Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications

Issue 7 - Evidence, May 28, 2014


OTTAWA, Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, to which was referred Bill S-4, An Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act, met this day at 6:45 p.m. to give consideration to the bill; and to examine the subject matter of those elements contained in Divisions 15, 16 and 28 of Part 6 of Bill C-31, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014, and other measures (topic: Part 6 — Division 28 — New Bridge for the St. Lawrence Act).

Senator Dennis Dawson (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: This evening we will begin our review of Bill S-4, an Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and to make consequential amendments to another act. It is also known by its short title, the Digital Privacy Act.

Bill S-4 amends the federal private sector privacy law in several notable ways, including by: permitting the disclosure of an individual's personal information without their knowledge or consent in certain limited circumstances; requiring organizations to take various measures in cases of data security breaches; creating offences for failure to comply with obligations related to data security breaches; and enabling the Privacy Commissioner, in certain circumstances, to enter into compliance agreements with organizations.

Appearing before us is the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Industry Canada. He is accompanied by officials from Industry. We have here today John Knubley, Deputy Minister and Lawrence Hanson, Assistant Deputy Minister, Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications.

[Translation]

I would now ask the minister to proceed with his opening comments.

The Honourable James Moore, P.C., M.P., Minister of Industry, Industry Canada: Thank you very much for welcoming me here to speak about a very important subject.

[English]

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here this evening. I know we have all had long days to afford me this time in your calendar and your schedule as we head towards the summer recess. It is very generous, so I appreciate the flexibility.

[Translation]

I am very pleased to be able to speak to you today about the Digital Privacy Act, a bill that will better protect the personal information of Canadians online. Last month, I was pleased to launch Digital Canada 150, an ambitious plan for Canadians to take full advantage of the opportunities of the digital age. It is a plan that sets clear goals for a connected and competitive Canada by the time we celebrate our 150th anniversary in 2017.

[English]

Digital Canada 150 has five pillars, 39 new initiatives and one national plan that will serve 35 million Canadians. It's a broad-based plan that will help Canadians participate and succeed in our global digital economy. It's based on thousands of recommendations and ideas that came from Canadians from all parts of this country.

Our government understands that for a strong digital economy to work and to be effective, it requires strong protection for Canadians when they surf the Web or when they shop online. One of the five pillars of Digital Canada 150 is protecting Canadians. It's protecting Canadians in the digital privacy act that we are here to discuss. The digital privacy act, or Bill S-4, will modernize Canada's private sector privacy law by introducing important new protections for Canadians online.

I would like to provide the committee with more detail on five areas where the digital privacy act will significantly improve Canada's privacy law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, more commonly known as PIPEDA.

The first, unfortunately, is a familiar topic for Canadians in the digital age: data breaches. It may surprise the committee, but, currently, if an organization has a data breach and its customers' personal information is stolen or lost, it's not currently mandatory for the company to disclose to the customers that their information has been compromised. The digital privacy act will require organizations to tell individuals if their personal information has been lost or stolen. As part of this notification, organizations will also have to tell individuals what steps they can take to protect themselves, such as changing their credit card PIN, their email password, setting up a secondary layer of security, and so on.

[Translation]

Bill S-4 will also require organizations to report these data breaches to the Privacy Commissioner. In fact, organizations will be required to keep records of all data breaches; and if the Privacy Commissioner makes a request for these records, they must be handed over.

In addition, organizations that deliberately break the rules and cover up data breaches will face fines of up to $100,000 for every person or client they failed to notify.

[English]

The second of the five areas I would like to talk about is the new rules in the digital privacy act that ensure that vulnerable Canadians, particularly children, fully understand the potential consequences when companies ask to collect their personal information.

For example, when the owner of a website for children wants to gather information about visitors to their site, the owner would need to use language that a child would reasonably expect to understand. If the child can't be expected to understand how the information will be used, the child's consent would not be considered valid and the owner would need to get consent from that child's parent. This measure is a key element of the digital privacy act that increases protection for vulnerable Canadians, and certainly children, whose privacy can be violated online.

Given the increased use of iPads, iPods, tablets and BlackBerrys among our youth, the stronger rules included in this bill will make sure that individual Canadians, especially children and adolescents, can fully understand the potential consequences of carelessly sharing their personal information online.

[Translation]

The third area of improvement involves limited exceptions to allow personal information to be shared in situations where it is needed to help protect individuals from harm.

There are certain circumstances where sharing information without a person's consent would clearly be in the public interest. For example, providing information so that law enforcement can reach the family of an injured, ill or deceased individual.

[English]

Alternatively, when financial institutions suspect that an elderly person who may not be digitally literate is being financially abused, those institutions would now be able to report cases to the police or to family members when they suspect, for example, that financial abuse of a senior is taking place. The digital privacy act will also allow private-sector organizations to share information with one another to detect or prevent fraud, an amendment that has long been called for by the financial sector.

Fourth, the digital privacy act will streamline rules for business. Currently under PIPEDA, companies can break privacy protection laws in the course of normal and reasonable practices. For example, a company would be in violation of the rules for sharing the email address of its employees without their consent. Using and sharing information produced by an employee at work or collecting personal information in order to conduct a breach of contract investigation or to assess the viability of a potential business transaction are against the current law. The digital privacy act clarifies this; it allows for sharing of information under these circumstances.

It would also be an important step in cutting red tape for businesses, while also maintaining the privacy of Canadians.

[Translation]

And lastly, the Digital Privacy Act will give the Privacy Commissioner new powers to enforce the law.

[English]

Prior to the bill's introduction, my department and I did broad-based consultation with those who are the most knowledgeable about this area of law. For example, I met with interim Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier. The Prime Minister just nominated a new Privacy Commissioner this afternoon. But Chantal Bernier, up until today, has been the acting Privacy Commissioner. When we tabled the digital privacy act, she said that the bill contains very positive developments for the privacy rights of Canadians. . . . I am pleased that the government has . . . addressed issues such as breach notifications. . . . I welcome proposals in this bill."

I'm grateful for the support she has offered. During some of the further discussion, she suggested that the bill should be entertained by this committee and that of the House of Commons.

Under the digital privacy act, the Privacy Commissioner will be able to negotiate voluntary compliance agreements with organizations. Under these agreements, organizations make binding commitments to ensure that they comply with the law. This allows organizations to act in good faith, to work collaboratively with the Privacy Commissioner, and to quickly correct any privacy violations that may have been discovered. In exchange, those organizations can avoid costly legal action.

In addition, the Privacy Commissioner will have one year instead of 45 days to negotiate these agreements and to potentially take the organizations to court if they don't play by the rules, beyond that time frame.

The digital privacy act will also give the Commissioner more power to "name and shame" — to publicly disclose when organizations are not cooperating in the protection of people's privacy. This change will make sure that Canadians are informed and aware of issues that affect their privacy. Organizations either comply with the law or face public scrutiny by the commissioner.

Finally, let me address some of the media reports that have misrepresented, in my view, the intent of the digital privacy act.

It has been suggested that the provisions in the bill could force companies to hand over private information to third parties, including the police or to copyright trolls. This is certainly not the case. The digital privacy act will not force companies to hand over private information to anyone. The act will place strict limits and tight restrictions on the types of personal information that companies can disclose to other organizations. A company that chooses to voluntarily disclose private information must follow strict rules before releasing it.

[Translation]

In conclusion, Mr. Chair, I want to thank the senators who have debated this bill already, and I look forward to your questions as we discuss how we can best protect Canadians in our digital world.

[English]

Ladies and gentlemen, as you all know, the PIPEDA legislation is due for a review. This has been discussed many times in the past. We have taken due consideration.

In a moment of confession, we have learned from previous legislation we have put forward as a government and some of the debate that has stirred, and we have come back with legislation we think addresses the concerns raised in the past — Bill C-30 in a previous Parliament. We think this is a reasonable proposal that has the best interests of Canadians at heart and will certainly go a very long way to modernizing PIPEDA to ensure Canadians' privacy is protected online.

Thank you very much.

[Translation]

The Chair: Thank you, minister. The Committee on Transport and Communications is pleased that this bill has come from the Senate and is delighted to have the opportunity to study it as quickly as possible.

Several years ago, Senator Housakos and I issued a report entitled Plan for a Digital Canada, which I recommend to you as light reading for this evening, if you wish. It was the first entirely digital report. We did not publish it; we launched it on the Internet.

[English]

Mr. Moore: You assassinated no trees.

The Chair: We were trying to protect trees, but many trees died at the other end of the printing machines.

Senator Plett: I have a couple of questions. How will the target advertising be affected? For example, what personal information, either from a user's Gmail account or user's search history, will Google be able to collect and use for personal advertising? Let us take medical history, for example; I have whatever type of disease and Google targets certain medication to my account. How will this deal with that?

Mr. Moore: Directly, it does not. This is about when you choose to engage in an online transaction with a firm like Amazon or Target, for example. Your personal information — your home address, your email address, your cell number, your credit card information — when you choose to give that to them, if there is a data breach, if that information is stolen, or they think it has been stolen, they have to report to you and the Privacy Commissioner that that information may have been compromised or shared in a way that you did not agree to when you clicked the "Agree" box when you surrendered that information to the company.

With regard to Google and the way in which they accumulate their big data and in order to farm out their capacity to sell ads to have certain search results on their search engines, frankly, that's up to you as a user. That's not contained within the context of this legislation.

Senator Plett: But if Google uses that information without my agreement, is that not part of this legislation?

Mr. Moore: No, not directly as part of this legislation. You know how search engines work. They recognize who you are as a user. You can go on to Google as an anonymous user, but if you are registered and logged in with your Gmail account, and you see in the top right-hand corner that you are logged in through your Gmail account, so they know it's Don Plett — DonPlett@whatever your email is at Gmail.com — and then when you do subsequent Internet searches, they collect that data.

If you go into the privacy sections of their search engine, they disclose to you that when you do searches they are going to know what it is that you're looking for. Some people like that, by the way. They want that and they are comfortable with that, because Google then can offer you services that you may not know about and they can provide you with that information. The degree to which people are comfortable with that is obviously a source of ongoing debate about people who use those kind of search engines, who use Facebook, who use Twitter, and who use others who are mining that kind of data so they can offer that service to advertisers who are looking to find out what kind of people are searching for information that's associated with their products.

The degree to which you are comfortable with that is the degree to which you can choose or not choose to use Google searches through a logged-in account.

Senator Plett: I understand that, and I think you alluded to the fact that we have tried to bring in legislation a couple of times; C-29 and C-12 are what I have here. What are the major differences and what sparked the changes?

Mr. Moore: This one we consulted, frankly, the Privacy Commissioner, and the Privacy Commissioner's approach and recommendations on this legislation were certainly brought to bear. There were those who had concerns about the way in which the previous legislation was brought forward, and the way in which we have brought this forward after having consulted more effectively is something that has been well received.

The one element that we've brought in that I think was really important was one that Alice Wong, the Minister of State for Seniors, pushed for and has been well received by seniors' organizations across the country is the provision that I talked about that allows for the protection of information by those Canadians who are often vulnerable to theft — identity theft, fraud, financial abuse, elder abuse — and allowing someone to act on their behalf and to disclose information to share for the purpose of their protection. That's a new element of this legislation that wasn't in previous versions, and we think that it's a meaningful reform that will be well received by Canadians.

The Chair: The critic of the bill, Senator Furey, welcome to the Transport and Telecommunications Committee.

Senator Furey: Thank you, minister, to you and your officials for coming this evening.

Minister, you indicated, rightly so, that if an organization has a data breach and its customers' personal information is stolen or lost, it's mandatory for the company to disclose. There is an exception, as you know, in the bill, subclause 10.1(6), where there is a criminal investigation.

Once a breach is made, even if there is a criminal investigation pending or about to start, an individual is still at extreme risk of not knowing that their personal data has been breached. Should there not be at least some time constraints put into that in terms of when the company has to disclose to the individual?

Mr. Moore: This is obviously an evolving part of the law. When an investigation is being undertaken, no information can be sought without warrant. That was part of the concern that was raised in the context of the debate in the past. No information can be sought in terms of a criminal investigation without warrant. But to disclose to somebody that they are under criminal investigation, to allow them the opportunity to destroy information, is legally problematic.

Senator Furey: Yes, I certainly agree there is a problem there, but we all know that criminal investigations can and do often take long periods of time and don't always end up with successful prosecutions. So innocent individuals could have their data breached and could be at risk for extended periods of time if we don't put in some sort of constraint there, don't you think?

Mr. Moore: But not without warrant. I would assume that in the context of the provision of a warrant that time limits could be put in place. I'm not sure, Lawrence, if you want to speak to the criminal aspect of the warrant.

Lawrence Hanson, Assistant Deputy Minister, Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications, Industry Canada: The instances where the law enforcement agency would ask that the breach not be revealed would be very unique and specific circumstances. Usually it would be if there is an ongoing criminal investigation. There are a large percentage of data breaches that are caused by or perpetrated by organized crime. These would be essentially situations where law enforcement becomes aware of the breach; in fact, probably even before the organization itself is aware. In that instance, it is obviously not a situation where it would be allowed to be ongoing for a lengthy period and putting individuals' data at risk.

Even so, I should add, if people's data is breached, even if they are notified immediately, the reality is that they still have the capacity to seek relief, just the mere fact that their data was breached, even if the notification were immediate.

Senator Furey: In R. v. Telus, the Supreme Court of Canada told us that a general warrant wasn't enough to seek out specific information. But under PIPEDA now, the telecoms can actually release information at their own discretion without warrants. Do you think that should be rectified?

Mr. Hanson: The existing provisions of PIPEDA do allow voluntary disclosure to law enforcement without a warrant, but there are a couple of really important things to note. First of all, it is voluntary; they are not compelled to do that. Second, the types of information that law enforcement could request would have to identify their lawful authority to request it, and they would be receiving what we would call basic subscriber information.

This basically ties into the charter and the reasonable expectation of privacy. In the sense of basic subscriber data, that could be obtained without a warrant. I would distinguish that from something more intrusive like transmission data or about an electronic intercept, for example, which would require a warrant.

Mr. Moore: And increasingly it is a concern, is it not, though, that telecom firms are being chastised for not being adequately open about their disclosures, which is why the disclosure agreements that you sign when you sign a cell phone contract provide for the opportunity for them to disclose that information because of the liability questions.

Senator Furey: Do we know if any of the telecoms are already providing data requests without warrants?

Mr. Moore: That would be for them to disclose, but certainly legally within the context of their contracts they would be breaking the law if they were disclosing information that they were not permitted to do within the context of their contract with their client, but no information is sought without warrant.

[Translation]

Senator Verner: Good evening, minister, and good evening, gentlemen. I would like to go back to the sharing of personal information between two private organizations. What would happen in a hypothetical case in which two life and health insurance companies exchanged documents?

I am thinking, for example, of an individual's medical information. Hypothetically, in the case of a client who had made fraudulent claims or something of that nature, one might think that such sharing could perhaps affect that sector. How could an individual's health information, which is highly sensitive, be protected?

Mr. Moore: That involves the sector in the sense that, if the information is shared accidentally or as a result of a criminal act, those who provided the information must definitely be contacted. The ability to protect information improves with every generation of new technology, with every new generation of services. However, threats also grow in proportion to our everyday use.

As a result of this bill, when you sign an agreement with a company and provide it with personal information, it must obtain your consent and permission once again to share that information if it enters into an agreement with another company.

If it shares that information without your consent, or if the information is stolen in a cyber attack, for example, it must inform you of that fact to give you an opportunity to protect yourself by changing your password or your PIN or in other ways. That is what we are doing.

Senator Verner: I was thinking more about consent, about the sharing of information between two private companies without consent. Earlier you explained that, in cases in which fraud might be suspected, two private organizations could share information on an individual without his or her consent for security reasons. I was extending that to life and health insurance companies. How do we make sure that does not happen?

I understand that two private companies may share information in cases involving fraud, in very specific cases, but how can we make sure that information on an individual's health or sensitive information of that kind is not exchanged between insurance companies, for example?

Mr. Moore: When you give your information to any company, if it shares that information without your consent, without abiding by the contractual rules, that represents a breach of contract. The act gives you the means to protect yourself. Here we are talking about someone who takes that information and violates your privacy. People should have the opportunity to be informed about what has happened and to be able to take action.

It is impossible for the government to get involved in every disclosure of information concerning everyone. We are trying to put a mandatory accountability system in place so that organizations are responsible for the information they manage and for informing their clients in case of any attack or other event.

Senator Verner: In another connection, as you know, the acting Privacy Commissioner appeared before us a few weeks ago and said that 1.2 million requests that had been made to telecommunications businesses had been forwarded to the government. She expressed the wish that organizations be required to do the following, and I quote:

. . .publicly report on the number of disclosures they make to law enforcement under the paragraph, without knowledge or consent, and without judicial warrant, in order to shed light on the frequency and use of this extraordinary exception.

Ultimately, we are realizing that this recommendation was not considered in Bill S-4. Is that correct?

Mr. Moore: We thought it was beyond the scope of this bill. I told Ms. Bernier and others that we were prepared to consider amendments to the bill. Other proposals were made that did not concern the bill, but we can definitely consider other changes if they are appropriate.

Senator Verner: The Privacy Commissioner will have major responsibilities. The killer question, as they say, is whether there will be enough funding for the new person who has to manage that?

Mr. Moore: The NDP previously introduced a bill in the House of Commons on this same subject in order to obtain more powers, but no mention was made of the funding necessary. The commissioner was in favour of the bill, of the new rules we have here, but new funding had not been requested when I spoke with Ms. Bernier. What we are doing is establishing the capacity and rules necessary to strengthen relationships between organizations and individuals. The idea is not to involve the commissioner in every one of those 1.2 million disclosures but rather to establish protective rules that make sense.

Senator Verner: Thank you very much.

[English]

Senator Eggleton: Thank you, minister. Let me get back to this question of court warrants for just a minute. The concern that's being expressed there is that while you say that no company can be forced to give the information, it could be voluntarily given and the person may not know about this. It's hard for them to challenge it if they don't know that, in fact, this information has been given to law enforcement authorities.

Mr. Moore: Sorry, do you want to take another run at that one?

Senator Eggleton: I'm just trying to understand the question of whether court warrants are required or not. There could be cases where court warrants aren't used.

Mr. Moore: Well, if you agree to a contract, for example, with a telecommunications company, and as part of that contract you can surrender some of your capacity to have your information shared under certain circumstances, that can exist in a number of contractual situations, but that's an individual signing a contract and agreeing to that openness in the case of a criminal investigation.

Equally, I don't think it's fair to have telecommunications companies sitting in a position without that legal agreement between themselves and their clients, where they would be accused of not being in cooperation with criminal investigations in the circumstance where people are trafficking in illegal credit card information, or who are involved in cyberterrorism, or espionage, or what have you. That capacity to have the information shared only with the contractual consent of their clients or with a warrant in those two circumstances is what is currently provided in law.

Senator Eggleton: So by clicking on the "Agree" box, they could be, in effect, agreeing at that point in time to that kind of information being provided, even though they may not be aware of that's what they've agreed to?

Mr. Moore: Sure, and that's part of the discussion right now. This is an evolving universe. There are a lot of people who are prepared to offer that reassurance, knowing they aren't going to be involved in any criminal activity, so they can facilitate these kinds of things. Certainly, there are firms that offer these things who want to make sure there is this clear relationship. This relationship exists in other aspects of the world, but it's just catching up to the digital world as well.

Senator Eggleton: I agree with you; it's an evolving universe. I think in that regard it's also important to have parliamentary oversight.

When PIPEDA was first put in place, there was to be a review every five years, and I think there was a review in 2007, but there hasn't been one since then. This is perhaps something that needs to be corrected to make sure that we can keep up with the changes in the universe and that Parliament can keep on top of this issue.

Mr. Moore: Quite right, and here I am, doing my best.

But you're quite right. When we did the Copyright Modernization Act, and I think I may have been before this or another committee with a similar mandate, we wrote into that legislation as well, the copyright legislation, which I know is always a fight because it's often a zero-sum game when dealing with IP law. There are often governments, ours included, who find it a struggle to find the right balance, certainly, in a minority Parliament and the pressures associated with that, to arrive at the right balance. So we put in place in the Copyright Modernization Act a mandatory five-year review of the legislation so that politicians, regardless of their political willingness, are forced to maintain the best possible IP regime.

That is the case with PIPEDA as well. There is a five-year review. The review was done. We brought forward legislation. The legislation that we brought forward had its criticisms and, in honesty, had its flaws, which I think we've addressed in this legislation, which is why the Privacy Commissioner has offered her support for a number of the initiatives, even though she thinks the there are other things that we should do that we're prepared to do as well.

Senator Eggleton: When will the next review start?

Mr. Moore: That's a good question. I suppose on passage of the new regime. Look, we don't wait five years for a review. It is equally true with IP law; you don't wait for it. You have changes in IP law that happen as a consequence of the Canada-Europe free trade agreement, which happened as a result of legal decisions, shared agreements or new technology.

Senator Eggleton: I know you review. I'm just talking about a parliamentary oversight, a parliamentary review.

Mr. Moore: This parliamentary committee or any other parliamentary committee can choose to study it, critique it and offer suggestions on it at any time of the day.

Senator Housakos: Thank you, minister, for being with us this evening and obviously digital technology is evolving ever so quickly. It might have taken a bit of time to get this piece of legislation out, but it's a good piece of legislation and the Privacy Commissioner has supported it. I suspect you've gotten positive feedback from many stakeholders across the country as well.

I was wondering if you could share with this committee, though, any provincial legislation similar in nature. I believe two provinces have similar legislation and agencies of their own that police privacy matters. I'm wondering if you can inform the committee and explain the overlap between the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, this piece of legislation, PIPEDA and the existing legislation that might be in place right now in other provinces, and which one would supersede the other?

Mr. Hanson: You are right. There are provinces that have similar legislation in place: Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec. In fact, in some ways the amendments being proposed in this bill are bringing it more into line with some of those other provincial pieces of legislation.

Essentially what happens where there is a provincial piece of legislation is that legislation prevails in those provinces. However, because PIPEDA also relates to federally regulated industries, such as transportation, communications, airlines, et cetera, it would have the application in that regard across the country.

Senator Housakos: This is my last question. I know this piece of legislation applies to private sector companies and there are different privacy acts that are responsible for government agencies, Crown corporations, and provincial government agencies, but you might have certain instances where there's difficulty in categorizing them.

Right now, you have private clinics in Quebec that are working directly with hospitals that are almost exclusively serving public hospital institutions in the province of Quebec, but they're private entities. There are semi-private school boards in the province of Quebec that are funded partially by the province and the curriculum is determined by the province. Where would those institutions fall? Would they fall under this piece of legislation or under government agency requirements?

Mr. Moore: I think it would depend on the circumstance. For example, if I'm a contractor in British Columbia and I hurt my back, I was getting physiotherapy and I went through WorkSafeBC. Now, if you have an accident on the job site, you're insured through WorkSafeBC and getting treatment from a private sector clinic through a government agency that may be shared partially from the federal government or the provincial government.

I think if there was a dispute over information that may have been shared without consent or a data breach because of failed equipment, failed passwords or a cyberattack, you'd have to get some good legal advice. It would depend on who spilled the information and whose obligation it was. If it was a private organization, such as the person giving you physiotherapy, it's a private organization. If it was WorkSafeBC, which is a government organization, then it's government-to-citizen relationship, which is the Privacy Act. A citizen-to-citizen relationship, through an institution or individual, is PIPEDA or the prevailing provincial legislation.

The Chair: I don't know if Senator Furey wants to give advice, but he's the next one to ask the questions.

Senator Furey: Absolutely not.

Mr. Hanson, I want to go back to the issue of voluntary disclosure. Under PIPEDA, telecoms that voluntarily provide police with data basically have immunity from any recourse by people who are affected by it. Do you think that should change? Do you think there should be stricter guidelines put in there to ensure that telecoms don't take it upon themselves to suddenly become a new police organization?

Mr. Moore: You can ask him his opinion, because I ask him for his fearless advice all the time.

Mr. Hanson: As opposed to an opinion, I will just say that it is legitimate in and outside of PIPEDA for people to cooperate with police investigations, as long as they do so in a lawful manner. In a sense, PIPEDA or these provisions are not unique in that regard. It has to do with the general ability of people to cooperate in a lawful way.

In the instance of PIPEDA, because of the type of information provided in a pre-warrant phase, such as basic subscriber information, it would be consistent with privacy expectations and therefore it's not really putting telecoms, for example, in some unique position in terms of police investigations.

Mr. Moore: What's also true in that context not only for big telecoms — because I know that's frankly the media obsession right now — but even for small organizations that bring in a lot of information, you think about databases for philanthropic organizations as well. As part of this legislation, we also suggest that those organizations looking for advice can voluntary come to the Privacy Commissioner and understand how best to comply with the law. We're proactively reaching out; we're not setting up a wall and mandating that they comply. That's a recommendation the Privacy Commissioner asked us to implement that was missing from previous legislation.

Senator Furey: The only thing I'm grappling with in that regard, in response to Mr. Hanson, is that these telecoms are in such a powerful position in terms of the access they have to so much critical and personal information. When they have immunity, there's going to be a temptation, I'm sure, for some of them to view themselves as the protectors of all that's good and holy and right, and probably turn themselves into police organizations. I say that because of the immunity aspect the bill gives to these telecoms when they release that information.

Mr. Hanson: I should note that this particular bill does not reference immunity issues surrounding the telecoms. There are issues of immunity in Bill C-13, which has certain linkages to this bill, but this bill does not create new immunity provisions for a telecommunications firm.

Senator Furey: I was referring actually to PIPEDA.

I have one last question, minister. You indicated, and rightly so, that this is an evolving area of the law and a number of attempts have been made to get us to where we are today with S-4, which has many good things in it. I agree with you. This bill preceded your government; this goes back to early 2000. We now know it has taken many years to get where we are and to try to improve it.

Would you agree that adding a mandatory review every three or five years might be a good thing to ensure that the bill is actually reviewed at a specific time to raise people's confidence that it is doing exactly what we think it's going to do?

Mr. Moore: There is a mandatory five-year review, but five years to me seems frankly like an arbitrary number. I would encourage this committee, and even the house committee, to consider it within the context of their mandate to have an ongoing, open conversation at the committee to address these issues as they arise either through court challenges or new emerging provincial legislation that might challenge us to be more aggressive or thoughtful in how we choose to do these things. I think that would be entirely within the scope. The flexibility of parliamentary committees to have those kinds of inquiries is perfectly appropriate.

Senator Furey: Thank you.

Senator Plett: Minister, I want to come back to the question I asked earlier. Now, either I was given wrong information or I didn't ask the question properly; it's one or the other. I want to make sure that I understand this.

We were told very clearly by people whom I thought were in the know that Google, for example, cannot collect information with regard to health issues. They can collect information with regard to cars and this and that; if I have an interest in buying Ford cars, then they can target me on that. However, they cannot ask me whether I have certain health issues such that drug companies could target me in their advertising on their websites.

You said that was not part of the legislation, so I didn't ask it correctly. I want you to at least explain that to me, because we were told by officials that clearly this bill changed those rules.

John Knubley, Deputy Minister, Industry Canada: There is the case involving Google, which involved a fellow who had an apnea problem —

Senator Plett: Right. Exactly.

Mr. Knubley: Then he discovered later that, as a result of Google being aware of that, he was suddenly receiving all sorts of —

Senator Plett: And I had forgotten the case, but that's it.

Mr. Knubley: — all sorts of advertisements.

One area where we have strengthened the ability to deal with this kind of issue is by giving the Privacy Commissioner abilities to name and shame companies like Google in this kind of instance. Previously, the Privacy Commissioner had no real recourse. Now, under this legislation, he has the ability to identify these issues and work with a company like Google to address these issues.

Mr. Moore: And this is part of the grey area of privacy; whereas "privacy" may have been breached in the sense that if you're doing a Google search on sleep apnea, you're not really comfortable with the fact that people know that you have sleep apnea — or whatever the health condition — is it criminal that they have now shared that with a pharmaceutical company that might offer you Breathe Right nasal strips or what have you?

Is that a breach of privacy? Yes, I suppose, if you did not know that was happening. You may have agreed to do that if you clicked the "agree" box and maybe the user needs to be informed, but maybe Google needs to inform you better that's the kind of information they are harvesting and farming out in order to gain some revenue.

It's not a criminal breach, so it would not necessarily be a problem with PIPEDA and require a legal recourse, but it could be something that the Privacy Commissioner would want to look into and name and shame. This is the grey area of privacy breach — it's in the eye of the beholder — but it's problematic. The commissioner can look into it, hear what the user and Google have to say, do an investigation, and have an open conversation about what is discovered. As a consequence of that, it could tell the government to do something legislatively; it could tell Google to do something administratively; or it could lead to nothing.

Senator Plett: If the Privacy Commissioner says that they have breached my privacy and Google says they have not, can they challenge the Privacy Commissioner in some way?

Mr. Moore: You could have legal recourse; for every data breach, you could have up to a $100,000 fine; there could be a name and shame provision that could be invoked by the Privacy Commissioner; or, if it's a unique circumstance that would tell the government there is inadequate sanction against this kind of behaviour, then it's something that the government could consider in legislation. Also, firms themselves could offer a remedy that would hopefully satisfy those who are not comfortable with that kind of information being circulated.

Mr. Knubley: In addition, under this legislation, the Privacy Commissioner would now have the ability to negotiate what is called a "compliance agreement" with Google or a similar company. This would be a voluntary agreement between the two. Once it is agreed upon, this would be a binding arrangement that could be enforced in the courts.

Mr. Moore: Keeping in mind this grey area of, for example, Google searches, meta-data, big data and how this information is used, it's an interesting world. I know that Senator Furey has talked a lot about this and others have written about it. We live in this world where people put pictures of their meals on Twitter and tell the world about how their child has said their first word. We voluntarily just push all of this personal information out online, and then we are surprised when some of it comes back to us in the form of an advertisement.

It is a grey area, I suppose, and there is some social learning that's going to go along with this digital world as it presents itself. But a lot of these firms which, by the way, are doing very well, have many people who are quite comfortable with surrendering certain kinds of information that you might consider private and that you don't want the world to know, but others consider it private information they are comfortable with Google knowing. Google, for example, puts it out there and they have preferential returns on search engine hits, so you get information and you might be thankful that you're presented with that information.

To me, the question here has to be in the hands of the consumer. Consent has to be provided. When consent is not provided and there has been a breach, there has to be some kind of a sanction. People always have to be able to return to a position of comfort in engaging digital technology.

Not all of this can be found in legislation. A lot of this will be found through the ongoing evolution of people's interactions with technology and the world. Some will be found through court decisions. We think the powers we are putting here in the hands of the Privacy Commissioner to be what the office is supposed to be — which is an arbiter or a filter, if you will, on some of these questions — is the reasonable next step.

Senator MacDonald: I have to say this is a great leap forward. It's very difficult to chase technology. It's a race that never stops, and it seems to be rapidly accelerating.

You did mention the $100,000 fines. I want to go to the areas of fines. The $100,000 fines for indictable offences — I just want some clarification for what they should be. There's $10,000 for offences punishable on summary conviction.

Clause 24 of the bill, which modifies section 28 of PIPEDA, provides that "[e]very organization that knowingly contravenes" the new sections requiring organizations to record and report breaches of security safeguards "or that obstructs the Commissioner . . . in the investigation of a complaint" will be liable for these fines.

I'm just curious how are these caps arrived at. Do you think they will be sufficient and help with the enforcement of PIPEDA?

Mr. Moore: Time will tell. It's not just the breaches, but also the destroying of information, not keeping information, or avoiding any discovery, as well.

Lawrence may want to speak to how that would apply.

Mr. Hanson: Sure. It's important to distinguish between a contravention of the act and an offence. When we are talking about an offence and these $100,000 fines, these are not for people who have accidentally lost somebody's data or something; this involves fairly deliberate actions. A breach has occurred and they have taken a deliberate decision not to inform, or they have made an attempt to cover up or destroy the records. They are fairly active attempts to sort of circumvent the law.

The actual fine levels are consistent with the existing fines that are already in PIPEDA. There were offences in the existing law that involved, for example, attempts by a company to go after a whistle-blower in relation to privacy violations, or if somebody came and asked to see their records, a company had destroyed them.

So the fine levels for the new offences in the new bill are consistent with the fines in the existing PIPEDA.

In terms of whether they are a deterrent, as the minister indicated, it's per offence. If you fail to inform 100 people, those could run into meaningful fines, obviously.

Senator MacDonald: I just want to make the comment that I do believe a company like Google could pay a lot of $10,000 fines and it wouldn't have a lot of impact on its bottom line.

[Translation]

The Chair: Thank you for being here, minister. Before letting you go, I would like to inform the senators that we will continue our study of this bill next week by hearing from two panels of witnesses on Tuesday morning.

[English]

We'll have the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Canadian Bar Association. Then we'll have the Credit Union Central of Canada and the Canadian Bankers Association. On Wednesday night, we'll have the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada on one panel, followed by the Canadian Marketing Association and the Marketing and Research Association.

Thank you again, minister.

[Translation]

(The committee resumed.)

The Chair: In the second part of this meeting, we will continue our study of Bill C-31, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures.

The committee has been asked to conduct a pre-study of divisions 15, 16 and 28. We are now examining division 28, which enacts the New Bridge for the St. Lawrence Act, respecting the construction and operation of a new bridge in Montreal, to replace the Champlain Bridge and the Nuns' Island Bridge.

We have with us two former House of Commons colleagues, Caroline St-Hilaire, Mayor of the City of Longueuil, and the Honourable Denis Coderre, Mayor of the City of Montreal. I am very pleased to welcome you both. I would ask you please to make your presentations.

The Honourable Denis Coderre, P.C., Mayor, City of Montreal: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I am feeling very emotional because I am here with people I have not seen in a long time. You know our style, and you know that we are very clear in what we say. So we will be saving time.

I am here as Mayor of Montreal and as Chairman of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. The reason why Caroline and I are here is to give you the message that there is a consensus among the stakeholders on the Champlain Bridge situation. We hope that, with your comments, question and answers, we can make you understand why it is important for there to be no tolls on the Champlain Bridge. Thank you once again.

This bill is very important for our cities, the entire metropolitan area, for Quebec and, in fact, for Canada as a whole. This bridge is in critical condition. We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to keep it upright. We will have a new bridge in 2018. What is important here is that it is not just a new bridge, but rather a bridge to replace another bridge, a bridge that was poorly built.

If it were a new piece of infrastructure, like the Autoroute 25 Bridge, where there are toll booths, we might understand, because there is an alternative. In this case, however, this is an existing bridge that was poorly built. Why reinstall toll booths? We will be citing the same reasons as were given for removing them in 1990. That is the extremely important message we are passing on.

I often hear it said in the backrooms and the media, "You know, it isn't up to the Gaspé Peninsula or Vancouver to pay for that bridge."

[English]

Well, I am sorry, because it's a bridge that touches base with the overall economy of Canada. It's not just a bridge that exists for Quebec. It has a major impact for our own economy.

[Translation]

When people talk about the St. Lawrence Seaway, they do so in a slightly offhand manner. I find that odd because they also talk about it from the standpoint of taxpayers. The bridge will cost between $3 billion and $5 billion, they say, as though $2 billion was peanuts. One of the reasons why it is so expensive is that there is something lying beneath it called the St. Lawrence Seaway. When you say "St. Lawrence Seaway," you are talking about an enormous economic impact that will hit not only Montreal, a port city, but will also extend to the Great Lakes. There will be an economic impact on Ontario. Since we have the Champlain Bridge, the busiest bridge — I have already read your proceedings — you can see that it is not just the busiest bridge, but that it is also an essential piece of infrastructure for the economy and one that extends to the United States.

It cannot be considered a local bridge, a bridge between two river banks. I was a minister and member in Ottawa for 16 years. This country was built on sharing. When we invested, and rightly so, in public transit in Ontario, and with pride in the Vancouver Olympics, we did not question whether that would be serving certain sectors as opposed to others. They were important investments for the quality of life and the economy of the country as a whole.

Today, we have come to tell you that we agree with the PPP, which means public-private partnership, but which also means that there should be no tolls at all. We want to make that very clear today. If you want us to work on these terms to protect the country's economy, it is important that we work on this level.

Now I will hand the floor over to my colleague, Caroline, and then we will be prepared to answer your questions.

Caroline St-Hilaire, May, City of Longueuil: Thank you, Mr. Chair. As my colleague said, we are here to tell you that the metropolitan area is unanimous on the tolls issue. I also want to say that the Champlain Bridge replacement project must fit into the overall vision of mobility in the metropolitan area, not the reverse.

We also think that, after many months of work, we must stick to our metropolitan land use and development plan. We also think it is up to metropolitan area representatives to decide whether to introduce a toll system across the region for the good and simple reason that it will have an impact on traffic.

Transport Canada said that introducing a toll system would cause 30,000 vehicles and 2,500 trucks to migrate daily, and that means every day, to other links to the South Shore. Quebec's Department of Transport said that that migration would go according to two scenarios based on the amount of the toll.

If a $3 toll were introduced, for example, traffic volume would rise by 25 per cent on the Victoria Bridge, 13 per cent on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and 8 per cent in the Louis-Hippolyte-Lafontaine Tunnel and on the Mercier Bridge. With a $5.60 toll, 60 per cent of those same users would not use the Champlain Bridge. That toll would divert traffic by the following proportions: 50 per cent more on the Victoria Bridge and 23 per cent more on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. I want to emphasize that because there are four bridges in my South Shore area. This will therefore have a significant impact, and we are concerned about it.

The reserve capacity of all other bridges combined is only 3,600 vehicles, which is less than the capacity of a single lane over a three-hour period. The situation is even worse in the afternoons, with the reserve estimated at only 2,700 vehicles. Yes, this means there will be significant traffic impact if you institute tolls.

Current Champlain Bridge users will avoid the bridge, definitely change their habits and take other bridges and roads. The addition of so many heavy-duty trucks on other bridges will definitely cause our road infrastructure to deteriorate. As you can guess, it is the people on the South Shore who will have to pay for those detours.

For example, if you have never come to Longueuil — perhaps the senator from Montérégie has previously passed through our region — the following roads would be seriously affected. Virtually all of them lead to a bridge. All the roads at the foot of Jacques-Cartier Bridge are already congested. As you will see if you come and look around, the situation is already hellish.

The flood of motorists wanting to avoid the tolls on the Champlain Bridge will further congest the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, where the entrance to the metro is located, the only metro station in Longueuil, which transports 21,000 people morning and evening. Access to the Victoria Bridge via Route 112 will be even more complicated, and Jacques-Cartier, Mortagne and Montarville boulevards approaching the tunnel will also be very busy.

As Mr. Coderre said, all this recurring congestion represents very significant costs to society as a whole. The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal estimates that economic losses due to traffic congestion amount to $1.4 billion a year. That does not include the financial impact the tolls will have on our citizens.

For example, a toll of $2 or $3, as is the case on Autoroute 30 and for the Autoroute 25 Bridge, will amount to $5 a day and $25 a week, which means $1,000 a year. That is a large amount for the middle-class citizens of the South Shore. For South Shore people living near the bridge, making a detour via the Victoria or Jacques-Cartier Bridge to avoid the toll is not an option. So that will have an impact on the length of their commute to work. The Government of Quebec has also come out against the toll. The entire metropolitan area, as I said, represents 82 municipalities. That is half of Quebec. It is not nothing.

In short, Champlain is a bridge that is in the public interest of Canada. It was so before its critical condition made its urgent replacement necessary, and it should continue to be paid for by all Canadian taxpayers. We understand that you wanted to pass this bill quickly because the bridge is rapidly deteriorating, and significant funding has been invested to make certain repairs, but we do not think that is a reason to impose a toll unilaterally without considering its impact.

I repeat, we are very concerned. There will be a congestion problem on our infrastructure and in our region. All the South Shore bridges are already at capacity, and there is no longer any reserve capacity.

We also sincerely wonder whether the South Shore people who are paying for this existing infrastructure with their taxes will not be paying a second time when they pay a toll. That concerns us as well. I would like to remind you that the people of the South Shore are not always nasty suburbanites. They contribute to Montreal's economic development, they contribute to Canada's economic development, and we would like them to be considered as such and not to have to pay a surtax every morning when they go to work.

The City of Montreal and the City of Longueuil agree, more often than not, with the statement that the Champlain Bridge works to Canada's general advantage and that it is in a state of emergency. The decision-making process must be simplified and facilitated in order to speed up the work, but we do not want tolls to be imposed on a bridge that replaces an existing bridge. I want to make this clear: no services are being added for our citizens.

The federal government, which owns the bridge for the general benefit of Canada, must reverse its decision to charge a toll on a replacement bridge. The Champlain Bridge is not a local bridge. As Mr. Coderre said, it is in the public interest, and we think it is up to everyone to contribute to it.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: The good thing about that is that it was clear.

Senator Housakos: Mr. Coderre and Ms. St-Hilaire, welcome and thank you for your testimony.

Mr. Coderre, you are the Mayor of Montreal, but you confirmed that you also wore another hat —

Mr. Coderre: Yes.

Senator Housakos: — that of Chairman of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, the CMM, which represents all the municipalities of Montreal, Laval, Longueuil and the North and South Shore communities.

In 2012, you did some metropolitan transport planning and development work and conducted consultations with a view to funding public transit infrastructure investments in the order of $14 billion.

Before continuing with my comments, I propose that the report entitled Étude sur la tarification routière pour la région métropolitaine de Montréal, which is a report that was prepared for the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, be submitted to the clerk and filed as evidence.

During those consultations, the CMM issued a news release on February 5, 2013 stating that 68 briefs had been submitted in favour of establishing a metropolitan toll. Why are you telling us today that the toll is not a good option for funding transportation infrastructure?

I have in my hand the joint CMM-CIRANO study, the item I have tabled, on road pricing for the metropolitan Montreal area, dated June 2013. On pages 19 and 20, it states that, in its transportation plan, the CMM has given priority to $14.6 billion in investments between now and 2021. The table on page 20 includes an amount of $1.5 billion for the LRT, the light-rail transit system that the City of Montreal and the City of Longueuil have also established as a priority. The study recommends the metropolitan portion of that investment, of which the light-rail system is a part.

If it is acceptable to finance the light-rail system by means of a toll, why would it not be so for the purpose of financing its structure? At the bottom of page 3, the report reads, "It appears that the recommended communications strategy for the toll is to wait for the right moment and to communicate with the public in order to make the toll project socially acceptable."

I do not understand your opposition to the toll, when all your authorities — the CMM, cities, transit corporations and community organizations — were in favour of a metropolitan toll less than a year ago.

Is it part of a strategy to say that you oppose what is being proposed by the federal government, which wants to impose a metropolitan toll? Is that ultimately your true intention, Mr. Coderre?

The Chair: Before I hand the floor over to Mr. Coderre, since the document is in French only and cannot be distributed, we may refer to it, but, as you will understand, we will wait as long as possible before appending it and debating it to ensure we have an English version of it.

I rarely defend that idea in this way.

[English]

It's more likely to happen the other way, where the document will be in English only and not be tabled in French. I'm sure that Senator Greene would be happy to have an English version.

[Translation]

I merely wanted to clarify the situation, Mr. Mayor.

Mr. Coderre: I was in that situation for 16 years, and I had to make sure my speeches were bilingual.

The Chair: Having been in caucus with you, I am anxious to see how they have translated the expression "pas de péage pantoute." We will see that in the transcript.

Mr. Coderre: I could write a book on some of the expressions I have used over the years.

Senator Housakos, something important and major happened on November 3 last. It is called an election, and now there is a new administration.

I think that the message is clear that there is a difference between infrastructure and public transit. There is a bridge that was poorly constructed. That is not the issue for any of the federal parties. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in it because it is falling down. Ultimately, inspections have gradually been conducted, and they have warned us that the situation is urgent. It was even supposed to be done in 2021; now it is scheduled for 2018, and I hope they redouble their efforts.

So there is a minor distinction between public transit and infrastructure. It is not because a previous administration issued some report — and, incidentally, it was about the way public transit should be financed; there is a real distinction between public transit and the role the federal government should play because this issue involves a bridge corporation that belongs to the federal government. The bridge was poorly built. If it were a new bridge, I would agree, but this is a replacement bridge.

So the distinction is very important because, in what I am hearing from your questions and what I have heard from the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Harper, the same points are always made: this is a local bridge; why should we invest in it since it only affects Quebec? It is important to draw distinctions.

We will ultimately be asking ourselves some questions about public transit. And you should pass this message on to the government, please, since you are on the government side: we are very eagerly awaiting the signing of the MOU on infrastructure between the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada because it will also contain elements that will ultimately be important in determining how to fund certain programs, for example.

Consequently, Mr. Housakos, I would respectfully ask you not to confuse matters. Ultimately, yes, we should invest more in public transit. At the CMM, under our administration, because Ms. St-Hilaire has a lot to do with this, we are currently redefining the way we plan transportation governance and funding. This is a matter that concerns the municipalities. I was a member of Parliament and minister for quite a long time, and when matters concern the Government of Canada and the government has done its job poorly, it has a responsibility toward citizens, who are also taxpayers. That is why we are ultimately saying that we may be from a different school of thought but that the Canadian government has a duty to invest and rebuild that bridge, which was poorly built, and it is not up to the people of the South Shore or the North Shore or Montreal to pay for it. We already pay taxes, and we are proud to pay taxes, because we live in a society in which we all said that sharing was important. We have chosen that society, and that means investing, investing in infrastructure, and it is the government's role to do that.

The Chair: Ms. St-Hilaire?

Ms. St-Hilaire: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Unlike Mr. Coderre, I was there in February 2013. At the time, the provincial government asked us in the municipal sphere to do our homework on the sources of funding that we would need to do all the work, particularly the light-rail system and the eastern train. We were asked whether we could find the courage of our ambitions and sit down together, the entire municipal sphere, to determine how we could go about raising the money, because neither the cities nor governments ever have money, and, ultimately, it is always the municipality that has to go and raise it. What we did at the time with all the metropolitan community partners was determine a financial framework. It amounted to approximately $5 billion. There were a lot of projects everywhere, and no one at the time was talking about being for or against a toll. People were more in favour of a metropolitan toll. However, as Mr. Coderre said, that was a debate we could conduct at home, internally, amongst ourselves, all from a perspective of increasing the supply of public transit.

What we are being told today, by the federal government, is that not only will it not add infrastructure or improve public transit, but that it will also increase the toll for our citizens. Consequently, that is where this is becoming a little incoherent. I simply wanted to give you a little context.

Senator Housakos: With all due respect, I do not agree that the new bridge is a replacement bridge. It is a new bridge. Some things are being added, such as the light-rail system, and we are looking at other transit-related options. We are increasing the number of cars using the bridge. This is not quite a replacement bridge. It is a new bridge, which includes all the options that we are examining.

The other question I have, Mr. Coderre, as a Montreal citizen and taxpayer, is that several administrations have shared the opinion, and I also share it as a Montreal taxpayer, that the Island of Montreal has for years welcomed outsiders from everywhere, from the North Shore, from the South Shore, people who come on to the Island of Montreal, who use our infrastructure and do not pay for it. They enter the city every day, work there, live there, use and benefit from Montreal's infrastructure and leave and return to Saint-Eustache and Longueuil, and Montreal is unable to ask those people whether they would be prepared to share the costs for that great city

What is your perspective on that question?

Mr. Coderre: Senator Housakos, once again, with all due respect, as a Montrealer, you must be able to see that Caroline is not an outsider to me. She is part of greater Montreal. I am not fighting Sainte-Julie, Longueuil, Laval or Sainte-Thérèse; I am fighting Madrid, Boston, New York — especially New York right now, and we are going to win in seven. That just came out of my mouth, Senator Demers; I promised my son I would talk about hockey this evening.

On a more serious note, the municipalities' financial framework on governance and operations is one thing. Today the message we are sending is that we are a metropolitan area. We speak as a metropolitan area. It is easy to divide and conquer and to try to cause squabbles among the municipalities, but I regret to inform you that there will be none because we speak with one and the same voice. We must invest more in ourselves. You witnessed the former administrations in Montreal, and you saw that there were infrastructure problems. We have invested over the past 10 years, and we have to do things differently. We brought in the inspector general. We have done a lot of things, and we are going to invest and invest in ourselves.

However, today's debate is not about wondering whether people from the north or south shores are outsiders who ultimately take advantage of Montreal's infrastructure. They are part of what I call the national treasure, the global heritage, as a result of which Montreal, the metropolitan area as a whole, as a great region, has international outreach. If people who live in Longueuil come and work in Montreal, both regions benefit. The issue in today's debate should be whether we are talking about a new bridge because this is a bridge that is falling down and should be replaced.

The other problem, Senator Housakos, is this. I live near the Pie-IX Bridge. If a toll booth is set up on Champlain — but you are part of the federal government — are you going to put one on the Mercier half? Are you going to put one on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge? Because, yes, it is true, there are congestion problems, but we have to get out too. We pay on both sides. So that is a major problem. Studies have been conducted on that: if you start putting toll booths everywhere because of a piece of infrastructure, you will create a doughnut-hole effect that will have an impact. And I am speaking as a Montrealer on that point. If you want to ensure that we protect Montreal's economy, you do not want people to think that things are too complicated in the Montreal area and that they should go elsewhere, to another province. Not only will there be an economic impact on eastern Canada, there will also be an impact on Montreal and the Montreal region.

So be careful. This is a not a political game; this is not a sound bite that we are putting out there to see who can get on the news this evening. It is a vision for society. We want to provide greater sustainable development, a response to the congestion and a better quality of life, and have a major impact in the areas of sustainable development and public transit. Let us take advantage of this infrastructure that we will be rebuilding to adjust accordingly because we did it poorly at the time. Unlike the infrastructure that exists and that, once finished, was in many cases 20 years late — I am talking about Metropolitan Boulevard — for once, we are going to try to build a bridge that lasts 125 years. If the Romans built some bridges that have lasted 2,000 years, we should be able to build a few that can stand for 125 years. Do we have to pay for them twice? No, because we have a responsibility, not just toward taxpayers, but as a government. When we have infrastructure in our hands, our duty is to ensure that we can give people a high quality of life, and that also requires infrastructure.

I would make the same speech for Cornwall and Saint John, New Brunswick. We fought hard enough to ensure there would be a sharing. In all cases, all we are asking — this is not a matter of fair shares; it is a matter of saying that the Government of Canada has a responsibility, and that responsibility quite simply does not call for a toll.

The Chair: Ms. St-Hilaire?

Ms. St-Hilaire: It has all been very well said, but what I am reading between the lines of your speech is that, once again, the 450 is disturbing the peace in Montreal.

I like to hear what the mayor of Montreal says; he views us as partners. If people cross bridges and take the metro to go to work every morning, we should be pleased about that rather than hear the line that we are outsiders.

I had to think before I said that because I do not like to feel I am an outsider in Montreal. Instead I like to think that, when I go and work in Montreal, I am contributing as a citizen or a worker. I think you have to see the matter more in overall terms than as being solely in the interest of Montreal, or instead of taking a short-sighted view.

When I am asked to pay the Montreal metro system's deficit, do you think all the citizens of Longueuil have always taken the Montreal metro? No, but they are paying the metro's deficit because the Montreal metro is part of the metropolitan infrastructure and they are pleased to have access to it.

There has been a metro station in my area for 45 years. So I do not think I have abused the public transit system. When I am told that I am now an outsider and have to pay more for infrastructure that should have lasted 100 years but that, since it was poorly maintained, lasted only 45 years, pardon me, but I do not feel I am the outsider.

[English]

Senator Greene: One of your key arguments is that the Champlain Bridge should be a bridge for all of Canada; it's part of the network that connects us all together. I have some sympathy for that argument, and it's an interesting one.

I'm sure you would agree that the Trans-Canada Highway is an artery that connects us from coast to coast, but in Nova Scotia, the part of the Trans-Canada Highway that connects New Brunswick with Nova Scotia has tolls, and it is a vital part of the network.

In light of the idea that it wouldn't be difficult to find other examples like that right across the country, isn't your argument a little lightweight in that regard?

Mr. Coderre: You made a choice in Halifax. Respectfully, as a Quebecer — as a Montrealer — I was pleased to see the federal government invest in a Canadian highway. As a matter of fact, I was a member of the cabinet and I voted for it. It's important, because when we created the infrastructure program in 1993, it was not only to make the people work, but it was to ease the quality of life of people because we know that basic infrastructure is important.

I know one thing: If I were there to replace something that had been badly done in the first place, I would have said, "Let's redo it."

I'm always hearing the argument that it is lightweight, saying that it's a local bridge and it's only between two shores. My Canada is not divisive; my Canada is to make sure all Canadian citizens are united. That's why we have a health care system and all that. To say it's not for Gaspé or Vancouver to pay for Halifax, I'm sure one of your greatest mayors, Mike Savage, would agree.

Senator Greene: He's a good mayor.

Mr. Coderre: He is. You're from Montreal, too. Don't forget to support the Habs.

The reality is this: We have to understand the facts and the wording. We must agree on the vocabulary, because it's important; because there's strength to the words. Then we will be able to understand what school of thought we are from.

If a province decides to have dedicated funds afterwards to take care of their highways, that's one thing. We are there as a federal government to facilitate when we have one third, one third and one third from the infrastructure program. We're talking now about two bridges that belong to the federal government. I don't know what it will be in the future, but the reality now is that they belong to the federal government and its duty is to make sure it stands, for security and for the economy.

Because we believe it's not a local bridge and because we believe that bridge is of high importance on the global economy, we don't have to put a toll there.

Senator Greene: Like I say, the Trans-Canada Highway is not a local road, either, and yet it has tolls on it.

Mr. Coderre: No. We pay for it, too, and we're pleased.

Senator Greene: You paid for some of it.

Mr. Coderre: Of course.

Senator Greene: Another issue you raised is that the tolls proposed are like a new tax. In Halifax, we have two bridges, also, and both are tolled. They've always been tolled, but the tolls have risen over time. So that is like a new tax, in a sense, just like you've explained.

How different are the bridges, then, in Nova Scotia from the one being proposed in Montreal in terms of the tax issue?

Mr. Coderre: Are you talking, for example, about the Confederation Bridge?

Senator Greene: No. I'm talking about the bridges that go from Halifax to Dartmouth.

Mr. Coderre: Does that bridge belong to the federal government?

Senator Greene: Two bridges, both tolled.

Mr. Coderre: Does that bridge belong to the federal government?

Senator Greene: They don't.

Mr. Coderre: That's my point. The provincial government makes its public policy.

That's why the wording is so important, senator, respectfully. I will go even further. We have one from Highway 25. We built up a totally new bridge there. We had some alternatives, because we had some free bridges around it, and because it was a private-public partnership, they put a toll there. But people have a choice to take it, because it's an alternative bridge. So that is okay.

For Highway 30, it's the same thing; they have an alternative. But now we're talking about the Champlain Bridge. The Champlain Bridge —

Senator Greene: But there is an alternative to the Champlain Bridge. There is the Victoria Bridge or the tunnel. Those are alternatives.

Mr. Coderre: Let me finish. If you put a toll there, people will go somewhere else. If they go somewhere else, there will be more traffic and it have an impact on other bridges. The alternative is "Do we want to pay or not?" If there was a totally new bridge, maybe you would have an argument, but now we're replacing a bridge that already exists and the alternative to a free bridge is another free bridge, meaning no toll.

If not, they're going to go to Jacques-Cartier Bridge. You know Montreal; you're from there. You take Jacques-Cartier, Mercier and Victoria, and "she's going to be stuck with the puck" because she's from the shore where everybody will be caught in traffic.

Senator Greene: You've raised a good issue, because one of the things that make tolls work is that they provide alternatives, because it is important to provide people with a choice. In Halifax, people can choose not to go on the bridges but to drive all the way around the Bedford Basin instead. In the case of the toll on the Trans-Canada Highway in Nova Scotia, people can choose to go the old route, which is a lot longer and not as safe.

In the case of the Champlain Bridge, there are alternatives. Will they take them? In Halifax, they do not go all the way around. They use the toll bridge, because they're better and faster.

Mr. Coderre: The issue is not this. There are two issues here.

First, why would I take a toll when, in the election of 1988, the Conservative government rightfully made a promise, because there was only one toll bridge that existed, because we had fights in the past with several highways. The only one that remained was the Champlain Bridge, and they pulled the plug. Why? Because of all those problems.

Now, we're talking about replacing a bridge that already exists, and you want to put it back. It's like when you pull toothpaste out of the tube and try to put it back. You will have some issues there.

All I'm saying is that the definition of "alternative" means from a free bridge to another. If we are creating new highways or new bridges, if people want to take them, they will — exactly like Highway 25. That's a bridge that belongs to the federal government. That's a bridge that has to be redone because of security, et cetera. You had in the last budget $600 million for the next two years to make it stand.

Senator, we might agree to disagree, but I truly believe that even people in Halifax will agree with me that, when the time has come to share and it's for all Canadian businesses, that bridge belongs to all Canadians.

Senator Eggleton: Well, I may be biased, but I enjoy listening to mayors. There's one exception; it's in my own city, but I won't get into that one.

Mr. Coderre: I've heard they miss you in Toronto.

Senator Eggleton: The reason I enjoy listening to you is because I think you've made a compelling argument. This is a replacement. It's not an additional bridge. If the Conservative government in 1990 took off the tolls because it felt it was no longer warranted to do that, then I think the replacement, because the bridge obviously wasn't well built as we've explored already in this committee is what it is — a replacement.

You've made a fair comment of there being no tolls in that respect, but also Mayor St-Hilaire has also outlined the traffic conditions. A change in the traffic patterns going into these different bridges will have a profound effect on your cities and transportation planning. I think you have made compelling arguments.

