House of Commons Hansard #178 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was flag.

Topics

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is my understanding that members on either side of the House have to address the motions that are on the floor. Would you please invite the member to do so.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sure that the hon. member for Skeena is going to address the 21 amendments that are before the House at this time. I am sure he was just warming to a theme.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is indeed the case. I am amazed. My friend across the way must be blessed with ESP to know what I was going to say as I just rose.

I have to relate this bill to other things the minister has done to show the arrogance and the egotistical approach she has to her job. I can talk about the MMT, the GST, the flag giveaway, and as my colleague mentioned the $98,000 for a book on dumb blond jokes, which incidentally was just before she had her hair dyed. She demonstrates little concern for the economic wreckage she leaves behind her with all of these initiatives. This bill is a case in point.

The minister professes to care about national unity. She professes to care about keeping Canada together. Then she introduces a piece of legislation such as Bill C-48 which I suggest is going to do more to divide and anger Canadians than anything the minister has done before. We will see the fruits of her labour not too far down the road.

What is amazing is that the Prime Minister continues to let the heritage minister prance around without a leash leaving unpleasant little surprises for us all over the place.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. This is probably the toughest afternoon I have ever had in my life listening to the nonsense from across the way, but when it degenerates to personal insults directed at members of the House I am amazed that the Chair tolerates that.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair is mindful that members do sometimes make personal comments. While some may regard them as in poor taste, I do not think that intervention by the Chair is required unless the comments are unparliamentary. I have not heard comments that under the rules appear to be unparliamentary. A matter of taste is a matter of taste and I leave members to exercise their own restraint.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Reform members seem to be the main ones who are trying to shed some light on the problems of the bill. We are continually being interrupted. Could I suggest that perhaps it might be in order if the hon. member across the way has so much to say that he take a place on the speaking rotation instead of interrupting.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I think the comments on both sides are indicative of the fact that perhaps there is not complete agreement on all the terms of the bill. The Chair is not in a position to adjudicate on what I regard as perhaps not well taken points of order or questions of privilege.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, it would be easier for us on this side and certainly easier for me to proceed with my intervention and to keep the personal comments to a minimum if my colleagues on the other side were not engaging in this kind of heckling in debate.

The case before us is really important. Canada's trade with the United States is huge. Eighty per cent of our trade is with the United States. We need them and they need us. It is a very important trade relationship. We need them very badly.

The magazine issue as an economic matter does not even register on the scales in terms of economic importance. It is not important in terms of our economy. Issues like steel, softwood lumber and other trade relationships that we have are vital to the future of the country and vital for the province I come from and vital for the constituents I represent. We have a huge trade in softwood lumber with the United States.

By introducing this bill, the minister is indicating that she is willing to put at risk those jobs and those industries and that trade relationship for the sake of her ego. It is irresponsible in the extreme. She is willing to put our entire trade relationship with the United States at risk over an issue that does not even register on the scales economically. Someone should run out and buy the minister a calculator. She should become acquainted with the numbers and maybe then she would pause and change her mind.

The minister and the government show so much concern for magazines. If the Liberals are that concerned about the trade relationship with the United States and protecting Canadian businesses, why do they not do something about fish?

The people in my riding particularly from the Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Island areas are in deep trouble because of our trade relationship and because of the fact that the government has been totally ineffective at negotiating any kind of an agreement with the Americans on the Pacific salmon dispute. It was totally ineffective in even bringing up the issue, and totally ineffective in even trying to make this a priority because the Liberals do not consider it to be a priority.

When it comes to magazines, oh yes it is a national issue but when it is Pacific salmon, that is a regional issue, a B.C. issue. It does not matter. It does not register on their scales, or the minister's scales.

Where is the concern for the sports fisherman, the aboriginal fisherman and the commercial fishermen who have lost their livelihoods? That is a heritage issue. These people, particularly in the commercial industry, have lost and are in the process of losing a way of life because of government inaction and inability or unwillingness to deal with that very crucial issue.

The province I come from does a tremendous amount of trade with the Americans on softwood lumber. I cannot begin to say how many communities in my riding, never mind businesses, depend on trade in softwood lumber for their sustenance, for their livelihoods. Families depend on a paycheque so they can make their mortgage payments, buy groceries, put their kids through school and have some kind of future.

The minister is willing to put that at risk over an issue that does not even register on the economic scale. The minister is willing to put at risk thousands of jobs in the steel industry in Ontario over an issue that does not even register on the economic scale. The minister is willing to put her ego and agenda ahead of the best interest of Canadians. I am frankly appalled.

I look at my colleagues across the way. They just do not understand that real lives and futures are on the line. If they would choose to venture out of Ontario and come to my riding in northern British Columbia they would see for themselves the economic devastation that northern communities in British Columbia have faced over the last couple of years. Then maybe they would not be so quick to criticize.

We see window dressing action on the part of the minister that is designed to try to persuade Canadians she is concerned about our country and out there doing something. She is really out there attempting to exacerbate the problems my constituents already have in the industries in which they are employed.

I understand the heritage minister being this way because she has demonstrated a track record in this regard for a long time. What I cannot understand is how her caucus, her fellow cabinet and the Prime Minister will let her continue with putting at risk hundreds of millions of dollars of trade with the United States every year over an issue which basically does not even register on the economic scale and is not important to most Canadians. I frankly do not think most Canadians are concerned about the issue the minister is trying to address. I am appalled that the minister is willing to put everything else on the line over this issue.

