House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was americans.

Topics

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to one petition.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to table in the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian section of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, and the financial report relating to it.

The report refers to the meeting of the APF's Commission de l'éducation, de la communication et des affaires culturelles, which took place in Alexandria, Egypt, from February 10-13, 2002.

I would like to thank Guyanne Desforges for her professional work in preparation for this mission, and her significant contribution in preparing this report.

Jean-Paul Riopelle
Routine Proceedings

March 14th, 2002 / 10:05 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is with regret that we learned of the death Tuesday evening of international artist Jean-Paul Riopelle, who died at his home in Île aux Grues at the age of 78.

A painter and sculptor, Jean-Paul Riopelle was one of those Canadians who put our country on the artistic map, not just here at home but around the world. Mr. Riopelle emerged as a true international visual arts celebrity during the nineteen fifties. As one of the group of artists who became known as the “automatistes”, he had an extraordinary influence on the visual arts internationally. His works are found in all major galleries in Canada and in galleries and private collections around the world.

Born in Montreal in 1923, Mr. Riopelle spent most of his life in France, but he made regular trips to Canada. He returned some years ago to live beside the St. Lawrence River, from which he drew inspiration for his last creative period.

Mr. Riopelle also drew inspiration from the waters around France where he often sailed on his Sérica , previously owned by Henri Matisse. The Government of Canada has recently been able to assist the Musée maritime du Québec in acquiring, restoring and interpreting this early twentieth century sailboat which can now be seen at the Musée.

Just this past year, the government was pleased to be able to help the Musée du Québec with the acquisition of Mr. Riopelle's 1951 work Espagne . It also helped with the acquisition of 92 of his paintings, recognizing their international value.

Our programs recently made it possible to put together for the first time a collection of 20 very important works by Mr. Riopelle and exhibit them in New Brunswick and Ontario.

In recognition of his enormous artistic contribution to Canada and the world, Mr. Riopelle was named a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1969 and his name was inscribed on the Canadian Walk of Fame in 2000.

Today we mourn the loss of this artist who has bequeathed to us such an extraordinary body of work. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I want to tell his companion and his daughter that his loss is a loss for the entire country. We offer our sincerest condolences to his family and friends and especially to the artistic community, which can never really replace this great international talent.

Jean-Paul Riopelle
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of Her Majesty's official loyal opposition in response to the unfortunate passing of Mr. Riopelle.

Yesterday we honoured Herb Gray who, in his own way, brought a very special character to politics in his devotion to Canada.

Today, as we think about Jean-Paul Riopelle, we recognize that in Canada, no matter what the arena, we have some giants. Clearly, from the research I have done on Mr. Riopelle, he was just exactly that.

I would like to take just a slightly different tack to an ordinary approach. I would like to look at some of the techniques, the technical aspects, of what he brought to us. I am reading from The Canadian Encyclopedia where it states:

Under the influence of surrealism, with its emphasis on the “liberation of the human spirit,” Riopelle moved from figurative painting to the gestural abstractions for which he is now famous. After WWII, against the growing standardization and depersonalization of industrial capitalism, Riopelle's paintings were characterized by personal improvisation and “raw” gestures that attested to the uniquely human process by which they were made. To increase the spontaneity of his art, he used several experimental techniques: supple gestural brushstrokes...; the controlled drip technique of squeezing paint directly from the tube onto the canvas...; and, in the early 1950s, the use of the palette knife to create mosaiclike surfaces of paint--a hallmark of his later style.

The reason I read from this rather technical description of art--and of course art cannot be broken down simply into techniques-was to show the creativeness of this individual.

I would concur with the minister of heritage that truly Canada has lost a giant in the field of art. He was certainly a tremendous credit to all of us as Canadians. Our country mourns his loss.

Jean-Paul Riopelle
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured, but also sad to rise today to mark the passing of a great man, a great Quebecer and a great international painter, Jean-Paul Riopelle.

This is a very special occasion for me, because Jean-Paul Riopelle lived for a very long time in the riding of Laurentides, in Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson. One of his very close friends, who is also a friend of mine, has a small bistro, the Bistrot à Champlain, and he has several paintings that Jean-Paul Riopelle gave him as presents. Indeed, Jean-Paul would regularly give him paintings, to make himself happy.

Jean-Paul Riopelle was very attached to his friends. Friendship was sacred for him. Needless to say that he is leaving behind very close and long time friends who are very saddened by his death.

I would like to quote Jean-Paul Riopelle, who was an exceptional human being:

If I am asked how long it takes to do a painting, I cannot answer. I often walk into my studio—in fact I go almost every day—open the door and shut it again, because I cannot do anything. But when I am on, time does not matter; I may come out 10 or 20 hours later, but in a different state.

