That the House: (a) acknowledge the contribution Bombardier makes to the Canadian economy and the aerospace industry; (b) recognize that there is a market solution already available that could support Bombardier; (c) acknowledge that Bombardier has designed the quietest and best aircraft in its class that is well suited to urban airports like the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport; (d) recognize that the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a major economic driver for the Greater Toronto Area that supports both business and leisure travel; (e) recognize that the expansion of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport would allow airlines to purchase Bombardier aircraft; and (f) call on the government to reverse its decision on restricting the expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise this morning and speak to this motion.
Last November, just days after being appointed to his new role, the took to Twitter to announce that he would block any future expansion of the Billy Bishop airport. In fewer than 140 characters, the unilaterally blocked the right of the City of Toronto to hold consultations and decide whether to allow their local airport to expand and grow along with the city.
In April 2014, Toronto City Council voted unanimously to adopt a city staff report that allowed the city, the Toronto port authority, and the federal government to negotiate conditions before proceeding with a proposal to add jet service and extend the runway at Billy Bishop airport.
Consequently, the City of Toronto ordered a full environmental assessment, an airport master plan, and a runway design plan, at an estimated cost of $4 million. All three studies were reportedly 90% complete and due for release shortly after the minister sent out his tweet, effectively removing them from the decision-making process on this issue. Even the Toronto Star called the minister's politically motivated decision to shut down discussion on the expansion of the airport before all the facts were in ill-advised.
For a government that obsesses about endless consultation on everything, the deliberate lack of consultation in this case is telling. When asked why the government acted with such haste to halt the proposed Billy Bishop airport expansion, the noted that all three parties of a tripartite agreement must concur with any amendments for the agreement to be ratified. Having a veto over any amendment to an agreement does not mean that the government should use it without consulting with those most affected, in this case the City of Toronto.
To date, I have not heard the minister state a single reason that falls under federal jurisdiction to oppose this project, whether it be safety for passengers or concerns about aircraft congestion in the GTA. I hope that over the course of this debate today, we will hear a sound rationale as to why this project should not go ahead.
My concern is that the minister acted so quickly to oppose this development because he feared he would be hard pressed to explain why he opposed a position taken by the City of Toronto or the port authority once they had held their extensive consultations. We are having this debate today because I believe that the clearly failed in his responsibilities when he neglected to consider the full range of the implications of his actions.
When it comes to economic growth and job creation, the federal government should act as an enabler, rather than an impediment, as it has done in this case. As a result, the federal government must now contemplate ways to support Bombardier that will cost taxpayers in the billions of dollars, while ignoring the private sector solution that will not cost the taxpayers anything.
Here are the facts. A Canadian company has signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 30 C Series aircraft from Bombardier, contingent on the airport expanding its facilities to accommodate it. The C Series aircraft has been described by the minister himself as best in class. I should note that the C Series is the best in its class because it is quieter than the Q400 turboprop aircraft, uses less fuel than any compatible aircraft, and has the lowest break-even load factor.
People travelling to and from Toronto from underserved destinations, like Timmins, Thunder Bay, and Moncton, will benefit from flying in a state-of-the-art aircraft that burns less fuel and is therefore more environmentally sound and cost-effective to operate than those of its competitors. In addition, Bombardier gains a major client.
This is a win-win for Canada. Yet, by blocking the potential expansion of the Toronto city airport, the minister is allowing Bombardier and its employees to be disappointed. They have designed a best-in-class aircraft that is ideally suited for operating out of this airport. Furthermore, he has reduced access to the thousands of businesses and business travellers who rely on the airport as a convenient, time-saving alternative to Pearson airport.
In 2015, the Toronto island airport served 2.5 million passengers, making it the ninth-busiest airport in Canada and the sixth-busiest Canadian airport serving the United States. This airport is responsible for 6,500 jobs, $385 million in wages, and over $2 billion in economic output. It is also a major contributor of taxes to the City of Toronto and the federal government.
Just last week, the Billy Bishop airport was named the third-best airport in North America by the Airports Council International, considered to be the world's benchmark measure of airport excellence. This makes the minister's unilateral rejection of an expansion all the more stunning. If the minister had stated any evidence-based reason for his denial of a potential airport expansion, then the proponents of the airport expansion would have been in a position to address those concerns and perhaps alter their plans. His sudden refutation of this airport expansion leads me to wonder when the minister would ever consider reopening the tripartite agreement.
For example, what if his own department recommended to the Toronto port authority, the owner and operator of the airport, that the main runway be extended for the installation of a runway safety area. As the minister knows, the Transportation Safety Board includes the issue of landing accidents and runway overruns to its watch list of the transportation safety issues posing the greatest threat to Canadians, with the runway safety area identified as a key mitigating measure.
Alternatively, would the minister consider reopening the tripartite agreement if his own department recommended, based on scientific evidence, that aircraft of any type would be able to take off and land more quietly if they could use a longer runway and therefore not have to accelerate as quickly?
The tripartite agreement has been reopened twice before. In 1985, the agreement was opened to allow the de Havilland Dash 8 onto the list of aircraft allowed to use the airport. In 2003, the agreement was once again opened to expand the hours of operation of the airport and allow for the construction of a tunnel linking the airport to the city. Just yesterday, I had the opportunity to use that tunnel, and it was quite convenient to get to the airport.
These were both reasonable amendments that gave travellers greater access to a convenient travel option in Toronto. Innovation and the adoption of new technologies and practices drive Canada's economy, and government regulations should change to adapt along with new technologies.
When the tripartite agreement was first signed in 1983, the only aircraft allowed to land at Billy Bishop was the Dash 7 aircraft. This was a four-turboprop engine plane with a maximum speed of 450 kilometres per hour. The first Dash 8 added to the list of aircraft that could land at Billy Bishop, after the 1985 tripartite amendment, was designed for 38 passengers, was 73 feet long, and had a cruising speed of 500 kilometres per hour.
The Q400 variant of the Dash 8 aircraft, which is commonly used at Billy Bishop today, seats 68. It is 107 feet long and has a cruising speed of 667 kilometres per hour. Amazingly, the sound profile of the Q400 aircraft is actually quieter than the Dash 8-100. Today, I believe we have reached a similar point where technological innovation in the aerospace sector is forcing a change in our laws, and government should be flexible enough to adapt.
A decade ago, none of us could have imagined that a Canadian company would build a 100- to 150-seat aircraft that would be quieter than a Q400 turboprop, which was also an incredible achievement in its time. Two decades ago, none of us would have imagined that a turboprop would be able to carry nearly 70 passengers from Toronto to Winnipeg.
I believe Canadians should be embracing the opportunity to utilize this new aircraft across Canada. Instead, with his purely political decision to overrule a process of study and consultation that the City of Toronto was on the verge of completing and to block the development of the Billy Bishop airport, the minister is hurting jobs and Canada's leadership in the aerospace sector.
Today's motion calls upon the House to acknowledge the contribution Bombardier makes to the Canadian economy and the aerospace industry. It calls upon the House to recognize that there is a market solution already available that could support Bombardier and would not cost taxpayers any money. It calls upon the House to recognize that the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a major economic driver for the greater Toronto area, which supports both business and leisure travel. It calls upon the House to recognize that the expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport would allow airlines to purchase Bombardier aircraft. Finally, it calls upon the government to reverse its decision on restricting the expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
Support for the motion would send a clear signal that Canadians support entrepreneurialism and taking advantage of a made-in-Canada aircraft that will be able to better serve underserved communities.
The Billy Bishop airport is an asset that few major cities in the world can boast. It creates jobs and has become an important transportation asset for the GTA.
Bombardier has designed an aircraft that is both best in its class and ideally suited for use in airports like Billy Bishop.
It is my hope that all members will see that there is the potential for an incredible synergy here that would help create jobs in Toronto, at Bombardier in Montreal, and at every destination that is served from this airport.
All of us were elected to look at issues through a national lens. The future of Bombardier and the Billy Bishop airport will have national repercussions, and members of Parliament should consider this a national issue.
I also hope all members in this place believe that, when the private sector is ready and willing to step up and support Canada's aerospace champion, this is a preferable solution to one that has the Canadian taxpayers, who are already seeing over $30 billion in new deficit spending this year, having to do so.
The has called the C Series a superlative product and an extraordinary plane, and just last week he asked the $1.3-billion question, “...how do we make sure that airplane is a success and how are we making sure it is a Canadian success story?”
One way to ensure that the C Series is a Canadian success story is by staying out of the way of Canadian firms wanting to purchase the aircraft. By voting in favour of today's motion, the can restart the process of supporting the City of Toronto, the Toronto island airport, Bombardier, and the C Series aircraft program, without asking Canadian taxpayers to foot the bill.
In closing, I will end where I started. I recognize that there are those who will ask why a member from Saskatchewan cares about the Toronto island airport and Bombardier, a company based in Montreal. My answer is quite simple. As the critic appointed to hold the to account for decisions that just do not make sense—the decision to exercise a veto to block this expansion at the eleventh hour of the process undertaken by the City of Toronto—deserves to be challenged.
The debate today will scrutinize the decision on a number of fronts. First and foremost, we need to ensure that decisions are evidence-based and that jurisdictions are respected.
On that note, I ask all members in this House to support the motion.
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak today on this motion, because I have been asked on many occasions to comment on it in question period. In fact, a couple of weeks ago when I was asked about it and while I was answering the question from my hon. colleague, I overheard the hon. member for say quite clearly that nobody wants to buy the C Series.
What I am suggesting today is that perhaps this motion from the opposition does not necessarily have a consensus in that party. I would be interested in knowing why the member for , who, after hearing my colleague quote me in saying that this is the finest airplane in its class in the world—and I agree with that comment—does not agree with that assessment and is not wholeheartedly supporting sales of the CS100. I would be interested in that answer.
Today I will speak to the opposition motion on Bombardier and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
Canada is the second-largest country in the world. We depend on our strong transportation and communication networks to connect us to each other and to the rest of the world.
I would like to begin by stating that the Government of Canada fully recognizes Bombardier's contribution to Canadian industry and the international market.
Our aerospace sector has given Canada a strong reputation internationally. Its contributions to aeronautics and satellite technology benefit our country as a whole as well as the international community.
The sector has been and will continue to be one of the strongest drivers of investment and international trade. It is also a key player in Canada's social, green, and economic infrastructure. It connects people to jobs and helps deliver essential goods and services.
