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House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

We do not want to do business with Panama because of the Panama Canal. It has nothing to do with that. We want the Canada-Panama agreement to be fair and balanced for workers. That is what we want. We want it to be good for the environment, for Canadians and for Canada's industries. I wonder why the government is so anxious to sign this agreement. Why is it not taking the time to think a little bit about it and make changes to it? We hope that when it goes to committee it will undergo some positive changes that all members of Parliament here today, from both sides of the House, will agree with.

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, the member for Crowfoot talked about this agreement earlier regarding child labour and the supplemental side agreement. If the Conservatives are sincere in their efforts to right human rights, to protect labour laws, why do they not put it into the full agreement instead of a side agreement that has no real value?

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question. Why do the Conservatives not put the contents of the side agreements into the main agreement? I do not know why they do not do that. It makes sense to me and probably makes sense to everyone on this side of the House. It is probably because they are side agreements and they do not have to live up to them if they are broken. That is why they are side agreements. If anything ever happens that is not correct, they do not have to live up to them because they are side agreements. It is as simple as that.

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in the debate on Bill C-46, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Panama and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Panama.

We are debating a motion that was proposed and moved by the member for Hamilton Mountain, the NDP labour critic, to delay consideration of the bill for six months, given the serious problems with it that she outlined in her speech yesterday. We usually call it a hoist motion, and if there has ever been a piece of legislation before the House that deserves to be hoisted off the agenda, it is this bill to implement the trade agreement between Canada and Panama.

Once again, we have before us a bilateral trade agreement that was presented to the House and Canadians with all kinds of claims about how good this will be for Canada and the Canadian people. Sadly, the reality is that in the past these free trade agreements have not done much for either Canadians or for trade.

There is a debate going on about the efficacy of these agreements. Studies are showing that more often than not trade actually declines between countries after bilateral free trade agreements have been signed. This has been shown to be the situation in the United States, with the agreements that it has signed. As champions of this method of improving trade around the world, the Americans will really have to struggle with that research.

The NDP international trade critic explained earlier today that, when we look at the value of Canadian trade in real dollars, factoring in changes in the value of the dollar, this lessening of trade is in many cases true for Canada as well, perhaps with the exception of NAFTA. Canadian trade exports to countries with which we have signed bilateral trade agreements have actually gone down after the agreements have come into effect. Costa Rica is a good example. And generally, there is no clear correlation between increases in exports and these so-called free trade agreements.

In addition, some people are arguing that our trade exports with the United States would have gone up regardless of the NAFTA agreement. Even with NAFTA, the grandpappy of all these agreements, there is some question about how well it did all the things that it promised to do. The benefits of these deals are highly overrated and oversold by the governments that have put them forward to the Canadian people and the House.

The reality is that the situation of Canadians has not improved with the signing of these free trade agreements, starting with NAFTA. Where is the prosperity that was promised every time we heard about one of these agreements? The incomes of the wealthiest 10% of Canadians have increased dramatically since the implementation of the NAFTA agreement, but every other income category in Canada has either stagnated or declined. These deals have not been good for middle-class Canadians. They have been a disaster for low-income and working Canadians.

There is a real problem with bilateral trade agreements, with seeking out specific trade agreements with specific partners around the world. There is also a serious problem with the effect these agreements have on Canadian sovereignty.

We have all heard about chapter 11 of the NAFTA agreement, which allows for the override of the democratic will of Parliament by corporate interests. We know that the same kind of provision is included in the deal we are discussing today. It has been included in other trade deals that have been brought forward since NAFTA, and we know that such a clause amounts to a serious diminution of the sovereignty of Canada. We have to protect our ability to make the laws that we need in order to ensure prosperity and success in our own country.

It would be great if the Conservative government spent as much time and effort promoting Canadian trade as it does in negotiating these questionable free trade agreements. It is remarkable to consider how little Canada spends on promoting Canadian exports around the world, compared with Australia or the European Union. There is probably more bang for our buck in trade promotion than in pursuing these kinds of deals.

Canada-Panama Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member will have 15 minutes when this debate resumes.

Statements by members, the hon. member for Brandon—Souris.

International Peace GardenStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, on September 11, I had the opportunity to visit the one of a kind International Peace Garden south of Boissevain, Manitoba. The occasion marked the official opening of the September 11 memorial, which displays 10 beams from the World Trade Center as a fitting reminder of that infamous day nine years ago.

A new interpretive centre and conservatory was also officially opened on September 11.

The International Peace Garden is a 9.46 square kilometre park located on the border between Canada and the United States. The park was established in 1932 and plants over 150,000 flowers each year. The main features include a 5.5 metre floral clock display, fountains, a chime, and twin 37 metre concrete towers straddling the border with a peace chapel at their base.

The gardens are also home to an international music camp, the carillon bell tower, historic lodge, sunken garden, and the North American Game Warden Museum.

I invite all Canadians to visit this one of a kind place and experience the true meaning of peace.

CCSVI ProcedureStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today in support of continuing clinical trials for the new liberation procedure for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency or CCSVI.

Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating disease, one that has touched many in my community, for example, my colleague from Mississauga East—Cooksville.

The new liberation procedure that has been performed in other countries throughout the world shows that a high percentage of MS sufferers have venous abnormalities.

I ask the government to continue the clinical trials and collect the required evidence that will allow Canadians to receive the CCSVI procedure here in Canada instead of having to travel all over the world to have it done.

Having the procedure done here is very important to the patients and their families.

Blue MarchStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, on Saturday, October 2, a number of my colleagues and I will be proud to attend the Blue March demonstration being held in Quebec City.

Although it is impossible to predict how many people will attend, the fact that over 14,000 people are members of this event on Facebook suggests it will be a great success. A large crowd would send a strong message in favour of building a new arena, which is essential in submitting a bid for the Olympic Games and for the return of a National Hockey League team.

We have been told that a number of former Nordiques players are attending the march including the Stastny brothers, former head coach Michel Bergeron, and Alain Côté, who scored a famous contentious goal.

I invite all hon. members from all parties to attend the march, to listen to the people and to do everything they can to make the dream a reality.

SeniorsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, October 1 marks Canada's first National Seniors Day.

I am pleased to rise today to pay tribute to the seniors in my community and across the country. I am proud to have been visited in Ottawa this week by two of my favourite seniors, Mr. Jack Torgerson and Mrs. Elaine Palm, who are models of grace, kindness, and accomplishment.

Canada's seniors have built the country we are privileged to live in, and they continue to build a better community in Vancouver Kingsway. But we must remember that we have more to do to achieve fairness for our seniors to whom we owe so much.

We must improve pensions for all Canadians and implement the NDP plan to end seniors' poverty. We need more affordable housing to ensure that every senior has a decent home and the means to live independently for as long as they wish. We need a national prescription plan and dental care so seniors can live healthy lives. We have to make sure that our seniors have accessible transportation so they can live active lives. We need smart investments in crime prevention and community safety so seniors can live their lives in security.

Most of all, seniors in Vancouver Kingsway and across Canada deserve our deepest thanks for all they have given us.

Pakistan Flood ReliefStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Madam Speaker, the images of flooded villages and destroyed homes in Pakistan may be vanishing from our TV screens and newspapers, but the need for aid for our sisters and brothers in Pakistan remains great.

Paramedics from GlobalMedic of Mississauga have just returned from Pakistan and have told me that the situation there will get worse before it gets better, because of the effects of water-borne diseases and related issues. Last Sunday, the Canadian Friends of Pakistan held a fundraising event in Mississauga to support the good work that GlobalMedic is doing in Pakistan to aid the flood victims. This coming Saturday, OMNI Television will be hosting a daylong telethon for Pakistan relief assistance.

Our government has provided the world's largest pro-rata contribution to relief efforts for the Pakistan disaster and is matching every contribution made by Canadians on a dollar-for-dollar basis. I am proud to report that the people of Mississauga are responding to this humanitarian need. I would encourage all Canadians to continue to give generously to the many worthy Canadian and international charitable organizations involved in Pakistan flood relief.

Pakistan Flood ReliefStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Madam Speaker, I am proud to recognize the efforts of those in Mississauga who have been working tirelessly over the past few months to raise money and supplies for victims suffering as a result of the devastating floods in Pakistan.

Friend and constituent Haroon Khan and his team, along with the Zafar Sultan Memorial Trust, have sent over 200,000 pounds of supplies and medicines worth $300,000 to Pakistan, which were donated by the residents of Mississauga and Brampton. They shipped these donations free of charge through Pakistan International Airlines, which confirmed that Zafar Sultan Memorial Trust has been the largest collector of supplies for Pakistan in the GTA during the month of September.

I would also like to congratulate the youth of Meadowvale Islamic Centre in Mississauga, with whom I worked to raise $80,000 for flood victims in Pakistan. The funds were donated to the International Development Relief Foundation. I extend a special thanks to Zain and Bilal Haq and Sarah and Hiba Fashih for their inspiration and leadership. They have set a wonderful example of how our youth can make a difference.

Canada-China RelationsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, next month marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and the People's Republic of China.

Our ties are strong in business and education and in cultural exchanges. Bilateral trade is a good example. Currently, China is our second largest source of imports and our third largest source of exports. Today over 1.3 million Canadian residents are of Chinese origin and form one of the largest groups within Canada's multicultural mosaic. Chinese is now Canada's third most spoken language after English and French.

Recently, the approved destination status for Canada marked another positive step in our relationship with China. It will strengthen our diplomatic and commercial ties and, more important, our people-to-people ties, resulting in a win-win situation.

Tomorrow will be the 61st national day of the People's Republic of China. On behalf of Richmond, happy birthday.

International Day of Older PersonsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow will be the 20th time we have celebrated the International Day of Older Persons.

In Quebec, 15% of the population is aged 65 and older. In 20 years, that proportion will exceed 25%.

We must do everything we can to allow our seniors to thrive, stay healthy, feel safe and actively participate in the economic, social, cultural and political spheres of life. We must also tackle the problem of poverty, which affects far too many seniors.

When FADOQ called on the government to increase the GIS by $110 a month, the government replied that it had already done all it could for seniors and refused to even meet with that organization. Yet ensuring that all retired people have a decent standard of living is a matter of justice and dignity.

Let us take the time today to recognize the key role our seniors play in modern society, and promise to defend their rights and help them enjoy full and rewarding lives.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition continues to repeat that that his main priority with regard to employment insurance reform is instituting a 45-day work year. He has even threatened to trigger an election over this issue.

Yesterday, when the 45-day work year included in Bill C-308 was put to a vote, his employment critic, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, voted for it, as did other Liberal members.

If the bill were implemented, it would cost Canadians at least $7 billion and increase premiums by at least 35% permanently. Just like all the other Liberal tax hikes, it would kill employment and bring our fragile economic recovery to a halt.

Our Conservative government is doing everything it can to get Canadians back to work and to leave more money in their wallets. The Liberal leader's main concern is to spend irresponsibly, which —

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Mississauga South

Retirement of Blue Jays ManagerStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, last night at the Toronto Rogers Centre tribute was quite rightly paid to Clarence Edwin Cito Gaston.

The outpouring of love and respect from baseball players and fans alike was overwhelming. Cito joined the Blue Jays in 1982 and over the ensuing years earned the reputation as a class act, a gentleman and a quiet leader. One player reminded the audience that Cito always preached family first, making sure that players understood that baseball careers are short, and that someday they would need a tight family to go back to. Cito had four rules: be on time, play hard, family first, and do not forget that the door to the manager's office is always open.

He managed the Blue Jays for 12 seasons. We will not forget the remarkable baseball seasons of 1992 and 1993 when they won back-to-back World Series. His calm, good-humoured, and confident management style has been the hallmark of his career and has left a legacy of decency, great teams, and wonderful achievements.

Today we recognize his outstanding career and wish him much success in his retirement.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, this government is standing up for hard-working Canadians. Today, the Minister of Finance took action to limit future increases to EI premiums.

To help maintain the momentum of Canada's ongoing economic recovery, our government will reduce the recommended EI rate increase by two-thirds. When every dollar counts to individuals and families, nationally it will amount to $1.2 billion back into the pockets of workers and job creators. The government will also consult with Canadians about ways to build upon the improvements we have already introduced to the EI system.

Unlike the opposition, our government is listening and acting upon the concerns of small business to protect Canadian jobs in this time of fragile recovery. The bottom line for our government is that, for recovery to continue, we need to support job creators and keep taxes low.

What would the Liberals do? They would bring forward tax hikes and kill 400,000 jobs.

SeniorsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the summer, I listened to seniors in my riding and from across the country and here is what they told me: first, we must ensure that old age security payments never again go two years without a cost of living increase; second, we must stop the clawback of GIS when there is a cost of living increase to CPP; and third, we must do something to bring down the cost of medications.

To deal with those issues, New Democrats have tabled a number of proposals.

First, we propose to increase the GIS enough so that no senior lives in poverty.

Second, I tabled Bill C-564, my seniors' CPI act. This bill would create a CPI measure based upon the purchases that seniors actually make, rather than the one currently used, which is an average of the purchases of all Canadians.

Soon our health critic, the member for Halifax, will roll out her national affordable medications proposals.

Seniors have been telling me that they feel invisible in this country. I want to tell seniors today that they are not invisible to New Democrats.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, just hours ago, our finance minister announced that the Government of Canada has taken further action to support Canada's economic recovery.

As part of our economic action plan and to support Canadian workers and businesses, EI rates were frozen at 2008 levels. Today, our government has acted by reducing the recommended EI rate increase by two-thirds. By doing so, this government is helping to maintain the momentum in Canada's ongoing economic recovery.

What we will not do is implement a reckless coalition motion for a job-killing, 45-day work year that would have cost us an estimated $6.6 billion a year. That opposition motion was narrowly defeated just yesterday.

We can all be proud of Canada's economic performance through a challenging recession but the recovery is fragile.

Today's decision will be welcome for workers and businesses alike. It will put money back in the pockets of Canadian families and its employers, and help drive our economic recovery.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, during yesterday's vote on the bill to increase accessibility to employment insurance and its benefits, the Conservatives and Liberals turned their backs on the unemployed.

The Liberals' decision was all the more shocking because, until yesterday, they had supported our initiative. The Liberals, with their about-face, demonstrated their indifference and lack of concern for workers who are losing their jobs while the economy is slowly recovering from the recession.

And to add insult to injury, the leader of the Liberal Party went so far as to say that Bill C-308 was going nowhere. Yet, not that long ago, he was openly supporting it.

Given that unions and groups of unemployed workers agree with our initiative, how can the leader of the Liberal Party justify his about-face and flagrant lack of consistency?

It is undoubtedly clear that the Bloc Québécois is still the only party in Quebec that is listening to workers.

Firearms RegistryStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the significant work of two great Canadians: Chief Bill Blair, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police; and Dr. Wendy Cukier, president of the Coalition for Gun Control.

Chief Blair and Dr. Cukier provided the House public safety committee with invaluable information and statistics about the use of the federal long gun registry, which helped to inform Parliament and Canadians on this important matter of public safety.

Our country is very lucky to have people like Wendy Cukier and Toronto's police chief, Bill Blair. It is because of their efforts that we were able to maintain the gun registry.

Thanks to their dedication, we were able to save the long gun registry.

On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I would like to thank Police Chief Bill Blair and Dr. Wendy Cukier for their work.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader proved yet again yesterday that he does not care about the wallets of Canadian families.

He admitted that the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition's EI plans were “fiscally irresponsible” and yet he did not vote against them, nor did the vast majority of his caucus. In fact, his EI spokesperson, the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, voted for the expensive program.

It is proof that the Liberal leader remains committed to implementing a costly and irresponsible 45-day work year.

The coalition's EI plan would cost $7 billion, increase EI premiums permanently by a whopping 35% and would harm our fragile economic recovery.

The difference is clear. While our government is focused on getting Canadians working and putting more money in their wallets, the Liberal leader's main concern continues to be a wild spending spree that would cost Canadian families and small businesses at a time when they can least afford it.

Joseph SimonatoStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Independent

Helena Guergis Independent Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with a heavy heart to recognize Joseph Simonato, affectionately known as Chic, who passed away on Monday, September 20, at the age of 87.

He was born in Collingwood and served with the Toronto Scottish Regiment during World War II. On June 6, 1944, Chic was part of the second wave of troops that stormed the beaches of Normandy, and in 1945 he was wounded in battle.

Chic was one of the founding members of the Collingwood Lawn Bowling Club. He played a vital role in establishing the Veterans' Wall of Honour in Collingwood that lists the names and units of more than 520 veterans. He authored a book giving a brief history of each unit, and championed the restoration of the Collingwood cenotaph. He received the Order of Collingwood, the Companion Order of Collingwood and, in 2010, he received the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation.

Our prayers go out to Mary-Lou, Chic's loving wife, and his family and friends. We will all miss him dearly. I am honoured to have called this patriotic gentleman my friend.

The EconomyOral Questions

September 30th, 2010 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian economy not only stalled this summer, it began to shrink. Manufacturing, retail, wholesale, construction, forestry, housing, consumer spending and exports were all down. The one thing going up: the Conservative deficit. Still, the government blows $16 billion on stealth aircraft with no job guarantees, $10 billion on prisons for unreported crime and $6 billion for extra corporate tax cuts on borrowed money.

Why such bad choices? Why so out of touch with ordinary Canadian families?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, obviously, as we have said, the global recovery remains fragile. That said, Canada's economic performance remains far better than most. Employment is growing and the deficit is going down this year.

However, I am surprised, because I would have thought the hon. member would have stood to congratulate the government on the decision announced today on EI premiums that has been praised. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said:

We are pleased to see the government take a major step on this critically important issue to help lessen the impact on small businesses and thereby the economy overall.

The Chamber of Commerce noted that we are saving $1 billion for Canadian companies.