House of Commons Hansard #10 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Russ Powers Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to expand upon the introductory comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport. I will take this opportunity to outline some of the anticipated benefits of adopting the proposed act on international interests in mobile equipment, that is, aircraft equipment, known as Bill C-4.

I believe we all agree that a strong, competitive aviation industry is an important component of Canada's economy in the 21st century. Adopting this bill will help the Canadian airline and aerospace industries compete more effectively in the global economy by facilitating their access to capital markets.

On March 31 of this year Canada signed the convention on international interests in mobile equipment and the protocol to the convention on international interests in mobile equipment on matters specific to aircraft equipment. The convention and protocol will establish an international framework for the financing of aircraft equipment. Within this framework, the value of the aircraft would be used as security for payment, like a mortgage or a lease.

Adopting legislation to implement the convention and protocol will reduce the financial risk to creditors, allowing them to access greater levels of financing available for aircraft purchasing. This would translate into lower costs for airlines purchasing or leasing aircraft, which would enhance their competitiveness and strengthen the airline and aerospace sectors. The expected result is a direct positive impact on airline earnings, investment and overall profitability.

Among the benefits of implementation are: greater security for creditors; an increase in the global competitiveness of the Canadian aerospace and airline industries; maintaining jobs in Canada; and spinoff effects for various regions within Canada. If Canada ratifies the convention and protocol and adopts implementing legislation in a timely manner, Canadian purchasers will be able to benefit from reduced exposure fees.

For example, in the United States, the U.S. Export-Import Bank is offering a one-third reduction in its exposure fee to companies whose home states have signed, ratified and implemented the convention and protocol before September 30, 2005. This offer recognizes that reducing uncertainty translates into lower costs. This kind of advantage would contribute to the industry's competitiveness. As the Canadian aviation industry becomes more cost competitive, the benefits could be passed on to consumers through increased airline service and lower fares.

A healthy aviation industry will of course translate into more jobs for Canadians. As airlines become more competitive and grow, they will expand their workforce. This has associated spinoff benefits for the aircraft manufacturing sector also. The airline and aerospace manufacturing industries generate many highly paid, specialized jobs. The importance of such jobs and their spinoff effects on the economy cannot be ignored.

Alberta and western Canada will benefit from WestJet's increased competitiveness. As the home of Air Canada, Jetsgo, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Bombardier, Quebec will no doubt enjoy a boost in its economy, and the presence of CanJet and Pratt & Whitney Canada in eastern Canada will provide a positive economic impact for these provinces.

Smaller airlines across the country will also enjoy the benefits created by the convention and protocol. In addition, aircraft manufacturers and their numerous subcontractors throughout Canada will be positively affected by the increased certainty that the convention and protocol will generate.

In short, adopting this bill will be an important step toward strengthening Canada's aviation industry, which will generate competitive and other spinoff benefits across this country.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Madam Speaker, I have listened carefully to what my hon. colleague said, and I have questions, of course. As I said earlier, we support the principle of the bill. But I would like to hear what he thinks. I assume he is on the government's side.

What kind of pressure is he putting not only on the Minister of Transport but also on the Minister of Industry to ensure that there is a national or Canadian aerospace policy in Canada?

Concretely, what can be done to ensure that there will be a follow-up on this bill, which is worthwhile of course, but is only part of the solution, because it does not solve any of the problems currently facing the industry, an industry which, as he indicated, is very important to Quebec?

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Russ Powers Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Madam Speaker, clearly, the answer I will provide will not totally satisfy her. However, the Minister of Transport, his parliamentary secretary and various other ministries are working aggressively to ensure that we develop a very positive and proactive national strategy for our aviation industry, to provide new jobs and to ensure that there is safety of not only our assets, but also for the travellers. We will keep all members of the House advised as the information plays out.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, one concern articulated in the previous question was whether this would lead to something else.

I want to revisit a little history. The auto industry, similar to the aeronautic industry, has had intense competition from other governments that have used subsidization and other practices, whether it be for infrastructure, for workers or for wages. These different types of strategies have cost us jobs. In fact Quebec has been hurt because there has not been an auto policy for the last decade. We have witnessed promise after promise.

In particular, the government set up the Canadian auto partnerships council. It has been two and a half years since the original meeting was held in Toronto, in which I participated. We expect to have some recommendations coming forward with in the next month. We have been anticipating this for a long time.

What other assurance can the member give us that we will not see two years pass before we get some substance or before something else happens? The government's pattern of behaviour has not been to introduce real meaningful changes. This industry cannot wait for that.

Jobs are very important in this industry, not only for the regions but across the country. They are well paying jobs that contribute high taxes. As well, they provide significant returns to everything from charitable donations to the United Way because people have good paying jobs. Also, auto jobs lead to six other jobs in Ontario, one in seven in Canada and one in four in Windsor. It is the same situation for the aeronautical industry.

Will the government recognize that it has been dragging its feet on the automobile industry? We still have nothing today. I want the government to make sure it does not do the same thing with aerospace. Those jobs will be gone and all that will be left is complacent Liberals.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Russ Powers Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Madam Speaker, although it is not applicable to the bill before us, the member's concern is very valid. My riding is currently under duress as a result of the steel industry, which indirectly affects his industry and the Auto Pact area. Clearly, our desire to introduce this legislation early shows that we have an extreme concern about the aviation industry.

I ask the member to be assured that our interest of ensuring that the automotive industry, the steel industry and everything else which is important to the industrialized communities in our country will be looked after in an expeditious manner. All ministries are working expeditiously to ensure the legislation is brought forward.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak to Bill C-4 on behalf of the constituents I represent in the riding of Winnipeg Centre. Our critic, the member for Churchill, has done a lot of comprehensive work with respect to the legislation. The NDP can see benefits in Bill C-4 and is broadly in favour of the bill as it currently stands.

The aerospace industry is a critical industry for Winnipeg generally and for Winnipeg Centre specifically. People in my riding are interested in any initiative that may stimulate manufacturing in the aerospace industry and add to the stability of the critically important jobs that people there enjoy.

Members of the NDP have commented frequently on the aerospace industry in the House of Commons. I have spoken about the health and stability of that industry in a number of contexts. I am reminded of one specific issue that came to light in the twilight days of the 37th Parliament. That was the rather alarming use, or one might say misuse or abuse, of a program called technology partnership loans to keep the aerospace industry solvent and healthy in Canada. We see Bill C-4 as an effort to stimulate the aerospace industry and a positive light toward helping to develop markets for the manufactured products of our Canadian industry as opposed to technology partnership loans which we see as a scandal of equal proportion and dimension as the sponsorship scandal, if not more. Billions of dollars were involved in technology partnership loans and not millions of dollars as in the sponsorship scandal.

It is really a misnomer to call technology partnership loans, loans. A loan is not a loan when it is not paid back. It then becomes something else altogether. Of the technology partnership loans, 2% have been paid back, 98% have not been. This includes $480 million to Bombardier and millions of dollars to Pratt & Whitney and other aerospace manufacturing companies.

To get one's mind around this rate of payback, let us look at another loan program operated by the Canadian government, and that is the Canada student loan program. Of all student loads, 96% are paid back, but the government hounds the remaining 4% to their graves. No stone is left unturned to recover every penny loaned to Canadian students for their post-secondary education. The government has threatened to garnish their wages, to kick in their doors and seize their property, for heaven's sake. Yet it knowingly and willingly ignored, at last count, $3 billion of outstanding technology partnership loans, the overwhelming majority of which did not go to struggling start-up companies in need of R and D development so they could market products. They went to the aerospace industry and to IBM.

Why in God's name did the Canadian government give technology partnership loans to IBM? Is it a struggling start-up company? Is it a Canadian company? No. Did it ever pay the money back? No. I am sorry to deviate a bit from the subject of Bill C-4, but it brings to my mind one of the shortcomings in the treatment of our support for the aerospace industry. It warrants drawing that comparison.

The NDP is in favour of the idea of the Cape Town convention and protocol which we understand would reduce the risks and costs of selling aircraft internationally. We support the intention of the protocol, which is to reduce the costs of purchasing aircraft for developing countries. We are sympathetic to the plight of developing countries. We are also sympathetic to the difficulty developing countries have in getting capital or finding lending agencies willing to provide the level of capital necessary to purchase large ticket items like aircraft. They pay ridiculous premiums on the international borrowing marketplace for capital of that nature. We understand the protocol is designed in such away to accommodate.

I have been negligent, Madam Speaker, in pointing out that am splitting my time with the member for Hamilton Centre.

I know the member Hamilton Centre has been following this issue with great interest and care because of the area he represents and the jobs associated with this type of industry sector. He is eager to share his views with the House today as well.

