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House of Commons Hansard #155 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was following.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is the House ready for the question on Bill C-27?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think the deputy government House leader indicated that there may be an all-party agreement here. Should we not seek that agreement before we collapse the debate on Bill C-27?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I think if you seek it you would see that. However, I believe the Speaker would advise that we need to collapse Bill C-27 and defer that vote and then move to Bill C-44. I believe there would be three ten-minute speeches for report stage only.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The Speaker is a servant of the House. Is there unanimous consent that we proceed as indicated by the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is the House ready for the question on Bill C-27?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.)

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-44, 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, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

April 14th, 1997 / 6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

There are 127 motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-44. The motions will be grouped for debate as follows.

Group No. 1: Motions Nos. 1, 30, 50 to 57, 60, 63, 82 and 113.

Group No. 2: Motions Nos. 2, 65 to 81, 83 to 96, 102 and 115.

Group No. 3: Motions Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9.

Group No. 4, Motions Nos. 8, 10 to 17, 26 to 29, 32 and 118 to 122.

Group No. 5: Motions Nos. 18 to 25, 31, 33 to 49, 58, 112, 114, 117, 125, 126 and 127.

Group No. 6, Motions Nos. 59, 61, 62, 64 and 97 to 101, 104 to 111 and 116.

Group No. 7: Motions Nos. 103, 123 and 124.

The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-44, in Clause 2, be amended by replacing lines 14 to 16 on page 1 with the following:

""fees" includes harbour dues, berthage and wharfage, as well as duties, tolls, rates and other charges."

Motion No. 30

That Bill C-44, in Clause 10, be amended by replacing lines 23 to 25 on page 8 with the following:

"authority referred to in subsection (1) that was one or more harbour commissions immediately before the coming into force of this subsection are"

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, a point of order. I understand what stage we are at but I want to be sure that there is unanimous consent to extend the hours for the three speakers that have been agreed to so that we do not run out of time. There will be three 10 minute speeches. I want to be sure that there is unanimous consent for that.

At the end of those speakers all questions are deemed to have been put and deferred until the 12.30 vote tomorrow.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Perhaps we could make it clear. I gather the intention is that there be three speakers, one from each of the three recognized parties speaking for 10 minutes each on all motions.

Is it agreed that we will proceed in the way indicated by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader and extend the hours as necessary to complete the work outlined?

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

So ordered.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my colleagues and others who have been taking part in these discussions, I would like to give notice to the House that at some time I would like to ask for unanimous consent to table an amendment to Bill C-44.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I will continue putting the motions in Group No. 1 and then I will deal with the request of the chief government whip, if that is satisfactory.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

moved:

Motion No. 50

That Bill C-44, in Clause 36, be amended by replacing lines 36 and 37 on page 22 with the following:

"other than sections 12 to 14 and paragraphs 16(1)( a ), (g) and (i) and (2)(g),''

Motion No. 51

That Bill C-44, in Clause 36, be amended by replacing, in the French version, lines 3 and 4 on page 23 with the following:

"certains immeubles ne sont plus nécessaires à l'exploita-"

Motion No. 52

That Bill C-44, in Clause 37, be amended by replacing lines 28 to 32 on page 23 with the following:

"(3) A port authority may, for the purpose of operating the port, lease or license any federal real property that it manages, subject to the limits in the port authority's letters patent on its authority to contract as agent for Her Majesty in right of Canada. The term of the lease or licence may not be more than the maximum term that the letters patent set out for such a lease or licence."

Motion No. 53

That Bill C-44, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing line 39 on page 23 with the following:

"38. (1) Subject to subsection 37(3), a port authority may not dispose of"

Motion No. 54

That Bill C-44, in Clause 40, be amended by ( a ) replacing lines 35 to 37 on page 24 with the following: b ) prohibit the erecting of structures or works or certain types of structures or works; and c ) subject to any regulations made under section 52, regulate the type of structures or works that may'' b ) replacing line 8 on page 25 with the following: b ) the erecting or alteration of a structure or work''

Motion No. 55

That Bill C-44, in Clause 43, be amended by replacing, in the English version, lines 1 to 3 on page 28 with the following:

"(4) The notice required by this section does not apply to any fees accepted in a contract under section 44."

Motion No. 56

That Bill C-44, in Clause 49, be amended by replacing, in the English version, lines 24 to 26 on page 31 with the following: c ) direct a ship to use specified radio frequencies in communications with the port station or other ships; and''

Motion No. 57

That Bill C-44, in Clause 49, be amended by replacing line 25 on page 32 with the following:

"(3) No ship shall"

Motion No. 60

That Bill C-44, in Clause 61, be amended by replacing line 27 on page 38 with the following: b ) the transfer of the administration and control of all''

Motion No. 63

That Bill C-44, in Clause 63, be amended by a ) replacing line 13 on page 40 with the following: b ) the regulation and prohibition of uses, structures,'' b ) replacing line 18 on page 40 with the following:

"any structure or work that interferes with navigation"

Motion No. 82

That Bill C-44, in Clause 69, be amended by replacing, in the French version, line 41 on page 44 with the following:

"d'une entente et la protection des intérêts de"

Motion No. 113

That Bill C-44, in Clause 157, be amended by replacing lines 28 to 36 on page 83 with the following:

"157. Paragraph 3(1)( a ) of the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act is replaced by the following: a ) any port, as defined in section 4 of the Canada Marine Act, or any harbour, works or property under the jurisdiction of a harbour commission established under an Act of Parliament; or''

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank especially the parliamentary secretary to the House leader for his diligence in co-ordinating what we see as a rational and accepted debate that will take place on Bill C-44. I also want to thank the members opposite in the Reform and Bloc for their co-operation.

It is a great privilege to speak to Bill C-44, the Canada Marine Act, which was reported back to this place by the Standing Committee on Transport.

In December 1995, the Government of Canada published the "National Marine Policy: A Sweeping Strategy for Modernizing the Marine Sector". The policy sets out a clear and cohesive plan of action to help Canada's harbours and ports. The seaway, pilotage operations and ferry services face present and future challenges.

In June 1996, the government introduced Bill C-44, the Canada Marine Act, which is crafted to give full effect to the 1995 policy strategy. It brings business principles to bear on the use and future development of the marine system.

Only a cost effective, affordable system will be sustainable in today's highly competitive environment. The system no longer will be weighed down by costly administrative overhead. Procedural red tape is being cut. Ottawa's involvement in the day to day running of the system will be reduced. Reporting and approval requirements will be streamlined and what remains will be clearly spelled out.

Threaded throughout the Canada Marine Act is the philosophy of commercialization. It is to lighten the load on Canadian taxpayers for provision of the marine service. The proposed legislation will, in no way, compromise the high safety and environmental standards now in place. The rights and interests of all adjacent communities, including First Nations will be respected.

Much has been and will be done to remove subsidies. The cost of services will be shifted to those who benefit most directly. Ports that operate commercially using facilities that were built up at substantial public expense will make modest annual payments back to the taxpayers. Those at the local level who are charged with running the system will be given greater autonomy and freedom to manage. The marine sector is a business and must be as free as possible to operate as one.

Commercialization also means more user say. For business to be viable, it must be responsive to the people it serves. The infrastructure and the resources of the marine system will be better matched to market demand and to real need.

A more cost efficient, businesslike marine sector will enhance opportunities for economic growth and job creation at home and make us more competitive on the world stage. Bill C-44, and the national marine policy on which it was founded, are products of much time and effort by many people.

At this point, I would like to express my sincere thanks on behalf of the government for the efforts of the House Standing Committee on Transport. The standing committee's role was invaluable in shaping, first, the national marine policy and today, the Canada Marine Act.

I had the honour to chair the House Standing Committee on Transport when we formulated the national marine policy. On September 26, 1996, in my new role as parliamentary secretary, I witnessed the participation of the Minister of Transport who requested that the committee focus on some key issues that already had been raised by stakeholders in discussions since the introduction of the bill last June.

The four issues that he put on the table for attention were: crown agent status, the capacity and power of port authorities, the tax status of ports, and port governance structures.

The standing committee then travelled across Canada again so that everyone with an interest had the opportunity to shape the bill. Provinces, communities, industries, managers, unions, members of the public, all took the time to record their views with the Standing Committee on Transport. All are to be commended.

Not all the viewpoints could be reconciled with each other nor to the policy direction that helped shape the bill. However, the standing committee has reported changes to the bill that strengthen it, while striking an appropriate and objective balance.

The structure of the new Canada port authorities has to reflect our best view of how we want our national system of ports to operate. On one hand, there is a need for modern ports to have freedom to manage in order to meet user need and to stay competitive. On the other hand, there is the awareness that while ports are important economic generators in the economy, they also perform something of a public function. For this reason, they enjoy certain special privileges compared to other businesses and need a higher standard of public accountability for their operations.

After considering the many views on these issues, the standing committee determined that a number of changes were needed in management structure and operating conditions for our new port authorities.

The government supports the changes in this area brought forward by the standing committee. I will single out only three of them to mention the impact they will have. For better manageability and efficiency, the size of the governing board is now permitted to be as few as seven, compared to the previous minimum of nine directors. This does not compromise the objective of maintaining a user majority on the board.

To ensure adequate continuity, the chairperson's term of office is increased from one to two years and the limitation of only one re-appointment is removed. To clarify that ports will have status as government institutions in their international dealings, port authorities now are declared to have crown agent status. These three changes illustrate that the standing committee has listened very carefully and has struck an equitable balance among sometimes very divergent interests.

This government said at the outset that it was flexible and open to constructive suggestions for making the legislation better. The standing committee has formulated more than 100 changes, some of a substantive nature, plus many more that represent a technical fine tuning of the bill to make the legislation more practical, clearer and more user responsive.

In the same spirit of continuous improvement, we have been able to identify some additional changes that would make it better for a more workable bill. We have submitted these changes for consideration by all members of the House. I am privileged on behalf of the government to speak to this bill. We have here a bill that ensures a more effective marine sector to the benefit of all Canadians. The Canada Marine Act will play an important part in the government's overall strategy to move the national transportation system forward into the 21st century. I look forward to hearing the interventions from my colleagues on this side and the members opposite.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-44 at report stage.

I should point out that Bill C-44 is the result of the extreme frustration caused over the past 30 years by the lack of effectiveness of Canada's marine policy. The bill before us today is aimed at giving local authorities a greater say in the way port facilities are managed; for the longest time the federal government believed it could run ports across Canada from afar.

Bill C-44 now before us has been completely reworked. At report stage, we managed to get some significant improvements. We will recall the victory of seaway pilots, who were able to show how crucial it was to put safety first, and prove, thanks to their excellent presentation highlighting seaway safety, that the integrity of their job had to be preserved and therefore, that they could not be subjected to management rules that might jeopardize seaway safety.

At the cross-country hearings, we heard testimony from several local authorities asking that federal agency status be granted to national ports. We supported this proposal. At first glance, this might appear surprising on the part of a Quebec sovereignist party, but the rationale is the following: major national ports must be given more opportunities in order to become competitive on the North American market and on the world market. When Quebec becomes sovereign, Quebec ports enjoying this status under federal legislation will retain the same opportunities since the legislation will become law in Quebec. And this is why it is interesting.

During the hearings, many people underscored the need for some flexibility in ensuring that the existing harbour commissions, which are the most advanced form of local management established under the old legislation, can maintain their status or at least continue to operate as they should. There are some interesting elements in that area.

However, one element seems particularly important as far as the objectives of this bill are concerned. Clause 3 of the bill states:

It is hereby declared that the objective of this Act is to

(a) implement a National Marine Policy that provides Canada with the marine infrastructure that it needs and that will promote and safeguard Canada's competitiveness and trade objectives;

The Bloc felt that the bill would be improved by ensuring that the national marine policy makes it possible to achieve the local, regional and national socio-economic objectives, in order to promote and preserve Canada's competitiveness. However, the purpose of our amendment, which seems very reasonable to me, is to strike a balance between competitiveness, which is now part of our system, and free trade, which is invading all areas of activity, so that local, regional and national socio-economic objectives can be taken into account in all regions of Quebec and Canada.

This means that the legislation as a whole must be interpreted in light of this objective of the bill.

