Mr. Speaker, I always welcome the opportunity to comment on private members' bills. As members opposite will know, I am somewhat opinionated on issues that I believe are of national importance. It is not often that I agree with so many comments of my friend from across the way in the Conservative Party. Maybe we can find some commonality among parties inside the chamber, with the possible exception of some Quebec members of Parliament associated with the Bloc. That is why when I posed the question earlier, I made reference to my own heritage.
I am very much a proud Canadian. I think that we live in the best country in the world. I really believe in Canada's diversity and the rich heritage that can be witnessed in all provinces across our country. I am very proud, for example, of the St. Boniface area, with its very large francophone community that is quite possibly the largest in western Canada, as well as St-Pierre-Jolys where my grandparents came from, prior to coming from la belle province of Quebec. I understand the importance of the many different regions and the beauty from within that diversity.
Having said all that, I am very much a nationalist. I believe that we need strong national leadership on a wide number of fronts. It is in all the regions' best interests to have a government that is prepared to demonstrate leadership issues on those important files. That is ultimately, I would suggest, in the nation's best interest. We have witnessed that very recently.
If this bill were to become law, think of the impact it would have on what has been an incredible issue that has been debated and discussed in this chamber for a number of years. It has been fairly well debated even in the last number of days and weeks. That is in regard to the extension of the pipeline, the Trans Mountain expansion, which was deemed to be in Canada's national interest. As a result, we have the national government playing a fairly proactive role in ensuring that the extension takes place. It is sound policy.
My friend across the way talked about the importance of communities and working with communities, provinces, and municipalities. This government takes that very seriously. A good example of that is the Trans Mountain expansion. We have worked closely with not only provinces and municipalities, but as well with indigenous peoples to resolve a very important debate.
When I talked about the Trans Mountain expansion as one of the areas that is in the national interest, I made reference to my home province of Manitoba. I said that Manitoba has been a have-not province in terms of equalization. It is a beautiful province and I am very proud of it. However, in terms of equalization, we have received literally hundreds of millions, going into billions, of dollars on an annual basis.
That is important to note when we take a look at Alberta and the wealth that it has generated, with its contributions to equalization, and the positive impact that it has had on provinces like Quebec, Manitoba, and many others that have received significant amounts of funds through the development of the beautiful resources that we have. In particular, this one here happens to be oil. It has provided for things such as better quality health care, better quality education, and even investments in many environmentally friendly energy or high-tech companies.
I would argue that this legislation, if it were to pass, would prevent the national government from being able to take the actions necessary once it was deemed that this was in the nation's best interests.
In good part, for that reason I cannot support this legislation. I differ from members opposite. There are many federal areas of responsibility. We could talk about airports, parks, and other lands owned and run by the national government and I believe the national government needs to play that leading role. Quite often, leading means working with the different stakeholders.
This is not to take anything away from provincial jurisdiction or municipal responsibilities they carry out. I am very much aware of that. However, I believe Canadians in every region of our country will recognize there is a responsibility of strong leadership coming from Ottawa to protect those ideas and developments in the national interest. An example is transportation corridors, and we can factor into those transportation corridors our airline industries. Check with the municipalities or the City of Montreal on just how economically important, not to mention socially important, the Montreal airport is to the city and the province. This is also the case with other airports throughout our country, even our more rural airports, in terms of the lands and their operations and what sort of impact this legislation could have on them. The federal government has a responsibility to the population as a whole for such issues.
When I look at the national government and the types of things we have seen developed over the years, I see that it does have a role to play in the environment. We have seen very progressive policies, legislation, and commitments through national budgets in the last couple of years. For example, members made reference to Bill C-69.
We have a government that recognizes it has a role to play. Shortly after the Prime Minister was elected, he went to Paris and invited other stakeholders. I do not know if it is the case, but the Premier of Quebec might have been there. However, I believe other stakeholders such as provinces were represented in Paris. Often we find there is a high sense of co-operation between the different levels of government on those important issues, upon their return. Working with Ottawa and provinces, they can come up with good, sound environmental policies. We can learn from provincial jurisdictions. Some provinces are more progressive than others in different areas of development. The federal government has a role to encourage best practices where it can, and to ultimately have that holistic approach in the overall promotion and development of standards across Canada. As well, where necessary, it needs to be more directly involved, as with Trans Mountain.
When we look at the legislation coming before us, what the member is proposing is that Ottawa ultimately transfer its responsibilities to the provinces. Often my concern with members, whether from the Bloc or the separatist element, is that even though part of their motivation on the surface might be to introduce positive legislation, another part of the motivation is to not necessarily do what is in the best interest of the nation as a whole, but for one region of the country.
Ultimately, what is in Canada's best interest is in the best interest of our provinces, both collectively and individually.
We must continue to work with provinces, municipalities, indigenous groups, and others to ensure that we continue to build that consensus so that Canada remains a country of diversity and a country that understands and appreciates the true value of being a federalist state, and so that we ultimately develop our resources.