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37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Transport


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Wednesday, February 12, 2003




¹ 1555
V         The Chair (Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Lib.))
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande (Warden, Municipalité régionale de Comté de Papineau)
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande

º 1600

º 1605
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné (General Director, Conseil régional du Développement de l'Outaouais)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore (Warden, Municipalité régionale du Comté d'Argenteuil)

º 1610
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore

º 1615
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         The Chair

º 1620
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance)
V         Mr. Joe Gilmore
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ)

º 1625
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise

º 1630
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Liza Frulla (Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles, Lib.)
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. James Moore

º 1635
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         The Vice-Chair (Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, CA))
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.)
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande

º 1640
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Ms. Paulette Lalande
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair

º 1645
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         The Chair
V         M. Gilles Gagné
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         M. Gilles Gagné
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         M. Gilles Gagné
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair

º 1650
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Gilles Gagné
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley (Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Trucking Alliance)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley

» 1700
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         Mr. Graham Cooper (Senior Vice-President, Canadian Trucking Alliance)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley

» 1705

» 1710
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Graham Cooper
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Elly Meister (Vice-President, Public Affairs, Canadian Trucking Alliance)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley

» 1715
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley

» 1720
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Bradley

» 1725
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Liza Frulla

» 1730
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         Mr. Graham Cooper

» 1735
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise

» 1740
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         Mr. Graham Cooper

» 1745
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         Mr. David Bradley

» 1750
V         Mr. Graham Cooper
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Bradley
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         The Chair

» 1755
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Transport


NUMBER 010 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¹  +(1555)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Lib.)): Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

    The order of the day, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), is examination of the issue of highway infrastructures across Canada. I apologize for the absence of members on the Liberal side, with the exception of one. I'm told that several members are on their way. I know that it's a bit disrespectful to the witnesses, who come a long way to give their evidence. I apologize for the delay.

    We have as our witnesses today, Ms. Lalande, from the Municipality of Papineau, welcome; Mr. Gilmore, from the Regional Municipality of Argenteuil; and Mr. Gagné, from the Conseil régional de développement de l'Outaouais.

    The usual process is that we hear submissions from each of the witnesses and then there will be questions from each of the members of the House of Commons who are present.

    Do you agree with that format? I know it's ladies first, but I would like the lady to agree to that.

[Translation]

+-

    Ms. Paulette Lalande (Warden, Municipalité régionale de Comté de Papineau): Yes.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Ms. Lalande.

[Translation]

+-

    Ms. Paulette Lalande: Good afternoon. First I would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to express our point of view. I think that this is a very good initiative. I am the reeve of the MRC of Papineau; I represent 24 mayors and a part of the rural community that is not necessarily all that far from Ottawa, but where we often have the impression that it is because we have no four-lane highways. I can tell you that I left very early this morning because I was afraid of getting here late. I had to take highway 148, where there are a lot of accidents.

    I think that just about everything has already been said about the importance of highway 50. Briefs have been submitted. At the MRC of Papineau, there are two full boxes of documents that have been presented over the past 35 years. In fact, I think that 35 is a rather conservative figure, and it is more like 50 years. So, obviously, I will not talk today about everything that has already been said in the past.

    Today, I want to talk to you from the heart. I want to talk as a woman who is involved in her community. Why does the federal government exist? For two reasons. First, it has power. As you know, power is not necessarily a bad thing; it gives the government the opportunity to meet the needs of citizens. That applies to all elected officials, in my opinion.

    With power also comes responsibilities. When I compare my little municipality to the federal government, I come across as quite poor. You are the ones with money and it should be used to meet the needs of Canadians.

    The second point I wanted to focus on today is the will of the government. As far as I am concerned, just about the only person we have not written to about this is Santa Claus. Maybe we should have. We have done everything within our power to demonstrate the importance of this for our region, where the unemployment is high and where young people often suffer from stress. We have told you for years that we need this four-lane highway. We could talk until we are blue in the face and submit all the documents in the world on the topic, but if there is no will on your part to build this highway, then it will never be built.

    When we talk about a highway, we are talking about a four-lane highway. I know that they are now talking about building it on the Quebec side, but only a two-lane highway. Yet, if you look at the definition of “autoroute” in a French dictionary, you will see that it is a four-lane highway with a median in the middle. That is what we need.

    This is important, indeed, very important. No matter where the money comes from, one thing is sure: everyone wants this highway. And if you want this project to be carried out, I am convinced that you can find the money needed. You have the responsibility to meet citizens' needs in various areas.

    I know that you have a number of responsibilities, including in the area of health, but highways are often what make a community healthy and able to develop, and enable its citizens to travel. In many ways, you too would reap the benefits of this project, if only the satisfaction of knowing that the citizens that elected you were happy with the decisions that you made.

º  +-(1600)  

    I know that you make many very good decisions, but this autoroute is extremely important to us.

    Why should the federal government invest in an autoroute in Quebec? That is the eternal question. First, perhaps to allow the members from Quebec to drive home through their own province. I am thinking of Ms. Frulla, who lives in Montreal; I am sure that she would rather go through Quebec on her way home. Currently, she is forced, I believe, to take highway 417, like most people, because the roads on the Quebec side are in very bad shape. That is one good reason.

    Another reason is the absolute necessity for Ottawa, the national capital, to be less isolated. There are no roads from Ottawa to Quebec. I think that Ottawa should be working for all communities in all provinces. Right now, this is only true for Ontario, because we have nothing. It is impossible to get to Quebec from there.

    Furthermore, in Quebec, our capital city is not accessible by highway. The worst thing is that this is the only place in North America with two urban centres in the same province or state not connected by a four-lane highway. It is the only place. Our region will remember this in a negative light. If the federal government built a four-lane highway just to connect these two cities, that would already be one good reason.

    You have a mission. All of us who are elected representatives have a mission. We were elected by constituents who are counting on us. People constantly say that constituents want to see themselves in their representatives. Personally, I would like to see myself in you, your values, your heart, and especially in how you listen. Listen to those in need; they are asking you for something truly fundamental.

    Ladies and gentlemen, if you were Santa Claus, I would write you a letter. I would not mind if it would get me the highway. I would not mind because it is essential. The government has the power to give people in our region something extraordinary.

    So, I hope that we will get our four-lane highway. You will all be invited to the opening ceremony. I have no problem with that. I do not even want any credit. If the government wants to take all the credit, it can have it, providing we get our highway.

    Thank you very much.

º  +-(1605)  

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Lalande.

    Maybe by way of clarification, could you explain the area you're talking about?

+-

    Mr. Gilles Gagné (General Director, Conseil régional du Développement de l'Outaouais): Yes, I'll do it.

+-

    The Chair: Are you from Papineau?

+-

    Mr. Gilles Gagné: No, I'm not from Papineau.

+-

    The Chair: Are you talking about the same highway system?

+-

    Mr. Gilles Gagné: Yes, it's the same.

+-

    The Chair: Would you do that then?

+-

    Mr. Gilles Gagné: We're all together.

+-

    The Chair: I see.

+-

    Mr. Gilles Gagné: I'll speak French.

    The Chair: Fine.

[Translation]

    We are talking about the Outaouais region now. The Outaouais is on the other side of the Ottawa River. Gatineau, the urban area, faces Ottawa but, farther to the east, there is the RCM of Papineau, which borders the RCM of Argenteuil. To give you a better idea, imagine we are coming back down from Mirabel toward Gatineau. That is the stretch of highway we are talking about.

    I would like to give you some statistics. There are 330,000 inhabitants spread over 33,000 km2 in the Outaouais. So, the part in question connects Montreal to Gatineau and Gatineau to Ottawa. The highway is extremely important to us, particularly in terms of economic development. Of course, a highway would enable members from Quebec to go home via Quebec, but it would also enable the Outaouais region to realize its potential economically.

    I want to mention that the Outaouais is home to the largest reserve of deciduous and eastern white pine forest. Our goal is secondary and tertiary processing, but highway infrastructure is essential if we want to do this properly. So, the highway is the top priority for the Outaouais. It is a priority to enable, for one, this industry to fully expand and areas like the RCM of Papineau to achieve economic development on par with communities on the Ontario side of the river.

    The other reason why Autoroute 50 is so important is that the Outaouais region has great potential in terms of tourism. To develop this potential, a highway is essential so that people from Ontario can come to the Outaouais side. Many of them already do, for example to ski, but the highway would maximize the area's potential. It would also permit people from greater Montreal and other regions to come to the Outaouais.

    So, the nature of Autoroute 50 is first and foremost economic and industrial. That is why this is the top priority. I think that the RCM of Argenteuil, in the Laurentian Mountains, shares similar concerns.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Gagné.

    Mr. Gilmore.

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore (Warden, Municipalité régionale du Comté d'Argenteuil): Mr. Chairman, a few minutes ago you asked, do people mind waiting a few minutes until the others get here? We've been waiting 50 years for an autoroute and we don't mind another 15 or 20 minutes. It's not going to change our life.

