House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was panama.

Topics

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are many who have accused the NDP of being excessively academic in its approach. I understand that in common rooms at universities it is fashionable to talk about things for a long time and maybe never take decisions, or maybe debate issues for years and years but never actually do anything. However, once people graduate from university, go into the real world, try to create jobs and try to secure futures for their families, they actually have to do things and, in the process, make decisions. They are in the real world and the real economy.

That is what we are doing here for Canadians, and that is what Canadians asked us to do when they sent us to Parliament, not to be just a talk shop. We are not here just to philosophize and have ideas, all of which is important, but at the end of those debates constituents want us to make decisions. That is all we are asking.

With regard to the Canada-Panama free trade agreement that has been around for more than two years since we completed negotiations, that has had literally weeks of debate in Parliament and that has already been passed at second reading in a previous Parliament, all we are asking is that we have that vote again, send it to committee, allow it to be studied in detail and then we can have the debates in committee, at report stage and third reading and, guess what, do the same thing over again in the Senate. A lot of debate is still ahead, but it is about time we made a decision in principle on the bill.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to tell the House as Minister of Labour that, as part of the free trade agreement, there is a labour co-operation agreement, and in it we provide something called technical help. I had the great pleasure of visiting my counterparts and the leadership of the Panama Canal this past year in order to ensure they understood that we are here to help and want to trade our best practices. Indeed, I had great conversations not only with management and government but also with trade unions in Panama. They indicated to us that they want more information about inspection and help with best practices, which we are providing through the labour program.

My question to the minister is this. From the perspective of the trade side, is there an urgency for us to finalize this agreement for the betterment of the Panama Canal coming online in the next couple of years and, indeed, for the overall economy of our country?

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister of Labour not only for her question but for her involvement in this file. She has taken a great interest in the issues and the parallel agreements to cover labour issues and has seen to their advancement.

With regard to Panama, one of the hopes when this agreement was signed, which can be seen in the statements made by me and others at the time, was that we would be able to take advantage of the massive opportunities created by the expansion of the Panama Canal, for which Canadian companies were ideally suited to win contracts. Unfortunately, because of the delays and obstruction by the NDP in the House of Commons, we are sitting here more than two years later without this agreement being in place.

I bet there are not too many contracts left. Most of that work is completed. There may be a few dollars left here and there, but the reality is that those opportunities have been lost and jobs have been missed because the NDP has obstructed this bill for over two years.

Let us get on with it. Let us at least send this bill to committee so we can make decisions on it and so we do not face more lost opportunities for Canadian workers and for Canadian businesses to create jobs for workers.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very dissatisfied with the answer from the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. He mentioned earlier that 65 people have spoken about this issue and that he believes that justifies cutting short the debate and preventing members who represent their constituents from speaking.

I have news for him. I had prepared a speech on this issue for today. The people of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord oppose this bill, which would result in trade agreements with a tax haven just when the people of my riding are about to get hit with reductions in employment insurance, which will be increasingly limited.

I have the right to speak in the House of Commons and that right has just been taken away. I find that unacceptable. For that reason, I am rising in the House today. Unfortunately, it is not to voice my opposition to the bill, but to condemn the government's actions. There have been 25 time allocation motions. That is simply irresponsible. However, it does not surprise me, because the government is irresponsible.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, with 65 speeches in this Parliament so far, 66 in the previous Parliament and 35 witnesses at the parliamentary committee, we have been getting an awful lot of content.

I know the hon. member is keen. He could, hopefully, prevail upon his whip to allow him to speak in the balance of this debate. If not, maybe he could speak during report stage debate. Maybe he could ask to appear on the committee and participate there. Maybe he could ask to have a chance to speak during third reading.

My point is that there has been ample debate already and there is ample debate yet to come. The difficulty is that the hon. member from the NDP does not want to ever have to make a decision, and that reveals his real motive.

The fact is that the NDP members oppose free trade agreements reflexively in every circumstance. That is their position. They are opposed to free trade. It is simply ideologically rejected. They do not want us to take a vote on this matter because they wish to obstruct it for another two or three years if they have the opportunity to repeat what they have done in the past.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again I cannot believe what I am hearing. That has been their mantra for months. It is not true. We are in favour of free trade, but it has to be free and fair trade. We are in favour of free trade that respects the environment. We are in favour of free trade that respects social justice all around the world. That is what we want.

We are not against this bill in principle. We are opposing it because we want to improve it. That is what we want to do. Earlier the minister said that there are no human rights problems in Panama, but the Human Rights Council confirms its concern over human rights in its recent report on Panama. That is what we want to bring to this debate in order to improve the content of this free trade agreement and this legislation.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the previous Parliament, the NDP opposed the free trade agreement with Panama, the free trade agreement with Colombia, a free trade agreement with Israel, a free trade agreement with the United States and NAFTA. In fact, they have opposed every free trade agreement proposed in this House

The NDP still has the same position. They are against the principle of free trade because they have a different vision. According to them, Canada is a small island and we can have an isolated economy here. That plan will create poverty across Canada. It is impossible. We need trade and we need to conclude agreements with other countries. That is the purpose of this bill and the other free trade bills that we introduce.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Marc-André Morin Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning I saw the report on our free trade with Colombia. I think part of this report should have focused on human rights and workers' rights. But there was nothing of the sort in the report.

The problem is that the government is asking us to blindly believe all of its claims, but when we want to see proof or ask for statistics and facts, it has nothing to give us. The difference between us and the Conservatives is that we need to see it to believe it, but the Conservatives say we have to believe it to see it. That is the difference.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP have voted against free trade agreements with Colombia, with Chili, with Peru, with Israel, with the United States and with Mexico. They have taken positions with Panama. They have taken positions in this House, often in question period and elsewhere, opposing free trade agreements with the 26 countries of the European Union. Those, obviously, are motivated by human rights concerns, too, I guess. Is that the case? No. The fact is that they are against free trade as a principle. That is where the NDP stands. It has always opposed free trade as a principle.

We have an opposite view because we recognize that Canada benefits from free trade. After the free trade agreement with the United States and the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada has seen tremendous success and literally hundreds of thousands of jobs created.

We, and, I think, most Canadians, recognize that the tales of doom and gloom that were told by NDP before that have not come to pass but rather to be entirely wrong. It said that we would lose our culture but, guess what, it is still here. We even have Celine Dion and Shania Twain. It said that we would lose our water but, guess what, others remain hungry for it but it is still here. It said that we would lose our wine. Sadly, they were right. Baby Duck has gone, but now Canada has a heck of a lot of first-rate, world-class wines.

Those were all the things that the NDP said would happen but they did not come to pass. What did come to pass was literally hundreds of thousands of jobs for Canadians and prosperity for us. We need to extend that into other markets around the world, including the European Union, including India and, of course, including the free trade agreement that we already have in place with Panama and have had for two years but which we need to actually get through this House of Commons.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the motion now before the House.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Bill C-24 — Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.