Mr. Speaker, I rise again to speak to this particular bill, which now has a new title and a new time in the House of Commons. Through the last Parliament we debated the bill at length because we had incredible concerns about our ability to understand what we were doing with our free trade deals across the world. We understand the difference between free trade and fair trade, but we want to know what the government stands for when it makes these types of arrangements with these countries and what drives it forward.
We agree that certain products are going to be easier to move into Panama. That is fine, but do we weaken our integrity in doing so? Do we weaken the direction our country can move in? Do we weaken the state of the world when we make deals that are unsatisfactory? Is that what we accomplish when we reach a free trade deal with Panama, a country dedicated to money laundering and tax evasion? Panama has so many corporations listed there, not because they do any work there but because they take advantage of the very lax practices there. Not only are the practices lax there, but they actually promote tax evasion and money laundering as a basis of industry.
Here we are, entering into a relationship with a country that has those principles and values. Does it bring us down to that level? By going along with these types of relationships, does it mean that we then lower the bar as far as our ability to enhance our prosperity is concerned? Is that what we are doing? Are those the trade principles of the Conservative government? That is our question, and I think it is a fair question.
I would welcome a debate in the House on trade, generally. We see that the government is engaged in trade discussions with other countries. We are all concerned with what the Prime Minister's visit to China means for our country and our relationships. Before the Prime Minister left for China, I remember his interview with Peter Mansbridge on CBC Television, in which he stated unequivocally that our energy policy is made by the free market and that we are an energy exporting country. He was saying that our exports are determined by the free market. That is his point of view. Two weeks later he was off to China, where he set up a deal to move energy, in a certain fashion, to the Chinese. We now see that the government, in its relationship with China, has agreed to terms and conditions regarding the environment and the processing of energy products with China. Those do not strike me as part of the free market, but rather an expression of Canada's need to enter into various relationships with a command economy like China's.
Do I appreciate those relationships? No, I do not, because I think the Prime Minister should have come back to Canada and set up a national energy strategy in which we could actually determine the value of the relationships we are establishing in exporting our products to countries like China. When we do export raw bitumen to China, as is proposed for the Gateway pipeline, we will become a supply link in a chain that can only be filled with that product moving to China for upgrading there. That is pretty clear. At the same time, interestingly enough, we have struck a deal to liquefy natural gas in Kitimat. Natural gas will be shipped over to China where it will be used to upgrade the same bitumen.
In reality, we are taking two energy products that we can use in Canada to increase the prosperity of our economy and do so in an environmentally correct fashion, and yet are moving them over to another country. That is our trade policy. That policy has an impact on billions of dollars of trade.
How does that fit with a free trade agreement with Panama?
That is my point, because we do not have any definition of what the government wants to accomplish with trade. What we have, as the Prime Minister said, is an ideological commitment to a free market. However, that is seriously disengaged from the reality of many of the products we are selling. I believe we are the only energy exporting country in the world that does not have a direct say on those energy exports. Now we have to take it on faith, and by confusion, and have to fill that role anyway.
We cannot be honest with ourselves and look at how the world is actually developing. It is not developing in the direction that we thought it would through the 1990s and the last decade when free trade was the mantra. No, in an era of increasing population and declining resources, command economies are taking over. We are starting to see that is the way of the world now. It is in this context that Canada, with its natural resources and riches, which we should be preserving for our grandchildren, is making decisions that are not correct.
When we come back to the free trade agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, we have to ask where the logic of it is. How does it work? Is it really a free trade agreement or is it a free investment deal? Is this really about Canadian multinational companies that want to take their profits out of Canada and invest them in things like the Panama Canal? Is that what this is really about? Is that the underlying principle that we are dealing with? We do not know because the Conservative government very rarely, if ever, presents principles and directions so that we can understand the purpose behind its actions.
When we look at these free trade deals, we have to be able to say to ourselves that, yes, we have followed to principles regarding non-criminal activity in our marketplace. We espouse the need to close down tax loopholes that have starved governments around the world from their rightful share of the riches that are made by corporations. These are things that we espouse, yet at the same time we are quite willing to give them up because some Canadian companies could perhaps invest in the expansion of the Panama Canal, then take those profit and give them to their shareholders around the world.
When we talk about free trade deals, we have to take them in the context of what the world is doing. The world is changing quickly in this new era, in which command economies will play a larger and larger role. We understand that and have addressed it.