House of Commons Hansard #55 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.


10 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall


February 10, 2005

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Marie Deschamps, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in her capacity as Deputy Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the schedule to this letter on the 10th day of February, 2005, at 5:40 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill C-14, an act to give effect to a land claims and self-government agreement among the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada, to make related amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts,

The House resumed from February 10, 2005, consideration of the motion that Bill C-32, an act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Department of Foreign Affairs ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, I am pleased to rise to address Bill C-32, as I did Bill C-31, to condemn this totally unacceptable operation on the part of the government, which consists in splitting the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade into two entities, namely the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

I am pleased to do so, because I really feel that I am fulfilling the role of the Bloc Québécois, which is to protect the interests of Quebec and also to show Quebeckers how a sovereign Quebec would promote its values and political interestsand to use its trade policy to meet these objectives.

Unfortunately, Quebec's interests are still being defended by Canada. Therefore, we must ensure that Canada has the necessary means to adequately protect Quebec's political and economic interests at the international level. However, this will not be the case with the splitting of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

We often hear from the Liberals, and I imagine the same is true for the Conservatives and the NDP, that Canada's foreign policy and commercial policy must promote great Canadian values. I agree with this. As a Quebecker, I hope that in a sovereign Quebec, the Quebec nation will base its foreign policy, commercial policy and international representation on promoting the values of Quebec society.

Unfortunately, I think the proposal being put forward by the government does not meet these objectives. Accordingly, as defenders of Quebec's interests and promoters of Quebec's sovereignty, we will oppose this bill.

As I was saying, this bill, which is associated with Bill C-31 totally lacks transparency, and I would even describe it as anti-democratic. I will come back to that. It is totally backward and goes against Canada's approach to foreign policy for the past 30 years whereby commercial policy was used as a lever in Canadian foreign policy and aimed, in an awkward and inadequate way, I agree, at promoting the great, so-called Canadian, values of democracy, social justice, fairness and social and economic progress.

It is a decision that will set us back 30 or 40 years. It is illogical on every level. I will come back to that. Finally, this decision to split the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is harmful to Canada's economic and political interests and likewise to Quebec's interests.

Obviously, faced with something so undemocratic, non-transparent, backward, illogical and harmful, the Bloc Québécois will vote against Bill C-32, just as it will vote against Bill C-31.

I want to remind hon. members that on December 12, 2003, the Governor General in Council passed an order in council under the Public Services Rearrangement and Transfer of Duties Act, separating the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade into two departments: Foreign Affairs Canada, and International Trade Canada.

What is extraordinary is that this order was handed down the same day the current Prime Minister was sworn in. I have said it before, but I want to say again that we are a little surprised by the speed with which the new Prime Minister was able to make such an important decision about splitting a department that, since the early 1970s, had merged these two missions: foreign affairs and international trade. We are not used to having the Liberal government act with such speed.

I can give the example of changes to the Employment Insurance Act. Since 2000, the Liberal government has been announcing, in election campaign after election campaign, a major overhaul of employment insurance to take into consideration the difficulties facing unemployed workers in seasonal industries who experience the black hole. Women and young people are not eligible for EI because they have to accumulate 910 hours of work before they can get benefits. The benefit level is insufficient, thereby creating child poverty, which the federal government is constantly condemning.

However, child poverty exists because parents are poor. And who made the parents poor? The current government did.

The government has been announcing an overhaul of EI since 2000, and we are still waiting. Obviously, we hope that, in the February 23 budget, the unemployed will see some solutions to their problems. However, this is the year 2005, and the decision still has not been made.

The same goes for the aerospace industry. During the election campaign, the government was able to announce a half a billion dollars for the auto industry, which is primarily if not almost entirely located in southern Ontario. A policy for the aerospace industry, which is primarily located in the greater Montreal region, is still under consideration. Without a decision, there can be no such policy.

The list goes on and on, and includes areas such as the clothing and textile industries. In April 2003, the Standing Committee on Finance tabled a report containing numerous proposals. The government waited until December, when there was a crisis that led to the closure of six textile mills in Huntingdon, before following up on this report. However, since June 28, the government could have taken the necessary actions to help the clothing and textile industries, which are currently experiencing a very important transition.

What is more, the measures announced in December are clearly not enough. From the questions we asked of the Minister of Industry, we have the clear impression that the government has no intention of doing any more than it announced in December. The Canadian Textile Institute itself feels these measures were inadequate and incomplete. We are still waiting for action.

The same goes for what we are discussing today. In two throne speeches, February 2004 and October 2004, new directions for foreign policy were announced. We are still waiting for them. The Minister of Foreign Affairs told the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade that he planned to do so in December. Here we are still, nearly mid-February, with no indication as to when the minister or the government plans to make these foreign affairs directions public.

This of course has an impact on the work of the committee, and in fact we are incapable of planning our work in any useful way for the coming months. We will need to consult Canadians and Quebeckers on these directions, which I repeat have been announced in two throne speeches by this government.

The Prime Minister reached a fast decision, the very same day he was sworn in. Whom did he consult? We do not know. Certainly not the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, nor the major organizations concerned by such issues, such as those involved in international solidarity or international cooperation, nor even the major coalitions of exporters or groups concerned with defending economic interests. So we are told, anyway. Who, then, was consulted that the government moved so quickly to try to split up Foreign Affairs and International Trade?

The Minister of International Affairs has given us a few ideas. When we asked him what the decision to split up the department was based on, he could not come up with an answer. Between you and me, the minister is not too thrilled with this decision by the PM. He was probably not consulted either.

Nonetheless, because he is a good soldier, the foreign affairs minister said, and I quote:

Consultations are still going on. The government has always kept communications open with large associations of exporters and other representatives of economic groups.

Later on, he added:

This time, after discussing the issue with various people, the Prime Minister decided otherwise.

What the minister is telling us is that consultations are always held. Each meeting or chat the foreign affairs minister or the international trade minister has with somebody probably qualifies as a consultation. I guess this is the kind of discussion we are dealing with here.

As I mentioned earlier, these are certainly not structured consultations. We are being told the Prime Minister has discussed this issue with various people, probably in his own entourage, and probably even before he was sworn in, since he has been able to move very quickly.

The foreign affairs minister's remarks are quite interesting. He said that, after discussing with various people, the Prime Minister decided otherwise. It means that even people in his inner circle advised him against splitting the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He had made up his mind, but on what basis? We do not know. This decision has no analytical or political basis whatsoever. It is probably a concept that is dear to him for whatever obscure reasons that, to this day, we do not know, and that nobody has been able to explain. This is not a transparent and democratic decision. It did not draw on the usual parliamentary mechanisms.

We find ourselves faced with a fait accompli. This order in council in December 2003, followed by the tabling, a year later, of Bills C-31, An Act to establish the Department of International Trade and to make related amendments to certain Acts, and C-32, An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, is an attempt at setting a done deal in front of Parliament, namely the partition of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of International Trade into two separate entities. That is profoundly anti-democratic.

I would like to remind the House that Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail was calling out for Hercule Poirot, that great detective and character invented by Agatha Christie, whose books you have probably read, imploring him to come to Ottawa to investigate whose absurd idea it was to slice up the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. It is a non-democratic, non-transparent and unfounded decision.

It is a step backwards, which is my second point. I would like to quote once again, because I think it is not well enough known by the public and the media, a letter to the chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, dated December 8, 2004, from the president of the Retired Heads of Mission Association. The first paragraph says it all:

Our Association, which is composed of approximately 270 former Canadian Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consuls General, is deeply concerned about the future of the Canadian Foreign Service. Recently, we have had to come reluctantly to the conclusion that our Foreign Service is being gradually dismantled. One clear manifestation of this happening is the recent decision to split the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).

I am not the one who says this: it is the association of retired heads of mission. The letter concludes with this:

As former diplomats and officials of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Commerce, Immigration and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), our members have personally experienced the difficulties of integrating coherently these two crucial sectors of Canada's foreign policy. Thus, we believe that the decision to partition DFAIT is unfortunate and a step backwards.

These former representatives of Canada around the world came to this conclusion based on their experience.

So, why is this backward? Why are these 270 former foreign affairs officials raising this? It is because this improv decision, until proven otherwise, the government was not able to explain the basis of this decision to us, goes against the past 30 years of integrating all elements of Canadian foreign policy within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Let us recall that in 1971, under Pierre Elliott Trudeau, we started integrating functions of an external nature within the Department of Foreign Affairs. Then, in 1982, trade commissioners were included, over a ten year period. There was reflection and consultation, even though Mr. Trudeau cannot be said to be the greatest democrat in the world. It was concluded that trade representatives had to be included in the Department of Foreign Affairs. Thus, since 1982, we have had the functions of foreign affairs, international trade and everything relating to immigration, particularly to refugees, and international trade.

All that was overseen by the department, and they struggled to find a measure of consistency, synergy. Besides, retired diplomats also mention it. Indeed, it is difficult to achieve consistency and synergy in all those missions. That vision of things was maintained under the Mulroney and Chrétien governments.

Of course, this is the source of a problem, because the Department of Foreign Affairs and of International Trade has not developed harmoniously, in a straight line and free of problems over the past 30 years. It had problems. These problems were due less to administrative issues, and to the fact that four missions were combined, foreign affairs, international trade, foreign aid and immigration, particularly refugee matters, in one department. They have more to do, since the beginning of the 1990s, first with the Conservatives, then with the Liberals have cut the resources of the Department of Foreign Affairs and of International Trade.

The present Prime Minister, when he was finance minister, is one of the people primarily responsible for this operation. Clearly, since there was not enough funds, choices had to be made. Officials tried to maintain the essential missions of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. They set aside or relegated the issues pertaining to foreign aid, immigration and refugees in favour of matters of foreign affairs and international trade.

Therefore, the solution, and Jeffrey Simpson shares this analysis, is not to split a department which is trying to ensure consistency in all of the functions of Canada's foreign policy, but rather to reinvest the resources necessary for this department to be able to assume its various responsibilities.

So, this is a backward decision. It is also illogical, that is the third point, because it puts the cart before the horse. The past two throne speeches have announced a review of Canada's foreign policy. Why then proceed with the administrative partition of a department as important as the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade before even debating the basis of the policy directions.

Normally, and Napoleon would agree, strategic, political decisions are made, and logistics follow. In this instance, the opposite occurred. A decision is made, and then a discussion is held on what should underlie an administrative decision. This is totally illogical. A decision is made and presented to Parliament as a fait accompli, if possible, and then a discussion of the broad directions in foreign policy will be announced.

