House of Commons Hansard #19 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address Bill C-8, which is the exact replica of Bill C-57, that was introduced before the prorogation imposed by the Conservative government.

This bill includes the act to implement the free trade agreement between Canada and Jordan, the agreement on the environment and the agreement on labour cooperation. These are three very important elements. Generally speaking, agreements on the environment and on labour laws are side agreements. As is implied by the term, side documents are separate agreements. So, there is not a lot of interface between the free trade agreement and the agreements on the environment and on labour.

Jordan is a small country landlocked in the Middle East. It is surrounded by Syria to the north, by Irak to the northeast, by Saudi Arabia to the east and south, and by Israel and the West Bank to the west. It covers an area slightly larger than that of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island together, and it has a population of about 5.1 million people.

Jordan has one of the smallest economies in the Middle East. In terms of purchasing power parity, Jordan's gross domestic product in 2008 was $31.7 billion in U.S. dollars, which compares to that of the Honduras, Nepal and Turkmenistan. One wonders why Canada is committed to negotiating free trade agreements with such small countries.

Jordan ranks 14th among Canada's top trading partners in the Middle East, with a share of 0.7% of the regional trade. We do business with Jordan to the tune of about $9.2 million. Canadian exports to Jordan total $76.8 million, while imports from that country amount to $15.4 million. If we use this 0.7% in relation to Canada's GDP, we get the figure of 0.00575%, which is very small.

Canada's main exports to Jordan are paper and paper products, which total $17.5 million and represent 22.8% of all exports. Exports of copper and copper products and root vegetables and tubers total $8.3 million and account for 10.8% of exports.

Exports have risen slightly since 2003. Canadian products represent 76.8% of exports to Jordan, and 61.5% of those products are easily identifiable. I am sorry, but I do not have any information about the remaining exports.

Canadian imports from Jordan include clothing. Clothing imports total $6.9 million and account for 45.1% of all imports from Jordan.

This shows very clearly the importance of the Jordanian market to Canada. We can easily see that this is not really a free trade agreement focused on trade or business; it is mainly a political agreement. The Bush administration signed an agreement with Jordan, so naturally the Conservatives want to follow suit and sign a free trade agreement with Jordan.

The Bloc Québécois has been saying for a long time that bilateral agreements are not necessarily the best way of doing business with other countries. Basically, every country's goal is to sign agreements with other countries. If we trade with 200 other countries, then eventually we will end up with 200 different agreements that will be better for some countries than others, depending on what one country is hoping to gain from another. This creates inequalities and often, unfortunately, causes a downward spiral when it comes to things like social conditions, labour conditions—including wages—and the environment, all of which the Bloc Québécois considers extremely important. These are all factors that make people willing to commit to a job in order to earn an honest living, which they do not do everywhere, because trade liberalization is important. People need other countries to supply them with the resources they do not have at home, but there are ways of going about getting those resources. We should not be trying to sign free trade agreements just for the sake of signing them, even if they are not very significant.

Jordan essentially represents a very small market and a very low export volume.

We get the impression that the main purpose of concluding this agreement is to send a message to other Middle Eastern countries wanting to develop better economic relations with the West. Jordan is in the process of modernizing its government and its economy, and is relying heavily on international trade to support its economic growth, since it has few natural resources. Promoting trade with this country could therefore send a very clear message to other countries.

From a commercial point of view, Jordan's agricultural sector is poorly developed and does not present a threat to Quebec farmers. On the contrary, given its limited forest resources, it represents a new opportunity for the Quebec pulp and paper industry, which is already Quebec's number one export industry to Jordan. However, although the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-8, we have a problem with the Conservative government's strategy of focusing on bilateral agreements instead of taking a multilateral approach, as advocated by the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc Québécois believes that a multilateral approach is more effective for the development of more equitable trade that protects the interests of all nations.

I am also quite concerned about one other aspect. Despite the fact that natural ground and surface waters, in their liquid, gas or solid form, are excluded from the agreement by the enabling statute, the Bloc Québécois noted that this exclusion is not written into the text of the agreement itself. That is why we would like to ensure that Quebec's major water resources are clearly excluded from the agreement, so that control over their development remains in the hands of Quebeckers.

As the House will recall, a few years ago I moved a motion in the House specifically to ensure that NAFTA include an exemption that would ban the bulk export of water from Canada and Quebec to other countries, and that we not be forced into such exports.

Often in free trade agreements, when goods become an object of trade, the countries we deal with can force us to export goods that we would prefer to exclude from such agreements.

As I said earlier, Jordan increasingly wants to modernize. It changed direction when Abdallah II acceded to the throne in 1999. Under his reign, Jordan implemented economic policies that were responsible for a major increase in economic growth over the ensuing decade, which has continued since 2009. Jordan now has one of the freest, most competitive economies in the Middle East, surpassing the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.

I would like to provide a few economic statistics. In 2008, Jordan’s GDP was $31.01 billion. Per capita GDP was about $5,000. In 2008, the growth rate was 8.31%, the inflation rate 15.5%, and the unemployment rate 13.5%.

As I mentioned earlier, Jordan is relatively poor in natural resources, with the exception of potassium and phosphate. On the other hand, its population is young and very well educated. Jordan is counting heavily on international trade to ensure its development. Of all the Arab countries, it has signed the most free trade agreements. Among the co-signatories to these agreements are the United States, the European Union, Singapore, Tunisia, Algeria, Malaysia, Libya and Syria. Further agreements with Iraq, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon and Pakistan are in the works. Jordan has therefore been pretty active when it comes to signing free trade agreements. Its economy is very dependent on several kinds of imports and, even though it has limited resources, it can export a number of products.

Jordan has special economic zones that attract foreign investment. These zones generally involve lower taxes and tariffs than in the rest of the country in order to encourage exports. One of these special zones, Aqaba or Akaba, opened in 2001 and offers a flat 5% tax rate on most business activities as well as no tariffs on imported goods and no property taxes for companies. Despite the high unemployment rate in Jordan, companies located in this zone can hire foreigners for up to 70% of their workforces. Finally, foreign companies can repatriate 100% of their profits.

The main impediments in the Jordanian economy are the weak water delivery systems and dependence on foreign markets for energy and oil. Total trade in goods between Canada and Jordan is about $92 million.

The Bloc’s position is well known. When we study a bill, we always study it from the standpoint of Quebec. We represent Quebec and its interests. The agreement is aimed primarily at Canadian exports of agricultural products to Jordan. This was mentioned at the press conference held on November 17 by the agriculture minister at the time.

Limited water reserves and an arid climate prevent Jordan from developing significant agriculture. The agricultural sector there has been in decline for a number of years and represented just 2.4% of the GDP in 2004. Although Jordan represents a small market globally, a significant portion of total Canadian exports to Jordan comes from Quebec.

According to the Institut de la statistique du Québec, 44.8% of total Canadian exports to Jordan came from Quebec in 2008. This proportion was 33.8% in 2007. The volume of this trade is nonetheless very small, considering that the total value of Quebec's exports to Jordan was a mere $35 million in 2008, despite significant growth that began in 2007, going from approximately $18 million to just under $35 million in 2006 and 2008.

Quebec's exports are predominantly copper products, followed very closely by pulp and paper. These two sectors represent roughly $25 million of the $35 million in total exports from Quebec to Jordan.

Jordanian imports to Quebec have been quite modest, representing less than $3 million a year, before seeing growth starting in 2005 and peaking in 2007, with a total of just under $8 million. They have been in decline since then, falling back below $6 million in 2008. Quebec's trade balance is therefore positive, with exports of roughly $35 million in 2008 versus exports of $6 million. These imports are predominantly textiles and clothing, for a value of a little over $4 million, followed by exotic fruit and nut imports to a much lesser degree.

Under these conditions, we might ask, given the relative importance of Canada compared to Quebec, why a free trade agreement should be concluded with Jordan. Even though we prefer a multilateral approach, the fact remains that Quebec nonetheless has a positive trade balance with Jordan. However, I repeat and I will continue repeating: we want Canada to adopt a multilateral approach.

