House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was justice.

Topics

Question No. 33
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

With regard to the HMCS Chicoutimi crew personnel who were on board during the October 2004 HMCS Chicoutimi fire: (a) what post-trauma services were offered to the personnel and following which timeline the services were offered; (b) what is the total number of hours of sick-leave taken post accident by month up to and including today's date; (c) how many individuals have applied for disability pensions or long-term disability directly related to this accident; and (d) how many were approved for disability pensions or long-term disability directly related to this accident to date?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 34
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

With regard to the anthrax vaccine administered to Canadian Forces (CF) serving in the Gulf War: (a) did the government complete independent testing on the safety of the vaccine; (b) did the government complete a study on the health of CF personnel who receive the vaccine; and (c) has the government continued to monitor or undertaken any follow up studies on the health of CF personnel who received the vaccine?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 37
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

With regard to the federal emergency preparedness funding to the provinces and territories over the last five years for firefighting equipment: (a) how much funding has the government contributed to those specific projects which involved the purchase of firefighting equipment through the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP); (b) what is the specific breakdown of the government's emergency preparedness contributions, by province and territory; and (c) other than the JEPP program, what other funding has been made available to the provinces, territories and municipalities to specifically support the purchase of firefighting equipment?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Guimond Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again here today to speak to BIll C-2, which should lead to the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the states of the European Free Trade Association. The Standing Committee on International Trade has already studied it at length. We have heard from a number of witnesses and we are ready to debate it here today at this stage.

The Bloc Québécois has already indicated that it is generally in favour of this agreement. We in the Bloc think that it is a good agreement, especially for the Quebec economy, because there are attractive economic opportunities for us in the countries that are signing it. I will not spend any more time on why we support this agreement, since this has already been explained in previous speeches by some of my colleagues and myself, during the debate at second reading.

In my last speech I also spoke about shipbuilding and its place in this agreement, and I will take advantage of this opportunity to clarify my position on this matter. First of all, I must say that I am aware of the concerns the representatives of the shipbuilding industry in Quebec have about the implementation of this agreement.

The future of our shipyards is a matter of vital importance to Quebec, particularly its eastern part, where a sizeable portion of the economy depends on the economic spinoffs from the shipyards. I feel it is absolutely vital for Quebec's shipbuilding industry to remain healthy and able to develop in the years to come. For that to happen, the government needs to finally accept its responsibilities and invest in this field.

It must be understood that the difficulties being experienced by the shipyards and the marine industry in general did not just crop up today, and the blame must not be laid on the adoption of an agreement whose impact will not be felt here for many years to come. On the other hand, we must not miss our opportunity to make a major change of direction in our marine policy. We can state that there is no real marine policy in Canada at this time, and that could cause real trouble in future years if action is not taken now.

There is no denying that there will be more competition. We have concerns about competition from countries like Norway, where the marine sector has been heavily subsidized for many years. That said, we must start immediately to implement measures to help this industry become more modern and more competitive. We know that the major problem, the real problem, is that for years the shipbuilding sector has suffered, and still does, from a flagrant lack of government support. It is time the needs of Quebec and Canadian shipyards were paid attention to.

According to the agreement in question, there will be a tariff phase-out on the most sensitive shipbuilding products, for up to 15 years in certain cases. After that period of adjustment, no tariff protection will be allowed, and ships from EFTA countries including Norway will appear on the Canadian and Quebec market and compete on an level playing field with our own. This would not pose a problem if we were not so far behind.

According to the witnesses we heard in committee, if our borders were opened to our competitors tomorrow morning, our shipyards would simply not survive. That would be a very bad thing, because our shipyards are essential on a number of levels—economic, strategic and environmental.

One question comes to mind today: what will our shipbuilding industry look like in 15 years?

We are convinced that if the government finally assumes its responsibilities, as I was saying earlier, and decides to recognize that establishing a true marine policy is of the utmost importance, this industry will surely progress and be in an excellent position with respect to its future competitors.

Obviously, we do not believe that the government will take any action at all without pressure from those concerned. Therefore, in the hope of obtaining some movement by the government on this issue the Bloc Québécois presented the following important recommendation to the Standing Committee on International Trade before the free-trade agreement takes effect:

...the Canadian government must without delay implement an aggressive Maritime policy to support the industry, while ensuring that any such strategy is in conformity with Canada's commitments at the WTO.

That was the only recommendation made in the report. The Conservatives never see any problems with their policies, the Liberals, as usual, failed to propose any recommendations, and the NDP, in its predictable opposition to free trade, opposed the agreement altogether. The Bloc Québécois recommendation, which finally received the committee's support and was included in its report, meets the expectations of many shipbuilders in Canada and Quebec. Even though they have no hope of seeing their sector excluded from the agreement, they do expect the government to act quickly and forcefully.

We see in the report that, according to representatives of shipbuilders and marine workers:

...without combined access to the structured financing facility and accelerated capital cost allowances, the impact of the agreement would be devastating to the industry and would lead to job losses. In their view, this additional government support was critical if the Canadian industry was to survive increased competition from Norwegian producers.

Some will say that Norway has announced that it has stopped subsidizing its shipbuilders and that that will enable Canada to compete on a level playing field with that country. But what are we doing to make up for all the years when there were no subsidies here, while Norway was achieving the high level of competitiveness it enjoys today, thanks to generous government support? Quite simply, there needs to be a dramatic shift in the federal approach to the marine industry, which means abandoning the laissez-faire policy the Liberals and Conservatives have followed to date.

I am happy that we are holding this debate on the trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association, because it reveals how fragile our marine industry is in the face of foreign competition and forces us to take a stand on these issues quickly. It is not the agreement that is bad, but our policy. That is why a change of direction is imperative. In 5 or 10 years, it will be too late. We must act now. With a few targeted measures, our shipyards can become modern, productive, financially healthy and extremely competitive. The biggest problem to date has been the lack of political will to change things, and it is high time that changed too.

Of all the aspects of this free trade agreement, this one has concerned me the most. The other aspects of the agreement, including agriculture, seem to be well handled and in line with Quebec's interests.

I would just like to add, as some of my colleagues have already pointed out, that this free trade agreement may open the door to a future agreement with the European Union. We must seize the opportunity when it arises and, more importantly, be ready to compete.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Workers in Quebec have said very clearly that the Bloc should support the NDP amendment. Workers in Lévis and at the Lauzon shipyards have very clearly said that they want the Bloc Québécois members to support the NDP amendment.

Perhaps they can be forgiven for the softwood lumber agreement, the softwood sellout that has cost Quebeckers so much. Even Guy Chevrette had said we should sign the agreement. At present, no one in Quebec, no one in the entire shipbuilding sector, is asking the Bloc members to vote in favour of this agreement. Quite the opposite, and the consensus is very clear. The Quebec industry wants the Bloc members to support the NDP amendment.

It seems that the orders are coming from the Conservatives. I find this disappointing. I know the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques fully understands what is at stake, but the Leader of the Bloc Québécois—

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I must interrupt the hon. member in order to give the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques the opportunity to respond.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Guimond Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, as my Bloc Québécois colleagues and I have said repeatedly during the debates on Bill C-2, we think this free trade agreement is an excellent agreement. We have all been very clear. However, we must make sure it is accompanied by a real, vigorous policy in order to ensure that Quebec and Canada can be very competitive in the coming years, to be able to compete with countries like Norway.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Resuming debate. Is the House ready for the question?