House of Commons Hansard #10 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was transport.


International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Chambly—Borduas, employment insurance.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, you will understand that it is with barely contained excitement that I join the debate on Bill C-4 which, on the surface, might seem very dry and technical, but still has its romantic side. I will get back to this later on.

Having said that, while we support the bill, as all my predecessors have said, there is nevertheless a certain amount of disappointment . The member for Outremont and Minister of Transport was so outspoken during the electoral campaign. All my colleagues remember this. He said that he would be very vigilant in defending Quebec's interests. Given what the member for Outremont has been saying, we would have expected one or two legislative initiatives before the introduction of Bill C-4.

Not that this bill is not important. I will get back to this. It is a bill to implement international conventions that give loan guarantees and that pertain to a whole series of processes for mortgages, mobile equipment and aircraft registries. We are not saying that it is not important since a number of industrialized countries have signed on to this convention. However, would it not have been more important for this House to deal first with former Bill C-26? Would it not have been more important for the Minister of Transport to take his responsibilities and reintroduce former Bill C-26 that gave the Canadian Transportation Agency--a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal--power to mediate in those cases where the railway companies do not act properly or do not respect the surrounding communities?

I am sure that, through you, we could ask those members who represent ridings where railway companies show no respect for the local communities, making noise and switching engines at all hours of the dayi n a residential area, to raise their hand. In my riding of Hochelaga, on Moreau street, the CP is operating 24/7. I have been told that, in the Lévis area, this very beautiful area of Quebec's national capital, a former mayor has called the Government of Canada on this matter. In Outremont, there is a switching yard. Some of our fellow citizens are being deprived of their quality of life, by a lack of respect, a lack of regulations. When the transportation agency proposed regulations, the CP went to court. As a result, the Federal Court of Appeal brought down a decision, saying that the transportation agency did not have jurisdiction to propose such regulations.

All this to say that, when my amiable colleague from Longueuil and transportation critic spoke this morning, she urged the Minister of Transport to restore former Bill C-26. We need legislation like that, because, in every province, in every community, there are railway companies behaving like barons of industry, interested only in money and with little or no regard for our fellow citizens. When, in a residential area, a person lives next to a railroad track, has to fight with railway companies behaving in an irresponsible fashion, we believe it is the role of this Parliament and of the Minister of Transport to become more vigilant and to introduce a bill to remedy the situation much sooner than they have.

Were we not entitled to expect—we have been talking about it in the Bombardier file—that we would be presented with a policy on aeronautics and aerospace? Every time the federal government prepared to fulfill its responsibilities in the area of transportation, it failed miserably. The oldest members in this House—not in chronological terms, but the oldest politically speaking, those who were here before the June 2004 election—can recall the disaster brought about by the Minister of Transport with his policy of divestment of wharves in smaller ports.

The government wanted to entrust the management of these ports to the communities, but without making the necessary resources available. If it had not been for the members of the Bloc, this file would just about have gone unnoticed by the Quebec Liberal caucus.

People will recall, of course, as the member for d'Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel mentioned, the boondoggle created by Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I can think of no other words to describe the white elephant that the whole issue of the Mirabel airport became. It was the kind of anarchic way of doing things that was questioned.

I could also talk about shipping. As you know, I have been the member for Hochelaga since 1993. In the 1980s, not that long ago, shipyards in Canada, in my constituency and in various provinces were closed. I do not know how old you were then, Mr. Speaker, but I am sure you were sufficiently aware and interested in public affairs that you can remember that.

In Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, generations had worked for the MIL Vickers Inc., a shipbuilding industry. In the 1980s, we realized there was a 30% shipping overcapacity throughout the world. The decline in this industry is not due to any lack of vigour on the part of the workforce, but to a lack of will to continue improving our product and technologies. These workers were left to their own resources, and the federal government shunned its responsibilities.

The provinces did take theirs. I remember the excellent government of René Lévesque—and I am talking here with the objectivity I am known for—had already suggested elements of a policy to help workers adjust and move to another career.

I am sure my colleagues remember the Program for Older Worker Adjustment, or POWA, which goes back to the days of Brian Mulroney's Conservatives. The initiator of this program was minister Cadieux. This program had a big flaw. In communities with a population of over 100,000 residents, like Montreal, 100 workers had to be laid off for them to be eligible. We had layoffs in a number of communities, but POWA could not kick in because the number of laid off workers was not high enough.

On several occasions, Bloc Québécois members introduced bills to rectify this situation, but the government never provided any support to get such a bill passed.

This file has been a disaster right from the beginning. The Mirabel file is a disaster too. When it comes to shipyards, the government missed the boat.

I remember the excellent work done by the former member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, whom I can call by name now since he no longer is an MP. I am sure you have fond memories of him too, Mr. Speaker. I am talking about Mr. Antoine Dubé. On several occasions he put forward bills and organized workers to get the federal government to invest in a shipbuilding policy, to help workers at the then Lévis shipyard.

I am sure Mr. Dubé's successor, the member for Lévis—Bellechasse, who, as you know, is a Bloc Québécois members, will keep on urging the federal government to come up with a shipbuilding policy.

I digress. We might reasonably have expected other bills to come before Bill C-4.

But let us back to Bill C-4. We will support it at least at this stage. We will see if we can continue supporting it in committee. As the member for Longueuil said with her traditional dynamism we will support the bill in principle.

We are aware that they are differences between Canada and Germany with regard to the law. In Canada, even though the executive might ratify an international convention, it does not in itself create law. In Germany, it does. They have a monist system. As soon as the executive creates or signs a convention, it creates law.

Here in Canada for a convention to be implemented, we need an implementation bill. Bill C-4 is exactly that.

I am sure that television viewers are anxious to know that Bill C-4 seeks to implement international agreements. What are these agreements? They are the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment.

What do we want to achieve through these conventions? We want to change somewhat the rules of the game in the international aerospace industry. Let us face it: if there is an industry that has been affected by globalization, it is the aerospace industry. A number of companies have their head office in Montreal or in Toronto. Many subcontractors are involved in the building of an aircraft. Sometimes, subcontractors may even be located abroad.

When an aircraft is built, creditors involved in the funding process will sometime ask for loan guarantees. The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques knows about this, because he follows very closely what is happening on the international scene. When such guarantees are requested, they must of course be provided. It is what is commonly called a mortgage.

Incidentally, this notion is studied in law school. While I would definitely not go so far as to say that these are the most popular courses, students must pass them, because they are mandatory.

When mortgages are sought to provide funding, those who provide them may ask for guarantees. We could have a situation where an international consortium may be the debtor regarding various equipment located abroad, in different countries, and incorporated under different laws.

