October 10, 1996

?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

We will now move to the next stage of debate where member's interventions will be limited to 20 minutes and subject to 10 minutes of questions or comments.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Mr. Joseph Volpe (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that my colleague opposite is in complete agreement with the initiative put forward by the Minister for International Trade. It shows great foresight.

I do not mean any disrespect by this, but the hon. member, who sits on the international trade committee, has for the last three years applauded all moves which liberalized trade and that increased Canadian business opportunities abroad. Generally speaking, he has been very supportive of the kinds of initiatives that the bill presents. He is unlike many of his Reform colleagues in that regard. We have actually seen eye to eye.

I want to stress some aspects of the bilateral relationships between Canada and Israel and remind members here in the House of the speech the minister made last night.

For some time now, Canada and Israel have had an excellent relationship based on shared values and strong bilateral and social ties. Given the current critical situation, we are supporting the efforts made by Israel and its neighbours to achieve a legitimate, global and durable peace in the Middle East.

While Canada was negotiating NAFTA with the United States and Mexico, Israel was increasing its commercial ties by signing free trade agreements with the United States and, more recently, with the European Union, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

While that may have been a great idea for the Israelis, for the Europeans, for the Americans, it put us and our businesses at a slight disadvantage.

Trade between Canada and Israel was, however, stagnating. In November 1994, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the late Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, decided to do something about it. The leaders announced the beginning of negotiations that would hopefully lead to a free trade agreement between their two countries.

Last January, Canada and Israel reached a tentative agreement that both governments kept trying to improve upon.

While it would be my intention to applaud not only the foresight of the Prime Minister in this case and the diligent work of the Minister for International Trade, I would be greatly remiss if I did not acknowledge the focus of the individuals involved in the genesis of this idea, the generation of energy that led to its fruition, if I did not also underline the democratic process that led to this deal.

As my colleagues on both sides of the opposition have indicated, this trade deal is one to be lauded, not so much for of its grandeur because it may have some limitations in relation to the kinds of business we do with the United States and other countries, but it is an important and crucial first step. Quite often many of us feel dwarfed by the magnitude of government and by what appears to be the inaccessibility of the decision making process.

If members will allow me a personal reflection, this trade deal was really born out of a desire of entrepreneurs in Canada who saw opportunities emerging in the Middle East, and Israel in particular. They noticed that, notwithstanding all the difficulties that the area was having, because of the enormous influx of immigrants into Israel and because of the initiatives of the Israeli government to reach out and make peace and at the same time establish economic ties with its partners, there was a mini-economic boom.

The Europeans were the first to notice this. Their companies, with the support of their governments, were able to develop a niche market that had started initially with the growth of tourism. It may come as a surprise to most members, but the tourism industry and related industries are at their most potent right in the Middle East, most particularly in and around Israel.

That boom in the tourism industry allowed for enormous demand, much more than the area could supply for such things as furniture, for example, or textiles and clothing but also in the petrochemical and chemical industries.

Our entrepreneurs in the Toronto-Montreal area found that, notwithstanding the competitiveness of their product and the quality of their materials they could not compete with the Europeans or the Americans because of the free trade agreements they had struck with Israel. They asked the then leader of our party, now the current Prime Minister of Canada, if he could address this at a public meeting. The soon to be Prime Minister was asked if he would address this vacuum in Canadian international trade policy. Notwithstanding the dangers that address might put the party in, he promised he would do it. This he did immediately on assuming the

mantle of Prime Minister. We have seen the results. After two years of negotiations we finally have a deal.

As well, many of my constituents who were involved in the initial genesis, the push toward getting government foreign policy and international trade policy to respond to the interests of entrepreneurs in Canada, took every opportunity to remind me as their local member and other members from Toronto and Montreal that this treaty needed to be signed. Not only would it benefit Canadians economically, it would give us indirect access to the European Union. I know my colleague from the Reform Party would appreciate that.

It took a while for people to respond because obviously the details of such a deal had to be worked out. It is a credit to the people who were involved in this. I met them last July when the Minister for International Trade signed with his counterpart, Natan Sharansky in Toronto. Obviously there was some assiduous work to ensure that the deal would take place so that the new bilateral relations between Canada and Israel would work to the advantage of both parties.

Statistics were related by the Minister for International Trade yesterday and repeated by my colleagues from the Bloc and the Reform Party this morning. Trade has already picked up in some areas by as much as 37 per cent and in others by 49 per cent over last year. Such is the impact of the discussions of such a deal. We can anticipate that much more will happen as soon as the agreement has been inked. I am hoping that the House will approve this today following the debate.

In a crucial area like the Middle East, the presence of Canada whose reputation for altruism as seen through its peacekeeping efforts everywhere throughout the world would be a welcome addition. It has no interest except as one that would introduce expertise in the areas of the region that need it most. I pointed to petrochemical industries. The minister pointed to the electronic and agri-products industries.

When we speak of Israel we are speaking of relations with a country which is not much larger than Prince Edward Island and half of it is desert. Most people can develop policy by shouting from one city to another, in the same way that we shout at each other in the House. The place is intimate, the proximity of one market to another is such that most of us would not appreciate the impact for economic secrets.

However, the presence of Canada, not only as a peacekeeper but as a nation of entrepreneurs, that is willing and ready to provide not only its products but also its expertise will provide Canada, the Middle East and particularly Israel an opportunity to see how things can and should work.

Both opposition parties have indicated that they recognize the import of Canada's initiative of strongly promoting that such a deal also be made available to the Palestinians in the area. I think it is marvellous that the Israelis saw an opportunity for a lasting peace with a Canadian presence on an economic and political basis.

The bill is one that reflects not only what entrepreneurs wanted because it was generated in part by entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity and seized the chance to apprise their government of it and then follow it through together with the bureaucracies of both countries to ensure that legislation would come forward which would cement the ties both were willing to establish.

We have already seen some of the product of that. We have seen some of the flower of that activity. I look forward to a greater, more blossoming economic activity and political participation on both sides.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you and colleagues for their attention. I thank them in particular for their support.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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REF

Jim Silye

Reform

Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that we support free trade and we support bilateral trade agreements that are negotiated by our representatives.

I find it interesting to listen to the hon. member from the government side using such flowing and glowing eloquent language when describing this trade deal, but I wonder about the hypocrisy from the other side.

When the Liberals were in opposition and when they had a leader by the name of John Turner, they ran a whole election campaign which caused me a lot of grief. I had to hold my nose while I voted for the Conservatives because I favoured free trade.

I did not want to vote them in for another session. I did not want them to be here for another four years because they were incompetent. They were running the government very poorly. They were overspending. They promised tax cuts and did they give us tax cuts? They gave us tax increases. They promised integrity in government and what did they give us? They gave us nine cabinet ministers who quit in the first four years.

In opposition they debated how free trade is not good and in the best interests of Canada, and how North American free trade is no good for Canada. We just have to go back into Hansard .

John Turner ran a campaign against Brian Mulroney on free trade. That was the issue and the people over there, many who were in that campaign, were against it. Now we have every one of them, including the Prime Minister, saying free trade is great, quote the trade statistics.

Thank goodness we have free trade because that is what is saving their butt in terms of jobs and job creation. The only reason our economy is growing is our trade agreements. That is what is making it grow. Domestic growth is nil. It is next to nothing. There are no jobs in Canada. There are 1.4 million people out of work.

Thank God the jobs that are being created, those 600,000 jobs they brag about, over half of them are probably due to the trade.

What I do not understand is the hypocrisy of politicians who say one thing in opposition and then when they get on the government side they flip-flop. I am not sure if this member has flip-flopped. I am not accusing this member of flip-flopping. I am sure based on his speech, I am positive based on his speech, that he believed in free trade when he was in opposition. He believed in free trade when John Turner was running against it. He believed in free trade all the way. I am sure he did because you cannot use language like that today, having argued against it yesterday.

The hon. member is anxious to get up and I will let him get up, but I want to make a serious comment. I want to repeat it so that everybody understands my point.

My point is why say that you are against something in opposition, then go over to the government and be in favour of it and in such a way that they always believed in it? It does not make sense to me. Thank goodness for the wonderful rebirth of the Liberal Party in terms of understanding the economy of the country and I compliment it for flip-flopping.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Mr. Volpe

Mr. Speaker, I am not accustomed to his phrase flip-flop. It is not part of the thesaurus that I read.

I thank my colleague for pointing out why Canadians decided very decisively in the last election that they could no longer brook the kinds of people that were administering, in fact misadministering, the country.

I am pleased that he realized that this government, this administration, my party, has taken all the appropriate steps to ensure that bad decisions were redimensioned, that adjustment programs were provided, that the direction required for trade deals be appropriately moved so that the benefits to Canada could accrue in an accumulative fashion.

I am glad that he has noted that it has worked. He has pointed already to the impact of increased trade on the domestic economy. For that I thank him. He has pointed to the impact of this administration's approach to world trade, liberalized trade and its impact on the nation's finances. He has pointed to the importance of this kind of growth to the fiscal policies and to the impact on the interest rates which have accrued to Canadians, which is a very immediate and very profound financial impact. For all of these things I thank the member opposite.

I want to thank him as well for recognizing that the country is run by an administration that realizes the importance of a changing world, the dimensions of that kind of change, the impacts of implementations of measures to deal with those changes and to bring them to a point where Canadians are very much an integral part of a globalized economy, of a globalized political economy, one in which they can look forward to a future with prosperity and growth.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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REF

Charlie Penson

Reform

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the comments of the parliamentary secretary for health and his recognition that indeed the Liberal Party has finally decided that free trade is an attribute and one that has been very successful in transforming the Canadian economy into one of growth.

As my colleague from Calgary centre has just stated, the domestic economy has not recovered. There still is not the confidence there with consumers but on the trade side, on the export side we have been very aggressive. We have done a good job and there has been tremendous growth.

I know the Liberal Party has done a major conversion here and now they think that free trade is good. Canada generally has been a leader in trying to put together the trade deals that are necessary. As I said earlier, we can compete with anybody on a level playing field but we cannot compete with subsidies from other countries and high tariffs.

At the last round of the GATT talks which the Liberals took over at the very end, they favoured supply management, article XI, which would preserve border closures and stop any product from coming into the country in terms of supply managed farm products. Canada became isolated at those trade talks. We were the only country that finally took that view and continued to take that view although it was not one that was conducive to free trade and it still is not.

We have moved to tariffs now, 350 per cent tariff on butter. Surely for a country that espouses free trade, trade liberalization, and has since after the second world war, are we not in a real contradiction here that we want free trade in other countries, we want access to their markets, but we will not provide it for the supply managed farm industry here at home?

I would like the parliamentary secretary to comment on that question.

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Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Mr. Volpe

Mr. Speaker, I compliment the hon. member from Peace River. He and I sat on the international trade committee and on the foreign affairs committee for about two years. He has been insistent and persistent in his approach in defending the interest he feels he was elected to defend. I say that with no disrespect. It is important that members keep their minds on the issues.

In the course of those debates in that committee he pointed to this issue on more than one occasion. In fact, he was part of a series of studies that the committees undertook and participated in to bring just such issues forward.

The question of adjustments is not one that is going to be answered immediately in one debate in the House, nor dare I say, as we both found, in one committee. He pointed to the fact that Canada found itself isolated but that is part of the negotiating process. We entered into GATT, we entered into the World Trade Organization precisely because we wanted to ensure that the world recognizes certain standards, certain rules for dealing, for trading. We had to defend our own interests until we can find an alternative way to defend those interests.

In the context of those two organizations, we had to negotiate and we continue to negotiate for the interests of Canadians. I do not think we need to apologize for that, notwithstanding the philosophical positions other people have.

If farmers in Canada feel unhappy about the fact that we have defended their interests I would like them to say so. If what the member is saying, that defending our interests runs counter to the philosophical positions espoused by other countries and promoted by other countries to their own interest, that is a discussion that we can have a little later on. However, that is not what I am going to apologize for.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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BQ

Stéphane Bergeron

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I find the debate that has been going on between our colleagues for the last minutes interesting. It illustrates quite well what my colleague for Terrebonne referred to yesterday, that is, for almost the last three years now, we have been amazed to hear the Liberal government speak in favour of free trade in this House and on at forums around the world, since it was so opposed to the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and, later on, to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Thus, like our colleagues of the Reform Party, we are very happy to see this quite spectacular conversion on the part of our Liberal colleagues.

