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House of Commons Hansard #48 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nations.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2004Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from April 28 consideration of the motion that Bill C-451, an act to prevent psychological harassment in the workplace and to amend the Canada Labour Code, be now read the second time and referred to a committee.

Workplace Psychological Harassment Prevention ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-451 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Workplace Psychological Harassment Prevention ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed from April 30 consideration of the motion that Bill C-393, an act to amend the Criminal Code (breaking and entering), be now read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 5th, 2004 / 6:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-393 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed from May 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-303, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (travel expenses for a motor vehicle used by a forestry worker), be now read the second time and referred to a committee.

The Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading of Bill C-303, under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

The Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I declare the motion lost.

The Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Discussions have taken place between all the parties, and if you were to seek it, I think you would find consent to proceed immediately to the adjournment proceedings, pursuant to Standing Order 38(1).

The Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent to proceed?

The Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

The Income Tax ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, on March 26 I asked the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, when would Canada ratify the biosafety protocol, given that we signed it, but not ratified it, in the year 2001?

In his reply the minister indicated that 45 countries had ratified the agreement. Actually, at the time, 89 nations had ratified the agreement and today, as we speak, the current number stands at 96.

Furthermore, the minister did not indicate when Canada would ratify. As his predecessor had, he mentioned an action plan leading to ratification after stakeholder consultations. This would be good news were it not for the fact that consultations have been dragging on for years.

Consultations surrounding Canada's involvement with the protocol have been discussed as late as February in international meetings. By now, Canada should be on the verge of ratification.

Let me add at this point the following observation. First, 96 countries, including Mexico, Japan and the European Union have already ratified the biosafety protocol. They have adopted the precautionary principle dealing with the risks posed by importing genetically engineered organisms.

Canada currently exports approximately 22 million metric tonnes of grain annually, 80% of which may have trace levels of genetically modified organisms. Our exports will be greatly affected by the standards set by countries which have ratified the biosafety protocol.

Second, on March 31 of this year Mr. Stemshorn, the assistant deputy minister of the Environmental Protection Service at Environment Canada, informed the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development that Canada will be subject to the regulations imposed by importing countries.

By not ratifying the protocol we have very little influence in the decision making process on import regulations. In addition, further delays would damage Canada's access to foreign markets because genetically modified grain continues to be sold unlabelled.

As the purity of genetic stock of grain is affected, Canadian farmers will have an increasing uphill battle maintaining access and penetrating international markets.

For all these reasons, delaying ratification of the biosafety protocol is not in Canada's best interests. The next round of international meetings will take place next spring. Canada needs to participate fully in these discussions. Therefore, it stands to reason that the Government of Canada should take into full account Canada's long term interests in growing global markets, and also ensure Canada's voice is in the international fora.

This evening, could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell us when Canada will ratify the biosafety protocol?

The Income Tax ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Sydney—Victoria Nova Scotia

Liberal

Mark Eyking LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Agri-Food)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question regarding when Canada will ratify the Cartagena protocol on biosafety.

The biosafety protocol is a multilateral environmental agreement designed to address the potential adverse effects on biological diversity of transboundary movements of living modified organisms.

Living modified organisms are genetically modified organisms, what we call GMOs, that can replicate in the environment. Living modified organisms currently in commercial production in Canada are corn, canola and soybeans.

Canada supports the environmental objectives of the biosafety protocol and this is one of the reasons that we signed the protocol in April 2001. However, at the time of the signing, Canada indicated that we had a number of concerns that would need to be addressed, including documentation requirements for shipments of food, feed for processing, and obligations and responsibilities in a number of specific areas.

Central to Canada's position is the need to finalize the implementation details of the biosafety protocol in a practical way that does not impede trade. Consultations with industry in this respect are ongoing.

As the hon. member knows, Canada currently has one of the most stringent regulatory frameworks for plants with novel traits, which include living modified organisms. All plants with novel traits undergo a stringent environmental, human and animal health and safety risk assessment prior to being approved. As such, Canada ensures that no living modified organism poses a risk to biological diversity.

With respect to some of the concerns that Canada had at the signing, documentation provisions were discussed at the first meeting of the parties in February 2004. Some decisions taken at that meeting, however, warrant careful consideration by all interested stakeholders.

A final decision on the documentation provisions will be taken at the second meeting of parties, which is scheduled for next year. The fact that Canada has not ratified the protocol has no effect on the continuing obligation of Canadian exporters to meet the import requirements of other countries.

Let me clarify that the biosafety protocol is an environmental agreement and was never intended to regulate the labelling of genetically modified products.

Consultations regarding the outcome of the first meeting of parties have been initiated, with a view to assess the decisions taken by the first meeting of parties. Our government is committed to work closely with all stakeholders on this very important issue.

The Income Tax ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Réginald Bélair)

The hon. member for Davenport has one minute to respond.

The Income Tax ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my thanks to the hon. parliamentary secretary for his comprehensive reply. Unfortunately, he has not answered my question, namely, when will Canada ratify the biosafety convention?

He also indicated that consultations with industry are ongoing. These consultations started after the signing of the biosafety convention in 2001 and have gone on for three years. One begins to wonder how long the consultations will last.

Finally, I do not agree with the statement just made that the non-ratification does not affect our effectiveness in round table discussions on the matter. Therefore, I must ask again, could the parliamentary secretary at least indicate when the biosafety convention will be ratified?

The Income Tax ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for bringing this issue before us tonight. The issue of GMOs is a concern for many consumers all over the world.

I do not have a definite answer for the member on when exactly we will fulfill all the obligations in that protocol. As I stated before, it is a very complicated process and it has a lot of impact on our food producers, especially our exporters.

Some key provisions in that protocol are documentation requirements, compliance, liability and redress, transit, trade with non-parties, and relationships with the WTO rules.

We must also recognize, and it is also important to note, that no major exporter has yet ratified the protocol. The United States is Canada's most important trading partner and it is not a party to the protocol. As we have found out over the last year, we are very intertwined with the United States, whether we buy or sell products to the Americans, so we have to work with them also in going through this process.

The Income Tax ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester not being present to raise the matter for which adjournment notice had been given, the notice is deemed withdrawn.

Therefore, the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:34 p.m.)