Given the relative importance of a free trade agreement with Jordan, this agreement is even more proof that Canada has abandoned the multilateral approach.

Overall, the multilateral system has been extremely effective in dealing with the problems countries may face in their relations and negotiations regarding labour, the exploitation of workers or the environment.

The agreement we are looking at now does not include an investment agreement, but we know that Canada signed a foreign investment protection agreement separate from the free trade agreement. Such situations are rare.

We would like the government to keep making improvements to its bilateral agreements. But most of all, we would like the government to return to a multilateral approach as quickly as possible, to prevent all kinds of injustices, inequities and inequalities from creeping into bilateral agreements.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that multilateral agreements would be a much better approach. He indicated there was $92 million in trade in 2008, I believe. This morning one of the government speakers indicated that trade had dropped off substantially last year and we are not sure why that is, whether it is just the economy, but it dropped from $92 million down to around $80 million. I wonder whether the member has any ideas as to why that would have happened.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I assume that the figures the member just gave me are the 2009 and 2008 figures. I remind the NDP member that he should always double-check figures that come from the government. I have here two different reports from 2008, which I got from a government website, and which do not have the same figures. The figures may not be correct, but it seems clear that the economic uncertainty in 2009 could have led to a decrease in trade between Canada and Jordan, in one way or another.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to the bill and follow the hon. member from the Bloc.

As the members know, the bill was introduced last year as Bill C-57, but after Parliament prorogued it was reintroduced on March 24 as Bill C-8.

For people who are watching today, I will give a little information about the bill. This is an act to implement the free trade agreement between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the agreement on the environment between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the agreement on labour cooperation between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The volume of the speeches in terms of intensity has dropped a lot compared to the speeches a few days ago on Bill C-2, the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

Clearly from our perspective in the NDP caucus, we certainly do not see the situation in Jordan being anywhere near as dire and bad as what we see with regard to the situation in Colombia.

Having said that, we see some concerns we can address as far as Jordan is concerned. We have reports from the U.S. Department of State dealing with the 2009 reports on human rights practices, which I will get into during my speech, and also a report by a lawyer from Jordan indicating problems with honour killings in Jordan and what is going on there to stop that from happening in Jordan.

Certainly there is room for improvement, once again, but it is not as dire a situation as we are dealing with in Colombia.

The critic for the NDP, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, indicated this morning that we will be looking at this and are prepared to have the bill move to committee and deal with these issue at committee, because that is obviously where we are going to have to resolve some of these issues as to what the true situation is in Jordan as far as human rights are concerned and how we might better be able to amend or reconstruct the bill to deal with the situation in Jordan as we find it now.

I note that the volume of trade with Jordan is not large. In fact it dropped in 2009 from what it was in 2008. To get a flavour for what type of trade we are dealing with, I simply consulted the speech by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade in which he indicated that many Canadian companies have a solid presence in the Jordanian market. Interestingly enough, a company that I have been familiar with for many years, the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, for instance is one of Jordan's top foreign investors. I did not know that.

It is joined by companies like RIM, Research In Motion, the manufacturer of the BlackBerry that we are all tied to; Bombardier; SNC-Lavalin; Four Seasons Hotel; and Second Cup coffee shops. Many others are active in Jordan.

The member who spoke before me dealt with the components of the trade between the countries. They are diverse. It is everything from forestry to agriculture, from food to machinery, as well as communications technologies and apparel.

Canada's expertise in nuclear power is another sector of interest to the Jordanians, especially as they are embarking on a nuclear energy program for their country. The member did talk about over $90 million in 2008 in trade between the two countries, although as a matter of fact I believe it was $92 million. Once again, that dropped substantially last year.

Canada is a supplier to Jordan of a range of goods, including paper, copper, vegetables, machinery and wood. In addition, Canadian and Jordanian exporters have access to respective markets eliminating tariffs on a number of key products, and world-leading Canadian sectors, such as forestry and manufacturing, agriculture and agri-food will benefit as well as pulp and paper.

