House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was research.

Topics

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP vote no to the motion.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

7:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, members of the Progressive Conservative Party vote yes to the motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 66
Government Orders

April 2nd, 2001 / 7:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill is referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Division No. 66
Adjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on the question that I raised in the House some time ago. It turns out that the timing is excellent.

At the time I was asking the government to recognize that the four Atlantic premiers had sent a letter requesting that the maritime accord be renewed. Day after day the parliamentary secretary and the minister would rise in the House and say that nobody wants the agreements renewed.

However I submitted a letter from the four premiers saying that they did want it renewed. On Thursday those four Atlantic premiers signed another letter asking that the maritime accord be renewed.

The softwood lumber issue is a very serious issue for Atlantic Canada. On Thursday the mills in Atlantic Canada received a seven page fax in the middle of the night stating that the rules were all changed, that they were part of a monitoring system for national exports and that they must comply with this system. When the mill owners came to work on Friday morning there was this whole new regime for them. They had to follow all these new rules and they had to start following them on Monday.

In the meantime the mill owners had to make arrangements with brokers and other organizations to make sure their softwood lumber shipments could continue to the U.S. because it blindsided the whole industry in Atlantic Canada. There was no preparation and there was no warning. Even though the government had five years to get ready for the termination of the softwood lumber accord, it left it to the last day to tell the industry that it had to change the way it operated.

It has implemented a monitoring system so that every stick of lumber from Atlantic Canada to the U.S. has to be registered, certified and kept track of. This is an extension of the system that is already in place in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec which now operate under the softwood lumber agreement. Many people believe, including myself, that by extending those regulations an export tax will be established in Canada. We hope this is not the case. The minister says it is not the case, but everything points to an export tax.

When I asked questions about the issue in question period, the minister stood and said that this was done to record the wall of lumber going from Canada to the U.S. upon the expiration of the softwood lumber agreement. That is not a valid argument because Atlantic Canada always had free trade. If there was to be a wall of lumber it would have been last week, last month or last year.

I do not accept his argument or his reasoning for the monitoring system being applied to Atlantic Canada and being extended from the four SLA provinces.

I would like the minister or the parliamentary secretary to rise and confirm that they know that the four Atlantic premiers have sent two signed letters demanding that the accord be renewed. I would like them to acknowledge that and to commit that they will renew the maritime accord as requested by the four premiers.

Division No. 66
Adjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

London—Fanshawe
Ontario

Liberal

Pat O'Brien Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my colleague, he represents one riding in the Atlantic provinces. The government has to govern for the entire country. Softwood lumber is of great interest to every region of Canada, not just to the Atlantic provinces.

I have no problem in acknowledging the fact that the premiers recently sent a letter. That is a matter of record. With the expiry of the softwood lumber agreement our trade is now under NAFTA rules. The exchange of letters in 1996 confirmed the U.S. recognition that should a countervailing duty investigation be initiated during the five year period of the agreement, the maritimes would be considered not to have subsidized. That will be of some comfort to the hon. member who represents an Atlantic riding.

The United States accepted that the maritimes would be considered not to have subsidized. Our job as a government is to continue to advocate for free trade in softwood lumber, for free access to the U.S. market for every region of Canada, not just the riding and the Atlantic region the member hails from but for every region of Canada where this is vitally important.

This is not an east-west issue. The member and anyone else who plays that game does a disservice to what we are trying to do nationally on this file. This is a north-south dispute; it is not an east-west dispute. Any MP that falls into that trap is making a very big mistake and is not helping the national cause on this file. I would ask my colleague to reconsider that.

This is about market share. Our lumber people have done very well in the United States. It means that we must have achieved too much of the market share for the American appetite as we are up to 34%. This dispute is about protectionism.

The Minister for International Trade has made very clear, we will continue to vigorously defend the Canadian lumber industry. We do not unfairly subsidize and that will be proven once again.

Division No. 66
Adjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if I am happy or not to be rising today on a very serious issue regarding the member for Vancouver Centre, the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism. As we all know, she made some unfortunate remarks in the House which left a bad taste in the mouths of everybody who lives in Prince George, and for that matter everybody in British Columbia.

I wish to start out by saying that I have honestly seen the minister from Vancouver Centre in other forums in Halifax and in my own riding. I have seen her do some very good work on the promotion of multiculturalism. I have always respected her for her efforts in bringing that issue to the forefront.

Regardless of the good work she has done in the past, she made a very serious error in judgment. Although she has apologized in the House, an apology is not accepted until the people to whom the slanderous remarks were made against accept the apology. So far the people of Prince George have not yet accepted that apology.

I spoke today to his worship, Mayor Kinsley of Prince George, and asked him what we could do in the House or what could the minister do to remedy the situation. I suggested and he agreed that it would be a good idea if she got out of Ottawa or out of Vancouver and personally flew to Prince George, met with the mayor and the council, sat down and resolved the issue once and for all.

A lot of people think of Prince George now in a negative light. The fact is that last Monday the British Columbia government gave an award to the city of Prince George for its work in fighting against racism.

I come from a riding where we have Cole Harbour High School. A few years ago it was involved in a very serious issue. Those people got together with the efforts of Department of Multiculturalism and some dollars from the federal government and worked to resolve the issue. I know the good work that the minister's department can do.

It is still left hanging out there. Many people in British Columbia are still very angry with the minister. Many editorials and newspaper accounts have said that she should resign to restore some dignity to that department.

If the minister is not willing to resign or the Prime Minister is not willing for her to resign, what she must do to resolve this issue once and for all is to go to Prince George, sit down and talk with the mayor and resolve this issue. If she did that I believe we would find a conclusion to this resolve. Then maybe the minister would learn by her mistake and move forward in the future.

On behalf of the people of Prince George, I thank the House for the opportunity to speak. I hope the minister takes that advice and goes very quickly to Prince George to resolve this important issue.

Division No. 66
Adjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with specific reference to the hon. member's original question, I am informed that the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism did not personally call or instruct her staff or department to call the RCMP on this matter.

On Thursday, March 22, the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism rose in the House and stated her regret and gave an apology to the people of Prince George. She further stated that it had never been her intent to disparage communities anywhere in Canada and that she deeply regretted the distress caused by the statement she made. In the tradition of parliament, her apology has been accepted here.

The Secretary of State for Multiculturalism also paid tribute to the people of Prince George and the good work they had done in setting up a task force against hate activities. She has further stated that she wished to continue to work with them in their fight against racism.

I also want to point out for the benefit of the hon. member and the House that the minister has written to Mayor Kinsley of Prince George. She has conveyed personally her own regret. She said that she wanted to convey personally how sorry she was for the distress which her comments may have caused on March 21.

Division No. 66
Adjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 7.19 p.m.)