House of Commons Hansard #66 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tobacco.

Topics

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, I understood that there is a value in engaging the people of Peru or any other country just by being at the table even with outside agreements. Furthermore, this agreement contemplates side agreements that would bolster the whole human rights, social justice, environment and labour rights issues that have been raised by my colleagues from the Bloc and the NDP

Could my colleague from the Liberal Party confirm my understanding?

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the member has it correct. Every relationship that we have with countries around the world provides opportunities on a number of fronts, whether they be economic, trade, labour, or the environment. Certainly international relations are extremely important.

To the extent that we become the critic of those who do not have the values or the standards that we have and whose laws are not the same as ours, all that can do is impair the relationship and make it even more difficult for us to be successful in terms of persuading, negotiating or dealing with a variety of subjects.

I would like to make one last point which I did not get a chance to make in my speech. It has to do with the whole question of side agreements as opposed to dealing with the matters in the main agreement.

I am not convinced right now, and I hope that some hon. members will rise and explain it to the House, why a side agreement is less binding and less effective than an agreement which combines all of the elements. NAFTA as an example has those side agreements. We are participants there.

If we have a model in which we deal with these various agreements and they are working in other jurisdictions, why would we argue that this would be less effective an agreement just because there are side agreements? I do not believe that is the case, but I am interested in some argument.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-24, an act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Peru, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Peru and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Peru.

Bill C-24 is the implementation legislation for the Canada-Peru free trade agreement, which consists of three parts: the main free trade agreement text, the labour side agreement and an environmental protection side agreement. It preceded and is nearly identical to the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement. Bill C-24 is also structurally identical to Bill C-23, the implementation legislation for the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

Canada is following the United States, which completed the free trade agreement with Peru under the Bush administration in December 2007, in spite of strong opposition from trade unions, civil society and Democrats who viewed the deal as an expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA. Free trade negotiations with Peru date back to 2002 when the Chrétien Liberals first held discussions with the Andean community. That group consists of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia. On June 7, 2007, then minister David Emerson announced the formal launch of free trade negotiations with Peru. The Conservative government signed the bilateral agreement in May 2008.

The NDP opposes the NAFTA-style treaties that put big business interests before workers and the environment at all costs. That has increased the inequality and decreased the quality of life for the majority of working families.

In the case of the Canada-Peru agreement, our concern is that a much larger and more developed economy will take advantage of a developing one and that large corporate interests will end up shaping the so-called free trade architecture to serve their needs and not the public interests of the two trading nations. The worst aspects of the free trade agreement are similar to those found in the Canada-Colombia agreement.

The Canada-Peru free trade agreement does not include tough labour standards. The labour provisions are in a side agreement outside of the main text and without any vigorous enforcement mechanism. That is the key to this.

Trade unions in Peru have expressed concern as Peruvian labour law is deficient in several areas. By addressing the environment in a side agreement, there is no effective enforcement mechanism to force Canada or Peru to respect environmental rights.

Canada, in the recent budget, took away some of the environmental protections under the Navigable Waters Protection Act that we previously had in this country. It is not just a one-way street. In this case, we are looking at the country of Peru and saying that it is not living up to standards and it is racing to the bottom, but we have examples on our side where it could be argued that we are doing the same thing in terms of racing to the bottom.

The Canada-Peru agreement on the environment commits both countries to pursue environmental co-operation and to improve environmental laws and policies, but it can only ask both parties to enforce their domestic laws. If they do not, there is no necessary consequence.

In terms of the investment chapter, it has been a major concern of the members of the Bloc who support the NDP in voting against this bill. The investment chapter has been copied from the North American Free Trade Agreement. We have had some experience over the years with how that works. As for chapter 11 investor rights, the Canada-Peru free trade agreement provides powerful rights to private companies to sue governments over their public policy, enforceable through investor state arbitration panels.

We have seen, through experience with the North American Free Trade Agreement, how this type of corporate rights regime undermines the legitimate role of government in protecting and improving the lives of its citizens and the environment. In some free trade agreements investors are essentially put on the same level as that of the state and this puts the state in a defensive position. Just yesterday, one of my colleagues mentioned some examples under the NAFTA where the government is being challenged by investors who are not happy with their treatment under the agreement.

While Parliament cannot modify the treaty itself, Bill C-24 is just enabling legislation and the final jurisdiction over treaties lies with cabinet. We would like the government to stop the bill and renegotiate the problematic parts but that, of course, is not likely to happen. That is our major concern with this legislation.

I would like to address a question asked by a member a few minutes ago.

The Americans are moving perhaps a year or two ahead of us in this area. They have passed their own free trade agreement with Peru. However, unlike the Canadian agreement, environmental and labour standards were included right in their bill. One could argue that the Americans had a better constructed bill than we have here.

Their experience so far has not been good because a race to the bottom is developing where Peru has issued decrees and has reduced its standards. Any analysis that I have read, particularly from the American point of view, shows that the agreement they signed is not working favourably for the poor people and the working people of Peru.

Surely we should learn something from the American experience. They have two years on us. They have a better agreement but it is not being enforced properly in terms of pulling both countries up. What it is doing is pulling them down, specifically Peru.

Before we go much further with this, we should direct our negotiators to at least move our agreement up to the higher standard of the American agreement and maybe get some improvements on the American agreement that would benefit the working people in Peru.

We have a number of good examples that we have accessed from people who have looked at how the U.S. free trade agreement with Peru has been working. We can take the example of teamster president, Jimmy Hoffa Jr., who has made several observations about the U.S.-Peru agreement. He has said that nothing will change for the 33,000 slave labourers cutting down the Amazonian rain forest. He has said that subsistent farmers will be forced off their land because cheap U.S. food produced by agri-business will undercut their prices. The same thing happened with the North American Free Trade Agreement which has resulted in millions of poor Mexicans leaving their farms.

How anyone in this Parliament could see it is as progress and an improvement to the country and to the world to take a group of people, who have been working on their farms for hundreds of years, and force them off their land and force them to buy subsidized imported food and get away from growing their own food, is beyond me

The previous speaker from the Liberal Party was essentially condoning the race to the bottom approach. He said that we could not question any country's practices because we will scare it off and it will not want to trade with us. I have news for him. People all over the world want to trade.

When a few protestors from my own province of Manitoba go to environmental commission hearings in Minnesota to complain about our hydro development up north, when it really is not a serious problem in my opinion, our government takes that very seriously. Why? It is because we want to keep selling power to the United States. A few protesters can have a big influence on our government policy in Manitoba. One or two people showing up at environmental commission hearings--

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. member may continue his comments during questions and comments. The hon. Minister of Justice.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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11:05 a.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, a constituent of mine just recently asked me a question about another one of these trade debates. He asked whether it was the position of the NDP to oppose all trade agreements. I said that was pretty well the evidence on all these things. It has a long record in an era when sometimes people say that political parties or individuals may not be consistent. This is certainly a consistency of the New Democratic Party.

I remember the NDP's ferocious objections to the North American Free Trade Agreement. It has been very consistent. We will never hear NDP members stand and say that they were wrong and that trade between Canada, the United States and Mexico has grown exponentially over the last 20 years. In fact, they probably still complain about that free trade agreement.

It can pretty well be summed up that the NDP is prepared to help other countries but it always needs to be a hand out, never a hand up. Anything that might promote trade, help people to become prosperous, to get them working and to expand trade is something the NDP is always opposed to.

We know the NDP were against the Auto Pact, which was very important. Could the hon. member tell me if there is any trade agreement that has ever been concluded that they would support?

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, those are very silly comments from the member.

I spent a few minutes in my speech suggesting to the member that the United States signed probably a better agreement with Peru two years ago and that we should look at that experience to see how it has developed. In the case of the United States, it was smart enough to include labour and environmental standards as part of the agreement, not as side agreements, which is why we assume it has a better agreement.

I think it is incumbent upon the government to pay some attention. It is not too late to get its trade negotiators out there to try to at least elevate our agreement up to the level and as good as what the United States has had for the last two years. I was pointing out to the member that we have evidence that even that higher standard is not working. The Peruvian administration is racing to the bottom, changing the laws and forcing farmers off their land.

