Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on the motion presented by the Bloc Quebecois. This motion simply asks the Prime Minister to leave office as soon as possible after November 14, 2003, for the good of the government.
I would like to give a very striking example. I sit on the Standing Committee on Transport. This committee has felt the impact of a change in direction by the members of the party in power, the Liberal Party. In effect, the Liberals on the committee were mostly pro-Prime Minister, that is pro member from Shawinigan. Obviously, after we returned from the break last January, there had been a change. Those who favoured the member for LaSalle—Émard had taken control.
The Transport Committee actually did some work then, because there was the airline crisis to deal with. It submitted a unanimous report, agreed to by all members of the committee. Finally, the report was flatly rejected by the government. None of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Transport were retained by the government.
The recommendations were intended to help the industry. They included reducing airport rents. They included lowering the tax on aviation fuel in order to help the industries. They also included completely abolishing the airport security tax. It was a unanimous report. It was completely rejected by the Department of Transport. It is well known that the Minister of Transport is a supporter of the member for Shawinigan. That is recognized here in the House. In fact, he is the person whom the Prime Minister trusts to lead the Department of Transport.
But now, since the month of September, since we returned to the House, nothing at all is happening in the Transport Committee. There are two bills, C-26 and C-27. I predict that they will not be passed by this House because the committee and the Liberal committee members who support the member for LaSalle—Émard have decided that these bills are not to their liking.
So, discussions will go on. We have more than 60 witnesses to hear on Bill C-26. I am giving this example and I believe the hon. members know why. In Bill C-26 there is one part, part 3 of the bill, which establishes the new VIA Rail company.
For example, the Minister of Transport announced several times officially a new rapid rail service along the Quebec City-Montreal-Windsor corridor. Obviously, it was his baby. He wanted this to happen. Since the team headed by the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard came to the Standing Committee on Transport, it is clear that the members of this team are opposed to any investments in rail transportation. They do not want this project to happen. Obviously, they are using all the means at their disposal so this bill will not be adopted.
The Minister of Transport announced that this bill was on hold. This morning, against all expectations, the Minister of Transport appeared before our committee. We expected instead to hear from government officials about budget increases. The minister arrived. He was nice enough to answer all our questions, like any other minister at the end of his mandate, meaning a minister who knows he will not be Minister of Transport much longer, in a new government.
He quite openly answered all our questions. As for VIA Rail and the Quebec City-Montreal, Montreal-Windsor rapid rail service, I want to quote him to make sure that his words are understood, “I am keeping this option for the next government”.
That was what he said. That is what the Minister of Transport said about a matter concerning Quebec and also, no doubt, Ontario. It concerned the implementation of this important corridor and rapid rail service between Quebec City-Montreal-Windsor. This is important to Quebec. Why? Because Quebec City and Montreal are tourist destinations, as are the other destinations along the corridor, including Trois-Rivières. It is important so that we can attract tourists, particularly Americans. It is important so that they can travel quickly by train so we can try to promote tourism. This is an important project.
In response to my questions, the minister said that cabinet did not support him and added that the current government—and he said the name of the current Prime Minister, the member for Saint-Maurice—could not afford to invest several hundreds of millions of dollars, that we would have to wait for the next government.
Why would there not be a motion in this House today dealing with this current issue, when even the Minister of Transport tells us to wait for the next government for major investments? I am saying this because the journalists are asking for the minutes. There will be talk about it tomorrow. That is the reality. The reality is that the government is paralyzed. We are waiting for the next government.
What should we tell our constituents in Quebec, those who are hoping for a Quebec City-Montreal-Windsor rapid rail service? What do we say to those who would also like there to be a Montreal-Boston corridor to attract American tourists to enjoy the sights of Quebec and the rest of Canada? What do we say to them? We are waiting for the next government.
The point we are trying to make in this House is that we want to see the next government as soon as possible. We want the current leader of the government, the member for Saint-Maurice, to step down after November 14, and no longer be the leader of the government. It is as simple as that. We should not have to go through what we went through today, where government decisions are blocked and delayed because we are waiting for a new government.
It is not just any member who made that statement. I am not quoting Liberal backbenchers. It was the Minister of Transport talking about a current issue, and what he said was “I am keeping this option for the next government”.
Again, this is unacceptable to us. Quebec needs as much investment as possible to develop tourism, among other things. I need hardly tell you how difficult this past year was for the tourism industry. We all know it.
After the war in Iraq, the number of American tourists decreased. And SARS also had a negative impact on the number of foreign tourists. We need to do everything we can to create projects that will attract tourists. For example, we could reduce the waiting time to travel to Quebec City, Montreal, Trois-Rivières, the Drummondville area and all the most beautiful places in Quebec and in the rest of Canada. This is a current issue that needs to be discussed.
Today, in the Standing Committee on Transport, this issue was totally swept aside for the simple reason that the present government is unable to commit funds. We have to wait for the new government, or at least that is what the transport minister said.
It is just as if we were waiting for the next election. It makes no sense. It makes no sense that we do not even have the support of Liberal members. When they hear that, they should understand very quickly that the point is not to have a new government. If they want a new government, they just have to call an election immediately after November 14. Otherwise, nothing will get done until next spring, until the member for LaSalle—Émard takes over as head of the government. That is the reality.
I am aware that, like my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles said, some committees can go about their work. They scrutinize the former administration. But as far as I know, the sponsorship program has been put forward by the former finance minister, the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard. They would have us believe that he will do away with the sponsorship program, but he is the one who set it up.
We should be consistent. I hope a few Liberal members, at least in Quebec, will demonstrate some consistency. And I hope they listen to what their constituents have to say.
The federal government has a lot of money, as we saw again yesterday. The news has been repeated today. The budget surplus stands at $7 billion instead of the forecast $3 billion. Important decisions should be made. If all the ministers say the present government cannot make commitments of millions of dollars because they have to wait for another government, it means the government will stay put until next spring, and that the economy in Quebec and the rest of Canada will be paralyzed.
I am not surprised that the unemployment rate is rising, for the simple reason that Liberal members are unable to take their responsibilities. Otherwise they would vote with us for this motion so that we would have a new leader, so that the government would keep doing its work, and so that the present Prime Minister would leave office after November 14.