Canada--Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act

An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.


Pierre Pettigrew  Liberal


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

April 16th, 2002 / 6 p.m.
See context


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Motion M-431, moved by the member for Kootenay--Columbia, is to also to amend the Copyright Act, by repealing subsections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6), which would allow broadcasters to stop paying royalties on ephemeral recordings.

May I remind our colleague from Kootenay--Columbia that royalties are based on the legal notion of property, and that royalty protection normally ends 50 years following the death of the author.

On numerous occasions, the Bloc Quebecois has advocated for the legitimate rights of authors and artists to earn a decent living from the revenue generated by their creations.

When the member for Kootenay--Columbia tells us that they were not earned legitimately and that radio stations have costs and rent to pay, I could respond in turn that artists also have rent and costs to pay.

The federal government made a commitment to ensure that the Canadian copyright system remains one of the best and most progressive systems in the world. However, this must not be done at the expense of the protection of authors and artists.

The House gave serious consideration and held lengthy discussions when it established royalties. I would like to remind the House that these authors earn their living from royalties paid to them for what they have composed or created. Copyright exists as much to reward the creative process as the dissemination of knowledge and cultural content, and it encourages access to this knowledge and content. Many artists earn a very modest living and often their income is below the poverty level. Far too many artists earn between $7,000 and $12,000.

What is the purpose of this motion? How do we define ephemeral recordings? Allow me to explain it. This motion would exempt broadcasters from having to pay royalties when they transfer documents belonging to authors to their hard drive. Let us call this a copy. This transfer to a hard drive is done for the purposes of facilitating broadcasting.

The computer allows them, for example, to select all of the songs on a given subject, such as spring, women or another subject, without having to search through all of their collection manually. This process is therefore economically advantageous because it is quicker. So, broadcasters are, in fact, saving.

Before the advent of the new technologies, this selection was made by employees who were remunerated for their work. But the new method saves money, and these savings still do not seem to be enough. Now, what broadcasters want is to no longer have to pay the royalty when they transfer music or art to their hard drive because there is no immediate distribution. However, this transfer would never be done if the goal was not distribution.

Even though distributors are already realizing considerable savings through these technologies, they do not want to pay the royalties on the transfer, arguing that there is no distribution at that particular time. However, the body representing authors is formally opposed on their behalf to deleting this clause because this use of the work of creators is a copy, and there is no reason why creators should not be paid for their work.

If the member for Kootenay--Columbia had attended our committee's meeting this morning, he would have heard our questions about this. We asked certain stakeholders working on copyright what their position on this issue was, and this is what they told us.

Before Bill C-32, there was no exemption. Since the 30-day exemption, it is rare, not to say exceptional, for distributors to ask for this exemption. We also have a request from the member for Kootenay--Columbia reminding of the situation faced by creators.

The Copyright Act has evolved considerably since 1924. I would like to take a look at its history. The act has adapted to the new realities. From 1988 to 1994, four amendments were made to the Copyright Act, most of them in order to allow Canada to meet NAFTA and WTO obligations.

In April 1996, the government introduced Bill C-32, which recognized the neighbouring rights of artists and record producers, the implementation of a system of what is called “copies for personal use”, that is the right to charge royalties on blank audio tapes, the establishment of new exceptions, such as ephemeral copies.

Today, broadcasters want to do away with the concession for ephemeral recordings. What did they do prior to Bill C-32?

I am speaking today in order to remind the House that it has a duty to continue to protect artists despite all the pressures that may be brought to bear on some of its members to restrict application of the Copyright Act.

The House must take care to defend the rights of authors and performers to be paid for what they do, and paid every time their work is used or broadcast. I see no valid reason why creators would not be paid for their work and for the copies made of it.

I cannot understand why this motion is being brought forward now in the House, when the hearings on bills relating to the royalties payable in Canada for the reproduction of musical works by a radio station other than CBC and Radio-Canada are about to start, on April 22. I would like to offer an example.

The broadcasting association, via the agency that administers their royalty system, has proposed the following: television agencies would pay 25% of their gross revenues to them for a monthly licence, if their request is accepted. On the other hand, SODRAC's suggestion on behalf of the authors at these same hearings will be 1.96% of their revenue.

The conclusion we can reach from this example is that, when broadcasters want to be paid royalties they are very hard-line and demand high amounts, but when they are the ones to pay the royalties, they want the figure to be low.

The Bloc Quebecois will therefore oppose the motion of the hon. member for Kootenay--Columbia, because the work of authors and creators must be protected, and this is an essential value. Ephemeral recordings can indeed turn out to be permanent, and if this is the case, the authors will not be paid for their work. Therefore, ephemeral production rights are already an exception to copyright. I would call upon hon. members to become more aware of this issue.

This motion is not votable, as we know. It was, however, important to the Bloc Quebecois that we contribute our view to today's debate, in order to allow our creative artists to earn a decent living and to ensure that they gain as much as possible from their creative work.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

April 16th, 2002 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

Beauharnois—Salaberry Québec


Serge Marcil LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to speak to the motion before the House. The motion is for the government to draft legislation deleting sections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) of the Copyright Act.

In the Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada undertook to make Canadian copyright legislation among the most modern and avant-garde in the world.

The country needs a modern copyright regime. This regime supports Canadian authors and artists, as well as the cultural industries to which they belong. It is a powerful means of promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and success in the new economy.

The member for Kootenay--Columbia put forward Motion M-431. He is calling on the government to draft legislation deleting sections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) of the Copyright Act.

In my view, the motion is premature, because this is one of the issues which will be addressed in the report to be tabled in parliament by the Minister of Industry, as required under section 92 of the Copyright Act.

In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada held in Bishop v. Télé-Métropole, that ephemeral recordings are recordings within the meaning of the Copyright Act. Following this ruling, broadcasters had to obtain the permission of copyright holders to make such recordings. They argued that the procedure was onerous and costly and that these recordings were merely incidental to the actual broadcasting.

As a result, through Bill C-32, an act to amend the Copyright Act, passed in 1997, the government added sections 30.8 and 30.9. Under these sections, broadcasters who are authorized to broadcast a live program, a sound recording or a performance which is part of a sound recording may, without seeking the authorization of the copyright holder, make a single copy, also called an ephemeral or temporary recording, either for time shifting or for the purpose of converting a recording into an appropriate format for transmission.

That having been said, sections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) also provide that if a licence is available from a collective society, a broadcaster must use the licence to make the ephemeral recording; he must also pay the required royalties.

As for French recordings, SODRAC, the Société des droits de reproduction des auteurs et compositeurs, was created in order to issue licences for the production of ephemeral recordings, among other things. As a result, Quebec broadcasters have been paying royalties for some time.

Outside Quebec there was no body authorized to issue licences. Recently the CMRRA, the Canadian Music Reproduction Rights Agency, converted to a licencing body in order to issue licences for the production of recordings. The agency has provided the Copyright Board with the list of charges it plans to implement. The board is due to hold hearings on this around mid-2002.

In June 2001, the Government of Canada began consultations and a reform to bring Canadian copyright legislation more up to date. The document entitled “A Framework for Copyright Reform” sets out the context and mechanisms of that reform and indicates the federal government's intention to take a step-by-step approach to examining reform proposals, consulting the Canadian public and amending the law.

Section 92 of the Copyright Act stipulates that the provisions and operation of the act must be reviewed. It also requires the Minister of Industry to report to both houses of parliament by September 2002. Subsection 92(2) requires a parliamentary committee to review this report.

During that review, the public will have the opportunity to present its views. The committee is required to report to parliament within a year of the tabling of the report required under section 92.

As the government has stipulated with the publication of its Framework for Copyright Reform, the report required in section 92 will set out the government's program with respect to copyright. More specifically, it will set out the list of questions to be addressed subsequently. These will be organized according to certain precise criteria, and then prioritized. One of the points to be included will be the wording of sections 30.8 and 30.9.

In conclusion, I would say that it is better to settle this question within the context of the procedure defined in section 92.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

April 16th, 2002 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC


Motion No. 431

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should draft legislation deleting sections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) of the Copyright Act.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to stand and speak to the issue because the minister of heritage in her wisdom has decided not to do anything about it. I draw to the attention of the House the fact that she is sitting on her hands with respect to the issue.

I will briefly describe what Motion No. 431 is about. In 1997 when the Copyright Act was amended and brought up to standard by Bill C-32 two clauses were inserted, namely clauses 30.8(8) and 30.9(6). The issue is about copyright and the fact that artists should be able to gain from commercial playing of their performances.

I want it to be crystal clear: I and the Canadian Alliance Party are in favour of the principle of copyright and compensation for people whose performances are played by commercial radio stations in any form, particularly where gain is made by the performance.

During the hearings we looked at two issues. First, we looked at prerecorded recordings which are covered by section 30.9 of the act. Second, we looked at ephemeral recordings which are covered by section 30.8.

Ephemeral recordings are things that just happen. For example, let us suppose a Santa Claus parade went by a television camera and the camera captured the image but also captured a band playing White Christmas or another popular song in both video and audio. It would then presumably be replayed on a cable network at a later point.

Prerecorded recordings are obvious. They occur where people perform for the purpose of putting their music on some kind of medium which can be physically carried, sent through the mail, walked down the street or put into a tape player, CD player or whatever the case may be.

We looked at the fact that there are times when music which is typically in digital format is transferred from a CD to a direct drive, MP3 or other device. When music is transferred digitally it is called a transfer of medium.

I will restate for the third time that I and the Canadian Alliance are in favour of fair compensation for artists whose music is played on radio stations when the playing of the music yields revenue to the radio station. The artists should get to share in the revenue. I believe there is agreement on the part of all parties with respect to this.

Sections 30.8 and 30.9 of the Copyright Act focus on when the digital image of music is transferred from one medium to another but not heard or played. That is what the exclusion is about.

I will read from the act as it exists:

30.9 (1) It is not an infringement of copyright for a broadcasting undertaking to reproduce in accordance with this section a sound recording, or a performer's performance or work that is embodied in a sound recording, solely for the purpose of transferring it to a format appropriate for broadcasting, if the undertaking

(a) owns the copy of the sound recording, performer's performance or work and that copy is authorized by the owner of the copyright;

(b) is authorized to communicate the sound recording, performer's performance or work to the public by telecommunication;

(c) makes the reproduction itself, for its own broadcasts--

I will not read all the terms and conditions but, as technology advances and as we transfer this music, which is still in an unheard electronic digital format when it is being transferred from a CD to an MP3 player for other reasons, they are clearly there to get around the problems.

However, the collectives who were involved in the copyright hearings asked that the following clause giving this exemption be inserted:

This section does not if a licence is available from a collective society to reproduce the sound recording, performer's performance or work.

In other words, if I were Bryan Adams and I had a recording that was to be transferred and I was not a member of a collective, I, as the artist, would not be able to go after this unintended copyright fee because it is an unintended copyright fee. No value is received for this transfer of medium.

What has happened is that most of the action on this has been because the artists are generally members of a collective. What was intended to be an exclusion really is not an exclusion after all because the collectives are now pursuing it. This is really unfortunate.

I go back to the oral remarks of David Basskin of the CMPA to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on November 7, 1996. On page 8 he stated:

Music publishers recognize that such copying [Radio transfers of format] is integral to the operation of radio stations, and also realize that any publisher foolish enough to demand payment for such copying would likely find himself frozen out of the station's playlist in short order.

Here is a commitment by somebody who was in a position of authority saying that he would not do this.

On November 7, 1996, he further stated:

I cannot speak for everybody, but I think I can speak for my board of directors who represent the largest and best-known interests. On the radio side, we don't seek to change the status quo. If this results in an agreement at a very low or gratis rate, I think we'd be entirely happy. I can't predict, but we'll certainly try our best and we'll keep the committee apprised of our work in this regard.

Not once but twice in that same committee this member said that his collective was undertaking not to do what it in fact was doing. It is presently before the copyright board trying to get a fee attached to the transfer of medium.

One collective, SODRAC, which was in place in 1997, said that it had an arrangement with CBC stating that when it had a transfer of medium with CBC it would pay for it. There was pressure from SODRAC literally days before the legislation came to a conclusion in committee to insert clause 8 into the legislation. The CMRRA, which is the Canadian Mechanical Reproduction Rights Agency, said that not only was it not collecting royalties but that it also had no intention of ever doing it. These collectives existed at the time but collected royalties for different things. After clause 8 was included and clause 9 as another clause, it developed a new sideline which allowed it to collect from another source.

This is completely unfair. We pointed out in committee that the insertion of these clauses would basically allow the collectives to supersede, wipe out or negate this very logical, rational and reasonable exception. When we pointed that out we were told by the collectives that they would not do this. This is a law that simply cannot stand because the collectives have not kept their word. In actual fact I could never understand why clause 8 and clause 6 were put in in the first place.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage should realize that this is an unfair form of revenue collection from the commercial broadcasters. It is unfair and unwarranted and is ill-found money. The collection of this accidental fee was never intended by the legislators, myself included, who were on the committee nor by the members of the House.

When talking about business, we are talking about a bottom line. Any business in Canada has a responsibility to pay its taxes, fees, rent and to pay its royalties.

This is the fourth time, but I want to make it crystal clear. I and the Canadian Alliance are not opposed to the collection of royalties. We believe that a person has a right to his or her property. If that property is being used for commercial purposes and there is commercial gain, there should be payment to the holder, the owner of that property.

By virtue of these two clauses of exception, those copyright holders are able to get their hands into an area to extract money which was never intended by the legislators.

I have brought forward this motion to prompt the heritage minister, to prompt the heritage department and to prompt my other colleagues in the House to make the necessary change so that our copyright system is fair and balanced.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

February 22nd, 2002 / 12:45 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak on the Copyright Act, Bill C-48, at second reading. Since we will be supporting the bill at second reading, I will keep my comments brief and to the bill.

First let me say that I do have a bit of personal interest in copyright because, as some may know, in my younger years I wandered around the country with a guitar making my living writing and playing music so it is something that is dear to me.

Before commenting on Bill C-48 I would like to read into the record the summary provided as part of the package announcing the bill, which states:

This enactment amends the Copyright Act to provide that retransmitters who currently benefit from the compulsory licence regime provided for by section 31 (such as cable distribution undertakings and direct-to-home satellite distribution undertakings) will continue to do so, while allowing other retransmitters who meet the conditions prescribed by regulation to also benefit from that regime.

On December 12, 2001, in a Government of Canada news release, the heritage minister is quoted as saying that:

--this bill will strengthen Canada's already vibrant broadcasting system and protect the rights of Canadian content creators. It will provide much needed clarity.

There is an expression, “there is more to this than meets the eye”. Unfortunately in this case there is far less to this than meets the eye.

The purpose of Bill C-48 is to amend the Copyright Act, which was originally amended under Bill C-32 in 1996. At that time, due to pressure exerted on the committee by the current heritage minister, there were at least two significant deficiencies in the resulting legislation. Furthermore, due to interdepartmental rivalry between the two responsible ministries, heritage and industry, and to a certain extent the personal rivalry between the ministers of the day, the revisions to the Copyright Act in 1996 yielded some questionable results. Those rivalries between ministries and ministers continued into December 2001 and the lack of agreement is reflected in the bill.

Canadian content creators and the broadcast industry deserve better. It is their property and their intellectual property that is being stolen by certain distribution systems and cable and satellite providers. Creators should be covered by copyright provisions. In addition, the industry should have the property for which they have paid good money protected.

It is for this reason that the official opposition will be voting in favour of Bill C-48. We believe in the principle of protection of property rights. However, the heritage minister's statement that the bill will provide clarity could most charitably be described as an exaggeration.

Clause 2, or proposed subsection 31(1) of the Copyright Act, defines retransmitter. In this clause it was anticipated that we would have a specific definition of a retransmitter but let us read the clause:

Paragraph 2(1) (b) states that a retransmitter is:

a person who retransmits a signal and meets the qualifying conditions referred in to in paragraph (3)(b)--

Let us look at paragraph (3)(b), which states:

The Governor in Council may make regulations

(b) prescribing qualifying conditions for the purpose of paragraph (b) of the definition “retransmitter” in subsection (1);--

Before everybody's eyes begin to roll, let me describe the net effect of these two clauses. The effect is to set up the governor in council, which is the cabinet working to the recommendations of the heritage and industry departments, to come out with regulations at some time in the future. The problem is that the Liberal government consistently falls back to creating simple enabling legislation in parliament so that the cabinet, armed with recommendations from the bureaucracy, can enact whatever the bureaucracy thinks is best at some future date.

This creates a situation of removing the decision making process from parliament. We are elected as members of parliament to come here to make decisions, not to create enabling legislation so that bureaucrats can do what they want when they want.

It can be argued that creating precise legislation means that as the technology changes the bureaucrats will have to regularly return to parliament. Therefore, with Bill C-48 functioning as enabling legislation rather than precise legislation, the bureaucrats can be flexible.

While this has a certain intellectual appeal, the result is nonetheless the same. The government is dealing duly elected members of parliament out of the process. A classic example of this situation exists in the previous copyright legislation, Bill C-32. A provision was made for a levy on blank tapes. The levy came into effect on blank tapes with the passing of the legislation. However, regulations were then put forward to the copyright review board.

Since the passing of the original legislation, the board has determined that this levy will apply not only to blank tapes but to blank CD recording medium and it likely eventually will apply to blank DVDs. Furthermore, the original levy has increased considerably based on the submissions to the copyright board by the creators, so the effect is that the parliamentary process and the representatives duly elected by the people have been sidelined by the government. Furthermore, the board is at liberty to continue expanding the mediums to which this levy will apply as well as being free to increase the levy itself.

While the creators, using the revenue base collected from these provisions, can prepare representations to the Copyright Board, directly influencing their decisions, the individual consumer who is impacted by these extra charges could not possibly afford either the time or the money required to develop proper presentation.

In order for the official opposition to vote in favour of Bill C-48 when it leaves committee, we will require one of two things: an amendment that adds to the specific definition of retransmitter, one that will act in a way to protect the property and the intellectual property rights of the creators and the broadcast industry, or at a minimum, the tabling of detailed regulatory information by the heritage and industry departments.

We want to support the bill because we believe in property rights protection. We look forward to either of those two avenues being undertaken by either the government or the departments concerned. Parliamentarians must be returned to their rightful place in the legislative process.

Message from the SenateThe Royal Assent

December 18th, 2001 / 5:05 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-6, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act--Chapter No. 40.

Bill C-24, an act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and law enforcement) and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 32.

Bill C-31, an act to amend the Export Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 33.

Bill C-32, an act to implement the free trade agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica--Chapter No. 28.

Bill C-34, an act to establish the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 29.

Bill C-36, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other acts, and to enact measures respecting the registration of charities in order to combat terrorism--Chapter No. 41.

Bill C-38, an act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act--Chapter No. 35.

Bill C-40, an act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect--Chapter No. 34.

Bill C-44, an act to amend the Aeronautics Act--Chapter No. 38.

Bill C-45, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2002--Chapter No. 39.

Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (alcohol ignition interlock device programs)--Chapter No. 37.

Bill S-10, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Poet Laureate)--Chapter No. 36.

Bill S-31, an act to implement agreements , conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Senegal, the Czech Republic and Germany for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income--Chapter No. 30.

Bill S-33, an act to amend the Carriage by Air Act--Chapter No. 31.

World Trade OrganizationGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2001 / 5:10 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Chairman, it is my pleasure to rise in the debate on the World Trade Organization.

