Mr. Lyle Kristiansen (Kootenay West-Revelstoke):
Mr. Speaker, I wish the subject before us aroused more positive feelings in me, other members in the House, particularly those on the opposition side, and the majority of people in Canada.
The amendments before us, namely Motions Nos. 2,4, 5 and 6, are apparently not going to be supported by the government side. I do not imagine that comes as much of a surprise to anyone. I think this demonstrates very clearly to all of us and all Canadians that this government's agenda and the agenda of most ordinary Canadians are on diametrically opposite courses.
I would like to begin in the few minutes I have this evening by reading briefly from a letter to my constituents that I sent almost two years ago but it still seems particularly appropriate.
It said: "Summer time and the living is easy. That is what the song says and if it was not for the actions of our
federal government it could be and should be too, especially in Canada where we have more wealth, resources and fresh water per person than anywhere else on earth.
"If only we would use it and protect it ourselves instead of letting others manage it and misuse it for themselves in the name of some abstract global market doctrine that says it is wrong for a people, a nation or a community to act together in order to advance and defend their own jobs and their own interests."
The Tory Party, the Reform Party and other people right across Canada say that idea is wrong and horror of horrors it is protectionist. If a government cannot or will not act to protect its own people, their jobs and businesses, then what the devil is a government for?
Of course we have to compete in the global marketplace. Of course we have to make compromises but we do not throw away all the advantages we have. We bargain from our strength, not our weaknesses and before we start we draw our bottom line.
The Prime Minister says there is more to Canada than a few national programs, national services and national corporations. That is true but if he and his friends continue to break up or deregulate and weaken all the national services, programs and agencies that keep this country together like VTA Rail our national transport system, the CBC, medicare, Canada Post, Air Canada and Petro-Canada that could act to guarantee environmental standards and energy self-sufficiency at fair prices, what will we have left?
This government has attempted to incorporate that agenda for all time by incorporating and protecting those moves, first through the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and now by extending that to a North American free trade agreement. That is what makes this debate so important and what makes it so absolutely irresponsible for this government to attempt at this time to ram it through the House of Commons.
May 25, 1993
More and more Canadians will ask themselves if all we get for our taxes is a flag, an anthem and an expensive government that we do not like. Is it really worth it? You tell me. We are fast on the road to becoming exactly that.
The United States, the republic to the south, is beginning to realize there is something of value in some of the institutions here north of the border. It is beginning what is going to be a very hard fought, drawn out campaign to establish some decent social services and social safety nets in that country that are good for all their people and not just some of their people. We have been and are in the process of dismantling almost every important national program that has made this country worth while and distinctive to most Canadians.
What is my bottom line and what is the bottom line of the NDP? It is Canada and it is Canadians. I hate to have to ask but I must ask the government members-and I know as individuals they believe they are good Canadians-what their bottom line is. For the life of me when I see what they have been doing for the last number of years I cannot believe their bottom line is the same as ours: Canada, Canadians and their long-term welfare.
The government signed a trade agreement that meant we had to become more competitive to survive and then followed an economic policy of deregulation, high interest rates and an artificially high dollar that seemed designed to make us less competitive and that is what happened. It is hard to believe its bottom line coincides with mine or that of my constituents.
Ross Perot, the independent candidate in the last U.S. presidential election, gave a very clear warning when he said that if the North American free trade agreement was consummated there would be a giant sucking sound as jobs were sucked south of the border from the United States into Mexico. We have already seen the truth of that in the last few years as close to half a million Canadian jobs have been sucked south into the United States.
A headline in today's Financial Post reads: "Canadian companies head to U.S." It says: "It has been a great month if you are an American looking for work at a Canadian company. Several big Canadian firms have
announced plans to expand in the U.S. Many senior executives expect more Canadian companies to move south because of lower taxes, cheaper labour and free trade." In the last few weeks it points out Jannock Ltd., Norbord Industries Inc., Metall Mining Corporation, Counsel Corporation and Interprovincial Pipe Line Systems Incorporated. The list goes on and on and it gives details.
Because they have this particular mind-set these companies say free trade was just one of about 15 factors in their decision to move south. Among the other important factors were reduced wage costs, cheaper hydro, lower taxes and better access to bigger markets. Those things are exactly what we said would be the result before the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into place.
Companies would be free to move to where labour costs and wages were lower and there were inadequate social services and as a result lower taxes because they did not have to provide them. There is a downward levelling that is taking place continuously on our side of the border where we used to enjoy some good social safety nets and good social programs. If that is not what is taking place then I do not know where we are at all.
That is exactly what we said would happen and we take no joy in having predicted it. Anyone who was not blind or deaf could have figured it out. I do not believe the government is deaf or blind so why has it led us down that path? Why is it continuing to lead us down that path in spite of the facts that are there for all of us to see?
Only the people of Canada can answer that question. The only answer I can think of is not a pretty one. That government has to go. That mind-set has to go. This agreement has to go. It is a bad agreement. It is bad for Canadians. It is bad for Canada.
Adopting these amendments will make it a little more liveable and a little more fair. If the government is not prepared to do that then it should give up. Call an election quickly and let us get this damn thing over with.
Subtopic: MEASURE TO ENACT