June 26, 1984

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT

LIB

Yvon Pinard (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Yvon Pinard (for the Minister of National Health and Welfare) moved

that Bill C-5, an Act to Amend the Radiation Emitting Devices Act, as reported (without amendment) from the Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs, be concurred in.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink

Motion agreed to.


LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

When shall the Bill be read a third time?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Now.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Erik Nielsen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nielsen:

By leave, now.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Yvon Pinard (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Pinard (for the Minister of National Health and Welfare) moved

that the Bill be read the third time and do pass.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Russell Gregoire MacLellan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Russell MacLellan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the Bill is to correct limitations in the Radiation Emitting Devices Act in order to protect better the public against hazards to health resulting from the sale and use of unsafe radiation emitting devices.

The Radiation Emitting Devices Act was proclaimed in force in 1972. It provides for the establishment of standards for radiation emitting devices and prohibits sale or importation unless such devices comply with the prescribed standards. Standards have now been prescribed for television sets, dental X-ray equipment, microwave ovens, baggage inspection X-ray devices, laser scanners, ultrasound therapy devices, diagnostic X-ray equipment, and therapeutic X-ray equipment.

In respect of the areas of jurisdiction, the federal Government is responsible for the regulatory control of the design, construction, and functioning of radiation emitting devices at the point of importation and sale. Provincial Governments are responsible for the control of the installation and use of such devices after sale has taken place.

At the present time standards established under the radiation emitting devices regulations apply only to devices manufactured after the date of coming into force of regulations for those devices. Radiation emitting devices manufactured outside Canada prior to that date can continue to be imported indefinitely for sale in Canada, even though they do not conform to the standards and may be potentially hazardous to Canadian users. Manufacturers outside Canada are aware of this weakness in the Act and could exploit it by producing and stockpiling for sale in Canada devices manufactured under less stringent conditions.

The Act does not now provide authority for regulating radiation emitting devices for which standards have not been prescribed, and which are defective or create a risk of injury to the health of the user. New types of radiation emitting devices can be introduced in Canada without any prior knowledge or evaluation by the Department. Such devices can be ineffectual for their intended purpose, or totally unnecessary and detrimental to the safety of the Canadian public, yet could still be sold without restriction until standards are developed and promulgated, often a lengthy process. Under the present Act there are no restrictions on representations made by manufacturers in respect of the safety, performance or effectiveness of the devices. For many radiation emitting devices, design, construction and performance standards alone are insufficient to ensure safety. Proper and careful use of a device requires adequate written instructions for the use of the device to complement equipment standards.

The Radiation Emitting Devices Act presently limits the prescribing of standards, in the form of regulations, to devices that emit electromagnetic waves having a frequency of ten megacycles per second, or ultrasonic waves having frequencies greater than ten kiloycles per second. However, the biological effects of electromagnetic radiation and acoustical energy propagation are governed not only by the frequency but also by the intensity of the propagated radiation and by the absorption properties of exposed medium. There is an increasing use of a variety of devices which propagate such high levels of power that, in spite of the low absorption coefficient, sufficient power is absorbed to be injurious to biological systems.

Extending the scope of the Act to include all acoustic frequencies would permit an assessment of the health effects of high levels of infrasound which come from air conditioning, heating and ventilating systems, compressors, and large diesel engines. The biological effects which have been attributed to infrasound include hearing loss, involuntary eye movements, nausea, slowed reactions, and fatigue.

The following comments address specific points raised in the debate on second reading on May 18, 1984. Fear was

June 26, 1984

Radiation Emitting Devices Act expressed that regulations might be promulgated for new noise emitting devices such as chain saws. In any regulations designed to protect hearing, not only must the level of noise be stipulated but also its duration. The very stipulation of duration of exposure then becomes a "use" parameter and properly falls under provincial jurisdiction. Microwave ovens are now controlled from a health hazard point of view. The unauthorized use or misuse by children is again a provincial responsibility.

The suggestion was made that the regulations must be compatible with those in the United States or country of origin of the equipment. The United States is the major exporter of radiation emitting devices to this country, and every effort is made to ensure compatible regulations, with only minor variations such as wording and language of warning signs. The same applies to international standards where promulgated. Some countries have minimal or no standards for such radiation emitting devices which, if it were Canadian policy to accept the regulations of the producing country, could result in the dumping into Canada of potentially hazardous devices.

