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41st PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 116

CONTENTS

Thursday, September 25, 2014




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 147 
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NUMBER 116 
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2nd SESSION 
l
41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayers



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[Translation]

Petitions

Wetland Protection 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present three petitions today.
    The first petition was signed by people in my riding who want to ensure that the former Saint-Maurice shooting range is decontaminated within a reasonable time frame and that the wetlands and the imperilled flora and fauna in the ecosystem are protected and preserved. I have several hundred signatures and petitions, and I am very proud of my constituents who made the effort to collect these signatures.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is calling on the Government of Canada to reject Canada Post's proposed service cuts and explore other options to modernize the crown corporation's business plan. Terrebonne is one of the cities where door-to-door delivery will be eliminated by 2015. People are very worried about that and wish to express their disapproval.

Consumer Protection  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition aims to put an end to unfair fees and rip-offs. People in my riding are sick and tired of the never-ending fees. By presenting this petition, we are hoping to help families make ends meet.

[English]

Anaphylaxis  

    Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise in the House today to present a petition on behalf of dozens of Canadians. They are calling upon the House of Commons and Parliament assembled to enact a policy to reduce the risk for anaphylactic passengers in Canadian airplanes.

[Translation]

Consumer Protection  

    Mr. Speaker, this summer I had the honour of travelling throughout my riding. A very popular petition was being circulated, and I will be rising often during this session to speak to this issue. The petition addresses the fact that life is becoming less affordable for average Canadians, including the people of my riding, regardless of what the Conservative government likes to say. Everyone is fed up with bank fees. Dozens of people have signed this petition, and there are more to come. They are calling on the government to take measures to protect consumers by capping ATM fees.

Citizenship and Immigration  

    Mr. Speaker, today I just want to present a petition calling for the deportation of Michele Torre to be suspended.

Pensions  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to present petitions from my constituents about pensions. They are upset that the government raised the eligibility age to 67 years. They are asking the government to lower it to 65 years. They indicate that pensions experts, unions, workers, provincial governments and many seniors' organizations support this request.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise this morning to present two petitions. The first petition is about water.

[English]

    Many groups across Canada are organizing to remove the use of bottled water.
    These petitioners ask that bottled water be banned in federal government institutions where potable water is available from the tap.
    This petition comes from residents of Saanich—Gulf Islands, particularly Mayne Island, Pender Island, Saturna Island and Sidney.

  (1010)  

Genetically Modified Foods  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions on the same subject from residents primarily of Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    The petitioners call upon the government for the labelling of genetically modified foods.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition to the House signed by petitioners in and around my riding of Beaches—East York with respect to the CBC.
    These petitioners are anxious to see the CBC retain its status as a core cultural institution able to broadcast our nation's unique identity and linguistic realities.
    The petitioners call upon the government to guarantee stable, adequate and multi-year financing for our public broadcaster so that it may continue its work in all regions of the country.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act

Bill C-36--Time Allocation Motion  

     Mr. Speaker, it is a tightly run machine over here and as a result, I move:
    That, in relation to Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill; and
    That 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government orders on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
    There will now be a 30-minute question period. I would ask members to try to keep their questions or comments to approximately one minute and responses to a similar length.
    The hon. member for Gatineau.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, being concise is not my strong suit, especially since this is the 76th time the government has used a time allocation motion. Today it is about a bill that was studied in committee, and many witnesses appeared before that committee.
    If I understand correctly, the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons would make tomorrow the only day set aside for speeches that are essential to alerting Canadians about the implications of Bill C-36 at second reading and report stage.
    According to the daily order of business in the House, that happens to be Friday, and everyone knows that on Fridays, the House discusses routine proceedings until 1:30 p.m. That means very little time will be spent on the debate.
    If memory serves, on Monday, we had barely two and a half hours of debate on Bill C-36 at report stage. That is the height of indecency. I am learning how Parliament works. Not only have I learned that we are not entitled to receive answers in the chamber, but I have also learned that we do not have the right to speak or even air our opinions.
    I have a question for the minister. The theory underlying Bill C-36 is that sex workers are victims. However, according to a report published this week, many sex workers do not consider themselves to be victims.
    Is the government afraid of letting people have their say on Bill C-36, which experts have condemned as unconstitutional? If the minister tells me that it is because the Supreme Court gave them until December to bring in legislation, then he misunderstood the Bedford decision.

  (1015)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's comments and questions.
    I understand the Bedford decision very well. I also understand that this is an opportunity for the government to protect vulnerable people.

[English]

    That is exactly the situation we are in. There is a sense of urgency to have the legislation in place to fill the gap that was created by the Supreme Court in Bedford, in striking down sections of the Criminal Code. More importantly, there is a necessity on the human side to put in place protections for those vulnerable people.
    If my friend is asking me if I believe the vast majority of those persons in prostitution being prostituted are victims, yes, I do. Based on the overwhelming evidence and testimony that we heard from committee meetings this summer, from the 3,100 participants in the online consultation, from personal round table meetings and interactions I had with persons in the trade, police, counsellors, and persons working within the justice system, yes, I do believe that.
    Do I believe the legislation is constitutionally sound? Do I believe it is good public policy? Do I believe, coupled with the programs that come with the legislation, it will make the necessary difference in people's lives to help them find a better path? Yes, I do.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister indicates he feels the bill is constitutional, but his is pretty much a lone voice among those with legal training who testified before committee.
    What we know is that the Supreme Court has given Parliament until December 20 to act, if it decides to do so. That is the timeline. We have three months, and we are looking at limiting debate to two days. A pre-study has already commenced in the Senate. Senator Linda Frum indicated she does not expect to see any amendments at the Senate. All of the amendments at committee, save one that was proposed by the official opposition, were rejected. The bill already appears to be on a fast track.
    Given that there are still three months before there will be a gap, have there been any meaningful efforts to come to an agreement with respect to a fair amount of time to debate the bill? If not, does it not seem a bit heavy-handed to take the debate down to two days when there are three months to deal with a complex social problem on which the Canadian public is extremely divided? We learned that from a $175,000 poll which was withheld from the justice committee until the hearings were done.
    Canadians care about this. Canadians are divided on this, yet it seems as though, unless the minister can tell me otherwise, there has been no real attempt to come up with a fair amount of time for debate. Rather, a heavy-handed measure is being taken here.
    Mr. Speaker, we know the member for Charlottetown is a stranger to the truth on a lot of the questions he has put forward. He is very prone to hyperbole.
    He has put forward the suggestion that there has not been ample time to debate or consult on the bill. We have been given very strict timelines by the Supreme Court in the Bedford decision. In fact, he is factually incorrect in suggesting we have until December 20. We actually have until November 20, because the legislation has a 30-day coming into effect period. We are working on very tight timelines. I would suggest the bill is unique in that regard, in that we were given a very static timeframe in which to work.
    With great credit to members of the justice committee both in the House and the Senate, extraordinary work was done over the summer months. Members and senators came back to Ottawa. They had very meaningful hearings in which members of stakeholder groups from across the country were given the opportunity to participate. I have already mentioned the online consultation. To my knowledge, it was the largest in the history of the Department of Justice. There were 3,100 participants in that online consultation.
    Yes, it is certainly a topical and in some cases divisive issue. We have taken great strides to get it right. We did so by hearing from persons most affected, those most vulnerable, those most at risk of leaving a legislative gap. That is why we are now moving forward with what is a very informed bill, keeping in mind that amendments have already been made to reflect that input.
    That is the reason we are moving forward. We have heard from experts. We have heard from Senate and House parliamentarians. Now is the time to proceed with this legislation.

  (1020)  

    Questions and comments. I would ask all members to be conscious of the fact that there are a number of people who want to ask questions and to keep their questions and comments to a minute.
    The hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.
    Mr. Speaker, the justice minister said that the government wants to get it right, but the experience contradicts that claim.
    This is a sad record. It is the 76th time, as the member for Gatineau just mentioned, that the government has invoked closure. That is a sad record that is even worse than the former Liberal government's record in trying to ram through legislation.
    Here is the real kicker. The government also has the record for most pieces of legislation rejected by the courts. Half a dozen pieces of legislation have been thrown out by the courts so far this year, because the government did not get it right. It has botched legislation. It has more product recalls than any government in Canadian history. Now it is trying to tell us that somehow it has it right, even though we know, as the member for Gatineau just mentioned, that it refused any amendments from the opposition, except for one, and it refused the valuable testimony that was given by witnesses.
    The question is simple. How can we trust the government on this when it has so badly botched legislation to the point where the courts have rejected half a dozen pieces of legislation this year? Does the government intend to just get this rejected by the courts again?
    Mr. Speaker, I know the member sometimes thinks he is auditioning for Yuk Yuk's or Just for Laughs, but this is a very serious issue. It is an issue that involves young people in particular in this country who are being exploited. It involves aspects of human trafficking. We heard testimony with respect to the extreme violence that often accompanies prostitution, the drug addiction, the extreme poverty, and the horrible conditions in which young people find themselves, women and girls generally, associated with the vulnerability of prostitution.
    The member suggests that we somehow just talk about this further, that we should have the debate go on and on. Sadly, that has been the demand coming from the opposition, that we continue to have these debates for days on end. They put up the entire caucus to speak to the legislation. We do not have that time. We cannot afford that error in judgment to hold back fixing this situation that leaves people vulnerable.
    I know the member is chirping. He is shaking his head. I can hear it rattling from here.
    Six or seven times it was rejected by the court.
    M. Speaker, we have to move forward with this bill. It is necessary and it will protect people.
    Mr. Speaker, since October, when we had the last Speech from the Throne, this is the 22nd time allocation motion. I look forward to the Speaker's ruling on my question of privilege. The repetitive and nearly constant use of time allocation violates our responsibilities and our ability to do our work here as parliamentarians.
    I have a small side comment for the Minister of Justice. I find his gratuitous and ad hominem insults toward the members for Charlottetown and Burnaby—New Westminster to be unworthy of a minister of the crown.
     I would ask him this one simple question. If he is so sure that this bill is constitutional, which I and most legal experts do not believe it is, would he please table the legal opinion of the Department of Justice lawyers that Bill C-36 is in fact constitutional?
    Mr. Speaker, that is the usual feigned outrage from the member. I will tell her what I have already said to the House, which is that we believe this legislation is constitutional and is charter-proof, of course. We believe the legislation answers the questions that were put forward and the issues that were identified quite clearly by the majority in Bedford. It was a decision that put the government in a position where we had to respond with this bill.
    We have done extensive consultation. We have been engaged in an active and genuine outreach to arrive at this place. We do rely on the very capable advice coming from lawyers within the Department of Justice. Quite frankly, I am surprised that the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands would be so critical and so doubting of the advice coming from professional public servants, lawyers, and members of a fraternity of which she is also a member, and that she would suggest that this advice was somehow not being followed by the Department of Justice.

  (1025)  

    Mr. Speaker, my question is actually for the government House leader.
    The government House leader has now stood in his place and introduced time allocation more than any other House leader in the history of this Parliament, primarily because no other prime minister in the history of Canada has introduced closure more. That is what time allocation is, a form of closure, limiting debate on important pieces of legislation, saying that the House of Commons will not allow members of Parliament, who want to get engaged in a debate, the opportunity to participate in that debate.
    The Conservatives continuously abuse, or they have a genuine lack of respect for, due process inside the House of Commons.
    My question to the government House leader is this. Why does the government House leader feel that using time allocation is the only way the government, this majority Reform/Conservative government, has of passing legislation? Whatever happened to good faith negotiating with opposition House leaders so that we can get an orderly passing of a legislative agenda? That is the way it used to be; that is the way it should be.
    No government in the history—
    Order, please. The hon. Minister of Justice.
    Mr. Speaker, I am not the government House leader. I am not privy to those discussions that take place when it comes to the legislative agenda.
    The member is relatively new to this House and perhaps was not here in previous parliaments when the Liberal Party was in government. I was there. I sat where he is sitting today on the opposition benches and saw this method to move legislative forward quite frequently used by his party when it was in government. There is an element of hypocrisy in throwing the allegation that we are the only government that has ever used this method to move legislation through.
    However, I come back to the principle of why I believe it is necessary to do so, and that is to put in place a legislative framework within the Criminal Code that will in fact protect people, vulnerable people, individuals who find themselves caught in this terrible dilemma of being in the sex trade where other opportunities, if they were afforded to them, would give them a much safer, healthier place to be.
    That is what I think is most important about the bill. It is coupled with programs that will in fact help people to exit prostitution, afford them educational opportunities, training opportunities, housing, child care, the type of support that we believe leads to a healthier society, and certainly for those individuals it is an attempt to bring them to a much better life.
    Mr. Speaker, the issue on which the people who are watching need to stay focused is that legislation dealing with prostitution is a very serious issue that needs to be put forward in a manner that would pass the constitutional requirements of this country.
    We have a Minister of Justice who announced that the debate will be cut of at a time when numerous legal experts have questioned the constitutionality of this legislation. Parliament is being asked to go along with the Potemkin democratic charade that we see with this House, where the people who are supposed to make legislation are being pushed to the side and the legislation forced through when all the signs are showing that this will fail once again at the Supreme Court.
    It comes down to the credibility of the government and the Minister of Justice, who time and time again have thought that the only solution for laws in this country is to butt heads with the Supreme Court and lose, time and time again. If we are to deal with legislation in this country, we have a responsibility to do it properly through the House of Commons so that we ensure that all due diligence is done.
    All the language and insults that we have been hearing from the Minister of Justice against people who are speaking up on this will not change that fact. If it will not meet the constitutional requirements, then we are wasting our time in the House of Commons with this legislation.

  (1030)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite may be a semi-talented musician; but I am not sure about his acting ability. This member accuses people of insults, but he is the daily court jester in that regard.
    The reality is that the bill—
    Order, please. The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay on a point of order.
     Mr. Speaker, does the minister have to demean the House with his childish stunts, really, when we are talking about the constitutionality of legislation? It is pitiful.
    I would invite the member to indicate where there is a point of order in that commentary.
    The hon. Minister of Justice may continue. He has about 30 seconds.
    Mr. Speaker, as we know, this is a very serious issue where vulnerable people are at risk. That is the reason we are moving post-haste to bring this legislation to fruition, so that the Criminal Code would afford those protections. It would allow not only those who find themselves in prostitution but those who support them to move forward in a way that will improve their lives.
    That is why we are moving in this direction. We have had numerous debates. We had the opportunity at the committee to hear from the community and individuals, those most affected, in bringing forward their voice in a meaningful way.
    As far as the constitutionality goes, we have an obligation that we are not going to shirk in the government with respect to ensuring that those protections are there. We, of course, take expert advice from the Department of Justice. We have officials there who are very well versed in the application of the charter. I would certainly rely on that advice in suggesting that this legislation is constitutionally sound.
    There is a point of order from the member for Burnaby—New Westminster.
    Mr. Speaker, I wanted to cite O'Brien and Bosc, because this has been a repeated problem. The member for Timmins—James Bay just cited it, as did the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    Under “Unparliamentary Language” on page 618, it says very clearly that personal attacks are “not in order” in the House of Commons. The Minister of Justice has responded to every question with a personal attack, and I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you enforce what are clear guidelines that personal attacks of the nature that the Minister of Justice seems to be throwing around are simply inappropriate for the House of Commons, particularly in a matter of such seriousness as the bill we are discussing.
    I thank the member for the intervention. I have to say that the issue is when it becomes a personal attack. Certainly the language that has been used by the minister is not unparliamentary. Whether it is a personal attack is always a question of the context in which we hear it.
    I would ask all sides in the House to be more careful with that type of approach, but I do not see at this stage that the minister has crossed the line.
    Resuming questions and comments, the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, first of all, wanting to judicialize a social problem is pretty weak. I have to wonder if the Conservatives thought about what it will cost society if this has to go before the Supreme Court again.
    I would like to ask the minister if impact studies were done on how the justice system will be affected if this bill passes and becomes law, because if it works, we presume that hundreds, if not thousands of sex workers and their clients will wind up before the courts.
    Does the minister have any idea what the social cost will be and how clogged up the legal system could become if all these people have a criminal record? Did he study that issue?

  (1035)  

    Of course, Mr. Speaker, that is a legitimate question.

[English]

    What we have obviously seen through this legislation is a situation where prostitution in an asymmetrical way would become illegal for the very first time, the act of prostitution and the purchasing of sexual services. We believe that this would put into the hands of the police the ability to enforce the law to protect those vulnerable persons who are drawn into this life.
    This is an approach that has been taken in other jurisdictions. We have looked, in particular, at many of the Nordic countries. Interestingly, other countries, including France and parts of the United States, are pursuing this ongoing social problem, as he said, in a similar fashion.
    We obviously expect that there will be challenges. There will be opportunities for the courts to interpret this legislation, as they have. We are, in fact, responding to the Supreme Court decision.
    To those who suggest that we should go back to the courts in a proactive way and somehow consult them again, I would suggest that it would leave people more vulnerable, in the void and absence of a Criminal Code section that would protect people. That would take time and it would only result in further advice that we have already received from the court in the Bedford decision.
    Mr. Speaker, the tone coming from the opposite side of the House is deeply disturbing. MPs are raising legitimate issues with regard to the time allocation on Bill C-36. The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands posed a question to the minister, but the minister failed to respond directly to the request from the MP for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    The minister continues to cite that the Department of Justice has reviewed the current legislation and continues to assure the House that it is constitutional. Once again I ask the minister if he will table the opinion of the Department of Justice on the constitutionality of this bill, given the number of people who have raised very serious concerns that this bill may well face another court challenge?
    I have answered that question repeatedly, Mr. Speaker, both here and in committee. The reality is that we receive advice from the Department of Justice on the constitutionality and charter compliance of every bill. This is done routinely.
    We receive advice across departments with regard to the constitutionality of legislation. It is a routine procedure. We have very capable lawyers within the Department of Justice, and I am surprised that members opposite are in essence casting aspersions on that advice and suggesting that somehow we as a government would misinterpret that advice or would somehow obscure the advice that we are getting.
    The members opposite continue to shout. It is fine for them to insult the government or insult me in their questions; I accept that. It is part of the exchange. They are continuing to chirp away. That is fine. They are perfectly within their right in doing so, but this is really a serious debate. They should focus on serious questions and serious issues that matter to Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, the reason that the members on this side of the House continue to seek legal opinions is that there is a glaring inconsistency between what the minister says about the constitutionality of the bill and what was said by virtually all other legal witnesses who testified at committee. It seems as though the only ones that hold a view consistent with the minister's are those on the payroll of the Department of Justice, yet we are not allowed to see their opinions.
    My question relates to the $175,000 Ipsos Reid survey that was withheld from the justice committee. Given that parliamentarians have never heard a witness testify with respect to this poll, because it was withheld, and given that officials within the minister's department said that the poll contained useful information in crafting the bill, does the minister think it is fair to limit debate in the House to two more days when we have a piece of useful information that has never been examined by the committee?

  (1040)  

    Mr. Speaker, that is just factually incorrect, again, from the member for Charlottetown. That poll was released, in fact, and that information was made available at the statutory release time. I know the member may not want to accept that, but those are the rules that were in place when his party was in government and those are the rules that we respect with the release of public data information.
    The information has been released, it is in the public realm, it was available to members of the committee to examine, and it was but part of the information that we relied on. The polling data information, in fact, contained far more than just specific information. In included public consultation on the subject of prostitution in the Bedford decision. It went across an array of other subject matter.
    For the member opposite to try to leave the impression that the information was withheld, that it was not examined by members of the committee is just untrue.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to use an analogy. During the Crimean War, there was a cavalry charge called the charge of the light brigade. It was a beautiful charge. Never had anyone seen such excellent horsemen charge so quickly. It was an exemplary deployment. Unfortunately, the Russians were ready for the English, who were slaughtered.
    That is basically what we have here. The bill's intent—to protect people from crime, abuse and human trafficking—may be laudable, but unfortunately, as soon as it enters into force, it will be challenged, and probably successfully. That is the problem. I am afraid that if the government cuts off debate once again, objective criticism will not be heard and the legislation will be headed towards defeat once again. Unfortunately, this defeat means that the people we want to protect will not be protected. That is probably this bill's main weakness.
    The hon. Minister of Justice has one minute to reply.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker,
    

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward

    I know what the member is trying to do in drawing this analogy, but the truth is that the bill has been examined. It has been before committee, both in the House and the Senate. It has received constitutional examination. We have the wisdom of the court in the Bedford decision. We had 3,100 participants in an online consultation. We heard from some 90 experts with respect to the bill itself. I took part in round tables at which I heard directly from individuals. We have had the benefit of debate in the House.
    Therefore, I am surprised by members opposite suggesting that we should continually abdicate our responsibility and go back to the courts again. They would have us refer another question to the courts rather than to the duly elected, democratically elected body that is obligated to properly examine legislation and make good decisions.
    We are not going to simply defer that responsibility to the courts. We are going to proceed with thoughtful, productive legislation. That is what we have before the Parliament of Canada today.

[Translation]

    Order. It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

[English]

     The question is on the motion.
     Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Deputy Speaker: Call in the members.

  (1125)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 233)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Aspin
Barlow
Bateman
Benoit
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Falk
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Holder
James
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Saxton
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Uppal
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 140

NAYS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Andrews
Angus
Atamanenko
Aubin
Ayala
Bélanger
Bellavance
Benskin
Bevington
Blanchette
Boivin
Borg
Boulerice
Brahmi
Brison
Brosseau
Caron
Casey
Cash
Chan
Charlton
Chicoine
Chisholm
Choquette
Christopherson
Cleary
Côté
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Dubourg
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Easter
Fortin
Freeland
Freeman
Fry
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goodale
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hsu
Jacob
Jones
Julian
Kellway
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Latendresse
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
MacAulay
Mai
Marston
Masse
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mulcair
Murray
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Papillon
Patry
Péclet
Pilon
Quach
Rafferty
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Rousseau
Saganash
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Toone
Turmel
Valeriote
Vaughan

Total: -- 108

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

[Translation]

Energy Safety and Security Act

Bill C-22--Time Allocation Motion  

    That, in relation to Bill C-22, An Act respecting Canada's offshore oil and gas operations, enacting the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act, repealing the Nuclear Liability Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill; and
    That 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government orders on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

[English]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. I invite all hon. members who wish to ask questions to please rise in their places so that I can determine how many questions we may have.
    The hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.
    Mr. Speaker, this is now the 77th time in this Parliament that the Conservative government is shutting down debate on one of the most important pieces of legislation for Canadian taxpayers, for Canadian citizens, in the House.
    Bill C-22 is a bill that deals with nuclear liability and liability in the case of offshore oil and gas accidents. At stake here is whether Canadian citizens ought to be on the hook for the cleanup of accidents, either in the offshore oil and gas industry or with respect to nuclear accidents. We know that in Fukushima it will cost $250 billion to $500 billion to clean up after that nuclear accident. However, here in this bill, the government is proposing that companies be on the hook for only $1 billion, meaning that taxpayers would be on the hook for the rest.
    This is a fundamentally important bill that goes to the very heart of the polluter pays principle. However, we find that the Conservatives, clearly not very proud of their approach on this, want to shut down debate and want to make it impossible for us to take those views into account to produce a piece of legislation that actually protects Canadian citizens and our environment.
     The irony here is that in no other bill has it ever been this apparent that the Conservatives only shut down debate when people disagree with them. There was no closure motion and there was no time allocation at second reading when we indicated that we would support the bill being sent to committee so that we could improve it and bring it up to international standards. At that point, they were fine with the debate, as long as we all said we were supportive of the bill. However, at third reading, we made it very clear that the bill, even after being amended in committee, fell far short of what Canadians deserve, and now the Conservatives are trying to shut down debate.
    It is absolutely outrageous. I want the minister to stand up and agree today to give us the debate that Canadians deserve so that we can enact the polluter pays principle effectively.

  (1130)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity and the question from the member, who is the critic for natural resources. It is nice to be debating something in natural resources with her.
    In the spirit of consensus, we have some agreement on a couple of key points. The government agrees that this is a critical and very important piece of legislation with respect to offshore safety and liability, as well with respect to nuclear liability. Furthermore, time allocation has given us an opportunity and in fact it is in place to ensure that adequate time is allocated for further debate and consideration of the bill. Therefore, we are moving toward some agreement on this.
    I would make the observation that all of our regimes with respect to nuclear, offshore, rail, pipeline, and marine safety have some important alignments, particularly with respect to the principle of polluter pays.
     On the more specific point of nuclear liability, I would just point out to my colleague that the current stage of the legislation is unacceptable. It is time for change. This was set in 1976 and has never changed. This piece of legislation and its amendments take into consideration, among other things, an amount that is sufficient to deal with the consequences of controlled release, and for a reasonable and fair assessment of insurers' capacities in this regard.
    Mr. Speaker, once again I rise, and I have done so on dozens of occasions, in regard to time allocation. The Prime Minister and the majority Reform-Conservative government have been very abusive in terms of the way in which they pass legislation through the House of Commons.
    There are a couple of things I think Canadians should note about this majority mentality that the current government seems to have, and that is that it does not necessarily support debate inside the House of Commons. This is now the 75th time allocation motion, which is as bad as these massive budget bills where the Conservatives pack a bunch of other pieces of legislation within a budget bill, which is somewhat allocated in terms of time in and of itself in terms of its passage.
    From those massive budget bills to time allocation, the lack of respect the Prime Minister has for due process, for allowing members of Parliament to thoroughly debate all of the legislative and budget measures that happen here in Canada, is truly amazing. It is disrespectful.
    My question is for the government House leader as he is the one who has brought forward the motion that we are debating today.
    Why does the government feel that the only way it can pass its legislative agenda, unlike any other government in the history of our country, is to continue to rely on time allocation, preventing members of Parliament from fully engaging on what are important issues to all Canadians?

