House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nations.

Topics

Literacy
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal government's literacy programs are used to promote the various programs that are available to a number of target groups. These groups are often difficult to reach, so cutting the promotion budgets could be detrimental to the literacy effort.

Instead of going through with the announced cuts to the literacy programs, which will affect the people who need them most, why does the government not transfer the necessary funding to Quebec and the provinces so that they can pursue literacy efforts among their respective populations?

Literacy
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that Canada's new government is supporting literacy through a number of different ways, not just through the Department of Human Resources and Social Development but also through the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

In the budget we announced $307 million for settlement funding. A lot of that money went to helping newcomers who are some of the victims of not being able to read and write to standard. In fact, we are putting more money into literacy today because of initiatives like that than any government has ever provided in the history of this country.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Her Excellency Nino Burjanadze, Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would also like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Canadian Forces recipients of the Star of Military Valour, the Medal of Military Valour, the Meritorious Service Cross (military division), and Meritorious Service Medal (military division) presented earlier today by Her Excellency the Governor General.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Chief Electoral Officer
Routine Proceedings

February 19th, 2007 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Pursuant to section 552 of the Canada Elections Act, I have the honour to lay upon the table the registered party financial transactions return form and the registered party return form in respect of general election expenses prepared by the Chief Electoral Officer.

These reports are deemed to have been referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In accordance with the order of reference of Wednesday, October 4, 2006, the committee has considered Bill C-277, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (luring a child) and has agreed on Monday, February 5 to report it with amendment.

Income Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Barrie, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-405, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction for medical doctors in underserviced areas).

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to introduce this bill today that would help underserviced communities recruit doctors to their hospitals and establish family physicians.

I would like to thank the students at the University of Ottawa Law School, specifically, Paul Braczek and Jeffrey Kroeker, who assisted in the drafting of this private member's bill.

One out of 30 Canadians do not have a family doctor. In small towns and underserviced areas, it becomes as acute as one out of four do not have a family doctor. Barrie, the riding I have the honour of representing, is one of those communities where we have a very acute doctor shortage. This bill would certainly be a step forward in helping alleviate that concern.

Specifically, I want to also pay recognition to Dr. Rob Ballagh and Dr. Brad Dibble, who chaired our physician recruitment task force in our community and helped me come up with this idea as a means to entice doctors to small towns and rural areas that do not have the pleasure of having as many doctors as do larger urban areas that have medical schools.

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

An Act to amend the National Defence Act, the Criminal Code, the Sex Offender Information Registration Act and the Criminal Records Act
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

moved that the fifth report of the Standing Committee on International Trade presented on Wednesday, December 13, 2006, be concurred in.

I am pleased to share my time with the member for Winnipeg Centre who also has a very keen interest in the subject that we are discussing here today.

To begin with, I would like to read the fifth report because it is very important that the public watching here today understand what the NDP is bringing forward in the House in order to deal with the staggering job losses that we are seeing in the apparel industry.

We are requesting concurrence to, from all four corners of the House, the fifth report of Standing Committee on International Trade which reads as follows:

The Committee calls on the Government of Canada to stem the current market disruption, in specific categories, in the Canadian apparel industry, by immediately invoking Article 242 of China's accession protocol to the WTO and putting in place restrictions or safeguards on the growth of specific categories of apparel imports from China; and

The Committee further calls on the Government of Canada to begin bilateral negotiations with China, similar to those undertaken by the United States and the European Union, to reach an agreement on imports of clothing and textiles.

This should not be a concurrence motion that receives any controversy whatsoever because it was adopted by the Standing Committee on International Trade, and adopted by members from the NDP, the Bloc and the Liberal Party.

However, I have to mention as well, because it is an extremely important element, that these are the kinds of commitments that the Conservative Party made in the last election. It was held just a little over a year today. The Conservatives, in opposition, were a vocal supporter of safeguards and in fact urged the previous Liberal government who had not enacted those safeguards, much to the dismay of the apparel communities and apparel workers who have lost their jobs as a result. I am quoting the official opposition critic on international trade for the Conservative Party at the time who was a member of the international trade committee. He said:

A Conservative government would stand up for Canadian workers and work proactively through international trade policies to ensure Canada competes on a level playing field.

The Conservatives supported, during the election campaign that was held a year ago, the exact measures that the NDP is now calling on the House to support and urges the government to do. Therefore, this should not really in any way ignite any sort of debate. This was a Conservative promise. One would hope that the Conservatives would keep their promises. However, I am not so sure that they will.

What we have seen over the past year is completely inept negotiations and capitulations in a number of key areas around trade. I am very concerned as are my colleagues here in the New Democratic corner of the House that we may see the very same thing in the apparel industry.

We have seen the softwood lumber sellout which has cost over 4,000 jobs in the matter of just a few weeks since it was put into place. We have been hemorrhaging jobs in the softwood sector. In fact, as I know you are aware, Mr. Speaker, we have lawsuits that are being put up because of the complete ineptitude of the Conservative government in throwing this softwood sellout out there and trying to force it through when indeed it was a capitulation to the Bush administration.

We have also seen this with the Wheat Board. The moment another country says jump, the Conservative government asks how high. With the Wheat Board, with supply management, Canadians are seeing no defence whatsoever of our important interests.

Let us get back to the apparel industry. We have seen the capitulation on softwood, and we have seen the capitulation that the Conservatives are trying to bring in place for the Wheat Board and the supply managed sector. Fortunately farming communities across the country are reacting very strongly, fighting back and pushing back the Conservatives in this regard. However, if indeed they are doing this in these sectors, is there concern that they will continue to allow the hemorrhaging of jobs in the apparel industry?

It is a matter of great concern to us in this corner of the House because we have seen, in what is the 10th largest manufacturing industry in Canada, the clothing industry, 30% of those jobs hemorrhaged right out of the country, lost, in the last three years. Thousands and thousands of families have been impacted as a result of originally Liberal do nothing policies and now the Conservatives who are afraid to actually stand up for Canadian interests.

In January 2004 Canada had 75,500 jobs in that sector. In January 2005 when the WTO system of quotas expired, Canada had 63,000 jobs. We had lost 12,000 jobs already. A year later in January 2006--and remember that was at the end of the election campaign when the Conservatives had promised to put these safeguards in place--we were left with 54,000 jobs. Over 20,000 jobs have been lost. The November 2006 figures, which are the latest figures available to us, show that there are just over 50,000 jobs left.

Over a period of 36 months this country lost 24,000 jobs. Some 24,000 families have lost their breadwinner because of the inaction and ineptitude of the previous Liberal government and the inaction and ineptitude of the current Conservative government. This has to end.

We are proactive in this corner of the House. The NDP is bringing forward measures that are basically tailored, written and ready to go, so that the government can actually take action to stop the hemorrhaging of the jobs. It is not rocket science. Other countries have already put these safeguards into place. It is the Conservative government that is refusing to move.

What has happened since the WTO quotas expired on January 1, 2005, two years ago? For men's and boys' overcoats the quantity of imports from the People's Republic of China has risen close to 100%. The quantity of men's and boys' suits has risen over 150%. The quantity from China of women's and girls' pants has risen over 200%. The quantity from China of men's and boys' jackets has risen over 350%. Those are all lost jobs we are talking about. The quantity of women's and girls' skirts has risen over 200%. The quantity of men's and boys' pants has risen over 180%. The quantity of women's and girls' jackets has risen over 470%.

We are talking about a flood of imports that has led to a hemorrhaging of jobs in communities that depend on the apparel industry and the clothing industry across this country, particularly in areas such as Winnipeg, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. These are urban centres that are seeing this hemorrhaging of jobs.

I reference the softwood industry. I reference supply management and the Wheat Board. Statistics Canada tells us very clearly that most families in Canada have seen their real income actually fall since 1989. We have seen disastrous economic policies over the last 15 years where governments have simply said, “No, we are not standing up for Canadian interests, unless it is corporate CEOs or corporate lawyers who are represented. We are not going to do anything to help the Canadian middle class”. Regular Canadians have seen their real income fall. The Conservative government has been in power for over a year. It has done nothing to address that fundamental issue, that real incomes are falling for everyone, except the very wealthy and their incomes are skyrocketing.

Here is a clear case where a government can take action. The NDP has already drafted the plan for the government. The government can give credit to the NDP, but even if it does not, we are used to our ideas being moved forward and other parties claiming credit. The important thing is that the jobs be saved.

We have put forward this template. We have said what needs to happen. The job loss very clearly indicates that this is not something that we can debate and discuss. Action needs to be taken and it needs to be taken now.

What have some of the other countries done? The European Union and the United States have put into place these safeguards. They are already in place. Other countries, such as Turkey and Brazil, have put into place these safeguards to save jobs. It makes sense.

I would also like to mention that it has been extremely disappointing to see the incredible number of jobs lost, especially in Quebec.

Since early 2002, 24,000 jobs have disappeared in the apparel industry in Quebec alone, which has been devastating for communities that depend on this industry.

If it were up to the NDP to implement these very important safeguards,we would do it. We must take action. That is why we are tabling this motion today.

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my NDP colleague's comments regarding his motion asking for safeguards to protect the textile industry. There have been massive job losses in this sector. I would like to hear from my colleague on certain issues.

At the time, the Bloc Québécois applied pressure and requested on several occasions that the Liberals implement safeguards. Since then, 50,000 jobs have been lost in the textile sector. We are again exerting pressure on the Conservative Party to establish measures that, for the time being, will protect our industries from the new Chinese competition.

We see that nothing is being done. At present, there is a tendency within the Conservative party to completely liberalize trade without providing any social security for workers, for example by means of an older workers assistance program. We have seen how they slashed social programs, such as literacy initiatives, and all manner of other programs. They want to make it a free-for-all market, without providing any protection.

In committee, certain stakeholders told us that we should simply abandon certain manufacturing sectors and not make any investment in them because jobs will be lost in any event.

I disagree completely with this position because it is not representative of the type of society that we wish to build. I would like to hear from my NDP colleague in this regard.

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé for his question. I know that he also sits on the committee specifically to encourage this Parliament to make good decisions and make sure that the government stops dragging its feet. Important decisions have to be made to preserve jobs across this country.

What matters is that I agree with the hon. member that the Conservatives' policies are increasingly right wing. And that is not what they had promised. In the last election campaign, they promised to introduce safeguard measures.

They said they were disgusted with the inaction of the Liberals and that they would protect those jobs. The Conservatives got the votes of people who could not predict that, in the blink of an eye, they would break their promise and let down the communities that depend on this industry which is so important to the Canadian economy.

The disappointment comes from this broken promise, this about face. I do not know if they are also disappointed because the Minister of International Trade switched sides, but unfortunately it is irresponsible on the part of the government to continue to drag its feet instead of taking action. That is why we are bringing forth this motion which, I am sure, the Bloc Québécois will support.

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I learned a great deal from my colleague's speech.

I would ask him to clarify one point that he raised. He said that the WTO allows member countries to impose limits on the growth of specific categories of Chinese clothing imports. In fact, these imports can be limited to 7.5% growth per year. He cited some startling statistics in his presentation to the House, that certain categories of Chinese imports had increased 200% and 300% per year. A tsunami of Chinese imports is devastating the domestic economy in terms of our textile industry.

Could he verify those figures and comment on them?

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Winnipeg Centre has been a very strong advocate to protect the jobs in the communities that depend on the textile and apparel industry.

It is absolutely appalling when we look at the percentage increase in these imports, anywhere from a 100% increase to a more than 460% increase in certain categories. Imports in the category of women's and girls' jackets particularly have risen more than 470%.

We are talking about a flood of imports that is effectively washing away jobs in communities across the country. In the same way that the softwood sellout is devastating softwood communities, the inaction of the government is leading to a loss of jobs right across the country, in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.

The government has to act and Parliament can push the government to act in a responsible way.