House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ports.



10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, I am now ready to render a decision on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton on December 4 concerning the draw for Private Members' Business.

On December 4 the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton rose on a question of privilege regarding a random draw to establish an order of precedence for additional items on Private Members' Business. While ruling that the matter did not constitute a question of privilege, I undertook to return to the House after having examined the situation about which the hon. member complained.

Notice of the draw was given on Wednesday, in accordance with Standing Order 87(2), and the draw is scheduled to be held today at 1.15 p.m. The member pointed out that a draw had recently been held on Tuesday, November 25, 1997, when 14 names were drawn.

The subcommittee on private members' business is planning to meet next week to begin the process of deciding which of the members whose names were drawn on November 25 have items which should be selected as votable.

The hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton pointed out that there were already only two openings for additional votable items, one bill and one motion. By holding another draw at this time the subcommittee might be faced with having even more items from which to choose, namely nine bills instead of six. This, the member suggests, would put him at a disadvantage. In effect, he would have to compete against a slightly larger field of candidates for what was already a very small number of openings.

The member's concern is not at all unreasonable. At first blush it does appear that he might be disadvantaged by having to compete against three additional candidates for the single opening for another votable bill. However, if we look at the process in more detail, the Chair is of the opinion that the member will not really suffer any prejudice.

First, we should note that unlike the draw itself, which is entirely random, the selection of votable items is based on the merits of the bills or motions put forward by members. Indeed Standing Order 92(1) specifically states:

In making its selection, the Committee—shall allow the merits of the items alone to determine the selection—.

The merits of the member's bill are not directly affected by the number of bills being considered by the subcommittee.

It is nonetheless true that the subcommittee is, on occasion, unable to choose as many votable items as it might like because the votable items selected after a previous draw remain in the order of precedence on the order paper.

As some of you may recall, the subcommittee in the previous Parliament was put in the unenviable position of not having openings for additional votable items following a draw. Unfortunately, votable items chosen at the same time all tend to remain on the order paper for approximately the same length of time, after which several openings may be created within a short period of time when they are put to a vote.

This is because all votable items may be debated for up to three hours. How many openings for votable items exist at the time the subcommittee meets to select additional votable items is something over which none of us have any control.

Members should remember that although draws are usually held when there are only 15 or 16 items remaining in the order of precedence, the standing orders do not stipulate that a draw cannot be held sooner. Standing Order 87(2) provides that:

The Clerk of the House, acting on behalf of the Speaker, shall, when necessary during a Session, conduct a random draw to establish an order of precedence for not more than fifteen additional items of Private Members' Business—

It is thus possible to conduct a draw even though there are more than 15 items in the order of precedence, provided it is considered necessary to do so.

The principal reason for not holding draws more frequently than we normally do is in order to limit the number of meetings of the subcommittee on private members' business.

The order of precedence used to contain 20 items, but in the 34th Parliament this was increased to 30, the present number, precisely because the subcommittee at that time wanted it so.

The Chair would point out that the subcommittee is by no means obliged to consider any new items placed in the order of precedence following today's draw. The subcommittee may confine its selection to the items added after the November 25th draw. Furthermore, members whose names are drawn later today will have until the end of the day Tuesday to designate which of their bills or motions are to be added to the order of precedence, and the subcommittee has 10 sitting days following the draw before it must begin the process of selecting votable items.

Moreover, and there is no way to predict this, some members whose names are drawn may not wish to be considered by the subcommittee. They may prefer that their bills or motions not be designated votable.

The Chair would also draw members' attention to the fact that the subcommittee may select an item as votable at any time before it is taken up by the House. Thus, if an item is not selected as votable by the subcommittee next week, it may still be selected in February. There may be more openings for votable items at that time.

Finally, the member suggested that since this draw is being held to remedy a problem arising from the accidental exclusion from the previous draw of a member with a motion, then the proper course would have been to conduct a draw for motions only. However, that would have meant that the number of bills in the order of precedence would decrease faster than the number of motions, causing more bills to be drawn next time.

Since Standing Order 87(1)(b) stipulates:

—the draw shall be conducted so that there shall be in the order of precedence an equal number of motions and bills originating in the House of Commons—

The Chair is of the opinion that any draw should be held for both bills and motions.

I thank the hon. member for bringing this matter to the attention of the House. This may seem to some like a lot of quibbling over numbers and technical details, but it reminds us all that in attempting to remedy a wrong done to one member, we must not cause harm to another.

After considering the situation thoroughly, I am of the opinion that the draw will not adversely affect the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton but will allow another member to have the opportunity to participate.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario


David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

moved 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 read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to be able to speak to members about Bill C-9 for this third reading debate. Before I talk about the bill I want to take a moment to acknowledge the critical role that has been played by members of the House, in particular those members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, for their work on this bill, the very thoughtful improvements they have made which I think have illustrated very constructively the role that the committee system plays in our legislative process.

I also want to thank the critics for the other parties, the members for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, Cumberland—Colchester, and Churchill because they have all worked in a very collegial fashion. They have brought forward very sensible recommendations. Some of them we have accepted, some for various reasons we have not accepted. In any event, it has been a very collegial process which I think is a testament to the way Parliament should work.

All members have displayed a great diligence in working to prepare what I consider to be a quality piece of legislation which will ensure the best marine transportation system for all Canadians.

There was also a great contribution made by the transportation community across the country. They stayed with us throughout the length of the process. They really were in for the long haul.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, this bill has been in the works for many years, in fact about three years, and we have seen it debated twice in this House. It has been shepherded through that time not just within the House but within industry by one individual who I want to pay a particular word of respect to today. That is my parliament secretary, the member for Hamilton West, who has worked diligently, was a member of the committee, the chairman of the standing committee on transport and who came forward with the recommendations. He was able to convince my predecessor that this was the route to go. He has stayed with this process and is now working very effectively as parliamentary secretary. All members of the House owe him a great vote of thanks, as I do as minister.

I hope some people will acknowledge that in the House. It is Friday, Mr. Speaker. I know it is early.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


David Collenette Liberal Don Valley East, ON

The transportation community did show us where the cloth could be cut to make a better result for all. We owe them much gratitude for all their help with the bill.

Shortly after I became minister I did meet with port managers, the seaway and port users, ship owners and with pilotage interests. The message from all of these parties was the same. They wanted us to bring back the Canada Marine Act and to proceed as quickly possible to bring it through parliament. Although no one stakeholder got everything they wanted from the bill, they all agreed the comprises made represented a good balance of interests and that it is time to get on with implementing the improvements envisioned in the national marine policy.

We all know that marine transportation is vitally important to Canada's economic health. It makes an enormous contribution to our international trade, tourism and jobs. One of our government's central goals has been to strengthen Canada's economy and create a climate that supports job creation and investment.

To meet the objective in the marine transportation area, that is to make sure our marine system is efficient, competitive and operated according sound business practices, in this bill we are making important changes to Canada's port and seaway transportation institutions. By providing new governance and organizational arrangements through the bill, we will be able to bring decisions closer to the users who, when all is said and done, are the ones who must pay for marine facilities and services. In this way we forge stronger links to the communities that are served by and linked to our marine system.

As I said a moment ago, the journey to this point has been a long one, some would say an arduous one. In 1994 at the request of my predecessor, Transport Canada began a review of the management system for the marine industry and the regulatory regime. The following year the standing committee undertook the study of the marine sector under the leadership of the member for Hamilton West. A number of important recommendations emerged. Following the report, Transport Canada held regional meetings with shippers and industry and consulted with other key players in the marine sector. The result was the national marine policy that was adopted by the government in December 1995.

The policy is designed to bring a greater commercial discipline to the marine sector and to increase efficiency, to cut costs and to give communities more control over their ports. Also, it will allow the government to focus on its top priorities, safety, security and sustainability.

The purpose of the Canada Marine Act is to implement the national marine policy. This act was first introduced in June 1996, and it clearly reflects the objectives of that policy in many ways.

It defines the role of the federal government in relation to marine transportation. It establishes a fair collaborative framework for the management of commercial ports. It provides for the transfer of local and regional facilities to interested parties. It eliminates useless costs in the operation of ports, the seaway and the pilotage authorities.

New discussions were held with all stakeholders, and the Standing Committee on Transportation held hearings across the country when it conducted its review.

