Mr. Jim Fulton (Skeena):
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.
Subtopic: NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT