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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was billion.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Reform MP for Capilano—Howe Sound (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 1993, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Taxation October 21st, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has clearly defined the battleground for the next election. There is one group of people that will want to increase spending of the people's money. There is another party which will give it back to the people who have earned it.

Trevor McLean, a small business owner in my riding in a recent letter said: "Over-regulation and overtaxing small business have a multiple negative impact on our economy-. They cause enormous disincentives for jobs, business failure and investment".

Why does the Minister of Finance listen only to bureaucrats and in his economic update offers no hope to small business and the desperate unemployed Canadians who would find jobs if taxes and regulations were cut?

Taxation October 21st, 1996

Mr. Speaker, last week the Prime Minister announced his fiscal policy for the near future. Higher taxes will be used to balance the budget. Higher tax revenues will be used to increase spending. It is obvious that the Prime Minister only listens to old fashioned Liberals who get their jollies out of spending other people's money.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Why does he fail to grasp that Canadians have a fundamental right to keep the money they earn and to spend it in the way they like rather than having it spent for them by the Liberal caucus?

The Deficit October 10th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I guess we will have to look at the record of what his deputy minister said yesterday. As of yesterday it was $6.3 billion.

I wonder how this works out. Coming from British Columbia, creative accounting in federal fiscal updates scares me. Creatively, last year's fictitious deficit was improved by a fictitiously large windfall. By a very mysterious coincidence, projected declines in revenues, exactly dollar for dollar, match projected declines in interest costs.

How many more such fictitious numbers and creative accounting are behind the minister's assurance that he is hitting his unchanged and unchanging targets?

The Deficit October 10th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's fiscal update needs a critical update. Only in the never never land of Ottawa is there celebration over a deficit of $29 billion. Only in the never never land of Ottawa is there celebration over deficit reduction by downloading on the provinces.

Why has the Minister of Finance burdened provincial health, education and welfare programs with cuts of $6 billion while he lets his own government get away with cuts of less than $2 billion a year?

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act October 10th, 1996

I have one choice. I can just refer my distinguished colleagues to a little booklet I have published on this subject which I was told has been used in undergraduate courses in this country. It has put me in a lot of trouble with those interest groups that believe that marketing boards are good for the consumer. That is, at any rate, their line.

I just cannot believe that a system increases the value of farms and quotas to such an extent that it is now more costly to buy the right to sell milk at an inflated price than it costs to buy the land, the farm and the animals. There is something very wrong.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act October 10th, 1996

I have only a minute?

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act October 10th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I may not be right all the time but I am consistent. On issues like that I like to be consistent, of course.

In my own judgment the best thing that Quebec can do is move from its rather socialist current program to where the role of government in Quebec is much smaller. If I were asked I would say if Quebec tomorrow turned itself into the Hong Kong of North America, welfare would shoot up enormously.

Imagine having a much lower tax rate because your services are much smaller. Imagine having the lowest corporate tax rate in North America. You would have so much capital flowing in wanting to pay these low tax rates you would have higher revenue than you have at the current rate. On top of that you would have huge employment effects from all of them.

My problem is that I am not worried about Canada erecting trade barriers to Quebec if it chose to be stupid enough to choose sovereignty; what worries me is from the evidence that I have seen coming from the French tradition of dirigisme from the French tradition of big government, everything can be engineered to the perfect world.

I am not optimistic that Quebec will choose to move in the direction of being the Hong Kong of North America. I am worried that Quebec will choose to be more like the Albania of North America, and that saddens and worries me a great deal.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act October 10th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my training is in economics. I must say that many other arguments are always advanced on why the principle of free trade should be violated. It is not just human rights. There are all kinds of other considerations. We hear in this Chamber all the time that we must protect our culture. The list is very long. I have always been very, very skeptical of the merit of such arguments.

We heard this same government say that we should trade with Cuba because the only way to stop its dictator, its gross violator of human rights from carrying out his crimes is to open up the society through trade, increased exchanges.

