House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-24, the Canada-Peru free trade agreement implementation act. The bill seeks to implement the free trade agreement, the agreement on labour co-operation and the agreement on the environment entered into by Canada with the Republic of Peru on May 29, 2008.

The bill is extremely important to Canada's agriculture sector. While the agreement has potential for many of our farm products, it is critical to our wheat and durum industries, to our pulse and specialty crop industries, to beef and to pork and to potatoes. We know about the tremendous potatoes that come from the province of Prince Edward Island. I can see my colleague from Manitoba is jealous of the kind of potatoes we produce in Prince Edward Island, and I understand why.

Before I get into all the reasons why this is so important to farmers, there is a point I would like to raise on corporate social responsibility.

My colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood earlier raised the point. Peru is cited in the strategy of the Government of Canada on corporate social responsibility for the Canadian international extractive sector. Peru is also cited as a country where the Canadian International Development Agency has worked extensively with the government, mining companies and affected communities to develop and promote regulatory requirements for social and environmental management.

The Canada-Peru FTA also includes corporate social responsibility provisions encouraging the promotion of principles and of responsible business, and that is an important point to make. We feel very strongly about corporate social responsibility and we have some very grave concerns about the trade agreement with Colombia. However, on this side of the House, we believe Peru is doing much better.

On the human rights side, it is clear that some human rights issues remain in Peru. In its 2008 report, Amnesty International recognized that important steps had been taken to bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations during the years of armed conflict between 1980 and 2000. In terms of violent crime in Peru, the country's homicide rate now stands at 5.7 per hundred thousand, which is still too high, but it is among the lowest in South America. Those are some steps forward.

I know there will be some who will say that human rights are still a concern and we understand that. However, when the agreement is settled with Peru, I would encourage the Government of Canada to continue its emphasis in discussions about good human rights standards to ensure that CIDA does its part in Peru as well.

I believe we can do both. We can improve trade to the benefit of both countries, the citizens of Canada and the citizens of Peru. We can also improve human rights in the Republic of Peru for the benefit of Peru and certainly the globe.

I might mention as well that there are side agreements on labour co-operation and the environment, and that is important. I will agree with my NDP colleague, however, that it would better if they were encompassed in the agreement as a whole rather than being in side agreements, but it is a step forward. More and more we see the United States negotiating agreements that include the environment and labour as part of those agreements.

If environment and labour are not part of those agreements, we are allowing people and industries in other countries to abuse the environment. We give them a competitive advantage. We allow them to undermine labour standards and give their countries and those industries a labour, wage or benefit advantage. That is not what we want to see happen. We have to bring up the standard globally and that is what we must work toward.

There is certainly economic risk if we do not ratify this agreement, especially as it relates to the agriculture sector. Since 2005, Peru has concluded free trade agreements with the United States, Chile, Thailand, Singapore and the Mercosur region, which is Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The United States Congress has ratified the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement. In fact, that just entered into force on February 1 of this year.

If Canada fails to implement a Canada-Peru free trade agreement, Canadian businesses will be at an economic disadvantage compared to their foreign competitors. One stark example of this concern is the export of wheat. We produce wheat in abundance in our country. We have one of the greatest selling agencies in the world, the Canadian Wheat Board, which the government hates to admit.

The wheat exports of the United States have recently benefited from the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement, immediately receiving duty-free treatment. Without a free trade agreement, Canada's exports of wheat, which comprise 38% of Canada's total exports to Peru, will continue to face a 17% tariff. This would place Canadian wheat at a very substantial disadvantage. We cannot allow those negative consequences to happen by opposing this agreement.

Let me turn to why the agreement is so important for Canadian farmers. Perhaps the best way for me to do that is to turn to the presentations that farm leaders have presented to either government or parliamentary committees.

I will turn first to a letter by Larry Hill. He is the president of the Canadian Wheat Board. In his letter to the chair of the Standing Committee on International Trade, he said:

It's important that the legislation is passed in a timely manner so as to avoid western Canadian farmers being placed at a disadvantage into this important Latin American market.

Wheat and durum are Canada's number one export to Peru. Under the agreement, Canadian wheat, durum and barley will receive tariff-free access upon implementation. While there is currently no tariff, applied tariffs have historically averaged 15%. The tariff was temporarily removed during last year's high price period, but is likely to be reinstated now that prices are declining.

Mr. Hill went on to say:

Peru is a key, fast-growing Latin American market for western Canadian farmers. CWB exports to Peru average 410,000 tonnes of wheat and 18,400 tonnes of barley annually. In 2008, Canadian sales were worth $134 million Cdn for wheat and barley farmers.