Bill C-4 proposes to harmonize all this, so that things will be a little clearer. This legislation is good for both creditors and debtors. The bill even proposes an international registry in which the names of all those involved in commercial transactions relating to aircraft would be listed.

Therefore, it would be difficult for the Bloc Québécois not to support such a bill, or at least its underlying principle. However, we remain just as disappointed by the fact that Bill C-4 was given priority over other measures which, we feel, should have taken precedence.

Let us take the example of Bombardier. As members know, I represent a riding of Montreal and I would like to say a few words about Bombardier.

We know that Bombardier is currently being courted by many. The media is reporting that some U.S. states—our neighbours to the south—and European countries, have made concrete proposals. Bombardier has been offered several million dollars for its expertise in aircraft, especially for 100 and 110 seat airplanes.

The Minister of Transport has been very vocal in other arenas, but not very firm when it comes to defending Quebec's interests. We would have expected him to defend Bombardier's interests a little more vigorously.

When we think of modern day Quebec, we think of a certain number of things: René Lévesque's political party financing legislation, the Quebec education system, CEGEPs, and so on, but also the aeronautics industry. Generations of workers in today's Quebec—Quebec since the Quiet Revolution—have worked in the aeronautics and aerospace industry. In today's fiercely competitive market, Bombardier is not in a vulnerable position, but in a highly competitive position.

That is why in the previous Parliament, the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup will recall, the Bloc Québécois was extremely clear in its call for better funding for Technology Partnerships Canada. We feel that public funds are needed in situations like the one Bombardier is in.

My colleagues will agree that we in the Bloc Québécois are not extreme interventionists. However, we find that the lending package that Technology Partnerships Canada provides is a connection between private enterprise and the role of the government. That is why we think it is important for the Minister of Transport to deal with this issue.

I do not know what my colleagues think, but I was very unhappy when I heard the Minister of Transport say in two or three televised news reports that there would be no counteroffers. What a thing to say. As though it were a question of counteroffers. Of course not. Public funds have to be used wisely.

From the time that a proposal is put on the table, that jobs are at risk in Quebec and, thus, that there is a threat to one of our most important industrial sectors, is it not the role of the transport minister, particularly if he is a Quebecker, to put a proposal on the table? One would have expected him to make a formal proposal rather than serving us up a clever but meaningless speech which is actually a denial of responsibility.

It is in situations like this that Quebecers will realize how well advised they were, in June, to put their confidence in the 54 members of the Bloc Québécois. Rest assured that the Bloc Québécois will work relentlessly to make sure that those jobs are not lost to the Americans. It will also make sure that the Minister of Transport tables a proposal at the appropriate time. Finally, the Bloc Québécois will try to make sure that Bombardier remains among the 20 top industries of the aeronautics sector. This is no small matter.

In light of the success Bombardier has achieved, we should not hesitate to act and answer the call of these members of the business community.

When I was elected in 1993, I think you were in your early twenties. Lucien Bouchard asked me to take on the file of the restructuring of the military industry into a civil industry and the file of technology. I was somewhat surprised by his choice. I am a big-hearted person, but I had trouble hooking up my VCR; I was not very knowledgeable about technology. However, I took an interest in this file and I discovered that there was a program called DIPP or Defence Industry Productivity Program.

As a critic, when I delved into--

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member for Hochelaga, but his time has expired. The hon. member for Windsor West.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to rise again today in the House to talk about this important issue. As always, my colleague is very passionate in the House.

Since 9/11 we have seen a lot of things happen to the world. The aerospace industry in particular has been hard hit. Here are some simple facts. Over 35 major international airlines have gone bankrupt since 9/11, and those jobs in Canada have dropped by 13,000 to approximately 40,000, a drop of about 25%. We are looking at specific circumstances that have really made the industry capitulate in unusual ways. It is important to recognize that we need a specific plan that is transparent and accountable to the Canadian public. Similar to that with Ottawa, I have been arguing as well.

I have a question for my colleague. I believe this is an issue for Canada. My colleague has done a good job of talking about the effects on Quebec and how evolved this industry is there, but I know that in other parts of Ontario and also in the rest of the country there is very much a connectedness to this particular problem we are facing. We have to ensure that whatever we do we are going to roll out a program or changes that will be beneficial for all of Canada, because all the pieces connect to a healthy industry. As the member has demonstrated in his discussion, it is not just one area that is involved. We are facing the world with respect to competition.

I would ask the member to describe the industry's connection to Quebec but also to the rest of Canada.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank our colleague from Windsor West for his question. It is true that there are, outside Quebec, important industrial centres which are linked to the aeronautics and aerospace industry. I know that such centres exist in Ontario.

I believe that what our colleague meant by his statement is that, unfortunately, the federal government failed miserably at what one would have expected from a responsible government, that is developing a real aerospace and aeronautics policy.

There are elements supporting this. As our colleagues in the Bloc Québécois have shown, the Technology Partnerships Canada program can provide strong support for this program. However, the reality is that every time a federal government has been called upon to have a somewhat enlightened short, mid- and long-term policy, it has not been able do so.

In the area of transportation, the federal government's leitmotif has always been to shift the responsibilities into the provinces' backyard. We were talking a while ago of the ports divestment policy, which did not include the financial resources needed. We were also discussing earlier on the airport activity sector. I gave the rail industry as an example. How different can things be with incentives? There are several countries around the world where the rail industry plays a much more important role.

The federal government took no interest in these questions. It did not invest the financial resources needed. Above all, it ignored a very important word: intermodality. Indeed, the very development of the trucking industry is inextricably linked with each of its components.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the member for Hochelaga and I understand the challenge for a province like Quebec. It is certainly not dissimilar to an area of my province, northern Ontario, where for a number of years now the government and financiers have turned their backs on the industry that has supported us for a long time and would probably be better suited to providing good paying jobs for people. We have kind of turned our backs on that and have become infatuated in many ways with the new high tech e-commerce type industry out there.

Canada has fallen behind in further research and development and investment in industries such as the auto sector. In my part of the world it is in the mining and the manufacturing of steel industries, and in Quebec it is in the aerospace industry. I think it is a very important and real challenge to the government.

In particular, the member suggested that the Minister of Transport had a lot to say during the election but that he had fallen a bit silent now that he was part of the inner circle of government in terms of the kinds of things he might put in place.

Perhaps the member for Hochelaga might speak a bit about some of what he thinks should be put in place that would concretely support the aerospace industry in Quebec, not dissimilar from my colleague from Windsor who is concerned about the auto strategy and my own concern with how we support and help the resource based industry that exists in northern Ontario.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I have three comments on the speech made by our colleague from Sault Ste. Marie, a new NDP member I believe.

First of all, the aerospace industry is a labour intensive and costly industry. These also are small businesses. They are not all companies like Bombardier. Bombardier of course comes easily to mind because we hear a lot about it in the media these days. However, I have statistics here that will probably reinforce the member for Sault Ste. Marie's belief that it is an industry that is much more fragmented than we might think it is.

I do not know what is going on on the other side of the border as well . However, we know that the sales in the Quebec aerospace industry amount to $14 billion. It gives work to 40,000 people, half the number of jobs in the high technology sector in Canada. More important still, 240 of the 250 businesses in this sector are small and medium size businesses.

So, as far as small and medium size businesses are concerned, it is important to have a certain access to venture capital. It is important to be able to count on adequate research and development programs. This is not what we call a one shot deal. In the research and development cycles, we sometimes have to go back two, three or four times. This is why research and development funds are so important. I hope that the Minister of National Defence realizes this.

Unfortunately, Technology Partnerships Canada is underfunded. I urge the minister to get this on the agenda at the next cabinet meeting. If we cannot count on the member for Outremont, maybe we can count on the Minister of National Defence. What is clear is that more money is needed in the Technology Partnerships Canada program. The Bloc members have been calling for such an increase for at least five years now.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Madam Speaker, my question is for the member for Hochelaga. I will first thank him. As we can see, the experience he has gained in this place and elsewhere representing his riding is considerable and varied, and he shared it with us as he spoke on the transport issue. He did not stick to the bill, but covered a lot of things to make it clear that the issue is broad. In fact, it encompasses not only air transport, but surface and maritime transport as well. His approach is very much appreciated.

The transport minister spoke of upping the ante when we debate this and he said that other countries had shown interest in Bombardier's technology and in helping Bombardier financially as well. It would seem that we should be speaking of opportunities rather than of upping the ante. We should be discussing the opportunities we are afforded. With respect to this, I would like to know how the member for Hochelaga sees things at present in which the government is failing to support, as he said earlier, a flagship of our aerospace industry.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank our colleague for his speech. This recalls a chapter of our history, the history of the sovereignty movement that is.

We must remember that in the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s, when we compared the internal and external investments made in research and development, Quebec was clearly disadvantaged. I recall seeing the list of the research and development centres in Ontario and Quebec: it was three to one.

What a company like Bombardier did was to ensure research and development in the aerospace industry. This is why the transport minister must answer the call, and make sure the jobs related to Bombardier stay in Quebec. Such is the challenge, and you can count on the Bloc Québécois to ensure that is the direction taken.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Christian Simard Bloc Beauport, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today. First, I congratulate you on your appointment and your presence here this afternoon.

There is no doubt that for a new member of Parliament, it is both an honour and cause for nervousness to speak after such distinguished colleagues as the members for Hochelaga, Chambly—Borduas and Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

We are dealing here with a technical bill. Actually, it is quite symptomatic to have highly technical bills at the beginning of a new session. It is symptomatic of this Liberal or neo-Liberal administration to introduce a stopgap solution to problems—as it unfortunately seems to be doing with the submarines—instead of coming up with actual policies.

I was born in Chicoutimi, where my family still lives. I realize that I have always been in contact with the transport industry. In my childhood, I remember that we used to go and watch the famous white ships of Canada Steamship Lines. At that time, they did not belong the Prime Minister's family but rather to the Soeurs de la charité of Quebec City. We do not know much about that. I was also distressed to see that this marine industry, which was the engine of economic development, disappeared, as usual because of a lack of vision or policy.

Later on, I moved to the North Shore. I lived in Baie-Comeau. The port of Baie-Comeau is also suffering from underfunding and has been all but abandoned by the Liberal government. This is due to reforms that are stillborn, if I may put it that way, reforms that do not go all the way, that lack means. Because of that, Baie-Comeau, which was once a vital component of the Quebec economy, is now sliding into a kind of economic stagnation that is often due to shortsighted policies and to a lack of understanding of transportation.

I now represent the Beauport—Limoilou riding, just opposite the Davie shipyard. My colleague from Lévis—Bellechasse was telling me that there are now only eight workers left in a shipyard that certainly employed more than 2,000 people at one point. It is very disturbing to see this yard, which has the biggest dry dock in Canada, crumbling because of a lack of policy that very often, let us face it, unfortunately discriminates against Quebec.

Of course we reiterate our general support for the principle of Bill C-4. We are sometimes disappointed to see the very narrow focus of the bills that are introduced, but sometimes they are necessary. The Bloc Québécois agrees with the principle of the bill.

We will recall that the purpose of this bill is to implement two international agreements, namely the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the related Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment. These two agreements were negotiated under the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, with the poetic acronym of UNIDROIT, and the International Civil Aviation Organization, whose headquarters are in Montreal, as we all know. In fact, that is no coincidence; it is headquartered in Montreal because Montreal is an important centre.

Hon. members know that I come from Quebec's national capital. As I indicated earlier, I have lived in the regions, but the economic vitality of Montreal is benefiting all of Quebec. And when we have centres as major a Montreal, we have to help them and their industries. Helping Montreal benefits the workers of Hochelaga as much as those of Beauport—Limoilou.

I would also like to share with you, Madam Speaker, something I feel is important for you to know. I have extensive experience in the field of sustainable development and environmental protection. I also worked in social housing.

What matters in sustainable development is the notions of environmental protection, of sustainability of resources, of equity and employability. Sustainable development requires that people have work, that their industry not be undermined, and that governments provide the support necessary to promote a fairer and more equitable society which shares its resources.

Unfortunately, that is not what we have at present. Here is a bill to better articulate the financing of heavy transportation equipment. We are talking about aircraft, but other similar legislation will be required in areas like aerospace, satellites, and rail. The protocols and conventions for those areas are not quite ready.

So, the government introduces an itsy bit of policy, this itsy bit of legislation to deal with financing, the mortgage and guarantees to secure financing and to have comparable international rules with respect to the financing and the procurement of air materiel.

At the present time, 32 countries have signed or ratified the convention and the protocol. Canada did so in March 2004 and the European Union has plans to do so. So this is all pretty recent. I would remind hon. members—since I believe there is an educational aspect to this House—that the purpose of the agreements is to ensure that countries have harmonized legislation when it comes to securities—what the rest of us might call mortgages—placed by lenders on mobile assets such as aircraft or trains.

As well, the agreements call for the creation of an international registry of aircraft, which would make it possible for lenders to readily determine the condition of a plane or to know whether there is a security against it and if so how much and by whom. Hon. members are aware that registries are important, or at least if they are properly kept.

Once again, unfortunately, we cannot say that the Liberal government's administration of such registries has impressed us much. One need only think of the firearms registry, and how laxly it was managed, with the result that the majority of Canadians and Quebeckers withdrew their support of candidates they associated with that government in this last election.

