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

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we pursue free trade agreements, it is a two way negotiation process, a give and take. The fact that there are long tariff reductions, a made in Canada procurement policy, that supply management is protected and that for the first three years there is no tariff reduction, all these very much play into our national interests, and they were addressed in the free trade agreement.

I share the member's concern with respect to shipbuilding. The government has done very little to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with our domestic shipbuilding industry and to create a long term strategic initiative and partnership with the shipbuilding industry so it will be able to compete. Norway is a very good example because it did subsidize. There is no doubt that it no longer provides subsidies now but it did subsidized before, which allowed its shipbuilding industry to be in a competitive position.

The onus and responsibility now lies with the current government to put together a plan for not only structured financing but a more comprehensive plan that can position our industry, once the tariffs are reduced, especially when the tariff reduction starts in 2012, to be on an equal and competitive footing. Even though the subsidies no longer exist today in Norway, there is no doubt that the subsidies in the past have put it in a more favourable position. Therefore, I do very much recognize the member's concerns.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about the proposed free trade agreement with Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, the members of the European Free Trade Association. I am speaking on behalf of all the Bloc members and would like to acknowledge in particular the contributions of the members for Sherbrooke and Berthier—Maskinongé to the Standing Committee on International Trade, which has studied the proposed agreement and the free trade agreement.

The Bloc believes that this is a good free trade agreement that deserves to be supported. Moreover, we believe that Quebec will benefit a great deal from this agreement.

For example, the pharmaceutical industry in Quebec, like the industry in Switzerland, is very healthy. We can therefore expedite trade and perhaps pave the way for more and more transactions. To penetrate the American market, Swiss pharmaceutical companies might be tempted to produce drugs here, which presents an attractive opportunity for us.

We would remind this House that Quebec is the home of the brand name drug industry in Canada because of its pool of skilled researchers and its tax breaks. For Quebec this agreement will pave the way for new business opportunities.

The agreement facilitates trade between a company and its subsidiaries and is likely to mean new investments in the pharmaceutical industry in Quebec. That is good news.

Let us turn our attention now to Norway. Nickel accounts for over 80% of our exports to that country. The largest mine in Canada and the third largest in the world is owned by the Swiss company Xstrata and is located in Ungava. This agreement may also have benefits on that front.

Let us continue our tour of the countries with a stop in Iceland. Aluminum is our main export to Iceland. Aluminum production is also concentrated in Quebec.

Overall, this is an attractive agreement. I would also say it does not have the same drawbacks as previous agreements.

For example, NAFTA and the agreements with Costa Rica and Chile all contain what could be called bad clauses on investments that give companies the right to sue a government that adopts measures that would reduce their profits. This sort of provision is not found in the agreement with the EFTA. Consequently, the free trade agreement with Europe, at least this part of Europe, is worthwhile. There will be no sword of Damocles hanging over our heads, because this agreement does not contain any such clauses.

Furthermore, the agreement only covers goods and not services. It will not create competition with public services, whether they are offered by the state or not, since they will not be covered. Similarly, banks providing financial services will not be in competition with Switzerland, which is known to have a very solid and very discreet banking system, and Liechtenstein, which is a true haven for the financial world when it comes to taxation and anonymity. We are already having enough problems with Barbados without adding any more. It would be best if the agreement did not allow this type of exchange.

For government procurement it is the same thing. The government is still free to favour domestic procurement, subject to the WTO agreement on government contracts. It would be somewhat ridiculous for the government to negotiate room to manoeuvre and then decide not to use it. It is imperative that the federal government, which is the largest purchaser of goods and services in Canada, favour suppliers here and consider the potential spinoffs from its purchases.

We have another absolutely ridiculous example. Canadian athletes will be dressed in material that is made in China. There should have been a different solution. We could call this an obvious and quite unacceptable lack of pride. This is outside the limits of the agreement before us, but I wanted to mention it anyway. When we look at an agreement like this, we have to look at what it will allow us to do. This agreement does not allow for such an absurd possibility.

The whole issue of agriculture is a concern that a number of MPs have mentioned in this House. Supply management is not affected by this agreement. The Bloc Québécois motion passed here in 2005 has become the cornerstone of the Canadian government's position on protecting supply management. We are very proud of that and we hope things will continue this way.

We are just as proud of the fact that the supply management model is being developed throughout the southern countries. It may be part of the solution to the food crisis. The more countries that use this type of system, the less agriculture will be subjected to traditional trade patterns. Thus, it will be possible to provide better protection that will allow both communities and producers to be well served in terms of agricultural production.

This agreement ensures that supply management will not be affected. That is another reason that the Bloc Québécois likes this agreement.

This agreement will make it possible to implement bilateral agricultural agreements as add-ons to the free trade agreement. We will see how this will come together. Bilateral agreements will not necessarily have a huge impact on Quebec agriculture, because milk proteins are excluded from the agreement and the tariff quotas and over-quota tariffs remain unchanged. In short, supply managed products will be protected.