  (1135)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question and his important exercise in word count in this place. I would also point out that it is quite likely he is standing in a glass house when he talks about omnibus bills, but we will debate that at another time.
    I think what is important here is to understand that the purpose of time allocation is to ensure that adequate time is allocated for further debate and the consideration of a bill. It is a tool that creates certainty. The benefits include greater certainty for all members in organizing their affairs and business to accommodate votes. It also helps folks interested in this, from the media to citizens, to improve their ability to inform and be informed as the general public. Therefore, time allocation in this sense is really a scheduling device.
    On the importance of the debate within either time allocation or on this important piece of legislation, as I said earlier, we agree. This is an important bill that has gone through its due process. It needed to be updated and would now reflect an appropriate and responsible legislative framework for offshore and nuclear liability regimes. As well, it is an exercise to make this area consistent with other areas of liability, as I mentioned, pipeline safety, marine safety and the like.
    Mr. Speaker, in a previous answer, the minister talked about alignment when it comes to polluter pays. I wonder if he could speak to the proposed nuclear regime in Bill C-22 and how it aligns with that in other countries.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the very helpful and supportive parliamentary secretary, for her important work on this file in particular. She raised two points in her comments.
    I mentioned in previous responses the importance for consistency across all of our liability regimes for the purpose of protecting Canadians. This piece with respect to nuclear liability would put Canada's liability limit among the highest internationally. There is a mix among countries with respect to nuclear civil liability limits. The United Kingdom, France, Spain and other European nations are moving to an operator threshold of $1 billion and some non-European nations, for example, South Korea, South Africa and Argentina have lesser amounts.
     In addition to the alignment exercise here domestically, the $1 billion liability limit is consistent with countries around the world. They will be looking to Canada ultimately for its leadership on establishing, by legislation, a reasonable and acceptable threshold for liability that is anchored by the safety of Canadians and our communities.
    Mr. Speaker, what the minister said about the government shutting down debate on this incredibly important legislation would make George Orwell proud. We should be thankful that the government is shutting down debate because it brings certainty to the debate. We should be thankful that time allocation has been imposed for the 77th time by the government. Canadians should be thrilled by the democratic richness within the Conservative Party for giving them certainly over how little time we will talk about important legislation. We are not grateful, we are not thankful and it is not right.
    To prove that this process is wrong and anti-democratic, I will reference the Conservatives when they were in opposition. When the Liberals did the exact same thing, the Conservatives made the exact same call that the Liberals were being bullies and abusing Parliament. That is on the process, so it is hypocritical for Conservatives to now say this is a great tactic on the actual substance of what we are talking about.
    The New Democrats fully believe in the polluter pays principle. By the government setting a limited liability, it says that all damages from a nuclear accident above that limited liability would be picked up by the public. Other businesses do not enjoy such limited liability. This would become a subsidy to certain industries. They would only have to carry so much insurance because the rest of the cost would be picked up by the public, and the cost could be extreme, into tens of billions of dollars, as we saw with Fukushima.
    The minister is right in saying that this needed updating. That is absolutely true. However, why, when we only update this kind of legislation once in a generation, go to half measures? Why not bring in a bill that would establish a full polluter pays principle so Canadians would not be left on the hook for somebody else's misconduct that could cost billions upon billions of dollars?
    For the member to suggest that we should all be thankful that the government has shut down debate is bulldozer politics from the Conservatives. It does not work when it comes to this. It does not work when it comes to pipelines. Canadians will reject this come 2015.

  (1140)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is always at his best when he keeps some of the more aggressive words and tones out of the debate with me personally, but notwithstanding that, there is some substance to his question and it merits further discussion.
    The liability regime has two important aspects. Fault and negligence still have an unlimited liability component, and that is important.
    With respect to unlimited liability of the operator as is done in other countries, this has been done not necessarily with success. The practice of the capacity for operators to compensate for damages is somewhat limited.
    We have gone to great lengths in crafting and establishing a threshold that reflects a modern reality and reasoned threshold. We all agree that Canada is in need of dramatic change in terms of its monetary value, maintain a fault to negligence regime for liability that is unlimited and move to a threshold that based on facts and experiences around the world would be reasonable and achievable.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, although the environment is a pressing issue, the government has not proven to be responsible in this area as it shirked its responsibilities at the UN climate summit.
    When it comes to the environment, the government is shirking its responsibilities, and I would like to understand its logic.
    This week, once again, the government did not take responsibility with regard to the moratorium on Cacouna and protecting the St. Lawrence River. It should at least be able to conduct scientific studies.
    What is the logic of the government, which is shirking its environmental responsibilities and trying to change the rules this morning by putting an end to debate?
    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that there is any logic to that question.

  (1145)  

[English]

    In addition, I am not sure there was anything in that question pertinent to either time allocation or the substantive dimensions of what is contained in the bill.
    Notwithstanding that, it is important then to make the point that this is an opportunity for us all to move forward on legislation with respect to offshore nuclear liability that is modernized. We have some agreement there. It also reflects appropriate responsible thresholds for the offshore and nuclear sectors.
    Mr. Speaker, as has been underlined, this is the 77th time now that the government has moved time allocation, in effect limiting debate on incredibly important issues about which the public is very concerned.
    When we talk about the nuclear liability component of the bill and the minister's claim that it is modernized, to a certain extent it is I suppose. When we start with a liability component that has not been updated in something like 40 years, anything is an improvement to that. However, does it hit the mark? Absolutely not.
    In Toronto, for example, my riding has a nuclear fuel facility that most of the residents who live near it had no idea was there. The reason I bring this up is because it speaks to transparency and the openness and willingness to engage the public in these important public safety, public policy debates. That is what we are supposed to do in this place and that is why we reject the continual use of time allocation to limit debate on these incredibly important issues.
    I would ask the minister to respond to the thousands of people in my community in Toronto who were shut out of the process around the Line 9 pipeline consultation. They did not know there was a nuclear fuel facility in their community. How does all that square with a government that does not want to fully debates these issues? There is a pattern here and I would like the minister to speak to that pattern.
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to that pattern. It sounds like that party has a member of Parliament who is not engaged with its issues and, furthermore, that he may lack a basic understanding of provincial and federal jurisdictions with respect to these.
     There are 19 commercial power reactors in Canada, some of them located in a higher concentration in Ontario. Part of his question would be well-suited for our provincial counterparts. I am sure they would be happy to respond to some of that awareness piece, and I am sure he could facilitate a round table with his constituents who are focused like a laser on these issues.
    However, we do agree on something. Because I am a consensus builder, I look thematically from each and every question where we agree. We seem to share one prevailing important piece, and that is the profile, the exercise of building public confidence is tremendously important. It means, particularly where it is relevant to his particular riding, assuring Canadians that the government is taking the right steps forward with legislation that reflects a modern regime for liability and for safety, in the case of offshore nuclear, for the purposes of this debate, and a whole host of other legislation around pipeline safety, marine safety and the like. We see the alignment, see how it is world-leading in many element's and celebrate that.
    If there are more focused group discussions from his region and they are relevant for a debate in the context of this chamber, being the federal government, I would be happy to talk about those.

  (1150)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to ask the minister a question.
    I believe the opposition has left out a lot of facts and a lot of significant points in the debate today. We are talking about liability and risks, and one of the risks is nuclear.
    There are some vast differences between Fukushima and the reactors we have in Canada. We have CANDU reactors here that are heavy water reactors. Japan was using light water reactors that used enriched uranium.
    Then, if we look at the geography of the location of reactors, and let us talk about Ontario specifically, they are all on the Great Lakes, where there is no high risk for tsunamis or earthquakes. If we take a look at Fukushima, it is right on the ocean, right in a fault line.
    Also, the design of the safety components for the reactors at Fukushima and the CANDU reactors are vastly different
    When we talk about liability, we talk about insurance, and we have to face the facts and the risks. They have been working on this for years. They have it right. Would the minister expand on this?
    Mr. Speaker, that sounds like a member of Parliament who is not just focused and disciplined on becoming a subject matter expert on key components of this, but who has also engaged his community, or his communities, with some deference to what that means to his constituents.
    He was right to point out Fukushima as a template for some of the discussion in terms of the elements of this legislation.
    A post-Fukushima review by a task force created by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission confirmed in October 2011 that Canadian plants were robust, had a strong design relying upon multiple layers of defence, safety measures were being augmented based upon the review to further reduce the likelihood of an incident from external events and to increase the effectiveness of emergency management measurements.
    I agree with the member that the NDP is on a pretty consistent fact-free diet when we put these debates out on the floor. However, those important facts suggest to me that not only is this legislation important, responsible and reflects the modern reality of nuclear energy in Canada and around the world, but it has been done very thoughtfully in a scientific factual basis that respects and understands the state of nuclear energy in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, a short while ago, the minister suggested that I did not quite have my facts right and he said that the NDP were on a fact-free diet. The fact is that nuclear fuel facilities are a federally regulated sector.
    I would invite the minister to come to a town hall meeting in my riding. In fact, I did have a town hall meeting in my riding and I asked your predecessor to come and he chose not to. I welcome you. I think you have opened your arms—
    The member has been here long enough to know to direct the questions and comments to the Chair and not to individual members in the House.
    Mr. Speaker, my apologies. I would just like to ask the minister if he will come to Toronto to a public meeting on nuclear fuel safety and pipeline safety. He would be most welcome, and he would probably meet a lot of people that he has not had the pleasure of encountering before.
    Mr. Speaker, the member does not get to get me on that one. Obviously, we are well aware of the federal government's responsibility with respect to nuclear liability in the sector as a whole. I can assure him of that.
    His question earlier, if he reflected on it, dealt with the operations of some specific plants and what impacts they may have in his community. I simply encouraged him to engage his constituents more meaningfully. I am happy to receive reports and correspondence from him in those regards.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to at least commend the Minister of Natural Resources for conducting himself in a dignified manner so far, unlike the Minister of Justice earlier today.
    The minister is right to point out that there are points of agreement—or consensus, in his terms—and that those are around the very critically important nature of this legislation and the fact that the legislation needs updating.
    Beyond that, what I am detecting very clearly in the course of this discussion over the 77th effort by the government to invoke time allocation in the House is some very substantive debate over the terms of the legislation. However, it is the points of disagreement that are emerging from this debate over time allocation that weigh against the minister's arguments in favour of time allocation today.
    I would ask him to please tell the House if he, as a consensus seeker, agrees with me that this is in fact a substantive debate about the legislation that we are engaged in here and now in the House. Would he agree that the nature of this substantive disagreement over the terms of the legislation suggest that he should change his mind and withdraw the motion for time allocation on this bill?

  (1155)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his question, for the nature of our fairly regular conversations on a number of issues, and for the candour and thoughtfulness with which he puts questions to me. I hope my responses live up to that standard.
    I can say that we also deal with continual attempts by the opposition to delay and obstruct certain bills, this one in particular. Further to his more substantive question, beyond time allocation but sort of addressing it, I can tell him that as he will well know, this bill was studied at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources for an amount of time that was agreed to by all members. Furthermore, I would suggest to the member that if he reflected on the testimony contained in those processes, he would see that there was input from a broad group of witnesses, including department officials, industry, and environmental groups, including testimony from Greenpeace and Ecojustice.
    In particular, the nuclear portion of this bill has been studied extensively in past Parliaments. That should not get in the way of an absolutely modern, up-to-the-minute debate about this issue, and that debate has taken place quite recently. It is time to move forward with this modern piece of legislation.
    I understand that there is some irritation coming from the government side. The round of questions for this type of motion gives an absolute priority to the opposition parties, but there have been two questions that I allocated to the government side.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Sherbrooke.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it seems our colleague is having some difficulty understanding the concept of parliamentary debate. He seems to think that we are trying to delay the bill just because we want to debate it. All we want is to hold a democratic debate in this institution since that is its reason for being. The fact that the opposition wants to debate a bill does not necessarily mean that it wants to further delay it. We simply want to do our job here in the House.
    If I am not mistaken, like me, my colleague was not a member of Parliament before 2006. At that time, his government, which was then in opposition, was strongly opposed to this type of time allocation motion, and Conservative members rose to speak out against them.
    What has changed since 2006?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I can let the member know that I have been here since 2008, have sat on several standing committees, and have participated at great length on a number of matters here in this place. It is a source of pride for me that I understand and put great emphasis on what parliamentary debate means, so I will take no lessons from him on that.

[Translation]

    However, I can say that Canadians gave our government the mandate to focus on job creation and economic growth. They expect our government to make decisions that are in line with its commitments, and that is what the government is doing with this bill.

  (1200)  

    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

[English]

     The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion, the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Deputy Speaker: Call in the members.

  (1240)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 234)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Aspin
Barlow
Bateman
Benoit
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Falk
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Holder
James
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKenzie
Maguire
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Saxton
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Sopuck
Sorenson
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Uppal
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 137

NAYS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Andrews
Angus
Aubin
Ayala
Bélanger
Benskin
Bevington
Blanchette
Boivin
Borg
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Brison
Brosseau
Caron
Casey
Chan
Charlton
Chicoine
Chisholm
Choquette
Christopherson
Cleary
Côté
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Dubourg
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Easter
Fortin
Freeland
Freeman
Fry
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goodale
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hsu
Jacob
Jones
Julian
Kellway
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Latendresse
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
MacAulay
Mai
Marston
Masse
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mulcair
Murray
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Papillon
Patry
Péclet
Pilon
Quach
Rafferty
Rankin
Rathgeber
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Rousseau
Saganash
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sellah
Sgro
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Toone
Turmel
Valeriote
Vaughan

Total: -- 110

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

    The House resumed from September 24 consideration of the motion that Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, today, it is my great pleasure to address this House about the benefits of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. Specifically, I would like to highlight how this agreement would benefit every single region of this country, thereby increasing prosperity for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    It is also my pleasure to share my time with the member for Calgary Northeast.
    I would first like to emphasize that our government is focused on what matters to Canadians: jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement, Canada's first agreement with an Asian market, would create thousands of new jobs in Canada and would provide Canadian business and workers with a gateway to Asia, enhancing our global competitiveness.
    South Korea is Canada's seventh-largest trading partner. It is the world's 15th-largest economy. It is a priority market under our government's global market action plan.
    In 2013 alone, Canada's South Korea two-way merchandise trade reached over $10.8 billion. Moreover, South Korea is a gateway to the vibrant Asia-Pacific region. As the fourth-largest economy in Asia, with a sophisticated market, it offers strategic access to a regional and global value chain that has become increasingly important for business to succeed.
    Unfortunately, Canadian businesses are currently at a disadvantage in this very key Asian market compared to their main competitors in the U.S. and Europe. As a result of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and the Korea-EU free trade agreement, which came into effect in 2012 and 2011 respectively, Canadian companies have in fact been losing ground to U.S. and EU companies that are already benefiting from their preferential access to the South Korean market.
    In order to restore a level playing field for Canadian business, Canadian officials have worked tirelessly to negotiate the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, which is a state-of-the-art, ambitious, and comprehensive agreement that covers virtually every facet of modern commerce.
    It is only this Conservative government that can deliver an agreement like this to Canadians. Every Canadian knows that the NDP have systematically and consistently voted against trade. This, in the face of the fact that it is clear that trade creates jobs, economic growth, and economic security for hard-working Canadian families.
    Even worse is the shameful record the Liberals have on neglecting trade. The Liberals took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets.
    Canadians remember the last time the Liberals tried to talk seriously about trade. That was when they campaigned to rip up the North American free trade agreement.
    At the core of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement is the elimination of tariffs on virtually all trade between Canada and South Korea. Immediately upon implementation, over 88% of Canada's current exports would be duty-free. Once the agreement is fully implemented, South Korea would remove duties on 100% of non-agricultural exports and 97% of agricultural exports.
    This is a fantastic outcome for Canadians, especially given that Korea's current tariffs are, on average, three times higher.
    I would now like to turn to key sectors and substantial regional benefits of the agreement. We have ensured that each region has something to gain from early implementation of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.
    Let me start with agriculture and agri-food products, which have been heavily protected in South Korea. Once the agreement is fully implemented, tariffs would be eliminated on 97% of Canada's agricultural exports. This includes strong outcomes for key product groups such as beef, pork, canola oil, barley malt, pulses, animal feeds, fur skins, soya beans, fruit and vegetables, and many processed foods.

  (1245)  

    This is good news for farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers across Canada, including the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, as their products would become more competitive in the rapidly growing South Korean market. In the Prairies, for example, the agricultural and agri-food sector is a key driver of economic activity. Saskatchewan, Alberta, and my home province of Manitoba stand to benefit especially from enhanced market access for products such as beef, pork, grain, oilseeds, pulses, canola oil, barley malt, and forages.
    I am happy to report that Canada also achieved an ambitious outcome for fish and seafood products. South Korea would eliminate all of its tariffs on Canadian fish and seafood products, some immediately. The overall outcome for fish and seafood companies compares favourably with KORUS, including lobster, which is Canada's top export in this sector along with hagfish, halibut, and certain Pacific salmon.
    The list continues. With regard to forestry and value-added wood products, South Korea would eventually eliminate all of its tariffs on Canadian exports including softwood and hardwood lumber, particle board, and many others. Some 85% of Canadian exports would be duty-free upon entry into force. These products are of particular export interest to British Columbia, the Prairies, and Quebec. Through the elimination of tariffs, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would provide improved access and new opportunities in the South Korean market.
    For other industrial goods, which include aerospace, autos and auto products, rail, information technology, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, to name a few, over 96% of Canadian exports would be duty free immediately. That is 96%. Also, 99% would be duty-free within five years and the remaining 1% would be covered off in 10 years.
    Manufacturers from Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and the Prairies are expected to enjoy notable benefits in this regard. For example in Quebec alone, some 295,000 hard-working Quebecers and their families depend on the industrial goods sector for their livelihood. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would bring additional opportunities for Quebec's industrial goods sectors such as aircraft parts, cosmetics, and metals.
    The benefits do not stop here. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would also achieve strong outcomes in services, business mobility, investment, and government procurement, all of which are on par or better than what was achieved with South Korea in either the U.S. or the EU agreement.
    The agreement would provide enhanced market access for Canadian service providers in such areas as the professional environment and business services. With regard to business mobility, Canada obtained the most ambitious provisions from South Korea in any of its free trade agreements, which would allow for freer movement of highly skilled professionals between the two countries by providing Canadian professionals with preferential access to the South Korean market. As a chartered accountant, soon to become a CPA, I think it is important to note that in my profession alone there are almost 190,000 CPAs who would now have access to this bigger market.
    In addition, the investment chapter, which includes extensive protection for investors, would provide a more transparent and predictable framework of rules. The investment chapter would facilitate the continuation of South Korean foreign direct investment into Canada's provinces and territories, including in the energy sectors, thereby contributing to their continued growth.
    In conclusion, this free trade agreement with Korea would enhance market access and level the playing field for Canada vis-à-vis its competitors across the board, benefiting Canadians in every province and every territory. This would lead to more Canadian exports, more jobs for Canadian families, and more prosperity for our economy and for our children.
    Stakeholders have given us clear signals that early entry into force of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement is vital to ensuring Canada's competitive position in South Korea. This desire to have the agreement enter into force as quickly as possible has been echoed by many key industry stakeholders.
    Our government is moving quickly to answer the call of Canadian business and workers. We are here to create jobs, to create growth, and to achieve long-term prosperity for all our children.

  (1250)  

    Before we go to questions and comments, I see the hon. member for Vancouver East is rising.
    Mr. Speaker, my apologies to the member who just spoke for interjecting just before the questions and comments.
    However, I want to rise on a brief point of order and let the House know that when we were debating the topic of the missing and murdered indigenous women on Friday, September 19, I noted in my comments that I met with the Minister of Justice in 1999. In actual fact, I was in error of the year. I did meet with the Minister of Justice, but I believe the year was 2002. I have tried to go back and look but it is hard to find a calendar from that year. However, I did want to correct this in the record because it was not in 1999, but a bit later and I believe it was 2002. I just want to note that for the record.
    I thank the hon. member for Vancouver East, and in particular, for bringing this to the attention of the House in short order relative to when the comments were offered.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Alfred-Pellan.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague opposite for her speech on Bill C-41, an act to implement the free trade agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea.
    The NDP takes the time to properly examine every free trade agreement proposed. We use very specific criteria to determine whether a free trade agreement is satisfactory or not. The NDP will support Bill C-41 on the free trade agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea at second reading.
    There are certain criteria that we are feel are important when examining such agreements. The first is whether the proposed trade partner respects democracy, human rights, adequate environmental and labour standards and Canadian values.
    Next, we want to know whether the proposed partner's economy is of significant or strategic value to Canada and whether the terms of the proposed agreement are satisfactory.
    Since this free trade agreement meets these criteria, or at least appears to, we are going to support this bill at second reading.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. NDP member for her remarks.
    I am pleased for all Canadians that the NDP decided to support this agreement. It is a very important agreement for the future, for job creation, for economic growth and for long-term prosperity.
    I am quite impressed that the NDP decided to support our bill.

  (1255)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, British Columbia, my home province, is closer to Korea than any other part of Canada. We have many people who have immigrated and are now proudly Canadian. In my own riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla, we have cherries, we have wine and we have many other agri-foods that could go to Korea. When I say that my constituents are very happy to see this particular free trade agreement, I hear massive support in my riding for it.
    I do know that in the member's previous life she was a business professional. This agreement, because it is a modern free trade agreement, allows for professionals from Canada to go and do business in Korea and offer their services there. Does the member think there are many opportunities for other business professionals to be able to reach out and compete globally in places like Korea?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. This free trade agreement links us to the 15th-largest economy. It links Canada to a world of opportunity.
    Jayson Myers, the president and CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Association said, “Asia's rich markets are the next frontier for Canada in our quest to...eliminate tariffs and non-trade barriers to trade investment”.
    He talked about elimination of tariffs and non-trade barriers. I just want to commend the work of the hon. parliamentary secretary in his efforts to break down internal barriers for the wonderful Okanagan wineries in his riding. With his work and through his efforts, we will not only benefit in selling that great wine to the Korean market and other international markets, but also in selling it to internal markets in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a comment, then a question. First, New Democrats will be supporting this trade deal. The way we look at all trade proposals is based on some fundamental principles. One of those principles is about reciprocity. For example, is there built within the trade deal a reciprocal agreement with the country we will be trading with? Unlike the China investor protection agreement, which is not reciprocal in its nature and takes 31 years to get out of the agreement, this has other provisions that give us greater assurance that the deal would be fair for Canadians.
    My question is this. Obviously, for certain sectors in any trade deal there are potential winners and potential industries that would be hurt. The winners seem clear. They are agriculture, forestry and fishing products. As a representative from northern British Columbia, those are important. However, there has been concern raised about the auto sector.
    Already, Korean auto manufacturing is coming into Canada through the United States and Mexico, with new plant builds planned there for Korean automakers. Does my hon. colleague know of any efforts by the Canadian government to encourage or ensure that Korean automakers are also planning to set up new shops in the Canadian market, so that we can have those value-added jobs created here in Canada as a potential result of this trade deal?
    Mr. Speaker, I truly do support my hon. colleague opposite and the NDP's support for the bill because it is these kinds of free trade agreements that are going to make an enormous difference for the prosperity of our children, our communities and Canadian workers or business people. It is so important that we support this.
    We have to level the playing field, because we have to catch up in this very important Asian market.
    The reciprocity the member referred to is absolutely entrenched in the bill. I specifically compliment the officials who worked with the government on this incredible trade opportunity. This is state of the art. It is a very ambitious and comprehensive agreement and there is reciprocity in every facet. This is about modern commerce.

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government understands the importance of trade to our economy. We know that trade is responsible for one out of every five jobs in Canada and accounts for 64% of our country's annual income.
    Trade is the cornerstone of the Canadian economy, and Canada's prosperity requires expansion beyond our borders and into new markets for economic opportunities that grow Canada's exports and investments. This is why our Conservative government is delivering on its commitment in the Speech from the Throne to expand trade with Asia.
     I am pleased to speak today on the importance of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, or CKFTA. This landmark achievement, Canada's first free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region, is a game changer. It will provide new access for Canadian businesses and workers to South Korea, which is the fourth largest economy in Asia with an annual GDP of $1.3 trillion and a high-growth market of 50 million potential customers.
    South Korea is a major economic player in its own right and a key market for Canada. It is Canada's seventh largest overall merchandise trading partner, and third largest in Asia after China and Japan. Two-way trade between Canada and South Korea totalled more than $10.8 billion in 2013.
    Canadians recognize Asia's growing economic strength and believe that closer economic ties with Asia are necessary for Canada's future prosperity. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is projected to add thousands of Canadian jobs to the economy, increase Canadian exports to South Korea by 32% and boost Canada's economy by $1.7 billion.
    South Korea also serves as a gateway for Canadian businesses and workers to the Asia-Pacific region. As a result of this agreement, Canadian companies will be able to use South Korea as a key base for expanding their presence in Asia and to access its regional and global supply chains. This Canada-Korea free trade agreement creates a mechanism to increase the already substantial people-to-people connections shared by South Koreans and Canadians.
    I would like to discuss in some detail the concrete and real benefits that will be available to Canadian businesses, from coast to coast to coast, after the implementation of this agreement. Unlike the NDP who loves to oppose our trade agreements, our Conservative government recognizes that protectionist restrictions stifle our exporters and undermine Canada's competitiveness, which in turn adversely affects middle-class Canadian families.
    The CKFTA will cover virtually all aspects of commercial activities between Canada and South Korea, including trade in goods and services, investment, government procurement, non-tariff barriers, environment and labour co-operation, and other areas of economic activity. The agreement increases potential market access for Canadian exporters and investors from every province and territory, and it would remove non-tariff barriers that hinder trade.
    Additionally, under this agreement, Canada has secured greater opportunities related to temporary entry for business persons than those enjoyed by South Korea's other free trade agreement partners. This will provide an advantage to Canadian business persons needing to move between the two countries to conduct business.
    Investment is a key component of the bilateral economic relationship between Canada and South Korea. It is an area that has great potential for growth, which is assisted by the increased certainty and transparency created by the CKFTA. Canada will be able to attract more investments, such as the 2013 opening of Samsung's first Canadian research and development centre in Vancouver, which focuses on the development of Samsung's enterprise security solutions and provides technical support for the company's diverse customer base. This centre already employs 60 people and more employment is expected.
    There will also be many exciting opportunities in agriculture, fish and seafood, forestry products and the industrial goods sector. South Korea imports 70% of its food, representing a $20 billion market per year. However, Canadian agricultural exports to South Korea currently face high tariffs, which average over 50%. This places Canadian exporters at a serious disadvantage with their competitors, notably the United States, when trying to access the lucrative South Korean market.

