House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.


Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 28 petitions.

ImmigrationRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

York West Ontario


Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure on behalf of our government to table the 1995 plan for immigration levels.

One year ago this week our Liberal government took office and put in motion a new style of governing. That new approach included the creation of a department for citizenship and immigration. This new department better reflects the relationship that has always existed in Canada between newcomers to our country and nation building. The two are mutually reinforcing. Liberals believe in the positive constructive force that is immigration.

Ten months ago I launched a process of consultation with Canadians on the future direction of our immigration program. Our consultations were guided by two principles: first, to engage Canadians in an informed and constructive debate, to debate issues, to debate facts, to debate figures, to debate expectations, to debate aspirations of what we want for our country, and to try to put aside as best we can, as dispassionately as we could as a nation, the myths and some of the misconceptions that unfortunately from time to time have gripped this very emotional area of federal public policy.

The second was to reach out more broadly to Canadians, not only to talk to the traditional groups that have helped build this positive immigration policy but to involve all Canadians who wanted to make a contribution. The views of special interests are important but they must be balanced with the interests of all Canadians.

In so far as that is concerned, it was important to try to bring into the tent for the very first time, at our government's initiative, the non-traditional players of immigration; to bring in the boards of education, the municipalities, the labour movement and the labour organizations, to give force to citizens, the ability to go to the microphones at York University or at the other places at which we met, and to voice their feelings and their beliefs about Canada and the immigration policy. The process of what we were doing could also be said to be equally important as the substance of what we were debating. For the first time we were enlarging that tent so that we would be able to try to build a consensus among the Canadian lobby for what we want our immigration policies to do for our country in the future.

We wanted to actively encourage broad participation: Over 13,000 kits were distributed across Canada to school boards, elected officials, groups and individuals interested in immigration. One hundred and thirty thousand information tabloids were distributed. And Canadians responded.

From February to September thousands of Canadians told us what they thought in town hall meetings and study circles. We received hundreds of letters.

Six weeks ago we met in Ottawa at our national conference to listen and learn.

Today we are making the decisions that Canadians expect of their government and which participants asked us to make. Consultation will always be the hallmark of how this government decides policy. The ultimate purpose of government is to decide and to move forward.

Today we table before Parliament our immigration policy for 1995 and beyond, a policy rooted in our values and which reflects our ideals for our country.

While we only have a few minutes to distil this plan, the document entitled "A Broader Vision, Immigration and Citizenship Plan, 1995-2000" represents a fundamental change to Canada's immigration program. In the past I believe too much emphasis was placed on the numbers game rather than on trying to produce a long term comprehensive plan that would give full

expression and comfort and understandability to that eventual number.

From our consultations a new approach has emerged, one that calls for a broader vision and a clearer sense of Canada's objectives. First, instead of putting a single number before the House of Commons, this plan introduces the concept of a range, a realistic range that for 1995 anticipates between 190,000 and 215,000 immigrants and refugees will come to Canada.

It is a range, realistic and honest, in terms of more or less what we would anticipate based on our decisions as a government and as a country but also on what those inventories across the world will yield because some of them are low. There are fewer independents coming to the country whether because it was of the bad shape of our economy or the fact that those economies were doing well or the perception that the doors were closed. The number of families is down. The number of business immigrants is down for similar reasons. We also have to take stock of those inventories across the world.

What we heard across the country was the need for a better balance among the four categories of immigration. Sometimes we were too obsessed with the global one number figure that became the lightning rod for most of the debate. Instead we have four categories that we should pay close attention to and then decide how one plays off the other. What are the tradeoffs that we need to make between a family class category, an independent category, a business category and a refugee category?

It seems to me that as a Parliament and as a government we need to give greater clarity, greater focus and make some of the trade-off decisions of how those compartments play with each other rather than simply talking about the end number of the equation.

In looking to that balance the share of economic immigrants will rise from 43 per cent to roughly 55 per cent of overall immigration, while the family component will shift from 51 per cent to approximately 44 per cent over the period of the plan.

This will make the immigration and citizenship program more affordable and sustainable. We remain determined to target immigration levels of approximately 1 per cent of the population over the long term based on our ability to absorb and settle immigrants.

It should also be said that the whole question of the principle of family is not only contained in the family class category but throughout the program so that when we invite an independent immigrant to Canada that individual brings with him his immediate family. It is the same thing when we invite and accept a business immigration applicant as it is when we accept a refugee, he or she has an ability of bringing in the family.

The family class is also beyond that narrow category and the principle of family is applied equally and compassionately across the spectrum which is based on a Liberal philosophy for immigration.

Moreover, changes to the selection of skilled workers and immigrants will increase the economic benefits of immigration and lower the cost eventually of settlement. It is important as our documents raise that our point system be changed and adapted to the kind of skills that our country at this time requires.

Pre-eminent among those skills is the whole question of language. That is priority number one, here in our country and how we deal with language abroad in terms of our visa officers.

Other skills and aspects are education, age, experience, moving away from just the job classification to basic job skills that will allow those individuals to make an easier transition into the new economy, as well as the feature where people will now be having two, three and sometimes four careers in their lifetime. That shift is not born out of any movement. It is taking stock of the economy today. The forces moving the world are very different from the forces following the second world war. The tools we use in immigration, namely the point system, must be adapted to the pace of that change both globally and here at home.

The new approach to family class will respond to the desires of many who cannot now sponsor those they would like to bring to Canada. It will also ensure that all sponsors are held responsible for fulfilling their obligations.

Beginning with the 1995 plan, the refugee and immigration components will be managed separately. This will underscore the distinction between the protection and resettlement goals of the humanitarian and refugee program, of which Canadians should be very proud, and the economic and social objectives that frame the skilled workers, business and family class categories.

The plan renews our commitment to develop a new Citizenship Act designed to create a common bond between Canadians by birth and by choice. An increased emphasis on responsibilities, apart from rights, will underline the value of citizenship for all Canadians. Finally, the plan confirms our commitment to co-operate with the provinces in our shared responsibility for immigration.

The other major document we are tabling today talks about the strategic framework, looking down the 10-year road. I outline the direction the government intends to take immigration and

citizenship policy into the 21st century. It sets out a framework based on five basic and key elements.

First, the enrichment of our social fabric through selection of immigrants and their successful integration into Canadian society as full participating citizens.

Second, the supporting of Canadian economic growth through actively promoting our country as the best place in the world in which to live and work, something that the UN has recognized two years out of the last three.

Third, the recognition of the importance that Canadians place on the family and maintaining that program in a manner that is sustainable and responsible.

Fourth, the realization of Canada's humanitarian mission through a coherent strategy that separates the refugee and immigration streams and meets the twin challenges of protection and prevention. It reflects fully the commitments which the government made in September at the International Conference of Population and Development in Cairo.

Fifth, the provision of fair access and ensuring that the rule of law is respected at all times by all people in our country.

Throughout the elaborate and extensive consultations Canadians pointed to a loss of confidence in the immigration program's ability to control who enters Canada and to enforce the Immigration Act against those who have been ordered removed. Through legislative initiatives such as Bill C-44, which is before the House, we are seeking to restore Canadians' confidence and thus contribute to the government's broader goal of creating safe streets, safe homes, safe communities.

The consultations also reveal that Canadians are concerned about the sustainability of Canada's social benefit system. The government is addressing that broader challenge by opening a dialogue on improving social security in Canada. For our part we will contribute to the solution by focusing more on those immigrants less likely to require public assistance.

Changes to the sponsorship obligations and their more rigorous enforcement will enhance the fairness of access to social benefits. We have already begun discussions with the provinces and agreements on information sharing have already been signed with six municipalities in Ontario.

In closing, a successful immigration policy has always been part of our history and our development as a nation. Liberals believe that immigration has worked well for Canada. Liberals believe that the forces of migration have helped build a nation when many other people view these forces as a negative.

Liberals also believe that we need to manage those positive forces in the face of monumental change across the globe. The strategy and plan that I have tabled on behalf of my caucus and government sets the right direction as we prepare Canada for the 21st century.

The plan is fair, sustainable and affordable to the newcomer and to Canadians. I invite all members, indeed all Canadians, to join with us as we move forward boldly, confidently and aggressively into the 21st century.

ImmigrationRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, although we received only this morning the document tabled today by the minister, we still have a few preliminary comments to make.

As the minister said, consultations lasted 10 months and cost $1 million. Unfortunately, the paper before us does not outline a real policy on immigration and citizenship. We do not detect a dominant theme either in the minister's speech or in the document tabled today. We still do not know where the minister is going with regard to immigration and citizenship. We thought that today the minister would announce decisions or reveal what he intends to do in the years to come.

All he said is that, in 1995, the number of immigrants will be between 190,000 and 215,000 and the number of refugees, between 24,000 and 32,000. Incidentally, this violates and contradicts the red book, whose goal was 1 per cent of the population per year.

The goals set by the minister himself for the year 1994 will not be achieved. No more than 230,000 people will immigrate to Canada in 1994, instead of the 250,000 announced by the minister at the beginning of the year. We, however, agree with the minister about reducing the number of immigrants. We were told that the number of applications to immigrate to Canada is down, and we are also aware that the economic recovery is still creating difficulties, that the unemployment rate remains very high in Canada and even more so in Quebec.

We would like the minister to focus on immigrant integration in 1995. Thousands of immigrants who come here cannot find jobs and do not receive government assistance either.

As for refugees, we want to ensure that the minister will continue to honour Canada's international humanitarian commitments to this class of people seeking Canada's protection.

There are still too many refugees in the world-more than 20 million-and Canada must do its share in this regard; we in the Bloc Quebecois are very sensitive to this problem. The documentation submitted by the minister does not give us a very clear indication of whether he intends to respect Quebec's jurisdiction for immigration, if he intends to comply fully with the McDougall-Gagnon-Tremblay agreement signed in 1991,

which recognizes Quebec's exclusive right over the integration, reception and selection of immigrants.

As you all know, Quebec is a distinct society. It has its own official language and as the only French-speaking state in North America, it must protect and encourage francophone immigration. Neither does the minister's document show us how he intends to promote immigration to Canada. We know that there is a growing feeling of hostility to immigrants and especially refugees, but we believe that the Canadian government and the provinces will have to inform the public about the benefits and positive aspects of this immigration.

Immigration has made a tremendous contribution to Canada's economic prosperity. Immigration is necessary to deal with the demographic problems in Canada and Quebec. Immigration is necessary to renew our rapidly aging population. This must be explained. We must tell Canadians that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, that despite all the propaganda to the contrary, immigrants make less use of social services in Canada, that the crime rate of immigrants is less than the crime rate of Canadians born here.

In his document, the minister does not say either how he will resolve the problem of appointments to the Immigration and Refugee Board. He continues to make appointments. Complaints are still coming from lawyers, immigration and refugee groups, clients and the public at large. Some appointments not based on competence are still being made. Some appointments are still purely political and we would have liked the minister to propose mechanisms for making non-partisan appointments.

Is it possible to create a committee of lawyers from the bar or immigration organizations so that there is a pre-selection before the commissioner is appointed? The minister does not deal with another problem, the backlog at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Too many cases are outstanding, too many applications take months and even years. The minister unfortunately endorsed the Conservative Party's decision to set up a processing super centre in Vegreville, Alberta, and this has caused a great many problems.

People can no longer find their way around. Today you can no longer reach an official to explain the situation. You have to keep calling numbers which are always busy. It is not easy to obtain the documents to be completed and to submit an application.

Civil servants are not pleased with the system. Jobs were eliminated in Quebec and in all the other provinces. Services provided in French by the centre in Vegreville are not adequate.

The minister also says that he will table a bill on citizenship. We are waiting for that legislation. I ask the minister to reconsider the concept of dual citizenship. The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has recommended to the minister that dual citizenship be eliminated. Such a measure would be an unacceptable step back, considering that countries now recognize more and more the concept of dual or triple citizenship, and that the mobility of people has increased considerably throughout the world. We cannot eliminate such a precious right for all Canadians and particularly for those immigrants who want to keep a tie with their country of origin. This concept is good for Canada and also for immigrants, who can be good communicators with their country of origin and promote Canadian trade there. It is good that people can have this dual citizenship if they want it.

We are also concerned by the fact that, in some documents given to us today, the minister talks about occupational training and about promoting co-operation between his department and the Department of Human Resources Development, regarding immigrants. We, Bloc Quebecois members, have clearly said that occupational training falls under exclusive provincial jurisdiction. The federal government should not interfere in that sector. The provinces are closer to the client group. They are more aware of the needs in manpower training. The minister now says that his department will set up a vocational training centre for immigrants, in co-operation with the Department of Human Resources Development. This is unacceptable and the Bloc Quebecois strongly opposes this proposal by the minister.

I also want to say that the Bloc Quebecois is a pro-immigration party. More often than not, we do not share the somewhat exaggerated views of our friends from the Reform Party regarding immigration and citizenship issues. Quebec is, and remains, a country, a nation and a province open to immigration. There is a consensus in our province in favour of accepting immigrants. Incidentally, we anticipate that, for 1995, Quebec will maintain the objective of 40,000 new immigrants; for 1996, it will be 42,000, while for 1997, the number should reach 43,000. Bloc Quebecois members, as well as Quebec society as a whole, are open to immigration, which we consider to be a source of social, cultural and economic wealth.

I am proud to be an immigrant myself. I am proud to be a Quebecer and to be of Chilean origin.

ImmigrationRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am dumbfounded and Canadians should be outraged over what has just been revealed here by the minister.

Almost a year ago this minister initiated a $1 million consultation during which thousands of well meaning patriotic Canadians put time, talent and energy to work proposing changes to immigration. During the last several months this minister has engaged in a series of well planned media leaks, floating trial balloons, raising expectations, talking a tough line

and trying to out reform the Reform Party in policy, or at least that is the impression he has left.

In the last week the minister admitted to a cost to the taxpayer of at least $700 million in family sponsorship breakdowns. He promised he would do something about it. This morning we found out that nothing has changed, nothing has been done. The consultations were a fraud. There has been a lot of talk, talk, talk, study, study, study, and it looks like the studying will continue.

For anyone who wants a lesson in old style politics, we are learning it right now. It is a lesson in trying to manipulate the media, a lesson in trying to manipulate the public, a lesson in trying to please everyone by not offending anyone. It is a lesson in government inaction.

One need look no further than this government and its minister of immigration to get a good picture of what has happened. Let me outline with no fancy language or rhetoric what the minister is going to do this year.

The percentage of economic immigrants with their families was 43 per cent. In 1995 that number will still be 43 per cent. The percentage in the family reunification class of those already in Canada was 51 per cent. This year it will still be 51 per cent. Other immigrants were 6 per cent last year. This year, surprise, surprise, it is 6 per cent. The total number of immigrants accepted this year is 230,000. The total number expected next year is up to 215,000, a change of only 6 per cent.

That is not a cut. It is nothing more than an expectation of lower application levels. The levels are so high that our sources in immigration tell us there are not enough applications to fill the slots. This minister wants to take credit for lower numbers and those lower numbers have nothing whatsoever to do with government action.

A bond for sponsors will be studied but no immediate action taken. During the year or so this government plans to study this issue, Canadians will have to fork out at least $700 million more in sponsorship breakdowns. Where is the enforcement of what is happening here already to save those taxpayers dollars?

Changes to refugee policy, there are virtually none, except an ongoing amnesty that rewards those who can tie up the system for three years. There are no changes to control and enforcement, except for the defective Bill C-44 which is already pending in the House.

This minister said changes would be made that would make immigration work to the benefit of society. He said that more of an emphasis would be placed on independent immigrants. However this plan for the next year says that family reunification is still the highest priority of the government and that the ultimate goal of immigration levels equal to 1 per cent of the population still stands. We are talking about numbers in the vicinity of 300,000.

ImmigrationRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.


Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry, but we cannot follow the debate because we cannot hear the simultaneous translation.

ImmigrationRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order. We were having technical problems, which have now been solved.

ImmigrationRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Listen to the minister's math on page 8. In 1995 accompanying family and sponsored families together are expected to make up about 80 per cent of total immigration from the broader vision immigration and citizenship outline. On page 9, economic immigrants, skilled workers and business immigrants will make up 43 per cent of the immigrant component for 1995. This percentage remains unchanged from 1994. If you add up family and independent immigration you get a whopping total of 123 per cent. That is Liberal math. Nothing changes. The numbers are fudged. No action is being taken. Today's announcement is pure smoke and mirrors.

This government thinks the Canadian people can be swayed into believing that non-action is action, that no real change in numbers means a cut, that tough talk equals tough action in the minds of the voters. Well I have news for government members. The people will not buy it.

Today's announcement says that enforcement will be beefed up and that removals will be clarified when in fact the minister has created a permanent amnesty for failed refugee claimants. That is pretty convenient. Those people who have tied up and backlogged the system with taxpayer funded appeals, with legal manipulation for three years get an automatic amnesty.

This government punishes those applicants for immigration who make a real contribution to this country, those who play by the rules, who fill out the right forms, who wait in queues that last for years in some cases. At the same time the government rewards those applicants who come in illegally, who work the system with legal aid lawyers and who can evade removal for three years. That is disgraceful.

Let us look at the numbers again. The 1994 plan calls for 30,700 skilled workers. The 1995 plan calls for 24,000 to 26,000 skilled workers. The 1994 plan calls for 6,000 business class immigrants. The 1995 plan calls for 4,000 to 5,000 business class immigrants. The total economic class was 97,700 in 1994. This year it is 71,000 to 80,000.

In other words we are looking at substantial cuts to those immigrants who can make an immediate and substantial contribution to the economy. There is no change to the level of those immigrants whose contribution is unknown and there is an amnesty for those immigrants who jump queue and abuse the system.

Again the independent and economic classes are dropping substantially and do you know why? Because the same woolly headed policies that are guiding the immigration department are also guiding the finance department, the human resources department, and on and on.

This Liberal government has created an economic climate of high taxes, huge debt and low return on investments. It is discouraging those immigrants who could contribute the most to the economy of the country. In fact in Calgary there are something like 400 business class immigrants who have not invested their money because they do not see any advantage in doing so. Canada is no longer an attractive place for investors and business people. It is however the most attractive destination in the world for queue jumpers and failed refugee claimants.

The immigration plan speaks of a broader vision, a 10-year framework. It is a broader vision of the same old thing, a new framework for the same old policies. It has cost the immigrant program its legitimacy. It has discouraged independent immigrants. It has made the Canadian people fundamentally question the role of immigration to Canada. That is a shame.

Immigration can and should work for the country. Immigration should be about nation building. That term has been used by the government time and time again but it really rings hollow when said from that side. It should be about enriching Canada. It should be about benefiting immigrants and Canadians alike.

The plan is about deceit, number fudging and politicking. The government has let down immigrants and Canadians alike.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 1st, 1994 / 10:45 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 45th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. It concerns the membership of committees.

Mr. Speaker, I think you will find that there is unanimous consent to dispense with the reading of the 45th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Also, with the consent of the House, I would like to move that the 45th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, tabled in the House today, be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Shall all questions stand?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members


Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I wish to inform the House that pursuant to Standing Order 33(2)(b) because of the ministerial statement Government Orders will be extended by 40 minutes.

The House resumed from October 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-57, an act to implement the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario


Lyle Vanclief LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure to be able to speak for a few minutes this morning on Bill C-57 and to talk about world trade and the importance of world trade to Canada and to Canadians, in particular the men and women who work in the country's agriculture and agri-food sector.

The legislation we are discussing today will establish the new World Trade Organization or the WTO. It will incorporate the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, a sweeping 120-nation accord which was agreed to in principle in December last year and was approved by member countries last March or April in Morocco. The agreement and the WTO which will administer it offer great benefits for Canadians in the creation of jobs, wealth and the opening and securing of new and vital markets for the country's export commodities.

Canada is a nation that is dependent on trade, and we all know it. Nowhere is that more evident than in the agriculture and agri-food sector. In 1993 Canadian agri-food exports of $13.3 billion contributed a surplus of almost $3 billion to Canada's balance of trade, almost one-third of Canada's total merchandise trade balance. As former Liberal agriculture minister, Eugene Whelan, once noted, agriculture pays the bills.

At the same time Canada's share of the world agri-food market has declined since the early 1960s. In contrast the European union's share, particularly that of France and the Netherlands, has increased significantly. From Canada's per-

spective exports to Europe fell from $1.35 billion in 1981 to about three-quarters of a billion in 1993. At the same time our imports from the European union rose from about $400 million to almost $1 billion. This tells us that while the sector is doing well it must continue to do better.

Last year the industry and federal and provincial governments agreed on the goal of increasing Canada's agri-food exports by 50 per cent from $13 billion per year in 1993 to about $20 billion per year in 2000.

In July of this year the agriculture ministers reaffirmed that goal and added a further target of achieving a 3.5 per cent share of world agri-food trade. That is an objective in line with our historic share, but it will push the requirements to meet that to exports which will reach a value and total of about $23 billion.

In addition to steps that are being undertaken in Canada, the new WTO will have a large role to play in increasing our exports, increasing jobs and increasing prosperity. The World Trade Organization represents a significant step forward for the agriculture and agri-food sector. The agreement sets down for the first time ever clear rules for international trade of agricultural products.

