House of Commons Hansard #60 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was banks.


European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should instigate a study of non-tariff trade barriers to the European Common Market, specifically the ban by the European Common Market of Canadian forest products that have bark or needles attached.

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I am afraid that you have 15 minutes to start with. You are the proposer of the motion so you cannot share your time unless you get unanimous consent of the House. Is that your wish?

European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS


European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent of the House to share his time?

European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members


European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

An hon. member


European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, I rise today to bring to the attention of the House a trade irritant that has cost the Canadian softwood lumber industry $700 million per year. This amount does not include the numerous other industries related to softwood lumber as well as the Canadian Christmas tree market. I am referring to the non-tariff trade barrier imposed by the European Union on Canadian softwood lumber.

This trade barrier is disguised as a plant protection measure. I am speaking of the kiln drying that the European Union imposes on all softwood lumber being imported from Canada.

First let me give a summary of the pinewood nematode. The presence of the pinewood nematode in North American prompted the European Plant Protection Organization to assess the risk of transmission from North America to Europe via the lumber and the wood chip pathway of pinewood nematode.

Assessments by the European Plant Protection Organization identified the pinewood nematode as a quarantine test and recommended kiln drying as the only accepted quarantine measure. This was based on the belief that lumber, with only pinewood nematode and no insect vector, posed a risk of transmission by other carriers. The United Kingdom did not support this conclusion and continued to allow imports of green material under a visual grub hole program which eliminated the insect carrier.

Other member states continued to accept lumber with only freedom of bark and still allowed the presence of grub holes. With trade harmonization of the European community, all member states began to focus on the plant health risks of the pinewood nematode.

The first regulation enforcing kiln drying as the only acceptable plant health measure was imposed in 1989. Canada did not support the kiln drying as a plant health measure since kiln drying is a commercial mark and is based solely upon moisture content. Canada maintained that moisture content was not the element which eradicated the parasite but that heat was the important element. A Canada-European Union joint research program was started in 1990. Canada invested $800,000 to determine that 56° centigrade for 30 minutes was the temperature that pinewood nematode dies.

In 1993 the European Union required all coniferous lumber except cedar to be heat treated to 56° centigrade for 30 minutes. Cedar was exempted based on survey information of non-incidence of pinewood nematode in cedar trees. This information was supplied to the European Union by the Plant Health Committee of Canada.

In April 1993 the European Union extended the regulation for visual inspection to eliminate grub holes by four months. However this was revoked in June when live larvae were found in the United Kingdom in green Canadian imports certified to be free of grub holes.

The loss of the program for visual inspection of grub holes resulted in a $400 million loss in trade since all green coniferous lumber destined for the European Union, except for cedar, had to be heat treated. To this day Canada continues to maintain that heat treatment is unduly trade restrictive based on the actual risk. Canada and the U.S. have disagreed with the European Union on a number of scientific arguments related to the risks of pinewood nematode in the forest of Europe.

In September 1993 the governments of the European Union, Canada and the U.S.A. convened an international panel of experts from China, Japan, Europe and North America. The discrepancies between the conclusions of these experts and the earlier 1998 meeting were the result of extensive scientific research conducted between 1988 and 1993.

The first discrepancy was that the European Plant Protection Organization assumed the moderate risk of pine wilt disease north of the 20°C mean summer isotherm and concluded that pine wilt could possibly occur in northern Europe if certain conditions prevailed. The ultimate conclusion was that northern Europe was not at risk from pine wilt disease and the economic impact of pinewood nematode was restricted to southern Europe.

The second discrepancy was that the European Plant Protection Organization's 1988 assessment indicated that there had been interceptions of pinewood nematode into the European Union. In fact pine wood nematode was intercepted on one shipment out of 630 surveyed.

The survey was designed to survey the worse case scenario. Therefore the survey results had no statistical validity. In order to determine a statistically valid incidence level Canada surveyed its export lumber between July and December 1993. In those six months no pinewood nematode was found in 1,157 random samples. This translate into a 99.7% reliability level. Canadian lumber is free of pinewood nematode. The conclusion was that pinewood nematode is rarely, if ever, found in Canadian lumber exports.

The third discrepancy was that the European Plant Protection Organization's 1988 assessments concluded that nematodes were capable of active, independent movement and could leave the wood which they inhabit to move to adjoining or nearby wood.

The European Union, Canada, U.S.A. and international experts met and concluded that the research demonstrating this was inconclusive. In the experts' view there was no supportive evidence of natural transmission without the carrier except through root grafting.

The European Union technical team therefore concluded that the risk of transmission of the nematode without the carrier was negligible, meaning not worth considering. The conclusion was that the pinewood nematode could not move independently and that the insect carrier must be present for transmission to occur. Therefore eliminating the carrier will eliminate the risk of transmission.

Since 1989 Canada has lost billions of dollars in exports and has invested millions of dollars in research to demonstrate that the presence of pinewood nematode poses a negligible risk to the European Union and any associated risk can be managed effectively through appropriate mitigating measures.

Heat treating meant that Canada lost 71% of its market share for solid wood products in the first year and the market was closed permanently to other products such as Christmas trees.

From 1993 to 1997 Canada lost 92% of its historic market share to Europe for solid wood products alone. This amounts to an excess of $700 million in trade. Millions of additional dollars of lost trade are incurred through eliminating the potential exports of other valued forest products.

This brings us to 1997. In September 1997 the Canadian forest products industry, working in co-operation with provincial governments interested in resolving this trade barrier which is disguised as a plant protection measure, agreed that the Department of International Trade should exercise its World Trade Organization options and explore a solution to dispute settlement.

This is one instance where industry and provincial governments are in full agreement that enough is enough. There have been enough studies, enough time, and enough market shares have been lost to warrant action by the federal government. To date the Minister of International Trade has not indicated his acceptance of these recommendations. Canada has not yet requested formal consultations with the European Union on this important trade irritant.

I urge the Canadian government not to give up on this critical issue. The demand for Canadian lumber is being replaced by exports from northern Europe, the Soviet Union and former satellite countries of the Soviet Union.

There are some who would argue that the American dollar has had a great effect on this situation. It has certainly allowed the American market to replace our traditional European market. This has been further assisted by the results of the American embargo on softwood lumber, which did not apply to Atlantic Canadian lumber exports.

Let us not allow ourselves to be co-opted into thinking the Canadian dollar will stay at 69 cents. No one in business and certainly no country can afford to lose market share.

There is still a demand for softwood lumber in Europe. Heat treating rather than kiln drying should be the least that we accept from the European Plant Protection Organization. Plus it has never been proven that Christmas trees are carriers for pinewood nematode transfer and should not be part of the embargo.

If our lumber, wood chips, round wood, pulp and Christmas trees could possibly introduce pinewood nematode to Europe, obviously after 500 years of trade to Europe it is there now. If this is the case it would be a cross-border pest and not applicable to a European plant protection embargo.

It is time that the Government of Canada stood up for the loss of a $700 million industry and called the European Union to task. At best, this should be a minor trade irritant. Instead it is a blatant example of protectionism in a non-tariff trade barrier.

In conclusion, I urge the Parliament of Canada to study this very important issue which has a significant impact on the Canadian economy.

European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte
Newfoundland & Labrador


Gerry Byrne Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for raising the important issue of non-tariff trade barriers which prevent the export of Canadian forest products with bark and needles to the European community.

I recognize that the member for South Shore has particular interest in Christmas trees as he, I understand, is a grower. The issues involved are much broader and affect the forest products industry as a whole. As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources I take the motion quite seriously.

The Canadian government has been working with Christmas tree growers, indeed the entire forest products industry, to preserve existing markets and to develop new market export opportunities.

This sector is of vital importance to the Canadian economy. Ten per cent of the world's forests are Canadian and there are well over 300 forest dependent communities across Canada. All in all 840,000 people rely directly or indirectly on the forest for their livelihood.

In addition, Canada ranks first in the world in terms of forest products exports. Products ranging from world class light weight coated paper to engineered panels for home construction are a vital component of Canadian exports. Forest products producers, especially those with expanding production, face the constant challenge of finding and securing new markets. The Government of Canada wants to help them rise to this challenge.

Christmas tree growers in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec already supply millions of Christmas trees every year to world markets. These Christmas trees are already being exported to the United States, Central America, Greenland and even the Caribbean. Increasingly Christmas tree farmers have been looking even further abroad to find new markets for their natural products.

The federal government supports these efforts just as it backs other Canadian industries taking advantage of globalization. The establishment of the World Trade Organization and the expansion of free trade in both North and South America have delivered on promises of open markets. This new dynamic is helping Canadian businesses grow and prosper in every part of our country.

Even so, barriers to trade remain. It takes constant vigilance and ceaseless work to prevent creeping protectionism from reducing access to markets opened by freer trade. As tariffs have fallen, countries have turned to non-tariff barriers such as health and environmental regulations to restrict or even ban imported products which are challenges to domestic industries in Canada.

The Prime Minister and the government have worked hard to open up markets and remove trade barriers for Canadian exporters. That was in evidence during the many team Canada missions he successfully supported around the world. That is also the case on the other side of the Atlantic in Europe.

Over the last 10 years the Government of Canada has contested the way the European community uses health and environmental or phytosanitary regulations to prevent certain imports. No one questions the right of governments to protect the health, environment and safety of their populations, but in many cases these regulations are unnecessarily restrictive. One example is the restriction imposed on the Canadian softwood lumber shipped to Europe.

The majority of countries also require that imported wood products be free of bark. This kind of non-tariff trade barrier is increasingly coming into play while international agreements are being implemented to expand trade and promote economy growth.

Canada recognizes that countries have the right to prevent the movement of foreign pests, but the Government of Canada also takes the position that trade restrictions have to be reasonable and in line with the real risks to health or the environment. In addition those risks have to be calculated on the basis of sound scientific research and not unfounded fears.

This is why the departments of foreign affairs and international trade, agriculture and agri-food and natural resources Canada have led the way in providing hard data on these types of issues.

I am pleased to inform the member for South Shore that the study proposed in his motion is being undertaken. Canada has already launched a joint study with the European commission to reduce trade barriers and to facilitate trade. This study is one of the provisions of the joint Canada-European Union action plan signed by the Prime Minister in December 1996.

Under this process Canada has identified European regulations which restrict the entry of Canadian products, which act as trade barriers and which must be addressed.

I assure the House that the Canadian government has been making strong representations to the European commission in an effort to resolve these issues. At the same time Canada is keeping all its options open including provisions of the World Trade Organization.

While the Canadian government is working diligently to open up world markets including Europe, it also has to be recognized that this is a two way street. Canada has its own regulations which protect Canadian forests, farms, lakes and people from imports which could lead to disease and animal and plant pests gaining a foothold in Canada.

Canada is confident however that its phytosanitary regulations are based on sound science and are aimed only at significant risks. This means that Canada cannot dismiss the European concerns about importing green Canadian softwood products. This is why the Canadian government is committed to working with the Canadian forest products industry to convince Europeans that there is no significant risk.

The Canadian forest service of Natural Resources Canada has already generated a wealth of knowledge about forest pests and effective measures to control them. The research conducted by the Canadian forest service is cutting edge and will continue to serve Canadians well.

The work is demanding and time consuming. There are no quick and easy answers to these types of issues. Opening up the European market for Canadian forest products is a challenge but one that will be met, with the potential to bring great benefits to Canadians. The Canadian government is prepared to invest the time and the energy to pursue this very worthy goal.

European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my friend from South Shore for bringing the motion forward. I admit that I do not know a lot about the pinewood nematode, the beetle in the wood which is causing the ban of the export of Canadian forest products to Europe. However I would like to bring this debate to the larger picture.

I am from British Columbia. The issue of trade barriers to softwood lumber is very big as it threatens the forest industry in British Columbia. In light of that I support anything we can do to remove all trade barriers.

I thank my hon. friend opposite for his comments. He advised us that a study is under way.

I do not know if the forest industry in British Columbia right now is in a crisis situation but it is definitely moving in that direction. We constantly read in the newspapers and see on the evening news items about sawmills and forest product companies that are going under. A lot of it is due to the difficulties and challenges they face today, some of the difficulties and challenges being trade barriers and access to foreign markets.

In the last few years the forest industry in British Columbia has faced trade barriers with the United States which have had a devastating impact on the industry as a whole. The industry has had to fight to overcome those barriers. I believe the House is aware of those trade barriers.

We are moving toward globalized trade. Trade barriers are coming down. If we are to succeed as a nation with all of our forest products we will have to fight to ensure that trade barriers are eliminated and that Canada's interests are first and foremost.

Having said that, when the government considers this study I ask it to look at all potential markets. We must do everything we can do to eliminate trade barriers to ensure that our producers have access to as many markets as possible and that there are no unfair practices and scientific data that are unchallenged which we believe are incorrect and will pose threats to our forest industry.

The hon. member for South Shore quite correctly pointed out that our 69 cent dollar to the U.S. is an incentive for Americans to purchase our softwood lumber products. However it may not be that way all the time. I understand that if our currency increases by one cent it represents hundreds of millions of dollars to the Canadian forest industry alone. I believe that 85% of British Columbia's market is exported to the United States.

My colleague from Vancouver Island North, who is a professional forester, will probably be able to speak better than me on the technical aspects. However, bringing this back to the larger picture, the motion is very specific to one insect or bug that is within our softwood lumber and is causing the European ban. I am not sure of the answer.

Also I would like to ask the government when it does its study, whether with respect to the pinewood nematode this is targeted at the Christmas tree industry or where it is specifically generated. It sounds like the trade barriers are having far reaching repercussions to all of our softwood lumber. British Columbia produces a majority of softwood lumber. Does this ban also apply there? What can we do to ensure that our forestry companies have access to these markets?

I support the member for South Shore in his initiative to have a study brought forward on this. I ask to have the larger picture looked at to ensure that our forest companies have access to as many markets as possible.

European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I am sure you will not mind if, before reading and speaking to the motion introduced by my colleague for South Shore, I take a few minutes on this lovely Monday morning, on this historic and special day, to greet the people from my riding who have come to pay us a visit here in Ottawa, as well as the many delegations from all over Quebec who have come here to make known to Canadians and to Quebeckers our great regret and dissatisfaction with the reference that began before the Supreme Court this morning.

I thank the people from the riding of Repentigny for being here this morning. I would also like to express my appreciation for the support shown by mayors and municipal politicians who, upon receiving a letter pointing out the importance of respecting democracy in Quebec, told us of their interest in following this debate and their satisfaction with the Bloc Quebecois' particular contribution to it.

In May and June of 1997, our slogan was “The Bloc is there for you”, but today, tomorrow and throughout the week, we are going to show that the Bloc will be there to defend Quebeckers' interests.

Now, I am going to speak more specifically to the motion from the member for South Shore. Please bear with me while I read it in its entirety, because, as I am sure you will agree, it is rather complex: “That, in the opinion of this House, the government should instigate a study of non-tariff trade barriers to the European Common Market, specifically the ban by the European Common Market of Canadian forest products that have bark or needles attached.”

That is quite specific, but as my colleagues have already said, it is important nevertheless because, in a number of areas of international trade in which Quebec and Canada are playing an increasingly large role, as soon as we step out of line the least little bit, we are put into our place with references to the court of international trade or some other court for trade disputes.

For this reason, we must pay particular attention to all these referrals to trade tribunals.

We were pleased—as was the hon. colleague for South Shore, I am sure—to learn that the Liberal government was already examining the possibility of reference to the court. It is worth pointing out, although I believe the parliamentary secretary did so inadvertently, that the figures he quoted were perhaps a bit exaggerated. What is being referred to here is not lumber in general but rather, mainly, the specific trade in Canadian forest products with bark or needles still attached.

This is, therefore, a market of some $11 million. That $11 million figure is significant, definitely, but far from the $700 million figure we were given earlier.

In the Canadian lumber industry, that is a small market. It is a market that is not expanding, but rather holding its own, for the businesses involved in this sector are small or very small.

As the previous speakers have pointed out, what is involved is mainly Christmas tree exports. In Quebec, we are so much into celebrating Christmas that we keep our trees for ourselves. To all intents and purposes, we are pretty well absent from this market, although we do export a few trees.

The problem, or the query, from the European Community concerns grub larvae. There are a number of scientific sectors that allow us to look at the real concerns of the Europeans and the European Community in general in the matter.

We are told, for example, that there is scientific proof. We were also told there was scientific proof on asbestos. Our Conservative colleagues from the area will certainly agree with me: these studies can be made to say almost anything.

This is the same European Community that had such an influence on the seal hunt. It is the same one that had something to say about dubbing films in French. It spoke out about lumber exports generally, in environmental terms, and now it is concerned more specifically with forest products that have their bark and needles attached.

As was said earlier, I think we must be open about these trade disputes. Canada must get involved, as the parliamentary secretary has said. It should also raise the awareness—ring a few bells, as we say—of those negotiating the multilateral investment agreement so we do not increasingly find ourselves in this sort of bind being pulled hither and thither by the various stakeholders in this era of globalization.

