IN THE HOUSE ~ Debate ~ C-46 (Canada-Panama Free Trade Act)

40th Parliament, 3rd Session
Speaker : Mr. Julian

Context : Questions and Comments

M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Monsieur le Président, j'écoute toujours avec beaucoup d'intérêt les discours de mon collègue. Il a énuméré plusieurs aspects importants, incluant la criminalité. On a un gouvernement conservateur qui prétend toujours vouloir régler les choses avec les criminels, mais voilà qu'il signe une entente de libre-échange avec un gouvernement qui laisse effectivement le blanchiment d'argent se faire au Panama. Cela peut provoquer une augmentation du phénomène au Canada.

Je voulais poser la question suivante à mon collègue: comment les conservateurs peuvent-ils être tellement irresponsables et dire que le blanchiment d'argent est quelque chose de permis, d'agréable et que ce n'est pas grave, qu'on ne vit pas avec, qu'on va signer une entente et qu'on va dire au gouvernement que c'est correct, qu'il peut continuer de tolérer le blanchiment.

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I always listen closely to my colleague's speeches. He mentioned a number of important things, including crime. The Conservative government always claims that it wants to address the issue of crime, but now it is signing a free trade agreement with Panama, a country that allows money laundering, which would increase the prevalence of this phenomenon in Canada.

How can the Conservatives be so irresponsible as to say that money laundering is allowed, that it is fine and that it is not serious, because we do not have to live with it? The government wants to sign an agreement and tell the Panamanian government that it can continue to tolerate money laundering.

Context : Debate
These are important figures. I am glad they are taking note.

Look at Chile. We moved from $467 million in exports, and that was before we had the implementation of the magic free trade agreement. What was it 10 years later? Well, the exports to that market have gone from $467 million to $433 million. That is after the FTA, after the song and dance, after all of the pretensions about how this was going to stimulate our export industries, even though Liberals and Conservatives do nothing to stimulate our export industries beyond the photo ops and signatures on bad trade deals. In Chile, 10 years later, our exports had gone down as well.

Let us move on. I could continue on. I will not cite the EFTA figures, because of course we had this debate. It was the famous shipbuilding sellout. Since we have signed that deal, our exports have gone in the toilet. There has been a huge decrease to the EFTA market, and yet we had Conservatives and Liberals standing in this House and saying this is going to be a magical day for Canada. Our exports went down the toilet.

At the same time, we opened up our shipbuilding industry to assure that we would lose many jobs in our shipbuilding industry. Well, here again is an example of the dysfunction and incompetence of the Conservative government when it comes to trade policy. It is dysfunctional.

They are not reflecting Canadian values. They are selling out human rights, our softwood industry, our shipbuilding industry. Then we look at a decrease in exports to these markets as we sign the bilateral agreements.

The final one I will just mention for bilateral agreements is Costa Rica. I think that is an important one to mention as well. We have talked about the other ones; let us talk about Costa Rica as well. I think that is an important one to flag.

There again we saw a decrease. We had $77 million in exports before the implementation of the deal. Seven years later, in 2009, we went from $77 million in exports to that market to $73 million.

I rest my case. The Conservatives have made pretensions. It does not matter about endorsing money laundering. Forget about that, Canadians. Do not worry about drug pusher tax havens, and these fiscal paradises for the wealthy where they do not have to pay taxes the way ordinary Canadians do. Do not worry about that because we really know we are doing.

Very clearly, they do not. In case after case after case our exports to those markets, after we sign these FTAs, go down, not up. They fluctuate up and down, it is true. However, in case after case after case, we look years after the signature, and in constant dollars our exports to those markets have gone down.

The Conservatives might say that sure, the exports went down, and sure, we are selling out human rights and the softwood industry. In this case they are giving the rubber stamp of approval to drug pusher money laundering.

However, what about Canadians' incomes? They have gone up, right? Well, unfortunately, even that is not true.

Statistics Canada has essentially told us what has happened to the middle class and poor Canadians since 1989, since these series of free trade pacts came in, which as I have mentioned earlier, in almost all cases have led to a decline in exports to those markets.

We have the most recent figures. What has happened to the poorest Canadians? The poorest Canadians, in terms of market income, their income has neither gone up nor down. Fortunately, that is because of the advocacy of the NDP to ensure that some social programs have continued to be maintained.

