House of Commons Hansard #20 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.


Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Willowdale Ontario


Jim Peterson Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved that Bill C-11, an act respecting the imposition of duties of customs and other charges, to give effect to the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, to provide relief against the imposition of certain duties of customs or other charges, to provide for other related matters and to amend or repeal certain acts in consequence thereof, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, this is one of those occasions which rarely arises in this Chamber when all party consent, quickly given, is in the interests of all Canadians.

By simplifying the customs tariff, the bill will result in duty savings next year for Canadian businesses and consumers of $90 million and will eliminate red tape. It will lower the production costs for Canadian firms, increase competitiveness in domestic and global markets and create more jobs.

All of us know that Canada's prosperity depends on trade. Exports account for 33% of the gross domestic product and 29% of GDP consists of imports. If the costs of tariffs can be lowered for Canadian businesses and administrative burden can be lessened, we will have a more competitive job creating economy. This is why the government has worked closely with Canadian businesses to design a more simple, cost effective customs tariff.

Consultations were extensive. Letters were sent to the leaders of the parties opposite from the heads of Canadian businesses and business organizations throughout Canada asking for their unanimous support for these measures. They have asked that priority be given by Parliament to passage of this legislation.

I would remind my colleagues that on January 1 next year, just a couple of months off, under the North American free trade agreement, tariffs with the United States will be eliminated. On this side we share the concerns of business that a simplified customs tariff be ready for implementation on that date. Of course, this implies that business too must be ready. We have to preclude economic disruption, allow for automated systems to be adapted and employees to be educated to the new tariff structure. This is why government has been working very closely with business to ensure that they are ready.

Since April Revenue Canada and StatsCan have undertaken ongoing, extensive outreach programs with those affected. Officials of the finance department have met with businesses and trade organizations and participated in conferences to inform interested parties. Obviously, early passage would enable the government to provide the information necessary regarding what is needed in terms of certainty, clarity and timeliness to the business community.

Quick passage will also demonstrate to Canadian industry that Parliament is not only aware of market realities, but is also able to respond quickly and effectively to industry calls for legislation. Put simply, it is timely that Bill C-11 be enacted.

Why? Because the current customs tariff represents a highly unnecessary hurdle to doing business. It is complex and outdated. It is time consuming and its redundant compliance requirements represent both a financial and opportunity cost to industry, not to mention government and bureaucracy. We have to streamline it, simplify it and update it to make Canadians competitive at home and abroad.

With rates of duty on all trade with our largest partner ending on January 1, 1998, coupled with other real rate reductions and eliminations flowing from the Uruguay round of the World Trade Organization, it is important to simplify our regime by eliminating complex and redundant mechanisms and ensuring that the tariff is responsive to competitive pressures facing Canadian industry.

Our regime has become truly complex. In all there are now 13 tariff treatments, 7 schedules, about 8,500 tariff items and 2,500 concessionary provisions or regulations and over 200 different rates of duty. The system is complicated, lacks transparency and leads, because of its complexity, to great uncertainty. This has been noted in many reports by the World Trade Organization. It is imperative to minimize these costs to industry. Let us recognize that it is not only in Canada but all around the world that tariff rates are going down.

The Uruguay round, the FTA and the NAFTA have resulted in an almost 60% trade weighted reduction in average Canadian tariffs. The tariff system must be better adapted to the competitive Canadian industrial economy. In the context of an increasingly open economy, we have to have dynamic linkages between exports and imports, meaning declining rates of duty.

For all these reasons, the February 1994 budget announced a thorough review of the Canadian tariff system over a three-year period.

The main objectives were to ensure that the Customs Tariff and its regulations better reflect the pressures of international competition and also to reduce the regulatory burden and all the related costs.

Accordingly, a working group was set up within the Department of Finance and was mandated to achieve the objectives within three years. One of the key points of this review was its consultation of all the parties concerned to ensure that the results of the review were in line with the objectives set.

Meetings were held in order to inform those involved of the measures planned and to seek their views. Following public consultations, a draft version of the simplified Customs Tariff reflecting public comments was issued in March 1996 to give everyone an opportunity to prepare their final comments.

Thus, in order to reach the greatest number of interested parties, ads were published in a number of major Canadian papers, and the provisional version was displayed on the Internet site.

The proposed legislation and letters of support from industry leaders received by the leaders of the opposition parties indicate that the consultation process was a success, since business supports the bill and is getting ready for its application.

It is obvious the bill is based on the measures the current government has taken up until now to restructure and modernize the Customs Tariff. We hope in this way to help our businesses become more competitive and prosperous.

In June 1995, Bill C-102 lowered tariffs on a broad range of manufacturing inputs, so as to reduce the pressure exerted by the competition on Canadian industry as a result of the amendments to the drawback program affecting exports to the United States. These amendments were necessitated by NAFTA.

