Tuesday, February 15, 1994
Bill C-12. Motions for introduction and first readingdeemed adopted. 1343
Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 1349
Mrs. Stewart (Brant) 1359
Mr. Lavigne (Verdun-Saint-Paul) 1359
Mr. O'Brien (London-Middlesex) 1369
Mr. Lavigne (Verdun-Saint-Paul) 1371
Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 1376
Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 1376
Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast) 1377
Mr. White (North Vancouver) 1378
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1380
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1380
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 1382
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 1382
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 1384
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 1384
Mr. Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville) 1384
Mr. Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville) 1384
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 1384
Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 1385
Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 1386
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1388
Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 1389
Consideration resumed of motion 1390
Mr. Hill (Prince George-Peace River) 1398
Consideration resumed of motion 1404
(The sitting of the House was suspended at 6.26 p.m.) 1414
The House resumed at 6.30 p.m. 1414
Mr. Mills (Broadview-Greenwood) 1414
Mr. Mills (Broadview-Greenwood) 1417
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Tuesday, February 15, 1994
The House met at 10 a.m.
Hon. David Anderson (for the Minister of Industry)
for leave to introduce Bill C-12, an act to amend the Canada
Business Corporations Act and to make consequential
amendments to other acts.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read for the first time and
* * *
Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons):
Mr. Speaker, I
ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
The Speaker: Shall all questions stand?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. David Dingwall (Minister of Public Works and
Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada
WHEREAS section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982 provides that an
amendment to the Constitution of Canada may be made by proclamation issued
by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada where so authorized by
resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons and of the legislative
assembly of each province to which the amendment applies;
NOW THEREFORE the House of Commons resolves that an amendment to the
Constitution of Canada be authorized to be made by proclamation issued by His
Excellency the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada in accordance
with the schedule hereto.
1. The Schedule to the Prince Edward Island Terms of Union is amended by
adding thereto, after the portion that reads
``And such other charges as may be incident to, and connected with, the
services which by the ``British North America Act, 1867'' appertain to the
General Government, and as are or may be allowed to the other Provinces;''
``That a fixed crossing joining the Island to the mainland may be substituted
for the steam service referred to in this Schedule;
That, for greater certainty, nothing in this Schedule prevents the imposition of
tolls for the use of such a fixed crossing between the Island and the mainland,
or the private operation of such a crossing.''
2. This Amendment may be cited as the Constitution Amendment, 1993
(Prince Edward Island).
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am happy that you have read a fair
portion of the amendment which we intend to discuss today. The
amendment is very specific with regard to the terms of reference
between Canada and Prince Edward Island.
I apprise the new Speaker, who has just taken his place in the
chair, that this is a very specific amendment. Therefore I would
hope that comments all hon. members make have some
relevance to the subject matter which we are dealing with and
not the broad general topic of constitutional reform.
One hundred and thirty years ago the Fathers of
Confederation gathered in Prince Edward Island and created the
concept of Canada. Thanks to their genius Canada has flourished
throughout the 20th century. Today Prince Edward Island seeks
a small but significant amendment to its terms of union with
Canada. This improvement will create the opportunity for our
smallest province to take its rightful place in the 21st century.
On behalf of the Government of Canada I am honoured to
place before the House of Commons a formal resolution to
amend the terms of union between the Government of Canada
and Prince Edward Island which I am certain all members of this
House will want to support in the deliberations to follow.
The amendment, albeit short and straightforward, is
important for Prince Edward Island, important for the entire
Atlantic region and important for Canada.
The proposed amendment provides the necessary
constitutional framework for the replacement of the ferry
service between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick by a
bridge across the Northumberland Strait. More significantly, the
amendment provides a bridge for the future.
The fixed crossing will allow Prince Edward Island to become
a full partner in Canada's economy. The fixed crossing will spur
Atlantic Canada's economy in the short term and create real
hope for viable long term economic growth.
Construction of the 13 kilometre concrete bridge means new
skills, new technology, new jobs, new enthusiasm and new
prospects for the future.
The amendment before Parliament today will allow a project
to proceed which is fiscally sound and financially responsible, a
project which represents thoughtful public transportation
policy, a project which sets new standards for environmental
review, assessment and management.
The federal government is bound by the 1873 terms of union
with Prince Edward Island to provide continuous
communications between the island and the mainland.
Since Confederation this obligation has been fulfilled by a
ferry service. The province of Prince Edward Island now wishes
to strengthen, modernize and improve dramatically the means
by which the island is linked continuously with mainland
For that reason the federal government and the Government of
Prince Edward Island signed an agreement committing the two
governments to make the necessary constitutional change to
permit the ferry service to be replaced by a bridge.
The amendment before us today is the last in a series of
legislative steps required to enable Prince Edward Island to
make that move forward. In the spring of 1993 Parliament
debated and then passed Bill C-110, an act respecting the
Northumberland Strait crossing.
I would be remiss in my opening remarks if I did not pay
tribute to those members of my own caucus who participated in
that debate and on previous occasion whereby the House deemed
it appropriate to pass Bill C-110.
I want to congratulate all members, some who are present,
some who are opposite, who participated in that debate. I wish to
thank them sincerely.
In June 1993 the Prince Edward Island legislature passed a
resolution authorizing this amendment. In October an
agreement was signed by the federal government and Strait
Crossing Development Inc. to begin construction of a bridge
linking Prince Edward Island to mainland Canada.
The agreement is an innovative, prudent and intelligent
approach to the building of public infrastructure. The agreement
breaks new ground in government-private sector partnerships.
Investment of taxpayers' dollars is limited but also protected.
The people of Canada will not be responsible for footing the
bill for delays or cost overruns relating to this initiative. The
total contribution of the Government of Canada will consist of
35 subsidy payments to the private sector development. The
payments will be made annually at a cost of $42 million indexed
This formula effectively caps the cost and limits to 35 years
the financial responsibilities of the Government of Canada to
meet its constitutional obligation to the people of Prince Edward
By contrast, pursuing the option of the ferry service
indefinitely would subject the taxpayer to undue and unexpected
cost without any reprieve in sight. As was made crystal clear by
the Prime Minister both in our election red book and in the
recent speech from the throne, the government's number one
priority is job creation. The fixed link and this particular
initiative will do that. It will create jobs.
Under the terms of the agreement, 96 per cent of bridge
construction jobs will be filled by Atlantic Canadians. In total
over 3,500 jobs will be created in the three and a half year
construction period. Further, at least 2,000 indirect jobs will be
created as a result of spin-offs. That addresses clearly and
unequivocally the government's intent with regard to its priority
of job creation.
The contracts also specify that 70 per cent of the total
procurement requirements will be provided by Atlantic
Canadians. Given the size and complexity of the undertaking,
extensive spin-offs will offer Atlantic Canadians the chance to
develop new construction, management and environmental
What is most encouraging is that the economic benefits will
continue to flow long into the future. The tourism industry
estimates that once the bridge is in operation, the number of
people visiting P.E.I. will increase approximately 25 per cent. It
will open up new opportunities for even more employment in the
vitally important hospitality industry of that province and other
provinces as well.
The Prince Edward Island trucking industry will benefit to the
tune of some $10 million each year in time savings alone. Mr.
Speaker, you are very wise and very learned. I have no doubt you
are probably a very well travelled individual. If you have taken
or perhaps would like to take a trip in the immediate future to
Prince Edward Island, you would quickly understand why the
trucking association is so much in favour of this initiative. It
will decrease the time you will be parked at the ferry side
waiting for the boat to transport you to the other side. Not only is
it time saving but it is also an economic saving which will
enhance opportunities and provide many spin-offs for that
sector of our economy.
The bridge will provide much greater certainty and reliability
of delivery for P.E.I.'s farmers and fishermen. There will be new
possibilities of growth for the province's processing and
P.E.I.'s businesses will be able to improve their bottom lines.
An improved competitive position for the island's economy
means an improved future for the young people of the island. I
am certain all members of the House regardless of political
ideology will want to support that enthusiastically.
Not surprisingly, over the years since the idea of a fixed link
was first advanced, support has grown to the point where today
over 70 per cent of islanders are in favour of the bridge. I do not
mean the people from Cape Breton Island, I mean the people
from Prince Edward Island. I wish to make that very clear.
The bridge is an exciting project for Prince Edward Island and
Atlantic Canada. I know that some people still have concerns. I
want to do my best to address some of the concerns this morning
and perhaps respond to questions that hon. members might have.
I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm the
commitments enshrined in a tripartite agreement made with the
provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and the
Government of Canada.
The ferry workers who will lose their jobs in June 1997 as a
result of the ferry closures will be treated fairly. They will have
first choice of employment on bridge operation and
maintenance. A fair severance package will be negotiated on top
of the provisions of the workers' current contract. We will work
closely with ferry employees to find retraining opportunities for
jobs in many sectors of the local economy which will benefit
from the presence of the new bridge.
Fishermen affected by the construction activities in specific
areas of the Northumberland Strait will be compensated for lost
opportunity. As part of this particular deal the developer has set
aside a $10 million trust fund to be administered according to a
plan developed mostly by fishermen themselves.
I also want to reaffirm the commitment to provide financial
assistance through another agency which I happen to be
responsible for, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, for
sound business initiatives in order to help the communities of
Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick in the coming months
and years. We will take the appropriate measures to help the
affected individuals and communities because it is the fair and
just thing to do. I cannot stress too strongly that the overall
effect of the bridge will be many immediate and long-term
benefits. The bridge will contribute to an increasingly dynamic
economy for those of us who reside in Atlantic Canada. In fact,
the project constitutes a good deal, not only for the people of
Prince Edward Island, not only for the people of Atlantic Canada
but, I dare to suggest in the House of Commons, for the people of
In drawing up this agreement the public servants of my
department have done a commendable job of ensuring that the
taxpayers are protected from any unexpected, unnecessary or
unwarranted costs. All of the risks have been assumed by the
developer, including financing, design, construction,
maintenance and operation.
I know some people, perhaps in this House, have expressed
concerns that the ultimate owners of two of the development
partners are not Canadian. But I am satisfied that this is
essentially a Canadian undertaking whose benefits will largely
accrue to the people of this country. It is true that Northern
Construction Company and the GTMI company are Canadian
subsidiaries of foreign firms, but both subsidiaries have been
operating actively in Canada for in excess of 30 years.
I wonder if those critics-and I do not suggest for a moment
that they are here on the floor of the House of
Commons-wherever they may be, would seriously suggest
stopping as it would be rather ridiculous if we were to say to
GM, Ford and Chrysler: ``Because you operate a subsidiary in
Canada, in Ontario, you should not be allowed to operate
because your parent company is a foreign one''. That would be
intellectually dishonest. We are in a globally competitive world.
I know members opposite would want to agree with my
conclusion that this is important for Atlantic Canadians and
important for Canada as a whole.
Furthermore, this particular developer should be
complimented for assembling world class technical expertise.
The truth is that the proponent of the fixed link, Strait Crossing
Development, is a 100 per cent Canadian owned company which
happens to be headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. Who will
benefit most from the project? The answer clearly is the citizens
The developer was required to have all the project costs in
trust at the time of closing, plus a 10 per cent contingency until
substantial completion of the bridge has taken place. The
developer has posted a $200 million performance bond as well
as a $35 million compliance bond and a $20 million labour and
material bond. All these are supported by guarantees with the
parent companies. The deal was struck in such a way that the
parent companies are providing the necessary financial backing
to the developer.
I want to emphasize that the developer and not the Canadian
taxpayers will be fully liable for cost overruns. If the project is
not completed by May 31, 1997, the developer must pay the cost
of operating the ferry service until the bridge is ready. Once the
bridge is in operation the developer must operate and maintain it
to the satisfaction of the federal government before having
access to the revenues from the tolls.
The cost for crossing the bridge will be comparable to that of
the current ferry service. Over the next 35 years these tolls will
not be increased in any year by more than three-quarters of the
annual rate of inflation. Through these and other provisions the
government has made every effort to ensure that taxpayers are
properly protected before, during and after construction.
Similarly, I want to make an honest effort to answer all fair
minded questions and reservations raised by Canadians about
the fixed link. In that spirit I would like to comment on the
question of the possible environmental effects of this project.
This issue has been raised throughout the past five years, 60
months. I know it has concerned a number of members of the
House. I do not intend to detail all the environmental studies and
expert reviews that were undertaken except to say that there
were in excess of 100 studies, most of them very
I was going to seek the indulgence of the House and bring
before it the six feet of studies that have been undertaken with
regard to this project but I thought it would be rather
cumbersome to do so. It would be rather costly for the
Government of Canada, particularly the House of Commons, to
have reprinted in Hansard each and every word of all of those
As you know, Mr. Speaker, from your study of the transcripts
of this debate at another time, I placed before the House a
number of studies. I refer to them not in totality but in summary
fashion, bringing to the attention of the House just how
important those studies were in answering a number of
Today I am tabling with the permission of the House a list of
all of the studies which have been done, both in French and
English. If members wish to refer to them I am certain my
department can make these studies readily available so they can
examine them, study them at night, take them home on the
weekend and review them, maybe get an independent study by
their particular political party or their particular group. Then we
could hear back from them in the months and years ahead on
whether the studies, which number in total 100, were
I wish to have the consent of the House to table these two
documents if members wish to refer to them at a later time.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Is it agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Dingwall: Mr. Speaker, I am also prepared if members
deem it appropriate to bring in the six feet of studies which have
been done. If members wish me to do that they might want to
indicate it to me with a note and I would be prepared to do that so
everyone will understand that there are no secrets, no backroom
deals that have been consummated with regard to this project.
I want to say that the project was subjected to the most open
and fully transparent public consultation process which
involved over 80 public meetings attended by over 10,000
individuals. This is quite remarkable in itself. I believe this
project sets the standard of environmental review and will
become a model of environmental management for undertakings
of similar size and similar scope.
There is no doubt and there should be no doubt in anyone's
mind that there are Canadians out there who under no
circumstances whatsoever would agree to having a fixed link,
whether because of the environment, personal bias, personal
views, finances or otherwise. However, the vast majority of the
people of Prince Edward Island who voted in a democratic
referendum passed in their legislature voted in favour of the
fixed link. We as a national Parliament must recognize that fact,
as I am sure hon. members opposite will want to recognize in
their interventions that will fall in line shortly.
In late August the Federal Court of Canada in response to a
challenge ruled that the Department of Public Works and
Government Services had gone well beyond what would
normally have been expected in meeting the federal
environmental review guideline order. I will quote from Justice
Cullen's ruling when he said:
The criteria accepted and followed by Public Works Canada when making its
self-assessment was more than adequate for the purposes and complied with the
(environmental) guideline order.
However, I assure the House this does not mean the end of our
environmental concerns. My department, as well as other
responsible federal and provincial agencies, will continue to
monitor environmental impacts during the construction period
and beyond to ensure compliance with the agreement and to take
action if it should be deemed necessary.
The fixed link is a very exciting initiative, a very bold
initiative. It is an undertaking of historic proportions. It is yet
another challenging opportunity to open up the country, to unite
the country and to build it.
Yes, the 13-kilometre bridge, the longest ever over waters
which freeze, is ambitious but so were the St. Lawrence seaway,
the Trans-Canada highway and the great Canadian railroad. The
hallmark of all these endeavours was the determination to bring
Canadians one step closer together.
This undertaking demonstrates that Canada has the ability to
develop an imaginative approach to government industry
co-operation in carrying out a major public initiative:
partnership at its best.
I should like to think that the Prince Edward Island bridge
project, in addition to its other merits, could serve as a global
model for future joint projects of this type. Closer public and
private sector collaboration is a major contemporary avenue
through which we can stimulate investment and create badly
During the election campaign we heard from every political
leader talking about a partnership between industry and
government. There is no other better example than the fixed link
between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick which
demonstrates that point more accurately.
The Northumberland bridge is a very sound and a very
important project. The present premier of Prince Edward Island,
the Hon. Catherine Callbeck, said:
A tremendous economic boost-that will provide a stable, economic climate
for business to survive in this province.
Jim Larkin of the Prince Edward Island Tourism Association
remarked that it is ``probably the key to the future of this
province''. The premier of New Brunswick, the Hon. Frank
I am absolutely confident that history will favourably judge the fixed
crossing to Prince Edward Island-it's time to seize the moment and opt for
progress in Atlantic Canada.
Clearly the vast majority of the people of Prince Edward
Island sees this bridge as an important initiative which will give
the people of the province renewed opportunity to participate in
the country's economy, renewed opportunity to enhance their
own lives and the lives of their families. The bridge is creating a
renewed sense of optimism for Prince Edward Island and for the
Atlantic region. A strong Atlantic economy is a vital part of a
strong Canadian economy.
Atlantic Canadians know within their hearts and minds that
the bridge is only one part of the solution, but as Sir Winston
Churchill once said: ``The chain of destiny can only be grasped
one link at a time''.
In conclusion I urge members of Parliament from all political
parties and those who are independents to support the
amendment before us today. I urge members of the House to
create the opportunity for Canada's smallest province, Prince
Edward Island, and the rest of Atlantic Canada to become
economically stronger. I urge members of the House to give a
new generation of Canadians who happen to reside in Prince
Edward Island an opportunity to become full partners in the
Canadian economy and an opportunity for a better future.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition): Mr.
Speaker, we have here a situation that has its roots in the distant
past. When Prince Edward Island entered Confederation in
1873, the island had set certain conditions which were agreed to
by the federal government and the other members of
Confederation at the time, conditions which concerned mainly
establishing and maintaining a communications link between
the Island and the continent, so that Prince Edward Island could
in some way be part of the Canadian community.
At the time, this link was provided by a steam service, which
is how it was described in the terms of the union. Over the years,
the federal government has met the commitments made in the
Constitution, which today represent a subsidy of $28 million.
That is, the original commitment today works out to $28 million
in constant dollars.
My point is that we are not starting from scratch. The province
is not asking the federal government to build a bridge starting
from zero funds. The government of P.E.I., from a normal desire
to adjust to changing times, now asks that the link, formerly
provided by a steam service and subsequently by more modern
ships, be made more effective and more continuous by building
My point is, and this may surprise my hon. friend the minister,
who was furiously defending the government's position against
the opposition he anticipated from the Bloc Quebecois, my point
is that the Bloc Quebecois takes a very positive view of this
project, and it is too bad the minister wasted precious
ministerial time and energy which would have been better spent
on other issues, since after due consideration, the Bloc
Quebecois, feels the economics are sound, the financial
structures make sense and there is an element of fairness added
to the Canadian federation as it exists today.
If we look at the economics, it is clear a bridge will increase
economic activity on the Island, that tourism will increase, and
by the way, I did not wait for the minister's cordial invitation to
visit Prince Edward Island. I already visited the island as a
minister at the time, and as a tourist last year. It is a magnificent
island, and I know tourism will improve considerably once there
is a bridge that provides for easy access at all times. We agree
that on the economic side, there is a considerable advantage for
the government and the people of Prince Edward Island.
The financial structure is something which the government
should monitor very closely. It is true that the financing scheme
is quite ingenious. There is no undue burden on the federal
government since the subsidy, which it has to pay at any rate and
will keep on paying, and which is now $28 million, will upon
completion, in 1997, be $41.9 million in constant dollars. There
will of course be adjustments for inflation, but there would be in
As of 1997 we are looking at an annual increase of roughly
$14 million which the federal government will have to continue
awarding to Prince Edward Island and, given the expected
benefits, I do not think it is an exaggerated amount.
We applaud this private sector initiative involving the
construction and the operation of the bridge. A word of caution
is in order, however. I think that all parliamentarians should
demand that the government be extremely attentive and monitor
construction activities closely.
I realize that construction will be carried out by a private firm,
but it is essential that the government monitor the work closely.
What happens if the project goes over budget? This is the point
that raises the most concerns. Costs might start to get out of
hand. After all, we are talking about a major undertaking, the
construction of a 13 kilometre long bridge across a strait in
which a great deal of ice forms during the winter. There will be a
substantial amount of pressure on the bridge footings. What
happens if there are cost overruns?
The documents that we have in our possession do not show
what the government's responsibility would be if such an event
were to occur. Legally, I believe the government's responsibility
is limited to guaranteeing annual payments. However, what
would happen if during construction, the private sector
companies fell on hard times, financially speaking?
We all know what happened with the Channel. Of course the
two projects are vastly different in terms of sheer scope, but the
fact remains that constructing a 13-kilometre long bridge
capable of withstanding extremely harsh weather conditions is a
sizeable undertaking. Has the government considered what it
will do if the project goes over budget? It should shed some light
on this point and tell us what steps it intends to take to ensure
that there are no cost overruns.
Regarding the environment, I am not as familiar with this
aspect of the issue as the minister, who clearly has up to date
information. Opposition members do not have access to files as
readily as ministers. However, when I was Environment
Minister, I had sought assurances that a very stringent
environmental study would be done. I believe that such a study
was carried out and that the minister is correct in saying that the
most extensive precautions have been taken.
The government should, however, exercise caution during the
actual construction phase because certain operations will affect
the environment. The minister has said that he will be taking
certain measures, but exactly which ones, that remains to be
seen. Perhaps it would be good to know what measures are being
Consideration must also be given to what will happen after
construction is completed and the bridge is in operation. We
know that fisheries, particularly the lobster fishery, will be
affected and that some form of compensation is planned. I think
that during the coming debate, the government should tell us a
little more about its plans to provide compensation.
I will say it in English for our friends in P.E.I. We think this is
an equitable measure of progress which should promote the
economic development of this province of Canada. That is why
we will support it.
I would also like to draw the government's attention to a
problem with the drafting of the constitutional amendment
before the House. The problem seems to be one of agreement
between the French and the English versions.
This could, in my opinion, cause some major legal problems
since as we know, following the 1982 amendments, pursuant to
section 56, I believe, of the current Constitution, both the
English and French versions are equally authoritative.
The same cannot be said for the Constitution of 1982. Despite
the commitments made in 1982, we are still awaiting the
official, authoritative French version of the Canadian
Constitution. In passing, I have one small question. How is it
that a country like Canada, which claims to be bilingual, still
does not have an official French version of the Constitution? We
will get back to that some other day.
The fact remains, however, that this amendment which will be
adopted today will be equally authoritative in both languages
since the new constitutional system is in place. Looking at the
resolution, we see that the English version reads as follows:
``That a fixed crossing joining the island to the mainland may
be substituted for the steam service referred to in this
schedule''. May be substituted. In the French version we read:
Qu'un ouvrage de franchissement reliant l'île et le continent remplace le
service de bateaux. . .
While in English you have something that may or may not
happen-the government has the power, the option of replacing
the old steam service by a fixed crossing-in French, the
government has to do it. There are very significant nuances. I am
somewhat surprised that the government's legal services failed
to pick up such a significant nuance, one that could certainly,
under certain circumstances, cause major legal problems.
I do not know whether the government intended to be as
formally committed as in the French clause or to have a way out
like in the English one. I do not know what they intend to do.
Perhaps they should tell us which reflects their true intentions
and make sure both versions reflect the same legal reality.
I would like to add that, if this is good for Prince Edward
Island-and it is-and if the federal government is able to make
financial commitments that I would describe as reasonable to
ensure substantial economic development in Prince Edward
Island for the 125,000 residents of the island, one can wonder
why the federal government no longer conducts this kind of
projects which in the past have prompted massively enthusiastic
responses in terms of economic development. I am thinking of
the HST, the high speed train, in particular.
If the government saw fit-and rightly so-in the interest of
125,000 people to get involved in this major project which we
support, it would seem to me that, for the 16 million people of
Quebec and Ontario, in the interest of connecting the economic
heartland of Canada to the United States, the largest economic
market place all of us have access to, it may be worthwhile to
look into putting into place a link, another type of link, a railway
link, taking advantage of the very high technology offered by the
HST as part of the same project.
I will not elaborate on this, as some of my colleagues will
address this specific issue, but I do urge the government to go
further in the direction it is taking today and to ensure that
reasonable, practical and forward-looking major projects are
Finally, I cannot help but notice that, in response to an
obvious need, the government has decided to reopen the
Constitution. We know that the Prime Minister and his
government are claiming left and right that they do not intend to
talk about the Constitution: ``We will not touch the Constitution.
I have absolutely no desire to touch the Constitution''. It has
become a taboo subject, except when there is a need to address
There is such a need today and the government, in a practical
and realistic fashion, has decided to do what must be done. It is
no sin to touch the Constitution when it must be done. And, as it
must be done, we are supporting today's motion.
I know that, as far as the Bloc Quebecois's designs for Quebec
are concerned, it is not a matter of reopening the Constitution to
achieve Quebec's sovereignty; such a decision will be made
democratically in due course by Quebecers themselves. As for
the current, very serious debate on native self-government and
the extremely pressing and critical issues being raised, I think
that the leader of Canada's First Nations, Mr. Mercredi, is right
in saying that the Constitution should be reopened in this case.
We think that, if the government can accommodate this
economic need in the case of Prince Edward Island, it should
also fill this more urgent, political, social, even ethical need to
take steps that will, in the long run, solve the native problem.
We cannot go on like this, as we are experiencing numerous
repercussions in every respect. First of all, from a social
standpoint, the sad picture of what is happening in some
reserves, the extreme hardships suffered by the people should be
enough to convince us that we need well thought out instead of
piecemeal solutions and that the demand for native
self-government in a framework and under conditions that are
appropriate should be submitted to the government, which
should respond with the same realism it is showing today in
recognition of the need to establish a fixed link between Prince
Edward Island and the mainland.
I would like to conclude by appropriating an argument
invoked by the minister. The minister, perhaps thinking that the
Bloc Quebecois would oppose this measure, urged us not to raise
objections and to respect the will expressed by the people of
Prince Edward Island in a democratic referendum. He made a
pressing, emotional appeal to respect public opinion as
expressed in a democratic referendum.
We are in total agreement with the minister today and we will
ask him to stand by his words in due course, if and when Quebec
makes the decision we are hoping it will make.
Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West): Mr. Speaker, I rise
today to speak to this constitutional resolution under section 43
of the Constitution Act, 1982 to amend the Prince Edward Island
terms of union in the schedule, sections 1 and 2. The purpose of
the resolution is of course as stated, to allow the substitution of a
bridge for a ferry.
This particular resolution comes from a government
committed to not open the Constitution, to not even remotely
discuss constitutional questions. At least that is the position as
we have understood it. But is it really its position to act that
Already this is the second constitutional amendment being
passed since the defeat of the Charlottetown accord. It is in
addition to a number of extra constitutional measures that are
either being taken or being considered, such as aboriginal
self-government or federal-provincial division of powers and
overlap and duplication.
Therefore the position that we are not going to talk about or
amend the Constitution or deal with constitutional questions
seems increasingly to be restricted to one particular issue, which
is the Senate. When it comes to the Senate we will not discuss
the Constitution directly, indirectly or even hint at it, but
everything else appears to be on the table.
Since we are talking about the Constitution today, I will use
this opportunity to discuss some of our concerns on the
Constitution. I am sure some of my colleagues will do the same.
I want specifically to discuss our position on the Senate and on
some of the reforms that could be made to the Senate,
particularly outside of the constitutional context.
Of course, the House is well aware that our party supports a
triple-E Senate. We believe the Senate should be elected, it
should be fully effective, it should have full veto powers over
legislation, and it should be equal. It should have equal
representation from every province.
This particular amendment attempts to update the
Constitution, to recognize that things are different today from
what they may have been in 1873. To substitute a bridge for a
ferry seems reasonable. Why not then recognize that certain
political and institutional realities are very different today from
what they were in 1867?
To recall our constitutional history, in 1867 the Fathers of
Confederation established a parliamentary system consistent
with the political theory of their time. That was the political
theory dominant in the 18th and 19th centuries, a very different
kind of theory from what we have today. They established a
Parliament that would have three parts: the crown, and in
particular two effective legislative chambers, the Senate and the
House of Commons.
This model was common and still is common in most of the
world, particularly the anglo-American world. The United
Kingdom has the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
The United States has the Senate and the House of
Representatives. Even in our own provinces at that time we
generally had two legislative chambers. We had the legislative
councils and the legislative assemblies. In all provinces the
upper house has now disappeared, although traces of it remain in
Prince Edward Island.
An effective upper house in 1867 was one that was not
elected. That is very different from the view we have today, a
very different theory of representation, a very different theory of
government. I will not get into that at great length.
Suffice it to say that an upper house had several features in
Canada and elsewhere. In particular the principal historic
function of an upper house had been to represent the propertied
classes. Under section 23 of the Constitution Act, 1867 there
were important and the very high property qualifications for the
time of $4,000 for membership in the Senate.
There were also other important functions the Senate of
Canada was designed to fulfil. It would be a chamber of sober
second thought. In other words it would fulfil the function of
checks and balances seen in many constitutional arrangements,
not just in Canada but in other countries. Sober second thought
was the term used. As I pointed out to some audiences the use of
the term sober was probably not entirely accidental during the
time of our founding prime minister.
In that regard the Senate had important characteristics that
reflected that function. Generally speaking it could not originate
bills, certainly not money bills; they came and still do come
from this Chamber. As a chamber of sober second thought the
appointments were lifetime. People were selected. A very
different kind of person was expected to sit in the Senate from
those sitting in the Commons. We find that under section 29 of
the Constitution Act, 1867.
A third function of our Senate originated in recent history in
the United States. That is the protection of the partners in the
federation and their role in the federation.
Certainly the Constitution of 1867 did not establish an equal
Senate. I concede that. However it also certainly did not,
explicitly did not, establish a Senate based on representation by
population. It established a Senate where there would be three
regions or what are called divisions under section 22. At the
time that was a very good reflection of the regional balance of
power within the country. The provinces of Ontario and Quebec
which had been recreated by Confederation were constituted as
regions and the two maritime provinces together were
constituted as a region.
Consistent with the theory that the Senate was not elected,
unlike the United States the members were not appointed by
provincial governments but were appointed by the cabinet, the
executive. The cabinet or executive in that era was expected to
be much more diverse in a partisan sense than we see today,
much more diverse in a regional sense, and much more diverse
in the sense of personality and importance of the various senior
The original Senate was selected by a government in which
party lines were not as clear as they are today. The government
itself was constituted of people of different political persuasions
and the Senate was picked in much the same way. That practice
has of course changed a great deal.
The Senate was intended to be and was a highly effective body
in political terms. It had full legislative powers which remain in
the Constitution Act today. It had real power in cabinet and in
the legislative process. Five out of 13 or 30 per cent of the
original cabinet ministers were senators. Today it is one out of
30. It would shock many Canadians to learn today that two of our
prime ministers came from the Senate. They held their prime
ministership in the Senate rather than in the Commons. Of
course in Britain it was quite common at that time for a lord to
be prime minister as well as a member of the Commons.
Diversity and important political figures were present in the
Senate at that time, right from the beginning. The principal
Liberal leader of the day, George Brown, was appointed to the
Senate after he failed to secure representation in the election of
Things have changed. Today we have a fuller and more
democratic theory of government than we did in the past and
effectiveness of the Senate, as with any other political body,
requires that it be elected. This is not just a phenomenon of the
Senate. I would point out that the House of Commons, as
constituted in 1867, would not be remotely considered
democratic today. We will talk on another occasion whether this
House of Commons is effective and truly democratic. I will
leave that to a later date.
In 1867 members of the House of Commons were elected but
only by property holders, only by those over 21 years of age,
only by those who were male. In some provinces of Canada, in
some parts of Canada and at certain times in our history,
elections were restricted by racial considerations.
We would never for a minute suggest that would be an
appropriate way of choosing the House of Commons today or an
appropriate composition for the House of Commons and so we
have modernized it. We have modernized the House of
Commons but not the Senate. Why have we done that? I will put
it in very simple and blunt terms. We have modernized the
House of Commons because it is the power centre of Ontario and
Quebec. We have not modernized the Senate because it was
intended to be the voice for the other regions that have not fared
as well in Confederation.
At the centre of this argument I would only point out to my
constituents and to those who are watching today the Ontario
and Quebec alliance that will shove through this particular
It is interesting to see in this century what has happened to
upper houses, not just in the anglo-American world but across
the world. Those houses that were built mainly or almost
exclusively on pre-democratic theory have atrophied or
disappeared. I think, for example, of the House of Lords in
Britain which still exists today but which has largely been
stripped of its powers and exists, I suggest, as a relic of another
In the case of our provinces, the legislative councils, the
upper houses of the provinces, which really had an exclusive
pre-democratic function, have entirely disappeared, the last
being in Quebec in 1968.
However, those houses built on the concept of regional
representation within a federation have remained and by and
large flourished as legislative chambers. The Senates in the
United States and Australia have become elected bodies and
have become very powerful.
In the case of the Senate in the United States we know what
happened there. The United States Senate was not originally
elected but rather chosen by state legislatures. That manner of
selection was gradually broadened and eventually some states
began to have popular elections for their senators even before
the constitutional amendment proclaiming such a thing had
come to pass. The Senate was largely elected by the time that
In Canada the Senate has survived but its modernization has
been slow. We have attempted to move along with the
development of the theories but at a very slow pace. We have
made no attempts in our history to increase the property
requirement that defined the early Senate. It still exists on paper
but $4,000 real property is now a modest requirement for many
In 1915 we moved to recognize the west. After the west had
been in Confederation for about 45 years we decided it was time
to formally recognize the presence of the west in the regional
chamber. Before that there had been a few senators appointed
from various provinces now and again. In 1915 a fourth Senate
division was created to recognize western Canada. Since then
other representatives have been added in Newfoundland and in
In 1965 we took the step of ending lifetime Senate
appointments. We know there are very few lifers but this has
been one particular reform.
In 1989-90 we had the election of the first senator, the late
Senator Stan Waters, a member of my party, a good personal
friend of mine and a ground breaker, as we all had hoped. Just as
in the United States, when Senator Waters was elected there
were denials from those who opposed Senate election and
regional representation, denials that this could happen, that it
could not happen, that it was unconstitutional, that it was illegal.
There were a million impediments.
It is amazing how things can happen in this country, in any
country, in any political system when people want them to
happen. It is amazing how many excuses and roadblocks can be
created when there is a desire to thwart the principle underlying
Today the minister, to my surprise, spoke about praising the
P.E.I. bridge because it had been approved in a referendum. How
many times since this House has reconvened have we heard the
government speak against referendums and the danger
presented in referendums? When the government has an agenda
it wants to see go through, a referendum is possible.
In conclusion, I will certainly not be supporting this
hypocritical amendment. I suspect that many of my party
members feel the same way. I will not support a selective
updating of our federation. I will not support a mentality that
says some needs are to be addressed while other needs are to
be laughed at or ignored, depending on crass political needs.
Senate reform is important. It is a federalist solution to the
kinds of regional problems that plague this country and I would
suggest that in my region problems exist that are much more
serious than some people here realize. Senate election, which I
have spoken on specifically, is a partial solution that does not
even require opening the Constitution in order to proceed. It
only requires a basic sense of fairness. Without that sense of
fairness do not expect the support of myself or my riding or the
taxpayers I represent. Do not expect to keep coming to the
trough to ask for these kinds of favours when our concerns on
these matters are not taken seriously.
Mr. Gagliano: I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would
like to inform the House that from now on, pursuant to Standing
Order 43(2), government members will split the 20-minute
period provided for speeches into two 10-minute speeches, each
followed by a 5-minute question and comment period.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): I thank the government
whip. Resuming debate with the hon. Secretary of State for
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Secretary of State (Veterans)):
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand and support the
constitutional amendment put forward by my hon. colleague
from Cape Breton-East Richmond.
This constitutional amendment will have a major effect in the
province of Prince Edward Island. It will start to bring to an end
a topic that has been discussed in the province for possibly over
This is a permanent link to the mainland. In the 1960s we even
started the bulldozers rolling and started the approaches to the
fixed link or the causeway, as it was worded at that time. This
resolution will clear one of the remaining hurdles to the
Northumberland Strait bridge project.
