Mrs. Coline Campbell (South West Nova):
Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the minister who just spoke. Our present free trade agreement with the United States was accepted by many Canadians when it was passed because a commission was given seven years to decide what constituted subsidies. This bill on NAFTA neither responds to the subsidy issue nor defines subsidies.
Does the minister believe that Canada will be granted the same protection with respect to subsidies as under the present agreement, or rather that the United States and Mexico will think that they will benefit from these free trade subsidies between the two countries? In other words, I would like the minister to tell me what is going to happen to programs which are not considered as subsidized in Canada while, in the past, the United States has claimed that some were. The whole issue of subsidies had been referred to a commission at the time, which had been asked to make certain decisions regarding the existing Canada-U.S. free trade agreement. But there is nothing about subsidies in this bill on NAFTA, the new North American free trade agreement, and it goes beyond free trade. There will be no commission to decide the issue.
The Leader of the Opposition has suggested that to make up for that, a definition of what constitutes a subsidy should be included before NAFTA is ratified because this agreement is so important for Canada as the minister just said.
I think it is important to have free trade but what constitutes a subsidy ought to be specified; otherwise our partners could think that our health care and unemployment insurance systems are subsidized and not allowed under free trade.
Could the minister tell us how the subsidy issue will be dealt with in concrete terms?
regretfully she implies that the Canadian health system will be affected because of the subsidies.
Trying to scare Canadians in such a way is not much to the opposition member's credit. This is trying to scare without any regard for Canadians who enjoy the medicare system and the unemployment insurance system, who are familiar with them and used to them. I feel it is a shame that the member tries in this House to relate those two items to NAFTA.
I would also like to point out to her that because of the Canada-U.S. free trade deal, there is a panel with Canadians and Americans in equal numbers, for the first time in the history of both countries, which can and must settle problems as they arise between our two countries. No other country in the world can have such an agreement with the United States. So far, my own area has benefited as a result of this panel's decisions and I hope we will continue to benefit from it.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT