Table of Contents Previous Section Next Section
6092

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[English]

CANADA-ISRAEL FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-61, an act to implement the Canada-Israel free trade agreement, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to debate Bill C-61, which is in keeping with our government's commitment to work with Canadian industry to ensure that we work on behalf of Canadian industry in removing tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in markets that are of concern to Canada. Quite clearly this free trade deal with Israel is an area that Canada has worked on over the last number of years. It was with great anticipation in some industry sectors that Canada actually started the negotiations to remove the tariff barriers to trade. The Prime Minister initiated these discussions with the former prime minister of Israel in 1994. Some people have asked why Canada would want to conclude a free trade deal with Israel. Why is Israel an important state? At committee we were told that the trade figures are not so high as to make this an obvious priority.

(1015)

The Canadian government proceeded in 1994 with the initial discussions with the Israeli government. A number of Canadian companies, many resident in the province of Quebec, were having great difficulty competing in the Israeli market. This was happening because the United States and the European Union had entered into free trade arrangements with the state of Israel.

In many cases Canadian businesses found their products were in a less competitive position than they would have been. They were not getting the preferential tariff treatment that goods provided from the United States and the European Union were getting because of the free trade deals that had been negotiated between those partners.

The Canadian government felt that this market, although small, was where Canadian companies could grow. It was a market in the Middle East where we are extremely interested in expanding trading and investment activity.

The House knows the importance of trade to Canada. Anyone who has been here or has worked in industry recognizes that the health of the Canadian economy, the jobs that must grow in this economy, are going to come by encouraging our incredibly competitive companies in the sectors in which they operate to look abroad for new markets. As most people in this House know, maybe some outside do not know, Canada is the leader in the G-7 countries with respect to our percentage of GDP that comes from trade.

The job creation record of this government since it came into power a few years ago shows that over 600,000 jobs have been created in the economy. Most jobs are related to trading activities, not just with the United States and Mexico but abroad. It is the fundamental belief of the government that if we want to see the economy grow, want to create jobs for Canadians from coast to coast to coast, then we must be outward looking, we must work with companies and other governments to ensure that those companies have an even footing when it comes to competing in foreign markets.

This was clearly the case with Israel. The agreement was signed in July 1996 after an almost unprecedented level of consultation with Canadian industry. I will refer to that very briefly.

We have in Canada what are called sectoral advisory groups and international trade. We also have groups with the provinces. Starting November 23, 1994 when the news release first came out literally dozens of meetings-I have pages of meetings-that took place with various sectoral advisory groups leading up to July 31, 1996 when it was announced that Canada and Israel had signed the free trade agreement.

Quite clearly this was not done on the back of a matchbook. It was a very complex set of negotiations. There were some areas which the Israeli government was very slow to move on but our negotiators were firm in their resolve. We were flexible in our approach but at the end of the day we knew that in order for Canadian companies to be competitive in the Israeli market Canadian companies had to be dealing on a level playing field.

With the special treatment afforded the United States and the European Union it meant that Canadian companies could not be as competitive as they had to be in order to get those contracts, service that market and create jobs in Canada.

I remember hearing a member from Quebec tell us a real story. A lot of times the bureaucrats will tell us that this has to be done for this or that reason but this was a real story. It was about a company in Montreal that was exporting into the Israeli market. Its problem was that it could not compete with American produced goods because of the preferential tariff afforded under the U.S.-Israel free trade agreement. The company did as much processing of the product in Canada as it could and then shipped a semi-finished


6093

product to the United States. In that way the value add could be done in the United States and those goods would then qualify under the rules of origin in the U.S.-Israel free trade deal. Those goods then could be shipped into the Israeli market as U.S. goods. That meant real jobs for Canadians.

(1020)

We understand on our side of the House that the Montreal economy for a whole variety of reasons is not performing at the level at which we would like. However, for that one company and dozens of others which employ Canadians who live in and around the great city of Montreal, this bill gives them a level playing field. It means that they do not have to semi-finish their product and ship it to the United States where citizens of the United States gain the economic benefit and employment and the U.S. municipalities, states and federal government get the taxes that go with that type of economic activity. Under this deal that particular company and dozens of others like it can make sure that all of the product and all of the value add is done in Canada and that Canadians get 100 per cent of the net economic benefit for the competitiveness of the product and the entrepreneurship of the owners of those companies.

We went ahead and did that. In the free trade deal with Israel we made sure that it also applies to the Palestinian territories. This has been a concern of the Canadian government, of most members of the House and of most people who are observers of what is going on in the Middle East.

When these negotiations began we had great hopes that the peace process, which was going on in fits and starts, would gain some steam. Indeed, Canadians and most people around the world were very happy with what had happened as the peace process gained some steam and that the former administration in Israel had started to make some real progress toward eliminating some of the outstanding issues and solving some of the problems so that at long last the world there would be peace in the Middle East.

One of the things Canada said from the very beginning was that if a free trade deal was negotiated with Israel, it was absolutely fundamental that goods that were produced in the occupied territories should also benefit from the preferential tariff that free trade would bring. Indeed, it has been the government's intention from the first meetings that took place with the Israelis that the Palestinian authorities would also be consulted to ensure that any benefit that accrued to Israel would also accrue to goods produced in the Palestinian territories.

All through that peace, and most particularly starting on January 12, 1995, Canada's chief negotiator was speaking with senior Palestinian officials to ensure that they understood that we had negotiated the CITA, the Canada-Israeli trade agreement, in principle and that the benefits would be extended to goods produced in the West Bank and Gaza as was agreed to in the earlier meetings and teleconferences that senior overseas officials had with the Palestinian authorities.

Again, in July and August the head of the mission in Israel had met with senior ministers in the Palestinian authority to ensure that they knew full well the terms and conditions of the Canada-Israel free trade deal and reaffirmed Canada's commitment to enact the necessary regulations after this legislation was ratified through the House and Senate of Canada so that the Palestinian territory would be included in any benefit that was given.

Again in September a commercial counsellor from our embassy and our second secretariat met with senior Palestinian ministers of the economy and trade and deputy ministers to provide a hard copy of the Canada-Israel free trade agreement.

On October 20 Ambassador Berger, a former member of this place, made sure that if the Palestinian officials had any questions that the questions were properly couched so our officials could respond appropriately to any concerns that they had.

On October 27 meetings took place because the Canadian government was very concerned about some comments that had been made during the legislative process that somehow the Palestinians were excluded from the benefits of this deal.

(1025 )

Nothing could be further from the truth. As we speak meetings are going on in the occupied territories, in Palestine, which have been co-sponsored by the Palestinian ministry of trade and industry and the Canadian government via the Canadian embassy in Israel. The object of the meetings is to try to disseminate information to Palestinian businesses about the benefits of this free trade deal for goods that are produced in the occupied territories by Palestinian entrepreneurs.

All through this peace process the Canadian government has been extremely clear that it has always been its intention that any economic benefit that accrues to goods produced by entrepreneurs operating out of Israel proper would also be extended to entrepreneurs for goods produced in the occupied territories.

To ensure transparency I should tell the House about another thing we have done. At committee the other day, on behalf of the government, I gave the committee a number of undertakings with the assumption that the House passes this legislation, the Senate deals with it in an appropriately hasty fashion, it is proclaimed in law by the end of the year so we can live up to the timetable of the agreement and have it enacted on January 1, 1997.

In order to provide members of the standing committee with the assurance they needed that this deal will apply to the occupied


6094

Palestinian territories, I have agreed on behalf of the government to do three things. First, I have agreed to put the draft regulations to the House committee, which is unusual because the regulations would normally be gazetted after the bill was passed at the end of December.

The committee has deliberated and added to our understanding and discussion of not only the economic circumstances surrounding this deal but also of the larger geopolitical circumstances within which this deal has been constructed. I would hope that by next week the members of the standing committee on foreign affairs would have at their disposal the draft regulations so they can satisfy themselves that after this bill is passed into law, the regulations will do what the officials said they would do, which is de facto extend the benefits of the Canada-Israeli free trade deal to the Palestinian territories.

Second, on behalf of the government I have undertaken to file the letters we have received to date from the Israeli authorities with the clerk of the committee thus making them public documents. These letters indicate that the Israelis understand and agree that this deal applies to the Palestinian territories and for the purposes of this deal they will treat any goods produced in the occupied territories the same and give them the same passage as if they were produced within the sovereign state of Israel.

We have a letter from the Israelis on file, which we will reconfirm. It indicates quite clearly that they will do what they have to do with respect to rules of origin but they will do what they have to do under this deal to ensure the goods produced in the Palestinian territories flow seamlessly through Israel and into the Canadian market, and vice versa that goods which are covered under this deal from the Canadian market will flow seamlessly through Israel and into the occupied territories.

That is a very strong document which has legal force. It is an undertaking from one government to the other to not impede the goods that are produced in the occupied territories or that are produced in Canada and destined for the occupied territories.

It is also our hope that by that time we will have a letter back from the Palestinian authority with whom we are in almost daily contact. We hope the letter expresses agreement that the benefits and terms of the Canada-Israeli deal do indeed flow into the occupied territories.

All of those letters will be made public when they are deposited with the clerk of the committee. Then the members of the foreign affairs committee who have raised some very good suggestions and legitimate concerns will be able to examine in the light of day how everything we said would be done to extend this deal to the territories indeed will have been done.

(1030 )

We must not lose sight of the fact that this deal first and foremost has been done not to benefit the Israelis, not to benefit the Palestinians, but to benefit Canadian companies that are active in that region.

We must recognize that there are very major and disturbing issues which are yet to be settled in the Middle East with respect to the peace process in Israel, the status of the West Bank and Gaza. However, to date nobody on the Palestinian side has told us this is not a good deal, that it should not go forward and that they do not want the benefits of the Canada-Israel free trade deal to be equally applied to goods produced in the Palestinian territories.

We on the government side continue at the diplomatic level and government to government to encourage the Israeli government to put the peace process back on track. To date we have done everything we can in meetings and discussions between our foreign affairs minister and heads of state to indicate quite clearly it is Canada's desire that the peace process which was started and seems to have faltered of late be put back on track. It is the logic of the Canadian government that it is only through peace in the Middle East, no matter if they are Palestinians or Israelis, no matter who they are, that they will be able to live to their full potential. The region will be able to grow and stability will be long lasting when the outstanding issues with respect to the peace process are determined.

Canada continues to support a very strong effort by the international community. We are part of that community. We are part of the effort to see the peace process concluded properly.

At the same time we know that for the Palestinians, those individuals who seek to have their political situation defined properly in the international context, who seek peace and for the Israelis who seek peace and security, that once this is all done, peace and security will only be long lasting if the economic potential of the region is realized. Then the individuals, Palestinians, Israelis, or whoever they are will be able to live and to prosper in the region with the type of jobs and wealth that are required for internal and external stability.

This free trade deal is timely. We believe in spite of the fact that the peace process appears to have slowed, that the benefits which are in this deal are not one sided. The benefits, because they will apply equally to the goods produced in the occupied territories and Israeli goods, will be working on a parallel track to the peace process. As peace comes to the Middle East we will have a greater economic input in building the required economic stability for all the states concerned.

Those who have been critical have said that the timing is bad. The timing may not be the way we wanted it but it still is timely. For those individuals who are living in the occupied territories and find themselves cut off from international trade, even though we do


6095

not do a great deal of trade, this is an opportunity for them to find new markets in Canada. For Canadian companies that are working in the Middle East, this gives them equal access. It gives them a level playing field so that their goods can compete on an equal footing with European goods and with goods from the United States in the Israeli market.

Further, as this free trade deal gets implemented, more and more Canadian companies will become involved in that market. It will open a window of opportunity for further trade in all of the European countries and further investment by Canadian companies in industries in Israel, in the occupied territories, in Egypt, in Jordan, in all the states in the Middle East.

In conclusion, it is my hope that the consensus we seemed to have in this House at second reading will continue at report stage and third reading of this bill. I hope we will be able to dispatch this bill to the other place. I hope when it does get to the other place that they recognize that this bill has been carefully crafted. It has taken over two years of negotiation. It is supported by over 20 different sectoral advisor groups on international trade which the government has put up.

(1035)

First and foremost, the agreement will give Canadian companies operating in the region a level playing field. It will give them equal access to those markets with their American and European counterparts. In the long term it will assist in some small way in ensuring that once the peace process is concluded, that Canadian companies and Canadian investment will add to the stability of the Middle East.

[Translation]

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Terrebonne, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his speech. You will, however, see in the next few minutes that the government has not earned an honourable mention for today's speech.

First of all, I must point out that the government added the bill to the order paper at the last minute yesterday evening, very likely on the assumption that, since all of the members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade were out of the country on committee business, discussion of the bill this morning would not pose too much of a problem.

I would point out to them, however, that we are here and are well informed on the issue, so we too will be able to contest the stuff and nonsense we have just been treated to.

Let me begin by stating that we are totally in agreement with the Canada-Israel free trade agreement. We in Quebec are part of a free trade Canada. We will not oppose the principle of a free trade agreement between Canada and Israel. However, contrary to what the parliamentary secretary has just admitted, we are in a position to ask some questions about its timing. He says this is the right time. We, on the other hand, believe that it could not be a worse time for the ratification or implementation of such an agreement.

On October 9, I rose in this House in support of Bill C-61, the purpose of which was to implement the Canada-Israel free trade agreement the Government of Canada rushed to sign on July 31 last with the government of the State of Israel.

In that speech, however, I regretted the fact that everything surrounding the agreement had been kept secret and that there had been an unacceptable lack of consultation in the matter. I also referred to the dissatisfaction of Quebec's top of the line women's swimwear industry.

While my views are the same concerning the reservations expressed during second reading, I still believe that having a free trade agreement may be beneficial to the Quebec and the Canadian economy, and that this agreement will no doubt increase trade between our two countries.

The Bloc Quebecois is in favour of free trade, free trade agreements in general and of course the free trade agreement with Israel, but always at the appropriate time.

Since our first debate on Bill C-61 on October 9, I have now realized that the government is trying to get this agreement through as Parliament quickly and discreetly as possible. This raises many questions. If this agreement is so wonderful, why is the government trying to implement it on the sly, as it were? Because this agreement is becoming increasingly controversial from the political point of view. That is why.

Hon. members will agree that this morning's third reading is foolishly being rushed through, at a time when all members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, who heard a number of witnesses on Bill C-61 and are very well informed on this topic, are outside the country on committee business. Too bad for the minister and the parliamentary secretary: there are still a number of members in this House who know all about this issue and the protests that were heard before the committee.