At the present time, much confusion reigns as far as the financing of aircraft is concerned. An airline can be subject to the law of one country, have loans from lenders in two different countries, owe money to an aircraft engine manufacturer in a fourth country, who has placed a security on one engine in the event of non-payment. In short a situation as clear as mud, as they say.

If these countries do not have harmonized legislation, particularly concerning the order in which creditors are paid off, endless court battles could ensue, leading to long and costly delays when an airline is no longer able to make its payments.

As well, contradictory legislation causes a great deal of uncertainty and increases the risks for lenders, who offset this by charging high interest rates. One might describe what is called in Latin the statu quo ante , or previous situation, as a total financial mess. No matter what term one uses, the reality is that there is total confusion, an unworkable situation that prevented harmonious international commerce.

Currently every country keeps its own aircraft registry using its own criteria, which might be confusing. The passing of this bill and the passing of similar pieces of legislation in other countries in the world will help put an end to such confusion, decrease the risks for lenders and, therefore, for borrowers. So doing they will help improve the ability for air carriers to get airplanes. This will give the aircraft industry a hand, which is good I think.

I am talking about giving the aircraft industry a hand, but we could talk about giving it a finger because what would really help the aircraft industry would be a real aeronautics policy to keep jobs in Montreal and at Bombardier. We are not talking about peanuts; we are talking about 5,000 jobs that are at stake. Due to a lack of policy, workers in the aircraft industry face an uncertain future.

The Bloc Québécois demands an aeronautics and aerospace policy covering important elements. It would support industrial research. With close to a third of high-tech exports, Quebec is way ahead of the other Canadian provinces. When it comes to the number of jobs in the high-tech industry, the Montreal area comes second in North America behind the famous Silicon Valley in California, well-known for producing computers and for its high-tech industry in general.

Telecommunications, aircraft, aircraft engines and parts are among the ten top exports from Quebec. Quebec has climbed to the sixth place in terms of sales generated by the aerospace industry. Montreal is the fourth city in North America for the number of jobs in the bio-pharmaceutical industry. Quebec industries are innovative. Industrial research is the only area in which Quebec gets its fair share of federal research and development funding.

All this is being threatened by the government's procrastination and lack of vision. Currently several American states are courting Bombardier, which is seeking help and not getting any.

With 31 per cent of Canada's high-tech exports, Quebec industries are getting 30 per cent of federal funding. That being said, even though Quebec is getting its share, as a whole funding is grossly inadequate.

Developing a high tech product, be it a drug or an airplane, takes time and costs a lot of money. At this stage, government financing is vital. As the member for Hochelaga and my distinguished colleagues have said previously, the funding of the Technology Partnerships Canada program is stagnant. In constant dollars, it has actually decreased, with the result that we can no longer support this industry.

Furthermore, the government is starting to receive royalties for products whose development was financed in part with public money. Indeed, the Technology Partnerships Canada program is a risk sharing program established in 1996. Through this program, Ottawa invests in research and development. Then, once a product is marketed, five, ten or fifteen years later, the government gets its money back through royalties.

The government is starting to receive these royalties. And while industrial research spending is increasing by about 8% a year, government investment in the Technology Partnerships Canada program remains about the same. Eight years after being launched, this program is now clearly underfunded. This seriously threatens the aerospace industry, the flagship of Quebec industry as we have pointed out earlier.

Our aerospace industry, which exports 89% of its production, must be in a position to stand up to competitors, which get much more support. In the United States, this support comes from the military industry, and in Brazil, the industry gets a permanent and massive support from the government.

The Minister of Transport told us we should avoid a subsidy war, but we should not turn a blind eye either. We should not ignore the problem, but we should realize the competition is international. If, strangely enough, we let down an industry that creates wealth in Quebec while we support the automobile industry in Ontario, this will be an unacceptable double standard.

We are in an society where jobs should be supported. We should not support lame ducks, but we should help successful industries. The aerospace industry is successful. This is not a joke. Nobody wants an open bar or a subsidy war. I think some are indulging in theatrics or try to hide the facts in order to avoid responding to this emergency.

The impact of not responding right now with a serious offer and a partnership with Bombardier would be extremely serious. We risk losing a massive number of jobs. This lack of vision and policy could cost us dearly.

During the election campaign, the Minister of Transport made a habit of using shock formulas and distasteful images that evoke the funds received by the Liberal Party. The management of a department or of policies is not a matter that can be handled in a 10-second clip on television, or by saying that one is against interventionism, when there was a lot of intervention in sponsorships, and the management of the gun registry, which was completely botched.

The government intervenes a lot to take away from working and unemployed Quebeckers and Canadians what is rightfully theirs. In these cases, it is very interventionist.

When the time comes to pay off a deficit on the backs of the provinces and the unemployed, when the government hides surpluses in an incredible way—we are talking about $9.1 billion instead of $1.8 billion—we realize that this government is characterized by secrecy, lack of vision and arrogance. As a result, there is no policy to support programs. We are always in a minefield. We are always facing the possibility of losing jobs and emptying the regions.

This lack of policy does not relate only to transportation; these are realities. We find ourselves without a consistent employment policy. The government undermines employment insurance, as my colleague from Chambly—Borduas has demonstrated. It does not allow youth who have seasonal jobs to stay in their region in the winter, perhaps to create a small business. It sends them instead to urban areas such as Quebec City or Montreal. It sends them to cities, which literally empties the regions. It fears after the fact that Montreal and Quebec City will have the same problem. This lack of policy is very negative.

What we are calling for is a policy to help Bombardier, not only very specific bills, framework legislation and broad views which should not be used to spend public money but to attract industries and improve what is already functioning well.

Obviously, even if Bill C-4 is a step in the right direction in terms of financing the purchase of aircraft equipment, it does not solve the real problem of Quebec's aerospace industry, which is the lack of an aerospace policy.

Bombardier is being courted by three American states who would like the company to set up shop there for the construction of its 110 and 115 seat airplanes. According to the CBC, these states are all offering over $700 million. Can we accept the Minister of Transport's response that the government does not want a bidding war? Could this not be translated to mean that the government does not want to intervene and that it will let the American market dictate where our jobs will go? It is extremely cynical and dangerous. This is playing with fire.

I hope this will not be the only response of the Minister of Transport and that someone, somewhere, is trying to reach an agreement with Bombardier and to support this job-creating industry. However, if this is not the case, if there is no policy to quickly reach a solution on an urgent basis, I think such an attitude would border on irresponsibility. They will then have no excuse for saying that they thought the American states were bluffing and that they were not serious.

Quebec's aerospace industry, which has annual sales of $14 billion and employs more than 40,000 workers, represents almost half of high-technology jobs in Canada. Of the 250 businesses in the sector, 240 are small and medium-sized businesses. As Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said, the aerospace industry is to Quebec what the automotive industry is to Ontario. If the automotive sector gets help, so should the aerospace sector.

