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House of Commons Hansard #83 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.

Topics

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed 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 two petitions.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of constituents from Ontario with respect to concerned parents across the country who support the effort to create a national pedophile registry.

The petitioners I represent are concerned about making our streets and homes safer for our children. They are opposed to the current status quo in the screening of pedophiles as they enter our communities.

The petitioners pray that a federally implemented pedophile registry will be established in order to better secure the safety of our children.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have with me over 1,000 pages of petitions, bearing a total of 26,021 names.

Citizens from across Canada are demanding the following of the government: Whereas incidents of serious personal injury crimes and sexual offences involving children are becoming more and more frequent, whereas each incident harms the public, and whereas there would be fewer such incidents if certain legislative measures were taken, the petitioners pray and request that Parliament establish a procedure of public notification of a sex offender being released and allow such notification to be made available for viewing at RCMP stations and other government agencies. They also request a central registry, amendments to the Criminal Records Act and the Criminal Code.

I hope the solicitor general and Parliament will listen to the plea of 26,000 more Canadians who are demanding greater protection from sexual predators.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions today.

The first petition was prepared by the third quarter French students of Madam Cadorette's grade 10 class at Cowichan Secondary School who were inspired by young Craig Kielburger to gather signatures for the following petition. That children as young as four years old in the third world are forced into cruel bondage to work as labourers on sugar and coffee plantations and the garment industries requiring inexpensive, intensive manual labour.

For that reason the petitioners call on Parliament to voice formal objections to the United Nations and to enact legislation requiring all goods coming into Canada to be clearly labelled as not having used children under the age of 15 in their production.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a second petition which was gathered by the United Senior Citizens of Ontario Inc. and which is supported by the New Democrat MPP for Windsor-Riverside, Dave Cooke. The petition is signed by residents of his constituency and elsewhere.

The petition notes that the safety of consumers, and senior citizens in particular, is at risk because brand name drug manufacturers are attempting to force generic drug manufacturers to market their equivalent products in a different size, shape and colour than the brand name medication. Any action which affects the look of generic drugs could endanger patient safety through improper use of medicines.

Therefore, the petitioners request that Parliament regulate the longstanding Canadian practice of marketing generic drugs in a size, shape and colour which is similar to that of its brand name equivalent.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, question No. 53 will be answered today.

Question No. 53-

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Pursuant to the modification agreement between the Department/Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Stone Ridge Estates Ltd. (British Columbia) for a 20-year extension on the leasing of lands on the Tzeachten Indian Reserve #13, what amount was paid by Stone Ridge Estates Ltd. to the Minister/Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for this extension?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

The amount paid by Stone Ridge Estates Ltd. to the Minister/Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, in trust for the band, for the 20-year extension to the lease is simply the amount of ongoing rents during the extended term. Ongoing rents are determined by the minister, based on fair market rent, at the start of each four-year period during the term of the lease. The rent paid form 1992 to 1996 was $86,400 per year.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

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

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask the government House leader when I can expect to receive an answer to my question on the Order Paper numbered Q-52.

I would like to give the House a little background. The question was placed on notice on May 16, 1996.

I requested an answer from the government within 45 days. As of today, 146 days have passed. The answer to this question is about the destruction of millions of dollars worth of assets by the government.

The government has established a pattern of not answering questions within the 45-day time frame. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I am asking how long you are going to allow this oversight to continue.

I have had another question on the Order Paper, Q-4, for a very long period of time. If the government does not provide me with this information to do my job, I am unable to represent my constituents in this House. That is the concern.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is important that the hon. member not misrepresent some of the facts. The facts are that the information he requested is very comprehensive. It requires thousands of inquiries throughout the country.

In theory the 45 days is a guideline that we try to respect. If members look at the record, 75 per cent of all answers are returned before the 45-day period. There are situations with which the hon. member is more than familiar. He has two of the most comprehensive questions that have been put on the Order Paper.

Thousands and thousands of person hours and dollars are going into preparing the information. Perhaps at some other point we could debate the merits of the system but the hon. member should not misrepresent the facts about the information he requested.

