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House of Commons Hansard #32 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Government response to petitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government response to eight petitions.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise and present a petition on behalf of numerous families in my riding of South Surrey--White Rock--Cloverdale. The petitioners ask Parliament to amend the Canada Health Act to include, as medically necessary, therapy for children suffering from autism. They also ask Parliament to contribute to the creation of academic chairs at Canadian universities dedicated to the research and treatment of autism.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise yet again to present another petition from the citizens of Canada, citizens from Bradford, Newmarket, Aurora and Gilford in Ontario.

As with other petitions that I have presented on this subject, the petitioners wish to draw to the attention of the House that the Canadian Forces Housing Agency does provide housing for some of our military families across Canada, that many of those homes are substandard to acceptable living conditions, and they also see their rent increased yearly.

Therefore, the petitioners from these Ontario communities call upon Parliament to immediately suspend any future rent increases for accommodations provided by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency until such time as the Government of Canada makes substantive improvements to the living conditions of housing provided for our military families.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of SupplyRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe that you would find consent for the following motion. I move:

That at the conclusion of today's debate on the Conservative opposition motion, all questions necessary to dispose of this motion be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, November 30.

Business of SupplyRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the term of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of SupplyRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

moved:

That the House call on the government to take the appropriate measures to sell the 11,000 acres of arable land back to the families and farmers whose land was expropriated to build the Mirabel Airport.

Mr. Speaker, the issue to which we are drawing the attention of the House today will no doubt revive many bad memories for two generations of Quebeckers. It should also be of concern to all Canadians.

The savage expropriation that took place north of Montreal 25 years ago in Mirabel is not only a Quebec issue. All Canadians, especially rural Canadians, Canadian farmers, understand that a person's home or land is a sacred refuge where families grow, where livelihoods are made, where dreams are pursued and where a sense of community is developed.

This was a massive injustice, an odious boondoggle, which effects continue to this day for thousands of people. This is a story that has been understood, at least in part, for some time across the country.

I believe today we will hear from the hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast--Sea to Sky Country who was here in the 1970s. He spoke about the injustice and the boondoggle, on a scale never before seen, taking place in Mirabel. In the 1980s the hon. member for Niagara Falls, who I believe will speak later today, spoke about the attempts of the then Mulroney Conservative government to rectify this injustice.

The fact of the matter is that in some form, 30 years later this continues without full resolution.

The Mirabel wound has never been healed, the outrage has never been repaired and the error has never been recognized.

My intention today is not to re-open the debate unnecessarily, since it is still open; quite the opposite. The goal of our motion is to ensure that the Government of Canada puts an end once and for all to a saga that dishonours our country and our government and reason of state.

On March 27, 1960, the Liberal government announced the construction of what it called one of the largest airports in the world, which would greet 10 million passengers a year.

To implement this totally unrealistic project, the Liberal government expropriated close to 100,000 acres of the best farm land in Quebec. The area is equivalent to two thirds of Montreal island.

To put it in western terms, this is an area almost the size of the city of Calgary.

One hundred thousand acres is twenty times the area currently occupied by Mirabel, an airport that is nearly always empty. The worst thing is not that this was a government mistake, all governments can make mistakes from time to time. The problem in this saga is that the government made mistake after mistake, with no consideration whatsoever for the families that have been in the area for generations.

For more than 15 years, from 1969 to 1985, a merciless battle has been waged against the Mirabel families by contemptuous public servants implementing an arrogant policy. The psychological harassment and constant war of nerves waged with such vehemence have just about brought many to their wits' end.

Since 1969, the situation of Mirabel landowners, the farmers in particular, has been difficult, unjust, humiliating and painful, dramatic, even, at times, to an extent we have trouble imagining today.

I recently visited that area and met with the leader of the remaining people who had been expropriated, Mr. Marcel Denis. I met with people who had lost their homes and their land. I can tell hon. members that for them there has been no closure to this traumatic event and no resolution to the future of their economic lives.

There is no better illustration of that arrogance than the way the people were notified that they would be pushed out of their homes. Mr. Raymond, the leader of the Mirabel expropriates, has described the first hours of the bomb that was dropped on the people of Mirabel in 1969.

