Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place today to speak on behalf of the good people of Davenport in the great city of Toronto at third reading of this important bill. It is important in a number of different ways.
As many of my colleagues have already underlined, we will be supporting this bill. However, in my last speech of the year, it is important to reflect on what we can learn from this bill and its process, including what it says about the Conservative government.
It is true that we have had much debate on the bill and the various decisions that were made leading into third reading. What I would like to focus on, though, is the process and the fact that, once again, we see the government not listening to the very people who should be a vital part of the process. It brings me back to my own constituency in Toronto. I would like to talk a little bit more about some flaws in the process and connect it to the bill.
I just want to let you know, Mr. Speaker, that I will be splitting my time with the member for British Columbia Southern Interior.
We have significant infrastructure projects right across the country. I will focus on the riding I represent. We can talk about the Line 9 project. Currently, we have a project that is running dirty diesel trains from the airport to Union Station in Toronto.
We have a variety of issues where the public has been unable to weigh in on and have an impact on the decision. For example, in my own riding, we have a nuclear processing plant that has been there for 50 years. We are supposed to have a full public engagement program, and people living right across from the plant did not even know that the program existed, because the government has said that it is not going to play the public engagement card too strongly. It sees that as an impediment to it doing the things it wants to do.
Fundamentally, what we are saying on this side of the House is that if we do not have social licence or if we have not consulted fully with first nations, projects simply cannot go forward. For example, if we want to run a large piece of infrastructure through a heavily populated community like the one I represent, and we are going to run that infrastructure using 19th century diesel technology that the WHO has ranked up there as a carcinogen similar to arsenic and mustard gas, we need to talk to the people who are going to be living right there. We need to get their buy-in, and if we do not, we have to find a way through. We have to consult. We have to listen, and listening is not something that the Conservative government likes to do. We saw this with this very park proposal.
I would also like to talk a little bit about the deficit in infrastructure improvements and how that is also part of a trend. Just in case my hon. friends across the way think that the deficit issue with regard to parks is a one-off, unfortunately it is not. We saw in December 2013 the Toronto Star reporting that there was an almost $3 billion backlog in deferred maintenance at Parks Canada.
The Conservative government loves to cut ribbons. It loves to announce big projects, but it is really not interested in supporting the infrastructure and improving it.
We have billions of dollars of infrastructure deficit in the city of Toronto. We have a public transit system that was built for 1960s population use. It is about twice the requirement now.
The government loved to pop by, especially when its buddy Rob Ford was the mayor, and cut some ribbons and popped some champagne when the Prime Minister wanted to help him out by putting some federal money into public transit. However, the problem is that we have a huge operational deficit. What cities, municipalities, and certainly the city of Toronto, need is a government that realizes that it cannot just come up with a big-time capital announcement. It has to be there for the whole project.
Therefore, it concerns us that the government does not understand the need for long-term, sustainable funding. An example is the need for public transit across the country and certainly in my city.
This bill and the process show a very disturbing trend by the government. It is trend that we will most certainly see change after the election in 2015 when we can make some significant changes with the first NDP government in the history of Canada.