Mr. Speaker, I join the Minister for International Trade in supporting the motion. I also commend the Bloc Quebecois for the admirable dedication to the cause of Canadian unity that the resolution exemplifies.
The issue of subsidies in the free trade of softwood lumber to the United States is one that is dear to the hearts of all British Columbians. It is an essential aspect of our economy and our social fabric.
When we look at the difference between forest practices in the United States and Canada, which is at the heart of any claim to subsidization, it is a matter of whether we have private land or public land logging. In Canada, as has been noted, 90% of logging is done on public land, with 10% on private land. In the United States it is the other way around, with private logging making up 90% of its logging practices.
The sustainability which the public demands in Canada of those logging practices is absolutely critical to the question of whether or not there are subsidies. It is also critical to the health of the economy, society and environment of Canada. Sustainability depends on a balance among those things. We simply will not have economic strength if we do not have social stability. We will not have social stability unless we have environmental integrity. We must keep those in balance.
In listening to the debate as I have with great interest today, I have been taken by the amount of unity across the country that has been expressed by many hon. members from different parties. In that spirit I want to make my next statement very gently. I simply observe that sometimes the failure from the left is that it believes government can do everything. Of course it cannot. Sometimes there could be a failure of the right as well while properly mistrusting big labour and big government but not sufficiently mistrusting big business.
That is particularly ironic given the fact that so much faith is put in the marketplace. The greatest threat to the marketplace and the cause of market failure is often uncompetitive practices and large monopolies. In the spirit of what we are saying in the House, I should like to touch on those two points.
In terms of the economic issues, we have heard of the large importance to Canada as a whole of softwood lumber exports to the United States. That is of particular interest and importance to British Columbia, making up approximately 47% of those exports, totalling almost $11 billion.
My hon. colleagues from Prince George—Bulkley Valley and Cariboo—Chilcotin have properly recognized the importance to their communities and resource based communities around British Columbia of sustainable support of this industry.
The forest industry in British Columbia has contributed greatly over the last decade to the forest management practices that we enjoy in British Columbia and demonstrate across Canada and around the world. These are not subsidized. Stumpage rates have been significantly increased, as well as forest practices over the past decade.
With the forest industry agreement in British Columbia, those extra stumpage charges have been dedicated to forest renewal, restoration of stream beds and replanting, new research in forest sensitive forest practices, retraining of forest workers into different jobs, and more sustainable practices. They are also dedicated toward value added manufacturing which is to be the lifeblood of the future of diversified economies in resource dependent communities. The forest industry resource based communities have all done their part in British Columbia to make sure that we continue to enjoy economic strength from this vitally important industry.
Social stability in communities, in British Columbia and Canada as a whole is based on economic strength not only in resource based communities but for the general public. The issues of health care, education, social structure and infrastructure are dependent on a strong economy. The resource based economies, the forest industry above all, is the lifeblood of that economic strength in many parts of Canada, particularly British Columbia.
Let me turn to the environmental balance which is so critically important and which underlies the strength of the argument that we do not have subsidies, certainly in British Columbia or anywhere else in Canada.
Over the entire last century we have taken on the responsibility of the idea of sustainable yield logging. However, in the last 20 years, the meaning of what that total yield should be has changed as we have gone to integrated resource management. We look to all interests of society in the integrity of the environment and to non-forest product uses for our forests. This is reflected in the cost of doing business.
Forest companies in British Columbia and across Canada are required to go through detailed planning processes that usually involve multiparty planning processes which adds considerably to their costs but to the balance to be brought to those multiple uses of the forests. They must observe very high logging standards in terms of road building, stream side protection and reforestation.
We do not deforest in Canada. We replant all our forests. Those forests are not all the forests. We protect other values like old growth values and parks. We have doubled the amount of parks from 6% to 12% in British Columbia over the last eight years. This is one of the costs that goes into our logging practices which eliminates any argument of subsidy.
We have heard comments and concerns, properly placed, that logging practices and subsidies to industry not destroy our environment. The worry from the NDP is that perhaps free trade of the Americas, if not NAFTA, may contribute to the destruction of our forest ecosystems. That need not be so and I do not believe it is so in British Columbia or across the country.
What we have in NAFTA is an environmental parallel agreement for environmental co-operation which allows non-governmental organizations to challenge governments, in much the same way the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas spoke of in international corporations challenging governments under chapter 11 of NAFTA. That is available under the commission for environmental co-operation at the NAFTA environmental commission.
When we look to Quebec City and free trade of the Americas, environment and labour conditions will be parallel agreements to any agreement that Canada signs. In addition to those that are included in NAFTA, there will be agreements on human rights, democratic development and education. Free trade of the Americas as negotiated in Quebec City will build on the experience of NAFTA, the importance of environmental integrity and the effective enforcement of environmental standards which Canada is bound by and which underline the non-subsidy in terms of our forest practices.
We have a healthy industry in the country. We are economically and socially dependent upon it and it must continue. I am very pleased to support the resolution for a Canadian unified position behind its forest industry with all the integrity it practises to accomplish fair trade access to American markets.