Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by mentioning the 60 or so seniors in my riding who suffered a tragic loss two days ago. There was a major fire in a retirement home in Beauport Sunday evening. The people on Joncas street, who are older than those living in other retirement homes, had to leave in the middle of the night and get on a bus. Incidentally, I would like to thank the city of Quebec for sending buses as quickly as possible. My thoughts are with these seniors and their families in these difficult times. I hope that most of them have family who can take them in. I have visited the home twice since I was elected.
I would now like to express some of my general concerns about this government, which has shown time after time that it is serving special interests, be they Liberal interests or multinational interests. The small and medium-sized business tax hikes it announced this summer are just one example of that. Another is the current crisis concerning the Minister of Finance's conflict of interest, which involves $20 million worth of shares in his family company, Morneau Shepell, that he was supposed to sell off two years ago.
Yesterday, we found out that five more government ministers apparently used the same technique as the Minister of Finance to avoid selling their shares or putting them in a blind trust. I hope we will all keep asking who those ministers are today. I am beginning to have some serious doubts about the behaviour of this government and the Prime Minister. The latter is responsible for ensuring that his government is complying with the law and is not using all kinds of loopholes to circumvent the spirit of the Conflict of Interest Act. I am very concerned about this.
This government is not working for Canadians; it is working for the multinationals. We saw a good example of this this morning in a Radio-Canada article written by Philippe-Vincent Foisy. It says that the government and the Minister of Canadian Heritage met with representatives of Amazon 99 times in the past 12 months. They met 37 times with representatives of Google and 16 times with representatives of Netflix, including 5 meetings with the Minister of Canadian Heritage a few months before she announced her extremely controversial agreement with Netflix.
In contrast, the minister met only once with representatives of ADISQ, whose gala I attended as a representative of the Conservative Party of Canada on Sunday evening. The minister met only twice with representatives of the Association québécoise de la production médiatique, and did not even meet once with representatives of ACTRA. This really gives the impression that the government is giving priority to the multinationals and that it has no time for organizations and Canadians.
Since we began debating Bill C-49, the government has boasted that it wants to focus on railway, aviation, and maritime safety. I, too, believe that railway safety is important, but 90% of this bill has nothing to do with railway safety.
Here is what I have done about railway safety since I was elected. First, I met with authorities at CN, since there is a railway serving Limoilou, in particular the port facilities in my riding, the port of Quebec and the Quebec railway station. I had a great meeting with a CN police officer. The CN has dozens of police officers that ensure railway safety. The police officer answered all the questions and concerns raised by citizens in my riding. My constituents wanted to know why trains often stayed at the two railway yards for several days, and they were also concerned about the trains' speed. It is very important.
If railway, aviation and maritime safety is so important, why was discussion in committee constantly stifled, and why were the amendments proposed by the official opposition rejected out of hand?
Most of the amendments proposed focused on the improvement of certain aspects of safety and competition.
The omnibus bill includes amendments to 13 different acts affecting the three main modes of transportation in Canada and the rest of the world. As I said, most of the content of this bill has nothing to do with safety, despite the fact that the parliamentary secretary’s speech was all about transportation safety. It is unfortunate.
Last night before I fell asleep, I happened to be reading the Canadian Parliamentary Review, a very interesting review of everything happening in all provincial and federal legislative assemblies across Canada. An academic wrote that he had conducted a study of the past 30 years and that, over the past two decades, there was a pattern of using, more often than not, time allocation for bills, in particular omnibus bills.
His study shows that efficiency and a need to act quickly are often cited as the reason to use omnibus bills. Parliament needs to be more efficient, since Canadians expect the House to act efficiently. In reality, in the past 30 years, the use of omnibus bills has not increased the number of bills passed in the House, regardless of the government in power. The academic goes so far as to say that we should let Parliament follow its natural course and allow members to thoroughly debate each bill. Thus, Bill C-49 should have been split into several bills so that we could get a more detailed understanding of every change the government is trying to make, as the hon. member for Mégantic—L’Érable so eloquently argued.
This being said, there are five aspects of the bill that caught my attention and that I would like to mention. First, with respect to allowing airlines to form international joint ventures, the bill will enhance the role of the Minister of Transport. How? Consider Delta Airlines and Air Canada, for example, each of which offers flights between Toronto and Atlanta. For the purposes of productivity, operations or efficiency, these companies could decide to merge the Toronto-Atlanta route in order to provide better service.
Normally, when two companies decide for form an international joint venture on a given route, they must obtain the approval of the Competition Bureau. With this bill, the Minister of Transport will have far more influence, because, at the end of the day, he will decide for the commissioner of competition whether the two companies can move forward with the international joint venture. The minister will act in the public interest. So far, neither the Liberal members or the parliamentary secretaries have been able to define the public interest in the context of the minister’s analysis.
The second issue I am interested in are the new security fees. The Minister of Transport has often mentioned the problem at Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau International Airport, where there are very long lines because there are not enough gates to ensure the safety of passengers as they embark on their flight. He said he wanted to make sure that there were more security checkpoints to make the lines shorter, but he will allow airports to charge additional fees. It is an open secret that the customers will end up paying these additional fees.
This specific clause of the bill shows us right away that Canadian consumers will have to pay more for their plane tickets when this bill comes into force. That is interesting because, every time the Liberals want to solve a problem, in this case wait times at airport security, they solve it by making Canadians pay more. The Liberals wanted to address the problem of climate change, so they created the carbon tax. They wanted to reduce their huge structural deficit by $20 billion, so they cut tax credits for Canadians, including tax credits for public transit, school supplies, sports, and arts.
Third, they want to change the act to give international shipping companies access to coastal trade thereby creating competition for Canadian shipowners between Halifax and Montreal. This will create an enormous amount of unfair competition for our shipowners because Canadian employees receive decent wages while other foreign companies do not pay their workers very well at all. This will create a lot of unfair competition for our shipowners.
This bill should not have been introduced as an omnibus bill. We should be given the opportunity to carefully examine each measure, which is something that we cannot do today. That is shameful.