An inquiry is going out to the RCMP stations throughout the country asking a very specific question. In order to give a specific answer, we do not want to mislead anybody with the information that is coming forward.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-54, an act to amend the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Foreign Extraterritorial Measures ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There is a ruling.

There are five amending motions on the Order Paper for the report stage of Bill C-54, an act to amend the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act.

Motions Nos. 1 and 2 will be grouped for debate. A vote on Motion No. 1 applies to Motion No. 2.

Motions Nos. 3, 4 and 5 will be grouped for debate but voted on separately.

Foreign Extraterritorial Measures ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters Liberalfor the Minister of Justice

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-54, in Clause 7, be amended by adding before line 40, on page 3 the following:

"7.1 Any judgment given under the law of the United States entitled Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 shall not be recognized or enforceable in any manner in Canada."

Foreign Extraterritorial Measures ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West, ON

Mr. Speaker, in order to save time, I think you would find unanimous consent in the House to deem that Motions Nos. 1 through 5 have been moved and seconded.

Foreign Extraterritorial Measures ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent?

Foreign Extraterritorial Measures ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Foreign Extraterritorial Measures ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters Liberalfor the Minister of Justice

moved:

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-54, in Clause 7, be amended by replacing line 24, on page 5 with the following:

"judgment has been satisfied outside Canada, or where a judgment has been given under the law of the United States entitled Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996,".

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-54, in Clause 7, be amended by replacing lines 32 and 33, on page 5 with the following:

"recover, under the provisions of section 9 that the Attorney General identifies, any or all amounts obtained from that party under the judgment, expenses incurred by that party, or loss or damage suffered by that party."

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-54, in Clause 7, be amended by a ) replacing line 4, on page 6 with the following:

"by that person under the judgment,"

(b) replacing line 10, on page 6 with the following:

"judicial and extrajudicial costs, and

(iii) any loss or damages suffered by that party by reason of the enforcement of the judgment; and" c ) replacing line 21, on page 6 with the following:

"which the judgment was awarded," d ) replacing line 25, on page 6 with the following:

"judicial and extrajudicial costs, and

(iv) such proportion of any loss or damages suffered by that party by reason of the enforcement of the judgment as the Attorney General may specify."

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-54, in Clause 7, be amended by replacing line 7, on page 7 with the following:

"is rendered, or any person who controls or is a member of a group of persons that controls, in law".

Foreign Extraterritorial Measures ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Dartmouth Nova Scotia

Liberal

Ron MacDonald LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of this legislation and to the amendments that have been put forward.

The Canadian government has been seized with the actions south of the border with respect to the reprehensible piece of legislation put forward, not affectionately know here as the Helms-Burton legislation.

The Helms-Burton legislation is a piece of work that has come at the height of the U.S. presidential silly season of U.S. politics. The Helms-Burton bill defies the recent trend both in the United States and in most western countries to try to remove those impediments to free trade in goods and services.

When we speak of the free trade agreement that has been negotiated between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, the Helms-Burton bill-it is the strong view of the Government of Canada and I think of most in this Chamber-is not only extraterritorial in its application but is contrary to the free trade agreement that was negotiated between these three sovereign states.

In order to figure out exactly what Helms-Burton seeks to do and to figure out the response of the government and the amendments we are debating today, one has to look back and understand that there has been an increasingly protectionist move in the right wing of the U.S. Congress.

We have to recognize that during the period in question when we see these pieces of legislation which are contrary to the direction forged over the last number of years, we must recognize that it is the U.S. presidential election season. In the United States there some on both the Republican and Democratic sides who will try to curry favour with Cuban Americans who are very important electors in some states such as Florida.

Because the president did not veto this piece of legislation, he allowed this backward looking revisionist piece of legislation to be put before the U.S. Congress and passed. It seeks to punish Canadian and other foreign companies that are doing normal business in Cuba. The Canadian government has followed a foreign policy with respect to Cuba that is different from the foreign policy followed by the United States for a number of years. We have done so because we believe that it is only through a policy of engagement, of increased trade in goods and services and also investment that the current regime in Cuba will be replaced by one that is more respectful of human rights and which would be more democratic in its orientation.

