Motion agreed to. As agreed earlier this day, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division on Motion No. 677 under Private Members' Business.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
The House resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. Mifflin:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should take immediate action to extend custodial jurisdiction for northern cod over the nose and tail of the Grand Banks.
Steve Eugene Paproski
(Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)
Following the adoption of the 24th report of the Standing Committee on House Management, Wednesday April 29, 1992, the division will be taken row by row starting with the mover and then proceed with those in favour of the motion sitting on the same side of the House as the mover; then those in favour of the motion sitting on the other side of the House will be called. Those opposed to the motion will be called in the same order.
Topic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Sub-subtopic: GRAND BANKS
The House resumed from Thursday, June 10, consideration of Bill C-110, an act respecting the Northumberland Strait Crossing, as reported (with amendments) from a legislative committee; and Motions Nos. 1, 4, 7, 18, 21, 57, 60 and 63.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be given the opportunity to take part in this debate today to establish the fixed link between Prince Edward Island and mainland Canada, a permanent link. The Fathers of Confederation in 1867 came to the agreement that made this nation the country it is and established the foundations of Confederation that have served us so well since that time.
Efforts to connect Prince Edward Island to mainland Canada go back to 1885. Prior to Prince Edward Island joining Canada, the question of the fixed link was first raised in the 1830s. From the 1830s onward summer steam vessels and winter ice boats provided a sporadic kind of link between Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. When Prince Edward Island finally became a province of Canada in the spring of 1873, one of the terms of confederation dealt with that link. In it Canada assumed a constitutional obligation to provide a continuous connection to the mainland. The terms of union clause reads:
That the Dominion Government shall assume and defray all charges for the following services, vis., efficient steam service for the conveyance of mails and passengers to be established and maintained between the island and the mainland in the Dominion in winter and summer, thus placing the island in continuous communication with the intercolonial railroad and the railroad system of the Dominion.
June 14. 1993
In 1885 the idea of a tunnel under the Northumberland Strait was proposed. This was supposed to ensure year round communication. The tunnel concept was studied and analysed off and on for the next 30 years but never really got beyond that stage.
In 1966 construction was actually begun on a bridgecauseway combination. Access roads were built. Before work on the actual bridge-causeway got started the project was scrapped. That is when the province of Prince Edward Island signed a development agreement with the federal government in lieu of continuing with the causeway bridge concept.
The latest round of discussions began with a Public Works study in 1982. On January 18, 1988 Islanders voted. The results were 60 per cent in favour of the link and 40 per cent opposed.
On June 10, the premier of Prince Edward Island, a former member of this House whom I respect and admire not only because I know her and the work she did here in the Parliament of Canada and her principles and dedication to hard work, took on the premier's mantle in Prince Edward Island as the first elected lady premier in this country. She introduced a measure before the Prince Edward Island legislature to comply with a March court ruling and these measures clear the last obstacle for this project.
The Northumberland Strait crossing project, or as it is commonly called the fixed link, is without a doubt the single most important project to be undertaken involving Prince Edward Island since it joined the Canadian Confederation.
It is estimated that over 90 studies have been conducted on various aspects of the project. Most of these were in the last five or six years. Since 1987 there have been 55 studies by Public Works Canada on the Northumberland Strait crossing project itself. There have been 19 studies done by Public Works Canada for the Northumberland Strait bridge project and the concept assessment supplement, including documents. There have been 4 studies through FEARO and related reports. There were 3 miscellaneous reports, 7 through Environment Canada and related documents and 4 from Strait Crossing Incorporated and related reports. This does not include the days when the causeway was being considered or the days when the tunnel was considered back at the turn of the century and even earlier.
Prior to the vote former Premier Ghiz wrote to the public works minister, Stewart Mclnnis, November 6,
1987-that was the actual date of the letter- and indicated on behalf of the Government of Prince Edward Island that the support for the link was contingent upon the satisfactory address of 10 principles. The 10 principles had to do with: highways; the Woods Island ferry; the submerged lands; tolls and how they would be arrived at; the displaced workers at Borden-Cape Tor-mentine; economic development for the town of Borden; the Atlantic content in the materials that would be used and the labour required; an environmental impact study; the fisheries that were very important to Prince Edward Island and the utilities. That was the utility corridor to be used at no cost to the province.
These 10 points have been addressed to the satisfaction of both Premier McKenna and former Premier Ghiz. On the list of concerns the environment has moved to the fore. In fact the environment has always been one of the main concerns of building a fixed link of any sort across the Northumberland Strait. To show environmental compliance the following clauses were included in the federal-provincial agreement. I think these clauses are extremely important and I will quote them in their entirety. Clause 6(1) reads:
Public participation in the federal Environmental Assessment and Review Process, commonly known as EARP, was undertaken to the satisfaction of Canada, P.E.I., and New Brunswick.