This is an excerpt from La mémoire de Mirabel :

When I learned of the expropriation, I started tried to find out if it was really true or just a false rumour. Radio and newspaper reports had indicated that the new airport would be built in the Sainte-Scholastique area. Minister Marchand made the first announcement on the radio on March 27, 1969, at 2 or 3 p.m. That is how we found out.

So that is how they learned about the expropriation, on the radio. No consideration was shown them, their children, their friends, the families themselves that were going to be put out of their houses, none for the communities or local businesses. Mr. Raymond's story is worth keeping in mind as evidence of the Liberal way of doing things.

Right from that very first day up to the latest speech by the current Minister of Transport, the tone has remained strikingly similar. There was no consideration whatsoever shown to the families and citizens.

There are stories besides that of Mr. Raymond that deserve to be told, as they are indicative of the Liberal way and the inhuman nature of this undertaking. In this respect, Mr. Cardinal's case is very telling. At the time of the expropriation, Mr. Cardinal was getting on in years. He lived in the little village called Mirabel.

The federal government had planned to open up a quarry to provide the stone to make the concrete for the runways. In its wisdom, the Liberal government decided to put this quarry right in the little village of Mirabel.The people living within a one-mile radius of the quarry were forced out of their homes and had to move out very quickly, whether or not they had agreed to the amount of the expropriation. Here is his story:

In that area of the town there were around 35 homes and some 20 farms. A total of 50 or so buildings had to be abandoned to make room for the planned quarry.

Having been ordered to leave, Mr. Cardinal bought land in Saint-Eustache and had a new house built. Unfortunately for him, work on his new house was stopped by a strike and he did not have the time to finish moving his belongings.

When he finally went back to his old house to retrieve the rest of his belongings, government agents had set the house on fire and burnt it to the ground with everything that was left of his household and personal belongings still inside. Again I quote the book:

A life worth of things had stupidly disappeared. Mr. Cardinal took out his handkerchief--the house held many memories--and started crying. They climbed back into the truck and, without a word, drove back to Saint-Eustache.

Today, we know that the federal government made a mistake. Real quarries were dug two or three miles further on. The lands the expropriated owners had been forced to abandon were sold. Mr. Cardinal should never have been expropriated, let alone forced to leave his home. That is another chapter in the Liberal story of Mirabel.

There are tens and even hundreds of examples of the turpitude of the Liberal government. More recently, even the present Prime Minister's predecessor said that he would not shed a tear if Mirabel were to be closed.

These lands were never used for the airport. These people want to recover their lands. Recently, dozens of farmers, members of the 11,000 acres committee, demonstrated to express their anger in Mirabel. They even said they were ready to buy their lands back, and they should.

Mirabel was a terrible mistake. The mistake was not only to break up an area many times larger than necessary, but to victimize thousands of Quebeckers, treating them unfairly, and to deprive this airport of the tools it would have needed to develop and secure the future.

Now that the airport is entirely closed to passenger traffic and will not expand in the foreseeable future, if ever, the expropriated land owners believe that the 11,000 acres of land outside the airport perimeter should be returned to farming again.

The Minister of Transport says that it is not possible. Yet it was possible for the Conservative Mulroney government to give back about 80% of the lands to the expropriated owners. There are only 11,000 acres left to give back. This should not be too much for the Liberal government to do.

The Liberals would like this issue to go away but it will not and it will not be forgotten.

I looked at the plans of Mirabel on a recent visit there. One really has to see the map of this semi-abandoned airport to understand the scale of this scandal, this boondoggle, this mismanagement involving 97,000 acres of land.

It was not as if the Liberals were building the largest airport in the world. Sitting there half empty, Mirabel is already one of the largest airports in the world. It was as if they were building a space station, as if they were sending people to another galaxy out of that facility.

This is a mess that has been created by the Liberals. It is a mess that a previous Conservative government did in its time make some attempt to fix. It is a mess that must be fixed by the Liberals.

