Mr. Speaker, I was very surprised to hear the reply by the Minister of Public Safety to the question I asked in this House on November 18. My question was simple:
...under the pretext of cutting costs, the government is penalizing our region. While the economy remains fragile, the government's measures are harmful to farmers, tourists, emergency services that have cross-border reciprocal agreements, and all of the families that feel torn apart by these service reductions.
Will the government commit to reopening the border crossings that have been closed and returning the others to their former hours of operation?
Unfortunately, the minister's reply had nothing to do with my question. Instead, he used this exchange to criticize the political party to which I belong. Therefore, I will again ask my question in the House today.
Let me point out to the minister, who accuses the NDP of shutting down the Canadian economy, that the Canada Border Service Agency's decision to reduce the hours of operation of the three border crossings in my riding has directly paralyzed the economy of my riding and, indirectly, that of Canada. In my riding, the border crossings of Morse's Line in St. Armand, East Pinnacle in Frelighsburg, and Glen Sutton in Sutton are affected.
The impact of these cuts to a public service is major. They affect the economy of border communities because they interfere with the flow of goods, services and people. Since these measures were implemented on April 1, 2011, they have had a negative effect on my riding's economic vitality.
People can no longer move about freely. Many American tourists like coming to discover and visit communities in my riding. When border crossings are open only from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., people cannot spend the whole day in our region. Families are also suffering because of this change. Many people in my riding have family members in the United States, and shorter business hours at border crossings mean that they see their loved ones less frequently.
Service cuts have also reduced the flow of goods and services. This is a problem for farmers and firefighters on both sides of the border, who have agreements to respond to emergencies on both Canadian and American soil. These measures also hinder socio-economic development and are crippling my riding.
In conclusion, I hope that tonight, I will get an answer to the question I asked on November 18.