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41st PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 132

CONTENTS

Monday, October 27, 2014




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 147 
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NUMBER 132 
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2nd SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayers



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

  (1105)  

[English]

Canada Elections Act

    On the Order: Private Members' Business

    October 16, 2013—Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs of Bill C-524, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (election advertising)—Mr. Kevin Lamoureux.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg North is not present to move the order as announced in today's notice paper. Accordingly, the item will be dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

Suspension of Sitting 

    We will suspend until 12 o'clock.

    (The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:05 a.m.)

Sitting Resumed  

    (The House resumed at 12 p.m.)


GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

  (1200)  

[English]

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)

    The House resumed from October 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-35, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-35, also known as Quanto's law. It would amend the Criminal Code regarding law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals. I support the bill at second reading, though I hope that some work will be done to it in committee.
    First of all, it would be remiss of me if I did not acknowledge what happened last Wednesday and what it felt like to be back in my riding over the weekend. I can tell members that wherever I went in my riding, people were deeply concerned. They were very thankful for our safety, but they were also very sad about Corporal Nathan Cirillo.
    For many of them, to see their MP back in their riding and back doing the work of Parliament gave them a certain amount of reassurance. I remember talking to some constituents about other MPs as well. Many of the constituents expressed that it was good that we were not going to let what happened last Wednesday make us take drastic steps. We should let the authorities do their work and the investigation, and we need a very measured response to what happened.
    Absolutely, we need to review things, but right now, we are thinking of Corporal Cirillo. We are also thinking of his six-year-old son, his family and his friends.
    I also want to acknowledge our heartfelt gratitude to all of the men and women in uniform in our building here, and those who came in, who risked their lives. They put themselves in harm's way in order to ensure the safety not only of the MPs but of the young children visiting and the other members of the public and the staff on the Hill as well.
    It is these kinds of tragedies that remind us that Canada is a multicultural nation. It is a nation that loves. For me, I was so touched this weekend, because for so many people, that is what it was about. Let us not look at our neighbours with different sets of eyes. Let us just hold hands and get through this together. I felt that over and over again.
    Many of the religious places helped, whether they were a masjid, or mosque as many of us would say, a gurdwara, a mandir, or a church. Many held prayers over the weekend. Once again, they were prayers of gratitude and prayers acknowledging what has happened. People were praying that we continue to be the peaceful nation that we are, that we continue to love as we have always done, and that we continue to be inclusive.
    It would have felt strange if I had not said a few of those things today in light of what happened last week, but as we are here to do the business of the people and debate the bill, I will get back to talking about this particular piece of legislation.
    As we all know, this legislation is now being labelled as “Quanto's law”, which is in memory of the Edmonton Police Service dog that was stabbed to death while trying to stop a fleeing suspect in October 2013. Paul Joseph Vukmanich pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and other offences, including evading the police. He was sentenced to 26 months in prison and banned from owning a pet for 25 years.
    We all know the important role that enforcement animals, military animals and service animals play, and we are all very concerned when any harm is done to them deliberately. It is because of this that the bill is here.

  (1205)  

    Having come from a family that has had dogs for many years, since the kids were little, it is very hard for me, and I think for many of us in this room, to imagine how someone could attack a dog or any other service animal. However, it does happen. When I was telling my grandchildren that we would be debating the bill, my granddaughter's reaction was, “Why is it only for law enforcement animals?”, so I explained the background of the bill to her. Of course, she still cries about Buddy, who passed away a while ago, every time she looks at her photos. Our pets are very close to us.
    However, we have some concerns with Bill C-35, even though we are supporting sending it to committee. Once again, our concerns point to something we have seen all too often. When we see a piece of legislation come forward, it does not matter what it purports to do, because when one looks at the details, there is always a little twist in there that makes it more difficult for us to see what it would entail. However, there are two areas of the bill that cause us major concern, and it will not be news to anybody, because I have expressed concern about minimum and consecutive sentences before. The introduction of minimum and consecutive sentences causes us great concern, and we will bring amendments at the committee stage.
    I am hoping, unlike in the past, that we will see a certain level of co-operation from the government side so that we can address the legislation in the way that parliamentarians are supposed to in a democracy. The opposition at committee stage and in the House plays a critical role in pointing out flaws in a bill, and a good government, one that believes in democracy and the parliamentary process, would heed some of that input, accept amendments and then have a robust debate.
    What would Bill C-35 do?
    Concretely, the bill would amend section 445 of the Criminal Code. It would create a new offence for killing or injuring a service animal, law enforcement animal or military animal while the animal is on duty. It would set a minimum sentence of six months if a law enforcement animal is killed while an offence is being perpetrated, and it would provide for the sentence imposed on a person to be served consecutively to any other punishment imposed for an offence arising out of the same event or series of events.
    Members can see the difficulties we have with the bill, which are points two and three that I just made. As in much of the legislation that has come from across the way, including omnibus legislation, which is usually thicker than the phone books in most municipalities in the country, the devil is always in the details.
    I have to express my deep concern that here we have a laudable bill that could have gone through with much speed, although the government across the way has other ways to achieve that speed. However, the bill could have gone through, but it has been tainted by the introduction of minimum sentencing, which clearly reflects the repressive agenda that the government is bringing forward. Once again, it would tie the hands of our judiciary, and once again it would have the legislative branch hampering the work and independence of the judiciary.

  (1210)  

    Even before the judge in question or a jury hear the case, the sentence has been predetermined, and that is disconcerting. The sentence may have happened anyway, or it might have even been a longer sentence, but once again it takes away the judiciary's discretion.
     I want my colleagues across the way to think seriously about the consequences of minimum and consecutive sentencing on the criminal justice system. If crime could be solved just by putting people in prison, then the U.S. would have no crime today. Many states spend more on prisons than on many of their other programs. If just putting somebody in prison could solve the issue, then the U.S. would be crime free.
    We hear about overcrowding in our prisons. We have heard testimony to that end with regard to another bill. That creates a concern as well.
    My major concern is that we would be tying the hands of the judiciary. We would be taking away the jobs of those who are appointed to make judgments.
    Hope springs eternal, in me at least, and I am sure in many of us. I am still hopeful that the government will not use many of the tools that it has used before to silence debate in the House.
     Legislation has been sent to committees where no witnesses have been heard, and I am talking about a major piece of legislation that would have redefined citizenship. The government's majority on the committee used bullying tactics and time allocation to make sure the legislation was pushed through without hearing from any expert witnesses. A closure motion was brought forward only last week. My colleagues across the way seem to feel that time allocation is the way that they have to do business. I find that disconcerting.
    I am hopeful that when we look at legislation now, especially after last week, that we realize we are here to represent our constituents. When we debate bills here, all of us, no matter whether we are independents, Conservative, NDP, or Liberal, have a contribution to make. Every one of us is here to represent our constituents. Every one of us wants legislation passed through the House that has had due diligence, proper oversight, and that will not be open to all kinds of other challenges.
    I grew up with in England with a saying that sometimes people can be “penny wise and pound foolish”. I think of that saying often, as we rush through legislation that ends up being challenged in the courts and costing Canadian taxpayers a huge amount of money. I think of that when laws are passed that make no sense and take away people's rights.
    My colleagues and I support this legislation at second reading, but we do have major concerns. We want to hear from witnesses and we want to express those concerns. We will definitely be bringing forward amendments.
     I would love to have a bill go through all stages in a respectful manner, and being respectful does not mean just sitting here; it means listening and responding to the issues that are raised.

  (1215)  

    There is already legislation in place and fines set out, in section 445 of the Criminal Code, for all animals other than cattle. That is already there. Therefore, we can reassure our families and friends who have cats, dogs, or other pets, that there is already legislation in place. This is an amendment to that legislation, which specifically targets service, enforcement, and military animals. It is there for a reason. We have legislation when a crime is committed against RCMP officers or the military while they are on duty, and this is to parallel that.
    It is no surprise that there are forces and police departments across this country who may be supporting this bill. I know that the Edmonton Police Service does support the bill, and it is fair to assume that there are others who support it too. I support this bill because it is good to have legislation that is very explicit. However, as I said earlier, I do have some concerns.
    I would like to quote Staff Sergeant Trevor Hermanutz of the Edmonton Police Service canine unit, who said that officers are pleased with the law. He stated:
     We know that now we have a law that is going to put some teeth to the matter—the fact that when people want to injure or kill law enforcement animals, there are some serious legal consequences to their actions....
    I would advise members, and the numbers may have changed since I read this document, that the RCMP currently has 157 police dogs in service across Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency has 53 dog and handler teams. We are not talking about thousands of animals, but there is definitely a number that is over 200.
    There is not a person in this House, it does not matter which side, who in any way condones animal cruelty. I can say on behalf of my colleagues that we condemn all forms of animal cruelty. That is a position we have supported for a long time. It is reflected in Bill C-232 and Bill C-592. At the same time that we condemn that cruelty, we are also very cautious. We have been bitten one too many times, I suppose. The Conservatives, my colleagues across the way, always manage to put some zingers in the bills that they introduce. Sometimes I wonder if those zingers are to see whether we would oppose the bill. However, this time I am seriously hoping that they will look at our concerns at committee stage and assist us in adding some amendments.
    I want to say again that we support this bill. However, there are two things that we do have serious concerns with and which I will reiterate; they are the minimum sentences and the consecutive sentences. We are looking forward to hearing expert witnesses, but not one or two witnesses being given to the opposition and then the government saying it is done. We want a robust debate. This is an opportunity for us to discuss minimum sentencing, its impact on the system, and how it impacts the role of the judiciary.

  (1220)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that this piece of legislation is widely supported across a wide variety of stakeholder groups and that it is seeking to impose stiffer penalties for those who would harm or kill service animals in the line of duty. It is something that I think all of us support here. We certainly heard that support from my colleagues in the NDP.
    My colleague across the way mentioned that she is looking forward to a full debate in committee, to having a full set of witnesses, and to discussing potential amendments. This particular line of inquiry happens at committee stage.
    Given that my colleague and her colleagues have expressed support and that we have a a wide base of stakeholder support across communities, and given that this next stage of inquiry happens at committee stage, I wonder if my colleague would answer as to why she will not push the bill toward committee stage at this time.
    Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, and my colleague across the way may not have been in the room at the time, I do support it at this stage. I do want it to go to committee, and I do want to have a full array of witnesses come forward.
     One point that I will disagree on with my colleague across the way, with a great deal of respect, is that what she is saying is not always the case. She made the assertion that at committee stage witnesses are heard and a robust debate takes place. However, since I have been in this Parliament, we have had a major piece of legislation go through without any witnesses being called.
    I have been the vice-chair on a number of pieces of legislation at committee, and I have seen how they have been pushed through with very little attention being paid to opposing points of view on anything that the government has brought forward.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to express that I fully agree with the hon. member's comments with respect to her concern as it relates to consecutive and minimum sentencing. I certainly share her concern that it would be helpful to give discretion to the judiciary and the prosecution in terms of looking at the facts of a case before setting out sentences.
    However, I do want to direct her specifically to section 445.01(2)(b), which deals with summary conviction offences. In this particular instance, it does not actually set out a minimum prison sentence. It sets out the potential for a prison sentence of up to 18 months, but not a minimum.
    Therefore, depending upon whether the prosecution decides to proceed by an indictable offence or a summary conviction offence, if it proceeds on the lesser charge, there may not be a minimum sentence imposed.
    Does this alleviate her concern with respect to minimum sentencing?
    No, Mr. Speaker, it does not.
    Mr. Speaker, as justice critic for the New Democratic Party, I think second stage consideration is important. I appreciated hearing what my colleague had to say. I think second stage is a very important part of the process. When we get to committee we will have heard all of these comments, be they from the new Democrats, the Conservatives, the Liberals, or whomever.
    I appreciate the member's concern with respect to minimum sentencing. I appreciate her concern with respect to consecutive sentencing. The problem is that often, as she said, the devil is in the details.
    What concerns the member the most? Is it the consecutive sentencing or the minimum sentencing? Since the minimum sentence in similar cases seems to be higher than what has been proposed in the bill, would it be more of a concern with the consecutive sentencing, which might create a problem inside the judicial system?

  (1225)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member is far more of an expert in this area than I am. I appreciate that she is the critic for this area and does amazing work, not only in representing her riding but also in educating us on many issues.
    I am looking forward to the debate. Right now both concern me, and the consecutives concern me more. However, I need to hear more debate.
    We have parliamentary democracy for a reason and legislation goes through the various cycles for a reason. My big fear at second reading is that just because the government has a majority, it seems to think it can truncate different parts of that parliamentary process to get to the end goal. Sometimes when that it is done, harm is done.
     For me, every stage of the legislation is important. I have been in the House for second reading of some bills and have not seen one colleague from the other side stand to speak to it. In this case, members might wonder who they are debating. The government brings in the legislation and we need to debate that with the it, as well as hear from colleagues on this side and from the other opposition party at the other end.
    As well as participating and hearing from this side, a critical element is to have government members stand, debate and present their cases. If those cases are compelling, then my mind could be changed. That is why I come to the House. Those who have known me for the last number of years, in whichever job I have done and wherever I have been, know I do listen and I do change my mind if I hear cogent and coherent arguments.
    Right now, some of my colleagues are saying that I do not. It is very disrespectful because they are impugning my intentions. Only I have the right to determine what I say and what my intentions are.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Newton—North Delta clearly outlined why the New Democrats will support the legislation. However, she also outlined some of our concerns.
    I want to refer to the speech that was given by the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, in which she highlighted the fact that the New Democrats had two private members' bills before the House dealing with animal cruelty.
     In her speech, she referenced Bill C-232 from the member for Parkdale—High Park. Her bill would remove animals from the section of the Criminal Code on property and create a new section for animal cruelty offences. In short, animals would be considered people and not just property. She went on to say that the definition of animal was inadequate, which Bill C-232 would attempt to address.
    The second private member's bill is Bill C-592 from the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. That bill seeks to better define what an animal is under the Criminal Code and what is meant by intents and acts of cruelty.
    Since 2006, we have seen a failure on the part of the Conservative government to address some very valid concerns with regard to animal cruelty. Could the member comment on the government's failure to address some of those other issues?
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan has been one of my mentors, even before I became a member of Parliament. She has done amazing work in the area of aboriginal and first nations communities. She has also been very calm and thorough in addressing critical issues. The member is a role model for many us on how to do the work of a parliamentarian, and I thank her for that.
    As with many other issues that need to be addressed, we have seen a pattern in the government. There can be legislation introduced by the opposition that just sits there. The Conservatives do not want to debate it or address those issues. However, when they put forward legislation, they want to rush it through.
    I think there is unanimity in this room. We do want to address cruelty to animals. However, this bill, even though it goes part way, has major flaws that we want to see debated.

  (1230)  

[Translation]

    Before resuming debate, I should advise the House that there have been more than five hours of debate on this motion during this first round. Consequently, the speeches will now be 10 minutes and the period for questions and comments will be 5 minutes.

[English]

    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Newton—North Delta for her very kind comments. She has also done yeoman's work in the House, particularly with regard to issues recently around child care. I want to acknowledge the good work she has done. As well, the member clearly indicated that the New Democrats would be supporting Bill C-35. It was interesting to hear questions from the other side.
    We talk about this place being a democratic institution. Part of being a democratic institution is ensuring that my constituents are represented in the House. That means as members of Parliament we should have an opportunity to rise in the House to speak to particular legislation. The members ask why do we not just get it to committee. I do not happen to sit on the justice committee, so I would be unable to participate in the questioning of witnesses and in any debate at the committee with regard to the legislation. Therefore, it is important that I am able to rise in the House to express what I think are concerns for my riding and to have that voice on the record.
    Again, we support the bill and as the member for Newton—North Delta rightly pointed out, we do have concerns. However, let me talk about what the substance of the bill is.
    According to the legislative summary, Bill C-35, an act to amend the Criminal Code (law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals), is as follows. It is also called Quanto's law in honour of the police dog which was stabbed to death while helping to apprehend a fleeing suspect in Edmonton, Alberta in October 2013. Quanto had four years of decorated service and had participated in more than 100 arrests. The legislative summary says:
    Currently, an offence is committed under sections 444 and 445 of the Criminal Code (Code) when someone wilfully kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures cattle or when someone kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures a pet wilfully and without lawful excuse.
    There are also a number of provisions that address cruelty to animals, including section 445.1 of the Code, which establishes that it is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal.
    The legislative summary goes on to talk on to talk about what the new offences are and it indicates:
    Clause 3 creates new subsection 445.01 (1) of the Code,3 which establishes that it is an offence to wilfully and without lawful excuse kill , maim, wound, poison or injure a law enforcement animal while it is aiding a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer's duties; a military animal while it is aiding a member of the Canadian Forces in carrying out that member's duties; or a service animal while it is assisting a person with a disability.
     It goes on to say that, “A minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months takes effect only if a law enforcement animal is killed”.
    Subsequently it refers to the consecutive sentences clause 2:
    Clause 2 of Bill C-35 creates new section 270.03 of the Code, which establishes that, if the abovementioned offences are committed against a law enforcement officer...the sentence imposed shall be served consecutively to any other punishment imposed on the person for an offence arising out of the same event or series of events.
    We certainly support an initiative that protects service animals. We know they play a very important role in aiding police officers, border security in airports where the service animals are being used for drug detection. We support legislation that enhances the protection for these animals, but as other members have rightly pointed out, there are some serious concerns with regard to the continuing use of mandatory minimum sentences and the consecutive sentencing clause within the legislation.
    I want to turn for a moment to the mandatory minimum sentences. There have been a number of scholarly articles written over the last several years with regard to the effectiveness of mandatory minimum sentences in the United States. I want to quote an article that was published February 10, 2014, by the Heritage Foundation. The articles says, “Reconsidering Mandatory Minimum Sentences”. In the abstract, it indicates:
    Mandatory minimum sentences are the product of good intentions, but good intentions do not always make good policy; good results are also necessary.
    With respect to each crime, is justice best served by having legislatures assign fixed penalties to that crime? Or should legislatures leave judges more or less free to tailor sentences to the aggravating and mitigating facts of each criminal case within a defined range?

  (1235)  

    There were numerous arguments with this article, both for and against. As members can probably tell, I am not in favour of mandatory minimum sentences, so I will quote from the parts that support my argument.
     I do not have time, unfortunately, to go through some of the cases, but in the conclusion, it says:
    Congress was right to be concerned about reducing sentencing disparity and ensuring that sentences are neither unduly lenient nor unduly harsh. Nonetheless, just as law should be tempered with equity, so should rigid sentencing rules leave room for adjustment in certain cases where a legislatively fixed sentence would be manifestly unjust. No statute can account for every variable in every case, and the attempt to do so with mandatory minimums has given rise to punishments in some small-scale drug possession cases that are completely out of whack with the purpose of the federal sentencing laws.
    Again, I want to stay with cases in the United States. Over a number of years it has had its “three strikes and you're out” laws and some other mandatory minimum sentencing laws that have now proven to be not that effective.
     There was an article on February 22, entitled “Texas an unlikely model for prison reform”. It is a California senator who quoted this, but the article states:
    For over 30 years, spending on our prison system has steadily climbed from 3 percent of the state's operating budget to 11 percent. Even during the depth of the Great Recession, spending on prisons and jails increased while spending on education and health care was slashed. It continues to increase today. It doesn't have to be that way. There are alternatives, and unlikely as it might seem, Texas seems to be leading the way...
    Among the members of his board of directors are national conservative leaders Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich.
     That is to highlight the fact that it not just the New Democrats or Democrats or Liberals who are indicating that there should be a review of the mandatory minimum sentencing; it is also conservatives in the United States.
    The article continues:
    How is this happening? Texas is investing in alternatives to incarceration that are proving to be cheaper and more effective at keeping people out of prison. It is also doing a better job of rehabilitating people to keep them from reoffending and...back in prison.
     Texas uses risk-assessment and better probation procedures to divert large numbers of nonviolent offenders away from the prison system, keeping them away from hard-core criminals. It requires strict implementation of victim-restitution measures, while offering alternatives to prison such as civil sanctions, drug courts and drug-abuse and mental health treatment. It also offers rehabilitation programs like job training for those in prison to prepare them to re-enter society. And Texas has invested heavily in reducing the caseloads of parole and probation officers so the state can keep better track of the people it supervises and help them move in a new direction.
     Texas, which I think most people would agree has had a fairly strong approach to the criminal justice system, is implementing measures that do not rely on mandatory minimums and other such measures. It is actually looking at rehabilitation.
    When we talk about prison reform, I want to reference Howard Sapers, the ombudsperson for prisons. For years, he has been raising the issues around how people are treated once they are in the prison system and how many of the things that happen do not contribute to keeping people out of jail once they are released. Many other voices out there are speaking up.
     However, the last point I want to touch on is the failure of the current Conservative government to adequately address prevention measures, because the best measure in the justice system is to stop people from going to jail in the first place.
     The Institute for the Prevention of Crime at the University of Ottawa has a number of resources, but it also has an article titled, “Building a safer Canada: effective planning for crime prevention”. In the introduction to this, it states:
    Safety is a vital component of our quality of life. Our police and criminal justice systems play an essential role in helping to achieve these goals, and we should continue to do everything we can to help make them more responsive, efficient and effective.
     However, there are no easy solutions to the problems of crime and victimization, and little evidence that simply relying on more enforcement and more punishment will significantly increase our individual and collective safety...
    There is also a convincing body of evidence that prevention is an effective way to move forward. The concern is that Canada is not doing enough to make the best use of this knowledge and expertise—we need a sustained commitment to doing more to translate proven approaches into common practice.

  (1240)  

    Because my time is almost up, I do not have time to go through the whole article, but it has a framework for prevention planning. It says that there are five interconnected questions. One is understanding the problem and developing a vision, an action plan, and responsibility centres. Second is concentrating resources. Third is relying on evidence-based approaches. Fourth is assuming adequate and sustained support, and fifth is informing and engaging the public.
    In conclusion, New Democrats support Bill C-35, but we look forward to a full review at committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to spend a bit more time pursuing the issue of mandatory minimum sentences. The member noted in her speech that there was a body of academic literature that said that these were completely ineffective.
     In reviewing the literature at the time we were reviewing what was then the omnibus crime bill, Bill C-10, in the fall of 2011, I could not find a single peer reviewed, academic paper that suggested any benefit whatsoever to mandatory minimum sentences. It was not just some academic papers, as far as I could find, but all of them.
     I wonder if my friend has seen any evidence whatsoever that mandatory minimum sentences are anything other than, as she suggested the right-wing centre in the U.S. has now concluded, good intentions going toward an ineffective policy.
    Mr. Speaker, of course, the member is also a lawyer, so she has had some personal exposure to the criminal justice system.
    Like many people, I did a Google search today in preparation for speaking. I was looking for both the pro and con arguments with regard to mandatory minimum sentences. Interestingly, the legal memorandum by the Heritage Foundation provides some arguments for and against. The problem is that in the United States, prosecutors are actually the ones making some determinations about mandatory minimums, because prosecutors are defining what the charge will be. Sometimes they are defining the charge so that it does not fall under a mandatory minimum. There are people somewhere else in the chain of decision- making in the United States who are making decisions about whether mandatory minimums will or will not apply. That has been raised as an issue in Congress. Although there are some opinions in favour, they have more to do with procedural things in the United States.

  (1245)  

    Mr. Speaker, I too listened with interest to the presentation by my friend, the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan. I very much agree with her perspective with respect to mandatory minimum sentencing. However, I want to direct her specifically to proposed subsection 445.01(1), which sets the legal threshold that it has to be an act that is willful and without lawful excuse.
    Would my friend like to comment on whether perhaps the reason the government is suggesting there should be a minimum sentence of six months is that it reflects the fact that it believes that a crime committed against a service animal is abhorrent and requires some kind of penalty that reflects society's abhorrence of the impact on service animals?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government, with its continued use of mandatory minimums, seems to be saying, in part, that it does not trust judges to review the evidence before them and use their knowledge, expertise, and long history in the courts to make the appropriate determination about what an appropriate sentence would be. By imposing mandatory minimums, in this particular case, it continues that line of reasoning and thought that seems to be evident in so many other pieces of legislation we have seen before the House.
    Serious concerns have been raised, with regard to Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill that was referenced, and a number of other bills, that the Conservatives continue to undermine the ability of judges to make appropriate decisions.
    If there are judges who are completely outside the norm in sentencing, there are other ways of dealing with it other than putting mandatory minimums in bill after bill.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I ask for your indulgence and that of my colleagues as well. I know that our remarks must be relevant to the matter at hand; however, this is the first time I have risen to speak since the tragic events of last Wednesday. First and foremost, I simply want to thank the Sergeant-at-Arms and his team who, when it comes right down to it, saved our lives. I do not want to exaggerate, but that really is the case. I also want to thank everyone in my riding, Chambly—Borduas. We have received many emails over the past few days in a show of solidarity. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say how proud I am, even more so than last week, to be able to represent my constituents in the House and speak on their behalf. I have found a positive side to this very difficult tragedy. I have come to realize how much of a privilege it is to be here for them and to continue this work.
    Having said that, I will move on to today's debate on Bill C-35, which is known as Quanto's law because it is named after a police dog in Edmonton that was killed while a crime was in progress. As many of my colleagues have said, we support this bill because, really, who would not?
    According to my latest information, Canada's Criminal Code is not quite up to date on animal cruelty compared to other countries like ours around the world. We have a lot of catching up to do. I know that over the past few years many of my NDP colleagues have introduced bills about this issue.
    That is why, obviously, we support the bill. As I just said, who would not? However, we do have some major concerns, and unfortunately, they often come up whenever we are dealing with bills that would change the Criminal Code. The two issues we are concerned about are minimum sentences and consecutive sentences.
    We just heard an excellent speech from my colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan, and several other colleagues of mine, regarding minimum sentences. It is important to note once again that we are seeing this pattern more and more from this Conservative government. According to published articles on crime and the justice system, it is becoming increasingly clear that minimum sentencing is not producing the desired results. It is doing nothing to improve prevention, even though, at the end of the day, our main objective should be to ensure that future crimes are prevented.
    If we take a closer look at minimum sentences, we find all kinds of other problems. One problem is quite common. In many of the government's proposals, the minimum sentences are sometimes lighter than what judges have imposed in some cases. We have a situation where the justice system has proven that imposing minimum sentences was unnecessary. This measure appears to be more politically motivated, to show that the government is trying to be “tough on crime”, as we often hear, but in fact, the justice system is already doing its job. Minimum sentences are being imposed in some situations where the justice system was already doing a good job and where the sentences imposed were sufficient.
    Some discretion is being removed from the justice system. We could examine our system in Canada, or even comparable systems, such as those of the United States or England, and have a debate on the unique aspects of each system. Nonetheless, one aspect is comparable and that is the division of powers. Obviously, Parliament has a responsibility to enact laws, but the justice system has the responsibility to ensure their enforcement and their interpretation. Just because we are disappointed in how a law is interpreted, that does not always mean that it is Parliament's responsibility to change the law immediately.

