Police service will be disbanded as will be the case for all other port detachments if this bill passes. Not only will well qualified and experienced port police officers lose their jobs, but port and community protection will be lost as well.

The policing of Canada's major commercial ports started in the early 1800s at the port of Quebec with the operation of private police forces.

In the late 1960s most major ports had a security force, but the security force was unable to cope with the policing requirements of the national ports. Smuggling, theft, drug offences, assault and traffic violations were the order of the day. The serious escalation of crime in the major commercial ports was very detrimental to Canada's international trade reputation and raised public concerns for the safety and security of the ports and of the communities.

In 1967 the Cassidy report traced the problem of our ports to the neglect of port policing by port management. That report revealed the deplorable criminal conditions which existed in the national port systems across Canada. This of course included my own city, Saint John.

The National Harbours Board adopted the Cassidy report in 1968. It reorganized its locally managed and autonomous police and security forces into a national force. Professional police officers were hired to command the force at the head office in Ottawa and at the port police detachments. The National Harbours Board brought the ports policing up to professional standards through recruitment, training and supervision. They had to take and pass eight courses, and members became legally sworn police officers.

The decision to reorganize the national police force in 1968 was taken only after study of all other viable options, which were an RCMP takeover, a provincial police takeover and a municipal police takeover. Allowing a locally controlled security force was not even considered, but it is considered by this government today. It is considered that the municipality's police force can take over, yet that report said it would not work. It also said the RCMP could not do it.

With a national ports police force we were safe, but the citizens and port users witnessed a complete turnaround as the ports gradually gained a reputation of low cost and low loss with the change to a security system.

In 1997 the Liberal government declared Canada's ports police redundant. The minister announced that it would be disbanded, yet we are debating it today.

The minister made this decision before Bill C-44 was passed. After it died on the order paper the Minister of Transport of the day still went ahead with the disbandment. Here we are debating it today. I have to ask how the government can eliminate the ports police before the bill becomes law. I have never heard tell of that before. I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, have not either.

The minister is saying “I do not care about democracy. I do not care about the parliamentary system. I do not care about debate. I am going to disband it. I am going to move”. I find that incredible.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

A lone voice.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

I do not know whether I am a lone voice in the wilderness, but I know that I have every port policeman behind me all the way.

With Bill C-9 an attempt is being made to download port policing responsibilities on to the municipal taxpayer. We saw what happened in Vancouver. The municipal police force in Vancouver took it over. It got a $1 million cheque from the government. I do not know how that happened when it has not been agreed to. The local police in Vancouver took it over but found that there were so many problems it could not possibly do it without adding 10 more local police officers.

The government has cut transfer payments to the provinces and the local police departments have been cut. In Saint John 30 police officers have been cut already. There is no way they can afford to take on the ports without more officers and without training.

There should be a marine act and there should be a marine unit in all local police departments. If the bill is passed the boys who are leaving the port police should be hired by local police departments. We should also be making sure they are being funded to allow that to happen.

There have been other examples of major North American ports abolishing dedicated port policing and all have reverted to a dedicated port police.

In Toronto, port policing was absorbed by the municipal force. Experience proved that port policing required a dedicated service and a specialized marine unit. This had to be created and had to be paid for by someone, but they did not have the dollars.

At the port of Boston, dedicated policing services were withdrawn in favour of relying on city resources. Without a dedicated and fully empowered police agency to target violations of environmental laws, the pollution in the Boston harbour increased tenfold and within six months they had to put back the port police.

The same thing happened in the port of Miami. This is happening everywhere. They try it but it does not work.

The Ports Canada police currently appears to be our first line of defence and its demise would be rejoiced by those elements sitting out there with criminal control of port operations and access.

It is very evident from the report that a dedicated port police function should remain. I feel a sense of déjà vu today for we have been down this road before and the amendments to change the port policing aspect of the bill were defeated.

I urge all members of the House and indeed members of the committee on transport to listen to the witnesses that will come before them. We must not allow Canada to become the country of choice by criminals.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Hamilton West Ontario


Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, on a question of information, I suppose the clock will run out prior to the conclusion of my remarks. I would like to continue and conclude after question period.

In the one minute I was given on the first day of the 36th Parliament I called on the provincial government of Ontario to call an independent inquiry into the so-called Plastimet fire in the north end of my constituency. It has still to respond.

Today I have a little more time so I will first take the opportunity to thank the constituents of my home town, Hamilton West, for their overwhelming support, re-electing me to a third consecutive mandate with 50% of the vote. I promise to continue to be a strong voice for my home town and to remind myself it is a privilege to serve in the highest court in the land, the House of Commons.

On to the business of today, quite frankly I have lost count of the number of times I have had the privilege on many occasions both here in the House of Commons and across the country to speak to a bill that will prepare Canada's marine transportation system to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Formerly it was Bill C-44 and now it is Bill C-9, the Canada Marine Act. Regrettably it was not approved prior to the dissolution of parliament last April. The government has reintroduced the legislation in exactly the same form. It is vitally important to Canada's transportation system. We heard from industry that it wants to see the bill adopted.

During the summer months the minister and I met all key stakeholders, including shippers, ship owners, port managers and pilotage interests. We have consistently heard the marine sector industry. It wants to see the bill adopted immediately, as soon as possible.

The government's overall goal is to strengthen Canada's economy and create a climate that supports job creation and investment. To support that goal the government took steps to modernize Canada's transportation system, commercializing transportation operations, cutting wasteful subsidies and overhauling legislation.

In all modes of transportation, air, surface and marine, we have made great progress in moving toward greater efficiency, greater say for those who use the system, and more local and regional autonomy. Much has been accomplished at Transport Canada by the government and by three successive ministers of transport, but more remains to be done.

Bill C-9 will make it easier for ports to operate according to business principles and will ensure those most affected by port related decisions are involved in making them. It will consolidate and streamline marine regulations, cut red tape, allow for faster business decisions and help our marine sector become more competitive.

Let us have a look at the history. For the benefit of those members who were not with us in the last parliament and to refresh the memories of those who were, I would like to take a few minutes in the short time I have left before question period to review the history of the bill and the development of the government marine policy.

In 1995 the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, called SCOT for short, undertook a study of the marine sector and made a number of recommendations to improve the marine system, many of which were later incorporated into Bill C-44.

Following the SCOT report, Transport Canada held regional meetings with shippers and industry to discuss the recommendations. Based on the consultations the government adopted the national marine policy in December 1995.

I remind members opposite how much work has gone into the bill in close to three years. We had the SCOT report. We did a study across the country. We developed a marine policy. We went across the country. We developed the Canada Marine Act. We went across the country. We spent many months in committee with literally hundreds of witnesses and we developed a consensus.

There was give and take across the land by ports, harbour commissions, pilotage authorities, ferry services, and a consensus was reached. Because there was give and take, because there was an air of co-operation among all stakeholders, users and industry in the system, we were able to come up with the Canada Marine Act.

They came to us as early as this summer and told us not to come back to their communities with more bright ideas about how to modernize the marine sector. They have heard it all. They want us to get on with the job.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

You will have five minutes remaining after question period.

As it is almost 11 o'clock and we seem very eager to get at it, we will now have Statements by Members.

National Menopause Awareness MonthStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that October is National Menopause Awareness Month.

Menopause is a major health concern of Canadian women. By the year 2000 approximately four million women will be entering or will already have experienced menopause. There is a need to build greater awareness through the dissemination of information on the effects of menopause.

Menopause can act as a trigger to accelerate the risk of certain diseases such as osteoporosis, which affects one in four women because of estrogen depletion.

The Liberal government has made a commitment to women's health through the establishment of five centres of excellence for women's health. These centres are mandated to conduct research and provide information to the public on key health issues affecting women.

Through the initiative of these centres and the work of other national organizations such as the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, greater awareness on menopause will make our health—

National Menopause Awareness MonthStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River.

