House of Commons Hansard #297 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

moved:

That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that this House respectfully disagrees with amendments 7(c) and 8 made by the Senate to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The member for Trois-Rivières on a point of order.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will be brief. I want us to do the reasonable thing here. I do not see how we can respectfully tell the Senate we reject its amendments without providing an explanation.

That is why I am about to seek the unanimous consent of the House to move a motion recognizing that, for the months—years almost—that we have been debating Bill C-49 here, grain producers and transporters on the ground have been waiting for an answer. That is just to address this aspect of rail transportation. Bill C-49 has quite a few other things going on too, of course.

I am seeking the unanimous consent of the House for the Senate's amendments 7(c) and 8 to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, to be now read a second time and concurred in.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to once again speak to the several benefits to shippers this historic piece of legislation would provide. Bill C-49 represents a watershed moment for Canada's freight rail sector. It would put in place the right conditions over the long term for a safe, fair, efficient, and transparent freight rail transportation system, for the benefit of all users.

We understand the concerns of captive rail shippers in the Maritimes, but it is critical that we ensure the continued viability and fluidity of the eastern rail network, including through the Montreal area. The proposed amendments from the other place would apply to a significant portion of the tonnage moving on CN's network in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Subjecting this traffic to long-haul interswitching, LHI, could impact the future viability of CN's rail services in eastern Canada, particularly on the northernmost branch line in New Brunswick, where line abandonment has been threatened in the past.

While LHI will not be expanded to allow captive shippers in the Maritimes to access the remedy in Montreal, the bill would make significant improvements to existing remedies that would benefit these same shippers. Shippers in the Maritimes would continue to have access to other shipper remedies contained in the act, many of which would be improved by the bill, including a definition of adequate and suitable rail service; the ability of shippers to seek reciprocal financial penalties in their service agreements; final offer arbitration, FOA; and a new, anonymous dispute resolution service.

Despite the many benefits this bill would provide, some continue to push for further amendments to the final offer arbitration process, a process that is already highly valued by shippers in its current form. However, FOA would already be strengthened under Bill C-49 by allowing shippers to pursue FOA to extend the applicability of an arbitrator's decision from one to two years and by raising the financial threshold for pursuing this streamlined summary FOA process for rate disputes from $750,000 to $2 million, therefore allowing more small and medium-size shippers to use this option.

Bill C-49 would also require railways to provide significant new data and performance metrics, including on rates, things that have never been available before. This would improve transparency, which would help shippers in their negotiations with railways.

Under the existing legislation, an arbitrator is already allowed to request technical assistance, including costing and legal assistance. There is nothing in the act that obligates the arbitrator to seek the consent of railways for such assistance, and the arbitrator can hold any failure to disclose information against a railway when coming to a decision.

Bill C-49 would benefit shippers in a variety of ways. In particular, it would enable shippers to seek reciprocal financial penalties; shorten the process for level of service from 120 to 90 days; allow a shipper to extend FOA decisions from one to two years; change the financial threshold for participating in a streamlined arbitration process; make certain temporary agency authorities permanent; recognize the agency's informal dispute resolute authority; and require railways to provide significant new data and performance metrics, including new data on rates. It would also provide agency “own motion” powers to investigate service-level issues in the freight rail system.

Passage of the bill is of the utmost urgency. Grain farmers and shippers are depending on the bill to prepare for the coming harvest season. Many stakeholders, including the likes of the Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley, the Grain Growers of Canada, and Cereals Canada, have stressed the need for Bill C-49 to be passed before the summer recess. These groups represent hard-working Canadians who are urging parliamentarians to pass the bill expeditiously, and in turn, to fight for them and their livelihoods.

The government and minister have carefully considered the risks, benefits, balance, and impacts of the policies in this bill. The bill has been thoroughly studied and debated for more than a year now in the two chambers. Prior to this, issues were studied by the Canadian transportation review panel, chaired by the hon. David Emerson. There has been an extensive series of additional round tables and consultations. All the input provided by stakeholders and witnesses was shared with the respective panels and committees.

It is clear that the other place wants the same as the government: an effective, efficient, and balanced rail system for the long term. The essential nature of the whole transportation system requires extensive study before changes are made to ensure that we do not end up with unintended consequences that put our system at risk. This study has taken place, and the government has produced a bill that best serves Canadians over the long term. There are many Canadians who will benefit from this bill, and they are eager to see it passed. It is now time to move forward.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is rather odd that the rush to pass Bill C-49, which I can easily understand, given how many people are waiting for it on the ground, is being hampered by the Liberal government's lack of openness. Instead of accepting a unanimous motion that sought to recognize the senators' work and approve these two amendments, they are making us go back to debate.

If that is what they want, then let us go back to debate. I will repeat my question, focusing on just one of the two amendments proposed by the Senate. History buffs may recall that it must be 12 years or so since we last saw amendments ping-ponging like this between the Senate and the House.

Why are the Liberals refusing to treat all regions of Canada equally, which is the very essence of the Senate's amendment 7(c)?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about Canada's transportation system, we talk about the need for it to be effective, efficient, fair, balanced, and comprehensive. Sometimes we might think something is a small change, maybe a local issue, but it could actually end up having nationwide consequences.

There has been considerable study, work, and effort put into the policies included in this bill. All those impacts have been taken into account. That is why this balance and an overall view is so important.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the parliamentary secretary's tone. Obviously she has a position she has to peddle in this place. I understand that. I have been a parliamentary secretary.

I am just going to share something with this place. There is nothing more frustrating and more basic to human nature than when we get into an organization and an idea is given to the organization that maybe is contrary to the initial thoughts of that organization. If there is not sufficient buy-in, it will say it is not its idea, and it is therefore going to oppose.

By opposing the amendments from the Senate, which has given thoughtful consideration to those proposals, the parliamentary secretary is, in essence, pushing the burden onto so many farmers, who cannot get their grain moving in sufficient time. This parliamentary secretary and the government are slowing this whole process down. Will they not just admit that the reason they do not support the Senate amendments is that they are not their idea? That is the worst thing we can do for this country at this time.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, knowing how extensive, complicated, and complex transportation systems are across this great country is why we take the time. We need the time to study what the impacts are going to be. What are the advantages and disadvantages? What we are trying to do is create a long-term system that is going to serve Canadians and will provide them with the stability and predictability they need and the flexibility in the future to address challenges that come our way. It has taken a great deal of study to get to this point, and we are confident that we have found the right balance.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, my concern is that at the very beginning of the presentation of this bill, we encouraged the Liberals to remove the freight train portion out of the large omnibus bill. The member says that it is very complicated and that it requires a lot of research and decision-making. The very part that we need for our stakeholders, who help our economy to function, has been slowed down and they are not able to get their products to port. Now we see the Liberals delaying again.

Why did the Liberals not take that initiative at the very beginning and ensure our freight was available to agriculture, natural resources, and manufacturing across the country?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it comes back to the idea that we do not look at a transportation system in single elements. It has to be a comprehensive, integrated system. If we only gets one piece of the puzzle right but the rest of it does not function, we have not made any progress. That is what we have tried to do.

We have tried to look at this from a comprehensive point of view and ensure the entire system is integrated. There are some gaps, there are some choke points. We will continue to work on that to ensure it works properly coast to coast to coast.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, the previous Conservative MP spoke on the fact that we had offered earlier to split out those provisions of the bill, and that would not have changed anything in those sections. That would have just accelerated it.

The parliamentary secretary cannot have it both ways. The Liberals cannot say that we need to study and understand and that everything needs to be integrated, when we offered to see their proposal move forward so we could give certainty to those grain farmers who need this right now. Why are they so opposed to working with anyone except themselves?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, again, it is important that we do the study and look at each element of the overall transportation system, but we cannot just do it in isolation. We have to figure out how it connects into the system as the greater whole, and that is what we have done. We have tried to look at things in isolation so we can get into the depth and into the detail to ensure we understand it properly. Then we need to look at the overall system and ensure that it is all integrated, that it fits together, and that it provides the kind of fluidity in our transportation system.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with my colleague when she says that it is important to do all the necessary studies. However, we disagree beyond that, because I feel that the only studies the minister seems to listen to are those proposed by the government.

The parliamentary committee and the Senate might as well be working in a vacuum. They spent months studying this issue and hearing witnesses and relevant testimony on all of these matters. They are proposing carefully crafted amendments that pinpoint or illuminate specific factors that the government may have overlooked in its haste.

Why is the government refusing outright to approve the two remaining amendments? In this legislative ping-pong match, these are the two amendments the Senate is insisting on passing. Coincidentally, they are also amendments that were proposed by the opposition parties during the committee study.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has accepted amendments from the parliamentary committee and from the other place, and when possible, we do. However, the long-term study of the transportation system of Canada has been going on for years. We have experts who come to committee, we have experts who testify, and we also have experts within the department itself. They have studied all the amendments that have come forward. They have put it against their own experience and their expertise. It is those recommendations on which we will move forward.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, our farmers and producers have been waiting for this legislation for years. It is long overdue. It would help move our commodities. In particular for me, coming from the Prairies, our wheat is so very important. When I sat in opposition, we waited and we challenged the Stephen Harper government to materialize on it, and it never did. We have.

Could my colleague comment on how important important it is that we deliver this legislation in a timely fashion?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear when we listen to the many stakeholders who have been very vocal about this. Alberta wheat, Alberta barley, the grain growers, and Cereals Canada have all expressed, very clearly, how important it is to get Bill C-49 passed as soon as possible.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it would be remiss of me not to mention the great hockey win last night by the Winnipeg Jets. It is good to see that team move on. Las Vegas will be an interesting challenge.

In recognition also of today, I dug deeply into my closet and found my railroad tie, which I am proud to wear today. My closet of ties is very extensive.

I rise today to speak to the government's second motion regarding the Senate's amendments to Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act.

It has frankly taken too long. It is ridiculous that the Liberal government has taken so long to pass the bill. Just like the first response by the government to the Senate's amendments, this second motion by the government will further delay the bill's passage.

It might be a little strange for me, a Conservative opposition MP, to say I want the government to pass its own bill, but that is exactly the case. The Liberals had another opportunity to do it this morning. It is the Liberals who are delaying the passage of Bill C-49, as they voted against doing it this morning.

This message that the Liberals are delaying the passage of Bill C-49 is going to be the theme of my speech this morning, because it is the truth.

I would like to go back in time to September 2017. I had the opportunity to join the House of Commons transportation infrastructure and communities committee for a number of full days of witness testimony on Bill C-49 in the week prior to the House returning for our fall session. During the days of witness testimony, we heard from many witnesses that the bill needed amending. These calls for amendments were frequent and, in many cases, repetitive among certain stakeholder groups.

My Conservative colleagues on the transportation committee and my NDP friend the member for Trois-Rivières heard these calls and put forward a number of small reasonable amendments as called for by the stakeholders, whose industries and businesses represent billions of dollars to the Canadian economy. Had the Liberals not been so politically stubborn, they might have accepted those amendments that my Conservative and NDP colleagues put forward at that committee.

They would have been better off to do so because once the bill made its way to the Senate transportation and communications committee, many of those same amendments were introduced at the Senate committee. It is worth noting that many of these amendments were supported by senators of all political stripes, including hon. senators from the recently formed independent senators group.

The first delay of Bill C-49 by the Liberals was the rejection of the very reasonable opposition amendments at the House of Commons committee, recommended by the many witnesses.

