Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl for putting this motion forward. It is extremely important that this be debated in the House. I am shocked to hear the member for Calgary—Nose Hill call it a waste of time to talk about something involving federal-provincial relations between Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa. It was an agreement made between two levels of government at the request of the Government of Canada.
I was supposed to be here earlier today. A taxi left my house at 6:30 a.m., Ottawa time, to get a flight to get here. I got here around 3 p.m. This is a big, diverse country. Each province and jurisdiction has its own industry, issues, problems and jurisdictional responsibilities. Each province acts in a different way within its provincial jurisdiction.
The Alberta government runs its oil and gas industry and royalty regime program differently from other parts of the country. Agriculture is a very important sector in Quebec, Ontario and out west. They all have different ways of doing things. Inside the jurisdiction of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador had certainly policy tools at its disposal to protect, develop and grow its industries, and to support the rural culture.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government has had a system of minimum processing requirements for a long time so Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can benefit as much as possible from the resources around their shores. Newfoundland and Labrador brought this into the Confederation in 1949, along with all the oil and gas resources in the offshore, as a contributing member of the Canadian Federation.
A lot of the talk around slush funds reminds me of the attitudes of some Canadians about treating Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as some sort of a handout province within Canada. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is only recently that Newfoundland and Labrador has been considered a have province, with oil and gas prices at a very significant level. That may or may not change as a result of the drop in oil prices, but we are very proud to contribute on a fiscal level in a way that we had not before. However, we have always contributed to Canada in terms of our resources, our human resources, our educated and skilled people who went throughout Canada and helped to create the wealth of Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. That is part of what Confederation is about.
We do have divided jurisdictions in Canada. We have federal responsibilities and we have provincial responsibilities. International trade is a federal matter. It is up to the Government of Canada to negotiate trade deals. CETA is one of them, and it is an important one. There is no question about it.
However, this is not about CETA and whether it is good or bad for Canada and Newfoundland. We know that there are big advantages to the Newfoundland fishery of the removal of the tariff on shrimp and cod fish. It has been an irritant for many years. In fact, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have complained about the fact that the Government of Canada has not used its influence with Europe to fix this in the past. There have been complaints for decades, going back 30, 40, 50 years, about the failure of the Government of Canada to protect the offshore fish stocks in Newfoundland and Labrador, instead of allowing them to be overfished and reduced to the point they were.
There is a lot of history around this. The jurisdiction of the Newfoundland government to have control over fish processing and minimum processing requirements is part of a policy tool that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has had.
Seafood production and the provincial seafood sector are extremely important to Newfoundland and Labrador, with over $1 billion in production value in 2013 alone and more than 18,000 people directly employed, mainly in the rural parts of the province. Minimum processing requirements are one of the policy tools within the jurisdiction of the Newfoundland and Labrador government.
What happened? This conflicted with the negotiated requirements and expectations of the Europeans, who said to Canada that they wanted it off the table. They wanted Newfoundland and Labrador to withdraw that policy tool. That was not said by Newfoundland and Labrador; it was said by the Europeans.
Then the Government of Canada, the Minister of International Trade and his department, called and asked the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to do this. They said that it was a demand at the table and they would like Newfoundland and Labrador to get rid of this policy tool as it affected the deal with Europe. It was not just for next year but forever. The province was asked what it would like in return for giving up this policy tool. The negotiations then began in good faith and resulted in an agreement.
However, this was not solely about compensating individuals who may have lost a specific job. I think that was what the federal government wanted initially, but it was very clear that was not what resulted at the end of the day. In fact, the negotiations, the exchange of letters, all of those things have been examined by independent people, including, for example, Professor Saul Schwartz, the public policy professor at Carleton University. He looked at the documents, the exchange and the correspondence, even correspondence from the minister responsible for ACOA. He concluded that the province's interpretation of what went on in the final deal was absolutely right.
A CBC story reads:
Saul Schwartz said based on his analysis of letters between former International Trade Minister...and Keith Hutchings, the former provincial fisheries minister, the deal is broader than what the federal government is now saying.
Schwartz said the letters show the money is meant to build a fishery of the future.
Therefore, when the minister said that this was only for adjustment and Mr. Hutchings said, no, that they wanted it for both any harm that might be done and for industry development, the positions were clear. In the end, the Minister of International Trade caved and said that the province could use it for industry development as well.
