This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lanka.

Topics

Canada–EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing for her fine speech today. As a neighbouring riding to Nickel Belt, the hon. member knows that many mines in Nickel Belt are affected by the shipbuilding industry. The more ships we build, the more steel we need. The more steel we need, the more nickel we need, especially for building from stainless steel. Also, the more ships we build, the more wood products we need, which affects the member's riding in particular. I would like the hon. member to tell me how shipbuilding in Canada would help these two industries?

Canada–EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, when we are looking at shipbuilding, it does not just impact those people who are actually building the ships, but it does have a ripple effect into other industries, especially the mining and forestry industries. Everyone would benefit from that, not to mention some of our small business communities and the construction industry as well. Certainly, it would impact greatly. Given the fact that we have seen job loss after job loss in Canada, imagine that, we could start building up our manufacturing industry once again. Would that not be a great thing to put people back to work?

We have been seeing skill shortages over and over again. Again, by losing our shipbuilding capacities we will be losing skills. I want to reiterate that the ripple effect of job creation would certainly benefit Canada greatly.

Canada–EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Madam Speaker, I always find it somewhat amusing from time to time when people speak about six degrees of separation. I listened with great intent to the member for Halifax who spoke about her grandfather working in the shipyard in Collingwood. I could not help but reflect that my father actually came here as a new Canadian in 1963 and perhaps they worked side by side in that yard. What a legacy that would be indeed if the yards across this country were to be booming again like that yard that once was. I repeat, once was, in Collingwood.

However, to the hon. member who has just spoken so eloquently about shipbuilding and farming across this great land, we look at the trade agreements that have been signed by the last couple of governments, whether it be the North American Free Trade Agreement and now this one with Europe, and the one that was attempted with Korea and of course with Colombia. My question forms around what those do for us.

Let me first quote George MacPherson, who is president of the Shipyard General Workers' Federation of British Columbia. Really this is an industry that is across this land from coast to coast to coast. He said:

The Canadian shipbuilding industry is already operating at about one-third of its capacity. Canadian demand for ships over the next 15 years is estimated to be worth $9 billion in Canadian jobs. Under the FTAs with Norway, Iceland, and now planned with Korea and then Japan, these Canadian shipbuilding jobs are in serious jeopardy. In these terms, this government's plan is sheer folly and an outrage.

My question for the hon. member is this. Who benefits from these types of agreements, which are called free trade rather than fair trade?

Canada–EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, who does actually benefit from free trade? Basically what we have seen is that those at the top of the big industries almost ensure that the smaller entities will have difficulty surviving. There is no such thing as free trade. It just ensures that the biggest players dominate the industry.

It is just like big corporate tax cut credits. The big banks and the big oil companies get the big credits. Sixty dollars for every tax credit that goes to the big corporations only $1 goes into EI. I think that is a shame. The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer.

When we are looking at the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, chapter 11 of NAFTA allows for corporations to usurp the democratic will of Parliament. Therefore, I think it is important that we keep track of what really has been going on because no matter what Parliament's will is, free trade agreements override that.

Canada–EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague mentioned in her intervention the recent budget and its deficiencies. Despite the fact that there has been a great deal of concern expressed, the recent budget gives $60 in tax cuts to the most profitable corporations including banks and oil companies and fails those workers who have been unemployed by only returning $1 in a pitiful lack of reform to the employment insurance program. I am wondering if the member could comment about the effects of this lack of employment insurance reform on her community, on my community, and on your community, Madam Speaker.

Canada–EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, before I go into the details about EI, I will say that the impact is quite great. Just in the last two months of 2008 over 100,000 people lost their jobs and we have been hearing about job loss after job loss ever since.

On the free trade agreement, if we had fair trade, that would be great. We would be able to compete, and we can compete, as long as the government is willing to invest in the industries that we already have.

With the lumber industry, for example, when we did our prebudget consultations we heard that what that industry wanted was access to credit. Reasonable access to credit would have kept some of those mills going and kept the jobs going.

It is the same thing with our shipbuilding industry. If the government wanted to be serious about investing in shipbuilding, we would certainly be able to protect the jobs that we currently have and eventually create more jobs.

On the EI part, access to EI certainly has grave impacts across the north. Again, because of the inefficiencies across Canada, the required hours are not the same for everyone. I put forward a private member's bill to reduce that to 360 hours for everybody. I am hoping the House will support that bill when we discuss it.