I would also like to quote François-Marc Gagnon, from the Université de Montréal, who said:

The recent works of Riopelle made us find again something from that initial shock. They scandalize us, they make us stumble, in the etymological sense of the word “scandal”, which comes from the Greek skandalon, which is a stumbling block that makes us lose our balance. Sure, they are disturbing but, for that very reason, they present greater human interest than anything that Riopelle has done before, and they definitely do not deserve the somewhat uncomfortable view in which they are held now. Like anything that comes from the bottom, we would prefer not to see them. We would prefer to hide them. Certainly not show them to everyone on the electronic highway and make them appear on our computer screen.

I would like to conclude with this thought: Jean-Paul Riopelle was and will forever be that great man in our minds. He was also a very easy going and friendly person, a great friend.

We are saddened by his departure, but I am very pleased that the Quebec government decided to honour him on Monday by organizing a state funeral for this man who marked Quebec's history forever.

Jean-Paul Riopelle
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada to recognize the passing of one of Quebec's and Canada's most recognized artists, Jean-Paul Riopelle, at his home in Île-aux-Grues.

It was a pleasure to hear the hon. member for Laurentides offer her personal recollections and images of the man. It added to the memorable occasion this morning.

It is fair to say Riopelle was to Canadian painting and sculpture what Glen Gould was to Canadian music. He was a beacon of creation to others in his craft. His art was a direct expression through his hands of the subconscious feelings in his soul. Monsieur Riopelle's work takes one's breath away. Raw emotions leak from the canvas into one's brain. Like great artists, he saw the world differently. He used his paint to speak to us, express emotions and share with us the briefest glimpse of his vision of the world.

Riopelle was part of a group called the Automatistes whose members believed in the spontaneous transcriptions onto canvas of whatever one's spirit suggested. Riopelle carried that spontaneity into his daily life. Even when his work returned to the realist form of painting his artistic contributions continued.

Riopelle was a clear example to the world that Canadians cannot only create. We produce a unique perspective and have developed a standard of artistic excellence for which we should never apologize. Jean-Paul Riopelle never did.

We salute a great Canadian artist today.

Jean-Paul Riopelle
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join in the tribute to Jean-Paul Riopelle.

Riopelle was born and raised in Montreal. The son of a building contractor and amateur architect, he developed a love and appreciation for art as a young boy. His studies and career led him to leave his home province of Quebec for Paris where his works received international acclaim and played an important role in getting Canadian painting recognized beyond our borders.

Riopelle is considered one of Canada's greatest painters. He holds the distinction of being the first Canadian to have a canvas sell for more than $1 million. He received many honours for his achievements including the 1962 UNESCO prize, the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris in 1985, the Companion of the Order of Canada in 1969, the prix Philippe Hebert in 1973, the Prix du Quebec in 1981 and the Officier de l'Ordre du Quebec in 1988.

We thank Jean-Paul Riopelle for his gift of creations that will be remembered long after his passing. We think primarily of his family today. We offer our thoughts, condolences and prayers on their behalf. On behalf of my colleagues in the PC/DR coalition I offer my condolences to Mr. Riopelle's family and friends. I invite all Canadians to celebrate his life and his contribution to Canadian art and to our country.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement government orders will be extended by 12 minutes.

Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the principles and provisions of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), including their dispute resolution mechanisms, should be fully applied to trade in softwood lumber, and it urges the government not to accept any negotiated settlement of the current softwood lumber dispute outside of the FTA and the NAFTA unless it guarantees free and unfettered access to the U.S. market, and includes dispute resolution mechanisms capable of overriding domestic trade measures to resolve future disputes.

Mr. Speaker, I had a question this morning relating to the last part of the motion which reads “and includes dispute resolution mechanisms capable of overriding domestic trade measures to resolve future disputes”. The intent of that was to include a dispute resolution mechanism that would override U.S. domestic trade legislation which has always been the stumbling block. The U.S. has always retained the trump card in past softwood lumber agreements.

I am pleased to be able to bring the issue to the House today as the subject of business. We all know how important the softwood lumber dispute is in terms of the economy of Canada. It is now getting the public prominence it has deserved for a long time.

The dispute is almost 12 months old. It began when the old softwood lumber agreement expired in March 2001. Forest dependent communities, workers and companies have been dealing with uncertainty about market access to the United States since that time. Everyone is focused on March 21, a week from today, because that is when the U.S. department of commerce will announce its so-called final determination on countervail tariff and anti-dumping tariff rates.

I remind Canadians that the deadline is only one of many. Nothing about March 21 is earth shattering. Earlier deadlines have included last May, last August, last December and, more recently, February 19. Is it any wonder the public and many people in the industry remain fuzzy and confused about what is going on? It is hard even for those of us who follow the issue to keep the process in its chronological order.