If the heritage minister and the government were really serious about standing up for Canada's interest, they would get off this issue which for most Canadians does not even register and address some other issues like softwood lumber and Pacific salmon which they have done absolutely nothing meaningful about for five years now, ever since I have been in this place.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I note once again that Liberal members across the way have the opportunity to officially join in this debate at any time but would rather snipe from the sidelines. Of course, that is understandable. They have nothing concrete to add. They have nothing substantive to say so all they can do is hurl little insults or stand there and nod like drinking birds. It is kind of interesting. If they had something to say I am sure the Canadian public would listen, but as it is they have already declared the merit of the bill by their silence.

Let us look at what is really happening with the bill. I have just completed a round of town hall meetings in my riding. I have talked about how legislation works in the House. I have explained that only the government writes legislation and that sometimes it writes good legislation which we support. In fact we work with them to get it through the House as quickly as possible because it might be long overdue.

Sometimes the government comes out with legislation that has some merit, but we think it could be a little better so we propose amendments. Sometimes the legislation is bad, really bad, and we say we will fight it unless the government agrees to fix it up. Every now and again it comes out with some legislation that is so bad it is absolutely unfixable. We are close to that with this one.

There is actually one more category. Every now and again it comes out with legislation that just does not make sense. We fight it if it is bad. We may not agree with it but at least we understand where the government is coming from. However, every now and again it comes out with something that just makes no sense at all.

Should we try to come up with some Machiavellian reason as to why it might come out with such legislation? Let us look at the legislation before us. We are only talking about two big corporations that stand to have any possible benefit. The rest of the publishers in the country are asking what it is doing.

Why would the government do that? It was not overly rich back in pre-1993 but it got all kinds of contributions from big corporations. I wonder if there will be a marker out there after its slides this piece of garbage through the House.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

An hon. member

Do you think so?

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

It is entirely possible that is what this is about. I certainly cannot think of any other reason for it.

The sole speaker, I think it was, on this debate from the Conservative Party raised the issue of dumping. It was an interesting point. That is what the government is claiming. In essence that is what it is claiming the American companies are doing, that they are dumping product.

We do not need legislation for that. We already have it. If that is what it thinks is occurring it should follow the rules that are already in place. If it is not really dumping then it cannot very well follow those rules. There goes another excuse for the Liberal Party.

The Liberals talk in terms of what the Americans are doing in Canada, that they are running Canadian ads in their magazines. Did it ever occur to them that Canadians want to be able to run those ads? That is how they sell to their market. Have they ever thought of the impact on Canadian producers? God forbid, they have enough trouble nowadays with Liberal taxation policies. Now they cannot even advertise their overpriced products, overpriced because they have had to pay so much in taxes and wages trying to keep their employees above the starvation level as the Minister of Finance takes their paycheque away from them. Now they want to take away their ability to advertise in the magazines and publications of their choice. It is absolutely crazy.

Let us look at some of the other potential impacts of the bill. If one walks up to somebody and punches him in the nose he tends to try to defend himself. If the little giant walks up and tries to do something to the United States, guess what it will do? It will defend itself. It will say that we are being unfair to its companies. There are rules in place. If the government thinks they are dumping it should follow them. If it does not have the temerity to follow that route then it is wrong and retaliations start.

What kinds of things will the Americans retaliate on? We have talked about how it might be dumping. The government thinks this is dumping and it needs this action.

In the western part of my riding in the Okanagan Valley lot of orchardists, particularly those growing apples, are going bankrupt. One of the problems they have is real dumping by the American market into the Canadian market. American orchard farmers, apple farmers, have a completely different set of policies to follow and different levels of subsidization so they dump into Canada.

Is the government concerned about that? No. They are little apple orchardists who do not contribute enough to the Liberal Party to merit concern about that kind of dumping. However, a couple of big publications might affect the Liberal coffers so it had better do something. It creates a bogeyman and goes out to save them even though nobody else thinks they are in danger in the first place. It is interesting.

In the softwood lumber industry it has been suggested the Americans may look for some form of retaliation. I come from a forest reliant riding. That is our major employer. We had agreements with the United States and it tried doing the very thing the Canadian government is now talking of doing in the case of this magazine situation. What did we do? We just acquiesced. Maybe that is why they thought the Americans would do that in this case, but they did not acquiesce. They came out with an insane softwood lumber quota system and the government said “Hot damn, where do we sign?”

All kinds of people in my riding have had problems. I have talked to people in the softwood lumber industry about how this started and how they tracked it. When this started they admitted they had no idea of how it was going to work but they just had to do it.

My riding has been hurt by the softwood lumber quota. As if it were not bad enough the way it started, they said here is the quota and here is how it will work. A lot of people were really opposed to it. Some said the government is too weak-kneed to support them in any other way. At least if they got a little stability, even though they would be cut way back, they would know what they could count on.

Every year for the last three years a lot of the big lumber producers in my riding have been cut back further on the softwood lumber quota. They are hanging by their fingernails right now on the verge of shutting down. They are very close to it. We are waiting to see what happens with the quotas coming out in the spring. If there is another cut, it will wreak havoc on the west.

Of course the Liberal Party does not care. That is Reform country so why should it do anything for western companies. Then it has a western tour to try to determine why it does not get any support in the west. We do not have to look very far for the reasons for that.

If there is any threat of retaliation against western lumber producers, it might be the straw that breaks the camel's back and puts them under—

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member but the time for the consideration of Government Orders has expired.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would ask for unanimous consent to dispose of all questions at report stage.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to dispose of the report stage of the bill?

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.