Ukrainian CanadiansStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Inky Mark Reform Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, the richness of Ukrainian culture displayed annually at Canada's National Ukrainian Festival in my riding of Dauphin—Swan River stands in sharp contrast to the injustice done to thousands of Ukrainian Canadians during Canada's national internment operations of 1914 to 1920.

When war broke out these hard working men, women and children were categorized as enemy aliens, imprisoned, their property confiscated, and their basic rights and freedoms removed. Five thousand Ukrainians were interned in 24 concentration camps across Canada.

From the 1980s Ukrainian Canadians sought acknowledgement from the Government of Canada of a wrong and restitution of the wealth confiscated from internees that still remains in federal coffers.

Despite efforts in 1991 by the member for Kingston and the Islands the situation remains unchanged. I ask hon. members to join me in bringing justice and closure to this regrettable event in our nation's history.

ImmigrationStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Susan Whelan Liberal Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, over 15 million people cross the Windsor-Detroit border each year. Imagine the chaos if all those people were required to file a U.S. immigration form each time they crossed the border. That is what section 110 of the 1996 illegal immigration act would do if Canadians are not exempted.

Last month while at the annual Canada-U.S. Parliamentary Association meeting I raised this issue with U.S. representatives and senators and I was assured this law would be amended.

Yesterday the Canadian ambassador to the United States met with U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham, chair of the U.S. Senate immigration subcommittee, and agreed to form an alliance to defeat these proposed new border controls.

I commend both the Government of Canada and the senator for this important initiative. U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham is holding immigration committee hearings on the effects of the U.S. act. I encourage all affected Canadians to fax a written submission to the senator's office at (248) 350-0420 or deliver them to my office so I can submit them to the U.S. committee.

National Family WeekStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, National Family Week is an opportunity to consider the fundamental importance of families and our relationships with those near and dear to us.

Once again this year, I have organized a drawing contest for grade 4 and 5 pupils in the riding of Ahuntsic. They are being asked to illustrate how they see the family. The three finalists will have their drawings reproduced in the annual calendar I send out to every household in the riding.>

As members of Parliament we have a responsibility to show our young people, the future leaders of this country, the importance of promoting the family's well-being. This government demonstrated its commitment to families through several initiatives, including the establishment of children's centres of excellence and an increase in its contribution to the Canada child tax benefit.

Our families help us to realize our potential by providing us with the strongest support possible to deal with life's challenges. This week and throughout the year let us celebrate our families.

National Co-Operative WeekStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the week of October 12 to 18 will be National Co-operative Week, with the theme “co-operation more than ever”.

This is a particularly appropriate one under the circumstances, since it emphasizes how modern the co-operative formula still is. It also reminds us of how long co-operatives have been with us.

Soon the Mouvement Desjardins, founded in Lévis in 1900, will soon be marking its 100th anniversary. This year has also marked the 75th anniversary of the Coopérative fédérée de Québec.

The week will also honour the work of the thousands of unpaid board members in the co-operative movement, who have been instrumental in the growth of the movement in our communities.

Quebeckers are particularly proud of the co-operative movement, for Quebec has more co-op members per capita than any other place in the world.

May I wish everyone a happy Co-operative Week.

Pay EquityStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are tens of thousands of public servants affected by pay equity. Many of these are my constituents who call my office continuously asking when they will receive their benefits.

While the matter is now before the human rights tribunal, I believe a negotiated resolution is in the best interests of everyone involved.

I call on our government to continue its work toward a resolution. The recent $1.3 billion offer is an indication of Treasury Board's good intentions to make payments to affected public servants.

I call equally on union president Daryl Bean and his executive to put aside political differences and work with Treasury Board. In the best interests of public servants, the union and Treasury Board should declare their commitment publicly to a negotiated settlement.

My constituents are demanding action. I encourage them, commend them and support them.

