Mr. Speaker, allow me to reread the motion, because that will show that it in no way impedes the liberalization of trade. Nor does it hinder the protection of investments; it puts the common good above trade liberalization and investment protection.
It seems to me that for parliamentarians, it is common sense. We are here to represent the people of Canada and Quebec. We are not here to represent the interests of multinational corporations in Canada first. So, this motion, which I am about to read, just makes good sense.
That, in the opinion of this House, any freetrade agreement entered into by Canada, whether bilateral ormultilateral, must include rules for the protection of foreigninvestments which do not violate the ability of parliamentary and government institutions to act, particularly on behalf of the common good, and must exclude any investor-state redress provisions and consequently, the Canadian government must enter into negotiations with its American and Mexican partners with a view to bringing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in line with the aforementioned principles.
I have trouble understanding why anyone would vote against this motion. I have received more than 300 messages of support from throughout Canada and Quebec that I will be forwarding to the Minister for International Trade tomorrow to get him to reflect before the vote. I hope that the Liberal Party of Canada will change the position announced by the parliamentary secretary, because I believe that it would be inconsistent with a number of statements the Minister for International Trade has made in the past.
Some of the major organizations that have supported my motion include the Canadian Labour Congress, the Union des artistes, the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) and many of its affiliated unions, the CNTU and many of its affiliated unions and federations, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec and many of its unions and federations, Oxfam Quebec, the Syndicat de la fonction publique du Québec, Option-consommateurs, the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec, the Union des producteurs agricoles de Lanaudière, the Fédération des femmes du Québec, Carrefour Tiers-Monde, members of the Centre international de solidarité ouvrière, members of ATTAC-Québec, Équiterre, the North American Forum on Integration, the Syndicat de l'enseignement de l'ouest de Montréal, the Conseil régional de l'environnement de Montréal, Plan Nagua, the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Maison provinciale des Ursulines, and the Regroupement national des conseils régionaux de l'environnement du Québec.
So, we can see that it has broad support from unions, women, young people, environmentalists and cultural activists. The party in power ought to be aware of this support, particularly because it seems to me that, if one is opposed to the presence of the equivalent to chapter 11 in the WTO and the FTAA—and that is the position of the Minister of International Trade—if we are going to be consistent, we must also be opposed to this in the bilateral agreements that Canada signs, especially with third world countries that do not have the means to defend themselves.
More then 20 suits have been launched under chapter 11. Half of these requested the lifting of environmental standards. The Kyoto accord is coming into effect. The Americans have not signed that agreement. There will be many more suits under chapter 11 against the Canadian government as soon as the Kyoto protocol, which we have just signed, is implemented, and it is going to be very costly.
What we are asking for is investment protection and that the governments represent the companies instead of the companies representing themselves at the special tribunals, which is precisely what is happening in the case of softwood lumber. Contrary to what the Liberal member said earlier in the case of softwood lumber, it is not the companies who are appearing before the special tribunals, but the Canadian and American governments which are defending themselves.
For all these reasons, I feel that in this House we should vote for Motion No.391, standing in my name, in the interests of the common good, democracy, international solidarity and plain good sense. I am asking all members to think again because voting against this motion is like giving foreign multinational companies the exact same status as the Government of Canada in terms of investment protection.
I feel this is not the right impression to give the Canadian public and foreign countries. This would mean that the interests of a handful of multinational companies would come before the common good of our own companies. I would like to point out that under international rules there is a standard called national treatment by which companies are not to be discriminated against. In the case of Chapter 11, Canadian and Quebec companies are being discriminated against to the benefit of American and Mexican companies. Everything is completely upside down.
Let common sense prevail. I am calling on all members to vote in favour of Motion No.391 standing in my name.