I urge all members, including the Trudeauist Minister of Transport, who was a member of the Trudeau government during the first phases of this saga, to support the resolution. It is not a matter of politics but rather a matter of goodwill and justice.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's speech. As you undoubtedly know, I represent a riding that is close to Mirabel airport. Many of my constituents—

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

An hon. member

At the other end of the river.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Whether or not the river unites us, it is nevertheless Mirabel's neighbouring riding that I have the honour and the privilege to represent. I must say that I totally disagree with what the hon. Leader of the Opposition said, first, at the pleasure he took over the fiasco of the Mulroney government in the 1980s. In this regard, I believe he should at least have tried to remember the difficulties of Roch Lasalle in this issue. It was a terrible mess and a scandal in the House of Commons. If the hon. member has no recollection of it, he should read the papers of that time and everything else.

I am also having trouble understanding why the hon. member wants to do absolutely the opposite of what ADM is trying to do in this matter. He has unilaterally decided, apparently, that all plans for the future and submissions regarding plans for the future of the airport are worth nothing. He has decided that the land is surplus, in his opinion, without even knowing what the airport's future holds.

He seems to be painting a picture of some other place in Canada when he says there is nothing left of Mirabel. That is not true. The hon. leader of the opposition is mistaken. I think there is still a future for Mirabel; there is a future for my constituents who have worked there, those who are still working there, and those who will work there in the future. The hon. member says he is in favour of transparency. However, the public bids have not yet been opened and he is putting the whole procedure on trial.

The ADM, the body administering this, takes a position opposite to his. How does he justify taking the position he is taking today? What does the hon. member think of all the other things going on at the airport—the Bombardier factory there, the training facility just beside it, the air cargo that goes out of there, and all the rest?

Of course, we know that the current runways are sufficient to accommodate that. What is not known right now is what the future will be and what it will require in additional space; the land is there for that purpose. If such were not the case, why would ADM not want to get rid of it tomorrow? But it does not. ADM does not agree with the hon. member opposite.

I disagree completely with him regarding the future of this facility. What he is telling us is that he is against transparency, against the procedure, against ADM. He sees no future at all for this public facility.

As for me, as an MP from the Mirabel region, because that is what I am, I disagree profoundly with him. What I am going to do is to take lots of copies of his speech and distribute them to the constituents of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, especially those who live near Hawkesbury. I will invite him to come to town to debate the issue, after the speech he has just made.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Madam Speaker, I am glad to answer this question. For us, the issue is not the process of a government agency, but justice for all citizens of this region and for farmers.

I want all Canadians to understand this situation. The former minister talks about a bunch of issues that frankly, for the most part, are irrelevant to what is before us today.

The record is this. The Liberal government expropriated 97,000 acres, of which only 5,000 is being used today and, by the way, not being used completely, as we all know. Mirabel is the Liberal white elephant of history. Some day it will be in history books for future generations. Some day when we have interplanetary travel, it may be a story in other galaxies.

The previous Conservative government in its day returned some 81,000 acres and made provision for the expansion. The expansion of Mirabel has not occurred. What is before us today? The Minister of Transport should drop his Trudeauist blinders for a minute, forget about that era, and move into the 21st century.

In the last 15 or 20 years it has become apparent that the issue at Mirabel is the survival of the existing facility. It is not the expansion of the facility. That is not going to happen any time in my lifetime. The people who owned this land and are using it want it back so they can make productive investment. Quite frankly, the issue here is simple. The member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, the former minister, and the current minister, quite frankly, should just admit they were wrong. Drop the Liberal arrogance and get on with the solution.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, first, I would like to commend the leader of the Conservative Party for his chronology of what happened at Mirabel. Obviously, the member understands very well the Liberal stand on this issue as well as the human tragedy that was caused by the Liberal Party.

Therefore, I would ask him to explain how he sees the land being returned to those who were expropriated and how he would see Parliament taking a decision as soon as possible. Indeed, it is high time that justice was done for those whose land was expropriated.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member of the Bloc Québécois for his comments.

We hope that all members of this House will support this motion. We might not have support from the Liberals who, up to this day, continue to live in the arrogant Trudeau era. Nonetheless, I hope we will pass this motion.

It is the responsibility of the government to find a way to return the expropriated land. It is not an easy issue. ADM has its own view, but it is a creature of the government.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Liberal Outremont, QC

Who signed the lease?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

The minister talks about the lease. This lease includes the objective of encouraging passenger air traffic to Mirabel. Obviously, this objective has so far not been reached. ADM has to be realistic and treat Canadians fairly in this case.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre LiberalMinister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the leader of the opposition how he can justify that it was a Conservative minister, Jean Corbeil, on behalf of the government of Brian Mulroney, who signed a lease for sixty years, that is to say until 2052, with ADM, a corporation established by that same Conservative government to foster the interests of both airports.

