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House of Commons Hansard #95 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rail.

Topics

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to six petitions.

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development in relation to its statutory review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

I am very pleased to report that the committee has considered the votes of the main estimates 2012-13 under agriculture and agri-food and reports the same.

PovertyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to table a couple of petitions on behalf of some constituents.

The first petition is with regard to Bill C-233, An Act to eliminate poverty in Canada.

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors ActPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition pertains to something which members on all sides of the House have been supportive of, my colleague's Bill C-311, to modernize the archaic 1928 Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act.

We want to free our grapes and let the wine flow across the provincial borders, so we can have a much more enjoyable Canada from coast to coast to coast.

Electro-Motive DieselPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions. The first is from the community of London and former workers of Electro-Motive Diesel.

The petitioners want the Parliament of Canada to know that Caterpillar illegally removed production equipment from EMD in London against the collective agreement. It forced a lockout on December 30, 2011, and demanded that the workers take a reduction in wages and benefits in excess of 50%, and accept a reduced and insecure pension plan. All of this is despite the fact that these workers had made Electro-Motive Diesel a very profitable company. In fact, productivity had increased by 20%, and the profits were up in the billions of dollars over last year.

The petitioners are requesting that the Parliament of Canada investigate the conditions of the sale of Electro-Motive Diesel to Caterpillar, and to immediately enforce any and all appropriate penalties should there be violations under the Investment Canada Act.

I might add that in light of the recent debate in the House about the need to strengthen the Investment Canada Act, it is most appropriate that the petitioners are calling on the government to make improvements to the Investment Canada Act so that the travesty which happened to the EMD workers, their families and the London community does not happen again.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is great concern about threatened changes to the old age security program. The petitioners regard this as a direct attack on the poorest seniors who rely on that money for daily living expenses.

In February of this year, the official opposition moved a motion which called on the House to reject the proposal by the Prime Minister to increase the eligibility age for old age security and also called on the government to take the necessary measures to eliminate poverty among seniors.

Therefore, the petitioners are calling upon Parliament to maintain funding for the OAS and make the requisite investment in the guaranteed income supplement to lift every senior out of poverty.

Suicide PreventionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a number of petitions signed by people from Ontario and Alberta pointing out that suicide kills, on average, 10 Canadians each and every day, which means there are almost 4,000 preventable deaths each year. The petitioners also point out that suicide is not only a mental health issue but it is also a public health issue.

Therefore, the petitioners are calling on Parliament to adopt measures to recognize suicide as a public health issue, provide guidelines for suicide prevention, promote collaboration and knowledge exchange regarding suicide, and promote evidence-based solutions to prevent suicide and its aftermath, and to define best practices for the prevention of suicide.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to present two petitions. The first is entirely from constituents in my riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands, from Mayne Island, Pender Island, Victoria and North Saanich.

The constituents petition the House to take action on the climate crisis, specifically to put in place real plans to meet targets set by the House in votes in the 40th Parliament to reduce greenhouse gases by 25% against 1990 levels by 2020, and by 80% against 1990 levels by 2050. We are lagging woefully behind in having any plans at all.

Mr. Speaker, the second petition deals with the proposed Enbridge project across northern British Columbia leading to supertankers along the coastline of British Columbia. The petition is signed by residents of Grande Prairie and Calgary, Alberta, residents of Whistler and Vancouver, British Columbia, and residents of Ottawa.

The petitioners beseech the government to cease and desist from acting as the public relations arm of industry and to await the fulfillment of environmental assessment reviews before taking a position on the project.

Human RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to submit petitions on behalf of petitioners in the greater Toronto area on the issue of human rights in Sri Lanka.

The petitioners point out that the report of the United Nations Secretary-General's panel of experts on accountability in Sri Lanka has found credible allegations which, if proven, would indicate that war crimes and crimes against humanity took place in the last days of the war. The petitioners indicate that the establishment of an independent, impartial, transnational justice mechanism to investigate the allegations is necessary. They also indicate that it is a duty under international law to address the violations of international humanitarian human rights. They also indicate that Canada has been recognized internationally as a champion of human rights and justice.

The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to urge the United Nations to immediately establish an independent, international and impartial mechanism to ensure truth, accountability and justice in Sri Lanka.

