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House of Commons Hansard #105 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was edc.

Topics

Export Development ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas for his speech. His concerns for human rights date back many years. He addressed a number of points in his speech.

Before asking my question, I would like to make some comments. I represent the riding of Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, a riding in which is located a company called Davie Industries. Despite a bankruptcy last Wednesday, there is an economic recovery project under way.

When the Minister for International Trade is questioned about projects submitted to the EDC, he or his assistants always reply “We cannot speak of them, because that is a crown corporation”. They are, when it comes down to it, merely required to table an annual report in the House. There is always the aspect of confidentiality. When the hon. member refers to the access to information aspect, I find it vital to democracy for people to be kept informed.

In closing, let us recall that Davie did eventually obtain something from the EDC, the famous Spirit of Columbus platform, after two years, when the work on it was completely done. Examination of the project took two years. I assumed that they were probably busy looking at the human rights aspect, and if it respected the environment, and the like.

Finally, I realized that was not the case. It is even worse with the changes. The corporation is not even subject to the international treaties Canada has signed. This is inconceivable. There is nothing in writing. The amendment proposed by the hon. member for Joliette was refused. So there is still the matter of transparency, environmental problems and the like.

I would ask the hon. member, with his lengthy parliamentary experience, he who says he does not understand how the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade could have changed its mind in its report, what in his opinion are the possible responses he has in mind that would cast some light on it for me, with my lesser experience in foreign trade. In my opinion, it is inconceivable. The government will not give us a reply on this.

What, according to him, are the reasons the government side is behaving in this way, doing such an about turn in its position?

In the space of only a few months, the committee members changed their position, surely under someone's influence. I would like to hear some hypotheses from him on this.

Export Development ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, unfortunately I cannot answer the hon. member's question. It is an excellent question but it should be put to the Liberal members who sit on the committee and who completely changed their position between December 1999 and today.

I do not know and I do not understand why they are not prepared to accept the same recommendation. It is not revolutionary. It provides that the EDC must comply with its international obligations regarding the environment and human rights.

When I read the recommendations made by other witnesses, I can only assume that major Canadian companies said that they did not want to be forced to accept these obligations. Perhaps this is what explains the Liberals change of attitude, since they are funded by these same companies. As to whether the Liberals yielded to the pressure exerted by these corporations, I do not know. Is there another answer? The question should be put to the Liberals.

Export Development ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-31, an act to amend the Export Development Act. It makes a number of other amendments which I will go through.

The Minister for International Trade tabled amendments to the Export Development Act. There are a number of them, including changing the name of the corporation to Export Development Canada. There is nothing too substantive in that regard, but I should like to talk about some of the more substantive changes. I should also like to spend some time at the end talking about the Canada account.

First I will go to some of the proposed changes. One amendment would enable the board of directors to delegate its powers and duties to committees that it may establish other than the executive committee. Right now 13 of the 15 board members are currently appointed by the Minister for International Trade. The remaining two, the chairman and the president, are appointed by the Prime Minister.

These appointments, all very partisan political appointments, are the people responsible for formulating the current practices of the EDC. We have political appointments. There is the patronage we have seen in the past and now an unelected board wants to delegate its powers and duties to one level down. I think it is incredibly questionable. Instead I would suggest that the board should come before a parliamentary committee and be held accountable instead of further divesting its responsibilities and powers to another partisan appointed committee.

The 15 member board is appointed by the Prime Minister and the Minister for International Trade, which I think is wrong. They should be looking at its focus. Recently Patrick Lavelle, chairman of the EDC, called for more independence for crown corporations and agencies such as the EDC, stating the objective of naming directors should be to “get the best people, no matter where they come from”.

Mr. Lavelle has suggested the EDC move toward privatization, noting that there is a culture of secrecy in the government bureaucracies, “an inherent believability in federal crowns that information is power and increasing its release will just generate unwarranted criticism”.

We are dealing with taxpayer money. This is all about accountability. Yes, one in four jobs in Canada is a direct result of our exports. Some 43% of our GDP solely depends on exports. However the funding that goes out from EDC has to be fully accountable. It has to be transparent.

When we have the chairman of the EDC saying that the power of the federal crowns in releasing information will only generate unwarranted criticism, we have to question where these types of things should be addressed. Of course they have not been in this legislation.

Furthermore he is recommending that the Prime Minister create a cabinet post that would make one minister responsible for overseeing all crown corporations, with a parliamentary committee established to provide oversight. On another note he mentions that crown directors should perhaps face the same liability as private sector directors.

Of course this is coming from somebody who has worked very closely with the EDC as the chairman and has seen this firsthand, probably better than most. These are the types of suggestions that he has come forward with. Yet there is no mention of any of them in the legislation. It does not address any of these issues.

In light of Mr. Lavelle's words, the latest addition to this haven for patronage appointment is former Senator Bernie Boudreau who was named by the PMO last month to a plumb post as a director of the EDC. It is just another flagrant example of patronage on the part of the government.

There has to be more accountability with crown corporations, something which is evidently lacking at present.

The present government agrees that EDC should “publicly demonstrate its accountability by reflecting the full range of public policy concerns in its activities and should introduce appropriate transparency measures concerning its activities”.

The Export Development Corporation is immune from access to information because it is not covered under the act. We are dealing with billions of dollars of taxpayer money and it is immune from any type of access to information request to make sure that we have more accountability.

I was going to call quorum, Madam Speaker, because I did not see any government members. However I apologize because I see one now. I thought I was speaking to an empty House.

Export Development ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I am sure the hon. member, being in his third term, knows that we do not mention the absence or presence of any members on any side of the House. If he would like to have a quorum call, that is his right under the rules of the House.

Export Development ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, this is about accountability and transparency. One suggestion proposed by the auditor general was that the design and implementation of a directive be established by the board at least once every five years. I know there will be measures in the legislation for these type of reviews, but once every five years is not good enough. These reviews should be more often than that, whether it is every year or two years.

We are dealing with billions of dollars of taxpayer money. There has to be accountability. The members board controlling the funds are politically appointed. I am not suggesting that they are not doing a good job in a lot of their work, but there has to be accountability.

I find it completely unacceptable that Export Development Canada, or Export Development Corporation as it is now known, is immune from the Access to Information Act. Nonetheless a study prepared for the federal government found that crown corporations, including the EDC, should be subject to access to information since access laws encourage organizations to be “demonstrably worthy of public trust”.

The study notes that the reasons for crown corporations, such as EDC, to be excluded from the laws are unclear and suggests that an agency should be subject to the law if the government appoints more than half of its governing body. As I pointed out earlier, the 50 member board is appointed by the Minister for International Trade and the Prime Minister.

We are looking for is greater accountability and transparency. What has the government done with its legislation? It is now giving powers to a politically appointed board to appoint further committees of its choice. The committees would not be appointed by parliament nor would they be accountable to parliament. The board would divest its responsibilities to further the committees, and I find that completely unacceptable.

Another amendment would require the EDC to determine whether projects would have adverse environmental affects. I acknowledge this is important, although I question whether this is the place for that. It has an environmental review process now, and we have to be committed to ensuring that we protect the environment for future generations.

The mandate of the EDC is to assist Canadian corporations with exports and access to other markets. In light of the recent events of September 11, with an economy that is beyond fragile and that is in serious decline, there has probably never been a more important time for EDC to ensure it fulfills its mandate where needed.

Canada's trade with the United States is $1.4 billion U.S. a day. I have been told that exports between Canada and the United States are off some $200 million to $300 million a day since September 11. We are talking 10% to 15% out of our economies, which is a huge amount. Again, if there has ever been a time for EDC to fulfill its mandate, it is now. I see nothing in the legislation that strengthens this area.