The agreement represents a substantial reduction in trade distorting export subsidies, better trade rules for agriculture, and improved and more secure access to markets around the world for Canadian producers and processors. It will greatly assist Canadian producers and processors in their continuing efforts to develop new markets around the world. The new markets will be in addition to the Mexican and U.S. markets that we have obtained through NAFTA. New rules will apply equally to all countries and the specific exemptions of countries will be eliminated. This will allow Canadians to compete in a more predictable and fairer international trading environment.

What does it mean in real terms? The respected OECD or Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development predicts that for all sectors, the total, the agreement will inject almost $8 billion into the Canadian economy by the year 2002. That is $8 billion into the pockets of working men and women across the country over the next eight years.

The government was elected to create jobs and wealth. That is why I am bullish on the WTO. I know some members, particularly those from Quebec, Ontario and Atlantic Canada, have some genuine concerns about just what sort of impact the agreement will have on the country's vital and prosperous supply managed sector, the dairy, egg and poultry sector.

Let me take this opportunity to assure the House that supply management will be able to continue to operate as an effective Canadian approach to producing and marketing dairy and poultry products. The agreement supports the continuation of the supply managed industry through two fronts. The first front is the import tariffs first announced in December 1993. They will maintain a high level of protection for the sector. It is true these levels will be reduced by a total of 15 per cent over the course of the next six years, but it will still afford producers and processors with the protection they require. The six-year phase in period will give them ample opportunity to make the necessary adjustments in order to compete and win in the new international marketplace.

Imports which will be coming in under the minimum access commitments will not unduly disrupt the Canadian market. For butter the access commitment will rise from about 1,900 tonnes to around 3,200 tonnes from the year 1995 to the year 2000, a five-year period. In the poultry area import access of chicken will continue to be governed by the CUSTA or the FTA. Access for turkey will rise slightly to about 5,600 tonnes by the year 2000 while egg access will also rise very slowly. It is unlikely there would be imports of dairy, poultry or egg products outside these access commitments since the tariff levels will make them uneconomical.

The government regards very seriously its commitment to the future and to the well-being of the supply managed sector. That is why on December 16, 1993 the federal and provincial agriculture ministers formed a small task force, headed by myself, to look into the specific implications for Canada's supply managed industries.

After consulting with all stakeholders the task force proposed that an industry ad hoc review committee in each case be established for each commodity group sector. These ad hoc committees have been meeting throughout the year, will be meeting over the fall, and will continue to meet to determine whether a consensus can be reached on orderly marketing frameworks for the future. The task force was scheduled to report to the federal-provincial ministers meeting in December. I can report the results are very promising, although they have been incredibly challenging and are not all completed yet. Successful conclusions will be reached in order to maintain the sustainability of our orderly marketing system to the benefit of the industry and to all Canadians.

The World Trade Organization also holds benefits for other sectors within the Canadian agricultural industry. Volumes of European union and United States wheat shipped with export subsidies will be reduced over the next six years by 40 per cent from the levels they are at present. The reductions in export subsidies for wheat, barley, vegetable oils and other grains are expected to significantly improve market prospects for Canadian grains and oilseeds in world markets.

The agreement offers good export potential for other commodities as well. Replacing import restrictions and levies with tariffs in the European union, Japan and Korea will result in additional export opportunities for beef, pork, malt and a range of processed food products. The inclusion of an agreement on intellectual property rights will offer protection for Canadian whisky and wine names. This is expected to improve the marketing of these products throughout the world.

Processed food and vegetables such as French fried potatoes, canned corn, frozen blueberries and raspberries, and other products such as honey, maple syrup and apples, will benefit from reduced tariff and non-tariff barriers notably in the European union and Japan. Special crops such as dried peas, beans, lentils, tobacco, mustard, canary seed and alfalfa will also benefit from improved access. For example, the European union will eliminate tariffs on lentils and white pea beans over the phase in period. Japan will reduce its tariffs on lentils by 36 per cent.

A framework of rules will reduce the misuse of technical measures as unjustified barriers to trade. Measures to protect human, animal and plant life or health, which measures were usually referred to as sanitary and phytosanitary measures, will be subject to clear disciplines. We will continue to have the right to establish the level of health protection that we consider appropriate in Canada. However, the measures any other country uses to achieve that level of protection must be based on a sound scientific approach.

As I mentioned earlier, the WTO will for the first time establish clear rules for international trade of agricultural products and eliminate heavy handed and unfair trade rules and restrictions. A good example is the U.S. and its use of the section 22, a trade measure it has used that has been featured prominently in recent Canada-United States bilateral relations.

When the World Trade Organization is implemented in 1995 the United States will have to give up its GATT waiver which allows it to take section 22 trade actions. Obviously there will continue to be disagreements in our large and mutually beneficial trade. We will deal with those on an individual basis as they arise. Thanks to the WTO a particularly onerous piece of trade protection such as section 22 will be a thing of the past.

As countries around the globe change to meet their WTO commitments, Canada too will have to make some adjustments in order to comply with the new world of international trade.

While the export subsidy provisions of the agreement will have an impact on the Western Grain Transportation Act, the Government of Canada has already been consulting with the sector to reform the WGTA. This consultation is designed to ensure that the WGTA better meets the needs of producers, industry and Canada's export customers and to bring it in line, along with other government programs and policies, with the new fiscal realities being faced by the government.

This consultation will ensure that affected stakeholders will have a vital role to play in crafting a made in Canada reform of the WGTA. Over the course of the next few months the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food will conclude these consultations with a view to being in a position to make an announcement early in 1995. The government is confident that these reforms can be implemented long before the World Trade Organization reduction provisions would take effect.

The world is changing and it is imperative that Canada change with it, lest we will be left behind. The WTO will usher in a new, vibrant and exciting period in international trade, a period where clear trade rules will replace unfair and discriminatory trade barriers, where Canadian products will be able to compete in markets around the world on their own merit and not be hobbled by the extra weight of trade restrictions, where Canadian producers, processors and exporters do not head for the end zone only to find that the goal posts have been moved.

As I said at the beginning, Canada is a trading nation. Much of its wealth depends on trade. Fully one in four jobs in this country are trade related. The agriculture sector, indeed all sectors, need the stability and the market certainty that the World Trade Organization has to offer.

Canadians are ready, willing and able to do the job. They simply require access to the proper tools with which to do that job. The WTO will provide them with the necessary tools to compete and to win the export markets, to further hone our competitive edge and to create jobs and prosperity for all Canadians. I think they deserve that chance.

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11 a.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the parliamentary secretary for his speech on the World Trade Organization this morning. He shares a view that a lot of us share, that it is vitally important to Canada to implement the World Trade Organization.

I was interested in his comments regarding agriculture and the fact that agriculture probably is one of the biggest winners in the GATT negotiations. For the first time we have trade rules established that are going to govern agriculture. I would like to ask if the parliamentary secretary shares my view that one important sector in agriculture still needs quite a bit of work, and that is the whole area of supply management. For the first time border restrictions have been converted to reducing tariffs. Very high levels of tariffs are set. It is my understanding that we have a second round of negotiations in agriculture down the

road, either in five or six years, under the World Trade Organization, once it is set up.

I wonder if he shares the view that it is imperative that we continue to move this process along toward reducing tariffs with the ultimate goal in Canada and the United States of having free trade in the supply managed sector as well. Would it not be important to ask the supply managed industries to move toward a certain period of time? Everybody realizes that they need some time to adjust. I certainly do because these people have financial obligations which they had made under the rules of the day.

