Mr. Speaker, on November 25 I asked a question in the House concerning cutbacks to the number of flights in my riding of Acadie—Bathurst. Air Canada Jazz is going to reduce the number of its flights effective January 5, 2003, the one in the morning and the one in the evening in particular.
In my own experience, when I am in the House five days a week, when the House is sitting, I leave here Saturday and come back Sunday. That is the kind of service we will have in future in northeastern New Brunswick when a flight is cut, particularly the morning flight.
What is even more important is that the company itself says that one of its problems is related to the cost of taxes, Nav Canada, the harmonized tax, the security tax and the price of fuel. All this adds to the ticket price and means fewer people use the airport, which is the only airport left in northeastern New Brunswick.
The response I got from the Minister of Transport is a regrettable one. He said:
Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the air industry has paid for all of the improvements in the various services over the last number of years, and of course air travellers are being expected to pay for the security charges.
The charges that are now being paid are going into the government's consolidated revenue fund. It is not all going to airline security, even though the industry is suffering and on the verge of going under.
It is always the rural regions that pay the price. It is not only in Acadie—Bathurst, in northeastern New Brunswick that this is happening. They have shut down in Yarmouth and in other areas and it is expected to happen in the west and across the north.
The Government of Quebec has even started to invest and give away full-fare tickets that it purchases from Air Canada Jazz, so that the company will continue to provide service in the regions. What is the federal government doing? It is doing absolutely nothing to help.
Instead, the minister said:
—usually another carrier comes in with a similar service.
Which translates as, “Close up shop, we're not helping you”.
When Air Canada was owned by the government, the company belonged to the country. Before being privatized, it had a role to play for the benefit of all Canadians, to provide service throughout the country.
Today we are seeing where privatization has led us. The company wants to make money; it chooses the best airports. It provides a service, makes pots of money, puts it in the bank, and you, Canadians, can forget about it, we are not going to give you any service.
If we go with an independent airline, what happens with the Official Languages Act, with which Air Canada is required to comply? The independent airline will wash its hands of the Official Languages Act; it will no longer need to respect it in our country.
We need to think about all of these questions. That is why I asked the minister a question. I asked him what he intended to do in rural regions to save the flights we have, to save our airports and keep our airline.