June 15, 1993

PC

Robert Nesbitt Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bob Horner (Mississauga West):

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Solicitor General.

Pursuant to the order of reference of June 3, 1993, your committee has considered Bill C-128, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Customs Tariff, child pornography and corrupting morals, and your committee has agreed to report it with amendments.

[Editor's Note: See today's Votes and Proceedings.]

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   JUSTICE AND SOLICITOR GENERAL
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PC

Benno Friesen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Friesen:

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for the consent of the House to revert to the tabling of petitions.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   JUSTICE AND SOLICITOR GENERAL
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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Does the hon. member for Surrey-White Rock have unanimous consent to table a petition?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   JUSTICE AND SOLICITOR GENERAL
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?

An hon. member:

No.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   JUSTICE AND SOLICITOR GENERAL
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GOVERNMENT ORDERS

NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT


The House resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. MacKay that Bill C-110, an act respecting the Northumberland Strait Crossing, be read the third time and passed.


PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

The hon. member for Hillsborough has seven minutes left in questions and Comments.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Ronald MacDonald

Liberal

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Dartmouth):

Mr. Speaker, earlier in the debate there was a lot of comment about the level of consultation that had been undertaken with the people of Prince Edward Island prior to the Government of Prince Edward Island under the former premier, Mr. Ghiz, and the current premier, Ms. Callbeck, agreeing to proceed with this type of a proposal for a fixed link to Prince Edward Island.

Earlier in the House some members of the New Democratic Party seemed absolutely determined to leave

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the erroneous impression on the public record that there was not a minimum or an unusual level of consultation with the people of Prince Edward Island before this project went ahead. I would like to ask my colleague the member for Hillsborough, who has been a supporter of the review process all through this piece, what exactly has been the level of public consultation that has taken place in Prince Edward Island? More specifically could he give us some idea as to what the results of the plebiscite that was undertaken in 1988 were and what public opinion polls show today as the level of support by the good people of Prince Edward Island for this proposal.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

George Albert Proud

Liberal

Mr. Proud:

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Dartmouth for raising some very pertinent questions relating to this topic.

The level of public consultation I suppose depends on who you are asking the question. If you are asking me the question I believe that there was adequate public participation in this process. I do not know where you would go from here. There were many meetings held in Prince Edward Island, but not only in Prince Edward Island. They were held in New Brunswick and in the Pictou area in Nova Scotia.

I suppose it can be argued that enough was not done and there was not enough input. I attended many of the meetings. They were all very well attended. The opponents and the proponents of this legislation on this project all had their day to speak their mind and as far as I can understand everyone was heard. I suppose we could go on for another six months or a year and hold more hearings. How much we would accomplish I do not know.

As I said this morning and the other day, if every project with any environmental consequences was studied in the manner in which this project one was studied and with the efforts put forward, I do not believe that there would be much of a problem with projects that we hear so much about in this House and across the country today. I believe that the people of Prince Edward Island have spoken. They did in 1988. It was fairly close, around 60:40 in favour of it. However there were polls taken here in February and March that indicated 65 per cent across the island were in favour.

I understand that more recent ones have been taken that show 70 per cent. It depends on what area of the island you are in. In the area where I live I am told that it is close to 80 per cent. More and more people are beginning to believe that this is going to go ahead, it has to go ahead and that we really need this project. We

June 15, 1993

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need it right now to spark the economy and to get it going, but we need it in the long term to give us that stable, permanent access to the rest of Canada.

I believe that adequate study has been done, but I suppose you could argue that there is room for more. As was said here this morning, there has to be a time when you come to a decision and have made the decision that all the demands by the court be met, all the demands by the environmentalists and the fisheries people, the workers on the ferry who are going to change jobs or retire, whatever the case may be. All of these things have either been taken care of or are in the process of being taken care of. I believe that the time for the rhetoric is ended. Let us get on with the project.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Peter L. McCreath (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Peter L. McCreath (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International TVade):

Mr. Speaker, all members will be pleased to know I am of limited voice today. Therefore my speech will be of limited duration.

As a maritimer I want to make a few comments about this extremely important project. The project is important not only to the people of Prince Edward Island but to the people of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as well.

I wish to commend publicly the Minister of Public Works for bringing this project to fruition. I think it appropriate that it is a minister from the maritimes who has done this. This is a project that has been talked about for many years. It was first promised in the federal election of 1891 and has been promised by many political parties over the years. It is veiy much to the credit of the Minister of Public Works and this government that they have brought this project to fruition.

