Parliamentary Career

November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
  Dartmouth (Nova Scotia)
October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
  Dartmouth (Nova Scotia)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade (February 23, 1996 - July 9, 1997)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 146)

February 19, 1997

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the comments from my colleague, the hon. member for Rosedale.

I do not think there are many people in the House who are as articulate when it comes to dealing in the realm of foreign policy, both trade and others. There are many times that I seek his wise guidance, as does the minister.

The questions he raises and the comments he made are quite true. This year has been a record year for Canadian exports. Indeed, Canada is now exporting almost $1 billion of goods and services every single working day. We have seen our trade surplus continue to mount over the last few years.

This year the trade surplus has increased by 20 per cent in excess of $34 billion. In the last three years exports have increased by47 per cent. Our GDP as it relates to trade is now at an all time high of almost 40 per cent. Some have put it over 40 per cent. So it is very clear that Canada's success in trade is driving the engine of

recovery. It is the engine which is producing the jobs in the economy and wealth for Canadians.

The member spoke about the importance of the service sector. He is entirely correct. For the last number of years as our trade and our surplus in goods and products has grown, we have lagged behind in services.

I would like to say to the hon. member that according to the statistics that came out today, for the first time in 12 years Canada has posted a surplus not just on the goods side but on the service sector side. That is very positive news for the movement in that sector of the Canadian economy.

The member speaks about the importance of small and medium size enterprises. The government could not agree more. It knows that the continued success of trade abroad will continue and will sometimes be led by large companies. But the success we are most proud of are in the small and medium size enterprises whose people

accompanied the Prime Minister, the minister of trade and other members of Parliament along with me around the globe. They are truly showing the entrepreneurial spirit in the Canadian economy. And this is what will continue to lead in the creation of jobs and growth both domestically and abroad.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   Indian Act Optional Modification Act
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February 14, 1997

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to debate a very important piece of legislation for all Canadians. The legislation would solidify the good trading relationship Canada has had with Chile.

Bill C-81 is enabling legislation for the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement. It is an important milestone for us because it broadens the access to Canadian products and services under a free trade regime into Latin American and South American countries.

As most people in the House and in the country are aware, Canada has a very proud and strong tradition of being very competitive in international markets.

I come from Atlantic Canada which has a history of trade. Many times I have said in the past that up until 1867 when we were merely a British colony places like Nova Scotia did a great deal of trade. The reason Nova Scotia did so well in the 1800s is that the culture of the people in Atlantic Canada was to look abroad.

The port of Halifax, the finest natural port in the world, used to be chock full of ships plying their trade. I am told one could almost walk from the shores of Dartmouth to the shores of Halifax on a good summer day. Ships from all over the world were coming into the port of Halifax in the 1850s and 1860s to trade with the world. They would not just trade with central or upper Canada. They would trade with the New England states. They traded a great deal with Latin America, with the Caribbean, with Europe and with the rest of the world.

In 1867 with the formation of Canada and the various regimes and nation states that were being put in place protectionism became the name of the game. For well over 120 years we saw countries like Canada looking more and more inward and putting up barriers to trade to protect their industries and markets.

In the last decade there has been an explosion in trade deregulation. If we look around the globe we see the emergence of different trade groups like the European Union and the Mercosur block in South America. In North America we initially had the free trade deal with the United States which was then extended to Mexico and was known as the NAFTA.

Great debates took place in Canada on whether or not this nation was up to the challenge of competing globally and of removing the tariff and non-tariff barriers to its own markets, on whether or not we had the wherewithal as an entrepreneurial class of Canadians to still be competitive, to have growth in our industries and jobs, and to create wealth.

Maybe the verdict is out but I think the verdict in on free trade. After two recessions, one in the early eighties and the other in the early nineties, Canadian industries are among the must competitive in the entire world.

In my job as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade I deal with some of the most successful competitive companies with the best practices in the world. They are Canadian companies in almost every sector: mining, natural resources, telecommunications and infrastructure. They are renowned around the world for the way in which they do their business, the quality of the product and the timeliness of delivery of their service.

In the last few years we have seen the Canadian industrial infrastructure take advantage of the reduction in tariffs and the introduction of free trade in the NAFTA. We continue to penetrate the toughest market in the world, the American market.

