November 5, 1979

?

An hon. Member:

It is not simple.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

Gerald William Baldwin

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

The hon. member for Timiskaming (Mr. Peters) brought to my attention the difficulty which ordinary people have in understanding the legislation, and not only understanding it but realizing the extent to which, at the whim of the minister on the advice of his officials, the government may vary, change and alter not only these tariffs but the non-tariff structure, and the people who are involved will not know anything about it until it is over and done with.

I am fortunate to be able to sit on the same committee in this ensuing session, and I hope that the committee will continue to give to the people of Canada, as an arm of this Parliament, an opportunity for them to stand up and complain about the practice of using orders in council and regulations under this act without there being some remedy. One of the things which we have suggested, and I hope this government will bring it into force-and I see my hon. friend, the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Baker), who is charged with this bill and is a very useful member of that committee, and also the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources (Mr. Hnaty-shyn), both of whom, I hope, will see to it-is that in cases of this kind there be pre-publication of rules and of orders in council as well as of regulations so that people who are affected will be advised. This will be done by notice so that those who will be affected, the producers and the consumers, will have an opportunity to make representations directly to the government or to the tribunal which will be making the decision, or to members of Parliament who, in the final analysis, are the ultimate harbingers of destiny, as it should be, of the affairs of the nation.

There is no doubt in my mind that a continuation of this practice is the easy way to do things, to sit cosily up in your office and enact the regulation or order in council. Nine times out of ten the minister does it on the advice of his advisers. I am not saying that in a disparaging sense, because it is utterly impossible in the kind of society we have for ministers to be on top of all the data, all the orders in council, and all propositions which are put before them.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Eugene Whelan

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

You have super ministers over there and they have three departments!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

Gerald William Baldwin

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

The trouble with new ministers is that they are like Hercules.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB
PC

Gerald William Baldwin

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

They have the old stable to clean up with a hundred years' accumulation of you know what.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

They were not in power one hundred years; it just seems like that.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

Gerald William Baldwin

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

It is time the matter received the attention of this House. I am sure that from time to time this committee will be bringing in recommendations when it has come to their attention that there have been abuses of the regulatory process, so that the public of Canada will know that there is a

November 5, 1979

worry about the lack of speed in respect of agricultural matters at this time. These things can and will be done.

Under this new minister most of those things that have to be known to keep the agricultural industry out of trouble are known very quickly. Most of these things are known two or three weeks before the trouble develops. Under the previous administration we had great difficulty in getting things done. 1 should not say that we never got tariffs imposed, because I remember shortly after coming here the hon. member for Essex-Windsor did impose a surcharge on cherries. 1 think he was able to do that because other members of cabinet did not realize or understand what was going on. As soon as they did, that was the end of it, and we did not see another rapid imposition of a surcharge to provide the protection needed.

Under the previous administration we thought we were going to see a formula developed. We had hopes that the former minister would be able to sell that formula to his cabinet colleagues. He was unsuccessful because five years or six years later we still did not have a formula. We have such a formula today, and I am quite proud to note its existence. This is a formula that can and will be workable.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Eugene Whelan

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

You know it is a halfway measure.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

George H. Whittaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Whittaker:

The former minister says it is a halfway measure. He did not bring in anything so we did not have any measure at all. I do not believe this is a halfway measure. That hon. member can sit there and say those kinds of things, but let us wait and see how this works. When we see it work we will realize it is not a halfway measure. I think it is going to work, and the former minister of agriculture, the hon. member for Essex-Windsor-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

He will be the minister again next week.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

George H. Whittaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Whittaker:

If he is going to be the minister again next week, God help the country. That hon. member keeps patting himself on the back, and he did so while watching the producers and the canners in this country go down, down and down. I have in mind the tomato industry in southern Ontario, which is now in a really sad situation.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order, please. 1 think the hon. member for Okanagan North (Mr. Whittaker) should be allowed to make his speech without constant interference by other members in this chamber.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

They just do not like to hear the truth.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

George H. Whittaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Whittaker:

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. 1 was coming to the end of my remarks at any rate. The catcalls from the other side sort of worked me up. At any rate, I am sure that the industry will be pleased to see this bill passed. It should have been in place for last year's crop. Some products did receive the protection required through an order in council by our government. Some products did not receive the protec-

Customs Tariff

tion needed. When we pass this bill it will go a long way toward helping the agricultural industry in this country but, as I said before, it does not appear to me to provide the protection in Canada that other countries have in respect of agriculture.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Jacques Raymond (Ray) Chénier

Liberal

Mr. Ray Chenier (Timmins-Chapleau):

Mr. Speaker, the tariff board and the horticultural industry recommended that an automatic surtax be applied to imports of horticultural products as the produce crossed the border when the price fell below a "trigger" price based on an average of the previous three-year f.o.b. import price.

The present proposal is not automatic and is not what was requested by the industry or the tariff board, and the news release of October 22 is erroneous and misleading.

The improved faster system is unlikely to be any different from the present system, for the following reasons. There is a time delay between the produce crossing the border and the industry authorities verifying the information to bring to Agriculture Canada's attention, resulting in a probable delay of several days. The imports are usually made in summer months when cabinet ministers are frequently on holidays or absent from the office and cannot take the fast and effective action necessary. Officials of both departments need time to consult and go over the information, and this will result in more delays. This type of procedure requires notifying the exporting country, and consultation prior to the surtax being put in place, with more delay.

It is common knowledge that the three-year average proposed as the trigger price base did not take into account the inflation rate, and the 85 per cent of the three-year average is unlikely to be of much help under present economic conditions.

Since the season for crops like sweet cherries, etc., is very short, about three to four weeks at most, and injury can occur within a few days and a few shipments, the proposed system will not be of any real value because it is not automatic. The season will be over and the injury will have occurred before any action will have been taken. For commodities not named, the 20 days to make a decision is completely unworkable. The opposition among the two departments from a bureaucratic standpoint is well known, and since there is nothing new in the proposals to overcome this opposition, these time delays will be long. I cannot see that this proposal will be any different from the present procedure.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Aideen Nicholson

Liberal

Miss Aideen Nicholson (Trinity):

Mr. Speaker, this bill will implement the ways and means motions relating to the customs tariff which were tabled by the former minister of finance in the last Parliament on October 23, 1978. Essentially it removes the tariffs on imported fruits and vegetables at certain times of the year and reinstates them during our growing seasons when domestic produce is available. It helps the consumer at times when food is scarce and expensive, and it protects our producers at other times.

Unfortunately the new government did not see fit to recall Parliament in June to deal with these matters. In the situation in which we find ourselves now, it becomes clear that this bill and other measures are needed more than ever.

November 5, 1979

Customs Tariff

Consumers are bearing substantial increases in food costs. U.S. trucking costs have increased 45 per cent since last winter, and those increases are expected to drive imported food prices to record highs this winter. The increases in gasoline prices in Canada which the government is about to impose, will further drive up prices, as the energy costs involved in the food chain-transportation, storage, processing and packaging-are passed on to the consumer. The decline in the dollar will add 15 per cent to the cost of imported foods. When imported foods become more expensive, we have seen that domestically produced foods go up in price too, because there is less competitive pressure from imports.

In all these circumstances, this bill which is before us and which is left over from the previous Parliament, is necessary, and it is also very necessary that other measures be introduced. I hope that when this bill is passed, the government will introduce its own measures in response to the current situation. The food policy group, for instance, in the consumer affairs department needs to be strengthened, not, as rumour emanating from the new government would have it, included in the Department of Agriculture. With this change, it would be difficult to see how this group could maintain a strong, independent voice for consumer interests.

Food policy decisions which have been in abeyance need to be implemented. The new government has said that it is committed to bringing down the cost of inflation. One of the key places to start is with food prices. People must shop for food every week, and when they are faced with increasing food prices it tends to trigger more demands for wage settlements as people become concerned about how they will cope with the cost of living. While I commend the government for belatedly introducing this measure, I would also point out to ministers that, in our present circumstances, it is a very small measure. I trust that they will soon bring in their own measures and address the question of rising food prices.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink

November 5, 1979