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House of Commons Hansard #154 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was icsid.

Topics

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:25 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeSecretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I would hopefully like to bring some clarity to some of the allegations that we just heard from the leader of the official opposition, especially in light of his personal comments about actions that I took and his rationale that those somehow posed a threat to my opposite numbers, the opposition whips.

At the outset, I would like to reiterate the comments made by the hon. House leader for the government when he stated that the other committee members, the Conservative government members on the official languages committee, all support the chair and continue to support the chair, the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry.

By saying that, I would pose the question to the opposition parties, what would they have me do as the whip then? Am I supposed to somehow force one of those members to take the chair, after the opposition summarily removes him? That is what I hear them suggesting.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

What about the vice-chair?

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I sat here and listened to the arguments from the other members, but as soon as I start to talk and they do not like what I am saying, then they have no respect and they have to start heckling on a question of privilege. You know how serious a question of privilege is, Mr. Speaker.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The noise has not been bad, I must say, and I am paying close attention to what the hon. chief government whip is saying, as always, but he does ask some rhetorical questions and unfortunately those invite answers. He has asked a couple of rhetorical questions in his remarks which did seem to provoke some response, of course not from me. I will deal with the arguments later, but I am pleased to hear him now and I hope he will be able to continue his remarks uninterrupted.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Me too. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

When I had the conversations, which I believe to be private conversations between me and my opposite numbers, concerning the notice of motion that the whip for the New Democratic Party had served that he intended to bring a motion of non-confidence against the chair of the official languages committee, when I had those discussions with my opposite numbers, the whips of the three opposition parties, I assumed that conversation and those discussions were in confidence, the same as we often have confidential conversations. In any event, that has turned out not to be so. My rationale in having those conversations was simply to ensure that there was no ambiguity about the rules.

The rules, as the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has stated, are that in the Standing Orders the chair of that particular standing committee is a government member. Those are the rules.

I wanted to ensure that the whips of the other parties, if their members were to support that motion of non-confidence that the whip of the NDP had put forward, if they intended to support that and summarily and arbitrarily dismiss the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry from the chair position, that then by the rules of the House, unless a Conservative member was to allow his or her name to stand, the committee would no longer sit. I merely reiterated those rules to the whips and wanted to ensure that there was no question in their minds that this particular action would have that particular consequence.

I was not threatening anyone. I did not think that I was posing a threat. I was just saying exactly what would unfold and indeed, that is what has unfolded.

The second issue I would like to address, Mr. Speaker, is that we have a tradition in the House of Commons, and I believe at committee, whereby when some members might take personal exception to some remarks or actions that some other member has made, that we respectfully call upon them to explain themselves. We listen to that explanation. Perhaps that member will offer an apology and seek forgiveness, whether it is in this chamber or whether it is in committee. It has happened to me certainly many times in my experience when different members have found themselves in that position over the 14 years I have been here.

That did not happen in this particular case. Let us be clear that the hon. whip for the New Democratic Party put forward a motion to remove the chair of the official languages committee. He believed that the opposition members on that committee should act as judge, jury and executioner without even listening to the hon. member's explanation. That was put forward. They debated the decision before they ever arrived at the committee. Before they ever asked him to explain himself, explain his actions, they were already determined to remove him.

I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that that suggests there is a serious problem. When we say that the opposition is playing partisan politics with this particular issue, I would like you to review it.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:30 p.m.

David McGuinty

You're making it up.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Someone is heckling from the other side and saying, “You're making it up”. I am not making this up.

The testimony of the committee is there. I would challenge anyone in this country that is interested in this particular issue to find out what was said today, this morning, at the official languages committee.

I was not there but a lot of members were there and it was certainly reported to me that the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry offered an explanation for his actions.

The reality is, Mr. Speaker, that he still enjoys the support of his colleagues. I as the whip am not going to and no one else in this party is going to try to force one of my colleagues to serve as chair and undermine his credibility when he has no reason to be removed, none, Mr. Speaker.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:30 p.m.

Geoff Regan

A dictatorship.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Someone is saying “a dictatorship”. Do you know what this is, Mr. Speaker? This is merely the latest example of the Liberals' arrogance that they cannot come to terms with the fact that they lost the election. They cannot come to terms with that. Their arrogance is such that they and the other two parties are going to determine who the Conservatives have as chairs.

