IN THE HOUSE ~ Speaking on Bill C-24, Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006
November 30th, 2006 - 12:04am
39TH PARLIAMENT, 1ST SESSION
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, I thought it was interesting that the Liberals said earlier that we should not support the agreement, when they did everything they could in committee to make sure the agreement went through. As usual, I very much appreciated the speech and the presentation by the member for Berthier-Maskinongé. I also appreciated his comments about our work together.
Nevertheless, we have to ask ourselves some questions, including the following question. In Quebec, 2,000 jobs have been lost since this agreement took effect on an interim basis. We are talking about 2,000 jobs. With all the policies in the agreement, Quebec is losing the ability to manage its own forest policies effectively. The question arises: why does the Bloc still support an agreement that is taking away Quebec's powers and has led to massive job losses in Quebec?
Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the presentation from the member for Burnaby-Douglas. Like so many of his colleagues, our colleagues, this corner of the House is the only corner of the House that is making sense on the softwood sellout.
What we have is a court judgment. On October 13 it said that the United States had to pay back every single dollar of the illegally taken tariffs. We have the Conservatives giving a birthday gift to George Bush of half a billion dollars and a birthday gift to the lawyers for the American softwood industry of another half a billion. A billion dollars in total was given away frivolously, shovelled off the back of a truck because the Conservatives just did not understand what was at stake.
I have a question for the member for Burnaby-Douglas. We had Conservatives and Liberals combining to force this bad deal through, including Conservatives and Liberals from British Columbia. B.C. has been the most impacted by this bad deal, this softwood sellout, and in fact, we have seen hundreds of lost jobs as a result in the last five weeks when it was put in place provisionally. Why does the member think Liberals and Conservatives in British Columbia were so willing to sell out the B.C. softwood industry and softwood community, and when did these Liberals and Conservatives stop representing B.C. and start representing their political leaders from Ottawa in British Columbia?
Mr. Speaker, it is quite a sight for Canadians who are watching to see the Liberals and Conservatives fighting out who has the worst deal. It was the Minister of International Trade, the soon to be ex-member for Vancouver Kingsway, who had the deal with the Liberals, took it across the floor to the Conservatives and received about 3¢ on the dollar better. All the other components were there. Both deals are sellouts and both deals will be rejected by Canadians. When Canadians in softwood communities across the country get the chance, they will vote against Liberal and Conservative candidates who sold out our country this fall by trying to push through this deal.
I always appreciate hearing the member for Scarborough Centre speak, but today he used a very interesting term. He talked about the election of January 23 as being an overthrow of the government. That is a very curious term. This is a sense of entitlement that goes quite beyond belief, that a democratic election is an overthrow of the government. It was not that. It was a chance for Canadians to judge the government of the day. We will see the same judgment on the Conservatives in the next election as we saw on the Liberals on January 23.
We were on the verge of winning on October 13. In fact, we did win. Why did the Liberals cancel the hearings in regions across the country? Why did the Liberals cancel hearings in Ottawa? Why did the Liberals force this bad bill through committee?
As always, Mr. Speaker, the speech of the member for Winnipeg Centre on the softwood sellout makes a great deal of sense. When he intervenes in this House, what he says makes a great deal of sense and I think resonates with the public at large.
Before I ask the member a question, I want to read into the record a letter sent to the Conservative member for Cariboo-Prince George. This is a letter written on behalf of approximately 10,000 workers in the softwood industry in the central and northern interior of British Columbia, most of them in the forest industry. It states: "These members and their families do not support the proposed softwood lumber agreement and on their behalf we are writing to urge you to oppose the proposed legislation that would enact this agreement between Canada and the U.S."
So here we have a Conservative member who has been written to by 10,000 softwood workers and the member has stood up in the House and has said quite frankly that he will still support the softwood sellout, as all Conservatives have. Not one Conservative has stood up to say that this is an egregious betrayal of softwood communities across the country.
The member for Winnipeg Centre has had a long experience in this House and has been very dedicated. My question for him is a simple one. Why would a member betray the interests of his own community? Why would 125 Conservatives, whether they are in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta or British Columbia, betray the interests of softwood workers from across western Canada? I am asking him as a fellow representative from western Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the presentation by the member for Winnipeg North, particularly with respect to provincial forestry practices. She outlined how some provincial governments have capitulated on this deal and it is something that Canadians should take notice of.
She mentioned British Columbia where a Liberal government obviously took the money it was getting out of the export tax and which leads to massive job losses in British Columbia as more important than actually standing up for softwood communities. We have seen the same thing occur with the Alberta Conservative government. It took the money rather than follow the wishes of the softwood lumber industry, which very clearly expressed the view this summer that this would lead to job losses in Alberta. In Ontario we have seen the same thing. There have been massive job losses in northern Ontario. The Ontario Liberal government supports the deal.
But two provincial governments stand out, and they are Saskatchewan and Manitoba. They have actually raised serious concerns about the softwood sellout. They have raised concerns about the fact that now the Bush administration in Washington has control over any changes to provincial forestry practices. It is the same in Quebec and British Columbia. What it means is provincial governments have to go cap in hand to Washington to get approval for forestry practice changes here in Canada.
My question for the member for Winnipeg North is very simple. Why are governments in Manitoba and Saskatchewan understanding the problems with this deal when the other provincial governments seem to just want to take the money and run