However the new World Trade Organization is going to shed a lot of light on the fact that Canada has some weaknesses at home, as does the United States, in the area of supply managed tariffs that are extremely high. I wonder if the parliamentary secretary could share his views on how that can be achieved.

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11 a.m.


Lyle Vanclief Liberal Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member across expects members on this side of the House to say that they do not believe in supply management of the dairy, egg and poultry sector, he is speaking to the wrong group. We believe in it. We support it. We are working with those sectors.

I have had the opportunity and still have the privilege of chairing the task force that is working with all of the stakeholders in the supply managed sector. Each one of the commodities, be they dairy, egg or poultry, are adjusting and evolving.

I am sure the member is somewhat familiar with what has taken place during the last few weeks in the poultry industry. The supply managed industry has provided, at a reasonable cost to Canadian consumers, the highest quality, most constant supply of those products that any country in the world has without fluctuating prices. The supply is always there. It is of high quality and it is safe.

In return it has given a tremendous amount of stability not only to the primary producer but to the processors and to the complete agri-food chain. They know where their product is coming from. They negotiate what the price is going to be and then the consumer knows that product will always be there and be of top quality.

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11:05 a.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, during his main speech, the hon. member for Prince Edward-Hastings said earlier that supply management could be maintained. And then he started to talk about higher tariffs that could protect farmers working in a supply managed industry. Every member in this House knows full well that the supply and demand oriented farming industry is concentrated mainly in Quebec and in Ontario and that supply is regulated by quotas.

In order to reassure me and to reassure our farmers, be they involved in dairy farming, poultry farming or egg production, can the hon. member tell us what will happen to their quotas?

Again last week, I met a big dairy farmer who told me that he evaluated his quota at $750,000. He feared that the value of his quota would decline, even maybe down to nothing after six, seven or eight years. He said: "Mr. Chrétien, my quota was my pension fund. If it is not worth a thing tomorrow morning, I have lost my pension fund". If he loses his quota, this would be a hard blow to the real value of his farm.

I would like the hon. member for Prince Edward-Hastings to reassure us, since, as you know, Quebec accounts for 48 per cent of all dairy production. Of course, most Western farmers are not subject to supply management. For these farmers, GATT is obviously a marvellous thing, but for Quebec farmers, it may not be so wonderful.

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11:05 a.m.


Lyle Vanclief Liberal Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, I beg to differ with the hon. member for Frontenac. The dairy farmers of Quebec and all of the supply managed sectors in Quebec know the value of supply management. If the translation was correct, he indicated that they did not realize the value or they did not know. However, in his previous comments he said that they did.

Forty-eight per cent of industrial milk production in Canada is held by producers in Quebec, not 48 per cent of the total production. There is a lot of fluid milk or consumer milk but the industrial milk is that milk which goes for cheese and further processing. That is held in Quebec.

I have said for a number of years and I will continue to say that even though there has been some tariffication used as border controls rather than a quantitative control, I am very confident that supply management will be there for those sectors for a long period of time.

I question the member's statement of the value of quota. If the member looks at what has happened to the value of quota, he will find with very few exceptions that its value in the last number of months or since the GATT agreement of about a year ago has not increased. I do not believe it has decreased, but if it has it has been a very marginal amount. That happens over the years because of production et cetera. It will go up and down.

It is solid and it can be maintained. The government has shown very clearly in working with the all the stakeholders in the industry over the last number of months that it is our intention to maintain it for the betterment of all Canadians right from the farmer to the consumer.

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11:10 a.m.


Benoît Tremblay Bloc Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, we continue this morning second reading of this bill to implement the new GATT agreements and to establish the World Trade Organization. I must say this debate was brilliantly launched by the Minister for International Trade and by my colleague for Verchères who is the international issues critic for the Bloc Quebecois.

Second reading provides for a discussion of the principles and general direction of a bill while more technical aspects are closely analyzed in committee and, if necessary, the Bloc Quebecois will table amendments at third reading.

After long negotiations, Canada, like all other GATT members, must pass legislation bringing into force at the target or desired date of January 1st, 1995, the GATT agreements reached last April. These agreements strengthen significantly the legislative framework for international trade and define more clearly the rules of the game. They increase the number of sectors subject to these rules, improve the trade conflicts settlement mechanisms and, finally, establish the World Trade Organization, which we have been waiting for since the second world war.

This is considerable progress towards equal opportunity on the world markets for small and medium-sized countries like Canada and Quebec and, in fact, most countries of the world. Even if great economic powers like the United States, Europe and Japan still largely control the negotiation process, once they agree to new rules, these rules apply automatically to all GATT members, which, then, can benefit from a greater protection for their international trade activities.

Whith a level playing field, performance on the international markets depends less and less on the size of a country and more and more on its ability to design, produce and sell high quality products and services at competitive prices. Under such circumstances, small and medium sized countries can do quite well and even succeed better than large entities, as is proven every day in the world economy.

I understand perfectly well the enthusiasm shown by the Minister for International Trade who said in his opening speech, and I quote: "By creating a more open and stable international trading environment this agreement will generate increased Canadian exports and investment".

The minister is quite right and I can assure him that, on the eve of becoming a sovereign country, Quebec shares his enthusiasm and his understanding of the evolution of international trade rules.

Allow me to read another excerpt from his speech: "Canada's economic strength now and in the future will depend fundamentally on our willingness to stay on the leading edge of freer trade, to continue to take an active and creative role in forging new relationships and in building new structures that over time can extend the reach of a rules based international order.

The multinational system centred on the World Trade Organization will be the foundation of that international order, but it is not the only element of what is and must be a complex and constantly evolving trade order. We must harness for positive ends the profound forces pushing us all toward deeper economic integration. Today it is more accurate to speak not of trade policy as such but of international economic policy". And listen carefully, this is the minister speaking: "Jurisdictions and policy areas that have long been considered to be quintessentially domestic are now increasingly subject to international negotiations and rule making".

The minister is perfectly right. Again, Quebec is in total agreement with the Minister for International Trade, so much so that one might wonder if the minister consulted Mr. Jacques Parizeau or Mr. Bernard Landry before he wrote his speech. That is exactly what we keep saying when we consider the future relations between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

On the eve of a referendum that will determine the political future of Quebec and of the rest of Canada, I have to admit it is heartening to hear at least one federal minister making the realistic, clear and enthusiastic statement of the rules and policies that will govern economic relations between Canada and Quebec.

That conclusion and the praise I give to the Minister for International Trade may come as a surprise, but it is quite simple and natural. How could the Canadian minister seek economic ties will all sovereign countries of this world and not with Quebec, when we already have significant and productive trade relations with the rest of Canada?

Canadians and Quebecers would have a hard time understanding such an attitude, and the whole world would be taken aback. But since other ministers, the Prime Minister included, do not have that same open and realistic attitude, let us specify what is at stake. While Quebecers wish their Canadian partners will have an open and realistic attitude, the rules governing our future economic relations will not depend on attitudes only, but largely on rules set under the GATT.

It is largely a matter of international law, the broadening and reinforcement of which the minister praised today. Article XXVI(5)(c) of the GATT agreement provides that a new state carved out of a country which is already a member of GATT automatically becomes a member on becoming a sovereign state, provided it accepts conditions and requirements applying to the parent state. It is quite simple and clear. A C. D. Howe Institute study says that most Canadian experts fully recognize that fact.

It is primarily a matter of law. Quebec has already said that it would apply for membership and that it would accept all conditions and requirements that apply now to Canada. The only choice for the international trade minister, then, is to welcome the future relations between Quebec and Canada with the same enthusiasm he demonstrates for other sovereign states. He should so advise the Prime Minister. Given that the Prime Minister just said he likes a good fight, especially with Quebec, he will probably not greet the GATT rules with the same enthusiasm as that shown by his Minister for International Trade.

According to what he said, if Quebec becomes politically independent, the rest of Canada will want to separate economically from Quebec while remaining associated with all other sovereign countries of the world. Well, Mr. Minister, you will have to tell your Prime Minister that Quebec being a de facto member of the GATT, the same rules will apply to Quebec as to all other sovereign countries members of the GATT, and the rest of Canada will have to abide by these rules.

In international trade or GATT terms, this very simple principle is called the most favoured nation treatment. When a country gives a tariff concession to another member, that concession must immediately and unconditionally apply to all similar products coming from all member countries. That is one rule of law that will considerably restrain the Prime Minister's aggressiveness.

But that is not all. GATT goes further. It does not merely prevent discrimination between countries. It also anticipates discrimination once the product is inside the recipient country and therefore prevents discrimination towards other domestic products. That is what we call the "national treatment". It requires that GATT members adopt legislations on sales, transport and usage of foreign products which are identical to those governing similar domestic products coming from national companies so that both foreign and domestic products be treated equally.

The Prime Minister will have to admit that, if he is to abide by the law, his leeway is limited. Naturally, if his aggressive instincts are too vivid, he could break the rules of law and trigger a trade war with Quebec.

If instincts were to prevail over reason, let me repeat word for word what his Minister for International Trade said when he tabled this bill. The agreement excludes the adoption of unilateral measures in response to trade disputes. The new integrated system of dispute settlement which would mean clearer rules, shorter waiting periods and, for the first time, an appeal process with a binding ruling, constitutes a major improvement in the previous GATT system.

Finally, the effectiveness of the rules depends on the means of having them enforced. You will note that we now have an appeal process with a binding ruling, which means the possibility of having them enforced.

Consequently, this comprehensive reform of the multilateral system of trade dispute settlement represents a major advantage, although that is impossible to quantify for commercially less important countries such as Canada, which are fundamentally vulnerable to the unilateral approach of economic giants. That would also apply, of course, to Quebec and Canada, so that there would be no unilateral action in response. That argument applies, of course.

What can we conclude from this short analysis of the GATT rules and the speech of the minister responsible for International Trade when comparing them to what the Prime Minister said about future economic relations between the rest of Canada and a sovereign Quebec?

I think that you will agree with me that the Prime Minister of Canada seems to confuse the preparing of the referendum campaign with the preparing of an Halloween party. Instead of clearly and simply presenting the true face of future economic relations between Quebec and Canada, he is looking for a disguise to make people insecure, to scare them before the referendum, while we all know that, after a winning referendum for Quebec, the rest of Canada would simply not have a choice of rules to apply. It would have to imperatively and minimally follow the GATT rules.

After the fact, the Prime Minister will undoubtedly seek to play down his strong language from the past referendum, the hardly concealed threats made before the referendum. He will probably want to explain to us that they were only minor mistakes which would certainly not force him to resign.

I must admit that, personally, I have a lot of difficulty respecting that kind of politician. A politician who was saying during the last election campaign that he would not sign the North American Free Trade Agreement without major renegotiation, and who rushed enthusiastically to sign it a few weeks after taking office. Today, he is playing exactly the same game with the future economic relations between Quebec and Canada.

During the last election, he did not fool Quebecers and they massively voted for members of the Bloc Quebecois. I dare hope that, today, the rest of Canada agrees more with the realism and enthusiasm of the Minister for International Trade, who is seeking to build open and stable economic relations with sovereign states, than with the narrow minded and obsolete attitude of the Prime Minister, when he talks about the future economic relations of a sovereign Quebec with the rest of Canada. The rest of Canada needs a spokesman like the Minister for International Trade to prepare its future economic relations with Quebec on an open, stable and productive base which

would fit into the irreversible evolution of international economic rules.

I can assure the minister that he will find in Quebec negotiators just as enthusiastic and determined as he is in supporting openness, stability and economic growth, something which would be mutually profitable.

Today, thanks to this bill, we were able to discuss GATT. I can say that we are just as prepared and willing to discuss possible negotiations with regard to free trade, the auto pact and all the other commercial rules that bind Quebec and Canada.

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11:30 a.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the comments by the hon. member from the Bloc about a potential trade relationship between Canada and Quebec as a result of a Quebec separation.

The hon. member has the perfect right to ask these questions even in a hypothetical situation in this Parliament. It is part of the longstanding plan to make what is unacceptable acceptable. If they talk about it long enough they will just wear us down and we will accept it as fact.

However, I would like to pose to my colleague the following scenario. Other Bloc speakers have addressed the importance of supply managed industries, particularly the dairy industry, to Quebec. As a matter of fact, with 25 per cent of the population Quebec industrial milk supplies almost 50 per cent of Canada's total needs.

In a sovereign Quebec competing on a worldwide basis for these fundamental products, what does my colleague think would happen to that quota in the rest of Canada? Does my hon. colleague think for one moment that consumers in the rest of the country would continue to pay a premium price for supply managed or priced fixed products?

Supply management is a euphemism depending upon whether you benefit from it or pay a premium for it. If you benefit from supply management it is great. If you happen to be a consumer it is price fixing. Supply management and price fixing depend upon which side of the equation you are on.

Sooner or later Quebec will not have the benefit of supply managed or price protected industries. Quebec will have to compete on a worldwide basis. Would the hon. member please respond to the core question. With a sovereign and separate Quebec does he think that the rest of the country will continue to buy Quebec products at a premium price?

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11:30 a.m.


Benoît Tremblay Bloc Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Edmonton Southwest for his comments and question. Of course, you can approach this debate on the general principle armed with technical data, but we will have an opportunity later on, in committee and at third reading, to talk about the more technical details, especially the GATT provisions regarding this issue. Canada cannot unilaterally change existing or agreed upon rules. We will have an opportunity to discuss this some other time.

In general, in Canada, we have a whole series of protected industries, although to a lesser degree than previously. The member may know that because of subsidies, transportation costs between Ontario and the maritimes are much lower than between Montreal and Louiseville, which is only 30 kilometres away. Subsidies are going to be decreasing because they will no longer be allowed on the world market in which we must compete.

The member also knows that for the past few years, it has cost billions of dollars to support grain producers and that in view of the present financial situation, it will soon no longer be possible to provide the same level of support. Trade negotiations are aimed at reducing grain subsidies in all the countries.

The same is true of production quotas. We are aware of it; indeed, it is planned under the GATT agreement. Nothing comes as a surprise. The GATT agreement provides for quotas to be replaced by tariffs which will gradually decrease.

What you are saying is that should Quebec become politically sovereign, Canada could unilaterally decide to speed up the reduction of tariffs, which is already provided for under the GATT agreements. My answer is that we have the GATT rules. You can always try it; we will see what happens during the GATT negotiations, unless Canada wants to withdraw from GATT and isolate itself from the rest of the world. The rules are there. Of course, farmers will have to adapt.

