House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was food.


Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.


Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

As he was saying, the European Union is a market of capital importance to Quebec and Canada. If we do not have an agreement with the European Union, companies will be tempted to move to countries that have access to the European Union. In that respect, the hon. member for Sherbrooke is right.

Concluding a trade agreement with the European Union should be a priority. If we do not have a trade agreement with the EU, in the coming years we will see companies move to countries that have signed such agreements in order to access this huge market.

One of the priorities of parliamentarians would be to work on establishing an agreement with the European Union. This agreement with the European Free Trade Association is a step in the right direction.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.


Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I really enjoy discussing things with my colleague from the Standing Committee on International Trade because of his expertise, his experience and his knowledge.

Businesses in his riding have suffered quite a bit from the Conservative ideology that we have seen in recent years. In his presentation, he mentioned the loss of 150,000 jobs in Quebec, including 80,000 lost since the Conservative regime began.

We are concerned about two factors, as we indicated in our supplementary opinion in the report: supply management and the shipbuilding industry.

My hon. colleague will recall that when we met with representatives from the shipbuilding industry, two important points were raised. One was the accelerated capital cost allowance that the Conservative government readily granted to the oil industry. The shipbuilding industry deserves the same.

The NDP member mentioned it earlier. In the west, the shipbuilding industry represented nearly 31,000 jobs. There are far fewer today. This industry deserves to be supported, however, as it was subsidized in Norway for many years. Businesses have had the time to modernize, restructure and build a strong, lucrative industry.

In the meantime, this government has long since abandoned all types of subsidies. Yet no one is asking for subsidies for the shipbuilding industry, but rather assistance that could be in the form of accelerated capital cost allowance, as mentioned by industry representatives, or loans, loan guarantees or funding through EDC. These are all possibilities.

I would like to know if my colleague believes that the Conservative government will take the necessary action to help the industry develop. People are demanding it. It is possible for the government to do something about this.

I wonder if my hon. colleague can tell us how we can incite the government to do something. Do we have to go as far as replacing the Conservatives with the Liberals, if the Liberals believe in it? For eight years, the Liberals took part in free trade agreement negotiations with the European Free Trade Association. If changes had to be made, which of the two parties would be most likely to implement such measures?

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.


Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

In response to his concern about shipbuilding, for some time now, the Bloc Québécois has been urging the government to bring in a real marine policy to ensure the development of this industry, which is of strategic importance to Quebec and essential to the protection and environmental safety of the river. As others have pointed out today, the federal government stopped subsidizing the industry in 1988. The government stopped subsidizing it, so Quebec brought in tax credits for the industry, but the federal government clawed back between 20% and 25% of the money allocated to support Quebec's shipbuilding industry. Shame on the government, with its multi-billion dollar surplus, for not offering more support to this industry.

To answer my colleague, the Conservative Party will have to understand this eventually. The government saw what happened in the manufacturing sector where many jobs have been lost in the textile industry and all other manufacturing industries. Despite the fact that it rakes in so much money, the government never offered that industry any support. Its surplus was in the billions—$11 billion last year—but it did not offer any help. I think there is a lesson in that, and we hope that the Conservative government gets it. We cannot leave the industry to its own devices without providing some support to help it deal with competition. Under this agreement, it has 10 to 15 years, depending on the type of vessel, to bring in a real marine policy to support the shipbuilding industry. It has the means. I hope that the government will wake up.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.


Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the chamber and speak to this important issue.

There are so many different facets to any trade agreement. The principle behind it should be, for obvious reasons, to ensure a fair and principled trading relationship is developed so that it not only fosters economic development and social prosperity in our country, but also leads to greater relations with other countries and improves their trading and prosperity as well.

However, in that discussion there needs to be a balance and restitution when there are policy changes that will affect workers across this country, whether they are in Quebec, in British Columbia or in my home province of Ontario. We have seen some very significant shifts in people's lives when a trade agreement is brought into place by the government, although we are not sure whether we will be doing that here yet as we are just discussing it right now.

We have expressed some concerns on this one from day one with regard to the shipbuilding industry and also supply management for the agricultural industry. What we have sought to do is to find remedies to those main elements because workers will be exposed to some unfair practices and procedures. Until we actually get those things taken care of, that is the reason we object to this trade agreement.

I find it a little naive for the other parties to raise these issues of concern and then blindly hope the Conservatives will bring something in later on. Those things need to be put in the structure of the agreement now because, if we then start to take other measures, there will be challenges by other governments about the faith of the agreement and whether we were acting in good faith when signing it but then we were going to then do something different later on. We will create another complicated situation.

With this trade agreement, we need to ensure that all the parties understand there are a couple of areas of particular concern that are heightened here and which need to have a different set of rules to them.

For the shipbuilding industry, it is a real concern related to the fairness. Norway, in particular, is after this Canadian gem. It really is an opportunity. There has been discussions about the erosion of the industry but there is also an incredible opportunity right now to rebuild our shipbuilding capacity. I will talk a little about that later. However, it is an exciting opportunity for Canadian manufacturing and also Canadian value added work that could be done in our home ports.

It has been done in the past. We have an opportunity right now that we are squandering if we are going to be entering this agreement, because the phase out period, from 10 to 15 years, depending upon the circumstances, is not sufficient to put the proper policy in place. Once again, if we take other measures to try to do that after signing an agreement, I am sure we will end up being challenged on that. These things need to be fixed first before they go forward.

The second element that we have had increasing concern about is the issue of our supply management. What we would be doing right now is giving up our agricultural independence in many respects. Some elements would go to the WTO and there will be trade dispute mechanisms there. I will talk a little about that later. We would also be giving up our sovereignty.

Coming from a community that was reliant on jobs in the auto sector and still is to this day as we try to transition to a certain degree and win back some of the jobs in the auto sector, we witnessed first-hand the catastrophe of trade agreements and also the WTO.

Specifically, we can see it across this land right now with manufacturing. We now have more service jobs in Canada than manufacturing. We have lost around 250,000 jobs in the last five years and 60,000 of those lost jobs have been since January this year alone. That is unacceptable. We have witnessed this basically from a false economy, by having a high export of natural resource commodities, especially in the oil and gas sector, and it is not sustainable. We have driven our dollar so far up so quickly that rapid escalation has taken place and we have not been able to adjust in many ways.

We actually have not had the opportunity to prepare for this. Often what is not discussed in this whole debate is the fact that we had a lot of assembly and manufacturing that did not get the proper research, development and procurement for new equipment because we did not have a proper capital cost reduction allowance program in place to increase productivity levels. That was missed out.

What often ends up happening in a branch plant economy is that even knowledgeless jobs are lost to China, Mexico and the United States. Many of the jobs that are being lost right now in my constituency are sister and feeder plants that are being relocated to the U.S. because of the high dollar. The government has simply not done anything about it.

The new auto policy that it put in place is very vague and it is a modest amount of money. Ironically, it is derived upon a new tax on the auto sector itself and people are furious about that situation. The government has not shown any goodwill to address this issue.

I am not sure why the other parties think that the Conservatives will somehow get it and then, on top of that, politically act and put measures in place that will protect the shipbuilding industry. I do not think that is a realistic expectation. Once we make these decisions, we can change significant features of the Canadian economy. Even though shipbuilding is not at the peak that it was in the past, it has the opportunity to go forward.

I want to touch a bit on what happened with another trade deal. The Auto Pact in Canada was one of the best trade agreements ever entered into. It is a good example of dealing with the situation. Essentially, the deal was that if people wanted to ship vehicles into Canada, the vehicles had to be built here too. It opened up the North American market between Canada and the United States and a lot of value added jobs were added to the Canadian economy. It was very successful.

A number of new plants opened and a whole series of supply elements came with that. We had research and development and headquarters were located in Canada. It created an evolution, in many respects, in the automotive industry. Windsor was where the first automobile was produced in Canada. Despite that, there had not been the big progression that we wanted.

