October 25, 1979

LIB

Thomas Lefebvre (Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. Thomas H. Lefebvre (Pontiac-Gatineau-Labelle):

Mr. Speaker, we all realize why the parliamentary secretary has been asked to do this. He mentioned it in his request, so that the postponement is not put under the request of the government. Under the rules, if these bills are asked for twice in the name of the government, they cannot come back.

We will agree with this, provided the Chair and members of the House realize that from time to time there may be members on this side of the House who will have bills in the order which come up for discussion when those members are away for very valid reasons. 1 should remind the House that

Foreign Economic Boycotts

we would expect the same courtesy from the parliamentary secretary, who cannot divorce himself from his duties in representing the government. Therefore, we would agree, but I hope the Chair and the House remembers that it could happen to members of the official opposition or of the other parties as well.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   FOREIGN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT REQUESTS REPORTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING OF INFORMATION
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PC

Fred Alward McCain (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McCain):

Is there unanimous consent that the record shall show Bill C-201 and Bill C-202 have been stood by unanimous consent?

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   FOREIGN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT REQUESTS REPORTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING OF INFORMATION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   FOREIGN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT REQUESTS REPORTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING OF INFORMATION
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PC

Fred Alward McCain (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McCain):

The record shall be changed to record the two changes as requested and approved.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   FOREIGN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT REQUESTS REPORTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING OF INFORMATION
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NDP

David Orlikow

New Democratic Party

Mr. David Orlikow (Winnipeg North):

Mr. Speaker, as I listened to the hon. member for York Centre (Mr. Kaplan) I did not know whether to laugh or cry, because his recounting of the history of this bill was very selective, to say the least.

It is true that Bill C-203 is exactly the same as Bill C-32 which was introduced in the last session of the last Parliament by the then minister of industry, trade and commerce, Mr. Horner. Also it is true that at one point there was agreement on the part of opposition parties to let the bill go through. I will not thrash old straw as to why it did not go through, but the only reason there was agreement to let that bill go through, without extensive debate on the part of a number of opposition members, was that we knew very well the then government had no real desire to get anti-boycott legislation on the books.

The bill introduced by the government of the day was the most to which that government would agree. What that bill did in the last Parliament, and what the bill now before us does, is simply to require individuals or companies, which co-operate with countries involved in boycott operations against Canadian citizens or Canadian companies, to report it to the government, and the government would make it public. There would be no penalty, there would be no censor except publicity.

In the last session we agreed to let that bill through quickly because it was the best we could get. I know the hon. member for Windsor West (Mr. Gray) was unhappy with the meagreness of that bill, and I assume the hon. member for York Centre was unhappy. Now that he is no longer a member on the government side, I would have thought he would have brought forward a bill which would really do the job. The bill before the House does not really do anything.

I recognize that we are dealing with a very difficult situation. One cannot live in the late 1970s and not realize the tremendous power which oil-producing countries have in our modern industrialized world. One just has to look at the difficulties in which the Prime Minister (Mr. Clark) and his government have become involved as a result of the Prime Minister's pledge, when he was leader of the official opposition, to move the Canadian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We recognize the difficulties. It might sound like hindsight, but I say to the government whip who has spoken on this

October 25, 1979

Foreign Economic Boycotts

bill that 1 wished at the time, and I still wish, the then leader of the official opposition, the present Prime Minister, had not made that proposal.

I hope I am wrong, but everything I have read to date, and the speech I heard by the government whip today, confirmed my fears that because of the very active opposition of the Arab countries to the proposal to move the embassy, hostility will be expressed in the same manner and to the same degree if there is a proposal to implement real anti-boycott legislation. I hope I am wrong and I hope time will prove me wrong, but I am afraid the government will backtrack on the kind of approach it had when in opposition. The government whip shakes his head. I will be the first one to congratulate those on that side if time proves me wrong.

Let us just spend a few minutes considering why we need boycott legislation. I want to say to the government whip that we agree with him completely when he suggests that legislation should not single out any country or any group of countries. That was not the case in the old Bill C-32 proposed by the then minister of industry, trade and commerce, or Bill C-203 proposed by the hon. member for York Centre, or the case in respect of my Bill C-288. My bill is quite a way down the list and I think it is a much better bill. I do not say that because I have any pride in its authorship. Indeed, it is almost word for word the same as legislation enacted by the province of Ontario, which now has Premier Davis, and has had a Conservative government for more than 30 years.

I agree with the government whip that no legislation should single out one country or any group of countries. If we are going to have legislation of this kind, what we want is legislation that applies to everybody in the same way. What we want is legislation which protects the rights of Canadian individuals and companies, and protects them from being discriminated against because of race, colour or creed, or because they do business with one country or another.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, let me say that we are discussing this kind of a bill because there is an Arab boycott against Israel. That boycott has existed since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948; and since 1973 and the sharp increase in the price of oil, together with the fact that Arab countries control so much of the world's oil supply, that boycott has become much more formidable. It operates at several levels.

The primary boycott is a direct boycott of Israel by the Arab states, by which they refuse to do business with the state of Israel. Canada is not involved in that boycott and has no role to play in it. That is their business, Mr. Speaker.

The secondary boycott is an attempt by Arab states, firms and individuals to pressure firms of other countries, in this case Canada, to refrain from dealing with Israel, or to end certain relationships with Israel, as a condition of trade with Arab states, firms or individuals. This, in effect, compels a Canadian boycott of a country with which Canada has friendly relations and against which Canada has not itself authorized a

boycott. We say that is improper if carried on by another country. Another country should not be interfering with the rights of Canadian citizens or companies.

The tertiary boycott is an attempt to prevent firms of other countries, in this case Canada, from dealing with firms of their own or other non-involved countries because of the latter firm's relationship with Israel, as a condition of doing business with Arab states, firms or individuals.

The secondary and tertiary boycotts constitute direct interference in Canadian economic affairs by the extra-territorial application of Arab laws and regulations. That is what so many people in Canada object to, and we feel that no country has the right to tell us what to do.

As far back as 1975 the then prime minister expressed the views of most Canadians, here in Parliament, when on May 8 of that year he said:

I think it is sufficient to say that this type of practice is alien to everything the government stands for and indeed to what in general Canadian ethics stand for.

Having said that, the then government completely ignored the feelings of the prime minister and simply refused to take any action to implement those feelings and views expressed by the prime minister. Repeated requests for such legislation were ignored or turned down. Requests that companies involved or co-operating with a boycott by the Arab countries should have that information publicized were turned down. It was not until the dying days of the last Parliament, when seized with the realization that there was an election coming and they might have to account to certain groups for their failure to act, did the then government bring forth a bill, to which the hon. member for York Centre has referred and copied.

What does that bill do, Mr. Speaker? That bill simply says that any government or any company in Canada which cooperates in a boycott with another country-we are talking about the Arab countries, but it would be true of any other- should be required by law to report that co-operation to the Government of Canada which would then publicize it. We know from experience that even if we required that, there would be no penalties. Companies would be free to do that. They would get a little bad publicity, but many Canadian companies are used to bad publicity. They get bad publicity when they are found guilty of breaching the anti-combines law. They get bad publicity on many occasions. The desire to make a profit would, I am sure, persuade many companies and many individuals to get involved and co-operate.

It is clear that the former government's frequently reiterated commitment to combatting boycott-related discrimination has become a charade. In the three or four years since the former prime minister stated that the boycott was alien to everything the government stood for, concerned groups and individuals attempted to persuade that government that firm and explicit policies were needed to prevent serious infringement of Canadian sovereignty and human rights. That government contented itself with meaningless statements and some halfhearted policy guidelines which served to obscure the issues and confuse the corporate community. Instead of showing

October 25, 1979

more courage, that Government of Canada chose to dodge the issue.

We have to face up to the issue. I am not suggesting for a moment that this is an easy problem. In fact I know there would be some retaliation on the part of some Arab states.

When we talk about real legislation, I should point out that the bill on the order paper in my name is almost identical to a bill enacted by the legislative assembly of Ontario, brought forward by a Conservative government, which I have been told is modelled after similar legislation in the United States. The United States has had legislation on its books for a number of years now which prohibits American companies from co-operating in the boycott against the state of Israel.

What I am suggesting to the government whip is that if similar legislation has been enacted by the United States and by the province of Ontario, this Parliament should do at least as much. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I have no objection to this bill going to the committee if that would permit some real discussion. I hope that after the government gets the report it has asked Mr. Stanfield to make, it will not forget the arguments it put forward when in the opposition. 1 hope that the government will not renounce those principles of equity and justice which the present Prime Minister expressed so eloquently when he was leader of the opposition, and that we do not get another waffling or sweeping under the rug like we got from the former government.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   FOREIGN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT REQUESTS REPORTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING OF INFORMATION
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PC

Kenneth C. Binks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ken Binks (Ottawa West):

Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to congratulate the hon. member who has introduced the bill, and to tell this House how much I sympathize with the reasons which give rise to it. If this matter is as important as 1 believe the proposer in all sincerity says that it is, then it is my view that it would be most advantageous to wait until the government brings in a similar bill, to which the hon. member for Burlington (Mr. Kempling) has already referred.

There are good reasons for waiting. If this bill is as important as the proposer says that it is, 1 find it difficult to understand why he would call it a very mild piece of legislation. If this matter, which has been before the press and the House for a number of years, is important, then it is not a very mild piece of legislation. Certainly if it is as the hon. member says, that it is primarily a matter of the civil rights of the citizens of Canada, then there is no way that it is a mild piece of legislation. I am sure that there is not a member in this House or a citizen of Canada who is not sympathetic to the subject matter of this bill, and who would not like to see the matter corrected.

This government is committed to dealing with this matter through legislation in 1980. When it does so, it will not introduce a mild piece of legislation simply because this matter does affect the civil rights of all Canadians. It will not be, as the hon. member has said, a recording bill. What use is a bill which affects the civil rights of all Canadians if it is a recording bill? I would have thought that someone proposing a private member's bill would speak on the matter with some

Foreign Economic Boycotts

feeling, if the bill is so important, on the simple basis that he who asserts must prove. However, the hon. member rose in the House and denied that he wanted the bill given more consideration, and 1 believe he even told this House that he wanted the bill sent to committee so that it could be amended.

It would seem to me that any member who introduces a bill for serious consideration in this House would not want that bill amended and that he or she would have given serious consideration to what they wanted in the bill.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   FOREIGN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT REQUESTS REPORTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING OF INFORMATION
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LIB

Robert Phillip Kaplan

Liberal

Mr. Kaplan:

Mr. Speaker, on a question of privilege, the hon. member is imputing improper motives in my introduction of this bill. I introduced it in the form that it was on the Order Paper in the last Parliament for very particular reasons which I have stated, and none of which had to do with any feeling on my part that the bill was satisfactory in the form that it was introduced, but all of which had to do with the fact that this bill had received the unanimous agreement of the parties in this House. So, to suggest that 1 did it for any other reasons is unreasonable, and inaccurate.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   FOREIGN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT REQUESTS REPORTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING OF INFORMATION
Permalink
PC

Kenneth C. Binks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Binks:

Mr. Speaker, if I have directly or indirectly imputed any improper motive to the hon. member, I withdraw it. 1 did not mean to say that he was insincere. Certainly I have a constitutional right to point out that any member who introduces a bill usually speaks with greater fervour about some of the conditions recited in it.

There is another reason why this bill should be looked upon somewhat askance by this House. The question of the economic boycott relates to what has happened over the past six months in this country and to our foreign policy, and is of such a delicate and sensitive nature that it would be irresponsible not to wait until the Hon. Robert Stanfield makes his report. Regardless of what is considered to be separate from the matter that Mr. Stanfield is dealing with, there is no way that it would be inseparable in the public mind.

I agree with what the hon. member for Burlington said when he suggested that there are means by which international commerce can satisfy whatever trading aims that commerce may have. We might ask ourselves if there is any way that the provisions of this bill, even if amended by committee, could hope to do what it sets out to do. There is no way whatsoever that what Mr. Stanfield has been asked to report would be dissociated from this bill in the public mind, and certainly not in the points of views of those countries which have been upset by this matter, which was originally thought to be a matter of domestic politics in this country. It was a principle of French foreign policy, and the most urgent thing to do-

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   FOREIGN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT REQUESTS REPORTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING OF INFORMATION
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PC

Fred Alward McCain (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McCain):

It is now six o'clock and the hour provided for consideration of private members' business has expired. The hon. member for Surrey-White Rock-North Delta (Mr. Friesen) on a point of order.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   FOREIGN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT REQUESTS REPORTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING OF INFORMATION
Permalink
PC

Benno Friesen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Friesen:

Mr. Speaker, I want to be on record as saying that this is the first time in my career in this House that I have

October 25, 1979

Borrowing Authority

agreed entirely with the remarks of the hon. member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Orlikow). Now I have to go out and take a valium.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   FOREIGN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT REQUESTS REPORTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING OF INFORMATION
Permalink
PC

Fred Alward McCain (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McCain):

The hour provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. I do now leave the chair until 8 p.m.

At six o'clock the House took recess.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   FOREIGN ECONOMIC BOYCOTT REQUESTS REPORTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING OF INFORMATION
Permalink

AFTER RECESS The House resumed at 8 p.m.


GOVERNMENT ORDERS


[English)


BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80


The House resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. Crosbie that Bill C-10, to provide supplementary borrowing authority for the fiscal year 1979-80, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs.


NDP

Lorne Edmund Nystrom (Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lome Nystrom (Yorkton-Melville):

Mr. Speaker, before the dinner hour I had a few minutes to talk about the bill that is before us today. I was concerned that the Conservative party across the way is borrowing too much money. It has not started off with its priorities straight in terms of the bills it is bringing before this House. My particular concern was the high interest rate policy of the party.

In its five months of government the Conservative party has become known as the high interest rate party. I see a friend of mine from Saskatchewan nodding in agreement. 1 believe his riding is Kindersley-Lloydminster. He confirms that the Conservative party is the high interest rate party. I am sure that his constituents will be interested to know he is confirming that his party is the high interest rate party. I will be in Prince Albert very shortly where an interesting activity will be taking place. I will make sure the people there know that the Conservative party is the party of usury. It has set the rate of usury at 14 per cent in this country. It seems to be proud of that, Mr. Speaker. I do not think it is necessary at all.

In my riding, and right across the country before the election, that party talked about the interest rate being too high, the inflation rate being too high, and that we had too many unemployed. "If the interest rate is increased to slow down the economy there will be more unemployed," that is what they said. But once it came to power the Conservative party did a double take, and increased the interest rate. It

watches the inflation rate going up and does nothing at all. It does nothing about the high rate of unemployment. Because political parties do double takes like that and break their word, this is a reason why there is a lot of cynicism about this place and about the political process in general.

I am concerned about the effect that the government's high interest rate will have on farming and on food prices. In the Toronto Star for October 12, 1979, a headline reads, "Interest rate increases will boost costs of dairy products and meat, official says". Another article has as its headline, "Food-price boost seen over interest-rate rise".

The Cattlemen's Association are saying that the high interest rate means that consumers in this country are paying about 18 cents a pound in interest rates when they buy a pound of meat. In other words, 18 cents of what they are paying goes to pay interest. The same thing is true for other farm products.

I am concerned that Canadian farmers have a real debt problem. Farmers are caught in a real squeeze. They will have to borrow a lot of money and because interest rates are high it will be very difficult for them. Perhaps they will not borrow some of the money they need to maintain efficiency on their farms. Perhaps they will not buy new equipment, repair their equipment, expand their operations, or purchase items they need to produce food. Later on this could create shortages of some food products which will further drive up prices charged to consumers. I am concerned too that this will put a lot of farmers out of business.

I know the Minister of Finance (Mr. Crosbie) is buddy-buddy and has a love relationship with a lot of the large corporations. And he is very familiar with large corporations, I know that. It is much easier for large corporations to cope with high interest rates. AH they do is reinvest a lot of their profits and they do their own financing. On the other hand, a small company cannot do that; neither can a farmer nor a fisherman. If a farmer needs to borrow money now he will have to borrow at a high interest rate.

I want to remind the House that we are not dealing here with a small segment of the population at all. In the year ending 1977 the total outstanding credit for farmers was approximately $10,400 million. My guess now is that that Figure is probably past the $12 billion or $13 billion mark. These Statistics are from Agriculture Canada. And there were lower interest rates then; so what is going to happen now that the interest rate is very high?

There are other statistics that affect farmers. We find, for example, that the total borrowed by farmers for farm needs in 1979 is estimated at approximately $8 billion. That is a lot of money, $8 billion. About 60 per cent of that, or roughly $4.5 billion to $5 billion, is for short-term loans. The Farm Credit Corporation has a low involvement in short-term loans. Most of these loans come from banks or from supply company credit. About 27 per cent or 30 per cent, or approximately $2 billion, is in intermediate term loans from 18 months to ten years, but most of it is for less than ten years. Again, most of this is from private banks and lending institutions. Only 10 or 12'/2 per cent, or approximately a billion dollars, is in long-

October 25, 1979

term loans. Most of this, of course, is from the Farm Credit Corporation.

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Wise) announced a few weeks ago that another $50 million was being added to the capital budget of the Farm Credit Corporation. Let us not forget that the bank rate since January 1 has gone up by some 2% per cent. This increase in the prime lending rate will mean that the actual cost of interest to farmers will be about $200 million per year. That is an additional cost in interest rates alone.

That is exceptionally high, and will mean a lot of very serious problems for the farmers of this country. It comes at a time when the government should be trying to ensure that young farmers have the money to stay on the farm and that they have, as an objective, food self-sufficiency in this country. The Department of Agriculture can tell you that if we take away grain and oil seeds, our deficit in food production last year was about $1.8 billion. That is very severe. If you are not going to produce more food, you make cash more difficult for the farmers to obtain.

1 appeal to the sanity of the government to stop its ridiculous policy on interest rates. Perhaps ministers have no sanity.

I do not know. If they have any left, I appeal to them to roll back the bank rate and ensure that farmers can get loans from the Farm Credit Corporation. They need loans to expand their operations. These must be at a much lower rate than today. Loans are needed by farmers in order to build farms, renew their equipment, remain efficient and produce food for the Canadian people at a reasonable cost.

Something that concerns me very much is that the spread between the rich and the poor of this country is widening instead of narrowing.

I read in the newspaper Tuesday, I believe, that the poverty rate substantially increased in Canada in 1978. The average wages of Canadian families went up by 6 per cent, but it should not be forgotten that the inflation rate of our country last year was 9 per cent. With such an inflation rate, the real wages of the average Canadian family have been reduced by 3 per cent. In spite of that, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance with the governor of the Bank of Canada has raised the interest rate of the Bank of Canada to 14 per cent-highest ever in the history of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, there are in Canada today many families living below the poverty level. For example, in 1977 there were in Canada 659,000 families living below the poverty level and last year there were 7,000 more. That is 666,000 Canadian families. As for individuals, the situation is the same. In 1977,

842,000 individuals were below the poverty level and last year or the following year there were 886,000. However, in spite of that, as I said, the Minister of Finance has just raised the interest rate to 14 per cent.

Borrowing Authority

That is the highest it has ever been in Canada. He is getting off to a very bad start as a new Minister of Finance, particularly when you read his old speeches where, before the election, he was very concerned about keeping the bank rate down.

I wonder how many backbenchers in the Conservative party really support him.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
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NDP

Lorne Edmund Nystrom (Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Nystrom:

One or two over there are having difficulty. I see three members who applaud the Minister of Finance.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
Permalink

October 25, 1979