º  +-(1610)  

+-

    The Chair: Very good. That puts it into perspective.

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: Nevertheless, our main preoccupation for the municipalities that we have along that route...I'll situate it for you. Autoroute 15 comes out of Montreal and goes north to Mont Tremblant, and from that highway to Gatineau, or Hull, or Ottawa, there's no link, absolutely no link, except Highway 148. Highway 148 was built in the horse and buggy days. It's a narrow road, it's a very dangerous road, and as it is now it's two lanes; it's two ways.

+-

    The Chair: Highway 148 goes from where to where, Mr. Gilmore?

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: Highway 148 comes from Highway 15 all the way to Gatineau. That is the only link there now. That has two lanes. As it is now, that road is overloaded. On provincial roads we say trucking should be about 10% of the load on that road. As it is now, trucking is 19% on Highway 148, and they're running night and day. It used to be a lovely area to come to for the tourists and everything, to Chateau Montebello and all of the areas you know. Nobody comes any more. Everybody is suffering.

    When you go on that highway you're taking your life in your hands. Accidents occur there every day. A section of Highway 50 was built from Gatineau to Masson. That is a four-lane highway, and there's no problem at this end. At the other end, they built--

+-

    The Chair: Some of us are not familiar with the terrain. Where does 50 begin and where does it end as four lanes?

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: It all depends if you want to start here or at Highway 15. Autoroute 15 is the north-south link.

+-

    The Chair: No, we got that, but from Hull.

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: It starts right here in Hull-Gatineau and it finishes at Masson. It's four lanes, and there's no problem--

+-

    The Chair: I see. About how many miles is that?

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: About 11.

+-

    Mr. Gilles Gagné: It's about 20 or 22 kilometres, I think.

+-

    The Chair: Now we're getting the picture. Thank you.

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: They started building Highway 50 from the other end, from Highway 15.

+-

    The Chair: And how far is that?

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: It's 11 kilometres, which is about six and a half miles.

+-

    The Chair: Just to fill it out then, from--

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: And that is a two-way highway. The overpasses are for a four-lane highway, but this is a two-lane highway only.

+-

    The Chair: And how many miles is Highway 148 where it's two lanes?

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: It's about 97 kilometres, which is about 60 miles.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you. Now we have a picture.

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: All right.

    The section of Highway 50 they built, the 11 kilometres or six miles from Autoroute 15 to Lachute, has now developed into the same type of highway as Highway 148, because it cannot take the load. Everybody is coming out of Montreal. There are problems with circulation in Montreal, getting in and out of it, and now they're using Autoroute 15 and Highway 50 and then coming down Highway 148. Some of them are crossing the bridge at Hawkesbury to take Highway 417. They can't get out of Montreal on Highway 40 to reach Highway 417, so they reach it through the province of Quebec on our side of the river. That's what's causing the problem there. They did the two lanes for Highway 50 because they didn't have the money to go ahead with any more.

    Now they've voted money for the completion of Highway 50 for 2007. They've voted $200 million for the completion of that road, but that's only a two lanes.

    We have a problem on Highway 148 now, and within five years that highway will be scraped. It will be no good. In the province of Quebec now we're saying we're going to build another Highway 148 but call it an autoroute. That's not going to resolve the problem. We need a four-lane highway through there. That is the only thing that is going to solve our problem, because those monster trucks.... I don't have to tell you people that.

    I'm the mayor of a municipality that has 17 kilometres, or 12 miles, of Highway 148 running through. It's rural and urban; it's not a city. But 12 miles of Highway 148 runs through our municipality, and it's terrible. It's night and day. The traffic on there is terrible, and there are accidents one after another. The bridges are going all to heck. They're probably going to have to close the highway and get people to go around somewhere else so that they can repair the bridges. There's nothing they can do. The reason for that is because everybody wants to come to this area. People want to come here and people want to get out of here--the truckers, the businessmen, everybody.

    You people, elected officials, travel by plane, but some people travel by car. I know the premier of the province of Quebec was offended to no end because he had to travel on Highway 417 all the time to come to Hull. He had to cross the bridge through Ottawa because Highway 148 is a killer.

    I don't see why. Our municipality is fifty-fifty, French and English. We've always worked on a joint venture basis, and we can't understand why, at this stage of the game, the federal government says, “We're not going to participate in the completion of Highway 50”. If we're doing it everywhere else, why can't we do it in the province of Quebec?

    It has been proven that two-lane autoroutes are no good. We're redoing some parts of Highway 175 between Quebec City and Chicoutimi, up in the north. It's going to four lanes. There are accidents one after another. The businesses, our industries, everybody, has evolved, but our roads have not; we've gone backwards. Not only have they not evolved, but we're not even repairing them any more.

    It has reached the stage now that we have to put up some money and bite the bullet, because it has to be done; we have no choice. Even down in New Brunswick we're redoing the highways that were two lanes. We're making them four lanes, and those are joint ventures. The federal government is involved there.

º  +-(1615)  

    But with our people, I don't know if it's a question of politics or what, but as a citizen, as a mayor, and as the warden of the county, I'm not talking politics; I'm talking basic sense here. The fact that we have a killer highway that exists between Autoroute 15 and Gatineau is causing a lot of problems. It's causing a lot of problems for the people of the Ottawa area for the simple reason that business is not coming here.

    Why do you think nothing is operating at Mirabel Airport, which is on Autoroute 50? For the simple reason that people had such a hard time getting there, so they just stopped going. Can you imagine this? We built Autoroute 13 that comes out of Montreal to service Mirabel Airport. It doesn't even reach Mirabel Airport. It was never completed. These are the things we're faced with.

    So I would like it if you folks would reconsider and go through the drawers and see if you can't come up with some loose change for us poor people down on Highway 50.

    Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Gilmore.

    I'm not asking questions, but just so that we all have it clear, Highway 50 extends off Highway 15 but is not four lanes. Is that correct?

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: That's right.

+-

    The Chair: It's a two-lane highway synonymous with what's there with Highway 148 now, and that's about 11 kilometres. Why did they call it Highway 50 going into 148? Usually 50 would designate a four-lane highway, but they call that section from Highway 15, Highway 50.

º  +-(1620)  

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: Well, Autoroute 15 is the Laurentian autoroute and runs north-south. Highway 50, if you're starting from here, ends there.

+-

    The Chair: Where does 148 come in?

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: Highway 148 starts at Lachute, as far as the highway network is concerned now, but Highway 148 runs right into Montreal, right in through Laval.

+-

    Mr. Gilles Gagné: Highway 148 is the old highway and Highway 50 is the new one, which is projected. The Quebec government will put in money to make two lanes, but making a new highway with two lanes doesn't solve what we are asking.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    The reason we have the national highway program on the agenda is due to Ms. Frulla and Mr. Laframboise, who insisted, through their association on the committee.... They realize what your problems are.

    I'm going to go to Mr. Laframboise for questioning, and then I'm going to turn to Ms. Frulla to ask some questions.

    You don't mind, Mr. Moore?

+-

    Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): I have a broader question. Given that municipalities are creatures of provinces, not the federal government, and given that the province of Quebec has the highest taxes of any province in Canada, and given that the Quebec provincial government consumes a larger share of the provinces' GDP than any other government in Canada, let me just ask this question. Why should taxpayers in my constituency do for you what the provincial government hasn't done for you? What have you and the provincial government worked out together?

+-

    Mr. Joe Gilmore: The provincial government is doing something for us now. They're putting in a two-lane highway. As I said, it's not resolving the problem because this involves more than just the province of Quebec. We're also talking about Ontario. We're talking about big industries like Bombardier, one of the biggest aircraft industries in the world today, which is located at Mirabel. They can't use any networks because there are none.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: Well, Bombardier has had more than its share of taxpayers money anyway.

    That was the only question I had.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    First, it is essential to understand that one of the committee's goals today is to influence budgets in Canada. The federal budget will be tabled next Tuesday. It is important for us to make the Liberal government, for one, understand that taxes—

    Mr. Moore was talking about what the Quebec government was able to do. As we know, the Quebec government has proposed that Autoroute 50 be a two-lane highway. Why call it an autoroute in this case? Because expropriations and overpasses were done for a four-lane highway. However, only a two-lane highway will be built. Expropriations were done for a four-lane highway in the area, for example, between the 15 and Lachute through Mirabel. The overpasses are made for four lanes, but only two lanes will be paved.

    This spring, the Quebec government, via Minister Landry, came to say that it would build a two-lane highway and that if the federal government wanted to pay its share, it would build a four-lane highway. I think that this is the message you came to deliver today. Of course, we must not forget—and I have the figures, which you can verify—that the federal government collects $900 million per year from the gasoline excise tax and has invested, over the past five years, barely $100 million in highways and autoroutes, including bridges. We are talking not just about autoroutes, but about all the investments that the federal government made, particularly in the Champlain and Jacques-Cartier bridges. Of all investments in roads, only $100 million came from the excise tax.