However, when the Auto Pact came into play, it really took off and was very successful. It was different than some of the manufacturing and service sector jobs. The service sector jobs are important too but they do not bring in the type of income that is necessary to sustain and support the average Canadian family. We have seen that through a series of statistics and heard it in testimony from constituents who are having a hard time getting by today and making the payments on their ordinary bills. These manufacturing jobs really became the basis for many progressive values in the Canadian system.

What also came about because of that trade agreement was the first program in Canada, developed in Windsor, that provided payments for prescription drugs as part of people's health care plans. That resulted from the trade agreement and the auto policy. Later on it became a feature of negotiations by the CAW and other labour organizations. Now the system is used is many places across Canada. It is a way of compensating employees by providing partial coverage for drug plans.

We entered into NAFTA with the United States and we became exposed to the WTO that then ruled against Canada having the Auto Pact. What became the recipe to create a good environment then became another one to dismantle it. The result is that we have gone from being the fourth largest assembler of vehicles in the world to number ten, and we are slipping further on that. We are continuing to witness a decline.

It is sad. At a time when the industry is starting to change significantly because of newer technologies and an exciting future, we are not there. Some projects in this country have gone forward and have been positive but, by and large, we are missing out on greater opportunities for vehicle development that is now happening in other countries for a whole host of reasons. A lot of that is over policy.

I see the same type of situation taking place with the WTO in the supply management situation that we will be facing with this trade agreement deal. I have a lot of concern. When we look at the WTO and how it rules, it has been described in some categories as a kangaroo court because the bodies listening to complaints are often controlled by corporations and business interests and can override domestic laws and sovereignty issues.

It is very important to recognize that the dairy and some of our other agricultural sectors will be giving up terms and conditions that could be favourable to Canadians in having other people set our rules. I do not particularly get great comfort in that given the experience we have had in the auto sector on this.

I want to turn my attention to this agreement and the shipbuilding industry. Right now there is a current tariff of 25% and Norway has been really good. It is interesting because Canada, despite having the largest coastline of any nation, really does not have the shipbuilding industry that it should have and historically has had since World War II. What is important about this deal is that there was an attempt by the shipbuilding association and the unions to carve this out of the actual agreement.

People might say, that is fine but they cannot get their way, so we should just go ahead with it anyway and see what happens and that is the way we do things. It is not. In the United States the Americans have the Jones act. The Jones act was something they put in place to protect their industry, not only just in terms of military ships but also other ships so that they are not only going to be built there, but they are actually going to be repaired and serviced there, and they are going to protect that industry.

They see it through the lens of not only just in terms of the protection of jobs but also what I think is important and being missed in this debate, and that is the ability to maintain sovereignty over national defence along with the security of the country.

If Canada sees a further erosion of our shipbuilding industry, and we have had some recent success stories because there is now a maturation in some of the fleets and there is a requirement to build at quite a significant increase in pace, we are going to witness a loss of that capacity, and we will be dependent upon others. I cannot understand how a country, with such a large coastline and such a strong tradition with regard to building and being engineers on the cutting edge in many respects of advancement, would want to pass up that opportunity.

For example, in the Great Lakes, when we had the last period of shipbuilding, there was a large influx that came in about 30 to 40 years ago or longer actually. Collingwood evolved as a shipbuilding community and a lot of the Great Lakes shipping was replaced there. Now the industry is having to change its ships, extending their life cycle, and there needs to be a large replacement of them over the next number of years.

That is a challenge because there are environmental issues, a whole host of manufacturing issues, but also it is an exciting opportunity at a time when we are witnessing the erosion of other types of employment in manufacturing in the country.

Why not now use this as an important opportunity to redefine the Canadian lens on shipbuilding and also manufacturing? We know that the work has to be done. The association admits it. It has been out there advocating because it needs to replace its fleets. At the same time we have this incredible opportunity.

Instead, by signing this agreement, we are actually going to be like Norway, having a different set of rules, and it will have more access to Canadian jobs and we will lose out on this.

We can see the characteristic comparisons with the auto industry quite clearly. After the second world war, Japan and Korea set up very specific strategies to get into the automotive market and the manufacturing market to rebuild their economies. They set up national strategies that would make them efficient and also would support the development of the industry because they knew that the jobs would be good and important, and they could create a based economy on that which was stable.

