House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, when a letter comes from a minister it is often as much what is not said as what is said that influences an outfit like the CRTC.

In 1976 the Minister for Public Works at that time telephoned a judge on behalf of the current Minister of Foreign Affairs. That minister offered his resignation voluntarily to the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Trudeau, refused to accept it.

Surely it is not Liberal tradition to interfere with judicial bodies and get away with it. Will the Prime Minister, if it is, break with that tradition, do the right thing and ask for the resignation of the Minister of Canadian Heritage?

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the member can pose his question to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister is not here. It is awfully hard for us to respond to allegations of things that were not said in letters that were not written.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

November 1st, 1994 / 2:55 p.m.

Liberal

David Iftody Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

There are growing concerns among the Canadian small business community about the sustained growth of the economy and third quarter results.

The small business community in particular now is undertaking long term investment and hiring decisions on the prospect of sustained growth. What assurances can the Minister of Finance give this House that the recovery is secure and under way?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for asking a question on the economy which is obviously of the greatest interest to Canadians, albeit clearly not of interest to the opposition.

Small and medium size businesses in the country are obviously very encouraged by the strong growth we enjoyed in the month of August, but it is also important to look at the details behind that growth.

The fact is that half the increase came in manufacturing. In fact manufacturing is up 8.7 per cent over the month of August last year. At the same time construction is up 7.7 per cent over a year ago. There is a clear revival as a result of the increase in the number of jobs and consumer confidence; retail sales are up.

One thing I am delighted to be able to say-and I congratulate the member for his question-is that we are clearly on the way to the strongest growth in the country since 1988.

Presence In The Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of our fellow parliamentarians who are here with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association: Mrs. Elizabeth Hubley of Prince Edward Island; the hon. Gérald Clavette of Newfoundland; the hon. Emery Barnes, Speaker of British Columbia; Anthony Whitford, MLA, Northwest Territories; Neil Reimer, Assistant Committee Clerk, B.C.; and Peter Doucette, Government Whip, P.E.I.

Presence In The Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-57, an act to implement the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

3 p.m.

Bloc

Nic Leblanc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a Quebecer and as the member of the Bloc Quebecois representing the riding of Longueuil, I am pleased to take part in this debate on the bill to implement the World Trade Organization Agreement. In my remarks, I will rely on my personal experience.

I worked in the business sector for 15 years. I owned a small business that employed about 25 people. I was also the president of a company in the wholesale business with some 30 employees and president of the Chamber of Commerce of the South Shore of Montreal, the third most important chamber of commerce in Quebec. During the same period, I sat as director on the board of a credit union. I say all that just to show that most business people in Quebec are deeply involved in their community, just as I was, and can be pressed for time.

It is sometimes difficult for them to deal with international matters. I am proud of my deep involvement in the business sector, because it is a marvellous and exciting sector. Business people are constantly looking for means to improve both management and productivity. It is a world of constant change and inventiveness.

As a businessman and a politician from Quebec, I am delighted at the new opportunities that will flow from the new GATT.

Business people, through trade, will also get to know each other better and probably become the best instrument for achieving a more lasting peace in the world. So the Uruguay Round and Bill C-57 are important steps, as I have just mentioned. Today, the globalization of markets creates important and increasing opportunities. Businesses have to be more and more efficient.

Businesses need a flexible and efficient framework regulating trade as well as credible dispute-settlement mechanisms. Businesses must be able to count on the co-operation of enlightened government partners as well as unions sensitive to the economy. Businesses need laws and rules adapted to this new environment.

The Uruguay Round negociations will lead to an increase in international trade. Some statistics put the increase at $750 billion over the next 10 years. The amount of money flowing from one country to another is potentially enormous on the international level. So we must carefully watch this increase in international trade. This will also bring about an increase in total wealth of some $200 billion.

Here also, people will be richer, they will be able to spend more and they will have a greater potential for doing so. With Bill C-57, which implements the accord in Canada and Quebec, what are the stakes for Quebec, what is the importance of trade for Quebec? Quebec has a long commercial tradition. The history of our people is marked by trade.

Fur, fish and softwood trade has been the backbone of our economic development for the last four centuries. Today, we still export softwood, newspaper, electricity, aluminum and communication services. The last thirty years have allowed Quebec to open to the world.

The increase of international trade in Quebec is important and, of course, we have established some bases in other countries. We have several offices in several major cities of the world, in the United States as well as in Europe. Even in Japan, we have trade commissioners, so that Quebec is remarkably open to the world, and we will continue to work in that direction.

Quebec is very open to the world. Here is an example that happened not too long ago. In 1988 the government had a free trade project with the United States. Quebec was one of the first to support free trade. Free trade was supported almost unani-

mously, certainly by the Quebec Liberal government, the Parti Quebecois and the vast majority of Quebecers.

