October 10, 1996

LIB

Paul Zed

Liberal

Mr. Paul Zed (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to section 36(8), I have the honour to table in both official languages the government's responses to three petitions.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Government Response To Petitions
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LIB

Fernand Robichaud

Liberal

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Secretary of State (Agriculture and Agri-Food, Fisheries and Oceans), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in recognition of national co-op week from October 13 to 19 and on behalf of the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, minister responsible for co-operatives, I wish to pay tribute to all Canadian who have left us the legacy of a strong co-operative sector and to all those men and women who continue to build on that foundation.

The co-operative is a unique form of business where the best of people and capital meet to address community needs in a democratic fashion.

As community based and democratically controlled organizations whose savings benefit and remain in their local neighbourhoods, co-operatives have contributed to the development of a strong Canadian economy for more than a century.

Co-operatives and credit unions are well recognized for combining economic and social objectives supported by strong corporate citizen behaviour. They offer a proven development model that can assist in our efforts to revitalize rural Canada.

While co-operatives have been historically strong in the agri-food sector, I believe they can play an equally important role in the broader rural economy.

The government has made rural economic renewal a priority. We are committed to forging a renewed partnership with co-operatives to assist them in this effort.

The co-operative sector makes a tremendous contribution to Canada's fabric, from building a strong sense of solidarity within a community to becoming a leader for the processing and marketing of many commodities; from breaking ground in financial technology to maintaining a strong base of enthusiastic volunteers.

All together, co-operatives, caisses populaires and credit unions have a membership of approximately 12 million Canadians, provide jobs for 133,000 people, and represent assets of $143 billion. Over the course of the year, a number of co-operative success stories were collected to demonstrate what can be achieved when concerned and affected people control the identification of priorities, the design of the business plan and the implementation process of a project or program.

The Government of Canada has committed to modernizing its co-operative legislation. The national co-operative associations spent a number of years defining their legislative requirements. A countrywide consultation process on their proposals is currently underway. The Minister of Industry and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food will be looking to the House to support the adoption of a new Co-operatives Act before the end of this parliamentary session. Our co-operatives deserve the best legislative environment to address the new global economy and their need for expanded sources of capital.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the millions of Canadians who have made the co-operative sector a vital and growing part of the Canadian economy.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Co-Operatives
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BQ

Jean-Guy Chrétien

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien (Frontenac, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak about the national co-op week.

As you probably know, the co-op movement has existed in this country since the beginning of the 19th century. The first co-op was a mutual fire insurance company that had its roots in a rural area. However, at the dawn of the 20th century, co-ops no longer restricted their activities to this sector. Indeed, many co-ops were active in sectors such as egg grading, cream processing and grain marketing. The fact is that, in the agricultural supply and marketing

sectors, co-ops were the primary promoters of the Canadian co-op movement.

In Quebec, the biggest promoter was undoubtedly Alphonse Desjardins who, in 1900, founded the first credit union, in Lévis. As we know, the Mouvement Desjardins is now one of the largest financial institutions in Quebec, with assets totalling several billions of dollars. I would be remiss in not mentioning the base, the foundation of the co-op movement, as well as the spirit that guides it. Mutual help, democracy, fairness, solidarity, equality and autonomy are all values that reflect the co-operative movement and the people that are part of it.

In this national co-op week, I want to pay tribute to all those who believe in the co-op movement, who support it, and who play an active role in it. I simply want to thank them.

At the end of 1993, the number of co-ops in the country was estimated at close to 10,000. Therefore, it makes sense to say that the co-op movement plays an increasingly important role in terms of shaping our society and our lifestyle. Whether it is marketing and supply co-ops, production and service co-ops, or financial co-ops, the economy benefits through co-operation.

In 1993, the business transactions of marketing and supply co-ops totalled over $8.8 billion. These co-ops had assets worth about $3.1 billion, and close to $1.2 billion was financed personally by the members. At the same time, the social solidarity and co-operation generated close to 18,000 full-time jobs.

As a former member of the board of the Caisse populaire of Garthby, and the Caisse populaire of Disraëli, and as former chairman of the board of the Société mutuelle contre les incendies du comté de Wolfe, I am aware of the importance and the strength of the co-op movement.

I should also point out that it is in the riding of Frontenac, which I have the honour of representing, that we find the largest co-op of maple syrup producers in the world. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to its members, on behalf of my voters.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Co-Operatives
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REF

Leon Benoit

Reform

Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, it is truly a pleasure for me to rise today on behalf of the Reform Party to pay tribute and to recognize people involved in the co-operative movements.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and compliment the pioneers of the co-op movement. I know that many of us in the Reform caucus, at least 15 involved in a farming operation right now in western Canada and others who are just one generation away from the farm, actually know some of the pioneers who started and developed the co-op movement. This movement has truly been an important part of western Canadian history as it has been for the history of Quebec, Ontario and right across the country.

Co-operatives are a vital economic component of many communities and there are many examples of co-operatives that are leaders in their field. Co-operatives have achieved success in large part because their members and executives are active in the business that the co-operative is involved in. For this reason the boards of directors, so often usually made up of people involved in that particular business, know the business well and make good decisions because of that.

Agriculture co-operatives are as old as the west. I believe because of the farmers directing the co-operative movement and their co-operatives, they will always make the best decisions for the industry. I wish the minister of agriculture would take note of that.

In the presentation the parliamentary secretary did comment on the very positive role of co-operatives, and that role has been particularly positive in agriculture. I wish the minister of agriculture would take his words to heart and apply that belief in the value of a co-operative to the way he deals with the Canadian Wheat Board.

If the Canadian Wheat Board were run much more like a co-operative it would truly represent what farmers want much better. In other words, it would be run by directors who are elected by farmers themselves and the organization would become accountable to farmers. That is really what farmers want with regard to the Canadian Wheat Board more than anything else. Make it more like a co-operative.

Co-ops and credit unions must be congratulated for helping communities develop and improve. They must also be recognized as a player in our economy that has proved competition and has given people another choice, something that makes democracy work very well.

It is with gratitude that on behalf of the Reform Party I acknowledge the accomplishments of co-ops and credit unions. I know all Canadians will encourage them to continue their innovative example of leadership in their own particular business.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Co-Operatives
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LIB

Paul Zed

Liberal

Mr. Paul Zed (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 37th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the associate

membership of some committees. If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 37th report later this day.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

Mr. Peter Milliken (Kingston and the Islands, Lib.)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-336, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.

Mr. Speaker, the annual report of the RCMP public complaints commission in 1989-90 for that financial year recommended a number of changes to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act to improve procedural fairness.

I am happy to reintroduce a bill that I introduced in the last Parliament on this subject which incorporates the changes recommended by that commission. It was commended to Parliament at that time and I am happy to have the opportunity to have hon. members vote through these changes now.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act
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LIB

Paul Zed

Liberal

Mr. Paul Zed (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 37th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented earlier this day be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
Permalink
LIB

John Bryden

Liberal

Mr. John Bryden (Hamilton-Wentworth, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to table a petition signed by some of my constituents of Hamilton-Wentworth, who are requesting that, in the event of a Quebec referendum in favour of separation, Parliament partition the province of Quebec to allow Quebecers living in regions where a majority of voters would have expressed the wish to remain within Canada to do so.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present two petitions. The first is on taxation of the family. It comes from Geraldton, Ontario.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society. The petitioners therefore pray and call upon Parliament to pursue initiatives to eliminate tax discrimination against families who choose to provide care in the home for preschool children, the chronically ill, the aged or the disabled.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

The second petition, Mr. Speaker, concerns labelling of alcoholic beverages and comes from Burlington, Ontario.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that consumption of alcoholic beverages may cause health problems or impair one's ability and specifically, that fetal alcohol syndrome and other alcohol related birth defects are 100 per cent preventable by avoiding alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

The petitioners therefore pray and call upon Parliament to enact legislation to require health warning labels to be placed on the containers of all alcoholic beverages to caution expectant mothers and others of the risks associated with alcohol consumption.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Paul Zed

Liberal

Mr. Zed

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I wonder if with the unanimous consent of the House we might revert to presenting reports from committees. I understand there is another committee report that would be available if the House gave its consent to revert to presenting committee reports.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Does the House give its unanimous consent to revert to presenting reports from committees?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Maurizio Bevilacqua

Liberal

Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua (York North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development regarding Bill C-35, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code (minimum wage).

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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LIB

Paul Zed

Liberal

Mr. Paul Zed (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions On The Order Paper
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?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is it agreed?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions On The Order Paper
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions On The Order Paper
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?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement, Government Orders will be extended by 12 minutes.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions On The Order Paper
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The House resumed from October 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-61, an act to implement the Canada-Israel free trade agreement, be read the second time and referred to a committee.


REF

Charlie Penson

Reform

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, this seems to be a busy week for bills dealing with trade issues, unlike the normal situation where about one bill in trade comes forward per year. We happen to have had two this very week.

We are now debating Bill C-61 which implements Canada's free trade agreement with Israel. I have to admit to being a little surprised at seeing this bill because there certainly was not much fanfare heralding its arrival. The Minister for International Trade signed the free trade agreement with Israel in the dead of summer, on July 31, when most people are about as far removed from what is happening federally as they can get.

Other than a brief announcement, I do not recall any signs that the free trade agreement was in the works. I do not recall any news releases, any articles in the press or any calls for consultations with industry groups that might have wanted some input in the process.

Let me be clear that we are not opposed to this bill. We believe that each step made in the direction of trade liberalization is a good one. I am only surprised at the low key, behind closed doors way in which the deal was struck. There should have been more opportunity for input from industry groups.

We are in favour of trade liberalization. I understand the Liberals are now in favour of free trade as well. I compare them to a born again crusade; all of a sudden they have discovered the virtues of free trade and have embraced it with vigour. I do welcome that.

I recall in 1988 they were very much against free trade and campaigned against free trade in the 1993 election, but here we have the Liberals doing their famous flip-flop. They are becoming free traders with all the will and might they can muster. I do think we are going in the right direction and I am glad the Liberals finally saw the light.

One out of three jobs in Canada is created as a result of our exports. Thirty-seven per cent of our GDP is derived from trade. Growth in the economy has virtually only occurred in the area of exports in the last three years. The domestic side of our economy has been very flat and we do have to credit the growth in our exports as being one way we have been able to grow out of the recession we were in in the early 1990s. I think we are on the right track and I would like to see that continue.

As a matter of fact, I would like to see the next round of the World Trade Organization talks concentrate on further trade liberalization because Canada is in a good position to take advantage of that. We can compete with the best in the world but we have to have the trade rules that back us up and give us the clout in case we have trade harassment.

We have heard a lot about the proposal for the free trade agreement with Chile. There has been a lot of discussion about that agreement being closely patterned after the NAFTA agreement and the potential for that country to eventually enter NAFTA. I welcome that. There has also been talk about the eventual enlargement of NAFTA to join the Mercosur countries of the southern hemisphere to form a free trade area of the Americas. However, with Israel of course we did not hear a word until it happened.

Officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade were kind enough to give us a briefing last Tuesday regarding the free trade deal. They explained that this trade agreement is fairly simple. There is really no point in building an elaborate structure for dealing with a relatively small amount of trade.

Our trade with Israel is really a drop in the bucket when compared to our trade flows with other countries; nonetheless it is important. Exports to Israel totalled $216 million last year, while imports from Israel amounted to $240 million.

Although we are enjoying a big trade surplus now, essentially it is only with one country, the United States, which is of course our largest trading partner. It disturbs me that we continue to run trade deficits with almost all of our other trading partners. The amount we are talking about is almost the same amount as our trade with Cuba.

It is my understanding that the benefits in this agreement will also be extended to the Palestinians. Under normal circumstances trade flows freely between the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. Even with the present closure between Israel and the occupied territories, one would hope this trade agreement would be extended to the people living in the occupied territories as soon as possible.

I find this agreement interesting because it eliminates all tariffs on almost all industrial goods immediately upon implementation on January 1, 1997. Our free trade agreement with the United

States called for a fairly lengthy phase out period, 10 years on some goods. Fortunately we were going to be there by 1998. But with this agreement we are going to zero tariffs overnight, which is absolutely great.