A question was raised with respect to genetic and pregnancy effects from video screens. There are no levels of exposure to the operator from ionizing or non-ionizing radiation which can reasonably be expected to give rise to such effects.

The suggestion was made that the control of some radionuclide devices be transferred from the Atomic Energy Control Act. The Radiation Emitting Devices Act specifically excludes all emissions controlled by the Atomic Energy Control Act, and no redistribution of responsibility is being sought.

We intend by this Act to leave the Atomic Energy Control Act intact for its own responsibility, but by the Radiation Emitting Devices Act to have a separate Act which would be responsible for such things as consumer products and dangers in the home to the average Canadian.

This is a very important piece of legislation directly affecting the health of Canadians and the safety of our families. I ask for swift passage on third reading.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Gary Michael Gurbin

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. M. Gurbin (Bruce-Grey):

Mr. Speaker, I think it would be appropriate for me to begin my comments by congratulating the Hon. Member who just spoke on the new addition to his family. I am sure that he speaks with considerable enthusiasm today.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Gary Michael Gurbin

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gurbin:

I understand the new arrival is a healthy baby boy so the Hon. Member has every reason to be properly concerned about the environment in which this young fellow will grow up. Very appropriately, Mr. Speaker, we are today dealing with an Act which deals with the environment in which Canadians live.

I would make the very strong point that the healthiest thing the Liberal Government could do for the Canadian people would be to have an election. However, I do not wish to

expand on that point too much, having just congratulated the Hon. Member on the expansion of his family.

Today we are dealing with Bill C-5. I do not think I could do anything but waste time by repeating the very well prepared and reasonably appropriate comments that were made by the Hon. Member who just spoke. However, there are some points that I think need to be made. In some cases those points are broad, and they will certainly become more specific as we turn to some of the more specific issues that are involved. Indeed, the Hon. Member has already addressed some of those issues.

We are dealing with a Bill that does affect the health of Canadians vis-a-vis the variety of things in our environment to which they are exposed. I would like to bring to the attention of the House some of the things that were discussed most recently, in fact in this last week, by the 24 member nations of the OECD. That meeting of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development was precipitated by the state of our environment and all of those things that the environment means.

In this Bill, we are dealing with a reasonably specific and very technological part of the environment. Indeed, it is very much a part of that with which the OECD countries were dealing, being the state of the environment and the health of the environment, including the quality of life which we may all expect because of that environment. In the long run the environment will determine both the physical health and the economic health of the people who are exposed to a variety of industrial, technological, and other innovations that are occurring around the world today.

There is a global distribution of a considerable variety of pollutants. Here we are speaking of everything from noise to ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. This variety of pollutants is seriously threatening the sync of the global community. In the long run they are probably jeopardizing our ability to sustain a healthy economy and to sustain a healthy lifestyle. There are many things we do not know about the impacts of these various influences on our environment. One of the things that has come to light, with which I will deal specifically now, is radiation. I take the point made by the Hon. Member that nuclear radiation is excluded from consideration in this Bill, but I would also have to say very specifically that we are considering some of the same effects. I would think it would be appropriate to discuss them in the same context.

As recently as the last several months, reports have been made which bring to light new impacts of radiation that have as yet been unknown and not understood. One of the most important factors in understanding those impacts is the knowledge of the length of time between exposure to and the ultimate effect of radiation. We have all been living with a source of radiation, the sun, since the world began. We need that particular source of radiation and, as a healthy planet, we have been nourished by that source of radiation. We have also exposed ourselves along the way to additional radiation sources. Here I am talking about everything from video display screens to the effects of X-rays which are being used for

June 26, 1984

diagnostic purposes. We have exposed ourselves to those additional components in which there exists risk.

Originally there was a notion that there was a limit and that people could expose themselves to a certain amount of radiation without any physical costs. That is to say, so much exposure per year to an amount of radiation would be a so-called safe level. However, I think evidence is mounting which indicates that there is no such animal as a safe level of radiation. That includes the radiation which people may be receiving from the sun.

It is a well-known fact that people who expose themselves to the sun-and I say that in a gentle sense-for suntanning purposes, or people who work in the sun for long periods of time, suffer more from skin cancers. Evidence is mounting which indicates that while certain prescribed levels have become acceptable in the community for different levels of radiation, if a time study were taken it might indicate that there may well not be any so-called safe level of radiation exposure. That is not an indication that everyone should run down into the coal mines. There are dangers there as well, as was unfortunately demonstrated in the last week. Many of us have a lifestyle which includes sunbathing. We look forward to sunbathing. However, it is not without risk.

It is unlikely that there is an absolutely safe limit of exposure to any of the radiation sources. Clearly, that indicates that there is a need to understand what the effects will be over long periods of time. I believe that there is good and reasonable work being done on this matter by the scientific community around the world. It also means that at a given point in time-and we are taking a snapshot of where we stand today in terms of the effects of the radiation to which we are exposing ourselves-we need to be reasonable in establishing, as far as we can determine, exposure limits which will keep adverse effects to a minimum.

The first question that I would put forward with regard to this Bill is: on what premise will the regulations be made? I have some degree of insecurity about how evenly, reasonably, and accurately these regulations will be applied. We could go back to the time of Madame Curie. She did not know that the radium with which she was working, and which she discovered to the benefit of us all, would leave her with hands which needed to be covered completely because of cancerous changes before the time of her death. Another example, in more comtemporary times, is the shoe stores which had fluoroscopes which allowed people to see whether their toes were pinched when they bought a new pair of shoes.

There is more and more evidence about the adverse effects of radiation. I have some degree of difficulty in believing that the bureaucracy will know when it is appropriate to make regulations, and how to weigh the costs and benefits of some of these devices. If we go too far we may be denying ourselves what would be reasonable and valuable components in our lives-whether it is electrical generation or the use of computers. If we do not go far enough, 50 years from now there may

Radiation Emitting Devices Act

be an exceedingly high rate of adverse effects which we would all regret. Therefore, the premise on which these regulations will be established is something which should not just be left up to public servants, who, from time to time, will have different attitudes.

I think that is something which requires a watchdog. We require some form of reporting mechanism in order that what is happening can be understood as far as possible, on what basis decisions will be made to provide limitations, and to ensure that the Act and the amendments which are being proposed today will in fact do what is intended. That is the first point I would make, and there are minor points which I would like to include.

I have a Cabinet document here, Mr. Speaker, dated September 12, 1979, from the then Minister of National Health and Welfare, indicating the changes to Cabinet which he thought were implied by the Act which at that time, I believe, was Bill C-15. That is a period of five years between the time that that document was presented to Cabinet and now. Perhaps some of the problems have become greater during that period of time. However, we are now in the second last day of Parliament and I feel it is kind of weird that we are dealing with this Bill today. This is an important issue which might have been dealt with at almost any time in the last five years instead of today when we have some of the crushing social consequences of economic policies which need to be changed, bread lines which are running out of food sources in Toronto, as well as a number of other critical situations which are affecting the health of Canadians. Suicides are on the increase. I do not want to belabour the point, but it seems passing strange that we are dealing with this now instead of something of consequence which would help to deal with the problems of unemployment, interest rates and all of those things which I feel are of critical and immediate importance to the Canadian public.

It was in 1979 when this Cabinet document was produced. It indeed describes many of the amendments, which I will not go over again. My understanding is that we have now expanded this legislation to some degree to address the areas of lower levels of emissions. The Hon. Member used the example of a chain-saw. I am very happy that he made specific mention of the fact that there is a provincial jurisdiction here which needs to be respected. This is a broad area. We are talking about a wavelength of something; then we get into a wavelength with an energy imparted to it; then we get up to a certain energy level and with it, perhaps, an additional factor in terms of the momentum or time factor and other qualities which would in fact bounce off electrons in cells which they might hit and so cause harm to health. This problem is common throughout the world.

I started out talking about the environment and it is really the environment we are talking about here because, as someone said, we could apply this to John Turner's voice, if we wanted. If we did not like the quality of his voice, we could

June 26, 1984

Customs Tariff

regulate it and perhaps get him to say the things which are important to the Canadian people. That is just how broad this Bill is and that indicates some of the potential problems we could have.

I do not believe that civil servants in the first instance are necessarily misdirected or ill informed or out to do us harm. However, I can see problems if we do not respect the fact that this is a broad concept we are talking about, that there are other jurisdictions which must be respected, and it does require that additional level of watching and understanding before things get out of hand. That is my second point.

There are many natural environmental changes but there is no single change we can get away with without cost. Economists talk about economic rents, and there is a cost. We have developed, with the help of technology and the improvement of nutrition and so on, a situation in which human beings, if they do not get blown up in the meantime, can expect to live to the age of 70 or 80, if they live in a favoured country. This has not been accomplished without costing us something along the way. There will be costs. Exposing ourselves to radiation of all types has its costs. What we must do as carefully as possible is balance those costs and those benefits and keep that progression of improved health and economic climate and environment on the right track.

I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, speaking on behalf of the Conservative Party, that we do support this Bill. However, we raise those cautions which I have expressed and we hope the Government will take them into consideration as this Bill goes forward.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Is the House ready for the question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Question.

Motion agreed to and Bill read the third time and passed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RADIATION EMITTING DEVICES ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink

CUSTOMS TARIFF

LIB

Roy MacLaren (Minister of State (Finance))

Liberal

Hon. Roy MacLaren (Minister of State (Finance)) moved

that Bill C-7, an Act to amend the Customs Tariff, as reported (without amendment) from the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs, be concurred in.

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

Motion agreed to.


LIB

Roy MacLaren (Minister of State (Finance))

Liberal

Mr. MacLaren moved

that the Bill be read the third time and do pass.

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

Donald Alex Blenkarn

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Don Blenkarn (Mississauga South):

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-7 is a repeat of the incompetent way of handling the Customs Tariff in Canada by this Government. The incompetence is expressed so perfectly in the schedule to the Bill that it is important that once again this matter be brought to the attention of the House of Commons.

Somehow we have developed a tariff system with four different tariff items. We have a tariff for the British preferential situation. We have a tariff for most favoured nations. We have a tariff for the general tariff. Then we have what is called the general preferential tariff. In addition, Sir, we have special rates for the United Kingdom and Ireland. All in all, we have a tariff system which makes little if any sense; a tariff calculation and computation system which has grown without any attempt at review. I want to go over how this developed and what we think should happen to correct the matter.

In the first place, Sir, you will recall that back in the early 1930s there was an effort made by the Right Hon. R. B. Bennett, as Prime Minister, to organize a British Commonwealth free trade or virtual free trade system. The empire, then the Commonwealth, more or less like the empire prior to World War II and very shortly after, was cohesive and worked well. We had a British preferential tariff whereby rates of duty on goods coming to Canada from Commonwealth and empire countries came in at a very much lower rate of duty than goods which would come in from other countries under what was then the general tariff.

Now, Sir, change has taken place. The British Commonwealth still exists. We are proud members of that Commonwealth. But Great Britain and Ireland have joined another tariff unit called the European Community. They have aligned themselves in a new free trade arrangement with Europe.

However, we still retain the British preferential tariff for no purpose at all other than that it might possibly be of some help in our trade with Australia and New Zealand. It is really of no purpose because following the war we created something called most favoured nation status. Some of those most favoured nations are the most heinous totalitarian countries it the world. For example, Soviet Russia, East Germany and Czechoslovakia are most favoured nations. They are favoured as much as the finest democracies in the world, including the United States. This status covers almost all the countries in the world with the exception of Albania, the Balu Islands, North Korea, Libya, Mongolia, Oman and Saudi Arabia. It has long been said that if everyone is favoured, no one is favoured; if everyone is special, no one is special; if everyone is a somebody, no one is a somebody. We have a tariff system which provides that everyone is a somebody with the exception of Albania, the Balu Islands, North Korea, Libya, Mongolia, Oman and Saudi Arabia. We do not do much business with those countries. We do some business with Saudi Arabia and Libya, basically importing oil. The fact is that we just have not got round to negotiating a treaty with these countries. If we did, they would be most favoured nations too. But I suppose they do not really care.

Nevertheless, we carry the general tariff in our big, weighty tariff tomes. Duly printed in this Bill is the general tariff, including photographs, chromos, chromotypes, artotypes and oleographs, whatever they are. General tariff countries will pay 22.5 per cent duty, whereas most favoured nations will pay 15.7 per cent. We keep this garbage in this statute. Why? If you are amending a statute, surely you look at the problems

June 26, 1984

that multitudinous rate structures create and get rid of them. But not these fellows. They are happy in the bureaucracy carrying on with this sytem, piling new changes on old change, changes on changes, until we build up tomes that are incomprehensible and undefinable.

We have the Bill before us to make sure that labels for cigar boxes coming from Saudi Arabia will attract 35 per cent duty, but if they come from East Germany it will be only 14.6 per cent. Why we should discriminate against the Saudis and make them pay over twice the duty for labels for cigar boxes, I do not know, but there it is in this bill.

