House of Commons Hansard #177 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was microbreweries.


The House resumed from April 24 consideration of the motion that Bill C-50, an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization, be read the third time and passed.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, the House is considering putting in place a complex system for Canadian manufacturers of goods in order to lodge formal complaints if they believe they are receiving unfair competition from imports of similar goods made in the People's Republic of China. It is called Bill C-50.

How do my hon. colleagues think there could be fair competition between Canada and China, where workers' rights and job safety are far behind that of Canada, where child labour is still widespread, where permits and regulatory control are routinely bypassed by means of graft and corruption of government officials, and where environmental protection is far behind that of Canada?

Long time foreign service representative to China, Mr. Brian McAdam, described China as a climate of corruption. I wish to thank him for the input he has made to some of the questions I put forward to him, it was very insightful.

The American chamber of commerce in China has stated that the average industrial wage in China is about $4 an hour. Literally nobody in Canada makes such a low wage. How can the government expect our companies and our people to compete against such a system?

All of the above factors mean that a company in Canada, where workers have many rights, where child labour is no longer practised and has not been for years, where job safety is a major concern of everyone, and where environmental protection and regulations like building codes are taken seriously, would find it more costly to produce an item than a similar company in China.

One of the biggest differences is that prison labour is a fact of life in China. No matter what we like to think here or where we hope this goes, prison labour is a way of life in China. There are millions in prison for being pregnant without permission, shouting “Free Tibet”, working for women's rights, seeking religious freedoms to practice Falun Gong, and protesting the lack of investigation of the tragic events of the Tiananmen Square massacre which took place on the night of June 3 to June 4, 1989. That still has not been addressed to the satisfaction of the world stage.

Amnesty International has provided me with the following information:

Torture has been reported in the full range of state institutions, from police stations, detention centres and prisons to administrative “re-education through labour” camps and enforced drug rehabilitation centres. It has also been inflicted by officials working outside the criminal justice system, sometimes publicly, to humiliate, threaten or coerce. Methods of torture include severe beating, kicking, electric shocks, hanging by the arms, shackling in painful positions, exposure to extreme heat or cold, sleep and food deprivation.

Prison conditions are harsh, often with long hours of forced labour and inadequate medical care. Some dissidents not known to have psychiatric problems have been sent to psychiatric institutions where they have been forcibly injected with drugs. Reports of torture increase during periodic "strike hard" campaigns against specific crimes and during high-profile political campaigns like the current crackdown on the banned Falun Gong organization.Groups at particular risk include ordinary criminal suspects and migrant workers, religious and ethnic minorities, labour activists and political dissidents.

If this is what is going into in the agreement, I have to wonder what we are really doing here.

We all know that under Chinese law torture is prohibited in most circumstances. China has been called before the world stage a number of times with regard to these issues.

This is from Amnesty International's backgrounder: Jigme Sangpo has spent most of the past 40 years behind bars. He was first arrested in 1960 and sent to a re-education camp for allegedly subjecting the students to corporal punishment. He was arrested again in 1970 and sentenced to 10 years for his political activities. His latest period of detention began in 1983 when he was given a 15 year sentence for spreading counterrevolutionary propaganda after he put up a wall poster calling for Tibetan independence. The sentence was extended for five years in 1988 after he shouted slogans and a further eight years in 1991 after he shouted “Free Tibet” during a visit to the prison by the Swiss ambassador to China.

I have to wonder exactly where we are going. According to Amnesty International, at least 2,960 people have been sentenced to death and 1,781 executed in the last three months of China's strike hard campaign against crime. Amnesty International said today that more people were executed in China in the last three months than in the world for the last three years.

When we go into these types of agreements we should be looking very closely at the practices in these other countries. I do not want anybody here to get the idea that I am against free fair trade. I want to emphasize the word fair, fair not only in the marketplace but also fair to the people of the country with which we are willing to do business.

I have to wonder what is going on when we go into these agreements and these issues are not addressed. We like to stand here and say that if we do this, maybe the country of concern will come to the same understanding for their people as we do here in Canada. To me the word maybe is a big gamble.