The Americans of course are criticized heavily for saying it has not worked and it will not work. The only thing that Castro will understand is if he gets hurt in the pocketbook. Who is right? I do not know. I have sat listening to American senators and congressmen for hours on either side making very telling arguments. And because of my difficulty of being able to make these judgments and quantify them, I would say let us go for free trade and let the chips fall on the other issues.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act October 10th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, this is an excellent question. It is absolutely ludicrous that it is advantageous for a Canadian producer to set up shop abroad in order to have more ready, cheaper access to the complete Canadian market than it is if the same producer were located in Ontario or British Columbia. It is a scandal. I do not see where it is in the interests of anyone in Canada to encourage companies to do that.

We must get together and realize that everyone is losing. If a company in Ontario which specializes in the production of a good and can produce it really cheaply and sell it at a low price to a government in Quebec, we are all better off when this takes place rather than when a producer in Quebec which produces at a much higher cost gets to supply the government with that product. Why? Because we know there are also producers of specialized products in Quebec that can produce more cheaply than anybody in Ontario. So when the Ontario government wishes to buy that product, it too will then be required to buy the cheapest, not just from the local producer in Ontario.

Both Ontario and Quebec residents would be better off because the products consumed by the government of those regions in most cases would get the product at a lower cost. The employment effects in one province would be matched by the employment effects in the other province.

Why this simple idea has not penetrated the minds of politicians in Canada is beyond me, even though I have sat here now for three years and talked to politicians.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act October 10th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I rise to support my colleagues and the government in passing this bill. I believe it will increase trade between the two countries and generally will serve the interests of both the people of Israel and the people of Canada.

However, I wish to deal with two objections which are normally raised whenever there are bilateral agreements between states or when there are agreements for regional free trade.

The first of these objections is that it diverts resources away from the pursuit of overall free trade. This is true enough. No government has infinite availability of experts to engage in trade negotiations. It would in my judgment be the best of all possible worlds if all trade barriers between all countries were removed.

However, generally I believe that the two targets of pursuing both bilateral trade barrier reductions and universal reductions in trade are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, while I would in a perfect world rather have completely free trade, I am satisfied that the negotiations of the Israel-Canada free trade agreement have not slowed down progress on obtaining completely free trade throughout the world through negotiations at the World Trade Organization.

However, there is a very interesting and important other objection that is often raised to bilateral agreements. It arose in the post-war years when the club of Rome led to the integration of the European economies. It involved a very subtle but interesting counter intuitive argument.

If free trade is good then is it possible that free trade between just two countries or within a region might in fact be bad and reduce world output and welfare? This is a strange puzzle, one when it was first developed by Jacob Viner in the 1930s. It almost threatened to paralyze all economic research. Here we have a world full of regulations, tariffs, domestic regulations and taxes, all of which are distorting the free allocation and the efficient allocation of resources as they would be in a completely free economy. Yet people thought for a long time that if we could go slowly in the reduction of such barriers, one at a time, by ultimately moving toward a completely free economy we would therefore be on a progressive movement toward increasing the efficiency of allocation of resources and therefore living standards of people in the world.

However, as Viner pointed out, that is not necessarily so. This was his argument. He framed it in the context of trade between two European countries but I will do it for the case of Israel. Let us assume for a moment that right now the tariffs facing imports into Israel both from Morocco and from Canada are the same and as a result, because Morocco is the cheapest producer of this product, trade is now taking place from Morocco importing into Israel and Canada is left out. Let us now consider that when the tariff barrier on that product comes down only on trade between Canada and

Israel, it is possible that the imports from Morocco are replaced by imports from Canada into Israel.

By definition, if previously when they both faced the same tariff barriers, the production of that product in Morocco was the least cost production location, the one which served the world best because Israel got its product at the lowest price, therefore shifting the production to Canada would mean a loss in productive efficiency for the world. This is called trade diversion. It is a negative aspect of moving in this world the way Canada did with Israel by reducing trade barriers through bilateral agreement.

Of course, there is another side to it. It can also be that the reduction in the tariff barrier means that now the production will be taking place between Israel and Canada, whereas before only Israel was producing the product. There were no imports at all.

To repeat, the alternative is the lowering of the tariff barrier and will result in the creation of trade between Canada and Israel, trade which previously did not exist. By definition again, the product that used to be produced at high cost behind the tariff barriers in Israel will now be produced at a much lower cost in Canada and shipped to Israel. That is what the free market says is done.

We face an empirical question: Are the benefits from trade creation greater or smaller than the benefits from trade diversion? It is not clear on purely logical grounds which of these effects will dominate.

We can see why in the presence of such a puzzle in the post war years economists were very upset. Logically, they could not say anything any more about the benefits of any form of deregulation, like the removal of tariff barriers, unless they had the empirical evidence on how much more trouble was created rather than the benefits that were created.

It turns out in an examination of the experience of the European Economic Community, trade creation by far outweighed trade diversion.

One of my students at Simon Fraser University wrote his doctoral dissertation on asking whether the Government of Pakistan had a net benefit from the greater growth that took place in Europe as a result of unification of the common market, the removal of tariff barriers between Germany and France and Italy, than it had because some of its exports to Germany were replaced by exports that previously were taken from France.

A careful study of trade patterns has shown that typically, trade creation outweighs trade diversion. I am personally convinced that

this will be the case with Israel as it has been in Europe and almost any other country that has been studied.

This effect is especially strong if at the same time the removal of the barriers takes place, trade is created and wealth increases. As countries get richer because of the more efficient allocation of resources, they will trade more. This dynamic effect, as it is called, of trade creation provides benefits that empirically have far outweighed the effects of trade diversion.

Nevertheless, in my own mind there remain some problems. I raised them with the people from the Department of Foreign Affairs when they briefed us on this bill. There have to be very tedious provisions for certification of the origin of goods that are being traded.

For example, since there is free trade between Israel and Canada but not between Pakistan and Canada, it is possible that Israel could lend itself simply to taking products produced in Pakistan that are transshipped through Israel and then, as a result of that, are moved into Canada without having to face trade restrictions that we as a country have imposed on Pakistan. Personally I think we are so rich that we should remove them all.

We have to face the fact that in the wisdom of this House many years ago, some barriers were put up to trade with Pakistan. We must somehow ensure they are maintained and are not circumvented in a surreptitious way through the use of Israel as a base to ship. As a result, there needs to be a bureaucratic mechanism to assure Canada that all the products exported from Israel to Canada are Israeli products.

That sounds fairly easy but the question is: What if a shirt comes from Pakistan but it has no buttons and no buttonholes and an Israeli factory makes the buttonholes, attaches the buttons and packages the shirt? Is it now a Pakistani product, or is it an Israeli product? This is one of the issues. Strict rules have to be put in place, which are thought through, codified and enforced, as to what level of value added in a country makes it okay to call the shirt an Israeli product rather than a Pakistani product.

We can see how complex all of this is. Some products may be coming from Europe. Complicated products may contain not just Pakistani input but German input, and we have free trade with Germany. There are all of those issues. One of the fears of people who oppose bilateral free trade is that the amount of bureaucracy with enforcement mechanisms and dispute resolution mechanisms is very costly indeed.

What we really need is to remove these discriminatory tariffs as they now exist where we give concessions to Israel but not to

Pakistan. If we had given our benefit of free trade on these products to Pakistan as well, this problem never would have arisen.

After looking at the evidence on all of those matters, I have concerns over the growth of bureaucratic enforcement mechanisms throughout the world, as Canada has bilateral agreements not just with Israel but also with the European Community and Latin American countries such as Chile and with NAFTA. It is becoming a bureaucratic nightmare.

There are certain influential professions which have very good lobbyists that benefit from all of this. They are the lawyers. They are the organizations that certify this is the right kind of origin, that this is okay. They will completely oppose free trade and say to go ahead with bilateral free trade.

I will discount arguments of this sort and suggest that we should continue to push along with as many bilateral free trade agreements as we can obtain. When we are through and have a bilateral agreement with every country, maybe then the time will come to say: Why maintain anything at all? Let us move to total free trade. That is my hope and this agreement is a step in that direction.