Mr. Speaker, as you know, we are discussing the motion presented by the hon. member for Kootenay West-Revelstoke, asking the House to condemn the transportation policies adopted by this government. "Condemn"
may be a big word, but we can at least censure or severely criticize the policies of the federal Department of Transport. It is a pleasure to realize I will command the attention of the Minister of Transport himself, who is across the way from me.
Before question period, I touched on two subjects, and I have two left. They specifically concern the people in my riding as well as railway transportation.
I will illustrate the bankruptcy of the Liberal government's transportation policy, using examples that occurred in my riding, and I will start with the loss of jobs. My riding has a major railway centre called Charny. In fact, the name was selected to underline this community's strategic location as a railway crossroads.
Over the past three years, CN's privatization and cuts have meant the loss of 100 out of a total of 500 jobs and the closing of one of the three railroad infrastructure repair shops. After we bombarded the Minister of Transport with questions in the House and he spoke to the media, we showed that the number of rail accidents had increased using statistics provided by the office of railway safety of Transport Canada and the department's own figures. The CN agreed to keep the Joffre shop open, but in a different way: by selling it to an Ontario company, CLN.
Thanks to the concerted action of the people of the community, to the interest generated by the media and to pressure on the government and CN, we kept 30 people employed fixing tracks, which are in ever worse shape because of a lack of resources. And now, the resources to maintain them are being cut.
The rehabilitation of the central Quebec rail line, which could have linked Quebec City with the south, is very important to us and to the member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead. The economy flows increasingly north-south, and it would be worthwhile rehabilitating this line. However, without the help of higher levels of government, including the federal government, it will be hard to fix what is broken.
Rail lines are being dismantled and abandoned. I would like to ask the minister some questions, but Oral Question Period is over. In my riding, there is an intermodal station in Lévis, which was renovated in 1986 at a cost of $3 million. Today, CN has sought permission to abandon the line along the St. Lawrence. However, instead of using this line, Via Rail asked for permission to back the train from the maritimes up a distance of three kilometres over the Quebec bridge and then, once the train reaches Charny, it would be backed up again as far as the Ste-Foy station. Meanwhile, they abandon a station that remains in good condition.
I could go on. These are incredible measures since Via Rail, a Crown corporation, is considering abandoning a station on which $3 million was spent in favour of a new one that could cost $800,000 or more, because the figure does not include the land. This decision should have been made two years ago. However, on February 22, when a decision is to be made, Via will recommend to the Minister of Transport this sort of mumbo jumbo of backing up the train.
I know people in Charny who are railroad experts. They have told me this makes no sense. Do you know that, up to a year ago, an employee caught backing a train up more than 300 metres was liable to a warning, which in certain instances could lead to suspension?
And now freight trains, not passenger trains, would be backed up over the Quebec bridge, for which we managed to extract a bit of money from the federal government for renovation work and which remains the symbol of the decrepit state of federalism in the Quebec City region.
Fortunately, after many efforts by the opposition and by the coalition to save the Quebec bridge, we were finally successful. But the energy required to convince this government to do the right thing is unbelievable.
I am very short of time. Ten minutes is not enough. I have two minutes left to speak to marine policy. All the Liberal candidates promised there would be something for the Magdalen Islands ferry built by MIL Davie. Two years later, they are still bandying around the idea of refurbishing the old ferry still in service.
A summit was promised on future marine policy. Nothing has been done. No policy, no summit, nothing. Not a cent has been spent on defence industry conversion, because MIL Davie was a business that primarily handled national defence contracts. The federal government has not spent a cent on this business, on marine construction. It is obscene, and with the election approaching I would not let the Prime Minister or his ministers take credit for the wonderful things they have accomplished in the area of transportation. Yes, the member for Kootenay West-Revelstoke is right to criticize this government for its failure to act in the area of transportation.