I especially have to wonder when, in all sincerity, our trade with China is actually a deficit. We import approximately $10.5 billion from China yet we export a very small fraction of that. When we do this with a country whose movements against the Falun Gong, Protestants, Catholics and other religious groups and its lack of commitment to internationally agreed upon standards for human rights, one would think that all of us in the House should be concerned, especially when we consider the fact that our trade with China is so relatively small.

I have to wonder if our speed on this might have something to do with the fact that the Prime Minister's son-in-law is the chairman of the Canada-China Trade Council. Probably the largest company in China with any interest in China at all is the Power Corporation and it also has ties.

The government members are proud of saying that they support human rights. They like to stand up and say that they are caring and sharing and that they will not support regimes in one place or another that impact upon human rights, workers' rights, religious freedoms and free speech, and yet we still go down this road without those things being addressed, which causes me grave concerns.

The idea of a country the size of Canada, with a population of approximately 32 million, trading with a country with a population of over 1.5 billion people, should in all cases open up doors for trade expansion in Canada. Unfortunately, when we look at the reality, the country to which we will be opening our doors and competing against is a country that still believes in forced child labour and still practices forced prison labour, which puts our companies in dire straits for competition in the marketplace. Instead of waiting to address some of these issues, they should have been addressed before we went there.

I want everyone in the House to understand that there is nothing wrong with trade as long as it is free and fair. When practices, such as those that go on in China today, are not perceived as being free or fair, particularly as compared to our standard of living, I have to question the wisdom of where we are going.

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10:15 a.m.

London—Fanshawe Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, I listened in amazement to the hon. member and his conspiracy theory about why Canada is involved in trading with the most populace country in the world. It is unbelievable.

Yesterday his colleague from Calgary made similar silly accusations and charges. Quite frankly this displays an incredible ignorance of Canadian foreign policy.

Canada has had a one China policy since the days of the Trudeau government, through the Mulroney government of a different political stripe, and now on to the current government. To say that this is somehow driven because of some business connection the Prime Minister's son-in-law has in China or something, just boggles the imagination. It is an Alice in Wonderland kind of thinking.

Does the hon. member not know that Canada does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, does not recognize the Republic of China? Does the hon. member not realize that whether he likes it or not or whether I like it or not, and I do support it, China is now a member of the WTO? It has acceded to the WTO, as has Taiwan.

If we are going to continue trade with China and Taiwan, we must accept that reality. We must bring into line certain acts in order for us to accept the reality that China is now a member of the WTO. The member speaks as if he can somehow hold back the Chinese horde from getting into the WTO. He has to wake up and realize that China is a member of the WTO now. Does he not understand that?

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10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I understand that very well. I also understand that the WTO does not force any country to trade with another country. That is strictly up to the government of the day. If the government perceives that practices going on in that country are up to its standards, which I gather they are according to this government, then there is absolutely no problem trading with China.

However if the government refuses to recognize that there are problems in these countries and does not address them, and it is willing to put our companies into unfair competition due to the practices in these countries, then that is the government's right.

However, whether the member likes it or not, one of my rights and the reason I was sent here was to raise concerns like these in the House. If I have information pertaining to activities going on in other countries, particularly with regard to trade issues such as this, it should be brought to the government's attention in one way or another. The member may not like that but I believe that is my duty, not only to my constituents, but to Canada as a whole.

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10:20 a.m.


Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, earlier in the member's remarks he expressed some concern about the fact that in China the salaries paid are as low as $4 an hour. The member wondered how we could compete against those wages.

I would remind the member that when Canada entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement we were and are competing with Mexico which has a similar wage rate. I do not know the exact wage rates but they certainly are below our standards.

One of the reasons that we in this party have been opposed to that is because there are insufficient environmental and labour law protections in agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization.

Why does the member's party not insist on having those kinds of rules and regulations in place before we get into these kinds of agreements with countries that have substandard laws, rules and regulations in contrast to our own?