Government has made it clear during the election campaign
and in the recent speech from the throne that putting Canadians
back to work is the number one economic and social problem
facing this country. The number one economic and social
problem facing this country is jobs.
We are committed to taking every step within our power to
support job creation, stimulate economic activity and restore
hope and confidence in the future for all Canadians.
Nowhere is this more the case than in Atlantic Canada which
has more than any other area of the country suffered too long
from high levels of unemployment and despair.
The House is aware that the building of this new bridge to
Prince Edward Island will provide a welcome boost to the entire
Atlantic economy in terms of job opportunity and increased
Even more significant will be the long term benefits to the
region and in particular to the province of Prince Edward Island.
The bridge project represents a long range investment in
transportation infrastructure which will almost certainly pay off
in increased opportunity and in new business development for
The lack of a fixed and reliable link with the rest of Canada
has long restricted the commercial and industrial activity in
Prince Edward Island.
Prince Edward Island premier Catherine Callbeck
commenting on the issue said recently:
The entire course of P.E.I.'s history has revolved around its isolation from the
mainland. The announcement that the fixed crossing will proceed will
fundamentally alter the province's relationship with the rest of Canada. In my
opinion, that change will be for the better.
The Northumberland Strait bridge project will have an
immediate significant impact on the economy of Atlantic
Canada in general and in particular on Prince Edward Island.
Building the bridge will create hundreds of direct jobs for each
of the four years of construction and numerous indirect jobs
throughout Atlantic Canada.
Under the terms of the contract between the federal
government and the contractor over 90 per cent of the jobs will
come from Atlantic Canada.
In an area with high unemployment and needing the jobs, over
90 per cent of the jobs will come from our region. This will
provide a tremendous boost for employment throughout the
region and will provide thousands of workers with gainful
employment and an opportunity to practice and improve their
job skills. This will give the tradespeople in Prince Edward
Island an opportunity to improve their trade skills.
Direct employment on this project tells only part of the story.
The contract also specifies that some 70 per cent of the total
procurement requirements will be obtained in the region. These
requirements are massive. Thousands of tonnes of cement,
reinforcing steel, cable, fabricated metal and manufactured
components are needed as well as many other service
Given that the total project is in the area of $850 million the
wages and procurement expenditures paid by the developer will
inject more than half a billion dollars into the local economy
in the next four years, the economy of the Atlantic region, one
of the most depressed areas in Canada. This should be a good
kick-start to the economy of Atlantic Canada, an economy that
certainly needs a boost.
The massive expenditure will also have a ripple effect into the
retail and service sectors of Atlantic Canada and Prince Edward
Island, providing new opportunities for expansion and job
creation in those areas as well.
Given the positive impact this project will have, it is not
surprising that the majority of islanders support this project.
One sector that will experience a significant boost will be the
tourism industry in the province of Prince Edward Island.
The tourism industry is absolutely essential to the economic
health of Prince Edward Island. It represents a larger share of
that province's gross domestic product than any other province
The effects of the permanent link on tourism have been
carefully studied. It has been concluded that it would result in an
increase of visitors from the first year of operation. Some
figures indicate about 25 per cent. It will certainly draw tourists
to look at this major construction project, this megaproject,
while it is being built. It will also draw many tourists to Prince
Edward Island and through Atlantic Canada after it is built. It
will truly be something to see.
An increase in tourists will have a tremendous and positive
effect on the Prince Edward Island service industry such as
accommodations, restaurants, entertainment, recreation, local
crafts, manufacturing, and all other sectors of retail trade. It will
encourage new investment in the Prince Edward Island
Tourism is by no means the only industry that will benefit
from this link. The availability of a reliable, faster and
ultimately less costly link with the mainland will certainly make
Prince Edward Island agriculture and fisheries industries more
competitive and should help them broaden their markets. While
the direct benefits may occur to the Atlantic region, it is true that
the project represents a good deal for all of Atlantic Canada and
all of Canada.
The economic recovery that our government is working for
must embrace all regions of the country if it is to be successful.
By giving Atlantic Canadians a chance to go to work, to
strengthen their transportation infrastructure and to create
long-term economic opportunities we make the country
The most effective way to reduce the escalation of and the
need for social spending is to put people to work. That is exactly
what the government plans to do; that is exactly what the project
will do. It will give workers in Atlantic Canada the opportunity
for jobs and help them with their trade skills. It will be a major
boost to the tourism industry in Prince Edward Island. It will
have a major effect on the Prince Edward Island transportation
system because there will be no long waits at the ferries.
The four years and over half a billion dollars that will be
injected into the economy are badly needed, along with the link
we have talked about in the province of Prince Edward Island for
over 100 years.
Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly): Mr. Speaker, earlier my
leader described to this House the position of our party
concerning this link. In short, the hon. member from
Lac-Saint-Jean said he understood the economic requirements
the government party is faced with. He also noted that the
concerned minister recognized he was bound by the referendum,
where the will of the people was made known.
With regard to the link we are talking about today, this
13-kilometre bridge which is going to link Prince Edward Island
to the mainland, everyone in this House, and especially the
government party, maintains that this project should contribute
to job creation and economic recovery, and we agree with that.
However I would like to ask the previous speaker, in the absence
of his minister, if there will be an unofficial guideline
preventing Quebecers and Canadians from Central Canada, that
is Ontario and Quebec, from working on this project, something
similar to the official policy concerning the Hibernia project, in
Newfoundland. We know that Quebecers are systematically
excluded from this project. On behalf of Quebecers in particular
and Canadians in general, I would like some further information
on this issue. Will workforce mobility be hampered by some
provision, legal or otherwise, concerning this project?
Mr. MacAulay: Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for
his question. I am sure the minister is quite capable of speaking
for himself. I am also sure that no project would be handled by
public works that would indicate no one in Quebec or anywhere
else would get a job.
I have indicated that we come from an area of high
unemployment, probably the highest in the country. We need
jobs and this project provides jobs in our own area. The point is
that we have the work force and we have the project. We would
never exclude anybody. The jobs are in the area and the project
I thank the hon. member's leader for his support for the
project. When he comes to vacation in the province of Prince
Edward Island he will find it much easier to get there in a
number of years. He would be very welcome to go there to work
on it or to go there to visit us.
Mrs. Dianne Brushett (Cumberland-Colchester): Mr.
Speaker, I congratulate the minister today for bringing this
resolution to the floor of the House. It is a giant step forward for
Prince Edward Island, for Atlantic Canada, and for all Canada. It
takes Atlantic Canada into the 21st century. I am very proud to
be part of the government that is bringing this resolution
My riding of Cumberland-Colchester takes in the northern
part of Nova Scotia and abuts the Prince Edward Island
Northumberland Strait. I would like to ask a question of the hon.
member who has just spoken. The current ferry that joins Prince
Edward Island with Nova Scotia at Caribou and Wood Islands
has been a means of transportation for our tourist industry from
Nova Scotia for some time. I am wondering what effect there
will be when this bridge is connected from Prince Edward Island
to New Brunswick.
Mr. MacAulay: Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from
Cumberland-Colchester for raising an important point that
certainly was an issue for me all during discussions on the fixed
link. I mentioned that we would have approximately a 25 per
cent increase in tourism. That means more traffic. Without a
doubt we will have both the major infrastructure and the fixed
link. We will also have the vitally important Wood
Islands-Caribou ferry service.
I am very pleased that section 14 indicates that Canada
acknowledges the distinct and important role the Wood
Islands-Caribou ferry service provides and recognizes that the
construction and operation of the fixed link crossing in no way
diminish the importance of this ferry service which is a vital link
between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Secretary of State
(Parliamentary Affairs)): Mr. Speaker, it is with great interest
and pleasure that I rise to support the proposed constitutional
amendment which will allow for the construction of a fixed
crossing, that is a bridge joining Prince Edward Island and New
We can understand that this project is of particular interest to
the residents of Beauséjour, since one end of the bridge will be
in their riding, more specifically in Cape Tourmentine. To have
access to the bridge, people travelling from Nova Scotia will
drive through Port Elgin to reach Cape Tormentine, whereas
those coming from New Brunswick will go through Moncton,
Shediac, Cap-Pelé, Port Elgin and Cape Tormentine.
Consequently, people using this bridge will drive through our
As the minister said, this is a major project the likes of which
we have never seen in our region before. It is said to be an $840
million initiative, over a period of three or four years.
This project will of course create employment, probably 900
to 1,000 jobs per year, for a few years. Mr. Speaker, I can tell you
that my constituents are happy to see this project being
approved, for the simple reason that, given the current situation
in the province and in fact in all of Atlantic Canada, where the
fishing industry is collapsing, especially as regards groundfish,
any effort to stimulate employment is welcome and supported.
People are particularly pleased because we are told, and in fact
we know, that 96 per cent of workers will be from Atlantic
Canada, which is not to say that workers from other regions will
be excluded. You realize of course that people from our region
will do their utmost to be hired for that project.
We are also told that 70 per cent of supplies will be provided
by contractors from Atlantic Canada. For that purpose, the
economic commission for south eastern New Brunswick has
hired one person, with the support of ACOA, the Atlantic
Canada Opportunities Agency, who will be responsible for
providing local contractors with all the necessary information to
offer their services.
I followed the development of this project because the
construction of such a bridge has been the subject of discussions
for many years. In fact, an overpass as well as an access road
were even built at the end of the fifties when there were already
talks of building a fixed link between PEI and New Brunswick.
Indeed, such an initiative has been discussed for a long time, to
the point that people in our community were wondering if this
was only a dream. It now seems that the dream will finally come
true, and we certainly hope so.
This project may have been in the offing for a long time, but it
was also developed very cautiously. A series of public meetings
were held to inform Atlantic Canada residents on the building
techniques and to reassure those who had concerns about the
environment. And I can tell you that a lot of people and groups
did raise concerns about the environment. I want to say that my
constituents and myself are also very concerned by this aspect.
I do share that concern but, at the same time, I am confident,
considering what I heard and all the studies which were done.
The minister was not exaggerating when he said that all those
studies could make a pile six feet high. Indeed, a lot of studies
were done and those are public documents to which everyone
can have access. So I am certain that all precautions have been
taken to ensure that the environment will be protected.
I also know that all work on the construction sites, on the New
Brunswick side or on the Prince Edward Island side, will be
governed by strict procedures, both on land and on the waters of
The workers will have to follow strict procedures supervised
by a committee responsible for ensuring that all environmental
precautions are taken. It is rather reassuring that the contractor
and all subcontractors must control their procedures and respect
Of course, even if we take every precaution, some groups
might be affected, and I am thinking particularly of fishermen
here. In order to give these groups some protection, especially
fishermen, including those who fish for scallops and lobsters,
who will be most affected, a committee has been set up to
implement a compensation program. From the very beginning,
that is what we have demanded, citizens, fishermen and local
associations alike: that a compensation program be set up before
work begins so that those people would be compensated for their
losses if the fishery were damaged.
Although the final mechanism has not yet been determined, a
committee of fishermen, fishermen's association
representatives and officials is studying this problem.
When I spoke of lobster fishermen, the people of Cape
Tormentine will be the most affected first because a way will
have to be cleared across the strait where construction will go on
and the fishermen of other communities away from Cape
Tormentine, like Murray Corner, Aboiteau, Cap-Pelé, Shediac
and up the Northumberland Strait to Cocagne, Buctouche and
even as far as our area could feel the effects from the
construction. I do not think that these effects will be
considerable, at least I hope not, but if they were affected, we
will certainly have a mechanism in place to compensate them.
I spoke only of lobster fishermen, but there are also scallop
fishermen, since scallop banks will be affected by this bridge
There is a group that will be directly affected by the
construction of this bridge. That group is the families of the
ferry workers who will lose their jobs after construction of the
bridge is completed. Right now there are over 400 workers and
the bridge will provide about 60 or 70 jobs. I want to reassure
those people and members of the House that every effort will be
made to offer to those people directly affected a proper
compensation and training package in order to minimize the
effects of the loss of jobs when the bridge opens. I have been in
communication with Marine Atlantic. It has started discussions
with the unions to try to put a program in place to minimize
I certainly offer my assistance in any way to make sure that
the jobs available once the bridge opens are offered to those
ferry workers and to make sure that those unable to get a job
receive a proper compensation package.
In conclusion I support this project. I support it because it will
create jobs and give new impetus to the tourism industry. Of
course, my colleague from Prince Edward Island just said that
Prince Edward Island's tourism industry will develop as a result.
I am pleased about that, but we in Beauséjour, by offering
tourism facilities like the land of la Sagouine, which you know
well, Arboiteau Park, which is now being developed, and other
projects under consideration, will try to attract visitors either on
their way to the island or on their way back. We will invite them
to spend a few hours or a few days with us.
Mrs. Dianne Brushett (Cumberland-Colchester): Mr.
Speaker, I concur with the hon. member that we have given great
consideration to minimizing the environmental effects and the
disruption to our fisheries, to guarantee as much as possible that
this project is of worthy consideration and is first class for this
day and age.
Having said that, when talking about retraining or providing
job security for those who will be displaced, it has been brought
to my attention during economic development discussions with
municipalities in my riding that perhaps we could take our
training programs to the job site. As these men and women are
working on the new project they would be given the opportunity
for upgrading in literacy and computer skills, those kinds of
things that take them to the next job. Has the member given any
consideration to this in manpower training programs?
Mr. Robichaud: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her
comments and question. Let me assure her that we will make
every effort to ensure that all governmental programs, those of
the local associations as well as those of the government itself,
will be made available to the workers in order to encourage them
and help them find a job both during the construction stage of
the project and once the bridge is finished, through the
opportunities that will be generated. Every effort will be made
to ensure that this project brings about the maximum benefits
Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa): Mr. Speaker, I agree with
the amendment to the Constitution and the building of that
bridge. I think it will promote tourism considerably. I have had
the opportunity to visit Prince Edward Island; it is one of the
most beautiful islands in the world, and I have seen a good many
But I question the job creation aspect of that project. In the
medium term, it will certainly create jobs, but in the long term,
there will job losses considering that each year some 400
persons work on the ferry and in five years those 400 jobs will be
reduced to about 50. Did he study that aspect of the issue? What
alternative does he propose? Did he consult the unions?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): I know the Secretary of
State for Parliamentary Affairs has found the 10-minute period
too short. I simply want to remind him that the question and
comments period is still shorter. Therefore we would appreciate
a brief comment.
Mr. Robichaud: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members
from the other side for supporting this amendment and also for
supporting the project as a whole.
Unfortunately, as the member mentioned, some of those now
working for the ferry system, maybe I should say many of them,
will not find a job on the bridge.
As I mentioned during my speech, Marine Atlantic, the
company which operates the ferry system, has already contacted
the unions in order to find ways to minimize the impact of the
bridge opening and help those people find other jobs.
Of course, local communities and economic commissions are
trying to develop tourism and that could create jobs for the ferry
workers of today. But I can assure you that every effort will be
made to help these people adapt to the new situation so that they
can find other jobs.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval): Mr. Speaker, even though
we basically agree with the government, our comments in this
House prove that its approach differs vastly from the one
members on this side would use.
Regardless of whether we support this project or not, we are
concerned by its potential impact on the environment. It seems
to me, at first glance anyway, that the government is not very
well equipped at this point to answer the many questions and
solve the numerous problems which might arise from the project
in front of us.
First of all, I must say that after listening this morning to the
minister, I was rather shocked to hear that he had assumed, even
before being aware of our position on the matter, that the
Official Opposition would oppose this project, at least, that is
the impression he gave in his argument. It is rather odd. I wonder
how he came to the conclusion, even before we had a chance to
express our views on the topic, even before the beginning of this
debate, that we would oppose this project.
He may have forgotten, or perhaps he never listened to the
Official Opposition when we pledged to Canadians that equity
and fairness in distribution would be the yardsticks by which we
would measure proposals submitted to this House. The minister
might have forgotten that, unless he just never was aware of it.
Let us give him the benefit of the doubt, but let it be a lesson for
him in the future. The minister should never again presume to
think for the Official Opposition, especially given the fact that
he seems to have enough trouble trying to understand the issues
he is presenting to this House. He does not have all the answers,
he has to do more work on these issues, and he should get on with
it. The opposition will do its job, and the minister should do his.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised when I heard our friends
opposite say they have the greatest respect for the results of a
referendum held in Prince Edward Island that revealed that the
citizens of this province were very interested in the project,
were very much in favour of it and considered it a major step
forward. I think respect for the will of the people as expressed in
a referendum is very important, and I would remind our hon.
friends opposite that this should apply to all referendums that
may be held in this country and that may have important
consequences for the future of its communities.
My own major concern is for the environment. I understand
the reasons for the project, and I support it, and I understand
what it means to the people of Prince Edward Island, but I have
some very real reservations, especially in connection with the
issue of ice formation. I am not an expert, but I am told that a
major accumulation of ice near the bridge at certain times of the
year might alter the ecology of the area and possibly have a
major impact on the fisheries. I believe the government has
recognized this by providing, if I am not mistaken, a $10 million
relief plan to help fishermen who work in the area make the
transition to other work. This means the government is aware of
a significant impact on the fisheries.
I am one of those who are very concerned about this kind of
situation, and I would have liked to see the environmental issues
researched more thoroughly. I am concerned. I know that one
case has already been brought before the courts. A number of
rulings have been handed down, and the court has had a second
chance to rule on the quality of the environmental studies. But I
must say that a project of this scope, which may have a very
significant impact-and one does not have to be an
environmental expert to understand this-it seems to me that the
whole environmental question should have been researched
more carefully in order to get more answers and more
clarification. I still have a number of questions about this
project. There are definitely negative sides that will affect the
future of a number of fishermen. There may be a negative impact
on climate and
perhaps on certain social aspects as well, as a result of these
In any case, I think that instead of hurrying things along, the
government should dig a little deeper and be in a position to give
us better assurances that these issues have been given the
attention they deserve. If there are any problems with this
bridge, it will not be the people from Ontario or Ottawa, or
Montreal or Vancouver who are affected, but local people, in an
area that is economically fragile and has a low population
density. Yes, a megaproject in this sector may have some very
positive effects if the project is a good one, but it might also
have a negative impact if we do not bother to look at all sides of
the problem because we are in too much of a hurry to get this on
As for the environmental issues, I think they were disposed of
a bit quickly. I have a feeling that we tried to meet this deadline
by putting some pressure on the stakeholders. For the time
being, what I want to do is register my concern in this respect.
Financing is the biggest concern for this project. The cost of
this bridge-which is clearly a megaproject-is estimated at
$850 million. It would not be the first time that on a project of
this magnitude, and for which we have no precedents, there
would be cost overruns.
Already, according to my information, a study by
Wood-Gordon revealed, last year, that the cost could be about
$1.3 billion. Today-faced with a rather innovative project for
which experts have already said that the cost could be at least 50
per cent higher-how can we say with any degree of certainty
that the cost will be $850 million?
I do not want to use this argument to block the project, but I
am trying to point out to this House, the government and the hon.
members on the other side, that it would not be the first time in
this country that the cost of a megaproject balloons way beyond
the government's initial estimates, and that the government is
stuck with the deal and forced to pay, at taxpayers' expense,
millions of dollars more to finish the project.
I do not think that we can conclude this debate without the
minister being present, and he is not in the House right now.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): I wish to remind hon.
members that it is our tradition not to make any comments on the
absence of a member. We all know that hon. members are very
busy. I just wish to remind hon. members that they should not
comment on the absence of another member.
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval): Mr. Speaker, I am willing not to
mention the absence of the member but I would like to know if
someone opposite can answer the questions that we are asking.
If the issue is worth debating, it would be important to have a
valid speaker to respond to these concerns. Let me remind you
that the role of Parliament is really to allow members of
Parliament to express opinions on projects.
I think that the motion before us today is aimed at seeking the
co-operation of the opposition parties. A number of speeches
that were made until now are asking for that support. That
support is being given, but-and this is important-the people
responsible should at least try and respond to our concerns.
I agree not to mention the absence or presence of a member,
but I certainly wish, and I know I am complying with the
Standing Orders, that someone could give us an answer and
listen to us in order to be able to give details and explanations on
Therefore, I will go back to the financing issue. It would not
be the first time in this country that a project costs more than
expected. How does the government intend to finance cost
overruns, if any? I suppose that a responsible government has
thought of something. If this is the case, I would like to know
about it and we would like to know who will take over the
responsibilities if the project is a disaster in terms of
construction. It is important for us to know that.
Mr. Speaker, you will appreciate that there was a time when
the financial situation of the government was sound and perhaps
those questions were less important. But when the government
is preparing to cut social programs and health care programs, or
any other program for that matter, because money is tight,
because our deficit is over $40 billion a year, we have reasons to
be concerned with this issue at this point. Surely the government
has thought of some way to overcome cost overruns, if any, and
they have to explain what their intentions are.
We are also concerned with maintenance. I did not come
across any estimates in the documents made available to us.
They probably exist, but I did not find them. I would like the
government to answer the following: What are the estimated
costs for the maintenance of this structure each year? Would the
costs be paid for by the consortium that will be in charge of
bridge management? Have any maximum costs been
established? If the maintenance costs are higher than expected
or if there are major problems, who will pay the tab? Will the
government take some responsibility then or will the promoters
deal with the unexpected costs and other potential risks? It
would be important to know about that.
Although it is not the same type of structure, one knows that
a bridge built over salt water is likely to be subjected to more
damage than elsewhere. Therefore, the maintenance costs are
likely to be proportionate to the location of this bridge, to the
fact that it is an extremely long bridge located, one has to admit,
in an area with a very harsh climate, in the heart of the gulf
of St. Lawrence and subject to significant weather and climatic
variations. It would therefore be useful to be given all the
information regarding the responsibility of the government
with respect to maintenance costs or in case of possible major
These are matters which require some clarification. This
project economically is so very important for this region. We
must therefore ensure that it is a success in terms of both its
construction and its operation.
I know that my colleagues opposite agree that it must be a
success. But it is not enough to say it. It is not enough to say that
we want it to be a success in terms of its construction and its
maintenance, to be a success in social an economic terms, to be a
success for the company that will be in charge of its operation,
also for the government which is going to be watching people
coming and going and which, with this structure, is going to link
an isolated province with the continent. We all want that project
to be a success in all those respects, but again, it is not enough to
just say so.
The government must act in a responsible manner. It must
give all the necessary explanations. It must look for every
aspect, even the smallest one, which may be a problem or about
which people may have concerns in order not to embark, once
again, on an unending adventure which finally will result in all
Canadian taxpayers paying for something which does not even
A lot of questions have been left unanswered. I think it is for
the House, during this debate, to answer them.
In conclusion, I would like the people mandated by the
minister to answer all those questions. Like my colleague from
Bourassa, I would like to express my concern over the possible
job losses-nearly 400 jobs, roughly 350 jobs-that this project
entails, since the bridge's operation will not require as many
employees as a ferry service.
I can understand why so many discussions were held with so
many people. Before a company closes shop, there are always a
lot of discussions between manpower centres, economic
development corporations and other stakeholders, in order to
find alternatives, retrain employees, etc. Such a situation results
in a significant reduction of net employment in the area, where
needs are great.
There is no assurance that the people will easily adapt to the
necessary social reorganization because of job losses following
this negative change. Will the bridge create a positive spin-off
in terms of job creation for the residents of the Island and of New
Brunswick? Maybe. We hope for the best but it is far from sure
and I see a lot of ill defined areas in the whole employment
issue. The government would do well to look more closely into it
in order to come up with better answers than it did up to now.
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of National Revenue): Mr.
Speaker, I have a quick comment on the member's speech.
First, there appears to be some confusion between him and the
Leader of the Opposition on the environmental effects and the
satisfaction on this. I trust that they will straighten out this
I would also like to point out that many of the questions which
he wished to pose to the minister were in fact replied to in the
minister's address. I do not know whether the hon. member was
here at the time. Perhaps he was talking to a colleague. However,
many of the questions that were raised were, as I understand it,
from at least a failure to appreciate what the minister was
The hon. member mentions the absence of the minister. I
would like to point out that almost immediately behind the
minister sits his parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for
St. Boniface. I believe it is important for all members to
recognize the tremendous support that ministers receive from
their parliamentary secretaries. These members accept
additional responsibilities and do a tremendous job, particularly
on detailed questions such as the one the member put.
While I do not wish to build up the hon. member's
performance to levels of high expectation, we fully expect all
questions of this type to be very carefully analysed and dealt
with by the parliamentary secretary.
I have a parliamentary secretary sitting just behind the
member for St. Boniface and she is of immense help in debates
such as this in dealing with questions. When she speaks on such
questions I want it known, just as when the member for St.
Boniface speaks on such questions, that these people are acting
on behalf of the minister. In fact, quite often they speak more
eloquently than ministers. We are very happy with the support
that is given.
I am sure the hon. member will want to correct the impression
given that somehow the parliamentary secretary is not able to
handle the questions he put. I know full well that when the
parliamentary secretary rises to speak we will have a detailed
and careful analysis of the questions. The hon. member I am
sure, being a man who is very fair in his approach in the House,
will find the answers extremely acceptable.
It is important to point out that if at any particular moment the
minister of public works happens to be out of the House we can
rest assured that the presence of his parliamentary secretary
backstops very well that absence. The same is true in my case. I
was away from the House yesterday on business in Vancouver
and I had absolutely no compunction in leaving everything
related to my department in the hands of my parliamentary
secretary who, as I mentioned before, is a person whose skills
and ability I have high regard for.
I trust the hon. member will recognize there are ministers in
the House from time to time but we have full confidence in the
ability of our parliamentary secretaries. If the hon. member was
not here to hear the minister and thus had questions about what
he did not hear, we would be-
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): I wonder if I could ask the
co-operation of the House on the issue of the absence and
presence of members. As we all know the demands on
everyone's time are of such a nature that all members are not
able to be in the House at all times. I know we would want to
extend that respect to one another.
I believe the minister had concluded his remarks. I will now
Does the hon. member for Roberval want to add something to
the comments of the Minister of National Revenue?
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval): Mr. Speaker, when a cabinet
member hears what he wants to hear, then there is certainly
reason for concern.
Remarks that were never part of my speech have just been
attributed to me. I never said that the parliamentary secretary
was unable to answer questions. Never. Is that what the minister
understood? Such behaviour in the House on the part of a
minister is cause for concern. I never said any such thing. But I
did raise many questions to which the minister was unable to
provide explanations in his speech.
The Minister of National Revenue has just told us that the
minister has answered all questions asked by the hon. member.
Either the minister hears only what he wants to hear or we are
facing a problem as far as interpretation or understanding is
concerned. There is definitely a problem.
My questions deserve answers. If the parliamentary secretary
can answer them, he has only to rise and do so. That is why,
considering how time is important in the House, I nevertheless
spent 20 minutes to question a project in a reasonable, correct,
appropriate and parliamentary manner. I do not want people to
say that I agreed to a project when I really had reservations. I did
agree to it but at the same time, I did ask for explanations from
the minister. There is nothing wrong with that. This is typical of
debates in the House, and I would appreciate a more serious
follow up, instead of having someone put words in my mouth.
I cannot understand the minister's approach and, when I look
at his answer, I wonder if he understands it himself.
Mrs. Jane Stewart (Brant): Mr. Speaker, I listened with
interest to the hon. member's 20 minutes and to the speech given
by his leader.
They acknowledge that this is an amendment to the
Constitution and with glee seem to recognize the government's
recognition of the referendum that occurred on the island and
the importance of it.
They seem to be setting this discussion up as a precedent for
something. What I did not hear them speak about is the message
the minister gave about the importance of this fixed link not
only for the people of P.E.I. but for all Canadians.
I would suggest to the hon. member that if they are looking at
this discussion today as a precedent for something, they should
remember that it is important that things discussed in this House
be for the benefit of all Canadians. I would suggest that some of
the initiatives which the hon. member might be suggesting in the
future will not be for the benefit of all Canadians.
I believe that the direction of the party and its focus on
solidifying Quebec may not be for the best of all Canadians, nor
in fact for the benefit of all Quebecers. However I hesitate to
speak on their behalf. I would like to recommend that to the
member and have him remember that when the minister was
speaking about the importance of this fixed link, he focused on
the value for the whole country.
Mr. Gauthier: Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely flabbergasted. I
can hardly respond to what the hon. member has just said, that
is, that the results of a referendum on an issue which she
considers of national interest should be binding but that those of
a referendum held on an issue she does not consider to be of
national interest should not have the same value nor should they
concern this House in the same way.
Mr. Raymond Lavigne (Verdun-Saint-Paul): True.
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval): Mr. Speaker, I hear comments to
the effect that this is true. That is quite serious. If, for the other
side, respect of the democratic process-
An hon. member: We have to listen to this?
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval): Indeed, you do. If, for the other
side, respect of the democratic process is important only when it
suits their purpose, Mr. Speaker, then it is time they say so.
I think that, in our country, the results of a democratic
consultation should always be binding whatever the
consequences. If, on the other side, there are members who think
that the results of democratic consultation should not be binding
when they do not serve their political interest, then I would urge
them to discuss it with the Prime Minister. They seem to have a
problem within their caucus. I am not sure the Prime Minister
would be proud if he knew that his party members plan to apply
referendum results only when they suit them. We take notice of
Mr. Joe McGuire (Egmont): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for
me to address this amendment, secure in the knowledge that the
construction of the fixed link is part of the government's
program. All that remains is passage of the resolution to amend
the terms of the union between P.E.I. and the Dominion of
I want to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Cape
Breton-East Richmond, the minister of public works. He has
been a longstanding advocate and promoter of Atlantic Canada
and he earned the gratitude of the vast majority of P.E.I.
residents with his strong support for the construction of the
fixed link. I have been a supporter of the fixed link since day
one, having voted for it in the plebiscite in 1988.
For all members present, I would like to clarify a topic which
has just been addressed by the hon. member for Roberval and
two other members of the House. Prince Edward Island never
had a referendum on the fixed link. Prince Edward Island had a
plebiscite on the fixed link. There is a distinct difference
between the two. A referendum is binding in law. A plebiscite is
Premier Ghiz wanted to test how the people of Prince Edward
Island felt about the construction of a fixed link. Therefore he
called for a plebiscite. It was not binding on him to continue no
matter what the result was. All he wanted to do was test public
opinion to see whether he should go ahead. If the people of
Prince Edward Island at that time had said they did not support
the fixed link, he was prepared to endorse the voice of islanders
and not proceed.
There was never a referendum taken of the people of Prince
Edward Island on the fixed link. If any member opposite or on
this side believes it was the case, it never was.
Since the House gave approval to the project last June 15 in
Bill C-110, my decision to support the link has been reinforced.
Even though link construction is really only in its infancy, one
can feel a sense of hope and optimism permeating the island
community. An official in the construction industry had said
that the link is not just an economic boost, it is really the only
game in town.
I realize that on P.E.I. support for the link was not, is not and
probably never will be unanimous. When the plebiscite was held
in 1988 the results were 60 per cent to 40 per cent,
approximately. Since then support has grown steadily. Recent
estimates indicate that it now ranges in the area of 75 per cent to
80 per cent in favour of the fixed link. Every effort was made to
provide forums for legitimate opponents of the project to lay
before the legislative committee their reasons for opposition.
During the House of Commons legislative committee
hearings last March we went to great lengths to promote a
balance in witnesses between the proponents of the fixed link
and the opponents of the project.
Over 200 new members in the House did not participate in the
debates of the 34th Parliament when we passed Bill C-110
which enabled the project to proceed. When the legislation was
enacted here we had already gone through the questions raised
by the member for Roberval and other members. They are all in
the records, whether in the legislative committee record or in the
House debates of last March, May and June. Many of the
questions being raised today have already been debated and
answered to the best of our ability. If hon. members would like
to read what transpired in the House when Bill C-110 dealing
with the fixed link went through, they should do so.
Today we are mainly concerned with amending the
Constitution. The legislation to build a fixed link has already
passed. I can understand the curiosity and the questions hon.
members are coming up with today.
As I said earlier, despite local opposition in some quarters
support among islanders has continued to grow. We are here
today to deal with the final legal obstacle, a court ordered
constitutional amendment which would allow a fixed link, a
bridge, to replace the steam service guaranteed in P.E.I.'s
original terms of union. We were ordered to do this by Madam
Justice Reed in a 1992 decision.
I want to remind the House in the strongest possible terms that
the Government of Prince Edward Island has already endorsed
this amendment and has done so unanimously. The federal
government, the Government of Prince Edward Island and the
Government of New Brunswick have endorsed the project. In
effect it is saying yes to Atlantic Canada.
Because of the inefficiencies of the present ferry system the
project will allow the federal government to fulfil its
responsibilities to provide an adequate
transportation-communication service between P.E.I. and the
mainland. The project will allow P.E.I. to share in the
transportation vision which opened up other
parts of Canada to growth and development. The project is
reflective of the spirit of our federal state.
This is why I am happy to be here today to speak one more
time in support of the project. The history of the idea and the
development of the concept of a fixed link have been discussed
at length and are matters of record. So too are the numerous
debates and studies conducted in relation to the particular
project. As I said earlier we went through the whole process last
spring and early summer.
Since this is the case I want to move to the primary purpose of
the debate today, that is to amend P.E.I.'s terms of union, and put
on record the original clause. The original terms of union state:
That the Dominion Government shall assume and defray all the charges of the
following services-efficient steam service for the conveyance of mails and
passengers, to be established and maintained between the island and the mainland
of the Dominion, winter and summer, thus placing the island in continuous
communication with the Intercolonial Railroad and the railroad system of the
Today's amendment will provide a fixed crossing, a bridge, as
a replacement for a steam service. As most hon. members know
we do not have a railway system in P.E.I. any more. We are
basically connecting our car-truck service to the roads and
highways of the rest of Canada.
It has taken over 120 years and over 90 studies to bring about a
change that is already providing benefit to Atlantic Canada. In
1988 the Government of P.E.I. crystallized the issue by holding
a plebiscite. The positive results of the plebiscite provided the
stimulus which brought the concept of the link to reality. The
numerous studies and actions taken subsequent to the plebiscite
have addressed the concerns of the people and the governments
It is time to recognize that the project makes immense good
sense. It has united business and labour in Prince Edward Island.
It has brought political opponents together in common cause. In
the previous Parliament the Conservative government was
basically sponsoring the legislation and the Liberal Party at the
time joined with the government in supporting it.
The organization, Islanders for a Better Tomorrow,
spearheaded support for the link and deserve credit and
recognition for its efforts. This group and all other link
supporters believe the project is of tremendous importance to
the future of P.E.I. and Atlantic Canada. It will provide an
opportunity for P.E.I. to establish itself as a key player in a
revitalized economy in Atlantic Canada. It will be an
opportunity for our province to be recognized for other things
than its small size, equalization payments and potatoes.
The naysayers have raised questions about the environment,
the fisheries and the ferry workers. The courts have ruled that all
reasonable measures have been taken. Any potential adverse
environmental effects of the specific bridge proposal were
either insignificant or mitigable with known technology. In the
fishery an agreement has already been reached which will
provide compensation to fishermen for any disruption or loss of
access during the construction period.
Discussions for ferry worker compensation are under way.
This booklet will tell us exactly what moves we are making
toward the ferry workers on retraining, job opportunities, early
retirement and so on. That will all be developed over the next
number of years to address the concerns of the ferry workers,
which is a very important aspect of the whole discussion.
The scales are heavily weighed on the positive pro-link side.
Economic activity will grow. It will grow during the
construction period and it will grow in the years afterward. The
link will generate experience and create jobs. P.E.I. has a
desperate need for jobs.
This is the biggest infrastructure program ever undertaken in
Atlantic Canada. There will never be an opportunity as great as
the one we now have. It is time to get on with it.
