House of Commons Hansard #92 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased this afternoon to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-55.

I was in the House earlier today when the minister of trade made his very enthusiastic uncritical comments in support of the bill that is before us. I listened very carefully to what the minister of trade had to say about what the impact of Bill C-55 if implemented in its current form would be on the shipbuilding industry of this country.

I expected that he would speak in an informed way about what are some very serious concerns which are widely shared not just by a small corner of this House, not just by 30 New Democrat members of Parliament, but by a great many people across this country, particularly on both coasts, in terms of the very worrisome impact this free trade deal will have on the shipbuilding industry. Far from hearing him give appropriate attention to the very legitimate concerns that are widely shared and widely expressed, he more or less dismissed those concerns. I do not want to misrepresent him in any way, but I think he referred to them as certain sensitivities. He said there were certain sensitivities that had arisen in regard to shipbuilding.

I do not know the minister of trade personally, but I have to say that is one of the world's greatest understatements. Perhaps he is prone to understatement, I do not know, but it certainly does not do justice and it does not deal fairly with what are very deeply rooted concerns. From my point of view and that of the New Democratic caucus, these are well-founded concerns about what the impact of this deal, if it goes ahead unamended, will be on thousands of jobs in this country.

Having said that, there is a very unhappy history, one that is very much shared by and is the joint responsibility of a succession of Conservative, Liberal and Conservative governments. There has been a complete failure by any of those governments over the decades to put in place the kind of comprehensive, coherent, national shipbuilding policy that would have served this country so much better than the kind of fits and starts, piecemeal approach to shipbuilding. It has often been an approach that has been based more on short term electoral considerations than on the very fundamental issues that underlie the need for a comprehensive national shipbuilding policy.

My own experience and exposure to the inadequate responses of the succession of governments began when I was leader of the New Democratic Party in Nova Scotia. There were very real, well-founded concerns about the impact of that lack of a national shipbuilding policy in my own riding in Halifax. At that time I was proud to represent the riding of Halifax Fairview, and before that, Halifax Chebucto. Both of those provincial ridings were very much impacted by the policy, or more accurately, the absence of a national shipbuilding policy. That had an impact on the Halifax shipyards. We have systematically allowed that to happen in this country. Other countries, and one most notable in the context of this debate is Norway, have understood that there cannot be a sound, competitive shipbuilding industry if there is not a net comprehensive national policy.

I recall attending federal NDP conventions in the early 1990s. I think 1991 was one of the occasions when I was part of crafting and piloting through a very comprehensive policy that was adopted by the New Democratic Party. We called for that national shipbuilding policy. Before I ever came to Ottawa and continuing since I entered this chamber in 1997, the New Democratic Party has been very consistent and very persistent in continuing to press for that national shipbuilding policy.

We still do not have it. When the Minister of International Trade refers to “certain sensitivities”, his words, with respect to the disastrous impact that this trade deal, unamended, could have on our shipbuilding industry, he is being extremely insensitive to both that pathetic history of governments of his party's stripe and of the Liberals in not securing a sound base for a robust shipbuilding industry that can continue to compete in today's world.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with our current shipbuilders and our current shipyard workers in terms of their ability to compete, but we have had such a fits and starts approach to this industry that what has effectively happened is that Norway foremost, but other countries as well, has invested in a smart, orderly and far-sighted way in its shipbuilding industry. It has in the process established itself as a competitor that will be a huge winner from the trade deal that is before us. I say good for it.

Some people ask, what is wrong with New Democrats? After all Norway has had a proud tradition of being a social democratic country committed to high wages, committed to practically the whole range of policy objectives that the current government and the Liberal government before it completely pushed aside as not the domain of government intervention. In fact in Norway the government has intervened in a very smart way to build up its shipbuilding capacity, to train, to invest in the hardware, software and infrastructure needed, in the tax policies and so on.

It is not some kind of unexpected development that Canada finds itself at such a disadvantage in relation to competing with a country like Norway. What is unexpected, but I suppose we should come to expect it, what is absolutely unacceptable and impossible to understand for a lot of people whose jobs are at stake is what on earth Canada has been doing in the meantime that has allowed us to be so vulnerable.

It is not just New Democrats who are speaking out on this, although before I go to some of the other voices and some of the other interests very much concerned about the devastation in the shipbuilding industry that can result from this trade deal, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore, who is not able to be here today. I have to say that if he had been in the House to hear the minister talk about certain sensitivities, I think he probably would have had a heart attack. In fact, he had an accident and because of his injury was in hospital yesterday being operated on, and therefore, he was not able to be here today. He has never failed to take a stand on behalf of the shipbuilders and the shipyard workers in this country from the day he entered public life.

It is not just the Nova Scotian members of Parliament in the New Democratic caucus who have been very vocal, knowledgeable and persistent in putting forward their concerns. There are several members from British Columbia. For example, there is the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan. The Nanaimo shipyards are very important to the local economy and obviously for local jobs. There is the member for Victoria. In Victoria the Esquimalt dry dock is very important. The Lower Mainland and the Vancouver members all have expressed their concerns articulately. However, it is not just New Democrats who have spoken out.

I would like to read briefly from some of the testimony before the parliamentary committee when Karl Risser, president of Local 1, which was originally the Marine Workers' Federation but is now affiliated with the Canadian Auto Workers Shipbuilding, appeared before the committee. He did so not just on behalf of the proud members who have a long history with the Marine Workers' Federation and today are affiliated with CAW, but also on behalf of the Shipbuilding, Waterways and Marine Workers Council that has done a lot of collaboration and coordination around its concerns about this impending devastation to the shipbuilding industry. He stated in committee:

I am here on behalf of the workers in the marine sector...to express our opposition to this agreement. Canadian shipbuilders find themselves competing for work in domestic and international markets on far from a level ground. Other governments, Norway for one, have supported the shipbuilding industries for years and have built them into powers, while Canada has not. We have had little protection, and what little protection we have left is a 25% tariff on imported vessels into Canada, which is being washed away by government daily through agreements such as this and the exemptions being negotiated with companies.

