House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was csec.

Topics

The House resumed from November 8, 2013, consideration of the motion.

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a member of Parliament, I take my role as a legislator very seriously. I believe that we all need to remember that we are here in Ottawa to propose measures, laws and regulations on behalf of our constituents.

All of our ridings vary in size and population, but I think we all agree that there is a lot of distance to cover and there are a lot of people to meet in this great country.

My colleague, the member for Laurentides—Labelle, a riding next to mine, moved a motion to ensure that our regulations are appropriate for different communities across Canada. I believe that that is the very essence of what we do.

His motion builds on the local knowledge and expertise of municipalities, which would be able to adjust the regulations to their own specific situation. I will read the motion:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should, following consultations with provinces, territories, municipalities and First Nations, carry out a review of the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations with the objective of facilitating and accelerating the process allowing local administrations to request restrictions regarding the use of vessels on certain waters in order to improve how waters are managed, public safety and the protection of the environment.

In his view, that is the way to properly handle this issue, which is important for his riding and mine. First, not only does the government need to consult and work with other levels of government and first nations, but it also has to have a critical yet positive attitude toward regulations.

Whenever I work with the RCMs, the mayors of various municipalities in my riding, the people's representatives and various local organizations, such as NPOs, I see their passion for their communities and all the opportunities to get them involved in positive and fruitful initiatives to benefit their constituents.

The various waterways used for recreational boating are governed by a hodge-podge of regulations at all levels of government. Navigation falls under federal jurisdiction, whereas riverbanks, rivers and the environment fall under provincial jurisdiction. Municipalities can ask the federal government for additional restrictions and are ultimately more present on the ground to deal with the various problems that arise.

Since the municipalities are the level of government most directly present on the ground and closest to their communities and their people, they are clearly in the best position to act quickly and effectively in response to each local situation.

This motion in no way changes the levels of jurisdiction. It simply improves the process of adapting regulations to local contexts.

One mayor from my riding, Scott Pearce, mayor of the Township of Gore, is particularly involved in and concerned for the protection of lakes and rivers. Here is what he had to say about the role of municipalities in the management of boating:

Larger boats with heavier motors are being purchased more and more frequently for use on small recreational lakes across Canada. These boats, wake boats, are produced to create very large wakes. Many of the cottage lakes are not large enough to withstand the erosion caused by these wave-producing boats.

For example, Lake Barron in Gore is only 3.5 kilometres long and only a half a kilometre wide at its widest.

As currently legislated, any property owner, due to the fact that the lake is navigable, can put a 60-foot luxury liner on the lake.

This is illogical as the shoreline erosion caused is irreversible and the fish fraying areas are greatly damaged.

If the federal government will not allow local governments to legislate for watershed protection, they should at least classify lakes across Canada by surface acreage and legislate maximum size of boats, motors, and all other motorized water vehicles.

Local governments often have on staff biologists who can monitor and recommend changes that could be instituted to protect our waterways for future generations.

I think Scott's position clearly demonstrates the problem at hand and demonstrates the importance of having local government leaders who are knowledgeable about the situation, have proximity to the situation, and are committed to finding practical solutions for their communities.

I also want to share with the House words from another municipality in my riding, Morin Heights, which is right next to Gore. They passed at their city council meeting a motion in support of the resolution by my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle. Here is its assessment of the situation.

Considering the present process which allows for a municipality to ask Transport Canada for restrictions on waterways is long, complex and costly;

...the requirements hinder the speedy settlement of disputes and open the door to many disagreements in the communities and have often been criticized by municipalities;

...municipalities are closer to citizens and therefore in a better position to propose changes regarding how waters are managed throughout their territories;

[the motion] would allow for better management of the waterways and better protection of the environment, improve public safety, and lessen a number of local conflicts over the use of the lakes and waterways;

The solution that my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle is proposing is to cut the red tape.

When it comes to managing recreational boating, that is what needs to be done. My Conservative colleagues should be pleased to hear the NDP talk about faster and more efficient bureaucracy. I hope there will not be any doublespeak because we know that bureaucracy cuts both ways.

By the way, I think it is a shame that the Conservatives will tackle bureaucracy when it gives them more power and refuse to get rid of certain rules to make them better suited to the different municipalities. I sincerely hope that there will be no holdups regarding this motion and that the Conservatives will support it.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of budget cuts that affected our lakes and rivers. I do not want this to make them blind to our local needs in terms of lakes and rivers. These needs are very important for the local development and identity of our regions. I absolutely want to emphasize that point to my Conservative colleagues. The environmental protection of these navigable lakes in my riding, such as Lake Parent, is important on an economic level.

