House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was research.

Topics

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

11 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

moved:

That this House strike a special parliamentary committee with the specific objective of considering the repercussions of the globalization of economies on governments' autonomy in preserving social cohesiveness.

Madam Speaker, I am most anxious to have an opportunity to speak to day. I have alerted my colleagues to the fact that, at the end of this hour of debate, they will have to reach a decision, one that I consider quite important.

I would remind my colleagues that during the debate I will be providing them with a copy of the letter I sent to them last Wednesday explaining the situation. The topic of today's debate is of such importance to me that, on April 20, 1998, I took the risk of laying my position as an MP on the line, in order to make the public aware of the need for a public debate on the issue addressed in today's motion.

When I carried my chair away with me, hon. members will recall that I did so in order to provoke a debate on society's ability to reduce the gap between rich and poor within a context of global markets. Hon. members are aware, moreover, that this situation seems to be getting worse. Poverty is quietly but constantly increasing, while at the same time the economy is growing without seeming to have any impact on society.

My concern about this widening gap between rich and poor is based on the threat this represents to social cohesion. I would remind hon. members that social cohesion is the feeling of solidarity that unifies all people regardless of their social and economic status.

Last Wednesday, we celebrated—although celebrated hardly seems to be the appropriate term—the tenth anniversary of parliament's choice to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. After a decade, after ten whole years, what has become of this? Poverty has not even remained at the same level; it has increased. Is it a matter of political will? I hope not, since the House has said it wanted to eliminate this poverty. Is it a matter of political power? That is the question. Are there certain phenomena that take away governments' autonomy? The question needs to be asked.

With political power being national, and the laws we pass here being national, it is high time we realized that we are living in a period of great change, as the economy is becoming a global one. This is to be expected since in recent decades, thanks to technological developments, access to transportation and telecommunications is improved, thus reducing distances and opening the door to incredible possibilities, including that of trading with the rest of the world, which is now accessible to us.

Trade and the economy are being globalized and the production of wealth is increasing. These new approaches are not, however, without consequence. There are positive aspects as well as more negative ones. Would it, for example, be realistic to think that national tax rules established by national governments are increasingly difficult to apply in a global economy? I am not the only one to think so, since the former secretary general of the OECD, Kimon Valaskakis, said the following in La Presse on October 29:

The principle of redistribution is at the very heart of ordinary social policy in a country and is expressed in fiscal terms. But since globalization, redistribution is much more difficult to put into practice. On the national level, it imposes a fairly high social cost. The need to compete forces governments to reduce their payroll taxes and thus their capacity to redistribute wealth, which in turn increases inequities rather than reducing them.

There is another vital issue and that is the fact that we have gone from an industrial economy to an economy 90% of which is controlled by speculation, distorting to some degree the global financial market as in the cases of the recent financial crises in Mexico, Asia, Brazil and Russia. There seem to be economic problems in terms of redistribution, but not in terms of the creation of wealth. Are international authorities continuing to respond to the needs of the people in these instances? Does parliament, our national authority, continue to meet the needs of the people?

In short, a lot of questions and issues remain to be analyzed, since, whether we want it or not, globalization is here and growing. And, whether we like it or we do not, we cannot ignore it.

This is why it is important to understand in order to act. Right now certain things are becoming global, while others are not, and this creates an imbalance.

Globalization may be unavoidable, but the way to achieve it is not. It is still, I hope, under the control of democracies. It is up to us to shape it, and this is why we must hold a public debate to help everyone, particularly us parliamentarians, get a better grasp of what is going on.

This is why I am in favour of establishing a process to consult civil society, a means of thinking about this whole issue. With a committee, we will have the benefit of the public's views.

I am not alone in this belief. This idea does have support. Over 50,000 people across the country—and not all from my riding—signed the petition asking that a committee be struck, asking that their elected representatives simply look at certain issues. These 50,000 people are not asking for extraordinary tax measures or for new legislation. They are asking us their elected representatives to do our job. They are asking us to reflect on the changes that we are currently experiencing. This idea is also supported by over 200 organizations across the country and also, and perhaps more importantly, by one third of the members of this House. Indeed, 100 members of parliament signed this document, asking that the request be treated as a priority item in Private Members Business.

If the signature of these members still means something in this House, it would make sense to deal with this issue in a serious fashion. I should also point out that these 100 members of parliament represent all the parties in this House.

This issue should be treated as a priority. As I said, I am not the only one who holds that view. I am not pro-Senate, like some of my colleagues, but during its study on social cohesiveness, the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology acknowledged that part of the difficulty in addressing this issue is that much basic analytical and empirical work on the consequences of globalization remains to be done.

The committee has concluded that one of the next steps for political leaders is to begin to give some objective consideration to new ways of thinking and doing.

Some members will probably say that there is enough talk about globalization. I admit that it comes up frequently; in fact, at the last meeting of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which dealt with the World Trade Organization, we discussed globalization, except that we came at it strictly from the point of view of trade and economic competitiveness.

So, yes, I think it is a good idea to discuss it from this angle. In fact, I congratulate the committee, which was relatively open to all points of view. However, in the long run, such a study must be accompanied by a more in-depth examination of the social impacts of globalization.

In my view, there cannot be one without the other. They go hand in hand. We are on the eve of a very important day, the beginning of what I would describe as another step towards globalization—the WTO talks. And yet, many people throughout the world right now, including people in Montreal, seem inclined to oppose the talks and to call for a moratorium.

I do not know who is right, but what I do know is that there is a widening gap between our political positions and what society in general thinks and, therefore, striking such a committee would be a useful means of engaging in a collective dialogue, so that we will all be on the same wavelength.

We must take this opportunity and show leadership internationally, because the possible solutions suggested by such a committee could eventually be implemented worldwide.

Besides, would the Minister of Finance, as the chairman of the new G-20, not profit from the establishment of this parliamentary committee, since he could benefit from the expertise provided by the representatives of the civil society who would come before the committee to be heard? This form of consultation is in direct agreement with the goals of the G-20 countries which, I remind the hon. members, are committed to making every effort needed to turn the benefits of globalization into increased incomes and better opportunities for their peoples.

We have a problem here today. In spite of the obvious support from the population and the parliamentarians, in spite of the fact that the motion and the issue have never been more topical, and in spite of the fact that the motion meets all the criteria for the selection of votable items, because of outdated, anachronistic, outmoded and ill adapted parliamentary procedures, Motion M-41 was not selected as a votable item on account of prerogatives related to quotas and random draw.

Clearly, if we cannot vote on the motion, it will automatically be dropped from the Order Paper. This would be like throwing it in the trash can. I do not want to put the parliamentary system on trial today, but I do know that a good many members realize that a reform of this institution would be a good thing. But this is not the issue.

What is important is that, even now, members present in the House have the opportunity to reverse this decision. We have the opportunity to correct this technical incident simply by supporting my request for unanimous consent.

I will first listen what my colleagues present here have to say. Meanwhile, I will send them a copy of the letter that I sent them last Wednesday, on the 10th anniversary of the motion on poverty. If, because of a translation problem, they were unable to understand everything I said, I hope they will read it.

During the last five minutes, when I avail myself of my right to reply, I will try to answer my colleagues and I will also ask for the unanimous consent of the House to allow two more hours of debate on this motion, because it deserves further examination. I will ask that it be deemed votable, so we can, as members of parliament, do our duty, which is to make decisions. It is sad that members of parliament sometimes deprive themselves of the power to make decisions and to vote.

In short, my goal today is not to condemn the parliamentary system. I have other colleagues, especially the member for Longueuil, who are considering that issue.

What is important is to be aware of the social changes we are experiencing. I am not the only one to say this. The Senate report says this. Petitioners say this. Parliamentarians and experts from all over say this. I could go on for another hour about all the people who have expressed support for this motion.

I want the House to prove to me that we can save face in this parliament. Prove to me that there is still democracy in this country. I want the House to prove to me that this authority, the parliament, can still respond to the current expectations and the expectations of the citizens. It is as if everyone in an olympic stadium were asking us to take an issue into consideration.

