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House of Commons Hansard #52 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was companies.

Topics

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to present a petition on behalf of the citizens of Hatfield Point in the riding of New Brunswick Southwest concerned about the potential closure of a federally operated post office.

The petitioners request that Parliament consult with Canada Post Corporation with regard to maintaining a federally operated post office in Hatfield Point, specifically more generally, upholding a federal government moratorium on rural post office closures.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present some petitions from over 400 people in my riding of Kildonan—St. Paul who pray that the government assembled in Parliament take all measures necessary to immediately raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age.

Criminal CodePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, in another petition in excess of 150 people in my riding of Kildonan—St. Paul call upon Parliament to retain the Criminal Code without changes in order that Parliament not sanction or allow the counselling, aiding or abetting of suicide whether by personal action or the Internet. They also state that the Canadian Medical Association opposes assisted suicide and euthanasia and call for suicide prevention programs.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour today to present a petition on behalf of 170 of my constituents with respect to the minimum age of consent.

The petitioners pray that the government assembled in Parliament will take all measures necessary to immediately raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition in which 50 concerned citizens from the district of Charlottetown ask the government to take all measures necessary to immediately raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age.

Falun GongPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present two petitions. The first petition is signed by Canadians within my riding who believe that there are atrocities being committed against members of Falun Gong and urge the government to take all measures to put an end to that.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by hundreds of people in my constituency who believe that the government should immediately raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition from my constituents that calls upon the House to make the protection of our children from sexual predators a high priority and for the government to take all measures necessary to immediately raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today signed by the constituents of Westlock—St. Paul who support an immediate increase in the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age.

The petitioners feel that children under the age of 16 are the most vulnerable members of our society and that they need continual support against sexual exploitation. They therefore call upon all members of Parliament to enact the full protection of law by raising the age of consent.

Middle EastPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 and on behalf of the constituents of Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, I am presenting a petition concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Canadian financial aide to the Palestinian Authority.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition on behalf of my constituents of Hamilton East—Stoney Creek. The petition is in regard to the changing of the age of consent.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I present a petition on behalf of many residents of Kent County, New Brunswick, in my constituency, and from others parts, such as the Miramichi and great places like Shediac.

The petitioners ask Parliament to immediately take all measures necessary to raise of the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 years of age.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Private Members' Bill C-292--Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair is now prepared to rule on the points of order raised by the government House leader and the hon. member for Wascana on June 1, 2006 in relation to Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord.

At the outset, I wish to thank both hon. members for having raised their concerns early in the legislative process for, in so doing, they have afforded all members an opportunity to become better acquainted with this initiative and its procedural implications.

I also wish to thank the government House leader and the hon. member for Wascana for tabling the Kelowna accord, thus adding to the material available to me in preparing this ruling.

The Chair has also noted that the hon. member for Wascana has explained that, in November 2005, as the then minister of finance, he had made provision in the fiscal framework for the implementation of the Kelowna accord. That said, I must make it clear that while the machinery of government could not operate without such planning, it is irrelevant to the question before the Chair.

Hon. members will know that, as Speaker, I can only address procedural issues and that these issues are separate and distinct from fiscal management issues.

The Chair must judge, not whether funds were set aside to meet the government's obligations, but rather whether this specific private member's initiative, Bill C-292, seeks authorization to spend funds. In other words, does Bill C-292 actually propose to spend public funds for a distinct purpose?

The contentious section is in clause 2 of the bill, which reads as follows:

The Government of Canada shall immediately take all measures necessary to implement the terms of the accord, known as the “Kelowna Accord”, that was concluded on November 25, 2005 at Kelowna, British Columbia, by the Prime Minister of Canada, the first ministers of each of the provinces and territories of Canada and the leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Metis National Council, the Native Womens’ Association of Canada and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

The Chair must decide whether clause 2 is a provision that contains a clear authorization for funds to be drawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for a distinct purpose. If clause 2 does seek such authorization, then I must be guided by House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which explains on page 709:

Under the Canadian system of government, the Crown alone initiates all public expenditure and Parliament may only authorize spending which has been recommended by the Governor General.

In other words, the bill would require a royal recommendation.

As I stated in a decision on March 21, 2005, at page 4373 of the Debates:

--a bill effecting an appropriation of public funds or an equivalent authorization to spend public funds does so immediately upon enactment. Once Parliament approves a bill that requires a royal recommendation, there should be nothing further required to make the appropriation.

So, in the case before us, we need to ask what specific spending is contemplated?

Bill C-292 in clause 2 does state that the government shall “take all measures necessary to implement the terms of the accord”, but it does not provide specific details on those measures. The measures simply are not described. In the absence of such a description, it is impossible for the Chair to say that the bill requires a royal recommendation.

