House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was countries.

Topics

Customs Tariff
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Of course, Mr. Speaker, every individual, particularly in the opposition but also on the government side, has many personal things that he or she would like to get to. The member who has just spoken has things he would like to get to.

For instance, I have some quarrels with the minister in charge of amateur sports. I would dearly love to get at that because I have an issue that very much affects my province. We should be able to get these things out of the way and bring in new legislation. This would be meaningful legislation, particularly with the playoffs going on in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. I would love to stand and debate that particular issue, but it looks like I will not ever have that opportunity.

This bill is the type of legislation that I would prefer not to see at this time. I would prefer new legislation for which people have been waiting for over a year.

Customs Tariff
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Reed Elley Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to rise in the House on behalf of my constituents in Nanaimo--Cowichan and to speak to Bill C-21, an act to amend the Customs Tariff.

On the face of it, the bill seems to be a fairly innocuous type of legislation. It is fairly mundane and routine, but it is interesting that this particular bill has provoked what I think is a fair amount of good discussion in the House today. There are times when I sit in this place on my House duty day and say to myself, “Is there really much point?” But we have had a good debate today and I think the bill, even though it seems to be fairly mundane, has been able to spark some interest in a number of ways as we have discussed it.

For the benefit of those who perhaps may be watching the debate on television, which might be an act of masochism, I am not sure, Bill C-21 amends two sections of the customs tariff. Specifically, the general preferential tariff and the least developed country tariff are extended for another 10 years until June 30, 2014. Of course one of the reasons the bill has to be put through the House in this manner as speedily as possible is that the current legislation expires on June 30 of this year, so there is some urgency to do this, particularly if there is an election coming.

The customs tariff is organized into several major components: the most favoured nations tariff, generally called the MFNT; the general preferential tariff, the GPT; and the least developed country tariff, the LDCT. These are nations that we have direct trade agreements with or nations that are subject to the general tariff rate.

The first three categories apply to our trading partners in the World Trade Organization with which we do not have separate trade agreements. Countries such as the United States, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Israel and others belong to the fourth category, as tariff rates have been negotiated bilaterally, and trilaterally, of course, in the case of NAFTA, which encompasses the countries of Canada, the United States and Mexico. Four other nations, such as North Korea, do not belong to any category and are subject to the higher general tariff rate of 35%.

The vast majority of the countries in the world with which we have trading relations fall into the categories of the GPT or the LDCT. Examples of members in the GPT include China, Brazil, Kuwait and most other developed countries with which we trade. The LDCT list includes nations such as the Congo, Somalia, Haiti and other underdeveloped nations.

Both the GPT and the LDCT provide very low to non-existent tariff rates for nations in those categories. The reason behind putting these countries in these categories is that hopefully it will encourage the growth of those economies and trade relations with Canada. Most of these countries are developing nations that need to have some kind of free trade or rules based trading agreements with other countries to stimulate their economies. Of course, the problem exists that if these tariff rates were to expire these nations would be treated as MFN partners, most favoured nations partners, and then would be subject to that higher MFN tariff rate.

One of the interesting things that has happened in this debate today is that it has provoked an interesting debate on the whole question of globalization. Globalization is a huge topic in my riding. I hear about it very frequently from constituents, some of whom have very great concerns about globalization. I must say that there are times when I agree with their concerns.

However, the reality of globalization is that it is something that cannot be stopped. It is going to take place. In the kind of world in which we live today, where technology has created such a small world for us, where we can travel to other countries in such a timely and efficient manner, and where we can have interaction with developing nations at world forums and in other ways, this is something that just simply is not going to stop. What we need to see is that within the spread of globalization there is maintained for these less developed countries an opportunity to develop with justice and equality and fairness for all the people who exist in these nations.

Of course a lot of people are concerned about what could be classified as sweatshop operations in some of the developing nations, where charges have been levelled against large multinational companies that go in and seemingly take advantage of low wages and exploit the population. Sometimes it has been proven, of course, that they have done this with very small children. Those are concerns that we would have and I do not think anybody in the House, whether they favour open free trade or otherwise, would not be concerned about conditions like these.

However, I think we need to look at the positive aspects of globalization. Of course, this bill is really a housekeeping bill that puts some parameters around the effects of globalization. China is a very good example. I have had the opportunity to do a fair bit of travelling in southeast Asia in the last few years. I have visited Thailand, Taiwan, China and some other countries in that area such as Hong Kong. I think China is a good example of an emerging nation that has reaped the rewards of globalization in a very positive way.

What has happened in China, of course, is that it has opened its doors to increased foreign investment. That has been a particularly hard thing for it to do, coming out of its communist ideology, in being able to somehow conform to the rules and the practices of the World Trade Organization.

Those who go to Shanghai now will see simply acres and acres of brand new factories that have been developed over the last 10 years or so and are now providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of people who had no real jobs before. They are people who perhaps never in their lives made more than 10¢ a day in our money. Now they are making $1 a day. Maybe they are making $10 a day. In our terms as we look at that we say to ourselves that this is not much of a wage, but we have to remember that the buying power of $10 in China is a whole lot more than the buying power of $10 in this country.

