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House of Commons Hansard #20 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was colombia.

Topics

Canadian Human Rights CommissionRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I have the honour to table the 2009 annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(e), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Sponsored Travel by MembersRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Pursuant to section 15(3) of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, it is my duty to lay upon the table the list of all sponsored travel by members for the year 2009 as provided by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

Balanced Refugee Reform ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Federal Courts Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in relation to best practices in settlement services.

Air Passengers' Bill of RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition regarding an air passengers' bill of rights.

Thousands of Canadians are calling on Parliament to adopt Canada's first air passengers' bill of rights. Bill C-310 would compensate air passengers on all Canadian carriers, including charters, anywhere they fly.

The bill provides compensation for overbooked flights, cancelled flights and long tarmac delays. The bill deals with issues such as late and misplaced baggage. It requires all-inclusive pricing by airlines on all of their advertising. The airlines would have to inform passengers of flight changes, either delays or cancellations. The new rules would have to be posted at the airports. Airlines would have to inform passengers of their rights and the process to file for compensation. If the airlines followed these rules, it would cost them nothing.

Legislation of this type has been in effect in Europe for five years. Why should an Air Canada passenger be treated better in Europe than in Canada? The petitioners call on the government to support Bill C-310, which would introduce Canada's first air passengers' bill of rights.

Earthquake in ChilePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is signed by Canadians calling on the Canadian government to match funds personally donated by the citizens of Canada for the victims of the earthquake in Chile. On February 27, 2010, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in southern Chile.

Canadian communities have mobilized and have held fundraising events. At least two events have been held in Winnipeg in the last few weeks. When will the Prime Minister and the government give the same treatment to the victims of the earthquake in Chile as was done for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and match funds personally donated by Canadians to help the victims of the earthquake in Chile?

Aboriginal Healing CentresPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I present petitions this morning from hundreds of people across this country, including people from my own riding.

People are very concerned about the move by the government to end funding to the aboriginal healing centres. The petitioners claim that this is not in keeping with the apology that was given by the Prime Minister in the House on the commitment to resources for healing and reconciliation.

Funding will come to an end at the end of this month. There are programs in two aboriginal communities bordering on Sault Ste. Marie where excellent work is going on to help survivors of residential schools. These petitioners, my constituents and people from across the country ask the government passionately to please continue the funding so that this healing can continue.

North Korean RefugeesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition on behalf of over 100 residents of the greater Toronto area, Etobicoke and Mississauga. These people are largely representatives of the Korean community who are concerned about the treatment of North Korean refugees in China. The Chinese government continues to send these refugees from oppression in North Korea back to North Korea when they are found.

The petitioners, citizens of the greater Toronto area, call upon the House of Commons and the Government of Canada to support my Motion No. 383 and vigorously participate in the international effort to urge the Government of the People's Republic of China to ensure the safe passage of North Korean refugees who leave North Korea to South Korea.

Leif Ericsson DayPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, as Canada's second Finnish Canadian MP, I am very proud to rise today to present a petition to honour the voyage of Leif Ericsson and to recognize the contribution of Scandinavian people to Canada.

The petitioners specifically ask for support of former Motion No. 37, and that the government honour the historical voyage made by Leif Ericsson who became the first European to visit North America over a thousand years ago, and recognize the contributions of Scandinavian people from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland to Canada by joining other nations in declaring October 9 as Leif Ericsson day.

The petitioners and I look forward to the government's response.

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition signed by literally thousands of Canadians who call upon the House of Commons to take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known and yet Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters in the world, dumping nearly 200,000 tonnes of asbestos into underdeveloped countries every year.

The petitioners point out that Canada also spends millions of dollars subsidizing the industry and blocking international efforts to curb its use.

The petitioners call upon the government to ban asbestos in all of its forms and institute a just transition program for asbestos workers who may be put out of work and for the communities they live in; to end all government subsidies of asbestos both in Canada and abroad; to stop blocking international conventions, such as the Rotterdam convention, which are designed to protect workers from asbestos; and also, as the United States Senate has done, to recognize April 1 as asbestos disease awareness day.

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning I am presenting a petition signed by more than 670 residents of Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-Rouville, a semi-urban, but primarily rural, community, where the people are worried about the potential closure of their post office. Although the government is trying to reassure us about maintaining the moratorium, this community is very worried about the debate that has been opened on this issue. We know that when the post office is closed in a semi-rural community like this one, the centre and very heart of the community is compromised.

I have the honour to present this petition on behalf of the people of Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-Rouville, in my riding of Chambly—Borduas.

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if you could ask the House for unanimous consent to introduce my private member's bill.

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to revert to the introduction of private members' bills?

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Strategy for Autism Spectrum Disorder ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-504, An Act respecting the establishment of a National Strategy for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the House for giving consent to move this bill forward.

I am pleased to rise in the House to introduce a bill that would provide relief to thousands of Canadians across the country who have loved ones living with autism.