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10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his question. Our party does not oppose that, not at all. We would like to see it in every agreement. It is nice to stand up here and say that we have free and fair trade but we should get it straight in peoples' minds that there is no such thing as free. There is trade, yes, but if we want a level playing field, and our party has always stated this, we must have the same conditions. We cannot expect to compete against a wage of $4 an hour, which is not necessarily the low wage in China but probably the higher wage, extremely high. I used the $4 example because people can understand it better than $1.25 or $1, which would probably fit better into the category of China.

We believe that if we are to go into these agreements we should all have the same type of playing field. Until such time as we do, we will always have unfair trade practices, whether it be child labour or things such as the Kyoto accord, which the member's party gives great support to without looking at what the impact would be on the monetary system and on our own companies here in Canada. Yet we will blindly rush through and blindly say this is what we will do when other countries are not signing on to that accord and do not have to come up to anywhere near the same standards while they pollute just as much or worse than Canada does.

All this plays into affecting trade, into whether or not companies will make a profit and whether or not they can compete on the world stage. When we put restrictions in place and decide to do this against the companies here in Canada, how on earth can we expect to prosper on the world stage? How can we be expected to compete in this situation?

I do not know of anyone who goes into business, particularly when competing in the world market, who says they will go into business but fine, penalize them five times the points that the competition will be. They just do not do that. Most people, when they invest in companies or when companies start up, have an understanding of what the agreement is at the time they make their investment. They know through their own calculations before they do this whether or not they will make a profit in a year or two. Then the government comes along and decides they have to compete against companies that perhaps have to pay only one-third or one-fifth the wage and do not have to live up to the same environmental standards or pay the same taxes as they do. The government says they will have to compete with them because it signed these agreements, without these issues being addressed properly.

Let me say again that I am not against trade. Fair trade would be really nice, if we ever had such a thing in this country, which we do not seem to have. For example, the United States, which has a lot of the same standards we do and some that are superior to ours, has a taxation level so much lower than ours that our companies have a terrible time trying to compete. Its bureaucracy and its red tape are so much easier to get through than ours.

This all pertains to trade in the world, but our government, and particularly this Liberal government, turns a blind eye to all of these facts. It turns a blind eye to the bankruptcies of people and companies who are trying to compete out there. The government just keeps wanting to put more restrictions in place. I have to wonder exactly where the government is coming from and where it is going.

There are a lot of people, including me, who are hopeful that through this agreement more light will be shed upon the practices in China. If that is truly the case maybe a lot of these concerns can be addressed, but I want to stress that maybe part of it. I have seen the government so often use the terms maybe and if. Both are hypothetical. I would like to know if the government were to review this in a few years whether it would back away from it. I highly doubt it. It seems that once it gets these practices in place it likes to penalize our business people as much as possible.

In closing, I have one word for the government. The government's fear is a fear of the independent business people of the country, for if they are independent they do not need--

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10:25 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Verchères--Les-Patriotes.

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10:30 a.m.


Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, having listened to the debate for a short while, I found it pretty heavy going, kind of depressing.

So I had the idea, if only to lighten things up for a few moments, to share with you a little discussion I had with my staff this morning, when I learned that today was the day I was to speak on Bill C-50, concerning accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization. I will share with you the contents of my favourite cartoon strip.

This is something I have had for some years and like to bring out from time to time. When I am feeling low, I look at it and it cheers me up.

It is taken from the comic strip Philomène , which is called Nancy and Sluggo in English. We see her standing at the front of the class. She has a little paper in her hand and she is announcing to the class “Today, my five minute report is on China. Its title is ‘China: a five minute report’”. In the next frame we see Philomène looking at her watch. Her thoughts are shown. “Oh oh, I'm in trouble”. She realizes that just saying “Today, my five minute report is on China. Its title is ‘China: a five minute report’” is not going to take up her five minutes.

Funnily enough, my favourite comic strip is about a speech on China, and today I have to talk for twenty minutes about the accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization.

That said, let us get back to the heart of the issue. I think that we must conclude, or at least point out, having heard the speech by my colleague from the Canadian Alliance, that we must face up to reality. Facing up to reality means acknowledging that Canada and China entered into a bilateral agreement in November 1999 on freer trade between the two countries.

Facing up to reality means considering and acknowledging the fact that, since 1986, China has manifested its intention to join the WTO. Since then, it has negotiated bilateral agreements with some forty WTO members, Canada among them. The provisions of these bilateral agreements apply to other WTO members by virtue of the most favoured nation criterion.

It must be noted also that, for all intents and purposes, China is already a member of the WTO pursuant to the protocol on the accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization that came into effect on December 11, 2001. Consequently, Canada has no choice but to adapt its legislation, and I will explain why in a few moments. Normally, Canada does not have to adapt its legislation when a new country joins the World Trade Organization, but it must do so in the case of China, and I will come back to that shortly. Perhaps this will respond to some of the concerns expressed by our colleague from the Canadian Alliance. Facing up to reality means adapting our legislation accordingly.

Our colleague from the Canadian Alliance was saying that we do not necessarily have to initiate trade relations with a country just because that country belongs to the World Trade Organization. The Government of Canada can decide not to trade with a country such as the People's Republic of China.

With all due respect, I would tell my colleague from the Canadian Alliance, who claims to put the private sector at the centre of our economic system and to be in favour of free trade, that it is not for the government to determine whether or not a Canadian business wants to trade with China.

It is for Canadian or Quebec businesses to decide whether they want to trade with the People's Republic of China, whether or not that country is a member of the World Trade Organization. It is not for the government to decide, unless there is a political decision on the part of the government to boycott a particular country. However, I do not think there is any plan to boycott the People's Republic of China at this time.

If the Alliance member is suggesting in any way that the government should boycott the People's Republic of China, I think he should have informed the House of his view, since it would be a rather spectacular and drastic measure that would be a radical departure from what has been Canada's approach with regard to the People's Republic of China over the last few years.

I would like to say a few words about the People's Republic of China. Admittedly, this is not one of the most democratic countries in the world. With the reports of organizations like Amnesty International, we realize that human rights violations actually do occur in the People's Republic of China.

However, we should also realize that the People's Republic of China represents one fifth of the world population. Is it really possible to isolate from the rest of the world one fifth of the population of the planet simply because it does not have a democratic system and because there are human rights violations there?

Democracies are a tiny minority in the world. Does this mean that the free and democratic nations should live just among themselves, and let the rest of the world fend for itself? No, this is not the philosophy of Canada, nor is it the philosophy of Quebec.

A number of years ago, we realized that the development of democracy was closely linked to economic development. This is why, many years ago, Canada and all developed countries set up and maintained development assistance programs and international cooperation programs, so that all the countries we used to call third world countries, and which we now call, more appropriately, developing countries, could set out with determination on the road to both economic and democratic development, and eventually become countries living under the rule of law, totally democratic and respectful of human rights. I think the market economy certainly contributes to economic, human, and democratic development.

The remarks of the Canadian Alliance member make this important philosophical debate unavoidable. How should democratic nations like Canada respond to autocratic nations, to nations that do not have as much respect for human rights and are therefore, on this score, developing nations?

Must we, as we did specifically in the case of South Africa, take a hard line, a policy by which we will totally isolate these states on the economic and political level? Or will we choose, as we did in the case of most developing states in the world, the way of co-operation and trade relations, to lead these countries down the road to economic, democratic et human development?

While we must recognize that, in the case of South Africa, the situation was quite out of the ordinary, I would say that we chose, several years ago, to promote open relations and to establish as many links as possible with these countries, to lead them down the road to development.

It must also be recognized that the People's Republic of China is Canada's fourth largest trade partner. Its trade with Canada reached $15 billion in 2000. It must be recognized that the People's Republic of China is the seventh most powerful economy in the world and the ninth largest exporter.

This means that we cannot indefinitely isolate states such as the People's Republic of China, and many other states around the world, which have a system that is more autocratic or less open to human development and other aspects. I think that is what accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization finally recognizes.

