IN THE HOUSE ~ Question Period ~ on trade and Canada's participation in APEC Summit

40th Parliament, 1st Session

M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Monsieur le Président, quatre des cinq grands partenaires économiques du Canada sont membres de la Coopération économique Asie-Pacifique et l'APEC compte pour plus de la moitié de l'économie mondiale. Toutefois, le premier ministre est sur le point de partir pour le sommet de l'APEC sans objectif clair.

Est-ce que le ministre est d'accord pour affirmer que le commerce international doit mener au respect des droits humains, au respect de l'environnement et à améliorer les conditions des travailleurs et des travailleuses?

Mr. Gerald Keddy (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, CPC): Mr. Speaker, certainly Canada is committed to re-engagement with the Americas. Part of that is free trade. The hon. member is well aware that our free trade agreements are complemented with provisions on labour and environmental co-operation.

Let us be perfectly clear that our free trade agreements promote and reinforce the protection of human rights.

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, balderdash. With the softwood sellout and other examples, if the government ran a business the way it ran international trade, it would be sued by the shareholders.

Ordinary Canadians do not believe the government is acting in Canada's best interest. The new U.S. administration is willing to change NAFTA and yet the government forges ahead with secret APEC free trade talks and signs pacts with countries like Colombia that abuse human rights.

Why does the government not renegotiate the biggest of the trade deals so workers, the environment and all Canadians, not just the rich, can benefit?

Mr. Gerald Keddy (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, CPC): Mr. Speaker, again, expanding our trade opportunities in the Americas is a priority of the government. Free trade is good for Canada, it is good for our free trade partners, and it is good for the economies and the citizens of all the countries involved in the free trade agreements.