The poor people from the Balu Islands are treated the same way. But it is different for Czechoslovakia, that home of democracy which has managed to keep as a prisoner one Vasclav Pivenec. I bring this up because I think it is important. This man worked for the Czecholovakian trading company in this country. When he went home one Chritsmas he was immediately arrested. His wife and kids defected and they are now here as landed immigrants. When he tried to return to his wife and kids, that most favoured nation which we allow to import into Canada goods produced by slave labour said he could not go. He tried to escape and they put him in jail. They still say he cannot come because they do not really care about the Helsinki Agreement. But they are still a most favoured nation; favoured by this Government.

It is a great Act we have here. It really indicates the lack of thinking in a ministry that would produce it and a government that would bring it in and say it is important that it be passed. Well, Sir, we are going to let the ministry and bureaucracy know right now that they better get their act together, because this legislation is incomprehensible, has no regard for the ultimate benefit of Canada as a world trader and it has to go.

We are going to let the Bill go through because it has a provision to extend the general preferential tariff this country has generously given to underdeveloped countries so they can bring their goods into Canada by and large duty free. If it is not passed by June 30, that right would expire and all of those underdeveloped countries, would be stuck with the general tariff or, at best, the most favoured nation tariff, and that would be unfortunate for them. Another reason for letting the Bill pass is that it goes on to increase, from $100 to $300, the amount Canadians returning home can bring in duty free. Those two provisions are very important and must be passed.

I want to bring to your attention Clause 1, which still exists, and the unfortunate things that have happened with respect to which countries are entitled to the general preferential tariff. That tariff is a fourth tariff item. That tariff gives underdeveloped countries the right to bring in goods at a rate below or equal to the British preferential tariff and below the most favoured nation tariff. It allows goods to come in at a very substantially reduced rate. In creating the list of countries entitled to the general preferential tariff, there seems to have been no effort made by the Government to bring that list up to date. While certain countries are underdeveloped and are

Customs Tariff

entitled to this tariff privilege, some countries have become less underdeveloped. Some of them have become major industrial countries.

I speak, for example, of Brazil. There is no question that there is a lot of poverty, underdevelopment and distress in parts of Brazil. There is also a high degree of technology and expertise in this country. There are manufacturers of airplanes, auto parts and automobiles which compete head on with us on the world markets. We allow them tariff concessions which are totally unrealistic in comparison to their degree of development. Brazil is not an underdeveloped country. It may be a poorly managed country. Instead of reinvesting in their country the rich people of Brazil may put their money in bank accounts in Switzerland. There may be little redistribution of wealth in that country, but there certainly is not a total lack of technological ability. To the extent that it is underdeveloped, it is because, through the management of their own affairs, the Brazilians make it underdeveloped.

One wonders why a country of that nature should be entitled to the general preferential tariff. I say that also in relation to Argentina. That country is entitled to the general preferential tariff. In Argentina the people are not illiterate and in poverty all over the country. Argentina has the capacity to produce, create and build and to be a modern industrial machine. The fact that it is badly managed may make it underdeveloped. Our country is badly managed and we are underdeveloped in terms of our potential. However, that does not justify that country having general preferential tariff status.

If one looks at the list of countries with general preferential tariff status, one begins to wonder why they are entitled to the general preference to come into Canada at a rate which is less then the British preferential tariff ever was, when their manufacturers and subsidization of manufacturing is such that, because of free entry, they are able to do damage to Canadian business.

Cuba has that status. Is there any real justification for Cuba, a communist country in the western hemisphere which causes us all sorts of problems in connection with national defence, to have the benefit of a tariff lower than the British preferential ever was? Why would you treat Cuba better than you treat Australia? Is there any real justification for that? Why would you treat communist Cuba better than you do the United States? I say that there is no justification for that at all. One begins to wonder where the priorities of the Government are. Where does the Government intend to take us trade-wise?

In 1968 Canada had 5.74 per cent of world trade. We had a larger percentage of world trade than Japan had. At that point Japan had only 5.71 per cent of world trade. The last statistics I was able to get are from 1981 because these do not come through that quickly. In 1981 we had 3.8 per cent of world trade and Japan had 7.93 per cent. In 1968 we had a larger percentage of world trade than Japan. Now Japan has more than double the world trade we have. We have not been holding our own as a nation. We have been giving tariff privileges to other countries. Yet we have not done anything

June 26, 1984

Customs Tariff

for ourselves. Candy manufacturers in Canada have protested the way Brazil is able to dump candy into the country. Sugar refineries protested as well with respect to Cuba. Automobile companies have said the same thing to us. I have protested on behalf of people making cordage about what was happening in terms of import and how that was affecting manufacturing jobs in Canada.