Based on the full range of observations gathered from interested parties during its review, the Standing Committee on Transportation proposed about one hundred changes, most of which were incorporated in the present bill. Also included are the amendments made by the House of Commons during its review of the former bill at the report stage.

As you know, Parliament was dissolved on April 27, 1997, before third reading of the bill in the Senate.

So we reintroduced the bill. When I talked with my critics about a quick passage through the House they were quite concerned that we bring the bill back as passed last spring in the House. We did that. I know that created a bit of controversy because there was some unfinished business that we have tried to tidy up in this round in the House.

We knew the marine system needed modernization. We knew that industry indicated this great support for the bill. So we were quite confident that with some flexibility and with some debate we could come to this stage of third reading reasonably quickly.

I would like to make mention here of a few key amendments that we have made during the consideration of the bill in this session. The first is the inclusion of Hamilton and North Fraser in the list of initial port authorities. I talked about that on Wednesday of this week when we did the report stage deliberations. Part of the problem there was there was unfinished business between the city of Hamilton and the harbour commissioners, unresolved issues that now look like there on the way to resolution. Therefore it only made sense to bring the harbour commission in Hamilton into the fold and designate it as a CPA in this bill.

Similarly for North Fraser we thought about combining the two harbour commissions there into one port authority but there did not seem to be a consensus on that. Perhaps down the road under the new system there may be a move toward one port authority but for now we have included North Fraser as part of the schedule of those installations that should be designated as a CPA.

We also brought in an amendment to change board member qualifications for appointments by the three levels of government allowing for a wider breadth of experience in board composition.

On the issue of pilotage the legislation changes the completion date for a statutory review of pilotage issues to one year after the coming into force of the pilotage provisions.

A key feature of the bill which I cannot underscore too broadly is the creation of the Canada port authorities as an important new institutional model for management of our ports of national importance. From an efficiency and gains perspective we intend to free ports in the system from government bureaucracy and they are expected in return to be self-sufficient. I think that is a pretty good trade off.

A new port authority created under the auspices of this act would have the powers directly related to shipping, navigation, the transportation of goods and passengers and the handling of storage of all products. With government approval the port may also engage in other activities that support its port operations.

Port authority borrowing to support capital investments will be decided by private sector lenders base on the port authority stream of future revenues. The port authority will be able to pledge its own land and fixtures plus any fixtures on federal land that it manages as securities to support the borrowing. The authorities will be accountable through their annual reports and audits which are to be available to the public and general meetings which are to be open to the public.

Port authorities will also be subject to special examinations. These are combined performance reviews and audits and are required not less than every five years.

These are the kinds of reforms that the port communities have been asking for for many, many years and we are happy that we are now finally moving in that direction.

Human resources were a priority during development of the Canada Marine Act. We want to ensure that all employees affected by these changes are treated fairly and that all applicable requirements of the Canada Labour Code are fully complied with.

Bill C-9 reflects our position that all marine facility employees presently under federal pension and benefit plans will be covered by similar substitute plans. Employees should not be penalized financially when leaving the public service plans.

The standing committee also emphasized the need to clarify the right of these marine facility employees to transfer their accumulated benefits into the plan they are joining with their new employer.

This was a concern for committee members from all parties in the House, and I am happy to announce that this was included in an amendment at the report stage. This is a good point.

This type of amendment demonstrates very clearly the constructive role of the committee review system, through which members can have input to enhance the bills referred to them.

The result is a bill that requires that marine employees leaving the federal plan under this policy be offered comparable benefits until such time as they and the new employer agree to change it. The bill also requires a new employer to set in place contribution rates no higher than the rates employees paid immediately before the transfer and to take all reasonable steps to negotiate a pension transfer agreement with Treasury Board.

Pension transfer agreements would allow benefits to continue to grow as service time accumulates with the new employer.

As I said in the House on Wednesday, these changes give us a bill that does the right thing, not only for our ports and the seaway but also for all of their employees. Now that the House is just about finished its work, we have in Bill C-9 a balanced package, one that gives Canada the right set of policies and the right set of institutions to link Canada and Canadians to the rest of the world.

The marine community wants this bill. It is very comprehensive and we should hasten it forward to the Senate to complete the legislative process.

I look forward to going to the other place and to working with my colleagues in that chamber to assure them of the objectives of the bill, to see what ideas they have and to work with them in a collaborative fashion to effect speedy passage in the Senate.

In conclusion, let us not forget the major achievement in this bill. The legislation meets the goals of the national marine policy and strikes a balance in how we manage our marine institutions and facilities. It complements the government's other transportation initiatives and is also an important element of the overall effort to prepare our transportation system for the next century.

However, and I have said it before and I will say it again, no matter what changes are made or how many services are commercialized, Transport Canada will continue to make safety and security of Canada's transportation system its first priority. The interest of Canadians and the Government of Canada will always be present in that particular area. However, under this bill we are giving the Canadian marine industry more flexibility in managing its own affairs in a commercial, efficient and effective manner.

I ask all members present to join with us on the government side to pass this bill so that we can complete the legislative process in the Senate, proclaim it early in the new year and get down to the business of giving Canada a terrific new vehicle to discharge marine policy as we move into the 21st century.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we all held our noses here. We voted for C-9 at report stage. We are going to repeat that exercise again today because most players in the industry have indicated that they want to get the show on the road, so to speak.

Almost everyone of course is happy to see the last of “Pork” Canada, and it has to be replaced by something.

It is truly a pity that not a single amendment proposed by opposition members in committee at the instigation of shipping companies, maritime associations, individual port corporations, stevedoring firms, unions or commodity shippers was accepted over the doctrine of Transport Canada bureaucrats. Surely all those amendments could not have been that bad. I simply do not understand what the minister meant this morning when he spoke kindly of our input in committee.

If nothing else, the exercise proved the futility of our committee system. Our committees, and I would have to say most especially the transport committee compared to others that I have sat on, are merely extensions of ministerial offices with government members dutifully lining up and saluting on cue. What a farce. Opposition members and government backbenchers are kept busy and kept out of trouble, and the illusion of sober deliberations is maintained.

The most poorly thought out section of the bill, and the one for which I have yet to hear a kind word from anyone outside government, is one which gives the government the right to collect a levy based on gross revenue from port authorities, a slice right off the top. The size of that levy under the terms of the legislation may be set quite capriciously by the minister. Different port authorities, because they have different financial circumstances, will have these gross levies set at different levels. Different ports are going to be treated differently.

Whatever happened to commonly accepted business principles? Whatever happened to fairness? It would have been very simple to set in the regulations a net levy which would have been paid by all the new port authorities irrespective of their basic financial situation. Because it would only have entered into their profits or would only have been taken away from their profits, it would not strangle a port which might be staggering under an extraordinarily heavy capital debt for example.

There are ports that are in the fortunate position of having made fairly major capital expenses while they were still creatures of the federal government so that the taxpayers from sea unto shining sea picked up the tab. They are going to be in hog heaven.

However, ports that have very heavy capital expenditures facing them that are going to have to be made after the formation of the new port authorities will then have to take on enormous debt for which they alone will be responsible. Yet they will be expected to pay off the top a levy on gross revenue.

Regardless of where they stand in competition with each other or in conflicts of interest with each other, I have yet to talk to one player in the industry who thinks that this is a good idea. The bureaucrats in Transport Canada think it is a good idea and the bureaucrats in Transport Canada get what they want in the transport committee and so we have a done deal.

I have a letter here from the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council. This is probably one of the biggest associations in Canada which is directly concerned with harbours, concerned with the movement of goods because it includes not only the port of Vancouver but it also includes the airport, the railway shippers and so on. The council really castigates this idea of forcing ports to pay off the top to the federal government. The federal government always has its hand in somebody's pocket. In this case it wants to put its hand into the pocket of an entity which it has created ostensibly to serve the public.

The Greater Vancouver Gateway Council mentions a few facts which I think should be taken into consideration in the House with respect to the competitiveness between Canadian ports and U.S. ports. In the case of these people it would be the port of Seattle.

There is much lower taxation in the U.S. In spite of the fact that there is much lower taxation, our federal government wants to slap an additional levy on the ports and make them pay on their gross revenue.

There is an ability in the U.S. to finance port development through the issuance of tax exempt bonds. Here in Canada the government is not even going to allow these new port authorities to mortgage or use as collateral the federal property which they will be administering.