We get an idea, looking at his presentation, as to what sorts of products we are talking about here that are trading between these countries.

As I indicated, we are talking about a fairly small amount of trade. Jordan is a country of 5.1 million versus Colombia, which I believe is in the 40 million range, and has the smallest GDP among middle-eastern states. The economy remains dependent on foreign aid. Interestingly enough, Canada contributed about $7.9 million in foreign aid in 2006-07.

The fact of the matter is that, on practically every debate about free trade agreements in this House, we have had the Conservative speakers question the NDP about why we do not like the agreement or what kind of agreement they have to come up with that would make us happy. Of course we respond to them that we are not in favour of their free trade approach nor have we ever been. We are in favour of a fair trade approach.

I would think that over time, whether it is with the government or a future government, we are going to see agreements renegotiated over time, in keeping with what the Bloc members have mentioned in their speeches. We are going to be looking at more multilateral approaches to fair trade, and we are going to be taking into account some of the elements that we in the NDP have been suggesting should be in fair trade agreements. For example, we have been suggesting new rules in agreements that promote sustainable practices and domestic job creation. We never seem to consider domestic job creation when we are negotiating these agreements.

When we are doing bilateral agreements, there is usually an imbalance of power in the arrangement. Our negotiators are trying to negotiate exactly what is best for us, not necessarily what is best for the local economy of the people we are negotiating with.

In addition to sustainable practices, we should be looking at domestic job creation and healthy working conditions, and while allowing us to manage the supply of goods, we should promote democratic rights and maintain democratic sovereignty at home.

The question is how we can promote fair trade and, as I indicated, new trade agreements that encourage improvement in social, environmental and labour conditions, rather than just minimizing the damage of unrestricted trade.

The federal and provincial procurement policies, which stimulate Canadian industries by allowing governments to favour suppliers here at home, supply management boards and single desk marketers, like the Canadian Wheat Board, headquartered in Winnipeg, can help replace imports with domestic products and materials.

The way the multilateral trade agreements have developed over the years is that we have potentially a flooding of a local market, as we have with the free trade agreements with Mexico and Colombia. For example, with tomatoes to Mexico and foods to Colombia, it basically put farmers, who have been self-sufficient for many years, out of business.

We destroy a solid farming community in a place like Colombia and we flood the market with cheap produce, which makes our farmers happy in the short run but at the end of the day we are not looking at the overall effect and the long-term damage to the local people. What we should be looking is developing agriculture on a local basis. We should be efficient and grow as much of our own products as possible. Obviously, we need to export some of our products and some products just do not grow in certain places. I mentioned the other day about importing bananas into Canada because we do not grow them here. We can export products that people do not have in other areas.

However, wherever possible, if a country can produce a product locally then we should be encouraging that in our practises and in our trade agreements.

Local community and individual initiatives to buy fair trade imports and locally produced goods are really important. As I indicated before, companies like Starbucks, which I am becoming increasingly familiar with almost on a daily basis, do tell people that they buy their coffees on a fair trade basis. People, especially young people, are more than willing to pay a fair price for coffee or whatever product they are selling, if they can be assured that the people at the other end are getting a fair wage and a fair return for the product.

People like to feel good about themselves. They like the know that if they buy an article of clothing, shoes, sweaters or whatever that it was not manufactured under sweat shop conditions. They like the idea of helping to bring up our economy and the economy of the producing country.

However, the bilateral agreements that we have seen so far are essentially extensions of the Ronald Reagan mantra and ideology of a race to the bottom, that we drive markets down and prices down to the lowest common denominator and we think that will be the ultimate in efficiency and that we will have a healthy economy because of it.

What has been the effect? The whole American mid-west is suffering greatly because jobs are being exported. We are exporting not only plants and the jobs that go with them out of Canada and the United States but we are exporting entire industries that were the backbone of our economy, our country and this continent for a number of years. There might be some short-term benefits but in the long run it is not better for the country as a whole.

The bottom line is that we need to become self-sufficient not only for ourselves but also for the people we are trading with.

