Mr. Brian L. Gardiner (Prince George-Bulkley Valley):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at second reading of this trade legislation. I want to use the opportunity to make a few comments about my riding. Prince George-Bulkley Valley is an exciting and diverse riding, stretching from the border in the west with the Hon. Member for Skeena (Mr. Fulton) and in the east against the Alberta border where the present Member is the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Clark).
Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement
It is a riding dominated by the forestry, mining and resource industries. Unfortunately, it is a riding that was ignored so long by the Tories.
Now it is a riding threatened by the trade deal. My concern over this trade legislation is primarily over what we may end up with during the period when the definition of a subsidy is determined. The Government has already sold out the forest industry in this country, especially in my Province of British Columbia. It caved in to American interests by signing the Memorandum of Understanding that was met with joy by the Premier of British Columbia, Mr. Vander Zalm, but condemned by the forest industry.
Adam Zimmerman, not a member of the New Democratic Party, was quoted as saying on December 31, in the Vancouver Sun: "It is bizarre. It is sickening. It is every nasty adjective for an industry person". Zimmerman, also chairman of the Forest Industries Council, said in an interview: "In one step it creates an industrial paraplegic out of a lumber industry".
We have heard reports that some forest companies are operating at a loss due to the provincial and federal Governments caving in to U.S. interests. It is important to note that nothing has changed due to the Free Trade Agreement we are being asked to approve here today. A similar action can be taken again. In fact, when the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) visited Prince George during the election campaign, he made no commitment to our area let alone any promise that he would deal with the Memorandum of Understanding.
I am concerned about this Government and its attitude toward the forest industry. The Auditor General has criticized the Government for its sloppy administration of the various forestry agreements between the federal Government and the provinces. British Columbia was singled out in this area and it is no doubt considering the inadequacy of the Vander Zalm Government.
I am concerned that if we do not have written assurances from the Government and the Minister, we will not have a federal-provincial forestry agreement. My part of British Columbia has the highest NSR in the province. Will federal and provincial spending in forestry be allowed under the trade deal, depending on what is defined?
This afternoon there might be a ray of light. The Government is like a chocolate bar, it is thick. We must get our point across a couple of times before it understands. In today's Question Period I was pleased to note that the Minister for International Trade (Mr. Crosbie)
December 19, 1988
Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement
has invited representatives from the forest industry to meet with him to discuss the Memorandum of Understanding. This afternoon I was in touch with some representatives of the forest industry in our province and I urged them to take the Minister up on his offer for a meeting, a meeting that we hope will happen as soon as possible. Perhaps, with some luck, we will get some sense out of the Government.
What we need is nothing less than an opportunity as parliamentarians to review how these negotiations are undertaken. We need a full and complete committee reporting independently to the Elouse. We need a trade monitor similar to the Auditor General who can report independently the activities of the negotiations that are taking place. The committee should have the power to travel, to hear witnesses and to take evidence under oath. In the true sense of democracy, give us the opportunity to review the negotiations openly, not behind the closed doors of government.
I do not see why Hon. Members opposite cannot give us a chance to see what is going on. They will have a chance to have their witnesses appear as well. If we do not have this committee, I am afraid that we will see another backroom deal. The Tories will cut out the programs that will cut the guts out of Canada. That is what I and other Hon. Members of my Party fear will happen if we leave the negotiations to Hon. Members opposite and to them alone.
There are many other areas of concern about the trade deal, the environment, social programs and water policy to mention a few. I call on the Government to support the motion put on the Order Paper by my colleague, the Hon. Member for Essex-Windsor (Mr. Langdon). If the Government has the courage of its convictions, I know it will support our efforts to represent the interests of our constituents.
In closing, I would like to thank the voters of Prince George-Bulkley Valley for the trust they have put in me as their Member of Parliament. I will continue to work, and I started to do so some time ago. I look forward to the next few years as being an exciting and productive time for my riding and for my constituents.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: CANADA-UNITED STATES FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT MEASURE TO ENACT