You know what the problem is. Assistance to help farmers adapt is completely ineffective.

I can tell you that last week the Bloc Quebecois met with the president and the executive director of Quebec's Union des producteurs agricoles. The executive director is a well known economist who has, on a number of occasions, advised the American government on agricultural issues and who knows the agricultural side of international trade very well. He is quite prepared to deal with the realities of GATT and the international scene and is aware that agriculture in Quebec will have to adapt, as it has in other countries.

As I am sure you know, the GATT agreements provide for a certain number of stages and, within a certain number of years,

these trade barriers will have to be lowered. But, as you know, there is also the problem of the quality of what we are feeding animals. When is a chicken a chicken? Is the quality of milk nowadays, with all the new hormones, the same as it once was? It has reached the point where we wonder whether we are looking at a chicken or a chemical product.

So, there are problems with respect to the quality of animal feed and of milk. A well known French scientist has said that, for the first time in the history of the world, we are beginning to wonder if science is serving mankind. For decades, until the atomic bomb, we were not in any doubt. Now we are asking questions about the food supply, in vitro fertilization, the list goes on. We are wondering if science is truly serving us. Before liberalizing all food trade with the United States, we must stop and think about the health of Canadians.

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11:35 a.m.


Ovid Jackson Liberal Bruce—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, it always dangerous when we get into the realm of the hypothetical. My friend from the Reform Party, the member for Edmonton Southwest, posed a very significant question. Whether Quebec separates or not it will have to deal with the rest of Canada.

I do not think there was an answer with regard to how we would deal with it, if it would be more effective than it is now or not. Our Prime Minister is from Quebec. Our finance minister comes from Quebec. The interests of Quebec can be best served by our current system. There will be some arrangements and what have you.

The rest of Canada will suffer and Quebec will suffer should it separate. The people of Quebec have to understand that they are going to substitute one set of people, intellectuals, government for another. They have to ask if that is going to be a better method than the current one. It will get terribly problematic.

The member for Edmonton Southwest posed a question about the milk quotas. We have a lot of agreements as part of the family. What happens when you are not part of the family and you are separated? What happens in a case like that? We are in the hypothetical realm.

The interests of Quebec are served best by the current system. Notwithstanding that, it will change because the dynamics of the way humanity is going have to change. We have come through different kinds of revolutions. We have come through the industrial revolution and we are into the information era now.

Quebec does a lot of good things. Its court systems are good. The way it deals with young people is good. There are a lot of things that the rest of Canada can learn from Quebec. However, for Quebec to go with this bunch of intellectuals who are just seeking power for their own sake I think is wrong.

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11:35 a.m.


Benoît Tremblay Bloc Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say that I did not hear anything of consequence in my colleague's intervention. As for his attempt to tell Quebeckers that he likes them better than their members of Parliament, I will let them be the judge of that.

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11:35 a.m.


Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, as I listened to the debate preceding my speech on Bill C-57, I am almost tempted to change it and make a few remarks with regard to a separate Quebec and what would happen to supply management as it now exists in the province of Quebec.

Needless to say, I would briefly say that the hon. member for Rosemont is circumventing the issue and is not prepared to deal very frankly with his constituents and the people of Quebec as to what would happen if there were a separate Quebec trying to deal in trade issues with the rest of Canada.

The purpose of my address this morning to the House is to speak to Bill C-57. I want to speak to it more directly as it affects grain transportation in western Canada. This bill will very directly affect the lives of my constituents in Kindersley-Lloydminster. On balance this bill will have a very positive effect on the farming industry and I fully understand the need for this piece of legislation.

I have some concerns about some of the things that are not in the bill and the fact that in many areas more should have been done. It is essential that this World Trade Organization agreement be implemented to move the combatants in the international trade war in the direction of trade, peace and sanity.

This large, three-inch thick bill represents the successful completion of the Uruguay round of the GATT and this agreement is the largest, most complex and most comprehensive trade negotiation ever undertaken. The major agreement for Canada is the introduction of a common set of rules to govern trade in agricultural products.

This bill has the effect of causing changes in 31 existing statutes to bring Canada's internal trade distortions in line with international regulations. I will concentrate my remarks today on the changes to the Western Grain Transportation Act and the impact they will have on the agricultural industry, particularly the Canadian Wheat Board region of Canada.

Unfortunately this legislation makes only the minimum possible changes to the WGTA in order for it to comply with the new GATT and World Trade Organization rules. I believe we must continue to work toward a complete overhaul of the WGTA to make it relevant to today's realities. I am discouraged that the

Liberals are making only minor changes only because they have been forced to.

The WGTA was enacted in 1983 and it is recognized that the requirements for agricultural transportation have changed. Farmer productivity was up and is up. Farms were bigger and crop yields were growing rapidly.

The minor changes to the grain transportation system found in this bill fail to recognize that the changes in the industry since 1983 have continued the pre-WGTA trend. It has become clear that the international community views the current grain transportation system as a direct subsidy.

Bill C-57 makes very few changes to the act ensuring technical compliance with international rules at present. However, this is minimum compliance and will come back to haunt us for two reasons. The fact is that as the schedule of GATT regulations come into force we will have to continue to make changes to our transportation system.

Rather than a real overhaul of the system to prepare Canadian agriculture for the 21st century, the Liberals would rather make a series of small changes with an eye to preserve as much as possible of the past.

The second reason why making only minor changes to the WGTA is inadvisable is that these changes will create some inequities and biases between Canada's grain handling ports.

The Lakehead port at Thunder Bay gets singled out in the subsidy regulations from the other main terminals in Vancouver, Churchill and Prince Rupert. Historically Thunder Bay has been favoured over western ports and this entrenchment of special status will only deepen farmers' resentment of the system.

Legislators have always defended this action with assumptions that it is cheaper to ship grain east through Thunder Bay than to go to the west coast.

However, a 1992 study by the National Transportation Agency revealed that it actually cost on average $1.04 more per tonne to ship east. It would appear that even in the face of this evidence, the special treatment continues. The St. Lawrence Seaway is sinking in debt and burdened with growing costs and shrinking traffic. Those in the industry are concerned that the changes to the Crow rate will spell the end for the seaway.

Rather than make the necessary transportation reforms to help the ailing waterway, it seems the government has decided to play politics with agricultural transportation policy.

The introduction of this bill provides an excellent opportunity to completely overhaul the WGTA. The grain transportation issue has been studied to death. It is clear that farmers are calling for a much improved system. I realize this government prefers studies to action but there have already been so many studies on this issue that there are no more studies that are conceivable.

I really have to question the reasoning behind creating a two tier system for grain transportation, one for Thunder Bay and one for everyone else. Under the new regulations for Vancouver, Churchill and Prince Rupert ports there will be a cap on the amount of grain that can receive the WGTA subsidy.

More specifically this cap takes the following form: one, the volume of subsidized exports must be reduced from 1993 levels by 21 per cent over a six year period; two, the level of total expenditures on export subsidies must be reduced over a six year period by 36 per cent within a minimum of 15 per cent for each specific commodity; three, over that six year period the level of domestic support programs must be reduced by 20 per cent.