This initiative was the first legislative measure taken to simplify tariff provisions. I am very happy to say that it enabled business and consumers in Canada to save some $60 million a year.

The planned tariff reductions will benefit Canadian producers. What's more, the administrative burden will be lighter—and related costs lower—for both government and business. Finally, the Customs Tariff will become easier to implement.

This bill will replace the seven existing schedules with a single one, simplify the tariff structure and greatly reduce the number of provisions in the Customs Tariff. The number of provisions will be reduced from 11,000 to 8,000. Moreover, obsolete or unnecessary tariff regulations and administrative procedures will be eliminated.

The new Customs Tariff will also have a broader application and permit unilateral tariff reductions for manufacturing inputs and the application of similar measures to the service sector.

I would like, in this regard, to remind my colleagues of the importance of ensuring that the Canadian service sector is as competitive as possible, especially in light of the international lifting of trade barriers in the service sector. We all know that the service sector is one of the most important ones in our country.

Until now I have spoken only in general terms concerning the overall economic benefits of simplifying our tariff structure. To illustrate these benefits allow me to turn briefly to several measures in the legislation.

I have already talked about the duty saving on a wide range of manufacturing products. The legislation will make further reductions in this direction, including the acceleration of most final Uruguay round reductions currently scheduled for the next two years.

As well, we are going to get rid of nuisance rates. Rates under 2% will be eliminated. We are going to round other rates to the nearest half per cent. These will be permanent features of our tariff system.

Rate reductions which affect goods coming into Canada that are used as inputs for manufacturing are very important. These will reduce the cost to Canadian manufacturers. It will make them more competitive and better able to take advantage of the growing regime of free trade. In short, our industries will be better able to compete for jobs.

Government red tape also stands in the way of our competitiveness. A case in point is the remaining not made in Canada provisions in the tariff to which I referred earlier. Under these provisions duty free entry is provided for specific goods, mostly manufacturing inputs.

While these provisions once provided flexibility to take into account the needs of Canadian manufacturers and producers, they have now been rendered redundant by the openness of our Canadian economy resulting from freer trade.

As well, they give rise to inconsistencies in the tariff treatment of goods, impose administrative costs to industry and the government and create uncertainty over what is dutiable.

Therefore we are now converting the remaining not made in Canada provisions to duty free items in the tariff schedule without the not made condition. This, again, will improve our competitiveness, particularly in our manufacturing sector.

Concerning concessionary codes in the current tariff, these provide for reduced rates or free entry for a wide range of goods that are not really part of the main tariff. With freer trade generally and with the United States in particular, changes in trade patterns and technology and other factors, many of these provisions are no longer justified. This is why we have proposed to eliminate about 1,000 of these codes. Another 1,000 or so codes remain relevant, since the amount of imports under them from non-U.S. sources is significant. These codes have been converted to tariff provisions at concessionary rates in a single tariff schedule.

To further reduce costs to industry we are terminating the machinery program and replacing it with duty free or dutiable tariff provisions for unavailable equipment or available equipment, respectively.

Currently duties on a broad range of machinery from all sources are remitted to applicants if reasonable equivalents are not available from Canadian production. Again, however, this program has been rendered largely irrelevant, or less relevant, by tariff reductions.

Implementing tariff items will not eliminate inconsistencies and uncertainty, it will alleviate the administrative requirements of the former remission process. Under the proposed legislation virtually all machinery production parts and most other parts under the program will come in duty free.

Regarding the remaining dutiable production machinery under the existing program, industry will continue to be able to seek and obtain relief under the proposed broadened order in council authority to reduce tariffs on inputs. Any relief granted will be implemented by means of amendments to the schedule.

I wish to note that following consultations with industry and a transitional period of three years, the sole criterion to be assessed in considering these applications for relief from the tariff will be whether the equipment is available from domestic production. This program will lower costs to machinery users, provide greater transparency and predictability and help make us more competitive.

As well, the regulatory burden will also be reduced by revoking an additional 300 duty remission orders that are no longer needed. Yet another 70 regulations will be replaced with simpler provisions in the schedule. For example, for customs duty purposes, 12 regulations and 13 provisions that provide fuller partial tariff relief on certain temporarily imported goods will be replaced by one single tariff item, an item that allows conditional duty free entry for virtually all goods that are imported on a temporary basis, again to help make us more competitive in Canada.

Turning to the legislative provisions of the customs tariff there are a number of proposed changes in the bill. Many current provisions are not continued in the new tariff because they are no longer justified because of free trade. Others such as the machinery program are not continued due to the simplification that we have brought about. Perhaps the most striking change is the way the new single consolidated tariff schedule will look. It has a revised format with two columns pertaining to tariff treatments, reduced from the current five.

The government also proposes to eliminate the British preferential tariff. The reductions in most favoured nations rates of duty over the years have significantly eroded or, in most instances, completely eliminated the preferences under the BPT on most imports from developing commonwealth countries. Over the years this treatment has been overtaken in many instances by other preferential tariff treatments for developing countries and has become largely redundant. The British preferential tariff is therefore not in the proposed legislation.

Another important change to the legislation, which I briefly mention, is the broadened order in council authority to reduce duties on all imports including production machinery used by manufactures and service providers. It will ensure that the government has sufficient flexibility to respond efficiently to competitive pressures facing our industries. It also provides a new three year authority for the Minister of Finance in light of the experience over that time to rectify errors that we find in consultation with our private sector partners. This provision is considered particularly important by the business community in view of the wide ranging changes that this bill envisages.

Given these and other changes to the customs tariff, which my colleagues will address during this debate, we proposed to repeal the current customs tariff and replace it with an entirely new act. Substantive amendments are also being made to the Customs Act including provisions to harmonize the time limits for claiming duty refunds and providing for adjustments to tariff classifications, origin or value for duty determinations without the requirement for a formal appeal.

It will also provide for a single level of administrative appeal in Revenue Canada. These will simplify the appeal process and facilitate a focus on those issues where Revenue Canada and the importer may have disagreements. Overall we will have a much more simplified, transparent and predictable administration and regime.

In conclusion this bill and the measures I have detailed here today have three overriding results. First, they will help make Canadian industry far more competitive within a much freer global trading environment. Second, they will make our tariff system more transparent, more predictable and simpler. Third, they will reduce greatly the regulatory burden and the associated costs of that for both business and government.

Industry, as it has contacted members on all sides of this House, has indicated that it is anxious to see this legislation in place for the January 1, 1998 debut. I am confident that members of this House will accede to the needs of industry and allow us to pass without undue delay these measures in order that uncertainties will not apply throughout our business community.

I reiterate our view that this bill merits all party support and accelerated approval in order that businesses, workers and consumers can reap its benefits.

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Eric C. Lowther Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be speaking of course to Bill C-11 this morning, the simplified customs tariff.

Sometimes a low profile bill like this does not get a lot of attention. It is not front and centre in the media. It does not get all the excitement around it that some of the other bills do. But I want to say this morning how important this bill is because of its very significance around what it represents. Bureaucracies in general have a tendency to grow and if left unchecked, they just grow and grow and grow.

This particular piece of legislation that is being proposed is counter to that bureaucratic current of continual growth. I am going to come back to that concept later but I would like first of all to go through some of the highlights of this particular piece of legislation. I may touch on some of the notes of the previous speaker but as I go through these highlights I would ask members of the House to focus on the efficiencies and the countercurrent to bureaucratic growth that is inherent in this piece of legislation and consider applying this same kind of approach to other pieces of legislation and other parts of the bureaucracy.

First, this particular piece of legislation focused on reducing the custom duties on the goods that are used in the manufacturing process in Canada, allowing Canadian businesses to better compete in the international marketplace.

Second, this piece of legislation totally eliminated some of the tariffs and duties for products in a not made in Canada category. This allowed Canadian businesses to improve their competitiveness on a broader range of duty free imports, but maybe even more important is the sea of red tape that that one change allowed. No longer do we have to go through an onerous process of determining what is a not made in Canada product and trying to track that as the situation changes in Canada both by government and industry.

I would like to also mention the clean-up that was done on the concessionary tariff codes. Many of these concessionary codes, as the previous member mentioned, had become obsolete. Two thousand of them in total were either eliminated or restructured and put in place as regular tariff schedule items. There are great gains in efficiency there.

In addition we had the elimination of the machinery remission program, duties remitted on machinery that was not available in Canada. This program had a huge administrative cost both for the private sector and for government in the determination of what is the machinery that is not available in Canada and how do we track it as the situation changes, applying for the remission and then tracking to make sure one actually got the remission cheque. Then there was all the discussion around whether or not it applied to the legislation that was in place. This was a great simplification of the tariff that is inherent in this new legislation which we fully endorse.

There was also the clean-up and elimination of those duties that were expressed in dollars and cents numbers rather than a percentage. The majority of tariffs are in a percentage but there were some that were still expressed in dollars and cents. It was much more appropriate to move them all into the one common format of percentage. It allows for much greater ease of use. It is also more appropriate as the price of the tariff item changes.

In addition some of the trade developments that have occurred in Canada made some of the regulations obsolete. Three hundred different remission orders and regulations were revoked. Seventy others were replaced with simple tariff items. Again all of this reduced the regulatory burden.

In addition there was a rationalization of the tariff schedule which was terrifically unwieldy the way it was before. There was the elimination of nuisance rates. Anything that was less than 2% tariff was eliminated. There was a rounding off of numbers to make it easier to apply the tariff. There was a harmonization of rates on like products. There was an amalgamation and a fixing of anomalies.

None of this is particular earth shaking. None of it is particularly difficult to do. It just took work. But the benefits to Canadian business and the Canadian government are substantial. The cumulative effect is a more predictable, simplified tariff legislation with less regulatory burden and increased competitive strength. Some aspects of Canadian business I would suggest are even ready for a lot more of this.

After touching on the highlights of this particular piece of legislation, let us go back to the significance of this kind of work and take the success of this particular initiative and apply it to the broader range of government legislation and bureaucracy that is out there.

As I said, bureaucracies have a tendency to grow. Why is that? It is largely due to their reward structure. In a bureaucracy the way one gets ahead personally is to build the bureaucracy underneath oneself. Always spend all your budget plus a little bit more. Launch new ideas and try to win support for your ideas. Get more people motivated around your good idea with very little accountability to what is actually being provided in the way of service and the value of that service evaluated through an impartial third party.

This particular piece of legislation goes counter to that kind of bureaucratic tendency in that it serves to shrink the bureaucracy and add efficiency. Those who are involved in this type of work are usually within bureaucracies and their efforts go unrewarded.

I would like to suggest that the Reform Party from the very inception recognized this tendency within bureaucracies to grow and grow. Within our policy and platform books it is clear that we have called for a simplification of the regulation, a rationalization of the redundancies of the processes within government, adding to the efficiency and quality of the service provided by government but doing it in a way that downsizes the extent of the bureaucracy.

Reform has recognized the need for this type of initiative from the very inception. In fact within our policy documents it is clear that we have also recognized the need for a change in the reward structure around bureaucracies.

What we are calling for within our government is a recognition for those people and those individuals who can demonstrably deliver a higher quality of service at lower cost. These kinds of efficiency gains are usually brought about by individuals within the government at the front line or at the first level of management who are aware of the waste and aware of where the problems are.

The problem today is if those people do take the initiative to increase efficiency, they are not rewarded. In fact they can even encounter some very significant resistance. Our policy calls on that type of initiative to be rewarded. If we are to really see the bureaucracies in our government begin to shrink and become more effective, we need to recognize individuals and groups of people who are focused on providing a higher quality of service at a lower cost to Canadians.

I would like to commend the individuals who were involved in this project. They consulted with industry. I am sure there were many hours spent poring over this piece of legislation to come up with something that is refreshing and is counter to the usual growth we see in the bureaucracy.

With those comments, I would like to say that this is the kind of legislation that is a step in the right direction. It is consistent with what Reform has been calling for. Would it not be refreshing to apply this kind of approach to other pieces of government legislation, perhaps the Income Tax Act.

Many people do not realize that the Income Tax Act was implemented as a temporary measure to fund the war effort. It was actually 36 pages at that time. Now it is over 600 pages of legalese and another 700 pages of special interpretations and guidelines. It is almost twice as thick as the yellow pages in my own home city of Calgary. And Canadians are supposed to somehow figure all of it out.

I believe we need to apply the same kind of rationalization and simplification that we are seeing in this bill to a number of areas within our government. That is why this bill is so significant for what it represents here today.

The Reform caucus and I believe all my colleagues are in support of this bill. Therefore it can be anticipated that there is support from this side of the House on this bill this morning.

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to state the Bloc Quebecois position on Bill C-11 on the customs tariff.

The Bloc Quebecois is in favour of expansion of the free trade zone to all of the Americas, essentially to enhance our trade exchanges with other countries, Brazil and Argentina in particular.

We have already taken one step in this direction with the Canada-Chile free trade agreement. We believe Canada must continue along this path, which is a continuation of a long history of market liberalization, one which is accelerating as we approach the second millennium.

Free trade agreements in our time bring numerous questions to the fore. To provide a clear picture of the Bloc Quebecois position on this, I will begin with a reference to the steps leading to the recent liberalization of markets. I shall then move on to the sad record of Liberal promises on this subject. Lastly, I will set out the Bloc Quebecois position on Bill C-11.

On numerous occasions we have referred to the essential nature of the free trade agreement. We have often said that a major shift in direction is needed, and I believe we must continue to say so.

A review of numerous events in our history shows us that markets need to be opened up, as we have always believed. As far back as 1950, American capital was flooding into Canada. Since the War of 1914, the United States had replaced Great Britain as our principal source of foreign capital, funds which Canada could not do without. But the British contributed to the bonds issued by Canada and even to subsidiaries wholly owned by the Americans. So many Canadian companies were bought up by American interests in 10 years that the 1950s will be remembered as the decade of the big takeover. Entire industries, created by English Canadians to be sheltered from the tariff, fell into the hands of the Americans.

The Canadian government was facing two problems at the same time. Unable to rely on customs duties to direct industrial development, it had to abandon any initiative in that area or find new means of achieving the same ends. Also, with the Americans apparently set on buying everything out, should they be allowed to carry out their initiatives or should measures be contemplated to hold them back?

The answers came from the 1960s up until 1988. The policies that were set reflected a consistent effort to direct industrial development and to erect barriers against foreign control. Starting with the 1960 federal budget, the purpose of fiscal policies and subsidies was twofold: to direct investments toward preferential activity areas and to encourage investment in regions where both unemployment and the rate of growth was particularly high.

In this context, Canada was built and the early experiences were never forgotten. Without the government, the railways could never have been built in a country with such a small population. When people saw where commercial aviation was headed and set up Trans-Canada Airlines, the development of Hertzian waves for transmission purposes resulted in the creation of the CBC. The telegraph, and telecommunications could have developed along north-south lines, while railways were looking after the east-west link. Building a country by means of customs tariffs is inevitably a form of schizophrenia.

Naturally, without the burden of customs duties, factories sprang up, jobs were created, foreign companies that otherwise would have been content to sell to Canada, set up business here so as to avoid paying duties. From these perspectives, a protectionist policy helped increase provincial production and at the same time contributed to trade.

It is also true, however, that the consumer paid more than would otherwise have been the case if he had bought goods directly outside the country duty free. In addition, the establishment of many factories in a small Canadian market, with consumers demanding the same diversification of products as American consumers, meant that factories' production costs were much higher than in American factories, with correspondingly higher unit production costs.

As it developed, the Canadian manufacturing industry cut itself off from most export markets. It existed for the domestic market, but in most cases, it was not able to compete on international markets, and it should come as no surprise that attempts were sometimes made to point out the advantages of free trade over those of national production.

The attempts made by the Laurier government, before World War I, and those of the Mackenzie King government immediately after World War II, make no sense otherwise. But the imperatives of building a country and a national economy won the day.

The fifteen years following the end of World War II, however, were to profoundly, decisively, and in some ways irreversibly, alter the policies of organizing and developing the Canadian economy. The great depression of the 1930s led most national industrial economies to resort to extremely restrictive protectionist measures. With 20%, 25% or even 30% of the labour force unemployed, governments did not hesitate to reserve what was left of the domestic market for national businesses, by drastically increasing custom duties. Such a measure encouraged trading partners to do the same, with the result that, in the decade which preceded the world conflict, tariff wars proliferated.

From 1930 to 1935, protectionist hysteria between Canada and the United States knew no limits. Some traditional trade activities between the two countries completely disappeared. The same was happening all over the world. This period will be remembered as a crazy time when every country was trying to ruin its neighbour and ended up going bankrupt too. Nations came out of the war with a firm resolution to never let this happen again.

In 1947, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, was established. The setting-up of that remarkable organization resulted in a gradual lowering of custom duties, first among major industrial countries, and then between them and an increasing number of developing countries. Suffice it to say that, by the end of the second world war, average U.S. customs duties on American taxable imports stood at 30%, compared to barely 5% today. This gives you an idea of the progress that was made.

In Canada, changes may have been less spectacular but they were nevertheless significant. Eventually, it was realized that the very nature of the GATT agreements made it impossible to use customs duties to structure the Canadian economy. In fact, if the government still needs an industrial policy, it has to rely on instruments other than those that have been used so rigorously for close to 100 years. Customs duties are bound to be reduced or to remain at their current level.

To be sure, GATT regulations contain any number of derogatory clauses. We gradually learned how to use them, which was no small feat.

I have just described a significant part of the development of trade in Canada and in Quebec with other countries and between provinces. I feel it is important to specify as well that the federal government has not shown great efficiency in this connection, has not demonstrated any desire to move further with it, despite its lukewarm support of free trade in the past—we need only recall the battle over the free trade agreement.

Where improvement of dispute resolution mechanisms is concerned, for example, the three partners announced in March of this year that no progress had been made. In addition, the United States indicated that there would be no further discussions on this matter. By so doing, they drew attention to the false statements the party across the way was still making on the matter of free trade.

The same goes for energy. Canada has never obtained similar protection to what Mexico has under NAFTA. Instead, it has released a declaration setting out its interpretation of the NAFTA clauses relating to energy. This declaration, of course, is not an integral part of NAFTA, unlike the special Mexican reservations and clauses.

In response to Bloc Quebecois questions on the matter last winter, the Minister of International Trade at the time could do no more than take refuge once again behind the work of the task force, which was still incomplete. He told us in his response that he had not yet been able to meet with his U.S. and Mexican counterparts to examine the NAFTA committee report.

In his testimony before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the minister recognized that he needed more time to come to an agreement with the U.S. over antidumping and countervailing measures. I need not remind you that such measures were often taken against Canada and that the so-called efforts of this government, which was looking for reforms in that area, never produced any concrete results.

The government's strategy, as stated by the minister responsible, was to sign a similar agreement with Chile, and later with Mexico, to put a little more pressure on our other trade partner, the United States. He added that progress was made and that a report will be tabled, which he will release as soon as he is given the green light.

I urge the government to table this document in the House of Commons now, if eight months was long enough to seek the necessary permissions to share this information with the elected representatives of the people of Quebec and Canada who are sitting in this House. However, it seems rather—

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but it being 11 o'clock, the House will now proceed to statements by members pursuant to Standing Order 31. The hon. member will have 5 minutes left to complete his speech after Oral Question Period.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, according to the Sierra Club of Canada we are the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita in the industrialized world.

To the government's credit, the Minister of the Environment has indicated that Canadians and the international community must take immediate action to reduce these emissions and stop the harmful effects of global climate change.

It is up to each and every Canadian to do their part to reduce emissions. It means being more responsible in how we use energy. It means conserving our national resources. It means using renewable fuels that are more friendly to the environment. We cannot rely on any other sector of the population to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions for us. All Canadians must work together to reduce these emissions.

I fully support the Minister of the Environment and the international community in their efforts to reduce the threat of global warming.

Correctional Service CanadaStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Allan Kerpan Reform Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House my colleague from Wild Rose stated how Roy Tremblay, a prison guard in the process of relocating a prisoner with full-blown AIDS, was stuck by a hidden tattoo needle.

The following letter from Mr. Tremblay expresses his frustration with our present day penal system. The letter reads:

Isn't it ironic that Corrections Canada provides convicts with condoms, lubricant and bleach to clean their needles, and we've been told that Joyceville is thinking about opening a tattoo room for its inmates?

Well what about providing some protective equipment for the staff? I ask you, isn't a guard's life worth the cost of a pair of puncture resistant gloves?

He goes on to write:

It may be said that I am bitter and should just get on with my life. Well guess what? I am very bitter and I would gladly trade places with these people and let them have the worries and uncertainty that I have to endure every day.

Corrections Canada gives staff lip service to our concerns. Well if they want to talk the talk then they better start walking the walk.

By the way, it should be noted that it is a policy not to inform prison guards and staff about—

United Nations DayStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this United Nations Day, I would like to draw attention to the work of the UN, particularly in the areas of health, education, human rights, the environment, peace and security.

The United Nations is the cornerstone of Canadian foreign policy and we have historically been one of its strongest supporters.

Lester Pearson's contribution to our modern peacekeeping efforts is legendary and Canadians are proud of our peacekeeping missions.

We are working with the United Nations to increase worldwide support for the treaty to ban landmines, a landmark agreement which the Minister of Foreign Affairs should be commended for initiating.

Canada is currently a candidate for the non-permanent seat on the Security Council. If successful, we hope to play an even greater role at the United Nations over the next few years toward increased peace and security internationally.

Our credentials and reputation in this regard are respected world wide.

On this United Nations Day, we must support Secretary General Koffi Anna in his efforts to make the UN more efficient so it can face the challenges of the 21st century.

Small Business WeekStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, as this is Small Business Week, I am pleased to recognize this sector's active contribution to our economy.

In the riding of Laval Centre, over 880 small businesses help provide work for 18,875 people. Their energy and their creativity are the keys to their vitality and success.

In this context, I am proud to pay tribute to the exceptional work of PBI experts-conseils Inc. Yesterday, this business from my riding received an award at the 30th gala of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada.

Under the leadership of its president, Paul Boyer, this small business employing five people developed state-of-the-art software which received high praise from Hydro-Québec and Quebec's Ministry of Environment and Wildlife.

This success story clearly shows that Quebec's know-how and knowledge are worth their weight in gold.

Canada CouncilStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in keeping with our red book commitment, the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced an annual increase of $25 million to the Canada Council for the arts.

Much has been accomplished by the Canada Council in the past 40 years. From the grassroots up, the council has contributed to building a vast, lively and diverse arts sector of creators and organizations in communities across Canada.

The Canada Council for the arts has focused its efforts on the creation, production and dissemination of artistic work which has fostered the emergence of generations of great Canadian artists and a body of work in which we can all take pride.

Increasing resources by $25 million will enrich the entire cultural sector, which relies on the arts for content, inspiration and talent. Most important of all, it contributes to enhancing Canadians' understanding of each other and forging a strong national identity.

Spencerville LegionStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Joe Jordan Liberal Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, as Remembrance Day draws near I would like to take this opportunity to bring to the attention of the House an important project. The Spencerville Legion, Branch 604, with Bill Woodhead spearheading the initiative, has taken up the challenge of having the soon to be completed highway 416 named in honour of Canadian veterans.

This initiative, along with the anticipated successful acquisition of the McCrae medals, would clearly indicate that we are not only prepared but proud to hold the torch high.

I feel it will also serve to compliment and support the activities of the Royal Canadian Legion as it deals with the challenge of ensuring that the next generation of Canadians do not break faith.

I encourage all members of the House, especially the members for Ontario, to endorse this cause of the Spencerville Legion.

As Remembrance Day approaches, take this opportunity to write the Ontario minister of transport to strongly support our very own veterans' memorial highway.

CommunicationsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, in March the Minister of Industry compared direct to home satellite retailers to drug pushers.

Mike Heck is a constituent of mine and is in the direct to home satellite business. He provides jobs in the community, pays taxes in the community and he is understandably upset over the comments of the minister.

Mr. Heck does not consider it a crime to offer Canadians freedom of choice. But the Liberals believe that if programming does not come from Canada's monopolies, officially sanctioned by the CRTC, then it will corrupt us.

Three hundred thousand Canadians have said enough is enough and have tuned the Liberal government out. They are watching what they want, paying for they want, enjoying what they want on their direct to home satellite systems. They are standing together in opposition to the Liberal government, telling it to “get its dirty little fingers off our remote controls”.

PornographyStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to draw attention to the white ribbon against pornography campaign.

The purpose of this national campaign is to eliminate the destructive influences of obscene, pornographic and indecent material.

Concern with the destructive nature of pornography is nation wide and the campaign for its elimination has been spearheaded by many groups in our ridings. The main goals of the white ribbon campaign include ensuring that possession of child pornography is a chargeable offence, that no pornography is sold to minors and that all videos are classified before they can be displayed of rented.

From my perspective, pornography is essentially degrading to women and I am at a loss to comprehend how any feminist writer could perceive it otherwise.

As a member of Parliament, I will be receiving this week a box of white ribbons from the Catholic Women's League in Barrie. These ribbons have been worn by residents as a sign of their desire to eliminate pornography.

United Nations DayStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is United Nations Day.

As the UN launches into a major reform, the Bloc Quebecois hopes that the organization will remain true to its primary mission, the promotion of peace and international security, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the promotion of economic, cultural and social development.

Since it was founded on October 24, 1945, the UN has attracted almost 200 member countries, 20 of them since 1989. Whether through its international peacekeeping activities or its actions to promote the respect of human rights, the UN has held fast to the objectives of justice, collective security, human development and equal rights for all.

The Bloc Quebecois thanks all Quebeckers who are working to defend and encourage the principles and objectives of this organization so as to make our world a better place.

PeacekeepingStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Hec Clouthier Liberal Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege for me to pay tribute to Canada's peacekeepers.

They provide an invaluable and a necessary service to communities throughout the world. However, this commitment does not come without personal cost. These men and women leave behind wives, husbands and families in discharging their duties.

It is with this in mind that Randy Chester and group of committed volunteers have started the Home Fires Burning project. It was a personal experience for me to be at the ground breaking ceremony for the first Home Fires Burning project in all Canada at CFB Petawawa in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

The project's objective is to provide visible recognition for those who provide a supportive role in our military community. All they ask in return is a safe journey home of their loved ones.

I believe it is fitting and proper that we pay honour to not only the peacekeepers but to their families.

The ConstitutionStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Deepak Obhrai Reform Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, this weekend we celebrate the anniversaries of two milestones for democracy in Canada.

Five years ago this Sunday, on October 26, 1992, millions of Canadians had a rare taste of grassroots democracy when they cast their votes in a national referendum on constitutional change. Ordinary Canadians resoundingly rejected the special status, distinct society laden Charlottetown accord. By doing so, they also rejected the top down process by which that accord was drafted. Canadians set an important precedent that day. Never again will they allow political elites to dictate our constitutional future.

Four years ago tomorrow, millions of Canadians defied conventional wisdom and set another democratic landmark. They voted Reform by the millions. On that day 51 new Reform MPs joined the Reform member who is now the member for Edmonton North.

These are two great dates, two dates that mark the coming of age for democracy in this country. Reformers everywhere should be proud.

VolunteersStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


John Maloney Liberal Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, I urge the government to recognize the value of volunteers by including a volunteer tax credit in the forthcoming federal budget.

The purpose of this proposal is to offer a tangible thank you in the form of a tax credit for those unsung heroes who volunteer their time and services for community and non-profit organizations.

The government allows tax deductions for charitable donations, real estate and securities. Does a volunteer hour not have a similar quantifiable value?

The economic realities of funding cuts increase the demand for and importance of these Canadian champions. As the non-profit sector does more with less, volunteers fill the gaps.