As I said, when we consider that for every $60 given as a corporate tax credit only $1 goes to EI, that is an atrocity. Economists have said that an EI recipient spends that money in his or her community and there is economic stimulus right away. Within two weeks of a recipient receiving his or her EI cheque, he or she will have spent it on necessities. What happens with big corporate tax cuts? The corporations put that money in their pockets and go away, and sometimes that money is invested overseas.

Canada–EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

There is one minute left for a short question.

As there are no questions, resuming debate, the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway has the floor.

Canada–EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to speak to the issue before the House for a number of reasons. We are debating Bill C-2, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the States of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland), the Agreement on Agriculture between Canada and the Republic of Iceland, the Agreement on Agriculture between Canada and the Kingdom of Norway and the Agreement on Agriculture between Canada and the Swiss Confederation. This bill has been reintroduced. It was formerly known as Bill C-55, enabling legislation of the Canada-EFTA agreement signed in January 2008 by the present government during the 39th Parliament.

One of the reasons I am pleased to speak to this issue is that the bill was initially introduced by my predecessor in the riding of Vancouver Kingsway, the former minister of international trade.

I would like to take a rather different approach to a proper trade policy for Canada, vis-à-vis the policy that was being pursued in the previous Parliament.

I would like to begin my remarks by talking about the opportunity this legislation gives us to analyze what would be an appropriate trade policy for Canada in 2009 and as we go forward.

In my view and the view of our party, the principles that ought to be attached to an intelligent policy on trade at the present moment and in the years ahead are based on the following:

We must base our policy on the concept of fair trade, not free trade. We must base our policy on the notion of having balanced and reciprocal agreements, that is, agreements that actually respect the principles enshrined in the agreements and which guarantee that both countries have equal and untrammelled access to each other's markets. I will speak about this a bit later and we will see that a number of our recent agreements have failed in this regard.

Our trade policy ought to be based upon a foundation of a strong Canadian industrial strategy; that is, we profit best on the world stage and in our trade relationships when we have strong industrial sectors in Canada and approach trade from a position of strength for our Canadian businesses and workers.

We also need to build our policy on a position of a sound agricultural sector and well-functioning professional and service sectors. In other words, we need to build our trade policy on a strong foundation of a well-functioning and healthy domestic economy.

Unfortunately, this trade agreement does not meet the test of the principles I have just outlined. It falls short in several key areas.

As has been pointed out by several of the eloquent speakers who have preceded me, the essential problem with this piece of legislation is that it would phase out tariffs. This would put at risk a couple of very key and pivotal sectors of the Canadian economy, including the shipbuilding and agricultural sectors.

To elaborate more upon the concept of free trade, and fair trade as a distinction, I want to explain what I mean when I say fair trade. What we in the New Democratic Party mean by that is that we must ensure that we enter into agreements with other nations that respect the principle of fair wages for their workers and respect the principle of avoiding unfair subsidies to their industries. I will speak about this particular aspect with respect to shipbuilding and what Norway has done in contrast to what the Canadian government has done over the last decade.

Any agreement must be based on the concept of true reciprocal access to each other's markets and enforce standards in environmental protection, safety and employment standards.

If we enter into trade agreements with countries that do not have respect for each and every one of these principles, then we put at risk Canadian domestic sectors and we do a disservice not only to Canadian businesses but also to the workers they employ.

Agriculture and shipbuilding are two pivotal key sectors that are put at risk by the provisions in the agreement. Both sectors are particularly important to British Columbia, the province from which I come.

Agriculture is a very important industry in the province of British Columbia. I see a number of MPs who joined me last night at an event put on by the dairy producers. Dairy production is a very important part of British Columbia's agricultural sector. British Columbia has the third largest production of dairy products in Canada. It employs thousands of families. It is a clean and renewable sector. It is an important part of our domestic food supply. We need to ensure that this sector remains healthy in Canada so that we have a stable food supply for our country not only today but in the years ahead.

Shipbuilding is an industry which my colleagues have spoken about. It has a long proud tradition in this country from the east coast to the west coast. On the west coast the shipbuilding industry has been under a severe strain for the last several decades. This bill, unfortunately, would do nothing to help in that regard.

Essentially, this legislation would reduce tariffs on ships from 25% to 0% over a period of 10 or 15 years, depending on the types of products. One category of ships would go down to 0% right away. This provision refers to very large ships in the category of post-Panamax, which are ships that are not able to go through the Panama Canal.