    Still in answer to Mr. Moore, I will say that the province invested 96.7% of its excise tax in highways, autoroutes and other transportation systems in Quebec, while the federal government invested only 23%. So, we believe there is some flexibility and that the federal government could use the excise tax, in its next budget, to improve existing programs.

    Do you believe that the federal government should improve existing programs, whatever they might be—I could give you lots of letters that I have received—and include Autoroute 50 in one of these programs, be it strategic infrastructure or something else?

º  +-(1625)  

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: I think that it is simply a question of being willing. As I was saying, if the federal government really believed that it was vital to connect the two cities and that all that part of Quebec under its jurisdiction—. When we talk about the federal government, we are talking about all the provinces. I reiterate that all kinds of reasons will be found for not doing this. The hon. member found one, and you will find another. Everyone can find all sorts of reasons for not doing this. Once again, it is a question of the government being willing to recognize and understand the importance of this highway for an entire area within our region.

    Furthermore, we are very close to the national capital, and we often feel as if we are not part of it because there is no four-lane highway connecting our region to Ottawa. There are the Laurentian Mountains. Someone was talking earlier about Mont-Tremblant. No doubt, you have all skied at Mont-Tremblant or paid a visit there. You know that we do not have a four-lane highway. This means that Quebec is being penalized, as it were.

    I think that we are too close to the federal government for it to abandon us like this. The funds needed must be found at all costs. Take them from whichever program you want. We know that when the federal government wants something—as we have seen numerous times before—it finds the funds needed. Today, we are asking you for a four-lane highway.

    The hon. member was asking earlier why we want a four-lane highway. This highway goes to Masson because of an investment by the federal government, because it was within the National Capital Commission's territory. We wanted this highway to be extended, but it stopped there.

    We hope that one day Autoroute 50 will connect to Autoroute 15. That day, it will have earned its name. You are right in saying that we call it an autoroute, but that only one section of it has been completed. I hope, sir, that it will be totally completed and then it can rightfully be called Autoroute 50.

    I assure you that this is an absolute necessity for us. I am sure that, if you wanted, you could find the funds needed.

    Thank you.

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: I have the note from the Quebec government telling us that it is currently negotiating with the famous $2 billion Canadian Strategic Infrastructure Fund. Negotiations on the 175 are underway—an announcement about this was made in the Saguenay—and there are also separate negotiations on the 30 and the 185. However, the 50 is never mentioned.

    We must not forget, however, that the Canadian Strategic Infrastructure Fund was created in the 2001 budget; so it was created very recently. As a result, in December 2001, during post-budgetary discussions, Mr. Chevrette had written a letter that I could read you, but I will not. He sent the federal government five memorandums of understanding on participating in this fund. These memorandums dealt, among other things, with highways 30, 35, 50, 175 and 185.

    I would like to know what you think about the fact that the federal government does not want to include the 30, or even the 50 in discussions with the Canadian Strategic Infrastructure Fund.

º  +-(1630)  

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Laframboise.

    Ms. Frulla, I'm sure you have something to add.

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    Ms. Liza Frulla (Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles, Lib.): I want to go back to the infrastructure program. I remember when I was doing the infrastructure program.

[Translation]

    As far as I know, infrastructure program priorities are established by each province, and then by the municipalities. If I understand correctly, the terms have not changed. I would, however, like to know why Autoroute 50 was not included, since it has been a subject of discussion for so long.

    Ms. Lalande and Mr. Gagné, I can only agree with you. Two weeks ago, I set out for this region from Mont-Tremblant. However, not only was this road not appropriate for the traffic—big transport trucks, for one—and trade, but there is a safety issue. As you said, Mr. Gilmore, the current road seems very unsafe.

    All we want to know now is if the Quebec government explained why it picked other priorities over this one.

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: Making roads part of a national system is a very old practice. Obviously, all the provinces must agree. But, clearly, if this is the procedure, Ms. Frulla, we will not get the provinces to agree.

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: Obviously, the way to go is through the infrastructure fund and not the national highway system.

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: I think that—

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: This project, like the one in Chicoutimi, comes under that program.

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: I am convinced that, at the federal level, the 50 could fit into other programs if, of course, people wanted it to. It is easy to hide and tell others that it was not included and to ask why the provincial government did not include it when it should have.

    But that way, Ms. Frulla, this highway will not be built for another 50 years. I think that it is a question of being willing; in any case, that is our opinion. You are right in saying that the provincial government has jurisdiction, but the federal government also has its responsibilities.

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla: I completely agree and in any event, Marcel and Mario are much better able to discuss this issue than I. I am coming back to this out of curiosity; it seems to fit very well within the framework of the infrastructure program.

    Pardon my reaction, Mr. Moore, but people have to stop thinking that the other provinces are footing the bill for Quebec. I would like that to appear in the record, please. Quebec has the second largest population; as far as I can tell, we are footing the bill for the others.

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    Mr. James Moore: That is not what I said. You have to be honest when you talk about someone else's position.

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: But Quebec has the highest taxes and there are cultural and social reasons for this; those are choices that have been made, and that is fine.

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    Mr. James Moore: I agree.

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: I am sorry, but this is not corporate welfare. It is the responsibility of both levels of government, when it applies. But in terms of traffic and safety, James, I think it is quite important.

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    Mr. James Moore: Yes, yes, I agree. I do not know why you are so annoyed with me; I agree. What got me was the suggestion that a four-lane highway should be built so that Bombardier could put its products on the market.

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: That is not the reason.

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    Mr. James Moore: Bombardier has received enough money from taxpayers throughout the country.

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: No, that is not the reason. I want this to be clear. We would be pleased to pay for your needs; that is what the Canadian confederation is all about. We would be pleased to pay for your needs, but we expect something in return. That is all.

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    Mr. James Moore: Yes, absolutely, but you are in the wrong party, because it is your party that used knives against Quebec, and not the others.

º  +-(1635)  

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: No, no. I really think that—

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    Mr. James Moore: Mario agrees.

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    Mr. Gilles Gagné: In the list of four-lane highways that were considered a priority, Mr. Chevrette included highways 30 and 50, which means they are among Quebec's top priorities. Some have already been taken into account, but to cover all requests Autoroute 50 must be included.

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    The Vice-Chair (Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, CA)): You still have seven minutes if you want.

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: No, I will give my time to Marcel, since this is about his riding and his region. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Good afternoon, Ms. Lalande, Mr. Gagné and Mr. Gilmore. I am pleased to see that people from the Outaouais travelled here to meet with us and discuss Autoroute 50. It has been talked about it for such a long time: some 50 years. I am too young to have been there since the beginning. Maybe Mario was around, but not me. It is a matter of age.

    Ms. Lalande, you are certainly aware that so far, the federal government has invested more than $100 million in Autoroute 50. I know that you know this; I am simply reminding you. You will be surprised because Mario and I will not disagree; that would be too easy. I could talk to you about previous wardens, and all sorts of things.

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: I hope not.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: That is not want we want to do. Instead we are both going to say that we know the federal government has a strong interest in Autoroute 50. I have been listening to you talk about the 30 and the 185, and the infrastructure project. I was late because I was held up in the House and I apologize, but I hope that no one has told you that the federal government refused to consider Autoroute 50 in the plan—

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: No.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Good, alright. Autoroute 50 was submitted by the Government of Quebec as one of the priorities in the strategic infrastructure program and it was not turned down. So let us not be too quick to panic. I just want us all to be aware that the federal government has a strong interest in this highway. So far, it has invested $100 million in Autoroute 50, both at the Outaouais end and at the Lachute and Mirabel end. Now we have to work on a way to find money to pay for building up these two regions.

    I would like to ask you a question. How can you, as the RCMs and the conseil, help us local federal politicians—

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: By voting for you, sir.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Honestly—

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: Listen, Mr. Proulx, that is just about the size of it.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: You have elected members, do you not? How can you help us? Do you have tools you can provide us with? First, I understand that Quebec is going to make this a two-lane highway. In terms of making it four-lane, you know as well as I do that origin-destination surveys have shown for many years that the volume of traffic justifies, does not justify, justifies, does not justify— Do you have tools, such as petitions or resolutions from RCMs and municipalities, that could serve as support?

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: Mr. Proulx, I am telling you—

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: As you said earlier, we have to be positive. We should not always be as critical as Mr. Laframboise.

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: Do you know what I meant to do today? I meant to bring along two full boxes of resolutions and petitions. I said earlier—it is a shame you were not here—that the only person we did not write to is Santa Claus. We wrote to everyone. We explained how isolated our region is, how essential a four-lane highway is and how dangerous highway 148 is. With a two-lane highway, as she said, nothing will change. Mr. Gilmore mentioned this also. Furthermore, it will be faster.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: If a two-lane highway is built, it might end up being called highway 25.

