Brian Masse and Star Apology Required
The strong suggestion being made was that Mr. Bell did something in the last minute that was awful. Something to help the Ambassador Bridge too!
Brian stated "Why a member from North Vancouver was making bridge-friendly amendments is peculiar to say the least...It was shocking because it could have undermined our community and the whole process for the next border crossing."
The true facts are totally different as a reading of the House Committee hearings would have disclosed
A few facts need mentioning first. Don Bell, the MP referred to, is one of the Vice-Chairs of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities which dealt with Bill C-3. Brian Masse is NOT a member of the Committee but merely an Associate Member along with over 100 other MPs.
Why should we listen to Mr. Bell...As Hansard stated, he has the the Lion's Gate Bridge in his jurisdiction. In case, Brian did not know it, there is a lot of discussion in Vancouver about twinning the Port Mann Bridge so it would be a subject that he knows about.
A proper reading of the Committee hearings would have showed why Mr. Bell did what he did. He wanted to act fairly. He was NOT pushing anything. He wanted the Bridge Co. position to be put before Committee members for a proper hearing. What a crime!
Here are the excerpts and you be the judge:
- The Chair: We have an amendment on clause 6 that was circulated and submitted by Mr. Bell. I'll ask him to make a comment, please.
Mr. Don Bell: Thanks, Mr. Chair.
This is again further to the discussion I had with the department with respect to, number one, the issue of alteration. I heard that argument, and there was no deletion of the definition of alteration. I guess it's the application of alteration.
There are two aspects to this, and I would refer you to clause 6 as it now reads, which is basically that:
No person shall construct or alter an international bridge or tunnel without the approval of the Governor in Council.
This is suggesting that, first of all, the first subclause would be more or less the same:
No person shall construct an international bridge or tunnel without the approval of the Governor in Council.
The deletion is the reference to “alter”.
The second part is:
Despite subsection (1), the approval of the Governor in Council is not required in cases of replacement, substitution, expansion or twinning of an international bridge or tunnel at an existing international crossing.
My understanding is that there has been clarification. I have a copy of a letter from the U.S. Department of State clarifying to the Detroit International Bridge Company, which is the incorporated Ambassador Bridge, as we know it: “We have determined that the DIBC does not require a Presidential permit to expand or twin the existing bridge at that location.” The location is the Ambassador Bridge.
I realize that is the U.S. government's position, and we make our own decisions. I only wanted to talk about consistency in terms of going back to the original agreement of 1921. I said that I would bring forward this proposal for discussion by this committee so that there is at least an opportunity for discussion.
I again heard the argument from the department that it relates to the question of a fifth lane, for example, and the impact of expansion and/or twinning. I'd appreciate comments. It's in that same light, but I would appreciate any further comments that the department wanted to make on that.
It's the concern, as it was expressed, because of the uniqueness of the Ambassador Bridge, the historical relationship that it has, and the fact that it was built with private funds, with both the Canadian government and the U.S. government's presidential permit allowing it in terms of its ability to function in the marketplace, in terms of boring capacity, and things of that nature.
Could you comment on that?
Mr. Brian Hicks: The bill relates to all 24 international crossings. We've been very careful in the wording so that what we've put in the bill is applied fairly to everybody.
Our intention with this particular clause is that if you are going to construct, twin, or alter a bridge, you would then need Governor in Council approval.
I know that we use the word “twinning” a lot with bridges. In effect, you're building a new bridge. Whether it's a twin or not, you're actually constructing a new bridge across the border. The wording in this bill as it currently stands would require Governor in Council approval.
Mr. Don Bell: Twinning is another word for expansion, I guess, realistically. I appreciate you say it's a new bridge, but if you have an existing bridge...and I can relate it to a bridge in my jurisdiction, the Lions Gate Bridge. The alternative was to expand the number of lanes, and the question was whether the structure of the bridge could hold the additional lanes, or whether the way to obtain that extra capacity was to parallel or twin it. So it's a little different from a new bridge at a physical location that might be moved in the general proximity, which could be a mile or two miles away. You're talking about the impact of a particular bridge at a location.
I guess the difference, as explained to me by the witnesses from the Ambassador Bridge--and I just want to ensure that their interests are well vetted by this committee before we make our determination on this bill—in the distinction of those 24 locations you made reference to, in the financing and capacity of those bridges, is that there is no private liability, if you want to call it that. If the governments want to do something, they have the ability to raise the money. They don't have to go to the market to do so; they can do it through taxation, and make a government decision to apply funds to that, as opposed to a private operator, who has to make an economic case that will get either bond holders, banks, or someone to provide that money. Restrictions that might seem not unreasonable in a government owner context are unduly restrictive in a private owner context.
It's a question of what the interests of the Government of Canada are. I gather we want to ensure that safety and protection are the primary concerns--and the integrity of these international crossings. That's why I said I would raise this issue on behalf of the witnesses.
And speaking of amendments, which MP taking part in the hearings had the most amendments rejected as INADMISSIBLE? Not Don Bell but Brian Masse.
And which MP introduced an amendment during Third Reading of Bill C-3 in the House? Not Don Bell but Brian Masse.When will the Star and Masse apologize to the Member?