March 24, 1992

PC

Michael Holcombe Wilson (Minister for International Trade; Minister of Industry, Science and Technology)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Michael Wilson (Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and Minister for Internationa] TVade):

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend does not acknowledge in his question the fact that we have responded. We have dealt with a number of the questions that the truckers expressed to us when they were here on Parliament Hill.

My colleague, the Minister of Finance, put forward a package of proposals which touched on excise taxes on fuel, on capital cost allowances and a number of other factors which have improved the competitive position of the Canadian trucking industry.

My hon. friend is wrong when he says that the Canadian trucking industry cannot compete internationally. They can compete internationally. One of the problems that they do have is high provincial excise taxes on fuel. They will not have that in the United States when they are going through the United States to Mexico and we believe that they can compete.

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LIB

Sheila Finestone

Liberal

Mrs. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal):

Mr. Speaker, this government is planning to give away, through this trilateral agreement, Canadian control of a key economic lever and a regional development tool. I am talking about our telephone industry.

March 24, 1992

Oral Questions

Why is this government allowing American telephone companies, like AT&T, access to waltz in and dominate these new evolving telephone services. The Canadian people would like to know why the government is surrendering this strategic Canadian sector.

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PC

Michael Holcombe Wilson (Minister for International Trade; Minister of Industry, Science and Technology)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Michael Wilson (Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and Minister for International TVade):

Mr. Speaker, the simple answer is we are not. The American industry can make proposals to get into our basic telephone system. We have said no.

She asks what about the enhanced industiy. In the enhanced sector of the telecommunications industry, the major value-added products, the Canadian industry is a world leader. Surely she should be on my back saying: "We have to get access to the U.S. market. We have to get access to the Mexican market for enhanced telecommunications because we are world leaders there. We can compete. There is extremely good business for us there".

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LIB

Sheila Finestone

Liberal

Mrs. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal):

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the minister that Canadians want to make the decisions for themselves and they want Canadian ownership of their Canadian properties.

Why has this government already tabled a bill that would leave the telecommunications field wide open to the Americans and thus allow them to take over Canadian industries? Isn't it true that the government is implementing its trade agreement through the back door before it has even been signed?

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PC

Michael Holcombe Wilson (Minister for International Trade; Minister of Industry, Science and Technology)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Michael Wilson (Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and Minister for International Trade):

Mr. Speaker, my colleague the Minister of Communications tabled a bill, I believe on February 27, which reconfirms the 80 per cent ownership of that industry.

That is not the subject of negotiation.

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LIB

John Paul Manley

Liberal

Mr. John Manley (Ottawa South):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back to the Minister of Transport on the issue of the proposed NAFTA agreement and the wording in it which the Minister for International Trade has suggested will not be affected as a result of the

uneven playing field on which the Canadian transportation industiy currently operates.

The minister should know the dangers that have been raised again and again by our truckers most recently, as well as by our rail and other land transporters, have been related to the lack of an even playing field between Canada and the U.S.

Why does the minister not have some solution to this lack of an even playing field to put forward before turning Canada's land transportation industiy over to the hub and spoke where Canada will be one of the weak spokes on a U.S. hub?

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PC

Michael Holcombe Wilson (Minister for International Trade; Minister of Industry, Science and Technology)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Michael Wilson (Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and Minister for International TVade):

Mr. Speaker, I just commented in response to a question from the New Democratic Party that we have made some changes to the tax system which affect the competitiveness of the Canadian trucking industry. I think my hon. friend should be calling on some of the provincial governments to match what we have done in order to build upon those changes and help build the level playing field that he is looking for.

As far as the objectives that we have in this proposed agreement with the United States and Mexico, our objective is to enter into any changes in trucking or other land transportation relationships which will strengthen the industiy here in Canada.

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LIB

John Paul Manley

Liberal

Mr. John Manley (Ottawa South):

Mr. Speaker, let us continue with transportation and go from land to water.

The government knows that in the Jones act, the United States has a major element for protection of important parts of its transportation network. We now know that the government is willing to give up on our land transportation to continental pressures.

How can the government be so cavalier about Canada's land transportation system in the face of very severe U.S. protectionism on the water?

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PC

Michael Holcombe Wilson (Minister for International Trade; Minister of Industry, Science and Technology)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Michael Wilson (Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and Minister for International TVade):

Mr. Speaker, if my hon. friend would refer back to an answer I gave in the House two or three months ago, I said that one of our objectives is to break open the Jones act. That is one of the key objectives of the policy?.

March 24, 1992

Oral Questions

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REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

PC

William D. (Bill) Casey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland -Colchester):

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Public Works and it refers to the fixed link which will have a very dramatic impact on the economy and provide a tremendous boost to all of Atlantic Canada.

I wonder if the minister could give us an update on the status and outline the economic impact. Also, will the opportunity be made available to the Atlantic region?

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Subtopic:   REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
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PC

Elmer MacIntosh MacKay (Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; Minister of Public Works)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Elmer M. MacKay (Minister of Public Works):

Mr. Speaker, I realize, and the House realizes, the interest of my hon. colleague in this project.

I am not a prophet but I can say to him that I do believe that if we can perhaps overcome some of the obstacles and have the enthusiastic support of the Atlantic premiers, this project will provide considerable numbers of jobs during construction. It will obviously enhance tourism and regional economic development.