What about the middle class? That means hard-working families that do their work for the country and their families, pay their taxes. Well, the second income category has actually seen a 5% reduction in real income over the last 20 years. What is 5%? That is like going without a paycheque for a couple of weeks a year. That has happened on the watch of the Liberals and Conservatives over the last 20 years.

We were told that these so-called free trade agreements would not be costly to the Canadian middle class and poorer Canadians. It would not be costly for manufacturing jobs. It would not cost us a bit. Well, it has been extremely costly. It has hit middle class Canadians hard. Even the upper middle class has seen a net reduction in real income.

Context : Debate
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am saddened to rise in the House on Bill C-46, which could be more aptly called the drug pushers, money laundering act. It is absolutely shameful what the government has brought forward.

Panama is ranked as one of the top drug pushing, money laundering tax havens in the entire planet. The Panamanian government has done nothing to resolve that. There is absolutely nothing in Bill C-46 to deal with the drug pushing and money laundering that the Conservatives are promoting, and it would do absolutely nothing to address the tax haven status.

People watching CBC or Radio-Canada last night would have seen the impact of tax havens and money laundering and how that impacts on our social programs in Canada. It impacts on how we as Canadians can deal with some of the fundamental issues.

This widespread money laundering, the use of tax havens so that drug pushers and folks who are earning money illegally can get around existing tax laws, are not small issues.

Hardworking middle class Canadians, poor Canadians, work very hard and they pay their taxes. They do what they must do as Canadians to support our society. Yet the Conservative government is going to shamefully sign an agreement with a drug pushing, money laundering, tax haven paradise and not address even one word of it in this agreement. It is absolutely shameful. It is appalling. It is a symbol of what is dysfunctional about the Conservative government on trade policy. The NDP is the only national party to stand up in the House against this completely dysfunctional trade policy of the Conservatives.

We have seen the kind of bills they bring in. They brought in the softwood lumber sellout. Two thousand jobs were lost in my riding. Tens of thousands of jobs right across this country were lost as the Conservatives deliberately shut down the softwood lumber industry. It was appalling. It was incompetent. People from the industry, except the CEOs who wanted to take their operations across to the United States, told the government very clearly that it would be disastrous. The NDP was the only national party to rise in the House and say that it would be disastrous. The Conservatives rammed it through with the support of their Liberal cohorts, and we saw the results.

We saw the results with the shipbuilding sellout. Shipbuilding workers from British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Quebec all said that this would have a negative impact on the shipbuilding industry. As a result, hundreds of jobs have been lost in the shipbuilding industry.

In the springtime, after what was an appallingly ridiculous debate, the Conservatives and the Liberals pushed through the Colombia free trade deal, essentially putting an X on Canada's reputation for standing up for human rights.

This present deal would provide a stamp of approval on the drug pushing, money laundering, tax haven paradise. This deal says that it would be okay to do this kind of activity, that it would be okay to have whomever, Hell's Angels, drug pushers, getting around Canadian income tax laws by having their money in Panama. Panama has strict rules about making sure that Canadian authorities cannot find out a wit about the illegal money laundering taking place. The Conservatives say that is okay.

Each member of the Conservative Party, each member of Parliament who has made a great speech about cracking down on crime, is now going to stand up and give their stamp of approval to a government that has not cracked down on fighting money laundering and drug pushing, one of the worst in the world.

Mr. Ed Fast: You should be embarrassed.

Mr. Peter Julian: I hear the Conservatives reacting, Mr. Speaker, as they normally do. None of them have read the agreement. There is not a single word in the entire text that deals with money laundering or the tax haven status. It is appalling. This is a symbol of a completely dysfunctional trade policy pushed by the Conservatives and supported, as we have seen every single time, by the Liberal Party of Canada.

Context : Debate
The Conservatives will that by doing this they are somehow actually contributing to the growth of our export industries.

The NDP has pushed for Fair Trade rules. We are the only national party speaking out against the hemorrhaging in our manufacturing sector, the loss of half a million good-paying manufacturing jobs. We are the only national party speaking out against the chronic under-financing of our major exporting industries.

I am pleased to say that this week finally some of the export associations have heeded our call. They are actually going to go to the government, with the support of the NDP, to get substantial increases in product promotion support.

Why? Because Canada, quite frankly, just plays lip service to exports. We have a trade minister who loves to cut ribbons and sigh these fancy agreements that do not deal with any of the fundamental issues.