These witnesses who came before us on October 29 told us, first of all, that the coming into force of the agreement on January 1, as proposed in Bill C-61, was a mistake. First, because it was not the right time to implement the agreement now that the peace process in the Middle East is in worse shape than ever before.

(1040)

Arab groups also pointed out that this free trade agreement was perceived by many Arabs, in Canada and in the Middle East, as a sign that Canada supported the actions of Israel and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. If this free trade


6096

agreement were to come into force at this time, according to them it might even endanger the peace process in the Middle East.

As for the situation of Palestinians in the occupied territories-the agreement will automatically apply to the occupied territories as soon as it comes into effect-its stability is very fragile. Witnesses told us that the Palestinians do not even control their own territory, much less their economy, which means that today, to apply the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement to Palestinian territory would be to recognize the albeit illegal control the State of Israel has over the Palestinian people.

The occupied territories are at this very moment practically in a state of war. That is what professors, Arab representatives and entrepreneurs came to tell members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Interestingly, these witnesses had never been consulted previously by the department. After listening to this testimony, which put a different light on the matter, we tried to move amendments to Bill C-61, but to no avail.

Our goal, which was shared by many, including Liberal members, was to defer the implementation of the agreement until two conditions had been met. First, the peace process had to be well under way. It seems to me this is commendable.

Second, the negotiations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian authorities on the future of the occupied territories had to be completed. This amendment to clause 62 of Bill C-61 reads as follows. This is the text of the amendment presented by the Bloc Quebecois to the committee reviewing Bill C-61:

No order may be made by the Governor in Council under subsection (1) unless he has been advised by the committee of the House of Commons to which foreign affairs matters are normally referred that the committee is satisfied that
(a) the Government of the State of Israel has taken satisfactory steps to implement the agreement;
This is already in Bill C-61.

But we added the following:

(b) that the peace process between the State of Israel and the Palestinian authorities is well under way.
I will demonstrate in a moment that this amendment to the bill is completely consistent with the Canadian government's foreign policy. We are therefore justified in wondering why they voted against something that was consistent with their own policy.

And,

(c) that the negotiations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian authorities on the political status and economic development of the West Bank and Gaza Strip indicate that these two territories are about to gain effective control over their economic and internal affairs.
The chairman of the Standing Committee on foreign Affairs and International Trade ruled this amendment out of order for procedural reasons, on the basis that the changes were outside the scope of the bill.

We would also have liked to amend the preamble to the bill. You realize that, with the agreement having already been signed by the government, no changes can be made to the wording of the agreement per se. This in itself is quite frustrating, in a parliamentary system that claims to be democratic, for an elected representative like myself who does not have a say until it is too late to make any changes and the agreement has been signed.

We would have liked to amend the preamble since that is the only part of Bill C-61 that we are entitled to change. But, again for reasons of lack of consistency with the spirit of this agreement entered into quietly by the parties, we were told changes could not be made.

A clause might have been added, as suggested by some witnesses, to deal with human rights and democratic principles. The Bloc Quebecois considers it is essential that fundamental rights be respected, and such a principle should be an integral part of any agreement like this Canada-Israel free trade agreement.

(1045)

The Minister for International Trade felt and still feels that the protection of human rights has no place in a free trade agreement, even though the free trade agreement between Israel and the European Union contains an interesting clause in this regard: ``The relations between the parties, as well as all the provisions in this agreement, are based on respect for human rights and the democratic principles that underlie their domestic and international policies and constitute an essential part of this agreement''.

If such an amendment to the Canada-Israel free trade agreement had been proposed, we would have supported it right away, but we were prevented from putting it forward by the committee on foreign affairs and international trade.

A provision on the Canadian government's commitment to the Middle East peace process could have been included in the preamble. Our government could have used this provision as a moral benchmark for its future actions in that part of the world.

A clause on Canada's foreign policy regarding the occupied territories would have been quite appropriate. I will get back to this glaring contradiction in the agreement a little later, but for now I will just point out how the Canadian government has violated its own foreign policy by signing the free trade agreement with Israel, since it also applies to the occupied territories.


6097

The Canadian government has always maintained that these territories are illegally occupied by the State of Israel and that the Palestinians should be the ones in charge.

I will now quote Canada's foreign policy on the situation in that part of the world: ``As far as the occupied territories are concerned, Canada does not recognize the permanency of Israeli control over the territories occupied since 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip) and opposes any unilateral measure to determine in advance the results of negotiations, including the establishment of new settlements in the territories and unilateral measures to annex East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. In Canada's opinion, these measures contravene international law and undermine the peace process''.

Further on in this policy, the Canadian government addresses the rights of Palestinians, and I quote: ``Canada recognizes that the legitimate rights of Palestinians that must be exercised in the context of peace negotiations, including the right to self-determination, must be respected''.

This is not interference. It is simply consistency in foreign policy. We are in agreement with it, but when we asked the Liberal government to observe its foreign policy, we met with a categorical refusal.

We are in favour of establishing trade ties with the State of Israel and the Palestinian people. But we do not feel this is the right time to implement the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, given the present very worrisome situation in the Middle East.

We are aware of the commitment the Canadian government made to the State of Israel by signing the free trade agreement last July 31. But we feel that the political and social context is no longer the same as when the Canadian government began its negotiations with the State of Israel. Nor is it the same as when the agreement was finalized and signed.

Furthermore, even the Israeli government in power has changed. We cannot deny the negative impact on the peace process of the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, almost exactly one year ago.

For some months now, the Middle East peace process has been taking a turn for the worse. Negotiations have practically come to a standstill. Exchanges of violence have continued since the opening of the Jerusalem tunnel last September. Recently, the Israeli government approved an increase in its budget, apparently in order to bump up the number of troops at the border with Syria in the event of war.

Spending related to Jewish settlement went up by 90 per cent recently, although it is known for a fact that the principal source of disagreement between Israelis and Palestinians has to do with Jewish settlements. The situation is far from ideal and the implementation of the agreement in this context is far from appropriate. It is true that the government feels that this agreement can help the peace process by increasing trade.

(1050)

That is what we thought also, but some very well informed witnesses have explained that, on the contrary, the timing of the agreement will be harmful instead, and will convince the Palestinians that Canada is siding with the Israelis, contrary to its foreign policy. Let me repeat, we are not against the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, but we do question its timing. The worrisome situation in that part of the world is obvious to anyone who watches the news.

What are we to do if the peace process is not successful in the medium term? This is a legitimate question, and my answer is that, for once, we must question the type of economic partner Canada wants to have.

What is more, it is our opinion, as it was the opinion of the Canadian government in its foreign policy statement from which I have already quoted, that the government of Israel is occupying the Gaza Strip and the West Bank illegally, in flagrant violation of international law.

How, then, can we approve having the agreement apply automatically to these territories, without the Palestinian authorities' accepting the Agreement, and particularly without the Palestinian people's having total control over its territory and its economy, so as to reap the full benefit of this free trade agreement?

The government tells us, as the parliamentary secretary did in his speech, that it is pursuing negotiations and exchanging letters with Palestinian leaders. It seems to me that instead of ratifying so quickly the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement we could wait for the completion of these processes. We will be able to study the letters and regulations and adopt a more enlightened position on the issue.

During the last committee hearing, the parliamentary secretary came in with a new card in hand, saying: ``The official opposition members of the foreign affairs committee have brought forward very good arguments in the last few hearings, so there is something we forgot to tell you. It is true that we have now been in negotiation for more than a year. It is also true that we forgot to consult several groups, so some of them came to see me. We forgot to inform you that we had an exchange of correspondence with the Palestinians that we will make public after the vote on Bill C-61''.

He also said: ``It is also true that we forgot to tell you about some regulations but we intend to make them public after the debate on Bill C-61 in the House. Do not worry, you will see that we did some good work. Have no fear, you will see the documents but we cannot show them to you immediately because we have not had time to


6098

prepare them. We forgot to tell you about them, but we are informing you now''.

This took place no later that one week ago. Why did the Liberals bring forward new arguments just a few days before the debate on Bill C-61 in this House? They knew very well that the present situation would not help them and that the lack of consistency of their foreign affairs policy would not help them either.

Therefore, they had to use some pretty ``bright'' subterfuge in order to get us to say: ``Listen, support this agreement, support Bill C-61, then we will make public the letters exchanged between the Palestinian authorities and the Canadian government. Then, we will make public the regulations designed to include the Palestinian people, or at least to ensure they fully benefit from this free trade agreement. Do not worry.''

But, given what we have seen for three years, for those who have known the Liberal Party over the years, there is reason to be somewhat concerned, at least a little concerned when we are told after a few months, a few years of negotiation: ``Afterwards, you will see all the documents, all the papers.'' Why were we told that the first time only last week? This also is a little strange.

As I said, if we are given those letters, we will be able to analyze them and to have a more informed discussion. It is true that, until now, Palestinians have not opposed the application of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement in their territory.

(1055)

They probably feel that this agreement is an unexpected opening onto a foreign country and therefore can help them. It is exactly for this reason that Palestinian authorities must be part of the negotiations and that their situation should not be dealt in their absence with the Israeli government, as the Canadian government is trying to do now.

This is such a current issue that this very morning, the French and English dailies contained articles dealing with the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. I quote a report from Associated Press entitled ``Call to Israel's Boycott as the Cairo Summit approaches'', from which I will read some brief excerpts. It is a very relevant report that appeared this morning in La Presse.

It reads as follows:

The Egyptian Union of Chambers of Commerce has called on its members to boycott Israel and to refrain from all bilateral or multilateral co-operation with it, including with the State of Israel.
Further on, it reads:

We reject any economic co-operation with Israel so long as a global political settlement has not been reached in the Near East.
That was said by the representative of the Egyptian Chambers of Commerce.

Later on, the article stated:

Palestinian manufacturers decided to boycott the economic summit by way of protest against Israel's sealing off their territories, which is choking their economy.
The same kind of report can be found in English newspapers in Canada today and probably everywhere in the world. This is no secret. Liberals tried to keep the negotiations secret for a lot of things, but this is no secret. The Palestinian situation is now well known.

Moreover, as mentioned in these articles, one must keep in mind the situation in the occupied territories. For the time being, the Israelis are controlling the territories and their economy. Since February 1996, the territories have been sealed off almost permanently, preventing Palestinians from harvesting their crops and even working.

According to an American study, Israel is using this border-closing policy to prevent the influx of competitive Palestinian farm products and manufactured goods on the Israeli market, thus hampering all attempts of the Palestinian economy to take off, and increasing its dependency on Israel's economy.

We can only presume that the free trade agreement will make the situation worse, increasing Israel's control over the Palestinian economy. On the other hand, it should be noted that the economic life in the occupied territories is nearly at a standstill. Foreign trade has just about disappeared. The economy is working at only 3 or 4 per cent of its capacity and, this spring, the unemployment rate was between 60 and 70 per cent in the Gaza Strip and between 40 and 50 per cent on the West Bank, not to mention a very tense climate and numerous violent flare-ups.

The same article went on to say, and I quote:

According to a report published last week by the UN, as a result of the repeated sealing off of the territories, the Palestinian GDP has dropped by 23 per cent over the past four years, and the per capita income has declined by 39 per cent over the same period.
To conclude, we are questioning the coming into force in the occupied territories of the free trade agreement signed by Israel, as long as the Palestinians have not agreed to it and the Palestinian people are not in full control of their territory and economy.

We believe that this is not the time to implement such an agreement now that the peace process has been stopped and is in very bad shape indeed. As long as we are not convinced, as we mentioned in our amendments, that the explosive situation in the Middle East has been defused, we believe that the coming into force of Bill C-61-and consequently of the free trade agreement-should be at least delayed. We believe that the coming into force of this agreement on January 1st, 1997, and the passing now


6099

of Bill C-61 send the wrong message to Canadians, the world in general and the Arab world in particular.

(1100)

Given the evidence we heard on October 29 and the new developments, and since Israel is preparing for war by releasing new funds for this purpose, we would think that, on the contrary, our intervention at this critical point in time could have a negative impact on the peace process.

It would be much better to encourage the Israeli and the Palestinians to seriously negotiate the restoration of peace in the Middle East and, meanwhile, to suspend this agreement, which could favour one of the two parties involved.

We must put pressure on the Israeli government to respect international law and therefore the Palestinian people. The Canadian government must have the political courage to put the agreement on hold. The Bloc Quebecois, and probably the Reform Party, would support such an action. The Bloc Quebecois totally disagrees with the approach chosen by the Liberal government for the signing of free trade agreements. The secrecy, the lack of consultation are totally unacceptable and contrary to what we are being told.

It is unacceptable that the Canadian government would negotiate and sign free trade agreements by itself and without any transparency. This is what the federal government did in the case of the Canada-Israel agreement and it is doing the same thing for the Canada-Chile agreement, which is now being negotiated.

Once the text of the agreement is published, it will be too late to change it because the agreement will already have been signed. What a remarkable democracy! Then they will ask this House to discuss the Canada-Chile free trade agreement, as they are doing now for Israel, saying: ``The only element you have the power to change is the date of coming into force''. And even on that point, the Liberal majority in committee will decide if the date should be modified or not.

Even if the Liberal majority decides, according to its convictions and just as it did at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, to postpone the date the agreement comes into force, it will be very simple, they will only change the players. The government takes the knowledgeable players and puts them on the bench, puts them aside, then sends in people who have not heard about this free trade agreement because, as hard working as they are, as sharp as they are, they are part of other committees and have other issues to examine. The government sends them to raise their hands in committee and say: ``Agreed''.

They were not present at previous committee meetings. They did not hear witnesses, they have only influenced the government party's decision, as opposed to the beliefs of men and women who were sitting on the foreign affairs committee and who had to be replaced at the last minute so that the international trade minister could have his bill passed clause by clause.

Even the clerk had to be replaced so that another one could come and tell us that our amendments were out of order, even though our amendments were totally compatible with clause 62 of the bill.

It is relatively simple. What we were supposed to put forward dealt with the coming into force of the Canada-Israel free trade agreement, that is: Is the timing appropriate, given the current situation in Israel and the occupied territories? We are sending a signal to that part of the world that Canada is going against its foreign policy as defined by the government, not by us, as this is not the position of the official opposition here but the position of the Canadian government.

Does the Canadian government want to send a signal to the rest of the world that it believes everything is well with the Palestinians, everything is well with the Israelis, everything is well in that part of the world, and that now we can sign a free trade agreement, do business with everybody involved, even though Palestinians have no control over their economy, even though Palestinians have no control over their territory, even though the peace process has been significantly disrupted? No.