One of things that strikes me is that there is more than one way for us to promote the aerospace industry in the country, be it in Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver or anywhere where we have aerospace industry workers and plants. One is to try to enhance the marketplace as per the Cape Town convention and Bill C-4. Another is to provide stimulus or assistance to that industry so it can retool and stay current with the market demands that have been improved. Another is education and training and ensuring that there is an adequately skilled source of workers coming up through the labour market training system. We should address that in the House of Commons in the context of the health and well-being of aerospace industry.

We have seen a complete abandonment of any commitment to labour market training by the Liberal government. It has devolved that to the provinces in a very haphazard and less than satisfactory way. It has signed nine individual labour market training agreements with nine individual provinces, with no particular national standards and with a patchwork quilt of training.

The aerospace industry is one industry sector that has received very short shrift in any of the interprovincial or intergovernmental training strategies. One of the problems with that is it leaves the industry vulnerable. If we do not have a human resources strategy associated with an industry sector, we will be vulnerable and subject to raid within the industry sector for skilled people, one company raiding skilled people from the other. It does not build any kind of cohesive plan which will give us confidence that the sector will be stable and well served.

I would like to use my remaining moments to compliment and feature one such program in the city of Winnipeg, run by Tec-Voc School, initiated by the acting deputy minister of education, Dwight Botting. It has partnered with the aerospace industry, not at the community college level, not at the post-secondary education level, at the high school level to do an integrated work and learn program to groom young employees for the aerospace program. It is an overwhelming success. We have met an industry need with a sensible approach that keeps kids in school, gives them hope and optimism that they can go into well paying jobs. It also provides the stability and confidence for the manufacturers in the riding, knowing there is a pool of adequately skilled young people coming up through the ranks. The employees training is geared specifically to the manufacturing plants. That match will be a recipe for growth in the industry.

Therefore, there is more than one type of program to help our aerospace industry remain healthy. One is to help it develop international markets by supporting the Cape Town convention and Bill C-4. Another, which is equally important, is a suitably skilled workforce.

This is one thing we can expand on with vision. If the House of Commons chose to, we could give direction to the government to expand the role of the EI program to bring it back to one of its former designated uses and that is labour market training on a national comprehensive scale. The EI fund is showing a surplus of $500 million a month, not per year, but per month.

Income maintenance has always been the primary role for the EI program, but in the designated uses of the of the EI Act, there are also labour market training, apprenticeship, et cetera. We have devolved all that to the provinces without the financial backing to keep those programs solvent.

You are indicating, Madam Speaker, that I am out of time.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise for the first time as the newly elected member for Hamilton Centre. I want to first thank my constituents and say what an incredible honour it is to stand here at this moment and address the House of Commons of our nation.

I am joined by colleagues who were in the class of 1990 at Queen's Park in the Ontario legislature, the hon. members for Sault Ste. Marie, Dufferin—Caledon and Halton. The four of us were together at Queen's Park for 13 years and we now find ourselves fortunate enough to be here in the House of Commons. Prior to that, I had an opportunity to service on Hamilton city council.

I came here elected with the NDP caucus to address a number of issues that are important to this nation, not the least of which is the missile defence star wars, which is about to be thrust upon the people of Canada if the government and certainly the Prime Minister have their way. There are many areas of interest to me, such as environmental protection, health care, education and social services. There is a whole litany of such areas, but there are a couple of them that are of particular interest to me.

One of them is the future of cities across Canada. One of the key things we talk about in virtually every bill is money and the lack of it at every level of government. There is not a study that I am aware of in Canada which says anything other than that the future of our economic growth from coast to coast to coast is focused on the ability to have successful cities and local regional economies.

We have heard a lot of promises from this Prime Minister and this government. I have been fortunate enough to be assigned the cities portfolio as critic and, as I see it, one of my roles is in large part to ensure that the government, at the very least, enacts the minimum promises it made to cities. To that degree, we have already seen the government backing away somewhat, with certainly nowhere near the kind of investment we in the NDP believe needs to be made in our cities.

The other issue is the steel industry. That of course is very germane to Bill C-4, because the bill speaks to the aircraft industry internationally but obviously nationally, too, and it is important to us for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is, for a member from Hamilton, the steel industry. As my friend from Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale mentioned, a thriving, growing aircraft industry in Canada is good for the steel industry. We, along with my good friend from Sault Ste. Marie and a number of other communities, are the steel capital of Canada. That is not to mention all the support jobs generated by the parts industry in supplying both the steel industry and the aircraft industry and, by extension, the auto industry, which was also mentioned earlier.