The statistics are important. At the risk of sounding boastful I would like to repeat them. Canada, this great country of ours with 30 million people, does $1 billion a day in two-way trade with the United States of America. We ship $550 million in goods and services south of the border and we get $450 million back. For every working day of every month in Canada, Canada does over $1 billion in two-way trade. This is a small country with 30 million people and we do over $1 billion every working day.

If anybody out there questions whether or not Canadian industries are up to the challenge of free trade and can compete in international markets and keep their own markets the answer is yes.

Canada leads G-7 countries in terms of the percentage of GDP coming from trade. It is approaching 39 per cent. It boggles the mind that Canadian industry has been as competitive as it has been. Most of the nearly 700,000 jobs created since the government came to power have been created in industries that have expanded their export performance. They have gone out. They have competed. They have penetrated markets. They have created jobs and wealth for Canadians.

What does it mean in terms of jobs created in international trade? How do they relate? They relate in a very real manner. For every $1 billion in exports from Canadian industry there are 11,000 jobs maintained or created in the Canadian economy. These are not the traditional McJobs at $5 per hour. These jobs are in the high tech sector. These are jobs for scientists, researchers and professionals. These jobs create real wealth and prosperity across the country.

Places like Atlantic Canada where I come from have benefited a great deal. It has taken us a little longer to twist our minds around to the fact that we once again can be competitive and that we are no longer bridled and collared by just the domestic marketplace and the regulatory regimes that go with it.

Increasingly we see ships from around the world once again making the port of Halifax and the port of Saint John, New Brunswick, part of their international ports of call. We see the jobs that come with that. We see more and more people from around the world looking at places like Atlantic Canada because of its strategic location, because of its natural resources and because of its history of entrepreneurship and trade. Increasingly we are seeing these individuals looking at places like Atlantic Canada and the ports in the province of Quebec and in British Columbia as places where they want to invest dollars.

The recent history of free trade has been extremely successful. About a year ago we decided we would not wait for the United States which had decided not to give fast track authority to its president to pursue trade liberalization or free trade negotiations with Chile. We as a government made a strategic decision to follow an independent forum and an independent trade policy. It was in our best interest, because we knew how competitive our industry was, to extend our free trade negotiations to our friends to the south. We found a willing partner in the great nation of Chile. Chile said: "We also want to become a partner in free trade with Canada. We believe there is a tremendous amount we can do together". The negotiations began in January 1996. In less than one year, on November 18, 1996 the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of Chile initialled the free trade deal between Canada and Chile.

It is a very important deal. It showed the world that Canada was not just going to talk about free trade. It showed Canada was going to pursue opportunities wherever they existed so Canadian companies could have access to foreign markets. It showed that we were not afraid to allow foreign companies access to the Canadian marketplace because we were absolutely convinced of the competitiveness of our industry and our entrepreneurs.

What has this deal done for us? Some people would ask why we would go with Chile, that we do not really have a lot of trade with

that country. We do have a lot of trade. We have about $700 million a year in trade. More important is the recognition that we invest about $7 billion in Chile. Canada is the second largest investor in Chile. It is important for us. It gives us a window on that market in South America.

This is a good deal for Canada. It is a deal that has good support around the House of Commons. It immediately reduces the import duty for about 75 per cent of the goods that Canada exports to Chile. For the rest of the goods, by and large with one or two exceptions, over the next five years a zero tariff will be applied.

The deal also allows us to do a couple of other things which I will cover quickly. It gives us a very good dispute settlement mechanism which is similar to the deal we have with the United States. On trade remedies, where I will draw the line, we have agreed in this deal that there is no room in a free trade association for anti-dumping laws to be applied. This is a great victory for Canada. This deal is a great victory for the people of Chile.

I look forward to support from all members of the House to have this speedily passed at second reading and referred to a committee so that on June 2 this free trade deal will come in force for the benefit of all people of Canada and Chile.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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February 14, 1997

Mr. MacDonald

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member needs a lot of clarification if he misunderstands that the Liberal Party has always been the traditional party of free trade. It was not the Tory Party, it has never been. The hon. member laughs, but if he looks at some of the most important trade liberalization moves that have been taken since 1867, they were taken by the Liberal Party of Canada.

