Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. friend from North Vancouver.
It is a pleasure to speak on the Reform Party opposition day supply motion which concerns the famous multilateral agreement on investment. I also refer to it as the MIA, which is what we are really talking about, missing in action. We are talking about transparency and I want to bring the debate back to this. We are focusing on transparency, on public disclosure and on making sure the government knows what is going on. I will focus on those issues in my remarks.
This government has failed to talk to the Canadian people. Some people on the government side have said that they consulted with the provinces in 35 meetings over two years. Is that not amazing? I will read a recommendation from the committee which had a very short time to debate this issue: “The government should continue to increase its effort to inform Canadians of the merits of the MAI while addressing the concerns brought forward to the committee at public hearings”. The next recommendation is: “The government should pursue a process that fully involves the provinces”.
This is a recommendation made by the committee and signed off by the majority of the committee members, Liberals. Yet those members stand up so proudly saying they have been informing Canadians.
The problem with this issue is that nobody knows what is going on. Why are those members so secretive about it? They have been negotiating this agreement for over two years. Yet during the election campaign last April nobody had heard of it. They are absolutely silent. I suggest they are ashamed of it. Why will they not talk about it?
Then there is the red book. Do we see this in the red book? No, by golly there is not even a word about it. There is not one word after negotiating an agreement with 29 countries. Imagine that. I wonder why. And then there was the throne speech. Did we hear about this wonderful, exciting multilateral agreement on investment? No, not a word, zero.
My friend from Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant went through the committee's recommendations. I emphasize that these recommendations were made by a majority of Liberals and this member was the chair of the committee. These are his words in defending the government's position against our motion: “The government should pursue a process that fully involves the provinces and that will allow sufficient time for the text time available at that time to receive the benefit of further parliamentary examination by this committee prior to the signature of any negotiated agreement”.
That is their recommendation and the only thing he can say is that we have had 35 meetings with the provinces. I point out that The provinces are now bailing.
His next recommendation is that the government should consider undertaking a full impact analysis that will note the reason Canada should take part in the MAI. What the member said about this is shocking and unbelievable. He said it is not practical to have a full impact so early on in negotiations. Imagine saying that it is not practical early on. We have been negotiating this for two years. The government is supposed to sign this in April 1998.
I must remind the government that we are now almost in March 1998. What is he thinking when he says that we cannot have an impact analysis early on? It is absolutely unimaginable. What are they ashamed of and what are they trying to hide?
The next recommendation, and this is the chair of the committee defending these recommendations, is: “In future negotiations regarding matters of as widespread importance”, they acknowledge that as the MAI, “the government should undertake an open and transparent process so that public disclosure and consultations can be carried out in a timely manner”. Imagine that, public disclosure and consultations.
I must look at my notes because I cannot believe what he said about that. He said it is not practical. Can you believe that, coming from this government, that it is not practical to consult with the public? “In a timely manner”, that is what we are talking about.
I have a copy of this wonderful agreement. This is the official copy given to me by the government which it is so proud of it. What is the very first word on it? Confidential. Imagine that. The first word on the top left corner of the agreement is confidential. What is it worth? Why will Liberals not talk to the public about it? They are screaming about this. What are they hiding? I have concerns about it. I can say right now I will not support the MAI because I do not know what members opposite are hiding.
I support free trade agreements. We need free trade agreements. They are good. We need more investment in Canada. Our investors need to be protected. What is the government doing? Why is it so secretive? It is an absolute disgrace. It is shameful.
I do not know what government members are up to, but there is no question they are embarrassed about it and not proud of it. They are so secretive it is incredible.
If the Liberals really care about or really believe in the agreement, why are they not talking about it? They are not proud of it. There is no question they do not believe in it, or they would be telling us about it.
I ask government members to look at what the motion says. It is asking them to be transparent with the people of Canada, to tell them what is in it.
What is the minister's idea of transparency? It is a luncheon at the Chateau Laurier about two blocks away, having a group meeting at lunch and talking to some investors. Those are his consultations with Canada five minutes from parliament. That was his B.C. meeting. It is amazing.
They accuse me of not speaking. I have meetings planned in the greater Victoria area. I have had three or four of them and I have another one next week, a very large one.
Will we see anybody from British Columbia? Will we see their senior member? Will I see Mr. Anderson there? No.