Is the opposition leader asking us to repudiate, to tear up a lease duly signed?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Madam Speaker, Mr. Mulroney and his government undertook the steps that were possible to take to rectify this problem in that era. They signed an agreement which the facts show has not been fulfilled and not upheld. I suggest, and I think the House is going to suggest, the minister look at renegotiating this. The grounds are there. Justice demands it. The minister refuses.

This particular minister must face facts and rectify this situation. This minister has accomplished a new record in Canadian politics. He has been a minister under Trudeau at the far centralist end, then under Turner at the far centralist end of the spectrum, and co-founder of the Bloc. Yet, through 20 years of his political career, in all these different incarnations, he still manages to be wrong all of the time.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre LiberalMinister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I am very happy to take part in this debate. Of course, this debate is being held for reasons of crass political opportunism, as everybody realizes that the leader of the official opposition is a member of the party that signed a 60-year lease, in 1992.

Indeed, it is the Progressive Conservative Party which handed over the administration of all its lands, of all its airports, to a not for profit corporation, ADM, with the mandate to do the best job possible in the development of its two airports. This deal was initialed and it has legal standing.

Therefore, when the Leader of the Opposition says that he is going to pay a short visit, to hop over to Mirabel, and he decides he will repudiate the signature of the Conservative minister, Jean Corbeil, as well as the commitments of that government, I think this is crass opportunism.

Worse yet, he tries to raise false hopes in the public that things will not go as planned, and he knows he will not be delivering the goods. This is why I believe that the Leader of the Opposition, who announced that he would make a little pact with the Bloc Québécois, wants to try to have the people in Mirabel believe that his party and the Bloc Québécois will be in the driver's seat in this file. However, he is totally wrong.

I am very surprised that the leader of the progressive party, sorry, not progressive. I withdraw those words.

The leader of that party announced that he is going to make a pact with the Bloc Quebecois to renege on an agreement, a signed lease by Tory minister Jean Corbeil. It is just incredible. Those guys have no respect for the law.

Unlike the official opposition and the Bloc Québécois, we believe that Mirabel is an important airport for Montreal, Quebec and Canada. I am convinced that all options should be kept open. We absolutely must preserve the future.

This means that, in the meantime, we have to respect the authority in charge of managing this airport. It was the will of this Parliament to appoint a group known as ADM, or Aéroports de Montréal, to look after the future of the airport. It has been doing so since 1992, with a commitment until 2052. This agreement until 2052 was not signed by the Bloc Québécois or myself, but by the Conservatives. Later, they will have a little parade in Mirabel to look generous, when they are the ones who tied the government's hands with a 60-year lease. What hypocrisy.

I would like to put a more specific aspect of ADM's responsibilities into context. In 1988, 11,000 acres of airport reserve land, which were not being used for airport operation, were leased long term to local farmers. It is not true that the farmers do not live on their land. The fact of the matter is that 11,000 acres were leased to local farmers, and an agricultural renewal program was also offered to them.

Naturally, when the management of Mirabel airport was transferred to ADM, these leases were also transferred to ADM. That was part of the agreement. We are talking about 131 leases that the Conservative government at the time transferred to ADM. The fate of 131 farmers was put into the hands of ADM, not by the Liberals or the others, but by the Conservative government. These leases expire in 2010. Those concerned voluntarily signed leases expiring in 2010.

So, last year, when it reviewed its master plan, ADM looked at all this and proposed to extend the leases for an additional 13-year period. Many people are unaware of this, but there is currently an offer on the table to allow the people to continue living on these lands until November 2023.

There is no doubt that we want to protect the future. But at the same time, we want to respond to the immediate needs of these farmers. We are therefore convinced that this kind of long-term lease would help reduce uncertainty and foster development of these agricultural lands.

