House of Commons Hansard #141 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Etobicoke North
Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Burnaby—New Westminster for his knowledge of this topic and for his very useful remarks.

My question concerns adding value to diamonds that are currently being produced in Canada. Would the member have any thoughts on what Canada could or should be doing with respect to adding more value to rough diamonds in Canada, the cutting, polishing and the downstream activities from there?

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I feel very strongly that we need value added on our exports, not only in the diamond sector.

I come from British Columbia which is a province where we export raw logs. That is a sore point with many British Columbians. When we export those raw logs, we export job. What that means is that resource is creating jobs elsewhere.

It is similar to the diamond trade. In the last few years we have created a vital and strong diamond industry. We now need to ensure that we have in place the type of technical and vocational training to ensure downstream development. That will ensure more jobs in Canada.

Given the marketing of Canadian diamonds, which has been very effective, the more downstream value added development we do, the more jobs we create in Canada. Ultimately, the goal of Parliament and of the government is to use the vast resources Canada has such as our energy resources, our forests, our diamonds and our minerals. They are second to none in the world.

With these vast resources, I would suggest that we do not create the type of quality jobs we need in our country. The more value added we have on these products, which are natural resources, the more we will get the type of quality family sustaining jobs and incomes that are important for all Canadians.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I would like to weigh in on that last topic as well. I agree with both speakers that the greatest benefit to Canada is value added on our natural resources. We do have some processing of diamonds. We have some in Matane, in the Gaspé and in Yellowknife, where I visited a plant and we have some small operations in Vancouver and Toronto.

The Canadian government is also trying to help out. We have some programs with Aurora College where we are providing some funds in enterprise development programs.

One problem we are having, because this is so internationally competitive, is attracting people to the industry. People working in Antwerp doing this type of processing are skilled and have the aptitude to do this work. They can get higher paying jobs in Canada.

Would the member have any suggestions as to how we might deal with that problem, so we could access more cutting and polishing? The experts in the shop that I visited told me that the aboriginal people are very skilled in this profession. At Diavik, approximately 38% of the employees are aboriginal. It seems it would be an excellent opportunity for our aboriginal people.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the key is the vocational training itself. Given the unemployment rate and the fact that most jobs that have been created over the past decade have been part time or temporary in nature, if the right training exists, then people will want to get into those types of jobs.

Since the parliamentary secretary has given me the opportunity, I will make a pitch for the NDP's better balance budget of last spring, in which we look to invest $1.5 billion into post secondary education, including vocational training. As a result of that, more people will get the kind of training that can lead to that value added downstream type of production based on Canada's natural resources.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a few remarks to this bill. It is not a big bill. It is quite short and there seems to be a fair consensus in the House in support of it. However, I would like my remarks to be taken as constructive in providing some context for the bill.

There are two or three perspectives that I would like to address. The first is the issue of regulation of a trade. Essentially the bill puts in place legal components that would in part regulate the diamond trade. It is being done for good reason, but we should recognize that it is a regulation. We are putting in place an obstacle to what would otherwise be a free trade in a commodity.

We ought to recognize that we do this in government only reluctantly or for good cause. I repeat the words sometimes used by the Prime Minister, that if government does not have to be involved, then it should not be involved. In this case there are international dynamics at play that cause us to respond and offer this legislation to regulate the diamond trade.

Regulating a trade is a negative normally. It creates an obstacle and it increases the cost to those who participate in that economic activity. We regulate cigarettes. We raise revenue with cigarettes. I think of propane gas tanks. There are regulations that govern propane gas tanks and certifications. This means that we cannot buy and sell propane gas tanks without a certification, and that slows down the trade. That particular certification is done for a public safety reason. If we allow the trade in defective tanks sooner or later there will be an explosion, a defect, an accident and an injury and/or death.

I want to reflect that in my remarks today. Although it is a regulation, we are doing it for what we believe to be a very good reason and doing it in concert with the international community. We also recognize that when we regulate a trade or a commercial activity, it could induce a black market. Often in our commercial history, the creation of a regulation induces a black market to develop. In this case the regulation is intended to circumscribe and constrain a black market in diamonds.

