Mr. Barry Moore (Pontiac-Gatineau-Labelle):
Mr. Speaker, this being my maiden speech in this House, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment to the Chair of the House of Commons. I am confident that you will fulfill your duties with success and integrity.
Mr. Speaker, as I said, this is the first time I speak in this House and I would like to thank all the constituents of my riding of Pontiac-Gatineau-Labelle, an area which is also part of the National Capital, for the confidence they placed in me on election day, September 4th. I would also like to thank all the people who campaigned with me, a number of whom also reside in the national capital, and who contributed to this victory.
I would like to mention that a large majority of Canadians have given the Progressive Conservative party the mandate to represent them in the House of Commons. I wish to tell my constituents, whatever their political suasion whether they live
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Constitution Act, 1867
in the national capital or elsewhere in the riding, that I am determined to represent them and serve them to the best of my abilities.
I would also like to take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to give you briefly some background on my riding of Pontiac-Gatineau-Labelle. This riding is a large rural area, made up of some 60 townships and villages and two small towns, Maniwa-ki and Mont-Laurier. It extends from the Ottawa River to the west, to the city of Hull to the south, and includes the Upper Gatineau Valley and the Lievre Valley. The Gatineau Park, a federal property, managed and maintained by the National Capital Commission, and the Parc de la Verendrye, a provincial park, are also in this riding.
Seventy three per cent of the population, is French-speaking and 27 per cent English-speaking. This riding is therefore a good reflection of the various cultures in Canada since it also has an ethnic and native element.
The main industries in this area are farming, tourism and forests.
Unemployment insurance and job creation are of particular concern to me, just as they are for my colleagues, since my constituency is a disadvantaged one as Canadians could realize by watching "The Fifth Estate" program of the CBC network on November 20 1984. For the time being, the creation of a federal district is not a real preoccupation.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to oppose Bill C-207 moved by my friend, the Hon. Member for Hull-Aylmer (Mr. Isabelle), which would amend section 16 of the Constitution Act, 1867, since part of my riding is included in the national capital region. The new section 16 would read: "It is hereby declared that the national capital of Canada and the seat of the federal government of Canada shall consist of the city of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario, and the city of Hull, in the Province of Quebec, and also of such surrounding area as prescribed from time to time by the Parliament of Canada." Mr. Speaker, this bill would change the limits of the national capital of Canada so as to include the city of Hull as well as any other area prescribed from time to time by the Parliament of Canada.
In mid-1975 a joint Senate-Commons Committee on the National Capital Region was formed to study the recommendations of the Fullerton report in order to find a way to govern an approximate 1,800 square-mile area under the joint jurisdiction of the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, the federal Government, approximately 50 local councils, and two regional governments.
Right from the beginning of this investigation into the possibility of making the National Capital Commission into a federal district somewhat like Washington in the District of Columbia, the committee ran into problems. The two Provinces of Ontario and Quebec did not want to enter into discussions that would have the effect of mapping the region's future.
Many committee meetings were held to study, among other things, briefs presented by municipalities from the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario. The participants at these meetings knew what they did not want, but nothing constructive was put forward. Not even an interim report was produced as a result of this committee's work, because of the confrontation of national objectives versus local concerns. It is a confrontation which has been a trademark of the previous administration.
Let me quote an article that appeared in The Citizen on November 11, 1977. It reads:
The municipalities wanted complete control of planning, while the NCC maintained that "the national interest in the capital region is larger than the sum _
of the local, regional and provincial interests." I
The same article concluded that this committee should not I be re-established unless all parties concerned participate I
actively and seriously and send serious representations. To my I
knowledge, the consensus of the two provinces, the municipali- I ties concerned and the regional governments has not yet been I obtained. I
Mr. Speaker, can we allow discussions on this bill? Are we I
going to reinstate a committee to address the issue? Let us I
take into account the present economic situation of our coun- I
try which is faced with an enormous deficit. In view of the Icurrent economic situation, can we afford to foot the bill for Iwhat the change proposed in this bill would entail? IWhat would be the total expenditures needed for such a Iproposal? IIf I may, Mr. Speaker, I should like to repeat what my Icolleague the Hon. Member for Lanark-Renfrew-Carleton I(Mr. Dick) said in this House on January 20, 1984 when I dealing with the Riel Committee which was created either in I1965 or 1966, and I quote: IIt wanted Ottawa and the surrounding area to be taken out of the Province of IOntario and the Hull and Gatineau area taken out of the Province of Quebec, Iand something like an eleventh province set up, a truly different area apart from IQuebec or Ontario which would be the capital territory as they have in IWashington, D.C. or in Canberra, Australia. IMy colleague acknowledged at that time that this project Iwould pose numerous difficulties. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, the Iproblems would be numerous and, above all, it would be costly. IMy friend, the Hon. Member for Hull-Aylmer (Mr. Isabelle), Iproposed the following in an interview given to the Le Droit Inewspaper in September, 1982: II would see the creation of a federal district administrated by a tripartite Icommission comprised of the Federal government, the government of Quebec Iand the government of Ontario. IMr. Speaker, you will know that the creation of such a Icommission would represent a major investment for Canada Iand this is a luxury we cannot afford in the present state of the Ieconomy. It is not a priority of this Government. I
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The federal capital district, Mr. Speaker, would cut into the authority of the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario. My colleague, the Hon. Member for Lanark-Renfrew-Carleton (Mr. Dick), asked if Quebec would willingly give up Hull, Gatineau, Gatineau Park, and Aylmer and allow them to fall into a new jurisdiction. Would Ontario willingly give up Ottawa, Kanata, and some of the rural areas to a new jurisdiction? 1 am sure that both Quebec and Ontario would never want to give up jurisdiction over any part of their municipalities. Assuming they would, what tax base would these residents of this new federal district come under? Will the federal Government have to compensate the provincial Government for the infrastructure now in place? Imagine the scenario of attempting to evaluate the present cost of this infrastructure and the debt per capita this new federal district would assume from the provinces and municipalities concerned.