What he does not want to understand is that when the Liberal Party of Canada goes forward with trade liberalization, it does not succumb to the wishes of the United States. We stand firm for the rights of Canadian industry. We have done it under NAFTA. We have done it under the FTA and we have done it with Chile.

Finally, the hon. member has asked a very important question. He alluded to the fact that the dispute settlement mechanism under NAFTA simply does not work. I would like to sit down and show my hon. colleague that the dispute settlement mechanism has worked very well. Of the disputes that have gone full term, Canada has won over 90 per cent of them. I believe the deal we have negotiated has protected Canadian industries.

With respect to the promises made in the election campaign about NAFTA, working groups have been established to look at a subsidies code as well as at anti-dumping. Those reports are going to be the subject of negotiations and discussions at the next NAFTA commission. If he is still around when those are discussed we will be edified with the results of those negotiations.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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February 14, 1997

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions On The Order Paper
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February 13, 1997

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak on this legislation. I commend my colleague from Broadview-Greenwood who from time to time brings issues forth in this House. They are usually very controversial but are necessary for the public to have debated in places like the Parliament of Canada and the provincial legislatures.

I know sometimes people say the member for Broadview-Greenwood sometimes comes up with ideas that cause some of his colleagues some difficulty because they would prefer not to have them debated in a public forum. Perhaps this is one of them.

This bill goes into an area where there has been considerable controversy in the province of Nova Scotia, perhaps also the province of Alberta and some of the western provinces where gaming, casinos and video lottery terminals have been taken over and regulated by governments and have become a source of revenue for governments. It begs the ethical and moral argument about whether or not gambling is sinful, whether or not gambling is something that should be spurned or shunned and whether or not government should be involved in it. There are very important debates which should and must take place.

At the same time some of the very people who raise all those questions are the same people who say that governments should cut back on personal income taxes, find other sources of revenue that they are not stripping arbitrarily out of the wallets of individuals. I would say to those individuals that they cannot have it both ways.

It seems that it is human nature that people sometimes like to play games of chance. I am a victim of playing games of chance. I like to play scratch and win games. I do not think I go through an airport that I do not pick up a $2 ticket. It is $2 one I can afford. It is my bit of fun perhaps at the end of the week on the way home on a Thursday night or a Friday morning. Periodically I win a few dollars and periodically I lose a few dollars.

I do it because I want to do it. I as an adult make a conscious decision that is what I want to do. I do it in a framework knowing that the lottery corporation, be it in Ontario or be it the Atlantic lottery corporation, properly regulates the game. I do it knowing what my odds are because they are printed on the back of the tickets. I do not have to worry about whether it is a scam. I do not have to worry about whether it is one of these mail order things that say "do this and you win eligibility for a $20 million prize".

I do it with the full knowledge that the Canadian institutions of government have regulated it and are making sure that the printed odds are actually the odds in the game and that I am not getting ripped off. I make the conscious choice to do it.

What the hon. member has put before us in the middle of all of this controversy about gaming and video lottery terminals and whether they should be in corner stores or whatever is very important. He has hit on the leading wave of technology, the Internet.

It is quite amazing because I am not one of those people who are not terribly technologically proficient. I fumble around on my little computer at home. Most times my five-year old son Stephen or Matthew is able to browse me through where I want to go a little easier than I can do it.

The reality is it is a wired world today. That is what it is. The reality is, as the hon. member opposite just stated, that we can do pretty much anything. From my home on Saturday I called up Debates from the previous Parliament on the Internet. I was amazed that I could actually do it. It also means that my constituents can do it. I can buy car insurance. I can find out where I want to shop. I can book a holiday anywhere in the world. I can find out what temperature it is on a beach down on the west coast of Florida. The world is wired. It is the new wave.

Anybody who thinks they are able to keep off the Internet the provision of leisure gaming services is crazy. It is already there. Today in my office-I did not know you could do this-I sat down, worked around for bit and hooked up with the Liechtenstein Gaming Corporation in Liechtenstein. It is a city, a mountain, a river, and that is it. That is what the place is. I was in the Liechtenstein Gaming Corporation casino.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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