This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Shame, shame.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

When I am speaking I always hear static or radio running behind me. I assume it is a member who cannot wait to have an intervention or does not understand the rules of the House. I can only assume that because they tend to continue to talk and interrupt and it makes my job more difficult to have reasoned debate and I know, Mr. Speaker, it makes your job more difficult, but they are fairly easy to ignore.

I want to reiterate the challenge the minister is facing, the fact that we do have an infrastructure deficit and we--

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I hate to interrupt the hon. member but if it is his intention to share his time with the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, I will have to cut him off at 10 minutes because it is supposed to be two slots of 10 minutes each. We will move on to the questions and comments portion of your slot. The hon. member for Cardigan.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, when I listened to the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's it reminded me, when I first entered politics, of going to the wharf in Savage Harbour and at that time $200,000 would have repaired the wharf. When we came into power, it cost over $1 million to get the armourstone in order to put the breakwater in place. This is what happens when we do not put the proper funding into small craft harbours. At Grahams Pond, it was about ready to go into the rock. After we came to power, It cost millions of dollars to put that wharf back in place.

A number of speakers today said that there have been a lot of changes. I remember when the harbour authorities were put in place I was concerned about that, but it gave the fishermen a say in what takes place with their own harbours, and it has worked well. However. the problem we have is the lack of funding. All governments have been lacking in funding to small craft harbours.

However, the current government inherited a massive surplus. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans indicated, before he became minister and I believe after he became minister, that it would take about $400 million to put all the wharves back in shape.

I believe the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's indicated that possibly this funding should not all be put in now. I wonder why not, because if we put the wharves back in shape with the proper funding in place, it means that we can repair the wharves, help the volunteers who are trying to keep those wharves operating and ensure--

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am going to have to stop the hon. member for Cardigan there.

The hon. member for South Shore—St. Margaret's.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will be polite in my answer for the member for Cardigan because we sit on committee together and he does have the best interests of fishermen in Prince Edward Island at heart and does understand the challenges that his government faced and that our government faces in trying to fix the deficit we have in wharf infrastructure.

The key point, and we owe this to the present Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, is the $20 million that was put back permanently into A-base funding, which is $20 million more per year on an ongoing annual basis to help fix the wharf infrastructure deficit that is occurring across the country.

I appreciate the member's intervention. Again, the costs have gone up and we recognize that. Armourstone is a prime example, the costs of pilings, the cost of everything. From the early 1990s to 2008 there has been a substantial increase in the inflation of the value of materials and that is an ongoing challenge for fishermen and for the department.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I put this question to other members who were on this committee but I am curious as to the member's view.

What plans does the government have in place right now? What money has been allocated to look at the adaptation required for a changing marine environment due to climate change?

Many studies have been done by many different countries, many of our trading partners, to look at what the implications are for the physical infrastructure, for the physical way we do harbours and the physical way we seek to upkeep them. When we look through the government spending plans, we rarely see any sort of contingency, any insurance policy. The concern for many is that these harbours will be built in such a way that will not accommodate a climate changed future.

I am wondering if he has any details to provide the House.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, the ongoing challenge of climate change, and I think the member would agree, is that we do not tend to see, I do not believe, the climate change effects so much on the wharf infrastructure and the challenge to keep that infrastructure in place. We are not seeing dramatic changes in current and tide.

What we are seeing with climate change is the change in species, in algae, in marine plants and even in the birds that frequent our waters. We are certainly seeing that.

The way DFO operates when it is building new wharves and when it is assessing the work it needs to do on old ones, it assesses the tide and it assesses whether the harbour is being cleared and whether it is being infilled with sand. DFO looks at a number of issues and those are not really due to climate change, as much as--

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I am sorry but I have to cut the hon. member off again.

We will move on to the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand and speak to this motion.

If there is anyone other than the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans who has a keen, distinct and certainly genuine interest in small craft and harbours, it is the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's. He certainly knows what he is talking about.

I want to go back to the funding history on harbours and small craft. My colleague from the NDP spoke about the ongoing funding. This problem began a number of years ago when the previous Liberal government did not put enough money into funding. Sometimes we think we will save some pennies when we save some dollars. In the case before us I am going to give some examples that will show what that kind of planning can do.

We could compare it to driving our cars. As most people do, I change the oil in my car every 5,000 kilometres. If I do not change it to 10,000 or 20,000 kilometres, it will still probably be okay. I can guarantee though that over the life of that car I am going to spend a lot of extra money putting a motor in that car much sooner than if I had added up the cost of those extra oil changes.