Canada's air sector is a global leader, and Transport Canada is recognized around the world as a certifier and regulator. I would like to highlight that the recently tabled review of the Canada Transportation Act reported that “Canadian-certified aircraft, equipment, and skilled personnel are in high demand around the world.”
Aerospace is an important element of Canada's manufacturing sector, and Bombardier is a strong player in the field. Last year the aerospace sector generated more than 180,000 jobs and added $29 billion to our country's economy. It is a significant contributor to economic growth. Aerospace companies such as Bombardier export some 80% of the products that they make.
Consequently, the Government of Canada was pleased by Air Canada's announcement on February 17, 2016, of its intention to purchase Bombardier C Series aircraft. This is clearly good news for the Canadian aerospace industry. It will result in well-paying jobs for highly skilled workers in this sector. I am encouraged by the benefits that will result from this important transaction between these two iconic Canadian companies. The C Series aircraft is a major advancement in aviation, and I am sure that this addition to Air Canada's fleet will be a major benefit both to that company and to Canada's aerospace sector.
The Government of Canada has confidence in Bombardier and in its C Series aircraft, which are becoming more advanced. As I have said in the past, the C Series aircraft is the best in its class in the world.
Despite what the member for said last month, there is demand for the C Series aircraft. The first C Series plane will be delivered to Swiss International Air Lines in the spring. Once this Swiss C Series aircraft enters into commercial use, Bombardier will have the opportunity to show the world, especially potential buyers, what this aircraft is capable of and what it has to offer airlines.
Our government is confident that the C Series aircraft will prove to be the outstanding aircraft that early reports predict it will be.
Last December I took part in the certification of Bombardier's C Series aircraft, which was a historic occasion for the Canadian aerospace industry, and I am proud that Transport Canada was part of the process.
Type certification of any aircraft involves a careful examination of the design to verify that it complies with our airworthiness standards and environmental regulations. This design certification is required before the aircraft can enter into commercial use.
This initial approval is a significant step toward Bombardier obtaining full certification in Canada as well as in Europe, the United States, and abroad. It is a significant step toward delivering aircraft to customers worldwide. This approval also allows Bombardier to build investor and customer confidence.
I thank my colleague across the way for her motion and her interest in this file.
With reference to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, it would be misleading to suggest that the only issue to be considered when examining the proposal to amend the tripartite agreement and allow the expansion of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to permit the use of commercial jet aircraft and to extend the runway is whether or not Bombardier could sell more aircraft.
Our nation's economy relies on connecting to the world, and the greater Toronto area and southern Ontario as a whole are being well served by a network of airports working together to form an international gateway. This gateway helps Canada stay competitive and attracts air travellers and traffic from around the world.
Toronto Pearson is by far Canada's busiest airport, and I was there myself in December, celebrating the 40 millionth passenger for 2015. It has more international passengers than any North American airport after New York's John F. Kennedy International, and Billy Bishop airport helps to connect Toronto's business heart to other major centres in Canada and the United States.
In addition, many airports look to expand their business footprint. We can see specialty niches form, such as the courier activities at the Hamilton airport. Together, southern Ontario's airports provide economic stimulus to the region by offering services to general and commercial aviation, passengers, shippers, and businesses. These airports bring passengers from around the world, all contributing to the local and national economies.
All of this movement of people and goods attracts business and drives trade and foreign investment in our great country.
I would like to share with hon. members some important information from the Canada Transportation Act review that I had the pleasure of tabling in the House on February 25, 2016:
In 2012, air transportation directly employed 141,000 Canadians and contributed $34.9 billion in GDP and more than $7 billion in taxes to federal and provincial treasuries. In 2014, the industry served nearly 125 million passengers, up 45 percent over the decade since 2004, and transported $116 billion in international cargo.
The Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a very good example of this thriving network. It is located just a few minutes away from downtown Toronto, on Toronto island, and ranks ninth in Canada in terms of traffic, welcoming more than 2.4 million business or leisure travellers every year. The Billy Bishop airport now offers services to 24 Canadian and American cities, with connections to more than 80 cities around the world. This airport is a major economic driver of Toronto's economy. It is also a base for air ambulance services with nearly 4,600 such flights in 2014, and is home to a sizable personal aviation community that includes a flight school.
Billy Bishop is also a historic airport. Members may not know that it was opened in 1939. When the Second World War began, it served as a training base for the Royal Norwegian Air Force, as part of what would earn Canada the title of “aerodrome of democracy” from U.S. president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This history was enhanced even more a few years ago when it was renamed in honour of legendary Canadian aviator and war hero, Billy Bishop.
The fact is that the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is already providing a valuable service without expansion. Last month, it was named one of the top airports in North America in the Airports Council International's airport service quality awards. It tied for third in the best airport North America region category, one of only two Canadian airports to make the list, along with Ottawa International Airport.
Such accolades demonstrate that the investment that has been made in the airport, from developing its infrastructure to its working with stakeholders to provide better amenities and improved access to the airport, is providing passengers with an exceptional travel experience.
The government recognizes that the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a major economic driver for the greater Toronto area and that it supports business and leisure travel.
On November 12, 2015, I announced that the Government of Canada would not reopen the tripartite agreement between this government, the city of Toronto, and PortsToronto that would allow Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to pursue an expansion. The government stands by this decision and feels that the current tripartite agreement strikes the right balance between commercial interests and the interests of local communities, and the environmental and cultural challenges, including the evolution of the waterfront. Also, with other jet capable airports very close by, the government believed there was no compelling case to change the current approach.
The government is not alone in this position. Several citizens groups in the GTA have opposed any proposed expansion of Billy Bishop airport. Accordingly, they support our position against reopening the agreement.
As I mentioned earlier, this is about more than just the airport. It is about Torontonians wanting a greater say in the development of their waterfront, which will be significantly affected by the expansion of the airport.
When the proposal to amend the tripartite agreement between the federal government, the City of Toronto, and PortsToronto was examined, as indicated in the member's motion, a number of issues had to be considered, not just whether jets should be allowed or whether the runway should be expanded.
Every situation is unique and complex. The Government of Canada examines each situation carefully in order to provide Canadians with safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible air travel and cargo services.
The government continually assesses the air services policy framework to ensure that Canada's air transportation system can respond to this evolving environment and is properly equipped to facilitate future growth.
I would like to assure members that the decision was made in the best interests of Torontonians and Canadians. The Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has been a model of effective management for many years. It is up to PortsToronto and the airlines that operate out of the airport to continue to make their business model work.
In April 2014, Toronto city council debated the issue and actively sought the views of the then federal government. The city asked that the federal government of the day take a public position on proposed changes to the tripartite agreement that would permit the expansion of the airport and to allow jet aircraft, such as the Bombardier C Series to operate from the airport. That was three years ago. All of this could be seen on the city's website, as well as in media reports. It was very public.
From April 2013 to the fall of 2015, about two and a half years, there were multiple public meetings, conferences, and other events at which the proposed expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport was discussed. There were web forums, opportunities for public comment, and many other open venues where anybody could express their opinions and views on the issue.
The proponents and opponents of the proposed expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport were very active and very engaged. The possibilities, concerns, and opinions related to the proposal were discussed and debated, and the potential economic benefits of the proposal, those for the region and for the country, were certainly well aired.
The member opposite should not suggest that the expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport will determine the success of Bombardier's C Series. It is simplistic and it ignores a much larger picture. Bombardier products have always, and will always, succeed based on their quality and competitiveness in global markets. One cannot imply that the success of Bombardier only depends on the expansion of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
I would like to reiterate that the Government of Canada feels that the current tripartite agreement strikes the right balance between commercial interests and the interests of local communities, which are important, as well as between the environmental and cultural challenges, including the evolution of the waterfront. The Government of Canada made the right decision when it refused to authorize the expansion of the airport in November 2015, and it stands by that decision, as it has mentioned a number of times.
The government will therefore not support this motion. Canada's airline sector is robust, competitive, safe, secure and efficient. Our government will continue to maintain Canada's reputation as a global leader and strengthen the sector's competitiveness.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that I will be sharing my time with my wonderful colleague, the member of Parliament for .
I am rising today to speak to the motion tabled by the member for . While I very much enjoy working with that member in committee and in my previous committee, frankly, I do not share her enthusiasm for her motion.
Certainly, my colleagues and I acknowledge the contribution by Bombardier to the Canadian economy, not just for aerospace but also for the manufacture of rail and light rail. That is the motor transport of the future—something that the official opposition fails to recognize.
I do wish to recognize in this place that much to my pleasure and to many of the cities in this country, and certainly the big city mayors, the government of the day, in its wisdom, is deciding to put a good portion, at least one-third of its infrastructure dollars, into transit. I hope that some of those dollars may well go to one of the shiny examples of corporate success in Canada, Bombardier, which seeks many contracts in the areas of light rail and rail.
I also note that the Emerson report, the mandatory report that was prepared, is recommending that due consideration be paid by the Government of Canada to investing in the expansion of commuter rail so that we can reduce greenhouse gases and pollution from car traffic.
So, yes, indeed, my colleagues and I fully appreciate the contribution of Bombardier to our country, but it is not simply through the aerospace aspect of its efforts.
What is also troubling about this motion is the faulty logic of trying to tie the economics of a specific Canadian corporation—in other words, Bombardier—with what is essentially a land-use decision, which should be left with the locale, the City of Toronto.
My understanding, and as has been mentioned in the House already, is that Torontonians have clearly said that they want to have their waterfront protected. When they were in power, the official opposition also had trouble allowing those who were impacted by government decisions to have a voice in what would happen to their lands and communities.
As mentioned by other speakers, the agreement on this airport goes back to 1937. It was a tripartite agreement between Toronto, what is now known as the Toronto port authority, and with the , on behalf of the Government of Canada. The federal government put up money, and Toronto made the lands available, and successive amendments to the agreement have been made.
The one thing that has not changed in this agreement is a number of conditions that were imposed. If I may, would like to reiterate those conditions.
Clause 11 prohibits nuisances to adjacent occupiers of land, and it is significant that we hear about a parallel tripartite agreement for the Toronto waterfront. I would like to share with members the words, thoughts, and concerns expressed by Paul Bedford, once the chief planner of Toronto; David Crombie, former mayor of Toronto; and Jack Diamond, a renowned and internationally recognized architect. They published the following:
From south Etobicoke to the Scarborough Bluffs and beyond, what is emerging all along the Toronto waterfront is one of the most remarkable transformations of its kind anywhere providing new and improved places for the public to enjoy: parks and trails, a linked series of neighbourhoods, places to live and work, and places of recreation, repose and natural beauty. With literally billions of dollars in private...investment in progress it is one of the largest such revitalization efforts in the world....