In that vein I want to close with a quote from Rob Matthews,
business editor of the Halifax Chronicle Herald and the Mail
Star, in his column of February 4. In part he said: ``The issues
have already been studied sufficiently for elected and appointed
officials to decide the crossing was worth while politically,
economically and environmentally. There must be an end to
discussions at some reasonable point. Sadly valuable projects
are often beset by those who want the process to deliver only
their solution or, failing that, another process that will.
Entrepreneurs and governments have come to understand that
someone will object to almost any construction project. These
days there is no single body of opinion on anything. It is much
the same with public assessments in which the same few voices
and personalities vie for the spotlight, unwilling to accept
reality or unable to comprehend that action not paralysis brings
jobs and development. There are great benefits ahead as a result
of the fixed link. The sooner we can attain them the better''.
Mr. Antoine Dubé (Lévis): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member
gave his definition of referendum and plebiscite and he
underlined that since, in this case, it was only a plebiscite, its
results were not binding on the government, which decided
nonetheless, as we can see today, to respect the will of the people
and go ahead with the project.
I also wanted to talk about traffic. Having travelled several
times to Prince Edward Island, I can say that the bridge will no
doubt have the effect of increasing car traffic on the island.
Everybody knows that to go to the Magdalen Islands, one has to
drive across Prince Edward Island to take the ferry at Souris.
Does the hon. member know about studies on increased traffic
that could alleviate our concerns about delays on the way to the
Magdalen Islands? Can he comment on that?
Mr. McGuire: Mr. Speaker, in reference to the hon.
member's question about a plebiscite, the federal government
was in no way, shape or form involved in it. The plebiscite was
strictly within the province of P.E.I. It was held to give the
government, under Premier Ghiz at that time, an indication of
what the islanders felt about a fixed link to the mainland. It had
nothing to do with the federal government. The federal
government was not even remotely involved with the project at
that time. It was merely a sampling of public opinion as to what
islanders actually felt about the fixed link.
As far as getting to Magdalen Island, which is part of the
beautiful province of Quebec, I would think a fixed link would
make it a lot easier. The member would not have to wait at Cape
Tormentine for any length of time. He could simply drive up,
drive over the bridge, continue on his way to Surrey and catch
the ferry to Magdalen Island. He would be able to spend more
time there once the fixed link was built.
Mr. Len Taylor (The Battlefords-Meadow Lake): Mr.
Speaker, I will be very brief. I have a question of clarification
for the member for Egmont who just spoke.
I visited his constituency on several occasions. I find it to be a
very beautiful part of our country. I am slightly envious of him
in representing that constituency. I know he would be of my
constituency as well. I invite him to visit any time he wishes to
I have two points of clarification. The first has to do with the
plebiscite. Could the member confirm my recollection that
when the plebiscite was held the question implied that perhaps
the fixed link could be a safe underground tunnel as much as it
could be the construction of a bridge?
Second, I heard him say in his speech that the constitutional
amendment we are discussing today has been dealt with in the
Prince Edward Island legislature. I was not aware of that. Could
the member clarify if the amendment has been dealt with in the
Prince Edward Island legislature, including the parts about tolls
and possible privatization of the structure?
Mr. McGuire: Mr. Speaker, I invite the hon. member to
revisit Prince Edward Island any time, and all members of the
House. It is the best place one could possibly visit in the
summertime. I would not want to visit the hon. member's riding
in the wintertime either so I do not expect him to come to Prince
The question on the plebiscite did not include any options.
The tunnel was never on the ballot as an option. It was strictly:
``Are you in favour of a fixed link?'' The people who were
bidding for the fixed link considered in the development of a
proposal the option of a tunnel. I think they found only one
bidder who actually went into the matter of the tunnel to any
great depth. Even that company felt it was much too expensive
to continue any further exploration of that option and that the
most economic option was the bridge option.
It was not considered at all on the plebiscite. The people who
did look into it on the construction side and the bidder side felt
there were many environmental problems with the tunnel. It was
not an economically viable option.
On the member's second question, the provincial legislature
last spring passed a unanimous resolution endorsing the
constitutional amendment to the terms of union between P.E.I.
and the Dominion of Canada. That has already gone through its
legislature. It is a resolution only. It was directed, as we are
directed today by Madam Justice Reed, that this had to happen
before the bridge could be legally used in place of a ferry
Ms. Mary Clancy (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration): Mr. Speaker, it is a very great
privilege to join in this debate today. It is a particular privilege
to follow the hon. member for Egmont who for such a long time
has been an advocate in this House for all of the interests of his
home province of Prince Edward Island. He has been such an
advocate for the establishment of the fixed link.
Before I continue, Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate
you on your appointment. It is a delight to have you in the chair.
I am sure you will prosper there with all of us to be your sheep,
shall I say.
With regard to this debate, in the more than five years I have
been privileged to be a member of this House representing a
riding in Atlantic Canada, I have stood countless times and
spoken on matters of great and indeed of crucial interest to the
people of our region. Frequently we have looked at the
possibilities of development for employment, development to
create a better climate for business, development in the area of
natural resources and so on and so forth. We have met walls
because of our small population. We have met difficulties
because of the problem of distances, as in every region of this
country, et cetera.
It is with particular gratification that I stand today to speak in
support of the constitutional amendment to enable the building
of the fixed link crossing between New Brunswick and Prince
There are many reasons that this fixed link is a superb idea.
Members much more involved from the provinces of Prince
Edward Island and New Brunswick have articulated these ideas,
but I would like to talk just about one area where I see the fixed
link making a difference. It was very interesting that a member
questioned my colleague from Egmont about the traffic and
about getting to Iles-de-la-Madeleine, which is the area I want
to talk about.
In spite of all of the setbacks and drawbacks in Atlantic
Canada, we think we really are the most fortunate people in the
country. If one is fortunate enough to live in Atlantic Canada,
particularly in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island is normally
the vacation place of choice. I must say New Brunswick is also,
but we like to go to P.E.I. for the beaches, the wonderful golf
courses, the great food, the terrific restaurants, and on and on.
I have been visiting Prince Edward Island as a tourist since I
was a small child. I have jokingly referred to the fixed link from
time to time as the span of Green Gables. That reminds us why
young women in this country consider a visit to Prince Edward
Island to be practically a religious experience: the shrine of
Anne of Green Gables and that great Canadian writer, and
feminist I might add, Lucy Maud Montgomery.
I have spent many hours as a child, as an adolescent and as an
adult sitting in a car, usually at Cape Tormentine, waiting for a
ferry. I remember one particular visit at this time of year. When
Joe says he does not want to go to the Battlefords in February he
is probably right. However, getting to P.E.I. in February can be
quite something too when one is dependent upon the mercy of
the ferry in the Northumberland Strait when the ice is in.
There was a meeting. It was the kick-off to a very famous
political campaign. The Atlantic provinces student Liberals
were meeting in Charlottetown in 1968 to decide whose students
would support the leadership of a great political party. A group
of us from Halifax headed out for Tormentine. Given that it was
February we did pretty well. We arrived there in about four
hours from Halifax. We then waited for six hours until the old
Abegweit could get into the dock. We got on the Abegweit. I
think normally it takes about 45 minutes to cross in good
weather, but seven and a half hours later we landed in P.E.I. It is
one thing when it is a group of students. We had a good time on
An hon. member: I suspect you did.
Ms. Clancy: Yes, we did. We really did not mind a whole lot
the almost seven hour extension of the trip.
I remember we were met on that illustrious morning by one of
Prince Edward Island's most famous sons. I refer to Premier
Alec Campbell as he then was and who today is Mr. Justice
Campbell of the island's supreme court. Premier Campbell was
not very happy on that day. He knew the ferry had been frozen in
the middle of the strait for over seven hours. He took the
opportunity to make a public speech right there and he got a
good crowd, as island politicians usually do. He spoke about the
fact that the ferry really did not fulfil the constitutional
agreement to create a proper link and a proper mode of
transportation to and from Prince Edward Island.
That happened 26 years ago this month. I remember it very
well. Consequently most of my subsequent trips to Prince
Edward Island have been by air or in the summertime, but I have
never forgotten the passion with which Premier Campbell
addressed this issue.
I discussed this issue on many occasions because, as the
member for Egmont can tell you, I was not a total convert to the
concept in the beginning. The member for Egmont, the
Secretary of State for Veterans, two other premiers of Prince
Edward Island, Premier Callbeck and former Premier Ghiz, and
the present member for Malpeque have all had a part in
convincing me that this is absolutely the right thing, not just for
the people of Prince Edward Island, not just for the people of
Atlantic Canada but for the people of Canada. It will create the
access we need and deserve to get to the cradle of Confederation,
one of Canada's unique beauty spots.
Members who have been here for any length of time know and
new members will learn very soon that being members of
Parliament gives us a very privileged sense of the country as a
whole, as a unit from sea to sea to sea.
To go to Charlottetown and see where the fathers, sent by the
mothers, of Confederation first met to discuss what would
happen in 1867 gives one a very particular and very warm view
of what the politicians of the day were struggling over, arguing
over, negotiating and deciding to do for Canadians then and now.
Young Canadians from the other nine provinces would benefit
from visiting, seeing and spending time in the cradle of
Confederation. I agree that we would all benefit, young people
in particular, from seeing all the parts of this magnificent
Tourism is one of Prince Edward Island's major industries and
we certainly do not see people staying away because of the
ferries. However, as we enter a more modern age heading toward
the year 2000 it is only sensible to ensure that access to that
province be done in the most sensible, safest and time saving
way. That is why those of us in this House from the province of
Nova Scotia stand in great support of our colleagues from Prince
Edward Island and in great support of our colleagues from New
Another thing I would like to bring to the attention of the
House is the fact that this fixed link is going to create an
incredible number of jobs. In the provinces of Prince Edward
Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick the creation of jobs is
something every one of us is committed to and I can only say it is
with an almost spiritual fervour. We do not like to be considered
the poor relations of Confederation. We do not like to be called
the have not provinces.
This fixed link will create an economic boom and an
advantage to business and tourism. I am in favour and I say three
cheers for those who decided to go ahead with the fixed link.
Ms. Roseanne Skoke (Central Nova): Mr. Speaker, I
listened with interest to my colleague, the hon. member from
As the member for Central Nova, the issue of the fixed link is
one of major concern in my riding. It is recognized that the
Northumberland bridge, the fixed link to Prince Edward Island,
is a link to economic opportunity and progress for Prince
Edward Island and all of Atlantic Canada. This link will create
job opportunities for Atlantic Canadians throughout
construction of the bridge and maintenance thereafter. It will
create opportunity for tourism and economic progress.
However in my riding of Central Nova some concerns have
been expressed regarding competition between the fixed link at
one end of the island and the ferry service at the other end. The
employees of the ferry service rely upon this means for
commercial and domestic transport and for carrying tourists
from Caribou to Wood Islands. The shipbuilding industry and
Steelworkers of America Union rely upon the building of new
ferries and the maintenance of those existing for their
I wish to reassure the people of Central Nova that the
competing interests between one end of the island and the other
and competing interests between New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia along with the competing interests of construction
workers, ferry workers and shipbuilders can be very readily
The fixed link will create employment opportunity as well as
tourism opportunity for all of us in Atlantic Canada. It will in no
way diminish the importance of the ferry service running
between Wood Islands and Caribou. The continuation and
upgrading of the ferry service between Caribou and Wood
Islands will create opportunities for tourism and economic
progress in Central Nova and for the province of Nova Scotia.
Therefore on behalf of the people of Central Nova I support
the motion put forward this morning by the hon. minister of
public works. I thank my learned colleague for her comments.
Ms. Clancy: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the hon.
member from that great riding of Central Nova which for the
first time in many years boasts a member from the Liberal Party.
I congratulate her on her election and on her comments this
In talking about the benefits of the fixed link to tourism I was
remiss in not particularly mentioning the Caribou-Wood Islands
service. It is essentially a summertime service and is also a great
boon to tourism. The ferries on that line are built in the shipyard
in Pictou county and all of us want nothing more than to see this
line continue. It too is a wonderful way to travel between Prince
Edward Island and Nova Scotia to get the benefits of two of the
most beautiful places on earth, that is Prince Edward Island and
I know when the hon. member speaks with her passionate
devotion to the people of her area they can be assured of the
safety of that line and the continued interest in both the use of
that line for tourism and business. The two access points to
Prince Edward Island, to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia can
work very well together in harmony and to the benefit of all
Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East): Mr. Speaker, in May
1873 the government of Sir John A. Macdonald passed an act
admitting Prince Edward Island to Confederation. A month later
his cabinet approved an order in council which also promised
the ``efficient steam service for the conveyance of mails and
passengers to be established and maintained thus placing the
island in continuous communication with the intercolonial
railway and the railway system of the Dominion''.
The provision of that order in council has now become part of
our present day Constitution. The promise has been kept for 121
years. Today it is the intention of both the federal government
and that of Prince Edward Island to change the wording of the
clause but not the promise itself, thus committing the federal
government to a fixed link instead of a ferry service.
At the outset I want the House to note the intention of our
forefathers. Their intent was obvious. They were clearly
intending to obligate the federal government to keep the island
in continuous communication with the mainland. The mode of
transportation by ferry was also specified and the federal
government wishes to confirm that same intention. However,
today it wants to specify a different mode of transportation.
The Reform Party of Canada does not wish to argue that a
bridge would not be beneficial to Prince Edward Island.
Common assent to the plan has been given by provincial
plebiscite and resolution.
The fixed link has weathered protests by environmentalists
and engineers who argue that the bridge will be unhealthy or
unsafe. It has endured bad press, public dispute and court
challenges and now all that remains is to change this clause. No
one argues that the bridge will mean more prosperity for the
maritimes and increased economic development for Prince
Edward Island in particular.
The principle of a bridge replacing a ferry is not the substance
of our complaint today. The Reform Party wants nothing but
increased prosperity for all of the maritime provinces. However,
the federal cabinet should not pass an Order in Council today to
change this clause. To alter it today requires an amendment to
the Constitution, that document foundational to our nation, the
instrument which defines our political system and, more
specifically, defines the nature of the relationship between
provinces and the federal government.
I address two different audiences today. To the audience in
Prince Edward Island, I understand why it needs this bridge or
why it wants it. It will be good for that province and I think there
is widespread public support in Canada for the bridge.
To my second audience, the Government of Canada, what it is
attempting to do in this House today is both incorrect and
unwise. Allow me to explain what I mean.
The Government of Canada is proceeding under section 43 of
the Canadian Constitution which reads:
An amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to any provision that
applies to one or more, but not all, provinces-may be made by proclamation
issued by the Governor General.
The government assumes that it can safely proceed under this
section because it also assumes that this issue relates only to the
federal government and two or three provinces. Is this really the
case? Could it be true that the provision of a fixed link to Prince
Edward Island involves all the provinces of Canada, not only the
maritime provinces? I submit that although this amendment
does not apply directly to every province of Canada, it affects
every province in an important and substantive way and
therefore the government could be acting improperly.
If changes are necessary at this time, it should proceed in a
fairer and more conventional manner by way of section 38 of the
Constitution, a section which at least attempts to involve the
input of all Canadians.
How are other provinces involved? This venture is a shared
cost venture and these costs are not shared between just one
province and the federal government. The subsidy which now
operates the ferries is taken from the federal government's
general revenue. Who contributes to the federal treasury, all
provinces or just a few? All provinces are involved today in
subsidizing Prince Edward Island's ferries and we are happy to
However, the estimated cost of the bridge, $850 million and
climbing, will also be borne in some fashion by all members of
the federation because the federal government will subsidize
this bridge to the amount of $43 million per year for the next 35
years. This is not an insignificant sum. This kind of significant
commitment requires the approval of all Canadians.
However, there is an additional problem. The government
through a constitutional amendment will continue to commit
itself not just to the fixed link but to the original intention of the
clause written in 1873. That intent is to place the island in
continuous communication with the mainland.
What if problems are to develop? What if the bridge suffers
cost overruns of more than 10 per cent? Another member
indicated that it may double. Other projects around the world
such as the tunnel under the English Channel or the Hibernia oil
project nearby have experienced vast cost overruns. We all know
the appalling record of past federal governments in this regard.
We will be committed to a bridge no matter what problems
What if, God forbid, this bridge should collapse? The
government will be constitutionally obligated to rebuild it. The
question I am asking here is a serious one. By constitutional
amendment all members of the federation will be committed to
providing a fixed link with the mainland forever.
If the bridge is rendered unusable for periods of time during
the winter or encounters other major problems, the intent of the
constitutional amendment will still stand. Continuous
communication with the mainland will have to be maintained by
the government. In other words, if the fixed link proves
unworkable the government will still have to provide a ferry
Speaking outside of constitutional law, the government could
not allow an entire province to be cut off from the mainland for
very long. A ferry would have to be provided if the bridge proves
to be unreliable. If it comes to a disagreement and finally to law,
the people of Prince Edward Island could demand a ferry service
through the courts if necessary.
The member for Lac-Saint-Jean noted the ambiguity between
the French and English versions of this amendment earlier today
when he mentioned that in one version it says they may and in
the other it says they will. That is still unclear. It is a moot point.
We will be obligated and in this case we will be obligated to this
In that case the cost of this constant communication with the
mainland would effectively double. This is a much greater
commitment than the government would now have us believe.
This is a significant commitment that every province in Canada
deserves to address through a resolution under the current
constitutional arrangements by each legislature under the
authority of section 38 of the Constitution.
Although it is clear to me that the government is acting
incorrectly, perhaps unlawfully and certainly unwisely, I do not
propose a legal remedy. Constitutional change should never be
forced on the nation in the name of expediency. If the
government insists on proceeding in this manner, there is a
simple resolution which lies in the decision of the Federal Court
of Canada given in March of last year. Madam Justice Reed
indicated that a discontinuance of the ferry service must be
sanctioned by a constitutional amendment. We agree to that. She
gave the House of Commons no direction as to the wording of
that amendment in the form of a resolution.
If the government must go ahead with this change, and I
repeat many of us feel this is not the way to go about
constitutional change, it should reword its resolution to reaffirm
the constitutional intent to provide constant communication
with the mainland but to despecify the mode of transportation
required. To be very clear, the amendment would promise a
continuous link with the mainland, period.
In this way the government would have a free hand to choose
the least expensive transportation option in the future while still
carrying through with its plans for a bridge today.
Here the Government of Canada would not be committing all
provinces to provide a fixed link for all time and at any cost, and
under no circumstances could Canada be legally obliged to
provide a bridge and a ferry service at the same time.
Although this legal argument is significant, it does not form
the basis of our objection to this resolution. Our objection
springs from a root that goes far deeper than a simple legal
technicality. The Constitution of Canada defines the
relationship between provinces and the federal government. The
amending formula is the way to redefine or to change these
relationships. If we redefine these relationships we must be
careful to do so in a way that shows consideration for all parties.
We show consideration to all parties in order to preserve good
will between them. Countries are not built on technicalities.
They are built on relationships. Those relationships, especially
in this period of Canada's history, must be preserved at all costs
or the federation is lost.
The Reform Party of Canada envisions a better process for our
nation, one that preserves national relationships and respects the
wisdom of individual Canadians, one that provides popular
ratification of constitutional change in a bottom-up process, not
a top-down process like we are experiencing here again today,
in which each concerned Canadian can participate in
constitutional conventions and finally have their say through a
This government is proceeding today just as it might have 50
years ago when it would simply pass a resolution to ask Britain
to change the BNA Act. This process is no longer acceptable to
I think of the case of the Roman Empire. At the start of every
major undertaking they would pray to the god Janus. Janus was a
two faced god who looked into both the past and the future. They
hoped to be guided by this god who would say: ``These are the
mistakes we made in the past and we will not repeat these as we
try to guide our nation forward into the future''.
That god passed into the history books along with the Roman
Empire but we can learn from that concept. When it comes to
constitutional change, if we ignore what we have gone through
in the past few years as we plan for the future, we are making a
serious mistake in the House of Commons.
The Canadian voter is no longer tolerant of politicians who
fall victim to what we describe as Ottawa fever as soon as they
are elected. This disease results, as we have talked about before,
in selective hearing, poor memory and the inability to discern
the common sense of average Canadians. Ottawa fever killed
both a government and a national party just a few months ago.
Has this government learned from the mistakes of the
I have a genuine fear that this House and this government are
embarking on a legislative program, including these
constitutional changes, that shows that they have the early
symptoms of Ottawa fever.
The finance minister talks about filling the loopholes and
broadening the tax base in the upcoming budget. He puts a pretty
spin on an ugly subject by saying that Canadians want to
increase equity in the tax system, which is just another way of
saying that the government wants more out of the taxpayers.
This is at a time when taxpayers are pleading with the
government to stop gouging them and start listening about
cutting some expenses.
On another issue, many voters, especially the voters of
Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville, are demanding the right
to recall MPs but their appeals fall on deaf ears. We cannot see
any movement on this right to recall. Why is that? Why is it that
no one is listening to that?
Now we see this government promising also an ill-defined
aboriginal self-government even after the Charlottetown accord
was soundly rejected by Canadians. How is that possible?
This government is running far ahead of the voters. It may
even be in a different running lane, I am not sure. The House
needs to stop pushing only the government's agenda and start
pushing ahead with the people's agenda.
Is it any wonder Canadians have a negative attitude toward
governments in general? If the government will not listen to
Canadians and cannot put its financial house in order, how will it
possibly deal with wisdom regarding constitutional issues
which form the foundation of that house?
The Constitution has been the focus of much needless hurt in
our nation. It started with the patriation in 1981, a unilateral
action which caused the rancorous constitutional conferences of
the mid-eighties. These led to the political disasters of Meech
Lake and the Charlottetown accord. Out of them emerged the
Bloc Quebecois and a full-blown separatist movement that
threatens to split our nation in two.
Today, what do we find? Yet another amendment to the
Constitution, virtually free of national debate, unfettered by
consultation with anyone with Prince Edward Island, slipped
under the noses of parliamentarians as if the last decade simply
disappeared. It appears that the government has learned nothing
from the mistakes of the past.
Not only that, but the government conveniently ignores the
voices of millions of other Canadians who have said through
their votes and through other mechanisms that they are
demanding other changes to the Constitution, changes that they
say are at least as important, possibly more important, than
We have long advocated changes like a reformed Senate,
entrenched property rights over which there is already a lot of
general national agreement, positive changes such as a
constitutional ceiling on government spending, something that
would ensure that undisciplined politicians could never again
spend our children's inheritance.
Last year the ousted Conservative Party barged ahead with a
constitutional change for New Brunswick, just after that very
change was rejected as part of the Charlottetown accord. Reform
voted against it. Now we see this government forcing us to
accept changes on behalf of Prince Edward Island. Reform once
again rejects the process that ignores the cries of millions of
other Canadians. This process should be a source of shame to
This small amendment is no small matter. It deals with an
enormous principle. It brings back memories of how our
Constitution has been mishandled over the past 15 years. The
Reform Party of Canada opposes this amendment on three firm
grounds. The first I went over at some length earlier in my
presentation. It is simply unwise to glibly approve a permanent,
unqualified commitment to the bridge.
The second ground is that of consultation. To satisfy voters
and preserve the relationships of the federation, the government
should proceed in a way which allows input from every province
and, through a referendum, every citizen.
The third principle is that of common sense. It says: ``First
things first. We ought not approach the House lightly on such
weighty subjects. There are other important constitutional
issues that could be and should be dealt with at the same time''.
To sum up, the Reform Party would be very pleased if one day
at the end of a proper consultative process the House dealt with a
balanced package of positive, popular constitutional
amendments that included perhaps a re-worded amendment for
the benefit of Prince Edward Island.
Today the Canadian people expect to participate in the most
important decision that the House can make. It is foolhardy to
push their patience once again regarding constitutional change.
I would therefore ask the Prime Minister to reconsider the
process by which this decision has been brought to the House. I
urge all members to carefully distinguish expedient choices
from choices that are motivated by a concern for the future, a
search for wisdom and a love for your country.
My concerns and the concerns of each of our constituencies
deserve more of a hearing than a few short speeches given to a
basically empty House.
This is not mere housekeeping legislation we are considering.
Any changes we make now become a permanent part of our
Constitution. The obligations we shoulder today will weigh on
our grandchildren a century from now. Surely this law should
not be sandwiched between bills on excise taxes and port
operations. This process trivializes the Constitution of Canada,
the foundation of our nation.
Hon. David Dingwall (Minister of Public Works and
Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada
Opportunities Agency): Mr. Speaker, just a comment then a
brief question to my hon. colleague opposite.
I did not hear the full extent of his remarks but I did pay
particular attention to some of his wording. If I quote him
incorrectly I hope that he will do the honourable thing and
advise the House that I have done so.
The hon. member made reference to this creeping into the
House of Commons and somehow the guillotine will come down
fairly soon on a decision which is of gargantuan importance to
Canada, to the world and to other planets if you will. I am
paraphrasing of course, but I understand the hon. member is new
to the House. However new to the House does not give you the
right to flagrantly abuse-
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): I know the minister is a
very experienced parliamentarian and that he would want to
direct all of his comments through the Chair.
Mr. Dingwall: Mr. Speaker, as I was making my point
through you to the hon. member, it does not give him the right to
abuse flagrantly and selectively some of the discussions which
took place in this Chamber not more than a year ago. He
suggested in his remarks that somehow this evil thing that we
put before Parliament today was concocted, if you will, in the
back rooms. It has been around for five full years.
I cannot understand why the hon. member would try to give
that impression to his constituents. Perhaps we might wish to
have a recall of the hon. member's ability to remember all of the
facts and all of the things that have gone on in this House.
The question I have for the hon. member is the following.
Does the hon. member not think it appropriate that the people of
Prince Edward Island, who over 130 years ago decided that they
would become a part of Confederation, have now determined
through the most democratic way, namely a referendum, that
they wish to amend those terms of reference which they
consummated over 130 years ago? Is the hon. member saying to
Canada's smallest province, to that group of individuals, that
they no longer have that right as other Canadians in British
Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and across this country have that
Is the hon. member suggesting in a code that because one
comes from a small province, because one comes from a small
population base, one does not enjoy the rights that other
provinces have? Is that not what the hon. member is suggesting?
Mr. Strahl: Mr. Speaker, I was moved. I do not know what it
is that the minister seems to get so apoplectic about every time I
speak. This is the second time he has become so vociferous in
his attack on me. I am not exactly sure why.
If I could address the points he raised I will go through them
and try to remember them all. He said that I should not use
selective memory in my remarks concerning last year's
discussions but that I should think back to the extensive
What I was trying to emphasize during my presentation was
that I have not forgotten the extensive consultations of last year.
I have not forgotten that other members of the House, including
every other party but-not the Bloc perhaps-the Reform Party
of Canada were in favour of the Charlottetown accord. The
Reform Party of Canada was in tune enough with the Canadian
people to know they had rejected it wholeheartedly.
I was not dissociating myself from that discussion. Of course,
I remember that and so should the hon. minister. Of course we
want all discussions to be out in the open. Of course we want
things to be decided through a referendum. When it comes to
recall, if the minister thinks I am nervous of being recalled I
invite him and his government to bring forward recall
legislation at the earliest possible moment and we will put it to
the test. It will not happen here.
It will happen first of all in Markham. I am convinced of that.
As a matter of fact I expect thousands of people to come out to
the rally tonight to determine that. If the minister wants to bring
that kind of legislation forward, he will have widespread support
on this side of the House. I am starting to get a little wound up
myself but I mentioned it clearly if the minister was listening to
I am not opposed to the idea of a bridge. The bridge may be a
wonderful idea but to cherry pick your way through the
constitutional orchard picking a cherry here, a cherry there, with
the government deciding what it wants to do even if it has no
support among the Canadian people at large. If there is going to
be constitutional change the people want to ratify it themselves.
They proved that during the Charlottetown accord. They will not
accept anything less. If the government wants to check on the
pulse of the Canadian people, do not be afraid to go to a
referendum. The people will give it the answers it requires. They
may well approve this change. I hope they do but the process
must remain, involving all Canadians. If it does not it has no
support from the Reform Party. I believe it has no support
among the Canadian people.
Mr. Dingwall: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has a selective
memory. He should realize and understand that to suggest this is
cherry picking with regard to constitutional reform is utterly
The Government of Canada, the Government of Prince
Edward Island as well as the Government of New Brunswick
signed a tripartite agreement. In order to consummate the
agreement they duly signed after appropriate consultations with
their constituents. After a referendum in the province of Prince
Edward Island, the Federal Court of Canada stated it was
necessary for that document to have full legal effect not only for
the short term but for the long term to change constitutionally
the terms of reference affecting the province of Prince Edward
Island and the Government of Canada.
It is quite one thing to stand in one's place and accuse the
government of the day of cherry picking on constitutional
reform when it is the exact opposite. The court is saying clearly
and unequivocally, if you wish to give long-term legal effect to
a binding agreement duly entered into in good faith by three
separate parties, you should and must make a change in terms of
the constitutional reference. That is the rationale.
I am surprised that the hon. member, who is quite adept on his
feet, would not be cognizant of that important fact. That is why
today in this legislature, as some time ago in the legislature of
P.E.I., this constitutional amendment had to be put forward in
order to give legal and binding effect to an agreement duly
entered into by three different provinces and the Government of
Mr. Strahl Mr. Speaker, I know the minister mentioned that
he did not listen to all the earlier speeches. Perhaps this is the
part he forgot.
I did mention that Madam Justice Reed's decision demands a
constitutional change. I did not argue with that either. However,
we are talking about process. Constitutional change affects all
provinces and all Canadians when it is the foundational
document that guides us. We cannot say it only affects Prince
Edward Island. The federal government is obligated for $43
million and change a year or maybe more. It involves all
It is why we have talked repeatedly of the need to approve
constitutional change through a national binding referendum. I
am not afraid of referendums. The government has talked
several times about referendums and how it enjoyed the
referendum process in P.E.I., how it was a positive process and
how it involved people and how it has grown from 60 per cent
support to 70 per cent support today. I applaud it and I applaud
the people of Prince Edward Island.
I am saying not to be afraid of consulting the Canadian people
on constitutional matters. When you ask for their opinion they
will give it to you as they did in the Charlottetown accord. They
will give it again. If it is properly presented with a bottom up
consultative process they will approve the necessary changes.
They would probably approve this one. It is the process and the
process is wrong.
Mr. Pat O'Brien (London-Middlesex): Mr. Speaker,
unlike most of the members opposite I have listened to today,
both from the Bloc and from Reform, I would like to do
something interesting and actually speak to the motion that is on
the floor of this House.
Mr. McGuire: That is a good idea.
Mr. O'Brien: I do not want to talk about the Senate. It might
be a neat idea if we actually spoke to what the minister has put
before the House, the actual motion that is up for debate and not
hear threats from members of the Bloc about a referendum that
is looming in their province and their opinion or use this, as has
been done by several members of the Reform Party, to argue
about the Senate and the need for constant, daily referendums.
We had a very decisive referendum on October 25, 1993. The
Canadian people spoke very clearly about the vision they have
for this country. They spoke so clearly that the government has
had to occupy some seats on the other side of the House. Let us
not be under any illusion about the authority of this government
and of its ability to act.
I congratulate the minister for his cautious review of this
project. It was very thorough as he explained the entire
Northumberland Strait bridge. I applaud and congratulate him
for the restraint he has shown in the face of comments from
members opposite which have, quite frankly, been largely
irrelevant and very much off the topic.
I stand in my place today as a member of Parliament from
Ontario, from the riding of London-Middlesex, to speak in
favour of the motion. It is disappointing for me to hear members
opposite, particularly the member for Calgary West who spoke
earlier today, expressing very parochial views of regional
self-interest. This is not a time for the narrow, petty objections
we have heard so much today. It is a time to build this nation, not
to tear it down. This is not an issue of the west versus Prince
Edward Island or Atlantic Canada. This is a major project of
national significance. Certainly it is going to benefit the
province of Prince Edward Island and Atlantic Canada. If it
benefits that part of Canada then we all benefit and I am proud to
As Liberals we are the only truly national party in the House at
this time. Perhaps that is the reason there is a national
perspective from this side and a very regional and limited
perspective from the other side, be it from Bloc members or
from Reform members.
We have heard this silly argument that if we are prepared to
reopen the Constitution in this matter then indeed we have to be
ready to reopen the Constitution on any matter. To advance that
in this House as a serious argument is highly ridiculous. This is a
technical amendment to the Constitution. It was ordered by a
judge in order to make the project possible. It is a far different
situation from reopening the entire constitutional nightmare this
country went through over the past several years.
Frankly, my colleagues on the opposite side are making
irrelevant comments or certainly are groping to hang their own
particular hobby horse on this motion.
I would like to speak to the motion as it is before us. The
government has used a very open and transparent process to
build this bridge. There have been massive public consultations.
It has been one of the most democratic processes on a major
decision to be made that this country has undergone, yet we are
still hearing objections.
There is a partnership in place with the private sector to build
this particular project. The development company assumes the
majority of the financial risks. The whole of the Canadian public
will benefit from this particular project. The SCDI will own and
operate the bridge for some 35 years. It speaks very much to the
idea of partnership our government put forward in its red book
which was so heartily endorsed by the Canadian people.
The process has been very open. The theme is a partnership
with the private sector. Obviously there are myriad economic
benefits to be achieved by this project.
The Canadian people voted for a government which
recognized the need to create jobs in this country. That is what
the message was in October 1993. This project will create a
number of badly needed jobs. As was stated earlier by the
minister there will be 3,500 jobs over three and a half years in
the construction of the project. There will be another 2,000
spin-off jobs once the project is built with fully 96 per cent of
these new jobs to be filled by Atlantic Canadians.
I could be parochial and strictly take care of the needs of
southwestern Ontario or address them in my comments today. I
do not think that is my role as a member of Parliament. We have
heard too much of that petty approach to politics today in this
House, not on this side I might add but from members opposite,
We have to look at this as an important project to a part of our
country which badly needs an economic boost. I am going to
support it and I am pleased to see it will do so much for
The project will also show an increase in tourism of some 25
per cent. One can readily understand the spin-offs in jobs that
will create in the service sector as Canadians find it easier to get
to Prince Edward Island. I have had the opportunity to visit that
beautiful island as I hope have many other members and I intend
to go back. It will be a pleasure to cross on the bridge.
Concern has been expressed about the ferry workers and the
loss of their jobs. This is a worry for all of us. I am pleased that
the minister in tabling his statement has shown very clearly
there will be fair treatment for the ferry workers. They will have
the first choice for employment on the bridge project. There is a
fair severance package to be put in place for the displaced
workers. As we speak consultations are under way with the
unions to make sure this takes place.
We have heard some concerns raised about the environment.
One of the few relevant comments from the other side addressed
the issue of the environment. However it totally ignored the fact
that a comprehensive environmental review has taken place to
make sure this project is environmentally sound. In fact a
federal judge ruled that the government has taken great care in
meeting the criteria of the federal environmental review.
Frankly, there is no evidence whatsoever that there is any
serious environmental concern with this project. In fact the over
90 studies on the environmental aspect alone reached the
opposite conclusion, that the project is environmentally sound
and that it will have no significant impact on the environment.
Of course that would include fishermen in the area. It has been
acknowledged that fishermen in the area may lose an
opportunity during construction to fish certain waters.
Obviously they will. In recognition of this a $10 million
compensation fund is to be established by the developer to
compensate these very fishermen.
Again the environmental review has clearly shown that the
project is environmentally sound and there is to be
compensation for the fishermen in the area whose livelihood
will be affected.
We heard about the engineering and safety concerns of this
project. The bridge has been designed to the highest standards. It
has a life span of 100 years before needing a major retrofit. It has
been independently assessed by engineers and found to be very
As the member of Parliament for London-Middlesex, I want
to take a national view on this. I invite members from all sides of
the House, particularly those members opposite, to rise above
petty politics. Find some vision and courage and endorse this
project which is nationally important for this country. Let us
move forward to the 21st century with the vision that this is our
nation, all of it, from coast to coast to coast and that is the way
we have to look after it. Let us not try to set up one region against
It would be nice to hear the members opposite speak to the
motion with a little more national vision than what we have
heard so far.
Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Terrebonne): Mr. Speaker, I would
like to address some comments to my hon. colleague
opposite-he often refers to us as being opposite-and two
First of all, I found his preliminary remarks mean. He said: ``I
for one will say something interesting''. It is too bad for the
minister who, I feel, said interesting things, too bad for the
Leader of the Official Opposition and too bad for the other
speakers. It was indeed interesting. Congratulations.
I would also like to express disagreement with what he said
about the relevancy of our remarks, and I would like to remind
him of the Constitution Act, 1791, which established the
foundation for the system of parliamentary representation. The
people who elected Reform Party members, or you or us in the
Bloc Quebecois, know very well that the relevancy of the
remarks we have to make in this House depends only on our
opinion. On that point also I disagree with my hon. colleague.
I would like to put a question to him. One of his colleagues
spoke of a plebiscite in the case of Prince Edward Island,
whereas the minister spoke of a referendum. With regard to the
referendum, this is the term you used, and we used the term you
brought into the debate.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Order, please. I call the
hon. member for Terrebonne to order. I would simply remind all
members that they should refrain from directly addressing other
members of the House and that they should put their questions
and comments through the Chair.
Mr. Sauvageau: I apologize, Mr. Speaker.
My first question to the hon. member is this: Is it a plebiscite
or a referendum that was held in Prince Edward Island?
Is the hon. member's disappointment that great because we
support this proposal? Would he like it better if we opposed it?
He talks about petty politics and so on, and he seems deeply
disappointed. I get the impression he feels that way because we
support this proposal. I am right?
Mr. O'Brien: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to answer the
First of all, if I might correct his comment, what I said was
that as the minister did, I intended to speak to the motion and
that I would find that to be an interesting process. I thought this
House was all about the process of actually rising in our places
and speaking to what was on the floor, without getting into some
diatribe about some future referendum in Quebec which has
very little, if anything, to do with what we are supposed to be
speaking to here today. My earlier comments were that I would
try to speak to the motion.
As to the member's questions, I agree with him. I have heard
the term plebiscite used in reference to the vote in Prince
Edward Island and I have heard the term referendum. I am sure
he knows some people believe that to be an argument of
semantics, that the terms are interchangeable. There are others
who would say no, there is a very real difference between a
plebiscite and a referendum.
My colleagues and friends from Prince Edward Island most
often referred to the vote that was taken as a plebiscite. It was 60
to 40 in favour of this project in 1988. Frankly I think it is a
political science or semantics argument.
As to my disappointment that the member asked me about, no,
I was very pleased to hear the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal
Opposition rise in his place today saying he would support the
project. However, I heard Bloc members lecturing the minister
about anticipated objections from the Bloc. I was in the House
and heard the minister's statement. Not once did he make
reference to members of any particular political party and what
their views might be. He simply invited support from all
members of the House and he hoped that he would not hear
particular objections raised.
We are a little tired on this side of these gratuitous lectures
and irrelevant comments and that is the source of my
disappointment. However, I am very pleased the Bloc has seen
fit to support the motion. It would just be nice if those members
would speak to it.
Mr. Raymond Lavigne (Verdun-Saint-Paul): Mr.
Speaker, one of the extremely positive aspects of the bridge over
the Northumberland Strait is that it is one of the first and most
important capital projects on which the federal government and
the private sector will co-operate closely.
Ten years ago, examples of this kind of co-operation in public
works were extremely rare.
For the public and in practice, the distinction between public
sector and private sector projects was very clear. One presumed
that public works like roads, sewers, energy production were
carried out by governments and financed with tax revenues. This
perception has changed entirely over the last few years.
In all the industrialized world and at all levels of government,
we see private companies and consortiums take on
infrastructure work that was previously the preserve of the
Conditions can change, but the basic principle is that the
private sector makes the necessary financing arrangements and
assumes most of the risks in exchange for the right to acquire or
rent the facility and charge user fees.
It is quite clear that Canadians are also changing their opinion
on how we can modernize our infrastructure. According to a
recent study by the Canadian Construction Association, for
example, close to 58 per cent of Canadians agree that we should
ask users of freeways to pay for the construction of a network
which is financed by the private sector, instead of imposing a tax
on gas or special levies.
One of the main reasons for this changing attitude is the
alarming debt burden all levels of government are faced with as
well as the disgust more and more Canadians feel towards their
government, which keeps increasing taxes to finance costly
megaprojects. Yet we must renovate our infrastructure,
especially in the transportation, communication and energy
areas, if we want to remain competitive on the world market.
That is why the principle behind letting the private sector
finance and build much needed public facilities is becoming
more and more interesting.
Although Canadians generally support this principle, they do
have some legitimate concerns about joint participation of the
public and private sectors in infrastructure projects. The public
wants to be sure it will not be asked to bail out ill-conceived and
underfinanced projects. It wants to be sure that private
contractors will meet environmental standards. It wants to make
sure that the cost will not become prohibitive, once these
facilities are put in the hands of the private sector. It wants to
make sure that the decisions concerning co-operative projects
openly, in the best interests of the public and not only of the
Given these facts, the Northumberland Straight bridge project
is of particular interest at this time. During the development of
this project, public concerns were carefully considered. Thego-ahead was given only after a very open and public review.
The deal was signed only after financial soundness was
Virtually all the risks associated with the construction and
operation of the facility will be borne by the promoter. The fare
structure and the appropriate fees will be carefully regulated
through federal legislation. Our government is firmly
committed to supporting the renewal of this country's
infrastructure both in terms of job creation and in terms of
enhancing our long term efficiency and competitiveness.
The President of the Treasury Board, who is at the helm of our
infrastructure program, publicly invited the private sector to
take an active part in this initiative. With this new approach, I
think that we have every reason to regard the fixed link project
as an excellent model of joint venture implementation and
public interest protection. This project has undergone an
extremely stringent and comprehensive environmental
Allow me, Mr. Speaker, to add a few words to what the
minister said about how great the project is with regard to the
environment. Much has been written on this issue. For the best
part of the five years it took to develop the project,
environmental considerations have been the primary concern of
both the government and the promoter. Of course, this project
has been subjected to the most thorough environmental
assessment ever conducted on a project of this magnitude. In
fact, 90 analyses were carried out, as the minister pointed out
this morning, of the impact the bridge will have on the
environment. Ten thousand people from both sides of the strait
were consulted, and the discussions were very open and honest.
The people have had many opportunities to speak on the
requirements of the project during the 90 or so public hearings
that were held.
The project meets all the technical and environmental
Let me remind you, if I may, of the result of the last court
challenge: the Federal Court concluded that the government's
environmental assessment process had been much more
thorough than required.
I think that this project will be well received by the people for
whom it is so very important that we pay close attention not only
to the technical quality of construction but also to the protection
of the environment.
That is also why I am sure that this project will set new
standards in terms of public consultation and care for the
I am especially pleased to notice that even if construction has
already started, this crucial question will continue to be a central
concern for the promoter as well as for the federal and provincial
The contractor will have to follow a very strict environmental
management and protection plan. The project will be
continually monitored to ensure that it remains environment
I fully support this project not only because it is a good thing,
but also because it generates substantial economic activity as
well as much needed jobs and, more important, it is environment
Mr. Michel Guimond
(Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans): Mr. Speaker, the
House of Commons is being called on today to approve or reject
a government motion to amend the Constitution of Canada under
This section enables the House of Commons and a particular
province to amend the Constitution on various points which, in
my opinion, are very diversified and wide-ranging. It would
have been interesting if the Canadian government and the
provinces had found enabling procedures for Quebec when it
wanted to endorse the 1982 Constitution Act through the Meech
Lake Accord, in order to become an equal partner.
During this speech, if I may, I would like to go back to the
Constitution, because that is what we are dealing with here,
despite the fact that the Prime Minister does not want to talk
about it any more. I would now like to raise some issues relating
to Bill C-110, that passed third reading in September 1993.
Some Islanders have been worried about the fixed or mobile
link with Canada's mainland for many years, ever since Prince
Edward Island joined Confederation. Others prefer to keep the
island as it is and to lead quiet lives in the country of their
Our fellow citizens in Prince Edward Island wanted a link
with the mainland so badly that they decided a few years ago to
settle this issue in a plebiscite. This plebiscite, held in January
1988, showed that a majority favoured the establishment of a
fixed link between the Island and the mainland.
No one in the government or the Official Opposition is against
the will of the population. But let us not forget that this will is as
valid for the people of Prince Edward Island as it is for those
living on Vancouver Island, the Magdalen Islands and even
Newfoundland, if bridge technology allowed it.
Unfortunately, there are prerequisites to the implementation
and development of megaprojects. Allow me to point out five
prerequisites I regard as essential. First, the projects must be
carried out legally; second, we must have the necessary
financial resources; third, the environment must be protected;
fourth, this megaproject must benefit the population and help
to create jobs; finally, we must ensure that all Canadian citizens
can be treated the same way.
I would like to see if the conditions I just listed are met by this
As far as legality is concerned, as I was saying at the
beginning of my speech, part of the population, in a plebiscite,
authorized the Prince Edward Island provincial government to
go ahead with the project. But the other side, brought together in
the Friends of the Island Coalition, strongly objected to this
project for different reasons. First, the dangers for the lobster
and scallop fishery, migratory birds, the environment and the
We must not dismiss this group which opposes this project. It
applied to the Federal Court, which issued an order requiring the
Minister of Public Works to conduct an environmental
assessment pursuant to section 12 of the Order in Council in
relation to the developer's detailed construction plan, before
making any final decisions which may have irreversible
On April 22, 1993, the specific environmental assessment
prepared by Jacques Whitford Environment Consultants for
Strait Crossing Inc., at Ottawa's request, was presented.
Although this study shows that this project is not harmful to
the environment, as we agree, the Friends of the Island do not
accept the decision and have appealed. The Court of Appeal
upheld the lower court's decision, which apparently means that
the project is now legal, but we must raise questions about its
morality. The opponents will watch everything the developers
do as they carry out the project.
Now let us talk about the financial resources. A few weeks
ago, Canada's national debt passed the $500 billion mark, not
counting provincial and municipal debt. I will be very brief in
my financial evaluation. The federal government now pays
Marine Atlantic around $21 million a year for the cost of the
ferry service between Prince Edward Island and the mainland.
The ferry service is adequate and fits in with the local
environment very well.
Several years ago, the federal government announced that it
was considering building a fixed link under one main condition:
that the costs not exceed the price of the ferry service for the
same period. Yet, the federal government is about to give to the
private sector an annual subsidy of $42 million, in 1992 dollars,
for the construction and management of the bridge, over a
period of 35 years. This represents close to $1.47 billion, in
constant dollars, for the whole duration of the contract. From
that angle, no one can claim that the fixed link project is
self-financing. Can Canada afford to spend $21 million a year,
this on top of what it is already paying for the ferry service?
We are not opposed to the principle that Prince Edward Island
is entitled to a ferry service subsidized by all Canadian
taxpayers. In fact, this commitment greatly facilitated things
when PEI joined Confederation; it was an historic constitutional
We do not oppose the fact that the federal government
continues to fully respect this constitutional right, although I
must point out that this same government was not as generous in
the past when dealing with Quebec's historic constitutional
rights. Remember what Mr. Trudeau did in 1982. It is because of
episodes like this one that Quebec is irreversibly headed for
Moving on to environmental concerns, in spite of all the
studies conducted and the approval obtained from both the trial
and appellate divisions of the Federal Court, there is no question
that during construction and most likely afterward, the lobster
and scallop fisheries will be disrupted because of the underwater
movements resulting from the construction of a fixed link. The
proof is that plans have been made to set aside $10 million every
year to compensate the 240 fishermen affected by the
construction of the bridge. We are only talking here about the
construction phase. What will happen to the fishery once the
fixed link is in operation? Will the government have to continue
paying the $10 million in compensation? Are the fishermen
supposed to rely on unemployment insurance to get by? Will
they be joining the growing ranks of unemployed fishermen
throughout the Maritimes and Quebec?
I would now like to examine the issue of job creation and the
benefits to be derived from this megaproject by the residents of
Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. During the
construction phase, more than $1 billion will be invested and
normally, this should result in the creation of temporary jobs
and bring about some semblance of prosperity.
Initially, the project backer will have to bring in workers from
across North America. This is the case with of all megaprojects.
Since this is a pan-Canadian venture, we are counting on
Quebec construction workers to figure prominently in bridge
construction activities. Quebec workers-and there are many of
them in my riding of Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans-are
known for their skills and willingness to work on megaprojects.
Need we remind people that Quebecers worked on some of the
largest hydroelectric projects in North America, if not the entire
world. I am confident that initially, the unemployment rates in
both provinces affected will decline substantially. However, the
question we need to ask is this: Does the Government of Canada
and do the residents of Prince Edward Island and New
Brunswick want temporary jobs?
The municipal infrastructure program provides for the
creation of temporary jobs across Canada, including the two
provinces just mentioned, the aim being to get the economy
going again. However, we cannot continue to let people dream,
and then leave them to fend for themselves when the temporary
jobs end. Creating temporary jobs causes no great harm, but
eliminating permanent jobs is downright criminal.
Currently Marine Atlantic employs 420 persons on a
permanent basis. These jobs have been around since 1917. Upon
completion of the bridge over the Northumberland Strait, there
will be a net loss of 360 permanent jobs. The company will need
only 60 people to operate the bridge. Of course this does not
include all the jobs lost in the shipyards in the Maritimes and
Quebec, including MIL Davie in Lauzon, which builds and
repairs the ferries that connect Prince Edward Island with the
continent. What are we going to do with these 360 people?
Negotiate allowances? Invest in skills upgrading and relocation
allowances, if necessary? That is a problem we will have to
consider when we vote on this motion.
I mentioned the loss of 360 jobs, but I did not mention the
potential loss to the communities in Borden and Cape
Tormentine which will see a significant drop in economic
activity. A special development fund of up to $20 million will be
created to help them. However, $20 million can provide relief
only for a limited period of time. Then what will happen to these
people? And this amount adds to government spending.
A final criterion: fair treatment of all Canadians. As I see it,
we have a mandate to be fair to the people we represent.
Although the construction of this fixed link is financed partly by
the private sector, the Government of Canada is committed to
paying an annual contribution of $41.9 million in 1992 dollars,
indexed for a period of 35 years, which, as I mentioned before,
works out to a total of $1.47 billion.
This subsidy enabled Strait Crossing Finance Inc. to obtain
financing through a private bond issue worth $660 million. The
bonds have a triple-A rating, the best guarantee that can be
given to the banks. Furthermore, the government agrees not to
retain from the subsidy money owing from debtor companies in
the case of tax default, for instance, so that potential investors
enjoy the same guarantees they would have in the case of
Once again, I would like hon. members to remember when
they vote on this motion, that we were sent here by our
constituents to ensure all citizens are treated fairly. If other
provinces have a similar request, are we in a position to give
them the same treatment? We do not have to amend the
Constitution to have an ultra high speed train in the
Quebec-Windsor corridor. One could say the same about giving
the Magdalen Islands a new ferry from MIL Davie Shipyards in
Lévis. When these items are tabled in the House, we should be as
open-minded as we are today about the bridge between Prince
Edward Island and New Brunswick, and our decisions should
always be based on the five principles I just described.
I want to say that this House should always be very
circumspect when deciding how taxpayers' money will be spent.
I am convinced that partisan considerations are inappropriate
when discussing projects that will be part of our legacy to future
As the Official Leader of the Opposition said this morning,
the House of Commons should take into account the democratic
choices made by people in a plebiscite or a referendum.
In concluding, I would like to say the Bloc Quebecois is
always glad to talk about the Constitution.
Mr. Ronald J. Duhamel (Parliamentary Secretary to
Minister of Public Works and Government Services): Mr.
Speaker, I wanted to thank my colleague for his speech. I have
three questions to ask.
If I understood correctly, my colleague was saying that it was
a bad deal. Taking the $40 million or so which the ferries now
cost and using that amount to build a bridge over a 35-year
period and then not having any subsidy to pay afterward was a
bad deal. That is what I understood. Let him correct me if I
misunderstood; that is why I am asking the question.
He also talked about ``temporary jobs''. Of course, when you
build a bridge, work begins and then it is over. The jobs will not
continue once the project is complete. But is it not true that there
is still a possibility, a great possibility, I would add, of creating
jobs in tourism, increasing trade and so on? Did my colleague
forget to mention these jobs that no doubt will be created or does
he believe that no other jobs will be created because of this new
Finally, I find it interesting that my colleague, who in a way
attacked the project, also said, ``Let us be open-minded,
because when other projects come up, like one for the Magdalen
Islands or others that might benefit Quebec, we should be
generous''. Listen, I want to be generous with you, but I would
like you to be generous in this case too.
Mr. Guimond: Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the member
for St. Boniface that I noted the three points. In the first one, he
says that apparently I find it is a bad deal. I do not know if you
were here at the beginning of my speech.
Mr. Duhamel: I was here and I listened.
Mr. Guimond: You were? Great.
I said that I stand with my party; we are for the project, but
I simply said that when it comes to megaprojects, we must be
cautious and take some principles or prerequisites into account.
I referred to the questioning and the whole process that had
been followed before. I mentioned the environmental concerns
of Friends of the Earth and others.
In conclusion, I am not against the project; I do not say that it
is a bad deal. All I am saying is that we must be cautious about
investing 1.47 billion in 1992 dollars in a difficult period like
this. It is simply a message of caution that I was getting across. I
am not against the project and neither is my party nor was my
leader this morning.
About the temporary jobs, it is the same reasoning as for the
present infrastructure program. Once the street is paved or the
sidewalk is built, there is nothing more to do. The street will not
be repaved for years.
What I said is that once the bridge is built, only 60 permanent
jobs will be created to operate the bridge and the jobs of the 360
ferry workers will be lost. You mention tourism development on
Prince Edward Island and I agree with you that it-
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): I would just like to
remind the hon. member and all our colleagues in the House to
avoid addressing one another directly and to go through the
Mr. Guimond: Mr. Speaker, I was in full oratorical flight,
since I am a passionate man, but you are right to call me to order.
Yes, we agree that tourism will develop on Prince Edward
Island as a result. The question is, given that it is an island, is the
tourism structure limited by geography? I agree with the hon.
member that there will be development, no argument on that
point, but I was talking about the temporary jobs building the
As for open-mindedness, I am sure that my colleague
understood what I meant. When the time comes to discuss in this
House or in committee the need for a high speed train between
Quebec City and Windsor and to give the MIL Davie shipyard
the contract to the Magdalen Island ferry, which will maintain
10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Quebec City region-we
are talking about maintaining jobs. It is important to create jobs,
but it is also important to maintain them. The Official
Opposition has shown that it is not narrow minded. It has shown
openness and I am sure that hon. members opposite will show
the same openness when the time comes to discuss the two
issues that I mentioned, the high speed train and the ferry.
Mr. Ronald J. Duhamel (Parliamentary Secretary to
Minister of Public Works and Government Services): Just a
point of clarification, Mr. Speaker. I think that you can count on
the Liberal Party to be very open minded. Open mindedness has
always characterized our party and I believe it will still be the
case in the future.
If I am not mistaken, my colleague said he was in favour of the
project, and so is his party, but he also pointed out that Friends
of the Island had some concerns about possible environmental
Does my colleague think that these concerns are so
serious-of course we will be careful but just the same-as to
warrant stopping the project? Has enough been done so far, with
90 analyses and the 80-odd meetings? Is there enough evidence
to allow us to proceed with the project with some assurance that
it will go well, that it is not too risky?
Mr. Guimond: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no, the project
must not be stopped, it must go forward. I think that our stand is
clear on that. On the other hand, if the project has no impact on
local lobster and scallop fishermen, why did the government
feel the need to compensate them? This would mean that
compensation is paid for nothing.
I am not saying that the concerns of the group were futile, just
this: even if its action was dismissed by the courts, the group
will have to keep a watchful eye on things to make sure that the
project will be as environment friendly in reality as studies
claimed it will be. That is the point I was making about the
The Speaker: Order. It being two o'clock p.m., pursuant to
Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to statements
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
Mr. Larry McCormick (Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox
Mr. Speaker, this morning the recipients of the
Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence in Science,
Technology and Mathematics were honoured. The 17 recipients,
coming from all parts of Canada, are all exceptional teachers.
They have formulated and put into practice innovative teaching
In my riding, Mr. Richard Hopkins, a teacher at Napanee
District Secondary School, is cited for creating an applied
science and technology program which responds to local
community needs. The students gain invaluable practical
experience. There can be no greater testimony to Mr. Hopkins'
ability than the fact that it was his students who nominated him
for the award.
I note that the award winners are presently in Ottawa. I ask the
House to join me today in congratulating all 17 worthy
recipients of this national award.
* * *
Mr. Jean H. Leroux (Shefford):
Mr. Speaker, in yesterday's
, one could read ``Anglo-Catholics
demoralized by Bloc victory''. On behalf of my party, the Bloc
Quebecois, I would like to reassure my fellow anglo-Quebecers.
We have been elected by the people of Quebec to promote and
prepare the sovereignty of Quebec. Perhaps now is the right time
for the English speaking of Quebec to join us, to get more
involved in the preparation of Quebec's future.
Let us look forward together. Doing this would make the
process of change easier for us and the rest of Canada, hopefully
side by side in harmony as partners in a new deal.
* * *
Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West):
Mr. Speaker, many
people in the riding of Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville
have expressed the desire to initiate recall proceedings to
replace their elected member of Parliament.
The majority of people in my riding of Fraser Valley West
want recall legislation to ensure that I and those who follow in
my footsteps are held accountable.
My colleague from Beaver River, Alberta, has twice
submitted a recall bill because neither the Liberal nor the
Conservative governments want to be held accountable to those
who elect them.
It is time that the 295 people in this House acknowledge the
wishes of the vast numbers we represent and provide them with
the rights they deserve and the accountability we require.
Let us all together acknowledge the need to represent
Canadians to the best of our ability and the right of Canadians to
recall us if we do not. Let us all commit to recall.
* * *
Ms. Paddy Torsney (Burlington):
Mr. Speaker, two
exemplary teachers from the Halton Board of Education were
honoured with the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching
Excellence in Science, Technology and Mathematics.
I extend my congratulations to Mr. Robert Loree and Mr.
The qualification for winning this award is that a teacher must
have shown a major impact on student performance and interest
in science, technology and mathematics. Mr. Loree developed
the Science Can! Foundation. Over 10,000 students in three
provinces have participated in this highly successful
organization. Mr. Keith Clark led teachers in developing the
grade nine destreamed science curriculum.
Encouraging the interest and participation of students in the
fields of mathematics, science and technology is critical to
ensuring that Canada will be able to continue to compete in the
I am certain that the hon. member for Oakville-Milton, the
hon. member for Halton-Peel and the rest of the Government
of Canada members join me in congratulating Robert Loree and
Keith Clark and the rest of the recipients of this terrific award.
* * *
Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre):
Mr. Speaker, as a
member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, I
would like to bring to the attention of the House that last week
the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced
the nominations for this year's Academy Awards ceremony to be
held in Los Angeles on March 21.
Once again the excellence of Canadian film making was
recognized with the nomination of two highly regarded projects.
The first, ``The Mighty River'', directed by Frédéric Back and
produced by Hubert Tison at the Société Radio-Canada, was
nominated as Best Animated Short Film.
The second, ``The Broadcast Tapes of Doctor Peter'',
produced by David Papernay and Arthur Ginsberg at the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Vancouver, was
nominated as Best Feature-Length Documentary Film.
I would like to congratulate our nominees and recognize the
quality and dedication of our public broadcasters. They deserve
our continued support.
* * *
Mrs. Anna Terrana (Vancouver East):
Mr. Speaker, this
week in British Columbia we celebrate multicultural week.
Multicultural week started in 1984 to celebrate our cultures and
traditions. In British Columbia, where multiculturalism has
played such an important role, all people come together to share
and understand each other. Cross-cultural education has
destroyed many barriers and is helping in the fight against
racism. Multiculturalism teaches us about people and helps us
all understand and appreciate each other.
Lectures, meetings and cross-cultural events will take place
during the week, giving all people a chance to dismiss our biases
and myths and to immerse in a wonderful world of differences
Multiculturalism applies to all of us. We all have a culture, we
all have ethnicity. Let us all celebrate in the spirit of
understanding that permeates this week-long event and that will
unite all people in British Columbia.
Happy multicultural week to our British Columbians and a
vote of thanks to all those who have spent hours of volunteer
work to promote and keep all cultures of Canada alive.
* * *
Mr. Roger Pomerleau (Anjou-Rivière-des-Prairies):
Speaker, I wish to bring to the attention of this House that His
Lordship Willy Romélus, Bishop of Jérémie, in Haiti, was
recently recommended for a Nobel Peace Prize nomination by
Professor Roberto Miguelez, of the University of Ottawa, and
that since that time, many organizations have also supported his
It is worth recalling that for several years already and at the
risk of his life, on which attempts have been made many times,
Bishop Romélus has been leading the fight for the liberation of
the Haitian people. As early as February 1984, Bishop Romélus
was calling for internationally supervised elections in that
country and on February 22, 1993, he received the Governor
General of Canada Medal.
In view of that, Bloc Quebecois members have decided to
support his nomination and are hoping that many other members
* * *
Mrs. Jan Brown (Calgary Southeast):
Mr. Speaker, I rise in
the House today to recognize an outstanding Canadian athlete,
one who lives in my riding of Calgary Southeast. Michelle
Morton is a speed skater competing in Lillehammer this week as
part of our Canadian Olympic team.
Michelle embodies the spirit of what we are all about as
Canadians. Great hopes coupled with hard work have achieved
results which for her were not completely expected. Michelle
has recurring attacks of asthma and it is her focus and
determination that now place her as a powerful member on the
Her persistence as a competent athlete at both the provincial
and national levels demonstrates that obstacles can be overcome
in the pursuit of a dream and we are proud of that achievement.
On behalf of all of the residents of Calgary Southeast I send
our encouragement, admiration and affection.
Go get them, Michelle.
* * *
Mr. Martin Cauchon (Outremont):
Mr. Speaker, on Friday,
February 11, I had the honour of representing the government in
my riding of Outremont at a ceremony where 97 students from
the University of Montreal received awards from the Canada
Scholarships Program. These scholarships are awarded to
students who excel in science and engineering. During this
ceremony I was able to witness the attachment of many of them
not only to their province, but also to Canada. After the
ceremony, one of the students asked me why the scholarships
were taxable. They felt the government was giving with one
hand and taking back with the other.
I draw the attention of the ministers responsible to that,
because these hard-working students are the bearers of the
values of excellence we seek to promote. They will be the
leaders of tomorrow, and we should give them all the help we
can give. Canada Scholarships are certainly a good program but
if we do not tax lottery prizes, should we tax scholarships?
* * *
Mr. Tony Valeri (Lincoln):
Mr. Speaker, a key issue in the
Liberal campaign platform is getting Canadians back to work.
One way this will occur is by strenghthening and assisting the
small and medium-size business sectors.
We all know of small businesses that have had difficulty
obtaining proper financing. The Canadian Federation of
Independent Business makes the point that equity markets are
biased toward large firms. The only way to relieve the equity
problem of small firms is to create incentives for Canadians to
invest their savings in private businesses to create wealth and
jobs in local communities across the country.
With so many Canadians facing retraining, the government
must begin to acknowledge that informal training provided by
small and medium-sized businesses is a critical dimension to
the retraining taking place. The government must develop
training initiatives which support small businesses involved in
retraining in the informal setting.
Our public funding of skills development should focus on
literacy and generic skills. Maximum autonomy should be
placed at the local community level to determine training needs
If any of these recommendations are adopted it would help
spur a recovery in the small and medium-sized business sectors
and assist in the recovery of the Canadian economy. This is,
after all, what Canadians have asked for.
* * *
Mr. Jesse Flis (Parkdale-High Park):
Mr. Speaker, in a
world rife with conflict it is easy to overlook the fact that the
Olympic games were created for the purpose of gathering
nations together under a banner of peace. The five rings of the
Olympic flag symbolize the joining of all five continents in the
spirit of athletic competition.
Despite the bitter war in former Yugoslavia, hope for peace in
Europe now rests in Lillehammer, Norway.
I am therefore very proud of one of my constituents from
Parkdale-High Park who is representing Canada at the 17th
Olympic Winter Games. Kennedy Ryan will compete in
free-style skiing in which she will join young athletes from
around the world.
Let us not overlook the spirit of the games. I congratulate the
Ryan family and friends who are just as proud as I am of all of
our Canadian Olympic athletes.
* * *
Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa):
Mr. Speaker, as you know, I
am a Quebecer born in Chile, a country I love with all my heart,
and which lived under a long military dictatorship until 1989,
when Patricio Aylwin was democratically elected president.
His mandate will end on March 11 when he will be replaced by
Eduardo Frei, who was elected last December.
Every nation in the world has been invited to send a
delegation to the ceremonies marking this handing over of
office. More than 20 heads of state have already confirmed that
they will attend this major event.
Chile is particularly important for Quebec and Canada.
It is therefore desirable for Canada to send a ministerial
delegation to represent our country on March 11. I strongly urge
the government to do so.
* * *
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver):
Mr. Speaker, I am
disturbed to note that the Canadian dollar dropped by more than
half a cent yesterday, continuing a rapid decline which started
after the last election.
Since the end of October 1993 the dollar has lost more than
two and a half cents, raising the cost of imports and increasing
the risk of rapidly escalating interest rates in the near future.
The Minister of Finance has not publicly set a target level for
either the dollar or interest rate levels. I urge him to do so as
soon as possible so that Canadian businesses and citizens can
make plans for future spending.
The minister must be aware that upward pressure on the cost
of living will result from the decline of the dollar. I hope that he
is not trying to inflate his way out of an impending debt crisis
rather than take positive action to reduce government spending.
The message from the people of Canada is clear. Cut out entire
segments of government and grants to special interest groups
rather than raise taxes or permit a major decline in the Canadian
* * *
Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Bruce-Grey):
Mr. Speaker, I rise to
bring to the attention of the House and to give our
congratulations to the 17 national level winners of the Prime
Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence in Science,
Technology and Mathematics.
I would especially like to mention Mr. Douglas H.
Cunningham of Bruce Peninsula District High School in Lion's
Head, a village in my riding of Bruce-Grey. He is a recipient of
the award at the local level.
Mr. Cunningham is an example of excellence and enthusiasm
in instilling in our youth those skills critical to the future of a
I know that the Bruce Peninsula District High School in
Lion's Head is known for the outstanding students it produces,
especially in the field of science. The people of Bruce-Grey
riding salute Mr. Cunningham for his outstanding contribution.
I know that members of this House will join with me in
recognizing and congratulating, on behalf of all Canadians, all
the winners of this well deserved award.
* * *
Ms. Albina Guarnieri (Mississauga East):
Mr. Speaker, a
great sense of pride filled the heart of all Canadians, on the day
before yesterday, when Edi Podivinsky won the bronze medal in
men's downhill skiing in Kvitfjell, Norway.
Edi is only the second Canadian to win an Olympic men's
skiing medal. His achievement is matched only by Steve
Podborski's result in the men's downhill at the 1980 Lake Placid
Winter Olympics. To achieve excellence in his event Edi
Podivinsky had to overcome the pain of injury and adversity. He
is an athlete with the determination to meet every challenge.
Sport is at the heart of the Canadian identity. It gives
Canadians a sense of pride, mutual respect and confidence in our
ability to succeed.
In the spirit of our rich sporting heritage the Canadian
government is proud to be a partner in building sport for the
future and in supporting the development of our heroes such as
On behalf of all members I would like to congratulate Edi
Podivinsky for his remarkable achievement.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition):
Speaker, last night on Le Point
, Radio-Canada broadcast a
report from a smuggler which confirms there are close ties
between the warriors and organized crime in Montreal.
In another article published today by journalist Michel Vastel,
we read that last autumn, the RCMP cancelled two police
operations that were to take place on a Mohawk reserve near
Could the Solicitor General or the Prime Minister inform the
House whether they obtained answers from the RCMP to the
questions I asked yesterday about warriors involvement in
certain criminal activities of organized crime in Montreal?
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, I
discussed the matter with the Commissioner of the RCMP this
morning. He informed me that the RCMP enforces the law
throughout the country and that it had no knowledge of a drug
warehouse on an aboriginal reserve in the Montreal area.
I may add that we must take very seriously the information I
was given by the RCMP commissioner, who is one of the world's
leading police officials.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition): Mr.
Speaker, with all due respect for the work of the RCMP, one
nevertheless wonders how the RCMP could be expected to know
what is happening down there if it does not go there.
I also wonder how we can reconcile the minister's answer
with what was said by the person who appeared on television last
night and claimed to have been an eye witness to the facts I just
The Prime Minister says: Name names. Who, who? Well I can
name Minister Claude Ryan of the Quebec government who, for
many years, was responsible for the Sûreté du Québec and who
said yesterday he had known for years that organized crime and
the warriors were working together. Perhaps the RCMP should
talk to the Sûreté du Québec or the Solicitor General could talk
to his Quebec counterparts.
Once again, my question to the Solicitor General is this:
Could he tell the House who in the federal government, at the
political level or otherwise, ordered the cancellation of a major
police operation planned last December by the RCMP and the
Drug Enforcement Agency on reserve territory? Who cancelled
the operation? There was a government here last December.
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker,
of course I cannot comment on the RCMP's operations. Does the
Leader of the Bloc Quebecois want to jeopardize the outcome of
these investigations with his questions? I wonder why he is
asking me these questions today.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition): The
Leader of the Opposition is merely transmitting questions that
are being asked all over Canada, questions that are reflected on
television and in reports in the newspapers. It is a very
legitimate question. We have a right to know. Canadian and
Quebec voters have a right to know whether the law is being
observed and whether there are in this country certain ``no go''
zones for law enforcement. And the Solicitor General has a duty
to answer these questions.
Which reminds me, I have another question which is even
more specific: Could he confirm the allegations published in
today's newspapers that the chief of the squad in charge of
anti-drug operations at the RCMP prevented his officers from
going on reserve territory to pursue surveillance operations and
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, I
can assure the Leader of the Bloc populaire, excuse me, the Bloc
Quebecois-it is not very popular right now-
Some hon. members: Very popular!
Mr. Gray: Thus, I can assure the leader of the Bloc Quebecois
that there are no ``no go'' zones in this country, including
aboriginal reserves. I cannot confirm the allegations made in the
article by Mr. Vastel which appeared today, but I repeat that the
government intends to ensure that people obey the law across
this country. And I hope I can count on the Leader of the
Opposition to fully support our policy in this respect.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval): Mr. Speaker, given the
statements made yesterday by the former Quebec Minister of
Public Security, it is clear that the only person in Canada not to
know that the RCMP and the Sûreté will not take action on
Mohawk land is the Solicitor General of Canada.
Both he and the Prime Minister told us during the course of a
debate that the situation was extremely delicate and that caution
had to be exercised. Why does he maintain that the RCMP can
take action on Mohawk land without any problem whatsoever,
considering that even the Prime Minister stressed the delicate
nature of the situation several days ago?
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, I
want to say again that under this government there are no no-go
I do not know what the situation was when the Leader of the
Opposition was in the Conservative cabinet. He may want to tell
us himself, but I can say there are no no-go zones right now. It is
the intention of this government to have the law enforced
everywhere in the country. Just because we do not see mounted
police on television does not mean they are not at work on the
reserves or anywhere in Canada where there is work to be done
to enforce the law.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval): Mr. Speaker, since RCMP
authorities have confirmed that in addition to cigarettes,
smuggling networks deal in luxury items such as clothing,
jewellery and alcohol, how can the Solicitor General expect us
to believe that these networks would not be used to deal in the
most lucrative item of all, namely cocaine?
