House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Iran
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition signed by a large number of my constituents and others who are concerned about the atrocious deterioration of human rights in Iran.

Innocent men and women, whose only crime is peaceful protest or religious beliefs, have been killed on the streets or sentenced to death. Innocent men and women, including journalists and academics, have been arrested on vague allegations and some tortured in prisons.

Canadians have loved ones and friends suffering in Iran. My constituents want our government to apply pressure on Iran to respect human rights. Justice demands this. They want Canada to offer more emergency support to refugees from Iran. Humanity demands this. They want Canada to support UN efforts to investigate human rights abuses in Iran. Hope demands this.

The time to act is now.

Violence Against Women
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am honoured to present a petition that supports my private member's bill, Bill C-380.

Those who engage in the propagation of violence based on race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation can be charged under the hate crimes provision of the Criminal Code. However, those who would post hateful and menacing messages against women on blogs and websites or glorify the mass murderer responsible for the École Polytechnique massacre, cannot be charged under Canadian hate laws.

If a religious or ethnic group had been the victims of École Polytechnique, the glorification of this mass killing would be criminal. Because the target group were females, it is not.

Therefore, the petitioners support Bill C-380, as it addresses this situation by adding sex, the legal term for gender, to the list of identifiable groups.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Bill C-442—Admissibility of Amendment made in Committee
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

October 22nd, 2010 / 12:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on October 20, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence raised a point of order regarding three amendments made in committee to Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument.

I undertook, at that time, to respond to the member's comments in detail as soon as possible.

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities adopted a number of amendments to Bill C-442 and the bill was reported to the House on June 9. The amendments adopted by the committee do not change the principle of the bill, which is found in the bill's summary. Rather the amendments elaborate on measures in the bill and therefore are not outside the scope of the bill.

The Speaker indicated, on February 26, 2007, when addressing the question of scope relating to a private member's bill, that the summary of a bill provides a basis for determining if an amendment has gone beyond the scope of a bill.

The summary of Bill C-442 states:

This enactment requires the Minister responsible for the National Capital Act to establish and work in cooperation with a National Holocaust Monument Development Council to design and build a National Holocaust [Memorial] to be located in the National Capital Region.

The summary applies equally to the bill as introduced and the bill as reported by the committee.

Let me explain how the amendments noted by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence are within the scope of Bill C-442 as introduced.

Clause 2 in Bill C-442 includes a series of definitions, including the definition of a national Holocaust memorial council, which would be established by the responsible minister under section 4 of the bill. The amendment to clause 2 clarifies that the council established by the minister may be directed by the minister to “form a legal entity in order to properly manage the functions and ensure good governance and accountability of said council”.

The amendment does not alter the definition of a national Holocaust memorial council but merely provides clarity to the definition.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice states, on page 769, “The interpretation clause of a bill is not the place to propose a substantive amendment to a bill”.

The amendment to the definition of council is not a substantive amendment, but merely provides specificity and clarity to how the minister should establish the council, an authority the minister is given in clause 4 of the bill.

Given that the bill as introduced obliged the council to take on a number of responsibilities, including the oversight of the planning and design of the monument, the selection of public land for the monument and the adoption of bylaws to carry out the council's functions, it is important for the legal status of the council to be clarified. As the amendment notes, this is designed to ensure accountability to Canadians.

I would note that the member for Eglinton—Lawrence did not suggest that this amendment was outside the scope of the bill. As I have explained, the amendment simply clarifies an existing purpose for clause 2.

The second amendment noted by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence relates to clause 7.

In Bill C-442 as introduced, clause 7 stated:

(1) The Minister shall be responsible for allocating the public land for the Monument and for maintenance of the Monument.

(2) The Council shall spearhead a fundraising campaign to cover the cost of constructing the Monument.

The amendment to clause 7, adopted by the committee, clarifies the source of funds to be used to plan, design, install and maintain the monument. The amendment merely reflects the fact that in order for construction to be undertaken, other steps, like planning and design, must occur and they must also be paid for. Indeed, planning, designing and installing are all implicit parts of the construction of the monument.

I note that the member for Eglinton—Lawrence proposed in committee that clause 7 was amended by changing the minister's responsibility from maintenance to a responsibility for construction and maintenance. That amendment was not ruled out of order.

The amendment that was finally adopted by the committee is similar to the member's amendment in that the council's responsibilities are clarified with respect to the fundraising campaign for the monument.

The member's amendment to clause 7 has a parallel to the amendment adopted by the committee.

I submit that the member, in committee, found his amendment to be within the scope of clause 7, and the committee's amendment parallels that of the member and is also within the scope of clause 7.

The third amendment to Bill C-442 refers to clause 8. The amendment to clause 8 allows the minister to delegate to the council his or her responsibilities for the functions outlined in paragraphs 6(a) and (c) and subsection 7(1). This amendment does not introduce a new concept to the bill; rather, it elaborates on concepts already present in Bill C-442.

As the member for Eglinton—Lawrence has noted, concerns about the admissibility of the amendments were noted during consideration of Bill C-442 by the committee. However, the committee agreed after reflection that the amendments were important to clarify the provisions already present in the bill. This motion is consistent with the scope of the bill because even with this inclusion in the bill, the minister would remain accountable for the establishment of the monument. Further, this motion reflects the provision that the minister fulfills his responsibilities by working in co-operation with the council.

The second issue raised with respect to clause 8 is that the chair ruled that the amendment was moved at the wrong place in the bill. Clauses 6 and 7 outline the minister's responsibilities for the establishment of the monument. Clause 8 provides for the delegation of some of these powers. It stands to reason that the bill would first need to set out the minister's powers before dealing with the delegation of these same powers.

I would also draw to the attention of the House that the member for Eglinton—Lawrence proposed three amendments designed to clarify this bill's clauses himself. I submit that these three amendments are within the scope of the bill as introduced. The amendments do not add any new concepts to the bill, but simply clarify and elaborate on the provisions already in the bill and are consistent with the previous Speaker's rulings on the admissibility of amendments.

Bill C-442—Admissibility of Amendment made in Committee
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have reviewed the submission made by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence on October 20 and have listened carefully to the parliamentary secretary's argument. In my view, the matter before you now, Mr. Speaker, is very serious and substantive in terms of establishing a precedent which may not be in the best interests of the House.

In my view, by allowing these amendments to stand, the bill as amended and submitted to the House on June 10 for report stage would establish a principle whereby a private member's bill before a committee theoretically could be hijacked and rewritten in a fashion changing the intent of the bill to something totally different. If that was the intent it would have had substantive other changes and support in debate, in committee and in the House, that this was not to be a publicly funded project but rather a project which would be administered by the government but paid for by fundraising in the community at large. Those are two separate concepts.

The concept of public financing through fundraising was never raised at second reading debate. It was never raised in presentations to the committee. In fact, Mr. Speaker, if you would check the timeline, the amendments proposed by the government came at the eleventh hour, late in the evening. They were imposed on the committee and the committee chair was overruled on three of them.

This is fairly serious. This is a matter where the former House leader would give his speech about the tyranny of the minority or the majority, however one wants to look at it.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to review the rules of practice and procedure, because I believe that if the government wanted this to be publicly funded, it could do so very easily. All it would have to do is defeat the private member's bill, table its own bill, and deal with it, rather than trying to somehow take an instrument which was never constructed for the purpose for which the government has made its arguments.

If I may, I would like to give my support to some of the key arguments.

Mr. Speaker, on May 11, 2010, you ruled that the Speaker does not get involved in committee issues except in cases where a committee has exceeded its authority, such as an amendment that is beyond the scope of the bill. In such cases the Speaker is responsible for ruling on the admissibility of such amendments after the bill has been reported to the House. This is because the motion to refer the bill to committee after second reading establishes the principle and scope of the bill. As a result, the committee report that is not consistent with that motion must be corrected.

Here we are. The bill has been reported and amendments have been made to it.

Mr. Speaker, you are aware from the presentation by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence that the ruling of the chair of the committee was overruled by the government members.

With regard to the member's argument, he is seeking your ruling, Mr. Speaker, that the committee has exceeded its authority in passing these amendments. O'Brien and Bosc at page 765 with regard to admissibility reads:

Amendments and subamendments that are moved by Members in committee must comply with certain rules of admissibility. It is incumbent upon the Chair to decide upon the admissibility of amendments once they have been moved; the Chair does not rule on hypothetical motions. He or she relies on the procedural rules that have been established as precedents over the years and upon the authorities on parliamentary procedure and practice.

Now we have a contrasting situation. Chairs' rulings in committees can be appealed. The chair can be challenged, and that is exactly what happened. In the House that is not the case.

With regard to the amendment to clause 7, it seeks to establish a fundraising campaign to cover the cost. I mentioned earlier that this is different from the intent of the bill because it involves the National Capital Commission. The member has asserted that Bill C-442 is merely calling on the government to do what it easily could do administratively.

The point is, the National Capital Commission already possesses the authority to establish a monument without parliamentary approval. Indeed, the National Capital Commission currently is responsible for 16 monuments, including the Hungarian monument, the Canadian tribute to human rights, and the monument to Canadian aid workers. Construction is currently under way for the national naval monument. In addition, the National Capital Commission is in the planning phase for the creation of a national monument for the victims of communism. None of these monuments required legislation to move forward.

That precedent, that process and structure whereby a decision is taken to have a monument through the auspices of the National Capital Commission does not require public funding. It is funded by the taxpayers' purse, through taxes, through government money. That is the model on which Bill C-442 was done. It was never done to say that we have to set up a structure that is going to have to raise the money to do it.

