Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster. It is fitting that we talk about this important subject today. We should have been talking about it a great many years ago.
Canada is looked upon internationally as a pristine, pure, clean place. However Canada is sliding and has been sliding for a considerable time in terms of infrastructure. This is true of more than just water, but water is what we are talking about today.
We have general regulations but do not enforce them. Canada has no standard for water safety. Nor do we understand whose responsibility it is. As a result we saw the Walkerton incident, the North Battleford incident, and I am sure we will see a great many others.
Canada is sliding into third world status when it comes to water. It is safer to drink bottled water than tap water in Canada. Both sides of the country are dumping raw sewage into the ocean. That is not a G-8 phenomenon; it is a third world phenomenon. We put our garbage into landfills where they seep into our water table. It is a time bomb waiting to explode. It will cost us a fortune in the future to take care of those garbage dumps.
Canada has thousands of toxic waste sites. Our roads and bridges are decaying. Our health care system is rated 23rd out of 29 by the OECD. Our dollar is now worth 60 plus cents. We are suffering from a brain drain. These are symptoms of what is happening to our country, a country of which we are proud and for which we came to Ottawa to fight.
This is the tip of the iceberg. It is the canary in the coal mine in terms of our infrastructure problems. We need a vision and an action plan. We need a government that is not afraid to show leadership.
What has the government done? It likes to stay in the centre and appear shocked that we have a water problem. It likes to pass the buck and blame someone else. When I questioned the government about the 5 and 6 year old girls who were forced to visit their sex offender father in prison, the justice minister told me to go to the province because it was its fault. The province told me to go to the feds because it was a federal prison.
That is called passing the buck, and Canadians are sick and tired of it. They do not care whether an issue is federal, provincial or municipal. They want it fixed. Ultimately the government throws money at the problem. It throws money at infrastructure. What do we get for that money? We get golf courses, statues, canoe museums, ski hills and fountains in the middle of rivers. We need our sewage, water and garbage problems taken care of. That is not what we are getting.
The government has put aside $4 billion for water between now and the year 2005. Little or none of the money has gone to communities. Most of it seems lost in the bureaucracy. Municipalities say they need $16.5 billion to address the water problem.
What are the responses? Everyone cares about health. When we talk about water, air or garbage we are talking about people's health. If there is one thing people care about more than anything it is health. It does not matter how many material things one has. Without health one has nothing.
What do we need to do? First, we need to co-operate with the provinces and territories. The people do not care who deals with the problem. They just want us to deal with it. The federal government's job is to show leadership. Let us get rid of the turf warfare that seems to plague the whole issue and most other issues in government. Let us show leadership. Let us show that we care about the issues that affect Canadians.
Second, let us do a complete water inventory. Let us look at our aquifers, find out what we have and make a map of them. Let us see if we are in a positive or negative position in the recharge of those aquifers. Let us evaluate the water sources in the country. Let us look at the contamination levels of our water tables. That is where we get into landfills and that sort of thing. Let us look at watershed management. Let us work with the provinces. This is not a turf war between provinces. It is about fixing a very important resource, our water.
As the hon. member mentioned, we will need to talk about the whole issue of water export. The south west U.S. needs a lot of water. In Libya, Mr. Khadafi has built a $32 billion pipeline that is 1,900 kilometres long and 5 metres in diameter. He is using it to pump water out of the Sahara Desert. If they can pump water out of the Sahara Desert we had better believe that someone in the south west U.S. will say why not pump it out of Canada.
Let us at least know what our resource is. Let us talk to Canadians and ask them what they think about the issue. Let us not put our heads in the sand and be afraid to deal with difficult issues such as water. That is exactly what we seem to be doing and that is why Canadians are so frustrated.
Third, let us set standards. Let us work with the provinces and territories to set standards. Let us set the bar high. We are a G-8 country. We are a highly industrialized country. If we cannot set the bar high what country can?
We talk about water technology. We are selling water treatment technology to Beijing that we have not even used in Canada. We have 12 to 15 companies selling technology around the world for sewage and water treatment but we do not use it in Canada because we cannot afford it or are not committed to water quality.
Let us change that. It is negligent that we did not set and enforce standards long ago. It is government negligence. Who cares whether the federal, provincial or municipal governments are at fault? It is negligence on the part of governments not to have done something.
Fourth, we need money for infrastructure. That is always a tough one. We need to train people and acquire technology. Where do we get the money? I have been here long enough to think I could find it within the budget of planet Ottawa. So much waste goes on here in terms of unnecessary programs that do not help people that we could list page after page of it. There is money for important issues like health, water, sewage and garbage. The federal government should show leadership in working on the problem.
Lastly, we need leadership. Canadians are looking for environmental leadership. Environmental issues are not unique to one province or region; they are a universal Canadian problem. Who better to take leadership on such an important issue than the federal government? I urge the government to take leadership on alternate energy, water, sewage, garbage and clean air. I have been working on the Fraser Valley situation at Sumas and the power project. I am shocked how little concern the federal government has about air problems that are potentially going to hurt that area.
With respect to the Sydney tar ponds, Elizabeth May is sitting out there on a hunger strike. We have all kinds of these toxic sites.
We need to develop in this place a vision and a co-operative approach for Canada. Let us fix this environmental concern: today water; tomorrow all these other issues.