House of Commons Hansard #162 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was excise.

Topics

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to challenge the member on one statement and that is with respect to poverty. Undoubtedly there are people around the world, including people in China, whose incomes are substantially less than our incomes in Canada. I would agree that we in our global community should do everything we can to reduce and eliminate such poverty. However the fact of the matter is that when one gets into trade agreements with countries like China, it increases economic activity. Generally that means there is an increase in demand, which means that there are more jobs for workers and the ability to produce more would normally increase the workers wages.

That would not always be the case. It depends on the kind of wage agreement. We know that members of parliament for example have a fixed wage regardless of whether they work 12 or 18 hours a day. Teachers are often paid exactly the same, regardless of how many hours they work. We have to take that into account as well.

Does the member not at least generally concede that these international trade agreements tend to improve the lot of both countries involved in the agreement?

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, no, I would not agree with the statement although in theory that is what they are supposed to do. In response to the member for Elk Island, it depends very much on the agreement itself. If we look seriously at the agreement that exists in the European Union where there are labour standards and environmental standards, then yes, there are opportunities for people at the bottom end of the income scale to advance.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the free trade agreement and the WTO, there are no such stipulations when it comes to environmental rights or labour rights. If we look at the maquiladoras stretched along the Mexican-United States border, we would look hard and in vain to find very many people, except perhaps the upper echelon in an organization, who have advanced. We would find that workers have generally not advanced. We would perhaps also find that a great many of them have suffered many environmental problems as a result of the fact that they do not have adequate environmental standards. That has become a cesspool as we know over the last 10 or 15 years.

Ideally, world trade should lift up all boats, as the saying goes, but it has not. It is fair to say that we have always had globalization, but over the last 15 years we have seen a more intense degree of globalization, yet all of the standards indicate that the levels between the top and the bottom are not shrinking. The rich are getting richer and the poor are indeed getting poorer.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I presume the member would like included in these trade agreements with different countries, especially third world countries and China, clauses that would require them to meet certain minimum environmental standards and certain employment standards.

In the event during negotiations a country said that it was a matter of sovereign right and that Canada did not have the right to change the way things were done in that country, then the trade agreement would not proceed and subsequently the increased economic activity and even the smallest potential of bettering the lot of the poor would be removed. Could the member respond to the dilemma faced in these negotiations?

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, there may be a dilemma, but I cling very strongly to the fact that we do need international rights and obligations in the area of trade and environmental and human rights. Poverty in China is a major concern, particularly in rural areas where reportedly upward of 30 million Chinese people, as many people as we have living in Canada, live in absolute poverty.

With respect to the Chinese automotive industry, reduced tariffs under the WTO will mean exports will quickly flood the Chinese market resulting in a tremendous strain on workers. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the ICFTU, reports that 10 million Chinese auto workers are forecasted to lose their jobs as a result of China's entry into the WTO.

China stands out internationally for its flagrant disregard for human rights. The WTO does not seek to enforce human rights standards, but is concerned only with the facilitation of international trade.

Workers in Chinese industries will be negatively impacted by increased trade. They have no recourse to collective organization. China has ratified the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, but filed a reservation to prevent workers from freely forming trade unions. The freedom to association and collective bargaining is recognized under the ILO, but it is ignored by China. China also has an abysmal record on workplace safety. In 2000 more than 47,000 industrial accidents were reported in China.

Yes, in theory free trade should work. It should help lift up people at the bottom end of the economic scale but it does need some safeguards. Those safeguards would include human rights, environmental rights and labour standards.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief in my comments, but I think it is the responsibility of my party in particular, the Progressive Conservative Party now in co-operation with the DRC, to stand and speak about free trade. We are and have been the free traders of the House and were instrumental in the negotiations of the free trade agreement, the NAFTA, put into place by the previous government. At the time it was suggested that it would not be supported by this government. Once elected, even the Liberals in their exuberance recognized that the only way in which this country would grow and expand would be to expand our markets and base those markets on rules based trade. In saying that, we are supportive of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the WTO family.

I have a lot of respect for the previous speaker from the NDP party, the member for Palliser. Although we do agree on some issues, we will agree to disagree on these issues with respect to the accession of China into WTO, free trade and how it is dealt with nationally and globally. One cannot put one's head in the sand. One must look at the possibility of bringing China into the free trade age and certainly into the global family.

My hon. colleague suggests that China has some difficulties and I would agree with him. In the past it has been seen as having some human rights issues, workplace safety issues and certainly some issues with respect to organized labour. However, one does not turn one's back on China and simply hope that the problems go away. What one does is incorporate China into globalized trade, which we know and realize so well is necessary for countries to be involved in if they are to expand their own economies.

China is a marketplace that is absolutely phenomenal, well in excess of 1.1 billion people who have a huge demand for goods and services being produced throughout the world. Equally, the world has a huge demand for the goods and services that can be produced within the People's Republic of China. It is important for China to have the opportunity to develop that economy.

Recently I had the opportunity of meeting with some of the political lawmakers of China at the Asia-Pacific parliamentary forum. I can assure the member for Palliser that these individuals are very excited about joining the ranks of the WTO. They are very excited about becoming better as a nation. They are very excited about being able to expand their now narrow focus into a global focus. This makes me very proud that Canada was a partner to China's accession to the WTO.

I believe very strongly that given the proper guidance, the proper opportunities and the proper abilities, the People's Republic of China too will become a very good partner in this world of global trade.

Regardless of what the hon. member from the NDP says, we recognize there are those issues. We recognize that allowing China to come into global trade will hopefully help with those problems. The Progressive Conservative/DRC Party will be supporting Bill C-50. We welcome China and thank its people for the opportunity to open up their wonderful market to Canadian goods and services.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)