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House of Commons Hansard #87 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian joint delegation of the Canada-China Legislative Association and the Canada-Japan Interparliamentary Group respecting their participation at the 32nd General Assembly of the Asian Interparliamentary Assembly which was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, September 18-24, 2011.

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 1st, 2012 / 10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in relation to the federal support measures to adoptive parents.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in relation to the motion adopted by the committee on Monday, February 27, 2012, on the support of the committee for the Canadian seal industry.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-403, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act (Civilian Investigation Service).

Mr. Speaker, this will be a bill of interest to all of my colleagues from all corners of the House. It is a bill that would require public oversight of the RCMP. It is something that the provinces have been making moves toward steadily and surely because there is a need, both for members serving on the force and for the general safety of the public, that there be proper and consistent public oversight of the RCMP. This would tackle a number of issues in one go. It would allow for accountability at the highest levels of the RCMP. We have seen a number of issues and scandals that have arisen over the years. It also would give assurance to front line officers, when they go into a situation, that if anything were to go awry, which it sometimes does, there would be public oversight of the investigation, which would allow the officers certainty and allow the public the certainty that a full and proper arm's-length investigation will be done.

This is something we have been working on for years and something for which we have seen growing support within the RCMP and, more broadly, across the general Canadian public. We think the time has long since come for the public to have oversight and enforcement of the rules that govern our national police force.

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

AbortionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, the petitioners note that Canada is the only nation in the western world, in the company of China and North Korea, without any laws restricting abortion. They also note that the Supreme Court of Canada has said that it is Parliament's responsibility to enact abortion legislation.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to speedily enact legislation that restricts abortion to the greatest extent possible.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to present three petitions.

The first petition deals with the ongoing promotion by the Government of Canada of a private sector project, the Enbridge supertanker scheme, that I am recently dubbing the great pipeline of China. Members of my riding, throughout Victoria and some of the Gulf Islands call on the government to cease and desist from supporting the project until it has gone through proper review and to allow environmental considerations to be sufficiently considered.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, the second petition from residents of Salt Spring Island calls on the government to take immediate action on the climate crisis, specifically to be aware of the fact that, as greenhouse gas levels rise, the planet is imperilled but that, through a clean energy economy, many more jobs could be created.

PetitionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to present a petition from members of my community in Saanich—Gulf Islands who are so interested in the proceedings of the House, specifically what we are doing right now, the presentation of petitions, that they call on the Government of Canada to create an ongoing system by which citizens can track the tabling of petitions and the response to petitions online so that it becomes a more useful tool for citizens of Canada.

Post-Secondary EducationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, I have three petitions to table today.

The first petition is with respect to the creation of a post-secondary education act in Canada. Canada is one of the only developed countries that does not have a post-secondary education act. The petitioners call for the creation of a post-secondary education act that would fall on three basic principles: first, good quality education; second, that it be publicly administered; and third, that it be available and accessible to all Canadians who wish to pursue post-secondary education.

The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to create a post-secondary education act that would remove the federal funding for post-secondary education from the social transfer to the provinces and create a new transfer of funds dedicated solely for the purpose of post-secondary education. This petition has been signed by residents living in the areas of Calgary, Regina and Saskatoon.

Human RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, my second petition is from my riding of Scarborough—Rouge River. It calls upon the Government of Canada to act on human rights, in particular, in Sri Lanka.

The UN report, which was presented by an expert panel created by the secretary-general of the United Nations, found credible allegations that war crimes and crimes against humanity took place on the island of Sri Lanka during the last phase of the war.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to urge the United Nations to immediately establish an independent, international and impartial mechanism to ensure that truth, accountability and justice are attained in Sri Lanka.

Falun GongPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, the third petition is from many people in my constituency on the topic of human rights in the country of China. It concerns Falun Gong practitioners who say that Falun Gong is a peaceful and beneficial spiritual practice centred on the principles of truth, compassion, forbearance and a set of five meditation exercises. Falun Gong members have been persecuted since July 1999.

The petitioners call upon the Canadian government to continuously use every possible channel to call for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong members, especially at meetings with top Chinese leaders and at international forums, and to help rescue 12 family members of Canadian residents who are incarcerated for their belief in Falun Gong in China.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to bring forward a petition that calls upon the government to appoint a royal commission on the environment and health with the mandate to examine and make recommendations regarding all aspects of the environmental and health impacts of industrial activity in Canada, the application of precautionary principle, which would protect public health and the environment from uncertain risks, to the regulation of both industrial processes and production, distribution and availability of consumer goods in Canada.

