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House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Statements by MembersPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank all the hon. members who participated in this debate this afternoon.

I want to say that I have given warnings previously about statements by members.

I suggested that hon. members should avoid making statements about other members, and should certainly refrain from making personal attacks. In my opinion, we have had some that were very close to crossing that line. I can perhaps intervene more often, but I hope that after the discussions in the House today, all hon. members will take note of what has happened.

I will review the statements made by the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.

I will review his complaints. If there is a problem, I will come back to the House. Otherwise, as suggested by the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, I hope that we can have fewer personal attacks and fewer attacks against other parties, especially during S.O. 31 statements.

I urge hon. members to discuss topics that are important to them.

I also have notice of a point of order from the hon. member for Churchill arising out of statements by members.

Statements by MembersPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, during my statement earlier today there was an incredible amount of commotion. As a result, even members sitting directly next to me and around me could not hear what I had to say.

My right to be heard by Canadians and members of the House were abridged. I would hope that, in the future, members' ability to be heard, not only in the House but by Canadians, will be respected and ensured.

Statements by MembersPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am sure it will be. I could hear the hon. member and will look at the television version. I suspect it could be heard on television as well, so, in that sense, I think it was probably all right. Had I not been able to hear, I would have stood up and interrupted. There was a lot of noise, I agree, but I could hear the hon. member.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, during question period, the Minister of International Cooperation said that she had read the 1994 Cairo action plan on population and development. I wonder if she could please table it in its entirety so that Canadians can see what in fact she left out in her remarks.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

She did not refer to the document or read from the document so she is not required to table it, but I am sure the minister will bear in mind the hon. member's comment and, if she wishes to table the document, she is free to do so at any time.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(b) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to one petition.

Copyright Modernization ActRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Copyright Act.

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

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 2nd, 2010 / 3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on International Trade in relation to 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.

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, concerning its study of Bill C-309, An Act establishing the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Region of Northern Ontario. The committee requests an extension of 30 days to be able to properly study the bill.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, in relation to its study of Bill C-393, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

The committee requests a 30-day extension in order to give the bill proper consideration and to hear all witnesses who wish to appear.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

With respect to both reports tabled by the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(3)(a) a motion to concur in the report is deemed moved, the question deemed put and a recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Wednesday, June 9, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Canada Transportation ActRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-523, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act (accessibility in transportation).

Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell members how proud and honoured I am to introduce this bill.

I would like to begin by thanking my colleague, the member Western Arctic, who is the NDP transportation critic.

In introducing this bill, I also wish to recognize and pay tribute to Winnipeg High School student, Sam Unrau, who was the winner of the Winnipeg Centre “Create your Canada” contest. This contest invited Winnipeg High School students to submit their ideas for a private member's bill to make Canada a better place to live.

Sam's thoughtful proposal comes from his personal experience as a person with spina bifida, confined to a wheelchair, and those of his friends and colleagues with disabilities, so that people with all levels of physical ability can travel in Canada with more dignity.

The bill itself requires the Minister of Transport to direct the Canadian Transportation Agency to conduct an accessibility audit of all forms of transportation under federal jurisdiction in order to remove any undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities and to improve their ability to travel in this country.

This bill coincides with Manitoba's week for persons with disabilities access issues. It also, I note, coincides with the recent move of Canada to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. All of these things combine together to make this a very worthy initiative.

Congratulations to my student from Winnipeg, Sam Unrau.

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

Survivor's Annual Allowance ActRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-524, An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act, the Judges Act, the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act, the Public Service Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act.

Mr. Speaker, first, I wish to thank Helen Rapp, a veteran of our country who unfortunately had lost a loved one and now has been blessed to remarry.

Can members imagine if any of us lost our loved ones and we remarried, for example, at age 58 and lived for 20 years, our second spouse would be entitled to our superannuation pension, but if we had the audacity to remarry after age 60 and lived for 20 years and passed on, our second spouse would receive no pension or health benefits?

Those days are now over. It should not matter that the heroes of our country, our veterans, our military personnel, and many of those who serve our country in the public service, should be restricted this way. When they get married or when they find someone to share a life with, they should not be restricted when they pass on as to whether their surviving spouse should be able to be entitled to pension and health benefits. This is a bill that would end that discrimination immediately.

We encourage all members of Parliament, especially in the government, to adopt this resolution as soon as possible so that all those people out there who find love a second time and remarry or have a permanent partner would know that when they pass on their second spouse is not immediately put into poverty but has financial dignity, as well as health benefits.

