Mr. Benno Friesen (Surrey-White Rock):
Mr. Speaker, on November 3 last the Minister of Transport (Mr. Lang) announced his handy-dandy made-in-Ottawa transport policy for northern coastal communities of British Columbia, which he called "improved shipping service". He said, and I quote in part from the announcement:
The three B.C. coastal M.P.s, the Honourable Iona Campagnolo, Jack Pearsall and Hugh Anderson had assisted in producing the new plan and also will be watching developments and keeping in close touch with constituents to iron out any early problems which may arise.
He went on to say:
Rivtow, whose service will be non-subsidized, has agreed to hold the tariff rate while experience is gained in the operation and does not foresee any major increases.
On November 29 the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Anderson) was quoted in one of his own papers, the Campbell-River Upper Islander, as saying:
The rationale behind the abandoning of the Northland subsidy was that it was distorting, not helping, Northern Navigational services. Competition could be improved if the federal government were not assisting only one company.
I would like to hear what the coastal communities have to say about that.
On November 30 it was discovered that the cost of some of the services within that one month's period had risen by as much as 150 per cent.
On December 3 the New Westminster Columbian reported statements of Mr. Bill New, president of Coast Ferries Ltd., and I quote:
He said he feels that the friendship among RivTow President Cecil Cosulich, Roger Marsham, a federal ministry of transport administrator, and Goen Chestnut, an adviser to B.C. Transport Minister Jack Davis, acted as a detriment to his company's interests.
"They, Chestnut and Marsham are acting in the interests of themselves ... not necessarily to the benefit of the people who are being serviced by the companies that have received these funds subsidies," he said.
"Currently, you could say it is to the benefit of RivTow Straits."
The article goes on to say:
RivTow picked up much of the cargo business abandoned by Northland when Northland's subsidy ran out Oct. 31.
On December 6 the Minister of Transport finally got to Prince Rupert to listen to what the people had to say. He conceded he had waited far too long and that perhaps he had made a mistake in making the decisions he had. That was also when he said that he had to make the changes because the government was "hostage to Northland".
Also on December 6 the Vancouver Province ran another article in which it said that the Minister of State (Fitness and Amateur Sport) Mrs. Campagnolo had said to a staff reporter:
... that unless she gets some quick action from Transport Minister Otto Lang that will soothe the unrest among her constituents, she'll quit the cabinet post.
"I want some action," she said. "If there's no action, I have other recourses."
On December 8, according to the Globe and Mail, "Mrs. Campagnolo said Mr. Lang promised last weekend"-that would have been the first week of December-"to improve service within six weeks."
On December 21 the Premier of British Columbia sent a telegram to the Prime Minister saying:
On a per capita basis and using your east coast subsidies as a basis for establishing subsidies, the west coast should be getting more than $100 million a year. Instead, your Ministry of Transport is in the process of cutting us off entirely.
Two days ago I visited with a resident of Ocean Falls and she told me she had to wait two days to get a plane to get out of Ocean Falls because they were always socked in. Since
March 17, 1977
Christmas the Lumba Lumba, the boat that was supposed to provide such great service to Ocean Falls, has been there four times, twice in the middle of the night when the residents of Ocean Falls did not even know that it had come there.
On March 4, just two weeks ago, I put a question to the Minister of Transport. I asked him, regarding his recent visit to Victoria, whether the government would now present a 50 per cent subsidy to help the ferry system in British Columbia. The minister again gave a very inadequate answer, so I put a supplementary question to him:
Since the new improved shipping arrangement for the west coast is now four months old, and it is a makeshift proposition, are we to assume that this will now be a permanent arrangement, or will there be an announcement concerning a new arrangement?
I take up the Vancouver Province, and today I understand there is another statement which I would like to read into the record:
Transport Minister Otto Lang promised an inquiry in December, and earlier this week four regional districts sent a telegram to Lang saying the inquiry was long overdue and should be called immediately. Although she didn't have any special knowledge, Campagnolo said: "As far I am concerned it will still be heard but if there is a transfer of jurisdiction from federal to provincial then it's hard to say what will happen."
The latest word which I have just heard from the hon. member for Capilano (Mr. Huntington) is that RivTow is to have a subsidy. This is the system which was not to require any subsidy. All that the communities along the coast of British Columbia have received from the Minister of Transport is promises and delays. According to the announcement in the Vancouver Province what we have is another delay.
There is supposed to be an inquiry. We know that that is the surest way of getting another stall. It is a gimmick. I feel sorry for the hon. member for Coast Chilcotin (Mr. Pearsall) because he has been working hard for those communities, and the Minister of Transport, and the Minister of State (Fitness and Amateur Sport) have given him the shaft. It is time that the coastal communities got an answer-
Subtopic: TRANSPORT-DISPARITY BETWEEN SUBSIDIES FOR FERRIES ON EAST AND WEST COASTS-GOVERNMENT POSITION