Standing Committee on International Trade

Comité permanent du commerce international

EVIDENCE number 58,
Témoignages du comité numéro 58



Thursday, April 26, 2007 - Le jeudi 26 avril 2007

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    The Chair (Mr. Leon Benoit (Vegreville—Wainwright, CPC)): Good morning, everyone.

    We're here today, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade is undertaking a study examining the opportunities and challenges Canadian businesses face with respect to the Canada-U.S. relationship.

    The committee is specifically interested in identifying and removing the obstacles that stand in the way of stronger economic ties with the U.S., and to answer the question: what can the Government of Canada do to help Canadian businesses take better advantage of trade, investment and business opportunities?

    Before I introduce the witnesses for today I do have a couple of other items of business that I do want to quickly mention, the first is the issue of travel. The dates that were given, somehow the dates given by the clerk and the dates I and the committee had been talking about throughout the discussion were different. I'd always been talking about the Thursday of the first week in June as the starting point, which makes it June 7, and those certainly are the dates the committee was discussing. So, just for the record, the travel will be from, roughly, June 7 to June 19.

    I'll get to you, Mr. Julian.

    The other thing is, there may be a motion coming up towards the end of the meeting, we'll deal with that at the time. It's certainly up to the member. I'll ensure that there's been proper notice given of that.

    Mr. Julian, you had a question or a comment on the travel issue?

    Mr. Peter Julian (BurnabyNew Westminster, NDP): No, just simply, I move to refer the travel issue to the steering committee.

    The Chair: I don't understand your comment.

    Mr. Peter Julian: We have a motion coming up later in this committee hearing. Rather than avoiding the witnesses, I simply move to refer it to the steering committee.

    The Chair: I don't know if there is an issue, but if there is, certainly, it can be brought up later. I was only clarifying those dates.

    Mr. Peter Julian: Well, Mr. Chair, actually, you need a discussion and a vote on that issue, so I move that we refer it to the steering committee.

    The Chair: It may be something we'll talk about later, Mr. Julian.

    To the witnesses here before us today, I will introduce the witnesses and we'll have the presentations in the order of the introduction.

    We have here from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Clifford Sosnow, Partner, Blakes, Cassells & Graydon, and Brian Zeiler-Kligman, Policy Analyst at International. We have from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, David Stewart-Patterson, Executive Vice-President. We have from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Bruce Campbell, Executive Director.

    I'd like to thank you all gentlemen, for coming today. I'm looking forward to your presentation. The clerk has discussed with you the amount of time you're allowed for the presentation. I ask you to stick to that time.

    If we could start, then, from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Clifford Sosnow, go ahead.

    Mr. Clifford Sosnow (Partner, Blakes, Cassells & Graydon, Canadian Chamber of Commerce): Thank you, Mr. Chair, members of the committee.

    Recognizing the time differential, I'll break right into our comments. I understand that these have been passed to you in both English and in French. For the most part, I will be sticking to that text.

    Just to repeat the introduction, my name is Clifford Sosnow. I am the co-chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's international affairs committee, partner at law firm of Blake, Cassels & Graydon. I have Brian Zeiler-Kligman, policy analyst. Of course, after our presentation and when questions are asked, both Brian and I will be more than happy to respond to those questions as fielded.

    We are pleased to provide input on the vital issue of the Canada-United States relationship. I think it's fair to say that our relationship with the U.S. is extremely complex, with literally thousands of agreements, consultations and discussions going on at any one time. As you well know, in our new security environment, all issues are tempered by the need to balance North American security and competitiveness. Frankly, our ability to achieve both is very much tempered by the tone and the strength of that overall relationship. In our respectful submission, moving that relationship forward is of the utmost importance.

    Now, we must keep in mind that the degree of our integration is such that we do not just sell to each other. We are not two separate entities that have no linkages, other than trade. The reality is, we make things together.

    For example, the classic example is each vehicle that's produced in North America crosses the border approximately seven times during the production cycle, and so as result, effectively dealing with the Canada-U.S. border is a cornerstone to our ability to keeping this important relationship strong and progressive. Again, it is not an us/them equation, it is a both equation.

    Balancing security and competitiveness, developing a border contingency plan, improving border infrastructure, and further regulatory cooperation are all interdependent strategies to enhancing the Canada-U.S. relationship. Further, the successful implementation of these initiatives can better position Canada in the U.S. market, and enhance North American competitiveness generally vis-à-vis other established and emerging economic forces. We make that point cognizant that this is one of the key issues that you are looking at: how do we manage that relationship given the threats from China, from India and Brazil, recognizing also that those are valued and cherished trading partners?

    The border contingency plan, if I can speak a few moments on that. A pandemic, a natural disaster, or terrorist activity, any of these could lead to a partial or full border closure. The border's importance means a strong contingency plan to deal with such a situation needs to be put in place, and it's not yet there. That said, the Canada Border Services Agency, through the impressive work of its officials—and they usually get brickbats at them, but the Canadian Chamber is showering them with flowers on the work that they're doing—and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection are developing a border contingency plan through consultations with industry in both countries. We definitely applaud that initiative. We also applaud the additional $24 million that has been provided to further develop this plan.

    You should know that, earlier this month, the Canada Border Services Agency and their U.S. counterpart engaged in a simulation exercise with our participation, and paradoxically it was a success, because it highlighted the failures. Clearly, more work is needed, and most evident was the need for both governments to work in tandem with business groups, such as the chamber, to develop a communication plan to ensure that businesses on both sides of the border are informed on who and what can cross the border, both during an emergency and as the border ramps back up to normal operations.

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     The reality is, though, that work still needs to be done on establishing a framework for determining which goods and people qualify for priority status and we would urge speedy resolution of that issue.

    If I can speak a few minutes to border infrastructure, we must also do more to improve that infrastructure. It's almost a trite proposition, but it's also a vital proposition. Since 2001, estimated processing times of shipments have increased 300 percent, and that represents at least $14 billion USD in annual costs to both economies, just simply because border infrastructure is lacking. It's that simple.

    The growing number of border-related requirements clearly indicates that more must be done to increase border capacity in such areas as extending the number and length of fast lanes and the hours of full operations at key crossings.

    Currently, 40% of trade between Canada and the U.S.--and I'll remind this committee that $2 billion in trade goes between Canada and the U.S. every day--occurs at the Windsor-Detroit crossing. So in our view, an additional crossing is urgently needed.

    The budget in 2007 provided for the federal component of this investment, but talks are still going on, so we urge this House to move forward quickly on this initiative. At the same time, we caution that this new bridge-crossing process must ensure that it is structured in such a way that it offers a fair option to the existing infrastructure. We would not want to see the new bridge create a zero-sum gain with respect to existing infrastructure.

    Investments to ease capacity and efficiency problems are also needed at many other crossings, including, in the Richelieu area of Quebec, and in particular the Lacolle-Champlain gateway. That clearly is an issue that the chamber thinks needs urgent renewal.

    In addition, Canada has only one marine-based pre-clearance site located in Victoria, British Columbia, but that terminal lacks infrastructure necessary to maintain passenger sterility and vessel security. And as in consequence, we have been told that the site is at risk of losing its pre-clearance status from the United States.

    We would urge this committee to urge the House to make the investments necessary on the terminal, as required. Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec are some of the major sore points with respect to badly needed infrastructure changes.

    I'm conscious of the time and I'll try to speed up a bit. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is one of the most contentious border issues that there is between Canada and the United States. As you all know, this initiative concerns the need for a passport to cross into the United States.

    There has been progress made to date, and we do applaud that progress and we support the efforts of the government and of the House to encourage the U.S. to delay the next phase of implementation of this initiative until a pilot project has been undertaken and analyzed.

    At the same time the reality is, the WHTI, particularly at land crossings, is going to happen and we can't get away from that. So as a result, we ask the government, at the officials' level, to do the job that it needs to do to properly prepare for what we consider to be the likelihood of a flood of passport applications. We saw that recently with the air deadline. And there must be a quick rollout of a communications strategy to ensure that all travellers are properly informed on what documents are required and when the new initiatives will be implemented.

    Finally, we encourage the expansion and promotion of the NEXUS program and the FAST program to fast-track the movement of regular and low-risk travellers. The reality is, those programs will minimize the impact of the WHTI.

    I have two more points. Regulatory cooperation will facilitate the movement of goods and people at the border. What we're talking about here right now when we talk about regulatory cooperation is what has been referred to constantly as "the tyranny of small differences" between our regulatory regimes that impose significant costs on Canadian manufacturers, exporters, transport carriers, and Canadian and foreign customers, negating the benefits of the hard-fought tariff negotiations that you have all negotiated.

    Differences exist among others regarding health and safety, technical, environment, and product packaging and labelling standards.

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    Mr. Clifford Sosnow: Again, we would encourage greater regulatory cooperation in that area.

    We would note that areas begging, and we use that word advisedly, for further cooperation include the auto and food industries and for the defence industries, greater cooperation in the area of the U.S. international traffic in arms regulations, and we can respond to questions on those specific issues as needed.

    Finally, with respect to intellectual property protection, from a Canadian perspective, there is a lack of adequate intellectual property protection and enforcement. The reality is this affects all Canadian industries and presents a health and safety risk to consumers, to society in general. Just last month the chamber appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security and we did advocate for changes to our IP laws and enforcement for the benefit of all Canadians, not just business, all Canadians.

    Canada's poor record on IP protection is also affecting our relationship with the United States. In the past few weeks the senior House Democrats sent a letter to the President requesting that the U.S. initiate a WTO complaint against Canada for what they say is our weak copyright laws. For both our interests and the sake of our most important relationship, we would urge the Canadian government to make improvements in our IP environment a priority so that it is up to the standard of our international trading partners, in particular, the United States.

    These are my concluding remarks, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. We all recognize the vital importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship and the large number of potential areas for further enhancements. We have provided you with some areas where the Canadian Chamber of Commerce urges this committee to recommend to the House and the government to focus on: enhancing relationships dealing with border facilitation, regulatory cooperation and, of course, the corollary to that, intellectual property protection.

    Thank you for this opportunity to present the Canadian chamber's views.

    Of course, at the appropriate moment, we would be more than happy to respond to any questions you may have.

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Sosnow, from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

    We have now, from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Mr. Stewart-Patterson. Thank you very much. I look forward to your presentation.

    Go ahead.

    Mr. David Stewart-Patterson (Executive Vice-President, Canadian Council of Chief Executives): Thank you for the opportunity to appear and discuss with you the Canada-United States relationship. As many of you probably know, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives has been a strong supporter for decades of efforts to make the border between Canada and the Government of Canada less rather than more of a barrier to both people and goods.

    However, if you look back to the 1980s in the days before the original Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, the main goal at that point was simply to ensure better access for Canadian companies to the huge market to our south. Today I'd suggest to you that the efficient flow of goods and services and of people between our two countries does more than give Canadians better access to the U.S. market, what is does is enable companies on both sides of the border to work together, as my colleague from the chamber said, to compete more effectively against the rest of the world, and particularly, compete against some of the new emerging economic powers out there like China and India, which are essentially transforming patterns of trade and investment around the world.

    At the same time, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 ushered in a new era in which security became the focus of public policy in the United States. Despite that, we had a recognition by decision makers in both countries that economic security and physical security had to go hand in hand. That led, initially of course, to the smart border accord between Canada and the United States, a similar one between the United States and Mexico.

    As we've gone on, since the past five years, we've really had to recognize that, as my colleague pointed out, while goods coming into North America face only a single customs inspection, goods that are produced within the continent often cross the border several times as they set a flow from raw materials through intermediate processing and eventually become finished goods. So, every measure that adds to the cost or time to cross borders within North America amounts to a tax, a tax on enterprises in both our countries, attacks on jobs in our countries, and attacks on investment.

    A clear understanding of this reality is essentially what led governments to agree to the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America at the 2005 summit of leaders in Texas. I think it's remarkable because there are two sides to the SPP. It is both a strategic, visionary document, and at the same time, a very pragmatic, practical one.

    Strategically, the SPP recognizes that the growth of all three of our economies requires much stronger cooperation if we're going to enable companies to continue to invest, create jobs, to build global businesses from bases in communities within our countries. In a very practical way, it also recognized that there's no great appetite for another grand bargain on the trade front. On the other hand, there is room for a lot of progress in little ways.

    The focus of the SPP on issues that can be addressed without the need for treaties or new legislation has led some critics to portray as a kind of grand bargain in disguise, but the underlying principle of the SPP, I would suggest to you, is simply to encourage a common sense approach to deal in practical ways with practical issues that can help the economies of all three countries do better.

    The initial SPP agenda included some 300 items. Many of these represent very small steps and individually won't make much of a difference. On the other hand, even 300 small steps, if we take them all, add up to a pretty giant leap for North America and without any need for a grand bargain.

    When leaders met in Cancun last year for the first anniversary of the SPP, they recognized that more direct advice from the private sector would be helpful in driving progress on the measures that would actually make the most difference, be most effective in enabling North American companies to attract investment and create jobs. The result was the creation of the North American Competitiveness Council, the NACC, a trilateral advisory body made up of business leaders from all three countries.

    The leaders decided that the NACC should function fully independently of governments and therefore requested NACC members to seek secretariat support from outside government. That was done in each country. My council is pleased to be acting, serving as the Canadian secretariat to the NACC.

    One the NACC had been appointed, it moved very quickly. By August last year members had agreed to focus on three strategic priorities in their first year: border facilitation, regulatory cooperation and energy integration. Over the next four months the secretariats consulted broadly across the business communities in all three countries. A draft report to ministers was ready by early December. That was hashed out in the final report, representing a strong consensus across the business communities of all three countries, was approved in January 2007.

    The report makes a wide variety of recommendations, more than 50 in all. The section on border facilitation makes recommendations in four areas: emergency management, expansion of border infrastructure, the movement of goods and the movement of people.

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    On the regulatory front, the report supports the goal of completing a North American Regulatory Framework Agreement this year, and makes specific calls for action related to food and agriculture, financial services, transportation and intellectual property. And in the energy section, the report calls for trilateral measures related to cross-border distribution systems, human resource development and clean energy technologies as well as offering some thoughts on how Mexicans might work within their own country to accelerate development of their impressive resource base.

    Across all three areas, the NACC also urged governments not to slip into reverse to allow borders within North America to become more rather than less of a barrier to goods or to people. It highlighted two specific issues. First was the impact of the United States Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative on the movement of people and the lineups at passport that we've already seen at passport offices that we've already seen as a result, and also the new inspections and fees being imposed by the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS.

    The NACC presented its report to the responsible ministers from all three countries at a meeting here in Ottawa in February. It's a public report. It's available on multiple websites. I brought copies with me for every member of the committee in case you haven't seen it yet. I just wanted to emphasize that it is public and has been public for months. I'm interested if there's any comments on that front.

    I have to say the government's already are taking action on these recommendations. The 2007 federal budget responded directly to two of those recommendations in particular. The first was the elimination of withholding tax on cross-border payments of interest through the Canada-U.S. tax treaty. The second was expanded investment in new capacity at the Detroit-Windsor border crossing. My colleague has addressed that already.

    We're also seeing progress on other issues although it seems to be somewhat uncertain at times. I would like to suggest to you that the most critical one here is the pilot project for land preclearance. This is something that has been on the books since the original Smart Border accord. The notion of moving customs processing for commercial traffic away from the physical border is a critical step if we want to ease congestion at those major land crossing. My understanding was that, as of the beginning of this week, a whole host of contentious issues had been ironed out. We were down to a single issue, but we're sort of at a make or break stage and I am still awaiting information as we speak here as to whether that's been worked out or not. I certainly hope so.

    Mr. Chairman, I might just note here my colleague from the chamber sort of touched on a number of issues, emergency management, border infrastructure, the western hemisphere travel initiative, regulatory cooperation, intellectual property. These are not just important to Canadian businesses. I think perhaps the most important contribution of the North American Competitiveness Council is that with its first report we now have a position that is the formal and public consensus of business communities across all three of our countries. In other words the business communities of Canada, Mexico, and the United States have looked at where we can agree, and where we can speak with one voice to our respective governments. We're hoping that has a positive effect in enabling our three countries to work together more effectively at the government level and to achieve the objectives that leaders have set for us.

    The members of the NACC will be reporting formerly to leaders ahead of the next North American summit, which is scheduled to be hosted this summer by Canada. And as they move into the second year of their mandate, they will be considering further practical ways to help companies and communities across North America compete more effectively within the global economy.

    Mr. Chairman, I will leave my opening remarks there and look forward to your questions.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Stewart-Patterson from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.Our final presenter here today is Mr. Bruce Campbell from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

    Go ahead, Mr. Campbell.

    Mr. Bruce Campbell (Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives): Good morning, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Thanks to the committee for at least beginning to investigate the Security and Prosperity Partnership. As you know, it's the umbrella for a vast array of security and economic related initiatives underway to further integrate the North American market. It is a NAFTA-plus or a deep integration initiative. As David said, it's not a grand bargain-type negotiation like the NAFTA was; it's an incrementalist project. It's an executive branch to executive branch project. Legislative change is not expected, at least not directly. But despite it's incrementalist nature, the cumulative effect of the SPP , over time, could be profound. It could be even more significant than NAFTA, depending on how far and how fast it goes. And so that's why I think it's important that you're focusing on this.

    I'm concerned about the process, like many others. You will hear from some of them in the coming days. I'm concerned about the lack of transparency, the lack of pubic input. I'm concerned about the privileged access that big business has under the new body, the NACC , established by the SPP. We have superficial information about it, about the project, about the SPP, but not a sense of what's really going on. I'm sure there's lots of useful and important and beneficial work being done, but I'm also concerned that hidden by the sheer size and scope of the project, that there are things underway that may not be so beneficial and that they may privilege private interests over the public interest. And, in any case, Parliament can't debate and Canadians can't debate this until we have a better idea of what's going on.

    I'm also concerned about substance, namely the free market model of integration that's being pursued. All the rhetoric that we hear around the SPP is about ever-deeper market integration to increase competitiveness: the integration of energy markets, reduction of regulatory burdens—regulation is always described as a burden—and all of this to enhance business freedom. I never hear talk about measure that say would encourage upward harmonization of labour standards, environmental standards; measures that would encourage productivity gains to be distributed fairly to workers; tax measures that would prevent corporations from engaging in transfer pricing; tax measures that would discourage shifting of profits to tax havens. So this type of cooperation is not on the SPP agenda and it begs the question: prosperity for whom?

    Finally, I'm concerned about the shrinking of Canadian policy autonomy under the SPP. The SPP is a process of convergence or harmonization of policies and regulatory regimes for the purpose of reducing impediments to business. And given the huge power imbalance between Canada and the U.S., I can't help but think that harmonization means, in most cases, Canada bending its regulations or simply adopting U.S. federal regulations, and I ask the question: at what point does the narrowing of policy room to manoeuvre fundamentally compromise democratic accountability in our political system?

    Those are some of my general concerns. In the few minutes that I have left—and you'll be hearing from others about a range of issues from water to energy etc.—I want to focus a bit on regulatory cooperation, which is really, as I said, about regulatory harmonization. It's proceeding on two tracks: the comprehensive track, which has been discussed, and then there's a number of sectoral regulatory initiative from energy infrastructure to pesticides, biotech, pharmaceutical process, and I really hope that you will be requesting briefings on the status of these initiatives.

    A couple of specific concerns. The SPP leader statement, back in 2005, on regulatory cooperation, and subsequent statements, make it clear that it's mainly about cost and competitiveness considerations. The considerations of protection—I'm interested in public interest regulation here—they're given a subordinate place. So we have the regulated industries, not the regulators; they have a privileged place at the table with the NCC. That's of concern to me.

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    It's another manifestation of a shift that's been going on in the last four years under the Smart Regulation Initiative, which is really a deregulation initiative. It involves a shift of basic approach or basic philosophy to regulation, which is called the precautionary principle, the primacy of protection, towards a risk-management approach, which gives equal weight to business-cost considerations. There's been a serious weakening of the precautionary approach. This has occurred over the objections of many environmental and health groups. Most recently, it's been embedded in the government's new regulatory policy that was revealed a few weeks ago, the government directive on regulations. So now the structures are in place, and I'm concerned that they'll facilitate a regulatory harmonization process in a direction aligned with the Bush administration's aggressive deregulation agenda, and that this will further compromise the precautionary approach and accelerate deregulation within Canada.

    My other concern, for purposes of my presentation, has to do with the outsourcing of regulatory functions to the U.S. The business Advisory Committee on Smart Regulation in 2004 advocated taking advantage of what it called the superior scientific and regulatory capacities of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and focusing its scarce resources on strategic priorities.

    The tri-national business report on North American integration in 2005 advocated immediate adoption of a tested-once policy for biotech products and pharmaceuticals, whereby a product tested in one country would automatically be accepted as meeting the standards of the others.

    So my question is, is the SPP moving towards a tested-once policy for pharmaceuticals and biotech products? Does it mean a downsizing of our own testing and research capacity, and accepting those of the U.S. FDA? How wise would it be to outsource such a vital government responsibility to a U.S. body whose safety record has been widely criticized and which is seen as under the sway of the U.S. pharmaceutical lobby? It seems to me that this is tantamount to importing deregulation.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation, Mr. Campbell.

    We will go directly to questions.

    From the Liberal Party, the official opposition, Mr. Bains, for seven minutes.

    Hon. Navdeep Bains (MississaugaBrampton South, Lib.): Thank you very much, chair, and thank you very much, all of you, for coming here before the committee today. I'm glad that we had a balanced perspective presented today, which is very important.

    Just to kind of highlight some of the remarks made by Mr. Campbell, we met with department officials as well and I brought forth some of the concerns he alluded to with respect to transparency, accountability, and with respect to the process. These concerns have been raised not only here in Canada with the Security and Prosperity Partnership, but also in the United States, as well as in Mexico. There seems to be concern among legislators, the general public, civil societies, about this. I think the primary concern has to do with the limited or exclusive executive level access to some of these discussions that take place when some of these agreements are talked about or some of these partnerships are talked about. In your opinion, Mr. Sosnow and Mr. Patterson, do you acknowledge these concerns? If so, do you have, in your opinion--I'd like to hear from you--how do you think we can improve the process to include and engage other key stakeholders in terms of the going-forward process?

    Mr. David Stewart-Patterson: If I may, I think the leaders established the process in 2005. It was a very public process. It made it clear from the beginning that the intention was to move forward, as Mr. Campbell suggested, not through any great leaps, but in very practical, incremental ways. Last year, in establishing the North American Competitiveness Council, leaders essentially recognized that areas like regulation and border management are highly complex, and given the sprawling number of potential items for action, they would benefit from advice from those who would be most directly affected. In other words, if you've got a limited amount of time and attention that a government can bring to a broad agenda, you want to look at what actions we can take, and how best we can use time and resources that are available. In serving those outcomes, the governments have decided what advice is going to be most useful. It seems to me that if you're dealing with issues of the nature that are being dealt with under the SPP, leaders simply turn to ask for advice from those with the most relevant expertise, and that's their option at any time.

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Ms. Sosnow.

    Mr. Clifford Sosnow: Thank you, sir.

    My colleague, Brian Zeiler-Kligman, will respond to your question.

    The Chair: Mr. Zeiler-Kligman, go ahead.

    Mr. Brian Zeiler-Kligman (Policy Analyst, International, Canadian Chamber of Commerce): Thank you.

    Certainly the Canadian Chamber of Commerce always advocates for consultations on important public policy issues. We're a big advocate and feel the government should be consulting with business and other key stakeholders on these issues.

    With specific reference to the SPP, in the last six weeks the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been approached by both Industry Canada and the CBSA seeking input as a consultation on the SPP process, being given indications that the government departments viewed the NACC as one consultation that was coming in, and that they were welcoming input from other sources. It was our understanding from these discussions that already the government is undertaking wider consultations as well. We see this process already happening.

    Hon. Navdeep Bains: I appreciate that. I just wanted your opinion if you felt other stakeholders that are maybe being excluded from the executive level process should be included. I know the onus is with government in terms of incorporating them into it, but I wanted to get your perspective on that.

    I have limited time and will proceed with my next question.

    It has to do with an issue you raised. I don't think, Mr. Sosnow, you mentioned it in your presentation, but I believe Mr. Stewart-Patterson did with respect to our natural resources, specifically the issue with respects to water distribution.

    I travelled abroad with the minister to the Cairns Group discussions and had an opportunity to meet with countries, especially Pakistan and India. I asked them how they viewed Canada and what our competitive advantage was. Consistently across the board in every discussion I had they always said we were a country of natural resources, full stop, period. We're done a very poor job of branding ourselves outside of North America.

    My concern in North America, as well as many people in the United States, many law makers and individuals view us simply as a country of natural resources as well. I think we have to be very cognizant and mindful of that.

    There's been some concern, it was written about today as well, with respect to water supply, water consumption, and water transfer and distribution. What assurances can you give to make sure this is a competitive advantage that we have as a nation?

    This is a public good and something important for our future prosperity and for future generations to come. What assurances can you give to us in committee that when those discussions take place, and I believe they will start tomorrow, of how that very precious commodity will be protected in our best interest?

    There's no doubt in my mind if China and India are looking at our natural resources, I'm almost certain that the United States and Mexico are as well. I just want your opinion on that.

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    The Chair: Go ahead, Mr. Stewart-Patterson.

    Mr. David Stewart-Patterson: If I may, I will speak very plainly to the issue of water. The NACC did not consider water as an issue at all. It was not a subject of discussion. It was not a subject of any of the recommendations that were made.

    The area of the NACC chose to focus on was energy specifically. Frankly, the vast majority of the discussion about energy dealt with issues within Mexico. Members of the NACC were very cognizant of the fact these are decisions that Mexicans have to make for themselves and that it is their sovereign jurisdiction.

    The main impact for Canada, for instance, were very practical things like we currently have a very vibrant energy sector, but it's short of skilled people. Mexico, because of its restrictions on the development of its own resources, has a surplus of skilled people. Can we enhance or facilitate the temporary movement of those people so that we can work on our labour shortage for now while helping Mexicans develop and bring their skills up to the highest possible level so that they're ready to work more effectively in Mexico when the time comes?

    If I can, I'll speak more generally, not to the water issue so much, but to your second point.

    Hon. Navdeep Bains: My second point was simply on what assurances you could give. I know that discussion will come up. There's think tanks in the United States that have talked about water supply from the northern part of Canada. They want to divert that water supply throughout the United States. I know they've made many recommendations on this in the past and this has come up in discussions.

    I wanted your viewpoint, as well as Mr. Campbell's. Has Canada staked out a position? Have any of these discussions taken place? I know there's future meetings that will come up where the discussion will take place and I wanted to get your perspective on that.

    Mr. David Stewart-Patterson: Specifically, there was a reference in the media this morning to a meeting that has nothing to do with the North American Competitiveness Council, or for that matter with my council. I'm not aware of what's on the agenda or who's there. It's not part of the official process.

    I will make one further point. The Canadian members of the North American Competitiveness Council are consciously aware of their responsibilities, not only as people trying to contribute to a trilateral business consensus, but also very much aware of their responsibilities as Canadians. Canadian members of the NACC have met separately with Canadian ministers and officials to talk about Canada's priorities within that trilateral consensus.

    I can assure you that going forward, as Canadian members of the North American Competitiveness Council continue their work, they will be functioning wearing both hats. They will be looking for places where all three countries can work together more effectively, but they will be very much taking into account what they see as Canadas's best interest.

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Bains. Your time is up. Your time is more than up, you're a minute over.

    Monsieur Cardin, for seven minutes.


    M. Serge Cardin (Sherbrooke, BQ): Merci, monsieur le président. Messieurs, bonjour.


    The Chair: There is a translation device.


    M. Serge Cardin: Merci, monsieur le président. Encore une fois bienvenue.

    On s'aperçoit que les personnes témoins sont diversifiées aujourd'hui. Nous avons le Conseil canadien des chefs d'entreprise, la Chambre de commerce, ainsi que le Centre canadien de politiques alternatives.

    Il est certain que vous ne vous entendez pas sur certains éléments ou certains point de vue. Cependant, il faut quand même comprendre, si on se réfère au Partenariat pour la sécurité et pour la prospérité, qu'en 2005, les objectifs, étaient d'établir une approche fondée sur la coopération, élaborer une stratégie commune en matière de sécurité, favoriser la croissance économique, la compétitivité et la qualité de vie.

    C'est un peu dans le secteur de favoriser la croissance économique et la compétitivité qu'il y avait des éléments importants de cités, c'est-à-dire, accroître la productivité, réduire les coûts du commerce, améliorer l'intendance conjointe en matière d'environnement et faciliter le commerce en agriculture. Sur ce dernier point, en fonction aussi que les pays avaient convenu de consulter les intervenants, dont les milieux d'affaires, les gouvernements d'États, les municipalités et les organismes non gouvernementales. Je veux savoir où en est le processus de consultation? Qui y participe réellement? Quand cela commencera, si ce n'est pas déjà commencé?

Á  (1150)  


    The Chair: Mr. Cardin, is your question directed at any particular witness?


    M. Serge Cardin: Le monsieur qui représente les chefs d'entreprise sur le conseil.


    Mr. David Stewart-Patterson: If I may, we really only looked at the food and agriculture part of the agenda within the context of the regulatory priority. In other words, when members of the NACC established their priorities for their first year, they looked at border facilitation, they looked at regulatory cooperation, they looked at the energy sector. The work after that was limited to those areas.

    Food and agriculture issues were considered within the regulatory framework, but as you can see in the report, it was limited to some very specific items in terms of labelling of fortified foods, eliminating duplicate food safety audits, health claims on labels. In terms of the kinds of issues that were being addressed, that's what was being looked at. There was no measure contemplated in the first year of discussions that dealt with changes to agricultural markets, for instance, nothing that was trade-related that way.


    M. Serge Cardin: De par votre réponse, je dois comprendre qu'il n'y a pas de mécanisme de consultation. Quand vous faites référence à l'agriculture, l'étiquetage par exemple, je suis persuadé que si vous alliez dans le sens du non étiquetage, vous savez très bien que la population est majoritairement en faveur de l'étiquetage.

    Je reviens donc à ma question initiale. Il n'y a pas de processus de consultation. De plus, il semble qu'en agriculture 4 000 produits chimiques utilisés aux États-Unis et qui sont interdits au Canada. Cela veut dire que si vous parlez de prospérité et de sécurité au Canada, pour des questions de prospérité, est-ce que les États-Unis, avec le poids qu'ils ont, vont dire à propos de ces produits: « Il faudrait que le Canada accepte des produits qui utilisent ces produits chimiques ou l'inverse. Le Canada devrait dire aux États-Unis: « Nous n'importons plus vos produits agricoles qui utilisent des produits chimiques ». On va s'apercevoir qu'il faut également, un moment donné, consulter d'autres personnes que quelques ministres des États-Unis, du Canada ou du Mexique. Il faut consulter des organismes qui veulent défendre l'harmonisation des conditions de travail, de l'environnement et de la santé, si on prend par exemple les produits.

    Pour revenir à ma question — monsieur Campbell, vous pouvez également répondre parce que vous connaissez également l'état de la situation — est-ce qu'il y a ou qu'il y aura, comme on l'avait prévu en 2005, une façon de consulter d'autres personnes que des gens qui veulent faire de l'argent?

Á  (1155)  


    The Chair: Mr. Campbell.

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: Thank you for the question. It's a very good question.

    As I look at the report of the NACC, which has been passed around, when it talks about regulations it talks about a North American default provision, a North American regulatory standard and that it should be the one that is utilized.

    In the case of chemicals, as you mentioned, then the question arises what happens in the case that there are certain chemicals in food and in cleaning products that are illegal in Canada, which the regulators have determined to be such, and there's a different standard in the United States, what regulatory standard then applies. Is it going to be the U.S. one? Given the size difference, my concern is that it will always be biased in favour of the U.S. one. Would it be a higher regulatory standard? Is there a principle? There's a negotiation going on, as you know, for an overall framework agreement for regulatory harmonization. Is one of the criteria that the countries will foster an upward harmonization of regulatory standards?

    These are really important questions. I favour cooperation, but I don't favour capitulation.

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Campbell.

    Merci, Monsieur Cardin.

    Mr. Allison, for seven minutes.

    Mr. Dean Allison (Niagara West—Glanbrook, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I want to thank the witnesses for being here today.

    I have a couple of thoughts that I'd like to get out on the record and then I have a question for Mr. Stewart-Patterson. It's good to see you back again.

    I need to be clear in terms of this process. This last question talks about, well, are we going to consult those who aren't making money. I think, wow, I mean, this is about businesses that employ people in this country who need to earn a living to make things happen. The challenge I have is that we have businesses where I come from in the Niagara--and Mr. Maloney will attest to this--that while the Liberals were in government, we had issues at the border. We had fresh cut flowers that couldn't get across because we didn't have an inspection process in place or a pre-clearance program, etc. Thanks to Mr. Maloney and his government they were able to go government-to-government to make this happen and actually start facilitating these goods.

    I think what people fail to realize is that this is a collaborative process. This is to enhance the security, prosperity, and quality of life because small businesses--I've got a news flash for you guys--employ people, and this is how things happen. You want to talk about the criticism of lack of public consultations, I mean, any changes to regulations or laws is not up to anyone doing the consultations. It's still going to be left to parliamentarians, an all democratic process. What I see here is a way that we can facilitate how we can move goods and services across the borders. Once again, 85% of our goods--these are all numbers we all know and we look at what is going on. We talk about transparency, and yet, we have all kinds of stakeholders involved. I realize, Mr. Stewart-Patterson, you've already made reference to the North American Competitive Council.

    As I continue to look and wonder, people fail to realize it is small businesses that are affected when we don't work cooperatively with our largest neighbour. We're not talking about changing legislation. What we're talking about is how can we be able to facilitate legitimate goods across the border in a timely fashion.

    When I look at some of these things it always boils down to people. It boils down to the fact that there are families working for small businesses that are trying to send their goods and services across the border. This is not some great conspiracy theory. We have some of our members who would like to fight with softwood lumber. We need to hold out when we have people who are not working and money that is being tied up.

    I just want to state this for the record before I actually move on to the question that I have. It is directed to you, Mr. Stewart-Patterson. Back in January the Minister of Public Safety talked about over $400 million for an e-manifest program and trying to enhance this whole initiative of risk assessment and these kinds of things. The example I used before is a great one. Mr. Maloney and I in the Niagara have fresh cut flower producers under greenhouses that if they're stuck at the border for 48 hours because they can't pre-clear the programs, those products die. They're worth nothing, and they're useless.

    I would just like you to comment a little bit on this e-manifest program and what it means to other businesses. Certainly, I can tell you what it means to a business that has perishable products. Talk to us about what this could mean in terms of overall trade.


    Mr. David Stewart-Patterson: I think e-manifest is an excellent example of the kind of very practical approach that members of the NAC from all three countries are strongly in favour of. In fact, if you look at some of the recommendations and discussions dealing with the movement of goods across borders within North America, and goods into North America as well, the conversion from paper to electronic products is clearly a critical element of that.

    I'm strongly supportive of the work that's ongoing. Indeed, I think it's fair to point out that in some cases the recommendations being made by members of NAC were acknowledging that important work is being done by governments and we're simply putting a trilateral business endorsement on this saying, look, this matters to the future of businesses in all three countries, and therefore, the future of communities in all three countries.

    If I may just respond to your comment as well because it addresses the question Mr. Campbell asked earlier in his presentation. He was sort of saying, prosperity for whom, as in suggesting that the SBP somehow was not producing prosperity for Canadians. I think that's a residue of older times when there was still worries in this country about whether we could compete with companies based in the United States. That is always an issue for Canadian companies. It's a big market. It's a competitive market. It's a challenge for anybody who wants to do business. I think we're also recognizing that there are even tougher competitors out there in the world who are transforming what Canadians buy on the shelves of the stores every time they go to the market.

    The real issue is what kinds of jobs are Canadian communities going to be fostering in the years and the decades ahead. I think what the SBP recognizes and certainly what the goal of members in the North American Competitiveness Council, again, from all three countries is, is to enable people in communities in Canada, in the United States, and in Mexico to do the best they can creating better jobs with better wages and salaries, better living conditions, better quality of life, because we're doing the best we can to work together and take on the rest of the world.

    The Chair: You have about a minute and a quarter left, Mr. Allison.

    Mr. Cannon, do you want to comment?

    Go ahead, please.

    Mr. Ron Cannan (KelownaLake Country, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    I'll continue on in the next round, but for just for this particular minute and a half, I thank you, presenters for your presentation.

    Just briefly, you can start and I'll continue on in my next round. Dealing with this committee for the last three months or so, we heard numerous witnesses coming together. We are building a trade strategy to help enhance trade not only with North America but around the world, and we've heard clearly the fact that there are challenges with the regulatory standards with both Canada and the U.S. Upon reading and researching it, the Americans have a lot of concerns as well. Maybe you could comment. Are all Canadian standards higher than the American's, or are American standards higher than ours? Where are we at? I'm hearing the Americans are just as concerned as Canadians.

    The Chair: Mr. Zeiler-Kligman.

    Mr. Brian Zeiler-Kligman: Thank you.

    Certainly, in terms of Canadian standards and U.S. standards, they're not uniform in everything and a lot of commentators indicate that Canadian standards would actually have to rise in order to meet U.S. standards in most instances, so it is not an issue necessarily racing to the bottom.

    I also want to stress the fact that what we're talking about is regulatory cooperation, not just harmonization. In fact, the announcement in January that Mr. Allison spoke of, also contained two other funding announcements that were very important toward regulatory cooperation, which are important programs and issues to highlight what we're talking about here. One of the announcements was for funds to help the Canadian Border Services Agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency harmonize and came together and cooperate on their programs for registering companies crossing the border, their partner in protection and the C-TPAT program, and rather than having two programs that essentially do the exact same thing operated by each country where a company has to register twice, go through the process twice, they're looking for the exact same thing. They're doing the exact same thing, trying to actually put these programs together to create that kind of efficiency.

    That's what we're talking about with regulatory cooperation as well.


    The Chair: Thank you very much, your time is up, Mr. Cannan and Mr. Allison.

    We'll go now to the New Democratic Party, Mr. Julian, for seven minutes.

    Mr. Peter Julian: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Thanks to all witnesses for coming forward today. Thank you, particularly to Mr. Campbell. That was an excellent presentation that you made.

    We have a real problem in this country and it was admitted to by foreign affairs and international trade on Tuesday where they simply admitted, for the first time, that what we've actually seen in this country since 1989 is poor Canadians getting poorer. In fact, there's an erosion of income in real terms that affects 80% of Canadian families, so since 1989 we've moved to a situation where 80% of Canadian families are earning less now in real terms than they were now. We know that over time ours has skyrocketed 33%, so ordinary working families are working harder and harder, longer and longer hours, going from temporary job to temporary job, part time job to part time job. This doesn't seem to be addressed by any of the public policy put forward by the previous government or put forward by this current government.

    My question is for you, Mr. Campbell.

    Since we seem to have a situation where our trade and economic policy is made for CEOs and for corporate lawyers rather than for most Canadian families, we have a situation where most Canadian families are earning less now than they were in 1989. If that's not a failure on the bottom line, I don't what could be.

    Do you see anything in this strategy, in what you've been able to find of it, which addresses this growing and severe prosperity gap?

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: I've been a critic of the NAFTA that's been in place for a long time. I've been a critic of model of integration that the NAFTA embraces, and it's not alone. There are other policies too, but the combination of those policies interacting with other has in part been responsible for a growing inequality in this country, levels of inequality that we haven't seen since the 1920s.

    Yes, there are--

    Mr. Peter Julian: Sorry, so you're saying that we're seeing the same level of inequality now as we saw prior to the Great Depression?

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: That's right.

    That's what the evidence suggests. We are a rich country. We've gotten significantly richer in the last 10 to 15 years and yet you still have almost half of Canadians feeling the sense of insecurity from our polling research and our analysis, that almost half of Canadians believe they're only a pay cheque or two away from poverty.

    A large majority of families are running harder to stay in the same place. It's only at the top 10% or even narrower, the top 5 or 1% especially where there's been spectacular gains, where they've seen significant gains.

    So there is this sense of insecurity and a sense of running harder to stay in the same place. So I reiterate the question I posed at the beginning, prosperity for whom? I don't see anything in what's moving forward that would assure me that measures are going to be taken even from an integration standpoint which will enhance the living standards for the vast majority and better the lives of the vast majority.

    I suggested some measures that I think would have a positive effect, but I don't see them on the table for the SPP right now.


    Mr. Peter Julian: Of course, I'm a member of the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce and the Burnaby Board of Trade. Small business people are the most impacted when middle class and working families actually see their incomes decline. So what we really have is a strategy that seems to benefit the largest companies, those most inclined to want to downsize jobs in Canada rather than the small, local businesses that really need to have a prosperous middle class in their community in order to thrive.

    I want to move on to energy integration. I don't know if you saw the excellent piece by Gordon Laxer this morning in The Toronto Star around Canada's energy insecurity talking about energy integration where Canada's basically given up its ability to manage its own energy resources. Do you of any other country in the world that gives another country preferential access to its energy resources to the detriment of its own citizens aside from Canada?

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: I find it curious that Canada almost alone among the oil producing and exporting countries has not used it as a tool of diplomatic leverage and in fact seems to have pretty much surrendered that option. So we are in the curious situation now, we don't have a strategic petroleum reserve in Canada, almost half of our energy is imported and yet we're exporting a huge amount, almost two-thirds of our oil production south of the border.

    So we don't have energy security and we don't have anything in place to enhance energy security.

    Mr. Peter Julian: How many industrialized countries do not have a strategic petroleum reserve?