In February 2009, the U.S. and Peru implemented a Trade Promotion Agreement, resulting in guaranteed tariff-free access for American wheat and barley into Peru. Without a similar agreement, Canadian wheat and barley will be placed at a real commercial disadvantage, likely resulting in lost sales. It is imperative that the Canadian agreement be implemented prior to Peru reinstating its tariffs.

In that letter, Mr. Hill mentions how important the market is and the amount of wheat that we export into that country.

I was in Ecuador a number of years ago and spoke with the president of Bonita Bananas. Ecuador is a big importer of Canadian hard red spring wheat mainly. He told me that Ecuador imported somewhere around $72 million of Canadian wheat on average each year.

The United States signed an agreement with Ecuador and to a great extent we have been displaced from that market. We cannot afford to lose that market. Our most important market, as we consistently tell the government, is the market that we have. We have to maintain that market.

There are concerns from some agricultural producers that Canada was unable to secure the same favourable conditions in tariff reductions as the United States, particularly in beef and pork products. Still, even Canadian beef and pork producers want us to ratify the Canada-Peru FTA as they believe that imperfect tariff reductions are better than no tariff reductions at all.

Even with these concerns, the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture spelled out the concerns and benefits. He did that best when he was before the Standing Committee on International Trade on May 7. I would like to quote a few of his remarks, because he sums it up certainly better than I could in my words. Laurent Pellerin, the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, said:

--I would like to say that this agreement should be implemented as quickly as possible. It is not a huge achievement with regard to the objectives of agricultural producers, but some improvements are worth implementing.

We are negotiating this agreement more or less at the same time as the United States, or a bit later. We believe, however, that we must negotiate parity with the United States in future negotiations or free trade agreements and contracts with countries like Peru. Unfortunately, in the case of Peru, Canada is far from achieving the same thing as the United States. We recognize that the Peruvian market is probably more significant for the United States than it is for Canada, but all the same, parity would have been a very desirable goal.

It is too bad that the American negotiators perhaps negotiated a little tougher than our negotiators. In any event, it is a step forward. He went on to say:

In the case of Peru, the United States will have shorter tariff elimination periods, and in some cases, tariff-free access, and in others higher quotas. Even if Canada negotiated something better than our current conditions, because the Americans negotiated tariff reductions and completely free access before us, the market or business will favour American products over ours. This is something we must bear in mind.

He went on to talk about the beef industry. Again I will quote his remarks because he is the representative of the industry and his words bear merit. He talked about how important the Peruvian market is for beef and pork, but that again, the Americans have a substantial advantage. He said:

A great deal of fresh, chilled and frozen beef offal is traded between Canada and Peru. In this sector, the tariffs will be eliminated simultaneously for both Canada and the United States, but it should be noted that the quota or volume exported by the United States is twice as large as Canada's. So once again, the agreement will favour the U.S. market.

In the long term, both Canada and the United States will achieve duty-free access for pork carcasses and cuts. However, in the short and medium term, the agreement is definitely more favourable for the Americans and could seriously affect the products from Canada because there again, the tariffs on U.S. pork will be eliminated by the beginning of the 5th year, whereas for Canada they will not be eliminated until the 17th year.

He went on to state:

Still in the pork sector, the quota for cuts in the offal category, including pig fat and bellies, will start at 325 tonnes per year and increase to 504 tonnes in year 10. Once again, these are not large quantities. However, the Canadian Pork Council has told us that this agreement must be supported, since a deal with slightly increasing quotas is better than no deal at all with a risk of retaliation. They agree with these measures.

In other words, the Canadian Pork Council agrees.

Mr. Pellerin went on to say, “Canada is extremely present on the potato market as well”, an area that I am certainly most familiar with. He said, “Duty-free access strongly favours the United States over Canada, particularly during the first nine years”. I must remind my friend from Manitoba again that when I am talking about potatoes, Prince Edward Island still remains the biggest potato producer. That small province remains the biggest potato producer in this country. This is very important to us in Prince Edward Island.

Mr. Pellerin went on to say:

Tariffs on fresh and chilled potatoes, other than seed, will be eliminated immediately for the United States. As for tariffs on Canadian potatoes, they are subject to a gradual reduction and will be eliminated as of year 10. There again, our small Peruvian market may be replaced by American products, which will be more competitive because they will have duty-free access.

My point is this. Yes, the agreement is important but even with this trade agreement that the Canadian government has negotiated with Peru and the implementation act that we are talking about in the House, the Americans, it is sad to say, still have advantages in that market. Yes, it is a step forward, but it is not as big a step as we would certainly like to see.

The last point raised by Mr. Pellerin concerned frozen potatoes. He said, “I don't need to name the large Canadian companies in this sector, because you already know them”. They would be McCain, Cavendish, et cetera. He said:

Canada is very active on this market as well, and Canadian potato farmers count on this market, especially the frozen french fry market. If the agreement is signed, tariffs on frozen potatoes from the United States will be eliminated immediately, whereas the tariffs on Canadian potatoes will be eliminated gradually, reaching zero in year 10 of the agreement. This market could potentially be attractive for Canada, but you will understand that over the next 10 years, the United States will have a major competitive advantage in the potato sector, and so this is not a major gain for Canada.

All that to say, yes, certainly the agreement is important. It is very important especially to the agricultural industry in Canada, wheat and durum, beef and pork, pulse and specialty crops and certainly potatoes. But even with the agreement the Canadian government has failed to negotiate the same advantages as the Americans have negotiated. That is a sad commentary.

The Canada-Peru free trade agreement is certainly supported by a lot of the agricultural industries, and I mentioned the Canadian Wheat Board, pulse growers, et cetera. It is also supported by quite a number of business groups, such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and resource organizations such as the Mining Association of Canada.

A reduction in Peru's tariffs could certainly contribute toward increasing the competitiveness of Canadian exports, whether they are industrial goods or agricultural goods.

Therefore, the Canada-Peru free trade agreement is a step forward. As I said in the beginning, in corporate social responsibility, the safeguards are there. The labour and human rights issues are improving. For those reasons the bill is an important bill and I welcome it in the House.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, in his intervention, the member for Malpeque talked about how important this agreement is for our agriculture industry.

The Minister of International Trade and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, with the support of their parliamentary secretaries, have put a lot of work into developing these trade agreements which are critically important to agriculture across Canada.

As chair of the Canadian section of the Interparliamentary Forum of the Americas, I follow quite closely how important the Americas are to the relationship with Canada, whether that is from a standpoint of commerce and trade, or on the other side, when I wear my other cap, from an environmental standpoint and social responsibility, and as more and more American states want to have a closer relationship, from a democratic standpoint, with Canada.

Recently I met with the Ambassador of Peru. We talked about the many values that we share and that are mutually respected in both our countries, such as democracy, the rule of law and the free market.

The member for Malpeque talked about all the organizations that have come out quite strongly in favour of this free trade agreement with Peru and want us in the House of Commons and the Senate to deal with it in a rather rapid fashion. Despite some of the concerns that the member has laid out, and I take those at face value, that our American competitors may still have some advantages, the member did say that this is a major step forward. It is a step that we need to take if we are to continue to level the playing field between Canada and our other international competitors. We have to have access to markets. We have to have a mechanism to reduce tariffs, especially if they are over quota in those particular marketplaces.

He mentioned that the Grain Growers of Canada favour this. The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance are on side. The real voice of the cattle industry, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and the Canadian Pork Council want to see this brought into place as quickly as possible. As well, the Canadian Wheat Board, which he mentioned, wants us to move forward.

In my province of Manitoba we grow a great deal of potatoes. It is one of the largest potato-producing provinces in Canada, and produces, in my opinion, the best potatoes in the country.

The pulse growers in Manitoba and across Canada need to have access to these Latin American markets. When we start talking about the sales of beans and peas and pulses, the Latin American market is the number one marketplace for those growers and we have to make sure that we have the opportunity to export.

I am glad the member mentioned the importance of agriculture. I am hoping that he will come back and say that the Liberals are in support of the agreement and that we will be moving forward on it as quickly as possible.

I would also like him to comment on why we were not seeing any of these agreements brought into play over the 13 years when he sat on the government side and functioned as a parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Selkirk—Interlake for his remarks. In fact, I agree with most of what he said, but certainly not all. If he is growing good potatoes in Manitoba, they must be from Prince Edward Island seed. We know that.

I cannot emphasize enough, as I said in my remarks and as the member for Selkirk—Interlake said in his, that it is critical that this agreement be implemented quickly. I personally see this agreement being quite substantially different from the Canada-Colombia agreement, mainly on the human rights side. There have been tremendous gains in human rights and corporate social responsibility in Peru that we do not see on the Colombia side of the agreement, and we ought to be very concerned about that in this House.

The member asked why these agreements were not signed when the Liberals were in government, the party that balanced the books, had 10 surpluses. In two short years the Conservative government has driven the country into the biggest deficit in Canadian history. That is the sad part of the Conservative government, that in two short years it has basically driven this country away from its tremendous potential with well balanced books and the moneys that were put into research and development for the Canadian people. Now, that has all been squandered away. What we see is the red ink into the future on account of Conservative mismanagement and incompetence in terms of the economy. I had to mention that.