This bill should, if enacted in the right way, provide us with a more thriving aircraft industry. Why does that matter to us beyond the obvious? It creates jobs, of course, but what really matters is the kinds of jobs that are created. We are talking about value added jobs. That is where we win. Canada cannot win by underbidding the rest of the world, whether it is in wages, occupational health and safety or environmental laws. We cannot win that game. There will always be someone who is forced, and often exploited, to work at wages that are well below what we would ever ask of any Canadian. So we win here in Canada by the fact that we have a healthy, educated, motivated workforce. We cannot create that through tax cuts or by watering down protection for workers or protection for the environment.

An industry like the aircraft industry is hugely important to us in terms of our future and our ability to provide well-paid, challenging jobs for our children and grandchildren. If this bill at the end of the day is going to make for a stronger aircraft industry, then that is going to create a stronger steel industry and auto industry, because of the availability of disposable income from the people who have these hopefully decently paid jobs with the disposable income that allows them to buy a car and allows them to buy the other things that keep our economy going.

I will wrap up my first time on my feet here--and I am so glad I remembered to do this because it is really important--by paying my respects to and complimenting my predecessor, the Hon. Stan Keyes. Stan served in this place for 16 years with great honour and distinction. He is well respected in our community. Losing an election can happen for a lot of reasons, as those of us who have been in politics for a long time all know, and one ought not to take it personally.

In this case, I want to underscore that this was nothing to do with Stan as an individual. It was the politics of the day and I ran a pretty good campaign to boot, but Stan is someone who is held in a great deal of respect in the city of Hamilton. I am honoured to follow in his footsteps. I will do the best I can to be the kind of representative for Hamilton Centre that I know Stan was in the past and that he would have been had he been here in my place.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my NDP colleague's speech. However, I might give some background about aerospace in Canada.

When I was elected in 2000, 62% of jobs in the aerospace industry were in Quebec. As a matter of fact, Canada's Prime Minister at the time, Mr. Jean Chrétien, had said that aerospace was to Quebec what the auto industry was to Ontario. He proved it to us: he closed the GM plant in Boisbriand. Of course, since that time, as members will have realize, we no longer have an auto industry in Quebec. According to the last industry figures, the percentage of jobs in aerospace manufacturing in Quebec is 55%. So we went from 62% to 55%.

Many Quebeckers will say that the best way for Quebec to create its own jobs would be of course to have its own country.

However, I ask my NDP colleague if, frankly, it would not be time for the federal government to invest the funds necessary to support the aerospace industry in Canada, which is one of the main employers in Quebec. Would it not be time for the government to show its true colours and for all parties in the House to support tremendous capital infusion in the aerospace industry throughout Canada?

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

I would say very directly, Madam Speaker, yes, we do support major investment in our aeronautical and aircraft industry, for the simple reason that if we look around the world, we will see that the most successful aircraft assembly, and quite frankly the only successful aircraft assembly, is in nations where the government is playing a major role. There might be the odd exception or two, but all the major players have significant investment in partnership with at least their national levels of government and sometimes other levels of government too.

As for us somehow believing that magically jobs are going to come here to Canada, I do not know why, or for whatever reason; they might think people just want to be nice to Canada. But that is not the way it is going to happen. There has to be R and D investment. That is why Bill C-4 is important, because it speaks to the marketing end of it.

There is the whole continuum of aircraft development, the research and development, the assembly, the parts assembly, the final assembly, the sale and the maintenance. All these big jobs are big money. I am certainly not going to get into a tussle over whether or not these jobs and investments should go to the member's province or mine. We will deal with that specifically as things come up one-off, but the question the member asked was, do we support in principle the philosophical argument that in order to have a thriving aircraft industry in Canada there needs to be major investment by and a role for the national government? The answer to that unequivocally is oui.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Madam Speaker, I have listened to the speeches made so far on this extremely important bill for Quebec. My colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel just highlighted how very important it is for Quebec. The industry is shrinking and it should not be allowed to shrink any further. I see the Minister for Transport coming in; he himself mentioned that the aerospace industry is to Quebec what the automotive industry is to Ontario.

In the same vein as what was said earlier, is it not true that it is extremely important to have an aerospace policy that would truly help the industry in view of the fact that, for the most part, this industry is located in Quebec—we can say it is a Quebec industry—and that 240 out of 250 aerospace companies are SMEs? They are the way to the future. To have big corporations, you need SMEs. SMEs as a whole employ 40,000 workers in Quebec. I would encourage the minister to invest in that area.