Therefore, they went ahead and did that, everything from Kia Motors in South Korea and Japan was very much supported by the American industry at that time. They got into an industry where they are now shipping into our industry quite lucratively and we cannot ship back to them.

Meanwhile, it has been the same thing with Norway. It has been very aggressive building its industry and good for it. Norway decided that as a public policy and decided to move forward with it. Now it has phased out that support, but it has done it at a time when it is really at the top of the game. It will be very difficult for us to be able to penetrate into that market. Therefore, we are going to be losing out on jobs which is unfortunate. Once again, this is a clear economic opportunity for Canada to move forward.

The testimony just did not come from the unions that are concerned about losing jobs and opportunities for the workers. Some of the shipbuilding association members actually came forward as well and presented this evidence. That is important to recognize because once again there was an attempt to say, “Let's carve it out and make sure the proper policy is there. At the same time, the deal could go forward if there were going to be those changes.”

So, as we are faced with this decision, we have to ask the fundamental questions about whether or not we should be entering into this agreement right now. The government has a period of time right now to consider it before signing this or bringing it back to the House of Commons for a vote.

I would argue that if the other parties are sincerely concerned about the shipbuilding and supply management issues, they should not support this bill until we get those clear indications from the minister and, as well, from this government. That would be the strategy that we would employ. There is no requirement right now for us to hang out this opportunity and to lose it.

What we should be doing is exercising our leverage as political parties to say, “Listen. This is a minority Parliament. There are some issues here that have been identified with this particular bill”. There are some strengths in it as well, recognizing that there are some positives, but we believe that these two things need to be examined and dealt with. That is the responsible way to go about dealing with other nations when we are entering into agreements.

If we think, and the other parties think, that once again we can just basically in a couple of years from now try to roll out some big policy that is going to shift investment opportunities that other people have already tried to go after or terms and conditions of this deal, and that they are just going to stand down, that is not going to happen.

They are going to challenge Canada on those things. We have even seen that with the softwood lumber sellout. There is a signed agreement right now. It was a sellout, a bad deal, but at the same time, despite it being a bad deal, the United States is now challenging what the provinces are doing. So we have to be accountable and upfront on this.

At the very least, we have an opportunity right now to say no to this and send it back to the government and say, “Let's fix this”. We can go to the partners that have actually said that they have some terms and conditions. They have some financing suggestions, as well as a couple of cash reduction allowance suggestions, and also a few other measures smaller than that, that they would be willing to negotiate with to derive a solution to this. Let us go back to them and actually sit down and come up with that type of a strategy.

The shipbuilding aspect, in terms of this trade agreement, is really focused on Norway. So, our leverage is quite good in many respects because only one other nation is really seriously interested in this shipbuilding component.

We have to deal with the supply management issue, as well, but I think it can be done. I think it can go forward in that context. However, until that time we, as New Democrats, are not willing to hang this industry out to dry by itself. There are too many workers.

It is interesting. I had a chance to go down to the shipyards, and speak to the workers and management as well. There is a lot of pride there. There is also a lot of willingness to work and to do the right thing. Some of those workers in the skilled trades who have been laid off have actually gone to other communities to work and then come back home.

They are willing to do those things to be productive for Canada and to be basically a breadwinner for their home, despite the fact that they cannot write off their travel expenses. This is an interesting side subject. Those workers who work in the skilled trades cannot write off the travel expenses if they travel for their work; however, curtain salesmen can. It is just unbelievable that we can have one set of standards for one group who are in sales and another set of standards for Canadians who are skilled tradespeople. It makes no sense.

I know the government has talked about this a bit and has not shut down the discussion on this, but it really needs to move on that right away. The mobility of people moving back and forth from their families needs to be dealt with. I have talked to those workers and they are willing to do that, whether the work be in Halifax, whether it be in British Columbia, or whether it be even in Alberta, when they are actually working on different projects.

I would say, just to summarize as I know my time is up, that living with the trade agreements, and coming from a constituency like mine, we are seeing the demise of the auto industry based upon the loss of trade agreements and by going to the WTO. There is an opportunity that we have in front of us, not just the challenges but the opportunity with the new procurement that is necessary for shipbuilding. With the massive loss of manufacturing jobs right now, the opposition parties need to tell the government strongly no to this deal. Let us take advantage of the opportunity of shipbuilding in our country and do it right. We can do that and we can move forward. But until then, we will not support this deal.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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1:30 p.m.


Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill and to say that the Bloc Québécois supports the free trade agreement with EFTA, the European Free Trade Association. This association refers to Europe but EFTA does not represent the Europe we know. It represents four small countries—Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland—with a total population of just over 12 million and a small percentage, about 1%, of Europe's GDP.

However, we support this agreement because it has significant benefits for Quebec. The free trade agreement will liberalize trade between Canada and these four European countries. I am referring to trade in non-agricultural goods. In fact, this agreement covers only goods and not investments or services.

Why do we support it? Why are we saying that it benefits Quebec? For example, Switzerland is known for its pharmaceutical industry which is very active in the area of brand name drugs. Drugs represent 40% of Canadian exports to Switzerland and 50% of imports. That is a great deal of trade. To penetrate the American market, Swiss pharmaceutical companies might be tempted to manufacture drugs here. Quebec is the home of the brand name drug industry because of its pool of skilled researchers and its tax breaks. Given that a free trade agreement facilitates trade between a company and its subsidiaries, it is likely to mean new investments in the pharmaceutical industry in Quebec. That is fortuitous.

As for Norway, nickel accounts for over 80% of our exports to that country.The largest mine in Canada and the third largest in the world is owned by the Swiss company Xstrata and is located in Ungava.

Aluminum is our main export to Iceland. Aluminum production is also concentrated in Quebec.

Thus, we have a de facto agreement with respect to production in Switzerland and in Quebec.

One of the extremely important factors, in the Bloc Québécois's opinion, is that this agreement does not include the same condition as previous agreements, which we did not approve of. I am referring to the agreements with Costa Rica, Chile and Colombia. I am talking about the infamous chapter on investments that gave companies the right to directly sue any government that adopted measures that caused a reduction in their profits.

We fought against those provisions, which are contained in several bilateral agreements between Canada and the countries I named. There are no such provisions in the agreement with the EFTA, no doubt because this is not a situation where Canada can impose such provisions, which it can do when dealing with underdeveloped countries. We will come back to that at another point.

As I have said, the agreement does not deal with goods or services. Accordingly, there is nothing to open public services to competition, whether or not they are provided by the state, because they are not covered. In the same way, banks and financial services will not be exposed to competition from Switzerland, or from the very solid and very discreet banking system in Liechtenstein, a veritable paradise—we will say it a whisper—for the financial world, because of its tax regime and its banking secrecy.

It is a similar situation for government purchasing. The government retains complete freedom to promote buying at home, subject to the World Trade Organization's agreement on government procurement. Obviously, it would make no sense for the government to negotiate some room to manoeuvre and later to decide not to make use of that option. Let us fervently hope that the federal government, the largest buyer of goods and services in Canada, will favour domestic suppliers and consider the spinoffs from its purchases.

I am sure that many people are concerned about the provisions on agriculture. What is important for us and for Quebec producers is that supply management is not affected. Bill C-55 allows for the implementation of bilateral agricultural agreements, which would be added on to the free trade agreement with the EFTA. There are bilateral agreements that in no way threaten supply management and will not have a great impact on Quebec agriculture. I should mention that milk protein, for example, is excluded from the agreement.

The agricultural agreements will primarily benefit the west, since they liberalize trade in some grains. But even there, the impact will not be huge. Where there are problems, however, and it must be said—I heard my NDP colleague speak about this as well because he is familiar with the problems facing shipyard workers in Canada—is in the area of shipyards.

We will try to fix these problems by calling for a shipyard support and development policy, and I am sure many members in this House will join us in doing so. We also have some concerns about the future of our shipyards.

Imported vessels are currently subject to a 25% tariff. Under the agreement, these tariffs will gradually decrease over three years, and will be completely eliminated in 15 years. Our shipyards are far less modern than Norwegian shipyards and in worse condition. Norway has invested heavily in modernizing its shipyards, while the federal government completely abandoned ours long ago.

If the borders all had to be wide open tomorrow morning, our shipyards could end up whisked away like straw in the wind, or swept away with the tide, I should say. But, for economic, strategic and environmental reasons, we cannot give up our shipyards.

Imagine the risks to Quebec if no shipyard could repair vessels that ran aground or broke down in the St. Lawrence, the largest waterway in the world? It is unthinkable, and we will not give up on our belief—this is more than just a flighty idea—that we need shipyards that are equipped with the latest technology, robust and able to stand up to competition. A little later we will see that there are several conditions that need to be met for shipyards to truly be able to develop.

For years, the Bloc Québécois has been calling for a real policy.

For years, the government has been dragging its feet. Now that the agreement has been signed, time is of the essence.

Moreover, this is the only recommendation in the report of the Standing Committee on International Trade on the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Free Trade Association. The committee agreed to insert the recommendation proposed by the Bloc Québécois international trade critic and deputy critic:

—the Canadian government must without delay implement an aggressive Maritime policy to support the industry, while ensuring that any such strategy is in conformity with Canada’s commitments at the WTO.

This is the only recommendation in the report. The Conservative policy of leaving companies to fend for themselves is deadly for shipyards. We expect the government to give up its bad policy, and we ask that, by the end of the year, it table a real policy to support and develop the shipbuilding industry. Given the urgency, we will not be content with fine talk. We need a real policy that covers all aspects of the industry. I will come back to this at the end of my speech.

I want to say that when it comes to free trade, the real issue is the European Union. A free trade agreement with Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein is nice, but we have to realize—and everyone does—that it is limited. As I mentioned, it represents just over 12 million people and roughly 1% of Canadian exports.

The real issue is the European Union, with its 495 million inhabitants who generate 31% of global gross domestic product. The European Union is the world's leading economic power.

Canada is far too dependent on the United States, where we send over 85% of our exports. The American economic slowdown, coupled with the surge in value of Canada's petrodollar against the U.S. dollar, reminds us that that dependence undermines our economy. Quebec has lost more than 150,000 manufacturing jobs in the past five years, including more than 80,000 since the Conservatives came to power, with their laissez-faire doctrine.

To diversify as we must do, we should not look to China or India, countries from which we import, respectively, eight and six times more than what we export to them. The European Union is an essential trading partner if we want to diversify our markets and reduce our dependence on the United States.

The fact that Canada has not concluded a free trade agreement with the European Union considerably diminishes how competitive our companies are on the European market. With the rising value of the petrodollar, European companies tend to skip over Canada and open subsidiaries directly in the United States. The Canadian share in direct European investments in the United States went from 3% in 1992 to 1% in 2004.

Add to that a free trade agreement between the European Union and Mexico since 2000. The Europeans are saying that they can negotiate a real tariff reduction with Mexico, while that is not really possible with Canada. They are saying that there needs to be a reduction in non-tariff barriers with Canada.

When Pierre Pettigrew was Minister of International Trade, Pascal Lamy, European Commissioner for External Trade, said he would negotiate another type of agreement.

No such negotiation is known to be taking place. I think it will not happen because it is too difficult. Just consider the fact that Europe requires GMOs in products to be identified, while in Canada, as we know, the government just recently refused to accept this measure.

The European Union has a free trade agreement with Mexico. That is an advantage for Mexico, an advantage that is prompting companies in Quebec to invest more in their own operations in Mexico since this gives them access to the European market as well as the U.S. market.

Again, Quebec would benefit from a free trade agreement with Europe. In fact, it would probably be the primary beneficiary. For example, 77% of the people who work for French companies in Canada are from Quebec, as are 37% of those who work for U.K. companies here and 35% of those who work for German companies here. In contrast, just 20% of people working for U.S. companies in Canada are Quebeckers, hence the great interest for Quebec of having a free trade agreement with Europe.