Clearly, those on the waterfront, whether they are sailing, walking along the beaches, buying condominiums, or going to the many restaurants, have spoken very loudly against the introduction of jets. They do not want to open this tripartite agreement to remove that clause as there is strong opposition to that.
Second, clause 14 prohibits any new runways or airport extensions and prohibits the construction of vehicular bridges or tunnels.
There has been flexibility in improving access to the Billy Bishop airport. As we speak, they are completing a pedestrian tunnel that would make it easier for people to go from the airport to Toronto.
To their credit, to this point in time, all federal governments have stood by this tripartite agreement prohibiting any extensions of the airport. Delivering on what the opposition members are calling for would require the reopening of the tripartite agreement that has essentially been with us since 1937.
I note that in 1985, there was an amendment made to allow for Bombardier Q-400s, then known as the de Havilland Dash 8, and so there has been flexibility to accommodate and enable the sale of Bombardier airplanes. In 2003, it allowed, as I mentioned, the underwater pedestrian tunnel.
The motion to allow the Bombardier CS100 jets would require all three parties to agree. That would require an amendment to the tripartite agreement. It would clearly offend the conditions that the people of Toronto want maintained. Porter has requested a 336-metre extension of the runway. That is clearly prohibited under the tripartite agreement. Transport Canada, as I understand, has not cleared the project for aeronautical safety reasons, or for the zoning of jets.
If I could reiterate, a second fundamental problem with this proposal is that Transport Canada, the federal agency responsible for airport operations and safety, has yet to rule on technical aeronautical safety and zoning issues. My understanding is that the minister has been very clear in the House today: they will not make accommodations for the expansion of this airport, and many potential impacts have been identified, detrimental environmental and safety impacts, in the “environmental assessment”.
I would like to move on and talk about this so-called environmental assessment. The official opposition did great damage to the previous federal environmental assessment process and undermined particularly the right of communities to have a say.
One of the greatest criticisms of the process on deciding whether or not to allow the extension of Billy Bishop airport has been this facade of a proper environmental assessment, which as I understand has been led by the port authority. As I mentioned, I am informed that the vast majority of the revenue for the port authority come from the airport. Therefore, is this a proper authority to be leading and making determinations on whether or not this development would or would not have environmental impacts? People in the Toronto area are saying no.
There has also been no comprehensive plan to assess southern Ontario transportation needs or how Toronto island may contribute. I understand that there has been some assessment of the need for an expansion of the Pearson airport, and of the potential strategic use of the Hamilton airport, and possibly Waterloo airport. Toronto island airport or Billy Bishop has never been mentioned in any of the reviews by Transport Canada on addressing southern Ontario's needs for air traffic.
The Island airport is already physically constrained. A litany of issues has been raised about why this airport could not be expanded despite the fact the official opposition is proposing this. Public parking is undersized in capacity. The terminal building is too small. There is no opportunity to put in de-icing facilities. The airport has likely already reached its capacity limit. Moreover, drop-off and pick-up space is undersized and the taxi queuing space is already at capacity.
Surely we cannot address or propose in this place to give support to some of our leading corporations such as Bombardier by slipping in a decision where we are undermining a local decision on land use. As has been suggested by one of the councillors in Toronto, Mike Layton, if we are to support Bombardier, why not have the federal government give dollars to build more streetcars and trolleys, including support for the Union Pearson Express that will deliver air passengers from Toronto Pearson airport to the city of Toronto? That is the method of transport for the future.
I would encourage the Liberal government to give consideration to providing more dollars, and am pleased that one-third of infrastructure dollars will be going to transit.
Without further ado, I stand in opposition to the motion.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today on this opposition day motion and to follow my colleague, who has not only been in politics but who did extensive work on the environment prior to that and has been a leader in that field for many years. I appreciate her intervention.
When I look at the motion being proposed, I see in it a circumvention of a real strategy for the airline industry. It is using this as a one-off in terms of the Toronto island airport to try to introduce a new strategy. What we have been lacking in this country, whether it be in the automotive, shipbuilding, or aerospace sectors, is a national strategy to build these industries that actually result in jobs for Canadians and applying that application in a measurable fashion.
I find section (b) rather interesting. It says, “recognize that there is a market solution already available that could support Bombardier”. That is based upon tearing up a tripartite agreement that took place to actually create this opportunity to begin with, whereby there was compromise on all sides to create the current conditions, yet the suggestion is that this is a market solution.
It definitely is not finite. There is a limit to the purchasing that is going to be considered, even if all carriers took up the challenge and actually did this. In addition, with this motion in place, I have fears that it would make travel, whether for business or leisure purposes, much more complicated and most likely less efficient, given the limited space not only for individuals leaving Toronto but individuals coming from the United States and other jurisdictions across Ontario and Canada, depending upon where their flights originate.
As well, it is an area where there are sensitive issues related to weather conditions that could affect other airports, depending upon where the planes can land and the types of aircraft that use the island facility. It goes against what has been agreed to, and there seems to be at least a general truce in the sense of how things will play out. I believe the agreement goes to 2033. There are people who believe that the current agreement has gone further than they wanted, and it is affecting them, as we know from evidence with regard to Toronto City Council and others.
I am a little partial to the area. I lived at Dufferin and Queen back in the early 1990s when I worked for Community Living Mississauga. I would travel out of Toronto, back when people could actually do that and there would not be traffic—it is not like that any more—and then go back to Toronto when traffic was leaving. I was often in that area on the weekends and I know how important it is for the entire Toronto region to have a waterfront as a destination that is accessible and successful and that integrates the population, whether they are going to Toronto island to use the lakes for fishing, boating, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, or other things that are available in the area, such as the trail system that people use to exercise.
I say that because I am a former city councillor in Windsor, and it took years and years, probably seven decades in total, for the six kilometres of waterfront to become a green trail that is very important for a number of different initiatives for the environment. There is a new fish habitat. Windsor helped Detroit move its waterfront along, which is now as extensive as Windsor's and is becoming a cross-border tourist initiative on both sides. The work on the Windsor side actually, ironically, came from Chicago. The late Mr. Battagello, a city councillor at that time, was key and instrumental in that. Later a number of different people were involved, including Mayor Mike Hurst, to create the waterfront that we now call the crown jewel. People outside of that area enjoy going there.
I feel much reservation and will not support this motion, because as a former city councillor I believe that we have drifted away from supporting our municipalities with waterfronts. If we look at the urban planning that has been done in many different areas, adding roadways and infrastructure has created barriers to pedestrians, cycling, public parks, and other activities.
Isolating parts of that element would create a lower standard of living because it would create problems in enjoying some of the natural features that we often take for granted. The Great Lakes are one of the most important bodies of fresh water in the world and are arguably part of our most treasured resources. We should be reducing the impact on them rather than enhancing the impact, as would happen with this activity, which would further isolate people from their natural surroundings. Toronto has worked on a number of different initiatives to integrate the waterfront, but it has a long way to go.
I was here when the government decided to expand the mandate of Canada's ports, especially the smaller ones, and give them more freedom from municipalities with respect to planning. That has been at the expense of municipalities, the general public, and so forth, because developers will no longer have to go through some of the planning processes that they often had to carry out in the past.
I see this as a stretch. It is almost like a Hail Mary pass thrown at the end of a football game. Every once in a while it will work, but not often. It is not a play that a team expects to make. I see this Bombardier production as that type of attempt. It is a desperate measure to think that we could have a strategy for aerospace based upon increasing the landing strip of one runway, whether in Toronto or somewhere else. That is not a strategy in the true sense. Not having goals or standards will not lead to more Canadians jobs. We need to set goals and we need to achieve those goals. We need to have measurable standards that will allow us to see the progress of the public money that goes into our projects.
The federal government shows a great deal of disrespect toward provinces and municipalities by tearing up agreements, not just in this situation but with other agreements as well. What is next? Can government, on a whim, actually tear up agreements that are already in place? That sets a bad precedent for urban planning.
This agreement goes until 2033. A lot of money has been spent on the planning process, and to take that process away from the public at this time would do a disservice to taxpayers. Some provincial and federal contributions have gone into the process, but with a different vision for that area. Adding elements such as traffic management, more pedestrians, and travellers coming and going complicates things. The location of facilities, whether for de-icing or for other weather challenges, is highly problematic for this site and could backfire and become less efficient. There is a higher potential for doing this than there is for getting the jets from the company. That is not an aerospace strategy by any means.
It is important to note that there needs to be respect for the municipal planning that takes place. I cannot understand why that is not included in the motion. The motion has several elements to it, and one would think that this aspect would have been identified at the very least. The motion talks about other important factors, but there is nothing that recognizes Toronto City Council and asks for its input.
The motion does talk about things that we understand, such as the movement of passengers for both pleasure and business, and that is important. We agree with that. It has been noted as both business and leisure travel, but I do not understand why comment or support from those at the municipal level who are either for or against this measure has not been included.
New Democrats really believe in the planning process. Many people on this side of the House are used to working with municipal governments on a regular basis. Reaching an agreement allows stakeholders to build upon a model that they have set in place. If we are going to deviate from that process, what are we going to do to ameliorate those problems or at least bring them to the table? We have not seen this evolve under this process.
I will be standing against the motion with regard to the expansion of the Billy Bishop airport.
Canada's auto manufacturing and assembly industry has gone from number two in the world to number ten in the world. I have seen the industry left behind in trade agreements, as most recently with the TPP. For example, Canada will have a five-year phase-out; the United States gets 25 years. Malaysia gets 10 years. We were out-negotiated by Malaysia.
I will conclude by saying that proper planning does not take place just in the halls of the House of Commons; it takes place with our citizens on the street.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House and support the motion that was put forward by my colleague from . I will be sharing my time today with the member for Chilliwack—Hope.
Everyone recognizes that the Billy Bishop city airport is a major economic driver for the greater Toronto area. There are significant opportunities that can still be realized, and we should not lose this opportunity.
There are three pieces to this equation. The first piece is with respect to economics. The Billy Bishop airport's economic contribution to the Toronto area is significant. The airport is currently responsible for 6,500 jobs, over $2 billion in economic output, and it also contributes $71 million each year to taxes. If we look at how many jobs could be created and how much additional revenue could be realized for both the Canadian companies and Canadian taxpayers, that in itself is something to be looked at.