I will go from that example to the issue of wharves. I have three wharves in my riding. Tobermory is at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. Tobermory is also the home of the very first underwater national park in Canada. The harbour at Tobermory was in bad shape. It was ignored back 10 years ago and the repair costs now have increased eight to ten times. If that wharf had been repaired back at the time when the repairs were first required, there would be a whole lot more money to spread around to other harbours.

My riding also has the Lion's Head harbour half way down the peninsula. It is also in need of repair. In my hometown of Wiarton, it is a shame what has happened there with the wharf. Funds have to be made available for these repairs. The minister's efforts to go ahead with those repairs are paramount.

I want to go back to my colleague from South Shore—St. Margaret's. Another reason I wanted to speak today is because not all our wharves are situated on the east side or the west side of Canada. My riding is situated on the Great Lakes. Some people might ask why is the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound speaking on this issue.

Perhaps they would say that I have the second largest beef riding in the country and what does he know about wharves. There are many wharves in my riding: Owen Sound, Meaford, Stokes Bay and Howdenvale. I could go on with many more. The funding is important not only for our ocean ports and harbours but for small craft harbours such as a mine and right across the country.

I want to give some history of Tobermory and the Great Lakes. There is a story which probably has some truth to it, that the infamous Al Capone, after some of his great heists and in order to take off some of the heat from the law, would come up from Lake Michigan. He had a cabin at Bay Finn near Killarney. It was very close to Tobermory and rumour has it that was a frequent stop of his for supplies or whatever.

For many people pleasure boating is a tourist industry in today's economic climate. Agriculture is number one in my riding, but tourism is a very close second.

The visitors that the harbours and wharves enjoy through the course of a summer would stagger everyone, as well as the size of the boats that go in today. When people are invited to come to our country to spend their money and use these small harbours and wharves, we need an asset that is not just safe and does the job as a working site, but there has to be a bit of pride in upkeep and that kind of thing.

I speak very highly of this motion. It would go a long way toward fixing up some of the harbours that have been neglected for so long and I know that the minister has been working on that.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, this subject matter is certainly of interest to me. It is an important issue.

As a matter of fact, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has gone before the liaison committee to request funding for all members of the committee to visit small craft harbours on the east coast. They are doing some work and looking into these problems.

I wonder if the member could advise the House whether the motion before us now is in fact going to address the substantive issues and problems that the committee seeks to identify on its trip to the east coast.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to be honest with the member. I am not aware of all the issues that he referred to, but if they are related to some of the neglect and whatever that has been going on as far as repairs, I would like to say that they were. However, without having further knowledge on that, I cannot speak to it.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary has said from the start that the government is managing priorities. Now, in 2008, it has to manage priorities, because the wharves and harbours have not been maintained for 15 years.

It is like someone who wants to save money to pay off his mortgage, but who lets his house go to ruin. The roof and basement leak, but his priority is not to maintain his house, but to pay off his mortgage.

That is more or less what the Conservatives are doing. Even though they have a budget surplus, they are not maintaining federal infrastructure. Airports, harbours and wharves belong to the federal government.

My question is for the member. If Fisheries and Oceans Canada has no money to maintain small craft harbours, should we ask the department responsible for helping developing and war-ravaged countries, the Department of International Cooperation, for money to build roads on the lower North Shore and maintain our wharves?

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not really sure there was a real question asked. I noticed that the member talked about paying down the debt and that is something this government believes in. The NDP has never seen a surplus that it would love to spend, the Liberals have never had one they did not spend, and the Bloc will never get a chance to spend money. This government and this minister will put money in the right place to address it. That is what this motion is all about and I urge him to support it.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There are about three or four minutes remaining in the time provided for consideration of this motion.

The member for Manicouagan.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today during the debate on small craft harbours. We all know the terrible state that regional harbours are in. I have the good fortune to represent the people of the North Shore, in a riding that spans 1,350 kilometres along the north shore of the St. Lawrence and the Gulf, and is divided into 74 municipalities, including aboriginal reserves. We are taking about a major investment of $400 to $600 million to safely reopen the wharves and small craft harbours, primarily on the North Shore.

The federal government's only investment so far was for the installation of a sign, about 18 by 24 inches, that says: Dangerous wharf. No trespassing. What we have in our ridings are houses of cards and crumbling infrastructure. Fishermen, shippers and users of these wharves cannot safely be on them.

