IN THE HOUSE ~ Debate ~ Department of Public Works and Government Services Act

40th Parliament, 3rd Session

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Madam Speaker, I have to say I like the parliamentary secretary, but his statement is absolute rubbish.

First off, we have to be very clear here. There is absolutely nothing in the bill that contravenes any international obligations of Canada. it is simply not true.

Second, and this is perhaps even more important, when we look at what has happened with the wood industry, the softwood lumber industry particularly, in this country over the last few years, it has been self-inflicted by the current government, particularly because of the softwood lumber sellout that has led to the death of 20,000 jobs across this country.

When we held hearings into the softwood lumber sellout at the international trade committee, it was very clear what the implications were. This was a sellout with implications that would lead to the death of thousands of jobs in this country and would kill dozens of mills. Yet the Conservatives, with the support of Liberals and, I have to say with great regret, the Bloc--the three other parties in this House ganged up together and the result has been the death of much of the industry.

In my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster, we were at the epicentre of this killing of our softwood lumber industry. We lost three mills after the signing of the softwood lumber sellout. We lost Interfor, Canfor and Western Forest Products, one after the other. Two thousand direct jobs were lost. Six thousand jobs were lost indirectly. All because the current government put its faith in David Emerson who knew full well that what this would do is kill the industry. But he figured that nobody on the Conservative government's side would actually do any due diligence around his work; what they would do is cut some ribbons, say that they have achieved a victory, give $1 billion to the United States and, somehow, everything would turn out all right.

Well, that is not how it has turned out. What we have seen is dozens of mills close, thousands of jobs lost, and the Canadian taxpayer and Canadian softwood communities continue to pick up the tab. We are debating, currently, Bill C-9, which would imposes a $60-million additional penalty on softwood communities across this country, brought in by the Conservatives. We now have in front of the arbitral panel a further hundreds of millions of dollars, potentially, in penalties, given Quebec and Ontario forestry practices--legitimate for the softwood lumber sellout, now considered the object fines--and we have looming in the distance B.C. stumpage being challenged with potential penalties of up to half a billion dollars. All because the Conservatives did not actually read the agreement before signing it. All because these Conservatives were recklessly irresponsible with our wood industry.

We have a chance to start to rectify what was broken by these Conservatives, with the support of the Liberals and, I dare say, the Bloc; that is, by taking a first step to actually start to repair what was broken by adopting Bill C-429. It is a small step forward. It is not going to get back the 20,000 jobs that were lost directly and the 60,000 jobs that were lost indirectly. It is quite true that the reckless abandon with which the current government destroyed the softwood lumber industry is going to take time and a lot of work to repair. But it is true that giving preference to concepts that promote wood, while balancing off costs, while balancing off greenhouse gas submissions, as is included this private member's bill, would allow for those first few steps. We produce quality products, the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan said very clearly, British Columbia produces about half of that wood across the country. I need to quote again what the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan quoted, that British Columbia's skilled workmanship and advanced technology help to provide high-performance structural materials and unique appearance grade wood components.

There is no doubt of the quality. There is no doubt of the efficiency of our workers in British Columbia and right across the country. What is in doubt is the current government's capacity to understand the magnitude of what it did in 2006 when it imposed the softwood lumber sellout.

Context : Debate
Liberals went along. The Bloc went along. That is true, but it is the Conservatives who brought the getaway car up, while they emptied out everything that was of value in the softwood industry and drove away, completely irresponsibly, killing thousands of family-sustaining jobs across this country in this House with that vote.

Parliamentarians, particularly of those three parties, have a responsible to adopt this private member's bill to start to address what they have broken. Every single Conservative MP in this House is responsible for the devastation in the softwood lumber industry. Every single Liberal MP in this House is responsible and every single Bloc MP is responsible.

At least the Bloc is stepping forward with some ways to repair that mistake that was made in 2006.