House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was public.

Topics

Air India
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the RCMP claims that CSIS erased wire taps, that it destroyed files to cover up the fact that it knew about the plot of the bombing of Air India flight 182. Allegations are surfacing that a CSIS agent may have been involved in the conspiracy to blow up flight 182.

The Solicitor General is the minister who is in charge. He is the minister in charge of this department. When will he initiate an inquiry to either prove or dispel the allegations against CSIS?

Air India
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have never seen anyone or any party in the history of Parliament that could get hung up on allegations, rumours and innuendo like that party over there can.

The fact of the matter is this has been the longest, most costly investigation in Canadian history. My interest and Canadians' interest is to see that it is carried out to its conclusion through the courts. I will not in any way potentially jeopardize the case by making comments that might be misconstrued. I am therefore not commenting on this case.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

June 2nd, 2003 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, ten days or so ago, Canada submitted a counter-offer to the United States in the softwood lumber dispute. Although there were plenty of rumours, the Minister for International Trade, who has always called for a total return to free trade, has not yet indicated what that Canadian proposal contained.

Can the minister assure us that Canada will not conclude any agreement that will voluntarily limit its exports, as was the case in 1996?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I greatly appreciate the opportunity afforded me by the leader of the Bloc Quebecois to clarify our government's position on softwood lumber, which has always been an unconditional preference for total free trade in the U.S. market.

This, we feel, is of great importance to Canadian producers, and we absolutely want to see the same rules of free trade apply to softwood lumber that apply to the rest of the Canadian economy.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in Quebec, since the beginning of the softwood lumber crisis, some fifty businesses have been affected and 9,000 workers have lost their jobs.

Does the minister realize that the softwood lumber industry is a victim of the financial strangulation strategy of the United States, which intends to drag out the process so that Canada cannot hold out until the end?

It is high time, now that victory is at hand, for the government to help the companies and the workers to hold out until the end, and not to give in, even with an interim agreement, as it did in 1996. That would be going back to square one.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, any potential interim agreement that we might contemplate at this time would not be at all like the one signed in 1996. If it were, we would inevitably find ourselves five years down the road not knowing where we were headed.

We have negotiated forestry policy interpretation bulletins with the Government of the United States. The Government of Quebec has made a remarkable contribution as well. I hope these bulletins will make it possible for the provinces to be able to put in place forestry programs and systems, recognized by the U.S. Trade Department, that will give them full access to free trade in the U.S. market.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, considering that the American strategy in the softwood lumber issue is to drag things out further and slowly kill off the Canadian industry, the Minister for International Trade has no choice but to recommend to his government that it strengthen the position of the Canadian lumber industry.

How is it that nothing is being done to implement phase two of the aid package announced by the government in October, when loan guarantees to the industry are perfectly legal and represent the solution for supporting the Canadian industry?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby
B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, and I have replied to his question many times, we have a $110 million package to help communities to adjust. We also have money for R and D. One of the other key areas is to look for new markets. This is an area that we have been focusing on, to make sure that we diversify our trade in this area.

Turning to the hon. member's question in terms of the industry, the best thing we can do is to have a resolution to this problem for the industry. In the meantime we need to move, if we do not get our resolution, to provide further support. We are monitoring the situation closely to see what we can do if we do not get--

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is because of remarks like those that the lumber industry and communities are feeling abandoned by the federal government. In spite of the repetitive speech by the Minister of Human Resources Development praising the effectiveness of the employment insurance plan, it is clear that the plan is too restrictive to provide adequate support to the workers affected by the softwood lumber crisis.

With a surplus of $45 billion in the EI fund, how can the Minister of Human Resources Development be insensitive to the needs of workers and refuse to eliminate the EI waiting period for the victims of the softwood lumber crisis?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we recognized that there may be some significant impact on this trade dispute in the industry and amongst the workers. That is why we announced a $246 million program recognizing the potential impact there.

I want to convey to the hon. member that the employment insurance system is there and will be responsive to the needs of those workers who find themselves laid off. In addition, we are working at the community level through the agencies to build increasing opportunities in the communities that may be affected.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

That will be short-lived, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the chair of the Alberta softwood lumber trade council has called the government' s latest softwood lumber proposal to the United States a slap in the face to the industry. He says it ignored Alberta in favour of the input of a few CEO's who just happened to donate to the Liberal Party of Canada.

Why was the input of the broader interests of the lumber industry in western Canada ignored, while the input of a few select corporate donors becomes the official position of the Government of Canada? Will the government immediately withdraw this insulting proposal?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, let me first congratulate the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. I am pleased that he still has some interest in free trade after the deal he made on the weekend, and I thank him for it.

Atlantic Canada has been exempted from the countervailing duty and there is nothing in the proposal that went to the Americans last week that would in any way put this exemption into jeopardy. However, Atlantic Canada is suffering because of the anti-dumping duty which we are also trying to get rid of.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, of course we like free trade. We invented it, unlike the minister opposite.

The Minister for International Trade is ignoring the representatives of the softwood lumber industry but listening to the handful of CEOs who donated in excess of $30,000 to the Liberal Party. This proposal is jeopardizing our market share, our economic interests and the future of our fellow citizens.

Will the minister commit immediately to have the Government of Canada withdraw its latest proposal?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in my mind that the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party used to be interested in free trade. My problem is that he is no longer interested, or less interested. That is our problem today.

As far as the softwood lumber issue is concerned, I can say that, for the past 20 years, the Atlantic region has been exempt from countervailing duties. This is an exemption we negotiated and it is something we are not interested in giving up. We also want the Atlantic provinces to be exempt from antidumping duties.