House of Commons Hansard #88 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

10 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec


Paul Martin Liberalfor the Minister for International Trade

moved that Bill C-32, an act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

London—Fanshawe Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to address Bill C-32 which would implement the Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement.

This agreement is an important step forward on several levels. To begin with, the success of this endeavour clearly demonstrates that free trade agreements can be negotiated between larger and smaller economies. That bodes well for the future of the free trade area of the Americas.

At the same time, this agreement will open up a new market with exciting potential for Canadian exporters. It also includes precedent setting chapters in the areas of trade facilitation and competition policy.

The Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement includes side agreements on the environment and labour that are an important improvement on those found in earlier agreements.

I am especially pleased that we have concluded an agreement with Costa Rica, sometimes called the Switzerland of Central America. As a country of some 3.9 million citizens with no military and longstanding, democratic institutions, Costa Rica has been an important beacon of stability in Central America. With a large percentage of its budget devoted to education and health care, Costa Rica's future looks very bright.

Canada and Costa Rica share similar political cultures, placing primacy on respect for the rule of law, democracy, respect for human rights and the environment. Our relationship with Costa Rica has been one of longstanding co-operation, trust and mutual benefit. Formal trade relations between our two countries date back more than 50 years to a bilateral commercial agreement concluded in 1950. Since then our relationship has developed steadily. A free trade agreement will only make it stronger.

Both countries' citizens will be able to share in the prosperity that freer trade creates. Already our bilateral trade with Costa Rica has seen an average annual growth of over 6% in the last five years with a 7% increase in exports and a 5% increase in imports. The FTA will accelerate this growth.

Although our bilateral trading relationship is small, approximately $270 million, this number is rising rapidly. Indeed, there was a 25% jump in our exports in the year 2000. It is also worth mentioning that we have invested about $500 million in Costa Rica.

Canadians are quick to seize an opportunity which could explain the enthusiastic response to the extensive consultations that were concluded regarding this initiative. The response from Canadians was strong and indicated support for pursuing an FTA with Costa Rica. It should also be noted that a significant number of small and medium sized enterprises expressed an interest in such an agreement. For them, numbers like $270 million, our bilateral trade with Costa Rica last year, are very large indeed. Their support is not surprising considering that there are considerable opportunities in the Costa Rican market for many Canadian goods, including automotive products, prefabricated buildings, some fish products and a number of agricultural products.

The improved access we will gain with this FTA will give Canadian businesses an edge in Costa Rica, particularly over foreign competitors who do not have preferential access to the Costa Rican market. As our businesses that benefited from preferential access through the Canada-Chile FTA could tell us, getting into a market first matters.

The agreement will include immediate elimination of Costa Rican tariffs on most Canadian industrial exports. It is expected that over 90% of Canada's current agriculture and agri-food exports to Costa Rica will realize market access benefits.

Canada and Costa Rica believe that a commitment to environmental and labour co-operation along with the effective enforcement of domestic laws should go hand in hand with trade liberalization. That is why, in addition to the FTA, two complementary co-operation agreements on the environment and labour were negotiated in parallel.

These parallel agreements are practical and reflect the scope of our relationship with Costa Rica.

They are also designed to promote values shared by both countries, such as the rule of law and sustainable development.

Considering the benefits I have mentioned, as well as many others, it is not surprising that free trade enjoys widespread support in this country. As I am sure everyone in the House knows, to the chagrin of some I might add, the vast majority of Canadians, more than 70% in fact, support freer trade. They recognize that increased trade is a prerequisite for economic growth and Canada's continued prosperity and social well-being.

The statistics demonstrate that this is true. In the year 2000 Canada's exports of goods and services represented over 45% or almost half of our GDP, a substantially higher proportion than that of our major trading partners. This share is up from 43% in 1999 and up considerably from just 28% in 1990.

Some 80% of the over two million new jobs created since the government took office in 1993 can be attributed to our increased trade. That means that one in every three jobs in Canada is now linked directly to our success in international trade. One in every three jobs is directly related to our success in international trade. That is so important that it bears repeating.

Most of our exports are now high value-added goods and services: telecommunications, aerospace, software, environmental technologies and other areas of the new economy.

Many Canadian companies, including small and medium sized firms and their employees, depend on trade for their growth and success. Trade puts money in the pockets of Canadians who teach in our schools, work in our factories and run our hospitals. As well, Canadian consumers and producers can obtain a broader choice of cheaper and better goods and services through trade. To put it simply, trade translates into better and higher paying jobs and increased opportunity and prosperity for all Canadians.

