House of Commons Hansard #195 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Discussions and negotiations have been held involving representatives of all parties in the House, and I think that, if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion to travel: I move:

That Group “A”: seven members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and of the Sub-committee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment be authorized to travel to Quebec, Montreal and St. Hyacinthe from March 21-16, 1999;

and Group “B”: seven members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and of the Sub-committee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment be authorized to travel to St. John's, Halifax and Fredericton from March 21-26, 1999 in order to hold public hearings in relation to its examination of Canada's trade objectives and the forthcoming agenda of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and examination of Canada's priority interests in the FTAA process, and that the necessary staff do accompany the committee.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is a question of privilege of which I gave notice prior to question period. It deals specifically with a communiqué released from the Minister of Public Works yesterday, a media advisory that again bypassed the House on a matter of concern to the membership and I would suggest a matter of real concern, namely the costly renovation of Parliament Hill.

The media communiqué announces that the minister has chosen to name the parliamentary building advisory council, a body that will report to the minister and is a creation of the minister and the government. Yet this body has really no mandate from the House.

In particular, the manner in which it has been presented is again very consistent with the government's approach, that is one in which ministerial announcements are made through the media prior to any notice or any meaningful debate on the floor of the House of Commons.

This has become far too regular an occurrence that we see here every day. There is literally no meaningful debate between government ministers and members of the House on these important matters.

The same occurs at the committee level where most ministers rarely appear and, if they do, they do so armed with an army of departmental officials.

I am sure members will agree that this furthers the marginalization of this House with respect to any sort of meaningful interaction between elected members in opposition and ministers of the crown. I am very concerned that this ongoing trend which is being perpetrated by this government continues.

With respect to this particular communique, the minister announced that “The Council will be composed of senior officials from the main stakeholder organizations, including the House of Commons, the Senate, the Library of Parliament” and the other organizations which are mentioned.

The Senate is represented quite ably by the hon. Sharon Carstairs. I have absolutely no objection to her participation. I am sure she will do an excellent job representing the interests of the senators. Yet there is no elected member on this council.

There is no member of the House on Commons on this body and I would respectfully suggest that that is a breach of the privileges of members of this House. There is not one elected official. This should be of concern to every member of this House. A retired table officer representing elected officers is an affront to this House.

I do not say this to belittle in any way the appointments that have been made. In fact these particular individuals are very able, very honourable and long serving members of this Chamber. However, I would again respectfully suggest to the hon. Chair that it is not acceptable to members of the House that we not be permitted to have an elected official on this council. It is simply not acceptable that there not be a member of this House to at least offset the presence of a member of the other place.

This is yet another botched attempt by the minister. It reflects again, quite accurately, the poor relations which exist between the public service and members of this Chamber.

Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to move a motion to refer the matter of the minister's actions to the committee, if you find that there is a prima facie case, and there is no mandate from this House and no one has the right to represent that they may act for members of this House without specific authority from this House. To do so, I suggest, would be contemptible.

It is not up to the minister to determine who represents this House. This may be an appropriate matter to take to the Board of Internal Economy. We have had difficulties with respect to this entire matter in the past. This ongoing trend of communiques to the press prior to announcements being made in this House, I suggest, is similarly very much an affront to the dignity and the privileges that members of this House should come to expect from the government.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect to the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough who raises this question of privilege and in the absence of the minister, I wonder if you might reserve the decision until he has had an opportunity to give his side of the story, if that might be of interest to the Chair.

I can assure the House and particularly the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough that no marginalization was intended by this incident nor by any others previously.

With respect to the question of the dignity and privileges of the House, I think the hon. member who is an officer of the House on the government side, the hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services, has a record which stands well. He is well recognized for his respect of the House and all its membership.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am quite prepared to deal with the matter immediately. The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough has raised two issues.

First, he has alleged some kind of grievance that the minister made an announcement outside the House which, in the view of the hon. member, ought to have been made in the House. While many members might express some sympathy with the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough on that point, I do not think it constitutes a breach of the privileges of members of this House in any way. Indeed it has been a common practice for many, many years.

I can recall sitting in the gallery in the sixties, hearing members making exactly the same complaint. While that is about 35 years ago, I do not think there has been any change. If anything, there are more announcements made outside the House today than there were then.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

That's wrong.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member says it is wrong and we can shed crocodile tears about it, but I am afraid that on that point he does not have a question of privilege.

With respect to the second point the member raised as to the representation of the House on this group—and I noticed he referred to it as an advisory committee—it does not appear that it is a group, by its name anyway, which has any power of decision in respect of the premises of this place.