In May this year the report of the auditor general gave failing grades to 24 of 26 projects backed by the Export Development Corporation. To add insult to injury, the EDC decided it would not make public details of three of the projects judged to have been improperly assessed under the corporation's environmental review process.

The new environmental changes, and I understand they are voluntary, are very questionable.

However, it is even more telling when it comes to accountability and transparency. The EDC unilaterally decided not to release the details of three of these projects for “good, legitimate reasons”. That was what we are told without know what the reasons were. We will never know any of the details of these three projects.

Again, EDC has argued that these are business transactions and businesses have to be protected for patent reasons or whatever the case may be.

I would argue that these businesses are approaching a crown corporation, in essence the taxpayer, for financial assistance for these projects. That being the case, that changes the circumstances completely. If they need taxpayer dollars and assistance, then they have to be accountable and more transparent. They should be open to access to information requests. If they have business practices or information that could hurt future business opportunities and they does not want to divulge whatever that information may be, maybe they should rethink asking for taxpayer money.

The crown corporation is supposedly striving to rid itself of this secretive image. Yet it is well known for its lack of transparency and willingness to fund projects of which other agencies stay clear.

I want to come back to the Canada account. So people understand, there are two accounts with Export Development Corporation, or Export Development Canada as it will now known. There is the corporate account to which businesses apply under the general rules. They have to have proper credit ratings to meet those practices.

Then there is the Canada account, also known as the political account. This is for companies that would not qualify under the corporate account. If they do not have the right credit risk, the right business plans or whatever it may be to access funds from the corporate account, they go to the Canada account. The Canada account is basically a cabinet account where the Government of Canada interferes and advises the EDC that it would like something approved.

There have been some examples. Again, the most obvious one, and the public is aware of it because it has been in the press, is the recent Bombardier transactions to the tune of $3.7 billion in loan guarantees. In fairness to the government, they were not actual subsidies but loan guarantees.

Admittedly, Bombardier was facing unfair business practices. It was at risk of losing to Embraer, which was engaging in unfair trade practices. It was important to Canada and our economy that we maintain these jobs in Canada and that Bombardier continue to be a world leader in the manufacture of regional aircraft. As a result of September 11, there is even a greater market for smaller regional aircraft.

The point I am making is that there are many other industries that face unfair trade practices. Probably right now no other industry has more problems than the softwood lumber industry. It is facing unfair trade practices, not unlike Bombardier did with Embraer. Trade tariffs of 19.3% are being imposed on the industry by the U.S. administration. The case has been to various international trade tribunals on three separate occasions. Canada has won every single time. However, through U.S. domestic legislative, these tariffs have been imposed on the softwood industry in Canada.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that 45% of that industry is in British Columbia or over $10 billion a year. When we add that kind of tariff, we are talking over $1 billion a year out of the British Columbia economy alone.

Tomorrow we will be hit with the anti-dumping tariff. Canada has one industry that is getting loan guarantees under the EDC Canada account and I understand why. However tens of thousands of jobs, and the number is probably in the area of 40,000 to 50,000, in the softwood lumber industry right across Canada have been lost. Those people are getting absolutely no assistance from the government.

The government granted the $2.1 billion loan guarantee under the Canada account for the Air Wisconsin deal. In January I asked the minister if this was a new policy of the government. When an industry in Canada is faced with unfair trade practices, I asked him if the government would start providing subsidies or loan guarantees or match the unfair trade practices. Using the words of the government, I was told that all it was going to do was match the unfair trade practices of Brazil. That begs the question, does that become the policy of the government? I do not think that is the best policy.

Right now the forest industry in Canada is facing horrific job losses. We are told that tomorrow it is going to be faced with an anti-dumping suit anywhere from 5% to 15% on top of the 19.3%. The forest industry is facing somewhere between a 25% and 35% tariff. This issue has been through international trade tribunals and Canada has won every time. We have heard the minister say time and time again that officials are meeting with our American friends to the south on the issue. The reality is that this process could take two or three years and there will be no forest industry left in British Columbia or elsewhere in Canada for that matter. The industry will be struggling to stay alive.

