House of Commons Hansard #144 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was columbia.

Topics

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I understand exactly what my friend from the Bloc Québécois was referring to.

I see this as being a fantastic opportunity for trade, to broaden our ability to get into the world of trade and to broaden our capacity to trade with people other than the United States which we are dependent upon for 85% of the trade as far as our economy is concerned. As a consequence, I apologize to my friend because I am not clear on exactly what it is that he was referring to.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member a bit about trade with China and India. Before I do, though, I would like to thank the last two speakers for complimenting our Liberal colleagues in British Columbia.

As we know, before the Prime Minister became Prime Minister he talked about opening these burgeoning markets with Asia, in particular India and China which are growing so fast. Therefore we are putting our emphasis on trade to those areas.

In my riding in Yukon we have a very strong Philippine association, a very strong Chinese association and a large component from India. Our multiculturalism policy, giving them equal stature in our economy, emphasizes their potential in our economy. We therefore are excited about this initiative.

Could the member elaborate a bit on the potential trade with India and China?

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to do that but he should not misunderstand my comments. I am critical of the Liberal members in the province of British Columbia for not being able to drive this Liberal government, first under Chrétien and now under the existing Prime Minister, to anything more than getting the Prime Minister to kind of roll over and get one eye open, which represents this particular initiative. I am afraid he has mistaken some of my comments as being compliments for the Liberals in British Columbia.

With respect to India and China, I think trade is absolutely vital. There can be no question that they are developing economies. I am particularly interested in India. We hear an awful lot about China, and it speaks for itself, but with India being the democracy that it is, as opposed to some of the concerns that we have about some of the issues in China, we should be opening up even more in the area of India, dealing with the democracy and with people with whom we have, perhaps, more in common. It will be good for our consumers and for our business in Canada which, in turn. will be good for the people in those countries.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

October 31st, 2005 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, my constituents of Newton--North Delta have been asking for a very long time for the expansion of South Fraser Perimeter Road, a tunnel to be built in North Delta. We have Fraser docks in my riding. We have a huge movement of people and goods. I had a lengthy question I wanted to--

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The hon. member for Kootenay--Columbia.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that in Newton--North Delta, in North Surrey and, indeed, all along the Fraser River we have bottleneck after bottleneck that is absolutely driving up the price of us being able to do business with the world. The truck drivers and the trucks are just being held up and absolutely jammed and it is all due to the federal Liberal inaction.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Skeena--Bulkley Valley, The Environment; the hon. member for Québec, Canada Post Corporation.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House today, both as an MP for North Vancouver and as the chair of the B.C. caucus for the Liberal members in British Columbia, to speak to Bill C-38 and offer our support and my support.

This important legislation may have found its inspiration in western Canada but there is little doubt that strengthening Canada's position in the competitive world of international commerce will benefit our entire country. Today I want to outline some of those benefits.

However, before we start with economic benefits, it is important to note that the Pacific gateway strategy is about positioning Canada in the rapidly evolving world of international commerce, but it is more than that. It is also about more than doing business.

The Pacific gateway strategy recognizes that not only products will be passing through this Canadian gateway. The gateway will also welcome the multitudes who travel to Canada each year. To put it in context, last year Canada welcomed more than 87,000 Chinese tourists, generating some $150 million in revenue for our tourism sector. Many begin their visit in western Canada and then travel onwards throughout this great country. With new liberalized air agreements in place, it is expected that this number could triple to over 260,000 visitors in the future from China alone. Other Asian countries are also sending many visitors our way.

Canada shows the world its commitment to diversity not only in how we embrace all cultures but in how we engage and trade with all markets, ones that are both established and emerging, such as those in China, India and other Asian countries. Trade and prosperities hinge on the rapid, seamless and secure movement of people and goods. Canada is uniquely placed and our people are exceptionally skilled to provide a gateway to serve those needs in the Pacific markets.