Once again, as the government House leader has pointed out so ably from his seat, he is advising the minister. In the circumstances, since it is an advisory committee, I do not see how the privileges of any hon. member are impinged upon by the appointment of such an advisory committee, no matter what its membership.

Therefore, I do not feel that the hon. member has raised a question of privilege that I can entertain at this time and I decline to treat it as such. If he wishes to raise the matter, I know he can go to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee and I am sure that the patient chairman of that committee will hear him out.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-55, an act respecting advertising services supplied by foreign periodical publishers, be read the third time and passed.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

March 12th, 1999 / 12:20 p.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is most unfortunate that this government has brought closure to this debate. As we know, there are many members in the House who would like to speak on this matter.

Reform is really the only party that is standing up for working Canadians and for working Canadians who may end up losing their jobs, because we know that Bill C-55 is about putting Canadian jobs at risk.

Previously I had indicated that I would read into the record two letters, one of which was received from the United States Senate. However, there is no time for that, so I will read a couple of paragraphs.

The letter was sent to Charlene Barshefsky, the U.S. trade representative, from the United States Senate and was signed by William Roth, Jr., the chairman, and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the ranking Democrat.

The letter reads:

The effect of the Canadian government's action is twofold. First, if enacted, Bill C-55 would plainly violate the letter and the spirit of the GATT 1994 and the WTO agreement on dispute settlement. The proposed legislation would put U.S. publishers at a distinct commercial disadvantage—a disadvantage that U.S. publishers had a right to expect would be eliminated by virtue of our WTO rights and the Appellate Body's ruling.

Second, it would undermine what many of us viewed, at the time we considered legislation implementing the Uruguay Round agreements, to be the linchpin of the WTO system. It would be ironic if Canada, which has been a leader in promoting a rules-based international trading system, the creation of the WTO, and the current dispute settlement model, were to undermine the benefits of that system for the United States, Canada and other WTO members by blaming the Appellate Body's ruling in this instance.

I would like to read the last paragraph of a letter sent by Charles Rangel, ranking Democrat, and Bill Archer, chairman of the committee on ways and means of the House of Representatives, to our Canadian ambassador to the United States, Mr. Raymond Chrétien.

The letter reads:

Ambassador Barshefsky and her staff have indicated that if the Government of Canada presses for passage of this bill, the United States will retaliate by withdrawing NAFTA trade concessions. While we hope and expect that this issue can be resolved without resorting to such measures, we are committed to ensuring that U.S. publishers have fair access to the Canadian market, just as Canada's publishers do in the U.S. market. Therefore, we strongly oppose C-55 and will support Ambassador Barshefsky's intention to withdraw trade benefits if the bill is enacted.

Surely the banana case in Europe should be an eye-opener for this government. There is a protectionist mood brewing in Washington these days which makes it difficult for the president to get the fast tracked authority he needs for the next round of WTO negotiations for the free trade agreement of the Americas.

The people of this country should know that the last time tariffs were raised during a deflationary period was in the 1930s, prior to the Great Depression. At that time the Smoot-Hawley Act raised tariffs to over 40% on imported industrial goods, adding to already high agricultural tariffs. One nation after another retaliated by raising their own trade barriers. Under the impact of higher tariffs, competitive devaluation and heavy-handed financial controls throughout the world, the flow of international trade shrank drastically in 1931 and 1932. We all know what happened.

We also learned today that the deputy ministers of Canadian Heritage and International Trade are meeting with their counterparts in Washington to stave off retaliation. Why are the deputy ministers of Finance and Industry not involved?

If the government is really serious about the proposals under discussion it should have sent those officials as well. If the government is serious, the involvement of the departments of Finance and Industry are essential.

As we know, the United States' trade representative has at her disposal a powerful weapon for retaliation. That weapon is section 301 of the U.S. trade act. Under this section, the U.S. trade representative can announce a detailed list of areas for trade retaliation with a 30-day period for comment. She can do this when a trading partner presses forward with what she deems unfair trade practice.

The last paragraph indicates that if Bill C-55 is voted on in this House and passed this upcoming Monday, the U.S. trade representative could announce that list on March 15 and retaliation could take effect no later than April 15, which is just over a month away.

The U.S. trade representative also has options under the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement, as well as appeal to the World Trade Organization.

Who in this government will be responsible and accountable if trade retaliations do occur, with billions of dollars involved and with tens of thousands of Canadians losing their jobs?

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today at third reading of Bill C-55, an act respecting advertising services supplied by foreign periodical publishers.

The purpose of this bill is to restrict access to Canada's advertising market to Canadian magazines. The bill would prevent access to the Canadian advertising market by foreign publishers.

It is important to point out, however, that this is not in any way an attempt to prohibit the sale of foreign magazines in Canada. Through Bill C-55, the Canadian government is seeking to protect a cultural sector, in this case, magazines.

The Tassé commission on magazines and Heritage Canada studies have shown that the arrival of split run magazines on the Canadian market would substantially reduce the advertising revenues of Canadian magazines and thus imperil this cultural sector.

The impact on the Quebec market of allowing foreign magazines to supply advertising services would not be as great. The behaviour of Quebeckers in this sector is similar to their behaviour when it comes to television, which is to show a preference for what Quebec produces.

It is true, however, that certain major magazines in Quebec are produced by corporations with large interests in the anglophone sector and that francophone magazines could therefore be hurt indirectly by any weakening of the anglophone market.

The Americans have reacted to the federal government's announcement that it intends to introduce a bill to limit the advertising market to Canadian publishers only by announcing their intention to retaliate with $1 billion worth of measures against the textile, steel and plastics industries, among others. This is of considerable concern to the companies in question.

It must be remembered that total advertising sales of Canadian magazines for 1994-95 were $521 million, of which $385 million was for English language periodicals and $94 million for French language periodicals.

So the Americans are greatly overestimating their potential losses if the measure proposed today were found to be illegal by the WTO and were maintained by Canada, or if it were to become a cultural protection measure under NAFTA, which would entitle the United States to impose compensatory measures if Canada decided to maintain it after such a decision.

Since some of our industries do fear U.S. reprisals, it would be worthwhile determining exactly what mechanisms govern the international trading rules. This is all the more important because there are new developments in this area daily.

At the present time, a trade dispute is going on between the Americans and the European Union in connection with bananas. What is pitting the one against the other involves aspects which might cast some light for us on this periodicals issue.

The U.S. laid a complaint before the World Trade Organization claiming that the European Union was giving its former colonies a preferential tariff in the banana market, contrary to the WTO agreements. The WTO decided for the U.S. in this matter, so the European Union re-examined its measures in order to bring them into line with the international trade rules.

The United States reaction to implementation of the European measure was to impose reprisals against Europe under section 301 of the Trade Act, which allows the Americans to impose trade sanctions on behalf of companies whose business has suffered a negative impact from any such measure.

The European Community is appealing the very existence of this section 301 before the WTO and, according to reports, Canada will be taking the side of Europe before the international tribunal. It will, therefore, be highly informative to see how the WTO interprets section 301 of the American Trade Act. It will also be interesting to see how the WTO dispute settlement panel will rule on the dispute over bananas between the United States and Europe.

Canada too passed a measure, Bill C-103, to protect its periodical sector, and the WTO considered it illegal. Canada complied with the decision of the international panel by withdrawing the legislation. Bill C-55 is, in the opinion of government experts, legislation that will protect this sector and comply with international trade rules.

Obviously, everything must be done to avoid trade wars that benefit no one. The Bloc congratulates the Minister of Canadian Heritage's initiative in proposing this amendment, which provides that the bill will come into force under an order in council.

This legislative provision demonstrates the good faith of the federal government in its negotiations with its American colleagues, and the Bloc Quebecois strongly hopes that American trade representatives seize the olive branch tendered.

Basically, the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill because it is part of the legislative and regulatory framework necessary to protect cultural diversity. Although the measure involves trade, its effect is to protect a cultural sector, that of magazines.

In its statement in support of the bill, the Association of Canadian Broadcasters expressed very clearly its concern that, if Canada were to lose the battle on this issue, of little financial consequence to the Americans, the defeat would mean the beginning of the end of Canadian and Quebec measures to promote culture. It would be the first of a series of measures that would bring the Americans to use their human and financial resources to dismantle Canadian rules on content, on property and on direct and indirect support by the state to the cultural sector. These rules are deemed by the Americans to be harmful to their entertainment industry.

Many observers believe that if Americans are targeting the Canadian magazine sector, it is because their real objective is a different one. This is very obvious. They are acting in this fashion primarily to alleviate the concerns of their voters, who are worried about their very unfavourable trade balance. Many Americans also think that the United States is the loser in the free trade agreement signed first with Canada and then with Mexico.

Moreover, let us not forget that the American entertainment industry has never accepted the cultural exemption included in the free trade agreement and then in NAFTA.