In closing, I want to come back to the role of the legislator, which is at the centre of this motion. Our primary mission is to improve the laws and regulations for all Canadians and Quebeckers and to make them more effective and efficient and better adapted to the different communities across this vast country of ours.

The motion's goal and subject matter, as well as my colleague's approach, demonstrate a positive and inclusive vision of public affairs and politics. It demonstrates a desire to divide the work among levels of government and, at the same time, a desire to work together to get better results for Canadians.

It should be easier for municipalities to make legislative changes in relation to their waterways. They know the people in their municipalities and are well positioned to ensure social peace. There are often local conflicts about how the lakes should be used in the municipality of Morin-Heights. Municipalities should also be allowed to better manage navigation on their waterways and to limit the presence of motorized vessels. It would help us do a better job of protecting the environment. Social peace and environmental protection are our main goals.

In addition, this motion is designed to reduce red tape. The current regulatory framework shows that the system is slow and inefficient.

To conclude, I would like to point out that this motion would not cost anything. It simply states that we can do better and it gives us the tools to make that happen. This motion is another example of the work being done by the NDP to improve government for everyone.

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a point of clarification at the beginning. I am not the member for Cape Breton—Canso and have not been for a long time. However, had he been given the opportunity to speak, and had he known what he was supposed to be speaking about, I am sure he would have enraptured this entire chamber with his eloquence. Unfortunately, members are stuck with me.

I would like to compliment my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle on this initiative. It is an important initiative. We all relate it to our personal experiences.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, you and I live in some proximity to each other. You have a very famous facility just north of Lake Orillia, and I cottage somewhat east of that. I would say it is about $200,000 east. We all have traffic. You, in particular, have traffic that comes off Lake Simcoe, up Lake Couchiching, and into the system. I have a lesser amount of traffic, but it is nevertheless a great deal of traffic. We will have both noticed that the boats are not getting any smaller, and the Sea-Doos are not getting any quieter, which is taking a toll on some pretty nice lakes and rivers in our respective communities.

That is the issue my colleague is trying to address. To rein in the excesses of some cottagers, a very small group of cottagers, the municipalities sometimes struggle to manage traffic flow. I know that the OPP intervenes from time to time, but that is an intervention on the basis of safety and criminality.

My colleague's concern is that there are vessels that are getting to the point that they are actually doing environmental damage, just by virtue of their size and speed. When a municipality wishes to rein in that behaviour, it finds that to obtain jurisdiction in the area, it has to seek the permission of the federal government.

I know that colleagues have some frustration trying to get things done around here. When we try to get something such as this done, there is buck-passing of a major order. What my colleague is trying to do, and I congratulate him for it, is slice that Gordian knot and get the buck to stop at the municipality or in the local jurisdiction that is most relevant to the lake or the river, as the case may be. I am mixing my metaphors, and I apologize for that. When the buck stops with the municipalities, they can impose regulations and restrictions, which would facilitate the peace, harmony, and good feelings that are generally associated with the lakes and rivers of Ontario, in our case, of Quebec, in my colleague's case, and certainly out in British Columbia and various other places.

We find ourselves in sympathy and in support of this initiative. We have some concerns about how this would occur and how we would transfer the jurisdiction from the federal government to the municipalities. Particularly in Quebec, some transfers would be a challenge. For us the issue is the how rather than the principle of it, but we certainly will find ourselves in a position to support the motion.

The member is right to say that no one regime fits all. Just going from lake to lake, there are differences in attitudes among cottagers. Some want a quiet, peaceful lake that is motor-free, and others want lakes where they can run around on Sea-Doos and tow skiers behind big boats.

Let me end with that. This is a good initiative. It is an initiative I hope money will flow to, because public funds are scarce. We would encourage him in his efforts to pursue this, and I encourage all members to support this motion.

I am thankful for the time and attention, and I only wish I was half as eloquent as the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso.

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be brief, but there are several points I would like to address in my speech, since I have been working on this issue in my riding since I was first elected.

I wish to thank my hon. colleague from Laurentides—Labelle for moving this motion, which aims to improve the regulation process for setting speed limits on the water. In my riding, there are several aspects to consider.