Regional development, research, environmental protection and farm income protection programs are exempt. In the area of market access all measures other than tariff duties must be replaced by tariffs and lowered by an average of 36 per cent over the six years.

After the cap is exceeded 100 per cent of the transportation subsidy will be paid by the shipper who will then pass that cost on to the producers. There will be none of these caps for grain moved through the Thunder Bay terminal. Very interesting. This encourages gross distortions like shipping grain to Thunder Bay and then back out west before export just so it can qualify for the WGTA subsidy.

It is no wonder our competitors have reservations about our system. It might look as though this is a way of subsidizing Canada Steamship Lines and the other lake freighter companies, some which may affect the business interests of the Minister of Finance.

Although changing the way the WGTA operates will create some administrative difficulty, the common rules that our international competitors now use are of net benefit to Canadian farmers. Compliance may have some drawbacks for the administrators but it is clearly in the best interests of farmers.

As I said before these changes that the government is making are generally good but it would have been much better to completely overhaul the transportation system.

Currently the WGTA legislates that the Crow benefit is to be paid to the railroads. There has been an ongoing debate in farm circles about the advisability of the pay the producer model for transport assistance. There are those who have argued that it would be much more effective and efficient to pay the Crow subsidy directly to farmers and then have those producers pay for the full cost of shipping a product to export.

Reformers have argued that the best way to encourage efficiency in the system and to ensure that our agricultural industry is GATT green is to undertake a complete overhaul and consolidation of government agricultural support. We have argued that

WGTA spending should be included in a new trade distortion adjustment program available to farmers caught under siege in the trade war between the U.S.A. and Europe. Our trade distortion program could be harmonized with the phase down export subsidies of our trading competitors, particularly the U.S.A. with its EEP program. We could target producers who are caught in the crossfire of the trade war.

This trade distortion adjustment program appears to meet all the GATT conditions for fair trade. It is publicly funded. It is not commodity specific. It does not provide artificial price support to producers. Not only would this kind of reform comply with all of the GATT and WTO regulations, it would also provide the Canadian industry with a more efficient system. A consolidated support system would provide farmers with a more cost effective agricultural plan that is more responsive to an ever changing environment.

A thorough reform of the grain transportation system would have to correct the many problems within the current WGTA. The current system encourages inefficiencies like the backhauling of carloads of grain from Thunder Bay which I mentioned earlier. In many cases the same grain is shipped from Winnipeg to the lakehead and then back again. Not only is this gross waste but it is being done in part with taxpayers' money. Unfortunately the minister of agriculture is delaying the action he promised to rectify this absurd practice forced on us by the WGTA.

Canada probably has the most inefficient hopper car allocation system in the world. No doubt the Soviet Union had one which was worse but it sort of went out of business. There are far too many different players with their fingers in the car pool. Everyone in the industry, the producers, the grain companies, the Canadian Wheat Board, the grain transportation agency and the railroads have cars going every which way and no one has the overall control to allocate and co-ordinate grain cars in the Canadian Wheat Board region.

One possible solution to that problem is to at least consider privatizing the railway's rolling stock. Economic incentives matter and it is unlikely that someone whose livelihood depends on the efficient movement of hopper cars would continue the current practice of bunching up idle cars at one end of the line while grain is waiting at the other. Neither would they let them sit for weeks at the end of sidings, either full or empty.

In the small community of Kyle in my constituency quite often the railroad sends the cars down to the community. If they would just work for 15 more minutes they could spot all those cars and they would be filled that day and hauled out of the community back on their way to export. In fact, because of the regulatory system we have those cars cannot be spotted until the train sits for eight hours. The cars are then spotted after that period of time. This does not happen all the time but does occur quite often. The crew then leaves Kyle leaving the empty cars behind. The cars could have been filled during that eight hour period but some of the regulations would have to be changed.

The other day a train arrived in the small community of Beechy in my constituency. Because of a mixup in orders several cars left the community empty. There was no procedure whereby those cars could be allocated from one company to another that had the right grain and could fill the orders at that time.

There is another incident I would like to raise. A friend of mine travels quite frequently between Calgary and my constituency. He kept driving by the same cars which were sitting on a siding in Hanna, Alberta. He was curious so he wrote down the serial numbers of the first and last cars sitting on the siding to make sure it was the same group of hopper cars sitting there. Several months later when he drove by the same hopper cars were sitting on the same siding, not rolling, not serving the purpose for which taxpayers' money went toward in buying those cars. The system has to change.

The current system has no incentives for efficient performance in shipping grain. Perhaps more important, there are no penalties for inefficient performance. All of the players in this system are not adequately encouraged to make the system work beyond their own small involvement in the whole process.

The current system is inflexible and tends to reflect the agriculture production of yesterday. Our transportation system should serve the agriculture economy of today and have a very watchful eye on the future. The inflexibility of the WGTA, both of today and after the minor changes enacted by this bill, stifles that evolution.

Farmers of today have diversified and are now growing canola, lentils, peas, mustard and canary seed, to name just a few of the newer farm commodities. Currently our transportation system is not adequately equipped for this diversity and is therefore not serving the needs of Canadian farmers.

Also, the current system hinders innovation in transportation solutions. For instance, many private operators have offered to take over the branch lines which the CN and CP can no longer afford to run. These entrepreneurs have usually been blocked at every step by the government, crown corporations and other quasi-governmental agencies. I cannot imagine why the government would hinder any proposal that would provide a service to Canadian farmers which it cannot provide.

In short, the Canadian grain transportation industry needs a complete overhaul to bring it into the 1990s and prepare it for the next century. This bill makes a few long overdue adjustments to the system, but again only the minimum was done to ensure compliance with GATT.

I cannot oppose this bill because the ratification of the GATT agreement through this World Trade Organization bill is absolutely essential if we are to effectively participate in the wide areas of trade and export.

I challenge the government to do more than tinker with the WGTA. In fact, I challenge this government to break down the dozens of interprovincial trade barriers which prove that our country is functioning less efficiently within our borders than we are prepared to function with our trading partners through this new World Trade Organization agreement. I challenge our government to bring agriculture support mechanisms into the 21st century. I challenge the ministers of trade and agriculture to follow up Bill C-57 with a complete and very necessary reform package.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member of the Reform Party said so well, Canada is a big country. And in this big country, there are wide differences in both views and geography. The same applies to agriculture.

Throughout his speech, my Reform Party colleague had a lot to say about grain producers, the Western Grain Transportation Act and hopper cars that ride empty in order to get the subsidies, but at no time did he mention the problem of Eastern producers, or only in passing. Most of these producers earn their living under a supply management system.

I hope that the tariffs that will eventually be substituted for supply management will be high enough to protect our farmers in Quebec and Ontario, including dairy, poultry and egg producers. These tariffs are supposed to go down by 15 per cent, while all tariffs will reach 36 per cent over a six-year period.

My question for my Reform Party colleague is this: How does he see the position of article XI in the GATT negotiations, which raises the question whether the markets of farmers who depend on supply management will be sufficiently protected? I realize that since the hon. member lives in Western Canada, he was more intent on the needs of his own constituents, and I understand that, but Quebec is still part of Canada-for a little while yet, I hope.

I would appreciate the hon. member's opinion on supply management and tariffs, as well as his party's position on these issues.