The member, obviously, was not listening to my comments on that. Yes, we do support trade and we support fair trade agreements. The Bloc members have been telling that member for the last few days the very same thing. We support fair trade. What is so complicated about that concept?

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague's speech speaks well about why we have been asking for fair trade and not a free trade agreement.

I want to touch base on some of the comments by our other colleagues, and specifically the Minister of Justice, with regard to how free trade has actually worked. If free trade has worked so great in the U.S., why do we have thousands of people coming to Parliament Hill today to talk about forestry and the lack of attention that was given to that part of the agreement?

As well, a Liberal member talked about the greenhouse gas emissions. Under that party, we saw greenhouse gas emissions rise much higher.

Does my colleague think, as the Liberal member seems to think, that we should turn a blind eye to human rights when it comes to these free trade agreements?

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the reality is that there are many ways to negotiate agreements and we want fair trade agreements. We want to take into account as many of the possibilities and eventualities that can happen, and whether that involves labour, environment or human rights issues, they should all be put into agreements because people want to trade. To get a sound trade agreement, people will agree to have decent standards if we require those in an agreement.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in this debate to Bill C-24, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Peru, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Peru and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Peru.

Part of the context of our debate today is the fact that this morning and this afternoon thousands of members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, CEP, my old union, will be gathering here on the Hill for a national day of protest to say that forestry workers fight back for jobs, pensions and families. I was a proud member of CEP Local 232.

One of the reasons this protest has been organized is because of the failure of free trade agreements between Canada and the United States and the failure of the softwood lumber agreement between Canada and the United States to protect the jobs of Canadian workers. That is one reason why thousands of people will be here in Ottawa today to protest the failure of Canada to protect Canadian jobs and Canadian workers through these types of trade agreements. That shows why it is so crucially important that we pay attention to these agreements as we sign them and as we develop them. I am glad that we have this opportunity to debate the Canada-Peru agreement here in the House today.

As my colleague from Elmwood—Transcona said, New Democrats support trade agreements but we would support fair trade agreements. We want to ensure they meet the social, environmental and labour goals of our country and that they support our democratic vision for our country and for countries around the world. We want to ensure that any agreement we enter into supports those standards.

I do not think that makes us Boy Scouts, as the member for Mississauga South indicated. I do not think the Boy Scouts would appreciate the way he slagged their intent to be honourable citizens. It does not make us Boy Scouts or naive to want to uphold those kinds of standards in these agreements. One might ask the member for Mississauga South if he is prepared to sell his soul for a mess of potage, which may be the other end of the coin when it comes to these kinds of agreements. This is a very appropriate time to give due diligence to these agreements and ensure they do what they say they will do.

We are very concerned and we always raise the context of labour rights, of environmental protections and the investor chapters of these agreements. This Canada-Peru trade deal is no different in those regards. We believe these agreements do put the interests of big business before workers and the environment and that is one reason why we do not support the agreement. We have not learned anything from the problems with NAFTA's chapter 11 on investor rights. We continue to be concerned that this would give corporate interests the ability to override the democratically elected representatives of the people of the country when it comes to corporate relations and some training relationships. These provisions have been maintained in this Canada-Peru agreement and it is one of our key concerns with that deal.

The other contextual setting that I want to give is with what happened with the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement, how that was implemented and its effects since it was signed in December 2007. It is important to understand what happened with that deal and to look at some of the differences between what the United States negotiated with Peru and what Canada has negotiated with Peru.

Some of this information comes from an article written by Mary Tharin, a research associate with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. She has pointed out a number of problems since the negotiation of the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement. She claims, and backs it up with evidence, unlike other members of the House who seem to have opinions but no evidence, that the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement has been used by President Garcia of Peru as an excuse to dismantle environmental and labour standards that did exist, such as they were, in Peru, and that it has also led to further economic deterioration in Peru. Ms. Tharin says that this should be taken into consideration before other free trade agreements are signed by the United States. I think that is instructive for Canada before we enter into this agreement with Peru.

She also notes that corruption is a serious issue with the Garcia government and that there is a long and continuing history of scandals in that government, especially scandals of corporate interests and the involvement of the government and leading officials with bribery and whatnot. That context is an important one for us to struggle with as well. Do we enter into agreements that cannot guarantee the force and supremacy of law and get bound up in these terrible scandals related to the development issues of their country?

The article goes on to talk about how President Garcia has been implementing and changing the legislative framework of Peru to accommodate the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement. He has been doing it by the use of legislative decrees. In fact, in the first six months after the agreement was signed, he enacted a total of 102 legislative decrees designed to harmonize national laws with the conditions laid down in the free trade agreement between Peru and the United States.

It is interesting to note that the Peruvian Constitutional Commission has recently declared about 40% of those decrees to be unconstitutional, which again brings into question the Garcia government's commitment to the constitution, law and background framework of this agreement. There has been considerable comment in Peru, via the Peruvian press as well as politicians and activists, that the government has used these decrees to the detriment of labour, the environment, the agricultural industry and indigenous rights there.

One of the most controversial of the legislative decrees was decree 1015, which was passed in May 2008. That decree was designed to facilitate the privatization and stripping away of communal lands held by indigenous and subsistence farming communities. Any of us who know anything about Peru know that communal land is essential to the Peruvian understanding and the traditional way of life in Peru.

Previously, the law in Peru required a two-thirds majority in congress to authorize any land sales from these communally held lands. However, decree 1015 lowered this requirement to a simple majority in a clear attempt to encourage those kinds of sales and subsequent exploitation of the land by foreign and domestic entrepreneurs. That is one of the key changes that came about, despite the agreement between the United States and Peru.

Another legislative decree, 1064, eliminates the ability of landowners to negotiate with oil and mining companies over the use of their land. Before that decree, companies had to reach an agreement with property owners in order to buy or rent their land for commercial use. Only if negotiations failed could companies turn to the government, specifically the ministry of mines and energy, to force owners to sell their land. Decree 1064 cuts out landowners completely, leaving the entire negotiation process in the hands of government.

Certainly, by our standards, this would be a significant backward step in how landowners and traditional communal landowners in Peru deal with the negotiations with oil and mining companies. In the context where Canadians are increasingly aware of the activities of Canadian corporations overseas and requiring stronger measures around corporate social responsibility, I do not think the lowering of this standard in Peru says good things about our ability to enter into an appropriate agreement between Canada and Peru for trade.

Another decree, 1090, is known as the forest and wildlife law. It allows President Garcia to remove barriers that protected the country's national forest. It redefines national forest patrimony and lists protections against logging and other forms of exploitation. There is considerable comment in Peru, and among opposition critics as well, that talks about how this decree reduces transparency and eliminates input from civil society.

This also all happens in a context where the environmental standards negotiated by the United States are stronger in its agreement than they are in the agreement that Canada has negotiated with Peru. That is another key reason why we should be very concerned about this agreement. It is why I and my New Democratic colleagues will not be supporting the legislation and the agreement between Canada and Peru.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and acknowledge my colleague, the member for Burnaby—Douglas, from beautiful British Columbia.

As a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade, the Canada-Peru trade agreement was something we spent a great deal of effort and time on to ensure the agreement would not only help the folks of Peru but Canadian businesses as well.

As alluded to by the hon. member, the softwood lumber agreement is something that the Forest Products Association of Canada, FPAC, stood firmly behind. If we did not have that agreement in place, the situation would be even more dire than it is today.

We are facing a global economic crisis. A few weeks ago I had a chance to travel to Finland to look at the forest industry there. It is hurting as well, so we are working together. We need to help Canadian businesses expand markets.

I am proud of previous Minister Emerson and our present Minister of International Trade, who is broadening opportunities in Latin America.

On this agreement, the hon. member talked about human rights and labour agreements, which is something that is very near and dear to me. He does not have a monopoly on this compassion and caring factor. Our government is concerned about that and that is why we have entered into some of the most strongest and stringent labour and environmental side agreements.

How is this agreement different than the agreement of the United States, given that we have instituted these tough regulations?

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I am glad the member raised the whole discussion of labour rights in Peru because I did not get a chance to address that in my speech. This will give me the opportunity to note that the Garcia government has also continued its legislative decrees in a number of areas related to labour rights, which have been very controversial.

Peru has a very small organized labour community. Public servants are one area where the existing labour rights have been jeopardized since the signing of the agreement between the United States and Peru. Despite the arrangements it made to support labour rights in its agreement, things like punitive evaluations of current employees have been introduced into the labour standards for the unionized public service in Peru. This has been done outside of the collective bargaining process. It has eliminated not only the ability of Peruvian public servants to collective bargain, but it has also eliminated respect for the collective bargaining process.

Most Peruvians participate in what is called the informal labour market and this is a very significant issue for the majority of Peruvians. Even though there have been increases decreed by the Government of Peru, these have been unenforceable because there are no significant labour laws to do that kind of work.

It shows the kind of context where we try use some kind of lip service, and that is all we can consider it, because these agreements do not seem to have any enforceable measures to improve the adherence to the existing labour law in countries or see any improvements to those labour laws that protect the rights of workers in these countries.

The United States was unable to do that through its agreement. I do not have much faith that Canada's agreement will be able to do that for the labour standards that we are seeking to uphold and improve between Canada and Peru.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the member has eloquently described how the American free trade agreement with Peru is superior and stronger than the current Canadian agreement that has been signed. Even in spite of that, the leadership in Peru has continued with a race to the bottom in environmental and labour areas. The government should pay attention to that and move quickly to try to renegotiate this agreement and stop this race to the bottom.

Would the member comment further on that?

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, it goes back to the whole question that the member for Elmwood—Transcona raised about the need for fair trade agreements. That has become a slogan for the NDP. It is a standard we try to live up to in our review of these kinds of agreements. There has to be respect for the people of the country with which we deal, and we do not see that in many of these agreements. That is are our stand on this.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I believe this will be the last time I speak to this implementation bill. Practically, I owe this to the member for Kelowna—Lake Country, who of course has moved the previous question. Otherwise, I would not have been able to continue speaking on this bill.

It really is a huge undertaking to try to educate and teach some members of this House, be they Conservatives or Liberals. It has been said and we will keep saying it: in teaching, you have to repeat the message. I have a few minutes to repeat this message again.

All of them, Conservatives and Liberals alike, seem to be saying that we in the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party are not in favour of our businesspeople and businesses being able to export and bring profits home to Quebec and Canada. The opposite is true, of course. In Quebec, we are great traders, and we certainly want to be able to pay for the social policies we adopt. Ordinarily we support these agreements. We always hope they will be multilateral, but in this case we are talking about a bilateral agreement between Peru and Canada.

Generally, the Bloc Québécois agrees with what is good for Quebec, but in this case, as in the other cases, no impact study has been done in connection with this free trade agreement, whether in terms of jobs in Canada, in Quebec or in Peru, in terms of workers’ rights or in terms of the environment.

Sometimes we wonder how the negotiators do their jobs if they have no impact study or, if they tell us they do not have one available, they surely have some minimal impact study so they can determine what the repercussions might be in the two countries.

I have always taken the position that when I engage in a business transaction with someone, I do not want to take advantage of that person, I want both parties to come out ahead in an economic transaction. That is also what I would like to see for all of the agreements signed by this House and implemented by legislation.

Yesterday, in debate on the implementation bill, a Conservative member made comments in which he repeated that two democratically elected parties held talks and decided to sign this agreement. But democracy is the power of the people. How were the people able to be heard and consulted, to speak out against the weaknesses in the agreement on various points, whether it be in relation to the investment agreement, the environment agreement, the labour cooperation agreement or the laws governing the accountability of our mining companies?

As well, the fundamental point for which the Bloc constantly fights is to bring us, instead, agreements that are under the umbrella of multilateralism. When I talked about democracy, agreements like these truly can result in a loss of sovereignty for some countries. This is particularly the case for the investment agreement. Certainly we have to protect someone who invests abroad against misconduct the other country or the other party might engage in. But when we say that a company abroad can have more rights than the people, that is a loss of sovereignty and a loss of democracy for the country in question.

This government also has a virtually knee-jerk reaction, particularly in an economic crisis like the one we are experiencing.

Its initial reflex reaction is to turn to less regulated markets, as in the case of the agreement with Colombia or the one with Peru. Things were not very complicated, on the other hand, in the case of the free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association. The Bloc quickly supported it. We know that these agreements can be beneficial, but the parties have to be equals and the country we are negotiating with has to be able to ensure human rights.

During my first speech on this bill, yesterday, I referred to the remarks of some of the witnesses who appeared before us in committee, but I did not have a chance to finish. I want to go over three of them.

First, Ms. Theresa McClenaghan told us that investor access to states was very problematic. We should not have this kind of thing in free trade agreements. She referred as well to sovereign rights—those of the other country, of course, but also the sovereign rights here in Canada and Quebec of local governments and the central government. We have a good example of this now with NAFTA and 2,4-D. That is a pesticide we do not want used on our lawns for aesthetic purposes. Well, the company is suing the Government of Quebec.

When a government can no longer legislate for health reasons or out of the precautionary principle, there is a major loss of sovereignty. This agreement on investment is faulty, just like the one with Peru.

She pointed, as an example, to the agreement between the United States and Australia, which gives no direct investor-state remedy. She said it could be a model of social and environmental protection. Ms. McClenaghan was representing the Canadian Environmental Law Association. Although she was speaking on behalf of an environmental organization, she spoke mostly about the problem posed by the agreement on investment. She said that we should just send the government back to do its homework because it had done an incomplete job. This agreement is hardly ideal from the point of view of protecting people everywhere in the countries involved.

We also heard Mr. Rowlinson, a lawyer representing the steelworkers' union. He said labour rights were the main problem in the agreement. It mentions labour rights, of course, but talks only about basic rights and principles without really getting down to the fact that these rights need to be fostered so that the other party also benefits from the agreement. What it says about labour rights is very simply based on what currently exists. The same is true of environmental rights. They too are based on what currently exists in that country.

Automatically, we think that the mining or oil or gas companies set up there because there are collateral benefits. They have the advantage of a much weaker labour rights base. So it costs them less. The same may be said for environmental rights, and so it costs less to operate mines in these countries.

This gentleman wanted these rights included in the main agreement and not in the side agreements or parallel agreements, which, by their very nature, never meet. They are totally separate and based always on the minimum.

There was also Mr. Cameron, a lawyer who came as an individual and who told us that Peru, like Mexico, was divided into two social classes—the one benefiting directly from these agreements and the bulk of the population, benefiting much less.

I would like to come back to this important principle, as one member has introduced a bill and another a motion to make the mining, gas and oil companies operate more responsibly. If they are aware of the importance of all that, they will understand that they must reject this government's measure and not vote in favour of this implementation act. They must have it set aside so the government can redo its homework. In the meantime, they will be able to get their motion and bill passed, and we will support them in this regard, but not with regard to the free trade agreement with Peru.

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague from Sherbrooke is also a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade. We have had the opportunity to travel together. I appreciate his comments, but obviously we have separate positions on this specific trade agreement,

I would like to ask the hon. member about a couple of sections that we talked about within the agreement. We had the reference to the strongest labour and environmental side agreements that the Canadian governments have signed in any trade agreements. In speaking to constituents, I was talking with one not too long ago who has been in business for many years in Peru.

Looking at the health, safety and environmental measures, which are part of article 809 of chapter eight, investment, it states:

The Parties recognize that it is inappropriate to encourage investment by relaxing domestic health, safety or environmental measures.

Article 810, corporate social responsibility, states:

Each Party should encourage enterprises operating within its territory or subject to its jurisdiction to voluntarily incorporate internationally recognized standards of corporate social responsibility in their internal policies...

We had the opportunity to visit Colombia. I know that businesses in Peru have corporate social responsibilities. Canadian companies are raising the bar.

How will leaving the status quo help increase quality of life and give opportunities to the people of Peru?