Along with the increase in their wages, there is indeed an increase in the standard of living in that country. One cannot help but see this as one travels the country. They are certainly better off, or at least those folks now getting involved in the new industry are far better off than they were 20 years ago. Those people who walked to work or rode a bicycle before this can now afford a motorcycle. The people who could not afford to live in anything but a one room shack are now living in new four room houses. Again, that is not up to our standards. I am in the process of building a new house and in comparison to what I saw in China, it is a mansion. It is not a mansion for me, but it would be for them. However, they are certainly better off than they were and it is a result of globalization.

On the other side of globalization and free trade, and opening up economic borders, we have the problem of protectionism. We have seen protectionism rear its ugly head in the United States recently. The softwood lumber problem is a result of a protectionist policy. Even though we have had a rules-based agreement with the United States over softwood lumber, it has not worked because one of the trading partners has refused to open up its borders to free trade.

In my riding of Nanaimo--Cowichan that breakdown in free trade and that breakdown in the good effects of globalization has caused a huge problem. Hundreds of jobs have been lost because of the softwood lumber problem. If we did not have the arbitration policies that are in effect through NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, we would never see an end to this resolution.

Protectionism is not just an American problem. It is also a problem for our government. It knew for five years that the softwood lumber agreement would expire. It sat by on the sidelines and did nothing to allow us to move into another rules-based trade agreement with the United States on softwood lumber. When one expired, we simply moved into something else. That is one of the problems with globalization. That is one of the problems when governments do not take the opportunity to use the rules properly to create good economic conditions in this country.

We in the Conservative Party agree with Bill C-21. We see some of the problems it highlights in terms of the extension of tariffs. We will be supporting the bill when it comes to the House for a vote.

Customs Tariff
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. member will have eight minutes left after question period for his speech, along with a 10 minute question and comment period.

The Environment
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the occasion of World Meteorological Day it is timely to refer to new scientific evidence provided by the Meteorological Service of Canada which points to the further thinning of the ozone layer in the decades ahead because of climate change.

In fact, greenhouse gas emissions causing ozone thinning are now three times more potent than 40 years ago. Ozone depletion has health implications for humans and according to the medical profession could lead up to a 10% annual increase of skin cancers which now strike almost 60,000 people in Canada every year.

Given the serious consequences resulting from ozone depletion, the government has an additional reason for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for calling on reluctant provincial governments to do the same for the sake of protecting public health.

The Budget
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, today a budget will be brought down in this place. No doubt many dollars will be tossed around and promises made in a vain attempt by the floundering Liberal government to buy back Canadian voter support.

How hypocritical and cynical this will be. After all, any moneys committed will come from the pockets of overtaxed Canadians, who I believe are sick and tired of the corrupt, arrogant Liberals currently in power. This will not only be a cynical attempt to buy back support, but at the same time an attempt to divert the attention of Canadians from the scandals plaguing the federal Liberal government: ad scam, the flag flap, and HRDC to name but a few.

Well, budget or not, Canadians cannot be bought off like Liberal-friendly ad firms. Canadians want and need change. The Conservative Party of Canada is ready, willing and able to provide that change. A new party with a new vision, a new agenda, and a clear choice for Canadians is what Canadians want and what the CPC will provide.

The Environment
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, home to the Niagara escarpment, residents of Halton riding and particularly those in Milton are motivated to do their part to protect the environment. Milton Hydro is helping them by providing information about their electricity consumption.

Yesterday, Milton Hydro Distribution Inc. received an energy efficiency award from the Minister of Natural Resources for its Milton interval metering project. By focusing on the demand side of energy management, Milton Hydro's interval metering project encourages people to change their consumption habits from peak hours to off-peak hours.

If this were combined with variable electricity rates, it would be an even more powerful incentive for conservation. I wish to congratulate Milton Hydro on winning this national award.

RAI International
Statements By Members

March 23rd, 2004 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to reaffirm my support for Canadians of Italian origin in my riding of Ahuntsic and in other regions of Canada who are demanding to have access to RAI International, the digital Italian television broadcasting network.

RAI International, which is received in 238 countries around the world, wants to offer its programming in Canada as well. The CRTC is currently examining RAI International's application for a licence to broadcast its programs in Canada.

Some of my Liberal colleagues and I have worked in collaboration with Canadians of Italian origin to assure that their views are taken into account when the CRTC renders its decision. We will continue to work on behalf of our Italian-speaking senior constituents who want to have access to Italian language and culture, and hope that this request will be given the consideration it deserves resulting in a positive outcome.

Government of Canada
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, after 10 years of a Liberal government, British Columbians are ready for change. British Columbians have been anxious to put the Liberal government out to pasture for a long time now and finally, with the new Conservative Party, that day is just around the corner.

British Columbians have a long list of grievances with the Liberal government, and the new Conservative Party has the right answers.

Liberals are opposed to Senate reform. Conservatives say yes.

Liberals have done nothing to fight street racing. Conservatives will make it a crime.

Liberals are doing nothing to fight marijuana grow ops. Conservatives will shut them down.

Liberals have done nothing on softwood lumber. Conservatives will open markets.

Liberals believe in making government bigger. Conservatives believe in making family budgets bigger.

Liberals wastefully register hunters. Conservatives will register pedophiles and sexual predators.

Liberals insult our veterans and gut our armed forces. Conservatives will protect national defence and Canadian sovereignty.

British Columbians need and deserve a new government in Ottawa. For too long, B.C. issues have been left behind by the Liberal government, and the new Conservative Party is B.C.'s opportunity for a better province and a better Canada.

Jewish Community
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Canada.

On March 11, the League for Human Rights of B'nai B'rith Canada released its annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents for 2003. It is important that Canadians from coast to coast heed this wake up call and speak out against hatred of the Jews.

Some 584 incidents were reported to the league in 2003, an increase of 20% over the previous year and double the number since 2000. There was a 45% increase in Toronto and a 17% increase in Montreal.

In my City of Winnipeg, a Jewish organization and a Jewish business received anti-Semitic mailings. This past week the greater Toronto area, as we heard, experienced gravestone desecrations and racist graffiti on homes, synagogues and schools.

There is no doubt, Jewish communities across Canada are under attack. The Jewish community is the only ethnic group in Canada that is forced to hire private guards to defend its schools, synagogues and community centres.

Canadians of all ethnicities must stand tall against the threat to our way of life. We as government must work with other governments and with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to combat anti-Semitism.

Epilepsy Awareness Month
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, “Lavender. Think Epilepsy”. This initiative was officially launched in March to mark Epilepsy Awareness Month.

The lavender flower is traditionally associated with solitude—symbolizing the feelings of isolation and seclusion that people living with epilepsy often face. That is why the lavender ribbon, representing this flower, was chosen to increase public awareness of epilepsy.

Nearly 120,000 Quebeckers suffer from epilepsy, according to the Association québécoise de l'épilepsie. Most of them lead an active and productive life thanks to the progress of medical science. The greatest challenge for epileptics is being accepted by a wary public with outdated misconceptions about epilepsy.

I invite all my colleagues in the House and the public to proudly wear this ribbon, which represents hope and awareness.

Refugees
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to inform my colleagues of the unacceptable situation of three Palestinian refugees taking shelter in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce church in Montreal.

These refugees are clearly displaced persons. They are elderly Palestinians who have been living in refugee camps in Lebanon since 1948. For most of this time, they have lived in a camp in which internationally recognized terrorist groups are active. Canada cannot on the one hand welcome Palestinian refugees in order to assist the Middle East peace process and on the other hand refuse to allow these three Palestinian refugees our protection.

If Canada is truly serious about its efforts for true peace in the Middle East, then it is also our duty to give these three refugees our protection.

Toronto Jewish Community
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to day to express the outrage and concern of my constituents, my community and all peace loving Canadians.

On the morning of March 15, residents of the Thornhill Jewish community awoke to find swastikas and other hateful graffiti on their front doors, cars and garages. Nearby, at the cemetery where my late father is buried, headstones were desecrated. Synagogues were defaced with messages of hate. These are cowardly acts of anti-Semitism.

Canadians share the values of tolerance and respect. They are the cornerstone of our country and we have enshrined them in our charter, which guarantees equality for all.

Canada strives to ensure that we can live in peace and security. We must send a message, loud and clear, that Canada does not and will not tolerate these incidents of racial hatred. They are hate crimes. Our silence will signal acceptance of these acts and this is unacceptable to all Canadians.

Therefore, I stand here today sending a message expressing my personal outrage at these--

Toronto Jewish Community
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Vancouver Island North.

Taiwan
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, as the chair of the Society of Canadians for Asia-Pacific Freedom and Democracy, I wrote to President Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan to congratulate him on his re-election. I have met with the president on two occasions and it gives me great pleasure to know that the democratic reforms that he champions will continue.

Thirteen million Taiwanese voted in the presidential election and the margin of victory was only 29,000 votes.

In another hard fought election four years ago, President Chen, of the DPP, or Democratic People's Party, became the first democratically elected president to bring a peaceful transition from the KMT, who had ruled Taiwan since 1949. Democracy has been embraced by the people and it is making great progress.

Canadians are proud to have Taiwan as our Asia-Pacific friend and neighbour.

Taiwan
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, on March 20, Taiwan held its third democratic presidential election. Close to 13 million Taiwanese exercised their right to vote, for a turnout of 85%. With the exception of one potentially very serious incident, the election took place in an atmosphere of calm, dignity and respect for democracy.

I had the pleasure of observing these elections as the head of the Canadian delegation to Taiwan. On behalf of all members of the delegation, I congratulate the people of Taiwan on their participation in the democratic process. The 500 missiles the People's Republic of China has pointed at Taiwan did nothing to change the Taiwanese desire for democracy.