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: Exactly, because it will be only half an autoroute. You are right, Mr. Proulx. When you ask what we at the RCM can do, I say we cannot do any more. We have said everything there is to say over and over since 1967, in every way shape and form, in every language, Mr. Proulx, I am telling you that we are at the point where if you are not willing to do this, it will never be done and we will have wasted our time. If you ask for more studies, I am going to send both boxes to your office. It would not bother me because it makes no sense to conduct more studies. This has been shuffled from one warden to another; and not just wardens. I represent 24 mayors here. When we elect you to the federal government, we expect you to represent the people. You especially have to respond to the needs of the people in different areas. Today, we are here to discuss highways; other times we may discuss health. But it is your responsibility; that is why you were elected. You were elected to meet the needs of the people. As I said earlier, each citizen wants to see himself in his representative.

º  +-(1640)  

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Ms. Lalande, you are taking up my time. You are telling us that we are not doing anything.

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: No, Mr. Proulx, that is not what I said.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: You have the infrastructure program; $100 million was invested in Autoroute 50 and we agreed that federal MPs have done some work.

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: Did I say you did not?

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: We agree that work still needs to be done. I am asking you how you can help us do our work.

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    Ms. Paulette Lalande: Mr. Proulx, I am going to send you both boxes. That will cover it.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Mr. Gagné, do you have any ideas?

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    Mr. Gilles Gagné: I would simply like to say that this has been the subject of several resolutions that were supported by almost all politicians and economists. Everyone agrees that this is a top priority for the region.

    I would also like to remind you that the completion of Autoroute 50, with relation to our mandate, is integral to the economic development of all areas of the Outaouais region. Furthermore, in conjunction with the Laurentians, a number of studies have been done, including one from 1991 that has been updated, and that gives us an idea of the spinoffs and significance this could have for both regions and even the governments over the next 20 years. I can provide you with this study. Finally, for the provincial and federal governments, this is not an expenditure in the strictest sense of the word; it is in fact an investment because the return that comes in the form of taxes and what not on the money that would be invested would be enough to pay back both governments over a 20-year period.

    I would also like to say that economically speaking—and this is what concerns the conseil and several organizations—it is above all an infrastructure that can be justified from the point of view of industry, trade and tourism.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Does the conseil have positions—?

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    Mr. Gilles Gagné: A toll highway has been suggested, but I think that for all sorts of reasons of fairness, interest, and so on, it would not be a good idea to build a toll highway when, between them, the federal and provincial governments could come up with the money for an additional four-lane highway. This highway is Quebec's doorway to the nation's capital. It would be somewhat odd to require people to pay on the Quebec side and not on the Ontario side. I do not think this would be a viable solution.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Thank you, Mr. Gagné. Thank you, Ms. Lalande.

[English]

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    The Chair: Your 30 seconds was exactly 126 seconds.

    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Shucks, I'll do better next time.

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Do you have train service in this area we're talking about? Do you have any passenger train service?

º  +-(1645)  

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    Mr. Gilles Gagné: Yes, we have train service, but for freight.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Mr. Laframboise.

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: I would like, if I may, to pick up on what Marcel said. First, with respect to the toll highway, you have to understand that this is a highway that will promote the economic and industrial development and that will attract business. In order for the region to be competitive, we cannot have the highway on the Quebec side as a toll highway, when it is free on the Ontario side. If toll booths were built one day, they would have to be built on both sides. Otherwise, we would no longer be competitive.

    Marcel Proulx asked you if you would be prepared to help us with petitions. I have something to propose to him, because I know what happened elsewhere in Quebec. There was Accès-Bleuets, which worked very hard to get highway 175. I am perfectly prepared to do that, but the only thing is that we need to ask for a movement to start collecting signatures—there were a lot of petitions. I remember getting signatures by the side of highway 323 that leads to Mont-Tremblant and highway 148. We stopped traffic and we had people sign a petition. It is not a problem to get people to sign petitions. However, you need to know who to target. If Marcel told me today that he needed help convincing the federal government, we would start a petition asking the federal government to invest in highway 50.

    If there was no squabbling, if we understood each other correctly, if we said that Quebec has done its share now and if Mr. Proulx needed help, would you be prepared to help the government, to make the request and to support it in a grassroots movement in order to get popular support to get the government to make the right decision? Would you be prepared to do that?

    A voice: Absolutely.

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    The Chair: To whom are you directing your question, Mr. Laframboise? Any witness.

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    M. Gilles Gagné: Of course we are prepared to do that. In fact, in the past, we have had a few such opportunities. Mr. Laframboise was a reeve at the time. There were some demonstrations and there were also a few activities to offer support. If we need to do so now, we would again be prepared to help and give all the support needed.

[English]

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    The Chair: Are you all through, Mr. Laframboise? You have another minute?

    Final questioning of the witnesses.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: My final question will be short and sweet.

[Translation]

    Would it be possible to meet, through the conseil, with Mr. Laframboise? You will see that we are opponents, but we can work together. Could we sit down together to see—? You are the only municipalities, the only regional representatives to have been invited to take part in this study of ours on infrastructures across Canada. I think that you did a good job in defending your positions. I think that everyone agrees to support highway 50. Now, beyond this context, we can get together, Mario, the conseil, myself and your stakeholders, to see exactly what we can do. Agreed?

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    M. Gilles Gagné: Yes, excellent.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Thank you very much. I propose that the conseil be the vehicle, but that obviously includes—

    Thank you for coming to see us. Thank you for being here on this beautiful crisp day.

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Proulx.

    How much of the area we're talking about is part of the capital commission?

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Are you talking about the territory of the National Capital Commission?

    Within the National Capital Commission's territory, Highway 50 has just about been completed. There are a few kilometres still being completed. But for the major part, I would say that 98% of the territory of the NCC has been covered. That's part of the $100 million the federal government has invested, and the other part would be at the other end.

    However, when we consider the national capital region, it's a different story. We could easily interpret the national capital region as going as far east as probably Montebello. So this would mean from Buckingham, Masson, to Montebello, we're probably looking at another vingt....

[Translation]

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    M. Gilles Gagné: In kilometres? It would be more like 50—

[English]

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Maybe 40—

    Mr. Gilles Gagné: Between 45 kilometres and—

    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Yes, between 45 and 50 kilometres.

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    The Chair: So that would be how many kilometres? There are 11 kilometres already done in the National Capital Region.

º  +-(1650)  

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Oh, there are more than that.

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    Mr. Gilles Gagné: Yes, there are more than that.

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    The Chair: It was 50; now you're saying 11.

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    Mr. Gilles Gagné: No, no, 11 was for--

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    The Chair: For the other end.

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    Mr. Gilles Gagné: Yes, at the other end. From this end, about 30 kilometres have been done.

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    The Chair: So there are 30 kilometres now, and there would be an additional 50 kilometres in the region?

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Well, let's be straight and say that we already have 30 kilometres completed, and for the National Capital Region we will probably need another 30 or 35 kilometres.

    The National Capital Region is not defined by a border on a map. It's a more vast area determination, if I may call it that, Mr. Chair, and it could easily include Montebello, which you know.

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    The Chair: I've never been there.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: You've never been there.

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    The Chair: I've been accused of going skiing and so on, and I've never been there.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: So that's what's wrong! It's a beautiful area of west Quebec.

    But for the National Capital Region we need about another 30 kilometres of highway, and then we would probably need another 40 kilometres or so to connect to the eastern part of Highway 50.

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    The Chair: Okay. Thank you very much.

    I'm going to ask the clerk to explore the area bounded by the National Capital Region.

    Can you handle that for us?

    Why are you laughing?

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: We'll guide him. It'll be a pleasure for us to guide him.

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    The Chair: But I want what you do given to Ms. Lalande, Mr. Gagné, and Mr. Proulx. Would you do that for us, please?

    I very much appreciate the time you've taken. You were very good witnesses. You know that during our deliberations on the highway issue, your representations today will be very much listened to. We have several programs, and I suspect very much there's going to be another infrastructure program announced next Tuesday. Mr. Proulx would know more about it than I do. But don't give up.

    Thank you very much.

    We'll take a two-minute break and then come back.

º  +-(1652)  


º  +-(1657)  

+-

    The Chair: This is the continuation of Standing Order 108(2), the Standing Committee on Transport, on the issue of highway infrastructure.

    From the Canadian Trucking Alliance, we welcome Mr. Bradley, the chief executive officer; Mr. Cooper, the senior vice-president; and Elly Meister.

    Mr. Bradley, you know what the rules are--well, not rules--if you want to follow them. Make a presentation, and Mr. Cooper and Ms. Meister can add to it.

    But first tell me what the Canadian Trucking Alliance is and how that.... We used to be on all kinds of transport things, and there are other trucking associations. Perhaps you could just put that into perspective for me at the outset.

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    Mr. David Bradley (Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Trucking Alliance): There is only one that counts, of course, Mr. Comuzzi.

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    The Chair: Oh, I know that.

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    Mr. David Bradley: You know that.