I will listen to what my colleagues have to say and then I will ask them a question.

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean for raising this issue, which is of the utmost importance to all Canadians. Increasingly, the world's economy is becoming a global one. International trade is increasing in a phenomenal manner.

Never in the history of the world has foreign investment been so important, nor has it ever moved as quickly as during the 1990s. Canada being a small country with an open economy, a significant percentage of which is trade-related, it is obviously affected by this economic and financial change.

Globalization poses many challenges, one of which the hon. member rightly knows, and that is the government's capacity to promote social cohesion. Social cohesion has been a research priority of the government for some time, consistent with the need to understand well the changing world around us.

A great deal of research on this issue has already been published by the policy research initiative, PRI, a network of government departments and Canadian academics established by the government in 1996 to identify and address issues likely to affect Canadian society in the near future.

Globalization offers great opportunities for growth and prosperity for smaller economies like Canada's. They will be given access to domestic markets much larger than their own, providing a level of prosperity through export that is not attainable without trade. At the same time consumers gain access to goods and services from around the world at a lower cost than would otherwise be possible. Canada is a leader in international trade and prospers because of it. Our outward orientation as measured by two way trade and investment flows has risen dramatically.

In addition, Canada exports as well as imports large amounts of capital. For instance, in 1998 the inward and outward foreign direct investment stocks accounted for 24.2% and 26.8% of Canadian GDP respectively, a significant increase from levels only 10 years earlier. Canadians benefit from this increased capital movement as capital exports allow Canadians to get the highest returns on their investments while capital imports provide employment and fuller use of our resources.

In particular, our trade and economic integration with the United States, our largest trading partner by far, has increased dramatically. Net exports to the United States have made a very important contribution to the near 3% average annual real output growth and the over 1.3 million jobs created in Canada in the last five years. Furthermore, our continued strong trade performance is one reason the International Monetary Fund expects Canada to lead in employment growth and to have the second fastest output growth in the G-7 in 1999 and 2000.

Yet at the same time the rapidity of technological change is bringing people from all parts of the globe closer together, so much so that the competition for markets, for material and human resources and for activities relating to innovation and technology will be more and more keen.

Consequently, in order to reap the potential benefits of these new technologies and of trade in general, businesses and governments will need to be extremely competitive and to handle the challenges of the intense international competition and the pressures in favour of structural adjustment in the right way.

International harmonization of trade related policies is a key element in facilitating fair competition and promoting highly competitive and well managed firms. It underpins economic integration and helps to establish the framework needed for expanding economic relations and increased commercial opportunities.

Harmonization of policies that affect trade can be of great benefit to Canada as it promotes fairer competition and contributes to increased competitiveness in industry and greater access to foreign markets. However, pressure to harmonize policies in these areas also raises concerns about government autonomy in areas of social policy. Or, stated another way, there are some who fear that the only way we can remain competitive with countries such as the U.S. is to accept U.S. style social policies and inequalities.

Canada has continued to maintain social policies that are substantially different from those of our largest trading partner. Canada has invested more than a century in building a social infrastructure that today is considered among the best in the world. The system of social support includes universal medicare, more generous safety nets and job training support than those available in the U.S.

By protecting and improving our social programs we may attract foreign investment, not drive it away. The relatively lower cost of the Canadian medicare system in particular and features of the unemployment insurance system, together with Canada's supportive system of social services and well run cities and municipalities, have historically been a locational competitive advantage for Canada. Thus, if pressure to harmonize social policies exist, it may be on other countries to match those of Canada.

This is not to say that Canada does not face some serious structural challenges. However, it does suggest that if we approach these challenges with imagination and vision we can ensure that global economic integration does not mean sacrificing what it means to be Canadian. Developing this vision is a responsibility that the government takes very seriously.

That is why the policy research initiative, PRI, was launched in 1996 by the government. The initiative brings together over 30 federal departments and agencies, as well as a number of leading Canadian academics.

As a result, the PRI has provided parliament and Canadians in general with informed advice on a large number of multi-faceted questions, in detailed reports, public reports and minutes of meetings, all of which are available to the public via the Internet, as well as to all hon. members of this House.