Considering that audiovisual exports rank second in the United States, and that Hollywood producers are major contributors to the election fund of the Democratic Party, it is easy to see why American trade policy officials are condemning Canadian cultural policies so strongly.

Americans may also be targeting the upcoming negotiations of the World Trade Organization, which are scheduled to begin in November, in Seattle. They want France in particular to understand that there is no question of another stunt like the one it almost pulled off during negotiation of the WTO services accord when, because of its insistence that there be a clause in the accord to exclude audiovisual products, negotiations ended without culture being included.

Furthermore, Charlene Barshevsky, the U.S. trade secretary, told Congress in January that the United States' goal with respect to international trade with Canada is access for American magazines to the Canadian advertising market and to other entertainment media or industries on the Canadian market.

The Americans want to see the entertainment sector included in the WTO millennium accords negotiated next fall.

Bill C-55 allows them to get their message across to the world.

However, they already occupy a large part of the world's culture and communications sector. The following is taken from the report of the cultural industries sectoral advisory group on international trade:

In fact, foreign competition dominates the Canadian cultural market. Foreign businesses and products account for 45% of book sales in Canada; 81% of English language consumer magazines on newsstands and over 63% of magazine circulation revenue;

It goes on:

—79% of the retail sales of tapes, CDs, concerts, merchandise and sheet music; 85% of the revenues from film distribution in Canada;

We are talking about $165 million. I continue:

—between 94% and 97% of screen time in Canadian theatres; in fact, it is here that the situation is worst, for Hollywood studios have always treated Canada as though it were part of the American market.

Some people like the former Minister for International Trade have claimed that, in view of a major expansion in cultural exports from Canada, protectionism is no longer in order and we should go ahead and open our borders and review our cultural policies.

But, as the working group on cultural industries of the foreign affairs department has remarked, and rightly so:

If a culture is to prosper, it needs a distribution network and an investment infrastructure. It should also provide a stimulating environment for creators and artists.

Robert Pilon, the vice-president for public affairs of the Association québécoise du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo, put it more simply at the meeting held in Montreal a few days ago on the Canadian cultural policy “In any economics 101 course, you learn that, before you can export, you have to be able to produce”.

It is this creative capacity that needs to be protected and nurtured in Quebec and in Canada. That does not mean we should refrain from making major investments in the means that the cultural industries in Quebec and Canada need to get a larger share of world markets.

But if we give in now to American pressures, we run the risk of becoming more vulnerable, with the direct consequence that all industries in Quebec and Canada, cultural or otherwise, will be more fragile. We would be left to wonder what the next target would be.

Where culture and communications are concerned, Quebec and Canada hold similar views. Both states are of the opinion that every effort must be made to ensure total freedom for their cultural policies.

It is a pity, however, that in Canada imposing a Canadian identity and culture takes precedence over defending the cultural interests of Quebec and of Canada. Thus the federal government boasts about its lead role in promoting the concept of cultural diversity in the world, yet is unable to recognize the culture of Quebec and to give it pride of place beside that of Canada, both domestically and in other countries.

Instead of the Canadian government bringing all of its human and financial resources to bear on the importance of including a cultural exemption clause in upcoming international trade agreements, thus acknowledging Quebec, which shares its views on this, as a valuable ally in this battle which is far from over, it chose not to allow it to take part in last June's meeting of ministers of culture in Ottawa.

The following is what Lise Bissonnette, former editorial writer for Le Devoir , had to say on July 3, 1998 about the attitude of the Minister of Heritage:

To reduce Quebec to cultural silence while pretending, in empty resolutions in the House of Commons, and in the opportunistic Calgary declaration, that its “culture” lends it a unique character, is to be afraid of one's own shadow—

Allocating special status to Quebec would not even have created a precedent, because it has been acknowledged as a “participating government” for some fifteen years within international francophone organizations, with the agreement of Canada.

It is understandable that France would decline to be represented in Ottawa, when Iceland was given the recognition denied to Quebec. There are limits to how ridiculous things can be allowed to get. If the international network of states is to take concrete form, and move beyond mere empty words, the concept of cultures must be based on reality, not on unrealities such as these.

The credibility of the Canadian government is weakened by its irrational fear of Quebec, and major changes in strategy are called for, if it is to have the credibility to play a lead role.

Instead of changing its attitude and recognizing Quebec culture and its representative, however, the federal government has gone still further this week along the path of ridicule, by refusing to take part in a working session organized by Paris—

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

The debate is still on Bill C-55. Is that correct?

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I must ask the hon. member for Longueuil to focus her remarks as much as possible on Bill C-55, which is before the House today.