    The Canadian Trucking Alliance is a federation of the seven provincial/regional trucking associations. Through those organizations we represent over 4,500 trucking companies across Canada, employing well in excess of 100,000 people and operating well in excess of 100,000 pieces of equipment. We represent the trucking companies.

    That might explain who we are as opposed to some of the others you might hear from time to time.

»  +-(1700)  

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    The Chair: You speak for the industry.

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    Mr. David Bradley: Well, we speak for everyone, even though not necessarily all of them have paid their dues. Let's put it that way.

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    Mr. Graham Cooper (Senior Vice-President, Canadian Trucking Alliance): Mr. Comuzzi, you may be thinking of the Canadian Trucking Association, which goes back a few years. That organization was formed back in the thirties. The Canadian Trucking Alliance is the successor organization. Mr. Bradley mentioned the fact that we're now a federation. The Canadian Trucking Alliance, under that name, came into existence in 1997, succeeding the old Canadian Trucking Association.

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    The Chair: And the seven provincial organizations would be the Ontario Trucking Association.

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    Mr. David Bradley: Each province has its own trucking association, except in Atlantic Canada where the four Atlantic provinces are under one umbrella.

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    The Chair: Saskatchewan has its own, Manitoba has its own, and so forth.

    All right. Thank you. That puts it into perspective.

    You can proceed.

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    Mr. David Bradley: It's a pleasure to be here again, and it's nice to see you in the chair again, Mr. Comuzzi.

    We've talked about highway infrastructure issues for many, many years now, so here we are again. I'll try to somehow make it fresh for you, but perhaps first it would help to put some perspective around our industry and explain why we think highway infrastructure is so important.

    First, 90% of all consumer products and foodstuffs that are consumed and used in the country every day are moved by truck at some point in the distribution chain. Fully 70% of Canada's trade with the United States by value, and that's about 40% to 45% of the country's GDP, moves by truck. We've seen what one could consider to be spectacular growth in our industry over the last three decades.

    On reflection, I can think of a couple of things, and one is the change in our economy from a predominantly agrarian and natural resource base to one with a more diversified economy based on high-value-added manufacturing and the requirements for just-in-time inventory, not only in manufacturing but also in the food system as well.

    Not surprisingly, then, because of that growth and the dominance we play in the marketplace...you may have seen some reports coming out of StatsCan yesterday, where the latest census figures show, as they did in the last couple of censuses, that the top occupation in the country, certainly the top occupation for males, is truck driving. According to the census figures for 2001, more than 263,000 Canadians list truck driving as their occupation, and that's up almost 30% from the 1991 census. Notwithstanding what may be happening on the world stage and with the borders, all forecasts point to continued growth in the trucking industry.

    We dominate in the small shipment, shorter distance, time-sensitive freight. That's our bag. We do operate longer distances with heavy bulk commodities, but that's really the domain of the railways. Really, there's only overlap in about 10% of the total marketplace, and in that 10% these days it seems there's more cooperation every day than competition, although there is still some competition.

    Our concern really boils down to the fact that Canada is the only major industrialized country on the planet not to have a national highway policy. Over the last few years we have seen different infrastructure funds come into being. We had the first infrastructure fund, which really didn't come into force until this fiscal year, of $600 million over five years. That was followed in the last couple of budgets by the $2 billion Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, of which some money, we assume, will go to highway infrastructure. But that's certainly not guaranteed, nor is it earmarked for that. And then there's the $600 million border fund as well.

    If we add all those up, it comes to about $3.2 billion, if my math is correct, over five years for infrastructure. Let's say, for argument's purposes, that even half of that is for highways. Compare that to the United States, where under the T-21 legislation, over a similar period, the United States is by law going to be spending anywhere from $250 billion to $300 billion Canadian on their transportation infrastructure, the vast majority of that going to highways.

    Virtually everything the U.S. federal government collects in terms of their federal excise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel goes back into the infrastructure. The same cannot be said here.

    In Canada, if you go back to the sixties, governments across the country, federally and provincially, were spending about 20¢ of every tax dollar collected on the highway infrastructure. Today it's somewhere around 3¢ of every dollar collected.

»  +-(1705)  

    So we've seen the demand not keep pace with the supply and in fact outstrip it. As a result, not surprisingly, the competitive advantage Canada would have had in our highway system at one point in time has vanished.

    The Americans have done a wonderful job in investing in the interstate system and in investing in the major border crossings, and my concern is that we're seeing more of that moving to the southern border as opposed to the northern border. Meanwhile, in Canada we have neglected to a great extent the highway infrastructure of the country and, at the worst, have looked at the transport sector--I'll speak predominantly to trucking, obviously--as a cash cow.

    The current federal excise taxes on diesel fuel serve no policy purpose whatsoever--or on gasoline for that matter. They were introduced in 1984 for the express purpose of helping to resolve the country's fiscal imbalance it found itself in the grips of at that time.

    Indeed, in the Standing Committee on Finance in the late 1980s, when we were all talking about introducing the goods and services tax, there was general agreement that excise taxes, because they bring about tax cascading and those kinds of things, were really an inappropriate form of taxation. These sorts of business input taxes should, like everything else, have been wound into the GST. However, governments of the day said, we just can't afford it.

    Well, since those times, we have of course seen the fiscal situation change quite drastically, to the point where we've been generating surpluses over the last few years. But we as a sector are still saddled with this tax, which serves, again, no policy purpose. Were it dedicated and allocated to highway infrastructure or transport infrastructure, I think you would find the medicine would go down a little more smoothly. However, we don't have that.

    This committee has seen over the years now two studies conducted by federal and provincial transport ministries that took a look at the state and condition of the national highway system, and both times they found it wanting. If memory serves, back in the late 1980s, when they conducted the first study, they determined that $7 billion to $11 billion was needed at that point in time just to bring the current system up to standard, never mind expanding it. When they redid the study a few years back, they brought the number up to $18 billion. I suppose that in ten years' time, when they do it again, it'll be somewhere up around $30 billion to $35 billion.

    It's much like your own car. If you're not conducting regular, preventative maintenance, changing the spark plugs the odd time, eventually you're going to have to replace the engine. From a fiscal point of view, we now find ourselves in this trap where it's going to cost us more and more just to bring the system up to standard.

    Well, for the longest time, though, these issues didn't seem to matter a whole lot. Then September 11, 2001, came along. I don't want to trivialize it or say that there's any silver lining in those horrific events whatsoever, but at that point both people in government and business and the public at large started to realize a bit more about how the economy works.

    Canada is a trading nation. No other country in the world is more dependent upon trade with one country than Canada is on the United States. Most of that moves by truck. That requires that we have efficient borders, but the borders start anywhere in this country where product is manufactured or where business inputs go onto the assembly line. The borders don't start at Windsor, at Lacolle, at St. Stephen, or south of Vancouver in B.C.; they start on our highway system, our feeder links into those trade corridors.

    For the longest time problems at the border and within the highway system in Canada seemed to be the truckers' problem. In fact, maybe the truckers were the problem in some people's minds; people seem to think there's a better way to move freight. I would suggest it's much like going from PCs to typewriters again, but that's only my opinion. I think people now are more aware that we need to have those trucks moving.

    I think the biggest economic challenge Canada faces today is the prospect of the flight of direct investment out of this country to south of the border.

»  +-(1710)  

    We have had the most enviable access to the U.S. market of any nation in the world. That will be in peril if we don't remove even the perception that the borders are problems; that we can't get our goods to market because they're stuck in traffic jams somewhere along our major trading corridors. We simply must make that investment if we want to keep direct investment flowing into the country. If we don't, there will be no reason for firms to put their direct investment, their new investment, into Canada. Most of what we produce goes to the United States. If you want to make the border problems and the transportation problems go away, we'll simply set up shop in the United States and produce for the U.S. market from there. I've travelled extensively in the United States since September 11, 2001, and I can tell you that is a very real threat and a very real concern.

    There are obviously other benefits to investing in our highways--environmental, safety, and the like. I'm sure you've seen those, so I won't repeat them again. But again, we're the only major industrialized country without a national highway policy.

    I also want to say that trucks pay more than their fair share for the use of the highway system. I'll use Ontario figures in my example. I don't think they're any different in most other jurisdictions, but I can't necessarily attest to that. If you go to the Ontario budget figures each year and look at what is spent on the provincial highway management program--both capital and maintenance--you'll see that's almost identical to the amount truckers pay in provincial fuel taxes and licensing fees.

    At the federal level the trucking industry is contributing about $2 billion a year in federal excise taxes on diesel fuel. If you compare that to what the federal government contributes to highways, which is at best about $150 million a year, I don't think anyone can make the argument we're not paying our share in making sure the Canadian economy keeps moving.

    We're hopeful we'll see something in the next budget. We don't expect billions of dollars to fall out of the sky tomorrow, but we would like to see a strategy and a plan. What we're seeing, unfortunately, is a lot more talk about getting trucks off the highways instead of investing in the mode that works.

    Thanks very much.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Bradley.

    Mr. Cooper, do you have something to add to that?