Our percentage of world trade has dropped. That of our trading competitors has risen. Germany has 9.21 per cent of world trade, which is nearly three times ours. France had 5.59 per cent in 1968. In 1981 it had 5.57 per cent. That is virtually the same. They do not lose their percentage against Japan. The country that loses is Canada. Our percentage has been going down dramatically more than other countries.

We conducted a study on these matters. It is no secret that our Party has been examining what we could do to make this country grow again and get people back to work. For example, we know that if we could bring Canada's trade up 1 per cent, not even back to what it was in 1968 but to 1 per cent more of trade in the world market, there would be another 600,000 jobs in this country. Yet we are faced with a tariff Bill that repeats the confusion, the inconsistencies and the lack of policy developed by the Government during its history.

Is the Government attempting to get people back to work and to build the country, or is it trying to pretend that this country means something to everyone and that each nation is a most favoured nation? Each nation that says it is underdeveloped is allowed that status and therefore is entitled to virtually free access to our market no matter what the extent of their development. It does not matter to the Government whether a nation is able to make short-take-off-and-landing aircraft that compete with us and drive us out of the South American and African markets with its subsidization programs. It will let them into our country virtually tariff free.

Where is the Government's trade policy? Where is its intention to get tough and to build Canada so it can grow again? It is not provided in this Bill. This Bill really does nothing except extend the privilege to some underdeveloped countries. There are some underdeveloped countries that deserve the underdeveloped status and should be allowed to send goods into the country tariff free. Perhaps that is the best way to help them. However, there seems to be no discrimination. Apparently any country which says it is underdeveloped can qualify and the Government does not reserve that status to those countries in real need. The Government does not reserve the privilege of trading in the Canadian market duty and tariff free to a select group to whom this privilege matters. It is those countries with which we could have free trade, to whom our manufactured goods and technical expertise could be sold while importing from them raw products which cannot be found in our country. That would be a trade policy, but it is not done.

The Government gives this general preferential rate to virtually every country which asks for it. It does not matter

whether it is Cuba or Brazil. The Government gives the most favoured nation status to all the others, without regard to politics, how they conduct their trade, whether we can have access to their markets or whether they can sell to Czechoslovakia freely while we cannot. They sell $53 million worth of goods to our country while we sell $11 million worth of goods to their country. It does not matter to the Government, it lets them come in as most favoured nations.

Since the Government has not yet negotiated an agreement with Saudi Arabia and the Balu Islands, it says they must pay the high general tariff. Since they are paying that high general tariff then everyone could be most favoured nation status who is not either in the Balu Islands or North Korea.

This Bill lacks thinking, development and intelligence. It should be passed only for two reasons. First, it will help those who really need the assistance of most favoured nation status and are included in the schedules. That status should be extended. Second, Canadians who are returning from overseas will be able to bring in $300 worth of goods.

I am not sure they will be able to do that any longer. The House will recall that when this Bill was presented in January the exchange rate was well in excess of 80 cents. As each hour goes by, the value of the Canadian dollar seems to drop in terms of international purchasing power. Perhaps the value of $300 Canadian duty free goods coming into Canada has decreased by 4 per cent since the Budget, which is $12 since the Bill was introduced. Since the Budget, that preference has been reduced to approximately $287 and perhaps tomorrow it will be $286. Its value is getting smaller. Canadians believe they are getting something for this privilege, but as the international value of our currency drops, it is not much of a privilege.

The Bill should go through but the Department should be warned that it will have to rewrite the Customs Tariff and put the customs tariff schedules into comprehensible form. Unless it is prepared to begin doing that, some changes will have to be made.

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

Thomas Scott Fennell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Scott Fennell (Ontario):

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the remarks made by the Hon. Member for Mississauga South (Mr. Blenkarn), since 1968 the Government has had to increase the duty free limit from $100 to $300 not only to counteract inflation but the devaluing of our dollar. Therefore, I would say that going back 16 years we are no further ahead, perhaps even a little bit behind.

