Mr. Speaker, as the Reform Party's international trade critic it is a pleasure for me to speak today on Bill C-47 and its implications for a modernized and revitalized Department of Foreign Affairs.
This bill does not make any huge changes. It changes the name of the Department of External Affairs to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and it changes the titles of ministers and the deputy ministers to reflect the new name of the department.
I suppose the name change is intended to ensure that the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade reflects the needs and values of Canadians in the 1990s. However I wonder whether changing the name of the department is necessary and whether the cost of doing so can be justified. I know that printing 4,000 new sets of business cards and redoing all the stationery does not amount to a monumental cost in the larger scheme of things, but the taxpayer expects a new standard of efficiency in government and this does seem to be frivolous.
The Department of External Affairs has operated for some 10 years with international trade as one of its components. It is suddenly necessary to add the long phrase of international trade to the name of the department. Why is this?
Why after so many years of operating just fine as external affairs do we now need the title of foreign affairs and international trade? What if in its wisdom some future government decides to move the international trade component back to the industry department? What if one day a crown corporation is formed to take over the trade promotion? What if that function is privatized altogether? Do we then have to go through this exercise all over again?
Changing the way trade promotion is handled is not inconceivable. Just this morning the Globe and Mail carried an article stating that a group of business people says Ottawa could save nearly $117 million a year by concentrating its trade promotion efforts on smaller companies ending duplication and tying trade to aid. The article goes on to quote the chairman of the International Business Development Review to say that it would require courageous decisions to wean business off trade support initiatives but the federal government would be surprised by the positive response from an overtaxed population. I encourage the minister to look at these options and explore this further.
Let us talk a bit about what Canadians do want from their department of foreign affairs as it is now going to be known. The foreign policy joint review committee heard many representations from Canadians. The resulting report will guide the department to restructure as necessary and to address those concerns and set Canada's future foreign policy.
Specifically Canadians told us of the need to restructure CIDA and to make it more accountable and more focused in its approach to development assistance. They told us of the need to more clearly define the criteria for Canada's participation in future peacekeeping operations. They told us that non-government agencies, NGOs, can play a larger role in Canada's foreign aid delivery and development. They told us that the need for Canada is to aggressively seek to develop the fast growing Asia-Pacific area for trade. There were many other suggestions and recommendations but we will have to wait for the report to hear them all.
We know for certain however that Canadians want economic security and that over two million Canadians depend on international trade for their jobs. For every $1 billion in new exports 11,000 new jobs will be created. Therefore the Department of Foreign Affairs must do its utmost to make sure that Canadian business succeeds in the international marketplace.
In 1993 Canada exported $181 billion worth of goods and services totalling 30 per cent of our GDP. To see this number increase Reform would like to see Canada be a strong advocate for free trade or freer trade worldwide. We have made some important steps in this direction and I give this government credit for that.
One of the most important vehicles for this will be the world trade organization which will soon be in place as a result of the GATT negotiations. It is vital that Canada help this organization to be successful. Canada must take a leadership role in the new WTO in making this rules based organization work. We must continue to strive for further trade liberalization in the second round of negotiations in agriculture at the GATT or WTO in six years time. Canada must actively pursue new free trade agreements which could enhance our international trade position.
Of special interest to Canada would be the rapid and successful expansion of NAFTA. When reviewing potential new members Canada should encourage our current partners, the U.S. and Mexico, not to drag their feet in these negotiations. In the long term the expansion of NAFTA will help us all. Canada is a trading nation. We need to develop this further.
Of principal interest to Canada however will always be our trading relationship with the United States which currently accounts for about 75 to 80 per cent of Canada's two way trade. This strong relationship with the United States has allowed Canada to become the seventh largest trading nation in the world, even though we are only 31st in terms of population size.
While Canada must always strive to diversify in the area of trade so that we do not remain dependent on our neighbour to the south for our prosperity, we must recognize that the Canada--
U.S. trade relationship is something which needs to be encouraged and promoted to the fullest.
Beyond nurturing our trade relationship with the United States, the Department of Foreign Affairs must always strive to carve out new markets for Canadian international trade. Its job is to tap into emerging growth markets throughout the world and make sure Canadian business can get its foot in the door and go on to develop a comparative advantage over our competitors.
One of the most exciting new growth markets for Canadian trade, as I have said, is the Pacific rim which within five years could represent 40 per cent of total global consumption of exports. Obviously the Department of Foreign Affairs should do its utmost to make sure that Canada remains an active and successful player in the region.
To date we have had some success. Japan is already our second biggest trading partner and purchases more Canadian exports than the U.K., Germany and France combined. In addition, China has the fastest growing economy in the world. With its huge population it is predicted that by early in the next century China could be the second largest economy in the world.
As has already been mentioned, Canada has a significant stake in expanding trade within our hemisphere, preferably through the NAFTA. It has already given Canada unprecedented and preferential access to Mexico's growing market of over 85 million consumers. Other countries such as Chile have demonstrated a very real desire to join this agreement. Canada must ensure that we are a leader in the area of NAFTA accession otherwise the Americans will take this leadership role and will dominate the agenda and look after their own trade interests.
The Department of Foreign Affairs should make sure Canadians remain well represented by acting as a leading force in defending Canadian interests and values. In order to successfully fulfil this task, foreign affairs should seriously consider reallocating its resources in order to optimize this important trade promotion task. This will require some tough decisions, including the withdrawal of resources from regions that do not represent growth markets for Canadian trade. Also in these countries where we have primary diplomatic and consular missions we should investigate cost cutting measures.
Our dealings with other countries of course must be on many levels and not just on those involving trade. Canada has a very special role to play in the area of international affairs because of our proud tradition of acting as an honest broker for dispute resolution and effective multinationalism. Canada must build upon this tradition and promote our position as a respected and effective middle power. With our capabilities, record of innovation and energetic use of diplomacy, many countries expect a special contribution from Canada in the area of international affairs. We should be proud to provide this service.
While Canadians will always want us to promote this positive middle power image, they also want us to live within our means. Therefore, Canada must aim for a foreign policy which is proactive, effective and fiscally responsible. This means that we must get our own fiscal house in order. We must concentrate on reducing internal trade barriers and generally reduce the cost of doing business here at home so that our companies can be more competitive in the world marketplace.
Whether acting as a catalyst for positive international change, a facilitator working to bring parties to an agreement, or mediators to defuse international conflict, the Department of Foreign Affairs must also strive to be a world leader in everything it does.
One area where Canada is already a leader is in our dealings with the United Nations which turns 50 years old this year. Improving the success of the UN is an important task for Canada. There are many ways to improve and overhaul it in the 21st century. I suggest there are several areas Canada should be looking at which would improve the efficiency, accountability and effectiveness of the United Nations.
First, rules that force countries to pay their UN dues must be enforced. Otherwise the UN will always be ineffective and all other reform will go for naught.
Second, the newly appointed UN inspector general must be given a wide mandate to rein in overspending, duplication and waste.
Third, an early warning system should be set up to pre-empt disastrous international conflicts and environmental degradation.
Fourth, an international court should be established through the UN to punish international criminals who currently use national borders and weak international co-ordination to avoid being punished.
Fifth, the structure of the UN Security Council and the veto powers of its permanent membership should be reviewed. During the review Canada should be considered for permanent membership because of its longstanding service and dedication to the United Nations and peacekeeping.
For any of these reforms to work it is necessary that the Department of Foreign Affairs play an effective role both behind the scenes and by publicly setting the agenda for change.
In conclusion, while the Reform Party was elected on a domestic agenda we realize we must be able to present a credible foreign policy and develop a good working relationship with the Department of Foreign Affairs. I would therefore like to express my support for the bill, not as a housekeeping measure to be dealt with quickly but as a sign of a new dynamic and efficient
Department of Foreign Affairs. There will be support for Canadian interests and values into the next century.
While the Reform will have plenty more to say in the area of foreign policy in the coming session, I hope I have illustrated some of the points we think are important for the department.