House of Commons Hansard #186 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nations.

Topics

First Nations Financial Transparency ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #514

First Nations Financial Transparency ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

First Nations Financial Transparency ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 5:56 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

moved that Bill C-370, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada), be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise tonight to open third reading debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-370, an act to change the name of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands National Park.

I want to begin my comments by thanking members on both sides of the House for their participation in these debates and their support of the bill. I would also like to thank the witnesses who came to Ottawa on short notice last month to appear before the committee. For those who were unable to attend the committee meeting, I would point out that Kim St. Claire appeared on behalf of Parks Canada and explained how the bill would benefit the park. Don Ross, currently the executive director of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, noted how this name change was first proposed back in the 1970s when he was working for Parks Canada. Tom Russell, the executive director of the Thousand Islands Community Futures Development Corporation, spent his time explaining how businesses in the region use and benefit from the Thousand Islands name. He also noted the reliance of my region, where this park is located, on the hospitality sector. I appreciate the contribution of three of these folks to the discussion of the bill at committee. Their input was invaluable.

Among the issues discussed at committee were answers to questions that have been raised here about the bill. The first concern expressed was about the consultation. As Mr. Ross noted at committee, the consultation process for this name change began in the early 1970s but that it unfortunately did not proceed beyond the region itself. At the time, however, the consensus was that the park's name should be changed to Thousands Islands National Park.

My own consultation process on the bill dates back several years when I first heard from municipal councils in the region, as well as chambers of commerce and other concerned groups, that they would like to see the name change occur as quickly as possible.

Parks Canada also conducted a consultation that met with the same result from the public and other interested and concerned parties.

After the discussion that had taken place in the 1970s, many people in the region began referring to the park as the Thousand Islands National Park. There is no doubt that the name change is supported throughout the region.

The other issue that was raised was the cost involved in the name change. Ms. St. Claire addressed this in her remarks at committee. While a firm final figure has not been produced for acceptable reasons, Parks Canada put a ballpark figure of about $100,000 for the change. This would be spent over an approximately 10-year period, which is one reason the exact cost is really hard to pinpoint. The other reason the cost is hard to nail down is that much of the changes would be accomplished as part of regular maintenance.

Let me explain what has to be done. Parks Canada would have to change a few signs on Highway 401 and on the Thousand Islands Parkway that direct people to the park. This would have to be undertaken almost immediately. These signs are slat signs, so only the actual name portion would have to be changed. It is possible that an inexpensive cover could be made for these signs until such a time as they require replacement with new signs.

Websites would have to be changed at a minimal cost. Letterhead, business cards and envelopes would be changed as they run out of current stock.

Sign boards at Parks Canada property would also be changed as part of the normal maintenance regime. In other words, as signs weather and wear out they would be replaced by new signs with the new name. This part of the change would actually be part of regular maintenance that would be undertaken with or without the name change, so although the name would be changed, the signs would in any case be replaced over a 10-year period. Ms. St. Claire indicated at committee that Parks Canada is actually looking forward to the exercise because it would give them an opportunity to take a sign inventory that is overdue at the park.

After all this time and all the discussion and efforts over the years to try to rename this park with a name better suited to its location, now is the time to act.

As I and others have mentioned in previous discussions here, the park is in a truly unique area of Canada. It is at the crossroads of the natural and cultural history of North America. Its natural assets have been recognized in the greater region that has the UNESCO world heritage designation. The park is located within the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve. It was a cultural crossroad as the North American continent was opened up by natives, adventurers, fur traders, explorers, settlers and merchants.

The St. Lawrence Islands National Park was established in 1904 as the first Canadian national park east of the Rocky Mountains. Located in the heart of the Thousand Islands area, it is an 80-kilometre wide extension of granite hilltops, which join the Canadian Shield of northern Ontario with the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. Glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago, scraping sediments and exposing the rounded knobs of an ancient mountain chain. When the St. Lawrence River flooded the area on its path to the Atlantic Ocean, over 1,000 hilltops became the Thousand Islands.

The area retains a rugged beauty. Plants and animals migrated to the area, encouraged by the moderating effects of the Great Lakes and the variety of micro-habitats, which were created by the rugged topography.

The islands form a land bridge from northwest to southeast across the St. Lawrence River, aiding movement of species through the area.