This is an important monument for Canadians. It is not one that somehow we are going to put the burden on those taxpayers who want it to come up with the money themselves and somehow do the job that the National Capital Commission was engaged to do.

I could go through all of O'Brien and Bosc on the terms of admissibility. I could talk about principle and scope, which I think the member for Eglinton—Lawrence has done quite clearly. Those remarks have been put on the record and I will not repeat them. I am not trying to just add words.

The parliamentary secretary got up and summarily dismissed the arguments that have been made simply because of the summary of the bill, and he read it into the record. I would like to read it into the record as well. A little summary appears on all bills. The summary for this bill states:

This enactment requires the minister responsible for the National Capital Act to establish and work in cooperation with a Holocaust Monument Development Council to design and build a Holocaust Monument to be located in the National Capital Region.

This is a project for the National Capital Commission. Every one of the projects that I referred to with regard to those other monuments had a work group established to make it happen. There is a lot of planning. There are a lot of things that have to happen. The fact that there is reference to a Holocaust monument development council does not in itself suggest that there has to be fundraising. In fact, before these amendments were made, there was nothing like that in the bill.

Mr. Speaker, if you are going to rule on the admissibility of these amendments, first of all, I submit that they are beyond the scope and intent of the bill. The evidence is in debate both at committee and in the House at second reading that there was never any discussion, any suggestion that fundraising would be involved. It was always understood. In fact, what the House of Commons voted unanimously for at second reading was to send to committee a bill to engage the government to have the National Capital Commission do the Holocaust memorial on behalf of all Canadians.

I submit that this is a clear case where the amendments proposed by the government, ruled inadmissible by the Chair but overruled by the government, is simply an attempt to take this instrument, the private member's bill asking for this monument, and turn it into a project to be run by and fundraised by the public as a separate project without government money.

That cannot possibly be interpreted as the intent of the bill. It was never mentioned. It was never voted on by this place to send it to committee for that purpose. It was for the National Capital Commission as a project, as other monuments. I am totally disgusted that the parliamentary secretary would rise and summarily dismiss fundamental principles of practice and procedure when in fact the government is trying to change the bill.

This is so important, Mr. Speaker, that you must rule this to be inadmissible, order the committee to review the bill again without those amendments and then let the government defeat it or pass it in committee. When it comes back to the House, the government can defeat it at report stage or at third reading and it can be responsible for why there is not a Holocaust memorial.

The issue is that this is a different bill and members would vote differently depending on whether or not these amendments were there.

Therefore, I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the government's arguments are contrary to our practices and procedure and I ask you for a favourable ruling on the point of order raised by the member for Eglinton—Lawrence.

Bill C-442—Admissibility of Amendment made in Committee
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader and the hon. member for Mississauga South for their submissions on this matter.

I will take them under advisement and return to the House shortly with a decision in this important matter.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-46, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Panama and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Panama.

To begin, I would like to say that the Bloc Québécois does not support this bill, mostly for the same reasons that it is against so many bills concerning the implementation of bilateral free trade agreements between Canada and certain countries. In this particular case, there is the additional issue of Panama being a tax haven, one that is on France's blacklist and the OECD's grey list. The latter lists countries that have committed to exchanging tax information but that have not substantially implemented the rules.

We know that some countries are tax havens. The OECD has come up with four criteria to determine if a country is a tax haven. Countries wanting to do business or trade with countries that are tax havens must ensure that those countries do not meet these four criteria.

There are tax havens with tax rates so low as to be non-existent, with no transparency when it comes to their laws, specifically their tax laws, and with legal or administrative barriers to sharing information. They attract investments simply for tax reasons, not for any economic activity per se. One of those countries is Panama.

The Bloc Québécois wants Canada to ensure that it can do business transparently, that it can get all available information on, for instance, Canadian or Panamanian businesses that want to do business here, so we can see where the money goes, who is paying taxes and how much.

We are calling on the Conservative government to sign a tax information exchange agreement with Panama. At present, we have no guarantee that any tax information exchange agreements with Panama have been signed or that such agreements provide a tax exemption for subsidiaries located in jurisdictions with which we have agreements. What does that mean? It means that Canada signs many bilateral free trade agreements, and Canadian subsidiaries that operate on islands or in countries with which we have such agreements should, theoretically, bring profits earned there back to Canada in order to pay taxes.

Canada does not force them do so. In fact, in 2007, the Conservative government expanded the definition of designated countries in the Income Tax Regulations in order to accommodate a country with which Canada concluded a tax information exchange agreement. Thus, income earned by a business operated by a foreign subsidiary in a country that has concluded a tax information exchange agreement is tax-exempt.

