October 13, 1983

LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

Order. The Hon. Member for Prince Albert heard the Parliamentary Secretary's comment. I am in the middle, and I must come to some kind of judgment. The Chair, in terms of relevancy of remarks concerning the amendments at report stage, has time and time again invited a number of Hon. Members to make an effort at least to demonstrate to the Chair in what way their remarks are related to the amendments. Once again, I would invite the Hon. Member for Prince Albert to do just that.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
NDP

Stanley J. Hovdebo

New Democratic Party

Mr. Hovdebo:

Mr. Speaker, I could make a considerable argument on that particular point, but just to bring the

October 13, 1983

Western Grain Transportation Act arguments into context as far as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport (Mr. Flis) is concerned, the amendment which we are discussing very specifically states:

"the grain producers, but such agreements shall not provide for the movement of grain by motor vehicle transport from shipping points on rail lines which have not been abandoned by order of the Canadian Transport Commission".

I submit that Clause 17(4), without the amendment, will be used by the CPR, the CNR, the Canadian Transport Commission and the Government of Canada to go ahead with their planned abandonment of branch lines on the Prairies. Therefore, the reason this amendment is being put before the House by our Party, in view of the arguments that the Conservatives have been putting before us in the last two days against the Clause that we are trying to amend, is to ensure that the Administrator, by the authority that he is given in Clause 17(4), will not be able to use trucking to assist in the abandonment of branch lines. Therefore, the whole impact of our arguments on Motion No. 35 is based on the fact that it would be possible to use that amendment to abandon rail lines.

A number of Hon. Members have spoken on the effects of trucking and the efficiency of lines. That is the key to this particular amendment. If efficiency is used as an argument to abandon lines, it ignores the social impact of abandonment. It ignores the needs of rural communities. It ignores all the other factors which are part of abandonment of branch lines on the Prairies.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

Order. I regret to interrupt the Hon. Member, but I must inform him that his allotted time has expired.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Continue.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

The Hon. Member could be allowed to continue if there was unanimous consent. Is there unanimous consent?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

There is not unanimous consent.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
NDP

Cyril Keeper

New Democratic Party

Mr. Cyril Keeper (Winnipeg-St. James):

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat disappointed that the other Hon. Members in the Chamber did not choose to allow my hon. colleague to continue.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
LIB

Douglas Glenn Fisher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. Fisher:

We're not.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
NDP

Cyril Keeper

New Democratic Party

Mr. Keeper:

I know there is no disappointment on that side of the House, but certainly on this side of the House we were deeply impressed with the wisdom of his remarks. I am sure that every Member of the House knows in his heart that my colleague was making very telling arguments. That is why they would not let him continue.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
LIB

John Leslie Evans (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Evans:

Of course, it was irrelevant to the amendment.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
NDP

Cyril Keeper

New Democratic Party

Mr. Keeper:

A colleague of mine suggests that other Members in the Chamber do not have hearts. I would not say that at all.

At this moment in the Chamber we are dealing with Motion No. 35, which is a motion to amend Motion No. 34, relating to trucking of grain, and Clause 17(4), all of which comes under the purview of the Crow legislation which is now before the House.

The policy that is being promoted by the Bill that is before us, whether it applies to subsidized trucking or to the handling of the Crow rate itself, has the same fundamental flaw in it; that is, that the action being undertaken by the Government in this instance, I understand, supported by the Conservative Party, is detrimental to the farming community and to grain producers. What is being debated is the fact that the Administrator, by virtue of the Government's action, would be given authority to subsidize the movement of grain by truck, by motor vehicle.

Our Party has suggested that this provision be amended so that the subsidies would be limited to cases where rail lines have already been abandoned. We put forward this amendment because grain transportation is a vital part of the grain industry which, in itself, is essential to the western economy and economic health of Canada as a whole. Our Party fears that if these subsidies are permitted to take place on existing branch lines, the railways could use their own trucking companies to haul the grain and thereby reduce the amount of grain being transported over the branch line. This would provide the Government with statistical justification for further abandonment of branch lines.

We oppose trucking subsidies where branch lines already exist because the whole process of branch line abandonment across western Canada and particularly in Saskatchewan has been very detrimental to small rural communities. We believe that the removal of branch lines is the elimination of the most efficient and cost-effective way to transport grain.

