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 trade.

Topics

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a brief comment.

I am a bit overwhelmed by the very eloquent speech that we just heard from the hon. member for Frontenac. My colleague focused on what was, I think, the main problem for Canada in the Uruguay Round, namely the double talk used by the federal government in trying to protect the interests of producers in Canada and Quebec, those of grain producers from the western provinces on one hand and those of poultry and dairy farmers and other producers on the other hand.

It must be said that this double talk, this double standard still exists today. The problem is still there and it became obvious when we asked the government very recently, as my colleague was saying, which rules would have precedence, the NAFTA rules or the GATT rules, with regard to tariffs on dairy products, poultry, etc.

The problem that exists right now is related to the fear of seeing that western grain production will be played off against Quebec's egg, milk and poultry production in future negotiations with the United States. At the present time, the United States imposes limits on Canadian grain imports and the Canadian government could very well be tempted to reduce the tariffs that will be imposed on Quebec's agricultural products in the place of quotas in order to obtain greater access to the American market.

The Canadian government could be tempted to reduce its tariffs in order to open the American market to Canadian grain. The danger is there and the double talk to which the hon. member for Frontenac was referring still exists. It is important to note that we are well aware of the problem and that we will watch the government very closely on this issue.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the hon. member for Verchères, is absolutely right. This reminded me of what my Reform Party colleague said earlier about high prices.

I went shopping with my wife on Friday evening and I saw Prince Edward Island potatoes at a price which was exceptionally high for the season. Three years ago, there was an oversupply of potatoes in New Brunswick. The Canadian and New Brunswick governments of the time bought the potatoes to bury them in an open dump. On the CBC news, they showed us hundreds and hundreds of thousands of tons of potatoes being bulldozed

into a hole while we could have fed the starving people of the world with those vegetables.

To support the price of potatoes, our two governments had bought the farmers' production. They deliberately kept the potatoes from being marketed precisely to create scarcity. Sometimes we talk about environmental protection. Well it is certainly not very clever to bury potatoes, and not even make compost, when you think there are millions of people, tens of millions of people who cannot even eat a meal a day. And here, in New Brunswick, three years ago, we buried hundreds and hundreds of thousands of tons of potatoes.

When we talked about supply management, do you not think that a supply management system for potatoes would have been much better? Of course in Quebec, we could produce 25 per cent more milk if we wanted to. But why produce 25 per cent more milk if you cannot sell it?

[English]

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak in the debate.

I always enjoy the interventions of my hon. colleague from Frontenac. I should point out to him that I believe the potatoes to which he was referring that were buried in Prince Edward Island were not buried to support a price. They were seed potatoes and there was a problem. There was a potential for disease and in order to protect the integrity of Prince Edward Island seed potatoes, which is among the highest in the world, it was determined that it would be best to do away with the potatoes. It was not a question of price fixing.

I also thought this might be the crowning glory and achievement of the Bloc. We have heard a lot of statements from the Bloc in this House from time to time, some statements more or less preposterous than others. I have to tell you when the hon. member for Frontenac said that we have to protect supply management because the farmers in Quebec worked harder than any other farmers, I mean that was it. How does he know? I really do believe that farmers as people and business persons in our country do work very long hours, but don't we all? I really do not think the farmers in Quebec work any harder than the farmers anywhere else in the country.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

An hon. member

How can you know?

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Obviously I cannot know. I just do not think that is one contest we need to get into. This debate has been most enlightening today because we have an interesting separation.

We are talking about whether or not Canada should sign into the World Trade Organization. The actual title of this bill is the World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act. It is at the second reading stage. We support this bill.

There is a truism about being competitive: If you do not compete, you cannot be competitive. Therefore we have to have within our psyche the desire to compete and to be competitive. That is the dichotomy which has come in this debate thus far today. There are members of the Bloc who are by and large supportive of the notion of free trade and expanded trade, but with a severe reservation because of its impact on supply management.

It is fair to say that as a result of the implementation of the GATT agreement supply management will have seen the last of its days in Canada. Let there be no mistake: Supply management is price fixing. If it was supply management of photo finishing, it would be called price fixing. If it was supply management of shoe manufacturing, it would be called price fixing.

Supply management creates a situation whereby a limited number of producers have access to the market exclusive of anyone else. They are thereby provided a guaranteed return on their investment. What happens of course as a result of that is that everybody else who makes a living based on that investment also has a guaranteed return on their investment, the feed suppliers, the implement suppliers, everyone down the line. You know who gets it in the neck? Mr. and Mrs. Joe Consumer in the land.

If we want a situation where we are going to have industries which are non-competitive, where we are going to have winners and losers in society picked not by the marketplace but by the government, then supply management is a textbook illustration on how to do it. Therefore, one of the main beneficial and most important things that will come as a result of signing this agreement will be the ordered timely end of supply management.

This whole exercise as many people know started in 1944. It was called the Bretton Woods agreement. It was determined that at the conclusion of the second world war it might not be a bad idea if the nations of the world figured out some sort of an arrangement whereby they could learn to trade with each other under certain rules and conditions that might help to prevent future wars. That was essentially the reason behind the United Nations and the Bretton Woods agreement.

Three major decisions were reached at Bretton Woods in 1944. They were the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Trade Organization.

The International Trade Organization did not really get off the ground but the successor, which is the GATT, did. To most people GATT is an obscure term. It stands for General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It really has a tremendous impact on the lives of all Canadians daily. It is not just an obscure international agreement that we are signing. It is an agreement that will fundamentally change the way we function as a nation.

As Canada goes forward into the next century it is perhaps a very timely agreement for us to be signing.

We should compare our nation today with our nation when we got involved in the free trade agreement. Going back to the time when we got into free trade with the United States it was a major leap of faith for most Canadians. It said we were going to start to break down the trade barriers within Canada and start competing on our own as a nation within the world.

First we had to compete with the United States. Then we went to the North American free trade agreement in which we decided we were going to compete with the United States and Mexico. Now we are going one step further with the GATT which means we will be competing sooner or later with everyone in the world.

What does that mean to us here in Canada? How does it affect us when we are trying to get by, trying to get a job, trying just to pay our rent? This is it. If we are not the very best that we can be, if we do not as a nation and as individuals strive for excellence, we are going to be buried in the world. We can no longer hide behind tariff barriers.

The tariff barriers in Canada existed for years and years. They created artificial subsidies. The unnatural but natural conclusion were things like the back-in agreements or the backflow where empty grain cars go to Thunder Bay and then come back so that the railways can get a subsidy, so they can get more money for some God forsaken government program. We have the situation where grain grown in western Canada is subsidized to be shipped east. It goes into a feedlot in central Canada so that we can sell beef raised in central Canada on western grain rather than having the beef fattened on western grain in western Canada and then sending dressed beef to the markets, a natural advantage.

All of these distortions that are built into our trade agreements within our own country serve one purpose only: to make us less competitive on the world stage. That is why it is so important that we as Canadians in the present supply managed sectors and all other sectors understand the absolute necessity of becoming competitive as world traders.

A quarter of our nation's wealth is derived from international trade. Eighty per cent of our international trade is with the United States. Twenty-five per cent of that trade is internal trade within branch plants.

In last Saturday's Globe and Mail there was a business report from the Royal Bank. I will just show it very briefly for those in television land-

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order. With all due respect to all those people in television land, within the confines of this wonderful Chamber we do not use "props". We will listen attentively to the wisdom of the hon. member for Edmonton Southwest.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thought I might be able to sneak that in because I wanted to give credit where credit was due. Less attentive Speakers have allowed me that privilege, but I can see you are on your toes today.

In any event distributed with the Globe and Mail last Saturday was a report by the Royal Bank.

This might be a good time to put in a plug for the industry committee of the House of Commons which has put together a report on small business. I think most members of Parliament have been inundated with innovative initiatives by all of the banks to try to foster small business.

In any event the Royal Bank publication points out some of the benefits and some of the realities of the trade situation we find ourselves in. The reason I would like to quote some of these statistics is that the signing of the GATT and our commitment to become international traders will inevitably lead to the fact that we had better pay a lot more attention to the next generation of Canadians so that they can compete on a world stage. The next generation of Canadians will compete because of their knowledge based resources.

We in Canada have been very fortunate. We have been blessed for many years. We were able to live a standard of living far beyond our means because we exploited Canada's natural resources. By and large we were the suppliers to the world of natural resources at a relatively low price, but it brought a tremendous amount of wealth into Canada. We were then able to transfer that wealth into the social programs we have all grown very accustomed to and that we really like. The problem is that we are no longer such an exporting nation. We do not have the resources to export and we have not replaced them with anything else.

Let me give an example. One-quarter of our national wealth is derived from international trade. One-third of our jobs depend on international trade. Nine thousand new jobs result from every billion dollars of additional exports. Nearly half of Canada's manufacturing output is exported. Exports generate more than $5,000 for every Canadian every year. That is really kind of nice.

This is what we are exporting and this is where the problem is: passenger cars, $24.1 billion; trucks, $10.5 billion; motor vehicle parts, excluding engines, $9.6 billion; softwood lumber, $9.2 billion; and crude petroleum, $6.9 billion. Where do you see anything there other than the automobile industry that we have any value added?

In Alberta we have spent zillions of dollars building one of the neatest pulp mills you have ever seen. It is one of the least polluting mills ever made. The problem is that we cut our trees down and we get something like 25 cents value for every tree that goes into that pulp mill. We turn that pulp into a finished product, bleached so that we get the environmental problems down the road, and we send that to Japan and buy it back as finished paper, as fine paper.

