Mr. Bob Corbett (Fundy-Royal):
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this very important debate today, particularly in view of the fact that I am from New Brunswick, which is one of the provinces that will be directly involved in the construction of this very important structure.
Much has been said about the economic and other benefits that will accrue to Prince Edward Island. Much should be said about them because not only will there be economic benefits to Prince Edward Island but there will be a significant spin-off effect to the entire province of New Brunswick, the entire Atlantic region, and to Canada as a whole, as was mentioned by the hon.
parliamentary secretary. I will attempt to deal with some of those matters.
I believe that the benefits are substantial and self-evident. However, we must look at the entire project on a much broader scale and come to terms with what it is going to mean to us as Canadians and to our reputation as a whole.
Canada has garnered an enviable reputation throughout the world for megaprojects on a grandiose scale. We only have to think of the SkyDome and the CN Tower in Toronto and now we will have this magnificent link between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
From India to China to the Philippines Canadians have been involved in major projects such as dams, power generation installations, roads, telecommunication networks and so on. As a result we as Canadians have garnered a super reputation throughout the world for our capacity to be able to deal with projects of this nature and to complete them successfully.
It has brought about a significant amount of self-respect and international respect for Canadians for our ability to tackle large and challenging projects. Make no mistake, this link is big by any world standards.
What we are talking about in the Northumberland Strait bridge will be the largest bridge that will have ever been built in North America.
Let us take a look at some of the pieces of equipment to demonstrate the magnitude of what we are speaking about. The crane that will be used to put the pieces of this project together will be 325 feet in height. It will be one of the largest cranes that will ever have been built in the world.
The bridge will require 200,000 tonnes of cement,
53,000 tonnes of reinforcing steel and 130,000 tonnes of asphalt. It will be built in 183 separate parts. When it is completed this structure will be 10 times as long as San Francisco's famous Golden Gate Bridge. The project will be watched, it will be studied and it will be envied by engineering firms and governments around the world.
The Strait Crossing Incorporated is a Canadian firm which has already earned an international reputation in the design of bridges and other such structures. As it is being undertaken by a firm of such international reputa-
tion this will only serve to strengthen Canada's reputation for engineering excellence.
I believe people will come from all over the world, just as they have for the other projects we have undertaken in this country. I have already mentioned the SkyDome and the CN Tower.
I believe that people will come from far and wide to see what it is that we are doing once again here in Canada, which has contributed so substantially to our reputation.
There is something about bridges that catches the public imagination. It is true that people rarely write songs or write poetically about sewers or pipelines but bridges are different. They do catch the imagination of people. It has happened in the past. They have caught the fancy of poets, writers and singers from time immemorial.
Perhaps that is because bridges speak to the human aspirations of each of us in reaching out for unattainable goals and objectives. They break down the barriers that separate us and bring people closer together. When this bridge is completed there is no question it will take its place as one of the greatest bridges in the entire world and that it will be one of the great engineering undertakings of the late 20th century.
There is no question that there are some lingering concerns on the part of some of the people of Prince Edward Island. It is perfectly understandable that some people are concerned about what sort of effect this project will have on their lives and on their culture. These are natural concerns but by no means unique.
As a case in point I mention the bridge that connects Oland Island in Sweden with the mainland. This bridge crosses the Baltic Sea. Some 25 years ago this same type of controversy occurred in that particular community in Sweden. That bridge was eventually built and is the largest bridge in Europe, although it will be less than half the size of the Northumberland Strait Crossing. Nonetheless, as with the P.E.I. crossing, that bridge was talked about and argued about for decades before construction actually took place. There was a lot of passionate dissension about the ramifications of the bridge from some quarters before construction began,
just as there has been in the case of the Northumberland Strait Crossing.
A Canadian government committee which studied the Oland bridge and a few other projects a few years ago found that it was virtually impossible to find anybody today on that island who is in disagreement with the fact that the project went ahead.
Any major commitment is to some extent a leap of faith. However this project has been carefully planned and carefully studied, and there has been a maximum of consultation with both the Government of Canada and the Government of Prince Edward Island. I know the Government of New Brunswick has also been consulted. Most important, there has been a maximum of consultation with the public involved. It is a sound and economically viable project. It is a sound and economically sensible project.
As I mentioned when I began my remarks, I look forward to the economic spin-offs for the province of Prince Edward Island and the adjacent province of New Brunswick. I ran through some of the figures about the amount of cement and steel and things of that nature which will be put into this bridge. I mentioned the size of the crane. In the short term, let alone the long term, this means jobs which are vitally important to all of our economies, particularly to Prince Edward Island at this crucial time and New Brunswick.
I can only say that besides the obvious advantages of having an important transportation link finally take place, which has been talked about for a good many years and which will take place after an extensive and exhaustive examination of the details of any problems that might occur, we have been assured that the concerns about the project can be put aside. I am happy to support this bill.
Although it is not a bill about whether we should go ahead with the construction of the link but rather a bill that will put in place the mechanics so that we can deal with the financing that will be required, I am delighted that this government has taken the initiative to ensure that this will become a reality.
I want to express appreciation on behalf of the people of New Brunswick, who will be extremely pleased when they have the opportunity to take part in the actual construction phase. I know that the people of Prince Edward Island will echo those words. It is a project of the
February 22, 1993
future and Canadians will benefit from it. It will happen in the very near future.
Topic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic: MEASURE TO ENACT