Of course, at that time, federal Liberals were against free trade. Over time, they finally understood, but I can tell you that it was a never-ending battle, particularly during the 1988 election, which was mostly based on free trade. Unions were also against it because they were supporting the NDP. But now, they have changed and are starting to understand that free trade with the United States is a good thing, that world market liberalization is a good thing for most businesses.

Quebec also supported the latest agreement, NAFTA, between Canada, the United States and Mexico. Once again, that demonstrates that Quebecers are very open to world markets. I will now talk about Quebec's openness towards the coming of new partners in NAFTA. Quebec, a growing society, has become a partner which is credible, efficient and well respected not only in North America but also in Europe. More and more businessmen and businesswomen in Quebec are active in international trade. Quebec needs a legal framework in order to develop its export industry. International trade is a challenge for business people in Quebec. There are numerous and daily challenges in the business sector but international trade is even more demanding.

There are some aspects to be considered. First, the financial soundness of the company. Before considering the export related costs, we have to assess all the costs in terms of prospecting and distribution network. For instance, as far as foreign accounts receivable are concerned, we have to take into consideration customs clearance and exchange rates.

Second, the control of production costs. Can the production be done within the timeframe without altering services provided to local customers who bring in our daily bread and butter?

Third, staff qualifications. Is the staff fully qualified to meet the demand? In terms of foreign languages, legal and technical vocabulary, business networks, financial support agencies, market, traveling, etc., can we train current staff? Should we hire qualified staff or people abroad?

Fourth, the marketing instruments. Before investing in marketing activities, a company should get some information on the way of doing things in the country with which it intends to do business.

Fifth, the expectations of customers. Check if the product or the service you wish to export meets the expectations of our new customers. International trade is a complex matter, hence the importance of trade agreements and mechanisms necessary to their implementation.

The role of governments. International governments, the 108 governments party to the agreement must first establish a framework for international trade; negotiate trade agreements furthering the access to new markets as well as preserving harmony and balance; eliminate barriers to international trade. The Uruguay Round satisfies those requirements to a great extent.

Sixth, business support. I believe the government should keep a close eye on the performance of businesses, their needs and the different matters that I have already mentioned, for example a certain guarantee concerning accounts receivable. When you export, collecting bills can be a difficult thing. The government should establish some sort of guarantee. That already exists for larger companies but it becomes very difficult and costly for small business, small and medium-sized firms. Governments should create a fund that would guarantee accounts receivable for small and medium-sized firms wishing to export.

There is also the issue of loans for the promotion of our products. It is often very difficult for small firms who have excellent products to export them if they do not have the necessary cash flow and it is often difficult to obtain it from the banks. Measures should be taken to ensure provision of funds for the promotion of our products. These funds would not constitute a gift but would rather be a loan guaranteed by the government or by independent insurance companies or others. Such a fund should definitely be set up to promote our products on foreign markets.

There are also trade bureaus abroad that are dynamic and available, people who are very willing to help our small and medium-sized businesses wishing to export and to develop markets. Public servants often lack drive. There is a lot of diplomatic talk, but when the time comes to do business, it is considered inappropriate. But I believe that the best way to survive is to do business, especially in these very open markets. It will really be necessary to support our businesses, to at least give them the information they need about the culture and the economy of those countries, the way they do business, all kinds of information that is available to the staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs and that could be useful for small and medium-sized businesses.

Because it is important I want to focus on an area over which Quebec has been claiming exclusive control for a long time, manpower training. We shall have to really consult each other, to try to be as efficient as possible and to train highly advanced people in order to be able to produce, create, be productive, to have adequate manpower, etc.

This is a very important point. I read in L'actualité of September 15 an article I found interesting. I knew a little bit about it, because when I was chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology we toured Europe. I had been struck by the dynamism shown by the Germans in the area of training in

science and technology. Scientists I met there were utterly different from the scientists here; they acted like car salesmen. They were extremely energetic and, what is extraordinary, they had business acumen.

In the article I was mentioning, Sylvie Halpern writes: "A small town of 15,000 inhabitants can have its own technical school, provided there is some industry and specific needs for specialized manpower. The financing comes from the Lander, the 16 administrative regions of Germany".

In Germany, the regions are responsible for vocational training. The federal government does not tell the regions what they need in terms of training, they each look after the needs of their area. It is said that Quebec and Ottawa quarrel about that. I should have said at the start: "Here is a model that works, the German model".

This system has been in existence in Germany for a long time. They decentralized manpower training long ago, and they did it in a way which is more responsive to the needs of business.

Here is another interesting excerpt: "The strength of the German technical colleges resides in the fact that students come and go constantly". I must say that in the vocational schools, even in the schools of high technology, students share their time between the workplace and the classroom. They put to use what they learn and are much more capable and efficient when they get on the work market. This way, products are better, productivity is greater, etc.