  (1305)  

    With this agreement, Canadian businesses like Conestoga Meat Packers, a co-operative of 150 southern Ontario family farmers who have been producing premium-quality fresh pork for more than 30 years, will have the opportunity to be on equal footing with their competitors in the South Korean market. The elimination of tariffs on fresh, chilled, and frozen pork will give companies like Conestoga the opportunity for continued company growth, an integral component of their business plans. The CKFTA would provide Prince Edward Island-based Cavendish Farms with a golden opportunity to grow their presence in the South Korean market and to expand in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.
    While current South Korean duties range from 18% to a staggering 304% for potato products, the CKFTA would provide tariff elimination on most potato products, thereby helping to level the playing field with South Korea's other FTA partners. This means jobs and opportunities for Canadians.
    On fish and seafood products, which are the economic mainstay of approximately 1,500 communities in rural and coastal Canada, the CKFTA contains an ambitious outcome that would eliminate 100% of South Korean tariffs once the agreement is fully implemented. Companies like Nova Scotia-based Clearwater Seafoods, North America's largest vertically integrated harvester, processor, and distributor of premium shellfish, will benefit from this strong CKFTA outcome.
    In fact, we are already getting a taste of what increased seafood trade with South Korea will look like. Shortly after the announcement of the conclusion of negotiations on the CKFTA, Korean Air Cargo launched weekly service to South Korea from Halifax and is expected to transport a minimum of 40,000 kilograms of live lobster over the course of the summer. This would benefit Atlantic Canadians, as it would help to develop the South Korean market for fresh Canadian lobsters and provide a gateway for exports to other Asian markets.
    South Korea imports $500 billion worth of industrial goods every year, including aerospace products. Canada's aerospace industry, which consistently ranks as one of Canada's top manufacturing sectors, will benefit from the immediate elimination of tariffs on turbo propellers, turbojet and propeller parts, and ground-flying training equipment. Tariffs on all aerospace goods would be eliminated upon implementation.
    For Montreal-based CAE, a global leader in modelling, simulation, and training for civil aviation and defence, this agreement is very welcome news. CAE employs approximately 8,000 people in close to 30 countries and offers civil aviation and military and helicopter training services worldwide, including in South Korea. CAE is a prime example of Canadian companies that have recognized the value of South Korea as a regional base to serve clients in the Asian market. This type of investment would only increase once the CKFTA is implemented.
    As we can see, the benefits to Canada and Canadians from this agreement are robust, multi-sectoral, and significant. Being well positioned in the Asia-Pacific region is critical to Canada's prosperity, and this agreement is a major step in realizing the untapped potential in Asia.
    Of course, it is shameful that this past summer the NDP trade critic protested alongside well-known radical anti-trade activists, such as The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, at an anti-trade protest. Despite all the evidence that trade creates jobs, economic growth, and economic security for hard-working Canadian families, the NDP, together with its professional activist group allies, is ideologically opposed to trade.
    Just as bad are the Liberals, who, during their 13 long years in government, completely neglected trade and completed only three free trade agreements, compared to our 43 free trade agreements. The Liberals took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets.

  (1310)  

    To close, I am happy to hear that both parties have now decided to support this bill. I am very optimistic that they have learned from the past and that they will continue to support our trade agenda.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House we do our homework for every free trade agreement. We studied this agreement with South Korea and we decided to support it even though the agreement is not perfect. We believe it can produce rather significant economic spinoffs for Canada.
    However, the Conservative government negotiates free trade agreements with all sorts of countries, including undemocratic ones such as Honduras, where journalists and workers are murdered. In committee, witnesses told us that the free trade agreement with Honduras would only make matters worse when it comes to the serious human rights problems in that undemocratic country.
    Is there a country the Conservatives do not want to negotiate a free trade agreement with? What are the criteria? Will they do their homework next time?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is on record that the NDP has a long, very proud history of being anti-trade. Some people call it the “no development party”.
    I understand why the New Democrats find it difficult to find points to criticize in this free trade agreement. We, the Conservative Party of Canada, know that trade is good for Canadians and good for families. It creates jobs. It will bring prosperity, and prosperity tackles so many other problems.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the speech by my colleague from Calgary Northeast.
    He mentioned the urgent need to ratify the agreement, as did his colleague from Winnipeg South Centre. However, the need would not have been so urgent if the government had been more serious about the negotiations, instead of focusing on countries such as Honduras that have less strategic value. If the government had focused on this agreement, we probably could have signed it sooner and devoted the necessary resources to it. I am not the only one to say so. In fact, this was also mentioned in an internal memo at the international trade department.
    I would like to know what my colleague has to say about that. Why did the government spend so much time negotiating agreements with much less strategic value, as it did with Honduras and Panama, instead of devoting all its resources to more significant agreements such as the one with South Korea?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that ratifies what I said earlier about how it is very hard for the NDP to support a trade agreement.
    We can see from the comments that my colleague made how many heels the New Democrats are digging in, how deeply they are digging them, and how hard it is for them to come out and say that they are very proud to support trade.
    It is amazing.They talk about the criteria, and of course we have the criteria. This side of the House understands that we have to negotiate to the point to make sure that we get what is in the best interest of Canada, Canadian workers, Canadian businesses, and Canadian families. That is why negotiations were very important.
    We will not sign any agreement if it is not for a good cause and good for Canadians.

  (1315)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his speech and particularly for his last intervention, in which he talked about trade being good for all Canadians.
    Many people may not know that South Korea sells steel rebar, which is used to create buildings. Lowering tariffs would reduce housing costs for people in people in British Columbia, something that I am very supportive of.
    The member mentioned the Samsung centre and how it is looking to expand, hire more Canadians, and expand operations in British Columbia. These are great benefits.
    The NDP has this issue with countries like Honduras. However, in Okanagan—Coquihalla, we have cattle ranchers. Some operations are larger and some are smaller. When we have multiple markets, including larger markets like South Korea and smaller markets like Honduras, does it not make sense to the member that all Canadian producers, whether they are smaller operations or larger operations, should be able to find niche markets or large markets and get the best value and the best price?
    I ask the member if he could clarify whether my thinking is correct.
    Mr. Speaker, diversification is important. Smaller and bigger markets are both important, because they provide opportunities to all kinds of businesses, specifically small and medium-size enterprises, to open new gates—even floodgates, I would say.
    As I mentioned in my speech, tariffs on potatoes can be up to a staggering 304%. That tariff would be eliminated. Imagine the opportunities we Canadians and Canadian businesspeople could have in a market like South Korea, which is projected to increase exports by 32% and boost the Canadian economy by $1.7 billion annually.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. I will have the opportunity to speak at length about why the NDP believes, all things considered, that it can support this agreement with a democratic country whose economy has high standards. I am not saying that everything is perfect, because that is not the case. If the members on this side of the House had been at the negotiating table, we could have done things differently.
    Before I get into the compliments, I want to start with some criticism. Our colleagues opposite like claiming that they are the champions of all things trade. However, the data on this topic shows a different story. Since 2000, Canada's trade balance has experienced a sharp decline and it has been consistently declining since 2004. To be more specific, we went from 5.75% of the GDP to a deficit of 0.61% of the GDP. I do not understand how the government can seriously claim that it is effective and committed to trade when it gets such poor results for our exporters.
    I am getting off topic. Let me get back to Korea. I remind members that Canada is lagging behind compared to other countries and major economies in terms of trade with Asia Pacific countries, and in particular Korea. While Canadian companies had to wait for the never-ending negotiations to come to a close, the United States and the European Union had already signed free trade agreements with South Korea in 2012.
    Over these two years, our exporters lost 30% of their share of the South Korean market. What is worse is that the government dragged its feet and chose to sign bad agreements with trade partners that have questionable human rights records, such as Honduras, which we have already talked about. I am bringing this up today because this very issue came up in internal memos at the international trade department.
    It is rather absurd to see that the government insists on negotiating agreements that legitimize bad working-condition and human rights practices, when doing a better job with Korea would have helped our exporters much more quickly. Our exports to Honduras in 2013 were just over $43 million. With Korea, we are talking about $3 billion a year in potential exports.
    I have some serious questions about the government's priorities. Why wait 10 years to negotiate with South Korea? Why give priority to less developed economies and smaller trading partners?
    I have other questions as well. What did our exporters lose because of this delay? How many jobs could have been created or maintained? We will not get a trade policy that works and helps our economy, our companies and, especially, our workers by signing any old agreement and then bragging about how many of them there are afterwards. Instead, we should be signing good agreements and supporting our exporters.
    This government likes to paint the NDP as a party that is fundamentally against trade and supports blind protectionism. Therefore, I will once again try to explain to the Conservatives the criteria that the NDP has developed and that shape its position on international trade. Perhaps it will clarify things.
    Unlike the other major parties in the House, we carefully analyze each agreement, then we support or reject it based on its merit. The criteria we use are completely logical and legitimate and reflect our social responsibilities as a developed country.
    The first criterion concerns respect for democracy, human rights, environmental values and labour condition standards. Based on this criterion, South Korea has made significant progress since the dictatorship fell in 1987. It is now a democratic and multi-party political regime that supports freedom of expression in a relatively diverse society. In terms of labour standards, sweatshops are not common practice, far from it. Wages are adequate, and labour movements and unions are not openly suppressed or delegitimized.
    I believe that my colleague said it before me, but for information purposes, South Korea rates 15th on the United Nations human development index. Social programs are also being developed in South Korea, particularly access to post-secondary education and energy strategies, while corruption is at a minimum. Therefore, this agreement meets this first criterion, which covers human rights.
    Our second criterion relates to the overall economic and strategic value of this alliance for Canada. We could talk about this criterion in terms that the government could understand by looking at the Investment Canada Act, for instance. We are asking the same questions. Is this agreement in the best interests of Canada? However, instead of relying on the arbitrary opinion of just one minister, we are assessing and quantifying this criterion in light of the global economy and trade figures.

  (1320)  

    The answer to the question about the objective meaning of the partnership is clearly positive. South Korea is Canada's seventh largest partner and the third largest economy in the Asian market. Canada's trade exports with South Korea are essentially the same as those with France or with Germany. We are talking about $3.4 billion in 2013.
    In economic terms, this agreement could be fruitful for Canada, given that Korea is an attractive gateway to other Asian economies. In addition, our two economies are quite complementary, which means that not many of our industries will be in direct competition. That is an important point.
    In addition, virtually all the economic sectors in Canada welcome the agreement and will very likely derive substantial benefits from it. These sectors include the aerospace industry, the high tech sector, the shipping industry, the forestry sector, the mining sector, the agricultural sectors—namely the hog, beef, wine and grain industries—and the seafood industry. We therefore recognize that this agreement has strategic value and meets the second criterion.
    The final criterion relates to the practical terms of the agreement. We need to read an agreement before we can approve it. It is a signed contract between two nations. The details of the agreement are very important, and that is why it is inconceivable for us to support or reject an agreement without having even read it. We therefore took the time to read the terms of the trade agreement between Canada and South Korea.
    Are the specific terms of the agreement satisfactory? Will they be advantageous for Canada or not? As was mentioned earlier, the two countries will essentially be on equal footing thanks to our complementary economies and South Korea's improvements in the areas of human rights, environmental standards and treatment of workers.
    Speaking of workers, we are not the first country to sign a free-trade agreement with South Korea. Many countries have done so before us, including the United States. Earlier, I mentioned the fact that our economies complement one another and that work conditions are good. Many large union groups, such as the UFCW, have thrown their support behind the agreement between Korea and the United States because it has the potential to create thousands of jobs. What is more, those jobs will be local, well-paying jobs in sectors of the economy where the jobs are often unionized. They support the agreement between Canada and South Korea.
    To continue, I will now explain why this agreement meets our criteria and why we will be supporting it at second reading. For a while now, it has been recognized and often stated that Canada must diversify its trade partners and try to reduce the percentage of trade that it conducts with the United States and the European Union, its traditional partners.
    In light of that, it makes sense to strengthen ties with South Korea, which is our seventh-largest trading partner. In fact, when it comes to Asia, we need to be talking about the entire region, not just Korea. South Korea is our third-largest trading partner in Asia, and it is important to expand trade with the country. The NDP recognizes that increasing trade with Asia is a crucial step towards ensuring prosperity, economic growth and dependable jobs in Canada in the 21st century.
    Korea is also a gateway to the rest of the Asian market. Under this agreement our exporters will have more and better opportunities in the Asian market. This will be good for our economy and for diversifying Canada's international trade.
    Unlike other countries that Canada has signed agreements with despite the NDP's objections, such as Honduras, South Korea is a well-established, globally recognized democracy. Supporting a toxic, authoritarian regime that violates its citizens' rights is not even an issue in this case. In other words, this is exactly the kind of developed economy that we should be developing a deeper, more sustainable trade relationship with. It has high labour and human rights standards, and it is the kind of partner we should be looking for.
    When we trade with other nations, we have to think about the goods that will be traded, that will travel from one country to the other, but we also have to think about what we are supporting with that trade. In the case of Honduras, I spoke at length in the House about how the agreement would support a country that is heading the wrong way in terms of human rights, a country where, in most cases, workers struggle with terrible working conditions.
    Those concerns do not apply to Korea. Instead, this is a partner that shares our values of democracy and justice. By doing business with Korean companies, Canadian exporters will be working with partners who understand their obligations in terms of working conditions and how employees should be treated.
    Consider how easy it is for a Honduran company to lower its labour costs and provide a dangerous working environment for its employees. How can we ask Canadian companies to accept that a foreign competitor can be subject to domestic regulations that are so radically different from our own? With South Korea, our companies will be dealing with partners and competitors who are subject to very similar regulations and whose reality is the same.

  (1325)  

    That is really good, because even by purchasing Korean products here, our consumers will be giving their money to responsible businesses that have good practices.
    That is not the case in some other agreements. It is also important to remember the environmental aspect. Korea has high environmental standards and is a world leader in that regard. It leads the world in renewable energy and green technology, and it is in our interest to boost our trade with these sectors, which are so important for the future. The Koreans are offering us this opportunity, and it just seems logical to me that we should take it in order to increase the portion of our economy that depends on greener power. This will be quite a change from what we are doing now.
    We are definitely not the only ones who think this agreement could be good for the Canadian economy. A number of industry associations in sectors including aerospace, agriculture and agri-food, fish and seafood, chemicals, energy, forestry and financial services also think so.
    This agreement is good news for our agriculture sector, because it will enable our pork and beef producers not to expand their presence on Korean markets, but actually recover lost ground. For instance, Canadian beef exports to South Korea dropped from $96 million in 2011 to just $8 million in 2013. Canadian pork experts dropped from first place on the South Korean market to fourth place between 2011 and 2013. The free trade agreement with South Korea will eliminate nearly 87% of agricultural tariff lines and finally allow Canadian exporters to play on a level playing field.
    It is becoming increasingly urgent to conclude this agreement before Australia's trade deal with South Korea is implemented, because Australia is one of our major competitors in agriculture.
    As for seafood, fishers on both coasts will benefit. Current tariffs are 47%, and most of them will be eliminated. Fishers and processors on the west coast can barely keep up with their competitors in Alaska because of the trade agreement that already exists between the United States and Korea.
    Some 230,000 jobs in the country depend on forestry. It is also important to my riding, Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, where the sector has gone through some tough times. Canadian exporters currently face tariffs of 10%, which will disappear with the agreement.
    In light of all these facts, it seems that the free trade agreement with South Korea satisfies our three criteria. I am quite proud that we took the time to do this analysis instead of just sticking to a purely ideological approach like some parties that are prepared to sign any agreement no matter what or other parties that approve these agreements without even reading them. Only the NDP has a sensible, balanced approach to trade. We are the only ones who want to ensure that trade agreements with other countries will truly benefit Canadians.
    Now that I have gone over the positive aspects of the agreement, I want to be clear that it is not perfect. The agreement in its current form is not something we as a government would have signed. Let us talk about the automotive sector. There are some positive aspects, of course, such as the elimination of the 6.1% tariffs on imports and the 8% tariffs on exports. This will be good for consumers here, and also for our exports to Korea. Other positives include the rules of origin provisions that recognize Canadian-U.S. integrated products, which is vital to our manufacturers. The same goes for the accelerated dispute resolution mechanism, which will make it easier to lift non-tariff barriers.
    There are also some legitimate concerns about the automotive sector. That is why an NDP government would do everything in its power to allay those fears and mitigate the potential consequences by encouraging Korean automakers to set up plants here in Canada and helping Canadian automotive products access the Korean market more easily. We should monitor non-tariff barriers closely, act swiftly and effectively to resolve disputes, and conduct frequent trade missions to Korea. That is why I would like the government to explain how it plans to mitigate the consequences for the automotive sector, especially since the conditions it obtained are less favourable than what is in the American agreement.
    Yesterday, when we announced our support for this agreement, my colleague, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, clearly said what I mentioned earlier: this is not the agreement that we would have negotiated. The biggest problem with this agreement is obviously the investor state dispute resolution mechanism. An NDP government—just like the main opposition party in Korea—would not have included this mechanism in the agreement. When the NDP is in power after 2015, we could perhaps negotiate with the government of Korea to remove this provision.

  (1330)  

    The principle of these investor state mechanisms is cause for concern and rightly so in many cases.
    Consider the Canada-China foreign investment promotion and protection agreement. It took the government a long time to negotiate the agreement and then to ratify it after it was announced. My colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley just mentioned that in a question.
    This investment protection agreement has a number of flaws. First, it is not a reciprocal agreement and it clearly favours China. We mentioned that in several speeches. Even if the agreement had to be cancelled, Chinese firms could sue the Canadian government before secret tribunals for 31 years. That is another major flaw of the agreement.
    Furthermore, China could continue to impose conditions concerning local preferences, such as suppliers and jobs, whereas Canada could not. The fundamental issue of reciprocity is involved here.
     Finally, the Conservative government was not even able to negotiate national treatment for any new Canadian investment in China—not for companies already in China, but for all new investment made after the agreement is signed.
    The investor state dispute resolution mechanism in the Canada-Korea free trade agreement is different. It is 100% reciprocal, as is the rest of the agreement. What is more, if the agreement is cancelled, it ceases to apply after only six months, not after 31 years, as is the case with the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement between Canada and China.
    Furthermore, this free trade agreement with Korea contains transparency measures. Some hearings will be public and teams of experts may even allow third parties who are not directly involved in the dispute to make presentations or submit written briefs. Civil society and non-governmental organizations can therefore get involved. There are no such measures in agreements such as NAFTA or previous versions of this type of investor state provision.
    The dispute resolution mechanism in the agreement with Korea is also faster. For example, chapter 11 of NAFTA provides for a period of 90 days between the date that the claim is submitted and arbitration. The disputed measure must be in effect for at least six months. The technical summaries that we received for the Canada-Korea free trade agreement indicate that the timeframe will be shorter and that things will move faster in cases involving fresh produce or motor vehicles.
    That is why, despite this negative aspect, there are advantages to the Canada-Korea free trade agreement that outweigh the disadvantages.
    After conducting a complete and comprehensive assessment of this agreement, we decided to support it. It is not the agreement an NDP government would have negotiated. However, we find it acceptable.
    Ultimately, we believe that this agreement will be good for Canada and our exporters. It will have a positive effect on the forestry and agricultural industries in my riding and those of many other members on this side of the House.
    However, I want to emphasize that the government should tell us about its plan for one of the industries that will be the hardest hit, the automobile industry. We still have not heard any answers from the government in this regard.
    The NDP's prudent and balanced approach is the right approach, and it should be used so that trade agreements benefit our exporters, our economy and our workers.
    It is imperative that we have a healthy debate in the House. However, when I listen to the Conservative members' speeches, and particularly their answers to our criticisms of the agreement, I can see that they do not feel they should have done anything differently.
    In internal memos, officials with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade were critical of the fact that the department's resources were focused on less strategically important agreements than the one with Korea, for example. That prevented us from concluding the agreement as quickly as we could have.
    The United States and the European Union have had trade agreements with Korea since 2012. We lost considerable ground because of the government's strategic choice, which I do not understand. In all honesty, the government has not managed to explain this choice to me.
    For example, beef and pork exporters who had extremely well-established niches in Korea lost that initial advantage because the government was slow to act.
    I will soon take questions from Conservative members, I hope, and probably from other members of the House.

  (1335)  

    I would like them to keep in mind that no party in the House is perfect, the process itself was flawed and the government should learn from its mistakes so that it can be much more effective in future trade agreement negotiations.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in my colleague's mostly positive speech, he kept slipping between the Korean free trade agreement and the Canada-China FIPA. I am trying to follow where he got lost a bit, but I will focus strictly on Korea, which is the purpose of this debate.
    In his comments, he mentioned the U.S. snap-back provision that was provided through the U.S. free trade agreement with Korea. From my understanding of snap-back provisions, they have really limited practical value. I think that when we measure the tariff level of 2.5% between U.S. and Korea against the 6.1% level that we are dealing with in the Canada-Korea relationship, there is a different set of dynamics. The other piece of the snap-back provision, which I think really minimizes its impact, is that it is a 10-year provision in the U.S.-Korea agreement, and it cannot even be used in the first four years.
    I wonder if my colleague opposite would comment on where he sees the deficiency in our agreement and the substantive impact that he was referring to.
    The other thing I want to mention quickly is that 85% of Canadian production is built for export. I wonder if he would comment on where he sees the impact of that export production impacting this relationship.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his questions.
    It is clear from my speech and my previous interventions in the House that we are in favour of diversifying markets for Canada and our exporters. Putting almost all of our eggs in one basket—be it the European Union or the United States, our two main markets right now—is a risky approach. That is why we like the possibility and the prospect of diversifying our export markets.
    If we compare our agreement with the agreement the United States signed with Korea, we can see that we took a long time to act once the agreement was signed. I think the member would agree that the government put a great deal of emphasis on signing the agreement with the European Union, to avoid having to compete with negotiations between the United States and the European Union. This agreement should have been just as urgent, but that was not the case. The timing of the negotiations and the fact that they were probably not given as much attention as they should have are to blame in part for our being behind the United States, which has already eliminated many of its tariffs because of its agreement.

  (1340)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member talked a great deal about the automobile industry. It is a very important industry. I can recall my party, the Liberal Party, being very proactive going all the way back to the 1960s in terms of the Auto Pact arrangement. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs. It is obviously a concern. Having said that, we will be very diligent as we continue to watch what is taking place within that industry.
    The member made one specific comment which I want to flesh out a bit. I am not sure about this and this is why I am looking for clarification. He indicated that he believes an NDP administration would force Korean manufacturers to make their automobiles here in Canada. How would the member propose to do that?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member for Winnipeg North. The automobile industry is extremely important, and we will also be watching how this agreement affects the industry, particularly in terms of the non-tariff barriers that were perceived as a problem with the agreement between the United States and South Korea. They are also a concern here. I understand and we will be watching that.
    I do not think the interpretation reflected what I said. I did not talk about forcing Korean companies to move to Canada. I talked about encouraging them to do so. There is a series of measures we could implement, especially when we have this type of agreement with a country. Obviously, much closer trade relations could make it easier to negotiate and, with various incentives, could encourage companies to move here.
    If tariff barriers are eliminated, and hopefully non-tariff barriers will not stand in the way, our current producers will have significantly more export opportunities.This is a good thing, but it requires ongoing monitoring and we will have to draw some conclusions eventually. Right now, we export roughly 100 cars to South Korea. With this trade agreement, we will have greater opportunities. I hope our car manufacturers will be able to take advantage of that. We will do everything we can to help them, specifically by organizing trade missions to South Korea.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in an earlier question, the member opposite mentioned that he wondered why the NDP member was raising the issue around the Canada-China FIPA in the context of this piece of legislation. My understanding is that the member was drawing a parallel between the fact that in the Canada-China FIPA there is no ability to renegotiate the investor state dispute settlement mechanism for 31 years, whereas in this agreement it can actually be renegotiated in six months.
    The member certainly raised some concerns about the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism as outlined in this particular agreement. I wonder if he could highlight for the House specifically some of the concerns with regard to this investor state dispute settlement mechanism.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan for her question. In fact there has been an ongoing debate on such a provision since NAFTA was signed.
    The NDP has never been in favour of such a clause, particularly because of its secret nature. Administrative tribunals usually meet behind closed doors, and people cannot really attend or participate, even though some individuals might be directly or indirectly affected. We are therefore not very fond of this provision.
    However, in the case of South Korea, even though we could eventually renegotiate or even eliminate the clause if the South Korean government agrees, there is still more transparency than in other agreements such as NAFTA. There is greater effectiveness and, most importantly, greater accountability for the decisions that are made. We do not welcome this provision in particular, quite the contrary—as a number of debates and speeches have made clear—but it is a provision that we could eventually renegotiate when the NDP is in power and if the South Korean government is open to that.

  (1345)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member opposite and find him to be a very reasonable and very kind gentleman. However, I am confused. The New Democrats say they do not like certain measures of this agreement and they have concerns around the auto provisions, but they will encourage the Korean companies to set up shop in Canada. However, the very policies of the NDP increase costs, whether they be the inputs themselves or its labour policies coupled with its taxation policy. They actually discourage that kind of investment.
    There are so many great things about this country. We have an educated population. Ontario has a thriving auto sector. There are great workers, suppliers, and the supply chain. It makes a world of sense. However, the New Democrats say that they do not agree with investment protections that give investors long-term security so that when they build these big plants and choose to come to Canada they have some sense that they will not be arbitrarily picked on and treated differently from the way the local companies are treated.
    Could the member opposite square this circle? Could he help me with my confusion on his stances that seem to be total polar opposites?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have the utmost respect for the hon. member. I have had the opportunity to chat with him on occasion.
    I see no contradiction there. Clearly, we would look at the benefits and disadvantages of any NDP policy that we would hope to apply. Obviously, if the policies implemented were a disincentive to investment, we would study that negative impact.
    These conditions are more than just economic in nature. Other criteria should also be taken into consideration. For example, there is a possibility that non-tariff barriers in the auto sector could be lifted. We need to monitor that.
    We must also ensure that this is a two-way street. The conditions applied here must also be applied by South Korea to our exporters.
    We are completely consistent on that. We want this agreement to be reciprocal, to foster good trade relations and, at the other end, we also want to provide good conditions for the Koreans who are looking to invest.

Privilege

Physical Obstruction  

[Privilege]
    Mr. Speaker, I am speaking today to raise a question of privilege regarding a worrying incident that took place today on Parliament Hill. I feel that it was a prima facie breach of my privileges as a member.
    The incident took place just after 10:40 a.m. As we all know, earlier today, the government proposed a time allocation motion, the 76th of its kind, at the report stage and third reading of Bill C-36.
    At approximately 10:40 a.m., the bells were ringing to call in the members for the vote on this motion. The bells were still ringing when I was physically blocked from entering the House of Commons at the appropriate time.
    I was denied access because of security measures put in place today for an official visit from a foreign dignitary. An RCMP officer prevented me from entering the parliamentary precinct, saying that he had received very strict instructions not to let anyone pass. That obstruction was a serious breach of my privileges as a member.
    I got here just in time to vote. Regardless of whether I was late, access to the parliamentary precinct, whether it is to vote, to participate in a committee meeting, to attend question period, to deliver a speech, or just to listen to the debate is a strictly protected privilege.
    As you know, Mr. Speaker, the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice states on page 108 that:
     In circumstances where Members claim to be physically obstructed, impeded, interfered with or intimidated in the performance of their parliamentary functions, the Speaker is apt to find that a prima facie breach of privilege has occurred.
    Incidents involving physical obstruction—such as traffic barriers, security cordons and union picket lines either impeding Members’ access to the Parliamentary Precinct or blocking their free movement within the precinct—as well as occurrences of physical assault or molestation have been found to be prima facie cases of privilege.
    I would ask you to consider my question and the facts I just related. I believe you will also find that my privilege was breached and that I was prevented from carrying out my functions as an elected member of the House of Commons.
    If you find that there was a prima facie breach of my privileges as a member, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

  (1350)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to speak to a couple of my colleagues, and I echo some of the remarks by the member for Acadie—Bathurst. There was a bit of an issue getting into the chamber because of some proceedings taking place outside the House of Commons.
    In this case, with the question being put, we need to recognize that we have an internal security system within the House of Commons. My understanding is that it has nothing to do with our internal staffing or security. It has more to do with people from the outside in particular. Quite possibly it might have been some RCMP officers, but I am not a hundred per cent sure of that.
    It is worth having the Chair look into this. At times when we do have dignitaries coming to the Hill, perhaps there should be some additional information provided on additional security being brought on to the Hill so members, such as the member for Acadie—Bathurst or the other two members who have raised it with me personally, do not have to go through the frustration of having their privileges, on the surface, appear to have been infringed upon.
    Mr. Speaker, when you look at the case of jurisprudence and tradition in the House, particularly in 1989, former Speaker Fraser ruled that a prima facie case of privilege existed. That is when a roadblock on Parliament Hill prevented members from accessing the House of Commons. In 2004, as well, a question of privilege was raised regarding the free movement of members within the Parliamentary Precinct.
    Therefore, the member for Acadie—Bathurst is absolutely right to raise this question. The reality is the government planned these votes and the visit. The government was responsible for both and it could have understood, given the importance of these precedents, that stopping members from coming to the House of Commons is an insult to the privilege of members.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to shed a little light on it as well.
     I happened to be on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs a couple of years ago when exactly the same incident occurred and was studied by the committee.
     At that time, the conclusion was that unfortunately when RCMP officers were involved with the visit of dignitaries, they were not familiar with the process of respecting the rights of MPs to have unimpeded access to the Hill, particularly on occasions when they had to vote. We were told at the time that this would be rectified, but it appears that sadly exactly the same thing has happened roughly two years later.
    There is definitely, in my opinion, a breakdown of communication between the Hill and the RCMP officers who come in and do not understand the existing rules with respect to access to the Hill.

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, the question of privilege that has been raised by the member for Acadie—Bathurst is important. It is an important question that members do have unimpeded access.
     I would appreciate the opportunity to see if I can ascertain any additional facts that might be helpful to put to the House before a determination is made by the Speaker on the question of whether we do have a prima facie case. However, the principle is an important one.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to raise what I think is an important perspective on this that has been missed. Converting the House of Commons into the official greeting place for visiting heads of state is a perversion of our Constitution. The place for visiting heads of state is Rideau Hall.
     The conversion of the House of Commons as a photo backdrop for political purposes, interfering with the work of this place is, frankly, offensive. I hope perhaps this unfortunate incident will draw attention to the fact that red carpets, flags and in some cases tanks in front of Parliament Hill to greet visiting dignitaries is an inappropriate use of Parliament.

[Translation]

[English]

    I note the hon. government House leader reserves the opportunity to perhaps get back to the House once greater facts are known, and for the intervention of the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    As is customary in these cases, we will take these interventions under advisement and get back to the House in due course.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Don Valley West.
    I rise today to talk about the landmark Canada-Korea free trade agreement. I will specifically concentrate on the benefits and opportunities created by this agreement for our agriculture and agri-food producers and exporters.
    Canadian farmers and processors produce some of the best quality food in the world. Our products reflect Canada's dedication to excellence, safety and innovation.
    In 2013, the agriculture and agri-food sector accounted for 6.7% of Canada's total GDP and contributed to one in eight jobs in Canada, employing 2.2 million people.
    It is estimated that approximately half of the primary agriculture production in Canada is exported. The processed foods industry is also highly export dependent. Overall, with export sales topping a record of $46 billion in 2013, Canada is the world's fifth largest exporter of agriculture and agri-food.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Question Period

    Mr. Speaker, all members of Parliament need to take greater ownership regarding the operation of this, the people's House of Commons.
    On Tuesday, an important question regarding the deployment of Canadian military resources deserved an answer but, instead, received non sequitur nonsense. It was a sad display.
    Question period is the 45 minutes afforded each day for this House to hold the government to account, to ask ministers of the crown about matters of policy important to our constituents. It was never intended to be a forum for the scoring of cheap political points, nor for hurling irrelevant-to-the-question barbs about what political staffers do.
    Although your ruling was certainly correct that it is not the duty of the Chair to assure the quality of answers, surely the executive council has an interest in providing information to Canadians rather than buffoonery.
    While the Chair was also correct that challenging the impartiality of the Chair brings into question the integrity of how this entire place operates, surely in the minds of the public, this place has already been slipping into disrepute, if not irrelevance, for much too long.
    I implore members to represent their constituents in this, the people's House of Commons, and not merely partisan interests. How will Canadians take this place seriously if we, as members, do not take ourselves and this place more seriously?

North Vancouver Cultural Activities

    Mr. Speaker, this weekend my riding of North Vancouver is host to the annual North Shore Culture Days, which run from September 26 to 28.
    This fun-filled event is part of a larger national movement in 800 communities from coast to coast to coast that will engage 5.5 million Canadians in arts and culture.
    During these culture days, we can join workshops in painting, dancing, singing, and much more. We can also get behind-the-scenes tours of prominent local spots, like the North Vancouver Museum and Archives, which I had the pleasure of recently visiting twice to announce federal funding.
    First, I announced our government's support to safeguard more than 20,000 artifacts as they are prepared to be moved to an exciting new location in North Vancouver's historic shipyards. Then I was back to announce funding for the digitization of an invaluable record of our history, the diary of Lynn Valley's own Walter Draycott, which chronicled his experiences in World War 1.
    To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, the museum is posting these entries online, one century to the day after each one was written.
    Culture is who we are, and these events will get us thinking and moving. I encourage all to attend.

Rosh Hashanah

    Mr. Speaker, as Jewish families come together today, I would like to offer my best wishes on behalf of the NDP to all those observing Rosh Hashanah.
    Rosh Hashanah is a holiday for celebration and reflection and is an opportunity for families to remember the past and rejoice in the year to come.
    I would also like to take the opportunity of the high holidays to acknowledge the profound contribution people in Canada's Jewish community have made and continue to make to enrich Canadian society.
    On behalf of the NDP and the official opposition, I wish Jewish families across the country a year of peace and prosperity.

Airline Industry

    Mr. Speaker, I want to quote from a recently stranded Canadian:
    So as Canadians, most of us already know how awesome Westjet is. But when you're in a line up of...15,000 people in 34 degree temperatures with no shelter or food and Westjet pulls you out of that line...you [have got to love them even more].... We arrived at the Cabo San Lucas airport...to a very...grave situation.... [The hurricane] hit on Sept 14 and tourists were stranded for...days...with little water and food at their resorts. The line up of people trying to fly out was miles long.... Suddenly we hear “Westjet?? Canadian? Come with [us]...”.... Westjet took every Canadian, whether [they] booked...with them or not, and got us home. ...snacks and water in every seat. They gave us free food. They paid for our hotel, taxi and food in Calgary. ...Tim Hortons at the lineup...handed out...with smiles. I will never be able to say a big enough thank you [to WestJet]. What an amazing company.

[Translation]

Franco-Ontarian Day

    Mr. Speaker, September 25 is an important date in the history of francophones in Ontario because it was on that day in 1975 that the Franco-Ontarian flag was raised for the first time, in Sudbury.
    Some 35 years later, in 2010, the Government of Ontario commemorated the event by passing a law proclaiming September 25 of every year Franco-Ontarian Day. This is an opportunity to recognize the contributions made by the francophone community to the cultural, historical, social, economic and political fabric of Ontario.
    This is why I am pleased to rise in the House today to extend greetings and best wishes to the Franco-Ontarian community. With over 600,000 members already, our community continues to grow in number and diversity. We have left our mark on the history of our province many times already, and we continue to work actively and passionately on building and developing the Ontario and Canada of tomorrow.
    Happy Franco-Ontarian Day.

  (1405)  

[English]

Brampton Veteran

    Mr. Speaker, today I am standing to honour a great Bramptonian, a man who fought for our country and is now being further recognized for his contributions.
    Bill Burrell is a World War II veteran, a man who, although small in stature, was the perfect Royal Canadian Air Force recruit. He was sent out as an airman in the belly of a Halifax bomber.
    Bill flew out of Yorkshire, England, to the western front of the war a total of 32 times in the fall of 1944. At the time he was only 18 years old.
    Bill is now being honoured with the Bomber Command Bar, a military insignia that recognizes the incredible role he played during the war. There will be a ceremony for Bill in Brampton soon.
    Please join me in thanking Bill Burrell, a proud Bramptonian and a proud Canadian, for everything he did for our country.

Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

    Mr. Speaker, September 26 will be the first observance of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The intent is to raise awareness of the more than 16,000 nuclear weapons still in existence and the urgent need for global action.
    In 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament.
    In 2010, the Conservative government supported an NDP motion endorsing the UN plan and committing to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention and to deploy a major worldwide Canadian diplomatic initiative to prevent nuclear proliferation.
    A model nuclear weapons convention already exists as a UN document, and three-quarters of the states have voted to commence comprehensive negotiations. Canada should join this majority initiative.
    More than 700 recipients of the Order of Canada have voiced support for the initiative.
    I urge the Prime Minister to show leadership and act on this commitment.

Harold Shipp

    Mr. Speaker, it is with deep sorrow that I share with the House the news of the passing of Harold Shipp. Harold Shipp was a business icon, philanthropist, and community builder. He passed away on September 7 at the age of 88.
    At any time, if called upon, Harold Shipp could be counted on to contribute to both his local community and the nation.
    Since 1968, Harold Shipp ran Shipp Corporation and developed a remarkable Mississauga-based family real estate business. The phrase “Shipp-built” is now synonymous with quality and integrity.
    Harold Shipp was also a long-time General Motors dealer and leading horse breeder and owner, serving as a trustee of the Ontario Jockey Club.
    He was a generous and philanthropic individual who contributed and raised funds for many charities, benefiting so many Mississaugans.
    I know I speak for all of us in the House in wishing Harold Shipp's wife, Margaret, and all of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren comfort in this time of mourning. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, as well as our hope that their many loving memories will bring them strength and comfort.

Trinity Western University

    Mr. Speaker, one of the most important tenets in our charter is freedom of belief. That freedom is the right of all Canadians, regardless of profession.
    The law societies of Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick do not appreciate the importance of that charter right when they deny accreditation for the law school at Trinity Western University.
    Tomorrow the Law Society of British Columbia will meet to discuss accreditation for the law school. The issue is not the quality of the education or the suitability of graduates to practise law in Canada. The issue is of Trinity Western University's community covenant, which has already been ruled lawful by the Supreme Court of Canada.
    Its covenant does not forbid graduates from fulfilling the obligations and oaths of their chosen professions. It is merely an affirmation of the Christian beliefs the institution was founded upon, and law societies across Canada must respect that freedom of belief.
    I call on the Law Society of British Columbia to recognize the law school at Trinity Western University and respect Canada's proud tradition of religious freedom.

[Translation]

Jeannelle Bouffard

    Mr. Speaker, last night we honoured Jeannelle Bouffard, a great community champion, who is retiring after several decades of remarkable dedication.
    Her involvement in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is really a love story. She does not believe that this is an area that needs to change, but rather an area where we must learn to find the treasure hidden inside each and every one of us.
    One of her great successes is CAP Saint-Barnabé, which has a mission to fight poverty and improve the health of the people who go there.
    Under her coordination, CAP has gone from a simple community grocery store to a guiding light in the area providing a number of services, including the share store in which my team and I are pleased to be involved; a shelter for homeless men and women; and even a rooming house for women, which we desperately needed.
    We will miss her at CAP Saint-Barnabé, but I know that she will continue to be involved in the area in all kinds of other ways.
    I admire you, Jeannelle. Many, many thanks and happy retirement.

  (1410)  

Franco-Ontarian Day

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight a very important day for the province of Ontario and many of the constituents in my riding. Today, September 25, is Franco-Ontarian Day. September 25th is the anniversary of the first raising of the Franco-Ontarian flag in 1975.

[English]

    There are close to 600,000 francophones in Ontario, the largest French-speaking community outside the province of Quebec.

[Translation]

    The Government of Canada, our government, supports linguistic minorities, as demonstrated by our investment of more than $1.1 billion in the roadmap for Canada’s official languages, 2013-2018.

[English]

    This government also supported the creation of Unique FM community radio station as a result of my efforts and those of the current Minister of Industry.

[Translation]

    My two terms on the board of directors of TVOntario resulted in the French network, TFO.

[English]

    As an Ontarian of French-speaking heritage, I want to thank the Franco-Ontarian community for their strong contribution to making Canada strong, proud, and free.

[Translation]

Ulrick Chérubin

    Mr. Speaker, today the community of Amos and all of Abitibi-Témiscamingue are in mourning. Like everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him, I was truly saddened this morning to learn of the death of Ulrick Chérubin, the mayor of Amos and a towering figure in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
    Born in Jacmel in Haiti, Mr. Chérubin attended university in Quebec and was a teacher in Amos for 30 years before being elected mayor in 2002. Mr. Chérubin was an extremely congenial man who was synonymous with the town of Amos and Abitibi-Témiscamingue. He was truly loved by everyone in Amos. It is ironic that Mr. Chérubin left us in the very year that the entire community of Amos is celebrating its centennial.
    I join the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue and the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou in extending our deepest condolences to his wife, Immacula, his son, Ulrick Junior, his family and friends and the entire community of Amos.

[English]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of rhetoric and political posturing in the House about Canada's contribution to international efforts to combat ISIS.
    The latest beheading, in this case of a French tour guide in Algeria, shows how lethal a plague the ISIS bloodlust has unleashed. Canadian Forces are contributing to an international effort to contain the threat.
     During the Afghan mission, Canadian Armed Forces took the fight to al Qaeda and the Taliban in rough terrain and dangerous circumstances. As always, our troops fought with courage and professionalism.
    That knowledge and expertise, gained at great price, is of immense value to those on the front lines against ISIS today.
    Throughout history, Canada has stood with our allies against tyranny and brutality for the cause of freedom. Today's efforts follow that tradition.
    Today, I want to pay tribute to our Canadian Forces contributing to our international efforts to contain, deplete, and destroy this threat to world peace.

Rosh Hashanah

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday evening was the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
     Rosh Hashanah marks the start of 10 days of reflection and atonement for Jewish Canadians, culminating on Yom Kippur. It is also at time of celebration, as one gathers with friends and family to reflect on the year gone by and look forward to the promise of the future.
     York Region has a thriving Jewish community, and I would like to use this moment to recognize them for their innumerable contributions to Canada.
     On behalf of the residents of Markham—Unionville, I would like to wish a happy and healthy new year to all who are celebrating. May 5775 be a year of peace, prosperity, and happiness for all.
     Shana Tova.

  (1415)  

Westgate Mall Attack

    Mr. Speaker, this past Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi.
    This is a mall I visited on many occasions on my previous visits to Kenya. This attack claimed the lives of 67 individuals, including two Canadians, Naguib Damji and Annemarie Desloges.
     Annemarie, a distinguished public servant who served at Canada's High Commission in Kenya, lost her life in this senseless act of violence perpetrated by al Shabaab.
     Our thoughts continue to be with the victims and families affected by this horrific attack. Terrorism remains a serious threat in East Africa. That is why we have been directly supporting international efforts to combat al Shabaab in Africa, in particular through our support of AMISOM.
     We will continue working with Kenya to fight terrorism, which is a menace with no boundaries.

Use of Time Allocation

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is moving to shut down debate for the 76th and 77th times. These Conservatives have shattered by a mile the previous records for shutting down debate. Debate was shut down 45 times by the government of Brian Mulroney, 35 times by the Liberals under Jean Chrétien, and now 77 times by the current Conservatives.
    I am deeply gratified that most members, including most Conservatives, supported the member for Wellington—Halton Hills' reform act last night. However, empowering MPs also means allowing every member an equal opportunity to speak. Government members should be embarrassed to turn around today and vote in favour of time allocation, in favour of shutting down debate and in favour of denying members the opportunity to speak. Closure is an attempt by the government and the PMO to undermine the rights of all members in the House.
    This is a special place that needs to be defended. Canadians deserve better.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes the vital role that small business plays in our economy. That is why we are putting money in the hands of job creators with the small business job credit. Our plan lowers EI payroll taxes by 15%. It will save small businesses over $550 million. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business called the move “big news for small business”.
    However, our announcement left the Liberal leader scrambling. The next day, he released his back-of-the-envelope EI policy. He should have taken his time. He does not even know the cost of his plan. What is worse, it would encourage businesses to fire employees. It is so far off base that the member for Wascana has been naming economists as supporters of the plan when they actually oppose it.
    The Liberal record on EI is clear: raiding the EI fund, supporting a 45-day work year and its 35% premium hike, and proposing massive tax hikes.
    We are lowering taxes for 90% of all businesses. That is a record to be proud of.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in New York, the Prime Minister announced that he was considering sending even more Canadian troops to Iraq.
    Why did the Prime Minister wait until he was out of the country to announce that he intends to increase Canada's military involvement in Iraq? Why is he refusing to answer these questions here in Canada?

[English]

    Why does the Prime Minister make such important announcements in the United States and not here in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear that we will assess the non-combat mission that we are involved with in Iraq at the end of the 30-day period.
    We just recently received this request from the United States, and of course we will review that. I think that is only fair and reasonable in terms of our support for our allies and support for what we are doing in Iraq.
    Mr. Speaker, what would be reasonable would be to release the letter so that Canadians can know what the request is from the Americans and exactly when it was made, because the word “few” has taken on quite a new meaning with the Conservative government.

[Translation]

    Yesterday in New York, the Prime Minister also announced that the United States has asked Canada to send more troops to Iraq.
    How many more troops are the United States asking for? How many more troops does the Prime Minister intend to send?

  (1420)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, at this point in time we have committed 69 members of the special operations forces in Iraq. That being said, there is this request from the United States for additional support. This will be part of the review by the government included within the 30-day period, and we will make a decision on that.
    Mr. Speaker, cabinet is one thing; that is one of the branches of government. Parliament is where elected officials make decisions.

[Translation]

    Again from New York, the Prime Minister also informed Canadians that we have the largest number of troops in Iraq after the United States.

[English]

    Two weeks ago at committee, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that a status of forces agreement with the government of Iraq had not even been completed.
    Has a status of forces agreement been completed and when will Canadians see that text, or is that going to be released in New York as well?
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure that whatever is released to the leader of the NDP he will not be satisfied; he will be unhappy.
    We are on the right track fighting the Islamic State in that part of the world. I can tell the individual that the 69 members of the Canadian Armed Forces have the full permission and co-operation of the Iraq government and they are welcome, as they have been requested by the government of Iraq.

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, the UN Refugee Agency now says that Turkey needs urgent assistance caring for the approximately 130,000 new refugees who have streamed over the Syrian border in just the last week. That is 130,000 new refugees on top of the over one million already in Turkey.
    Did the Prime Minister discuss this refugee crisis with UN officials while he was in New York, and what aid will Canada provide to Turkey to deal with this latest surge in refugees?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Leader of the Opposition well knows, Canada has been at the forefront of the response to refugee resettlement from Iraq for years now.
    There are well over 18,000 resettled Iraqi refugees in this country. We have a plan to fulfill our full commitment to resettle 20,000 Iraqis and then to move on to resettle 5,000 Iraqi and Iranian refugees now present in Turkey. We are at the forefront of helping our Turkish allies respond to this unprecedented humanitarian crisis.
    Mr. Speaker, let us try to get a real answer from that minister and not more wordplay.
    Canada has promised to accept a total of 1,300 Syrian refugees. We often hear the minister talk about people who are under the protection of Canada. Here is the question. Exactly how many of them have arrived here in Canada? He knows the number.

[Translation]

    Canada has promised to accept a total of 1,300 Syrian refugees. The minister often deals in semantics, so we want to ask him a clear and specific question.
    Of these 1,300 refugees, exactly how many are here in Canada?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, more than 1,500 Syrian refugees are present in Canada.

[Translation]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Canadians learned that the United States is asking Canada to expand its military involvement against the Islamic State. The Prime Minister informed The Wall Street Journal that he was considering it and would decide how Canada will get involved.
    My question is very simple. First, does the government commit to giving Parliament all the details of this request from the United States before taking action? Second, does the government commit to consulting Parliament if it is considering expanding Canada's military involvement against the Islamic State?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have certainly reached out to the opposition parties. We have given them briefings on this. I and the Minister of Foreign Affairs appeared before a parliamentary committee and we have been very clear. We have a 30-day non-combat role in Iraq at the present time. We will assess that and as I indicated we have received this request for additional military support from the United States.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians learned about the U.S. request for a larger military role against ISIL from the Prime Minister's comments in New York and not from a statement to Parliament. In the U.K., Prime Minister Cameron recalled Parliament to debate his country's role in the fight against ISIL.
    Before extending the 30-day deadline for Canada's mission and before any larger role may be decided, will the Prime Minister inform Parliament of the nature of the U.S. request and will he commit to holding a debate in Parliament?

  (1425)  

    As I have indicated, Mr. Speaker, this government has been very forthcoming. Again, we have invited the hon. member and her party, on their oppositions days, that if they want to discuss this and want to have more debate, they are certainly welcome to do that.
    That being said, we will analyze this non-combat role we have at the present time and come to some conclusions at the end of that 30-day period, but I would invite the hon. member, indeed all members of the House, to watch the Prime Minister tonight at the United Nations before the General Assembly.
    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs committed publicly that the government would engage and inform members of this Parliament about any extension or changes to the deployment of Canadian Forces members in Iraq. The best way to inform opposition members and all Canadians is to hold a debate in Parliament.
    Before extending the current mission on October 5 and before any larger military role is decided, will the minister inform Parliament what the U.S. has requested and will he commit to holding that presentation in Parliament?
    Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out, there has been considerable discussion and questions answered on this side of the House. Forthcoming information has been provided by the government, including the foreign affairs minister and the Prime Minister. I am surprised. When they have their opposition days, if they are concerned or upset about some of these issues, they are certainly welcome to have additional debate on that, but we will continue to be very forthcoming on this issue.
    Mr. Speaker, the official opposition will not content itself with a presentation, nor will it consider it sufficient to have a debate.
    The question for the government is: will there be a vote in the House of Commons?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been clear that we are in support of those individuals who are opposing this monstrous organization in that part of the world. Again, the Prime Minister has been clear on that subject.
    However, nothing will make the NDP happy, nothing, not debates, not votes, not statistics, not information about this, nothing will make it happy, but we will stand with our allies.

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to temporary foreign workers, the government's actions never match its rhetoric. Conservatives have now been forced to bring in penalties for employers that violate the temporary foreign worker program, but imposing sanctions depends on catching violators. Now we learn not all inspections include a site visit. One cannot just look at paperwork and conclude everything is fine.
    When will Conservatives finally get serious about cracking down on abuse in the temporary foreign worker program?
    Mr. Speaker, we are so serious that we have quadrupled the number of inspectors for this program. We have passed legislation to impose tough new administrative monetary penalties, lifetime bans on use of the program, fines of up to $100,000 that go retrospective, and measures that allow for warrantless searches of offices. We will not tolerate any abuse.
    However, neither will we tolerate the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition, which is that everybody who works at McDonald's and Tim Hortons is a foreign worker. Just who are those people he is talking about?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, an internal memo about the temporary foreign worker program at the Employment and Social Development Canada revealed that the Conservatives have been dragging their feet since they took power and that they are not protecting Canadians' jobs. The existing rules are inadequate, and in some cases, the government cannot even fine employers who break the rules and then regularize the situation.
    Why has the government taken absolutely no action to punish abuse and why did it wait eight years to strengthen the controls and increase fines?
    Mr. Speaker, this government was the first to introduce sanctions for bad employers in 2008 and 2009. There were no sanctions for bad employers under the previous Liberal government. That said, we have passed new legislation to impose tough new administrative and monetary penalties, we have adopted new regulations, and we have quadrupled the number of inspectors who can visit employees' offices.
    We will not tolerate the NDP leader's claim that all workers in this area are temporary foreign workers. That is not fair.

