Madam Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. There has been a new wave of anti-union repression in Panama. This is hardly a good time to be implementing a free trade deal when a situation like that is developing in that country. Several workers were killed. Over 100 were injured and over 300 were arrested, including leaders of the trade unions.
We are considering this at a time when trade with Panama is actually very small. We only have $132 million in trade with Panama. Even if we were not to proceed with a free trade deal, this trade would not go away. There has been some suggestion on the part of the government that somehow if we do not sign a free trade deal with Panama or any other country that we will stop trading with them. That is not going to happen. There has been trade with Panama for many years and we will continue to trade with Panama for many years with or without the free trade deal.
Let us not put the cart in front of the horse. Let us get the tax avoidance agreement signed with Panama while we still have some clout. Eight other countries have signed agreements, including France. France received compliance from Panama. Why can we not do the same thing? I would ask the Prime Minister to pause a bit, to follow in France's footsteps, and maybe in the whole area of tax havens.
I want to ask the government about its arrears situation in GST and income tax, corporate taxes, and other kinds of taxes that it may be a little slow to collect from some people. The fact of the matter is that the government could collect a lot of this money if it followed what France did when it formulated its black list.