October 13, 1983 (32nd Parliament, 1st Session)


James Douglas Manly

New Democratic Party

Mr. Manly:

I am very pleased to come back to the amendment, Mr. Speaker, but I was trying to use the situation on Vancouver Island as an illustration of the fact that branch line abandonment all across Canada does have a disastrous effect upon communities. In fact, when we consider the social, environmental and the total economic costs, it really argues against abandonment. Clause 17(4) is basically a move to facilitate branch line abandonment. While it talks about being "in the best interests of the grain producers", it is in fact not.
In returning to the point, I would like to emphasize that, if anything, the situation is more critical for communities on the Prairies than it is even in my own riding. I suggest that it is clauses such as this which make people on the Prairies very suspicious about the intent of the entire Bill to change the basic Crow structure. They see this Bill as an attempt to destroy the infrastructure which has been built up over the years, including not only the branch lines but the local elevators that will be left unserviced by those branch lines as trucks are used to haul grain directly to the larger inland terminals. Branch line abandonment would be served by giving subsidies to trucking so that they would be able to syphon off increased volumes of grain hauling. The trucking firms which would get the subsidy would obtain more of this business and that, in turn, would result in lesser use of the branch lines, which would ultimately lead to the promotion of the argument by the railways that the branch lines themselves were not successful.
Therefore it is on that basis that we in our Party are very concerned that Motion No. 34 to withdraw Clause 17(4) be accepted and that the Government commit itself to maintain the infrastructure that is needed on the Canadian Prairies so that those communities, those farms and services, will continue.

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