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House of Commons Hansard #65 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mai.

Topics

YouthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I can demonstrate very well that our youth employment strategy and our youth service Canada have been doing wonders for many of the youth who deserve a second chance. Our record is very good as far as that is concerned.

I would like to tell the Tory leader that there are a lot of students out there who find it very difficult to continue their studies precisely because they have a hard time financing their studies. If we can help them, we will do our very best. That is the priority for this government.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

February 23rd, 1998 / 3 p.m.

The Speaker

I would like to bring to members' attention the presence in the gallery of members of a delegation led by Mrs. Leni Fischer, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Also my colleagues, I would like to bring to your attention the presence in our gallery of the Hon. Pat Binns, Premier of the Province of Prince Edward Island.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to ask the member for Medicine Hat to retract a statement which he made regarding “the crazy aunt in the attic”.

As the New Democratic critic for persons with disabilities and as an aunt myself, I find this reference sexist and demeaning to persons with disabilities. I think we should lead the way in this House to fight against offensive stereotypes. I would ask for a retraction from the member for Medicine Hat.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, many times in the course of debate we use words that are not exactly unparliamentary but which border on it. I would urge all hon. members of course always in their choice of words to be very judicious.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan—King—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the third report of the Standing Committee on Finance. Pursuant to its order of reference dated February 4, 1998, your committee has adopted Bill C-28, income tax amendments act, 1997, and has agreed to report it with amendments.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Liberal Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from the residents of Mount Forest, Dundalk and Shelburne, Ontario. The petitioners request that Parliament raise the tax exemption on allowances for volunteer firefighters from $500 to $1,000.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour pursuant to Standing Order 36 to present a petition on behalf of a number of people from British Columbia.

They are very concerned about the government's announcement that it is going to soon introduce changes to Canada's retirement and benefit system. The petitioners are asking the government not to proceed with any changes to Canada's pension system until adequate input from Canadians from all points of Canada has been considered.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition contains signatures mostly from residents of Kamloops but also from residents in a number of communities throughout central British Columbia.

The petitioners are calling on the government in the budget tomorrow that if it is going to consider any tax reductions it begin by phasing out the GST.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by a number of Canadians, including from my own riding of Mississauga South.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that police officers and firefighters are required to place their lives at risk on a daily basis as they discharge their duties. Employment benefits of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty are often insufficient to provide for their families.

Also the public mourns the loss of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty and wish to support in a tangible way the surviving families in their time of need. The petitioners therefore pray and call upon Parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund for the benefit of families of public safety officers who are killed in the line of duty.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the following question will be answered today: No. 52. .[Text]

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Lakeland, AB

Besides the Canadian Wheat Board, which other government regulated bodies have partially elected, partially appointed board of directors and president/CEO appointed by the minister?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North—St. Paul Manitoba

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

The structures of organizations to which GIC appointments are made have been reviewed, and it was found that none met the conditions contained in the question. There are no other government regulated bodies that have partially elected, partially appointed boards of directors and presidents/CEOs appointed by the minister.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

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

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

When the House broke for question period, the hon. member for North Vancouver had seven minutes remaining in his allotted time.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always a little disconcerting when speeches are interrupted in the middle but I will continue on from this point.

I had just finished explaining to members how I would be finding out the political will of the constituents in my riding so that I could vote that way when or if the MAI comes before the House.

I would challenge other members particularly those of the NDP who assume that their constituents are against this thing to really get out there and start sharing information from both sides. Do exactly what I do and find out how the majority feel.

I would like to turn to a few of the questions that have been sent to me in a stack of letters from constituents. I will not be able to go through all the questions but I will give a few.

Is it not true that foreign corporations would be able to ignore our environmental and labour laws, leaving us to be ruled by large corporations? The government's response to that has been that it is not true. It says that all corporations will have to abide by the same environmental and labour laws in Canada as domestic corporations. They ask why we should have two sets of laws anyway as it does not do anyone a favour to have domestic companies working to a lower environmental or labour law than we would have for a foreign company.

I accept that explanation as reasonable. But my question is, why are the Liberals not out there telling the public? Why are they not out making this information available? That is what today's debate is all about.

The second question asked, and it was mentioned earlier here today, why is there a 20 year opting out period? If the deal turns out to be bad for Canada, why should we be stuck in it for 20 years?

The government's response is that it is not true. We are only tied in for five years. The 20 years refers to any companies, perhaps like McCains, that have made a large investment in one of the participating countries only to find that country then opts out again. McCains or any other company for that matter would be protected for the following 15 years.

Members on the government side are nodding their heads so I have got their explanation right. But why are they not out there telling the public? Why do we in Reform have to stand here to facilitate this when it is the government's job to be selling the program, to be answering questions from the Maude Barlows and the Paul Hellyers? Why is the minister not out there debating those people? Instead of that he sits in his chair doing nothing, waiting for this thing to explode around him.

There are adequate statistics available from NAFTA from the last 10 years to show that these types of investment programs really work. I have in front of me the figures for NAFTA for more than 10 years actually, the figures from 1984 to 1997. In that time the volumes of exports to the U.S.A. almost doubled from $85 billion to $157 billion a year, thanks to NAFTA. Meanwhile our exports to other countries, almost all the other countries of the world, have actually gone down. In Europe they have gone up, but to a lot of other countries they have actually gone down.

If we can get a good MAI which facilitates trade in the same way that NAFTA has in North America, we have a really good chance of building our exports and therefore our job creation in Canada. That would not just help McCains and Northern Telecom, it would work for the small companies in my riding that are very busy exporting in small quantities to those other countries.

The MAI or at least the principle behind the MAI, the concept of an MAI promises similar benefits. If it is properly and fairly negotiated it should ensure that any person or company investing in one of the signatory countries will find identical investment rules in place in each country. That is good. Negotiating such an arrangement makes good sense.

It even makes sense if it forces our cultural and health industries in Canada to compete in a real world marketplace and to become excellent instead of mediocre, to strive for excellence in the climate of competition. I think that may be good. I have two pages of letters to the editor of the North Shore News in the last week complaining about the health care system being in disarray. If there was a little bit of competition introduced to the marketplace we might find it would go a long way to solving some of the problems.

It is always possible of course that even under the best possible negotiated MAI some inefficient and subsidized industries are going to go out of business and jobs will be lost. Under NAFTA, jobs disappeared from the costly and inefficient shipbuilding industry in my riding but they were replaced by high tech, cleaner, new industry jobs, many, many more of them. Frankly the unions in the shipbuilding industry let down their members badly by not helping them to retrain and adjust to the new marketplace reality.

This brings me once again to criticize this Liberal government which is not adjusting to the reality of the information age we live in. People want to know what is going on. They want to know what the government is negotiating on the MAI. The Liberals have failed to acknowledge that they need to do that.

The minister has blown it completely. As I mentioned, he should have been out there debating Maude Barlow. He should have been debating Paul Hellyer. He should have been debating the professors, the academics from the socialist universities who are complaining about this MAI. The Speaker laughs but, Mr. Speaker, the universities are loaded with socialists.

As for the question of sovereignty disappearing, I would like to see the minister debating Maude Barlow about the loss of sovereignty. Frankly I do not believe there would be a loss of sovereignty because the Liberal government is so dictatorial, I cannot see the Prime Minister giving up even one iota of his power to anybody else. To suggest that we are going to lose our sovereignty is totally ridiculous.

I am rapidly running out of time and I have only asked a fraction of the questions that are in the big pile of letters from my constituents. I have passed on copies of some of those letters to the parliamentary secretary to be answered.

I know he will do that for me. However, I will finish with a quote from a fax from Dr. Koscielniak who sent it to me. He says in one of his questions: “Why the secrecy? Could it be that the Liberals are ashamed of this treaty?”

Maybe Dr. Koscielniak has hit the nail on the head. This minister and his entire government are actually ashamed of the treaty because they are ashamed to admit that world trade is a reality. It needs to be properly negotiated and fairly implemented.

Those members made the promise to get rid of NAFTA and found out that it works. Now they have the responsibility of the MAI and they are so ashamed at having to back peddle that they do not want to talk about it.

I would just like the minister to get out there and actually start doing something.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I just wonder whether my hon. friend is aware of this document called “Revised Draft Reservations”.

The revised draft reservations are the actual guts of what is being negotiated at the present time. There is common agreement on a lot of the broad draft, but there are 52 pages of revised draft reservations.

Before these reservations are properly negotiated and so on, how is the minister expected to go out and deliver these reservations which are not yet negotiated or agreed on?

The minister has made a very public statement about the concerns. He has abbreviated the concerns I think very succinctly. A week ago last Friday he made a speech to the Centre for Trade Policy and Law in which he laid down some of the key salient points for all Canadians to hear.

This statement is on the Internet. It is available to every citizen of this country. He talks about the interpretation of expropriation where it should be narrow, the Canadian definition. He gives the ironclad reservations for health care, social programs, education, culture, programs for aboriginal people and minority groups, and finally no standstill or rollback requirements in any of these areas of reservation.

With regard to culture, he supports excluding culture from the MAI altogether.

Is the minister not communicating with Canadians by making statements such as this?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the big 52 page draft of reservations that he is talking about, but it is the government's responsibility to make sure it is widely circulated. It has not done it.

Even though the minister cannot talk in absolute specifics, he should be debating Maude Barlow on national television in general terms. Frankly, I cannot think of anything that would be more entertaining than this. It would probably get the largest TV audience of the entire year.

To talk about the amount of information available, if the government is not doing its best to get it out there, people do not get it.

The Internet address was given earlier. It is www.parl.gc.ca. That is the general Internet site. It is not the specific site. Let us get the specific site so that people can actually find the stuff.

This is just an example again of how poorly they communicate with the constituency.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the more we hear from members of the Reform Party in this debate, the clearer their agenda becomes.

They tried to leave the impression this morning that they are concerned about culture and health care and social services and that they will only support the MAI if reservations that work are entrenched in the MAI.

We have now just heard from the member for Medicine Hat a very clear statement that I think is probably a little more revealing of the truth and a little more in line with the motives of Reform behind this motion today.

The member for Medicine Hat just said that we need more competition in health care. This is after all of his colleagues have stood up in the House and claimed to be concerned about wanting a reservation in the MAI to protect health care.

This all begins to fit. We know that the MAI opens the door to foreign investments and will begin to dismantle medicare.

Where does the Reform Party stand? Is it going to stand up against the MAI and protect medicare or is it going to join with the Liberals, the Conservatives and the Bloc in this House, open the doors and kill medicare?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, health care is reserved under NAFTA. The government has indicated that it would also reserve it under the MAI.

Unfortunately enough in January when I was in Florida I got kidney stones—

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, this is very serious. The member should be aware that this issue went before the health committee. A motion was put—

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member is engaging in debate. The hon. member for North Vancouver has the floor. He should be allowed to complete his remarks. He will do so briefly I know because the time has expired.