This bridge will last for a minimum of 100 years and probably more and will have a very profound impact on the economy of Atlantic Canada. Obviously it will be of great benefit to Prince Edward Island. Something like a 25 per cent increase in tourism is expected. This will benefit not only Prince Edward Island but also Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as well. Tourists visiting the region will want to visit all parts of the maritimes. I hope after their visit to P.E.I. they will all come down and see the beautiful beaches of the South Shore as well as our

historic towns like Lunenburg, Liverpool and Shelburne, not to mention the new Ross Agricultural Farm.

I could go on speaking about the beauties of the South Shore, something that is very easy to do, but I think perhaps it is more appropriate that I confine my remarks to the Northumberland Strait crossing.

Clearly there will be benefit to the agriculture and fishing industries. Producers will be able to time their transportation. Transportation costs will be significantly reduced, thereby benefiting all producers.

There has been some suggestion that people in Prince Edward Island are not totally behind this project, as my hon. friend from Dartmouth pointed out only minutes ago. Rarely has there been the extent of consultation as there has been on this, even to the point of having a provincial referendum. It is interesting to note that current opinion polls indicate that support for the project has increased by over 10 per cent from the results of the referendum. Clearly the economic, social and cultural benefits of this project are being widely recognized by people of the maritimes and particularly in Prince Edward Island.

The short-term benefits are obvious as well. About 70 per cent of the expenditure of some $850 million will be spent in Atlantic Canada. This is obviously of tremendous benefit to our region. Similarly it is expected that some 3,500 person-years of employment will result. Over the next few years we are going to need all of the employment opportunities we can get in Atlantic Canada. The benefits that will accrue, particularly for the people on either side of this strait, are obviously critical.

The members from Prince Edward Island in this place, although they do not always agree with the government,

I think support this endeavour and have worked hard to get it. However, nobody has worked harder, in addition to the Minister of Public Works, than my hon. colleague, the member for Cumberland-Colchester, who has been a strong advocate of this project since we arrived in 1988. The success of this project is much to his benefit as well.

Obviously there is some concern about the impact on the ferry workers of Marine Atlantic. One should take note of the fact that a suitable severance package will be negotiated and these people will have first opportunity at employment within the project.

In concluding, I want to say this is very important legislation. I know that members of the New Democratic Party have some environmental concerns. These have been addressed. This project has been very thoroughly studied in all its environmental impacts. It will be a great thing for Atlantic Canada and I urge all members to support the bill.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Ronald MacDonald

Liberal

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Dartmouth):

Mr. Speaker, it is unusual that I have to put on my ear phone to hear the member for South Shore. Today he sounds a little better on the ear phone than what he normally does. Usually I do not have to put it on when he is yelling from across the aisle.

Today we do agree with him. I think today his tone is much better. He thinks he has had a successful weekend. I see that he is eyeing some of the chairs down in the front. God knows what for.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

An hon. member:

The minister for the fixed link.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

An hon. member:

A summer job.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Ronald MacDonald

Liberal

Mr. MacDonald (Dartmouth):

He is looking for a summer job I am told. However, I would like to ask him a question in all seriousness.

The member does his very best to represent the region that we come from, Atlantic Canada, and I guess in fairness to do what he thinks is in the best interests of all Canadians. We have heard some very dangerous statements in the House during this debate about this project being a megaproject, with all of the negative connotations that that statement is supposed to bring with it by the New Democrats. We have heard them trivialize the amount of economic activity this project will bring. They say it is for a few millions of dollars to be invested in the area and a few hundred jobs.

I want to ask my colleague who lives just south of where I am from in Dartmouth, if he believes as I do that transportation infrastructure is the key to economic development in Atlantic Canada? Could he comment about what he believes this particular project will do for economic development not just on Prince Edward Island but also for northeastern Nova Scotia and the southeastern part of New Brunswick?

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There was some talk earlier today from the member for Skeena saying that the ferries are always on time. I had indicated that the problem was not that of the ferries being on time. It was the length of time you had to wait to get on a ferry because there are so many people who want to see that beautiful island. Could he also comment about the secondary impact that this link may have on tourism on places like the south shore of Nova Scotia.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Peter L. McCreath (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McCreath:

Mr. Speaker, it is the first time that a question has actually been longer than the speech. The answer will have to be relatively short as well. I would say to the hon. member for Skeena that obviously he has never visited the maritimes in the winter-time if he thinks that the ferries run on schedule.

