Mr. Speaker, before question period I was talking about toll roads as being one method by which some governments have seen fit to put spending back into roads.
I received a letter from Bruce Law from the Lundar area of Manitoba. His opinion was that tolls on roads are another form of taxation. He was also concerned that the money collected from tolls on a specific road or bridge would eventually find its way to another fund. There is an element of distrust on the part of many Canadians with regard to the government taking in user fees, tolls and those sorts of thing for a specific purpose and then using those moneys for a totally unrelated initiative.
While I recognize that provincial jurisdiction primarily prevails in regard to highways, the federal government does take in the larger portion of tax money from Canadians and, as a result, has a responsibility not only for the national highway system but also to assist the provinces with their major roads.
The reason we have a crisis in transportation, particular on roads, is because the government has given no long term plan in conjunction with the provinces for infrastructure. It has indicated no long term funding. It is more a case of letting it get bad, letting it become a crisis and then it will do something.
With regard to the railways, in the past, when the Government of Canada owned the Canadian National Railway it was at the height of being a regulated system. However, we saw that the Canadian National Railway, in its contracts with employees and different things, was a very inefficient railway. It signed contracts out of convenience. It made it hard for the normal competitive commercial industry. It is only now, with Canadian National being a private company, that we see it moving toward a more efficient system.
We see some of the same problems that Canadian National Railway had showing up in the case of VIA Rail. It is my personal opinion that the user fees being charged by VIA Rail are probably not sufficient and should be a little higher. As long as VIA Rail is totally protected from the marketplace, I think it will continue to have to be highly subsidized by the federal government. There needs to be some marketplace discipline associated with the operations of VIA Rail.
My final comment on transportation and this supply day motion is with regard to the airline industry. This is a current issue that is underdeveloped and is continuing to evolve. However, the one thing I do know is that we need airline competition in this country, real competition that puts the consumer and the air traveller first, not second.