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.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2001 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to hopefully contribute somewhat to the debate before the House on Bill C-32.

I do not necessarily attach myself to very much, if anything, that the previous speaker puts before the House other than to say that at the very least his party and he himself have been consistent in their approach to this issue.

The member spoke in his remarks about Jack and the Beanstalk . I am reminded of other fairytale red book promises that pertain to this issue of free trade.

As I listened to the member, I could not help but think that the current Prime Minister would have been on the other side of the barrier in Quebec City if that free trade negotiation had taken place in the 1980s. He would have been out there with the protestors. He would have been espousing the complete opposite position that his current government is presenting through Bill C-32.

However, we are certainly glad that the Prime Minister has seen the error of his ways and recognizes that this is a global trend and the direction in which countries, not only in North America but countries worldwide, are headed in terms of liberalizing trade to the benefit of those participating countries.

That is not to say that it does not take a great deal of intellect and a great deal of effort in negotiating these agreements to see that they are beneficial. I will give the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre and his party their due. They raise very important issues that pertain to human rights, working conditions and the type of social issues that are very often given short shrift in these negotiations. We do know that the multinationals and companies that engage in trade are interested in the bottom line. There are national state concerns that often should be addressed during these negotiations.

The bill recognizes that a Central American country, like Costa Rica, is a very dynamic and developing country. This is a country that arguably has led the way for that region of the world. As other members have pointed out, this small country is a very interactive, democratic country. It has implemented a new constitution. It has a bicameral system of parliament. It has checks and balances which, in many ways, we ourselves might learn from.

Former President Arias hosted the first meeting that was the precursor to the North American Free Trade Agreement. The diplomatic skills exercised by Costa Rican politicians are very admirable on a number of levels.

Of interest is the fact that Costa Rica has no military budget. It has a national police force but much of its resources and much of its governmental focus is on trade, which is beneficial to those countries that wish to participate, as Canada will, under this new agreement.

In terms of Central American standards, Costa Rica is very much at the forefront. It has been very proactive in reaching out not only to Mexico and the United States but now, through this agreement, it is looking north. It is exploring new markets looking for ways in which it can export its raw and manufactured materials and looking to improve the standard of living and the quality of life for its citizens by enabling access to goods and services to which it might not otherwise have access.

Costa Rica has a very extensive program for social housing which would be of interest to many Canadians. A number of Canadian construction companies have played a very active role in Costa Rica's attempt to provide adequate shelter and housing for its citizens.

Opportunities for both participants in this agreement abound. Costa Rica has co-operated closely in the past with other countries. It has exhibited the goodwill that is tantamount to a good basis of bridge building when it comes to trade.

Some of the purposes behind Bill C-32 will evolve over time. Much like the commentary we hear quite often about the benefits of trade, time will tell.

I would be quick to point out that some of the same arguments that we have heard against this agreement were heard prior to 1988. In fact some of the members opposite on the government side, who are now wrapping their arms around the legislation, endorsing it and espousing its virtues, were the same members who stood on this side of the House and berated the government of Brian Mulroney and the Conservative Party of Canada for taking the initiative, for spending the political capital that is sometimes necessary, and for taking the risk that is sometimes necessary for the good of the country.

I think even the most critical of individuals in viewing free trade would have to admit that huge benefits have accrued to this country, particularly for the people of western Canada who are very much the beneficiaries of this particular practice of free trade.

Bill C-32 would implement all the negotiation that took place leading up to this bill. I believe the agreement itself was signed in April 2000. Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the president of Costa Rica, was here in Canada signing the agreement, and the bill would put those elements into effect.

It is quite clear that Costa Rica's economy is growing and expanding rapidly, arguably not at a rate that we would consider rapid by North American standards, but it is certainly moving in a direction that will help its citizens, help to improve conditions and help to improve those very essential things that all humanitarians should be concerned about.

This is a chance for Costa Rica. This is a legitimate opportunity that it hopes to seize upon. To its credit, it has been very proactive in looking at other countries' economies and trying to find a way in which it can be a greater participant in those economies.

The agreement itself will be two way in terms of the merchandise exchanged between Canada and Costa Rica. It is interesting to note that in the year 2000 the trade between our two nations rose by $269 million according to figures. That was a jump of 25% over that short period of time. The agreement itself would naturally accelerate that growth.

We have to take into account, as others have, the difference in size of economy and levels of development. However I believe there is a mechanism that is supposed to help integrate this trade system, this difference in the size of the economy and that is that Canada will, more or less, move at a more rapid rate in terms of liberalizing trade. Our economy will be more open to Costa Rican products at a faster rate. The lack of tariffs will be phased in in Canada over eight years, whereas in the Costa Rican example it will be over fourteen years.

Our borders will be open at an earlier rate allowing Costa Rica to tap into the Canadian market somewhat quicker, taking into account this difference in size and scale of economy.

I would suggest that the overall benefit to eliminating the trade barriers is to facilitate these goods and services at an accelerated rate and facilitate and promote conditions of fair competition that are the underpinnings of any free trade agreement. Those are set out in some detail by the enactment of this bill. It would also establish a framework for further bilateral, regional and multilateral co-operation to expand throughout the years and create effective procedures for implementation and application of the agreement.

Also built into this contract, as in any contract, are methods of dispute resolution and of monitoring the progress. Where disputes might break out there will be a procedure that can be followed to try to resolve those types of disputes.

Some of the products that will be affected in the short term will include fruit, coffee, raw sugar, gold, flowers and jams, Costa Rican imports that we currently see quite often on the Canadian market.

The trade agreement will allow those products to come into Canada with ease, with fewer tariffs in the coming years, and will allow those companies, because of their climate and agricultural potential, a greater market and potential for growth and therefore a higher standard of living when they achieve the success they badly want.

On the other hand, Canada currently exports to Costa Rica paper, wheat, potato products and automotive parts. When I think of potatoes I will not say the solicitor general. I am obviously thinking of the potato crisis Prince Edward Islanders have faced in recent years and the great potential the agreement will provide for them.

They suffered through two abysmal years in terms of their potato exports because of the potato wart which was blown hugely out of proportion. We were virtually excluded from entering the American market. This will provide a new and large market for potato products.

For provinces like Prince Edward Island I would suggest that Bill C-32, which brings to effect free trade with Costa Rica, will expand their potential and help island potato farmers explore this new market.

