Safer Railways Act (Bill S-4)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I also am happy to support Bill S-4 and the importance of rail infrastructure in this country.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North spoke of the nostalgic element of rail. That reflects the fact that we have not invested in rail for so long that we almost have an antique system for passengers. We also have not invested sufficiently in safety for freight. We need to upgrade. We need to expand sidings, so that in the competition for rail use between passenger and freight, passengers are not needlessly delayed.

We need investment. There still is currently pending the $7.5 million that is needed for the former E&N corridor rail on Vancouver Island. We need it, it makes sense and it has wide community support.

In the same way that the hon. member spoke of the fact we can no longer travel by rail from Regina to Winnipeg, people cannot travel from Edmonton to Calgary or from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Sydney, Nova Scotia. Many commercially valuable rail lines have been abandoned by governments that have not been looking to the future.

Does the member agree that on top of Bill S-4 we need to see substantial investment in safety and modernization and, yes, high-speed rail, particularly in areas like Edmonton to Calgary?

Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, in the past, whether it was former prime minister Paul Martin or Jean Chrétien, they recognized the value of infrastructure spending. They realized that by investing in the infrastructure we can in fact make a difference.

What I would suggest is that we do need to look at our rail lines as a whole, as an industry and as something that could be of great value and benefit. We need to look at how the Government of Canada can invest scarce tax dollars the best it can in terms of building that infrastructure so our rail lines are safe and ultimately progressively moving forward to where we could actually see the expansion of rail lines, which the member is talking about.

The sky is the limit in terms of the potential that is there within the rail lines, but what we need to do is come together. We need to see strong national leadership that will demonstrate a vision that will incorporate the benefits, economically and socially, of investing in the rail line infrastructure.