  (1250)  

    The government wants to change legislation every time it disagrees with what the justice system is doing. We must ensure the independence and discretion of the justice system and not legislate on a case-by-base basis, because that is a very slippery slope. Unfortunately, this government does that far too often, especially when it comes to minimum sentences. It is a worrisome trend.
    In some cases, we support these bills, because, contrary to what my colleague heckled earlier, we cannot be against what is right. For example, when it comes to victims' rights or animal cruelty, including cruelty against police service dogs in a criminal context, we cannot be opposed.
    However, when this type of situation occurs, the Conservatives too often move time allocation or closure motions. A government minister asked us why we did not stop debating and immediately send the bill to committee if we were in favour of it.
    The reason is quite simple. First, committee is not the place to debate with our colleagues opposite. There are sometimes debates with witnesses, since we do not necessarily agree with them. However, the primary purpose of committee is to learn from the expertise of witnesses so that we can better understand our own concerns. We are not all lawyers, and if we do not have the expertise to explain the subject matter in simple terms, we cannot make informed decisions and amend a bill if necessary.
    Committee is therefore not the place to address our colleagues. Furthermore, as in the House, it is not allowed. However, in the House, we have the opportunity to hear Conservative members and members of other parties speak, to ask them questions and to hear their answers.
    Unfortunately, the government is preventing us from voicing our opinions on a bill because it does not believe that we should speak about it if everyone supports it. Although we support the bill, we still have concerns about justice and crime issues, particularly with regard to minimum sentences, which are at the heart of this matter.
    When we have the opportunity to ask our Conservative colleagues questions—and that is not the case—the time for debate is limited. Although we recognize how important and urgent the issue is in some cases, rather than just rushing the bill to committee, it is important that we all have the opportunity to speak, ask our questions and present our arguments. Committee is not the place for 308 members to discuss a bill.
    That is why we have debates, and government members must stop downplaying their importance. It does not do justice to Parliament or the legislative process. It results in mistakes, for example bills that are thought to be unconstitutional or must be fixed in committee. If more extensive debate were allowed, we could advance these arguments and avoid these problems.
    In closing, I would like to say once again that my colleagues and I support this bill. I am saying so for the third time. Who would not?

  (1255)  

    However, as several of my colleagues also mentioned, these details matter to us. We have concerns about minimum sentences and consecutive sentences, which take away discretion or judicial authority. As legislators, we are beginning to take over the work of judges. That is not how the system is supposed to work. Although animal cruelty is terrible and we are pleased to see the government bring in legislation, we must nevertheless pay attention to the separation of powers.
     Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent speech.
    As he mentioned, the Conservative government has a habit of introducing bills in the House containing mandatory minimums, including omnibus bills it has introduced since 2012. The NDP is against animal cruelty. There are many people who have spoken in favour of this bill, including Edmonton police officers. We support sending this bill to committee.
    That said, I would like to know whether my hon. colleague could talk about the bills containing mandatory minimums that the Conservative government has introduced in the past. I would like him to talk about the negative effects that these mandatory minimums can have on our legal process.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    She mentioned omnibus bills. We all remember Bill C-10, which illustrates the points I raised earlier regarding the importance of having a full debate in the House and the opportunity to speak to all the different aspects of the bill.
    As for the member's question about mandatory minimums, indeed, this is something we are seeing more and more, and it is one of our two main concerns with this bill. Since I was elected in 2011, we have seen mandatory minimums for every issue associated with the Criminal Code.
    The hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan spoke about the chain of decision making; she spoke about prosecutors and judges. That is what is important. Imposing minimum sentencing seems to ignore the existing judicial hierarchy. That is troubling and problematic. Judges and lawyers are there to look at cases one at a time. If we create broad legislation that imposes minimum sentences, we could be looking at some problematic situations. It will also impact the prison system. We need to allow judges to make that distinction instead of having to navigate the murky waters of government legislation. However, as my colleague also noted, despite our support, we also need to be aware of these problems and bring them up in committee.

  (1300)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very thoughtful comments on this bill. I would like to ask him about mandatory minimum sentences, which are once again provided for in this Conservative bill. In a way, they undermine the goal of the bill, which is to ensure that there are adequate and serious penalties for people who harm service animals.
    A recent documentary called State of Incarceration, which aired on CBC's Doc Zone and was produced by a constituent of mine, very graphically showed how mandatory minimum sentences and other kinds of supposedly tough-on-crime legislation in fact undermine the criminal justice system. They lead to overcrowding in our prisons and less support and assistance for criminals and people who are incarcerated to be rehabilitated, get back into the community, and ultimately become contributing and productive members of society.
    My colleague may not have seen it, but can he comment on the intent of this video, which was to shine a light of this undermining of effective criminal justice systems? Even the U.S., which pioneered this tough-on-crime agenda, is turning back and going for rehabilitation as a more cost-effective measure to treat serious crime.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question.
    Unfortunately, I have not seen that documentary; however, now that I know about it, I am very interested in seeing it.
    Even though I have not seen the documentary, it is becoming increasingly clear that minimum sentences are not the solution. The issue with the way the government approaches the debate about prevention and rehabilitation is that when it hears those words, “prevention” and “rehabilitation”, it assumes they mean befriending criminals. What is interesting—and the government always forgets this—is that prevention and rehabilitation are good for the safety of our communities. Rehabilitating criminals and focusing on prevention will protect victims and prevent future victims. Those are the kinds of things that lawyers, prosecutors and judges can take into consideration.
    Of course, as legislators, we have a responsibility to make the necessary adjustments. However, too often the government seems to want to take a generalized approach whenever something does not go its way. That is not a responsible way to work, and that is what concerns us.
    Still, the fact that the government is supporting service animals and does not want to see animal cruelty in general gives us reason to support this bill.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank the member opposite for bringing forward a bill that takes into account a need to respond to the killing or injuring of a service animal.
     As a compassionate community, we are well aware of the many times that animals have come to the assistance of people and have served as law enforcement animals, military service animals, or service animals that support persons with disabilities. The stories are many and legendary.
    One example is that during Hurricane Katrina, a 19-year-old dog saved his 80-year-old owner from drowning. A 19-year-old dog is perhaps even older in years than some of us here in the House. This particular situation was very poignant inasmuch as the elderly gentleman, George Mitchell, said that he would have given up his struggle against the surging waters of Katrina had it not been for the actions of his long-time pet, his long-time friend. Clearly there is a sentient reality to animals, and we have to be very cognizant of that.
    There is also the example of Yoshi, a police service dog in Waterloo region. Yoshi had served the community since his deployment in 2009 and was known as a top cop. He was highly skilled in capturing suspects, finding narcotics, and finding missing persons. This last skill of finding missing persons touches us closely. We think of elderly people who have gone missing and children who are lost. Service dogs are incredibly important and instrumental in addressing those kinds of situations.
    Bill C-35 is called “Quanto's law” in remembrance of Quanto, the police service dog killed in Edmonton trying to stop a fleeing suspect. The assailant was charged with animal cruelty and sentenced to 26 months in prison. The decision in this case was made at the discretion of a judge and was based on years of jurisprudence, existing law, and the evidence presented in court. That is how it should be. A sentence should be determined in a court of law by an experienced judge in an effort to ensure the sentence fairly reflects the crime. That is at the centre of our concerns about Bill C-35.
    Bill C-35 is laudable in its sentiment, and we should indeed be concerned about animal cruelty. Section 445 of the Criminal Code sets out penalties and fines for those guilty of injuring all animals other than cattle.
    I want to be very clear: New Democrats condemn all forms of animal cruelty, a position that we have supported for a long time. We have expressed those concerns over the past number of years regarding this Parliament's inability to truly protect animals. Members may recall some of these situations, because at present, animal cruelty crimes are considered property offences. It is not an offence to train animals to fight other animals or to receive money from the fighting of animals. There is no specific offence for particularly violent or brutal crimes against animals, and no additional protection is afforded to law enforcement animals.
     Bill C-35 seeks to change that by bringing forward specific and additional protection for law enforcement and service animals. However, we have to look carefully at what is proposed in this legislation.
     Bill C-35 would create a new offence, as I said, for killing or injuring a service animal, a law enforcement animal, or a military animal while the animal is on duty. It proposes a minimum sentence of six months if a law enforcement animal is killed by an individual while that individual is perpetrating an offence. It proposes that sentences imposed on a person be served consecutive to any other punishment imposed on that person for an offence arising out of the same event or series of events.

  (1305)  

    Like all Conservative legislation, the devil is in the details. This is a laudable bill but it has been tainted and undermined by introducing minimum sentencing, which clearly reflects what we can only call a repressive agenda. It does not take into account that we have courts and jurisprudence with respect to those courts and sentencing. We once again see a government showing its desire to deprive those courts of their discretion in sentencing, which is a very important part of a workable and intelligent justice system.
     I am certain that every member of the House knows that there are circumstances. There is nothing that is absolute. There is no situation that can be absolutely deemed like any other. We have many examples of that in the courts. We simply cannot forget that and set it aside.
    The Conservatives should also be aware of the consequences of minimum and consecutive sentencing on the criminal justice system. In this case, we have to hear from the experts about the consequences of minimum and consecutive sentencing. That is why we are recommending that the bill be studied carefully in committee. We need to hear from experts on what the consequences of this particular legislation could be and would be. We have to pay attention to those experts and to warnings from the courts.
    I am sure members are well aware that in January of this year a B.C. judge challenged Ottawa's tough on crime legislation and found that mandatory minimum sentences violated the charter rights of those being condemned. I am concerned that Bill C-35 would also face such challenges. The Supreme Court is looking at a specific B.C. case regarding a criminal who was convicted of drug trafficking. In that case, Judge Galati said that in that situation a one-year minimum sentence would constitute cruel and unusual punishment, which is prohibited under section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. At the time, Judge Galati declared the law in question to be of no force and effect in B.C. That is why it is now being heard by the Supreme Court. It is important that we wait for the decision and rely on the wisdom of that court before we go ahead with any other legislation that could be challenged under the charter.
    The lawyer in that case said that mandatory minimum sentences are problematic because they remove the discretion of judges. He said that the federal government's enactment of mandatory minimum sentences was more political than reasonable. This notion that being tough on crime would somehow make us safer is a misconception. We are no safer now than we were 10 years ago. That is a simple fact.
    Other jurisdictions have eliminated or have begun to reduce mandatory minimums, most notably the United States. They are moving away from those practices because they are found to be ineffective. Most Commonwealth countries with mandatory minimums have an escape clause so that judges can bypass the minimums when they deem it necessary. Therefore, we are going in the opposite direction of much of the rest of the world at a time when our crime rate is historically low.

  (1310)  

    Finally, I would like to say that New Democrats, of course, condemn all forms of animal cruelty. We have held that position for a very long time and have supported legislation such as Bill C-232 and Bill C-592.
    We do believe that this particular bill is undermining what is otherwise a laudable idea. We have to be very careful of that. We have to be very cognizant of that.
    Mr. Speaker, I remember a few years ago, in Toronto, when Brigadier, a beautiful Belgian cross horse, was struck and killed by someone fleeing in a getaway car. It shocked and outraged the entire community.
    My community of Toronto was shocked and horrified just a couple of weeks ago when animal services announced that a black Lab puppy was in their care. It was the most severely abused animal they had ever seen. It had acid burns, broken bones and internal injuries. Clearly all protections for animals, especially service and companion animals, need to be improved, as the member for London—Fanshawe said. I put forward Bill C-232 to improve our animal cruelty laws, and we have not found support on the other side of the House.
    Why does the member think that the government side would not support general laws to improve the welfare of animals and to improve the struggle against animal cruelty, but that it would overreact and in fact undermine the situation with some of the provisions in Bill C-35?

  (1315)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a very strange and bizarre contradiction that we see from the government.
    I was in the House, as was the member, when a number of bills came forward in an effort to ensure our cruelty laws were updated. I take special note of Bill C-232, a bill the member had a great deal to do with. I do not understand why the Conservative government did not support any of those efforts. It would seem that it may have been influenced by outside interests that perhaps put pressure on them to overlook the reality of the kind of cruelty that my colleague described in regard to the Labrador puppy.
    In this particular case, there does seem to be an overreaction. I think it has a great deal to do with public perception, the way the public and the media reacted to the very unfortunate case of this particular dog. It was unfortunate. All cruelty to all creatures is absolutely unacceptable. However, we have to come back to what we know and what we understand, and respect for our courts and respect for the kinds of things that work in terms of sentencing. This is not it.
    Mr. Speaker, with crime in Canada at a 40-year low, why does the member think the federal government would spend hundreds of millions of our tax dollars building 2,700 new prison cells, which it clearly intends to fill with its so-called tough on crime agenda. This, at a time when its counterparts, the Republicans in the southern U.S., have come to see the light of day and have recognized that in fact this not only makes no sense when it comes to good criminal justice but in fact it is bad economics.
     It undermines the ability of a society to rehabilitate people, to get them back and effectively working in society, rather than paying for their upkeep in the criminal justice system when probably the vast majority have no need to be there whatsoever.
    Can the member explain why our government seems to be so wrong-headed in this regard?
    Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, I am at a loss to understand what motivates some of the thinking and legislation that comes out of the current Conservative government. As my colleague pointed out, crime is at a 40-year low. We should use this opportunity to start looking specifically at prevention and rehabilitation: rehabilitation for those who are on the wrong path, and prevention for youth and people who are vulnerable in the community.
    I would like to mention that a significant number of people who are incarcerated are mentally ill. However, we do not have money for mental health or community support, but we have a lot of money for jails. In this particular case, it is the provinces that would be footing the bill. In my own city of London, Ontario, the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre is crammed full to the point where violence and desperate behaviour is rampant.
    We have to do better. Surely we can.

  (1320)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I will follow in my colleagues' footsteps because we have just gone through some unusual events on Parliament Hill, events that affect not only politicians but all Canadians.
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those whose priority is our safety and that of our assistants and the people who work in this magnificent parliamentary precinct, which includes the Centre Block and the Confederation Building, where my offices are located. These have been difficult times.
    The labour relations lawyer in me feels compelled to ask everyone to take good care of themselves. People who experience a traumatic event can experience different after-effects, and of course my thoughts are with our Sergeant-at-Arms. I hope that he is taking care of himself and that others are taking care of him too. Everyone has gone through a very trying time.
    That said, this is an interesting time to rise in the House to discuss Bill C-35 as the official opposition's justice critic.
    I would like to begin by thanking my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île, who took care of this file so that I could carry out a thorough review of other bills. She has done an extraordinary job of helping our caucus colleagues understand the issues with this bill.
    I listened to my colleagues earlier, particularly my colleague from Parkdale—High Park, who is an animal lover, and, I would think, not the only one in this House.
    It is ironic that I have to rise in this House to speak to this bill, because those who know me will know, on the one hand, just how much I love animals, and on the other hand, how I would not want anyone at all to be hurt in any way.
    These harmless, defenceless creatures deserve the same protection that we afford to children and people with mental or physical disabilities. We have to make sure we protect those most vulnerable in our society and those who cannot protect themselves.
    It is ironic, because this bill has come about in much the same way as many Conservative bills seem to come about, namely, as a reaction to specific situations, which always raises many questions in my mind.
    When I was a law student at the University of Ottawa a few decades ago, I had an affinity for criminal law. I found it extremely interesting, as most law students do when they enter the faculty of law. They often think they will become the greatest criminal lawyers the world has ever known.
    I became a labour lawyer, which shows that what may seem extraordinarily exciting when we are at school is in fact different in reality. Criminal law is not an easy domain and I commend all crown prosecutors, police officers, defence lawyers, probation officers and judges who work in this area and who are called to determine the right thing to do in each case.
    I realize that the crime rate is going down and that the nature of crimes is changing. We can always get statistics to say what we want them to say. On our side, we might say that we do not need to be too harsh or build prisons since the crime rate is going down. However, our Conservative friends, who do not seem to have anything to say today, will probably say that the crime rate is going down because they are extremely tough. Again, we can get statistics to say what we want.
    However, when I was studying law, the basic principles of sentencing stuck with me. In that regard, I am deeply concerned about all these bills. It is not my socialist heart that is bleeding, but that of a person to whom it is important that the Criminal Code, the country's law governing acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, explain the decisions taken by our society on punishing these acts—criminal acts in this case.

  (1325)  

    We have always been told by our criminal law and sentencing experts that there are basic principles that we cannot circumvent.
    I am not going to lecture you because that is not my style. However, we sometimes forget. When we forget, we have a tendency of repeating past mistakes or making other mistakes that could be avoided if we were to examine the simple facts. There are parts of the Criminal Code that we do not often hear about in the House. I am thinking of the entire part that starts with section 716, for example. It covers sentencing and explains the basic principles that apply to sentencing.
    In the short time available to me, I would like to highlight a few of the very fundamental sections that a court must consider when it is preparing either to hand down a sentence or to make a decision about an accused. I would point out that one of the very few changes being made to section 718 is the addition of aggravating factors to the section on sentencing.
     718. The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:
(a) to denounce unlawful conduct;
(b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;
(c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary;
(d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders;
    This principle is often forgotten by our friends opposite.
(e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community; and
(f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgement of the harm done to victims and to the community.
    With respect to this last point, all types of restorative justice come into play.
    Section 718.01 concerns crimes against youth under the age of eighteen years.
    Section 718.1 is extremely important. This section is often the kicker. It is at the heart of our beliefs as the official opposition in this House. Section 718.1 of the Criminal Code states:
     718.1 A sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.
    Notice that it says “the offender” and not “the offenders”. That is where jurisprudence comes in, with respect to the principle that each case is unique.
    Section 718.2 states:
    718.2 A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:
(a) a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing...
    What follows is a list that has grown over the years under the Conservatives and in response to some realities in society. The section continues:
(b) a sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders for similar offences committed in similar circumstances;
    Once again, there is the principle that every case is unique. Proportionality must be taken into account. Criminal justice must be applied in the same way for each person who commits the same crime, under the same circumstances. During sentencing arguments, the parties will point out aggravating factors or factors in favour of the accused. The section continues:
(c) where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh;
    My colleagues have already said this so I will not repeat. Second reading should not be used to repeat the same principle, but to make specific points. This stage is extremely important. As I was telling one of my colleagues earlier, as justice critic, and since we support this bill, I will have the benefit of having heard my colleagues' thoughts when we examine the bill in committee with experts and witnesses. I would have liked to have heard more from the other side, since everyone is capable of presenting persuasive arguments now and then. However, you cannot win anyone over with silence.
    The Criminal Code states:
(d) an offender should not be deprived of liberty, if less restrictive sanctions may be appropriate in the circumstances;
    We know this. There is an enormous amount of literature and many analyses have been conducted on the usefulness of minimum sentences and the legality of consecutive sentences.

  (1330)  

    Furthermore, some decisions in similar cases have gone as far as the Supreme Court. I urge my colleagues to be cautious—and that is what we will do in committee—and to ensure that this bill complies with all of the relevant principles of law.
    I would also suggest that all members of the House read section 716 and subsequent sections of the Criminal Code on sentencing. They will see that our Criminal Code already has a strong foundation of principles that apply.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her wonderful speech. As she mentioned, the NDP will support this bill so that we can examine it in committee and hear what experts have to say about it.
    Do the Conservatives need to introduce a minimum sentence in this bill, which seeks to protect animals trained by police officers? Is it really necessary to include a minimum sentence in this bill, which, we all agree, seeks to protect animals?
    Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question, one we will probably ask of those who testify before the committee.
     I am sticking my neck out a bit, but I will keep an open mind and maybe someone can convince me otherwise. What I am prepared to say is that when I look at the jurisprudence for similar crimes or cases like this, I rarely see sentences that are shorter than the minimum set out in Bill C-35.
    The same thing happened with another bill, which was also a private member's bill, about child abduction. I asked a victim who testified before the committee if the fact that the Conservative government's minimum was lower than what the jurisprudence showed for such cases was problematic. In other words, the government wanted the minimum sentence to be four years, but the courts were already handing down sentences of eight, 10 or even 14 years in such cases.
    Legislators do not talk for the sake of talking. It is a basic argument used in court. I can easily picture a defence lawyer saying that the judge is being too harsh and that is why the government legislated a lower minimum. The victim found that very unsettling and definitely did not want to see that happen.
    It can be good to leave such things to the court's discretion because it knows and applies the principles of Criminal Code sections 716 and on. In many cases, it comes down to information. Members of the public might not like it, but if they had all of the facts of the case, including the aggravating and mitigating factors, they would understand why a particular sentence is given. Of course there can be mistakes, but that, as some judges will tell you, is what appeals are for.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to continue in the vein of mandatory minimum sentences.
    Earlier in my speech I quoted from an article by the Heritage Foundation in a legal memorandum of February 10. In this memorandum, it is contended that mandatory minimum sentences did not reduce crime. University of Minnesota law professor, Michael Tonry, has concluded, “the weight of the evidence clearly shows that enactment of mandatory penalties has either no demonstrable marginal deterrent effects or short-term effects that rapidly waste away”. The article states, “Statutes imposing mandatory minimum sentences result in arbitrary and severe punishments that undermine the public’s faith in America’s criminal justice system.”
    Could the member comment on that? Does she agree that mandatory minimums can undermine the faith of citizens in the justice system?

  (1335)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am inclined to answer that question with something that former Supreme Court of Canada justice Major said about minimum sentencing when he appeared before one of our committees. I want to make one thing clear: I do not want anyone in the House to think that I am saying that minimum sentences are strictly illegal. I am wondering if they are useful.
     Justice Major explained to us that a mandatory minimum sentence that is reasonable in its length could function quite well, and the courts may agree. That said, minimum sentencing is not recommended, partly for the reasons she mentioned.
    I do not think that anyone in the House believes that a criminal, before committing a crime, walks around with a copy of the Criminal Code under his arm, saying that he knows how he is going to be sentenced. I would be very surprised if anyone believes that. They need to stop lying to themselves because that is not at all what is happening.
    That said, society has a responsibility to determine how it will punish certain behaviours. The problem with the Conservative government is that it just wants to give a certain impression by telling the public that it has implemented a mandatory minimum sentence. What the government does not say is that the mandatory minimum sentence is lower than what the courts were already imposing. It is merely a question of impressions. I do not think that we should be playing with the rules of law, with criminal sentencing principles in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I am always happy to rise in the House to speak to a bill. Before I begin, however, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the events that transpired here last week, because I thought about them a lot over the weekend. Most of all, I thought about the tragedy, the death of Corporal Cirillo, and the impact it has had on his family and his son. I would simply like to add that my thoughts and prayers are with his family, and I extend my condolences to them.
    I attended various events in my riding this past weekend, and it is always a pleasure to do so. Many people came to see me in Wakefield to say they stand in solidarity with me, our team, our leader and all members of this House after the tragic events of last week. I thank them for offering their sympathy, for supporting me and for expressing how much hope they have in our work here.
    That said, once again we have another bill that blurs the lines between the government, politics and the legislature.

[English]

    This is an issue that the government has brought several times to the House in legislation. Time and time again, we are the only party that seems to stand up for this basic principle that it is judges who are best placed to decide what a sentence should be.
    During a trial, what goes on is questioning. It is almost like a form of investigation. Through this process, in what I would call a dialectical process of exchange, facts come up and it is discovered that things are not as simple as they appeared before. The situation appears different under questioning, and there needs to be a process in place so that those things that are revealed during a trial are taken into consideration in sentencing.
    This is a principle that is fundamental. It is also a principle of how democracy should work, which is that there should be a very long arm between the legislators and the government in place on the one hand and what happens on judges' benches on the other.

  (1340)  

[Translation]

    Bill C-35 was announced in the 2013 throne speech, so it is not very surprising that we have it before us today. The bill proposes Criminal Code amendments that would create a new offence specifically prohibiting the killing, injuring, poisoning or maiming of trained animals being used to help law enforcement officers, persons with disabilities or the Canadian Armed Forces.
    I have to say that I have no problem with the principle of protecting animals that do this kind of work. On the contrary, I really like animals. I have had animals around me ever since I was a young boy. I learned to respect them and to see them as our companions on the beautiful planet we share with them.
    It is commendable to have legislation to protect them further. However, I see that the government is being contradictory. Not so long ago, we introduced bills to do exactly this: improve legislation on protecting abused animals. I do not know why, perhaps it is simply because it was not the government's idea, but the Conservatives voted against our bills. How can they vote against this principle and then turn around and propose the same principle? On this side of the House, when we see such inconsistency, it makes us wonder. What is behind this? What are they trying to get passed that might not have anything to do with the well-being of animals?
    This bill is meant to improve legislation. For example, persons convicted of such an offence could face up to five years in prison, with—and I want to emphasize this—a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in prison in cases where a law enforcement animal is killed while assisting a law enforcement officer in enforcing the law and the offence is prosecuted by indictment. If a law enforcement animal is injured or killed while on duty, the sentence for that offence would be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed on the offender arising out of the same event.
    This is definitely a case of interfering with judicial independence. Judges make decisions that they consider to be appropriate. After all, judges are not appointed just for the fun of it. It is clear that we must respect their work and their experience.
    Therefore, it is a bit odd that the provisions of Bill C-35 do not change the sentences and fines set out in section 445 of the Criminal Code for all animals that are not cattle. The Edmonton police department seems to be supporting the bill, and it seems reasonable to believe that the other police forces, as well as individuals with service animals, will want to support this bill. That is true.
    However, the fact remains that there are two very serious problems with this bill. As I mentioned earlier, it introduces a six-month minimum sentence and consecutive sentences if a law enforcement animal is killed when a crime is committed.
    Consequently, it would be good to hear in committee what the experts and other civil society organizations have to say about these two issues. However, the government must listen to them. If we go to committee, which we would like to do, consultations must be robust and rigorous and expert opinions must be considered. There is a problem, though.

  (1345)  

[English]

    Time and time again, what we have seen is that when we support a bill going to committee, either the committee process is shortened or we do not have access to all of the experts or to a healthy debate. Additionally, when we propose amendments that would help the piece of legislation to be enacted and to be balanced, every single amendment from the opposition is opposed. That does not seem to be particularly reasonable when, after hearing from all of these experts, it is clear that the proposed legislation could be improved.
    In closing, I have a few fundamental questions for the Conservatives.

[Translation]

    For example, why does the government want to once again remove discretionary authority from the courts? That is a basic question but the government still has not answered it. Also, why does this government always try to amend good bills by inserting unreasonable clauses, such as consecutive sentences? Have the Conservatives assessed the impact that including a minimum sentence and consecutive sentences will have on the justice and prison systems? Once again, we have not received any answers in this regard. Finally, why do the Conservatives think it is necessary to include a minimum sentence in this bill?
    These are reasonable questions. The problem is that we are the only ones talking about this bill. We are the only ones asking questions about this bill. Nevertheless, we are here to do that. How can we get the answers we need to really know whether the government is serious about wanting a common sense bill?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Pontiac, who does an extraordinary job. I do not envy the size of his riding. That being said, I know how involved he is in his riding.
    I appreciated what he said in his speech. I also appreciated the fact that he mentioned that we are the only ones who are taking action in this regard. Earlier, I heard the minister of state tell us that we could all support this bill and send it directly to committee, as though that would ensure that it would be passed more quickly.
    I assume that my colleague is aware that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has a lot on its plate already. I am thinking of the victims bill of rights, the new regulatory authority associated with Bill S-2 and all the private members' bills that are currently before us.
    What is wrong with wanting to debate these issues in this House and to hear different opinions on some specific aspects of the bill? For some, that means the protection of animals. For others, like me, that means the protection of animals, of course, but also some provisions of the Criminal Code as a whole. For others, it means other things. This allows us to pass more clearly defined legislation.
    I would like to hear his comments on that.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my dear colleague from Gatineau for her question.
    I want to say that she does an excellent job on this file and on all justice matters. She may not envy the size of my riding, but I do not envy all of the work that she has on her plate. It is incredible to see how hard she works.
    I think it is clear that this government has a lack of respect for the debates in this House and for the views of the official opposition. The bottom line is that I represent my constituents. They often share their concerns with me about justice bills. Fortunately, the member for Gatineau stands up for the interests of people in the region on justice matters.
    In light of what the Conservatives have proposed, I think it would be reasonable to take a moment, to take a little time to think about how all of these bills will work together. Where is there overlap and what can be simplified? We need to look at everything as a whole. I am not convinced that the government is doing that.

  (1350)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for that informative speech.
    One of the issues that has come up with regard to animal cruelty and this particular piece of legislation is that we had two private member's bills proposed by New Democrats before the House.
    One is Bill C-232, which was introduced by my colleague for Parkdale—High Park. This bill would remove animals from the section of the Criminal Code on property and create a new section for animal cruelty offences. In short, animals would be considered people and not property. Part of the reason the bill was introduced is that the current definition of “animal” is inadequate.
    The second is Bill C-592, which was introduced by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. This bill seeks to better define what an animal is under the Criminal Code and what is meant by “intended acts of cruelty”.
    I wonder if the member could comment on the fact that although the Conservatives have been in government since 2006, they still failed to introduce good legislation with regard to animal cruelty.
    Mr. Speaker, there have been advances made in science and research in the last 20 years about how animals feel pain, how they feel suffering, their brain capacity, the impacts of abuse upon them, how the relationship between animals and human beings has changed and how, for example, certain animals can be used for therapy. That is quite a new area of scientific research and medical research. It is only natural that we take into consideration these new findings and that we review our archaic laws with respect to defining what an animal is and the rights that an animal has.
    The reality is that we share this planet. There are more animals on this planet than human beings. We need to conceptually shift the way that our civilization understands that relationship. I think that begins with reviewing laws with respect to the definition of animals and ensuring that their rights are protected.

[Translation]

    Before I acknowledge the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, I must inform her that I will have to interrupt her around two o'clock for statements by members.
    Mr. Speaker, since this is my first time rising in the House since the events of last week, I would simply like to take this opportunity to commend the work of our police officers, our House of Commons security forces and the RCMP, and all their courageous deeds.
    On behalf of the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, I wish to extend our sincere condolences to Nathan Cirillo's family.
    I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-35, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals), a Conservative bill that has passed first reading in the House.
    I am proud to say that I really hope this bill is examined in committee so that we can hear what many experts and stakeholders think on this matter.
    We need to have a closer look at this bill in order to revisit the two most important problems in the bill: the introduction of minimum sentences and consecutive sentences.
    In concrete terms, this bill amends section 445 of the Criminal Code by providing for a new offence when a service animal or a law enforcement or military animal is killed or injured in the line of duty. The bill also provides for a minimum sentence of six months if a law enforcement animal is killed in the commission of an offence. It also makes the sentences imposed on a person consecutive to another sentence imposed for any other offence arising out of the same events.
    I think the Government of Canada needs to examine bills dealing with animal cruelty. The 157 police dogs in service in Canada and the 53 teams of dogs and trainers with the Canada Border Services Agency are important to Canada's security. They are important resources for our police officers and those who patrol our borders.
    There are two important points to note about this bill: it creates another minimum sentence and it makes changes regarding consecutive sentences.
    Before I continue, I would like to talk about the current legislative provisions related to animal cruelty. It might be interesting for Canadians to know that presently, according to sections 444 and 445 of the Criminal Code, anyone commits an offence who wilfully kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures cattle or who, wilfully and without lawful excuse, kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures domestic animals.
    Subsection 429(2) of the Criminal Code also provides a defence.
    (2) No person shall be convicted of an offence under sections 430 to 446 where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right.
    The Criminal Code also sets out some provisions concerning animal cruelty, including section 445.1, under which it is an offence to cause unnecessary pain to an animal.
    I would remind the House that the NDP introduced a number of bills designed to amend Canadian laws concerning animal cruelty.
     In particular, I would like to mention the work of the hon. member for Parkdale—High Park, who introduced Bill C-232, An Act to amend the Criminal Code concerning cruelty to animals in order to repeal animal cruelty provisions that are included in the part of the Criminal Code that governs animal well-being, acknowledging that they can feel pain.

  (1355)  

    Interestingly, data from new scientific studies show that animals can feel pain. An interesting aspect of the bill introduced by my New Democratic colleague from Parkdale—High Park is that these changes will better protect strays and wild animals. We know that existing laws do not protect them well enough.
     Before question period starts, I would like to comment briefly on Bill C-592, which was introduced by my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and is also designed to protect animals from cruelty.
    For those following today's debate, it would be interesting to get more information on these bills and support the work of these members so that these bills can move forward and provide better protection for animals in Canada.
    I know that I will have a little more time after question period to make my case, but I would like to talk about mandatory minimum sentences because this is not the only Conservative bill that includes a mandatory minimum sentence. According to the Canadian Bar Association, there are now at least 57 offences with mandatory minimum sentences, while in 2005, there were only 29. We are very concerned about that.
    I look forward to continuing my remarks after question period.
    The hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles will have three minutes remaining to conclude her speech when the House resumes debate on this motion.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Manitoba Elections

    Mr. Speaker, Brian Bowman is a friend, a husband, a father, a lawyer, and a graduate from my favourite high school, Shaftesbury. Now he is Winnipeg's newest mayor.
     Last Wednesday, Manitobans elected their mayors and reeves, and there was a very high turnout. The Winnipeg election was hard fought. I would like to mention the successful candidates from my riding: Marty Morantz in Charleswood-Tuxedo; Scott Gillingham in St. James-Brooklands; Shawn Dobson in St. Charles; and Wilfred Taillieu, who continues to be the mayor of Headingley.
    I wish to also thank the previous city councillors from my riding: Scott Fielding, Paula Havixbeck, and Grant Nordman.
    On the same day that Manitoba was having its elections, the Parliament Buildings were attacked. The contrast between the two events was stark. Canadians have demonstrated that Canada will always be the true north, strong and free—the maple leaf forever.

[Translation]

Events of October 22, 2014

    Mr. Speaker, after what happened last week, October 22, 2014, will be etched in our minds forever.
    To all those who wanted to know how I was doing and who sent me words of encouragement, I say thank you. I am well and I am proud to be here in the House today. I want to thank my girlfriend, my loved ones, my family and my team, who have always been there for me.
    I would also like to thank the parliamentary security guards, the Ottawa police, the RCMP officers and our armed forces from the bottom of my heart. They intervened to protect us. We owe them more than our gratitude. We owe them a debt of remembrance.

[English]

    Remembrance Day is upon us. It is an opportunity for me and all Canadians to honour the sacrifices so many women and men who have made our country.
     Lest we forget.

Ben TeKamp

    Mr. Speaker I wish to pay tribute to former Brockville mayor Ben TeKamp, who passed away on October 12, at the age of 69.
     Mr. TeKamp served as a councillor before becoming mayor for three terms. He dealt with tough times in the municipality when the city was dealing with economic challenges and undertaking former provincial services. He also managed the city through the 1998 ice storm just as his term began.
    Mayor TeKamp was also a community activist, a small business booster, a local sports hall of fame supporter, and an active rower who coached at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He was honorary colonel of the Brockville Rifles, active with the United Way of Leeds and Grenville, and a mentor and friend for many politicians, including me.
     His friendly smile and engaging personality invited calm discussions and loyalty among his friends and colleagues. He was named Brockville's Citizen of the Year in 2006.
     He will be missed by his wife Cathy, daughter Robin, son Mark, as well as by their families and by all who knew him.

700 David Hornell VC Squadron

    Mr. Speaker, I celebrate each and every one of the extraordinary Royal Canadian air cadets in the 700 David Hornell VC Squadron.
     This past weekend, the Ontario Provincial Committee of the Air Cadet League of Canada presented the following awards to our outstanding squadron: Warrant Officer First Class Ashley Eugine, a first-year McMaster student who travels back every weekend to serve, was named Air Cadet of the Year from 8,500 air cadets in 114 squadrons, which is a tremendous achievement; Warrant Officer Second Class Nikhil Peri was the top Ontario student pilot on the 2014 Power Pilot Scholarship and received a Hamilton Flying Club Legacy Award; 2nd Lieutenant Jack Tornabene received a certificate of merit, one of only 21 awarded; and Major David Brown received a Cadet Instructor Cadre Award of Excellence, for which only six officers are honoured annually.
     I ask the House to recognize the outstanding achievements of 700 squadron.

Harvest Festivals

    Mr. Speaker, in the past few weeks I have had many opportunities to attend harvest festivals throughout my riding, also known as fall suppers. As I drive around my riding, I see that the harvest for the most part is complete. Now is the time to celebrate and thank God for the abundance he has blessed us with.
     I think the following words written by Matthias Claudius in 1782 most suitably express our gratitude this time of year:
    

We plough the fields and scatter
the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered
by God's almighty hand;
he sends the snow in winter,
the warmth to swell the grain,
the breezes and the sunshine,
and soft refreshing rain.

We thank thee, then, O Father,
for all things bright and good,
the seed-time and the harvest,
our life, our health, and food.

Accept the gifts we offer
for all your love imparts,
with what we know you long for:
our humble, thankful hearts.

    Today I stand to thank all the hard-working farmers across Canada, especially those in my riding of Provencher. In the gallery today are some young farmers from my riding: my children, Stacy and Nathan Martens.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

Longueuil Community Fair

    Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about the success of the first Foire communautaire de Longueuil, which was held last month.
    I organized this event in my riding, and it attracted more than 150 constituents and involved 16 community organizations and federal entities, which were there to address problems that arise every day.
    Over the past three years, I have seen the impact of this government's cuts on the people in my riding and the problems they have in trying to access the services to which they are entitled.
    I would like to remind members of the importance of our community organizations and the exceptional work they do every day. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank them all, even though I only have time to mention a few: Place Rive-Sud, the Comité logement Rive-Sud, and the Carrefour d'information pour les aînés.
    It is crucial that these organizations, which work to maintain the extremely fragile social fabric, continue to receive funding. The NDP is building bridges with people, organizations, and services for Canadians with events such as this. That is how we are building the Canada of tomorrow.

[English]

Head Start for Young Women

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that the city of London is one of six Canadian communities participating in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' head start for young women program. I am also proud to say that our government supported this project through Status of Women Canada.
    As a part of this program, a documentary called 25% has been produced that encourages young women to participate in their community through politics and civic engagement. I fully support this initiative.
     I, along with the Minister of Status of Women, was pleased to participate in this documentary. These efforts support one of the most important opportunities we have as a country: to empower women, young women, and girls. Why? Because helping them make their voices heard will truly make a difference for themselves, their families, and their communities.
    I salute all the participants in this initiative in London and across the country who are helping our country, take one more step towards equality.

Veolia Environmental Services

    Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Sarnia—Lambton, I am well aware of the inherent dangers that go along with the type of heavy industrial work that takes place in my riding.
     This weekend we were all reminded of the dangers of working with hazardous materials when an explosion took place at Sarnia's Veolia Environmental Services facility.
     On behalf of Sarnia—Lambton I thank the firefighters, police and paramedics who responded to the incident with courage and valour. Today we have learned that one of the five injured workers has succumbed to his injuries from the blast, while the others remain in critical condition. Sarnia—Lambton grieves this loss.
     With an investigation into what took place now ongoing, at this time our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragic incident, and their families. We call on all Canadians to keep them in their hearts.

Canada-China Relations

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is set to visit China in November. This is an important moment for Canada.
     It is a time for us to lay the foundations for a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship between our two countries and peoples in the 21st century.
     Canada owes much to China and Chinese Canadians for the many outstanding contributions they have made to our nation. From the Chinese immigrants who, at great sacrifice, built our national railway to the dynamic Chinese-Canadian community that today contributes to our economic, political, cultural, and scientific progress, our history and our future are immeasurably enriched.
     China is poised to become the world's largest economy and, as Canada's second most important trade partner, China will only grow in importance. However, progress is not measured in economic terms alone. Our ability to grow as nations depends also on our commitment to build societies that are peaceful and democratic and respect human rights.
     Today, I proudly stand with the Chinese-Canadian community that is dedicated to realizing these ideals for both nations.

  (1410)  

Grains and Oilseeds Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the grains and oilseeds sector is a significant contributor to the Canadian economy, which remains the top priority for our government.
     Today the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced an investment of $15 million to the Canadian International Grains Institute to support market development efforts and sales of Canadian field crops in global markets through customer education and training.
     This investment will support the Canadian International Grains Institute in its ongoing efforts to share technical and market knowledge with customers around the globe, further strengthening the competitive advantage for Canadian field crops. This will be achieved through technical exchanges, new crop missions, educational programs for global clients, and domestic training.
    While our government continues to support our farmers, the opposition would rather introduce a carbon tax to hinder Canada's competitive advantage in the grains and oilseeds sector.

[Translation]

Events in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu

    Mr. Speaker, the tragic events that occurred in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and cost Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent his life have deeply affected my community. This incomprehensible act of violence shocked Saint-Jean residents and Canadians across the country. My thoughts are with all of our men and women in uniform.
    As we know, over 30,000 people are associated with the military college and base in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. These institutions are a symbol of the courage of our soldiers, who risk their lives for us.
    I urge all my constituents to remain calm and rational in the face of fear and terror. As for me, I commit to work with my colleagues in the coming weeks to respond to these senseless acts of violence in a way that will keep Canadians safe while protecting their civil liberties. As our leader said, these acts were designed to drive us to hate, but they will not.

[English]

Domestic Violence

    Mr. Speaker, it is a silent issue and no one talks about it. Domestic violence is something that happens behind closed doors.
     Today I would like to bring Elisapee Sheutiapik to the attention of the entire House and her ongoing work to eradicate domestic violence.
     Her initiative is to have every road in this great country of ours named “Angel Street” so we can all benefit from the constant reminder that domestic violence persists and its victims bear no responsibility.
    The Angel Street project is gaining momentum. I would like to congratulate Elisapee for winning the Canadian Economic Club 2014 Voice of Hope Humanitarian Award. I hope all cities will consider participating in this project.
    Elisapee's action is bringing much-needed attention and a stream of light to this despicable, inexcusable, and barbaric behaviour. For this, all members of the House thank her and congratulate her.

Community of Cold Lake

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commend the community of Cold Lake, Alberta, for its display of humanity after a community mosque was vandalized last Friday. Residents and Canadian Armed Forces members in uniform went to the mosque to show their support and clean up after the vandalism.
    We cannot allow the tragic events of last week to compromise the ideas that we as Canadians hold dear. I can think of no better rebuttal to this act of vandalism than the compassionate action of the residents of Cold Lake. The message sent by these residents reflects a core human value: “Love your neighbour”. We are never stronger than when we are united in love and solidarity.

Remembrance Day

    Mr. Speaker, this Remembrance Day I will remember in particular veteran Nathan Cirillo and veteran Patrice Vincent. I will remember them for having embodied the very essence of what it means to be Canadian.
    Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who served our great country for 28 years and dedicated his life to the ideals of freedom and democracy, deserves our greatest respect and thanks.
    Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who stood guard at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in honour of the memory of tens of thousands of Canadian veterans, has touched the lives of millions of Canadians and will be remembered for his sacrifice.
    This Remembrance Day, I encourage all Canadians to make a special effort to attend a local Remembrance Day ceremony to pay their respects and in honour of those who have died for us and for our freedom.

  (1415)  

Parliament Hill

    Mr. Speaker, I was thrilled the public was allowed back on Parliament Hill last Friday night. We have the support of a remarkable security team that is committed to ensuring the safety of members, employees, and visitors, and they have made every effort to get things back to normal.
    The grounds of Parliament belong to the people of Canada. This is not an exclusive club or a place that is just meant for those with insider access. It is a place where every day, average Canadians can show up, take in the beauty, see our country's history, and watch democracy in action in the House of Commons or at committees.
    I encourage people to come to Parliament Hill if they can, as many have today. I am overjoyed to see the galleries open today to welcome Canadians, students, and tourists from all over and to show that now, more than ever, we are still a country of freedom, democracy, and openness.

Canadian Armed Forces

    Mr. Speaker, last week's events affected all Canadians. We are all mourning the loss of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who were both brutally murdered in cold blood.
    Make no mistake, we will not be intimidated or deterred by any act of terrorism against our armed forces. Last week, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, gave the orders for members of the Canadian Armed Forces to continue to stand to at their posts as part of the national sentry program. The national sentry program reinforces Canada's commitment to remember and honour those who have served, including in both World Wars, the Korean War, and most recently Afghanistan. Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent will not be forgotten.
    I also commend all Canadians who honoured the memory of both fallen soldiers along the Highway of Heroes on Friday. Canadians of all stripes gathered at the overpasses in solidarity and to demonstrate to the families of our fallen that they do not mourn alone.
    I want to thank all of our brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, especially those serving as sentries at war monuments across this great land, for standing on guard for Canada.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, today Parliament Hill has again opened its doors to the public, after last week's terrible events. This is an important statement about the openness and public nature of the House of Commons, which lies at the heart of our democracy.
    Will the government update the House on security measures that have been taken at federal sites, such as Parliament Hill, to allow them to reopen?
    Mr. Speaker, we are proud to be back in business here on the Hill, like last week.
    As you are well aware, Mr. Speaker, responsibility for security in the parliamentary precinct rests with your authority. You can count on our full support and that of the Board of Internal Economy.
    As members know, the silos we have today are not adequate. Security inside Parliament must be integrated with outside security forces.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, we are all relieved to welcome the public back to the gallery today.
     Members of Canada's military services are still coming to terms with last week's events targeting members of the Canadian Forces. The Minister of National Defence told us last week that the Chief of the Defence Staff is actively reviewing measures to ensure security for Canadian Forces members and civilian staff. Again, can the minister update the House on any measures that are being taken?
    Mr. Speaker, the military is taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our men and women in uniform. The hon. member may be aware that the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Lawson, has ordered a temporary measure with respect to where and when our armed forces should wear their uniforms. I accept his judgment, because, as always, the safety and security of our men and women in uniform has to be our primary concern.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, as we consider how to respond to these events and the attack in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, we need to proceed in a serious and thoughtful way. Any legislation must ensure that the core Canadian values of protecting public safety and civil liberties will be respected. We cannot sacrifice one core value for another.
    Will the government ensure that this House is allowed to conduct a proper study and hear from experts and Canadians on any new public safety legislation?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, the first responsibility of the government is to keep Canadians safe. We will not overreact, but it is also time we stop under-reacting to the great threats against us.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the National Post reported that the Conservative government plans on introducing new measures to make it illegal to condone terrorist acts online.
    Can the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness clarify his intentions?
    Mr. Speaker, we will introduce a bill today to clarify the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. This is the first step, but it is clear that we will move forward with other measures and that we will act quickly to protect Canadians' safety while still protecting privacy.
    Mr. Speaker, in light of the violence and the resulting state of insecurity, we need an approach that protects both Canadians' civil liberties and their safety. Those are both fundamental responsibilities of our Parliament.
    How does the government plan on bringing in new legislation that will protect Canadians' safety and civil liberties?
    Mr. Speaker, the primary responsibility of any government is to protect people's safety—to protect the safety and security of all citizens. We will obviously introduce measures that will protect Canadians from terrorists who seek to harm us, and at the same time we will ensure that we are protecting Canadians' civil liberties.
    I want to be clear: we are not overreacting, but we will also not just stand by. We will propose concrete measures to combat radicals, terrorists, Islamists, and anyone who wants to attack Canada.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Parliament is at its best on issues of national security when partisanship is set aside and the government and opposition parties work together. We saw that last week.
    In this spirit of non-partisanship, will the government commit to working with opposition parties on any new security legislation, and will it commit to holding detailed technical briefings for members of Parliament once any new legislation is introduced?
    Mr. Speaker, regarding the police inquiry related to the events that took place last week, the police are already providing details of dates. With regard to law, we will be more than willing to share a technical briefing with the opposition so we can have an open and frank discussion on matters of public safety. That is why we are moving forward with a first step today and are looking at other measures to keep Canadians safe.
    Mr. Speaker, Parliament works best on these issues when members of all parties can actively participate in the debate on legislation but also in productive and meaningful committee deliberations.
    Can the government provide a timeline with respect to the new national security legislation, and will the government commit to working with opposition members, both during the debate in the House and in committee, to see if we can all make amendments, which will improve and strengthen our national security legislation.
    Mr. Speaker, as I have just indicated, our government is moving forward today, and it will be seeking support from all parties in the House of Commons and the Senate to move this legislation forward as quickly as possible. The changes proposed in the government's existing CSIS bill are needed and are ready to be introduced.
    Further reforms to protect Canadians from terrorism will be presented in a second forthcoming piece of legislation following the agenda here in the House.

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, Parliament is at its best on issues of national security when partisanship is set aside and all members work together to engage in real debate and a meaningful process at legislative committees.
    Can the government give us an idea of its timeline and how quickly it intends to adopt the measures proposed this afternoon? Will it commit to working with opposition members to see if we could make amendments that would strengthen national security measures in forthcoming bills?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. As I said, today we will be introducing a bill that aims to clarify the mandate of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for authorities, so that it can operate in compliance with Canadians laws and protect Canadians from the terrorist threat and radical and dangerous individuals.
    We will begin by introducing that bill today and, in co-operation with the leaders of the House, we will move on to first reading. With the help of the House, this bill will move quickly through the process so that we can implement it.
    Mr. Speaker, the government's new anti-terrorism bill must strike a balance between the safety of Canadians and maintaining our civil liberties. The stakes are too high for the government to move ahead without considering the concerns of experts and the opposition.
    Will the government commit to working with us, and not shut down debate, to ensure that its bill protects Canadians while also upholding their civil liberties?
    Mr. Speaker, we will be introducing the bill today. This is a balanced bill that will protect Canadians while respecting all laws and individual rights. The important thing is for our national security agency to properly protect Canadians. That is why it is important to clarify its mandate.
    I hope that we can benefit from the opposition's co-operation. We have already had discussions on the matter and want to get on with an open debate to move this legislation forward so that it becomes the law of the land and an effective tool for protecting the Canadian people.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, earlier this month, the government put out calls for research on the role of the Internet in radicalization and on ways to prevent or intervene when Canadians are being radicalized. This research will provide important context for an appropriate response from government to radicalization.
    Will the results of this research be considered before any new legislation is brought forward by the government?
    Mr. Speaker, twice this week there have been brutal attacks on our soil, targeting Canadian Armed Forces members, perpetrated by radical Islamic terrorists. We are unwavering in our determination to degrade and destroy the threat posed by violent extremists, both abroad and right here at home.
    In the coming days and weeks, we will be working with our security agencies and taking all necessary actions to ensure that law-abiding Canadians are kept safe from those who wish to harm us.

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are like a broken record on the temporary foreign worker program. Time and again they made half-hearted reforms in response to public outcries, yet nothing really changed.
    In 2013 the Conservatives promised to crack down and ensure the program would be only a last resort for employers. Now we have learned that over the next two years, the number of low-skilled foreign workers in Canada actually increased.
    How could the Conservatives let this program get so out of hand?
    Mr. Speaker, regrettably, the preamble to the hon. member's question is completely inaccurate.
    The member will no doubt be interested to know that for the first six months of this year, the number of labour market impact assessment applications made by employers to have authorization to employ temporary foreign workers decreased by 75% compared to the number received in the first six months of 2012.
    With tougher penalties, much stronger inspections, a higher fee, better labour market information, and an absolute ban on low-skilled workers in regions of unemployment of over 6%, we are doing what Canadians expect.

  (1430)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to temporary foreign workers, the government has failed across the board.
    In 2013, its reform was supposed to restrict the number of unskilled workers coming into Canada. The latest data show that the number of unskilled temporary foreign workers has gone up again, even near reserves, where the unemployment rate is high. That makes no sense.
    Will the minister acknowledge his deplorable error and take the time to thoroughly reconsider his reform?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the NDP members because they make the same mistakes in both official languages. How wonderful.
    Compared to the first six months of 2012, the number of employer applications for temporary foreign workers in the first six months of this year dropped by three-quarters. That is a 75% reduction.
    We have enhanced the integrity of the system. There are harsher penalties for employers who abuse the program, and we are making sure that Canadians come first in the job market.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, after making cuts to the employment insurance program, now the Conservatives are dipping into the fund and using the budget implementation bill to set up a so-called hiring credit that is ineffective and ill-conceived.
    According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, this credit would create only about 800 jobs over two years. Each job would cost $550,000. It makes no sense.
    How can the Conservatives justify using workers' contributions to fund a program that will create practically no jobs?
    Mr. Speaker, our hiring credit for small businesses will reduce employment insurance payroll costs by 15% and will help businesses save more than $550 million.
    The CFIB says that the credit will create 25,000 person-jobs. We are reducing payroll costs for 90% of businesses. This will certainly help small businesses.

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' budget implementation bill is a 400-page monstrosity with 450 clauses. Several dozen statutes will be amended, on topics ranging from beekeeping to cable, employment insurance and refugee care. It is a real mixed bag.
    What is more, a number of measures in the bill are there simply to correct mistakes made in previous omnibus bills.
    Why is the government insisting yet again on passing a mammoth bill at top speed? What is it trying to hide?
    Mr. Speaker, our government's priorities are to create jobs and promote economic growth, and long-term prosperity.
    The government is taking measures to create jobs. For example, this bill will help create jobs and opportunities in Canada thanks to the new small business tax credit. I ask the opposition members to support this bill.

[English]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the latest omnibus budget bill combines the Polar Commission with the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, creating a new bureaucracy with a weaker reporting relationship with Parliament. Meanwhile there are numerous federal government Canadian Arctic science programs, such as the Polar continental shelf program at Natural Resources Canada, the Canadian Ice Service, and the NRC Arctic program.
    Climate change is a crisis in the Arctic. Why has the Conservative government not created an organization that provides complete overall coordination of Arctic science, one that reports yearly to this Parliament?
    Mr. Speaker, this amalgamation is an exciting opportunity to coordinate Arctic research. We have invested a significant amount of resources in creating Canada's High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay. That project will be concluded by 2017, again bringing together researchers. The approach that we are taking is that research shall actually be conducted in the Arctic, and we are providing the avenues to do that.