According to the Canadian government, this position is a figment of the imagination of the official opposition, this position is unrealistic. News bulletins, newspaper articles must have been made up, they must not be true. And we, the Canadian government, they say, are prepared to send this signal to the entire world, that is, that we can do business, no matter what the situation is, with that part of the world. That is what the Bloc Quebecois wonders about.

(1105)

We will continue to ask questions to the government party before supporting Bill C-61. I want to repeat that we totally agree with a Canada-Israel free trade agreement, but only at the appropriate time.

[English]

The Deputy Speaker: It is the turn of the Reform Party, but the hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca is not here. Perhaps Reform members might indicate who is intending to speak for their party on this issue.

An hon. member: Question.

The Deputy Speaker: I hear a call for the question. I think there is normally a courtesy that, speaking on debate, we might give a moment or so to the other party to come. I have a point of order. We will hear it while we wait to see if someone is coming from the Reform Party.

Mr. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak on debate. I wanted to speak to the question, with your permission.


6100

The Deputy Speaker: As the parliamentary secretary and others will know, there is a provision for a speaker from each party to speak at length on a matter.

I wonder if somebody from the Reform Party might indicate to the Chair whether somebody is intending to speak.

Mr. Hermanson: Mr. Speaker, there is someone intending to speak. He is not here yet. I understand the Bloc has another speaker who is prepared to speak to the bill.

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance has the floor.

Mr. Barry Campbell (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to rise to speak in support of the Canada-Israel free trade agreement.

As members know, trade is extremely important to this country. One third of the jobs in this country are dependent on exports. As members may know, every $1 billion in trade translates into 11,000 jobs.

We should never underestimate the importance of trade to this country. This government, recognizing that, has made several efforts to enhance trade opportunities for Canadian businesses.

First, members will be aware of the several trade missions that the Prime Minister has lead to various parts of the world which have resulted in billions of dollars in contracts translating into tens of thousands of jobs in this country.

Those trade missions and the success of those trade missions help to explain why Canada has led the OECD in job growth. This government has also taken other steps in the trade area, notably, promoting trade liberalization through the GATT or the WTO as it is known. Canada has led the multilateral effort for trade liberalization.

This government has taken the initiative in promoting freer trade bilaterally in the NAFTA, adding Mexico to the negotiations that are ongoing with Chile which may well in time lead to a bilateral free trade agreement with that country and South America, and lately the bill we are speaking on to implement the Canada-Israel free trade agreement.

(1110)

With respect to Israel, Canadian businesses have been at a distinct disadvantage. Israel and the European Community have a free trade agreement, and so does Israel and the United States. That means Canadian businesses wishing to export products to Israel are at a competitive disadvantage.

This trade initiative will level the playing field, leading to enhanced trade and investment opportunities for Canadians doing business with Israel. This deal will also give Canada a foothold in the Middle East, maintaining us as a player in fostering freer trade in that region and enhancing economic relations with an important part of the world. Canada, through negotiating this treaty with Israel, shows its readiness to embrace new and emerging economies in this trade liberalization effort. Members should not lose sight of the fact that the Canada-Israel treaty will be a model for other treaties with other countries in that region.

Members opposite have raised a number of questions and a number of questions are out there that we should respond to. One of those questions is why free trade with Israel, why at this time. Let me remind members that when we are talking about the Middle East we must not lose sight of the fact that the State of Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, a vigorous democracy at that. We need only reflect on the very hotly contested Israeli elections this past spring to recognize what a vigorous and vibrant democracy is the State of Israel today.

While others may wonder why not free trade right now with other countries in the Middle East, we must remember that Canada would not enter into free trade arrangements with countries which are not members of the WTO, the World Trade Organization, and it is only Israel in that region of the world which qualifies.

I repeat that free trade with Israel will provide a level playing field and respond to the disadvantage that Canadian business has been under in not having free trade access which its American and European competitors have in that area. The free trade agreement with Israel can certainly be a model for free trade agreements with other countries of that region when they join the WTO.

There are members in this House and people in this country who ask whether it is wise to benefit Israel at this time. They are concerned about events there, as we all are, and they ask that question. I want to respond with a couple of points.

First, I want to point out that the initiative, the impetus, the genesis of this agreement is Canadian business. It is not the State of Israel that has come to Canada and asked for the advantage of free trade. It is Canadian businesses that have come to the Canadian government and said that in the efforts to liberalize trade, let us do something in an important area of the world, the Middle East, the gateway to enormous business opportunities for Canadians. Let us end this comparative disadvantage they have vis-à-vis their American and European counterparts by negotiating a free trade agreement. The initiative is from Canadian businesses and the primary benefit is to Canadian businesses.

Second, I would like to focus on the fact that this treaty is remarkably important not only for the trade and investment opportunities it provides but for the fact that the benefits of this treaty will extent to the Gaza and the West Bank. This initiative of extending the free trade agreement to the Gaza and West Bank was a development that the Canadian government undertook and is


6101

indeed one that caught our American friends by surprise, so much so that they have now very recently extended their free trade agreement also to Gaza and the West Bank. Canada has been a trailblazer in this aspect of the treaty which I think will provide real economic benefit to people not only in the State of Israel but in the West Bank and Gaza.

(1115 )

I point out that the Government of Israel has taken all steps required under the treaty to extend the benefit of the treaty to the West Bank and Gaza. I have seen the letter and members will have undoubtedly heard about it. If not, I draw their attention to a letter from Natan Sharansky, the minister of industry and trade, the Government of Israel, to the Minister for International Trade, our minister responsible for this treaty.

The letter confirms that the Government of Israel supports the principle of the extension of this treaty both inbound and outbound to the Gaza and West Bank territories. That is extremely important. For those who wonder if the benefit of this treaty will ever extend to those regions, they need only look at this document. It illustrates that Israel is doing everything it undertook to do in the treaty as negotiated.

Notwithstanding that, there are members in the House who say this is not good for the Palestinians or it is not good at this time. I find it ironic that Canadian politicians can be so presumptuous in telling the Palestinian authority what is good for it. The Palestinian authority and the Palestinian people in the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere are in a position to tell us whether or not this agreement is in the interests of the people who live in the West Bank and Gaza. There has been no official comment to the Canadian government that this treaty is not appropriate at this time, that it is not desirable. Quite to the contrary. We should take note of that.

Members should recognize this treaty for free trade between Canada and Israel provides remarkable opportunities not just for Canadian business but also for Canadians to continue to be significant participants in economic and other developments in an important region of the world.

There would be no other way for the people of Gaza and the West Bank to have the benefit of free trade, as there is no Palestinian state and there is no other state in the Middle East that could qualify for free trade with Canada at this time. This additional provision of the agreement, its extension to Gaza and the West Bank, is a remarkable opportunity to enhance economic opportunities for people in those regions.

I urge members on all sides of the House to wholeheartedly support this free trade agreement for the benefits it provides, for the opportunities it provides to Canadians including Canadian exporters, for the opportunities it provides for Canada to maintain an important role in an extremely important part of the world. I urge hon. members to support this bill.

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague has spoken about the benefits of the free trade deal, both for Israel and for Palestinians in the occupied territories.

I know he was probably listening in the lobby. The spokesperson for the official opposition indicated many times during his speech that somehow the government should stop this process because it was not in the best interests of the Palestinians. The member who just spoke mentioned some documents which clearly indicate that the Canadian government has been in constant dialogue with Palestinian authorities.

I would like the hon. member's comments about what I said in committee the other day. I said that sometimes some of us in public office believe we have to speak for everyone as if no one other than us has a voice. In this case, is it his belief that the Palestinian authorities have had ample opportunity to express their viewpoint particularly if they were opposed to this deal because it was not in their best economic or political interests?

I would like to hear his comments with respect to the seminars, which are apparently being held this week jointly sponsored by the minister of industry for the Palestinian authority and the Canadian embassy officials from Israel.

(1120 )

Mr. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to elaborate on what I said. Numerous contacts have been made, as I understand it, with the Palestinian authority. The Palestinian authority has been briefed and informed by our ambassador as to the free trade agreement and is well aware of the fact that it is now being debated before this House.

I do not think any of us should doubt the capacity of the Palestinian authority to weigh in, as it does from time to time, on issues that are of concern and importance to it. That is why it is so ironic to find some members of this House concerned about the impact of this particular initiative at this time on the Palestinians or the Palestinian authority. We should afford them the respect they deserve in their ability to speak in their own self-interests.

There are ongoing discussions as the parliamentary secretary mentioned. Continuous economic consultations between our embassy and Palestinian representatives are ongoing notwithstanding the fact that we are in the midst of debate and hopefully in very short order will be passing this important trade agreement.


6102

I thank the parliamentary secretary for his comment and the opportunity to elaborate.

[Translation]

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Terrebonne, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a few questions to the hon. member who spoke after me. Questions which, I believe, are fairly simple and to which I hope to receive simple and clear answers.

First of all, I would like to make a comment. Through its parliamentary secretary, the government said that seminars would be held this week between the Department of International Trade and Palestinian authorities, when we are expected to deal with Bill C-61 today. Would it not be better to have these seminars or meetings before instead of after?

Now, here is my simple question: Could the hon. member tell us whether, according to him and his government, Palestinians control their economy and their territory?

[English]

Mr. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, there have been numerous meetings between the Palestinian minister of economy and trade and various others with respect to this agreement. We are not just starting that process; this has been ongoing. The Canadian ambassador to Israel, who is also responsible for the West Bank and Gaza, has had numerous contacts over the last year with Palestinian authorities on this trade agreement. This is not something we are just starting right now.

The second issue again raises the question of who should speak for the interests of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. I assert emphatically that it is the Palestinian authority and it can tell us how it feels about this. The Palestinian authority's actions speak volumes about the importance it sees in this treaty for the West Bank and Gaza.

[Translation]

Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member and I agree with him that one third of the jobs in Canada depend on international trade. However, I do deplore the lack of information. Hon. members were not kept abreast of the negotiations leading to this agreement, and unfortunately we now have the same problem with respect to the negotiations between Canada and Chile.

I asked the Minister of International Trade for a progress report, but all we got was one briefing with a public servant, who did not answer all of our questions. As hon. members, we should be better informed about such negotiations.

I also deplore the fact that this Canada-Israel agreement does not include any social provisions to protect workers, as is the case in NAFTA or the Canada-Chile agreement. These two agreements provide for parallel agreements on labour and on the environment, which are missing from the Canada-Israel agreement. In my opinion, such social provisions are needed to protect Israeli, Palestinian and Canadian workers. I would like to hear your reaction in this regard.

(1125)

[English]

Mr. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, it is the nature of the negotiations that members are briefed as soon as a deal is arrived at. It would be pointless to brief people on a deal that had not been concluded. Once that took place there were several meetings and debriefings for the opposition caucus. There have been hearings before the committee. There have been discussions at length and questions which have been responded to.

With regard to the other social charter type issues, there are ongoing negotiations within the WTO of which Israel is a member. I point out that no other country in the Middle East is a member of the WTO.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to Bill C-61 dealing with the Canada-Israel free trade agreement.

Although we support the agreement, I believe we have let down the people of the Middle East, the Israelis, the Palestinians and the larger Arab nations of the region with this agreement. Its roots held great promise and possibilities for improving the socioeconomic conditions for the Palestinian people which is absolutely integral for peace for that is part of the major problems addressing and affecting the terrible situation in the Middle East.

It is unfortunate that what we have seen in the last couple of months has nearly extinguished the flame of peace. The efforts for peace had been worked on for a long time and culminated in the Oslo accords last year which brought much hope to Palestinians and Israelis. It has almost been extinguished since Mr. Netanyahu and the Likud party came into power last May. Clearly the responsibility for what is taking place there does not rest entirely on their shoulders. It is a responsibility of both the Palestinians and the Israelis.

However, the bulk of what has taken place recently falls squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Netanyahu and his Likud party. He must understand that the health and welfare of the people he professes to help, the Israeli people, is intimately associated with the health and welfare of the Palestinian people. They are two halves of the same whole, whether they like it or not.

The dance of death, destruction and mayhem we have seen for so many years is simply not going to end unless the leaders of the Middle East demonstrate statesmanship, courage, leadership and faith. Without that, there is not going to be an end to the terrible and tragic deaths that have been occurring for ever so long. Indeed, it is


6103

impossible to find any compelling justification for the deaths of Arab and Jewish youths. It is not necessary.

With strong leadership in the Middle East by both Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Arafat we will find a solution for peace in the Middle East. However, there are a number of things that they must come to terms with.

If Mr. Netanyahu believes that he can foist peace upon the Palestinian people, he is wrong. It will require an extraordinary amount of militarization. He will have to go into the Palestinian autonomous regions and it simply will not work. If he believes that the Palestinian people will somehow capitulate to a stronger Israel and that by foisting their ideals upon them they will back down, he is dead wrong. History has proven that the Palestinian people will not back down until their demands are met. On the other side, it will require a great deal of capitulation by Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian authority to ensure the safety of Israel and Israelis.

Both leaders will have to work together on this issue and both will have to compromise. They are also going to have to look at what happened around the Oslo peace accords as an example of what compromise can effect.

(1130)

It is also going to require bold moves by Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Arafat if they are going to arrive at a solution.

There are a few realities that have to be recognized. The first is that the Israeli and the Palestinian people cannot live together. The only way to achieve long term peace is to separate Israel and Palestine. As painful as that realization may be, both sides are going to have to come to terms with it.

There are boundaries and maps which have been drawn by both sides which are not too dissimilar from each other. Essentially, the areas under Palestinian rule are the West Bank, the Gaza strip and the Palestinian autonomous regions. A strong security cord would be drawn around those areas. That is necessary for peace in the region.

Second, Israeli settlements in the Palestinian autonomous regions must be moved to other areas. The Israeli people who are living in these armed encampments must be removed.

A compromise can be achieved if a line is drawn around the West Bank which is contiguous with Israel and the settlers who are in the West Bank and Gaza strip can be moved there. That will be painful for both sides. However, they will probably be able to endure the pain quite easily. It would be a compromise for the Israeli settlers who wish to live in Palestinian autonomous regions and the Palestinian people who do not want to have Israeli armed camps in their midst. It would also defuse tension in these areas.

The Gaza strip is ready to blow up. We have been hearing that for some time. Now we have an opportunity to defuse the situation in the Gaza strip to avoid further killings. If the Gaza strip blows up we will see bloodshed the likes of which we have not seen for a very long time. That bloodshed will be needless and pointless. It is an avoidable tragedy.