This narrow isthmus, known as the Frontenac Axis or Arch, is the vital link joining two important North American landforms, the Canadian Shield and the Adirondack Mountains, to form one ecosystem.

Although the waters of the Great Lakes can be a barrier to migrating flora and fauna, the St. Lawrence funnels the water into a narrow channel and the islands form stepping stones, shortening distances between the land masses.

The presence of the Great Lakes to the west has the effect of a heat sink, which moderates the climate in the area immediately surrounding the Thousand Islands. As a result, many plants and animals reach the northern or southern limits of their range in the Thousand Islands.

The river also funnelled people coming from the Atlantic to the interior of North America through the islands. Native people, explorers and settlers have left their mark on the region and the islands. Enough native artifacts have been located to prompt a mandatory search each time waterfront is developed.

Battles have taken place among the islands, especially during the War of 1812.

Explorers and writers have marvelled at their beauty and mystery.

The French actually named the area, Les Milles Isles, or the Thousand Islands, in the 1700s when French explorers travelled through the region. This was long before there were international boundaries. The islands themselves were named by the British navy.

As the region opened up to tourism in the late 1800s, people began to advocate for a park to protect and preserve some of the islands. The park began in 1904 with a small piece of waterfront property at Mallorytown Landing. Nine federally-owned islands in the St. Lawrence River added to the attraction and recreation facilities were installed.

Over the years, islands and land parcels were annexed. Today, the park comprises more than 20 islands and about 90 islets scattered between the Main Duck Island, which is south of Kingston and Lake Ontario, and Brockville, Ontario. It includes mainland properties at Mallorytown Landing, Landon Bay, Jones Creek and the Larue Mills Creek.

Our national parks represent Canada and showcase the best of what we have to offer. This park is an excellent example of that.

Parks are protected so they can be enjoyed by visitors today and into the future.

Parks Canada's offerings make the federal government Canada's largest provider of natural and cultural tourism products. Its destinations, such as national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas, form the cornerstones of the Canadian tourism industry.

Tourism represents as a significant economic opportunity for Canada. In 2010 the tourism sector contributed $29.7 billion to the Canadian economy and employed 617,300 Canadians. In my riding alone, over 6,000 people are employed in the visitor services industry.

Our national parks, and this one especially in my great riding of Leeds—Grenville, offer important economic possibilities for the province of Ontario and for Canada.

The Thousand Islands is known throughout the world as a tourism destination. Every year millions of tourists flock to the region, but very few people know that there is a national park located in the heart of those islands.

This park is the closest national park to the city of Ottawa. Even with the creation of Rouge National Urban Park, Thousand Islands national park will remain one of the closest national parks to the Toronto region. However, it remains one of our best kept secrets.

It is time for us to offer new possibilities for this majestic national park and something as simple as changing its name will dramatically alter how Parks Canada engages and attracts members of the public.

For over 100 years, tourism has played a prominent role in the Thousand Islands community, supporting family-owned businesses from generation to generation.

St. Lawrence Islands National Park has an annual budget in excess of $1.5 million. While some of this revenue is self-generated, a majority comes from the Canadian taxpayer.

When Parks Canada has publicly stated that it is trying to encourage new Canadians, younger Canadians and urban Canadians to visit national parks, it does not make sense for Parks Canada to work outside the regional brand of Thousand Islands.

That brand is known throughout the world, yet in a region where other private tourism providers take advantage of the strong, recognized and powerful world-famous Thousand Islands brand name in using the term “St. Lawrence Islands”, Parks Canada is not talking in the same language as other Thousand Islands tourism operators.

If one were a traveller, one would find it difficult to distinguish between the offerings of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, Parks of the St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence Islands National Park. Two of the three organizations named have many sites outside the immediate Thousand Islands area and are not interchangeable with the national park. As well, they have differing mandates.

As the government, it is our role to help remove barriers that limit opportunities for Canadians to become more engaged with our treasured natural places. We should be doing all we can to help provide opportunities to showcase what Parks Canada has to offer. Placing Thousand Islands national park on the map is a small but significant step that will help enhance public awareness of this incredible park.

A name change presents an opportunity to renew Canadians' passion and support for our country's important natural spaces. A name change would help ensure that this national park finds a place in the consciousness of Canadians and that future generations are inspired by and support this long established protected treasure.

Economically, a name change to Thousand Islands national park would align our public offering with those of other regional tourism providers. This would help initiate sustainable, expandable growth generating activities and relationships. We are creating a legacy that says lasting improvements can be made by government.

Parks Canada will be able to expand its reach and impact by taking advantage of the existing regional brand. We heard this from Ms. St. Claire during the committee meeting.

National parks have been renamed in the past and in both of these instances the new names better reflect the region in which they are situated. This is what I am trying to accomplish with the bill.

Bill C-370 is an easy bill for all members of the House to support because we will be changing the name from St. Lawrence Islands National Park to a name that better reflects the local region. It is a name that is already used by regional residents and existing park visitors. It is a name that will help Parks Canada position the wonderful landscapes and features of the park in the psyche of Canadians. It is a name that will immediately improve local, national and international recognition of the park. It is a name that will facilitate better interactions with other regional tour operations and tourism initiatives, improving local economic opportunity. It is a name that simply makes sense.

Thousand Islands national park fits the region, it fits tradition and it fits the future. Thousand Islands national park is the right name for the right park and it is about time.

Business of the HousePrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 66(2), I would like to designate Thursday, November 29, 2012, for the continuation of debate on the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Health.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-370, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada), be read the third time and passed.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have another opportunity to speak to Bill C-370, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada).

St. Lawrence Islands National Park is located in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River within the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, as we heard from our colleague, the member for Leeds—Grenville. It is a beautiful region of our country and is known as being one of the areas of highest biodiversity in Canada. It also has historical significance as it was the first national park established in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains.

Furthermore, the park is part of an established UNESCO biosphere reserve. Canadians from across the country, as well as tourists from around the globe come to the park to enjoy its hiking trails, interpretative programs, exhibits and family activities. In committee, we heard from a representative from Parks Canada who I feel provided a beautiful description of this national treasure and its surrounding areas. She said:

Quite simply, the Thousand Islands is a place where nature and culture intermingle. Majestic castles and historic summer homes stand in contrast with rugged islands of granite and pine that are home to lumbering turtles, soaring eagles, and countless other species.

It sounds like a wonderful piece of our Canadian landscape. In Canada we are very fortunate to have our national parks. There is no doubt of their importance to Canadians and that they are an asset to our country.

I know in Scarborough—Rouge River, in my home community, the Rouge Park is certainly a valued treasure among my constituents and the residents of the greater Toronto area. We call it our unknown gem in Toronto. The people in my riding were calling for the creation of Rouge National Park for many years. The announcement in the throne speech that Rouge Park will be designated the first urban national park was a huge victory for the people of this area and a testament to members of our community who worked for over a quarter century to see their dreams for Rouge National Park become a reality.

However, Scarborough residents and residents of the GTA are anxious for a plan to establish this park as part of the national parks system for Canadians and tourists to explore, while preserving and continuing the conservation efforts, as well as respecting the need to maintain the ecological integrity of our local natural gem. Finally, the people involved would like dedicated stable funding to see this dream realized, ensuring the preservation and conservation of the ecosystem to ensure future generations will have the area to enjoy.

When Bill C-370 was first presented, we felt that it needed more dialogue, and it was examined with due diligence. I must mention at this point that this is why we voted against the bill at the earlier stages, because we wanted to ensure that due diligence of every part that needed to be done was done. Our main concern with the bill was fiscal responsibility.

Our support for legislation such as this relies on due diligence in order to protect taxpayer dollars. We had just been delivered a budget where Parks Canada was dealt a funding cut of $29.2 million by 2015. There was a lack of costing information on this matter, which is why we chose to oppose it earlier.

Our other concern was whether or not the community was consulted on this issue. Fortunately, many of our concerns and questions were answered when we were at committee. I thank all of the members of the local community, as well as my hon. colleague from Leeds—Grenville for providing that opportunity to be able to ask and have those questions answered.

In committee we learned that the costs of changing the name are around $138,000, disbursed over a 10-year period. Most of the costs involved are related to redoing the physical signage within the park. There would be an attempt to keep the costs low, as Parks Canada would immediately replace four large signage panels on the park's mainland properties but would then change the island signage over a 10-year plan.

Some of these costs would be incurred with or without the name change due to regular maintenance and upkeep costs. The St. Lawrence Islands National Park already prints its promotional materials and pamphlets on an annual basis, which are updated prior to printing. Changes to the website will simply involve updating the text and will not incur further costs.

We learned more about the economic benefit of this name change. While there is certainly a cost associated with the renaming of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to the Thousand Islands National Park, there are potential economic gains that changing the name of the park could actually produce for the local community.

The park is located in an area that is properly known within Canada and worldwide as the Thousand Islands region. Tourism and visitor services are an important part of the economic development of the region surrounding the park. Visitor services are increasingly important as the economic mix of the region has changed from manufacturing, and visitors come from around the world to visit the Thousand Islands.

In a region where private tourism providers build their businesses by taking advantage of the recognized and powerful Thousand Islands brand name, the name St. Lawrence Islands National Park is not really helping matters or their pocketbooks. It promotes confusion and can lead to missed economic opportunities for the local businesses in the community. Renaming the park would allow it to be more easily identified by potential tourists and visitors.

As Thousand Islands is a recognized brand, changing the name of the park could open opportunities to further attract and engage local and international visitors as well as furthering business opportunities. As well, improved branding of the park would aid in the continued development of the tourism industry.

It was also extremely encouraging to hear from community members and the local business association and about the local consultations that took place.

Rouge Park is being referred to as the people's park. I have been consulting my constituents, as has Parks Canada, to ensure that this park incorporates their ideas for a park in their neighbourhood, which they would visit and enjoy. Moving forward, we are working hard to make sure the voices of community members are heard in the consultation process. Community consultation is a very important step, and I believe it is imperative for a change like this. I agree it is important that the Thousand Islands community gains the same recognition in promoting its national park's and community's interest.

As far back as 1978, a St. Lawrence Islands National Park advisory committee has been recommending changing the park's name. Parks Canada supports the name change, as do local businesses, business councils and all of the municipalities involved.

The changing of the name to the Thousand Islands National Park was endorsed by many of the local municipalities and they passed resolutions supporting the bill. The majority of Thousand Islanders agree with making this change, as locally the park is already known as the Thousand Islands National Park.

It is for these reasons that we will be supporting the bill at third reading. Our country has some of the most beautiful national parks in the world. Their benefits to our country are absolutely invaluable. As Canadians, we treasure their ecosystems and biodiversity, and we must ensure that our government continues to protect and preserve their beauty and our environment.

We must make this commitment now so that future generations can appreciate and enjoy all that our national parks have to offer.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe memories are what national parks are all about. I certainly have fond memories of vacations with my parents and brothers. People who approached me when the subject of this bill came up told me stories of their vacations, of sitting on the dock with their father, and the memories they treasure. That is one of the reasons we treasure our parks. There are other reasons that we treasure our parks. They are places to preserve a bit of nature, to preserve biodiversity.

This park in question, which is soon to be known as the Thousand Islands National Park, is no exception. In my earlier speech, I mentioned that in my home riding of Kingston and the Islands, in which a small part of this park finds itself, one day we discovered a wild turkey sitting in my mother's backyard. I did not know that wild turkeys live in Canada but they do, because there are parts of Canada where this biodiversity is preserved.

Why are we considering this bill right now? The reason is that we see an opportunity, in the midst of some cuts to funding for Parks Canada. I wish to acknowledge that my colleague from Leeds—Grenville is very cognizant of the need to look carefully at these cuts and maybe to scale back on some of them to ensure we preserve the benefits of our parks for everybody to enjoy, and for tourists to come to Canada to enjoy. He has been working hard to ensure we are very careful about the cuts we make to Parks Canada. However, it is also be an opportunity to look at how we could move forward, how we could encourage tourism to a park that has a lot of benefits, not only to my riding and my hon. colleague's riding, but to the whole country's economy.

We are considering changing the name to Thousands Islands National Park because Thousand Islands is a name that is recognized far and wide. I remember when we, as a family, vacationed around the country. In the United States, when we explained to people where we lived, we would say we lived right by the Thousand Islands. This is a name that has a lot of recognition around the world, and it is a name we know is very appropriate for this park. It is situated right in the Thousand Islands region. It is a name that is so ingrained in people's minds that they often refer to my riding as Kingston and the Thousand Islands, not by its correct name of Kingston and the Islands.

In committee, we have dealt with the issue of cost and, as my hon. colleague from Leeds—Grenville mentioned, the costs are roughly known. There is a good estimate of what the costs would be, and a lot of that would simply be incurred anyway due to regular maintenance. That has come out in committee, and I am glad we have had the chance to cover that issue.

It would be a marketing opportunity and an opportunity to ensure that all of the resources in our region are used to maximize the economic benefit of our natural environment and the resources we have. This initiative would encourage tourism to the area, support the creation and maintenance of employment in the area, and it would have a very natural economic benefit that we want to promote. I think the member knew about all of this. When I heard of this bill, I phoned some acquaintances who knew about the park and the region, some of them being previous members of the staff.

We confirmed that all the changes made sense and that all stakeholders in the region wanted this change, were aware of the benefits and had an idea of what it would cost and that the cost-benefit analysis was definitely positive.

Now everything has been looked at by the committee, and I am glad that my colleague in the NDP has done her due diligence and is satisfied with the cost of this bill and its benefits and will be supporting this bill at third reading. We can all agree that it would be the right thing to move ahead with this change and rename this park the Thousand Islands National Park, so that people can bring their families to vacation in the Thousand Islands National Park and create memories that they and their kids will carry with them for the rest of their lives, memories we cherish and are part of why national parks are so important to us and our country.

I ask all members of the House to support this bill at third reading.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

November 27th, 2012 / 6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Resuming debate. Seeing no one, I ask the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville for his right of reply for up to five minutes.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the members for Scarborough—Rouge River and Kingston and the Islands for their presentations today. I am glad they have had the opportunity to do their due diligence and ensure that everything is being done the way it should be. I appreciate that they wanted to go through that process.

I would like to thank the people who came to the committee, Tom Russell, Don Ross and Ms. Kim St. Claire from Parks Canada. It was a good opportunity for the committee to learn exactly what the community felt about this first-hand from those who have been intimately involved in economic development, in the parks and the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve in the region.

I am very happy that there is all-party support for this bill. It has been working its way through the legislative process for quite some time. I expect we will vote on this tomorrow and send it off to the Senate. After it is dealt with there, hopefully in a positive way, we can look forward to unveiling the new sign with the new name, Thousand Islands National Park.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 98, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, November 28, 2012, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again to address the ongoing negotiations with the European Union regarding the comprehensive economic and trade agreement known as CETA. This intervention is extremely timely in light of a leaked communiqué out of Europe this week that illustrates the lack of transparency and overly ideological approach that the Conservative government has taken to the CETA negotiations.

First of all, the memorandum illustrates that the European negotiators are being much more consultative and transparent than the Canadian Conservative government. They are providing their parliamentary trade committee with regular updates, allowing for input from European parliamentarians from all political stripes. This is not the case in Canada. The Conservative government will not answer questions in the House directly. It very rarely updates the trade committee on the CETA negotiations and it does not consult broadly with Canadians.

Why will the government not allow scrutiny of the process? Perhaps the leaked documents shed light on that question as well. These leaked communiqués from the European Commission expose the Conservatives' incompetence in negotiating and validate the concerns of Canadians with regard to CETA.

For instance, the government has been talking the talk when it comes to defending the supply management system in Canada. However the European's internal communiqué confirms that Canada has already agreed to grant new market access to supply managed goods in the form of tariff rate quotas. This is not defending supply management in Canada. It is unacceptable to the thousands of farmers in Canada who rely on that system to ensure stability. This type of concession sends shock waves through the supply managed sectors, which see this as a very slippery slope that could be further eroded in future deals such as the TPP.

With regard to intellectual property, the leaked communiqué illustrates that the government is very much considering caving to the pressures of the European pharmaceutical companies. These are concessions that will increase the cost of prescriptions in Canada. Canadians, including provincial governments, employers and other drug providers, have been expressing concerns about this for years now but the Conservatives dismissed these concerns as myth. We now see that the IP changes are on the table and they are decisions that will be “taken at the highest political level”. I ask the minister and the Prime Minister what their decision is. Has it been decided that Canadians will have to pay more for their medications or not?

With regard to public procurement, the EU acknowledges that this is “the most ambitious and comprehensive offer Canada and its provinces have made to any partner, including the U.S.” Our offer to the EU even outreaches commitments that currently exist between provinces in Canada, but Europe still wants more. On public urban transport, Europe is asking us to provide full access and in particular to eliminate all local content requirements for EU operators. It is demanding that provincial and regional development clauses be either eliminated or redrafted.