If passed, Bill C-504, An Act respecting the establishment of a National Strategy for Autism Spectrum Disorder, would establish national standards for the treatment and delivery of autism-related services, study the possibility of transferring federal funds to assist provincial governments in providing treatments, establish a medical surveillance program monitored by the Public Health Agency of Canada, and estimate the amount of funding required for health research into treatments and service delivery for autism.

If passed, this bill would bring relief to thousands of Canadian families who have loved ones living with autism.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from March 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-2, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Colombia and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Colombia be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is once again an honour for me to speak about this proposed agreement between the Conservative government and Colombia.

One might initially wonder why anyone would oppose a free trade agreement with a country that could benefit from the economic growth such an agreement could bring. The answer is found in the details of the agreement, of what it does and does not do.

We feel that this discussion should be about fair trade as well as free trade. By definition, fair trade means fully respecting human rights as a precondition for all trade deals.

Tragically, the number of people executed in Colombia for working towards better human rights, particularly labour rights, has now reached the hundreds. These workers are executed in different ways, often by brigades that represent the state in some form or another.

Unfortunately, even though the Bloc Québécois and NDP both feel it is important to oppose this agreement, the Liberals—in keeping with their lack of principles and beliefs in anything—are saying one thing and then the very opposite, just as they did last week in response to a Bloc motion about the Quebec bridge.

We all remember that, instead of saying they wanted Canada to reclaim the Quebec bridge so that repair work could be completed in the interest of public safety, the Liberals said that maybe the government could split the bill with CN. But CN had already committed to doing the work. This is a bold new trend for the Liberals. They do not want to offend anyone. After all, they consider themselves the “natural governing party”. They are just sitting there, biding their time until it is their turn to govern again. It was interesting to hear the Liberal leader say that people are looking for an alternative. The mere fact that he said so suggests that he does not consider himself to be that alternative.

When it comes to issues like the free trade agreement with Colombia, the Bloc and the NDP have the political courage to speak out against an agreement with a country that does not respect human rights. This is a matter of principle, and human rights principles are non-negotiable.

By once again seeking the middle ground, the Liberals are showing their intellectual and moral weakness. Their latest tactic is to ask the government responsible for failing to respect human rights, the Colombian government, to self-assess. Imagine asking students to grade themselves. That is more or less what we are asking Colombia to do.

This agreement is an utter failure when it comes to human rights. Moreover, as a former environment minister, I can say that when it comes to the environment, the proposed agreement with Colombia has the same weakness, the same flaw as the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In the early days of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States was worried that maquiladoras—industrial parks, for want of a better word—would spring up all along the U.S. border. People were worried about poorly paid jobs. After all, that is the purpose of a free trade agreement: to pay workers as little as possible. In other words, because Mexico's environmental standards are inferior to those of the United States, people were worried that American jobs would be outsourced to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards to bring down production costs.

NAFTA was the first agreement in the world to take environmental considerations into account, albeit in a side agreement. As proof that these considerations are not an integral part of the free trade agreement, not a single case has been successfully prosecuted since NAFTA was signed. Nevertheless, this has opened up the possibility of doing better for the future.

What is tragic about this is that instead of learning from NAFTA, we are in the process of making the same mistake again. The wording in the agreement with Colombia has been lifted word for word from NAFTA.

Instead of learning from its mistakes, the Conservative government wants to repeat them. There is only one explanation for this: it does not want any environmental standards to apply to these agreements.

In any case, since the Conservatives came to power, they have been constantly doing things that are detrimental to the environment. In last year's budget, they scrapped the Navigable Waters Protection Act. In the budget implementation bill introduced yesterday, they confirmed their desire to scrap the environmental assessment process in Canada. It is appalling, but once again they are relying on the weakness of the Liberals who last year—it is always worth pointing these things out—sided with the Conservatives to scrap the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

This year, the budget implementation bill will pass because, as usual, enough Liberal members will go and hide behind the curtains to give a de facto majority to the Conservatives, despite their minority status. This is the sad reality in Canada at this time.

This is the Conservatives' fifth budget since coming to power and they are trashing all environmental laws. Not only are they leaving a fiscal and financial debt to future generations, but they are also leaving serious environmental liabilities that only future generations will be able to absorb. However, those future generations will not even have the money to do so because nothing will have been done to build the economy of the future, a green economy where jobs are created and clean and renewable energy infrastructure is established. There is no vision for this. The government only has eyes for the oil sands and that is starting to have devastating effects on our economy. It is therefore not surprising that the Conservatives are prepared to do even more damage with the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

I remember the first time I faced this issue. I was a law student at McGill University in the early 1970s. I was president of the McGill Law Students’ Association and Ralph Nader took part in a debate on multinationals, involving Eric Kierans, Ralph Nader and me. I remember Ralph Nader telling us to be careful because multinationals were becoming more powerful than nation-states. To be perfectly honest, I did not believe him. I thought nation-states were becoming a thing of the past and that the way of the future was globalization. Globalization of values, perhaps; globalization of cultures, perhaps; but when globalization is aimed at just one thing, namely making working people poorer, that is when everyone needs to start asking questions. When globalization seeks the lowest common denominator in terms of the environment and human rights, we must stand up and oppose it.

For that reason, I am pleased that the NDP and the Bloc, the progressive forces, are standing together to stop this agreement with Colombia. For the same reason, I am shocked that a party that has the gall to continue calling itself liberal is trying to find all imaginable and possible excuses to support an agreement that violates the environment and human rights, and that will only impoverish the people, particularly those working in Colombia's agricultural sector. It is inexcusable coming from those who call themselves progressive.

They are unmasked on a regular basis and it is worthwhile, each time, to point out that the Liberal Party of Canada, as Mr. Fowler stated at the weekend conference, has but one thing on its mind: telling people what they want to hear in the hope of being elected. Once elected, it does nothing. That is the sad reality of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Let us see what has happened since NAFTA was signed. The Ethyl Corporation was awarded tens of millions of dollars in damages from the Government of Canada because, in order to protect public health, we prohibited the use of a gasoline additive. Dow Chemical is taking Canada to court. We will be watching to see if Canada decides to defend itself because Quebec has decided to ban 2,4-D. That is tragic because it is a carcinogen. It is in the public's interest to prevent Dow Chemical from using it. However, under this agreement, the government will probably be weaker than Dow Chemical.

It is for such reasons that we must oppose these types of agreements. We in the NDP will stand up and oppose this agreement with Colombia.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, with reference to the political nature that exists within the House, I would ask my colleague to subtract that for just a moment. Instead of the orange, red and blue teams playing a little game with each other, would he specifically respond to how, in this particular agreement, he personally would strengthen the labour agreements within it?

NDP members have mused openly about how they would include this within the text of the particular bill but I would like the member to be more specific. I would ask that he avoid the politics of the situation for just a moment and get to the gist of the matter. If he is claiming that the mistakes we learned from NAFTA should be applied here, could he tell us what those mistakes were? How would he fix this particular agreement when it comes to labour standards?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, when we hear a question like that, it is clear that the person asking the question has not read the agreement.

Believe it or not, there is a provision of up to $15 million for fines on people who kill labour activists. When someone kills a labour activist, they pay a fine. That is what the Liberals are supporting here.

We have obligations in terms of human and environmental rights, and towards future generations. But here we are, signing an agreement with a country that does not respect these rights and that will not respect them. Canada must at least set an example: if a country wants to trade with us, it must prove that it is able to respect human rights. The country cannot simply keep tabs on itself and pay fines when someone kills a labour activist.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thoroughly enjoyed the speech by the member for Outremont. He certainly understands trade issues and is one of the foremost members in the House on trade issues.

I want him to comment on the incredible condemnation across the country of the Liberal backroom deal that has happened in the last few hours. The Liberals tried to spin this self-assessment of the Colombian government but the Council of Canadians is calling this amendment a Liberal sellout on human rights. The Canadian Union of Public Employees is saying that it is unconscionable that the Liberals plan to whitewash this deal. Various other organizations from across the country, such as the Canadian Labour Congress, are saying that the bad bill just gets worse. The British Columbia Teachers' Federation finds it incredible that Liberal MPs have proposed an amendment that would have the same government of Colombia make a report on whether there are human rights violations. The Canadian Auto Workers are calling for an immediate halt, as well as the United Church and the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Nobody agrees with this appalling Liberal sellout of human rights. As Robert Fowler said last weekend, the Liberals are in the process of losing their souls. Could the member for Outremont comment on that?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must take issue with the affirmation that the Liberals would be losing their souls because they do not have them to lose. That point needs to be made to begin with. They have none to lose because they have no principles. They do not believe in anything. The only thing they believe in is power and telling people what they want to hear in the hopes of winning the next election. That was Mr. Fowler's point.

With regard to this deal and the long list that my colleague from British Columbia has just read of groups across Canada that are denouncing the Liberal Party's sellout and its abject failure to stand up for human rights, we should remember the good words of someone else who was at the thinkers conference on the weekend, Eddie Goldenberg, former chief of staff to Jean Chrétien, who had the merit of being one of the only Liberals to ever tell the truth.

In a speech to the London Chamber of Commerce in the spring of 2007, Eddie Goldenberg mentioned, on an issue related to this treaty, that when the Liberals signed the Kyoto protocol they did it “to galvanize public opinion”. It was a public relations stunt. He admitted that they had no plan to respect the timing and the exigencies of the Kyoto protocol. They signed it to get votes and then went on to have the worst record in the world in terms of greenhouse gas production. That is what the Liberal Party is about.

Interestingly enough, once Eddie Goldenberg had finally let the cat out of the bag and told people what was going on—

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am sure the member will want to correct the record. He would not want to infer that any member of the House does not speak the truth. In his statements he referred to all members of a particular political party not speaking the truth. I am sure he wants to correct that record.