The Billy Bishop airport expansion opportunities would allow entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and provide a greater service to the customers who use the airport. It would also allow airline companies, such as Air Canada, Porter, or WestJet, to purchase additional aircraft and grow their businesses and their networks. This will support both Canadian manufacturers like Bombardier, and Canadian airline companies like the ones I just mentioned.
The second piece is around aircraft design and supply. The supplier of the aircraft would be the Bombardier C Series. The C Series aircraft is the quietest one in its class. It is exactly the kind of aircraft that a city centre airport like Billy Bishop needs.
If the motion passes—and I have heard that the motion will not pass—and the airport is allowed to expand, the C Series aircraft would be added to one of the airline fleets. It would not only add significant economic benefits to the region, but would also assist in solving a significant problem that Bombardier faces with the recent announcement of the loss of 7,000 jobs.
Bombardier is currently looking for a bailout of approximately $1 billion from the federal government. I am curious to hear if the government will support that. Also, the company presently has approximately $9 billion of debt. Quebec has purchased a 49% interest share in the C Series program, and both Quebec and Ontario have asked the federal government to step in financially. They have asked the Liberal government to support Bombardier, to support the struggling aerospace sector, and to support the workers who will lose their jobs. The expansion of the Billy Bishop airport and the procurement of aircraft will go a long way in assisting Bombardier to deal with its current financial issues. This is not just a one-off, but part of a larger picture to assist Bombardier.
The third and last component that I want to speak to is with respect to process. An open and transparent process is what is required here. At a cost of $4 million, the City of Toronto had ordered a full environmental assessment, an airport master plan, and a runway design plan. All three were 90% complete. They were under way, and the plans were ready for release.
The City of Toronto also had a list of 25 conditions to be addressed prior to any approval being given. These issues ranged from noise restrictions and mitigation, landing and take-off curfews, proper environmental assessments, and wildlife management plans. These are all important issues that need to be addressed for the community. However, the Liberal government has arbitrarily made a decision to restrict the expansion of the airport. This is most definitely a lost opportunity for economic development, job creation, and market support, for Bombardier and for the aerospace sector.
Bombardier has designed aircraft for all types of applications and is well suited for urban airports. The proposed expansion should go through an open and transparent process and should engage all stakeholders. This initiative should move forward and be given the time that it deserves.
I want to remind my fellow members that the Liberal government often talks about being a partner for municipalities and fighting for Canadian jobs. Well, here is a great opportunity for the government to step in to help a struggling Canadian company, and to listen, hear, and understand the needs of a municipality.
Both the Toronto City Council and the Toronto ports authority have a process in place for the potential approval of the expansion of the Billy Bishop airport, but the Liberal government has stepped in and decided to block the expansion and the process.
It is our duty as members of Parliament to support Canadians, job creation, and to try to meet the needs of communities. Therefore, I call upon my fellow members to support this motion, to support Bombardier, and to support the expansion of the Billy Bishop airport. I ask the government to reverse its decision and allow the process to continue.
Mr. Speaker, it once again is great to stand on behalf of the people of Chilliwack—Hope to speak to an important issue about the Canadian economy and aerospace industry.
I want to take a brief moment today, on International Women's Day, to salute the strong Conservative women who have been leading the debate for our side today: the members for and . As well, I will take a brief moment to salute my wife, my mom, and my three sisters, who have played such an important role in my life as well.
I want to talk about a few things during my time here. I want to talk about the importance of the aerospace industry to Canada.
We know that this is often thought of as the major employers, whether it be Bombardier, WestJet, Air Canada, or Porter employing people in this sector. However, over my time as a member of Parliament, I have come to learn of the number of jobs and the economic impact the aerospace industry has right across the country. I think of companies like Avcorp in B.C. and Cascade Aerospace. They are major aerospace players in British Columbia that service not only domestically, for instance the military, but they also have contracts all around the world, providing services and high-paying jobs for workers in our communities. We should not lose sight of that when we talk about the industry. This affects not just Montreal and Toronto, but cities like Chilliwack and Abbotsford in my region.
I also want to talk about the importance of secondary airports. It was a little disconcerting to hear the ask why we needed to expand Billy Bishop airport, that people could just go to Pearson, that Pearson was a good airport. I think of the effect that would have on the region I represent.
We have a great international airport near Chilliwack, the Abbotsford International Airport. This airport hosts the world-famous Abbotsford Airshow. Approximately 500,000 passengers per year use that secondary airport on many daily WestJet flights and some seasonal Air Canada service as well. It is an important regional hub of economic activity. When we promote those secondary airports, we promote the economy, better options for travellers, and more opportunity for the airlines that service those smaller and often more responsive secondary airports.
I know the Abbotsford International Airport takes pride in providing low landing fees, cheaper parking, and better customer service to attract airline investment and customers. We want to encourage not just the major airports in the country, not just Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto, but also the secondary airports that people travel into or could make a choice to travel into if there were more options available. That is important.
I want to talk about the importance of our domestic airline industry, whether it is WestJet, Air Canada, or Porter.
WestJet just celebrated its 20th anniversary. In my region, it is the primary carrier that people rely on to get to work and to see their families. It started small and expanded into a great airline employing tens of thousands of Canadians.
Looking at what those airlines have done for consumers, we see that when there is more choice, the prices go down. We have seen them buying different types of planes. They have already been buying the Q400. They have expanded service. It is good for the whole aerospace industry when there is an expansion of service and greater opportunities.
I am from Chilliwack, B.C. and I am talking about a downtown Toronto island airport, the Billy Bishop airport, as the member for said, because this affects all Canadians and it sends a message.
What message does this send when the Liberal government has been seen already, in its short time in office, to be manipulating the process to get the results it wants.
We heard grandiose promises that there would be evidence-based decision-making, that there would be broad consultation, that we should just sit back and watch the consultations take place. However, the Liberals have short-circuited that approach when it comes to the Billy Bishop airport.
Instead of allowing the environmental assessment that was under way to take place, which was 90% completed, the minister unilaterally decided he would cut that off. If he truly believes in the process, if he truly believes in evidence-based decision-making, why not allow that process to be completed? Why not allow the reports to be made public? Why not then respond as the federal government to the work that was done by PortsToronto and the city? Instead, to short-circuit that process, to take the political decision to circumvent it is a mistake.
We heard that in the debate on energy east. When government members think the result will go against their preconceived notion, they change the consultation process. In this case, they are cutting it short and layering on more red tape.
Yesterday in British Columbia, we saw reports of a major LNG proponent. There is some question as to whether this is the company's position, but there are real concerns in the industry that when we do not have an open and transparent consultation process in which the public can have faith, we lose investor confidence. We lose the confidence of Canadians when it is seen that the process is being manipulated. We have seen it on pipeline reviews where there has been an added layering-on of the consultation process, which is in stark contrast to cutting it short in this case.
There is a problem with the process, and it gives us some concern as members of the official opposition and the Canadians we represent. What does this mean for the future consultations the government has promised to undertake with Canadians?
We talked about things like democratic reform. Broad consultations are promised. What we have seen with consultations is that when the Liberals are not sure of the outcome or they want to ensure an outcome that has been predetermined, they will cut that process short. That is not how we should be doing consultations. It does not bring confidence to Canadians that it actually will be an evidence-based decision-making process.
We are seeing a difference between the official opposition and the government when it comes to problems that present themselves in our economy. In our opposition day motions, whether it is on energy east or Toronto island airport, we are promoting market-based solutions. We are asking why we are not looking at the private sector to help Bombardier or to help get our resources to market in the case of energy east pipeline.
The government instead looks to intervene, either to shut down opportunity or to delay processes that have been in place. That does not bring confidence to Canadians and it certainly does not present the opportunity for the market to do the job it can do. Why not allow the Billy Bishop process to go forward? Then, if the government at that point wants to intervene, at least all the information is on the table. Instead, the Liberals have cut that short.
The minister has waved around his letter of intent from Air Canada. When he was asked about why he cut this process short, he told us not to look at the jobs that had been lost at Bombardier. Rather we should look at the letter of intent he had. He has the same sort of letter of intent from a different airline, but he does not want to talk about it. That is what we are talking about today.
Therefore, why not allow the process to go forward? The motion is about that. It is about letting the free market play its role in boosting private companies like Bombardier. Both of those things should go ahead, and that is why I will support the motion.
Mr. Speaker, I have to thank the party opposite for the opportunity to address the House on this issue, which defines some of the challenges facing the riding I represent.
The riding I represent is the Toronto waterfront and the inner harbour that stretches from the CNE grounds right across to the Don River, encompassing the Toronto island and the island airport, as well as the communities that are impacted by it.
One of the great things about this part of the city is the fact that there has been an extraordinary transformation over the last 25 years of the waterfront, led in large part by another tripartite agreement that was referenced earlier, the waterfront tripartite agreement signed by Prime Minister , Premier Mike Harris, as well as the mayor of the day, Mel Lastman, which set in motion close to $3.5 billion in investments to transform the waterfront from an industrial port that had gone by the wayside into a new community that embraced all of the elements that make a city successful.
As for industry, we have Lafarge still shipping there, and Red Path Sugar using the port actively. We also have an airport defined by a separate agreement, called the Billy Bishop airport but known in the city as the island airport.
This investment also triggered huge private investment, much more private investment than any benefit calculated to have flowed from the island airport. We have new post-secondary institutions on the waterfront. Harbourfront Centre has more than tripled in size and is now one of the cultural centres for the city and the country.
In addition to that, we have new transit lines, new hotels, new condominiums and residences, and we also have the largest concentration of public housing in my riding 500 metres from the end of the airport.
This is the context in which the island airport is situated. I urge members to look at even one of the 25 reports that have been tabled on this file, and to look at the proposition and the configuration of the land being asked to accommodate this particular facility. The proposition is absurd, once we look at the maps and look at the falsehoods being propagated.
This idea comes from Mr. Deluce and Porter Airlines in a private communication to Mayor Ford, and was given six weeks for approval. The city has six weeks to approve this or else the deal will fall through. When it came to council, the questions that sprung from that ridiculous proposition were so serious and of such magnitude that the city has struggled through five public meetings of council, numerous consultation meetings, as well as 25 reports tabled by economic consultants, planning consultants, aeronautic consultants, and everyone else trying to figure out why this idea would even get to see the light of day, let alone be put on the order paper at city council.