Many have already begun to see the advantages. For example, China is currently Canada's fourth largest export market. Our exports to China have grown more than 90% between 1995 and 2004, and during the same period, Canada's imports from China grew more than 400%, making it Canada's second largest supplier. China's recent dramatic growth is expected to continue. While it is currently the world's sixth largest economy, forecasters say that it will be the second largest by 2020 and the largest by 2041.

As a result of this growth, the B.C. government predicts that by 2020, container cargo coming through British Columbia ports will increase by up to 300%, from 1.8 million containers to between five million and seven million containers. The value of this trade is projected to reach $75 billion by 2020, up from the $35 billion currently. This would contribute $10.5 billion annually to the Canadian economy, including $3.5 billion beyond B.C. The trade increases are also projected to result in 178% growth in direct jobs by 2020, from 18,000 to 50,000.

If we continue to invest together in trade, we all win. We are talking about more trade, more business and more jobs for Canadians. We are talking about prosperity for all. This strategy clearly moves us in that direction.

In terms of jobs, we know that a skilled labour force and efficient labour market are ever important ingredients in Canada's winning formula for prosperity. Through ongoing investments, and now particularly the Pacific gateway strategy, markets in the Asia-Pacific can count on our country's highly educated, skilled and innovative workforce to move goods and services quickly, efficiently and in a secure manner.

In terms of trade and the economy, through the Pacific gateway strategy, our country has a unique competitive advantage to be host to trade and investment that is already flowing to these vibrant and emerging markets. Through the Pacific gateway strategy, our capacity for trade will continue to grow.

However, as I said at the beginning, this initiative will not only benefit the west, by investing in Pacific trade, Canada's economy grows and Canadians everywhere, from west to east, from north to south, stand to benefit.

An important part of the Pacific gateway strategy is that it builds upon Canada's strong record of infrastructure funding to further enhance the Canadian transportation network from west to east. Improving the transportation infrastructure by linking Canada's central and Atlantic provinces to the Asia-Pacific regions helps to reduce costs for firms involved in international trade. The reasons we should do this are clear. The central and Atlantic provinces exported close to $9 billion of goods and services to Asia in 2004, 82% of which depended upon marine transportation and port infrastructure.

Specifically, over $3 billion of Ontario's exports and close to $2 billion of Quebec's exports flowed through British Columbia to other countries, with another $50 million from the Atlantic flowing through that province as well. These provinces also imported roughly $17 billion worth of goods from Asia.

Improving logistics and security at borders while reducing transportation time are also key to attracting foreign direct investments in and facilitating exports from all parts of Canada.

With Canada's Pacific gateway strategy, the government is not just looking at transportation infrastructure. The strategy and the legislation have been designed to allow decision makers to better address a full range of interconnected issues that impact the effectiveness of the gateway and how well we take advantage of it. Deepening our links with Asia-Pacific is a central part of this: to permit Canada to support the better positioning of Canadian businesses, products and services in China and other emerging markets.

One of the specific measures that was announced October 21, 2005, as part of Canada's Pacific gateway strategy is an initiative to improve connections between Canada and emerging markets through the increased harmonization of standards. International standards and technical regulations directly affect more than 80% of the goods traded world-wide each year, with a total estimated value of more than $4 trillion U.S. The funding in this initiative will support Canadian participation in bilateral and multilateral standards harmonization activities and foster a greater understanding among implicated stakeholders of standards harmonization activities and developments and their impact on trade.

Mutually acceptable international standards, certification procedures and accreditation guidelines promote increased reciprocal market access for Asian and Canadian firms. Standards result in technology diffusion, common certification approaches and testing procedures. They also increase product interoperability, encourage innovation and reduce trade barriers. In addition, harmonizing standards increases product safety and encourages environmentally sustainable activities. This initiative will promote better access to Asian and other markets for businesses right across the country.

Of course, the Pacific gateway is not the only Canadian trade gateway. There are a limited number of other potential locations where an integrated gateway approach may be warranted by trade volumes of national significance and by transportation policy considerations.

In that vein, Transport Canada is developing a national strategy gateways and trade corridors policy framework that will guide future measures to tailor the gateway approach to other regions. While this framework will be based on the principles of the Pacific gateway strategy, future measures will not be identical to it. Instead they will be tailored to the circumstances and the opportunities in the regions concerned.

Canada's Pacific gateway strategy is an important part of the federal government's efforts to enhance Canada's long term prosperity. It will strengthen Canada's trade relationship as a leader in technology, manufacturing and service industries and support Canada's record as a safe and desirable country for tourists. It also represents a new policy direction for the government and builds upon other major initiatives to promote sustainable development, such as Canada's new deal for cities and communities, and will establish directions in transportation policy.

As my colleague pointed out, this strategy may be international in outlook but it is domestic at its core. Canada's Pacific gateway strategy has important advantages and benefits not only for western Canadians but also for Canadians right across the nation.

I look forward to helping implement this strategy which will bring further prosperity to all regions of Canada. I am sure everyone understands how important port activity is to my riding and to the people of greater and Lower Mainland British Columbia, not only for the movement of goods but also for the movement of people and tourists through western Canada to all of Canada.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the characteristics of effective leadership is to demonstrate a high degree of quality vision for the country. In 1997 and 1998 my party talked about British Columbia being the gateway to the Asia-Pacific market. That was at a time when the Liberals continued to ignore the important issues on the west coast, and when the seven tigers in the Asia-Pacific market had an extremely high rate of economic growth. British Columbia being strategically placed in the North American market, particularly the port of Vancouver, had a big potential to enhance trade with those seven tigers. As a result, British Columbia could have been the engine for prosperity and economic development, and development of trade, for Canada. The Liberals ignored that plea and they missed the boat.

Now, as a result of misplaced priorities by the Liberal government in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, we have bottleneck traffic jams. The South Fraser perimeter road would have been completed by now if the Liberals had demonstrated a vision. That would have solved the problems and enhanced trade and mobility of people in that area.

The government has made announcement after announcement about the South Fraser perimeter road, which is supposed to be there sometime, but it has not done anything. The Delta Chamber of Commerce, Surrey Chamber of Commerce, people in my riding and neighbouring ridings have been demanding that road for a very long time, but we have not seen any effective action from the government, except for announcement after announcement.

Similarly, Fraser docks, which is also next to my constituency, needs to be expanded. The government has not done anything with respect to that. The government has cut the funding for dredging the South Fraser River which jeopardizes mobility in the Fraser River. It is seriously affecting Fraser River docks.

The member said that he was the B.C. caucus chair. What pleas has he made to the government and what concrete action has the government taken? I know it is too little and too late, but would he be expressing the concerns which I explained to him to his government? Will we see any action or will we simply hear more talk and announcement after announcement? As has been demonstrated in the last 12 years, the government has ignored the infrastructure needs of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the interest of the Canadian Liberal government for many years has been to improve trade with the Asia-Pacific region.

In my former capacity as mayor of North Vancouver, I visited China and Malaysia. At that time I was part of delegations organized by the federal government, the team Canada delegations, and also Asia-Pacific delegations and Canada-China Business Council delegations which indicated the federal government's commitment to building trade in that area.

As an hon. colleague indicated previously, it takes time to build trade in Asia. We plant the seed, we water it and develop it. A well-known Asian approach to building business relationships is friends first, business later. It takes time to develop these connections. Those connections have been built over a number of years by the Canadian government and by the delegations led by the Prime Minister.

There has also been a commitment to improve the tourism interconnections between Asia and Canada. We make reference for example to the approved destination status that we are very close to achieving with China. This will greatly increase the number of Chinese tourists coming this way.

The goals are to improve trade and to improve the dialogue. It is a very complex area. There are a number of interconnected activities that have to be coordinated. The Pacific gateway strategy will bring those various components together, hopefully to work in a seamless manner and in a manner in which they will complement each other.

The Fraser River dredging, the issue of the port's operability and profitability and the requests that have come forward are all things that will ultimately be considered by this new gateway council. The council will include representatives from the major stakeholders and from the provincial government.

We acknowledge the initiatives and efforts of the provincial government in British Columbia in also wanting to improve trade with the Asia-Pacific region and to make British Columbia, the Lower Mainland and Prince Rupert truly economic gateways for all of Canada.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca
B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, this bill has a number of very specific interventions and investments in terms of where the moneys are going in order to improve trade and capitalize on the movement of goods and services. We have heard about that across party lines.

I would like my hon. friend to comment on the current investments we have made. There are half a dozen specific infrastructure investments that will come from this bill which will improve the ability of western Canada, and British Columbia specifically, to maximize the opportunities to capitalize on Asian markets. Asian markets are expanding quite dramatically.

Some members, particularly from the Bloc Québécois, have alluded to wishes that the federal government would engage in protectionist practices to safeguard Canadian companies. They suggest that erecting protectionist barriers to trade would somehow be beneficial to Canadian companies

The Bloc Québécois members should listen to their former leader, Lucien Bouchard, who wrote a scathing piece as to the failure of certain political leaders in the Bloc Québécois and Parti Québécois to address the very important challenges that Quebec has in terms of labour movement, productivity, education and barriers to trade.

How does my hon. friend think that the investments that have been made through the bill are going to assist the movement of goods and services and trade for western Canada with respect to Asian markets?

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are two things. First of all, some of the money would be going toward the railway grade separations in British Columbia in the Lower Mainland area to facilitate the movement of goods and services through communities and to reduce the potential bottlenecks that have existed in the past. We want to ensure that there is smooth movement of traffic.

For example, goods from Shanghai can get here something like 50 hours faster by sea than to any of the U.S. ports. We can capitalize on that advantage by also having the rail facilities and the trucking facilities to move those goods throughout Canada and indeed throughout North America to the U.S. markets faster than they could come from Seattle or Los Angeles.

Second, we are investing in the north portal in Saskatchewan. As we have said, this is not just investment in British Columbia. This is investment in infrastructure that will serve all of Canada. We are going to be seeing grade separations as well in Saskatchewan.

We have committed to the Pitt River bridge. We have committed to the South Fraser perimeter road. The question earlier from the member opposite alluded to that question.

Why is the South Fraser road important within the context of the gateway policy? Both the B.C. government and the various stakeholders have argued that this new corridor can be one of the most important elements of the Pacific gateway. They believe it will become one of the most important trade routes in the B.C. region with more than 1,000 daily truck movements.

Those kinds of investments, plus the money spent on harmonizing regulations that I referred to in my presentation and the input from the gateway council identifying new priorities we believe is a wise investment in the future for all of Canada.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to note that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

It gives me extreme pleasure to rise to speak in connection with Bill C-68. We have had the opportunity, in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, to hear a little about it during our consultations regarding a bill that has been tabled by a member of this House regarding our relations with Taiwan. The opportunity to speak this afternoon has allowed me to go into somewhat greater detail about Bill C-68.

First, as our spokesman has said, we are in favour of this bill, but we have very grave reservations about the mechanics of it. The bill also reflects a degree of naiveté on the part of the government. For example, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, who is a former Conservative—I can see that his Conservative roots have not been abandoned—accuses us of protectionism when we express interest in the jobs and industries that could be threatened by competition, fair or unfair, from countries in Southeast Asia. I am accordingly happy to find in this House people such as the members of the Bloc—for how long, unfortunately for Canadian workers, remains a question—who are concerned about these impacts. I will come back to this later.

The parliamentary secretary is perhaps not aware of the developing economies of Southeast Asia, their needs and the markets that they represent. For Canada, this represents a major challenge, if we are not to find ourselves at the back of the line. This is the case at present, as we have learned. This situation is getting worse, year after year, under the Liberals, particularly since the sponsorship scandal. In terms of competition and especially of productivity indicators, we are in a state of continual decline. In this connection, the Liberals cannot shift the blame onto the Bloc, the Conservative Party or the NDP, since they have been in power since 1993. They alone are responsible, because they do not take things seriously. They mistake appearances for content.

As I was saying, we are in favour of the bill in principle because we find the gateway concept interesting. In fact it should be applied to the St. Lawrence, which is a natural gateway for eastern North America as much for Quebec and Canada as for the north-eastern United States. We would like the government to make an additional effort, once it realizes that it is not just western Canada that needs this type of extremely important improvement to intermodal transportation, but that Quebec and eastern Canada need it too. This type of facility will provide a multimodal transportation infrastructure based on trade with Asia, but for Quebec and eastern Canada the focus would be on trade with Europe, the north-eastern United States and all of South America. We must not forget Africa, which, unfortunately, is forgotten far too often when we are talking about economic and social development.

We are in favour in principle. However, we have reservations about the structure chosen and the method for appointing members to the council. We found the details of the bill especially interesting in terms of the composition of the council and the nebulous mandate of this council, when we know that this agency will be channeling hundreds of millions of dollars. In our opinion, there should have been as much effort made in defining the council's mandate as in specifying the committee's membership. My colleague from Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher will have a chance to come back to that during this debate and in committee.

Another aspect completely lacking from this bill—which is no accident, but we are used to that—is any indication of the provinces' role. We know that the provinces have important responsibilities in transportation. I hope the provinces in western Canada, British Columbia in particular, will use enough pressure to make their place known. In just reading the bill we see that provincial representatives will be appointed by the federal government. This goes somewhat beyond its responsibilities. This should be left to the provinces. I hope that the hon. members from British Columbia in this House will do what it takes to ensure their province is present, and the same goes for the other provinces involved, so that they will be able to appoint their own representatives themselves.

As I said earlier, we are not against trade with Asia, just as we do not oppose opening our borders, because Canada and Quebec are trading nations. We are quite aware of this fact. Nor, however, are we as naive as the Liberal government and some, if not all, of its members.

I am referring to a small book I really like and which I buy every year called L'Économie mondiale by the Centre d'études prospectives et d'informations internationales. The 2005 edition includes a very interesting study on the long-term growth prospects of China and India. I will not read it but I want to refer to the figures provided in the study.

The paper is based on studies conducted by five different economists. It is estimated that, by 2030, average growth world-wide will be 3% per year. Obviously, I am talking about growth in real terms. For India, this represents between 4.5% and 5.5%, and for China, 5% for this entire period with, in both cases, a slight deceleration near the end. As a result, India will represent between 2.5% and 3% of global GDP and China, between 9% and 11% of global GDP.

Obviously, it will depend on exchange rates. We know that, currently, the international community is debating this. Many countries are accusing China of maintaining its currency at artificially low levels, giving itself a competitive edge it would not normally have if its currency reflected its economy's strength, in terms of growth.

Obviously, the percentages could be higher. We must not deny that, for Canada, particularly western Canada and British Columbia, the Asian market with China and India as its two motors represents an undeniable opportunity. I say a thousand bravos to this bill on the Pacific gateway.

This document indicates, moreover, that by the year 2015 or so China should rank second in the world economy after the United States. By 2030, India would overtake Japan at third. Clearly, then, in the medium term, there are some very interesting perspectives.

That said, what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence seems not to understand is that average per capita incomes in China and in India will remain extremely low. The issue for us is not to simply become a resource reservoir for China—as we are now becoming—and for India, to watch our jobs disappear and to have only a few mining or oil companies earning a lot of money, while some people and communities are without work and unable to manage.

It will be extremely important to have a strategy to deal with this, to benefit from the opportunities afforded us by the development of those economies but also to be aware that the consumers will not be in China or India. They will be Canadians. What is more, while our resources are going to them, if we have no strategy to ensure that some degree of Canadian and Quebec know-how, in engineering for instance, is put to use in China and India, we will end up again as the proverbial hewers of wood and drawers of water.

I cannot understand the Liberals labelling this protectionism. I personally do not consider it that. I see it as what responsible parliamentarians need to do to ensure the well-being of the people we represent, the Canadian population as much as the Quebec population.

If opening up markets without any concern for employment, social and community concerns is protectionism, then it is an approach I cannot accept.

I would like to clarify the statistics even further. In 2040, that is in 35 years—pretty far away still—according to this study, the per capita income in China will be one-quarter of the figure for the U.S., and in India one-tenth.

What we need then is a strategy that will enable us to be competitive in a certain number of areas in which we will be in competition with the Chinese in developing high-end good and services, and also to ensure that our businesses will be able to have markets in China. We will then not be merely exporters of natural resources and of oil.

We are therefore favourable to this gateway, but it is far from resolving the debate on Canada's strategy as far as economic and commercial development is concerned, both domestic and foreign. I hope that the Liberals will get it, one of these days.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca
B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, this gives me an opportunity to address the concerns that the Bloc Québécois member mentioned a little while ago. He mentioned concerns about opening up our doors without respect or consideration for Canadians, their employment and social programs. That is what this is about.

This bill is about concern for Canadians. It is about concern for our jobs. It is about concern for having a tax base that will provide for social programs, health care, and an array of social programs in the member's province of Quebec, as well as every other province in Canada.

We have implemented this bill because it is about productivity, competitiveness, job creation. Canadians will have more money in their pockets, more jobs and better paying jobs than other parts of the world. It boils down to an array of solutions, including the gateway strategy, education, the removal of barriers to trade internally and externally. It is about research, productivity, strong macro and microeconomic policies. That is what this is about.

In contrast, the former leader of the member's party, Mr. Bouchard, just wrote a scathing article recently and gave a scathing speech in the province of Quebec saying to his separatist brethren that if they wanted to be a part of the international community, if they wanted to remove the torpor that has occurred in certain parts of their province as a direct result of the separatist policies of the Bloc Québécois and Parti Québécois, then they had better do a number of things, including the removal of barriers to trade and revamping archaic education policies.

These things all reside within the realm of the provincial leaders, the provincial government, the separatist government and past governments. That is where these responsibilities lie. Mr. Bouchard made it very clear that the separatist actions and policies are only a hindrance to the people of Quebec and their ability to compete, to get health care, to have more money in their pockets, and to provide for their families as individuals.

I want to ask my hon. colleague a question. What does he think about Mr. Bouchard's comments about what he and his separatist colleagues need to do to offer creative solutions to the people of his province that will enable them to have better higher paying jobs and stronger social programs?

Pacific Gateway Act
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4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I share Mr. Bouchard's concern about keeping our jobs and our industries here. Perhaps there could be discussions about the ways to do so. This is a concern of Mr. Bouchard, which this government does not have, as evidenced by the remarks of the parliamentary secretary.

He told us that productivity had to be improved. Since the Liberals took office, Canada has been steadily falling behind, year after year, in terms of productivity. A report was published a few days ago. Unfortunately, I do not have it with me. Allow me to quote figures from 1985 to 1998, which I happen to have with me. In 1985, Canada ranked seventh in terms of the valued added of manufactured goods. It currently stands in 17th place. It fared even more poorly in the latest report.

This did not happen under the Conservatives, the NDP or the Bloc Québécois; it happened under the Liberals. They did nothing for research and development, even though that is the key to success. Making workers poor and jobs precarious is not the solution. The government will never succeed in competing with the Chinese in that respect. What it should do is invest in research and development, and education, and move forward. We can see the results. This is especially true for productivity. With the Liberals, Canada's ranking has been dropping steadily in terms of international competitiveness.

Let me list those countries Canada is trailing behind. There is Switzerland, a small country with consistency, interesting social policies and where people stand on their hind legs. It ranks first in terms of manufacturing. There is also Ireland, which achieved independence in 1921 and successfully developed its own model. Then comes Singapore. This is not a large country, but it developed policies and managed to cope. It is followed by Finland, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Holland and Norway, all countries with the same characteristics as Quebec.

Listening to the remarks coming from the other side, I am convinced that it is in the best interest of Quebeckers to urgently move toward making Quebec sovereign. That is the only way out when dealing with people like the members opposite, who cannot hear the facts.