There is much to discuss with regard to CETA, more than I have time for here, but I must address the issue of imbalance. We have just seen the example of the FIPA with China where Canada signed a deal that was terribly imbalanced, with Canada at the losing end.

Again, in the documents leaked from the EU, Canada may be about to sign another imbalanced agreement. The commission acknowledges that we are only asking that the EU enshrine existing liberalization, while the Europeans are asking us to substantially open our markets. On services and investment, the Europeans claim Canada has opened its markets fully while it has maintained complete policy space for the future. Once again we see the government pushing forward in a reckless manner, selling out Canadian interests and decrying any opposition to its agenda as anti-trade.

On this side of the House we are pro-trade and we await the final draft of the CETA to weigh it in its entirety and see if it is of net benefit to Canada. However, every time we see a leaked draft or document, we see a government that is not putting Canada's interests first.

Will the government heed the advice of Canadians and address the imbalance before it presents us with a final agreement, and will it get consultation from Canadians and let us see the final draft before it is signed off in Europe?

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where to begin. I have heard some rants and some misinformation in the House before, but I do not think I have heard anything that is ever going to beat that. For the absolute unmitigated gall of the hon. member to say that was a pro-trade speech is absolutely mind-boggling.

First of all, let us deal with a couple of issues. The hon. member wants to talk about a leaked memorandum. A leaked memorandum is exactly what it is. That is something that is deliberately leaked by an another party to try to force something else to happen in negotiations. That is what leaked memoranda do, and the hon. member played into that very nicely. He picked it up and did a great job for the European Union.

That the European committee is better briefed than our committee is absolute nonsense. We have met a couple of times with the European trade committee. The first thing we learned is that we were much better briefed than they were in these negotiations. The words “updated and consulted broadly” are absolute nonsense.

Here is the deal. Canada is a trading nation. We are looking at CETA, the comprehensive economic trade agreement to increase trade with the European Union by about $12 billion and about 80,000 jobs, the equivalent of about $1,000 per household in Canada. This is a good agreement for Canada. Our future is tied to trade.

The hon. member actually asked for this late show. It is kind of like a light show, I guess. It is coming up to Christmas, and all of us have the Christmas spirit and a certain belief in make-believe, and the hon. member brings that out well. However, we have to talk about facts when we stand in the House.

The fact is very simple. We have negotiated this in the best interests of Canadians. We continue to brief the provinces on a regular basis. We brief the municipalities. It is the first time ever that they have had briefings from a federal minister for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The reality is that this series of negotiations are to benefit Canada. We will bring this to a conclusion at some point, whether it is this year or early in 2013, and at the end of the day, Canadians will be better off because of it.

As far as public procurement, the offer on public procurement is ambitious. The provinces have signed on to it. The provinces and municipalities have to sign on for public procurement. The hon. member knows that.

With regard to the idea that somehow we are going to cost Canadians more money on pharmaceuticals, this is still being negotiated. The hon. member needs to calm down, wait until the negotiations are over, and then he can stand in the House and speak with some surety. Until then, we will continue briefing the provinces and the municipalities, but we will negotiate the way that every agreement is negotiated. When the final agreement is ready, we will bring it forward.

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government keeps talking about mythical numbers and telling us how great this agreement is that they do not have the courage to show us. Let us address transparency. In the section of the leaked memorandum between the EU Commission and the trade committee that addresses public utilities, the commission refers to concessions that Canada has made “reluctantly”. The concessions have to do with the fact that the EU is maintaining various reservations for public utilities, whereas Canada is putting those on the table.

The document says that Canada has asked the EU member states to make a change to the language “which would help in the presentation to our provinces”. It sounds an awful lot like Canada is asking the EU to help it create spin to more easily sell a raw deal to our provinces. The government has shown a lack of respect to the provinces before, but this is outrageous. The government has long insisted that it wants this deal done before the end of the year, and with that fast approaching it is evident we are far from a fair deal, a balanced deal, for Canada.

Will the government commit to listening to Canadians and keep working at this until we have a deal that is good for our economy and all Canadians, and that is balanced between the two economies?

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I think I have had a bit of an epiphany. I listened closely to the hon. member's language, and really what we are talking about is the fact that the anti-trade party, or the no-trade party, is not at the table. If the New Democrats were at the table, we would not have this discussion because there would not be any negotiations.

The reality is that this goes way back to the days when the NDP vehemently opposed NAFTA. We are talking about 1988 vintage language that is coming from the hon. member. Today, the last time I checked, it is 2012. That is a long way from 1988 and the original free trade agreement with the United States. Surely, the NDP members have learned in the interim that trade is good for Canada, good for businesses and it is what drives this country.

Public SafetyAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again on border issues, as I have many times.

I first want to thank a constituent of mine, Richard Ruston, from the People First movement, who gave me this nice lapel pin for those working on behalf of and advocating for persons with intellectual disabilities.

To move to the subject matter at hand, I rose in the chamber in September to talk about the issues at the Canada Border Services Agency and a memorandum that was issued to CBSA border officials to stand down when they find drugs outbound to the U.S. at the border.

It is a very serious issue because as we have seen over a period of time, there have been budget cuts to border services. In fact, there have been 325 positions identified for cuts where the government has asked the union for 325 volunteers to abandon their posts and retire or leave. What is going to happen is that there will not be the people or the capacity to actually replace those jobs. Those jobs are now gone, so there will be fewer people serving at the border, the men and women who do an able job in the circumstances. Most recently we had a tragic shooting of an officer, who was actually from the London area. We are saddened to see that situation. It is a very serious job.

The government has removed the detector dog program, which was very effective in catching criminals who were trying to bring in drugs, guns and other types of contraband.

This memorandum is a slap in the face of our officers. It comes about because of cuts to the number of agents and intel, which is not properly gathered any more. The government now wants to allow this to just go to the United States.

The problem with this strategy is that a couple of major issues are involved, which the government needs to account for. Often, these drugs go into the United States and become cash, other hard drugs, or guns or other contraband that criminals then attempt to return to Canada. Therefore, our prevention strategy of working to find drugs exiting the country has actually lowered crime in Canada because it prevents criminal organizations and others from getting resources they use for other criminal activity.

I have talked to a number of my American counterparts, be they elected officials or business or social interests, who are very concerned about Canadian officials removing this preventive strategy. They are very concerned about their people being exposed to additional Canadian manufactured drugs, or drugs that have come into Canada and then gone elsewhere into the United States, affecting their livelihood and wellbeing. It creates addiction problems, social problems, workplace problems and increases in organized crime as well.

It is a black eye for our country to abandon our number one trading partner by no longer attempting to find that type of contraband and preventing it from going over the border. We can do better.

Public SafetyAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, first, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the slain border officer in southern Ontario. The fact that we have lost an officer weighs heavily on everyone who works in border services.

I would like to put on the record that the hon. member had the opportunity a year or so ago when we armed border services officers to support that bill, but he voted against it.

My hon. colleague is stating that it is becoming easier for criminals to smuggle contraband to and from Canada. The NDP claim that border security has been cut, which is patently false. There have been no cuts to front line CBSA officers. In fact, we have increased CBSA officers by 26%.

The member for Windsor West stated that the minister ordered CBSA to stop searching for drugs and guns headed to the U.S. border. Nothing could be further from the truth. Criminals are always finding new ways to avoid detection. It is necessary for the Canadian Border Services Agency to review and update its enforcement policies and priorities to meet these challenges and to make maximum use of the tools readily available.

The responsibility for controlling contraband does not solely rest with border services officers. They are only part of a vast network of CBSA intelligence officers, criminal investigators and other law enforcement partners who work together to identify criminals who would break Canadian and international law.

It needs to be said that organized crime and criminal behaviour requires action on multiple fronts. For example, Canadian law enforcement partners are taking action to cut off drugs at the source by shutting down production. The CBSA is also an active participant in the national anti-drug strategy in which this government has invested over $100 million for federal drug enforcement activities.

The CBSA both produces and receives information and intelligence that it uses to make risk assessments to better target its efforts. I am sure that member opposite would agree that it is a much better use of resources to have our border services officers focusing their examinations of outbound cargo based on intelligence lookouts rather than looking for that proverbial needle in the haystack.

The CBSA engages in a number of outbound enforcement activities in all modes of service, be it postal, highway, air or marine, and will continue to do so.