Our colleague of the Alliance was saying “Yes, but they have minimal working conditions and their production costs are much lower that those in Canada. Consequently, we are not on the same level, we will not benefit from the same conditions. China will therefore have the advantage and will be able to sell on the Canadian market similar goods that it will have produced at much lower costs, thus outdoing Canadian goods and the Canadian businesses that produce them”.

This is indeed a legitimate concern, if ever there was one. However, we must realize that the members of the World Trade Organization have also faced up to this reality, that China does not currently have a market economy, and that production costs in China are definitely lower than just about anywhere else in the world. Working conditions are also lower.

This has been acknowledged. Consequently, specific protections were included in the accord on China's accession to the WTO and, as a result, we now have to incorporate them into Canadian legislation. These protective measures are temporary, but they will allow Canada and other WTO members to protect their markets during the transtion period.

The bill before us today, Bill C-50, deals with China's accession to the World Trade Organization. The bill amends some Canadian legislation, including the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act and the Export and Import Permits Act, to allow the government to apply, if need be, the protective measures set out in the accord on China's accession to the World Trade Organization.

Bill C-50 also amends the Special Import Measures Act to include provisions in Canadian statutes regarding anti-dumping investigations provided for in the accord on China's accession to the WTO.

In practical terms, three guarantees would be added. There are three guarantees set out in the treaty on China's accession to the WTO. There is what is known as a guarantee per product, which may be applied to any product originating from the People's Republic of China that impacts or threatens to impact Canadian industry negatively because of increased imports of Chinese goods produced at a lower cost than on the Canadian market.

There is a guarantee of diversion, which can be used to prevent Chinese products that have been denied access to markets by reason of a guarantee per product from flooding the Canadian market, thereby having a negative impact our industry.

I think that the guarantee of diversion has taken on a new significance in the last few weeks when, for example, the United States decided to apply safeguard measures to prevent the importation of steel into their market. Canada could have become some sort of outlet for steel products meant for the United States, and these products could have ended on our Canadian market or elsewhere. This is exactly the type of situation we want to prevent with the guarantee of diversion.

For example, if a country applies safeguard measures, invoking the guarantee per product to keep products originating in the People's Republic of China from entering its market, a neighbouring country can invoke the guarantee of diversion to prevent those Chinese products being denied access to the first country from flooding its market, in this case the Canadian market.

There is a third special guarantee that applies to clothing and textile imports from China. To respond to the concerns of our colleague from the Canadian Alliance, I must say that there are provisions in the treaty on the accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization that will become part of Canadian legislation pursuant to Bill C-50. There are guarantees that actually allow us to protect the Canadian market against the unfair competition feared by our colleague from the Alliance because of the present economic conditions in the People's Republic of China.

Let me come back briefly to the philosophical debate I mentioned earlier. We are having this debate in the House today because of some comments by our Canadian Alliance colleague, who has once again brought up the whole issue of the appropriateness of opening our arms to countries whose the system is much less democratic than ours, where there is no market based economy or whatever else.

This is a recurring issue. I remember that there was a debate very recently at the Inter-Parliamentary Union as to whether we should admit the Shoura, which is the consultative council of Saudi Arabia—I am not using the expression legislative council, because it is a little hard to determine whether the Shoura does indeed meet the definition of a parliament in legislative terms. So, the Inter-Parliamentary Union wondered whether it should admit the Shoura as one of its members.

This debate was also going on. Some were saying “Human rights are being violated in Saudi Arabia. That country is not a democratic state. Members of the Shoura are not elected; they are appointed by the king. They can be removed at the king's pleasure. They are not called upon to oppose legislation that the king might want to enact. Why should we let it join the Inter-Parliamentary Union?”

Then, there were those who were saying “If we want Saudi Arabia's legislative system to eventually include women as members of the Shoura, to eventually have members elected to that council and to ensure that these members are not at the mercy of an autocratic ruler, if we really want to lead Saudi Arabia down the road to a more democratic system, even though it must be recognized that the Shoura has already made a lot progress in a fairly short period of time, in terms of the number of its members of various origins in Saudi society, then this is what must be done”.