Third, the Israelis have to stop blocking the West Bank and the Gaza strip. That completely blocks the ebb and flow of the Palestinian people. They cannot get to work. It separates husbands from their wives. Sick people cannot get to hospitals. It completely destroys the commerce of the Palestinian autonomous regions.

It is also wise for us to take a look at the roots which have caused such desperation in the Palestinian people, in particular among Palestinian youth in the West Bank and the Gaza strip.

For anyone who has visited that region, one can only be shocked and saddened by the deplorable and wretched conditions under which many of the Palestinian people live. The environment of abject poverty creates desperation. Out of desperation and frustration comes anger. Out of anger comes violence. That is in part why we have seen the Intifada. That is why we have seen Hamas. That is why we have seen, to a lesser extent, Islamic jihad.

These groups have managed to retain their power out of the frustration, the anger and the desperation which these people feel. Therefore economic emancipation for the Palestinian people in these areas is absolutely critical in the peace process. Ensuring that the Palestinian people have their own autonomous state is as important as economic emancipation.

There are two generations of Palestinian youth who are desperate. They are unemployed. The unemployment rate is over 60 per cent in some of these areas.

(1135)

They have absolutely nothing to lose. When there is a group of people with nothing to lose, then there is a group of people who are desperate and will and have resorted to anything in their means.

Therefore what we need to see-I was hoping that Bill C-61 would enable Canada to take a leadership role in this-is to improve the economic situation in the West Bank. Canada, through Bill C-61, could have put pressure on the Israeli people to enter into bilateral agreements with the Palestinian people to improve the socioeconomic conditions, including health, hospitals, clinics, water and employment in Palestinian areas.

Unfortunately we have not seen that. What we are relying on is the goodwill of Mr. Netanyahu and his Likud Party to actually do this. So far since they have come to power in May we have seen


6104

very little honest intention to actually work with the Palestinian authority on looking forward to a long term peace.

That was a grave mistake by Canada in not ensuring that this bill address that. Having said that, there are still opportunities. We can work with the IMF, the World Bank, the United Nations to help improve the socioeconomic conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza strip along with, of course, the Palestinian authorities.

However, if we do this, accountability and transparency must take place because there is some disturbing evidence that has come out that elements of the Palestinian authority is misappropriating a great number of funds that are coming through to it. They are not getting down to the people who desperately need this.

If moneys and funds and loans are going to come through and endeavours are going to take place in the Palestinian areas, they must be done with accountability and transparency. If that is not going to take place, then it simply ought not to be done.

The aspect of Jerusalem is a touchy issue but has to also be dealt with. I would propose, as a Roman Catholic, that Jerusalem be made an international sight for the religions of the world. No one single nation, no one single religion is to have control over this sensitive sight. Indeed, it is ironic that the centre, the site, which is so holy to the great religions of the world, would be the cause of so much rancour, so much bloodshed and so much heartache.

It is not the intention of Jerusalem. It is the exact opposite of what it has come to represent. Indeed, perhaps the only solution that we can have to ensure that this site is going to be available to the nations and the peoples of the earth to celebrate their religion is to make that site the United Nations site for the religions of the world, organized and guarded by the United Nations. I cannot see anything short of that taking place.

Another key player in the situation, of course, is Syria and Mr. Hafez al-Assad. No one is actually approaching Mr. Hafez al-Assad directly to bring him into the peace process. It is absolutely essential that this happen, not through intermediaries because in the Middle East the only way there is going to be actual action on this issue is if the leaders of the areas meet face to face.

Working through intermediaries is not going to actually produce any kind of effective, bold moves that are going to move this area into long term peace. Mr. al-Assad indeed as we all know in this House is an absolute key player in the peace process.

For Mr. Arafat's part, he has to be absolutely ruthless with Palestinian terrorists in his midst who are going to try to get rid of Israel, create terrorist activities on Israeli soil or create terrorist activities and terrorize his own Palestinian people.

He must demonstrate to the Israeli government and to the Israeli people that he also is honest in his intention for peace. He cannot work at both sides, as Mr. Netanyahu has done, paying lip service to peace on one hand but on the other hand trying to capitulate to a very hard line element in his midst. He has to demonstrate and go out on a limb and say the dove of peace is more important than the hand of war.

(1140)

He must be ruthless with his security forces to make sure that he can demonstrate to Israel that he can control them. In September that was not in evidence when the bloodshed erupted in the West Bank and the Palestinian autonomous regions. Mr. Arafat did not demonstrate that he could control his security forces. It is absolutely essential for Israel and the Israeli people to have that comfort that these forces can indeed be controlled.

In the end, the ultimate solution with regard to the Israel-Palestinian situation is that these two peoples, who are very similar in many ways, cannot live under the same roof. They will not live as one country. Therefore both groups, both leaders, both political powers must come to the realization that the only effective, bold, long term solution to peace in the Middle East is going to be Israel and Palestine consisting of a two nation state.

After that I hope that there would be bilateral and economic endeavours, agreements and initiatives between both sides. One of the many existing problems is the massive water problem which few people are taking into consideration. Potable water, particularly in Israel and Palestine, is in critical short supply. This issue affects the people of both Israel and Palestine. Therefore it is important that this issue be addressed co-operatively. This can demonstrate the good will and co-operation that is needed to build bridges between both sides.

Mr. Netanyahu has to take the first step. He has a long way to go to demonstrate that he has the statesmanship of his predecessors, one being Mr. Perez. He must demonstrate to the world, his people and to the Palestinian people that he is committed to the peace process. To do anything less will commit his nation and the region to years of bloody civil strife and conflict with absolutely no movement forward to long term peace.

There is a saying in the Middle East that peace is when a son buries his father, but war is when a father buries his son. For the sake of the children, the sons, the fathers, the daughters and the wives of the Israeli and Palestinian people that the leaders will join hands and demonstrate to their people and the world that they can indeed make the bold moves necessary to finally develop a long lasting peace in the Middle East.

I hope that Canada, a nation that has been a part of every single peacekeeping initiative in the Middle East, a nation of great international respect, can move forward to try to bring these two nations together.


6105

We are fortunate that Mr. Raymond Chrétien has been appointed the UN rapporteur to Central Africa. We have seen the Norwegians display their statesmanship in bringing the Israeli and Palestinians together through the Oslo accords. Canada is capable of doing the same thing. Canada is internationally respected, we have diplomatic power and abilities to try to bring warring groups together under one umbrella to build bridges.

It is not going to cost Canada more money to do this. From a purely self-centred point of view, it is actually going to save Canada and Canadians money through drains on our defence, immigration and international development aid budgets. There is compelling justification for Canada to get involved, to use our existing diplomatic structures to finally bring the Israeli and Palestinian people together but also involve the Syrians, Egyptians and Iranians.

(1145 )

I hope the government will take it upon itself to invest the people we already have in this worthwhile initiative for the sake of peace and the people of the Middle East.

I have a motion to put forward. I move:

That we amend the bill by deleting all the words after the word ``that'' and substituting the following:
That Bill C-61, an act to implement the Canada-Israeli free trade agreement be not now read a third time but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade for the purpose of reconsidering clause 62 and, in particular, to consider substantially changing the implementation date.
The Deputy Speaker: The member was kind enough to show the amendment earlier and it is in order.

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member opposite. Obviously he has a great deal of knowledge and an interest to have gained the knowledge of some of the complexities of dealing with the politics of the Middle East.

He quite eloquently described the wish of most Canadians and most people who live in peace around the world that countries such as Canada, which has a tremendous amount of goodwill, uses that goodwill to try to not isolate one side from the other. These countries should try to bring both sides together to make them understand that it is in everybody's interest that peace be pursued vigorously. The plans that have been laid down and the progress that has been made in the past has to be built on. At the end of the day the people who have suffered so long in that region because of wars and hatreds should be allowed to live in peace and to participate in their communities and their economies without fear of retribution, conflict, terrorism and war.

I agree 100 per cent with what the member said. The disagreement that I may have, however, is in the approach he takes with respect to the bill and how that impacts on it.

The member opposite moved a motion which would put the bill back in committee. This would likely mean that the bill would not be implemented at the beginning of January which is the agreed upon date.

How can the member reconcile what he has just said with respect to Canada using its good name, good offices and its international reputation to try to get both sides together when we would be effectively saying to one side that we have taken sides in this conflict? The Canadian government has made it very clear that it wants this peace process back on track. We have made it very clear that when we deal with the Israeli settlements on the West Bank and Gaza that we do not believe those settlements should be there. It is not helpful to the peace process.

We have implored the Israeli government to get back on track, to get the negotiations going with the Palestinian authorities so that the people, not the politicians, can enjoy peace at long last.

How could he reconcile those statements, which I happen to agree with, with the position that the member's party has taken? The position would be that we would then go in and say to the Israelis: ``We are not going to sign the deal that we negotiated in good faith because we do not happen to like the democratically elected government of the day and how it is pursuing a particular peace proposal''.

(1150 )

Does the member believe we have such leverage with the legislation that it is somehow going to turn them around or would it be better to continue the dialogue, to ask the Israeli government as strongly as we can, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs was extremely strong on this just a few weeks ago, to get back on track with the peace process?

With the Palestinian authorities, the facts speak for themselves. Members of the government, including myself, have concerns. We want to make sure that we are not advantaging one side to the disadvantage of the other. We have taken pains to ensure that this deal will apply to goods that are produced in the Palestinian territories.

I say this with the greatest respect for the opposition, nobody from the Palestinian side has come back. We have had over a year of discussions with the Palestinians. I understand that they have a larger political agenda and may even agree with the larger political agenda. But they are following a parallel track. They are pursuing the larger political agenda for the Palestinians in the occupied territories. They also recognize that the road to a lasting peace has


6106

to be built on investment from the outside, markets for Palestinian goods and access to markets.

They have not told us no. If the Palestinian authorities had believed that the best policy Canada could pursue for peace in the Middle East was not to have this deal, not to have the economic benefits accrue to Palestinian enterprises as well, they have had plenty of opportunity to tell us but they have not.

How can the member reconcile his obviously very deeply felt comments with respect to the peace process in the Middle East and the ability that Canada has to leverage its good name with both sides? He is right. We have had peacekeepers in that region forever. Canadians are highly regarded. Is it not a better role for Canada to play, to have these benefits extended to the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and the Gaza, not just for the benefit of the Palestinians and not just for the benefit of the Israelis. Remember why we have done this. We have done it for Canadian companies.

I have dozens of letters here from Canadian companies that employ people in communities right across the country. They have told us that this is the right thing to do. Some of the companies that have had dealings in the Middle East have indicated to us that the best way that Canada can increase its leverage on the peace process is to have more Canadian companies there, making investments both in the occupied territories and in Israel.

That is how we are going to take the good name that Canada has and that is how we are going to have a better impact by way of influencing both sides to get back to the table and fulfil what seemed to be a promising peace process that was started about a year ago.

Mr. Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca): Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend from the government who always speaks so eloquently in this House.

Basically we are saying very similar things. The intent of the motion is to ensure what the hon. member said, that there are going to be bilateral, co-operative efforts between Israel and the Palestinian people, that the Palestinian people would have free access to markets, that they would have access to the benefits of this agreement and to ensure that there is going to be equity.

The reason why we brought this forward is that the current Likud government in Israel has not demonstrated that it has an interest in developing the peace process in any meaningful way.

Mr. Netanyahu has been giving lip service to the peace process since he came into power in May, saying one thing internationally and doing something very different domestically. That cannot be allowed to happen. We were hoping that Canada would use the bill as a carrot. Canada would say to the Israeli government: ``We find your behaviour unacceptable. We have this opportunity here for you, the Israeli people, but also for the Palestinian people, that economic emancipation for both the Israelis and the Palestinians is absolutely essential for peace. Mr. Netanyahu, sir, you have not demonstrated that since you have come to power and Canada finds it completely unacceptable''.

Therefore, here is a carrot to Israel that we can give but we want some demonstration from the Israeli government that indeed they are going to do what the hon. member just suggested.

(1155 )

We want some demonstration that it will ensure bilateral economic agreements with the Palestinian people, that it will ensure free access for the Palestinian people to markets, that it will address the problems associated with the closures of the West Bank and the Gaza strip which have such an enormous detrimental effect on the economy of the Palestinian autonomous regions.

We in the Reform Party put forward this motion to ensure Canada does not take a behind the scenes view but instead demonstrates its intent, interest and eagerness to co-operate. Canada should demonstrate its desire to build bridges between both people through this bill. Again, we want to make sure the bill addresses and helps both the Palestinians and the Israelis, not just the Israelis.

[Translation]

Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-61, an act to implement the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.

According to the timetable provided for in the bill, this agreement, which was signed in July 1996, will come into effect in January 1997.

What is in this agreement? First of all, this free trade bill is more concerned with goods than services. For example, customs tariffs on industrial products of Canadian or Israeli origin will be eliminated on January 1. Only swimwear-at Canada's request-and certain cotton fabrics-at Israel's request-will still be subject to duty for another two and a half years.

Low duties or no duties will apply to various products, especially in the areas of agriculture and fisheries. These products include grains and their byproducts, beef, maple sugar, alcoholic beverages, and various processed components. Both parties have excluded dairy, poultry and egg products, which will be the subject of future negotiations to further liberalize trade in the agri-food sector.

Like NAFTA, the free trade agreement with Israel provides for a tribunal, a binding dispute settlement mechanism, which has worked rather well so far in the case of free trade with the U.S. and Mexico.

According to the government, the next step is to have the bill passed by Parliament. Should this be done before January, the act


6107

will come into effect on January 1, 1997. I will get back to the timetable and the process a little later.

I should point out that, according to the Government of Canada, the sectors that will benefit the most from this agreement are the grains and grain products industry, manufacturers of telecommunications equipment, the environmental industry, and other cutting-edge areas. Some sectors are excluded: neither the Auto Pact nor cultural industries are affected.

Other areas of trade such as services and government procurement would continue to be governed by the multilateral rules being established through the World Trade Organization.

This is an overview of the agreement. As we can see, this is a free trade agreement dealing much less with products than with services. This is a first step in increasing trade currently worth anywhere from $450 million to $500 million between Canada and Israel.

We in the Bloc Quebecois are obviously in favour of free trade in principle. I may remind my hon. colleagues that this has traditionally been the position of sovereignists who, as a matter of fact, strongly supported the implementation of the free trade agreement between Canada and they United States. It was a central issue in the 1988 campaign, with the sovereignists backing a party that advocated implementing the agreement at the time.

Similarly, we supported the free trade agreement later expanded to include all of North America, NAFTA. The purpose of these agreements is to extend free trade zones for the benefit of economies that specialize in areas where they have comparative advantages.

(1200)

Everyone can benefit from free trade provided that companies adapt and that they can specialize and be productive in areas where the economy gives them these comparative advantages.

That said, the government must not forget that it has responsibilities in terms of wealth redistribution and also regarding the human rights situation, as may the case in any number of agreements. Trade must be pursued, free trade must be promoted, but not at the expense of our global responsibilities as individuals and as a society.

Speaking of the pro-free trade position held by sovereignists, I cannot help but recall the last campaign fought by the Liberal Party, which now forms the government. At that time, the Liberals were against the free trade agreement with the United States and promised to renegotiate NAFTA.

Today, a few years after they came to power, we see that they have been converted to free trade, obviously inspiredby sheer common sense. It makes us very confident in the future to see that the Canadian people generally seems to understand that there is a future in relations as extensive as possible with different countries, whether it be Israel, as is now the case, or Chile.

Some day we will talk about the expansion or the preservation of the economic zone between Quebec and Canada which is, and I stress it, 135 times more important than trade between Canada and Israel.

What is positive in this agreement? The development of this free trade agreement between Canada and Israel will enhance trade. Trade relations will be increased and there will be increased ties between the two countries. That being said, we should not think this will be enough to influence the State of Israel with regard to the peace process in the Middle East. We must be careful not to jump to such conclusions.

Many people think that the strengthening of economic ties is a good way to influence the internal policy of our trade partners, down the road, because there will be more dialogue. It is desirable, but it is certainly not enough.

We are aware of the position of the Israeli government which is not not facilitating the peace process in the Middle East, far from it. This peace process is very fragile and has not been working very well lately. There might be a perception-and this is important in the political world and in the everyday world-that this free trade agreement between Canada and Israel is be some kind of support for Israel. That is the most negative aspect of this agreement.

Speakers from the government side are telling us that we have to understand the difference between the two. This could have been specified through the various amendments moved in committee, by the Bloc members among others. These amendments were aimed at setting out, in the free trade agreement itself, Canada's foreign policy position.

It has to be understood that the agreement applies in the territory of Israel, including the Palestinian territories, and therefore that it will apply also in the territories Israel claims as its own, but that the international community would prefer to have dealt with during negotiations between the State of Israel and the Palestinians. They have not been a party to this process, but they will now be included, and that could be an advantage with this free trade agreement.

It should not be forgotten that, in the Canadian foreign policy, the occupation of these territories is considered illegitimate. The Canadian policy on this issue is that Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over the territories that have been occupied since 1967. These territories include the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza strip. Canada condemns any unilateral action to predetermine the outcome of negotiations, including those on Jewish settlements, and to annex East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Canada considers these


6108

actions are contrary to international law and do not in any way foster the peace process.

(1205)

So, we have two separate policies, one on foreign affairs, and the other one on international trade, that run in different directions. The agreement does not even mention disagreement over Israel's policies. This is a weakness on the part of this government that is to be found in many areas of its foreign policy concerning human rights in general. This is a position of weakness, an acknowledgement of failure and helplessness. It is almost as if human rights are not a concern any more.

In many cases, this government has forsaken the international responsibility it had taken up. It had become a major player in various peace processes. Canada also had acquired an international influence. Today, it seems that we are just giving up. We are hiding behind this effort to make free trade areas wider, and we are claiming this will eventually help us improve situations we would like to change.

We should not be doing this right now, because we are sending mixed signals about Canada's foreign policy concerning the peace process in the Middle East.

Another complaint we have, and it concerns not only this agreement, but all free trade negotiations, is that we are always presented with a done deal, and there is not much we can do except accept or reject the whole thing.

Because of the negotiation process used for these kinds of agreements, Parliament, at least here in Canada, does not have a major influence or impact, and the views of the public are presented by their elected representatives during debate.

This is just a warning because I am sure that we will soon have before us a free trade agreement with Chile and the same negotiation process will have been used. A different approach would probably have given us the opportunity to ask questions or even to amend provisions or add parallel agreements on social issues and the environment, as we did with NAFTA, to ensure that those free trade agreements do not threaten our working conditions or our environment in any way.

There is something wrong with the agreement between Canada and Israel at that level. Maybe we can settle this issue in the future, but for the time being we have to consider what we have before us. I would like to remind the House that we will have to vote on the agreement as a whole and that if Parliament does not pass the bill it will delay the implementation of a very practical and nicely designed agreement which has been negotiated and concluded.

Not giving Parliament the opportunity to have a greater and more direct influence or impact on the negotiation of such international agreements is not a very healthy way of doing things in a democracy.

A word of caution. Canada has asked for protection for the swimwear industry under this treaty, which means that duties will remain in effect for another two and a half years. However, the imbalance is due to the fact that Israel can buy supplies from the European Economic Community, pursuant to the free trade agreement it has with the EEC, something Canada cannot do. So, the Canadian swimwear industry will be penalized or be at a disadvantage compared to Israel to the tune of 25 per cent, because Israel has signed a free trade agreement with the European Economic Community.

We should be concerned about the potentially very negative impact this could have on the swimwear industry, in Quebec in particular. My hon. colleague from Terrebonne has raised this issue several times but so far the government does not seem to be very worried. Let us hope that behind this facade the government is at least giving some serious consideration to the impact on the swimwear industry, particularly in Quebec.

The Bloc brought forward a number of amendments and I want to go over them because I believe they make of lot of sense. As a first amendment, we wanted to include, at the very beginning of the agreement, a declaration that Canada and Israel are committed to human rights and the principles of democracy and that their domestic and foreign policies must be based on that commitment.

(1210)

It was a word for word rendering of clause 1 of the free trade agreement between the European Union and the State of Israel. Canada did not even consider it a good thing to include this clause in the free trade agreement between Canada and Israel. Why? The question is legitimate, since that would have shown somewhere that, while signing international trade agreements, Canada wants to maintain its positive influence on the peace process and send a clear signal to the State of Israel.

There is a second provision, in the suggested amendments, that would have explained that Canada's signing does not sanction in any way the position taken by the new Israeli government towards the peace process. Canada's position is quite clear if one looks at the foreign affairs policy, government papers and government speeches. Thus, why not state it again?

I must remind you that the government does not recognize Israel's control over the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza strip. This could have been mentioned, emphasized and indicated during the negotiations, where both sides wanted to reach an agreement, so that everyone would be reminded of Canada's position on its foreign affairs policy. In this way, trade and human rights would not have been totally disconnected, as the government seems to be doing.


6109

It is disturbing to see Canada shirk its responsibilities at the world level for the sake of economic interests alone. There are indeed limits to the benefits of economic development if this development is not backed by actions on the part of a government that assumes its primary responsibilities. Economic growth would still exist without the government, that is for sure.

That being said, the government must ensure that growth occurs in an orderly fashion, in accordance with the fundamental principles of society, from redistribution of wealth to equal opportunity, and respect for democracy. We must not abdicate these values, which are the very foundation of the state, simply so that some individual interests can benefit from agreements that could go against collective interests if they are not related to the fundamental workings of the state itself.

This is why the Bloc is worried about the schedule provided for the passing of this bill, although we are deeply in favour of free trade and convinced that there lies the future. Quebec is open to the world and it always has been. In this regard, Quebec has been a pioneer in Canada. Without Quebec, we could very well be only at the ratification stage, or even only at the negotiation stage, of the free trade agreement with the United States. Quebec played a major role in the process that led to the signing of the free trade agreement with the Unites States. I simply wanted to remind you of that fact in closing.

However, I am reassured by the fact that the present government has finally recognized the merits of free trade. It is reassuring for Quebecers to see that the day they will decide to take over their own political destiny they will have a free trade neighbour that has an interest in its economic development and, for that reason, an interest in negotiating with a partner with which its trade is 135 times greater than its trade with Israel. It is said that the volume of trade between Canada and Israel is about $500 million, but trade between Canada and Quebec represents more than $65 billion.

Understandably, under such circumstances, common sense will prevail, but that being said we, as a society, must not forget our responsibilities towards democratic values and human rights. I hope the government does not abdicate those responsibilities.

[English]

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate you, since this is the first opportunity I have had to do so, on your recent appointment. I know that you will add a great deal to the civility of the debate in the House and that you will ensure that members' privileges and rights are properly upheld. Indeed, you will add greatly to the decorum of the House. My congratulations on your appointment. It is long overdue.

My comments to the hon. member opposite again deal with different approaches to the bill.

(1215 )

The first approach obviously has to be that the bill was done not to benefit or to reward the Israelis or the Palestinians for any particular behaviour. It was done because Canadian companies, many of them resident in the province of Quebec had indicated they were having great trouble competing in the Israeli market.

There was mention that the government of late has come to the road of free trade and the member is correct. However, we have always indicated that when trade deals are done, that Canadian interests must be vigorously debated and defended during the negotiations. I think we have done that in this deal.

I am somewhat troubled by the approach by some members of the hon. member's party on this deal that because of the very serious situation in the Middle East we should just forget this, take the two years of negotiations and put the matter on hold until the situation is further resolved.

The member should understand first that the trade deal is meant to give Canadian companies access on an equal footing with their competitors from the United States and the European Union in the Israeli market. He also should know that the deal has been very carefully crafted to ensure that whatever benefits accrue to entrepreneurs and business people and the production of goods in Israel also apply equally to the occupied territories.

The member also knows full well that Canada has been very firm and very strong in its position with respect to the peace process. Indeed, we have used our stature in the international community to try to encourage both sides to get back to the table and deal one on one, face to face and finally put this very tragic issue behind all of us and bring peace to the Middle East.

I have pages of names of companies that deal with Israel. There are companies from Montreal that produce products but if they are destined for the Israeli market, they do not produce all of the product. They send it to the United States for finishing, which means jobs that Quebecers will not have. American workers finish the product so that it can be shipped into the Israeli market under the rules of origin requirement and it is given preferential tariff treatment under the Israel-U.S. arrangement.

Surely the member must know that to further delay this matter means lost jobs in Canadian companies that cannot be competitive. Those companies that have decided they can be competitive have gone south of the border and are literally exporting jobs from Montreal, Quebec, from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and from Winnipeg and North Bay. It is literally stopping the job growth there could be if there was a level playing field.

Companies such as Price Waterhouse in Toronto have vigorously supported the deal and indicated that it must go forward. There is Nortel, and the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation which we heard in committee. There is the


6110

Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters of Canada. There are Freed and Freed International of Winnipeg; Teleglobe Canada Incorporated from Montreal; Pratt and Whitney in Ontario; and Air Canada. The list goes on and on of Canadian companies that provide jobs in the province of Quebec and throughout the Canadian economy because they are competitive and when they are given a level playing field they can get contracts which mean jobs for Canadians no matter where they live.

In light of all the member has said, does he not see the downside in not proceeding at this point? Does he agree with the position of the Canadian government, that it is by promoting trade, by getting Canadian companies and exporters into the Israeli and Palestinian areas that we will be most able to show the benefits from the normalization of relations in the political spirit as well as economically for the peoples who live in the region?

(1220)

[Translation]

Mr. Brien: Mr. Speaker, I would like to come back to certain comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade.

He said something important in his speech. He said that the trade deal was first meant to give Canadian companies access to the Israeli market. He did say that was its prime objective. I understand that, but what this also means is that the objective of putting the peace process back on track comes in second or worse. Indeed, this is typical of this government for which democratic values and human rights always come in second when the time comes to talk about economic issues in relation to respect for democratic values and human rights.

In a sense, I am happy that he made things clear, but this does not mean that we agree. The parliamentary secretary was clear and frank when he said the agreement's prime objective was to give Canadian companies access to the market in Israel.

He also said that it would benefit Quebec almost exclusively, if we are to go by the list of Quebec companies he read out. I would like to remind him that 80 per cent of our exports to Israel are also food products, such as grain. We know full well that the west will also benefit quite a lot.

Therefore, it should not be said that only Quebec stands to gain. Of course, I am not surprised that companies from Quebec export to Israel because Quebec understood long ago that the economy of the future is turned towards foreign markets and free trade. I do not want to debate this question further, but I am convinced that it is normal that Quebec should export to other countries as well, even countries with which we did not sign a free trade agreement.

The hon. member exaggerated a little when he said jobs would be lost if the coming into force of the agreement was delayed. It is as though people thought that without free trade there can be no trade at all. Wait a minute. There is trade, but it is not as simple. Even if duties are charged, there can be trade.

Let us take the example of Canada and the United States. Three quarters of our trade was already liberalized even before the free trade agreement. So people must not think that there is no trade between countries if there is no free trade agreement. So to say that jobs would be lost if we were to delay the implementation of the agreement is going a bit too far. Perhaps it would delay the job development process, which is a totally different thing. However, as representatives of the people of Quebec and Canada, we must not forget that Canada has a responsibility to protect human rights in other parts of the world.

The adoption of this bill at this moment could be viewed as an expression of support or at least would send a very ambiguous message with regard to the peace process in the Middle East.

If the Liberals want so much to respect or to improve the peace process in the Middle East, then why did they not accept the amendments that were proposed? I remind them that the purpose of these amendments was to include in the agreement, as in the free trade agreement between the European Union and Israel, that Canada and Israel are committed to human rights and the principles of democracy and that their domestic and foreign policies must be based on that commitment.

Such a provision exists in the free trade agreement between the European Union and Israel. The inclusion of this commitment in the deal would have been justifiable, as well as the inclusion of a provision explaining that the signing of this deal does not mean in any way that Canada supports the new Israeli government's position with regard to the peace process where it is not in line with Canada's foreign policy. This could have been mentioned as well.

This way, at least, we would have said that the Canadian government continues to be deeply committed to these values, which are the state's responsibility. But we can see that Canada has reneged on that commitment and that its only objective, as mentioned by the parliamentary secretary, is to secure better access to these markets, whatever the circumstances.

Yes, the role of a government or a state is to promote economic development, but not at any cost.

Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to take part in this important debate today. First of all, I support the amendment proposed by the Reform Party which would postpone the date on which the bill would come into effect and refer the bill back to committee.


6111

(1225)

I would also like to say to the secretary of state that I was surprised to hear him refer to the position defended by colleagues on this side of the House as opposing the principle of this agreement. That is not the point.

I know that the Bloc Quebecois, speaking for the majority of Quebecers, has supported the free trade principle underlying this agreement. However, this does not mean we cannot say that the fact that these negotiations took place in secret may account for the surprise apparently shown by the secretary of state today.

