House of Commons Hansard #158 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Farm Debt Mediation Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

Farm Debt Mediation Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I declare the motion carried, on division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.)

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

April 17th, 1997 / 4:40 p.m.

Sudbury
Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau for Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved that Bill C-77, an act concerning an order under the International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Don Valley West
Ontario

Liberal

John Godfrey Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Cooperation

Madam Speaker, I rise before the House today to table the second reading of a bill that will authorize payments made to the multilateral fund for the Montreal Protocol and the Global Environment Facility.

These organizations were established in 1990 as primary international financial mechanisms to protect the global environment. Since then the multilateral fund for the Montreal Protocol or the MFMP has served as the main financial mechanism for projects aimed at reducing ozone depletion in the developing world.

Similarly, the Global Environment Facility or GEF is the principal international mechanism through which donors can support developing countries in the areas of biodiversity, climate change, the ozone and international waters. It was endorsed as such at the landmark 1992 Rio conference on the environment and development.

As you know, Madam Speaker, we honour our commitments to international institutions in full and on time so that they can carry out their vital work unencumbered by financial shortfalls. To do so in this case it was necessary to add the GEF and the MFMP to the schedule of financial institutions under the International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act. An order in council to this effect was approved on November 15, 1994 and published in the Canada Gazette on November 30, 1994.

The international development act also stipulates that the order in council be tabled before Parliament no more 15 sitting days after it is approved. Due to an administrative oversight this obligation was not met within the specified time.

The bill I am tabling for second reading today will correct that oversight. On this matter I am sure that I have the full support of members on both sides of the House who know the value of environmental protection and want to see Canada continue to meet its financial obligations uninterrupted.

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The hon. member for Terrebonne has the floor.

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Terrebonne, QC

Madam Speaker, you are right. It is still Terrebonne for a few weeks because, as I mentioned to your alternate a few days ago, after June 2, or thereabouts, it will be Repentigny.

I made an omission I want to correct before addressing Bill C-77. The last time I rose, I thanked the residents of the five municipalities in the riding of Repentigny, but I forgot to also thank the residents of the two former municipalities in my riding, namely Terrebonne and Bois-des-Filion, for the good times spent together during the past three and a half years. These are people with whom, under Irénée Forget, in Terrebonne, and Paul Laroque, in Bois-des-Filion, we were able to co-operate, work and bring several issues to a successful conclusion, and thus improve the quality of life of the residents of these two municipalities. This was achieved with a great deal of enthusiasm, drive and interest.

The last time I rose in this House to speak, I forgot to thank the mayors and the people of these two municipalities. I just wanted to correct this oversight.

That said, as my hon. colleague pointed out earlier, the purpose of Bill C-77 is indeed to remedy an omission. In February 1994, the federal cabinet agreed to contribute to the Global Environment Facility Fund and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

The implementation of this decision required that the institutions in question be included in the International Development Assistance Act. An order in council to that effect was therefore approved on November 15, 1994, and published in the Canada Gazette on November 30 of the same year.

By law, an order has to be tabled in Parliament within 15 days of its signing. Earlier this year, after the standing joint committee of which my hon. colleague is a member discovered the omission as part of its regulatory review, the Department of Foreign Affairs was notified. An order was indeed published in the Canada Gazette , but the legislation was never implemented so that the two organizations mentioned previously, namely the Global Environment Facility Fund and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, could receive the money it was supposed to get from the government.

Oversights happen even in the best of families. Several very important issues are before this House, and we understand the need for urgent action to restore funding to these two organizations.

As the previous speaker said, he will ask the House to fast-track Bill C-77 so that the two organizations mentioned earlier can receive the money they need to improve the environment and even encourage developing countries to become more environmentally conscious.

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-77. This act has been designed to correct an oversight that happened in 1994. I can understand how that can happen and we agreed to participate to support this bill and to correct that error.

I want to take the opportunity to talk about the bigger picture in terms of Canada's foreign policy and the government's role in that. Foreign policy does not just belong to the government in power, it belongs to Parliament. There have been numerous incidents in which the Liberal government ignored Parliament and failed to inform it properly. In the area of foreign affairs Reform has raised many issues in the past years and almost all of them have been completely.

In October 1993 a private member's motion was put forward to address the important issue of peacekeeping, which would go on to consume a fair amount of time of the House later one. What did the governing party do at the time? It voted it down because it was not interested in the opinions it seemed of other members on this side of the House. There have been other occasions when that has happened as well.

This happened in spite of the fact that when the present foreign affairs minister was on this side of the House he was very critical of the Tories for showing a lack of respect for the parliamentary process. I would think he would be very sensitive as the foreign affairs minister to that very criticism he raised when he was on this side.

We know that this Parliament has probably had more closure and use of time allocation than any other Parliament including the one the minister of foreign affairs was so critical of, the Mulroney government of nine years.

When we look at the foreign policy of this government we can see that it has lacked vision and has failed in some areas. It is clear to us that the Liberals want to use foreign policy as their own political agenda, and that is a fairly serious charge.