I will not go on at length, but he makes the important point that ministers of defence over the years have acknowledged how important shipbuilding is to our defence. I know there are some members who will rush forward in this context and ask what my concern is now because we have some important new shipbuilding activity happening with respect to the submarine refits and to the frigates. That is absolutely true and it is very welcome, and I acknowledge that, but with respect to defence and shipbuilding, there has never been a comprehensive approach taken to this and, therefore, we have not had orderly procurement nor long term planning and investments. We have had major investments into important contracts from time to time but then just a drought for very long periods.

Someone who is not familiar with the shipbuilding industry may say that it is not the government's problem. Do we want the government investing and awarding contracts to shipyards to build naval vessels that we do not need? No, but that is not the point. The reason we need a comprehensive national shipbuilding policy is because of the very heavy investment of public dollars into contracts that are awarded for naval vessels and, most recently, major contracts with respect to frigates and subs. Without a comprehensive national shipbuilding policy, all that investment would fall idle if we did not have a commitment to Canadian shipbuilding of non-defence vessels.

It is not surprising that a lot of concern has been expressed. Unwisely, the government felt that, because of opposition from the existing shipyards and in the absence of a national shipbuilding policy, which, understandably, marine and shipyard workers across the country will be very opposed to, it could award the major contracts for both the frigate and the submarine refits and that would shut them up. It felt that would keep them busy in the short term and that they would not dare speak out because they would be so grateful.

However, what they understand, what they committed to and what they lobbied a long time for was not just the immediate investment in contracts that would benefit them individually as workers or their families, but they had pleaded the case and put forward comprehensive proposals for what a national shipbuilding policy should look like and they still do not have it.

Therefore, there are major concerns about what will happen to our shipyards and to the jobs of our shipyard workers over time.

The point was made that Norway should be the kind of country with which we would welcome entering into trade deals, and that is true, but that does not mean we can turn our backs on the legitimate problems that have arisen, not because of what it is looking for but because of what we have failed to do in terms or appropriate investments.

As I indicated, many other people have expressed concerns about the impact of this. Some may suggest that it only affects the shipyard workers. However, in his testimony before the committee, the president of the Shipyard General Workers' Federation in British Columbia stated:

The Canadian shipbuilding industry is already operating at about one-third of its capacity. Canadian demand for ships over the next 15 years is estimated to be worth $9 billion in Canadian jobs. Under the FTAs with Norway, Iceland, and now planned with Korea and then Japan, these Canadian shipbuilding jobs are in serious jeopardy. In these terms, this government's plan is sheer folly and an outrage.

Is it only the workers who have spoken out? No it is not.

In his testimony before committee, Andrew McArthur, speaking on behalf of the Shipbuilding Association of Canada but long-associated with Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and now in retirement, said:

So our position from day one has been that shipbuilding should be carved out from the trade agreement. We butted our heads against a brick wall for quite a number of years on that and we were told there is no carve-out. If the Americans, under the Jones Act, can carve out shipbuilding from NAFTA and other free trade agreements, as I believe the Americans are doing today with Korea, or have done, why can Canada not do the same? ...We have to do something to ensure shipbuilding continues. The easiest thing is to carve it out from EFTA. And if you do one thing, convince your colleagues in government to extend the ship financing facility, make it available to Canadian owners in combination with the accelerated capital cost allowance, and you will have as vibrant an industry as exists

However, what has not happened is the kind of response to the expert advice given by those involved in the shipbuilding industry and by the concerns put forward by the shipyard workers themselves.

I want to come back to where the Liberals stand on this. I could not help but think how consistent they have been, and they are consistent if nothing else, on the budget, on the extension of the Afghan counter-insurgency mission and with regard to climate change. They have railed against them, have talked about the problems with them and then have voted for them or did not vote at all.

Today we heard the trade critic for the Liberals say that they really had concerns about shipbuilding. He knows the problems and spoke a bit about them but then said that they would monitor the effect of this on the shipbuilding industry.

In conclusion, I want to indicate that the New Democratic Party cannot support this bill without a carve out for the shipbuilding industry and without any indication that some of the agricultural implications have been adequately addressed.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member as she spoke about her objection to this great free trade agreement that we are debating now and which looks as though it will come to fruition.

I listened with interest to her criticism of the shipbuilding aspect of it but I also listened when the minister spoke about the agreement and the protection put in it to protect, for many years, our shipbuilding industry.

However, I find it rather curious that here we are creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and perhaps millions of man-hours for people who work in an industry that we all know was at risk, and, in one particular case, the Davie Yards, which was in financial distress and has been for some time, how this bodes well for the health of that particular industry.

I do not know how the member can construe the tremendous investment by the Minister of National Defence and the procurement by the Canadian government with regard to defence contracts, in particular, the refurbishing of our fleet, to be a negative. My goodness, I do not know how this could be a negative. It actually bodes well for employment and the long term viability of our shipbuilding industry.

Why does the hon. member and her party, time and time again, vote against the very thing that creates employment and brings back vitality to that industry?

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to be argumentative. I do not know whether the member was in the chamber when I spoke but if he was, he either did not listen to what I said, which is his prerogative, or he did listen and knows that he has completely misrepresented what I said.

I said, in no uncertain terms, that it does bode well in the short term for jobs in shipbuilding. I made that very clear. I complimented the government on that and acknowledged that was so.

What I went on to say, however, which he chose to either disregard or misrepresent, which is not quite within the rules, is not what he said. He said that I had suggested that this was a negative thing and that I did not acknowledge that the implications for shipbuilding in the short term were positive. I do acknowledge that, but the present government, like the Liberals before it, has only a short term view of these things.

If he wants to know why we cannot support this bill unamended, it is because a carve out of the shipbuilding industry would have done nothing to damage the prospects for the jobs that are now going to be generated by the new refurbishing of our fleets. Therefore, a very simple carve out would have made a great deal of difference. We will continue to fight for that. We believe that was what was needed and without it we will not be able to vote for it.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I was listening to the discussion of the hon. member for Halifax on what was said, or what was not said, or what might have been said, and quite frankly I am a bit confused.

However, what I am not confused about is the fact that this is a good treaty. It is a good FTA for Canada. It is a good FTA for the European nations. It opens up prospects for a wider market for goods. Anytime we can sell our goods in Canada, because we are an exporting nation, that means jobs and opportunities for Canadians, for workers, whether they are unionized or non-unionized. It is a good thing for Canada.

For the shipbuilding industry in particular, there are 15 years of protection in this treaty. That is the most protection of any FTA we have signed. For three of those years, the protection is at its current level. That is the most effort any government has ever made to protect any particular industry under a free trade agreement.

I would go a step further than that. The Norwegians have just purchased the Davie yard in Quebec. It looks now as if that yard will be profitable, with a lot of jobs and a lot of opportunity for the workforce in Quebec. I am not sure, without a foreign buyer, if this would have happened. I am not sure if that yard would have remained viable.

It is worth discussing. Would the NDP rather see our shipbuilding industry die a slow and painful death and see us lose those high paying, well qualified jobs in this country? That is the direction in which the shipbuilding industry was headed.

This government has done more than any previous government to support shipbuilding, first of all under this agreement, and second, with our frigate program. The Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Public Works recently announced $549 million for the Halifax shipyards and $351 million for the Victoria shipyards, respectively, for a refit of Canada's frigate fleet. This is part of $3.2 billion that is going to be spent on refurbishing our fleet in Canada.

At the end of the day, this is a good agreement for shipbuilding. That is the area she wants to talk about. In that area alone, this is a good agreement.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, we will just respectfully have to agree to disagree. A great many people in this country, from Newfoundland through to British Columbia, who have decades of experience and an in-depth knowledge of the shipbuilding industry, happen not to agree with the government on this and we happen to agree with them.

One of the reasons, if he wants to know why there is such concern, is that when there were a lot of concerns about the Jones act in the U.S. being exempted from NAFTA and a lot of people in the shipbuilding industry were saying that it was really going to be a blow to the industry, the Conservatives said, “No, this is a great deal”. The Liberals said they were opposed to it, but then they signed it anyway when they got into government. The Conservatives said it was a great deal and there was no problem, but of course we know that is not true.

Let me again quote Andrew McArthur, one of the foremost authorities. I do not have time to quote him at length, but he made it absolutely clear that NAFTA had been a disaster when he said:

Looking at NAFTA, we feel we were sold down the river. We cannot build for American shipowners, but American shipbuilders can build for Canadian shipowners....

They are suspicious. In the short term, they understand, as I have acknowledged, that the refurbishing of the fleet is a very positive thing for the existing shipbuilding industry, but it does not provide what they said was essential: if not a carve-out, then a clear, comprehensive, national shipbuilding policy. We still do not have it. On that basis, they and we cannot support this flawed agreement.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill C-55, which would implement the free trade agreement that Canada has negotiated with the European Free Trade Association, which is composed of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

It marks the successful end of nine years of negotiations. This process began under the leadership of the former Liberal government and represents a significant achievement for Canada as a trading nation. It secures free trade with our fifth largest merchandise export destination.

Canada has always been a trading nation. From the early days of fur and fish to the present, when a remarkable 90% of our gross national product is attributable to exports and imports, Canadians have relied on international trade to bolster our economy.

Trade is the way of the future. The ratio of world exports to GDP has more than doubled since 1950.

This agreement is a proud achievement for our trading nation.

That being said, I share the legitimate concerns of our country's shipbuilding industry, and I have been careful to examine the provisions affecting that industry before offering my support.

The EFTA agreement strikes a balanced approach by providing new and important market access for Canada's exporters, while also ensuring that an important domestic industry is protected against unfair competition from Norway. Norway subsidized its shipbuilders and built up a tremendous shipbuilding infrastructure, growing the industry into a world leader. However, Norway eliminated its subsidies in 2005 and has no plans to reintroduce them in the future.

Nonetheless, the effect of this buildup still gives the Norwegian industry an advantage. As responsible legislators, we must be careful to ensure that this advantage does not allow it to compete unfairly against our own shipbuilders.

The EFTA agreement provides several protections against this historical advantage. First, it phases out tariffs on ship imports over 15 years, the second longest phase-out ever negotiated in a free trade agreement. This is also the longest tariff phase-out that Canada has ever negotiated. Our negotiators are to be commended for this achievement.

Furthermore, if imports from EFTA countries cause harm to our Canadian shipbuilders during that time, we can revert our tariffs to the pre-free trade tariff rate for up to three years.

This two-pronged approach provides important protection and a long transition period for our shipbuilders. This is the fairest, most balanced deal that can be achieved in the real world.

The only exception to these rules is for the largest type of ships, the post-panamax cargo ships, which is not a size of vessel that our shipyards can produce.

These provisions are critical. A carve-out option for these ships, as suggested by my hon. colleagues in the NDP, was a huge stumbling block to making this important agreement a reality.

All of this is not to say that shipbuilders will not see some benefits as well. Earlier, the NDP member for Halifax in fact said that the shipbuilding industry in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada will see some benefits from this agreement.

The buy Canada procurement policy for ships will not be threatened by this agreement, and shipbuilding is also being supported through a $50 million renewal of Industry Canada's structured financing facility.

The objective of the program is to stimulate demand for Canadian-built vessels and increase innovation in our shipyards. It has been able to attract foreign buyers to Canadian shipyards, and the $50 million reinvestment is an important part of continuing this trend.

We should also note that the EFTA agreement presents no threat to our agricultural supply management system. This system is specifically exempted in this agreement.

In my remaining time, I want to talk about the benefits of the trade agreement with EFTA.

The European Free Trade Association is a significant bloc of countries when it comes to their combined economic strength. They are our fifth largest export destination in the world and our twelfth largest destination for foreign direct investment.

