Mr. Ralph Ferguson (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State, Small Businesses):
Mr. Speaker, I think perhaps I
should quote the president of the nation to the south, Mr. Carter, who, in January 1980, said this:
1 personally support and encourage the use of the international metric system of measurement in the United States. Conversion to the metric system will help us to expand America's export market.
Mr. Carter concluded with these words:
Because I believe metric conversion holds important long-term benefits for our country, I am taking steps to encourage the use of this system in the private sector as well as in government.
With regard to the comment on working in concert with the United States, it is interesting to note that plans for the automobile industry in north America are for it to be completely metric by 1982.
Legislation on the subject of metric conversion has had considerable debate in this House. The use of the metric system was made legal by Parliament with the passage of the metric Weights and Measures Act many years ago. The Weights and Measures Act of 1971 included an amendment which made the international system of units the legal embodiment of the metric system in Canada. The policy that metric conversion was inevitable and in the national interest was established with the House leaders of all parties on January 15, 1970, speaking in the House in support of the white paper on metric conversion in Canada.
The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act of 1971 made it mandatory for all pre-packaged goods to carry a metric contents declaration.
The Statute Law Amendment Act of 1976, which was debated in this House over a period of nine months, gave the governor in council the power to set dates in any sector of the economy after which the use of the customary or imperial system would be illegal.
A program of guideline dates for metric conversion recommended by Metric Commission Canada after consulting with industry, labour and consumer groups, was approved by the government and debated in the House of Commons on March 17, 1975. The Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs studied this matter at length and voted unanimously in favour of it. It reported it back to the House of Commons on December 17, 1976, with a recommendation that the House consider the advisability of adopting this program and also introduce additional legislation to metric conversion. Subsequently the Statute Law Amendment Act of 1976, was passed by the House of Commons on July 25, 1977, and received royal assent on August 5, 1977.
In view of the fact that metric conversion currently is proceeding or has been completed in 88 of the 100 odd sectors of the economy which have published conversion plans, with the phasing and co-ordination of Metric Commission Canada, there is a proven continuing need for the commission staff and the commissioners to ensure that orderly conversion is made to the best advantage to consumers and to Canada.
It is interesting to note that an industry in my constituency has expanded its production threefold since going metric because it can now export to Europe.
May 6, 1980
Topic: PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic: METRICATION-REQUEST METRIC COMMISSIONERS BE RELIEVED OF DUTIES