If we allowed this to stand, they could remove every single one of our chairs. We could play musical chairs until the cows came home, but what would it accomplish, other than allowing the opposition to determine who our chair is? The fact of the matter is there are many opposition members sitting on many standing committees that personally I and some of my colleagues take exception to some of the antics they pull on any given day.

If I were given my choice, I might even suggest that it might be nice to have certain members removed from committees, but it is not my choice of who the opposition parties choose to have on a specific standing committee. In fact, we have a long-standing tradition that when an opposition party, when any party wants to make a change in its membership on a standing committee what happens by the rules of the House is all four whips sign.

I do not ask the hon. member that serves as the whip for the official opposition to justify to me why they want to remove one member and put another member on that committee. I do not do that. It is not my place to do that. It is the Liberals' business who they have on a certain committee and it is the Liberals' business who they choose to let their name stand as vice-chair of a certain committee. I do not try and tell them and dictate and say, “Well, I don't like that person's attitude. I don't like what they said the other day. I don't like what they did last week, so we are going to vote them off the island and we are going to have someone else serve as vice-chair”. It is the Liberals' business who they have as vice-chair. I do not pretend for a minute that I should be able to dictate to them who that person is.

As the government House leader has said, I would suggest very strongly that the leader of the official opposition does not understand the rules very clearly when he thinks that this is a question of privilege. It is not a prima facie question of privilege. Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to rule in that way.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised to hear the government whip make a statement to the effect of how audacious it is of members of the other parties to determine who the Conservatives have as chair of a committee.

I have to say to the member, with all due respect, our rules were changed very explicitly to provide that the members of committees elect the chairs. They are not appointed by the government. They are not appointed by the government whip. They are elected by the members of the committee by secret ballot.

Those remarks in my view are presumptuous and allow me to infer as a member that the government is purporting to name chairs or vice-chairs.

I accept and we all accept that the government whip and the parties have a role in putting forward people for election, but once that is done, it is up to the members of the committee and the Chief Government Whip should know that.

I also state, and I will wrap up here, that if the government whip in taking that view is also of the view that he and they, his members, will refuse to perform work on a committee, then that in my view constitutes a constructive obstruction to the work of a committee created by this House and given a mandate by this House. That is what the leader of the official opposition is trying to say this afternoon.

We have a serious problem that if not a privilege borders on privilege. We have to get it fixed, because I as one member cannot allow this attitude to prevail.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify something in this debate. I want to begin by saying that I attended this morning's entire meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages. I was there from 9 a.m. until the end. The chief government whip is trying to bet on public opinion. However, there are some facts that the chief government whip cannot deny. Among other things, in this House we have to abide by the Standing Orders. A chair, and even you, Mr. Speaker, in your position as Speaker of the House of Commons, cannot on his or her own initiative rule on a wide range of matters because those matters are included in, limited and governed by the Standing Orders. What happened in the Standing Committee on Official Languages is another illustration of this.

Today, this incident happened in the Standing Committee on Official Languages. As a whip, I have complained many times about the behaviour of certain chairs. I do not complain about the person specifically, but that the person filling the role of chair, who is part of the government, thinks he is above the rules. That is why we consistently ask the chair to verify regulatory and legal aspects with the committee clerk, who is not partisan. In most cases, our clerks are very qualified. They are the guardians and custodians of the rules that govern us in the House and in committee. Unfortunately, the chairs think they are above the rules and they ignore advice from the clerks.

Let us put things back in perspective. The government whip may attempt to stir a public opinion battle through the media, but there are facts that cannot be denied. These are undeniable facts. The chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages lost the support of the majority of members on the committee. What does that mean? What happens when the chair of a committee has lost the support of its members? Must we keep him on? Should we turn a blind eye? Do we sweep the dust under the rug, figuring that it was just a bad patch, and forget about it? I am sorry, but what happened at the Standing Committee on Official Languages was decided by the members of that committee, who felt that enough was enough and that this chair did not deserve the confidence of the committee.

Our Standing Orders are clear. Standing Order 106(2) states, and I quote:

At the commencement of every session and, if necessary, during the course of a session, each standing or special committee shall elect a Chair and two Vice-Chairs, of whom the Chair shall be a Member of the government party, the first Vice-Chair shall be a Member of the Official Opposition, and the second Vice-Chair shall be a Member of an opposition party other than the Official Opposition party.—

I will dispense with the rest of the standing order in question.

