House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was americans.

Topics

Estimates, Part III
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, on behalf of my colleagues, part III of the estimates, consisting of 90 departmental and organizational expenditure plans and priorities.

These documents will be distributed to the members of the standing committees to assist in their consideration of the spending authorities sought in part II of the estimates.

Holidays Act
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-354.

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for her support.

This bill was tabled in 2004. Its intent is to amend the Holidays Act to make Remembrance Day a legal holiday and give it the same status as Canada Day.

It is a surprise to most Canadians that November 11, the day that we thank our veterans across this country for their service to Canada and to freedom, is not a national holiday. The intent of the bill is to change it so that it becomes a national holiday.

As we know, Canadians are serving around this world, and many are paying the ultimate price to ensure that we live in a free country and that our values are understood not only in this country but around the world.

Let me praise a lady by the name of Wilma McNeill of Sarnia who, for 16 years, has lobbied the governments of the day to have this change. For 16 years she has believed that November 11 should be a national holiday across this country, so that all Canadians can thank our veterans.

I ask all members of this House to support this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Visitor Visas
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, and in honour of the visit to Canada of the President of Latvia, Madame Freiberga, I am privileged to present a petition signed by over 720 concerned citizens, including members of the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre.

The petitioners demand that parliament pass Motion No. 19, calling for the lifting of visitor visas for the following seven new EU member states: Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

These countries are EU members, with free movement within the EU. The same visa regime should apply to them as the other EU countries. With hundreds of thousands of Canadians with family ties to these countries, Canada's onerous visa regime is a throwback to the days of the Iron Curtain and should be changed.

Age of Consent
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to stand in the House today and present a petition from my constituents regarding their support of raising the age of consent from 14 to 16 years.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Bill C-288--Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, this point of order relates to my private member's bill.

It is with great pleasure that I rise to respond to points raised by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform concerning my private member's bill, Bill C-288, An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

On June 16, the Leader of the Government rose on a point of order concerning my bill, saying that it would require royal recommendation. He said:

I find it difficult to see how this bill can mandate the government to fully meet existing Kyoto targets without also committing the government to additional significant expenditures in the billions of dollars.

I would like to begin by reminding the hon. member about the contents of my bill. It would require the Minister of the Environment to prepare a yearly climate change plan that describes measures to be undertaken to ensure that Canada respects its obligations under paragraph 3(1) of the Kyoto protocol.

The bill would also require that the government make, amend or repeal the appropriate regulations, in order to meet its obligations under the Kyoto protocol. It also calls on the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to submit an evaluation of the government’s annual plans.

The bill also allows the government, in making, amending or repealing regulations, to “take into account any reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that are reasonably expected to result from the implementation of other governmental measures, including spending and federal-provincial agreements”.

Thus, while Bill C-288allows the government to spend in order to meet the Canadian objectives in the Kyoto protocol, it does not require that it do so at all. In fact, it is the government’s option. The government alone would decide whether to spend in addition to making regulations. It is therefore up to the government to decide.

I would like to address the question of how Canada would meet its Kyoto objectives without government spending.

To start with, I would assure the House that it is perfectly possible that Canada will meet its Kyoto obligations by the regulatory route alone.

For example, consider the broadest practical domestic emissions trading system described in the 2002 Government of Canada discussion paper on Canada's contribution to addressing climate change. The system would require all fossil fuel suppliers to hold permits equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions produced by burning the fossil fuels that they sell. Such a system would cover most emissions from industry, electricity generation, buildings and transportation.

In total, the report estimates that this regulated emissions trading system would cover in the order of 80% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions. Using this approach, the government could adopt regulations to obtain any desired amount of reductions from sources, making up 80% of Canada's emissions. Most or all of the remaining 20% of national emissions which come mainly from agriculture landfills and some industrial processes could also be reduced by granting offset credits that would be bought and sold by the private sectors.

Regulations to increase the energy efficiency of vehicles, equipment, appliances and other consumer products will round out the approach. Thus, Canada could certainly meet its Kyoto target through regulations alone.

The six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto protocol are already listed in Schedule 1 to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which gives the government broad powers to regulate them.

CEPA also allows for a domestic emissions trading system under section 11.

In other words, the government already has everything it needs to regulate greenhouse gas pollution right now. Its powers are more than sufficient for Canada to be able to meet its Kyoto obligations without spending any new public funds.

The report I have just quoted sets out the results of economic modelling of the approach I described. According to that economic model, meeting our Kyoto objectives by relying essentially on an extended emissions rights trading system would mean that we could increase our GDP by more than if we just maintained the status quo. By achieving our Kyoto objectives in that way, we would create jobs and increase both real disposable personal income and real investment. We must therefore stop seeing the Kyoto protocol as a threat, and instead look at it as a business opportunity.

Despite these advantages, my bill would not require the government to take that approach. The government could choose, for a variety of reasons, to combine regulations and spending. The provisions of my bill leave the decision entirely up to the government.

Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol in December 2002 after receiving support from the majority of members of Parliament. That support was affirmed in May when a motion in the House calling on the government to meet its Kyoto targets won overwhelming support from members of Parliament.

In spite of the failure of the present government to provide any leadership on emissions reduction, Canada is still a party to the Kyoto protocol. We are bound by it. Under international law, we are still required to meet our national objective.

As well, in the 2006 budget, the House also approved $2 billion in appropriations for measures relating to climate change. So even though my bill does not call for any spending by the government, there are substantial funds available to combat climate change.

To sum up, the Kyoto objective that Canada has agreed to meet still applies, and Canada has an obligation to the entire world to meet that commitment. I will say it again: Canada has the resources and the powers that it needs to meet its obligations under the Kyoto protocol simply by taking the regulatory route.

Consequently, my bill does not call for any recommendation to authorize new spending. I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that when you consider this information you will come to the same conclusion.

Bill C-288--Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, we too in the NDP caucus are somewhat confused and perplexed by the reasoning that goes into whether or not a bill shall in fact be allowed to be debated at second reading as a private member's bill and when the Chair rules that there has to be a royal recommendation.

We have wrestled with this issue. Recently, there has been a rash of these rulings on bills that have come forward that the Chair has deemed as necessary to rule out of order. However, others seem to slide through that clearly have dollar figures attached to them.

I speak of the Kelowna accord, the bill that was put forward by the member for LaSalle—Émard and I listened to the reasoning thereto. However, we are getting confused and kind of frustrated that some of our bills are being ruled out of order and not allowed to come up for debate when others that clearly have a dollar figure, even a price tag of $5.2 billion, attached to them are allowed to come forward.

I speak of one specifically that I would ask you to take into consideration when you are dealing with the intervention by my colleague, the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier. One of the bills that was denied dealt with plugging a tax loophole where businesses could get a tax deduction for fines.

I know that we are not allowed to call for a tax cut as such, but how could it be considered a cut in taxes to plug a loophole that exists that we believe is a wrong interpretation of the Income Tax Act?

Therefore, I think there is going to be a need in the near future for some kind of a helpful guide, if you will, to be put out to members so that they will not waste their time crafting private members' bills that, after waiting for the lottery and for their opportunity to come up, will be simply ruled deemed undebatable at second reading for some mysterious logic.

I believe that the private member's bill put forward by my colleague should in fact stand because there is no direct dollar figure attached to the wise use of our energy conservation and so on, whereas there is a direct dollar bill attached to the Kelowna accord. We have to have some consistency if we are going to have confidence in the private members' system.

Bill C-288--Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I appreciate the remarks of the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre. I urge him to read the statement from the Chair on May 31 on this issue which was a beacon of light on the subject and will make all things clear to him I am sure when he has read it.

With respect to the Kelowna ruling yesterday, he can have a good look at that too. It is now in Hansard and he will be able to re-read it and perhaps it will be clearer on second reading than it was on first reading to him.

However, I think it was fairly clear that the bill yesterday did not specify how the Kelowna accord was to be implemented. It simply said that the House authorize its implementation and how it was to be implemented would be the subject of other bills which might require a royal assent if as and when that happens.

So it was left to others to come up with those recommendations when bills were brought forward to implement the accord which was not done by the bill yesterday. Clearly, there has to be a means of implementing it and those were not in the bill.

I do not think the situation is as confused as the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre has suggested.

With all due respect to the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier, I have considered his arguments, but I do not believe that they really relate to points of order.

I will consider what he said when I give my ruling on the point of order raised by the government concerning this bill.

I thank hon. members for their submissions.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have this opportunity today to talk about my concerns and the concerns of so many others in my riding that have been expressed to me about how this softwood lumber deal is bad for Canada.

I think everyone wants a softwood lumber deal, but the tariffs and the court challenges that have been plaguing the softwood industry for many years now have had a negative effect on forest dependent communities in my riding and across this country, and they were court challenges that the Canadian industry won over and over again.

The Conservatives campaigned on getting tough with the Americans, on standing up for Canada and Canadian interests, but instead they got tough with Canadian lumber companies. With the signing of this deal, they have negotiated away all of Canada's wins at the NAFTA tribunal and have put workers and communities in jeopardy.

Canadians should be very worried about this deal and what it means, not just for the softwood industry, but for all industry. When the U.S. can take Canada to court and it is proved that Canada is innocent at every level of appeal and tribunal, that Canada does not subsidize the softwood industry, and still the Government of Canada signs off on a deal that gives away the very thing we won, full compensation, the precedent this sets must have implications for every industry in this country that does business south of the border.

How can anyone agree to a precedent such as this? It sells out our ability and our credibility in the international courts, not to mention world public opinion.

This deal leaves more than $1 billion on the table. That is a lot of money. That money should be coming back to Canadian softwood lumber companies to invest here in impacted forest communities. Because of the length of time during which the softwood crisis has dragged on and because of inaction by the previous government, forest communities have suffered. There has been a serious under-investment in mills in this country because it is cheaper to send raw logs across the border than to pay the tariffs on processed lumber.

In my riding on Vancouver Island North, where I have heard very little support for this deal, workers, community leaders and small lumber companies are telling me that this deal will spell the end of their existence. Without the prospect of seeing a 100% return of the illegally taken tariffs, no hope of loan guarantees and, if a company does not sign on to this deal, a 19% levy, they are feeling pressure to support this softwood sellout.

The NDP called on the government for loan guarantees for affected companies to get them through the litigation process that they were on the verge of winning. Loan guarantees would have allowed cash-strapped companies to continue operating to possibly upgrade their mills instead of downsizing and maybe shutting down, but the government refused to assist those companies. In so doing, it refused to assist the workers and the communities in which they live.

When it becomes cheaper for the industry to export raw logs to the U.S. than to process them into lumber in our small communities, it effectively closes those mills, mills that provided good paying, family supporting jobs in coastal communities. There is nothing in the softwood deal which will ensure that mills will once again flourish, and communities along with them.

Not only are the lumber mills disappearing, but pulp mills are having a hard time getting fibre to make their product. Fibre in the form of wood chips from sawmills used to be plentiful and easily accessible, but with the closure of those mills not any more. Pulp and paper operations have to seek out fibre supplies from outside the province and the country, in fact sometimes buying the very wood chips of logs milled in the U.S. that grew in the same area as the pulp mill. It makes no sense.

The value added sector in this country is quickly disappearing and the government is doing nothing to stop the export of raw logs and processing jobs.

How do I tell those workers and those communities affected by this deal that it is in their best interest when we all know it is not?

The fact that over a billion dollars is not coming back to Canada is one thing, but let us take a look at where it is going and what it could be used for. Of the billion dollars Canada's softwood industry workers and communities will never see, $500 million will go to subsidize the U.S. Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports.

Canada is giving away $500 million to the very aggressor of this trade war, which purported unfairly that our industry was subsidized, to use against us in the future. If ever there were a schoolyard bully in this situation, and there seem to be two, the U.S. Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports is one of them.

As for the other $450 million, that is going directly to the George Bush administration to use at its discretion without congress approval or accountability. How can anyone justify it, no matter what it might be used for?

The other bully in this situation is the Conservative government, which is giving away Canadian dollars to the U.S. even though the Canadian softwood lumber industry won every NAFTA dispute and was awarded full compensation. It is like taking lunch money from little kids and giving it to the bullies who beat them up at recess so the bullies can buy bigger sticks to whack them in the future. How can this possibly be good for Canada? How is this fair?

The government may say that it has the support of industry and the provinces, but much of that support was conditional and the provinces were pressured to sign on. We know that less than 95% of the companies signed on by the government's due date. Much of that support was on the condition that the government in fact met its 95% threshold.

That did not stop the government from implementing punitive taxes of 19% on those who refused to sign up, another bullying tactic. It says that if they do not sign up and give 20% of company returns away, the government will take it away when they win 100% at litigation. How is that showing support for industry? That 19% just might be the straw that breaks the camel's back for some in the industry, yet the government will not support them with a process that they have every right to engage in and were about to win.

Then there is the issue of stability and certainty for the softwood lumber industry. The government has said that this deal will give seven to nine years of certainty in the industry, but if we look closely at this deal we see that it can be unilaterally cancelled at any time after just 18 months. Therefore, it does not provide predictability or stability to the softwood lumber industry.