If the amendment is accepted, and I ask members on the government side to consider it seriously, it will improve the legislation and go along the line of a number of amendments put forward by the hon. member for Labrador, who suggested we ensure that the situation in remote areas for instance is different from the situation in major centers or in economic circles where there is more free trade within North America.

Underlying this legislation is a desire to transfer responsibility for the facilities to local authorities, but this transfer must take place under acceptable terms. Our Motion No. 5 would ensure that the principle of the legislation's objective is respected.

If the House approves this amendment, it will affect every aspect of the department's operation, the process by which the decision is made for instance to effect the divesting of ports or by which funds are allocated to wharf repair, whether on a ferry wharf like the one in Rivière-du-Loup or wharves with a more commercial use like the one in Cacouna, in my riding, or in Trois-Pistoles, or repairs on certain port facilities no longer used for what they were originally designed for. There are many good examples of this in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Since the Saguenay St. Lawrence Marine Park was established, many lighter port facilities need to be overhauled to give access to the river in support of the jewel of tourism this park will become.

By including this requirement to meet local, regional and national social and economic objectives in the legislation, we will ensure an essential balance.

It is also important to ensure that, when this bill is implemented, sufficient funding is provided to effect the divesting because, at present, every operation whereby responsibility is transferred to local authorities is permeated by the fear that the funding required to perform the function will not be transferred along with the responsibilities. This does not necessarily occur in transfers made in an effort to decentralize.

If it keeps improving at this rate, Bill C-44 could well achieve a large consensus in this House.

Unfortunately, for the time being, there are still flaws and the government will have to deal with them. I mentioned one, but there are others which are addressed in the proposed amendments.

One of the amendments proposed by the Bloc Quebecois deals with the need to recognize, as a Canadian port authority, facilities such as those of Port Saguenay and Trois-Rivières. These are facilities which, originally, might not have met the specific criteria set out in the legislation.

Through our work in committee, we were able to make sure that these ports can enjoy such status and thus be part of the wide network of national ports, which are vital elements of the transportation infrastructure to promote economic development in Canada. I will conclude by discussing elements of that nature.

For a long time, the whole issue of port management in Canada was essentially the federal government's responsibility, and there are many stories of port facilities that were built a long time ago and then more or less set aside, because they were deemed obsolete. Local communities did not feel these facilities were their own, while the federal government could not assume sole responsibility for them.

The arrival of the Bloc Quebecois in Ottawa helped develop an awareness of the importance of the transportation issue, of the interface with the transportation sector to help diversify regional economies. The reform of port activities is one element of this policy.

We are not yet totally pleased with the bill. I hope the government will recognize the soundness of our amendment. I believe the serious work done by both sides of the House to make this bill as good as possible has already been recognized.

In conclusion, there are still some elements to be corrected, especially the need to ensure that the national maritime policy will not be merely a market-based policy promoting pure competitiveness. The entire Canadian economy must take it into consideration that there are specific characteristics, other criteria to consider, including the economic impact of port facilities. It is not true that a port has the same importance and the same relationship to community development whether it is in Cacouna, Quebec City, Montreal or Thunder Bay.

In my region, we have been aware for the past 15 or 20 years of the importance of finding a way to develop Cacouna's port infrastructure. This project has gone through all of the stages of what might be called the region's political history. With the bill as it is, and with the proposed amendment on government responsibility to make this national maritime policy a tool of regional economic development, if we attain that objective, the federal government will then have to provide the necessary funds for implementation, so that the devolution is done properly.

We will be able to improve the bill in committee and at report stage. Then, when it gets to third reading, we shall see whether amendments might be made to its substance.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have on the west coast a lot of community problems originating from the designation of ports and port facilities and we have some ongoing discussions and negotiations at the local level in terms of how they are going to manage their affairs given the devolution of the wharfs and facilities which have been known throughout the last few decades as the federal dock and so on.

We have a very specific problem on Vancouver Island with the naming or designation of ports. We have a remote designation and a local and regional designation. These have major implications to communities. When we end up with a largely bureaucratic driven decision that impacts a community thousands of miles a way we have to find a way to ensure that the information upon which the bureaucracy is making its decision is the correct information and not something that someone like I would have to ferret out after

months of amazement at how a decision could be made through something like the freedom of information.

