Réginald BÉLAIR

BÉLAIR, Réginald, B.A.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Timmins--James Bay (Ontario)
Birth Date
April 6, 1949
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Réginald_Bélair
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=7c68448c-8394-4a1b-a4f9-2c4c89b4af87&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
administrator, manager, political assistant

Parliamentary Career

November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
LIB
  Cochrane--Superior (Ontario)
October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
LIB
  Cochrane--Superior (Ontario)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Supply and Services (Public Works and Government Services) (December 6, 1994 - February 22, 1996)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works (Public Works and Government Services) (December 6, 1994 - February 22, 1996)
June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
LIB
  Timmins--James Bay (Ontario)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
LIB
  Timmins--James Bay (Ontario)
  • Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole (January 30, 2001 - May 23, 2004)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 569 of 569)


April 25, 1989

Mr. Belair:

The Minister indicates that there are a dozen factors affecting this closure. Mr. Levesque is also on the record as saying the surtax is crippling his sawmill and that is the first reason it is closing as of Thursday.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   SOFTWOOD LUMBER EXPORT TAX-EFFECT ON NORTHERN ONTARIO
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April 11, 1989

Mr. Belair:

Yes, Mr. Speaker, a number of promises certainly were made during the election, concerning for example, regional development. The House will remember that in the Spring of 1987, the Government announced the FEDNOR Program. It only took a year before we finally received some moneys from the Government, and by a well-designed coincidence, some projects were accepted only one month before the general election. The intention no doubt at that point was to prove to people in Northern Ontario that a Conservative Member would be more acceptable than a Fiberal Member, but I am sorry to tell them that the Conservative candidate was beaten, and by quite a margin!

During the campaign, the Conservative candidate also recognized that the 15 per cent export surtax on softwood lumber was harmful to Northern Ontario's people and forest industry. If we agreed on one thing, that was it. I am not sure whether that candidate was speaking on behalf of his party, but he fully recognized it-anyway the three candidates fully agreed that tax is harmful. We saw the results-five sawmills have shut down since the agreement was signed. There was a loss of 900 jobs, without the governments, then and now, doing anything to launch re-training programs for those employees.

The Address-Mr. Belair

Going further, Mr. Speaker, I could add that across Canada a lot of small sawmills, a lot of independent owners without links to the pulp and paper industry are hurting tremendously.

The message I would like to convey to the Government is to remind the Minister of International Trade, as my colleague from Winnipeg did this week, that he should start anew very serious negotiations with the Americans to repeal that tax that will do new harm across Canada.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
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April 11, 1989

Mr. Belair:

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer the question of the Hon. Member for Algoma. Again I repeat that the message I have for the Government is that the Minister for International Trade should contact the American authorities at the earliest opportunity and attempt to renegotiate an extremely harmful tax.

As I said, five mills have already closed their doors. When in Thunder Bay we met with a very large group of workers who had been laid off just before Christmas. If we combine this tax with the rate of exchange of the Canadian dollar as compared to the American dollar, the

April 11, 1989

The Address-Mrs. Collins

result is that the industry must now make do with an income 30 per cent lower than it was on December 31, 1986.

Mr. Speaker, anyone can see that no single industry in Canada would continue to operate after sustaining such huge losses in terms of both profits and manpower. Now, a few words about the impact of these lay-offs. Municipalities have to hand out additional welfare benefits and the workforce is highly depressed. Remember that these people have worked hard to improve their working conditions and then, practically overnight, they are left with absolutely nothing, not even a retraining program. The human consequences are severe, Mr. Speaker, and the Government must take immediate action.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
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April 11, 1989

Mr. Reginald Belair (Cochrane-Superior):

Mr. Speaker, I have only three minutes left, and I find it rather difficult to get back to my subject, the Throne Speech, after such a long pause. Nevertheless, I would like to raise a number of points. I would have liked to see the Throne Speech deal with the problem of air safety, and more specifically at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. When you travel by air every week and have this nagging feeling that you might not be able to land or your plane might have a mid-air collision, it should be enough to make the Government and the Minister of Transport make this very serious problem one of their top priorities.

Also absent from the Throne Speech was any mention of the purchase of nuclear submarines. I don't think Canada needs them. What good would a few nuclear submarines do if we are stuck in a cross-fire between two world superpowers, the Americans and the Russians? Since we don't have any other form of military support, what good would these nuclear submarines be? The money could be better spent.

In conclusion, may I reiterate my disappointment at the total exclusion of the forestry issue from the Throne Speech, considering that the industry employs a million people in Canada and the 15 per cent export tax on softwood lumber is a very serious blow to its viability. It is extremely urgent that the Government was initiate a new round of negotiations with the United States to eliminate this devastating tax. It is of the utmost importance that the federal-provincial agreements on forestry

resource development be renewed. Forest regeneration is the future of the industry. Access roads to reach mature timber must be constructed.

The Government should be praised for creating an independent Ministry of Forestry. Now it should live up to Canadians' expectations.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
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December 23, 1988

Mr. Reginald Belair (Cochrane-Superior):

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on this historic Bill C-2 on behalf of my constituents in Cochrane-Superior, whom I thank for giving me their confidence on November 21.

Need I point out that this northern land is very welcoming; it is an ideal place to relax, to fish, to hunt, to go cross-country skiing or ice-fishing, etc. It has wide open spaces that ease the mind and challenge us to get to know nature better.

This great huge riding stretches from Hudson's Bay to the north shore of Lake Superior. Combined with the Kenora-Rainy River riding, they are more than half of Ontario. Indeed, we are on the map.