The Government of Quebec has been working with companies since the Quiet Revolution, and that is a major advantage when it comes time to seek out European investment. We have everything we need to become the bridgehead for European investment in North America.

I will use my last few minutes to appeal for a real marine transportation policy. It would include several factors, because otherwise, it will be impossible to revive this complex industry. I would remind the House that the federal government has been ignoring it since 1988. The industry needs funding, assurances and loan guarantees linked to sales contracts. In this case, access to credit at a reasonable rate is an important determining factor for the buyer. It needs loans and loan guarantees intended for shipbuilders who must invest or deposit a financial guarantee to bid for new contracts. It needs better fiscal regulations for leasing and a refundable tax credit for shipowners. Those are some measures that would help the industry.

We also need measures specifically for marine transportation in Canada. For example, we must eliminate the fees charged to marine transportation companies that practice cabotage. Truckers' employers do not pay for the damage caused to highways—and Lord knows it is extensive—although those who practice cabotage pay ice breaking fees, among others. It makes no sense.

Second, the government must implement a plan for major investments in port infrastructure. It must also bring up to standard all the ports that have been left to crumble and it must strengthen the Coastal Trading Act. It must also do something to fight against flags of convenience and poison ships. It is the federal government's responsibility to do something. It must negotiate an agreement like the Auto Pact and, lastly, eliminate all subsidies to shipyards. This House owes it to shipyard workers to pass real legislation that will allow shipyards to prosper once again.

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1:50 p.m.


Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great attention to the member from the Bloc. My own perspective is that this trade agreement is a very positive thing for Canada. It gives us a window into enhancing trade and investment with Europe. I think it is a very good start.

I have a question for the member with respect to shipbuilding, which I know has been a matter of contention. I wonder if she could comment on the state of the shipbuilding industry in places such as Lévis, for example.

The member talked about the need for various incentives or subsidies, if I may call them that, to help this industry compete with the Nordic countries. I wonder if anything within the EFTA agreement would preclude that, anything that would say it would constitute a subsidy. Are there any provisions in the agreement that address those particular matters?

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1:50 p.m.


Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. Perhaps my hon. colleague, whom I have known for a long time and who supports the sector, could help me answer it.

I do not believe that it would prevent this development. I know—and so does he undoubtedly—that, in 2000, there was an agreement with the European Free Trade Association. However, the agreement was blocked because it was not satisfactory to the shipbuilding sector.

This time around, we reached a consensus because the agreement—which will lead to competition and enable Norway in particular to be a fierce competitor, if nothing is done in the interim—will cover a 15-year period and will begin implementation in three years' time.

I do not believe that we would have signed this agreement, even unwillingly, if shipyard representatives had believed that this would prevent even governments from helping them to revive their industry.

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1:55 p.m.


Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that good answer by the member from the Bloc.

Within the EFTA agreement itself, what growth areas does the member see as possibilities for Canada and for her home province of Quebec? Are there any particular sectors, products or services in which Canada and the province of Quebec would be poised to take advantage of this agreement? Does she see any possibilities for investment back and forth between Canada and the EFTA countries?

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1:55 p.m.


Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot cover all aspects of this question. I do know, however, that several sectors in Quebec are complementary and have significant industries.

For example, the pharmaceutical sector is clearly complementary. Had this agreement not been signed for Quebec, which has a strong pharmaceutical industry, investments might have been made in the United States given that the euro and the dollar are almost at par. However, with this agreement, Switzerland will be inclined to invest more in Quebec and Canada.

In other sectors, we have mining products and there again there is a complementarity.

I did not examine the question from the perspective of the rest of Canada. However, I do know that the agreement is very favourable for certain sectors in Quebec.

Simon House
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.


Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the House a wonderful institution in my riding of Calgary West.

Simon House is an addiction treatment centre with one of the best recovery rates in North America. It was founded in 1983 by Brother Bernard Barry.

The Catholic diocese provided two houses to develop safe housing for indigent men. It has helped over 2,400 men with alcoholism, drug addiction and physical and mental disabilities.

In 2007 Simon House was the recipient of the William H. Donner Award for Excellence in Delivery of Social Services, the Donner Canadian Foundation Award for Excellence in the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse, and the Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management. The Donner Award is the highest award achievable in Canada for addiction treatment.

Simon House is a privately funded institution that does not receive any government moneys. It relies on donations from corporations and the public.

I express congratulations to Simon House on its 25th anniversary.

Khilafat Jubilee
Statements by Members

2 p.m.


Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House of Commons to recognize a very special anniversary. This year marks the Khilafat Jubilee for the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Canada.

I am very fortunate to have many Ahmadiyya community members in my riding of York West and I am blessed to enjoy a wonderful friendship with the entire community. I applaud their ongoing positive initiatives as we work together to build a stronger and more united country.

On behalf of all members of the House of Commons, I am delighted to congratulate the Ahmadiyya community on its 100th anniversary.

Saint Vincent de Paul Social Club
Statements by Members

2 p.m.


Robert Carrier Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 31 I will be proudly attending the 25th anniversary gala of the Amicale Saint-Vincent-de-Paul , an organization that has been operating in my riding since 1983. This social club organizes activities for seniors, including weekly get-togethers, community suppers and group outings.

The organization, which has been run by Gaston Lavoie for 12 years, has nearly 200 members from all over the eastern part of Laval, and particularly the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul neighbourhood. They meet every Thursday evening at the Groulx community centre to play bingo and dance. Every major holiday is an opportunity to hold a dinner and dance, many of which I have had the pleasure of attending.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I congratulate Mr. Lavoie and his entire board of directors for their commitment to seniors.

Statements by Members

2 p.m.


Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known.

More people die every year from asbestos than all other industrial toxins combined, yet Canada remains one of the world's largest producers and exporters of asbestos, dumping nearly 220,000 tonnes of asbestos every year into third world countries and developing nations.

Canada not only allows and promotes the use of asbestos, but it subsidizes the asbestos industry and blocks international efforts to curb its use.

The Minister of Health recently commissioned a Health Canada study on the health effects of asbestos. He has refused to release the report because the report affirms that asbestos kills.

All asbestos kills. Even the type of asbestos mined in Quebec kills. There is no such thing as benign asbestos, but the Minister of Health is sitting on the report because he does not want Canada to be further embarrassed by the fact that it is polluting the world with asbestos.

International Remembrance Flame
Statements by Members

2 p.m.


Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, first leaving Australia on a journey through 33 of the world's countries, the torch arrived on Parliament Hill to remind all of the evil of genocide.

The torch, the International Remembrance Flame, brightly illuminating the darkness of the past, commemorates the Holodomor, the planned genocidal famine inflicted on Ukraine by the hand of a despotic Joseph Stalin 75 years ago when millions of Ukrainians died.

Canada's government yesterday added its voice, formally recognizing the Holodomor for what it was: a genocide of unspeakable horror, of man's supreme inhumanity to man.

This International Remembrance Flame will continue on its world journey to arrive in Kiev in November for the concluding ceremonies of this 75th anniversary year of remembrance.

The torch's world trek is just a reminder to humanity to learn from history and to not repeat past crimes. As the International Remembrance Flame continues its mission across the globe, let it burn brightly.

Sealing Industry
Statements by Members

May 27th, 2008 / 2 p.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Nunavut Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a motion calling upon the Government of Canada to act now and ban the use of the hakapik as a sealing tool in order to protect our traditional seal products market.

The imagine of the hakapik is being used successfully in misinformation campaigns against Canadian seal products even though the hakapik accounts for only 10% of the seals taken each year in southern Canada.

Inuit communities are under threat from this outdated, incorrect and misleading information by the animal rights fundraising industry, which wants European legislators to ban all trade in seal products within the European Union.

Inuit have always hunted seals for food, clothing and fuel, although not with the hakapik. This is a very important part of our culture.

Even if the Europeans permit an Inuit exemption, the entire market will be destroyed, so what help is that? If the Conservative government really wants to stand up--