I draw attention to some of the other positive elements of the agreement that include building up the free trade of the Americas, which links the 34 countries currently in North America that are working with South America. That unfortunately is something upon which perhaps we have not focused enough. The expanding markets in Central America and in all of South America is the direction in which we recognize we are moving.

Canada has taken a much more inclusive view and can play a much more active leadership role in this regard. I would suggest that this step is very much reflective and representative of Canada's leadership role.

Canada's national identity, the Canadian economy and our competitiveness as a trading nation are areas of which we have to be very conscious. We have to be innovative. We have to portray ourselves as a country that is ready and willing to take part in this vibrant new economy.

That was the intent behind the original free trade agreement with the United States, followed up by NAFTA. This is a natural extension of the direction in which the Canadian economy is moving.

The Government of Canada, Canadian producers and Canadian manufacturers can benefit if we go about this in an intelligent and aggressive way.

About 94% of Canada's current agriculture and agri-food exports to Costa Rica will get better access as a direct result of the implementation of this bill. Goodness knows we need to make extraordinary efforts at this time to help our farmers with the drought situation that has been endured in western Canada.

Throughout the country there have been extreme weather conditions and climate turns which have grossly affected the ability of the agricultural industry in Canada. Blueberry farmers in the province of Nova Scotia have suffered great hardships due to the dry conditions this past summer.

When we sign agreements with countries like Costa Rica and other South American and Central American countries, it opens up new markets for our agricultural industry. Canada's exporters will gain an important advantage over some of their principle competitors in Costa Rica, including American, European and Asian suppliers.

Therefore, by giving Costa Ricans preferential trade partners in North America we can be competitive with some of those other countries that have in the past associated themselves and traded with Costa Rica. Costa Ricans hopefully will be looking to Canada as opposed to some of the far off European countries to which in the past there has been a propensity for Costa Ricans to turn.

As with every trade agreement and contractual obligation there are concerns that have to be examined and kept in mind. There are shared concerns on the part of Costa Ricans and Canadians.

As I understand it, Costa Rica currently exports only raw sugar and does not refine sugar within its own boundaries. In the event that Costa Rica as a result of the trade agreement starts to construct refineries and export refined sugar, Canadian sugar producers would have real concern. They have expressed concern already. I know that the member for Saint John has long been a proponent of protecting and assisting the sugar refining industry in her province of New Brunswick. This is one issue that has been raised by sugar producers in Canada as a direct upshot of the proposed agreement. Costa Rica is also a labour intensive country. Having just said that there may be benefits to the increased open market for potato farmers, I will note that some producers have raised concerns about the impact on frozen potatoes exported to Costa Rica from Canada.

These are a just couple of industry related concerns that have been raised by Canadians who would be impacted directly by Bill C-32.

Canada has an obligation to enter into these agreements in good faith and to maintain good bilateral relations with our other significant trading partners. At the same time we have to diversify the market and seek additional international trade agreements. That is exactly what the bill would do.

The direction in which we are headed is very much one the Progressive Conservative/Democratic Representative Caucus Coalition supports. It has been our consistent position in doing so that Canada must play a leading and aggressive role at a time when countries are re-examining their relations with other countries vis-à-vis trade and security and on any number of levels.

To that end there is implicit in all our efforts an emphasis on the responsibility of government to proceed with caution but also, I would suggest, with some degree of aggression when looking for new markets to bolster the Canadian economy to ensure that we are competitive and innovative in a very competitive global time.

We support the initiative. We support the direction of Bill C-32 and similar types of agreements. It is imperative as well that we in the Parliament of Canada have an opportunity to have our say and to have input. We must look at the bill at the committee level. We must hear from witnesses who have specific information about the countries in question, the pros and cons of the agreement, the benefits and the contractual obligations that will flow from it.

On balance we feel it is good legislation that is consistent with the direction in which Canada is headed. We feel it would help Canadian producers engage in free markets and it would raise access to products by lowering tariffs.

To that end and for those reasons set out, the coalition will be supporting the legislation. We look forward to its implementation. We hope to see the government play a leadership role in its new and, I would submit, post-1993 support of free trade agreements.

This is the type of legislation Canada needs if it is to be a global competitor in the 21st century.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2001 / 12:35 p.m.
See context


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to enter the debate on Bill C-32 regarding the Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement. I think it is quite well known that the NDP party has great reservations about liberalized trade agreements, about the way Canada enters into these agreements and about the terms and conditions that are either within or fail to be within the agreements.

Our position is quite clear. We do not think Canada should enter into any free trade agreements or liberalized trade agreements that do not enshrine basic labour rights, environmental standards or human rights. We believe there is a role within trade agreements to deal with those social issues. We reject the argument that there is no other place for those other issues within trade deals of that nature.

I point out the irony that we should even debate or consider this bill in the legislature or in parliament. These free trade agreements are specifically designed to bypass freely elected legislatures and parliaments around the world. It is part of their job to provide a charter of rights and freedoms for corporations that bypass freely elected governments. Some of our ability to control our destiny within this country is taken away by these free trade agreements.

It may sound like a strong statement, but Ruggiero, the former head of the WTO, said that there was a surplus of democracy in the world that was getting in the way of the free movement of goods and services and capital. That is why we need free trade agreements to bypass this tedious democratic process that we spend our lives representing.

That in a nutshell sums up what the NDP's concern is about free trade agreements. There are people who actually believe that there is a surplus of democracy in the world which is interfering with the free movement of capital and investment. It is a frightening thought.

The Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement resembles in many ways NAFTA, the FTAA, the GATS agreements and other free trade agreements. There are many similar features in it. There are no noticeable improvements. In other words, all the things we pointed out as flaws or omissions in those other agreements are not dealt with in this new Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement.

Canada as a nation is dealing with challenges under the current free trade agreements under which we are living, NAFTA challenges, et cetera. I point out some cases where we are vulnerable to these challenges, one of which is dealing with the bulk sale of water. We just heard eloquent and passionate debates about Canada not getting into exporting bulk water, or the bulk sale of interbasin transfer of water.

The Americans, through the free trade agreement, are challenging Canada now. Sun Belt California is a company that is challenging Canada, saying that we have denied them economic opportunity by refusing to commodify our water resources. This is the kind of thing to which we are vulnerable.

Another issue is our postal service. We have chosen to have a federally owned postal service to deliver our mail. However, American companies such as UPS, have challenged that. They have said that this is a service they wish to provide and that they have a right to offer free competition in that arena. Because they want to provide the delivery of mail service, they have said that Canada cannot give Canada Post a monopoly on its courier service.

This is an example of where we are losing our ability to control our own destiny and shape the kind of country as we want it because of the free trade agreements we have entered into at times.

At the onset of my speech I mentioned that we are critical of any liberalized trade agreement that fails to recognize core labour, environmental standards and basic human rights issues. When we raise that, we are often told that by trading with less developed nations, those standards will be elevated by some kind of osmosis and that they will naturally come up to our level.

In other words, we will not go to the lowest common denominator, they will come up to ours. There is no empirical evidence anywhere in the world where that has been the case. In fact, the opposite has been true. The harmonization has been a downward trend, except in places where it is specifically contemplated and dealt with, such as the European Union.

The EU was a free trade agreement that the NDP could probably have endorsed. Over 20 years they carefully set out the terms and conditions that would not harmonize to the lowest common denominator. In fact, the less developed countries were brought up to a mean average at least.

We look at examples like the APEC meetings in Vancouver that resulted in riots and the pepper spray incident, et cetera. We objected to inviting somebody like Suharto to our country. We considered him an international criminal, a butcher. Yet we hosted him in our country. When we raised that as an objection the government said that by dealing with people like that and trading with them, we would pull them into the democratic world and would elevate their standards of labour conditions.

When we ended up pepper spraying our own citizens for having the temerity for a peaceful protest, it looked like we went down to his level. That kind of harmonization to the higher common denominator does not seem to happen. We are very critical of it.

There are specifics in the bill that I should deal with. First, the preamble of this hefty piece of legislation is written in such flowery language. It is almost poetic. It is almost beautiful to read the principles being espoused in that preamble. Unfortunately those same principles do not find any room within the actual text of the document.

It says that the Government of Canada and the government of Costa Rica have entered into this agreement to strengthen the special bonds of friendship among their peoples and to contribute to the harmonious development and provide a catalyst for broader international co-operation. They are all very lofty goals and wonderful principles that anybody would be happy to be associated with, until we see what it really translates into.

If our interest is really to elevate the standards of living conditions for people around the world and if it is true that the globalization of capital is supposed to bring with it the globalization of the rule of law, the globalization of human rights, the globalization of foreign labour standards, then where is it in this document? Where is it in the empirical evidence around the world where these trade agreements exist? It does not exist. It is a fraud. We are being sold a bill of goods here that do not translate into elevating anybody's standards. In fact, it has had a reverse effect. It has had a negative effect on wages and working conditions. It serves only one interest and that is the interest of global capital.

The NDP is concerned. I should make it clear there is nothing anti-free trade about the NDP or our party's policy. We are very much for free trade. Other speakers mentioned that we are more interested in fair trade. The world should develop and evolve, toward a fair, rules based trading mechanism, not a free hand in the market shall prevail and good luck.

Labour standards are of particular concern to me as a former trade unionist and labour leader. We have watched Costa Rica for many years. Frankly, Costa Rica has a terrible reputation for labour standards.

One of our criticisms about this trade agreement is the same as with NAFTA. It relegates labour issues to a side agreement. They are not found within the actual text of the document. All those annoying labour issues will be dealt with by a separate tribunal, which is slow, tedious, cumbersome, bureaucratic and has not given any satisfaction to the working people who object or have a legitimate grievance.

Costa Rica is notorious for its persistent denial of basic labour rights, especially the rights of freedom of association, collective bargaining and the right to withhold services.

All this agreement requires the parties to do is enforce their existing labour legislation. There is nothing in here about enhancing current labour legislation to bring it up to the highest common denominator. It just says that there is a requirement to enforce whatever labour legislation they have.

Costa Rica's labour legislation is woefully behind western standards or standards within the free world. It is another one of those countries, through no fault of its own but through its desire to bring economic development to its country, that has bought into this idea of free trade zones or economic trade zones. They are called export processing zones, or EPZs, in Costa Rica. These are areas that are excused from the pathetic legislation that exists in that country. These particular zones, these fenced compounds, do not have to live up to those regulations. It is a cowboy attitude toward labour standards.

We have watched Costa Rica develop over recent years. Whether it is Central America, South America and Costa Rica, there is no exception, they have what we call anti-worker Solidarista movements or phony union movements. They are unions of convenience, much like CLAC, the Christian labour alliance, in Canada. By voluntarily signing a contract with CLAC, real unions are prohibited from organizing in a particular workplace. These dummy unions have been organized nationally and are put place to try to keep bona fide unions from organizing. This was a conspiracy to deny people basic union rights and freedoms.

If we were sincere about elevating the standards of wages and working conditions of people in developing nations and using trade agreements to help do that as an instrument, then we would require our trading partners to adhere to the same standards of freedom and rights to association for collective bargaining that we give our workers. The agreement is completely and deliberately silent on that. We object to that. If nothing else it is a missed opportunity for those of us who do genuinely care about international development and moving society forward in a global way.

This is not the instrument to do that. Once again, this is an instrument of exploitation. If we do not say it here, there is certainly no opportunity for the working people of Costa Rica to object. This is happening above and beyond any input from them.

I stand in solidarity with my fellow working people in Costa Rica to object to this agreement and to any so-called free trade agreement that does not recognize core labour standards, the right to free collective bargaining and the basic principles that we take for granted in this country.

People say that trade unionists object to free trade agreements for selfish reasons because they are worried that their standard of living will be dragged down. Frankly, if labour and commodities are cheaper in one of our trading partner's country, there is nothing to stop Canadian or American companies gravitating to that country for manufacturing purposes.

I resent that and object to that position. I also resent the argument that we are worried about losing our good paying manufacturing jobs. We are worried. We would be crazy if we were not. The only sensible thing Ross Perot ever said in the election in the states was with regard to the great flushing sound of Canadian and American jobs racing to Mexico with the first free trade agreement. We noticed that and have not fully recovered from all the promises that those blue collar jobs would be replaced with better paying jobs. That has not happened among the neighbours that I know.

We are watching Canada negotiate badly on our behalf. Every time it enters into a trade agreement we are dumbfounded. What kind of negotiators are these people who negotiate on our behalf, go into these closed door meetings and sign deals like this?

When I was in Quebec City, I was outside the fence protesting while the negotiators were inside the fence signing yet another free trade agreement. There is kind of a cruel irony there as well.

This bill falls short of any of the lofty goals and principles that are talked about in the preamble of the bill. If the government were serious about doing something to move the global community forward in terms of bringing less developed nations up to our standard of living, I could endorse it.

The NDP caucus would happily buy into any kind of agreement that would move society forward in that way. Bill C-32 and bills like it keep people back. It does nothing to elevate the human condition on the planet.

I put it to the House that the Canada-Cost Rica a free trade agreement is less about eliminating trades and tariffs and more about institutionalizing a freedom that global capital enjoys today. It enshrines it in such a way that even freely elected democratic institutions like parliament cannot touch.

Members are made irrelevant by agreements like this one. Renato Ruggier, head of the WTO, said that there was a surplus of democracy in the world that was getting in the way of the free movement of goods, services and capital, and that therefore we needed free trade agreements to bypass annoying nuisances such as legislatures, parliaments, et cetera.

The best example is Ethyl Corporation. I am sure hon. members heard this case cited before in the House of Commons. We as a nation decided that it was bad to have MMT in our atmosphere and environment. MMT is poison as a gasoline additive; it kills people and causes cancer. We decided to ban and outlaw it.

However Ethyl Corporation which produces MMT said that we could not do that. It said that we were interfering with its right to capitalize on selling MMT. In other words there was a lost opportunity. It sued the Government of Canada because it had nation state status under the free trade agreements.

A company can sue a country because we allocated a nation state status to a corporate entity and it won. We had to back off. We had to pay it damages for lost opportunity because we as a nation decided that for our children's benefit we would ban a toxic chemical as a gasoline additive.

It was ruled that we could not do that any more. Somebody traded our right away. Some bright eyed negotiator on behalf of the Canadian government signed away our ability to protect our own environment in a free trade agreement.

It is not being alarmist to raise these issues. These are legitimate concerns and I am horrified by that. What did these people agree to? It is like sending Jack to the market with a cow and he comes back with three beans. There is no guarantee that any of those beans will even sprout. It is a serious concern and a legitimate issue.

Our NDP caucus, along with a significant number of Canadians who are concerned about the globalization of capital and the free for all interest in the free trade agreements, is disappointed. Speaking on their behalf, we are very concerned that we have failed to represent the real issues at hand.

If it is our goal, duty and obligation as elected members of parliament to elevate the human condition and to move society forward, how can we knowingly sign on to something like this which has the reverse effect? It broadens the gap between rich and poor by enshrining bad behaviour. It institutionalizes irresponsible corporate behaviour and locks people in developing nations into that situation and holds them back.

There is a missed opportunity here. This free trade agreement should specify that if a country wants to trade with Canada its standards of labour conditions have to be elevated in harmony to those of Canada. Otherwise Canada would not trade with it. If it wants to do business with Canada it must do something about the abominable, wretched labour conditions in its country.

We would then be using our position of privilege as a nation to help raise standards in that country. However there is no mention of that here. When we raise it we are told that it is a deal between economies, not countries, and that it is not our job to deal with social issues.

We are told that we cannot do anything about child labour, but if those children were burning bootleg CDs the economic community would intervene in a minute. It would be down there in a second to protect its intellectual property. In some cases it acts very quickly. In other cases it says child labour is not its issue. We should wait until child labour is bootlegging CDs to see how quickly it acts.

Bill C-32 does not deserve our support. It does not achieve what it should achieve as a free trade agreement. If the government were serious about free and fair trade this would be a far different bill.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2001 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter the debate today on Bill C-32 which gives considerable detail to expanding free trade. I will set out a preamble to my comments today and say that in general members of my party and I are supportive of free trade. It is in fact our party policy.

We have another adjective we use with respect to trade. Trade should not only be free, that is free from tariffs, countervailing duties and all those things. It should also be fair. That is unfortunately where the Liberal government often fails. It is imperative that we vigorously defend Canadian industries.

The government does not have a good record for doing that with other commodities, including agricultural commodities. The government has often entered into agreements without enough forethought about the implications. As a result it backs itself into a corner and we in the country suffer enormously.

I cannot help but digress to the whole question of western Canadian farmers and the tariffs and controls the government has put on grain marketing over the years. Canadian farmers are not able to market their product at the best price. Instead the government controls it. It is almost an inverse Zellers' law. Zellers says the lowest price is the law. The Government of Canada has told farmers the worst deal for them is the law. That is unfortunate.

The government is making the same error with Bill C-32 in that it is not giving enough thought to the long term effects. There are a few things we ought to be aware of. Bill C-32 would expand free trade with Costa Rica. It outlines a 10 year plan. Some tariffs would be reduced in stages over 10 years and others would come into play rapidly.

It should be noted that we already have a free trade agreement with Chile. There is also NAFTA which is about seven years old. The purpose of these free trade agreements is to give Canadian producers better access to foreign markets and give our trading partners abroad better access to our market.

A problem arises. Canada for some reason has gone ahead of all the other countries in the agreement by being the only country to refuse to substantially subsidize its producers. All the other countries subsidize, in some cases very richly, their producers of agriculture and food products. Canada is way down the list, almost at zero. When it comes to sugar producers, subsidies from the Canadian government are essentially zero. Yet the other countries subsidize them.

How are we to compete? It is impossible. That is common sense. It should not escape Liberal members of the House and the Liberal government.

If there is another country competing with our producers and its producers are being substantially subsidized over and above what Canadian producers are, that puts our guys at a huge disadvantage. It is as if we were to enter a race and we were to say to our athletes that we would like them to carry an extra 50 pounds. I guess I already have mine and that is why they do not enter me into Olympic races, because it is a bit of a disadvantage.

Canadian producers are operating under this disadvantage. They are working against a trade barrier of price because of the fact that producers in other countries like the United States and those in Central America substantially subsidize their producers. As a result, our people have to be very efficient to compete, which they are, but in many cases they lose out on the fight.

We should be aware that 80% of the products that Costa Rica exports to Canada, and we are talking about fruits and vegetables, coffee and coal, already at this stage enter Canada duty free. Therefore the market in Canada is already largely open to Costa Rica. Canada of course is now looking to expand its market into Costa Rica, so in that sense it is a good initiative because if it already has so much duty free access to our market then it only makes sense that we should negotiate with Costa Rica to remove its tariffs to give Canadian producers access to that market.