It is urgent that this government implement an aerospace policy.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.


Réal Lapierre Bloc Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Madam Speaker, what pleases me about these last few speakers is that I was touched by the remarks by two members concerning something that happened in my riding. In my riding, I must admit, there was a shipyard working full out; it had hired over 3,000 people at one time and now, unfortunately, hires practically no one. This is despite the fact that the shipyard in question has one of the most modern dry docks in Canada and leading-edge equipment.

Here is the question I want to put to my colleague. In fields such as shipping, the fact of having a shipping policy will at least enable our most efficient shipyards to survive. Once again, the province of Quebec is directly targeted, because of the seaports that have already closed and others that are on the verge, and also because of the aerospace and aeronautics industry. Why is it that we are always arguing about the reasons for trying to give a legitimate birth to policies that could help us survive? Why is it that in Ontario, during the election campaign, these arguments did not have to be double-checked in order to get confirmation of Liberal Party support to help the automobile industry survive?

Therefore, I ask the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou how he can explain that we must always go over these elements point by point even though they are quite obvious, because they are part of our daily lives? No one here in this House is denying that Ontario's auto industry is efficient. Thank heavens, it is.

On the other hand, how is it that in Quebec, where we have the credentials that prove how efficient we are, we must constantly struggle to achieve a minimum of legislation and, in particular, with respect to the amounts of money needed as guarantees so that we can make better progress in the international competition we face?

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5:40 p.m.


Christian Simard Bloc Beauport, QC

Madam Speaker, Beauport—Limoilou is a beautiful riding if ever there was one.

I would like to thank my colleagues for their questions. I ask myself the same questions. We can come up with answers, but it is up to the government to respond to these questions that are so unsettling for all Quebeckers.

It seems as though this is a country in which we unfortunately do not belong. One day we will have our own country, we hope. We are all working toward that goal.

In this country of Canada, everything happens in Toronto. In some cities, they used to talk about everything happening somewhere else, but now everything happens in Toronto. It is like the French who, in their centralist country, felt like everything was in Paris. Here we feel like everything is in Toronto.

Maybe we can come up with an answer for my colleague from Lévis—Bellechasse. During the last election campaign, the Liberals said they would not reform employment insurance immediately. The poor member—I can use his name since he is no longer in the House of Commons, unfortunately for him—the former member for Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok, George Farrah said, “You know, we cannot all win.” In Toronto, they are not sure why so much money would go to the unemployed since there is not much unemployment in Toronto.

There is a misunderstanding about what makes Quebec strong and what is less urgent. I do not believe that it is necessarily a conscious anti-Quebec reaction; it is the ignorance of the famous two solitudes. At the end of the day, despite the opening speeches and the theoretical respect for provincial jurisdictions, there is still encroachment. Industry never gets the support it needs and things have to start over from scratch.

I was listening to the Minister of Finance during oral question period. He did not know that Desjardins—Quebec's largest financial institution—had not even been retained as a broker in the Petro-Canada matter. The Minister of Finance was not aware of that. Yet, this was front page news. The government does not respect one of Canada's largest financial institutions and the single largest one in Quebec. It does not think that Valeurs mobilières Desjardins deserves to be recognized as a broker.

It is this whole culture, this mix of ignorance and lack of understanding, that has carried a political weight for this government, which now finds itself in a minority situation. The Liberals will carry this weight for a long time. If they maintain this lack of understanding and this centralizing federalism, it is my hope that, some day, we will build a country for ourselves, we will have our own country. If they cannot help our aerospace industry, we will, provided we are given the means to do so.

In the meantime, we are paying taxes. We should get something in return. This is good for Quebec, for workers in Montreal and for the whole Quebec society. We hope that, some day, this government will understand this reality.

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5:45 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario


Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague across the way, and I have been listening to the Bloc members all afternoon. Although they are supporting the bill, I have to give them credit for wanting to voice their opinions and get back to their constituents their points of view.

I took exception to one thing the member said. He said that everything is centred in Toronto. I have to remind my colleague that this country goes from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Victoria, B.C., from the 49th parallel right up to Resolute Bay. Everything is not centred in Toronto, although geographically, if one throws a dart on a map of Canada, it might hit Toronto or Winnipeg.

The country is a vast. Members of Parliament are from all over Canada. We are here to exchange ideas and views. I think my colleague might want to reconsider when he says that everything is centred in Toronto. Certainly I hear from a lot of constituents and colleagues in Toronto how much they enjoy it every time they travel to Quebec, or drive to Montreal or to other areas of Canada. Singling out members and saying that everything is centred in Toronto is like saying Toronto is bad, which is quite the opposite.

I remind my colleague that Toronto is the economic engine of the country. However, we do not see it that way. We see the country as inclusive. If my colleague has different ideas, I am sure he might want to reconsider or if he has a focus with a blinders on, I really feel sorry for him.

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5:45 p.m.


Christian Simard Bloc Beauport, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to reply to the hon. member's question.

I have travelled a lot across this country called Canada, this strange confederation that looks more like a centralizing federation than the confederation that we would expect to respect the respective powers of its members. Everywhere, I have seen the enormous weight of Ontario. I have been involved in cooperative housing and in the environment. We could show figures indicating that Ontario always gets proportionally more in subsidies than its demographic weight justifies. Conservative members often raise this issue. Indeed, western provinces also feel that the distribution pattern is unfair.

For a long time, Montreal was Canada's economic metropolis. This is no longer the case. Why? Perhaps because of policies that did not promote Montreal's development, policies that did not respect the Quebec reality and that did not support Quebec. The hon. member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour knows, like me, that policies that benefit Toronto at the expense of Montreal, with the result that over the years a lot of capital money has left our province, are nothing knew. We no longer want to experience this in Quebec. We have too much dignity for that.

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5:50 p.m.


Marc Boulianne Bloc Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, the riding of Mégantic—L'Érable is indeed a beautiful one. Riches of all kinds are to be found there: granite, chrysotile asbestos, maple syrup. This is quite important.

I would first want to congratulate you, Madam Speaker, on your appointment. I also want to congratulate my colleague for Beauport—Limoilou, who gave us a heartening speech on Bill C-4. I would also like to congratulate the member for Hochelaga. Earlier, he gave us the full background of the various modes of transport. To me, this is important. This afternoon, we were given historical explanations, which were very interesting.

As for Bill C-4, an act to implement the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment, the Bloc Québécois gives its approval in principle. After all, there are important issues here. In fact, it was mentioned earlier that two contracts will be honoured. We have the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and, secondly, the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment. When all this is implemented, laws on guarantees—which we agree with—will be better harmonized and there will also be less confusion.