The U.S. can also terminate the agreement immediately if it feels that Canada has not complied with the terms. Given its track record of imposing illegal tariffs in the first place, how can we be sure that the U.S. will not unilaterally decide to end the deal, regardless of a side letter that says it will not casually terminate it? There is no guarantee. Unfortunately, because of the events of the last several years, it will be difficult to trust the U.S. Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports once it has that $500 million of our money.

Supporting Bill C-24 means we would be voting confidence in the government. We are not prepared to do that, since we are not convinced that this deal is the best deal we can get. If the government had let the extraordinary challenge committee review panel do its job, instead of cancelling it, Canada would have won once and for all a 100% return of the illegally taken tariffs and all that money would now be flowing back to Canadian industry, communities and workers, not into the pockets of U.S. lobbyists and George Bush.

By undercutting our legal victories, the government has set a dangerous precedent that Canada will capitulate to American industry despite having a winning case. This precedent is as troubling for the lumber sector as it is for any other industrial sector. This deal is a betrayal of resource communities in British Columbia and across Canada.

In fact, just yesterday the government added to its list of betrayals of resource communities by cutting over $11 million from the pine beetle initiative. Ironically, on the same day, the government produced a press release saying the beetle knows no bounds and is threatening the boreal forest.

Also, $20 million has been cut from the DFO, money that could have been used for enhancement, enforcement and upgrading infrastructure.

The government has also cut money from western diversification, money that has not yet been allocated. The government is calling it unused program funding, but it is hard to allocate funding when everything is frozen.

It is an ongoing list. These betrayals of rural communities are becoming a shameful pattern in this minority Parliament. The sooner it ends, the better off Canada will be.

I have said it before and I will say it again: this is the same bad deal that was introduced months ago. It is the same bad deal that workers refused to support because they know their jobs are at stake. It is the same bad deal that industry refused to support until it was bullied by the government into signing on. It is the same bad deal that the NDP did not support in the beginning and will not support in the end.

It is our job as members of Parliament to defend Canadian interests, to defend Canadian jobs, and to defend Canadian communities, not sell them out.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that both the NAFTA and WTO panels have ruled continually that our softwood industry has not been subsidized. In fact, the current provisions of Bill C-24 are going to create an export tax that at current price levels will actually be higher than current U.S. duties. It also would create a problem down the road, obviously, with regard to future deals.

Does the member have the same view we do that this is a sellout and that the industry has been bullied into switching its position from being opposed initially and then suddenly miraculously and out of the blue turning around and deciding to go for this sellout?

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, to reiterate much of what I said in my recent remarks, yes, I absolutely agree that this deal is a sellout. It is a sellout on so many different levels that it is unconscionable anyone could present it in this House and then support it.

We are talking about $1 billion that should be reinvested in Canada. We are only going to see half of it. Where does that $1 billion go? What is it going to be used for? It is a sellout on that point.

It is also a sellout of jobs and a sellout of small communities. I feel the effect of this in my riding, where so many small resource-based communities depend on the forestry sector for their livelihood. They are disappearing. They are losing their tax base. They are losing workers at an alarming rate. It is unconscionable that anyone could support a deal that sells out workers on this scale.

This deal also sells out the industry at so many levels. Industry knows this is not a good deal. Small industry especially is going to get gobbled up by larger corporations that do business on both sides of the border. We are then going to see our future in the export of raw logs disappear, because it is going to be cheaper for corporations to take those logs to the U.S. to be milled instead of processing them here in Canada where they should be processed.

This deal is a sellout in so many ways. I thank the hon. member for his support.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, first of all, being a part of the new Government of Canada, I am very proud of this deal. This deal offers stability. It offers a stable, practical, immediate solution. The member says this is a sellout. This is not a sellout. This deal is actually supported by the major lumber producing provinces and a clear majority of the industry.

I come from Oshawa, where we are known for quality hard work and are proud of our communities. Because of the softwood lumber dispute, communities are failing. Mills are closing and thousands of jobs are being lost. Families are being challenged. Their finances are in jeopardy and mortgage payments are not being made.

This is a negotiated settlement as opposed to continued, prolonged litigation. The NDP fails to see the human cost of this continued litigation. The hon. member says her party wants loan guarantees. This deal gives producers back their own money, a far superior solution. By not supporting this deal, the NDP is guaranteeing more job losses and litigation.

What will that NDP member say to the thousands of workers and the thousands of families who are on the verge of losing their future right now if this deal does not go through?