Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reiterate the strong support of the New Democratic Party caucus in terms of this motion and to congratulate the member for Joliette for his initiative in this regard.
The NDP is the only party that has been consistent on this matter and on the need to rid our free trade agreement of the chapter 11 investor-state provision. There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that this provision is not rules based, as the Alliance would have us believe. It is not a positive addition to our decision making process, as the Liberals would have us believe. In fact, it is a tool to deny Parliament the right to make decisions on the basis of what is best for Canada on the basis of our sovereignty.
Let us be absolutely clear what chapter 11 does regarding the investor-state dispute resolution system. There is no question that this provision is alone among the world's trade treaties that gives foreign investors and corporations the right to sue governments directly. All other pacts are state to state. This arrangement is unique and it has devastating consequences for Canada's ability to determine its own future.
Let us apply that specifically to the case of health care and our ability as a nation to preserve the medicare model. There is no question, by all accounts, that chapter 11 may deny Canada the ability to preserve medicare in the face of threats from investors in the United States and from large private health care corporations who want a piece of our health care market. We may be on precarious ground in terms of holding back that kind of invasion of our health care system and preserving a non-profit and non investor-owned system. That has been reiterated time and time again. It was part of the Roy Romanow commission report and must be taken seriously by the government.
Jon Johnson of the Toronto law firm of Goodmans LLP was one of the contributors to the Roy Romanow report. He said:
The potential effect of the NAFTA investment provisions is compounded by the private rights of action conferred by NAFTA on U.S. and Mexican investors. However, there are no private rights of action under the GATS or under any other agreement under the World Trade Organization.
NAFTA's Chapter 11 nationalization expropriation provisions and accompanying threats of investor lawsuits demanding vast sums in compensation could stop governments from expanding universal medicare into areas now covered by the private market such as dental care, home care and pharmacare.
Substantial interference could occur in the health context in Canada if the public component of the system were expanded in a way that increased the exclusion of private firms.
We can see that it is chapter 11 that poses the greatest threat to our ability as a nation to preserve medicare. Contrary to what the Alliance said today, this is not a rules based approach to trade. Canadians support a rules based approach to trade. They support fair trade, however, they do not support a free trade agreement that gives corporations and other national entities control over our destiny as a nation.
We have a right as members of Parliament, as Canadians, to create and put in place programs that are in our best interests and consistent with our values. There is no way this country should be party to an agreement that takes away that right of sovereignty.
Today we stand here in absolute support of the motion. We have noted the difficult position of the Conservatives in the House today, following their leadership convention where there are two dynamics at play. Clearly the likes of David Orchard, if he were in the House today, would be standing up and saying yes to the motion and no to investor state dispute settlement systems. This is a dilemma for the Conservatives that we hope will be clarified as the days proceed.
Obviously the Liberals have yet to see the errors of their ways. The member for Etobicoke North stood up and claimed this to be a most important aspect of free trade and one that perhaps would be reviewed, but that it has had great benefits to Canada while ignoring all the facts in terms of the Ethyl Corporation, Metalclad, the postal service, the serious threat to health care and other publicly delivered national social programs.
We should stand together in the House and support the motion to ensure we rid our country of such a sell-out of Canadian sovereignty and get back to working on fair trade and rules based trade that is in the best interest of all Canadians.