Putting aside the toll for a moment let me ask about the planning of this bridge. It will also create a fair bit of disruption in your communities. Are you being consulted on that? Is there an adequate mechanism or framework going through this period of time in constructing it to deal with it?

Mr. Coderre: To be honest, we have good relationships with Minister Label. We can talk to each other, and he is as close as his phone. The problem, though, is within the process. At one point you're saying that this is a bridge that belongs to the federal government — he's saying that, himself — so it's up to them to take care of it.

I would suggest, respectfully, when you put up the mitigation process — and it is not just the bridge, it is when you attach it to Highway 10 or 15 and there's some future urban boulevard — it will be important in the decision-making process that we're not just there to hear it on the news or receive the memo one day before that we should be more involved in the decision-making process, but that we should be part of it.

It's not just based on the bridge. As a matter of fact, we're saying the same thing to the government of Quebec, because at the end of the day, we are the closest government to the people, and it's important that we all work together. It's going to create some messes, and we know we will have traffic jams. At the same time, we are changing the Échangeur Turcot so there will be a lot of jobs there.

The reason why we're here and we're pleased is to send a message to the government that it's not a confrontation tonight. This is a partnership. We can agree to disagree on a certain level, but that's why we are here. We are talking about the proper wording so people understand that we're on the same level.

At the same time, we want to be full partners. We don't believe in the toll. We believe in partnership. We believe in a decision-making process that can be mutual. We are there as full partners, and we are ready to do so. We're using this opportunity to send a message to Canadians, the thousands of people who are watching us tonight, plus the media, who say "Hey, listen, maybe they are living in a bubble in Ottawa."

It is important to talk about the proper wording, that it is not a local bridge, and that it belongs to all Canadians. It has a major impact on the economy and, for the overall, too, there will not only be issues in the South Shore and some of our boroughs, but to make sure that we can avoid and we are working in prevention, that we should all be together in the decision-making process.

Senator Eggleton: A lot of people are also watching the Blue Jays game tonight. I thought I would get that little plug in since you got your plug in.

Mr. Coderre: I even applaud them.

Senator Eggleton: You know what? There are enough Montrealers and Quebecers around this table to pass your no-toll motion.

Mr. Coderre: I'm not sure about Senator Greene, though.

[Translation]

Senator Demers: You answered the first question concerning the use of the other bridges. People will use other bridges because of the toll.

Mr. Coderre, you just mentioned Minister Lebel. He also said you two communicated well. Shortly after announcing your departure from federal politics, you said in a radio interview that Mr. Lebel had delivered on this file. Could you tell us more about that?

Mr. Coderre: What I liked about Denis — I can call him Denis because we have known each other for quite a long time — was that he listened. If you have Transport Canada officials, they are always the same regardless of the government in power. They can tend to hang on. So we shared a certain amount of concern.

When I was a member of Parliament, my last position was as transport and infrastructure critic. We asked a lot of questions on this subject. It makes no sense not to have a bridge until 2021. It would be preferable if we could complete it in 2018 and move this file forward.

We profoundly disagree. I understand the minister. There is ministerial solidarity: no toll, no bridge. However, if the bridge does not work, will you not do it because we do not want a toll? That makes no sense.

Communication between us is nevertheless very good. When the time comes, we talk to each other as necessary. I congratulated the minister because we won the push to get a bridge in 2018. The toll issue is so important that it is not even in the PPP contract. It is the Canadian government's responsibility.

We are in politics. If changing the date from 2021 to 2018 is a political matter, I ask that it also be a political matter in the good sense of that term. As a trainer, when you have worked for Coca-Cola, and as a senator, you have been a person close to the people. You have already taken the bridge. You know its importance. It is therefore important to think about citizens.

When we talk about toll booths, we are also taking about injustice. Everyone will pay. However, these people are already paying income taxes. Consequently, what we are saying to Minister Lebel is that we can get along with each other and work together. Set the toll booths aside; that is not an issue. Then we will discuss financing for public transit in order to find a way.

You must have noticed that there is a new partnership, a new municipal voice in Quebec. We all work together. That was true under Ms. Marois' government, and it is still true under Mr. Couillard's government. We have that stability and we are able to work together.

Mr. Harper is the Prime Minister of all Canadians, and Mr. Lebel is his worthy representative. We are asking him to listen. We are not alone. The two of us are not alone. There is the Association des camionneurs and everyone. You can quote from a few editorials that will say the contrary, but the reality on the ground is that people understand the importance of not installing tolls booths on this bridge.

Ms. St-Hilaire: We do cooperate well. Many of us applauded when Mr. Lebel announced that the Champlain Bridge would be replaced and that he was going to bring the construction forward. However, you have to remember why he is bringing it forward. A lot of investments must be made to repair the bridge, and the situation is urgent.

However, now that we have applauded this initiative, it is as though we were paying to speed up the work. Since matters are moving forward very quickly, they think we should put in toll booths and make people pay. That is where I stopped applauding.

I represent people who say they are happy about the new bridge because it had to be done and that is a good decision. Now we are paying twice, and this situation leaves us a little uncomfortable.

We enjoy very good cooperation, and Mr. Lebel was aware of that when the bridge had to be closed. When you, as a government, decide to close the bridge in order to install a super beam, we have to address that deficiency. We have to increase the number of buses and respond to citizens. It is quite rare for us to call the federal member because the bus has not passed by. Usually, we contact the mayor or the councillor. The impact for us is real.

Mr. Lebel worked with us because, as soon as he closed the bridge and had to make adjustments, he understood that he could not avoid us in the municipal world since it was up to us to provide the service. I believe that is entirely to his credit.

If there is one issue that people talk to me about every day at home it is the toll, and there is a consensus on it among our citizens.

Senator Demers: Ms. St-Hilaire, you talked about the fact that Ms. Verner went to your city. The Demers family goes there regularly.

Ms. St-Hilaire: Is that true?

Senator Demers: Unfortunately, we own a lot in your cemetery and we go and play golf in your area. You have a beautiful city.

[English]

Senator MacDonald: Thank you to both of you. I go to Montreal quite often. I think we have a lot of in common, Mr. Coderre. I'm a big Expo fan. I went to Montreal in late March, and there were over 50,000 people there on a Saturday afternoon. It was great to be there. The Expos were always my team, not the Blue Jays. Anyway, I used to go to Montreal on a regular basis from Nova Scotia. I would always stay in Longueuil, usually at the Sandman, and took the Métro over. It took me about 20 minutes to get over there to be in my seat with a couple of beers in my hand. I always paid for the metro when I went.

You mentioned the taxpayers and how much people are taxed, and one thing Nova Scotians and Quebecers have in common is that we are the most heavily taxed people in the country, both of us. We pay tolls. About 40 per cent of the population of Nova Scotia is around Halifax-Dartmouth. We have paid tolls on those bridges for 50 or 60 years. I don't think it's a matter of taxpayers paying for public infrastructure. I believe in user pay. It's a philosophical difference here, but I strongly believe in user pay.

You mentioned that the federal government must assume its financial responsibility and build this bridge. Well, we're going to assume the financial responsibility to build this bridge, but we're going to toll it to pay for it. I fundamentally believe in that approach, whether it's in Nova Scotia, Quebec or British Columbia. When it comes to large, public infrastructure of this nature, I think users should pay. Instead of running away from it, it's a philosophy we should be embracing in this country because in the long run we are going to serve the taxpayers better.

You mentioned the congestion in the Longueuil area. Well, I believe this gives you the opportunity to rationalize the way you use all new infrastructure around Montreal and those bridges. You could structure it the way you want it to. You have people more able to look at it than I am, but you could structure a whole new tolling system, from small tolls to large tolls, to direct traffic the way you want to in different parts of the day, parts of the week or parts of the month. I think this is the time to step up and do something creative.

Montreal has great infrastructure challenges; we know that, not just with this one bridge, but there has been all kinds of news about Montreal in the past 20 years with problems with roadways and things of that nature. This is the time to show some leadership in this area. I fully believe that tolls are the way to go, and I believe you should look at this as an opportunity to restructure the way you manage the infrastructure around Montreal.

I also think it's inevitable. This bridge will be built, but this bridge will be tolled, and I think you should come to grips with that. I want to see Montreal grow and prosper. In the Canada I was born into, Montreal was the greatest city in Canada. I want it to be the greatest city in Canada again. There are different ways of measuring it.

Mr. Coderre: Senator MacDonald, I have a lot of respect for what you're saying, but I disagree with you and I will tell you one reason.

First of all, if we have to redefine the way that we administrate as a metropolis — so I'm talking about the community here — and if we have to build up some financial framework as to how we pay for the future of public transit, it's not by coming here and insisting that with a toll booth as a start that we will accomplish anything.

Second, I would like to ask the federal government, then, to explain to me why it's between $3 billion and $5 billion, because $2 billion is not peanuts. Give us the financial plan, the business plan.

Of that money that will be spent, how much money will be returned to the national treasury in taxes and income? I am sorry, but that $3 billion to $5 billion it will come back kind of in a jiffy to the federal government's pocket. So we have to be careful. You're not giving us a gift by saying, "Oh, we're giving you a bridge for $3 billion to $5 billion." No, it is an infrastructure that will have a major impact on the future economy because of la Voie Maritime du Saint-Laurent, the St. Lawrence Seaway, because of the bridge itself that helps not only Ontario or the Great Lakes but also Eastern Canada. The return on investment on that bridge is huge.

By the way, I just announced $18 billion for the next 10 years in infrastructure, so we are doing our homework. She is doing her homework because it's her second mandate, and she is doing a hell of a great job. The difference now is that we are all talking as one voice and, because we are talking as one voice, we are strong. We might decide among ourselves how to define and how to finance — and we're there, as a matter of fact — through governance, administration and funding, but it's up to us.

Besides that, don't divert the debate here. The debate is: Whom does that bridge belong to? What are we going to do with it? How do we fund it? We might agree to disagree, but how do we fund it, and what are the responsibilities and the duties of the taxpayer and the federal government regarding that infrastructure?