That is why I have introduced this legislation and would encourage fast resolution of this bill.

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

Survivor's Annual Allowance ActRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, May 28, in Lahore, Pakistan, as members of the Ahmadiyya community gathered for Friday prayers, they came under a deadly coordinated attack at two of their mosques: the Baitul Nur mosque in Model Town and the Darul Zikr mosque in Gharishaw.

Peace, security and the ability to practice one's faith are basic human rights.

Therefore, I am seeking unanimous consent to the following motion, which is seconded by the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor. I move that the House condemn the violent attacks on Ahmadiyya Muslim worshippers who were attending Friday prayers in Lahore, Pakistan, urge the government of Pakistan to bring to justice all those involved in perpetrating these barbaric acts, and work to ensure that all Pakistanis can worship in peace and safety.

Survivor's Annual Allowance ActRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Scarborough—Agincourt have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Survivor's Annual Allowance ActRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Survivor's Annual Allowance ActRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

There is no consent.

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I move that the first report of the Standing Committee on International Trade, presented on Wednesday, May 26, 2010, be concurred in.

Changing gears a little bit, I am pleased to rise to move the concurrence motion on the report emanating from the international trade committee from just about a week ago.

I should mention that all members of the trade committee worked very thoroughly to examine the provisions of the buy American act and the government's response to this that is contained within the Canada-United States agreement on government procurement.

This is a little bit different from generally how the trade committee is involved, as you well know, Mr. Speaker, looking back at precedents, for example, the softwood lumber agreement; the EFTA agreement, sometimes referred to as the shipbuilding sellout; and the Canada-Colombia agreement that many people consider very controversial as a human rights sellout.

In all these cases the committee has had the opportunity, at least in part, to have hearings and hear witnesses before the implementation of these agreements. That is the important role that the trade committee plays.

It does not necessarily mean that all parties around the committee table follow the advice that witnesses clearly give them. If that were the case, the softwood lumber agreement or the softwood lumber sellout would never have been implemented in the first place.

However in this case, with the Canada-U.S. agreement on government procurement we, as a committee, were examining, after the implementation of the agreement, the benefits and certainly any of the potential negative impacts as well of that agreement.

Therefore, this is an important role that the committee has played. The committee members worked diligently to recover from witnesses exactly to what extent this agreement might have been beneficial or not beneficial for Canadians. It is important to note that the report that is produced and the recommendations that I will enumerate in a few moments are something that has been subject to a dissenting opinion of the Conservative Party.

Very clearly, I think it is fair to say that the findings that the international trade committee found, the evidence that was given by witnesses, is something that the Conservative Party and the Conservative members of the committee have found difficult.

Understandably, the government has already signed and implemented the agreement. I can understand that the Conservative members found themselves in a very difficult position because the witnesses presented evidence that might clearly show that there were concerns around the agreement. The initial news and initial information made available by the government, let us just say this, once we delve into the heart of the agreement, was not necessarily the facts in the case.

I will start of by speaking a bit about the background. Initially, we had buy American provisions in the American reinvestment and recovery act of 2009. This was an act that was presented in the U.S. Congress, which followed the election that took place in 2008 and the inauguration of a new administration in 2009. During that election campaign in 2008 there was much issue of the loss of jobs that had taken place in the United States under NAFTA.

Most Americans are earning less and what has happened is a funnelling up of income to the wealthiest 5% according to Foreign Affairs magazine. These are Bush administration officials who actually spoke to this issue. We have actually seen a redistribution of income upwards.

Because of that, Americans found that they wanted to have another look at NAFTA, voted for Barack Obama and a new administration that would take a different approach.

Therefore, this is not a surprise to Canadians who followed the American election. Very clearly, there has been a shift away from what many consider to be the right wing rhetoric of the past Bush administration.

Of course, in Canada we have had the same funnelling up of income. Most Canadians are earning less over the last 20 years. That is a policy issue, an economic issue, that all members of the House have to contend with. Most Canadians have actually seen their incomes fall over the last 20 years.

We hear figures cited in the House that simply do not take into account the devalued purchasing power of a dollar over time. We can try to say that in current dollars income has grown, or in current dollars exports have grown, but we have to compare apples to apples. In that case, it means dealing with constant dollars, and as I will come to in a moment, that means exports have fallen in a number of areas. It also means, when we compare constant dollars, that most Canadians earn less. That is a fundamental issue.

The buy American program was brought forward by the administration and new members of Congress. It was debated during the United States election. This is not the first time this has happened. The buy American act came into force back in 1933. It was the buy American provisions that helped lift the United States out of the depression.

