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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Willowdale (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Census October 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has been the most divisive that we can remember. What irony then that the government has managed to unite Canadians against it. Ontario and Quebec are in this together. They said, “We believe that the decision by the federal government to eliminate the census long form was a mistake”.

Ontario and Quebec are pleading with the government to reinstate the long form census. What is the government's answer to Ontario and Quebec?

Instruction to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs September 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House in support of the motion. In that regard, I commend my colleague from Wellington—Halton Hills for putting it forward.

I am proud to have been asked by my colleague to second his motion. I am even more proud to have done so and to have been one of only many members from all different parties to do so. The feedback I have received from my constituents in response to the motion and to our collective support for it has been positive and vociferous.

I am also pleased to see the attention that this issue has garnered among the media and the people who watch us. This is an opportunity for the media and those watching to take this in the right spirit and perhaps pay attention to the fact that we can engage in positive debate and do not necessarily focus on the negative.

I will speak at committee about the specifics of the motion, which will be a wonderful opportunity. Our party certainly encourages moving this to committee.

I also suggest that there is something more fundamental here. I will recall the words of the current Speaker when he was seeking re-election as Speaker the last time. Quite a number of people were running for the august office of Speaker of the House. Candidate after candidate promised to ensure there would be more decorum in the House. Everyone agreed that was necessary. It was encouraging to hear them say that.

I will never forget what the current Speaker said when he spoke about what he wanted to do as Speaker. He acknowledged that decorum had deteriorated. He turned to all of us in this chamber and said, “I recognize that you are asking the Speaker to be responsible for it, but the responsibility for decorum in this House lies with all of you”. It struck me that this was exactly right. It is our collective responsibility.

Each one of us has the opportunity to show individually and collectively that we do not necessarily have to engage in partisan attacks and personal insults. We have the opportunity to engage in debate with respect and civility. We have the opportunity to listen to each other in this place. Heaven knows, if we manage to engage in debate with respect and civility and we manage to listen to each other from time to time, we just may learn from each other. That would enhance not only the decorum in the House, but the progress of government in its entirety.

I reiterate my personal support for the motion. My colleagues and I speak on behalf of our party in terms of our support for it. Again, I commend my colleague from Wellington—Halton Hills for moving this forward. I look forward to having good, positive discussions in committee. I also look forward to hearing this chamber engaging in much more decorous, civil and respectful debate.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act September 29th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I would simply like to ask my colleague whether the Bloc members are dead set against this agreement. Perhaps in committee we could try to determine where the problems are and fix them. Can my colleague tell me whether his party is completely unwilling to discuss this in committee? Perhaps there is a way to amend the agreement to address the issues my colleague spoke about.

Will the Bloc Québécois completely reject this bill or will it participate in committee discussions?

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act September 29th, 2010

Madam Speaker, of course we are concerned about fair trade. Of course we are concerned about human rights. I will say two things. That is exactly the kind of thing I look forward to having discussed at committee. That is exactly what the committee process is for, but I will also say that we do not rely just on the fact of specific words in a specific agreement or a side agreement. We of course do that. That is why we do them. That is why we encourage agreements on labour specifically. That is why we encourage agreements on the environment. We want to have those agreements. They are part of the discussion.

However, I cannot stress enough to my colleague that the fundamental philosophy we have here is that when we engage in free trade, the freer trade encourages a freer flow of information, a freer flow of ideas, a freer exchange of people, whether it is through business, whether it is through clients or whether it is through education exchanges that are spurred on by those business activities.

The situation in Panama in terms of labour rights and all of the things that happen domestically is up to Panamanians. The opportunity Canada has is to open those doors and windows wider so that we can engage even more fully. The people of Panama can themselves see the opportunities and the examples that Canada has to show. Again, as I said in my speech, not in some paternalistic way, not with some we know best attitude, but by showing by example there are opportunities for improvement and that it is not just coming from specific language and specific agreements, it comes from the entire philosophy that greater engagement will encourage greater exchange of people, of ideas, of information. That will give Canada and Canadians an opportunity in their engagement with Panama and Panamanians to have the Panamanians look for improvements wherever those improvements can be found.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act September 29th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. I do not believe that we are moving too quickly in concluding these free trade agreements.

The Liberal Party is in favour of free trade and agrees with concluding free trade agreements with more countries. What bothers me is that the government is concluding such agreements with smaller economies that do not necessarily represent the best opportunities for Canada.

In my speech I said that Canada was not really involved in China's economy. What is happening in China is incredible and yet the Conservative government is not doing much with that country.

