They clearly will fit into a coalition at this point, but I am talking about a future time, during the life of this Parliament, when they have a new leader, a more moderate leader, a leader who is progressive like the old Progressive Conservative Party used to be. Who knows what sort of combinations and permutations will develop at that time. However, at this point, they are headed for disaster and they have very little time left.
I now want to deal with an infrastructure project in the Elmwood—Transcona constituency. The federal government has made money available for infrastructure projects across the country. As a matter of fact, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, my colleague and neighbour to the north, is in the House. She is very aware and very supportive of the need to avoid the closure of the Disraeli Freeway, which runs from my constituency to downtown. The traffic comes up into my constituency and into her constituency and affects over 100,000 people.
What the city is trying to do is shut down the bridge for rehabilitation for a year and four months, something it would never do in other parts of the city. We question why it would want to do it this way. Residents are outraged that the mayor would do this.
There are currently 5,000-plus people who have signed petitions for the addition of a two-lane span to the structure, which could be built for approximately $50 billion. That cost was suggested by the City of Winnipeg transit report three years ago. Page 12 of that report suggests that the two lanes are required--they will be required in 20 years anyway--and that they should be cost shared by the three levels of government, approximately $17 million from each level. Once the two-lane span is built, the existing four-lane span could be closed and rehabilitated.
In spite of the traffic chaos this closure will cause, the mayor has charged ahead and refuses to ask senior governments for financial help. What we have suggested is that the local elected officials get together, agree and request that the federal government and the province of Manitoba make an offer to the city and put the money on the table. The mayor in the past has indicated that if the money was made available, he would certainly be prepared to do this. Regardless of whether the current government or a coalition government is in office, the elected officials at the same level represent all parties and we are united in our efforts to help out.
As I mentioned, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul is supportive; the provincial member for Transcona, Daryl Reid, is supportive; MLA Bonnie Mitchelson of the Conservative Party in Manitoba has been extremely supportive over the last six to eight months; Bidhu Jha from Radisson is supportive; and area city councillors are supportive. Russ Wyatt from Transcona is supportive. Jeff Browaty, who is a well-known Conservative, has been very aggressive on this file and wants to see this job done. My good friend Lillian Thomas from Elmwood has also been doing an excellent job pushing this whole issue at city hall.
We hope that in the next little while we will be able to come up with some sort of a conclusion. I might point out that the Prime Minister announced in June, a $70 million contribution as part of a three-way cost share project with the city of Saskatoon and the province of Saskatchewan to construct the Saskatoon Circle bridge. As a matter of fact, this announcement stayed on his website for the entire duration of the campaign, .
By the way, the plan is that the bridge in Saskatoon will be six lanes and is only going to carry 20,000 cars a day. The old Disraeli bridge carries 42,000 cars a day and has just four lanes. The federal government had money for a brand new six-lane bridge in Saskatoon for 20,000 cars a day, yet we in Winnipeg have a four-lane structure that is carrying 42,000 cars.
In terms of the costing on the main bridge, which it has been decided will be made into a triple P project, the city has really inflated the cost. We have compared the cost of the new Minneapolis bridge which was built only 500 miles away and the cost for the Saskatoon bridge. If we adjust the Winnipeg structure to the same size as those in Saskatoon and Minneapolis, we find that both of those structures could be built for around $190 million, yet the city is suggesting that somehow this triple P project is going to cost about $300 million to $350 million.
We have questioned the costing. We have given up the fight about whether it should be a triple P project or conventionally financed. It could proceed on a triple P basis. What we are asking for now is a separate project, merely adding these two lanes to avoid the closure at a cost of around $50 million. I am hoping that we can work out the details of that, whichever government happens to be in power, in the next few months.
I talked before about the issue of the common securities regulator but I never managed to finish my thoughts on the issue. Historically the provinces have resisted the issue and they are going to resist the issue again,. Whether or not we should have a national regulator is open to question. I think probably we should, but the reality is that the provinces will argue provincial jurisdiction.
If the federal government is able to negotiate with the provinces and have a regulator set up, we would want the regulator to have teeth, not to be the docile organization that many of these organizations are right now. The Ontario securities regulator would really be the main regulatory body. I mentioned that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, between the years 2002 and 2007, convicted 1,236 white collar criminals. In Ontario there were only two convicted.
Conrad Black was committing his white-collar crimes in Canada and it took the American regulators to put him in jail. It was not the Canadian regulators that did it.
There is hardly much point in setting up a national securities regulator that is simply going to act like the Ontario regulator does right now, which basically ignores and does not prosecute white-collar crime. I would make the observation that sometimes just setting up new structures and new legislation does not produce the wanted results unless there is an enforcement program and people in place who will do the enforcement.
The problem with this organization is that the people who are doing the enforcement are all hired from inside the industry. What we need are retired police investigators running the operation and not people from the securities firms that they are supposed to be regulating. There is not a lot of regulating going on from what we can see.
I have a number of other comments that I want to make, but I know my time is drawing to an end. The economic update that the Conservatives announced last week missed some very important issues. It missed employment insurance issues which we in the NDP caucus are very concerned about. It did not talk about increases in pensions and protection of pensions for our seniors. We would like to see the OAS increased by $100 a month.
What did the Conservatives talk about? They started out on page 3 of the document saying how terrible things were, how the economy was falling, dropping like a stone, and that we needed immediate action. We were sitting here in anticipation of some action to follow. What did they do? They never offered any of the changes. There was no stimulus package, which is needed to kickstart the economy. Instead, they talked about selling off crown assets. That is a real smart idea. They put it in their books as sales, but they did not identify how much they are going to get at fire-sale prices and what they are going to sell. Are they going to sell the CBC? Are they going to dismantle the Wheat Board and sell off the buildings?
If we are going to be buying assets, now is the time to be buying them at a very depressed price. The worst time for a government to sell off its assets would be during a downturn in the market. What kind of thinking goes on over there on the government side? That is just typical, normal Conservative ideology running its course--