Mr. Speaker, there is something wrong here. We have a Liberal committee with a sort of agenda and itinerary coming west to find out what alienates them. It was there last week and released the itinerary this week. This is a good example of the way Liberals do things and maybe what alienates the west as well as all other provinces. Three or four senators are being sent on this little trip to the west. I am sure they might get the gist of things.
In my capacity as House leader for the official opposition I also have the role of regional critic for Nova Scotia, a job which I am very proud to undertake. I want to tell the government that there are other areas in the country that are truly alienated. I am sure that is why the Liberals do not have any seats in Nova Scotia. It may be just dawning on them what the problem is. I asked quite a few people in Nova Scotia what exactly was bothering them about being alienated from the Liberal government and I will give their responses.
However, I want to clarify something for the geniuses across the way that they are bragging about a byelection they won last night in Windsor—St. Clair. The Reform Party did not do well but the NDP just about took them out. I might add that they did lose a considerable number of votes from the last election. Not only that. I would invite members opposite to come to my riding during a byelection any time and then come into the House and brag after it. We will see where they go. The Liberals do not win seats across the country. We are trying to point out today that the Liberals have won seats in two regions of the country. That is where the Liberals primarily have votes.
Other regions of the country are sick and tired of the way the country is governed. Let me give some idea of the things I have heard in Nova Scotia. I am sure some of my colleagues who represent that area will either agree or add more to the list.
Why in the name of heaven are we sending this group of backbenchers and senators to one region of the country when there are all kinds of regions that are hurting and all kinds of regions that are sick and darned tired of what is opposite? I ask them to listen up, all five of them.
Sable Gas is a project the people of Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia in particular, have been watching for so long as one of the great hopes of the region. One can understand that with the potential it has. It continues to remain on the horizon. The country was promised a November 1999 start-up of the project, and now they are talking about November 2000. Who knows where it will go from there? There are still no clear indications of the benefits when the contract is signed.
We can recall in the House some time ago debating the issue of why the Liberals went to another province and said let us divert that natural gas pipeline north around Nova Scotia. Nova Scotians and people all over Canada asked what they were doing. In fact I stood in the House and asked why they would not allow these people the production and the growth as Alberta did with its natural gas until they introduced the national energy program.
Nova Scotia is an area of great potential. Yet the federal government did nothing but play games in that exercise. It is not even visible in getting this project active today. It kind of walked away from it when it did not serve its own benefit. Do the people of Nova Scotia feel alienated by that? Maybe the government better send some members down there to ask a few questions.
Some of my colleagues and I met with families affected by the Devco situation. There has been no direction from the government. There has been no meaningful assistance and no acceptance of responsibility by the government. Some shake their heads, but that is what is happening. The government says that it is only the west that is alienated. Give it a break. Get a life. There is more to the country than one small region.
There is no policy on what to do with Devco or what to do for the men and women, particularly the families in Cape Breton that are highly stressed. Where are the Liberals today? How are they dealing with this situation? The frustration is showing more and more with protesters, depression and suicides.
The government goes to Sydney, makes an announcement and walks away. No responsible government does that under any circumstances. Why do the people in Nova Scotia feel alienated? One problem is that the government does not ask why. It just thinks it is a problem in the west because the Reform Party is sitting here.
Let us talk about shipbuilding in Nova Scotia. The Marine Workers Federation had an excellent suggestion. Where was the government when that suggestion was made? Nowhere. It was not even supportive of the issue.
What is the issue? I know a number of people who have worked in the marine industry for 20 or more years. Why not build some ships? There is the capacity in the shipyards in Halifax. The dedication is there. Canada has low costs in terms of the international value of the Canadian dollar. Holland is producing at a higher cost. Why can we not do it here?
The question from the government would be why do we have to build ships anyway. It does not understand that one potential market is the coastal tanker fleet which is 25 to 30-plus years old. It must be renewed by 2004 to meet environmental standards. Many of the necessary tax acts and other incentives are already in place. With a little policy direction there could be half a billion dollars worth of work at approximately $30 million per vessel. Where is the government promoting that kind of thing?
There is a saying that a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. Is it the government's intention to rob Peter to pay Paul and to make sure that the Pauls are always in place rather than look at some initiatives that might help a region? Talk about regional alienation.
I could talk all day about the tar ponds in Sydney. I will be there on Thursday looking at them again. It is one of the biggest open sewers in the world. After $50 million plus were spent on it nothing has been done. There has been study after study.
The Liberals walked in, threw some bucks at it, walked out and said the problem was solved. It has not been solved. It has been going on for decades and decades. For the last 12 years the government has been throwing money at it in a big way. People are still living in front of a major sewer which is unacceptable anywhere in North America. Except this government accepts it in Sydney. It is incredible.
We could talk about the gun law. Nova Scotia among other places is appalled at what is going on with the famous gun law the government brought in to prevent murder by gun. What did we recently see in Ottawa? Murders by guns. Has it stopped it? No. Steve Gullon in Nova Scotia can tell us. He cannot live off his business any more. It is dying because of the cost and the exorbitant administration rates.
I only have a minute, unfortunately. I would like to talk about the toll highway in Nova Scotia. I would like to talk about the Port of Halifax, the crime, the issue of offshore ownership of waterfront property and real estate, the inefficiencies of ACOA, high taxes and overburdened health care. I could go on and on.
I would suggest that the government get off the idea that it is only western Canada which is alienated. The whole damned country is alienated.
Therefore, I would like to introduce an amendment to the motion. It is necessary to introduce it because we do not know what the plans of the government are. I move:
That the motion be amended by adding “and immediately make its intentions and full agenda public”.
Maybe then we in the west, the people in the east and people throughout this country will understand that there is more to this than just some PR exercise by backbenchers.