Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my friend and colleague, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, on all the hard work he has done on this issue.
At first blush, when we talk about a free-trade agreement with countries like Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, many Canadians might be a bit confused and wonder how we could have a problem with it. In fact, the countries I just named are very close to us historically and in many other respects. My colleague said as much, and another colleague from Halifax was able to prove it: Bill C-2 will destroy Canada's shipbuilding industry. Although I congratulate my colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster, I also want to thank the people across Canada, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, including the people from the Lévis shipyards. In fact, these shipyards are still known as the Lauzon yards, even though the City of Lauzon amalgamated with Lévis quite some time ago.
It is sad to see how the Conservative government is incapable of paying attention to detail in its work. It is as though once something fits with its ideology, the government refuses to believe that there could be any problem. In fact, this bill poses a major problem, even though other members who will vote for it to support the Conservatives said there were good things in it. Obviously, every time we can look at expanding certain sectors, some good will come of it. But we are able to walk and chew gum at the same time and we are able to negotiate an agreement with these countries without compromising a vital Canadian industry. And that is what we must do.
The Americans have never had any qualms about this. In the United States, ships had to be built there in order to access domestic waters. Some would call this protectionism, but the Americans think it is only normal, and this is part of what is protected every time the Americans sign an agreement in this matter. How is that Canada is the only country incapable of including a similar provision to protect itself, in light of the evidence that Norway in particular will take the lion's share, while we lose thousands of jobs in a sector that could be strategically important in the very short term?
It is an honour for me to speak to Bill C-2. I congratulate my colleague, the member for Parliament for Burnaby—New Westminster, for the titanic job he has done on this, and there is no pun on the word “titanic” as we talk about shipbuilding.
As people hear us speak on this issue today, they will be as surprised as we were that the Conservatives were unable to listen to the voices of the men and women who work in shipbuilding across our great country. Canada is the only country in the world that people can talk about stretching from coast to coast to coast because it borders on three oceans, the Arctic, the Pacific and the Atlantic. Shipping and shipbuilding have been integral in building our country.
We realize that shipbuilding industry in Canada, from British Columbia all the way to Nova Scotia, passing by Lévis-Lauzon, where the Davie shipbuilding operation is located and recently bought by some Norwegians, is in a great deal of trouble. That is why it is so disappointing and surprising that the government would be selling out our industry in that regard.
It is often heard, when we deal with trade issues, that some parts of the bill will be good, particular when one rhymes off the list of countries involved. In fact, it can raise eyebrows when we say that we find offence with the treaty with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. However, the government is throwing out a very important industry. It will be killing our shipbuilding industry if this agreement goes forward, notably to the profit of Norway, which has become a powerhouse in this field. This is most disturbing.
We know Conservative ideology. The argument of the Conservatives is any trade agreement is good in and of itself and we do not have to look at the details. However, that is precisely what we are called upon to do in the House. We are here to look at details, see how things will affect Canadians, go forward when they meet a certain number of criteria, including the fact that it will not take away Canadian jobs, and hold back when it will produce an undesired result such as the one I just described. However, they are not doing that. They are pushing it forward full throttle.
In this case, it is even more disappointing to hear that the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of this agreement. When we know how many jobs are involved with a shipbuilding concern like Davie in Lauzon, I have a great deal of difficulty understanding why the Bloc Québécois supports the bill.
We know how many jobs are at risk and will be lost if we sign this agreement, including those at the Davie shipyards in Lauzon-Lévis. I simply cannot understand why the Bloc Québécois members are supporting this.
I listened carefully to their arguments. They claim that there are other areas of activity, particularly the pharmaceutical industry, that could benefit from a levelling of agreements with a country like Switzerland. I have no problem with that. It is probably true. However, when such an agreement is reached, we must look at the overall picture and judge accordingly. There is no overriding reason why we should destroy the shipbuilding industry and Quebec's shipyards. I just mentioned the Davie shipyard in Lauzon, but there is also the very active Ocean Group Inc., which is located just a little further downstream from Quebec City on the north shore. There is no reason we should destroy this industry in Quebec. Those who vote in favour of this agreement with the European Free Trade Association will have a lot of explaining to do later on.
It is not unusual that the Liberals would vote for it. Over the past three years—this is the Conservatives' fourth year in power—their bootlicking has defied imagination. There is not one subject on which the Liberal Party has taken a stand. It does not have principles. It does not believe in anything, except for its own opportunism.
Therefore, that the Liberals would sell out again and vote for the EFTA agreement does not surprise us in the least. They have supported the Conservative government at least 70 times. We are becoming increasingly used to their conduct. At present, they have a right-leaning leader. He is a man who used the prestige of his position at Harvard University to support the war in Iraq. In some of his writings, he attempts to justify the use of torture on human beings.
We will see what the Liberals do with the gun registry. Probably the same thing they did to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, an important Canadian law that had been around for about 100 years. They supported the Conservatives, who scrapped it, and they also voted with the Conservatives to eliminate the right of women to receive equal pay for work of equal value.
That is the sad reality of just a few months with their new leader, a rightist who has shifted to the right. He should at least be identified and named so that the public clearly knows that the party whose name sounds like the word liberty, the Liberal Party, has become a weak version of the Conservative Party with its right-leaning leader.
Therefore, we are not surprised to see the Liberals rising to vote with the Conservatives time after time. What is surprising and disappointing this time is that, despite the arguments they made, the Bloc Québécois is voting with the Conservatives to impose this new agreement on Quebec and Canada that will destroy our marine industry and crush workers across Canada in this crucial sector.
In closing, I would like to thank and acknowledge the courage of all the men and women who wrote to us asking that we keep our resolve and fight this bill. We will continue to support the workers, to condemn the shift to the right by the Liberals who systematically support the Conservatives, and to lament the fact that, this time, the Bloc Québécois is throwing in its lot with the Conservatives to the detriment of the workers in Quebec and Canada.