Mr. Speaker, seriously, it is almost embarrassing to have to follow my colleague from Huron—Bruce, who listed many athletes of Latin American heritage living in Canada and North America who have accomplished amazing things in baseball, football, hockey, and soccer. I loved his fantastic presentation and his fine speech.
As usual, I would like to begin by saying hello to all my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou, many of whom are listening this evening, I am sure.
I am very proud to participate in this debate on Bill S-218, which was introduced in the other place by our valiant and very honourable colleague, Senator Enverga, who sadly passed away over a year ago. God rest his soul. Our colleague from Thornhill is now sponsoring this bill in the House of Commons.
The Liberals are not participating in tonight's debate, which is unfortunate. As a number of my colleagues have pointed out this evening, there are more than half a million people of Hispanic American heritage living in Canada. They have an incredible history, and they play an extraordinary role in our society in many different ways. It is therefore important to talk about the cultural, political, and economic contributions they have made to our country.
I would like to point out that Quebec City is no exception in that regard. Quebec City is home to a large Colombian community, and every year, they host a wonderful fiesta in Beauport Bay, in my riding. I am sure it will be happening again this summer.
I would like to make a comparison and share it with all the members of the House this evening. I would actually like to talk about some of the similarities that unite North America and South America. There are historical, political, geopolitical, economic, sociological, and even anthropological similarities. It is, after all, the Americas. We share two continents and a very common history.
First of all, from an anthropological perspective, this is an important debate, and there are several theories. There is the Clovis First theory, which holds that nomadic peoples came from Asia via the Bering Strait about 10,000 years ago and populated all of America. As a result, the first settlers in North America or South America would have been descendants of those same nomadic peoples from Asia. There are also counter-theories that claim they arrived via the Pacific coast 30,000 years ago. Regardless, the two continents certainly share similarities, anthropologically speaking.
We also share similar histories. This is the New World. Christopher Columbus landed near Cuba, if I am not mistaken. At the time, he discovered the Americas on behalf of the Europeans. He discovered the New World. Jacques Cartier, Jean Cabot, and all those explorers revealed the existence of new, albeit already inhabited, lands to all of humanity, meaning Europeans, philosophers, writers, explorers, and monarchs. They discovered vast lands that were then colonized. We know the history. One very tangible historical legacy that both North America and South America share is colonialism. Conquistadors from South America conquered Central America and even parts of California and Florida, all the way to Tierra del Fuego in South America.
There were the colonialists in New France, which is where I am from, and in New England. Once again, we share similar histories and experiences with colonialism.
Another aspect of our shared history is the earliest form of modern capitalism: mercantilism. In this triangular trade, Europeans sailed to Africa to acquire slaves and brought resources back to England on the same ships. It was all deeply tragic, of course, but it is a historical fact. We must not fear history. Mercantilism is another thing we have in common with South America.
From a geopolitical perspective, it is interesting to note that, around the same time, in the 15th, 16th, or 17th century, South America was divided in two by the pope, though I do not remember which one. The pope divided South America into two vast geopolitical regions, one Portuguese and the other Spanish.
In North America, the treaty that ended the Seven Years' War divided the territory between the British and the French, so from a geopolitical perspective, we have that part of our history in common with South America.
From a political and sociological point of view, there are people's revolutions, such as the American Revolution of 1776. Canada never really had a revolution, but the Patriotes did kill people and spark revolutionary movements that led to ministerial responsibility in Canada. That was a kind of people's revolution.
In South America, Simón Bolívar strove to build a continent-wide federation called Gran Colombia. He even became a dictator. Some commentators portray him as a liberal who became a dictator. Anyway, there were people's revolutions in both North America and South America. That is something else we have in common with the people of Latin America.
Furthermore, economically speaking, we share a willingness with these people to trade between countries and reduce borders when it comes to tariffs and even the sharing of cultures and political systems. In North America, we have NAFTA, which was created in 1988 and ratified in 1992. South America has an equivalent, Mercosur, which was created in 1991 and ratified in 1995.
These two agreements share a similar economic annexation model, but the Latin American countries go a step further because they try to share best policy practices and standardize their social policies, which is no easy feat considering that some South American countries are not quite what we could call democratic.
I would also like to talk about Canada's relationship with South America. Canada was late in discovering South America for one very simple reason. In 1823, Republican American President Monroe implemented the Monroe doctrine, which was very important over the next two centuries. In one of the speeches he gave to Congress, President Monroe told Europeans that all of the Americas were under American imperial control. In other words, Mr. Monroe told the European powers that any European designs on the Americas would be regarded as nothing less than a hostile attack on the United States.
From that point on, the United States started treating South America like their back yard. We saw that in the way they behaved toward Chile, in the days of Pinochet, and in Honduras, when Mr. Reagan brought down that country's government. The Americans treated South America like their back yard.
Here, as great economic and political allies of the United States, we kept our distance from South America because the Americans would not have been happy to see Canada try to foster agreements or diplomatic relations with South American countries since that was their back yard.
All that changed in 1984 with the creation of the Organization of American States, which Canada did not join until 1990. It took all that time for Canada to open up to South American countries because of the Monroe doctrine. It was only in 1990 that Canada, after 30 years of observer status, became a full fledged member state.
Today, after more than 28 years as a member of the OAS, Canada does interesting work exporting its democratic values to South American countries and creating bilateral free trade agreements, including with Peru. That was one of Mr. Harper's many fine accomplishments. There are also the summits of the Americas, including the one that was held in Quebec City in 2001.
That is what I wanted to present this evening. In North America and in South America, we have our particularities and we share some very real similarities on economic, geopolitical, sociological, anthropological and historical levels. In Canada, we are pleased that a growing number of Hispanics are heading to our border to immigrate to our country in order to participate in our beautiful cultural, political, and economic life.
Canada was closed to South America for a very long time because of the Monroe doctrine and U.S. policy, which jealously treated South America as its backyard.
Hurray for Senator Enverga's initiative. Hurray for the initiative of my colleague from Thornhill, who sponsored the bill. Hurray for the Columbian community in Quebec City, which is going to party this summer in Baie de Beauport in my riding.