Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador for his speech, but I just wanted to let him know that the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs just did a unanimous report with recommendations for the government in order to improve the new veterans charter. The Conservatives said we have to study it more, which means more delays. Now they bring forward an omnibus bill that includes everything but the kitchen sink.
I would ask the hon. member if he has read through the entire thing, or realized the word “veteran” is not anywhere in that bill whatsoever. How can the government cram everything into that legislation and completely ignore our veteran community in Canada?
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-41.
Our government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians. Canada's prosperity requires expansion beyond our borders into new markets for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's exports and investments.
That is why our government is currently pursuing the most ambitious trade expansion plan in our country's history. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is a state-of-the-art agreement which covers virtually all sectors and aspects of Canada-South Korea commercial relations, including trading goods and services, investment, government procurement and intellectual property, as well as labour and environment.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would result in job creation and enhanced opportunities for Canadian and Korean businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as investors, workers and consumers.
Today, I would like to speak about how the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would help the Atlantic provinces to expand their businesses and increase their competitiveness in the South Korean market, which presents many opportunities for my fellow Atlantic Canadians.
From 2011 to 2013, Atlantic Canada exported, on average, $64 million worth of goods to South Korea. Through the elimination of tariffs in major sectors of interest to Atlantic Canada, including fish and seafood products, agriculture and agri-food products, rail products, information and communication technologies, industrial machinery and medical devices, Atlantic Canadian goods would become more competitive in South Korea.
The agreement's outcomes in non-goods trade would also help service providers by facilitating business mobility and investors through increased protection and clearer rules. New Brunswick is one of the Atlantic provinces that stands to benefit significantly from the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.
The agreement would bring numerous benefits to New Brunswick, including the province's industrial goods sector. Our industrial goods sector is an important driver of the economy for New Brunswick and it employs about 6,700 hard-working New Brunswickers each year.
From 2011 to 2013, New Brunswick exports of industrial goods to South Korea were worth an average of $7.8 million. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would eliminate tariffs on all of New Brunswick's exports of industrial goods to South Korea, including tariffs on information technology products which currently face tariffs of up to 13%. It would also eliminate tariff rates on industrial machinery and power-generating machinery, with the current tariff rate of up to 8%.
Tariff elimination would level the playing field for New Brunswickers relative to key competitors from the Untied States and the European Union, and bring substantial export gains to the province.
Nova Scotia is another Atlantic province that would gain considerably from the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. I would like to touch upon the agreement's benefits for the fish and seafood products sector, which provides jobs to more than 9,200 Nova Scotians.
Between 2011 and 2013, Nova Scotia's fish and seafood exports to South Korea were worth an annual average of $23 million. Nova Scotia would benefit from tariff elimination on products such as live and frozen eel from a current rate of up to 27%. Tariffs would also be eliminated on live and frozen lobster, frozen crab and scallops, which have a current rate of up to 20%.
On a point of interest, shipments of lobster from Halifax Stanfield International Airport to Seoul have already begun, with loads this past summer of nearly 40,000 kilograms.
Throughout the negotiations on the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, our government has actively engaged stakeholders to ensure that the agreement best reflects their needs. Stakeholders have provided strong support for the agreement, including the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association, which is congratulating our government on the agreement with the following statement, “The free trade agreements to eliminate tariffs will seriously open up the markets. I very much applaud the efforts of government to reduce trade barrier”.
I am very excited for the many benefits that the Canada-Korea free trade agreement will bring to the Nova Scotians. That is a pretty strong statement in and of itself.
Prince Edward Island also has a lot to gain from the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, including P.E.I.'s agriculture and agri-food products sector. In 2012, this sector employed about 5,600 people in the province. From 2011 to 2013, P.E.I.'s agricultural exports to South Korea were worth an annual average of $2.6 million. Frozen french fries and pork products were the top export items.
P.E.I. would benefit from the agreement's elimination of tariffs on frozen potato products, which includes frozen french fries, from a current rate of 18%. The agreement would also eliminate tariffs on all pork and pork products of export interest, which range anywhere from 3% to 30%.
I would like to share a quote from the vice-president of Cavendish Farms, a producer of frozen potato products. He said:
...a free trade agreement between Canada and South Korea presents a golden opportunity for us to grow our presence in the South Korean market, and in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. Free trade helps to support our industry, the workers we employ and the sale of the high-quality products that we’ve been producing for more than 30 years.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would bring numerous benefits that would help to boost the economy in Newfoundland and Labrador. The province's services sector, for example, would benefit significantly from the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. This is an important sector for Newfoundland and Labrador, employing some 180,400 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in 2012 alone and accounting for more than half of the Newfoundland and Labrador economy. The province's key export interests in the services sector include retail and wholesale trade, environment, travel and tourism, construction, and real estate services.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would provide services suppliers from Newfoundland and Labrador with greater and more predictable access to the diverse South Korean market. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement contains temporary entry commitments that are the most ambitious South Korea has agreed to in any of its free trade agreements and would go a long way to boosting services exports for the province.
We are standing with Canadians on the Canada-Korea free trade agreement by ensuring that investor protection provisions remain as the cornerstones, as has been the case in all modern trade and investment agreements. We take tremendous pride in our record on free trade agreements, which has put Canada back in the game of trade negotiations. Canadian workers and businesses were at risk of falling behind in this era of global markets, but thanks to the aggressive agenda of our government, we are giving our citizens a competitive advantage.
By continuing to actively pursue broader markets and access to new investment opportunities, our government is providing Canadian businesses and exporters with access on preferred terms to the largest, most dynamic, and fastest-growing economies and regions around the world. No government in Canadian history has been more committed to the creation of jobs and prosperity for Canadian businesses, workers, and their families. Deepening Canada's trading relationships in dynamic and high-growth markets around the world is key to these efforts.
Without a doubt, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement promises many benefits for Atlantic Canada. It would level the playing field for Atlantic Canadian businesses relative to their competitors in the U.S. and the EU. It represents a concrete next step in bolstering Atlantic Canada's presence in the fastest-growing and dynamic Asia-Pacific region.
Today I am asking that all members of the House ensure the speedy ratification of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, so that hard-working Canadians can start reaping the benefits of this agreement and solidify their presence in the Asia-Pacific region as soon as possible.
Mr. Speaker, it is a very strange and bizarre contradiction that we see from the government.
I was in the House, as was the member, when a number of bills came forward in an effort to ensure our cruelty laws were updated. I take special note of Bill C-232, a bill the member had a great deal to do with. I do not understand why the Conservative government did not support any of those efforts. It would seem that it may have been influenced by outside interests that perhaps put pressure on them to overlook the reality of the kind of cruelty that my colleague described in regard to the Labrador puppy.
In this particular case, there does seem to be an overreaction. I think it has a great deal to do with public perception, the way the public and the media reacted to the very unfortunate case of this particular dog. It was unfortunate. All cruelty to all creatures is absolutely unacceptable. However, we have to come back to what we know and what we understand, and respect for our courts and respect for the kinds of things that work in terms of sentencing. This is not it.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the Marystown Volunteer Fire Department in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.
The department was recognized by Muscular Dystrophy Canada as its 2013-2014 Fire Department of the Year for the Atlantic region. This recognition was welcomed by a department that takes its commitment to help fight MD very seriously.
Approximately 145 fire departments in Atlantic Canada raise funds for muscular dystrophy. This past year, the Marystown Volunteer Fire Department held four fundraising events in support of MD patients, and since 1983 it has collected nearly $70,000 for this worthwhile cause.
Muscular Dystrophy Canada has 10,000 clients, 200 of whom are in Newfoundland and Labrador. However, the organization estimates there are approximately 50,000 people in Canada who suffer with MD.
I ask all members to join with me in thanking the Marystown Volunteer Fire Department for its work on behalf of Muscular Dystrophy Canada and in thanking all volunteer firefighters who raise money for this and other very worthwhile causes.
Mr. Speaker, I will enthusiastically encourage all fellow members of the House to join me in supporting Bill S-5, the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve act. As my colleague from Yukon has reminded the House, this legislation would protect unparalleled wilderness lands in the Northwest Territories, about 5,000 square km, which is an area only a little smaller than the entire province of Prince Edward Island.
In August 2012, I had the honour of travelling with thePrime Minister to Norman Wells in the Northwest Territories to announce the establishment of Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve. The name of the proposed national park reserve comes from North Slavey, an aboriginal language. The word means “pointed like a porcupine quill” and refers to the shape of Mount Wilson, which is a peak that looms over a series of moose ponds in the proposed reserve, which are the headwaters for the world-famous South Nahanni River. Aboriginal people consider this mountain sacred. They have lived off the surrounding lands for millennia.
The establishment of Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve completes the ongoing work to significantly expand the Nahanni National Park Reserve and to conserve a significant portion of the South Nahanni River watershed. In short, Canada has expanded the boundary of Nahanni to the point that it is the third-largest national park complex in the country. This expansion, the largest in Canada's history, would build on our country's strong tradition of national parks and our international leadership in conservation.
The boundaries of the proposed park reserve are the product of a broad process of collaboration and consultation. Hundreds of individuals, over a number of years, shared their views on the proposed boundaries. Representatives of aboriginal groups, territorial governments, regional community corporations, mining companies, and other federal departments were also brought into the consultations.
Ultimately, the proposed boundaries would achieve key conservation gains, such as protecting the upper reaches of the South Nahanni River and habitat for woodland caribou and grizzly bear. They would provide for conservation values and visitor experience without blocking access to significant areas with high mineral potential. The proposed boundaries would also ensure that the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve would protect nearly 4,900 square kilometres of the Sahtu Dene and Métis settlement area of the Northwest Territories.
The legislation before us would also support Canada's national conservation plan, announced recently by the Prime Minister. The plan proposes to contribute to Canada's long-term prosperity by taking concrete action in three priority areas: conserving our lands and waters, restoring ecosystems, and connecting Canadians to nature. The establishment of Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve would support each one of these three priorities. It would conserve a beautiful landscape located in the southwest corner of the Northwest Territories and, as my friend reminded us, along the Yukon border.
Given its remote location, this land fortunately remains largely unspoiled. The protections afforded through the legislation now before us would ensure that these lands and waters would continue to be enjoyed for many generations to come. The massive expansion of protected areas in this part of Canada would also help preserve a unique ecosystem. With the addition of Nááts’ihch’oh, more than 85% of the South Nahanni watershed would be protected. Today, this region features habitat for mountain woodland caribou, grizzly bear, Dall sheep, mountain goats, and trumpeter swans. During the all-too-short summers, the fields burst into life as wildflowers bloom and insects buzz over a thick carpet of moss, grass, and shrubs.
Creating the new park reserve would mean that more than 10% of Canada's north would be managed as protected areas for the benefit of Canadians, for the benefit of aboriginals, and for the benefit of local communities. In total, the north would have 11 national parks, 6 national wildlife areas, and 16 migratory bird sanctuaries. The total area would include nearly 400,000 square kilometres, an area about the size of Newfoundland and Labrador, which I think is quite a legacy for future generations.
Given its timeless beauty and abundance of flora and fauna, it is no wonder that aboriginal people have long felt a deep connection with this part of their north. A particularly spiritual place to the Sahtu Dene and the Métis people is the mountain that towers above the Moose Ponds on the upper South Nahanni River.
Creating the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve would mean these lands would also attract visitors from outside the north. People would come from across Canada, we hope, to see the spectacular landscapes of the upper reaches of the world-famous South Nahanni River. Visitors would also be able to hike, canoe, raft, and climb in the new Nááts’ihch’oh and the recently expanded Nahanni national park reserves.
The establishment of Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve would demonstrate to Canadians that this government understands the importance of protecting wilderness, while continuing to make it accessible for people domestically and from around the world.
The bill would also provide the Minister of the Environment with the powers to permit two pre-existing mineral access roads through a small part of the national park reserve and to enforce the necessary measures to ensure that the environment is protected where required. These road provisions are exactly what Parliament approved in 2009 when it passed legislation to expand Nahanni National Park Reserve sixfold. There is a mineral access route contemplated in the northwestern part of Nahanni that travels north into the new Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve, and Bill S-5 would simply extend the minister's powers to permit that part of the road within Nááts’ihch’oh.
The Government of the Northwest Territories has indicated that there are processes now in place, should any development be proposed for lands adjacent to the new national park reserve, so that there will be environmental assessment, including public hearings, under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.
The Government of the Northwest Territories has stated many times and very clearly that it has a very rigorous system of oversight and practice with regard to the protection of the environment. Even with the proposed park boundary, any adjacent development would be subject to a very thorough review in the context of maintaining and protecting the park.
The bill is, I believe, a concrete example of the action we are taking within the northern strategy, which proposes a responsible approach to development, one that balances environmental protection with social and economic development, one that empowers northerners and exercises Canada's sovereignty in the north. People would have an active role in managing this new national park reserve, which would help build capacity and, at the same time, strengthen northern governance.
I would hope, in closing, that hon. members would join me in supporting Bill S-5, Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve act.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of this important motion from my Liberal colleague the hon. member for Vancouver Centre.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been described by the United Nations as a crisis unparalleled in modern times. Never before have we seen an outbreak of Ebola this large, severe, or complex. According to the World Health Organization, as of October 12, 2014, a total of 8,973 cases and 4,484 deaths have been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, with an additional death recorded in both Spain and the United States. Clearly it is an unprecedented global health crisis requiring an unprecedented international response. However, in the words of Doctors Without Borders international president Dr. Joanne Liu, the international response has been “lethally, inadequate”. The disease has taken its toll on health care workers in West Africa, with 427 infected and so far 236 dead.
After seeing the price being paid by brave health care workers in the region, I was deeply concerned to read reports that even after the Ebola outbreak began, the Canadian federal government chose to sell off rather than donate roughly $1.5 million worth of stockpiled medical equipment at bargain basement prices, even though this very equipment is urgently needed.
GlobalMedic's director of emergency programs estimates that 130 of the 150 pallets of personal protective equipment his organization has shipped to Sierra Leone and Liberia came from the Public Health Agency of Canada's stockpile that was sold off at an auction. This is simply unacceptable. How was it allowed to happen? Surely health care workers fighting the Ebola crisis in West Africa need masks more than the Canadian government needed the $50 it reportedly received for 500,000 masks sold at an auction.
However, as we have seen through the tragic infection of health care workers in Dallas and Madrid, even the well-equipped, sophisticated medical systems of the west are not immune.
My Liberal colleagues and I are concerned about the recent cases of Ebola that have emerged in North America and the government's minimal communication to the public and to Parliament on the level of Canada's preparedness. At any outbreak, clear and open communication is key to both the coordination of prevention efforts and reducing fear and confusion. That is why I am calling on members of the House to support the motion from my Liberal colleague the hon. member for Vancouver Centre. Regular and frequent updates are essential measures to keep Canadians safe and informed about the Ebola virus disease.
Having key members of the federal government appear before the health committee on a twice-monthly basis to inform Parliament and Canadians on the specific measures they are taking to ensure the Ebola virus does not pose a threat to the health and safety of Canadians is an important part of the motion. Hearing from experts such as the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and from the ministers responsible for Canada's response would help to ensure Parliament is kept informed and Canadians receive timely updates on the government's actions.
Having the ministers and the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada appear before the health committee would also allow members to question the government on, for example, what precautions are being taken for the Canada Border Services Agency at land and marine crossings, in addition to airports. These are areas the government has not been clear about. Being open and transparent is essential to keeping the public informed and reducing confusion about the dangers these diseases pose to our country.