What can one think when the Prime Minister makes his first trip to our friends in Washington, to visit the president of the United States, our most important trading partner, three and a half years into the mandate? Some would say it was a photo op, a good chance for the Prime Minister to have his picture taken with the president, on the president's knee, shortly before the election campaign. Canada and the United States have a very close trading relationship, which has grown to something like a billion dollars a day of two-way trade.

I am a little cynical about his motives. However, I want to talk about an area that the Liberals have come full circle on. I give them full credit. That area is free trade.

When the Liberals were on this side of the House in the opposition benches they were very critical of the free trade agreement with the United States. They fought it tooth and nail in 1988. They were very critical of it in the 1993 election. They said they would rip up or renegotiate the accord unless it got a subsidies code and an anti-dumping code. Of course that did not happen.

The Prime Minister has led a number of trade delegations around the world. That is a good move. They are the Team Canada missions.

I wonder about our exporters, what they are thinking. It seems our exports to most of the countries that the Prime Minister and his entourage have visited in the last three years have actually fallen off as a result of these trade missions. How can that be? The reason I put forward is that Canada has done our homework at home to make possible the opportunities for our businesses to take advantage of these important trade missions that have developed.

I would suggest that the Prime Minister concentrate more on the trade mission at home to correct some of the problems for our companies can take advantage of.

The committee has certainly heard the high cost of doing business in Canada. We have payroll taxes, taxes, interprovincial trade barriers where we have made very little progress. These are very big problems to trade within Canada.

We know that there are something like only 100 companies in Canada that are responsible for over 40 per cent of Canada's exports. We would like to see it be a great deal more than that. The Minister for International Trade has suggested that we should get to about 4,000 companies doing business. I agree.

When we cannot even trade effectively across our own provincial borders, how can we be exporters around the world? How can our companies get the economies of scale that are required to get out there and compete in the world market?

The federal government has to show leadership in breaking down the provincial barriers we have. That will resolve a lot of our problems.

We heard at our committee in foreign affairs and international trade when we were doing a study on small and medium size enterprises what is holding them back from exporting. Some said they are moving into the United States. They have better access to the Canadian market from the United States than they have from their Canadian locations. That is a big problem.

In any case, I am glad to see that the Liberals have been born again, if you like, free traders. It is the right approach. Canada is a trading country. Forty per cent of our GDP is derived from exports along with one job in every three. It will be a very important area for us in the future.

The initiative that the trade minister has developed to try to bring more countries on in the southern hemisphere will be good for Canada. Let us concentrate on correcting some of the problems at home so that we can take advantage of these very important initiatives.

Although they are born again, I welcome it. I hope their hearts are in the right place and that this will continue into the future.

I want to talk about a couple of other areas that we have identified in terms of peacekeeping. The government has not taken into consideration the long term consequences in some cases of Canadian involvement. I cite Haiti as an area where United States went in with a lot of fanfare. Guess who gets to do the mop-up operation. Canada.

We seem to continue to extend that mandate. We have RCMP officers there who are trying to help in training Haitians in terms of policing. We have the problem in Canada where we have lack of police forces. We seem to be taken in by United States. It makes the big initiative, gets the fanfare and then we do the mop-up afterwards. There are long term consequences that have to be anticipated.

What is wrong with a full scale debate in the House, as one of our members suggested in a private member's motion in 1993? Let us involve the House a bit more to hear more of what other people are thinking in that regard.

With regard to Bosnia, the government has allowed itself to be dragged into a mission it was not equipped for. We have to reassess the whole idea of whether we are in peacekeeping or peacemaking.

There was the initiative to go to Zaire. Things changed pretty rapidly, but it was an ironic situation. Our peacekeepers were pinned down. They could not even get their weapons out of the airport. They were supposed to help police the area but they could not get their weapons out of the airport. It was a fiasco. It is a good thing there was a major turnaround in the situation and people started to return of their own accord.

There are a lot of things which need to be changed. The United Nations has to go through a reassessment in terms of its effectiveness. We are concerned that the United Nations is being forced to downsize in terms of bureaucracy.

I am concerned about some of the organizations which were put in place shortly after the second world war which were well intended and have done good work such as the World Bank, the IMF and the United Nations. Many are trying to reinvent themselves to stay in existence. If there is no role for them or if there is a reduced role, we have to recognize that.

Reform in many of these institutions is badly needed and Canada has to show leadership in these areas.

We will support the motion to clean up this oversight, but let us involve all of Parliament when it comes to foreign policy because there are some good ideas which we should have an opportunity to debate.

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Madam Speaker, I suggest, with the agreement of the House, that this matter now be referred not to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade but rather to committee of the whole.

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is that agreed?

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, by unanimous consent considered in committee and reported.)

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think you will find unanimous consent to go now to third reading.

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is there unanimous consent?

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Sudbury
Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau for the Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)

International Development (Financial Institutions) Assistance Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?