House of Commons Hansard #201 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.


Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is easy to see from the large number of amendments prepared on the subject that the opposition is not in favour of making changes to the current appeal process.

I cannot speak for the opposition, but the Liberal Party of Canada believes that our seniors deserve the best. With the proposed changes to the appeal system we would be giving them the opportunity to have their decisions reviewed as quickly and fairly as possible under the best system we can offer.

Motion No. 12 is intriguing. By the debate that is taking place, we see it is also very frustrating and confusing for the members of the official opposition versus members of the third party opposite. The battle that is going on between the two clearly reveals to me and to other members of the House of Commons that there is no simple answer to the very complex operations of any great government such as we have in Canada. Simple solutions just do not exist.

However, both parties have for some time, close to 18 months, been advocating simple solutions to extremely complex problems. I am just wondering after this lengthy period of time whether or not that is a deliberate attempt, or perhaps it is simply a matter of fact, that both parties lack the ability to comprehend the complexity and profound depth of these government operations. Perhaps they are deliberately trying to confuse Canadians with these simplistic solutions and are therefore misguiding the voting population.

We should begin by noting that the Canada pension plan review tribunals hear thousands of cases every year, thousands. These cases often are very complex. The legislation is also complex. They are sometimes very difficult to adjudicate.

With human beings involved, mistakes are sometimes made by these tribunals. When this occurs the minister must with great reluctance appeal the decision to the pension appeal board. This is only done where there are the clearest indications that a mistake has been made. Nonetheless, the department records indicate that 45 review tribunal decisions that were appealed by the minister to the pension appeal board were in fact overturned by that body. That 45 represents 80 per cent of the decisions that were made and rendered in 1994. Had the minister followed what appears to be the preference of the opposition and paid benefits before he was absolutely certain they should be paid, these 45 people would have been in the unfortunate position of having to repay money to the government. Imagine the shock these 45 people would have received if they had opened their mail and discovered they had to pay back thousands of dollars immediately. Naturally, they would be in the position where they would have no assets, no funds, simply because they live from cheque to cheque.

Therefore, closer examination of this motion, which the opposition claims will give better service to clients, will in fact reveal that many of those clients are put in a position where they have large overpayments that must be repaid, because the government is paying benefits before it is certain about entitlement. We must not allow that to happen.

For all these reasons, I oppose Motion No. 12 and urge all hon. members to do the same.

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5:25 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, if someone is inconsistent in this House, it is certainly not anyone on this side. I do not see where the consistency is in saying-especially with respect to the Canada Pension Plan which, we will recall, provides benefits to people with disabilities of all kinds-that individuals who are denied benefits will have to appeal. It is stated in the bill that the minister may stay payment of any benefit until the later of the following dates.

How can those people who are often disadvantaged because they have problems getting around and defending their case, because they have to hire someone to help them-people who will now be expected to appeal if they are convinced they qualify, knowing that, if they are wrong, the law requires that they repay-how can they, on top of everything, be deprived of benefits while they have to defend themselves? It makes no sense.

This is beyond me. If there is someone who does not understand, it is not one of us. Examine actual cases and then try and look us straight in the face and tell us that benefits should be stayed, even though the legislation clearly provides for benefits to be repaid. The pensioners who will appeal are those who are sure they have a good case. But if they do not receive benefits during that time, chances are that people will not appeal because they are unable to do so. It does not make any sense to me. It makes no sense and this so-called Liberal government should examine this point closely before adopting this clause.

The clause reads as follows: "Where a decision is made by a Review Tribunal in respect to a benefit"-so there was a benefit to start with-"the Minister may stay payment of the benefit until the later of-"

This means that those to whom benefits are denied or cut will probably have to go on welfare and rely on the welfare plan in their province. In some places, single individuals get something like $250. When a handicapped person who has to pay a helper loses his or her benefits and is told to wait until the very end, at which time he or she will get benefits, this is absolutely inconsistent and illogical; it makes no sense but, more importantly, it shows a total lack of compassion.

I urge Liberal members to look at this legislation closely and not from a partisan point of view. We, on this side, certainly did not debate the issue on a partisan basis. We work for those who are the least able to take care of themselves. This is how we have to consider this issue. We took a close look at the amendment proposed by the Reform Party and we agree with part of it. However, we do not agree with the part which provides that the minister must wait, even if he is convinced that an amount should be remitted because an administrative error was made. We feel that those who suffer the prejudice should not have to wait.

In any case, the amendment proposed by the Reform Party did not remove the minister's discretionary power, since the motion only refers to a recommendation. That could only adversely affect the people concerned, since the minister still had discretionary power. I am answering the hon. member, because we always enjoy debating the substance of these issues, but that proposal does not make sense. The fact is that, if we look at all these provisions and amendments, which are supposed to be technical, we realize that this bill will significantly change the relationship between the elderly, the handicapped and families, on the one hand, and the state, on the other hand. This is what this legislation is about.

It seems to me that we are all trying to protect the interests of our fellow citizens. At the same time, we realize that the system must include some protection. However, that protection must not be provided at the expense of the public. We must not set the whole system against the public. To deprive people of the means to defend themselves when they risk losing their meagre benefits, is certainly not consistent with social fairness, accountability or good government. No. The government is trying to save money on the backs of Canadians, by not explicitly providing them with the right to appeal, a right which is theirs.

One must have worked with people who had to fight the system, whether as regards occupational safety and health issues, or eligibility to disability benefits, to measure the enormous challenge which these people face, given how hard it is for them to provide the required evidence. Consequently, there is no reason to come up with such a provision, in addition to all the other changes proposed in this bill to favour the system, at the expense of the public. To be sure, this is not a legislation which the Liberals can be proud of.

Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are having a good debate today on some administrative changes to Bill C-54. I certainly agree with my hon. friend from the Bloc that we are trying to serve the citizens of the country as well, as effectively, as compassionately and as truly as we can.

Our country deserves the best we can give it. I remind my hon. friend that if we are to run things effectively it should not be done on the backs of citizens. Savings should not be looked on as being something we do on the backs of people. Spending is really what we put on the backs of people. Spending is a burden which we extract from the hard work of our citizens and often place on our future citizens as well. We have to look at all of the administrative measures and all of the spending proposals in a way which is fair to the people who need the money, fair to the people who have to earn the money and fair to the people who will inherit the debt we are building in order to spend some of the money.

We cannot look at this issue as if only desperately poor and needy people are being hurt. Those are the people we want to help. If we are to continue to help them then we must be responsible, effective and efficient in the way we administer every government department.

I was saddened to hear the Liberal member deriding the Reform amendment to this very complex bill. He suggested it was put forward to hurt seniors. It does no credit to debate in the House when attempts to constructively improve proposals of government are simply dismissed as meaning to hurting people.

It is beneath members of the House to suggest that any member would be motivated by such repugnant motives.

The Liberal member also suggested the amendments were simplistic. Is any attempt to improve government legislation to be dismissed as being simplistic? I say to the people of Canada that to look at complex bills, to study them, to assess the impact and the effectiveness of them takes a great deal of time and effort. It is done in an attempt to give the best to our country, to ensure everything we do has the highest standards of accountability in delivering the services which Canadians need in a way we can afford and which we can count on over the long term.

I appeal to members to respect and to objectively and seriously judge the things put forward in the House, not to deride, misrepresent and distort them in a partisan way. The country will not benefit from that kind of approach. I am saddened by that kind of approach and I appeal to members not to take it.

Over 80 per cent of Canadians say they want our social programs reformed. They know the programs are often abused. They often give money to people who do not need it. There are many examples of programs sending money to millionaires. Any small attempts we make to these complex bills to make the departments and bureaucrats accountable are somehow dismissed.

Do we really want to say as parliamentarians to a minister or to a department: "Go out and overspend. Go out and make allocations of money not warranted, to which people are not entitled, in any amount you want. We do not care. We do not want to know about it. We will not stop you. We do not want limits on that"?

Surely we owe the people of Canada better responsibility, accountability and management than that. I ask the House to vote down measures which remove accountability and support measures which add accountability.

Our ministers and our departments are not looking for ways to defraud the Canadian people of money to which they are rightfully entitled under these programs-far from it. There are tens of millions of dollars going to people who do not need it, who do not deserve it, who are not entitled to it, people receiving money from programs not meant for that.

Surely we have an obligation and a responsibility in the House to put a stop to that and to make sure the people who do need the money are getting it and the people who do not need the money and who are not entitled to it are not getting dollars that should be going to the neediest people in our society.

I speak against Motion No. 12. It removes accountability in an important way. I certainly urge the House to add more accountability to the way these programs are administered rather than detract from it.

Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The division is on Motion No. 12. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour will please say yea.

Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 76(8) the recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred divisions at the report stage of the bill now before the House.

Call in the members.

And the division bells having rung:

Old Age Security ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 45(5)( a ), the division on the question now before the House stands deferred until 6.30 p.m. today.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Richmond B.C.


Raymond Chan Liberalfor Minister of Industry

moved that Bill C-88, an act to implement the agreement on internal trade, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Industry, I thank you for this opportunity to speak on the occasion of second reading of Bill C-88, an act to implement the agreement on internal trade.

The bill is another step in the process to create a new internal trade regime that has been under way in Canada for some time. Our objective is to reduce barriers to interprovincial trade and to remove restrictions on the movement of people and capital within the domestic marketplace.

Passage of Bill C-88 will be a necessary step for Parliament to take in order to implement the agreement on internal trade signed last year by all the provinces and territories along with the federal government.

At the invitation of the Prime Minister, first ministers met in Ottawa last July to formally accept and sign the agreement the committee of ministers of internal trade had finalized at the end of June. With this accord, we were committed to a target of July 1, 1995 to have the appropriate legislative and regulatory changes in place so the agreement could be legally implemented.

In this sense, in putting this legislation before the House we are meeting an obligation to provincial and territorial governments we incurred when we signed the agreement in June 1994. The agreement on internal trade was an important step in the quest to create an integrated domestic market in Canada.

In the 127 years or so since Confederation, we have seen a hodge-podge of protectionist measures and trade conventions develop, which have inhibited interprovincial trade and restricted the flow of goods and capital between provinces in Canada. These measures range from outright restrictions to bidding on government contracts to a patchwork of regulations and incompatible standards.

The government has felt strong and repeated pressure from the private sector to deal with the problems associated with internal barriers to trade and conflicting regulations on cross-border flows of people and capital. We have received representations from the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council on National Issues, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Bankers Association, the Canadian Construction Association, and so on. The list is long and the problems are deeply felt and broadly experienced.

Such barriers put Canadian businesses at a comparative disadvantage by restricting the size of the available marketplace and by making the markets open to Canadian businesses even smaller than they would be on an open national basis. In a time of increasing global competition and more open markets in other parts of the world, this can have the negative result of putting Canadian businesses at a disadvantage to international competitors, even in our own markets. In addition, there is an economic cost related to marketplace inefficiency. The Canadian Manufacturers' Association has estimated that barriers to trade cost Canadians about $7 billion annually in direct job and income loss.

In years past, when external trade barriers protected economies like ours from international competition the economic costs of internal trade barriers were tolerated. When Canadian industry was sheltered from international competition by tariff barriers of 10 per cent or even 20 per cent, the economic costs were not so obvious. But a marketplace sheltered from international competition is no longer the reality. International barriers and tariffs are down. The market is global and the competition is fierce.

We will not and cannot be successful in an open global market if we operate in a closed market here at home. So we need to adapt to the international reality in trade. Bill C-88 and the agreement it implements is an important aspect of this process and is part of the more open fundamental process of economic renewal that the government is following towards its strategic objectives for economic growth and job creation.

Last fall the Minister of Industry introduced in the House our government's plan to build a more innovative economy. We outlined our intentions for improving the economic climate of Canada in four ways: to build a positive entrepreneurial climate and to help small business grow; to expand markets for jobs and growth through trade; to create an efficient and modern infrastructure; and also to make technology work for Canada. These are the areas where the government can have the greatest impact on job creation.

While Bill C-88 will support all of these objectives, it has special relevance for the objective to expand markets. To grow and prosper, business needs an efficient and open marketplace, an environment that encourages innovation and expansion, free of unnecessary barriers.

With the agreement on internal trade and now with this bill we have the elements to establish a new internal trade regime in Canada, one that will allow us to make the most of our interprovincial domestic market by encouraging innovation and expansion and by removing unnecessary barriers to trade.

The Canadian economy is in a period of transition. There are fundamental changes taking place because of the globalization of trade and the rapid pace of technological change. Competitive advantage in today's world depends less on location and natural resources and more on innovation and ability to respond to changing market conditions and to achieve economies of scale.

As we continue the transition from a resource based economy to one where innovation, knowledge, and flexibility are the underpinnings of competitive advantage, we need to ensure that the domestic trading environment will accommodate and expedite the necessary changes.

Bill C-88 will provide a supportive environment for the economic transition process we are now experiencing. The legislation that is before the House now is the result of a long process of negotiations and consultation, which has involved many Canadians with many different perspectives, ministers of the federal government, ministers of all the provincial and territorial governments, officials of all these governments and representatives of the private sector. Also, it is interesting to note that political parties of all stripes have co-operated in negotiations leading to the agreement. There were different

perspectives, but a shared belief that a more open trading environment will be good for Canada.

In fact a striking feature of the process has been the high degree of co-operation and goodwill that has been demonstrated on all sides. Those Canadians who have been involved in the process understand the compelling need to open our internal markets and ensure that the Canadian marketplace works to the advantage of all Canadians.

Over the last two years the negotiations and background work were under the guiding hand of Mr. Arthur Mauro, a well known Canadian businessman. Mr. Mauro acted as chairman of the committee of chief negotiators and worked tirelessly to keep the process moving toward its objectives and produced the agreement that the ministers signed last year.

The work leading up to this bill has been exhaustive. It has been thorough and it will be ongoing. It is our duty to keep the process moving. The process began in June 1988, when federal and provincial agriculture ministers compiled a list of barriers to internal trade in agricultural food products. A federal-provincial committee of ministers of internal trade with a commitment to open market access within Canada was formed. The focus of this group was comparatively narrow. Topics of discussion included government procurement, wine, spirits, and beer, transportation, professional mobility, and standards.

The process had begun. Governments were now dealing with the problems of internal trade barriers in an organized way. Federal-provincial discussions continued and the focus widened. Ministers also began to consider the need for a dispute resolution mechanism as part of more comprehensive trading agreements between provinces and territories.

In December 1989 a memorandum of understanding on internal trade in agricultural products was signed by seven of the provinces. The process was beginning to move. Federal-provincial negotiators continued to meet. Agreement was reached and memoranda of understanding were signed on a number of individual issues, such as transportation and government procurement.

By December 1992 the committee of ministers of internal trade recommended that the process be accelerated and that all parties commit to the goal of reaching a broad and comprehensive internal trade agreement by June 30, 1994.

By March 1993 the negotiators agreed to three specific principles as basic to an agreement. They were that governments treat people, goods, services, and capital equally, irrespective of where they originate in Canada; that government reconcile standards and regulations to provide for the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within Canada; and that governments ensure that their administrative policies operate to provide for the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within Canada.

In August 1993 Mr. Mauro took charge of the negotiations. In December 1993 our government reaffirmed its commitment to the process, and in January 1994 chief negotiators were given specific instructions to prepare a draft agreement for the consideration of the committee of ministers of internal trade. Ministers were looking for an agreement that would improve three main elements: trade rules to apply to specific sectors or issue areas; an elaboration on how the rules would apply in these specific areas; and also a dispute resolution mechanism that would encourage parties to negotiate settlements but not to involve the courts.

Now the process was in high gear. An intensive series of meetings was held during the period from January to June last year. These meetings culminated in ministers agreeing to the text of an internal trade agreement at the end of June. Following that, the Prime Minister and all other first ministers signified their acceptance of the agreement with a formal signing on July 18. The final legal text was put in place and accepted by all parties by last October.

All governments agreed to make necessary legislative and regulatory changes to bring the agreement into effect by July 1, 1995. Bill C-88 fulfils the commitment of the federal government in this regard. Last year's agreement on internal trade was a major step in a long process. It has demonstrated that all governments can work together to achieve a common objective that will benefit all Canadians.

What are we putting in place? The agreement on internal trade gives a set of general rules that prohibits any new barriers to trade and eliminates old ones in ten specific sectors or areas and establishes a formal mechanism for the resolution of disputes that may arise.

The agreement provides for the following objectives. It will open the $50 billion annual government purchasing market to competitive bidding throughout Canada. It will reduce restriction on investment, including a code of conduct to forbid incentives that lure firms to relocate from one province to another. It will improve the ability of Canadians to work anywhere they wish. It commits government to work on harmonization of environmental protection, transportation standards, and consumer protection. It will set up an impartial publicly accessible process for resolving trade disputes between governments and between individuals and governments.

The dispute settlement mechanism is based on the principle that it is preferable to solve problems informally and at an early stage. It reflects the desire of governments to cooperate rather than to confront or to litigate.

Therefore, it sets out a methodical, step by step process of information exchange followed by consultations. Questions not settled in that way may be brought to an impartial panel that would make recommendations for solving the issue. Only as a last resort, when a party has failed to change a measure found to have violated the agreement, might retaliation be acceptable. Even then, action would be limited both in effect and scope to areas especially covered by the agreement.

Also important is the fact that the agreement has the potential to grow and evolve. It deals directly with a large number of current issues and it provides the framework for negotiations to continue on others. Also, the agreement and this bill are parts of a broad set of activities now under way to create a more open trading environment throughout Canada.

The provinces and territories have obligations to implement the terms of the agreement by July 1, 1995. Work is under way on many fronts to make necessary legislative and regulatory changes at the provincial and territorial levels. At the federal level we have both an obligation to make the necessary changes, as Bill C-88 does, as well as a duty to show leadership in order to advance the process. It is fair to say this bill does not solve all the interprovincial trade problems that have built up over the last 127 years. However, it has moved us a considerable way along the track.