Republic of the Fiji IslandsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I continue to receive many petitions from thousands of Canadians across the country pointing out that Canada has closed its high commission serving the Republic of the Fiji Islands. They point out that Fiji is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, that all immigration business and other matters between Canada and Fiji must now be handled through the Canadian High Commission in Sydney, Australia. The petitioners point out that this causes inordinate delays and inefficient service for tourists, and with respect to visa business and immigration issues for Canadian and Fijian citizens. The petitioners point out that the United States, Australia, New Zealand, China and India all have embassies or high commissions in Fiji.

There are over 100,000 Canadians of Fijian descent who travel very extensively between Canada and Fiji. The petitioners therefore request that the government reopen the high commission in Fiji in order to provide the kind of consular services that these Canadians both need and deserve.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 412 and 415 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 412Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

With regard to the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) responses to the provisions of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR): (a) according to the government’s analysis, do the IRS provisions comply with the provisions of the Convention Between Canada and the United States of America With Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital and its amending Protocol (2007); (b) are there Canadian exemptions to FBAR; (c) has Canada negotiated the FBAR provisions with United States Treasury Officials or the IRS, (i) at what time was the government made aware of these provisions, (ii) how long did it take for Canada to respond to the changes made by the IRS and the United States Treasury; (d) how will the government ensure that the CRA does not act on behalf of the IRS to collect revenues and penalties; (e) has Canada informed dual citizens about their tax obligations resulting from FBAR; (f) what was the number of exchanges of information between Canada and the United States of America this year and during the past ten years regarding FBAR, (i) has the CRA set internal deadlines to be able to respond to exchange of information requests in a timely manner, (ii) will Canada work to improve bilateral cooperation on this issue, (iii) has there been an increase of exchange of information requests at the CRA due to FBAR; (g) will the government lose revenue as a result of the implementation of FBAR; (h) what are the cost implications emanating from FBAR (i) for the government, (ii) for the CRA, (iii) for Canadian banks, (iv) who will absorb these costs, (v) are there other types of non-financial costs such as efficiency or fairness reductions; (i) how many complaints has the CRA received regarding FBAR or related vexatious inquiries by the IRS, (i) what are the main complaints, (ii) what has the CRA done concerning these complaints, (iii) what department at the CRA is in charge of dealing with complaints of this nature, (iv) will the CRA cut Full-Time Equivalents from that department or reduce its funding, (v) has the office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman looked into the matter; (j) will FBAR prevent double taxation of pre-migration gain; (k) has there been an increase in arbitration cases due to active procedures by the IRS, (i) what departments are most affected, (ii) has the CRA cut Full-Time Equivalents from each of these affected departments or reduced their funding; (l) will FBAR affect different saving vehicles such as, but not limited to, (i) Registered Retirement Savings Plans, (ii) Registered Education Savings Plans, (iii) Registered Disability Savings Plans, (iv) Tax-Free Savings Accounts; and (m) how many Canadian-American dual citizens are affected by FBAR and does Canada have contact information for the dual citizens affected by FBAR?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 415Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

With regard to Natural Resources Canada’s ecoENERGY program: (a) what is the total amount spent, broken down by year and province, since the program’s first year of operation up to and including the current fiscal year on (i) ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes, (ii) ecoENERGY Efficiency, (iii) marine renewable energy enabling measures, (iv) the clean energy policy group, (v) ecoENERGY for biofuels, (vi) ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative; (b) how many individuals or organizations have received grants for each of the programs listed in (a), since the first year of operation up to and including the current fiscal year, broken down by year and province, (i) what is the average amount of the grants awarded, (ii) how many applications were submitted and how many rejected, (iii) what was identified as an “acceptable” turnaround time for the receipt of grant funding, (iv) how many approved grants were processed beyond a “reasonable” turnaround time; and (c) other than the programs listed in (a), which programs to combat climate change and promote energy efficiency are currently funded by Natural Resources Canada, and what is the total amount spent on each of these programs?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Private Members' BusinessRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The Chair would like to take a moment to provide some information to the House regarding the management of private members' business.