Would the member, who talked about training, not agree that training is done in part by SMEs? For instance, I know that in Trois-Rivières there are plants that manufacture airplane parts, renovate airplanes, painting them in particular. Their workers are competent and would like nothing better than to hone their skills and become experts in their field. I am wondering if this is what he meant when he talked about getting students to specialize in that area.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, in response to the hon. member, I think I did mention in my remarks that one of the benefits of the aerospace industry was the value added jobs. It is hard to have highly skilled workers if there is no decent education system in a country. It is harder to have highly skilled workers if they are hungry or sick. Canada already has a huge built in advantage. We need to build on that advantage.

If I understand the member's question correctly, he is asking about training specifically in the aerospace industry and whether or not we should be focusing some special attention in that area. The member is nodding to me that I do understand his question. I would say yes. How can we possibly have value added, which comes from the skills, education and talents that individual workers have, if we are not investing in the training that results in those kinds of skilled workers?

When we debate down the road, assuming things go the way they are supposed to today, about where the money for EI should go, perhaps we ought to be talking about training with that money. The Liberals seem to have found lots of uses for it. Maybe we should be finding strategic uses for the money which indeed could include highly skilled training, particularly in the aerospace industry.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Godbout Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, let me congratulate you on your appointment to this position. This is the first opportunity I have had to do this.

I am pleased to be able to provide some information on the background and history of the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment.

As evidenced by recent events such as September 11, the global economic downturn, and SARS, the aviation sector is particularly vulnerable to economic shocks and other geopolitical events.

This industry would benefit greatly from a harmonized international legal regime to increase certainty for those providing credit to airlines and aircraft manufacturers.

It was a Canadian delegate to the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, or UNIDROIT, who first proposed the establishment of an international registry for security interests in aircraft in 1988. More than 15 years later, this initiative has finally become a reality. It is strongly supported by both the airline and manufacturing elements of the aviation industry, as well as by those providing financing.

In the mid-90s, it was decided that the convention and protocol would be developed as a joint project co-sponsored by Rome-based UNIDROIT and the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization or ICAO.

UNIDROIT has 59 member states. It is a leading international organization in the harmonization of private law and the preparation of uniform rules of private law for adoption by states. The ICAO, of which 188 states are members, is the specialized agency of the United Nations for matters relating to international civil aviation, including the recognition of rights in aircraft. Its membership is, therefore, virtually universal.

Canada played a leadership role in the negotiation of the convention and protocol, which are designed to facilitate the financing of aircraft equipment--airframes, aircraft engines and helicopters. There was--

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member for Ottawa--Orléans. He will have seven minutes remaining.

We will now go to statements by members.

Citizenship
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, two generations ago my grandparents arrived in Canada as refugees. What they found was a land of opportunity and freedom where they could lay down roots and prosper. In time, they started a small business and named it “Future” because they could look forward to their future in this new country.

Today it is an honour to represent Etobicoke Centre, a community that is reflective of Canada's multiculturalism. During Canada's Citizenship Week, let us reflect on the responsibilities of belonging to a proud, strong and multicultural society. This year's celebration centres on the theme of cultivating one's commitment to Canada. Who more can appreciate a commitment to Canada than those who worked so hard to receive citizenship, and who in Canada have found a new home and new opportunities.

I join members of this distinguished House in congratulating the new citizens of our country, firm in the conviction that with each new citizen we are deepening the human diversity and adding to the cultural mosaic that makes this country so remarkable.

Gasoline Taxes
Statements By Members

October 18th, 2004 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to support a motion recently passed unanimously by Renfrew County Council.

The council states that since rural Canadians are not well served by public transit to commute to jobs, attend health appointments or access recreational opportunities, it is necessary to own and maintain personal motor vehicles to seek employment, attend at health care centres and ferry family members to recreational centres.

Excise taxes on petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel have become a financial burden on many Canadians who own and operate personal motor vehicles because public transit is not available to them. The federal government has imposed excise taxes on gasoline of 10¢ a litre, 4¢ a litre on diesel fuel and charges GST of 7% of the total price, and collects royalty taxes at the extraction stage of manufacturing.

Renfrew County Council is calling upon the Prime Minister to immediately roll back the excise taxes on gasoline by 5¢ a litre and on diesel fuel by 2¢ a litre.

Thanks to Reeve Bill Croshaw and Mayor Vance Gutzman for moving and seconding that motion.