I want to comment on the last presentation that was made. The member should have taken the opportunity to plug his own government in the passage of Bill C-32, the Costa Rican free trade bill. I know that it will bring great benefit to the member from P.E.I. in the expansion of potato trading down to Central America. In that approach I think the entire House can take credit because I believe that all the pro free trade parties, pro growth parties supported that and it is something for which we should all be proud.

Let me begin by saying few activities are as worthwhile as Canada's participation in the World Trade Organization. Just as most members of the House see the United Nations as having a role in maintaining and promoting world peace, it is certain that the agreements concluded under the framework of the World Trade Organization have helped to promote a stable trading regime and the prosperity which that brings.

Just as it would be unthinkable for Canada not to attend a session of the United Nations General Assembly, it should be inconceivable for us not to attend a WTO ministerial conference. Quite simply, our attendance at the upcoming WTO talks in Doha is vital. It is vital to Canada to defend and promote our interests at the table. It is vital that Canada be present so as to be able to participate and partake in all discussions which may occur.

The NDP and its supporters remain adamantly opposed to the World Trade Organization. The NDP's parliamentary website has a page called “NDP on Trade” and it features the following quote which is attributed to the party leader:

The WTO has been called “the mother of all backroom deals”—the greatest transfer of economic and political power in history...from communities and nation states into the hands of a small number of global corporations.

The same page alleges as fact that:

The WTO and related trade agreements are intended to be an economic constitution for the planet, yet they are written by, and almost entirely for, the world's largest corporations.

At the very same time as the NDP staunchly denounces the World Trade Organization, it calls on the United Nations to solve the world's problems including dealing with the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

On September 17 in the first question period after those horrific attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. and the skies over Pennsylvania, the NDP leader rose in question period to say:

The Statute of Rome must be amended to ensure that terrorism is defined as a specific crime against humanity and that terrorists are tried before the International Criminal Court.

She then called upon the Prime Minister to:

—assure the House that Canada will lead the way in fighting terrorism through multilateral democratic institutions such as the International Criminal Court.

Later that same day in her first speech she made in the House after the attacks, the NDP leader said:

This response must be carried out in accordance with the principle of the rule of law...This is a crime against humanity and an international court should mete out the punishment. No country should be called upon to be the judge, the jury and the executioner, least of all the country that has suffered the greatest loss.

The International Court of Justice is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council sitting independently of each other. There are 189 members of the general assembly. Canada currently is not a member of the security council.

Our permanent representative at the United Nations is Mr. Paul Heinbecker. I have never met Mr. Heinbecker but I am sure that he is an honourable man. I presume that he represents Canada well and that he follows the instructions given to him by the government.

I must say that Mr. Heinbecker's name is perhaps less well known to most Canadians than that of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, than that of the Minister for International Trade, than that of the Prime Minister, and that of the Minister of Finance. There is a very simple reason for this. Cabinet ministers are directly accountable to parliament. They are elected members of the House. They attend our debates and question period. They testify before standing committees. Even more important, they are responsible for implementing reports of standing committees.

Before Canada sent a ministerial delegation to the last WTO round in Seattle in 1999, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade travelled across Canada hearing from hundreds of witnesses. Various parties made submissions. Then in June 1999 the standing committee tabled both majority and minority reports. Truly every point of view was heard. Those views were reported to the minister and the government. I have every reason to believe that those views influenced the government's position.

Let me put it another way. The government listened to Canadians when devising its position before the Seattle WTO round in 1999. However the government went further. It also invited a whole bunch of non-elected civil society types to go along.

Not only did the Council of Canadians get to address the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade at various sessions across Canada and similar sessions held by the Senate committee advising the government, it also sent delegates as part of our government's delegation to Seattle.

The delegates had their say. Their point of view was heard and considered countless times. However, when a majority of Canadians did not agree with their position, they called the WTO anti-democratic and the mother of all backroom deals. I must admit that the NDP's opposition to the WTO baffles me and the official opposition.

At all WTO ministerial rounds, including the 1999 session in Seattle and the current session in Doha, Canada is represented by the minister of trade who, as I said earlier, is an elected member of the House and a member of the cabinet. The minister goes to these ministerial sessions armed with government positions that have been devised through broad, inclusive, nationwide consultations. This process is then described by the NDP and its supporters as “backroom” and “written entirely for the benefit of the world's largest corporations”.

Yet the NDP supports the International Court of Justice and the United Nations. I do not know who Canada supported as a nominee in the International Court of Justice or even when that nomination battle was. I do not recall any broad national consultation or report prepared by a standing committee of either the House or the Senate with a view to guiding the government's position.

In fact, even if this had occurred, Canada would have been just one of 189 member countries voting in the process. Yet when one considers that a justice of the court sits for nine years and might influence all kinds of cases, it is conceivable that the election of such individuals might rightly draw some scrutiny.

I have never heard members of the NDP decry the lack of scrutiny of the appointment of judges to the international court. Instead, they will applaud the United Nations and the International Court of Justice as allies in promoting the “principle of the rule of law”.

All Canadians believe in the rule of law. All Canadians also want fair, rules based trade. That is precisely what the WTO is all about. It is a forum in which elected Canadian cabinet ministers, after consulting Canadians, get to influence the rules which affect world trade. If every other nation had a similar process, it would be the most democratic setting of rules that is possible to imagine.

Because we are talking about ground rules rather than UN General Assembly resolutions, our participation in setting those rules gets a much higher level of scrutiny than might otherwise be possible. In spite of this, the NDP says:

The WTO operates behind closed doors, and has the power to strike down national laws, and enforce its decisions or impose sanctions.

Presumably then the NDP is opposed to collective bargaining. After all, it usually occurs behind closed doors and once a collective agreement has been agreed to, it does limit the rights of both parties. The employer cannot pay less than the agreed to wage and the employee cannot refuse to work without a valid reason.

Yet most Canadians, including myself, are in favour of collective bargaining, even though it happens behind closed doors. That is because the union and management generally go into these meetings after having consulted with various stakeholders. Collective bargaining may be behind closed doors, but very few people would describe it as anti-democratic in the way that the NDP describes the WTO.

It is shrill that members of the NDP continue to cite the now famous Ethyl Corporation case and yet they fail to point out that Canada's supreme court probably would have reached the same decision. Consider point 13 from the Ethyl Corporation's statement of claim:

The MMT Act does not prohibit the manufacture or use of MMT in Canada, it only requires that all MMT sold in Canadian unleaded gasoline be 100% Canadian. A domestic manufacturer of MMT can manufacture and distribute MMT for use in unleaded gasoline entirely within a province and not violate the MMT Act. If Ethyl wanted to maintain its presence in the Canadian octane enhancement market, it would be required to build a MMT manufacturing, blending and storage facility in each Canadian province.

The left would have us believe that the Ethyl case proves that chapter 11 prevents us from protecting the environment. Not true. If the federal government had outright banned the use of MMT in Canada regardless of where it was made, Ethyl would not have been able to prove the discrimination which was the centre point of winning its case.

If anyone is in doubt of this, just read the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in T1T2 Limited Partnership v Canada. That case was where the government, acting on an election promise, cancelled a questionable deal in which the Mulroney government had sold Pearson Airport terminals 1 and 2 to a consortium. When the government cancelled the deal, the investor sued for breach of contract and lost profits. The investor won and that is the Canadian way.

For Canadians, the WTO is not an imposition of foreign rules; it is a chance for us to influence the rules by which the world will trade. It will trade. It is a chance for us to export our standards of democracy, political accountability and integrity. It is an opportunity for us to use our considerable legal and technical expertise and not inconsiderable political sway to help deal with complex matters like the definition of subsidy in agriculture.

We owe it to the world to be there and to participate fully and with vigour. Much more important, given the power of trade to boost our standard of living, we owe it to all Canadians to participate and to be there with bells on.

TradeStatements By Members

October 30th, 2001 / 2:10 p.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, two sugar refineries have closed in Canada and more will be closing out west if action is not taken now.

Bill C-32, the act to implement the free trade agreement with Costa Rica, cannot be viewed in isolation of the North American and global context since it would provide Costa Rica with substantial immediate duty free access and a phase out of Canada's refined sugar tariff.

The reciprocal provisions in the agreement would not provide Canadian sugar with any commercial export opportunity. Sugar should be excluded from such regional negotiations to prevent further job losses and refinery closures in Canada. The sugar deal with Costa Rica will set a precedent with upcoming negotiations with Central America.

Canada's sugar market is already the most open in the world. Our sugar industry does not depend on any domestic or export subsidies or other trade distorting policies. Our modest 8% tariff is important until the big players including the U.S. and EU reform their sugar policies. What is in question is not free trade but fair trade.

Export Development ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2001 / 12:25 p.m.
See context


Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, we are now studying Bill C-31, an act to amend the Export Development Act.

Before anything else, I would remind the House what the key elements of this legislation are. The bill would enshrines in law the fact that before entering into a financing transaction the Export Development Corporation, whose name it changes incidentally, must take environmental considerations into consideration.

The bill leaves it up to the Export Development Corporation to establish its own environmental criteria and to determine the exceptions to the rules. It is rare to see a corporation be made both judge and defendant, when that corporation already does not comply with its own directives.

We will see that in detail later on. In her May 2001 report, the auditor general stated that, out of the 25 projects audited under the terms of reference determined by the corporation itself, she found 23 to be in violation of those terms of reference. I am referring to the Export Development Corporation.

The present bill adds nothing to the requirement for accountability on the part of that corporation. There is nothing in the bill about the disclosure of information or about public consultation.

As I said, the frame of reference is what the corporation assigns to itself, and there is really nothing in the bill to ensure that this framework is adequate to properly assess the environmental effects of projects submitted to it.