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: We're a net exporter, but we're also a huge importer, so for developed countries that are huge importers, I think we're probably the only one.

    Mr. Peter Julian: Yes, which would be quite appalling--

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: The U.S. has a huge strategic reserve. East of the Ottawa River 90% of our oil consumption is from imports, from the North Sea and a growing percentage from the Middle East, from Algeria and Iraq. So we have no contingency measures in place in the case of disruption of supply.

    Mr. Peter Julian: So in that case, because of the proportionality clauses of NAFTA, if there's a shortage of supply in Canada, Canadians would literally freeze in the dark while we supply the American market because of the proportionality obligations that we have now which would be worsened under this energy integration where we simply hand over energy policy to Washington, D.C. and the Bush administration.

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: We are locked into--

    The Chair: I'll ask you for a very short answer, please. Mr. Julian's time is up.

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: We are locked into exporting a certain proportion now. It's almost two-thirds of our oil and gas export and close to 60% of our gas exports. It becomes extremely difficult under the proportional sharing arrangements to change that situation. So we have an energy security problem.

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Campbell.

    We go now back to the official opposition Liberal party to Mr. Maloney, for five minutes.

    Go ahead, Mr. Maloney.

    Mr. John Maloney (Welland, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Mr. Stewart-Patterson, in your presentation you referenced the Smart Border Accord, which was signed in 2001 and which was a good step towards border issues in-between the United States and Canada. In 2007, it still hasn't been implemented, as you are aware.

    Also, in both presentations—Mr. Sosnow's and yours—reference was made to the need for additional border infrastructure specifically the Windsor–Detroit area, the Buffalo port area, the Peace Bridge also has a plan for renewed infrastructure. The problem is that they can't proceed with building new bridges because they don't know how to design their plazas. They don't know whether the cross-border accord is going to be in or going to be out. After they design their plazas, they have to get environmental assessment approval, based on these plans.

    I was happy to hear, Mr. Stewart-Patterson, that this has boiled down, in your opinion, to one outstanding issue on having this implemented, the Smart Border Accord. What is that issue? How can we as parliamentarians facilitate to remove that, if we can?

    Mr. David Stewart-Patterson: I have to say that my knowledge on this file is limited. There are negotiations ongoing at this time, as I understand it, so obviously I don't know what's being said at the table. As I understood it, say, as of the beginning of the week, the outstanding issue dealt simply with the question of how to deal with people who approached an American officer at a pre-clearance facility, were chosen for secondary questioning and chose not to proceed. I'm not an expert in terms of the legal issues and constitutional issues involved in that. But my understanding was that was the only question that was still outstanding, as of the beginning of the week.


    Mr. John Maloney: Would a solution be to make the pre-clearance area, not an international zone, but a co...?

    Mr. David Stewart-Patterson: That's the whole question with this pre-clearance facility. The question is: On whose ground are you standing and therefore what constitutional requirements have to be respected and so on? One of the early issues that had to be dealt with was the question of whether border guards could or should carry guns while on this pre-clearance terrain. That one's been resolved, but....

    Mr. John Maloney: Mr. Sosnow, do you have a comment, sir?

    Mr. Clifford Sosnow: Thank you, sir.

    That is one of the issues. The other issue is, as you correctly pointed out, that environmental assessments have not yet been done. Interestingly enough, locations have not yet been chosen, and these are frankly very fundamental yet enormously basic decisions that come before a discussion of the pre-clearance issue which raises complex constitutional and complex legal arguments. What we're simply saying is, “Can we not agree, as a committee, to recommend to the House that it move with all due haste, in terms of site selection, in terms of environmental assessment and in terms of frequency of meetings to ensure constitutional jurisdictional issues are rectified sooner rather than later?”

    Mr. John Maloney: My understanding is that the Peace Bridge, Buffalo, Fort Erie and also the Thousand Islands have been designated as pilot projects, but we want to move beyond the pilots to universal implementation when we're required to cross our border.

    Mr. David Stewart-Patterson: Yes, if I may, I think you're right.

    The pilot project was designated for the Buffalo crossing area, and obviously the fact that it's been held up for so long, since the original Smart Border Accord, is very frustrating, not only because it's holding up efforts to deal with infrastructure and congestion at that crossing, but because we need the pilot projects underway and completed in order to sort of spread the process of land pre-clearance to the other major border crossings as well. So this is sort of one of those little things that's holding up a very important piece of the border puzzle.

    Certainly I would urge members of the committee, from all parties, if you want to focus attention on one border issue that the government really needs to bring its full force to bear on, and to work hard with the United States to get this thing resolved and get this project underway without delay, you'd certainly have our support.

    Mr. John Maloney: How am I doing, Mr. Chair?

    The Chair: Mr. Maloney, your time, actually, is up.

    Mr. André for five minutes.


    M. Guy André (Berthier—Maskinongé, BQ): Bonjour. J'ai écouté avec soin l'ensemble de vos propos. J'aurais une question à vous poser. Présentement, à l'intérieur du programme de sécurité et prospérité, combien d'hommes d'affaires y a-t-il qui représentent les trois pays? Ce sont des hommes d'affaires à l'intérieur de cette structure. S'il y a des hommes d'affaires, parmi ceux-ci combien y en a-t-il qui ont des intérêts autant au Canada, aux États-Unis et au Mexique? On sait que la circulation des biens amène également des localisations d'industries qui se promènent d'un pays à l'autre. Dans un premier temps, j'aimerais qu'on réponde à cette question.

    Ensuite, il y a toute la question du chapitre 19 de l'ALENA. Nous avons eu la crise du bois d'oeuvre qui a affecté notre industrie de façon importante. Vous savez que la réglementation, des négociations et des litiges du chapitre 19 sont très importants. Il s'agit d'une question qui se pose présentement beaucoup. Nous avons vu que, dans l'accord sur le bois d'oeuvre, la validité a été très minime lorsqu'est venu le temps de faire une entente. Est-ce que les questions contenues dans les chapitres 19 et 20 de l'ALENA sont des questions que vous étudiez présentement ? De plus,en ce qui concerne le Protocole de Kyoto, est-ce qu'à l'intérieur de votre structure vous regardez ensemble les moyens que l'industrie devra prendre au cours des prochaines années pour diminuer les émissions des gaz à effet de serre dans le contexte que ce ne sont pas tous les pays qui veulent ratifier le Protocole de Kyoto et pas tous les États des États-Unis? Comment discutez-vous présentement de ces questions?



    The Chair: Mr. Campbell, if you could respond first, please.

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: Thank you very much.

    Mr. André, I think you've asked an important question. Specifically in your reference to softwood lumber and chapter 19, this committee held a lot of hearings on the softwood lumber agreement. I happen to think, and a number of members of the committee, I think, agreed with me that it was not a good agreement for a number of reasons. One of those reasons was that it would give the United States an effective veto over Canadian policies.

    I just got some recent correspondence here from the Office of the President's to the Minister of International Trade, and they're asking for consultation because they believe the policies which have been put in place, for example, by the Quebec government, are contrary to the agreement, so, the $436 million, another program in support of regional development in Quebec, $75 million, $44 million that are intended specifically for forest workers. These are indications that it holds a veto power and will determine, and shape and limit the ability of our governments to apply policies in the best interest of workers and businesses in the industry.

    On the question of Kyoto, and I come back to what I was talking about earlier about regulations, if, as it seems the NACC is recommending that there's a North American default standard that should be accepted and that regulation should comply with that standard, we have different international commitments with respect to the reduction of greenhouse gases and Kyoto treaty commitments, if something like that is in place, how are we able...? Regulation is a very critical part of implementing a protocol like that. How are we able to have the flexibility to apply a range of regulatory instruments that would be effective in reducing greenhouse gases if there is this North American standard that limits our flexibility?

    So, those are real concerns.

    The Chair: Mr. André, your time is up.

    We now go to Mr. Cannan, for five minutes.

    Mr. Ron Cannan: Thank you, again, Mr. Chair.

    Thank you.

    I just wanted to comment on one of the discussions that was taking place earlier regarding the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' report. It did have some really interesting information about the fact that, working with statistics, the Canadian economy doubled in size in the past 25 years. Average real family earnings increased from 60,000 to $70,000 from the late-seventies to the early-2000s. In fact, the poor are demonstratively not getting poorer. These are according to the report's on statistics. The poorest 10% of families with children are 8% better off, in real terms, than they were 25 years ago. That's from your own report. There's over 3 million net new jobs in Canada created and this bilateral trade relationship with Canada/U.S. is the largest in the world. Approximately 80% of Canadians lives within 160 kilometres of the border. There's mentioned, Mr. Sosnow, over $2 billion in trade per day, 37,000 trucks, 300,000 passengers.