This was the other view that was expressed. Both of these views are very relevant and legitimate. Ultimately, we must go back to the fundamental question that I raised earlier. In fact, is the best way to lead these countries down the road to democracy, human development and democratic development, not to share our experience with them and ensure that these countries are more open and eventually adopt ways of doing things that are similar to ours?

I will conclude by touching briefly on the issues of human rights and economic development. China's accession to the World Trade Organization and the implementation bill before the House today will not be enough to change the mindset and the economic and political system of the Chinese people.

We will have to continue putting pressure on the Chinese authorities to move toward freer trade, democracy and better human rights. We will have to support human development and international co-operation in China and throughout the world.

Therefore, I urge the government to recommit to the international objective, which is to set aside 0.7% of our gross domestic product for international development. Because of the government cuts, the development assistance budget has gone from 0.46% in 1992 to 0.25%. The increases announced recently would only raise it to 0.27%.

We must urge the government to step up its efforts to reach the objective of 0.7% of our GDP.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members


Canadian International Trade Tribunal ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-47, an act respecting the taxation of spirits, wine and tobacco and the treatment of ships' stores, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Thornhill Ontario


Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

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10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members


Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

10:50 a.m.


Elinor Caplan Liberal Thornhill, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

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10:50 a.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario


Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak at third reading to Bill C-47 which introduces a modern legislative and administrative framework for the taxation of spirits, wine and tobacco products under the Excise Act.

The measures in the bill address a long-standing need of both industry and government for a new excise framework. As many colleagues are aware, the Excise Act is the foundation of the federal commodity taxation system for alcohol and tobacco products. It would impose excise duties on spirits, beer and tobacco products manufactured in Canada. It would include extensive control provisions relating to the production and distribution of these products.

Commodity taxes are an important element of Canada's federal tax system. In 2000-01, for example, duties and taxes on alcohol and tobacco products raised about $3.4 billion in federal revenues. The Excise Act is one of the oldest taxing statutes in Canada. Some of its provisions date back to the 1800s and except for periodic amendments the act has never been thoroughly reviewed and overhauled. In recent years it became obvious to both industry and government that the excise framework needed to be modernized.

Industry, for example, has introduced new technology and product marketing and distribution initiatives that the existing Excise Act is not equipped to accommodate. The base of controls in the act impose high compliance costs on industry and impair the competitiveness of Canadian producers. Given the increased foreign competition in Canadian markets for beverage and non-beverage alcohol this problem needs to be addressed.

From the government's perspective the Excise Act is increasingly difficult to administer and impedes the ability of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, CCRA, to fully adopt modern administrative practices. Furthermore, wine which is currently taxed under the Excise Tax Act is not subject to any substantive controls on its production and possession. Tobacco manufactured in Canada is taxed under both the Excise Act and Excise Tax Act. This creates problems both for industry and government.

All of these factors point to the need for a revised excise framework which is a key component of Bill C-47. The new excise framework is a direct result of a discussion paper on the Excise Act review which the Department of Finance and CCRA released in 1997. That paper outlined a proposal to provide legislative and administrative framework for the federal taxation of alcohol and tobacco products.

The government subsequently released draft legislation and regulations in 1999 and held public consultations with all major stakeholders. During the review the government was guided by three goals: first, to provide a modern legislative framework for simpler and more certain administrative systems that recognize current industry practices; second, to facilitate greater efficiency and fairness for all the parties leading to improved administration and reduced compliance costs; and third, to ensure the continued protection of federal excise revenues.

Bill C-47 meets all three objectives. A modern legislative and administrative framework introduced in the bill would generate stable and secure revenues and also address contraband pressures. Moreover, this would be achieved without imposing unrealistic or unnecessary costs and administrative burdens on industry.

The measures relating to alcohol would include: maintaining the imposition of duty at the time of production of spirits, replacing existing sales levy on wine with the production levy at an equivalent rate, deferring the payment of duty for spirits and wine to the wholesale level, and introducing modern collection tools. At the same time the bill would help to address the government's ongoing concern over smuggling and the illegal production of alcohol.

