Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a couple of minutes to talk about a related issue. I will be speaking specifically to the NDP motion in just a second.
I wish to clarify something, because I have had this question asked of myself having been the chief critic for the Reform Party and now the Canadian Alliance. It is the issue of the truthfulness of the Prime Minister's Office with respect to his involvement at APEC and the APEC pepper spray events.
I wish to clarify and to be very precise. The protection provided by the police forces for international persons who were in Quebec City, as they did at APEC and as they did at every other event in Canada, was excellent. There have been some events where they have gone over the top, but when one is in a riot situation there will be situations where people will go over the top.
My position and the position of our party with respect to APEC is that the riot and the pepper spraying that went on there had nothing to do with the actions of the police. That will be something that the public complaints commission will decide under the leadership of the public complaints commissioner. It had everything to do with whether the Prime Minister's Office was forthcoming about whether the Prime Minister was actually involved in the event. That is an important distinction to make.
I would like to use two examples to speak specifically to the NDP motion. I would like to use two examples of how chapter 11 is supposed to work and why it is there. They are pure fabrications.
In British Columbia we have a very large multinational corporation from New Zealand that has a stake in our forest industry. We also have, as a result of the low exchange rate the government constantly gives us, a major B.C. corporation which has been taken over by a U.S. concern.
These companies enter Canada with funding operations and capital. Do they have the right as foreign owners to anticipate, given the rules with respect to logging and forestry practices and all of the other things that surround the rules and regulations, they would be treated in exactly the same way as a Canadian based corporation would be treated?
We have Canadian workers working for Weyerhaeuser Canada Ltd. and Fletcher Challenge. Should those workers and corporations be treated any differently than the workers working for West Fraser, Interfor or Canfor?
The names I am bandying around are to show that within the forest industry in British Columbia there is a potpourri of ownership. I submit that any domestic or foreign corporation investing in the forest industry in British Columbia should anticipate that the rules and regulations of the B.C. forest practices code will be applied equally.
It makes no difference which corporation by virtue of its ownership is doing it. It makes a big difference to the workers within the forest industry, which is so important to British Columbia. It is equally important to the workers in every other industry in Canada.
I will go to the other extreme. We should expect in return what we give. I assume that under the FTAA there is an article 11 type of mechanism included. What difference would that make for the people who are in the mining industry in my constituency?
My constituency happens to produce the majority of the metallurgical coal for export from Canada. There are about 12,000 people directly impacted by coal production in my constituency. There is also at the tag end of its life what was the largest lead-zinc deposit in the entire Commonwealth in Kimberley and under Cominco.
Why would we want to see a chapter 11 on behalf of people working in the mining industry in my constituency? If Teck, Cominco, Canadian Pacific or any of the Canadian based corporations were to go with their mining expertise to Chile, Ecuador, Peru or Argentina, I would assume that having explored and having found an ore deposit the corporation would go into production. It would then end up putting a quarter of a billion, a half a billion or perhaps a billion dollars into the infrastructure required to actually work the ore deposit.
Let us assume that we do not have an article 11 in the FTAA and one of these nations very flippantly decides to bring in some special regulations against the Canadian based company. Suddenly this quarter billion, half billion or billion dollar investment by the Canadian corporation is standing in a very cold draft because one of these countries decided to pay special attention to the Canadian company.
Corporations must have the ability to protect themselves against capricious acts on the part of foreign governments. This is not to impute any ill will. It is simply to give some feeling of security when corporations invest funds.
I will extend that further. What does it mean to the workers at the mines in my constituency? In this fabricated case I will assume that the full billion dollars invested in Chile, Ecuador, Peru or Argentina was suddenly at risk. By putting the billion dollars invested in that ore deposit at risk, suddenly the cash flow of the multinational Canadian company is in jeopardy. It is in peril.
What would the company do? The company may very well have to pull back on its operations in Sparwood, Fernie, Elkford or any other place in Canada.
This is true of any corporation where we are talking about the free flow of capital around the world, of Canadian corporations having the opportunity to be able to invest as they see fit and of growing their businesses as they see fit. Corporations want to know that their money will not be in jeopardy.
Members of the NDP are always talking about the worker. I agree that the working people in Canada are exceptionally important. These people would be protected by virtue of the fact that their employers, by virtue of chapter 11, would have more surety knowing what would be happening within their domain of commerce.
It is only logical and reasonable that when money is to be invested, whether it is people coming into Canada with money or Canadian money going out of Canada to invest for the betterment of the Canadian company, those corporations would know what are the rules and that the foreign governments would not be able to act in a capricious way against them. That is all chapter 11 is about.
I am surprised that my friends in the New Democratic Party are not more prepared to work for some surety for the working people of Canada.