We would have to ask Mayor Ford—and maybe the former could have done that when he had him on stage during the campaign. However, we have no idea why this idea ever came forward. PortsToronto did not promote the idea. The City of Toronto did not promote the idea. The Government of Canada did not promote the idea. None of the signatories to the tripartite agreement have ever agreed to this proposition. We are studying it to try to figure out if it makes sense.
All that the studies have done is to result in more questions. What happens to the marine exclusion zone? Does it get extended and block off the port to commercial traffic? We cannot get an answer. The airport was originally only going to have to lengthen its runway into the lake by 80 metres. That later turned out to be closer to 300 metres on each end, which means paving over and filling a half-kilometre of the lake, cutting off access to the islands and of the island ferry to Hanlan's Point, as well as potentially choking the airport at the pinch point near Ontario Place, shutting down one of the main channels to get in and out of the harbour for commercial ships.
We could not get an answer as to whether that was the right configuration of the airport, the wrong configuration of the airport, how wide it would be, and whether taxiways would be involved. There was no design. In fact, there was no business case ever advanced by anyone around this entire process.
The city has tried to study it. It put some very serious conditions in place before it would ever even consider approving this project. Those conditions have never been met. In fact, the port authority said it could not meet them, which meant that when this eventually did get to the floor of council, it was dead in the water.
The reality is that the proposition requires a half a kilometre of lakefill on either end of the runway. It cannot be moved one way or the other, because it would choke off development of the port lands or it would run into Ontario Place. It requires the marine exclusion zones to be expanded, and we cannot figure out by how much because Transport Canada will not tell us because there is no plan or design or project in front of it.
The other thing that became quite obvious is that the blast from the jets turning at the end of the runway would be so powerful that it would knock over small craft and destroy boating and recreational yachting in the Toronto harbour.
The port authority then proposed building a six-metre wall the entire length of the runway, from Bay Street to Dufferin, for blast control. An entire blast wall would have to be built to protect boating in the area, but even then there was no business case to pay for it.
As a result, we end up with a situation where the project just keeps expanding in scope and cost and undermines the very good work that has been done to revitalize the waterfront, the amazing investment, which is about to be doubled again and has had far greater economic impact, far greater public support, and far greater study and collection of data to prove its value. Instead, what we have is this crazy idea from one individual who wants to further the airline.
Has WestJet or Air Canada come in support of this? No.
Has the port authority ever signed off on it? No.
Has the City of Toronto, in five public council meetings, ever said yes? No. It has had five chances to sign off on it and has always said no, unless the following conditions could be met. Those conditions, as he just outlined, have never been met.
However, the real mystery behind this proposition is the notion that it is market-based.
One of the proposals to make this idea work involved building a cloverleaf out over Lake Ontario to circle traffic in the inner harbour, around the silos, and back into the airport terminal. The cost of that alone was $600 million, which Mr. Deluce said the federal government would pay for. The federal government had an opportunity last term to pay for that, and it chose to spend the money on transit in Scarborough. It was a wise decision.
The port authority then said that it would raise all the fees to passenger fees. Except there is a problem. The letters patent of the port authority does not allow it to spend dollars that it raises on property that it does not own or are not contained in the letters patent. Therefore, it cannot reconfigure the south end of the city to its liking because it is not allowed to spend money on property it does not own, and it agreed and said yes, the city should ask the federal government for the money.
The federal government could have put that money on the table in its last three budgets. It chose not to do so. In fact, what it chose to do was to redouble its efforts and go back into the waterfront Toronto plan, the appropriate plan, supported by the City of Toronto, the people of Toronto, the business community of Toronto, and the planners of Toronto.
What we have ended up here today debating is this crazy notion that has been put forth by a single business proponent to reconfigure the entire city of Toronto to his liking, to abandon the plans of a $3.2-billion federal investment on the waterfront, to turn our backs on Harbourfront Centre, turn our backs on the residents who live there—not the residents of the condominium, but residents of public housing. The public housing residents are the closest people to the end of this runway. They live 500 metres from it. The communities around there have said, “No, we were given a promise, a promise that there would be no jets and no runway expansion, signed by the City of Toronto, the port authority, and the federal government. We want you to honour that promise.”
Therefore, during the campaign, we said that we would honour that promise, and we have delivered on that promise as we committed to do in the election campaign.
However, the real concern I have about this is that when we ask the party opposite whom it has spoken to, the only people it has admitted to speaking to is the airline operator. They have met with Mr. Deluce. Mr. Deluce and his lobby organization, the Sussex Strategy Group, have been lobbying on Parliament Hill for well over a month. If we were to check the lobbyists' register, we would find that they have not registered.
The party opposite is acting on behalf of lobbyists who have not obeyed the rules and have brought to the House a motion to further the private interests of a single airline at the expense of all the other public investments.
At the very least, we would expect this operator to follow the rules for once, to follow the rules and register as a lobbyist before talking to parliamentarians about these business interests, but that has not happened. That is shocking. It is not surprising from the party opposite, but still shocking.
What we have seen time and again with the Conservative Party and the port authority of Toronto is a relationship that is profoundly secretive. It appointed people to that port authority who were the college roommates and fundraisers of some former cabinet ministers.
There has been an astonishing—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
The first comment I will make is that I would have liked to have heard the member from Toronto speak as passionately about his government allowing the City of Montreal to dump eight billion litres of sewage into the St. Lawrence as he has with respect to a holding tank in an airport. I did not hear him talk about that at that time. It would have been nice to hear the same passion about raw sewage going into a freshwater supply.
I said this in my last speech in the House. We have to decide what we are doing in this country. Will we continue to say no to growth in jobs when the science is there to prove it is okay to go ahead or at least allow the process to work so we can come to a decision?
These are a few notes I made this morning.
The energy east pipeline would bring $16 billion plus in economic activity. The current government has reset the terms of the environmental assessments, so it is unlikely that it would even be approved at the end of its mandate.
In addition, there is a project in my riding in which the environmental assessment began in 2008. The project itself began in 2002 or 2003. The science was there and is sound. The current government has said it wants to kick the ball down the field a little longer and wait and see what else it can dig up. However, the science was there to go ahead. As a conservative estimate, it would cost nearly $1 billion for the work to begin and to provide many jobs in my area.
As well, the decision to cancel the expansion has potentially caused the loss of another $2 billion worth of economic activity in the central region of Montreal and surrounding area. If we add those up, we are almost at $20 billion worth of lost economic activity and jobs. Most economic development agencies say that there is a multiplier effect of at least four and probably six on all of those. Therefore, if we take the $20 billion and multiply it by four or six, we are talking about $80 billion to $100 billion in lost economic activity for really not a lot of scientific fact or reason.
I use that to preface my comments today because we have to make the decisions.
In my area, there are a lot of Amish and Mennonite people. They are great and wonderful people. I have known them since I was a kid. However, the reality of the situation is that we cannot go back and live like them. We have to be forward-thinking. We have to use technology. We have to use innovation to our benefit to grow and better the world.
I also worked in the technology industry. We cannot have every single person in this country developing software and IT solutions for us. It perhaps is a nice goal to have but one that will not happen in my lifetime.
Another comment I heard was with respect to the people of the city. I admit that I do not live nor have I ever lived in Toronto. If I had lived in Toronto or in that area, I perhaps might feel a little stronger about what I am about to say.
Ten years ago the number of passengers was 23,000. It is well over 2 million people today. Therefore, the people have spoken: it is a well-utilized airport, it is popular, and it makes sense.
I saw the report for January, and out of over 200 flights out of that area, which is 200 potential movements in a month, there were only 14 noise complaints. That is a pretty good number. We also heard in some other comments today about the potential of some of the CS100 versus the Q400 and any others of the Dash 8 series: 100, 200, or 300.
There was a report by Tetra Tech, a worldwide engineering firm that specializes in aviation, which stated that the noise level from the CS100 is 17% less than a 100, it is over 20% less than a 200, and over a 300 there is 57% less noise.
The numbers will continue to flesh themselves out, but the numbers that I was able to get today show that basically the cumulative measure of the three units of measurement they use will be roughly the same as a Q400, and the average will be very close. These are important facts.
Looking at the actual expansion and improvement of the airport, there is, in the terminology of Transport Canada, the runway end safety zone. There is work there that should probably be done. Then there is the expansion proposed by the airport that would help the CS100s in landing.
I can understand the concern about infilling in fresh water. Obviously there are always going to be concerns about infilling in fresh water. In my area, the Goderich Port Authority, which is one of the most profitable ports in the country, had a project that proposed to infill 14 acres of fresh water in Lake Huron, and they were working through the environmental assessment process.
I understand the environmental assessment that was ongoing or that was proposed here is different from the federal environmental assessment that was proposed in the Port of Goderich. However, I am saying that if the Liberals are saying no to any infill in fresh water, or other waters for that matter, they had better start adding up the number of harbours and marinas in this country that provide economic activity to Canadians each and every day.
There is a process. No one should be afraid of the environmental assessment recommendations that came out of the Jacobs report that would mitigate sound levels. All these are what people who are in business and people who are concerned about the environment and people who live in the city or the country are doing. This is why there are rules. That is why they do what they need to do.
I also understand the argument that increased traffic would reduce residential growth and reduce valuations of property. Has anybody read anything in The Globe and Mail recently, or in any other newspaper, about the increased prices of real estate in Toronto? We went from 23,000 passengers in 2006 to over two million passengers today. Take a look at the growth in Toronto in that area in the last 10 years. Take a look at the increase in real estate values in the last 10 years. Look at the increase in improvements in the waterfront area.
I have been down on Queen's Quay. I have stayed there many times. It is a beautiful area. It is really one of the cherished spots in Ontario, and it has been able to grow in harmony. That is how it works. When business is responsible, government is responsible, and citizens' voices are heard, that is when everything in our economy works, and that is when we can grow this country and grow this province, the province of Ontario that I represent.
I just want to summarize by saying that all Canadians have a choice. We can choose to grow our economy, respect our environment, and respect the people who live in our areas. It is not just airports; it is railways, highways, and roads. It is everything. We have sewage issues in different communities. My area obviously has a couple that could be fixed. There are sewage issues all around. There are environmental issues all around that we can all work to improve. However, this airport should have the ability to at least proceed and ascertain all the facts and collect all the data in conjunction with what the company wants to do.
There are opportunities for other companies. I should also mention that Air Canada had the run of the place for years and really did not do much with it. It was Porter that had the vision. I love Air Canada, but it is a little rich for people at Air Canada to come back and say they would like to have some of this now.
I would be happy to take any questions. I am sure I will get at least one from the member from Toronto, because I think he is the only one asking questions for the Liberals today.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to discuss this important issue.
We are talking about the expansion of the Billy Bishop airport in Toronto and the benefits that such an expansion would have for Toronto. We are talking today about Bombardier and the benefits that the airport expansion would have for Bombardier and more broadly the province of Quebec, but we are also talking about a fundamental principle, and that is the importance of stimulating the economy and how we do so.
I think there is broad agreement in this House not only about the importance of having a strong economy but also about the role for government in looking for ways to strengthen our economy, in looking for policies or structures that can be put in place to facilitate stimulation of the economy.
We have a different approach on this side of the House. Our view is that as much as possible, the first action is to seek to work with and leverage opportunities for investment for stimulus from within the private sector. If there are opportunities to encourage private sector investments that lead to economic stimulus and economic growth, that is a very good thing. We should prioritize these types of initiatives as much as possible. We should look first to stimulating private sector investment before looking for big injections of public dollars.
That approach is different from the government's approach. The Liberals jump automatically from wishing to have a strong, stimulated economy to saying that means the government has to put in a whole bunch of new spending.
Again, we know of the government's plan to run very large deficits, but I think what is behind that is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way we stimulate the economy. We want to see strong private sector-driven economic growth, and this motion is an example of how we go about doing that. We want private sector-driven economic stimulus. We want policies that make it easier for the private sector to make investments, and that is exactly what the motion is all about.
Our strategy prioritizes private sector investment, and that is where we start. We did a number of things that encouraged that kind of investment. One of the ways to encourage private sector-oriented stimulus is to have open trade and efforts to attract international investments, and of course we did that over the last 10 years. A strong transportation network, frankly, is part of that. It is part of facilitating international trade and the people-to-people interactions that make trade possible.
Of course, a stable but relatively limited regulatory environment is important as well. This encourages new investment. A regulatory environment that is predictable and limited but that is always oriented to encouraging new investment is important. This is what we need to stimulate our economy. This is what we need to encourage private sector-driven stimulus.
The third thing, and the focus of our discussion today, is how important transportation and infrastructure links are for having private sector-driven economic stimulus. In the history of our country, which is such a large country, transportation and infrastructure links have always been very important. There is a role for the government to be involved in those things, but whenever there is an opportunity to encourage private sector investment in transportation and infrastructure links, I would argue that we need to work as hard as possible to make that happen.
One of the things we have talked about in this House is the importance of pipelines. Pipelines are the nation-building infrastructure of the 21st century, and another part of that is strengthening our airports and the airport connections in the country. This is what this is all about: having pipelines, having airports. These things interconnect our country economically to facilitate trade and help to create jobs.
I am sure other members have talked specifically about the economic benefits of the Billy Bishop airport, but let me just go over this again. Annual direct impacts are close to 2,000 jobs, $100 million in wages, $220 million in GDP, and $980 million in economic output. A study found that the impact of non-local visitors' spending on air services at the airport amounted to approximately $150 million a year, so we know that significant economic benefits are facilitated by having that transportation infrastructure in place.
We need to do this. We need to see the value of this. We need to get this done. It is just unfortunate that we are dealing with a government right now in this country that really only sees one tool in the tool box when it comes to stimulating the economy. When the Liberals want to have a strong economy, they think the solution is always more government spending. During good times, bad times, and in-between times, all they want is more government spending. The reality is that when they have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
As a result, instead of simulating the economy by identifying opportunities in the private sector by working with the private sector to facilitate investment from other places, they just want the government to spend more money.
Our approach on this side of the House is different. Recognizing a multiplicity of tools in the toolbox for stimulating and strengthening the economy is necessary, but generally speaking, public expenditure should be a last resort. If we can stimulate the economy without having significant injections of taxpayer dollars, that is obviously preferable, because any major government spending does cost taxpayers.
I want to talk a bit about the issue in the context of local control and who is involved in making decisions with respect to the airport. There is a tripartite agreement in place that gives the federal government theoretical authority to make decisions about this airport, but because this is a development decision, a decision about what happens inside Toronto, we see it as something that the people of Toronto should ultimately make the fundamental decision about. Even though we encourage development, we want to see local control in this context.
Proceeding with development projects can always be difficult, whether we are talking about building a building, expanding an airport, or doing natural resource development. It can be difficult enough without having the involvement of many different levels of government where everyone feels like they have to be onside before something can move forward. Let us let the people most directly involved and most directly impacted have the biggest role in this. The City of Toronto has put a lot of money into studying this. It has effectively been limited now in its ability to proceed because of the Liberal government's desire to interfere, which it technically and legally does have the authority to do, but which most properly should be decided by the people of Toronto.
These are really the central points here that the government is missing. When the government is stimulating the economy, it is not all about putting a whole bunch of money into the economy if there are opportunities instead to leverage private sector investment. This is something that has huge economic benefits for Ontario and Quebec. There is an opportunity to leverage the involvement of the private sector, and that is a better way to go, a better way to stimulate the economy, than the alternative, which is simply the government putting a bunch of money into things.
Then there is also the issue of local control. The challenges with development are enough that we do not need everyone trying to control the process. We should leave the process as much as possible to the people of Toronto, to the people directly affected, and to their representatives in the City of Toronto.
I think that on that basis, understanding the proper place of economic stimulus and the need for local control, this is an important motion. I look forward to voting in favour of it.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to share my time with the member for .
I am pleased to have the opportunity to debate this Conservative motion. The aerospace sector is an economic growth hub that focuses on innovation, economic activity, and highly skilled jobs, and makes a significant contribution to Canada's social and economic well-being.
In 2014, Canada's aerospace industry contributed $29 billion to the GDP and generated more than 180,000 jobs, including 76,000 direct jobs. The remaining jobs create economic activity in various regions of the country.
Canada is one of the most important countries in the international aerospace sector. The OECD ranks Canada fifth after the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Furthermore, Canada is ranked third in the world in aeronautical manufacturing. Canada is also a world leader in the manufacture of flight simulators and aircraft engines.
Canada's aerospace industry is world-class, and it exports almost 80% of its production to various trade partners. The United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific are the three top export destinations and account for 57%, 21% and 14% respectively of Canada's aerospace industry exports. Almost 60% of Canada's aerospace exports are supply chain related.
Anyone familiar with the aerospace industry knows that innovation is crucial. The aerospace industry is one of the biggest contributors to research and development, with $1.8 billion in annual spending accounting for close to 20% of the industry's activity. It is impossible to talk about Canada's aerospace industry and its contributions to the economy without talking about the contributions of its flagship companies. Yes, I am talking about Bombardier.
Bombardier directly employs over 23,000 people in Canada. Bombardier's activities and those of its immediate suppliers represent one-third of the aerospace industry's contribution to Canada's gross national product. Since 2012, it has led research and development spending in Canada.
In recognition of the importance of innovation, the is developing a new program for innovation. The program will focus on ways that the government can enable aerospace companies, including small and medium-sized ones, to innovate, grow, and, ultimately, contribute to the sustainable growth of the aerospace industry.
I would also note that the Government of Canada's support for the industry goes beyond innovation. The government supports the industry through its world-class certification program, its export development funding, and its industrial and technological benefits policy.
I could go on for some time, but I should take questions from my colleagues. However, I just want to add one last point: any discussion of Bombardier must include the fact that, as the third-largest civil aviation company in the world, it is a magnet for direct and foreign investors.
Many companies that want to supply services and parts to Bombardier come to Canada and create good, innovative jobs. Canada's aerospace workers benefit.
I could take questions from other members, but I could also continue, because I have an opportunity to talk more about how important Bombardier is to the aerospace industry.
When a company like Bombardier accounts for nearly one-third of the activity in the aerospace industry, it is very important that it get support. Such a valuable industry helps create high-quality jobs and helps grow the Canadian economy.
That is why the reiterated that it was important to consider the status of the aerospace industry. It is important to look at the facts and to come up with a solid plan to help this company. As soon as this study is complete, we can move forward and make a decision in the coming weeks or months.
As many of my colleagues and I have already said in the House, the aerospace industry is extremely important to Canada. Not only does Bombardier employ 23,000 people, but another 180,000 jobs are directly or indirectly related to the aerospace industry, and not all of those jobs are in Montreal. They are all across Canada, including Toronto, western Canada, and eastern Canada. The entire supply chain is important, and it is connected to the aerospace industry.
I know that all members of the House take their jobs seriously. We all want to represent our constituents properly, but the best thing we can offer them is the opportunity to have a good job, a worthwhile job that allows them to earn a decent living.
People who work in the aerospace industry have that opportunity. Having studied science or engineering at CEGEP, college or more often at university, they often work in jobs that pay very well in the aerospace industry, and this is important.
I know that all my colleagues in the House, regardless of their party affiliation, will join me in showing our support and ensuring that Canadians continue to fill those jobs. The economy of the future depends on it. Canada needs to take its place on the world stage to ensure that we create good, important jobs that also contribute to the Canadian economy.
That is why I am proud to rise here today to share my thoughts with all members of the House and express support for Canada's aerospace industry.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
I want to begin by acknowledging the voters in my riding. Even though it has been nearly five months since we were elected, I think it is important to take the opportunity to thank them for placing their confidence in me on October 19. I promise to work extremely hard to represent them well over the next four years.
My riding has great strengths and we must work very hard to continue to develop our economy and create stable, well-paying jobs. That is the key to helping families, workers, and seniors improve their quality of life. It is an extremely simple process: creating good jobs results in a better quality of life.
That is precisely the purpose of this motion. It seeks to improve the quality of life of a large number of people, including travellers who fly to the wonderful big city of Toronto. The decision to expand the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has unforeseen direct and indirect positive effects.
Let us begin by talking about how Torontonians and Canadians will have access to an up-to-date airport without having to pay more taxes. Quieter planes will be landing right in their backyard, in downtown Toronto. Because of the quality of these aircraft, airport workers will be exposed to less environmental noise, which will improve their working conditions. What is more, travellers will be closer to their final destination, which, surprisingly, will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Regardless, the aircraft that Bombardier and its workers designed and produced is extremely sophisticated. It will allow for economies of scale, not only because of its weight, but also because it is more environmentally friendly. The has been boasting that this aircraft is the best in the world. We are very pleased to know that Bombardier makes the best aircraft in the world, and we agree with that.
