Mr. Speaker, it is ironic in speaking to the second reading of Bill C-50 that it is the hon. member for Vancouver Island North who should be speaking but guess what? The very qualified member is not with us today simply because it has to do with trade. It has to do with the breakdown in the WTO. I will come back to that later.
To complement what the minister said, whenever a company enters into a trade agreement there are two words that balance it. They both have five letters and they both begin with the letter t . One is trade and the other is trust. The two go together.
Opening up a trade agreement with a country as large as China means a great deal to both countries. It seems very appropriate at this time to recall that Canada does in the neighbourhood of $11 billion worth of trade every year with China. That is about $4 billion more than the total budget of the province in which I live. That gives some idea of what will happen with the implementation of the bill.
I agree with the minister. In the years to come the amount of trade with China will increase. However before we move on to more trade agreements, we are having severe difficulties in this country now with obligations, not Canadian obligations, but with other partners in the WTO and other partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Let us examine the purpose of the bill. The bill will amend the existing Canadian legislation allowing Canada to fully implement safeguards and anti-dumping rights that were agreed to when China came into the WTO. The safeguards will enable Canada to take temporary measures to protect Canadian industries.
Agriculture is one of the biggest industries in Canada. It certainly is the biggest industry where I come from. This industry is no longer protected. It was initially when we entered the WTO. It was 15 years ago. We were guaranteed it was going to be protected.
The other purpose of the bill is that in the event surges of imports from China could cost some industry, there is an agreement between the two countries.
Trade should bring trust. If we are trading with a nation, we must trust that nation. The more we trade with a nation, the more commonality we have in many respects.
Some people will call this simply a housekeeping bill. However the issue of deepening Canadian economic consultations with parliament on Canadian negotiating strategy in forums such as the World Trade Organization and a free trade agreement has not always been adequate. In looking at this bill, I feel that has been accomplished.
Parliament should be involved in ratifying agreements. It is good because it establishes a new economic relationship for Canada. Hopefully we will have new relationships with other countries.
About 15 years ago we in western Canada were told that if we got rid of the Crow rate agreement the other countries in the World Trade Organization would get rid of their subsidies at the same time. Let us make sure that is understood. Western Canadians were told if they gave up the Crow rate agreement on grain transportation which was guaranteed to them in legislation the other countries in the World Trade Organization, NAFTA and all the other agreements would drop their subsidies.
Let us look at what has happened. The industry in western Canada gave up that right. Yes, it was paid to do so. The payment it received was approximately one year's free freight. Since that time, for every bushel of grain produced on the prairies over a third of the price the farmer should get for the bushel has gone to transportation. As if that were not bad enough, the United States and the European common market have so abused the WTO that hundreds of farmers across the west are going broke.
As I mentioned at the outset, my hon. colleague from Vancouver North is not here because of the softwood lumber dispute. Thousands of Canadians are out of work. Negotiations have been going on probably for five years but intensively for six months. What has happened? Our gross national product has gone this way. What has happened as a result of these breakdowns? They have brought a lot of suffering to Canadians and particularly those in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba.
There are two important words: trust and trade. I hope the government recognizes it must be vigilant and protect Canadians. Even though we have signed treaties it appears, certainly where I live, that there is no protection whatsoever.
There are three main points in the bill that would establish safeguards in dealing with Chinese imports. First, product specific safeguards could be applied to any goods originating in China that were causing or threatening to cause injury to Canadian industry. That is a good point and it makes up a good portion of the bill.
Second, there is a safeguard in the bill to prevent one market from overflowing and flooding into Canada. That is a good safeguard.
Third, for the textile industry in Canada there are safeguards relating to textiles and clothing.
All these safeguards are built into the bill.
The Minister for International Trade listed some agricultural items while he was speaking but failed to mention one that strikes home with me. He failed to mention the pulse industry which has grown big in western Canada. On the Soo Line, one of Canada's busiest railways which is just north of the city of Estevan, farmers have built a huge pulse terminal which handles lentils, peas and all those things.
These farmers were rejoicing about Bill C-50 because it meant there would be more freedom to trade with China, one of their biggest customers. Canola farmers were excited about it because they would have an open market to their product from western Canada.
The United States has a farm bill before congress. If my understanding of the bill is correct, the pulse producers of western Canada would get it big time as have the wheat and barley producers.
I am not sure producers where I come from are that concerned about Bill C-50. We on this side of the House and in my party feel it is a good bill because its safeguards are prudent. The problem in Canada is more on the other side of the House.
I am not saying Canada can match the subsidy levels of Great Britain or Washington. However what has the government done in the last five years to honour its agreements to settle issues in the World Trade Organization and NAFTA and protect Canadian industries? That is the question. The answer is absolutely zero.
We in my party support the bill and think it is good. More bills like it should be written and expanded to other countries. However it still comes back to two words: trust and trade. Softwood lumber producers and other producers in western Canada no longer trust the government to go to bat for them so they too can have livelihoods.
I will read from the Canadian Alliance policy statement:
We support a foreign policy that protects Canada's sovereignty and independence, promotes our national interests (political, economic and strategic), contributes to collective security and defence, promotes democratic principles and human rights--
Knowing the history of China, particularly in the last 50 years, let us hope for the sake of millions of people that this trade policy would result in an expansion of human rights in that great nation.
The policy statement continues:
We will pay particular attention to maintaining good bilateral relations with our most significant trading partners.
When I mentioned at the outset that the bill would mean about $11 billion a year, we must be cognizant that close to $2 billion a day goes between Canada and the United States. We are being strangled in Canada today because our neighbours to the south have chosen confrontation rather than co-operation in trade agreements.
As the minister pointed out, China once had one of the biggest and fastest growing economies in the world. It could again be the biggest within a few short years. We on this side of the House would join with the government in welcoming China into the WTO.
It is significant that the trade agreement with China would not hinder in one way or another the trade we currently have with Taiwan. That is a blessing. Although it cannot officially be a member of the WTO, Taiwan co-exists within its framework. Trade between Taiwan and mainland China grows each year.
We in my party are pleased to support the bill. However I am deeply disturbed, as are my colleagues on this side of the House, at the government's lack of attention to the softwood lumber issue in the last 5 years and to western agriculture in the last 15 years. These two industries have been vitally hurt by the government. I hope the government can see fit to do something within its power to bring back the original agreements of the WTO.