I want to commend the workers of CN Marine and the crews of those vessels who do an outstanding job. But the reality is that anybody who lives in the maritimes and travels back and forth from Prince Edward Island knows there are veiy severe problems from time to time in the winter. I hasten again to say this has nothing to do with the quality of the people working on the ferries. But there is an icing condition and it proves tremendously inconvenient from time to time to people travelling back and forth.

As my hon. friend indicates, the economic potential is tremendous for the entire region. If one thinks of fish plants on Prince Edward Island-granted we are having some difficulty at the moment getting the resource-and the agricultural industry in particular, the estimated annual savings in transportation costs to those industries is some $10 million. That is extraordinary. As the member said, frequently trucks as well as passenger vehicles find themselves waiting hours and hours, particularly in the summer-time, to get across on the ferries.

The inconvenience and the capital cost of the time lost while trucks and others are waiting to get across is great and there would be a very significant benefit there. In terms of the region as a whole, I think he may be in part alluding to tourism. Usually tourists that are visiting the maritime provinces do not only visit one place and leave. They come by car and do a loop. Perhaps they will go up the Cabot Trail, they will go over to P.E.I., to the Halifax-Dartmouth area and come down the South Shore. They will visit different areas.

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The fact is that Prince Edward Island will be more accessible. Let us face it, Prince Edward Island is one of the greatest tourist attractions in Canada. The mere geography of the place is so beautiful that its impact is going to benefit our entire region creating-and this is the last point-the need for capital expenditures and infrastructure for transportation.

Earlier today we heard the hon. member for Fredericton-York-Sunbury talking about the state of the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick. I am very proud that this government made an $800 million commitment to improve the highway system in Atlantic Canada. There is no question that there now seems to be no limit to the amount of money we can use for transportation infrastructure. It is a step in the right direction. This project is critically important to our region. I again urge all members to support the bill.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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IND

John Patrick (Pat) Nowlan

Independent Conservative

Mr. Pat Nowlan (Annapolis Valley-Hants):

Mr. Speaker, I have a question and I thank you for recognizing me and the member for Dartmouth and the member for South Shore.

We are all members from Atlantic Canada. I would like to say to the member for South Shore that while I appreciate the softness of his voice, I would be interested in pressing him on the soundness of his intellect in terms of priorizing $1 billion in expenditure in Atlantic Canada. Is he telling this House that in effect, if he had $860 million, which is the cost of the bridge in one estimate of public works-but we all know that it is going to be $1 billion, $2 billion at the most-and that is not with overruns, that that is the way to spend money in Atlantic Canada?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Peter L. McCreath (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McCreath:

Mr. Speaker, if what we were talking about was $1 billion that could be taken out of the air, we might choose to spend it in different ways. In this case I would remind my hon. friend that the Government of Canada is already committing $42 million a year in perpetuity to subsidize the ferry service. Once this bridge is finished, there will be no further need for the subsidy. Not only will the subsidy be discontinued but in actual fact the Crown will acquire a very valuable asset. It is more in the context of an investment. The cost is predominately being borne by the private sector. The company involved will be responsible for raising the funds so that the cash requirement for the government

zeros out, which is my understanding of the financing of the project.

I would be prepared to say to my hon. friend that clearly this would seem to be a very good investment for the taxpayer as well as a significant capital investment for Atlantic Canadians.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Lynn Hunter

New Democratic Party

Ms. Lynn Hunter (Saanich-Gulf Islands):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to participate in the debate this afternoon, although I confess to having some trepidation in doing so, given that it is sometimes perceived that members from one coast should not comment on what is going on on another coast. I understand the kind of sensitivities when a member of Parliament from British Columbia comments on events occurring in Atlantic Canada.

I want to preface my remarks by saying I do not think it is just that I know better than those members from P.E.I. or New Brunswick. I just want to give my perspective. As a national policy-making body, that is our responsibility.

Having stated my respect for the sensitivities involved, because we in the New Democratic Party do not have members of Parliament from Prince Edward Island, I would ask that my Liberal colleagues also show that same respect because we have not been terribly well served by the Liberal Party in British Columbia. They have only one member from B.C. and he is very rarely in the House. I think that our frustrations are from both sides in this debate.