This being said, I am happy to rise today in this House to speak on Bill C-61, an Act to implement the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.

I must say at the outset that, even though we are critical of the way in which the Liberal government singularly excluded the official opposition from the negotiations along with all the other players interested in expressing their points of view on this matter, the government can be assured of the support of the Bloc Quebecois because we are in favour of free trade and globalization of markets, which anyway reflect an irreversible trend in world trade.

After the United States and Mexico, here is a third state, which is a lot farther from our frontiers, that will in all likelihood, in January, 1997, enter the group of countries with which Canada will remove all trade barriers.

The Bloc Quebecois favours the establishment of closer ties between Israel and Canada. We think that Quebecers and Canadians can only win from such an agreement, since the free flow of goods and the increased competition promoted by free trade will give our respective peoples access to a larger range of products at better costs. For these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of this free trade agreement, which, as I said, will allow Canadian businesses to increase their presence in Israel and eventually in other countries in the Near or the Middle East.

This free trade agreement with Israel is designed to eliminate practically all duties on products traded between the two countries. Israel, with a population of 6 million-which, by the way, is just a little smaller than the population of Quebec-will have closer ties to Canada since tariff barriers that have restricted the free movement of goods until now will soon be eliminated.

This bill, which is divided into three parts and includes 62 clauses, will provide, among other things, for the elimination of duties on all industrial products as of January 1, 1997, except for two products for which the elimination of duties will be done more gradually, namely women's bathing suits and certain cotton fabrics.

In addition to those two products, the agreement also provides for a reduction of duties on most agri-food products, except for dairy products as well as egg and poultry products, as agreed by both parties.

This agreement comes just at the right moment to promote trade between Canada and Israel. In 1995, bilateral trade between the two countries reached $450 million or so, a 37 per cent increase from the previous year. As for Canadian exports to Israel, they stood at $236 million in 1995, up practically 50 per cent from 1994.

Trade between Canada and Israel has been increasing constantly over the last few years.

This is why the time has come to eliminate the trade barriers between the two countries. As Quebec's Deputy Prime Minister was saying, in October 1995, in a letter to the federal Minister of International Trade, Quebec, and I quote: "[-] has always been a strong defender of freer trade between countries-he was referring to the Free Trade Agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the World Trade Organization-and still supports freer trade as an instrument of growth". The Bloc Quebecois is in complete agreement with this view.

What is special about the State of Israel is that it is located in a geopolitical context completely different from ours. The history of the Jewish state has not been all peace and tranquillity, for most of the neighbouring Arab countries have been in an official state of war against it since its creation in 1948.

Certain events in the recent history of Israel are more significant than others. For example, the Six Day War that took place in 1967, culminating in Israel's victory over its neighbours, resulted in the occupation of territories that unfortunately has continued right up until the present.

The names of these territories continue to be well known to us today, because they are still at the centre of world news. Naturally, this presence only adds to tensions between Jews and Arabs, because even though Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1982 and from the Gaza Strip in 1994, it still occupies East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the greater part of the West Bank.

However, in spite of the peace process set in motion in Madrid in 1991, followed by the signature of the 1994 accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, better known as the PLO, the peace process still has a long way to go.

The tragic assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 5, 1995, dealt a disastrous blow to the peace process. This man, whose goal for many years had been to see the people of Israel finally able to live free of conflict, said in his last speech, just moments before being shot down by a young fanatic: "I was a man of war, but today we have a chance at peace. I believe we must take this chance, so deep is our yearning for an end to the conflict".

His assassination led to a deterioration in the situation. Last spring, the repeated suicide bombings by the Hezbollah prompted the Israeli army to carry out air raids and bombing attacks on southern Lebanon. These attacks left over 150 Lebanese dead, most of them civilians.

A few weeks ago, the decision by the new government of Benjamin Netanyahu to reopen the underground gallery leading to the site of the Al-Aqsar Mosque, the third most sacred Islamic religious site, led to riots in which some fifty Palestinians and some fifteen Israelis were killed. We sincerely hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu will re-examine his current hard line with respect to Palestinian autonomy.

It may be worthwhile to point out that the present Canadian government constantly maintains that human rights are promoted through trade links. Yet, the state of Israel has already signed a free trade agreement with the United States, in 1985, followed by a similar one with the European Union in 1988, and now with Canada. But have we seen any improvement in the situation? No.

We believe that the Israeli government ought now to be seeking solutions for reconciliation with the Palestinian authorities. After all, is politics not the art of compromise? Speaking of compromise, it would certainly be worth while to explore the possibility of expanding this free trade agreement to the Palestinians living in the occupied territories.

The first step would, of course, be to obtain the go-ahead from the Palestinian authorities, in order to have the assurance that their inclusion in an Israel-Canada treaty was indeed what they wanted. It is possible that, expansion of the agreement to include the Palestinians would result in increased employment in the occupied territories, which might eventually contribute to stabilizing the social climate.

The negotiations leading to the signature of this agreement were held throughout this entire troubled period. They began in November 1994, and ran until January 1996, and led to an agreement signed by the Minister of International Trade for Canada and the Israeli Minister of Trade and Industry, on July 31, 1996.

As the party forming the official opposition, we have difficulty accepting that virtually the entire process leading to this agreement was held in secret, with no public debate whatsoever. It is understandable that the negotiating process itself needs to be carried out behind closed doors, that is natural. We know that the negotiators are faced with a tough job and have to negotiate many pitfalls and obstacles, but we would appreciate progress reports on the negotiations.

Now we are not asking for parliamentarians to be present at the negotiating table, but we do believe that in a democracy, it is important to avoid any systematic exclusion of those who represent the people.

Remember that the most important issue in the 1988 election was the free trade agreement between Canada and the United States, to which the Liberals were opposed. Many groups that knew they would be affected by the agreement could therefore take part in the debate.

It was by defending their points of view and by making representations to the political authorities, that stakeholders, company directors and spokespersons for community and environmental groups were able to influence the tenor of the clauses included in the agreement before it was signed.

During the negotiations leading up to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the unions took a position on labour-related issues and expressed their fears about NAFTA. Environmental groups also expressed their concerns about environmental issues. Although the results were not satisfactory to all stakeholders, the fact remains that before the agreement was signed in December 1992, there had been had a major debate in the public arena.

The treaty dealt with in the bill before the House today has now been signed. Negotiations have been finalized and nothing can be changed. Without repeated interventions by the official opposition, which managed to draw the government's attention to the problems that such an agreement would represent for the lingerie and bathing

suit industry in Quebec, decisions that would have had a disastrous impact on this sector might have been made.

In fact, this industry would have been in serious jeopardy, since the State of Israel imports its fabrics from the European Union duty free, which it gives it a competitive edge on Quebec and Canadian markets. If we had not raised this issue in the House in November 1995, it is not certain that the negotiators would have been aware of the problem. And perhaps hundreds of jobs would have been lost in the process, especially in Quebec.

Canada is now busy negotiating free trade treaties right and left. We approve of the opening up of this country to various markets, but it is absolutely necessary to review the process leading up to the signing of these agreements.

The bathing suit issue is only one example of the potentially negative consequences of an agreement negotiated without public consultation. Although the agreement with Israel has already been signed, there is still time to improve the process for future free trade agreements being considered by this government. We are thinking for instance of current negotiations taking place between Canada and Chile, which are to lead to the signing of an agreement on or about November 15 this year.

Officials at Foreign Affairs and International Trade have given us the assurance that information on these negotiations will be made available to us. We can only hope that the ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs and International Trade are prepared to give their approval for the release of such information.

It is imperative to prevent a recurrence of this kind of situation, so that the opposition can do its job properly. Such a cavalier attitude on the part of the government is troubling, especially because the government knew quite well it could count on the support of opposition parties. Why persist in infuriating opposition parties when we could have presented the picture of a solid consensus to our trading partners?

If the government really wants open and transparent debates, it should practice openness and transparency itself. Otherwise, we will have to conclude, as it is the case now, that it prefers secrecy and obscurity. I plan to demonstrate the extent of this government's pettiness and inordinate mysteriousness with the official opposition on this whole issue.

Last April 25, during a special session of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on Israeli bombardments in South Lebanon, I conveyed to department representatives my reservations concerning the negotiations on free trade with Israel when it was bombarding civilian populations and openly crossing the internationally recognized borders of another independent country.

One official of the department replied that negotiations were interrupted pending the election of a new government in Israel. That statement seemed confirmed later on by replies we received from the Office of the Minister of International Trade. In fact, in May and June, we called the office of the minister a few times to find out when the negotiations would end and when the agreement would be signed and we were always told that the agreement was to be signed only in January 1997.

And yet, a few weeks ago-on September 19, to be exact-the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs informed the committee members that the agreement had been ready to be signed since March, and that the official signing, which was to have taken place during a visit of the Prime Minister of Israel in Canada, had been postponed because of the elections in Israel. This is what we are criticizing.

It would appear that the agreement with Chile will be much more exhaustive than the one before us today. The agreement with Chile is supposed to be modelled on NAFTA. Since it will be more encompassing, there are many issues which would have been interesting to raise with Chile prior to promoting the agreement. Cases in point are standards regarding the environment, labour in general and child labour, in particular. The agreement with Israel is limited to goods and, as such, does not include services or investments.

Last week, we met with Oxfam Canada representatives who told us how concerned they were with the lack of protection on social issues negotiations seem to be leading to.

According to this organization, the agreement, the content of which will be made public when it is signed, around November 15, will undoubtedly not contain stringent enough rules on the environment and labour.

Even though Chile is undergoing tremendous economic growth, too many of its citizens still live in poverty as a result of the polarization of wealth. Therefore, it would have been desirable, both for Chile's sake and Canada's, that these issues be looked at more carefully. This is why it would be important to know how the negotiations are going prior to the House being presented with a bill implementing the agreement.

At least Bill C-61 before us today has the merit of stimulating exports and levelling the playing field for our companies competing with American and European firms, which have benefited from preferential access to the Israeli market for some time now.

The Bloc Quebecois, therefore, will support this bill to implement a free trade agreement with Israel, while condemning the fact that the elected representatives in this House were kept in the dark with regard to the negotiations and the issues raised during the discussions. It is not by hiding each of the negotiating steps leading to the conclusion of such important treaties that we will be able to reasonably debate the themes and issues that will affect the daily lives of our fellow contrymen.

That is why, as I said earlier, the Departments of Foreign Affairs and International Trade should keep the members of this House informed of the status of negotiations, if we are to have an informed and responsible debate. Our position regarding Bill C-61, which goes in the same direction as the government's, shows once again how serious our party is when it comes to the interests of our constituents and their willingness to promote entrepreneurship.

In conclusion, let me quote a short excerpt from the dissenting opinion the Bloc Quebecois gave in November 1994, during the review of Canada's foreign policy: "Quebecers are not protectionists. They have shown it by strongly supporting the free trade agreement, the North American free trade agreement and the Uruguay round of GATT talks. Must we remind the House that Quebec's determination was the spearhead of the free trade movement in the 1980s? Far from seeing Quebec's sovereignist movement as a withdrawal into itself in response to economic globalization, we perceive it as an openness to the world".

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Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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LIB

John Bryden

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for some excellent remarks.

I would like to draw his attention to something that was said by the minister in his speech yesterday. I quote from Hansard . The minister said in reference to the free trade agreement: ``Why Israel? Israel and Canada have long enjoyed close relations. Our relationship is rooted in common values and shared democratic beliefs, the belief in freedom and the dignity of the individual''.

Yet we have a new regime in Israel under Mr. Netanyahu which has taken a very hard line with respect to the peace process, a very hard line with respect to the Palestinians. We have seen an outburst of violence on the West Bank.

I would like to ask my colleague whether he thinks, in supporting Bill C-61 which in essence ratifies the free trade agreement, we also endorse the policies of Mr. Netanyahu with respect to the Palestinians on the West Bank.

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BQ

Stéphane Bergeron

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Bergeron

Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. colleague has just asked me a very important question. I touched on this matter in my speech.

Last spring, we in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade had a special meeting on the Israeli bombing in southern Lebanon. We were concerned at the time about the Canadian government beginning or pursuing free trade negotiations with the state of Israel, which was then bombing civilian populations in southern Lebanon and openly violating the internationally recognized borders of another sovereign state, Lebanon. We asked officials in these departments if they intended to suspend negotiations. All they said was that negotiations were suspended anyway, since they were waiting for the results of the Israeli election.

We then found out that negotiations had not been suspended, that the agreement was in fact ready for signing as early as March. This shows the government's contempt, if I may use this word, for the members of this House and the committee, as we should never have been told negotiations had been suspended when the agreement was in fact ready to be signed.

We did express reservations about the signing of this free trade agreement with Israel, given the Israeli government's somewhat intransigent attitude toward the Arab populations both within and beyond its borders.

This is why we ask that this agreement be extended to the Palestinian populations of the occupied territories, in the hope that this will eventually improve their economic situation. We also want to improve the social climate in the Israeli occupied territories.

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REF

Jim Silye

Reform

Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Bloc member.

I have been dying to ask this member a question because I have a concern. This is a trade agreement and he knows full well that, as my colleague mentioned earlier, there is a protective tariff system in effect in this country, especially with subsidizing the dairy industry in Quebec.

We pay over and above the next lowest price we could get our dairy products for, 350 per cent supply management tariff. We subsidize that product in Quebec. It is a huge component of Quebec's economy.

The member was sent to this House by the people of his constituency to break this country up. The people in his riding say they want to go on their own and they want him to fight for that. They also say they will be better off once they leave and that they will not have to pay for this expensive overhead that Ottawa generates. They will be able to do it better themselves and economically they will be better off. The people his riding think they will be better off if they separate. A large component of their industry is the dairy industry which is subsidized by consumers across Canada, including Quebecers.

Does he believe that if Quebec separates we are going to continue to buy our product at a 350 per cent subsidized price from the province of Quebec, from the new country of Quebec or whatever it will be called?

I feel that the issue of trade, of economics and of separation can be reduced to a simple argument which may be a reality that might sink in to the people of his riding as to the cost of separation, to whether the burden of proof should be on the separatists to prove to the people of Quebec that they will be better off in trade after separation.

The Liberal member earlier asked why Israel. I ask, after separation why Quebec? We can get our product from ourselves. We can be the dairy industry to the rest of Canada. We can get it from the United States. They will become a competitor. Competition creates the best marketplace. The competition will reduce the revenue to the people in Quebec and Quebecers will have to compete. They will no longer be subsidized. The reality is they will be worse off. Would the hon. member like to comment on that subsidy?

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BQ

Stéphane Bergeron

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Bergeron

Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if the hon. member would finally give me the opportunity to answer the question which he has been dying to ask me for such a long time. Since he had several minutes to keep repeating his question, I hope you will give me a few minutes to keep repeating my answer.

First, I must point out that it is not proper to use the current debate on the free trade agreement between Canada and Israel to settle accounts relating to the constitutional issue. We will have ample opportunity, during other debates in this House and in other forums, to settle our accounts regarding the constitutional issue.

That being said, I am pleased to answer the hon. member's question. His question is not only inappropriate, it is also insidious and, in my opinion, it shows the member's lack of knowledge of the supply management system, in Canada and in Quebec, for agricultural products.

To be sure, Quebec's dairy industry is largely subsidized by the federal government, but the member should also know that the egg and poultry industries are also largely subsidized. And, while Quebec is a major producer of dairy products, it is not one of the major producers of eggs and poultry in Canada.

Therefore, should the supply management system be eliminated, Quebec would lose, but so would Ontario and other Canadian provinces.

Again, the member's question indicates a lack of knowledge of Canada's supply management system, but I will say no more.

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Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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REF

Jim Silye

Reform

Mr. Silye

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that I do not fail to grasp this issue. I do understand this issue. It is the consumers I am talking about, the people who buy the product. They are the losers right now and they would be the winners. I understand the system.

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Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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BQ

Stéphane Bergeron

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Bergeron

Mr. Speaker, I do not share this view, otherwise I would not have spent the last three years praising the virtues of sovereignty in this House. I feel that, in the middle and long term, Quebec would benefit from being a sovereign state, and that Canada and Quebec could mutually benefit from it.

Why continue to spend so much energy arguing on issues that divide us, instead of trying to work together, in a new partnership, on the issues that unite us? I put the question.

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REF

Keith Martin

Reform

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak on Bill C-61, the Canada-Israeli free trade agreement.

We in the Reform Party approve of bilateral trade agreements on the basis that they will strengthen the existing World Trade Organization.

I know my colleague for Peace River has some very good ideas on this and he would certainly be happy to advise the government on various new initiatives it should undertake.

A larger issue with respect to the Middle East is the security issue that threatens trade agreements and threatens the security not only between Israel and Palestine but the regional security which exists there which will have a huge impact on world economy.

Currently the peace process is in disarray. There is a possibility it will fall apart. The Israelis and the Palestinians are polarized. We have a very important window of opportunity to help build bridges between the two groups.

After Mr. Netanyahu was elected it seemed that the Likud Party was pulled away from the work which was done by Mr. Netanyahu's predecessor, Mr. Shimon Peres.

On the other side, it did not take much for Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian authority to pull away from the peace agreement.

Both groups have to realize that their fates are intimately entwined. History, geography and the future will not separate them.

The conditions in the Palestinian autonomous areas are absolutely appalling. It is no wonder that terrorism has stemmed from these areas. It reflects the sheer frustration, anxiety and fear of these people. For example, in the Gaza Strip unemployment is over 70 per cent. That breeds desperate people and desperate people often resort to violence.

I would humbly suggest that economics is partly responsible for this situation. We have an opportunity through the free trade agreement with Israel to place conditions on how the Israelis will engage with the Palestinians in Palestinian autonomous areas. It should not be done in a heavy handed way, but in a coercive way for the betterment of both groups. The outcome of that will be improved chances for peace for all people.

If we can do that we will cut the legs out from the radical elements of Hamas that are responsible for the bombings that took place in Tel Aviv. It will cut the legs out from grassroots support for Hezbollah. It will cut the grassroots support for the Islamic Jihad. The only way to do that is to offer the Palestinian people in the autonomous regions some element of economic emancipation. Hamas has received support by providing schools, medical care and economic opportunities for these desperate people who are crying for improvement in their appalling situation.

I would encourage the government to find ways to work with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to improve their bilateral economic agreements.

I would also suggest that the closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip must end. It must end in conjunction with agreements from Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian authority that they will make swift, decisive and effective moves against terrorism in their areas. They cannot have it both ways. If the Palestinian authority is going to preach peace, it must act in a peaceful way. It will be painful, but it will have to act with its own people. Only by doing that will the Palestinians be able to achieve the respect and trust of the Likud Party and Mr. Netanyahu.

On the other hand, Mr. Netanyahu has to stop closing down the West Bank and the Gaza Strip so freely and, at times, unfairly. That polarizes the Palestinian people and grassroot support wanes.

We must also pursue avenues to improve the education system in the Palestinian autonomous areas, the economics and also the infrastructure development which will be required. In order to do this there has to be a radical shift. We cannot continue to have this polarization between both groups.

A few of the key players are going to have to be brought to the table. A key in the Middle East peace process is Hafez al-Assad of Syria. One of the great failings is that Mr. Assad has not been brought to the table with Mr. Netanyahu or his predecessor and with the King of Jordan and hopefully Mr. Mubarak of Egypt.

If these people can be brought to the table face to face then we are going to see some action. Mr. Assad controls Syria. He also has a huge sway in what happens on the northern border of Israel with Hezbollah. Israel is only going to feel secure on her northern boundary if the activities of Hezbollah are removed and the key to that is Mr. Assad.

Mr. Assad's intermediaries are not going to call the shots. We are not going to get any significant advancement in the peace process without Mr. Assad himself sitting down face to face with Mr. Netanyahu, King Hussein of Jordan, Mr. Mubarak and of course Mr. Arafat.

Another aspect is Jerusalem, an extremely sore spot. It eludes me as to why this area, the seat of so many religions of the world, this exquisitely beautiful area which all of us in this House and billions of people around the world have such a connection to, is the seed of such rancour and animosity and the root provocation of so much killing. It is completely opposed-I do not care whether they are Muslims, Christians or Jews, that is not what Jerusalem has ever been about or should be about. It is not what Jerusalem stands for.

A possible solution, because the groups are actually polarizing quite dramatically with Jerusalem, is to put it under UN protection. If the groups are not willing to share in Jerusalem, as right now they are not prepared to do, then the United Nations has to try to get tacit support from them to make Jerusalem a protected zone for the world, for all religions and for all people who follow those religions and have a spiritual connection with that beautiful city.

My other point is on the whole aspect of the Palestinian autonomous areas and settlements. It is an absolute provocation for the Israeli government to continue to support settlements in the Palestinian autonomous areas. It is a slap in the face to the Palestinian authority and a slap in the face to the Palestinian people. It polarizes them dramatically and is only an act of provocation.

The first thing the Israelis ought to do, and Canada can take a coercive role in this, is to: one, stop immediately all new building of Israeli settlements in Palestinian autonomous regions; two, remove some of those settlements out of the Palestinian autonomous regions and there will be some kind of trust again from the Palestinian people. The Palestinian authority must also provide assurances to the Government of Israel that terrorist activities are going to cease and desist. They will not but they must at least take an active role with the Israeli defence forces to come down on these extreme groups that are causing havoc in the whole peace process.

Another factor which not many people are talking about and which in the long run overshadows much of what can take place in the Middle East is water. There is very little potable water left in the Middle East. Those water levels are going down dramatically. It may not sound like very much but if human beings cannot drink water, they will not live there. If there is no water, they cannot grow crops. If crops cannot be grown in these areas, there are not going to be settlements. This is a problem that affects not only Israel and

the Palestinian people but it also affects Jordan and to a lesser extent Syria.

Here is an opportunity for Canada to get groups of hydrologists together with other hydrology specialists in the world to help the Middle East try to maximize the water available and to improve the conservation and the development of the water tables that exist there. No matter what we do, if there is no water in the future, there simply is not going to be any people who wish to live there.

I will close by saying that historically we have had two sides in the polarization. They have come together in a narrow window of opportunity and with great hope for the world in the peace process that took place in conjunction with the Americans.

Sadly, what has happened since the last election is that the two groups are polarizing. They must realize that their fates again are intimately entwined. Perhaps they cannot live together in the same country. I think that is probably what is going to happen, but at least let them live side by side in peace and then develop economic co-operation between both groups. If those economic bridges develop, then peace will develop and the decades of mistrust and hatred are going to peel away, albeit slowly.

There is a saying in the Middle East that peace is when a son buries his father and war is when a father buries his son. I hope for all the people of the Middle East that there will be far fewer fathers burying their sons. I also hope that Canada can take her role with the other members of the international community to develop in co-operation to bring peace to this much troubled area.

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Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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LIB

John Bryden

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I thought the member wandered a little bit off the mark in the sense that the free trade agreement with Israel has already been signed. All that is left is for this Parliament to endorse that deal. It cannot be changed as it stands at the moment.

I am very proud of this country and especially this Parliament for the way in which we exchange very differing ideas in a spirit of tolerance of one another's views and a great respect for the dignity and rights of others, regardless that perhaps some of the members may even seek to break up the country. Yet, we respect the dignity of one another.

My problem is that there is a new regime in Israel that has set a new mark for Israel in terms of respect for human rights and human dignity by embarking on a hard line approach to the Palestinians. As the member has stated, it is a provocation and has led to deaths in the Middle East, mainly of Palestinians.

I would like to repeat a question for the member which I had put to the member for Verchères, who I did not feel answered it very directly. Does the member feel that if this Parliament endorses this free trade agreement, are we at the same time endorsing the hard line attitude of Mr. Netanyahu toward the Palestinians? Are we endorsing his view of human rights and respect for human dignity?

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REF

Keith Martin

Reform

Mr. Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend from the Liberal Party for his very astute question.

Although we support this bill, I believe there is an inherent danger in the bill's being perceived as an endorsement for Mr. Netanyahu and the Likud party's hard line approach with the Palestinian people. That is why it is imperative for us to make clarifications.

