Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all my colleagues of every political affiliation in the House of Commons for participating in the debate, whether or not they support Bill C-574. This bill was introduced in the House in 2010 and was defeated at second reading.
The forestry sector has been devastated by massive job losses across Canada and Quebec, caused mainly by the recession, the global economy, the stronger Canadian dollar and the structural decline in the demand for paper documents. These no longer exist today because newspapers are going online.
Why did we introduce this bill? It is because in my area, many sawmills and plants have closed and many paper machines have been shut down. In Chambord, a plant has been closed for years. That is why we brought back this bill.
Today, there are many things on the market that promote innovation, new products and new technologies. I realize that the Conservative government has helped the forestry industry, but it could do more.
If the government has given many millions of dollars to this sector, why have so many plants in Canada closed? I do not see how Bill C-574 would violate Canada's obligations under national and international trade agreements such as NAFTA, the WTO Agreement and the Agreement on Internal Trade.
Canadian wood was never specifically identified in the bill, because we did not want the bill to be prejudicial to anyone. Today, we want to use it to construct buildings that are less than seven storeys high and to repair federal buildings.
For example, if the House of Commons chamber were renovated, I would like wood to be used instead of steel. That is the goal of our bill: we want to use wood.
On the weekend I went to watch a hockey tournament in a building made of steel, concrete that had beautiful wood ceilings. All three materials can be used together to build nice buildings. Back home, such buildings are built for tourism and industry. People who come to La Baie on cruise ships can see these beautiful concrete and wood buildings. The materials can be used together.
We never asked that the government be required to choose wood during the bidding process. We simply want it to choose the least expensive option from among wood, steel and concrete. If steel is the least expensive, the decision will not be a hard one.
Back home, a lot of buildings have been built using all of the materials. This has created jobs for a number of employees of plants that were shut down. This contributes to sustainable development. The government should take into account costs and greenhouse gas emissions when Public Works and Government Services Canada solicits bids.
The Conservative government said that it would oppose the bill, but I would like to quote from a 2011 interview with my colleague from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, who is also a minister. He said that he wanted to promote the use of wood in the construction of public buildings. I will quote the whole paragraph:
In the coming months, it will be important to introduce bills to encourage the use of wood in public buildings, while also ensuring that current federal and provincial codes can fully meet requirements. That way, our engineers and architects can take wood into account when doing their calculations and the professionals already in operation will have the means, tools, software and techniques to safely carry out these projects using wood.
The Conservatives are opposing the bill, but in 2011 the minister said that the government needed to encourage the use of wood.
We need to encourage the use of wood throughout Canada and Quebec. The plants that have closed could reopen, there could be renovations and the industry could get up and running again. Instead of investing millions that only translate into closures, the government should require that people use wood for their repairs. Anything is possible. The bill's wording may not be very broad, but that was our intention. The same bill was introduced in 2010. MPs rejected the bill at second reading, but in any case, I am pleased to have discussed this topic with my work colleagues.