We see the process as one of forward movement. Some issues are dealt with. Systems and procedures are in place for dealing with others and new ones may yet come forward for our attention. For example, in the energy sector a separate set of negotiations is under way toward a similar deadline of July 1.

A process is in place to deal with the outstanding issues in the agricultural sector. Issues related to interprovincial trade in alcoholic beverages are not resolved either, but a consultative mechanism is set up and deadlines for resolutions are in place.

In summary, for the first time in our history, we will have a rules based system, a mechanism for settling disputes and a work plan for the future. In the future other issues may come up, for example, interprovincial regulations relating to financial services or standards for environmental protection. There is the further possibility of using the framework to consider streamlining and harmonizing "non-standards" regulations.

Whatever new issues come forward, we will want to deal with them in the same spirit of co-operation, shared objectives and mutual interests that has now been established within the agreement on internal free trade that this bill will implement. With this legislation we are ensuring the framework is in place and we are confirming our belief that the fundamental principles of free trade will work.

When first ministers signed the agreement last summer they committed to having the necessary legislative and regulatory changes in place by July 1, 1995. Passage of this bill by the House will ensure we meet our obligations to our provincial and territorial colleagues as discussed at the recent meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers in Calgary. It will also demonstrate our continued leadership in the move toward a more open domestic trading environment and it will reinforce our other activities to create a more innovative economy.

I want to emphasize that passing this bill is not the end of the process. It is part of a continuing one. This legislation builds the foundation and establishes the framework within which we will continue to build an effective domestic trading environment over time. Look at how the GATT and the European Union have evolved over time. The important thing is to establish the base and create the mechanism to allow for flexibility to meet changing economic conditions as they occur.

Trade agreements deepen and broaden with use and experience and this one will too. Bill C-88 will provide the foundation for moving toward a domestic trading environment that will allow for the free flow of goods, services, people and capital within Canada. The Prime Minister and other ministers, including first ministers, have been actively involved in broadening the marketplace for Canadian goods and services in export markets. The Team Canada approach has been highly successful in doing that.

Now we must bring the same spirit to improving the domestic market for our businesses and our workers. Bill C-88 is an important step in that direction and that is why we support it.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.


Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this bill is aimed at implementing the provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade signed with the provinces last summer. To this end, the federal government must pass legislation to comply with the agreement before its coming into force, on July 1, 1995, as the minister said. Briefly put, this is the purpose of Bill C-88.

First, I would like to show that Bill C-88 assumes powers which were never mentioned during the negotiations with the provinces or when the agreement was signed. This indicates a strong desire on the part of the federal government to centralize.

In the second part of my speech, I would like to highlight some of the aspects of international trade which favour the political autonomy of the regions and the creation of economic unions rather than the establishment of great federations with a rigid and centralizing constitution such as the Canadian federation.

Last summer's agreement deals with 11 specific areas, namely government contracts, investments, labour mobility, consumer protection standards and initiatives, farm products and foodstuffs, alcoholic beverages, natural resources processing, communications and transportation, energy and the protection of the environment. However, the sections of the agreement Bill C-88 deals with are basically those regarding dispute resolution, as if all the federal government could do was put controls in place.

Articles 1601 to 1604 deal with the establishment of a committee on internal trade and its secretariat. The role of the committee will be to supervise the implementation of the agreement and to assist in the resolution of disputes. Article 1705 deals with the establishment of a panel at the request of the disputing parties. The panel is made up of five members who will have to decide on the validity of the dispute and on retaliatory action that the complaining party will eventually be authorized to take.

Articles 1710(4), (5) and (6) stipulate that, if the matter has not be resolved within one year of issuance of the panel report, the complaining party may request a meeting of the committee. The committee shall convene within 30 days to discuss with the complaining party the option of taking retaliatory action in respect of the party complained against. So, the complaining party may, until such time as a mutually satisfying resolution is achieved, impose to the party complained against retaliatory action of equivalent effect to the damage caused to the complaining party.

If I am reminding the House of these few rather technical aspects of the Agreement on Internal Trade, it is essentially in order to highlight the context within which the interprovincial agreement was reached. We must understand that the panel decisions are not binding, which implies that the committee governing the interprovincial trade agreement has no power.

If the party complained against does not comply with the panel recommendations, article 1710 applies. As we saw, article 1710 deals with retaliation action that the complaining party may take in respect of the party that did not comply with the agreement.

In fact, the main purpose of this bill is to implement the agreement on internal trade. The Bloc Quebecois has always been in favour of freer trade, which is the context in which states do business today. So, we support the principle of the agreement, but if the federal government is the aggrieved party under a trade agreement referred to in the agreement, it can impose retaliatory measures. However, that is not what is said in Bill C-88.

In fact, clause 9 goes well beyond the spirit of the agreement reached by the provinces last summer. This is why we are against the bill as it stands now. Clause 9 reads as follows:

For the purpose of suspending benefits or imposing retaliatory measures of equivalent effect against a province pursuant to Article 1710 of the Agreement, the Governor in Council may, by order-

And then it goes on. It says that the Governor in Council may act, by order, which is the method usually used by an autocratic government. This bill clearly shows that the Liberal government wants to govern by order in council.

Are we again facing Liberal totalitarianism? In fact, clause 9 means that, if a party is at fault pursuant to article 1710 of the agreement, then the federal government, whether or not it is party to the dispute, assumes the right to impose retaliatory measures against all of the provinces without distinction.

Bill C-88 clearly indicates that the federal government intends to interfere in interprovincial trade and be both judge and judged, to provide through this agreement the power to act by order in council, a power it alone can exercise, and to extend the application of any federal law to the provinces, as mentioned in clause 9( c ).

Governing by order in council, setting oneself up as the arbiter of interprovincial trade, are measures that go way beyond the spirit of the agreement signed with the provinces last summer. Nowhere in the 13 paragraphs of article 1710 of the agreement is there mentioned any right of the federal government to intervene in a trade dispute when it is not itself one of the parties to the dispute, contrary to the retaliatory measures described in clause 9 of Bill C-88, as formulated and tabled before us today.

The range of retaliatory measures the federal government has given itself in this clause is too broad. Its power of retaliation can affect the entire population of a province and is excessive. The problem stems, of course, from the fact that Ottawa has legislative power over all Canadians and can impose legislation on all the provinces.

Bill C-88 is another example. In our opinion, the retaliatory measures contained in clause 9 must be toned down considerably and the focus limited strictly to matters of trade. The federal government would thus not be able to retaliate in the social sphere, by attacking the Canada Social Transfer, for example.

I would have one last word concerning the intentions of the Liberal government reflected in this bill. Clause 14 of the bill provides, in the best Liberal tradition, that appointments to fill any position that may be necessary or advisable for carrying out the purposes of the Agreement be by order in council. To prevent any form of patronage on the part of the Prime Minister, the Bloc Quebecois requests that appointments be systematically ap-

proved by the House of Commons, as they should be in a democratic system.

There is no doubt in our mind that this bill is highly centralist. It is a sign of a retrograde vision of trade relations between the various regions of the same continent. We are living in an era of trade globalization, of the dissolving of tariff and non tariff barriers, of open markets and not of the heavy, unilateral regulation by order in council of a continental market by a single state like Canada.

More and more, a new competitiveness can be found at the local, regional and provincial levels, which goes against the federal centralizing model. The new regional international model of economic development is an example of the globalization of economies, in which regional economic trade areas are swallowed by the global market.

Fernand Martin, from the department of economic sciences of the Université de Montréal, is unequivocal regarding this regional international reality. He says that local businesses are realizing that they are competing not only with domestic businesses but with all other businesses, and that they no longer benefit from the buffer of national borders.

This new reality on the world market underlies a second economic phenomenon: the role of local economies in the competitiveness of businesses. Regional space takes on a strategic importance. In this context, the intervention of a national state structure is no longer needed. By wanting to give unprecedented powers to the regions, the Government of Quebec fully grasped the new parameters of international trade, something that the government in Ottawa failed to do. NAFTA will decrease the federal government's power to intervene in economic matters even more.

Even now in the area of international trade, agreements such as the GATT prevent Canada to a large extent from imposing tariffs and subsidizing exporters. These international agreements promote globalization of the economy and thus reduce, along with regional economic development, the federal government's control over the national and interprovincial economy.

Globalization of trade was first and foremost the product of the emergence of the multinationals. They initially turned the states toward new economic spaces, such as NAFTA. Today their ability to restructure an economic space is well established. Accordingly, they confer international stature on the cities and regions they locate in. These cities and regions in turn form networks giving rise to decisions and economic policy previously the domain of central states.

The federal government's regulatory authority, in these circumstances, becomes less and less important, and it is clear that clause 9 of Bill C-88 runs contrary to the current course of international trade. This point is all the more relevant, and, once again I quote Fernand Martin: "-since economic development is based on competitive development, which counts on the quality of labour and on the infrastructures and economics of large population centres and urbanization. These levers come under provincial jurisdiction, because health, education and land use planning do".