I stress that the Canada account is very political. In summary we will not be supporting this legislation primarily because it does absolutely nothing to deal with the issue of accountability and transparency. This crown corporation spends billions of taxpayers' dollars. It has a budget in the billions of dollars and has control over where the money goes. It is immune from access to information. That needs to change. The government thought it more important to change the name rather than bring about accountability and transparency. We believe that is wrong and we will be voting against it.

Export Development ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the debate on Bill C-31.

The bill deals with changes to the Export Development Act and the Export Development Corporation and the way we help our exporters participate in the global economy we now find ourselves in. Unfortunately as we all know the economy of the country and the economy of the world have been taking a bit of a knock on the head since September 11 and perhaps even before that.

Any time September 11 is mentioned we think of those who suffered and died in New York and Washington. We should never make light of what happened there. However it does have some ongoing effects on our economy and these are things we have to discuss.

The Minister of Finance is going to have to bring down a budget soon. He is trying to stay away from that awful D word, the deficit. Perhaps it will be looming large again in our vocabulary but we certainly hope not.

The Export Development Corporation's role is to help small, medium and large exporters obtain sales abroad for Canadian goods and Canadian services. To ensure that our Canadian suppliers get paid, they can obtain insurance through the Export Development Corporation to guarantee that they will get payment. On a normal transaction that is not a bad thing. We ensure many different things these days. We wonder why it has to be a crown corporation that does that and not the private sector.

It used to be that mortgages had to be insured by the government and then the private sector took over that. Why can we not think about allowing the private sector to do it in the export market as well? That of course would bring to bear what is called the Canada account.

The member who spoke previously talked about the Canada account which is a political account. Team Canada sometimes likes to slide all those great big sales that it announces to justify its trips around the world through the Export Development Corporation. In the final analysis sometimes Canadian taxpayers end up picking up the tab not only for the trip around the world but also for those great sales promotions that team Canada said it had achieved but it did not quite work out that way.

I would like to think that we would get away from these politically motivated deals. The governor in council, the cabinet, can dictate to the corporation saying it has signed a deal to sell a Candu reactor to some rather nefarious country it would rather not deal with but it is good for Canadian jobs. It tells the corporation to sign the deal and guarantees the deal. Lo and behold if sometime later something goes wrong and we do not get paid, the Canadian taxpayer gets to pick up the tab.

It works in much the same way as the Canadian Wheat Board which sells wheat and grain around the world all guaranteed by the Government of Canada. When we look at the financial statements of the Canadian Wheat Board, it has never had a bad debt since it started. The Government of Canada pays every bad debt that it incurs. We never know exactly how much that is costing us. The wonderful statements made by the wheat board say, “Don't worry. We get paid”. It is the Canadian taxpayer who quite often pays for the wheat that we presumably sell elsewhere.

Part of the bill deals with trying to require the Export Development Corporation to build in some environmental criteria. We recognize that the environmental laws are different in different parts of the world. To apply a Canadian standard and say that we are not going to finance a project in country x unless it meets a Canadian environmental standard may be totally inappropriate. The environmental standards would be different in that country and there would be a total mismatch of rules and regulations and the whole thing would fall apart. It is going to require the Export Development Corporation to try to develop some criteria to ensure that not only the country involved but all the inhabitants of the world benefit and that the environment does not suffer too dramatically because of the project that is being anticipated.

The auditor general's report produced in May 2001, just a few months ago, reports on the Export Development Corporation and its environmental review framework. That is what the bill talks about in some degree.

On page 5 the report talks about the important gaps in public consultation and disclosure. We are talking about a crown corporation. A crown corporation is owned by the taxpayers and has to report to the taxpayers. On the first page of part 1 the auditor general says there are important gaps in public consultation and disclosure. That is right at the front.

That is typical of the government. Every time we turn around there is something it is trying to hide, be it the shawinigate papers we could not get our hands on, or just yesterday I was reading in the newspaper how the privacy commissioner is trying to get a hold of the Prime Minister's agenda, not the contents of what he discussed, but whom he met with. Even that is a state secret. It is little wonder that the Export Development Corporation is saying that it wants to be part of the same mould.

The auditor general is right in saying that the elite of the corporation will have to act quickly to address issues of transparency and that there is lack of policies and procedures at the project level to govern public consultation and disclosure of environmental information. These are serious allegations. The auditor general, our officer of parliament, is saying it is time for EDC to wake up and start being more open and transparent and tell us what it is actually doing because we the taxpayers are the shareholders.

In paragraph 10 on page 6 under the heading “Is the framework operating effectively?” the auditor general says:

In most cases we found significant differences between the framework design and its operation. In those cases, employees seem to have viewed the framework more as a guidance, to be interpreted according to the circumstances of each project, than as an important risk management tool that they were expected to apply.

Who is minding the store? If there is no openness and transparency, the institution of parliament which is supposed to be holding it to account does not have the information. Therefore we cannot do our job properly and it gets away with anything it wants to get away with.

Paragraph 22 on page 8 states:

Unlike federal departments and agencies, the Export Development Corporation is not subject to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act or to the Access to Information Act. Unlike private sector financial institutions, it is not subject to regulation by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, does not pay income tax, is not required to pay dividends, and can borrow at favourable rates on the credit of the Government of Canada.

If it can do all those things, we would think the least it could do is tell us what it is up to so we could keep an eye on what the organization is doing. But we all know that transparency is not the watch word of the government.

Paragraph 27 on transparency, public disclosure and accountability states:

The government acknowledged that the information the corporation currently discloses provides few details.

What are we really trying to do here? Are we a dictatorship or are we an open democracy? I thought we were an open democracy. It goes on to state:

It noted, however, that the corporation was making significant strides toward making more information on its activities available to the public.

Well, we are still waiting. The litany continues on. In paragraph 34 which deals with developing a framework for risk management it states:

To provide the public with a better understanding of the corporation's environmental practices. Although the corporation had been assessing environmental risks of projects for some time, it had not kept the public informed on the nature or extent of its analysis.

We are right back to square one. Whatever it wants to do it does behind closed doors. It does it incompetently or not at all. As long as the taxpayer is kept in the dark it thinks it is home free.

That is not the way it should be. Given that it relied on the environmental information provided by project proponents for its risk assessments, the corporation needed to communicate to participants what information it required and how it would be used.

Going through the report, there are many instances of problems in the organization. In paragraph 56 at page 14 the auditor general points out that there are important gaps in public consultation and disclosure. It states:

The key gaps in the design of the Corporation's Framework are in transparency--

Through the entire report transparency or the lack thereof is the key. The organization needs serious review to open itself up to the public. It needs reform.

Export Development ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for St. Albert has great prescience. He will have, however, nine minutes remaining in the time allotted for his remarks when the debate on this matter is resumed.

TobaccoStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I strongly urge the federal government, especially Health Canada, to continue its fight against tobacco. In particular we must prevent young people from becoming addicted. All the evidence shows that those who try tobacco when young are likely to be addicted for life. Addicted young people will live shortened lives. Forty-five thousand premature deaths occur each year from the smoking of tobacco.

Canada's new tobacco labelling regulations have been widely praised by the international community. The products information labelling regulations passed by the House are the strongest in the world.

Let us fully implement this new health warning system and help all those working to reduce tobacco use in communities across Canada including Peterborough.

Prostate CancerStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ted White Canadian Alliance North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is PSA day on the Hill so there are bowls of walnuts in the opposition and government lobbies, a reminder to male MPs, senators, staff and the media that they can go to room 200 in the West Block until 4 p.m. today for a PSA blood test which can detect prostate cancer.

I remind the front benches on both sides of the House that ministers, critics and leaders of the opposition parties, including the Bloc Quebecois, are not immune to prostate cancer. This cancer which affects one man in eight does not care which party we belong to or where we are in the pecking order.

Thanks to Abbott Diagnostics which is supplying the staff and materials for the PSA testing, and to internationally recognized prostate cancer researcher Dr. Yves Fradet who gave today's seminar, we have had a unique opportunity to become better informed about this life threatening disease.

Mr. Speaker, do not let me find out tomorrow that you did not go for your test today. It is in room 200 in the West Block until 4 p.m.

Communities in BloomStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to take this opportunity to congratulate the city of Charlottetown for placing first in the national Communities in Bloom competition.

Prince Edward Island's capital city, the birthplace of Confederation, was recently awarded this prize in recognition of the city's effort to improve civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification through the participation of both the residential and business communities.

The Communities in Bloom program, run by a not for profit organization, has Canadian municipalities compete with similar size cities in improving such areas as heritage conservation, environmental effort, community involvement, and landscaping and floral arrangement.

Judges of the Communities in Bloom program indicated they were most impressed with the involvement at all levels within the community and Charlottetown's efforts to maintain history through various heritage initiatives. As a result of the efforts of all residents Charlottetown is now recognized as one of the most beautiful and clean municipalities in Canada and has been given the prestigious Five Blooms designation.

City staff and citizens of both the business and residential districts should be proud that their dedication and hard work have earned Canada's birthplace of Confederation the national first place Communities in Bloom title.

Jean-Marc OuelletStatements By Members

October 30th, 2001 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness that we learned of the death, last Friday, of Jean-Marc Ouellet, at the age of 60.

Mr. Ouellet was a loyal employee of the Senate for over ten years. He held the positions of bus driver and messenger. The funeral service was held this morning.

It is hard to lose a loved one.

My colleagues and I wish to offer our deepest condolences to his wife, Joyce Hatley, his daughter Lynn, his son Michael, and all his friends and relatives.

I hope that each one of you will be comforted by the memory of good times spent with him.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, sulphur dioxide pollution from the shipping industry is a major contributor to acidification of waters and rain. In the waters around Denmark it is estimated that emissions from ships are twice those of the country's land based sources.

Many European countries are putting in place a system of dues at ports, differentiated according to the ship's environmental performance. For example, ships entering Hamburg harbour are granted a 12% rebate on dues if they meet pre-established environmental requirements such as using low sulphur bunker oil, showing they produce lower sulphur emissions or using paints free of poisonous tributyl tin.

These port dues rebates are significant. They are an incentive for the shipping industry to clean up its act. I urge the Minister of Transport to adopt such incentives and thus reduce pollution from cruise, cargo and other types of ships.

TerrorismStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call attention to a grave danger contained in the government's anti-terrorism bill. The bill defines terrorist activity in such a way that criminal prosecution would begin to focus on the underlying beliefs of terrorists. The bill singles out crimes committed for political, religious, or ideological purposes.

A crime is a crime is a crime. Our justice system must judge actions, not religions or ideologies. An act of violence does not become any more or less an act of violence because it was committed for religious or ideological purposes or for any purpose whatsoever. Our justice system does not prosecute motive, specifically in order to preserve Canadians' rights of religious observation, their right to belong to political parties and their right to freely believe what they believe.

The law should be hard on those who commit terrorist acts, but when we begin to prosecute personal thought we erode the very freedoms we are seeking to protect. Thought crime is a dangerous path that we ought not to follow.

E-CommerceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, in the knowledge economy the race goes to the quick. The ability to take advantage of the opportunities that the new information and communication technologies enable will determine the winners in this global competition.

Canada, with its relatively small, well educated population, high degree of connectivity and overall sophistication in the use of these tools, has an unparalleled opportunity to lead the world. In addition to computers and networks, businesses need the tools that allow them to move quickly in this new market.

Today I am pleased to draw the attention of the House to the SourceCAN initiative of Industry Canada. It is a state of the art online service that allows small Canadian businesses to access vastly increased international markets while at the same time reducing the costs of doing business online. SourceCAN is one of the tools by which Canada will reach its goal of 5% of worldwide e-commerce.

I congratulate the staff at Industry Canada and all the people involved in this important initiative.

Trade DisputesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers has been refused the right to appear as a party at the hearing involving United Parcel Service's lawsuit against the federal government.

United Parcel Service has launched a $230 million lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that its rights as a foreign investor have been harmed by Canada Post.

An international tribunal, whose rules are not based on Canadian law, will examine the case, taking into consideration the rules for settling a trade dispute set out in NAFTA's controversial chapter 11.

Yet, last summer at the meeting of the NAFTA commission, the Minister for International Trade expressed his delight at the measures taken to clarify the provisions of this chapter. He said “We want the process for settling disputes between an investor and a state, which is provided for in NAFTA, to be as open and transparent as possible”.

The minister will have to explain what he means to the 45,000 Canada Post workers whose views are not being heard.

Aboriginal Youth ConferenceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence O'Brien Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend the National Aboriginal Youth Conference took place in Edmonton. Aboriginals are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. That is why it is vital to hear the voices of First Nations, Inuit and Metis young people.

The hon. Secretary of State for Children and Youth spoke at the conference which brought together youth from across the country as well as members of national aboriginal organizations. The findings from the conference will assist in implementing the national aboriginal youth strategy. They will be presented in December to a meeting of national aboriginal leaders and the ministers of aboriginal affairs.

This conference provided a valuable forum to hear directly from aboriginal youth about the issues that concern them.

1972 ElectionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise today to mark the 29th anniversary of the 1972 election held on October 30 of that year.

There are only five members of parliament elected or re-elected in that election who still serve here today. The Right Hon. Prime Minister, the hon. Deputy Prime Minister and the hon. member for Davenport were re-elected that year. Today there are only two MPs who were first elected that year: the right hon. member for Calgary Centre and I.

Then as now I was a proud member of the official opposition. In fact the right hon. member for Calgary Centre and I both served in the same caucus under the leadership of Mr. Stanfield. Then as now the centre right was split in the House of Commons, with the Conservatives as the official opposition and the Social Credit Party here also.

There is an old saying that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. The lessons of those years are not lost on me, and I would venture to say they are not lost on the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister.

However I hope that my colleague and fellow classmate from 1972, the right hon. member for Calgary Centre, remembers those lessons too and will not become the Réal Caouette of 2001 or allow his party to become the true inheritors of the Social Credit legacy in this place.

In closing, I thank the voters of British Columbia for sending me to this place that year and in three subsequent elections.

Fallen Heroes FundStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pat O'Brien Liberal London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the London Professional Fire Fighters Association, its president Brian George and its vice-president Jim Holmes in my hometown of London, Ontario, for raising over $285,000 so far for the Fallen Heroes Fund.

Every cent of the money raised will go to the New York Fire Fighters 911 Disaster Relief Fund. This fund helps the families of fallen firefighters, police and emergency personnel who lost husbands, fathers and sons in the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

The London fire fighters and I would also like to thank the advertising and promotional assistance of the Corus Group, major corporations, small businesses, schools, groups, individuals and organizations, as well as kids who broke open their piggy banks to contribute. Without their kindness and generosity this could not have been possible. The thoughtfulness of Londoners will never be forgotten.

EnergyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the benefits we can derive from wind power. Canada has the ability to produce more wind power than any country in the world.

In spite of that the federal government, while pumping billions into the nuclear and oil industries over the years, has contributed relatively little to the development of wind power in Canada.

Europe and the U.S. provide substantial financial incentives to both producers and consumers of alternate energy. Canada does relatively nothing. Ironically many of the investors in the growing U.S. market are Canadian companies.

It is time for the government to join other developed countries to embrace wind energy and provide the financial incentives and investments needed for this valuable renewable energy source to flourish in this country.

Délégation Générale du Québec in ParisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased on behalf of my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois to draw to your attention the 40th anniversary of the Délégation générale du Québec in Paris.

Quebec's representation in the city of light bears witness to the special relationship between Quebecers and their French cousins. In matters of culture, business, education or tourism, the Délégation générale du Québec in Paris promotes and spreads Quebec culture in France.

Such is its importance that the members of the delegation were the first representatives of a non sovereign state to enjoy the privileges and diplomatic immunity normally reserved for sovereign countries. This points to the importance of our mutually beneficial relationship.

Be it through the Office franco-québécois pour la jeunesse, the Association Québec-France, the thousands of French students who have studied in Quebec and the thousands of Quebecers, myself included, who have completed their education in France or the annual summits of our first ministers, to give but a few examples, our two peoples are showing the entire world the special place we hold in each other's heart.

YukonStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with great anticipation. Many members have noticed a new dynamism in the north. One foundation of this is the Yukon devolution transfer agreement which the government has tabled today.

The transfer agreement sets out the terms and conditions for transferring the administration and control over lands and resources from the Government of Canada to the government of Yukon. It will soon be followed by legislation to implement these changes.

Mr. Speaker, on this day, I am proud to be the member for Yukon.

The government has worked hard to bring devolution to this point. Yukoners will soon be able, as other Canadians, to make decisions locally regarding their land and resources.

The DTA contains provisions to ensure that devolution does not abrogate or derogate from the aboriginal, treaty or other rights of first nations or any fiduciary obligations of the crown to aboriginal people derived from treaties, constitutional provisions, legislation, common law or express undertakings.

This is an important day for all Yukoners and all Canadians. I hope the House will join me in saluting everyone who worked so hard on this agreement.

TradeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, two sugar refineries have closed in Canada and more will be closing out west if action is not taken now.

Bill C-32, the act to implement the free trade agreement with Costa Rica, cannot be viewed in isolation of the North American and global context since it would provide Costa Rica with substantial immediate duty free access and a phase out of Canada's refined sugar tariff.

The reciprocal provisions in the agreement would not provide Canadian sugar with any commercial export opportunity. Sugar should be excluded from such regional negotiations to prevent further job losses and refinery closures in Canada. The sugar deal with Costa Rica will set a precedent with upcoming negotiations with Central America.

Canada's sugar market is already the most open in the world. Our sugar industry does not depend on any domestic or export subsidies or other trade distorting policies. Our modest 8% tariff is important until the big players including the U.S. and EU reform their sugar policies. What is in question is not free trade but fair trade.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, two former deputy ministers of immigration, one of them being Tom Kent, a former key adviser to Prime Ministers Trudeau and Pearson, are saying that the 1985 Singh decision of the supreme court has been a disaster for our refugee system. The Singh decision gives anyone who can put their toe onto Canadian soil the same charter rights as a Canadian citizen. That leads to long delays and backlogs for genuine refugee claimants.

Even the Minister of Foreign Affairs, when he was in Washington last month, said this decision needs to be reviewed. Does the Prime Minister agree with deputy ministers Tom Kent and Jack Manion and his own Minister of Foreign Affairs that the Singh decision must be changed?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am happy with the question because there is at this moment, in front of committees, debate about the security of the nation and the changes in the laws. The debate can go on there.

Of course we want to have a good system of refugee laws in Canada. At the same time we do not want anybody to use the refugee system to abuse Canadian hospitality.

In fact we have two committees that at this time are looking at these laws. We welcome the suggestions that could come from these committees.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I am not asking the committee. I am asking the Prime Minister.

Two former deputy ministers of immigration and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have acknowledged the need for the Singh decision to be changed. As it stands, it allows all refugee claimants the same rights of appeal as Canadian citizens.

Why does the Prime Minister not overturn this decision, which is a threat to our security and of no help whatsoever to true refugees?