The chair having lost the confidence of the committee, a motion was put forward by the whip for the NDP. Members from the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois voted in support of the motion, and the member from the NDP also voted in support of his own motion. The Conservatives voted against it. How do the votes tally up? Because he is in government, the government whip would have wanted to disregard the outcome of the vote and say that, even though there were seven votes against four, the four won over the seven. I have never been good at math, but I would say, based on the law of numbers, that seven is more than four.

The situation of a minority government is special, but it looks as though the Conservative government has not yet understood that. In committee, as in this House, when the three opposition parties unite, the government cannot pass what it wants. This is the reality of a minority government. The committees are made up as follows: there are five Conservative MPs—including a chair, four Liberal MPs, two from the Bloc and one from the NDP. Which means that sometimes we vote seven to four. The opposition parties do not always have to stand together. Sometimes one opposition party votes with the government and it is defeated. Other times, one party finds itself alone with its own motion. This is the reality.

I will end by explaining that this morning we lost confidence in the chair and we tried to elect a new chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages. We offered the position to four members of the Conservative Party: the member for Beauport—Limoilou, the member for Louis-Hébert and two other members whose riding names I have forgotten. They all refused.

This is understandable when the person is unable to accept. Did they refuse voluntarily or did they refuse as the result of instructions from the whip? The chief government whip—and he will recall—has already told me that, if we wanted to bring a chair down, all the others would refuse. So this is the situation we are in. All the others refused; the committee is not dissolved, but it is suspended.

As parliamentarians, we will have to decide what to do to clear the impasse. The chief government whip, however, had told me that this is what would happen. It was already written in the big book. What happened this morning was not a surprise. I therefore support the question of privilege tabled by the leader of the official opposition.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I see no problem with the Chief Government Whip saying that the government may select committee members, since every political party does it. This has never been a problem. However, when it is the committee chair who makes the selection and the chair decides to go against the committee's decision, it is then that we must intervene, withdraw confidence and raise a question of privilege.

Furthermore, the Chief Government Whip is saying that our conversation was private and confidential. At no time did we say that it was confidential. This is not the first time this has happened. It also happened last year in another committee. The Chief Government Whip turned his back on us and threatened us, if we did not do as the government wanted, which was to do away with the committee and no longer appoint anyone.

I call that blackmail and, here in the Parliament of Canada, we do not accept blackmail on the part of the Conservative government or the Chief Government Whip.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:50 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 have a couple of new points I would like to bring forward on this question of privilege.

Let us make no mistake, this is a partisan issue and everyone here knows it, whether they are willing to admit it or not. Again, I would reiterate the comments of my colleague.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Yes, your's.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

I listened with patience and with tolerance to other comments and I would expect the members opposite to give me the same consideration.

Without question, everyone here knows that this is not a matter of not having confidence in the chair. This is a political matter. We have had a rash of non-confidence motions in the chairs of committees over the past little while. In fact there is a motion right now for yet another committee, the Standing Committee on International Trade, to express non-confidence in the chair.

There is no other reason for this except that the opposition, first, is trying to embarrass the government, and second, is trying to take control of the committees by changing the Standing Orders.

I also want to take issue with a comment by the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River who asked, in respect to the hon. government House whip's comments about the fact that a Conservative chair needs to be reappointed or re-elected, whether the official whip knew that the rules are that this is an election, not an appointment process. That is very true but we must have a government member allow their names to be forward. They have complete confidence in the current chair and they do not want to put their names forward. That is where it stands right now.

Those are the rules and the Standing Orders. In fact, if one were to accept the logic of the members of the opposition who basically seem to be saying that in committee and in all other parts of the Parliament, if the opposition vote as a majority to either change a chair or change Standing Orders, we should allow it be done, let me just pose a question.

We are in a minority government right now but what would happen in the case of a majority government? Would government members be able to stand in this House and say, “Mr. Speaker, we want to change a number of standing orders and, by the way, we also want to curtail debate on the legislation before you, and, by a majority vote, if we win that will happen”.

It would be a very efficient way to govern but it would not be very democratic, which is what is happening here. They are trying to ignore Standing Orders for political purposes.

Mr. Speaker, I beseech you to not get caught up in this partisan attack on chairs we have elected and who should regain the confidence of all committee members.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

There cannot be many more points on this one that I have not heard already. I will hear members very briefly but if it is repetitious, I will cut the members off. I warn them of that because I feel I have heard the arguments on this matter now. The hon. member for Laval—Les Îles.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to offer some clarification that is at the source of this debate; specifically, why we asked the chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages to resign.

It was a majority decision. The three opposition parties agreed to do it. I must say that it is rare for the three opposition parties to agree, but in this case, they did. The chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages cancelled the meeting last Tuesday without giving any reason or prior notice to the members. We found out exactly two minutes before 9 o’clock, when we should have been starting the meeting. He also cancelled the following meeting, which was scheduled for last Thursday. It is my understanding that only reason we had a meeting this morning is that I was able to put forward a motion to have a meeting.

We asked the chair to resign because he did not have the confidence of the members of the committee. The members of the committee elected that chair because the members form a unit and they work together, as a team. That means that the work of the committee must be done together. What happened is that the chair made a decision last Tuesday without consulting the members of the committee and without advising them. The chair is elected by the members and is accountable to the members. In my view, what happens in Parliament—and I include the House and the committees of the House--must, at all times, be democratic. I apologize for the cliché, but the eyes of the nation are upon us. What happens here must be as democratic as possible.

On one hand, the chair first decided to cancel two meetings without informing the members; without giving them any reason for the cancellation. On the other hand, this morning’s meeting was divided in two; there was a change in the agenda for the second part. It was cancelled once again without informing the members and without asking for their views.

I believe this clarification was important. It is not because we wanted to take down the chair. It was not because we were angry over anything; it is because, in our opinion, the partisan strategies of the chair could not be considered acceptable in a committee that calls itself democratic

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to mention a point that has not yet been raised. I am simply reacting to the comments made earlier by the member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, who seemed upset at the partisan nature of this place.

I do not know whether the hon. member is aware of that, but this is not a bridge club: this is the House of Commons. If the hon. member is not partisan, then for heaven's sake he should sit as an independent member, or else hold his meetings elsewhere. Politics is the essence of our work here. It is partisan work by definition. When I rise on behalf of my party, I do not want to adversely affect it, so my remarks are partisan by nature.

I will conclude by saying that we should not forget that the fundamental issue was that we were supposed to hear witnesses on the court challenges program, which the government abolished. We wanted to know what ordinary citizens thought of that decision. Abolishing the court challenges program was a partisan decision. That is why the committee's partisan members wanted to hear these witnesses.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add a new element, in reaction to the comments of the member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, who said that there seems to be an endless number of such motions. He mentioned two.

I personally sat on two committees of this Parliament. The first one is the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities—on which I am still sitting—chaired by the member for Brandon—Souris, in whom I have total confidence. I also sat on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, chaired by the member for Perth—Wellington. Incidentally, this is the committee that reviewed the issue of the court challenges program. Again, I have full confidence in this member as chair of that committee.

Therefore, the government should not say that the official opposition is systematically opposed to all committee chairs, because that is not the case.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I believe I have heard enough about this point. I see, however, that the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou wants to speak.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:55 p.m.

Beauport—Limoilou Québec

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about democracy here. I hope that as a Conservative, I have the right to have confidence in my chair and I also have the right to vote as I wish.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:55 p.m.

An hon. member

Yes, that's right.

Standing Committee on Official LanguagesPrivilegeOral Questions

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I have heard enough about this point.

I will take the matter under advisement and come back to the House in due course with a ruling on this point.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-53, An Act to implement the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Settlement of International Investment Disputes ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-53, An Act to implement the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention).

One of my colleagues from the Liberal Party in the previous intervention talked about the lack of confidence in the chair and said that the eyes of the nation are upon us. I certainly believe that is the situation in the House.

People watching back home must have been wondering about the cluster of Reform Party members in the previous debate licking their wounds in outraged indignation. It reminded me of when I was a kid and Gilles “The Fish” Poisson once lost a Texas cage match to “Killer” Kowalski and he talked about how he had been hard done by.

As serious as the issues are, they are sometimes somewhat surreal. I think people back home wonder exactly what we are debating here because we seem to be in a bubble sometimes, separated from the reality of working people and their workplace.

I want to speak to this bill in terms of concrete examples. I am going to focus specifically on how a bill like this would be enacted. It is all very well to talk about the need for an international convention on the settlement of investment disputes because these happen all over the place and we need to set some high standards.

In recent years, and particularly with the chapter 11 case with NAFTA, we have seen some very disturbing trends emerging. The New Democratic Party members will certainly be voting against this bill because we have concerns about the lack of transparency, the lack of accessibility, and the lack of accountability.

When we talk about protecting investments overseas and in Canada, we are talking about how it needs to be based on the rule of law. We certainly believe that law is a guiding principle, but there are a number of principles about law that have to be applied. A number of the dispute mechanisms seem to be basically circumventing some of the basic principles of law.

If there were to be a dispute in court, the interested parties should be able to speak to it. That is a fundamental principle of law. We do not see that, for example, in chapter 11 of NAFTA. We did not see that in what was laid out in the multi-lateral investment agreement that came out in 1997. There needs to be a transparency of judgments, and yet with this ICSID bill that is before us there is no obligation to even publish the evidence and the awards.

One of the most fundamental issues in terms of legal jurisprudence is the need for transparency and full disclosure of evidence, so that evidence can be weighed publicly, not behind closed doors. There is a fundamental difference between being judged by a jury of peers in one's community and being judged by a couple of buddies in a backroom.

I am going to speak about a specific case and how I see it unfolding under chapter 11 because I believe it resonates the application for applying the principles on a larger scale. That case is the $350 million claim against the Government of Canada by one Vito G. Gallo. I have his request for arbitration under chapter 11 of the free trade agreement. I have read Mr. Gallo's claim from start to finish and it is very interesting. I know most of the case fairly well.

He says he is the sole owner of 1532382 Ontario Inc., a company incorporated under the laws of the province of Ontario. I would agree that this company is incorporated in Ontario. I would also agree with him that the Adams Mine, a former iron ore mine, is located 10 kilometres southeast of the town of Kirkland Lake. That is in my riding. Other than that I would question most of the evidence that he has brought forward to the arbitration dispute panel.

That gets back to the issue under Bill C-53 about the need to fully disclose evidence. For example, in Mr. Gallo's claim, he states that he owns and controls the enterprise, meaning the Adams Mine as a possible site for landfill.

I find that very interesting. We have to go back a bit into the history of this site. In 1990 Dofasco shut down the Adams Mine. It was an iron ore operation in my riding which lost a number of good paying jobs. The issue then became its possible use as a landfill, but the landfill was fairly challenged because we had 360 million litres of groundwater flowing through it every year.

At that time the owners were Notre Development, a small company out of North Bay, and the City of Toronto, which was a partner. The city of Toronto paid for most of the initial costs. It was the taxpayers in Toronto, not investors, who paid for the studies.

The studies were based on an unproven concept called hydraulic containment. It stated that 360 million litres of groundwater, which people in my riding contended fed the entire agricultural belt in the valley below, flowed through the pits every year. The theory was that pipes would be installed and for 1,000 years the groundwater of northern Ontario would be used to wash 20 years worth of garbage. It was seen then as somewhat of a cockamamie plan, but the city of Toronto paid for the studies to get this to ground level.

In 1997 it went before an environmental assessment board in Ontario at a time when Premier Mike Harris, who was considered a very close supporter of the dump, changed the environmental assessment act in Ontario, and changed it dramatically.

We suddenly had a scoped EA for what would be the single largest dump project in Canadian and possibly North American history. It was subject to a very narrowly scoped EA, which looked at only the question of whether the computer models supplied by the proponent were feasible. At that time all the other issues of groundwater contamination and the potential threat in the surrounding environment were ignored.

It was actually passed at that time in a very narrowly focused area, but there were issues with 2 of the 12 or 13 drill holes. There were two serious questions about whether those proved the theory of this dump or they did not. I am explaining this just as background so everyone has the full sense of what I am talking about in terms of this multilateral investment agreement that we are looking at now.

The city of Toronto stepped back and decided it was no longer going to be a proponent. Therefore, it was no longer the key proponent, but it was possibly a customer for this site. Throughout this, it was an Ontario company bidding on a municipal contract. There was no discussion at any point that this was in any way an international project.

In 2000 the city of Toronto walked away from this proposal because of the dangerous issues of liability. Nobody wanted to accept the liability for having to guarantee that pumps on a theoretically unproven site could run for 1,000 years. It also stepped aside because it was probably the largest civil disobedience action in Ontario history at that point.

The federal and provincial governments were very cognizant of the fact that the Algonquin nation had brought forward a very serious prima facie case for unextinguished aboriginal title at that site. There were numerous questions, as well as the potential groundwater threat from this unproven site.

The city of Toronto was not willing to accept the liability. Canadian Waste Services at that time, which was the new partner, also walked away, so the site was left without a customer. If we check the records for the last seven years, regardless of what happened with Michigan, the city of Toronto said time and time again, “We will never go back to this site. No matter what, we will never go back there”. It was a site without a customer.

Then in 2002-03 a new company was formed, which was 1532382 Ontario Inc. It set itself up as the new proponent. What is this company? We do not really know.

I have a corporation profile report. What is the jurisdiction for 1532382 Ontario Inc.? It is Ontario. What is the former jurisdiction? It is not applicable. The corporation type is an Ontario business corporation. What is its registered address? It is Suite 101, Don Mills, Ontario. Its mailing address is 225 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 101, Don Mills, Ontario. If you are not seeing much of an international investor angle here, you are like me, Mr. Speaker.

Page 2 of this very paltry corporate report says that the administrator is Brent W. Swanick. His address is 104 Yorkminster Road, North York, Ontario. The first director is not applicable. The officer type is president. The resident is Canadian.

We do not see anything on this paltry two page report of any connection as to who is behind this Ontario numbered company, a company that picked up a site that was derelict, that had no customers and no possibility of a customer. Then it decided to go into business to bid on a municipal contract. We have an Ontario numbered company bidding under the province of Ontario for a municipal contract. The only contract it could get from the city of Toronto was that it would not deal with the company.

The deal was contingent upon two key issues, and they are raised in NAFTA chapter 11 challenge. First was the fact that it applied for a take water permit in 2003. The second issue was that it applied through the MNR to purchase 2,000 acres of Crown land at what we thought was the outrageously low price of $22 an acre. In fact, I helped initiate a local bidding campaign that said we would spend $5 to $10 more an acre and we would outbid it. There is a fundamental principle. If we are to dispose of Crown land assets in the province of Ontario, we have to go through due diligence and bring this out into the public. We cannot simply do this behind the scenes.

The other issue with this 2,000 acres was it was subject to a land claim issue with the Algonquin nation. It came forward very clearly with its prima facie evidence that said that there had been no consultation with the nation. It said that it had be consulted. Therefore, it was an obligation of the Ontario government to hold up the disposal of the Crown land until that was addressed.

The other issue that was very pertinent at the time was whether the take water permit at the site should have been allowed. On August 12, 2003, Dr. Ken Howard, who has been recognized as the key hydrogeologist in the province of Ontario, was brought in to review the information. Dr. Ken Howard was also brought in to deal with Walkerton and was the key provincial guy for bringing forward all the recommendations for provincial legislation out of the Walkerton report.

He studied the Adams Mine environmental assessment process. He said that the decision to issue the certificate at that site specifically was based on the results of drill holes 98-1 and 98-2. He concluded that the drill hole results were “seriously deficient” and that the director of approvals branch approved the dump on evidence that “had virtually no scientific merit” and were “effectively worthless”.

We will not find that in my mysterious friend Vito Gallo's submission. Neither will we find any of the issues before the NAFTA tribunal about this first nations land issue or the fact that there was widespread opposition to this plan or the fact that there was no customer. However, that might not matter. Under chapter 11, a mysterious numbered company is going before a tribunal and saying it wants a dispute mechanism where all this evidence does not come through and the public interest does not get to be heard.

The other question I find really interesting in this is I have never heard of Vito Gallo. Now maybe that is not an uncommon thing. There are lots of people of whom have not heard, but I have heard of many of the people who have been involved in the Adams Mine over the years because I have paid very close attention to it.

For example, I was very aware of the Cortellucci group of companies out of southern Ontario. In the May 9, 2003 issue of the Toronto Star they were identified as key owners of this Adams Mine proposal. In fact, Mr. Mario Cortellucci has given serious amounts of money through clan Cortellucci to the Conservative government. However, I am not bringing that up here because I am not being partisan. I am just pointing that out as a side issue. When Mr. Cortellucci was asked by the Toronto Star if he was in fact the owner of the Adams Mine at that point, he said he was just one of a dozen or so investors.

Now we have a situation where we have this numbered company. We do not know what it is except we know it is an Ontario company run by an Ontario administrator. Maybe we have no I.D. to prove this, but this man is purporting to be an American who has international rights to come in because he has been circumvented in all his other points. There are questions about who else is involved in this.

We know the Cortellucci Group of Companies was identified. In 2003 a lawsuit was launched by Canada Waste Services over the ownership of the site. It never mentioned Vito Gallo, but it mentioned the Notre Development Corporation and the Cortellucci Group of Companies. In fact, it referred to the Cortellucci agreement.

We would think it would be incumbent upon the Government of Canada, before we fork out $350 million to Vito, my friend, to find out who is behind this numbered company.

We do not know if any of the due diligence has been done. All we know is this numbered company tried to sue the Ontario government in 2003-04, after it was shut down when the provincial Liberal government revoked the permit based on a number of key issues. The first was new evidence. The second was as a result of the Walkerton inquiry. It was the idea that in Ontario in the 21st century we did not use groundwater to wash garbage. It is kind of an odious thought. Ontario decided that is not even a 20th century idea and it is not even a 19th century idea. We do not use groundwater to wash garbage. Therefore, it suspended the permit, not just for that site, but for any site in Ontario on the bases that we do not use a lake full of fresh groundwater in which to throw our garbage.

At that point this numbered company, 1532382 Ontario Inc., sued the Ontario government, which is fair. They are investors. They took their case of $300 million and they went against the Ontario government. However, we did not see that case go anywhere. Nothing seemed to happen.

We know there were some negotiations with some of the investors about whether to accept a payout. Then, lo and behold, just a few months ago, Vito G. Gallo said that he owned the mine, that he was the direct beneficiary of all the possible benefits that should have accrued, going back to when Toronto was paying for the cost.

We had no evidence to know at what point Vito Gallo stepped into the Adams Mine. We do not know if Vito Gallo is the only investor. We do not know if Vito Gallo is one of a hundred investors, one of ten investors, or one of five investors. We do know this company that he says he owned as an American investor is an Ontario numbered company. It was an Ontario numbered company bidding under provincial rules for a municipal waste contract in the province of Ontario. There was nothing international about this whatsoever. Yet he is now before a NAFTA tribunal, asking for $350 million, and the Canadian taxpayers will not have our lawyers there bringing forward witnesses.

One would think that if we are going to talk about international trade law that has jurisprudence on its side and accountability and fairness, then fairness would include the right of a domestic government to bring forward legislation that is fair. If it does affect business, there is a process. However, the government might have compelling reasons, such as Dr. Howard's evidence, to act on this.

Another doctor I would like to mention is Dr. Larry Jensen. He is the provincial geologist for the Kirkland Lake region. He spent 40 years studying the faults of the Adams Mine.

I found it absolutely strange when I was at the environmental assessment hearing and I looked at the maps of the experts which showed all the fault lines. They were very vague. There was hardly anything there. In fact, they were not Dr. Jensen's maps; they were maps from the 1950s.

I will conclude on this. Dr. Larry Jensen was a the provincial geologist in the Kirkland Lake region for 40 years. He studied the Adams Mine every day. He said that the Adams Mine proposal was,

—a disaster for the not too distant future, perhaps not for the residents of Kirkland Lake itself, but for all those people and the wild life to the south and southeast in the Timiskaming region and beyond, as far as to the mouth of the Ottawa River—an area hundreds of times larger than Toronto itself.

When we have evidence like that, jurisprudence says all the evidence has to be brought out. The first piece of evidence that has to be brought out in any international dispute mechanism is who are these people behind this numbered company who are going after the Canadian taxpayer for a hit of $350 million?

Until we see how the new international convention protection that ensures these kind of operations cannot put the hit on Canadian law will be merged with investor relations, we will not support any bill like this. We are doing our job in this House and in our provincial legislation to protect the public interest.