If this bill were to pass, the Canadian shipbuilding industry, which we want to encourage to build ships, would have to compete with shipbuilding industries in other countries that have been supported by their governments in a manner that the Canadian government has not done domestically. This would put our domestic shipbuilders at great risk. Specifically, our analysis has shown that Norway has had a great head start in terms of support for its domestic shipbuilding industry and with that head start, Norway is able to produce ships which, unfortunately, Canadian shipbuilders would have a difficult time competing against.

Andrew McArthur of the Shipbuilding Association of Canada has made a compelling case on behalf of Canadian shipbuilders to have this industry explicitly excluded from this bill, as it is from NAFTA, I would point out. He notes that Norway's world-class shipbuilding industry is not subsidized today, but it does owe its present competitiveness to generous government support in years past.

This is not just a position that is taken by our party. It is a position that has been validated by industrial sectors and business people in civil society in Canada.

It is precisely the type of policy that has allowed Norway to become the world-class player that it is today. This is precisely what the federal government, once again, has failed to do by not supporting Canada's shipbuilding industry.

In terms of British Columbia, recently the current federal government and the present Liberal government in British Columbia declined to stand up for our shipbuilding industry. The example is British Columbia ferries. Hundreds of jobs were lost by the shortsighted government investment in a German shipbuilding industry rather than supporting British Columbia jobs for building ferries in B.C. coastal waters. Our party has asked that the import duties on three super C-class B.C. ferries built in Germany be entirely sent to support the shipbuilding industry in British Columbia. This very reasonable request has been refused by the current government. It would go a long way to providing some much needed money to kick-start the shipbuilding industry in British Columbia.

Shipbuilding and agriculture, besides being two key industries, are industries that not only provide good jobs but they are the jobs of the future and are sustainable.

In terms of shipbuilding, not only does it provide good, well-paying jobs upon which families can be raised, it also has multiplier effects and spin off jobs in a lot of areas in our economy, which I would think all members of the House would be interested in supporting, including research and technology, development, skilled trades, professional designing, engineering and other types of jobs that are not only the jobs of the future, but are jobs that our children will want to be trained for and occupy in the years ahead.

It is very important, when we talk about developing a trade policy that works in the years ahead, that we pay homage not only to the concept of having access to markets, but also one that promotes a strong national economy at the same time. I think I mentioned earlier that I would speak of an example where a previously poorly negotiated trade agreement resulted in us not getting the access that was promised. This example is illustrated by the softwood lumber agreement, where not only do our producers end up having to forfeit billions of dollars in duties to the United States, but at the end of the day we do not have the untrammelled access to the market we were promised by the agreement.

In my home province of British Columbia forestry is an incredibly important sector that at present is suffering in a terrible way. An almost record number of mills have shut down. I have been told by both trade unions and representatives of the business sector that they cannot remember the forestry sector being in such poor shape in living memory. Those who have studied the issue compare it to the worst state since the Depression. Tens of thousands of workers and their families have been laid off. We simply have a problem that is harming the economy of British Columbia and Canada, and part of its roots can be traced to poor trade agreements.

It is so critical, when we do negotiate trade agreements like the present one, that we ensure we get them right. In this case, we have to ensure that the interests of our domestic industries, like shipbuilding, agriculture and any other industrial sectors, affected by this are taken into account and taken care of so we do not subject them to further erosion, job loss and difficulties in terms of bringing their product to market, which is what this bill would do.

There are some good things in the bill. Entering into trade agreements with progressive countries that have respect for their workers and the environment, like the types of countries covered by this agreement do, is a good step. However, the legislation can be improved. In that respect, I would ask that the government listen to the remarks made by my colleagues and all members of the House, who seem to consistently point out the same problems, and ensure we develop and enforce policies that will ensure we have a strong shipbuilding industry, on both the west and east coasts, and a strong agricultural sector across the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and wherever we have vibrant food production in this country.

We need to ensure we have a vibrant forestry sector and industrial and professional classes in our country, which will ensure we create the jobs that are not only so needed today in this time of economic crisis, but which will also form the basis for a strong economy in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.

There is some money in the budget for shipbuilding, and it is pleasing to see that. While that is a good start, as has been pointed out by my colleagues, it is far too little. There is a bit of money for some Coast Guard vessels. There is a bit of money to replace some aging infrastructure, including some wharves. However, in terms of a true Canadian policy that will kick-start and sustain our shipbuilding industry, the budget simply does not do that.

I would encourage the government and all members of the House to pay attention to this, because we all have an interest in developing a vibrant Canadian economy in this regard.

