Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to represent the New Democratic Party and the people of Timmins—James Bay who are very dependent on forestry products and the forestry industry for the economic viability of our region. I am pleased to be speaking on their behalf on this bill.
The House of Commons is somewhat like a surreal theatre because we have on any given day, on any given number of bills, 300 people in the House, half of whom act like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling, and the other half who say life has never been better.
Then, of course, we accuse each other of all sorts of calamity, and perfidious behaviour, that if the bill is allowed to go through it will undermine the very future fabric of our country.
With that being said, there are occasions when a bill is brought before the House that does have profound implications, it must be challenged. In terms of this bill and what it is proposing to do, it has sold out the rights of our resource industry. On top of that, the predatory nature that the government is imposing toward our softwood producers who are not knuckling down, and the pressure that the House is being asked to bring to bear upon our own industry is certainly one of the more egregious examples I would think in our nation's history of a government acting against the interests of its own people.
Being from a Scottish background I would think of what my grandmother would say now. She would talk about Such A Parcel Of Rogues In A Nation:
What force or guile could not subdue,
Thro' many warlike ages,
Is wrought now by a coward few,
For hireling traitor's wages.
We're bought and sold for English gold-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!
There is a fundamental difference between the parcel of rogues who sold out Scotland and the parcel of rogues that are selling out our resource industry right now. At least the chieftains who sold out their own people in Scotland got some money for it.
We are being asked in Parliament to pay money, so that we can sell ourselves out. I think that is an unprecedented situation. We are seeing that the communities I represent no longer matter to the government. They are being written off the political and economic map of Canada, communities such as Smooth Rock Falls; Kenogami; New Liskeard, where they have lost jobs; Red Rock; and Ignace.
They are being told to fend for themselves because when industry came back to the government after the deal was presented, it said the deal was bad and that it could not go forward with it.
What did the government tell our own industry? It said, too bad, sign it because the government would sign it regardless. When the industry did not buckle down, the government came forward with a number of clauses that I will get to in a moment where we are actually going after the economic viability of any company that has the guts to stand up to this venal sellout of our resource industry.
What did we get out of this deal? We are giving $1 billion to our competitors, $500 million that will be used against us in the competing communities and against the coalitions that have been actively pursuing these wasteful legal actions against us. There is not a cent being put into any forestry community in the country suffering from job losses as a result of this battle.
Instead of the 10% softwood deal, we are being asked by Parliament to impose a 15% tariff on our own producers in order to win peace with the Americans.
Instead of fair trade and open trade, we are now being given a crippled market, a market with a narrow window for our own producers to work within. If the market goes south at any point, more restrictive tariffs will be imposed.
What kind of investments are softwood producers going to be willing to make in Canada because they cannot ramp up the market? It will become a static market. There will be no incentive for a company to invest in Canada under this deal.
In fact, we are seeing that the companies that are investing, that have plants in Canada, are investing south of the border. I could name numerous Canadian companies that are already setting up down in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina because it is a better climate for them down there. Perhaps they will be making use of the $500 million that was taken out of Canadian companies and sent down to our Canadian operations in the U.S.
What kind of peace did we get out of this deal? Would we have sold a billion dollars of our producers' money to get a seven year deal of peace? Perhaps. For five years? It would have been iffy. For three years? We have a bare 18 months, and the escape clause for the Americans is that they can terminate it anytime they feel that we are not playing by the rules, and guess what? Within the last week, we have the U.S. lumber interests already saying that they are gearing up to come after us with full guns blazing. No wonder they are getting ready to gear up. They have $500 million of our money to come back after us once this deal is signed.
Those are the well known facts, but less well known. This is what needs to be heard outside this House and it needs to be heard in every resource community across this country, particularly the clauses the government is bringing to attack our own industry, and to feed on our own industry. The political version of the pine beetle is what we see with this Conservative Party.
Clause 10 will call on Parliament to impose a 15% tax on our own producers who are using fair and open trade. We will be imposing a tax on them.
Clause 18 is the real kicker clause. The government is going to impose a special tax on companies that do not knuckle under and give up their legal rights. I ask this House, has there ever been another case where a government has imposed a tariff on its own producers to punish them for not bending down and kissing the ring of the trade minister on this deal? Now we are looking at tariffs upward of 37% being applied against our own companies in order to force agreement on this bill.
Clause 48 would require a six year burden of record-keeping for these companies. This is another administrative burden that the government is imposing on our own producers.
Clause 77 states that the government does not even need a warrant to enter the premises of our softwood producers.
Clause 89 gives a blank cheque to the minister to demand payment from these companies at any time. I need to put this in perspective because our producers are suffering from a major financial crisis at this moment. The government knows this. The government knows that many of the stalwarts of the softwood industry are on very weak financial legs.
What chance would any of these companies, that are wishing to maintain their legal rights, have of going to the bank to renegotiate overextended loans when the government is asking this House to impose measures that will demand money from those producers? We are applying a 37% tariff against our own companies. We can go in and check their books. The government can audit them, can go after them, and can take money from them.
What producers will be able to secure financing from the banks through this period? Yet, that being said, they still have not buckled under to this deal, have they? We still know that industries are saying that even if they are on their last legs, this deal is a bad deal because it is a bad deal for the long term viability for the resource industry of Canada.
The other aspect of this deal in terms of a venal sellout of our national interests is that we are allowing the U.S. lumber coalitions to set and to have a say on our own domestic provincial policies in terms of forestry management.
Once again I return to the notion of the rogues that sold out this nation. At this point I really feel it is incumbent upon me to speak to our friends from the Bloc Québécois. Here is a party that stood up in this House and opposed a national plan for pesticides because it would interfere with the rights of Quebec. Here is a party that opposed a national child care plan because it did not want any intervention at all in the rights of Quebec. Here is a party, when we had our debate on an Alzheimer's national strategy, that said it would not support to any degree a national Alzheimer's strategy because it interferes with the rights of Quebec.
Yet, this is a party that stands up in this House with its kissing cousins, the Conservatives, and says that it will allow the United States government to set forestry policy in Quebec. It will allow the Conservative Government of Canada to come into Quebec to check and ensure that its producers are complying.
That is the level of interference that the Bloc Québécois members are sitting back and allowing. It is fascinating. It is unprecedented that they, along with the government, are selling out the long term interests of our resource sector and our provinces' ability to set resource policy in this country.