The article continues with:
Schwartz said the federal government could not have believed the fund was to be used for displaced workers only.
This is consistent with the debate we have heard from the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl. He quoted a lot of correspondence and letters on what went on for many months.
This is a matter of great controversy in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is not something that just slid under the table. The Newfoundland government was criticized by people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, by people who were concerned about giving up this policy tool, people who said that it should not do that. The government had to take the criticism on chin, but made it very clear that this agreement was about fisheries development, fisheries research, marketing development and other aspects of the fishery of the future.
I mentioned earlier about different jurisdictions. The federal government is responsible for fisheries, but the Newfoundland government is responsible for fish processing and other aspects of the fishing industry. However, because this is such a big concern in Newfoundland and Labrador that the federal government has let it down, Newfoundland has gone into paying for its own scientific research because the federal government has failed to do so.
This is not a waste of time today. We are asking the House to recognize that it is very important for the Government of Canada, in dealing with the province, to deal in good faith. When one makes a deal, one makes a deal. The deal was $400 million.
I can say without question that the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador would never be able to say to anyone in the House that this $400 million was only for individuals who would lose their jobs in the next two, three or four years in the implementation. Not a chance. In fact, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and Keith Hutchings, the minister of intergovernmental affairs and former fisheries minister, told me that they were told by the federal government to think outside the box, that this was not just about the fisheries. Whatever the province wanted to put on the table, the federal government wanted it to give up this jurisdiction, this policy. This was not talking about how the workers individually might be affected. The federal government wanted the province to give up the jurisdiction and asked what it wanted from the federal government in return.
There were lots of things on the table. What it came down to in the end was a joint fund. The Government of Canada would put up as much as $280 million and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador $120 million.
What was that for? Was it to compensate individual workers? No. If there were demonstrable effects, they would be compensated, but outside of that, it was designed as a fund.
This $280 million is in the federal budget now. It is not there for 2020, when this deal might be implemented and we might be seeing some effects; it is in the budget now, and it is designated for the fisheries investment fund. It is an investment fund, not a compensation fund. It is a fisheries investment fund to deal with marketing, development, innovation, research, and all of those things that are important to Newfoundland and Labrador because of the significant need for the province to develop its fishery, independent of some of the other problems that are going to come about.
Therefore, this is not something one could even argue about. When the Minister of Justice came to Newfoundland and said, “This is not meant to be a slush fund”, what an insult it was to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. What an insult to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to suggest that is what Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are trying to pretend it is, that they want slush from the Government of Canada. I am shocked and shamed that the minister would say that.
Not too long ago, before the minister was responsible for ACOA, the minister was the regional minister for Newfoundland and Labrador. For him to come to Newfoundland and Labrador and say that I found insulting and not worthy of him, frankly. The Minister of Justice knows Newfoundland and Labrador. He has lots of good friends there. He goes fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador. I found it offensive for him to say that.
We have even heard it suggested that this was a fund for all the Atlantic provinces. I do not know who said that. I hope the minister can say that he did not say that and that he never intended that. Of course, why would Newfoundland and Labrador put up $120 million for an Atlantic fund if no other provinces were doing anything to do with that?
However, that is how far this debate has gone. It seems that it is like shifting sand to sit down with the Government of Canada and make an agreement in good faith. It was something the Government of Canada wanted. It was not Newfoundland and Labrador going cap in hand to Ottawa and asking the government to do something for it because it might be affected by this deal. It was a specific policy option that the European negotiators said to Canada they wanted off the table or there would be no deal. The Newfoundland and Labrador government, in good faith, entertained the request from Ottawa to do this, knowing it was a policy option that whatever its use or effect was now, was something they could not do in five or 10 or 20 years' time, because this was an agreement that was going to last forever.
There were negotiations and discussions back and forth between two mature partners, each with its own constitutional jurisdictions. This is not someone coming cap in hand looking for a handout from a parent. This is a jurisdiction that has it as a right under its law, whether we like it or not. Some people might call it protectionist. I can call Buy America protectionist too, but it does not change the power of the United States to do it.
We can argue whatever way we want about the trade deal itself and on the whole net benefit question, and that debate is going on in Canada, at least in some quarters. The Liberals have decided they like the deal. They did not need to read it. They did not need to see the text. They did not need to see anything. Whatever the government does on it, they support it.