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, gutting science in the Arctic is just one of dozens of measures in the bill, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with the budget at all.
     The Conservatives have tabled another massive 458-page omnibus bill that would change dozens of laws with a single stroke of the pen, from airports to temporary foreign workers to federal judges. In fact, this omnibus bill attempts to fix mistakes from the last omnibus bill, which fixed mistakes from the omnibus bill before that.
    Will the Conservatives agree to stop using this Trojan horse strategy? How about a budget bill that actually deals with the budget?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government's top priority, as I said, is creating jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity. The budget implementation bill would make life more affordable for Canadian families by doubling the children's fitness credit to $1,000 and making it refundable, ending pay-to-pay billing practices by telecommunications companies, strengthening Canada's intellectual property regime to promote job creation, and improving conditions for business investment and access to international markets by reducing costs and red tape, and there is a lot more.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives usually bury their worst possible ideas somewhere deep in the omnibus bill, but this time around they decided to highlight this terrible job-credit scheme that has been criticized by economists, experts, and the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
    This scheme would spend hundreds of millions of dollars from the EI fund to create just 800 jobs. Now, maybe for Conservatives, spending more than half a million dollars to create one single job adds up, but it does not for the employers and employees who actually pay into the employment insurance fund, and it may even encourage some employers to fire employees.
    Will the Conservatives now reconsider their expensive and ill-considered scheme?
    Mr. Speaker, this plan will create 25,000 person-jobs, and that is why the CFIB is so supportive. It said:
     It's a big, big deal for small business. It's good news for people looking for jobs. ...small businesses in Canada should be thrilled with this announcement...because they told us time and time again that payroll taxes like EI are the biggest disincentive to hiring. So, any relief the government can provide will encourage them to be hiring more Canadians.
    We are very proud of this important initiative.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness seem able to explain why the government has failed to implement the laws currently on the books to protect Canadians.
    When passports were revoked on the basis of those holding them being a threat to public safety, the government failed to charge anyone, nor have charges been laid against any of the 80 returnees from terrorist acts abroad under the Combating Terrorism Act.
    In the minister's words, isn't that under-reacting?
     Why?
    Mr. Speaker, the top national security priority of this country is terrorism. That is why we have brought forward the Combating Terrorism Act. We are taking this threat very seriously. The decisions to use the powers that are provided to our law enforcement agencies are made by police authorities, not by politicians. We will make sure that they have sufficient power, and we are working on that.
    Mr. Speaker, let us turn to Friday's annual report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee. Regarding the activities of CSIS, it raised serious questions about the lack of communication within the agency, specifically that its regional surveillance teams “operate in total isolation from one another” and from headquarters.
    Will the minister answer for this serious concern raised by SIRC and explain what he is doing to overcome that lack of communication within the national security agency?
    Mr. Speaker, let me say up front that I have full trust in the capacity of CSIS to protect Canadians from any threat. That is why we need to bring CSIS the tools so that it can better protect us.
    I would like to thank the Security Intelligence Review Committee for its report. It is a strong and robust oversight body. I understand that CSIS is working on implementing its recommendations. We believe that SIRC provides excellent oversight. Other measures would only serve to be duplicative. I am looking to CSIS to work on those recommendations.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, beyond tools, let us talk about resources. The deputy director of CSIS, when before a Senate committee, raised concerns about the agency's ability to effectively monitor the 90 people currently identified as potential threats to Canadians. In addition, the RCMP commissioner raised concerns about the challenge to resources caused by national security investigations.
    Can the minister assure us that our national security agencies have the resources they need to effectively do their job and keep Canadians safe?
    Mr. Speaker, not only can our national security agency and law enforcement count on our government to provide them with the resources that are needed, as we have done in the past by increasing their budget by more than one-third, but they can count on us to give them the tools needed to protect Canadians.
    I hope we will have the support of my fellow Liberal colleague to not only improve their resources when we are adopting the budget but also to give them the tools that are so necessary to keep Canadians safe.

[Translation]

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, once again, the Conservatives are using a budget implementation bill to sneak in some contentious measures.
    This time they are attacking asylum seekers. Surreptitiously and without any debate, the Conservatives are proposing to allow the provinces to restrict access to social assistance.
     A number of local and national organizations are already speaking out against this inhumane and degrading measure. Will the minister remove it from the omnibus bill?
    Mr. Speaker, these measures do not in any way change access to social programs for asylum seekers, refugees or anyone else. This bill proposes giving the provinces and territories the authority to establish their own timeframes and deadlines for when the various categories of individuals can access social programs.
    On this side of the House, we respect provincial jurisdictions, and we will leave it up to the provinces and territories to set the ground rules for their social programs.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to attacking vulnerable refugees, it appears the Conservatives have no sense of shame. First they appealed the Federal Court ruling that found that their health care cuts are cruel and unusual; then, facing a public backlash against a private member's bill to strip refugees of social assistance, they slipped it into an omnibus budget bill.
    Canadians will not be fooled by this abuse of parliamentary process, and they expect better. Will the minister do the right thing and withdraw this measure from the budget bill?
    Mr. Speaker, this budget bill obviously does no such thing. It does not change the terms and conditions under which asylum claimants or refugees gain access to welfare or other social programs. It merely establishes a power for provinces and territories to establish their own waiting periods of residence before different categories of people can qualify for these social programs, including welfare. On this side of the House, we respect provincial and territorial jurisdiction, and we will leave it to them to determine the rules in the end.

Consumer Protection

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to Conservative promises, Canadians had better check the fine print. In their last budget, Conservatives promised to stop the banks from gouging people with pay-to-pay fees. It turns out that some conditions may apply.
    The new budget bill will let banks off the hook and leaves them free to charge Canadians just to receive their own bill. Why will the minister not stand up to the banks and keep his word to end pay-to-pay fees for all Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, we are doing just that.
     Let me review some of the other matters in the bill. The bill will strengthen Canada's intellectual property regime, promote job creation, and improve conditions for business investment and access to international markets while reducing costs and red tape. We are going to amend legislation to implement certain reforms to the temporary workers program. We are going to make the tax system fairer and simpler for farming and fishing businesses. We are going to extend the existing tax credit for interest paid on government-sponsored student loans, as well.

  (1445)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, let us ask them the question once more. With respect to the budget implementation bill, the Conservatives ended up listening to the NDP last week. They would finally eliminate the fees imposed on consumers who want to receive a paper invoice. However, as usual, the Conservatives only got it half right. The measure will only apply to telecommunications companies. Once again, the banks will be spared.
    My question is the following. Why are the Conservatives protecting the banks, which make record profits every year, instead of consumers, who are barely making ends meet?
    Mr. Speaker, that is not at all the case. We are taking action in this budget, as we promised in our throne speech.

[English]

    Here is what the Consumers' Association of Canada has said. It said they welcome the fact that the federal government will introduce legislation to end pay-to-pay billing practices in the telecommunications sector.
    That is what we promised to do in the throne speech. It is what we have delivered in this budget and the implementation bill that is before the Parliament of Canada.
     Again, if the NDP believes in putting action behind its rhetoric, we look forward to it voting in favour of this action that we have put before Parliament. Walk the talk.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, in Canada, using DNA for national identification purposes is strictly governed by provisions in the DNA Identification Act, which only permits DNA use for criminal justice purposes.
    Today could the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness please update the House on this very important measure?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Prince Edward—Hastings. This morning, our government, along with Senator Boisvenu, was pleased to present important legislation to create six new DNA-based indices pertaining to missing persons, human remains, and relatives of the missing, whose DNA can be instrumental in locating victims.

[English]

    Judy Peterson, the mother of Lindsey Nicholls, who disappeared in 1993, has been a tireless advocate for the creation of a DNA database of missing persons and dead persons, petitioning for the passage of legislation that has come to be known as “Lindsey's law”.
    She said, “It’s been a very long emotional journey, but I am absolutely thrilled with this crucial legislation.”
    I think late finance minister Flaherty would have agreed to put that in the budget.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, today the U.S. ambassador to the UN has criticized the international response to the Ebola crisis. She said that many countries are signing on to resolutions and praising the good work that the United States and the United Kingdom are doing, but said that they themselves have not taken responsibility yet.
    The ambassador calls for countries to send in beds and medical personnel. Will the government answer this call from our closest ally?
    Mr. Speaker, as of Friday, Canada's disbursement was $57 million. This disbursement ranks our country as the second among all contributors to the Ebola relief effort.
    Canadians can be proud of that, as they can be proud that Canada was one of the earliest responders to the Ebola crisis, with the provision of humanitarian assistance being delivered as early as April 2014. Canada has been at the forefront of the international response. For example, UNICEF has reached close to 900,000 people with Ebola prevention messages as we speak.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have been the hardest hit by the Ebola crisis. According to the WHO, over 10,000 cases of Ebola have been reported and over 5,000 people have succumbed to the illness.
    The United States and the United Kingdom have stepped up their efforts to deal with the crisis. Now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is asking other countries to do the same by sending beds and medical personnel.
    Will the government respond to that call?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said just last Friday, to date, Canada has given $57 million to combat the Ebola crisis. That makes Canada the second-largest donor in the fight against Ebola, which is saying something.
    I would add that Canada was one of the first countries to respond to the Ebola crisis and that we began providing humanitarian aid in April. We have also been at the forefront of the international response. For example, we know that UNICEF has now sent messages to about 900,000 people on how to prevent the Ebola virus, and that is mainly due to Canada's contribution.

  (1450)  

[English]

Manufacturing Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' failure to support our auto sector has cost us another major investment.
    The Ford Windsor engine line would have secured more than 1,000 good jobs for Canadians, but the failure of the federal and provincial governments to reach an agreement means that a $1.5 billion investment will go instead to Mexico.
    Conservatives are standing on the sidelines while we lose jobs to international competition. Can the minister explain why the Conservatives fail to support these good jobs for Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, that was completely devoid of facts.
    In fact, the member could talk to the Government of Ontario and to the Ford Motor Company itself about the negotiations we have had over the past couple of months on this very file. While she is doing that, she might want to look at the Oakville Ford plant, where Ford announced just a couple of weeks ago that it has hired 1,000 Canadians to work at that plant, above and beyond the 1,200 jobs that were secured by virtue of the investment that was made there.
    It is true, that we do believe in supporting Canada's auto sector, but of course there is a limit to the tolerance of Canadian taxpayers for these kinds of investments, and the NDP knows no limits.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister should talk to unemployed workers in Windsor. That is what he ought to do.
    Unfortunately, the Ford engine plant is just the latest in a series of disappointments for southern Ontario. More than 400,000 good manufacturing jobs have disappeared under the Conservatives' watch, and there go another 1,000 jobs to Mexico.
    When do the Conservatives plan to support creating good manufacturing jobs right here in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, manufacturing is up 25% since the recession.
    It is going up, and it is going up across this country. Certainly there are challenges in the Canadian economy. There are challenges, but we are tackling them responsibly.
    When it comes to the auto sector, I just gave the example of the Ford Oakville plant: 1,000 new jobs, above the 1,200 that were created by virtue of the Project Northern Star investment that is happening there.
    There is investment there is because of agreements like the Canada-Europe Free Trade Agreement, where every single automobile being manufactured in a plant can now be sold tariff-free into the European market. They are being sold around the world.
    It is creating jobs for Canadians. Ford knows it, and Canadians know it.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. It is a non-partisan question.
    Last week, we tabled a motion asking the government to work openly and collaboratively with Parliament to end the Ebola epidemic at source, in West Africa, and to have a clear national plan in case of an infection in Canada.
    Will the minister accept our offer to be open and co-operative, and support this motion?
    Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more. I think all health matters ought to transcend partisan politics.
    I can say that we have reviewed the motion. We are disappointed that the opposition would not accept friendly amendments which would have had the Chief Public Health Officer and the Minister of Health immediately go to committee and take all questions.
    We think during an international pandemic, it is critical that the Chief Public Health Officer focus his resources on communicating with the provinces and the territories. In fact, today the Minister of Health is speaking with her provincial and territorial counterparts. The Chief Public Health Officer is regularly meeting with his counterparts.
    It is critical that we face down Ebola.

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, I have not heard of a single province, no matter how Conservative, ever trying to get out of its responsibility to make social assistance payments to refugee claimants. Will the minister stop hiding behind provincial jurisdiction and admit the reality that his law intends to persuade provinces to deny social assistance to refugee claimants, even though these are among the most vulnerable people in the world, and even though they often cannot work and have no other means to put food on the table?
    Mr. Speaker, these measures merely establish new power for provinces and territories, which they have not previously had, to establish minimum periods of residency to qualify for social programs, including welfare. The terms and conditions under which those programs are delivered remain with the provinces and territories. We respect that provincial jurisdiction, and it will be up to the provinces and territories to decide the rules of the game.

  (1455)  

[Translation]

Quebec Bridge

    Mr. Speaker, the member for Lévis—Bellechasse and Minister of Public Safety continues to hope that CN will repaint the Quebec Bridge. However, the Superior Court just ruled in favour of CN, which will not have to finish painting the bridge. This legal battle cost taxpayers $1 million, and the bridge is still not painted.
    Will the minister stop hiding behind the courts and have this bridge repainted once and for all?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, obviously we are disappointed with the decision of the courts. My officials are looking into the ruling right now. I would caution the House that there is a second part of this ruling, this judgment, that will be coming out, and we are going to be waiting for that.
    That being said, we still firmly stand on the proposition that CN should paint this bridge, and we have done exactly the right thing in pursuing this on behalf of taxpayers.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, let me remind the minister what the Prime Minister had to say to the Quebec City chamber of commerce in the middle of the election campaign in December 2005. At the time, the Prime Minister asked the people of Quebec to vote for him in order to take the paintbrush from the Liberal transport minister's hands. Nine years later, still no paintbrush.
    The Quebec Bridge, one of the jewels of our capital, is still rusting away. When will the minister take responsibility and have the bridge repainted?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, first we should be very clear that this bridge is safe and that it has an ability to be used on a daily basis as it is. Second, it is CN's responsibility to ensure it is keeping up the infrastructure in an appropriate way. We say that includes utilizing the bridge in such a way as to ensure that it is painted.
    The court has made a ruling right now. There will be a second ruling coming, and we are waiting for that. In the meantime, my officials are reviewing what the court has said so far.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, last week Canadians mourned the loss of two brave Canadian heroes. The motorcade carrying Corporal Cirillo made its way down the Highway of Heroes, bringing him home to his final resting place.
    Can the Minister of Veterans Affairs please update this House on the response by Canadians to these despicable terrorist attacks last week?
    Mr. Speaker, all members of this House have been encouraged by the overwhelming show of support and solidarity demonstrated by Canadians from coast to coast to coast in honouring the heroism of Warrant Officer Vincent and Corporal Cirillo. In particular, I was deeply moved as I joined countless citizens and first responders who paid their respect to Corporal Cirillo on the Highway of Heroes on Friday.
    As we lay these heroes to rest, we can say with absolute confidence to their families, colleagues, and friends that a grateful nation will never forget their sacrifice. Lest we forget.

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, the government has already spent money to advertise a program that does not exist. Now it is spending money to advertise the 150th anniversary of Confederation, even though it has no plan for that anniversary.
    Artists' groups have been clear: despite several committee reports, the government has no plan, no proposal, no inspiration and no budget, apparently.
    Why is the minister putting the cart before the horse and spending money to advertise a celebration for which she has no plan?
    Mr. Speaker, I believe my colleague is referring to the current advertising campaign for the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference and the Quebec Conference.
    I do not understand why the Liberals do not want to celebrate these two conferences that are so important for our country and for all Canadians.
    We are approaching the 150th anniversary of our country and we will continue to plan this celebration. However, at the same time, we will be celebrating the Quebec Conference and the Charlottetown Conference with a great deal of pride.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday Ukrainians bravely went to the polls throughout most of the country despite continued intimidation and aggression. The election is an important step forward for Ukrainian democracy. Elections next week in the eastern regions must also be free and fair.
    How will Canada help ensure that all Ukrainians can have their say in the formation of a new government? What support will the Canadian government give to strengthen democratic governance in Ukraine following the election?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, Canada commends the people of Ukraine for their show of resiliency and determination for a better future as they voted yesterday. Intimidation tactics and violence have not prevented the people of Ukraine from exercising their democratic right to work for a sovereign and united country.
    Canada will continue to proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian people as they chart a new course in history, one that is peaceful and one where Ukraine is recognized by all nations as free, democratic and sovereign.

International Development

    Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Kelowna Sunrise Rotary Club, I have heard first-hand from my constituents that they are concerned with the living conditions of those in the developing world. I am so pleased to learn of our government's announcement of a continued partnership with Rotary and how Rotary International recognized the Prime Minister with the organization's polio eradication champion award for his efforts to support a polio-free world.
    Could the hard-working minister who attended our Rotary Club meeting last year please update the House on our recent commitment of $1.1 million over one year to support vulnerable people in Honduras and Guatemala in partnership with the Canadian Rotary?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is proud of our long-standing partnership with Rotary. I want to thank my colleague from Kelowna—Lake Country for his hard work as a Rotarian.

[Translation]

     We know that Canada's Rotarians are working with our government to make it possible for more children to go to school, for small businesses to obtain funding, and for communities to build water system infrastructure.

[English]

    We can all learn from Rotarians' will to help the less fortunate. Our government is proud to partner with an organization that is recognized for engaging Canadians and its service to others, whether at home or abroad.

[Translation]

Rail Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has revealed that railway companies are failing to report accidents. Since 2007, at least 254 incidents were not reported or were reported late.
    Even though most of the accidents not reported were minor, does the minister acknowledge that her government's approach of letting the industry regulate itself is not working?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. Railways must report rail occurrences under the Transportation Safety Board regulations.
    The Transportation Safety Board said today that it has found cases when they have not. This is completely unacceptable. We expect that TSB will take whatever precautions and whatever action it can to ensure that they are enforcing these regulations.

[Translation]

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, in March 2013, the agriInnovation program was created in order to allow farm businesses to apply for financial support for research, development and technology transfer activities.
    A company in Contrecoeur, in my riding, submitted an application in June 2013 but did not receive a response for 15 months. Nevertheless, the government has indicated that responses are provided within 100 working days. Clearly, it took far longer than 100 working days.
    I have already informed the minister of the situation, but he never got back to me, so I am asking the question again.
    How long must businesses wait to get a response?
    Mr. Speaker, our government continues to invest in targeted, results-based, industry-led research in order to help our farmers become more competitive.
    We invested over $326 million in agricultural research in the 2013-14 fiscal year. We also announced a 50% increase in spending on cost-shared FPT initiatives and an investment of over $3 billion in innovation under the Growing Forward 2 framework.

[English]

Public Safety

     Mr. Speaker, in the years since 9/11, the Government of Canada has put $12 billion toward increased security measures. No doubt, we will have calls for vastly increased spending in the future, given the events of Wednesday.
    The specific life stories of the two men who committed egregious acts of murder suggest that investments in mental health and addiction counselling would also improve public safety. Does the minister have a view on this?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, we have seen an individual who has committed a criminal act. He has targeted one of the symbols that make us very proud as Canadians. He was acting on a political decision. This is clearly a terrorist act. This is what we are considering. We will work all together, with all our partners, to keep Canadians safe.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, over year ago, in its throne speech, the government promised taxpayers balanced budget legislation.
    However, with oil trading at under $81 a barrel, with Canada now involved in an important mission in Iraq, and with domestic security agencies about to get enhanced power and presumably additional resources, is the government still on track to balance the budget this fiscal year? If so, could we please see balanced budget legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, the government is on track to have a budgetary surplus next year. As we promised, our key priority will be to reduce taxes for hard-working Canadian families.
    The Canadian economy is doing very well. However, we have always said that it is the external risks that we worry about most. The international financial situation is fragile and geopolitical risks can, of course, affect all countries. We are keeping Canada strong to meet those challenges.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 29 petitions.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the third part of the 2014 ordinary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, held in Strasbourg, France, June 23 to 27, 2014.

Committees of the House

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to report, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in relation to Bill C-591, an act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act, regarding pension and benefits.
    The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House today to introduce legislation to allow members of our RCMP who are retired, and their spouses, into the veterans independence program. Those in the military who are frail or who have an injury because of service can apply for the VIP, which allows them to stay in their homes longer by providing housekeeping and groundskeeping services. For years we have tried to also allow this for disabled and infirmed RCMP veterans and their spouses, but unfortunately we have been unsuccessful. That is the purpose of this legislation. We believe that our RCMP veterans are equal to the heroes of our military and deserve equal access to a program of this nature. The VIP program is a very good program for our military. We would like to see it extended to RCMP veterans and their families.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Committees of the House

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities  

     moves that the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, presented on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, be concurred in.

  (1510)  

    Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Speaker: The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: On division.

    (Motion agreed to)

[Translation]

Business of the House

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:
    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the hours of sitting and the order of business of the House on Monday, November 3, 2014, shall be that of a Wednesday;
    That the Address by the President of the French Republic, to be delivered in the Chamber of the House of Commons at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, November 3, 2014, before Members of the Senate and the House of Commons, together with all introductory and related remarks, be printed as an appendix to the House of Commons Debates for that day and form part of the records of this House; and
    That the media recording and transmission of such address, introductory and related remarks be authorized pursuant to established guidelines for such occasions.

[English]

    Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

Agriculture  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to submit a petition signed by constituents in my riding of Leeds—Grenville. They call on the Government of Canada to refrain from making changes to the Seeds Act or the Plant Breeders' Rights Act.
    Mr. Speaker, I have two sets of petitions signed by hundreds of people from Nanaimo—Cowichan who call upon Parliament to refrain from making any changes to the Seeds Act or the Plant Breeders' Rights Act through Bill C-18, an act to amend certain Acts relating to agriculture and agri-food, that would restrict farmers' rights or add to farmers' costs. Further, they call upon Parliament to enshrine in legislation the inalienable right of farmers and other Canadians to save, reuse, select, exchange, and sell seeds.

Iraq  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on Iraq. The UN Secretary-General calls on the international community to support the government and the people of Iraq and to do all it can to help alleviate the suffering of the populations affected by the current conflict in Iraq. Thousands of lives are at risk unless they receive urgent lifesaving items, including shelter. Many of those affected by the violence belong to Iraq's minority ethnic and religious communities, including Christians, Shabak, Turkmen, Yazidi, and others. Over 1,000 petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to protect and advocate on behalf of the people of Iraq and to increase Canada's humanitarian aid to Iraq.

Prostitution  

    Mr. Speaker, I have signed petitions calling upon Parliament to consider the purchase of sex a criminal offence and for pimps and madams not to be able to profit from the sex trade.

The Senate  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of my constituents in Newton—North Delta to present a petition calling on the House to abolish Canada's unelected and unaccountable Senate. Appointed senators, especially those who abuse their power, do not represent the interests or values of Canadians. The Senate costs taxpayers over $90 million a year and sits for only 90 days. Surely that money could be better spent elsewhere. It is time for Canada to abolish the undemocratic Senate.

  (1515)  

Democratic Reform  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions. The first is from petitioners primarily in the Victoria, B.C. area, but there are some as well from further up Vancouver Island, calling on the House to consider the urgency of amending the Canada Elections Act to move toward proportional representation in our voting system.

Security Certificates  

    Mr. Speaker, the other petition comes from residents within Saanich—Gulf Islands who call on the government to end the use of security certificates, noting that they are open for abuse and likely violate an individual's rights to a fair trial.

Iraq  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from Londoners, from both the Christian and Muslim communities. Those two communities are very supportive of each other and have great mutual respect for each other's views. They ask the Canadian government to highlight the plight of Iraqi Christians and to use all diplomatic and humanitarian efforts to assist them in their plight. They ask the Canadian government to assist other like-minded governments and organizations that are engaged in the effort to stop the suffering of Iraqi Christians and to work with all governments and organizations currently engaged in humanitarian and diplomatic assistance.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I stand today to present a petition from many of my constituents who live in rural Canada. These individuals are opposed to the government's decision to downsize rural post offices in many of their communities. They have no postal service or very reduced service. They feel that this is not the appropriate way to deliver postal services to people in rural Canada. It will cause undue hardship in many of these areas that are highly dependent on postal services, and they ask the government to reconsider its decision.

[Translation]

The Senate  

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition about abolishing the Senate.
     We, the undersigned residents of Canada, recognize the following:
that there is no place for an unelected, unaccountable Senate in our democracy;
that the $92.5 million a year it costs to run this archaic institution would be better spent elsewhere; and
that appointed senators, especially those who abuse their privileges, do not represent the interests or values of Canadians.
    Therefore, we call on the Government of Canada to abolish the unelected, unaccountable Senate once and for all.

[English]

Questions on the Order Paper

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

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

Hon. James Moore (for the Minister of International Trade)  
     moved that Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea, be read the third time and passed.
    Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to stand today in the House to commence third reading of Bill C-41, the historic Canada-Korea free trade agreement, which, as I have said in the House before, represents Canada's first free trade agreement in Asia. It is a free trade agreement with a partner country in Asia that represents the third-largest economy in Asia, and it is a country Canada has had a strong, and in fact, historic and deep relationship with for almost 70 years.
    The Republic of South Korea represents a population of 50 million people and an economy of $1.3 trillion. It is the 15th largest economy in the world by GDP, and it is already Canada's seventh-largest trade partner in terms of two-way merchandise trade. It is a very exciting opportunity for us.
    In my remarks I will also touch upon some of our strong ties. They make our agreement with Korea an important one, as our first in Asia, with an appropriate partner, given our shared history.
    It is also strategically important, because in recent years, some of our friends and competitors in global commerce have reached agreements with South Korea. In 2011, the European Union reached a free trade agreement with South Korea. We have seen tariff rates drop for exporters in the EU countries. More critically, in 2012, the U.S. entered into a free trade agreement with South Korea. Months before we reached our final agreement, Australia reached an agreement in principle and a final agreement with South Korea for free trade.
    That is critical, because these are some of our strongest friends and allies, but they are also our competitors. For some of our world-class exporters in industrial goods, agriculture, seafood, and forestry, which are some of the sectors that will have tremendous opportunities in Korea, their main competitors are in that market. It is critical for our country to take advantage of a free trade agreement that will get our exporting sectors, particularly some of our lead sectors, back on a level playing field with their international global competitors.
    The review of this agreement and the opportunity it presents to Canadian exporters is tremendous. It is expected to increase trade by 32%, for a net impact of almost $2 billion on the Canadian GDP. It is historic.
    As I have said in the House many times before, particularly to some of my friends in the opposition who forget this key statistic, one out of every five jobs in Canada is directly attributable to trade. Canada is a country of 33 or so million people. It is one of the best, brightest, and wealthiest countries in the world, with tremendous resources and tremendous people. It is a strong, diverse country, with an economy that reflects that.
    However, in a global economy, we cannot survive by just selling to ourselves. I am proud to be part of a government that has put trade at the forefront of its economic strategy.
    Another point I have raised in the House before is that it is actually Conservative governments that have secured almost all of our market access for exporters. Those one in five jobs are, in many ways, attributable to both the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney, with the historic U.S. free trade agreement and NAFTA, and, critically, this government and our Prime Minister and the Minister of International Trade. I work with them closely as the parliamentary secretary. They have secured 98% of market access for our exporters. That is truly an incredible statistic. It is virtually all their market access. In fact, many of the very few small free trade agreements the Liberal government of Prime Minister Chrétien was able to secure we are actually going back and enhancing and augmenting to make them better.
    I am glad we are here at third reading, and I am glad the NDP has made a strong decision, for once, on trade and will actually support this agreement and our swift passage of this bill, Bill C-41, because January 1 is a critical deadline for our exporters.

  (1520)  

    I said earlier in my remarks that our competitors in the EU and U.S. already had free-trade agreements. New tariff reductions will kick in on January 1 and if we do not have our agreement in place by January 1, yet another little delta, another little change between Canada and its competitors will come into place. That is something we just cannot afford to happen.
    I would like to thank John Masswohl from the Canadian Cattlemen's Association who appeared before the Standing Committee on International Trade on this very point, saying that as of January 1, tariff rates would change for beef, a key sector for us in South Korea, and our American competitors in that space will leap ahead as that tariff rate ticks down. I think he said that there would be a point spread of 10.7% between our world-class beef and some of the American beef. This shows us that time is of the essence, and that is why I am glad we are here at third reading. It looks like we are on track to have this in law and able to take advantage by January 1 and not fall behind some of our key competitors.
    In my speech at second reading, I took time to talk in-depth about the relationship between our countries and about the visit I had to South Korea several months ago to help secure passage of this deal through its national assembly. I spoke about how touched I was by the person-to-person ties that had been developed between our countries.
     Indeed, South Korea represents one of our best friends as a nation and a key ally in Asia. It is an almost a 70-year relationship, starting with missionaries, many of whom were still remembered in Seoul when we were there. They were bringing faith and education, and enhancing education on the ground, ensuring it was accessible for more people.
     We can see the tremendous progress that has taken place since then. A country that 60 years ago was one of the largest net recipients of food aid from around the world is now one of the largest contributors of money to the United Nations' food programs. It is a remarkable statistic accomplished in just two generations. Education, openness and an increasingly strong democracy in South Korea has been key to that achievement.
    There are approximately 200,000 or so Korean Canadians who have also been key in building these bridges between our countries, and I spoke about several of them. I still speak with Mr. Ron Suh, who was on the ground in Seoul. He advises the government of South Korea as part of the National Unification Advisory Council. People around the globe with Korean lineage work with the country on the ultimate goal of having North Korea emerge from its decades of darkness and reunify the peninsula again. Mr. Ron Suh remains a strong component. He is an example of one of these 200,000 Canadians who have brought our countries closer together and who are very supportive of this deal.
    For me, as someone who served in uniform for 12 formative years of my life, the highlight of my trip to South Korea was spending time with Minister Park, the minister for Patriots and Veterans Affairs in South Korea. I found that title unique and I asked him about it. When the people were under attack from the north and from Chinese forces, it was not just the military or nations like Canada that stood firm with them to try to preserve their country, but also members of their public. Everyday citizens were called into action, and they are referred to as the “patriots”. It was not just uniformed members of their military; indeed, it was everyone, men, women and children in some cases. They are the patriots in the department of patriots and veterans affairs.

  (1525)  

    Our delegation joined Minister Park at its national war memorial and war museum. We laid wreaths at the Hall of Honour, where the 516 Canadian names appear on the tablets, the ones from the almost 26,000 Canadians who responded 60 years ago to the United Nations call to respond to the conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
    Staring at those names as a modern day veteran was moving, names from across the country, French and English. These were young people in their prime, many of whom had served just years earlier in World War II and served again. Without hesitation, the Korean people deeply respect that sacrifice and remember it to this day.
    In my last speech in the House, I said that from school children to ministers of the government, everyone thanked our delegation for Canada's historic efforts to secure their democracy and the country that is South Korea today. That is moving when we see remembrance as a cornerstone of their civic duty and culture.
    For me, I am also fortunate. A good friend from my riding who lives not far from me in Durham, Mr. Doug Finney, is the president of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada, working with veterans on remembrance, both here in Canada and in Korea.
     Ted Zuber is a war artist. He is from the Royal Canadian Regiment. One of his stunning paintings fundraised by the Korea Veterans Association has a place of honour in their national war museum. It depicts some of the battles related to the Battle of Kapyong, in which the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry demonstrated heroics, saving Korean, American and Australian lives with that tremendous battle, even calling in fire on Hill 677, their own position to hold that line.
    To this day, the PPCLI remains one of the few world regiments that has the U.S. presidential citation that members wear on their uniforms. That is for the heroic deeds at Kapyong.
    It was very important for me to write in the Book of Remembrance that I was visiting its museum in the centennial year for that regiment, a regiment that was founded in Ottawa 100 years ago last month.
    We were fortunate just last month, September 20 and 21, to have a state visit from President Park from South Korea as part of our historic engagement on this free trade agreement. I was fortunate to join the Prime Minister, other members of the House and my friend Doug Finney on behalf of the Korea Veterans Association at a state dinner hosted by the Governor General.
    It was clear, the affection between the countries, from all the remarks that evening. The Governor General himself reflected on his recent visit to South Korea, describing it as both a beautiful and flourishing country. What struck me in particular about his remarks was he said that he greatly admired its tenacity and creative spirit. I hope Canadians can see that we are indeed part of helping them establish the modern country they have today.
    This agreement, in many ways, represents the next stage in our relationship as two countries. This will reduce tariff rates between our countries to allow us to trade under most favoured nation status. Most favoured nation should be the status between countries as close as ours.
    I recited dozens of tariff lines in my speech at second reading. I certainly do not want to bore the House too much with the same tariff lines. Therefore, I will try, for a few moments, to talk about how these tariff lines, 4.7, 10.8 that seem like regulatory numbers lead to jobs. One in five Canadian jobs is attributable to trade, as I said at the outset. I will talk about a few strategic markets for that.
    Seafood is a huge winner. Having lived in Atlantic Canada for many years, and having married into the Atlantic Canadian Grant family in Fall River, Nova Scotia, I know how proud Atlantic Canadians are of their seafood industry. Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia have tremendous wins. Canada is recognized for seafood, and there are tariff rates of up to 47%.

  (1530)  

    At 47%, if they have to add that to their price, our exporters, our fisher processors and our fishermen will not have access to that market, lobster in particular. Atlantic lobster is the best in the world, bar none. It is already selling in to the market in South Korea. I said in my last speech how at Chuseok, the South Korean thanksgiving, lobster is considered a treat that South Koreans bring to their family to celebrate thanksgiving and their origins. It has a 20% tariff rate for live and processed lobster. Eliminating that at a time when we already have access to that market, even with the higher price because our lobster is better, just means huge opportunities for Atlantic Canada.
    While in Halifax on a visit, I had the pleasure to meet with officials from Korean Airlines, which has already started direct cargo flights from Halifax of Atlantic lobster, primarily from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, to take advantage of the market. As of January 1, once we get this through the House, the 20% tariff rate will come down, meaning huge opportunities for Atlantic Canada.
    Regarding industrial goods, I am from Ontario and we are very proud of our manufacturing industrial sector. Ninety-five per cent of tariff lines will be eliminated when this agreement comes into force. Why is that so important? Increasingly, in our global economy there are global supply chains. Even if there is a manufacturing plant in a country in Asia, it may source supplies for its assembly from around the world. We are seeing that already. Great Canadian companies like Magna and others have already taken advantage of this in auto and elsewhere. This is an opportunity, with these tariff reductions, to have more of our companies compete for work in the supply chain. The South Korean conglomerates are well-known in trade around the world, and that is an opportunity for our employers.
    In agriculture and agri-food, 85% of agricultural tariff lines come down as part of this agreement. There are huge wins for pork. I toured the facility in Brandon, Manitoba along with the MP for Brandon—Souris. There is huge opportunity in that industry.
    For beef, grain and oil seeds, there are huge wins.
    For fruits, such as blueberries from Atlantic Canada, there are tariff reductions on all of them. It means great opportunities as the people of the rising middle class in South Korea demand high-quality food from a safe, strong, healthy regulatory regime like Canada's. They will pay more already but with tariff lines coming down, it will be even more competitive.
    David Lindsay from the Forest Products Association of Canada appeared before our committee. In regard to forestry products, there are tariff reductions in the range of 2.9% to 10% for wood and finished wood products. I toured with an employer who has assembly plants for value-added wood products in Ontario and in British Columbia. He predicted doubling his workforce based only on the South Korea market. He is certainly equally as optimistic about the European Union trade agreement and some of our other negotiations, but that is for this one country alone because of the burgeoning middle class in that country.
    We are very proud of our auto industry in Ontario. As I said in my last speech on this issue, my dad is a GM retiree. I am proud of our roots in the Oshawa area for auto manufacturing. We have secured a deal that is equal to or even better than some of the outcomes the U.S. achieved for autos. What is critical here is entering into the supply chain and jobs in the auto supply and parts sector is as critical to the Ontario economy as it is to the big manufacturers. As I said in my remarks the first time, what many Canadians seem to forget is we are very proud of Ford, Chrysler and GM, and it came up in question period today. They are all subsidiaries. The senior management teams in each of those cities do not make the decision on what rolls off the production line. That decision is made in the United States, which already has a free trade agreement with South Korea.

  (1535)  

    Why, as responsible legislators, would we allow our auto sector in Ontario to have one less country it can access on the same terms as the U.S. plants? We know that in this global auto age, they compete against one another for jobs.
    This is a huge win for Canada. It is up to a $2-billion hit to our GDP. I really hope that all members in the House vote in favour and that we have quick passage.

  (1540)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my hon. colleague on his speech. We work together on the international trade committee, where we have been studying this important deal.
    As Canadians know, the New Democrats are supporting the Canada-South Korea trade agreement because we believe, on balance, it is of net benefit to Canada. I am happy to work together with my colleague to expedite the bill through the House.
    He is right about the need to put this agreement in place quickly. We heard testimony in committee from a number of witnesses that it is important for the Canadian business sector to have the agreement in place, if at all possible, by January 1. That is when the next tranche of tariff reductions come down in the Korea-U.S. deal, and we need to keep our businesses competitive.
    I want to focus on one aspect of the deal and get my hon. colleague's comment on it. South Korea is a world leader in green technology, renewable energy, and conservation technology, and unlike the Conservative government, it is dedicating a substantial amount of money, 2% of its GDP, to that sector. With a trillion-dollar economy, that is $20 billion a year that South Korea is investing to develop green technology. That is one thing New Democrats believe is a positive about the deal: Canada can join with South Korea and improve our trade in that very important green technology sector, which we believe will be an important sector for Canada's economy in the future.
    I wonder if my hon. colleague has any comments on the opportunities that this deal may present for Canada in terms of green technology, renewable energy, and energy conservation.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his question and his remarks. Our committee, by and large, functions very well, and I want to thank him for his collaboration on the urgency of getting Bill C-41 through the committee stage. As he said, the January 1 deadline is critical, because we could fall further behind.
    In my remarks I touched very quickly on some of the industrial components on which tariffs would be reduced. Ninety-five per cent of tariff lines in the industrial side would be reduced. For example, manufacturing of solar panels or wind turbine parts would be caught by those provisions, and those tariffs would instantly come down.
    My friend likely knows there is already quite a large investment in Ontario by one of the large South Korean conglomerates in this area. That has led to some employment. Certainly implementation was not done very well by the Ontario government, because there have been some trade challenges in that area of renewable energy, but we see this area as a potential win.
    The evolution of our relationship to a point where we are a most favoured nation on the trade side would also lead to regulatory environmental coordination and compliance efforts. Whenever countries like ours collaborate, two of the top 15 economies, it is only going to improve environmental standards over time and increase the opportunity for jobs in that sector.
    Mr. Speaker, we had the opportunity to speak to the bill when it was in the House earlier. I know my colleague had an opportunity to discuss some of the people-to-people ties we have with South Korea. In my riding of Newmarket—Aurora I have a rather substantial Korean-Canadian community. They are hard-working, industrious people, but they are also the bridge for many of us into the South Korean market. I wonder if my colleague has any comments on that people-to-people tie that Canada has established.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hard-working member for Newmarket—Aurora for joining us again. The last time she intervened in my speech at second reading, she shared a very personal story about her family's service and her relative, whose name is one of the 516 names on the monument where I laid a wreath. Moments like that bring all members of the House together, particularly after last week.
    Sharing our own perspectives and those of 200,000 Korean Canadians is critical. Several from the Vancouver area appeared before the trade committee. Their perspectives have been critical in getting us to this stage. I have mentioned a few people individually over my two speeches on this bill, but that has been the evolution of the relationship between our countries. It was our commitment to the Korean War, and then it was increasingly the people-to-people connections.
    As well, it is the educational component. Many people from South Korea come to our fantastic universities and colleges across the country, and increasingly our young university graduates going to teach English in Seoul and other regions of South Korea.
    We cannot create these types of bonds at a government level. It is a real enhancer and it will only increase once this agreement is in place.

  (1545)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I will have the opportunity to speak to this tomorrow morning. It is a pleasure to hear today's debate and participate in it.
    I would like to reiterate that the NDP supports free trade agreements with democratic countries such as South Korea. It could be excellent news for various sectors, including the aerospace industry, which is very important to my riding.
    The NDP uses a number of criteria to assess free trade agreements. The agreement has to be beneficial to Canada, and it must be concluded with a democratic country that has very rigorous regulations governing the environment and human rights.
    I would like to ask the government why it chose to negotiate a free trade agreement with a country like Honduras, whose economy is approximately equal to that of the Ottawa-Gatineau region? The current government there is not doing anything to address the fact that journalists are being murdered. Leaders and workers are also being murdered there. Why did the government choose to negotiate a free trade agreement with a country like Honduras?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles is a nice addition to our trade committee. It is clear that she does not want to talk about this great agreement, so she is talking about something else. She has learned the art of politics already, I see. However, I am glad she raised this point.
    It is critical to note that trade is a way to engage countries. Countless witnesses at the trade committee and even some of the people from Honduras who are working on missing people said, as my NDP friends would have to admit, that these countries cannot be excluded from the global community. Engagement leads to more democracy, more institution-building, and a better life. When we were working on the Honduras agreement, we heard the choices people had: either narcotrafficking, or potentially working with global exporters in countries trying to invest in that country.
    We can just ignore these problems, or we can engage. We are also investing to help strengthen that country's judicial and investigative systems to make sure that crimes are punished.
    We on this side of the House choose engagement. We choose to give people stricken by poverty in these countries an opportunity to provide for their families. That will lead to better choices. When we also target our aid through the strategic economic diplomacy that I am proud to be a part of, we are helping them to improve their institutions as we give people on the ground more economic opportunities. I am proud of all of our deals, large and small.
    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we can get some sense of the government's current approach to investor state agreements.
    The hon. member will know that the Green Party opposes them in any context, but there is a vast difference between the draft text on the proposed CETA and this Canada-Korea agreement. CETA is obviously an attempt to appease European parliamentarians who do not want it in any way, shape, or form. It is much more open. It allows the public to attend.
    I am wondering if my hon. colleague has any comments on the differences.

  (1550)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is always good to debate with my friend, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. I was hoping for a moment that we might hear briefly from the Liberal trade critic. Perhaps we will next time.
    ISDS, or investor state dispute settlement programs, are critical within these agreements, and there is a reason for the difference between the two. Countries of the European Union have fairly long histories and well-developed legal systems, whether common law or civil law, both of which Canada has, and they have certain expectations with respect to having all parties agree as to where a dispute will be settled and under what sorts of laws or what regime. That is very common in commercial dealings.
    It is different in emerging countries, particularly in Asia. Our friends in South Korea talked about their development and about how their judicial system has a different path and less of a timeline. These countries should come to a slightly different agreement with respect to their dispute settlement.
    Pointing out differences just recognizes that there are different expectations among countries, but both parties agree, as in any agreement.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to stand in the House to speak on behalf of the official opposition New Democratic Party on Bill C-41, which is an act to implement the Canada-South Korea trade agreement. Once again, on behalf of the New Democrats, it is also a privilege to stand and support this agreement. There is no question that the overwhelming evidence is that this agreement is not just of net comprehensive benefit to Canada, but, in my opinion, it is of significant benefit to the Canadian economy, and that includes Canadian workers.
    The Canada-Korea trade agreement is also a critical opportunity for the Canadian economy, which we simply cannot afford to miss. As has been pointed out in the House before at second reading, we do not negotiate in a vacuum. The Canada-South Korea negotiations for a trade agreement took place in the context of other trade agreements being negotiated, notably the United States and the European Union, both of which concluded trade agreements with South Korea before Canada did, in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
    That means that businesses in the United States and the European Union both had access to reduced tariffs that Canadian businesses have not had. Since those agreements have been in place over the last two and three years respectively, Canadian businesses, sector after sector, have told our committee that they are losing market share in South Korea as a result.
    It is our opinion that even if we wanted to oppose the agreement, the context is such that we could not, because Canadian businesses simply cannot compete in a world where their competitors are getting tariff reductions that they are not. I might also point out that Australia, which is a very direct competitor to Canadian producers in a number of areas, has also just concluded an agreement with South Korea.
    I will be talking about this at the end, but I also want to point out that New Democrats have a coherent and well-thought-out lens through which we evaluate trade agreements. This is unlike the Conservative government, which seems to support trade agreements with anybody at any time, regardless of what is in them, or the Liberal Party, which opportunistically will support an agreement and then not talk about it.
    We asked ourselves a number of important questions. New Democrats asked first of all what characterizes our proposed trade partner: Who is our proposed trade partner? Can it be said that they are a modern democracy with respect to the rule of law, democracy, and human rights? Or, if there are challenges in that regard, can it be said that they are on a positive trajectory?
    Second, is the economy of strategic or significant value to Canada? The Conservative government has been a broken record in terms of bragging about the agreements it has signed over the last six years. However, most, if not all, of those agreements have been, with the greatest of respect, economies that have very little trade with Canada and do not have significant or strategic value to our economy. These are countries like Honduras, Panama, and Jordan. As important as these countries are, and as important as it is to have good relations with these countries, I do not think anyone is going to delude themselves into thinking that trade agreements with those countries are going to have a significant impact on the Canadian economy.
    South Korea is different in that regard. South Korea is a member of the G20. It is the fifteenth-largest economy in the G20. It is a multi-party democracy with robust rule of law. It has the highest post-secondary participation rate of any country in the OECD. Canada and South Korea are complementary economies. That is an important point. In most respects our sectors are not in direct competition with each other, and our economies are mutually beneficial.
    South Korea is also a world leader in green technology, in renewable energy and energy conservation.
     I will repeat what I asked in my question for the hon. parliamentary secretary. South Korea has dedicated 2% of its GDP per year to the green technology sector. South Korea is a trillion-dollar economy annually. That translates into $20 billion a year that South Korea is investing in what is clearly an economic direction for the future.
    One of the many reasons that New Democrats believe this agreement has the capacity to be very positive for our economy is because New Democrats believe that, wherever we can, the Canadian economy should be steered in a direction where we are replacing outmoded forms of energy, polluting forms of energy, with sustainable ones.

  (1555)  

    Canadians often see a lot of rancour, discussion, debate, and argument back and forth in this House. They often do not see when Parliament works in a positive way. This is one example where it has, with all parties on the trade committee participating in the deliberations of this important agreement.
    Canadians may know that after second reading in this House, and after a vote, then legislation goes to a committee. In this case, this agreement went to the international trade committee where we debated the legislation. We importantly called and heard from witnesses about their points of view on this legislation. We also had an opportunity to propose amendments.
    The New Democrats were the only party that proposed amendments at second reading. Neither the Liberals nor any other party proposed any amendments. I will be talking about that in a moment. I think those amendments would have strengthened this agreement.
    MPs heard testimony during the committee that was very favourable to the agreement. In fairness, we heard some testimony that was not favourable. We also heard testimony prescribing next steps for the Canadian government and exporters, as we seek to realize the full potential created by this deal both for Canadian enterprises and workers.
    On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I would like to thank the witnesses for their efforts in raising awareness about different components of the deal and its impact on their sectors. It added some very important information for us as parliamentarians, and I want to highlight some of that evidence.
    The testimony that we heard essentially amounted to a strong exhortation that the federal government have this agreement in place before January 1. As I stated, the context in which we evaluated this deal is one where we have competitive agreements and competitors around the world who are beating us to the market because of the tariff reductions they are enjoying and that Canadian producers are not. We also heard from sectors that believe this agreement may present challenges for them.
    In an effort to strengthen the deal for Canada, and consistent with some of those suggestions from witnesses, New Democrats moved a number of common sense amendments to address those concerns. We are somewhat disappointed that the Conservative government was unwilling to work with the opposition to strengthen the deal. They rejected all six of our amendments. Nevertheless, the NDP will continue to offer concrete proposals to ensure that the full potential of this deal is reached and that Canadian businesses and workers benefit.
    Committee members were privileged to hear the testimony of the chief negotiator for Canada in these talks, Mr. Ian Burney, who very clearly and succinctly unpacked the many components of the trade deal and articulated their significance for the Canadian economy. Here are some highlights of his testimony.
    The outcomes are particularly advantageous for Canada when you consider that Korean tariffs are on average three times higher than ours, 13.3% versus 4.3%. [...]

    For example, in the sensitive fish and seafood sector, where Korean tariffs run as high as nearly 50%, we've obtained faster tariff elimination.... In agriculture, Korea's most heavily protected sector, with tariffs approaching 900%, we've achieved better outcomes than our competitors.... There will also be major benefits across industrial and manufacturing sectors in Canada, including aerospace, rail, information technology goods, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals to name a few, where Korean tariffs can run up to 13%.
    Mr. Burney, primarily in answer to questions raised by the New Democrats, addressed concerns about the impact of the deal on Canada's auto sector. Here is some of his perspective on the matter. He pointed out the following:
...most Canadian production, in fact, almost 90% last year, is exported and so will be unaffected by the increased competition in the Canadian market. Moreover, Korean-branded cars sold in Canada are, as you know, increasingly coming in from plants in the U.S. duty-free under NAFTA. That volume is already close to 50%, so the protection afforded by the tariff is declining in any event.

  (1600)  

    I would point out that we also have information that Hyundai is opening two auto plants in Mexico in the next two years, an assembly plant and a parts plant, which would be capable of producing several hundred thousand units a year. Therefore, that 50% vehicle entry into Canada from Korean manufacturers is no doubt going to go up.
    Mr. Burney continued:
     With respect to the Korean market, [where] it remains challenging, there is no doubt it is opening up. Imported auto sales in Korea have been growing at about 30% annually over the last four years. The import penetration rate has increased from about 3% when our negotiations started to over 12% today, meaning that nowadays one in eight cars sold in Korea is an imported vehicle.
     New Democrats believe that trajectory has to be watched carefully so we can ensure that Canadian auto products do indeed have access to the Korean market, which up to now has been identified as one of the more closed markets in the world.
    The NDP is also proud to join the United Food and Commercial Workers, Canada's largest private sector union, in supporting the Korea trade agreement and its positive potential for tens of thousands of unionized workers in Canada.
    Here are some of the words of UFCW legislative director Bob Linton:
    UFCW Canada believes that the Canada-Korea free trade agreement overall will be a good deal for Canadian workers.... Korea is heavily dependent on food imports with a demand exceeding $28 billion annually. Korea is Canada's fifth largest agricultural food export market. It has a population of 50 million relatively high-income citizens....
    He continues:
    Furthermore, increasing trade with Korea and other similar countries is a crucial step [in] diversifying our export industries, reducing risks and dependence on the...U.S. economy.
    He also said:
    This agreement means that not only members at our locals in Quebec, such as Local 1991, and Ontario, Local 175, will benefit from this free trade agreement but locals in Alberta, such as Local 1118 and 401, and Saskatchewan, Local 1400, will also have the potential to benefit. This deal will not only help to protect the jobs of our members in these provinces but has the potential to increase employment with good union paying jobs that benefit the communities.
    Committee members also heard testimony from business and community leaders in Canada's vibrant Korean-Canadian community. Two witnesses I was privileged to put on the list were from British Columbia, Mr. Mike Suk and Mr. David Lee, who described to committee the potential benefits that this deal could bring to the Korean-Canadian community.
    Here is a highlight of the testimony by Mike Suk, president of the Korean Cultural Heritage Society:
    In less than 60 years South Korea has made its mark on the world stage. Cutting-edge industries have developed in Korea. Korea has also emerged as an influential tastemaker in Asia. I believe companies in Canada, through joint ventures with South Korea, [businesses] will gain favourable access to other high-growth emerging markets in Asia.
    I would point out that this is Canada's very first trade agreement with an Asian country. This is another salient factor that went into the New Democrats' decision to support the agreement. Not only does this represent the so-called Asian pivot, where it is important for Canada's economy to establish strong and deep and broad economic relations with Asian economies, but Korea also represents an important gateway opportunity. We will penetrate the Korean market that provides opportunities for us to access the broader Asian market as well.
    I want to talk very briefly about the amendments that the New Democrats proposed, which we felt would strengthen the agreement.
    Our first amendment would amend the bill to add a clear preservation of the right of Canadian governments to legislate and regulate in the public interest. By way of brief explanation, the New Democrats do not believe that investor state provisions ought to be put into free trade agreements.
    In this case, if an investor state agreement is put into an agreement, then we would like a crystal clear and explicit statement in that agreement that nothing in that trade agreement, but nothing, would trump the sovereignty of the states involved to legislate or regulate in the public interest. That is not clearly set out in the bill, and we thought it ought to be.
    The second amendment would amend the bill to explicitly prohibit the weakening of environmental standards in order to attract foreign investment.
     In fairness to the agreement, it does have a significant amount of language on the environment. However, in our view, when it comes to the environment, we cannot be clear enough. No trade should be facilitated, ever, by a diminution or reduction in environmental standards, and Canada should say so directly in each and every trade agreement that it signs.

  (1605)  

    The third amendment amends the bill to repeal the investor state dispute settlement chapter from the agreement. As my hon. colleague, the parliamentary secretary stated, Korea and Canada both have robust, mature judicial systems. There is absolutely no rational basis for including an investor state provision in an agreement when investors have full protection and recourse to the judiciaries of both countries to protect their investments and business interests.
    Our fourth amendment would amend the bill to require annual Canadian trade missions to Korea to monitor the elimination of discriminatory non-tariff barriers and the implementation of the agreement and report back to Parliament annually. Every single auto company has told us that South Korea has historically utilized a series of non-tariff measures. We could fail to experience any benefits of a trade agreement if a country does two things: if it implements non-tariff barriers and if it manipulates its currency. It could wipe out any potential benefits that a trade agreement would give us by tariff elimination.
    The New Democrats, quite thoughtfully and reasonably, suggested that we go every year, at least upon implementation of this agreement, perhaps the first five years, and take representatives of all industries and labour with us and monitor the non-tariff barriers of South Korea to ensure that companies in our country do get the benefit of this agreement. Unfortunately, the Conservatives chose to vote against that thoughtful amendment.
    Our fifth amendment would amend the bill to require the inclusion of a snap-back provision for Canadian auto and steel tariffs in the event of a surge in vehicle imports or steel imports from the Republic of Korea. We have heard different testimony on this. I remain of the opinion that we should get what the U.S. got in its agreement with South Korea, which was a snap-back provision. What that means is that if it was found over a period time South Korea market access was not being realized, or it was found there was a dumping of South Korean imports into, in that case, the United States, the tariffs would snap back to protect the domestic industry. We thought the Canadian steel and auto sector ought to have the same protection that their colleagues in the U.S. have.
    The sixth amendment is the one that is specifically on steel. Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted down each one of those amendments. I am disappointed that they did.
    At the same time, I want to mention that South Korea has been identified in the past as one of those jurisdictions that has been accused of intervening in its currency to artificially suppress its currency level as a means of boosting its exports. I make no such accusations in this regard, but that has been identified.
    New Democrats, before committee, announced to Canada that we would be proposing the following motion at committee to address this major trade barrier, which is currency manipulation. It reads:
    That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee undertake a study of the use of currency intervention by states throughout the world to create advantages in international trade, policy options available to address unfair currency interventions, and report its findings back to the House. The focus of this study should include:

a) Investigating the challenges and opportunities in using trade and investment agreements to address currency intervention;

b) examining the status of progress at multilateral bodies in developing fair international rules on currency intervention; and

c) balancing respect for sovereign nations in the management of their monetary policy with the development of fair international rules to level the playing field for exporters in all countries.
    People as diverse as the U.S. manufacturers association, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Ford Canada and any number of people involved in import and export understand the importance of currency in expanded trade opportunities. Regrettably, our motion will not be studied, at least now, before our committee. That is disappointing as well because we think that having a stable and fair currency trading system is key to establishing a smart trade policy for Canada.
    Canada is a trading nation. We have always been a trading nation. We continue to be a trading nation. New Democrats will continue to suggest intelligent, thoughtful and prudent measures that will not only boost exports for Canadian champions around the world but also make sure that we can create those value-added, good-paying jobs here at home that are the hallmark of every modern industrial economy.

