Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for sharing his precious speaking time with me. Given that this is a mammoth, monstrous bill, 10 minutes is nowhere near enough time to comment on certain aspects. I want to sincerely thank him for sharing his time so that I can speak to certain aspects of the budget that are of particular interest to the people of Beauport—Limoilou.
Before I begin, I cannot help but pick up on the parliamentary secretary's comments. I would like to ask him where the replacement fighter jets are. Where are the ships that are supposed to maintain the operational capabilities of our armed forces and the coast guard? While we are at it, I could even ask where, at the bottom of the river, the paintbrush for repainting the Quebec Bridge has wound up. I could do as my Conservative colleagues have done and list all of this government's failures, but it would take too long and I would not be able to address the sensitive issues that are of particular concern to the people of Beauport—Limoilou.
We have amply highlighted the omnibus nature of this bill, which is more than 450 pages long and contains more than 400 clauses. It is terrible and completely disrespectful of Canadians. That is not to mention the time allocation motion, which severely limits our debates, in addition to the farce we can expect in the committee hearings. This budget implementation bill is meant to go to the Standing Committee on Finance. However, the Conservatives will continue to show contempt toward all Canadians in studying the bill by making it impossible to amend various parts, including, no doubt, at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, of which I am very proud to be a member.
Let us move on from the Conservatives' shameful behaviour and focus instead on the part in division 16 of the bill on the amendments to the Canada Marine Act. Hon. members are aware of the issue affecting the people of my riding, Beauport—Limoilou, namely the high level of contamination by a mix of dust, including nickel dust, from the Port of Québec, due to the operations of the Quebec Stevedoring company.
Obviously, like everyone else, I took up reading this immense bill under unspeakable conditions. After looking at the summary, I decided to focus on this division. There are a number of changes that open the door quite wide. It makes us wonder about the government's intentions and deeper motives. When it changes aspects and sections of our statutes, it does not just make minor changes, without intending to have these sections apply more broadly. Once the door is open it is impossible to close it again without a very strong will. I will raise a number of questions related to that.
I will start with clause 228:
228. Section 46 of the Canada Marine Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2.1):
(2.11) A port authority may acquire federal real property or federal immovables, if supplementary letters patent have been issued.
That property will become “real property or immovables other than federal real property or federal immovables”.
That will already have serious consequences. Hon. members likely know that a Canadian port authority cannot transfer, dispose of, or borrow against federal real property or federal immovables.
Clearly, once the door is open we can imagine what will happen. Furthermore, the government is taking a piecemeal approach because, depending on the port authority, it will issue letters patent tailored to certain circumstances on a case-by-case basis. It is our understanding that these amendments were intended to resolve a particular case in one part of Canada, or that they represented a concession in that particular case. Nevertheless, this could have many negative, even dangerous, repercussions for the people living near a port or a major Canadian port authority.
I would like to mention that all major Canadian cities have a port authority. Thus, very large populations could be affected by these changes. Potentially, these changes could ultimately result in complete or piece-by-piece privatization. We have absolutely no idea where this will stop, so why not?
I will now talk about clause 231 of the same bill. This clause adds quite a number of elements to section 64 of the Canada Marine Act. How this is done is quite surprising. This affects undertakings situated in a port, and the Governor in Council will have the authority to:
...make regulations respecting any undertaking...that is situated or proposed to be situated in a port, including regulations respecting the development, use and environmental protection of the port as it relates to the undertaking or class of undertakings.
When we look at all the details, we realize that once again, the government, in an underhanded and secretive way, can, through regulation, introduce individual rules tailored to the needs or even the whims of businesses working in our major Canadian ports.
Since the contaminated dust issue blew up two years ago—the government is still valiantly trying to keep that out of the spotlight—Quebec Stevedoring has always tried to shirk its responsibility and take advantage of a system that lets the company get away with it. Unfortunately, if I understand the logic of these new provisions, that system might be obligingly provided by a government that received nearly $20,000 in donations from the company's senior executives, including the founding president of Quebec Stevedoring.
It is scary to see the door wide open like that and the red carpet rolled out for a select group of friends, so of course we have legitimate questions. Unfortunately, we are looking at this as part of a huge omnibus bill. We will have no choice but to exercise our right to vote on the bill as a whole. Obviously, we are going to vote against the bill because it contains too many unacceptable measures.
Then government representatives will be able to drone on, squawk and get all offended about how we voted for this or that measure, and they will generally behave in a way not befitting adults. I will not call it childish, because that would be disrespectful to children. As it turns out, children behave better than many adults.
I will end there, because I could go on for another 10 minutes, but I cannot fault my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for wanting 10 minutes to stand up for his constituents.
If it ever passes, section 64.93, which is part of clause 231, indicates that:
No civil proceeding may be brought, no order may be made and no fine or monetary penalty may be imposed against Her Majesty in right of Canada or a port authority, in relation to an undertaking that is situated in a port, under regulations made under subsection 64.1(1), based on any right or interest held by Her Majesty or the port authority in that port.
We will have to see what the scope will be, but this clause raises a lot of questions and does not answer the concerns we might have.
In conclusion, what is really disappointing and what we need to strongly condemn is the fact that the government will try send this division to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for review.
Unfortunately, though, we will not be able to examine it in depth or propose any amendments. Nothing will be done right, and the Conservatives will likely take the opportunity to do some nice things for their friends.