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    Mr. Graham Cooper: The only thing I would add, in terms of the benefits Mr. Bradley referred to--and these are detailed in our submission--is while it's not a zero-sum game necessarily, the benefits in terms of safety, reduced travel time, fuel savings and the like are very substantial.

    The other thing I would just point out--and I'm sure you're aware of this--is the study on the national highway system that was conducted most recently by the Transportation Association of Canada and the Council of Ministers was in 1998. So we're now five years beyond that. As David mentioned, who knows what the next one is going to be, whether it's going to be $17 billion, $18 billion, or $30 billion, but certainly we know it's going to be more.

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    The Chair: Ms. Meister, do you have anything to add to this?

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    Ms. Elly Meister (Vice-President, Public Affairs, Canadian Trucking Alliance): No, thank you, Mr. Chair.

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    The Chair: I'm going to give you a few more moments because I want to hear what you folks are doing on security. I think that's important. I'm sure the committee is very interested in how you're guaranteeing the access in the United States. You know what the concerns are. What are you doing as an industry to satisfy the investigation on the people who are driving your trucks into the United States? How are you guaranteeing the manifesto on the goods you're taking into the United States?

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    Mr. David Bradley: Guaranteeing anything these days is a tall order. I'll tell you, what we're doing right now is fighting like hell just to be sure that people in Congress and in Washington know Canada exists. Every week, it seems, we're facing new potential regulations and legislation where Canadians are being lumped in as aliens, and there's no thought even given to a process for us to meet whatever security requirements they're asking for.

    So it's not just as simple as saying, well, we're spending millions of dollars so that we can have all our drivers checked, and this and that and everything else. The battleground now is to secure access to the market. Our carriers will have no choice but to meet whatever security requirements are put upon us.

    But let me give you some examples of some things. I'll start off by saying we support the 30-point smart border accord. We think it was a very good effort, and it outlines in general terms all the things that we think need to be done--first and foremost, electronic preclearance, a risk assessment model to look at those drivers, those carriers, those importers, those exporters who are low risk, and segregating them from those we don't know or who pose some risk so that U.S. enforcement resources could be channelled to look at those people. That's all good. That's where we have to go, and even keeping the Americans at the table on that and coming up with a bilateral solution is an achievement.

    What we face now, however--

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    The Chair: Let me just stop you there for a moment, because we know from when we were in Washington last week that the Americans keep moving the fence on what is going to be expected.

    We have their transport committee coming here, and our main goal in dealing with that transport committee in the United States is to set the fence so that everybody knows what the game is and that the fence isn't going to be moved. I think that's going to be very helpful to what you've just said.

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    Mr. David Bradley: It would be enormously helpful. I just hope that the folks who sit on the committee that you're going to be meeting with are--

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    The Chair: They're members of the United States Congress. I don't think we can get the President.

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    Mr. David Bradley: Well, that's good, because it's Congress that has a real lack of understanding on a lot of these issues, but of course people with an interest in transport.... What they need to become interested in now is homeland security, which marches to its own drum.

    Our concern these days--and you can time this to the Republicans taking over control of Congress and with respect to the advent of the Department of Homeland Security--is that measures are now being proposed, or in the process of even being introduced, that could scupper any of the gains made under the 30-point smart border accord and indeed pose significant threats to transborder just-in-time shipments.

    The kinds of things I'm talking about there is that there is presently a straw man proposal that has been introduced by U.S. Customs, which is going under homeland security, which, if passed--and they are mandated to have a program in place by the end of this calendar year--would see us required to provide four hours' notice electronically to U.S. customers, four hours before a truck is loaded in Canada, of all manifest data. We're not talking about the fast preclearance stuff; we're talking about how many widgets, what they cost, where they were manufactured, and so on, all of that, four hours before a truck destined for the United States is even loaded and 24 hours before a truck is laden in the U.S. destined for Canada.

    You tell me how you run a just-in-time system under those provisos when, for many of the manufacturers we deliver to or pick up from, it's literally two hours or an hour from the production line, at one end, to the assembly line at the other end. There's no thought whatsoever to the impact this could have on just-in-time.

    You will hear U.S. manufacturers saying, “This is terrible. We can't walk away from just-in-time. That's how we're able to stay competitive globally.” They won't walk away from just-in-time. What they will do, again, and I think the threat there.... There is no threat to just-in-time deliveries within the United States; it's only if you're crossing the border.

    What we need to do in Canada is not only to address each and every one of these micro security issues that are coming forward faster than we or the Canadian embassy, it seems, can keep pace with the threats we're under, but we also have to have a clear and distinct Canadian advantage.

    I don't know why it is that as Canadians we always talk about needing a level playing field. No, we need an advantage to keep that investment flowing in here, and I think this budget, just as the last one was critical, is critical in terms of laying that groundwork for the future, making sure that the next time those auto companies, those German investors, are looking at where they're going to put their money, it's on this side of the border, not on the other side. We won't need any trucks or trains if we're not manufacturing here.

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    The Chair: Mr. Moore.

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    Mr. James Moore: Thank you, all three of you, for coming here today and making yourselves available. I'm sorry for the delay in having you come here.

    These are very good presentations. We see here now, in the micro circumstance, the concerns of the macro problems of North American security.

    I was in Washington, D.C., just this past weekend and met with some senators. I met with Senator Campbell of Colorado and a number of other senators. Their concern was—this is, as I say, the micro outcome of a macro problem—Canada's unwillingness to join in a continental perimeter of security, to not even entertain the concept of a customs union, and to not take national security seriously, as seen by our allies. That has to do with signing on to MFD, a missile defence shield, and all kinds of other things. Out of that tumbles down, down, down to the micro level the very concerns you're talking about.

    Outside of that—and let alone assistants to the Prime Minister calling the President of the United States a moron—I want to ask about gas taxes. I don't know if you saw Vaughn Palmer today in the Vancouver Sun suggesting that it is a possibility the provincial government in British Columbia may introduce a five-cent-a-litre gas tax increase next week. B.C.'s provincial budget day is the same as the federal budget day.

    Tell me what your members are saying about gas taxes, what you guys have said to the federal government about gas taxes. My sense is there are two ways the government should go: either dedicate the taxes to roads, or given that over 99% of all roads people drive on are engineered, built, and maintained by municipal or provincial governments, the federal government should eliminate all gas taxes and give that room to the provinces. Where do you guys come in?

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    Mr. David Bradley: I would agree. The tax has to either serve a policy purpose—and infrastructure seems to make the most logical sense; then you could call it a user tax or whatever you want—or get rid of it.

    Up until 1984 the federal government of Canada had not taken to that field, and what we're seeing now is tax upon tax; you have provincial and federal. Again, I think that in Canada—and this is surprising, given that this is a country that was built on transportation and is so dependent upon trade and transportation—we somehow have come to take transportation for granted, or on the freight side at least, and particularly as it pertains to trucking, we've looked at it as a necessary evil.

    Well, we cannot have our cake and eat it too. We can't have free trade and take advantage of all those opportunities NAFTA has provided and not move goods until we get some sort of “Star Trek chamber” to move things so they would appear on your door miraculously.

    In terms of taxation, right now we're seeing prices go through the roof again. The price of diesel fuel today is 93% higher than it was a year ago this day, and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight. We know all about why that's happening, but the fact of the matter is that in Canada particularly, compared with our competition, the proportion of taxes, federal and provincial—and even in some cases municipal; Montreal has a municipal gasoline tax. The price of fuel in Canada is significantly higher than it is in the United States.

    Taxes at the provincial level here are generally two to three times higher than they would be at a comparable state level. Why have we as Canadians allowed that to happen? Well, I don't know.

    In terms of some of your other comments on perimeter security, that term has become so bastardized I'm not sure I know what it means any more. But I would say this. The major threat I see right now is complacency amongst the Canadian public. I think our governments have a duty to inform our citizens of how our economy works and how their standard of living is arrived at. That might help them to understand a little more why we have to take some of the decisions we think should be taken.

    You've been to Washington. You'll know that the attitude has not changed there one iota since September 11. If anything it has more firmly resolved itself. Maybe we live in ignorant bliss here, and maybe it's the luxury of not being a superpower and necessarily under attack, but I think that while the border issues and transportation issues were sexy a year ago and a bit, in the last year I can't say that momentum has been maintained.

    Again, I hope to be proven wrong in the budget and see some money going to highways. A lot of money was announced in the previous two budgets, but we haven't seen a whole lot allocated yet; it hasn't been spent.

»  +-(1725)  

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    Mr. James Moore: You're right, though, that Canada is one of the few countries that doesn't have a national highway strategy. The Liberals have had a majority government for a decade. We're not going to see it. We haven't seen it. We're not going to see it. We would have seen it by now.

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    Mr. David Bradley: If anything, at times I have to wonder--I have to say this and I can only refer to the comments of the Minister of Transport--whether there's an anti-highway policy, quite frankly.

