House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offence.

Topics

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite talks about the United States being crazy. I agree with him but it is driving our producers nuts in the process. This is in the context that the United States is our major trading partner. Around $20 million worth of trade, an inordinate amount of money, crosses the border every day. I think the feeling around here from Canadian producers and exporters is that we are being hosed more often than not.

It may very well be that the United States is out of step with the rest of the world. We are so close in proximity to the United States and our trade with that country is so important that we cannot afford, as I suggested in my remarks, to be leading with our chins when negotiating with the United States. I fear that the legislation before us today will force that upon us.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise on this occasion. I would like first to tell a very short story and then ask a question.

In 1993 I remember the NDP running ads talking about how free trade would kill jobs and devastate the Canadian economy, that it would be a colossal failure and that the whole nation would weep in the wake of the signing of a free trade agreement. I am glad to hear the member's party has changed its position on free trade. I remember as well the commercials that were run in the 1993 election campaign were actually made in the United States. It was rather ironic since they were running ads that were negative to free trade.

Is the member aware of other flip-flops the Liberal Party has made with regard to issues like free trade since they won election in 1993?

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

No, Mr. Speaker. I think I set that out fairly clearly. When the Liberals were in opposition they were very firmly opposed to free trade. The previous leader referred to it as the fight of his life back in 1988.

However they embraced free trade altogether, 100%, following the election in 1993. They continue to go down that road with the agreements I referred to: the agreement with Chile, the agreement with the Americas, the WTO, their push on the multilateral agreement on investment, et cetera.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-35. The Progressive Conservative Party is in favour of this bill.

Unfortunately, Bill C-35 is not perfect, coming as it does from the government opposite, which is not perfect. Let us hope that the future will bring perfect legislation from a perfect government of the right colour.

We are in favour of Bill C-35, about which much has been said. I would like to come back to the purpose of this bill. We already had the 1984 Special Import Measures Act, which was aimed at exercising some control over what was coming into this country by setting rules to protect our industry. Following a most welcome change in government that Canadians and Quebeckers had been waiting for, negotiations were initiated to open up channels for trade around the world and with the United States in particular. Free trade agreements were signed, leading to various international trade negotiations.

After a free trade agreement is negotiated, it continues to evolve. In implementing the legislation, it becomes evident that changes have to be made to the laws of the various countries involved. Bill C-35 contains a number of changes, especially with respect to antidumping measures. This is the main purpose of Bill C-35.

There has been much mention of the United States. Free trade agreements have fortunately addressed most of the potential problems with that country. Since 1984, the Special Import Measures Act has been amended with each successive international treaty. Free trade is therefore a partial solution to some of our import problems.

Much was said about the United States and the very tough measures imposed by that country. One thing needs to be understood. Like Canada, the United States has a trade deficit. When a country has a trade deficit, it reacts by making its legislation more protectionist.

This is what happened in the United States in a few particular sectors, agriculture being one that has been debated in the last few weeks and months.

It is a very human reaction, particularly on the eve of an election, when barriers go up. With its free trade agreements and exports, however, Canada has been able to reassure Quebeckers and Canadians. The latest figures show, without a shadow of a doubt, that, had we not had free trade boosting exports to the United States, among other countries, Canada would be in a recession.

We export 1.8 per cent of our GDP. If we reduced our exports, we would go into a recession and all Quebeckers and Canadians would lose.

Naturally, some things still need to be changed. Bill C-35 introduces some worthwhile amendments, but it is not perfect. The Bloc Quebecois suggested some very interesting amendments that would have seen duties apply even further back in the case of dumping. We hope that it will not take the government two and a half years to amend the Special Import Measures Act.

Bill C-35 also introduces a change with respect to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act. It will be made much more stringent. We are going to send a very clear signal to those who want to dump their products onto this country, directly or by devious means, that Canada, under its international agreements, is ready to face the music.

We have examples from 80 years back, but the practice of dumping has existed since the time of the empires. At that point—as a history buff like you, Mr. Speaker, would know in spite of your young age—what they dumped was rum or furs or wood, depending on what the empire wanted to do with the recalcitrants in certain parts of its great kingdom.

As countries were established, various laws and agreements came into being, often within large groups such as the Commonwealth where there was some control over the movement of merchandise.

Bill C-35 is a step in the right direction. But, naturally, it is not perfect. However, we are giving it some teeth. Oftentimes on the international scene, when the government tried to show its teeth, people realized it had no dentures. Bill C-35 gives it enough teeth to better control the measures that could harm Canadian producers.

Even though we are delighted, we think it took far too long: two and a half years. Whether it is the crisis we are facing now in agriculture or the pasta crisis because of dumping by Italy, which has made it difficult for Italian products to move through the Canadian market, or any natural resource produced and sold in the country, there are difficulties.