This is still something important, which is why the Bloc agrees in part with this bill. It can be supported in principle; however, as I mentioned earlier, the bill is incomplete. Even though it goes in the right direction, the fact is that the real problem of the aerospace industry is the lack of policies. Indeed, there are problems that are major and that remain so.

For example, there is the Bombardier problem. It is around this issue that the bill should evolve and be converted into policy. My colleague from Hochelaga talked at length about competition; some American states want this company to move to the United States and they offer many opportunities. These are major competitors, which have a lot of money and offer much more that Canada can offer. We must focus on this project to solve the Bombardier case once and for all.

What is Ottawa doing in this issue? It has a wait and see approach. It supports research in a very anemic way. I believe research and development to be the central point of a major policy. The Technology Partnerships Canada program, even though it is funded at a certain level, is still underfunded. The same goes for the export contracts that are supported; there are still very few of them.

There are still problems that Bill C-4 does not solve. This is why it is vital to put in place a real policy. The hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou said earlier that, in Quebec, the aerospace industry's sales amounted to $14 billion. We will keep repeating it. It is very important. This industry employs more than 40,000 people. This is half of all high technology jobs in Canada.

The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel said another very important thing earlier. It is about SMEs. I will come back later to the role of SMEs, which, in our ridings and regions in particular, create jobs. Consequently, it is very urgent for the government to not only talk, but to act. When the minister and hon. member for Outremont says that the aerospace industry is to Quebec what the automobile industry is to Ontario, the words must not be hollow. The companies must also be supported, meaningfully. It is important.

The Bloc Québécois raised some very important points for the development of a real aerospace policy. They can summarized in the following three main elements: first, support industrial research. We talked about it earlier, it is essential. We must also encourage exports and, as I said earlier, we must support SMEs.

We talk about supporting industrial research, telecommunications, planes, engines, aircraft parts, which are among the top ten exports in Quebec. Quebec has climbed to the sixth place with regard to sales generated by the aerospace sector. It is a well-known fact that Quebec is the fourth North American city when it comes to the number of jobs in the bio-pharmaceutical industry.

Quebec industries are constantly evolving. They are innovative. Industrial research must be subsidized to the maximum. The same goes for high-tech exports. Again, the federal funding is inadequate. It is clearly not enough.

It takes a lot of time and money to develop a high tech product , be it an aircraft or a drug. It is not enough to quote statistics and say how much you give. It takes subsidies and time to develop a product.

If research is under-funded, the industry is jeopardized. It was mentioned earlier. The industry becomes anemic and does not develop. There is neither financial support nor technical support to develop resources.

This is why industrial research, which is one of the engines and pillars of development, is not working. And you cannot deliver. As we know, as soon as investment drops, and the goals are not met, jobs disappear. Some 2,000 once in Montreal. The SMEs are affected.

The same goes for sub-contractors. In our regions, in a riding like mine, SMEs are responsible for 40 per cent of jobs. As soon as subsidies dry out, sub-contractors suffer.

When it comes to research and development, one must make sure that the level of funding is not only adequate, but that it is enough to develop a product. It is urgent that we provide our industry with the same level of support as our competitors. We must provide the highest level possible of support.

This is why the Bloc Québécois is asking for a substantial and very quick increase in federal investments. We talked earlier about globalization. Manufacturing in this area is developing really fast. If we want to remain leaders in this market, we must act quickly. This was the first aspect of the position put forward by the Bloc in favour of an aeronautics policy.

There was a second aspect we talked about earlier, namely exports. Prospects for the aeronautics industry in the Canadian market are obviously limited. Our businesses will only be able to amortize their development costs if they invest in the global market. Globalization is a reality with which we have to live.

The aeronautics industry exports 89% of its production. Yet, in this area, Ottawa encourages export far less than do other countries. Thus, our businesses are more often exposed to foreign competition. Statistics show that in the past three years, Export and Development Canada financed, on average, 41% of Bombardier's airplane deliveries.

In the case of our competitors, it is much higher. Again, whether it be in research or in development, the federal government must increase its financial support for business export contracts to the same level—at least, if possible—to the level enjoyed by foreign competitors. We always come back to that.

Those are two areas which will absolutely have to be developed, namely exports and industrial research.

Thirdly, we must support small and medium businesses. I mentioned earlier that my riding. Mégantic—L'Érable is said to be a special place for small and medium businesses, whether they are involved in iron, aluminum, chrysotile or metallurgy. We have many of them.

Thus, 40% of our jobs are within SMEs. When a region such as ours lives for several years from a single industry, chrysotile asbestos, that is to say, there comes a time when diversification has to take place, because the market is slowing down, there is a misperception of our product, asbestos, and there is bad publicity. Diversification is thus a necessity. The way to do it is with SMEs. We have companies such as CIF Métal, Industries Canatal Inc., Granirex. All of them are businesses which are involved in subcontracting and they are extremely important.

When Montreal is doing well, regions feel the impact: our SMEs and job creation are doing well, and our economic diversification is expanding. As my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou has said often, we are providing instruction. So I do that too. Quebec's aerospace industry, which has sales of $14 billion dollars a year and which employs over 40,000 people, accounts for close to half the jobs.

Canada must do more for SMEs. Foreign companies are important too, as they represent roughly two thirds of the industry's suppliers. That speaks of the potential of Quebec's SMEs for growth. If they managed to gain a part of the market it would be hugely important in terms of job creation. To achieve that, they need assistance. If we take as an example a SME in the city of Thetford Mines, its competitor could be a city in Germany or in London. Competition is extremely strong. Assistance is thus needed to support the SMEs, to create employment in the sector and also to diversify the product. We do not have a choice, above all when talking about diversification.

What happens in the area of the SMEs, which form a very important third component of a policy is that to be certified and become a supplier, an SME must comply with a series of very strict criteria set by the contract givers. It must thus be able to be associated with the development of any new product, from the beginning of its design to its finalization.

If legislation is inadequate and recognizes only one part, it will be hard to implement in the regions. This issue was broached earlier, and the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel was quite clear. He said we need a real plan, a real policy. They will help the small and medium businesses. They will be able to meet stringent requirements concerning quality, skills, manpower and, of course, job creation.

All of this combined costs money. A small business with 20 or even a 100 workers cannot do that all by itself. It needs help, and the government can help. The SMEs cannot meet the cost of this development by themselves.

The Bloc Québécois has among its priorities economic, fiscal and regional concerns. We are almost the only ones speaking often about regional development, regional economies and the SMEs and their development. With the aerospace industry, we have a very important opportunity using the aerospace industry to develop our SMEs and regions, and to be in sync with this policy.