Two key issues the PRI is currently looking at relating to globalization and social cohesion are what will be the effects of pressures toward regulatory convergence over time, specifically how will this affect such issues as tax and environmental policy, health care and pensions, and how the FTA and NAFTA has affected Canadian autonomy and sovereignty in particular with respect to policy making capacity.

The analysis of the impact of globalization on social cohesion has been further strengthened by the work of the social cohesion network, one of four networks established under the PRI umbrella. This virtual network of electronically linked researchers was set up to assess the state of social cohesion in Canada. This social cohesion network has found that a certain measure of social cohesion is conducive to investment, both foreign and domestic. It has also found that social cohesion can increase productivity.

The PRI has therefore established that the combined effects of globalization and our social cohesion might have a somewhat positive impact on Canada.

The PRI work is shedding light on how government can support social cohesion. In the context of the global knowledge based economy, government increasingly must make a strong effort to explain its new role as facilitator and as an enabling partner with other sectors of society and to act as a non-financial broker of ideas and unifying national projects.

Based on the evidence to date and with the continuing work, I do not believe that a standing committee on globalization, government autonomy and social cohesion is required at this time. The all party parliamentary business committee, the subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Procedures and House Affairs, determined that this motion should be non-votable.

I applaud the member for Lac-Saint-Jean.

He was elected at the same time I was. I congratulate him on his motion.

It is because of the reasons I have stated. Although this initiative is very important and I congratulate him, I would ask that the House not support this motion being votable.

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion by the member for Lac-Saint-Jean. His motion deals with the repercussions of globalization on economies of the world and certainly the concept of preserving social cohesiveness in the countries so affected.

The hon. member does not seem to be entirely in favour of globalization in his motion. He uses as his example the motion passed in parliament in 1989 regarding the eradication of child poverty. The Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives have both been in government since that date. I note that child poverty has been raised in the House and is now considered to be a more serious issue than it was even at that time.

The problem solving of those two governments has ended with them blaming others and now blaming globalization for the failure of their domestic policies on child poverty. I would hope that in the future that we will have another debate on child poverty. The Reform way of dealing with major issues like that one and social issues which have a domestic solution to them is to set out clear and concise steps that can be taken, are measurable and will result in a solution.

Many people are throwing around the term globalization. I think there is an unclear concept of what is globalization. Special interest groups, for instance the Council of Canadians, have a very closed concept of what globalization should mean. To them it seems like globalization means that Canada should have rules in the world for other nations to follow, that Canada should be able to protect its national interest and be relatively isolationist if it cannot dictate rules to other people. That way Canada would be able to protect its civil society and its concept of how the world should be run. It is the concept of government knows best, which is a detraction from free trade in the world.

My definition of globalization is simply that it is the interaction of people of different nations in all aspects of the human existence, which would include trade as one of the major components.

Globalization is neither inherently good nor bad. It is simply a fact. Globalization has been with us since the beginning of man in Africa many millions of years ago. Globalization is, as I said, most obvious in the trade of goods and services between nations. The most successful nations of the world have always been those which are successful in trading with their neighbours.

Since the second world war there have been eight rounds of world trade talks. The talks which are beginning in Seattle represent the ninth round. We can only hope that those talks will be successful.

The first half of this century saw two world wars. At that time trade and empires were built on the foundation of force. The second half of this century has seen no world wars. This is no doubt due in large part to the interaction of nations on an economic level through trade as opposed to the isolationist and self-sufficient concept which many nations have.

North Korea is the best example of the danger to the stability of a region, and ultimately to the whole world, due to its socialistic and isolationist policies. It tried very hard to be self-sufficient without trading. We saw the disaster that has had, not only on the country but on its neighbours, as it felt the need to have missiles instead of trade agreements settle disputes.