This Bill is what I would call a good neighbour Bill. While neighbour nations are allowed to send goods into our country without any restrictions, they have a different set of rules when we export our products. I am particularly concerned about the automotive industry. The report of the auto task force was made almost two years ago but nothing has been done about it. That report requested that the preferential tariff rate extended to developing countries for their automotive products be limited to two-thirds of the most favoured nation tariff rate for automotive goods. That is a reasonable request.

June 26, 1984

I represent an auto industrial area. In order to get around the tariff from West Germany, Mercedes Benz now produces their products in Brazil. As a result, they come into Canada duty free in direct competition with our own industry. This is not the best example because the demand for trucks is not great, given that the economy is at such a stalemate.

However, another example is the South Korean Pony. I will admit that it looks a very good product. It sells at a discounted price and is put together by people who probably earn less than $1 an hour, in a country where the standard of living is much lower than that in Canada. We in Canada try to protect a standard of living for all Canadians. While this product which is brought into the country may benefit consumers, it removes jobs for the workers.

As I said, the Government takes the attitude of being good neighbours and accepts products from anywhere. It will not put duties on the products of other countries and is not concerned about the duties that are placed on our export products.

I would like to point out the reason for that, which came up in our research about what has to change in government. We are not producing as many products now as we did ten years ago. We are still depending upon the export of raw materials. This situation is hurting Canada by eliminating jobs. We have to address methods of producing Canadian products that create jobs, that create additional research and will produce additional profits, allowing further research for new products. We should not just import such things as Mercedes Benz trucks from Brazil and Pony cars from North Korea.

Canada is being very kind to the rest of the world. We put no blocks in the way but everyone else puts blocks in our way. We come across one roadblock after another. We have not been quite as smart as other countries. We have not subsidized industry as much as other countries. We have not enacted adequate legislation for our citizens enabling them to be working today.

As my colleague mentioned, our trade has dropped from 6 per cent to 3.9 per cent. Japan, which traded less then Canada in 1968, now trades more than double the amount that Canada does. How long will we have to wait for other newly industrialized countries to surpass our 3.9 per cent figure? We should be addressing the major problem of pushing our 3.9 per cent trade up to a reasonable level that will create jobs for Canadians. Moving up our world trade one percentage point would create over 600,000 jobs. Moving that percentage in world trade to 5 per cent would create 750,000 jobs. That would cut unemployment in Canada in half. Believe me, Mr. Speaker, I think this country could live with 50 per cent of the unemployment rate we have today, but we cannot live with unemployment rates of 11 per cent and 12 per cent. People do not want to stay at home watching television all day. People want to be productive. This Bill does nothing to encourage our trade. I should correct that: yes, it does. It encourages everybody else

Customs Tariff

to trade with us but what does that do to help Canada export more products?

This Bill will be in place until June 30, 1994. You wonder why we object, Mr. Speaker. We object when we see a democratic country like ours being treated in a different fashion from communist countries such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany and Russia.

Let us examine our position with Saudi Arabia. We probably export more to Saudi Arabia than to many other places. We have had tremendous success in our exports because of Bell Canada and Northern Telecom. Yet, as a favour to Saudi Arabia because it buys Canadian research and development and technology, we turn around and say to the Saudi Arabians: "You must pay a different rate than the Soviet Union". That situation is not addressed in this Bill. That is wrong. Saudi Arabia requires secondary industry. Saudi Arabia buys from us and we buy from Saudi Arabia what we have to, that being oil because we are running out of oil. We do not create that many jobs in Saudi Arabia by simply buying oil; nor do other countries create many jobs in Canada by buying our coal, our aluminum and our zinc. This Bill does not really solve any of our trading problems. I realize this is something that has to be done every ten years. We have to adjust duties. We had to change the British preferential tariff because Britain is now part of the EEC. But we have many inequities which should have been changed much sooner.

I am concerned, as I said earlier, about the preferential duty for automotive parts and auto products. Yes, Canada is in a positive position today, but I am not at all certain that six months from now Canada will have a positive trade balance on cars. Canada was fortunate that the United States allowed us to retain large car production facilities in Canada. The United States did not really allow us; the situation just happened. All American plants were changed over to the new styles. The Americans left in Canada the "B" bodies-the Monte Carlos, the Pontiacs and the small Oldsmobiles. The United States did not anticipate there would be a boom for those cars. That boom happened because the price of oil did not go up as quickly as anticipated. I am worried and that is why I am dwelling on duty on cars. I am concerned about these new industrialized countries that are able to bring their products into Canada duty free, because we could be in a very dangerous position just six months from now. I hope I am wrong. The new industrialized countries, some of which are in far better shape than Canada, are developing much faster than we are.

