Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to debate the important issues that Canadians face.
Before I jump into the subject matter of Bill C-33, I would note that yesterday represented the second anniversary of the 2021 election. In that regard, I would note my deep appreciation to the people of Battle River—Crowfoot for the opportunity to continue serving them in this place, to be their voice in Canada's Parliament. A big thanks goes to my wife, Danielle, my kids and my whole family for their support, as well as my staff, volunteers, campaign team and everybody it takes to make elections happen.
It is interesting that the Liberal Prime Minister, in the course of the last election, promised that if he were elected with a minority, he would call an election after two years. That is another broken promise by a Liberal who cares more about power than he does anything else. He also promised, I would note, after which I look forward to jumping into the substance of Bill C-33, that he would not join a coalition with the NDP, despite Conservatives suggesting that this would be an inevitable result. They laughed at us then. We turned out to be the ones who were telling the truth, and the Liberals were exposed for once again misleading us and holding on to power at any cost.
As we get into the debate on Bill C-33, once again we have before us a bill where, if we read the preamble, there is very little to disagree with. I have said this often when it comes to Liberal bills. The Liberals are great at making announcements, proposing things and saying they are doing things, but when we dig into the substance of what we have before us, it certainly falls short.
We have a bill that touches on a whole host of different things when it comes to our rail sector and our ports, including some of our deep sea ports. There are seven acts that would be affected. In Canada, as a country, both the rail and sea transport sectors are absolutely fundamental to the success of our nation. We have to be able to transport our goods and resources, whether the raw resources that come from the ground or the value-added resources in every segment of the economy that are produced everywhere across our nation. We need to have a transport sector that we can trust and that is reliable, safe and secure and that not only Canadians can trust, but also, when it comes to investment, our customers around the world can look at our system and know and trust that it is doing the right thing.
Concerns have been highlighted. Transport ministers seem to fall at an astonishing rate. In 2017, a few transport ministers ago, the now-retired Marc Garneau, who was then transport minister, launched the statutory review of the Railway Safety Act. Over the course of the last number of years, we have seen different steps in that process. It was in October of last year that the previous transport minister received the final report from the national supply chain task force; now we have this bill before us. However, when it comes to whether this bill deals with the concerns that have been highlighted, we are increasingly hearing that it does not, pure and simple.
I would note that one of the first issues that I dealt with, as did many of my colleagues after we were elected in 2019, was the rail strike just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were blockades and protests that had virtually ground our economy to a halt. In fact, it would have been very interesting to see what the impact on the economy of the Liberals' mismanagement of that situation would have been. We did not have the opportunity to see direct impacts of that. Of course, we know that in the aftermath, we immediately went into the COVID pandemic, and our focus for the last number of years obviously changed dramatically.
The bill we have before us would change aspects of railway safety, including security. There are prohibitions and some changes to the way that things would be classified. We need to ensure that railway companies are able to address security and, when it comes to ensuring that appropriate clearances for the staff of rail companies are provided, as well as that there are continual reviews.
I would just note that when it comes to the review portion, it is great to ask for statutory reviews but I am sure I am not alone, like many in this place, who would note that statutory reviews rarely happen when they are scheduled to. I will be asking the Library of Parliament to go through and look at all of the statutory reviews that are currently missing.
It is great to talk about a statutory review, but it is nothing more than boilerplate language. It does not do much good if one does not actually plan to review it.
I believe that some of these things are laudable in their intent but when it comes to the substance of whether they accomplish it, many Canadians do not realize that railway companies actually have their own police forces because of some of the history associated with the importance of that as a sector of our economy and the growth of our country. Some of the dynamics of that and, in some cases, legislation that is almost as old as the country itself needs to be reflective of present-day reality. These are important questions that have to be asked when it comes to committee.
This is the sort of bill that truly takes a huge amount of time to get into some of the substance so I will go very high-level here.
One of the challenges that has been brought to my attention is that there are two things that take place. One is that Ottawa gets a whole lot more authority which, interestingly enough, the Bloc supports, which is an irony, I would suggest.
At the same time, they are downloading a whole bunch of the work to port authorities that do not necessarily have the resources to accomplish the objectives that will be brought forward if this bill is passed unamended.
What I fear will be the case is that we will have more red tape and more bureaucracy slowing down the decision-making process when it comes to our ports. We know how essential that is. It was only months ago that we had a strike at the Port of Vancouver where it, certainly in western Canada, ground our economy virtually to a halt. I believe it was half a billion dollars a day in economic impact and it will take months to clear the backlog.
When it comes to products, whether it is dried commodities like agriculture, whether it is oil or the carbon-based products that are essential for so many economies around the world, which Canada has a strong record of being able to provide, we have to make sure we do this right.
I think that it is not the answer to increase bureaucracy and download responsibility without understanding the impacts that this will bring about on the people who are actually responsible for making sure that our economy is moving. I say “moving” very specifically.
I would bring up an example that emphasizes my point.
Today in question period, the Minister of Health brought up natural health products. I know all of us in this place have heard a lot about natural health products over the course of the summer.
The unfortunate trend is that this government is desperate to make changes on things that do not actually help, especially when one sees the irony that the government is making a whole bunch of regulatory and bureaucratic changes to natural health products that nobody asked for and certainly very few people I have spoken to, whether in the sector or outside it, support, yet it is pushing this down the throats of small business owners, of Canadians and one of Canada's most trusted sectors.
That same health minister supports the selling of hard drugs on our streets.
I bring this up because it highlights the irony that one has a government that seems to be quick to propose things, to look for ways that it can increase the size of government, the inefficiencies associated with that and the red tape that impacts the ability for the economy to function, but when it comes to actually delivering, it fails and its priorities always seem to be in the wrong place.
The questions I have asked certainly need to be addressed at committee. I hope that serious amendments can be made so that we do not allow that same trend to slow down a sector that is already being slowed down by a Liberal government that is simply out of touch.