Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill because of the ramifications it will have, along with the NAFTA deal, the free trade deal, the MAI, APEX and all those other deals that governments past and present have made.
We would assume by listening to government members that the sun rises and sets on their current policies. They have repeated on several occasions that Bill C-11 was created in consultation with industry. Industry, industry, industry. If I am not mistaken, the government member who previously spoke said that five times. However, not once have I heard them say they have consulted the working people, labour groups, citizens groups or action groups. Any group having a leaning toward the social left was not consulted with respect to Bill C-11. That is typical of the government when it comes to modifying or altering current legislation.
If I may digress for a moment, a few years back this government did not like the regulations which governed the foreign sale of nuclear CANDU reactors. Literally overnight, with an order in council, it changed the trade regulations and the environmental regulations in order to sell two CANDU reactors to China.
I remind the House that China has one of the worst human rights records in the world today and yet this government, without consulting the House of Commons, without allowing proper debate, changed the environmental and trade regulations and sold the CANDU reactors to China. Organizations such as the Sierra Club have taken the government to court to fight those arrangements.
I could go on and list more spectacles of that nature. That is the despicable nature of the government.
Slowly, bit by bit, this government and previous Conservative governments have relinquished control to the corporate elite. I have said time and time again that I would much rather have an elected Bob Rae or an elected government official than I would an unelected Conrad Black. The reason I say that is that if people do not like an elected official, he or she will come up for election again in so many years, and the people can kick them out.
Elected officials have to listen to the concerns of the people whether they like them or not. An unelected corporate official does not have to listen to the people. They never have to attend meetings. They can totally ignore the wishes of the Canadian people.
I have held talks with members of the professional bankers association in my riding. They have indicated, as we have suspected for quite some time, that the big six banks will soon merge to become the big three. The bankers are saying that will happen because we cannot compete globally. That they can make $1 billion in six months is not good enough for them. Now they are saying we have to compete globally. Globally, globally, globally. That is all we ever hear.
What will happen to the thousands of people working in the banking institutions? What will happen to them years down the road? What kind of jobs will we be able to offer our children? Are there going to be any jobs?
The hon. member from Saskatchewan indicated that we should be working toward the benefit and health of our children. Our children are our most valuable resource.
During the wars and after the wars this country produced all kinds of equipment, machinery and products. For example, the world's largest gypsum mine borders on my riding. Ninety per cent of the gypsum is shipped out of Canada, into the United States, turned into gyproc, and we turn around and buy it back. That is insanity. There could be hundreds of jobs created in my riding if there were a gypsum board factory. That would be tremendous.
We do the same thing with whole logs. We ship them to countries like Japan when we could be manufacturing those logs in Canada today. We could be creating thousands and thousands of jobs.
The Minister for International Trade, through the Economic Development Corporation, is giving $285 million to a firm to set up a pulp mill in Indonesia. That is another country with a terrible human rights record.
We give it $285 million to build a pulp mill so it can compete with our pulp mills in Canada. We have pulp mill workers in Skeena, which is represented by the Reform, and I have yet to hear a Reform member stand up on behalf of those working people out there.
They have to give labour concessions and more wage cuts and more benefit cuts in order to compete through the government's turning around and giving millions of dollars to another country to compete with ours, and not just a country with a good record, a country that has some of the worst human rights records in history.
The APEC deal is coming around, and who do we invite with open arms and the red carpet? Soeharto, one of the vilest people on the planet, and Canada is going to sit there and welcome him with open arms.
I wish I had brought the picture with me that I had taken a few years ago of the defeated minister of health, Mr. David Dingwall, who was soundly defeated in the riding of Cape Breton. He could not wait when the premier of China, Li Peng, the butcher of Beijing, came to Canada in his big 747 to the Halifax airport.
Members should have seen Mr. Dingwall tripping over everybody, pushing away security guards in order to get in that limousine and have his picture taken with the butcher of Beijing. Those kinds of attitudes in this Liberal government are still there.
