Mr. Jean-CIaude Malepart (Montreal-Sainte-Marie):
Mr. Speaker, this is a sad day for Canada because the result of the debate is that, on this issue, the Canadian Parliament is acting as a branch plant of the American Government. This decision and this Bill introduced by the Government do not reflect the will of Canadian men and women, nor that of the Canadian
January 20, 1987
Government or of the Official Opposition, they quite simply are dictated by the American Government.
I am not surprised that we should have reached that point after two and a half years under the administration of the present Prime Minister. We need only remember recent events and remind ourselves that this man was appointed president of Iron Ore just so he would shut down operations without fanfare. Well, Mr. Speaker, again today we are witnessing a lack of leadership and courage in this matter. It is imperative that the people who are listening and watching should know why we are stooping so low, why the Canadian Parliament is being forced to follow the dictates of a foreign Government and impose a tax on Quebec and other Canadian companies, a tax which will be paid by Canadian workers.
Mr. Speaker, Quebec is hit as hard as the other provinces. For instance, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region unfortunately is represented by four Conservative Members: yet not one of them has spoken against this measure. The forest industry is a major employer in that region and it will be severely affected by the decision of the Government. Abitibi is also represented by two Conservative Members, yet we have not heard a peep from them even though workers in those ridings may indeed lose their jobs. We must bear in mind that people like our grandparents fought against annexation by the United States. There are people who took up arms to keep this from happening. Even Quebecers, who sometimes like to set themselves apart from the rest of Canada, even Quebecers joined up with people from the other provinces to ensure that Canada would not become an American state. But as luck would have it, the landslide in 1984 brought us Chicken Little who was elected Prime Minister, so that today, in 1987, the debate is on legislation and decisions that are not being made by the elected representatives of the Canadian people.
Yesterday, I heard the Hon. Member for Charlevoix (Mr. Hamelin) say it was the best possible settlement. There was nothing else we could do. I say that when people get to the point where they say there is nothing else they can do, there is something they can do: they can resign and make way for others who are prepared to protect and support the interests of Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, all this bullying and today's decision to agree to impose a 15 per cent tax on the lumber industry, a decision forced on us by the United States, all this will lead to further pressure. Tomorrow, the Americans will say: We don't like your unemployment insurance system, and you are going to change this and that. Conservative Members will say, with their Leader: Yes Sir, Mr. President, anything you say. And it will be yes, Sir, again, when the Americans start criticizing something else. For instance our health insurance plan, the best in this country, which enables all Canadians to be insured, whatever their income and gives them access to the best medical care, and helps them survive. With the kind of
arrangement the Conservatives are accepting on bended knee today, tomorrow the Americans may well be telling us, since they do not have this kind of health insurance: We think you should get rid of your health insurance plan because you are competing unfairly with such and such an industry. That is what it will come to, Mr. Speaker.
When I think that the Hon. Member for Levis (Mr. Fontaine)-oh, I'm not surprised. He is never on the right track, which is why the shipyards in Lauzon are in such poor shape. And speaking of tracks, Mr. Speaker, I have the impression he thinks Lauzon makes trains instead of ships, which is probably why the Hon. Member is so confused.
Mr. Speaker, I realize I don't have much time left. I want to make it clear that I intend to support my Leader in his battle to ensure that this Bill is not passed and that Canadians will continue to hold their heads high and decide for themselves what they will do to protect our lumber industry and uphold the dignity of this country.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: SOFTWOOD LUMBER PRODUCTS EXPORT CHARGE ACT