I would now like to speak specifically about the agricultural component of our trade talks that are starting in Seattle. Supply management is an important part of Canadian agriculture. Prior to the 1993 conclusion of the Uruguay round, supply management was clearly a domestic industry, not participating in the world trading scene through the use of highly restrictive import quotas. The Progressive Conservatives began the process of trading away the status quo of supply management when they negotiated the changes to import tariffs, designed to be reduced ultimately to zero. The Liberals were part of the final negotiations, and on being elected in 1993, signed the agreement. Both parties have tried to put forth the conception that they will defend supply management to the end. The Liberals in particular have stated this concept. I do not know if farmers really believe that the government's promises will be kept. The Reform Party supports supply management and is unequivocal in telling the government that it is not to reduce our tariffs at a rate faster than the U.S. and the EU reduce their protectionist measures of the supply management sector, in particular the dairy sector.

I note that this motion seems to have two components. I think that one part of the motion certainly has some merit in the idea that a committee should be struck to look at the impacts of the fur trade, for example, and the whole globalization issue and the interaction of peoples around the world. I think it would be good for parliament to have such a committee.

However, I am concerned that the real purpose of this motion is to block further gains at the next round of World Trade Organization talks. We can only look at what is happening in Seattle at this very moment. Apparently there are in the neighbourhood of 50,000 protesters at the talks who have the stated goal of disrupting and ending the talks. Certainly the David Suzuki-type environmentalists are there. The Council of Canadians with its socialist activities is going to have it its way or no way. I think the world should simply look at these groups and say “You folks have had your say, but you are not going to have your way and impose your concept of trade on the whole world”. I am sure that is where it will end and that saner heads will prevail.

It has been stated many times in the past that Canada is a trading nation. Statistics tell us that 43% of Canada's gross domestic product is earned from trade exports. In the U.S. the percentage of trade is 12% of its gross domestic product. This means that we in Canada rely to a greater extent on trade than many other nations. As a result, the Seattle talks of the World Trade Organization are of great importance.

I am certainly pleased to see that China has agreed to become part of the world trade talks and that other countries have welcomed it. As I stated earlier, the danger of not having every country involved in these talks is great.

Our farmers are currently in the middle of an income crisis. The primary cause of this crisis is the subsidies of the European Union and the United States which cause the overproduction of many commodities. European wheat farmers, for example, receive 56% of their income from government and in the U.S. it is around 38%.

Reform's position on agriculture in the next round of WTO talks, to put it succinctly, is that we want to allow Canadian farmers and the Canadian food industry to reach their full potential. We will vigorously seek to free entry of Canadian products into foreign markets. That is what we are pressing the government to do. We should accept nothing less than having subsidies in other countries reduced. That will have the effect of lowering production around the world of certain commodities, in particular export grains. With that lower production prices will go up and our farmers will have the level playing field that is so important to our economic well-being.

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

Madam Speaker, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to participate in the debate today. As we debate the issues of globalization here in the House of Commons, trade meetings are being held on the west coast of North America. We are at a very historic point in the evolution of our economy, our culture and our history.

Let us acknowledge what the WTO is. It is a group of faceless bureaucrats, meeting in secret, carving up the future of our country with no input from the people of Canada.

My good friend from the Reform Party laments the fact that there are 50,000 Canadians in Seattle because they know that the best interests of the people of Canada are not being represented at the table.

Why do we know that? Because we have in the back of our minds as we participate in today's debate the MAI. Right up until the 11th hour, faceless bureaucrats meeting in Europe, in secret, were about to rip apart the sovereignty of our country, along with every other country, until the people stood and said “What on earth is going on over there? Are we as a people, through our government, going to have our hands tied behind our backs when it comes to making future decisions to protect the rights and welfare of Canadians?”

The answer to that was “Absolutely”. There was a massive public reaction across the country. People who identified the issues of the MAI for the first time came out and said “We have got to get off this mad train”. Governments of the world were forced to back off. It was not led by our government, it was led by France, which said that it would not participate any further in the talks if culture was on the table. Canada never said that. At least I did not hear it.

Faceless bureaucrats damn near dealt away the future of our country in Europe just a few months ago. The people of Canada and others across the country rose up in opposition and the politicians, who can hear ballots dropping thousands of miles away, said “Hold it. We have to do a better PR exercise on this”. They backed off and they said “We will be back”, and they will be back in Seattle as of tomorrow morning with the same sort of mentality that the people rejected under the MAI.