First of all, there is the matter of safety. For instance, in the summer, the Otterburn Boating Club has to stop all activities at 1 p.m. for safety reasons, because the power boats go so fast. That club is very concerned about this issue.

There are also some environmental concerns. I am sure that many of my colleagues have talked about this. That is also the reality in my region. For instance, the excessive speed of some boats can cause erosion of the shores of the Richelieu River.

There are also economic considerations. Certain facilities, such as wharfs, can be damaged. This can include public wharfs, which are funded by the federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as private wharfs. In my riding, there are a few hundred if not thousands of residences on the shores of the Richelieu River, extending from the Chambly basin to Mont-Saint-Hilaire and Beloeil. These residences have private wharfs. When people purchase a property on the waterfront, they often see that the facilities are damaged.

The nuisance factor must also be taken into account. Power boats are very noisy, especially in residential neighbourhoods. In fact, I have received a number of emails, letters and phone calls from constituents who wanted to tell me about this problem.

Every time I work on this issue, I tell my constituents that we are trying to find a solution that will serve as a compromise, one that respects everyone. I would also like to point out that I live in that region myself, and I also enjoy the use of those boats.

I have friends who wakeboard. There is nothing better than having a beer with friends before boating to Vieux-Beloeil and going to a restaurant such as Le Jozéphil or Restaurant Janick. When you see the number of boats there, you realize that this is about tourism. We do not want to stop people, including myself, from enjoying these types of leisure activities. I understand the importance of having fun.

However, when you live in a community, you have to share the natural resources. In this case, we are talking about the river. We want to find an amicable solution that everyone can agree on.

When I talk about this issue with people in my riding, I like to compare it to how fast people drive on the highway. For example, if people go 200 km/hour, we set a speed limit of 100 km/hour. We do not want people to drive slowly; we just want the speed to be appropriate for the different sections of the river.

There are different kinds of places along the river, and we would like the speed to vary accordingly. For example, where there are many residences, the maximum speed should be different than where there are no residences and where only the highway is located alongside the river.

Furthermore, some boats drive away from the wharf at high speed. That causes a lot of damage compared to a boat that is in the middle of the river. That is a very important point. In our community, everyone understands both sides of the argument and we want to find the middle ground. For that reason, I made a commitment that, one day, our section of the Richelieu River would have a speed limit.

I would like to talk about the current process, which is at the heart of this motion. The process is all over the place and creates a major burden for municipalities. Transport Canada's process is all about making it easier for municipalities where there are four or five cottages around a lake. It is easy to consult with four or five cottage owners on one lake.

However, it is much more difficult to consult, or to come to a conclusion that can be considered adequate, when you have a river like ours. That river, after all, flows out of Lake Champlain and ends in Quebec City.

Elected municipal officials and I have talked about this issue. We have also raised it with Transport Canada, unfortunately without receiving a satisfactory response. For example, do we have to consult with people from Laval because they come into my constituency with their boats? Do we have to consult the Americans who come visit us? Transport Canada had no answer to those questions. As I see it, that highlights the problems we see in this process.

About a year ago, we held a meeting with elected municipal officials and we invited Transport Canada officials to come and explain the process to us. A number of the municipal officials had a hard time finding answers and explanations that would enable them to start the process. It has been quite difficult.

I do not want to go after officials who are doing their jobs because I do not think that they are the problem. The regulations are making the process bureaucratic, and that is not necessary. Ultimately, decisions are being made by people who do not come to see us and who unfortunately do not understand the reality of our situation.

I can guarantee that every summer, on the front page of the Oeil régional or the Journal de Chambly, there will be a picture of a boat going top speed with a headline such as, “The Cowboys are Back”. I saw that headline last year. There are countless articles about my constituents who, although they respect boaters, believe that we need to take the right steps to protect our environment; protect the safety of other types of watercraft, such as kayaks and canoes; and protect various types of public and private facilities, such as docks.

We started this process before my colleague moved his motion, and we have seen resolutions in six of the twelve municipalities in my riding. Most of the municipalities are part of the RCM of La Vallée-du-Richelieu, and there was also the Fédération québécoise des municipalités and the Montreal metropolitan area, to which many of these municipalities belong. They all adopted resolutions supporting a clear speed limit all along the Richelieu River, especially in my riding.

I am sure that some of my neighbours will talk about the situation in their own ridings. Perhaps they already have, since we are nearing the end of this debate.