Unfortunately this is done sector by sector. Sometimes we fail to recognize that when we are in a trading agreement like this we must have all of the food on the platter at the same time. We cannot make a deal commodity by commodity and then in the end land up with a few commodities left that were not negotiated, because consequently we are unable, because we have lost our bargaining position, to get a really good deal for our own producers.

It just so happens that in the year 2000 Canada exported to Costa Rica approximately $86 million worth of goods. In that same year we imported from Costa Rica $183 million worth. At this stage, then, we have basically a net loss in income as a country because of the fact that while Costa Rica spends $86 million a year here we spend $183 million there. That is fine because it allows us to bring into this country products which we need and which are saleable here, but we must recognize that those products are also competing with those of Canadian producers and Canadian processors.

One of the areas of much concern to us as a party is the impact on the sugar industry. One of the fond memories that I have of being a youngster growing up in Saskatchewan, and which young people of today would not have any knowledge of at all, is that there used to be metal pails of Rogers Golden Syrup. It is probably the best syrup in the world. If I recall correctly most of the sugar beets that produced that syrup were grown in southern Alberta and some in British Columbia. If I am not mistaken, the processing refineries for this sugar were actually in eastern Canada, in Ontario and Quebec. At any rate, we had this syrup and it was a wonderful product. In fact I would hasten to surmise that perhaps Rogers Golden Syrup has had a significant contribution in making me into the man I am today, and I mean that in a humorous sense of that word, because we used that syrup a lot in our home.

Rogers syrup came in little 10 pound pails that when empty became our lunch buckets that we carried to school. Nowadays this of course would never be done. Nowadays the youngsters have designer lunch kits. However in those days we were not different from our neighbours. We were poor and we made use of everything we had. When the pails were empty they became our lunch buckets and we walked to school carrying these pails with Rogers Golden Syrup written on them. They contained our sandwiches or whatever our mother produced for us for the day.

We can see that the history of the Canadian sugar industry is a long one, not that I am terribly old, but we are talking about 50 years ago at least. Even at that time the syrup was a wonderful, very good, high quality product.

At this stage, as far as I know, Costa Rica does not have any substantial amount of output in actually refining and processing its sugar. This means very simply that the tariff on sugars, which is designed to protect the market in whatever country, is very one sided. In fact, the United States and most Latin American countries have an import tariff on their sugar ranging anywhere from 50% to 160%. In other words, when we export that product our people have to be very efficient in order to compete in those markets since there is an automatic price added to our product as it crosses a border.

My biggest complaint about Bill C-32 is that there is not nearly a rapid enough or substantial enough removal of those tariffs that tend to inhibit the flow of our product into the other countries. As a matter of fact, knowing the way the Liberal government operates I can see that in the future, perhaps under CIDA or some other of our other wonderful plans, we would actually be helping Costa Rica build a processing plant so that it could process its sugar there and export it to Canada duty free. If we try to do that with our product when sending it there, we will have a tariff to pay in various stages for at least 10 years. There is no guarantee, as I see it in the bill, that the tariff would ever be removed.

Why would we not negotiate on this issue in such a way that it is fair for Canadians instead of lopsided? We may have all sorts of altruistic motives in this matter. Perhaps we want to help the Costa Rican people. I have no problem with that. Sure, let us help them, let us trade with them, but if we are to compete let us compete on a level playing field.

I hasten to point out that this agreement could become a template for future agreements with some of the other Central American countries. If we do not fix this problem, it will be embedded in the agreements with countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. Each of those countries not only has some considerable capacity to refine their sugar and to export it, but they also have large subsidies.

For the life of me I cannot see why we would not, while we are negotiating these tariffs, also make sure that we do not repeat the errors that we made with wheat agreements. We should say very clearly that if we remove tariffs they must remove their subsidies. We did not do this with wheat. That is why the United States, still subsidizing its farmers substantially more than Canada, is a very unfair trading partner with respect to the sale and the movement of Canadian products.

In Canada with respect to wheat we have the barrier of the wheat board which applies, by the way, only to the prairie provinces. Go figure that one. Why should wheat producers in Ontario or Quebec or Atlantic Canada be able to sell their grain without going through the wheat board? If the wheat producers happen to be in Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta the mighty thumb of the federal government is on top of them. If they try to make a move they go to jail. That is scary. We have actually had our own government, not the importing country, not the United States, put our own farmers in jail because of their attempts to sell their own products at a price that is better and more immediate as opposed to what the wheat board offers.

In negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States did we insist that it remove its subsidies? No. Consequently it has them. Consequently our farmers are operating at a disadvantage.

Now we have Canada making this agreement with Costa Rica and looking ahead at some of the other countries with which we will undoubtedly be processing a trade agreement . We are in favour of that, but we had better make sure that we put all of the elements on the negotiating table, not just the tariffs and the free trade. Let us also very clearly specify and demand as a condition that the subsidization be included in those negotiations and that the subsidization be removed. How can we compete?

A number of years ago I had a friend who sold one brand of imported Japanese vehicles in Canada. Along came another importer from Korea. The Canadian government for some reason exempted the Korean manufacturer's automobiles from some of the import tariffs. As a result it became a very unfair playing field, just because of the negotiations of the government.

We need to make sure that all Canadians in these trade agreements are treated fairly.

We should also note that right now, to the best of my knowledge, every country in the Americas, Central America and South America, and including the United States, subsidizes its farmers except Canada. At least to put it this way, their subsidies are much higher in proportion. We are remiss in our duties to our own people if we do not make sure that these tariffs are not stacked against us in view of those duty free agreements.

I would also like to say that there is a considerable movement of agricultural goods around the country and it is so important to Canada. It is my belief that approximately 80% of our food production is destined for export, so we had better have good trade agreements. We had better have fair tariffs. We had better make sure that our producers are protected.

As a matter of fact, our economic well-being is largely dependent on the export of those agricultural products. For every $100 worth of food that Canadian farmers produce we Canadians consume only about $20 worth of it and $80 of it goes to feed people in other parts of the world. That is great. We should be very proud of that.

I happen to come from an agricultural community. I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. To this day my brother farms on the family farm and on more land he has added. We often speak in our family of the contribution that we have made in providing food not only for Canadians but also for people around the world. One of the great things that some of our people have done in Saskatchewan, and I think this happens in other parts of the country as well, is that farmers have actually given some of their surplus as a donation to some of the third world countries where people are starving because of a lack of food when we have so much.

It behooves our government to make sure that we have a market for the food we produce for export, but it has to be done fairly.

We had a considerably lengthy and interesting debate last night on agriculture. I do not think we adequately recognize that a good, solid, secure food source is a very important base of our national security. If we were ever to lose our agriculture industry, and I mean all agriculture, our food producing sources, the farmers and fishermen, and our infrastructure to process food, we would suddenly no longer enjoy the security of a plentiful and safe food supply.

It is incumbent upon on us as a country, especially in these troubling days, to make sure that our producers and processors can survive and be strong economically and in their businesses. We need to make sure we do not jeopardize that in any way.

I am inclined right now to vote against the bill simply because it is not good enough. I absolutely love the idea of free trade and being able to export our food around the world. I love the idea that we can provide it to those who do not have as much we do. However let us make sure that we do not hobble our own farmers. We should not attach a weight to their ankles.

This is just a small diversion. In the agreement dairy, poultry, egg and beef products are excluded from this present provision. Presumably that will come at some future time in some future agreement, but it is not included now.

I think I have laid my case in front of the House and the Canadian people. It is very important that in this instance our government be given a message. It should go back to the bargaining table. It should strengthen the protection of our sugar industry. It is not there now. Unless we change that, I cannot vote in favour of the bill because of that very serious and fatal flaw.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2001 / 10 a.m.
See context

London—Fanshawe Ontario


Pat O'Brien LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to address Bill C-32 which would implement the Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement.

This agreement is an important step forward on several levels. To begin with, the success of this endeavour clearly demonstrates that free trade agreements can be negotiated between larger and smaller economies. That bodes well for the future of the free trade area of the Americas.

At the same time, this agreement will open up a new market with exciting potential for Canadian exporters. It also includes precedent setting chapters in the areas of trade facilitation and competition policy.

The Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement includes side agreements on the environment and labour that are an important improvement on those found in earlier agreements.

I am especially pleased that we have concluded an agreement with Costa Rica, sometimes called the Switzerland of Central America. As a country of some 3.9 million citizens with no military and longstanding, democratic institutions, Costa Rica has been an important beacon of stability in Central America. With a large percentage of its budget devoted to education and health care, Costa Rica's future looks very bright.

Canada and Costa Rica share similar political cultures, placing primacy on respect for the rule of law, democracy, respect for human rights and the environment. Our relationship with Costa Rica has been one of longstanding co-operation, trust and mutual benefit. Formal trade relations between our two countries date back more than 50 years to a bilateral commercial agreement concluded in 1950. Since then our relationship has developed steadily. A free trade agreement will only make it stronger.

Both countries' citizens will be able to share in the prosperity that freer trade creates. Already our bilateral trade with Costa Rica has seen an average annual growth of over 6% in the last five years with a 7% increase in exports and a 5% increase in imports. The FTA will accelerate this growth.

Although our bilateral trading relationship is small, approximately $270 million, this number is rising rapidly. Indeed, there was a 25% jump in our exports in the year 2000. It is also worth mentioning that we have invested about $500 million in Costa Rica.

Canadians are quick to seize an opportunity which could explain the enthusiastic response to the extensive consultations that were concluded regarding this initiative. The response from Canadians was strong and indicated support for pursuing an FTA with Costa Rica. It should also be noted that a significant number of small and medium sized enterprises expressed an interest in such an agreement. For them, numbers like $270 million, our bilateral trade with Costa Rica last year, are very large indeed. Their support is not surprising considering that there are considerable opportunities in the Costa Rican market for many Canadian goods, including automotive products, prefabricated buildings, some fish products and a number of agricultural products.

The improved access we will gain with this FTA will give Canadian businesses an edge in Costa Rica, particularly over foreign competitors who do not have preferential access to the Costa Rican market. As our businesses that benefited from preferential access through the Canada-Chile FTA could tell us, getting into a market first matters.

The agreement will include immediate elimination of Costa Rican tariffs on most Canadian industrial exports. It is expected that over 90% of Canada's current agriculture and agri-food exports to Costa Rica will realize market access benefits.

Canada and Costa Rica believe that a commitment to environmental and labour co-operation along with the effective enforcement of domestic laws should go hand in hand with trade liberalization. That is why, in addition to the FTA, two complementary co-operation agreements on the environment and labour were negotiated in parallel.

These parallel agreements are practical and reflect the scope of our relationship with Costa Rica.

They are also designed to promote values shared by both countries, such as the rule of law and sustainable development.

Considering the benefits I have mentioned, as well as many others, it is not surprising that free trade enjoys widespread support in this country. As I am sure everyone in the House knows, to the chagrin of some I might add, the vast majority of Canadians, more than 70% in fact, support freer trade. They recognize that increased trade is a prerequisite for economic growth and Canada's continued prosperity and social well-being.

The statistics demonstrate that this is true. In the year 2000 Canada's exports of goods and services represented over 45% or almost half of our GDP, a substantially higher proportion than that of our major trading partners. This share is up from 43% in 1999 and up considerably from just 28% in 1990.

Some 80% of the over two million new jobs created since the government took office in 1993 can be attributed to our increased trade. That means that one in every three jobs in Canada is now linked directly to our success in international trade. One in every three jobs is directly related to our success in international trade. That is so important that it bears repeating.

Most of our exports are now high value-added goods and services: telecommunications, aerospace, software, environmental technologies and other areas of the new economy.

Many Canadian companies, including small and medium sized firms and their employees, depend on trade for their growth and success. Trade puts money in the pockets of Canadians who teach in our schools, work in our factories and run our hospitals. As well, Canadian consumers and producers can obtain a broader choice of cheaper and better goods and services through trade. To put it simply, trade translates into better and higher paying jobs and increased opportunity and prosperity for all Canadians.

I would like to turn now to the importance of new WTO negotiations which have been the subject of increased attention and some concern over the past few days. Given the growing importance of trade to the Canadian economy, it is obviously in our interest to have clearly understood and widely accepted rules to ensure that we are not left subject to the whims of larger and more powerful economies.

A rules based trading system also gives Canadian companies access to larger markets abroad, while at home these companies can take advantage of global economies of scale and maintain or increase employment in their communities. Canada's continued prosperity depends on an open and healthy global economy. That is why we strongly support the launch of new WTO negotiations.

Although differences over an expanded negotiating agenda remain, most WTO members are seeking a launch of new negotiations at the next ministerial meeting scheduled to take place in November in Doha, Qatar. In Canada's view, expanded negotiations should improve access to emerging world markets and ensure trade rules keep pace with changes in technology and business practices.