I will discuss some of these key measures in more detail. Along with the production levy on spirits and wine that I have just mentioned the legislation would incorporate strict controls on the production, importation, possession and use of non-duty paid alcohol together with significant penalties for breaking the law. The spirits industry would no longer be hindered by outdated and onerous controls over premises and equipment. With these controls removed businesses would have greater flexibility to organize their commercial affairs to respond more quickly to market changes.

Economic DevelopmentStatements by Members

10:55 a.m.


André Harvey Liberal Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the secretary of state responsible for Economic Development Canada has approved financial assistance for the Société d'aide au développement des collectivités de Manicouagan so that it may continue to provide e-business advisory services for the lovely North Shore region.

Our government is pleased to be associated with a project whose goal is to support the efforts of SMBs in the region which are already very aware of the importance of e-business and who are looking for new business opportunities and new markets.

Investments such as this are a sign of our government's desire to help SMBs on the North Shore develop and prosper, and thus ensure the economic development of this region for generations to come.

Sandra JohansenStatements by Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Canadian Alliance Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to my colleagues Ms. Sandra Johansen from the great and wonderful riding of Edmonton Centre-East. Ms. Johansen is with us today on her first visit to Ottawa and to this Chamber of Canada's commoners.

Ms. Johansen has been imbued by a strong sense of duty to serve as a volunteer to be an integral part of the political process, to have a voice and a role to play as we work together for the benefit of all Canadians.

I need not remind all members of this House that our riding boards of directors and membership volunteers work tirelessly to advance the ideals of our party's beliefs. Our board presidents have an important role in guiding these efforts.

I wish to congratulate Ms. Sandra Johansen who is board president of the riding of Edmonton Centre-East on her efforts.

CmhcStatements by Members

11 a.m.


John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words about Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the affordability and choice today program, known as ACT.

My colleague, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is responsible for CMHC, recently announced 15 grants worth up to $20,000 each under the federally funded ACT program.

Some of this year's grants aim to increase housing affordability and choice through options such as secondary suites, smaller infill lots, multiple units, rental housing and housing for youth and independent seniors. Others streamline the development approvals process or remove barriers to innovation.

ACT is managed jointly by CMHC, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Home Builders' Association and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association.

It brings together municipalities along with private and non-profit housing sectors to develop, demonstrate and promote innovations in local planning and building regulations that can help to improve housing affordability, quality and choice for Canadians.

VolunteersStatements by Members

11 a.m.


Tony Tirabassi Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today marks the beginning of Global Youth Service Day celebrations. From April 26 to April 28 youth volunteers will be busy conducting food drives and car washes, among a wide range of other volunteer activities.

This day celebrates, recognizes and mobilizes youth volunteers and is celebrated by 32 international organizations in over 100 nations. It falls during Canada's National Volunteer Week which offers us a special opportunity to shine a spotlight on the spirit and energy of Canada's youth.

Of the 6.5 million volunteers in Canada 29% are youth between the ages of 15 and 24 who contribute an average of 130 hours each year to important causes like education, social services, arts, culture and recreation. Global Youth Service Day allows us to recognize these important contributions.

I invite the House to join me in applauding the efforts of our young people in making a difference in communities across Canada.

Radio-CanadaStatements by Members

11 a.m.


Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, Radio-Canada's unionized newsroom employees have been locked out for five weeks. As the vice-chair of the Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs, I am concerned.

This lockout is taking place at the same time as legal sagas involving biker gangs are unfolding in Quebec. It is in the public interest that the actions of these thugs be widely reported so that the public is informed about this gangrene which has infiltrated our democratic societies. The activities of these criminals are a threat to the life and security of our young people, for it has been shown that their attempts to drug them are succeeding. The conspiracy of silence must be broken and information allowed to circulate. Radio-Canada has a crucial role to play.

Radio-Canada managers, who are paid $52 an hour to replace the unionized workers, will never take the place of seasoned journalists on top of their stories.

Faithful Radio-Canada fans are fed up with incomplete and sloppy reports by overpaid managers.

Enough is enough.