Members of Parliament constantly extol the value of volunteers and volunteerism. For the greater good it is time to put money where our mouth is.

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, for two years the Canadian government has been engaged in secret negotiations on the multilateral agreement on investment, an agreement which goes well beyond the provisions of NAFTA in ceding power to multinationals and threatens to diminish even further the rights of nations to direct their own economies, provide safe and decent working conditions and protect the environment for future generations.

This Liberal government promised not to sign NAFTA unless it could get adequate protection for labour and environmental standards in 1993 and then it signed on to an inadequate and toothless side agreement designed to convince Canadians that they were standing up for Canadian interests.

This government should not proceed in any further trade negotiations without first constructing an international legal framework to protect human rights, the rights of labour and the rights of communities to regulate in the interest of sustainable development.

Canadian War MuseumStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the many Canadians, including those from my riding of Nepean—Carleton, who generously donated to a special fund established toward the purchase of the military service medals of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, author of In Flanders Fields .

Many Canadians are pleased that the federal government will be financially supportive of the efforts being co-ordinated by the McCrae House Museum in Guelph and the war museum to hopefully purchase these medals.

As we approach Remembrance Day it is very important for us to keep in mind that a nation has a duty to honour those who have died in defence of freedom. The Canadian War Museum has a special role to play in promoting our collective remembrance of the sacrifices of previous generations. In future we must ensure that they have the resources to do a job that should be important to all Canadians.

TaxationStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jim Jones Progressive Conservative Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, a huge injustice is being committed as we sit here today. The Liberal government is killing off the early stage software development industry by axing tax incentives. The government crushed industrial creativity when it abruptly decided on August 6 this year to remove investment incentives to high risk “angel” investors of small to mid-size development companies. The Minister of Finance is going through with this removal of important forms of finance for early stage software developers without any consultation with the industry: no orange light, no warning, no review, even after he has been asked for a review and even offered co-operative help from the industry.

The killing off of a valuable fast paced growing industry is absolutely despicable and unacceptable. On October 31 an entire part of the technology industry will die. If the government is going to brag about helping the innovative technology industry, then it should either treat the industry as partners or stop using the partnership rhetoric.

PovertyStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the House that last Friday was International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

In the riding of Québec, poverty has a face and a name. I pay tribute to the work of our social and community workers. Distributing glasses of milk, providing assistance to single parent families, visiting the elderly, listening to the young without judging them, helping the unemployed look for work, providing housing assistance, and encouraging those on welfare to stand up for themselves are just some of the things they do that make life a little easier. We must continue to support those who make a contribution to the community and to follow their example.

That is why we are demanding that the federal government reimburse the provinces, who are facing an annual shortfall of $4.5 billion in transfer payments for social assistance, education and health, instead of using the savings made on the backs of the poor to promote the maple leaf.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.


Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Justice told the House the Liberals would not bring in a carbon tax, but she specifically failed to rule out other taxes on the energy industry, taxes that would devastate Canada's resource industries and the thousands of families that relied on it for their livelihood.

As the minister for Alberta, it is up to her to clear the air, which she can do right now by telling the House the following words: “Never again will the Liberal government cripple our economy with a massive energy tax grab”. Will the Minister of Justice tell us that today?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario


Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I want to read something into the record: “Actually for several years people have been talking about climate change, global warming and greenhouse gases. We think it is better to be safe than sorry. The world should act now and control carbon dioxide emissions”.

Who said that? The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

If even the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers wants Canada to recognize the problem and be part of the solution, why is the Reform Party the only group in this country that is not willing to act in the interests of all Canadians?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.


Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are looking for assurances that they are not going to be stuck with a multi-billion dollar tax grab and all we get are evasions from this government.

The Kyoto deal could double home heating costs and raise gasoline costs to almost a litre. I want the minister to commit right now to no more taxes on energy, not a cent more on gas, not a cent more on the wellhead, not a cent more on heating fuel.

Will he or she give us their word today?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario


Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand the Reform Party program on the environment.

It says: “The Reform Party supports ensuring that all Canadians dwell in a clean and healthy environment. The Reform Party believes environmental considerations must carry equal weight with economic, social and technical considerations in the development of a project”.

Why has the Reform Party abandoned its own program? Why has it abandoned its principles? Why has it ceased to care about the best interests of all Canadians as part of a world community? What has gone wrong with the Reform Party? More Reform rubbish today. Why can't it get back to its principles?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.


Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the question is why has the government not ruled out a tax grab. That is the question. The average family already pays more in taxes than it does on food, shelter and clothing combined.

This government has taken $8 billion more out of their pockets. Canadian families are working harder but coming home with less because of the tax burden.

Why has the Liberal government committed to support the Kyoto tax attack which could suck thousands of dollars out of the pockets of every Canadian family?