We are working closely with our trading partners, including the United States, the EU, Japan and key developing countries to build support for new negotiations.

WTO members have many challenging issues left to resolve before Doha, but I believe, with political will on all sides, we can make good progress in bridging the differences among members. A new round offers our best hope to gain access to dynamic new markets and to both expand and strengthen the rules based system which has worked so well for Canada.

I would also like to say that in light of the tragic events that took place recently in the United States, I firmly believe that it is more important now than ever to pursue the goal of worldwide trade liberalization.

Bob Zoellick, the United States trade representative, has recently stated that trade reinforces openness, opportunity, democracy and compassion. I think Canadians overwhelmingly endorse that statement. I believe, as he does and as does the Minister for International Trade, that the WTO meeting in Doha should proceed so that the world trading system can continue to promote international growth, development and openness.

The many benefits of free trade are evident on a regional level. Canada's continued engagement with regional trade agreements such as NAFTA and more recently the FTAA are critical to our collective economic prosperity and social well-being. With a combined population of 800 million people and a GDP of some $17 trillion, the Americas is one of the fastest growing markets in the world in terms of consumers and growth in per capita income.

The FTAA represents an historic opportunity to unite the countries of the hemisphere in a comprehensive free trade area that would contribute to job creation and growth throughout the region, including Canada. That is one of the reasons we are enthusiastic supporters of the FTAA negotiations now under way and why Canada continues to play an active leadership role in the negotiations.

The FTAA would create greater prosperity throughout the entire region. Poorer countries of the hemisphere would have the opportunity not only to improve their economic situations through trade and investment but to begin to address the real problems of poverty, crime, environmental degradation, threats to democracy and human rights.

I will quote from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's report to the preparatory committee for the high level international intergovernmental event on financing for development.

The secretary general was speaking of the important benefits of freer trade to less developed and developing countries which are struggling to enjoy the benefits we in Canada and other countries enjoy. This is exactly what he said:

There is now widespread acceptance that, in the long run, the expansion of international trade and integration into the world economy are necessary instruments for promoting economic growth and reducing and eradicating poverty...Estimates of the potential gains in developing countries from a variety of liberalization measures range from $100 to $150 billion. There are thus large gains to be captured by developing countries from continued liberalization in goods markets.

I have heard it argued by a minority of Canadians and a minority of members of the House that free trade is somehow bad for the poorer countries of the world. They argue that it is a trick meant to take advantage of poor nations while benefiting only wealthier countries like Canada and the United States.

Many of my colleagues and I sat in the Chamber and heard the prime minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, state the same sentiments as the UN secretary general. He said we must challenge false accusations about liberalized and globalized freer trade. He said that in his view as prime minister of a major country freer trade is fundamental to helping poorer nations develop their economies.

Those were not popular statements with a minority of Canadians and some members of parliament on the far left. Nonetheless the facts support them. An independent person like Kofi Annan, whose statement I quoted, cannot be dismissed as someone who does not understand the reality of the global trading system. Poorer countries of the world stand to gain immeasurably by liberalized and globalized trade if we go about it in a careful and fair minded way. That is what Canada is strongly committed to.

Canada is also committed to pursuing technical assistance programming for the Caribbean and Central America to help countries build their capacities for trade, investment and financial stability. At the same time, Canadians have invested $54.8 billion in the nine NAFTA countries of the Americas. Canadian investment in those countries increased sixfold over the past decade. This means that more Canadian money is flowing into South and Central America and the Caribbean.

The Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement is a symbol of our long term commitment to the hemisphere. It will help advance negotiations leading to the free trade area of the Americas. The agreement will provide much needed insight into how to address the needs of smaller and more vulnerable regional economies.

In the end our efforts to liberalize trade on the multilateral, regional, and, as in the case of Costa Rica, bilateral level will all lead to the same goal: a more open and rules based trading system which will benefit all economies and nations of the world, a system in which there are only winners and no losers. That is what Canada is strongly committed to. Such a result would greatly benefit the people of Canada and people around the world.

I sincerely hope members of the House will support the legislation. Concerns have been expressed about it already, even by some of my colleagues. We are quite prepared to hear and address those concerns. However let us make no mistake. Canada is a free trading nation. We stand by that and support Bill C-32.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2001 / 10 a.m.
See context

LaSalle—Émard Québec


Paul Martin Liberalfor the Minister for International Trade

moved that 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, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

September 27th, 2001 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue with Bill C-27, the nuclear waste bill, followed by resuming the debate on Bill C-33 on Nunavut surface rights. Should this bill be completed before the end of the day I would then propose to advance the emergency debate previously scheduled for this evening.

Tomorrow we will debate Bill C-32, the Costa Rica trade agreement. I do not propose to call other legislation tomorrow.

On Monday we will begin consideration of Bill C-31 concerning the Export Development Corporation, followed by Bill C-30, the courts administration bill, followed by any previously listed business that has not been completed if such is the case.

Immediately after I complete reading this statement I will be proposing a special order which will make it possible to have a take note debate on the airline industry on Monday evening.

Tuesday shall be an allotted day. On Wednesday we will deal with Bill C-34, the transport tribunal bill, and any unfinished business.

For Thursday and Friday I hope to be consulting with House leaders of all parties regarding the adoption of the modernization committee report, second reading of the foreign missions bill which will be introduced shortly, and the miscellaneous statute law amendment bill that we pass once per parliament.

Pursuant to the business statement I just made, I believe you would find unanimous consent pursuant to earlier discussions to move a motion. I move:

That, at 6.30 p.m. on Monday, October 1, 2001, the House shall continue to sit and shall resolve itself into a committee of the whole to consider a motion “That the committee take note of the difficulties experienced by the Canadian airline industry”, provided that, during consideration thereof, (1) the Speaker may from time to time act as Chair of the committee (2) no Member shall speak for more than ten minutes (3) the Chair of the committee shall not receive any quorum call or any motion except a motion “That the committee do now rise”, (4) when no Member rises to speak, or at 10.00 p.m., whichever is earlier, the committee shall rise and (5) when the committee rises the House shall immediately adjourn to the next sitting day.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActRoutine Proceedings

September 20th, 2001 / 10 a.m.
See context

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec


Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

moved for leave to introduce 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.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

May 31st, 2001 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, the two questions raised with respect to Bill S-15 are in regard to the need for a royal recommendation and whether the levy described in the bill is a tax.