We should through this bill strongly support and coerce the Israeli government to engage in serious economic activities to improve the health and welfare of the people who exist in the Palestinian autonomous areas and in particular the terrible and profoundly disgusting conditions that exist in the Palestinian camps. If anyone were to visit them, they would be absolutely shocked. Therein lies the danger and the opportunity.

That is why I would strongly encourage our government to make it very clear to the Government of Israel that we as a country do not support this hard line attitude; we do not support the prevention of Palestinians from moving into Israel from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and we do not support the continued atrocious and appalling conditions that exist in the Palestinian camps and in the Palestinian autonomous areas.

We strongly demand that, together with Mr. Arafat and the other Middle East leaders, Prime Minister Netanyahu engage in co-operative efforts to improve the economic situation that exists in these areas. Therein lies the hope for peace.

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REF

Leon Benoit

Reform

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-61, the bill which implements the Canada-Israel free trade agreement.

This agreement should benefit many Canadian businesses and many Canadians. It means job creation which must be a top priority for anybody in this House. This agreement applies especially to the areas of agriculture and grain products, high tech communications, natural resources and the manufacturing sector. It is important for Canada to promote more open and fair trade with all countries around the world. We would not find much argument in this House with regard to that statement.

My concern lies in the fact that it seems like too much of this government's energy on balance goes to seeking out trade with other countries and too little energy goes to seeking free trade within Canada.

Canada's international trade amounts to about $160 billion a year. It is a large part of the Canadian economy, so it is important. I want to make it clear that it is important to encourage free trade with other countries. Since the Canada-U.S. trade deals have been put in place, our trade surplus with the United States has increased dramatically. It has been good for Canadians. Deals like the Canada-Israeli agreement, though much smaller, are still important.

My concern is the lack of balance in the government's policy. While foreign trade amounts to about $160 billion a year, trade between provinces amounts to $146 billion a year. How often have we heard this government or the official opposition talk about the importance of removing the barriers to interprovincial trade? The balance is not there.

Our Prime Minister goes on world tours to places like China, Chile and so on. He makes a big show of signing contracts in other countries. When he does this it probably plays well to the folks back home. I acknowledge it is important for the Prime Minister to perform this function but again, where is the balance?

The Liberals in this government, in throne speeches, in budget speeches, in reports from committees-I could mention many different key documents which this government has presented in the House and outside of the House-have stated that it is a top priority to deal with the problem of internal trade barriers, barriers in trade between provinces.

Last year the finance committee released a prebudget report on interprovincial trade which stated: "Trade in Canada must be placed on an equal footing with Canada-U.S. trade in terms of the free flow of goods and services". I am sure the committee would have expanded this statement to include deals between Israel and Canada. Government members acknowledge that interprovincial trade should at least be placed on an equal footing with international trade. Unfortunately, their words do not coincide with their actions.

There was only one action the government did take. In 1994 it signed the agreement on internal trade. It was a start but many different sections of that agreement were to be completed later by set dates in the future. Not one of these targets has been met.

While this government deals with agreements such as this to some extent, it has completely failed to do anything substantial to remove the barriers to interprovincial trade. Yet interprovincial trade amounts to almost as much as international trade. Where is the balance? It is important that that balance is restored.

The government, rather than follow the recommendations of its own throne speeches, its own budget speeches, has not treated with interprovincial trade with the kind of importance that it should have. As a result, some very unsettling situations are building in this country. We have, for example, the problem between Quebec and Newfoundland with the Churchill Falls hydro deal.

If the section on energy in the agreement on internal trade had been completed as was promised by the government, while it would not deal with the current Churchill Falls hydro contract, it certainly would allow the new lower Churchill Falls project, which is critical to the future development of Labrador and Newfoundland, to go through. I am not talking about renegotiating a current contract, I am talking about allowing the development of the lower Churchill Falls project, a brand new hydro contract, which would really help in the development of Newfoundland. It would provide much needed jobs not just from the development project itself but from the development of Voisey's Bay, for example, and other developments in Newfoundland down the road.

The neglect of this agreement has led to that kind of disaster. Quebecers are fair people. They are people of integrity. When they think of holding back Labrador and Newfoundland's development, the people of Quebec would not feel kindly about that. They want the best for Labrador and Newfoundland. That is just one of the areas that has been neglected. The balance is not there between internal trade and foreign trade.

Second is the dispute that has arisen between New Brunswick and British Columbia with the United Parcel Service workers moving to New Brunswick. If the agreement on internal trade had been completed on schedule and if the proper degree of importance had been placed on that deal, then this dispute would never have arisen.

If this dispute or another one had come up and a proper dispute settlement mechanism had been put in place then this dispute settlement mechanism could have dealt with this very serious problem, which actually threatens to take British Columbia out of the internal trade agreement altogether. That would be a very sad day for this country and for British Columbia.

The third major problem that has resulted from the lack of action on the part of the government in removing internal trade barriers is the dispute between Quebec and Ontario on moving labour and contracting back and forth between the two provinces. This dispute has been brewing and getting bigger and more threatening over the last few months. We saw sand, manure, other things dumped on bridges between Ontario and Quebec. Today, as I speak, a rally is being planned by the construction workers in Ottawa at the Delta Hotel-I am not sure about the location-and construction workers are not going to let this issue die. Ontario construction workers are concerned because while Quebec workers and contractors are allowed to freely come to Ontario, Ontario workers and contractors

are not allowed the same access to Quebec. I think it is very important for Quebecers to think about this situation.

The government of Ontario is threatening very serious trade action which would restrict the movement of Quebec workers and contractors into the Ontario market. The Ontario legislature is seriously moving in the direction of putting up a wall so that trade will not go freely either way. That means Quebecers, many of whom are now working in Ontario, will be denied access to Ontario jobs.

Why has this very serious situation arisen? It is because of the lack of action on the part of the government to finish the agreement on internal trade and remove the barriers to interprovincial trade. There is no leadership from the government in this area.

What does this lack of leadership cost Canadians? According to the Fraser Institute and other think tanks, it costs Canadians between $6 billion and $10 billion a year in lost income. This is very serious. According to the Fraser Institute it costs the average Canadian family about $3,500 a year in lost income, all because the government has not put the priority on interprovincial trade that it has put on foreign trade.