I have had to intervene a number of times, during the time of the Liberals as well as the Conservatives. But as I said, we are helping developing countries build roads and create infrastructure, but unfortunately, we do not even maintain our own infrastructure. It is not a matter of money; it is a matter of bad faith on the part of the government, which does not invest in its own facilities.

There was a port divestiture program. The problem is that there is no money in the program. The government would like to hand these harbours over to the harbour authorities or the municipalities, but unfortunately, no one is interested in acquiring a white elephant or a house of cards. It takes money. We know there is a municipality in Quebec that would like to acquire a harbour infrastructure. This has to be done through an order in council, and the municipality does not necessarily have the means to maintain, manage and operate these wharves.

I was jokingly saying that the federal government helps developing countries build roads and infrastructure, but, unfortunately, it does not even maintain its own infrastructure. We see that with harbours and also with airports.

Do you know how the federal government settled the deficit at the Baie-Comeau airport? It closed the control tower, eliminated the airport fire fighters and removed parking security.

At the time, the materials used for building the harbours were not protected by breakwaters. There is a dredging problem, a safety problem for loading and unloading, and problems launching the boats. We are asking the government to maintain its own infrastructure and the wharves. It is the federal government's responsibility and property.

On the North Shore, in the large riding of Manicouagan, and mainly in the Lower North Shore, there are no roads. The only access to these towns is by water in spring and summer, and everything comes in and goes out by boat.

The federal government did not just build these wharves on the North Shore on a whim; it built them out of necessity. There was a growing desire to use the seaway. Perhaps if it were used more there would be fewer transport trucks on the road, which would be better for the environment, and our infrastructure could be used. It is hard to use the seaway without the necessary harbour infrastructure.

What we are asking for is very simple: that the federal government use money and maintain its own facilities.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put the question necessary to dispose of the motion before the House.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Income TrustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 14th, 2008 / 1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this income trust broken promise petition on behalf of Ms. Janetta Lavery, who remembers the Prime Minister boasting about his apparent commitment to accountability when he said that the greatest fraud is “a promise not kept”. The petitioners remind the Prime Minister that he promised never to tax income trusts, but he recklessly broke that promise by imposing a 31.5% punitive tax, which permanently wiped out over $25 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians, particularly seniors.

The petitioners therefore call upon the Conservative minority government to admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions; second, to apologize to those, particularly seniors, who are--

Income TrustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member for Mississauga South knows he cannot read the text of the petition but can just give a brief summary. It sounded like he was reading the terms of the petition. I will allow the hon. member for Mississauga South a very brief time to sum up the petition and then we will move on.

Income TrustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is what the petitioners are calling for: the first is to admit that it was flawed methodology; the second is that the government should apologize to those who were hurt by it; and finally, it should repeal the 31.5% tax on income trusts.

Manufacturing IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present this petition of great importance to millions of Canadians who are both directly and indirectly affected by the manufacturing crisis. In the past five years alone, over 250,000 hard-working Canadians have lost their jobs in layoffs, and plant closures have crippled the manufacturing sector. At the same time that these Canadians are struggling, the government is awarding massive public contracts to foreign companies at the expense of our homegrown industries.

This practice cannot continue. Canada needs to develop its own manufacturing plans, similar to those in the United States that protect and give assistance to this vital sector. We must remember that the manufacturing sector is vital to Canada's economic infrastructure and industrial stability. I urge my fellow members to stand with me and these petitioners as we develop a strategy to help Canada's manufacturing industry.

Security and Prosperity PartnershipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition on behalf of residents in Victoria who are asking that the government declare the SPP null and void because, in their opinion, it violates the peremptory norms of international law related to true security. These norms are intended to promote and guarantee human rights, to enable socially equitable and environmentally sound employment, to ensure preservation and protection of the environment and so on.

They reason that because Canada has signed agreements that commit the country to these objectives, signing the SPP would run counter to these, and Canada should therefore not now sign agreements and adopt regulations that run counter to these principles.

Security and Prosperity PartnershipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, a number of petitioners from right across British Columbia, and in fact from ridings of all three of the parties that represent British Columbia, are also expressing great concern over the government's progress on the SPP, the security and prosperity partnership. They find that the more they know, the more they fear.

They are asking the government to bring it to public attention and public debate in this place, which would be a novel concept for the government, and also to cease and desist any further agreements until such a public discussion has happened, which is a very reasonable and democratic perspective.