This petition is in regard to calling for a royal commission on the environment and health.

PovertyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to present a petition signed by the members of my riding.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to ensure the swift passage of Bill C-233 and to take steps to eliminate poverty in Canada.

AbortionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to present, the first from constituents from my beautiful riding of Langley, British Columbia.

The petitioners note that Canada is the only nation in the western world, and in the company of China and North Korea, without any laws restricting abortion. They also note that the Supreme Court of Canada has said that it is Parliament's responsibility to enact abortion legislation.

The petitioners, therefore, call upon the House of Commons to assemble and to speedily enact legislation that restricts abortion to the greatest extent possible.

Employment InsurancePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, the second petition notes that there are a number of severe, potentially life-threatening conditions that do not qualify for disability programs because they are not necessarily permanent or because of waiting lists for surgeries, which lengthens recovery times.

The petitioners are calling upon the House of Commons to adopt legislation to provide additional medical EI benefits, at least equal to if not better than maternity EI benefits, for people who find themselves in these situations.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions today.

The first petition is from 28 residents of the Kitchener—Conestoga riding who are calling on the government, in the spirit of global solidarity, to take collective action by signing and implementing a binding international agreement replacing the Kyoto protocol, and to implement climate justice by playing a constructive role in the design of the green climate fund under the United Nations' governance.

Falun GongPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, the second petition is from about 150 residents of the Waterloo region who are calling on the government to use every possible channel and opportunity to call for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong, especially at meetings with top Chinese leaders, and also to help rescue 10 family members of Canadian residents who are incarcerated for their belief in Falun Gong in China.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou has the floor for 14 minutes.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I will pick up where I left off a few weeks ago. I talked about the value of signing bilateral free trade agreements with countries around the world. That consideration is all the more relevant when we have very limited trade relations with the country in question, as is the case with Jordan.

On Monday, in my speech on the free trade agreement with Panama bill, I pointed out that trade between Panama and Canada represented an insignificant fraction of Canada's total trade with the rest of the world. We have to ask ourselves whether associating ourselves with Panama is worth risking Canada's international reputation. We could ask ourselves the same question about Jordan.

I should mention that, in 2009, total trade between Jordan and Canada amounted to barely $86 million. As with Panama, trade between Jordan and Canada is growing quickly without a free trade agreement in place.

I would like to go back to the first part of the speech I made about Jordan. We have examples of high-achieving countries around the world. I spoke about China and Brazil. They are increasing their international trade enormously without signing free trade agreements. However, these countries are very active through other means. They are using much more powerful and much more worthwhile means to increase their foreign trade and support their economy.

It is very important to take that into consideration. Because the way I see it, signing free trade agreements in such a disorganized way, without reviewing them beforehand, without determining whether or not they are small in scope, raises many more religious issues or, at the very least, the question of a basic belief that is not supported by fact—let us think of progress that we could measure and that would enable us to provide benefits to all Canadians.

This is a governmental approach that I find very worrisome. We can even wonder about the possible interpretation: as I said on Monday, is the government not sort of running away to avoid facing growing domestic problems?

I am the critic for small business and tourism. I can see that, currently in the Canadian economy, we are having problems supporting start-up companies. Entrepreneurship is seriously lacking, and the government is not taking care of that. But what the government is doing is overloading officials assigned to reviewing and implementing free trade agreements by increasing the number of superficial, artificial agreements that do not meet the needs of Canadians as a whole, for peanuts, for insignificant things that will, however, have a significant impact.

I would like to point out to the House that, if Bill C-23 is approved, Canada—without any guarantee and without having properly reviewed what is involved—will end up with ties to a country that may still have serious problems with regard to labour law.

Previously, when the NDP had serious concerns about this, it had learned and understood that there were outrageous cases of exploitation of foreign workers. A concrete example would be what is happening in the textile mills in Jordan. People were working in atrocious conditions, were living in totally inhumane conditions and were practically treated like slaves.

Jordan wanted to achieve some progress in that regard. But is it enough so that Canada can associate with Jordan without causing serious harm to Canada's reputation, since it has such a strong influence on the international scene? That is the situation Canada is in. That is why the NDP does not necessarily oppose at all costs entering into a free trade agreement with Jordan or any other country in the world. However, the NDP insists that we must have sufficient guarantees before we will support it.

As a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade—which is often dysfunctional and is too easily denied the basic tools needed to assess the work of officials and the minister in question, as well as free trade agreements under negotiation or already concluded—I am quite concerned.

The fact that the NDP agrees that this bill should be sent to committee for examination is in no way a blank cheque. This does not mean we fully support the bill as it currently stands. We still have questions and concerns. This does nothing to put an end to the attitude shown by this government, which is simply using one distraction after another to try to hide all the deficiencies in its management, not to mention all the scandals that keep emerging.

I have the honour of being part of a very young caucus; many NDP members are in their twenties. This agreement commits Canada for a long time, indeed, for a very long time. A parallel can be drawn here. A free trade agreement is almost like a marriage contract between two people. That is why we must examine it very carefully, in order to weigh the pros and cons and to know what we are committing to.

Unfortunately, sometimes in matters of the heart, a union between two people is entered into lightly and too quickly, which can be disastrous. The Government of Canada has adopted a rushed and reckless approach. I would encourage all hon. members of this House and all the members of the committee to participate in an open, clear and transparent review.

If the government wants the unanimous support of this House for this bill, then it should involve all the parties concerned, which it is not doing. At least, it has not so far. For the six years the Conservative Party has formed the government, it has shut everyone else out. It makes me wonder what that means for the interests of our country and for our future. It is not a healthy approach.

That is why the NDP is showing openness so that the government can share with us, in good faith, the information it has and show us clearly, through cold hard facts, the value of this future free trade agreement.

I am going to keep an open mind even though I have been rather disappointed by the government's attitude in the past. We will, however, give a quick account of the problems with the existing agreement that the government is trying to push through the House.

We are willing to work with the government provided that it is willing to consider the problems with the current agreement. When the agreement was concluded and the NDP was able to speak to this matter during the previous Parliament, the NDP pointed out that a number of credible, independent international agencies had warned us about the general abuses endured by workers in Jordan, especially foreign workers.

Unfortunately, in some of the textile plants, there are cases of slavery. There have been some credible reports on that. Canada cannot condone this. When it comes to international agreements, our country is completely against such practices.

To sign this agreement without having a guarantee from the Jordanian government that it is addressing the problem, actively working on it and fighting the abuse of foreign workers would be an outright betrayal of our international commitments. I am sorry, but I am not prepared to put our excellent reputation on the line for the paltry amount of $85 million worth of trade in 2009.

This free trade agreement also refers to the protection of investments. Although we have not been negotiating a long time in the case of the European free trade agreement, I have worked on it a fair bit. I have said it before and I will say it again: provisions that protect investors who do business in Canada are an aberration. It makes no sense because the rule of law prevails in Canada. We have all the legal mechanisms and legal protections necessary to guarantee investors that they will be treated with respect and that their rights will not be violated. What effect can the government give to a provision to protect Jordanians, or even Europeans, who invest in Canada? Is Canada a banana republic? The government will have to account to the committee on that. The government will have to explain what this means and why it is going down that road.

The lessons of NAFTA have shown that the NDP was quite right to be cautious and to ask for guarantees. We will do so with this free trade agreement and with others.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou for his excellent speech. He also raised many questions about the future of this bill. I studied labour law and I find that this bill raises many questions in this regard.

Labour laws must be harmonized across Canada. I am wondering what the hon. member has to say about the fact that they should also be harmonized with the laws of the countries with which we are working. Canada has always been a leader when it comes to human rights, particularly with respect to workers' rights. I would like to know what the hon. member thinks about this.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead for his question, which is particularly relevant. We could look at the question from a philosophical perspective: does Canada want to be a model or, on the contrary, do we prefer to turn a blind eye to situations that are completely unacceptable? Canada has signed many international agreements to protect human rights and workers' rights because it is against slavery and the exploitation of human beings. In the House, we have even discussed how to combat human trafficking. So why support the virtual slavery that exists in Jordan?

I would like to draw the House's attention to an issue that really hurts our pride. There is already a free trade agreement between the United States and Jordan, but the United States ensured that the agreement itself—and not a side agreement—included provisions pertaining to the resolution of labour relations disputes. The United States wanted guarantees. Even with these guarantees, Tim Waters, the political director of the United Steelworkers union, said that, after 12 years, the agreement has not been as productive as expected. This gives us some idea of the scope of the problems that Jordan is currently experiencing.