House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was victims.

Topics

Lake of the Woods and Rainy River Basins
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am wondering if we might find unanimous consent in this place to do something that cannot be done anywhere else, and that is move the clock forward to see it as 6:30 p.m.

Lake of the Woods and Rainy River Basins
Private Members' Business

October 5th, 2010 / 6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Is there consent to see the clock as 6:30 p.m.?

Lake of the Woods and Rainy River Basins
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, before I ask the hon. parliamentary secretary my question, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Republic of Portugal on its 100th anniversary.

It was on this day, October 5, 1910, that the First Portuguese Republic was introduced, led by Teofilo Braga and then Manuel De Arriaga, both from the Azores where I was born.

As a proud Canadian and on behalf of my constituents and Canadians of Portuguese descent across the country, I wish to congratulate the country of my birth on its centennial.

On May 11, I raised a question for the Minister of Transport regarding the need to electrify trains that will soon be running through my riding of Davenport.

The current plan is to operate up to 400 diesel trains per day through these neighbourhoods. Residents of my riding are concerned by these developments, and they have told me at every opportunity just how concerned they are about the health and quality of life impact of having so many diesel trains operating so close to their homes and businesses. Clearly these concerns are legitimate and must be addressed.

They have told me that they are worried about the environmental impact of hundreds of additional diesel trains running close to their homes and parks along the Georgetown corridor.

They are also concerned that the lack of commitment by the federal government on electrification is more evidence of the fact that Canada does not have a long-term plan to support public transit in our cities.

I share these concerns. I too live in the Davenport community, and my constituents and I will continue to press the government on this issue until it makes a commitment to support safe, affordable and environmentally friendly public transit in our cities.

Since the spring of 2009, I have been working with my constituents and area community leaders in repeated efforts to deal with agencies involved in this project. We have raised matters such as the excessive noise of construction crews pile-driving all day long and how diesel trains will affect the health of our neighbourhoods.

Over the course of the last number of months, I have spoken and written to officials of the Canadian Transportation Agency, Metrolinx and provincial ministers and departments to try to come to acceptable solutions for affected residents.

Now that the noise issues have been resolved for the most part, it is imperative that we deal with the kind of trains that will operate along the Georgetown line. Postponing this decision is not a solution. In fact it is the problem.

What Torontonians and all Canadians deserve is a plan with a vision, a long-range infrastructure plan, and now is the time to make the needed commitment so that these rail lines will be electrified.

Waiting 25 years, all the while using unproven diesel train technology, is not only short-sighted but it is poor public policy. Delaying electrification only increases costs in the long term, and during this period the health impacts on residents are simply unacceptable.

Electric trains are a proven commodity in most major European and Asian cities in both urban transit and regional rail links like the Georgetown line. This is a technology that has been used for years in these parts of the world.

People in my community and communities across the region are deeply concerned about this issue, and I am too. It is inconceivable that we not take this opportunity to do the right thing and bring forward electrified trains for this project now, not at a some future undetermined date.

I was proud to sign the clean train coalition's pledge along with other politicians across the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government because now is the time to electrify this line.

I will continue advocating for the residents of my community with all levels of government involved in the funding of this project to ensure that electrification of the corridor is implemented now.

What specifically is the government prepared to do to assist public agencies and the Government of Ontario to ensure that the rail line project uses electrified trains now?

6:10 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, the electrification study being undertaken by MetroLinx regarding whether, and under what conditions, the GO system would convert to electrified trains is due to be completed either late this year or early next year. It is important to wait for the results of this before entering into any discussions with the Government of Ontario and local municipalities regarding their priorities for transportation system investments.

As the House knows, we continue to work with our partners at both the provincial level and the municipal level in getting things done. Obviously, in this particular case, the provincial government has jurisdiction in relation to most of the decisions.

To wait for the report, to me, seems to be the most logical way to proceed, recognizing that it is those levels of government, both the municipalities and the province, that are accountable for knowing their systems and are best able to speak to the systems' most pressing needs. As the member has brought forward some of those needs, I am glad he has been meeting with the provincial government and the other government members in the province of Ontario because, of course, that is their jurisdiction.

I want to be very clear. This Conservative government has responded to local transit needs by partnering with the Ontario government and the municipalities, including the City of Toronto which has received a lot of federal funding because of its large population and we recognize it is in need. These investments by the Conservative government have been identified by the provincial government and the municipal governments as essential transit projects and that is why this government has invested in them.

In addition to these numerous projects in the greater Toronto area, we have also committed up to $600 million for rapid transit in Ottawa. We have listened closely to the local government in Ottawa and it has identified this need as well.

Also, we have invested $265 million for the Waterloo region rapid transit, which was also identified by the province and again by the municipal government.

When this government talks about infrastructure funding with our provincial counterparts, we make an effort to meet the identified priorities at a local and provincial level because, of course, those levels of government are closer to the people and can better identify their priorities. That means working directly with our partners in areas like transit where the jurisdiction, as I mentioned, is at the provincial and municipal levels, and it means listening, which of course we do. As they identify their key priorities on a continuous basis, this government will continue to listen and act on those priorities.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, while the parliamentary secretary mentioned that the province was mainly responsible for the administration of this project, the federal government is a major source of funding for this project because they are partners. The federal government must take a leadership role and actively demand electrified trains along this corridor.

Our party has long made public transit a cornerstone of our vision for cities, a position that has been echoed by many organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce which has advocated for a national transit strategy to assist our municipalities.

Will the federal government adopt a national vision for our public transit and will it ensure that safe, environmentally friendly public transportation is a priority for projects like the one in Toronto?

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Madam Speaker, I would remind the member that his party was in government for 13 years just a short time ago and never in those 13 years has any provincial or municipal government seen the level of infrastructure funding that this federal government has provided in partnering with the city of Toronto, the Province of Ontario and all provinces and territories in this great country. Never has there been an historical level like this, not even close, since the second world war.

It was through mechanisms like the building Canada fund and the Canada strategic infrastructure fund, which finances large scale projects, including public transit projects, as well as through ongoing and permanent transfers that this government made permanent to municipal governments through the gas tax fund, it was this government, not that government, that made those permanent so that municipalities would know long term what their money would be and what money would be flowing in from the federal government so they could make long-term investment solutions. It was this government that did that. This government has reached a level of investment in transportation and public transit projects that is unprecedented in modern times.

We are proud of our record. We look forward to that member and the Liberal Party joining us in future endeavours to support the people of this great country.

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. The House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:15 p.m.)