It is also reported that: "Technical colleges are a new type of university focusing on practical abilities". That is what they do. The report says we simply must be more practical in what we teach instead of teaching vague notions, horizontally. We must be closer to businesses and focus more on their needs. It will be necessary.

It goes on to say: "About 800 industry professionals teach in these institutions". Their teachers are not people who know nothing of the industrial environment but only big principles learned in books. They are people who work in the industry and are well-acquainted with this environment.

What I mean is that manpower training must be managed by Quebec, by businesses and even by those regions with highly specialized sectors. This is the only way we will become truly productive and be able to meet the competition from other countries in a global economy. I support the opening of markets, but, at the same time, we must ensure that our labour force, be it technicians, managers or business owners, is adequately trained to compete on the world markets.

Germany is an excellent example of this. I even took the trouble to send a copy of this article to Mr. Garon, the new education minister in Quebec, for him to read.

It bears to be repeated. We will never repeat it enough because the federal government is so stubborn. We have been talking about it for the past 20 or 30 years, but during all that time we have been falling behind. That is why we have to repeat it again and again. I wonder if we will ever succeed. The federal government is so pig-headed and, as you know, it wants to keep its spending power all for itself so that it can tell Quebecers: "Look, if I had not been here, this would not have been possible". That is the idea, you see. This is not logical, this is not practical. This is not the right thing to do. But what the federal government is saying is this: "I want to impose my will. I want to prove that I am important. If I were not here, you would not be able to succeed". And herein lies the misconception.

Have I run out of time, Mr. Speaker? I feel as if I have only been speaking for ten minutes. I still had a lot of things to say. Anyway, I am very proud to have taken part in this debate.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine
Québec

Liberal

Patrick Gagnon Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I just heard the hon. member opposite talk about the stubbornness of the government of Canada and governmental services such as the FORD-Q, the Federal Business Development Bank, and the services responsible for promoting Canadian exports.

I would really like to know whether the federal government was stubborn when it came to providing assistance to Canadair, Bombardier, SNC Lavalin, when it came to providing assistance to Spar Aerospace in Montreal and Quebec pharmaceutical companies. Did they call it stubbornness on the part of the federal government when tens of thousands of jobs were created with the direct participation of the government of Canada?

Unfortunately, the hon. member takes a stand that completely ignores such accomplishments as well as the unconditional support of the Canadian government to Quebec businesses.

The member opposite talks about the qualifications of Quebec representatives abroad, but what does he think of the appointment of the former chairman of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste of Montreal, an ideologist who knows nothing about Quebec business, let alone about international affairs. You would call him a worthy representative of Quebec and Quebec business people abroad?

I know what I am talking about. I speak from experience. I have had the privilege of working in Japan myself on a number of occasions. To think that we, Quebecers, are represented by an ideologist from the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste of Montreal whose sole purpose for being there is to sell separatist propaganda instead of working to open up new channels of trade for Quebec businesses, I say it is time that we determine how useful

these Quebec offices abroad really are, when we are represented by the likes of Mr. Doyon, the former chairman of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste of Montreal.

With respect to education in Germany for example, one must remember that nothing prevented Quebec from training semi-skilled manpower because, as we know, education is a provincial jurisdiction. Quebec has had control over education matters for much more than 30 years; it has had it for 125 years.

So, nothing is preventing Quebec from setting up a real vocational training program that meets the needs of the people of Quebec and the challenges of the next century.

I would be curious to hear what the hon. member opposite has to say on these three subjects: first, the fact that the federal government has always participated and that many businesses in Quebec have benefited from its participation; second, the fact that I challenge the qualifications of the Quebec delegate general in Tokyo and, third, whether or not he recognizes that Quebec was never prevented from conducting its own in-house vocational training program.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Nic Leblanc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member talks about the subsidies received by Quebec businesses, I agree with him. However, he forgot to mention something I pointed out in my speech earlier, namely that the money received by Quebecers is the money they sent to Ottawa previously. It is not a gift from the federal government; that is the problem.

Federalists are always trying to make Quebecers believe that Quebec could not survive without the federal government. In fact, the money given to Quebec, whether it is the New Horizons Program for seniors, the old age pension or business subsidies, comes from Quebecers. Let us stop pretending that this money comes from the federal government, when it comes from the pockets of Quebec taxpayers. God knows how much we pay in taxes! God also knows how much is wasted because, while this money goes from Quebec to Ottawa and back to Quebec, perhaps 25, 30 or 40 per cent is lost through waste, inconsistency, etc. That is the first answer.

As for representatives abroad, I can say that the Government of Quebec is doing an excellent job. Four or five representatives in New York, Boston, Tokyo or elsewhere have already been replaced as it is quite normal for a government to be represented by people who share its vision and its business policy. Would the Liberal Party of Canada not replace its representatives if they did not share its vision? The Parti Quebecois is moving quickly and doing a very good job, and I do not see anything wrong with that.

