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

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, seeing as my colleague from the Conservatives who was speaking is from B.C., I wonder if he is aware of a Vancouver Sun article published earlier this year. It leaked the details of a leaked letter from the Bush administration to the U.S. lumber lobby. In it, the American administration confirmed that its objective was to hobble the Canadian industry for seven years. That was a letter from the Bush administration to the U.S. lumber lobby, printed in the Vancouver Sun, which admits that the American administration confirmed that its objective was to hobble the Canadian industry for seven years.

I am wondering how a representative from an area that relies on lumber can simply be cooperating with this agreement when the best interests of Canada are not at stake here. The best interests of the Americans are being served.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to answer that question. First of all, we have a very reliable research and development department. We do not rely on the media for the information. I spent over a decade working in the media. We cannot always believe everything we hear on TV or read in the paper.

Here are the facts. We have over 81% of the money going back into the industry. We have the industry onside, as well as the governments of B.C., Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. We have over 90% of the industry onside. We are providing that certainty and stability for the industry. That is how I can support this deal.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, there has been a suggestion that the industry was bullied into accepting this deal after initially rejecting it. The industry minister himself warned the softwood lumber companies that they should either take the deal or the government would walk away from them. In fact, the government said that loan guarantees put in place before the last election would be taken off the table. The government demonstrated that it would punish companies that refused to sign on to the agreement. It also includes a 19% levy on all refunded duty deposits.

There seem to be some indications that there was some bullying on this sellout. Could the member confirm that in fact those conditions were presented to the softwood lumber industry?

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Kelowna--Lake Country has less than half a minute.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, very briefly, we had industry consultation from across this country. We heard anybody who wanted to come to the committee. We heard from every witness on both sides of the issue. I have met with individuals, groups and organizations. There was no indication at any time that they did not have any consultation.

All I can say is that this deal, with 81% going back to the industry, is far better than the agreement the member opposite in the previous government--

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Brant.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-24, a bill that has been described in various ways and in particular has been described as essentially the best deal under the circumstances.

This was definitely not the best deal under the circumstances for both parties, though it could forcefully and persuasively be suggested that it is truly the best deal in any and all circumstances for the United States. It is not the best deal for our Canadian industry and justifiably and not unfairly can be described as a capitulation on the part of our government to forces within the U.S. industry and within the U.S. government.

What is abundantly clear and beyond dispute is that the United States improperly imposed duties in excess of $5 billion, and the negotiated settlement will return to Canadian producers, whose hands are entirely clean, only 80¢ on every dollar or some $4 billion.

If we were negotiating with an impecunious party, receiving only 80¢ back when fully one dollar is owed may be considered a good deal, arguably the best deal under the circumstances. However, in spite of the fact that President Bush, due to providing tax cuts for the wealthiest and due further to his ill-advised war on Iraq, is running annual deficits of some $500 billion, with the result that the U.S. debt is in the trillions of dollars, to the best of my knowledge the fact remains that the United States is not an impoverished or impecunious party. Simply put, it has the means to pay back every dollar which is owed by it and this deal allows it to wiggle out of its obligations and, again, to repay only $4 billion of the more than $5.2 billion owed.

How that partial repayment to Canadians can be described as “the best deal in the circumstances” makes no logical sense. Of the $1.2 billion that will be kept--kept in my view improperly--by the Americans, fully $500 million will remain in the hands of the U.S. lumber industry and a further $500 million will remain in the hands of the U.S. government.

Our government, unhappily, has seen fit to abandon or to ignore all of the legal victories we have achieved under the rules of international trade. We have essentially given up $1.2 billion to the United States in exchange for, at best, 18 months of relative peace or relative harmony within the industry.

We should certainly be concerned about other industries, manufacturing or otherwise, which will then seek recourse under NAFTA. It is quite likely that other U.S. sectors will seek political alternatives in order to get around the clear rules of free trade. We have been bullied into this settlement by the Americans, and at some point the bully needs to be confronted, to be challenged, or we will be bullied again.

Canada's legal position was very strong. It was supported or confirmed by numerous decisions of international trade law tribunals and domestic courts, both here in Canada and also in the United States. It is most regrettable that the government has bullied Canadian industry with an ultimatum, saying that it must accept this deal, flawed as it is, or the government will abandon it. I am referring, of course, to the fact that loan guarantees, which were put in place before the last election, were taken off the table and the government threatened to abandon the industry if it chose to pursue its legal rights instead of accepting the deal.

The deal is flawed in various respects, including the fact that it directly abandons our long-held position that our softwood industry is not subsidized. The deal further creates an export tax, which is actually higher than U.S. duties. That is, the government intends to impose substantial crippling export duties on softwood, which will add billions to the government's general revenue stream within the next few years but will be punitive indeed for our producers.

The Liberal Party is committed to helping the softwood lumber industry. Our priority is to truly assist the industry on both a long and a short term basis, and not to be bullied by or capitulate to the American government or to the American industry.

We are proposing a supplementary aid package that would result in, first, the provision of $200 million over two years to enhance the forest industries' competitive position, to improve its environmental performance and to take advantage of the growing bioeconomy; second, the provision of $40 million over two years to improve the overall performance of the national forest innovative system; and third, the provision of $100 million over two years to support economic diversification and capacity building in those communities affected by job losses in the forest industry.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It is unfortunate that I must interrupt the hon. member but the time allotted for government orders has now expired. When we next return to the debate on Bill C-24 there will be four minutes left for the member.

Hockey
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, for weeks the great Canadian pastime has been getting into high gear. Girls and boys, the young and the not so young, have been dusting off their skates, wiping off the rust and airing out their equipment. It is hockey time in Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

In every town, minor hockey associations are gearing up for another great season of hockey. Also ready to go for the season are our senior A Durham Thundercats, our junior B Owen Sound Greys, the junior C Hanover Barons and, of course, the OHL's pride and joy, Owen Sound Attack.

The Attack start the season ranked sixth in Canada by The Hockey News. With the return of stalwarts like Bobby Ryan, Bob Sanguinetti, Theo Peckham and other NHL draft picks, the Attack will be a force to be reckoned with. They defeated the Soo Greyhounds 4-3 Saturday night in their home opener.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to invite you and my colleagues to Vancouver in May to watch the Attack, of course after they mow down the OHL, win their very first Memorial Cup.

I wish good luck to all participants in the great--

Hockey
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Yukon.

Dalai Lama
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, His Holiness the Dalai Lama described himself as just a simple Buddhist monk, no more, no less.

Modest words for a man who has repeatedly been a shining example for peace and compassion and has worked tirelessly all his life in promoting positive values around the world, regardless of being a refugee in exile.

The Dalai Lama has been honoured with peace awards and doctorate degrees in recognition of his writings in philosophy, leadership, human rights and global environmental problems.

In 1989 the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and received worldwide praise.

On Saturday, September 9, the Dalai Lama was personally awarded an honorary Canadian citizenship in Vancouver, only the third one in history.

As a member of the Canadian Parliament. I would like to congratulate His Holiness in being recognized as a world leader in peace, kindness and mutual understanding. I am very proud to say that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, like me, is now a Canadian citizen.

Lionel Grenier
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the optimist movement and the residents of Terrebonne are in mourning.

Mr. Lionel Grenier, former president of Optimist International, has passed away. A chapter in the history of Terrebonne, and indeed in the history of the optimist movement, has ended.

For many of us, Mr. Grenier was a model of perseverance, dedication, optimism and success.

He was known for his social and community involvement. Founder of the Terrebonne optimist club, he worked his way up the ladder of the larger optimist movement and became the first francophone president of the international organization.

To his wife and children, to my friends in the Terrebonne optimist club, of which I am a member, I would like to extend my condolences on behalf of the members of the Bloc Québécois and the citizens of Terrebonne—Blainville.

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Conservatives killed the First Nations and Inuit tobacco control program. Overall, 25% of Canadians smoke but that jumps to 40% for first nations and 60% among Inuit.

People have e-mailed my office to say how the anti-smoking posters in the small communities in Nunavut are taken seriously and do help people quit. This pilot to develop best practices in a few communities and then take those programs nationally is lost. Where is the value for money there?

The long term health effects of smoking, lung cancer and heart disease are known to everyone it seems but the Conservatives. Each person who stops smoking saves health care dollars and that is true value for money.

Other cuts include those to the public diplomacy program and this will scuttle chances for Métis representatives to travel to Washington for negotiations around the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

There has been no consultation and no debate, another sign as to just how controlling the Prime Minister is.

Adam Angel
Statements By Members

September 26th, 2006 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay posthumous tribute to Kootenay—Columbia customs officer Adam Angel, who tragically died on October 17, 2004 while working alone at the Port of Roosville. During the midnight shift he was found in distress and, in spite of all efforts to assist him, emergency personnel pronounced him dead shortly after their arrival.

It is imperative for our customs officers to be safe at all times while protecting our Canadian borders. Every day we are reminded of the dangers our frontline workers face. They confront the most dangerous conditions putting their lives on the line to protect ours.

I am proud to say that the new Canadian government has responded with initiatives to strengthen our border security. We have committed $101 million over the next two years to provide arms to all officers, proper training and abolition of work-alone conditions like that of Officer Angel.

We believe in secure, efficient borders and we thank these men and women for their courage, bravery and hard work protecting our communities.

Old Age Security
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the World Peace Forum, held this past summer in Vancouver, called for the elimination of the 10 year residence requirement for old age security benefits.

Forum participants expressed concern that seniors from some countries have to wait for 10 years before they are entitled to receive OAS benefits. The forum passed a resolution advocating for equal access to services such as health care and pensions for all Canadians, regardless of race or country of origin.

I call upon the Government of Canada to take an in-depth look at the income situations of some elderly immigrants and their families in Canada.

Finally, I would strongly urge the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development to review the latest rulings by the courts on this subject.