I would like to turn now to the importance of new WTO negotiations which have been the subject of increased attention and some concern over the past few days. Given the growing importance of trade to the Canadian economy, it is obviously in our interest to have clearly understood and widely accepted rules to ensure that we are not left subject to the whims of larger and more powerful economies.

A rules based trading system also gives Canadian companies access to larger markets abroad, while at home these companies can take advantage of global economies of scale and maintain or increase employment in their communities. Canada's continued prosperity depends on an open and healthy global economy. That is why we strongly support the launch of new WTO negotiations.

Although differences over an expanded negotiating agenda remain, most WTO members are seeking a launch of new negotiations at the next ministerial meeting scheduled to take place in November in Doha, Qatar. In Canada's view, expanded negotiations should improve access to emerging world markets and ensure trade rules keep pace with changes in technology and business practices.

We are working closely with our trading partners, including the United States, the EU, Japan and key developing countries to build support for new negotiations.

WTO members have many challenging issues left to resolve before Doha, but I believe, with political will on all sides, we can make good progress in bridging the differences among members. A new round offers our best hope to gain access to dynamic new markets and to both expand and strengthen the rules based system which has worked so well for Canada.

I would also like to say that in light of the tragic events that took place recently in the United States, I firmly believe that it is more important now than ever to pursue the goal of worldwide trade liberalization.

Bob Zoellick, the United States trade representative, has recently stated that trade reinforces openness, opportunity, democracy and compassion. I think Canadians overwhelmingly endorse that statement. I believe, as he does and as does the Minister for International Trade, that the WTO meeting in Doha should proceed so that the world trading system can continue to promote international growth, development and openness.

The many benefits of free trade are evident on a regional level. Canada's continued engagement with regional trade agreements such as NAFTA and more recently the FTAA are critical to our collective economic prosperity and social well-being. With a combined population of 800 million people and a GDP of some $17 trillion, the Americas is one of the fastest growing markets in the world in terms of consumers and growth in per capita income.

The FTAA represents an historic opportunity to unite the countries of the hemisphere in a comprehensive free trade area that would contribute to job creation and growth throughout the region, including Canada. That is one of the reasons we are enthusiastic supporters of the FTAA negotiations now under way and why Canada continues to play an active leadership role in the negotiations.

The FTAA would create greater prosperity throughout the entire region. Poorer countries of the hemisphere would have the opportunity not only to improve their economic situations through trade and investment but to begin to address the real problems of poverty, crime, environmental degradation, threats to democracy and human rights.

I will quote from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's report to the preparatory committee for the high level international intergovernmental event on financing for development.

The secretary general was speaking of the important benefits of freer trade to less developed and developing countries which are struggling to enjoy the benefits we in Canada and other countries enjoy. This is exactly what he said:

There is now widespread acceptance that, in the long run, the expansion of international trade and integration into the world economy are necessary instruments for promoting economic growth and reducing and eradicating poverty...Estimates of the potential gains in developing countries from a variety of liberalization measures range from $100 to $150 billion. There are thus large gains to be captured by developing countries from continued liberalization in goods markets.

I have heard it argued by a minority of Canadians and a minority of members of the House that free trade is somehow bad for the poorer countries of the world. They argue that it is a trick meant to take advantage of poor nations while benefiting only wealthier countries like Canada and the United States.

Many of my colleagues and I sat in the Chamber and heard the prime minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, state the same sentiments as the UN secretary general. He said we must challenge false accusations about liberalized and globalized freer trade. He said that in his view as prime minister of a major country freer trade is fundamental to helping poorer nations develop their economies.

Those were not popular statements with a minority of Canadians and some members of parliament on the far left. Nonetheless the facts support them. An independent person like Kofi Annan, whose statement I quoted, cannot be dismissed as someone who does not understand the reality of the global trading system. Poorer countries of the world stand to gain immeasurably by liberalized and globalized trade if we go about it in a careful and fair minded way. That is what Canada is strongly committed to.

Canada is also committed to pursuing technical assistance programming for the Caribbean and Central America to help countries build their capacities for trade, investment and financial stability. At the same time, Canadians have invested $54.8 billion in the nine NAFTA countries of the Americas. Canadian investment in those countries increased sixfold over the past decade. This means that more Canadian money is flowing into South and Central America and the Caribbean.

The Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreement is a symbol of our long term commitment to the hemisphere. It will help advance negotiations leading to the free trade area of the Americas. The agreement will provide much needed insight into how to address the needs of smaller and more vulnerable regional economies.

In the end our efforts to liberalize trade on the multilateral, regional, and, as in the case of Costa Rica, bilateral level will all lead to the same goal: a more open and rules based trading system which will benefit all economies and nations of the world, a system in which there are only winners and no losers. That is what Canada is strongly committed to. Such a result would greatly benefit the people of Canada and people around the world.

I sincerely hope members of the House will support the legislation. Concerns have been expressed about it already, even by some of my colleagues. We are quite prepared to hear and address those concerns. However let us make no mistake. Canada is a free trading nation. We stand by that and support Bill C-32.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter the debate today on Bill C-32 which gives considerable detail to expanding free trade. I will set out a preamble to my comments today and say that in general members of my party and I are supportive of free trade. It is in fact our party policy.

We have another adjective we use with respect to trade. Trade should not only be free, that is free from tariffs, countervailing duties and all those things. It should also be fair. That is unfortunately where the Liberal government often fails. It is imperative that we vigorously defend Canadian industries.

The government does not have a good record for doing that with other commodities, including agricultural commodities. The government has often entered into agreements without enough forethought about the implications. As a result it backs itself into a corner and we in the country suffer enormously.

I cannot help but digress to the whole question of western Canadian farmers and the tariffs and controls the government has put on grain marketing over the years. Canadian farmers are not able to market their product at the best price. Instead the government controls it. It is almost an inverse Zellers' law. Zellers says the lowest price is the law. The Government of Canada has told farmers the worst deal for them is the law. That is unfortunate.

The government is making the same error with Bill C-32 in that it is not giving enough thought to the long term effects. There are a few things we ought to be aware of. Bill C-32 would expand free trade with Costa Rica. It outlines a 10 year plan. Some tariffs would be reduced in stages over 10 years and others would come into play rapidly.

It should be noted that we already have a free trade agreement with Chile. There is also NAFTA which is about seven years old. The purpose of these free trade agreements is to give Canadian producers better access to foreign markets and give our trading partners abroad better access to our market.

A problem arises. Canada for some reason has gone ahead of all the other countries in the agreement by being the only country to refuse to substantially subsidize its producers. All the other countries subsidize, in some cases very richly, their producers of agriculture and food products. Canada is way down the list, almost at zero. When it comes to sugar producers, subsidies from the Canadian government are essentially zero. Yet the other countries subsidize them.

How are we to compete? It is impossible. That is common sense. It should not escape Liberal members of the House and the Liberal government.

If there is another country competing with our producers and its producers are being substantially subsidized over and above what Canadian producers are, that puts our guys at a huge disadvantage. It is as if we were to enter a race and we were to say to our athletes that we would like them to carry an extra 50 pounds. I guess I already have mine and that is why they do not enter me into Olympic races, because it is a bit of a disadvantage.

Canadian producers are operating under this disadvantage. They are working against a trade barrier of price because of the fact that producers in other countries like the United States and those in Central America substantially subsidize their producers. As a result, our people have to be very efficient to compete, which they are, but in many cases they lose out on the fight.

We should be aware that 80% of the products that Costa Rica exports to Canada, and we are talking about fruits and vegetables, coffee and coal, already at this stage enter Canada duty free. Therefore the market in Canada is already largely open to Costa Rica. Canada of course is now looking to expand its market into Costa Rica, so in that sense it is a good initiative because if it already has so much duty free access to our market then it only makes sense that we should negotiate with Costa Rica to remove its tariffs to give Canadian producers access to that market.

Unfortunately this is done sector by sector. Sometimes we fail to recognize that when we are in a trading agreement like this we must have all of the food on the platter at the same time. We cannot make a deal commodity by commodity and then in the end land up with a few commodities left that were not negotiated, because consequently we are unable, because we have lost our bargaining position, to get a really good deal for our own producers.

It just so happens that in the year 2000 Canada exported to Costa Rica approximately $86 million worth of goods. In that same year we imported from Costa Rica $183 million worth. At this stage, then, we have basically a net loss in income as a country because of the fact that while Costa Rica spends $86 million a year here we spend $183 million there. That is fine because it allows us to bring into this country products which we need and which are saleable here, but we must recognize that those products are also competing with those of Canadian producers and Canadian processors.

One of the areas of much concern to us as a party is the impact on the sugar industry. One of the fond memories that I have of being a youngster growing up in Saskatchewan, and which young people of today would not have any knowledge of at all, is that there used to be metal pails of Rogers Golden Syrup. It is probably the best syrup in the world. If I recall correctly most of the sugar beets that produced that syrup were grown in southern Alberta and some in British Columbia. If I am not mistaken, the processing refineries for this sugar were actually in eastern Canada, in Ontario and Quebec. At any rate, we had this syrup and it was a wonderful product. In fact I would hasten to surmise that perhaps Rogers Golden Syrup has had a significant contribution in making me into the man I am today, and I mean that in a humorous sense of that word, because we used that syrup a lot in our home.