As members know, after the order of precedence is replenished, the Chair reviews the new items so as to alert the House to bills which at first glance appear to impinge on the financial prerogative of the Crown. This allows members the opportunity to intervene in a timely fashion to present their views about the need for those bills to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

Accordingly, following the February 16, 2012 replenishment of the order of precedence with 15 new items, I wish to inform the House that there is one bill that gives the Chair some concern as to the spending provisions it contemplates. It is Bill C-383, An Act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act and the International River Improvements Act, standing in the name of the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

I would encourage hon. members who would like to make arguments regarding the need for a royal recommendation for this bill, or any other bills now on the order of precedence, to do so at an early opportunity.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

Safer Railways ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

moved that Bill S-4, An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Transportation Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present to you today for second reading Bill S-4, An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Transportation Act.

I believe this is the first time I have ever had the honour of presenting a bill that is as finely crafted, broadly applauded and widely supported as Bill S-4.

This legislation has been in development for more than three years, with constant consultation and input from all levels of government, industry and labour stakeholders. It has also been commented on by witnesses, dissected clause by clause by standing committees on two separate occasions, and approved unanimously by all parties both times.

Clearly, the debate is over. It is now time to pass this important bill as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of Canadians.

Bill S-4 is clearly a progressive and forward-looking bill, and the amendments it contains will mean better safety for Canadians and Canadian communities, better protection for our fragile environment, and a stronger Canadian rail industry in a stronger national economy.

All of these things are priorities for our government, and I believe that they are priorities for all members in the House.

There is nothing more important than the safety and prosperity of Canadians.

As many members may know, the bill has quite a bit of history. For many years, the safety of Canada's federal railways was regulated under the Railway Act, which originated at the turn of the century when Canada's railway system was rapidly expanding. The Railway Act was designed for an older era. At that time, much of the national rail system was under construction to open up new territories to encourage settlement.

In 1989, the Railway Act was replaced by the Railway Safety Act, which was designed to achieve the objectives of the national transportation policy relating to the safety of railway operations and to address the many changes that had taken place in the rail transportation industry in recent years. The Railway Safety Act gave direct jurisdiction over safety matters to the Minister of Transport, to be administered by Transport Canada where the responsibility for other federally regulated modes of transportation resides.

Following a review of the Railway Safety Act in 1994, the act was amended in 1999 to further improve the legislation and to make the railway system even safer. Those amendments were designed to fully modernize the legislative and regulatory framework of Canada's rail transportation system. They were also designed to make railway companies more responsible for managing their operations safely and to give the general public and interested parties a greater say on issues of railway safety.

These changes were commendable, but there was a problem. A number of high-profile train derailments in 2005 and 2006 across the country—in Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and in other provinces—resulted in fatalities, serious injuries, significant environmental damage and negative economic impacts for railways and communities.

These tragic accidents caused concern for the public and the government and focused national attention on rail safety. They also provided the impetus, in part, for the Minister of Transport to launch a full review of the Railway Safety Act in 2007. The objective of the review was to identify possible gaps in the act and to make recommendations to further strengthen the regulatory regime.

The seriousness of those derailments also provided the incentive for the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to begin its own railway safety study. The Railway Safety Act review was led by an independent panel of experts who commissioned research and held extensive public consultations across the country. Interest in the consultations was high and all key stakeholders participated, including railway companies and associations, labour organizations, national associations, other levels of government, municipalities and the public.

The panel's final report, “Stronger Ties: A Shared Commitment to Railway Safety”, was tabled in the House by the Minister of Transport in March 2008. In the report, the panellists noted that although the Railway Safety Act and its principles are fundamentally sound, more work is needed and a number of legislative improvements are required. The report contained 56 recommendations to improve railway safety in Canada.

The standing committee, which also conducted extensive stakeholder consultations, accepted the panel's recommendations and tabled its own report in the House in May 2008. The committee's report also made 14 recommendations, many of which built on those that came from the Railway Safety Act review.

The authors of both reports identified the main areas that required improvement and recommended increasing Transport Canada's resources in order to increase its ability to monitor compliance and enforce the legislation and take new rail safety initiatives.

Transport Canada agrees with the recommendations made in both reports and has taken steps to implement them through a variety of government-industry-union initiatives and through these proposed legislative amendments to the Railway Safety Act, which are required to address key recommendations and enable many safety initiatives.

