House of Commons
Statements by Members
Mr. Speaker, today, the Prime Minister will apologize on behalf of all Canadians for what happened to the passengers of the MS St. Louis in 1939, when 907 refugees, most of them Jewish, knocked at our door after being turned away by Cuba and the United States. Our response was famously recorded in the book by Irving Abella, None is Too Many. No one wanted to help them and this unfortunately helped validate the racism and anti-Semitism of that era. Following their unexpected return to European soil, more than one quarter of those refugees lost their lives in Nazi concentration camps. They died for two reasons: they were Jewish and they were turned away. The survivors and families of several survivors are here today for this historic moment. I sincerely hope that this lesson stays with us for a long, long time.
Apology to Jewish Refugees
Mr. Speaker, on May 15, 1939, more than 900 German Jews boarded an ocean liner called the St. Louis. The passengers had been stripped of their possessions, chased out of their homes, forced out of their schools and banned from their professions by their own government. Their synagogues had been burned, their stores raided, their clothing scarred with yellow stars. They had been forced to add “Israel” or “Sarah” to the names they had known their whole lives.
Women and men who had once contributed so much to their country had been labelled aliens, traitors and enemies and were treated as such: persecuted, robbed, jailed and killed because of who they were. Nazi Germany had denied them their citizenship and their fundamental rights, yet when the St. Louis set sail from Hamburg that fateful Monday, the more than 900 stateless passengers on board considered themselves lucky, lucky because they each carried on board an entrance visa to Cuba, a rare chance to escape the tyranny of the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler.
By the time the ship docked in Havana harbour, things would take a turn for the worse. The Cuban government refused to recognize their entrance visas, and only a few passengers were allowed to disembark. Even after men, women and children threatened mass suicide, entry was denied.
So continued their long and tragic quest for safety. They would request asylum from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Panama. Each said no. On June 2, the MS St. Louis was forced to leave Havana, with no guarantee that they would be welcomed elsewhere.
After the Americans denied their appeals, they sought refuge in Canada, but the Liberal government of Mackenzie King was unmoved by the plight of these refugees. Despite the desperate plea of the Canadian Jewish community, despite the repeated calls by the government’s two Jewish caucus members, despite the many letters from concerned Canadians of different faiths, the government chose to turn its back on these innocent victims of Hitler’s regime.
At the time, Canada was home to just 11 million people, of whom only 160,000 were Jews.
Yet even that proved to be too many for many Canadians, including Frederick Charles Blair, who then headed the government’s immigration branch. In a letter dated September 1938, the minister wrote:
Pressure by Jewish people to get into Canada has never been greater than it is now, and I am glad to be able to add that, after 35 years of experience here, it has never been so carefully controlled.
Not a single Jewish refugee was to set foot, let alone settle, on Canadian soil.
The MS St. Louis and its passengers had no choice but to return to Europe, where the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Holland agreed to take in the refugees. When the Nazis conquered Belgium, France and Holland, many of them would be murdered in the gruesome camps and gas chambers of the Third Reich.
The story of the St. Louis and its passengers is no isolated incident. The Government of Canada was indifferent to the suffering of Jews long before the St. Louis ever set sail for Halifax, and sadly, long after it had returned to Europe.
In the wake of the Great Depression, Canadian lawmakers had begun to tighten restrictions on immigration, adopting policies that were both economically and ethnically selective.
To the government of the day, Jews were among the least desirable immigrants; their presence on our soil had to be limited. The government imposed strict quotas and an ever-growing list of requirements designed to deter Jewish immigration.
As the Nazis escalated their attacks on the Jews of Europe, the number of visa applications surged. Canadian relatives, embassy officials, immigration officers, political leaders—all were flooded with calls for help.
Wealthy businessmen promising job creation; aging parents vowing to take up farming; pregnant women begging for clemency; doctors, lawyers, academics, engineers, scientists imploring officials and the government to let them serve our country. They offered everything they owned, promising to comply with Canada’s every request.
These refugees would have made this country stronger and its people proud, but the government went to great lengths to ensure that their appeals went nowhere, that their cries for help were left unanswered, for Canada deemed them unworthy of a home and undeserving of our help.
By 1938, the world was wrestling with a growing refugee crisis. When leaders of all nations convened in Evian to discuss the future of Jews in Europe, no country stepped forward to drastically increase its quotas. Jews were viewed as a threat to be avoided rather than as the victims of a humanitarian crisis.
When Canadian lawmakers returned from Evian, they used their powers to further tighten the rules around Jewish immigration, legitimizing the anti-Semitic sentiment taking hold at home and abroad. Bitter resentment toward Jews was enshrined in our policies, the same policies immigration officials would later use to justify their callous response to the St. Louis and its passengers.
Of all the allied countries, Canada would admit the fewest number of Jews between 1933 and 1945, far fewer than the United Kingdom and significantly fewer, per capita, than the United States. Of those it let in, as many as 7,000 were labelled prisoners of war and injustly imprisoned alongside Nazis. As far as Jews were concerned, none was too many.
In the years leading up to the war, Hitler tested the world’s resolve. He noted carefully as country after country proved itself indifferent to the plight of Jewish refugees. He watched as we refused them visas, ignored their letters and denied them entry. With every decree, he challenged the political courage of our leaders and the empathy of those who elected them. With every pogrom, he tested the bounds of our humanity and the limits of our solidarity. Adolf Hitler’s test is one the Canadian government failed miserably.
This week marks the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a sombre turning point in Hitler’s racial policy and the beginning of the Holocaust. Kristallnacht happened on the heels of that Evian Conference, where the world cemented its indifference and antipathy towards Jews. There is little doubt that our silence permitted the Nazis to come up with their own final solution for the so-called Jewish problem.
When Canada joined the war against Germany—when we were fighting for democracy abroad—we were failing Hitler’s victims at home. What we were willing to do abroad, we were unwilling to do at home.
The plight of the St. Louis did not lead to a significant change in policy, nor did alarming reports from across Europe or the gruesome details of a coordinated effort to eliminate Jews. When the allies caught wind of the concentration camps, they did not bomb the rail lines that led to Auschwitz, nor did they take concrete action to rescue the remnants of Europe’s Jewish community.
When the war ended, Canada and the allied powers discovered the full horrors of the Holocaust. We joined the world in condemning in the strongest terms the death camps of Hitler and the despicable cruelty of his actions. And yet, even the industrial mass murder of more than six million Jews did not force a swift change in our immigration policy.
It would take another three years for Canada to open its doors and take in Jewish refugees at the same rate we took in non-Jewish German nationals at the end of the war. It would take new leadership, a new world order and the creation of the State of Israel, a homeland for the Jewish people, for Canada to amend its laws and begin to dismantle the policies that had legitimized and propagated anti-Semitism.
Adolf Hitler alone did not seal the fate of the St. Louis passengers or the Jews of Europe. To harbour such hatred and indifference towards the refugees was to share in the moral responsibility for their deaths. While decades have passed since we turned our backs on Jewish refugees, time has by no means absolved Canada of its guilt or lessened the weight of our shame.
Today I rise in the House of Commons to issue a long overdue apology to the Jewish refugees Canada turned away. We apologize to the 907 German Jews aboard the MS St. Louis, as well as their families. We also apologize to others who paid the price of our inaction, whom we doomed to the ultimate horror of the death camps. We used our laws to mask our anti-Semitism, our antipathy, our resentment. We are sorry for the callousness of Canada’s response, and we are sorry for not apologizing sooner.
We apologize to the mothers and fathers whose children we did not save, and to the daughters and sons whose parents we did not help. We apologize to the imprisoned Jewish refugees who were forced to relive their trauma next to their tormentors.
To the scientists, artists, engineers, lawyers, businessmen, nurses, doctors, mathematicians, pharmacists, poets and students, to every Jew who sought safe haven in Canada, who stood in line for hours and wrote countless letters, we refused to help them when we could have. We contributed to sealing the cruel fates of far too many at places like Auschwitz, Treblinka and Belzec. We failed them and for that we are sorry.
Finally, we apologize to the members of Canada’s Jewish community whose voices were ignored, whose calls went unanswered. We were quick to forget the ways in which they had helped build this country since its inception, quick to forget that they were our friends and neighbours, that they had educated our youth, cared for our sick and clothed our poor. Instead, we let anti-Semitism take hold in our communities and become our official policy. We did not hesitate to circumvent their participation, limit their opportunities and discredit their talent. They were meant to feel like strangers in their own homes, aliens in their own land. We denied them the respect that every Canadian, every human being, regardless of origin, regardless of faith is owed by their government and by their fellow citizens.
When Canada turned its back on the Jews of Europe, we turned our back on Jewish Canadians as well. It was unacceptable then and it is unacceptable now. The country failed them, and for that we are sorry.
The story of the St. Louis and the ill-treatment of Jews before, during and after the Second World War should fill us with shame. Shame because these actions run counter to the promise of our country. That is not the Canada we know today—a Canada far more generous, accepting and compassionate than it once was. A place where citizenship is first defined by principles and ideals, not by race nor by faith.
This change in attitudes, this shift in policy was no accident. It was the work of Canadian men and women who dedicated their lives to making this country more equal and more just. Men and women who were children of the Holocaust, Jewish refugees or descendants of the oppressed.
These Jewish women and men took part in social struggles for fairness, justice and human rights. At home, they furthered the great Canadian causes that shaped this country, causes that benefited all Canadians. Abroad, they fought for democracy and the rule of law, for equality and liberty. The scope of their impact should not only be recognized, but celebrated. They were scientists and activists, ministers and singers, physicists and philanthropists. They were and continue to be proudly Jewish and proudly Canadian. They helped open up Canada’s eyes and ears to the plight of the most vulnerable. They taught us tikkun olam, which is our responsibility to heal the world.
When Canada chose to turn its back on refugees more than 70 years ago, not only did the government fail to help the most vulnerable, it harmed all of us. Jewish Canadians have made immense contributions to our country, as do all the immigrants who have chosen and continue to choose Canada.
As we stand here today, we are reminded of not only how far we have come, but also of how far we still have to go. During this Holocaust Education Week, it is all the more impossible to ignore the challenges and injustices still facing Jews in this country.
According to the most recent figures, 17% of all hate crimes in Canada target Jewish people, a far higher figure per capita than for any other group. Holocaust deniers still exist. Anti-Semitism is still far too present. Jewish institutions and neighbourhoods are still being vandalized with swastikas. Jewish students still feel unwelcome and uncomfortable in some of our college and university campuses because of BDS-related intimidation. Out of the entire community of nations, it is Israel whose right to exist is most widely and wrongly questioned.
Discrimination and violence against Jewish people in Canada and around the world continues at an alarming rate. Less than two weeks ago, not too far from here, a gunman opened fire on worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people and wounding six others. Among those wounded were four police officers who had arrived at the scene to defend the congregants. These worshippers were gathered in peace to practise their faith. They were murdered in their sanctuary on Shabbat because they were Jews.
This was a heinous anti-Semitic act of violence motivated by hate, designed to inflict pain and stoke fear in the Jewish community. Canadians were horrified by this vicious attack on the Jewish community and its values. Across Canada, people organized vigils in honour of the victims. They stood in solidarity with their Jewish brothers and sisters and echoed a sentiment shared from coast to coast to coast, that anti-Semitism and all forms of xenophobia have no place in this country or anywhere in this world. Canada and Canadians will continue to stand with the Jewish community and call out the hatred that incited such despicable acts.
These tragic events ultimately attest to the work we still have to do together, work that begins with education, our most powerful tool against the ignorance and cruelty that fuelled the Holocaust, because, sadly, these evils did not end with the Second World War. Canada and all Canadians must stand up against xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes that still exist in our communities, in our schools, and in our places of work. We must guard our communities and institutions against the kinds of evils that took hold in the hearts of so many, more than 70 years ago, evils that did not end with the war.
Following the recent horrific attack in Pittsburgh, Jewish Canadians are understandably feeling vulnerable. We know that here in Canada we are not immune to hate and hate crimes grounded in anti-Semitism. Our government and members of Parliament are working with the Jewish community to better protect their communities against the threat of anti-Semitism. Places of worship are sacred and should be sanctuaries for all faith communities. There have been clear calls to do more through the security infrastructure program to protect synagogues and other places that are at risk of hate-motivated crimes, and I pledge to all now that we will do more.
As we stand here today, we must commit ourselves not just to remember, but to act on this tragic history so our children and grandchildren flourish in a world in which they are never questioned or attacked because of their identity. Sadly, this is not yet that world.
Too many people of all faiths from all countries face persecution. Their lives are threatened simply because of how they pray, what they wear or what last name they bear. They are forced to flee their homes and embark upon perilous journeys in search of safety and a future. This is the world we all live in and this is therefore our collective responsibility.
It is my sincere hope that by issuing this long overdue apology, we can shine a light on this painful chapter of our history and ensure that its lessons are never forgotten. What we can hardly imagine, the passengers of the MS St. Louis, the victims of the Holocaust, and their descendants will never forget.
While no words will ever erase their pain, it is our sincere hope that this apology will help them heal, that it will bring them some peace, that it will cement Canada’s unwavering commitment to stand with the Jewish community here and around the world in the fight against anti-Semitism, as the Jewish community in Canada and around the world is always among the first to stand against intolerance and hate in any form.
More than 70 years ago, Canada turned its back on them. But, today, Canadians pledged, now and forever, never again.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to join my fellow members for today’s solemn proceedings, humbled and honoured by the presence of some of those who were wronged by the terrible and fateful decision of the Canadian government, almost 80 years ago, to turn away the passengers of the MS St. Louiswhen they sought a safe harbour from Hitler’s Germany.
It is a sign of a healthy society to be able to look at history clearly and see both the light and the dark, to celebrate our achievements, but to also mourn our failings. There is no shame, as a country, in acknowledging shameful acts in our past. The real shame would be in forgetting them and not learning from them.
While it is true that apologies cannot change the past, occasions such as this, marked by remembrance, reflection and regret, can help guide our future.
The unique horror of the Holocaust, in which more than a quarter of the passengers of the MS St. Louis perished, produced the rallying cry “Never again”. That is not a passive hope; it is a call to action. It commands us to remember how, within the lifetime of some in this room, a civilized modern society succumbed to a primitive fear and turned its vaunted industrial prowess against its Jewish citizens and its neighbours.
“Never again” requires us to measure our actions today, not against the worst atrocities of that time but against the gradual process of dehumanization that preceded it and made the Holocaust possible. That insidious process of dehumanization was not confined to Germany or even to Europe. It was the same process that motivated Canadians, right up to the highest levels of government, to deny the MS St. Louis a safe harbour and to drive its desperate passengers back across the Atlantic into the gathering storm of war.
The men who turned away the MS St. Louis likely could not have foreseen the magnitude of the genocide that was on the horizon in Europe.
However, the new discriminatory laws and increasing acts of terror against Jewish citizens and the relentless and obsessive anti-Semitism of the Nazi government, which forced the passengers of the MS St. Louis to seek shelter across the Atlantic, leaves Canada with no excuses, not just in hindsight but at the time, for ignoring the dire threat they faced.
Historian Irving Abella has noted the bitter irony that:
To the condemned Jews of Auschwitz, Canada had a unique meaning. It was the name given to the camp barracks where the gold, jewellery and clothing taken from inmates were stored. It represented life, luxury and salvation. It was also isolated and unreachable, as was Canada in the 1930s and 40s.
To the passengers of the MS St. Louis, however, Canada was not geographically isolated or unreachable. They were there, just off the coast of Nova Scotia, searching for safety. It was not our lands, but it was the minds at the time that were isolated. It was hearts that were unreachable.
We apologize for closing our hearts and minds and our shores to the more than 900 Jewish passengers of the MS St. Louis.
Their plight has been called “The Voyage of the Damned”, and Canada was responsible for turning them away.
Canada was not alone in doing so. Cuba and the United States also turned the St. Louis away before it approached Canada. However, their callousness in no way excuses our own. There is no diminishment of individual guilt in such a shared failure. The Canadian government was responsible to the full extent of its own cold, deliberate and official inhumanity.
It is comforting to think that today we have learned the lesson of the MS St. Louis, but this apology should not make us comfortable. On the contrary, it should grab us and shake us. It should be an alarm that jolts us out of our daily routines and demands that we look at our world today through the lens of that experience.
True, Canada is not the same country it was in 1939. We have welcomed more people from more parts of the world than the government of that day could have possibly imagined, including 40,000 European Jews in the years immediately after World War II. Our peaceful pluralism today leaves no room for discrimination, and both the overt and subtle anti-Semitism that prevailed in that era no longer have any place in our laws and customs.
However, that does not mean that anti-Semitism and other virulent forms of intolerance no longer exist here. Anti-Semitism is not a relic of the 1930s. It was not eradicated with the defeat of the Nazis. It is, unfortunately and sadly, very much alive today.
In Canada, anti-Semitism accounts for the vast majority of religiously motivated hate crimes and the number of such crimes has gone up in the past few years.
On social media, in parades and public demonstrations, even on our own university campuses, we have seen a disturbing resurgence and even normalization of anti-Semitic rhetoric. We know from painful experience that where anti-Semitism is tolerated, anti-Jewish violence follows. This was brought home again, achingly, in a murderous attack at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue only days ago.
We see it also overseas where anti-Semitic rhetoric, blood libels and conspiracies are still used by repressive regimes to distract from their own failures and to direct the frustrations of their people outward against the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel, whose citizens, as a result, live under constant threat.
In 2011, under our Conservative government, these events were commemorated by the unveiling of a memorial monument at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, in Halifax.
Designed by Daniel Libeskind, who also designed the National Holocaust Monument just a few blocks from the House, the Wheel of Conscience is a polished, stainless steel wheel, incorporating four connecting moving gears labelled anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism and hatred. As one gear turns, it drives the others, showing their inextricable relationship.
Anti-Semitism has always been the first recourse of demagogues and the favourite fuel of tyrants. It takes many forms, from crude caricatures reminiscent of Nazi propaganda to the more sophisticated new anti-Semitism that singles out Israel among all the countries in the Middle East for disproportionate condemnation. It is why synagogues, Jewish schools and Jewish community centres in Europe, and indeed around the world, are once again forced to employ armed guards and to discourage their members from wearing identifying clothing or symbols.
As we witness this rise of anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance and discrimination, we cannot again stand by impassively. We cannot again watch and fail to act, as ancient prejudice mutates into new violence.
Barely four months before Mr. King’s government decided not to offer the MS St. Louis refuge, a member of the House tabled a petition bearing more than 127,000 signatures, protesting against Jewish immigration to Canada.
Even in 1939, many Canadians knew that the seemingly rational arguments masked an irrational fear. They knew the right answer to the moral question posed by the plight of the MS St. Louis. Some, like historian George Wrong, spoke out bravely, petitioning the government on behalf of the passengers, but many more lacked the courage to give voice to their consciences.
We are here today because Canada was judged for its actions at that critical time and was found at fault. Every generation is tested. Every generation has to answer some hard questions and resist intolerance.
How will we respond when we face that test? What will we do to protect those fleeing genuine threats of violent persecution today? How far will we go to defend the religious freedom of our fellow citizens here at home?
This past Saturday, Canadians filled synagogues across our country as part of the #ShowUpForShabbat campaign. Jewish or not, all were welcomed by a community whose home in Canada predates Confederation by more than a century. It was a heartfelt show of support, demonstrating to our Jewish friends and neighbours that we will stand by them when they feel most vulnerable.
It was also a tangible expression of our oft-stated commitment to freedom and the rule of law. However, if that commitment is real, if the apology today is not just empty words, we must show the same willingness to stand, not just against violence but against hatred, intolerance and all violations of fundamental human rights.
With the lesson of history fresh in our minds, we have no excuse to failing to give voice to our convictions and making our conscience, and not expediency, our compass.
Canada should have been guided by that spirit in 1939. Canada should have offered sanctuary to the passengers of the MS St. Louis. For our failure to do so then, we stand with the government today in its apology. Never again must none be too many.
Mr. Speaker, on June 7, 1939, Canada said no to Jewish refugees. Today, Canada is apologizing and expressing its regrets.
Let me begin by acknowledging all the survivors who are here with us.
Shalom, you are welcome in the House and your presence carries a world of meaning considering our past actions. Your presence here today is important, as Canada apologizes to the Jewish community for saying no to a number of their fellow Jews who were fleeing horrible persecution in Europe to find peace here on the eve of the Second World War.
The story of the MS St. Louis is part of a very long series of unfortunate events that shaped anti-Semitism around the world in the 1930s, and which still resonates today. What happened to the passengers of the the MS St. Louis is a stain on Canadian history.
The MS St. Louis left the Port of Hamburg, Germany, on May 13, 1939. It carried 937 people, nearly all of them of Jewish, who were fleeing the growing violence and anti-Semitism in Europe and in Nazi Germany, where Adolf Hitler had already been in power for six years.
On June 2, the ship was forced to leave Havana, where just a few passengers had managed to disembark. The ship then sailed along the coast of South and North America in the hope that authorities would welcome the 907 remaining passengers.
In spite of the pleas from Captain Gustav Schröder, American organizations and celebrities, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned away the refugees. The ship continued northward, hoping for a favourable response from Canadian authorities.
On June 7, when the ship was just two days at sea from Halifax Harbour, 41 prominent Torontonians called on Prime Minister Mackenzie King to grant asylum to the St. Louis refugees. An answer came from justice minister Ernest Lapointe and from Frederick Charles Blair, the Canadian government official responsible for immigration.
Mr. Blair stated that the refugees did not qualify under Canada’s immigration laws at the time, which he himself had created. He said, “No country could open its doors wide enough to take in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who want to leave Europe: the line must be drawn somewhere.”
Sadly, in light of current events, these words still resonate today. After being turned away by Cuban, American and Canadian authorities, the 907 refugees aboard the St. Louis were forced to reverse course and travel back across the ocean to the war that was brewing in Europe with eyes filled with dashed hopes, fear in their hearts, and only a suitcase to their name.
The passengers of the MS St. Louis were dispersed through Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, but many of them were caught by the Nazis and sent to die in concentration camps. Two hundred and fifty-four of them did not survive, 254, all murdered, along with six million of their fellow Jews, victims of the Shoah. They were 254 people who had boarded the MS St. Louis in the hope of fleeing death and who could have been saved had Canada said yes.
Canada abandoned innocent people who then became victims of Hitler and his hate. The passengers of the MS St. Louis were fleeing anti-Semitism, unaware that anti-Semitism had crossed the ocean before them.
Anti-Semitism continues to claim lives today. On October 27, 11 people were shot and killed by a gunman in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Eleven people died and six people were injured because of their faith. It is the most serious anti-Semitic attack in North American history.
Among the victims was a 97-year-old woman who had survived the horrors of the Holocaust, taken down by a killer fired up by the same vile hatred, a man who claimed that he wanted to “kill all the Jews”.
Let us salute the incredible sense of duty of the Allegheny General Hospital personnel who treated the killer’s injuries. Three of the doctors and nurses who treated him were themselves Jewish and through their acts showed the depth of humanist values found in the Jewish community. They honoured the principle that whoever saves a life saves an entire universe.
In 2016, police reported 1,409 hate crimes in Canada. That is not counting all the crimes that are not reported and whose victims suffer in silence. Of the hate crimes reported in 2016, 460 were motivated by the victims’ religion, with half of those targeting the Jewish community, signalling that anti-Semitism is not a thing of the past. This past year alone, 14 synagogues in Canada received threats calling for the extermination of the Jewish community.
Verbal and physical violence, vandalism and harassment in public and online are still part of everyday life for Jews in this country. That is unacceptable.
From the MS St. Louis to the massacre in Pittsburgh, anti-Semitism continues to show its face. In fact, what we are unfortunately seeing today are past demons feeding into the fear of the other. Extremism is on the rise, and so are homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Intolerance has no place here, yesterday, today or tomorrow.
The survivors who are with us today remind us how important it is for all countries to welcome those who take huge risks to seek asylum, who take huge risks to live in peace, who take huge risks to create a better future for their children.
Even now, the refugee situation is at the root of an abundant flow of blood and ink. Every day, thousands of women, men and children attempt to flee violence, war, famine, drought and climate change in the hope of building a better life somewhere else, somewhere safer.
Considering the tensions that arose here and elsewhere when Canada welcomed Syrian refugees, I hope that today’s national apology will give pause to those who still have a hostile, anti-immigrant mindset.
While today Canada officially regrets having refused entry to Jewish refugees on board the MS St. Louis and during most of the Second World War, we are reaffirming today our commitment to denounce anti-immigrant discourse, systemic racism and hate-based violence against people, regardless of their identity.
We need to be focused, in particular, on confronting online hate. As the recent horrifying events in Pittsburgh demonstrate, vicious anti-Semitic rhetoric online can and does lead to shocking acts of violence, including murder.
If the doors of Canada were closed to Jewish refugees on board the MS St. Louis in 1939 and during most of the Second World War, we must commit to never make the same mistake again.
These children, women and men are only asking that we open our doors to them so that they may unpack their suitcases here, so that they can continue their lives here, so that in safety and security, they can grow and accomplish their hopes and dreams, all the while contributing to Canadian society.
Because of anti-Semitism, we denied asylum to the passengers of the MS St. Louis. On behalf of my party, I wish to add my voice to the official apology made here today.
On June 7, 1939, Canada said no to Jewish refugees. Today Canada is apologizing and expresses its regret. The future must not follow in the path of past errors. We must all work collectively to fight against anti-Semitism in all its forms, wherever it takes place.
The NDP stands shoulder to shoulder with Canada’s Jewish community against anti-Semitism, here in Canada and around the world. No community should face this hatred alone. Together, let us build a better story.
Mr. Speaker, I am humbled to rise today to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois in response to Canada’s apology to passengers of the MS St. Louis.
In 1939, in the early days of the Second World War, when Germany was fully under Nazi rule, Canada refused to welcome 907 Jewish refugees coming from Hamburg. These 907 people were fleeing ever-worsening persecution in their country.
Six months earlier, they had lived through the Night of Broken Glass, during which Adolf Hitler’s troops burned down hundreds of synagogues and thousands of Jewish-owned businesses, killed 91 people and arrested 30,000 others, sending them to what would later become concentration camps.
On board the ship that was to save their lives, these 907 people first landed in Cuba. Cuba refused to help them. The ship then set course for Florida. The United States denied them asylum. As a last resort, the 907 passengers tried their luck in Halifax. Canada denied them asylum. In fact, Canada did not just say no. When asked how many Jewish refugees Canada would be willing to take, the federal government, through its then immigration minister, responded, “None is too many”. These 907 Jews were therefore sent back to Europe to face certain death. Just a few months later, two-thirds of the passengers were living under Nazi occupation, and 254 of them were killed in the death camps.
Today we honour their memory and that of all those passengers. We commend the Canadian government’s decision to apologize for the role it played in their lives, in their deaths, and in the lives of their loved ones.
This is one of the worst imaginable examples of lack of compassion and humanity. It is anti-Semitism. That is a loaded word, but unfortunately it is the word that best describes what happened.
The value of hundreds of people’s lives was denied for no other reason than their religious beliefs. Canada was not immune to religiously motivated hatred of the other—and neither was Quebec immune to anti-Semitism, much to our regret. Anti-Semitism also found fertile ground in Quebec, which was struggling under the heavy yoke of the church at the time.
It is vital that we acknowledge that today. It is vital that we remember that we were not always on the right side of history, that we too can choose the wrong path. It is vital that we keep alive the memory of those who were condemned to death by our blindness in 1939. That is the best way to ensure that we remain vigilant against intolerance.
In closing, I would like to speak directly to our fellow citizens of the Jewish faith.
Less than two weeks after the terrible anti-Semitic crime in Pittsburgh, I want to assure them that they can count on the support of our party and on the solidarity of Quebeckers. Quebec will remain united against even the smallest expressions of hatred. We will stand shoulder to shoulder. This is how we will ensure that tragedies like the one that befell the passengers of the MS St. Louiswill never happen here again.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to respond to these sad and touching speeches.
I sincerely thank the Prime Minister for his leadership in issuing this formal apology. That is very important. It is too late to take action, but it is never too late to apologize. I would also like to thank the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basquesand the member for La Pointe-de-l’Île.
The facts have been canvassed well, eloquently and movingly by all my colleagues. The reality of these facts has been summed up so well. However, I must take a moment to thank the historians who make sure we know of the sins of our past. Unbearable and unspeakable cruelty, blindness and callousness, we all wear the stains of this crime. I do not know if we would know about it without the historians Irving Abella and his co-author Harold Troper. I thank them for writing None is too many. How hard that work must have been. Mark Twain once said that history is written with the ink of pure prejudice. However, one sits down to expose prejudice when history is truth-telling. It leaves us knowing as a fact that our country had the worst record of any country that was refugee-receiving in that period. It is hard to recognize ourselves as Canada in this story, just as it is hard to recognize ourselves as Canada from ripping indigenous children from their families and putting them in residential schools, and ignoring the plights of people over the generations.
Because so much has been said, and so movingly, I want to focus on one aspect of this tragedy. It is not a coincidence, I am sure, that the Government of Canada chose today for this apology, congruent as it is with the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Tonight, at Kehillat Beth Israel synagogue, tomorrow at the Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria, people will gather to commemorate Kristallnacht, the first real manifestation of the evil of Nazi Germany in targeting Jewish synagogues, businesses and homes and smashing the glass everywhere throughout Nazi Germany.
It was only six months later that those 907 German Jews boarded the St. Louis to get away. Six months after Kristallnacht is when the St. Louis left port. How were we so blind and insensitive? However, we were, and we know that was only 80 years ago. We have all said never again, we abhor anti-Semitism, just as we abhor racism in any form.
Then we come up against Pittsburgh and the Tree of Life synagogue. I think we have come full circle in a pattern of hatred and human intolerance that is not yet eradicated, because the Tree of Life synagogue outside Pittsburgh was not only targeted by that crazed gunman because he hated Jews, it was because he hated Jews who helped refugees. That synagogue, Tree of Life, had a very active chapter of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that was helping raise money to resettle refugees now, in 2018. That is why that gunman posted notices ahead of time of the Shabbat for refugees, held by synagogues like Tree of Life.
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society has existed for decades. Its current CEO, Mark Hatfield, had this to say, “We assist refugees today not because they are Jewish, but because we are Jewish.”
The Torah requires us to intervene, to stop these things that are being done by our government in our name. That light exists in the synagogues, where the moral code of the Jewish people says that we take on a mitzvah, we take on a good work out of religious duty, and we do that work. That is the light that can guide us and we must, as politicians, never turn a blind eye to any among us who would seek electoral advantage by opening the door a crack to white supremacists, neo-Nazis or any of those who would raise up again, and hatred and fear advances their cause.
We in this time see other so-called leaders and, as my friend from the NDP said, there is a movement of intolerance on the rise. We see it globally in Brazil. We see it in the United States. We see that some people gave that gunman in Pittsburgh the idea that he had licence. Therefore, when we say “never again”, we mean it not about history but about our present.
We stand with the people of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh as we stand with the 907 Jewish German citizens who we turned away, to our eternal shame. We wish we could turn back the hands of time and be in Halifax harbour on a million little boats and say “Jump, join us. We love you”. Now, we can only stand here and say that we are so very sorry.
I would like to thank the right hon. Prime Minister, the hon. Leader of the Opposition, the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l’Îleand the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for the eloquent and moving remarks they made today about the terrible tragedy of the MS St. Louis.
How embarrassing it is that Canada turned them away and, for me, that they were turned away at the gates of my city of Halifax, and how important it is that we remember.
Canada Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
The House resumed from October 29 consideration of the motion that Bill C-85, An Act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and to make related amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be sharing my time with the member for Essex.
I am very proud to speak to Bill C-85. However, before I go into the bill itself, it is quite interesting to see the work our government has done in the last year. This is fourth trade deal on the table. That is very impressive, without a doubt, keeping in mind that 60% of our GDP is from trade deals, so no trade deals, no economy. That is pretty well how I would describe it. Therefore, they are extremely important.
The good thing about this as well is that small, medium and large Canadian companies are able to compete in the world, which is extremely important. There is nothing to fear, because we are among the best in the world and we can produce the best as well.
I would also like to share with members of the House, all 338 members, that in my opinion, it would be a good strategy, which I will focus on in the next few months, to meet with all business associations in our communities. For example, I have one in Sackville, one in Fall River, one in the Eastern Passage area and one in the Eastern Shore, the Porters Lake-Lake Echo area.
It is time to have some really strong conversations about the opportunities that have been created in the last year with these trade deals. People have to understand that these trade deals touch many sectors. As I go through my speech, they will hear about the 100% cut in tariffs. These are great opportunities. My question for all members is this. Are they communicating with our business communities? Are they aware of these changes? Are they aware of the potential opportunities? That is what is important.
I will talk about CIFTA, the Canada-Israel trade deal. This is not something new that has just come about. Last year, we agreed to amend and enhance this agreement. It had been 20 years. How much has this agreement brought to us? Over the last 20 years, we have seen two-way trade triple. It is now up to $1.7 billion, which is an enormous amount of money for two countries directly trading.
This trade deal, Bill C-85, has four amended chapters and seven new chapters. The amendments, as everyone will see, are very important to improving the trade deal, as well as the new chapters. Once again, our government is influencing major changes to enhance many areas of trade.
Let me start with dispute resolution and dispute settlement. As we know, that was crucial element in the USMCA deal and we were not going to sign any deal without it. That is how important it is. Not only is it in this trade deal, but in many chapters. This will make it that much stronger because there will be analysis and discussions on specific chapters and, therefore, over time, both countries will see the strengths and weaknesses and will be able to work through those processes.
This trade deal would provide more access to products, not just good products but all types of products. There will be almost 100% tariff reduction on fish, seafood and agriculture, which are major sectors in our economy.
We see improvement in the structure of the agreement. On the rules of origin, also very important, we were able to bring some relaxed focus to it, recognizing the global value chain and streamlining for tariff treatment. Again, it ensures the necessary conditions will be in place for greater success.
In the new chapters, we see the e-commerce, which is the online purchasing. Again, no tariff will be applied in any way, shape or form. It will also protect our intellectual properties, again because as Canadians, we have many areas where we have been number one. We have the best products and the best inventions. Therefore, we were able to ensure there would be relief on the copyright end.
Other measures we see in these new chapters are around food safety and environmental protection, which are extremely important, as well as labour standards. We have removed technical barriers to trade. These are very important points.
I want to touch on two areas in the added features where Canada has lead once again. The first is applying a gender lens to the trade deal. It is extremely important that we are able to apply that lens to ensure that both genders are able to contribute directly to the economy and these trade issues. We have shown how we can ensure greater success in the economy with direct contributions. It will benefit all Canadians, not just a certain group of Canadians. It is wide open in that sense.
The second area where we have really made some improvement is in the small and medium-sized businesses. As we know, small and medium-sized businesses in Canada are the backbone of our economy. We must ensure that they are successful and that we give them the tools to ensure that success. That is exactly what we have with this deal.
Let us look at how this this deal will affect my province of Nova Scotia. We can look at the CETA deal, for example. Ninety-six per cent of tariffs on fish and seafood are eliminated. In manufacturing, tires had a tariff of 4.5%, and that is gone. It is now zero percent. Machinery and equipment had tariffs of up to 8%. That is gone. Agriculture and agrifood, such as blueberries, had tariffs of up to 9.6% and now have zero tariffs. Maple syrup, which we are extremely well known for in Canada, now has zero tariffs.
These trade deals are extremely important. Our government has been a leader from day one. We are continuing on that. We have signed the CPTPP, with access to over 500 million people. Through both the CETA and the CPTPP, we now have access to a billion people. Again, in the CPTPP we are seeing major benefits to financial services, food, seafood, agriculture and variety of sectors.
Let me finish with a quote. A mining industry representative said, “We can’t afford to be outside of this trading bloc…It would put as at a huge disadvantage.”
It is obvious that this government is focused on the middle class and the economy. We know that 60% of our GDP is based on trade deals and these trade deals will continue to allow middle-class Canadians to prosper.
Madam Speaker, the new CIFTA includes a commitment to encourage the use of voluntary corporate social responsibility standards. I want to ask the member why this is voluntary in CIFTA.
Madam Speaker, it is because their business community has good citizens. Both countries have agreed to work with the business community so its members can be good citizens in protecting the economy, the environment and our communities. Those are major things, and it is a step in working together to ensure we will get to where we need to go.
We do not have to write it in black and white all the time. We, as two countries, can agree to work together to share the innovative principles that can be used to make those things we want to accomplish happen.
Madam Speaker, certainly, on this side of the House we are all in favour of trade. We have shown that many times throughout our time in government, and before. However, one of the comments my colleague made was about the support for small and medium-sized businesses. We certainly have shown our support for SMEs on this side. I would like to ask my colleague this: If they are so supportive of small business, why last summer did they take the approach of attacking small business and creating obstacles for small business to be able to succeed? Then finally, the Liberals reduced the small business tax after pressure from Canadians, small businesses and this side of the House. If they are so supportive of small business, why did it take all that pressure and why are they being so hard on small business owners?
Madam Speaker, as I said at the beginning of my speech, these trade deals are extremely important for the business community. This will allow it opportunities to continue to grow and prosper. That is extremely important. My job and his job and the job of the 338 MPs is to work closely with our business community to make that happen.
Let me just remind my colleague across the floor that it is this government that has lowered the small business tax from 11% to 10.5% to 10% and in April it is going down to 9%, which will be among the lowest in the world.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my esteemed colleague for his speech, which once again was dynamic and passionate.
I would like to ask him if, to his knowledge, with respect to the agreement between Canada and Israel, the bill distinguishes between the territory of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967, as called for by the UN Security Council.
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I saw nothing to that effect in the agreement. Perhaps my colleague found something.
Let us remember that this agreement is the fourth in the space of a year, and, as members, it is our job to communicate. We frequently make changes to policies to improve the lives of middle-class Canadians, but people on the ground are not always kept in the loop. It is our job to keep them informed.
Next week, we will be back in our constituencies. It will be a good opportunity to communicate directly or indirectly with small and medium-sized businesses. For example, if they are not aware of certain budget cuts, that will be the time to tell them about it. There might also be opportunities, so I will be in touch with them to find out what they want. I will be readily available to help them as their representative.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-85, an act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and to make related amendments to other acts.
There are many elements to any trade deal that can make them extremely complex, and they can be massive documents. However, today I want to focus on gender, labour and the important human rights obligations that this deal can address.
The original Canada-Israel FTA was negotiated in 1993, and has been expanded three times over the last 25 years. The last revision or modernization of this agreement was negotiated by the previous Conservative government and is now being brought into force legislatively by the Liberals, much like the original NAFTA deal and the recent CETA and CPTPP agreements.
New Democrats are supportive of the fact that this deal has a number of positive issues. One of them is that it would create more favourable conditions for exporters through important non-tariff commitments. On the trade committee we hear about non-tariff barriers far more than we hear about tariffs, as Canada is largely becoming tariff-free with the globe. It really is non-tariff barriers that we need to address to ensure that trade is flowing.
It would establish mechanisms whereby both nations can co-operate to resolve unjustified non-tariff barriers. It has provisions related to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. It would create potential new and improved market access for Canada, particularly in the areas of agriculture, agrifood, fish and seafood products. There are changes to the rules of origin that reflect many aspects of Canada’s current approach, including recognizing the presence of global value chains and the integrated nation of North American production, as well as streamlining the provisions for obtaining preferential tariff treatment.
The environment chapter is another first for Israel and would ensure environmental protections are maintained with recourse to a chapter-specific dispute resolution practice.
There is a chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises that would improve transparency and commit both parties to co-operate with a view to removing barriers and improving access for SMEs to engage in trade. It is widely understood that we need greater supports for our domestic exporters to take advantage of this. Certainly, again at the trade committee, we hear consistently that SMEs are not able to trade in the same way that large players are.
For every FTA that we are signing, our exports are decreasing with the country that we are signing. I point to the recent signing of CETA. A year on from the signing of CETA, our exports have decreased. Therefore, there are major fundamental issues that need to be addressed with the types of trade agreements that we are creating and signing onto, if they are not actually creating opportunities for Canadian businesses.
The modernized CIFTA would provide new and improved market access for virtually 100%, up from 90%, of current exports of agricultural, agrifood, fish and seafood products. In the agriculture and agrifood sector, 92% of Canadian exports would enter Israel duty-free, in unlimited quantities, under the modernized CIFTA, which is up from a current level of 83%. The agreement offers the potential for deeper, broader and more prosperous commercial relationships between our two countries. Because of these provisions, New Democrats will support this bill at second reading, but will make constructive suggestions to include crucial human rights elements, and we hope that the Liberals and Conservatives will accept our amendments at committee.
I want to talk about social issues. We are pleased with the new language and the representation of more social aspects of the deal, such as the environment, small business, corporate social responsibility, labour and gender. However, we cannot understand why, with such a progressive trade agenda for the current government, that it would not have these provisions within the text of the agreement and fully enforceable.
I want to talk a bit about corporate social responsibility. The article references again voluntary OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises that are a broad application to this agreement. This is a good first step. However, with respect to this clause, the New Democrats would prefer to see a corporate social responsibility chapter that has some enforceability and some teeth to it. When corporate social responsibility is only voluntary, how can the government plan to hold corporations to account? Those who violate human rights make a bigger profit when there is no one there to ensure that they are not violating rights. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves why this provision is only voluntary.
As I mentioned, this was the Conservative-negotiated deal, but the Liberals were truly concerned with the provisions. They could have negotiated much stronger language, as was done in the European Union-Israel trade agreement, which states:
Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.
I have to ask why the government did not bother to include a similar general line, at the very least, on human rights provisions in this agreement.
I want to talk a bit about the gender chapter. The NDP would like to emphasize, as we have in other trade agreements, that the provisions around gender and equality cannot be just limited to one chapter, especially when it is unenforceable.
As in the international trade committee, where I am vice-chair, and in committee meetings regarding other trade deals, OXFAM Canada came and presented. It called the mainstreaming of gender rights throughout the entirety of this FTA the path that we need to be on, not only relegating to one small chapter.
Gender equality does not only concern issues of women entrepreneurs and business owners. Labour rights must also address injustices to women, like pay inequity, child labour and poor working conditions.
The NDP believes that for an agreement to be truly progressive when it comes to gender rights, it must address the systemic inequalities for all women.
We also believe that both gender analysis and gender impact assessment must be applied to all trade agreements and we would like to see this in the updated CIFTA. Every trade agreement that we sign should build on the previous gender provisions that we have achieved in other deals.
I want to talk a bit about labour. We are pleased to see that there is a labour chapter, which is a first for Israel in a free trade agreement. This would help to ensure that high labour standards are maintained, with recourse to labour-specific, enforceable, binding dispute settlement mechanisms where non-compliance can lead to monetary penalties.
The Canadian Labour Congress has also made it clear that in order to equally raise labour standards and all standards in an FTA, the labour chapter must include the International Labour Organization’s eight core conventions and adhere to its decent work agenda. It also must include the creation of an independent labour secretariat to oversee a dispute settlement process when there are violations of labour rights.
The NDP also agrees with the CLC that the Government of Canada must look at due diligence for Canadian companies and funding agencies and create a framework for transnational bargaining to allow unions to represent workers in multiple countries.
Any FTA should be guided by the principle that no one should be disadvantaged. Working people cannot continue to be an afterthought in trade agreements.
Too often people talk about free trade and state that “a rising tide lifts all boats” and that simply trading with another country, they will emulate higher respect for workers, women and human rights. However, we know that is simply not the case.
When we talk about human rights there are concerns with this FTA due to the fact that there are no human rights provisions and protections and recognition of the rights of Palestinians living in occupied territories. Human rights must be a part of our relationship with Israel, rights that Canadians expect us to uphold throughout the globe. Bill C-85 does not ensure that CIFTA complies with international law. The government must respect Canada’s commitment to a peaceful and just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Last week I travelled with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and on the trip to Israel and to Palestine, she repeatedly talked about the importance of Canada’s commitment to a two-state solution. This trade agreement is an opportunity to address this issue in a meaningful way by including language that mirrors the Israel-EU agreement.
The agreement appears to cover products made in Israeli settlements and occupied territories. Neither Canada nor the United Nations recognize these settlements as part of Israel. These settlements are illegal and clearly violate the fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the settlement of territories acquired by war and the movement of indigenous people in those territories, among other things.
There is virtual global unanimity that the territories seized and occupied since 1967 by Israel, the West Bank, Golan Heights, Gaza and East Jerusalem are not part of Israel but form the basis of a sovereign Palestinian state. Those territories are a fraction of the land awarded to the Palestinian people by the United Nations partition of 1967.
As I said, New Democrats have worked for decades for a peaceful resolution in Israel and Palestine and we will continue to fight for fairness and justice for all, including within this agreement.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, there is much within this modernized agreement that is positive and that we agree with. We will work at committee to ensure respect of human rights is included in the newly updated CIFTA.
Trading with Canada is a privilege not just because of our incredible resources and products, but because of our global reputation. Fair trade can be a tool, among many others, that we use to positively contribute to the world around us. Together with our global partners, we can build a better future.
Mr. Speaker, it is not very often, when debating trade, that New Democrats indicate, or at least imply, they are going to vote in favour of legislation. I am glad to hear, if that is the case, that the NDP have recognized the importance of world trade. That is fairly significant and I want to applaud my colleague across the way. My understanding was that back in the early 1990s, they voted against the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.
That said, could my friend enlighten members on whether we can anticipate the NDP having a different take on some of the other trade agreements? The member seems to be of the opinion that all of these trade deals were done and sealed and now we are bringing in the legislation. A lot of the changes were made not that long ago, in the last year, including this agreement. The agreement was not signed off on by any stretch of the imagination.
Could the member enlighten us on what we can expect from the NDP on the trade file in the future?
Mr. Speaker, I do not think I need to enlighten the member. We supported the Canada-Ukraine deal in this Parliament and another, technical trade bill, so I would invite the member to look at the record of what the NDP has been doing in Parliament in regard to trade.
I will say, though, that details matter in agreements and I am so proud of New Democrats and the way we look at trade agreements in their entirety. We take the time to ensure that we understand what is in them and the impact they will have on Canadians. There are a lot of questions that Canadians should be asking about the types of trade agreements being signed and whether they are bringing opportunities to us. It is unfortunate that the Liberals, much like the Conservatives, are not in favour of having an accounting of where we are at with trade agreements from years past. It is something critical that we do to ensure that we are trading responsibly.
I would encourage the member to speak to members at the trade committee and support the amendments that New Democrats will be bringing forward that will reflect transparency, as well as human rights, which are critical in this particular agreement.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for that very good speech on the Canada-Israel free trade agreement.
Towards the end of her speech, she noted that the agreement makes no distinction between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories that have been occupied since 1967, which is contrary to the UN recommendation and this country’s position. According to the Global Affairs Canada website, Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967.
If that error is not corrected in this agreement, what will her party’s position be for the final vote?
Mr. Speaker, what the member stated is true. This is Canada’s position because we are a party to UN Security Council resolution 2334 that we signed in 2016, which includes two very important statements. The first is that we reaffirm “that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”. It also calls on states to bear in mind the first paragraph of the resolution, calling on them “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.
One amendment New Democrats will be proposing is something that we saw in the EU-Israel agreement, namely, recognition of the distinction made in this Security Council resolution, as well as human rights provisions that can and should be included in this agreement.
We heard some remarkable speeches today in the House from the Prime Minister, the opposition leader, the leaders of the NDP, and from the Bloc and the Green Party in apology for Canada’s turning away of the MS St. Louis.
Remarkably, right after the speeches, we heard my colleague, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, give an impassioned speech in support of concurrence with the committee report on the resettlement of Yazidi women and children in Canada. I really hope that people took notice of that. It is about the same issue, namely, people who are facing genocide in a foreign land and that we are not doing our part to help. I hope the government will listen to the comments by my colleague, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, so that Canadians do not have to sit here a generation from now to hear another apology for turning our backs on these people.
Before I get back to Bill C-85, I want to express, as I am sure everyone in the House does, my sorrow about the horror of the murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue a short time ago, an act of violent anti-Semitism and a reminder that this hatred still exists in our world today.
On a per capita basis in Canada, anti-Semitism is unfortunately still the most prevalent hate crime reported. The main synagogue in my riding of Edmonton West, Beth Israel, is a place of worship for a lot of friends of mine. I often visit for events, and I was there this Saturday for the drop-in for Shabbat. One thing I noticed as I approached was a police car across the street providing security and security at the door.
We do not see that security at any other place of worship in Canada, not at the Catholic church I attend, nor the Baptist church that one of my sons goes to for sporting events, nor at other places of worship, such as the mosque that several of my friends attend. It is only at the synagogue. It is disgraceful and very unfortunate in this day and age that this is still required in Canada, the United States, and other parts of the world.
What does this say about our society in Canada in this day and age that a synagogue still requires security? What does it say when a lunatic spouting violent anti-Semitic remarks goes out and kills 11 worshippers in a synagogue? It says that anti-Semitism, unfortunately, is still alive and well and strong.
I belong to an organization called Christians United for Israel. We have about 90,000 members in Canada. There are about 3 million members in the U.S. Why do I belong to it? Well, it is because the scourge of anti-Semitism still flourishes.
Today’s debate is on trade with Israel, and I cannot discuss trade with Israel without noting the burgeoning anti-Semitic movement in Canada called BDS, the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement, which works to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. I will call the BDS movement what I believe it is, an anti-Semitic movement.
BDS supporters, hand over heart, will claim they are not anti-Jewish, that they are just anti-Israel. I think we need to call a spade a spade. BDS supporters claim its intent is to move Palestinian-Israeli negotiations forward. Fine and dandy, but it is funny that they are oddly silent about Turkey and Iraq bombing Kurdistan. They are oddly silent about Turkish products from illegally occupied Northern Cyprus. They are oddly silent in response to calls to sanction Morocco for its seizure of Western Sahara.
I have to ask, where is the outrage of the BDS supporters about Russia’s illegal invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine? It is funny, I do not see them marching at universities over the tenfold increase in Russian imports into Canada over the last 10 years. Where is their outrage about the Saudi war in Yemen? I do not see them protesting up and down the St. Lawrence as tanker after tanker of Saudi crude sails in. However, I am sure we will see these same people screaming about the injustice of having an Israeli soda stream device for sale in a local store.
The leftists complain that Trump promotes violence with his rhetoric. I believe that BDS and its proponents do the same thing: they promote anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish messaging. To those who say they are not anti-Semitic, just anti-Israel, I say, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.
Why should we support this updated agreement with Israel? Well, Israel is the freest and most democratic nation in the Middle East. It is the only Liberal democracy in that part of the world, and reflects many of the values and beliefs that Canadians hold dear, including respect for democracy, the rule of law, tolerance of a multi-racial and multi-religious society, and tolerance of gender and sexual expression rights.
Israel is called a start-up nation for a reason. It is probably the most innovative nation in the entire world. It ranks first in the world for its attitude toward entrepreneurial risk and for the growth of innovative companies, and it is second, only after the U.S., for venture capital availability. It ranks 20th out of 140 countries listed in the latest competitiveness report for the freeness of economy. Canada can only gain by partnering and having stronger economic ties with such a country.
The fastest growth rates in Israel, averaging 8% annually, are to be found in its high-tech sectors, and 80% of its high-tech products are exported. However, despite all of this, despite its investment in R and D, despite 5.5% of its GDP going for national defence, I would like to point out to my colleagues across the way that the country of Israel still manages to have a budgetary surplus year after year.
As I mentioned, economically, Israel is a high-tech powerhouse, and we can only gain by strengthening our relationship with it. For Canadian companies, we can get improved access to it our agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports. We can get improved border efficiencies, better regulatory transparency and reduced red tape. However, it is odd that the Liberals, who are so in love with regulatory red tape and never pass on a chance to further burden our economy with it, love Israel for the fact that it is going to reduce red tape.
The bill has several new chapters. The new chapter on electronic commerce would commit Canada and Israel to not introduce tariffs and other barriers to commerce. The chapter on intellectual property would affirm commitments between Canada and Israel under the World Trade Organization to ensure proper protection of IP rights. The technical barriers to trade chapter would ensure that technical regulation, conformity assessment procedures and other standards-related measures could not be used as unjustified barriers to trade. The trade and environment chapter would ensure that Canada and Israel pursue high levels of environmental protection while realizing the benefit of liberalized trade. There is a new chapter on trade and labour, which would ensure effective enforcement of labour laws. The chapter on trade facilitation would enhance border efficiencies, increase regulatory transparency and reduce red tape for Canadian businesses. If only the government were as committed to reducing red tape in Canada as it is to trade with Israel. However, both countries would also benefit from an updated dispute settlement agreement and better rules of origin labelling.
We have much to gain from our friends in Israel. As I mentioned, it is literally the only Liberal democracy in the Middle East. It is a world leader in technological innovation. We also see that it leads in pharmaceutical innovation.
Before a friend of mine unfortunately passed away from ALS, he was a test subject who had his body equipped with a robotic walker so he could enjoy the final year of his life being able to walk. These are all advancements made by the Israeli tech industry, which is something Canada can gain from very much.
I would like to end with a quote from the great Milton Friedman about trade, who said:
The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.
I believe the amendments to this trade agreement would benefit both Canada and Israel, as well as our allies.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate many of the comments by my colleague and friend across the way.
I want to pick up on the wonderful national apology, which was long overdue, that we heard today. I sensed, not only on the floor of the House but from all of those watching in the gallery, that all the speeches given were heartfelt.
I think it is an appropriate debate that we are having here this afternoon, as we discuss the very special relationship between Canada and Israel, and the importance, not only in tangible terms of having a trade deal like this between two great countries, but also, in good part, in terms of extending a hand of friendship. Yes, there are economic benefits, but there is also a friendship benefit with a trade agreement of this nature.
As well, there are some areas that we are putting a little more emphasis on, such as the issue of equality for women and dealing with some of the inequities that might be in the current agreement.
I wonder if I could get my friend’s comments on the general thrust of my remarks.
Mr. Speaker, for a change, I actually want to thank the member for Winnipeg North for the question. It nice to need the earpiece as well to hear his question instead of his yelling.
I tease him, but I agree with him. For Canada, it is not just a trade deal. We have very deep bonds. The newest rabbi for Beth Israel Synagogue in my riding replaces the wonderful Rabbi Daniel Friedman, who was one of the architects and the main driving force behind the Holocaust memorial in Ottawa. The new rabbi, Rabbi Claman, was born in Winnipeg, grew up in Ottawa and came here after 10 years in Jerusalem.
We have a lot of ties with a lot of families. The deputy governor of the Bank of Israel is a Canadian lady from McGill. One of the youngest members of the Israeli Knesset is a Canadian-born young lady from Montreal as well.
This goes a lot deeper than mere trade ties. It reflects our shared values, liberal democracy, freedom of religion and so many other things that go far deeper than just a simple trade deal.
Mr. Speaker, does my colleague believe that this agreement between Canada and Israel should apply only to the territory of the State of Israel or does he believe that it should also include the territories occupied since 1967? What is his party’s position on that?
Mr. Speaker, a year and a half ago I was in Israel in the summer. We met with members of the Israeli Knesset and one was from the Arab list coalition. It has a proportional representation program. The member from the Arab list said that he believed the biggest hope for peace, and please do not laugh at this, was President Trump. It was not because of what Trump was doing, but because the intent was to take the politics out of it and focus on prosperity and trade. That is what he believed would move the Palestinian people forward and to a peaceful resolution, not the politics but creating wealth. This trade agreement will help create wealth for everyone over there, not just the people in Israel but in other areas as well.
Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague about a number of the new initiatives in the bill. This was a Conservative-initiated project that took place as a result of the bill we signed in 2014. Part of that bill was a memorandum of understanding to renegotiate it at this time. I am pleased to see that and a number of new chapters on labour, environment, trade, gender, small and medium enterprises. I wonder if he could elaborate on the importance of those.
Mr. Speaker, it is quite funny. Earlier we heard a Liberal member say that this was the fourth trade agreement the Liberal government had signed. That overlooks the fact that the Israeli agreement had been in existence for 20 years, and this is an update. The U.S. trade agreement, which it almost dropped the ball on, is existing free trade. CETA was 99% done. The Liberals kind of took it over the edge, despite scoring a goal into an empty net and then claiming that they were the heroes of the game. It is the same with CPTPP, or whatever they want to add to the acronym. The Liberals try to claim success for things brought in under the previous Conservative government.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Edmonton West for his excellent and relevant speech. It reiterated the position of our party, the party of free trade and the economy. I also want to thank him for sharing his time with me. I am proud to do so.
Today is a very special day. Earlier in the House, we spared a very special thought for those of the Jewish faith. We reflected about them, apologized, and acknowledged the fact that they, as a people, experienced one of the greatest human tragedies and are still standing. I have a lot of respect for the Jewish people.
Unfortunately, on October 27, a synagogue in Pittsburgh was attacked. That is unacceptable. It reminds me of the massacre at the mosque in Sainte-Foy, where people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time fell victim to barbaric acts. These types of attacks are unacceptable in a civilized society. The government needs to put measures in place to eliminate as much as possible these barbaric acts motivated by race and religion.
Today I will be speaking to Bill C-85, an act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and to make related amendments to other acts. We, the Conservatives, are the party of the economy, as I said at the outset. We are very proud of the markets that we opened up and developed. We are consistent, and we not only talk the talk, we walk the walk. We are going to support this bill at second reading because it is important to create trade routes, and this is one of them.
As a long-standing trade partner to Israel, Canada has a duty to continue this business relationship. Israel is a major market for Canadian goods and services. The relationship between Canada and Israel is based on shared values and interests. Canada derives tangible benefits from this strong relationship.
First off, with regard to security, Israel is an island of stability amid the turbulence that engulfs the Middle East. The knowledge and experience that Israel and Canada share are ever more important. We all know that in our modern world, threats do not stop at national borders. The security agreement signed by Canada and Israel in 2008 under Mr. Harper’s Conservative government has permanently established this collaboration, which is so beneficial for Canada.
Second, there is the economy. Since 1996, Canada and Israel have had a free trade agreement that has significantly boosted trade between the two countries.
Third, there is technology. Israel has the second-largest concentration of high-tech companies after Silicon Valley, in the United States. Israel is a model of innovation. I would add that when I had the privilege, as a parliamentarian, of visiting Israel and Palestine, I observed that the people who live there are determined, intelligent and highly skilled. Canadian start-ups should take a page from their book.
Israel has an impressive approach to supporting and encouraging start-ups. For example, universities are involved in developing start-ups, and there risk is part of the equation. We should be looking at allowing more risk when it comes to start-ups in Canada, because when a company becomes a world leader, even if it is just one in a hundred, that definitely gives us an advantage.
It is therefore in our best interest to come up with a model for start-ups that aligns with the Israeli model.
We are already linked through the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation, or CIIRDF. That foundation takes in proposals for R and D projects in all areas of technology that have no military or defence applications. There is however a special focus on projects in aerospace, agriculture and processed food, financial services, information and communications technologies, life sciences, oil and gas, and sustainable technologies. These relationships are beneficial for both our countries.
The Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA, was signed on July 31, 1996 and came into force on January 1 of the following year. It has therefore been in effect for more than 20 years. This bill seeks to expand the scope of the agreement and deliver on negotiations that were launched in 2010 and 2014. In July 2015 Canada and Israel concluded negotiations on reduced tariffs on all agricultural products, investment protection mechanisms, sanitary measures, intellectual property and non-tariff barriers.
The Government of Canada website on the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement states, under the heading “Modernization overview and chapters”:
In July 2015, Canada and Israel completed negotiations to update four chapters in the Agreement: Dispute Settlement, Goods Market Access, Institutional Provisions, and Rules of Origin. The Agreement was also expanded to include seven new chapters: E-Commerce, Intellectual Property, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade, Trade and Environment, Trade and Labour, and Trade Facilitation.
That, to me, shows that three years were wasted updating an agreement that had been signed in 2015 under the Harper government. I might add that the protocol amending the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement was signed three years later in Montreal on May 28, 2018, but has yet to come into force. Until that happens, the 1997 free trade agreement continues to apply.
The discussions concluded in 2015, and we are now nearing the end of 2018. That means we wasted three years. This government’s sluggishness has cost us billions of dollars. The Conservative government is the one that negotiated the agreements, while the current Liberal government is just patting itself on the back and signing the agreements.
Let us not forget the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. This multilateral free trade agreement, which was signed on February 4, 2016, aims to integrate the economies of the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas. The negotiation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership began in 2008 under the Harper government. In June 2012, Canada and Mexico joined the negotiations. On February 4, 2016, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed. It must now be ratified by 12 countires, and that process is still under way. Once again, this shows how slowly things move under the Liberals.
Then there is the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA. Who put that in place? Once again, it was the Harper government. It was the Conservative Party, the party that understands the economy and seeks to open new trade routes. I think that is a very legitimate thing to do since our neighbour to the south is unpredictable. Unfortunately, again this morning, I read that our Prime Minister announced that we are going to sign the agreement with the United States even though the tariffs on steel, softwood lumber and aluminum have not been lifted.
It is good to sign agreements, but we need to use our bargaining power. Unfortunately, when this government signs agreements, it uses our agreements and our objectives and simply continues the work we started. Things would not have gone the way they did with the USMCA if the Conservatives were in office.
Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the member across the way is trying to rewrite history. We can share some of the credit. A good example would be the Ukraine trade agreement. There was a lot of work done on both sides, by the Conservatives and this government, to ensure that the deal was actually signed off. The Prime Minister was in Ukraine to further advance that sign-off. To imply that the comprehensive and progressive trans-Pacific partnership agreement was complete is wrong, not to mention CETA, with Europe, which was virtually off track. Our most capable and able minister, who helped secure the agreement with the United States, was in Europe trying to get it back on track.
It is important to recognize that we have some of the best trade negotiators and civil servants in the world when it comes to this, and it should be highlighted on all sides of the House.
As the Liberals will want to take credit and the Conservatives will want to take credit, we should at the very least join hands and acknowledge our negotiators.
Mr. Speaker, let’s not get into a debate over who is the best. I just want to say that, as parliamentarians, we have to rise above partisanship and forge international ties so we can get free trade deals that benefit Canadians.
With respect to the latest agreement, the USMCA, Canada was the last one to get to the negotiating table. Negotiations took 13 months. Unfortunately, the negotiations did not eliminate all irritants. There are American taxes on aluminum, steel and softwood lumber. There are consumption taxes on products here.
As I have said in the House before, a business in my riding with headquarters in Canada does manufacturing in the United States. This Canadian company produces chewy granola bars in the United States and has to pay taxes to export its products to Canada. That is unacceptable.
I think we need to rise above partisanship to accelerate the process that gets us the best free trade agreements with several different countries.
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague’s speech. In the first part of his speech, he tried to make a clear distinction between the Conservatives and the Liberals. I would group those two parties together and include the NDP, because when it comes to developing trade agreements that enable our business owners to export and grow, we all agree. Where we differ is that the NDP is wondering why we are not using these international treaties as leverage to advance human rights.
The proposed new treaty makes the adoption of corporate social responsibility standards voluntary. The Liberals and the Conservatives take the exact same approach. There are no protections for the people whose resources are being taken.
Have things changed under the new Conservative leadership, or do they still support the same approach taken by Mr. Harper and the previous Liberal government?
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Trois-Rivières for his interesting question.
Our job as parliamentarians is to improve bills. This evening, I allowed my colleague to share his thoughts on the bill introduced by the Liberals. We are currently at second reading of Bill C-85, and we are debating this bill because we want to make things better. I hope his message was heard.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-85, which implements the new Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.
Earlier today, the House acknowledged the atrocities suffered by the victims of the Shoah, particularly the passengers of the MS St. Louis. Because of a heartless policy, indisputably motivated by anti-Semitism, Canada prevented these 907 passengers from finding refuge here at home. We all bear some responsibility for what awaited them when they returned to Europe.
Ironically, this afternoon we are discussing Bill C-85 to modernize the free trade agreement between Canada and Israel. In 1939, Jews did not have a country they could consider their own, where they could be confident they would be safe. Maybe that is what made them so vulnerable and almost wiped them from the face of the Earth, victims of the madness of some and the indifference of others. Today, almost 80 years later, they have a prosperous country and we are talking about modernizing a free trade agreement linking Canada and Israel. We have come a long way.
We note that Bill C-85 is not introducing free trade between Canada and Israel. It is updating an agreement that has existed since 1997, so for 22 years. Israel is one of the first countries in the world with which Canada reached a free trade agreement. In terms of trade, Quebec and Israel have a lot in common. Israel is a modern country, one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, especially in communication and information, and so is Quebec. In any given year, between 40% and 45% of Canada’s technology exports originate in Quebec. Also, Israel is a global leader in the electrification of transportation. Quebec is poised to become one. The only thing missing is a little boost from Ottawa.
In those two areas and in many others, there are numerous and logical linkages between Quebec and Israeli companies. That is why we will be supporting Bill C-85 at second reading.
That said, I want to point out an anomaly in the agreement as drafted that must be corrected. Although we are supposed to be debating a free trade agreement between Canada and Israel, that is not what the text states. In fact, this seems to be an agreement with Israel and the occupied territories. By ratifying the agreement as written, Canada would be in some way recognizing that the occupied territories actually belong to Israel. Such a position is in contravention to Canada’s foreign policy, international law and the will of the UN Security Council.
To properly understand this point, let us look at the history. In 1947, the United Nations adopted a partition plan in order to create two states in the territory of British Palestine: a Jewish state, which today is Israel, and an Arab state, which would become Palestine. Unfortunately, things were not so simple.
Arab countries rejected the partition plan, war broke out, and to the surprise of many, the Israeli army forced back the Arab forces throughout the territory. It was in this context of war that the State of Israel was created. When the warring parties agreed to the ceasefire in 1949, the international community accepted the ceasefire line as the Israeli border. Palestine, however, was not born. Egypt occupied Gaza while Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. There was no peace, however, this was just a ceasefire.
After years of tension, war broke out again in 1967, and Israel, after driving out the Arab armies, began occupying all the Palestinian territory.
Since 1967, the conflict has been frozen. The international community’s position has not changed. The State of Israel’s territory is what belonged to it in 1949. The rest of the territory it occupies does not really belong to the country. Any change should be the outcome of a bilateral agreement, not a bilateral agreement between Canada and Israel such as the one we are discussing today, but an agreement between Israel and Palestinians.
Canada supports the international consensus. As the Global Affairs Canada website states:
Canada does not recognize Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem. …Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967…. Israeli settlements in the occupied territories… constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.
Canada’s position is clear. It is in line with international law, which the Bloc Québécois fully supports.
That is why I mentioned an anomaly earlier. The free trade agreement appears to deviate from that stance. Article 1.7 specifies that Israeli territory is the territory where its customs laws are applied.
An occupied territory is a territory on which laws are imposed and enforced. This is the very meaning of an occupation.
The agreement as is includes the occupied territories, and in particular the settlements. It states that they are part of Israeli territory, which is at odds with Canada’s foreign policy.
When the agreement was signed in May, the Minister of International Trade said the following to The Canadian Press: “In international trade law, the way a territory is defined is the physical territory where the customs laws apply.”
However, this does not have to be the case. Europe chose to make its trade policy comply with its foreign policy. Article 83 of the Europe-Israel free trade agreement quite simply states that the agreement applies to the territory of the State of Israel.
There has been no movement in the Israeli conflict, and it is festering. As settlements continue to grow, it becomes increasingly difficult for Israel to put an end to the occupation, and it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve what everyone here in this House wants, which is for the two states to live in peace, side by side, within recognized borders.
The UN Security Council understood that well. It also understood that a provision like the one in the agreement does not promote peace. In resolution 2334, which was passed unanimously in December 2017, the Security Council called on all states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.
Quebeckers are friends with Israel, but they are also friends with Palestinians. Above all, they care about peace. That is why, after passing Bill C-85 at second reading, we will ensure this anomaly is corrected.
Mr. Speaker, in anticipation that this bill will ultimately be passing, it is encouraging to see the type of support for what I believe is a fantastic piece of legislation. There are some very progressive aspects to the bill.
We have seen a very positive trade agenda from day one with this government. We have highlighted Ukraine, the EU, the comprehensive TPP, and the new trade agreement with the United States and Mexico. The real beneficiary of all of this is Canada’s middle class, and those aspiring to be a part of it, from getting into those markets.
We are the only country in the G7 that has these trade agreements with all the other G7 countries. It is a very powerful statement. It is encouraging to see what appears to be virtually unanimous support for the legislation.
I would ask my colleague across the way if he would provide his thoughts on how important it is that we get these trade relations with other countries around the world, because they will enhance opportunities for our businesses, creating great opportunities for job growth here in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and comments.
The Bloc Québécois does indeed recognize the importance of having fair trade deals for all parties. This puts me in mind of former Quebec premier Bernard Landry, who passed away yesterday. He was one of the first people to speak out and say that for Quebec, it is important to get involved in global trade. As he noted, half of what Quebec produces, roughly equivalent to half our economy, is due to our exports.
Quebec is a small, open economy. For us to have so much wealth and so many jobs—I am thinking of our technology shift and our high-tech and high value-added jobs—it is vital to have trade deals with other partners. Half of Quebec’s wealth depends on it, so it is very important.
I would remind my colleague, however, that all too often, including in the last three major deals—the one with Europe, the new TPP and the new NAFTA with the U.S. and Mexico—major sectors of the Quebec economy were offered up as bargaining chips without adequate compensation from our point of view and that of Quebec. Obviously, I am talking about our farmers, our dairy producers and other supply managed producers. Breaches were opened in this sector, which is supposed to be protected. There is great inequity, which must be compensated.
However, I am very pleased to have moved a motion in the House that was unanimously adopted. It calls for full compensation for all supply managed producers before the new USMCA is ratified in the House. We will be following this very closely.
Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague who is from Quebec, as am I. Indeed, Quebec is a nation that is dependent on international trade, as he said. I would like to hear his thoughts on the USMCA and dairy producers.
Two committees are going to be struck, specifically to ensure that dairy producers are adequately compensated and to hear from the sector as a whole. I would like to hear my colleague’s thoughts on the two consultation panels that have been created.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles for her question and her concern for our farmers.
Our farmers do not like being compensated. They tell me that they did not want to be sacrificed in the agreements, but that is what happened to them in the last three agreements. I am pleased to hear today that there are two consultation panels, but unfortunately I fear that the consultations will not end with full compensation for the sacrifices they made in the last three agreements. Nevertheless, it is a very good start. Let us hope that this leads to full compensation and that the House will never again sign trade agreement in which our dairy farmers and other supply managed farmers are sacrificed.
In my speech I announced that we would support this bill at second reading, but that we would propose an amendment to ensure that the land occupied since 1967 is excluded. I would have liked to know whether the Liberal Party members will accept our amendment.
Is the House ready for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): In my opinion the yeas have it.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): Call in the members.
I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on International Trade.
Nothing to report.
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