Madam Speaker, let me point out that my primary reason for rising today is to thank all stakeholders in this matter.
Today is indeed a wonderful day not only for myself but also for the people I have the honour of representing. After a dozen years of efforts, work and consultations, the government finally agreed to designate land located in the heart of my riding as a national marine park.
Allow me to thank the majority, if not the vast majority of my colleagues from all parties, who, so far, have supported this bill to formalize the establishment of a national marine park. I also wish to thank the ministers, who, one after the other, have brought this project to completion. I would like to acknowledge in particular the contribution of former federal minister McMillan, who, in 1985, launched the co-operative effort with the Quebec government then in office, including then minister Clifford Lincoln, who is now the Liberal member for Lac-Saint-Louis.
I thank them all for their valuable help in developing and then selling the project to both levels of government.
I would be remiss if I did not thank all the stakeholders in the vast region affected by the establishment of the marine park, including the municipalities that helped promote the idea of this marine park, which was probably the park that underwent the largest consultation process ever held in the country.
I also want to thank all the mayors who testified, and also the representatives of economic and environmental organizations who did the likewise to help further a project which is a model of co-operation between the various levels of government and which is the result of the positive contribution made by all the community organizations that have helped, during the past 12 years, to build the case for the establishment of this national marine park.
Many investments have been made in recent years by various research centres, for analysis and research work on fauna and flora, with a view to establish the marine park.
I was elected on June 2, 1997 because I told my fellow citizens I was not going to come here and pretend to be representing them, pretend to be upset on a daily basis. I am here to promote issues that will benefit my region, which is severely affected by major economic problems.
We know that the action plan on the national marine park will be revealed soon. We hope that specific measures will be announced, especially to increase as quickly as possible the number of visitors to the area. We know that the Tadoussac-Baie-Sainte-Catherine area receives between 200,000 and 300,000 visitors.
We hope that the action plan, which will focus on economic development and the need to increase tourist traffic, will be sensitive to the needs of local communities and provide for new facilities that will accommodate a growing number of visitors to our region, especially by building in close cooperation with the Quebec government a highway between Baie-Sainte-Catherine and Petit-Saguenay so that visitors will not have to drive through Saint-Siméon to get to the fjord and the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.
In addition, there are sites that need to be promoted and made more accessible. I refer in particular to an extraordinary site, which is known nationally and almost all over the world, namely Cap Trinité, where the population is aging and where it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to reach the cape which is located 350 metres above sea level and which is probably one of the most unique and extraordinary observation sites in the country.
I am convinced that when the government will reveal its action plan, it will be possible at that time to provide input and suggestions for the development of infrastructures that will allow the region to benefit from increased tourist traffic. An increased number of visitors will bring more jobs and economic development. So this is important for the whole region.
A lot of money will be invested over three years, and we are very pleased with this. You can rest assured that our regional organizations will follow very closely the implementation of the action plan by the two levels of government and that the member from Chicoutimi, as he has always done since 1984, will play a positive role in improving the action plan so that the money to be invested will contribute to the economy of the area and of all the communities along the St. Lawrence.
This is obviously not a good day to engage in partisan politics. I would like to thank the minister for her kind words for the member from Chicoutimi who, since 1984, has worked on the development of this wonderful project. People say that hard work is its own reward. Often this work is done quietly, not always in front of the cameras, but today is indeed a great day.
I should like to point out that back then, our government had a very substantial agenda. It was substantial environmentally with the acid rain treaty. It was also substantial from a trade point of view with the free trade agreement, which enabled us to increase our exports to the U.S. by 140%. In addition, it was substantial with respect to fiscal reform, particularly with the passage of the GST, the ultimate purpose of which was to lower taxes.
I hope that the government will also be listening with a view to finalizing tax reform, so that all our constituents will benefit and see their taxes go down and their employment insurance premiums decrease, because back then—I think we must give credit where credit is due—there were reforms, there were bills introduced by a government with a vision based on structural measures, which are now helping us to control the deficit.
I am obviously very happy to take part in the vote today on this bill that, with the support of my regional constituents, I set in motion. Several ridings are affected. I thank everyone who played a role in this wonderful project.
Rest assured that, in the decades to come, we will not regret having created this national marine park, which enables us to preserve all living things in our environment, but also to promote the economic development of a region sorely in need of assistance.