In 2007, the Conservative government made changes that distorted information exchange agreements. These agreements not only allow information exchanges, but also allow subsidiaries located in the targeted jurisdictions to be tax-exempt. That is why the Bloc Québécois is calling on Canada to implement a real tax treaty to improve the transparency of Panama's financial institutions and effectively fight tax evasion before agreeing to ratify a free trade agreement. Since Panama is a tax haven, we believe it will be easy for companies and individuals to set up there or to invest money there. There will be no transparency, and we will not know how much money these people make, how much they should pay in taxes and whether these taxes will be sent back to Canada. That is one of the reasons we do not accept this free trade agreement.

There is another reason behind our position. The Bloc Québécois is open to trade, but not at just any cost. It is open to trade if human rights are respected. Panama has a right-wing government that adopted legislation considered anti-union on June 30, 2010. That legislation includes a labour code reform that is perceived to be repressive since it would criminalize workers who demonstrate to defend their rights. In August, the Panamanian government agreed to review the legislation. We still have cause for concern about whether Panama's government really intends to comply with International Labour Organization conventions. I think it is important to postpone signing the free trade agreement and ensure that the Panamanian government changes its attitude toward unions and workers in its country.

The Bloc Québécois is open to trade, but its focus is fair globalization. We believe that in order for trade to be mutually beneficial, it must first be fair. A trading system that results in exploitation in poor countries and dumping in rich countries is not viable. The Bloc Québécois will never tolerate a system of free trade that would result in a race to the bottom. The absence of environmental or labour standards in trade agreements puts a great deal of pressure on our industries, especially our traditional industries. It is very difficult for them to compete with products made with no regard for basic social rights.

The Bloc Québécois believes that child labour, forced labour and the denial of workers' fundamental rights are a form of unfair competition, just like, or even more than, export subsidies and dumping. Prohibition of these practices is widely accepted at the international level, as reflected by the large number of countries that have signed the International Labour Organization's eight fundamental conventions. We must have the means to protect ourselves against such practices.

Trade agreements and trade laws do not protect our businesses and our workers from this social dumping. If a country wants to benefit from free trade, in return, it has to accept a certain number of basic rules, with regard to social rights in particular. Environmental organizations and human rights groups have been concerned about this issue for a long time. More recently, though, it has become a major economic issue. Quebec has proportionally more industries threatened by competition from Asia than the rest of Canada. Quebec is at the forefront of this debate.

That is why the Bloc Québécois is urging the federal government to revise its positions in trade negotiations in order to ensure that trade agreements include clauses ensuring compliance with international labour standards as well as respect for human rights and the environment.

Is my time already up, Mr. Speaker?

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Unfortunately, your time is up.

The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that France got results and recently signed a double taxation avoidance agreement with Panama. That is because, this past February, France became proactive and levied a 50% tax on dividends, service fees, royalties and interest paid by French companies to a beneficiary in any of the blacklisted countries. Of course, one of the 18 countries was Panama.

Clearly the proof exists that if proactive action is taken, such as France took and imposed penalties against the 350,000 companies that are operating in Panama, there will be results. Panama came to the table very quickly, and the Prime Minister should now be diverting his plane when he leaves Switzerland after meeting with the Swiss president and heading straight to Panama to make sure we get a similar agreement.

As a matter of fact, Panama has signed an agreement with eight countries just in the last few months. Guess what? Not one of them is Canada. Panama has signed agreements with Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Qatar, and Spain, all in the last six months. Yet Canada is a country that is doing a free trade deal with Panama and it is not part of those eight.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member is right. I find it unfortunate that the government is willing to encourage trade at any cost, without any thought to what could happen, the results, the consequences.

This government has always been reluctant when it comes time to force an issue. It is as though they are scared to lose out by pushing human rights issues, fair trade and the creation of benchmarks and standards.

If I were a member of this government, I would be ashamed to not be able to put my foot down more. I would be ashamed to only be able to back the business side of things without being able to focus on getting a fair and equitable bill or agreement.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been a lot of bilateral trade agreements signed off by Canada recently and I think there is concern by many that as we continue to go down the path of a bilateral approach, it is at the cost of looking at multilateral approaches.

I do not want the member's comments about this specific trade agreement but about this method or approach to trade. Is she concerned at all about this approach to having bilateral agreements? One could argue that it distracts us from what I think most people would agree is the way to go, which is multilateral agreements, so that there can be fair trade rules for everyone, not just compounded bilateral trade agreements, which can make it difficult for everyone.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is quite troubling. Canada has signed more than 20 bilateral agreements. By signing bilateral agreements, the Canadian government is ignoring certain global laws concerning protective measures for workers or unions, human rights, the environment, etc.

It is all very well and good to say that these types of bilateral agreements contain laws to protect the environment and workers, but it is just hearsay. Nothing sticks to realities, to global agreements, and we should be worried. Not only is this wrong, it is not in keeping with Canada and the image it usually projects.