The port authorities will be able to use only their own property or use the non-fixed equipment in the ports as collateral. Mostly they will have to hold out their hand, bend over to the financial institutions and say: “Please lend us some money. We will pay almost any rate of interest because that is the way it has to be. We do not have anything to back our loan”. They not only do not have any physical means to back their loans, but one of the whole objects of the commercialization is to get the federal government out of the position where it has to take any responsibility for the port debts. These institutions which are ostensibly going to be independent are going to have the responsibility but they are not going to have authority.

Another thing which the gateway council mentions is that in the U.S. there are lower fees or no fees for government services such as dredging. It says there are no requirements to pay dividends or make special payments to shareholders. I have already mentioned that one. They are going to have to make a monstrous special payment to the federal government.

One thing the gateway council talks about but does not go into detail on is lower taxation. In the ports to the south, particularly Seattle and Tacoma, the port authorities actually have taxing powers, while our ports are paying taxes. Can you believe it? Government institutions that are supposed to be serving the public are going to be forced to pay taxes. This is bizarre. There is no place else in the civilized world I would say that has such a totally unprecedented way of beating up on their own government entities.

In this brave new world of port authorities, it is proposed that the boards of directors all be appointed with ministerial approval from nominees and that the minister in effect will have a veto power. Talk about patronage heaven. This is what we are supposed to be trying to get rid of when we get rid of “Pork Canada”. It is the same old story, right back to the trough.

In addition the government has refused to consider proposed amendments which would provide for a more open system of appointing directors. It has also refused to consider proposals that would provide for greater accountability in the port authorities by addressing the problem of conflict of interest during privatization.

We all saw what happened during the privatization of NavCan. I do not have to continue beating that dog in this House. Everyone is aware of it. It was disgraceful.

Right now we have a port which is in the process of divestiture. We have a gross conflict of interest with lobbyists who used to be members of this honourable House. They are out flogging a deal on behalf of potential buyers who want to take over the port so they will have a fix on the only easily available means they have for shipping their product. This is not unprecedented but it is unheard of. It is the Liberal way.

Here we go again. The same amendments that were proposed to avoid conflicts during privatization would also have provided for more arm's length safeguards in the proposed five year audits. The audits are fine but let us have independent audits and not have the audits ultimately under the control of the minister.

I have mentioned another problem several times in this House and in committee. That is the problem of pilotage in particular on the St. Lawrence. Here is one case where all the stakeholders are not onside. All but one are on side. The one that is not on side is the pilotage monopoly.

The opposition to this monopoly goes right across the industry. It is not just the shipping associations. It is not just the shippers. It is not just the commodity producers in western Canada. It is not just the grain handling companies. Everybody wants to get rid of this except for those who benefit.

It is a tight little monopoly where people collect from $80,000 to $180,000 a year for nine months of work. They have all sorts of feather bedding provisions in their enabling legislation. They cannot be shaken off because it is so difficult under the terms of the act for masters of Canadian vessels, not foreign ships, I repeat Canadian vessels, who regularly ply our inland waters, who know them like the backs of their hands, to have themselves certified as pilots. It is virtually impossible. Somebody told me there are nine Canadian masters who have been certified to pilot their own vessels.

Nowadays when there are modern navigational aids like GPS, these experienced masters cannot write an examination to prove their competence, prove that they know the waters, show that they also have on their vessels the requisite GPS systems. They cannot get around this monopoly. It costs the Canadian grain farmer $4 million in excess pilotage costs per annum in order to maintain this cosy little club.

There is provision in the legislation for a review of the situation. It is supposed to take place one year after the bill receives royal assent. I am not holding my breath that anything will come of it, but we will see how things work out. We are on the road.

Everybody made a lot of nice noises about the preservation of the pension rights of employees at the ports when they are either commercialized, as in the case of the port authorities, or divested.

I gather from reading the legislation—and I am fairly cognizant of it—that the employees of the bigger ports, the people who will be in the port authorities, will be reasonably well protected. However, if an employee works for a small port that will be divested, he is toast, absolute toast. There is nothing in the legislation to protect that person at all.

There are two classes of employees: those who work for the big guys and will continue to work for other big guys, and those who work for the small and rather vital ports in the hinterlands. Some of these port employees have 10 or 15 years of seniority and they are getting nothing. That is wrong, absolutely wrong.

This is fairly typical of what happens when bureaucracy runs amok. It is always the person with the smallest voice who gets the least attention.

I do not think there is any point in further belabouring this point. The deal is done. We have known for several weeks that nothing would be changed, nothing would be improved. We have been steamrolled, but because we do not want the shipping industry to be left in limbo with no legislation at all, we will support it.

I was talking to some shipping people last night. I told them I would vote for the bill. I thought I was going to get a punch in the head. Nevertheless we will do it. We have swallowed our pride. We have held our noses. We will support the legislation.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to Bill C-9 at third reading.

I thought I would approach my speech a little differently than we usually do in the House. Let me explain. As members know, in the British parliamentary system from which this Parliament sprang, the government introduces bills and the opposition naturally criticizes. Sometimes, when we meet with members of the public on the weekends they tell us that the opposition seems to be objecting for the sheer pleasure of it.

The new approach I wish to take is to talk about the points with which we agree in this bill. Then I will be able to mention the points with which we are not in agreement, and state our party's position on this bill.

Mr. Speaker, just before beginning, could you ask the chihuahua for Bourassa to do his barking outside the House? I am utterly fed up. It shows a lack of respect for the people who elected us. I am sick and tired of listening to him.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

I will not sit still and allow someone of the ilk of that Bloc member to call me a dog. He has just insulted the members of the public who voted for me and I ask him to withdraw his words—

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The Chair was listening very attentively to the hon. member for Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans. The Chair was also listening carefully to the rest of the Chamber and did not hear the same words the hon. member heard.

However, I will pay more attention and if in my opinion any hon. member is obstreperous beyond the normal I will bring it to the attention of the House.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, you will look at the blues. I know you take your position in the Chair seriously. I did not call the hon. member for Bourassa a dog, I called him a chihuahua. There is a difference.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Ha, ha.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

A chihuahua is a small dog that yaps a lot but does not bite.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Ha, ha.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

I am pleased to see that the government whip has come back to keep order on that side of the House. I am trying to do the best I can as a parliamentarian.

I had started to talk about the points in this bill with which I agree, and it is very annoying to hear someone keep on yapping in the back.

I would like to correct some of the points mentioned by my colleague, the critic for the Reform Party, with respect to this bill. The Reform member seemed to be blaming the government for not holding public hearings at this stage of the new Bill C-9.

I will submit to you most humbly, and it is not my intention to annoy the government—the hon. parliamentary secretary knows that I am a highly critical parliamentarian and that when things are not going right,the parliamentary secretary is familiar with my good nature, of which you have just seen an example—you have seen that I am a peaceable fellow. However, when things do not suit me, I speak up for myself. But I also speak up when things do suit me.

In this case, the Government of Canada, the Liberal government, held very thorough public hearings in order to draft Bill C-9. Having been on the transport committee at that time, I can tell you that we visited 15 port communities, all of us on that committee. We visited the regions. We heard witnesses and were given briefs. We heard groups, corporations and ports people, who told us what they thought of the bill and what provisions they thought it should contain.

In addition, we held weeks of hearings in Ottawa. It cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but we were exercising democracy. That is what is healthy about a democracy.

I would like to point out that, as Bloc Quebecois members, when we were elected in 1993, we wondered about our participation in parliamentary committees. We asked ourselves whether parliamentary committees served any purpose and changed anything, whether the government had preconceived ideas and in any case, since governments are elected to govern, whether it would govern? As a party, we wondered whether we should sit on the parliamentary committees. Together we decided that we opposed the empty chair theory, that we would take our seat and that we would play an active role in committees. And so I and other colleagues toured 15 communities so people could speak out.

However, I really regret that Bill C-44 died on the Order Paper in the Senate, in the other House. This is of greater concern for democracy. It is unfortunate that we had to start all over following the election on June 2.

The marine industry asked us to. This is why we agreed with the government to proceed quickly. This is why we had second reading yesterday and why we will complete third reading this afternoon and perhaps vote next week before Parliament adjourns December 12, because Canada and Quebec's marine community has asked us to pass this bill.

What I wanted to say in this regard is that I find it deplorable that the other House killed Bill C-44, which had given rise to considerable consultation. It is unfortunate that it was killed by unelected persons.