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    Mr. James Moore: Shifting gears, there are of course rumours, trial balloons, etc., half proved to be true, half proved to be really silly. But given the current transport minister's seeming adoration of the rail industry, and this idea of putting billions of dollars into a jet train from Windsor to Quebec City, can you tell us--I know you guys deal more obviously with cargo rather than passengers, but given the difficulties of that and the rail crossings and the multi-levels of government and the billions of dollars that would go into that--what your industry and what the trucking industry would do with that money relative to what a jet train would do for the Canadian economy?

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    Mr. David Bradley: We're not opposed to transit at all, to the extent that transit can get the one-car driver off the highways and onto transit. That will help to free up the highways for those deliveries of auto parts. The challenge, I think, is to actually get people using it. If you look at ridership, for example, the TTC in Toronto is going down, so one has to wonder.

    I would put it this way. There may be projects that bear some consideration. Far be it from me to speak for other modes. But I think what I would like to see is groups like this committee look at some of the research the federal government itself--Transport Canada--has done in terms of the environmental impact of intermodalism, in terms of the impact on congestion in the urban centres from intermodalism. What you'll find, I think, is a somewhat different story than the one we see sometimes emanating out of a ministerial statement.

    Some people talk about intermodalism as if it's something new and different. There's nothing new about it at all. Truckers and rail, truckers and air have been doing this for years. Where it makes sense in the marketplace to do it, they will do it. But it's not the panacea for all of life's ills. It's not going to alleviate congestion in metropolitan Toronto. It's not going to eliminate smog in the Montreal-Toronto corridor. It's not. The facts are there. The government looked at it. I don't know what topic they spent more money studying. I think they keep studying it hoping to get the answer they want. I'm not sure they're going to get it. I think we have to look at these things as.... The rivers of trade today are our highways.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Moore.

    Ms. Frulla.

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: Just to continue the discussion in the same order, le même ordre d'idée, I think, and tell me if I'm wrong, we have the passengers on one side.

[Translation]

    That is a very specific problem:

[English]

how to transport people a better way, of course considering pollution, considering congestion, whatever.

    Going back to freight, the problem we keep hearing is that of course there's not enough money invested in highways. That's the problem. It has been diminishing from year to year to year. Now we have a system that is not adequate. That's what you're saying.

    There are solutions to that. Either take a certain amount of the tax, like Mario Laframboise was saying, and put it back into the highways, like the 1.5¢ in Montreal that has been put back into transportation. That could be a way.

    There's another way. I know your reaction, but still I just want you to react to this. It's the toll. You can have highways and you can have private highways built and cared for by private industry. You have a toll like they did in Toronto.

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    Mr. David Bradley: Maybe this will be a surprise to you, but truckers are pretty reasonable-thinking people. You might be surprised that we could actually create systems and that we do think we need to explore the use of other financing mechanisms, including tolls. However, there have to be some conditions around these.

    Anybody who thinks that Highway 407 in Toronto is a great example of private-public partnership, as I hear all the time...it's not. The government had to put up all the debt, then they sold the thing, giving a monopoly for the next 90 years. These guys have raised the tolls so high that it's an economic decision for the trucking industry. They can't save any money by taking the 407, so trucks don't take it. The only trucks that take it are those from out of province, because they can't enforce the transponder on them. So it's not really a great example.

    However, if you were to look at ways of leveraging private sector money and leveraging provincial sector money...because I don't think the kinds of dollars that Ottawa has been talking about, quite frankly, are going to leverage that kind of cooperation. But if you were to include tolls, I think you wouldn't find truckers averse to them on the right project. But the tolls must only be used in certain conditions: there has to be a free alternative; the tolls must come off once the debt is paid for; and we should use the most efficient toll mechanism, with some intelligence around the toll system, using them only for certain projects, and not double paying a tax and a toll together.

    In fact, it was the trucking industry that got together with the CAA. We don't always agree on things, but it was these two groups who got together in Ontario and said, “We're not going to see Highway 407 in our lifetime unless we toll it”. We were both dead opposed to tolls, but we said to the government of the day, “If you're prepared to put certain conditions in legislation, we're prepared to work with you”. The highway was built in five years. Of course, it was then sold and the legislation was changed. At least legislation is usually a little harder to change. But to just simply pay tolls while we're already paying tax, no. Why would anybody want to do that?

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    The Chair: You have more time, Ms. Frulla.

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: You're saying that tolls would be one of the solutions if done intelligently. Would taking a part of the tax--leaving it there but only taking part of it, as you said--be a solution?

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    Mr. David Bradley: Yes, that's another way.

    Even the Canadian Transportation Act Review Panel, which this committee dealt with, suggested in its report the establishment of a highway trust fund, where some portion of the fuel tax.... Obviously, we'd like to see the whole thing. But again, when you're starting from zero, half of nothing is still nothing. So if we could see some meaningful amount from the excise tax on fuel moved into a highway trust fund, which the government can then leverage with the provinces and the private sector, and we actually develop a strategy for doing that, so we don't end up building highways we don't need, which has been a problem over the years, then yes, we think that's the way to go. The Americans have clearly made it work.

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    Mr. Graham Cooper: If I could just add one thing to that, as Mr. Bradley mentioned, truckers are reasonable and, above all, from a business standpoint they're pragmatic. It costs a certain amount of money to operate a truck on an hourly basis, even if it's not moving. So if you look at a toll road, such as the New Brunswick situation, and you assign a toll that is higher than the net benefit you will receive as a trucker from using that road, it isn't going to work. But if it's the other way around, so the toll would be sufficient to pay for the infrastructure and so forth, the trucker will realize less operating costs by using that toll road, and truckers are going to embrace these kinds of concepts.

    But it's got to be done intelligently, and it's got to be done cooperatively between the public and the private sectors, with both sides sitting down and agreeing on what that toll should be.

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: Should the government be the provincial or federal one? You said “c'est un mal nécessaire”. It's as if, “We're here, but they tolerate us because they have to”. See what I mean? It's true.

    Of course, all governments are saying that freight does a lot of damage to the roads, and because of it they have to put a lot of money into the roads.

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    Mr. David Bradley: Well, there's a lot of misinformation out there about highways built to appropriate standards. Canadian axle weights aren't a whole lot different from those in the U.S., because we just have more axles spread out over a longer distance.

    The big problem in Canada is our freeze-thaw cycle, which is what really does the damage. It's like a pair of shoes. Eventually they wear out and you have to put new soles on them.

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    Ms. Liza Frulla: We have had engineers present us with a project that costs more but is more beneficial because it uses concrete.

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    Mr. David Bradley: Well, again, I've heard those presentations as well, which also profess to show a significant fuel efficiency gain. If they're true, we're interested—though it's for people other than myself to make that determination. If it can do what it says it can do, and if the costs aren't prohibitive, then I think we should be looking at these things.

    There's another facet of the highway trust fund where I think the federal government of Canada is missing the boat. While this won't be popular with all provinces necessarily, one of the things the United States is able to do through the highway trust fund is to get the states to buy into national standards, whether it's vehicle weights and dimensions, safety standards, environmental programs in cities, or the like. Yet here, many of you sat through the ad nauseam debates about the hours of service regulation in trucking, and everything else, and the effort it took to get ten provinces, three territories, and the federal government to all agree to something. Think of the American situation where they say, “If you want the money, you have to play by some rules”. It works, whereas here we have a situation where the federal government of Canada has constitutional authority over extraprovincial trucking. It has delegated the administration of this to the provinces and is only left with the power of moral suasion to try to get people to agree, so that you can take a truck from Newfoundland to B.C. with the same configuration. It would give them another tool to bring about some national standards, which, ultimately, I think have to be beneficial compared with the free-for-all we have right now.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Frulla.

    Mr. Laframboise.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I read your document. You are not alone. So far, the witnesses from the industry that have appeared have been unanimous in saying that there needs to be a national policy, but there is none. We need much more investment to maintain highway infrastructure. Some people, myself included, believe we also need a development plan. Maintenance is not enough; we also need to expand the network of roads. I think that this committee would be passing up a golden opportunity if it did not do this. I agree with you.

    Studies have been done; the political will is lacking. Studies have been done and we could very well compile all of the results. I think that the time has come for a national transportation policy. It would be possible for us. We are in the process of studying the issue of highways and we could hold a few more hearings to come up with proposals for the government.

    From what I understand, you wanted our committee to stop discussing and come up with something real to help the industry. What I see is a national policy that would include a plan to maintain the highway network, a plan to develop it and also a plan for safety and the environment, because with the Kyoto protocol, there is much to do on the environment front. If we develop this type of policy, there will be an investment of cash. All we will need to do is invest the money in the right places. That is the big decision that the Liberal government is going to have to make.