However, there is one sector where this agreement would be good, although the federal government will really have to go out of its way to make a sustained effort. I am talking about the issue of support for shipyards. A number of members in this House have brought this up this morning. As a member of the maritime caucus, I know that there have been questions. They have been handled in an acceptable fashion in the agreement, but that does not mean that the Canadian government will not have to have a more aggressive and constructive policy on shipyards. In fact, we have some concerns.

For example, imported vessels are currently subject to a 25% tariff. Under the agreement, these tariffs will gradually decrease over three years, and will be completely eliminated in 15 years. In the future, in 15 or 20 years, we do not want to see a whole industrial sector disappear, as was the case with the textile sector. We know that the government needs to take action now to ensure that once this all disappears, our industries in this sector will be competitive.

Our shipyards are currently less modern than Norwegian shipyards, for example. They are in worse condition. So some things will need to be renewed, since Norway has invested heavily in modernizing its shipyards, while ours have been completely abandoned by the government.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order, please. It is now time for statements by members. The hon. member will have 13 minutes left for his speech.

The member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar.

Centennial Festivities
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am inviting you to come to Saskatchewan and experience some of Canada's rich heritage by joining the towns of Asquith and Delisle in celebrating their centennial in July.

English settlers named their town after Lord Asquith who called it the centre of the British Empire and presented a silver cup that Lord Asquith School proudly uses to this day.

Delisle took its name from its first postmaster, John Amos Delisle. Twenty-six of his direct descendants will come back to celebrate 100 years. Delisle is also the hometown of NHL legends Max and Doug Bentley.

The CPR and the CNR made these early settlements flourish. Today, agriculture and potash mining are their economic mainstays. Asquith and Delisle are also commuter suburbs of Saskatoon, the Paris of the Prairies.

Visit Saskatchewan and enjoy the history, beauty and warm hometown hospitality during Asquith's and Delisle's centennial festivities.

Government Policies
Statements By Members

May 9th, 2008 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has really failed to live up to its promises.

Remember when health care was one of the five priorities of the government? No? That is all right, neither does the government.

Remember when the Prime Minister said the Conservative government would not monkey around with income trusts? It would be unfair to seniors, the Conservatives said. Well, they did not just monkey around with them, they ripped them apart like King Kong with a biplane.

There is one area where the government has overachieved, one area where the Conservatives are performing at a level beyond anything seen in Ottawa since the days of, well, Brian Mulroney. This is one more area where the government is going to surpass the achievements of Brian Mulroney. Mulroney was thrown out of office after two elections. The current government will get it done in one.

TQS Network
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Remstar would like to purchase TQS. As part of its demolition plan, the company announced its intention to dismiss 270 of its 479 full-time employees. In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, 36 out of 40 jobs will disappear between now and the fall.

Closing the newsroom is a breach of the commitments the TQS network made to the CRTC. The sale of TQS should not come at any cost, and certainly not at the cost of eliminating regional news services. In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean alone, TQS produces five programs that reflect our regional reality.

The Bloc Québécois is an ardent advocate of TQS services. Eliminating the newsroom would be a major blow to the diversity of information available to Quebeckers.

I hope that all political parties in the House will defend the interests of the Quebec nation before the CRTC.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has once again gone out of its way to embarrass itself on the international stage. This time it is the nuclear non-proliferation treaty preparatory committee meetings in Geneva.

While the rest of the world attempted to take a more constructive approach to the challenges of nuclear non-proliferation, the Canadian government delegation stood almost alone, hurling accusations at Iran and North Korea, ignoring the fact that supposed non-NPT states like India, Pakistan and Israel have acquired nuclear weapons as well.

This is tragic and it is dangerous. Canada is blessed with world-leading civil society experts who have helped form our nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation policies. Thanks to them, Canada has been known as a world leader in this area.

Disgracefully, for the first time at the nuclear non-proliferation treaty preparatory committee, the Canadian delegation did not include a single NGO participant.

These days when Canada speaks, the world shakes its head. The government is destroying our international reputation and undermining the global fight against nuclear proliferation.

Barbara Ann Scott
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I invite this House and all Canadians to celebrate the 80th birthday of Barbara Ann Scott, a Canadian figure skating icon.

From Ottawa's Minto Skating Club, where my daughter and her Capital Blades team also skated, Barbara Ann had a stunning career. She began winning national awards when she was 11 years old. She was the first woman to perform the double Lutz in competition.

In 1948, she competed on an outdoor rink during the winter games in Saint-Moritz, Switzerland, becoming the first Canadian to win a gold medal for figure skating. To this day, she is the only woman who has done that.

A hundred thousand people lined the streets of Ottawa to acclaim her.

She has been an inspiration for generations, including my daughter, Miriam.

Happy birthday, Barbara Ann Scott King.

Canada loves you.

Madawaska UCT Council 830
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, on April 12, I had the opportunity to participate in the Madawaska UCT Council 830's 50th anniversary celebration.

I would like to begin by telling the House about the dedication of UCT councils to their communities across Canada. There is no doubt that UCT councils' commitment and contributions to numerous communities promote both community and social development.

The Madawaska UCT Council 830 is no exception, and that is why I wanted to salute it here today. The Madawaska Council 830 is very active, and its contribution makes its community a better place in which to live.

I would like to thank the founding members who were honoured during this event: Paul E. LeBlanc, Armand Couturier, Yvon T. Cloutier, the late J. Germain Fournier, Robert T. Martin and Alphé Thibodeau.

Thank you and congratulations to all members of the UCT for their good work.

Burma
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is time for the Burmese dictatorship to stop playing politics when people's lives are at stake. We are alarmed by the reports that the military junta is seizing international aid shipments from the World Food Programme. This is unprecedented and must stop. This dictatorial regime's response to this disaster is just the most recent example of its failure to meet the basic needs of the Burmese people.

Canada stands ready to help. We have pledged $2 million in aid. We have offered our disaster assistance response team. The Minister of Foreign Affairs personally assured the UN Secretary-General that Canada is there for the Burmese people.

The military junta must let aid agencies do their work and allow international aid workers to enter the country during this period of crisis. Given the widespread and devastating effect of the tropical cyclone Nargis, Canada calls upon the military junta to focus on meeting the immediate needs of the people rather than pursuing its own narrow interests.

Cluster Bombs
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 19, 2008, the international community will gather in Dublin in order to adopt a declaration to ban cluster bombs.

Cluster bombs are known for being dangerous and they endanger the lives of civilians across the globe. According to Handicap International, 98% of victims are civilians.

While dozens of countries will attend this international meeting, this government is not even sending the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the conference. Instead, it is sending junior representatives who can only take notes and who will not even be able to offer real financial support.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has the opportunity to show his support for the security and protection of millions of civilians and set an example for China, Russia and the United States. He must take advantage of this opportunity.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is time to pass Bill C-50, this year's first budget implementation bill. Every day constituents are calling and writing asking when Parliament will approve this important legislation.

Constituents know that included in this bill are measures to implement the landmark tax-free savings account. While some politicians might think the best place for taxpayers' hard-earned money is in government coffers, this Conservative government believes that it is better to stay where it belongs, and that is in the hands of hard-working Canadians.

The tax-free savings account would allow Canadians to place $5,000 into a sheltered account and then watch their money grow tax free without the tax collector ever being able to put his hands on it again. Simply put, this is the best thing that has happened to the tax system since the RRSP.

Canadians want Parliament to act before summer. I am asking all members of Parliament to support the important measures in this bill. Let us make Parliament work and give Canadians the tax-free savings account before summer.

Zimbabwe
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, Cathy Buckle is a Canadian in Zimbabwe who is witnessing the atrocities in that country. Her words are very powerful. I would like to read an excerpt from a recent posting:

What a disgraceful insult these 2008 elections have become to the people of Zimbabwe who have suffered so much....

Every day the reports of horror continue to emerge. Youngsters in uniform going door to door in villages at night; men with guns; beatings, house burnings and torture....Listed amongst the people murdered is a five year old boy.... This little boy, too young to read or write and a complete innocent in this month of hell, burnt to death in a house set on fire during the rampage of political vengeance that is tearing our country apart.

As each day has passed since the elections, Zimbabwe has drawn quieter and quieter - silenced by fear. No one knows who to trust, who they can talk to or who might be listening....

The world has learned the lesson of staying silent when human rights are trampled. The people of Zimbabwe need Canada and the world to listen to their voices and to take action now.

Bloc Québécois
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the success of the Bloc can be measured by the brevity of its mandate in Parliament, as Lucien Bouchard so aptly put it, clearly, after 18 years, those members have really failed. Yet they have cost Canadian taxpayers $300 million. Their ineffectiveness is well known, since nearly half of the 116 members elected for that party have never introduced a single bill. Among such members are the members for Laurier—Sainte-Marie and Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour.

Since the Conservative government won the confidence of Canadians, the Bloc has introduced only 29 private members' bills. Not one of them has received royal assent. This negligence is a stark contrast to the results obtained by this government.

To be present means to be in a position to take real action, solve problems and deliver the goods. To be absent means being a Bloc Québécois member in Ottawa.

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. With the dedication of up to 97 million volunteers worldwide, Red Cross and Red Crescent have honoured their mandate to protect human life and health, ensure respect for human beings and prevent human suffering. The movement has provided its services to every corner of the world without discrimination.

The current crisis in Burma reminds us of the importance of this movement. Organizations like the International Red Cross and Red Crescent have already been able to provide aid to those affected by this devastating cyclone.

Yesterday we celebrated World Red Cross Red Crescent Day in the House with words; today we call for action. Canadians from coast to coast to coast want our government to finally meet its international commitment to dedicate the equivalent of .7% of our GDP to aid so that organizations like the Red Cross can contribute to do their important work.