The United States is the largest foreign economy we trade with. That country makes an effort to protect its market, which can make life difficult for Canadian companies. I therefore do not believe that the government is trying to conclude other free trade agreements too quickly, but I do take issue with what it is not doing.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act September 29th, 2010

Madam Speaker, God forbid that I should presume to speak for the minister in this regard, so I will not.

My colleague has raised a legitimate concern. The minister mentioned the fact that Panama had agreed to make significant movements in this regard. However, I would suggest for my colleague that this is exactly the type of thing we look forward to discussing when the bill gets to the international trade committee. I look forward to the member's contribution in that regard during those discussions.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act September 29th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his graciousness in welcoming me as his new critic for international trade.

I rise to speak today in support of Bill C-46, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Panama and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Panama, and to having it reviewed at committee.

I am pleased to participate in a debate that, unusually for this House in recent times, should be relatively free of heated partisan rhetoric. As the representative of the official opposition, we support the passing of this bill for many of the same reasons that members sitting on the government's side of the House support it.

Indeed, this is the second time in only three days that we have had this opportunity. It mirrors our recent debate on similar trade agreements with Jordan, which have now been referred to committee. We should take advantage of these opportunities to agree when they come along, as they so rarely do.

However, I will also be raising some concerns about the government's lack of action on increasing U.S. protectionism and its failure to seize trade opportunities in China, South Korea, and other countries.

Canada is now experiencing the first trade deficits it has seen in 30 years. Indeed, the country set a trade-deficit record this July, $2.7 billion. Something is going seriously wrong and we must challenge the government hard on why this is and what we can do about it.

I will also mention that, although we in the Liberal Party want to see even harder work on multilateral trade negotiations, we also recognize the practicalities and challenges this task entails. In the absence of progress on the multilateral level, we in the Liberal Party encourage Canada to work at the bilateral level to enhance our trade with as many other countries as possible.

Canada is a nation that supports free trade. Our origins are those of a trading nation, starting with fur, wood, and other natural resources. The portion of our economic activity attributable to trade is greater than that of most other nations. Indeed, 80% of our economy and millions of Canadian jobs depend upon trade and our ability to access foreign markets.

Canadian exporters benefit from the reduction and elimination of tariffs on their goods destined for other countries. Canadian manufacturers benefit from the reduction and elimination of tariffs at the Canadian border of the various materials that go into their products. Canadian consumers benefit from lower prices of imported goods when tariffs on those goods are reduced or eliminated.

Although there will always be debate about protectionism and what steps best promote Canadian business success and generate Canadian jobs, most Canadian businesses that serve domestic markets benefit from free trade in being forced to innovate and compete with others from abroad, provided that those abroad comply with international rules on trade, tariffs, and non-tariff barriers.

In the long run, Canadian businesses are more than capable of being strong, innovative, and competitive without hiding behind protectionist walls.

I am proud to rise here today to take part in this debate and show my support, on behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, for Bill C-46, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Panama and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Panama.

The Conservative government's mismanagement of Canada's trade relations has led to the first trade deficits we have seen in over 30 years. We need to increase our efforts and our engagement in order to improve the situation and increase international trade between Canada and other countries around the world.

Canada depends on trade. It is worth noting that 80% of our economy relies on access to export markets. The Liberal Party supports the principle of free trade, and it also supports any initiatives that will improve access to foreign markets for Canadian businesses. Although Panama has a small economy and Canada's existing trade with that country is relatively limited, there are opportunities for Canadian businesses.

In 2008, Panama had one of the highest real GDP growth rates in the Americas at 10.7%. Despite the global economic downturn, Panama posted positive growth in 2009 at 2.4%, a trend that is expected to continue in 2010.

The expansion of the Panama Canal is currently under way and is slated to be completed by 2014 at a projected cost of $5.3 billion. This expansion is expected to generate opportunities for Canadian companies in such areas as infrastructure and construction, as well as environmental, heavy engineering and consulting services, capital projects, human capital development and construction materials.

Like the free trade agreements between Canada, Chile and Costa Rica, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the free trade agreement with Jordan, the Canada-Panama free trade agreement includes side agreements on labour co-operation and the environment.

The Canada-Panama labour co-operation agreement recognizes both countries’ obligations under the International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which requires both countries to ensure that laws, regulations and national practices protect the following rights: the right to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced labour and the elimination of discrimination.

The Canada-Panama labour co-operation agreement and the agreement on the environment both include complaints and dispute resolution processes that enable members of the public to request an investigation into perceived failures of Canada or Panama to comply with these agreements.

The free trade agreement with Panama is another opportunity to increase access to more markets for Canadian farmers and business.

Yes, Panama is a relatively small economy. In 2009 we exported $90 million in goods to the country, which is not as large as with some trading partners. It is, however, a stable country which has made significant progress in recent years in terms of development and democracy, which Canada is well-placed to continue to encourage.

In spite of the global economic downturn, Panama's GDP grew at 10.7% in 2008, one of the highest in the Americas, and is forecast at 5.6% for 2010. In 2009 bilateral trade between the two countries totalled $132.1 million, Canadian exports making up $91.4 million of that and imports, $40.7 million.

Primary Canadian merchandise exports to Panama include machinery, vehicles, electronic equipment, pharmaceutical equipment, pulses and frozen potato products. Canadian service exports include financial services, engineering, information and communications technology services. Merchandise imports from Panama include precious stones and metals, mainly gold, fruits and nuts, fish and seafood products.

The existing Panama Canal, vital for the international trading system, is undergoing a massive expansion, with completion slated for 2014. The $5.3 billion expansion is already generating business for Canadian companies in construction, environmental, engineering and consulting services, capital projects and more, and is expected to generate even more over the next while, helped by this free trade agreement.

Canada will immediately eliminate over 99% of its tariffs on current imports from Panama.

The free trade agreement also addresses non-tariff barriers by adopting measures to ensure non-discriminatory treatment of imported goods, promoting good regulatory practices, transparency and the use of international standards.

On labour and environment, like most of Canada's free trade agreements, this free trade agreement includes agreements on the environment and labour co-operation that will help promote sustainability and protect labour rights. The Canada-Panama labour co-operation agreement recognizes both countries' obligations under the International Labour Organization, the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, including the protection of the following rights: the right to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour and the elimination of discrimination.

Both the labour co-operation agreement and the agreement on the environment include complaints and dispute resolution processes that enable members of the public to request an investigation to perceived failures of either Canada or Panama to comply with these agreements.

I have a few words on human rights.

Although it is not the issue here, as it was in the debate over free trade with Colombia, the question of human rights will always come up in the House when we debate free trade agreements, and rightly so, sometimes more than others. As I have said in the House a number of times, it is a good thing that Canadian members of Parliament are concerned about international human rights and I have noted that, regardless of what party we sit for, we all want full human rights for everyone around the world.

We do, however, from time to time disagree on what Canada can do to further that goal. Some of my colleagues will say that putting up walls and preventing more open trade and engagement will somehow help, that somehow, Canada wagging its finger at other states rather than fully engaging will miraculously be listened to. I am afraid that that is not how the world works.

Freer trade encourages freer flow of information and freer flows of ideas. Rather than building walls, freer trade opens windows through which light gets in and opens doors through which Canadians can engage on all sorts of levels with others. If we isolate a country, our capacity to engage in human rights is in fact reduced.

Economic engagement increases our ability to engage in other areas, such as education and culture. All of that engagement increases the capacity to engage in the area of human rights. It gives Canadians a greater opportunity, through businesspeople, customers, clients and other engagements that can flow from those relationships, to show by example, not in a paternalistic, finger-wagging, we-know-best attitude, but rather showing by examples how things work so well for us in Canada and our willingness to share, on a friendly basis, those examples.

As I have said many times, it is the citizens of a particular state who are responsible for improvements in their state, not Canada. Canadians have a wonderful opportunity to engage with those citizens, in exposing what works in other parts of the world, in particular here, where we are proud of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our successfully pluralistic society and our peace, order and good government approach to governance.

Although we do not have the heightened level of concern with respect to Panama as we had with Colombia, I will take the opportunity to commend my Liberal colleague, the member for Kings—Hants, my predecessor in the role of critic for international trade, for the excellent work he did with the human rights amendment to the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. Under that Liberal-negotiated deal, Canada and Colombia must publicly measure the impact to free trade on human rights in both countries, the first trade deal in the world that requires ongoing human rights impact assessments. Again, I commend my colleague from Kings—Hants for his excellent work in this regard.

All of this goes to my support and my party's support for Bill C-46 and the free trade agreement with Panama. Greater economic engagement helps us all economically, for more jobs and more prosperity for Canada, yes, but for both countries, and free trade is, in this case, a win-win opportunity.

At this point, however, I wish to highlight some real concerns about the Conservative government's approach to international trade. We are losing the concept of free trade with our biggest trading partner to the south, the United States. When the recession hit, the United States government responded with protectionism, in putting forth its buy American policies and tighter rules. The Conservative government initially stood by watching, as if it did not know what hit it. It engaged in photo ops in Washington, not realizing the battle needed to be fought all across the states, at the state level.

By the time a so-called exemption was worked out, which in and of itself required significant concessions by Canadian provinces, the protectionism in the United States had already hurt many Canadian businesses, costing Canadian jobs. Even the so-called exemption only covers 37 states, a great example of how it is not just Washington that must be engaged.