The second delay by the Liberals to Bill C-49 was how long they took to decide what they would do with the Senate's amendments. The Senate sent its message to the House of Commons on April 16. Farmers, agriculture groups, as has been mentioned by the parliamentary secretary, and Canada's manufacturing, mining, and forest industries had to wait two weeks to find out what the government would do with these amendments. For two whole weeks it dithered on what to do.

The third way the government delayed passage of the bill was by rejecting many of the Senate's amendments. When the government finally revealed its position on the Senate's amendments, shippers in these important industries were very disappointed with what they saw, not just because the government weakened or rejected amendments they felt were important but because they knew this move by the government would cause further delays to the passage of Bill C-49.

Instead of agreeing with all the Senate's amendments, which would have resulted in quickly sending the bill off for royal assent, the government chose to do a mixture of accepting a few amendments, amending a few others, and rejecting the majority of them.

My colleague the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, who is doing an excellent job of holding the transport minister to account, proposed an amendment to the government's motion to accept all the Senate's amendments. Had the House adopted my colleague's amendment, the bill would have gone immediately for royal assent thereby speeding up the passage of Bill C-49. However, shock of all shocks, the Liberals delayed their own bill one more time and voted against my colleague's amendment.

I think that brings it to four times that the Liberals have delayed the passage of Bill C-49 in the last six months. Should I say that the Liberals are not done? Here we are again. The Senate has dealt expeditiously with the government's motion, and members of the other place have voted to insist on two of their amendments, which the government previously rejected. Today, we are debating a motion by the Liberal government to once again reject amendments that the Senate has been insisting on.

Who is causing the delay in passing Bill C-49? It is the Liberals. If they would simply accept these two Senate amendments, we could pass this bill today and send it for royal assent, as was proposed earlier in this session. However, that is not going to happen, because of the Liberals. Bill C-49 will have to go back to the Senate, and we do not know what is going to happen in that other place. This situation is entirely the Liberals' own fault. It is the Liberals who are causing the delays in the passage of Bill C-49.

The delays to the passage of Bill C-49 that I just highlighted are only the ones that have happened since September 2017. For a minute or two, I would like to jump back further in time and briefly discuss the delays caused by the Liberal government that started years ago. Conservatives know that the rail transportation system is vital to the economic well-being of our country's economy, and one of the founding principles that got Confederation to work. However, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport have been dragging their heels in addressing the serious needs of our country's economy.

Back in 2014, then minister of transport, the member for Milton, launched a statutory review of the Canada Transportation Act, a year early, following what was a very trying year for Canada's shippers, particularly in the Prairies. The report that came from this review is known as the Emerson report, after David Emerson, the head of the commission. Mr. Emerson spent over a year consulting with industry stakeholders before writing his report, which is a lot of consultation. After the Emerson report was presented to the current Minister of Transport in December 2015, the minister took an additional year to consult on the consultations before finally introducing Bill C-49 in May 2017, over 14 months later. From the very start of the Liberal government, the transportation needs of our country have not been a priority.

At this time, I would like to switch my focus and talk about the substance of the two amendments being rejected by the Liberal government.

The first amendment I would like to discuss is the Senate's amendment regarding final offer arbitration. The laws and regulations governing the relationship between the railway and the rail shipper are quite complex, so I would like to quote from an analysis prepared for the Mining Association of Canada with respect to the final offer arbitration amendment. This analysis was done after the government unveiled its first motion regarding the Senate's amendments, but the points it makes are just as valid now, as we are dealing with the same amendment.

It states:

The motion tabled by the Minister of Transport not only rejects the Senate amendment, but further enhances railway market power over captive shippers. Rather than retaining the status quo, the motion asks the House to give credibility to an interpretation that (a) contradicts what Canadian courts have said about the FOA remedy and (b) further tilts the current imbalance in the FOA remedy in favour of the railways. The Minister's support for Class I railways inflicts additional harm on those few shippers who are permitted to access final offer arbitration (FOA). The Senate amendment would have entitled a shipper to obtain a determination of the railway's cost of transporting its goods to assist an arbitrator in FOA to determine whether to select the offer of the carrier or the shipper. Now, the Minister has publicly declared that FOA is not a cost-based remedy but “rather a commercially-based process to settle a dispute during a negotiation of a confidential commercial contract”. There are at least four things wrong with this statement:

First, the Federal Court of Appeal (and the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench) declared FOA to be a form of rate regulation and an arbitrator appointed under FOA to be a regulatory authority. Ignoring the courts, the Minister has adopted the losing position of the railways before the courts.

