House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was financial.

Topics

Question No. 398
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

With regard to the costs incurred by the government in settling lawsuits or claims, as identified in the 2011 Public Accounts totaling $654 million, divided by department, what are the: (a) identities of the claimants or organizations; (b) details of the grievance including the (i) times, (ii) location(s), (iii) type(s), (iv) nature of dispute; (c) monetary amounts and any other terms requested in the claimant's initial claim or lawsuit; (d) subsequent government responses including (i) monetary offers, (ii) any other terms; (e) dates of settlement agreements; (f) types of settlements; (g) amounts of the settlements, and all other terms agreed to in the settlements; (h) the amounts that have been paid by the date of December 7, 2011; (i) estimated costs of not settling and using judicial channels; (j) names of government employees involved in the settlements and their role; (k) Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) hours spent on each claim's settlement; (l) legal fees incurred by the government (including those, if applicable, of the claimant) in each claim's settlement; and (m) steps taken to ensure the events leading to the lawsuit or claim are not repeated and any further lawsuits or claims are mitigated?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 407
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

With respect to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA): (a) how many new full-time meat inspection staff were hired by the CFIA between July 2009 and December 2011 and what positions and titles do these inspectors hold; (b) how many inspection staff and field inspection staff were hired by the CFIA to work on work-related food safety, as opposed to work related to plant and animal health between July 2009 and December 2011 and what positions and titles of these inspectors hold; (c) what is the total number of full-time equivalent meat inspectors employed by the CFIA currently and annually since January 2006; and (d) what was the total amount of funding allocated to the CFIA during 2010 and 2011?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Petitions
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, normally I would not do this. However, I think if you check the blues, the member for Winnipeg Centre told this House that he was presenting a petition that was signed by literally thousands of Canadians across the country. In fact, the number of pages in his petition looked to be about three or four. I know that on a petition there can only be about 25 names on a page. This is just typical of the embellishment that the member continually does in the House. I think you should check the blues and ask him to apologize for misleading the House and the viewers today.

Petitions
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The chair will review the matter and take action if necessary.

The House resumed from February 29, consideration of the motion that Bill C-24, 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, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to again enter into the discussion on Bill C-24.

Bill C-24 would implement the free trade agreement and the related agreements on the environment and labour co-operation entered into between Canada and the Republic of Panama, done in Ottawa on May 13 and 14, 2010.

We have said previously that the Liberal Party is supportive of this legislation and we remain so. However, we maintain the concerns we raised previously with respect to the fact that as the government is pursuing new agreements, it has been neglecting our relationship with our largest trading partner, the United States.

Pursuing new trade agreements is certainly worthy of support. However, we have to keep these agreements in context. I have raised questions in this House several times, that while the minister is travelling all over the world talking about trade here and trade there, the government is ignoring our most important trading partner.

The government is also ignoring another trading partner, and that is Korea. Hog producers and beef producers have been in my office over the last few weeks. They are very concerned about the South Korean market. We have an established market of over $1 billion of trade on beef and pork. It is a growing market. However, now that the United States has moved ahead and signed a trade agreement with South Korea, the tariffs will be coming down for the Americans. We are their most important competitor, and we will be left uncompetitive in that marketplace. We will in fact lose that market rapidly over time.

What seems to be the problem with the government in so many areas is that rather than being about results, it is very much about spin. It wants to be able to say that it has signed nine trade agreements, or has had 15 or 20 or 40 discussions, when in reality it is the results that matter. Again I emphasize that we are very concerned about the fact that the government is ignoring some of our largest trading partners while it talks and signs agreements with others around the world. The new agreement does not add up to the losses we are facing as a result of the government not emphasizing the agreements we already have in place.

While the Conservatives have proclaimed the promotion of trade, it has been under their watch that the mismanagement of the file in terms of trading relationships has resulted in trade deficits for the first time in over 30 years. Let me emphasize that. We hear the minister talk about all the great things the government is doing. Last year for the first time in 30 years, Canada had its first merchandise trade deficit. That tells me the results are far different from the spin we are getting from the Minister of International Trade.

With respect to the United States, we have seen the government surprised by increased United States protectionist actions. It was surprised by the initial buy American provisions in the 2008 United States stimulus package. It was again surprised in 2011 when the new buy American provisions were returned by the Obama administration. Those buy American provisions in fact will affect Canadian jobs and will hurt both the U.S. and Canadian economies.

The Conservative administration was also surprised by the announcement by the United States Federal Maritime Commission at the instigation of United States senators of an investigation into U.S.-bound container traffic being diverted to Canadian ports and whether to impose fees or tariffs as a result of this diverted trade. This would be another potential fee placed on Canada.

