Bill C-3--Is Your Business Next
It is surprising to see the Conservatives following a Liberal Party agenda. If Bill C-3 is what a "rightist," suppposedly pro-business Conservative Party in Government advocates, then the world is topsy-turvy and Bob Rae could become the new leader of the Liberals.
Don't you find it amazing that everyone focuses on the "operations" side of what Bill C-3 is all about?
There is another more ominous side that seems to be forgotten that should send a chill to every business person in this country! But that is ok because the Government says its purpose with this legislation is pure and wholesome: "The proposed bill has become a high government priority to "protect public interest, safety and security," said Linda Licari, spokeswoman for Transport Canada."
The Star takes a shot at the Bridge Co. and its owner to make it obvious who the target of the Bill is and that justifies it all too:
- "If Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun fails to allow Canadian government authorities to regulate security, maintenance, tolls or any construction on his bridge, they can take away the crossing and sell it, according to proposed legislation.
Moroun would also be subject to a $500,000 fine or two years jail time, according to Bill C-3 tabled Monday and approved on first reading by the Conservative government."
And some wonder why DRIC is taking so long. Part of the reason is obvious: to allow the legislation to be passed to try to pressure the Bridge Co. to achieve what some in Ottawa want to accomplish that FIRA did not years ago.
To be honest, I can well understand the concerns of the Government. As its backgrounder points out, the vast majority of crossings are GOVERNMENT owned: "These 24 bridges are owned under various arrangements: 22 are publicly owned (seven by a federal authority, 13 by a provincial or municipal authority, one by a joint authority and one by an American authority), while the remaining two road bridges are privately owned." Given the poor way some of these "public" bridges operate, they need help. Perhaps one of the best operating ones, the "private" Ambassador Bridge Company, could have been retained to provide consulting services to help the "public" bridges operate more effectively. After all, they do not have a bottomles taxpayer pocketbook to look to for money!
While it may have some good intentions, Bill C-3 is a very Draconian piece of legislation. When you read the key provisions below about how it can put the Bridge Co., its real and obvious target, into serious difficulty financially while it can help build up their competition at the Bridge Co's own expense, you will understand what I mean. The Bill can destroy a business in the name of the "public interest" it appears and without compensation.
That makes it an easier and cheaper route than expropriating a business doesn't it? You tell me of one single business person who would stand for this kind of Government action with their industry!
Please do not give me the "public ownership" vs. "private ownership" drivel. We already have learned who is the best North American border operator. Notwithstanding Brian Masse's attempt, our model ought not to be the Peace Bridge as an example.
No, this legislation goes much further than we ever should allow our Government to go "for the general advantage of Canada" merely "to ensure the efficient flow of traffic."
Wait a minute, the Windsor Star is in a virtual monopoly position in Windsor being the only daily newspaper in Windsor giving out local information. Sometimes what it says may be against Government policy. That cannot be right because Government knows best.
That is the case about newspapers in many other cities across Canada too. Isn't it in the public interest to ensure that the information is given out properly to citizens to "protect public interest, safety and security." We need an efficient flow of government information. I think I better call the PM to see if legislation can be passed about that industry too.
See, it's that easy to do.
I am shocked that a so-called CONSERVATIVE Party Government would ever introduce this type of legislation. I am shocked that the Cabinet got sucked in by a pro-Liberal agenda item. Who is to say that YOUR business is not next!
Bill C-3 "An Act respecting international bridges and tunnels"
- 2. The following definitions apply in this Act.
"alteration" includes a conversion, an extension and a change in the use of an international bridge or tunnel but does not include its operation, maintenance and repair. [you cannot breathe without Government permission]
"international bridge or tunnel" means a bridge or tunnel, or any part of it, that connects any place in Canada to any place outside Canada, and includes the approaches and facilities related to the bridge or tunnel. [how far does this extend?]
3. This Act is binding on Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province. [Federal supremacy. Take that Dalton McGuinty and Eddie Francis!]
5. International bridges and tunnels are declared to be works for the general advantage of Canada. [See 3 above and which means the Federal Government makes the rules constitutionally]
6. No person shall construct or alter an international bridge or tunnel without the approval of the Governor in Council. [you cannot breathe without Government permission]
12. If a person requires an interest in land, as defined in section 2 of the Expropriation Act, for the purposes of the construction or alteration of an international bridge or tunnel and has unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the interest in land, the person may request the Minister to have the Minister of Public Works and Government Services have the interest in land expropriated by the Crown and section 4.1 of that Act applies to that person, with any modifications that are necessary, as if the person were a railway company. [Poof, your business can be expropriated even to help out your competitor]
13. The Minister may order the owner or operator of an international bridge or tunnel to take any action that the Minister considers appropriate to ensure that it is kept in good condition. ["Any action"...You have no control or say and YOU have to pay for it too!]
15. The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister, make regulations respecting the operation and use of international bridges and tunnels, including regulations
(a) respecting the use that may be made of international bridges or tunnels by different types of vehicles;
(b) respecting the tolls, fees and other charges that may be imposed by owners or operators of international bridges or tunnels for their use, to ensure the efficient flow of traffic; [The Governmment can control who your customers are and how much you can charge too. I hope you can pay your bills as a "non-profit." What is the incentive to be a good operator now? If you are too good, your customers will be sent elsewhere.]
16. The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister, make regulations respecting the security and safety of international bridges and tunnels, including regulations
(a) requiring persons who own or operate international bridges or tunnels to develop and implement security plans and establish security management systems; [As above]
23. (1) No person shall, without the approval of the Governor in Council,
(a) purchase or otherwise acquire an international bridge or tunnel; [If you want to retire, good luck in finding a purchaser who will give you a price that equates to the value of your business!]
29. (1) The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister, issue letters patent of incorporation for the establishment of a corporation, with or without share capital, for the purpose of the corporation constructing or operating an international bridge or tunnel. Letters patent take effect on the date stated in them. [What the heck, if the business can make any money, the Government will become your competitor or your operator!]
57. For greater certainty, this Act applies in respect of any proposal for the construction or alteration of an international bridge or tunnel that has been submitted to any department, agency or regulatory authority of the Government of Canada before the coming into force of this section. [So much for laws not being retroactive]
As I said, I have set out the key provisions of the Bill to which others have not directed your attention for obvious reasons.
Be honest. Would you tolerate Government intervening in your business in this fashion eg saying who can use your facilities and what you can charge and to whom you can sell if you want out. Seriously, if you are a business owner or have a job, insert your company in the places where it talks about bridges and tunnels.
You now understand why a CONSERVATIVE Minister should have a BIG problem with Canadians, never mind fighting George W. too!