Canadian exporters and producers will benefit considerably through the reduction and elimination of tariffs under this agreement. Benefits include the elimination of duties on all non-agricultural goods, the elimination or reduction of tariffs on selected agricultural products, and a level playing field with the European Union exporters in EFTA markets.

There are many farm owners and workers in my community who will be pleased to know that this agreement also eliminates the EFTA countries' agricultural export subsidies for products covered by the agreement. A significant number of agrifood products will receive tariff treatment no less favourable than the tariff treatment accorded to the European Union for the same goods. This is an important competitive gain for our farmers.

The agreement itself is a first generation agreement: it focuses on tariff elimination and trade in goods. Unlike NAFTA, the agreement does not include provisions on investment, services or intellectual property.

The focus on goods is justified. The activities of goods producers account for roughly one-third of total value-added of all industries in the Canadian economy. Between 1997 and 2004, the GDP growth for goods producers averaged 3% per year.

These exclusions have made it an easier deal to secure. However, these provisions should remain long term goals for Canada.

We need to secure provisions on services in the future. Services are the fastest growing part of the economy. Services are things that we cannot drop on our foot. Service producers account for two-thirds of industry-based GDP.

We also need to negotiate agreements on investment. Canadians need to be able to invest abroad with the full confidence that they will be treated equally to domestic producers. If they are not, they need the ability to seek legal solutions.

Finally, we will also need to secure an agreement on intellectual property. An intellectual property policy provides the foundation for investment and growth opportunities in the knowledge-based economy. When we look at our future generation, if we have to compete with giant markets like China and India, we will have to be a self-sustained knowledge-based economy here in Canada.

The free trade agreement with EFTA does not cover safeguards, anti-dumping and countervailing duties, which will continue to be addressed at the World Trade Organization. However, there are provisions that will allow these issues to be revisited after three years, leading to more negotiations and potential gains later on.

The EFTA agreement also has a strategic importance that cannot be discounted. It shows the European Union that we are a serious and important partner, which will help our hope to eventually secure free trade with the European Union.

Yet, the EFTA countries are important in their own right. There has been significant growth in our exports to them, with the past few years showing an amazing 27.6% annual increase in merchandise exports. They are an important market for Canadian natural resources, industrial products and forestry products.

The EFTA countries are also our seventh largest source of imports, including medical products, chemicals and machinery. My colleagues may not be surprised to know that Switzerland is also a key supplier of clocks and chocolate to Canada.

There is also strong foreign direct investment between both sides of this new agreement. Canadian direct investment abroad within these four countries totalled $8.4 billion in 2006. Similarly, Canada is an attractive place for foreign direct investment from EFTA. In 2006, the EFTA bloc invested a total of $15.6 billion in Canada, which was up an unbelievable $9.7 billion from 2004.

This agreement is also welcomed from the point of view of the relationship with Europe more widely. We have found common ground with four European countries. My daughter is currently studying medicine at a school in Europe.

As I go on with this case, I can see that we have a market that we should also be looking forward to because of the strength that the European Union brings to this agreement. We can have a marketplace to go to. This should also help us to find common ground with a much larger and more diverse European Union in the future. The EFTA agreement is an important stepping stone on the path to a Canada-European Union free trade agreement.

Other immediate advantages also include opportunities for trade diversification and enhanced industrial cooperation. We will also have a leg up on the U.S., which has yet to sign such an agreement with EFTA. It also keeps Canada ahead of China, which is already negotiating its own free trade agreement, and India, which is expected to begin negotiations this year.

The Liberal Party supports the broad, multilateral process of trade liberalization under the World Trade Organization. Securing equal access to all countries is ideal. It is especially important for countries where it would be difficult for Canada to get a deal with on the same terms, or even at all, due to our relative size.

Multilateral, non-discriminatory trade liberalization is the ideal. However, given what we are currently experiencing, the multilateral process is often cumbersome and slow. Regional trade agreements, like the one concluded between Canada and the EFTA, can be good and useful supplements to the multilateral process.

Finally, the agreement also has symbolic importance: it increases investor confidence, even without provisions on investment in the deal.

Culturally, Canada shares close ties with the EFTA countries. The largest Icelandic population outside Iceland is in Canada, estimated at more than 100,000 people. Large numbers of Canadians hail from the other member countries of the EFTA. Our countries share the values of democracy, freedom, human rights, freedom of expression and free market economies. We have so much in common with these countries.

Canada is a trading nation and the Liberal Party is the party of free trade. The EFTA agreement is an important agreement and it represents a launching pad to larger trade possibilities down the road. This is a trading relationship that every member in this House should rise to support. I thank the House for giving me the opportunity to share my views. I welcome questions from hon. members.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-55, the Canada-EFTA free trade agreement.

As other members in the House have pointed out, this agreement has been in discussions for a long time. In fact, the European Free Trade Association and Canada first started their negotiations under the Liberals in 1997 but, ironically, it stalled in the year 2000 over shipbuilding issues. Here we are once again, in 2008, talking about concerns over the shipbuilding issues.

There are a number of good reasons why New Democrats have raised concerns about this agreement. Part of it is about the track record of the current Conservative government. All we have to do is look to the softwood sellout and look at the impact of what is happening in ridings from coast to coast to coast around the softwood agreement and some of the subsequent impacts on forestry policy. What we do not have, of course, is any kind of national strategy around forestry.

In addition, in the House today the government was talking about 22,000 jobs being created but what it failed to say is that the jobless rate rose in April to 6.1% and, in fact, manufacturing continued to decline in April with losses in Ontario and British Columbia. The number of factory workers has decreased by 112,000 since April 2007, according to Statistics Canada.

I want to return to forestry for one second because it directly relates to what we are seeing in the shipbuilding sector. With the government's policies around softwood and raw log exports, because of course it has a federal role, what we have seen particularly in British Columbia and my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan is one sawmill after another close. This has had an impact on the pulp and paper industry because it does not have access to fibre supply.

An article by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in June 2007 stated:

Numerous opportunities to generate jobs from forest resources are routinely squandered. Absent much-needed provincial forest policy reforms, the situation is poised to get worse.

This short paper addresses two of the more troubling trends plaguing the coastal industry – rising log exports and mounting wood waste...The cost of not turning those logs into lumber and other wood products here in BC was the loss of an estimated 5,872 jobs in 2005 and 5,756 jobs in 2006.

I know we are talking about a free trade agreement and shipbuilding, so I want to turn my attention to shipbuilding. But I think the record in the forestry sector is an important one to note in the House because it directly relates to trade agreements.

The government is saying, “Trust us. We have built in a 15 year window to protect the shipbuilding industry. Just trust us that somehow or other our workers and communities will survive throughout this”. Because the softwood agreement is so fresh in people's memories, it is very difficult to believe that the government will put the measures in place that will actually protect the shipbuilding industry.

In the early 1980s, the shipbuilding industry was a robust industry in Canada and there were a number of shipyards from coast to coast that were very successful, but in the mid-1980s, 1986 or thereabouts, we started to see a rationalization in the shipbuilding industry.

I want to acknowledge the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore. We all know that any time a question comes up in the House with regard to industrial strategy in this country, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore will remind members that we must put shipbuilding into that context. Although he has been tireless with his advocacy for this, the government and the former Liberal government simply failed to do that.

I also want to mention the member for Halifax who acknowledged the fact that some work has been done to shore up, so to speak, the shipbuilding industry over the last while. However, we do not have a long term sustainable plan. The government itself has acknowledged the critical role that shipbuilding plays in terms of our sovereignty. Yet, it simply has not put the effort into developing that plan.

When the NDP expressed its concerns about the lack of carve-out provisions in this particular agreement, this position was not developed in isolation. This position was developed in conjunction with the industry and the trade unions.

The board of directors from the Shipbuilding Association of Canada and the Canadian Auto Workers Union came before the committee and talked about some elements that they saw as being essential to be included.

We are not just opposing the agreement. We are proposing solutions in conjunction with people who are on the ground in this industry. They have asked for a carve out, saying that shipbuilding must be excluded from the agreement. They said that the federal government should immediately help put together a structured financing facility and an accelerated capital cost allowance for the industry.

Earlier when we heard the minister speak, I put a question to him about the Jones act and the minister said that it was domestic policy. Let me talk about the Jones act for one second.

The U.S. has always refused to repeal the Jones act. It is legislation that has been in place since 1920. It was legislation that was deliberately developed to protect U.S. capacity to produce commercial ships. The Jones act requires that commerce between U.S. ports on the inland and intercoastal waterways be reserved for vessels that are U.S. built, U.S. owned, registered under U.S. law and U.S. manned. In addition to that, and the minister said that this was domestic policy, the U.S. has also refused to include shipbuilding under NAFTA and has implemented in recent years a heavily subsidized naval reconstruction program.

If the United States, and many members of the House will tout it as the bastion of free enterprise, could see fit to work to protect its shipbuilding industry, surely Canada could do the same thing. This is even more critical in light of the sovereignty issue, but also we have the longest coastline in the world. We should have a vibrant and healthy shipbuilding industry, and it should be everything from small pleasure craft right the way up to the large vessels.

I talked earlier about some of the closures. I come from British Columbia and although this was a provincial government decision, we all know that many times provincial government decisions are influenced by policy at the federal government level.

I want to read from a press release of December 13, 2007, from the B.C. Federation of Labour. It said:

While B.C. Ferries holds a $60,000 party in Germany for 3,000 people on Friday, there will be no celebrating the launch of the first three German-built Super-C Class ferries that have cost the province 3,500 direct and indirect jobs and the loss of $542 million in investment.

That release was put out by the B.C. Shipyard General Workers' Federation.

About the B.C. Ferries' tendering, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said:

Buying Canadian is no longer procurement policy—at least in British Columbia....If BC shipyards do not receive a significant portion of BC Ferries vessel refits and replacement work over the next five years it is doubtful that a single major shipyard will survive—a substantial de-industralization of the BC economy.

Why would the provincial government choose to forfeit a significant tool of industrial development and throw out its ability to use a major crown corporation to support local well-paying jobs?

Further on down in the article it talks about this being:

—simplistic bottom line economics—search the world for ferry bargains. This approach fails to recognize the spin-off benefits to the BC economy of local procurement. Assuming $175 million is spent in BC on ferry refits and a small new vessel over the next five years, these benefits include 1,500 person years of employment, a $78 million increase in household income, a $101 million increase in provincial GDP, and a $32 million return to government revenues.

Those were 2002 numbers so we can only imagine that those numbers would have substantially increased over the last few years.

What we see in British Columbia is a growing income gap. We have a province that is reeling not only from forestry, but from the lack of attention and investment in the shipbuilding sector. In July 2007 the B.C. shipyard workers put out another release. It said:

BC Shipyard Workers Federation says federal Conservative government betraying shipbuilding industry—free trade deal between Canada and European Free Trade Association expected today could throw away thousands of jobs and hundreds of million of investment in BC and Canada.

George MacPherson, president of the shipyard workers, said:

—a federal announcement today to add $50 million over three years to a Canadian shipbuilding financing program is money previously removed from the same program and won't do much to protect the industry.

Therefore, we have this shell game again, where money is taken away, then it is given back and another press release comes out from the government to talk about how wonderful it is.

MacPherson said:

British Columbia has already lost nearly $1 billion worth of shipbuilding work because BC Ferries is constructing several new ferries in Germany...

A national strategic policy development is required, which supports the shipbuilding industry. When the government talks about a 15 year window to do that, it needs to move on it now. In fact, the U.K. has a shipbuilding strategy. I want to read a couple of points from it because these are things that Canada could building on. Its Defence Industrial Strategy: Defence White Paper, of December 2005, stated:

—it is a high priority for the UK to retain the suite of capabilities required to design complex ships and submarines, from concept to point of build; and the complementary skills to manage the build, integration, assurance, test, acceptance, support and upgrade of maritime platforms through-life;...We also need to retain the ability to maintain and support the Navy....To sustain this requires a minimum ability to build as well as integrate complex ships in the UK, not least to develop the workforce, and to adjust first-of-class designs as they develop.