Moreover, the bill gives the rather strange discretionary power to the Minister of Finance and the Minister for International Trade to exempt a project from environmental assessment. The bill, in principle, gives exclusion from any of the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

I must admit that we are totally mystified by this choice. We pass environmental assessment legislation and then exempt the corporation from it, at the very time that it is being asked to put more effort into its environmental assessments.

Finally, this bill makes absolutely no mention of human rights.

As hon. members can see, this bill might appear ambitious, in light of the criticism there has been of the EDC in recent years. Once read, however, it can be seen to be a pretty lightweight piece of legislation.

I would take this opportunity to remind the House that the EDC was established in 1944, as the Export Credits Insurance Corporation, with a mandate to support and develop Canada's export trade. It was given the responsibility of providing credit insurance and guarantees to Canadian exporters. In 1969 it became a crown corporation and acquired the additional powers of being able to make direct loans to foreign borrowers, and to borrow against the government's credit to finance its activities.

The last change, made in 1993, now enables it to invest in capital stock, to lease assets to users outside Canada, to constitute subsidiaries, and to take part in joint ventures.

It is noteworthy that the EDC is self-funding, in that it receives no parliamentary votes for its activities. It derives its operating revenue from fees, premiums and loan interest.

In the year 2000, for instance, it reported net profits of $194 million, a 9.7% return on shareholder assets. Its assets would therefore be some $2.8 billion. That same year, hon. members will recall, the corporation estimated that it had supported exports and foreign investments to the tune of some $45 billion.

Finally, let us not forget that this crown corporation enjoys special status. It is not subject to the Access to Information Act. It is not subject to the Environmental Assessment Act. It is not regulated by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, as is the case for all private enterprises. It does not pay income tax. It does not have to pay dividends. It can borrow money at favourable rates, thanks to the credit extended to the Government of Canada.

I think it must also be said that the Export Development Corporation has a highly developed secrecy policy: it hardly gives out any information about its activities.

In the evidence we heard at the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade, most of the groups that appeared before the committee, particularly the international co-operation groups, reminded us of the difficulty they had in getting information.

For example, Warren Allmand, a former Liberal member and minister, who is now president of Rights and Democracy, presented a document that was obtained by his organization through the Access to Information Act. The document was completely blank. This shows that a secrecy policy, a lack of transparency, seems to be a feature of this corporation.

Coming back specifically to the environmental issue, since it is the only new element in this bill, we see that the corporation will set up an environmental framework to apply environmental criteria to its financing decisions.

As I already mentioned, in response to many criticisms, the auditor general was asked to assess the appropriateness of the Export Development Corporation's environmental review framework. She concluded that the framework contains, and I quote “most elements of a suitably designed environmental review process”. However, it would appear that the framework has never been properly applied.

As I mentioned at the outset, and I think the Canadian and Quebec public have to know it, out of the 25 projects she studied, 23 had not been properly reviewed for environmental risks, or not reviewed at all, in accordance with the framework the corporation had defined.

Of course, this was not the only thing she criticized. I will repeat some of her criticisms, as set out in her May 2001 report.

The auditor general pointed out that there are major shortcomings in terms of public consultation and disclosure at the Export Development Corporation, there are significant differences between the environmental review framework's design and its operation, the framework's statement of objectives is not clear, the framework's environmental standards are not specified, there are flaws at each stage of the environmental review process, screening tools are not applied adequately to identify potential environmental risk, and there is no methodology to determine if adverse environmental risks can justify a decision or not.

It is not the only report we can refer to in order to have an idea of the major shortcomings in the current management approach taken by the Export Development Corporation. Members will recall that in 1999, the Gowlings report pointed out much the same shortcomings with regard to transparency, environmental review and human rights. In December 1999, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade tabled its report, in which we find basically the same criticisms.

So we are dealing with a corporation that has gotten some pretty bad press from most groups, including parliamentarians. In my opinion, this should have elicited a much stronger response from the federal government than that which was given with Bill C-31.

In December 1999, the Bloc Quebecois published a dissenting opinion to the report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade; it was already clear to us then that there was disagreement that could be boiled down to three elements: transparency, human rights and the environment.

I will recap the main elements that we highlighted in December 1999. Regarding transparency, we noted that there was an obvious and marked lack of transparency in the Export Development Corporation's operations; that access to information was sorely lacking; and that given the context of a lack of transparency, it was highly likely that the Export Development Corporation's activities could be used for inappropriate purposes, which might even conflict with the purposes outlined in the statute.

Therefore, it seemed essential to us at that time that the Export Development Corporation be subject to the Access to Information Act.

As for human rights, the Bloc Quebecois expressed serious concern regarding the Export Development Corporation when it comes to respecting human rights. Among the risks that the corporation assumes, there are political factors. It provides political risk insurance. However, the Export Development Corporation does not take into consideration the human rights situation when it assesses political risks. When it comes to political risks, obviously there is a serious risk of political upheaval in the case of regimes that abuse human rights and do not respect fundamental labour law.

Before providing support for a business, the corporation should at the very least—this is what we thought then, and still think now—ensure that the company in question subscribes to the code of conduct established by the OECD, when it comes to human rights. Bill C-31 makes no mention of this fact, as I stated earlier.

As for environmental standards, they are briefly mentioned in Bill C-31. The Bloc Quebecois was and is still of the opinion that the committee's recommendations concerning the environmental responsibility of the Export Development Corporation—we refer here to the report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade—were nothing but a wish list. It was not enough to ensure that, in fact, the environment will now be included in the corporation's studies prior to any decision making process.

The Export Development Corporation's environmental responsibility must be more firmly anchored in order to better reflect the corporation's duty as regards environment, respect for the environment, and sustainable development.

In this regard, the Bloc Quebecois would have expected the Export Development Corporation to draw more from the operating framework of the World Bank or the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, where for each reasonable project there is an environmental impact assessment, public hearings, and above all full transparency.

We cannot accept that the Export Development Corporation, even under its new name, should use public moneys to fund projects that could end up destroying the environment or violating human rights, and do so with impunity, as secrecy is one of the corporation's characteristics.

As I indicated, there were three very harsh reports. The May 2001 report of the auditor general, the report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, complete with the Bloc Quebecois dissenting report, and the Gowlings report were all extremely critical.

In a way, Bill C-31 was presented as a response to this criticism, since that the Export Development Corporation had obviously not succeeded in regulating itself. One would have expected Bill C-31 to address this weakness, but there is nothing in this bill to do so.

The bill is too weak from an environmental point of view. It provides no guarantee for an effective environmental assessment and gives the EDC too much leeway in establishing the criteria. It is silent on disclosure. The bill does not include any punitive provisions should the EDC not respect its own environmental framework.

We have seen in the auditor general report that in 23 of the 25 projects examined, the framework had not been respected. In this regard, I shall point out that Quebec imposes fines and even jail terms on officials who are found guilty of negligence in environmental matters.

On the other hand, the bill is watering down environmental standards by not assuring Canadians that projects comply with more than just the standards of host countries, and that they respect the environmental review framework. This bill also excludes any possibility of making the EDC subject to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Since the corporation has no credibility whatsoever, this bill does not represent a response to the criticisms made repeatedly over the last three years.

Finally, Bill C-31 completely sidesteps the issue of fundamental rights, human rights, labour rights, and this is totally unacceptable. For example, we know of this gold mine in Tanzania that belongs to a Canadian company which was granted a political risk insurance by the Export Development Corporation.

The mine was apparently put at the disposal of the Canadian company following a massive eviction of artisanal miners. There are even allegations by Tanzanian lawyers which were made public here in Canada to the effect that, as part of this massive eviction operation--and we are talking about hundreds of thousands of people--there were artisanal miners who were buried alive in their mine. These are allegations.

I take this opportunity to mention that the NDP leader asked a question in this House concerning this extremely disturbing case. In his reply, the Minister for International Trade referred to the fact that Amnesty International had investigated the matter, but had not found evidence supporting the allegations made by human rights lawyers, particularly Tanzanian lawyers.

However, in its annual report for the year 2000, Amnesty International says that, based on the documents provided to it by the Tanzanian police, it was not able to come to a conclusion regarding this issue, and it is asking for an independent, international investigation to shed light on these events.

Contrary to what the minister told us, probably in good faith, not only did Amnesty International not come to a conclusion regarding these extremely disturbing and dramatic facts, but it is also asking--as we are--for an independent, international investigation to shed light on all these events.

Be that as it may, the Export Development Corporation continues to proceed as if it were business as usual.

In order to correct this situation, I proposed a number of amendments in committee, which I will mention.

These amendments basically deal with clause 10.(1) and seek to correct a number of flaws relating to this clause and to make appropriate related changes. I will discuss clause 10.1

For example, absolutely no reference is made to the EDC's responsibility to take into account not only environmental effects, but also social effects and, more globally, human and other rights provided for in international agreements.

I therefore proposed that, to this clause, be added a point that would clarify the mandate of Export Development Corporation. The amendment read as follows:

The Corporation is established for the purposes of supporting and developing, directly or indirectly, Canada's export trade and Canadian capacity to engage in that trade and to respond to international business opportunities in keeping with Canada's international commitments.

It strikes me as perfectly normal that a crown corporation would honour commitments made by the government internationally, especially in the area of human rights and basic labour rights.

Believe it or not, the Liberal members of the committee rejected this amendment. It is difficult to understand how the federal government makes commitments on Canada's and Canadians' behalf, and indirectly still on behalf of Quebecers, and then does not want to require its own corporations to honour these commitments. We are indeed talking about international commitments, that is conventions, treaties and charters ratified by the Canadian government.

I have to say I was quite disillusioned about the scope of the work Canada can do internationally, if it is not prepared to have its crown corporations honour the commitments it itself makes. How is it going to get private firms and multinationals based in Canada to honour these commitments?

So my first disappointment was at the rejection of such an obvious amendment, which was later reformulated by the member for Burnaby--Douglas, in fact. Twice, we have tried to get this element, a simple matter of common sense, passed, and twice the Liberal members have rejected it. That was the first great disappointment.