In the past, Canada has participated in international peacekeeping operations. It has been praised for this. I would say that the Bloc has been proud to participate in developing and, if necessary, maintaining a foreign policy for Canada that is worthy of that past. The government seems to want to sweep this fairly recent past under the rug, as it lists the names of companies that are pressuring the government to adopt this agreement. Is there not something very ironic about all this?

Even in the United States people are starting to disagree with the slogan that what is good for GM is good for the United States. Is Canada now going to say that what is good for a number of large corporations is good for Canada? In an area as delicate and sensitive as the laborious peace process in the Middle East which has now almost ground to a halt, prudence is of the essence.

The government cannot say this agreement is not a signal. It was negotiated in the context of peace building. I may recall this context: men and women put their lives on the line so that both camps, the Israelis and the Palestinians, can visualize peace and reach an agreement. This kind of peace would only be thinkable as part of the development of Israel and Palestine. That in line with this tendency Canada, like the European Union which has renewed its agreement, should initiate and develop a negotiating process to conclude a free trade agreement was entirely normal and in keeping with Canada's history.

However, that Canada, following the latest incidents, regretted by all supporters of the peace process and just a few days before the sad anniversary of the death of Mr. Rabin, after initiating negotiations and seeking to conclude the agreement in this context, should say that this is just a business agreement does not appear to be consistent with what Canadian policy has been so far. Such an agreement cannot be dissociated from foreign policy, even if they would have us believe that it is only a trade matter.

(1230)

Such a claim is impossible, it is not true. This agreement would not have been negotiated if there had not been a vigorous desire for peace, and if the path toward peace had not been sought and attained, through the Oslo agreements at least.

What does the Bloc want now, then? Not for the agreement to be set aside indefinitely. On the contrary, the Bloc believes that this agreement can be a strong instrument of assistance, without interfering into the internal affairs of either Israel or Palestine, in order to send the message that the peace process is important to us.

This is the reason the Bloc Quebecois would have liked to see-and this is a point it raised in committee-the addition to this agreement of a clause that is included in the free trade agreement between Israel and the European Union. Its article I reads as follows: relations between the parties, as well as all of the clauses making up this agreement, are based on a respect of the human rights and democratic principles underlying their domestic and foreign policies and constituting an essential element of this agreement.

With this clause, the European Union can play a role which Canada refuses to play, I repeat, which Canada refuses to play, by signing this agreement, as if there were nothing to it.

Although we agree with the principle of this agreement-even if, as I have said, it was negotiated in secret, as is the agreement with Chile, as well-we have doubts about the timeliness of implementing this bill now. At the very least, we want to see the timing looked into.

We feel this is sending a message which we feel does not coincide with what countries everywhere who are concerned with the Israel-Palestine situation are trying to do in their foreign policies. They are concerned because, this is my feeling, these two peoples, these two nations, have suffered too much for this difficult agreement we have arrived at not to be implemented.

What message would that send? Some claim that the Palestinians had no problem with this agreement. We have asked for proof of this. Until we are given proof to the contrary, however, we have our doubts.

(1235)

I would also like to mention one surprising point. Earlier, the secretary of state said that businesses want that agreement to be signed as soon as possible and declared that jobs could be lost if we do not facilitate trade with Israel and Palestine.

Well, let me say that such statement seems to conflict slightly, I repeat slightly, with what we have heard in Quebec these past few months concerning the harmful effects of political uncertainty on the economy. I am emphasizing that point because there seems to be two different analyses, two different visions. On the one hand, businesses are in a hurry to see the amount of trade and investments between Canada and Israel increase but, on the other hand, those same businesses are terribly worried about the Quebec situation.


6112

I would also like to point out that during the NAFTA negotiation process, some parallel agreements were developed on environment and labour. We could call it a social clause process. But there is no such thing in this agreement with Israel, although it would be important.

In conclusion, I will simply say that in this instance they are not striving for such parallel agreements which seemed so crucial to this government. Let me remind you that the Liberals ranted and raved over the free trade agreement, saying it was unacceptable to them; but now, they are promoting the agreement after having reassured Canadians who were concerned about parallel agreements on labour and the environment.

We could question their efficiency but there is a message there. And what message could the agreement with Israel be sending if not that Canada is abdicating its foreign policy, its traditional policy of championing and promoting peace, that it is foregoing the minimum requirements that the European Union demanded concerning human rights and that it is not even asking for parallel agreements like those that accompanied NAFTA. That is why, because the measure would send the wrong message, I will support the Reform Party amendment.

[English]

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest and I am a bit surprised that the hon. member has made statements in this House that are patently false. They are not true.

The hon. member would have individuals believe that the government proceeded with this bill somehow through dark corridors in the dead of night and that parliamentarians were not apprised of the process as it was under way. That is simply not true.

It is important when statements are made which are factually incorrect that it is brought to the attention of the House and the people who are watching this debate. Indeed the member opposite asked why with such haste has this bill gone forward. I do not know where she or her party has been of late but this is simply not the case with this bill.

(1240 )

On November 23, 1994, quite a while ago I would say the member, there was a news release. It was not done in the dark of night. It was put on the wire for the English and French press across the country which indicated that the Prime Minister and the late Prime Minister Rabin officially announced the launching of the trade negotiations.

On November 29 and 30, 1994 the chief negotiator for Canada briefed the federal-provincial trade policy committee and invited input from provincial governments, including the government in Quebec City.

On January 14, the Canada Gazette published the official notice requesting submissions from any interested parties.

On January 23, 1995 the Department of Finance wrote 35 companies and industry reps requesting comments and views regarding negotiations, particularly on things like rules of origins. Some of those companies were in the province of Quebec.

There were at least a dozen SAGITs, industry meetings that took place, and those representatives are from the sectoral industries right across Canada.

On June 23, 1995 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada distributed a working paper on Israel's agriculture and trade to the federal-provincial agricultural trade policy committee and the agricultural food and beverage SAGITs, again representing that particular sector right across the country.

On January 12, 1996 another news release: ``Canada and Israel officials reach tentative agreement on the proposed trade deal''.

On January 19, 1996 the chief negotiator held a conference call with the provinces. And so on and so on down until June 11, 1996 when the rules of origin negotiated provides update to all of the provinces at the seed trade meetings.

On July 31 a news release was made stating that Canada and Israel signed the free trade deal.

In addition to that, the Bloc Quebecois caucus, the Reform Party caucus, the Liberal Party caucus and anybody who had an interest was offered a briefing by the senior officials who had negotiated this deal.

In addition to that, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, on which we have three members from the Bloc Quebecois, did a vigorous examination of this bill.

The second thing she indicated, which I find misleading, is that the government is hiding something in this bill, otherwise why did it not pass the amendments of the Bloc Quebecois. I will tell the member that if her House leadership, at least those individuals in the research bureau who are supposed to know about proper form and content, would have looked at those amendments that were put at committee they would have found that they were clearly out of order. The reason those amendments were not put and voted upon is they were not in the proper form. They exceeded the scope of the bill. The chairman of the committee, who has as much authority in committee as the Speaker does in this place, indicated quite clearly that these motions were not in order. There was nothing nefarious about that. Nobody changed clerks in the middle of the stream to try to somehow subvert the rights and privileges of members of that committee. It was all above board and done according to the rules.


6113

The last thing I want to say to the hon. member, which I think is important, is this is about trade for Canadian companies. There are real Canadian companies out there. Some of them may be in Dartmouth, some in Montreal, some in Winnipeg or some in North Bay, as I said before, that are having difficulty accessing this market. To indicate that somehow the Government of Canada has put trade ahead of those other very important issues like peace in the Middle East belies the facts. This government and our Minister of Foreign Affairs have been steadfast in his determination to use the goodwill that Canada has abroad to promote the peace process at every opportunity.

Concurrent with these negotiations and subsequent to these negotiations, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister and other ministers of this government have made it extremely clear that it is Canada's wish and desire that the peace process continue, that it get back on track and that there is a successful conclusion to those negotiations.

With respect to human rights and other issues that the member has raised, this government has always been concerned about human rights but we fundamentally believe that a policy of exclusion means that if there are human rights violations in any jurisdiction they will only get worse. We do not follow that policy with Cuba nor with a number of other countries. The members opposite agree with the government's policy.

With respect to Israel and human rights, vis-à-vis the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Canadian government has been very clear. We have sent messages to both sides. We have said, in each and every instance, that the solution to the problems in the Middle East and more globally in other nations does not come from a policy of exclusion and containment but from one of inclusion and dialogue. Trade is one of the routes by which we can do that. We have done it successfully in the past and we will continue to do it.

(1245)

I hope the member recognizes that members of her party have sat on this committee and have contributed a great deal. They understand what this is all about.

I hope that she will correct the record. There has not been an attempt by the government to hide this very public deal.

[Translation]

Mrs. Lalonde: Mr. Speaker, yes, once the deal was done it was made public. This is not what I meant. What I said, and what the committee members said, is negotiations went on behind closed doors. On the one hand, what the secretary of state has just said does not contradict this.

On the other, what he said about the firm stand the government took with regard to the peace process does not contradict in any way the fact that endorsing the agreement now will send the message that we support the current policy.

I was happy to hear in what context negotiations started: in the context of a slow and painful peace process which has been very costly for both sides. These negotiations were meaningful then. Even if, as I said before, they went on behind closed doors, everything he said does not contradict this fact. Even if this is the way the deal was done, we agree with it in principle, but we are questioning the timing, and none of his answers are satisfying with regard to the effectiveness of this agreement as far as the current process is concerned.

The European Union will be able to intervene thanks to the wording of the principle. We know that if the situation does not improve, it will do so, whereas Canada will have signed an agreement with no such provisions.

I have too much respect for the peace efforts. I had the pleasure of being in Israel during the implementation of the Oslo agreement, and of witnessing the peace process in action. I was able to see how difficult it was, how deeply rooted in their history the settlers' claims were. And it is because this process is so difficult that countries, such as Canada, who might influence it and help the democratic forces within to respect the Oslo agreement, must keep up the pressure.

[English]

Hon. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first let me say how welcoming it is to see you in the chair. I know you will grace it with honour, with distinction and with a sense of levity as you bring calm, peace and quiet discussion to informed debate. Welcome. I am pleased to see you there.

We are having a very important discussion on the Canada-Israel free trade agreement. I would first ask my own constituency and the people following this debate with so much interest to consider that what I have to say first started with what my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade, said so eloquently on this issue before the intervention of the member for the Bloc Quebecois.

(1250 )

He outlined in a succinct way the importance and the value of the nature of this agreement in the interests of Canadians. This bill, first of all, was initiated because Canadians wanted a fair and even playing field with the Americans and the Europeans.

We know what it is to have to work to an even and fair playing field with our American colleagues, having been very much a part of the NAFTA agreement. It is good particularly for Canadian businesses in my riding where large companies have to manufacture parts, not be able to complete them and put the value added parts on because we did not have this kind of agreement. We shipped the products to the United States to put a U.S. stamp on


6114

them even though they had been made here except for the last little value added parts. In that way we could sell them at a reasonable and competitive price.

Second, it is good for Israel because Canada has products that we can sell there. They have products that we can buy here that are of value to us.

Third, it is good for the Palestinians. The Palestinians have, at this point, no exit route for the development of industry that is indigenous to their part of the West Bank and Gaza. There is no World Trade Organization agreement for any of the alliance countries around them. Israel is the only democracy in that area that has accreditation to the World Trade Organization, easily referred to very often by the letters WTO.

The other thing that is so vital for us to keep in mind is that we are Canadians in a Canadian government and we are masters of our own internal relationships. We are not interested in having external input into how we run our business.

Peace, order and good government is fundamental to all countries as they see it and as they determine it. We are not the Israelis, we are not the Palestinians. They, themselves, have to come to some kind of agreement with the help of countries outside their borders which are often there as peacekeepers, as the Canadians have been.

I believe that Canadians have become peace makers. This agreement is a ground breaking agreement with respect to the Middle East, which is a flash point. It could have been a flash point at any point in the history of the world and has so been.

The fact that we put into this agreement an acknowledgement of the place and the role of the Palestinian people, the importance of people working together in business, in trade who will, by just merely getting together talking to each other and knowing each other will in this inclusive environment move that dialogue toward better relationships between people.

We all recognize this in Canada. We are a civil country with civil discourse. There is a country that needs our example. By our very presence in the field of trade and commerce, I believe we bring a very important message. Our peace makers and our peacekeepers, in whom we have great pride, have been in that country for over 26 years. We have the longest history there. We have a degree of credibility, both with the Palestinians and the Israelis. That is an added dimension.

I want to remind the Bloc and the Reform Party that we were the first countries to do business with Cuba, to do business in the Asian-Pacific area, to do business in countries that do not have great relationships among their people, who are not as respectful of human rights as we would like them to be.

I believe fundamentally that when you work with people, when you bring your business culture and your business climate and your business people in and exchange through dialogue and personal relationships, you affect those relationships between the people who are indigenous to that country. You are, by your very presence as a role model, affecting change.

I believe that this agreement, the Canada-Israel free trade agreement, is very necessary for that part of the world, is most important for Canadians and is going to be enabling of the Palestinians.

(1255 )

I was in Israel to monitor the Palestinian elections. I met with many Palestinians. I talked with them in east Jerusalem. I met with them in Ram Allah. They all knew about this trade agreement. Is it not interesting that they knew last year and the other side of the House seems to be just now finding out about it?

My colleague from Dartmouth has outlined all the steps since November 1994 that have been ongoing in the development of this free trade agreement. According to another colleague in the House who is an expert on international trade, it is an extraordinarily well drafted document. I gather the Bloc and the Reform Party acknowledge that, accept that and would like to move forward given the time.

Timing is not up to us. What is up to us is to be present to enable a propitious moment to effect change. Although this free trade agreement is not a reward for Israel it certainly enables Canadians, Israelis and Palestinians.

As an aside, I found it quite rewarding to watch the minister of trade, Natan Sharansky, signing and sending the letter. We realize the world has changed dramatically when we see an immigrant from Russia, an open country, who has been in Israel for barely four or five years and is now a minister. That is a democracy of which we can be proud.

It is the same with many people in this House who have come from very diverse backgrounds. They have come as immigrants to our country and are now here leading our country as ministers. We see the same situation reflected in the values and the democratic principles within Israel. They find themselves in a very different political milieu, political ambience than we are privileged to have right here in this country notwithstanding some of the discomforts and the concerns we presently live with.

It was very exciting to meet with the leadership of the women's movement in Ram Allah. The women talked about the importance of the development of trade links and business, both with Israel and the potential Canadian agreement.