Let us face it, when we talk about globalization we are also talking about the impact of the NAFTA. We are extending the provisions of the NAFTA to more than 100 nations. Where do the people of Canada stand on the NAFTA? Do they support the NAFTA? They opposed it under the Mulroney government. They opposed it under the Liberal government. Whenever the people of Canada have had an opportunity to register their view of the North American free trade agreement they have rejected it. Here we are, the NAFTA cheerleaders again, after the government said to the people of Canada that if it was elected it would not proceed with the NAFTA as it was currently written, and it did. The government is saying that the NAFTA deal is so good that it will include all nations of the world.

As we sit here, Sun Belt Water Inc. of southern California is suing the Canadian government for up to $10 billion because we are not interested in exporting our water to the United States. They are suing us because we agreed under the provisions of the NAFTA to such a stupid clause. Is that clause going to be in the next round of the WTO? I do not hear our minister saying that they will get rid of that clause, that they are not going to stand back and let foreign corporations sue the people of Canada because we pass legislation in their best interests.

Where is our trade minister? I know he will be anxious at the WTO to export our health care and education programs. If we export our education programs and our health care, that means we will have to open our borders to foreigners and watch their initiatives in our country. What is fair for the goose is fair for the gander. That is what our trade minister is telling us on the eve of these negotiations.

We have demonstrators from coast to coast to coast saying “We do not want to export our water”. Do we see legislation from the government to close Canada's borders to the export of our fresh water? Not a word.

What about our cultural industries? We have a long list concerning what the government has not done to protect our cultural sector.

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

What are they?

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

My friend asks “What are they?” If he had the courage to ask a single person in a cultural industry, and there are hundreds of thousands, how the government has let down cultural industries, he would be listening for hours to the concerns that legitimate people have.

Our friends in the Bloc say that we have to set up a committee to look into this. It is almost too late, but let us at least go along with that notion. We will support the idea of setting up a committee to look into the impact of globalization. I say to my friends opposite, what evidence do we have of the impact of globalization? Is the world becoming a better place for most people? The answer is no. The gap between those who have and those who have not is drastically expanding, not only around the world but in our own country as well. Never before has the gap between rich and poor in Canada and the United States been greater.

Is this protecting the 1.5 million children living in poverty? The figures are increasing. There are a litany of issues. My friends opposite represent the Government of Canada, which represents the people of Canada. They represent the people of Canada in every nook and cranny of the country. Madam Speaker, that is why we are here, to represent the people of Canada. When we listen to what the people of Canada are telling us today, are they saying “Rush into the World Trade Organization, go to Seattle and hold secret meetings about our future”? They are not saying that at all, but there are some people who are saying that. The elite of the country are saying that. For large corporations, this is their day. So far they are only stuck with Mexico, Canada and the United States. Now they have the opportunity of involving 100-plus other countries in the same deal to enable priorities to take priority over the people of those countries.

Somebody has to be on the side of people. Who is representing the people of Canada? Who is representing the citizens of Canada at these talks, because our government sure as heck is not. I say that because the Liberals are such enthusiastic cheerleaders when it comes to NAFTA. They now want NAFTA to include all of North America and South America. They want to make this a hemispherical deal because it is so good. So good for whom, for the people or for the average citizen?

As we arrived at work on Parliament Hill this morning, we heard on the news that corporations now want to come in and start running private educational facilities. Americans want to come in and start opening up our universities. They are saying that if we subsidize the university and college system in this country, they will consider this to be a major trade barrier. They want us to back off the support for public education. Can anyone imagine that they would want us to back off supporting our colleges, universities and technical and vocational schools across the country.

Somebody has to speak up for the people in the country. I heard members on the other side of the House mumbling about trade this and trade that. My friend in the Reform Party says that we are a great trading nation. Of course we are a great trading nation. We are one of the greatest trading nations in the world. We have been for many decades.

I get so infuriated with the Reform Party. The Reform Party says that we have to have two things. We either have to bow down and pray on the steps of the North America trade agreement or the WTO, or we have to get down on our hands and knees and say that whatever they want they should get. The other one says that we have to build some kind of a wall around Canada.