As I said in my presentation, the environmental frame of reference that the Export Development Corporation has set for itself is inadequate. It fails to honour this environmental framework it set for itself. It is therefore incapable of self-regulation.

Paragraph (2) of the famous clause 10 reads as follows:

The Board shall issue a directive respecting the determination referred to in subsection (1)--

That is the assessment of environmental effects.

--, which directive may

(a) define the words and expressions that the Board considers necessary for the application of that subsection, including the words and expressions “transaction”, “project”, “adverse environmental effects” and “mitigation measures”;

(b) establish the criteria that the Corporation must apply in making the determination:

(c) establish exceptions specifically or by any class, as defined by the Board, to the Corporation's obligation to make the determination.

It is therefore not an obligation. The Export Development Corporation can define its own terms of reference. It beats me how there can be environmental terms of reference without some sort of minimal definition of words such as transaction, project, adverse environmental effects and mitigation measures.

I therefore proposed an amendment to Bill C-31 to define these various terms. People must know what they are talking about when they refer to impact on the environment. Without reading the amendment in its entirety, I will convey the gist of it by reading what strikes me as the most important term, environmental effects, because this has to do with a framework for assessing environmental effects. I suggested this definition to the committee:

environmental effects means any change that the project may cause in the environment, including any effect of any such change on health and socio-economic conditions--

It is very clear to me that when one refers to environmental effects, one is also referring to socio-economic effects:

on the current use of lands and resources by local communities, on any structure, site or thing that is of historical, archaeological...importance--

As the House can see, it is a very straightforward definition. The definitions are borrowed from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. We therefore did not rebuild the wheel; we used what was already available. I also borrowed the definition of environment, environmental assessment, mitigation and project.

Here again, I was astonished, because it is only common sense that if a crown corporation adopts environmental terms of reference, there should at least be agreement on the terminology used to make an assessment.

Once again, the Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade rejected this amendment. I am still wondering what logic they could have used, unless it was a form of anti-opposition sectarianism.

A second amendment was therefore rejected. Its purpose was merely to define the terms on which we must work and agree on so that when the auditor general and parliamentarians are called upon to assess the work of this crown corporation, they will know where we are coming from.

As I said, I believe definitions are necessary, but we ought to have at least been able to expect to find the bill stating that the corporation “must” define a certain number of criteria, and make these definitions public in order to open them up to public debate. It seems, however, that the government side of this House prefers to lend to this bill the same secrecy as reigns within this crown corporation, the EDC, at the present time.

As I said earlier, not only are definitions lacking, but the frame of reference for assessments is flawed as well.

All that is stated in clause 10.1 is the following:

10.1(1) Before entering, in the exercise of its powers under subsection 10(1.1), into a transaction that is related to a project, the Corporation must determine, in accordance with the directive referred to in subsection (2),

(a) whether the project is likely to have adverse environmental effects despite the implementation of mitigation measures; and

(b) if such is the case, whether the Corporation is justified in entering into the transaction.

Hon. members can see that this is far too weak a directive from the legislator. I therefore took the liberty of submitting to the committee a far clearer, and far more complete, environmental assessment procedure.

In connection with the first element of this procedure, what I proposed--not just what is stated here about looking to see whether there are likely to be adverse environmental effects--what I proposed was for the corporation to be required to carry out an environmental assessment before exercising its power to assess a project against a series of criteria, such as environmental assessment, or the development and implementation of a program for follow up. Then the environmental effects must be determined, along with the extent of these effects. Comments from the local population must be obtained. And are the mitigation measures technically and economically feasible?

Furthermore, the rationale behind the bill is important. There are the alternative solutions and the requirement for a follow up program. Those are all self-evident criteria for the evaluation of any project.

The corporation carries out the environmental assessment, prepares a report and sends it to the Minister for International Trade. On the basis of that report, the corporation takes one of the following measures, depending on the environmental assessment: it decides either to go ahead with the project or not to support the project because its environmental impact would be negative. In that case,however, what is EDC to do? It is not really clear; there is a grey area? Can the corporation be judge and defendant? I do not think so. It seems to me that in such a case the Minister for International Trade has a responsibility and a role to play.

I was suggesting that, whenever it is unclear whether the adverse environmental effects outweigh the value of a project, the corporation should ask the Minister for International Trade to decide. If the corporation considers that even after the implementation of appropriate mitigation measures, the project might have serious adverse environmental effects, it should refer the matter to the minister.

If a project is likely to have major adverse environmental effects despite the implementation of mitigation measures and if the previous clause does not apply, the EDC refers to the minister, provided the concerns of local populations justify such a measure.

This is an environmental frame of reference that leaves a lot of leeway to the Export Development Corporation, while defining rules that everyone would know and understand.

Under Bill C-31, the corporation will set for itself the rules that it wants. It will decide whether or not it will comply with these rules.

Finally, in the same amendment, I proposed including two small provisions whereby the corporation would have to disclose, in the 45 days prior to the conclusion of an agreement, information on the projects in which it is involved. This information was to include the name of the borrower, the host country of the project, the environmental and social concerns of local populations, the value of the project and the conditions relating to financial support.

If we want Canadians and Quebecers, international solidarity organizations and any interested party to be able to express their own views on the evaluations to be made before supporting a project, the public must be informed of the existence of the project.

Finally, we proposed that no provision in the Privacy Act or the Access to Information Act should have the effect of preventing or restricting the disclosure of the information mentioned in the previous paragraphs, to which I just referred. This is a fundamental flaw in Bill C-31. Nothing is done to give Canadians and Quebecers access to information on the management of the Export Development Corporation.

It will obviously be no surprise to anyone if I say that the Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade voted against this amendment, which, as I mentioned, was drawn from internationally known rules. More specifically, I drew on the rules of the World Bank. We were not starting a revolution in committee by proposing such amendments, but it was rejected. Once again, I have a hard time understanding the reasons.

Finally, in light of the criticism raised about the governance of the Export Development Corporation, I cited three or four damning reports, but the evidence of representatives of NGOs, groups and individuals before the standing committee should have been heard. They raised questions of considerable concern.

I think that, to wait until the auditor general looks into the EDC's operations every five years, is to give the corporation far too much latitude, especially with what is contained in the rest of Bill C-31. There is practically nothing there to really structure the work of this crown corporation. If an audit is done only every five years, the Export Development Corporation will have time to do a lot of damage.

Some guideline must be set in terms of time so that in the next two years, the auditor general will be able to report on management methods subsequent to the passage of this bill on the Export Development Corporation.

Did it make the changes the Canadian and Quebec public were expecting? Did it support projects consistent with our laws and concepts of sustainable development in environmental terms? Did it support projects that promoted fundamental rights or, conversely, did it help to further destroy our planet and further erode the rights of workers and people in countries in the southern hemisphere?

In my opinion, five years is too long a time. I therefore proposed an amendment to enable the auditor general to examine the governance of the Export Development Corporation.

Once again, no one will be surprised to hear me say that the Liberal members voted against this amendment, which makes good sense.

The legislation is therefore still hollow. Bill C-31 does not address any of the concerns repeatedly mentioned by committees, groups, individuals, and Canadians and Quebecers. The bill is nothing more than a surface attempt to give the impression that the federal government has listened to the criticisms and made the necessary changes.

It has not. Unfortunately, I do not have enough time to go through the whole bill but as soon as the surface is scratched, the bill's hollowness becomes apparent.

I think the criticisms of the Export Development Corporation in recent years will not end, even with a name change. On the contrary, they will increase. Why? Because for a few months, or weeks, now, the public, not just in Canada and Quebec, but in the entire western world, has understood that trade is not the only thing that matters when it comes to assessing support for corporations such as the Export Development Corporation, or for agreements and international treaties.

Human and environmental considerations, as well as considerations of democratic rights, are now vital. And this is not the first time. It was the same with the debate on the Canada--Costa Rica free trade agreement. The Canadian government had no suggestions to make regarding human rights, environmental rights or democratic rights.

Frankly, Bill C-31 is just like Bill C-32. The government is plowing ahead as though there had been no change in public opinion in Canada and Quebec, as though the economy is more important than the values of Canadians and Quebecers.

I was also surprised that the bill contained no proposal to create a position of ombudsman, although this was repeatedly recommended, both by government committees and by parliamentary committees.

There is therefore nothing in this bill that meets the expectations of the Bloc Quebecois or of Canadians or Quebecers. We will therefore have no choice but to vote against Bill C-31.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

October 25th, 2001 / 3:25 p.m.
See context


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, discussions have taken place among all parties and there is an agreement pursuant to Standing Order 45(7) to further defer the recorded division just requested on third reading of Bill C-32 until the end of government orders on Tuesday, October 30.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

October 25th, 2001 / 3:05 p.m.
See context


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I am happy to continue the debate where my colleague from Burnaby--Douglas left off on Bill C-32, an act to implement the free trade agreement between the Government of Canada and the government of the Republic of Costa Rica.

In listening to the debate earlier I felt offended that members of the Canadian Alliance lobbed at the members of NDP that somehow we were nitpicking and attaching our debate to small things, such as defending the rights of workers, whether they were in Costa Rica, Canada or any other country. As the debate continued, the parliamentary secretary wanted to know why the NDP was opposed to helping one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere. Presumably he meant Costa Rica.

The NDP is absolutely in favour of helping one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere. In fact, this party has had a very proud and long tradition of promoting international solidarity, economic investment and aid and development. We have pressed the government to meet its commitments through the red book and in other areas over many years.

However the debate today is really about who this trade agreement will help. I would challenge the parliamentary secretary to produce the evidence as to how this particular free trade agreement will help poor people in Costa Rica or, for that matter, workers in Canada.

Like other members in the House, I have also received information from workers and management from Rogers Sugar which is located in my riding of Vancouver East. I want to tell members of the House, particularly the government members, that there is a huge concern about the impact of this trade agreement on Canadian companies and the sugar industry.

In June of this year I met with a joint delegation of labour and management representatives from Rogers Sugar. Anyone who knows about labour management issues will know that it is not usual for labour and management to come together. However in this case it was a joint delegation because the several hundred people who work at the plants as well as the management of Rogers Sugar are very concerned about the impact of this agreement.

In fact when they wrote the Prime Minister to express their concern they received the following response. In a letter dated April 26, the Prime Minister said that in any free trade negotiation it was necessary for each side to consider compromises in the interest of reaching an agreement which was fair overall. In the case of Costa Rica, Canada recognized that the differences in the level of development of our two countries would need to be reflected in the final agreement.

He then went on to say that the agreement negotiated provided opportunities for exporters in both countries to explore new markets, including opportunities for some Canadian sugar exporters to sell to Costa Rica.

This is absolutely contrary to the evidence and information that has come before us. The fact is that if the tariff were eliminated, Canadian refineries would be exposed to competition from Costa Rican refineries without the prospect of better access to that market for our exporters, contrary to what the Prime Minister said.

The reality is there is virtually no market for refined sugar in Costa Rica or elsewhere in central America. Granting duty free entry for refined sugar from Costa Rica and we believe, eventually from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and especially Guatemala, will end up eliminating a significant portion of a long-standing Canadian industry. We have to be incredibly concerned about that.

If we could look at what the NDP has articulated in its position, it is precisely because of this race to the bottom. It is another example of the lowest common denominator approach that opens the door to job flight from countries, such as Canada, where there are tougher, more progressive legislation.

It is not just about protecting jobs in Canada, although that is very important. It is also about protecting and encouraging high quality jobs in other parts of the world. We have heard a lot of debate today in the House about how this agreement will lift people out of poverty. We heard from the Alliance that globalization has moved people out of poverty. We heard that the trickle down theory is working very well.

Again, there is ample evidence to suggest that these trade agreements have done nothing to improve the lives of working people. These trade agreements have done nothing to improve the quality of our environment or the quality of social conditions that exist in many countries.

Members of the NDP take a very principled stand. This is not about being opposed to trade agreements per se on any grounds. It is about being in favour of trade agreements that protect our environment, that protect quality social conditions for people and that enshrine and protect worker rights.

To go back to the situation in Costa Rica, because that is the agreement before us, one of the things we should be concerned about is the development of export processing zones in Costa Rica, of which there are nine. One thing that is taking place, particularly in the textile industry, is that companies increasingly are hiring workers at home where they are not protected by labour laws nor are they covered by social security, holidays or job security.

We have to ask critically whether the agreement actually is helping one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere or whether it is conferring greater rights for greater profits for large corporations. Basically the workers get left behind at home with absolutely no protection.

There is information on the record, and it is available for any member to see, that private sector employers have ignored the ILO recommendations that workers, particularly in the private sector, have been denied the right to organize. They have been denied the right to basic, safe working conditions. They have been denied the right to decent wages.

It becomes very clear that the trade agreement is not in the interests of poor people in those countries. It is not in the interests of protecting our environment. I feel proud that as an NDP caucus we understand this and stand in solidarity with international labour movements, with the labour movement in Canada and with NGOs that have done analysis on this and have participated in things like the people's summit at the summit of the Americas in Quebec City and the people's summit in Vancouver at the APEC conference.

It is through those forums that the issues affecting workers have come to the forefront. As we know, that debate has not taken place in the House. We raise day after day the fact that the summit of the Americas was not brought forward to the House for any kind of democratic vote. These agreements affect all of us. They affect our local communities and the workers in my riding of East Vancouver but the House has not participated in any kind of democratic vote about whether or not we should be adopting the FTAA for example.

The NDP is not nitpicking. The NDP is not opposing the agreement because we are opposed to free trade or any trade agreement. We are opposing this agreement because we see it as nothing more than continuing the sellout of Canada. We see it as a continuation of a policy from the government that actually is abandoning the basic human rights and the basic human dignity of workers in Costa Rica.

I am very glad that the workers I met with from Rogers Sugar understood that they were standing in support of the workers in Costa Rica. They did not see it as just an issue of protecting their jobs and their turf. They understood that this race to the bottom not only affected them but also the workers in those other countries.

I am glad the NDP is opposing this trade agreement. It is a bad trade agreement both for workers in Canada and for workers in those countries.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

October 25th, 2001 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I thank the deputy opposition House leader for her question.

I will report to the House that this afternoon we will complete third reading of Bill C-32, assuming we can complete this legislation, which is the Costa Rica trade bill. A little later today there will also be a royal assent on Bill S-23, which is important for national security.

On Friday we will debate report stage and third reading of Bill C-34, the transport tribunal bill.

Monday shall be an allotted day.

On Tuesday we will debate report stage and third reading of Bill C-31, the export development bill. This will be followed by a motion respecting the name of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

On Wednesday we will debate second reading of the Air Canada bill that was introduced earlier this day.

On Thursday we hope to deal with report stage of Bill C-10, respecting marine parks.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

October 25th, 2001 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Calgary East for allowing me to share his time. I am pleased to rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on Bill C-32 regarding the proposed free trade agreement between Canada and Costa Rica.

The free trade agreement implementation act tries to lay out the terms for a free trade agreement between our two countries by gradually eliminating trade barriers in goods and services. The bill follows the free trade agreement with Chile in 1997 as well as NAFTA in 1994. One of its stated purposes is to promote regional integration through an instrument that contributes to the establishment of the free trade area of the Americas, commonly called FTAA. It could be the first of several of these agreements with the other countries of South and Central America.

Eighty per cent of what Costa Rica already exports to Canada enters Canada duty free. Already our bilateral trade with Costa Rica has had an annual growth of 6% in the last five years with a 7% increase in exports and a 5% increase in imports. The agreement would further accelerate that growth. Canada is looking to expand its market for goods and services, many of which currently face high tariffs when exported to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is not the problem, but the main risk is if this provision is extended to the CA-4 countries, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. That is where I see a threat because of their refining capacity and because of the subsidies given by the governments in those countries. The domestic sugar industry has been asked to make representation at the House of Commons committee and to offer amendments to the proposed legislation.

After the bill was debated in committee some of our concerns were addressed. I opposed the bill at second reading. I commend some of the improvements made at committee because of the pressure from the official opposition, the Canadian Alliance members.

The bill now appears to support the Canadian Alliance policy regarding free trade. Reduction of tariffs should be done in stages, in step with other countries and not unilaterally. Canada reduced its tariffs prematurely on grain and this created many problems, as all of us know.

There is a concern that the government is putting our sugar industry at risk in order to reduce completely unjustified high Costa Rican tariffs on french fries and selected other exports.

We have one of the most open sugar markets in the world, with an import tariff on raw sugar at just zero and a tariff on refined sugar at only 8%. United States and Latin American tariffs on sugar range from 50% to 160%. For our domestic needs Canada produces enough refined sugar. In terms of exports, our only really viable market is the United States, which imposes strict quotas of 12,000 tonnes of sugar per year.

Other countries like Costa Rica hit us with very hefty tariffs when we export sugar to their countries. For example, Guatemala has a 160% tariff on sugar imports.

Canada currently has three sugar refineries to process raw sugar which, by the way, is down from seven 20 years ago. The Canadian domestic sugar industry employs about 2,000 Canadians. A 111 year old company, Rogers Sugar, in B.C., supports the livelihoods of 650 people and stands a chance that it will lose under this agreement.

As a footnote to the debate, the people of British Columbia have already been hurt through the government's bungling of softwood lumber, tomato dumping, the mining industry, fisheries, tourism, the film industry and some others.

Also losing may be some 450 farmers producing 140,000 tonnes of sugar each year, and we know that our farmers are already in desperate shape.

Rogers Sugar currently injects close to $100 million into the Canadian economy through its operations in Vancouver and Taber, Alberta, providing high quality employment to their employees. Some people from my constituency are employed there as well.

Costa Rica does not currently use refined sugar so there is no possible benefit to Canada on this score.

There are some concerns that this agreement may stifle the operation of market forces by giving Costa Rica more access to Canada than Canada gets to Costa Rica. Trade should not only be free but also fair.

As we all know, a balanced free trade agreement usually helps to raise the standard of living for both partners through increased competitiveness and lower prices. Free trade, when done right, leads to lower prices for consumers. Who benefits? It is the consumer who benefits. Free trade must provide our firms with a level playing field in bilateral trading relationships with Costa Rica. Markets work best where government intervenes least. When the government does intervene, it must try to promote fairness and look at the whole web of Canada's trade relations with other countries. We cannot afford to be shortsighted. We must look at the big picture.

As I mentioned, though, the agreement does more than open the door for the exchange of goods and services with Costa Rica. It may act as a model for the whole FTAA framework. Regional trade agreements such as the FTAA should not conflict with our WTO agreements.

Despite the bill hurting our sugar industry somewhat, this agreement seems to be a step forward on several other levels. It includes some side agreements on the environment and labour. It demonstrates that free trade agreements can be negotiated between larger and smaller economies.

Canada has about $500 million invested in Costa Rica. The improved access that we hope to gain with this FTA will give Canadian businesses an edge over foreign competitors who do not have preferential access to the Costa Rican market. We are getting access to the market. This market access will benefit about 90% of Canada's current agriculture and agrifood exports, so that is a big benefit.

Also, Canada exports goods and services of close to 45% of our GDP, which is almost half of our GDP. This is a high proportion in comparison to our major trading partners, so our success in international trade is important to sustain our Canadian economy, particularly during this time. Many SMEs, small and medium sized enterprises, in Canada depend on trade and the foreign market for their success and growth.

Therefore I look forward to the bill and I will be supporting Bill C-32 at this stage.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

October 25th, 2001 / 1:20 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on Bill C-32, the implementation of the free trade agreement between the Government of Canada and the government of the Republic of Costa Rica.

Time after time the Canadian Alliance has said it is in favour of free trade. In that context we see this agreement as one step forward in the implementation of free trade, which we feel is the route to go for the prosperity of Canada.

I will be splitting my time, Mr. Speaker, with the member for Surrey Central.

One of the concerns raised by members on this side of the House was the impact on the domestic sugar industry. I am pleased to note that an agreement was reached in committee to say that this model would not be applied throughout the other free trade agreements, which paves the way for the Alliance to support the bill.

Our concern for the sugar industry still remains regarding future trade agreements that Canada might sign. We are putting the Minister for International Trade on notice that if future trade agreements are signed they should be more balanced in the interests of both countries.

I want to talk in general about free trade in the world and globalization. I just returned with the minister from the APEC conference in Shanghai last week where an interesting paper was presented by the government of Australia called “Globalization and Poverty”. I hope my colleagues from the NDP and others will listen carefully to what the research said.

I will quote some statements from the document:

Globalisation --in the form of increased economic integration through trade and investment--is an important reason why so much progress has been made against poverty and global inequality over recent decades.

Good national policies,sound institutions and domestic political stability are also reducing poverty.

Up to 1.2 billion people of the developing world's 4.8 billion people still live in extreme poverty, but the proportion of the world population living in poverty has been steadily declining. Since 1988 the absolute number of poor people has stopped rising and appears to have fallen in recent years despite strong population growth in poor countries.

If the proportion living in poverty had not fallen, since 1987 alone a further 215 million people would be living in extreme poverty today. There is very strong evidence here. The very poorest countries now represent less than 8% of the world total population compared with just over 45% in 1970.

The Australian document went on to say:

Most progress has taken place in developing countries that have reformed their policies, institutions and infrastructure to become the ‘new globalisers’...During the 1990s their growth in gross domestic product per person was 5 per cent a year compared with 2 per cent of the rich countries... But far more serious problems confront the countries that have not integrated with the global economy--countries that account for up to 2 billion people. Often experiencing internal conflict and suffering poor government anti-business policies and low participation in international trade, these countries have not joined the process of globalisation, with the consequences of slowly growing incomes or even declining incomes and rising poverty.

The document says quite clearly that evidence produced over the last decade shows that globalization and free trade have been major instruments in moving people out of poverty, specifically in Asian countries. This is clear evidence why it is important to have free trade in the world.

The member for Churchill gave one example when she talked about 200 women who lost their lives while travelling. Yes, that is a tragic consequence. However, in the overall context of the situation, we must look at the bigger picture that has propelled people to move out.

The problem with these anti-globalization protestors, and the NDP, is they nitpick. The loss of 200 lives is extremely important, I am not saying that it is not. However, they nitpick small little things to put up barriers against free trade and globalization. Evidence shows that the majority of people have moved from the poor sections of the economy to better living standards.

In the APEC conference, which I attended with the Minister for International Trade, every country there talked about moving their economies into the global market. After years of experimenting with other forms, they see that as one of the key factors in helping their countries to move out poverty and improve the living standards of their citizens.

Twenty-one countries cannot be wrong, can they? They have looked hard at the results. They are the ones that have been governing for years. Yet we have the anti-globalization led by the NDP, that is the new mantra these days of anti-globalization, putting up barriers, supposedly for these poor people. I do not know for whom they talk.

All I know is that most of these NGOs and anti-globalization protestors, who supposedly live in rich countries and have great living standards, are trying to impose their will on other countries that want to improve their standard of living. The anti-globalization protestors are putting up barriers to stop the same people who they are trying to help, when all economic indicators and research point to the fact that free trade has assisted them in moving forward. I do not understand why the NDP is picking up that mantra.

In conclusion, the Canadian Alliance will support Bill C-32 in the context that free trade has been one of the engines of prosperity for Canada.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

October 25th, 2001 / 12:50 p.m.
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Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-32, the Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement implementation act, must be examined in the context of the debate that has already taken place regarding the current process for negotiating a free trade area of the Americas and in the context where clearly we are in the midst of a globalization process. I believe that the exchange we just witnessed between the NDP member and the Canadian Alliance member demonstrates this fact.

Currently it is clear that the Canadian government's strategy consists of multiplying bilateral agreements to speed up the process of economic integration with the continent and with the world.

We already have a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, NAFTA. We have a free trade agreement with Israel, and another one with Chile. This weekend the Prime Minister announced that there would be negotiations for an agreement with Singapore. We also know that the government is interested in negotiating a free trade agreement with four Central American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade recommended that the government enter into negotiations with the European Union to establish a free trade agreement.

This then is the context in which we must look at the bill before us, regardless of whether we are friends with Costa Rica or not. I think it is clear that the people of Canada, like those of Quebec, are friends of the Costa Ricans. This is not the issue. The issue is what is we are getting in the Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement.

I think the position of the Bloc Quebecois on free trade, like that of most Quebecers, is well known. We support it. We think it is an excellent idea because it encourages countries, by opening their borders, to specialize according to the advantages they enjoy such as natural resources, human resources or capital. This increases the general productivity of our economies. What I mean by productivity is not working intensely, but more effectively, more intelligently. All of this generates additional wealth, which can then be shared, and the problem often lies here, in the equitable distribution of the resultant wealth.

We must face the fact. The world has never been as rich as it is now. At no other time in recorded history has the world been as rich. At the same time, we must acknowledge that globalization and free trade agreements have not reduced the gap between the rich and the poor. Quite the contrary, they have widened it. A certain set of qualifications and a certain mobility are needed to benefit from globalization, free trade and specialization. Unskilled workers, as this is all the more apparent in industrialized economies, are unemployed and underemployed, in unacceptable working conditions and living in poverty.

The same can be said for regions. If free trade is not guided by a number of rules about the creation of this wealth across the continent or worldwide, inequalities among regions and among various classes of people within countries will grow. Accordingly, all aspects of our life must be taken into consideration, not just the economic issues more directly linked by trade agreements, but also the various social, environmental, cultural and democratic aspects. If they are not considered we may end up, under the guise of improving economic activity, creating inequalities, eradicating cultures and violating democratic rights.

Returning to the hockey analogy, although I unfortunately missed the beginning of it, I again congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your son's choice.

At this time, the professional teams and leagues have systems to try to level out disparities. If the top team had its choice of players during the selection process, not only would their team keep getting better but the one in the cellar would stay there. Professional hockey leagues have therefore come up with a plan to share player talent around more fairly by letting the bottom team in the rankings have first choice.

This of the same sort of philosophical approach we would like to see used by the Government of Canada in the free trade agreements, particularly in negotiations for the FTAA, as well as in the upcoming WTO negotiations.

Unfortunately there was nothing on this in the Canada-Costa Rica agreement. The Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement is a first generation agreement, as is NAFTA, as are those with Chile and Israel. It does not take the social, democratic and environmental dimensions into consideration.

The only new reference I was able to find in this agreement is one to the WTO declaration of 1998 on fundamental rights. This reference, however, has no mechanism for application.

We must take into account these economic, social and environmental concerns. Quebecers and Canadians should have been consulted in a meaningful manner, but this was not done. All that was put at their disposal was a website where they could make comments. Some groups did receive 18 months ago a letter from the Minister for International Trade inviting them to express their views. However, no systematic consultation process was set up. At no time were parliamentarians involved in the process. Now the government is coming up with an agreement that is presented to us as a fait accompli, expecting us to blindly pass the implementing act. We will not.

I hope that the federal government will realize that it can never again put parliamentarians, Canadians and Quebecers before a fait accompli.

In this case and in future ones, if there is no true consultation process that includes parliamentarians, civil society and all Canadians and Quebecers, we will vote against these free trade agreements out of respect for our democracy.

The first fundamental flaw of the whole process leading to this agreement is that it was not transparent. Negotiations were not conducted following a monitoring of the whole process by parliamentarians.

The second element which in our opinion is a serious mistake in the Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement is the investment clause.

In its documentation, the Minister for International Trade tells us that nothing is changed in terms of investment and services. I realize that nothing has changed regarding investment and services. An agreement had already been negotiated in 1998 between the Government of Costa Rica and the government of Canada for the promotion and protection of investments.

In the Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement, reference is made to this previous agreement. Under the provision on investment, article VIII.2 reads, and I quote:

The Parties note the existence of the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Costa Rica for the Promotion and Protection of Investments, signed in San José, Costa Rica, on March 18, 1998.

When we take a look at the 1998 agreement, what do we see? We see that the provisions of NAFTA's chapter 11, which we condemned here and the Minister for International Trade said he wanted to change, are all there.

I would remind the House that in the debate we led and are continuing to lead for the negotiation of the free trade area of the Americas, we do not want to see investment protection provisions similar to those in chapter 11 of NAFTA, which give multinationals and private corporations too many rights over governments, states and the democratic will of peoples.

There were many problems with chapter 11, but I will mention just four: the definition of investments, which is far too broad; national treatment, which means that we cannot have a specific policy to further the economic development of a particular sector; the concept of expropriation, which is far too broad; and finally, the dispute settlement mechanism, which allows a company to go directly to an arbitration tribunal to challenge a government decision or policy. The agreement between the government of the Republic of Costa Rica and the Government of Canada contains these same provisions to promote and protect investments.

I will take the example of investments. The agreement reads as follows:

(g ) “investment” means any kind of asset owned or controlled either directly, or indirectly through an enterprise or natural person of a third State, by an investor of one Contracting Party in the territory of the other Contracting Party in accordance with the latter's laws and, in particular, though not exclusively, includes:

(i) movable and immovable property and any related property rights, such as mortgages, liens--;

(ii) shares, stock, bonds and debentures--;

(iii) money, claims to money--;

The list goes on.