The government was also surprised when the United States government, in signing the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, withdrew the exemption Canada had of $5.50 per individual in terms of sea and air entry into the United States.

I was in Washington, D.C. over the last few days where I met with senators and congressmen about a number of issues between our two countries. They too seemed to be caught by surprise in terms of that clause in the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement that took away Canada's exemption. After my visit to the United States, I am now more concerned by the fact that we had a lot of allies in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives but the government failed on its watch to pay attention to that serious issue which puts another fee on Canada.

The importance of the U.S.-Canada relationship is in the value of trade, and that exceeds about $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion a day. The government is very much ignoring our most important trading partner.

I want to emphasize again in the House that while the government is pursuing Panama, Jordan, and others, it is ignoring our most important trading markets. I have to outline this point with the minister.

Will the minister get on the ball and get on a trading relationship with South Korea? We need a free trade agreement signed with South Korea, or we are going to be displaced as a result of being uncompetitive with the United States which has signed a trade agreement. I cannot emphasize that enough. That is worth $1 billion in trade.

In spite of the global economic downturn, Panama's GDP grew to 10.7% in 2008, one of the highest in the Americas. In 2010, Panama's GDP growth stood at 7.5%. Panama is Canada's largest export market in Central America.

Panama is an important market especially for folks in my province of Prince Edward Island. We export fish, shellfish, french fried potatoes and other agricultural products. It is very important to producers in Prince Edward Island. We need this agreement.

The bilateral trading relationship has grown 61% since 2009, reaching $213 million in bilateral trade in 2010.

As I said, the primary Canadian merchandise exports to Panama include machinery, vehicle electronic equipment, pharmaceutical equipment, pulses, frozen potato products and other agricultural products, and shellfish. Canadian service exports include financial services, engineering, information and communications technology. These are also important. We import precious stones from Panama and a number of fruits and nuts, fish and seafood products. The relationship is important.

I do have to point out what remains a concern to us within the Liberal Party. The tax haven issue with Panama has not been addressed. The President of France talked about that at the G20. The tax haven issues that a number of countries have around the world have to be addressed. In particular, the Canadian government has to work harder with Panama to address that issue.

The bottom line is that we support this trade agreement. We especially want to see the labour, environment and tax issues addressed in it though.

Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to question my colleague who has brought up a number of issues in regard to Bill C-24. I know that those issues are important to all of us in the House. Over the past years that we have been working on this bill, we have proposed many amendments on the subjects the member has concerns about, yet I do not see that the Liberal Party has come through with support for those amendments. Can the member explain his and his party's actions in that regard?

Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am not entirely sure what specific amendments the member is talking about, but I can certainly say I know that his party is concerned with labour and environment issues. We do see these as a side agreement in the agreement. It is a step forward that labour and environment are attached as part of the agreement.

I will admit that one of the concerns I have with both labour and environment in many of the trade agreements that have been signed is that there is not the ability to enforce those rules as strongly as we would like. However, whether it is with respect to some countries where human rights are a concern, the Liberal Party's point of view is that having an economic relationship and trading relationship with that country in fact does provide an even greater ability to argue on human rights and other issues because it is then a part of the package.

Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned in his speech how important this deal was to his region of the country because there are a lot of exports from Prince Edward Island. I am wondering if he could explain why in 13 years of a Liberal majority government he was not able to deliver any type of deal like this for his province. I am wondering if he could also explain to me if the type of relationship building that he talks about with our friends to the south is the example we saw of the previous government where it was stomping on dolls of the American presidents and saying, “We hate those”, and I will not use the word in the House. Is that an example of the type of relationship building he is mentioning?

Again, perhaps the member could tell me about the Liberal Party's desire to build relationships with our American friends and why in 13 years the Liberal majority government and the member were unable to deliver a deal that is so important, as he said, to the people of his province.

Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

March 2nd, 2012 / 12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the member that maybe he could get his head out of the sand. Maybe he could stop the divisiveness and look at the realities.

The fact of the matter is that when we were in government we balanced the books in this economy and gave the country the foundation which we find ourselves in today. It was the Liberal government. I was a backbencher and part of a committee that made the recommendations to ensure that the banking system remained sound in this country, which now his leader, the Prime Minister of the country goes around the world and brags about, but at that time the current Prime Minister was opposed to that particular merger.

I will tell the member that in terms of the U.S. relationship, the first government in 30 years to have a merchandise trade deficit on exports in this country is in fact the current government. Yes, we were there to establish a relationship with the United States, and we did. We continually built on that relationship.

I am proud of my time as a Liberal. I just cannot understand why the government and its members, whether they are talking from speaking notes from the PMO or what I do not know, constantly use divisiveness and fear tactics. That is what the member does in the House of Commons, and it is completely unacceptable.