Senator MacDonald: Well, I have a couple of responses, I guess.

The first thing is that you were a member of the Chrétien government in 1993 and privatized all the airports in this country. These airports struggled for financing for years. They were under-serviced, they had bad infrastructure, and we privatized all these airports and gave them the authority to raise their own money.

Mr. Coderre: Sir, respectfully, there is an issue of relevance. Point of privilege. I'm here as the Mayor of Montreal. If you want to talk to me about what I have done as a minister, we can have a coffee any time over that during a baseball game, but I'm here as the Mayor of Montreal talking about the future of the Champlain Bridge. If you want to redo the history of my government, I can be a hell of a partisan guy, but I decided to be the Mayor of Montreal to all Montrealers. I'm not here for partisan's sake.

Senator MacDonald: I'm not talking about partisan stuff. I'm talking about a great move they made to privatize those airports.

The Chair: Senator MacDonald, we have eight minutes left, and we have Senator Hervieux-Payette and Senator Housakos.

Senator MacDonald: Give the infrastructure an opportunity to pay its own way.

I want to come back to this, then. On October 5, 2011, when you were interviewed about the new Champlain Bridge project, you said in the interview with the QMI Agency, and I quote: My objective will be to convince the government that the toll would not only be on the Champlain Bridge, but on all bridges.

That was your position then. Why has your position changed?

Mr. Coderre: Because the position at that time was not based on infrastructure. It was based on public transport eventually, and that's exactly what the CMM answered. My role was to make sure that we have an opportunity to decide what should be the future and how to fund — that's an issue. But when we are talking about just one bridge and though it has been done, we were stuck with that situation, and I'm not going to redo all my arguments now. So that's it.

[Translation]

Ms. St-Hilaire: Very quickly, I do not want to take too much of the time allotted to us. Since it was Mr. Lebel himself who said it, I imagine it will carry some weight: the Champlain Bridge also benefits the national economy and meets the objectives of the strategies of Canada's gateways. When the Minister of Transport comes and tells us that this is an important gateway, that this is an important economic issue for Canada, I like to think that it is a collective piece of infrastructure and that everyone has to pay for it.

Now, to answer the senator, with all due respect, when we debated the toll at the metropolitan community level, we had the courage to ask the Government of Quebec to introduce a gasoline tax precisely in order to increase the supply of public transit, but what the federal government has just told us today is that it is imposing tolls on existing infrastructure, and, as the bill says, it is a replacement bridge.

Ultimately, what you are telling us is that you have just imposed a toll and you are forcing us to do it everywhere, and soon, whereas we have already begun a process to review sources of financing. Consequently, we find ourselves somewhat stuck. Ultimately, we will have no choice but to do it. It is a unilateral decision, and that is where it gets quite uncomfortable.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: First, I would like to welcome and especially congratulate both mayors. I believe we are all proud of them both. We acknowledge that they are serving the community well. I live not far from the Victoria Bridge; I must say that I can walk to it and that I am now supervising construction of the bridge to Nuns' Island, or rather the bridge that will take us to the new Champlain Bridge. The work is obviously under way.

However, I know one thing, and that is that my mother used that bridge in 1920. How old are our other two bridges? When last I heard, the Jacques-Cartier and Victoria bridges were not new bridges. The Victoria Bridge is more than 100 years old.

Mr. Coderre: The Champlain Bridge is 48 years old, and the Jacques-Cartier Bridge a little older, 50 years.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Not only do I agree with the argument, but there is also a vested right here. We had a bridge; we are entitled to a bridge. The present bridge is falling down, and I must say that is not really a credit to Quebec engineering. We have recently had enough problems in that area, but we should realize that there were definitely deficiencies in the system when the bridge was built because it is unimaginable that it has not lasted longer. I think that, when you build a bridge that costs billions of dollars, you should expect it to last at least 70 or 75 years.

Does the Government of Quebec support your position?

Mr. Coderre: Completely.

Ms. St-Hilaire: Yes.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Then Mr. Couillard has sided with you. And if there was an addition — we are talking about regular traffic on the present bridge because Senator Housakos raised this question — if ever we wanted to add a public transit component, would the Government of Quebec be prepared to participate?

Mr. Coderre: We are getting back to the funding question. The Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal — this is a bit of a scoop — will be introducing a resolution on light-rail transit tomorrow. We had already said it, but now it will be done by means of a resolution. We on the Montreal municipal council did it unanimously yesterday, on Tuesday. We are pleased that this bridge will help us reorganize our public transit system.

The source of funding will be extremely important. It is important for us to know how to fund it. Now, you have announced two infrastructure programs: the $10 billion program under the Building Canada Fund and the $4 billion project granted on merit. First of all, what does "on merit" mean? What I understand is that we deserve it. These are structural economic development projects. I believe we have proved to you that this is important in economic development terms. And if we represent 25 per cent of the population, we can quite quickly give you a rule of three: put $1 billion aside and that will suit us. We will let the Governments of Quebec and Canada negotiate sources of funding, but we think this is a structural project that we must fund.

Mr. Poëti is a new minister. He is studying all the files and must consider everything that can be considered because of the deficit and so on. He has to make government decisions but he is definitely in favour of public transit, and we are helping him a little by telling him what we municipalities would like and want. We will see what happens, but I am very confident. The Government of Quebec listened to the municipalities. It took part in the conferences of the Union des municipalités du Québec. That was quite exceptional because it was a first for both the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the premier himself, who clearly announced that the municipalities are no longer creatures of the provinces but rather a community-based order of government.

Ms. St-Hilaire: So much so that we are entitled to come and speak to you today.

Mr. Coderre: We can even come and see you.

The Chair: If the members are in agreement, we could continue for a few more minutes.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I have one final question. Do we ultimately agree that, if we added another bridge instead of replacing the bridge, we could in fact consider a toll as in the case of the Autoroute 25 Bridge? And since this is an existing bridge, which is falling apart and which costs $500 million to $600 million a year in maintenance expenses so that we do not wind up in the river. . .

Mr. Coderre: That is an important distinction, senator, and I believe that is the message that should be sent. The distinction between the Autoroute 25 Bridge and the Pie-IX Bridge, for example, is that there is an alternative, because this is something that did not exist. Now we are replacing something that exists. That is where there can be differences between schools of thought, and I think it is important to note the distinction.

The Chair: I will let our deputy chair, Senator Housakos, ask the last question. Then I will allow the two mayors the final word.

Senator Housakos: Ms. St-Hilaire and Mr. Coderre, you have been very convincing this evening. The citizens of your region will obviously support your arguments. No one in the Montreal area will say no to a new bridge that is built, paid for and the cost of which will be shared by all Canadian citizens.

However, I can guarantee that you have a major challenge ahead, the challenge of convincing the citizens of Canada that we must pay billions of dollars for our own bridge in Montreal. It will even be a major challenge to convince your old political party, the Liberal Party, because I have yet to hear it state a clear position on the toll issue. Even from the NDP, which is politically very strong in the greater Montreal area, I have not heard a clear position on tolls. However, we can solve this problem quite quickly if there is a willingness on the part of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal to take over management of the Champlain Bridge and even the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.

Are you ready? I am sure we can convince the government to transfer the maintenance and management of the Champlain Bridge to the CMM, but the question is whether you are ready to take on that responsibility. If not, why not?

The Chair: I will let the mayors have the final word. Go ahead, Mr. Coderre.

Mr. Coderre: Thank you very much for the kind of debate we have had today; it was respectful and it was important to have it.

[English]

Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

[Translation]

Words are important. The challenge is to ensure that we cannot just convince you — because sometimes you are already convinced on a partisan basis before we speak to you — but also to convince those who will be hearing and seeing the arguments, to demonstrate in an inclusive manner that this bridge is not a new bridge but rather something that affects the Canadian economy as a whole. That is important and that is why we have come here today, because this bridge is important as a result of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the fact that the use of this bridge has a direct impact on the economy of eastern Canada. Nearly 1.8 million cars head toward the United States, as well as trucks and other vehicles. We cannot just say this is an issue between Montreal and Longueuil.

Second, I would say that it is not up to the CMM to manage bridges. Even in my time, we wanted to start negotiating with the Government of Quebec. When you look at the prices and the impact of that process, that is another reason to raise all kinds of questions about the scope of this infrastructure. I think we have to move ahead step by step.

First, the Canadian government must be able to shoulder its responsibilities. The government is the government of all Canadians. This is not about charity or an effort to please; it is a matter of responsibility. It is a matter of the return on investment that will have a direct impact not only on the quality of people's lives, on all Canadians, but also on the economy of a large part of the country. At certain times — and that is why we built this country — when events occur, such as when we invested in the automobile industry during the economic crisis in Ontario, we answer, "Present." When that has to be done for forest products, we answer, "Present." When action had to be taken for the Asia-Pacific gateway, we answered, "Present." We are not comparing battle scars here. We are not saying, "My father is stronger than yours." We live in a society that has developed a policy of sharing and of building infrastructure that will affect all Canadians.

I hope we have helped explain to you that that was the basic argument and that a minor act such as introducing a toll will have a major impact on both the quality of life of our people and the economy of this country. That is why we have come here today, to try to convince you of that fact, and I thank you.

Ms. St-Hilaire: I want to thank you for hearing the CMM's arguments and those of the South Shore.

You probably already have a lot of preconceived ideas, but, if ever you have room for creativity or are able to listen to what you are told, that is important. You have said, heard and repeated it: this is the busiest bridge in Canada. Consequently, it would be unfortunate for this to have an impact on our communities without you being aware of it. Thank you.

The Chair: Before the next meeting, we will circulate a report on Bill C-31, which will be discussed at our next meeting. Mr. Mayor, Madam Mayor, thank you very much for being here.

(The committee adjourned.)