Mr. Speaker, I found the comments made by the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan thoughtful. She raised some important issues, particularly the issue of the economic impact to small craft harbours.
She referred to the study that was done in B.C. That is very important to bear in mind as we consider this topic. We are not just talking about keeping a particular piece of infrastructure well maintained, but it has a lot of spinoff benefits as well.
I want to draw the member's attention to the supplementary opinion by the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore on behalf of the NDP. I am just a bit confused by it and I hope she can help me understand it better. It says that it is the NDP's position that any divestiture of wharves, the small craft harbours, must have financial and human resources in place long before the divestiture takes place. I wonder if she can just give us a bit more on what that might mean.
The part I am most confused about is where it says, “The federal government should continue to remain a partner after the divestiture to assist with necessary maintenance like dredging or critical repairs to infrastructure”.
Even before that it says, “The federal government must continue to be a partner in supporting small craft harbours and wharves, even after the divestiture of a small craft harbour to local harbour authorities”.
That is where the confusion comes because harbour authorities are those bodies that run the harbours that are not divested. They operate and manage on behalf of the federal government those core harbours. When we go through the process of divestiture, the government is basically selling that harbour to somebody taking it over, in most cases, to a community or non-profit group. There is a bit of confusion, but I think this question has been raised before.
What is divestiture all about if somebody takes it over and then the federal government, according to this paragraph at least, is responsible for dredging, maintenance and so on? Those are exactly the things that the small craft harbour program does with the non-divested harbours, so what is divestiture doing if we are making all the same financial commitments that we had before divestiture?