There is a compromise. We have to protect the human rights of the people of Canada. We have to protect the environment of our government. Why would we not want to do that? Why would we not want to have decent labour laws? My friends in the Reform Party are cheerleaders for child labour if they support this deal. They are supporters of child labour because that is part of the trading situation in the world.

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. While I am sure all of Canada is enjoying the theatrics of the member from Kamloops, he is absolutely misrepresenting-

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I am afraid we are falling into debate right now.

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

Madam Speaker, they call this passionate feeling for the people of Canada theatrics because they do not have any bloody passion in their caucus. They could not care less about the people of the country. They will sell them out, as will, make no mistake, my friends across the way.

These are the crazy guys. The other people are sort of the sheep in wolves' clothing. They say that they are concerned about education, health care and the environment, but their actions betray them. They are not. They could not care less.

Somebody in the House has to say that we have to look closely at this whole issue of globalization. What will it do to the future of our country? What will it do to our sovereignty? What will it do to the average man, woman and child in the country? We have to ask these questions.

My friend in the Bloc says that we should form a committee and look into this. I hear others saying that they are not interested in that. I know why they are not interested. It is because they know damn well that if the people of Canada find out what the WTO will actually do to the average person in the country it will not be supported. They did not support the free trade agreement. They did not support NAFTA and they do not support the way the WTO is being introduced. I do not apologize for speaking passionately in favour of supporting the people of this great country.

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, I have discussed with the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean, and I find it unfortunate that we are not always talking about this motion as he has moved it. People are using the conference this week in Seattle as a pretext to talk about the pros and cons of globalization.

The important thing is not whether we are for or against globalization, but that we look at the impact of globalization. That is the whole point in the motion of the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean.

Globalization is a very important phenomenon, and it is having major impacts on the lives of all Canadians and on all businesses in Canada.

The importance of that phenomenon cannot be overstated. The positive impact, and certainly the negative impact also, is in the tens of billions of dollars. Can we have a standing committee to assess this impact on an ongoing basis?

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade suggested greater openness as well as public consultations. So, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean went around with his form to get members to sign. He collected 100 signatures, including some from the other side. Liberal members are signing, saying “No problem. We want to encourage young people who have good ideas”. But when the time comes to seek unanimous consent, we will see what their signatures are worth. They are not worth a cent, not even a Canadian cent. And it is worth even less than an American cent.

They are saying “We want to support the young member who left with his chair last year. It is important”. But among those who signed the request from the member for Lac-Saint-Jean, not one will rise. These Liberals are not even making good their own signature. It does not look good for Seattle.

What we are saying is that people should be involved. We are in favour of globalization. Everybody is in favour of opening up Canada, but there are ways to go about it. Free trade with the United States was, for the most part, a good thing. But it had negative as well as positive effects. Do we know what they were? Are able to find solutions?

Changes were made to employment insurance. We said “Let us create a transitional job creation fund because to counteract of the negative effects of the EI reform”. Could the same be done for globalization? We are in favour of that.

The NDP member spoke about water exports. Maybe we should ask ourselves questions. Wars are waged on this planet for control over drinking water. In the negotiations, could our political sovereignty here in Canada be maintained?

We are in favour of opening up Canada to the world. We cannot live in complete isolation. It is impossible. When we are asking for openness and consultation with what is commonly referred to as civil society, we have examples.

Canada has just signed a trade agreement with China. Not with any little place in the world, but with China. Nobody in the House knows what was negotiated. We have just signed an agreement with China, the most densely populated country in the world. China needs the support of a certain number of countries to be able to join the WTO. This issue has never been debated in this House.

I asked the Minister for International Trade “Why do you not take this opportunity to talk about the environment and human rights?” He answered “No, no, no, this is a trade issue”. If trade can help to promote human rights, that would be acceptable.

There are examples like these that we find very disturbing, even though we are open to the world. No other party is more open to the world than our own. Quebecers are also very open minded. Quebec is one of the provinces most open to the world. Canada is one of the countries that is most open to the world. But we must not be dense and compromise on all kinds of issues. We have to know what is going on.

