Mr. Stan J. Hovdebo (Saskatoon - Humboldt):
Madam Speaker, it pleases me to have this opportunity at this hour of the morning to get up and indicate my feelings about these particular motions relative to the North American free trade agreement.
I will start by speaking on Motion No. 2 which states:
That Bill C-115 be amended by adding immediately after line 45,
at page 3, the following new clause:
"3.1 Canadian Laws to Prevail in Conflict. No provision of the Agreement, nor the application of any such provision to any person or circumstances, which is in conflict with any law of the United States shall have effect."
In other words all we are asking is that our law have the same weight in this agreement as does U.S. law. By putting this particular clause in, the Americans made it possible for them to absolutely control the structure. Any U.S. law has effect. It says so in the U.S. implementation act of 1988. We are suggesting that maybe we, the Canadian people, the Canadian government should have the same kind of power over this particular act.
In Motions Nos. 4 and 5 we are also asking to have the ability to process our products before we ship them. That
is, we want to keep those products here long enough to do something with them. The present act does not allow us to do that.
Even if we passed a law saying that we will not ship anything out of Canada which is not processed, we could not do that under this act because we do not have the kind of legislative structure which would allow us to do
it. The U.S. could do it. It is in the act at the moment and the Conservative government accepted that.
We have accepted very little of what the Conservative government put in these acts in the sense that they basically sold out our right to develop our economy. We as a party believe that trade is very important to Canada, but trade under circumstances which give us the power to develop and the ability to develop our economy within the structure that we believe should be in place.
With Motion No. 2 we wish to put into the act the fact that Canadian laws are to prevail in conflict. Anytime we get into a disagreement with the United States we apply the laws of Canada just as they now apply their own laws when they get into conflict.
One of the big things that has affected us in the agricultural industry has been the export enhancement policy of the United States. The Americans have put millions of dollars from their treasury into the sale of grains particularly, but other products as well.
What has affected the farmers most in Canada has been the export enhancement program which spends millions of dollars on selling the grain. Because of the way it is set up, this particular enhancement does not necessarily go directly to the farmer. We cannot call it a farm or an agricultural subsidy directly. What it does do is make sure that a company in the United States buys the grain from the farmer at a particular price and sells it
May 25, 1993
to another country, say Algeria. Then the farmers get some subsidization at the price that they get but the company that sells the grain then can add as much as the total price of the grain initially.
The lowest they have sold grain as far as I know, and it may have gone lower, was a couple of years ago. Under the export enhancement program United States companies sold to Norway a number of tonnes of wheat for $52 a tonne. Nobody in the United States or Canada could possibly raise wheat at $52 a tonne. What the Norwegians paid was $52 a tonne, but what the company got after paying the farmer was probably another $50 a tonne.
Therefore the companies made their money anyway. It did not matter to the corporation that was selling the grain into the Norwegian market that this price was lower than the possible production of the grain. It did not matter to the U.S. corporation or the U.S. that in the process they were undercutting the EEC market which I guess was its intention in the first place. It was also affecting the Norwegian market in such a way that it was almost worthless to try to grow wheat. Surprisingly, Norway grows a considerable amount of cereal grains.
The farmer finds himself competing against an almost limitless U.S. treasury. There is no way that the Canadian farmer or the Canadian government can fight the almost unlimited funds available to the U.S. treasury. Not only are the funds seemingly unlimited, but it does not bother the Americans at all to go deeply into debt.
The United States has had deficit situations for many years and it continues to do so. A good portion of that deficit has been its expenditures on export enhancement. Therefore the farmers are affected directly by legislation which the United States has in place.
We can shout as much as we want about this export enhancement being unfair and we have. We have shouted about it. We have told them that it is unfair, but the U.S. application of the free trade agreement is that United States law is to prevail in any conflict. The United States can point to this and say that its law says it can provide export enhancement.
This export enhancement has led to the devastation of the cereal grain industry in Canada. It has not just led to the fact that we are having difficulty penetrating certain markets now. It has not led to the fact that in some areas of the world we are unable to celebrate at all because we cannot match the low prices that the export enhancement brings.
I would challenge any farmer to produce wheat at $120 a tonne because that is very low, but the fellow who sells it for the United States gets another $50 enhancement. He is sure to make a profit so it does not matter whether he sells it at a much lower price. He could sell it at $50 a tonne and still make some money. How has that affected the farmer directly? It has been devastating. As I have pointed out, it has affected the price of wheat which means the operation of the farm is in jeopardy.
Also, in my community probably 30 or 40 per cent of the farmers have lost their land. They are now out of farming entirely. Not myself particularly but many of the other farmers are picking up the slack. In my own case, I had a farmer who was working my land tell me the other day: "I am sorry. I can no longer afford to farm your land. You will have to farm it yourself". He was helping me out but it was costing him too much.
This is the kind of change we need to put in place. We need to be sure that we give our own country an opportunity to develop its economy even as we trade with different parts of the world.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: MEASURE TO ENACT