Bills such as this one today are important. I acknowledge that. But why on earth not have a bill tomorrow which will deal with the barriers between provinces in a serious and substantial way? This is very important. It is so important that the Canadian Chamber of Commerce came out with a substantial report on this issue. It estimated that a 10 per cent increase in interprovincial trade would add 200,000 new jobs in Canada.

Instead of moving in that direction, within a couple of blocks of the House of Commons a rally is being planned by construction workers who are frustrated because the government has not taken the action it should have to remove barriers to free labour movement and to be able to conduct business openly and freely between provinces. This is a serious situation.

It really surprises me that the industry minister who is in charge of the agreement on internal trade has been completely silent while right in his own constituency in Ottawa, Ontario workers are being denied access to jobs across the river in Hull and Gatineau because of the barriers thrown up by Quebec. It is a sad situation.

There are Liberal members in the government who represent people in Hull and Gatineau. Why are they not speaking out on this issue? If they do not act very quickly and very soon, the Ontario government will close the border, build a wall and there will be no free movement of labour or business between Ontario and Quebec at all. It has come to the point where that decision could be made very soon. Where is the government in dealing with the problem right in its own backyard?

The government should be ashamed. It has to focus on this. It has to look at the balance and the importance between interprovincial trade and international trade. It has to realize its importance to the Canadian economy are very similar, speak out on this issue, solve the problem that is being demonstrated very clearly right here in this city and finish the agreement on internal trade. It has to put in place a dispute settlement mechanism and at least give Canadians the same kind of freedom in doing business with another province as it has between Canada and other countries.

The sad reality for many business people in certain parts of the country is that they actually have easier and more open access to the United States than they do to other provinces. That is sad and action must be taken on this. It is very urgent right now because of the serious situations building across the country.

Pitting one province against another certainly does nothing to help national unity. Pitting Ontario against Quebec does nothing to help national unity. Pitting British Columbia against New Brunswick does nothing to help national unity. Pitting Quebec against Newfoundland and Labrador does nothing to help national unity.

Why has this issue of removing interprovincial trade barrier not been given the importance that it should be given? It is important to people in every single province in this country. It could mean a 10 per cent increase in interprovincial trade. According to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce it could mean 200,000 jobs or more, $3,500 added to each family household income, a $6 billion to $10 billion increase in income to Canadians. All of this could be achieved if the same importance were given to interprovincial trade as has been given to international trade and if these barriers are removed as quickly as possible.

I would like to more than encourage the government, I would like to push it, in particular the industry minister, to deal with the issue and allow the free movement of people, goods and services between provinces, and allow those 200,000 jobs to be added in Canada.

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Subtopic:   Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I concur with the member that it is very important to deal with interprovincial trade matters. There are certainly some opportunities there but that is not the subject matter of the bill and it is not a bilateral agreement that we have with the provinces. We are talking here of a bilateral agreement and the speech was really not much

about the bill. If I may I would like to make a couple of comments about what bill this is and ask the member a question.

We are speaking on Bill C-61 put forward by the Minister for International Trade, an act to implement the Canada-Israel free trade agreement. In brief the main elements are: first, tariffs will be removed from industrial products of Canadian or Israeli origin beginning January 1, 1997; second, duty free access or low duties will be applied to a variety of agricultural and fisheries products exported to both countries; finally, to resolve any disputes under the agreement both countries have agreed to be governed by a binding dispute settlement process.

This bilateral trade agreement is extremely important to Canada. For many years Canada and Israel have had excellent relations based on shared values and strong political and social bonds. To give an idea of dimensions, in 1995 the two way trade exceeded $450 million, an increase of 37 per cent over 1994. Canadian exports totalled $216 million in 1995, up 49 per cent from 1994. In terms of the trade the other way, Canadian imports from Israel were worth $240.8 million in 1995, a 32 per cent increase on 1994. These are very significant.

Earlier this day the member from Peace River gave a speech in which he developed a theme which has been coming along about how the government has been slow and why is this such a secretive process and how come this government has not made this an issue and why is it not in the forefront of what is going on.

The facts are that in November 1994 the leaders of Canada and Israel announced the opening of negotiations for this bilateral free trade agreement. On January 12, 1996 Canadian and Israeli officials reached a tentative agreement leading to the formal signing of a free trade agreement in Toronto, during the visit of the minister of industry and trade, of both the state of Israel and Canada.

The facts are that the government has proactively pursued bilateral trade agreements for the benefits of Canada. This government has done its job in this regard.

Does the hon. member not believe that if interprovincial trade within Canada is such an important issue that it would be more important for us now rather than to deal with partisan issues and to ignore the bill to move this bill forward quickly so this House would have more time to talk about further important initiatives? It is time to get the priorities straight. I ask the member, could he stop wasting the House's time and start dealing with the legislation before the House?

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REF

Leon Benoit

Reform

Mr. Benoit

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about the partisan use of time. If that was not just as partisan a statement as we could find, I would like to see the other one that comes close to matching it.

The day he calls the removal of interprovincial trade barriers a partisan issue it is a sad day in this House. It is an issue that affects

all Canadians. As I explained before, 200,000 jobs are lost because action has not been taken, six billion to ten billion dollars lost, $3,500 per family. In family week I would expect this member to acknowledge that and to accept that and to say yes, this is an important issue.

This agreement is an important agreement as well. We are supporting it. We are doing everything we can to push it along, so what he said is nonsense.

On the relative importance of this agreement, which involves $.5 billion in trade, to the agreement to internal trade, which involves $146 billion in trade, the comparison is pretty lopsided. The importance of removing the barriers through internal trade cannot be overstated. It is not a partisan issue. This member should not have presented it as that.

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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Szabo

Mr. Speaker, I want to challenge the member on his assertions. I did not comment or take away from the importance of interprovincial trade and trade barriers. It is not a bilateral situation, though. We have 10 provinces and 2 territories.

The member has twisted the facts. I reiterate my point to him. This bill before the House is a bilateral deal which is good for Canada. It provides a further model of how important bilateral agreements are and it will provide the basis for further trade opportunities for all Canadians.

I would again suggest to the member that the important thing to happen now is let us deal with this bill quickly so that we can have more time in this House to deal with very important matters like interprovincial trade agreements.

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