I believe that with the co-operation of our government and the provinces, this will be a substantial and perhaps very tangible project that will help the economy of Atlantic Canada in years to come.

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Subtopic:   REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
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FALSE INDIAN ID CARDS

PC

Lise Bourgault

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Lise Bourgault (Argenteuil-Papineau):

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of National Revenue.

Hundreds of business people in Quebec and Ontario failed to charge taxes on items purchased by holders of false Indian ID cards, fraudulently issued by an organization called Amities autochtones hors reserve.

Since the real culprits are the federal departments that failed to take immediate action to deal with this swindle, which has been going on at least since September 1991, could the minister give the House the assurance that instead of harassing these business people, the Department of National Revenue will inform Canadian businesses of the rules that apply when a genuine Indian makes a purchase in their establishment off the reserve?

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Subtopic:   FALSE INDIAN ID CARDS
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PC

Otto John Jelinek (Minister of National Revenue)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Otto Jelinek (Minister of National Revenue):

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to assure the House that we do not harass anybody. In fact, yesterday's headlines and an audit report confirmed that tax collectors are being nice. "Thx men gentle, a federal audit finds". In fact, we have become a gentler and a kinder department than the one we we inherited from those hard-headed Liberals.

Specifically, I would like to answer the hon. member by saying that the simple presentation of a native ID card does not exempt anybody. Exemptions of the GST are only allowed for purchases of goods or services on the reserves or if the delivery is made to the reserve.

I will conclude by saying that there is an extensive educational and consultative program with aboriginal people on reserves, as well as across the country, for the benefit of all business people.

OLYMPIA & YORK DEVELOPMENT LTD.

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Subtopic:   FALSE INDIAN ID CARDS
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NDP

John R. Rodriguez

New Democratic Party

Mr. John R. Rodriguez (Nickel Belt):

Mr. Speaker, once more it appears this government is answering the bugle call of Bay Street, calling for a bail-out for bad investments.

It seems the market is quite happy to have the government intervene when the wealthy few play Monopoly with taxpayers' money.

My question is for whoever is answering for the Minister of Finance today. It seems Olympia & York, the Monopoly tycoons have over-built on their version of Park Place and are being forced to restructure an estimated $20 billion, of which more than $2 billion is owed to Canadian banks.

Will the minister assure Canadians that the banks will not get any special tax breaks nor be allowed to write off real estate speculation on the backs of Canadian taxpayers.

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Subtopic:   FALSE INDIAN ID CARDS
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PC

John Horton McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization)):

Mr. Speaker, the government has had discussions with national financial institutions and international financial institutions together with the Government of Ontario in assuring that there will be little disruption in the financial markets. I believe that is the

March 24, 1992

Oral Questions

role of the federal government. No decisions have yet been made. Discussions are ongoing.

I will be pleased to inform the hon. member and the House if any decision is made in the near future.

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Subtopic:   FALSE INDIAN ID CARDS
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NDP

John R. Rodriguez

New Democratic Party

Mr. John R. Rodriguez (Nickel Belt):

Mr. Speaker, my supplementary question is for the minister of corporate and consumer affairs.

Our experience has been that when Canadian banks have a $2 billion haemorrhage, they turn to their domestic blood banks.

Will the minister immediately order his department to closely monitor bank service charges so they are not used as a blood transfusion for Olympia & York?

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Subtopic:   FALSE INDIAN ID CARDS
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PC

Pierre Blais (Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs; Minister of State (Agriculture))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre Blais (Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)):

Mr. Speaker, as far as the banks are concerned, I would have preferred the hon. member to congratulate us on getting the banks to reduce interest rates on credit cards. This is something the hon. member has been demanding for months, and there has been a significant reduction. I would have preferred that.

However, as far as the hon. member's question is concerned, my department will monitor the situation very closely. Since no decision has been made so far, we will look at the situation very closely, but since no decision has been made one way or another, I have nothing to report at this time.

stance to the so-called top priorities. I want to ask the Minister for International Trade, what happened to health? What happened to safety? What happened to the commitment to the Canadian environment and to the international environment? What happened to the rights of Canadian workers?

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Subtopic:   FALSE INDIAN ID CARDS
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PC

Michael Holcombe Wilson (Minister for International Trade; Minister of Industry, Science and Technology)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Michael Wilson (Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and Minister for International TVade):

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend is well aware of the fact that we made it clear right from the start that we were not negotiating the matters he refers to as an integral part of the trade agreement.

We have some very extensive discussions under way on the labour standards, on environmental regulations, on environmental protection and enforcement, on a parallel basis with the Mexican administration. My colleague, the Minister of the Environment, was in Mexico quite recently in support of our efforts in this regard. We have had discussions with the labour movement in Canada as to how best we should conduct these discussions and negotiations on labour standards. That work continues.

I might say to my hon. friend that it is being effective in drawing out some agreements. My colleague on the environment and the Secretary of State for External Affairs announced something quite recently to assist the Mexicans in enforcement. My hon. friend is well aware that the problem with the Mexicans and the environment is not environmental standards. It is in the enforcement of those standards where we are determined to give them every assistance we can.

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March 24, 1992