Let us compare what Canada invests to support our export industries abroad with what other countries spend. We spend $12 million to $13 million in product promotion. Australia spends half a billion dollars. The European community spends $125 million just for their wine export sector alone. That is 10 times what we spend for all industries right across the board. For the United States market, our most important trading partner, it spends $3 million or $4 million, which is the equivalent for promotion support for marketing of a medium-sized enterprise in the lower mainland of British Colombia. We do that as a nation for the entire U.S. market.

The Conservatives, on the one hand, love these camera opportunities and these signatures but have done absolutely nothing to stimulate export growth.

What has been the result? If the Conservatives pretend, as they do, and say that they encourage money laundering and drug pushing and the tax haven status, but really this is about exports, then they are going to have to explain that in this House. They have been mute so far in this debate. They have not spoken to these issues at all. In fact it appears that they do not want to stand up and defend this deal, which I think should indicate to the public, those who are looking for work but have taken a brief break and are tuning in to CPAC today, that if the Conservatives are not willing to speak to the issue it is because they know that they do not have a leg to stand on, that they simply do not have the backer, any foundation around this, again, dysfunctional deal.

If we look at the export figures, what do we see? If we move it from the realm of inflation-devalued dollars and move it from current dollars to constant dollars, which actually reflects a constant value over time, what we see is that after we sign these bilateral trade deals our exports actually go down. Let me cite a few examples.

With Israel, we had exports before we implemented a free trade agreement of $270 million a year. In 2003, seven years later, we had gone down from $270 million in exports to $239 million in exports. What is wrong with this picture?

It was the Liberal government at the time that starved our export industries. But at the same time they had the big song and dance about how this was going to be terrific for our export industries. What happened? There was a decrease from $270 million to $239 million.

Let us look at another example.

I can see the Conservatives that are waking up now. They are saying, “Gee, nobody told us that. Gee, we should have done our homework., Gee, we should have actually looked at the export figures Maybe we'd know what we were talking about if we actually compared the figures.”.

I am the glad the Conservatives are waking because these are important issues. We are talking about lost jobs. We are talking about half a million manufacturing jobs lost. We are talking, and I will mention a little later on, about an actual net decrease in income for most Canadian families. That is what the last 20 years has brought--the Conservatives have not understood that; the Liberals certainly did not--by putting this so-called free trade regime in place, a free trade regime that has been very costly to the average Canadian family.

Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, the member for Abbotsford cannot get me started on the billion dollars the government wasted on the G20 with the fake lake and thousands of dollars spent on bug spray. It was absolutely irresponsible, but it is interesting to note that the Conservatives are trying again to say, “We are going to spin these figures and we are not going to put them in constant terms”.

He is right that over time, we could have a growth in trade if the dollars are worth less, and that is the little trick that the Conservatives have used yet again from their talking points. They say, “We are going to pretend that a dollar now is worth the same thing as a dollar 15 years ago”, and none of them, not a single one of them, actually tracked it. I know this because we had to commission a study. We asked the Ministry of International Trade and they said, “No, we do not do that”, so we had to commission a study. That is why we now have apples compared to apples, constant dollars, and we see a net decrease in exports.

Again the Conservatives have not done their homework. Canadians are owed more than just that ridiculous spin from the Conservative PMO.

Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Mississauga South for his question. I wish he was the trade critic for the Liberal Party because when he rises on trade issues, he makes a great deal of sense.

These are exactly the kinds of questions that should be asked in the House. He is absolutely right. Here we have one of the most notorious, drug-pushing, money-laundering tax havens on the planet, and the government says, “That is okay. We are going to give a stamp of approval to the actions of that government. We are not going to address any of the money laundering, not a single word on the tax haven status, not a single word on money laundering”.

As the member for Mississauga South has mentioned, Canadians' values are profound. Hard-working Canadians pay their taxes. They are honest, hard-working people, and it is not reflected by this dishonest action by the government. To try to pretend that it is in some way dealing with the drug-pushing, money-laundering, tax haven status of Panama, when any member reading through this will see that there is not a single word addressing that issue, is simply hypocritical. There is no other way to put it, and I think Conservative voters will punish Conservative MPs for this kind of hypocritical action.

Context : Debate
If we think about that, it is very sobering, is it not? We have heard all of the pretensions, spin and flim-flam from Liberals and Conservatives about them having some idea of how to make sure we stimulate export growth and family incomes and then we look at the hard facts, none of which have been studied by Liberals or Conservatives because they do not even track this stuff. They do not track going in what the economic impacts are going to be on these trade deals and they do not track going out what has actually happened. There is no tracking at all. It is simply a photo op.