The administrative split of the mandate of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will taint the debate. This brings us to the other point: the fact that this decision will be harmful to Canada's economic and political interests, because separating foreign affairs from trade policy is not possible.

I will remind the hon. members that today is the 15th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release, in 1990, which spelled the end of apartheid in South Africa. I remember very well that it did not happen out of the blue. First decisions were made by civil society, and later by governments, to boycott products from and investments in South Africa. I remember clearly that my father would not buy wine from South Africa at the Quebec liquor board. The liquor board, which might have undergone a name change during that time, was forced to stop buying wine from South Africa. I also remember a boycott on Shell to get it withdraw its investments in South Africa. These trade policy pressures, combined with diplomatic pressures, of course, paved the way for Mandela's release and the end of apartheid in South Africa.

How can we separate the two elements? When the Prime Minister recently went to Asia, whether in Japan or in China, he discussed both trade policies and foreign affairs. You cannot go to China and only speak of international trade without addressing the human rights issue. When he went to Japan, the Prime Minister discussed the upcoming G-8 summit on climate change. This and the Kyoto protocol are linked both to foreign affairs and to international trade.

Splitting the department in two will weaken both Canadian foreign policy and trade policy at the same time. The ambassadors will only be accountable for their diplomatic performance. They will no longer be accountable to the Minister of International Trade. Indeed, Canada will lose on both fronts, economic and political.

For all these reasons, you will understand that we cannot support this kind of hare-brained improvisation, which will ultimately be detrimental to the interests of Canada and, consequently, those of Quebec.

Department of Foreign Affairs ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Pickering—Scarborough East Ontario


Dan McTeague LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to ask a question of the hon. member of the Bloc Québecois, who finds that there is no reason to split the department in two. I find that interesting, not to say daring, for a party that seeks to split up our country. He is here to work himself into a state and to make sure that there is no separation between departments.

I will find a few examples, because he feels that this decision was a step backwards. I know that the member is not aware of all the things that have been done recently but, in the case of the tsunami, it was not a question of international trade, but of foreign affairs. We recognize that we live in a global world. Large countries are currently increasing their potential and broadening their policies. I am thinking about China, Brazil and India. Those are examples that show that the world has changed a lot.

We must also take into account the fact that, in foreign affairs, policy considerations differ from those pertaining to trade.

Department of Foreign Affairs ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Unbelievable, reactionary.

Department of Foreign Affairs ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

If I have heard correctly, the hon. member has just said that there are no differences and that both fields must be paired.

When we want to talk about human rights or, as this hon. member knows, consular affairs, what in the name of goodness could that have to do with commerce?

The reality is that in many respects we have to judge the changing and evolving world, which that party simply does not get. The reality, however, is that there are other dimensions to our foreign affairs policies, and they deal with defence, of course, and immigration, as the hon. member has just discussed. Let us not lose sight of what the bill is all about it. It formalizes a process by law, which the hon. member does not want to consider, which permits the government by order in council under a bill to proceed with the division of the department. This is the formal process in which the member can have a debate.

That member and I sit on the same committee on foreign affairs. Not once in the time he has been a member, or in the past year and a half that I have been a member, has an issue come up on the subject of trade. Indeed, that member will know this, because his colleague, who is also the critic for foreign affairs, has brought several motions forward, not one of them dealing with commerce.

I therefore will ask the hon. member this. Since this issue has already taken place and the division is already occurring, and because of the maturity of both the foreign affairs element of our department and commerce, often not inextricably linked as he suggested but just the opposite, moving in very different directions to ensure the interests of the whole country, would he not agree that it is time for the Bloc Québécois and that member to get their facts together and to modernize their thinking about the world around them as opposed to the insular politics on which they are founding those kind of comments?

Department of Foreign Affairs ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely mind-boggling to listen to the parliamentary secretary. If he were at the Davos Economic Forum, he would be taken for an ultra-right guy. At this very moment, the forum is focusing on social issues and democracy than on commercial issues. Globalization is about opening markets but also about standing up for democracy and promotion rights, namely union, democratic and environmental rights, as well as cultural diversity rights. If the member still does not get that, he is 30 years behind.

Besides, he argues that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade does not deal with commercial matters. The sole fact that the committee decided to study simultaneously Bill C-31 establishing the Department of International Trade and Bill C-32 on the Foreign Affairs Department proves that this the member is wrong. The matter was not referred to the sub-committee on investment and international trade, because it was thought that it was about foreign affairs as well as international trade and, therefore, had to be addressed by the committee itself.

We are presently studying Bill C-25 on remote sensing satellites. This bill is about international trade, since the Canadian industry hopes to sell images throughout the world, but also about foreign affairs because we do not want those images to work against the military and trade interests of Canada.

Members will understand the point I was trying to make about the partition of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Department. It is the result of a retrograde vision of international trade and foreign affairs.

The parliamentary secretary should know that at least 60% to 70% of our foreign affairs are about trade policy and that the best way for Canada to promote its values and vision is to communicate its ideas through its trade policy.

The comments of the secretary parliamentary only served to reinforce my belief that this decision goes against common sense and modernity. I am more convinced than ever that the Bloc Québécois will vote against this bill and I invite all members to vote against those two bills.

Department of Foreign Affairs ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Maka Kotto Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my colleague for his very eloquent speech. His reference to South Africa was very relevant.

We know now that Quebec's destiny today is defined by a logic of dependency. It is not simply a question of the technical separation of international trade and foreign affairs. This would take us into issues with broader ramifications in terms of values that we share, or maybe that we do not share, in light of what I am hearing from the members opposite.

I ask my colleague if such a thing could be considered in a sovereign Quebec.

Department of Foreign Affairs ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think the parliamentary secretary missed the beginning of my remarks, where I was answering him for a second time. I will avail myself of the question from the member for Saint-Lambert, whom I thank, by the way, for asking it, to remind the House why this debate is so important to us. As I mentioned in my first response, first, making this decision goes against the economic and political interest of Canada. Moreover, this decision will have repercussions on the economic and political interests of Quebec, as we are unfortunately still part of Canada and as a large part of our presence abroad is assured by the Canadian government.

Therefore, we want the Canadian government to be organized in a smart way in order to promote a number of values shared by Quebec and Canada, because we do share several, such as the promotion of Canada's economic interests.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, not only do we want to defend a situation, but we want to promote a vision of things. What all sovereignists in the Bloc Québécois, the Parti Québécois and other movements think is that globalization is no longer a simple business matter. It has been much more than that for a long time. First, the opening of markets has social repercussions. For instance, the textile and clothing industries are currently undergoing restructuring. This also has cultural ramifications. Quebec's culture is threatened, but so is Canada's. They may not be sufficiently aware, but in Latin American countries, their culture is also threatened not by American culture, but by a conception of American culture which is that of big business and entertainment, rather than purely cultural. The same goes for the environmental domain.

The government will thus need to be organized in such a way as to adopt a comprehensive vision of all those missions. In fact, it was present in the Speech from the Throne. Unfortunately, what I observe in this government, is that it says one thing and does another. Back when I worked with the CSN, we used to say that it puts the left blinker on, but makes a right turn.

I will read you only one sentence with which I totally agree, but which does not have any echo in the decision that is being forced down our throats. It is on page 13 of the Speech from the Throne of October 5, 2004:

Just as Canada's domestic and international policies must work in concert—

We saw it with Wal-Mart, which is a prime example of rampant globalization in Quebec, hence, here in Canada.

—so too must our defence, diplomacy, development and trade efforts work in concert.

We are well aware that all of that must be part of a unified vision of foreign affairs and of a country's responsibilities towards the world. I will continue to quote the paragraph because I alluded to the next part:

This fall, the Government will release a comprehensive International Policy Statement that will reflect this integration.

The decision to separate the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of International Trade is not integration, but dispersal. This is typical of the government. It has so many priorities that it has none. It has so many visions that it has none. The most concrete illustration of that is the introduction of Bills C-31 and C-32 without consultations, in an attempt to present Parliament with a fait accompli. We will not accept this.

Department of Foreign Affairs ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on Bill C-32. As has been mentioned before, Bill C-31 and Bill C-32 are companion bills, which we will be dealing with over the course of time.

In my role as CIDA critic, I have had the opportunity to take part in a few foreign affairs committee meetings recently while our critic from Halifax was travelling on business related to the committee. It was interesting to hear my colleague from the Liberals say there was no necessity to have international trade as part of the foreign affairs committee.

I was glad to hear my colleague from the Bloc mention that in just the last week, in the only meetings I have attended, we were dealing with issues of trade, specifically Bill C-25 and RADARSAT. That certainly very much was commercialization; that was what we were talking about. It was a commercialized agreement made with the U.S. on dealing with images that come through RADARSAT.

Just as a note on that one before I get into my real discussion on Bill C-32, it was interesting to find out at the meeting that the Government of Canada had given a company $430 million to put RADARSAT in place. The company invested $92 million and said, “Here is a deal”. We thought Joey Smallwood made the best deal in Newfoundland for the sale of power from Churchill Falls, but let me tell members that the government proved it could come up with a better deal. From the Government of Canada, from the taxpayers, $430 million, and from the company, $92 million, so let us guess who owns it: the company that put in $92 million. Let us guess what else: Canada is going to pay for the images. Is that not a deal? As well, if that satellite happens to fall out of the sky and creates some problems, we cover the liability. What a deal for us.

Let me say that we do not want these people negotiating too many things on our behalf. I was shocked. I thought I had heard it all, but it actually gets better. I hope we will have a chance to discuss it more when we debate Bill C-25, but if Canadians want some real fine tuning, they should pay attention to it and ask some questions about that bill when it comes before the House.

Just to get back to Bill C-32, because this is an important issue, I think it is important that I read out exactly what Bill C-32 does.Canadians probably do not realize exactly how a bill comes before us. We get a piece of paper with the name of the bill on the front and it tells us pretty much what the bill will do. Inside the bill there is a recommendation. Here is what the recommendation on this bill states:

Her Excellency the Governor General recommends to the House of Commons the appropriation of public revenue under the circumstances, in the manner and for the purposes set out in a measure entitled “An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts”.

I want to specify what “the appropriation of public revenue” is, because there is no question that what we are dealing with here is an additional cost to the Canadian taxpayers. There is no question about that.

This is happening at a time when we have a situation in our country in which the government, despite having a surplus, has taken more and more dollars from numerous programs. As a result we do not have, in my view, enough money in old age security for our seniors. We have taken dollars from the EI fund, so there is not enough money for EI benefits. We have issues with child poverty. There is not enough money to address that. We do not have a national housing policy. There are huge shortages of housing around our nation. They are huge in the first nations communities in my riding, and there are absolutely appalling conditions. There are shortages all over the country, not just in first nations communities.

In this situation, our municipalities and our cities are fighting for infrastructure dollars, trying to get tax dollars back because they have to repair the infrastructure. We have a situation where water and sewer infrastructure is lacking in numerous communities throughout the country. We have shortages in our health care as far as trained professionals and other individuals are concerned. There are shortages of health care equipment.

There are huge issues around the country, but what is the government's priority? It is going to set aside money to have separate departments for foreign affairs and international trade. Some might argue that this would cost only a small amount of money. Even if it is $1 million or $2 million, that would be enough money to put more MRI machines where they are needed. It would be enough money to enable us to give more money to seniors. It would be enough money to give additional assistance in pharmacare programs. It would be additional money for post-secondary education. It is not okay to say that it is just a small amount of money. It is an additional cost, and there other costs as well.

I will go to another section of the bill. It states:

The Governor in Council may appoint two Associate Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs,--

And it goes on:

The Governor in Council may designate one of the Associate Deputy Ministers appointed under subsection (1) to be Deputy Minister for Political Affairs.

We are talking about a whole new bureaucracy being involved in setting up this department. In my view we do not have the exact costs here. I know it is going to be more of a cost and the question is whether we should be putting taxpayers' dollars in at this point in time, if ever.

Apart from that, Canadians need to know that it was just over a decade ago that the federal government merged foreign affairs and international trade. They were merged 10 years ago. Now we are going to spend some money and demerge them. Why are we doing this? One observer said that it was because the Prime Minister wants to. He wants to. There is no real justification for having to do this. It is, quite frankly, the opposite. There is justification for not doing this.

My colleague from the Bloc, the member for Joliette, mentioned a number of reasons. They are very valid reasons. International trade and foreign affairs are tied together. Each and every trip that I have ever gone on, when we are dealing with issues related to another country and we are meeting with the different officials from that country, there is always discussion of issues related to trade and foreign affairs.

I am pleased to say that on a recent trip we had discussions with colleagues in Viet Nam, Russia and China. We dealt with trade issues and had discussions with these colleagues. We also dealt with issues of human rights. All of this comes together and we know that it should.

As my colleague from Joliette mentioned, if we are going to deal in trade and do business with a country, then we should be able to say to that country that it has to do certain things as far as human rights, labour legislation and the protection of workers is concerned. We must talk about human rights and treating everyone fairly in that country.

We must be able to ask if there are practices in place where people do not have the right of religious expression. We must be able to say that we want people to be given that opportunity. We should be able to have those discussions.

I hope my colleagues from the Conservative Party will go a step beyond saying they will look after business and support this because it is the best thing for business and trade.

The reality is that it is not in the best interests for Canada to do business with certain countries. My colleague from the Conservatives has criticized the state of human rights in China. Does that party not think it is important that when we are dealing with trade and foreign affairs that we should be able to say to China that as a country it must make moves in this area? China has one of the most undemocratic and hostile regimes as far as human rights. Do the Conservatives not think that those things should come together? Is that not what doing business together and improving things for everyone throughout the world is about? It certainly is in my view.

My colleague from Joliette also mentioned Wal-Mart. We have seen the situation where the one unionized Wal-Mart in Canada will be closed. We can think that it is not a federal government issue. In itself it may not be a federal government issue. However, the issue is to recognize why Wal-Mart is doing that. We do not want to be promoting that kind of a position within our country. We do not want to be doing that. Canadians believe that the right of representation is there.

More and more I am seeing issues where this government is accepting the crawl to the bottom of the barrel. It is the basis on what the government is willing to accept as far as human rights are concerned. I know of various situations. I have heard of numerous cases in the United States where Wal-Mart pays the lowest wages possible so that all of their workers will be able to get medicaid. Then Wal-Mart does not have to be pay anything from the company.

I was in the U.S. at a time when a story broke where Wal-Mart had signed contracts with a company to do the cleaning of its stores, knowing full well that the company was using illegal workers. Therefore, the company could pay the workers less and, as a result, Wal-Mart paid less for the cleaning.

We do not want to be promoting that. We want to stand behind good, decent values in support of each other and decent wages for individuals. More and more I see this kind of action, saying we do not want to tie human rights with trade because somehow trade is the ultimate. Companies having the right to trade is the ultimate goal. It is not mine. It is not my ultimate goal. I do not see human beings as a natural resource for companies to make a buck off of them. That is not how I base my life and I would hope it is not how others do as well.

I went off on a bit of a tangent, but when one starts to realize what seems to be happening in one's own country, it is starting to look an awful lot like what is happening in some other countries. One wants to ensure that the government is made to face it once in a while and have its members realize exactly what is happening because so often they do not know exactly what is happening in each and every area.

I am going to have to tie Bill C-32 and Bill C-31 together because another issue in this whole discussion is the fact that the government is in the process, so we hear, of an international policy review. It is beyond my wildest imagination why we would be spending money and time on an international policy review when the report has not been finalized and been given to someone to review or had a whole scope of meetings with the country.

The government says it is in the process of an international policy review, but before getting the results of that international policy review it is going to divide international trade and foreign affairs. It seems absolutely ridiculous. We use the terminology that it is putting the cart before the horse. No kidding.

It would be the same as spending a whole pile of money on the Romanow report on health care, but before even getting the report the government would go ahead and implement new programs and do different things in health care. I guess I cannot say it is the same because there was no hope of anything being implemented in health care by the government, so I probably should not have used that analogy.

The reality with Bill C-31 and Bill C-32 is that it makes no sense to be carrying out an international policy review. People in my riding from the multicultural community contact me and say they want to have some discussions on the international policy review. There are people who have been actively involved in our communities since they came to Canada. They have taken a personal interest in the workings of our government and country, and want to be part of that international policy review. What is it saying to all those people who were going to do that job quite seriously and get their input in the international policy review if the government rushes to separate two departments with no justification for doing so?

My colleague from Joliette mentioned the 270 former diplomats who think this is a crazy thing to do. Certainly they must be in the know. They are the ones who have been involved in this for years. It is really a strange situation. It has us wondering why the government is doing this. What is the great benefit? I must say that I have not heard a really good reason yet.

I want to talk about an area where the government could have moved. As the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade exists now, we have the Canadian International Development Agency and there is a minister for CIDA, but there is no legislation in this country to mandate CIDA. That is a piece of legislation we should have been dealing with, a mandate for CIDA.

It spends a huge amount of money and is supported by Canadians because we are caring individuals and value our representation, and we support what our country does for the world. Is there a mandate for CIDA spending millions of dollars? There is no mandate for CIDA. The government's priority is a piece of legislation to separate the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. There is no legislation to mandate CIDA. That is unacceptable. It is absolutely unacceptable that this would be the government's priority and not CIDA.

The issue of not having a mandate for CIDA is twofold. First, we do not know for sure exactly what CIDA is supposed to be supporting and what Canadians want CIDA to do. Most Canadians want to see CIDA dealing with the alleviation of poverty. That should be the mandate. The other area that Canadians want to see, and they want to see this in all aspects of government but certainly in CIDA, is the transparency and accountability of CIDA dollars, of Canadian taxpayers' dollars. With no legislation for CIDA, how do we ensure that? How do we ensure that Canadian taxpayers' dollars given to CIDA will be followed through, and have the accountability and transparency that Canadians want?

I say to the government and to all my colleagues in the House not to accept these pieces of legislation. There is absolutely no urgency to do it. It is unconscionable to be accepting these pieces of legislation before the international policy review. I hope the people in all of our communities will come out and say to us that it is not okay to be doing this, it is not okay to be spending taxpayers' money. If the government is going to do this then it should forget the international policy review because there is no point. It is a farce. It is slap in the face. The government does not care what people have to say. It is going to go ahead and do this first. It is not acceptable.

If my colleagues want to really have a priority, they should give CIDA a mandate. Canadians have shown what kind of people they are during the tsunami disaster. They came out wholeheartedly and wanted to help out. We need people to help out on a continual basis and we need taxpayers' dollars, stable funding, and funding that we can tell year by year is going to meet the needs of our assistance in the world. We need a mandate for CIDA far more than we need Bills C-31 and C-32.

Department of Foreign Affairs ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Pickering—Scarborough East Ontario


Dan McTeague LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the hon. member for Churchill. I have a great deal of respect for that member of Parliament and I know she speaks very passionately.

The irony of course with her comments is that all of the concerns that she has raised, and those of her colleague from the Bloc Québécois and his party that she is supporting, on culture, human rights, peace, and yes, she even used the same example I gave on two occasions already on the tsunami, speak not for the reasons to keep this department together, but if we are going to respect the modernization of where Canadians are domestically, globally and internationally, then she could not but come to a conclusion other than the fact that there is an inconsistency with trade and our politics on foreign affairs.

The member is well travelled, as she has well described, as are some members in the House. I am glad to hear that. If we are to take seriously our relationship with other countries, not as a means to ensuring trade, the first thing we hear from those from other parts of the world is that we should be involved in understanding their cultures better. What better way to do that than to recognize Canada's diversity, which works for us in so many ways, to create links around the world that do not just take into consideration how much money we are going to make at the end of the day. That comes after and it is based on trust and relationships.

Our world has changed. Our consular services had nearly 200,000 inquiries by Canadians last year. The disaster of the tsunami that she pointed out had nothing to do, I hope, with anything related to international trade.

The hon. member has given a passionate and direct argument as to why she will not be supporting the bill. Ironically, those are the very arguments I would use to say that she has and must support the bill out of interest to ensure that our foreign policy not be connected with our trade policy.

As to the member for Saint-Lambert, and based on what the member for Joliette had already said, who talked about the 15th anniversary of the freeing of Nelson Mandela, I want to remind those members over there who were not here in the House that it was in 1960-61 that John Diefenbaker led the charge to ensure that country was reprimanded for what it had done. That was a matter of foreign policy, and to connect that, although it may be convenient from a trade perspective or from a monetary perspective, loses sight of Canadian values and what we stand for: dignity and respect for human rights.

If human rights mean anything to those members from the Bloc or the NDP, they could not but conclude that this is the right approach and that Foreign Affairs should not be linked with International Trade. I understand the 270 former diplomats who were diplomats during the period of the great unity between the department, but times have changed. Understanding what the hon. member has just said, would she not agree that change is a very strong argument to ensure that foreign policy, human rights, peace and culture become the priority of Foreign Affairs, not money?

Department of Foreign Affairs ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, actually a couple of the words which my colleague used would be reasons that I do not trust the government's motives. Those words are “trust” and “relationship”.

There is no trust in the government in the reasons it does anything any more. I do not trust the government to do this for the right reasons. What I have seen from the government is a climb down to the bottom in everything it does by not ensuring when it sets out trade deals that all the other aspects are not affected.

I cannot help but see that when we are working out a trade deal or whatever in relation to how we are going to treat the workers in our country. We have heard time and time again in the House that businesses are moving to other countries which have lower human rights standards, lower labour standards and cheaper working conditions. People worry about getting a toy at McDonald's for a cheap rate while someone is being abused in the country where it is being made. That is not acceptable.

It must be a holistic approach where trade and foreign affairs come together. I think the government only in the issue of the bill will say, “We want to be separate. We want to use foreign affairs as a way to fight for human rights”. We do not need a mandate for foreign affairs on human rights. It should be part of every aspect of every job we do. We should not have to divide it before we can work for those things. If that is the issue, the government has an even bigger problem than I thought. It is not acceptable.

Reverend John C. Holland AwardsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently had the pleasure of attending the Reverend John C. Holland Awards dinner. This annual event held in his honour recognizes the accomplishments made by members of the black community.

The son of a runaway slave, Reverend Holland persevered the racist times he lived in and realized his dream of becoming a United Church minister. He was eventually recognized and honoured as a distinguished citizen of Hamilton.

At this year's dinner Dr. Ray Johnson received the Black History Award of Merit. Aminah Rock received the Youth Achievement award. Dr. Juliet Daniel received the Professional Achievement award. George Kerr received the Ray Lewis Sport Achievement award. Lloyd Turner received the Community Service award. Four Youth Scholarship awards were also presented to Nicole Williams, Nailah Gordon-Decicieo, Jairus Goodridge and Jelaine Foster.

Congratulations to all the award winners for their outstanding contributions to the community.

AgricultureStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Barry Devolin Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, as you probably know, February 8 was Food Freedom Day in Canada. This means that in just 39 days Canadian families earned enough to pay for their food for 2005. As recently as 1997 Food Freedom Day was February 15. In just eight years the percentage of income spent on food in Canada has dropped by more than 15%.

While consumers celebrate the fact that they are spending less on food, this also means farmers are receiving less for what they produce, at the very time they are paying more for the inputs they must use to produce it. In the opinion of many, the inevitable result of this cost price squeeze on farmers will be the erosion of our very capacity to produce food in Canada.

In my opinion, the only way to stem this tide is a commitment to sustainable food production in Canada. That is why I believe we need a Canadian food strategy to ensure we still have farmers in Canada 10 years from now, 20 years from now, and 50 years from now.

Women's Artistic GymnasticsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Marc Godbout Liberal Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, in preparation for the upcoming provincial gymnastics championship in April, there will be two competitive women's artistic gymnastics events from February 25 to February 27 in Orléans.

Over 130 athletes from across Ontario and western Quebec will compete in the qualifier. Over 130 clubs will compete in the Tumblers' Winter Classic. The Tumblers Gymnastics Centre in Orléans, a non-profit club run by volunteers in our community, will be hosting the event. The theme for this event is “Proudly Canadian”. To honour our Canadian heritage, the club will be producing a program with messages from key Canadians recognizing the talent and dedication of the young athletes.

This is the kind of leadership and the kind of message I am proud to say are typical of Ottawa--Orléans. Together we can make our country and our community better.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada must recognize the significant contribution of UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves in Canada.

These reserves contribute to the conservation of ecosystems, species and genetic variation. Furthermore, they promote education, as well as economic and human development that is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable.

However, our biosphere reserves are unable to completely fulfill their mandate due to a lack of financial resources. The Coopérative de solidarité de la réserve mondiale de la biosphère du lac Saint-Pierre is currently seeking funding from Canada Economic Development.

Instead of providing funding through all the usual programs, however, the government should designate adequate and recurring funding for all the UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves in Canada.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActStatements By Members

11 a.m.


John Maloney Liberal Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the all-party steel caucus, I would like to communicate our position that private member's Bill C-223 merits further study at committee stage.

Many past and present employees of the steel industry are being seriously affected by the shake-up that is occurring in this sector. As a result, provisions in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act are being implemented and these employees and pensioners find themselves at a disadvantage to other creditors after years of hard toil and loyal service, and at a time in their lives when it is most difficult to start over.

This issue is not unique to either the steel industry or even to Canada. It is a growing serious concern for men and women across the country. The steel caucus is unanimous that a serious study of the provisions of Bill C-223 as they relate to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act is required.

Our position has been communicated to the Minister of Industry and a copy has been sent to all members of the House of Commons. Let us have a full review of this issue. Our employees and pensioners deserve nothing less.

Manufacturing IndustryStatements By Members

11 a.m.


James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to applaud Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters on the release of its excellent plan, “20/20: Building Our Vision for The Future”. This plan is very timely in light of the wage stagnation in Canada, the growing productivity gap between Canada and the United States, and increasing challenges from and opportunities in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil.