In fact, Transport Canada took action to address these concerns almost immediately after receiving them.

In March 2008, following the publication of the report on the review of the Railway Safety Act, we established the Advisory Council on Railway Safety in order to get the process of consultation started again and to consider future directions in railway safety, the development of rules, regulation, policies and other matters of concern. The advisory council is made up of representatives of the main stakeholder groups, including Transport Canada, railway companies such as CN, CP and VIA, short line and commuter rail companies, the Railway Association of Canada, shippers, suppliers, other levels of government, and unions. The council has met three or four times per year since it was established, in order to work collaboratively on the strategic matters of railway safety that were raised in the report.

Additionally, working with the railways and the major unions, Transport Canada has established a steering committee, made up of representatives of Transport Canada, the industry and the unions, to oversee the development of action plans for implementing the recommendations in the report on the Railway Safety Act review and the report on the study conducted by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. The committee has been supported by six technical working groups in addressing ways in which to implement the recommendations of concern not only to the regulatory body, but also to the industry and the unions, and in keeping the ACRS informed of their progress.

These joint technical working groups included teams devoted to the rule making process, safety management systems, information collection and analysis, proximity and operations, environment and new safety technologies. Together, those groups were assigned 24 recommendations by the steering committee. All of them have completed their work. Their recommendations have been, or are being, implemented. In addition to the work of these groups, Transport Canada implemented eight internal recommendations. Industry implemented three recommendations that pertained to the companies. The final 21 recommendations are related to legislative changes which we are discussing today. In short, these amendments to the Railway Safety Act are the final component of a well-orchestrated and well-funded drive to make our railways safer.

In budget 2009, the government affirmed its commitment to a safe, reliable transportation system by earmarking $72 million over five years to implement important rail safety measures and legislative initiatives. These amendments to the Railway Safety Act that we see before us today are the fruit of that commitment. This initiative also shows how important these amendments are to the government, and it reflects the government's commitment to seeing these amendments implemented as soon as possible so that Canada can reap the benefits from them immediately.

In March 2010, the government introduced Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act. It contained essentially the same range of changes as the bill before us today does. Bill C-33, which all the parties in the House supported, was considered in detail by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and then approved unanimously by all hon. members after some minor changes were made.

Unfortunately, Bill C-33 died on the order paper after many consultations, analyses and a very favourable reception, because the opposition chose an unnecessary election over the safety of Canadians. Knowing how important these essential amendments are with regard to safety, we reintroduced the same bill in the Senate, with the changes that everyone had agreed on.

Since then, a number of witnesses representing stakeholders have expressed their views and the bill has been reviewed and discussed at length in the standing committee of the other place. I am very pleased to say that the Senate committee, like ours, unanimously approved the bill with a slight change that was essentially administrative in nature.

There is clearly a lot of support for this bill from all parties. There have been thorough consultations over several years. The bill has been agreed upon in its various formats by all key industry stakeholders, as well as members of both the House and the other place. It is our responsibility to end this long debate and expedite the passage of this important legislation for the benefit of all Canadians. The safer railways act is acknowledged as the blueprint for the future of rail safety in this country. It would directly address the safety challenges that have been identified by two national reviews with innovative legislative solutions that would help make our railways and communities safer for years to come.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to highlight some of the key amendments included in Bill S-4. Each one is an important part of a comprehensive safety package.

In accordance with the recommendations arising from the Railway Safety Act review and the study by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the amendments under review will improve Transport Canada's oversight capacity by conferring on the Governor in Council the authority to require railway companies to obtain a railway operating certificate, attesting that they have met basic safety requirements, before commencing their activities.

The operating certificate, which will demonstrate that the company complies with baseline safety requirements, will apply to all railways under federal jurisdiction. Existing companies will have a two-year period from the coming into force of the amendments under review in which to meet the requirements for the certificate.

The amendments in Bill S-4 will also strengthen Transport Canada’s enforcement capacity in order to ensure better railway company compliance with safety rules and regulations. To that end, the department will apply monetary penalties to improve rail safety. The maximum amount of the penalties will be $50,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a corporation.