We have not followed the policy of the United States of isolationism, whereby it seeks to cripple not only the economy of Cuba but also to bring undue hardship to its people because the United States government has an aversion to the political regime which is in place.

The Canadian government has voiced its concerns about human rights abuses in Cuba. The Canadian government voiced a strong objection when the Cuban government shot down a plane a few months ago which in many respects precipitated this piece of legislation, the Helms-Burton Bill, being passed by the U.S. Congress.

The Canadian government is strong in its resolve to continue its policy of engagement economically with Cuba. We believe that Canadian businesses and the Canadian government have a role to play to ensure that the good people of Cuba are not further disadvantaged by protectionist rhetoric from places like the United States.

The Helms-Burton legislation seeks to punish Canadian and foreign companies that are doing business in Cuba. The Canadian government voiced very strong reaction to this type of legislation immediately upon its passage. The Prime Minister and other ministers of crown, the Minister for International Trade, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, have consulted widely with our friends around the world and with our friends in the European Union and in Mexico. We have launched a number of initiatives on a variety of fronts to clearly indicate that we believe that this type of legislation has no place in a modern trading system. We believe that this Helms-Burton legislation is a blatant exercise in extraterritoriality by the United States. Indeed, it is in violation of the responsibilities and rules of both NAFTA and the world trading organizations.

The bill we have introduced is a measured response. The bill and the amendments we are debating here today seek to ensure that any judgments which are rendered in U.S. courts as a result of the Helms-Burton legislation will not be enforceable in Canada. It allows for blocking orders to be issued, which is extremely important so that judgments which are rendered against Canadian companies and against Canadian property, individuals and businesses doing business in Cuba, the laws will not be enforceable in Canada.

It also ensures that under the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act the penalties which can be applied under the U.S. legislation are equal in measure. This is very important. We do not want to penalize Canadian companies that may be penalized under the act. We want to make exactly sure that Canadian companies do not make choices which may be contrary to their interests and indeed contrary to international law because of a difference in potential penalties in the United States jurisdiction and in Canada.

Under this legislation we have made sure that we are not going to play the same games as the Americans have with respect to other measures such as trying to give ministers of the crown in Canada the right to block individuals from coming into our country.

We believe that some of the measures that are inherent in the Helms-Burton legislation go beyond the realm of reason in trying to stop principals or families of Canadian companies that may be named according to the U.S. in trafficking in confiscated property.

We believe that is contrary to the rules and regulations under the NAFTA. We have made sure that in our response we have not become, as the U.S. has been, contrary to the rules and regulations under the NAFTA.

The amendments put forward today, the ones we are debating now, are measures which strengthen the bill. They are measures that have been discussed with all members of the committee under the chairmanship of the member for Rosedale, who has done an expert job in ensuring that this bill gets the type of quick passage required to give the Canadian government the tools it needs to defend against the intrusion into our jurisdiction and into our sovereignty.

Members of the opposition have seen this as a very positive piece of legislation, one required in order to ensure these incursions outside of jurisdiction by the United States do not go unanswered by our government.

I want to commend the members of the committee for not only ensuring the speedy passage through the committee of this legislation but also for their support of the amendments which have been put forward today which vastly strengthen the bill.

It is my hope that at the end of the day, at the end of third reading after we hear from the chairman of the committee and from members of the opposition who support the bill, the bill will received speedy passage at report stage and as well at third reading so that the Government of Canada has the tools at its disposal that are required under the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act to counter the most negative consequences of this piece of legislation, the Helms-Burton act in the U.S. Congress.

Foreign Extraterritorial Measures ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, later on in my speech I will explain to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade why I was so surprised when he said that the government was producing a measured response. I would like to elaborate on this aspect later on, because I think the expression "measured response" means one thing to our party and another thing to theirs.

The government has tabled five minor changes, five minor amendments to Bill C-54, which was tabled in two stages, seven months later. My they are quick, those Liberals! The American government acted seven months ago by imposing extraterritorial measures, and now, seven months later, we are discussing an amendment before we adopt our own legislation.

The five amendments proposed by the Liberal Party are minor amendments, and as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade pointed out earlier, the Bloc Quebecois will support those amendments as, I assume, will our Reform Party colleagues.

However, since these five amendments have been divided in two blocks, the first two amendments made us wonder about this direct reference to the Helms-Burton act, or should I say its formal name, in Bill C-54.

Had the government given this more thought or taken a more practical approach, had it said the following in amendments 1 and 2: "bills extraterritorial in nature, pursuant to schedule 1", as it appears in the bill, there would have been no need to open Bill C-54 if in the future-and we should adopt legislation with the future in mind-other countries implement extraterritorial measures.

By introducing these first two amendments to Bill C-54, the Liberal Party is, as it were, painting itself into a corner. In other words, if there is more legislation of this kind, we will have to come back to the House, reopen Bill C-54, which will be law by that time, to add these extraterritorial bills to the schedule and amend these two amendments.

We tried to influence the Liberal Party somewhat by making this suggestion. We got these amendments, be it somewhat late. We in the Bloc Quebecois understand that it is very important to protect Quebec and Canadian businesses. That is why we will go along with the case by case approach, as described, and we will agree-let us hope it will not be necessary-to reopen the act if we are faced with further extraterritorial bills.

I repeat, the amendments tabled by the government are really technical amendments. That is why we cannot object, but we cannot improve on them, because these amendments are intended to make Bill C-54 refer specifically to the Helms-Burton act. They said it was a mirror of the Helms-Burton bill.

The changes proposed in the amendments do not alter the substance of the bill, but rather help clarify it. Anyway, as I said in my first speech on Bill C-54, at second reading, we will vote for the bill since its thrust is to protect Canadian and Quebec companies doing business in Cuba.

However, as I said before, we are wondering why the Canadian government has waited seven month to take action. We know that first it trails behind the US foreign policy, second there is the American presidential campaign, and third international foreign policy.

Just when, to all intents and purposes, dangers have disappeared from the political map, the Canadian government says: "the American president has decided to postpone the implementation of title III of the Helms-Burton act, which could penalize Canadian and Quebec companies; since it does not cause too much harm, we might consider doing something about it". This is the kind of rigour, or vigour, the Minister of International Trade and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are showing here.

However, even with the five amendments introduced this morning by the government, title IV, under which relatives or descendants of employees of Canadian or Quebec firms may be banned from entering the United States-as is currently the case of the Sherritt corporation-is still in force.

There is no mention of title IV in these amendments. Earlier, the parliamentary secretary said that we did not want to do like the Americans who, under the Helms-Burton act, are trying rather clumsily to block Canadians doing business in Cuba from entering their country. We do not want to do the same thing.

Then why did the government call Bill C-54 a mirror image of the Helms-Burton act if it does not want to do the same thing? The parliamentary secretary said: "As much as possible, we oppose-". I will respectfully mention that, talking about what is possible, his government and himself could have appealed to a NAFTA panel since July.

Everybody agrees, the Helms-Burton act contravenes NAFTA. Everyone is now in agreement with that. Since July, the Liberal government could have appealed to a panel to have the Helms-Burton act declared invalid. The Canadian government knows that, since Bill C-54 cannot be amended to defeat title IV, the only way to do that is to ask a panel to declare the Hems-Burton law invalid.

The Canadian government has had this bargaining chip in its hands since July. It is clear it will not use it before the next elections in the United States. Meanwhile, we see what is happening to Canadian companies like Sherritt and others. Are we going to wait for other business managers, and even their families, to be denied entry in the United States before we contravene title IV?

In conclusion, we will support these five amendments to Bill C-54 because we want to protect Canadian companies and Quebec companies doing business in Cuba. However, we also want to reiterate, to restate our dissatisfaction with the federal government, which acted first too late and then, too quickly.

Foreign Extraterritorial Measures ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party will be supporting these five amendments which are of a technical nature to bolster Bill C-54, commonly known as the blocking legislation for Helms-Burton.

It is clear that the United States has a dispute with Cuba that needs to be resolved. However, it is a dispute that should not be taken outside of the United States.

The question here is whether the United States has the ability or the right to apply its law outside of its country. I submit it clearly does not. It is in contravention of NAFTA and Canada should have moved this dispute to a NAFTA panel long ago.

My colleague from the Bloc has said that Canada has been sitting on this problem since July, and I support that view. We have fought long and hard to have a dispute mechanism set up to settle these kinds of problems both at NAFTA and at GATT. We now have the World Trade Organization, and Canada seems to be afraid to take these matters to final resolution at these international bodies.

What is the use of having negotiated agreements through a long period of time to settle problems of this nature if we never use them?

The parliamentary secretary pointed out that this was an election year in the United States and sometimes during an election year things get a little strange down there in terms of foreign of policy. I support that view, but I do submit that the democratic president of the United States did sign the Helms-Burton bill. This is not a bill that just came out of the Republicans. The president did give a bit of an exemption to Canada for a period of time, but the meter is still ticking.

The Canadian companies involved still have liabilities accruing and I believe that C-54 does not address a couple of issues. It does not address the issue of liabilities that are continuing to accrue. It does not address the issue of blocking Canadian executives and their families of companies that are affected from entering the United States. Therefore I see Bill C-54 as a half measure, one that needs to be taken, but we should have taken this to a dispute panel at NAFTA long ago.

I believe there is a disturbing trend coming out of this Liberal government. We saw it back in 1994 when we had a dispute with the United States over durum wheat where Canada accepted export caps. Is that in the spirit of free trade? I submit it is not.

Clearly Canada and the United States agreed under the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement that there should be no restriction on trade between the two countries, there should be a phase down of tariffs and that the whole idea was to try to establish a market economy based on the ability of producers to have some regional advantage possibly.

However, what we have is a government that seems to be willing to cave in to the United States every time we have a dispute. This is just one more example of it. We saw it in the Canada-U.S. wheat dispute in 1994. We saw it again in the softwood lumber dispute where Canada has decided to impose restrictive quotas on ourselves which is very cumbersome to put in place and to administer. In fact, the whole process has been delayed another month because they cannot agree on how provincial allocations should be set out and we have not even arrived at the allocations that go to individual companies yet.

Now we have a dispute over a situation in which the United States is trying to apply its law outside of its own country which is clearly in contravention of a NAFTA deal that we have signed, and this government continues to use a process of stalling. If we had taken this issue to a NAFTA panel it probably would have been resolved by now. I believe the panel would have found in favour of Canada.

We support the amendments which strengthen Bill C-54. They are of a technical nature. The bill will be of some help to Canadian companies but clearly this dispute should be resolved on the basis of the international agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.

We will be supporting this bill, but this government must start to show some backbone in responding to the United States. With regard to trade policy the United States tends to act like a bit of a bully. If we do not respond with corresponding strength I do not think the Americans will respect us. We must show them we have some strength and are willing to stand up to them in this type of dispute.

Therefore we will be supporting these amendments at report stage, but we must move far beyond this, show some strength and challenge countries like the United States when they try to apply their laws outside their own countries.

Foreign Extraterritorial Measures ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to participate in the report stage debate of Bill C-54. This gives members of the Canadian Parliament who speak on behalf of the people of Canada a clear opportunity to send a very strong message, a strong message to American politicians, to the American people. It is also a message of solidarity to the people of Cuba. I support the principle of this bill and I support the amendments which strengthen the bill.

It is important to look at the context of this legislation. It is very clear what is happening in the United States. A small group of powerful and influential legislators led by Senator Jesse Helms and Representative Dan Burton are pandering to what I have called the Miami mafia, the Mas Canosas, the Cuban-American Foundation. In doing so they are not only in breach of international law but they are promoting policies which I believe are profoundly immoral and repugnant in a civilized society.

This is an opportunity for the Parliament of Canada not only to condemn the Helms-Burton law, a law which is clearly in breach of international law with respect to the application of extraterritorial measures to foreign countries, but I think this Parliament should go further. This Parliament should also clearly and unequivocally condemn the longstanding American blockade of Cuba.

I am a member of the Canada-Cuba Parliamentary Friendship Association, an all-party grouping of members of this House and the other place. We have attempted to promote dialogue and

understanding between the people of Canada and the people of Cuba. The member for Bourassa and the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore are active members of that group as well.

We had the opportunity to visit Cuba to meet with representatives of that government and to meet with President Fidel Castro. We also met with ordinary Cuban citizens. Earlier this year we hosted a visiting delegation from Cuba which was led by the minister of education, Luis Gomes.

It was very clear to all members of the parliamentary friendship group that the people of Cuba at this very difficult time are struggling against terrible odds. This blockade, this illegal, immoral blockade which has been condemned in ever increasing numbers at the United Nations, must be strongly condemned by our own government and by this Parliament.

The people of Cuba and the Government of Cuba are challenging the wave of right wing orthodoxy, the neo-conservative wave that has taken hold in too many parts of the world. What they are saying is that an economy should serve human needs, an economy should not just be there to serve the interests of the corporate elite to maximize profits. The Government of Cuba and the people of Cuba have had great success despite terrible odds when we look at the socioeconomic indicators: one of the lowest rates of infant mortality in Latin American, one of the highest rates of literacy. The rate of child poverty is far lower than anywhere else. This is despite the terrible difficulties faced by Cuba following the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

I would note that when one looks at the conditions in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union with the advent of unbridled capitalism, when one looks at the corruption, at the growing gap between rich and poor, at the poverty among young people and seniors, I certainly understand why the people of Cuba and the Government of Cuba have said they reject that model, they believe in an economic model, a model of socialism based on Cuban needs and the unique aspirations and conditions of the people of Cuba. That is what really angers the American political establishment.

Yes, there are concerns about human rights in Cuba. The United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights has visited Cuba and has reported. Those concerns are real and I know they must be addressed. However, I suggest that the approach of the American government in lecturing the people of Cuba, lecturing the Government of Cuba on human rights violations is in fact steeped in hypocrisy.

This same government that lectures the people of Cuba on human rights violations of course was and is silent on massive human rights violations in other parts of the world, the genocidal policies of Indonesia in East Timor, massive human rights violations elsewhere in Latin America. Not only were the Americans silent on the death squads in El Salvador, the brutal bloodshed in Guatemala and the blood thirsty junta in Chile, but the CIA was actively involved in those countries. The Americans have no business lecturing other countries on human rights.

What about basic economic, social and cultural rights? Look at the growing gap between rich and poor, between powerful and powerless in the United States itself. What about democracy and free elections? Look what it costs to run as a candidate; millions and millions of dollars in that great bastion of democracy in the United States of America.

The tragic irony of the U.S. blockade is that it even hurts the American people. I visited a biomedical technology centre, and Cuba is one of the leading countries in the world on biomedical technology. It was pointed out to me that one of the drugs produced in Cuba for dealing with trauma, cardiac arrest and so on, which can save lives by taking precious moments off the response time, a drug called streptokinase, is not available to the people of the United States because of this blockade. It is madness.

I want to take this opportunity during this debate as well to pay tribute to the many Canadian individuals and organizations working in solidarity with the people of Cuba at this very difficult time, the groups helping to ship medical supplies, computers and other badly needed supplies.

There are various solidarity groups in the labour movement. Brigadista groups are travelling to Cuba and other groups are working closely with the people of Cuba at this time.

I want to encourage Canadian businesses to invest in Cuba. Congratulations to Sherritt Gordon which is standing up to this legislative thuggery by the United States Congress. It has recently convened a directors meeting in Havana.

I encourage Canadians to seriously consider spending their winter holiday in Cuba rather than in Florida. That would be a tangible expression of our support. It is a beautiful country.

I support this bill. I urge the people of Canada and the Government of Canada to support the people of Cuba by speaking out strongly against that repugnant piece of legislation.

Foreign Extraterritorial Measures ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?