Mr. Speaker, I take part in this debate as someone who does not live in Ottawa and whose constituency is far from Ottawa, because of my concern about the clear unfairness this proposal presents to all of us in this country, to members from Ottawa as well as elsewhere.
The proposal is that in communities where there is a lot of federal land the federal government inevitably will be turning land over to the province for hospitals. That, we know, will be the result of allowing this particular area, the capital of Canada, to have this kind of benefit which will not be available to the rest of us who have constituencies that may not have federal land.
What will be the result of this? The result will be that the constituencies that have the federal land--and let us face it, Ottawa is likely to be the area of the country where there is the most for such purposes--will of course be able to get, as the member suggests, very, very low cost land. The 50 acres will come down to $1.
By contrast, other parts of a province and the rest of the country will not have that opportunity. They will have to go elsewhere to find the land for their hospitals.
What will be the response? First of all, provinces, which will be responsible for deciding where hospitals go, will say, “Hey, we will get a real benefit if we put hospitals in areas where there is federal land because there is no cost for the land”. The province can get the feds to put up the money, it can put in the hospital, it can take federal money to build it and therefore it will be cheaper there than elsewhere in the province.
That is a logical position for a province to take. I am not suggesting that it is not logical, but the result for the citizens of Canada will be that some communities get far more in the way of medical services than others. They will get it with federal dollars and that is not fair.
Whether we are from the Prairies or the Maritimes, the Pacific coast or central Canada, Quebec or the north, we should have systems that treat us with some basis of fairness. The result of the proposal put forward will inevitably be the precedent for making sure that hospitals are clustered in communities that now have federal lands.
Of course there are other hospitals that may have been on federal land. We all know about veterans hospitals. Most of us have at least some memory of the turning over of some of those hospitals to provincial or regional hospital boards. Of course there will be anomalies in the system, as no system is perfect, but we are being asked to create an anomaly which will have a major future impact to give less fair medical systems to the population at large.
I would just like that point to be clear to members here when they consider this bill, to members on all sides, opposition and government. Are they going to vote for something that is so much in the self-interest of people who have federal land in their ridings and so much to the disadvantage of the rest of us constituents who may not have such federal land available for hospital purposes? I ask members not to forget that if it is for hospital purposes, the same principle will be used for other facilities as well, for schools, for example, and other public facilities of that nature.
The other thing I would like to quickly comment on is the way the member proposes to do it. On the one hand, here we have the law, as was carefully explained by the member for Ottawa West—Nepean who sits behind me in the House. She explained the law that the National Capital Commission must follow. But the member's suggestion is that the government can tell a crown corporation to ignore the law and ignore the contract and just do what the government wants. I do not think a government should do that.
That may be the way the Tories think government should operate. That is the way they operated in Canada during the Mulroney period and that is the way they operated in the province of Ontario with Premier Harris, but that is not the way they should act. They should not direct crown corporations to ignore contractual obligations that ignore the law. That is wrong. I think that is another important point for voting against this particular bill.
The final point I would like to make is about the nature of the land itself. This land was purchased by all the citizens of Canada as greenbelt. Furthermore, there were many farmers and others in this area who had their land expropriated for the greenbelt and then were paid by the citizens of Canada according to the expropriation price. Those people had their land taken away from them for a specific purpose.
We can argue back and forth about whether it was the right purpose. That is long gone, decades and decades ago. There is a long history to that. Now, though, we can ask if it is right to have the purpose changed to something else entirely in the manner that is being proposed. Or whether, where there is the use of the land for the hospital under that contract signed in the 1970s, I believe, there should indeed be, in accordance with the contract, a commercial price paid.
That is another important question of fairness. It is the issue that the public of Canada paid for those lands. It is only fair that in this process they continue to be treated in a commercial way so that in fact the public of Canada and its dollars get treated fairly, not favouring a particular part of the country over any other.
I do not wish to go on about this, but I will say that when the vote on his motion comes to the House, we are going to be looking closely at those who vote for such a clearly preferential bill to aid just a few people in the nation's capital to the disadvantage of everybody else who lives elsewhere in this country. We are all Canadians, not just the people who live in the hon. member's riding.