The new act will also strengthen Transport Canada’s enforcement powers by increasing fines to levels consistent with those for other modes of transportation. Maximum fines for convictions on indictment for a contravention of the act would be $1 million for a corporation and $50,000 for an individual. Maximum fines on summary conviction for contravention of the act would be $500,000 for a corporation and $25,000 for an individual.

One of the most important benefits of Bill S-4 is the increased focus on the importance of safety management systems. As members may know, a safety management system is a formal framework for integrating safety into day-to-day railway operations. During the Railway Safety Act review, stakeholders were supportive of the SMS approach to safety, but some felt that improvements were required before SMS could be considered fully implemented.

The amendments we are discussing today address those concerns. For example, under Bill S-4 all railway companies would be required to appoint an accountable executive responsible for all matters of safety. The legislation would also require all railway companies to implement whistleblower protection so that employees felt encouraged to report safety violations without fear of reprimand.

Railway companies would also be required, through the auditing process, to demonstrate that they continuously manage risks related to safety matters through the use of safety management systems. Changes like these would encourage the growth of a true culture of safety at both the corporate and operating levels of railway companies.

I noted earlier that the Senate committee had unanimously approved this bill with one minor change related to safety reporting. Although this bill originally called for the development of a new safety reporting process with the Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada, all parties agreed that a reporting system already exists—the Transportation Safety Board—so that clause was struck. The rest, as mentioned, was agreed on unchanged.

The Safer Railways Act is clearly a step forward in terms of oversight, enforcement and the implementation of a safety system in the industry. It also advances safety in the administrative area by clarifying the authority and responsibilities of the minister in respect of railway matters. For example, these amendments will clarify that the legislation applies to all companies operating on federal track and will ensure that those companies are subject to the same high safety standards.

Bill S-4 is about safety. It is also about protecting our environment. By expanding regulation-making authorities, this legislation will allow Transport Canada to request an environmental management plan from all railways for federal review.

It will also allow a requirement for increased environmental information collection and railway equipment labelling related to emissions. These amendments plus an additional amendment to provide regulatory authority to control and prevent fires on railway rights-of-way are critical to strengthening environmental protection in the industry.

And that is what the amendments to Bill S-4 are basically all about: better oversight tools to ensure safety; enhanced safety management systems to build a stronger rail safety culture; and additional authority to help protect our environment from unnecessary degradation.

It is hard to argue with the importance of these amendments. Railways are an integral part of our infrastructure now, and they will be so in the future. We need them to be strong. We need them to be dependable. And we need them to be safe. All Canadians can benefit from that.

We believe that these amendments to the Railway Safety Act are essential and timely. Bill S-4 modernizes the Railway Safety Act to reflect the requirements of a growing and increasingly complex rail industry, and I believe that we can all agree to the important safety amendments contained in this bill both quickly and unanimously.

The bill is a step forward for Canadians, for safety and for the rail industry. With the agreement of the members today, we can take these steps together today, for a safe, reliable and economically viable freight and passenger railway system in Canada. The bill has been extensively debated over several years and has received wide support. I recommend that it be submitted to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for further discussion.

I urge all hon. members to give this important bill their unanimous support.

Safer Railways ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of this side of the House, we certainly do welcome this long overdue legislation. We will be hearing more from our critic from Trinity—Spadina in a few minutes.

However, I would like to take this opportunity to ask the minister a question I have asked him before with respect to rail safety for Vancouver Island. Members are aware that VIA Rail suspended passenger service on the island nearly a year ago. At that time, the province offered to put up $7.5 million, half of the costs of repairing the railbed, to get safe passenger service moving again. I have asked the minister several times whether the federal government would come up with its share of those costs. I was assured that the minister is studying the request.

My question again today is this. When can we expect to see a positive answer with respect to getting the passenger rail service, which I note was promised in Confederation for British Columbia, back onto the rails in Vancouver Island?

Safer Railways ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Denis Lebel Conservative Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are speaking about safety and security for all of the country.

“Several” does not have the same meaning for the member as it does for me. He asked me and I gave him an answer. We are still analyzing the issue. That is what we will continue to do.

However, today I ask for his support to provide safety for all of the railways in the country.