Surely Canada could learn from other nations that have really made efforts to protect their shipbuilding industry.

Again, earlier today people talked about the fact that Norway did not currently subsidize its industry. It does not subsidize its industry because the government of Norway, over a number of years, put subsidies in place, developed a long term industrial strategy and looked at training and support of the workforce.

We would expect to see that kind of initiative from the government. Because people keep talking about how long a time span 15 years is, what should be done is the carve out should happen so those plans can be put in place and our shipbuilding industry can build on its already considerable strength, because we are world class shipbuilders. However, we need to ensure we invigorate and support that industry.

I would argue it is even more important we carve it out and ensure that we put those supports in place.

The member for Halifax mentioned this, but I want to re-emphasize it. The president of the Shipyard General Workers' Federation of British Columbia said:

The Canadian shipbuilding industry is already operating at about one-third of its capacity. Canadian demand for ships over the next 15 years is estimated to be worth $9 billion in Canadian jobs. Under the FTAs with Norway, Iceland, and now planned with Korea and then Japan, these Canadian shipbuilding jobs are in serious jeopardy. In these terms, this government's plan is sheer folly and an outrage.

Again, that is the labour side of it.

Let us talk about the president of the Shipyard Association of Canada, who retired from Irving Shipbuilding Inc. He said:

So our position from day one has been that shipbuilding should be carved out from the trade agreement. We butted our heads against a brick wall for quite a number of years on that and we were told there is no carve-out. If the Americans, under the Jones Act, can carve out shipbuilding from NAFTA and other free trade agreements, as I believe the Americans are doing today with Korea, or have done, why can Canada not do the same?

We have to do something to ensure shipbuilding continues. The easiest thing is to carve it out from EFTA. And if you do one thing, convince your colleagues in government to extend the ship financing facility, make it available to Canadian owners in combination with the accelerated capital cost allowance, and you will have as vibrant an industry as exists.

It is very important that we continue to push for an amendment of this agreement which carves out shipbuilding to ensure our industry stays viable.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

When we return to the study of Bill C-55, there will be six minutes left for the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan as the time allotted for questions and comments.

Official Development Assistance Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

May 9th, 2008 / 1:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

moved the second reading of, and concurrence in, amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for this, I hope, final opportunity to speak to the bill. Just for the purposes of those who might be watching this debate, we are anticipating that the debate will collapse today, that it will go to a vote and that this will be the final debate on this bill. I am hoping for that and seeking the assurance of my colleagues in the House that we will work on that basis.

This has been a long journey. It started almost two years ago. There is a saying that “it takes a village to raise a child”. Well, it takes a caucus to raise a bill and it takes another caucus to raise a bill. I want to publicly thank my colleagues in the NDP caucus for their support and it takes the caucus of the Bloc Québécois to raise this bill. I want to thank the government, particularly the minister of international development assistance, for her assistance in finally bringing this bill to the stage that it is at today.

Most important, I want to thank the thousands of Canadians who supported this bill through visits to their MPs, telephone calls to senators, emails, letters, petitions, rallies outside on Parliament Hill and literally tens of thousands of names that were put forward on petitions supporting this bill. I am hoping today is the payoff day. I hope those thousands of Canadians who supported this bill over the last two years and have been very faithful in their support, will raise a glass to themselves tonight and say “job well done”, because today is, hopefully, the end of Bill C-293, that it will receive royal assent and then move from the position of being a bill to being law.

I am afraid that if I start thanking all the people I need to thank for this bill, I will defeat myself and run out the clock. I will try to be brief on the people who I need to thank because they have been very supportive. As I said, the Bloc and the NDP caucuses have been there from the beginning and I want to particularly acknowledge the work of the member for Halifax who has been steadfast in her support.

I also want to thank the leadership of the Liberal Party, both the interim leader, the hon. Bill Graham, and our current leadership, the House leadership and the Senate leadership who have been steadfast throughout, particularly the whip and our House leaders.

My special thanks go to the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, the member for Richmond Hill, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, and the member for London North Centre, all of whom have personally encouraged me in many different ways and stepped into the breach when they needed to.

I also want to acknowledge my thanks to Senator Segal, Senator Smith and Senator Cowan who, in the other place, were very pivotal in moving this bill forward.

Indeed, I would be remiss if I did not thank the member for Mississauga South who navigated me and this bill through the increasingly complex labyrinth called private members' business.

It also would be remiss of me if I did not thank my friend, Gerry Barr, from the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, for his support throughout this two year period. His tenacity is incredible and we called upon all of his formidable organizational and intellectual skills to see that this bill would receive royal assent.

I also want to thank Professor Aaron Freeman for his invaluable legal assistance at particular points in drafting and when we had to renegotiate when a royal recommendation was needed.

Who can forget the Engineers without Borders who phoned me, literally out of the blue, and encouraged me and invited me to their conference and got behind this bill. It is so encouraging to see young, bright, vibrant, energetic people, our nation's future, get behind a bill such as this and give it their enthusiastic push.

Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has been stalwart, as have World Vision, Results Canada, Make Poverty History and literally hundreds of other NGOs who saw that this bill would be a good allocation of public resources.

I was greatly honoured to have General Roméo Dallaire, now Senator Roméo Dallaire, as my bill's Senate sponsor. He is a moral force for good in this nation and a hero to many of us. I am greatly honoured to have had him sponsor this bill in the Senate. He moved the bill forward with the moral authority that only General Dallaire has.

I do not want to get into all of the thanks, but I just have to thank my staff, Robyn Mogan, Trish Renaud, Kein Turner, Anna-Christina Gamillscheg and Janice Luke, and of course my family who has heard more about this bill than it ever cared to hear about it, my wife Carolyn Dartnell, my sons Ian and Nathan, and my daughters Caitlin, Rachel and Sarah. I would go home on a Thursday or Friday night and they would hear all the stories about Bill C-293. I want to thank them publicly.

We are all here to make a difference. We aspire to make a difference here. We leave our jobs, our families and our communities to come here to try to make a difference. This bill could actually make a difference in the lives of so many people who are impoverished in our world.

I call upon those who will be called to fulfill this law, to fulfill it not only in practice but also in spirit and to fulfill it with enthusiasm. We should not let the cynics get us down. This is a law that actually could make a difference in how Canada is perceived in the world and how we minister to those who are impoverished.

In January of last year I travelled to Kenya with Results Canada. One of our stops was at a hospital in western Kenya. We were visiting AIDS patients. The hospital is literally divided into two parts: on the one side were men and on the other side were women, all of whom were either sick or dying. There were 50 beds for men, 50 beds for women, and 70 patients on each side. As one can imagine, there was more than one patient in some of the beds. Some of these people were literally on their last legs, and the nurses told us that two or three would die that day.

Part of the hospital services was to make available job training in a workplace training centre, so we visited there. I can still see this woman who was sitting at a sewing machine making handbags. She had a huge smile. She was wearing a red dress. She can make about five handbags a day. She is paid the rough equivalent of 65¢ a day. She looked up at me and said, “I am HIV positive. I choose to live my life as HIV negative. I want to live long enough to see my child marry. I thank Jesus for every day he gives me”.

That had an impact on me. I know it had an impact on our delegation. That is why it is so important that Bill C-293 receive royal assent. Maybe that woman and thousands of others might well be positively affected by Bill C-293.

I want to conclude by thanking each and every member here for his or her support. I want to thank everyone for the support that we have received from literally thousands of Canadians around the country. I want to thank those in the NGO community in particular and my friend Gerry Barr for all of their persistence in seeing that today arrived.

Official Development Assistance Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. friend from Scarborough—Guildwood, first of all for his tenacity and for putting up with the hours that we spent together dealing with Bill C-293. I am not ashamed to say that there were concerns that I held with the original form of this piece of legislation, and I will refer to those later, but I do congratulate the hon. member for putting up with my arguments and my encouragement for him to accept amendments that I personally and some of my colleagues on this side of the House thought would make it a more effective bill.

I am encouraged to see that we are addressing this matter of very serious concern to all Canadians and to many people living in poor countries around the world. I am sure the thoughts of all members are with those in Burma specifically today, in light of the tragedy that is unfolding there.

Private member's Bill C-293, an act respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad, was introduced in the House of Commons on May 17, 2006. The intent of the bill is and always was consistent with the priorities of this government, especially the priorities of poverty reduction and the promotion of human rights.

The proposed amendments to Bill C-293 address most of the government's stated concerns regarding clarity of mandate, strengthened accountability and greater aid effectiveness. The proposed amendments address our main concerns and make the bill even better. They also provide consistency with the government's three point plan for aid effectiveness.

The result of these amendments will be legislation that strengthens the aid program and adds a useful tool to Canada's efforts to reduce poverty, as well as improve living standards for families and communities in the harshest regions of the world.

This government has made it clear that poverty reduction is the overarching purpose of our international development assistance in poor countries, places where Canada can and is able to make a difference in the lives of people who just need a helping hand. There should be no doubt that poverty reduction is central to all of our international development assistance efforts, and while Canadians are eager to help the poorest of the poor, they want reassurances that their tax dollars are making a real difference in the lives of the people that they are intended to help.

Canadians have told us that they want their government to lead by example in the area of international assistance by delivering on its promises, ensuring aid is effective, and implementing innovative approaches to development cooperation. In response, this government has been working to improve aid effectiveness through greater focus, efficiency, accountability and results.

The government has demonstrated this through a concrete three point plan for aid effectiveness, which is helping to transform how Canada delivers aid around the world and which represents a commitment to greater results and accountability.

Budgets 2007 and 2008 laid out details of this plan to meet Canadians' expectations by establishing a clear direction for Canada's international assistance. The plan concentrates on three important areas: strengthening focus, so that our development assistance to other countries is consistent with our foreign policy objectives; improving the efficiency of Canadian aid, to reduce administrative costs and improve overseas field presence to areas where we can get better mileage for our aid dollars; and most important, building in greater accountability.

For Canadian taxpayers to understand and support Canada's effective role in international development assistance, they need to be reassured that we are committed to using tools such as independent evaluations and objective assessments that help achieve results and communicate these results to Canadians.

In this way the government has begun to transform the way we deliver aid around the world. In doing so, the government has increased engagement in the Americas. It is doubling assistance to the Caribbean. It has increased presence and resources in fragile states like Afghanistan and Haiti.

In the last two years the government has made significant progress in reforming Canada's international assistance and shaping it to meet new priorities. We have undertaken long term commitments to Afghanistan and Haiti.

As our Prime Minister has announced previously, we are re-engaging Canada in the Americas and doubling our assistance to the Caribbean. In addition, we are ensuring that Canada is meeting its G-8 commitment to Africa.

The government's commitment to the most vulnerable was most recently demonstrated by our response to the current food crisis. We allocated substantial new funding for food aid to help those most in need. Canada has maximized the effectiveness of this contribution by untying restrictions on food aid procurement.

I want to pause for a moment to emphasize what an important step this is. From consultations with members across the aisle, and with the industry leaders in the agricultural community, this was a non-political, non-partisan measure. It will result in saved lives and it is the right thing to do. It is an example of this government making Parliament work and I am proud of it.

This has provided the World Food Programme and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank with the flexibility to procure food commodities from all countries, especially from developing countries. By removing these restrictions, Canada is promoting the growth of local and regional markets in developing countries. This will contribute to longer term solutions to the problem of world hunger.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that removing the restrictions is just one way whereby the Government of Canada is demonstrating that we are serious about working efficiently and effectively, while taking into account the needs and the perspectives of the poor.

After working a great deal on this file with colleagues, and especially with my friend from Scarborough—Guildwood, I recognize our discussions were not always as pleasant as one would like, and could have even been extremely frustrating if we had not moved forward with this process. However, I thank my friend for his hard work on this file and congratulate the Minister of International Cooperation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of International Trade for their willingness to show leadership on this very important file.

Official Development Assistance Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I too want to join with the hon. members who spoke before me in congratulating the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood on his excellent work, perseverance and tenacity. He knows he can count on the Bloc Québécois to support the Senate amendments. This motion gives us an opportunity to debate them.

The Bloc Québécois has done serious and thorough work, as the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood mentioned in his presentation shortly before I took the floor. We are in favour of this bill that is still quite useful even though some of the amendments we proposed in the process were rejected. The important thing is that the substance of the bill is still very relevant and it is a firm step in the right direction.

The Senate amendments under consideration today are minor; they clarify certain provisions of the legislation. Let us look at them together.

For example, the Senate is proposing that the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness be respected. It is also proposing that “competent minister” means:

The Minister of International Cooperation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Finance or any other minister who is providing official development assistance.

The Senate also proposes that:

The competent minister shall consult with governments, international agencies and Canadian civil society organizations at least once every two years, and shall take their views and recommendations into consideration when forming an opinion.

The last Senate amendment reads:

Information shall not be reported under this section if its disclosure is prohibited by the policies of the Bretton Woods institutions.

In our eyes, these are truly minor amendments that, as I was saying earlier, clarify certain provisions of the legislation. We are intent on passing this bill and will therefore maintain our support for it.

I would like to remind those watching us on television of the content of this bill introduced by the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood.

This bill would ensure official development assistance with the very specific goal of reducing poverty. It would also require that CIDA, when providing assistance, be respectful of the target environments. This is a very important element.

In fact, once this proposed bill is put into action, the government will have to consult civil society organizations, governments and international agencies to ensure that our proposals actually respond to the major needs of the people we want to help.

This bill is very interesting because it guarantees transparency in the activities of the department responsible for international cooperation. It requires that at the end of each fiscal year the minister produce a report containing a summary of the development assistance projects, advisory committee reports and CIDA's performance report. The minister is also required to issue a statistical report on the disbursement of development assistance.

As I said earlier, we had some reservations, but we support the main objective and the fundamental purpose of the bill, which is to reduce world poverty through development assistance. However, we must condemn the current lack of resources provided to CIDA. We hope that once this bill has been passed, the government will truly keep its promises and increase funding for this important agency.

Specifically, this bill sets out criteria respecting resource allocation to international development agencies and enhances transparency in development assistance. It states that poverty reduction is the central focus of development assistance, and it takes into account the perspectives of the poor.

Assistance must also be consistent with international human rights standards. The bill also states that the minister shall consult with governments, agencies and civil society organizations. What is interesting and important to note is that, at the end of each fiscal year, the minister must provide a summary of the development assistance projects, present a comprehensive report on CIDA's performance, and present a statistical report on the disbursement of development assistance.

It is easy to see the connection with the UN's millennium development goals. As a reminder, the eight objectives are to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce female mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.

Bill C-293 covers two of these eight points, which we think is a step in the right direction.

One way or another, all of the millennium goals are related to poverty. We must not forget that poverty is often the result of social and economic inequality in a given country. As I said, this bill is a step in the right direction. It sets criteria for official development assistance and ensures that it targets poverty reduction. Because of that, we support the bill.

Moreover, as one of the richest countries in the world, Canada must do everything it can to help citizens of poor countries escape their poverty. Doing nothing would be both immoral and unacceptable.

In closing, I would like, once again, to congratulate the member for Scarborough—Guildwood on his work. I also appreciate his thanks to the opposition for having helped him achieve the goal of getting his bill passed so that it can come into force to reduce poverty and help other countries that really need help.

Official Development Assistance Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I very much welcome the opportunity to say a few words in support of what are the very final moments of something historic in terms of this Parliament adopting Bill C-293. I am almost inclined to say almost nothing and quit while I am ahead, because there has been a rare coming together here of a collaborative nature.

There have been a lot of disagreements and a lot of pushing and shoving. I want to be fair here and acknowledge the parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Macleod, who set out some very severe reservations about some of the aspects of this bill. I think he is the only parliamentary secretary who ever did actually extend the courtesy of sitting down with me in my office to discuss something. We had some major disagreements and there have been some compromises made.

However, at a time when a lot of the public looks on this place these days with a good deal of consternation and sees the dysfunctionality, the division and the dissension, it has to be a good day for us to come together around what is truly a global commitment, about which I think we feel good as parliamentarians and about which Canadians I think very much feel that we need to work together. It is not always easy to do. We have had to make compromises along the way.

I want to congratulate the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, because he picked up the torch and carried it in a very determined way. He, like I, was very grateful for the persistent and consistent support not just from Gerry Barr, an individual who has put his heart and soul into this, but really from the entire NGO community across this country, including campus-based organizations and faith-based organizations that really pushed to make this happen.

We have a lot more work to do, but we will get on with it buoyed by a sense of responsibility and cohesion around this. Let us not forget that it is not just about the effectiveness of aid, but also about increasing our commitment to the level of aid, or we are not going to get the job done.

With those very brief words, uncharacteristically, I want to take my seat and give the last word to the member for Scarborough—Guildwood.

Official Development Assistance Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

There being no one rising on debate, I am going to yield the floor to the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood for his right of reply. He knows, of course, that he has only five minutes.

Official Development Assistance Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

I will not use those five minutes, Mr. Speaker, other than to thank colleagues for their warm and generous remarks and to encourage those who are there to apply the law to apply it in an equally warm and generous fashion. We hope this bill makes a difference in people's lives.

If you seek it, Mr. Speaker, I think you would find that members are prepared to vote on this bill.

Official Development Assistance Accountability Act
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?