November 19, 1979

PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Assistant Deputy Chairman:

Order, please. I regret to inform the hon. member that his time has expired.

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

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Mr. Chairman, we are allowed 20 minutes.

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

Jake Froese

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Froese:

Mr. Chairman, I would like to explain some of the areas referred to by the hon. member so far as tariff agreements are concerned and so far as the trigger mechanism in this legislation proposed by our party is concerned. The fact is that, first of all, GATT has taken agriculture out of the stringent agreements which existed before and has adopted a different approach to the problem. Yet there is a ceiling on the amount that we can charge for tariffs which have been agreed to under the agreement here. For any of the upper levels to be changed there would have to be another agreement, but to go down from these is up to our country.

The mechanism which the Minister of Agriculture has proposed lately is completely new. It is something that the industry has wanted for the simple reason that previously, in order to get any tariff protection, one would have to prove injury, which many times would take months in the courts, by which time the commodity would be completely off the market. With the trigger mechanism, they will know what the commodity can bear and then can apply the mechanism even if there is only a danger. This is something that has never before occurred in the history of agriculture.

When I listen to hon. members opposite I conclude that they support this legislation. I agree that perhaps there are areas that we should consider, but let us pass this legislation since it is the best that has ever been put forward to protect horticulture in our country.

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

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Mr. Chairman, I commend the hon. member for his devotion to his party. I am not sure whose legislation this is, the Liberals or the Conservatives, but if it is going to do what the hon. member says it will, then certainly I am pleased.

In my part of the country we do not grow too many vegetables for export and we are not too concerned with

November 19, 1979

Customs Tariff

imports, but as Canadians we are concerned that we do not have the advantage of benefiting from Canadian production. We are almost totally dependent on American produce, a problem which we think should be overcome. If the hon. member is correct that it has been overcome, the legislation should specify how the trigger mechanism works. That is really what I am talking about.

The information that has been provided us during the debate is that the mechanism is triggered by the horticultural society. They have been partly successful in representing all the segments of horticulture, but there have been many complaints that they had not acted fast enough, though not nearly as many complaints as there have been that the tariff board which should be seized with the problem reaches a decision only after a certain period of time. The difficulty which the hon. member has indicated existed in the past will continue to exist under this mechanism, as 1 understand it.

My question is whether any consideration has been given to lengthening the period, say, for asparagus, from 12 weeks to, let us say, a maximum of 15 or 20 weeks between such and such dates. If we do not want to apply it for that long a period, we should still find a way of protecting our industry in the peak period. We will face difficulties because, no matter how it works, once the wholesaler starts buying tomatoes from California, for example, he would not think it was to his advantage to stop buying tomatoes from California for two or three weeks so he can buy them in Canada. So the wholesaler will get year round tomatoes from Mexico or California simply because it is easier than fitting in Canadian production. That is the only justification for applying the tariff, because I am sure the wholesaler does not care one way or the other. It is a little like the egg business. We had one person handling eggs in the Ottawa area, certainly by far the largest firm, by the name of Macartney, and this firm had never owned a hen. They bought all their eggs from the United States and delivered potatoes back to them. They did not intend to change the situation one way or another. I assume that is true with others as well.

Has the Tariff Board considered finding a better manner in which to trigger the mechanism, better than the one we have used in the past? If it has been changed from what it was in the last several years, perhaps we can give it a try. But if it has not been changed, has any consideration been given to letting the Department of Agriculture, for instance, trigger it rather than the tariff board, in order to work out the mechanisms? Normally it goes through both of them now, and perhaps another agency as well.

It has not worked out to our advantage because our fruit and vegetable industry is not in the incline, it is in the decline. The reason for passing these duties is to give protection to Canadian producers. If they are not increasing production, obviously the tariff structure should be changed. I am in favour of doing that to protect them. In a few years we will find that it is impossible to build an industry which has

disappeared, but perhaps it would be possible now to keep alive an industry which we have at the present time.

I should like to refer to the example of strawberries. When one sees hundreds of acres of strawberries being plowed down simply beause they are not profitable, then one should think of the reasons for that. One reason must be the ability of Americans to ship in strawberries during the season when Canadians are producing them. Perhaps I am wrong. We will find out next spring when there will be trouble with a number of industries.