Red River FloodingStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Jake Hoeppner Reform Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, Manitoba residents faced a terrible period of destruction and loss last spring with the catastrophic Red River flood. Now months later with winter approaching many residents are still trying to rebuild their lives.

Instead of receiving flood relief as promised by the federal and provincial governments, they find themselves caught in the middle while these two governments argue over who is liable to bear the costs.

I received a letter from an Ontario resident who sympathizes with those affected by the flood and with the struggle for compensation they now face.

She suggests Liberal members of the House should move into trailers in Ottawa to get an understanding of what Manitobans are going through.

Last spring the prime minister went to Manitoba to show how he could throw a bag of sand. When is the government going to honour its commitments and start throwing some real help to Manitoba flood victims?

Land MinesStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, October 10, 1997 marks a special day for a campaign fought by a collective of over 1,000 agencies over the past several years. This group presided by Jody Williams has sought to put an end to the manufacture and use of land mines.

The Nobel Peace Price represents one of the sweetest victories for Canadian diplomacy and for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who has worked long and hard for this cause.

We have won a battle in the fight for the ban on the manufacture and use of this weapon of the weak. However, the fight continues until we can convince the great powers such as the United States, China and Russia to join Canada this December here in Ottawa to ratify the treaty.

The Late Gilles BouletStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday night, Gilles Boulet passed away. He was one of the bulwarks of Quebec's education system. We will remember him as a man who had a major impact on the people of Quebec.

In 1960, Mr. Boulet founded the Centre des études de Trois-Rivières, which became the Université du Québec in 1978. He supported the extension of university training to the regions by encouraging the establishment of the Université du Québec in Hull and in Abitibi—Témiscamingue. He also oversaw the fortunes of the Université du Québec for a decade.

Known both at home and abroad, he was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 1985 and received the Légion d'honneur in 1988. He became an officer of the Ordre national du Québec in

On behalf of myself and the Bloc Quebecois, I extend my sincere sympathies to the family of Mr. Boulet and express our gratitude for his great gift to Quebec society.

Land MinesStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are pleased that the Nobel peace prize has been given to those working to ban land mines worldwide.

We hope this award will encourage the United States to join the over 100 countries planning to come to Canada in December to sign the Ottawa agreement.

We especially want to congratulate our Minister of Foreign Affairs for his leadership in achieving this international ban.

ViolenceStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness and heartfelt regret that I rise today to offer sincere condolences to the Holtam and McKelvey families and their friends. They have suffered a great loss in the senseless murders of Leonora Holtam and her 6-year old daughter Jenny.

This tragedy occurred five minutes from my own home in Mission, British Columbia. We soberly consider our own families in the precious gift of life and mourn the tragic loss of the Holtams.

As members of this House I believe we can stand united against such violent and tragic acts which so horribly affect so many.

I respectfully limit my words today to use the rest of my time to pray for young Cody Holtam who is fighting for his life and for the families and friends of the victims whose lives will be forever changed by this tragedy.

Youth EmploymentStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government's job strategy is working for Canada's youth.

We have just had the longest run of monthly job growth since 1994 and Canada's young people are feeling the improvement; 63,000 new jobs for youth since May, the best four month performance of the 1990s. The youth unemployment rate is down from 17.2% in May to 16.4%.

There is still a lot of work to do. We are committed to work with other governments, the private sector, communities and young people to equip them for the future.

In anticipation of national co-op week and international credit union day—

Youth EmploymentStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Churchill River.

North American Indigenous GamesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Rick Laliberte NDP Churchill River, SK

I rise today to give tribute and acknowledgement to the 8,000 young participants in the North American indigenous games that were hosted in Victoria, British Columbia this past summer. The impact of experiencing and sharing the involvement of fellow athletic and cultural participants from all over North America is a profound accomplishment.

Congratulations to the organizers and the people of British Columbia for making this event another success. It is our hope that these games will be a base for indigenous peoples' participation in the world's Olympics.

I would also like to recognize the four time champions of these events, Team Saskatchewan. Canada should be proud of its aboriginal peoples.