I also want to begin my statement by saying why I am interested in this bill. I am an islander. I was bom on Vancouver Island. I am fortunate enough to continue to live on Vancouver Island. That is the big island in my constituency. I am honoured to represent six smaller gulf islands. All of those islands are served by a ferry system which is paid for in total from provincial coffers. There are no subsidies at all. It is the provincial government's responsibility to pay for the ferry service.

My constituents, because of the downturn in the economy, have had that ferry service reduced over the last few years, particularly the inter-island service, from one gulf island to another. The majority of the traffic is from the mainland of British Columbia to Vancouver Island and that is very well served with hourly ferry services. There is also a high-speed ferry and a catamaran that serves the area very well. However, inter-gulf

June 15, 1993

island traffic has been cut down and that has changed the way of life on the gulf islands, some would say for the worse.

The other area that piques my interest in this is a constituency thing and also my respect for islands generally. Islands teach you, when you live on them, the finite nature of resources. If you live on an island you have to be aware that the water is finite, what you throw out must stay there. In a larger community, in a larger land mass, we can throw out our garbage and pretend it goes away. On an island we cannot do that, so I have a very strong affection for islands.

That leads me into my second area of interest. This bill focuses the attention of the House and the attention of all those watching the whole debate on the future. We have been fooling ourselves in this country and I think internationally that growth is the way, that growth means progress. The criterion for success in the future is going to be sustainability and this bill or this concept goes against that sustainability criterion.

Sustainability is a merging of environmental considerations with economic considerations. Some of the Liberal members talk about this not being a megaproject. I do not know. When it gets up into billions of dollars it certainly seems like a megaproject to me. That is a lot of money.

I think the people of Prince Edward Island have been given more than enough information to make decisions on this but it is not just the quantity of information, it is the kind of information that they have been given. There has been a confusion of estimates, analyses and assessments on this issue. That is what it should be called: a confusion of documents.

My colleague from Skeena likens it to a tidal wave of whitewash and I would agree with him on that because I think the whitewash hides what is really going on here. The people of Prince Edward Island have been promised economic renewal and lots of jobs but the bill does not say anything about that. It does not give any guarantees. There are many things that should be considered.

It is this government that has introduced environmental assessment review legislation. Those of us in the New Democratic Party did not support it. The Liberals did

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support that legislation. That legislation has not been proclaimed yet so the environmental assessment was on the old guidelines. The guidelines were given and the panel looked at this after the plebiscite in 1987. The entrepreneurs and the Mulroney government were sufficiently serious about the proposals that it was sent to an environmental assessment panel.

The copious evidence that the panel deliberated over showed a number of things. It conceded that the fixed link might benefit trucking firms and the tourism industry and produce construction jobs throughout Atlantic Canada. I know that is what the members from Atlantic Canada are arguing for.

However this should be said clearly. The panel still concluded that the risk of harmful effects from the proposed bridge concept was unacceptable and it recommended that the project not proceed.

This is critical because I think the confusion of rhetoric surrounding this keeps obliterating the fact that an environmental panel recommended that the project not proceed. The Department of Public Works decided to proceed in violation of that recommendation.

The Friends of the Island, the group on Prince Edward Island that has an opposing view, took the government to court because of its promises to proceed. The Federal Court of Canada under, Madam Justice Barbara Reed, ruled on March 19, 1993 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 requirements of section 12 of the Environmental Assessment Review Process guidelines order".

Not only are those speaking in favour of this project going against the environmental guidelines recommendation but they are going against the Federal Court of Canada. It is not just the wacky New Democrats, as some would have people believe, but it is the Federal Court of Canada and the federal environmental review process that is opposed to this project.

People have credibility. How can we speak in this House about standing up for the laws that are passed here if the members in this House do not respect those laws and do not respect a federal court's judgment? I think this is quite a sad story in the dying days of this Parliament when we are being put in contempt of the

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Federal Court and also of the environmental assessment review process.

It really does show why some of the rhetoric, particularly from the Liberals, is so vitriolic because they have been shown up. We have not seen their environment critics up speaking on this bill. No, no, they are hiding on this one because they want to be green environment critics. They want to be standing up for the environment.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

An hon. member:

They did not vote for their own amendment.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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June 15, 1993