Mr. Speaker, which law would be applied in a region which is part of two provinces? Ontario's law or Quebec's law? In any event, it would be costly for the taxpayers, not to mention the trouble such a change could spell for the residents who have to adapt themselves to a Federal district.
My hon. friend from Hull-Aylmer mentioned another matter. What education system would be used, Mr. Speaker? We know that each province has it own legislation relating to education. The curriculum and the requisite grades vary tremendously from one province to another.
Also, what language would be used at school, following the creation of such a district? Do you think the people from Quebec would want to adapt themselves to the education system of Ontario? I doubt it, Mr. Speaker, and rightly so, all the more so since Ontarians will not accept Quebec laws.
Would the school commissions in both provinces be consulted or would they have to accept the decision without having a say in the matter?
Mr. Speaker, would the Quebec or Ontario tax legislation apply? As you know, people in Quebec in Ontario do not have the same tax laws. Which one should we keep if the two areas are put together in a national capital district?
Would we consult Queen's Park in Ontario, the National Assembly in Quebec as well as all the people concerned before a decision is made? Or would we impose our decision upon them, as the last government used to do? Just think how much it would cost.
There is also the problem of transport. Presently, each region has its own transit system. We have OC Transpo in Ontario and CTCRO in Quebec. Should we then create a new independent transit system for both areas? In addition, the laws for drivers are different. Would a driving permit cost the same for everybody? Would Ontario residents have to buy
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Quebec automobile insurance in this new district? Many questions come to my mind, Mr. Speaker. Would it be necessary to amend as well the laws regarding automobile insurance?
Let us not forget the sales tax! In Quebec, at the present time, there is no sales tax on some products, including clothes and furniture. Maybe some tax free products in Ontario are taxed in Quebec. Would that change with the new National Capital Commission? The tax rate is not the same either in restaurants in both provinces. This is something else which might have to be changed, Mr. Speaker.
The Quebec Provincial Police as well as the Ontario Provincial Police are two different entities. If we put together Hull and its surroundings and Ottawa in a federal district, does that mean that we will create another police force for that area or are we going to call on the RCMP?
Mr. Speaker, I repeat that in the face of the economic climate in which the Canadian people find themselves presently we cannot consider such changes which all entail very expensive investments. Are we going to create another level of government with the federal district? We are trying to reduce red tape. We have now the following levels of government: the federal government, the provincial governments, the municipalities, the school boards, the regional municipalities, and we are going to add to that a federal district. Imagine. Can we afford to create another level over and above all those we already have? I think, and many of my constituents do too, that we already face too much bureaucracy.
Mr. Speaker, who is going to benefit from this bill? Are we simply going to make life difficult for the residents of the National Capital area? If they chose to live in the city where they are now, they must have a good reason. What would this change imply for residents on the Quebec side, considering the present gap in housing prices in the two cities? Would it be advantageous or not for them if this bill were passed? In order to support this matter, I would like to quote a paragraph from the November 6th issue of The Citizen.
I should like to quote an article which appeared in The Citizen in February 1977. Mr. Claude Morin, Quebec's Minister of Inter-Governmental Affairs said:
-the new Quebec Government would drastically curtail NCC powers on the Quebec side of the river in an attempt to keep the area from being turned into a federal district.
Has there been any consultation since then with the Quebec Government or with the new Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs? Has he consulted recently with the Minister? I do not think so. I think it is just another way of ramming something down the throats of Canadians, without consultation and without any regard for the will of Canadians, and it would be in keeping with the practices of the previous administration.
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Mr. Speaker, I should like to read from an article in the newspaper Le Droit of September 9, 1982 in which my colleague the Hon. Member for Hull-Aylmer is quoted as saying:
1 am surprised at the reactions of certain mayors of the region, like Mr. Charette of Val-des-Monts. He should have the roof of the Olympic Stadium to cover the hole in his head.
Mr. Speaker, is that the proper way to treat people who are against a Bill? That, Mr. Speaker, is another example of the typical arrogance of the Liberals.
Let me ask this question: Are we going to let this Bill go through just like that, or are we going to set up another committee to consider the matter? Do we intend to inform and consult the residents of the two regions involved before proceeding with a Bill which entails a radical change for Canadians?
Mr. Speaker, that is why I am against the Bill sponsored by my colleague the Hon. Member for Hull-Aylmer.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-PUBLIC BILLS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1867 AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE HULL IN NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION