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House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Business of the House

11 a.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. After consultation with all parties, I believe you would find unanimous consent to adopt the following unanimously without debate or amendment. It is the same motion I was looking to move last week on three different occasions. In the spirit of cooperation and to enhance the civility, certainly in this House, I think all parties now have come to an understanding and agreement. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice, the second reading stages of Bill C-43, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, and Bill C-48, an act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments, shall be disposed of as follows:

  1. Any division thereon requested before the expiry of the time for consideration of government orders on Thursday, May 19, shall be deferred to that time;

  2. At the expiry of the time for consideration of government orders on Thursday, May 19, all questions necessary for the disposal of the second reading stage of (1) Bill C-43 and (2) Bill C-48 shall be put and decided forthwith and successively, without further debate, amendment or deferral.

Business of the House

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

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11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

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11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, while my party has agreed to the motion from the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, I would like to point out that the respectful course of action would have been for the government to allot a day to the official opposition after it lost the vote last Tuesday. I would like to refer the Speaker and the government House leader to pages 280 and 281 of Erskine May, 22nd edition:

From time to time the Opposition put down a motion on the paper expressing lack of confidence in the Government--a 'vote of censure' as it is called. By established convention the Government always accedes to the demand from the Leader of the Opposition to allot a day for the discussion of such a motion. In allotting a day for this purpose the Government is entitled to have regard to the exigencies of its own business, but a reasonably early day is invariably found. This convention is founded on the recognized position of the Opposition as a potential Government, which guarantees the legitimacy of such an interruption of the normal course of business. For its part, the Government has everything to gain by meeting such a direct challenge to its authority at the earliest possible moment.

We regret that after the issue of confidence became a question, that it will take nine days to resolve it. This is not in keeping with our conventions and it is not at all respectful to our system of government.

I would note in closing that it has now been some six weeks since the official opposition has had an allotted supply day, five weeks since the Bloc Québécois had its last day and that is out of the ordinary to say the least, especially during a time when the government's confidence in this place is called into question.

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11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a different point of order. On Friday unanimous consent was refused by the Liberals for a motion to divide Bill C-43 that would have ensured speedy passage of the Atlantic accord. I hope the government has reconsidered. Therefore, I seek consent for the following motion:

That Bill C-43, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23 be divided into two bills: Bill C-43A an act to provide payments to provinces and territories and implement the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador arrangement and the Canada-Nova Scotia arrangement; and Bill C-43B an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23;

That Bill C-43A be composed of parts 12, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador arrangement and the Canada-Nova Scotia arrangement, and 24, payments to certain provinces and territories;

That Bill C-43B be composed of all the remaining parts of Bill C-43;

That the House order the printing of Bill C-43A and Bill C-43B and that Bill C-43A and Bill C-43B be immediately placed on the Order Paper for consideration of the House at second reading and referral to the Standing Committee on Finance; and

That the law clerk and parliamentary counsel be authorized to make such technical changes or corrections that may be necessary to give effect to this motion.

The Prime Minister said that the quickest way to pass this is through the budget and the onus was on the opposition. The onus now is with the government.

Business of the House

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

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11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the same issue, if you can recall, the order to set the budget vote was accepted for Thursday at the end of government orders. I know the hon. member will have the opportunity to support that budget, which includes the Atlantic accord. I know the hon. member is under some pressure at home to support that budget and I think he should. The Atlantic accord is there and it would ensure speedy passage of the Atlantic accord.

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11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

I do not see any point of order. We had the point of order to put the motion. The member got his motion put, with a speech. The government House leader on the guise of a point of order has responded.

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11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

I hope this is a different one.

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11:10 a.m.

Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Gerry Byrne LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, perhaps we can arrange some time for the hon. member to sit with the desk officers so that we can review normal parliamentary procedure.

Of course legislation appearing before this House must go through first reading, second reading, committee, report stage, third reading, on to the other House and then for final royal assent.

What the hon. member is misconstruing to this House is the fact that his partners, in their new-found alliance with the Bloc Québécois, refuse to support the Atlantic accord and that is not being made clear.

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11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

We are getting into a debate.

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11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have all agreed to do everything in our power to ensure that the House functions properly. I hope that the message also reached the Liberal side, so that we can speak freely here.

I just wanted to point out that the motion put forward is rather interesting. I believe that, under our standing orders, it is very likely that we would be able to split a bill. This would ensure that, whatever happens following Thursday's confidence vote, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and certain provinces and territories can enjoy the proposed benefits.

If the government objects, that will go against the interests of these people.

Business of the House

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

This is not really a point of order.

The hon. member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl got a point of order to propose a motion.

The House did not give unanimous consent for the motion. The matter is closed. We cannot debate the issue at this time.

It being 11:13 a.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

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11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, on this point of order.

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11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

I have indicated there is not a point of order.

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11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is a different point of order.

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11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

On a different point of order, the hon. member for St. John's South--Mount Pearl.

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11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is common in this House that we not provide information which is incorrect. The member for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte made--

Business of the House

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

This is clearly debate. I invite hon. members to get on with the debate after private members' hour is over. We will be on Bill C-48, I understand, which is the bill the hon. member wants to divide. I would suggest he get into a lively debate one hour from now.

Taiwan Affairs ActPrivate Members' Business

May 16th, 2005 / 11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

moved that Bill C-357, an act to provide for an improved framework for economic, trade, cultural and other initiatives between the people of Canada and the people of Taiwan, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-357 is a private member's bill tabled by myself as member of Parliament for Kootenay—Columbia. There are members from all parties of the House who support this bill in principle and I expect that if it comes to a vote at second reading the bill will pass and be forwarded to committee for consideration.

In 1970, when Canada recognized the People's Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China and terminated its diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Canada only took note of and neither endorsed nor challenged China's claims to sovereignty over Taiwan. Cabinet records show that the Canadian government policy intended to maintain a de facto relationship with Taiwan after de-recognition of the country.

The position of Prime Minister Trudeau was to leave flexibility in Canada's domestic or international relationships with Taiwan. This allows the various international jurisdictions and competing interests to work out their relationships without interference from Canada or Canadian interests.

In a letter dated May 9, 2005, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote:

Canada maintains a one-China policy under which we formally recognize the Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the legitimate, representative of government of China. At the time of its recognition of the PRC in 1970, Canada “took note” of the position that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Peoples Republic of China”, but did not formally recognize this claim.

I am in complete agreement with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and this bill is complementary to the position of the Government of Canada on the one China policy. If there is a difference of opinion, it lies in the government's interpretation of the minister's own phrase, “but did not formally recognize this claim”. I believe Canadian government practices are demonstrably contrary to its expressions.

Last year the House voted by a margin of 2:1 to have Canada lead action at the World Health Organization to include Taiwan as a health entity. The Canadian Senate passed a similar motion of instruction. In spite of this direction by both chambers of Canada's Parliament, the Canadian government chose to ignore that instruction at the 57th conference of the World Health Assembly. This morning the general committee of the 58th World Health Assembly decided Taiwan's WHO case will not be included on the conference's provisional agenda. This is a matter of extreme consequence to the world's health.

This bill is more than three decades overdue because of action taken by our mutual trading partner, the United States. Months after the U.S. recognition of the PRC, it enacted its Taiwan relations act. Canada and its interests are in a significant disadvantage to their U.S. competitors. The Canadian government gives advantages to the U.S. in Taiwan commercial, criminal and security regulations. It ignores the U.S. Taiwan relations act while condemning the tabling of this Canadian Taiwan affairs act.

For Canada to take its rightful place in influencing world affairs, our Canadian government should rationalize policy with the U.S. to help build democracy and democratic values. A unified voice with the U.S. in China affairs would bring Canada into this sphere as a player rather than a pretender.

Canada is Taiwan's 11th largest trading partner. Bilateral trade reached $5 billion Canadian in 2004. Taiwan is Canada's seventh largest source of foreign tourists and foreign students with more than 150,000 people visiting Canada each year and 150,000 additional affluent and highly educated Taiwanese live in Canada as landed immigrants.

While the Canadian government emphasizes the importance of trade with China, the government has given very little thought to the shape and substance of our relations and the legal framework necessary to carry it out. In the recent foreign policy white paper there was no mention made regarding Canada-Taiwan relations. Given the trade, political and security importance of Taiwan to Canada, Taiwan issues have become a multi-party concern in Parliament in recent years.

This is well illustrated by the example of the WHO, which I raised earlier, and by issues frequently raised in the House question period. There have been several additional resolutions passed in both Houses as well as the foreign affairs committee.

Taiwan is an economic and democratic success story with a population of 23 million people. Taiwan is a fully functioning democracy governed by rule of law. President Chen Shui-bian's electoral victory in 2000 was the first peaceful democratic transfer of power in the 5,000 year history of the Chinese peoples. His re-election in 2004 confirmed the solid democratic foundation that has been established in Taiwan.

Observers of China affairs noted that while President Chen was re-elected, the explicit will of the Taiwan electorate to move toward sovereignty softened. It was therefore distressing to see the PRC respond to the Taiwan peoples by enacting the PRC anti-secession law in mid-March of this year. This action was an intentional buildup of pressure by the PRC in response to Taiwan's citizens taking the steam out of the Taiwan Strait question.

China observers cannot help noting the PRC's growing military strength, with an estimated budget of $65 billion U.S. According to a U.S. defense department report, China now has 725 missiles positioned across Taiwan Strait aimed specifically at Taiwan.

I note that after China passed its anti-secession law, Canada's foreign affairs minister issued a statement saying that any unilateral action, including the use of force, to change Taiwan's status is unacceptable to Canada. In fact, in April 2004 in a public speech, Canada's then foreign affairs minister called on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to resume dialogue without preconditions and to resolve cross-strait issues peacefully.

Taiwan honours the rule of law, preserves the free market, protects the environment and respects human rights. The world community cannot afford to let Taiwan fail because it is a symbol of the success of democracy and human rights as a universal value. Taiwan is a living rebuttal to the theory that these values are incompatible with the Asian way of life.

In a telephone conversation with a representative of the People's Republic of China I was told that the PRC is firmly opposed to this bill. The PRC in Beijing has called the bill “a brazen interference in China's domestic affairs”. It states:

By proposing this so-called Taiwan Affairs Act, some individual members of Canada's parliament are preaching 'two Chinas' or 'one China, one Taiwan'.

Their assertions are simply not supported by the facts. In part, Bill C-357 states that this is “an act to provide for an approved framework for economic, trade, cultural and other initiatives between the people of Canada and the people of Taiwan”.

I ask members to note that the bill intentionally does not use words to describe state to state or nation to nation relationships. For greater clarity on this point, the first paragraph of the preamble states:

WHEREAS on October 13, 1970, the Government of Canada formally recognized the People's Republic of China as the sole legitimate Government of China and took note of its claim that Taiwan is part of China;....

In the absence of recognition and diplomatic relations between Canada and China, the best approach is to adopt this bill as domestic law of Canada and to spell out the specific manner in which relations with Taiwan would be conducted by Canada without trying to define Taiwan's international legal status.

Due to the lack of recognition and diplomatic relations between Canada and Taiwan, a host of specific matters have arisen, resulting in important legal and pragmatic problems in the interactions. Clauses 4 through 8 of the bill contain explicit provisions to create a workable mechanism to regulate de facto unofficial relations between Canada and the unrecognized entity of Taiwan.

These clauses are borrowed directly from the U.S. Taiwan relations act. The Taiwan relations act provides a strong, solid legal framework between the U.S. and Taiwan. It has been a success in strengthening U.S.-Taiwan commercial relations.

Canadians interests compete daily with their U.S. counterparts. As matters sit today, Canadians suffer a growing disadvantage in trade with Taiwan.

Clause 4 of the bill provides that the absence of diplomatic relations should not affect the application of any Canadian laws with respect to Taiwan, and the laws shall apply to Taiwan exactly as they do to other countries. Thus:

Whenever the laws of Canada refer to or relate in general terms to foreign countries...such laws are deemed to refer or relate also to Taiwan.

Clause 5 protects property rights of Taiwan and its citizens. Clause 6 provides for the capacity to sue and be sued in Canadian courts. Clause 7 enables the Canadian government to sign agreements with Taiwan, enabling the Canadian government to enter into agreements with Taiwan.

I emphasize that this bill explicitly recognizes Canada's one China policy--this is the fifth time I have tried to make that point--but at the same time it brings order to continuing discord.

Clause 8 imposes provisions to protect reciprocal legal rights for Taiwan and Canada when they do business and interact with each other.

Taiwan and Canada have very close relations. As mentioned earlier, every year approximately 150,000 tourists from Taiwan travel to Canada. From 1990 to the present, more than 150,000 high quality immigrants have settled in Canada. Two-way trade between Taiwan and Canada reached $5 billion in 2004.

Taiwan is already Canada's fourth largest trading partner in Asia and is Canada's 11th largest trading partner overall. However, Foreign Affairs Canada claims that “as Canada does not recognize Taiwan as a state, it is not possible to negotiate a binding agreement with Taiwan”. Foreign Affairs Canada boasts of administering 2,267 treaties, yet none of them is listed as with Taiwan.

Taiwan and Canada share the same social values, including respect for human rights, freedom and rule of law. Taiwan's justice system is comparable to that of Canada. We can cooperate with Taiwan in many fields, including the judicial and economic areas.

For combating transborder criminals, in March 2002 Taiwan and the United States signed the agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, which has been implemented smoothly during the past three years.

With the growing concern about security, international cooperation is imperative. However, Foreign Affairs Canada has refused to sign any kind of agreements with Taiwan. The issue is this: the U.S. Taiwan relations act enables its government to sign international agreements with Taiwan but we have no such agreement.

Between Canada and Taiwan, there is only a handful of exchanges of letters or memoranda of understanding and arrangements concerning some minor technical matters in the commercial and scientific fields. How can Canada promote trade and investment with such an important trading partner like Taiwan without the ability to sign any legal binding agreement?

Clause 9 of the act deals with issues around international cooperation. The purpose of the bill is to help to brighten the prospects for stronger Canada-Taiwan economic, cultural and other relations. The 25 year old U.S.Taiwan relations act, which is the model for this bill, has been a tremendous success in helping the U.S. to build a strong, unofficial relationship with Taiwan.

Canada's interactions with Taiwan are to our mutual benefit. Taiwan is a good friend and close partner of Canada, as Canada is of Taiwan. As such, Taiwan counts on sustained Canadian support as it addresses many important challenges. This very much includes Taiwan's efforts to develop its democracy.

I acknowledge protests from the PRC and certain Canadian business interests. They have said great harm will be done to the relationship between Canada and China and serious consequences will ensue after adoption of the bill. The Chinese took the same position against the U.S. on the adoption of the Taiwan relations act 25 years ago. With the Taiwan relations act in effect for two and a half decades, Canada's competitive position has continued to weaken.

For all the right reasons I am calling on members of Parliament to do what is in the best interests of Canada and the world. I am asking for support in principle for Bill C-357 to move to committee for consideration.