Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a few words today on the proposed amendment by the Bloc to Bill C-19, the bill which implements the agreement on internal trade.
The motion the Bloc has put forth really is not unlike the amendment put forth by the Liberals on the Reform Party's motion which said that a parliamentary committee should study the allegations of sedition against the Bloc. The amendment the Liberals brought forth on that motion struck all the words before "that" and all the words after "that" and really left nothing of the original motion.
The Bloc by putting this amendment forward is saying: "We do not really want to pay any attention to this agreement for internal trade which we have signed" or: "We do not trust the dispute settlement mechanism". It is one or the other. Either way it is saying that it wants to ignore the agreement or bypass the dispute settlement mechanism and have new negotiations with the federal government in the area of bulk trucking.
This indicates to me that the Bloc has absolutely no faith in the original agreement or it does not trust the dispute settlement mechanism. I can understand some of the Bloc members' concerns with that. The dispute settlement mechanism has no teeth and it could be a very long procedure. However, it is the mechanism that was agreed to when they signed the agreement and I think it is worth giving it a try. This mechanism has not been tried yet. It really cannot be fully tried until the legislation that this motion amends is passed. Bill C-19 will implement the agreement on internal trade. There is so much leeway given in the dispute settlement mechanism that it should be more than enough to protect the trucking industry which this motion deals with.
In the agreement there is a list of legitimate objectives that a province can have which will allow the province to really get around honouring the intent of the agreement. These legitimate objectives are based on public security and safety; public order; the protection of human, animal or plant life and health; the protection of the environment; consumer protection; protection of the health, safety and well-being of workers; and the affirmative action program for disadvantaged groups.
Any of those so-called legitimate objectives could be presented, in this case by the province of Quebec in regard to its bulk trucking industry, and examined by a panel. Surely the Bloc should trust that the panel would examine the legitimate objectives and determine that one or more of the legitimate objectives would allow the panel to tell the industry that it can continue to operate in a way which is different from the rest of the country, or to tell it that there is no reason for it to be given special treatment in this area.
The Bloc motion is really an attempt to disregard the agreement and to get around the dispute settlement mechanism. The dispute settlement mechanism, after this legislation is passed and implemented, will allow five panellists chosen from a pool of 65 panellists to decide in this case whether the trucking industry in Quebec should honour the intent of the agreement or whether it should have special protection.
Two of the panellists will come from the federal pool, two will come from the provincial pool, from a province other than Quebec, and those four panellists will choose a chair. There will be five panellists from the federal and provincial governments and a chair who will determine the issues.
I challenge Bloc members to demonstrate why they do not have any faith that this process would deal with the problem which their amendment is trying to deal with today.
We have to give the process which has been put forth a chance to see if it will work. Granted, a lot of parties, think tanks and people who have examined the agreement do not have a lot of faith in the dispute settlement mechanism as presented. I have grave doubts that it will work, but let us give it a chance. If we find that it does not work, then we should tighten it up very quickly and give it some teeth.
If the Government of Quebec is concerned about the way this agreement will deal with its trucking industry, then it should take it to a panel. When the legislation is passed it could put it through the dispute settlement mechanism. It could put it through the negotiation process first. If that did not solve the problem, it could submit it to a panel and have the issue decided in that manner.
The Reform Party will not support this motion. It really is a motion which disregards the agreement and the dispute settlement mechanism. I do not think it is worthy of being supported by the House.