We must not forget that Bombardier is a company that, with its Canadian presence, promotes the quality of Canadian jobs and the goods manufactured here in Canada. Canada and the provinces, especially Quebec and Ontario, have invested billions of dollars in the aerospace industry in the last 20 years. This sector of the Canadian economy is extremely important. The Canadian aerospace network is very important. The quality of the goods manufactured here in Canada is recognized around the world.
Bombardier is renowned not just for the quality of its aerospace products, but also for its excellent train cars, subway cars and streetcars. These cars are manufactured in a few locations in Canada, including a plant in La Pocatière, where I was born and continue to live. This plant currently provides 400 jobs. As we speak, it is completing the contract for the Montreal subway. This is an extremely sophisticated and well-developed train. With a suite of innovations, it is one of the best trains in the world, just as the Bombardier plane is one of the best in the world.
Therefore, I am well positioned to speak about the importance of Bombardier, because this company was in a sense born in La Pocatière with the manufacture of Ski-Doo snowmobiles. After that there was the first contract with Montreal and New York, which led to the expansion of the La Pocatière plant.
At one time, 1,200 people were working at the La Pocatière plant on the New York City contract. There is no doubt that a plant like that is important to our community.
Bombardier forms a whole; it is a company that operates in various sectors. If something goes wrong in one sector, things could go wrong everywhere. Right now, Bombardier has invested a significant amount of money in developing this airplane, which would be very welcome in Toronto. As a result, there is now a weak link at Bombardier, which is the aerospace sector.
Bombardier needs all kinds of help. One way to help this company is to allow these airplanes, which are the best and most economical in the world, and also the quietest, to land in Toronto. This is consistent with an overall transportation vision that takes into account the environment, productivity, and the quality of life of people in the surrounding area, since some people say that Toronto residents could be affected. That seems to be one argument against expanding the airport.
This is also about the country's economic growth. The government says that it has an economic development plan. Here is an absolutely incredible opportunity to inject some vitality into the aerospace industry and innovation. It is passing up an absolutely incredible opportunity.
We need to realize that a company like Bombardier does not operate in isolation. We are talking about a major industrial cluster. The Bombardier subcontractors are important players too. A Canada-wide network supplies goods and services to Bombardier and creates jobs.
I think that the government's decision is completely irrational. It does not support the sustainable development that the government prides itself on championing. The government must take another look at its decision and give Bombardier the opportunity to sell airplanes to Canadian airlines. We have to sell Canadian airplanes in Canada, create jobs here in this great country, and help companies like Bombardier. The company is going through a very difficult time because it invested heavily in this project, which is absolutely critical to its future.
The company must gain the country's trust by getting Canadian companies to buy its airplanes, which Air Canada did recently. Other Canadian airlines can do the same to help the company grow. That would send a strong, clear, unmistakable signal to international airlines that we are supporting our own local industry and that we are proud to do so. I believe that we absolutely must continue to support Bombardier.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to talk to the House about what I think is a very important topic, despite the comments by the previous speaker.
The motion before us today is simple. We are asking for an acknowledgement by the House of the contribution that Bombardier makes to our country. We are asking for recognition that there is a market solution, one of many that could be made available to support Bombardier. I will talk a bit more about that. We would like the House to acknowledge that the planes are well suited to urban airports, and that helps Bombardier to sell planes around the world.
It also asks us to recognize that Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a major economic driver for the GTA, which it is; we can provide the statistics on that. We are asking the House to recognize that the expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport would allow airlines to purchase the Bombardier C Series jet. That is what we are talking about today.
Finally, we ask the House to call upon the government to reverse a very specific decision that it made on November 12, in 88 letters. It was a decision to prohibit any discussion on whether an operating agreement could be changed to allow for jets to fly into an airport or allow the runway to be expanded by a certain amount. It does not get into how long. That is the operating agreement that has been in place for many years. It expires in 2033. It is there to ensure that the airport operates in the context of a larger urban city.
The waterfront was a very different place back in the 1980s, and great advancements have been made since then. A tripartite agreement was made many years ago between the federal government, the City of Toronto, and the then Toronto harbour commission, and all signed off on it. It was with respect to not allowing jets on the island airport and not allowing further expansion of its existing runways. It was an agreement that was made over 30 years ago. Eight days after the current was sworn in, those 88 letters stated that there would not be any consideration of the matter.
The member previous asked why we are wasting the time of the House. The plan being put forward by us to use a market solution has worked in the past. Members in the House may not know this, but in the beginning the Q400 turboprop, which is another Bombardier product, did not have a lot of buyers. It was the purchase by Porter of a Toronto-made plane for a Toronto-based airline that got the attention of other buyers in the world. That is when the Q400, to make a bad pun, took off in sales. When a business operates in a country that backs its product to the point where it will be utilized in a showcase facility specifically suited to that plane, other countries and other airlines of the world take note.
When Porter announced its purchase of the Q400, it was a very important time for Bombardier, and for CAW Downsview, because it was on its last legs with respect to jobs. That is what prompted everyone to rally behind it. CAW, management, and everyone, came together on this issue because it was the right thing to do to save the facility, and it did.
The interesting part is that, of course, airlines do not want competition. No one wanted to see Porter come on the scene, least of all Air Canada and WestJet. The then president of WestJet asked why passengers would want to fly in a Q400 and have a propeller whirling next to their head as they sat in their seat. Times have changed, and WestJet now has a smaller part of its airline using the Q400, which has a turboprop spinning next to the heads of the passengers. That is because a showcase was provided for the ability of this plane to save on fuel and to be environmentally friendly.
The City of Toronto and PortsToronto embarked on a series of studies, at the request of the City of Toronto, to determine whether there was a case to be made for the two parties to lift the jet ban and give the Bombardier C Series jet the opportunity to come into the Billy Bishop airport, as we call it.
That progress was on its way, but it takes a lot of time. As members have pointed out, it took a lot of consultation along the way. Unfortunately, that process was stopped in its tracks with that one tweet. This is the way it works. It is three parties to an agreement, and all the parties have to agree.
In full disclosure, I was a CEO the last time we amended the tripartite agreement. It took a long time. I had two children during that time. That is how long it takes to amend a tripartite agreement. However, the way it always worked with respect to the federal establishment versus local interests, either expressed through the city of Toronto or the Toronto port authority, harbour commission, PortsToronto, however one calls it, was that local interests determined local matters.
Minister , of Minister , and of the last minister who was involved in it, all of those ministers consistently said the same thing, that if the city of Toronto and PortsToronto could agree, then the federal government would come in at that point, study it, and make a decision.
In this case, it is completely the opposite situation. We highlight it today because it is a problem in the way in which the federal government will be interacting with communities around the country. This will not be the last time a local community will appeal to the MP to intervene on a local matter and make it go its way, just because it wants a number of seats in the area.
It is a dangerous precedent, not only because all those studies that were under way, if not completed in a lot of cases, will not be seen by the public, and the public had real questions associated with the provision of this service at the Toronto city centre airport.
It is true that the studies had not been completed, but is that not an even greater reason why the federal government should not take a decision? Is that not the crux of the issue here today, that without a single study, without a proposal, it has come in over the top and has made a determination that really starts with the local councillors at the city of Toronto?
Had the Conservative government come in and taken a decision that stripped the city of Toronto on final decision-making abilities on an issue that was important to it, any councillor, including the former councillor, who now sits as a parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, would have had a fit. They would have called for the resignation of the government.
That is the issue we have today. What is good for the goose is not good for the gander in terms of interference with local matters. We consult, we listen, we let sophisticated parties that have their processes in place to get through their processes. Then the decision comes to the level of government, or the order the government in the federal sphere, so it can make the decision.
The market solution is real. It is an opportunity to showcase a Canadian-designed, implemented, conceived, manufactured airplane that can rival any other airline and airplane in the world and has the possibility of moving sales as a result of purchases done by Porter, or perhaps by an upstart new carrier that wants to come in. Perhaps it could be interested in the C Series because of its fuel efficiencies. Maybe that will be of interest to those new upstart carries. However, they all want to see that first step, and the first step in the case of the Q400 was Porter.
As I have already mentioned, the process was being followed. It is incredibly important that the process continue. That is why the last part of the motion is the crux of the matter. It asks the government to reverse the decision and let the process flow, let the reports come out, let them be published. If at that point in time the city of Toronto and PortsToronto decide they do not want to proceed, that is the appropriate level of lobbying and discussion. Then it comes to the federal government.
In 2002, when Porter was attempting to come in to fly Q400s, an organization that the parliamentary secretary was very much involved in, called CommunityAIR, predicted that the arrival of Porter would plummet property values by 25% and jeopardize $20 billion in waterfront development. That simply did not happen. If we take a look at the riding of the member, we will see very clearly that waterfront property values have increased by 70% with a functioning island airport in its midst.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from today.
The government has noted the importance of Canada's aviation and aerospace sectors, and has noted Bombardier's contribution to these sectors. Allow me to reiterate our view that the Canadian aerospace has one of the strongest mechanisms for both investment and international trade, and serves both Canada and the world.
As the minister said at the start of the debate, our aviation and aerospace sectors connect people to jobs and help deliver essential goods and services. Their products, people and skills are in demand around the world, as are Canada's abilities as a certifier and regulator in these sectors.
Last year, our aerospace sector generated more than 180,000 jobs and added $29 billion to our country's economy. Companies such as Bombardier export approximately 80% of the products they make.
As we have noted, the Government of Canada was pleased by Air Canada's announcement about its intention to purchase Bombardier's C Series aircraft. The C Series aircraft is a major advancement in aviation as I have mentioned, and we are confident that its addition to Air Canada's fleet will benefit both the company and Canada's aerospace sector.
However, interest in the C Series has not been limited to Air Canada. The first C Series aircraft will be delivered to Swiss International Air Lines in the spring. The entry of the Swiss C Series aircraft into commercial service will give Bombardier a chance to show the world that the C Series is truly a quality aircraft for the world.
The government is proud that Transport Canada has been a part of the process to certify that the aircraft meets Canada's standards for airworthiness and environmental regulations. This initial approval is a significant step toward Bombardier obtaining full certification in Canada, Europe, the United States, and abroad. Such approval will also help Bombardier to build investor and customer confidence.
