Thank you, Madam Speaker.
I want to speak a little bit about a situation in southern Ontario. It is not a matter of minerals or oil but it is a matter of our agricultural produce. We have plenty of land capable of producing fruits and vegetables in southern Ontario. In the past there were a lot more small local processing stations, processing plants throughout southern Ontario producing preserves, producing jams, producing all kinds of products from our fruits.
What has happened, especially since the free trade agreement was signed, is that mammoth multinationals like Campbell's have been closing their plants in Canada and either ceasing to buy the Canadian product or buying it up only to ship it to the United States to process in their much larger plants there and sell back to Canada.
As a result we are becoming dependent on a foreign country for our food. When I grew up in this country I thought I was growing up in an agricultural country which also had manufacturing and commerce. It never occurred to me that we might ever approach the point where Canadian land would not feed Canadian people, where Canadian people would not be able to control the production of food and the processing of food in our own country. But in fact that is the prospect we are now facing with the NAFTA accord. We will be prevented from restoring the food processing industries in Canada by being told that any aid that the government gives is an unfair subsidy.
We have to protect the right, not so much of governments but sometimes with the help of governments, of people in any small town or any rural community elfectively to generate their own further employment by producing a cannery or a bottling plant or a jam factory, whatever you have, produce it and sell it locally without being swamped by cheap exports from the United States or Mexico. The United States blatantly violates the general principles of GATT with its export enhancement program. They can undersell any competitor in Canada and drive it out of business if we do not use our only defence against it which is the sovereign Government of Canada.
The same applies to Ontario's forest products industries. I worked for 18 years in one small branch of it, the production of corrugated paper boxes. I now learn that plants are being shut down in Canada because the boxes can be shipped in from the United States to serve the Canadian market. Some of those boxes are made with pulp produced in Canada, formerly used in Canada to make the boxes, now sent to the United States by the multinationals down there which control that part of the Canadian source and that part of the Canadian market.
Unemployment in cities as well as in the small rural towns is growing on account of the effective rule of the multinational corporations. It is killing local communities. It is causing people to move desperately into our larger cities, especially the three great metropolises, but not only those, and to empty and break up the fabric of rural communities in the countryside.
We need a chance to enable people in those places not only to grow food but to process it locally. That is why we need this subamendment. Without this amendment, NAFTA will continue to wipe out the food processing industry. It will block the possibility of creating new ones because of the multinationals flooding our market.
The general goal of the free trade agreement and the general goal of the North American free trade agreement, the so-called economic constitution for North America, is clearly to give the biggest companies the freest access to the cheapest materials and low wages or for some people, no wages.
The Tory government slogan of promoting this agreement about four or five years ago was: "Do not explain the agreement to the public; just sell it".
Also, the intention of the Tories was to do no studies ol the impact or to withhold any impact studies so that Canadians would not know the results to be expected. Their decision was to prohibit hearings across the country, except in a few places. They missed the two largest metropolises in Canada which with the regions around them represent about a quarter of the Canadian people. There were absolutely no hearings there.
May 25, 1993
It is therefore necessary that the people understand what is being done by this government to the people who entrusted it with this responsibility.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: MEASURE TO ENACT