House of Commons Hansard #102 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.


Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

London—Fanshawe Ontario


Pat O'Brien LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's comments. One is almost at a loss to know where to start, there are so many questions I would like to ask. I will follow up on a couple of brief observations if I might.

I take this opportunity to clarify some comments made by the member for Churchill and to ask my colleague from the Bloc for his opinion on labour agreements. Earlier today I quoted the president of the ILO who said that he supported the use of side agreements on labour and the environment. He not only supported them but applauded Canadian creativity in using that approach.

I referenced the EU ministers who at a meeting I attended a year ago on behalf of the Minister for International Trade indicated that they too did not want to litter up trade agreements unnecessarily by including labour and environment rights. This was the point I sought to make earlier. I believe I was misinterpreted by the member for Churchill but that has been clarified by some of my colleagues.

How does the member feel about labour and environment agreements in trade deals?

I am disappointed to hear my colleague talk about the proposed amendment he put forward in committee. He knows very well that when he put the amendment our side supported it. In fact his amendment was agreed to unanimously.

I will give him a chance to clarify. The next day he came to the committee with a substantially different amendment with no consultation on this side of the House. Obviously we could not support a substantially different amendment from my colleague. We try to deal in good faith so I will give the member a chance to clarify.

I point out that there is no Costa Rican investment to speak of in Canada. Canada has some $400 million of investment in Costa Rica. These are protected by FIPA, a foreign investment protection agreement, which has been in existence since 1999.

I do not understand his fears in this regard. They are misplaced. It saddens me to think that the Bloc Quebecois will vote against a bilateral free trade agreement with a developing nation, one that badly needs it. Does he really mean that?

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary and I often attend the same meetings, but I do not think we see them the same.

With respect to the secretary general of the ILO, he said that the debate had taken place within the ILO on issues involving workers' rights within trade agreements and that no consensus had been reached for the moment. We know that it is a tripartite body.

I served as the secretary general of the CSN for eight years. I know, therefore, that within this forum many governments and unions and perhaps some enlightened managers think that an effort must be made to find a way to introduce dimensions pertaining to fundamental rights into trade agreements. They are working on this.

The International Labour Organization and the World Trade Organization must give thought to such things.

The tragic events of September 11 should give us cause to think. We cannot do things the same way any more. Much of the revolt in the world arises from the fact that trade agreements take no other dimension into account although they have an impact on society, the environment and democracies. The debate must therefore continue and the Bloc will support this debate.

Now as concerns what went on in committee regarding the amendment, I moved the same amendment in the subcommittee and in the standing committee. In the subcommittee, the chair declared it out of order. I looked into it in the course of the evening and came back with the argument that it was admissible. Finally it was allowed by the chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and was voted on. I moved the same amendment twice. In the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, it was defeated by the Liberals.

It is also true that, in the subcommittee, and this will be in the report, I agree, out of desperation to a general proposal to ensure tha, in future interests such as those of the sugar refining industry would be considered and that a multilateral perspective would be maintained during negotiations.

Specifically in the case of sugar, the Government of Canada should focus on multilateral negotiations to liberalize the sugar refining market.

I would like as my final point to say that we support free trade, but we must learn from past mistakes. Chapter 11 of NAFTA, and I think the Minister for International Trade agrees with many of our criticisms, cannot be repeated in new agreements we will sign.

In the case of the Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement, I would have expected Canada to reopen the agreement with respect to the protection and promotion of investments in order to take into account the remarks made by the Minister for International Trade himself in this regard, but it has not.

I think it is time we gave a signal to the Liberal government. We will not sign and we will not go along with any free trade agreement that does not meet a certain number of conditions. I have mentioned three in this case. We do not feel that there was sufficient consultation. At no time were parliamentarians asked what they thought. Instead we are being presented with a fait accompli.

Second, the clause on investments contains elements of chapter 11. Third, I cannot in all conscience agree to jeopardize 345 jobs in the Montreal area by unilaterally liberalizing the refined sugar market.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Pat O'Brien Liberal London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, surely the member knows that there is a sugar caucus in parliament chaired by my colleague from Etobicoke. The member knows that there have been representations on concerns about the sugar industry in Montreal and other parts of Canada by government members as well. They have been very forceful about that.

The member knows there was an agreement in committee that passed unanimously. It stated that we would pay close regard to the concerns of the sugar industry. There was wide consultation and opportunity to have input at that meeting. Those concerns were listened to and the committee, chaired by my colleague from Ottawa Centre, went out of its way to pass a motion stating that we would pay close regard to the concerns of the sugar industry in all parts of Canada. We attended the same meeting. Is that not the member's recollection of what took place?

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, when I put forward my amendment to the effect that there were no similar provisions for Central American countries, the Liberals defeated it.

I therefore remain extremely concerned about the content of the Costa Rica agreement and the agreement to follow. Let us hope that negotiations for free trade agreements with the four Central American countries introduce a number of other dimensions absent from these first generation agreements. Once again, I remain extremely worried.

When I sat on the Sub-Committee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, we heard from representatives of Lantic Sugar and the Canadian Sugar Institute. They testified and I did not have the impression that all members of the committee clearly understood the extent of the problem.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, the committee drafted a unanimous report endorsed by Liberal and opposition members from all parties to improve the system used by Human Resources Development Canada for employment insurance. This is a unanimous report. The committee is chaired by a Liberal member, yet the minister ignored its report.

My colleague from Joliette tried to move an amendment. We did it in every committee. The Liberals have a majority and they use the steamroller technique to ram their bills through. The committee and the committee hearings are just window dressing.

When the Conservatives were in office, the Liberals vehemently opposed the free trade agreement.

In my riding there are lumber producers currently have a problem concerning lumber on the U.S. market. This issue is still not settled. We have problems and we are asking for a free trade agreement.

There are dairy producers who also have a problem. There are tomato producers, such as Charlevoix's Serres Lacoste, which also have to pay a surtax.

If today we sign an agreement with Costa Rica, we will have the same problem when the time comes to negotiate. I think that a free trade agreement should allow for the exchange of goods and services without restrictions.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on Bill C-32, the implementation of the free trade agreement between the Government of Canada and the government of the Republic of Costa Rica.

Time after time the Canadian Alliance has said it is in favour of free trade. In that context we see this agreement as one step forward in the implementation of free trade, which we feel is the route to go for the prosperity of Canada.

I will be splitting my time, Mr. Speaker, with the member for Surrey Central.

One of the concerns raised by members on this side of the House was the impact on the domestic sugar industry. I am pleased to note that an agreement was reached in committee to say that this model would not be applied throughout the other free trade agreements, which paves the way for the Alliance to support the bill.

Our concern for the sugar industry still remains regarding future trade agreements that Canada might sign. We are putting the Minister for International Trade on notice that if future trade agreements are signed they should be more balanced in the interests of both countries.

I want to talk in general about free trade in the world and globalization. I just returned with the minister from the APEC conference in Shanghai last week where an interesting paper was presented by the government of Australia called “Globalization and Poverty”. I hope my colleagues from the NDP and others will listen carefully to what the research said.

I will quote some statements from the document:

Globalisation --in the form of increased economic integration through trade and investment--is an important reason why so much progress has been made against poverty and global inequality over recent decades.

Good national policies,sound institutions and domestic political stability are also reducing poverty.

Up to 1.2 billion people of the developing world's 4.8 billion people still live in extreme poverty, but the proportion of the world population living in poverty has been steadily declining. Since 1988 the absolute number of poor people has stopped rising and appears to have fallen in recent years despite strong population growth in poor countries.

If the proportion living in poverty had not fallen, since 1987 alone a further 215 million people would be living in extreme poverty today. There is very strong evidence here. The very poorest countries now represent less than 8% of the world total population compared with just over 45% in 1970.