We are appalled that not only is the Government contemplating the abandonment of these lines, but it is proposing a subsidy for trucking which would naturally lead to the further abandonment of branch lines. We know that branch line abandonment is a sensitive issue in the West since there has been a great deal of protest over previous efforts to abandon branch lines.

Our amendment makes it clear that we would limit these subsidies on lines that have already been authorized for abandonment by the Canadian Transport Commission. In those cases there has already been an opportunity for public hearings at which communities could state their case. There has been the opportunity to examine the social and economic impact of the abandonment of a particular branch line.

While there may be some debate whether a certain branch line is economically viable, we should at least grant the people and the communities who depend on those branch lines the

October 13, 1983

opportunity to present their views with regard to the necessity for the continuation of those branch lines.

That is the central part of our amendment. We make reference to the Canadian Transport Commission because we believe it could hold public hearings before branch lines are abandoned in order to give communities the opportunity to state whether they believe a railway's argument that a branch line is uneconomical is valid. As well, they could indicate to the Commission the extent to which the subsidy of truck transportation has contributed to the reduction of transportation on the branch line. This may then indicate to what extent the Government has actually subsidized the creation of a situation which it has then used to justify abandoning a branch line.

Citizens could document the increased costs in terms of road maintenance as a result of branch line abandonment. They could then argue whether the abandonment of a particular branch line would be a saving to the economy or a simple cost transfer from the railroad, which is under federal jurisdiction, to the roads, which are under provincial and municipal jurisdiction. Canadians already carry a heavy burden with their property taxes and it is unimaginable that the federal Government would subsidize something which would lead to increased property taxes for Canadians. If the Government wishes to do this, the people in those communities which are affected should have the opportunity to be heard since it is a simple principle of democracy that every citizen have the right to speak out on Government policies before they are implemented. This gives the Government the opportunity to reconsider its policies and possibly abandon them.

1 believe our motion is reasonable. If trucking subsidies are to take place, it should only be in those areas where there are no branch lines. The subsidization of trucking on branch lines is the same as subsidizing a reduction of branch line use, which will provide the justification for the abandonment of that branch line. If the Government decides to permit the subsidies, it must allow the local people who will be affected by this drastic change in policy to voice their opinion so the Government can reconsider its action and withdraw its policy.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
PC

Dave Nickerson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dave Nickerson (Western Arctic):

Mr. Speaker, when I perused the newspaper this morning, I found that the Conservative Party stood at an unprecedented 62 per cent in the polls and that the NDP, at the same time, stood at an unprecedented low of 14 per cent. I wondered why this had happened, but now, after having listened to the speeches by the Hon. Member for Winnipeg-St. James (Mr. Keeper) and the Hon. Member for Prince Albert (Mr. Hovdebo), I know the reason full well. The people of Canada know full well why they stand so lowly in the polls.

We on this side of the House have had one aim in mind when dealing with western grain transportation. That is to secure the lowest cost and most effective system to benefit the farmers. Just think what would happen if this amendment were to carry. Let us consider a branch line which services two or three elevators. Suppose that the culvert is washed out and that line is inoperable until repairs can be made. In our view, it

Western Grain Transportation Act should be possible for the farmer to have his grain trucked to another elevator without having to bear the full cost that he would entail if the Senior Grain Transportation Commissioner had not had the power available to him which we propose. This would be impossible if what the gentlemen to my left are saying was accepted.

I wanted to make a very brief presentation in order to demonstrate that what they are saying is nonsense and that the amendment does not make sense. If they continue in this vein they will not stand at 14 per cent in the polls, they will stand at 4 per cent.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

Is the House ready for the question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
LIB

John Leslie Evans (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Evans:

Question.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
LIB

Maurice Adrian Dionne

Liberal

Mr. Dionne (Northumberland-Miramichi):

Question.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
NDP

Cyril Keeper

New Democratic Party

Mr. Keeper:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Given the extraordinarily brief presentation, would the Hon. Member for Western Arctic (Mr. Nickerson) entertain a question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

Does the Hon. Member for Western Arctic (Mr. Nickerson) wish to entertain a question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink
PC

Dave Nickerson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nickerson:

I certainly would, Mr. Speaker, but I think it would be necessary for you to get the consent of the House for the Member to ask his question because it is not permitted under the rules governing report stage.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WESTERN GRAIN TRANSPORTATION ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
Permalink

October 13, 1983