We in the NDP feel fair trade policies are important. Even some members of the Conservative Party caucus feel that protecting the environment is the way to go by the use of domestically and locally produced goods. If a product is produced locally rather than sending it thousands of miles across the continent, there will be less freight costs, fuel costs and less carbon will be produced. Promoting environmentally conscious methods for producers is something that benefits all of us and it is something that we should be working toward.

The free trade policies that we have adopted, that we have fostered over the last 10, 20 years as a government, have basically resulted in increased pollution to the environment and a bigger concentration of multinationals.

The environmental side agreement of NAFTA, for example, has proven to be largely unenforceable, particularly when compared with protections for industries and investors.

A system of fair trade can encourage the growth of Canadian jobs, both in terms of quality and quantity. Fair competition rules and tougher labour standards will put Canadian industries on a level playing field with our trading partners and slow the international race for the bottom that has resulted and the loss of Canadian manufacturing jobs. I dealt with that issue before about this kind of neo-conservative, and I guess liberal, ideology of racing to the bottom thinking that somehow that will solve the economy's problems.

Free trade rules, on the other hand, have hurt Canadian job quality. Since 1989, most Canadian families have seen a decline in real incomes. I know the member for Burnaby—New Westminster has spoken at length about that point many times, not only here in the House but at other speaking engagements he has had across the country.

Fair trade can also protect labour rights by fostering the growth of worker co-operatives and labour unions. Like the environmental side accord, we have a co-op in Winnipeg that anyone can join. Every year I get a cheque for $800 or $1,000 on gasoline purchases and the price of the gas is the same at all of the gas stations. It is the same price for the product and yet the co-operative sends rebates to the consumers of the product.

For example, NAFTA's labour agreements have gone mainly unenforced, getting industries that are willing to violate workers' rights giving incentives to relocate Canadian jobs. Fair trade policies that favour co-ops, unions and equitable pricing will protect workers in the developing world who might otherwise be exploited and would take away reasons for Canadian producers to export jobs.

Fair trade rules will also protect society and human rights around the globe. That was a very large concern in our debate just last week with regard to the Canada-Colombia free trade deal.

In the few minutes I have left I want to deal very quickly with the whole issue of the 2008 human rights report on Jordan produced by the U.S. Department of State. We say right at the outset that Jordan is not Colombia. Jordan does not have as many obvious human rights abuses as Colombia but there is potential for concern.

In addition to that report, we have a report prepared by an attorney, Ms. Nimry from Jordan, who explains in detail the whole issue of honour killings. The committee needs to look into that issue and find out why we are looking at an average of 25 honour killings a year in Jordan. We recognize that the Jordanian government is taking steps to deal with the issue but it is still happening. In some areas of Jordan, a woman's life is at risk if she talks to a man who is not a relative or if she refuses to marry someone who is chosen by the family or if she marries someone with whom her family does not approve or if she marries a man from a different religion.

I could go on with excerpts from this particular report. It is very interesting reading and it is something that we need to look at.

The Liberals, once again, might want to go holus-bolus and marry up with the Conservatives to try to run this through as quickly as possible to meet their free trade agenda but we in the NDP have no intention of letting things go that quickly. We want to ensure this bill goes to committee and is properly dealt with there.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Kootenay—Columbia
B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great intent to the NDP speaker and I have finally concluded that the NDP sees the glass as half empty whereas most Canadians see it as being half full.

Canadians have the capacity to be competitive in so many ways, as we have shown repeatedly. Whether it is in sports, industry or society, we can compete. We are the best in the world in so many different areas and yet as I listened to the member and the other NDP member who I made a comment about, I kept hearing that the glass was half empty and that we are somehow deficient. I just do not understand that.

Just by way of observation, I would note, however, that the coalition is alive and well. I see that the leader of the NDP's thoughts about corporate tax reductions have rubbed off on the Liberal leader. It is nice to see that the coalition lives. I am very pleased about that.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, those are comments from a member who is retiring from the House but who has been here some time. He was here last week when it was amply demonstrated who was in bed with who in the House on the Colombia free trade deal. It is only alive today because the Liberal critic, according to The Globe and Mail, managed to wine and dine the minister in Colombia and get an amendment, which he then took to the government and basically saved its bacon on this issue only two weeks ago. This bad free trade agreement with Colombia has been brought back to life by the Liberal Party.