In an ideological vent people will say that it was not that, that it was a variety of other things. Very prominent economists have been clear that the buy American provisions and the provisions of the new deal helped to lift the United States out of the depression. That has been a fundamental part of policy for some time. That has led to other acts, such as the Jones act, which protected the shipbuilding industry in the United States.

As the buy American act worked its way through Congress, some Canadians spoke out about it. This issue continues to be a constant problem. In this corner of the House we have addressed it by bringing forward solid legislation, but we have had nothing with which to bargain. There are no similar buy Canadian acts in place.

Subsequent to that the Conservative government entered into negotiations and the result was the Canada-United States agreement on government procurement. The questions the committee was examining what Canada gave up and what Canada obtained.

In the first case, we managed to obtain, on a temporary basis, access to a number of programs administered by the American recovery and new investment act of 2009 in seven key areas. As mentioned in the report, those programs are the United States department of agriculture, the USDA rural housing service, the United States department of energy, both the office of energy efficiency and conservation block grants and also the state energy program, the U.S. department of housing and urban development, the office of community, planning and development, both the community development block grants recovery and the public housing capital fund, and the U.S. environmental protection agency, clean water and drinking water state revolving funds.

Ironically, it turned out that these projects had already been allocated funding out of the ARRA funds, but the government managed to obtain the reallocation of those funds. Subject to contracts signed after February 17, Canadians could access those funds. We are talking about seven program areas. In a number of cases the allocation of funding had already taken place.

What did we give up? We gave up agreeing to provide U.S. companies with enhanced access to procurement of construction services by numerous provincial and territorial government agencies, crown corporations and municipalities until September 2011. As with Canada's permanent commitments outlined earlier, specific government bodies to which these temporary commitments apply vary from one province or territory to the next. The threshold of $8.5 million in Canada's WTO TPA commitments also applies to these enhanced access commitments.

We have a situation where we have gained access in some areas, some of which had their funds already allocated. On the other hand, we gave up fairly substantial access, temporarily until September 2011, but substantial nonetheless.

The question then is what the witnesses had to say, the people who brought forward by the committee to examine the benefits and disadvantages of this agreement.

I will read a couple of pages from the report. It is important that members of the House understand, after the committee members sat through these hearings.

We heard from several witnesses that the expected gains from Canada's partial exemption, the U.S. domestic content requirements in the ARRA, the American recovery and reinvestment act, are likely to be small. Not only have the vast majority of ARRA procurement funds already been dispersed, but the Canada-U.S. AGP opens to Canadian companies only a small fraction of what remains. I think that becomes obvious when we look at the small number of programs to which we actually gained access.

The committee heard numerous and differing estimates concerning the value of contract opportunities available to Canadian businesses as a consequence of the temporary commitments in the AGP.

A noted trade analyst, Scott Sinclair noted that of the United States $275 billion in procurement funds contained in the recovery act, the total budget for the seven programs to which Canada had secured an exemption was U.S. $18 billion. We are talking about considerably less than 10%. He also went on to say that, as of December 31, 2009, two-thirds of those funds had already been allocated.

This was his comment:

Canadian suppliers will therefore have an opportunity to compete for no more than an estimated $6 billion U.S. of federally funded stimulus projects, representing just 2% of the procurement funded under the recovery act. The rest falls outside the scope of this agreement.

We gained access to 2% of the procurement funding under the recovery act. That is a fundamental issue that I will come back to later.

Another witness, who is a trade lawyer with a very strong reputation in the community, is Steven Shrybman. He stated that even this figure was a generous estimate because it did not take into account all of the other carve-outs and exclusions in U.S. procurement rules to which Canada did not receive an exemption.

In his submission to the committee, Mr. Shrybman observed that under the Canada-U.S. AGP, the United States offsets, set-asides and local preferences remained in place. In other words, provisions were made to help support American industries, provisions that Canada does not have, and I will come back to that as I had mentioned, most of which were established at the state and local levels.

Mr. Shrybman noted that this meant that while the U.S. had agreed to remove domestic purchasing requirements as a condition under those seven federal programs, which I mentioned, it did not commit to have state and local governments remove their own barriers to Canadian bids on the very projects funding the seven listed programs.

This was a concern that was raised. As a result of that, the committee also heard that officials from Quebec department of economic development had estimated the total value of unallocated funds under the seven programs listed above to be $1.3 billion.

We have gone from the $275 billion of the total program to an exemption on a budget envelope of $18 billion of which two-thirds had already been allocated. That leaves $6 billion, but then when the offsets, set-asides and local preferences that remain in place are included, we come down to $1.3 billion. In other words, the government spin about this being access to a $275 billion project turns out to be less than 0.3% of that overall figure. It is outrageous.

There have been a lot of comments about the billion dollar boondoggle around the G8 and the G20, but we have a situation where we went in to try to negotiate $275 billion and came out with $1 billion. That is just access, it is not even contracts. This means Canadian companies, if possible, can bid on 0.3% of the overall American reinvestment and recovery act. Any Canadian would say that this is bad negotiating.

Carl Grenier said that this was the second worst agreement he had ever seen Canada sign. Carl Grenier, being the expert on the trade and softwood lumber file, said that the worst we had ever signed was the softwood lumber sellout. We all know in this case, following committee hearings, that the Conservative government knew it would cause a complete meltdown of the softwood lumber agreement. Tragically, in this case we are finding out after the fact that it was not $275 billion we access, but a potential in contracts of $1.3 billion and that is only if the system works.

Opponents of the AGP also argued that Canada's modest improvement in access to this procurement came at a great cost, and this is a key issue. We gained access to a $1 billion procurement market, possibly. How much did we give up?

Guy Caron of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union suggested that Canada gave U.S. firms the opportunity to bid until September 2011 on provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure and construction procurement worth an estimated $25 billion compared to the 2% of procurement funds still available. We have had other sources estimating the value of procurement to be closer to $33 billion.

What did we give up? Some $25 to $33 billion. The government is not quite sure how much because unfortunately it did not do its homework and the due diligence prior to signing this agreement. How much did we obtain? Access to about $1 billion.

In my province of British Columbia we are the “show me” province. That is why folks have reacted so strongly to the HST. It is not in the report, but we can only just put this out that this is crummy negotiating. This negotiating is embarrassingly bad when we give up that much in procurement and gain that little.

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

We've been there.

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Yes, we have certainly seen this as the member for Nickel Belt comments. We have seen this in a variety of other areas.

We have seen the problems that exist in this. We have very clear comments from witnesses saying that what we have done is given up so much and obtained very little. We also had testimony from the B.C. building trades, Wayne Peppard, who noted:

Many municipal procurement policies contain procurement provisions on quality, qualifications, training, safety, employment standards and, in some instances, fair wage and living wage policies. These social and legal commitments now stand to be challenged.

Union agreements that provide for local hiring or contracting-out language may be at risk.

There is no doubt about the fact that we have a fundamentally flawed agreement when we look at how much we have given up and how much we have obtained. It is obvious that the work of the trade committee has helped to expose how unbalanced things are.

There is a series of recommendations that talk about the due diligence, doing that work beforehand, that we have to continue to monitor this agreement right through to see whether even that $1 billion market is accessed. How much we end up giving up, how many jobs are cost, we need to do that ongoing procurement.

What is mentioned in the recommendations is also the issue that we need to have data collection. That data simply was not available. Witnesses were able to finally bring it together through their own knowledge, but we did not receive any real information from the ministry or from the government. We should also be looking to seek exemptions in such sectors as steel and other highly integrated sectors of the Canadian economy.

Finally, what we have said in our supplementary opinion to this report is that we need a buy Canadian plan. This helps give us leverage to negotiate the agreements that actually do bring jobs to Canada.

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, clearly the government gives away the store in its negotiating. This is the same government that negotiated the Canada-Colombia free trade deal. It seems that every negotiation it gets involved with it ends up on the losing end of it.

I believe this program is largely over, and there was not a huge amount left while the negotiations were progressing. Would the member explain to us once again how much was given up in this process?

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Elmwood—Transcona is the leading speaker in this House of Commons, and it is because he is raising intelligent questions like that on a constant and ongoing basis. He ably fills the shoes of another member for Elmwood—Transcona, the hon. Bill Blaikie, who left this House last year. Mr. Blaikie was always front and centre in this House of Commons, and the member for Elmwood—Transcona is carrying on that heritage.

The question of what has been given up is a very good one. As I mentioned earlier, the dollar figure of what we obtained access to is only theoretical, because there is no enforcement mechanism within this agreement. Theoretically we have gained access to $1 billion, and in a very real sense, because the United States has enforcement mechanisms on the other side, which is another reason why this agreement is so imbalanced, we are giving up access to, depending on how we estimate the total figures, somewhere between $25 billion and $33 billion. There is a very clear inequity.

To add to that, we have given up the ability to have procurement policies at the municipal and provincial levels that help to stimulate Canadian jobs. That is a fundamental problem.

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read a sentence here and have the hon. member comment on it:

In acknowledgement of the concerns raised by Canada and others, the ARRA also states that its “Buy American” conditions must be consistent with the commitments made in international trade agreements signed by the United States. However, as Jean-Michel Laurin (Vice President, Global Business Policy, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters) observed, the promise to abide by international trade agreements was of little comfort to Canadian businesses....

I would like the hon. member to comment on this statement, please.

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Nickel Belt is another member whom we have on the floor who contributes vastly to the debate. We have a pretty phenomenal team in this corner of the House, the hard-working New Democrats who are working to really advance Canadian jobs and ensure that Canada has the negotiating clout to negotiate effective agreements.

Unfortunately, we have not yet seen from the government the ability to negotiate effectively. As Carl Grenier, a trade expert, said, when we go to negotiate at any cost, essentially what that results in is the type of agreement where we give up a lot more than we get, and this is very clearly the case here.

We had witnesses who spoke very clearly about a buy Canadian policy. They referenced Toronto and its Canadian content requirement, which allowed, in a significant public purchase, a sizable share of economic benefits to come back to Canadians.

We also had a number of comments about the fact that the United States believes in using public money, money that belongs to taxpayers, to stimulate jobs in its own domestic economy. Steven Shrybman, a public interest lawyer who is well-known in Toronto, said the following:

I think the United States understands that spending public money to create public goods is also a reasonable way to make jobs. I don't think U.S. states are going to give up that prerogative.

That indeed is the issue.

Getting back to the member's question, the issue is simply that the buy American program of the United States under the Jones Act is actually something that is allowable under WTO rules. So it is simply false to pretend that a buy Canadian program would not be within that framework of the WTO.

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:15 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, my constituents in Thunder Bay—Rainy River and I know very well the value of procuring things from people in the area who make them. I have always been of the belief that if Ontario taxpayers, for example, are going to be paying for a product to be used in Ontario and it can be built in Ontario, it seems to me that there should be a procurement policy to make sure that happens. I am thinking in particular right now of Bombardier streetcars, which are made right in Thunder Bay. If they are intended to go to Toronto, it seems to me that we should be doing everything in our power to make that happen. This is far from being protectionist.

I would like to ask the hon. member this. In light of Spain's comments today that procurement is one of the problems it is having now with the Canada-EU trade agreement, I wonder if our member would be interested in commenting on why it is so difficult to convince people that we need to procure things that are going to help the most people in the most communities.

International TradeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was in Thunder Bay just last Friday night. I know how hard the member works in the House of Commons. He is a real workhorse. Being in Thunder Bay, I was aware how hard working and visible he is for his constituents in his riding, speaking on their behalf and presenting legislation. He is another phenomenal member, along with the members for Elmwood—Transcona and Nickel Belt who do a tremendous job in the House.

The point that he raises is a very valid one. Every other industrialized economy has domestic procurement programs. It is only Canada that is caught in this old-time, 20-year-old rhetoric that attacks the idea of procurement and the use of taxpayers' money to stimulate domestic and community economies. It is only here that we do not have a domestic procurement program that makes sense and actually stimulates jobs.

Thunder Bay is one area where it has worked. Toronto is another. Where municipal and procurement programs exist, there has been an enormous benefit from using taxpayers' dollars to stimulate the economic development of the communities. It is something that is permissible under WTO rules; other countries use it. There is no doubt that it provides that benefit.

In this corner of the House, we have been the foremost advocates of buy-Canadian policies that would also allow us the leverage to negotiate the kinds of exemptions that would have been more effective than what the government was able to come up with. We have been the foremost advocates of those. We are still working on convincing members of other parties, but the reality is that if we had that leverage, we would have had a better agreement than what we were seized with in the international trade committee.

The trade committee report very clearly indicates there were real shortcomings in both the negotiating strategy and the results obtained through this agreement. That is why the majority of the committee members submitted the report with strong recommendations and looked very carefully at the due diligence aspect, in particular, ensuring that government actually works on the data; assesses the agreement's impact; ensures that information is collected; and ensures, depending on the estimates, as the Quebec ministry officials said, that there is real access to the $1.3 billion in contracts. That is something we will have to see.

Those five recommendations very clearly say there needs to be more consultation, more exchange of information, and due diligence to collect the data and monitor this agreement on an ongoing basis.