The federal government's role is to help businesses, which are very often ready to make the transition from small or micro business with precarious financing to medium business, which can take on the market if only it is given the chance and the means.

I am thinking here of several business in our area which are on the borderline. They managed to succeed and create jobs. With a little help in the form of subcontracting or subsidies, they could eventually develop and make the transition to a much higher status.

We have to provide some very important measures in the case of small and medium business. As I explained at the beginning, I insist on this because it is an important reality in our region. First, we have to be vigilant and implement a loan guarantee programs to increase the enterprises' working capital.

When a small or very small business in financial difficulty comes to our office, the first thing we do is to look at its working capital. Afterwards, we look for programs to help. A problem in working capital is the major impediment to development. Therefore, we should establish a program to enable these businesses to get more involved in product development and to bid on more important contracts, as well. If very small businesses grow to small and then, to medium-sized, it should also be given the opportunity to bid and to play a more significant role in the operation and development of the economy, not only at the regional level but also at the level of the whole province of Quebec.

The second important point is that we will have to set up a program to support certification—this remains almost a daily problem—of SMEs with regard to large businesses. Everyone understands the linkages between an SME or a very small business and a large business. To operate requires certification. The objectives are the same for large and small businesses alike: job creation, economic development and local and regional development. It is therefore extremely important to enact this type of measure or, as we would prefer, to have it set out in a policy.

The third point has to do with something small businesses cannot do, unfortunately, and that is to establish measures in support of promotion and marketing. Often, the product is a good one. Problems come up and the situation reverses. The business can no longer market the product. It does not have the money to do it. It does not get any help to do it. Over the past few months, I have visited a number of these small businesses, where, as I said earlier, cupboards and aluminum parts are made. Some businesses score very well but cannot advertise. Promotion support is therefore needed.

Finally, we should also look into the possibility of helping out these SMEs with regard to subcontracting and contracts. In a general way, I believe that this bill will certainly help, but it is incomplete. As was said earlier, there are gaps in the bill. For example, government funding is insufficient. There is also a lack of clarity.

To conclude, speaking for the Bloc Québécois, I will say that we must use this opportunity to give ourselves a real aerospace policy so we may finally develop our regional economies along with the aerospace industry.

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6:10 p.m.


Réal Lapierre Bloc Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Mégantic-L'Érable has just described Quebec's circumstances in the aviation and aerospace industry. He pointed out economic spinoffs to the tune of $14 billion. He also mentioned the hiring of more than 40,000 people. He alluded to the fact that out of 250 companies in this sector, 240 are SMEs. I know full well that my colleague lives in a region that can be called a SME hotbed.

My question is the following: over and beyond the measures being proposed by the Bloc to provide Quebec with a true policy in the area of aerospace, does my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable think that, in spite of it all, the Liberal government is doing everything it can to save the aerospace sector in Quebec?

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6:10 p.m.


Marc Boulianne Bloc Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, as I have said, the principle of Bill C-4 is there. They want to make an effort. For example, loan guarantees absolutely must be harmonized. That is important, as is reducing the confusion between partners. This is a starting off point toward solving certain problems. This is in answer to the question by my colleague for Lévis—Bellechasse, for which I thank him.

So this represents an effort to solve the problem, but as has been said, although one must not fault good intentions, they are not enough. A bill such as this one is not enough to fix the major shortcomings that have been described. What is needed is a true three-point policy based on what I have already listed: industrial research and development, exports and small and medium sized businesses.

As far as the latter are concerned, it is not specified that these must be in aerospace. Any kind of small or medium business could develop an affinity with a major industry.

To answer the hon. member's question, I think that what they are wanting to do is insufficient. That Bill C-4 is not enough, as it addresses only one aspect. What is needed, and as quickly as possible, is a general policy.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario


Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague. He pointed out a few things that need to be done. Or should I say that he complained about things not being done? He talked about diversity, new products and the need for us to be competitive. He talked about how we need a real policy.

That is all well and good, and I am sure he is here in order to serve his constituents, as we all are, but I wonder if my colleague has researched the bill. I know that his party is agreeing to it in principle. If my colleague were to look carefully at the bill, he would notice that this is one milestone step in moving in that direction in order to make sure that the aerospace industry in Canada is a vital one, a milestone step in order to provide for the airline industry and for passengers and everybody concerned. It gives the spinoff industries the tools they need in order to be on a strong footing and to move forward.

It is good to say in this place that we need this or that, but the bill does address this. It is a milestone step. It is something that we have been trying to bring together since 1988. It was brought forward by one Canadian. It is like opening the eyes and saying, “Here it is, world, let us do it”. I am hearing that members are agreeing with this in principle, but I do not hear that this is the first step and we have to work from here. The only thing I hear is that we need the real policy. This is a real policy.

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6:15 p.m.


Marc Boulianne Bloc Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague refers to a milestone step, and we to a principle. There is not that much difference between the two.

As far as principles are concerned, as we have said, the Bloc Québécois supported the principle of a degree of recognition, of the need to do something in this field. So whichever term you use, that is what it is all about.

What we have also said is that it is good but incomplete. It will not meet the needs of development or research. More is needed. A real and effective policy is needed.

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6:15 p.m.


Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Madam Speaker, my question for the hon. for Mégantic—L'Érable is based on the statement made by the Liberal member, who said that, with Toronto being Canada's economic engine, as he called it, it follows that more massive investments should be made in the Toronto area.

In spite of this statement made by the Liberal member, does my colleague find it reasonable that most of the government's investment in research and development is made in Toronto, and that the rest of the provinces, Quebec included, have to share the remainder?

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.


Marc Boulianne Bloc Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Chambly—Borduas is justified in wondering. It is not right that research and development, credits and subsidies be concentrated in Ontario. That is what I alluded to earlier in quoting the minister and member for Outremont who made an unwarranted assertion, because there is no logic to saying that the aerospace industry is to Quebec what the automobile industry is to Ontario.

It is a totally different story with subsidies. There is no logic in that. The hon. member just came up with that assertion. It is not right. If there is a principle whereby what is true for Ontario has to be true for Quebec, that has to be verified.

As was demonstrated earlier in several areas, there are statistics that can be verified. In research as in any other area, Ontario has always been privileged, contrary to Quebec.

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6:15 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, one of the things mentioned by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport was that this is a milestone step, but I think that opens up the debate we need to have today to tell Canadians how important this industry is, what is happening to it and why we need further aerospace policies.

Since 9/11, over 35 major airlines across the world have declared bankruptcy. They were from Switzerland, Peru, the U.S.A., Italy, Finland, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Australia and France. This is something that affects all industries across the world. Major airlines like United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines have been going through this process.