Lo and behold, in the cases of the two communities of Zeballos and Tahsis which are adjacent communities on Vancouver Island as the crow flies but over 300 kilometres separate by road, I determined that the bureaucracy in Ottawa thought they were connected by a 10 kilometre road which affected the designation and how this enabling package and the devolution of port facilities is going to affect them in a very negative way. I am still trying to get that sorted out. I hope I will get some assistance from the respective minister.

I have some assurance that where there are port facilities that fall under small craft harbours under the Department of Transport that are adjacent and have been considered by the community to be single facility, these proposals will be looked at with a lot of flexibility by the respective ministers. In this case, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Transport both have jurisdiction. It makes common sense to include both these facilities under one domain and then to move it into a community harbour committee type of arrangement. I am looking forward to co-operation in that regard as well.

This bill has been in the hopper for quite some time. When it was sent to the Standing Committee on Transport there was an awful lot of listening that had to be done. I witnessed a number of amendments that have been made to the legislation. We know it was certainly not a complete package when it was presented and we know there has been a lot of input. We also know that the direction of some of the amendments is very good indeed.

I have a concern that not all the amendments will achieve what needs to be achieved. I think a part of that is due to partisanship and gamesmanship in this place rather than really trying to accomplish what is right. There have been filibusters at the committee stage to block amendments having to do with the St. Lawrence seaway.

Based on a Bloc filibuster the government backed down and withdrew four amendments which were designed to aid the control of the cost of shipping in the St. Lawrence. Government members of the committee rationalized this as a necessary move in order to move the bill along quickly and suggested they would be able to reintroduce them at report stage. This was months ago.

From all outside appearances once again we are in the final days of another sitting of Parliament with an agenda that should not be rushed but appears to be rushed. There were amendments involving ports policing. Ports operating under the umbrella of the Canadian Ports Authority were being policed by the Canada Ports Corporation Police. The bill would bring an end to the existence of the Canada Ports Corporation. However, with the end of the Canada Ports Corporation, also comes the end of the Canada Ports Police.

We have a circumstance where essentially the municipalities do not mind looking after the policing. However, where there are incremental costs which there will be in some cases, naturally they wanted to be compensated. We cannot have federal offloading on to municipalities. I believe there are amendments that will take care of that situation. I hope and pray those amendments will indeed pass.

The legislation also establishes many of the ports previously operating under the Harbour Commissions Act as Canadian port authorities. As such they will be required to pay full grants in lieu of taxes.

We have an amendment calling for a five-year phasing in period. Ports that are not required to pay these grants would pay no less than what they had already been paying and 80 per cent of the difference between what they had been paying in the full value grants in lieu over the next succeeding four years and the full grants in lieu by year five.

No city or municipality would have received less than it had already been getting. At the same time the phase in period would allow time for ports to prepare for the previously unbudgeted impact of these payments. This deficiency in the bill has also been overcome by an amendment that I am supporting as well. However some small ports under the legislation will be placed in financial risk. This is not a good way to start a new program.

There is some good in the bill. In fact there is quite a bit of good in it. The objective of the committee was to examine the bill and make it as good as possible. That has not been met. The issues were clear. The solutions were clear. However the government has failed not because of marine philosophy but because of political gamesmanship. The bill could have been better.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think you will find that the House will grant its consent for the following motion after the speakers from Blainville-Deux-Montagnes and Beauport, who I understand have 10-minute speeches, and the two speakers on the government side who are splitting their time five minutes each. I move:

That all questions required to dispose of report stage of Bill C-44 be deemed moved and seconded, questions put, divisions demanded and the votes deferred to the end of Government Orders on Tuesday, April 15, 1997.

Canada Marine ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Just to clarify the matter for the Chair, the question before the House is that there be an additional 30 minutes of debate, two 10-minute speeches from the official opposition and two 5-minute speeches from the government. Then, at the conclusion of the speeches, all the questions necessary to dispose of report stage of the bill will be deemed to have been moved, seconded, divisions demanded and deferred until tomorrow at 5.30 p.m.

Is that correct?