I have requested a number of times, to be fair to Canada and to our automotive trade which creates many, many jobs, that we impose two-thirds of the most favoured nation tariff rate on automotive goods. I know that requesting it will not do any good but, believe me, the people in my riding would be appreciative, Mr. Speaker.

Let me digress to the auto task force report which was written two years ago. Nothing has been done about it. Fortunately the industry has done something to help itself. In Canada industry knows that the only way for it to survive is to help itself.

June 26, 1984

Customs Tariff

If we are going to accept this Bill-it will be accepted and it will be passed-we have to address what we can do in Canada similar to what the Americans did with the DISC program. We have to deal with subsidization programs throughout the communist world and the slave labour rates in other parts of the world. We must do something to protect Canadian industry. We cannot accomplish it through tariffs, nor by increasing tariffs on goods coming into this country. But we can do something by allowing the free enterprise system to fly. We have put too many constraints in its way, yet we have taken away the constraints on all other countries in the world except for about a half dozen. I am continually amazed that we are such good neighbours. I wish they were as kind to us.

We still protect some items. For example, the British preferential tariff on biscuits is higher than the general preferential tariff. Since I was a child I have eaten more British biscuits than I have those of the rest of the world. Obviously Britain has a higher productivity rate in biscuits than any other country.

The Government is acting in an inequitable manner. For example, we can purchase lobsters prepared and preserved from the communist world at a lower price than we can purchase them from Australia and New Zealand, our friends. Also it is interesting to note the situation with respect to caviar. I am very fond of caviar; I really have a tongue for it. The Government places a tariff on caviar from Britain, a most favoured nation tariff, but caviar from communist countries comes into the country duty free. That is from where most caviar comes, other than that from the Middle East, which I think comes from Iran and perhaps from Saudi Arabia. We charge our friends an excessive tariff, but our enemies bring in their caviar duty free.

The Hon. Deputy Whip likes champagne to go along with his caviar. As he knows, champagne is very heavily taxed coming into Canada. It is not taxed to keep champagne out; it is taxed in the same way as oil, as a money machine. I could deal with all the different items to show the inequity or unfairness. In the case of cigars, the tariff is much less on those from Cuba than on those from other countries. Possibly the Minister enjoys a good cigar after dinner. I do not know, but I feel the situation is inequitable. We must address the importance of encouraging our Canadian industry to produce products so that we do not need to worry about tariffs. If we turned the situation around and took a positive economic step forward, we would start producing more products and become highly productive. Then it would not matter what were the tariffs in other countries because we would be competitive and would accomplish free trade, about which everyone talks. This Bill does not provide free trade. It provides unilateral free trade-everything coming into the country is free; everything going out is taxed.

How can the Government justify this Bill and at the same time go down to Washington and discuss sectoral free trade? That should have been done first and this Bill should have

been brought in second. Our best friend and largest trading partner is the United States of America. It had better remain our friend because it protects us and we buy its products.

I agree with sectoral free trade, but I do not agree with Canada allowing in products from wherever the Government wants at any price. I know this is third reading debate and that I must deal with the Bill. Therefore, I should like to refer to another item about which the Hon. Deputy Whip should be very concerned. I am referring to brandy. French brandy probably has a tariff on it but brandy from communist Russia comes in duty free.

When I look at the area of ceramics, I am glad the Government has left in some protection because a ceramics industry is developing in Canada with fine people who have come from Portugal and Italy, Mexico and Spain. They have developed small cottage industries in the ceramics field. The Government has left reasonable tariffs in place so that ceramics do not come in duty free.

There are parts of the Bill which are right, in particular those which protect the cottage trade in Canada. We must address this area. I have not had an opportunity to review each item covered in the Bill. However, there are other items which could be harmful to the cottage trade. If the cottage trade is flourishing, it means that people are being taken from the welfare and unemployment rolls and being allowed to do something productive.

This is another poor Bill. We do not want to have to vote upon it. However, we realize there are problems and that there are serious implications with our other trading partners if we do not pass it. Once again I state that we must review the auto task force report and the tariffs on the Mercedes Benz from Brazil and the Pony from Korea to ensure that we are protecting jobs in the Canadian automotive industry, which comprises a large portion of our population.

In that my time is up, I thank the House for allowing me to express my concerns about this Bill.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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June 26, 1984