Unlike the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois, I am confident in Mirabel's future. I do not want to condemn Mirabel. In fact, Mirabel is more alive than ever. Here is what I think of the Conservative Party. We know that Mirabel is the ideal location to build the new Bombardier plant for the C series. We know what this party thinks of Bombardier and the aerospace industry. I think the Bloc Québécois is being drawn into a fools' pact. We know very well what the Conservative Party thinks of Bombardier and the development of the C series.

What I want to do is to create 2,500 jobs in Mirabel, thanks to the C series assembly plant. I do not understand why the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel does not realize that Mirabel's potential is extraordinary with the C series. Now is not the time to jeopardize the future of this airport. Now is not the time to give up and throw in the towel. I think we will create more jobs than ever in the Mirabel region. This is precisely what we want to do.

There is more: an extraordinary future is shaping up in the air cargo sector. Mirabel currently handles 110 tonnes of air cargo per year. I suppose that the leader of the Conservative Party would rather see this happening in Toronto or Calgary. Personally, I want to see it happening in Montreal, in Mirabel, and we want this volume to increase.

Since that airport can be in service 24 hours a day without disturbing the neighbourhood, without disturbing anyone, its potential is limitless in this regard. When I see that the Conservatives want to condemn Mirabel, I do not trust them, because their anti-Quebec tendency is well known. We have to be wary of all this sweet talking, because it is an illusion.

I want Mirabel to become a major industrial centre for the aviation sector. About 10 international companies are already there. I do not understand the Bloc Québécois. It wants to develop Mirabel, but at the same time it wants to deprive it of its assets. This is unbelievable. It looks like these people are advocating a scorched earth policy. They want to destroy everything. This is not what we want to do.

We have confidence in the future and we are convinced there will be a way to make Mirabel profitable. We are convinced there will be volume at Mirabel and there will be more jobs there than ever. We have confidence in Mirabel. We do not want to take a step back. We do not want to put the future at risk. We do want to put jobs at risk. However, that is what they are doing. They are trying to reopen old wounds out of sheer political opportunism, and it makes me sick.

For 30 years, year in year out, it has not been easy for these people, I agree. I would rather have 10 million, 20 million or 30 million passengers. However, that is not the case. We are realistic enough to come back and look at other options. As for the current number of jobs at Mirabel, it is absolutely extraordinary. In fact, four proposals have been submitted to ADM for the use of Mirabel's facilities. However, they know nothing about that.

The member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel knows nothing about this. He is prepared to put the future of Mirabel in danger without even considering the plans currently on the table at ADM. How irresponsible! I cannot believe it.

The transport critic asks, “what plans”? This just proves she knows nothing. She wants to condemn Mirabel without a thought to its future. ADM is responsible for development. They called for proposals and received eight, four of which require more detail. These proposals are currently on the table at ADM, in accordance with the ADM lease.

I do not understand the Bloc Québécois. They do not know what they are talking about and only want to gain cheap political points without even realizing that they are compromising the future of Mirabel and of job development in that region, which is totally irresponsible. I cannot believe it.

As for the proposals, the four bidders have until March 31, 2005, to present a detailed business case. Why would the Bloc Québécois not give a chance to the four bidders who want to participate in the economic development of the region and the development of this airport? Why are they shutting out the future? Unless they have inexplicable, or at least, unexplained, reasons. I look forward to hearing those.

There is one thing for certain: Mirabel's full potential has not been developed. We do, of course, have a responsibility to do everything in our power to make this absolutely extraordinary structure cost-effective. A few years down the road, I am sure that the members of this House who vote in favour of this motion will regret it bitterly. They will come to realize that we, with our confidence in the future of the new role of Mirabel, in the industrial future of Mirabel, will be proud of what we have accomplished.

This is the reason for our refusal to support such a short-sighted motion. The same members of the Bloc Québécois, the little buddies of the Conservatives, will be getting up shortly to vote in favour of the motion of the Conservatives, who want to have Mirabel as a hunting trophy, and then to develop elsewhere perhaps. These are the selfsame Conservative members who are opposed to assistance to Bombardier, yet the Bloc members will be backing them up on this one.

This will not hit them until tomorrow, or maybe today during Oral Questions, when they come asking for help for Bombardier to develop at Mirabel. They will be asking for subsidies for Bombardier to develop the C Series, so they will be voting out of both sides of their mouths. This is systematic hypocrisy.