The CME calls on the government to rebuild and enhance our relationship with our major trading partner, the United States, to ensure that our goods have access to the world's richest market. To do this we must address its legitimate security concerns and invest in key upgrade projects at the border.

The report also highlights the need to reduce the tax and regulatory burden on Canadian businesses. We must harmonize our regulations both within Canada and with our major trading partners to reduce the costs for business. Business taxes should be reduced and existing tax credits and capital cost allowances should be improved to better assist manufacturers. The Canadian government must also begin to look at an overall energy framework and realize the importance of a reliable cost effective energy supply to the Canadian economy.

We must above all recognize and appreciate the importance of the manufacturing sector in Canada.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, February 12, 2004 marks the sixth annual Black History Month program in Ottawa. The theme of the program is “Keepers of the Story: Making a Difference--the Power of Choice”.

This history in the street is a contemporary tribute to historic persons who laid the foundation for our human rights culture in Canada. They include Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, Chief Justice William Osgoode, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, the Hon. George Brown, Isabella Brown and Lord Elgin.

In 1793 Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe and his cabinet passed the first anti-slave trade bill in the British Empire and opened the way to the underground railroad movement to Canada. It was our nation's first anti-discrimination legislation.

The 12th of February honours Nelson Mandela, an honorary citizen of Canada who opted for reconciliation after walking to freedom in Africa on February 11, 1990.

This initiative of the J'Nikira Dinqinesh Education Centre is presented with Dalhousie University's chair of Black Canadian Studies, Library and Archives Canada, with assistance from the Ottawa--

Black History MonthStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.

Horticulture Week 2005Statements By Members

February 11th, 2005 / 11:05 a.m.


Denise Poirier-Rivard Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to draw attention to the Semaine horticole 2005, sponsored by the Conseil québécois de l'horticulture. This year's theme has to do with markets.

Horticulture is an extremely important economic sector for Quebec. This industry generates total annual sales of nearly $700 million. Its development and its future are intimately linked to its high level of excellence, as well as improved access to markets. The same is true for all agricultural production in Quebec.

However, horticulture is much more than just a lucrative industry. The Fédération des sociétés d'horticulture et d'écologie du Québec has over 60,000 members throughout every region, city and town in Quebec. These many members want to serve their neighbours and their environment through improved quality of life and the beautification of their respective communities.

So, hats off to all the green thumbs in Quebec. The Bloc Québécois wishes them success in both their personal and business ventures. Happy horticulture week 2005.

SmokingStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, smoking kills. Every year 40,000 Canadians die as a result of this habit. What is also lethal is second-hand smoke, particularly for children. Children are more susceptible to an array of illnesses, including croup, pneumonias, leukemias, other cancers, and bronchitis.

Children whose parents smoke are more than twice as likely to smoke as compared to children whose parents are non-smokers. I beseech all Canadians not to smoke, but those who do smoke should not smoke around others, particularly children, because the smoke will make them sicker. Their lives depend on it.

Bowl for Kids' SakeStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Bev Oda Conservative Clarington—Scugog—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, Big Brothers and Sisters of Clarington has been making a difference in the lives of young people for over 28 years. Big Brothers and Sisters delivers high quality volunteer based programs to children and youth, creating positive relationships.

The Clarington Big Brothers and Sisters in my riding has recently expanded its in school mentoring program. This means the benefits of this valuable program will now be available to more families in Clarington.

Each year more than 1,000 volunteers, families and businesses take part in the Bowl for Kids' Sake fundraiser. I encourage everyone to put together a team and bowl for the kids' sake. It is not about how well one bowls, but how one makes a difference in a child's life.

I also wish much success to the members of Team Oda who will be bowling on February 21 at the Liberty Bowl.

Tlicho First NationStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this very building we witnessed a celebration of joy as one of Canada's northern peoples took another important step in the collective fulfillment of a dream generations in the making.

As the Tlicho agreement made its way through different parliaments, a whole people watched, hoped and allowed themselves to dream that one day they would have a settled land claim and self-government for their people.

Nearly 100 people from the Tlicho, young and old, came to Ottawa this week to witness the fulfillment of this dream and to bring home the agreement that they had been working on for years. Yesterday, as Parliament brought them one step closer, that collectively held breath exploded in joy, song and celebration.

I would like to congratulate the minister and all those who have worked hard on this agreement and to acknowledge our shared joy with the Tlicho in the fulfillment of their dream, the settlement of their land claim and the self-government that they have sought and finally achieved.

International DevelopmentStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, this month we celebrated International Development Week. It was a time for us to reflect on what Canada could do to make the world better.

Following the tragic events in South and Southeast Asia, Canadians responded generously, and the men and women of our armed forces continue to help in the field, delivering fresh water and assistance. However, we need to do more than look at short term crises and problems. We need to look down the road at the bigger questions. CIDA needs to be more than such an agency governed by a one sentence order in council written in 1968.

We need to follow the lead of other countries and establish a legislative mandate for CIDA. We also need to meet the commitment of .7% of GDP going to foreign aid, first established by the Pearson Commission 35 years ago.

The Liberal government remains one of the stingiest in the world, giving only .24% last year, down from .42% when this Prime Minister first became finance minister. Majority Liberal governments have neglected foreign aid and broken promises to the world. The NDP will not let the developing world be taken for granted.

I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate those Canadians who are part of the campaign launched today to make poverty history. It is part of a global campaign, a call to action against poverty.