Mr. Speaker, the passage of this private member's bill is of historic importance, mainly because this problem has dragged on forever without a solution. The rise in costs due to this government's wait-and-see attitude will be historic. History will remember that the government used every excuse to do nothing about the Quebec Bridge. This issue is also historic because the bridge is internationally recognized as a heritage jewel.
History is still being written today, and I invite the members present here to vote in the interests of the public. Not along party lines. Not with that old-fashioned political mentality that no one believes in anymore. Now that would be historic.
The Quebec Bridge is in the heart of the city and is a main artery through the Quebec City area in terms of trade, tourism, history and heritage.
The Quebec Bridge is the longest cantilever bridge in the world, and it is known the world over.
This storied bridge has suffered at the hands of the government, which sold it to CN when it was still a crown corporation, before it was privatized. The more time goes by, the more the government's responsibility erodes away, and we hope the bridge will not erode away as well.
The longer problems with the Quebec Bridge drag on, the more cynical people get about politics. This proves that there is a flagrant lack of leadership in this country and makes people think that politics is useless.
A parliamentary decision to take over the Quebec Bridge would be historic if the government were to take responsibility and do the work.
The passage of this bill will be even more historic if all Quebec members vote for it. Conservative Quebec members will make history if they vote against the party line and support the bill. I want to point out that party lines do not apply to private members' bills.
Historically, Quebec's importance has systematically been played down. For a long time now, I have had my doubts about Quebec's political weight in Canada's Parliament. If Quebec members vote against this bill, they will be reinforcing an unfortunate historical fact. Keeping the bridge in good repair is a matter that directly concerns several members, and I refuse to believe that they would vote against the interests of their own constituents.
I must clarify that the safety of citizens must never be a historic event. It should be a given and at the top of the government's list of priorities.
I expect Parliament to ensure that a positive and accountable decision is entered into the history books. I am calling on this House to write history. I am calling on this House to take possession of the Quebec Bridge. I am calling on this House to take its responsibilities and complete the repair work of the bridge.
I am calling on this House to ensure the safety of the public by taking action for the future. I am calling on this House to write a page of history, not with coercive law, but with a plan that will generate hope and confidence.
I am calling for the right to be proud of a historic heritage monument that must belong to the community. I am calling on hon. members to vote in favour of this bill.