Second, railways can now quote the Minister in support of their position, that costs have nothing to do with rates. While the average businessperson will understand this statement to be incorrect, arbitrators will be asked to take it into account. Shippers who are already exposed to daunting odds in the use of FOA, will face yet another hurdle.

Third, nothing in the FOA remedy requires the outcome to be a negotiated confidential commercial contract. Whether a railway accepts a contract on the terms set out in an FOA award is 100% up to that railway. Because it can transport the goods under tariff, a railway does not have to enter into a contract.

Fourth, by failing to accept the Senate amendment, the Minister is condoning the railways' efforts to undermine the viability of the FOA remedy as a means of challenging rates and conditions of service that railways can impose unilaterally. The Senate amendment would have allowed a shipper to compare rates offered by the railway to rates that would prevail under conditions of effective competition. Instead the government motion will entrench the railways' market power or dominance over shippers who must use the railway to which they are captive for all or part of their shipments to domestic markets.

That is strange. What a process this is.

Thousands of Canadian jobs rely on the mining sector. The mining sector relies on a stable, reliable transportation system to get its products to the customers or to the coast.

I could include other quotes from experts and stakeholders regarding the importance of this amendment, but for the sake of time I have left them out.

Canada needs a fair and balanced relationship between its rail shippers and its class I railways. It is sad that the government is deaf to calls for a better balance in this important relationship.

I would also like to take a minute to talk about the second amendment the Senate is insisting on. This amendment would allow captive shippers in the Maritimes access to the long-haul interswitching remedy that this bill would make available to shippers in other parts of Canada.

Why are the Maritimes being excluded? If this remedy is needed in other parts of Canada, as the government insists, why is it not needed in the Maritimes? To phrase the question another way, why must captive Maritime shippers be forced to pay higher shipping costs? Treating Maritimers as unequal partners may be the Prime Minister's definition of co-operative federalism, but it is not ours.

I hope that some of my hon. colleagues on the other side of the House who come from the Maritimes will ask the Minister of Transport why their constituents and the industries that support their communities are not worthy of this same remedy.

I will close by reiterating a point I made earlier in my speech.

The Conservatives know that the rail transportation system is absolutely vital to the well-being of Canada's economy, and that it is these two rails of steel that hook our country together and have made our economy strong. Regrettably, I am not sure the Liberals do. Despite what the Liberals say, their actions do not match their words.

Stakeholders we are hearing from are not pleased with this bill. Some stakeholders say that this bill would make things even worse. Others say it would make things a little better, but it could have been much better.

This morning, we are discussing a government motion to reject reasonable Senate amendments to Bill C-49. This move by the government is delaying the passage of its own bill one more time, as it did this morning.

In 2019, Canadians will have the opportunity to judge the Liberal government and replace it with a Conservative government that will listen to stakeholders and respect the important role transportation plays in the Canadian economy.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I cannot help but agree with him about the Liberals' lack of consistency. He mentioned several times in his speech that they are always saying how urgent it is to take action while at the same time creating obstacles and holding up the bill every step of the way to make sure the process takes longer. Obviously, the government is being inconsistent.

I wanted to ask a question about the two small amendments that we talked about this morning. Only those amendments, along with the adoption of the motion I moved earlier, could have ensured that the bill went directly for royal assent, rather than continuing to be stuck in the back and forth between the Senate and the House.

