Bill C-3: International Bridges and Tunnels Act

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I agree with the parliamentary secretary that Bill C-3 is very important not only for Canada but also for those residents who live near border crossings across this country. There are 24 crossings which are international bridges or tunnels that are significant to this specific legislation.

I reside in a municipality where there is a concentration of border crossings. We have significant issues with regard to the process followed on Bill C-3. What we thought was going to happen was potentially a deal to accommodate some of the local concerns regarding problems experienced at the border. We also wanted to make this the best bill possible. That is important to note. The parliamentary secretary talked about the urgent nature of this bill as well as the suggestion of being neglectful if we do not pass this bill at this time.

Of those 24 international bridges and tunnels, 22 of them actually have ownership that is governed either through the state or federal government on the American side, and on the Canadian side it is the federal government, the province or even municipalities that are owners-operators and active managers of border crossings. That leaves two private facilities that are currently without legislation because they are private property. They are subject to different laws of this land, but they do not have the degree of scrutiny that is important.

I was hoping the government would move toward accommodating actual consultation as a full component of the process. We were able to achieve that at committee for the operational use of the international bridges and tunnels. Once again, it is not a veto. In previous legislation which is being replaced, that was and is the case. There could be local vetoing with respect to some changes.

In terms of compromise, what we asked for is guaranteed consultation in the sale of the property of the bridge or tunnel and also for the construction and alteration which affects the roads in the area and the connecting interlinking highways to the bridge that could be municipal domain or another level of government domain.

Why can we not include those two elements that would actually make a harmonization of the bill? There should be a consultation process that allows the minister to at least have some direction, but at the same time does not bind him or her and more important, has municipalities and local governments as partners of a process to ensure safe, secure and fair trade in our communities.