Before getting into the subject, let me just say that I would have preferred the witnessing of an agreement on the curbing of acid rain with its devastating effects on our forests and lakes. Some 14,000 lakes are already polluted in Canada.

There was some hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) and President Reagan would have struck a deal at the Shamrock Summit in Quebec. It flickered out when Reagan flashed the Free Trade Agreement in front of the Prime Minister's eyes. We all know that afterwards the environment was no longer a priority.

President-elect George Bush allotted a mere 10-second clip on the environment issue in 15 months of campaigning. There are some reasons to be alarmed because with the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement we stand to lose a lot of ground on this issue. With the Americans having unlimited access to our natural resources, and considering their low standard on the environment, one can seriously doubt the condition in which they would leave our land once they have exploited its richness.

The natives are also seriously concerned about the possible disruption of their hunting, trapping and fishing grounds. Like any other group of Canadians, they should have a say about the economic development of their regions as much as they have a right to control their own destiny.

Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement [Translation]

The Mulroney-Reagan agreement, Mr. Speaker, refers many times to harmonizing the two nations. What does this mean? There is a significant imbalance between our two countries today. Canada has a just, humane, compassionate society. American society concentrates on profits, leaving aside the welfare of working men and women when it comes to wages and fringe benefits.

And what about the impact of the agreement on social programs? Let us just say that the Prime Minister told the Financial Times that unemployment insurance and social programs might be renegotiated in the coming years.

Which country do you think will adjust to the other, Mr. Speaker? Because the Americans are extremely rich in capital, since they have ten times the population we do, it is easy to see that we will end up subject to their influence and submitting to their demands. We will suffer this harmful influence because might will make right. It will be the law of the jungle.

Mr. Speaker, rest assured that I and all my colleagues in the Liberal Party will be extremely vigilant; we will speak up vigorously every time our Canadian workers are affected by job losses due to free trade. We will see to it that the benefits they have acquired over the last 40 years will be protected, in order to preserve and maintain family well-being.

It must be borne in mind, Mr. Speaker, that 40 per cent of our workers are unionized and the benefits and protection they have acquired since the 1930s must not be eroded over the coming years. We must keep in mind that nine American states have no minimum wage law and that twelve states have a minimum wage of three dollars an hour or less.

It is also easy to conclude that fringe benefits are not a priority for their political and economic leaders.

Regional development is also a great concern of mine. The DRIE program is now considered by the United States to be a subsidization program and, therefore, existing industries which wish to adjust to increasing competition are not eligible for government help.

In relation to the forestry industry, when one compounds such an action with the 15 per cent export tax on softwood lumber, sawmills across Canada find it extremely hard to remain competitive. Their profits are greatly reduced because of a substantial increase in

December 23, 1988

Canada-US. Free Trade Agreement

stumpage fees and therefore the incentive, the motivation to contribute to Canada's economy is not as ardent. They question their future and, by extension, the workers do as well.

Since the Memorandum of Understanding was signed on December 30, 1986, four sawmills have closed in my riding.

What is the Government prepared to do to compensate for these losses? Is it prepared at least to screen American investment in Canada? Has it set up a mechanism where undue, unwanted and unwarranted competition would be controlled? Has the Government thought of negotiating with the Americans a system whereby the latter would have to re-invest some of their profits in Canada?

To summarize, we should not let the Americans muscle their way into Canada and do as they please. They should respect the fact that Canada is huge geographically, and since jobs are concentrated in the larger urban centres, rural areas do indeed depend on regional development incentives in order to remain competitive, and in the end, to survive. Survival can be achieved in other ways than open frontier economic policies with the United States, therefore limiting our exporting capacity to one country only. One should learn from one's past. The Government should expand its exporting markets to the European Economic Community, to China, to Hong Kong, to the Middle East and to the Soviet Union.

Let us not permit history to repeat itself negatively. Canadians know better. I hope the Minister for International Trade (Mr. Crosbie) will at least consider selling Canadian products elsewhere than the United States.

Hon. Members opposite say that it would be advantageous to limit exports to the American market only. We are already doing 80 per cent of our trade with the United States. Is it worth unleashing American corporations, allowing them to take over our industries, for the remaining 20 per cent?

Out of respect for ourselves, let us keep Canada Canadian. Let us be the masters of our own destiny. Let us diversify our trading partners in order to ensure that American countervailing action not be undertaken. Let us us not give them the opportunity to do so. Let us not adhere so blindly to the North American economic constitution.

I could not conclude my remarks, Mr. Speaker, without referring to the omnibus bill regarding the entry of foreign products in the United States and to the fact that Canada is not exempt from it. How can we consider free trade with the Americans when this protectionist bill aims at controlling foreign competition with American industries and small businesses! The Secretary of State, Mr. Schultz, admitted, during his visit to Canada last spring, that it would be ridiculous to talk about free trade if Canada is not exempt from it. And what are we to think of the record speed with which the American Congress passed its bill on free trade with Canada. We must infer that the Americans firmly believe that the agreement is largely favourable to their interests. Americans never lose out when they do business with a foreign country.

All in all, conscious as I am of the impact this agreement will have on our society and bearing in mind the uncertainties which Canadians will be facing, it is my duty and my moral responsibility to vote against this bill in accordance with the mandate given to me by the people of Cochrane-Superior on November 21 last.

To my constituents, and to the staff and Members of the House of Commons, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT MEASURE TO ENACT
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