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker,
the opposition House leader must have been in a dream world
the last week or so. If he had not been, he would have heard the
leader of our party, the Prime Minister, and myself saying that
the reason we have to act immediately after years of neglect,
including the period when the Leader of the Opposition was in
the Conservative cabinet, was that there were smuggling
networks involved not only with tobacco but with alcohol, drugs
and high powered military weapons.
We said that right in this House. That is why we have
enhanced enforcement efforts all over the country. Rather than
this type of approach by the Official Opposition, I would think it
would express support for the efforts we are taking which go far
beyond what was the case when the Leader of the Opposition
was on this side of the House as a member of the Conservative
* * *
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest):
my question is for the Prime Minister.
As new members we have now sat through numerous
government briefings in which we have been presented with
departmental and program mission statements, mandate
statements and statements of objective. We notice that very few
of these statements contain any reference to the serious financial
position of the government or the interests of taxpayers.
Would the Prime Minister, this week, direct all departmental
program and agency heads to revise their mission statements to
include deficit reduction and maximizing benefits to taxpayers
as explicit goals of every department, program and agency of the
Government of Canada?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, if
I were to do it this week I would be late. I did it the first day I
formed the government.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice): I will ask the ministers to
make sure they run a lean, effective government and to make
sure taxpayers are getting service for the tax dollars they pay.
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest): Mr. Speaker, I
have a supplementary question for the Prime Minister.
As the Prime Minister knows, over 70 per cent of the net
expenditures of the government are statutory expenditures and
not voted on annually by the House.
Would the Prime Minister consent to bring the review of
statutory spending within the purview of the House and its
committees on an annual basis?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker,
the hon. leader of the Reform Party will know that there will be
budget bills in front of the House and that he will be able to
present amendments. If he wants to reduce old age pensions of
course we will vote against it.
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest): Mr. Speaker, I
have a further supplementary question. Perhaps we will get
further this time.
The Auditor General points out that federal revenues from
user fees, from government facilities, services and goods exceed
$3 billion annually but that these fees are not subject to
regulatory review or parliamentary scrutiny.
Would the Prime Minister direct the Treasury Board to
provide Parliament with a government-wide summary of user
fees being charged, the revenues raised and the authorities under
which they are established?
Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton (President of the Treasury Board
and Minister responsible for Infrastructure): Mr. Speaker,
revenue information is provided in various levels of detail both
in the public accounts which have now been filed with the House
as well as in part III of the estimates.
We certainly want to be in a position to provide whatever
information we can to be helpful to parliamentarians. We are
reviewing the whole matter with respect to what improvements
could be made in presentation and disclosure in that connection
and to determine the appropriate information that would be
helpful to members.
I will be writing to parliamentary committees to seek their
advice on what types of information with respect to user fees
they would find useful in their deliberations.
* * *
Mrs. Pierrette Venne (Saint-Hubert):
Mr. Speaker, in 1991,
the Conservative government introduced Bill C-261 on
euthanasia and cessation of treatment, which was later dropped
from the Order Paper. A private member's motion on the subject
was debated in March 1993, and the House rejected this motion.
Instead of having a debate of no consequence on the issue,
will the government table a bill to decriminalize, under certain
circumstances and conditions, the act of assisting the terminally
ill to put an end to their suffering?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney
General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, the government intends to
provide through Parliament a forum for informed discussion of
the important and complex issues this subject raises.
At a time that we will announce and by means that we will
develop through discussion in caucus and cabinet, we will
furnish to the House an opportunity to explore the public policy
questions that arise, and likely in a free vote an opportunity will
be afforded for each member of Parliament to express her or his
view on these questions. The matter will come forward to this
House in an informed way so that the issues around this terribly
difficult but important subject can be addressed.
In closing may I remind my hon. friend that the vote last year
on the private member's bill was taken in the shadow of the
judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Rodriguez
case. Many members felt it was best to await the outcome of the
court's determination before having Parliament act. We now
have the judgment in that case. We know that the judges feel it is
our responsibility and we intend to discharge it.
Mrs. Pierrette Venne (Saint-Hubert): Mr. Speaker, does the
minister not recognize that it is pointless to hold yet another
debate if it does not result in legislation, especially since the
Supreme Court has concluded that Parliament must settle the
issue one way or another, not just talk about it?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney
General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member
that we will find a way to put the question before the House so it
is not academic. It will be meaningful. If it involves a proposal
for change in legislation with a free vote then that is exactly
what we will do.
* * *
Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of National Defence.
In 1983 four household moving van lines were convicted of
price fixing and are now under a prohibition order, of which I
have a copy. Yet only these four van lines can bid on the
department's moving business, from which 900 other moving
companies are effectively excluded.
Can the minister provide a statement of whether its present
government tendering practice is contrary to the letter or the
spirit of the prohibition order or in fact may be illegal?
Hon. David Michael Collenette (Minister of National
Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Mr. Speaker,
certainly I have no knowledge of any action the department is
involved in that is illegal. I am sure it is not the case.
I answered a similar question from my colleague from
Waterloo a few weeks ago. The matter is being looked into and I
will get back to the House at the earliest opportunity. At the
moment it is somewhat premature to comment any further.
Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River): Mr. Speaker, a
supplementary question for the minister. I am still waiting for
the answer to a question from two weeks ago. In the meantime
the government tender closed on February 12 for this year's
Can the minister assure us that these tender bids will be open
to public scrutiny when they are opened?
Hon. David Michael Collenette (Minister of National
Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Mr. Speaker,
under the arrangement we have with the company involved, any
changes to the regime have to be made by July of the previous
year. The former government did not make that change. We have
until July 31 of this year to address the situation. I assure the
hon. member we will address it.
* * *
Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Health. The inquiry on the tainted
blood scandal started its hearings yesterday in Toronto. We
found out that the victims only had until March 15 to accept a
compensation settlement and to abandon any legal claims. The
victims who do not sign this agreement would not receive any
Does the minister recognize that this is shameless blackmail,
a real holdup unworthy of a civilized society?
Hon. Diane Marleau (Minister of Health): I should explain,
Mr. Speaker, that the March 15 deadline was set by the provinces
for a provincial program that was accepted by the provinces and
not for a federal program.
Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond): Mr. Speaker, will the
minister make a commitment, in the name of compassion and
decency, to pay interim compensation without asking the
victims to abandon any legal claims?
Hon. Diane Marleau (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker,
Justice Krever was commissioned to review the safety of the
Canadian blood system and to make recommendations on how it
can be made even safer. I fully support the inquiry and will do
everything to ensure its success.
In reply to the hon. member's question, I say again that the
March 15 date is part of a provincial program to help the victims
of tainted blood. Perhaps she could direct her questions to
another level of government.
* * *
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat):
Mr. Speaker, recently
on the TV program ``Venture'' it was revealed that the type of
training unemployed Canadians are getting through human
resources development not only does not help but may actually
hurt their chances of getting a job.
My question is for the Minister of Human Resources
Development. Will the minister table the human resources
development document that was quoted in the ``Venture''
program and call for an immediate free debate on the future of
job training in Canada?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources
Development and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification): Mr. Speaker, I am not sure where the hon.
member has been but a week or so ago the House had three days
of debate on the whole issue of employment, training and social
I would suggest he start reading his news clippings and
Hansard so he can be up to date on what Parliament is doing
before he asks a question.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat): Mr. Speaker, I am sure
the Canadian people will appreciate that answer.
By the time the review of social programs is complete the
government will have spent over $1.5 billion on what, according
to the minister's department, is useless training. So as not to
waste the time of the unemployed or taxpayers' money, will the
minister tell us what steps he is taking to ensure this problem is
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources
Development and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification): Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to report to the
House that yesterday we had a meeting of all the provincial
ministers of employment, labour market training and social
services, as well as those from the territories. We discussed a
number of issues.
One of the things we agreed on was that we take immediate
steps to end duplication of services, to look at where there are
cost overruns, where we can begin to rationalize programs like
training in order to save money and get better delivery of
The hon. member should be very happy we have now been
able to achieve full scale co-operation of all the provinces,
territories and the federal government toward the objective of
achieving better training and employment for all Canadians.
* * *
Mr. Pierre de Savoye (Portneuf):
Mr. Speaker, my question
is for the Minister of Health. As soon as the inquiry on the
tainted blood scandal opened yesterday in Toronto, Justice
Krever asked that the mandate of this inquiry be extended by one
year, given the complexity of this case.
Does the minister share the opinion expressed by Justice
Krever and, as a result, will she extend the mandate of the
inquiry so that it can shed light on the whole complex issue?
Hon. Diane Marleau (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, as I
said earlier, I am quite concerned about this. We must reassure
Canadians that their blood bank is safe. Yes, Justice Krever
asked for a little more time and we will consider his request, but
we are also anxious to see his report. So we will try to give him
the answers he wants in order to get the results that Canadians
Mr. Pierre de Savoye (Portneuf): Mr. Speaker, I am sure the
minister is aware that rushing the testimony would reduce the
extent of this inquiry. As a result, and for the sake of
consistency, does the minister not agree that the Canadian
Hemophilia Society and the commission should be given the
money they need to clear up this whole scandal?
Hon. Diane Marleau (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, it is
a tragedy our blood system was contaminated as it was in the
early eighties. It is essential we understand why it happened and
make sure it never happens again.
A budget was set by a previous government. It allows the
beginning of the inquiry. I know that cabinet will give
consideration to the request for further funding.
* * *
Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the minister of energy and natural resources.
As she knows carbon dioxide is a primary cause of climate
change and poses a threat as a greenhouse gas.
In view of the fact that there is a firm commitment to reduce
carbon dioxide levels by 20 per cent by the year 2005, can the
minister indicate to the House when she will be in a position to
announce a federal-provincial plan for reducing carbon dioxide
emissions by 20 per cent?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Natural Resources): Mr.
Speaker, let me thank my colleague, the hon. member for
Davenport, for his question on an issue of international concern.
Generally the approach of the government is one of
consultation, co-operation and partnership. This is going to be a
multi-stakeholder process or strategy that we put in place
involving all levels of government, the private sector and
As the hon. member may be aware, at a historic first meeting
in November 1993 federal and provincial ministers of energy
and the environment charged their officials with the task of
developing a strategy and recommendations to stabilize
greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000 and to
consider sustainable options for reductions of greenhouse
emissions by the year 2005.
It is my expectation that the joint committee will report in
November 1994. I am sure at that point the government will be
developing further working plans in relation to our
* * *
Mr. Herb Grubel (Capilano-Howe Sound):
my question is for the Minister of Finance.
The minister stated in the House that in the next budget he will
reduce the tax allowance for business meals for the sake of
greater equity. The best estimates are that this change in the tax
code endangers 24,000 jobs in the restaurant industry.
Would the minister please explain to the people of Canada and
to the workers in this industry how the likely effects of his
proposed tax measures are consistent with his party's campaign
slogan jobs, jobs, jobs?
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International
Financial Institutions)): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's
quotation is from a different government.
I would like to confirm that the Minister of Finance made a
statement in the House last Friday saying that a budget would be
coming down on Tuesday. Such measures as those tax changes
that he mentioned will be in the budget, if indeed that is one of
Mr. Herb Grubel (Capilano-Howe Sound): Mr. Speaker, I
refer to a statement made right here that this would be something
that the minister would do in the budget.
I have a supplementary question. Could the minister please
inform the House on the number of manyears of work that will
be created by the very capital intensive infrastructure program
and how many manyears-
The Speaker: Order. I wonder if the hon. member might put
his question in a little more general terms. We are getting into
Mr. Grubel: Mr. Speaker, I will try to be politically correct.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
The Speaker: I do not know that it is so much a matter of
being politically correct, it is so that we can understand the
Mr. Grubel: I wonder whether the minister could tell the
House the number of man years and woman years of work that
will be created by the very capital intensive infrastructure
program and how many man years and woman years of work will
be lost by the lower spending in the very labour intensive
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International
Financial Institutions)): Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier the
details of the budget will be given on February 22.
The tax changes the hon. member mentions have not been
stated in this House. If there are such changes they will be stated
in the budget itself and at that time the answer will be obvious.
* * *
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.
In today's newspaper coverage of the meeting of human
resources ministers, we learned that the federal government,
through its reform of social programs, intends to play a major
role in social assistance and deal directly with Canadians,
thereby violating provincial jurisdiction in that field.
Will the minister dare to confirm that he is considering
abolishing transfers to provinces regarding social assistance and
launch a direct payment program for Quebecers and Canadians?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources
Development and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification): Mr. Speaker, what I can confirm is that
yesterday we had a very co-operative, collaborative discussion
with all the ministers from the provinces. We agreed to
undertake a major review and re-examination of a number of
programs that affect Canadians. That was a clear demonstration
of how federalism works well when you make it work well and
when you want to make it work well.
We look forward to working together at both levels of
government to ensure that Canada's social programs effectively
meet the needs of all Canadians.
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier): Mr. Speaker, very cordial
agreements were also reached at Meech Lake and in
Charlottetown between the ministers representing the two levels
of government. How can the minister explain that his
government, which was elected on the platform of no more
references to the constitution, is so blatantly violating
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources
Development and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification): Mr. Speaker, coming from a member who
voted against the Charlottetown agreement it is no wonder she
uses that as the model. We intend to do things very differently.
We intend to work in a co-operative way with all Canadians
both through the federal and provincial governments. I say to the
hon. member that this is not a matter of fighting over turf. This is
not a matter of battling over jurisdiction. This is really a matter
of how we can co-operate to get the best use of very scarce
resources for the benefit of all Canadians.
That is our objective. I am glad to say it was one that was
shared by all the provincial ministers at that meeting.
* * *
Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville):
my question is for the Minister of Finance.
On January 1 the government imposed a 7 per cent payroll tax
on all workers and employers in Canada in the form of an
increase in unemployment insurance premiums, which all
economists agree will kill jobs.
How is this tax increase consistent with the government's job
creation objectives described in the red book?
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International
Financial Institutions)): Mr. Speaker, the unemployment
insurance premium increase that came into effect in January was
a minimum amount. At the same time it was announced by the
minister that the premiums would be held at a flat level because
of the job creation commitment this government has.
Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville): Mr. Speaker, if
increasing UI premiums kills jobs, then it follows that reducing
UI premiums would create jobs.
When does the minister expect to announce a reduction in UI
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources
Development and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification): Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of
Finance with whom I have had many interesting and
co-operative discussions on this matter, if the hon. member
could curb his patience the Minister of Finance will present one
of the most important and significant long term documents this
House has seen in a long time next Tuesday.
* * *
Mr. Reg Alcock (Winnipeg South):
Mr. Speaker, I have a
question for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
Like many other members I have had an opportunity to meet
with refugees from the former Yugoslavia. These people are in
terrible shape. They have family members scattered all across
the former Yugoslavia or in the surrounding countries.
Can the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration tell us what
impact the changes he announced recently will have on refugees
in general, but in particular refugees from the former
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his
question and interest in this area.
In addition to our peacekeeping role which is well known to
all in this Chamber, Canada has attempted to do its best through
immigration and refugee policies to try to alleviate the suffering
in that area.
In 1992 the previous government extended a special program
whereby individuals from the former republic of Yugoslavia in
Canada on visitors visas would be allowed to reunify with their
families. We have agreed to extend that program until July of
this year. Some 3,000 individuals have taken advantage of that
measure. In addition, we have also permitted on a similar family
reunification basis for individuals in the former republic of
Yugoslavia to apply from there and some 8,500 people have
taken advantage of that program.
Also, in the levels that we have announced, 7,300 will be
government sponsored refugees. Of that we have increased the
number from the former republic of Yugoslavia to 2,400. We
have also provided a reserve of 400 that we would not for one
moment be shy to use if conditions worsen in that part of the
We have every hope that sanity will prevail very quickly.
* * *
Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot):
in recent days, we witnessed the unfortunate breakdown of trade
negotiations between the United States and Japan. If the verbal
escalation degenerates into a real trade war between those two
countries, Quebec and Canada will likely be adversely affected.
My question is directed to the Minister for International
Trade. Is the minister not concerned by the adverse effect this
conflict could have for Quebec and Canada?
Hon. Roy MacLaren (Minister for International Trade):
Mr. Speaker, throughout the period of negotiation between the
United States and Japan we have made consistent and frequent
interventions with both countries. This was done to ensure that
any trade measures they contemplate on a bilateral level do not
sideswipe other GATT members, in other words, that the
principle of most favoured nation treatment be preserved in any
Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot): Mr. Speaker,
the Minister for International Trade agrees with our views.
My supplementary question is for the Prime Minister. Would
it not be desirable for the Prime Minister to personally inform
the President of the United States of Canada's interests and
Hon. Roy MacLaren (Minister for International Trade):
Mr. Speaker, the discussions to which the hon. member refers
have been broken off, as he is probably aware, and the United
States is acting unilaterally in the protection of what it sees as its
trade interests. There is no reason for the Prime Minister of
Canada to intervene in that situation.
The concern we had was centred on whether the United States
and Japan would agree, which they have not, upon measures that
could have affected Canadian trade interests. That has not
* * *
Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Prime Minister.
Canadians can remember that the previous Prime Minister
provided for a federal penitentiary in his riding at taxpayers'
expense. Now the federal government recently approved $4.5
million of funding for a museum of industrial history in
Shawinigan, the current Prime Minister's riding.
Is it the intention of the present Prime Minister to equal or
exceed the former Prime Minister in delivering federal funding
to his own constituency?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, let me tell the hon. member that this project was asked
for many months ago by the local authorities. In fact, the
municipal government, the provincial government and all the
political parties in the province of Quebec unanimously support
this initiative. It is sad the hon. member's party did not run a
candidate in Quebec because I suspect that party would have
supported the project also.
The contribution of the federal government is modest
compared with the contributions coming from the private sector
and the provincial government. It will allow the creation of
employment. It will be a centre of tourism. It will generate and
spin off a number of financial consequences which will benefit
the entire region and not exclusively the riding of the Prime
Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West): Mr. Speaker, time
and time again we hear just what we heard a moment ago. That
seems to be a commitment of previous governments or of some
other past groups. The fact is if this government can do away
with EH-101s it certainly could have prevented this $4.5
Is the Prime Minister today delivering on the promise he made
last fall in his own campaign to look after his riding? Is the
Prime Minister saying that he is delivering $4.5 million to his
own riding at the expense of taxpayers across this country?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, let me remind the hon. member that this contribution is
part of a number of other contributions from the private sector.
The private sector is investing three times the amount the
federal government is investing in this project.
It will create employment for hundreds in the region and will
serve the interests not only of the riding of the Prime Minister
but the entire region.
I assure the hon. member that if he visits the area he will be
proud to see that this region is benefiting from the overall
expenditures of the Canadian government.
* * *
Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is directed to the Minister for International Trade.
This morning we learned that Canada's position as an
exporting country has been deteriorating for ten years. From
1982 to 1992, Canada's share of world exports was reduced by
over 5 per cent. This translates into an export loss of $7 billion in
U.S. dollars and, according to Claude Picher of La Presse,
represents a 300,000 job loss for Canada.
What concrete measure does the government intend to take to
correct the disastrous situation of Canadian exports, which is an
important reason for the collapse of our job market?
Hon. Roy MacLaren (Minister for International Trade):
Mr. Speaker, the statistics the hon. member cites reflect the fact
that there has been a global recession. Specifically in the case of
Canada, however, we have put in place a number of initiatives
intended to take the opportunities offered to Canadian
companies by the successful conclusion of the Uruguay round at
the GATT and by the implementation of NAFTA as elaborated
by this government when it came into office.
Our trade promotion programs and activities are intended not
only to exploit those additional opportunities that result from
the reduction in trade barriers but also to identify new
opportunities particularly in Asia and across the Pacific,
including for example our friends in Korea who offer us all sorts
of new trading opportunities.
* * *
Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the President of the Treasury Board.
Treasury Board has a policy allowing employees to attend
school full time while receiving full pay. Recently someone in
the National Transportation Agency received a salary of more
than $80,000 a year while attending university full time.
Will the minister tell us how many federal employees are
currently on this paid leave status, attending university instead
of performing the work for which they were hired?
Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton (President of the Treasury Board
and Minister responsible for Infrastructure): Mr. Speaker,
employees go on training programs to learn and to be able to use
that as a valuable resource of information when it comes to
doing their job.
I would be happy to look into any of the specifics the hon.
member happens to be concerned about. The government is
concerned with the efficient spending of tax dollars. Certainly
training is a very important part of efficient use of tax dollars.
* * *
Mr. Joseph Volpe (Eglinton-Lawrence):
Mr. Speaker, you
and other members will know of the importance of Pearson
International Airport to the Canadian economy. It is one of
Canada's most prized pieces of infrastructure. Its importance to
the economy of southern Ontario and to all of Canada is beyond
Recently there have been some reports in the press that have
given us a confused message on what will be happening to this
valuable piece of infrastructure.
Would the Minister of Transport be so good as to clarify for all
members present what the position of the government might be
with respect to any plans in the short term or the long term for
improving the performance of Pearson and in fact improving the
value of this piece of Canadian infrastructure?
Hon. Douglas Young (Minister of Transport): Mr. Speaker,
I certainly agree with the hon. member that Pearson has
enormous economic importance, not just to the greater Toronto
area but to Canada as a whole.
The question we must face and that I want to address in
response to my hon. friend's question is that in the short term we
have announced there will be no new construction this year. We
are going to complete the construction that was begun last year
under a quick start project.
I want to emphasize that we intend to listen to members of
Parliament from the greater Toronto area. We intend to listen to
the leaders of the municipalities, the city of Toronto and other
communities in that area to make sure that when we do
something at Pearson we do the right thing.
* * *
I wish to draw to the attention of members the
presence in the gallery of three distinguished visitors: His
Excellency Sung-Joo Han, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the
Republic of Korea; Hon. Jim Smith, Minister of Community and
Social Services of the Nova Scotia Legislature; and Hon. Dan
Miller, Minister of Skills, Training and Labour of the
Legislature of British Columbia.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
* * *
Mr. Jag Bhaduria (Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville):
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of personal privilege to clarify
an issue that has become a subject of debate not only in this
Chamber but also across the nation.
This has impeded my ability to function effectively and
efficiently as the member of Parliament for the riding of
Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville. This is the earliest
opportunity for me to address the issue in the House.
Approximately two weeks before allegations against me first
appeared in the media, I was contacted and threatened by an
anonymous telephone caller. It was suggested to me that I
should withdraw a pending appeal against the Toronto Board of
Education at the Court of Appeal level; if I did not I would
become front page news and suffer dire consequences. I ignored
this threat and as a result I am standing before the House today.
Threats of blackmail or intimidation should not and will not
compromise my commitment to free speech as a member of
Parliament. Since this threat was made, accusations about my
qualifications have been reported in the media.
These accusations have seriously damaged my personal and
professional credibility. In fact the media went beyond making
simple accusations. They carried on a campaign of character
assassination and were joined by others who jumped on the
bandwagon to discredit my qualifications. I was accused, tried,
convicted and executed due to their sheer ignorance. They
created an hysteria without checking the facts with me regarding
my academic credentials. Some accusations such as
exaggerating my qualifications were mild in comparison to
assertions of outright lying about my credentials.
On the public record I categorically refute all accusations of
lying, exaggerating or misrepresenting any of my academic
I have earned a bachelor of science degree, a master of science
degree in physics, a master of education degree in
administration, a post graduate certification in education and,
last but not least, a certification of completion of intermediate in
laws abbreviated as LLB intermediate from the University of
I would like to add that none of these credentials is honorary
or purchased from a diploma factory. I would also like to add
that LLB intermediate is not a degree. It is a recognition of
successful completion of two years of law education at the
University of London, England.
To clear any doubts whether any such recognition exists, I
would like to quote relevant information from the certificate of
completion sent by the registrar of the University of London on
February 2, 1994. It reads: ``This is to certify that Jag Bhaduria
passed the intermediate examination in laws in 1976 in the
following subjects'', et cetera, et cetera. I respectfully request
unanimous consent to table these documents.
I have also been accused of misrepresenting myself or
representing myself as a lawyer. I have never been a lawyer or
represented myself as a lawyer to anyone. Even completion of a
law degree will not entitle me to practise law without fulfilling
further requirements. There are many persons in Ontario and in
other provinces who do possess completed law degrees but are
I can understand the anger generated by these wild, false and
baseless accusations. I agree with and applaud the right hon.
Prime Minister when he stated that he does not like being lied to.
Nor do I. Nor does any hon. member of the House.
With my conviction and firm belief in the policy of honesty
and integrity of elected officials at all levels, I refute these false
allegations in the presence of my peers in the House. We do not
have to be saints but we must strive to uphold these principles. I
invite my colleagues in the House to examine my academic
credentials and weigh the accusations in a rational and judicious
In conclusion I request the House to ensure that no Canadian
be subjected to the demeaning and humiliating accusations I
have been confronted with since becoming a member of
The Speaker: The Chair at this point is not convinced of the
linkage between the words that the member has used and his
impediment to being able to carry out his functions.
However, I wish to review the documents which I will permit
to be put on the table but not tabled. I will consider what the hon.
member has said and I will get back to the House just as soon as
* * *
Hon. Jean J. Charest (Sherbrooke):
Mr. Speaker, even as I
address this House, Mr. Irénée Pelletier, who was the member of
Parliament for the constituency of Sherbrooke between 1972
and 1984 and who unfortunately passed away last Friday, is
being buried in a religious ceremony in the church at
Saint-André-de-Madawaska, the village of his birth.
Irénée Pelletier died at the age of 54. He was the 13th of 14
children, something many of us can identify with, and he
accomplished many things in his life.
After receiving a BA from St. Francis Xavier University in
Nova Scotia, he earned a Ph.D. in political science from the
University of Toulouse in France. The subject of his thesis was
Canada's aid to developing countries, and this was in the very
He had a very full life. He was a member of the Canadian
forces and he was also very active. He travelled extensively and
after his studies he worked as a professor with the faculty of
administration at the University of Sherbrooke. In 1972 he ran
for the first time as the candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada
in the riding of Sherbrooke. Of course he won that election and
those that followed in 1974, 1979 and 1980.
While sitting in the House of Commons as the member for
Sherbrooke, he was very active and became interested in several
issues. For several years he chaired the Standing Committee on
Regional Industrial Expansion. He was Parliamentary Secretary
to the Minister of Agriculture. He was also very active in
various interparliamentary groups.
He was very interested in peace and disarmament issues. In
fact-I remember because he told me himself-he had to make a
personal, very difficult decision when the House held a debate
on cruise missiles and he felt compelled to vote against his own
government on a motion to test these missiles.
He told me how torn he was feeling during this debate and
how he finally decided to take a very personal position that,
incidentally, reflected his deep concern over the hunger problem
and other issues affecting to different degrees people suffering
around the world.
I had the privilege to face Irénée Pelletier during the 1984
general election. If I may, I would like to relate an election
anecdote that says a lot about Mr. Pelletier. We conducted two
polls during the election. The first one said basically two things:
first, that Mr. Pelletier was very popular with Sherbrooke
voters, which was bad news for the other candidates. Another
piece of bad news at the very beginning of the campaign was that
Mr. Pelletier was going to win the election. The second poll
asked the same questions, with the same results.
At the end of the campaign, Mr. Pelletier was just as popular
with Sherbrooke voters but this time we found out the wave that
was about to sweep Canada was also going to have an impact in
the constituency he had been representing since 1972.
Today, it is with some emotion that I join those who have
known him in saying how much we will miss him. I met Irénée
Pelletier several times after the 1984 election. He was always
very generous. I saw him a few days before he died. He was a
committed man who served his community better than anyone
else ever did. He left his mark in Sherbrooke in several areas
because he was a very effective member of Parliament, and he
always supported those who sought to help the disadvantaged in
Sherbrooke has a service organization called Cercovie that he
was instrumental in founding several years ago. We can thank
Irénée Pelletier for that accomplishment.
On behalf of my family and especially of those who knew Mr.
Pelletier, who had the privilege to be represented by him in the
House of Commons, I want to say how much we will miss him. I
especially want to offer our sincere condolences to his family
and say in closing that the constituency of Sherbrooke and the
country as a whole have lost a great man.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Madam
Speaker, I would also like to speak on this subject. I too would
like to extend my sympathies to the family of Irénée Pelletier, a
distinguished member of Parliament who served with me in this
House for 12 years.
In my view, here was a man who truly embodied what Canada
stands for. Hailing from the Madawaska Valley in New
Brunswick, he earned a degree from St. Francis Xavier
University in Nova Scotia. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in
political science in France before returning to teach in
First elected to the House of Commons in 1972 he was, in the
words of his successor, an excellent member of Parliament. He
was extremely dedicated and friends with everyone. He was
very industrious and keenly interested in international affairs.
Typically, however, he was deeply concerned about poverty and
focused a lot of his attention on regional development. Given his
rural roots, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Agriculture.
Individuals like Irénée Pelletier who serve in Parliament are
fine examples for others to emulate. On behalf of Aline and my
party, I want to offer my condolences to the Pelletier family.
May he always be remembered as a gentleman who served his
riding, his province and his country with distinction.
Mr. David Berger (Saint-Henri-Westmount): Madam
Speaker, I too served with Irénée Pelletier from 1979 to 1984
and I was deeply saddened by his demise.
Mr. Pelletier came from Saint-André-de-Madawaska, New
Brunswick. A former university professor in Sherbrooke with a
doctorate in history, he represented the people of Sherbrooke in
the House of Commons, as my hon. colleagues pointed out, for
12 years, from 1972 to 1984.
In October 1975 he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to
the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Eugene Whelan.
Mr. Pelletier was a great champion of the Canadian marketing
At a conference of Canadian grocery distributors in 1977 he
decried the sometimes adversarial relationship between
government and the food industry.
He said: ``An effective food policy, supported and
administered through effective programs, is one that can only be
achieved by a united approach''.
One subject was particularly close to his heart and that was
aid to developing countries. He even wrote his doctoral
dissertation on this subject. In 1976 he travelled the country
with fellow members Andrew Brewin and Douglas Roche to
make Canadians aware of the needs of developing countries.
In a speech, Mr. Pelletier said:
``Canadians have not only a Christian responsibility but a
human responsibility to help correct inequalities, and if the
developed nations do not share with the developing nations
chaos will result. Fifteen per cent of the world's population
control close to eighty per cent of the world's wealth. Under
these conditions we are just not going to have a peaceful world.
The Third World is just not going to accept it''.
After being defeated in 1984 he became involved in municipal
politics, was elected alderman and then mayor of North Hatley.
Three years ago Mr. Pelletier studied in Rome to become a
priest. This was to be the crowning achievement of a career in
which the emphasis had always been on dedication.
On my behalf and that of my colleagues, I wish to extend my
deepest sympathies to his family and friends, as well as to all
those who were close to him.
Mr. Jean H. Leroux (Shefford): Madam Speaker, although I
did not know Mr. Pelletier, I wish to recognize his service in
government from 1972 to 1984. On behalf of all members of the
Bloc Quebecois, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to
the family and friends of Mr. Irénée Pelletier, former member of
Parliament for Sherbrooke.
Mr. Nelson Riis (Kamloops): Madam Speaker, I want to join
with my colleagues in paying tribute to Irénée Pelletier, whom
we remember in this House from the seventies and early
eighties. We remember him to be a very popular member in his
constituency. Often visitors from the constituency would come
to Ottawa and he would go out of his way to introduce them,
particularly to those of us from western Canada. I personally
always appreciated that.
The fact that he won election after election speaks well of the
kind of constituency person he was. We all remember the issues
that he was deeply devoted to, not only in terms of overseas
development from a Canadian perspective but particularly his
concern for the plight of people living in many of the countries
in which our aid projects were undertaken.
He would share those experiences from his travels and his
knowledge with us in the House, particularly in those days in the
evenings over dinner. He would come back from a trip and
explain the kinds of conditions he experienced. I found him to be
a very motivating individual and a very kind and compassionate
member of Parliament.
I simply want to join with my colleagues in saying that Mr.
Pelletier will be missed. Our hearts and our prayers go out to
him, to his family and to his friends today. Again I want to say
how sad we were when we learned of his passing.
Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment): Madam
Speaker, I would like to take a few moments to pay tribute to the
memory of Dr. Irénée Pelletier.
I had the opportunity to deal with him on several occasions
between 1985 and 1989. I think he was not only a politician and
academic but mostly a person of great integrity and human
warmth who was interested in his community, his country and
anything that had to do with the quality of life.
He was always ready to work with all interested parties to
improve the quality of life not only for ourselves but also for the
generations to come. I would like to pay tribute to his memory
and to extend my deepest sympathy to his family.
The House resumed consideration of the motion.
Mr. George Proud (Hillsborough): Madam Speaker, this is
the third time that I have had the opportunity to make a
statement in this House concerning an aspect of the continuing
saga of the fixed link between Prince Edward Island and the
For the benefit of those members who have recently joined us
in this Chamber, this is an issue which has been at the top of the
political agenda in Atlantic Canada for many years. The first
major discussions about a fixed link evolved around a railway
tunnel in the late 1880s. Then there was a combination of bridge,
causeway and tunnel in the 1950s and 1960s. Now we are at the
stage at which the actual construction of a bridge has begun.
The construction of a bridge between Prince Edward Island
and the mainland has not been without controversy. Several
court challenges have been mounted to prevent the construction.
To those who oppose this project I must say I respect the
passion which they have shown for the cause, but at the same
time I must respectfully disagree with the positions they have
put forward. The governments of the Atlantic provinces, the
Government of Canada and the vast majority of the residents of
the regions agree that the construction of a fixed link should go
One by one the barriers to the construction of this project have
fallen away. The latest reincarnation of this project, if I may be
permitted to use that term, came about in 1987. Since that time
more than 90 studies have been conducted and countless public
meetings have been held with the general public and with
special interest groups in all three maritime provinces.
Now it has been said, and it is true, that the original generic
design of the bridge did not pass an environmental review panel.
However, careful study of the specific design of the current
bridge did satisfy all of the requirements.
A special panel was convened to study the effects of the
bridge on ice in the Northumberland Strait and it concluded that
the bridge would have no significant effect.
Fishermen and ferry workers were concerned that the bridge
would affect their livelihood and their specific concerns have
been addressed with a settlement being reached with the
fishermen in the area just last week. Talks are continuing with
the ferry workers. I have every confidence that they too will
come to a successful and mutually acceptable conclusion.
The work on the project has already begun and the economic
upsurge in the Borden area of Prince Edward Island is noticeable
already. The construction of the yards for fabrication of the
concrete piers of the bridge is under way and employment has
been created both there and in the town of Borden which is
undergoing a mini real estate boom.
Just last week a tender was awarded to a New Brunswick firm
for $40 million worth of concrete to be delivered to the site, a
contract which will create some 50 additional jobs. The
construction will get into full swing in the year ahead and the
economic spin-offs will be of tremendous importance to Prince
Edward Island and to the rest of the region.
The very fact that the construction is under way has pointed
out a major flaw which presently exists in our transportation
system. Because of the geological make-up of Prince Edward
Island it is necessary to transport gravel and fill from New
Brunswick for construction of the yards in Borden. The truck
traffic, as a result of this, has necessitated extra crossings of the
ferry this year. There have been delays in truck traffic because of
increased volume. All consumer products that come into Prince
Edward Island come in by truck, and every delay adds to the
eventual cost paid by consumers.
Because of the severely cold weather this winter which has
affected most of Canada there has been a tremendous build-up
of ice in the Northumberland Strait. Some crossings last week
took over five hours whereas in summer it would take about 45
This shows that an improved system of transporting our goods
out and our consumer products in is badly needed. If we in
Prince Edward Island are to prosper and if our economy is to
recover we must have a dependable and efficient transportation
link with the rest of Canada. We have gone beyond the time
where we can adopt a casual attitude when it comes to getting
our goods to market. The world has become a highly competitive
place and we have to compete at the very highest level if we are
A few days ago I spoke in the House about the need for
continued equalization payments to help the poorer areas of
Canada carry on while they develop their economies. This fixed
link project is one of the major construction projects in Canada
today. When it is completed it will leave the lasting effect of
an improved transportation system in our area.
The benefits will not only be immediate as we enjoy this
influx of capital into our economy. They will flow to us for many
years to come. The construction itself will create a pool of
expertise in Atlantic Canada which will be in demand around the
world for similar projects. The bridge itself will initiate a
stability in our marketplace that is not there at the present time.
In the future people can plan, schedules can be set, and products
can get to market.
The last number of years have not been bright in Atlantic
Canada. Our unemployment rate is the highest of any region. I
also said a few days ago that there was not a politician in
Atlantic Canada who would not be happy to see equalization
funds flowing out of our region to help other areas of Canada
rather than flowing in to bring us up to national standards. That
is what this project is about. It is about creating opportunity for
Atlantic Canada. It is about creating the opportunity which will
allow Prince Edward Island and the rest of Atlantic Canada to
stand on their own two feet.
We have tremendous resources in our region. We live within a
one-day drive of millions of people who are looking for quality
goods and services. We must be prepared to go after those
markets and we must have the tools to be able to compete.
Since I have been involved in public life, and that goes back
some 20 years, we have heard among other things two
prescriptions for the recovery of Atlantic Canada. It has always
been said, first, that we must add more value to our products
and, second, that we should extend the length of our tourist
season. Both these will become easier when the completion of
the link and the improved transportation network it will entail
become a reality.
The construction of this bridge represents our best hope in
both the short and long term to create a dramatic economic
improvement in Prince Edward Island and the rest of the
maritime provinces. That is why we in the House must show our
continuing support for the project. That brings us to the debate
we are conducting today.
Transportation has always been one of our most dominant
concerns in Atlantic Canada. During the age of sail we were at
the leading edge of the world technology but during the winter
months we could not sail very far. The age of sail gave way to the
age of steam and changes had to be made. At the time that Prince
Edward Island entered Confederation in 1873 and for a number
of years thereafter, the link between my province and the
mainland was steamship during the summer months and
iceboats powered by oars in the winter.
The construction of the railway led Prince Edward Island into
Confederation. Our Fathers of Confederation were sufficiently
astute to include provisions in the Constitution that there be a
steam service provided by the Government of Canada. Like the
transportation systems of the day that was a state of the art
constitutional provision. It made sense at the time to guarantee
that the best available transportation system was included in the
Constitution. That is precisely what this amendment is doing
today. It is bringing the Constitution and its provisions with
respect to transportation up to the present time.
There are those who have argued, even in court, that this
provision of the Constitution should not be changed. They have
used that argument to try to prevent the building of the link. That
argument is no more valid than it would be to argue that some of
the statutes in some of our jurisdictions which once banned the
automobile should not be changed.
The Constitution is a living thing. Constitutions must change
and adapt to the changing times in which we live and to the
advances and changes in technology which affect our daily
lives. One wonders if the ferry service between Prince Edward
Island and New Brunswick has been constitutional since the
steamship gave way to the diesel powered ship many years ago.
This amendment will allow for people of one province of
Canada, Prince Edward Island, to become full partners with the
rest of the country. The Trans-Canada Highway in Prince
Edward Island will be joined to the Trans-Canada Highway in
New Brunswick and islanders will be able to transport their
goods directly to market in a timely and efficient manner.
We are entering an exciting time in Atlantic Canada. A new
era of prosperity will come to our region fuelled in part by the
regional economic policies of the government and in part by the
construction of this very major project.
I urge all hon. members to support this constitutional
amendment and to bring the Constitution of Canada as it impacts
on the transportation system of Prince Edward Island into the
Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse): Madam Speaker, I am
glad to be able to make a few comments on the interesting
speech of my hon. colleague who just spoke.
On this side of the House, it is always with interest that we
observe what is being done for some provinces of Canada,
especially Prince Edward Island which was able to renegotiate
its terms of union with Canada and which today sees a project
which has long been a source of argument on the Island and in
the rest of Canada. The federal government will finally allocate
the required funds.
Considering the expressed desire of the people of Prince
Edward Island and the willingness of the federal government to
invest in this project, all we can do is acknowledge the
democratically achieved decision of the population of P.E.I.,
which was presented with all the facts. It is not for us to decide
what is good for them. We can only respect their will, although
we look with some envy at the terms of union of British
Columbia, which included a railroad from sea to sea, and more
recently at the promises made to Newfoundland, in 1949, after
Unfortunately Quebec never really negotiated its terms of
union. We were, through an Act of the British Parliament,
incorporated into a union of British colonies in North America.
In 1867, we did not have much to say. No referendum was held in
Quebec then, despite the repeated requests of the Liberal
This is why we hope that in a few months, like our friends in
Prince Edward Island, we will be able to make a wise,
enlightened and positive decision as to our fate as a nation and
our desire to negotiate with Canada the terms of Quebec
accession to full sovereignty.
Mr. Proud: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his
intervention in the constitutional debate that he wants to get me
involved in. I want to add that this constitutional amendment
comes about because of the bilateral constitutional amendments
that are allowed with one province but not more than one. That is
why this has happened in New Brunswick and in Newfoundland.
It is happening in Prince Edward Island today because the
legislative assembly of Prince Edward Island passed the same
resolution last year. We are being asked to do so in this House
today. I am sure the hon. member and his party agree that it
should go ahead and see no problem in passing it.
As far as getting into the constitutional debate of the rest of
the country, I will let other more qualified people than myself
get involved in that.
Mr. Ronald J. Duhamel (Parliamentary Secretary to
Minister of Public Works and Government Services):
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on this
bill, that is this constitutional change.
I am pleased to speak in support of this resolution which will
clear away one of the final remaining obstacles to the
Northumberland Strait bridge project. Before proceeding
further I want to answer a few questions raised today. Neither
the minister nor I had the opportunity to provide answers.
Some members will recall that a member of the Reform Party
questioned the process the government was undertaking with
respect to this initiative. I remind that colleague and other
colleagues that the judge had directed the constitutional change.
The judge had indicated the change could be undertaken via
section 43. It is important to make those points for fear that
someone may believe proper advice was not followed.
I was also somewhat taken aback by that member of
Parliament who, with a certain amount of enthusiasm, suggested
the government had received nothing but bad advice, that it
might even have been proceeding illegally. I have to say this
person does not lack in confidence and I wonder what credible
source my colleague was quoting.
I underline as well the fact that the people of Prince Edward
Island joined the union. They made that decision with a
condition and it is correct for them to amend that condition. It is
correct for them to determine that condition should be changed
because they decided to join under it.
This morning, I believe the Bloc Quebecois made reference to
a firm which indicated that some $1.3 billion might be spent on
that project. If that is indeed the comment made, it is erroneous.
The fact is that this firm said in 1988 that even if the project was
to cost $1.3 billion, it would be worth it. This is not the same
statement at all.
I also want to point out that we did have a reliable source, an
independent engineer, who certified that the project would cost
approximately $840 million. Again, this amount was certified
by an independent party.
I must add another comment. If there are additional costs and
if the project goes over the estimated budget, what will happen?
I think some are under the impression that the government
would foot the bill. On the contrary, it is the private sector which
would have to absorb these additional costs.
Finally, you are well aware that environmental concerns were
raised regarding this project. I simply want to remind hon.
members that more than 90 studies were conducted and over 80
meetings were held; moreover, two court decisions concluded
that the project was very reasonable from an environmental
point of view. Of course, you can never be absolutely sure, but if
you look at megaprojects, you will see that the government
proceeded very cautiously with this one, at least as regards
financing and environmental aspects.
Finally, there was this question about the workers. It is
unfortunate-and I share this concern with my colleagues from
both sides of the House-that workers will be displaced. It is
really very unfortunate. I want to remind this House that this
government makes it a priority-and I hope it is the same for all
my other colleagues-to find ways to meet the needs of these
men and women.
With regard to the fixed link project, those workers will have
hiring preference and some will be able to take advantage of
early retirement programs. There will be training and retraining
programs as well. I insist on it and I hope that we will work very
hard together to try and make sure that these men and women
will not find themselves out of work because of the bridge.
Having answered those questions I felt needed some
additional detail, I want to proceed very quickly with some of
the main points I consider important from my particular
Our government made it clear during the election campaign
and in the recent throne speech that putting Canadians back to
work is the number one economic, political and social challenge
facing this country. We are committed to taking every step
within our power to support job creation, to stimulate increased
economic activity and to restore hope and confidence in the
future for all Canadians. This project helps in reaching those
Nowhere is this more the case, the need that is, than in
Atlantic Canada which almost more than any other area of the
country has suffered too long from high levels of unemployment
resulting in dependency and despair. Everyone should welcome
this initiative for that part of the country which has been hard hit
The Northumberland Strait bridge project will have an
immediate significant impact on the economy of Atlantic
Canada in general and that of Prince Edward Island in particular.
The rest of the country can expect to feel the positive effects of
this project in the long term too. That is a positive spin off.
Members will recall we have estimated there will be 1,000
direct jobs for each of the four years of construction or almost
3,000 person years of employment in all. That is a lot of work for
a lot of people. Under the terms of the contract between the
federal government and the contractor, more than 95 per cent of
these jobs will come from Atlantic Canada. Of course with its
high unemployment numbers it is of particular importance to
this area as well as the rest of Canada.
This project will provide a tremendous boost for employment
throughout the region. It will provide thousands of workers with
gainful employment and the opportunity to practise and improve
their job skills, quite apart from the work it will provide.
However direct employment tells only part of the story.
The contract also specifies that some 70 per cent of the total
procurement requirements will be sourced in the region. These
requirements are massive: thousands of tonnes of cement,
reinforcing steel cable, fabricated metal, manufactured
components, et cetera. Given that the total project is estimated
at $840 million to $850 million, the wages and procurement
expenditures paid by the developer will inject more than $.5
billion into the Atlantic economy over the next five years. This
should give a real kick-start to the economy in a region of this
great country that badly needs it.
It is also important to note that this bridge project most
definitely is not a make-work project aimed at providing some
short term relief for some of Canada's poorer provinces.
Obviously once the bridge is built some jobs will cease, but
there will be spin-off benefits. There will be an increase in
tourism and in business opportunities. I could go on.
I for one have found the hon. minister's remarks very
enlightening and convincing today. There is no question that the
bridge project is a very good deal for the Canadian taxpayers. In
accordance with the terms of the union act signed with Prince
Edward Island, the federal government is clearly required to
fund a link of some kind, whether a bridge or a ferry system, to
join the island to the mainland.
In the case of a ferry service, it would cost Canadians
taxpayers at least $42 million a year for the next 35 years to
allow Marine Atlantic to operate the service. This amount
includes the cost of operating the ferries, the cost of
maintenance and capital costs, for example, for the purchase of
new icebreakers during that period. After 35 years, federal
government subsidies should continue and increase because of
the demand for service. As the minister mentioned, this would
lead to uncontrolled spending with no end in sight, and that is
not a good deal for the taxpayers of this country.
Let me add a few comments to what the minister said about
the environmental quality of the project. This has attracted a lot
of attention during most of the five years that the project was
being developed. The environment was the main concern of the
government and of the developer. Indeed, this project has been
the subject of the most thorough environmental studies ever
undertaken for a project of this size. As I said, there were over
90 studies, 80 meetings and the public had many opportunities
to speak on the project requirements at some 85 public meetings.
This project meets all the technical requirements and all the
In closing, I ask my colleagues to support this project because
it is sound, it will meet the economic, tourism and other needs of
the region and I think it is being approached in a most
Mr. Len Taylor (The Battlefords-Meadow Lake): Madam
Speaker, the parliamentary secretary's comments cause me to
think of a couple of questions which would appropriately be
answered by him. I will have more to say about this motion later
when I am recognized on debate.
The parliamentary secretary indicated in his opening remarks
that the amendment today is required on the word of the courts. I
think the parliamentary secretary is aware that the Federal Court
had a number of things to say in regard to this project. Madam
Justice Reed did say, as quoted by the previous minister of
public works, that the constitutional amendment is not
necessarily required until the ferry service is replaced. Of
course the ferry service has not yet been replaced, yet we are
going ahead with this.
Also the Federal Court ruled that the minister of public works
had failed to comply with the requirements of section 12 of the
environmental assessment review process and ruled that no
irrevocable decision should be taken until this is taken care of. Is
it the government's opinion that the section 12 requirements of
the environmental assessment process have been dealt with, or
does the government now consider that this constitutional
amendment may not be an irrevocable decision?
Finally, the department has given jobs and the economy
primarily as its reasons for going ahead with the fixed link.
However in my constituency in the interests of saving money the
Department of Public Works is closing and perhaps bulldozing
three buildings owned and occupied by the federal government.
That is costing us jobs in the prairies and rural Canada.
I am wondering how the parliamentary secretary can justify
closing buildings in my riding and costing jobs while at the same
time putting money into the waters around Prince Edward Island
to create jobs there.
Mr. Duhamel: Madam Speaker, the hon. member's comment
with regard to the Federal Court indicating that a change needed
to be undertaken but when that change had to be undertaken is
quite right. However, it needs to be done and clearly now it is out
of the way or hopefully soon will be out of the way. It removes
the last obstacle. I think we are nit-picking a little. I say this
with kindness to my colleague. It was going to be done. It
needed to be done. It has been done and this has been the
appropriate path to follow.
With respect to irrevocable decisions, any decision
undertaken by man or woman is not irrevocable. We are about to
make a constitutional change. We are in the process of doing so.
It is quite possible to do so and I consider this one appropriate. I
consider it necessary and I argued that in my remarks.
With respect to the environmental questions I know of no
project that has sustained as much scrutiny as this one. I
indicated in my remarks that nothing is perfect. Certain things
could have been overlooked. I admit that. I am not foolish to that
point. However, there were over 90 studies and over 80 hearings.
Even our colleagues from the Bloc are supporting it in spite of
the fact that a number of individuals pointed out that Friends of
the Island had some legitimate concerns. The government and
the minister have been extremely responsible in this particular
case. We cannot go on forever.
With respect to the hon. member's riding, I do not know if
those particular buildings are being closed and jobs are being
lost. However that saddens me whether it happens in Prince
Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Vancouver, or anywhere else in
Mr. Lee Morrison (Swift Current-Maple
Creek-Assiniboia): Madam Speaker, my colleagues have
addressed the legal and political implications of the matter
before us. I want to step back a little further and consider the
Do we really need a 13 kilometre bridge across
Northumberland Strait? Why do we want to do this? Do the
benefits outweigh the costs? Can a near bankrupt Canada afford
it? These questions have been debated for 30 years, but in spite
of the signing last October as can be seen in this House the
debate is by no means over.
Let us start by disposing of the fiction that this will be a
privately financed venture. This is a typical government project
with the deal structured so that bond holders take no risk and the
private operators will repay principal and interest out of the
complete 100 per cent subsidy, $42 million a year indexed to
inflation for 35 years. This is compared to the current subsidy. I
must take issue with the gentleman who spoke a few moments
ago when he said that the subsidy was $42 million. The current
subsidy is $21.7 million. That is from the public accounts.
Therefore, we are talking about a virtual doubling of the subsidy
with the alternate program that is being proposed.
The interest on the $662 million initial bond issue is going to
be about $700 million, all courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer.
The only difference between the deal closed on October 7 and a
normal public works tender is that public money will be spent
without public accountability.
This gets better. Of the equity 85 per cent is held by
subsidiaries of foreign multinationals, Morrison Knutson of the
United States and the French GTM International. I do not know
what GTM stands for but I suspect it might mean get the money,
because get the money they will.
While we are paying off the debt the operators will be able to
do whatever they wish with the net revenue from the tolls and
that includes shipping the revenue out of the country. I have
nothing against foreign investment. In fact I welcome it.
However, I strongly object to foreign profit taking without
significant investment or risk.
Still it gets better. The consortium has to post a $200 million
performance bond, but the premium is being capitalized into the
project cost so that the taxpayer is going to pick up the tab as part
of the subsidy payments.
If this proposed bridge was between two heavily populated
areas or if it was on a major transportation corridor it would be
easier to justify. To spend $25,000 per family to make road
access marginally more convenient to an enclave of 130,000
people makes no sense at all.
Larger, faster ferries perhaps with better ice capabilities than
those now in use could be had for a fraction of the cost. First
class ferry service would not be a discriminatory burden on the
people of Prince Edward Island.
There are unanswered questions regarding the technical
superiority of a high, wind-swept bridge compared to a stable,
well designed ferry. The consensus, even among proponents of
the bridge, is that any storm severe enough to stop ferry service
will also stop traffic from using the bridge. What is worse, even
if the winds are not quite strong enough to stop traffic, vehicles
will be forced to proceed at a crawl and empty trailers will not be
permitted to cross.
If one is coming up from Boston for a load of potatoes and
there is no backup ferry, one had better be prepared to park his or
her semi until it gets a mite less breezy.
As an engineer I am well aware that almost anything is
technically possible if there is a will to do it and if there is no
limit to available resources. One takes an idea and just adds
money. However, the fact that something can be done does not
necessarily mean that it should be done.
Some people may invoke the memory of John Maynard
Keynes to justify this massive public expense as a
pump-priming exercise to stimulate the economy. Lord Keynes
never envisioned a situation in which nearly one-third of a
government's revenue is being eaten up to pay interest on its
existing debt. If we had faithfully followed his prescription and
built up surpluses or at least paid down our debt during the good
times I could perhaps agree that more government spending
might be of some economic benefit.
Unfortunately during the 1970s and the early 1980s the
Government of Canada and most governments in the world piled
up debts in good times, not for any lasting benefit but to finance
current expenditures. Like spendthrift families, they borrowed
money first to pay for the groceries and then to buy champagne
and whisky. They stood poor old Keynes on his head and they
put us into a financial box where we have no freedom to move
Even if one accepts the premise that jobs can be created at the
expense of the greater economy, and I certainly do not, but let
me play devil's advocate, if spending borrowed money is an
effective economic stimulus, surely the same amount of money
could be spent on something which would provide greater
long-term benefits to more people. Even the people of Prince
Edward Island are not united on this question. More than 40 per
cent of them clearly indicated they do not want this gift. This is
unprecedented. Ordinarily local people in any community will
fight tooth and nail for a government project because they have
this perception it is free.
Finally, this bridge deal was consummated in the dying days
of the Tory government, as was the Pearson airport deal. It has
the potential to be another Mirabel or another Olympic dome.
Let us slow down and take a cold, hard look at what we are
The last P.E.I. bridge project was further advanced than this
one is now when it was axed by the government in 1969. Of
course there will be economic penalties to pay to the operator
and to the bondholders if we stop, but surely we can still get out
of this with our hide intact before the project acquires
The one small lever that we have at our disposal in this House
is to withhold approval of the proposed constitutional
amendment. Let us leave the Constitution alone. Let us provide
first class ferry service in perpetuity as promised and forget
about completing another monument to Brian Mulroney.
Mr. Morris Bodnar (Saskatoon-Dundurn): Madam
Speaker, the hon. member has spoken about cost reductions and
whether such a project is one that should be built for practical
reasons, but in particular the cost of such a project and who
would be paying for it. I wonder whether the hon. member feels
the same way about any federal project that may be built in his
constituency. It is proposed that a healing lodge be built in his
constituency when there are not many aboriginal people living
there nor is there proper access to his constituency. Does he feel
that perhaps that project should be put on hold and studied again
and maybe should not be built as well?
Mr. Morrison: Madam Speaker, I concur most
wholeheartedly with the hon. member.
Mr. Ronald J. Duhamel (Parliamentary Secretary to
Minister of Public Works and Government Services):
Madam Speaker, very quickly I want to know, and I take it I
probably do now, that the hon. member's party does not support
this project. The Bloc does, but his party does not. I am always
trying to see the differences, apart from the language
differences. This is what I understand.
My colleague is playing devilish little tricks with the subsidy
of $21.7 million. He knows full well the figures I used were with
respect to capital and other costs. As an engineer he knows that.
Let us not play silly little games.
I would like to know what is his definition of an enclave. My
definition of an enclave is somewhat pejorative. I am sure he did
not mean that P.E.I. is some sort of foreign territory surrounded
There is a contradiction here. One of his colleagues said:
``Let's have a referendum. We'll do whatever the referendum
results are'' and the member says: ``Hey, let's not do it''. Who is
speaking for the Reform Party? Is there any consistency?
Mr. Morrison: Madam Speaker, I am delighted that the hon.
member raised the question of the referendum.
First, it was not a referendum, it was a plebiscite. Second, the
terms of the plebiscite were very clear in that they stated:
``Would you approve of this project if it is going to be more
economically feasible than improved ferry service and if there is
no danger to the environment?'' Since neither of those
qualifications has been met, I would suggest that if we want to
have a referendum we should have a real one, make it binding,
have it now and see how far we get.
As far as referring to Prince Edward Island as an enclave, the
hon. member says that is pejorative. He may think so. He
obviously reads a different dictionary than I do.
Mr. Duhamel: It is a standard one, English.
Mr. Morrison: It is surrounded by water. Water is a rather
effective barrier to most means of transport. I refer to it as an
enclave in those terms.
Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque): Madam Speaker, the
member mentioned that maybe it is time to move to a first class
ferry service. I do not know if he is familiar with Prince Edward
Island and the amount of physical goods and products we move
off the island. Our experience with the ferry service in recent
years has been fairly poor.
In fact, talking about economic efficiency, I spoke with some
truckers today. The wait at the ferry for truckers is anywhere
from three to five hours. As many as 50 to 80 trucks at a time are
sometimes waiting in line for the car ferries. One can only
handle 13 and the other at maximum can handle 45. The hon.
member has to understand that that is just not good enough. We
believe a link will change that.
When we look at the truckers, the fuel they are burning, the
hours, taking a day longer to get to market in terms of
scheduling and so on, it is a disaster for them and for the
agricultural industry as well.
What does the hon. member mean by first class ferry service?
I hope this is not an example.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): I am sorry, the time has
expired for questions or comments.
Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt):
Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to rise today to speak on this
constitutional amendment regarding the Prince Edward Island
I would like to stress those words; we are talking about a
constitutional amendment. We seem to be slipping by that little
bit of information very quickly in some of the speeches we have
I would like to begin by quoting from Hansard of May 19,
1992 when the House was embroiled in the debate on
constitutional concerns. ``We believe that the referendum
should be a permanent part of the process for revising the
Canadian Constitution; nor can it be restricted to one or just a
few provinces. The referendum ought to be national so that all
Canadians in all regions of this country have the opportunity to
speak on the same issue.'' These are very democratic words and
I concur with them. They are from the current minister of public
I have no problem with the construction of a fixed link. The
merits and drawbacks of this bridge have been widely discussed
and debated in Prince Edward Island, across the nation and in the
House of Commons. The economic benefits and the costs have
all been given consideration. The environmental considerations
have all been weighed. Most important, the people of Prince
Edward Island gave their assent in a plebiscite held in 1988.
The problem is that we are talking about a constitutional
amendment, something that affects each and every person in this
I would like to paint a picture. Members in this room should
think of a triangle. A triangle stands on a broad base and rises to
a point. This is the way I believe and my party believes we
should approach these matters, with broad consultation and
moving toward a point where we can get a consensus. With this
motion the government is turning the triangle so it is inverted
and there is no broad base of representation from the people of
Canada. This is something that the Reform Party of Canada
believes in very strongly, as do many millions of Canadians.
We are all aware that Madam Justice Reed decided the
Canadian Constitution has to be amended in order for the fixed
link to proceed. However, the reasoning behind the motion in
front of us is flawed for two reasons: First, the motion is too
specific. It makes specific reference to a fixed link, entrenching
it in the Constitution. Second, the motion should entrench the
intent of the original terms of union, that is to ensure reliable
and regular travel between Prince Edward Island and the
mainland, without entrenching the link specifically in the
tion. My colleague, the member for Fraser Valley East, dealt
with this issue at great length.
I find it inconsistent that this government proposes to open
the Constitution and make changes only when it suits its
I would like to read another quote. On February 3 in the House
the Prime Minister of Canada stated that: ``No one in Canada
wants to discuss the Constitution''. Here we are today
discussing the Constitution.
We all saw the rejection of the Charlottetown accord and what
the Canadian people thought of it. This is just another case of the
government's agenda versus that of the Canadian people. The
government has chosen to selectively change the Constitution.
Canadians do not accept this method.
I would submit that any changes to the Constitution should
involve all Canadians and should be approved in a referendum.
The Constitution should be concerned with the broad definition
of matters rather than ways and means of accomplishing the
intent, such as a fixed link.
The Constitution should deal with Canada's commitment to
maintain communications and transportation with Prince
Edward Island no matter what the method chosen to accomplish
We are running into the danger of making constitutional
commitments for Canada that may not be in the best interest for
all of the country. Technology may change. Currently in this day
and age we must realize the rate at which things change. We are
going to have to commit to this fixed link throughout time if it is
entrenched in the Constitution.
These are things that we have no control of and that may
change. I can give members the example of the Florida sunshine
skyway and the Chesapeake Bay bridge. They have been known
to close for months at a time. Are the proper plans in place for
this fixed link?
If we are going to have to change the Constitution, it must be
for a good and sufficient reason. We have all heard the emotions
of the minister of public works. I would respond that Canadians
must feel that they are a part of this constitutional amendment.
In closing, I would like to say that this motion is not just a
simple motion to build a bridge. This is a motion to change the
fundamental document of how our country operates, the
This is a bridge over the troubled waters of true Canadian
Mr. Ronald J. Duhamel (Parliamentary Secretary to
Minister of Public Works and Government Services):
Madam Speaker, I want to make sure that my colleague's
understanding of this constitutional change is the same or
different from mine.
Prince Edward Island 130 years ago decided that it could and
would become part of Canada with a certain condition, that ferry
service would be provided forever and a day.
Over the years, a number of options have been examined such
as a fixed link. There is now a project under way. It was a
judgment of a federal court that unless there were a
constitutional change indicating simply that ferry service could
be changed by fixed link-that is all it does-the government
could be in a position in which it would have to build a bridge
and continue the ferry service.
The subsidies, as I have defined them for the ferry service, are
going to be used to pay for the bridge. After that, there will not
be any more contribution by Canada.
Is my hon. colleague saying that the elected representatives of
Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Canada should not be
determining that it is okay for a fixed link bridge to be replacing
ferry service? That is the way I understand this change.
He understands it differently. Could he tell me how his
interpretation is different from mine? I have read this several
times and that is all I am getting from it.
Mr. Hart: Madam Speaker, in response to the question, it is
my interpretation that the intent 130 years ago was to provide
communication and transportation.
I feel that this motion should not be directly related to a fixed
link because of what I have said in my address to this House.
Technology may change. It is wrong to assume that there would
be no cost to all Canadian taxpayers down the road.
We are entrenching this in the Constitution. That means that
we must ensure over a long period of time into the future that
this will be maintained.
Mr. Milliken: Madam Speaker, on a point of order, there have
been discussions among the parties and I think you might find
there is unanimous consent for the following motion:
That not later than 15 minutes before the ordinary time of adjournment on
Thursday, February 17, 1994, the Speaker shall interrupt any proceedings
before the House and shall put, forthwith and successively, without any further
debate or amendment, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion of the
Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs for the
appointment of a Special Joint Committee, (Government business, No. 8), and if
any division be demanded such recorded division shall be deferred until
Tuesday, February 22 at 3 p.m.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu):
Do we have unanimous
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. George S. Rideout (Parliamentary Secretary to
Minister of Natural Resources): Madam Speaker, it is a
pleasure to rise and speak on this particular issue again. While
the issue itself is a very tight one in the sense of dealing with
constitutional change, it is interesting to listen to some of the
arguments about what a major issue of constitutional change this
It is simply substituting one method of linking Prince Edward
Island to Canada with another. While the wording that was
initially done was probably too restrictive we now have an
opportunity to correct that situation and yet we hear arguments
that this is a major constitutional change which is going to shake
the fabric of the nation. I must look at that with some chagrin
and state that this is not a fundamental constitutional argument.
This is simply whether we are going to change the method of
linking part of Canada's inhabitants with the rest of Canada's
inhabitants. The term fixed link in my view is probably a bit of a
misnomer as well. It conjures up causeways and tunnels and
linkages. This is a bridge, mind you a big bridge, but just a
bridge and it is going to join Prince Edward Island with the rest
We have used ferry service before and now we are going to use
a bridge. I do not know why we are all uptight about the method
of linking Canadians with Canadians.
If we are going to argue some of the issues we have to be fair. I
heard one of the members opposite talk about how the subsidy
which is going to support the fixed link is going to be double the
cost of the present subsidy.
What you have to factor into those numbers is a capital
allocation that must go in with those numbers and therefore
when we actually compare subsidies of the fixed link and the
ferry service they are equal
We also have to face the reality that if we do not have the
bridge we are going to need new ferries and there is a very large
expenditure of moneys necessary to bring those ferries up to
acceptable service over the next 35 years.
We are not comparing doing nothing with doing this particular
I think we also have to look at the situation and its impact on
Atlantic Canada. The short term impact is great economic
activity, spending large sums of money. We are going to see 70
per cent of the procurement come from Atlantic Canada which is
going to be beneficial to the people who right now have one of
the largest levels of unemployment in the country.
We are going to see 2,675 construction related jobs created in
Atlantic Canada and that is going to be beneficial. Upwards of
90 per cent of all labour will come from people who live or will
live in Atlantic Canada.
This is not just a five-year project and then it disappears.
There are tremendous spin-off benefits which are going to assist
in the tourism industry. Projections indicate that upwards of a 25
per cent increase will be achieved in the tourism industry.
We will also see tremendous savings and I am sure that the
Reform Party would like to support savings. We have heard
members of the government side talk about the delays,
transportation costs. Any industry that is tied in to
transportation as part of the cost of doing business is going to be
happy with this project. I believe the estimate is something like
$10 million annually that will be saved by people who are tied in
to the transportation side of this problem.
In addition, this project is going to create some very high tech
jobs. We build one of these projects and we actually have a
spin-off of high tech jobs both in the engineering side of things
and in the labouring side where people learn how to work on a
construction facility such as this one.
In that sense, we are going to have a double benefit, the short
term benefit of the actual construction and the long term benefit
in tourism. There will be savings in the area of transportation
and also the development of new technology and an educated
work force that will be able to export that knowledge and ability
around the world.
I say to those doomsayers who say that it is not time to go
ahead and that we should rethink our position on this project, we
have been rethinking this thing for upwards of 35 to 40 years. It
is time for some action. This is a project that Atlantic Canada
made. It is going to benefit Atlantic Canada. I see the members
opposite shaking their heads. They are more concerned with
their region rather than helping Atlantic Canada to pull itself up
by its own boot straps.
I say to the hon. members, get on board, support this project
and make Atlantic Canada one of the stronger participants in
this Confederation. Do not try to keep us down on the farm or
locked up on the island. This is a minor constitutional change. It
needs your support not your negative talk.
Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George-Peace River): Madam
Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member's statement.
Being from British Columbia, I was just wondering if the hon.
member could explain to the people of British Columbia, with
Vancouver Island and all of the economic activity, population
and traffic which has to travel back and forth between
Vancouver Island and the mainland, how B.C. is able to sustain
its economic activity and provide a good enough service with
I have no problem with the bridge if it is the most economic
way to go about it, but I am not convinced that is the case.
I would like the member to explain to the people of British
Columbia how Vancouver Island can be serviced more than
adequately with good ferry service but we need this fixed link
for Prince Edward Island.
Mr. Rideout: Madam Speaker, the member opposite has
raised one of the unique things about Canada and that is that we
can have differences. Obviously the folks on Vancouver Island
like having the ferry service. Obviously the people of Prince
Edward Island would rather have a bridge.
I would say to the member that if at some point the people on
Vancouver Island decide that they want to have a bridge they
should approach their provincial government for one.
Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse): Madam Speaker, I am
somewhat surprised at the way the debate is developing,
especially when you consider that, during the election and 1992
referendum campaigns, the Reform Party was a staunch
advocate of a Senate based on equality, political equality, which
means equal representation for all provinces, including, we
were told, Prince Edward Island.
However, there is also such a thing as economic equality. The
hon. member for St. Boniface made a brilliant presentation on
the economic aspects, and arguments were made by government
members as well as by some of my colleagues from the Bloc
Quebecois. I really wonder what is going on? In the country that
Canada still is, why should some regions be treated differently
on the basis of their population. It seems to me that some would
want to penalize Prince Edward Island on the ground that its
population of 120,000 or 130,000 does not justify building a link
which has been the subject of so many studies, environmental
assessments, reviews and even court decisions. Yet, if there is a
decision which was based on an extensive review of the situation
in Atlantic Canada, it is probably this one. As far as I am
concerned, whether or not we like the idea of a bridge, a tunnel
or some other fixed crossing between Prince Edward Island and
the continent is irrelevant.
The residents of Prince Edward Island have made a decision
which we must respect. Consequently I ask the hon. member:
Why does he not want to respect the decision made by those who
live on P.E.I.?
Mr. Rideout: Madam Speaker, I agree with the comments of
the member opposite. The debate has taken a strange turn.
Hopefully as it continues some of my colleagues opposite will
see the wisdom of the bridge, get on line and support the project.
I gather that one of the benefits of being a Reformer is they can
have free votes. Hopefully we will see a few of them come
across and support us on this very worthwhile project.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): It is my duty, pursuant
to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to
be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the
hon. member for Kamloops-Small Business; the hon. member
for Wetaskiwin-House of Commons; the hon. member for
Burnaby-Kingsway-Cruise Missile Testing; the hon. member
for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve-Electronic Highway; the hon.
member for Yukon-Health Care.
Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque): Madam Speaker, I rise to
speak in favour of this constitutional amendment which allows
the federal government to live up to the terms of the
constitutional agreement with Prince Edward Island with a
mode of transportation infrastructure that is geared to the year
2000 and beyond.
I want to make it clear at the beginning that the legislative
assembly in Prince Edward Island unanimously adopted the
necessary constitutional amendment in June of last year with the
full understanding the Parliament of Canada would proceed with
an amendment as soon as possible. Parliament is living up to its
commitment and I am pleased by the amount of support from
both sides of the House.
Part of the reason for the support is that a lot of Canadians
off-island want to link up with us rather than the other way
around. I encourage all members of Parliament to come to
Prince Edward Island before and after the fixed link is in place,
spend a few of their hard earned dollars, have some of the best
potatoes grown in Canada; see some of scenery and have some
of our lobster. I am getting a little off track blowing up the
merits of our wonderful isle. We certainly want it to remain that.
This new bridge enters my riding at the community of Borden.
I am well aware of the controversy past and present that
surrounds the project. The impact of the construction and the
completion of the fixed link will be felt first by the people in my
riding and most directly by the people in the community of
The issue of the fixed link connecting P.E.I. has been under
consideration at one time or another since 1885 when the
possibility of a tunnel connecting the island was first
considered. I do not mind admitting up front that first I favoured
a tunnel and I had to be convinced to favour a bridge. I will say
that the evidence and public opinion now in Prince Edward
Island is very strongly supportive of the bridge.
I have had a considerable amount of indirect involvement
with the Borden-Cape Tormentine ferry crossing. My father
worked for CN Rail, later Marine Atlantic, as a deck hand and
eventually a quartermaster for 32 years on that crossing. From
age 12, as many youth did, we would drive back and forth on the
car ferries. I have had first hand experience of the delays, of
being stuck in the ice for as long as 18 hours. As a result of that
experience I recognize the uniqueness of that particular area.
Nowhere else in the world will one find the combination of
wind, tides and ice there is where this bridge is going to be built.
It is for those reasons that I had to be convinced and looked so
seriously at this project with a very critical eye. I have looked at
the studies concerning the environment, the ice conditions, the
fisheries, the socioeconomic impact and so on. This morning the
minister outlined the number and breadth of the studies. I can
tell the House of the very extensive public consultations on
Prince Edward Island of those studies and of the bridge.
During the election campaign I found a sense of optimism as a
result of the project, due to the fact that there would be an
expected increase in economic activity during construction and
improved transportation infrastructure following construction.
There were concerns, and I do not think we can sweep those
under the rug, from the ferry workers, from the fishermen and
from the people of Borden. We cannot brush them off. They are
very real concerns in the minds of those people and must be
addressed. As a result of the studies, government has moved to
address them in a number of areas. I want to put on the record the
way they will be addressed.
As a result of the environmental review the government
determined that the construction and the presence of the bridge
will result in no significant impact on the environment and the
fishery. In order to overcome the difficulty the developer has
been required to set aside $10 million as a compensation fund.
This fund will be administered according to the terms and
process currently being developed by a fisheries liaison
committee composed of a majority of fishermen.
Quite a number of Marine Atlantic ferry workers will lose
their jobs. That is reality. The government has made the
commitment that these employees will be treated fairly and
equitably. They will have first right of refusal for the bridge
operation and maintenance jobs. A fair severance package will
be negotiated between the workers union and Marine Atlantic.
The government will provide opportunities for retraining, and
relocation assistance will be made available if necessary. A joint
consultative committee has been set up to co-ordinate the
activities dealing with the ferry workers.
As well, we have to address the concerns of the community of
Borden. That is happening on an ongoing basis. One of the last
studies done looked at the specifics of the project relating to
SCI's bridge proposal and it passed the test. Justice Cullen of the
Federal Court stated the following in his ruling with respect to
the efforts of Friends of the Island to prevent the project from
proceeding with respect to scientific studies and I think it is
important to put that statement on the record: ``The scientific
evidence relied on by Public Works Canada declared all
environmental impacts or potential environmental impacts were
The respondent SCI and Public Works accepted those
findings, were correct in doing so and thus the decision of Public
Works was correct in law and certainly not made in a vacuum''.
Other members have spoken of the economic impact and
spin-off so I will not repeat those facts and figures. However in
the long term after 1997 completion there should be economic
benefits, savings to transportation costs in the trucking industry
and more reliable product delivery for our agriculture, fisheries
and manufacturing products. After all transportation is
necessary in the delivery of goods to market. We have four years
to go. I mentioned in a question to a speaker earlier this
afternoon there are major concerns at the moment and major
delays in getting our products to the marketplace.
The government has committed itself to ensuring that the
risks to the environment and the fishery are minimized. It has
committed itself to ensuring that any of Marine Atlantic's work
force displaced by the completion of the bridge will be assisted
through retraining, relocation assistance and early retirement
I want to touch on one final point. It is the growing sense
among some islanders that the link, combined with the possible
loss of air traffic control service on the island, could lead
progressively toward a diminishing sense of full provincial
status. We may need at some point a full review of the
transportation infrastucture throughout the Atlantic region, one
that will allow all the stakeholders to participate in developing a
system that will benefit the region going into the next century.
In conclusion, this project is an investment in our future. This
amendment is part of the process to allow that to happen.
Mr. Lee Morrison (Swift Current-Maple
Creek-Assiniboia): Madam Speaker, I am a little surprised
because I know the hon. member is quite an ardent economic
nationalist. I now find him vigorously defending a project that is
going to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of
two giant multinational corporations. I find this a little
Earlier the subject of ice delays came up. I will agree with the
hon. member that one will get ice delays for ferries, even the
best of them, that one would not get with a bridge. On the other
hand, one will not get the sort of wind delays, winter or summer,
with ferries that one will get with this bridge.
The only bridge I am personally familiar with which is in any
way comparable is the one across the Straits of Mackinaw. It is
often closed because it is impassable in bad weather conditions.
By going a couple of hundred miles out of their way drivers can
get around but it is pretty hard to get around Northumberland
Strait. Again I am trying to look at this from a practical, realistic
point of view. I would like the hon. member's comment on that.
Mr. Easter: Madam Speaker, in Prince Edward Island we
look at the investment and economic activity of this link project
in the very short term.
The minister outlined creating jobs this morning. He talked
about 70 per cent procurement expenditures in the Atlantic area.
Ninety-six per cent of the jobs will go to that area so there will
be an economic boost in the initial stages of the project as a
result of the expenditure of funds.
Our concern in the study on ice was what ice could do to the
bridge. We were assured by all the experts that the bridge will be
able to withstand the pressure of that ice.
The fishermen have another real concern: if the bridge delays
the ice moving out of the strait it would have an impact on the
lobster fishery in terms of the waters remaining cooler and the
lobsters therefore remaining dormant for a longer period of
time. It would have an impact on lobsters.
Studies have clearly shown that the ice delay would be very
limited and would have minimal effect, if any, on the lobster
Mr. Morrison: I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker. The
hon. member misunderstood my question. When I talked of ice
delay I meant delays to ferries due to the presence of ice in the
channel. I was not referring to delayed breakup of the ice.
Mr. Easter: Madam Speaker, I will just make a comment on
that. Certainly we are familiar with the ice delays to ferries these
days. As I mentioned earlier this afternoon, truckers at the
moment are having anywhere from a three-hour to five-hour
extra wait due to a slowdown in ferry movement because of ice
congestion at the terminal and so many trucks moving. Under
the current scenario with the ferries and the ice it becomes an
extremely difficult situation in terms of getting product to
market on time and in an efficient way.
Mr. Rock: Madam Speaker, I wish to make a statement to the
House and I wonder if I might have unanimous consent for that
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Is there unanimous
consent of the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney
General of Canada): Madam Speaker, I am indebted to my
colleagues for their consent.
I would like to take the opportunity this afternoon to respond
to concerns raised this morning in the course of this debate by
the hon. Leader of the Opposition. He raised concerns arising
from the translation and a possible different meaning between
the French and English texts of the constitutional amendment.
The Department of Justice has now provided an opinion by those
persons who are drafting experts in matters of this kind.
It is the opinion of the Department of Justice that the French
text and specifically the word ``remplace'' is in the subjunctive
tense and as such imports a possibility. In other words the
French text, according to the Department of Justice, says
nothing more or less than the English text which reads: ``may be
I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for having
raised the matter. We respect his concerns but we believe they
are groundless. I appreciate this opportunity to clarify any
Mr. Gilbert Fillion (Chicoutimi): Madam Speaker, I am
pleased to speak on this constitutional amendment which the
Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada and
Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency put
forward under section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
I am one of the last members scheduled to speak. I hope that
the parliamentary secretary of the government party will listen
to what I have to say. While I will be going over some ground
that has already been covered, toward the end of my speech, I
will be voicing several opinions which subsequently will have to
The amendment in question provides for a fixed crossing
joining Prince Edward Island to the mainland to be substituted
for the ferry service between Cape Tormentine and Borden. It
should be noted that one of the terms of Prince Edward Island's
entry into Confederation was that efficient steam service for the
conveyance of mail and passengers be established and
maintained between the Island and the mainland, winter and
summer, thus placing the Island in continuous communication
with the Intercolonial Railway and the railway system of
In 1873 the realization came about that the terms and
conditions for admission into Confederation, namely the
promise of efficient steam service, were not being adhered to.
In 1877 Ottawa agreed to pay a subsidy for the operation of a
steam ferry boat. The Northern Light was put into service in the
The idea of building a tunnel under the strait to maintain
year-round communication was first bandied about in the early
1880s. However, with the introduction of ice-breaking ferries in
1917-18, the problem of ensuring continuous communication
was resolved and the idea of establishing what we now refer to as
a fixed link was abandoned for the moment. Only then were
ferries pressed into service twelve months of the year.
The amendment in question provides for a fixed crossing
joining Prince Edward Island to the mainland to be substituted
for the ferry service between Cape Tormentine and Borden.
Let me start by saying that it is rather significant that we find
ourselves having to debate a constitutional amendment, since
the present government refuses to discuss any amendments to
the Constitution which, as noted in section 52 of the
Constitution Act, 1982, is the supreme law of Canada.
In a famous ruling, the Judicial Committee of the Privy
Council in London compared the Canadian Constitution to a tree
capable of growing within its natural confines. History has
proven otherwise. It has taken more than a century for us to get
around to debating here in the House the construction of a fixed
link between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
As much as we want to muzzle debate on the Constitution, the
subject keeps coming up because it is part of an evolving
process. A country is not frozen in time. It is constantly
evolving. The constitutional amendment sought under section
43 of the Constitution Act, 1982, is an integral part of section 38
and subsequent sections which set out the process for amending
the Canadian Constitution. We cannot help but recall 1982 and
the painful memories it conjures up for Quebec. We cannot help
but remember the rejection of the Meech Lake Accord and the
rejection by all Canadians of the Charlottetown Accord.
This amendment put forward by the government shows us that
constitutional talks cannot be relegated to the back burner and
that it is impossible to artificially stop a process which, by
definition, is constantly evolving.
This constitutional amendment will put Prince Edward Island
in contact with the mainland through the establishment of a
fixed link. And I am very happy for island residents.
Representatives of the federal government and Strait
Crossing Development Inc., an international consortium, have
signed a contract valued at $840 million for the construction of a
bridge. It will cost approximately $800 million to build the
bridge, while $40 million will go to cover interest charges
during the three-year construction period.
Since the debate began this morning we have heard the same
speeches. However, the facts cannot be disputed.
The proposed bridge will be 13 kilometres long. This
superstructure will replace the ferry service between Cape
Tormentine, New Brunswick, and Borden, Prince Edward
It is a fact that the province was given guarantees under the
Constitution regarding links with the continent. Today, a ferry
service is provided by Marine Atlantic, a Crown corporation.
Responsibility for financing, building and operating a bridge
connecting New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island was given
to Strait Crossing Development, a Canadian company. The
company will receive an annual federal subsidy of $41.9 million
in 1992 dollars, this amount to be indexed for 35 years, starting
in 1997. This works out to a total of nearly $1.5 billion. The
company obtained financing through a private bond issue worth
$660 million. The bonds have a triple-A rating, the best
guarantee the banks can have.
Although I agree with this amendment, since we are bound by
one of the terms of union under which Prince Edward Island
entered Confederation in 1873, I nevertheless have some
reservations about the project. The cost of the ferry service
operated today by Marine Atlantic, a Crown corporation, is
around $28 million. There are some substantial differences here.
The bridge subsequently becomes the property of the federal
government. The agreement provides that the federal
government will acquire ownership of the bridge in 2032. In
what condition will the bridge be at that point? That is certainly
a question we can address in the House. Does the government
have sufficient guarantees that the bridge will be handed over in
good condition and that it will not have to invest in extending its
During the first year, tolls will equal the rate charged for the
ferry, which is $11.05. Subsequently, increases should not
exceed 75 per cent of the rate of inflation. The promoter will
collect the toll fees. At this point, one wonders whether this is a
firm commitment or whether the door is still open for
renegotiating rates if traffic remains below the forecast levels.
Economic spin-offs will include about 2,675 person-years of
work during construction, or 900 to 1,000 jobs annually with a
construction season of about nine months. As we said earlier, 96
per cent of the labour force will be from Atlantic Canada.
However, what will happen after completion of the project? Is it
back to the vicious circle of unemployment insurance and
welfare? Will tourist revenues be sufficient to prevent this?
The government admits that about 420 permanent employees
with Marine Atlantic will lose their jobs when the bridge is
opened to traffic and that only 60 jobs will be created. This
means a net loss of about 360 jobs. Further costs are expected,
including negotiating service allowances and funding for re-
training and relocation, if necessary. We do not have the answers
to these questions yet.
It will cost $10 million to compensate fishermen. A
federal-provincial agreement respecting the construction of the
fixed crossing was entered into by the Government of Canada
and the provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick will each receive
$20.4 million toward upgrading their road system. Is equal
treatment to be expected for all of Canada? Finally, the
communities of Borden and Cape Tormentine will receive a
special development fund of up to $20 million.
Some 70 per cent of the construction materials for the bridge
will be purchased in Prince Edward Island. The delivery of fish
and farm products will no doubt improve. Tourism is expected to
increase by 25 per cent. Are these estimates based on genuine
studies, studies demonstrating the feasibility of this project?
And the island's shipping industry will save $10 million a year
according to the Liberal Party. I doubt it.
Of course, we must not overlook the effects of building such a
structure will have on shipping, wildlife, fish, migratory birds,
agriculture and ice.
God forbid that this project become another Hibernia, a
project which has swallowed up in excess of $1 billion in public
and private funds to date, for the federal government
contribution to that project presented some fundamental flaws
as the Auditor General pointed out in his 1992 report. He
described the Hibernia project as high-risk due to the
uncertainty of prices as well as technological and environmental
factors. We hope that the construction of the bridge will not be
plagued with the same problems.
With regard to the bridge project, Parliament and more
importantly the public should be provided with quality reports
throughout the project so that corrective action can be taken
immediately, as required. A work schedule should be submitted
to Parliament and a special House committee should follow the
progress made in all areas-financing, construction per se,
deadlines, environmental studies-and report to the House at
The Bloc Quebecois believes that taking these comments into
consideration and supporting this amendment will take care of a
long-standing request. I hope that the Prince Edward Island
bridge project is built on solid ground because we will be the
rightful owners of this infrastructure 35 years from now.
To be a good deal, this project must be accompanied by a
comprehensive set of clear and measurable objectives;
sufficient co-ordination of monitoring of industrial benefits
must be put in place; environmental damage must be kept to a
minimum throughout the project and the rights of the fishermen
must be preserved during the entire process.
We, in the Bloc Quebecois, hope that the minister will take
into consideration the points I have just raised and, in the near
future, respond favourably in this House to the suggestion of
setting up a special House committee, as major investments are
at stake and it is essential to monitor carefully the use made of
Canadian taxpayers' money and hopefully preserve steady,
structuring and paying jobs for the young people.
Mr. Benoît Serré (Timiskaming-French River): Madam
Speaker, first, I would like to congratulate the members of the
Official Opposition, the Bloc Quebecois, on the facility with
which they turn any subject discussed here in the House to their
advantage and bring it around to the only debate that concerns
them, their only goal and objective, which is independence and
the separation of Quebec.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Serré: I am glad that they applaud when I talk about
separation and independence, because I see that you are sending
a clear, unambiguous message: Quebec independence is what
you want, not Quebec sovereignty. I am glad to see the reaction
of my hon. colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois.
They have that knack and I see the rationalization they used
for approving this project. They said, ``Because there was a
plebiscite in Prince Edward Island, we must respect the will of
the people''. They draw a parallel with a future referendum in
Quebec. I would like to make a distinction.
The project in question is a bridge, a link, something to unite
Canada and build Canada, something constructive. The eventual
referendum in Quebec is a plan to destroy bridges and ties in this
country. These people do not want a constitutional amendment;
they want the outright destruction of our country, and I will
never agree to that.
Mr. Fillion: Madam Speaker, I must sincerely tell you that I
thank the hon. member for his comment. Throughout the
election campaign-and it was publicized in English Canada
and in French Canada, in Quebec and elsewhere-we said that
while we were here in the House, the Bloc Quebecois's mandate
was to prepare for Quebec sovereignty.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Fillion: We did not refrain from saying and explaining
that during the election campaign. Our leader and other
members are ready to explain this position throughout Canada.
Our action and our position today is not to destroy what exists
but to ensure that there is some fairness. There was something
unfair about Prince Edward Island's treatment. Today, we are
trying to repair that error which has lasted over 100 years. So we
are also seeking this same fairness for the province of Quebec in
various fields and social areas from the federal government. I
think that is what our distinguished members on the government
side do not like; for once, the voice of Quebec is being heard in
this House defending and safeguarding its interests and giving
all of Canada clear, precise, unambiguous positions.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Therefore, I give the
floor to the hon. member for Davenport, for a question or a
Mr. Caccia: No, Madam Speaker, I would like to make a
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): In that case I cannot
give you the floor.
Mr. Ménard: Madam Speaker, I would like to make a
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Certainly but are you in
I am sorry. I do not want to make fun of you, but you must
speak from your seat. Twice already members have spoken when
they were not where they should have been.
An hon. member: He is where he is supposed to be.
Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve): Madam
Speaker, I have never been so properly told off.
I want to comment on the excellent speech by our colleague. I
could not help making the link with the speech of the previous
I imagine that if we, the Official Opposition, had done any
kind of filibustering regarding this motion, which is so
important for the quality of life of Prince Edward Island
residents, we would have been criticized and accused of being
anti-democratic, of not respecting the result of the referendum,
and of refusing to promote the democratic process in this
Now that we are co-operating with the government, and I
think it takes some audacity to rise in this House to say that,
because we are co-operating with the government, we are
branded as being biased and anti-democratic and as wanting to
side-track the debate.
We must be clear, and this is essentially what the previous
speaker meant. There cannot be two types of democracies in this
country: one which suits English Canada and government
members, and one which suits the government.
The support of the Official Opposition is clearly meant to
convince the government to make the decision it should make
for the population of Prince Edward Island. It goes without
saying that we respect the outcome of any referendum. After all,
we nationalists accepted the verdict in 1980 when Quebec's
National Assembly, which was the first one in the country to
pass legislation on such public consultations, held its
That verdict was not favourable to us, but in a democracy, win
or lose, you must accept the decision of a public vote.
Consequently, we accept the decision made by the people of
Prince Edward Island. In the next few years, when Quebec holds
a referendum to democratically decide its future, I hope that the
hon. member, as well as all the members opposite, will accept
the result of that democratic process.
Mr. Fillion: Madam Speaker-
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): We are not going to have
a debate between two members of the same party. Do you have a
Mr. Gilbert Fillion (Chicoutimi): Madam Speaker, I will
make a brief comment since I realize the time for questions and
comments is about to expire.
I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary to consider the
questions I raised in my speech. I do not want to turn this into a
nationalist debate. I am sure that the Department of Public
Works will look at each of these issues and try to deal with them,
and that a special committee of the House will be appointed to
monitor the entire project.
* * *
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Secretary of State
Madam Speaker, I wish to confirm
what the government House leader announced last Thursday,
that tomorrow, February 16, will be an allotted day. The Order
Paper will reflect this designation.
* * *
The House resumed consideration of the motion.
Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport): Madam Speaker, to
improve the movement of people to and from beautiful Prince
Edward Island it seems to me there is an alternative which is
safer, environmentally preferable and less expensive than the
proposed bridge. It is an alternative that would create more jobs
in the long term. That alternative is an improved ferry service.
Let me outline the advantages of improving the ferry service
versus building a bridge 14 kilometres long which in winter and
early spring would mean keeping a passage open under very
difficult climatic conditions.
An improved ferry service would cost an estimated $36
million a year. That includes the continual replacement of
vessels and building a capital fund for making the ferry
replacement fund sustainable.
By contrast, the proposed bridge would cost $42 million a
year for 35 years which, if my mathematics are correct, would
amount to $1.47 billion. The difference between the two
approaches amounts to a saving of some $210 million over 35
years in favour of the improved ferry service.
Also there is the question of additional road construction. The
improved ferry service will not require such expenditures.
However, by contrast, the bridge will require an expenditure of
some $41 million. That is another saving amounting to $41
Then there is the compensation to the towns of Borden and
Cape Tormentine. The improved ferry service would not require
such compensation but, by contrast, the bridge requires an
estimated $20 million for the link. The continued ferry service
does not require compensation to municipalities. This is another
saving amounting to the $20 million I just mentioned.
If we add all these items the ferry option would result in
saving some $271 million without taking into account cost
overruns estimated to be as high as $550 million and without
taking into account unemployment insurance plus training and
relocation of ferry workers for an estimated total of some $25
Having compared the financial aspect let me briefly compare
the question of jobs. During the next 35 years, in the case of the
improved ferry system there are likely to be some 8,200 person
years in jobs that could be created in the form of refitting and
building new ferries. By contrast, during that same period the
bridge would generate only 2,400 person years in terms of
After the 35-year period and once the bridge has been
completed the job picture would be as follows. The improved
ferry service would provide an estimated 400 year-round jobs
and an additional 325 summer operating jobs. These figures
were provided by the union. By contrast, the bridge after
completion would provide only an estimated 60 to 80 operating
jobs. In essence the emerging employment picture is very much
in favour of the improved ferries alternative because it would
provide more jobs than the proposed bridge, namely 5,800 more
person years during the next 35 years, an estimated 340 more
jobs in winter and an estimated 645 more jobs thereafter in
On the democratic process used in arriving at the decision to
build the bridge, the public was consulted on a link which many
understood to mean a tunnel or a bridge. A consultation on the
construction of the bridge did not take place. Actually my
understanding is that the vote on this consultation was
considerably close: 51 per cent voted in favour, 46 per cent
voted for the improved ferry service, and 3 per cent expressed
an undecided position.
Before concluding it is important to make a brief reference to
studies related to environmental impacts. The studies that have
been quoted and used were conducted by the proposing
department, namely the Department of Public Works. When an
environmental assessment panel was formed and reported it
recommended against the idea of the bridge. Its
recommendations were disregarded.
Those of us here today who believe in the increasing
importance of environmental impact assessment believe it
incumbent that at least a panel be appointed to examine the
whole proposal again, to point out the weaknesses of the bridge
and to determine whether the feasibility of the proposal is such
to warrant it proceeding.
What worries me considerably about this proposal is what
will happen 35 years after the completion of the construction of
the bridge when the private consortium will retire and the bridge
will become public property. Obviously the structure will be
eroded; salt water has that effect. The public will inherit a
structure to maintain which most likely will require
considerable repairs, and that after the public having spent or
invested some $1.47 billion over the next 35 years for the
construction of the bridge. A corroded structure is what the next
generation of politicians and decision makers is likely to inherit
and what the Canadian public is likely to have to cope with.
For all these reasons I believe the alternative of an improved
ferry system would be more desirable and in the public interest.
Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly): Madam Speaker, I get the
feeling that the party to which I belong caught the government
party by surprise in deciding to support the amendment before
the House today. I get the feeling that the government party was
counting on the opposition of the Bloc Quebecois, and possibly
even that of the Reform Party, to withdraw a proposal that it did
not care greatly for. The comments of the hon. member who just
spoke lead me to believe this is so.
I think the government party, the Liberal Party, made
promises to Maritimers, particularly to the residents of Prince
Edward Island, in an attempt to win votes, 125,000 votes to be
exact, not an insignificant number. In making this promise they
were hoping that the other parties in the House would not
support them. I think they were caught a little off guard when we
supported them. I would like to ask the hon. member who just
spoke if he was trying to extricate himself from this matter
honourably by recommending a ferry when his party, his
minister and the minister's parliamentary secretary all seem to
favour a fixed crossing. I wonder if the government party could
opposition if it wants a bridge, yes or no? We are not sure any
Mr. Caccia: Madam Speaker, I am surprised that the hon.
member feels somewhat confused or does not understand that
the Liberal Party, in keeping with a tradition of allowing
freedom of thought and opinion, has agreed to an open, honest
debate on an issue of public importance such as this one. I would
hope that the same spirit of openness prevails within his party.
Certain members of the Bloc, notably the distinguished
environment critic, had the opportunity and were able to express
their opinion freely this afternoon, particularly on such issues as
sustainable development and environmental protection.
I listened with a great deal of interest to the hon. member
whose position is similar, if you will, to my own. The views he
has expressed will enrich the debate taking place in the House
Mr. René Laurin (Joliette): Madam Speaker, this will be a
brief comment, just to tell the member of the government party:
good for them if they are free to express themselves without
necessarily following the party line. However, within the Bloc
Quebecois, we had a consensus before the election. We knew
beforehand on what we agreed and disagreed. We solved our
problems before; then when we came here, we came as a bloc
and today we think as a bloc.
So if the party in power had thought about it before, perhaps
you could have made promises that would have seemed more
sincere to your constituents and today you would not need to
Mr. Caccia: I am not aware that in the programs of the Bloc
Quebecois before the election, all members of the party had
taken a position in favour of building the bridge. But if such a
position was indeed taken, I would be very glad to see it, if the
member wants to show it to me one of these days.
Mr. John English (Parliamentary Secretary to President of
the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of
Intergovernmental Affairs): Madam Speaker, I am speaking
today in support of this resolution not because I am following
the party line. However I listened with great interest to the
remarks of my colleagues. It is an indication our party is willing
to accept a diversity of viewpoint. I am not affected in my
decision because I sit beside the hon. member for Halifax and
the hon. member for Egmont who are speaking strongly in
support of the resolution.
What we have heard today in the debate reflects a very good
argument for the fixed link and for the constitutional
amendment. In terms of jobs we have heard that the proposal
will create 5,300 jobs over a period of three years. Moreover, we
have heard that 70 per cent of procurement requirements will be
filled in Atlantic Canada.
We have also heard that tourism will be increased-and I say
in respect to my colleague from Davenport that tourism should
be considered in this respect-by about 30 per cent during the
period of the bridge construction and about 25 per cent
thereafter. This is a significant economic stimulus for a province
and an area which has suffered greatly in the past decades.
One of the members opposite mentioned that the project was
supported by a plebiscite in 1988, six years ago. We have also
heard requests for consultation. Surely six years and 80 public
meetings is adequate consultation.
We heard other members from Prince Edward Island,
including the member for Egmont, say there are waiting times of
three to five hours for the ferries. It affects transportation to the
island. We also heard the hon. member for Halifax describe how
she had to party for seven hours on a ferry that could not get
across the water.
These are all impressive arguments which have convinced me
without question that this proposition should be supported.
I come from the province of Ontario as do many other
members on this side. My province through its support of the
general revenue will support this project. I have heard several
comments today which made me think that in this kind of basic
proposition where we share responsibilities, it is not always
Someone suggested this particular project affected all parts of
Canada because of its need for constitutional amendment and
the general revenues of Canada would be used and therefore it
should be subject to the interests of all of Canada. That member
who comes from the province of British Columbia should recall
there have been many items of this kind in the past, including a
case in the province of British Columbia.
When British Columbia entered Confederation there was an
agreement in the terms of union for British Columbia that a
railway would be built with subsidies amounting to $50 million,
enormous sums at that time equal to the total general revenue of
Canada. That is in the Constitution, just of course as the ferries
were in 1873.
We have an obligation along these same lines. When a
constitutional amendment which so clearly affects a single
province or two provinces in this case, for the sake of the
efficiency of the Constitution such bilateral amendments should
proceed without requiring even more protracted consultation or
negotiation in the constitutional realm.
The people of Prince Edward Island have waited a long time
for a bridge. We heard from one hon. member earlier that it was
over 100 years ago in the 1880s when a fixed link of a certain
kind was first proposed. It was again proposed in the 1950s and
1960s. In those cases it did not come to fruition. Many other
things did in that period, including the CPR and the
transcontinental railways. It would seem they were not in the
best interests of Prince Edward Island.
If Prince Edward Island has 138,000 people as someone
referred to earlier, that is a population larger than that of the
province of Saskatchewan or part of the Northwest Territories
when the commitment was made to build the CPR or the Grand
Trunk Pacific or other railways.
I do not think it stands simply because the population is of the
order of 130,000 that this is an enclave and that long term
commitments this country has made to that wonderful island
should not be honoured in the most modern ways possible. It
seems to me this is a very modern way of recognizing the
commitment we made to maintain a
communication-transportation link with Prince Edward Island.
This morning I toured the Department of External Affairs and
saw the communications system it is replacing at very great
cost. I was reminded by the person leading the tour that this
simply has to be done. It is essential because the link with the
rest of the world has to be as modern as possible. Here too we
have no choice. Indeed we have a greater obligation, a moral
obligation to go through with this project.
In summary this fixed link will provide a stimulus to the
economy of the province that currently requires the largest
amount of federal government subsidy per capita. It will create
jobs. It will give an economic boost in procurement, in direct
jobs and in long term tourism jobs.
We all know about Prince Edward Island from Anne of Green
Gables. All of us should have the benefit of visiting that
wonderful and unique part of Canada. In the case of tourism this
country is running a deficit on the current account of about $10
billion. This is an extraordinarily large deficit, one that costs us
enormously over the long term. Prince Edward Island is one part
of Canada where tourism has been successful. With this bridge it
will be even more successful.
For that reason I believe the project taken in the longest
term-and here I dissent from the view of my colleague from
Davenport-is economically sensible and feasible. The benefits
will be indirect and long term but they are important to the
people of Prince Edward Island.
As some hon. members have pointed out, the subsidy will be
larger than the current one, but it would be no more than the cost
of replacing the ferries.
Finally, it is important to carry out the long term
commitments that have been made to Prince Edward Island to
link that part of Canada with this part in the most modern and
efficient way possible. It seems to me this proposal meets those
Mr. Jake E. Hoeppner (Lisgar-Marquette): Madam
Speaker, I am very interested in the comments the hon. member
made about efficiency. I wonder if he is aware that water freight
is ten times as efficient as truck or highway. Where is the cost of
efficiency coming from by moving products from the island to
Has the member done any cost study on how much extra will
be spent in moving produce from the island to the mainland?
Mr. English: Madam Speaker, I have not done any studies but
I am aware that water transportation is much cheaper for much
longer distances. However I would say that anyone who has
waited for a ferry as opposed to crossing a bridge knows one is a
great deal easier and more efficient than the other.
We heard personal accounts from some hon. members who
have had to wait for ferries. We heard about the three to five hour
waits and other complaints about the ferry service. Currently it
is not efficient. I do not think we are living up to our obligation
that was first made in 1873 and has been made several times
Mr. Lee Morrison (Swift Current-Maple
Creek-Assiniboia): Madam Speaker, the hon. member made
reference to the inconvenience of waiting for ferries. I have
waited for lots of ferries. I have also waited for bridges to be
opened when they were closed because of the weather. It did not
make any difference. It was just as inconvenient and just as
uncomfortable waiting for one as waiting for the other.
The hon. member made reference to tourism. If this is going
to be such a boon to tourism, I wonder why tourism operators on
the island are campaigning to keep the Caribou Point ferry
operating even if the bridge is built. They believe the tourists
want tourism. They do not want just to get from point a to point b
like a load of Prince Edward Island potatoes going to market;
they enjoy the ferry. That was actually brought to my attention
by a study done by a noted economist from the maritimes, Dr.
Peter Townley from Acadia University who has panned this
monument to vanity at every opportunity.
Mr. English: Madam Speaker, I too have waited for ferries
and have waited to cross bridges. However, studies in this case
have indicated that it is more efficient.
On the question of tourism, while it may be true that in
specific places there may be some thought that a ferry crossing
is a tourist event of some significance, one does not, to quote the
hon. member's words, feel like a sack of potatoes on a ferry. I
would think the majority of tourists would dissent from that
It certainly seems to be true that the people of Prince Edward
Island dissent from that view. There will be more tourism. There
will be more economic activity. All of the studies seem to
confirm that view. The people of Prince Edward Island
expressed that view in the plebiscite.
In that respect the hon. member may have a particular case,
but it is not the general case.
Mr. Elwin Hermanson (Kindersley-Lloydminster):
Madam Speaker, it is indeed a privilege to participate in this
debate on the amendment to the Canadian Constitution as it
relates to the Prince Edward Island terms of union.
I have had two occasions to visit Prince Edward Island. My
stays were not long enough. The first time I arrived by air and
the second time I arrived on the island by ferry.
The island is beautiful. The residents of Prince Edward Island
have much to be proud of. There are a lot of farmers on the
island. Earlier we heard from the hon. member for Malpeque
whom I notice has the same problem as I do in that he forgets to
button up his jacket when he is speaking before the House. It
must be a weakness of those of us who have earned our living by
farming. I would also just mention that the best bowl of clam
chowder I have ever had was in Charlottetown, Prince Edward
I am not opposed to Charlottetown. I am not opposed to Prince
Edward Island. I am not opposed to building and I am not even
opposed to this project in principle. However I believe it is time
to look at the process, to look at cost and to assess whether this is
the right decision for Canada at this time.
Some constitutional issues have been brought forward by
other speakers, particularly from our caucus. I totally concur
with the member for Calgary West who questioned why this was
such an important issue but Senate reform had to be put on the
Senate reform seems to be taboo in the House as far as the
government is concerned, while amendments to the Constitution
that affect Prince Edward Island, that have affected New
Brunswick in relation to language laws in the last Parliament
seem to be no problem whatsoever. The discussion on property
rights in this House seems to be taboo and cannot be brought
forward. However the principle of aboriginal self-government
seems to be quite appropriate and has been discussed at length in
I do not want to dwell on constitutional issues. I believe the
fiscal crunch facing Canada is the priority for most Canadians. I
would like to make my address primarily on the fiscal aspects of
this project and the priorization we as Canadians and we as
members of Parliament need to expose ourselves to.
Megaprojects are wonderful. They grab headlines. A
megaproject was completed in my riding. It had been promised
for many elections before it was completed. Finally in the 1988
election it was promised and actually was completed, at
considerably more cost than was projected I might add. In fact
governments have been trying to opt out of funding this
megaproject because they were not able to meet the estimated
cost of the project. However megaprojects do grab headlines.
They are vote getters and attention getters.
Unfortunately tax relief for the middle class does not seem to
be as popular. It does not seem to get the headlines. Therefore
politicians and governments tend to forget about that aspect
when projecting the business of this House and introducing
orders and bills.
A few thousand very costly jobs seem to be quite an attention
getter. From what I am able to determine the cost of each job
created, and these are just temporary jobs by the way, is
approximately $310,000 per person year. That is a pretty rich
plan if you ask me.
However long term low unemployment as a strategy does not
seem to be attainable by this government. It seems to be a much
lower priority. Oftentimes it seems to be forgotten. We all know
that the private sector is the job creator and the way to create
jobs is to reduce the tax burden on our private and small
businesses so they can generate jobs and lower the
unemployment situation which is intolerably high.
Hibernia is another megaproject-no problem. As an
attention getter, a vote buyer it is going ahead. However, can we
put a cap on federal spending? No, that is just unreasonable. We
have to forget that.
I believe it is time that the government laid out in frank terms
its priorities to all Canadians. We have had a lot of motherhood
and apple pie stuff. A lot of it is in the famous red book. The
naked truth is that as a nation we are over $500 billion in debt.
That is over half a trillion dollars in debt and it is not a time
when we can say we would like to do this or that. Rather, it is a
time of deciding what we must do to maintain a reasonable
standard of living and pass on a heritage to our children of which
they can be truly proud.
It is time that we as leaders of our country must listen to
Canadians to find out what their priorities are and then try to
represent those priorities in this House in the legislation we
support and in the decisions we make.
For the past few years Reformers have been listening very
closely to Canadians to try to determine what those priorities
might be. We think we have come pretty close to sensing what
Canadians feel is important and what they would be prepared to
see go by the way, at least for the time being. After all, I would
remind this House that our caucus has grown from one member
to 52. That was no small feat and no accident. It came from
listening to Canadians and accurately representing their
concerns in the election and we are responsible to also represent
those concerns in this House.
Let me presume that the priorities of Canadians are also the
priorities of Canadians on Prince Edward Island. I know that my
comments do not remain in this assembly. The people of Prince
Edward Island are watching me. I am not concerned about that
because I think the aspirations of the people of Prince Edward
Island are not that different than the aspirations of most
Canadians. I want to talk about the priorities that I believe are
the priorities of the residents of Prince Edward Island.
I know that most Canadians place a high priority on health
care. I would just like to relate a little about what is happening in
my own province of Saskatchewan. We had governments that
liked to build monuments, that liked to build hospitals. We
probably have more hospitals per capita in our province than in
any other part of Canada. Unfortunately, we now have no money
to operate those hospitals. Our priorities were probably wrong.
In fact, I am sure they were wrong.
I wonder if the residents of Prince Edward Island would trade
away their health care system to have a bridge to the mainland. It
is an interesting thought and I have not heard that thought being
represented by members on the opposite side.