Liberals are willing to sell their souls to anybody in this country or anybody in the world willing to pay, without proper debate and without consultation of the House of Commons.
I recently referred members to the CPP bill, one of the most damaging pieces of legislation ever in Canadian history. Whether someone is for or against it is really not the question. The question is that we should be having proper debate on something that affects every single Canadian.
What does the hon. House leader do after only seven hours of debate? He shuts it off. He invokes closure. He uses the majority, by the way only a slim majority, of the government officials to defeat the debate. To us that is simply scandalous.
What is this government afraid of? Why is it not willing to talk to Canadians, all Canadians, not just industry but labour groups, other opposition parties, to form political solutions to the political problems that we have today?
It is unbelievable to those Canadians outside Parliament that this government and former governments would continue on this path of hide and seek policies every time.
We kept hearing when free trade was talked about that it would be good for Canadians. It was not good enough. We have to have NAFTA. That is going to be good for Canadians. No, no, that's not good enough either. We have to go one step further.
APEC really is not anything, just some sort of agreement among economies and businesses, not countries; no human rights legislation, no protection for working people, none, just sort of business deals.
But that is not good enough. Now we have the mother of all trade deals coming down, the MAI. I remind members that if not for the leader of the New Democrats, this deal may already have been passed, as this deal was silently being passed through without any consultation with the House of Commons.
During the campaign she mentioned this deal and all of a sudden the government said “Hold off, the cat is out of the bag now. We are going to have to reluctantly discuss this with the House of Commons”. I cannot wait for the day when that debate comes around. It goes on and on.
I think back to a movie I saw in the early 1970s, “Rollerball”, in which there were no governments and the world was being dominated by five corporations. The corporations were fighting among each other for total control of the planet. I cannot understand why elected officials would relinquish their control through legislation and allow corporations to take over and take over.
I remind members in the War of 1812 we won. We won the sovereignty of our country. We won the solidarity of working people throughout this country from coast to coast to coast, the French and English together.
Jonathan Winters said in a stand-up comic routine “We Americans, gee, we hope we can take you peacefully”. They are doing a very good job of it right now. They are taking us over economically, and what is happening?
There are literally millions of workers in this country who do not even know if they are going to have a job next week. Probably every labour aspect and every trade union have had to go before their employers. Their employers have had to go to them. It is becoming not just protection or improvements to collective agreements but givebacks and takeaways and further wage cuts, downsizing, restructuring, this and that and this. We have had over 80 months with unemployment rates of over 9%. We had heard that free trade was going to cure that problem. We had heard that NAFTA was going to cure that problem. We hear now that the MAI is going to cure that problem. We now hear that Bill C-11 is going to cure that problem. Government had to get rid of the manufacturers sales tax. The former Tory government said we absolutely had to get rid of that and place the burden of taxation away from corporations and on individuals.
What happened in Atlantic Canada? Lo and behold, the Liberals get elected. Eleven Liberals from the province of Nova Scotia are elected. Off they go to the House of Commons. I can see all 11 of them sitting there and agreeing like this: “You know Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Finance Minister, the GST really isn't hitting those people hard enough. I think we should impose another tax on them called the HST”, or as we prefer it, the BST. “It is no longer acceptable to pay 8% or 9% or combined percentages of rates. We now have to hit them with 15%”.
I remind the House that in three provinces of Atlantic Canada we pay more for postage stamps than anywhere else in this country. That is just one slight example of the scandalous treatment of Atlantic Canadians. It goes on and on. The HST is the most regressive tax ever to hit pensioners on lower incomes and people with low wages.
It is just incredible that government would shift the burden of taxation away from corporations that make record profits year after year and place the burden of taxation on to individuals. It blows me absolutely away.
I could stand here all day and mention example after example but I will cut my speech short and say once and for all that I wish the government, instead of listening to its friends on the corporate world, would start to listen to ordinary working Canadians, those from labour and social action groups, to come up with the solutions we need for today.