We also had the opportunity to meet with the president of the union for the Régie intermunicipale de police Richelieu-Saint-Laurent, which serves our area, as well as representatives from Sûreté du Québec. They feel that the problem is that they are not able to fine people who they believe are behaving dangerously on the river. However, the majority of people pose no problem; it is a very small minority.

In my riding, the towns of Saint-Basile-le-Grand, McMasterville, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Chambly, Carignan and Saint-Mathias-sur-Richelieu have all passed resolutions in favour of Motion No. 441, which was moved by the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle and which we are discussing today.

At a convention, COVABAR, an organization that works to protect the St. Lawrence and Richelieu rivers, also passed a resolution in support of my colleague's motion. That organization works mainly in my riding.

All of the municipalities that make up the La Vallée-du-Richelieu RCM have unanimously supported this motion. They recognize that there is a serious problem with the process.

We do not know if the consultations will be honoured. As I said, we keep hearing about a consultation process, but we cannot know in advance if we are consulting the right people or if Transport Canada will think the consultation was adequate. We are putting not only an administrative burden on municipalities, but also a financial burden. Furthermore, municipalities have to pay to advertise the consultation even though there are no clear criteria. They also have to pay all the other costs associated with such a consultation.

In conclusion, I hope that my own experience in my riding will encourage my colleagues to support Motion No. 441.

I would like to reiterate my commitment to the people of Chambly—Borduas: if not now, someday we will have a speed limit in place to protect our community.

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Jacob NDP Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support Motion No. 441, which calls on the federal government to give municipalities a tool that will facilitate and expedite the administration of the lakes in their area.

This motion is very important for rural communities throughout Canada, especially those that have many lakes. I counted about fifty lakes in the riding of Brome—Missisquoi alone. In my riding, municipalities face considerable challenges when they try to better manage their waterways. However, municipalities are closer to their citizens and in a better position to act on their behalf. That is why we believe that the process has to be streamlined.

In speaking to stakeholders from various areas, I learned that, in many cases, municipalities simply decided to withdraw from the administrative process. In some cases, the battle lasted for years.

I would like to talk about the situation in Brome—Missisquoi, for example. First of all, I would like to thank the Brome—Missisquoi watershed organizations for their great work over the years. I have learned a lot from them about the situation of the Brome—Missisquoi lakes.

For example, people regularly water-ski or use personal motorized watercraft on Lac Bran de Scie. When they do, the other recreational users have no choice but to leave in order not to be hit by a boat. The lake is small enough that a good swimmer can easily swim across it. However, it would be reckless to try it without being escorted by a boat and someone watching to protect the swimmer. There have even been boat collisions.

In 1987, on Brome Lake, a man drowned when his sailboat was hit by a motorboat. In 1990, on the same lake, a canoe was heavily damaged by a 225-horsepower motorboat whose driver was blinded by the sun. In the summer of 2005, a rowboat equipped with a motor just missed hitting two kayakers.

Motors are increasingly powerful and there are more and more boats on the water every year. On Brome Lake, there are more than 400 motorboats and half of them are equipped with motors of 50 horsepower or more. It is difficult for the authorities to monitor the situation.

The municipality of Orford township area is dotted with a multitude of lakes, and so are the surrounding municipalities. Since some of those lakes are quite large, in terms of surface area, officers obviously have trouble covering the smaller ones. That means that it is almost impossible to apply the current regulations on our lakes given the current legislative framework.

In addition to these safety issues, there are environmental problems. The noise pollution from some kinds of motors disturbs the people who live along the shores. The banks are also eroding because the wake from motor boats creates large waves. A large number of these boats are still driven by two-stroke engines. That particular kind of engine is known to discharge the oil it uses. However, many lakeside cottages get their drinking water from those same lakes. Clearly, using gasoline-powered engines on our lakes can have a negative effect on the health of the residents who use the water for their needs.

Because of this, a number of people are calling for restrictions on certain kinds of gasoline-powered engines or are asking that only electric motors be used in order to reduce the risk of pollution from the discharge of oil.

Banning motor boats on the Chaîne des Lacs in the Orford township has made news on a number of occasions. In June 2006, the municipality of Orford township held public consultations that led to submissions suggesting a ban on motor boats on the Chaîne des Lacs. Following those consultations, in November 2007, the municipal council passed, by majority, a proposal to ban motor boats, except those with battery powered electric motors.

They had to wait until the winter of 2009 before Transport Canada finally replied, turning them down. Instead, Transport Canada required compliance with the regulations in effect. This put an end to the initiative of the municipality and the local association, despite the general movement of support from the people.