The Australian document went on to say:

Most progress has taken place in developing countries that have reformed their policies, institutions and infrastructure to become the ‘new globalisers’...During the 1990s their growth in gross domestic product per person was 5 per cent a year compared with 2 per cent of the rich countries... But far more serious problems confront the countries that have not integrated with the global economy--countries that account for up to 2 billion people. Often experiencing internal conflict and suffering poor government anti-business policies and low participation in international trade, these countries have not joined the process of globalisation, with the consequences of slowly growing incomes or even declining incomes and rising poverty.

The document says quite clearly that evidence produced over the last decade shows that globalization and free trade have been major instruments in moving people out of poverty, specifically in Asian countries. This is clear evidence why it is important to have free trade in the world.

The member for Churchill gave one example when she talked about 200 women who lost their lives while travelling. Yes, that is a tragic consequence. However, in the overall context of the situation, we must look at the bigger picture that has propelled people to move out.

The problem with these anti-globalization protestors, and the NDP, is they nitpick. The loss of 200 lives is extremely important, I am not saying that it is not. However, they nitpick small little things to put up barriers against free trade and globalization. Evidence shows that the majority of people have moved from the poor sections of the economy to better living standards.

In the APEC conference, which I attended with the Minister for International Trade, every country there talked about moving their economies into the global market. After years of experimenting with other forms, they see that as one of the key factors in helping their countries to move out poverty and improve the living standards of their citizens.

Twenty-one countries cannot be wrong, can they? They have looked hard at the results. They are the ones that have been governing for years. Yet we have the anti-globalization led by the NDP, that is the new mantra these days of anti-globalization, putting up barriers, supposedly for these poor people. I do not know for whom they talk.

All I know is that most of these NGOs and anti-globalization protestors, who supposedly live in rich countries and have great living standards, are trying to impose their will on other countries that want to improve their standard of living. The anti-globalization protestors are putting up barriers to stop the same people who they are trying to help, when all economic indicators and research point to the fact that free trade has assisted them in moving forward. I do not understand why the NDP is picking up that mantra.

In conclusion, the Canadian Alliance will support Bill C-32 in the context that free trade has been one of the engines of prosperity for Canada.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, clearly the hon. member has come back from the People's Republic of China and the APEC conference with his head full of corporate information about globalization and that it is good for everyone. I have heard this so often at committees, from the pharmaceutical companies that are pushing the idea of intellectual property rights and that this is somehow lifting people out of poverty.

If the hon. member had taken the time, whether it was in Quebec City at the summit of the Americas, or at APEC when it was in Vancouver a few years ago, or now in the People's Republic of China, to attend the parallel conference and hear from workers about impact of corporate globalization, he would know that the NDP is not nitpicking, or as he said, “small little things”. We are defending the fact that workers have established, through these agreements, virtually no rights. Now we are looking at trade agreements, particularly the one before us today, that will do nothing to enforce and ensure the rights of workers in Costa Rica, or other countries where these agreements exist, to the basic human rights and labour rights to organize, to work in livable and decent conditions, to speak out and to associate. None of these things properly exist.

I am really offended that the member would somehow consider this to be nitpicking. He needs to go and do his homework. He needs to hear from worker organizations, both international and national. He needs to hear the very deep concerns that are being registered about these agreements and how they absolutely do not provide any adequate measures to protect workers in other countries.

I would ask the member to respond to that. Did he bother to take the time to find that out when he was at the APEC conference?

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to respond to the question. Let me tell the member that I grew up in a country that was in poverty. Today it is one of the poorest countries in the world.

I was there in August and talked to the people. I will say repeatedly that the NDP is nitpicking these little things because of the rhetoric being used. The members use so-called NGO groups who have similar interests and say they represent the people. If they went to those nations, walked the streets and talked with the people who have businesses, they would find out exactly what people want. They want prosperity.

Of course they want good living standards and better labour standards, but that will come through free trade and economic activity. It will not come through a central state government as the NDP wants. I have lived in that country and have seen the labour standards. The standards that the NDP says are there do not exist.

Where it exists is where people have choices. They have the choice to go from business to business to raise their living standards. With this documentation and the usual NDP rhetoric about corporate interests, the member seems to forget every time that it is the economic activity minus the corporations. Corporations do not operate the major activities of the country. Major activities of the country are done by small and medium sized businesses. That is where economic prosperity comes from, not from large corporations.

I would suggest to the NDP to forget about a parallel summit, to go out and walk the streets and talk to the local people to find the answers.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

October 25th, 2001 / 1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Calgary East for allowing me to share his time. I am pleased to rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on Bill C-32 regarding the proposed free trade agreement between Canada and Costa Rica.

The free trade agreement implementation act tries to lay out the terms for a free trade agreement between our two countries by gradually eliminating trade barriers in goods and services. The bill follows the free trade agreement with Chile in 1997 as well as NAFTA in 1994. One of its stated purposes is to promote regional integration through an instrument that contributes to the establishment of the free trade area of the Americas, commonly called FTAA. It could be the first of several of these agreements with the other countries of South and Central America.

Eighty per cent of what Costa Rica already exports to Canada enters Canada duty free. Already our bilateral trade with Costa Rica has had an annual growth of 6% in the last five years with a 7% increase in exports and a 5% increase in imports. The agreement would further accelerate that growth. Canada is looking to expand its market for goods and services, many of which currently face high tariffs when exported to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is not the problem, but the main risk is if this provision is extended to the CA-4 countries, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. That is where I see a threat because of their refining capacity and because of the subsidies given by the governments in those countries. The domestic sugar industry has been asked to make representation at the House of Commons committee and to offer amendments to the proposed legislation.

After the bill was debated in committee some of our concerns were addressed. I opposed the bill at second reading. I commend some of the improvements made at committee because of the pressure from the official opposition, the Canadian Alliance members.

The bill now appears to support the Canadian Alliance policy regarding free trade. Reduction of tariffs should be done in stages, in step with other countries and not unilaterally. Canada reduced its tariffs prematurely on grain and this created many problems, as all of us know.

There is a concern that the government is putting our sugar industry at risk in order to reduce completely unjustified high Costa Rican tariffs on french fries and selected other exports.

We have one of the most open sugar markets in the world, with an import tariff on raw sugar at just zero and a tariff on refined sugar at only 8%. United States and Latin American tariffs on sugar range from 50% to 160%. For our domestic needs Canada produces enough refined sugar. In terms of exports, our only really viable market is the United States, which imposes strict quotas of 12,000 tonnes of sugar per year.

Other countries like Costa Rica hit us with very hefty tariffs when we export sugar to their countries. For example, Guatemala has a 160% tariff on sugar imports.

Canada currently has three sugar refineries to process raw sugar which, by the way, is down from seven 20 years ago. The Canadian domestic sugar industry employs about 2,000 Canadians. A 111 year old company, Rogers Sugar, in B.C., supports the livelihoods of 650 people and stands a chance that it will lose under this agreement.

As a footnote to the debate, the people of British Columbia have already been hurt through the government's bungling of softwood lumber, tomato dumping, the mining industry, fisheries, tourism, the film industry and some others.

Also losing may be some 450 farmers producing 140,000 tonnes of sugar each year, and we know that our farmers are already in desperate shape.

Rogers Sugar currently injects close to $100 million into the Canadian economy through its operations in Vancouver and Taber, Alberta, providing high quality employment to their employees. Some people from my constituency are employed there as well.

Costa Rica does not currently use refined sugar so there is no possible benefit to Canada on this score.

There are some concerns that this agreement may stifle the operation of market forces by giving Costa Rica more access to Canada than Canada gets to Costa Rica. Trade should not only be free but also fair.

As we all know, a balanced free trade agreement usually helps to raise the standard of living for both partners through increased competitiveness and lower prices. Free trade, when done right, leads to lower prices for consumers. Who benefits? It is the consumer who benefits. Free trade must provide our firms with a level playing field in bilateral trading relationships with Costa Rica. Markets work best where government intervenes least. When the government does intervene, it must try to promote fairness and look at the whole web of Canada's trade relations with other countries. We cannot afford to be shortsighted. We must look at the big picture.

As I mentioned, though, the agreement does more than open the door for the exchange of goods and services with Costa Rica. It may act as a model for the whole FTAA framework. Regional trade agreements such as the FTAA should not conflict with our WTO agreements.

Despite the bill hurting our sugar industry somewhat, this agreement seems to be a step forward on several other levels. It includes some side agreements on the environment and labour. It demonstrates that free trade agreements can be negotiated between larger and smaller economies.

Canada has about $500 million invested in Costa Rica. The improved access that we hope to gain with this FTA will give Canadian businesses an edge over foreign competitors who do not have preferential access to the Costa Rican market. We are getting access to the market. This market access will benefit about 90% of Canada's current agriculture and agrifood exports, so that is a big benefit.

Also, Canada exports goods and services of close to 45% of our GDP, which is almost half of our GDP. This is a high proportion in comparison to our major trading partners, so our success in international trade is important to sustain our Canadian economy, particularly during this time. Many SMEs, small and medium sized enterprises, in Canada depend on trade and the foreign market for their success and growth.

Therefore I look forward to the bill and I will be supporting Bill C-32 at this stage.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will advise the Chair that I intend to divide my time with the hon. member for Vancouver East.

We have witnessed the most extraordinary spectacle in the House this afternoon: this unholy alliance between the Liberal Party, in particular the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade, and the Canadian Alliance. They are attacking the New Democrats. Why is it that they are attacking us? They are attacking us because we have the effrontery to actually speak out for human rights, to speak out for the rights of working people and to speak out for the environment, because we have the nerve to talk about the importance of democracy and putting the rights of democratically elected representatives of the people of this country ahead of corporate rights. What a shocking thing.

The hon. member from Calgary who spoke earlier on behalf of the Alliance said that we have to listen to the people from the south and that this legislation will be good for them. I wish that member had listened to the voices from the south, from Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Peru, Brazil and elsewhere when they were in Quebec City speaking about the destructive impact of the existing trade deals on their people. Had he been at the women's forum in Quebec City he would have heard women speaking about the appalling conditions in the maquiladora zones in Mexico, the poisoning of workers from chemicals, the violence and the ruthless repression of the rights of working people.

The member from Calgary asks why we are nitpicking over workers' rights. I will tell him. Is it nitpicking to say that working people should have the right under ILO standards to organize and bargain collectively, the right to equal pay for work of equal value, the right to work free of discrimination and prohibitions? They should not have to work without any restrictions at all on child labour and forced labour.

What is it that the Liberal Party and the Alliance do not understand about the rights of working people? Or is it that they do not really give a damn about the rights of working people? All they really care about is corporate profit. That is the bottom line for them.

We in the New Democratic Party oppose the legislation and we say that this Canada-Costa Rica bilateral free trade agreement is in fact part of what would lay the groundwork for a hemispheric agreement that would simply replicate all of the destructive impact of the existing NAFTA. We want nothing to do with that, certainly nothing that would increase the momentum toward a free trade area of the Americas, an FTAA.

Why is that? Too often Canada's trade policy has ignored social considerations, human considerations, the environment and the rights of workers and has put strictly commercial advantages for Canadian corporations ahead of all of them. There is no better example of that than chapter 11 of NAFTA. While chapter 11 of NAFTA is not explicitly included in the Canada-Costa Rica bilateral free trade agreement, it is in fact imported into that agreement.

I was a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs when my friend, the hon. member for Joliette and Bloc Quebecois critic on international trade, tried to move a very clear amendment to exclude chapter 11 from this Canada-Costa Rica agreement, but the government did not accept this fundamental principle.

We already know that the rights of working people in Costa Rica have been trampled on. It is virtually impossible to form or join a trade union in Costa Rica in the private sector because of the hostility from employers and the government's unwillingness to enforce its own labour laws.

We know that Costa Rica was the birthplace of the anti-worker Solidarista movement which set up employer sponsored associations in banana plantations to supplant bona fide trade unions. In the banana zone in Costa Rica working conditions are appalling and dangerous because of the lack of protection for workers using chemicals, resulting in the birth of genetically deformed babies, sterility, ill health and death among workers. In the private sector, Costa Rican workers are effectively denied any opportunity for collective bargaining whatsoever.

The Canadian Labour Congress and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, which represents 125 million workers worldwide, recently wrote to the president of Costa Rica, Dr. Miguel Angel Rodriguez, expressing their concern about the situation faced by Costa Rican workers, especially those in the public sector.

What does the government say? The government says that it has great side accords. It says that it has a side accord on labour and on the environment. We have seen this movie before. We have seen the so-called side accords under the existing NAFTA and they are a joke. They do not protect workers and they sure as heck do not protect the environment.

When governments fail to enforce labour laws that protect such basic rights as the freedom of association, what is the recourse under the side agreement under NAFTA? They can make a submission to the national administrative office of a signatory government. What can that office do? It can recommend ministerial consultations with the offending government, and that is it. There is no respect for the fundamental rights of workers and no respect for the environment whatsoever, and that is continued in the Canada-Costa Rica agreement.

Far from expanding the principles of NAFTA, which put corporate rights ahead of democracy, ahead of the rights of working people, ahead of the environment and ahead of basic human rights, we should be replacing that agreement with a fair trade agreement.

We do not support the bill and we certainly do not support the extension of NAFTA into Costa Rica or anywhere else in this hemisphere.

I want to take a moment to say a few words about the impact of the bill on the sugar industry. I recently met with representatives of Rogers Sugar, an refinery that has over 200 employees in the Vancouver area located in the constituency of my colleague for Vancouver East. Many of those workers live in my constituency of Burnaby--Douglas.

Rogers has been around for about 112 years. It is a Canadian owned company. It provides quality union jobs to over 200 employees who are members of the Retail Wholesale Union. It contributes about $33 million to the economy. I want to be very clear that the employees, the management of Rogers refinery, as well as others in the sugar industry across Canada, are deeply concerned about the implications of the bill for the survival of that industry.

If the bill in any way is seen to be a model or a template for negotiations with the so-called CA-4 nations of Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, it will be very destructive for the sugar industry in Canada.

I was pleased that the foreign affairs committee made a recommendation to the government. The recommendation was not part of the bill but it was a strong unanimous recommendation that this not be seen in any way as a model.

Certainly, on behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party, I want to make it very clear that we reject any extension of this Canada-Costa Rica agreement to the other countries I have mentioned. It could very well spell the end for the Rogers Sugar refinery.

In closing, I would once again say that we as New Democrats have always supported a rules based trading system but what we have seen too often is that those rules benefit not working people, not small businesses, not the environment and not human rights. They simply hurt the poorest of the poor.

I have not even had the opportunity to speak to the implications the bill would have for agriculture. I would note that too often agri-business means that more and more small farmers, some of the poorest farmers in Central and South America, are being pushed off their land because of cheap imports coming in from the north. Certainly, that is not acceptable.

We have serious concerns as well about the impact of pesticides in the agriculture industry in Costa Rica but these concerns have not been addressed in the legislation. In terms of human rights and in terms of the implications for agriculture, the environment, the rights of the working people and for democracy itself, we say no to the legislation and we say no to the extension of the bill into any form of FTAA.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

London—Fanshawe Ontario


Pat O'Brien LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, after listening very carefully to my colleague's comments, my reaction is that here we go again. The NDP is the sole repository of all truth and virtue and if we do not happen to agree with the New Democratic Party of Canada we are somehow part of some unholy alliance. Well I guess 75% of Canadians are part of this unholy alliance because 75% of Canadians strongly support free trade.

I would like to ask my colleague to react to the comments of Juan Somavia. A few days ago I asked the director general of the ILO whether the ILO supported the inclusion of labour standards within trade agreements. I told him that the Canadian government did not think it was the way to go. Mr. Juan Somavia's answer was, and I quote:

For example, Canada is being very creative in this, through side agreements which are of a promotional nature. There are a number of ways in which the energy that has been behind this trade and labour standards debate can be channelled so we're making things happen.

--we have to run with the ball with the instruments that we have.

Mr. Somavia was very flattering toward Canada. He rejected out of hand the fact that we must enshrine ILO standards into trade agreements. I know the hon. member could not be present for that discussion but I have just quoted Mr. Somavia. I would like to know what the hon. member's reaction to that is.

I would also like to know what the hon. member's reaction is to the EU ministers. We often hear the EU cited by the New Democratic Party. What is his reaction to the EU trade ministers who have said that they reject putting labour agreements into trade deals, that they litter up the trade deals unnecessarily and that it is not the way to go?

Finally, why is the NDP against helping one of the poorest nations in the Caribbean area, a nation that needs trade not aid? Why does it oppose that?

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, maybe the parliamentary secretary wants to ask the workers and the representatives of the workers in Costa Rica why it is they oppose the provisions of this so-called trade deal.

The hon. member asked a question about littering up trade deals with workers rights and environmental rights. The Liberal Party and the Alliance have a rather interesting notion of what constitutes litter. Is it litter to say that we believe that child labour should not be exploited in Costa Rica? Is it litter to say that we believe in the freedom of association of workers in Costa Rica? I do not think so. If the Liberal Party believes that is litter--

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Pat O'Brien Liberal London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Inadvertently or not, the member is certainly misquoting me. I am quoting the EU ministers--

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I think we are engaging in debate and certainly not on a procedural point of order.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, if they think these basic rights are litter then they can defend that to the Canadian people. I think the Canadian people would accept our concept that if we can protect the rights of multinational pharmaceutical companies in trade deals through patent rights, we can sure as heck protect the rights of working people to organize and we can sure as heck protect the environment.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Burnaby said that I was nitpicking and I will repeat that he is nitpicking again. In reference to free trade and globalization the study stated:

The very poorest countries now represent less than 8% of the world ’s population compared with just over 45% in 1970. In countries that have embraced the opportunities created by integration with world markets...”

The member talked about the workers in Costa Rica. I repeat that the NDP is nitpicking. It will bring its people together but it will not go and talk to the people on the street who are benefiting from economic liberalization.

Canada—Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, which part of the fundamental ILO standards does the Alliance consider nitpicking? Is it the internationally recognized fundamental right to organize and bargain collectively? Is it the right to equal pay for work of equal value? Is it the right to work free of discrimination? Is it the prohibition of child labour and forced labour?

These are basic standards that New Democrats believe workers around the world should be entitled to. If the Alliance says it is nitpicking, it is a pretty sad commentary on its respect for working people.

Small Business WeekStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, small businesses are the pillars of Canada's economy and the largest source of job creation in the country.

That is why it is important to highlight Small Business Week taking place across Canada from October 21 to 27, 2001. Organized by the Business Development Bank of Canada with the theme “The Power of Innovation Driving Small Business Growth”, Small Business Week salutes the talents and accomplishments of small business owners and managers across the country.

Entrepreneurs in every sector in Canada are finding innovative ways to increase the productivity of their businesses. Small Business Week allows them to share ideas and information regarding innovative strategies that will help Canada play a leading role in the highly competitive world market.

Our thanks to the men and women of Frontenac—Mégantic who contribute to the prosperity of their region and our country.

Poppy CampaignStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Art Hanger Canadian Alliance Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, October 27, I will be participating in the Calgary remembrance walk and parade to help kick off this year's poppy campaign.

The poppy campaign is perhaps one of the Royal Canadian Legion's most important fundraising events. The money raised from the sale of poppies helps to provide direct assistance to ex-service people who are in need as well as to fund medical appliances and research, and numerous other purposes.

The poppy is our symbol of remembrance for those who were killed during the wars. Let us not forget that these men and women paid the supreme price for the freedoms we enjoy today.

It was from the field of war that Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae penned the words of that famous poem: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow”. These words take on a special meaning of significance on Remembrance Day when we pause to honour our war dead.

It is not enough for us to pay respects on Remembrance Day alone. I appeal to all Canadians to give generously to the poppy campaign so that our struggling veterans can live out the final years of their lives with respect and dignity.

Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention MonthStatements By Members

2 p.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, October is Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month which was started in the 1980s by the Independent Order of Foresters. During the month of October the Children's Aid Societies of Ontario are distributing purple ribbons to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect.

It is vital that we all take some time to reflect and become involved in efforts to prevent any form of child abuse and neglect in our society. No child deserves to fall victim to abuse.

It is for this reason that I encourage all members and citizens to wear the purple ribbon during the month of October in an effort to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect. After all, as we have often said, the future lies in the hands of our children.

James GladstoneStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, this morning at 11.30 there was a ceremony to pay tribute to the Hon. James Gladstone, the first aboriginal appointed to the Senate.

The ceremony included the unveiling of a bust of Senator Gladstone. Fred Gladstone, the senator's son, was in attendance as were Senators Dan Hays, Joyce Fairbairn and Thelma Chalifoux.

James Gladstone was born in 1887 near Mountain Mill, Alberta, and was a member of the Blood Band. He was appointed to the Senate in 1958 to represent Lethbridge, Alberta, and served for 13 years. As senator he co-chaired the joint committee on Indian affairs and fought for improvements for native people. His biography, The Gentle Persuader , was published in 1986.

I call on the House to join me today in paying tribute to the lifelong dedication and achievements of Senator Gladstone.

Medical Radiation Technology WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Joe Fontana Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year Medical Radiation Technology Week will be celebrated from November 5 to November 9. Medical radiation technology is and will continue to be at the forefront of medicine in the 21st century as more procedures will be based upon the use of diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy.

Medical radiation technologists in all disciplines, like Elaine Buchner from London and other professionals from across the country, are frontline health care workers in a variety of settings such as hospitals, clinics, and labs. More of these professionals will be needed to meet the future needs of our citizens.

Recent large government investments in new diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy technology promises to benefit both the public and professionals involved with such state of the art equipment.

I ask the House to join me in recognizing Medical Radiation Technology Week and encouraging more of our young people to seek a career in radiation technology.

Literacy Action DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today in recognition of the eighth annual Literacy Action Day. I had the opportunity this morning to meet with Don Pinay, a Yorkton tribal councillor and elder Irene Yuzicuppi from the Saskatchewan Literacy Network. These people are very concerned about literacy and are actively promoting literacy programs in their community.

Currently over 20% of Canada's population does not read well. There are many things that we can do in support of literacy: read to our children, volunteer with literacy programs and encourage those around us to be lifelong learners.

We tend to equate the ability to read with intelligence. This is not the case. We do not know what happened along the path of learning for those who struggle with illiteracy. We need to offer our support and encouragement to those who now desire to learn. I applaud those who are making the decision to become lifelong learners.

Marc Alexandre ChartrandStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, at this moment, a funeral is taking place in a church in my riding of Laval East for a 17 year old adolescent, another victim of Quebec's biker gangs.

In fact, Marc Alexandre was killed in cold blood on Friday night at the entrance to a downtown Montreal bar. Bikers affiliated with the Rock Machine wanted to enter the bar before everyone else and were refused entry by the doormen. One of the bikers, in a fit of rage, drew his gun and fired. Marc Alexandre was mortally wounded.

There are no words to describe the pain felt by his family as they come to grips with the loss of their loved one. He is another victim of the criminal bikers.

Bill C-24 passed third reading in parliament on June 13. The measures contained in this bill would help eliminate or reduce the number of gratuitous crimes committed by these undesirables in our society. It still requires the approval of the other place.

In closing, on behalf of all my colleagues, I offer my sincere condolences to the Chartrand family.

Block ParentsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, in this International Year of Volunteers, I would like to recognize the work done by people in my riding and more specifically those involved in the block parents program.

Originally intended to provide a network of safe homes so that children away from home could find help and shelter, the block parents program has broadened its scope to include seniors.

In 1977 the program was set up in my riding. Today there are over 900 safe homes in the area. This year volunteers came to the aid of some 20 people. They met over 600 seniors and over 11,000 children in their activities and school visits.

In this national Block Parent Week, I invite everyone to use this opportunity to become actively involved in the program. It is reassuring to know there will always be trustworthy people who will provide help.