Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House, probably for the last time.
I will take advantage of this debate on Bill C-44 to try and “keep on track”. As for transportation, I think I can say that I have travelled a lot, not so much by Via Rail or train, but rather by car. I live in a huge riding located four hours away from Ottawa. The geographic size of my riding of Saint-Maurice—Champlain is within 4,000 kilometres of that of Switzerland. It is not a riding, but rather a country that needs to be populated. The population of this small country, the size of Switzerland, is approximately 100,000.
This explains why we know a lot about transportation in our area. Unfortunately, we do not have everything we need.
The environment problem is one area of transportation that I consider important. We know that no mode of transportation will ever really protect the environment.
Coming back to Switzerland, one only has to go to Europe, to France for example, to see how transportation was developed in order to help the world and the human beings who need it, in harmony with the environment.
Obviously, a riding such as mine, with 100,000 inhabitants, cannot benefit from the same services as Switzerland. However, there are ways to adapt rail transportation in order to use it more and to use it better, and in order to protect people properly. Noise pollution due to railways is quite unpleasant, but the situation can certainly be improved.
Last week, I was disappointed that a bill I cared very much about was rejected at third reading. Today, perhaps one mayor in my riding will be happy about this bill since it seeks to improve the effects of the rail system on the environment and, among other things, it seeks to reduce noise.
The mayor of Saint-Tite, which is the capital of western culture, with a western festival of its own, often tells me that it is quite incredible that the railway going by this village bothers people in the middle of the night to the point where it is almost unbearable. Trains must be slowed down and barriers must be erected, because it is dangerous for tourists. Saint-Tite has 5,000 inhabitants. But during the festival, 150,000 people stay there. While being adapted to our needs, rail transportation must avoid problems related to the environment.
I am not going to discuss this bill clause by clause, but I hope that we will focus on developing transportation which is as ecological as possible.
I take the opportunity to thank you, Madam Speaker, and bid you farewell. I know that this is your last day in this Parliament, since you will not be running in the next election. You have been of great service to us. You did a good job chairing the debates in this House and it has always been a pleasure to work with you.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate those who are here to serve us in this House. In a way, they take care of some of our transportation needs as they bring us our water, with a smile. All too often, when we see these people in the House, we tend to forget that they are here to serve us and that we should thank them for that. I want to thank them now on behalf of all my colleagues. Today, I had the pleasure of bringing them a rose so they can remember that they made our life easier. Even their smiles warm up this place and I want to thank them for that.
I also want to congratulate all those who, like me, will not be seeking re-election and are here for the last time.
I wish to thank them for the discussions we had, even for the arguments and the fights, for through it all, we have, I hope, moved society forward.
This Parliament is democratic in nature. If we want it to stay that way, I think we must have the privilege to use democracy. I hope the Prime Minister—I do not know if he will be re-elected and come back—will do what he said he would during the last election, when he talked a great deal about democratizing debate. He has not had much success with this yet. If he comes back, I hope he will work toward that or that the next prime minister will. It is the only way to ensure Canadians will get answers from government. We could get things done if we used this House as a temple of democracy.
Too often, we realize after asking 440 questions that we still do not have answers. It took an inquiry to finally get answers. To me, that is a serious infringement of democracy. I hope that in the future we will be able to use Parliament as a tool of democracy that nurtures democracy in such a way that Canadians have better access to what we do, are better informed about what we do, and encourage us to work harder to serve them better.