Moving on to the question of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, I would like to restate our position that the question of whether to amend the tripartite agreement and allow the expansion of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, address the use of commercial jet aircraft and extend that airport's runway was not based on whether Bombardier could sell more aircraft.
The greater Toronto area and southern Ontario as a whole are well served by their airports, and I will include the London International Airport in that mix. Let me reiterate what the minister has said.
Toronto Pearson is by far Canada's busiest airport and has more international passengers than any North American airport, after New York's John F. Kennedy International. Billy Bishop helps to connect Toronto's business heart to other major centres in Canada and the United States. Other airports like the London International Airport and Hamilton's airport are expanding and providing specialty services, for instance, Hamilton courier traffic. Together these airports serve general and commercial aviation, passengers, shippers, and businesses contributing to both local and national economies.
Billy Bishop airport now offers service to 24 cities in Canada and the U.S., with connections to more than 80 cities across the globe. It is also a base for an air ambulance service, which flew approximately 4,600 flights in 2014, and is home to a sizeable personal aviation community that includes a flight school. Billy Bishop airport is already an important contributor to Toronto's economy and is already providing a valuable service without expansion.
Last month, it was named one of the top airports in North America and the Airports Council International, ACI, 2015 airport service quality award. It tied for third in the best airports North American region category, one of only two Canadian airports to make the list along with the Ottawa International Airport. This recognition demonstrates that the investments that have been made in the airport are already providing its users with better amenities, improved access, and an exceptional travel experience.
On November 12, 2015, the announced that the Government of Canada would not reopen the tripartite agreement among this government, the city of Toronto, and PortsToronto to allow expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
As the minister has noted in the debate, the government stands by this decision. The current tripartite agreement strikes the right balance between commercial interests and the interests of local communities, environmental and cultural challenges, including the evolution of the waterfront. This issue is larger than just the airport. With other jet-capable airports close by, we believe there has been no reason to change the current approach.
The government is not alone in this position. Several citizens groups in GTA have opposed any proposed expansion of Billy Bishop airport. Accordingly, they support our position against reopening the agreement.
As the minister pointed out, this issue goes beyond just the airport, and involves the fact that Torontonians desire a greater say in the development of their waterfront, a waterfront that could be affected by expansion of the Billy Bishop airport.
To entertain a proposal to amend the tripartite agreement between the federal government, the city of Toronto, and PortsToronto, we would have to consider more than just whether to allow jet aircraft or a runway extension. We would have to assess many factors related to safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally responsible air travel and cargo services.
This has already been done. The government continually assesses the air policy framework to ensure that Canada's air transportation system can respond to this evolving environment and is properly equipped to facilitate future growth. This decision considers the best interests of Torontonians and Canadians.
In April 2014, Toronto City Council debated the issue and actively sought the views of the then federal government. The city asked the federal government of the day to take a public position on proposed changes to the tripartite agreement that would permit the expansion of the airport and to allow jet aircraft, such as the Bombardier C Series, to operate from the airport.
Let me remind members that from April 2013 to the fall of 2015, there were multiple public meetings, conferences, and other events at which the proposed expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport was discussed. There were web forums, opportunities for public comment, and many other open avenues where anyone could express their views on the issue. Many factors related to the proposal were discussed and debated, as were its potential economic benefits, but to link the expansion of Billy Bishop with the success of the Bombardier C Series is simplistic and ignores the larger picture.
Bombardier products have always and will always succeed based on their quality and competitiveness in global markets. Opposition members cannot imply that the success of Bombardier only depends on the expansion of Billy Bishop.
Let me reiterate that the government is confident that the existing tripartite agreement strikes the right balance between commercial interests and the interests of local communities, environmental and cultural challenges, including the evolution of the waterfront.
We made the right decision in not permitting the expansion, and we stand by this balanced decision. The government will therefore not support the motion.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the opposition's motion. However, I would like to begin by wishing everyone a happy International Women's Day. I would like to recognize all of the women in the House, all of the women members of Parliament from all parties, the women who work in our offices, the women who support the House, and the women who work in security. They all are empowerment.
This motion mixes and confuses two important issues: support for our aerospace industry, in this motion specifically Bombardier; and city building, in this motion the impact of the proposed expansion of the Billy Bishop island airport on the waterfront and the City of Toronto. The motion confuses the two issues by linking them, and this lessens the debate. We can debate how best to support the aerospace industry. That is a worthwhile endeavour. However, why tie it to the island airport? It oversimplifies the problem and it does not offer long-term solutions. Let us be clear: expanding one airport would not guarantee a future for our aerospace industry or for Bombardier.
The form of this motion is divisive. It creates a notion that supporting aerospace must be done at the cost of city building. It does not. People in the aerospace industry can be city builders. City builders can champion the aerospace industry. We will all be stronger if we work together. I cannot support this motion because of the way it is set up. It is divisive and it would not get us closer to solutions. It would be detrimental to the city building happening in Toronto and at our waterfront in the city. We can work together to find solutions.
It is simplistic to say that the answer to the problems facing our aerospace industry in general, or Bombardier specifically, is to be found by building larger, more-extensive airports long into the future, even if the expansion proposed is contrary to the community's interests. We can and should do better at addressing this issue. This motion, though, would fail to provide any solutions.
My riding of Toronto—Danforth contains both large residential areas and nearly 300 acres of industrial and commercial lands that make up the port lands. We overlook the island airport and sit adjacent to it, and in some cases under the flight path for the Billy Bishop island airport. Although I am proud that Bombardier is a strong Canadian company and am a supporter of the current configuration of the island airport, I am opposed to this motion today.
I support Bombardier.
Bombardier is a Canadian icon. From the 1930s until the late 1960s, it was a pioneer of the modern snowmobile.
This Canadian giant and its many divisions produce a remarkable range of products. Bombardier's rail and aerospace divisions and their respective administrative offices employ tens of thousands of people from Burnaby, British Columbia, to Saint-Bruno, Quebec.
Bombardier manufactures snowmobiles, monorail systems, amphibious firefighting aircraft, and rolling stock. The work done by Bombardier employees can be seen all over the world and in our own subway tunnels and garages. Bombardier is important to Canada.
Over the last decade, one of Bombardier's crucial breakthroughs in terms of products has been the C Series aircraft. This category of aircraft is an absolutely marvellous piece of technology. Everyone agrees that it is one of the quietest planes in the world. What is more, it is in demand: just last month, Air Canada signed a letter of intent to purchase 45 of these jets, with an option for 30 more.
There is a market solution available that could help Bombardier with its financial troubles, and we know that the government is looking at the company's request for financial assistance, so that its C Series production can proceed.
The issue is not the quality of Bombardier's jets, nor even the noise from these planes. It is the disruption from the air traffic, the impact on wildlife, the impact on small watercraft on the lake, and the impact on the people of Toronto.
Furthermore, I agree that the island airport in its existing configuration should remain. It brings travellers, tourists, and business people to the centre of the city that I call home. It is an important part of our city.
I would like to underline that the City of Toronto is not just an economic engine. It is home to millions of people. The expansion of the island airport would harm a recently revitalized waterfront. It is a place where there has been significant investment over the past years, and one in which we are continuing to invest. Therefore, I do not support expanding the island airport.
My riding would be directly impacted by an expanded island airport. The southernmost portion of my riding is a park called Tommy Thompson Park. It is in fact one of the environmental consequences of Toronto's expansion over the last 50 years.
The park is a long spit of land that juts into Lake Ontario. It was originally designed as a breakwall to protect the inner harbour from erosion. This five-kilometre long, 1,200-acre structure is physical proof of the changes Toronto has gone through. It is built from the soil that was removed to build subway lines and office towers over the last five decades. Nature has reclaimed it, and we have turned it into a park.
It is not just the people from across the GTA who appreciate this strip of land. This park is one of the few places on the Toronto waterfront where natural habitats exist for birds and other species. It is home to some 316 species of birds and a wide variety of mammals. Beavers, mink, and muskrat call this part of Toronto home. The area has been designated an important bird area by BirdLife International, and it is an important breeding area and migratory stopover for many of these birds.
Running an expanded airport's flight path adjacent to this area of national significance would be significant for the bird life and would be incompatible with the use these animals are making of the land. An expanded flight schedule that includes jets would also be incompatible with the uses residents in my riding and the GTA are finding for this park.
The impact on the residents of the GTA, were the island airport to be expanded, would also be significant. The motion before us speaks only to the purported economic benefits that the member opposite imagines would flow from adding football fields of tarmac into the Toronto waterfront. There is no mention of the millions of people who visit the Toronto Islands each year to picnic, swim, and skate on the frozen ponds.
We are a city built on a lake. Our waterfront and islands are vital parts of our identity and our communal space. Tourists visit our waterfront, and we have invested in its revitalization. After all of this effort, all of this city building, why would we damage it by increasing the length of runways and landing jets over our heads?
The motion fails to realize what the waterfront means to my riding and the greater Toronto area as a whole. The motion envisages the harbour as a place where only work is accomplished, and where dollars and cents flow into Toronto. It fails to see the harbour and the waterfront more broadly as crucial public space. The waterfront is a place where people live, work, and relax. The island airport exists and is an important part of the downtown core of Toronto, but it does not need to define that space.
I am opposed to the motion, because it does not accord with the vision my community has for Toronto's future. The expansion of the island airport is not compatible with a waterfront that is a livable and accessible place. It detracts from what we have worked to build, for people to study, work, and visit. An expanded island airport does not include space for sailboats, dragon boats, and canoes. This is Toronto's space to relax. It does not allow for migratory bird colonies on a spit of land that was once just construction material. It does not allow for quiet secluded beaches with endless lake views, and it is a version of Toronto that is fundamentally contrary to the type of development the city needs and wants in spaces surrounding its harbour.
Our efforts should be directed toward expanding cultural spaces, building green infrastructure, and investing in housing in the spaces left in the downtown core. Smart and careful investment in the urban environment that enhances people's quality of life will bring benefits to Canada and the GTA.
The economic benefits of a livable waterfront are just as important and would bring greater benefit than a bigger airport. We should support city building and not assume that a few hundred metres of asphalt would somehow cure the problems of the world's leading aerospace and train manufacturer.
To conclude, I am happy to take the hon. member for on a tour of my riding, so that she can see first-hand what I am talking about. It is, after all, almost migratory bird season for Tommy Thompson Park.