Also, there is concern for the need for funding of ongoing
education, particularly post-secondary education. It is
important for young people in every province of Canada,
including Prince Edward Island.
Do we want to build a bridge for the young people of Prince
Edward Island so they can drive across that bridge and go into
the United States to find quality post-secondary education? Or
are we going to place a high priority on education within our
own country even if it means not expending funds to build a
bridge from New Brunswick to the island?
I think of quality of life for our senior citizens. I would like to
ask senior citizens if they would be prepared to trade their
Canada pension plan for a bridge or financial security in
retirement years for another megaproject. These are the types of
decision, the types of priorities we need to weigh in our minds.
Being a small business person, a farmer, I have to weigh the
benefits of seeing megaprojects go forward or seeing a tax
structure which I can live and prosper within and make
reasonable profits for my business.
Canada is facing this fiscal crisis and if we as individuals
were in exactly the same situation we would be very prudent to
make wise decisions. Unfortunately, governments do not always
makes those types of wise decisions. Quite often they are
thinking about buying a yacht rather than keeping up with the
mortgage payments. As the Canadian government, we must not
only maintain the mortgage payments but we need to reduce the
deficit so that the mortgage does not become totally
That deficit and that debt also affect the residents of Prince
Edward Island and I am sure that if they have a bridge that the
country cannot afford to maintain, if they have an economy that
does not justify the use of that facility, it will be a sorry day and a
difficult thing to explain to future generations.
These are types of illustrations that we as Canadians need to
hear if we are going to make wise decisions. We do not want the
International Monetary Fund making those decisions for us. We
do not want it lowering our credit rating, increasing the cost of
borrowing all these dollars that we need if governments are
going to continue funding megaprojects when we are past the
half-trillion dollar bench mark.
I do not want to carry on too much longer in sort of a gloom
and doom approach. I do not think it is time to be down on
ourselves but I do believe it is time to make wise decisions as
As Reformers we talked to Canadians and said that we feel
governments have to cut spending and one area is megaprojects.
We received broad support for that position right across the
country. Even in Atlantic Canada we received quite a bit of
support even though we were fairly new and unknown in that
part of the country.
We preached the same message of fiscal responsibility, of
placing our priorities on the things that are really important such
as health and education, care for our seniors and hope for our
We do not want to erode our reputation of being a country with
a high standard of living, one that properly cares for its citizens
and one that meets the most important needs of Canadians.
Mr. Len Taylor (The Battlefords-Meadow Lake): Madam
Speaker, I very much appreciate the opportunity to be able to
enter the debate here today on this important resolution of the
House, an amendment to the Constitution of Canada relating to
Prince Edward Island's terms of union.
It will allow for a fixed crossing joining the island to the
mainland. For greater certainty, as I quote from the motion
before the House, nothing prevents the imposition of tolls for
the use of such a fixed crossing between the island and the
mainland, or the private operation of such a crossing.
The debate today is of great interest to me for several reasons,
one of which is that I have a great affinity for the island, an
affinity that goes back to several visits I have made to the island,
several by ferry and several by air. The people of Prince Edward
Island are very kind and generous who care an awful lot not only
about their own island but about Confederation and about this
All members of this House recognize that not all islanders are
in favour of the fixed link. There are many people who have
earned their living off the water as fishers, people in the
Northumberland Strait, and also islanders who enjoy their way
of life on the farm, a good, quiet rural way of life. They are quite
satisfied with the ferry service.
I was very pleased today to be in the Chamber when the
member for Davenport spoke eloquently about the alternatives
that the government has chosen to ignore. One alternative in
particular calls for an updated ferry service that would allow for
the prevention of some of the environmental problems that the
fixed link proposes.
That is partly the other reason why I am pleased to speak
today. The whole issue of environmental assessment is one that I
have spent a great deal of time working on in the previous
Parliament and something that is of great concern to me.
The member for Davenport spoke about the need to take into
account what environmental assessment means when
considering the future of major projects that will be discussed
and taken care of in our country.
We have many major projects under way in this country that
have not been subjected to environmental assessments and
others that when they have been assessed under strict
environmental guidelines have been found to be substantially
The point that I will come to very shortly in my remarks
concerns the failure of the previous government and now
apparently this government in dealing with this process of
instituting an environmental assessment process that will ensure
that we have an adequate response to the needs of the
environment on projects such as the Northumberland Strait
I hesitate to mention the name of the previous Prime Minister
in this place. Bill C-110, the act respecting the Northumberland
crossing, an act debated in this House in June of last year and
passed by this Chamber, was really one of the very last acts of
the previous government before it adjourned for the summer
recess that eventually ended up in a federal election and the
election of a new government.
The record of the previous government on the environment
left a tremendous amount to be desired. I am quite surprised that
the new government would pick up exactly where the old
government left off, especially on a project in which the one
single federal environmental assessment review of a general
nature on this project called for the shutdown of this particular
project, the bridge. I will come to more of that in just a second.
I want to acknowledge that I believe something has to be done
with regard to the access to Prince Edward Island, to improve
the access to and from the island for products, for tourists and
When Bill C-110 was in the House, an act respecting the
Northumberland crossing that gave the go ahead to proceed with
the construction prior to this constitutional change, the debate in
the House was characterized by Mr. Jim Fulton, then the
member from Skeena, who had quite a number of things to say.
I would like to reiterate for the benefit of the House some of
the things that Mr. Fulton had to say. Mr. Fulton was a long time
environment critic for the New Democratic Party. As such, Mr.
Fulton served our party and our nation very well. This speech on
Bill C-110 at the time was almost Mr. Fulton's last intervention
in this House prior to his retirement. One could tell from the way
he approached this issue how important it was to him and how
important he thought the environmental assessment process was
to this country.
As I had previously stated and argued very strongly at the
time, the bridge was never assessed by a public panel. All of the
studies that the government has talked about, the 90 or 91
studies, were done in a sense by vested interests in the
Northumberland Strait and in the bridge construction. The
environmental assessment review process that I have supported
very strongly in the development of a new Canadian
environmental assessment act would require independently
financed environmental assessment for projects such as this.
Mr. Fulton referred to the bridge never having been assessed
by a public panel. As I indicated a few minutes ago, when the
environmental assessment review office took a look at a general
concept of it the generic bridge concept was turned down.
The Federal Court ordered that there be no irrevocable
decisions by government until the provisions of the
environmental assessment review process had been met.
Members will recall that prior thereto EARP had also been
avoided in the Kemano project. The Federal Court also found
that in the Kemano II project the government had acted both
unconstitutionally. We had hoped to avoid that situation with the
Northumberland link project. Of course that has not happened.
I want to raise as well, thanks to some of the notes Mr. Fulton
set out in the Chamber in June, the case of the Oldman River
dam. When we look at that project who do we find there but SCI,
the very same company involved with the fixed link. When it
came to damming the Oldman River, SCI joined with the
Government of Alberta and the federal Conservative Party at the
time in fighting against the public every step of the way until the
highest court in the land eventually had to rule that there must be
an environmental assessment of that project.
When the assessment took place it ordered that the dam be
taken down, that it was neither economically nor
environmentally sound. The same company that did not believe
in an environmental assessment process in that case has not been
participating in a public environmental assessment process on
the Northumberland Strait.
I am quite concerned about this matter. As the member for
Davenport talked about earlier, the environment assessment
review process is something that must be taken extremely
seriously as we look at all projects in the future. It is a process in
which we have to develop some confidence, or the projects we
have to deal with will constantly come under pressure from the
public. Their ability to serve the interests of the public will be
held in jeopardy.
Before closing I would like to put on record what I think must
be involved in a good environmental assessment process. I
simply want to indicate I do not think we are being well served
today to accept this constitutional amendment with so many
questions having been raised about the project, particularly on
the environmental side. Members of all parties today have
raised some of those concerns. None of them, other than the
member for Davenport, have really expressed them in such a
way that we should not proceed with the project but should carry
Again I would like to quote former member Mr. Fulton who on
June 15 said:
Until Canadians are assured of what are the impacts of the bridge, if those
impacts can be mitigated and if they can be mitigated what the costs are, we
cannot start seriously and intelligently addressing it. Instead what we are seeing
is the government shoving the project through the House, Prince Edward Island
squeezing a constitutional amendment through, and SCI out there with its hand
These are very important words to consider during the process
of consideration of the constitutional amendment today.
The ideal environmental assessment process in Canada has to
take into account many factors. Ideally the environmental
assessment process should incorporate some of the following
principles. I stressed once already that the assessment should be
done by an independent agency free from political pressure or
influence peddling. The decision should be final and binding.
It really does not strike me as unusual, but it is indicative of
what is happening that a constitutional amendment dealing with
a structure affecting the environment and others is introduced in
the Chamber by the minister of public works whose department
has most influence over the project and specifically wants the
project to be completed.
If anything, the project should be viewed as an environmental
project as opposed to an economic one. The government should
not be treating it as another economic project.
If we wish to create jobs in Prince Edward Island or northern
Saskatchewan, we could find all sorts of things to do just by
throwing some money out there and ensuring that it is done. The
Prince Edward Island link bridge must be tied into the
environment, the economy of the area, the needs of the
community, and those types of things.
The assessment of the environment is a very key and
important part of whether or not this project should proceed. An
independent agency, free from political pressure and influence
peddling, should be where the decisions are made. It should not
be made by consultants who are paid by the proponent of a
project to make the project appear to be environmentally
There should also be a very broad definition of the
environment applying universally to quite a variety of
initiatives. The government has yet to proclaim the
environmental assessment act. I am waiting very patiently for
the Minister of the Environment to bring a new environmental
assessment act into the Chamber with the amendments
suggested in the previous House by the member for Davenport,
members of the other parties, and myself dealing with these
matters. The definition of environmental effect was expanded in
the last bill to include health and socioeconomic conditions. We
must ensure that kind of assessment is also done on projects
similar to the fixed link.
Environmental effect can also take into account physical and
cultural heritage and current uses of lands and resources for
traditional reasons by aboriginal people in Canada. The recent
Supreme Court decision on the Oldman dam assists in
strengthening the definition of the environment to include the
The environmental assessment process should also extend the
policy and programs. When the Department of Public Works
wants to proceed with a project and undertakes to proceed with
it, the policy which guides it should assess the environmental
rules as well. This is something on which the previous
government refused to budge. I am hoping that under the new
legislation to be brought in by the new government the new
will budge on this one and ensure that policies and programs are
covered under the process.
The decision maker discretion should be minimized and
accountability should be ensured. In the environmental
assessment process and in building confidence among the public
we cannot be seen as having a strong environmental assessment
process on the one hand and then later an unaccountable
decision making process which can ignore the whole exercise
that has gone on before it.
New Democrat amendments in the previous Parliament to Bill
C-13 went quite far to improve this and remove the tremendous
amount of discretion in the previous bill where the minister or
responsible authorities were only bound to act when they were
``of the opinion that damage to the environment might occur''.
That discretion for the most part has now been removed and
assessment or action must be taken if a project or undertaking
may cause significant negative environmental effects.
This now has to be tested in court, but it goes a long way to
closing a loophole under the guidelines which was used in the
bridge project assessment and open to industry to influence
Proponents should justify the purpose and the need of the
project. Alternatives should be considered as part of the
assessment process. What was never considered in this process
was improvement to the existing ferry system. There is an
alternative view to what could be taking place here: an injection
of funds and a maintenance of existing jobs. The assessment
process that existed on this particular project did not take those
into account. A new environmental assessment bill should
ensure that we deal with this sort of thing.
I also believe very strongly there should be a significant
public role early and often throughout the process, including
participant funding and notice. I will admit and agree there has
been a lot of debate on Prince Edward Island about the
Northumberland Strait and the bridge, and perhaps even the
tunnel the member for Malpeque earlier indicated he originally
supported. There is no question at all that the whole matter of
public debate over projects like this one is very important. The
key thing in all this is that the debate has hinged on economic
issues, not on environmental issues.
We have been forced to gloss over the environmental issues in
the particular debate and not to make our decisions on
environmental issues but on economic ones because the
government and the proponents have constantly said: ``Don't
worry about the environmental things. Our studies indicate that
environmental matters are not important''.
Yet the one federal panel that looked at it in general terms
said: ``Turn it down. Don't accept it. Do something else''. Many
of the questions raised in the House today were of an
environmental nature. They have still not been answered to the
satisfaction of the people most concerned about it. A full and
public debate is important but it has to include all issues
surrounding the project.
I feel very strongly about the environmental assessment
process and what it means for Canada. I also feel very strongly
about the lack of an environmental assessment process on the
Northumberland link project. I feel very unhappy the
government has chosen not to move quickly on a new
environmental assessment process. It would have avoided a lot
of problems in dealing with the issue before us today.
Madam Speaker, I thank you very much for your time and
attention today. I certainly wish all members well in their
deliberations on this amendment.
Hon. Audrey McLaughlin (Yukon): Madam Speaker, my
colleague has raised a number of very pertinent questions on this
issue. He has pointed out that the new Liberal government has
chosen simply to follow the policies of the previous
Conservative government. I guess many Canadians will be
asking: ``What's new?''
He raised a very good point with regard to the environment.
Much of the debate in Prince Edward Island on the fixed link
was linked to environmental issues. I know my colleague has
been very involved in studying these issues. Is it not now time,
as part of the environmental process he described, to look at a
new form of what is often called green accounting? In other
words should we not look at projects in a way that takes into
account other factors than cost, funding and financing? What
about the effects on health, the effects on the environment and
other ancillary effects of any project undertaken that can result
in additional costs to the public, if not well thought through?
What does my colleague think of the idea of a new form of
accounting around major projects like this one? Does he support
Mr. Taylor: Madam Speaker, I appreciate very much the
question from the member for Yukon who has supported me in
many of my efforts on environmental issues and for whom I
know the environment is very important. Her comments about a
green economy are not only important but most timely. I am
very glad she raised them and I am very happy to have the
opportunity to discuss them for a moment in the Chamber.
For all too long we have talked about sustainable development
with the focus on the word development and not enough focus on
sustainability of what it is that we are doing. There is nothing
more important in any government decision making than the
concept of sustainability. If we are spending money on any
project whatsoever, the long-term accountability of the project
not only to the people but to the planet must be a very important
part of our consideration.
On the new idea of a green economy I attended a conference a
few weeks ago in which the original discussion was around
green industries and how we in Canada can develop the
technology, the skill and the ability to deal with the new green
industries in our country. Very soon the participants in that
conference shifted from individual specific industries to the
entire economy. They began talking about a green economy in
which decisions are made on the sustainability of our actions,
the sustainability of our decision making.
Development is not an infinite quantity. Development is
something that has a finite level to it. We have to be able to
recognize that level and work within it. We have discovered that
unfortunately on the Atlantic coast with our cod fishery.
We are seeing it in the forests of northern Alberta,
Saskatchewan, British Columbia where we are not dealing with
the accountability of our decision-making on the sustainability
of our efforts. We work ourselves right out of the ability to
continue to work in that field. As parliamentarians we have to
start considering green economies within our decision-making
I had a chat this afternoon with the chair of the environment
committee and I suggested that one of the studies the
environment committee should be making is on the whole
concept of greening our economy, about how to tie economic
decision-making to long-term sustainability in the
environment. The chair of the environment committee
responded very positively to me in the context of the response to
the environmental conference in Rio where they did talk about
the need for revitalizing the global economy based on
environmental decision-making. There may be the opportunity
to begin that discussion in Canada and actually carry it on into
the economic powers of the country and not just from the
I thank the hon. member for her question. It was most
important and most timely.
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg Transcona): Madam Speaker, I
have a question for the hon. member for The
Battlefords-Meadow Lake but first of all I have a comment.
One of the ironies, given the environmental dimensions of
this question, is that in the throne speech we heard from the
government about its intention to build a green infrastructure. I
wonder whether this is what it had in mind when it was talking
about green infrastructure. It is certainly not incontestable. In
fact it is quite debatable and arguable whether this motion and
the megaproject it will bring about is in fact green
I would have thought it would have been much more wise on
the part of the government if it is serious about green
infrastructure, and this is a point I make over and over again, to
invest money in rebuilding our rail system rather than allowing
CN and the CP to collaborate in ways to continue the
dismantling and downsizing of our rail system. That is the real
green infrastructure as far as I am concerned.
It pains me to hear talk about green infrastructure at the same
time as we allow projects such as this to go ahead and as we
allow our railways to deteriorate.
If we are serious about greenhouse gas emissions, if we are
serious about putting less hydrocarbons into the air then we
should be serious about reregulating our transportation system
so as to give a bias to rail. Right now there is a bias against rail.
At the very least we could make it neutral.
I would prefer a bias for rail because to me that would be a
bias for the environment. The government has got to stop letting
the railways react to the effects of deregulation. It has to start
saying that deregulation has not worked, let us reregulate. I do
not care what you call it. The former Conservative Minister of
Transport did not want to reregulate. He wanted to recalibrate.
That is fine. I do not care whether it is called calibration,
regulation, ostentation, you name it, as long as we get back to a
system where we are creating more rail traffic and we are taking
these trucks that look more and more like trains all the time off
the road. There are trucks on the road that look more and more
like trains all the time. They will probably want to go over this
causeway once it is built, just to get back to the motion.
The time has come for us to build real green infrastructure. I
would love to hear the member for The Battlefords-Meadow
Lake comment on all of this.
Mr. Taylor: Madam Speaker, I only need a minute to tell the
hon. member that I agree entirely with everything he had to say.
He put it very eloquently.
As a matter of fact I have a great bias toward rail myself. I
want to pass on to the House an illustration of what the hon.
member is talking about. My mother-in-law has worked for a
trucking company for most of her life. She has stuck on her
fridge with nice little truck fridge magnets a cartoon of a train
stopped at a railway crossing while a truck goes by pulling car
after car after car of product. The train had to stop to allow the
trucks to go by.
The government's infrastructure program which talks about
roads, sewer and water is good in the sense of what it is
covering. However there is not a single dollar going to rail out of
the government's infrastructure program and I think that is a
tremendously sad oversight.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Is it the pleasure of the
House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): All those in favour of
the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): All those opposed will
please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): In my opinion the yeas
And more than five members having risen:
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Call in the members.
And the division bells having rung:
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Patry):
At the request of the chief
government whip, the division is deferred until 6.30 p.m.
(The sitting of the House was suspended at 6.26 p.m.)
The House resumed at 6.30 p.m.
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38
deemed to have been moved.
Mr. Nelson Riis (Kamloops):
Madam Speaker, I am pleased
to participate in this debate on the underground economy and the
recognition that Canadians generally have lost faith in our tax
system. Somewhere between $60 billion and $100 billion in
business transactions now take place beneath the surface in a
My question to the minister the other day was whether or not
the government was taking any definitive action to encourage
those people who now want to move their operations above
ground and become legitimate players in the marketplace. Also
to what extent would the government introduce programs that
would encourage that to occur.
What is it about the tax system that has upset people? What is
it about the tax system that has discouraged people who are hard
working, who are running their businesses or going off to the
mills or the mines, the farmers, the fishermen? It can be summed
up in the interpretation bulletin IT-518 from Revenue Canada.
This was sent recently to various businesses and individuals. It
gives clues on all the things one can use as a tax deduction,
legitimately to be fair, within the tax system, particularly when
it comes to entertainment.
For example, this is not an exhaustive list but entertainment
includes tickets for theatres, concerts, athletic events, or
whatever the performance might be. Renting or leasing a private
box at the sports facility and buying champagne for friends is all
tax deductible. Renting hotel rooms to have a party and entertain
people is deductible. Buying liquor for a hospitality suite of
course is tax deductible. Taking a cruise in the Caribbean, the
South Pacific or to Greece is tax deductible. Taking friends to a
fashion show is also tax deductible. I guess people want to learn
how to dress more modernly and so on.
If you want to take your guest to a nightclub, Madam Speaker,
or out to a hockey game, a football game, a baseball game or
whatever; or if you want to take your friends fishing in northern
Canada, northern Quebec, British Columbia or wherever; if you
want to go hunting in northern Ontario, northern Saskatchewan
or northern Quebec, that is all tax deductible. Generally you can
say: ``Let us go on a three week vacation in Labrador and we will
discuss business''. Again that is tax deductible.
I am not saying there is necessarily anything dastardly or
terribly sinister about this. However certain people can go
fishing, hunting, camping, to the football game, or rent a room
to entertain friends and it is done with the help of the tax system.
The taxpayers generally pick up part of that tab. If one is
deducting up to 80 per cent of those costs obviously then those
who are at the hockey game watching the people up in the box
drinking champagne or whatever, who have free tickets or only
pay 20 per cent of the price, are paying their way buying hot
dogs and so on.
In closing, after reading things like this bulletin from
Revenue Canada is it any wonder that people have become
absolutely disenchanted and disappointed with a tax system that
can only be described as unjust, unfair and biased.
Mr. Dennis J. Mills (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister
of Industry): Madam Speaker, there are many things in the hon.
member's remarks that I happen to agree with. However I would
like to begin by saying we know it was the GST in the last three
years that really exacerbated the underground economy not to
mention the added paper burden for small business. Most
members would agree with that.
We have taken a stand on this side of the House to eliminate
the GST. It was announced in the finance committee the other
day that this study would begin right away. By the end of June
we will have all the possible alternatives which will be much
more fair, simple and efficient.
Recently the government showed it was serious in going on
the offensive against the underground economy by taking on the
tobacco issues. The changes in taxation were announced
eliminating financial incentives that drove the significant
subsector of the underground economy. Already there have been
some reports of reductions in the volume of tobacco being
smuggled into Canada which shows the effectiveness of that
The Department of Finance is working closely with Revenue
Canada looking for ways to streamline and simplify the system.
I also want to say we have to be careful when we loosely throw
around some of these tax deductions as being special privileges
for the wealthy. I share the member's view with the Skydome
box holders. However, with respect to tourism and fishing trips
these measures were put in to aid small business tourism
operators. If all of a sudden we were to eliminate all of those
things it would cause significant unemployment. We have to be
very careful in how we address those particular deductions. I
know the member would not want to see an adverse condition
because of a reckless tax preference cut in our tax act that would
affect an industry which he too is so proud of.
I want to acknowledge that we recognize there are some
serious flaws in the tax act of Canada. We take all of the
member's specific points today and hope to address them in the
Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin):
Madam Speaker, my topic
is really quite timely given the fact that we expected a vote a few
minutes ago and suddenly it was put off.
The other day I asked the Prime Minister when he would
announce to the House that the government would not consider
the defeat of a government motion including a spending measure
to constitute the expression of non-confidence in the
government unless it is immediately followed by a formal
motion of non-confidence.
It is time to release the members of Parliament from the iron
cage of party discipline in this country. I think that the House of
Commons is probably one of the most regimented parliamentary
systems in the world. We must not forget that we were sent here
by the people of Canada. We were sent here to represent the
views of the people of this great nation, not the wills of the
It is also time to debunk the myth that the government must
win every vote or resign. The failure of a government measure,
even a spending initiative, does not automatically have to mean
the defeat of the government.
The Prime Minister, the cabinet and the bureaucrats set policy
and dictate the course of action with the usual assurances of:
``Don't worry. We know what we are doing. We know what is
best''. The time has come to give the electorate greater say in
For too long it has been politics first. Now it is time to put
people first. How can we do this? We can loosen the chains. We
can allow for free votes in the House of Commons. If for
example a vote on a budget measure or motion was negative, it
could be sent back to committee and improved before coming
again to the House. If the government loses the non-confidence
motion that follows that motion, then it would have to resign and
call a general election. The people of Canada want more direct
democracy and I would encourage the Prime Minister to comply
with their wishes.
The Constitution provides for this. All the Prime Minister
needs to do is rise in his place and declare that the government
will not consider the defeat of a government motion including a
spending measure to constitute an expression of non-confidence
in the government unless it is immediately followed by a formal
Ms. Jean Augustine (Parliamentary Secretary to Prime
Minister): Madam Speaker, on February 2, 1994 the member
for Wetaskiwin questioned the Prime Minister on the issue of
The hon. member should realize that this government has
done more to champion the cause of House of Commons reform
in the first 100 days of its mandate than the previous government
did in nine long years.
On Monday, February 7, the government House leader placed
before this House a framework for renewal. This framework
addressed a wide range of issues this government believes will
reinstate the trust and respect that Canadians want to have in
On the subject of free votes it must be noted that this is not a
matter dealt with now by the standing orders of the House.
Instead it is a matter to be dealt with by each party and each
party's members themselves.
This is why the hon. member will note that in part VII of the
government House leader's motion there is a reference to the
Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to
examine free votes in the House of Commons and other
Therefore I ask the hon. member and his party to fully
participate in this process. I am sure he agrees with me when I
say that the task ahead is to reinforce the fundamentals of the
system and restore a more active role for all members of
Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby-Kingsway):
Speaker, on January 20, 1994 I raised a question in the House
with respect to the government's upcoming decision on the
testing of cruise missiles in Canada.
This question dealt both with the substance of the tests as well
as the credibility of the government and the promises it made
when in opposition. Although the Liberal government of 1983
had signed the first testing agreement, in opposition it took a
very different position.
The written commitment that was made during the last federal
election stated it would bring this testing program to an end. It
went on to speak about the importance of public hearings that
would involve northerners, peace groups, aboriginal peoples
What happened? There were no parliamentary hearings. In
fact there was only one northern member of Parliament who
spoke in the debate, the hon. member for Nunatsiaq. He spoke
very eloquently against the testing of cruise missiles. He
indicated that he was also speaking on behalf of his colleague,
the member for Western Arctic.
I know my colleague from the Yukon has spoken eloquently
on many occasions both in this House and outside on behalf of
her constituents in the Yukon against the testing of cruise
missiles. Of course the Reform Party was ready. It supported the
testing of cruise missiles.
I must admit that I was really shocked and disappointed by the
Bloc's position on this issue. At the same time, I was not overly
surprised because Mr. Bouchard had gone to Washington to
reassure the Americans that an independent Quebec would
remain a faithful and loyal ally, that there would be no change in
Canadian policy, that the policy would remain obedient to the
The sad thing is that today, just two hours ago, I have heard a
member of the Bloc Quebecois say: ``Now, the Bloc is thinking
as a block''. If that is the case, it is sad indeed.
Quite clearly there is no legal obligation whatsoever to
conduct these tests. In fact the minister himself said it was a
courtesy that he was extending to the United States. I suggest
there was an alternative. The alternative was to say no. There is a
foreign policy review. There is a defence review.
Let us look at strengthening multilateral institutions. Let us
look at working toward peace. Let us look at ending the tests of
low level flights over Innu lands as some Liberals have called
for on a number of occasions. Indeed today I met with Daniel
Ashini and Elizabeth Penashue from the Innu nation who talked
about the devastating impact of these tests over their lands.
Let us support the World Court project. The World Court
project is a very important project in which Canada is being
called on to join in submitting a legal brief to the International
Court of Justice making the use of nuclear weapons illegal under
Those are the kinds of alternatives that the government could
have had. Those are the kinds of alternatives that would have
meant that we had a truly independent foreign policy. In fact
retired U.S. Admiral Eugene Carroll, one of the most respected
commentators on this question, said that any decision by the
Liberal government to end the testing would be viewed as ``an
assertion of Canada's independence'' and have no negative
That is what we thought the Liberals were promising in
opposition. That is what they talked about in their red book.
Certainly that is not what they deliver.
Let us hope these tests will be the last tests and that Canada
will have an independent foreign policy based on peace and
preservation of the environment and a respect for aboriginal
peoples and northerners.
Mr. Fred Mifflin (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, when I was in opposition and asked questions of the
government I never got any answers. I can tell the hon. member
that he is going to get an answer. In fact he has answered his own
question so I really could sit down now.
However, I will say that in 1993, two months before the
election took place, the hon. member would know that the
previous government authorized these tests. They were due to
take place on January 25, 1994. After this government came to
power and while in opposition we promised a parliamentary
debate on this subject.
Mr. Robinson: Public hearings.
Mr. Mifflin: We promised a debate on this subject. When the
government was formed we had a debate on it in a reasonable
time, on January 26 as a matter of fact. Twenty-nine members
participated in the debate and 30 or so participated in question
I have to tell members that the preponderance of the debate
and the comment was in favour of testing. As a result, the
government made the decision and on February 3 announced
that the test would be authorized to continue. We expect they
will be done this month.
At the same time, the government made it clear to the United
States government that it should not presuppose any outcome of
the parliamentary debate and the public hearings on both the
defence policy and the foreign policy which will address, and
the hon. member is right, the very strong feelings still in this
country on testing. This is one of the subjects that will be
I remind the hon. member that as the quarterback
parliamentary secretary for this debate I promised to get him on
about 7.30 and in fact he got on at 7.43. I am sure he appreciated
the co-operation and the credibility of the government.
Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve):
Speaker, I would have liked the Minister of Industry to be with
us. I am sure his parliamentary secretary is very competent, but I
would have liked him to be present since I asked him a question
on the electronic highway on February 4 and the minister was
rather evasive and tight-lipped on this issue. The population is
rather concerned about this, as we do not really know where the
government is going. We are under the impression that the
Minister of Industry is not really in on it and that he has his foot
on the brakes.
The information highway is a very important issue, for it is a
great adventure that could link all Canadians with national and
international networks that could give us access to hospital and
school data banks and to all kinds of information.
It is an important issue that needs to be debated. I would have
liked to ask the minister because whenever we ask him about it
in the House, we get the impression that he leaves everything to
the private sector and that he does not intend to spend
government funds on this.
When we look at what is happening in the United States, we
can see that if Canada, which has a very good track record in the
technology, communications and telecommunications sectors,
is to enter the information highway, the minister should give
clear indications and invest money.
I was concerned to hear that he wanted to set up an advisory
committee. My concern is that this issue was examined last year
by another committee chaired by Mr. Ostry, the president of TV
Ontario, who tabled a report outlining very clearly the
legislative and regulatory measures the government must take to
build this electronic highway.
I am wondering if the minister, who is acting a little slowly on
this issue, is not trying to divert our attention by striking a new
advisory committee whose mandate is still unclear. I hope that
the parliamentary secretary will be able to tell us exactly what
this committee is supposed to do. What are the government's
intentions? Will public funds be made available? Will he be able
to gather around the same table representatives of the private,
institutional and public sectors to finally turn the information
highway into a reality?
I would like to give him a warning, Madam Speaker, since this
electronic highway could also become a very effective
instrument of centralization through its impact on education and
I hope that we can rely on the parliamentary secretary to speak
on behalf of the minister and promise this House on his honour
that, in building the electronic highway, the government will
respect areas of provincial jurisdiction and ensure that
communications linking us to Internet are also in French. I know
that is one of his concerns. Having said that, I will now let him
have the floor.
Mr. Dennis J. Mills (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister
of Industry): Madam Speaker, let me begin by saying to the
hon. member that I can assure him that the Minister of Industry
does not have his foot on the brakes on this particular issue. In
fact, it is quite the reverse. He has the pedal right to the metal, as
they say, and we are going full bore on this particular issue of the
I want to remind the House that, first of all, it was announced
in the speech from the throne that we were going to develop a
strategy for Canada's information highway. On February 2 the
secretary of state for science and technology committed the
federal government to a number of objectives and principles to
guide and develop the approach.
We talked about the advisory council because it is a very
important issue. It is a complex issue and we wanted to make
sure that the council would have a broad range of groups and
organizations that would help formulate Canada's strategy in
this particular area. Also, we want to make sure that there is
representation from not just industry but from labour, education
The council, which is in the process of being put together right
now, will be announced very soon. This council will provide
advice to the government and it is going to be active on line. I
can tell the member that this government is putting incredible
resources behind the information highway, the electronic
I can speak about our own case in which we are beginning to
put information out. In the Toronto region we are doing some
testing which will go into other regions. We are looking at ideas
for community access centres. Let me reassure the member that
this government is committed in a very serious way and will be
moving very fast. We welcome his input.
Hon. Audrey McLaughlin (Yukon):
Madam Speaker, I rise
on a question that I asked the Minister of Health on February 10,
1994 on health care and on her position on the reduction of taxes
on alcohol products which the Distillers Association of Canada
the day after the reduction of taxes on cigarettes began to
The response to that question was in effect no comment. The
response of the Minister of Health to the reduction of taxes on
cigarettes was in effect no comment. The reaction of the
Minister of Health to the proposed federal idea of taxing the
health benefits of employees was in effect no comment.
This is not good enough for the future of health care in this
country. Within the next two years we will be undertaking a very
comprehensive discussion right across the country on the future
of the health care system. It seems to me that the Minister of
Health by refusing to take a stand, including a response to my
question on her position on the reduction of taxes on alcohol, is
not being an advocate for health care in this country.
The lowering of federal tax on cigarette products clearly is
going to be a major cost to the economy. The estimates are that
over some $300 million a year will be added to the federal
deficit as a result of this and this does not account for revenues
that will be lost by provinces and territories if they too reduce
and follow that lead.
Clearly, when people are concerned about the debt and deficit
in this country this rather odd move by the government in an ad
hoc policy attempting to resolve what is clearly a very difficult
problem, that of smuggling, has created many others. We simply
do not have a Minister of Health prepared to stand up and be
clear about her philosophy about health care in this country.
We see by the most conservative estimates that the true cost of
tobacco related illnesses to the health care system in this
country is about $9.6 billion a year with indirect costs being
some $15 billion a year. Clearly, the refusal of the minister to
take a position on these issues jeopardizes the health care
system in this country.
There have been many comments on this issue. There are
many points of view on this issue. Surely Canadians can expect a
minister of health to stand up for the health of Canadians and to
be that strong advocate.
I want to assure all Canadians that the New Democratic Party
will continue to be a strong advocate for a strong health care
system in this country that meets the needs of all Canadians.
One commentator, Dalton Camp, commented that this policy
clearly was joining the Reform Party too soon.
My question to the parliamentary secretary is simply is it the
government's intention to reimburse provinces and territories
for lost revenues with this policy of reducing taxes on cigarettes
and potentially on alcohol products?
Ms. Hedy Fry (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Health): Madam Speaker, the question as the hon. member has
said is a very complex one and to try to boil it down to a
simplistic answer is impossible.
I will take on the issue first and foremost of the problem of
tobacco smuggling. When the Prime Minister stood up in this
House on February 8 and announced his national action plan on
tobacco he said very clearly that smuggling is threatening the
safety of our communities and the livelihood of law-abiding
merchants. The problem of tobacco smuggling is an
increasingly complex one because it touches on the very fabric
of our Canadian identity which is dedicated to peace, order and
good government. It touches on the safety of our communities.
It touches on respect for law and order. It also affected the
economy and, as the hon. member mentioned before, the health
Organized crime networks have been responsible for 95 per
cent of the tobacco smuggling that was going on in Canada.
They were also responsible for smuggling liquor, drugs and
firearms at the same time. Tobacco and alcohol were controlled
drugs as were firearms. We would have lost control over these
controlled substances if we had not done something
immediately to deal with that smuggling and to deal with the
smuggling of liquor.
In order to deal with the matter the government took
unprecedented action. I want to remind the hon. member that the
issue is not a new one. It has been going on for years. The past
government tended to ignore it and to pretend it did not occur.
We took immediate unprecedented action. We increased the
number of RCMP and customs officials dedicated to fighting
tobacco smuggling. They are using new strategies. They are
accompanying these resources with other strategies to crack
down and to keep surveillance on smugglers starting
The hon. member talked about the lack of a response from the
Minister of Health on this matter. The Minister of Health is
responsible and has worked very hard for the major health
strategy found here. We have invested about $185 million in
funds from taxing the tobacco industry. They will be dedicated
to prevention and promotion. We have already seen the launch of
a media campaign aimed at kids, the proclamation of the
Tobacco Sales to Young Persons Act, and legislation to
eliminate kiddie packs, to increase the age and to crack down on
sale to minors. The minister has responded.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): I am sorry but the time
for the member's response has expired.
It being 7 p.m., the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at
2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 7 p.m.)