6115

My colleague from Dartmouth pointed out that we have not heard one word from the Palestinians against this accord. We have only heard from members on the opposition benches who seem to be becoming the ministers for international trade for the Palestinian people, which is a most inappropriate role for them to undertake.

I have an addition to my colleague from Dartmouth's chronology. I continue along his outline from November 23, 1994 to July 31, 1996. My addition looks particularly at the role that has been played by the Palestinian people.

In 1995 there were meetings and telephone conversations between Kevin Gore, Canada's chief negotiator and Abu Allah, then Palestinian minister of the economy and still current deputy minister Samir Huelella.

On January 12, 1996 and July 31, 1996 ongoing negotiations were continued. Commercial counsellor Zeisler spoke with deputy minister Huelella and other Palestinian authority trade officials regarding the extension of benefits and requests meetings with Minister Masri to formally present a copy of the free trade agreement.

On September 3, 1996 commercial counsellor Zeisler met again with the new Palestinian minister of economy and trade.

On October 20, 1996 commercial counsellor Zeisler, Ambassador Berger and the First Secretary Barber met with the Palestinians. Again there were technical seminars on November 6 and November 9 on the benefits to the Palestinians under this agreement.

On October 27 there was another meeting. October 28, a letter was sent to Minister Masri elaborating Canada's legislative process. It was faxed on October 29.

The whole outline is one of openness. The ability to be involved in this undertaking is quite exciting and interesting. As a last note, we have given an example to the world. The Americans have decided to follow the route Canada has undertaken with respect to the inclusion of our Palestinian cousins who are found in the area.

(1300)

I would urge the House to look upon this free trade agreement as positive in the interests of Canada, in the interests of Israel, in the interests of Palestinians and in the interests of forwarding the peace movement.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken): Is the House ready for the question?

An hon. member: Question.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken): The question is on the amendment.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken): All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Some hon. members: Yea.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken): All those opposed will please say nay.

Some hon. members: Nay.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken): In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken): Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken): The chief government whip has requested that the vote be deferred until 5.30 p.m. this day, at the end of Government Orders. Accordingly the vote stands deferred.

* * *

[Translation]

THE FISHERIES ACT

The House resumed from November 4, 1996, consideration of the motion that Bill C-62, an act respecting fisheries, be now read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Yvan Bernier (Gaspé, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I could say right away that, indeed, I am pleased to rise in this House to speak to the bill of the century, since we are talking here about reviewing legislation that dates back almost to 1868. However, I must say first that the bill of the century is badly structured. I am surprised to see that the fisheries and oceans minister took only 15 minutes in this House, yesterday, to deal with a bill of the century.

You will understand all the fears and all the concern that one may have about such a bill when one sees that the fisheries minister gives so little time to such a bill, the bill of the century.

(1305)

I could add that, despite the fact that the minister seems to give it so little time, I appreciate the relevancy and the usefulness of reviewing and updating legislation dating back to Confederation. Unfortunately, instead of taking the opportunity to solve the serious organizational problems within the fishing industry, the federal government is presenting us with a bill containing major deficiencies.

I will have the opportunity this afternoon to instruct my other colleagues in the House. The Bloc Quebecois hopes that, this time, the Liberal government will be able to show a little more judgment


6116

and will accept to put partisanship aside to make Bill C-62 acceptable to fishermen.

This act being about fisheries, there is a need to get the fishing industry, the fishermen, to see it as good piece of legislation. It is important to do a good job about it, especially if no changes are to be made to the legislation for another century.

I must say that, until such time as major changes have been made to the bill, the Bloc Quebecois will oppose the principles set out in this bill for reasons I will explain later.

For the benefit of my hon. colleagues and our audience, I would like to say that Bill C-62 has four parts. Part I deals with fisheries conservation and management; it creates a work system. Part II is about fish habitat conservation and protection, and pollution prevention; it contains a series of measures allowing the legislator to achieve his goal.

Part III is administrative sanctions. Two fisheries tribunals would be established to look after the administration and implementation of the administrative sanctions. Finally, part IV of the bill deals with administration and enforcement. Basically, part IV describes the working of the administration.

I told you how shocked I was when I saw the botched job the government had done with its fisheries legislation. I would like to start my remarks by recalling the three main reasons why Bloc members will vote against Bill C-62 at second reading.

First of all, we disagree with the approach taken by the minister in relation to fisheries management agreements. These agreements are covered by part I of the Fisheries Act. Second, as the bill stands, not enough powers are being delegated to the provinces, which flies in the face of the management agreements provided for in the same act. I will explain a little later.

The third reason why we disagree with and will vote against this bill has to do with Part III concerning the establishment of fisheries tribunals to manage administrative sanctions. These tribunals are a smoke screen that will allow the minister to maintain control over sanctions. Those are the three reasons why the Bloc Quebecois will oppose Bill C-62.

I would not want to overlook another reason related to Part II, which deals with habitat conservation and protection, but I will let my colleague from Laurentides tell you about this later. I think that Part II as drafted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans directly encroaches on environmental matters under the jurisdiction of the provinces, including Quebec. I will let my colleague elaborate on this.

To get back to the heart of my speech, I will try to explain the reasons.

(1310)

I spoke to you earlier about management agreements. We did not think the minister should propose management agreements. For the benefit of the members present in this House and the people listening to us, I could perhaps quote part of clause 17, whose title is ``Fisheries Management Agreements''.

Subclause 17(1) provides that:

17. (1) Her Majesty in right of Canada, represented by the minister, may enter into a fisheries management agreement with any organization that, in the opinion of the minister, is representative of a class of persons or holders.
That is to say, licence holders. It is not known whether the clause refers to licence holders or fishermen, but the word ``persons'' is used.

What I find greatly irritating-and I fear the fisheries sector will feel the same way-is the discretionary nature of subclause 17(1), which specifies right away that fisheries management agreements can only be signed by the organizations or individuals invited to do so by the minister.

In my view, this bill shows a dichotomy. A little further in the documentation on the new fisheries act, a link is made between fisheries management and partnership agreements. Mention is made of a partnership with the fisheries community. Well, partnership should equal transparency. There is an obligation to earn the trust of those they want to work with.

If, at the outset, the minister has the discretion to decide who he will invite to take part in the management agreement, the whole thing seems to be unfair, it is not fair play, as we say in the industry, for the other partners or players sitting at the table. Those people do not know who will be invited and when.

In other words, the minister always knows who will be invited, but at any time he can come out and bring another partner into the management agreement and that is when he could jeopardize the beginning of the partnership set up by the players already involved. This is the first problem.

I want to stress this issue because we are at the very beginning of the revival of the groundfish industry. What I am trying to say about subclause 17(1) will be seen as a precondition to the revival of the cod fishing industry. Let me explain.

The fisheries resource advisory council recommended quotas representing, year after year, close to 10 per cent of the catches registered previously. This means that not everyone will be able to start fishing again at the same time. It means that someone will have to decide who will start fishing and who will go first.


6117

So, the first problem I see with this so-called bill of the century, since the old one was passed 100 years ago and needs to be modernized, is that the minister will have to make a recommendation in mid-December.

How is it that he did not take advantage of the tabling of his bill to at least write a clause somewhere to tell us that the minister or the cabinet, the executive body of government, could establish the rules to determine parameters thereof. There is absolutely nothing on that subject. If we are not able to plan for the short term, it will be at our door tomorrow morning, or almost, how can we expect to live another hundred years with something that is still at the minister's discretion, since the delivery of licenses is still just as discretionary? It was a ministerial privilege.

(1315)

Fishermen will need to know that and that it is not visible.

I always make a comparison with the reopening of the cod fishery, which many are hoping for next spring, after the moratorium established in 1993 by the department.

When the moratorium was established, the department talked about a rationalization of fisheries. Fishermen said that maybe the way to do so was to make their trade a profession. Fishermen put a lot of work into that issue. There is nothing in the bill about a legislative framework for professional status.

Surely the multitude of officials surrounding the fisheries minister have undoubtedly heard the fishermen's demands; how is it that there is not one iota of this in the bill or a reference to the fact that it will be done soon. No, there is nothing at all.

You will note that I find that, in the first paragraph only, the minister should have mentioned two little things, that is, professional status and a definition of the essence of fishing. He could have told us in this clause how he sees the future, but no, there is nothing about that either.

In the same perspective-and I would like to help people see whether the minister is clear or not and whether he has understood the wishes of the fishing community-when a moratorium was imposed on the cod fishery, fishermen said that, when that fishery would reopen, they would like more versatility. What did it mean? It meant that they would be able to catch different species, which seemed logical to me since there is always a risk of accidentally catching other species.

However, when we are talking about management agreements, we are talking about a group of individuals who will be invited to develop management measures for a particular fishery and to harvest that resource. How will people who are not part of the group be allowed to join in? Will it be by designation or on the minister's discretionary advice? If such is the case, what confidence will the people who developed the agreement have in this agreement? I am not talking about excluding people. I am just asking how new people will be included in such a group. There are methods for doing that, and I will be happy to give the minister a course on that subject.

I want to raise a second point with regard to these management agreements. Paragraph 17(2)(d) refers to the obligations, responsibilities and funding arrangements with respect to management of the fishery. But just before that, paragraph 17(2)(c) says that Canada or Her Majesty may collect fees for the issuance of licences.

That is exactly what Nova Scotia fishermen are contesting right now with regard to the lobster fishery: the increase in their fishing licence fees. All fishermen in Canada know that fishing licence fees have been raised by 300, 500 or even 1,000 per cent in some cases.

These increases have hurt fishing communities and have had a devastating effect on the economic activity in these communities because that is money taken out directly from their economy.

(1320)

In clause 17(2)(d) of the new bill, the minister immediately announces that, in order to have access to a particular fishery, you will now have to sign or you will be invited to sign a partnership agreement, but, on top of that, you will have to pay new fees related to management and protection of this resource. As it stands, this does not resolve any of the fisheries' organizational problems, but it does one heck of a job of resolving the department's financial problems.

The minister has come up with this clause, and this bill, to sort out his own problem of organization. He sets up a screen, he appoints a committee, he can add as many players as he likes, and to cap it all he sends them a bill.

What is the benefit to fishermen in all this? How does it help the fishery? I repeat, it is the statute of the century. The last one was written in 1868; it is now 1996 and we are about to be taken to the cleaners.

With respect to financial costs alone, I would like to give the example of the partnership agreements signed last year with respect to the crab fishers in zone 12 of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Traditional crabbers worked like fiends, I have to say, with Fisheries and Oceans officials over a long period of time. They were working on a partnership agreement.

But last February, the new fisheries minister blunders in and says ``That has to go''. What happened? He brought in new players. I am not contesting the right of new fishermen to come into this fishery. What I have a problem with is the cavalier manner in which the minister has acted. How can the traditional crabbers in the example


6118

I have just given trust a minister who scraps a partnership agreement worked out by his own department. He is the boss, after all.

And the crab fishermen. He brought in a new breed of shore fishermen by the back door. I do not have anything against this, but as I said with respect to clause 17(1), there must be a mechanism setting out under what circumstances new players will be allowed to join, something transparent for those around the table.

Imagine, the crab fishermen were preparing, for this year alone I believe, to pay $500,000 to Fisheries and Oceans in shared management costs. That is a lot of money. These people were going to invest money without knowing how much ministerial honesty and transparency there would be. If history repeats itself, how do you think the fishermen will react? How will they react to the minister's present request for a blank cheque?

I would like to raise another small point. I have spoken of the first item: our position with respect to the way in which the minister proposed the management agreements. I offered you some examples to explain our opposition.

Now, I would like to speak about why we are opposed to the wording of the clause concerning delegation of power to the provinces, delegation I would characterize as insufficient and contradictory.

In this connection, I would just like to point out that, at present, the minister or his department is in the process of working on an agreement in principle with British Columbia, precisely for the purpose of reviewing the division of powers. Yet, with respect to the division of powers referred to in the June press release over the signatures of B.C. minister Glen Clark and the present federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, they indicated that everything was on the table and negotiable.

(1325)

The delegation of power described in the present bill refers only to transferring licensing, with the added bonus of any charges that might be collected.

This is insufficient, if we are going to be coherent with respect to fisheries-and I believe the B.C. Premier was when he said: ``Now then, if we want to look at what is happening with respect to fisheries, we must lay everything out on the table: licensing, conservation, administrative rules. Coherence is necessary, for at present, as everybody knows, a live fish is federal, but a dead fish is provincial''. We must work to ensure that this industry has all the same tools in its tool chest. When delegating, you cannot delegate just the doorknob; you have to delegate the whole door, with hinges, lock and key.

I gave the example of British Columbia perhaps for fear of being criticized for talking about Quebec all the time. I will remind the House immediately that, at the Victoria conference in November 1994, Quebec too asked for more power over fisheries.

If time permits, it may be a good idea to remind all the hon. members in this place and the public as well of what Quebec publicly requested and is still requesting, as repeated by Quebec fisheries minister Guy Julien just recently, one or two weeks ago. This public position has been reiterated.

Regarding stocks captured completely and entirely by its residents, which basically means inshore species, Quebec was asking for full administrative responsibility for fish stock assessment, preservation or management policy development and issuing of licences on the basis of allowable harvesting levels, as well as control and monitoring of its fisheries.

To be effective in an area such as this one, you have to take a top-down approach.

Furthermore, it was requested that the related budgets and positions be transferred along with these responsibilities. This is the kind of issue that can easily be settled through the transfer of tax points. The Quebec fisheries minister was reaching out. Looking at the federal minister's bill, I notice that he is trying to resolve some financial problems. But Quebec's proposal would have resolved both these financial problems and structural problems in fisheries.

The other items requested by Quebec were that, regarding underexploited fish stocks and stocks captured by residents of more than one province, the federal government assume responsibility, directly or through special agencies, for resource assessment as well as the control and monitoring of the use made of this resource. As far as these stocks are concerned, the preservation mandate should go to an independent agency with decision making authority set up by the federal government.

The Atlantic provinces and Quebec would designate representatives from their respective industries as well as government representatives to this agency.

Again, regarding the stocks caught by several provinces, point (b) calls on the federal government and the provinces to establish a multilateral process for determining provincial fleets' access to fish resources. In other words, the quotas would be set before the fleets went out to sea. This would be a good way of settling matters, of being proactive. I think this kind of approach is occasionally needed.

Under point (c), Quebec would be responsible for distributing its share of the stocks among its own residents, and receive related budgetary appropriations.