Recent false alarms throughout Canada, however, have shown the strength of the Canadian medical system and the professionalism of our public health professionals when they have the information and the resources they need.
Earlier this month, for instance, Eastern Health in Newfoundland and Labrador undertook a series of simulated emergency preparedness exercises in three hospitals in St. John's. According to Dr. David Allison, Eastern Health's Medical Officer of Health:
The purpose of this exercise is to further challenge and validate our procedures to ensure that possible cases of Ebola, or other infectious diseases, are correctly contained, diagnosed appropriately and treated quickly
This past weekend, the Public Health Agency of Canada conducted a practice drill, deploying one of its Ebola rapid response teams to Nova Scotia. This is an important exercise, and we believe that the agency must continue to work with provincial and territorial governments to ensure that regional hospitals are set up with the highest level of isolation protocols and treatment units if a case should reach Canada.
I know that I and all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador are comforted that we have such capable and dedicated public health professionals guarding against Ebola in our province. We should not, however, be complacent. The current government has shown little regard for public health in the past. It was only this September that the government finally appointed Dr. Gregory Taylor as chief medical officer, 16 months after his predecessor stepped down. To leave that critical job vacant for 16 months, even as the health crisis gripped West Africa and potential Ebola patients were being isolated in Canadian hospitals, is deeply troubling.
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions has also raised concerns about the lack of training and protective equipment in some areas. Every front-line health care worker throughout the country should be provided with training, and personal protective equipment should be made available. The recent exercise by the Public Health Agency of Canada in Nova Scotia is an excellent start, but these emergency preparedness drills should be held throughout the country to ensure coordinated responses in all provinces and territories.
Furthermore, the Public Health Agency of Canada must coordinate regular meetings of professional groups like the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association, and the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada to ensure members and member associations, such as the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, are kept informed of data protocols, evolving medical best practices, and risk assessments. These organizations have a vital role to play in ensuring medical personnel on the ground are aware of early signs and symptoms of Ebola and how to deal with suspected cases in a way that protects them and everyone around them.
I commend the selfless efforts of the many Canadian public health professionals who have already answered the call for assistance and have been taking on leadership roles in the medical response in West Africa. Currently, Dr. Eilish Cleary, New Brunswick's Chief Medical Officer of Health, is in West Africa working with a World Health Organization team to contain the outbreak. So far, 14 employees of the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg have gone overseas to assist with disaster response. Doctors Without Borders and the Canadian Red Cross have mobilized Canadian health care workers to aid in the response. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude, and we wish them a safe return home when their work is finished.
These Canadians have put themselves at risk and have made incredible personal sacrifices to help fight this devastating epidemic at its source. Despite their efforts, the number of Ebola cases in West Africa is growing every day, and humanitarian organizations' capacity to respond is diminishing.
The current government has made many promises, but of the $35 million pledged this September, only $4.3 million has been committed according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Both at home and abroad, we need more transparency in the federal government's response to this public health crisis, and that is patently obvious when we watch the news. Last night I watched a piece on the CBC by Adrienne Arsenault. It was heartbreaking to look at what is happening in countries abroad with respect to Ebola, and to see people who are helpless, who are looking for help, and that help is not there.
We have to do our part as Canadians. We have to do what Canada is known for doing, and that is being there to help in times of crisis. Unfortunately, it does not appear that we have been doing what people expect Canada to do, and that is to be at the forefront of fighting a crisis like the one we are now experiencing with Ebola.
This motion is an important step in the direction of ensuring that we are aware of what is happening on a daily basis, that reports are being made by those in a position to give us and, more importantly, Canadians the information so we are able to deal with this crisis in a manner that will save lives, not see more lives lost.
The electoral district of Labrador (Newfoundland and Labrador) has a population of 26,364 with 20,175 registered voters and 66 polling divisions.
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