One thing is for sure: We are a year into it now. This is not the time to get into brinksmanship. That is where the history of the dispute goes and it is a long history. It is good to look at history to ensure we learn the lessons of the past. It is vitally important to get our forest industry back to health without compromising the long term viability of our industry through short term band aids that do long term damage.

There was more bad news today as some companies reported their financial earnings in British Columbia, our major softwood lumber producing area. B.C. contributes about half our lumber exports to the U.S. on an annual basis. Quebec is our second largest producer. Pricewaterhouse Coopers reported yesterday that total profitability of B.C.'s publicly traded forest products companies was down last year from $1.5 billion to $200 million. That is an 87% drop in profits. We did not go the whole year with punishing duties. We only went a portion of the year, as members are well aware.

This is a very significant measurement. We had some individual results from companies that were actually much worse than that. Companies have been putting aside huge cash reserves to cover potential duties. Last year was the worst year in five years. Prices for pulp and for lumber were not very good although prices for lumber this year are up considerably. We can forecast that a big part of that is due to the impact of this dispute.

We have spent five of the last six years under a softwood lumber agreement with the U.S. that was based on a quota system. We were never on a quota system before. That was negotiated by the Liberal government and imposed in 1996. The quota system carried us through to 2001, terribly distorting and very destructive particularly to independents and to people without quota and new entrants.

I watched the government defend that quota system right up until it was virtually expiring in March 2001. In the meantime we had many people trying to move the government to plan for the future. Was the government going to adopt free trade? Was it going to extend the old quota arrangement which was becoming more problematic?

There were groups on both sides of the border, the American consumer groups and the Canadian producers, all wanting the government to take a position. The government did not take a position until March 2001. That is my great frustration and my party's great frustration that we wasted all of that time.

Meanwhile the Canadian Alliance, the official opposition, was firmly fixed on promoting unfettered free trade market access to the U.S. market for softwood lumber. We had built a lot of bridges with the American consumer movement and with Canadian industry. I want to put that on the record. Although the Liberal government is currently talking the talk of free trade, it is not a great free trader in principle.

We must look at this from another perspective. We have a commitment and a responsibility and actually a vested interest as a country in supporting international organizations with effective dispute resolution mechanisms or at least dispute resolution mechanisms that work in the international arena, maybe with shortened timeframes. There are organizations like the World Trade Organization that we cannot undercut. If we go and do things that undercut the WTO we are being hypocritical.

I want us to keep that in the background here. We do have opportunities that we are pursuing as a nation through the WTO on this softwood dispute. We cannot write that off without being very considerate of whether we are damaging that organization or its ability to function in the international arena.

It is clear what the U.S. lumber lobby wants. It wants to restrict Canadian softwood lumber market access into its market. Why does it want to do that? It is very simple, the U.S. lumber lobby consists primarily of U.S. forest landowners who are also producers, but sometimes only landowners whose margin of profitability is increased if they can restrict Canadian access to their market.

Plain and simple that is the way it goes. The U.S. domestic legislation allows them to petition the government, harass the Canadian forest industry and have basically all of the rules favour their trade actions. This is nothing new. This has been going on for over 20 years and our track record as a nation is not particularly good in these softwood disputes. We buckled in 1986 and we imposed this quota system in 1996 in order to satisfy that lobby. We never took the process all the way through.

Our historical track record if we never take it all the way through encourages further harassment down the line. Softwood lumber is the largest commodity exchanged between the two countries. It is the largest commodity trade in the world and so it goes to the core of our trading relationship with the U.S. Not doing well on the lumber front would have implications for other trading relationships.

The negotiations surrounding softwood have always been cloaked in a diplomatic tug of war located in either Washington or Ottawa. The brinkmanship is incredible. Last weekend we had Canadian and U.S. positions exchanged. Ours was called a non-paper because it does not really exist although I have one here. The gulf between the two positions is quite incredible.

We have some major issues here. We have a sovereignty issue. Will we throw our provincial forest policy-making wide open to approval or not by American interests, the American lumber lobby? Are we interested in insuring that over the long term our independent mills, our small community single industry opportunities continue to exist or will we push this all into a direction where only the people with deep pockets can stay in the business?

The way our governments behave influences that very greatly. If we want a case study in all of that, members should recall what happened after the imposition of an export tax in 1986. Members should look at what happened over the ensuing four or five years and it will be very clear what will happen if we get into a punishing export tax scenario this time.

We have a clear example in British Columbia where last fall some very significant policy proposals were tabled, things that it thought would improve market conditions within the province. It was quite aggressive and it tabled those with the U.S. negotiators.

Predictably the good faith actions were responded to with a statement that it was not enough. There was a complete rejection from the U.S. lumber lobby, the U.S. lumber lobby holding the cards in terms of the U.S. domestic trade law situation which is most unfortunate.