As for the former President of Montreal's Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society, I know him personally. I can tell you that he is an exceptionally intelligent man. His vision is much wider than that just outlined by the hon. member for Gaspé, much wider than the hon. member thinks. If he has such a narrow view of people, I think that he has no place in this House. He shows flagrant disrespect for this person who devoted himself body and soul to protecting the French language in Quebec. He may not think French is important in Quebec but it is very important to us; we have great respect for this language and I think he should, too.

As far as training is concerned, there is no doubt that Quebec is responsible for training, but the federal government stubbornly continues to spend billions of dollars on manpower training. There will be a $2 billion UI surplus. Of course, the federal government will want to keep this money and then spend it in Quebec so that it can boast that it is doing Quebecers a favour. We know that this money is being spent in a disorderly fashion. It is spent with an efficiency rate of about 25 per cent. I am not saying that it is completely wasted, but spending on manpower training is about 25 per cent effective.

Very little really adequate training is going on for the money that is spent. The amounts are huge! Imagine if the federal government left this $2 billion with Quebecers or gave it to the Quebec Department of Education to create proper programs that are more focused on businesses that need better adjusted training. No, that is not what happens. Seventy-five per cent is wasted.

On Monday, I was in my Longueuil riding office and three people with manpower training problems were there to say that they were finishing high school and their aid was being cut. They were told that they were not entitled to assistance anymore and it was over.

That is crazy. I prefer not to talk about it. I am tired of it, because every week we have problems with this system. For a long time, Quebec has demanded control of manpower training. It is essential and Quebecers are unanimously for it. Everyone in Quebec-business people, labour, the Department of Education, the former Liberal government, the Parti Quebecois, the present government-demands it. The Bélanger-Campeau Commission also called for it, but the federal government is stubborn and nothing can be done about it.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Okanagan Centre will have the floor next. I might indicate to colleagues that after the member speaks, we will go to 10-minute speeches because we will have debated the matter for five hours.

However the hon. member for Okanagan Centre has the full 20 minutes.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to enter the debate on Bill C-57.

This bill supports the conclusions of the latest round of GATT, an agreement that provides a framework in which Canada and the rest of the free trading world can share in prosperity and put the world economy on a sound footing as it heads toward the 21st century.

For Canada, a country heavily dependent on trade, the GATT represents the world's commitment to a strong international trading system. GATT shows us that the world has the courage to co-operate, not hide behind destructive, protective measures and that it is able to find a trade dispute mechanism which can be agreed on, not only in principle but in the real world.

The GATT has created the World Trading Organization, a strong, effective, permanent institution which will oversee world trade policy and settle disputes between nations on a multilateral basis.

The GATT has strengthened trade rules on subsidies and countervailing duties. The GATT has achieved commitment from 120 participating countries to lower or eliminate tariffs or other barriers to trade. The GATT is multilateral. One hundred and forty-one partners in 21 countries came to these agreements. It is progress. It is prosperity.

But the GATT does something else, succinctly, clearly, loudly. It points out a glaring deficiency. It is easier for Canadians to trade with the world than it is for Canadians to trade with Canadians. While the world creates its own window of opportunity, the federal government and the provinces are still unable to make any real progress toward achieving the same.

Emphasis is put on the fact that one in five jobs are dependent on international trade and that 30 per cent of Canada's GDP is reliant on international trade. But what about the four jobs that rely on internal trade within Canada and the 70 per cent of GDP that still relies on a sound fiscal and monetary climate right here within our own boundaries?

It is like throwing salt in a wound to know that the textile industry can find more support in the GATT than it can at home. Canada's textile market is about to gain improved access to major developed trading partners including the European union and Japan. It is what the textile industry pushed for and it is what they got. But not here in Canada.

The same is true for 11 other sectors from wood to steel to agriculture. Everywhere in the world, but not here. This must change.

More than an avenue of tacit trade globally, the GATT has provided Canada the blueprint for success in breaking down internal trade barriers. Like the GATT, we must acknowledge that it takes the development of a strong, central body like the World Trade Organization to ensure a well engineered program.

In Canada we need a strong central federal government able to direct the provinces toward initiation of a multilateral, equally beneficial agreement among the provinces like the GATT. It is important to acknowledge that in large part the success of Canada in the GATT negotiations has been inspired by an industry driven agenda.

Industry knows what it needs to increase production and provide more jobs. The federal government must listen to it, as the world has, for industry's drive and confidence will give the provinces the incentive to want to trade with other provinces.

Like the GATT, we must seek to find a level playing field. We must encourage the internal trade market to expand so that the trading system does not operate solely for the benefit of a powerful few. We must create an environment in which all provinces will be encouraged to become key players. Each province must have the opportunity to access the Canadian market without fearing counter-protective measures or costly compromise.

The Minister of Industry has said again and again that we must ensure Canada's prosperity, that trade barriers are a question of economics, that we must liberalize trade in Canada. The minister says we are making progress in this direction, but I cannot agree. The urgency of this matter seems apparent to only a few. Otherwise the government and the provinces would be trying harder to come to an agreement.

The GATT agreement should give Canadians the confidence to reach an interim trade agreement and prove that the advantage lies in being less protective of our home markets, not more. Industry knows it, but government is slow to respond. Industry is anxious to develop a strong market inside the country, but it is being forced to rely more and more on what is outside. Why? Because the provinces have become so adept at their political agendas they have forgotten the initial agenda.

We do not act like a country. We act like jealous neighbours whose sole interest is to protect ourselves. By doing so we fail to see that we are divesting, not investing, in ourselves and creating limits to the markets we could access. Internal trade is about economic unity. Without it we do not progress, but are mired down on issues like sovereignty which only serve to divert our focus.

While we struggle with these secondary battles the rest of the world moves on and takes advantage of the global marketplace. While we bicker about organization and administration, we fail to consider strategy. We do not present ourselves to the world as Team Canada, but 12 small and separate countries.

The irony is that while we work so hard at being separate, we all bear the cost of those Canadians who are not given the opportunity to succeed. It is a sad commentary that we define ourselves as Canadians through our failures more than our successes.

We have failed at internal trade. Canadians are not good at it and it is an attitude that reflects much too often on the way we trade internationally. For all that Canada's international trade represents 30 per cent of our GDP, only 100 companies or so really represent that volume of trade. Perhaps industry would trade better and would take advantage of international opportunities if the governments of the country provided them with a safe environment in which to practice their trading abilities.

We must ask ourselves whether Canada can take advantage of the opportunity provided by this round of GATT. Can we provide a world market? Can we survive a world market and fully participate in it if we do not bind together and pull together as a whole? Can we find a way to work together so that issues of sovereignty do not jeopardize us in the eyes of the world monetary culture? Will we have the luxury of fighting our cultural battles if we do not establish a strong economic foundation first? Can we take full advantage of trade opportunities if we insist on being the sum of our parts and not the whole?

Some have suggested that the new era of global trade is making the necessity for internal trade barriers obsolete. Soon industry, they say, will lobby Geneva not Ottawa. Soon, they say also, nation states will gradually delegate their sovereignty to world trade organizations; but 70 per cent of our GDP says otherwise. Four out of five jobs say otherwise. It may be the future but we will not survive there in the future if we do not survive and master the present.

We require the federal government to pursue the breakdown of internal barriers with the same commitment it did in the GATT negotiations. It must do more to ensure Canadians work better together and enhance the opportunities of our internal trade market. If it does not, the government will be guilty of negligence both to the people and to the unity of this country. It is true that the divided are more vulnerable to failure but we have all the makings of a true economic union. It is time we saw the necessity to achieve it. We cannot drift on the premise that failure is far round the corner. It is not.

We need freer trade within the country. We need an agreement that will reflect all the valuable lessons that have been achieved in the GATT. We need to emphasize co-operation to create jobs and balance the budget. We need to bypass the political agendas for an industry driven agenda that will give all parts of the country equal access to opportunity. We need to respect that trade barriers are a question of economics and not issues of cultural protectionism. We need to lay more than a foundation, we have to break through the barriers and take advantage of a potentially profitable internal trade market. We need Canada to succeed at home as well as abroad.

One hundred and forty-one partners in 21 countries found a way. Surely 13 partners in one country can do the same.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois to discuss Bill C-57. This government bill, tabled by the Minister for International Trade, concerns the implementation of the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization.

Consequently, this legislation primarily aims to bring Canadian laws into conformity with the agreement signed by 117 GATT member countries, in Marrakesh, on April 15. The agreement marks the end of the Uruguay Round of negotiations, which started more than seven years ago. Bill C-57 confirms Canada's full participation in the World Trade Organization, which will replace GATT, as of next January.

It comes as no surprise that the Bloc Quebecois supports the signing of this agreement, as well as the bill tabled by the government. As you all know, Quebec has always been very open to the world. For many years now, Quebec governments have maintained economic, scientific and cultural links with several countries. Quebec has been aware of the global village reality for a long time already. Therefore, it is normal that the Bloc Quebecois be in favour of free trade.

In fact, you all remember that, during the 1988 federal election campaign, Quebecers were the strongest supporters of the Free Trade Agreement. More recently, we all remember as well that Quebecers greeted the coming into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, with maturity and confidence and, of all Canadians, Quebecers are still the strongest supporters of free trade.

On the other hand, just a few years ago, our Liberal colleagues, when they were in opposition, fought the fight of their lives against the free trade agreement. More recently, in the latest federal election, the red book said that the two free trade agreements were seriously flawed, referring to the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA. It said that a Liberal government would renegotiate them. The Liberal program went so far as to mention cancelling the trade agreements if the proposed changes were not made.

We are pleased to note that our colleagues have caught up with economic reality today and become fervent advocates of freer trade. But as they abandon their election promises, we warn the Liberal government that we in the Bloc Quebecois will insist that it keep its commitment to help businesses and workers affected by the trade treaties.

The red book is clear on this subject. I quote: "Governments must assist individuals and firms to deal with the restructuring that is occurring as a result of trade liberalization. Such assistance is critical to building acceptance of structural reforms in the Canadian economy".

The federal government must urgently meet its responsibility for the integration or reintegration of workers and companies affected by the adjustments necessary for the transformation of our economy. International competition will affect some industrial sectors more than others. The federal government must fulfil its commitments so that Quebec and Canada can move toward innovation and excellence.

We know that, on the whole, freer trade promotes economic growth and, in that sense, the agreement stands to make more winners than losers. It is estimated that increased exports and imports could translate, says the OECD, into potential gains of $270 billion US, with six or seven billion dollars going to Canada. Even then, the people of Quebec and Canada have to feel that the government is behind them, that it is implementing industrial reconversion measures to enable businesses to adjust to new realities and meet the challenges of the 21st century.

And we will not be the only ones to benefit from this more buoyant economy. The poorest countries of the planet as well as developing countries could also take advantage of this. Too many trade barriers have proven to be discriminatory in the past with respect to products that these countries are in the best position to produce and to export.

The North-South Institute recently pointed to a glaring contradiction between our foreign aid policies and trade barriers. For example, under the Multifibre Arrangement, Canada applies restrictions on textiles from Bangladesh. If Canada lifted these restrictions, the net gain to Bangladesh would amount to $370 million, or three times our government-to-government assistance.

I could quote many more examples of protectionism targeting disproportionately products from the Third World. We have only to think about anti-dumping measures, export subsidies and customs tariff increases. Under the new agreement, governments may no longer resort to these measures, which had a major negative impact on poor countries.

The measures adopted as part of the Uruguay Round should raise the net revenue of developing countries by about US$70 billion a year, which is equivalent to a 3 per cent increase in their export earnings. This exceeds the aid they now receive from other countries. However, as the OECD and the World Bank recently reminded us, the poorest region of the planet, sub-Saharan Africa, may well lose out after these agreements are signed. Canada and the other signatory countries will have to redouble their efforts to ensure that this region of the globe can also benefit from a richer world.

It will also be necessary in the next few years to check on the distribution of the wealth created in developing countries. Except for our humanitarian efforts, Canadian aid too often ended up helping our local businesses, propping up dictatorial regimes, making the wealthiest people in those countries even richer, or financing the purchase of military or paramilitary weapons.

The internationalization of trade, however irreversible it may seem, must not be restricted to northern countries. Trade practices towards developing countries must be redefined.

The new World Trade Organization will, we hope, deal with issues affecting not only the restructuring of rich economies but also the distribution of wealth as well as improved social and economic justice.

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3:50 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, as a western farmer it is a special privilege to have the opportunity to speak today to Bill C-57. This bill as has already been noted provides the legislation to follow through on Canada's commitment to participate in establishing the World Trade Organization. I am pleased to support this legislation.

For farmers who have struggled through many years of depressed grain prices caused by the grain subsidy war between the European Economic Community and the United States, the completion of the Uruguay round of the GATT negotiations last spring after more than seven years of seemingly endless negotiations was as welcome as the first spring rain.

While all of us recognize that this agreement is just another step toward the ongoing liberalization of international trade regulations and not the end of the process, we must not forget it is a very important step for Canada and the other signatory countries. As I have said Canadian grain producers in particular applaud this step because it at least brings the world a little closer to restoring some sanity to the international grain trade.

The establishment of the World Trade Organization as the successor to GATT is especially encouraging. For the first time against the powerful lobbying efforts of the European farmers the GATT negotiations included agriculture. The dispute settling mechanism and appeals process is a long awaited ray of hope for Canadian farmers. So much for the good news. Does this bill go far enough to eliminate the trade distorting inefficiencies in our agricultural sector?

My oldest daughter turned 16 today. I wonder what the future holds for her and other potential farmers. If she chooses to stay in agriculture, without restructuring our programs will she and other Canadian farmers be able to survive in the next century?

Although it is a good first step the Uruguay round just touches a fraction of the unfair subsidies our farmers face in the international marketplace. Bill C-57 amends 31 statutes toward the implementation of GATT. However it fails to achieve the spirit and the intent of GATT which is the elimination of trade distorting policies built over decades of government interference in the market.

What has this government done with the bill? Instead of a complete overhaul of the agriculture programs to create a truly internationally competitive industry, this government is doing the absolute minimum to be in compliance with GATT. It looks at GATT green programs but does not touch them even if they create a further distortion in our domestic market. It looks at the Western Grain Transportation Act for example which is not GATT green and searches for an easy out to redesign WGTA just enough to make it less objectionable to the international marketplace.

Canada has been blessed with some of the finest agricultural land in the world. Due to a combination of factors such as the short growing season and the long distance to potential markets our prairie grain farmers face unique conditions that influence their decisions on what to grow, how much to grow and where to send it.

The Canadian Wheat Board was established in 1935 to provide some stability as well as equity of prices and export market shares to the grain producers spread across the prairies. Because of the size of its purchases this virtual monopoly has led to a system of dependency and distortion.

Lately the Canadian Wheat Board appears to be moving far beyond its traditional mandate as a central marketing agency for Canadian farmers. Just as Canada Post competes with private courier services, we now find the Canadian Wheat Board operating in direct competition with grain trading companies.

While the establishment of the CWB may have been necessary to ensure the survival of Canadian grain farmers when it was first set up, we live in a different world today. As GATT reduces agricultural subsidies in other countries we cannot afford inefficiencies in our marketing and transportation system if we want to be successful internationally.

We have all read the news. Entrepreneurial farmers in border zones are prevented from trucking their grain a short distance south across the border. Instead they must sell their export grains to the CWB which will probably load it on a freight train and ship it thousands of miles to a Canadian port.

About 90 per cent of the grain produced by Canadian farmers is exported. We must remain internationally competitive if we are to keep our market share. However, we are not playing on a level field. Domestically, grain transport subsidies have distorted the costs of production and delivery to our markets and internationally, producer subsidies abound.

Over the last few years Canadian grain producers were caught in the middle of the subsidy war between the U.S. and the European Community. They have poured billions of dollars into their war in an effort to steal each other's market shares but they only succeeded in driving international grain prices down to levels not seen since the depression.

Despite Canada pouring billions of dollars into aid for grain and oilseed producers, thousands of grain farmers still went bankrupt. In addition to the billions spent directly on stabilization and insurance programs for farmers, the government also spends over $700 million a year in grain freight subsidies to the railway companies through the Western Grain Transportation Act.

Under the WGTA the federal government pays the railways an annual subsidy on a dollars per tonne basis to cover the transportation of eligible grain from prairie shipping points to Thunder Bay, Churchill, Vancouver and Prince Rupert. As a result of GATT's analysis of our transport subsidies, Thunder Bay is not subject to the GATT sanctions but the western ports and Churchill are.

Already, valuable rail cars are tied up backhauling grain from Thunder Bay merely so the grain qualifies for the subsidy. Does this make sense? Yet this government's minister of agriculture has indicated it may take him until next summer to halt this ridiculous practice.

Because only the WGTA payments for grain transport to the west coast and Churchill have been deemed export subsidies by the GATT community, this means we will have to substantially reduce export shipments of grains and oilseeds through these ports within the next few years. In addition to a volume reduction, a portion of the total tonnage would also be assessed at the full freight rate.

This creates yet another distortion in our agriculture transport sector. There will be a major incentive for detouring grain shipments through Thunder Bay. This is despite the fact that grain markets have changed and the Pacific rim countries constitute a growing share of our grain market and it is the western ports that will be subject to the volume caps. Even though some of the grain going to Thunder Bay is also destined for export, the GATT has deemed those WGTA payments part of the domestic support program and not subject to GATT sanctions and countervailing measures by other countries.

Considering two of the targeted ports are in British Columbia, I question the fairness of this section of the agreement. British Columbians overwhelmingly rejected the Charlottetown accord because of the special status awarded to some citizens and

provinces. This is merely another example of special status being granted to central Canada.

Signatories to the GATT have agreed that by the year 2000-01 they will reduce their export subsidy levels by at least 36 per cent in dollar terms and by 21 per cent in volume terms below the 1986 to 1990 average levels.

The 36 per cent target does not eliminate major subsidies to our competitors. Instead the export subsidy reductions are tied directly to average support levels during the height of the grain subsidy war between the U.S. and the EEC. At that time subsidies for some European grain exports reached levels at least twice the price of the product. Reducing these subsidies by 36 per cent would still leave a subsidy in place worth more than the cost of the grain, hardly what I would call a level playing field for Canadian farmers.

We cannot afford to tinker with our subsidy programs in the hopes that they might comply with future GATT agreements. We must act now to eliminate disincentives inherent in our system which prevent more efficient handling and transport of grains. We must act now to give farmers the information and tools necessary to make sound management decisions based on real market prices and transportation costs.

Given a fair chance I believe Canadian farmers can compete successfully on the world market. However we must go much further than this bill does when it merely modifies our programs to meet with current international approval. As subsidies are brought down over time we must restructure all of our programs to prevent more internal distortions from creeping into the domestic decision making process.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, today we all have to take a look at what is going on around us and realize the globalization that is occurring leads us to where we are in terms of the agreements we are talking about.

I have heard today that farmers are asking for a level playing field. I have heard that there is new hope for the industry and for Canadians. I have heard that supply management is on its way out but we do have time for adjustment so that people can get used to it.

I heard from one Bloc members that there is a great fear and a hatred for the U.S., that it is trying to destroy our culture, and that it is going to gobble us up. Separation, it seems to me, is a good way to get gobbled up, certainly with regard to whom they are going to be trading with. When they start having to trade with the Americans they had better believe it will be in English. The young people of Quebec will certainly be speaking English rather than French.

It is incredibly ironic we are making good progress on eliminating trade barriers internationally but have an awful long way to go at home. Under the current system Canada's domestic market is seriously fragmented by provincial trade barriers. This not only affects our competitiveness internationally but reduces our collective prosperity at home. Provincial impediments to free trade in Canada add around $6.5 billion annually to the cost of doing business in the country. It is around $1,000 per family and is absolutely unacceptable.

While the government is pressing hard for freer trade worldwide and is presenting the WTO enabling legislation in the House, it must also spearhead a movement to get rid of provincial trade barriers once and for all. If we could eliminate barriers to trade at home, the efficiency of Canadian businesses would be increased and their ability to trade internationally would be expanded. What better way is there to improve our position in the international marketplace? This is especially true for small and medium sized businesses which are suffering under the current system.

Today we are globalizing. We have talked a lot about that. We are finding that the world is probably breaking up into three major units. We have Europe including the eastern part of Europe. We have the Americas both north and south, and we have the Asia-Pacific. We must get onside. We must realize that the world is much smaller and not stick our head in the sand and hope that it will not catch up to us.

I was fortunate to travel across the country to listen to briefs presented by Canadians. Everywhere we go, including many international areas, we are told that we are not competitive because we are not aggressive enough, because we do not get out there and sell the country and the products we have.

We have trade departments that are doing a good job. They are attempting to market Canada and our products throughout the world. Something like the WTO is a great boon to them because it gives them a common level playing field on which to market the country and its products.

In my role in the foreign affairs area I have heard time and again about the importance of such rules based multilateral systems. While the WTO does not solve all the problems that exist over international trade, it does take a giant step in the right direction. Such a rules based multilateral trading system will protect countries like Canada from the unilateralist tendencies of the largest trading companies and increase our position in bargaining and negotiating with the United States. Hopefully in the years to come Canada will play a leadership role in the strengthening of the rules based multilateral system by promoting the WTO to effectively deal with the questions of trade remedies and anti-dumping actions.

Over one in five Canadians depend on exports for their jobs. That is over two million jobs. In addition over 30 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product comes from exports. Therefore it is vital that Canada aggressively promotes itself throughout the world. If we become naval gazing isolationists and protectionists all Canadians will lose. It is also vital that the House support Bill C-57.

The WTO offers Canadian farmers and businessmen a great opportunity to continue building our sales abroad. While we also have to open our markets to others, I do not see it as a threat. Canadian businesses can compete with anyone in the world. All we want is a fair and open international system with a level playing field. The WTO goes a long way toward accomplishing this.

When this agreement comes into effect next year it will commit some 120 countries to gradually reducing trade barriers. This will have the long term effect of increasing world trade dramatically. As we know, any increase in world trade means more exports for Canadian businesses and more jobs for Canadian workers: over 11,000 for every $1 billion in new exports. This means greater prosperity for Canadian families and this is what government should be all about.

We could talk about things like culture. When the Montreal Symphony and the Winnipeg Ballet go somewhere they are promoting the country. That is good for Canada and good for trade. We have to stop having an inferiority complex about ourselves. We are as good or better. We can compete and the WTO will help us do that.

Tourism, about which I know a fair amount, is a major industry of the world. Canada can do so much. We can be a leader. Everyone agrees that we have the most beautiful country in the world. Yet we have only barely touched the surface possibilities. As we deal with the world and as we communicate with the world we are going to do much more in the area of promoting ourselves.

The threat to Canada does not exist in the world. We must open our eyes and get out there and trade. The new forum does that for us. That is why I strongly support it. We must go further, however. We must liberalize our financial service institutions and our telecommunications; harmonize our professional, technical and licensing standards; and the list goes on. We must co-operate on environment because, as I said in the House yesterday, the environment is a world issue. It is not isolated to one country.

To conclude, Canada must aggressively promote free trade throughout the world. This means eliminating provincial trade barriers at home and becoming a leader in the WTO. I express my support for Bill C-57 which will go a long way toward creating prosperity for our generation and that of our children. Therefore I ask all members of the House to join me in supporting the bill.