Does my colleague believe that one of the two Senate amendments sought to establish a balance of power between farmers and our two major railways when it comes to the negotiation of contracts on the delivery price for grain or other products? Let's be honest, although these railways are a duopoly, they basically have a monopoly.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his input at committee.

Why they do not is a darn good question. The amendments make sense. That final offer arbitration, where the railways can just say 100% that they would not buy into this, makes no sense.

I really do not get the issue with the interswitching for the Maritimes. If people can see what rates they will be charged, in order to make a decision, that would make sense. Why are the Liberals excluding the Maritimes from this, when the rest of Canada has some options to choose from? It is beyond me why they would exclude the Maritimes from that.

These are very small amendments, and they were two of the issues that the witnesses who testified talked about. The final offer arbitration was talked about extensively, and how challenging the former process was, yet the railways can opt out 100%. It makes no sense.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciated listening to the member for Bow River and his rational, reasonable, common-sense question of why in the world we are where we are today, when this issue could have been dealt with months ago.

On behalf of stakeholders across my riding and across Canada, we asked the government to please take out the portion with regard to freight and deal with it separately, deal with it quickly, because we all know how important this is to agriculture, mining, and manufacturing.

The Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act had been put in place to deal with an issue and look further down the road to see how well it worked. It worked so well that, right across the country, there was an ask for a buy-in so that all these shippers would be able to use that same type of process. However, the current government absolutely refused to go in that direction. As a result, the Liberals have delayed the shipping of products for our economy to our coasts over and over again by removing amendments, not working with the committee, and not working with the Senate.

The Liberals are claiming that they want the bill to pass quickly, but their actions absolutely have not matched their words. By opposing the Senate amendments, they are ignoring our stakeholders and delaying the passage of their own bill, Bill C-49.

Why are the Liberals delaying the passage of their own bill?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her understanding of the long history of the issue of rail on the Prairies, which is such a critical piece.

As she mentioned, there was a piece of legislation that was in place up until 2015. The government had options. It could have extended that legislation temporarily for one or two years while it studied and consulted, but it did not. The Liberals could have extended it, but they let it die. They could have taken our ask to split it out. I understand that transportation is a complicated piece. However, on transportation with rail, and the pieces we need, the Liberals could have done that. We would have supported them on that. We would have worked with them to get it done. They chose not to take our offer, so that delayed it again.

I have no problem with consultation, but the Liberals continue this process back and forth between here and the other place, while reasonable amendments, like the two this morning, are rejected. Those are good amendments that came from stakeholders in the Emerson report, and from their consultations. As of this morning, those are two simple amendments that could have been added to make the bill work better.

Again, I do not know why.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting. For years I sat in opposition and I remember the efforts from the member for Wascana, today's Minister of Public Safety, who was constantly asking the government in different ways why we were not protecting our commodities, our suppliers, and our grain farmers in the prairies. He asked when we would see the legislation.

For years, Stephen Harper did absolutely nothing on the file. Within a couple of years, we have now advanced the file. We have good, solid legislation, and now we have the Conservatives saying we should have done this or that. They had 10 years to do it, and they failed. They did not get the job done. Now we have the legislation before us. It is good legislation. The stakeholders, for the most part, are supportive of it. Why do they not just accept a good thing and allow it to continue to go through?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the wealth of knowledge and the way our colleague speaks to us. I appreciate the time he gives, and he gives it often. He knows I also appreciate his Winnipeg Jets.

The former minister, Mr. Ritz, did take action, and he did put changes in under the Conservative government, which relieved the situation. That was a piece of legislation that worked extensively and could have continued on.

The Emerson report was done under the Conservative government, and the consultation was there. It was an excellent report that was placed into the minister's hands on the other side. There was a lot of information there.

What was turned down again this morning were two amendments. These were amendments that our witnesses, the organizations, have asked about. There may be many good parts in the bill, but those two amendments would have made it better. As for the suggestion that we cannot propose amendments that improve legislation, that the Liberals have all the answers, there was an example of two amendments that could have made that legislation better.