Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion by the member for Lac-Saint-Jean. His motion deals with the repercussions of globalization on economies of the world and certainly the concept of preserving social cohesiveness in the countries so affected.
The hon. member does not seem to be entirely in favour of globalization in his motion. He uses as his example the motion passed in parliament in 1989 regarding the eradication of child poverty. The Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives have both been in government since that date. I note that child poverty has been raised in the House and is now considered to be a more serious issue than it was even at that time.
The problem solving of those two governments has ended with them blaming others and now blaming globalization for the failure of their domestic policies on child poverty. I would hope that in the future that we will have another debate on child poverty. The Reform way of dealing with major issues like that one and social issues which have a domestic solution to them is to set out clear and concise steps that can be taken, are measurable and will result in a solution.
Many people are throwing around the term globalization. I think there is an unclear concept of what is globalization. Special interest groups, for instance the Council of Canadians, have a very closed concept of what globalization should mean. To them it seems like globalization means that Canada should have rules in the world for other nations to follow, that Canada should be able to protect its national interest and be relatively isolationist if it cannot dictate rules to other people. That way Canada would be able to protect its civil society and its concept of how the world should be run. It is the concept of government knows best, which is a detraction from free trade in the world.
My definition of globalization is simply that it is the interaction of people of different nations in all aspects of the human existence, which would include trade as one of the major components.
Globalization is neither inherently good nor bad. It is simply a fact. Globalization has been with us since the beginning of man in Africa many millions of years ago. Globalization is, as I said, most obvious in the trade of goods and services between nations. The most successful nations of the world have always been those which are successful in trading with their neighbours.
Since the second world war there have been eight rounds of world trade talks. The talks which are beginning in Seattle represent the ninth round. We can only hope that those talks will be successful.
The first half of this century saw two world wars. At that time trade and empires were built on the foundation of force. The second half of this century has seen no world wars. This is no doubt due in large part to the interaction of nations on an economic level through trade as opposed to the isolationist and self-sufficient concept which many nations have.
North Korea is the best example of the danger to the stability of a region, and ultimately to the whole world, due to its socialistic and isolationist policies. It tried very hard to be self-sufficient without trading. We saw the disaster that has had, not only on the country but on its neighbours, as it felt the need to have missiles instead of trade agreements settle disputes.
I would now like to speak specifically about the agricultural component of our trade talks that are starting in Seattle. Supply management is an important part of Canadian agriculture. Prior to the 1993 conclusion of the Uruguay round, supply management was clearly a domestic industry, not participating in the world trading scene through the use of highly restrictive import quotas. The Progressive Conservatives began the process of trading away the status quo of supply management when they negotiated the changes to import tariffs, designed to be reduced ultimately to zero. The Liberals were part of the final negotiations, and on being elected in 1993, signed the agreement. Both parties have tried to put forth the conception that they will defend supply management to the end. The Liberals in particular have stated this concept. I do not know if farmers really believe that the government's promises will be kept. The Reform Party supports supply management and is unequivocal in telling the government that it is not to reduce our tariffs at a rate faster than the U.S. and the EU reduce their protectionist measures of the supply management sector, in particular the dairy sector.
I note that this motion seems to have two components. I think that one part of the motion certainly has some merit in the idea that a committee should be struck to look at the impacts of the fur trade, for example, and the whole globalization issue and the interaction of peoples around the world. I think it would be good for parliament to have such a committee.
However, I am concerned that the real purpose of this motion is to block further gains at the next round of World Trade Organization talks. We can only look at what is happening in Seattle at this very moment. Apparently there are in the neighbourhood of 50,000 protesters at the talks who have the stated goal of disrupting and ending the talks. Certainly the David Suzuki-type environmentalists are there. The Council of Canadians with its socialist activities is going to have it its way or no way. I think the world should simply look at these groups and say “You folks have had your say, but you are not going to have your way and impose your concept of trade on the whole world”. I am sure that is where it will end and that saner heads will prevail.
It has been stated many times in the past that Canada is a trading nation. Statistics tell us that 43% of Canada's gross domestic product is earned from trade exports. In the U.S. the percentage of trade is 12% of its gross domestic product. This means that we in Canada rely to a greater extent on trade than many other nations. As a result, the Seattle talks of the World Trade Organization are of great importance.
I am certainly pleased to see that China has agreed to become part of the world trade talks and that other countries have welcomed it. As I stated earlier, the danger of not having every country involved in these talks is great.
Our farmers are currently in the middle of an income crisis. The primary cause of this crisis is the subsidies of the European Union and the United States which cause the overproduction of many commodities. European wheat farmers, for example, receive 56% of their income from government and in the U.S. it is around 38%.
Reform's position on agriculture in the next round of WTO talks, to put it succinctly, is that we want to allow Canadian farmers and the Canadian food industry to reach their full potential. We will vigorously seek to free entry of Canadian products into foreign markets. That is what we are pressing the government to do. We should accept nothing less than having subsidies in other countries reduced. That will have the effect of lowering production around the world of certain commodities, in particular export grains. With that lower production prices will go up and our farmers will have the level playing field that is so important to our economic well-being.