I want to see Bombardier relocate to Mirabel to produce the C Series. I want those 2,500 jobs in Quebec. I want all our options kept open as far as the future of Mirabel is concerned, because it is going to be a significant pole of economic development, in the opinion of ADM. That is why we have four proposals on the table at the present time for the development of Mirabel and its present facilities.

So this is both ill-timed and sending a very wrong message. The people contemplating development are being sent the message that certain short-sighted members of this Parliament want to jeopardize their plans. In reaction to a little protest, they want to get back into people's favour. We have seen people like that before.

It is my impression that the Conservative Party's position is not based on principle, nor is it responsible. I cannot have any confidence in them as far as the future of Quebec is concerned. But the Bloc, of course—

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Not what we said.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Liberal Outremont, QC

The member for Longueuil has just said that they have confidence in the Conservatives as far as the future of Quebec is concerned. That I find surprising, extremely surprising.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Madam Speaker, I hear the Minister of Transport and his demagogic rhetoric, but we are used to that, because he always tries to stir up emotions.

But I do not want him to twist my words around and to read things into remarks I did not make. He said he could not trust the Conservatives to stand for Quebec's interests, and I reminded him that he used to trust the Bloc Québécois to do that.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Liberal Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, this is certainly not a point of order. They are getting so chummy now that they do not know anymore who stands for what.

I can tell you one thing. There are at the present time 22 air cargo companies in Mirabel, and there are between 10,000 and 13,000 flights annually. Contrary to what the Conservatives would have us believe and would like it to be, it is not a wasteland. One day, and perhaps sooner than we think, Quebec will have a strong development, thanks to facilities with a great potential.

If Bombardier is considering Mirabel, it is because there is an airport there. If it wants to build planes and do some testing there, it is thanks to the airport.

Basically, that is what my colleague is telling me. She does not understand. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand the intrinsic edge Mirabel has as a site for the Bombardier C Series which we want to develop in Canada.

Mirabel has a terrific edge. I do not understand why, today, when Bombardier is considering various sites, we should send the message that the party opposite wants to shrink Mirabel. The Conservative Party of Canada has always been eager to put a stranglehold on Mirabel. This is not new.

I do not understand why, at a time when there are four projects for the development of Mirabel as well as a huge $2 billion project at Bombardier on ADM's drawing board in Ville Saint-Laurent, with, as the crow flies, an almost direct view on Mirabel airport, one would want to jeopardize all that.

The message this sends is that, if these people were in office, we could say goodbye to Mirabel. Instead of developing 2,500 jobs, they would rather grow corn. That does not jive, it does not work. I cannot get over their not wanting to give the process and the potential for development a chance.

I will gladly oppose this motion, because it shows these people's lack of vision, lack of ambition and lack of trust in the future of Mirabel.

Coming from the hon. member for Longueuil, I could understand; she may think that Mirabel is competing with the airport in Saint-Hubert. But the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel? I cannot get over it. He is shooting himself in the foot. How can he be against the development of Mirabel? That is beyond me.

One thing is clear: this motion is not in the best interests of Quebec, of Canada, of Mirabel, of the workers or of economic development. This is a rear-view motion; it is about nostalgia. This motion was brought forward by people who cannot accept that a government, any government, made much more ambitious plans earlier. It was thought that there would be a new mandate.

We are stuck with decisions made by the Conservative government, decisions that the Conservatives are stepping back from today. That is also kind of embarrassing. The leader of the Conservative Party goes to Mirabel and is ready to repudiate a lease that a Tory minister, the late Jean Corbeil, had signed under the leadership of Brian Mulroney. And yet, as we learned from the CBC, this same Conservative leader had dinner with Brian Mulroney the other night seeking to be convinced about Bombardier's development.

I guess Mr. Mulroney failed twice. He did not convince the leader of the Conservative Party to respect his government's signature or to support Bombardier. So there is something fishy going on.

He has another agenda. This motion is hiding something. I do not understand how the Bloc can get suckered into supporting an anti-Quebec motion.

Having said that, I find it regrettable that this motion is being debated today, while there are two potentially extraordinary projects on the horizon for Mirabel. It is the wrong signal to send but, thankfully, the government will stand firm.