I am very familiar with the western part of her riding, which used to be part of Beauharnois—Salaberry, the riding I represented before the boundary changes of 2015.
Like the current riding of Salaberry—Suroît, Châteauguay—Lacolle includes a city that contains half the constituency's population, as well as several rural areas. Montérégie-Ouest is a fantastic agricultural region that is also facing some challenges.
I fully understand my colleague's need to change the name of the riding to Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville. As my other Conservative and NDP colleagues said, we understand and commend the initiative shown by the member in consulting her constituents, doing historical research, and keeping an election promise. That is why we are going to vote in favour of her bill.
However, I am wondering, and everyone else is too, why my colleague chose to go with this process and this tool, namely, a private member's bill, given the economic, social, and environmental issues affecting our region and the fact that the government has a process in place to handle riding name changes. Members mentioned an omnibus bill where all members had the opportunity to participate and propose new riding names. We are still able to do that.
The party leaders have already agreed on the process to allow all members of the House to propose new riding names and change the names of their ridings before the 2019 election.
We must first tell our House leader about the name change. Then, the staff of the House leaders will compile a list of the members whose ridings names need to be changed. A member is chosen to draft the omnibus bill that will encompass all of the riding name changes of all the MPs who submitted proposals.
Elections Canada will then be consulted to make sure that everything is in order with regard to the riding names and the time allocated to make the necessary changes. The member will then amend the bill as required, introduce it in the House of Commons, and seek the unanimous consent of the House to change the names of all of the ridings in question at the same time.
That process was used in 2014 with Bill C-37, which enabled all those name changes.
Why did my colleague from Châteauguay—Lacolle use a member's privilege, the privilege to introduce a private member's bill? We know that just over half the MPs will have the privilege of debating their bill in this Parliament. Our names are drawn out of a hat, and chance alone determines where our bill ends up on the list and whether we get to debate it right away.
For example, I am 194th on the list, and I may have the opportunity to debate my private member's bill. That means I have to choose my bill carefully. The bill my colleague chose to debate has to do with changing her riding's name. She could have done that and also chosen another issue altogether. She could have done both to have a positive impact and make life better for the people of her riding and all ridings in Canada, but that is not what she did.
I am quite surprised that she chose to use this tool to promote a name change that we all agree on and will vote in favour of.
I consider introducing a private member's bill on this topic a lost opportunity because a private member's bill can be life-changing for thousands or even millions of Canadians. For example, in Montérégie-Ouest, there are a lot of issues that would benefit from a private member's bill to bring about economic, social, or environmental change.
Les Jardins-de-Napierville is part of what is known as the “Jardin du Québec”. Many agricultural producers are located in this region and they need the support of their local MP.
First, we might consider the challenge of seasonal workers. We know that the vegetable farms need hundreds of foreign workers in their fields between March and October or November. There should be protections for these workers when the government negotiates free trade agreements.
If we look at NAFTA, there are no guarantees that supply management will still be there tomorrow. We have talked about this and raised the issue many times. Why not create a bill on one of these agricultural issues in order to help the agri-food sector, especially since it employs one in eight Canadians?
Our region needs to be more attractive to small and medium-sized businesses. Our rural regions have a dire need for things like high-speed Internet, 4G service, and infrastructure to help young entrepreneurs and to secure businesses that are already established in the region. Back home, a common joke is that when it rains, there is no Internet. When it is windy, there is no Internet. Could the hon. member have worked on a bill to improve that situation for our schools, hospitals, workers, and students?
An economic bill would also have been useful, especially from a government member, who may have the inside track on getting her bill passed.
The environment is another critically important issue. Protecting our waterways is as important for my colleague's riding as it is for mine and for every riding in Canada. In fact, my colleague was invited to the announcement on dismantling the Kathyrn Spirit, which is a threat to a drinking water supply in Beauharnois, on Lake Saint-Louis. That shipwreck has been rusting away for six years. I would have liked to get more support from my colleague from Châteauguay—Lacolle on this subject and to see her work with the hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
It is rather ironic that both bills were debated today. Bill C-352, introduced by my colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith has been muzzled. We cannot vote on her bill because the government decided to declare it non-votable in order to make room for the Minister of Transport's bill, which would actually have complemented C-352. The 50 coastal communities that helped develop this bill for the past 15 years will not get to see members of the House vote on it.