Madam Speaker, I believe this will be the last time I speak to this implementation bill. Practically, I owe this to the member for Kelowna—Lake Country, who of course has moved the previous question. Otherwise, I would not have been able to continue speaking on this bill.
It really is a huge undertaking to try to educate and teach some members of this House, be they Conservatives or Liberals. It has been said and we will keep saying it: in teaching, you have to repeat the message. I have a few minutes to repeat this message again.
All of them, Conservatives and Liberals alike, seem to be saying that we in the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party are not in favour of our businesspeople and businesses being able to export and bring profits home to Quebec and Canada. The opposite is true, of course. In Quebec, we are great traders, and we certainly want to be able to pay for the social policies we adopt. Ordinarily we support these agreements. We always hope they will be multilateral, but in this case we are talking about a bilateral agreement between Peru and Canada.
Generally, the Bloc Québécois agrees with what is good for Quebec, but in this case, as in the other cases, no impact study has been done in connection with this free trade agreement, whether in terms of jobs in Canada, in Quebec or in Peru, in terms of workers’ rights or in terms of the environment.
Sometimes we wonder how the negotiators do their jobs if they have no impact study or, if they tell us they do not have one available, they surely have some minimal impact study so they can determine what the repercussions might be in the two countries.
I have always taken the position that when I engage in a business transaction with someone, I do not want to take advantage of that person, I want both parties to come out ahead in an economic transaction. That is also what I would like to see for all of the agreements signed by this House and implemented by legislation.
Yesterday, in debate on the implementation bill, a Conservative member made comments in which he repeated that two democratically elected parties held talks and decided to sign this agreement. But democracy is the power of the people. How were the people able to be heard and consulted, to speak out against the weaknesses in the agreement on various points, whether it be in relation to the investment agreement, the environment agreement, the labour cooperation agreement or the laws governing the accountability of our mining companies?
As well, the fundamental point for which the Bloc constantly fights is to bring us, instead, agreements that are under the umbrella of multilateralism. When I talked about democracy, agreements like these truly can result in a loss of sovereignty for some countries. This is particularly the case for the investment agreement. Certainly we have to protect someone who invests abroad against misconduct the other country or the other party might engage in. But when we say that a company abroad can have more rights than the people, that is a loss of sovereignty and a loss of democracy for the country in question.
This government also has a virtually knee-jerk reaction, particularly in an economic crisis like the one we are experiencing.
Its initial reflex reaction is to turn to less regulated markets, as in the case of the agreement with Colombia or the one with Peru. Things were not very complicated, on the other hand, in the case of the free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association. The Bloc quickly supported it. We know that these agreements can be beneficial, but the parties have to be equals and the country we are negotiating with has to be able to ensure human rights.
During my first speech on this bill, yesterday, I referred to the remarks of some of the witnesses who appeared before us in committee, but I did not have a chance to finish. I want to go over three of them.
First, Ms. Theresa McClenaghan told us that investor access to states was very problematic. We should not have this kind of thing in free trade agreements. She referred as well to sovereign rights—those of the other country, of course, but also the sovereign rights here in Canada and Quebec of local governments and the central government. We have a good example of this now with NAFTA and 2,4-D. That is a pesticide we do not want used on our lawns for aesthetic purposes. Well, the company is suing the Government of Quebec.
When a government can no longer legislate for health reasons or out of the precautionary principle, there is a major loss of sovereignty. This agreement on investment is faulty, just like the one with Peru.
She pointed, as an example, to the agreement between the United States and Australia, which gives no direct investor-state remedy. She said it could be a model of social and environmental protection. Ms. McClenaghan was representing the Canadian Environmental Law Association. Although she was speaking on behalf of an environmental organization, she spoke mostly about the problem posed by the agreement on investment. She said that we should just send the government back to do its homework because it had done an incomplete job. This agreement is hardly ideal from the point of view of protecting people everywhere in the countries involved.
We also heard Mr. Rowlinson, a lawyer representing the steelworkers' union. He said labour rights were the main problem in the agreement. It mentions labour rights, of course, but talks only about basic rights and principles without really getting down to the fact that these rights need to be fostered so that the other party also benefits from the agreement. What it says about labour rights is very simply based on what currently exists. The same is true of environmental rights. They too are based on what currently exists in that country.
Automatically, we think that the mining or oil or gas companies set up there because there are collateral benefits. They have the advantage of a much weaker labour rights base. So it costs them less. The same may be said for environmental rights, and so it costs less to operate mines in these countries.
This gentleman wanted these rights included in the main agreement and not in the side agreements or parallel agreements, which, by their very nature, never meet. They are totally separate and based always on the minimum.
There was also Mr. Cameron, a lawyer who came as an individual and who told us that Peru, like Mexico, was divided into two social classes—the one benefiting directly from these agreements and the bulk of the population, benefiting much less.
I would like to come back to this important principle, as one member has introduced a bill and another a motion to make the mining, gas and oil companies operate more responsibly. If they are aware of the importance of all that, they will understand that they must reject this government's measure and not vote in favour of this implementation act. They must have it set aside so the government can redo its homework. In the meantime, they will be able to get their motion and bill passed, and we will support them in this regard, but not with regard to the free trade agreement with Peru.