To be an equal partner in these negotiations we must use our leverage. What is our leverage? It is the WTO and NAFTA panels. That is why we were such a promoter of an effective or neutral dispute resolution mechanism in those two organizations. That is why we are promoters internationally of those types of arrangements. That is our leverage. It is quite clear. We will drop our WTO and NAFTA actions if the U.S. petitioners drop their petitions and then we can start the cycle all over again.

I had the pleasure last weekend in Victoria at the speaker's reception for the six Vancouver Island members of parliament to meet Mike Apsey, who is the past chair of the Council of Forest Industries and who has been involved in these trade disputes for the last 20 plus years.

He said he could go back to his old files and figure out what the U.S. lumber lobby would be saying next week. He is right and that is why we need to change this agenda. The world is changing faster than the U.S. department of commerce and the U.S. lumber lobby. Market access is the issue. We must ensure that this a non-political, non-partisan and a binding trade dispute resolution on softwood.

If we cannot get that in these current negotiations then we should not go there. If these negotiations can lead to that outside of NAFTA and the WTO, with some kind of a binational panel, then we can buy it. However, if we do not get it the reversion from having an agreement is NAFTA.

On the issue of a border or export tax, our current forest practices do stand international scrutiny. We proposed some welcome changes. They are free market oriented and our friends in the U.S. have anything but clean hands on this front. Since 1984, the U.S. has had a bailout of $1.3 billion, something called the timber relief act. It was just for Washington, Oregon and northern California when their so-called public auction system completely fell apart after people had bid up timber contracts and then found they could not harvest and process these trees profitably.

This is the system the U.S. lumber lobby would like to impose on us. It cloaks it in market access but actually it would like to put sticks in our spokes. When we talk about market access let us remember that U.S. lumber production is shrinking. Canadian lumber production cannot increase a whole bunch. Our imports are necessary in the U.S. so this whole area needs a broader look.

We should not be fighting with each other. That will lead to market substitutes for wood products. We have more in common than we have that separates us.

Going back to the motion, I would like the House to support this free trade motion. That is what we need. It should be non-partisan, and the whole House should agree to it.

Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the concern expressed by the member opposite. He is obviously speaking for an industry in his constituency that is in serious trouble.

I cannot help but be struck by the irony. For the past six months, so often the Canadian Alliance has told the House that the Americans are our best friends, that the Americans will do us no injury as a nation and that we should support them in everything they do. Here we do have an instance where the Americans are very difficult and powerful friends to be beside, and they can be a bully sometimes.

I understand the member suggesting that we should stop negotiating directly with the Americans on softwood lumber, that we bypass the Americans and go directly to the World Trade Organization or the other dispute resolution panels. I sympathize with him on that, but I do have a question with respect to that. Will that not take a long time?

The difficulty with going through the formal dispute mechanism is it may add another year onto a resolution of the problem. Is negotiating with the Americans first not a better tactic?

Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not stereotype Americans. I was talking about the U.S. lumber lobby, not Americans. We have more friends in the U.S. on this lumber file than we have protagonists. I have gone out of my way to make friends in congress on this issue and to form a strong bond with the American consumers for affordable homes. I refuse to stereotype our relationship with the U.S. I also do not appreciate the stereotype that the member is trying to apply to the Canadian Alliance. The Deputy Prime Minister is prone to doing that as well and I do not think that is productive.

What is more important for us to do today here is to display some kind of consensus from the Canadian parliament that we are seeking free trade. That is the best possible message we can send to the U.S.

In terms of this whole question of would it not be better to negotiate rather than go through a longer timeframe dispute resolution mechanism, all things being equal, that would be wonderful. However, if we are unilaterally in a rush to come to judgment, given certain circumstances, that can only lead to us getting into a one-sided deal that favours the other side. We cannot have a unilateral rush. It has to be both parties that want to resolve this, with an equal sense of urgency. Otherwise we are placing ourselves at a disadvantage.

Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Vancouver Island North for bringing this debate here today. I know he has worked very hard on this issue, as have many of us. I some comments.

I would like to correct the record about the idea that the government wanted a quota system. The member worked with MacMillan Bloedel and I worked very closely with Roy MacLaren, the minister of trade at the time. I also worked in the forest products. I know the minister and I had many discussions about this. He told me that the industry begged him for a lumber quota system, for five years of peace. That minister and gentleman was not a person who supported managed trade. It was totally an anathema to him. He did not want to go that way.To suggest that the Liberal government imposed a five year quota system on the industry is totally absurd, and the member opposite should know that.

I generally support the motion. In fact the position that our minister has taken is that we should not accept a negotiated solution unless we have free and unfettered access to the U.S. market. However it is the last paragraph that I am a little concerned about.

The member opposite knows as well as I do that the Americans will be incredibly reluctant to override their own legislative authority. That is one of the challenges. I know that is the nub of the problem. However for them to say that they will allow this to override their own capacity to legislate will be a very serious challenge and may not be realistic.