Despite our vociferous efforts to get the Conservative government to engage much more forcefully at the state level, the government just did not seem to understand either the whats of the negative effects on Canadian business, or the hows of fixing the problem, and here we are again. The United States is threatening more protectionist legislation, the foreign manufacturers legal accountability act, which although not technically aimed at Canada, would significantly hurt many Canadian businesses and affect many Canadian jobs.

However, the minister's response was no action whatsoever. Instead he says, "Gee, it's too bad, we're always collateral damage in the battles between the United States and China”. Then he says, “We're hoping that it does not reach the vote state before the U.S. elections”. Then he says, “If it passes, we'll probably seek an exemption for Canadian companies”.

With all respect, it simply is not enough to dismiss Canada as collateral damage, or to merely hope that protectionist legislation will not pass. Just like last time, we urge the government to get its hands dirty, to get on the ground, not only in Washington but across the states, to ensure that Canada is exempted from this very damaging proposed legislation before it happens. Canadian businesses need something done to prevent this from happening, not just some vague hopes and prayers.

I also want to use this opportunity in the debate on the merits of free trade to exhort the government to do much more in its dealings with China, South Korea and others. I acknowledge the announcement and production of the report this last week between Canada and India, and I am encouraged this as moving in the right direction. However, having just returned from China and Korea, I am overwhelmed by the growth, the size, the pace and the scale of what is happening over there. At the same time, I am dismayed by how little the Canadian government is doing to capitalize on the extraordinary growth and scale that presents such fantastic opportunities for so many Canadians.

There are incredible investments being made in infrastructure, water, sewage treatment and public transit. We have been told repeatedly by the Chinese that they are looking for green technology, for forestry products, for investments in the financial services industries. There are tremendous opportunities for trade in educational services, in co-operation and engagement not just at the Canada-China level, but provincially and municipally. My colleagues should understand that I do not suggest for a minute that the federal government impinge upon those jurisdictions, but rather stress that we in Canada could work much more co-operatively and productively by engaging all orders of government in a concerted effort to take much more advantage of the opportunities that these extraordinary economies offer to Canadians.

We in the Liberal Party have stressed and will continue to stress the importance of Canada in the world. In support of this, we have proposed the concept of global networks. We say that the older, simpler concept of trade and commerce on its own, of simple export and import of goods and services, should be expanded to include all kinds of engagement on all levels, such as education, culture and environmental co-operation, a much greater engagement, a much broader engagement, and exchange of people and ideas.

Canada should be taking advantage of these extraordinary opportunities that the world and other growing, bustling economies and societies offer, opportunities which the Conservative government just does not seem to understand.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a simple question.

Does he agree with our NDP colleague, who seems to be saying that international trade talks and efforts to enter into multilateral or bilateral agreements cause problems and that we should instead focus on diplomacy.

I believe that engaging in foreign trade provides more opportunities to engage in diplomacy. I was somewhat troubled by what our NDP colleague said. He seemed to be saying that they may not necessarily be mutually exclusive but that they may not lend themselves to being carried out at the same time.

I would like to know what my Bloc Québécois colleague has to say about that.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, there are two issues that my colleague brought up and I would like him elaborate on them. One is this ongoing concern about bilateral agreements instead of multilateral agreements. As my colleague acknowledged, the Doha round collapsed. We are not in a position now where multilateral agreements are being pursued with any real effectiveness, certainly not in the larger scale of Doha. Therefore, I would like my colleague to address the issue that bilateral agreements somehow will create a barrier to further multilateral agreements and negotiations. He might try to take an more positive view of bilateral agreements in addition to promoting trade. The pursuit of bilateral agreements may in fact provide stepping stones for future multilateral agreements and that they are not necessarily inconsistent.

My second part of the second would be this continued concern about trade versus diplomacy. Freer trade allows freer exchange of information and ideas. How on earth could that possibly be inconsistent with pursuing diplomacy? I would really like my colleague to talk a bit about why he thinks trade and diplomacy are inconsistent. He might again look at the positive view of this and see increased trade as that opportunity to engage in the increased opportunity of communication so we can engage in further diplomacy.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the speech and discussion from my colleague from Don Valley East. I was particularly interested in her discussion on the trade opportunities and the lack of trade that we have now, and therefore the lack of effort that the current government has taken to take advantage of the trade opportunities in Africa and with African countries. Perhaps she could elaborate on how the free trade agreement that is proposed with Jordan could set an example for increased trade with some of the African countries.

I know we have talked a bit about the need for multilateral agreements, but in recognition that those are not achievable in the way that we would hope in the near future, that there are other opportunities. I would very much like my colleague to address that if she could.