The interesting thing about democracy in Canada and Quebec is that members like me and my colleagues from all parties are democratically elected by the people and when we are no longer needed at the end of our term, we are told, as we say back home “Off to the doghouse with you”—and I would not want you to think that I have the hon. member for Bourassa in mind when I say this; this is just a colloquialism—and another representative gets elected. That is the idea.

That is not how it works for the members in the other place: the senators. They are friends of the government, appointed either by the Liberals or by the Conservatives. We will recall the Conservatives. Brian Mulroney appointed Senator Roberge, who was the general manager of the Ritz Carleton because, when Mulroney travelled to Montreal, he stayed at the Ritz Carleton. He told the manager he was going to appoint him as a senator. The Liberals did the exact same thing. In addition to her pension as a former Quebec Liberal MNA, Senator Lise Bacon gets paid as a senator. That is what we find unfortunate.

I notice, Mr. Speaker, that you are about to interrupt me to proceed to oral questions.

It is unfortunate that Bill C-44 was killed by unelected persons. I take this opportunity to remind the House that they killed Bill C-44 in the last Parliament and, as a result, we had to start all over by introducing Bill C-9 now before us.

I would now like to indicate which provisions in Bill C-9 we agree with. First, we find it interesting that the government would give a high level of autonomy to local port authorities. We cannot disagree with Bill C-9 bringing management closer to local communities—

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member but it is almost 11 a.m. and statements by members must now begin. The hon. member for Bruce—Grey.

VolunteersStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Ovid Jackson Liberal Bruce—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I draw attention to and sing praises of the country's unsung heroes, the roughly 5.3 million Canadians who volunteer over one billion hours to voluntary organizations and community groups.

International Volunteer Day for Social and Economic Development is a time when the world pays tribute to exceptional people who give of their time and energy for the greater good.

These exceptional Canadians ask not what can be done for them but rather how they can help. For the cynics who scoff it off by asking what difference that makes, the answer is more than can ever be measured. As Henry David Thoreau once said, goodness is the only investment that never fails.

Whether their efforts are in public education, fund-raising or administration, whether they provide one on one care for seniors or young children who are victims of family violence, volunteers leave an indelible mark on the lives of needy citizens.

We as a nation are indebted to volunteers—

VolunteersStatements By Members

11 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Blackstrap.

Canada Pension PlanStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Allan Kerpan Reform Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the debate over Canada's biggest tax grab, Bill C-2, the parliamentary secretary to the minister stated that if a young person contributed $1 to the CPP fund they could expect a whopping return of $1.80 after only 30 years of uncertainty. Wow.

If the young person had a buck to invest which, first of all, is unlikely because they are already dead broke from Liberal taxes, but if they did happen to find a rusty old loonie on the street they would have to consider where to invest it. Would they rather mail that loonie off to Ottawa to a plan that is already $500 billion in debt in the faint hope of $1.80 return if they are really, really lucky or would they invest it themselves?

Even at 5% return on that investment that loonie would turn into at least $4 in 30 years. That would be in a safe or secure bank or credit union where they could visit their investment any time they wanted to.

One does not have to be a brain surgeon to figure out which is a better bet.

Women's Employment Resource Centre Of OxfordStatements By Members

11 a.m.


John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we mourn the victims of the Montreal massacre, I would like to share a positive story about women in my riding.

The Women's Employment Resource Centre of Oxford County provides women with the assistance needed to re-enter the workforce. The majority of women who come to the centre for help are on social assistance. While the centre still receives some funding from Human Resources Development, it has established a dress making business to supplement its income.

The centre trains women as designers and sewers and with the help of a Hamilton entrepreneur markets the garments across Canada. Its niche market is fashions for the larger woman and its label “Celebrating Size” is the best seller in the catalogue.

I helped cut the ribbon to open its new retail outlet in Woodstock. The pride of the women in their achievement was evident in their faces. I am happy to see the Women's Employment Resource Centre contributing to the gain of 30,000 full time jobs for Canadian women this November.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Paul Mercier Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the tragedy that occurred on December 6, 1989, at Montreal's École polytechnique, it is with sadness that we remember how 14 young women were killed by a mentally insane individual.

Quebec and the whole international community were shocked by the massacre. This painful tragedy triggered awareness right across the country. The ribbon I am wearing today is a symbol to remind men and women that we must all make a contribution to end violence against women.