  (1430)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my question is this: are they visiting?
    Finally this minister has responded to our call for a credible enforcement compliance strategy for this program, and our call for consultation. However, a quick review of the strategy, in consultation with the skilled workers, indicates remaining problems, including continued reliance on complaint lines and refusal to publish the names of all violators.
    Can the minister commit today to increased enforcement action for major constructions sites, including in the oil sands?
    Mr. Speaker, I can commit to it because we have already done it with the quadrupling of the number of inspectors, funded by the new $1,000 application fee.
    However, the member says the New Democrats called for sanctions. Why, then, did the NDP vote this spring against the bill that gave us the legislative power to impose new sanctions? Why did the leader of her party say that the program “morphed into having everybody in McDonald's or Tim Hortons coming from another country”, when in fact 96% of the people who work in those franchises are Canadians? Who are these people from other countries that he sees?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, according to Morgan Stanley, Canada is one of the worst OECD countries in terms of low-paying jobs. In Canada, 22% of wage earners make less than $18,000. In the OECD, only two other countries are worse than Canada. Is this the Conservatives' vision for the Canadian economy: to keep wages as low as possible by using the temporary foreign worker program and pushing seasonal workers into unskilled jobs, among other things?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are better off under this Conservative government than they have ever been before. Canadian families in all income groups have seen increases of about 10% in their take-home pay. The lowest-income families in Canada have seen a 14% increase. For the first time, middle-income Canadians are richer than those in the United States. The median net worth of Canadian families has increased by 45% since we have taken office.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, 22% of wage earners are making less than $18,000. The truth is that the Conservatives do not have a plan for creating jobs or a coherent development strategy. The proof is that the Prime Minister brags about his budgetary surpluses to New York's economic elite, but when he is in Canada, he says that the budget is too tight to help the unemployed and the provinces. The same goes for the Minister of Finance: when he is in Europe, he makes a case for fiscal restraint, but at the G20, he seems more open to economic stimulus measures.
    Workers are tired of this lack of coherence and vision. When will the government come up with a plan that creates good, stable, well-paying jobs?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our progressive tax policies continue to benefit Canadians in all income groups. That is shown in every report that has been published, most recently in one that has been referred to here in the House of Commons.
    Our measures have removed over one million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls. We have created the landmark working income tax benefit to help low-income Canadians who work; we have reduced the overall tax burden to the lowest in 50 years; and in this year, 2014, we have saved the average Canadian family over $3,400 in taxes.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative approach to the economy is not getting the results that Canadians need. Their low-wage agenda of cutting EI while boosting temporary foreign workers has resulted in Canada having the highest proportion of low-wage jobs of nearly any OECD country. Only two countries are worse.
    The Conservatives are making it harder and harder for Canadians to make ends meet, while wealthy insiders get further ahead.
    Will the Conservatives abandon their low-wage agenda, ensure access to EI, and raise the minimum wage?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, here is a bit of a news flash for the hon. member: provinces establish the minimum wage. Even NDP provincial governments do that, but not to anywhere near the job-killing levels to which the federal NDP proposes to raise the minimum wage.
    When she talks about massively expanding EI, that means massively increasing premiums. Those are payroll taxes. Those are taxes on jobs. The NDP's plan for EI equals killing jobs by raising payroll taxes.
    No, we will not do that. We are going in the other direction. We are creating jobs by reducing those payroll taxes.
    Mr. Speaker, only the current Conservative government says that giving a Canadian $15 an hour is somehow a job-killing initiative.
    Yesterday the Prime Minister was off again, brunching in New York with rich bankers and bragging about the alleged strength of the Canadian economy, but the emperor has no clothes, as disturbing as that image may be. The reality is that more and more Canadians are being forced into low-wage, part-time jobs. The OECD shows that the Conservative government is one of the worst in the world in this respect.
    Does the minister actually brag about the fact that nearly one-quarter of all jobs in Canada are now low-wage and precarious? Is this something to brag about to the world?
    Mr. Speaker, again, Canadians are better off under our Conservative government. Canadian families in all income groups have seen increases of about 10% in their take-home pay. The lowest-income families have seen an increase of 14%. For the first time, again, middle-income Canadians are better off than Americans. The median net worth of Canadian families has increased by 45% since we have taken office.
     The opposition refuses to look at the facts.
    Mr. Speaker, let us go right through the Conservative spin. They are facing the reality of a job market that is not meeting people's needs.
    The Conference Board shows that there is a serious and growing income gap between older workers and younger workers. Under this Conservative government, it is getting harder for older workers to retire and more difficult for younger workers to get into the market in the first place, so why do we not do one positive thing? Let us give Canadians a raise. Let us raise the federal minimum wage, as the NDP has suggested, and give a break for once to Canadians who are working hard and working full time but living below the poverty line.
    Mr. Speaker, the member knows that the economy of Canada is the economy that is envied by most countries around the world. Over 1.1 million net new jobs have been created in this country since the deepest part of the recession. Overwhelmingly, the majority of those are in the private sector and are full-time jobs.
    He talks about youth. We have invested $330 million per year through the youth employment strategy. We have supported more paid internships for recent post-secondary graduates. We understand the importance of skill development to—
    Order, please.
    The hon. member for York West.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister took off his rose-coloured glasses and admitted to The Wall Street Journal that Canada's jobs numbers flattened. No kidding.
    There are 240,000 fewer youth jobs than before the recession and 112,000 private sector jobs vanished last month alone, but all he has to offer is a tax credit that would create a perverse incentive to fire people.
    The Liberal EI plan would create more than 176,000 jobs.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that his tired old economic ideas are exactly what flattened the job market?
    Mr. Speaker, our small business job credit will lower EI tax premiums by 15%. It will save small businesses $550 million. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that this credit will create up to 25,000 person-years of employment.
    While we are lowering payroll taxes for 90% of businesses, the Liberals are supporting a 45-day work year. The Liberals should never run on their record on EI. They are the ones who stole the $60 billion—
    Order, please. The hon. member for Wascana.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's story on jobs got demolished yesterday by The Wall Street Journal. In fact, only 99,000 new Canadian jobs were created in all of 2013, just 5% of them full time, and through the last 12 months only 15,000 new full-time jobs were created in this whole country.
    According to the OECD, Canada is not first on jobs but 16th, behind the U.S., the U.K., and 13 others, so why not try to help by eliminating EI taxes on new Canadian jobs? Why not—
    Order, please. The hon. Minister of State.
    Mr. Speaker, again, both the IMF and the OECD countries have forecast Canada to be one of the strongest-growing G7 economies in the year ahead. Part of that is because they understand that we have job creation measures, and the future looks bright here in Canada.
    The member for Wascana was wrong yesterday. I thank him for his apology to this House yesterday. He was wrong yesterday and he is wrong again today. The small business job credit will be an incentive toward hiring. We know that it is these measures that are going to move our economy—
    Order, please. The hon. member for Wascana.
    Mr. Speaker, my, they are a titch sensitive.
    For young Canadians, the job market is dismal. Their unemployment is stuck at over 13%. There are 240,000 fewer jobs for young Canadians today than before the recession. Families worry about not affording post-secondary education. In 40% of empty-nester families, their adult kids have moved back home because they cannot afford to make a go of it on their own, and the Conference Board of Canada has now said that this younger generation may not do as well as their parents.
    Does the government even get it that there is a problem?
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader and the Liberal Party have yet to understand how small business works. The Liberals have no idea, but let me quote someone who does get it. Dan Kelly, of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said this of the EI business job credit in the Conservative plan: “It's a big, big deal for small business.”
    Under the action that our government has taken, Canada will continue to have one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in the G7. In fact, since 2006, our government has helped 2.1 million youth obtain skills, training, and jobs.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, if unchecked, Ebola could kill hundreds of thousands of people in the upcoming months. Today, at a high-level meeting at the United Nations, President Obama said that we have to move fast to make a difference.
    We have 1,000 vaccines that have been waiting for over six weeks to move. Is that moving fast? I do not think so. When will the vaccines be shipped?
    My second question is this: will the government deploy DART to help save lives?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians should be very proud that Canada is at the forefront of the response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. In fact, I will be in Washington tomorrow at the White House for an emergency meeting on Ebola with the global health security initiative partners.
    With respect to the member's question on the issue of the vaccine, Canada has very generously donated 1,000 doses of this vaccine, which was developed in Canada by Public Health Agency researchers, to the WHO. It is now in the hands of the WHO as to when and how it will be deployed. We are seeking its advice on that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, according to the WHO, 1.4 million people could contract Ebola by January 2015 if nothing is done. The international community and organizations such as Doctors Without Borders Canada are calling on Canada to do more and to send medical resources to Africa. We must act now on the ground.
    Apart from the announced funding, what resources will actually be sent to fight this deadly virus on the ground?

  (1445)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is already at the forefront, and has been for months, in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. We have done a great deal of things, whether it is the experimental vaccine that was developed by Canada which was donated to the WHO, or teams of medical experts on the ground working with our highly specialized mobile lab diagnosing dozens of cases every day. We have sent over essential protective equipment.
    This morning we did more. We announced another $30 million in support. That is going to improve treatment, work on prevention, control, and improved health care on the ground.

[Translation]

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, thousands of immigrants are being detained in deplorable conditions. According to the Red Cross, in 2012, approximately 4,000 immigrants were held in Canadian prisons alongside dangerous criminals. They are sometimes put three to a cell and even have to sleep on the floor. What is worse, children of immigrants, who are also detained, are not treated well and mental health resources are quite simply inadequate.
    Will the minister do the right thing and implement the Red Cross recommendations?
    Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of our asylum system, which is fair and equitable. We are also very proud of the reforms that we have put in place recently, which have produced very positive results for Canadian taxpayers. There has been a 90% drop in asylum claims from democratic, affluent countries in the European Union and North America. We are confident that the conditions in the detention centres we are using meet the highest international standards.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about here is the Red Cross having to remind the Minister of Public Safety of his legal responsibility for the well-being of immigration and refugee detainees. We are talking about more than 291 minors detained in deplorable facilities. These are children who are already traumatized and lacking the physical and mental support they need. We are talking about families, too often separated for lack of appropriate accommodation.
    Will the Minister of Public Safety take his responsibilities seriously and make sure the Red Cross recommendations on the treatment of detainees are fully implemented?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada has a fair and extremely generous asylum system. We are proud of the reforms brought in by this government, which have resulted in a reduction by 90% of asylum claims from safe, democratic, relatively affluent countries in the European Union and North America, so that we can concentrate those resources on people who really need them.
    We are absolutely clear that the conditions in detention centres across Canada meet the highest international standards.

International Development

    Mr. Speaker, over the past couple of days global leaders have been meeting in New York at the UN General Assembly.
    The well-being of mothers and children in the developing world is of great interest to my constituents in Oakville. As noted by Melinda Gates:
    Under [the Prime Minister's] leadership...Canada has earned a global reputation for driving the agenda when it comes to women and children.
    Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister please give the House an update on Canada's recent efforts at the UN General Assembly?
    Mr. Speaker, this week the Prime Minister has continued to galvanize global leaders and global attention to Canada's most important development initiative, that of saving the lives of children and mothers in the developing world. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of International Development are in New York working to ensure this remains a global priority and to help build on the very successful summit, Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm's Reach, which was held in Toronto.
    Because of the leadership of the Canadian government, and because of the specific leadership of our Prime Minister, we are making serious achievements and helping to reach these millennium development goals.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, the United States has been asking for a reciprocal payment protection program for American producers for years, but the Minister of Agriculture has failed to act. Now the Americans are threatening to revoke protections for Canadian farmers. This would be a disaster for producers and for consumers.
    Will the government keep the commitment it made in 2011 under the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council to protect Canadian producers and consumers from being gouged when the Americans close the border?
    Mr. Speaker, no one is talking about closing the border. I am not sure why the member would want to go to that extent.
    He knows there are effective consultations going on with our American counterparts. I know that the Canadian Horticultural Council, under the able leadership of Keith Kuhl, has been briefed constantly on this. The bankruptcy laws in Canada are under discussion, and we look forward to that report coming out very soon.

  (1450)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the American government is threatening to revoke the preferential status granted to Canadian fresh fruit and vegetable producers if we do not implement a payment protection system. Once again, our farmers are paying the price for the minister's inability to work with our most important economic partner. We are talking about a $1.6 billion industry.
    How does the minister intend to address this looming crisis?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, of course we cannot control what the Americans are going to do, but having said that, we continue to work with our Horticultural Council. I have had discussions with its American counterparts under the RCC umbrella and under a number of other auspices. We continue to move horticultural products back and forth across the borders. We are talking about some $7 million that have been used under this program over the last number of years. It is not a large number, but we want to make sure that when our horticultural guys deal on the American side, or for the same thing when they reciprocate up here, that everybody has the ability to be paid for that top quality produce.

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, Apotex will finally quarantine drugs from a plant in India and stop distributing them in Canada. For that to happen, it took a media crisis and the NDP asking the minister a lot of questions. The government's negligence and lack of transparency have cast doubt on our entire drug oversight system.
    The Minister of Health is lying low and refusing to specify which drugs have been quarantined. Can she commit to making that list public? Canadians have the right to know.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the transparency framework we have put in place is continuously evolving, and I have asked Health Canada to post inspection summaries for any of the inspections it does on plants.
     It is true that today and yesterday we have put a voluntary quarantine on Apotex products coming out of its plant in Bangalore, India. I will not tolerate any drug safety risks for Canadians. I asked Health Canada to act, and it did.
    Mr. Speaker, the framework she talks about is evolving to the point that it simply does not work. The fact is that Canadians should not have to rely on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to protect our prescription drugs.
    Public safety must be paramount, and Health Canada's secrecy must stop. Health Canada has yet to let Canadians know which drugs it quarantined yesterday. Why is the minister so opposed to increasing transparency? Will she publicly disclose details to Canadians about which drugs have been quarantined and why?
    Mr. Speaker, the appropriate action has been taken. We have ensured, upon learning about any of the safety issues around the Bangalore, India, plant that Apotex runs, that we have quarantined all products coming out of that plant, and they will not be able to be sold.
    I expect Health Canada will take any further action necessary and work with provinces and territories on any distribution of drug issues.

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is saying no more wives and husbands from abroad until 2015. Imagine getting married in July 2011, and being forced to wait for three years before finally being told by immigration that the file is now ready for visa issuance. Well, not by the government; the government has put a freeze on issuing visas for wives and husbands until the end of this year.
    Why is the minister being so cruel to families?
    Mr. Speaker, that was a spectacularly inaccurate question. There was not a shred of truth, not a single fact in place.
    What is true is that this government has taken action to reduce backlogs and to speed processing times that were left to us by the Liberals. We have done it in the field of parents and grandparents where in only three years we have processed well over 50,000 applications. By the end of this year, it is going to be 70,000 applications, as well as over 40,000 super visas. We are talking about over 100,000 parents and grandparents here. That is double or triple the rate we ever saw under the Liberal Party. We have done that while taking terrorism seriously.

  (1455)  

Rail Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's pipeline policy has been an utter failure. One result of this incompetence has been a dramatic increase in oil shipments by rail. We all know the dangers of that. Industry predicts oil shipments by rail will increase by sevenfold to 1.7 million barrels a day in the next few years.
    Does the government have any plan to ensure Canadians are not put at risk as a result?
    Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question from the opposition member, because we have been doing so much on this file since 2006.
    We have issued protective disclosures to ensure that we have safe tank cars. We want to make sure that operations are as safe as possible in Canada.
    We know that we are going to responsibly develop our resources in this country. We know that we will sign more free trade agreements in this country. Transportation of these goods in a safe manner is extremely important as well, and we will continue to work on that.

[Translation]

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, in July, the Ocean Breaker, a factory ship, was seen fishing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We have a regulation prohibiting factory ships from fishing in the gulf, and there are no exceptions. A permit was issued, contrary to DFO's own regulations.
    This is not healthy management, it hurts local fishers, and it proves that the minister has not given up on her latest attempt to eliminate the fleet separation policy.
    Why did the minister issue that permit?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, not at all. This area has been subject to a redfish fishing moratorium since 1995.
    However, in 1999 the decision was made to allow for a small 2,000 tonne test fishery to support science and the monitoring of stocks.
    The division of access of this test fishery was split between larger and smaller vessel fleets according to the historical access prior to the moratorium. Inshore fishers have participated in this test fishery most of the years since it has been implemented. Recently I have heard concerns from several industry members of the presence of larger vessels. Therefore, I have asked that this issue be examined as part of a recently formed DFO working industry group on redfish.
    Mr. Speaker, it is amazing. The policy on banning factory ships has just vanished into the Conservative air from the DFO website. It is gone.
    Let us get this straight. The minister okayed this huge trawler coming into the Gulf of St. Lawrence just months after Atlantic Canadian fishermen rallied to stop her attack on fleet separation. It is as though the minister is trying to do through the back door what she could not do through the front door.
    Why is the minister making policy for well-connected Conservative friends, like the Sullivans, instead of protecting the fishermen and the families of Atlantic Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, perhaps the member did not hear my answer.
    This is a test fishery with a 2,000 tonne quota for the entire fleet, large and small ships. The larger ships had opted not to participate in this test fishery for the last few years, and this year they did.
    This is currently being reviewed.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, as many of my colleagues know, my son-in-law and daughter were some of the first responders to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, so it has been very encouraging to see the government take a leadership role on the world stage when it comes to the global public health threats posed by Ebola.
    Canada's medical expertise is respected all over the world, and the generosity of Canadians working with non-governmental organizations in West Africa is going a long way to fight against this disease.
    Could the Minister of Health please give the House an update on Canada's latest contributions to combat the Ebola outbreak?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Okanagan—Shuswap and his family for the work that they have done in this area. Canada remains committed in the fight against Ebola and remains there for the global response.
    I am pleased to inform the House that Canada is investing, as of this morning, an additional $30 million for our humanitarian partners in the region. This will include the Red Cross and many others to improve treatment, health care, nutrition, and of course, save lives.
    Preventing further transmission of the Ebola virus is essential in controlling the current outbreak. We will continue to explore ways to support health care workers on the front lines.

  (1500)  

[Translation]

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, we all know that Revenue Canada is losing billions because of widespread international tax evasion, but what are the Conservatives doing? They are dismantling the teams of experts who counter this phenomenon and harassing charitable organizations that disagree with them. If the Conservatives have nothing to hide, then why are they unwilling to give the Parliamentary Budget Officer the information he needs to assess the scale of this problem?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member opposite mentioned the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Just this morning he released his opinion that we were giving everything we needed on CRA for the fighting of international tax evasion and that we were getting the job done for Canadians.
    Contrary to the premise of that question, and I have stated this before in the House, we are not reducing the number of our auditors, especially in international tax evasion. We have actually increased the complement by 750 since we took office. By our managerial changes, we will add another 10.
     As far as charitable organizations, go we will go forward. Charitable organizations in Canada need to respect the law and we need to ensure they do it.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, in May, the Federal Court ordered the Treasury Board to revisit the case of Major Marcus Brauer.
    The Chief of the Defence Staff, the Canadian Forces Ombudsman and the grievance board had already declared that the Treasury Board's decision to deny him benefits under the home equity assistance program was unjust.
    It has been four months. Actually it has been almost five years. What is the holdup? Why is the government being so unjust to military families? When will it do things right by the Brauer family?
    Mr. Speaker, as a government, we will comply with the Federal Court case. I am informed that the review is under way and will be completed soon. Then the government will consider the review and act accordingly.

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, many residents living in my riding live in rural communities that do not have access to telecommunications that many of us enjoy, expect and take for granted, like high-speed Internet.
    I am pleased that our government has introduced the connecting Canadians program and I am sure that will address many of the issues, not only in my riding of Provencher but across Canada.
    Could the Minister of Industry give us an update on that program?
    Mr. Speaker, the connecting Canadians program addresses a serious concern. I am pleased that my colleague from Provencher is raising an issue that I know is of serious concern to him and his rural constituents in southern Manitoba.
    The gap that is far too often the failed market circumstance in rural parts of the country, northern communities, often aboriginal communities, is something we need to address as a government. Our connecting Canadians program will do that.
    We have put greater than $5 million forward. We are partnering with the private sector. We are moving forward to ensure that all Canadians, no matter where they live, will benefit from high-speed Internet access.
    We are the 2nd largest country in the world in size and 37th largest in population, but to connect us together is a real accomplishment.

[Translation]

Social Development

    Mr. Speaker, for years now, young people in the Portneuf region have always been able to count on l'Autre Cartier, a homelessness prevention organization that does wonders. However, backlogs in the processing of applications to the skills link program have deprived that organization of crucial funding. L'Autre Cartier will soon be forced to shut down, and the youth who live there will be forced onto the streets.
    The Minister of Employment and Social Development is responsible for preventing such debacles. Can he explain why his department is putting community organizations like l'Autre Cartier in jeopardy?
    Mr. Speaker, this government has made unprecedented investments in housing for those in need, notably with our new housing first program, which has been a great success, by all accounts.
    I am not familiar with the specific file that the member is talking about. Generally, when members want to talk about specific files, it is better if they submit them in writing or discuss them with me, because I am not familiar with that one right now. If they provide me with a letter, I will be able to answer in detail.

[English]

Government Contracts

    Mr. Speaker, the government has spent more than $20 million on media monitoring contracts since December 2012, notwithstanding maintaining any army of 3,300 communications staff across all government lines.
    Given that this in-house communication staff costs nearly $263 million every year, why does the government need to outsource another $20 million in media monitoring services? Has the government never heard of Google Alerts?
    What do all of these people do?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is important for any government, and certainly this government takes it seriously, to understand what Canadians are telling the media and to understand the various people in the parliamentary press gallery, but also all the other sources of media these days, aside from the parliamentary press gallery.
    This is part of how we inform ourselves and make informed decisions, and we will continue to do so.

[Translation]

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, last Friday, the majority of members present in the House were NDP.
    Thanks to that majority, we were able to set aside the government's agenda and we debated an issue that we think is extremely important: the fact that 1,200 aboriginal women have been beaten or have disappeared over the past several years.
    This is a national crisis, a national tragedy. We think this issue is extremely important. A public inquiry for these women and their families is needed. Some eloquent speakers have addressed this important issue, even since yesterday evening's vote. We will continue to raise these questions.
    That is one of the files we have discussed in recent days.
    Would the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons like to tell us what the government has planned for the coming week?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, on the question of missing and murdered aboriginal women, I was pleased that last night the House of Commons had an opportunity to vote to concur with the excellent work in the report done by the committee of parliamentarians that examined that issue, one of well over two dozen such studies that have been undertaken on the subject. They have been helpful in forming the government's action plan that is taking place to help address this problem and help to improve the conditions of aboriginal women on reserve and elsewhere.
    In terms of the government's agenda, this afternoon we will continue the second reading of Bill C-41, the Canada-Korea economic growth and prosperity act. This important bill would implement our landmark free trade agreement with South Korea, Canada's first in the Asia-Pacific region, I might add. It would provide expanded access for Canada's businesses and workers to a growing G20 economy, Asia's fourth largest.
    Free trade with South Korea is projected to create thousands of jobs for hard-working Canadians by boosting Canada's economy by almost $2 billion annually and increasing our exports to South Korea by almost one-third.

[Translation]

    That debate will continue next week, on Tuesday.
    Tomorrow, Mr. Speaker, will see the conclusion of the report stage of Bill  C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. The House will recall that we are working to implement this legislation before the Supreme Court’s decision in Bedford takes effect before Christmas.
    Monday shall be the third allotted day, with the New Democrats choosing the topic of discussion.

[English]

    I am designating Monday as the day appointed pursuant to Standing Order 66.2 for the conclusion of the debate on the first report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
    On Wednesday, the House will return to the report stage debate on Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime legislation.
    Thursday morning should see the end of the third reading debate on Bill C-8, the combating counterfeit products act. Then we will resume the second reading debate on Bill C-40, the important bill to establish the Rouge national urban park. After question period we will start the second reading debate on Bill S-5, which would also, in a similar vein, create the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve.
    Friday will be set aside for third reading of Bill C-36.

  (1510)  

[Translation]

Privilege

Physical Obstruction—Speaker's Ruling  

[Privilege]
    I am now ready to rule on the question of privilege raised earlier today by the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.
    I also want to thank the hon. members for Winnipeg North, Burnaby—New Westminster, Westmount—Ville-Marie, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, and the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for their comments.

[English]

    The denial of access by members to the precinct is a serious matter, particularly on a day when votes are taking place. There are many precedents to be found regarding incidents of this kind, including my own ruling of March 15, 2012.
     In view of that strong body of jurisprudence and given the information shared with the House by the numerous members who have made interventions, I am satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for finding a prima facie matter of privilege in this case. I would like to invite the member for Acadie—Bathurst to move his motion.

[Translation]

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs  

    That the question of privilege regarding the free movement of Members of Parliament within the Parliamentary Precinct during the state visit of September 25, 2014, be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
    He said: Mr. Speaker, I would first like to explain what happened. I think it is important for people who listened to the debate on the question of privilege and the Speaker's ruling.
    As everyone is aware, the current Speaker used to be a simple member of Parliament, just like us. There is a bell and a light in his office. Hearing the bell ring or seeing the light come on means that we should go to Parliament to take part in a vote.
    A vote was called. As usual, I left my office and took the green bus to Parliament Hill. Shortly afterward, traffic was stopped, and the bus driver said that we would be better off walking if we wanted to get to Parliament because everything had been stopped for several minutes. A number of MPs were on the bus, which was behind the Confederation Building. We set out on foot. When I got to the corner of Bank and Wellington, at the entrance to the Confederation Building, I saw several RCMP officers and several Ottawa police officers on motorcycles. When I tried to cross Bank Street to go to Parliament, an RCMP officer told me, “you're not going through”.

[English]

    Then I told the RCMP officer that I was a member of Parliament. He said, and these are the exact words he used, “I don't care”.
    After that, I said, “We're having a vote in the House of Commons”.
    He answered, “I don't care”.
    I told him that we had privilege and that I had the right to go to the House of Commons during votes. He said, “I don't care. I am under strict orders and nobody is going through”.
    At the same time, the officer from the Ottawa Police Department said, “You guys get on the sidewalk”.
    I followed the order of the officer. I have a lot of respect for the officer, but at that time I understood that he did not know his job, that he did not know his responsibility or that the House of Commons is for the members of Parliament and they must be able to come in and do their work. It is our place of work.
    To me, this is just as serious on the opposition side as it is on the government side. I do not think the government would have loved it if all of the opposition members were in Parliament, but the members for the government were stuck outside and could not come in and vote. Imagine if it was a vote of confidence. We would then end up in an election.
    Maybe they do not understand how important this place of work is.

  (1515)  

[Translation]

    I have been a member of Parliament for 17 years now. I would say I have gained some experience over that time.
    I remember another time when Ottawa police officers refused to give my colleague, Bill Blaikie, access to Parliament because they did not recognize him. Mr. Blaikie said he was not required to show his ID because the police officers were supposed to know and recognize the MPs.
    This morning, there was another incident. An RCMP officer was posted not in downtown Ottawa, but on Parliament Hill. Worse yet, I introduced myself to the RCMP officer as a member of Parliament. He said, “I don't care”.
    This is a breach of my privileges as a member of Parliament. The people of Acadie—Bathurst elected me because they wanted me to work for them. This is my place of work. I represent the constituents of my riding.
    I worked at a number of different places before. I worked in sawmills and mines. Visitors were welcome. The company never prevented me from working because someone came to visit us. I have never heard of a private company saying that it did not want its employees to enter the workplace because there were visitors.
    Here it is worse because this is the House of Commons, where we make laws and where we discharge a fundamental responsibility. By virtue of my privilege, I have the right to go to the House of Commons, vote and not be stopped by anyone. I have the right to listen to all the debates in the House of Commons. I have the right to attend all the House of Commons committees. Today I felt that my privilege and that of several of my colleagues was breached.
    I want all my colleagues to support me because one day, when we are no longer here, this attitude of certain RCMP officers is going to cause a mess, as they say back home. We must be respected in the name of those we represent.
    If they do not want to respect me, that does not bother me. It is not me personally who matters. However, the MP who represents the 80,000 people from Acadie—Bathurst must be shown some respect. All the members in the House need to be shown respect when they want access to their place of work because they have a fundamental responsibility to the democracy of this country that must not be interfered with.
    This has happened on several occasions. When the Prime Minister of Israel was here on March 2, 2012, security guards prevented the member for Winnipeg Centre from entering the parliamentary precinct. He raised a question of privilege, and the committee examined the issue and ruled in his favour.
    Why is the message not being passed on? What is preventing it from getting out? The same question was asked in Bill Blaikie's time. It keeps coming up. It is not enough to simply say that we are right and not fix the problem. One day, this is going to cause a mess.
    Votes in the House of Commons are rather important. I have been here for 17 years. I have seen people come from the hospital in an ambulance, still hooked up to an IV, to vote in the House. That shows just how important these votes are. This morning, we were prevented from accessing the House of Commons because there was a foreign visitor. I have a great deal of respect for the House of Commons security guards and the RCMP. However, when an RCMP officer tells me that he has been given very strict orders to prevent anyone from getting through, then the person who gave those orders did not do his job properly.
    I am therefore asking the House to adopt this motion and to get to the bottom of things once and for all. This problem needs to be resolved and people need to communicate. Today, all members should feel as though one of their privileges was violated. That is unacceptable in a democracy and in a parliament. I am sure that other democracies in the world would not close the House of Commons because there were visitors present. That privilege is already in place.
    Mr. Speaker, as you said, the case that I presented to the House of Commons has been accepted and must be examined. I am therefore asking all my colleagues to work together to examine this issue. This has to stop once and for all. Members must be shown respect by virtue of the responsibility they have to the people of this country and our democracy. I am therefore asking that this privilege be respected.

  (1520)  

    Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with the honourable member.
    A few years ago, when the President of the United States was here in Parliament, I tried to get in as an MP. Some Ottawa police officers prevented me from getting near the building.
    This is not a new problem. This has happened before and it is quite appalling. It goes against the rules of this place. I am taking the hon. members' comments very seriously because of my own experience.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Employment and Social Development for his comments. As he said, it is not the first time that this has happened and it has happened several times. We have to find a solution to this problem. If this is coming from Parliament's security officers, they should all know us. That is what Bill Blaikie said in his day. That is terrible. We have security officers to provide security for Parliament and they do not know who we are. Today, it was even worse. I told the officer that I was an MP and he said, “I don't care”. I have a problem with that.
    There was a vote in the House. It could have been any kind of vote, it could have been very important. He said, “I don't care”. I went even further and said that the government could fall. “I don't care”. I forgot one thing: he even said that I should have voted earlier. I have no control over that.

[English]

    At that time, I tried to be very polite and said, “You're not my boss”, but he did not care. That type of attitude should not be accepted. He said he was under strict orders from the top, so that is what has to be looked at.
    Mr. Speaker, it is only an intervention I want to make in this debate.
    As the minister pointed out rightly, this has happened before, again and again. We have made changes to the way that security is meant to interface, particularly when foreign dignitaries are here on the Hill. We all can understand, and I am sure the member for Acadie—Bathurst understands, that when certain foreign leaders are here, security conditions change because of the higher security threat than when Parliament is doing its normal functions.
    The challenge that I have, and I put this through you, Mr. Speaker, to the government, the powers that be in this place, is that we made accommodations before where off-site security forces, be it the municipal police or the RCMP, who may not be as familiar with the procedures in the House of Commons, because this is obviously a unique place constitutionally, are accompanied by House of Commons security at these points of intervention.
    The House of Commons security, as all members of Parliament would know, have familiarity with us and have an understanding of the importance of what my friend from Acadie—Bathurst talks about, the ability to go forward and get into the House of Commons for sometimes critical votes.
    My question to him and to all members is this. Can we not finally solve this thing that keeps happening to members of Parliament from all sides, where they are prevented from doing their lawful duties, and finally establish a security protocol that works both for the security services and members of Parliament who are simply trying to do what my friend was doing, which was represent the good people of Acadie—Bathurst?

  (1525)  

    Mr. Speaker, I understand what my colleague said but this goes a little further. This RCMP officer was on Parliament Hill. On top of that, he said he did not care what was happening and that he got his orders from higher up. An officer follows the orders of his boss and he was very clear, “My order is that nobody is getting through”. That is why this investigation needs to go further into how the information is relayed to those people.
    There was more than one MP there, all saying, “We have to vote”, and his answer was, “I don't care because I've been told nobody is getting through”. That is why I am saying it goes further than that officer. It goes into the organization and how the orders are given to those people. That is why it is important to go to the committee, conduct a study, and talk with the people who give those orders.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst. This was truly tragic for him because he was coming to do his job in this place and also because it is a breach of the privileges of members of Parliament.

[English]

    I speak of a process that has become increasingly routine. I have been searching for historical precedents, but it is certainly becoming routine in this place to convert Parliament, as I mentioned earlier today, into something of a photo op for staged greetings, red carpets and flags.
    I recall from access to information requests uncovered some years back that the current Prime Minister was exploring the possibility of turning the former U.S. embassy across the street into something of an imperial foyer for greeting foreign heads of state. The place to greet foreign heads of state with better security and without interfering with our work here is Rideau Hall.
    Rare events in our past history have involved speeches by, for instance, the president of the United States to a joint session of Parliament. However, that is rare in our history and it is much more appropriate that we remember that we are a constitutional monarchy, the Prime Minister is first among equals, and the work of this place should not be made secondary to photo ops.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the member is getting at, but I thank her for the question.
    For instance, in the case before us today, they were aware that there was a vote. It is up to Parliament's security service to prevent visitors from entering until the members of Parliament are in the House of Commons to exercise their right to vote. They do not have to parade around Wellington Street and Bank Street to get here. There are direct entrances. By using certain doors, we would not really have to bother the people coming to Parliament. However, they closed the grounds entirely. Access to Parliament was blocked because someone was coming to visit Parliament.
    I have visited dozens of parliaments, together with the Speaker of the House. I can guarantee that parliaments in other countries have never put their work on hold for us. That has never happened. Never has the access of those members of parliament been blocked. We would go there and the members had priority. That is their place of work.
    This is Canada's democracy. This is where things happen, and yet a parliamentarian, democratically elected to represent Canadians, cannot enter Parliament when a vote is being held. Let us put this on the record, I was on time today, but I could have been late. The Standing Orders are clear and state that absolutely nothing can prevent me from going to my office and the House to fulfill my duties. However, this is what happened today; our parliamentary rules have been violated.

  (1530)  

    Mr. Speaker, I do not know if I am allowed, but I would like to raise a new point regarding this question of privilege. I wonder whether the Chair could rule on what is going on in this building.
    I want to tell the House about something I experienced today. I was denied access to a hallway because a red carpet had been put down for a big event. It was not a big deal, but I was forced to go through the basement to get to the vote. It was not a big deal because I got here on time for the vote.
    Nevertheless, I would like the Chair to rule on security issues in this building. I do not think this was a matter of security, since the carpet was for a photo op.

[English]

    It had the potential to hold me up before I got here. That is as far as I could go.

[Translation]

    This is a comment. Not exactly a question.
    Perhaps my colleague has something to add to that.
    Mr. Speaker, this is the same issue that was raised by the leader of the Green Party. Parliament is our workplace, but we now have red carpets all over the place. More and more visitors are coming, and there is all kinds of buzz. That is all well and good, but I have never seen anything like it elsewhere. In other countries, representatives and parliamentarians are never prevented from doing their job. I may be repeating myself, but it is essential to understand that this is important, not just for the member for Acadie—Bathurst, but for all 308 members of the House of Commons.
    It is a privilege for us to sit in this House. The day we give up that privilege just because we have visitors, we will have a mess on our hands. I can say that the Brunswick Mine has never stopped mining because they had visitors. I guarantee it. The miners go underground before the visitors arrive. That is one example.
    I see a number of violations, and I am asking for this to stop once and for all. An investigation needs to be conducted. We need some rules and we need to follow up on this. We must ensure that parliamentary privilege is honoured, even if we have visitors.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will keep my comments brief. I also want to thank my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst for his intervention and for raising this point of privilege. I agree with him totally.
    He is right. The incident that happened today has happened before. I was a member of the procedures and House affairs committee in 2012 when we examined a point of privilege first brought forward by the member for Winnipeg Centre, who along with two other parliamentarians, was denied access to Centre Block during the visit of the Israeli prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu.
    At that time, the procedure and House affairs committee called three witnesses. We heard from the Clerk of the House of Commons, the Sergeant-at-Arms, and an assistant commissioner of the RCMP in charge of policing services. All agreed that the rights of parliamentarians to come to this place, their place of work, as my colleague states, should never be impeded. In fact, the assistant commissioner of the RCMP apologized for the actions of one of its members who stopped three parliamentarians from getting to Centre Block. In two of those three cases, parliamentarians were actually told to take the East Block tunnel to come to Centre Block, rather than walk directly to Centre Block. I believe at that time it was for a vote as well.
    During the testimony of the assistant commissioner of the RCMP, who appeared before committee, he said the RCMP would enhance its procedures to try to prevent this type of situation from ever occurring again. In particular, he said three distinct provisions would be taken.
    First, all RCMP members who would be on duty during future visits of foreign dignitaries would be more aggressively and properly briefed on the rights of parliamentarians to gain access to Parliament Hill.
    Second, he agreed to use the services of both the House of Commons and the Senate security services to assist in identifying parliamentarians, since as we all know, those security services are far more familiar with the faces of parliamentarians than are members of the RCMP.
    Third, he agreed to have security from both the House of Commons and the Senate at key access points whenever there was either a state visit or a visit by a foreign dignitary that required additional security forces, such as the RCMP.
    We thought at the time when we examined that issue at the procedure and House affairs committee that those three initiatives by the RCMP—plus a few other recommendations that we made at committee, such as encouraging all members to wear their MP pins, making sure they have proper identification, whether security cards, access cards, or that type of thing—that the situation would get better. We also recommended that all outside security forces, when on duty during the visits of foreign dignitaries, not only be briefed more aggressively and properly but have copies of the members handbooks so they could visually identify people who identified themselves as members of Parliament. We thought at that point in time that the situation would get better, because the RCMP had committed to making those enhancements to ensure that this type of incident did not occur again.
    Obviously, something fell through the cracks, because it occurred today, and it should not have. At no time should there ever be any situation where members of Parliament, regardless of which party they belong to, are denied access to their place of work. That should never, ever happen.
    I welcome the fact that we are going to examine the situation again. As a member of the procedures and House affairs committee, I might suggest in this place, and then later in committee, that if we had commitments from an assistant commissioner that were not followed through, perhaps this time we bring the Commissioner of the RCMP to committee to try to get his assurances that this type of situation will never occur again.
    It is an important issue, one I think we should discuss. I will not take any more time because I firmly believe that all members of this place are in agreement with the intervention initially made by my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst.
     I would also suggest that perhaps, if there is a willingness from all of my colleagues, we go to a vote right now and make sure this issue gets before the procedure and House affairs committee, because I think we are all in agreement that it should.

  (1535)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the intervention of my colleague. My concern is because the votes were scheduled by the government at the same time as we had the protocol that was put into place that was not followed. As my colleague, the member for Acadie—Bathurst has clearly said, it is something that has come up before. Why did the government not plan to ensure that the votes on time allocation did not take place at the same time as the visitors were arriving on the Hill?
    Mr. Speaker, despite the conspiracy theories of my hon. colleague, the business of the government has to go on regardless of there being foreign dignitaries visiting.
    We felt, quite frankly, because of the last incident in 2012, that there would be no future instances of members of Parliament being prevented from coming here. We had the assurances of the RCMP that this would not happen again, that further enhancement would be put in place. We see no need to stop the regular practices and functioning of government to try to accommodate what might be a faulty practice by the RCMP. What we need to do, rather than do anything else from the government perspective, is have the RCMP represent themselves again at the procedures and House affairs committee, indicate to them our displeasure that this incident happened, and try to get solid assurances in the future that this will never happen again.
    Mr. Speaker, the member and I have been on the procedure and House affairs committee many times, and we have discussed that many times before. Would he agree with me that it is not only the RCMP, but it has to be the city police too? There was a city police officer there on a bike who said, “Get on the sidewalk”, giving me orders to get on the sidewalk and not go through. Everybody who is going to participate in the security of this building and people coming in has to be involved. At the time of Bill Blaikie's case, for example, all the police from Ottawa were involved in it, as well as the RCMP and our security.

  (1540)  

    Mr. Speaker, I do agree with my colleague, without question. Any outside security forces, whether that be the RCMP, municipal police, or any other security forces, need to assure parliamentarians that our access to this place will not be impeded.
    Perhaps a solution might be, if there are instances where not just the RCMP but the municipal police forces are also engaged in security for this place, before visitations take place and before the security forces are put on this precinct, that they are adequately briefed of all the protocols and procedures; that they are all armed, for an example, with a members booklet so they can properly identify members of Parliament; and that they all give assurances to us that they will engage the assistance of both the House of Commons and Senate security forces to assist them in identification of members of Parliament.
    However, without question, one thing remains constant: members of Parliament have the absolute right to have access to this place and should not be impeded. We have to put in protocols that ensure that the incident that happened today never happens again.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Acadie—Bathurst certainly brought up a very serious point of privilege for us all. I am in a unique situation. I saw all the buses and cars lined up and I just kept on walking. I walked across the street in front of the Confederation Building and got in. However, I have heard quite a number of complaints from my colleagues who happened to be on the buses and were stopped, and I take at his word what the member for Acadie—Bathurst said and what the police officer said to him.
    Certainly it is extremely important. This is our place of work. It is our precinct, and our privileges should not be denied for really any reason.
    I am going to make it very clear, and I believe the member of the governing party made it reasonably clear, that we are not blaming either the Ottawa police or the RCMP. They were in a situation of probably not knowing. However, there was the president of the Federal Republic of Germany. I saw that convoy go down, about 10 cars, as I was coming up the hill, and from a policing and security perspective, from their point of view and probably not knowing us as individuals, they had to be concerned as well.
     There was a failure somewhere in the system here, and there is another possibility, as I believe the leader of the Green Party mentioned in a blog. Is it always necessary that the heads of countries come to Parliament, or sometimes should they be going to Rideau Hall? That is an interesting angle that may need to be considered as well.
    However, I just want to say that the member has a serious and legitimate point of privilege. Things happened here that should not have happened. I am certainly saying that I understand the policing point of view from a security aspect, that the police officers have their orders and concerns as well, so we have to look at that angle, but this should not happen again.
    Mr. Speaker, I also agree with my colleague from Malpeque that it should not happen again. It should not have happened today.
     It is interesting he made mention that he was not impeded. He was able to come directly to the House where my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst was not.
    This has happened before, in fact in 2012, with respect to an incident that the procedure and House affairs committee examined at that time. One of the members of Parliament who was denied access told the story of how she was being denied access at the security checkpoint, yet a civilian employee of the House of Commons who was beyond the security checkpoint walked unimpeded to the House, and said, “I wasn't asked. I wasn't stopped.”
     Where is the protocol here? Why is one individual, in this case a member, stopped when another is not? Why is it that one member was stopped in 2012 when a civilian employee was not stopped? These are the types of examinations that we have to engage in at the procedure and House affairs committee.
    However, I will say it again and again. I agree with my friend from Malpeque. We are not blaming anyone. We just need assurances from not only the RCMP, but all security forces that before they set foot on a parliamentary precinct in an official capacity, whether because of a visiting dignitary or anything else, they are thoroughly briefed on the protocols that they should be following, with the end of result of no members of Parliament being denied their right to access this place and this precinct.

  (1545)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that this has happened before. Apparently, nothing we have tried so far has worked.
    I would humbly suggest to the members of the committee studying this issue that they simply talk to the Sergeant-at-Arms about the possibility of holding a round table with the RCMP and municipal police. That way, when something like this going on just off of Parliament Hill affects the Hill, these organizations can coordinate. Clearly, there was no coordination on this. Everyone tried to do their jobs as well as possible, but it was not coordinated at all. Maybe the solution is to get the Sergeant-at-Arms to oversee coordination.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his suggestion. We are open to any suggestions. Obviously, as members of the procedure and House affairs committee, we all have the same ultimate goal in mind, which is to ensure that we are not denied access to this place.
    I cannot speak for the committee because the committee has yet to meet on this issue, but since in 2012 we had the Clerk of the House, the Sergeant-at-Arms, plus a representative of the RCMP in front of our committee, I assume at least those three will be called as witnesses to discuss this issue again. Whether we require a round table or some other set of protocols to achieve our goals I am not sure, but I can assure my colleague that we will have a very thorough examination of this issue, particularly since we thought after the 2012 study by the procedure and House affairs committee that this issue would never surface again. Clearly, we were wrong. We must ensure that we deal with it perhaps from a more aggressive standpoint. Nonetheless, we must let the committee do its work. I am sure it will do good work and it will result in a report back to this House which I think all parliamentarians will approve.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to make a full speech. We are in great unanimity in this place that what occurred to the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst should never have occurred. I would like to suggest that if actions are taken, we bear in mind that whatever police officer or security guard quite wrongfully blocked the member's access to this place, there not be any firing or disciplinary action until it is thoroughly investigated as to whether he was instructed, as he reported to the member, that no one passes. I would hate to see an officer who works hard in this place disciplined or fired as a result of this incident.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not have a question, just a comment. I just want to clarify something. I was stopped when I was on the bus and when I was walking. I wanted to set the record straight because earlier, the member was stopped on the bus while it was crossing the street. I was stopped in two places, on the bus and then in the street.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not think it requires a response, but I appreciate the member's clarification.
     Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)


GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

  (1550)  

[English]

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    When the House last left this question, the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound had eight and a half minutes remaining in the time, something I neglected to inform him of prior to statements by members.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.
    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to finish the major part of my speech and would remind you that I am splitting my time with the member for Don Valley West.
    As such, continued success of the agriculture and agrifood sector is heavily dependent on an ability to compete in international markets over the long term. Therefore, it is no surprise that our government continues to work tirelessly to increase access to some of the fastest growing global markets, including South Korea.
    Yet despite all the evidence that trade creates jobs, economic growth and economic security for hard-working Canadian families, the NDP, together with its activist group allies, is and always will be ideologically opposed to trade. When the NDP talks trade, it is not the interests of hard-working Canadian families it has in mind; it is the interests of its core supporters, its radical activist group allies, which are of concern to it.
    The Liberals are just as bad. During 13 long years in government, the Liberals completely neglected trade, completing only a paltry three—three—free trade agreements.
    An hon. member: We signed NAFTA, for God's sake. That is the biggest one, right?
    Mr. Larry Miller: Mr. Speaker, by the sound of the heckling, they do not like the truth.
    The Liberals took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets. In fact, the last time the Liberals tried to talk seriously about trade, they campaigned to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement.
    Canada's prosperity requires expansion beyond our borders into new markets for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's exports and investment. As Canada's first FTA with an Asian market, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement is truly a landmark achievement.
    With average Canadian exports from 2011 to 2013 of agriculture and agri-food to South Korea reaching almost $644 million, Canada is one of South Korea's largest suppliers. This agreement would further deepen our trade ties by improving market access for all of Canada's key agricultural export interests.
    In general, South Korea would eliminate tariffs on around 70% of Canadian agricultural exports within five years. Within 15 years, 97% of exports would be duty free. This would lead to substantial gains for agriculture given that this sector is so heavily protected in South Korea. For example, South Korea's average applied agricultural tariff is 52.7% compared to 6.8% for non-agricultural goods.
    The Canada-Korea FTA is critical to re-establishing a level playing field for Canadian agriculture and agri-food producers competing in the South Korean market, where major competitors from the United States and the European Union currently benefit from preferential access under their free trade agreements. Australia signed an FTA with South Korea in April 2014, and is expected to enter into force in the coming months.
    While these are just some of the broad benefits for the overall sector, there are also significant gains for key agricultural products, including in meats, grains, pulses, oilseeds, fur skins, animal feeds, processed foods, alcoholic beverages, and fruits and vegetables.
     In particular, beef and pork were Canada's two top priorities and among the most challenging areas of the negotiation. Under the Canada-Korea FTA, tariffs as high as 40% on fresh, chilled and frozen beef and pork would be eliminated over periods ranging from five to fifteen years.
    Importantly, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement rules of origin reflect the integration of the North American livestock industry, which is a key result for us.
    This agreement also aims to further Canada's position as a global supplier of grain and grain products by opening new markets in South Korea. Our grain exports would benefit from the immediate elimination of South Korean tariffs on some of Canada's high-quality grains and special crops, including wheat, rye, oats, mustard seed, and canary seed.

  (1555)  

    Wheat flour would benefit from tariffs eliminated over five years, while Canada's exports of barley malt to South Korea would be immediately duty-free under large commercially significant transitional quota volumes and will gain unlimited duty-free access after 15 years.
    This agreement also holds tremendous potential for Canada's oilseeds and oilseed products sector. Tariffs on canola would be eliminated immediately upon implementation, while the current tariff of 5% on refined and crude canola oil would be eliminated over three to five years. Canadian exports to South Korea of identity preserved soybeans would see immediate duty-free access under permanent quota volumes. This is a product of particular interest to Ontario and Quebec.
    Other key sectors that would benefit are Canada's fruits, vegetables and pulse sectors. Under the agreement, current tariffs of 30% on frozen blueberries would be eliminated within seven years, while tariffs on pulses, such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas, would be eliminated over five years. Tariffs on feed peas would be eliminated immediately upon entry into force.
    This agreement also includes notable benefits for processed foods and alcoholic beverages. Upon entry into force, duties on icewine would be eliminated from current duties of 15%. This is significant, as icewine makes up 90% of Canada's white wine exports to South Korea. Furthermore, duties on rye whiskey would be eliminated upon entry into force.
    Canada would receive immediate duty-free access on Canada's key processed food exports, including frozen french fries, maple syrup, maple sugar and golden roasted flaxseed. Other products that would see their tariffs eliminated during a phase-out period include baked goods, chocolate, sugar, confectionery, and cranberry and blueberry juices.
    These are just some examples of the types of agricultural sectors and products that would benefit from the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. Given this positive outcome, a wide range of agriculture and agri-food stakeholders, such as the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, the Canadian Pork Council, the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance, the Canola Council of Canada and Pulse Canada, to name a few, have strongly and publicly supported this agreement.
    To ensure that Canadian farmers and food processors benefit fully from this groundbreaking agreement, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food continues to work closely with the Canadian agriculture industry to open new doors in South Korea.
    I would like to take this time to thank the Minister of Agriculture and Minister of International Trade for the great work that they have done in the past number of years in getting not just the Canada-Korea free trade agreement but all the other ones that the government has signed. There are more to come.
    In April, the minister led a delegation of 30 agriculture associations and companies to seize on the opportunities for agriculture trade heralded by this agreement. The visit successfully strengthened agricultural trade ties between Canadian exporters and South Korean importers. As our competitors in the European Union, the United States, Austria, Chile and other countries have already signed or implemented agreements with South Korea, Canada's farmers and food processors are currently at a major disadvantage to access this market. This disadvantage would widen further if Canada delays in ratifying this agreement.
    I know that I am running out of time, but I would like to emphasize the great importance of this deal for all Canadian business, and particularly agriculture. With that, I welcome questions.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. We support the bill as written, but there is a problem related to investor protection even though, fortunately, the time-limited clause can be cancelled with six months' notice.
    I would like to know what it is about South Korean institutions and the country's legal system that is problematic enough to warrant this kind of investor protection clause.

  (1600)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I understand that the member and his party are going to support the agreement. I certainly welcome that and would have hoped for nothing less.
    When we are negotiating any deal, we all know that in negotiations—and they are exactly that, negotiations—we do not get everything we want. However, this deal would be a great improvement to the situation we have now, when it comes to trade.
    If producers of Canada were not protected under this deal, simply put, this government would not sign it. Therefore, I feel quite confident, and I think he will too if he looks at the fine print, that this deal would have Canada protected and allow us to ship our products.
    In my riding, I have everything from apples, to beef and pork. I have it all. In fact, it is the second-largest beef-producing riding in the country. This would be huge for our farmers across this country, and again, I thank him for his support when the time comes.
    Mr. Speaker, I do think the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound outlined a number of the positive aspects for the agriculture community in the agreement, and that is good.
    He said in his remarks that our beef and hog producers have been disadvantaged since the U.S. signed its agreement with South Korea, and that is true. To put that into perspective, I have to ask where the government has been and why it has taken so long to negotiate this agreement. The talks were initiated in 2004, and we have seen the Americans start to displace us in the market.
    I worked with the member when he was chair of the agriculture committee and was at a meeting where Secretary Vilsack was speaking. It really bothered me that he stood in front of the hall and bragged to the Americans about how they were displacing Canadian beef in the South Korean market. Therefore, it is a good thing that the agreement is signed.
    I think it is critical that the House and the place down the hall get this done before January 1, because on January 1, if this implementation agreement is not passed here and in South Korea, we will fall another 2.5% tariff behind, which would really disadvantage our beef producers.
    Therefore, I ask the member opposite this. Does he have any ideas on how we can be absolutely sure that the implementation agreement gets signed in both countries by January 1? That is the critical point now.
    Mr. Speaker, I think there was definitely a lot of support in there for this agreement. All I can ensure, as can he, is that I will, and I know this government will, do everything we can to see that this is done, and I feel confident that will happen.
     I would urge him to do the same, follow with his words—and I am not going to doubt he will do that—urge all his colleagues, and urge the opposition across the way. This can be done in that time frame. I, for one, would be very disappointed if we, in the House, did not do our parts to see that this happened.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound for sharing his time with me and for his presentation this afternoon.
    On Monday, September 22, 2014, thanks to the leadership of the Prime Minister, Canadians witnessed the signature of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, Canada's first bilateral FTA in the fast-growing and dynamic Asia-Pacific region. This is more proof that our Conservative government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians.
    South Korea is a key gateway to the wider Asia-Pacific region, offering strategic access to regional and global value chains. South Korea is the fourth largest economy in Asia, boasting a robust $1.3 trillion economy. It has a population of 50 million, with per capita GDP of more than $25,000, one of the highest in Asia, making it one of Asia's most lucrative, dynamic and advanced markets. It is home to many large multinational conglomerates, including now household names such as Samsung, Hyundai and LG. This landmark agreement is a pivotal step toward growing and deepening Canada's ties with this vibrant economy and the region as a whole.
    South Korea is a priority market in the global markets action plan, or GMAP, Canada's blueprint for creating jobs and opportunities at home and abroad through trade and investment, the twin engines of economic growth. Under the GMAP, our government will concentrate its efforts on markets that hold the greatest promise for Canadian businesses, which include South Korea, and stands ready to harness Canada's diplomatic assets to support the pursuit of commercial success by Canadian companies abroad, particularly small and medium-sized Canadian enterprises.
    To open new markets for Canadian businesses and create jobs and opportunities for hard-working Canadians, we have launched the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history. In less than seven years, Canada has concluded free trade agreements with 38 countries and is negotiating with many more.
    Canada's prosperity requires expansion beyond our borders into new markets for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's exports and investment. This includes the comprehensive economic and trade agreement, or CETA, with the European Union, which will be the most ambitious trade partnership that Canada has ever negotiated.
    Canada is also actively pursuing a trade agreement with 11 other Asia-Pacific countries through the trans-Pacific partnership, or TPP, negotiations. These agreements would open new markets and create new business opportunities to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.
    South Korea has its own very active program of pursuing bilateral and regional trade and investment agreements. Aside from its agreement with Canada, it has signed FTAs with the United States and the European Union, in addition to eight other partners across the globe. It has also recently concluded an FTA with Australia. In light of South Korea's own ambitious trade agenda, there is an urgent need to implement the CKFTA as soon as possible to level the playing field for Canadian businesses and ensure they are able to compete in the South Korean market.
    Canada and South Korea have a strong and robust bilateral trade and investment relationship. Two-way merchandise trade between the countries reached almost $11 billion in 2013, making South Korea Canada's seventh largest overall trading partner and third largest trading partner in Asia. South Korea's direct investments into Canada have climbed from $397 million in 2005 to $4.9 billion by the end of 2013, a more than twelvefold increase in less than a decade.
    No government in Canada's history has been more committed to the creation of jobs and prosperity for Canadian businesses, workers and their families. During 13 long years in government, the Liberals completely neglected trade, completing only three small free trade agreements. The Liberals took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets.

  (1605)  

    Similarly, the NDP only has the core interests of its radical activist-group allies in mind, not those of hard-working Canadians. That is why, despite all evidence that trade creates jobs, economic growth, and economic security for hard-working Canadian families, the NDP is and always will be ideologically opposed to free trade.
    Our government recognizes that protectionist restrictions stifle our exporters and undermine Canada's competitiveness, which in turn adversely affect middle-class Canadian families.
    The CKFTA is a comprehensive agreement that would eliminate tariffs and provide enhanced access and strong disciplines across all major areas of commerce. It would be a major boost to Canadian exporters looking for a foothold in the lucrative Asian market.
    The agreement's most visible outcome is the ambitious obligation undertaken by Canada and South Korea to eliminate tariffs for all sectors, including textiles and apparel, chemicals and plastic, information and communication technology, aerospace, metals and minerals, as well as agriculture and agri-food, fish and seafood, and forestry and value-added wood products.
    On the first day the agreement comes into force, over 88% of Canada's exports would be duty free, and over 99% would be duty free once the agreement is fully implemented. As average South Korean tariffs are three times higher than Canada's, 13.3% versus 4.3%, tariff elimination is absolutely critical for Canadian businesses exporting to the South Korean market.
    For Canadian consumers, the elimination of tariffs under the agreement stands to reduce the cost of imported products and expand choices for them that are increasingly cost competitive.
    This agreement would also strengthen the bilateral energy partnership, an area of significant potential for both our nations.
    South Korea is already the world's second-largest importer of liquefied natural gas, LNG; fourth-largest importer of coal; and fifth-largest importer of crude oil. It is seeking to diversify its energy suppliers and improve its energy security.
    Canada is a natural partner for South Korea. With some of the world's largest oil and gas reserves, Canada is poised to become a large, stable, and reliable supplier of energy to Asia. By removing tariffs on Canadian oil and natural gas, this agreement would make Canadian LNG and petroleum products more competitive in South Korea and help create jobs and opportunities at home here in Canada.
    The CKFTA would also provide enhanced market access for Canadian service suppliers in areas such as professional services, environmental services, and business services, and temporary entry commitments that are the most ambitious South Korea has agreed to in any of its FTAs.
    The investment provisions in the CKFTA would provide a more predictable and rules-based climate, including investor protections, which would encourage increased investment flows between Canada and South Korea and expand the prospects for joint ventures.
    The CKFTA also includes a range of provisions governing government procurement, intellectual property, telecommunication services, and electronic commerce, as well as substantive environment and labour provisions in dedicated chapters. It contains strong provisions to reduce or eliminate non-tariff measures that hinder market access for exporters and investors, backed up by fast and effective dispute settlement provisions.
     Going forward, the CKFTA represents a firm commitment by both sides to grow and expand this important strategic relationship.
     Trade has long been a powerful engine for Canada's economy. It is even more so in what remain challenging times for the global economy. In these uncertain times, our prosperity depends on our ability to take advantage of economic opportunities in emerging markets.
    The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would help Canada compete more effectively and thrive in the world economy.

  (1610)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound did not completely answer my question. I will turn to my colleague, the hon. Conservative member for Don Valley West, and come back to the issue of the investment protection clause included in the agreement.
    I would like him to tell me whether the Government of Canada insisted it be included. If that is the case, I would like him to explain why it is in there. Did Canada push for it?

  (1615)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the investment arrangements within the agreement are fully reciprocal. They would operate under the same terms that we would operate, and one of the pieces that is particularly unique in ensuring that there is fairness and reciprocity in our negotiation and in protecting investors on both sides of the equation is the accelerated dispute resolution provision. This would create a fast, efficient, and functionally inexpensive way of ensuring that we could have accelerated dispute resolution in place to resolve disputes as they arise and protect our investors across both sides of the ocean.
    Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat fearful for the member that he has bought into the tremendous amount of spin that is coming out of the Prime Minister's office on this particular trade agreement. Let me give him a dose of reality with some facts.
    Korea is the one that actually put itself on a road to signing trade agreements throughout the world, and that was done back in 2003. In 2004, Canada, under then prime minister Paul Martin, initiated interest and started the process. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter there was a change in government and the new government decided to drag its feet. Not only countries like Chile, United States, and the European Union, but other countries have actually already signed and implemented agreements with Korea. Canada, on the other hand, has been very negligent on the file.
    My question for the member is this. Would he not acknowledge that, because of that negligence, there are certain industries, including the pork industry in my own province of Manitoba, that have lost out on opportunities because of the current government's lacklustre attitude in trying to get a trade agreement signed with Korea?
    Mr. Speaker, I clearly cannot agree with the member opposite, as his positioning of this is entirely wrong.
    It did begin in 2005 and it stalled in 2008. These agreements reached an impasse. I do not know if the member opposite has been involved in negotiations of any type, but clearly when in the middle of complex negotiations, it happens that one will reach these positions that are intractable and cause for impasse. It was rekindled in 2012.
    I agree that lost time is lost productivity and lost performance and business, so today, with 38 free trade agreements signed by this government in seven years, many more under way, and now this agreement coming to fruition, our government has clearly demonstrated leadership in bringing free trade opportunities to Canadians and businesses for more fruitful relationships with these countries. In this case, it would open up 50 million new consumers to Canadian small and medium-sized businesses.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Don Valley West for his strong support of our ambitious trade agenda as a government. I will make a quick comment before my question. I find it quite ironic that my Liberal friend talks about spin when the simple fact is that, of all the market access negotiated in free trade agreements for Canada, almost 98% is due to the Conservative government. The 2.5% is something about which the member should not be bragging.
    The member for Don Valley West is a strong champion for our automotive industry in Canada, and certainly it is important to my riding in Durham. Can he talk about how important this is, to ensure that our manufacturing lines in Ontario have access to as many markets as the production lines in the United States do?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is extremely relevant in this transaction, because the auto sector is the one that would be greatly affected on both sides of the ocean, both in Korea and in Canada.
    Currently, about 88% of all vehicles manufactured here in Canada are manufactured for export. For Canadian companies manufacturing their product here in this country, we have to ensure that we are supporting open markets. Clearly the agreement would do that. We have funds like the automotive innovation fund, which encourages investment in this country for manufacturing purposes. I hope that in the case of this agreement we would have Korean companies investing in new plants and facilities to ensure that their products would be built here, both for the export market and for sale in North America.

  (1620)  

[Translation]

    It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Drummond, The Environment.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou.
    Today we are talking about Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea. The NDP wants to strengthen trade ties between Canada and the Asia-Pacific region. We recognize that this is vital to Canada's prosperity in the 21st century. That being said, before signing off on anything, the NDP evaluates trade agreements according to important criteria. That is why it has often opposed these deals in the past.
    We feel it is important that our potential partners believe in democracy, human rights and labour laws. They should have adequate environmental standards that are in line with Canadian values. These details are very important. If there are problems in these areas, we must ask our partners to take steps to meet those objectives. That is important.
    South Korea is a democratic country but was under a dictatorship for a long time. Changes in a country's history do not happen overnight. The 1987 dictatorship did not disappear one day and it was all sunshine the next. It takes time to get used to living with our differences, which is why I am going to talk about a fundamental point.
    South Korea was under a dictatorship until 1987, at which time it became a multi-party and dynamic democracy that built a labour movement. That does not mean that everything is going perfectly well, either, but still, wages are good and civil society is beginning to organize.
    However, when we sign free trade agreements, we have to be aware of the true labour conditions in the other countries involved in the negotiations. We hope that they are like us in Canada, but that is not the reality. It is something else entirely.
    As a matter of principle, the NDP does not want to sign free trade agreements with dictatorships or totalitarian regimes like China. The NDP expects that countries that sign free trade agreements with us uphold human rights and are environmentally aware. Above all, they must respect workers' rights. The NDP wants to negotiate with countries that share these same fundamental rights that are so important to Canadians.
    Let us go back to South Korea and all the changes it went through. Having lived under a dictatorship myself, I can assure you that it takes time for meaningful change to occur within civil society and among those who held power for so long. It takes a long time for democracy to really take root and for real changes to emerge.
    I am not talking only about changes to legislation, since constitutions can be changed and highly productive people can be put to work in the institutions. I am also talking about changes in the social conscience, not only among workers, but also among those who hold political power and those who hold economic power. That is very important.
    The link between political and economic power should lead those people to adapt to a new vision. This does not happen overnight; it can take a generation before these changes really happen. People need to believe in the future and press on.
    To further my research on unions, I went to Amnesty International. I learned that a lot of things are happening in South Korea, but I still thought that we should not expect that country to be as advanced as ours. After reading some documents, I learned that this year there was a strike at Samsung and the union leader, Yeom Ho-seok, who was 34 years old, took his own life in his car on May 17.

  (1625)  

    This union leader explained his actions in a letter: “I sacrifice myself because I cannot bear to see any longer the sacrifice and pain of others as well as the difficult situation of fellow union members”. We are not talking about 1987; we are talking about 2014.
    Jamie Doucette, a lecturer in Human Geography at University of Manchester and an expert on labour and democratization in South Korea, explains that “Samsung's refusal to recognize itself as the employer of unionized workers conforms to a standard corporate practice in South Korea”.
    That is why I am saying that we cannot expect miracles. I think our Canadian companies really have a duty to help not only the leaders of South Korean companies but also the country's political leaders to understand what the real values of workers and unions are. In that sense, Canada has a lot to offer.
    We all know that South Korea has a very dynamic economy. Environmentally speaking, it has made real progress, which is a great thing. Its GDP is also very high.
    However, the situation of its workers really worries me. We must and we can do better with these agreements. This should be Canada's trademark. We are capable of exporting these visions and ways of doing things. That costs nothing. All we need to do is share best practices.
    I would like to go back in time a little. I am thinking about the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement that we signed back in 2008, but have discussed recently in Parliament.
    I was invited to go to Colombia last summer along with a group of Canadian union members and so I went. I had an opportunity to visit the country, although I was accompanied by journalists. It does not matter. I was able to see how little respect some Canadian companies showed their Colombian workers and how they felt entitled to pollute, which they would never do here in Canada, and certainly not in the way they are doing in Colombia.
    To conclude, we are going to support this agreement. However, I hope that we will take extra steps to ensure that workers' rights are upheld under these agreements.
    We, as members of Parliament, are about to allow major Canadian companies to set up shop in other countries. However, these companies must act as true ambassadors of Canadian values and of respect for working conditions and human rights.

  (1630)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for her wonderful speech and for the excellent presentation she gave on why we support this free trade agreement. However, it is very important to point out that we are not supporting it blindly.
    This free trade agreement contains a new clause that we are concerned about. Under this clause, large corporations will be able to take legal action against the Canadian government if they feel their free trade rights have been violated. However, the rights of governments should take precedence.
    Would my honourable colleague care to comment on that?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question. I completely agree with him.
    Who are the sovereigns of a country? They are the citizens of that country. Companies should not be telling them what to do. That aspect of the bill is worrisome.
    Since the negotiation of free trade agreements began, the sovereignty of people to make decisions about natural resources has been called into question. That is unacceptable.
    That has to change because we are starting to give certain companies power that will have an impact on us, right now, and on our children's future. It is the Canadian government that will have to pay. That is unbelievable.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we are now in the second day of a truly groundbreaking parliamentary session where the New Democrats, after 40 years, look like they will stand in the House and support a trade agreement.
    The NDP trade critic yesterday outlined the three criteria, in a very cogent speech in the House, on which the NDP judged these trade agreements.The first was democracy and respect for democracy. The second was strategic direction. He was not too clear on that. The third was terms that were satisfactory. However, in the hon. member's remarks she seems to contradict the NDP trade critic by saying that there is no respect for democracy, labour rights and that sort of thing.
    The member for Windsor West and the member for Parkdale—High Park have spoken very critically of a deal with Korea.
    Is she one of the members of the official opposition who does not agree with its overall position to support the deal and could she outline what parts of the three-pronged NDP tests she has issues with?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not think my colleague quite understood what I said. We can all agree that this sort of thing will take time for a country that was once a dictatorship.
    Korea has made great strides. This country survived for years under a system of oppression. We can make comparisons between Canada and Korea, but we are not the same. That is why we need to focus on that. It is true that there are unions in Korea and that is wonderful, but they are still weak compared to those in Canada.
    What do the NDP and Canadians expect? We expect to share our way of doing things so that the quality of life of workers in other countries improves. That does not mean that they do not have unions. They do, and they also have legal strikes.
    I am not contradicting my colleagues. I am simply providing additional information. What I am saying is that we cannot pretend that we are all the same. We have to understand each country's history. I believe that Canada can do more to improve working conditions. Canadian companies must not be allowed to profit from irregularities. On the contrary, Canada must set a good example for workers.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a huge privilege for me to be able to speak to Bill C-41. The New Democratic Party will be able to support the entire bill. Yes, the entire bill. However, when we get into the details, we will closely examine some aspects of it and will have suggestions for changes to improve the bill or, at the very least, consider potential renegotiations with South Korea on some aspects that could pose a problem.
    I have spoken about the investment-protection clauses on a number of occasions since this debate started. The NDP is not the only party to oppose this type of clause. The main opposition party in the South Korean national assembly opposes it as well, which is wonderful news. Once again, despite my repeated questions, the members of the government party in this House unfortunately were not able to tell me—I cannot imagine that they were refusing to answer—whether this is a requirement of the Government of Canada or whether Korea wanted to have this type of clause.
    That said, we can all agree on the heart of this debate, which is that the NDP supports this bill. This support is contingent on the status of this bill. It is at second reading and will go to the Standing Committee on International Trade to be studied and debated. Obviously, the NDP's support is very much related to the situation in South Korea. As the member for Honoré-Mercier so eloquently stated, the country now has much more solid democratic institutions. South Korea emerged from a rather repressive dictatorship in 1987. It has much freer legal, social and economic structures. Now there is freedom of speech and the union movement has gained support and legitimacy.
    I was looking at some figures from the OECD. In South Korea, the overall unionization rate is around 10%, whereas in Canada it is around 26% or 27%. According to my research, unionization rates are much higher in big Korean corporations—around 40% in the 10 largest Korean corporations, compared to the overall unionization rate. That is good news, but as the member for Honoré-Mercier pointed out, that does not prevent these big corporations from using appalling tactics to suppress union activism. Unfortunately, these tactics led one union leader to commit suicide because of what he saw, what he shared and what he heard from the people he represented.
    Fortunately, like Canada, Korea is evolving rapidly. Like my colleagues, I acknowledge that evolution, that march toward a future that we all believe will be much better. That being said, I was really very critical in previous debates on other bills related to other free trade agreements, such as the Canada-Honduras and Canada-Panama free trade proposals. I was really very critical of, among other things, the appearance of moral endorsement of countries plagued by corruption and crime as well as the inequality inherent in the negotiations. We can all agree that negotiations between Canada—a very rich country with some 35 million inhabitants—and very small countries—those with just a few million inhabitants and a per capita gross domestic product that is not in the same league as Canada's—can hardly be called negotiations between equals.

  (1635)  

    In these cases, we cannot say we negotiated on an equal footing. Nonetheless, with regard to the negotiations between South Korea and Canada, we are negotiating as equals, and that is excellent news.
    I must say that it was an honour and a privilege to sit on the Standing Committee on International Trade. Bilateral agreements are not as bad as multilateral negotiations where it is easy to leave out exceptional provisions, specific measures, and to be taken hostage by special interests, as we unfortunately see far too often in many negotiations between two countries. I know that this philosophy is widely shared by my NDP colleagues.
    As I pointed out in the beginning of my speech, the current free trade agreement raises a number of important questions. I wonder how far Canada pushed for certain clauses or whether it was the Republic of Korea that imposed its will relative to other negotiations.
    There was talk about access to government contracts, for instance, provincial and municipal government contracts as well as those associated with crown corporations. Fortunately, that is not part of the agreement, unlike the agreement between the European Union and Canada. Accordingly, we are supporting the free trade agreement.
    As a result of what happened with the European Union, we hope that through the negotiations we will get to know all the aspects of this agreement and ultimately vote on it after reviewing what might be improved and offering suggestions.
    I talked about protecting investors. Fortunately, we have a relatively open process in this agreement, compared with the much more opaque process we had for other free trade agreements. What is more, either party can withdraw with six months' notice, which is excellent news.
    I will use my two minutes remaining to talk about the carelessness of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party—there is no denying it—when it comes to the choice of partners Canada negotiates with. My Liberal colleagues went to great pains to criticize the Conservatives for dragging out the negotiations for a free trade agreement between South Korea and Canada. However, they are mum on how the agreements with Colombia, Panama and Honduras were fast tracked.
    Given the Conservatives' record, we should perhaps not be surprised by this discrepancy. The Conservative Party takes shortcuts and does not take the time to choose its partners. Furthermore, some very close friends of President Putin were not included in Canada's sanctions, which are completely warranted in light of the situation in Ukraine.
    In closing, I will draw a parallel to my time on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Passing stringent laws, much like signing free trade agreements, is of little value if they are not supported by a strategy and by concrete, robust and consistent means.

  (1640)  

    That is the modus operandi of the Conservative government. All too often it has become stuck on adopting measures without thinking them through and without supporting their implementation; above all, they are stuck on what I would call a certain magical thinking. I hope that if we adopt this free trade agreement, the means will soon follow, and I hope that the Conservatives will walk the talk, because this is an extraordinary opportunity for both our countries.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, once again, as I had said to his colleague, this is a transformative week in the House with the NDP supporting free trade for the first time. I would make note that just yesterday the head of the Unifor union called this deal a disaster from its standpoint, and the member raised some concerns with some of the labour provisions.
     I note that the head of the Ontario Federation of Labour also suggested that the announcement of the NDP on minimum wages was really done to hide its support of free trade.
     Therefore, have the New Democrats consulted with their supporters in organized labour in Canada in their consultations before making the decision to support this agreement and whether the minimum wage proposal was a concession in that regard, as Sid Ryan suggested just yesterday?

  (1645)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade for his question. The NDP approach in general consists of consulting all stakeholders party to a debate, negotiation or bill, which is not necessarily the government's approach. I have sat on three committees and I have seen the very strict selection criteria for witnesses, which is unfortunate. I find that deplorable.
    Having said that, I would like to point out to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade that when it comes to unions, all democratic states allow for freedom of association. I was looking at OECD figures before giving my speech. In 2007, the rate of unionization in Canada was 27% and in the democratic state of Israel, it was 33%.
    I would like to bring this figure to the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and to say to him that unions are partners of society and the economy, and that they are equal in value to any other partner.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the member is very much aware, the Liberal Party has indicated its support for the proposed Korea-Canada free trade agreement.
    Some concerns have been expressed over the last number of years relating to the automobile industry. It is an industry that is of vital importance to our country. It affects some provinces more than others, but it has interests throughout the country in its vitality and ongoing growth wherever possible.
     It is great to see this agreement as we have been waiting for it for a number of years.
     In certain other sectors we have fallen behind. I refer to my home province of Manitoba, for example, and the lost opportunities with relation to pork sales. Could the member comment on this? Because of the government's inability to negotiate this as quickly as other jurisdictions, whether it be Chile, the U.S. or the European Union, there will be a cost in lost opportunities. Does the member have any concerns or thoughts that he would like to share with respect to those lost opportunities because of the government dragging its feet on this issue?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we can certainly shift the topic of the debate to the costs associated with the delays in some rounds of negotiations. However, I would like to take my colleague down another path and ask him to consider the risks associated with blind adherence—for instance, adherence to an agreement whose terms we know nothing about, as is the case with the free trade agreement with the European Union.
    Clearly, the Liberal Party has a long history of wilful blindness. Consider the purchase of four used, inoperative submarines, which we are still paying for to this day. When you get involved in those kinds of processes, you have to take full responsibility. I say “full” because haste is a real danger.
    As for this free trade agreement, we must remember that the global conditions can be very difficult for a country like Canada. In the auto sector, there is no denying that competing countries like China and Brazil actively support their auto sectors to such a great extent that investment subsidies can reach as high as 60%; this is huge and very costly for everyone and it is preventing Canada from reaching its full potential.

  (1650)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Don Valley East.
    Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government's top priority is jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians. That is why we are working hard to open new markets to increase Canadian exports and investments in the world's most dynamic and fast-growing economies. This includes South Korea, an increasingly important country that is both a priority market and a natural partner for Canada.
    The Canada-Korea free trade agreement, Canada's first bilateral trade agreement with an Asian market, is projected to create thousands of jobs for Canadians by increasing Canada's GDP by $1.7 billion annually and our exports by about one-third over current levels.
    The agreement is critical to re-establishing a level playing field for Canadian companies in the South Korean market, where major foreign competitors from the U.S. and the European Union currently benefit from preferential access because of their respective free trade agreements with South Korea.
    The focus of my remarks today will be on the centrepiece of the agreement: the elimination of tariffs on virtually all trade between Canada and South Korea. Over 88% of Canada's exports would be duty free immediately and over 99% would be duty free once the agreement is fully implemented.
    The potential benefits from such a huge amount of Canadian exports becoming duty free is why we need this agreement urgently. We need to restore our competitive position in the South Korean market, as I noted earlier.
    The previous government ignored trade. While this Conservative government has been ambitious on behalf of Canadians, the Liberals offered only complacency. While the rest of the world moved forward, Liberals held Canadian enterprise back through their inattention, inaction, and incompetence.
    Fortunately, Canadians have, for almost nine years now, chosen to have steadier, more visionary hands at the helm. We are, under this Prime Minister's leadership, repairing the damage from 13 years of neglect.
    Over time, this agreement would result in the elimination of all South Korean tariffs on industrial goods, forestry and value-added wood products, and fish and seafood products. This is great news for workers in B.C., Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and my home province of Ontario, which needs every bit of good news on the economic front that it can find right now.
    It would also eliminate the vast majority of South Korea's agricultural tariffs, including in priority areas for Canada, such as beef, pork, grains, pulses, oilseeds, vegetable oil, and processed foods. This would lead to substantial gains in these sectors, given that these are the areas most heavily protected in South Korea.
    Allow me to go into detail on how tariff elimination would benefit Canadian exporters and workers in these industries and benefit the communities that depend upon them.
    In 2012, 1.8 million Canadians were employed in the production and manufacture of industrial materials, which would include aerospace and rail goods, automobiles, information technology products, metals and minerals, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. If there is something that can be manufactured, chances are a Canadian is either producing it or working on ways to improve it.
    With this agreement, over 96% of Canadian exports of industrial goods would be duty free immediately, more than 99% within five years, and the rest within 10 years.
    I want to note the excellent results of particular interest and importance to Canadian exporters in such diverse fields as information and communications technology, aerospace, and rail goods. These are sectors in which South Korean tariffs would be eliminated immediately, creating new opportunities for companies in these sectors to expand their international business while at the same time creating jobs here at home. In the case of aerospace, over 80% of the sector's output is exported. This sector provides direct and indirect employment to 170,000 Canadians.
    As well, there are very positive outcomes in the industrial machinery, chemicals, plastics, metals and minerals, pharmaceuticals, and textiles and apparel sectors, where most South Korean tariffs would be eliminated immediately and the rest within five years.
    This would mean reduced barriers for these products in South Korea and an improved competitive position for Canadian exports. This is critical to industries such as chemicals and plastics, which export over half of their production abroad.
    I would also note that South Korea is one of the world's largest energy importers, and Canada, of course, is a large and stable supplier.

