Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, and I do have respect for the Chair, it is relevant. All the things I will talk about have had an impact on my riding and all of them require transportation.
I will go back to what I was saying. It will be split, because not one cent has passed from the greedy government into the hands of the people who need it; not a penny. It is also interesting to note that the $110 million proposed for diversifying a primary Canadian industry just happens to be the same amount the Prime Minister spent on two new Challenger jets for his personal use; so much for Liberal priorities.
I see you are getting a little anxious here, Mr. Speaker, so let us move along. Now I will talk about the cattle industry, which is also dependent on transportation.
We had one incident in the country involving one cow. The devastation caused by that has changed the industry for evermore. There is a very good chance that some of those markets, on which we used to rely, will no longer be there because they have now been absorbed by other parts of the world and other countries will be contributing the cattle that we used to contribute.
I do not like to condemn people for nothing. It was one cow, though, and the government has taken so long to try to come up with some sort of solution, and it still has not reached one. Not only have we lost the forest industry in my riding or it has changed forever, we are now looking at the possibility of a forever and a day change in the cattle industry.
Cattlemen have been around since the start of the country. They are the original entrepreneurs. That is one more industry in Canada that has been damaged severely. When we look at the big picture, it is not hard to understand why we are not getting cooperation from the United States. Hon. members should go back to the reason I gave them for forestry. It is very difficult for the government to take a firm stand with the United States or anywhere else in the world right now because of the decisions it has made, diplomatic blunders.
The third part is tourism. That most definitely relies on roadways. We need roads and all forms of transportation if we are to diversify our economy to bring tourism up to a level that may help compensate for the losses we have suffered because of the softwood dispute, and now with cattle.
The part that is really upsetting to my residents, because the federal level of government gives so little money, in fact it gives less than a nickel for every dollar we pay in taxes on gasoline, is now we have a provincial government, which is also Liberal, poised to rent out an asset. The leasing of a major artery in the interior of British Columbia for the next three generations is providing an enticement for business people around the world. By the deadline for proposal calls this week, 28 people have penned a letter of intent and have sent it to the provincial government saying that they are interested in leasing the Coquihalla highway for the next 55 years.
I have the same reaction as the majority of the people I represent. I do not like that. I see absolutely no reason why a provincial government should be put in a position of having to lease an asset that was paid for by taxpayers because it cannot afford to keep up the road. If the federal level of government had any kind of decency, it would realize it has been gouging people for years at the gas pumps. That money was collected for a purpose. It was supposed to be for transportation and that includes roads.
I have a bit of a personal bent about the Coquihalla highway. I happen to be one of the people who cut the ribbon and opened it. It was put in place for Expo 86, which was a tremendous success. It brought in many tourists from all over the world to British Columbia and to Canada. As a result of that, we have seen changes across the entire country. British Columbia gets to take credit for part of that. It had the foresight to do these things, which worked out really well.
Like most people from my riding, I have driven the Coquihalla highway enough to actually believe that I probably own at least a kilometre of it. I have paid enough tolls and have gone over it enough times, and that is pretty much the way most people in my riding feel. They feel ownership of that highway. Therefore, when it is being jeopardized because there is not enough money to keep the highway going under provincial jurisdiction, people have a right to be upset.
The people of Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys are asking how anyone could lease out an asset that has been paid for with their tax dollars. I happen to agree, and it is a question I would like to have answered in the House.
I know what one of the answers is. From the provincial side of it, the answer is desperation. That desperation could be eliminated if that side of the House would take a serious look at what the Canadian Alliance is proposing today, which is a viable solution that hurts no one and does not increase taxes in any way, shape or form. It is just a matter of sharing.
That sometimes is something the Liberals do not do very well but I hope they will make an exception in this case because this is a very serious issue. Do we want to have highways within Canada leased out to possible foreign ownership? It is quite possible. One person who bid was from Spain. I do not think this is the direction in which we want to go. We are trying to maintain sovereignty in our country. That is not something that we really want to entertain.
The Coquihalla highway is beautiful. If anyone ever has a chance to travel it, I suggest they do so. That highway is a lifeline between the interior of British Columbia and the mainland. It carries three million passengers and vehicles per year. That is a fairly well used piece of roadway. Therefore, when we hear that people are upset, we understand why.
While the provincial government is holding garage sales of major assets, the federal government continues to take 95¢ out of every dollar collected on gas. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
In conclusion, Liberals do not think big. They have no national visions or dreams. They think paving the street in front of a Liberal voter's home is what government is all about. Canadians deserve better and are demanding better. They want government that thinks big and grasps the magnificent potential of Canada and all it various parts and its people.
We have an opportunity today to make a change that will matter. By voting in favour of this motion, we will not only eliminate a problem, we will have done it without increasing taxes. This is about common sense. Let us use it for a change in the House.