However, in terms of the trade agreements themselves, all that is really happening here, finally, and it differs from how the Conservatives have taken our fiscal position that we left them in and drove it into the ground and put the country into debt into the future, is that they are building on the good work that the Liberal government has done on these trade agreements.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I like the hon. member, but I do question the Liberal's logic of rubber-stamping everything the Conservatives bring forward on trade.

We had the disastrous softwood lumber sellout that the Liberals helped push through Parliament. It cost tens of thousands of jobs, plus over $1 billion in fines that are coming. Canadian taxpayers are going to have to cover these fines because of the irresponsibility of the government. We had the shipbuilding sellout that the Liberals rubber-stamped, as well, even though hundreds of shipyard workers from Liberal-held ridings were writing to Parliament saying, “Don't pass this agreement”.

Now, we have this egregious agreement with murderous paramilitary thugs and drug lords in Colombia, and the Canada-Peru agreement that the hon. member admits even people are writing in saying it is an inferior agreement to what the U.S. signed with Peru.

This blanket rubber-stamping of everything the Conservative government brings forward on trade, I simply do not understand because it is in not in Canada's interest. Canadians are losing jobs because of these ill-favoured and irresponsible agreements.

Why do the Liberals rubber-stamp everything the Conservatives bring forward?

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I will answer the questions from the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley directly in a moment.

First, however, I must point out that the biggest rubber-stamp in Canada for why we have this man as Prime Minister and that party on the government side is the leader of the NDP. He is the man. At the time when we had early learning and child care, he ended up supporting the Conservatives when we were in opposition, so we lost that agreement on early learning and child care.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

An hon. member

You lost the election.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Of course we lost the election, we know that. But it was his party's support for agreements that were already in place that has given the Prime Minister the opportunity to drive this country into debt as he has and undermined the early learning and child care agreements.

Now to his question, the fact of the matter is we are a global trader, we are an exporting nation, and we have to move forward with trade agreements. This is a step in the right direction. It is especially important to the agriculture industry and we need to give the agriculture industry opportunities as well.

International Children's Festival
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, this past Tuesday saw the kick-off of the 28th annual St. Albert International Children's Festival. This festival will entertain over 50,000 children over its five day duration.

There are many different events featuring a host of international artists coming from Scotland, the Netherlands, U.S.A., Mexico, Cuba, New Zealand, and of course Canadian artists. These artists will amaze and delight children young and old with their performances.

I would also like to thank the Canadian Armed Forces for the construction of a temporary foot bridge to provide children with access to the stages on the opposite side of the Sturgeon River.

Many people in my constituency have worked extremely hard to pull this festival together. Not least of which I would like to thank the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage, and I also extend my thanks to the hon. Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for his assistance with the temporary foot bridge, as well as the tireless work done by St. Albert Mayor, His Worship Nolan Crouse and his staff, and of course the Canadian Armed Forces for the rapid construction.

I am confident that all who attend will have a wonderful experience at this annual St. Albert International Children's Festival.

Roots and Shoots
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, in 1991 Dr. Jane Goodall, the world famous primatologist and humanitarian, created the Roots and Shoots program for children. Today more than 100,000 children participate in it in over 50 countries. The program encourages children to get active and create projects that benefit their environment.

Last month we announced, with Dr. Goodall and National Chief Phil Fontaine, a partnership that will see Roots and Shoots programs in first nations communities. First nations from Beecher Bay and Sooke on Vancouver Island in my riding are the first to participate and further interest has been expressed by communities from Yukon to the Maritimes.

This initiative will get children engaged in their environment, link children up across cultural, geographic and linguistic divides, build their self-confidence, and reduce an array of social problems.

I would like to thank Dr. Goodall, National Chief Phil Fontaine, and especially Gina Cosentino from the AFN and Jane Lawton and Barbara Cartwright from the JGI for their ceaseless efforts to make this happen.

I invite communities across our country to look at the Roots and Shoots program and participate in this program for our children and for our environment.

Roger Miron
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to one of Quebec's country music legends, Roger Miron, who is celebrating his 80th birthday this week.

Mr. Miron developed a love for the guitar at a young age. He started his career in country western singing in 1950. Two years later, he started his own band, which he sang with across Quebec, Canada, the United States, and even France. 1956 marked the release of one of his most well-known songs, À qui l'p'tit coeur après neuf heures.

In celebration of the famous Troubadour Tyrolien, some thirty well-known artists are participating in a show at the Centre Léo-Chaussé in Saint-Sulpice. Fans from across Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario will be there to pay tribute to him. Not only is Mr. Miron a multi-talented performer, but he has also opened the door to country music for a number of musicians.

As member of Parliament for Repentigny, I would like to congratulate Mr. Miron on his career, and I salute his dedication to promoting country music in Quebec.

Infrastructure
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada reports a 159% increase in EI recipients in greater Victoria, the second highest among Canadian urban centres.

We need our share of the federal stimulus soon. Victoria is waiting for approval to replace our landmark Blue Bridge. Saanich is ready to upgrade the Rithets reservoir and the Portage Inlet sewer lift station.

But every day we wait makes it harder to meet the seemingly arbitrary deadline of March 2011 for project completion.

Municipalities cannot be left hanging if these badly needed projects are to go ahead in the prescribed timelines and create jobs. Our workers are ready to work.

These infrastructure projects are crucial not only because of the recession in the short-term but for the long-term viability of our cities.

Governor General's Caring Canadian Award
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Claudia Campbell from my hometown of Teulon, Manitoba, on being awarded the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award.

This award honours Canadians for volunteer work at the local level and the fine example they set with their compassion and love of community.

Claudia is a special volunteer. She is an organizer of the annual Teulon Fair, director of the Teulon and District Agricultural Society, and she has been a key organizer of the Rockwood Festival of the Arts since founding the event back in 1956.

On top of that she has been active in her church, playing piano and organ on Sundays for most of the past 60 years, and as a music teacher Mrs. Campbell has artistically influenced three generations.

My home town of Teulon has been graced with two previous winners of the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award. Last year, Bill Docking was honoured and previously, Claudia's husband, David Campbell, received the award.

Claudia Campbell is very deserving of this high level of recognition for her countless hours caring about our community, our youth and our local arts.

On behalf of the people of Selkirk—Interlake, I congratulate her.

Taxation
Statements By Members

May 29th, 2009 / 11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are off in dreamland again. They say the massive deficit is not at issue, but tell that to the millions of Canadians who know they will be left holding the bag for Conservative mismanagement.

Canadians are particularly incensed when they see the millions upon millions of dollars that the Conservative government is wasting on consultants, polling, advertising, and a bloated cabinet that it expanded after the recession had started.

But at least we now know how the Conservatives plan to pay for it. The Conservative leader revealed their plan is to raise taxes on Canadian families and businesses. This week, he announced in this House that he will not bring in a new budget “until we need to raise taxes”.

Canada was once a leader in the G8, but the Conservatives are trying to spend us into oblivion. Canadians do not need tax-and-spend Conservatives with their hands in the cookie jar.

In these times, only the Liberals will provide the steady leadership that will get Canada back on the right track.

The Economy
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, let me respond to that.

Canadians see evidence of good, sound fiscal management by this Conservative government during these tough economic times.

The International Monetary Fund said, with respect to the stimulus package, that it is timely, appropriately sized, diversified, and well structured. And it said that it protects the vulnerable. That is exactly the point.

Compare this to the Liberals: no plan, no focus, nothing to add that would help the economy. All the while they are dreaming and scheming on getting into office and back to the good old days of the tax-and-spend ways at the expense of ordinary hard-working Canadians.

The Liberal leader attacks the deficit while, at the same time, demanding billions of dollars in new spending; a totally hypocritical position. He says we need to reform EI by introducing a 45 day work year, costing billions.

How will he pay for this? The Liberal leader himself has tipped us off. He says he will have to raise taxes.

Either he will raise taxes or he will have to add a job-killing payroll tax.

The truth is out. Both are bad for our economy.

Sylvie Harvey
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 7, the seventh edition of Soirée Aequitas was held at the Hôtellerie Le Boulevard in Sherbrooke. The event was organized by a group called Promotion des Estriennes pour initier une nouvelle équité sociale (PEPINES) to highlight the contributions of women, men and organizations to equal representation of women in decision-making positions in the Eastern Townships. Pauline Marois, the first woman to lead the official opposition in Quebec, was the honorary chair of the event.

Sylvie Harvey, chief administrative officer of the RCM of Coaticook, was honoured for her contribution to the advancement of women in decision-making positions. Sylvie Harvey was the first female director of the local development centre in the RCM of Coaticook. She gained experience as the development commissioner before being appointed CAO of the RCM of Coaticook. Sylvie Harvey richly deserves this honour, and today I would like to take this opportunity to salute her pioneering spirit.