There are only a couple of exceptions and I am not exactly sure why. Ladies swimsuits at the request of a Canadian swimsuit manufacturer and certain cotton fabrics at the request of Israeli manufacturers will have tariffs for another two and a half years. This will allow the affected companies to adjust to the competition over that period of time.

It is interesting to note that non-tariff barriers for the most part will not be allowed. This is following the lead that has been established at the World Trade Organization.

The agriculture sector, because of sensitivities from both sides, has been somewhat excluded from tariff elimination, although Canada has gained an increase in market access for certain commodities. These include grains, grain products, oilseeds, pulse crops, beef and various processed fish products. I have not had a chance to analyse what this might mean for farmers like myself who grow canola, but I think that any opportunity for access into these countries is a good one for us.

It disturbs me a little that Canada continues to protect our supply management industries with tariffs that are as high as 350 per cent. These tariffs are known around the world as Canada's dirty tariffs. We simply must get into the 21st century and realize that it is not in our best interest to continue to support these. A reasonable phase out time to allow for that to happen is acceptable. We have to start that process. I would like to see it done at the next round of the World Trade Organization talks.

Further trade liberalization is good for Canada. We have been one of the main proponents of trade liberalization. Yet right here at home we continue to restrict access to part of our economy. On the other side of the coin, the United States is using similar tactics to restrict access to Canadian supply management producers that compete head-on with the United States.

I understand that the impetus for concluding a trade agreement with Israel at this time is that our largest competitors in that country, the United States and Europe, have had free trade agreements in place for some time. This will put us on a level playing field.

The dispute settlement process in the agreement is fairly straightforward and it is binding. One of my colleagues who will speak later is quite interested in the whole dispute settlement process and will be examining that in some detail. He is concerned that dispute settlement procedures for international agreements are much better than the procedure we have for disputes between the provinces and Canada. It is very interesting that the Liberal government, once it realized the benefits of free trade, aggressively worked toward signing international agreements on trade.

Where the government has fallen down is that it has not been able to put the same processes in place for trade between our provinces. That continues to cost Canadians somewhere in the area of $8 billion a year. The fact that we are not able to trade freely within our own country is a real contradiction. We have better trade agreements with our international partners than we have at home. My colleague from Vegreville will be speaking on this subject later today.

Another colleague who is a well respected economist in his own right will talk about bilateral agreements versus multilateral agreements. I know there is a bit of controversy among trade economists whether countries should enter into bilateral agreements. The argument has to do with efficiency and production. The concern is that the most efficient producer, given a situation in which all tariffs are equal, loses business when his competitor in another country moves to a zero tariff with a buyer. Trade is then diverted from the most efficient producer who, unfortunately, still has to add a tariff to his price. When he sells the product to a foreign country he becomes a less efficient producer.

The industrialized world is moving toward free trade with the World Trade Organization. The next round of trade talks will be held in 1998-99. The process is fairly slow, but we are getting there.

The last Uruguay round of the GATT declared there would be an average 36 per cent drop in tariffs over a six-year period. We are now halfway through that period. That is nothing compared to the 100 per cent drop in tariffs which has been achieved through the signing of the Canada-Israel free trade agreement.

Even though these bilateral deals may divert trade from efficient companies to less efficient ones, they also create new trade which did not exist previously.

I believe that bilateral deals are useful in trying out different rules and in testing different approaches. I suggest that the next bilateral agreement which Canada signs should try to up the ante beyond what we have been able to achieve at the World Trade Organization. We should try to get a proper definition for subsidies, countervail and some other things which were not achieved at the last round of World Trade Organization talks.

We in the Reform Party welcome the bill. We believe that trade liberalization is good for Canada. We are a trading country. We have a relatively small population. Only about 10 per cent of the GDP in the United States is derived from exports. In Canada, 37 per cent of our GDP is derived from exports. We need trade very badly. We need further trade liberalization in order for us to compete.

Canada should be a bit more proactive in the bilateral agreements and at the next round of the World Trade Organization talks. We could have used the opportunity with Israel to get an agreement on subsidies. That is what we should be looking at in our next move. Overall I support the bill. I am pleased that in just two

months manufactured goods will travel between our countries on a daily basis duty free.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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October 10, 1996