What coalition is he talking about? The coalition is between him and the Liberals, which is where it has always been. Those two parties get into bed together historically over and over again.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is actually correct. There is a coalition, a coalition to do what is good for the country, which is to create jobs, move our products and sell our goods and services.

However, there was one coalition he forgot to mention and that was the coalition where the NDP betrayed all of Canada after the 2005 budget which would have provided money for infrastructure, urban transit, seniors, housing and the environment. That coalition brought us a $56 billion deficit.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona on comments related to Bill C-8.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that there is a coalition between the Liberal Party and the government. We just went through a budget exercise where the Liberals said that they would vote against the government's budget and then they voted for and against it at the same time. They left enough members out so the government would not fall.

When people are confused about where the Liberal Party stands on different issues, it should come as no surprise because even the Liberals do not know where they stand from one day to the next on issues.

As far as the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement is concerned, it is only alive because the Liberal critic managed to go to Colombia and negotiate an amendment and then presented it to the government. There is a coalition between the Liberals and the Conservatives on this issue.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Before we resume with questions, I remind all members that we are discussing Bill C-8, which is the Canada-Jordan trade agreement.

The hon. member for Nanaimo--Cowichan.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do have a question on Bill C-8.

The member for Elmwood—Transcona talked about fair trade. Many our ridings are suffering from things like the softwood lumber issue. In my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan jobs have been shipped south as raw logs are shipped south because we simply do not do enough to protect our local jobs.

In particular, my question is on the environment side of the agreement. I know the member touched upon it briefly, but my understanding of the agreement is there are some problems because the environment agreement is essentially toothless.

It says that both countries would be required not to weaken their environmental regulations in order to attract investment. Both countries would be required to enforce their existing environmental regulations. To this end, mechanisms will be established to ensure environmental impact assessments occur for proposed projects. It goes on to talk about the fact that interested parties could request the government to investigate alleged violations.

Could the member comment more fully on what he would like to see in a fair trade agreement that would truly look at the environmental impact?

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
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5:40 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is environmental issues always seem to take a second seat to economic development and economic initiatives in our country and seemingly every other country.

At the end of the day, we have to recognize that the days of companies simply polluting their backyards, then declaring bankruptcy or moving on and giving the taxpayers the bill are hopefully coming to an end. When we quantify the cost of cleanup of all environmental costs, we have not made any money in the whole exercise.

Our critic has indicated that this is not Canada-Colombia. Jordan is a different situation and it is not as bad as Colombia. We want to see this bill move to committee and we want to look at those very issues the member has pointed out, the whole area of environmental issues and also the whole issue of the honour killings in Jordan and other types of human rights and abuses that are detailed in the human rights report put out by the United States Department of State.

The government likes to follow the Americans, so I would think it would pay some attention to the United States Department of State when it comes up with human rights assessments of various countries. We should be looking at this in great detail when we get this into committee, and that should happen fairly soon.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
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5:40 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about trade policy, the members opposite like to raise the word competitive. I think Canadians want to see competitiveness as part of our policy, but there is another word that starts with “c”, which is conscientious. I think Canadians want to see a trade policy that is balanced by encouraging competitiveness and having a policy that is conscientious.

The members opposite want a trade policy that allows unrestricted free trade in our country, that allows foreign companies with very low wages, no environmental standards and poor employment rules to have those goods come to our country and then compete with our companies and workers who try to respect those.

Could the hon. member comment on that aspect of trade?

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
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5:40 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. He is talking about what happens when we have a race to the bottom. At the end of the day, if people recognized that this was going to happen, if they saw that it was not going to produce the results that we were looking for, we might have looked differently at it in the very beginning and gone with a more multilateral approach to trade agreements than what we did 20 years ago.

There is still time for us to make that shift, make that change and improve these trade agreements.