What we have to recognize here is that it is not necessarily just a Quebec issue. I think that sometimes it is being seen as that. For example, 33% of aerospace jobs are in Ontario and 4% in Nova Scotia. As well, Manitoba has around 7%.That is a significant portion. There is some diversification of the industry and it is very important for all of it to be successful.

The big issue is that the industry right now has a trading surplus of around $5 billion, which comes back to this country in significant wages for employees and also for their communities, whereas the pharmaceutical industry has a deficit of over $5 billion. We are watching ourselves lose money on that front.

I would like to ask the hon. member to compare the two scenarios and how that fits in with a debate on aerospace policy. We have one industry that contributes to a $5 billion surplus and another industry that is costing Canadians over $5 billion because more is actually shipped in and more jobs are exported for other nations.

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6:20 p.m.


Marc Boulianne Bloc Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I found my hon. colleague's remarks very relevant, when he said that this is not just a Quebec issue. I think he is right about that: the whole aerospace industry across the country is affected.

Regarding the $5 billion, that is a considerable amount of money. We must act to change the way the federal government is acting in that respect.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I too am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-4. It is, of course, always important to refocus the debate and to give some explanations for the benefit of our listeners. People who watch our debates should know what Bill C-4 is about. It is also important for members of Parliament to know that we are a part of the discussions.

I therefore note that Bill C-4 is an act to implement two international agreements. The first is the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the second, the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment.

Bill C-4 deals primarily with these two international conventions. We live increasingly in an era of globalization. The purpose of this act is to bring Canada into line with other countries of the world as far as aerospace policies are concerned.

The purpose of Bill C-4 is to adapt federal legislation to the requirements of the convention. This bill includes the following five aspects.

The Canadian aircraft registry has been dropped and replaced with an international registry. My colleagues have clearly expressed how, in the international construction scheme, an aircraft engine could be bought in one country while the fuselage was made in another country, and so on. We get to a point where we do not know who owes what to which country. In this way, by keeping an international registry of aircraft properties, it is much easier for aircraft equipment companies and for investors. This is to the benefit of all.

The purpose of this bill is also to amend the Bank Act, particularly to replace the references to the national registry with references to the international registry. The changes and improvements have to be adopted and implemented. Another purpose of the bill is to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to harmonize the payment order lists for the secured creditors or the mortgages with the requirements of the international convention. A little more is involved for an aircraft than for a house.

This bill also seeks to amend the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act to ensure that a company cannot give as a guarantee something that is already used as an international guarantee. In the wake of September 11 events, we witnessed the problems experienced by some airlines. We do not want these carriers to be able to use loopholes in the legislation and have two or three loans, two or three guarantees for the same aircraft.

Finally, Bill C-4 seeks to amend the Winding-up and Restructuring Act for the same purpose, namely to comply with international agreements.

I want to express the views of my constituents, as my colleagues have done. In Quebec, what does this mean? We are Bloc Québécois members. My friend, the NDP member, said that our speeches deal primarily with Quebec. I hope he is not surprised by this. I remind him that our party's name is the Bloc Québécois. We protect the interests of Quebec and we promote sovereignty.

The Quebec aerospace industry generates annual sales of $14 billion. It employs 40,000 people. This is close to half of all high tech jobs in Canada. Quebec produces one third of the world's civilian helicopters. The civilian helicopters made in Quebec to be sold do work, contrary to the submarines bought from Great Britain, which sink while en route.

Bombardier is one of the primary employers in Quebec's aerospace industry. This makes a lot of our Conservative friends cringe, because their party is not represented in Quebec. The others are Pratt and Whitney, and Bell Helicopter. Out of 250 companies in that industry, 240 are small or medium size businesses that act as suppliers for large companies. This means that there are 10 large companies out of these 250, while 240 are either subcontractors or small businesses that act as suppliers for these 10 large companies. Together, these 240 small and medium size businesses account for 10% of the total sales of Canada's aerospace industry.

That is why the Minister of Transport and member for Outremont stated in one of his famous and magnificent rhetorical flights that the aerospace industry is to Quebec what the automobile industry is to Ontario. If that is true, let the federal government give the Quebec aerospace industry the equivalent of what it gives to the automobile industry in Ontario.

If Dennis Mills, a former member from the Toronto area, were in the House today, maybe he would tell the hon. member for Outremont what he said during the election campaign or just before, that “the hon. member for Outremont should either filter his thoughts between his thinking and his speaking, or do what he says.” I will quote more pronouncements by the hon. member for Outremont to show how Dennis Mills could sometimes be right.

The Minister of Transport said that the aerospace industry was the equivalent in Quebec of the automobile industry in Ontario. As my colleagues made it their duty and their pleasure to point out during the election campaign, there was no debate or vote in the House of Commons. The government went to southern Ontario and announced that, since the automobile industry had problems, it would get $500 million. The GM plant in Boisbriand had just closed down, and no funds were available then, but that was not important. The automobile industry in Ontario would get $500 million. If the majority of electors there were to vote for the Liberals, if their votes were needed, the government would hand out $500 million because things were not looking as good.

I ask the Minister of Transport once again: if aerospace is to Quebec what the automobile is to Ontario, why does he not provide money?

The Minister of Transport says one thing and does another, which means that he does not help Quebec's aerospace industry at all or only barely. Since he has been away from Parliament and government for a while, I advise him to take a look at what has happened in Canada ever since he first sat, as Minister of Transport, of Industry, or in some other capacity.

The Minister or Transport should know why we should invest in Quebec. He could take a look at the sectors of activity where the federal government has invested outside Quebec. He could accompany the Industry Minister in the Maritimes and stop in Newfoundland. He would see the billions of dollars invested in the Hibernia platform. The federal government helped them out by the billions of dollars. The Minister of Transport would surely be astounded to see what has happened in Newfoundland with federal help, and also in the Maritime provinces.

After Newfoundland, he could visit Ontario's nuclear energy industry, where the federal government has invested billions of dollars. Because there was no hydroelectricity, they developed nuclear energy. As he aptly said himself, the transport minister could look at the automobile industry in southern Ontario, where the government invests billions of dollars.

If he wanted to deal with these issues, the transport minister could go to downtown Toronto to see how much money the federal government has given to GO Transit for the development of public transit, such as highways, the subway or buses. The federal government provided this money.

In the meantime, how much did it give to Quebec? Nothing. Not a penny. If he moves west, he will see that the federal government has invested billions of dollars in the oil of the Western provinces. He could say that the aerospace industry is to Quebec what oil is to Alberta. He could say that the aerospace industry is to Quebec what the nuclear industry is to Ontario. He could say that the aerospace industry is to Quebec what Hibernia is to Newfoundland.

On each count, we could tell him, “The funding is not there like it is, for example, for Hibernia in Newfoundland, for nuclear energy development in Ontario, or for oil discovery in western Canada”.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We have currently lost translation.