Canada through its Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada and Transport Canada, in conjunction with the provinces of RE.I. and New Brunswick, had deemed that a fixed crossing can be constructed in an environmentally friendly and acceptable manner.
Clause 6(2) reads:
The construction and operation of the fixed crossing shall comply with the environmental laws, regulation and relevant environmental codes of practice of the provinces of New Brunswick and P.E.I. and the government of Canada, as well as other specific requirements identified by means of the evaluation conducted under the federal Environmental Assessment and Review Process.
Clause 6(3) reads:
As a condition of the coming into effect of this agreement and prior to financial closing, the developer must obtain the necessary approvals under provincial and applicable federal environmental assessment legislation and complete an environmental management plan acceptable to Canada, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and the province of Nova Scotia.
June 14, 1993
In conclusion I do not think we can underestimate the positive economic impact that a fixed link would have on Prince Edward Island. Everything indicates that if we are to improve or even maintain our standard of living we must also become more self-sufficient. We must have a greater degree of economic independence and we must become more competitive. An improved transportation system is crucial to Prince Edward Island becoming more competitive whether it is for manufacturing, the processing sector, the agricultural sector, the fishing industry or tourism.
Economic activity will grow not only during construction but in the years afterward. The link will generate industrial expansion and create jobs. The link will generate growth and tourism. It will create jobs for that region of Canada.
I have always been very proud as a Canadian to sit in the House with colleagues from every province of Canada. This time is no exception. I am very proud of the people in Prince Edward Island and their contribution to the development of this nation.
It makes a lot of sense that we should work to pass this bill and let them establish a permanent, long-lasting, meaningful link to bring together the seat of Confederation with the rest of this country to pull it together at this time of uncertainty ahead of us.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic: MEASURE TO ENACT
Mr. Speaker, I really want to take up where my colleague left off and say that indeed one of the primary reasons for building the fixed link to Prince Edward Island is to join together the mainland of Canada with Prince Edward Island which was the birthplace of Confederation.
We who live in the east, and not necessarily those of us who live in Labrador but those of us who live or have lived on the island of Newfoundland from time to time, know something about islands, distance, isolation and the need for togetherness.
I fully applaud the efforts of those people on P.E.I. and here too on both sides of this House who initiated this project. There is a need to do this project.
I am satisfied as many others are that environmental precautions have been taken and that the proper environmental hearings have been held. The environment is
naturally a concern. We must study that. We must examine it. We must make sure it is protected. However there are other things that must be protected too and those are the lives, homes, livelihood and future of the people who live on Prince Edward Island.
What they need is an opportunity to compete in Canada and indeed in the global marketplace. If they are to compete in terms of the resources that they have, which include fish, potatoes and tourism, they need infrastructure. My leader and my party have been speaking very strongly about the need to put in place infrastructure in terms of the various parts of this country that need it.
That means roads, bridges, wharfs, water and sewer services. In this case it means a surface link to the mainland so that P.E.I. can both attract goods and services that come to it and send back to the mainland of Canada goods and services that it has to offer.
That is of fundamental importance so that the people on Prince Edward Island can compete. It is important in other parts of Atlantic Canada too. What I like about this move and what we have before us today is that it can be a model for building infrastructure in other parts of the Atlantic and indeed in other parts of the country.
The model is not new. Where I have lived from time to time on the island of Newfoundland we have traded boats for roads before. There was a time when we did not have on the island of Newfoundland a road across the island. There was a time when we did not have roads down the various peninsulas. All of the island was served from the sea by boats.
The Government of Canada in 1949 took on that responsibility and has been subsidizing that sea service. Where I live in Labrador we still have that sea service as well. We still get our goods and materials by sea from the island of Newfoundland. We have the beginning of a road in Labrador but we do not have a road across Labrador.
We do have the beginnings of a road from Labrador City to Goose Bay. This year we have shown that the use of that road has reduced our costs in Goose Bay by 30 per cent. By bringing in our goods and materials over that road, mostly from the province of Quebec but hopefully from other parts of Canada too, we have reduced our
June 14, 1993
cost of living in Goose Bay and in the central part of Labrador by 30 per cent.
What I like about this particular measure that is before us in the House today is that it provides a model whereby we can think about other forms of infrastructure too. In my own area I would like to see us examine this model and apply it to the Labrador situation. We need that road if we are going to compete.