    I heard your comments on toll roads. As far as I am concerned, as long as we have to pay a 10 cent a litre excise tax on gasoline to the federal government, 10 cents a litre to the province and more taxes to municipalities, I am against tolls. If we replaced all the taxes with tolls on all highways, then I think we might get somewhere. The problem is that only 23.2% of the money from the excise tax is invested in transportation spending, all categories combined. We are not talking about spending on roads; these expenses include spending on ports and airports. When you compare the budget for Transport Canada with the excise tax in Canada, you see that only 23.2% is reinvested in transport, which means that 75% of what we are paying in excise tax on every litre of gasoline—I am not talking about the GST or provincial sales taxes—goes toward spending in health, education and all kinds of other things. At some point, we are going to have to get back to the real origins of this tax and invest this money to ensure the welfare of truckers.

    So, are we ready for a plan and should our committee develop it?

    My second question is more technical. Have you done any analysis to find out how much the current state of the highway system costs your industry? How much are roads in disrepair costing you? This is not a trick question. If you do not know, you do not know. I simply wanted to ask the question.

»  +-(1740)  

[English]

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    Mr. David Bradley: Obviously, we do agree that a highway infrastructure policy in Canada is long overdue. It doesn't matter which economist or political thinker you think of. Great societies are built on certain underpinnings, including justice, safety, health, education, and infrastructure. The Romans didn't get where they were going without building roads. Of course, at the end of the day that society fell apart because it didn't have some of these other underpinnings. Clearly, I think it's important that Canada look at it.

    In terms of the question you asked about the cost given the state of the roads, I think you raised a good point. We do need capacity increases in some of the key corridors, but we sometimes do that while neglecting to maintain what we already have. It's not quite as sexy to maintain a highway as it is to build a new one and open it up. So we do have to keep our eye on maintenance.

    The costs will vary depending on where you are travelling. Western Canadian truckers tell me they don't go through Mr. Comuzzi's fair city any more by taking the Trans-Canada from the Manitoba border across. They go through the southern states. It's not because it's necessarily any cheaper by the time you factor in the American dollar and that sort of thing, or because they save any time necessarily; it's because their trucks get badly beaten up travelling on the Trans-Canada Highway and because there is no zone for safety there whatsoever, no shoulders or anything like that. So, anecdotally, I can tell you that the carriers would be able to point to increases in maintenance costs as the result of the wear and tear on their vehicles.

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    Mr. Graham Cooper: Just to add to that, Monsieur Laframboise, the 1998 study we referred to earlier talked about vehicle operating cost savings of $360 million per year for 25 years. This would not be just commercial vehicles but all vehicles, of course. If you accept the fact that those savings represent incremental costs we're incurring as a result of not doing what we should be doing on the highways, the numbers are massive. Not to mention, of course, the constraints in terms of border infrastructure, which are over and above those kinds of numbers on the national highway system.

»  +-(1745)  

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Laframboise.

    Mr. Proulx.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Most of my questions have been answered.

    We are examining the issue of highway infrastructure across Canada. When we're talking of bringing the national highway system up to code, are we necessarily talking about four-lane divided highways or road condition and paved shoulders? Just before you we had witnesses from my area here with regard to Highway 50. The Province of Quebec is to build half of a four-lane divided highway, Highway 50, in western Quebec. If we have to build four-lane divided highways all over, the costs will be considerably higher. I had the experience last night of driving for about an hour and a half on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Ottawa. As long as you're on 417, it's very pleasant. As soon as you hit the two- and three-lane areas, it's a different story. There were lots of trucks, but it was still very driveable and pleasant.

    What's your position on that? We are investing money in New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario to try to make the Trans-Canada a four-lane divided highway. What's your position with regard to two or three lanes versus four-lane divided highways with a median?

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    Mr. David Bradley: We haven't been advocates of making the Trans-Canada four lanes right across the country. There are people who will say that if they happen to be serving that market, but we think we have to be very strategic in how we approach this issue.

    Everybody from every province can come up with their list for what roads and highways they'd like to see fixed. What we say isn't always popular, depending on which part of the country and which truckers I'm talking to, but we need to be strategic about it.

    We need to look first and foremost at our major north-south trade corridors and then the primary feeder links into those. Those are necessarily, for the most part, going to be four-lane divided highways. If they're important enough they will be handling that sort of traffic.

    That's where the politics becomes a little more difficult in making sure each region gets its fair share. I think a trust fund is perhaps the way to rise above that to make sure you're looking at it strategically. Some things need to be fixed sooner rather than later. We could all point to projects and maybe debate that. But clearly they include the major border crossing areas south of Montreal, the southern Ontario border crossings, and the border crossing south of Vancouver. First we want to make sure those north-south corridors and the connecting feeders into those are dealt with.

    If you ask truckers from your neck of the woods, Mr. Comuzzi, what the biggest problem is on Ontario highways, they might say it's when they hit the 401 at the 400; it's not up in Thunder Bay. But if you ask the Manitoba carriers who are travelling across country--and there are still some going the other way too--they might say the Trans-Canada between Sudbury and the Manitoba border is a priority. That's one hell of a long stretch of highway, though, and that's very expensive.

    That's where I think we need a strategy. We don't expect things to be built in a year. A 30-year plan that's funded would be a step in the right direction.

»  +-(1750)  

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    Mr. Graham Cooper: If I could add just one thing to that, Mr. Laframboise mentioned the need for this committee to come up with a plan, as opposed to a recommendation for more studies and the like. From a pragmatic standpoint we don't expect the federal government any time soon to hand over $17 billion, or whatever the number is today--$25 billion--to fix the national highway system. As you all well know, the national highway system is a very long, complex network of roads. But in each of the provinces and the major municipalities, if you take those strategic investments and put some total on them, the numbers are presumably much more manageable.

    We had some discussions last week with some of our colleagues from across the country. I was surprised about some of the things they were saying on where the improvements would fulfil a strategic need--but very short pieces of road.

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    The Chair: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

    You obviously are not politicians, because when you want to start building strategic pieces of road and you have 303 members of Parliament to satisfy, every constituency has their own strategic piece of road. How you make those strategic decisions is something you'd need Solomon to decide.

    You've obviously seen the film and read the reports on the national highway committee I chair. Have you read that? Do you believe in the concept of the ideal situation we propose, which is a four-lane, limited-access highway from coast to coast, with particular emphasis on the 11 major crossing points in Canada to the United States?

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    Mr. David Bradley: I would turn it around, maybe, by saying--

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    The Chair: That's our mission statement. We're not going to turn it around for you.

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    Mr. David Bradley: --major crossing points and the links into those.

    Yes, we helped you write some of that, but again the key is to have a strategy. You're not going to accomplish that overnight. We're going to have to set some strategies and some priorities now.

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    The Chair: Do you agree with the national highway authority utilizing public and private financing to enable this project to get under way?

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    Mr. David Bradley: That depends, if it helps us get around--

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    The Chair: Tell me what you're sure of then. Be definite.

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    Mr. David Bradley: If it helps us get around some of these political problems you're talking about, yes. If it's like other authorities we've seen, where we've simply become another layer of secrecy in terms of where the dollars are going in and going out, then no. If you're talking to me about the national highway trust fund in the United States, yes.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for being witnesses today. If there are no further questions, gentlemen, thank you for being here.

    What's that, Mr. Laframboise?

[Translation]

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: I sent you a motion about the possibility of extending the committee's hearings.

[English]

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    The Chair: Yes. Do you want to talk about that now, Mr. Laframboise?

»  -(1755)  

[Translation]

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Listen, I do not know if we have the ability—

[English]

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    The Chair: I think it's a technical.... I looked at it yesterday in anticipation of this meeting. We adopted your resolution to have these hearings, and the last part of the resolution:

for his negotiations with the Minister of Industry, responsible for the infrastructure program, and with the Minister of Finance, in the preparation of his budget.

    That by its very nature says that after next Tuesday we can't continue. I think it's just a matter of us sitting down after next Tuesday to prolong these hearings, to get another motion. So you're putting a notice of motion before us today. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but you're putting a notice of motion--

[Translation]

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: I will respect that, because we cannot make a decision today given that there are not enough of us.

[English]

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    The Chair: No, we'll have to have a new motion.

    Mr. Clerk, you're the procedural expert.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Do I need a new motion and 48 hours' notice? Fine.

[English]

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    The Chair: Sure, if you want to bring one in on Wednesday, Mr. Laframboise, and that will give us plenty of time because the budget is next Tuesday.

    I don't see us, Mr. Proulx, wanting to.... The only thing I can see is that we may get some legislation, so we would have to suspend the highway hearings until we do the legislation.

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: I was wondering, what is happening with our request for the department to appear before the committee prior to Monday? It has to be Monday at the latest.

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    The Chair: Who from the department is coming?

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: I don't know. I'm asking because I haven't been to my office, but I'm sure they'll be very competent.

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    The Chair: Do we have any senior officials left in Transport?

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: Well, there are lots of good, competent senior officials at Transport.

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    The Chair: No, no, I'm not questioning that.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

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    Mr. Marcel Proulx: I don't know. I'll have to look at it.

-

    The Chair: Okay, thank you very much everybody.