    Coming from British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley, movement of goods and services are not too far from the border, passports, there's a big concern. I need to know a little bit more, from your perspective. What did we learn from this exercise that took place, sort of looking at some recommendations that you might have gained from the opportunity to experiment on communication plans? You looked at developing a communication plan to ensure that businesses on both sides of the border are informed on who and what can cross the border during an emergency.

    Obviously, communication is key for businesses to understand what they have to do to help eliminate their freight being tied up for 10 days at the border, costing us money. Maybe you can elaborate a little bit more. What did we learn and how can we share that information with our constituents?


    The Chair: Mr. Sosnow, go ahead, please.

    Mr. Clifford Sosnow: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    With respect to that particular exercise, one of the big faults, if I can put it in those terms, is the sharing of information. In particular, there was a software that was used. We're getting down to the nitty-gritty here, but there was software that was used. This software was supposed to create links that would be portals to allow businesses to understand what the governments on both sides of the border are doing to ramp up the border, to close the border. That software, to put it diplomatically, just was not working properly at all.

    So the kind of information that needs to get out to the widest possible distribution, in very, very basic terms: what are governments doing and what do I need to know to get my product across the border, and when can I get that product across the border just has not been done, that basic government communication function.

    Then, of course, the issue—and we discussed this earlier in my comments—of the need to have a sense of: there has been a shutdown, there will be a ramp-up, what goes across first, when we're identifying people, who can go across first, when we're identifying goods, what kind of goods can go across first, and how much, and using what methods of transport? These are real nuts and bolts kind of nitty-gritty issues, but, frankly, they just haven't been worked out yet.

    Mr. Ron Cannan: So will fruitful simulation continue to have those as we move closer to implementing some sort of consensus, then?

    Mr. Clifford Sosnow: Yes.

    Mr. Ron Cannan: Just one other, before I pass the floor to my colleague, Mr. Wallace. There was a comment earlier about the importance of insuring that Canadians stand up for sovereignty. I know Mr. Day was quoted in the paper today. There was some discussions about traffic flow over the Buffalo, New York border. What happened is the Americans, they would have to give up critical inspection tools to comply with Canada's Charter of Rights, and Minister Day said, “No, way, we're standing up for the Canadian Charter of Rights”. So it's an example of how the Americans are going to have to, instead of battle to the bottom, raise their levels to Canadians standards.

    Mr. Wallace, I pass the floor to you.

    The Chair: You have about 30 seconds, Mr. Wallace.

    You can take the next round, though, of course, but go ahead.

    Mr. Mike Wallace (Burlington, CPC): Just on my 30 seconds, Mr. Campbell gave an example of regulation dealing with approval of drugs south of the border or north of here, and whether we should be.... I'll give you a personal example of my mother-in-law. There was a drug in the United States that was approved, had been tested, had to wait to be a clinical trial here. Now, thank God, it saved her life—and I'm not just saying that, it actually saved her life—but it's exactly the kind of work that I think we should be doing: try to find an opportunity to work with our partners south of the border, so that if it is only tested only once and we're sure that the test is accurate, the health of Canadians, for example, can be expedited by that kind of work. I think it's a good thing we should be doing, and not a bad thing.

    The Chair: I'll take that as a comment, Mr. Wallace. Your time is up.

    We will now go to the final questioner on the first five-minute round.

    Mr. Julian, five minutes.


    Mr. Peter Julian: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    What Mr. Wallace didn't mention were all the cases where the Americans fast-tracked pharmaceutical products that turned out to be harmful, and afterwards, had to remove them from the market. So we're actually putting Canadians in danger if we don't have a sober, second thought, a testing system that is not subject to manipulation by the pharmaceutical industry.

    I'd like to come back to Mr. Campbell. Your comments about the regulatory framework, we've discussed.... Some members have referenced the egregious softwood sellout, where Canadians now have to go to Washington to get approval on any programs to help softwood communities, even though we've now lost 5,000 jobs, and counting, as a result of this very poor agreement. We talked about energy integration earlier, which means the same thing--Canadians going to Washington to negotiate access to our own energy resources.

    I'd like to come back to the regulatory framework. Some of the things that have been thrown around by some of the other presenters--health and safety regulations, environmental regulations, and labelling standards--are things that Canadians feel very profoundly about. Many Canadians are concerned about not having a genetically modified food-labelling law so that we would know when there are genetically modified foods in products.

    If we continue to lower our standards to lower American ones, whether it's pharmaceutical products and accepting dangerous products in Canada or not being able to have the kind of right-to-know labelling that many Canadians feel very strongly about, is it not true that, essentially, it would mean Canadians would have to go to Washington to lobby--right now, the Bush administration--for the kinds of standards and protections that many Canadians feel are important for their health and the health of their families?

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: I think this regulatory harmonization issue is really important. Let's call it what it is and dispense with the Orwellian terms of cooperation, because I think what this is does is go well beyond it in certain places.

    If it is about recognition, or mutual recognition of standards, let's see the mutual recognition agreements. These agreements are incredibly difficult to negotiate.

    Regulation is a vital function of parliamentarians. It's been defined as a subordinate form of legislation, or a delegated form of legislation.

    My concern on the sovereignty question is that, over time, the room to manoeuvre gets narrower and narrower, and at a certain point we realize that we don't have the ability to regulate or legislate in the best interest of the country as determined by, for example, our health regulators or environmental regulators. It's a real concern for me.

    It's doubly concerning because of what we're regulating to, especially with the current administration in Washington, which has embarked on a very aggressive deregulation initiative of gutted air standards.... I could go through a long list of regulations that they have either weakened or eliminated...regulatory capacity that they've reduced. And I worry that this is a form of importing a deregulation agenda south of the border.

    Mr. Peter Julian: So in a sense, we'd be gutting the protections that Canadians have decided, as a society, they want to have in place.

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: Yes. Let's go back to drugs. Are you suggesting that we have...?

    I've heard a trade negotiator say this, “Just get rid of the 900 people over at Health Canada and have, maybe, a dozen people looking at what the United States is doing or what other countries are doing”, and basing their criteria for drug approvals on that basis.

    Are we talking about gutting our regulatory capacity? Is this what it's about?

    Mr. Peter Julian: Are you familiar, Mr. Campbell, with any case where there has actually been an enhanced protection?

    In the transport industry, I'm familiar with this push to lower our standards to lower American ones. That means fewer flight attendants to actually assist people getting off planes in emergencies. It means companies, on their own, taking over safety management and doing whatever they want with it. These are the kinds of things that we see.


    The Chair: Mr. Julian, your time is up.

    Mr. Peter Julian: Do you see any areas where there has been an improvement.

    The Chair: We will now to Mr. Temelkovski for five minutes for the official opposition Liberal party.

    Mr. Lui Temelkovski (Oak Ridges—Markham, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you very much gentlemen.

    I'd like to ask a number of questions in terms of the estimated processing time of shipments. Are you aware of what the figures were prior to 2001, from 1995 to 2001, for example? Were they on an increased, decreased level?

    Mr. Brian Zeiler-Kligman: Yes. This was actually from a report by the coalition for secure and trade efficient borders, which was a coalition of about 50 business from both sides of the border who are studying the issue and actually their final report was in 2005 because they sort of gave up on this issue, but the numbers within there were that prior to September 11, 2001 estimated processing times, and this of course varies depending on the shipment and other factors, averaged about 45 seconds and that at this point as of 2004, which was when the latest data was available, the processing times had gone up to 2 minutes and 15 seconds.

    Mr. Lui Temelkovski: Thank you.

    You mentioned infrastructure as a capacity or as a reason for the delays and you also mention infrastructure as part of the solution to the delays. Do you think infrastructure is part of the problem?

    Mr. Clifford Sosnow: If I may, I think if you look at the border as a wall and we talked about this before, when we talk about infrastructure we talk about doors through that wall--access points--and the reality is that if your door is jammed, you're not going to be able to get into your house and the more doors you have the easier it is to get into the house and the easier it is to get into the house and the easier it is to get out of the house.

    The reality is that Canadians want to trade with the United States. The reality is that our trade grows every single year and it is not just big business. When the trucks go over that carriers the produce of the farmers, it carries the produce of labourers and small business, but when you have doors that are creaky, when you don't have enough doors, you create the proverbial bottlenecks with all the attendant frustration, with all the attendant costs.