  (1655)  

    While Canada does not currently export liquefied natural gas to South Korea, this agreement will result in the immediate elimination of South Korea's 3% tariff on LNG, thereby enhancing the prospects for energy exports to Asia from Canada's west coast.
    I will now move on to forestry and value-added wood products, another industry that contributes substantially to Canada's economy. Under the CKFTA, 85% of our exports to South Korea would be duty free immediately, including pulp, paper, and some lumber products. Within three years of implementation, 98% of our exports in this sector will be duty free, and the rest will be duty free within five to 10 years. This will help our industry to diversify into Asian markets and to reduce its dependence on the U.S. market. It will also allow value-added wood product exporters in Ontario and B.C. to compete on an even footing with our competitors in the South Korean market.
    I saved the best for last. From primary agriculture and processing to retail and food service, the agriculture and agri-food industry accounts for one in eight jobs in Canada and for 6.7% of Canada's GDP. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement will result in significant benefits for Canadian producers and exporters through the elimination of South Korean tariffs on around 70% of our exports in the agricultural sector within five years and on 97% of our exports once the agreement is fully implemented.
    This is particularly important for my area in southern Ontario, the Region of Waterloo, and in particular the riding of Kitchener—Conestoga, which I am privileged to have been elected to serve three times now. We are blessed to live in a community where the 100-mile diet is a privilege, not a chore. We are home to Canada's largest year-round farmers' market.
    Food processing is one of the largest employment sectors in my area. The farmers I represent will be pleased to know that for beef and pork, we have achieved tariff elimination over periods ranging from five to 15 years. This is the same tariff outcome for beef that the U.S. and Australia obtained in their respective FTAs with South Korea, and it will level the playing field among Canadian, U.S., and European exporters for Canada's top-traded pork lines.
    This means that producers and exporters like Conestoga Meat Packers, a co-operative of 160 southern Ontario family farmers, can compete on an equal footing to provide the large and growing market in South Korea with high-quality Canadian meat products. In fact, when I learned that I would have the privilege of speaking to this topic today, I contacted Conestoga Meats directly to get a first-hand perspective on this trade agreement. Conestoga's president, Arnold Drung, states that this agreement will solidify more than 50 jobs at his plant alone. In fact, it is already investing in new equipment and technology that will enable it to ship fresh product to the Korean market. He concluded by saying, “Our congratulations to the Government of Canada on concluding this important agreement.”
    This agreement is important to all Canadians farmers, not just pork producers. For other agricultural products, we will receive immediate duty-free access for key Canadian export interests such as wheat, frozen french fries, and fur skins. This agreement will also provide for tariff elimination over time or for duty-free within-quota volumes for a variety of other agricultural products, such as barley, malt, wheat flour, soybeans, canola oil, forages, pulses, blueberries, and many processed foods.
    Overall, the tariff elimination package represents a very strong outcome for Canada, particularly given that South Korea's current tariffs are, on average, three times higher than ours. This agreement compares very favourably to what our competitors obtained in their agreements with South Korea.
    Despite all the evidence that trade creates jobs, economic growth, and economic security for hard-working Canadian families, there do remain special interests who told us free trade with the U.S. would put an end to our sovereignty, who then told us that NAFTA would bring economic ruin, and who made similar fearmongering statements about free trade with Europe.
    The Liberals completely neglected trade and took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets. The last time the Liberals talked about free trade was when they campaigned to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement. Of course that promise was ignored, as were their promises on child care, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating the GST, and protecting health care.

  (1700)  

    Stakeholders from across Canada, in all sectors, have called for this CKFTA to enter into force without delay to secure Canada's competitive position in the South Korean market.
     We must pass this legislation quickly so Canadians can access the benefits and opportunities of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement as soon as possible.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his very good speech in the House. However, I would like to talk to him about two things.
    I do not know how many of our Conservative colleagues are talking about us being radical. I just want to point out that we support this agreement. We have important and essential values. We must absolutely do business with democracies, and the country's labour conditions must be good and decent, obviously.
    Therefore, we support the bill. I want to ask a question that I think is a bit amusing. If we do not support it, what would the hon. member say about us? I am curious to hear his answer. Let us say that we do not support it; what would he say? Would he say that we are monsters or nightmares? However, we do support it. Is that clear for all the members opposite?
    My colleague from Beauport—Limoilou brought up something very important. Signing agreements with democracies is all well and good, but moving forward requires that there be a plan. We are still stalled in my riding, meaning that every SME is criticizing the management of research and development funding. This was true three years ago, it was true two years ago, and it is still true now. I hear about it at dinners with business people. We cannot compete with Asia if we do not have strong research and development support. In Asia, they are obsessed with research and development, and new technology.
    What does my colleague think about that aspect of the problem?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague must have been listening to a different speech, because I never used the term “radical”.
    When I was preparing my speech and I found out I was in agreement with some of my colleagues in the NDP, I certainly thought I had better check my facts to make sure I was really on the right track.
    To my knowledge, this is one of the first, if not the first free trade agreement the NDP has ever supported. It is great news, and I thank the NDP for that support.
    Getting back to research and development, our government has shown, time and time again, that our investments in research and development and innovation are second to none.
     When it comes to the agricultural sector, which I was referring to in my speech, the farmers in my area are not interested in going to the mailbox to get a cheque from the Government of Canada. What they want is the ability to compete on a level playing field.
     Conestoga Meat Packers, which processes 4,000 hogs a day, is owned by the farmers. Farmers want us to invest in research and development that will help them to have traceability for their products as they are marketed overseas, and to assure their customers that they have the highest quality product that is available anywhere in the world.
     It is our innovation, our research and development in the agricultural sector, that has helped them to do that.
    Mr. Speaker, it was nice to hear the member reference the 100-mile diet.
    One of the sectors within the 100 miles of the riding that the member opposite represents is the auto sector. That is the one sector that is the most nervous, and worry continues to circle it as we talk about this trade deal.
    We support this trade deal, but does the member opposite not realize that, by not supporting the auto sector as strongly as the government could have, the very industries he talks about in his riding may lose customers at home as auto workers may lose their jobs in a very fragile market?
    Mr. Speaker, again, this just shows the kind of fearmongering that was here when NAFTA was signed.
    We know that over 80% of the cars we produce in this country are exported. To suggest that by signing this free trade agreement with Korea we would somehow put auto jobs in jeopardy is simply not factual.
    We also have some very clear protections in this agreement, which are sometimes referred to as snapback protections. Our protections are much higher than those offered to the U.S. in the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement.
    It is pretty clear that, in the negotiations to get this agreement in place, all the due diligence was done. Canada has done a great job of protecting the auto sector. By the way, the auto sector supports this free trade agreement. Across the areas I represent, the auto sector is supportive because it does recognize the many benefits to all of the other sectors, which will benefit all workers in Ontario.

  (1705)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak today about the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, or CKFTA. This agreement is Canada's first FTA in Asia. It is a landmark agreement for Canada that would create thousands of jobs for hard-working Canadians.
    The CKFTA also represents a watershed for the Canada-Korea bilateral relationship.
     No government in Canada's history has been more committed to creating jobs and prosperity for Canadian businesses, workers, and their families. Deepening Canada's trading relationships in dynamic and high-growth markets around the world, like South Korea, is key to these efforts.
    Trade between Canada and South Korea is already significant, with two-way merchandise goods of just under $11 billion last year and two-way investment approaching $6 billion.
    The agreement is expected to significantly boost bilateral commerce and, in turn, economic growth in both countries. On our side, the projection is that the CKFTA would increase Canada's GDP by $1.7 billion annually and our exports by about one-third over current levels. Those are significant numbers.
    Most importantly, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would restore a level playing field for Canadian companies in the South Korean market, where foreign competitors including the U.S. and the EU are already enjoying preferential access due to their respective FTAs with South Korea. For Canada this was a crucial consideration as we have seen our exports to South Korea fall sharply, particularly in the wake of the Korea-U.S. deal that was implemented in 2012.
     The enhanced market access and regulatory commitments would be on par with the best treatment provided to any foreign companies, including from the U.S. and the EU.
    Turning to investment, while Canada and South Korea enjoy a well-established relationship, there is considerable scope for expansion above current levels—about $5 billion in South Korean investment in Canada and $534 million in Canadian investment in South Korea.
    Canada benefits from greater foreign direct investment. Canadian foreign direct investment in South Korea would improve our access to South Korean markets, technology, and expertise and enhance the competitiveness of Canadian firms in Asia.
     Greater South Korean investment in Canada would stimulate economic growth and job creation here at home, providing new technologies and increased competition in the Canadian marketplace, ultimately benefiting Canadian consumers. In addition to financial services, which I mentioned, key sectors that stand to benefit from the agreement include automotive parts, transportation, and telecommunications.
    Yet despite all the evidence that trade creates jobs, economic growth, and economic security for hard-working Canadian families, the NDP, together with its activist-group allies, is and always will be ideologically opposed to trade.
    Just as bad are the Liberals who, during 13 years in power, took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets. The last time the Liberals tried to talk seriously about trade, they campaigned to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement.
    The investment chapter of the CKFTA provides strong disciplines against discriminatory treatment as well as protection from expropriation and access to independent investor state dispute settlement.
    These and other provisions would put Canadian investors on a level playing field with their competitors in South Korea and provide investors from both countries with greater certainty and transparency and protection for their investments, while preserving the full right of governments to regulate in the public interest.
    Canada has also maintained its ability to review foreign investments under the Investment Canada Act, and decisions made under the ICA could not be challenged under the agreement's dispute settlement provisions.

  (1710)  

    In the area of government procurement, now a $100 billion-plus market in South Korea, the FTA would give Canadian suppliers access to procurement by South Korean central government entities for contracts valued above $100,000. This would put Canadian suppliers on an equal footing with U.S. competitors and in a more advantageous position relative to key competitors like Japan and the EU.
    Strong intellectual property rights provided for in this agreement would complement access to the South Korean market for Canadians who develop and market innovative and creative products. New protection for geographical indications “Canadian whiskey” and “Canadian rye whiskey” would secure the national brand recognition for Canadian distillers in the South Korean market.
    The intellectual property outcomes would also be also covered by the FTA's dispute settlement procedure, which would give Canadian copyright, patent, and trademark owners an additional layer of protection in the South Korean market.
    Our Conservative government understands the importance of trade to our economy. It represents one out of every five jobs in Canada and accounts for 64% of our country's annual income. We are proud of our record on trade because of the benefits trade brings to Canadians in all regions of our country and in all industries.
    To put it simply, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement is a historic initiative that would strengthen our trade and investment ties across the Pacific, increase the prosperity of both countries, and result in job creation and enhanced opportunities for Canadian and Korean businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises, as well as investors, workers, and consumers.
    Canadian stakeholders from across Canada have called for the CKFTA to enter into force without delay to secure Canada's competitive position in the South Korean market. We must pass this legislation to implement the CKFTA so that Canadians can access the benefits and opportunities of this agreement as soon as possible.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this is my question for my Conservative colleague: Canadian exporters have lost 30% of the market since 2012, when the United States and the European Union implemented free trade agreements with South Korea. The two nations gained preferential access for their companies. Why was the government so slow to act, and why did it end up with an agreement that is not as good as the one that our other two economic partners got?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, if my colleague looked closely at the agreements between South Korea and the EU and the U.S., he would find that our agreement is in fact much better in terms of all the different aspects of the duties and implementation.
    On the implementation, as my colleague said previously, these negotiations take time. At the same time, we have been negotiating with Europe as well as India and a number of other deals, and so this agreement took its place in priority to be completed.
    We are here now, we are at the place where the agreement is ready. We just need to ratify it here and get on with it.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on the question that was just posed.
    Since the current Prime Minister was first elected, this file has been on his desk. The government had the opportunity to move forward in negotiations with South Korea, but chose to make it low profile in terms of trade. There were other trade agreements the government put a higher priority on, whether they were with Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, or other countries.
     Why does the member believe that the current Prime Minister put such a low priority on South Korea, considering the other countries that I have referenced, which I will reference again when I get the opportunity to speak? Why was there such a low priority on South Korea?

  (1715)  

    Mr. Speaker, while my colleague thinks this was put on a low priority, that is his perspective, not ours on this side.
     We have been working diligently with the negotiators to make sure the deal was acceptable to us and beneficial for Canadians. All Canadians across every province of this country would benefit from this. The negotiations went on to achieve that, and that was the time it took to actually get it here to be ratified.
    Mr. Speaker, while Korea obviously has a much stronger democracy and human rights record than countries the government has signed agreements with, such as Honduras, New Democrats are still opposed to the investor state provisions in this agreement. However, unlike the Canada-China FIPA agreement, which ties the government's hands for 31 years, this agreement can be renegotiated or cancelled after six months. Therefore, we see that as a positive thing because we disagree with the investor rights provisions of this agreement.
    My question for the member opposite is this. Considering that the Canadian government did not get the same protections that the U.S. was able to secure, what is the government going to do to ensure that Canada's auto industry can benefit from this agreement?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments on the agreement and I appreciate her support for the bill.
    Certainly, there are provisions in the agreement to support the auto industry. They are mainly to do with the auto parts that are involved. This agreement would allow them to be manufactured in Canada, hopefully, at some point and benefit the workers here. Therefore, this is a positive statement in terms of Canada and Korea with regard to the auto industry.
    Mr. Speaker, my question is related to investor state dispute settlements. I think my colleague mentioned that it would put both investors at the same level. A couple of states, even Germany, just talked about the Canada-EU trade deal, saying that these kinds of dispute settlements are not beneficial for the people and the state.
    I am wondering what makes it so important in every single trade deal the government has negotiated to include dispute settlement in its basic principles. What is it that makes it so important for Canada to include a dispute settlement agreement in every single one of the trade deals it has negotiated?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question from my colleague. Clearly, in any agreement there are going to be disputes. There are interpretations of the text in a particular field or segment of the marketplace and clearly those differences need to be resolved. That is why every deal has a dispute settlement process. This one in particular, I believe, is one of the better dispute settlement processes, which allows disputes to be settled quicker than in some of the other agreements.
    Before we resume debate, I will let the hon. member for Winnipeg North, who will be next up, know that we only have 10 minutes remaining in the time allowed for government orders today. He may be intending to go longer than that and if so, he will have time remaining when the House next resumes debate on the question. I will give him a signal in the usual course, a couple of minutes before the end of government orders at 5:30 p.m.

  (1720)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the heads up on that. I will probably have to continue tomorrow. Fortunately, I will be here tomorrow.
    This is an interesting issue, a very important issue to debate, and it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to the bill.
    I like to think the Liberal Party has been very consistent over the last number of decades in regard to the importance of trade. Canada is a trading nation. We are very dependent on our exportation and importation, but it is our exportation that has really enabled us to have the type of lifestyle we have in comparison to any other country in the world. We need to trade with other nations. With this particular agreement, I was quite encouraged with New Democrats recently making a decision, and it is a somewhat historic decision, to support a trade deal, so I commend them on that.
    Having said that, over the decades we have been very supportive because we recognize the immense and tremendous value that trade has for each and every one of us, no matter what region of the country we live in. Finding where we can assist and help facilitate that trade is something that is very important for us. In the last couple of decades, there has been a movement toward signing and trying to accomplish trade agreements between different nations. Ultimately, this is in Canada's best interest. It is one of the reasons we take this file very seriously. We want to support, in principle, the government moving forward and signing a trade agreement.
    Having said that, I would suggest the Conservatives on the other hand have been a little boastful in the wrong places. I am always amazed by every Conservative who speaks to this particular trade agreement, one would think there is a direct funnel or email blast that goes out to every Conservative member of Parliament and whoever does their speeches, which comes directly from the Prime Minister's Office, because they are so consistent with what the Prime Minister wants them to say about this particular agreement, trade in general, jobs in general. There is no variation. This is because the Prime Minister's Office has such a tight grip on the Conservative members. I am sure they must realize that often what they are talking about is simply not true. One would think that they would not say it if they knew it was not true, but they go ahead and say it anyway. It is almost as if someone from the PMO is monitoring what is being said inside the chamber, and the member gets a little star beside their name if their speech contains one of those PMO spin points. It is truly amazing.
    I have asked the question on several occasions specifically in regard to the Korean deal. The Conservatives like to stand on a pedestal and say they are the first, or they have accomplished something that the Liberals could not and how wonderful they are, “Please assist us in patting ourselves on the back for a job well done”. That is the type of attitude.
    Let us put it into a proper perspective for all those backbenchers, the minions that receive that bulk email blast that comes directly from the Prime Minister's Office. This is what is not in that email. I would suggest they might want to listen to it.
    It was back in 2003 that Korea, not Canada, made the decision that they wanted to progressively pursue trade agreements with other nations.
    An hon. member: The Liberals should have done that.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, the member from across the aisle heckles that the Liberals should have acted on it. My colleague from Montreal is right, we did.

  (1725)  

    Paul Martin acted on it within the year. Within the year, we had action being taken by the Paul Martin government, because the Liberals recognized it, as we had in the past. It is not unique. When we talk about the other countries, whether it is Honduras, and I made reference to El Salvador, those are all agreements. Yes, the Conservatives did sign on the line, but they were actually initiated under Paul Martin or Jean Chrétien. However, the Conservatives will still take the credit. That is fine; they did sign them.
    Getting back to Korea, in 2003, Korea had this ambitious road that it wanted to go on in terms of free trade agreements. The Paul Martin government acted on it right away. What did the current Prime Minister do with it? He did not even put it on the back burner. He took it completely off the stove. He did nothing on the file. It sat for years. Then, all of a sudden, the United States signed up. The European Union signed up with Korea. Now, all of a sudden, we have a government that says, “No, no no. We are negotiating this agreement and we want to have a free trade agreement with Korea”. It is somewhat late to get a little anxious.
    What has happened because the government fell asleep on the job? It is not only the U.S. and the European Union. Even countries like Chile and Peru beat Canada to the punch, and we have a huge vested interest.
    I come from the province of Manitoba, where the pork industry is a very important industry. I can tell members that pork sales have been lost because of the Conservative government's incompetence and inability to be able to come up with an agreement with South Korea in a more timely fashion—
    An hon. member: The hog farm moratorium.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, the hog moratorium from the provincial NDP did have an impact, too. I will acknowledge that.
    Having said that, there could have been more pork sales from Manitoba to Korea, but because countries like the U.S. beat Canada to it, because the Prime Minister made it such a low priority, many of my pork producers and manufacturers in Manitoba have lost out. This is because of the Conservative government and its inability to recognize the important value of having this as a higher priority.
    That is the reason I put it into a question to a number of Conservative members who stood up. Before they start patting themselves on the back, they should fire back a reply email to the Prime Minister's Office and ask why they waited. Why did we take so long? How did we allow countries such as Chile and Peru, the European Union and the U.S. to beat us in coming up with a free trade agreement with South Korea? That is important.
    What about trade as a whole? We want to talk about falling asleep at the switch in terms of one agreement. Imagine, if members will, a graph. Under that graph, we have Jean Chrétien and the Liberals and Paul Martin and the Liberals for 13 years. We have this graph at zero, where we have a trade surplus on the top of that graph. That is where will find Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and the Liberal governments during the 1990s and all the way up. That is when we had the trade surpluses.
    What do members think happened when the current Prime Minister took office? It is a sad story. It plummeted down. We went below that centre point and we have had a huge trade deficit. The Conservatives took a surplus in trade and turned it into a deficit.
    What does that mean for the middle class today in Canada? It means that thousands upon thousands of jobs have been lost because the Conservative government did not understand the file on trade. It might like to talk about trade as if it is the great champion of trade, but if we take a look at the facts, they will clearly demonstrate that there is only one party in the House of Commons that understands international trade, and that is the Liberal Party.
    The sooner the Conservatives realize that, the sooner they should be coming over to us and asking for good ideas, and starting to act on our ideas. That will result in more trade.
    I will be able to continue tomorrow.

  (1730)  

    The hon. member for Winnipeg North will have 10 minutes remaining when this matter returns before the House.
    It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

Corporate Social Responsibility of Extractive Corporations Outside Canada Act

    The House resumed from June 3 consideration of the motion that Bill C-584, An Act respecting the Corporate Social Responsibility Inherent in the Activities of Canadian Extractive Corporations in Developing Countries, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House tonight to speak to Bill C-584. This is a bill that has tapped a number of themes that keep surfacing from the opposition members from time to time, who show a profound lack of understanding of the extractive industry here in Canada and globally. That should not be surprising, coming from a party that is essentially opposed to private sector job creation.
     I am going to use my time before the House to talk about what Canada is doing in terms of corporate social responsibility and to point out a few of the fallacies in the ideas behind the all-magical ombudsman with a magic wand that many of the members of the NDP seem to think will eradicate problems that have not even been shown to be rooted in operations of Canadian companies around the world.
    Several years ago, in 2009, our government announced an ambitious program on corporate social responsibility. This came as a result of industry and NGO feedback on company operations around the world generally and on the extractive industries of mining and oil and gas specifically.
    Canada has many leading operators in these areas, and Toronto is the global centre for mining finance. In many ways Canada has a tremendous, robust, and diverse economy, and although we are not world leaders in a lot of things, I am happy to say that our capital markets in Toronto have a long history of being the centrepiece of financing for such operations and that they do so in a way that is transparent and accountable to investors here in our markets.
    The strategy the government embarked upon was based on four pillars for Canadian operators working internationally.
    The CSR strategy's first pillar is capacity-building within countries internationally to make sure that the investment is not just in a mine or an operation but that capacity is built around the economic activity generated by the investment in that country.
    We have to remember, as witnesses have told us at committee and as I have been told in my consultations, that in some of these countries there is massive unemployment and a big disparity in wealth. Some of the employers end up being some of the largest investors and employers in the country.
    As part of my outreach on the corporate social responsibility program, the government heard from groups such as Engineers Without Borders that capacity-building, in terms of a local supplier or a local procurement network in that country, can actually have a multiplying effect. It is not just the mine or the exploration efforts; people in the country are being employed in the supply, logistics, transport, and geo-engineering aspects of these projects. That capacity-building piece is the first pillar.
    The second pillar is promoting international corporate social responsibility guidelines. There are many of these guidelines in operation right now that many corporations in Canada and abroad use to try to bring best practices to their own operations. The World Bank has guidelines. In Canada, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada has published its guidelines. Those guidelines are among some of the most ambitious out there, and they try to encourage their members to follow them.
    The third pillar of our strategy was the creation of the corporate social responsibility counsellor. The first counsellor was Dr. Marketa Evans, and I will speak a little more about her work in a moment.
    The role of the counsellor was not only to help educate people and review practices that industry was adopting with respect to corporate social responsibility but also to play an important function in conflict resolution through dialogue. If time permits, I will try to show the hon. colleague who brought this bill forward how that goal is far more attainable and far more pragmatic than the suggestions in her bill before the House today.

  (1735)  

    Conflict resolution through dialogue can be the goal of the CSR counsellor.
    Finally, the fourth pillar was to try to build a centre of excellence here in Canada around corporate social responsibility. That plays well on our strengths that I already referred to: Canada as a centre of excellence in terms of the financial capital markets for mining and the extractive industries, and some of our Canadian players that are also large employers in our economy.
    In my role as parliamentary secretary for international trade, I had the distinct pleasure of reaching out in our five-year review of the corporate social responsibility platform our government embarked upon in 2009. That review involved direct consultations. I had direct consultations with civil society organizations and NGOs, direct consultations with industry players and industry associations. As well, I had consultations with Dr. Marketa Evans, the CSR counsellor who is no longer in the role, but helped open the office through her work.
     I would like to thank Dr. Evans for her work. She had 100-plus engagement sessions with industry on CSR practices and their operations globally, bringing the second pillar I referred to earlier, that international CSR performance guideline, and bringing that approach to industry. Beyond that, Dr. Evans also tried to bring some of the best practices she had from her experience in the NGO world prior to becoming the CSR counsellor. She followed directly, in many cases, the World Bank policies with respect to corporate social responsibility and practices worldwide.
     It was interesting that in the consultations I had with civil society groups, they saw there was great potential with a lot of the elements of CSR programs that some players and industries are doing. The biggest I found in my consultations was this capacity building, our first pillar, where the investment of a Canadian company into another country, particularly a developing country, is the opportunity for this local procurement and supply network. Groups like Engineers Without Borders and others found that not only did it have a multiplier effect, meaning more jobs for men and women on the ground in these countries with huge unemployment, but also over time, if the investment of development or exploration of a mine ended, in a lot of cases that peripheral work and that local supply network could lead to a vibrant local economy.
    We also heard from some of the NGOs, such as World Vision, that have worked on some of our approaches trying to bring together industry, DFATD, the international development of our foreign affairs, and an NGO actor on the ground in these countries. That is important because somebody in Ottawa, be it a senior civil servant or an ombudsman, is not on the ground in these countries, but in a lot of cases the NGOs are. The NGOs in some cases, like World Vision, have decades of experience operating on the ground. If we can work with their development expertise and have a multiplier from government and a multiplier from industry, why would that not be good?
    When the member introduced this bill on June 3, she said, “We are not talking about the Smurfs here.... We are talking about people whose rights are being violated, people who are displaced without their consent...”. Certainly there is a lot of concern about crime, displacement and troubles in a lot of these countries, but this is a serious issue and our CSR policies are serious approaches.

  (1740)  

    The final thing I would add is in regard to an ombudsman, which the member is proposing in this bill. She said an ombudsman would have real powers to investigate. Someone in Ottawa does not have investigative powers in foreign countries, and never would.
    Our four-pillar plan is a prudent approach, and I would ask the opposition to support it.
    Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to share some thoughts in regard to Bill C-584.
    At the outset, I want to say that as a caucus, Liberals have had the opportunity to go through the member's bill. My colleague from Montreal has already had the opportunity to speak to it at second reading. We have indicated that we do support the bill going to committee, because we do think there is a great deal of value. It is about ethical standards.
    The House of Commons can play a role in terms of ensuring there is more corporate responsibility when it comes to international affairs, especially in the area of development proposals and mining, for example, in some of the underdeveloped countries. We recognize the value of that. In fact, other members in our caucus have attempted to do something of a similar nature, in the sense of trying to raise the bar for Canadian corporations that do business beyond our borders.
     In particular, most recently the member for Scarborough—Guildwood introduced Bill C-300. I had the opportunity to speak to that bill. From what I can recall, it dealt with mining and oil and gas companies. It would have ensured there was a sense of transparency through an annual reporting, including showing payments. I use that as an example.
     I have heard some of the comments from the government in terms of this type of legislation, and the government tends to want to resist or turn down the legislation. I think that is a mistake. There is a great deal of value in seeing legislation of this nature advance through the process.
     I believe it would have been a great value for my colleague's bill, Bill C-300, to have gone to the next level. It came very close, in terms of the actual vote. I believe that a number of members from the Conservative Party saw the merit in that particular bill.
    In essence, the bill did what was currently happening in the United States, in that standards are set in legislation. The U.S. is not the only country in the world that has already done that. My colleague, on behalf of the Liberal Party, in his particular initiative attempted to do something here in Canada that was actually being done in other countries. It would have had a very positive impact.
    I listened to the previous speaker when he talked about his three- or four-point plan, and it seemed to me that the government is not open, from a legislative perspective, to playing a stronger international leadership role.
    I believe Canada has good reason to get involved, and good reason to pass legislation of this nature.
    Recently the Canadian Human Rights Museum, one of our national museums, opened in my home city of Winnipeg. That museum is all about human rights and the importance of human rights. If this bill were to see the light of day and it passed, it would go a long way in dealing with some of those human rights issues that we often hear about.
    We need to be aware that it is a very small world nowadays. There are many different forms of media. Constituents are very much aware of world issues today, and this is one of those issues that is raised on an ongoing basis.
    A year or so ago, I visited a high school just outside of Winnipeg North. There was a group of students from grade 11 or grade 10, who wanted to talk about what role Canada should be playing in terms of corporate social responsibility in developing countries.

  (1745)  

    This is very admirable. It is encouraging t