  (1610)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, the trade critic for the official opposition. I am pleased to hear him say that he prefers not to see investor state agreements in trade agreements, but they are now becoming all too common.
    The ratification of the Canada-China investment treaty, which is certainly the most egregious of all of them, will lock Canada in for the next 31 years. In that instance, we have an investor state agreement where the entire process is secret. The first six months involve private diplomatic wrangling. It significantly undermines Canada's sovereignty to have an agreement like that ratified.
    We have had different gradations of investor state agreements ever since the first one with NAFTA and chapter 11. Therefore, how can the official opposition vote for this trade treaty even though it does ensnare us in yet another investor state agreement?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very thoughtful question that I think deserves a thoughtful answer.
    The New Democrats believe that each trade agreement has to be evaluated on its own merits. We have to identify the partner involved and we have to look at the agreement itself. There are some profound and significant differences between the investor state provision in the South Korea agreement and the one my hon. colleague talked about with respect to the Canada-China FIPA.
    For one thing, the Canada-China FIPA investor state provision would bind Canada for 31 years. The Korean agreement is six months.
    Second, the Canada-China FIPA permits either sued party, whether China or Canada, to have the tribunal hearings held in camera, in secret, thereby avoiding one of the hallmarks of the rule of law, which is open public court proceedings. The South Korean agreement explicitly requires that investor state proceedings are to be made in public, using the word “shall”.
    Finally, China is, of course, a very different country than South Korea. China is a command economy and a major capital exporter, whereas South Korea is an open market economy that has been on a trade liberalization regime for quite some time. The concerns about state enterprises or South Korea using the power of its state interests to further its interests in Canada's sensitive sectors are not quite the same.
    However, the member is quite right that a New Democratic government, and it is our party policy, would not negotiate agreements with investor state provisions. We do not think they are necessary. That is why the New Democrats believe that the South Korea agreement must be monitored very closely. If it turns out that the investor state provisions are being abused in the South Korea agreement, New Democrats would not hesitate to invoke the cancellation provisions of South Korea, which would end the agreement on six-months notice, and it would not have any further binding effect after that time.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to say how pleasant it is to be in the House and hear that the NDP are supporting a free trade agreement. It is very refreshing.
    My colleague spoke quite eloquently about some of the opportunities that he sees across Canada. He also spoke about some of the witnesses before committee. I was not there, so I have not had the benefit of their testimony. I wonder if the member could inform the House of the things that he sees as possibilities for job creation and opportunities for businesses in his own riding.

  (1615)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the kind words. As she said it was refreshing to see New Democrats vote for a trade agreement, I would like to see the government support a child care program. Perhaps we can mutually improve this country by working together on some important policy areas.
    I come from Vancouver and my riding is Vancouver Kingsway. Of course, British Columbia is Canada's Pacific province and we have a very strong orientation towards the Asia-Pacific. This is something that I think is sometimes not recognized quite as much as it ought to be in Ontario and Quebec, who tend to be South America, European or American focused. However, the opportunities for British Columbia, and Canada through British Columbia, to build strong economic relations as well as cultural, social and political bonds with South Korea and other important countries in the Asia-Pacific region are explosive.
    We know that China is posed to be the largest economy in the world in just a number of years. It is Canada's second-largest trading partner. Therefore, any opportunity we have to strengthen our economic relations with an important Asian economy such as South Korea will pay dividends for Canada down the road.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the hon. member from the official opposition that the Liberals support not only free trade but also child care, so we are with him there. I think that this is a week when it is terrific that we are talking about a bill that has almost all-party support.
    The hon. member from the official opposition has spoken very eloquently about the importance of this deal in terms of opening up Asia to Canada. I would like to hear his assessment of how the really big deal opening up Asia, the TPP, is going.
    Mr. Speaker, I would point out that while the New Democrats have announced a child care plan, it was based on the fact that the leader of the Liberal Party refused to commit to a Liberal government in 2015 bringing in a child care plan. The difference between the child care plans is that a New Democrat government will actually bring it in, whereas the Liberals will only talk about it.
    In terms of the TPP, which is a whole different issue, it raises a lot of profoundly important considerations, many of which do not really apply to the South Korea agreement. It is a very important thing. This summer Canada hosted TPP negotiations in Ottawa. The TPP negotiations have been conducted with a completely unacceptable and unnecessary amount of secrecy.
    Of course, the United States is the major anchor in the TPP negotiations, which is a regional pact with 12 different countries in it. There are many different concerns about that, including whether the United States will be pushing a very aggressive intellectual property regime that would damage Canadians' access to a free and open Internet. There are concerns about Australia and New Zealand and the United States wanting Canada to open up our supply-managed sectors, which the New Democrats are very strongly against. We believe that we should be keeping a strong supply-managed sector, as I believe the Conservatives agree with as well. For my hon. colleague from the Liberal Party, I am not quite sure what the Liberals feel about the supply-managed sector because some of their MPs and former MPs spend their time attacking the supply-managed sector. I am not quite clear on what their position is on that.
    However, the TPP is a very important set of negotiations that I would like to see opened up so that Canadians and parliamentarians can see what is being negotiated and we can keep close tabs on the progress of that important pact.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, since everyone has such refreshing ideas, I wonder whether my colleague thinks it would have been refreshing a year or so ago to have received a little more information about the agreement with Korea. We would have been able to support it much sooner if we had received the information we had been asking for for some time.
    We now find ourselves in an emergency situation that could end up costing our exporters millions of dollars. The reason we are in this position is that everything happened in secret and no information was available. Everything could have happened a lot faster.
    What is my colleague's opinion on that?

  (1620)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague, who does excellent work on the international trade committee and provides many thoughtful interventions there and in the House.
    These negotiations commenced in 2004, so it has taken about a decade to conclude this agreement. On the one hand, it is regrettable that Canada was unable to close a trade agreement quicker because, as we heard, Canadian businesses lost what those businesspeople told us is about 30% of their market share in South Korea because the Americans and the Europeans got first market access two or three years before we did. On the other hand, I am a big believer that Canada should be getting good agreements not quick agreements.
     I do believe that this agreement that has been placed before the House is a thoughtfully negotiated one. I believe overall it is quite strong and all parties are going to work together to ensure this agreement is in place to support Canadian businesses before the January 1 important deadline.
    Before we resume debate, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, Health; the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, Rail Transportation; and the hon. member for Québec, The Environment.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Toronto Centre.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by reiterating that the Liberal Party supports free trade, and we are pleased to support this deal.
    This is just the third day the House has been sitting since the terrible events of last Wednesday. It is very appropriate and fitting that on this day we are debating a measure that has the support of the three main parties in the House and that in the discussion we have heard about the tremendously powerful impact Canada's diverse population brings to the country.
    We have heard a lot of members speaking eloquently about Korean Canadians and how the connections they have with Korea have been so important in building this deal and in building connections with that country. This is a week when all members of the House should be talking in the most forceful possible terms about Canada's strength in our diversity and Canada's strength in our pluralism. I am pleased that this Korean free trade deal has given us an opportunity to do that.
    Coming to the deal itself, I am going to speak about our position on free trade and why we believe that free trade is so important, particularly for Canada. I am going to talk about why we support this specific deal with Korea. I am also going to talk about our concerns and about what we feel has gone wrong and could have been done better. Then I am going to speak about what our trade agenda going forward should be.
    I would like to start by talking about free trade and why it is so important for Canada and is such a centrepiece of the Liberal economic program.
    We are living in a time when the middle class is hollowed out, when the middle-class is getting hammered. That is something the Liberals have recognized and have been talking about. There is a lot of resonance among Canadians when we raise those issues. One of the ironies of an age like our own, when the middle class is suffering, is that national support for free trade can weaken and we can have the rise of protectionist sentiment. I am therefore absolutely delighted to represent a party that is strongly in favour of free trade.
     I am also really delighted to be standing in the House and talking about a free trade deal that has such cross-party support. To have national unity around free trade will be an essential strength of Canada going forward. If we can maintain that, it will provide a competitive advantage for the Canadian economy.
    Why is trade so important? Why is it central to Canada's economic success in the 21st century?
     Canada is geographically vast. It goes from coast to coast to coast. The reality is that by GDP, Canada has only the 11th largest economy in the world. We are just not big enough to exist, grow, and prosper without being maximally open to the world economy.
     Exports to date account for 30% of our GDP, and one in five jobs are linked to exports. The only way the Canadian middle class can grow is for the Canadian economy to become ever more global, for more Canadian businesses to be more competitive and doing more business in the world economy.
    That is particularly true when it comes to the emerging markets of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. These are places where the middle class is rising up out of poverty, where there is growing consumer demand, and where there are attractive demographics. As a country, Canada has to be poised to sell into those markets. If we fail to do that, our own middle class will be squeezed and will falter. For Canada, there can really be no economic policy more important than a strong, aggressive, forward-moving, forward-looking trade policy. I am sad to report that the reality is that when it comes to trade in the world economy, if we look past the government's rhetoric, Canada is falling behind.
    I would like to draw the House's attention to an important and thorough report produced this year by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, a business group to which we pay a lot of attention.

  (1625)  

    This is a group that has a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, and it represents 200,000 business of all sizes and sectors in the economy, in all regions of the country. These people are important. We need to listen to what they are saying about what is happening to the Canadian economy.
    I am afraid that when it comes to trade, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is very worried. The title of its report says it all. It is called “Turning it Around: How to Restore Canada's Trade Success”. Here is what the Chamber of Commerce has to say about how we are doing. It agrees with the Liberals. It says:
    International trade is one of the fastest and most effective ways for Canadian businesses to grow.... However, the increase in exports and outward investment has been slow in recent years, and diversification to emerging economies has been limited.
    As we have just been discussing, emerging economies are the essential places for us to be going.
    Looking deeper into the report, the chamber did a very important calculation in talking about what is actually happening to Canadian trade. I would like to quote it. It said:
    Despite more firms looking abroad, Canada is lagging its peers according to several measures.
    Yes. That is right. We are, as the report says, falling behind when it comes to our international trading position. The report goes on to say:
    Over the past decade, the value of exports has increased at only a modest pace.
    What is really interesting about this report is that the authors backed out increased commodity prices when they took a look at Canada's trading position. When we do that calculation, we see a picture of how we are doing on trade that is not at all pretty. Here is what the chamber said about backing out the price premiums we had been experiencing in energy, mineral, and agricultural commodities:
    If these price increases are excluded, the volume of merchandise exports shipped in 2012 was actually five per cent lower than in 2000 despite a 57 per cent increase in trade worldwide.
    What has actually been happening is that the world gets that trade is important. Globalization is not just a trendy word; it is the world's economic reality, and the reality is that Canada is falling behind. This trend is reflected in the trade numbers. In August, economists were predicting a $1.6-billion trade surplus. Instead, Canada recorded a $610-million trade deficit. These are worrying numbers, and there needs to be a lot more urgency on this file.
    I would also point to an issue we heard addressed in question period today, which is falling commodity prices. Warren Buffett, the renowned investor, likes to say that when the tide goes out, we see who is swimming without their trunks on. I am worried that high commodity prices for the Canadian economy have been like a high tide that has obscured a lot of problems, nowhere more so than in trade. As those commodity prices fall, we need to be really worried about what they are going to show is happening in trade.
    Turning now to Korea, we agree with our colleagues from the government and the official opposition that this is an important deal, and we share their urgency about getting this finalized by or before January 1. It is important to Canadian businesses, it is important to Canadian exporters, it is important to the people who work in those industries, and it is therefore very important to the Liberal Party.
    Korea is Canada's seventh-largest trade partner. In 2013, we did $10.8 billion of trade between us.
    Korea is an attractive partner to us, because it is a democracy. This is a country that is a real technology leader, including, as we have heard, in green energy. It is a country that is very culturally innovative. I think we can learn a lot of lessons from Korea about being a global cultural leader, even if we are not one of the big powers. It is an economy that is very attractive to Canada's agri-food industry, to our aerospace industry, and to our spirits industry, so we are very much in favour of this deal.
    Having said that, I would be remiss in my responsibilities if I did not point out some of the problems we have with it. The biggest concern we have with this Korea free trade deal is that it is late.

  (1630)  

    The United States economy, with which we are most closely connected, ratified its trade agreement with Korea in 2011, and the agreement went into effect in 2012. Korea's trade deal with the EU has been provisionally in force since July 2011.
    This delay is not just about some kind of theoretical competition over whose date is first. The delay in getting the Korea deal done has had direct and meaningful impacts on Canadian exporters. The global economy is extremely competitive. Businesses know it. Canadian businesses are suffering, and they have been let down, when it comes to Korea trade, by the government. We have lost 30% market share in Korea, more than $1 billion, because we have been slower to come to a deal.
    We heard the parliamentary secretary to the minister waxing lyrical about the Korean affection for Canadian lobster, and Koreans should indeed be enthusiastic about eating Canadian lobster. I know that everyone in the House is. However, the government should be apologizing to Canada's lobster industry for putting it at a disadvantage.
     I want to read a quote, from The Globe and Mail, from Stewart Lamont, managing director of Nova Scotia's Tangier Lobster Co. Ltd. He said, “The Americans are two and a half years ahead of us, but better late than never.”
    That is really the story of this agreement. We are supporting the deal. We are glad it is happening, but this is a story not of triumph but of better late than never.
     I would like to point out that our negotiations with Korea began in 2005. The Americans started talking to the Koreans in 2006 and to the EU in 2007. Despite starting negotiations sooner, we have concluded the deal later, and that is something that has had a measurable impact on the bottom line of Canadian exporters.
     We need to get this deal done by January 1, but everyone in the House should be aware that the slowness of getting a deal done means that Canadian companies have to run extra fast. They have to claw back that lost export position in the Korean market, and that is going to be very hard work for them.
    What we hear when it comes to the reasons for Canada falling behind and this deal having been done behind the U.S. and behind the EU, despite the fact that negotiations began sooner, is that it had a lot to do with the top-down, hyper-controlled approach to issues we see from the government when it comes to the domestic agenda. The Korean deal is more evidence that this approach, which is rejected by so many Canadians now at home, also slows down our relationship with our international partners.
    There is support from us. There is support from the official opposition for this deal. I am very pleased that there is that support. It is urgent that we lose no more time getting this deal finalized by or before January 1.
    We would be derelict in our duty if we were not aware that this deal has come late. It is better late than never, but it would have been much better had it not been late to begin with.
    This deal is particularly significant, because it is our first deal in Asia. It is really important, going forward, that we not allow the mistake of falling behind to happen in our future deals. I am going to talk in a moment about those other deals and the approach Canada needs to take.
     However, before doing that, I would like to also urge the government to release a study the department did on the economic impact of the Canada-Korea free trade deal. This study has been requested by many stakeholders, and their access to information requests for this study were very keen, particularly given the fact that the deal is due, we hope, to be finally confirmed by the end of the year.
    We call on the government to release this study of its economic impact. Now is the time for us to have that information and to talk about it. It should be made public. Given that the agreement is being supported by both the Liberals and the official opposition, I can really see no reason why the government is not coming out publicly with that more detailed information.

  (1635)  

    When it comes to the trade agenda going forward, the really big issue on the agenda and what we really need to focus on is TPP. This is an agreement which will touch on 40% of the world economy. In current economic conditions, when a lot of economists are concerned that we are suffering from secular stagnation, that the whole world economy has moved into a new low-growth paradigm, TPP could not be more essential. This could be one of the few levers that we have to get the global economy going. It is essential for Canada and it is essential for the world.
    These comprehensive TPP talks started in 2008. Canada, I am sad to say, did not join until 2012. I am afraid we see the pattern with Korea being repeated here. We are slow to come to the table. We really have to focus. We are seeing something wonderful, a tremendous competitive advantage in our country, which is real support across the political spectrum for the Korea deal, for trade with Asia, for trade with the world. It is absolutely incumbent on the government to use that strong political support for free trade, to be an active and energetic partner in the TPP talks to get them going.
    Negotiations actually are going on right now. They happened over the weekend in Australia on TPP. I urge the government to be a more active participant in those talks. I am sad to say that when we speak to our trading partners, our international partners, they say that something which we have seen in Canada's relationship in multilateral institutions around the world is, I am afraid, being repeated in TPP.
    Canada used to have a reputation as one of the world's most effective multilateralists, as a country that was good at working in a group, at working with others, at getting deals done, at leading deals. However, when it comes to TPP, I am afraid that the reports we are hearing is that Canada is missing in action, Canada is not playing a leadership role and in fact that Canada is frustrating our trading partners.
    That really cannot continue. This is an essential deal and we need Canada to be a leading voice. We cannot have a repeat of what we have seen with Korea, which is a policy that is widely supported across the House by so many people, yet actual delivery for the Canadian economy, for Canadian business has been delayed at a cost.
    Again, I want to return to this number because it is not just about rhetoric. It has been at a cost of more than $1 billion. Let us think of how valuable those billion dollars could be if they were in the Canadian economy right now.
    TPP is the big one. Even as we support the Korea deal and opening up of the Asian markets in this way, I want us to focus on that. I want us to be absolutely energetic, be leaders in those negotiations.
    More general, it is absolutely essential that Canada be energetic, that Canada be in the lead when it comes to opening up those emerging markets about which the chamber of commerce spoke. I would like to pay particular attention to Africa.
    Finally, yesterday was parliamentary elections in the Ukraine. The results look very promising for Ukrainian democracy and for Ukraine's move toward a pro-reform, pro-European attitude. We heard recently Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko address the House and call for a free trade deal. Let us not be behind on that. Europe has already opened up its markets to Ukrainian goods. Let us do that, too.

  (1640)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of questions that I think Canadians would want me to put to the hon. member.
    She is the international trade critic for the Liberal Party, but she does not sit on the international trade committee and does not attend international trade committee meetings. When this agreement was put before committee to be studied and we heard from witnesses, she was not present to listen to any of the testimony that was put before the committee. The Liberal Party advanced and proposed no amendments to this agreement.
    Could the member explain to Canadians why, as Liberal trade critic, she does not think it is important enough to come to the international trade committee and actually study the legislation, listen to the witnesses who come before our committee and give us the benefit of their perspective, and to help formulate policy in the House?
    Mr. Speaker, on a day when we should be supporting and cheering the cross-party support for this free trade agreement, that was the kind of rather mean-spirited question I would expect more to hear from the government side of the House.
    I will say what I would have said had the question been from the government side of the House, which is that it is neither the responsibility of the government nor of the official opposition to decide how the Liberal Party deploys the resources of its members. For now, we are a small party, but we will not be for long. There are a lot of duties for all of us to cover. It has been our collective decision to have one of my very talented colleagues serve on the committee. We work very closely together.
    If the hon. member from the official opposition would like to speak about positions that are difficult to understand, perhaps he would like to let this House know why the NDP, which has been so opposed to free trade deals historically, has decided to turn tail when it comes to Korea. That is the right decision, but I wish it had come sooner.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague for pointing out that this is so important for Canada's middle class, the opportunity, through this free trade agreement, to grow our exports, our businesses and even to create jobs. We in the Liberal Party have always supported that part of it. We are a pro free trade group.
    However, there is an interesting point here to look at. Unfortunately the member had to point out the fact that we started this nine years ago under a Liberal government, and that it actually took nine years, and hopefully we will pass it very soon, for this free trade agreement to occur, our first free trade agreement in Asia.
    When other countries like the United States and others start after us, why do they manage to come up with a free trade deal sooner than we do? What is it? Is it that they hustle more than we do? Is it that they want it more than we do? Why has it taken us nine years?
     I share the member's concern that when we negotiate for the trans-Pacific partnership, we will behind the eight ball again, unless we change the way we approach free trade deals.

  (1645)  

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague has indeed focused on what is our chief criticism of this deal, which is that it has come late at a great cost to Canadian businesses, Canadian exporters and Canadian jobs. As to what the reasons are, I can only speculate, but I would suggest two reasons.
     One is something that we see all too often with the government, which is a mismatch between rhetoric and action. There is a lot of rhetoric on trade, but we have not actually seen that when it comes to this Korean deal and we certainly are not seeing it when it comes to TPP.
    The second reason, which is something that we have been learning when we talk to stakeholders and particularly when we talk to our other partners in multilateral institutions, is that the top-down rigidly authoritarian approach to government, which we see first-hand domestically, carries through when it comes to how Canada behaves in its international dealings, and that slows things down.
    Mr. Speaker, talking about rhetoric, I find it so interesting and amusing to listen to the Liberal member talk about the Liberals' trade policies and their history on trade.
     In fact, I agree with my colleague from the NDP that we had a lot of witnesses who provided a lot of great information. When we talk about rhetoric, she could never really quote anyone individually because she was not there to listen to them.
    If we look at the Liberal trade policy and the trade deals, how many trade deals did the Liberal Party, when it was in government, actually sign? How many did the Liberals actually close and seal?
     The reality is that when we look back to the history of trade in Canada, it has been the Conservative Party that has done the majority of the deals and it is this Conservative Party that is getting the job done today.
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has been in the House longer than I, but I would like to point out to him that when it comes to parliamentary procedure, it is not our tradition to directly address other members.
    I have heard this before and was I expecting to hear it again from the government benches. For the record, I really want to protest strenuously. A majority government has a lot of prerogatives in a Westminster system like our own, but it cannot decide what members of the Liberal Party do and which committees they serve on. It is absolutely unfair and slanderous quite frankly for the government to have suggested, as it has, that somehow I am derelict in my duty by not serving on trade committee. I want to say that for the record.
    We are talking specifically about Korea. Canada is behind the U.S. and the EU, both of which began negotiating after we did, and this has cost Canadians more than $1 billion. We have lost 30% of our position. These facts speak for themselves.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to go on the record as saying that maybe we have not signed any free trade agreements and we are not for free trade, but we surely are in favour of fair trade. We have always believed in fair trade.
    When the government signs trade agreements, it needs to ensure that the working people of our country and the working people in the countries with which it signs trade agreements are protected. The government needs to ensure that the working people in those countries have the same advantages as the working people in our country. Neither the Liberal government nor the Conservative government have signed any agreements which protect the men and women who build these countries. That is one of the reasons why we do not support free trade.
    Do the Liberals still believe that the government should sign agreements without having an article in them which would protect the working people in those countries?

  (1650)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party strongly believes in protecting the working people of Canada. That is why we are such strong supporters of free trade. In the 21st century, Canada's economy is only the 11th in the world when it comes to GDP and cannot survive or grow without free trade.
    The hon. member's question gives me an opportunity to return to the non-partisan spirit with which I began my remarks and which is really important today. We have undergone a big trauma recently and it is a wonderful thing that we have cross-party support for free trade.
     I hope the hon. member will agree with me that while all of us advocate for different policies, I am sure everyone in the House supports the working people of Canada.
    As we have said regularly, our Conservative government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians. We understand that Canada's prosperity requires expansion beyond our borders into new markets for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's exports and investments. That is why we will continue to deliver pro-export leadership.
    Since coming to office in 2006, we have reached free trade agreements with 38 countries. These countries make up more than half of the global economy and represent nearly one-quarter of the world's countries. When they were in power, the Liberals took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of failing and 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.
    Before I continue any further, I will mention that I will be splitting my time with the member for Huron—Bruce.
    Our government cares deeply about trade and our country's economic growth. Last fall the Prime Minister announced a historic agreement in principle with the 28-nation European Union that will give Canadian businesses preferred access to half a billion affluent customers.
    I always go back to what my cattlemen said. They did not talk about the affluent customers but about the hungry customers, because they saw a tremendous opportunity for the cattle export business. Right in my own riding, people are seeing the enormous opportunities that this agreement would provide.
    Our Conservative government recognizes that protectionist restrictions stifle our exporters and undermine Canada's competitiveness, which in turn adversely impacts Canadian families. That brings me to the issue at hand today, which is the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.
    Implementing this free trade agreement is critical to maintaining Canada's competitive position in the global marketplace. It would restore a level playing field for Canadian companies in the South Korean market. Right now our competitors, including the U.S. and the EU, are already enjoying preferential access because of their respective FTAs with South Korea.
    For Canada, the Canada-Korea free trade deal is a landmark agreement. It represents our first bilateral trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region.
    I heard the critic for the NDP talk earlier in terms of central Canada and eastern Canada, which tend to look to South America and Europe, but to our western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, the whole Asian-Pacific gateway is incredibly important. It really is a key to increasing our global competitiveness.
    Of course, trade and investment represent the twin engines of growth for the global economy, and again I have to reflect on the anti-trade ideology of the NDP. Although the NDP may support the bill a little bit, it is a fact that it did try to sabotage this bill at the trade committee. Rather than thinking about what is best for all Canadians, the NDP tabled amendments to remove the investor protection provisions, cornerstones of a modern trade and investment agreement, in order to please a small group of its supporters and perhaps some supporters of the Green Party.
    On this side of the House, we know that there is no better job creator or economic growth generator than freer and more open trade. Canadians are proud of our long history as a trading nation, and for good reason: one out of every five Canadian jobs is dependent on exports. In fact, trade drives 64% of all of Canada's economic activity every year. That is why we have embarked on a very ambitious pro-trade plan. I believe it is the most ambitious in Canadian history.
    A diverse range of sectors would have increased trade opportunities because of this free trade agreement, including industrial goods, agri-food products, fish and seafood, and forestry products. Earlier I mentioned beef; another area that is relevant to my riding in British Columbia, Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo is forestry. It is incredibly important to open that up, as it has gone through a little bit of a difficult time with the economic recession. There are huge opportunities.

  (1655)  

    Canada's world-class service sectors would also benefit from improved market access, including professional services and research and development services.
     The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would create thousands of jobs for Canadians by increasing our exports to South Korea by 32% and boosting our economy by $1.7 billion. Over 88% of Canada's exports would be duty free upon entry into force, and over 99% would be once the deal was fully implemented. The huge amount of Canadian exports becoming duty free upon the coming into force of the agreement is important, given the urgency of restoring our competitive position in the South Korean market.
    It is important to note that when embarking on trade deals with other countries, we do so bearing our responsibilities in mind. I am happy to say that while we are working hard to advance our trade agenda, our government is also ensuring that labour rights and obligations are respected. That is why the free trade agreement with Korea has a labour chapter that includes robust labour provisions.
    Canada and Korea have committed to ensuring that their laws embody and provide protection for internationally recognized labour principles and rights, notably those included in the International Labour Organization's 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. For those who may not be aware, the declaration covers the right to the freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, and the elimination of discrimination in the workplace. Through these provisions, we demonstrate our shared commitment to improving labour standards and protecting the rights of workers.
    Both countries have also committed to ensuring acceptable protections concerning occupational health and safety, including compensation in cases of injuries or illness; employment standards, including minimum wage and overtime pay; and non-discrimination in respect of working conditions for migrant workers.
    The labour provisions in this agreement stand out from the pack. For the first time, all obligations are now subject to a dispute settlement mechanism, which may apply financial penalties in the case of non-compliance. The labour provisions are comprehensive and enforceable. That speaks to the level of commitment from both countries to maintain high labour standards in this trading relationship.
    Our relationship with South Korea is not new. Canada has long enjoyed positive relations with South Korea. In 2013, we marked our 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations. While the agreement would provide a modern and stable foundation to grow our bilateral relationship, it builds on a long history of political and economic co-operation. During the Korean War between 1950 and 1953, Canada contributed the third-largest contingent of troops to the United Nations Command. There were some 26,791 Canadian soldiers who served in Korea, of which 516 lost their lives. After the Korean War armistice, 7,000 Canadian soldiers served as peacekeepers between 1953 and 1957.
    Significant trade and investment ties have further solidified our relationship. South Korea represents an important market for Canadian commodities and has proven to be a valued source of investment. Without question, the agreement will level the playing field for Canadian companies and enhance their ability to tap into global value chains, boosting their global competitiveness, profitability, and long-term sustainability.
    The benefits of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement for our country are far too significant to overlook. Canadian stakeholders from across the country have repeatedly called for the agreement to enter into force immediately to secure Canada's competitive position in the South Korean market. Our government is equally keen to tap into the Asian market and create more jobs for hard-working Canadians. For these reasons, I call for the urgent passage of Bill C-41 and the rapid implementation of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.

