Mr. Speaker, in speaking only on Motion No. Ill want to make it clear that this motion comes forward at this time because stronger motions with respect to environmental protection moved by my colleagues in committee were ruled out of order.
The position of the Liberal Party on this fixed link has been quite clear for some time now. From the beginning we have said that we are in favour of the fixed link if it can be demonstrated that it can be accomplished without damage to the environment and the fisheries.
On this matter we have on record the statements of the Leader of the Opposition, who happens to be the member of Parliament for the riding in New Brunswick in which the bridge will end. This has also been the consistent position of the premier of New Brunswick and two premiers of Prince Edward Island.
We felt in committee that requiring amendments to the agreement to ensure the protection of the environment, which we have sought, was the appropriate way to go. However those amendments were ruled out of order. Therefore we put forward amendments to ensure that the minister does have the authority, if he chooses to use it, to include environmental conditions in all agreements
signed with respect to the Prince Edward Island fixed link.
While this is only permissive legislation that only allows the minister, but does not compel the minister, to include environmental conditions in the agreement we trust that it will ensure that the issue of protection of the environment and protection of our resources will be something that the minister must take into consideration in signing these agreements, now that he has the authority to specifically include conditions.
I want to comment a bit on the process of this project. The federal government, as the courts have now told us, has done as it has on so many other projects and jeopardized this project by its lack of commitment to conduct a full and thorough environmental assessment prior to proceeding with the project. We had this whole issue back before the courts several months ago. The courts, as they have with numerous other projects such as the Oldman River dam and Rafferty-Alameda, told the government that it is disobeying the legislation of this Parliament by not carrying out a full and thorough environmental assessment process.
In this case, the court went the extra step and told the government that it was acting contrary to the Constitution. That failure is being corrected, hopefully in the next 48 hours, by the legislature in Prince Edward Island. However because of the way the government has handled this project from the beginning it is once again before the courts.
We know that the proper way to plan a project and build environmental protection into the project is to do it right at the beginning, not to try to get away with it and try not to do it and then have the courts say that we have to.
The government by its failure to obey the legislation of this Parliament to protect the environment has caused delays and extra costs. It is not going to get away with it. The courts have told the government that when it is not done right the first time it has got to go back and do it all over again.
The government may very well have left a mess for a Liberal government to clean up because this is back in court again. An injunction is being sought to stop the project from proceeding any further pending further environmental studies. We do not know whether or not that court process is going to succeed but we do know
Subtopic: NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT