Mr. Pat Nowlan (Annapolis Valley-Hants):
Mr. Speaker, I too am glad to speak at third reading stage in the closing few minutes of this debate. I speak with mixed thought as I have spoken before.
I commend and compliment the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie who spoke before me. While we do not
share the same party label this is beyond party labels as far as I am concerned.
I speak as you well know, Mr. Speaker, as an Atlantic Canadian. I am certainly very sensitive and respect the views of all members who have spoken, especially those from Atlantic Canada, and have declared right from the start without all the figures, reports, assessments and environmental problems, the fishery beds or the ferry workers. I come clean with a philosophical bias against any type of link between the mainland and the island. I feel very fundamentally that this is going to change the sociological character of the island. Lucy Montgomery who wrote Anne of Green Gables and other nostalgic novella will really be able to say from her resting place that Anne of Green Gables is going to become The Ghost of Cavendish Beach if a fixed link joins the mainland with the island.
I am from Nova Scotia. I have been on the island. I respect my colleagues from the island. Obviously if I was a member from the island with a built-in work project that supposedly was to be done entirely by private enterprise I would be only too happy for the potential jobs.
I have been here a few years and I look at the chunnel from England to Europe which was supposed to be all private enterprise, and the taxpayer is very involved. I am prepared to put my seat on the line to any member in this House and I wish they would too that the Canadian taxpayer is going to be involved in the fixed link in one form or the other after this bill is passed.
The figures themselves defy logic. The original estimate many years ago was $860 million and it will end up being a $1 billion bridge anyway.
The mother of one member of this House was in this House when a lot of energy and $14.9 million was expended on the foundations for the causeway in the 1960s which was finally abandoned in 1969. We can still see the rock work, the foundation and the track for the causeway that was going to cross the strait. That was interesting at the time as it came just before an election. It was sort of election fodder. I am afraid with all the respect and sincerity of all colleagues who have spoken,
June 15, 1993
that the timing of an election and the bill on the fixed link coming so close together is another interesting coincidence.
I am an Atlantic Canadian as are the members from York-Sunbury, Egmont, Hillsborough and others who have spoken. I would love to believe the statements of the Minister of Public Works as he introduced the third reading debate on the bill this afternoon. If I believed him I would not be speaking now.
I have had the experience of that 1960 construction and/or many of the conflicting reports. Frankly as far as I am concerned the fact of subsidies is a sham. Members have said we are going to take the subsidy money and put it in the bridge. There is nothing in this bill that says that subsidies will not continue to be paid to ferries. In the riding of the Minister of Public Works the government is going to commission a brand new feriy for some $48 million from Pictou Industries in Pictou County to ply the strait.
We are not going to have a bill on a fixed link, and that ferry will be built to last as long as the life of the so-called fixed link. We are not going to have a brand new ferry coming down the old draw way on a commission exercise in three or four months and put it in mothballs because we have a fixed link. There is too much hocus-pocus in this bill.
Although the public should mind, I do not mind the opposition speakers-and I discount the members from P.E.I., I can understand their point of view-and the government members all getting into bed together. This time thank God the members of the NDP are not in bed with them too as they were on the Constitution.
I was one of the lonely voices on the Charlottetown accord, speaking of the island. There were a few of us who took objection to it in this House and voted against it, yet all the parties for their reasons were for it. The people spoke on October 26 on the Charlottetown accord. I will not go back to the real history on Meech Lake. There was one Liberal who eventually became president of the Liberal Party, the member from Mount Royal, Donald Johnston on the Liberal side and I on the opposition side who had the temerity to speak out on Meech Lake. My point is not to relive the Constitution. This Parliament has no credibility on the Constitution in
view of what has happened and frankly it does not have any credibility on a project like this so late in the day.
How can we go out to the Canadian people and say there is fiscal restraint and we have to cut back here and there, and my goodness gracious there is a Santa Claus somewhere who is going to build the fixed link that has been talked about before Confederation?
I come from Atlantic Canada. Why do we not build the Chignecto canal? We have talked about it and from a Moncton point of view we could build it. Why not build the old dam from the Fundy tides? There are many beautiful projects out there.
In conclusion, the fact is we really destroy our credibility when out of the blue we seem to have some benefactor and a new program that is supposedly not going to cost the taxpayers any money. While every member has had things chopped from stem to stem we pretend we are going to fool the Canadian people and build a fixed link to P.E.I. that does not cost the taxpayers a penny.
Mr. Speaker, just by saying that proposition proves the point. You know it, I know it and the Canadian people know it.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT CROSSING ACT