Rogers syrup came in little 10 pound pails that when empty became our lunch buckets that we carried to school. Nowadays this of course would never be done. Nowadays the youngsters have designer lunch kits. However in those days we were not different from our neighbours. We were poor and we made use of everything we had. When the pails were empty they became our lunch buckets and we walked to school carrying these pails with Rogers Golden Syrup written on them. They contained our sandwiches or whatever our mother produced for us for the day.

We can see that the history of the Canadian sugar industry is a long one, not that I am terribly old, but we are talking about 50 years ago at least. Even at that time the syrup was a wonderful, very good, high quality product.

At this stage, as far as I know, Costa Rica does not have any substantial amount of output in actually refining and processing its sugar. This means very simply that the tariff on sugars, which is designed to protect the market in whatever country, is very one sided. In fact, the United States and most Latin American countries have an import tariff on their sugar ranging anywhere from 50% to 160%. In other words, when we export that product our people have to be very efficient in order to compete in those markets since there is an automatic price added to our product as it crosses a border.

My biggest complaint about Bill C-32 is that there is not nearly a rapid enough or substantial enough removal of those tariffs that tend to inhibit the flow of our product into the other countries. As a matter of fact, knowing the way the Liberal government operates I can see that in the future, perhaps under CIDA or some other of our other wonderful plans, we would actually be helping Costa Rica build a processing plant so that it could process its sugar there and export it to Canada duty free. If we try to do that with our product when sending it there, we will have a tariff to pay in various stages for at least 10 years. There is no guarantee, as I see it in the bill, that the tariff would ever be removed.

Why would we not negotiate on this issue in such a way that it is fair for Canadians instead of lopsided? We may have all sorts of altruistic motives in this matter. Perhaps we want to help the Costa Rican people. I have no problem with that. Sure, let us help them, let us trade with them, but if we are to compete let us compete on a level playing field.

I hasten to point out that this agreement could become a template for future agreements with some of the other Central American countries. If we do not fix this problem, it will be embedded in the agreements with countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. Each of those countries not only has some considerable capacity to refine their sugar and to export it, but they also have large subsidies.

For the life of me I cannot see why we would not, while we are negotiating these tariffs, also make sure that we do not repeat the errors that we made with wheat agreements. We should say very clearly that if we remove tariffs they must remove their subsidies. We did not do this with wheat. That is why the United States, still subsidizing its farmers substantially more than Canada, is a very unfair trading partner with respect to the sale and the movement of Canadian products.

In Canada with respect to wheat we have the barrier of the wheat board which applies, by the way, only to the prairie provinces. Go figure that one. Why should wheat producers in Ontario or Quebec or Atlantic Canada be able to sell their grain without going through the wheat board? If the wheat producers happen to be in Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta the mighty thumb of the federal government is on top of them. If they try to make a move they go to jail. That is scary. We have actually had our own government, not the importing country, not the United States, put our own farmers in jail because of their attempts to sell their own products at a price that is better and more immediate as opposed to what the wheat board offers.

In negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States did we insist that it remove its subsidies? No. Consequently it has them. Consequently our farmers are operating at a disadvantage.

Now we have Canada making this agreement with Costa Rica and looking ahead at some of the other countries with which we will undoubtedly be processing a trade agreement . We are in favour of that, but we had better make sure that we put all of the elements on the negotiating table, not just the tariffs and the free trade. Let us also very clearly specify and demand as a condition that the subsidization be included in those negotiations and that the subsidization be removed. How can we compete?

A number of years ago I had a friend who sold one brand of imported Japanese vehicles in Canada. Along came another importer from Korea. The Canadian government for some reason exempted the Korean manufacturer's automobiles from some of the import tariffs. As a result it became a very unfair playing field, just because of the negotiations of the government.

We need to make sure that all Canadians in these trade agreements are treated fairly.

We should also note that right now, to the best of my knowledge, every country in the Americas, Central America and South America, and including the United States, subsidizes its farmers except Canada. At least to put it this way, their subsidies are much higher in proportion. We are remiss in our duties to our own people if we do not make sure that these tariffs are not stacked against us in view of those duty free agreements.

I would also like to say that there is a considerable movement of agricultural goods around the country and it is so important to Canada. It is my belief that approximately 80% of our food production is destined for export, so we had better have good trade agreements. We had better have fair tariffs. We had better make sure that our producers are protected.

As a matter of fact, our economic well-being is largely dependent on the export of those agricultural products. For every $100 worth of food that Canadian farmers produce we Canadians consume only about $20 worth of it and $80 of it goes to feed people in other parts of the world. That is great. We should be very proud of that.

I happen to come from an agricultural community. I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. To this day my brother farms on the family farm and on more land he has added. We often speak in our family of the contribution that we have made in providing food not only for Canadians but also for people around the world. One of the great things that some of our people have done in Saskatchewan, and I think this happens in other parts of the country as well, is that farmers have actually given some of their surplus as a donation to some of the third world countries where people are starving because of a lack of food when we have so much.

It behooves our government to make sure that we have a market for the food we produce for export, but it has to be done fairly.

We had a considerably lengthy and interesting debate last night on agriculture. I do not think we adequately recognize that a good, solid, secure food source is a very important base of our national security. If we were ever to lose our agriculture industry, and I mean all agriculture, our food producing sources, the farmers and fishermen, and our infrastructure to process food, we would suddenly no longer enjoy the security of a plentiful and safe food supply.

It is incumbent upon on us as a country, especially in these troubling days, to make sure that our producers and processors can survive and be strong economically and in their businesses. We need to make sure we do not jeopardize that in any way.

I am inclined right now to vote against the bill simply because it is not good enough. I absolutely love the idea of free trade and being able to export our food around the world. I love the idea that we can provide it to those who do not have as much we do. However let us make sure that we do not hobble our own farmers. We should not attach a weight to their ankles.

This is just a small diversion. In the agreement dairy, poultry, egg and beef products are excluded from this present provision. Presumably that will come at some future time in some future agreement, but it is not included now.

I think I have laid my case in front of the House and the Canadian people. It is very important that in this instance our government be given a message. It should go back to the bargaining table. It should strengthen the protection of our sugar industry. It is not there now. Unless we change that, I cannot vote in favour of the bill because of that very serious and fatal flaw.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, before beginning, I ask for the House's unanimous consent to share my time with the hon. member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Could the hon. member please tell me if he wishes to split the 40 minutes allocated to him into two periods of 20 minutes?

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Yes, exactly.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the member for Saint-Hyacinthe--Bagot have the unanimous consent of the House to share his speaking time with his colleague for Hochelaga--Maisonneuve?

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members


Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for agreeing to my proposal to share our speaking time on this important debate.

Indeed, this is an important debate. Each time Canada signs a free trade agreement with another country, it is, in theory, excellent news, because when these agreements are carefully negotiated, and especially when we have been able to have some input, they pave the way for improved bilateral or multilateral trade.

These free trade agreements and multilateral agreements also contain a certain amount of discipline, which is quite welcome, given that over the last 50 years we have experienced some extremely turbulent times in international trade, with subsidy wars and price wars, particularly in the agricultural sector, as my colleague from the Alliance mentioned earlier.

Therefore, in theory, we can only applaud each time an agreement is signed to civilize trade, to ensure that there are clear rules, and to improve trade, employment and investment opportunities.

There are, however, three problems in this agreement between Canada and Costa Rica. Despite our support of it in principle, these three problems are worth raising. Perhaps the government, if it is open, if it as smart as it claims to be, could remedy them readily.

The first problem is the lack of transparency as far as the negotiation of free trade agreements is concerned. This applies to the agreement between Canada and Costa Rica, it applies to all other agreements, of which there have been many in recent years.

The second problem concerns the provisions relating to investments. We have frequently criticized these provisions within NAFTA and now we find them again in the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Costa-Rica.

The third, one that crops up every time there are negotiations, even for the entire 50 years there have been negotiations for GATT, the WTO, and bilateral agreements, concerns the international distribution of the sugar market. A dangerous precedent was set with negotiations between the Canadian and Costa Rican governments.

As far as the first problem is concerned, that is the lack of transparency and a certain lack of democratic spirit on the government's side, people are becoming somewhat annoyed by it.

On the one hand, we have a government that claims to be democratic and, particularly since the dramatic events of September 11 in the United States, a defender of democracy, freedom and democratic institutions.

Yet every time there are negotiations on free trade agreements, bilateral or multilateral, or any other—and their numbers are increasing with each passing year—parliament, the direct expression of our democratic system, is not involved.

