House of Commons Hansard #69 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.

Topics

Canada-U.S. Relations
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to start this debate by acknowledging the changing relationship between Canada and the United States on the border in the last number of years. That is why I rose in the House of Commons to ask the minister about a 29-point plan that was being put in place with the United States with a lot of secrecy. In fact, there was very little consultation with businesses and other organizations or groups. One could go online and make a submission, but only 1,000 people actually visited the website, and very few contributed to that discussion. It was done in a vacuum. Therefore, there could not be the debate and exchange of information that we would normally have at committees to actually bring the issue, which is much more complex and involved, to the table in a much more open and accountable way for Canadian citizens.

The problem we have had with the United States over the last number of years is the approach the government has taken to Washington. We have had a changing relationship since 9/11. There has been a lot of contestation about the safety and security of the northern border. Unfortunately, the government made a very strategic error in its relationship with the U.S. when we were challenged over being able to protect the border against not only smugglers but also crime, potential terrorism and similar issues. The government agreed that it was a problem, but there was no evidence to that degree, especially given the types of events that have been happening at our border on a regular basis.

When Hillary Clinton charged that the 9/11 terrorists came from Canada, we did not have an official objection to that statement. We contested it, but we did not have the Prime Minister there, nor did we call in the ambassador. There were other people, such as Lieberman from the United States, another high-profile politician, and Napolitano, the director of Homeland Security.

Over the last number of years there has been a concerted effort by the southern states--and I have been to Washington and governors' conferences and a whole series of different meetings--to say that the northern border is a big threat, more so than the southern border--this despite the fact the southern border is shared with Mexico, where thousands of people flood into the United States back and forth every single day, and despite the fact that some of its areas and regions are controlled by drug lords and it has no police. The government accepted the argument, and the consequence has been the thickening of the border.

In fact, it has done things that are very puzzling and it has celebrated them. For example, we have had no military ships on the Great Lakes since the War of 1812. It was a signed treaty. It is true that there were patrols, the Coast Guard, police vessels and a series of others, but the government celebrated the ripping up of a treaty for one of the busiest causeways in terms of shipping traffic and pleasure craft and allowed the U.S. to introduce gunboats that fire 1,200 bullets a minute. The government celebrated the ending of a very positive treaty. We do not even know why it is necessary to be able to fire 1,200 bullets a minute.

The consequence has been the thickening of the border and a loss of business and trade that is expected to be in the billions of dollars. The government celebrates those types of events.

What is interesting about this whole issue is that the United States attempted at one point to put 40 gunboat training staging areas on the Great Lakes. The government did not even make a submission on time against that plan. Although lead casings and bullets will go in there and will affect our trade once again, it did not even make a submission to the U.S. government.

That is why our border is thickening. That is why we are losing jobs.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting to hear the member opposite talk about gunboats and situations on the Great Lakes and the U.S. trade with Canada. It looks as though the U.S. is ready to invade Canada, or something like that.

However, I am happy to hear from the member, because he represents Windsor, which is right next to the border. I am very happy to hear that he has been to the U.S.A. many times. He keeps going there and he keeps hearing from the governors, as he said, and I hope he stands up for Canada. If Americans say everything is coming from Canada, I hope he stands up and defends Canada. Instead of talking about this nonsense of gunboats and bullets and everything else, he should say to the Americans that we value their friendship.

The member comes from a region where he should stand up for business. He should see how many trucks are going up and down doing business and he should be proud of the fact that so much business is being done between our two countries, business that is prosperous for both countries.

Of course we recognize that the NDP will kill jobs. One minute members talk about creating jobs, and the next minute about the thickening of the border. This agreement that was signed between the Prime Minister and President Obama was to do exactly what the member is complaining about, which is to make the borders open so that we do not have concerns about security as well as to create competitiveness so that jobs could be created and continue without unnecessary delay.

I would tell the member that these are two separate countries. This is Canada and that is the U.S.A. The U.S.A. has every right to do whatever it wants to do for its own security, just as we have every right to do what we want to do in Canada. The only way we will solve this problem is to sit down and talk with each other and come to an agreement that respects both countries' sovereignty.

Therefore, I want to assure the member and every Canadian that the agreement we are signing will protect Canadian interests and Canadian privacy laws. By the way, the member is talking about not really having any consultation. I hope, because trade is very important for the member, that he took the time to send in a submission as well. I hope he has done that. He says this was private and was done under secrecy. There was nothing secret about it. I can assure every Canadian that we will maintain and protect the Privacy Act according to Canadian laws, but we will be working together to ensure that the border has no delays. It is for jobs, jobs, jobs, as this government promised to do during the election campaign.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Adjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, 40% of daily trade with the United States happens at the border in my riding. I know it very well, and the member does not even understand the implications of some of the policies that are being put in. The privacy laws and the complications for entry to and exit from this country are going to be devastating, and the extra issues with regard to security for threats that do not exist are going to thicken the border again.

When the government came to power, we had a manufacturing trade deficit of $18 billion. It now stands at $80 billion. That is the deficit in manufacturing trade. Conservatives are costing us jobs by signing these agreements, because they agree with the U.S. on the notion that Canada is a danger and a threat and that the issues on the border had to be addressed by thickening it with more security, more equipment and more types of intrusions. That is the exact opposite of what we need to have happen. We need to make sure that the free flow of goods of services will take place. Signing deals like this in secrecy, without consultation and an ongoing process, has only thickened the border. The evidence is the fact of our trade deficit ballooning under their watch.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Adjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am just amazed. Did the member say something about Canada being a danger to the U.S.A.? I do not know what he is talking about, but I can ask all Canadians, including anyone who visits the U.S.A. regularly. No U.S. citizen has ever said there is any threat from Canada. As a matter of fact everybody, including myself, and I have been at Congress, has talked about how they value Canada's contribution to security for the border.

I need to remind the member that we share this continent. We have the longest undefended border in the world. Also, he rightly pointed out the figure of 40%. Anything the NDP wants to do would kill jobs, jobs, jobs. That is its national policy. This government's policy is to create jobs, jobs and jobs. Therefore, we will support this agreement. I hope members opposite will see sense and support it.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Adjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:59 p.m.)