Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the New Democratic Party to say how disappointed we are with the government again selling off or giving away and basically denouncing something that we were a big part of back in 1972-74 when there was a minority government.
Some people say that probably the best government of that time was when we were assisting the Liberals and pushing them into the Petro-Canada act itself. Because of the energy crisis facing our consumers, our industries, our businesses and the economy at that time, we felt that it was necessary for Canada to try to look internally, at its own concerns, when it came to energy pricing and energy supply. Unfortunately now the government has turned its back on yet another Canadian corporation, one that all of us in Canada were very proud of and in many ways are still very proud of.
It is very interesting to hear the reform members talk about how much it costs. They use inflated figures and say, “This applied to the debt—”. To say that because we had Petro-Canada the finances of the country are in terrible, dire straits is simple nonsense.
The fact is, they never mention the profits that Petro-Canada made over those years or the number of jobs it created in Canada. They never mention the taxes that were paid by the employees of Petro-Canada, which assisted in social programs and other programs in Canada.
They never mention the positive aspects of what Petro-Canada did for this country. They never do. They are in such a rush with their American friends to sell off anything that has the Canadian flag on it, almost. In fact I will rue the day when I come into this House of Commons and see the stars and stripes standing right next to you, Mr. Speaker. The way we are going, we are rushing off at a very dizzying rate and selling more of our assets in Canada to American and foreign control.
My wife is from Montreal. Really, she sometimes can understand and feel what the Bloc Quebecois is saying in the House of Commons and in the province of Quebec when they talk about their culture, their unity and being Quebecois. Many times I sit back and say that sometimes they might be right in defending against the interests of the Americans, but separatism will not work. Their link to the American currency, which they would love, kind of blows that little touchy-feely warm feeling I have for them.
It is a long string of deregulation, of getting rid of what we pride ourselves on in Canada. When this country was young, when it became a country with the CBC radio and television, we spoke to each other from coast to coast to coast through the CBC. What has happened over the years? The government has again taken away funding from CBC. It has made it a shell of itself, to the point where I think 5% of westerners actually watch CBC. In fact, the CBC's greatest strength now is in Atlantic Canada and even that is diminishing, to the point where eventually we will have the argument of whether money should go into the CBC or into health care. Then people will say that health care is diminishing because we have the CBC, so get rid of it.
I suspect it will not be too long before we one day sit in the House of Commons and the government across the way gets rid of the CBC, something that we cherish and value. The string just goes on and on.
We had Air Canada, a proud airline at one time. The government got rid of it. It became privatized in the dog-eat-dog competitive world out there. They linked with Canadian, a company I worked with for 18 years, and what happened? There are major complaints about the service. While competing against one another these two airlines were doing a great job, but what has the government had to do now? It has had to get an NHL referee to separate all the concerns that were going on with regard to the complaints in the industry.
It goes on and on. We sold MacMillan Bloedel. We are getting rid of Petro-Canada. Pretty soon we will be getting rid of the CBC. Eventually we will be selling out everything. This is what shocks me. This shows how the Liberals are really no different from the Canadian Alliance or the Progressive Conservatives in their thinking. They both support more privatization of our crown corporations, of what makes us Canadian. It is true. They support it. Petro-Canada will eventually be controlled, if it is not already in the majority sense, by foreign ownership. We will no longer have the ability or the access to control our own petroleum industry, for example.
A classic example of this is that we are a net exporter of petroleum products in this country. That is a fact. Yet we do not have a national energy pricing commission or an energy review commission to protect consumers, the industry and the economy from inflated prices for gas or natural gas. We cannot do anything about it because we do not have those controls.
We continually allow government intervention or governmental ability to protect, such as seniors, for example. Seniors in my riding this year are going to have a very difficult time heating their homes. They are on fixed incomes. They are already making the choice between bread and their prescriptions. What are they going to do this winter if we have a very cold winter in Atlantic Canada? What is going to happen to these people? The government is going to do absolutely nothing.
The government may talk about a little GST credit and everything else, but it does not go after the root of the problem, which is, first, the taxation on the fuel prices and, second, the fact that these foreign companies can raise their oil prices without any regulatory aspects to it and can just get away with it constantly. For example, when the price of oil went down the other day were there any concessions or knocking down of prices at the pumps? Absolutely not. But when they go up, all of a sudden, bang, they go up.
A classic example of that is from the member for Labrador who so rightfully complained to his own government. In September and early October most of the fuel for Labrador goes up there by barge. That fuel was bought at a specific price. What happens when the price goes up? The gas starts going up in Labrador if there is no new supply into there. It is a major rip-off to the economy and to the people who live in Labrador. What does the government do? Absolutely nothing. That is the way the pickle squirts.
The government claims it cannot do anything about it. It knows it has a responsibility to care for the people of this country, but is not doing anything because American and foreign ownership of our companies is much more important than the protection and interests of our economy and those people who live within our borders. It is a sin and a real shame.
A publication from Natural Resources Canada says that Canadian control of these two enterprises will not be affected by the amendments. That is simple nonsense. Nobody in their right mind believes that. In most cases, nobody believes what the natural resources minister says anyway. Just because a corporation keeps its head office in Canada does not mean that its management is completely in Canadian hands. Just because a corporation has an office in Calgary does not mean we have Canadian control of it. It is simple nonsense. This is what this bill will do.
From 1972 to 1974, Petro-Canada was pushed by the NDP so our interests from coast to coast to coast would be protected. We were very proud of that initiative. It allowed us to say that we had our own company controlling energy prices, energy flow and everything else. Yet, now we are in the year 2000 and the government is saying get rid of it. Let us get rid of anything that has a Canadian flag or a Canadian symbol on it. Pretty soon we are going to see the stars and stripes up here. I proudly walk into this building everyday because when I look up at the Peace Tower I see our Canadian flag. Yet, every single day we start losing one more piece and one more brick of what is called Canadian.
I was not born in this country. I came to Canada in 1956 because my mother, father and the six children decided to leave Holland for economic opportunities and for the opportunity to live in peace and freedom. That is what Canada has given us. We are very proud to be called Canadians. I am very proud to stand up and say I am a Canadian and I am very proud to raise my children in this country. It is disappointing to see our Canadian identity slowly slipping away to foreign hands and foreign control.
When polices in the government are no longer acceptable for the people of Canada, we have to wait to see what the World Trade Organization says or we cannot do something because we have to see what GATT is going to do. We cannot help our farmers because of certain international regulations. Yet, France and the Americans do not hesitate for a second to help their farmers. We sit and talk but do absolutely nothing about it. This is a real sin.
As I have said before, the particular bill we have before us looks like a piece of legislation that came out of the south end of a north bound cow. I urge the government to reconsider this legislation.