I will not go further, for time is slipping by. I also know that all parliamentarians, with the exception of members of one particular party, have agreed to support Bill C-35.

Once again, we might say that the Liberal government has recognized its past mistake of failing to support the previous government on free trade, and we hope that the red of the government in office becomes a little less evident, that is, a little more blue.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is not often that I stand in the House in agreement or even partial agreement with something brought forward by the government. I can say that with regard Bill C-35.

We do not have to look too far to see what is actually going on today with trade. It is in the news. At the border there has been stoppage of some of our produce from entering the States.

Bill C-35, if it were to be implemented, might play a small part in addressing some of the concerns. Dumping is basically when other countries sell their product in our country at less than it costs them to produce it. We have to pay attention to exactly what is going on. Otherwise our financial picture will look bleaker than it is now. I do not think the country could stand that for one moment.

Bill C-35 respecting the Special Import Measures Act governs the procedures under which anti-dumping and countervailing duties are imposed. Under WTO rules all countries are permitted to impose penalties on imported goods if the goods are being dumped into their countries or if their production is being subsidized at home.

That also brings forward the definition of dumping or subsidizing. What exactly is subsidizing? We should be looking at this subject more carefully than we do. Subsidization can take many forms. I am and always will be basically a free trader. More important, I would like to say I am a fair trader. I do not have a doubt that Canadian workers, farmers and manufacturers can compete in any field against any country if we have fair trade.

Fair trade does not necessarily fall into the same guise, unfortunately with the government, as does free trade. Fair trade means that we require a level playing field for our producers to compete. When we have to face higher taxes than in other countries, it is no longer fair trade. When we have to pay more for our electricity and for our heat than other countries do, it is no longer fair trade. When we have to pay more for shipping costs than other countries do, it is no longer fair trade. When we have to pay our own people to collect taxes such as the GST and other countries do not have to do so, it is no longer fair trade. However it may be so-called free trade. If we were to look into those areas we would find that Canadian producers could definitely compete by anyone's standard in the world. I have no doubt about that.

I admit that is getting a bit off topic from Bill C-35, but the government should take heed of this when talking about imports and exports. The first basic concern should be for the producers in Canada and trying to give them a fair chance to compete in the global economy, if that is where we want them to go. It is only reasonable to ask that.

As long ago as 1904 Canada developed the world's first anti-dumping legislation. Over the years since then Canada has evolved into one of the world's leading trading nations. Canada's trade legislation has been changed many times, including changes to the Special Import Measures Act or SIMA that were needed to implement the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Uruguay round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or GATT.

We have been here before. We have gone through the hoops. We know we have serious problems and keep on having serious problems. It was only on Friday that I asked the minister about what was happening at the border. His answer to me was basically “Don't worry. Be happy. We have drawn up an agreement and nothing will happen”. It did happen because these agreements were not implemented when they should have been.

As I said, I am basically in support of Bill C-35. The government could be doing a lot more to help our companies and producers but it refuses to look at it. I sincerely hope it will give as much attention to that area as it has to Bill C-35. It has taken the government two years to get the legislation before the House.

In conclusion, basically the government has our support.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell a story to the House about a small company in my constituency. It is called Bed-Roc Industries, a medium size company. It had to fight against an American competitor that used to dump tiles in B.C. and Alberta. It was selling specific tiles at a price which was undercutting Bed-Roc's price, selling at a very low price to outbid Bed-Roc.

It fought against the American company. It went through the International Trade Tribunal. After many years of battle it won the case and was compensated for the injuries it suffered.

Small and medium size businesses suffer because the bigger companies dump some of their products in our market and it is difficult for the smaller companies to survive. Very few companies go to the tribunal and go through the lengthy process to save the jobs they create in this country.

Under this Bill C-35 I am wondering if we are looking at the long term implications of the amendments. How will the changes to be implemented affect business in the agriculture sector?

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The difficulty is we have passed questions and comments and we are on debate. Perhaps there would be consent to allow the hon. member for Okanagan—Shuswap to resume the floor to answer this question. Is that agreed?

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately I did not catch the question. I thought that time had passed and I got on with something else.

I hope it will address the member's concerns. If not, I am sure we will be back before the House screaming and hollering, there is no doubt about that.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

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

(Bill C-59. On the Order: Government Orders)

November 30, 1998—Second reading and reference to Standing Committee on Finance of Bill C-59, an act to amend the Insurance Companies Act.

Insurance Companies Act
Government Orders

December 7th, 1998 / 1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussion among the parties. I believe that you would find unanimous consent to order, without debate, that Bill C-59 be forthwith referred to the Standing Committee on Finance pursuant to Standing Order 73(1).