And every time an attempt is made, particularly by my colleague from Joliette, who is the Bloc Quebecois trade critic, to introduce bills here to ensure that parliament is consulted at every stage of trade treaty negotiations, every time those bills have been introduced, they have been roundly rejected by the Liberals.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

An hon. member


Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

In other words, the Liberal members—each of them—who claim to represent the public, do not even want the public involved. And yet, the agreements increasingly concern, not only international trade and the economic terms of trade, but culture, services, education and even health. These are things that affect the public directly.

So, how can they have the gall to deny us the right to properly, honestly and vigorously represent the public who put us here in this House? It is disgraceful. And it is not for lack of trying to teach our Liberal colleagues the values of democracy, the fact that parliament is the ultimate symbol of these values and that parliamentarians ought to be included at all stages of negotiation.

Five times my party, and the member for Joliette specifically, introduced bills calling for the participation of the public and MPs at all stages of the negotiation process for any trade agreement. There are many. In 1998, to give an idea of what is involved, Canada signed 44 agreements with different countries. This year, some 50 agreements are expected to be signed. This is not insignificant.

When government talks of globalization and says it will increasingly determine the direction national governments take and affect our daily lives, the least if could do would be to include the public and, first and foremost, parliamentarians.

The first bill introduced by the Bloc Quebecois concerned this. It asked as well that all treaties be tabled in the House for debate, prior to their ratification, specifically to avoid the government's presenting flawed agreements, as we have seen, containing things that do not suit the majority of the people and that require more work.

No one is going to convince me that the Minister for International Trade, despite what he claims, is the source of all truth. However, he, without consulting anyone, decides with a few officials what they are going to involve the Canadian and Quebec public in by signing this sort of treaty.

In the private members bills we introduced in this House, we asked that the provinces be consulted as well. Why? Because, increasingly, as I mentioned earlier, international treaties do not involve just the economy and trade. They concern education, health and all other services provided to the public. The areas of jurisdiction involved are often exclusively those of Quebec and the other provinces.

The provinces then find themselves in a bind, because a single minister along with a few public officials negotiated, on their behalf, international treaties that concern their jurisdictions. They find themselves in a bind because they have to implement these agreements, and moral pressure is exerted on them if they decide not to do so. If we find this acceptable, then it follows that anything goes in this parliament.

Whenever such bills were introduced, we always asked for transparency with a capital T. We asked for public hearings on the progress of negotiations, we asked that the public be kept informed of these negotiations and of their content, and we asked that the impact of these negotiations on the daily lives of people be explained. But the Liberals rejected all our requests for transparency, in a negotiation process that ought normally to be open and accessible to the public.

What does the government have to hide? What are the government and the pedantic minister up to, when they show us an agreement after it has been negotiated, signed and approved and tell us “Vote in favour, all you have to do is approve it. This is your only role in this parliament”? The members who sit here, who represent Quebecers and Canadians, are only here to rubber-stamp things. We are all here to approve the agreement once everything has been negotiated without our input and without knowing the terms of the agreement before it is signed by Canada and the other country. This is unacceptable. Things are worse since 1993. The process is even less transparent since the Liberals came to office in 1993.

But the number of agreements is growing; more and more of them are being signed every year. And this trend will continue, because globalization is now a given. It is in our interests to negotiate agreements with all countries of the world.

It seems to me that it would be easy to have a little more transparency, to be guided by a stronger sense of democracy than that which has guided this government in the hundreds of international agreements it has signed since 1993.

We all remember what happened with the MAI, the multilateral agreement on investment. For two years, an agreement on investment was negotiated, behind closed doors, between the world's richest nations, the OECD nations. Had the principles in this agreement not been condemned by Lionel Jospin, in France, and by ordinary citizens, who mounted a campaign over the Internet, which is now a global link, no one would have known a thing about it until after it was ratified by 28 OECD nations. This multilateral agreement on investment would have been disastrous.

It would have meant that governments worldwide would have had their hands tied by transnationals, by multinationals, which have no interest in the common good. As for investments, these companies would have controlled all the countries who signed this terrible agreement.

Yet the Minister for International Trade told us that he would consult Quebecers and Canadians. As recently as last January, he said that consultation of Canadians is an ongoing process, which is an integral part of Canadian trade policy.

Where is this consultation? Where is this consultation at all stages of the process of negotiations with countries with whom Canada is signing trade agreements? Where is this consultation with parliament, whose members are democratically elected to represent the people of Quebec and of Canada?

We are used to the minister doing the opposite of what he says. At some point, he is no longer taken seriously; he no longer has any credibility. What are his statements and his promises worth when, a few months later, what happens is the complete opposite of what was said in the House? Where is his sense of dignity? Where is his conscience as a member, if he has one? So much for investments.

Since I see that my time is running out, I will resume after oral question period.

Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member for his co-operation. Moving to Statements by Members. The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.

Governor General's Performing Arts AwardsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, our governor general released the names of the recipients of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.

These awards celebrate Canadian performers who have made an exceptional contribution to the cultural life of Canada. Each year, they are presented to Canadian artists who have been nominated by members of their own performing arts community. They are selected from six fields: theatre; dance; classical music and opera; popular music; film; and broadcasting.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of these performing arts awards, and six great artists have been selected.

I know members will join with me in extending our warm congratulations to Anne-Claire Poirier, Diane Dufresne, Christopher Plummer, Mario Bernardi, Max Ferguson and Evelyn Hart.

They have all brought us both inspiration and enjoyment over the years, and as we celebrate with them we thank them for their outstanding contribution.

National Memorial DayStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Canadian Alliance Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the 24th Annual Canadian Memorial Service for Police and Peace Officers killed in the performance of duty will be conducted this Sunday on the steps of Parliament Hill.

Police and Peace Officers National Memorial Day is held on the last Sunday of September each year. This is a day to show respect for those honourable custodians of law, order and public peace who paid the supreme price with their lives while in service to the citizens of Canada.

The motto “To Serve and Protect” well describes their daily duty. The memorial on Parliament Hill attests to the tragic toll in personal human sacrifice adhering to this duty.

I am sure I speak for all parliamentarians when I say that our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who should be remembered not only this Sunday but all year long.

Herbert HomerStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all my colleagues I extend my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Herbert Homer, one of 26 Canadians who perished on September 11 when his airplane was hijacked and crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center.

Todd Burke, a friend, constituent, and a cousin to Herbert Homer, is one of many family members from across Canada deeply affected by this tragic loss. Todd had talked to his cousin only a few days before his death. They were looking forward to a family reunion in Ottawa before this brutal and senseless act of violence took away so many innocent lives.

The family asked me to share this moment with the House to remember Herbert Homer: a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend. To paraphrase a quote attributed to several authors “I am in every wind that blows and I am in the glitter of the snow. I died but I did not go”.

Our deepest condolences go out to the Burke and Homer families and their friends.

National Memorial DayStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, this Sunday, September 30, is Police and Peace Officers National Memorial Day. The ceremony at the Canadian Police Memorial Pavilion will recognize and honour the courage and sacrifice of officers killed in the line of duty.

I personally recognize Ontario Provincial Police officer Duncan MacAleese, my cousin, who was killed some years ago in the line of duty. To his wife Dorothy and their three sons, Shawn, Tom and Ian, and to my aunt, Ruby MacAleese, our deepest appreciation for their immense sacrifice.

I take this moment to let these officers and their families know that they are not forgotten and to give special acknowledgment to the officers and firefighters that we all lost on September 11.

International Translation DayStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, next Sunday will be International Translation Day. This year's theme is “Translation and Ethics--The ethical commitment of professional translators”.

International Translation Day was inaugurated by UNESCO and the International Federation of Translators. In today's global society there is a growing demand for language professionals.

Personally, I would like to point out the importance of the work done by the House of Commons translators.

Given this year's theme of translation and ethics, we particularly recognize and appreciate the confidentiality and impartiality of the House of Commons translators. Please join me in thanking all our language professionals for their good work.

G-8 SummitStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, now that the G-8 summit in Kananaskis is less than nine months away, security experts are calling out for the high powered gathering to be relocated.

In all my research I have yet to come across a security expert who feels that the isolation of Kananaskis is an asset in providing the required security for the world leaders attending this summit. They have stated that it would be foolhardy to hold a conference in such an isolated area since it is virtually impossible to secure the forest and the mountains.

Since there is only one access route, there could easily be bombs placed along the road as well as ambushes, just to name a few. This does not even begin to touch upon the concerns of property owners after seeing the violence of the protestors in Quebec and Italy.

My constituents are justifiably concerned that protestors may destroy their homes since there are simply not enough security personnel to cover such a vast area. I am asking and my constituents are begging the Prime Minister to relocate this summit while time is still on his side.

National Family WeekStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to draw attention to National Family Week, which will be October 1 to 7 this year. It is a week that provides us with the opportunity to acknowledge the importance and vitality of families in our society.

This year's theme is “Volunteering is a family affair. Connect with Kindness”. This being the International Year of Volunteers, the two part theme lets us call attention to the remarkable work of contributing to family solidarity.

The family, the foundation of our society, represents the roots of all Canadians. The events surrounding National Family Week will emphasize just how important families are.

St. Lawrence RiverStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Environment Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency published their 2001 report on the state of the Great Lakes.

This report reveals that the water quality of the St. Lawrence River is improving. Cleanup efforts are starting to yield results.

However, as an ecosystem, the river is deteriorating. On this subject, the report is disturbing. It reveals that wetland habitat continues to deteriorate. Urban sprawl, farming activities and air pollution still threaten the ability of plants and wildlife to renew themselves.

While the state of the Great Lakes is stabilizing, the St. Lawrence River watershed is particularly threatened. Some shoreline wetlands have completely dried up as a result of human activity and numerous bird and aquatic species are becoming endangered.

On behalf of all those who earn their living from the St. Lawrence River, and particularly on behalf of future generations, I wish to remind the House of how important it is that we urgently take action in order to preserve one of our environmental treasures.

Chris EganStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I too convey the sympathies of Nunavummiut, the people of Nunavut, to all affected, and especially to the family of Chris Egan and her brother who both perished in the south tower of the World Trade Center on September 11 in New York City.

During the 20 years Chris Egan spent in Nunavut as a nurse in Pond Inlet, Coral Harbour, Chesterfield Inlet and Rankin Inlet Chris contributed to the quality of life by her energetic and positive involvement in community activities such as the Girl Guides.

Arriving in Pond Inlet as a young nurse in the seventies, Chris always vowed she would one day do her Ph.D. This goal was attained by Chris in 1999. In keeping with her passion for the north, her thesis was on Inuit women's perception of pollution.

As far away as we are, we too were touched by this tragedy and many prayer services were held throughout Nunavut in support. The hearts and thoughts of Nunavummiut are with the Egan family and all the families of the victims of September 11.

National SecurityStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are concerned about security at our Canada-U.S. border. This week I received a shocking letter from a constituent whose husband, a truck driver, was re-entering Canada from the U.S. only hours after the tragic events of September 11. In her letter she states the following startling facts:

My husband was not asked for any form of identification, his country of residency, or his destination...and...the crossing was only about 250 miles from the horrible tragedy unfolding in New York City.

My constituent's questions to the government are: Why was this border crossing not asking the most basic identity questions before allowing someone into our country and why are we not doing more to keep Canada safe and secure?

In spite of what the Prime Minister says, Canadians are concerned that Canada has become a safe haven for terrorists. It is high time the government acted responsibly to ensure the safety of Canadians by moving quickly with effective security measures and the much needed anti-terrorism legislation.

Pierre Elliott TrudeauStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Serge Marcil Liberal Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 28, 2000, Canada was stunned by the death of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. One year later, Canadians are still affected by this great loss.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau left an indelible mark on our country. He shared his passion for Canada with each and every Canadian. He was a man who fully explored his ideas and dreams. He strove for a just and modern society in which everyone could thrive. He dreamed of a bilingual country that would respect diversity, of a country that would make its name in the world by defending liberty, peace and justice.

One year after his passing, it is fair to say that he will continue to have a place in the memory and history of Canadians. We will miss him for a very long time.

InfrastructureStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian economy is free falling into a recession. We have not seen a week with so many job losses and falling stocks since the early nineties. If ever there was a time that we needed a new infrastructure program it is now.

A new infrastructure program would accomplish two things. First, it would stimulate the economy by creating jobs and help avoid a recession. Second, it would address the long overdue repair and improvement that our national infrastructure desperately needs.

The Liberal government has been neglecting infrastructure for years now and that neglect is being felt around the country. In every province and territory we have highways that need improvement and public water systems that are not up to the demand. Our crumbling infrastructure must be improved.

On behalf of the New Democratic Party I call on the government to stop standing idly by while our economy continues to sink. It is time for a new comprehensive national infrastructure program.

Economic Development Agency of CanadaStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the art of keeping secrets seems increasingly to be the trademark of the Liberal government, and specifically the Secretary of State for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.

This week, a member of the Bloc asked the agency to provide the details of grants it had given in her riding. The answer given by the secretary of state's policy assistant was clear: this information was confidential, and access to information was the only way to get additional information.

The Bloc members are entitled to be informed of grants to businesses in their ridings, especially when the grants come from the taxes of Quebecers. This money does not belong to the Liberals and even less to the Minister of National Revenue.

The office of the Secretary of State for the Economic Development Agency of Canada is revealing itself increasingly to be a leviathan where keeping secrets reigns supreme.