The fundamental purpose of the requirement for a royal recommendation is to limit the authority for appropriating money from the consolidated revenue fund to the government.

In section 2 of the Financial Administration Act, appropriation is defined to mean any authority of parliament to pay money out of the consolidated revenue fund. The consolidated revenue fund is defined to mean the aggregate of all public moneys that are on the deposit of the credit of the receiver general. Only ministers can obtain the necessary approval from the governor general for a royal recommendation to appropriate these funds. The constitution stipulates that bills requiring or processing a royal recommendation must originate in the House of Commons.

With respect to Bill S-15, the money raised through the levy is to be collected by the Canadian tobacco industry. Therefore I see no requirement for a royal recommendation for the bill.

The second question has to do with whether or not the levy established through the bill constitutes a tax. In plain language of the bill, the bill speaks in terms of a levy rather than a tax. The purpose of the levy, as stated in the bill, is to meet an industry purpose beneficial to the industry, although the industry purpose also has public benefit.

The levy is imposed exclusively on tobacco products of whatever description and is to be spent in pursuit of the goals listed in the bill. Consequently, what is being proposed is a levy, not a tax.

Erskine May describes two criteria by which a bill proposing a levy is exempt from the financial procedures, including the adoption of a ways and means resolution that would normally apply to bills imposing a tax. The first criterion is that the levy must be for industry purposes. The second is that the funds collected must not form any part of government revenue.

Erskine May includes examples of bills from the United Kingdom which were regarded as levies, as well as those which failed to meet either or both of these two criteria.

There are recent Canadian experiences, as well. In this parliament we have the example of Bill C-27 which imposes a levy on the nuclear industry. The government felt it necessary to attach a royal recommendation to the bill and adopted a ways and means motion prior to its introduction.

In support of Bill S-15, we have the example of Bill C-32, an act to amend the Copyright Act, which was considered in the 35th parliament. Bill C-32 imposed a levy on the sale of blank tapes to be distributed to artists and artist groups as a form of royalty. Bill C-32 did not have a royal recommendation and the bill was not preceded by a ways and means resolution.

In Speaker Parent's ruling of December 2, 1998, regarding Bill S-13, the predecessor to Bill S-15, he cited the following:

The levy was of benefit to that industry since it permitted the audio duplication of copyright material for private use. This would enhance the market for blank audio tapes. The levy on the tapes was designated to raise funds by which owners of copyright material would be compensated for losses caused by private duplication of that material. The link between the benefit to the industry and the levy being imposed seems clear in that case.

To make a comparison of Bill C-32 to Bill S-13, the Speaker went on to say of Bill S-13:

Surely the lack of credibility referred to here is a function of our common sense understanding of the self-interest of the tobacco industry, namely, that as a commercial enterprise its primary goal is to expand its markets and thereby to increase profits. Young people would constitute the future growth potential for the industry's market. How could it be to the benefit of the industry to reduce smoking among the very people who would constitute its growth market? It is this implausible proposition that underlies the credibility problem to which the bill refers.

With all due respect to Speaker Parent, he may have been a competent school teacher and a respected speaker of the House but that did not qualify him as a director of marketing for a tobacco company.

I, myself, do not pretend to guess at the marketing strategy of those corporations. If the fate of the bill hinges on whether the levy is a benefit to the industry or not, we should get that answer from the tobacco industry itself.

The claim that the bill is not beneficial to the industry is false. The industry has been asking for this very bill. It has been running ads in support of Bill S-15. I have a copy here and I will give a copy to you, Mr. Speaker, at the end of my comments. At the end of the ad it states:

Imperial Tobacco and JTI MacDonald strongly support Bill S-15. We believe that it is consistent with our companies' view that underage people should not smoke and that the decision to do so should be an informed one made only by adults. We commend those who have worked so hard to help bring Bill S-15 towards reality and reaffirm our support for the Bill and the Foundation it would create.

There you have it, Mr. Speaker. The industry clearly supports the bill. If we go back and consider Speaker Parent's suggestion that common sense prevail, it is common sense that Bill S-15 is beneficial to the tobacco industry since it is going to great lengths and spending large sums of money on these ads promoting the bill.

The other weakness in the argument of Speaker Parent in this is when he said:

How could it be to the benefit of the industry to reduce smoking among the very people who would constitute its growth market?

Mr. Robert Parker, chairman and chief executive officer of the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers' Council, stated before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on April 1, 1997, the following:

The manufacturers agree that youth should not smoke, period.

Don Brown, past chairman, president and CEO of Imperial Tobacco and chair of the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers' Council, made similar comments regarding youth smoking to the Vancouver Board of Trade on October 1, 1998. He said “We believe children should not smoke—”.

Finally, Speaker Parent, in his ruling, overlooked the fact that selling cigarettes to minors is against the law. He was suggesting that breaking the law is a common sense marketing strategy.

In the event the Speaker is sympathetic to the point of view of the government House leader, I offer another alternative, and this will be my last point.

In our rules there are exemptions regarding financial matters. Standing Order 80(1) states:

All aids and supplies granted to the Sovereign by the Parliament of Canada are the sole gift of the House of Commons, and all bills for granting such aids and supplies ought to begin with the House, as it is the undoubted right of the House to direct, limit and appoint in all such bills, the ends, purposes, considerations, conditions, limitations and qualifications of such grants, which are not alterable by the Senate.

Standing Order 80(2) states:

In order to expedite the business of Parliament, the House will not insist on the privilege claimed—.

The standing order describes these circumstances as, and I quote:

—penalties thereby imposed are only to punish or prevent crimes and offences—

The purpose and the benefit of Bill S-15 would be to prevent young people from smoking. Since this is considered an offence, it would meet the criteria of Standing Order 80(2). I would think that the government and all members of the House would not, in this instance, insist on its financial privileges. Bill S-15 is aimed at significantly reducing underage smoking in Canada. What better reason is there than that.

Finally, the Senate Speaker, in his ruling of April 2, 1998 on Bill S-13 said that it was his view that, and I quote:

—matters are presumed to be in order except where the contrary is clearly established by the case. This presumption suggests to me that the best policy for a Speaker is to interpret the rules in favour of debate.

In this case I would argue that we should give the benefit of the doubt to the receivability of Bill S-15 and allow for debate and a decision by the House on a very important issue for the young children of this country.