Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island -Powell River):
Mr. Speaker, I could not resist getting up on the heels of the statement by the previous member for Fundy-Royal in New Brunswick.
It is an amazing distortion of reality, whether we are dealing with the Oldman dam project, the Rafferty-Ala-meda or Kemano II. I would like to speak to Kemano II in British Columbia as a comparison when he says this government has done incredible works with the environmental issues and it would not consider creating damage in an area of environmental sensitivity. I wish he was going to stay here because his information is so incorrect.
The Kemano II completion project has lowered the flow of the Nechako River to 14 per cent of its original level and damaged the salmon stocks in that river; salmon stocks that would go on forever. This was not done through an environmental assessment or review process. This was done by the hon. member from Richmond when he was Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. He simply went behind closed doors with a proponent and signed off approval for this disgusting project that has cut the level of the Fraser River by three feet at Hell's Gate. This has created enormous damage to one of the strongest producers of salmon in the world.
It is one of the most destructive things that has been done environmentally by any government and it happens to have been done by the Conservative government. There should be no more of this absolute rubbish of standing up and saying the green plan and our environmental record stand for anything over there.
The Conservative government has probably the worst record in Canada in terms of environmental abuse and that is really saying something when we consider what has been done in the past by the Liberal Party.
The hon. member who has put the present amendment forward, as my colleague from Skeena characterizes it, supports too little, too late. It is kind of interesting. She justifies this project. One of its main reasons to recommend it is that the tail of the bridge is in the riding of her leader, the member for Beausejour. He is the former member from Quebec who did not have the guts to run in his own home province. He had to run in
one of the strongest Liberal ridings in New Brunswick to guarantee that he might get back into this House of Commons. This is her rationale for why this bridge should be built.
She did go into many of the problems that brought this project before the courts such as the improper process that was used to assess it and review it environmentally. Again my colleague from Fundy-Royal says that there has been an enormous and tremendous evaluation. Certainly the courts have not adjudicated that way. Again my friend from Skeena characterizes this kind of behaviour where the House of Commons is now considering a government bill to approve it even though it has not gone through a process that is acceptable to the court in following the laws of Canada and following the Constitution.
It is ironic the rubbish that has been placed before this House by the Liberal speaker who has proposed this amendment. She says that the reason we should vote for this as members of the House is because the bridge goes into her leader's riding in Beausejour. This is absolute rubbish.
There are a couple of other points that are important. The previous speaker from Fundy-Royal says this will be a tremendous boost for the economy of Prince Edward Island. There is absolutely no evidence of that. The clear evidence is that if they remove the ferry then 600 jobs are going to be lost. They talk about 1,000 mythological jobs that may or may not arise on the Island but on the other side of the coin there have been as many good arguments that in fact business will go off the Island and there will be a job loss associated with it. The economic studies are inconclusive at best and certainly point to some concrete job losses as certainties. Those are the 600 jobs associated with the ferries.
My colleague from Skeena brought forward the issue of the toll provisions in the bill. We know what user-pay means to a Conservative. It is gouge and gouge again. There is the constitutional provision of providing a ferry and of assisting the province of Prince Edward Island because of the Island location and the terms of union. Certainly the user-pay approach is going to cost that province dearly. If the example pertains to where they
June 14, 1993
have used the approach of fee for service in other areas of the economy, it is going to be very harmful.
It is interesting when one goes through Prince Edward Island to see the GST impact on the economy of that province. It has really devastated it. Tourism is way down. Unemployment is way up and the economy basically because of the Tory GST is way down. Wait until every single thing that is brought to Prince Edward Island to be sold or every tourist going there has an additional $10 or $20 toll across a toll bridge. This is going to have another negative, regressive and harmful effect on Prince Edward Island.
All things considered I think that my colleague from Skeena has done an admirable job in summarizing the real complaints that we have with the amendment before the House and indeed the bill that has been proposed by the government. He points out that in his opinion and in the opinion of many others, that bill is illegal.
We should not be dealing with this legislation until the concerns of the courts are met, until the environmental review and assessment process has been completed to the satisfaction and requirements of the law of this country so that we do not wind up back in the courts again.
The hon. member for Skeena points out that the Constitution and laws of Canada have been violated. I do not think this House can countenance that kind of thing and certainly we will be voting against this bill.
They speak of this as being an environmental disaster with the complicated environment around a 13-kilometre bridge. There will be enormous winds in the winter and scouring ice. There are definitely going to be major engineering problems with it.
There is the environmental problem of the effect on the fishery in the Northumberland Strait area. This is again something that is wide open and could easily be damaged. He talks about a $10 million environmental trust fund. My colleague from Skeena was speaking the other day on the oil pollution funds that were put forward by governments to protect against oil spills. It has been completely pillaged by the government in its scouring of funds put there for the purpose of protecting Canadians against oil spills and providing them with some financial assistance for the clean up. The government has stolen those moneys from that fund. It will
undoubtedly steal moneys from this pittance that is put into the environmental fund in Prince Edward Island.
We are looking at guaranteed job losses. Some 600 jobs associated with the ferry service are gone. There is the promise of a mythical 1,000 jobs that may be created. Believe me, if it is like any other Conservative promise then there are not going to be 1,000 jobs for those people in P.E.I. who are looking for this.
Again we have the other problem of the harsh government policies that the Conservative government has already inflicted on Newfoundland, not the least of which is the GST. They complain bitterly in that province that it has harmed tourism; that GST at 7 per cent cleans out the entire economy and is going to be coupled with who knows what. Will it be a $10 toll or a $20 toll to drive a car across or to drive freight across, so that anything going in or out of that province is going to be taxed again?
The economic benefits that are preached by this government are certainly serious problems.
Subtopic: NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT