Mr. Speaker, the members for Scarborough—Guildwood and Dartmouth—Cole Harbour have already spoken very eloquently to this question, as have others I will just add a few brief comments from my own perspective.
Once we lived in a disconnected world, protected by distance, geography, oceans, mountains and deserts. Once governments and corporations could do anything they wanted, wherever they wanted to do it without any real consequences. That is no longer the case.
Now we live in a very connected world. Economic problems do not respect borders or distance nor do greenhouse gases, disease or security. What we do in one place as governments and corporations affects all of us at home in our place. That is the reality of the global world in which we live.
As to the impact of corporations on international relations, let us look at the history of the last 50 years, at the last century and more in Central America, South America, Africa and the Middle East and at what some companies have left behind. As the member for Ottawa South has said, they have left tailings and environment degradation, but some companies have also left a resentment toward the home countries of those companies that many years and decades later still define the relationship between those two countries, still define the understandings that those citizens have of those foreign countries.
Those are immense consequences for all of us, not just the companies, to deal with. It is those realities that are behind the need for Bill C-300.
About two years ago, I was in Sudan and Darfur and, like everyone else, I was haunted by Darfur. I tried to imagine what possible resolution there might be to its ongoing tragedy. What was so clear and so frustrating was the capacity of a country, Sudan, and its president, no matter the vehemence of world opinion, to do what it wanted to do if it wanted to do it with no real transforming consequences, to bog down, to distract with false hope, to wear out the patience, whatever, to do what it wanted to do.
Every governmental representative I spoke with from Canada and from other countries and every NGO said the same thing, that they were having no real impact on changing President Bashir's direction.
Only one country and one company could have an impact if they choose to do something and that country was China and the company was the state company of China Petroleum. Almost 80% of Sudan's GDP came from oil and the great majority of its oil goes to China Petroleum.
With China and China Petroleum's ongoing support, despite other sanctions and despite being charged by the International Criminal Court, Bashir knows he can continue on. What will be the results for Africa, for the world and for China's future in Africa? There are consequences of our global and corporate actions halfway around the world, and big consequences for the future.
One other thing I heard again and again in Sudan and Darfur was, “Where's Canada?” Beyond the aid offered, where was the voice, the diplomatic voice with those of many other nations that was needed to help bring this situation toward a human resolution?
What I kept hearing was that Canada had no idea how influential it was, that we had no history as a colonizer, no history of intervening or imposing on other nations, militarily or economically, and that we had no real history of exploiting and taking advantage of local governments and local populations. They trust us and know they can work with us. They know our reputation and it is a well-earned reputation. Our reputation is precious and it matters. It matters now and it will matter in the future.
In this global world, nobody is really the big guy. Even the United States, with all of its power, economically and militarily, nobody is truly that big and that powerful in a global world.
Our challenge for the future, even more than economic, environmental or security, is the challenge of getting along, and that means working with others and talking, listening, negotiating and compromising. That means trusting and being trusted.
That is our history and our instinct. That is our reputation and we cannot put it at risk. What Canadian companies do outside our borders matters. It matters to Canadians and it matters to the world, which is why Bill C-300 matters.