The member opposite asks who was in government. We made an agreement with the FRCC to prevent that gouging and the new government over there broke that agreement, violated that trust with western farmers and basically sold out to the big railways.
I would like to take this opportunity to read from this report, which incidentally would not have become public if it had not been for a reporter with the The Western Producer who obtained and published the report. The following are extracts from the report, sent by Neil Thurston, director of the rail economics directorate of the CTA, to Helena Borges, executive director of rail policy at Transport Canada. The report was in response to a Transport Canada request to the CTA “regarding the Agency staff’s assessment of CN and CP’s expenditures for the maintenance of the Government hopper car fleet in 2004”.
Based on the railway information, the CTA determined that maintenance costs on the hopper car fleet dedicated to grain transportation was $1,686 per car per year. Under the provisions of the revenue cap, the railways had been receiving $4,329 per car per year in maintenance costs.
There are currently more than 12,000 federal government hopper cars in service in western Canada. Members can do the math: 12,000 cars, actual cost $1,686, yet charging $4,329. Western farmers have been overcharged to the tune of over $30 million annually. The new government is going to allow those alleged overcharging costs to continue to go to the railways and continue to basically gouge farmers. The report I have referenced was tabled, reluctantly, by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
I would add that during the course of a meeting of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food on May 16, Mr. Sinclair Harrison, president of the FRCC, told the committee of additional Transport Canada reports, held in confidence, that support the position the FRCC has held for a number of years. Mr. Harrison stated:
At our request, Transport Canada commissioned a company called QGI, a consulting firm specializing in car inspections, to inspect approximately 1,000 of the 12,000 federal government cars, which is a representative sample. In our opinion, the confidential report prepared by QGI confirms FRCC's observation on the extent of programmed maintenance being deferred.
The dollar figure is in the report here and is in the hands of Transport Canada. Again, perhaps it should be released to this committee. The dollar figure put to the deficiencies in the cars, Transport Canada, and the FRCC agreed, was $35 million worth of work that has not been performed on these cars but was paid for.
The service not provided was purchased from the railways.
The facts are that there was an agreement by the previous government that would have benefited the farm community. The new government came to power and broke that agreement, which is what section 43 of Bill C-11 does. The government has sold out western farmers again to the big railway companies. It has a lot to answer for.
As I said, most of the bill is not new. It has the good points brought forward by the previous government but section 43 is doing what--