Thus, in terms of economic development and international competitiveness, membership in a centralized economic union is today, at the dawn of the 21st century, of little importance. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to belonging to a region. Since Trudeau, the traditional federalist vision of the federal Liberals has never gone beyond the level of a strictly nationalist analysis. Like those from the Trudeau school of thought, this liberal government is obsessed by the fact that it is powerless to stop the national economy from being regionalized under the influence of multinationals and the newly created continental trade areas.

It should not be forgotten that as interprovincial trade is increasingly following a north-south axis, Bill C-88, and more specifically clause 9, are nothing more than the reaction of this government without an economic agenda to this phenomenon and, by and large, to the present changes.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.


Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today and speak to second reading of Bill C-88, an act to implement the agreement on internal trade.

However, Bill C-88 is like Bill C-85 on pension reform, it has more fluff than substance. Unfortunately it is another failure to deal with a serious problem. It appears to be another broken promise made in the famous red ink book. The Reform Party will be opposing the bill as it is currently written because it would implement an agreement that from a federalist perspective may be a step backward in our already deplorable situation.

I would like to point out for the benefit of all members the problems this bill brings, some historical perspective and as always, the Reform alternative, what I believe can be an inexpensive, agreeable and efficient solution to our current problems.

We are all aware that Canada has a massive problem with the free flow of goods, services and capital within our borders. We are all aware of the hundreds of barriers that exist to trade between the provinces, the billions of dollars this costs the economy annually, the thousands of jobs that are lost to Canadians and the larger than necessary government deficits that continue to grow.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce estimates that interprovincial trade barriers cost every Canadian family at least $1,000 a year. Others have estimated that the cost per family may be as high as $3,500 per year.

The chamber continues on to say: "These estimates do not capture the costs associated with new activity that is deterred as a result of the existence of barriers. For example, existence of internal barriers and the knowledge that new ones can be introduced at any time can deter Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs from undertaking new initiatives based on the expectation of access to the whole Canadian market. Similarly, the existence of internal barriers may discourage international investors who seek to locate their plants in fully integrated markets from bringing their productive investments to Canada".

There is no partisan issue in these considerations. We have all agreed, as did all the premiers last year, that these barriers to growth, productivity and employment must be reduced and eliminated. Even the current premier of Quebec has indicated his willingness to find agreement in these matters. Free trade within our borders is something every member of the House can agree to, except perhaps the NDP.

Where some of us differ is on the issue of the best mechanism to get there. The agreement signed last year between the provinces and Ottawa is a faulty mechanism that may do more damage than the good it intends.

A Globe and Mail editorial stated: To say that the signing of the agreement on interprovincial trade barriers was a triumph of federalism would be an overstatement. To say that it will create a free market would be an illusion. To say that it will bring stability and unity would be optimism''. The editorial continues to talk about the status quo of barriers which will remain in place saying:These are the wages of parochialism and the country continues to pay them''.

What became perfectly clear at the outcome of the meeting was not that the agreement to trade freely had been brokered but rather that an excellent photo opportunity had been set up for one candidate in the Quebec provincial election. All news commentators made that point. All of them remarked on the shallowness of the deal and in the final analysis they were right. The deal was shallow and the photo opportunity was a bust. The Quebec candidate went on to lose the election.

Unfortunately Canadians have to suffer with the results. There is still no improvement in trade between the provinces. The unity question continues to burn. We believe that in the solution to our domestic trade problem we will also find the solution to our national unity problem. The trade ties that could be binding us together as Canadians are the trade walls which are currently keeping us apart. Reformers and the BQ agree on this point. The Liberals say they agree but their words have rung hollow so far.

A Liberal Party pollster summed it up well when he said: "The people on the street know this is no victory for federalism. They know the deal is full of loopholes. They know that Canada has successfully negotiated a sweeping free trade deal with the United States but is unable to do so within its own borders".

It is important to reflect on the statements that have come from the government recently with respect to free trade. For example, the finance minister estimated that the economy would grow by 0.4 per cent as a result of the implementation of the GATT agreement due to freer trade with other countries. On the other hand, estimates by the Fraser Institute on the effect of removing interprovincial trade barriers ranged from 2 per cent up to a possible 6 per cent growth in GDP.

In other words, with the Uruguay round of the GATT we spent seven years and millions of tax dollars to negotiate with 120 foreign countries to open up trade and yet we have an opportunity to realize five to fifteen times the economic benefit by legislating, negotiating and arbitrating among only ten provinces. Unfortunately, the government has given only a half-hearted effort so far.

The Minister for International Trade in speaking to the GATT implementation bill stated: "The agreement includes an enormous package of national commitments to lower tariffs and non-tariff barriers to merchandise trade". It sounds wonderful but where are the complementary commitments we need to increase interprovincial trade?

The Prime Minister stated during the first ministers' conference that thousands of new jobs would be created and it would benefit all Canadians regardless of region. Unfortunately the talk we have heard bears little resemblance to the inaction we have seen in the flawed agreement. Let me explain where some of the flaws are.

The agreement sets out to eliminate specific barriers but may in fact create new ones and higher hurdles for business to cross. An example is the provision contained in article 709 which states that a province may adopt or maintain a measure that is inconsistent with the articles on labour mobility if the purpose of that measure is to achieve a legitimate objective.

The list of legitimate objectives is extensive. Any province wishing to maintain or erect a barrier need look no further than this list to find a suitable excuse. Included are: public security, safety and order; protection of human, animal or plant life and health; protection of the environment; consumer protection; affirmative action and so on.

In other words, labour mobility is restricted by the self-serving interests of any province through the articles contained in this agreement. Many would recognize this as the current status quo, but early on I said this may even be a step backwards. Such

a provision could be used by any self-interested group in any province to erect new barriers to trade.

The dispute resolution mechanism included in this agreement may deal with these issues but it is not clear that the agreement will bind a province that wishes to go its own way.

Another major impediment to change is article 1507, part III, which states that nothing in this agreement shall be construed to effect the existing rights and obligations of the provinces under other environmental agreements, including conservation agreements. It does not take very much effort to realize that if one province wanted to keep in place an existing trade barrier, all it would have to do would be to claim an environmental exemption. Even worse, it is obvious that new trade barriers could be erected under this article. Again the agreement appears to be a step backwards.

One fact that cannot escape scrutiny is that many new regulations, panels and other administrative functions have been introduced in this bill both at the provincial and the federal level. It is plain that a whole new bureaucracy will spring up: new jobs for bureaucrats, new expense for the taxpayers but not necessarily any benefits to consumers.

However, one provision stands out as an improvement over the past practice and that is the proposed reduction in restrictions on interprovincial trucking. The consensus in this important area should not be dismissed lightly. Barriers to trucking have raised transportation costs, resulted in inefficiencies and lost productivity, and ultimately cost consumers millions. I hope we can capitalize on the consensus reached on this aspect of the agreement.

Some commentators have made the observation that the agreement is only the first step in a process which will see more agreements signed and barriers reduced. While this may be true, Reformers believe that this first step agreement is not necessarily a step forward. If we are going to improve the situation, it is vital that all steps must move us forward and reduce barriers, not leaving the possibility that new barriers can be erected in their place. We have lived with the status quo for too long already and Canadians deserve better.

It is important to look at the historical record and see where we have been as a nation in dealing with this issue. When Canada was created out of four British colonies in 1867 the founding fathers of Confederation had one purpose in mind. They believed that if they united, they could resist being pulled into the American sphere of influence and retain their distinct cultural heritage.

They saw two strategies as essential to resisting American pressures. The first was a unified military which could better defend the borders of Canada. Thankfully we have not had to face a major threat on our own soil since that time. But our armed forces have served with distinction in most major conflicts and all peacekeeping missions since that time.

The second strategy to maintain a distinct identity was to implement free trade between the provinces. It was believed that the free flow of goods and services would strengthen economic, political and cultural ties east to west instead of north to south.

It is quite obvious in which strategy we failed to accomplish our objectives. The fact is that trade between Canada and the U.S. today in many goods is freer and easier than the trade between the provinces.

Where we do fall down on this issue, history has shown it came because of ineffectual leadership in this area at the federal level.

I see my time is running out. I have quite a bit more. Will I be allowed to finish my presentation later?

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

The Speaker

You will at a later time, not today.

The House resumed, from May 12, consideration of the motion that Bill C-85, an act to amend the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and to provide for the continuation of a certain provision, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and of the motion that the question be now put.

Members Of Parliament Retirement Allowances ActGovernment Orders

May 15th, 1995 / 6:25 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 6.30 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 45(6), the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division on the motion of Mr. Boudria.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Members Of Parliament Retirement Allowances ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

Accordingly, the next question is on the motion that the bill be read the second time. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Members Of Parliament Retirement Allowances ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.

Some hon. members


Members Of Parliament Retirement Allowances ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.

Some hon. members