The definition of investment is far too broad in the Canada-Costa Rica agreement, and it is inspired by the NAFTA definition.

Now as for the national treatment provisions, there is exactly the same clause as in chapter 11 and for expropriation exactly the same type of definition. I will quote from article VIII:

  1. Investments of investors of either Contracting Party shall not be nationalized, expropriated or subjected to measures having an effect equivalent to nationalization or expropriation--

This is rather broad. Finally, as far as dispute settlement is concerned, I will quote from article XII:

  1. If a dispute has not been settled amicably within a period of six months from the date on which it was initiated, it may be submitted by the investor to arbitration in accordance with paragraph (4).

Chapter 11 is found indirectly within the Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement and runs contrary to the commitments made by the Minister for International Trade when he stated that he did not want to see any equivalent of chapter 11 in the treaty on the free trade area of the Americas.

The final element that makes this agreement with Costa Rica unacceptable is the matter of sugar, as has been stated already.

In this case, there has been a unilateral liberalization of the sugar market on the part of the Canadian government without anything corresponding being done on the other side by Costa Rica or any of the other Central American governments that will follow later. There is no way I will be convinced that in agreements with Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras or El Salvador we will have what is not in the free trade agreement with Costa Rica.

In the case of Costa Rica under the agreement, the doors are now open to selling in Canada, with no applicable tariff, over 20,000 tonnes of refined sugar starting in 2003, and the volume involved will have no limits starting in 2009.

Canada is one of the countries, if not the country, that is most open to sugar imports. There is no tariff on raw sugar and there is a $30.84 tariff on refined sugar, which is the equivalent of 8%. Our price for sugar is one of the lowest in the world, whereas the U.S. and the European Union have many protectionist measures that resultsn distorted prices on the world level.

In Central American countries such as Guatemala, the tariffs on refined sugar may be as high as 160%. We are opening up our market while there are no market opportunities for Canada in these economies. The previous speaker mentioned this and I agree with him.

The United States is the obvious market for our refined sugar industries, but there is so much protectionism that even though they consume ten times more sugar than Canada they import less.

The four countries of Central America that I mentioned produce 2.8 million tonnes of raw sugar, of which 1.6 million tonnes, half, is exported. Three hundred thousand tonnes of that is refined sugar. In total Canada consumes approximately 1.2 million tonnes.

Guatemala, for example, currently produces and exports 1.1 million tonnes of sugar per year or the equivalent of our annual consumption. In 2000, Canada imported 273,000 tonnes of raw sugar from Central America, compared to our exports of 110,000 tonnes, under the quota, to the United States, a country that consumes ten times more sugar than we do, as I mentioned earlier.

Our industry is competitive, but in a market where there is no price distortion. On the world market and in the United States and Europe, where protectionist measures are in place, such distortion exists. I refuse to believe that there will be a market for Canadian refined sugar in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Why? Because of the rule of origin.

We would have to import raw sugar from Central American countries and refine it in Canada in order to sell it back to these countries. The transportation costs alone explain why it would be difficult to sell this sugar, notwithstanding the fact that they produce raw sugar themselves,and could develop their own refining capability.

In Montreal, 345 jobs are being threatened. This may not seem like a lot to the Minister for International Trade, but in the Montreal area, particularly in these troubled economic times, these are jobs we want to keep.

Why were the opinions of industry, the unions and opposition parties not taken into consideration on this issue, if “it is not true”, as the Minister for International Trade said?

I personally presented an amendment to the Sub-Committee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment to make sure that this provision would not be included in the future. It is true that in the current context Costa Rica is not a threat, but Guatemala is.

I presented an amendment to make sure that in future free trade agreements with Central American countries we would not have the provision that is included in this one. That amendment was rejected by the Liberals. Now they would have us believe that they care about the 345 workers at Montreal's Lantic Sugar. Come on.

I think this provision should have been left out of the agreement. We must negotiate the liberalization of the sugar market. My proposal to the Minister for International Trade is to put this item on the agenda at the negotiations on the free trade area of the Americas and also at the WTO. We want the liberalization of sugar at least at the continental level, if not at the world level, so that Canadian and Quebec businesses that are competitive can compete in a fair market in terms of the practices used.

Because of these three elements, namely the lack of transparency during the negotiations, the fact that chapter 11 is indirectly included through the agreement for the promotion and protection of investments, and the fact that Canada's refined sugar industry is put in jeopardy, the Bloc Quebecois will vote against Bill C-32.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

October 25th, 2001 / 12:35 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Lethbridge for the great speech. He made a great case for why, while we support free trade, we do have some concerns about the pattern we see developing with respect to how we treat sugar when it comes to dealing with the CA-4 countries in upcoming trade negotiations.

I want to start out by talking about free trade more broadly and simply make the point that free trade does raise the standard of living for all people. It does provide better working conditions. It does ultimately lead to a cleaner environment. It leads to higher wages. Everybody benefits when we engage in free trade.

Canada is a trading nation. Forty-three per cent of our GDP comes from trade. Canada, better than most nations and perhaps better than just about any nation in the world, understands the benefits of free and unfettered trade. It leaves people better off and provides higher standards of living, all those sorts of things.

While my NDP friends talk on the one hand about their belief that trade is good, on the other hand what we always see from them is rhetoric suggesting that trade is a disaster. I have yet to see the NDP members support any kind of trade arrangement. I do not think they have ever supported one, and that is unfortunate because in the countries they are concerned about, Costa Rica in this case, trade arrangements will allow those people, who in some cases are very poor, to become much wealthier. It raises their standard of living.

Probably the best example recently is Mexico when we entered into the NAFTA agreement. Mexico has seen its middle class increase dramatically. After years of having very wealthy people and a very large group of poor people, Mexico is now starting to see its middle class develop.

We have seen that same process occur in other countries. One of the best examples is India where a couple of hundred million people have now become part of the middle class. This has happened in many other countries around the world. Free trade is a very good thing.

The NDP member for Churchill who spoke earlier suggested that sometimes trade can be compared to hockey where all the talented players are on one side and the players who are not so good are on the other. She suggested that sometimes a big country will dominate a little country like a big team will dominate a little team in hockey. As I pointed out to her, the difference is that in hockey when one team wins the other team loses and the team that wins takes the two points and goes on to the next game. In trade both sides come out ahead because it is a voluntary exchange. The analogy I used was that if someone produces a hammer and sells it for $10, the person who buys it is happy because he or she gets a hammer and can use it for something useful. The person who gets the $10 for the hammer is happy because he or she can use it for whatever. In essence, that is what trade is all about. Both sides come out ahead.

The member for Churchill offered some examples that are simply not the case. She wanted to know what would happen if some got 20 cents for it. I would say that the person is probably happy to get 20 cents if he or she were only getting 10 cents for whatever they produced before. People enter into these things voluntarily. They enter into them because it leaves them better off. Surely the member for Churchill wants to see people better off.

I want to talk specifically about Bill C-32, the Costa Rica free trade legislation.

As my friend said at the outset, we believe in this but we do have concerns about the sugar component. Why? Is it because we do not believe in free trade? We do believe in free trade, but the problem is that Canada is being opened up to the import of sugar from all kinds of countries, not necessarily through Bill C-32, because Costa Rica at this point does not have the capacity to send us refined sugar, but we are concerned that it might be a template for what will happen when we enter into negotiations with the CA-4 countries, like Guatemala, which have a big capacity to export refined sugar.

The concern is not that we would have that sugar coming here but that we also have access to the U.S. market. The U.S. is Canada's natural export market, but in the last number of years Canada's ability to export sugar has declined.

We produce sugar in this country. A lot of people do not appreciate that. There is a sugar beet industry in my riding and in the riding of my friend from Lethbridge. It produces a lot of very good sugar. Our sugar producers can compete with anyone in the United States which also produces a lot of beet sugar. We can compete with any of them. We have an excellent facility in Taber, Alberta, that has just been upgraded. Several million dollars have been put into it. We can compete.

The problem is that the Americans are protectionist on sugar and our government has not been able to crack that open. Not only has it been unable to crack open the American market, the amount of sugar we export to the U.S. market has shrunk from 55,000 tonnes a few years ago to 15,000 tonnes today.

In the end it is the decision of Americans. However the government has not done a good job of looking after the interests of our sugar producers. It has not made it a priority. The reason it has not done so is that it is a relatively small industry compared to, for instance, the supply management industries.

The government gets heat constantly from the United States and other countries about supply management. Instead of threatening a big industry like supply management our government trades off sugar. It does it over and over again. In the free trade deal there is no question that sugar was traded off.

The Americans are happy to protect it. They like protecting it because a number of senators and congressmen have the industry in their areas and want to protect it for political reasons. We have not pushed them too hard on the issue. However it is time for the government to find a spine and push the Americans hard.

I am glad to stand by the Americans at any time. We will certainly stand by them during their time of need. However today we are talking about free trade. The Americans are protectionist on this and other issues. Softwood lumber is another example. We could go through the list. It is time the government started to push them.

The government thinks sugar is a small industry and no big deal but it is a critical industry to the people involved in it. It is not important in terms of overall GDP but to the people involved it is their livelihoods. It is very important to them.

I urge the government to make cracking open the American market more of a priority. It should at least raise the quota back to the 55,000 tonnes we used to have. That is still not a lot, frankly. It was not a big amount of sugar to export relative to what we produced but it was three times better than what we export today. It is critical that the government take that into account when it sits with the Americans the next time because this is unacceptable.

In my riding and across the prairies it is a difficult time in agriculture. People know that. Sugar beets provide a real option for a lot of people. They provide a good livelihood not just for producers but for all the people who work at the facility in my riding.

If we cannot appeal to the government to make it a priority on the grounds that the sugar industry is important, we appeal to it on the grounds that farmers need options at a time when wheat prices are low and they do not have many options.