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House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tariffs.

Topics

Order in Council AppointmentsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Sarnia—Lambton Ontario

Liberal

Roger Gallaway LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments made recently by the government.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the provisional standing orders governing private members' business, and I should like to move concurrence at this time.

(Motion agreed to)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the pleasure to present to the House a petition dealing with marriage that is signed by more than 700 Canadians.

The petitioners wish to underscore that this House voted to preserve the traditional definition of marriage in 1999. Despite this, a recent court ruling bypassed Parliament and its elected members on this issue.

Therefore the petitioners pray and request that the Parliament of Canada renew debate on the definition of marriage and reaffirm, as it did in 1999, that marriage is the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by residents of British Columbia and Alberta. The petitioners point out that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people are common targets of hate crimes across Canada and are currently excluded from federal hate propaganda laws.

They also note that in some cases gay bashers rely upon the discredited homosexual panic defence, claiming they were justified in committing murder because the victim came on to them, and that federal justice ministers since 1999 have promised to make the changes needed to the Criminal Code to protect gay and lesbian people under hate propaganda laws.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to amend hate propaganda provisions in the Criminal Code to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, and to reform provocation law so that gay bashers can no longer rely upon the so-called homosexual panic defence.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Reed Elley Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to present two petitions to the House today with some 800 names of people right across this country who urge the government not to change the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one women to the exclusion of all others.

It is my pleasure to present this on behalf of these Canadians who are asking the government to keep the traditional values in the country.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today that are very important to my riding.

The first one involves increases to the library book rate. There are some 1,900 signatures of people from communities on Vancouver Island who will be greatly affected if the changes to the library book rate follow through.

They are calling upon the government to recognize that the more than 400,000 people who live on the west coast of Vancouver Island depend upon the assistance of the Department of Canadian Heritage and Canada Post to deliver library books between the facilities there so people can access these materials.

This is very important to people in my riding. They are really hoping this can be renegotiated so that materials can be made available to help these communities.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition involves my private member's bill, Bill C-420, involving natural health products.

The petition contains some 600 signatures, in addition to the more than 120,000 that have already been presented. The petitioners come from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, across the nation actually, and many communities in my own riding.

They are calling upon the government to make sure that natural health products are made available and that they are properly classified as foods and not as drugs. These are low cost, non-patentable items. People want access to the products that they have relied upon. They do not want them regulated, as the government has proposed and has started to implement, as drugs, which makes them unavailable and restricted unnecessarily.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Canadian Alliance Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present a petition this morning where almost 400 petitioners call upon Parliament to ensure that marriage remains a union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of others and should not be modified by a legislative act or a court of law.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present yet another petition on behalf of beef, sheep, goat and bison farmers in my riding concerning the BSE crisis.

No doubt these petitioners, who are some of many, are delighted by the news that there is relief now flowing to ruminant farmers of all types across the country, but they know that the problem is still the border, and that over 1,000 farm families in my region are directly affected.

They point out that the industry and the herd concerned in Canada and in the United States are essentially integrated and that Canadian beef is the safest in the world. They urge Parliament to do all it can to open the border. This a matter that should be taken up at the very highest levels.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Sarnia—Lambton Ontario

Liberal

Roger Gallaway LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-21, an act to amend the Customs Tariff, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Brome—Missisquoi Québec

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved that the bill be concurred in at report stage and read the second time.

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I believe that if you seek it you would find unanimous consent to proceed immediately to third reading of the bill.

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

March 23rd, 2004 / 10:10 a.m.

Brome—Missisquoi Québec

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

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

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak at third reading of Bill C-21, an act to amend the Customs Tariff.

This bill provides for the continuation of a longstanding policy of providing preferential tariff treatment to developing and least developed countries.

I will begin my remarks today by providing the House with some background to this issue. I will then discuss the bill and why it deserves to be passed without delay.

In the mid-1960s, there was widespread recognition that preferential tariff treatment for developing countries was a means of fostering the economic growth and well-being of poorer nations.

Consequently, in 1968, it was agreed at the United Nations conference on trade and development that a system of trade preferences should be implemented for developing countries.

This decision was implemented by most industrialized countries, including Canada, who agreed to provide more favourable treatment to products imported from developing countries than to similar products from industrialized countries. Countries also agreed that the preferential tariff programs would be generalized, non-discriminatory and non-reciprocal.

It is with those principles in mind that most industrialized countries implemented preferential tariff programs benefiting the developing world.

Canada’s program, the general preferential tariff, or GPT, was implemented on July 1, 1974 and has been renewed twice, in 1984 and 1994. The more generous least developed country tariff, or LDCT, was introduced in 1983. Both programs are set to expire on June 30, 2004.

Under the GPT, the general preferential tariff, more than 180 countries and territories are entitled to zero or low tariffs on a large majority of products that are covered under the customs tariff, with the exception of some agricultural products, refined sugar, and most textiles, apparel and footwear.

Like other industrialized countries, Canada introduced a program, the LDCT, the least developed country tariff, which provides even more generous preferential treatment to goods from the world's poorest countries as designated by the United Nations and based on a number of criteria such as national income, health and education.

Since January 2003, Canada, acting on a commitment made at the 2002 G-8 summit in Kananaskis, provides complete duty-free access under this program to all imports from 48 least developed countries except for certain agricultural goods such as dairy, poultry and eggs.

Bill C-21 simply extends both preferential tariff programs in their current form for another 10 years, from July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2014, as per past practice. Extending these programs makes sense for several reasons.

First, an extension will continue a longstanding Canadian policy that is consistent with the international practice of providing preferential tariff treatment to goods from the world's poorer nations. Extending these tariff programs will simply reaffirm the government's commitment to promoting the export capability and economic growth of developing and least developed countries, the main reasons these tariff programs were established in the first place.

This brings me to the second reason for extending these programs. Continuing these programs for a fixed period of 10 years will provide certainty and predictability to the traders who use them. Exporters in developing and least developed countries will continue to benefit from the preferential access provided by the programs.

These programs have supported growth in the export sectors of many developing countries, but they still have a long way to go. Many developing countries still need preferential access to the markets of the developed world in order to improve their economic status.

Another reason to continue these programs is that they complement Canada's foreign aid policies. By allowing developing countries preferential access, we will continue Canada's tradition of assisting the developing world. We will also keep to commitments toward international development that Canada has made on many occasions in forums such as the G-8, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations.

Hon. members should note that all other major industrialized countries provide preferential access for developing and least developed countries and some, such as the United States, Japan and the European Union, have recently extended similar programs.

A final reason why extending these programs makes sense concerns their impact here at home. While these programs were mostly conceived as an economic assistance measure for developing and least developed countries, they also benefit Canadians by providing them with goods that are subject to lower rates of duty.

As a result of lower tariffs on goods from the developing world, Canadian consumers enjoy access to imported goods at competitive prices.

Also, Canadian producers who rely on goods from developing countries as inputs also benefit from the reduced tariff, which helps them reduce their production costs and hence, increase their competitiveness. Accordingly, these tariff programs contribute to the economic development of the beneficiary countries while allowing Canadians to benefit.

It is important to know, too, that under these programs, preferences can be withdrawn if they are found to be injurious to domestic producers. I want to assure the House that, where imports at a reduced tariff are found to be injurious to Canadian producers of particular goods, the government has the means to remove the lower tariff for such goods.

There is another point I want to make before closing. Not only will this bill allow for the continuation of Canada’s support for economic growth within the developing world, these programs will continue to make an important contribution to the Canadian economy.

In 2003, Canadian imports under the GPT and LDCT were valued at $9.7 billion, and these programs reduced the amount of tariffs paid by Canadian importers by approximately $273 million. I mentioned earlier that the reasons that justified the introduction of the GPT and the LDCT decades ago still remain.

The economies of many developing countries still have to make great strides if their citizens are to attain acceptable income levels. Despite the progress of the past decades, the United Nations estimates that 1.2 billion people—one-fifth of the world’s population—still live on less than US$1 a day.

Bill C-21 constitutes one substantive measure Canada can take to continue to assist the developing world in achieving the goal of poverty reduction and continues Canada’s long tradition of helping poorer nations.

In considering this bill, I encourage hon. members to keep in mind that Canada stands with all other major industrialized nations—the United States, Japan and the European Union—in supporting the developing world through preferential tariff programs.

I would also encourage hon. members to keep the following points in mind:first, that a 10-year extension of these programs is consistent with past practice and will continue to provide a predictable business environment to traders—we will know where we are going; andthat a 10-year extension of these programs will reaffirm the government’s long-term commitment to international development.

In closing, I simply want to remind the House that our colleague, the Minister of Industry, recently announced various aid measures, in particular for the Canadian textile and apparel industry, for a total of approximately $60 million over the next three years.

I encourage all hon. members to support this bill.

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member related to the issue before the House. The hon. member will know that during the committee hearings on this bill, Canadian apparel manufacturers appeared as did other people from the clothing industry.

They have made a rather compelling argument that what the government is doing now through the extension of the LDC tariff without doing some other things together might constitute some harm to the industry. I think of the argument they made about reducing or eliminating tariffs on input to their industry. I think particularly of the argument of Bob Silver of Western Glove Works about the tariff on denim fabric which comes into the country. As of this spring nobody will be left in Canada who makes denim.

Who is this tariff protecting? In fact it is creating a situation, as Mr. Silver argued quite eloquently before the committee, in which he may be put in a position of making these clothes somewhere else where he can import the denim duty free. He will make the clothes in Mexico or somewhere else and then sell the clothes in Canada. As he said, it does not matter to him. He still makes money. It is Canada that loses because the jobs in Winnipeg or elsewhere are affected by the inertia of the government in not removing this tariff on inputs that no longer have domestic competition.

Canadian jobs and particularly new Canadians will be hurt. New Canadians tend to work in his industry. As he says, they are not just producing jobs, they are producing Canadians. This is the way people enter the labour market. I am asking the question because a lot of good things happen here, and they are at risk because of the government's apparent unwillingness to move fast on this.

Will the government move fast now to eliminate these tariffs on inputs that no longer have any domestic manufacturers thereof?

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, to put everything into context, these tariffs exist to help less developed countries. This has been mentioned many times. I think that Canada has to do its part.

With respect to our Canadian industry, our local industry, my hon. colleague mentioned two main components: the textile and apparel industries. A few weeks ago, our colleague, the Minister of Industry, announced specific measures totalling some $60 million over three years to help both of these sectors.

The textile industry needs assistance more in terms of funding and restructuring, while the apparel industry is looking for lower tariffs when it cannot find the raw materials it needs on the Canadian market. In light of this situation, the $60 million over three years should be divided between the textile and apparel industries.

In practical terms, there has to be consultations. They have to come together to reach an agreement. I have also had the opportunity to speak with representatives from both the textile and apparel sectors. We want to make sure our Canadian industry is not penalized because we are helping other countries.

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. minister to be careful concerning the point our colleague from Winnipeg—Transcona has just raised. In fact, the minister himself said it well in his reply. The two parts of this large industry are far from agreeing with each other.

In my riding, we recently lost the Consoltex factory, in Alexandria. Its product is not apparel but textile. I know that these people have a very different point of view from that raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona.

We must fulfil our international obligations, as the minister said so well, but at the same time, we must remember that the textile manufacturing industry has different interests. Canadians work in that industry, too.

It is all very well to say, in the case of one particular type of fabric, that it is no longer manufactured in Canada. But we must not forget that the clothing industry is very complicated. In fact, to a great extent, it is a kind of fashion industry, that is, it is not an essential industry. If we wore only the clothes we had to wear, rather than those we want to wear, things would be very different.

Consequently, there are substitutions among articles of clothing. Even if a certain fabric is not manufactured in Canada, people in other sectors feel the impact because, of course, another fabric could be used.

I invite the minister to proceed with caution, in the way he has explained, so that we can preserve both these industries, not only clothing but also textile, which is also very important.

Customs TariffGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell for his remarks. I would simply add, in support of the hon. member's comments, that while they may have diverging views, the various sectors of the industry do talk to each other. Indeed, the textile and clothing sectors have meetings.

We hope that a global agreement will be reached and that the amount of some $60 million, over a three year period, can be the topic of discussions between the clothing and textile sectors. In terms of their importance in Canada, these two sectors are on an equal footing.

So, it is important that the textile and clothing sectors can talk to each other, because it is of course in our best interest to ensure that Canadians come out ahead.