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

Jake Froese

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Froese:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to make a statement on strawberries. I take it that this could happen next spring, as the hon. member indicated, but I do not know. Personally 1 grow approximately ten acres of strawberries. We have had problems, but we hope that this measure will help to alleviate them. The problem with strawberries is not only the fact that they can be brought in at a competitive price. It is also the fact that a lever is being held over the heads of buyers in Canada so that continually they buy strawberries from Americans throughout the season. The threat is present that if they should cut off their purchases when strawberries are in season in Canada, they will not receive a supply afterwards. Some of the problems have nothing to do with price. There have been competitive prices, yet the problem exists because of that. We hope the surtax will help make the commodity a little more acceptable to Canadian buyers.

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

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

If one looks at the schedule, one will find that there is not much duty on strawberries anyway. Under schedule 1 it is 1-3/5 cents for general tariff and the most favoured nation, but not less than 10 per cent. The schedule reads in part as follows:

The free rate shall apply during the months of September, October, November, December, January, February and March.

During the remaining months in any 12-month period ending 31st March, the specific duty or ad valorem duty, as the case may be, shall not be maintained in force in excess of eight weeks, and the free rate shall apply whenever the specific duty or ad valorem duty is not in effect.

Dealing with strawberries for processing, the schedule reads:

... shall not be maintained in force in excess of six weeks, and the 10 per cent duty shall apply whenever the specific duty is not in effect.

Again the duty for processing is 1-3/5 cents or 10 per cent for both the most favoured nation or the general tariff.

When we are losing an industry, this 10 per cent seems to be a very small amount to apply. In the one case it only applies for eight weeks on fresh strawberries, and on strawberries for processing it applies for only six weeks. The hon. member representing that area is a producer. If he is satisfied with that small amount of protection and is convinced that it will keep him producing strawberries next year, I guess I am satisfied.

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

Clause agreed to. Clauses 3 to 5 inclusive agreed to. On clause 6-Applicable rates


NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Mr. Chairman, clause 6(2) deals with increasing rates by order of the governor in council. Would the

November 19, 1979

parliamentary secretary explain why this is not in conflict with the general agreement with GATT? I believe the parliamentary secretary mentioned a few moments ago that it allowed for decreases, but not increases.

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

Ronald Stuart (Ron) Ritchie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ritchie (York East):

Mr. Chairman, as in the past, clause 6(2) provides authority for the governor in council to restore the pre-1973 rates. Those were the bound rates before the present MTN. On the goods covered by clause 4 and schedule II, if increased imports should cause difficulties for Canadian producers when the new MTN agreements are in effect, this clause will be obsolete; but it is necessary until that time.

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

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Will the parliamentary secretary explain what "MTN" means?

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

Ronald Stuart (Ron) Ritchie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ritchie (York East):

The "multilateral trade negotiations" which were concluded recently but are not yet enacted into Canadian law.

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

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

I take it that when they are this section will be redundant?

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

Ronald Stuart (Ron) Ritchie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ritchie (York East):

Yes.

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

Clause agreed to. Clause 7 agreed to. On clause 8-


NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

In clause 8 a number of items will be taken out, including the enumerations of goods and the rates of duty set opposite each item. It reads in part:

... by inserting in the schedule to the said subsection the items, enumerations of goods and rates of duties specified in Schedule IV to this act.

What does all this mean?

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

Ronald Stuart (Ron) Ritchie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ritchie (York East):

Mr. Chairman, this is a technical amendment to the schedule of general preferential tariffs covering fruits and vegetables. It is to take into account the extensive changes in wording and numbering of tariff items. There are no changes in the general preferential rates, duties or in the coverage of items as far as the effect of this clause is concerned. It is a pure technicality, I believe.

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

Clause agreed to. Clause 9 agreed to. On clause 10-Schedule A amended


NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Mr. Chairman, perhaps the parliamentary secretary could give us an indication of what happens to all these numbers. It refers to "striking out", but does this include the ones we were previously discussing as being amended by schedule IV? Are they replaced by schedule IV?

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

Ronald Stuart (Ron) Ritchie (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ritchie (York East):

Mr. Chairman, my understanding is that this clause is the heart of what we have been talking about all along. This clause and schedule V that goes with it

Customs Tariff

are what set up the continuing structure for all of the items concerned; so everything we have said today in effect bears on this clause, and I think we have covered it fairly extensively.

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

Clause agreed to. On clause 11-


November 19, 1979