Madam Speaker, I have discussed with the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean, and I find it unfortunate that we are not always talking about this motion as he has moved it. People are using the conference this week in Seattle as a pretext to talk about the pros and cons of globalization.
The important thing is not whether we are for or against globalization, but that we look at the impact of globalization. That is the whole point in the motion of the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean.
Globalization is a very important phenomenon, and it is having major impacts on the lives of all Canadians and on all businesses in Canada.
The importance of that phenomenon cannot be overstated. The positive impact, and certainly the negative impact also, is in the tens of billions of dollars. Can we have a standing committee to assess this impact on an ongoing basis?
The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade suggested greater openness as well as public consultations. So, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean went around with his form to get members to sign. He collected 100 signatures, including some from the other side. Liberal members are signing, saying “No problem. We want to encourage young people who have good ideas”. But when the time comes to seek unanimous consent, we will see what their signatures are worth. They are not worth a cent, not even a Canadian cent. And it is worth even less than an American cent.
They are saying “We want to support the young member who left with his chair last year. It is important”. But among those who signed the request from the member for Lac-Saint-Jean, not one will rise. These Liberals are not even making good their own signature. It does not look good for Seattle.
What we are saying is that people should be involved. We are in favour of globalization. Everybody is in favour of opening up Canada, but there are ways to go about it. Free trade with the United States was, for the most part, a good thing. But it had negative as well as positive effects. Do we know what they were? Are able to find solutions?
Changes were made to employment insurance. We said “Let us create a transitional job creation fund because to counteract of the negative effects of the EI reform”. Could the same be done for globalization? We are in favour of that.
The NDP member spoke about water exports. Maybe we should ask ourselves questions. Wars are waged on this planet for control over drinking water. In the negotiations, could our political sovereignty here in Canada be maintained?
We are in favour of opening up Canada to the world. We cannot live in complete isolation. It is impossible. When we are asking for openness and consultation with what is commonly referred to as civil society, we have examples.
Canada has just signed a trade agreement with China. Not with any little place in the world, but with China. Nobody in the House knows what was negotiated. We have just signed an agreement with China, the most densely populated country in the world. China needs the support of a certain number of countries to be able to join the WTO. This issue has never been debated in this House.
I asked the Minister for International Trade “Why do you not take this opportunity to talk about the environment and human rights?” He answered “No, no, no, this is a trade issue”. If trade can help to promote human rights, that would be acceptable.
There are examples like these that we find very disturbing, even though we are open to the world. No other party is more open to the world than our own. Quebecers are also very open minded. Quebec is one of the provinces most open to the world. Canada is one of the countries that is most open to the world. But we must not be dense and compromise on all kinds of issues. We have to know what is going on.
If a lot of Canadians take part in demonstrations in Seattle, it means something. It means that there is no way to show the other side of the coin in the Parliament of Canada. There is no permanent process to do so. Could it be done?
At stake are hundreds of billions of dollars in economic spinoffs everywhere. Could we have a committee? That would not cost too much, I am sure. Could we have one?
There are things that can be negotiated or settled in Seattle. Let me give an example. One of the first countries to join the WTO or GATT was Cuba. Is there free trade between Cuba and the United States? Of course not. Canadian corporations are penalized if they do business with Cuba. Some positive measures could be taken for Canada, Cuba and the United States. We could use that forum to this end.
Right now, agriculture is on the table and it is, of course, a very important issue. We have to settle this problem. At the same time, while we are open to negotiations, we should also share the information with the people we represent.
I am not talking about strategy here. On both sides of the House, there are very capable people who can deal with strategy, and that is a good thing. Perfect. But right now, we have no idea where we are headed.
Did the House get a single official report on the preliminary negotiations in Geneva? People have been arguing for three months now and have been unable to reach an agreement on the agenda for their meeting in Seattle this week.
Three months of work. How many times were we, as parliamentarians, briefed? How many times? Not once. So, members should not be surprised if some people are rather angry. And that is why they are say that they will go to Seattle and voice their disapproval of some points of view and especially of the negotiation process.
They are right, because last Friday, to give the example I mentioned earlier, the minister signed an agreement with China. Absolutely nobody here knew that an agreement was in the works. Just imagine what we will end up with in Seattle. It is not with one briefing in the morning, in Seattle, and another in the evening that we will be well informed. Certainly not.
But what will happen after Seattle? Could we put strike this committee? That would show people we represent that we take globalization very seriously. I submit that it would be easy to strike a standing committee and that it would not cost much.
What the hon. member from Lac-Saint-Jean is asking for is unanimous consent to make the motion votable. That is all. So, may our Liberals buddies on the other side sign on and honour their commitment for once, and we on this side of the House do the same, so that there will be a vote. This is what the member for Lac-Saint-Jean is asking. After that, we will see where people stand on it.
But, what message is the government sending the people of Quebec, of Ontario, and of Canada if it refuses to consider the matter through a vote or even rejects the creation of a standing committee on globalization and its effects?
It is not because they are afraid, but what message are they sending people? Either that globalization is perfect and its effects are purely positive or that the government is so afraid of having its cage rattled by the people in this country it is supposed to represent that the Liberals are saying “No, we do not want to touch that”.
It is time to act, because Canada is becoming increasingly globalized internationally. It is also time to change the committees of this House and strike a standing committee that will examine this issue routinely.
So I invite everyone to give their unanimous support to Motion M-41 by the member for Lac-Saint-Jean.