We have a trade agreement that is negotiated badly, written badly and does not deal with any of the real issues. Then there is a photo op and the minister goes on his next little trip. There is no evaluation, no homework done and no sense of what the real impacts have been on ordinary Canadians.

There is one group of people that has really benefited over the last 20 years. Those people's income growth has skyrocketed by 25%. Corporate CEOs and lawyers now take 52% of all income in the country. Not only has income has gone down for the middle class and stagnated for the very poor but the very rich are taking a huge and ever larger piece of pie in the Canadian economic system. There is 52% now going to the very wealthy. Yes, they will support these trade agreements. They move their money offshore. They invest in low-wage factories. They can afford to. However, government should be looking to stimulate the Canadian economy.

Government should be looking to make sure middle class Canadians are taken care of. Through hard work poor Canadians can raise their living standards, over time there will be progress economically and we can achieve local economies where small businesses thrive and an economy overall where nobody is left behind. Exactly the contrary has occurred over the last 20 years because Conservatives and Liberals in the House are simply not doing their homework.

What have we in the NDP been proposing? We have been making proposals like many of our allies in places like the U.S. Congress where a fair trade act is currently before it. It was interesting to note the comments of the Minister of International Trade in Europe when he said very clearly free trade are bad words there. He is right because Europe is trying to move to a more progressive trade model.

This is perhaps a discussion for another day, but we have a completely dysfunctional approach to negotiations with the European Union. We went to them and said that this time we are going to sacrifice supply management. Supply management is on the table. We sold out the softwood lumber industry in northern Canada, northern Ontario and B.C. We sold out our shipbuilding industry on both coasts. What can we sell out this time? Let us sell out the prairie farmers in the west, let us sell out farmers in Ontario and Quebec, let us sell out rural Canadians this time. Again we have a dysfunctional trade approach with the European Union where we are saying this time it is farmers who have to pay.

We in the NDP are saying a fair trade model has to be put into place. We are saying that what we need to do is economically boost all Canadians and make sure nobody is left behind.

This Panama trade deal, this drug-pusher, money-laundering, tax haven, fiscal paradise act does not do it. The government did not do its homework. It shows a complete lack of due regard for the valuable opinions of the Canadian public. Yet again we have a dysfunctional government that is try to foist a bad policy on Canadians without forethought or having done its homework. That is why in this corner of the House we will be voting yes for the hoist motion and no to this bill.

Context : Questions and Comments
M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Monsieur le Président, je remercie le député de Berthier—Maskinongé pour sa question. J'ai bien dit que nous étions le seul parti national à défendre cette question. Par contre, le Bloc québécois a souvent été un allié à cet égard, ce qui était important concernant l'entente sur le bois d'oeuvre. Cependant, en ce qui a trait à l'entente qui a affecté le secteur de la construction navale, c'est une autre question. Donc, aujourd'hui, c'est important qu'on travaille ensemble sur ces dossiers.

Hier, notre critique en matière de travail a très bien parlé d'un autre aspect de l'entente. Personnellement, j'avais eu droit à seulement 20 minutes. Elle a parlé justement du fait que, présentement, il y avait une répression syndicale au Panama où des syndicalistes ont été tués. Pour les conservateurs, cela semble être une bonne raison de signer une autre entente, comme dans le cas de la Colombie. Si des gens sont tués, cela ne semble pas décevoir les conservateurs. Au contraire, cela semble les motiver davantage. Je déplore ce genre d'approche. Effectivement, il faut regarder davantage le côté multilatéral. Je pense que c'est là où tout le monde peut s'entendre. Il faudrait donc que nous ayons des négociations multilatérales basées sur le commerce équitable et non pas sur une base de libre-échange, parce que cela a coûté très cher au Canadiennes et aux Canadiens.

Il serait intéressant de voir que même le ministre du Commerce international refuse le terme des ententes de libre-échange quand il va en Europe parce que ce terme a été tellement dévalué durant l'époque de Bush aux États-Unis, que maintenant on n'utilise même plus le terme. Alors, le commerce équitable devrait être visé davantage. Le NPD est prêt à travailler avec tous les autres partis en cette Chambre afin de mettre en place une politique fonctionnelle de commerce international basée sur le commerce équitable.