We will forever remember Geneviève, Annie, Hélène, Barbara, Anne-Marie, Maude, Maryse, Annie, Sonia, Barbara, Anne-Marie, Michèle, Maryse and Nathalie.

To the families and friends of these young women, and to all the other women who are victims of violence, we say that we share their sadness and admire their courage.

Food BanksStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Carolyn Parrish Liberal Mississauga Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Daily Bread Food Bank is the largest food bank in Canada. It is a non-profit, non-denominational, charitable organization working to eliminate hunger in the greater Toronto area. With 800 dedicated volunteers, Daily Bread is supported by donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and community groups. It receives no government funding.

One million, two hundred thousand meals are distributed per month to 170 food programs such as neighbourhood food banks, children's breakfast clubs, drop-in centres and hostels for the homeless. Thirty-seven per cent of those using food banks are children and 33% are women, many of whom are victims of family violence and breakdown.

Sixty-five per cent of the food bank resources come from the food industry, manufacturers, producers, wholesalers and farmers who donate surplus products.

I encourage all members in the House to open their offices and their cupboards to collect supplies and donations for the needy as we enter the holiday season ahead.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Saturday, December 6 is the eighth anniversary of the Montreal massacre where 14 women were murdered at l'École Polytechnique.

On this national day of remembrance and action on violence against women, we reflect on the issue and the impact it has had on the 14 young women, their families and the vast numbers of women in Canada and around the world who have endured acts of violence.

In addition to the Firearms Act and changes to the Criminal Code, the federal government has been working with all sectors of society to raise awareness and promote institutional change on issues related to violence against women and children.

All members of society, men and women, need to be part of the solution to end this cycle of fear, isolation and desperation that living with the spectre of violence brings to women.

Our society is one of the casualties if this is not eradicated. We must—

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Crowfoot.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, on December 6, 1989, 14 innocent young women needlessly lost their lives in the bloodiest mass killing in Canadian history. Today I and my Reform colleagues, and I believe everyone in this House, express our condolences to the families that still, after eight years, mourn the loss of their loved ones and the huge potential they offered.

We live in a progressively violent world where the value of human life is quickly diminishing. The killing of Reena Virk is a sad reminder of young Canadians' growing tendency toward violence. Robert Latimer's sentence of two years, regardless of his motive, demeans the life of his daughter and the life of all Canadians.

The government should be doing everything within its power to deter and stop the senseless killings and violence against women and the most vulnerable members of society, our children and grandchildren. Yet this government brought in conditional sentencing that allows hundreds of violent offenders, including rapists, to walk free and it supports unescorted weekend passes for convicted pedophiles. This is a betrayal of the memories of the victims of the 1989 massacre and is reprehensible.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, on December 6, seven years ago, Peter Gzowski commemorated the first anniversary of the Montreal massacre by documenting the horrendous violence and abuse being experienced on that day at that moment in different communities across Canada by women and girls. It was a chilling reminder that the murders of 14 young students were not an isolated incident but only one particularly shocking manifestation of a sickness that permeates our society.

Unlike the tragedy at l'École Polytechnique, most violence, stalking, sexual abuse and murder of women and girls are perpetrated by men who are supposed to love them.

Today we remember 14 young women whose spirit, vitality and intelligence are lost to us forever. But we owe it to their memories to dedicate our public service to eradicating the poison in our society that deprived them of life just because they were women, the violence that continues to rob women of the right to a safe, productive and happy life.

Diane FrancisStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, we live in a democracy where everyone has the right to express his views, but when I read Diane Francis' paper in the Financial Post of December 2, she made me sad. It is fine if she chooses to be a federalist, but there are limits to saying absolutely anything in the name of Canada's supreme interest.

When somebody says that Lucien Bouchard's government supports acts and political groups that it publicly denounces, I ask myself how far she is ready to go in her soiling campaign against Quebec. We had Mao's China, Stalin's Russia and, according to Diane Francis, we now have Bouchard's Quebec.

Despite what she may think, she harms everyone in Quebec, including federalists. And the more I read English Canada's editorialists and columnists, the more I wonder whether disinformation and stalinisation of sovereignist leaders are now part of fundamental Canadian values. This is a pretty shameful thing.