In other words, Quebec's minister of fisheries offered to resolve many of the issues for his federal counterpart as long as he had the powers to do so. In this regard, I am still in a good position to say that the provinces may be better able to resolve fisheries-related problems, since last spring-to get back to the example I used


6119

earlier-the current federal minister of fisheries was unable to even make a dent in the troubles in the crab fishery.

I would suggest that he even poured oil on the fire by refusing to meet with the parties in the fishing industry who could not come to an agreement.

(1330)

Who restored public peace? Quebec's minister of fisheries, Guy Julien, and New Brunswick's minister of fisheries, Mr. Thériault, who bore the brunt of the fishermen's and factory workers' discontent. The windows of his house were smashed.

It was not his area of jurisdiction but he had to settle the matter himself. If there is any desire to be in the least consistent, when the minister dares-either out of naivete or because people are thought to be foolish enough to swallow such a thing-to draft something like clause 9 on delegation of powers, with its insufficient description of powers, when this spring he needed his provincial counterparts to settle his problems, this is a real shame.

Still relating to the delegation of powers to the provinces, I would also like to draw the attention of the minister, the members of this House and the public, to the contradiction between a desire to delegate powers to the provinces, as stipulated in clause 9, and reference to fisheries management agreements as set out in clause 17.

In clause 9, what is delegated is not the power to issue licences and to collect fees. Clause 17 on fisheries management agreements is not subject in any way to clause 9. Thus, what will those provinces wishing to take advantage of clause 9 have to administer if, in another forum, the federal level, via its present Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, is signing partnership agreements with those he himself designates, and who in his opinion represent the fisheries? What power does he delegate to the provinces? An empty shell.

I am getting carried away, but I see time is flying, and I would not like to leave you without speaking of the third point which is an irritant to myself and the Bloc members, part III of this bill which addresses the creation of a Fisheries Tribunal, which I have just now described as a smokescreen for the minister.

The purpose of part III, as described under the establishment of tribunals, was to prevent Fisheries and Oceans, both the department and the minister, from being judge and jury, in other words, from hearing evidence that a fisherman had committed fraud or violated a fishing regulation and then imposing the sanction right away.

I think that under any civilized system, every accused person is innocent until proven guilty. What is being proposed here is this: the fine will no longer be imposed by the regional directors of Fisheries and Oceans, oh no, but by people we are going to appoint. The minister is going to appoint people for a period of three years; he will give them guidelines.

What is the difference between appointing a representative who works under the supervision of the minister according to the minister's guidelines, and the current regional directors of Fisheries and Oceans? I do not see the difference. Perhaps the Liberals do. The difference is that they will be able to appoint their friends to these positions. That is obvious.

In fact, the only two criteria for being appointed judge of these tribunals is-

Mr. Bellehumeur: To be a card-carrying Liberal.

Mr. Bernier (Gaspé): -to have a good knowledge of Canada's ocean resources or a good knowledge of administrative decision making.

I even heard someone say: perhaps to be a card-carrying Liberal. Well, he might have to be a card-carrying member of some other party when the time comes, but we want is transparency.

(1335)

I am not saying that people in the fisheries sector are incompetent, but I want the process to be transparent. I want fishermen and the people who make a living in this industry to be judged with a genuine traditional system. These are not second class citizens. They should not be judged by a second class court. And especially not by friends of the party who will have to do exactly what the minister asks them to do.

I may recall that three years is not a long time, so if you do not do the job, my boy, they will put someone else in your place who will do exactly what the minister wants him to do. That is how I interpret this part and that is how it is written.

To conclude on this issue, what the minister is proposing to us is a second-rate, parallel justice system. At the same time, he is sending real judges, who have completed law studies and know the system inside out, the message that they are doing a bad job. I am not convinced the minister is in a position to teach them lessons.

If the Minister of Justice thinks that judges and lawyers should be better informed, he should follow in Quebec's footsteps. When Quebec amended its civil code, it invited all the judges in the province to review the new parts of the civil code.

If the minister of fisheries thinks this is important, he should ask the Minister of Justice to establish a process to familiarize Canadian judges with the new fisheries act. I agree that the last one dates back 100 years.


6120

The many points we raised show how important this is. Fishermen are not second-class citizens. They have the right to go to court, to benefit from a transparent, equal and equitable justice system across Canada.

What bothers me somewhat is the perception by departmental officials that fishermen are poachers. Fishermen are not poachers; their goal is to catch fish at the lowest possible cost while protecting the environment to ensure that this resource can be sustained.

Again, regarding departmental officials' notion that fishermen are poachers, who drafted the regulations? Who said that any cod measuring less than 16 inches should be thrown back into the water?

Fishermen cannot see the ocean floor, while the fish do not know that fishermen are prohibited from catching fish measuring less than 16 inches. So what should fishermen who inadvertently catch fish measuring less than 16 inches in their nets do? If they bring it back, they will become poachers and be fined by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. So what do they do? They throw the fish back into the water. But if they throw it back into the water and Fisheries and Oceans finds out, they are still poachers in the department's eyes.

How can we establish a system that will treat fishermen not as poachers but as people trying to catch fish in a cost-effective way while protecting the environment so they can continue fishing year after year?

(1340)

This may be a different subject, but let me tell you that, as far as I can see, the tribunals certainly do not look like they will be fair and impartial, given that they will be the ones making the regulations, and I am not always sure that the people who work there use their heads to make them.

My point, and perhaps some people will have a hard time following, but what we must realize is that, as I said earlier, the main problem with fishery at present is the need for a constant relationship, the same tool box, so that all the fish caught by the fishermen, and hopefully only the most mature fish will be caught, all this fish can be sold. But we have just changed jurisdiction here. Because dead fish is a matter of provincial jurisdiction. Could we not focus on seeing how fisheries will be commercialized, by providing the fishing industry with the tools it needs to avoid making blunders like forcing fishermen to throw their catch back in the water?

We should work toward giving them the necessary tools. And if the federal government does not have the authority required, it should refer the matter to the provinces, because they are the ones licensing fish processing plants, guaranteeing boat loans and, in some cases, helping fund the construction of processing plants.

What is left for the federal government to be responsible for? Issuing fishing licences.

As for conservation, I think that it is clear to everyone that stocks overlap. We are prepared to share and to live with a central player in the form of Fisheries and Oceans.

But for the province of Quebec or for Newfoundland, working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conserve the resource or working with NAFO, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, boils down to the same thing. But what is better about NAFO's rules is that they are respected by Canada and by all other countries in the world, as well as in the provinces because Canada is a member country. It would not be a heck of a lot harder, and in fact would be that much easier, to get along in this respect.

I will therefore wrap up before I run out of time. I would like to remind viewers that the Bloc Quebecois will be voting against the bill. I am nonetheless pleased to take part in discussions about a bill that I described as the bill of the century, but I am saddened because it is badly put together.

In review, there are three major reasons the Bloc Quebecois will be voting against the bill at second reading. The first is that the minister determines who may enter into management agreements. This prevents fishermen from knowing all the players.

The second irritant, still in part I, concerns the delegation of authority. In my view, the delegation of authority set out in clause 9 is inadequate, as well as contradictory.

The third point concerns the Fisheries Tribunal. I would call it a front. It resolves nothing. The minister will sort things out quietly himself behind the scenes.

At the start of my speech, I also criticized what I would call the minister's lack of interest. And yet, at the same time, it is as though he wants to ram the bill through. The best he could manage was a 15 minute speech yesterday in the House to launch the fisheries bill of the century. In my view, this is a lack of respect for the fishery and for the Canadian people. I think it is simply lacking in respect to ram through in 15 minutes a bill that will not come up for review for perhaps another 100 years. I hope to be able to meet with him again to discuss this subject, because I am not certain that Quebecers and Canadians will share his sentiments, in light of the introduction he gave the bill.

(1345)

[English]

Mr. John Cummins (Delta, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I rise to address Bill C-62. The bill gives sweeping powers to the minister to manage the fisheries through ministerial orders, through private fishing agreements, and it transfers authority to the provinces. The


6121

major question is does the bill address the real problems that are facing the fishing industry.

First I would like to take a look at the west coast, where I come from, and advance some problems that are facing the industry there. I would like members to consider whether this bill will do anything to alleviate those difficulties.

For example, I would like to quote from a document which was prepared for congressional staff in the U.S. It mentions the Canadian salmon fleet restructuring. It states that on August 9, 1996 a report by the B.C. job protection commission was released, revealing that in the past two years the B.C. commercial salmon fleet's decline has cost the provincial economy $180 million, with 7,800 jobs lost. At the same time, the provincial sport fishing sector's decline has cost the economy $170 million, with the loss of 2,175 jobs.

By allowing the minister under the new act to give fish to his friends, will that alleviate the difficulties identified in that report?

A document entitled ``Status of Anadromous Salmon and Trout in British Columbia and the Yukon'', prepared by T.L. Slaney et al for the American Fisheries Society's North Pacific international chapter, attempted to give some idea to the public about the health of fish stocks in B.C. The assessment found that 624 salmon stocks were at high risk, 78 were at moderate risk, 230 were of special concern and 142 were extirpated in this century. One hundred and forty-two salmon species extinguished in this century alone. They were unable to classify 4,172 stocks, or 43 per cent, because of an absence of reliable data.

They go on to note that habitat degradation associated with logging, urbanization and hydro power development contributed to most of the 142 documented stock extinctions.

Furthermore, they say there is little doubt that overutilization by commercial and recreational fisheries has in many cases resulted in severe stock depressions that, when added to other factors, has put many stocks at risk.

The question again is will this act somehow alleviate this problem. I think not.

The preface to the bill notes that this is an act respecting fisheries. The preamble says that the powers, duties and functions of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans extend to seacoast and inland fisheries. The point I want to raise is just how certain is the minister's authority when it comes to this bill and as well to the oceans act?

I would like to go back to December 1995. At that time the oceans act was up for discussion. A House of Commons standing committee received a notice from the president of Nunavut Tunngavick Inc., the Inuit fishery organization in the territory of Nunavut.

(1350 )

It advised the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans that sections 35 and 107 of the new oceans act, which was Bill C-98 at that time, were ultra vires given the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. The NTI proposed the following amendments to the oceans act. It proposed in section 30(5) that the governor in council may make regulations (a) establishing marine protected areas with approval of bodies established under land claims agreement where required.

Section (b) would have said that the governor in council could make regulations prescribing measures not inconsistent with Canada's international obligations or the authority of bodies established under land claims agreements for the conservation and protection of fisheries resources and their habitat in marine protected areas.

Clearly the Inuit of Nunavut interpreted their treaty as limiting federal authority over legislation affecting arctic waters within the Nunavut settlement agreement. The response of the committee to this request was to acknowledge that regulations under the new oceans act were to be limited by the terms and conditions of land claims agreements.

The committee sent the following amendments to Parliament for consideration at report stage of what was then Bill C-98. The regulation then read in section 2(1):

For greater certainty nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
Section 36(1) reads:

The Governor in Council, on recommendation of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, may make orders exercising any power under section 35 on an emergency basis where the Minister is of the opinion that a marine resource or habitat is likely to be at risk to the extent that such orders are not inconsistent with the land claims agreement that has been given effect and has been ratified or improved by an Act of Parliament.
That is to say, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans conceded that land claims agreements may constrain the ability of the Government of Canada to protect a resource owned by all the people of Canada. The question again is will this new act somehow improve on that situation. Does it somehow allow that the minister has the ultimate authority? No, it does not.

This will have a devastating effect on management of the fisheries resource in British Columbia. We are looking at approximately 40 treaties which are to be put together in the next few years, each one of which will have the ability to overrule the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Obviously that makes the management of fisheries unworkable.

The fisheries act, Bill C-62, which the government has laid before this House, is a bill that will radically change the management of the fishery as we have known it for over 150 years. Bill


6122

C-62 gives the minister of fisheries unlimited discretion to carve up the public fishery into private fisheries.

There is no requirement for any publication of the private exclusive fishing agreements. There are no guidelines on whom these agreements are to be with. The minister is given unlimited discretion to make his own regulations, to organize the fishery by ministerial decrees or orders. These ministerial orders can even override regulations made by the governor in council. The government can transfer its constitutional responsibilities for fisheries management, enforcement and habitat protection to the provinces without ever coming back to seek the sanction of Parliament.

Before we examine the detail of the bill or the problems it should address, this House would do well to remember some sage advice from a former member of this Chamber, Stanley Knowles. He said: ``It is our experience in Parliament time and time again to think we know what we passed when we gave final approval to a piece of legislation only to find months later that things were being done or restrictions were being imposed of a kind we did not believe appeared in the bill at all. We try to find out what happened. We discover that we had given authority to the governor in council to make regulations for the carrying out of the purposes of the act and that under this authority restrictive regulations were passed or restrictive definitions were introduced of such a nature as to produce quite a different result from the result we thought had been intended''.

(1355 )

A recent report of this House issued another warning that bears repeating. When delegated authority is broad and use of that authority is not adequately supervised by Parliament, the implied parliamentary control is absent and the supremacy of Parliament is undermined.

I would like to refer to the bill and to some of those sections which give the minister that kind of blanket authority to do what he wishes. Clause 17(1) states:

Her Majesty in right of Canada, represented by the Minister, may enter into a fisheries management agreement with any organization that, in the opinion of the Minister, is representative of a class of persons or holders.
That is any group, whether they be friends of the minister of or of the government, whatever, but there is no limitation as to what that group should represent. There is no coming back to Parliament for authority to enter into policy decisions which, as I will point out later, will impact on the fisheries as it has been run since Confederation.

Clause 18(1) states:

Before a fisheries management agreement is entered into, notice of it shall be given to the holders or persons likely to be subject to it.
Again, no notice need be given to anyone other than those who are going to be covered by it. The public at large does not need to be informed.

Clause 19(1) states:

The Minister shall publish a fisheries management agreement in the manner the Minister sees fit.
In other words, no publication or notice need be given of that arrangement.

The adoption of a set of agreements between the crown and any organization gives sweeping power to the minister to create private fisheries out of the public fisheries of Canada. This would be the first time since Confederation since this power has existed. All fisheries law in tidal waters in British Columbia has so far proceeded on the principle that all Canadians are to have equal access to the commercial licences governing the fishery.

Apart from a brief period during the war when Canadians of Japanese ancestry were denied this right, it has prevailed without question.

A second exception is the recent incursion into the public fishery by the AFS, but that was not provided for in the act and is probably ultra vires of the act. It would not be ultra vires of Bill C-62.

The Speaker: My colleague, I am loath to interrupt your speech, but I wonder if perhaps you could take your speech up at the end of question period. Of course you will have the floor again. At this time I would like to proceed to Statements by Members.

_____________________________________________

Next Section