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House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fishery.

Topics

Fisheries ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I described the general case as well as I could.

With respect to the Blue Cove Packing Plant in Anse-Bleue, New Brunswick, which closed recently, the local HRCC staff has communicated with the company officials to offer the services and assistance of the department. The manager has indicated that this is not a permanent closure but only a temporary setback. It is the lobster production which will be affected and it could be back up and running as early as next week or as late as July.

The local HRCC staff have put forth all the necessary services to assist the affected employees.

Fisheries ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak again on behalf of my constituents about the Windsor-Detroit border. For Canadians tuning in, about 42% of the nation's traffic and trade to the United States is crammed along two kilometres. What a lot of people do not know is that a private American citizen owns the Ambassador Bridge which controls just over one-third of the international trade between Canada and the United States. It is a bridge with two lanes in each direction and the government has no authority over it.

There have been competing interests to get a new border crossing from the private sector. Out of 24 international crossings between Canada and the United States, 22 are publicly held. There is only the Ambassador Bridge and another small one that is privately owned.

I asked the Prime Minister a question about the community from which claims to come. I asked if he would commit to a new public border crossing agency. We need some type of authority over the whole region to ensure that the four crossings, two tunnels, one bridge and a ferry service have some oversight, jurisdiction, review and accountability especially as we have a lot of security issues with the United States.

On the private infrastructure, industry and individuals are being hosed by some of the highest fares and the least accountable. The Prime Minister ditched the question again to the Minister of Transport, who basically stated:

--if the hon. member wants to be helpful, we have now a project before the committee on the Canada Transportation Act that will deal with international crossings and will help in the governance of international crossings.

That has not been tabled in the House of Commons. It is not even in committee. The member for Churchill is on that committee and has not seen it. Most important, it does not address the question. I was asking for a public border authority. Will the government create a jurisdictional oversight authority, similar to what Sarnia has just down the road from us, similar to what Fort Erie has, another part of southwestern Ontario, and similar to what Niagara Falls has?

The most important border crossing has no structure to help with the governance. There is nothing to oversee safety, new regulations and the costs. The government could take a position and at least say whether its supports a border authority for the most important crossing in Canada.

The ferry operator, who is a private American citizen as well, has welcomed this notion. Since 9/11, he has never been approached by anyone from the government to find out who he is as an individual or to check his background. Meanwhile hundreds of trucks cross on his ferry system per week with toxic materials, chemicals and different kinds of goods that have to cross the river in a safe format. He welcomes this jurisdictional oversight and accountability. That has yet to happen. That is madness. We have a bridge that acts as a lifeline to the Canadian economy with absolutely no oversight.

Last, why can the Minister of Transport not come forward and say that he supports a public border authority for the community of Windsor like we have elsewhere in southern Ontario?

Fisheries ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak about the future ownership of the Detroit River crossing. Before getting to this specific issue, I would like to explain the work that is being done by the governments of Canada, the United States, Ontario and Michigan under the umbrella of the Border Transportation Partnership.

The binational partnership was officially launched in 2001 to develop a long term strategy to improve in a coordinated fashion the movement of people, goods and services across the Windsor-Detroit gateway. This is also commonly referred as the binational process.

The partnership was established in recognition of the urgent need to find a way to coordinate and streamline three different legislated environmental assessment requirements: the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act; the Ontario environmental assessment act; and the national environmental protection act of the United States of America. This was done in order to identify a common solution for additional crossing capacity.

We have now entered the formal environmental assessment phase of the binational study process for increasing crossing capacity. The governments of Canada and Ontario have announced several initiatives to address cross-border transportation needs over the short and medium term until the new capacity is available.

The environmental assessment phase is expected to last three years, at which time the partnership will have concluded consultations and developed a preliminary design and plan for the expanded border capacity. Construction will begin in 2010, leading to the opening of additional capacity by the end of 2013.

While this timeline seems very long and is a source of frustration to many stakeholders, I would like to assure members that having this additional crossing capacity operational by the end of 2013 is a priority of the binational partnership. We are taking every step necessary to meet this target.

The binational partnership is considering the governance model for new crossing capacity. The partnership is looking at various governance models and accountability frameworks. We are reviewing and analyzing a number of models ranging from private to public sector ownership and operation.

Through the collaborative development of possible governance models, the four governments will be in a position to move quickly toward implementation, regardless of which corridor is selected during the environmental assessment process.

To complement the impending construction of a new or expanded crossing in the Windsor-Detroit corridor and elsewhere, such as the St. Stephen-Calais border crossing between New Brunswick and Maine, Transport Canada is also pursuing new provisions to the Canada Transportation Act relating to international bridges and tunnels.

There are presently 24 international bridges and tunnels between Canada and the United States. Historically, it has been standard practice to introduce special acts of Parliament for the approval and construction of each new international structure. This is a lengthy process and has resulted in a lack of consistency in the governance of the various bridges.

Currently, our international bridges are governed in some cases by crown corporations, international bridge authorities, or by a U.S. authority on the American side and a provincial department of transportation on the Canadian side. As well, two international bridges are privately owned and one is owned by a municipality.

The proposed amendments to the Canada Transportation Act, along with the examination of various governance models and accountability frameworks, will help us move seamlessly from the environmental assessment phase to the design, property acquisition and construction phases of the Detroit River crossing project. These actions will ensure that local, provincial and national interests are protected.

Fisheries ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is interesting that the member still did not address the answer of the minister. The minister told the House that we were dealing with this issue at committee when we are not. It is not at committee. He did not even answer that question, and the Liberals wonder why people get upset about what happens in the House of Commons.

The binational planning process is fine in the sense that we can throw everything back there and just wait to see what happens. In fact the Liberals are actually scurrying and changing their practices. The minister's department is getting a nice reputation in the United States as actually being the one holding back the process. In fact the Liberals are so out of step with Michigan that two lawmakers in Michigan, and I have the bill, have introduced a public border authority for the Windsor-Detroit border on the Michigan side because of the lack of commitment on our side. They have also introduced public ownership. They are taking steps. So I have I. I have tabled two similar motions today to complement their efforts.

Why is it the Minister of Transport could not take a position of public authority, a simple thing? I suppose it would require his leadership.

Fisheries ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Madam Speaker, certainly my hon. colleague knows that we just do not wake up one morning and say we are going to take ownership. Certainly my hon. colleague is not suggesting that we jump in with both feet and say that we are going to disregard any governance and any authority whatsoever that needs to be done in environmental assessment. I certainly hope my hon. colleague is not suggesting that we do things in a haphazard way.

This government is taking all the necessary steps. Environmental assessments are being done. We are talking to all stakeholders. We do not have to deal with only one government but four. Two legislatures in the United States do not make the United States and/or Michigan, and they do not talk for all of the United States or Michigan.

There is a plan of action that looks right across our borders to what we are doing with the United States. This plan of action has been tabled in the House in Bill C-44. When it comes to second reading stage, I welcome the opportunity to discuss it with my colleague.

Fisheries ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:50 p.m.)