The process in place under these current regulations may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the smallest municipalities, which simply do not have that kind of money. The process can be drawn out over several years, as it did in the example I gave. For a municipality of 1,500 people, starting a process that goes on for years needs legal counsel, which can be very expensive.

Under the current regulations, if the vast majority of people who live by a lake agree to impose a restriction, a single person can disobey the order and ride his 300-horsepower motorboat on a lake no bigger than Parliament Hill, for example.

Motion No. 441 presents us with the opportunity to work in a non-partisan way on this issue. As my colleague so aptly said, this motion is designed to reduce red tape, and it will cost nothing. If our friends opposite would like to vote in favour of the motion, I invite them to do so.

We believe that municipalities know the people and are well positioned to ensure social peace. In my many discussions with various stakeholders, three main aspects came up over and over again: social peace through better municipal control, greater environmental protection and less red tape.

Keep in mind that in 2008, the summary of the regulatory impact analysis stated that the increase in waterway activity led to an increase in disputes between waterway users. Many municipalities reacted by asking for restrictions on navigation.

It is our duty to respond to their request by supporting this motion. Already, more than 40 municipalities have each indicated their support for this motion. I invite the members of the House to do the same.

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle wishes to exercise his five-minute right of reply. He has five minutes.

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to close the debate on Motion No. 441, which aims to review the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations.

Many of my colleagues have raised some very interesting points, and I would like to clarify a few things.

The problem with these pleasure craft is a real one. No one is making it up. Since my election, this is one of the most frequent requests I receive. People want something to be done about these boats. Everyone said that it was up to the federal government and that nothing could be done. They would then raise the issue of a jurisdictional wrangle between the various levels of government.

In the end, after examining the navigation act, I figured that the only way to intervene in this context would be to work with the existing legislation, so that is the approach I used in Motion No. 441. The request to amend the regulations already exists. The only problem is that the bureaucracy is so cumbersome that people become discouraged before anything can actually be done. Also, we have to trust the people. Even in my riding, there are many lakes where the lakeshore residents have established voluntary codes of conduct and successfully agreed to exclude certain boats from those lakes.

However, one problem remains: this has no legal bearing, as long as the government refuses to change the regulations. A lakeshore resident who wants to breach a voluntary code can simply take his or her boat out on the lake. This person can take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court, and he or she would win, because no one can interfere with navigation. I figured that the best way to proceed would be to use a provision that already exists in the legislation. The government has been preaching for some time about eliminating red tape and simplifying bureaucracy, and this would be an excellent opportunity to do so, especially since it would benefit citizens directly.

My colleague talked about the situation on the Richelieu River, which I know very well. I have friends who live on that river. At night, some boats with huge V8 engines go right by the houses doing more than 100 km/h. You can hear them for five minutes. It is no surprise that a coalition of about 10 political bodies and organizations have asked the Minister of Transport to take action on the marine traffic on the Richelieu, claiming that the current process is too cumbersome. Clearly, there is a problem.

We do need to trust people. People who live on a lake and in the same community have many opportunities to calmly discuss and find a compromise that almost everyone can live with. There may be two or three stubborn people who will insist on doing what they want. However, the current process can drag on for years. It went on for 10 years in the case of the Columbia River wetlands.

I have heard from watershed groups and associations of waterfront property owners in Quebec. They told me that they were discouraged and had not even started the process because it was so complicated. I saw one municipality that submitted an application to change the regulations and was told that if it was missing the minutes of one meeting, a single document or the slightest bit of evidence that they had made announcements, the application would not even be considered. That is far from being democratic. We need to simplify the bureaucracy and red tape—

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. The time provided for the right of reply has now expired.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Navigation RestrictionsPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, a recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, February 5, 2014, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

Intergovernmental RelationsAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to return to the question I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages last November 28. My question was simple and the importance of the government’s commitment should be clear. I asked whether the government would commit to investing the funds needed to restore the Grenville Canal in my riding.

First, I want to take some time to give you the background for this request. The Grenville Canal is a significant historic heritage site for my region, and for all of Quebec and Canada. Its importance comes from its potential for economic, recreational and tourism development in the Argenteuil area. The canal, which extends along the Ottawa River between Montreal and Ottawa, is one of the earliest examples of military canal-building in Canada. Construction began in 1819, in order to facilitate navigation to Kingston and the Great Lakes.