George MacPherson, the president of the Shipyard General Workers Federation of British Columbia has stated the following:

The Canadian shipbuilding industry is already operating at about one-third of its capacity. Canadian demand for ships over the next 15 years is estimated to be worth $9 billion in Canadian jobs. Under the FTAs with Norway, Iceland, and now planned with Korea and then Japan, these Canadian shipbuilding jobs are in serious jeopardy. In these terms, this government's plan is sheer folly and an outrage.

That is from someone who is involved intimately with the shipbuilding industry in our country. The House would do well to follow and listen to his warnings in this regard.

Again, Mr. Andrew McArthur from the Shipbuilding Association for the management side takes a similar view. He says, “We have to do something to ensure shipbuilding continues”.

The easiest thing is to carve it out from EFTA, the present legislation before the House, and if members do one thing, it is this. They should convince their colleagues in government to extend the ship financing facility, make it available to Canadian owners in combination with the accelerated capital cost allowance and we will have as vibrant an industry as exists.

When we have the unique situation of both the industry businesses as well as representatives of the workers joining and meeting minds on this issue, it would well behoove the members of the House to pay attention.

It would be my great hope that the members of the House would join together and urge the government to amend the legislation, which, once again, does go some distance in arriving at an agreement that may derive benefits for our country and improve the legislation.

In the case of the government, the previous minister has stated that the shipbuilding industry is of strategic importance to the sovereignty of this nation. Our defence minister , in a press release last summer stated that the “government recognizes the challenges being faced by the shipbuilding industry and is taking real action to help both in the short and longer term”. He said that as a marine nation, Canada needed a viable shipbuilding industry to support our sovereignty.

Those are good words and I hope the government backs up those good words with policies and actions that are consistent with that rhetoric.

It is vital in this legislation that we heed not only the comments made by members of the House, both within and outside the House, but that we pay heed to the comments of the industry and to the interests of the workers and that we continue to work toward a policy that will create the kind of economy that will serve us in the future.

My colleague from Halifax had an all party press conference in Halifax at a shipyard. Once again, this underlines the fact that all parties of the House ought to be interested, as is my party, in developing and reinvigorating a shipbuilding industry that can derive and produce benefits for this country.

Reference has been made to the Jones act in the United States. which has been in place since the 1920s and which the United States has studiously refused and resisted abolishing, including during the NAFTA negotiations. That act requires the United States to have American built, American registered, American staffed vessels operating on intracoastal waters in the United States. That is sound policy for the United States and it is a policy that we should be pursuing in Canada as well. Once again, it is a principle that, unfortunately, the legislation before the House does not respect.

I hope members of the House would join me in standing up for a strong, vibrant Canadian shipbuilding industry, a strong and vibrant agricultural industry and fair trade policies upon which we can continue Canada's proud tradition as a trading nation.

Those are my comments. I would be delighted to entertain any questions that any members of the House may have.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

February 4th, 2009 / 5:25 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, with the indulgence of the hon. member who just made his presentation, I would like to interrupt the proceedings for a couple of motions.

There has been, I would suggest, quite extensive consultations among all four of the parties, and I believe if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following two motions.

First, I move:

That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, all questions necessary to dispose of Ways and Means Motion No. 6 shall be put immediately at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions on Thursday, February 5, provided that a period of time equal to that used for the taking of the division shall be added to the time provided for the government orders of that day.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

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

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

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

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

(Motion agreed to)

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, second, I move:

That, for the purposes of subsection 4(4) of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act, the proposed appointment of Mr. Brian J. Saunders as the Director of Public Prosecutions be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Does the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

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

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

(Motion agreed to)

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, the member for Vancouver Kingsway made a wonderful presentation. Mill after mill has closed down in the past several years in Northern Ontario because of the policies of the Conservative government, especially its signing away of $1 billion to the American government.

The hon. member spoke about fair trade in his statement. Would he tell me how not only British Columbia, which he represents, but also the rest of Canada would benefit if we had a fair trade agreement in the softwood lumber and shipbuilding industries as well as in agriculture?

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I will focus a little on the agriculture aspect of the member's question. I will start by answering with a quote from Terry Pugh, the executive secretary of the National Farmers Union, who said:

—the most critical and highly negative aspect of this deal, from our point of view, is its impact on supply management, for example, in the dairy industry. It's true that our access commitments remain in place for imports of certain commodities, as specified under the WTO agreement, but the tariff rates on some of those imports have been dramatically lowered, some of them to the point of elimination entirely.

It's good when the tariff rates on our exports are reduced. It's another matter when we see tariff rates on imports of dairy products, for example, coming into Canada reduced....I think the Ag Canada representative, in early March, pointed out that, for example, on butter, under 4,000 tonnes of butter coming into Canada, which is our access quota, right now under the WTO—that's a 7% tariff. Under this deal, that 7% goes down to 0%. That is, without a doubt, a tariff cut...The amount that's coming in stays the same, but the tariff rate is actually reduced.

That is a key point, because what that does is effectively facilitate access to the Canadian market for imports of dairy products....the more [this happens], the more we shut out Canadian producers from their own domestic market.

That is a good illustration for the hon. member. When we have free trade but not fair trade, our Canadian producers have difficulty competing because the playing fields are not the same.

We must ensure that any country that wants to import or export products into our country, that wants to trade with us is committed to principles of fair wages and of respect for environmental protection, ensuring the environment is not degraded to the point where our environment is sacrificed so it can lower the price of its goods. We also must have reciprocal access to that country's markets.

If any one of those three factors is not respected, then we see cheap imports flooding into our market without the reciprocal ability of our domestic producers to export our products there. In the case of the dairy producers, as I just mentioned, it even harms the ability of our domestic producers to supply our domestic market. That just hurts our businesses and it hurts Canadians across the country.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Madam Speaker, this past week the Dairy Farmers of Canada have come to visit many of us on the anniversary of its 75th year as being an organization which was absolutely memorable. It was great to meet with those members, especially since those dairy producers are actually close to our own ridings and in some cases in our ridings. One of the things that they wanted to talk about was the supply management system. My question for my colleague will be around that issue and what that means in the sense of fair trade.

They asked me what was my sense of the quality and the security of the product they were delivering, in particular milk, and what were my constituents saying to me. One of the things that came to mind was that one of the most secure systems in the world is the supply management system. One of the validators for that is mothers. It is mothers who buy milk for the youngest of us, for their children, and who never have a question about its quality and the security of it. That speaks immensely to the supply management system and how well it works.

I think that is a tribute to the type of system that we have had and continue to have, and indeed could build upon if we so chose. Then again, it is the choice that we have to make and one that is in front of us today. It is that very choice, that we could look to build on that type of a system, augment it in other sectors, and look to that and ask what are the good parts of that.

Consumers are very satisfied across the country with the dairy products they receive from the perspective of quality and security. We have seen around the world, when it comes to dairy products, that there are some systems that are not as secure as our own. I am not so sure that we would want to have those systems given to us, because we had no other choice, because we let ours disappear.

If we look at that system and we were to say to ourselves, what are the good attributes of that system and could we take those attributes and indeed overlay them on to things like shipbuilding and to other parts of agriculture in the context of a fair trade system in this particular case? Could we allow the shipbuilding industry to have a kind of managed system, not so much like dairy but use those attributes that say that once we allow it to be on a level playing field with its competition, it would be more than happy to compete?

I wonder if my hon. colleague would comment on that. Does he see any kind of linkages and does he see any overlap? Can we use and learn from those good things that we see in the supply management system in those particular dairy products?

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Welland for his astute observations and for bringing up a player in this entire debate that perhaps has not been focused on enough and that is the Canadian consumer, and the fact that we take for granted in this country that we have a safe and fair system of delivering food and bringing it to market. We can easily take that for granted when we start opening our borders in trade agreements to the introduction of foodstuffs from other countries.

I neglected to identify before that my own grandfather was a farmer who homesteaded on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border and began that in 1926. He was an ardent and firm believer in supply management and the need to make sure that the people who grow our food and produce, all of our foodstuffs in this country, are treated fairly.

Once again, this was reinforced last night in the meeting with the dairy producers of this country who also have made a further plea for us to remain committed to supply management in this country.

With the focus on the environment that has really begun in the last 20 years, I think it is very important that we all become very aware of the fact that we have a very clean and safe food production system. Not only that, it allows us to produce food locally, so we do not have to, nor would we want to, begin having a trade system that sees us transporting foodstuffs from thousands of kilometres away when we can produce those foodstuffs locally and consume those products locally.

Therefore, not only does it benefit our farmers, not only does it benefit our agricultural industry, not only does it benefit our consumers but it also benefits our environment by having a strong trade deal that is based on supply management and principles that go beyond simply price, and simply introducing products into this country that are cheap. There is so much more to a trade deal than just the price of cheap goods.

Once again, our party is standing up to enshrine those principles into trade legislation and the bill before the House unfortunately falls a little bit short in that regard.