  (1700)  

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned in her speech that we on this side tried to introduce some amendments at committee. I am not sure if I heard correctly, but I think she used the word “sabotage”, which did not quite make sense to me.
    One of the amendments we tried to introduce was to repeal the investor state dispute settlement from this agreement. I wonder if the member is aware that under NAFTA, there have been over 30 investor state claims against Canada at all levels of government, targeting public policy measures from bans on fracking to court rulings on drug patents, and that Canada has already paid out over $160 million to investors, either as a payout or for legal fees in trying to defend various legislation.
    I am wondering if she thinks it is right for our tax dollars to go toward paying corporations when they dispute various laws that are put into place for our benefit.
    Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, the investor state dispute settlement has been a core element of Canada's policy, and it has been so for more than a generation. This agreement, like all other major trade agreements since NAFTA, includes these protections.
     This is a two-way street. As a result of these provisions, Canadian businesses are provided with protection from arbitrary and discriminatory actions from the host government.
    As I said, this is a two-way street. The investor state dispute settlement has been there for a generation, and it is a critical element that we believe should absolutely be there.
    Mr. Speaker, one of the great things about our free trade agreements is that we have the opportunity to influence the way that people do things in other countries.
    In particular, we have agreements on labour issues. I have worked in this area with my husband, on issues related to occupational hazards and physical problems that people have from workplace injuries. Therefore, I know that we have the opportunity to have influence.
    I wonder if the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour could comment on some of the things we are discussing in these free trade agreements so that we can find some compatibility between our two countries and have influence on the way they do things.
    Mr. Speaker, again, this particular agreement stands out from the pack in that regard. I think everyone in this House is very concerned about occupational health and safety issues, which also includes compensation in the case of injuries and illness. We see the results in Canada when we have proper legislation and regulations in place, and we are having a significant impact. There is nothing more horrific than losing a husband, wife, son, or daughter to a workplace injury.
    Again, I am very pleased to see strong robust measures in this particular agreement and Canada's ability within free trade agreements to have those discussions.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, like my colleague, I am offended at the use of the word “sabotage”. As a party, we proposed amendments to a controversial provision and debated them in the Standing Committee on International Trade.
    One could say that this is a cornerstone of international trade, but that is not recognized internationally. If the member refuses to withdraw the word “sabotage”, I would like to know whether she considers the new president of the European Commission, not to mention Germany and Austria—which are trading partners and also question the validity and usefulness of the investor state dispute settlement programs—to be saboteurs for raising these questions with respect to the agreement with the European Union?

  (1705)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I know that the NDP struggles to support any free trade agreement, and I think that is the first thing that is important. However, we are talking about dispute resolutions for international arbitration, which does not restrict any level of government from legitimately legislating in the public interest.
    I think it is important to understand what these things do and do not do.
    Canadian and foreign investors alike are subject to all of Canada's laws and regulations pertaining to environment, labour, health care, and safety standards.
    The NDP knows very well that we have an agreement that has been agreed upon between two countries. However, to make such a massive change in an agreement would mean going back to the bargaining table and renegotiating, and, to me, that is sabotage.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. When I think what this free trade agreement would mean to our riding of Huron—Bruce, it is very significant. There is no doubt about it. In Huron and in Bruce counties, agriculture, light manufacturing and tourism are really the key pillars. Energy as well is another huge contributor to our local economy.
    When we think of agriculture, we produce everything that Korea wants and everything it needs. That is why it was so significant when the Prime Minister made his announcement in September that we were going to be able to move forward on the deal.
    The Korean economy is the 15th largest in the world. It is the fourth largest in Asia. It has 50 million people who know and understand the quality products that are made right here in our country. Agricultural exports, just in Ontario alone at this juncture, are $68 million. Definitely, in no time at all we would see that grow and grow and quite likely double, triple and quadruple.
    There are products grown right in the riding of Huron—Bruce that have tariffs on them today. Let us just pick off the easy ones. Pork and beef are pretty obvious ones. There are identity-preserved soybeans, white beans, adzuki beans, navy beans, kidney beans, and the list goes on and on. All together, the average tariff rate is 52.5%. Put in context in terms of what the Canadian dollar looked like two years ago, a year ago and what it is today, currency has very little impact. It does have some, but when we factor in some of the tariff rates on some of these products, it makes it terribly uncompetitive when dealing against the United States and the European Union. This is a great deal for producers from one coast to the other, but certainly in Huron—Bruce.
    The market for pork in Korea is $1.1 billion annually. The market for beef in Korea is $1.3 billion annually. In the last number of years our market share has continued to decrease. We have a very small share of the market relative to the U.S. and the European Union. By putting this deal together, ratifying it and getting it moving, we would have the ability to change the momentum and start growing into that market, taking away some of the market share from both the EU and the American deal.
    From 2010 to 2013, our pork market share went from 14% to a little under 9%, at 8.9%. That represented a $22 million decrease. In the same period of time, the U.S. and the EU market share increased 10% to over three-quarters of the market. The duties on pork, averaged out, on fresh, chilled and frozen, is 25%. Those would decrease over the next 13 years. As of January 1, that would allow our producers to trend with both the U.S. and EU. It is very important.
    In Huron—Bruce and in Perth county, which is right beside Huron and into Wellington, there are a huge number of pork producers. They have experienced many difficult times. They are starting to recover and this year will be one of the better years they have had in a decade. A deal such as this helps to increase that momentum and helps to allow the economy to grow and expand in a riding such as mine.
    Beef has seen the same trajectory as pork in the last number of years, going from $9.6 million to $6.7 million. Their duties are actually higher than pork. They are 40% to 72%. They would decrease over the next 15 years, which is important as well.

  (1710)  

    Beef producers in Huron, in Bruce, and in our neighbouring counties in both Wellington and Perth, have struggled, certainly with the price of land and other issues that contribute to the profitability of the beef market. They have had their struggles, but again, like pork, the last couple of years in the red meat sector they have had better years. The price of their fat cattle is if not at, then near all-time highs.
    Deals such as this allow the red meat sector to continue to grow. If we look at the hundreds and thousands of acres of corn grown in Huron, Bruce, Perth, Middlesex and Wellington counties, the corn input has certainly provided a huge input into the beef and pork. It is vitally important and helps the agriculture economy grow.
    Another one that people may not think about but where it certainly does have an impact is in the spirits industry. Spirits Canada President Jan Westcott has probably been quoted by many people in the House. There are smaller distilleries. There are certainly the large ones that Jan represents, but there are the smaller ones as well. Barry Stein and Barry Bernstein of Still Waters Distillery, one that I have toured in Concord, Ontario, have a 100% rye whiskey. The tariffs on that product are 20% if they want to sell it in the Korean market. That will be eliminated. The tariff will be at zero.
    The beautiful thing about that is that small distilleries such as theirs, or even the large ones, can continue to work with Canadian rye growers. Whether it is in Alberta or southwestern Ontario, companies such as Still Waters Distillery, when they have those tariffs eliminated, can become competitive in a market such as Korea.
    Since 2008, when the ratification of both the EU and the American deal came into place, the Canadian market share for spirits was cut in half. This is a chance for them to once again gain momentum. Like I said, when those distilleries can work with growers, it helps to diversify their economy. It helps to diversify their crop rotation. That is very exciting for farmers, as well.
    Especially in Huron County and now getting into Bruce County as well, the specialization around identity-preserved beans is really becoming a science. It is really becoming perfected. Companies like Thompsons, P and H, Huron Commodities, and Snobelen, out of Lucknow, have really worked with growers to perfect this identity-preserved bean.
    Koreans want this bean more than they want American beans. They know it is a higher quality. It is our climate and our soil. The premiums that farmers get, just the premium for growing it, forget the price, can be over $2 and in some cases as high as $3.50 a bushel. Some fields are 50 bushels to the acre, times 100 acres, that is a lot of premium. That is a lot of dollars in the pockets of farmers. That is a positive thing.
    The tariff on those IP beans is almost 500%. Let us think of the impact when that tariff is reduced to zero. It is going to allow companies such as Huron Commodities to compete and succeed in this market. These are big deals.
    Some of the beneficiaries of these deals are farmers, obviously. There will be higher prices for everything they grow and everything they sell. Farm machinery dealerships will benefit as farmers will have more dollars in their pockets to reinvest in their equipment and operations. Processors, such as Huron Commodities, will have a chance to grow, expand and develop, as well as all the companies that supply them.
    Farmers will also have the profits to reinvest in R and D. Just one example is GPS systems in the tractors that work with planters and combines. These are all things that five or six years ago growers in my area did not have the ability to use, the technology or the profit.

  (1715)  

    In addition to that, here is something that over the last five years I did not think we would see. Pork producers are actually starting to build new barns again. This is good for cement companies, people who own gravel pits, builders, steel and so on. They are starting to have a rebirth of building pork barns, so that is important. Nuhn Industries in Sebringville in the member for Perth—Wellington's riding has grown and doubled in size. Trucking companies, rail lines, ports and harbours will all benefit from this deal. It is very exciting.
     I would be happy to take any questions.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Huron—Bruce has been very active on this. It is something that definitely benefits his riding, much the way that these benefits will come to my riding of Leeds—Grenville, which has very large agricultural industries.
    The member said that he had more to talk about in terms of the benefits to his riding. I would like him to expand upon that.
    Mr. Speaker, I would also like to congratulate the member on his charity hockey game last week where he raised over $100,000 for charity. I would also like to point out that it is the first time in 25 years that I have scored two goals in a game, so that was certainly a milestone for me.
    The benefits to producers in Huron and Bruce counties are very significant. If we look at what it allows just with perfecting and growing those soybeans, they are able to produce over $3 a bushel for premiums. This is what allows farmers to fix or build new drying sheds. This allows them to buy a new tractor or at least have the confidence to buy one. It allows them to work with the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus and the seed companies to look at other generations, new iterations of the seed for higher yield and better protection against pests, to look at how they are able to dry and mature their crop. We had a partnership with Guelph Hensall co-op on a white bean project a number of years ago.
    These are the kinds of investments we see when there is profit in a market. Trade deals like this keep profit in the market.

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Huron—Bruce.
    Of course, this is a new agreement designed to foster good trade relations with South Korea.
    Given that this is very important and that there were some problems, particularly in terms of non-tariff barriers, would the member support a decision by the House or the Standing Committee on International Trade to create a regular mission to monitor progress on the implementation of the free trade agreement between Canada and South Korea to ensure that the implementation is proceeding properly?

  (1720)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we are talking about tariffs. I am glad the member brought this up. It does not deal directly with his question, but sanitary and phytosanitary measures are some of the impediments that have caused trade problems in the past, where we have had an agreement, yet the other country can use some sort of condition to either slow, stop or never allow. Pork International has done a great job. That is something we have set up to educate processors or consumers over there. We have veterinarians over in these countries that work with government officials so they better understand how if there is a problem in this country, we can contain it so it does not get to their country.
    Those phytosanitary measures are very important. I know the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has travelled around the world making sure that our departments are doing this so that officials around the world are educated and know that Canada has the absolute world-leading, world-class sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
    Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to go to the member's riding. It is a beautiful riding. In fact, I caught myself thinking would it not be nice if this might one day become a Liberal riding. I have to admit that went through my head.
    However, I want to commend him on his homework. This is a man who obviously has looked at how the agricultural economy of his riding will benefit from this. I congratulate him for being very much aware and he provided many examples of different products that stand a good chance of making it into South Korea, so that is a great thing. He is obviously doing his homework.
    Has he had a chance to look at the trans-Pacific partnership and does he see good opportunities coming forward with respect to that potential future trade agreement?
    Mr. Speaker, I have also been to his riding, and I can understand why he would be optimistic about the prospects in Huron—Bruce. Unfortunately, he may not know that they only got 9% on election day in 2011. They certainly have a lot of work to do there, but we never know what can happen.
    In any event, the important thing with the TPP is that we continue to negotiate. We are working on behalf of Canadians. We are working on behalf of Canadian industry to grow our markets without the barriers of tariffs. That is the most important thing.
    We have to be in negotiations with a big agreement like the TPP. I hope we continue to move forward. However, if we can do deals like the Canada-Korea agreement while we are working on the TPP, let us do it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-41, which will implement the free trade agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea. I am very pleased because, honestly, our position makes me smile and laugh. As deputy international trade critic, I am pleased to confirm what our senior international trade critic said, and that is that we are going to support this bill to implement the trade agreement at third reading.
    This makes me smile because, unlike what our opponents, the government members, like to say, we are not a party that is against international trade. We are not anti-trade, quite the contrary. If members want to ask me questions about that, they should also speak to the member with whom I have been communicating over the past two, three or four years on economic issues. They will see that as an economist, I am in favour of the principles of trade agreements and that the value of each trade agreement that we sign or negotiate must be assessed based on the content and details of that agreement.
    Furthermore, I think that we cannot repeat often enough the basis on which the NDP, the official opposition, assesses these trade agreements. We have three criteria. The first pertains to the notions of democracy, respect for human rights, and respect for environmental rights and working conditions. When we signed NAFTA, or even the initial agreement between Canada and the United States, there was an entire section regarding environmental issues and respecting environmental rights and working conditions. However, only side agreements were signed, and they were not as restrictive. We then saw that very few complaints were lodged about NAFTA. Complaints were made regarding working and environmental conditions, but they did not end in a court decision. The process clearly has no teeth.
    What we on this side of the House want is for the negotiation of trade agreements to be used as leverage with the country we are negotiating with in order to raise that country's environmental and democratic standards, as well as its standards related to human rights and working conditions.
    We think this first condition is essential, which is why we repeatedly said that we opposed the agreement with Honduras, because the agreement did nothing to raise these standards.
    The second condition is the economic and strategic value of the agreement in question. There is no denying that South Korea is a significant trade partner. South Korea is Canada's seventh-largest trade partner and its third-largest in Asia. The standard of living, or more specifically, the per capita income in Korea, if we evaluate it based on purchasing power, is about 75% of that of Canada, and that is rather significant. From a strategic standpoint, therefore, no one can deny the importance of South Korea.
    More specifically in terms of agri-food, and because the region I am honoured to represent relies on agri-food for 12% of its economy, it is important to point out that South Korea is our fifth-largest partner in this area. In terms of current global exports, South Korea is as important as Germany or France as a trading partner. Exports are currently worth over $3 billion.
    In fact, this brings several questions to mind. As I said at second reading, an internal memo from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade raised the problem that the government was squandering too many resources on issues that had less strategic value and that the resources were not available to negotiate and eventually conclude as agreement as important as the one with South Korea.
    I think the government needs to seriously address this issue at some point, because putting these resources into an agreement with Honduras when our trade with that country is worth a little over $40 million and neglecting the negotiations for an agreement with a trade partner worth over $3 billion in exports is highly problematic in terms of the government's ability to effectively negotiate trade agreements. Thus, there can be no question about the economic and strategic value of the agreement.

  (1725)  

    This brings us to the third criterion we used to analyze the agreement: the actual terms. Obviously, the Standing Committee on International Trade did its job. I know that a number of members of the House also assessed the consequences of the agreement for our ridings and the economies of our regions. As with any trade agreement, certain sectors will benefit in the short and medium terms, while others will face economic challenges once this agreement is implemented.
    I am going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages. As far as advantages are concerned, the beef industry will benefit rather quickly from the phasing out of the 40% tariffs imposed on that sector. Some members of the House have already mentioned that. The United States also opted to have this tariff phased out when it signed the agreement in 2012.
    Our share of the beef market in South Korea has decreased tremendously because of our diminished competitiveness compared to the United States. Tariffs on the U.S. are currently 32% and are decreasing by 2.7% a year, while tariffs on our products are 40%. This is a real red flag. These market shares we are losing for our beef sector have to be recovered quickly.
    In 2002, our beef exports to South Korea totalled $50 million. After the South Korean embargo was lifted in 2012 and the South Korean market was finally reopened, beef exports totalled $10 million. The following year, in 2013, these exports dropped to $7.5 million. The difference in tariffs has had a huge impact, and that is why we must use the agreement with South Korea to minimize and eventually compensate for and eliminate the competitive difference between Canadian and American exports.
    The European Union and the United States signed agreements with South Korea in 2012 while our own negotiations lagged, mainly for lack of resources. This resulted in a 70% drop in our share of the agri-food market. However, it is an important sector of our trade with South Korea. It was quite irresponsible not to put enough resources into concluding an agreement with South Korea more quickly. It took 10 years to negotiate.
    I was talking about the elimination of 40% tariffs on the beef industry. Tariffs of 18% on beef offal will eventually be eliminated. For pork, these tariffs can reach 25%, depending on the product. These tariffs will gradually decrease to allow our farmers to open up a market. This decrease will be welcomed in the pork industry in particular, since there is currently uncertainty in that sector as a result of our trade with Russia, which was a big consumer and importer of Canadian pork.
    A number of areas stand to win, as pointed out by most of the people who came to the Standing Committee on International Trade. The aerospace sector the forestry sector, which is an important industry to my region and riding, stand to gain a lot. Furthermore, tariffs for various forestry products, which vary from 8% to 13%, will eventually be eliminated. Tariffs for other sectors, such as mining, transportation, fish and seafood, which could go as high as 50%, will also gradually be eliminated. Some sectors stand to benefit a lot. Furthermore, nearly 87% of all the tariff lines that imposed tariffs on our exports to South Korea will eventually be eliminated.

  (1730)  

    One of the reasons why we are supporting this agreement is that it is 100% reciprocal. Once again—and earlier I heard a speech that mentioned this—we need to consider South Korea's tariffs on Canadian products. They were much higher than Canada's tariffs on South Korean products. This will give our exporters access to a market that did not use to be as open to Canadians as the Canadian market was to South Koreans.
    Obviously, if at some point we are unhappy with something in the agreement, if there are disputes about the effects of the agreement, there is always a way to renegotiate or revoke it. This, however, would take six months. Everything can be renegotiated.
    We also raised concerns about the investor state dispute settlement mechanism, and I will come back to that. It is very important to have that six-month time period. It cannot be so long that it ties the hands of future governments—that is a fundamental principle of democracy—as is the case, for example, with the Canada-China foreign investment protection agreement, which is binding for 31 years.
    In all of the trade agreements that we have signed in the past, that fundamental principle allowed us to renegotiate or open up the agreement to include or withdraw certain clauses, obviously with our partner's consent, over a six-month period or with six months' notice.
    This new investor state dispute settlement mechanism contains more progressive transparency measures than previous incarnations. These measures are welcome. When it comes to the lack of transparency in the process, this is one element that really worries those who want to ensure that the recourse measures to ensure compliance with trade agreements are democratic and open.
    The disadvantages have been talked about in committee and by the media. There are a number of risks related to the challenges facing the automobile and steel industries. A representative of Unifor, the main union representing auto workers, expressed his concerns about these agreements. This might come as a surprise, but the Canadian Council of Chief Executives had the same concerns. I should point out that we import around $3 billion worth of South Korean cars but export just $15 million worth of Canadian or Canadian-American cars.
    This is a major concern for the union and the automobile industry. We had a 6.1% tariff on South Korean cars, but there was an 8% tariff on cars we exported to South Korea. The tariff was higher. That is not the only reason for the big difference, and people have pointed that out, but we still have to pay close attention to the auto sector and the impact of this agreement on it. As I said, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives has recognized this particular challenge. In committee, it suggested that we should develop a special strategy for the auto sector vis-à-vis the Korean market for automakers. Here is what it said:
...that Canadian auto and auto parts manufacturers are positioned for success. Such a strategy could examine exports, two-way foreign direct investment, and non-tariff barriers as well as cooperation with other major auto and auto parts exporting nations that have free trade agreements with Korea, to ensure an open market for foreign products.
    This specific problem for the auto industry was raised by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, among others, and must be taken seriously. In fact, this was included in one of the amendments that we tried to propose. We proposed it at the Standing Committee on International Trade and it was rejected by the government members on the committee. We proposed five amendments and they were all rejected.
     There is a lot of talk about the investor state dispute settlement mechanism, but that is not the only thing we proposed. The government could have accepted entirely reasonable aspects, such as sending a Canadian mission to South Korea to oversee the implementation of the agreement and report on the progress of that implementation. In fact, I asked the member for Huron—Bruce about that. This mission should report regularly, every year, until it is no longer necessary to do so.

  (1735)  

    The government members rejected this idea. Again, to reassure those who might be concerned about this, we proposed an amendment whereby no environmental law could be repealed or amended in order to increase investment. These are laws for the common good. These are the environmental protections the public called for and we recommended, not to put up an obstruction or a non-tariff barrier, but truly for the common good. The government refused.
    The measures we proposed sought to respond to the concerns we on this side of the House are hearing. The last amendment we proposed responded precisely to the request by Unifor and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives; it was aimed at developing a strategy to help the auto industry and the steel industry meet the challenges that the implementation of this trade agreement will present.
    In closing, I would like to speak to this issue of the investor state dispute settlement mechanism. I heard the parliamentary secretary say that this was the cornerstone of every trade agreement that has been and will be negotiated by Canada.
    There is no international consensus. Many countries are asking questions about the validity, usefulness and relevance of this mechanism. The first time it was proposed in the context of trade negotiations was for NAFTA, in response to concerns that Canadian and American investors had regarding the strength and soundness of the Mexican legal system, in particular. That is where the idea of an external mechanism came from. No one said that this had to be done behind closed doors, but that is what happened. No one was supposed to say that the Canadian or American legal system had not been used. However, this agreement goes beyond Canadian and American legal powers. The fact remains that it was originally in response to the perceived lack of soundness of one of our trade partners, namely, Mexico in this case.
    This issue can also come up in the negotiation of trade agreements that we, as a party, if we formed the government, might negotiate less aggressively than this government is doing. I am thinking of countries like Honduras and Panama and other countries we do business with that not only have serious problems when it comes to human rights, environmental rights and working conditions, but also have legal systems of dubious soundness and impartiality.
    Is that the case with South Korea? I do not think so. Is that the case with the European Union? I do not think so. Should we automatically include an investor state dispute resolution mechanism in situations where our trading partners have respected, impartial systems that can serve as tribunals in the event of any investor complaints regarding what is perceived as an impediment to investments or profitability, which would ultimately be a non-tariff barrier?
    This mechanism remains controversial and will continue to be debated. I categorically reject the government's contention that this is the cornerstone of the agreement. On the contrary, in the months and years to come, we will see more and more countries raising concerns and asking questions about the relevance of automatically having such mechanisms in every agreement. As I mentioned, the new president of the European Commission and countries such as Austria and Germany are beginning to publicly air their concerns.
    Nevertheless, we support Bill C-41 at third reading stage. We support the principle of the agreement with South Korea, which may not be the agreement we would have negotiated but, for the time being, satisfies the three criteria we use to assess the relevance and desirability of a trade agreement. We will gladly vote for this bill.

  (1740)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech and for his work on this file.
    I had the opportunity to work with him on the Standing Committee on Finance. I know that his arguments and proposals are well thought out because of his training as an economist.
    In his speech, he talked about the criteria the NDP uses before taking a position on this kind of free trade agreement. Contrary to what the Conservatives and the Liberals like to say, we are not opposed to everything. We have a specific vision and we do not give our support lightly.
    Could my colleague talk about these criteria?
    Mr. Speaker, this relevant question cannot be repeated enough to counter the misinformation that many government members want to spread about us.
    The first criterion pertains to the level of democracy and respect for human rights, environmental rights and working conditions. These provisions are essential.
    I found it interesting that a parliamentary secretary indicated that this criterion was part of the free trade negotiations with South Korea. However, why was it not included in the negotiations with Honduras, where human rights are clearly not respected? The situation in that country is far more urgent than that in South Korea, which is an excellent global citizen.
    The first criterion should be essential when considering a free trade agreement, and it should even be a principle under which we include provisions that would allow the partner country to raise its standards in order to meet the conditions established by the future agreement. Right now, we are not using that tool even though we should be able to do so.
    As for the two other conditions, it goes without saying that we should prioritize negotiating an agreement if the country is a strategically and economically important partner to Canada. At the end of the day, if these first two criteria are met, we look at the effect the agreement will have on the Canadian economy. Then we can decide whether we support this trade agreement.

  (1745)  

    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his speech.
    He clearly pointed out in practical terms that New Democrats support Canada's trade development and prosperity. It goes without saying that it is crucial to diversify our economy with multiple players.
    That said, I would like to hear more from my colleague about the weakening of our environmental standards, which he talked about in his speech. We proposed an amendment that the government unfortunately rejected.
    What does he think that means?
    Mr. Speaker, these amendments would help reassure Canadians who are concerned about compliance with the investor state dispute settlement process.
     With respect to NAFTA, some American investors filed lawsuits against Canada as a result of environmental regulations or legislation. Canada lost some of the lawsuits, but more importantly, ended up withdrawing the regulations or legislation to avoid the whole process.
    As a result, the Canadian government and the provincial, territorial and municipal governments hesitate to enact legislation or make regulations for the common good, since they are afraid that they will be the target of a lawsuit because of the investor state dispute settlement process.
    One of the two proposed amendments to reassure the Canadian public had to do with environmental regulations or legislation, but the Conservative government is clearly not interested in trying to alleviate the public's legitimate and serious concerns.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my brilliant colleague for his speech.
    I would like to draw on his extensive knowledge and ask him if he could talk a bit about the threat that currency manipulation represents for exporters.
    Mr. Speaker, it is not only a threat to exporters. Currency manipulation can have a tremendous impact on the global economy. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there were large waves of currency market speculation, which seriously affected many economies, particularly in Southeast Asia. Those repercussions were also global.
    In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a massive devaluation of the Mexican peso, in part because of currency market manipulation. It had a serious impact on Mexico itself as well as the United States, which was Mexico's largest partner.
    We need to be very careful. Canada needs to be vigilant as a country but also as a partner with many other major economies. I am thinking about the G20. We need to try to minimize the impact that speculation could have on the currency market and prevent this type of economic upheaval, which greatly affects the general public, but only benefits the speculators, who generally do not have the same concerns as the general public.

  (1750)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to clarify something that bothers me a bit.
    We know that our neighbours, the United States, managed to get benefits and protections for their industries that we, in Canada and with our government, are not managing to get. I wonder why the United States is able to protect its industries, while here we either do not want or cannot do so. What is the reason?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. It goes to the heart of one of the concerns I raised in my speech, namely the minimal resources the government allocated to such an important agreement. It doled out all kinds of resources to negotiate strategic agreements that are much less crucial than this one. At the end of the day, since the government eventually had to act swiftly to conclude this agreement that the United States and the European Union had concluded two years earlier, the government probably had to make a few concessions to sign the agreement quickly.
    The question is important because it also allows me to respond to an argument I heard an hon. member and parliamentary secretary use, specifically that an investor state dispute settlement mechanism is the cornerstone of any trade agreement. Currently, the United States and the European Union are on the verge of entering into negotiations for which such a mechanism would not be included. We insist on having such an agreement, despite the fact that it could derail the trade agreement with the European Union. Germany and Austria do not support this agreement. The United States is entering into negotiations with this issue off the table and not negotiated.
    The government will eventually have to get serious and carefully reflect on the criteria and the approach currently being used for negotiating trade agreements.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I talk about the landmark Canada-South Korea free trade agreement.
    I will be sharing my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.
    The fact that even the NDP can see the benefits and support this deal is a testament to its importance to Canada and to my home province of British Columbia.
    I would also like to take a brief moment to recognize the great work of the member for Abbotsford, who is to be commended for his ongoing efforts in this important area.
    As a member of Parliament from British Columbia, I find the Canada-Korea free trade deal an easy one to support. That is because South Korea is an important market for British Columbia. In fact, 50% of all Canadian exports to South Korea are from British Columbia. South Korea is British Columbia's fourth-largest trading partner, with exports worth an annual average of $2.2 billion from 2011 to 2013.
    Today I would like to take a few moments to explain why this particular deal is good for my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla.
    One of the many things that I love about Okanagan—Coquihalla is the vast diversity of this beautiful part of British Columbia. We are well known as an incredible wine region and as a popular tourist destination, but we are also so much more. Mining, forestry, ranching, farming, manufacturing, IT and technology services, retail, education, and even retirement are all industries that support jobs in my region.
    I suspect it will not surprise any member of the House that many of these industries have customers that extend outside Canada. In fact, a growing number of these industries now have an increasing number of customers outside North America. That is very exciting. However, it is also a reality of today's global business environment.
    Let us not forget also that mining, forestry, farming, manufacturing, IT and technology, and many other industries are not unique just to Okanagan—Coquihalla; many members of this place will also be familiar with these activities in their own ridings.
    Let us also not forget that across the border is the United States. These activities not only exist there, but also compete against our Canadian interests. Let us not forget that the United States of America has enjoyed the opportunities of free trade access to the South Korean market since 2012. That provides a competitive edge for U.S. employers against whom our Canadian employers must then compete, because U.S. employers are not subject to the punitive tariffs and duties that increase the cost of Canadian-produced exports entering Korea.
    I would like to take a moment to provide some local examples of how this trade deal would affect Okanagan—Coquihalla. Farming, as an example, remains a vibrant and important activity in Okanagan—Coquihalla. In particular, soft fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, grapes, and apricots are all things for which our region is well renowned.
    One thing every farmer has in common is a tractor. In a discussion with one of our region's largest tractor dealers, it so happens that I discovered this dealer sells a tractor that is built in South Korea. As Canada has no free trade agreement with South Korea, that means two things for that dealer: he pays more to land a shipment of these tractors into Canada than do his competitors in the United States, and this in turn means that the farmers he sells to have to pay more for that very same tractor than their competitors do in Washington State. It also means that both are at a competitive disadvantage compared to the farmers just across the border in Washington State. This Canada-South Korea trade deal would help level the playing field to address that inequity.
    I should also point out the benefits to British Columbia in other sectors, such as forestry and value-added wood products. Some of those products hail from the riding of the member of Parliament for British Columbia Southern Interior.

  (1755)  

    Despite the pine beetle devastation of B.C. forests, our forest export lumber and value-added wood producers are still very important to our British Columbia economy. In 2012, this sector employed over 56,000 people. British Columbia exports of forestry and value-added wood products to South Korea averaged close to $330 million annually between 2011 and 2013. We can just imagine what will happen when 58% of tariffs on forestry and value-added wood products become duty free upon this agreement's implementation.
     I am particularly excited about this point, because in the community of Okanagan Falls is Structurlam Products, which produces an extremely innovative, environmentally value-added wood product that utilizes cross-laminate construction. This is an innovative and emerging value-added wood technology with an exciting future in Okanagan—Coquihalla.
    However, I would be remiss if I did not mention mining. In my region, we have mining in Logan Lake and Merritt. Princeton, in the riding of the member of Parliament for British Columbia Southern Interior, has a mine as well that is adding to the local economy and helping people put food on the table. We also have an extensive mine service industry and equipment services in communities like Penticton and Okanagan Falls. These employers, as part of the B.C. mining industry, collectively employ 33,000 British Columbians and pay some of the highest wages, and these go to our local economies.
     Let us not overlook the hard work of these 33,000 British Columbians in the mineral exploration and mining industry, which represents 5.8% of B.C.'s total gross domestic product. We can imagine what will happen when tariffs on 99% of the minerals Canada sells to South Korea are eliminated once this agreement comes into force.
    Let us also not forget that trade is a two-way street. The Canada–Korea free trade agreement's investment chapter also means that Canadian investors in the metal and mineral sector would have non-discriminatory access to the South Korea mining sector. That is, of course, why this agreement is strongly endorsed by the Mining Association of Canada.
    I, of course, have to mention another sector that would greatly benefit from a Canada–South Korea free trade deal, and that is Canada's outstanding wine production. This summer, during my listening tour, people at one winery mentioned that the domestic demand for icewine is on the decline. This deal would eliminate a 15% tariff on icewine in the large and lucrative market of South Korea, which would greatly benefit Okanagan icewine producers. People at another winery recently shared with me the outstanding success they had in achieving and signing a $1 million export deal. For a small family winery, these deals are huge. That is why opening more markets and eliminating trade barriers is critically important to them.
    I must take a moment here and again lament, for the wine producers in Quebec, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia, that it will soon be easier to sell wine directly to Korea than to Ontario. On that note, I want to thank the member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam for his work in promoting interprovincial trade.
     I did not mention that there are a number of tariffs that would help many industries in British Columbia: cherries, blueberries, and agri-foods. This agreement would help provide jobs. It would help provide markets that would help keep farmers farming, help keep people working, and help put food on the table. This agreement means that all British Columbian Canadians could finally compete on a level playing field with other countries that have implemented free trade agreements with South Korea, including our friends and competitors, the United States and the European Union.
    We have learned that when Canadians get out and compete internationally, we can succeed, because we have great products and we have great people. There is so much potential this country has. I am happy to support this bill moving forward. I would ask other members to consider supporting this and other vehicles as well.

  (1800)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned mining, and I would like to reiterate what he said. We have some real success stories in the area that we serve. Certainly the mine in Princeton, the copper mine, is a success story. I have had a chance to visit it. It is a good corporate citizen. It would benefit, as would others, from the agreement. There are obviously good things in this agreement, and we are supporting it.
    I still cannot fathom this whole investor state mechanism that we and I keep referring to because of things that have happened in the past or are happening now. I would like my colleague to give us his thoughts on the following. This is a quotation from the CCPA Monitor:
    Lone Pine Resources, a Canadian firm registered in Delaware, is suing Canada for $250 million under NAFTA because Quebec's fracking moratorium is apparently an illegal barrier to its investment opportunities. Again, the decision will be made by paid arbitrators, not the courts.
    This is the kind of model that will be part of this agreement.
    I have asked my constituents and others whether they think a company should be able to sue the federal government because a province or a municipality or the federal government wants to enact laws in the interest of its citizens. They said no, it does not make any sense.
    I would like to get my hon. colleague's comments on that aspect of this agreement.

  (1805)  

    Mr. Speaker, I always find it ironic when the NDP or, in this case, this particular member praises a local industry. Yes, absolutely, this copper mine has helped Princeton, and actually the whole Okanagan-Similkameen has seen economic activity. However, on the same aspect, the member has written in the Penticton Herald that free trade will destroy Canada.
    He cannot have both. He cannot say that this mine, with its products that go all across the world, is a good corporate citizen but then not support it in these kinds of things.
    As to the investor state provisions, there has to be a way to ensure that when Canadian companies are working abroad, or vice versa, the companies are not singled out and treated arbitrarily in an unfair way that would basically amount to expropriation without compensation.
    Every government has a right to regulate, and that would not change under this particular provision. What it would ensure is that our business investors would not be singled out and treated unfairly in Korea or in any other country where we have these agreements.
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite concluded his remarks by saying that he hopes we will be supporting the Korean free trade deal. As I hope he has heard from our previous remarks, we certainly will be. The Korean deal is important and I think is widely supported in this House, partly because it is an important opening for Canada into Asia.
    I would love to hear the member's view on the TPP talks, which are the very essential next step, and whether he has a view on when we might expect those talks to be concluded.
    Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the member reiterating her support, as well as the Liberal Party of Canada's support, for this important free trade agreement. I do think that when we have good deals and bring them here and debate them, we can also see some support for things. It makes sense, not just for my home province of British Columbia but for Canada.
    The trans-Pacific partnership is one of many deals that the government is working on. Obviously that is a wider effort because there are so many different countries involved. In fact, other countries are looking to perhaps join in. However, I would not want to give an impression other than to say that efforts are ongoing. I am concerned that we have seen slowdowns at the WTO, where there has not been agreement.
    In the lack of progress on these large regional or multilateral agreements, I do think that the government has taken a prudent approach, and we are able to open up significant markets such as Korea, which is a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region, as the member said. Those bilateral agreements are important, because Canadian businesses and farmers, as I said in my speech, are at a competitive disadvantage compared with others such as the European Union or the United States.
    Mr. Speaker, our government is focused on creating jobs and opportunities for hard-working Canadians in every corner of this country. That is why we have launched the most ambitious pro-trade plan in Canadian history. Canada's prosperity requires expansion beyond our borders into new markets for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's exports and investments.
    In our volatile global economy, one of the greatest opportunities for our country to expand trade and create prosperity is in the fast-growing markets of the Asia-Pacific. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is our first bilateral free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region. This landmark agreement would bring enormous benefits to both our countries. It would create thousands of good jobs for Canadians, boosting Canada's economy by an estimated $1.7 billion, and increasing Canadian exports to South Korea by an estimated 32%. It would lead to greater investment in both of our countries and would mean more choices and better prices for Canadian consumers.
    South Korea is already Canada's seventh-largest merchandise trading partner. The movement of goods between our countries was nearly $11 billion in 2013. That number would only grow with this new agreement.
    This agreement will cover all aspects of the Canada-South Korea trade relationship. It will eliminate many tariffs and other measures that hinder trade between our two countries, providing greater transparency and confidence for investors. Right now, some of the areas with the greatest potential for growth are Canada's minerals and metals, which includes oil and gas, forestry, and value-added wood product sectors.
    With the entry into force of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, the potential for even greater growth in trade of these commodities is huge. For example, South Korea imported an average of $2.8 billion of Canadian metal and mineral products per year between 2011 and 2013. South Korean tariffs on these goods can reach up to 8%. Once this agreement is in force, South Korea will immediately remove tariffs on iron, steel, nickel, and non-ferrous metals, and immediately eliminate tariffs on almost 100% of exports of aluminum, with all remaining duties eliminated within five years. South Korea will also immediately eliminate tariffs on nearly 100% of mineral product exports, again with all remaining tariffs being eliminated within five years.
    South Korea relies chiefly on imports to meet most of its energy needs. Over the next five years, South Korea's demands for energy are expected to rise dramatically due to its growing industrial sector. Canada is in a good position to help meet that growing demand. Canada is a global leader when it comes to energy. We are the sixth-largest producer of oil, with the world's third-largest proven oil reserves. We are the fifth-largest producer of natural gas, and the second-largest producer of uranium, which is a critical resource for South Korea, one of the world's top generators of nuclear energy. Once this agreement is in force, South Korea will immediately remove tariffs on more than 88% of Canadian exports of petroleum products. The tariffs on the remaining petroleum products will be phased out within five years. Import duties on petroleum coke will be immediately eliminated. With respect to natural gas, South Korea's current duty of 3% will be eliminated upon entry into force of the agreement.
    South Korean investors also have a keen interest in Canada's growing liquefied natural gas market and the potential for export of LNG. As you know, Canada has enormous natural gas reserves and the potential to become a major player in the global LNG market. The challenge has always been a lack of infrastructure in Canada to meet global demands. However, all of that is about to change. If the seven major LNG projects proposed for B.C. go ahead, they could generate more than $1 trillion in economic activity over the next 30 years. Over the next decade, hundreds of major resource projects, worth more than $675 billion, are planned or currently under way, so there is enormous economic potential. This agreement opens up the possibility for Canada to become the North American platform for LNG exports to Asia.

  (1810)  

    The Canada-Korea free trade agreement also builds on the positive relationship we have built with the Republic of Korea in the field of clean energy technology. Canada and South Korea have a long and fruitful research partnership in clean energy technology dating back decades. The South Korean market offers many opportunities for Canada in niche areas, such as smart grids, biomass energy and waste energy, all areas where Canada has strong expertise and proven technologies. We are working together with the goal of translating research into demonstration projects and commercial ventures in the field of renewable energy, including smart grids, and carbon capture and storage.
    Beyond energy, the trade agreement also opens the door to strengthening trade ties with South Korea when it comes to forestry. South Korea is currently the fourth largest market for Canadian forest products, with exports averaging more than $597 million per year between 2011 and 2013, of which an average of $92 million per year is subject to tariffs up to 10%. Within 5 to 10 years of implementation of this agreement, South Korea will eliminate all tariffs on Canadian forest products.
    Building on this agreement, the Prime Minister and President Park of the Republic of Korea recently witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding for co-operation in the field of forestry. It represents an important milestone for sustainable forest management in both our countries.
    We stand with Canadians incredibly disappointed that the NDP members tried to completely gut the bill at the trade committee, where they tabled amendments to remove the investor protection provisions, which are cornerstones of modern trade and investment agreements. This is just as harmful as the neglect of international trade under the Liberals who 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 less than seven years, our government has reached free trade agreements with 38 countries, bringing Canada's total to 43 agreements. Thanks to these actions, under our government's free trade leadership, Canadian workers, businesses and exporters now have preferred access and a real competitive edge in more markets around the world than at any other time in our history.
    In our global economy, free trade paves the way to prosperity. South Korea is not only a major economic player in its own right and a key market for Canada, it also serves as an important gateway for Canadian businesses to the dynamic Asia-Pacific market.
    With this ground-breaking agreement with South Korea and the trade agreement our country recently negotiated with the European Union, Canada has now concluded free trade agreements with nearly one-quarter of the countries in the world. It means that Canada will now enjoy access to more than half of the global economy.
    We know that as trade increases so does our nation's prosperity, which creates jobs and puts more money into the pockets of hard-working Canadians. By continuing to actively pursue broader market access and new investment opportunities, we are providing Canadian businesses and exporters with access on preferred terms to the largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing economies and regions around the world. To put it simply, this agreement is a game changer for our country.

  (1815)  

    Mr. Speaker, I always listen with great pride when I hear people talk about new markets, because I represent the riding of Newmarket—Aurora. I am always happy to hear about opportunities for people in my riding to find new places to sell the things they manufacture and to purchase new products.
    I know my colleague comes from a riding where there are natural resources, and they will be looking for new markets. Would she like to speak about some of those opportunities for her constituents?
    Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in the House last week, trade is very important to my home province of Saskatchewan. Not only are we resource rich with resources like potash, uranium, oil, coal and forest products, but Saskatchewan's agricultural exports to South Korea were worth an average of $149.5 million from 2010 to 2012. This was led by wheat, canola, oil, unroasted barley malt, animal feed, rye and pork.
    The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would eliminate tariffs on 86% of agricultural tariff lines and continue to open up new markets for Saskatchewan.

  (1820)  

    Mr. Speaker, I was not present in the House for the entirety of my hon. colleague's speech, but I was advised by some who were that she and some others on the Conservative side of the House were making some sort of accusation that somehow the NDP was holding up the bill in committee, or seeking to kill it entirely. That is 100% false.
    During the clause-by-clause study of the bill, the New Democrats did our job as opposition and of course studied the clauses. We proposed six amendments that were debated very briefly and voted down by the government. We actually passed the bill at committee after second reading in one meeting. That is because the New Democrats have, from the beginning, listened to the testimony of the business community that it would like to see this agreement in place by January 1, if at all possible. The official opposition has been co-operative in doing so.
     Would my hon. colleague correct any remarks she may have made that would erroneously suggest to Canadians that the New Democrats were somehow working to kill or slow down the bill?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that when it comes to free trade and free trade agreements, there is almost always very little support from the member and his party. We are very thankful to hear today that they will support the passing of this free trade agreement.
    The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is our first bilateral free trade agreement in the Asia Pacific region and represents one of the greatest opportunities for our country in the fast growing markets of the Asia Pacific. Our prosperity depends on our expansion into new markets for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's exports and investment.
    I am very grateful to hear that the NDP and the members of the committee will support the passage of the agreement.

[Translation]

    Resuming debate.
    I must inform the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles that she will only have about seven minutes before the debate ends.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-41.
    I would like to reiterate my support for this bill and for the Canada-South Korea free trade agreement. I had the pleasure of serving on the Standing Committee on International Trade with the NDP's international trade critic. He is always very diligent and thorough when it comes to international trade issues. It was also a pleasure to work with my other colleagues on this committee.
    When I sat on this committee, we also studied other bills such as the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement. Although I am proud to rise in the House today to support the free trade agreement with South Korea, I would also like to condemn the Conservative government's approach to free trade, an approach that is not critical of countries that do not respect democratic institutions. The government wants to negotiate free trade agreements with all countries, no matter how they govern their affairs, for example in terms of the environment or lack of respect for human rights.
    The NDP has a balanced approach. We believe that a free trade agreement with South Korea would benefit Canada, and in particular certain sectors, such as aerospace, which is very important for the Montreal area.
    The NDP also believes that we need to assess every free trade agreement on the basis of its merits. The free trade agreement must therefore benefit Canada and generate significant economic spinoffs for our economy and for Canadian industries. Free trade agreements must also be negotiated with countries that respect human rights, have fairly strict regulations regarding the environment and workers' rights, and have fairly high standards.
    That is not the case in Honduras. In that country, journalists continue to be murdered. In committee, witnesses such as Bertha Oliva, an advocate for human rights in Honduras, spoke about the human rights situation there. She campaigned for justice for missing and murdered persons in Honduras. We also heard from witnesses, such as PEN International, who spoke about human rights. All of these witnesses agreed that the free trade agreement with Honduras would not improve the human rights situation there. In fact, it could even make an already horrendous situation worse. Witnesses from PEN International spoke about journalists in particular. Journalists are often in danger because of their profession. Those who write or speak about free trade agreements or the economy are often in even greater jeopardy.
    These witnesses also said that the agreement would not benefit most Hondurans, a large percentage of whom live in poverty. Economists also told us that the Honduran economy was similar to that of the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Its economy is not huge. Few consumers will buy Canadian products because they simply do not have the means. These people live on very little money per month. This agreement will not have a huge benefit for Canadian industries.

  (1825)  

    I would also like to talk about the agreement with the European Union, which was also debated in the House. I will speak on behalf of the cheese producers in my riding and my region, since I have the pleasure and honour to represent a riding that is both urban and rural. Our community has a lot of farmers and cheese producers. They are wondering when they will hear from the Conservative government about the compensation they are supposed to receive as a result of the implementation of the free trade agreement with the European Union.
    The member for Berthier—Maskinongé moved a motion in the House that was debated and voted upon. Fortunately, the Conservatives voted in favour of this NDP motion to ensure that cheese producers will not be overly penalized by this free trade agreement with the European Union. The Conservative government just needs to put its words into action and give us some more specific information about how cheese producers will receive this compensation.
    I look forward to continuing my speech the next time I have the opportunity to do so in this House.

ADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS

[Adjournment Proceedings]
    A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

  (1830)  

[Translation]

Health  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to revisit a question I asked on September 26 regarding the underfunding of our health care system and the Conservatives' budget cuts. The people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles are very concerned about this.
    Whenever Canadians are asked about their universal health care system, they are always very proud. For over 10 years now, surveys have shown that health is a top priority for Canadians and that most people support the idea of a strong, public, universal medicare system. However, instead of recognizing the value of this system and working hard to preserve it, the Conservative government is destroying it.
    In 2011, the Conservatives unilaterally decided to slash $36 billion from the health care budgets the provinces had been expecting for the next 10 years. They changed the structure of the the Canada health transfer, which is no longer allocated based on needs. The Conservatives even axed the Health Council of Canada, the organization responsible for identifying improvements in the system and best practices across the country.
     My riding, Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, will certainly feel the effects of the Conservatives' ongoing attacks on our health care system. Studies show that the population of my riding is growing and aging faster than the provincial average. The population of the Lower Laurentian region will have grown an estimated 15% from 2006 to 2016, which is twice the growth rate in Quebec. During that same period, the number of residents 60 and over will have increased by 67%, which is also much higher than the Quebec average.
    The more the population grows and ages, the more it needs adequate, specific funding for health care to meet the residents' needs. There is already a funding problem in the Lower Laurentian region despite the population's great need, and 60% of services are received outside the region, often in Laval or Montreal. Every day, many residents of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles have to leave their region to get the care they need. People in my riding are actively campaigning to raise awareness of the lack of regional funding and the serious impact that has on health and well-being.
    These demographic changes will result in many services, such as home care, ambulatory geriatrics, mental health services, dialysis, oncology and nuclear medicine, becoming increasingly essential to residents.
    The NDP will work hard to ensure that our health system remains universal and public for the good of all Canadians. We believe that palliative and long-term care should be recognized as essential services, just like hospital treatments.
    I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport to explain to me why his government is determined to cut our health care system's budget and put Canadians' health at risk.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, first, let me correct the record that in fact there are no cuts, but only increases going forward to provincial health care budgets.
    Let me reiterate that through record transfer dollars and significant targeted investments, this government continues to work collaboratively with the provinces and territories to improve access to services where they are needed most.
    I noted as a result of this strong partnership, we have made significant gains in increasing the numbers of physicians, including family physicians practising in Canada. We also recognize that determining the right mix and distribution of health care providers is critically important in meeting the health care needs of Canadians. We will continue to work with the provinces and territories to optimize their health workforce so Canadians, including those living in rural and remote areas, can access the care they need.
    Our government is providing the highest recorded health transfer dollars in history to the provinces and territories. This record funding will reach $40 billion annually by the end of the decade, and it provides stability and predictability to the system. While primary provision and delivery of health care rests with the provinces and territories, including matters related to the training and hiring of the health workforce, our government is providing record supports.
    Between 2009 and 2013, the growth in the number of physicians was three times higher than population growth rates and was even higher in the rural communities.
    Medical school enrolments continue to be at an all-time high as do the number of graduates, including family physicians. According to the Canadian Institute of Health Information, last year Canada had the most physicians per capita in history, over 77,000. In addition to record levels of investment, our Conservative government supports targeted efforts to address challenges related to the health workforce.
    Internationally, educated health professionals, for example, play an important role in meeting health care needs of Canadians. More than one-quarter of physicians who entered the workforce in 2014 received their medical training outside of Canada. That is why this government is investing $18 million per year to support the integration of internationally educated health professionals so they may quickly become of Canada's highly qualified workforce.
    Additionally, the government is working with provincial and territorial governments to help integrate health professionals with overseas credentials through the pan-Canadian framework for the assessment and recognition of foreign qualifications.
    We know, however, that numbers alone are not enough to improve access to health care providers in areas where they are needed most. That is why our government, working in partnership with provinces and territories, has invested $39.5 million to train family medicine residents in rural and remote communities.
    In addition, we have launched the Canada student loan forgiveness program, providing up to $9 million in Canada student loan forgiveness to new family physicians and nurses who practise in rural and remote communities.
    We continue with research that is important as well. We are supporting innovation in health care to ensure our system is sustainable and meets the needs of Canadians now and into the future.

  (1835)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments.
    Despite the government's claims that no cuts are being made to health care budgets, the figures show the opposite.
    According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, federal health funding will reach a historic low under the Conservatives. With their irresponsible cuts, the share of Canada health transfers in provincial and territorial health spending will decrease substantially from 20.4% in 2010-11 to less than 12% over the next 25 years.
    The NDP and most Canadians want to protect our public health care system, and we are proud of the legacy of Tommy Douglas and previous NDP governments.
    I will ask again: will the Conservatives cancel their cuts and restore adequate funding for the health care system?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I know the New Democrats are not noted for their mathematics, but let us be clear. Under this government, we have delivered an increase in health care of 6% per year. We are reaching record transfer levels, notwithstanding the expiry of the health accord. Those increases will continue in absolute dollars every year.
    We have made some adjustment with respect to having it tied to economic growth, but in each and every year, even in years where the economy will not perform well, there will be increased funding.
    I encourage the member to embrace that and get on board with our historic increases for health care.

[Translation]

Rail Transportation  

    Mr. Speaker, during question period on October 3, I asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport about a statement by the president of Canadian Pacific concerning rail safety, particularly in relation to the Lac-Mégantic tragedy.
    We were outraged to hear the comments by  Hunter Harrison, the president and CEO of Canadian Pacific, who believes that regulatory agencies overreacted to the rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic. He said that the accident was the fault of one negligent person who did not apply the brakes properly and that regulations would not stop that type of behaviour.
    Many aspects of his comments are disturbing. First, we must not forget that 47 innocent people died in this rail disaster. Forty-seven people. In addition, six million litres of crude oil were spilled. The families of the victims, the people of Lac-Mégantic and all Canadians deserve to be safe when close to railways. It is not just necessary that we thoroughly examine rail safety regulations, it is crucial.
    Second, in its most recent report, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada highlighted the shared responsibility for this tragedy. The Conservative government did not do its job, namely, properly monitoring the offending companies, like MMA, on Canadian soil. It was also recognized that Transport Canada was not conducting audits of rail companies frequently enough or thoroughly enough.
    Wendy Tadros, the chair of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, stated:
    Accidents never come down to a single individual, a single action or a single factor. You have to look at the whole context. In our investigation, we found 18 factors played a role in this accident.
    Eighteen factors—not just one person, as the president of Canadian Pacific claimed.
    Meanwhile, the Minister of Transport stubbornly continues to place all the blame on MMA. It is not worthy of the Canadians who have mandated us to protect them through regulations and legislation. In this case, the coroner and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada came to the same conclusion: the government did not meet its obligation to protect the public.
    The role of the government is to ensure that companies follow the rules, that the rules are adequate and that there is comprehensive monitoring. If the Conservative government does not want to do that, then we will do it in 2015.
    We know that Lac-Mégantic is not the only municipality where a rail accident occurred. Right now, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada is conducting 18 investigations into derailments and collisions that occurred in 2013 and 2014 alone.
    Increasing amounts of crude oil are going to be moving across the country. Unlike what Mr. Harrison thinks, we need more regulations and we need to ensure that private companies comply with Canada's laws and regulations to improve safety regarding the transportation of hazardous materials.
    Is the Conservative government going to accept such statements from companies operating in Canada? Is the government going to strengthen regulations and monitoring in order to keep Canadian families who live near railway lines safe?

  (1840)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to the safety and security of Canadians and communities, and a safe, dependable, modern transportation system to support the continuing well-being and prosperity of this country.
    The Transportation Safety Board's August report for the Lac-Mégantic derailment did conclude that the rules were not followed, but it also highlighted areas where the Government of Canada could improve, a fact that the minister has said repeatedly in the House.
    This government takes all the Transportation Safety Board recommendations seriously. Transport Canada officials are currently thoroughly reviewing its latest recommendations to determine the appropriate course of action.
    In the past year, however, our government has taken decisive action to further strengthen Canada's regulation and oversight of rail safety and the transportation of dangerous goods specifically, such as removing the least crash-resistant DOT-111 tank cars, and requiring railway companies to share data about the dangerous goods they ship with officials in municipalities and with first responders. We will continue to work on more prescriptive rules for the securement of trains.
    This past July, officials from Transport Canada also prepublished new railway safety management system regulations in part 1 of the Canada Gazette. These proposed changes include new or updated processes to encourage employees to report contraventions of safety concerns to the railway company; to analyze data and trends to identify safety concerns; to manage organizational knowledge so that employees can perform their duties more safety; and to improve work scheduling to prevent employee fatigue.
    Let me assure the member that our government does not hesitate to take enforcement action to ensure rail safety. Transport Canada can proceed with a letter of concern, notice or notice and order, ministerial order, emergency directive, investigation and prosecution, or order of the court. For example, under the Railway Safety Act, Transport Canada may issue a ministerial order requiring a federal railway company to provide an action plan with corrective measures to address a deficiency that risks compromising the safety of the railway company's railway operations. Additionally, railway safety inspectors have the authority under the Railway Safety Act to require the production of documents to verify a company's compliance with applicable requirements.
    These actions also reflect our determination to honour our railway and dangerous goods safety commitment in last year's Speech from the Throne. Our government does not only intend to continue to improve rail safety. It has improved it over the past years and will continue to take action to improve it even further for the long term. We will continue to work with our municipalities, first responders, railways and shippers to explore and implement measures that will help inform communities and make our railways safer.
    Our government remains committed to the safety of all Canadians and concrete railway safety measures to date attest to this fact. We will continue these efforts going forward.