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House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was security.

Topics

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat very simply that we have always said that we would favour a long term durable resolution to this issue and that we would be prepared at some point to sit down and negotiate this. The one thing that is not negotiable is the NAFTA. It must be respected.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, that rings pretty hollow. The Prime Minister clearly has flip-flopped on his softwood position, from hollow threats to the silent treatment and now the moving target approach.

How can the Prime Minister expect Americans to take his position seriously when he does not take it seriously himself?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has said that the Prime Minister does not take this issue seriously. In every meeting that he has had with his American counterpart, the President, he has raised the softwood issue. In all the meetings my colleagues and I have had with our U.S. counterparts, we have raised the issue. I can assure the House that it will be raised with the Secretary of State during her visit.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister has just finished telling us that the NAFTA panel ruling on softwood lumber is not negotiable, but at the same time that a long term agreement on this issue should be negotiated.

Could he tell this House what kind of agreement he has in mind, and whether it would differ from the ruling obtained under NAFTA?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, if an agreement on softwood lumber were reached, this agreement would be in the best interest of Canadians.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was not expecting the minister to tell us that he would try and negotiate an agreement that would be very bad for Canadians. Let us be serious here.

Since he told us that the NAFTA ruling has to be respected and since he mentioned a long term agreement, could the minister specify whether this agreement will essentially be based on the ruling obtained under NAFTA? That is the question.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is right. First, NAFTA has to be respected. Second, we are looking for a solution, one that will be long term and durable, to resolve this dispute.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, Ms. Rice's visit to Canada is an exceptional opportunity for the government to show just how determined it is in the softwood lumber issue. Forestry companies, as you know, have now paid out up to $5 billion in unjustified countervailing duties and are right in asking the federal government to grant them loan guarantees.

Will the government admit that refusing to grant these loan guarantees to the forestry companies is one way of refusing to make it really clear to the Americans that not only is the government talking tough, but it has also decided to take tough action in this matter?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry has already announced that he was taking care of this matter and the issues concerning support for the communities, the industry and the workers. He will be making an announcement in the near future.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec said in this House that we must be careful with loan guarantees because such a measure might “confirm the Americans in their position of imposing duties”. Yet, loan guarantees are authorized under the WTO and NAFTA.

Why does the government continue to refuse to grant these loan guarantees when they would make its position so much more credible to the U.S. government during Ms. Rice's visit?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, once again, the hon. member is right. We must always be very careful with our spending and so we will be.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Health said that privatization of the health care system was not a problem. I guess he knows this because the government last checked in 1998, seven years ago.

Since then, Ralph Klein has opened private hospitals. We have had Gordon Campbell opening and experimenting with private clinics. We have had Premier Hamm spreading private MRIs in Nova Scotia. Privatization Is growing everywhere. Then this morning the Prime Minister said that he agreed with the health minister.

Is it the position of the government now that private hospitals are simply nothing to worry about?

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, a more recent report was just issued by CIHI this year. It indicates there has been no increase in private spending on health care in the country in terms of the percentage.

Last weekend all the ministers of health from across the country agreed to ensure that we would meet the commitments established for us by all the first ministers across the country in September 2004, and we will. We will have benchmarks by the end of this year in all the priority areas as asked for by the first ministers.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, that party in government today ran in the year 2000 against Ralph Klein's private hospitals. It said that it was the fight of its life. It laid its reputation in front of Canadians on stopping private health care and private hospitals. Yet five years later we have the health minister and this Prime Minister apparently now welcoming and accepting these private hospitals in Canada.

When will the government live up to its commitment to Canadians and stop the growth of private health care here?

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that we have delivered on our commitment to strengthen public health care in this country with $41 billion, with an agreement by all of the first ministers, and with an agreement with all of the health ministers just this weekend.

The member who just spoke should be concerned about the opposition, which wants to gut the Canada Health Act and actually end the federal role in health care, like Preston Manning and Mike Harris. When people talk like a Tory and walk like a Tory, they are Tories. That is what those members want to do.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Except, Mr. Speaker, that as a Liberal he has taken the same position we have on the health care issue.

I am trying to discern the government's position on the softwood lumber dispute. Up until today, its position was that there would be no negotiations. I listened to the minister's answers to the Bloc. He said he was seeking a good deal for Canada, a negotiated settlement. Which is it? No negotiations or a negotiated settlement?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I will be very simple so the minister understands, so the member understands—

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I am sure the minister appreciates all the applause his answer has caused so far, but we have to be able to hear the answer. The minister will now want to resume with some order in the House.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Peterson Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I really slipped on that one.

Having said that, the answer is very simple. We are seeking a long term durable resolution to bring stability to our workers, our communities and our industry. At the same time, we are saying that NAFTA must be respected. The ECC has spoken. We want these rulings to be implemented.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the minister can say he is keeping his answers simple for himself, but they are getting increasingly convoluted.

The government has proclaimed to Canadians that there will be no negotiations after we win. Now the minister is getting up and laying down what a negotiated settlement would look like. The secretary of state of the United States is here today. Is the position to be no negotiations or we are looking for a negotiated settlement? Which is it?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

It is a very simple answer, Mr. Speaker. NAFTA must be respected. The NAFTA appeal court, the ECC, has spoken. We want those rulings to be implemented.

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said this past June that his government had “brought in all of the scientific evidence, all of the medical experts, in order to establish very clear benchmarks by the end of this year”.

The Prime Minister called this process urgent, and I agree, but obviously the Prime Minister and his health minister no longer share this sense of urgency.

If the government had all the evidence this past summer, why is the minister now backpedalling on his benchmark promises?

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that 13 ministers of health gathered in Toronto for the last two days and reaffirmed in a very robust fashion the commitment of the first ministers to the health care accord of 2004, which means that we will have benchmarks in all five areas by December 31, 2005. That is within two months.

I want to tell the hon. member, the fact is that your party wants to gut the Canada Health Act, wants to privatize health care and wants to end the federal role in health care. Now you are telling me that we are not--

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The minister of course will want to address his remarks to the Chair and not suggest that the Speaker's party is involved in anything. The hon. member for Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia.