Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned the party's position on how important it is that we establish air transportation and its many different benefits, both for Canada and other countries, as we move forward and look at possible agreements. There I was pleased to hear the presenter of the motion talk about countries where there has been some progress. He referred my question about the Philippines, which I do appreciate.
I want to highlight one of my pet peeves. The New Democrat member talked about how the number of people visiting has actually gone down significantly over the years. This reminded me of the many issues with temporary visas that I deal with as citizenship and immigration critic. All members of Parliament hear of the great frustration of people abroad who want to travel to Canada, but who are required to get visitors visas to come to Canada, many of which are rejected for a wide variety of reasons. It is a multi-faceted problem that we face when looking at trying to increase the number of people coming to Canada through our airline industry. Part of that increase is through visitors. If and when we see visas rejected, ultimately family members in Canada go to those countries as opposed to their family members coming here. I want to emphasize that point.
Having said that, Winnipeg has a brand new international airport and CentrePort, an initiative that the provincial government, in co-operation with Ottawa, planned for what we believe is a wonderful economic opportunity for the province of Manitoba. The airlines, both cargo and passenger, are absolutely critical to the success of CentrePort. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. We are talking about the future of thousands of jobs for the community of Winnipeg and beyond. Ultimately when we talk about these types of jobs and numbers, all of Canada benefits as a result.
For CentrePort and the Winnipeg International Airport to prosper in the future and for us to realize its potential, it is critical that we look at the ways we can enhance air travel and cargo. For decades, I remember Gary Filmon, a former premier of Manitoba, talk about Winnport. Winnport used the idea from the east coast of an airline transporting fresh lobster from the east coast to Europe in a 747 aircraft.
I recall the debate in Manitoba about why we could not export some our merchandise in a much larger fashion. I remember people saying “Why not even look at pork products and having fresh pork products?” That was back in the 1990s.
Winnport never really got off the ground, but CentrePort has. In essence, it is the same concept that we talked about in the 1990s. The difference now is that multiple or different levels of government have invested millions of dollars to ensure—