Therefore, the goal we are seeking to achieve in this case is to constrain the movement of rough diamonds, which are sometimes called blood diamonds, blood stones, that have been used to finance civil war or insurgency principally in Africa. However, most of us know that diamonds have been used for decades and maybe centuries, or parts of centuries, as a means of financing many things.

Let us take a look at the civil war and insurgency issue. Diamonds are used because they are small, compact, carry a lot of value and are not heavy. I suppose those who work in the black market could put their resources into gold but it is very heavy. They could put it into currency, but currency is usually in bills that are marked and traceable. There are other commodities that could be used, but diamonds have a lot of value and they are compact and portable. They can be moved around and bought and sold internationally because they have those values both in industry for industrial purposes and in the jewellery and fashion field.

The background in some countries involved insurgents who had taken over diamond mines, or stolen diamonds from mines or stocks of diamonds. In Africa where the mines exist, they used those diamonds to finance an insurgency. Maybe some of those people think of themselves as freedom fighters, but the bottom line is that these insurgencies have proven very difficult to constrain. As other colleagues in the House have pointed out, there have been thousands and thousands killed and maimed in the insurgencies.

The diamond is not the problem. It is the people who black market and sell the diamonds and buy the guns and the bombs who are the problem. Nevertheless, the diamond is the vehicle.

The international community, including Canada, a few years ago decided that there should be a process to certify and track diamonds used commercially. The process they developed was called the Kimberley Process. At the end of it, they agreed that a Kimberley Process certification should accompany rough diamonds as they are bought and sold on the wholesale or commercial marketplace.

The term “Kimberley” I think relates to a very famous diamond mind in South Africa. South Africa was a huge producer of diamonds. Perhaps it was number one at some point in world history, and it may still be. South Africa clearly was involved in development of these new rules.

Canada has subscribed to the Kimberley Process. We do that for good reason. We have observed the death, destruction, utter chaos and desperation of peoples involved in some of the insurgencies in the countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Republic of Congo and the multi-year insurgency in Angola. Most of these conflicts have not been fully resolved up to now, but some have happily.

Progress is being made by the people in those countries, with the assistance of the international community. In doing our part, we have introduced this legislation to enact the legal components necessary to regulate the diamond trade for the purpose of preventing this black market, which produced wealth and resources for these civil wars.

In the meantime, Canada has itself become a major diamond producer. We did not plan this. Fortunately, we have a very wealthy country and we have found diamonds. This is mostly in northern Canada. However, I understand there is the possibility of a play in northern Ontario now. Canada will have to be very certain that, under the Kimberly Process, our house legally, our rules and laws, are in order and are suited for the purpose of regulating the commercial trade in rough diamonds.

I make reference to remarks of other colleagues, as we look at the development of the diamond mining industry in Canada, that we should be taking public policy decisions provincially and federally that will enhance prospects for development of an orderly diamond cutting or design trade, whether it be in the north or in one of our cities in the south. Most of us would like to see something substantial happen with diamonds in the north. Wherever the trade is developed, we hope it will come with the economic multipliers that are associated with development of an industry like this.

Last, I want to go back to what I regard as the basics of the bill rather than the context. The bill itself adopts rules or definitions which allow the government to legally support the Kimberley process which I mentioned earlier. It allows the minister to adjust the definition of rough diamonds and to allow for developments in the industry later and to avoid any unintended obstacles to the development of a diamond mining trade, a diamond centre trade, jewellery design here in Canada. That is very important. As we legislate now, we should all recall that when we pass a law we actually write it in stone and it cannot be changed unless we rewrite the law later.

The statute we are adopting here, as we understand it, allows the minister in future years to adjust that definition to exclude from the term “rough diamonds”, the basket definition, certain other types of diamonds which will have greater definition and which should not be included. I assume that same approach is being used by our other international partners in the Kimberley process.

As I said, the bill will fulfill Canada's international obligations. The bill will have a positive impact on those elements of the diamond trade which were financing on a black market basis the insurgencies in those countries and in others.

I will close if I may with the hope that the regulation we are putting in place will not impair orderly, lawful development of the diamond trade either in Canada or elsewhere. I know that the bill reflects Canada's continuing engagement internationally in an effort to assist other countries to protect themselves from the kinds of insurgencies and civil wars that the black market diamond trade has given rise to in the past.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted the member mentioned the importance of diamonds to the economy, but he only mentioned northern Ontario. In order that members of the public who are watching can understand how surprisingly fast this industry is developing in that Canada is third in the world already, I will outline a number of the areas that people may not be aware of.

The two producing diamond mines, Diavik and Ekati in the Northwest Territories are only two mines and we are already third in the world. There is also Kennedy Lake in the Northwest Territories. In Nunavut there are a number as well, Jericho, Coronation Gulf, Jackson Inlet way up above the top end of Baffin Island, and Melville Peninsula. Then over in Quebec and Labrador in the north in the Ungava Peninsula there is exploration. There is the Otish Mountains in Quebec. In Ontario there is the Attawapiskat and Wawa and then going west to Manitoba, Fort à la Corne in Saskatchewan and Buffalo Hills in Alberta.

I do not know if the member wants to comment, but those areas are where our natural resources are tremendously important for us.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course Scarborough—Rouge River is the place I would love to see the diamond trade centre develop, but I thank the hon. member for going through the list of the locations of the diamond mines. I did refer to northern Canada as where the diamond play was happening and I made a side reference to northern Ontario, but clearly the list shows several provinces and the whole northern piece of Canada, Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the development of an industry. I am pretty sure that not all of us have our heads around this yet. It will involve collaboration with provincial and territorial governments and the federal government. At some point the private sector is clearly going to have to step up to the plate with or without the suasion of the various governments in Canada to try to enhance prospects for development of a domestic diamond trade centre. That has future exciting prospects.

For the time being we are simply regulating the transport and the packaging of the rough diamonds. We have a long way to go before the other develops, but I thank my colleague for mentioning these things.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Etobicoke North
Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I must say I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination on diamonds. We do not have too many diamond mines in Etobicoke North, but I did have the opportunity very early in my career to live in South Africa.

When we look at the term Kimberley process, and the parliamentary secretary sitting beside the member probably would know, but I am sure it is a takeoff from where the big diamond mines are in Kimberley, South Africa. Most of them were owned and operated principally by the big diamond company DeBeers.

Just to put this bill in some sort of context and give a better understanding for people like myself, the process is meant to ensure that diamonds come from diamond mines that are not in areas of conflict, and are not blood diamonds where they are being used to fund conflict in various parts of the world. As I understand it, the Kimberley process is an embedding of some mark within the diamond itself. There is some way to differentiate the diamond so that people will know that it is not a conflict diamond or a blood diamond.

I know there was some discussion at some point, and maybe this is how the process works today, that there would be a way to put a Canadian symbol within the diamond so that people could recognize it as a diamond from Canada. I must say I have not followed this as intensely as I might have, but I am wondering if the member knows how the Kimberley process works. Is it something that is embedded in the diamond itself? How are the criteria developed? What is involved in designating certain diamonds as certified under the Kimberley process?

It is one of those things we all need to be very concerned about because we do not want to encourage the trade in conflict diamonds. These diamonds are available in countries such as Sierra Leone and, as many colleagues in this House have already outlined, in Angola. They are used to fuel conflict and huge ethnic warfare. These groups fight with great tenacity to take control of the diamond fields so that they can further fund their activities, be they involved in terrorism or overthrowing governments, or the government itself to protect its interests.

I am glad to see the Government of Canada is acting on this. Maybe the member for Scarborough--Rouge River could comment on my question.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have many occupations and trades represented among the members of the House of Commons but I am not aware whether we have any diamond cutters among our membership.

As I understand the remarks of my colleague from Etobicoke North on whether the Kimberley process involves somehow marking the diamond or not, I understand the Kimberley process to be a procedure, not one that involves the cutting or marking of the diamond, but rather a certification on paper or some other medium that accompanies a bundle of rough diamonds.

The Kimberley process is one which says that a bundle of rough diamonds comes from a location that is secure from diversion, the black market and the blood diamond trade. It is not actually a process of marking the stones. If it were to be that, I think we had better get some experts from the diamond cutting trade, because I have a funny feeling that those who cut diamonds for the jewellery market would be falling over now, thinking that the Canadian Parliament might be considering marking their precious diamonds in some way with “made in Canada” or a word mark.

I do not think that is what is involved here. I am pretty sure it is not and that the diamonds will be clean. There may be a few that have the signature of the designer somewhere buried in them by laser or otherwise, I do not know, but the future will tell.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, there was a good suggestion earlier. They cannot be marked because they are still in the rough form and they are going to be cut up but more descriptive elements were put in and I think it is something the department should look at.

I also forgot to mention when I was describing the breadth of the industry and how important it is to northerners that over 70% of the employees at Diavik are northerners and over 30% of them are aboriginal people. I never mention my own riding and we do not have diamonds but I do want all those investors out there to know that we have emeralds. I have seen them and they are beautiful. Anyone who wants to invest in our emerald mine in Yukon, please do so.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think that was a pretty good commercial for the Yukon and I will just let it stand as is.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will admit that the riding of Saskatoon—Humboldt is probably not the centre of Canada's diamond trade and may very well never be the centre, but I do have somewhat of a unique perspective on a bill dealing with Canada's diamond trade.

The hon. member for Yukon made a wonderful advertisement for his riding. There was a period of time when I lived in the hon. member's riding. I was based out of Whitehorse doing mining and mineral exploration. That brings me to the unique perspective I have on this bill. Even though these are technical amendments to the Kimberley process certificate scheme and the goal is to make Canadian diamonds more acceptable to that protocol, the purpose of making Canadian diamonds more acceptable to that protocol is to make them more marketable, more saleable and to make them the premier product in the world when it comes to the marketing of diamonds.

I will put in a plug for it, in that we have the world's best diamond industry. We are very ethical. It is an environmentally friendly industry up in the north. If any community ever had a chance to choose any particular mine, it would choose a diamond mine. There are no problems with tailings, processing, et cetera, and the royalty regime is extraordinarily generous because of the high productivity per tonne.

My background in dealing with the overall diamond industry comes from that of an exploration mining geophysicist. In fact, in 2000 I had the pleasure of working up in the Northwest Territories in a place called Paulatuk which is about an hour and a half to two hour flight from Inuvik, in the neighbourhood of Tuktoyaktuk. In the summer of 2000 I had been working in the territories, Nunavut, doing some gold exploration, et cetera. I had the personal pleasure of going up there and participating in Canada's fledgling diamond industry as an exploration mining geophysicist.

If the House will indulge me, I will provide a little of the background of the mining and so forth. Because this is an important industry to the north, and even though my riding of Saskatoon—Humboldt is not north of 60, I feel it is important for all members of the House to promote other parts of the country and the industries in other parts of the country, to promote growth. We are all Canadians. We are all in this together. We want to have growth and prosperity, not just in our home ridings and regions, but all across Canada.

Diamond exploration is similar to the project that I worked on in Paulatuk in the Darnley Bay region. Basically we start off with something on a geological map, something that has caught the interest of a geologist, a geophysicist, generally something done by the Geological Survey of Canada. In the instance of the region where I did some exploration work, it was a gravity anomaly and it originally had started out as a base metal play. I guess they were hoping at one time to find the next Sudbury. In doing exploration work in the region there had been some till sampling, some gravel sampling and an analysis of the mineralogy. I am a geophysicist, not a mineralogist so if some of my old professors are watching this debate, on occasion the details may be incorrect here.

They had discovered certain garnets, certain other indicator minerals and even trace micro diamonds indicating the possible presence of kimberlite in with certain chromites. The aeromag and the electromagnetic surveys done by aircraft indicated the potential for a considerable amount of kimberlite in the area.

I was working for an exploration firm and we had gone into the area and were tightening up the targets using magnetic surveys and an EM map, an electromagnetic map, colloquially known in the industry as the MaxMin method--and I have no clue how that is translated into French--to begin to tighten the targets and work there.

When we go into these towns, not only are outside geophysicists and geologists employed, but we also employ a considerable number of people in a very small town. I would estimate that Paulatuk probably has around 200 people.

We were able to employ a considerable number of young people there working on the drill rig when we started to drill our targets, once we had made a decision where to drill. We even began to train them on how to use the field geophysical equipment and work the samplings that the geologists were examining.

What is the point of saying all this? Mining is very important to the north. The diamond mining industry in particular has been good for northern Canada. As has been alluded to earlier, Diavik and Ekati have proven to be two of the world's most successful mines and have proven to be wonderful for the Northwest Territories and again, for all of Canada.

That is the personal perspective that I bring to this industry, someone with an intimate hands on detail of the very early aspects of the rough diamond trade. That is where my overall interest comes into play here.

As I noted earlier and has been noted previously in this debate, Canada is an active member of the Kimberley Process certificate scheme which is essentially an agreement between nations to stop the illicit diamond trade, a diamond trade that was fueled predominantly through alluvial deposits in Africa in zones of conflict. There, rebel groups, terrorist groups and so on, would fund their operations, their criminal, lawless behaviour, their murdering of innocent people, through the sale of diamonds. Diamonds being the most portable, the most transferrable source of wealth that is easily taken around the world.

A handful of diamonds is very valuable and can be traded next perhaps to or even more so than illegal drugs. It is a method that is very easy to use if one needs to raise a large amount of cash and one does not have huge amounts of physical resources.

Rather wisely, if I may say so, the agreements were drawn up to begin to develop a plan to put pressure on these groups to squeeze them out of the market and to begin to focus the diamond trade in areas where human rights are respected, where there are proper standards, and where there is proper respect for the rule of law and for the people of the area. That is the nature of it.

Canada joined for a variety of reasons. The number one reason we should support the overall idea is because it is morally right. Underlining everything we do as parliamentarians should be a basic adherence to certain principles and certain rule of law. That rule of law and those principles apply both in Canada and throughout the world. That should be the first reason.

The second reason that we joined and got involved in this is to promote the sale of our diamonds. Let us be clear here. Diamonds are a very high end product. People who tend to buy them tend to have a considerable degree of income, and have the ability and often are fairly well informed about political situations, international situations and so on. They want to know that their diamonds are from a place that is moral, that has the rule of law and respects human rights.

To promote Canadian diamonds, it is necessary for Canada to get involved and to be a part of this process. It is good for business. It is good for the promotion of the Canadian diamond industry and marketing Canadian diamonds as a unique, distinct and separate brand.

That is the overall basic purpose of this bill. The details of the bill help to explain what rough diamonds are, how to measure them, and how to bring them up to the Kimberley Process certificate scheme standards. The bill will allow the creation of standards and statistics, so that Canada can more easily report its mining to the world. It will become easier to track, easier to account and easier to stop the flow of diamonds that are finding illegitimate and unworthy groups.

As I said earlier, I have a fairly personal interest in Canada's mining industry, diamond mining being one of the most successful industries in recent times. It was not all that many years ago where prominent people would say Canada has no diamonds.

De Beers used to propagate that myth for many years. More knowledgeable observers have been plugging away, doing a bit of prospecting, geophysical and geological work, and have found diamonds. We now have two mines.

Mining is an important historic Canadian industry. Canada started with the fur trade, pretty soon after came agriculture and forestry, and not long after that came mining. We must not forget that we were, and still are, in many ways the world's leader in the industry. Historically, the great mining engineers and geologists started in the British Commonwealth. Canada and Australia became the premier jewels in that crown with our expertise in geology. The Geological Survey of Canada is world renowned. The mining industry, and not just for the sake of the diamond industry, needs the support of the House. I know the member for Yukon will agree with me because this industry is important to his riding.

I was somewhat disappointed in that I had been led to believe in the last budget that there would be more financial support for the geoscience initiative. It was a disappointment to members on this side of the House because we view it as a part of Canada's infrastructure. As my colleagues know, I am fairly reticent when it comes to spending money. I believe most budgets should probably spend less rather than more. However, the geological knowledge and geological inventory of Canada is important and it must be continually worked.

Something that perhaps non-geoscientists do not understand is that just because an area has been mapped once geologically does not mean it should never be mapped again. There is no such thing as a perfect geological map except on an extraordinarily small scale which would be of almost no use. As one of my professors once said, when I was doing some mapping on a structural geology course, no geological map is accurate, most of them are only 50% accurate. That included the ones he did. They all need revision because there is so much detail and so much knowledge to be gained from going over the process.

An example of this is a project that I worked on in Salluit in northern Quebec. Falconbridge previously had the property. A geological survey had repeatedly been done on the property only to have nickel found by a prospector. We need to continuously invest in geoscience.

I give these examples to encourage members of the House, who are not familiar with the need for mapping and investing in geological surveys and the geoscience initiative, to support it. There is cross-party support on this issue.

I would also like to note, and I am not an expert in this area of mining, some of the financial issues that are coming up and the sunset clauses to some of the flow through shares et cetera. These financial instruments, as I understand them, have been valuable toward promoting mining companies.

There is a long lead up time in any mining project from exploration until production. These things do not happen in a matter of weeks. It takes years of patient research. Years were spent looking before Ekati and Diavik were set up in the Northwest Territories. We need to promote geoscience.

I wish to note one final aspect with respect to how diamonds impact the Canadian economy and it has to do with my province of Saskatchewan and a much larger issue that has been dealt with in the House before, and that is the question of equalization. We in the province of Saskatchewan have quite an exciting discovery at play. We are hoping that a diamond mine will be located in Fort a la Corne. There is a very large and somewhat unique kimberlite deposit in that area.

Prince Albert is the largest city close by for people not from Saskatchewan. By large, I mean around 30,000 people, well within driving distance, which would make it a unique mining town in that it would be very accessible.

There are some very great hopes that this mine will some day become a producing mine. As with most mining projects, one should be very cautious. Having worked on a project where kimberlite was found, I have to explain to some of the non-technical people that this does not immediately mean that it was going to be a diamond mine. Kimberlite is found all the time. We can find hundreds and hundreds of kimberlite pipes without actually finding a diamond mine.

There are some great hopes and the exploration is at quite a stage. There are actually some unique things such as bulk samplings and the drilling and the logging has gone on. There are prospects. There have been diamonds found and the degree of commercial viability has yet to be decided.

This is important. It has been pointed out that if the province of Saskatchewan wishes to enhance diamond exploration and encourage the development of this mine it could give a royalty holiday to the mine to encourage production. However, for the purposes of equalization, even though the government of Saskatchewan would be receiving absolutely no revenue from the royalty, none whatsoever, it would still be put into the calculation for equalization.

Not only would the economic effects of the development of the mine be put against our equalization account. Royalties not received by the government of Saskatchewan would also be calculated in at a somewhat subjective rate calculated here in Ottawa. So, the province of Saskatchewan would actually be taxed by the federal government and discriminated against for trying to cut its own tax rates, its own royalty rates to encourage development.

As all hon. members know, particularly those in the northern areas, we need to develop good mining jobs in the north. There often is not a whole lot more up there. We need them in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, in northern Ontario, and northern Saskatchewan. Throughout northern Canada, that great area between the really far north and where most of us live, mining is a way of life and an absolutely crucial thing.

It is something that should not be discouraged, either through equalization, where this would discriminate against the province of Saskatchewan, or through a lack of support of geoscience and the mining industry.

I think those are some of the points I wish to make today. Mining is good for Canada. It is necessary for Canada. That is why we should support this legislation. It brings forward and makes Canadian diamonds a more valuable commodity. By doing the right thing and promoting our diamonds, we should do everything in our power to build on that.

Again, equalization needs to be fixed. It needs to be done so that all provinces can benefit from their mining. There are two provinces in particular that are discriminated against, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Before hon. members ask me, this does not strictly have to be done in the way the oil and gas agreement was done with Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, though I would very much support it if it could be treated that way. That is because in the history of equalization there have been side deals done on asbestos as a particular impact under equalization and potash is not clawed back at the 100% rate. I believe former premier Thatcher, the very conservative Liberal premier of Saskatchewan, negotiated that provision. So not all resources have to be changed, even if we cannot get the ideal, which is a situation where natural resources would be taken out of equalization.

I will support this legislation. I will continue to support mining endeavours that are good for Canada, good for Saskatchewan, and good for the north. I would encourage all hon. members to do so.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

October 25th, 2005 / 4:40 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among all parties and I believe that, if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, in relation to its study of the International Policy Statement, seven members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be authorized to travel to Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal from October 30 to November 4, 2005 and to Quebec City, Halifax, Fredericton and St. John's from November 13 to 19, 2005, and that the necessary staff do accompany the committee.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)