This conclusion may seem somewhat surprising and may well lead members back to a question raised earlier by the government House leader: namely, if Bill C-292 does not require a royal recommendation and the bill were to pass, what would be the obligations of the government in terms of implementing the Kelowna accord?

As I read it, the Kelowna accord tabled in the House sheds light on the plan of action, but it is not clear whether the accord could be implemented through an appropriation act, through amendments to existing acts, or through the establishment of new acts. From my reading, implementation would appear to require various legislative proposals.

In any event though, this is more of a legal question than a procedural one. The government House leader's legal advisors are best placed to reply to that question. As my predecessors and I have said on many occasions, the Speaker does not rule on matters of law. When, or perhaps if, enabling legislation comes forward, the Chair will, as usual, be vigilant in assessing the need for a royal recommendation.

In summary then, Bill C-292 can continue through the legislative process and the Chair can put the question at third reading since this bill does not require a royal recommendation.

I thank the House for its patience in allowing me to review this rather complex matter.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

When this bill was last before the House, the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster had the floor. There are three minutes in the time allotted remaining in his remarks.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, three minutes is not a lot of time. I have reviewed the botched legislation, Bill C-24, and the mistakes that the government has made on that bill.

I would like to come back to the principle of the softwood sellout itself. Then, before I sit down, I will be offering an amendment to the amendment offered by the member for Beauséjour.

The following issues are issues that are addressed in the softwood selloff. First, and this is one of the dozens of reasons why members of this House should be voting against it, it is based on the falsehood that Canadian softwood lumber is subsidized. We are erasing four and a half years of legal victories. If we enact this legislation, any industry, not only our softwood industry, will have to start over to re-establish that jurisprudence.

The Americans are able through this mechanism to erase all of our legal victories when we are two legal hurdles short of winning a final and complete victory that establishes the jurisprudence. The sellout gives away $500 million to the American coalition. It has already indicated it is going to use that legally to attack us again. It was dry. It had no money left. It could not continue litigation, despite the government's incredibly absurd protestations to the contrary. Now we are giving them half a billion bucks to come at us again. We might as well have a “kick me” sign on the back of every single Conservative MP who votes for this. It is absolutely absurd.

Through this sellout, we are giving $450 million to the Bush administration. Through testimony this summer we found out this is unprecedented since the Richard Nixon committee to re-elect the president that the White House has had $450 million to dispense to grease the political wheels of the Republican Party. Obviously, that does not concern Conservative MPs. It does concern Canadians. This sellout can be cancelled at any time. The Americans can keep the billion dollars and run.

As we have pointed out consistently throughout the summer, clause 34 allows the Americans simply to allege non-compliance by Canada and cancel at any time. I could go on and on.

The principle is not only are we selling out our softwood industry but we are selling out any other Canadian industry that wants to use dispute settlement. The Americans clearly, two weeks ago, signalled that they are coming at us. They see that big “kick me” sign on the back of Conservative MPs and they have said they are going to appeal the notorious Byrd amendment. They are going to appeal it because this government has shown such incredible weakness.

I will move the subamendment. I move:

And that the amendment be amended by adding immediately after the end of the amendment:

specifically because it fails to immediately provide loan guarantees to softwood companies, because it fails to unsuspend outstanding litigation which is almost concluded and which Canada stands to win, and because it punishes companies by imposing questionable double taxation, a provision which was not in the agreement signed by the Minister of International Trade.

We will continue to fight this because this is bad for Canada, and this is bad for softwood and any other industry.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The debate is on the amendment to the amendment. Questions and comments.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, members may recall the case of Spiro Agnew who when charged with tax evasion basically pleaded what was called nolo contendere. It was basically not to plead guilty or innocent, but rather to say “the legal fees are going to kill me on this, so I might as well just plead nolo contendere and at least I can get away without having to pay enormous legal fees”.

It seems that this is the same kind of bullying that the government has laid on the lumber industry by telling it that if it does not take this now that it is on its own. I think this is the crux of the issue in this regard.

I wonder if the member can give some indication to the members and to Canadians about the financial dimensions here and about what is really being lost, not only in terms of the duties improperly collected, but also the interest for all these years.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Clearly, Mr. Speaker, this is not a commercially viable deal. This is an absolutely ridiculous deal that the companies have rejected consistently throughout the summer, until the government started bullying them individually and saying there would be no alternative to this Conservative sellout. There would be no alternative, no loan guarantees and no support in any way.

In his testimony, Russ Cameron from the Independent Lumber Remanufacturers Association indicated in regard to the complexity and the lack of commercial viability of the deal:

Well, there are eight possible tax rates, depending upon the random length index and whether you're above or below the 110. Oh, and the quota can be applied regionally, so that the quota applies to the entire region. You add up all the shipments, and once that region exceeds the shipments, then the border closes and you can't put your product in, no matter how much you are willing to pay.

The cost of this sellout goes beyond all Canadian industries. It goes beyond the four years of litigation victories that this government is ready to throw away, rip up with a stroke of a pen. It goes beyond all of those aspects. It goes beyond the billion dollars. It goes beyond the precedent that is set for any other industrial sector.

It goes to the very heart of commercial viability of softwood communities and softwood companies, softwood companies that are now in a situation where they are dealing with punitive taxes. They are dealing with multiple administrative charges that are forced upon them by the government, consistent bullying, and the fact that there are multiple tax rates that are all set retroactively. When they sell their product, they do not know whether they are going to be able to make a profit or not and they do not know whether they are going to keep their doors open or not.

Testimony clearly indicated that we could be looking at, in certain parts of the country, up to 20% of the mills closing as a result of this badly botched negotiation and this badly flawed sellout. So, the member is very correct to raise this question. We pay and we pay, and we do not get a heck of a lot back.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, part of what that member just said is true; that is, if we do not sign this agreement we will pay and pay because of the uncertainty that will remain in the softwood lumber industry.

That member is living in a dream world if he believes that by not signing this the Americans are just going to roll over and play dead. We are going to see more challenges and more litigation, the likes of which that member cannot imagine, or rather will not admit. We are going to see tens, maybe hundreds, of millions of dollars more in litigation, accompanied by uncertainty in the industry, which is going to scare off investors. It is going to scare off expansions to the mills. It is going to cause foreseeable job losses and foreseeable mill closures.

For some reason, that is what the NDP members want for the forest workers and their families of this country. They want the uncertainty to continue. They want the litigation to continue. They want the hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees to continue. They want the investors to go running until this industry becomes stable. They want the bankers to be scared off by the uncertainty and start calling in loans on the small mom and pop operations, through to the medium and even the large-sized mills.

I just cannot imagine how they can face the workers in the forest industry who they claim support their position and tell them about the possible, probable, and most certain job losses that are going to occur if we do not sign this deal.

I live in the largest softwood lumber producing riding in all of Canada. I do not live in downturn Burnaby or New Westminster. I live where the lumber pioneers of this country have carved out an industry, right from small scragg mills to the super mills that are in the riding of Cariboo—Prince George.

We produce more softwood lumber in that one riding than that member could imagine. I can tell the member that the mills, the workers, the investors, the families, and the kids of this buoyant forest industry, not just in my riding but across British Columbia and all across Canada, supported by the provinces, the industry and the workers, they all support this because they know, contrary to the misrepresentations of that member there to the folks in the industry, this deal is good for the industry, it is good for Canada, and it is good for the province.

If that member there and his party want to do something right by the forest industry's workers and their families, they would quit trying to snow them with those misrepresentations about this thing and get behind it, support it, and let us get some certainty and let us get on to a buoyant and bountiful future in the softwood industry in this country.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, how would the member know? He was chided in the Prince George Citizen because he had not even read the agreement. That is unbelievable. He was chided in the Prince George Citizen because NDP forestry critic Bob Simpson and I had actually read the agreement and he had not. That member has not been standing up for his constituents. He is absolutely right when he says he is part of softwood country, but he is absolutely wrong when he says he has been doing due diligence. He has failed the people of Prince George. He has failed the people of the north.

He has not read the agreement. He has not even read the badly botched bill that punishes companies twice with the double export tax, with the AD and the CVD. In addition, the bill imposes an EDC because the government botched the special charge. So here we have a badly botched bill, and instead of standing up for his constituents, instead of standing up for Prince George, that member abdicates his responsibility. It is appalling.

Let me read just one of the reactions from analysts who actually understand the industry, who actually have read the bill, and who actually have read the agreement. Stephen Atkinson said:

When you look at a situation like a Canfor that is going to run its lowest-cost wood, then clearly you're going to shut down those lumber mills in the southeast quadrant [of British Columbia]. What happens then is that it'll put some of the pulp mills in danger, whether it be the Kamloops mill, whether it be the Celgar mill, and then that supply comes into question.

Very quickly, on raw logs, what really happens is this. Let us say we are paying a duty. Let us pick a number again. Let us say it is 15% or whatever. If we can bring in the logs without any duty to the United States, then of course it makes sense to put the lumber mill there and create jobs south of the border. There has been no Conservative from Kamloops, no Conservative from southeast British Columbia and no Conservative from northern British Columbia who has been standing up for an agreement that everyone knows is going to sell out those areas and that everyone knows is going to lead to lost jobs. Yet not a single Conservative MP from British Columbia has stood up against this and said, “This is bad for B.C., so we are not going to permit this”.

There is only going to be one answer from British Columbians and that is that in the next election there will not be a Conservative left west of the Rockies. That is because they have failed British Columbians.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Cape Breton--Canso will be mindful of the fact that there is less than a minute left for both the question and the answer.