It was initially designed for military purposes in response to the Anglo-American War of 1812. It was built as part of a transportation network that included the Carillon Canal—still in operation in my constituency, being run by Parks Canada—as well as Chute-à-Blondeau, which is in my constituency as well.

Although they have no qualms about using the War of 1812 for publicity for their members and their government, the Conservatives do not seem to want to take a stand on protecting the heritage of that historical era. That is the case for the Grenville Canal. The walls of the canal have been deteriorating for years, and this has led to its closure because of the obvious lack of safety for local residents and the general population.

The municipality of Grenville and its 1,600 residents cannot absorb the entire cost of maintaining the canal. The federal government has owned and managed the canal for 161 years; it has a duty to protect Canadian heritage and should assume responsibility for preserving this navigable waterway along the Ottawa River.

For that reason, and as the NDP member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, I demand that the federal government take action to preserve the Grenville Canal.

I will therefore put my question to the government once more: will it undertake to invest the money required to save the Grenville Canal?

Intergovernmental RelationsAdjournment Proceedings

February 4th, 2014 / 6:55 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the canal is located along the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Montreal. It was constructed between 1819 and 1833 to bypass the rapids of the Ottawa River and to play a defensive role in any potential future conflict.

When completed, the Grenville Canal combined with the Carillon Canal, the Chute-à-Blondeau Canal, and the Rideau Canal to form an essential military supply and communications route between Montreal and the Great Lakes.

Although originally designed for military use, the Grenville Canal quickly became an important commercial route. By the 1870s its shallowness made it inadequate for commercial use and it was completely rebuilt. All traces of the original canal were removed in the construction of its replacement. The Grenville Canal was eventually closed in 1959 with the construction of the Carillon Dam, which flooded almost all of the canal, leaving only a short surviving section.

Since 1919, the Government of Canada has been commemorating important aspects of Canada's history through national historic sites, persons and events. The Government of Canada has recognized the important role of the Grenville Canal. On the advice of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, it was designated in 1929 as a national historic event. In 1931, a large stone cairn was constructed to hold a bronze commemorative plaque. That original 1930s cairn and plaque are still in place today, proudly sharing with Canadians the historical significance of the Grenville Canal.

I would like to assure the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel that our government is strongly committed to supporting communities and to the preservation of Canada's built heritage.

Just before Christmas my colleague, the Minister of the Environment, announced the government's renewed commitment to Parks Canada's national historic sites cost-sharing program.

Since 2009, our government has funded a total of 132 projects across the country for the conservation of non-federally owned national historic sites. Through these projects we have injected $177 million into local communities, which clearly demonstrates our commitment to conserving and presenting Canada's history for future generations of Canadians.

Our government will continue to be proud stewards of the Rideau Canal and work to ensure that it is protected in order to provide personal moments of inspiring discovery for Canadians and for people from around the world.

Intergovernmental RelationsAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think it is appalling that the government and the parliamentary secretary are hiding behind the designation of “historic event” instead of “historic site” to justify their refusal to protect this canal.

Regardless of the designation used by the parliamentary secretary, the community and heritage groups consider it a priority to protect the canal. In 2009, the canal made Heritage Canada The National Trust's top 10 endangered places list. I will share a quote from the organization's website:

Without immediate action this historic site will be lost forever.

There is far too much work required to reopen the canal for a municipality like Grenville, which has about 1,600 residents. They cannot take on the cost of this work alone. Although the RCM of Argenteuil has provided assistance for short-term solutions, we could end up completely losing this canal in the long term.

Describing a canal as an “event” as a result of its state does not prevent it from deteriorating even more.

Why do the Conservatives want to let this historic canal deteriorate, when it represents an economic opportunity for my region?

Intergovernmental RelationsAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government has indeed invested record amounts in protecting heritage sites and in commemorating the War of 1812. Through Canada's economic action plan, it has been this Conservative government that has undertaken many initiatives to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. These include infrastructure and capital improvements to a number of historic sites across Canada associated with the War of 1812, such as Fort Malden, Fort Chambly, Queenston Heights, and the St. Andrews Blockhouse, as well as significant legacy projects at Fort Mississauga and Fort York.

These investments in heritage conservation are an effective way of ensuring the long-term legacy of the War of 1812. However, it is a shame that the opposition continues to vote against our efforts to invest in commemorating Canada's rich history.

Intergovernmental RelationsAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:01 p.m.)