The subcommittee on international trade tabled a report with the Minister for International Trade focussing on the clarification of rules in trade disputes in the context of the MIA. We have had no response to this report from the subcommittee. We hope to have a response soon, and especially a positive response on the legitimate questions raised by my Liberal colleagues, because the report was not tabled by the Bloc alone, but supported by the Bloc following the Liberals' recommendations. They agreed to recognize the importance of clear handling of trade disputes and of acknowledging a general cultural exception.

This motion by the member for South Shore reminds us of the importance of all these events surrounding disputes and of clear international trade and well established rules. With a rare point of consensus—although I have not heard the NDP on the subject—all of the parties in the House apparently agree to support this motion.

European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Madam Speaker, I rise in this House today in support of Motion M-181 put forward by my hon. colleague from South Shore.

Motion M-181 suggests that the government should instigate a study of non-tariff trade barriers to the European Common Market, specifically the ban by the ECM of Canadian forest products that have bark or needles attached.

The Canadian forest industry is one of the most dynamic industries in the country. It generates $58.7 billion in revenues every year. In addition, Canada is the largest exporter of forest products in the world, with $38.3 billion in exports in 1996. This industry is also important in that it contributes both directly and indirectly to the creation of 842,000 jobs across the country. It is from this job creation perspective that I will argue the importance of the study suggested by my hon. colleague from South Shore.

The non-tariff trade barriers imposed by the European Union on Canadian lumber have dubious origins. Having to kiln-dry Canadian pine wood, as required, to kill potential bugs costs the Canadian industry $780 million.

Steam treatment of wood is an expensive process affecting Canada's competitiveness with respect to forest products. I consider that imposing such criteria is necessary when there is a high probability that some bugs will be transmitted from one country to another. However, there does not seem to be a high probability of transmission in this particular case.

The hon. member for South Shore emphasized the absence of an international consensus about how the said bug is transmitted.

Moreover, a Canadian study shows that 1,157 shipments of Canadian forest products were totally free of pinewood nematoda. This means there is only a 0.3% probability of finding this parasite in Canadian shipments.

Given that international experts are unable to reach a consensus, and given the low probability of finding pinewood nematoda in Canadian shipments, the Canadian government must review the issue. One of the objectives of the Canadian Forestry Service is the promotion of international trade and investment. Protecting Canadian interests is an integral part of this mandate.

The study proposed in the motion would allow us to reassess the scientific findings in this case and eliminate the confusion that seems to prevail within the international community. The study is all the more important since it could lead the European Community to reconsider its criteria on kiln drying for Canadian forest products. This could, in turn, promote job creation in Canada, to meet the renewed demand from the European Union.

We often talk about the monetary costs of non-tariff barriers, but we tend to forget that these barriers also impede job creation. The Canadian labour force in the logging industry is extremely skilled.

In my riding of Acadie—Bathurst, logging is vital to the region's economic prosperity. Unwarranted non-tariff trade barriers affect not only logging companies, but also the workers of these companies, who find themselves out of work when the European market becomes less accessible.

As legislators, we have a responsibility to see that any non-tariff barrier that adversely affects the logging industry is carefully reviewed, to make sure that the resulting loss of jobs is absolutely justified.

Perhaps the study will show that the criteria imposed by the European Community are fully justified. However, given the current lack of consensus on pinewood nematoda, we must protect the interests of Canadians and take a very close look at the issue.

European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Madam Speaker, Canada has launched a joint study with the European Commission to reduce trade barriers and facilitate trade. This study is one of the provisions of the joint Canada-European Union action plan signed by the Prime Minister in December 1996.

By May 1998 we hope to have first, a list of barriers identified in terms of their economic significance for Canada and the European Union; second, options for reducing or eliminating these barriers, including trilateral agreements with the United States and multilateral agreements; and third, an identification of the best means of addressing the most significant barriers.

Canada has identified the European Union's phytosanitary regulations affecting Canadian lumber exports as a barrier for the purposes of this study. Canada has been making strong representations in an effort to resolve this issue bilaterally and is now considering its options under the World Trade Organization.

As a WTO member which is bound by the agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary measures, Canada recognizes the rights of all members to adopt measures necessary to protect plant health. Canada and other members, like the European Union, regulate the importation of plant material in their territories in order to prevent the introduction and spread of pests or disease that could threaten the health of their forests.

Sanitary and phytosanitary measures by their very nature can result in some restrictions on trade. This is currently the case with respect to Canadian exports of certain plant products to the European Union.

With respect to live trees or forestry products with bark and needles attached, like Christmas trees, the European Union has been concerned for many years with a number of pests that can be found on coniferous trees. Canadian plant health officials have similar concerns with respect to imports from the European Union. In addition, the European Union is regulating the importation of green coniferous lumber from Canada and other countries to prevent the entry of pinewood nematode, a pest which the European Union fears can cause damage to its forests.

The Canadian government, with the co-operation of the Canadian industry, has conducted various surveys and studies to analyse the risk of transmission of pinewood nematode to the forests of Europe. The Canadian government has also worked with the Canadian industry on control measures to mitigate the risk of transmission of pinewood nematode from Canadian shipments of green lumber.

To date, however, European Union plant officials are not prepared to provide access for Canadian green coniferous lumber or other untreated forestry products.

The new WTO agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary measures builds on previous trade rules to restrict the use of unjustified and unnecessary sanitary and phytosanitary measures while maintaining the right of every country to provide the level of protection it deems appropriate.

The government will continue to work with the industry and the provinces to ensure that Canada's rights and obligations under the agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary measures are protected along with the interests of the Canadian forest industry.

European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

If the member for South Shore is to sum up, it will be understood that no other member will be able to rise on this issue.

European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, in summary, I think there are several issues at stake which all members of the House, especially the members on the government side, should be aware of.

The reason I worded the motion to deal with forest products with bark and needles attached, specifically relating to the Christmas tree industry, is that there has never been a proven link between the Christmas tree industry and the introduction of pinewood nematode into Europe.

For members here today who may not be completely cognizant of this issue, pinewood nematode is a parasite that lives in the gut of wood boring insects such as the sawyer beetle. That was the reasoning behind European plant protection measures asking to identify bore holes in the wood. They thought if the vector was not there or the insect was not in the wood that would reduce the incidence of transmission.

I deliberately spoke about the value of the lumber industry and the potential to transmit pinewood nematode to Europe versus the Christmas tree area of this motion.

I want to state this once again. The reason the motion is made on Christmas trees is that Christmas trees should not have the same classification as lumber. I will deal with the lumber issue in a minute. Christmas trees are a separate issue. There has never been a proven link by plant health Canada or by the European plant protection agencies that they can transmit pinewood nematode into the European forest. Therefore we should be opening that door in order to get the rest of our lumber supplies into Europe.

I would like to make a few comments on the government's actions since December 1996. I am in agreement that the government has instigated a study. The lumber suppliers I have talked to have felt that the studies have been bogged down and that there is no heart on behalf of our scientists to push this as a real relative issue into Europe. They feel there is definitely something we should be doing here. As parliamentarians and as people who represent our constituencies and the rest of the nation, it is our job to bring those points forward.

There are a couple of things we need to understand. Plant health Canada spent $800,000 on a study to prove that heat treating eliminated pinewood nematode in our forest products. There is a big difference between heat treating and kiln drying. The European plant protection organization enforces the kiln drying law. Kiln drying is a longer process. It is much more expensive. There is no comparison in the two processes. The only certification we get out of kiln drying is when we put the kiln dried seal on a piece of lumber it certifies that there is less than 20% moisture content in it. There is no certification of heat. There is nothing else there. It is strictly a certification of moisture content.

The least we should accept for the Canadian lumber industry is the certification of heat treating which would be a lot cheaper and would allow our product to go to Europe without that extra cost of kiln drying.

The other point I do not think we can speak enough to, and I realize I have only five minutes, is that we have traded with Europe since the Vikings were here in the 10th century. We have traded with Europe for 500 years of recorded trade. If there is any danger of transference of pinewood nematode into the forests of Europe, surely this House would agree it is there now.

We have never had any significant studies by the European plant health organization that it is not already there. It has not proven to us that it does not already have the problem. If it does, it is not a foreign pest. It is a cross-border pest and the plant health organization regulations would not apply.

Look at our history of trade with Europe. We used to ship millions of board feet of lumber across the ocean in log barges with the bark attached. We have exported Christmas trees to Europe for 75 years. The last market to fall was when Italy joined the common market in the early 1990s. Until that time we sold Christmas trees to Italy.

All of a sudden the door closed. They said no, now that we have signed a piece of paper, we have a trade agreement, we are a member of the European Union, your treaties are no longer acceptable. Nothing changed. They were not a threat the day before, they were not a threat the day after.

In conclusion, I would like once again to ask for the unanimous consent of the House to make this motion votable.

European Common Market
Private Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?