Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster-Burnaby):
Madam Speaker, I am pleased that the people of New Westminster-Burnaby have given their confidence to me to represent them here in the House of Commons. My constituency has a long history of sending men and women from the New Democratic Party here to represent its interests.
In fact, a portion of Burnaby was once represented by a great parliamentarian, former Leader of our Party, and distinguished Canadian, Tommy Douglas. It was Tommy Douglas and the CCF who had the courage to lead the political fight to bring universal medicare to Canadians and Canadian families.
In recent years the new riding of New Westminster- Burnaby was ably represented by the present Hon. Member for Burnaby-Kingsway (Mr. Robinson) and by a woman who has been at the forefront of the struggle for world peace, Ms. Pauline Jewett.
The overwhelming concern of the people in the riding of New Westminster-Burnaby is the trade deal that we are debating tonight. This is an historic debate for Canada, a debate that will affect the future of our country. The men and women who came here before us have ensured that Canadian social and cultural values were protected and have built our country on a cooperative model.
In contrast, the society in the United States has been driven mainly by market principles. We in the New
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Democratic Party are simply saying that our Canadian traditions, our social policies, and our values should prevail. We must maintain our own political independence.
The major industries in New Westminster-Burnaby are fishing and forestry, and there is fear in the hearts and minds of the men and women who work in those industries because of this Free Trade Agreement. They have watched, as we all have watched, the President of the United States reimpose the unfair tariff on shakes and shingles, and they know that the Progressive Conservative Government in Ottawa imposed an unfair 15 per cent export tax on softwood lumber. There is no protection in this legislation against further punitive action by the United States.
B.C.'s fishing industry, according to the B.C. Fisheries Council, generates $733 million a year in sales and employs up to 8,000 men and women.
The trade regulation exempts regulations in respect of the east coast fishery. Why not for the west coast fishery? Where is the fairness in this deal for British Columbia?
The Fisheries Minister is now asking for new regulation that will only provide for landing. The Fisheries Council has already said that some of the major employers in British Columbia will move to Washington State if there are no proper grading or gutting regulations to ensure that Canadian fish can go to Canadian ports and plants to be processed. Thousands of B.C. men and women will lose their jobs. Where is the fairness for B.C. workers and their families? Next week Canada presents this proposal, and it must protect the B.C. fishery.
While a majority of Canadians stand to be hurt by this trade deal, Canadian women will suffer disproportionately. This Tory Government has given no consideration to the economic crisis facing Canadian women today.
Working women are concentrated in the very sectors that will be hardest hit by the trade deal. Almost 85 per cent of working women work in the service industries: health, education, telecommunications, and computer services. All are directly affected by this deal.
The pressure to compete on a level playing field will also put pressure on our minimum wage laws. Canadian women will pay the price, because too often they are
Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement
concentrated in jobs that pay as little as the law requires.
Women's organizations from across Canada have told this Government of their very real concern. But once again, Canadian women have been ignored by this Progressive Conservative Government. Where is the fairness for Canadian women?
I have listened again and again, and most recently to the preceding speaker, to government Members saying that we New Democrats frightened Canada's older citizens during the recent election campaign.
I find this to be a very patronizing attitude toward our seniors. Older Canadians built this nation. Older Canadians have defended Canada in two world wars; older Canadians struggled through the Great Depression and the hungry 1930s; older Canadians, Madam Speaker, can and do think for themselves.
One Voice, the Canadian Seniors network, made a presentation last July to the legislative committee considering the trade deal. I should like to read the closing paragraph of that presentation. It is as follows:
One Voice does not want us to close without stating that Canada's seniors, some 2.7 million persons, have a huge stake in this country. They have worked, fought, argued, voted, volunteered, saved and enjoy Canada. They don't want it to remain the same. They see it as a vibrant, progressive, evolving, participatory nation with sound basic principles stated through our provision for those who need special consideration, recognizing differences in regions, cultures and experiences. This Canadianism is worth protecting. It is our identity and seniors want to remain independently, uniquely Canadian.
Those are the words of the seniors. I do not think that we frighten them.
My final point relates to the issue of subsidies. The Government failed to reach agreement in this most critical area. During the next five to seven years the Governments of Canada and the United States will negotiate what constitutes a subsidy. Already Ronald Reagan has told the U.S. Congress that his administration has no higher priority than the elimination of Canadian subsidies which adversely affect U.S. industries.
Of course our social programs are in jeopardy, if not directly by the Americans, then indirectly as Canadian big business demands lower costs in order to compete on the so-called level playing field.
Already, only one month after the election, the Canadian Manufacturers' Association is calling for a royal commission on social programs.
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This confirms the prediction by New Democrats that business groups will apply pressure to reduce social spending in Canada. But there is one exemption on subsidies. If any government subsidy is "sensitive to the defence of the country" it will be permissible. The result of this exemption may well mean an increased focus on military industries. This is not what the majority of Canadians want for our country.
A former Deputy Minister of Finance recently made other points about the negotiations, as reported in the Financial Times of November 28, 1988. I quote the words of Mickey Cohen, a former Deputy Minister of Finance:
We will face greater pressures to harmonize, either because the Americans are asking for it or because our own businessmen are saying, "If we're going to compete, we have to look more like the guys we're competing with. Our cost structures have to be more sound." That all along has been the valid criticism of the responsible people in the Liberals and the NDP. The problem isn't in the four corners of the agreement. It's in the pressures that will come indirectly from it.
It is not just New Democrats who are concerned about this disastrous trade deal; it is health care workers, nurses, older Canadians, teachers, church groups. In fact, a majority of Canadians are opposed to this disastrous trade deal. The Government must listen. This Government must address the deep felt concerns of Canadians.
New Democrats in this place and New Democrats right across Canada will continue the fight to protect our social programs; will continue to push for environmental protection; will continue the fight for fair regional development programs now and after the implementation of this deal.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: CANADA-UNITED STATES FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT MEASURE TO ENACT