November 27, 1979 (31st Parliament, 1st Session)


Lloyd Axworthy


Mr. Lloyd Axworthy (Winnipeg-Fort Garry):

Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to prolong the debate, but I want to raise with the minister a caution about the nature of this legislation, and offer what I would hope is a suggestion that he would review and take into account. One of the things which we should prevent ourselves from doing with this legislation is assuming that it will solve the problem. The minister indicated that a lot of work and time went into this bill to arrive at the solution, but we must recognize that it is more a panacea than it is a solution.
Other hon. members, including the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Taylor), have pointed out a far more serious concern, that is, that no matter how good the regulations, inspection and monitoring procedures are, there will still be a major movement of dangerous goods through high density residential areas right across Canada. As our industrial world grows, it seems to have enormous ability to proliferate toxic chemicals and their uses. We have a great capacity to develop poisonous ways for dealing with our world, and it concerns me that we often use these methods without looking at all the consequences of our actions.
I hope that the minister will use this bill as a way of examining a much more intensive difficulty, that of the major movement of all kinds of dangerous goods through major urban areas and our small towns in Canada. I wrote to the minister about the problem in the city of Winnipeg with regard to railway location. As the minister knows, this is a topic of major debate in our city because we have one of the world's largest railway marshalling yards in the downtown portion of the city. I raise this for the reason that the railroads have argued that the only time they will be prepared to move those railroads and yards is when the government is prepared to pay them for it. They are not prepared to contribute in any tangible way to the cost of such a move. In fact, the railroads had to be shown through a railway relocation program how it would be profitable for them to relocate their yards.
We now have very graphic and dramatic evidence that we cannot measure safety in terms of the profitability margins of the major railroads. I suggest to the minister that in looking at the relocation problem, which is really the only solution to this difficulty, it will require something more than what is available under the Railway Relocation and Crossing Act. It will require a substantial co-operative effort on the part of the municipalities, the federal and provincial governments and the railroads all equally contributing to what will be a very high capital cost.
Once this bill has gone through the House and the minister has provided his temporary solutions, his holding action, the next major step is to look at the major relocation of railway yards and railway lines throughout settled areas of Canada, to avoid these problems. That is not something which the government can do alone. The minister will have to use the leverage, influence and power of the government to bring the railroads into line to co-operate and change the formulas and equations by which the whole relocation process is being administered in this country. We have had the warning and we do not have much time. I hope that the warning will be taken up by the minister, not only through this bill but through subsequent action which will provide a major commitment to the relocation of railways in Canada.

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