I learned earlier today from my hon. colleague from Lisgar-Marquette that Canada used to export a tremendous amount of milled flour to Japan. We do not any more. We export wheat to Japan. The Japanese mill it and then they sell it around the world. How is it we can get ourselves into a situation where we still end up being the purveyors of raw materials? We have to get the tertiary secondary manufacturing or we cannot allow our raw materials to be exploited any more in the same manner which was just fine for 30 or 40 years. Things have changed and we just cannot do that any more.

I mentioned a few minutes earlier about some of our primary exports. Our primary imports are motor vehicle parts excluding engines, $18 billion; passenger cars, $11.9 billion; electronic computers, $9 billion; crude petroleum, $4.6 billion; electronic tubes and semi-conductors, that sort of thing; $4.5 billion.

Therefore, basically through the auto pact, when we start talking about how great an exporter we are, we are great exporters if we are talking about the auto pact where we export and import and we are great exporters when we start talking about wheat or petroleum.

However, we are not great exporters when we are talking about anything that has value added. This is where we as a nation have a real problem, especially coming into the next generation.

I had a letter from a constituent the other day saying the difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election, a statesman thinks about the next generation.

Perhaps we in this Parliament have to start thinking as statesmen, not about the next election but about the next generation. We have a serious problem here. How do we go about competing on a world stage?

Think about internal trade barriers that exist now within Canada. We do not have the ability or the resolve as Canadians to get rid of these trade barriers within Canada that exist today. When we were negotiating the North American free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico there were three players around the table: Canada, the United States and Mexico.

When we were trying to break down the trade barriers within Canada, how many players were around the table-all the provinces and the federal government.

If we as Canadians are prepared to take the bull by the horns and break down these trade barriers we may have to go into a situation and say: "We are the federal government. We represent Canadians. We do not represent Albertans. We do not represent people from Ontario or Quebec. We represent the national interest. These trade barriers are killing us. They are killing our ability to compete internationally. It is time to get them out of here. You guys have exactly one year to get rid of your trade barriers. If you have not done it and negotiated an end to them within a year, kiss them goodbye because they are gone. They are out of there".

If we do not have the kind of resolve that will do it, how can we compete internationally if we cannot compete within our own country, within our own borders? It is essential that before we take on the world as these trade barriers come down, as the tariffication takes effect and the tariff barriers start to come down, we ensure that we are competitive within our own country.

It means that we have to first of all eliminate the interprovincial trade barriers. It means we have to ensure that our taxes are as low as any tax regime in the world. How do we go about doing that? We make sure that they are fair and that we do not use tax incentives that distort the marketplace.

It means that we do not use the tax money paid by someone earning $10 or $12 or $8 an hour, barely getting by, take it into government and then regurgitate it, give it to somebody else to go into business with the person who paid the taxes in competition with the person who paid the taxes in the first place.

It means that we have to lower the cost of being a Canadian. We have to be competitive in the world and it means that we have to make some very strategic investment decisions in the future. It means that we have to ensure that we are not only the sources of ideas, we have to be the innovators and the implementors.

We cannot just have a brainwave, invent something and have that innovative idea brought to the market by Americans or by the Japanese or the Germans.

It is going to be a new relationship between the innovators, the entrepreneurs, government, education and business. It is a whole new attitude so that we in our nation will honour, revere and bring to some degree of respect innovators and entrepreneurs who would at least be on the same level as a hockey player.

It is important. Think about it. Someone in our country who is a great business person, a great entrepreneur, a great innovator, a scientist-who do we know? Are they our heroes? No, they certainly are not. Somebody who can put 50 goals into a net or play baseball at all is a hero. It is a quantum change in the whole way we think about ourselves and what is worthwhile in our nation.

We know that our new economy is not going to work if we try to replicate what we did in the past. Going into the new economy we can do so with confidence because we can compete on a world scale. We can only do it if we strive for excellence in everything we do.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Broadview—Greenwood
Ontario

Liberal

Dennis Mills Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as always I enjoy listening to the member when he speaks on the economy.

I would like to focus on a very specific remark that the member made in his speech. The member said that we must make strategic investments in ideas. Many years ago we as a government made a strategic investment in the automobile industry in this country.

We used taxpayers dollars to create a sector of the economy that is recognized today to be one of the best in the world. We can do joint ventures with Mercedes Benz, with the Japanese, et cetera. We did make a strategic investment with taxpayers dollars and the member acknowledged that strategic investment in his remarks.

My question to the member is in what sectors of the economy is he proposing that we make such strategic investments today?

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the strategic investment that the hon. member for Broadview-Greenwood refers to is the auto pact. The auto pact came into being because we in Canada were importing all of our automobiles from the United States. We thought it would not be a bad idea that since we drive these cars here we should make a few.

We ended up getting involved in the auto pact. The auto pact almost died, as the hon. member would know. It was not easy for the agreement to reach fruition. During those years-35 years ago the auto pact came into being-that was in my opinion a very worthwhile strategic investment.

What kinds of strategic investments should we be making today? In my opinion it should be through our universities, through research and development, in colleges. We are doing reviews of all sorts of things.

The National Research Council has a budget of something in the region of $450 million a year. Imagine if the National Research Council's budget of $450 million a year were somehow worked into universities so that instead of getting $450 million worth of value from that investment, we could get $1 billion worth of value from that investment and we would also have a direct rubber meets the road responsibility. Here are people actually doing things, innovating, transferring that technology and applying it.

Another area in which we should be looking at strategic investments is the electronic highway. Years ago we had a situation in which communication in Canada was via rivers, then it was via railroad, then by air. We strategically put airports all over the place that we are desperately trying to get rid of now. At the time we needed them for communication.

Our future will be based upon our ability to innovate and use the collective brain power of all of our citizens, those working at home in their study, businesses and universities. There are people hacking away at their computers right now somewhere in Canada who could have the secret that we absolutely must have to make something else work. Somehow we need to connect all of this brain power. That is the kind of innovation and strategic value of government led initiative that in my view would be worthwhile.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Nic Leblanc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talked a lot about efficiency, productivity and strategic investments. He did not have much to say about the tremendous amounts spent by the federal government on manpower training. As you know, the federal government probably wastes one or two billion dollars annually on poorly-organized manpower training. When we realize that the provinces are responsible for training, the federal government's involvement in this field means that a lot of money is being wasted.

I believe that if we keep going in this direction, there is a real danger that we will be unable to compete with the rest of the world. I am all in favour of free trade and globalization but, to deal with that, our people must be properly trained. He did not have much to say about that, and I would appreciate his comments on manpower training, federal involvement in this field, the attendant inefficiencies and the adverse impact of those inefficiencies on the potential of our economy.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
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1:55 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for the opportunity to say a few words about manpower training and, in a more general sense, overlap and duplication, the favourite mantra of the Bloc Quebecois.

Irrespective of whether the Bloc is successful in its quest to take Quebec out of Canada, and I hope sincerely that it is not successful, we should be devolving responsibility as close as possible to the people who are going to be the consumers of that responsibility.

If a job can be done by the federal government but could be done better by a municipal government, then the municipal government should do it.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

Equality
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—Woodbine, ON

Mr. Speaker, 65 years ago Canadian women won the right to be legally recognized as persons.

On Monday of this week, five Canadian women were honoured with the Governor General's Award in recognition of their outstanding contribution toward the promotion of women's equality.

I want to congratulate and thank Shirley Carr, Dr. Rose Charlie, Alice Girard, Morag O'Brien and Dodi Robb for their dedication and determination.

While women in Canada have made significant advances since 1929 they still have a long way to go. We need only look at the representation in this Chamber to see the distance they still have to go.

I would encourage all members of this House and all Canadians to continue to work for the advancement of Canadian women in every sphere of life and in pursuit of the goal of equality.

Ferries
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, for more than 18 months, Ottawa has been trying to make up its mind about replacing the old Lucy Maud Montgomery , the ferry link between the Magdalen Islands and Prince Edward Island. Since the beginning of this Parliament, the Bloc Quebecois has urged the Minister of Transport to decide what should be done, but the minister still cannot make up his mind and is trying to shirk his responsibilities. However, interprovincial ferry services are a federal responsibility and the Magdalen Islands transportation co-op cannot go ahead without federal financing.

Not long ago, the Minister of Transport received letters from Quebec MNAs on the subject. Mr. Farrah, MNA for the Magdalen Islands, and Mr. Paillé, the Quebec Minister of Industry, agreed to ask the minister to act without delay.

Now that the minister knows it is up to him to make the decision, what is he waiting for?

Violent Offenders
Statements By Members

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

Reform

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, while Reform with the support of grassroot Canadians is asking for more protection from violent, ruthless offenders proven in a court of law to be a threat to society, the Liberal government states that any bill seeking to keep sexual predators behind bars will not pass a constitutional challenge. The Liberal government is saying that it does not have the will or the courage to introduce legislation to protect our innocent children.

A learned lawyer stated that if the government contacted constitutional lawyers instead of bureaucratic bosses, whose only interest is keeping their departments running smoothly and not for the best interest of Canadians, legislation could indeed be drafted that would pass the challenge.

When is the Liberal government going to get some gumption, some concern for protecting grassroot Canadians and stop its do nothing, say nothing leadership? Using provincial health laws to keep offenders in jail is even a more stupid idea.

Learn the Constitution. Write the legislation. Do something for a change. Grassroot Canadians want what the government seems unwilling to give them: a safe and secure Canada.