If a lot of Canadians take part in demonstrations in Seattle, it means something. It means that there is no way to show the other side of the coin in the Parliament of Canada. There is no permanent process to do so. Could it be done?

At stake are hundreds of billions of dollars in economic spinoffs everywhere. Could we have a committee? That would not cost too much, I am sure. Could we have one?

There are things that can be negotiated or settled in Seattle. Let me give an example. One of the first countries to join the WTO or GATT was Cuba. Is there free trade between Cuba and the United States? Of course not. Canadian corporations are penalized if they do business with Cuba. Some positive measures could be taken for Canada, Cuba and the United States. We could use that forum to this end.

Right now, agriculture is on the table and it is, of course, a very important issue. We have to settle this problem. At the same time, while we are open to negotiations, we should also share the information with the people we represent.

I am not talking about strategy here. On both sides of the House, there are very capable people who can deal with strategy, and that is a good thing. Perfect. But right now, we have no idea where we are headed.

Did the House get a single official report on the preliminary negotiations in Geneva? People have been arguing for three months now and have been unable to reach an agreement on the agenda for their meeting in Seattle this week.

Three months of work. How many times were we, as parliamentarians, briefed? How many times? Not once. So, members should not be surprised if some people are rather angry. And that is why they are say that they will go to Seattle and voice their disapproval of some points of view and especially of the negotiation process.

They are right, because last Friday, to give the example I mentioned earlier, the minister signed an agreement with China. Absolutely nobody here knew that an agreement was in the works. Just imagine what we will end up with in Seattle. It is not with one briefing in the morning, in Seattle, and another in the evening that we will be well informed. Certainly not.

But what will happen after Seattle? Could we put strike this committee? That would show people we represent that we take globalization very seriously. I submit that it would be easy to strike a standing committee and that it would not cost much.

What the hon. member from Lac-Saint-Jean is asking for is unanimous consent to make the motion votable. That is all. So, may our Liberals buddies on the other side sign on and honour their commitment for once, and we on this side of the House do the same, so that there will be a vote. This is what the member for Lac-Saint-Jean is asking. After that, we will see where people stand on it.

But, what message is the government sending the people of Quebec, of Ontario, and of Canada if it refuses to consider the matter through a vote or even rejects the creation of a standing committee on globalization and its effects?

It is not because they are afraid, but what message are they sending people? Either that globalization is perfect and its effects are purely positive or that the government is so afraid of having its cage rattled by the people in this country it is supposed to represent that the Liberals are saying “No, we do not want to touch that”.

It is time to act, because Canada is becoming increasingly globalized internationally. It is also time to change the committees of this House and strike a standing committee that will examine this issue routinely.

So I invite everyone to give their unanimous support to Motion M-41 by the member for Lac-Saint-Jean.

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, is it not wonderful to see how this simple issue is generating a rather heated debate in which various opinions are being expressed? This is good, in my opinion, because what I am proposing is a non-partisan review committee.

When I left with my seat, I did not tell my party what I was going to do, because I wanted to show members of this House that this was a non-partisan issue. We are fortunate to have here five political parties with various ideologies. Could we not benefit from that situation and get opinions and views from all these sources?

I am the youngest member in this House. Many here know that I wonder what kind of society we will have in 20 or 30 years, when I will be the same age as most members now in this House. I think we have to think about that or, at least, have a vote—this is all I am asking—because we would learn from it. In any case, we will have to think about it, perhaps a few years, but for now we must support this idea.

The issue is not whether we are for or against globalization. The issue is that we must understand it, to be able to act, play a role in the world, propose solutions at the international level. This parliament could exercise such leadership, and it would be fantastic.

This is why no member of this House should go against the will of 50,000 citizens, and possibly many more, because there are many more— This is why I am asking for the unanimous consent of the House to make Motion M-41 a votable item.

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The hon. member is asking for the unanimous consent of the House to make the motion votable. Is there unanimous consent?

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

No.

Globalization Of Economies
Private Members' Business

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the item is dropped from the order paper.