The way to get that road at a time of restraint and fiscal difficulty is to use whatever means we have at our disposal. One of the means that we have at our disposal is Marine Atlantic. I know that there are people who work with that service and who have given yeoman service over the years. They are people who have given the kind of service that if we did not have it then we would be very badly off indeed. We have been served well by Marine Atlantic.
Today costs are escalating such as the cost of fuel and capital construction. We realize that the cost of building a ship today is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. When government is faced with that kind of cost for continuing a marine service, then it is effective, expedient, useful and the best option to put that kind of money into a surface link. That will happen in P.E.I. I believe that when this link is built in P.E.I. it will experience the same savings that we have started to experience in Labrador.
I hope that in Labrador we can continue the construction of the Trans-Labrador Highway right down to the Strait of Belle Isle so that we have a road right across Labrador. The way to build that road, and it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, is to make use of the Marine Atlantic subsidies.
The pattern and the model that is being used in P.E.I. is to go to the private sector and ask an engineering consortium to raise the capital in the marketplace and build the link. We would pay it over a period of 25 years with the money that we would normally have put into Marine Atlantic.
I want to take that model and apply it elsewhere and say to other engineering firms that if they were to go to the marketplace and raise the money and build a road across Labrador we would be able to eliminate maybe not all, but a great part of our marine service. This is a marine service that is getting increasingly expensive. We would be able to eliminate that and we would take those subsidies that we have been paying into those services. We would take the capital cost that we would have to pay
out for new ships and pay it to the private contractors over a period of 25 years. In that way we can have our surface link too.
This is an important measure. An important measure for Prince Edward Island. I want to support it for that reason. I believe it needs this kind of infrastructure in order to make it competitive in modern society. I like it too because it provides a model that we can use elsewhere to build other forms of infrastructure in the Atlantic. Other roads and surface links in the Atlantic will be important to us and will allow us to compete in the 1990s and on into the 20th century.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic: MEASURE TO ENACT
Mr. Speaker, I am happily joining this debate today because I think that the superficial speeches that we have been hearing, particularly from the Liberals, avoid the reality of what is going on constitutionally and environmentally in terms of this project.
Members of this House should be aware that the assembly in Prince Edward Island has only just moved by Walter McEwen and seconded by Catherine Callbeck an amendment to the Constitution that deals with the guts of this matter. This is not going to be dealt with until tomorrow night.
I do not think that we should forget that the Federal Court of Canada, Madam Justice Barbara Reed, has made several orders in relation to this project that certainly the Liberals and the Conservatives seem to want to pay no attention to.
The proposed amendment to the Constitution of Canada that has been tabled in the Prince Edward Island legislature to be dealt with sometime late tomorrow says the following.
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 by which the British North America Act 1867 appertain to the general government and as are or may be allowed to the other provinces" the following: "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". This amendment may be
June 14, 1993
cited as the Constitution Amendment 1993, Prince Edward Island.
We have the Parliament of Canada proceeding to pass Bill C-110 under the constraints of the guillotine before there has been a proper specific assessment of the bridge that is proposed by SCI, Strait Crossing Incorporated, which I would remind this House is 70 per cent foreign-owned in Great Britain and the United States.
I do not think any of us should forget for a moment that the great beneficiaries of the fixed link are not going to be Canadians. They are going to be people who live outside of Canada. MPs from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have never bothered to tell any of their constituents about the reality of the beneficiaries should this go ahead.
Let us deal for a moment with this contempt of the people of Canada, of this Chamber proceeding to pass into law something that will tie the taxpayers of Canada over the next 35 years to a contract that will require the provisioning to SCI, Strait Crossing Incorporated, a foreign-owned corporation, $1.47 billion in 1992 dollars: $42 million a year for the next 35 years.
The Constitution of Canada says that the service is to be provided to the people of Prince Edward Island without cost. What are their MPs, Liberal and Conservative, doing? Not only are they abandoning their responsibility to stand up for Canada's Constitution in the Chamber today, the official spokespersons for the Liberal Party have never stood in this Chamber or outside of this Chamber and asked for a full, proper, public environmental assessment and review of the specific bridge proposal.
They are glad to do it in other provinces. They are glad to talk about Clayoquot, they are glad to talk about other issues. When it comes to pandering to a foreign-owned corporation the Liberals know no depth to which they will plummet. They are completely and totally unprincipled in terms of the environmental assessment of this project. Mark my words this will come to haunt the Liberal and Conservative Parties in the years to come.
Let me return to the constitutional matter for a moment because I think we should take a look at just exactly what Madam Justice Barbara Reed had to say. I am quite confident because this matter again goes before the Federal Court later today.
The court will be interested to know just exactly how scurrilous the activities in this Chamber as led by the government House leader have become in terms of this project to pay off SCI. I predict that in the years to come when historians are investigating SCI and its links to members in this Chamber, in particular its links to the government, they are going to find some very interesting facts.
Why is it that this government is prepared to tie the taxpayers of Canada to a bill for $1.47 billion and rise blithely in this House and say that is only the annual costs of providing ferry services between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick now. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Auditor General confirmed that last year's costs for that ferry service were $21 million. Why is it that the government plans to give $42 million a year to SCI? This is corruption at its very worst, contempt for the people of Canada on a constitutional issue, contempt by the Liberals and Conservatives on a matter of environmental assessment review. Let no Liberal or Conservative come to my province or any other part of this country and say they stand for environmental assessment and review of major projects. They have let every Canadian down by not standing four square for a full environmental assessment and review of the specific bridge project.
The generic bridge project was turned down by a full panel, rejected out of hand. This is absolutely mad. This has now been buttressed and backed up by the Federal Court ruling. Let me read from the ruling made by Madam Justice Barbara Reed. "It is hereby ordered that the Minister of Public Works, the Minister of Transport, and other representatives of the Government of Canada shall not make any irrevocable decision relating to the specific SCI proposal until after a section 12 decision is made and the documentation relating thereto is released
June 14, 1993
to the public pursuant to section 15 of the Environmental Assessment Review Process guidelines".
That has not been done. Where are the Liberals? They are reading written speeches. Who were those speeches written by? I suppose they were written by Allan Skales. The Liberals say he is not in a conflict of interest. Come on. He is appearing in a Federal Court action on behalf of the government of Prince Edward Island and he is also the chairman of Marine Atlantic. Give me a break. It is the most blatant conflict of interest one can dream up, but the Liberals are silent about it. The Conservatives are silent about it.
What gives? It is a straight pork-barrel hand-out to SCI, a foreign-owned corporation. Not only do the taxpayers of Canada pay for the whole bridge, give it over to SCI with no risk whatsoever, but the shareholders in this bloody company get to collect tolls on the bridge. At the end of 35 years after ripping off every man, woman and child in P.E.I. and New Brunswick and every other Canadian, they get the tolls. They get all the money for building and maintaining the bridge. After that they give us the bloody bridge back, a rusting hulk, 35 years from now.
There is not a single significant comparative study on the face of this earth that shows that bridge can stand the kinds of ice pressures, winds, weather and high intensity atmosphere that is found in crossing the Northumberland Strait.
We have one of the most intriguing situations of skulduggery and corruption and contempt that I have ever run across. The Liberals in this House during the last debate rose and said they supported environmental assessment and review. Then they very quickly buried that. The MPs from Prince Edward Island leaped all over each other and tried to pull their tongues out, rewrite history, rewrite their speeches and tell everybody that was not what they said. We know they did say it but it is not what they meant.
We know what the Federal Court has said. We know about the sneaky jiggery-pokery going on with Catherine Callbeck and the Tories. Liberals and Tories are no different whatsoever. No Canadian should ever get mixed up about that. These are the twin parties of corruption and contempt on these kinds of environmental and legal matters.
Let us take a look at what Madam Justice Barbara Reed was talking about. On Friday, March 19, 1993, the
Federal Court of Canada ruled with respect to the proposed fixed link between P.E.I. and New Brunswick that: "The Minister of Public Works has failed to comply with the requirements of section 12 of the Environmental Assessment Review Process guidelines order". The minister was found to be a failure.
What about this great Minister of the Environment who just ran to be Prime Minister as recently as yesterday. He wrote to me on March 10, 1992 and said: "The requirements of the environmental assessment review process have been fully satisfied with respect to that proposal".
That is not what the court found. That is not what the fishermen in New Brunswick and P.E.I. believe. That is not what the Friends of the Island believe. That is not what any clear-thinking environmentalist or for that matter Canadian citizen would believe in relation to the approach that has been taken.
When we are talking about the Minister of the Environment, where is Bill C-13? We had to sit late nights a year ago. I understand the law list has been shredded in the interests of certain corporate interests.
Let me conclude my remarks in this section of the debate by saying how sad I am that we are now launched on a process that is a contempt of this Parliament. This is contrary to Canada's Constitution as it now reads. Even the constitutional amendment by the P.E.I. legislature will not be dealt with until tomorrow night. The Federal Court made an order that we are heading toward a direct non-compliance. That is contempt in its most vulgar form. We should not be doing these kinds of things. All of this is quite aside from the arguments I will make later today about the environmental aspects of this foolish proposal.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic: MEASURE TO ENACT