We are having a look at that, and at the end of the day we will decide what our view is on it. In the meantime, this debate is not about that. It is about a specific detail that involves the Government of Canada, which we hope and fully expect can deal in good faith with the partners of Confederation.
We know the Prime Minister does not meet with the provincial premiers as a whole. He had a meeting with our premier in December, and our premier came away and said, “I don't think we can trust this guy.”
That is a shocking state of affairs. A Conservative premier of Newfoundland and Labrador came to Ottawa to meet with thePrime Minister, knowing the background and expecting that it was obviously some misunderstanding because the minister responsible for ACOA , even in early October of 2014, was referring to it as a fishery transition initiative and by the end of the month was saying something different.
The premier came to Ottawa with the minister of intergovernmental affairs and said, “Obviously this is a misunderstanding. We'll go to the source. We'll talk to the Prime Minister and it'll be sorted out. If there's a misunderstanding, we've got the documents, we've got the correspondence, we've to the whole shebang.”
He did not hear anything from the Minister of International Trade, by the way. He was absent from this discussion. He is the guy who made the deal, but he was not around. The minister responsible for ACOA was put on the hot seat and told, “Okay, you're going to take this position now”, but he did not negotiate the deal. I do not think the minister for ACOA was at the table.
The Minister of International Trade and his representatives were, including, according to John Ivison of the National Post, the now principal secretary for Minister of International Trade, who was at the table and who did write to the Prime Minister and the Newfoundland government about this matter.
However, all of these people who were involved were not around. It was just the minister responsible for ACOA who was asked to carry the bad news to Newfoundland and Labrador that we were not going to follow this agreement.
Newfoundlanders are a trusting group of people. When they make a deal, they feel that the other party is going to follow through in the good faith that the deal was made, so the premier came to Ottawa to see thePrime Minister and had a meeting, apparently on very short notice, with the Prime Minister, which was a good thing. I am certainly pleased to hear that it took place. Unfortunately, the results of that meeting were very dissatisfying for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador because, lo and behold, the Prime Minister repeated what now appear to be talking points. We heard the deputy government House leader repeat those talking points today, saying “Why would we do that?”
Well, the fact of the matter is that the government did do that. Why? It was because it wanted Newfoundland and Labrador to give up this jurisdictional policy tool that it had at its disposal and was using and wanted to continue to use. The idea was “We will give it up, not for the benefits of CETA in general but in response to the program that the Government of Canada put on the table after much negotiation.”
As John Ivison says:
The solution is simple. The [Conservative] government should stump up the $280 million it agreed to pay on the implementation of CETA. And Ministers Hutchings and King should stay home and save their breath....
That is the problem we have. The problem is that the government is not meeting the agreement that it made and is not following through on its commitments. Unfortunately, given those circumstances, it cannot be trusted.
I do not think this can be belaboured very much, but I do want to say there was an email to the Newfoundland government in October of 2013—so this agreement is not new; this is old—to Mr. Bill Hawkins, chief of staff to the trade minister, who is now the Prime Minister's principal secretary. The email says:
...a transitional program of up to a combined total of $400 million that would address fish and seafood industry development and renewal, as well as workers whose jobs are displaced in future.
That was the deal. It is known to be the deal, and this government is trying to back out of it.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend and colleague from Calgary—Nose Hill for once again demonstrating that she has an abundance of common sense.
The member is absolutely right. The federal government would not enter into an agreement saying, without attachment, without any strings, “Here is $400 million. Do with it what you wish, even if there is not going to be any injury”. Of course, we will not even know that until implementation of the agreement itself, which has not occurred.
I agree with my esteemed colleague. I do not know why the NDP would bring this forward, other than that it is trying to create a political wedge. It is trying to create an issue. It does not matter whether it is fact-free, which it is, the NDP is simply trying to politicize the situation. We are trying to work with the province for the betterment, not only of that province, but the entire nation.
[Member spoke in Spanish as follows:]
Muchas gracias, señor Presidente.
No hablo mucho español. Aprendí español en la escuela.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the chance to join this debate on the Organization of American States and the great work that the foreign affairs committee did in its report.
Obviously the OAS is the hemisphere's foremost institution, and Canada has made the OAS a significant priority.
I am so pleased to hear my colleague from Cape Breton, who is a good fellow, speak about his admiration and respect for the OAS. We remember that Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal Party did not want Canada to be part of the Organization of American States. In fact, Brian Mulroney and the Conservatives were in government in 1990 when Canada joined the Organization of American States. It is another example of the strong leadership of the Mulroney government, and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development served very capably and ably in that organization.
We are tremendously engaged in this organization. Our engagement is real and it is significant. I want to pay tribute to the member for Calgary—Nose Hill. As Minister of State for the Americas, she led Canada's engagement with the Organization of American States. We can be very proud of the work she did, whether in promoting freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, the issue of security, or combatting crime, which has been a priority.
We have established many partnerships with countries in the Organization of American States through which we have worked with a third country. For example, Canada worked with Chile on some security projects in Central America. We work right now with Brazil on security issues and policing in Haiti. The organization has been very good for Canada.
I will depart later today on a trip that will take me to the annual meeting of the Organization of American States, which will take place in Paraguay. We will be discussing the salient issues of the day. I will also visit Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Bolivia is a country in which we have done a lot development assistance to try to improve the standard of living for people there.
Obviously trade has been a priority for us, because we want to see economic growth, and not just in Canada. We want the same for all people in the Americas. We want prosperity so that people can provide for themselves and provide for their families.
We have some of the strongest and most capable ambassadors in the Americas. We have Gary Doer in Washington. He has done an outstanding job for Canada and is undoubtedly one of our very best. We have great ambassadors in Brazil, in Argentina, in Peru. A lot of women play strong roles for Canada as our ambassadors there.
I am so keen to strengthen our bilateral relations with the OAS and member countries that I want to get back to work to do that, so I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to point out that I will be splitting my time with the fantastic member for Calgary—Nose Hill. Members can stay tuned for her speech, which will be after mine.
I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-25, Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation act.
I have listened to the debate here today, and I want to take this opportunity to reinforce the government's commitment to the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation and to the official recognition of its members as status Indians.
I would like to expand on some of the points other speakers have raised. I especially want to focus on our approach for resolving this long-standing matter; an approach designed to treat everyone fairly and equitably. To do so, a brief historical overview of the complex issue is required.
As members know, this story dates back decades. It began in 1949 when Newfoundland first joined Confederation. At the time, there was no agreement between the province and Canada about if, how, or when the Indian Act would apply to the Mi'kmaq of Newfoundland. In the absence of such an agreement, the Indian Act was never applied.
By the 1970s and 1980s, the Mi'kmaq groups in Newfoundland began calling for recognition. Various groups were led by the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, also known as the FNI, who commenced legal action against Canada in 1989.
Formal talks to settle the litigation and to correct the situation began in 2003. These talks led, in 2007, to an agreement in principle between the Government of Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians to create the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation, which resulted in a final agreement a year later, in 2008.
The 2008 agreement for the recognition of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq band provided for the establishment of an Indian Act landless band for members of the current day Qalipu Mi'kmaq group of Indians of Newfoundland, who resided in different Newfoundland Mi'kmaq communities prior to 1949 or are descended from residents of such a Newfoundland pre-Confederation Mi'kmaq community. These members would gain access to specific benefits confirmed by Indian status. The agreement included specific criteria for the enrolment process of founding members.
I will stop here and pick up right after question period.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member of Parliament for Calgary—Nose Hill for her interest in the future of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation.
Of course my comments, if she was listening carefully, would have underscored that we want to ensure that there is a fair and equitable process, and that this would be the purpose of committee hearings: listening to experts to ensure that not only the process itself is fair but also that those who may not be included in this process do not have their rights extinguished as aboriginal people. As I pointed out, this legislation does not clearly include, as a subset, all those who have a reasonable and rightful claim to aboriginal ancestry as Mi'kmaq in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives quote something, they take only a little sample of the quote. The rest of the Auditor General's quote was: “It's important for there to be a way for people to understand how this money was spent. And that summary reporting was not done”.
I was here during the days when Jane Stewart was the minister of HRDC, and many Conservatives were sitting right where I am now, yelling out ”boondoggle”, right across the country, over the so-called billion dollar boondoggle. In fact, the member for Calgary—Nose Hillwas on her feet literally every day for months on end over an issue that ended up being not much at all. However, now we have $3.1 billion and another $2.4 billion gone off to numbered companies without proper phones and stuff, from what we are hearing.
The reality is that this is fiscal mismanagement at its very worst. Therefore, I would like my hon. colleague, the finance critic for the NDP, to elaborate and elucidate just a bit more on why this is so bad for Canadian taxpayers and how we in the NDP, when we are in government in 2015, would change everything.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Calgary—Nose Hill giving me a portion of her time.
In the past week, Canada and the world have witnessed an unprecedented level of political change and civil turmoil in Egypt. Today, to our sadness, we learned that the formerly peaceful demonstrations had turned violent, resulting in more than 400 injuries, some serious, and at least one death. We deeply regret the loss of life and our condolences go out to the family and friends of those injured in these violent clashes. The violence that has occurred is unacceptable.
The people of Egypt have spoken out and demanded profound political change. While hearing the change demanded by the Egyptian people, the world has an interest in ensuring Egypt remains stable and secure.
Egypt has been an important partner for Canada in particular, not just in our bilateral relationship, but also in the pursuit of our shared interest in peace, stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.
As the Prime Minister said yesterday:
Canada reiterates its support for the Egyptian people as they transition to new leadership and a promising future. As Egypt moves towards new leadership, we encourage all parties to work together to ensure an orderly transition toward a free and vibrant society in which all Egyptians are able to enjoy these rights and freedoms, not a transition that leads to violence, instability and extremism.
Egypt is at another crossroads in its long and vibrant history. The choices the Egyptian people and their government make in the coming days will be important for the country, the region, and the world. Egypt matters, and Canada is pushing for political and economic reforms that will allow Egypt to continue to play an increasingly positive and constructive role in the world. This global engagement means that the entire international community has an interest in ensuring that Egypt remains a stable and peaceful presence on the world stage, particularly in the Arab world where Egypt's positive influence has been perhaps most strongly felt.
From the onset of our bilateral relationship when Canada and Egypt opened embassies in Cairo and in Ottawa, our two countries have worked together in support of regional stability and prosperity. Egypt, a key Arab and African partner, has been a key factor to stability in the Middle East. A shared commitment to a just and comprehensive peace in the region is one of the core elements of Canada's bilateral relationship with Egypt.
It is in its relations with Israel where Egypt has proven to be a moderate force in the Arab world. Where other countries avoided a politically difficult decision, Egypt's far-sighted leader, Anwar Sadat, took a principled stance toward peace and stability. He became the first Egyptian president to visit Israel and, in 1979, signed a historic peace agreement based on the Camp David accords. This decision to normalize relations with Israel and advocate for peace in the region is something that Egypt continues to do to this day.
The pursuit of this ideal came at an extremely high price as Egypt lost Sadat to hate-filled extremism. It is up to the international community to ensure such a visionary commitment to peace and stability continues to prevail in Egypt over extremism and an ideology of hate.
It is also important to realize that Egypt's role in the region has brought economic benefit to its people. Partnership with Israel yielded $500 million in bilateral trade between the two countries. The peace accord has been a positive factor for both countries since, for example, the absence of a major military threat from Egypt has allowed Israel to cut its defence spending from nearly a quarter of its gross national product in the 1970s to less than 10% today. For over 30 years both countries have been free of the devastating social and economic threat and associated costs of war.
Today Egypt also sells a considerable amount of natural gas to Israel. In 2005 the neighbours signed an agreement to ensure that the arrangement continues for the next 20 years. The pipeline is run by East Mediterranean Gas, an Egyptian-Israeli joint venture. The presence of an agreement has also promoted a great deal of foreign investment in both countries. Clearly, this serves as an example for others in the region to follow, one which can unlock the true potential of a troubled region, a region constantly under threat by extremist elements.
Egypt also plays a role in maintaining stability along its southwest border with Gaza despite relentless efforts by extremist groups to destabilize it. Continuing Egyptian co-operation on limiting arms smuggling into Gaza is essential for regional security.
It is clear that the Egyptian people have made a profound decision. They are insisting on choosing their rules, defining their system of government, and defining the values behind that government's policies, both domestic and foreign. We sincerely hope that in this time of political change both the people and their government will remain true to those values and actions that have made Egypt a positive force in the region and one that has upheld its commitment to peace, stability and security.
Terrorism cannot prevail. Extremism cannot prevail. Hate cannot prevail.
The electoral district of Calgary--Nose Hill (Alberta) has a population of 130,942 with 93,731 registered voters and 216 polling divisions.
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