Mr. Fred McCain (Carleton-Charlotte):
Mr. Speaker, the arguments which have been placed before the public of Canada in respect to free trade do not really conform with reality. I think they should be referred to more as scare tactics with political motivations. They involve the pursuit of power rather than the pursuit of truth and the pursuit of what is in the best interests of Canada.
I am in particular disagreement with the concept that in any way, shape, or form the culture of Canada will be altered by virtue of a free trade agreement. Culture is something which government cannot legislate. We have tried on occasion to legislate morality in conformity with the faith the majority of the House has supported. We have tried to create legal structures which would implement our belief in the morality we would like to see sustained in this nation, and we have failed. We cannot, no matter how hard we try, legislate culture. That is something which is always in a state of transition and always in a state of change.
While historians may depict a reason why there has been a change in the culture of any particular area of the world, I do not think they have ever pinned it down to a particular piece of legislation, particularly as it relates to trade.
Culture is something which prospers in prosperity. It never advances in a period of recession. This Bill in intended to create prosperity in this land and I believe that it will. Any argument, political or otherwise, to the contrary certainly will be negated by the study of history as to when culture thrived, be it art or whatever, and when it failed to develop. It needed money and sponsors, which is what I hope a prosperous Canada will generate, in order that culture may indeed thrive.
We have heard representations that our entertainment industry may not thrive. I say, as I have said before, that at such point in time as the entertainment industry of Canada chooses to present the entertainment which Canadians enjoy, it shall then prosper. As long as there is an alternative to what is produced in Canada it shall be in competition with the listening audience, the viewing audience, or the reading audience in this land as it is elsewhere.
August 16, 1988
Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement
If one wishes to look at the independence of Canada, every nation in the world has, to one degree or another, committed itself to trade arrangements. No other nation in the world has accused itself or its Government of surrendering independence by virtue of pursuit of better business for more people in the jurisdiction in which the trade pact has been made.
The Hon. Member for Regina West (Mr. Benjamin) and I have been in accord on a number of subjects, particularly in respect to transportation. However, as to his remarks and his complaints about the transportation system, particularly as it relates to rail in Canada, until such time as both the Crown corporation and the publicly held corporation decide that they want to be competitive in the transportation industry, we shall be poorly served.
Unfortunately, the rates which go north and south are usually more beneficial to Canadian traders than are the rates which go east and west. That is the difficulty that both eastern and western Canada have in trade locked into an East-West pattern for this nation. It is fine for the centre, but it is not applicable to the best prosperity which we could obtain in either eastern or western Canada.
I am amazed that one who is so dependent upon the livestock industry of the West, as is the hon. gentleman from Regina, would hold such a position in respect of this item because north-south is a way for the fringes of Canada to trade.
There will be certain industries in this land which may not prosper as well as they have under this structure. However, I submit that the natural resource industries, in particular, and the technical industries now have a market which they can reach and that there is a challenge to Canadian government to ensure that the taxation system of Canada is competitive with that of our trading partners.
We must keep that competitive. If our taxes exceed the taxes which entrepreneurs or labourers would experience in other jurisdictions, we cannot provide the world market with our goods and services. We must recognize that there is an international competitive world in which we trade. Whether it be with the Pacific Rim, the United States, or the European Economic Community, we are in a world of trade, not in a nation isolated in an igloo, and we cannot prosper under that perception of our trading responsibilities.
It has been stated that the American law in respect to trade will still apply. It has been ignored that the Canadian law in respect to our trade with the United States will also still apply, and this is important. The other facet is that there is to be an international tribunal. Our fate is no longer to be decided by a single political thrust from our neighbour to the south. Rather, an international tribunal will discuss the difficulties which we may experience in whatever item of trade may be concerned. In our experience, particularly in lumber and potatoes, we have been the subject of a political decision rather than a legal or a trade agreement schedule. That is wrong.
Surely we have responsibility. I said that government must not tax excessively. We must have beneficent, ambitious, and competent management in the industrial life of this country. We must be in pursuit of markets. It is said that we should seek the Pacific Rim. We have been seeking markets in the Pacific Rim and we have been expanding, but in no way have they ever accommodated the degree and volume of trade which this nation needs for its prosperity.
We have been and shall continue to be in pursuit of all markets, but if we do not give notice to the world that we, as the European Economic Community, as Australia and New Zealand, and as, to some degree at least, the Pacific Rim, are a unit of trade; that we are a market of trade; that we are in pursuit of fair trade and equitable trade, then we will find ourselves in the same position as all those trade agreements which have been made by the coalition, which has actually been in existence for quite some time, whereby all the laws of the United States apply to GATT and all the laws of the United States apply to Canadian trade. They have and, yes, they still do, but future law cannot amend the treaty. That can only be amended by negotiation. That has been the traditional international structure in which we have traded by treaty for a good many years.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: CANADA-UNITED STATES FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT MEASURE TO ENACT