Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all my colleagues in this chamber for participating in the debate on my motion, Motion No. 397, which deals with the softwood lumber dispute.
The purpose of the motion is to draw attention to this situation, which is totally unacceptable and which carries on from year to year. We need to be absolutely clear. It has nothing to do with subsidies. It has everything to do with market share. Every time our Canadian softwood lumber industry creeps over 30% of the market share of the United States, the next countervailing duty action is launched.
I would like to clarify a couple of points.
The member for Verchères--Les-Patriotes and others have said that I am suggesting in my motion that we should stop the appeals to the WTO and the NAFTA. I am clearly not suggesting that. In fact my proposal is much more long term. Colleagues are right. To get the U.S. to agree to this will be a bit of a challenge, but I do not think we should back away from a challenge because it is difficult.
Another comment from the opposite side was that by going to a net subsidy approach, we were accepting that we had subsidies in Canada. The motion does not say that, and I have argued very clearly that we do not have subsidies in Canada. If the member would think about it, if we have zero subsidies in Canada, how could the U.S. possibly launch a net subsidy challenge? It would be virtually impossible. Arithmetically it does not work.
The net subsidies approach is one that would be challenging to implement. I have argued that we could not hope to achieve that unless we negotiated with the U.S. on a whole broad range of issues, of which the countervailing duty process was one of them.
This is a totally absurd situation. For example, if we look at agricultural subsidies and the hypocrisy of it all, the subsidies in agriculture amount to about $350 billion U.S. a year. That includes the Europeans as well, but the Americans are definitely a part of that.
If we look at the automotive sector, the U.S. states and local governments are subsidizing their greenfield plant expansions, Michigan, Ohio and Georgia to the tune of 48%, Alabama at 21% and Mississippi at 32%.
The members in the Bloc and the NDP have suggested that I am proposing the harmonization of taxation between Canada and the United States. I am saying exactly the opposite. We do not have a chance of competing with these kinds of subsidies. That is why we need to eliminate harmful tax competition.
Our government announced in this last budget that we would work with the automotive sector. We will try to create an R and D differentiated product so we can attract more automotive investment to Canada, and I will be the first one to support that. Why are we doing that? Because the U.S. states and local governments are subsidizing new auto plant expansions to the tune of 48% and 52%. Let us wake up. We have to get into the game.
The members of the Conservative Party have argued that we should eliminate completely countervailing duty trade law and anti-dumping trade law. I would agree. If we could get to that world, I would certainly be supportive, but what I am proposing is an interim step, a step that has been proposed before and that has been on the table, as members have pointed out. Unless we have a comprehensive agreement with the United States, we will not achieve it, but we have to keep working on it. This is robbing Canadians of jobs and investment in the country. It is totally absurd, when it has nothing to do with subsidies at all. It has to do with market share.
I am glad we have had this debate. Our government is working strongly with the industry to try to come up with solutions. We need to pursue that, but ultimately we need a grander solution to this and that means something beyond what we have in terms of the countervailing duty and anti-dumping laws that are on the books today.