    So you're quite right when you say infrastructure is the problem, but from our perspective infrastructure is the problem because there are not enough doors, if I can put it in those terms, to manage that pressure to want to trade and the doors that are there, the infrastructure that is there, is fast becoming obsolete.

    Mr. Lui Temelkovski: Is it due to legislation or is infrastructure going to solve most of it or was it legislation that made this time increase from 45 seconds to 2 minutes and 15 seconds, firstly. And second, if I could put in my question, have you seen growth such as this in transferring goods and people across borders in other jurisdictions such as Europe, China, India, Brazil. Are their timings of moving goods and people increasing similarly to our numbers or are they somewhat insulated from the issues that we have to deal with in North America.

    Mr. Clifford Sosnow: Those are all very good questions.

    The reality is that everyone wants to integrate. The Europeans want to integrate further.

    I was just in Beijing last week and the Asian countries want to integrate further. And there is talk of an Asian sensibility that's different than a North American or European sensibility. And the talk there is, how do we break down barriers?

    As you know, in Europe it's a community and so there are commonalities of standards with respect to labour, with respect to environment, and with respect to product labelling and standards. For them, the drive is to remove those differences because those differences mean greater timing.

    As to whether or not those particular jurisdictions are suffering the kinds of issues that we suffer here in Canada, the answer is yes and no. Yes, in the sense that they're at a lower level of development, particularly in Asia, than we are in North America, so customs processing continues to be a problem that plagues them. From their perspective, that's something they need to work on. That's something they want to work on to reduce.

    With respect to the United States, you asked the question, “What is the reason for the problem of the time issue?” That's the $64 million question. Part of it is security. The United States is feeling less secure. Since 2001 there has been a fundamental cultural shift in the way they view trading partners. That just means more paperwork.

    But then there is the issue of devoting dollars to infrastructure. And then there is the issue of managing the complexities, and we have talked about them with respect to the Detroit bridge. So there are legal issues, there are dollar issues, and there are cultural issues. They wrap themselves up in a fairly complex ball.

    Given the level of the importance of infrastructure and the complexity of the problems, delay, from our perspective, costs all Canadians billions of dollars.


    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Sosnow, and Mr. Temelkovski,

    We now go to the government side to Mr. Wallace for five minutes.

    Mr. Mike Wallace: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    If I could have just a brief response. Mr. Campbell did mention mutual recognition agreements and I agree with him that this is what we would need to see. But you can't have it without dialogue, Mr. Chairman and if we're not having dialogue, it won't happen.

    So we are having dialogue and we may find solutions. I think Mr. Julian was one of the ones who accused us of fear-mongering on the government side this week, but he's the king of fear-mongering. He maybe sleeps with the covers over his head, I'm not sure. But without the dialogue, it would not happen, so that's what I have to say.

    My question is to the other people here today. I am the chair of the steel caucus and I am joined by Mr. Maloney, who is also on the steel caucus from the Liberal side.

    Part of the work that's been happening.... There is a North American Steel Trade Committee . Just for the understanding of everybody around the table, for example, galvanized steel that's produced in Canada is treated as North American steel. It does not attract any duties, and it is not treated as offshore steel as it is sold in the United States. Our biggest market is the United States, from the steel perspective.

    Unfortunately, the Chinese imports are starting, actually for the first time, to surpass us in the United States so it's putting pressure on our steel market.

    But as an example, steel is treated as a North American commodity. Jobs are produced in this country because they're able to sell the product south of the border and be treated as a Canadian product.

    Tell me, either from the chamber or the CEO group, is this the kind of thing you would like to see for other product lines in terms of us being able to work with our partners on a North American basis to make sure that we are competitive against other areas of the world that are producing similar products?

    I'd like both to answer that question.

    Mr. David Stewart-Patterson: If I may, then, Mr. Chairman, I think the steel industry is an example of an early leader in the whole process of North American companies working together. Long before the SPP, the steel sector was sort of ahead of the pack in figuring out how to make economic integration work for Canadians and work for Americans as well.

    As you say, in the early days of Canada-U.S. free trade discussions, the big debate was, could Canadians handle competition from the United States. But I think today it's very clear the competition is global and the best way for Canadians to compete and for Canadian communities to prosper is to work with our neighbours and figure out how to combine our forces, how to combine our strengths and benefit communities on both sides of the border. I think the steel industry has gone a long way in showing how that can happen.

    It's more difficult, I think, in other commodities, but I think the steel sector has shown what is possible, and I would commend them for their work.


    Mr. Mike Wallace: Okay.

    Mr. Sosnow.

    Mr. Clifford Sosnow: There clearly are, in our view, products where a North American standard makes sense. For example, we talked about the proverbial movement of cars back and forth, and as they move back and forth, more and more products are added onto them--that's just a reality. All of the different components have a U.S. standard, have a Canadian standard, so there's compliance with two sets of standards.

    Notwithstanding the fact that both North American labourers, if I can put it in those terms, work together to produce a North American vehicle, there's a plague in that there's both the Canadian standard for the variety of products that exist, and there's a U.S. standard.

    I think it's important, when we're talking about standards, I didn't hear the chamber, in its opening statements, and I have not heard the chamber say anywhere else that the chamber is asking for a race to the bottom in the issue of developing common standards. What the chamber is asking for is the development of common standards, common standards that are mutually beneficial to both Canada and the United States pursuant to negotiations and agreements between the two of them.

    The Chair: Mr. Wallace, a very short question.

    Mr. Mike Wallace: Okay. I'm just going to make a short comment, then. I think everybody, even Mr. Campbell, agrees that the only way to find solutions is through discussion. Some of us may agree or disagree on the process that we've put together, but I want to be on the record as saying that I do agree we do need to discuss this, and particularly after you've demonstrated, when you're in Asia, there are Asian groups coming together; obviously, we know about the European Union and their approach that they have to work together. I think it's important for us on this continent to be working together.

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Wallace.

    With apologies, I go back to Monsieur Cardin. I apologize for missing you. Go ahead, please, for five minutes.


    M. Serge Cardin: Monsieur le président, s'il avait été 12 h 57, je serais revenu assez rapidement. Je vous aurais ramené à l'ordre. Pour continuer dans les principales critiques qui sont avancées par les gens, qui touchaient bien sûr, l'aspect de l'intégration dite « profonde » et aussi la transparence, d'ailleurs M. Wallace annonçait que j'allais revenir sur la transparence. Effectivement, la façon dont c'est structuré, cela évite l'évolution législative et le débat public. Les seules personnes présentent, ce sont des gens d'affaires, des chefs d'entreprises et à toute fin pratique, il n'y a pas eu de consultations. Vous savez que la population, sur bien des points, ce n'est pas ce qu'elle veut. Il y a des choses qu'elle ne veut pas et il y en a d'autres qu'elle veut mettre de l'avant, mais elle n'a pas le droit de parole. Même les parlementaires n'ont pas le droit de s'y impliquer. Ce que je voudrais savoir des gens d'affaires, c'est que comptent-ils faire pour respecter cet engagement de consultation? Ensuite, monsieur Campbell pourrait peut-être nous dire ce qui devrait être fait pour qu'il y ait vraiment un respect de cette consultation et qu'on puisse avancer ensemble. Cela va beaucoup plus rapidement à deux que dans la confrontation.


    The Chair: Mr. Campbell, go ahead, please.

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: I think this is a first step. I think it's really important that parliamentarians are focusing on this initiative, because it is such a vast umbrella, and there are interconnections. This seems to be the committee that's best able to look at those interconnections in their entirety.

    We haven't talked at all about the whole security dimension, the implications for civil liberties, the implications for harmonization of immigration policies and visa policies, and what does that mean, and how that plays out in this initiative, because as business leaders often repeat, these two issues are indivisible.

    So I think it's really important that you continue to monitor. I think just leaving it at a couple of days' hearings is not sufficient. I think you have to be calling bureaucrats who are involved in these working groups.

    We have an overall framework, regulatory, harmonization negotiation going on that will be completed this year. It's scheduled to be completed this year. What's the status of that negotiation? What are the main criteria that are being discussed to kind of overarch? Where does precautionary principle as a basic regulatory principle of primacy of protection fit into the agreement? How does that relate to competitiveness and cost considerations? I mentioned some of the regulatory issues on pharmaceuticals or biologicals. What does it mean for our research, our testing capacity?

    All of these questions are extremely important, and it's important that you continue to hold these hearings, that you bring civil society into the process, that there is sufficient input so that at least we can have a debate about key elements of this process. I haven't suggested that there's a lot of stuff that's going on that's useful and important, but that there may be stuff also going on that's not so beneficial and does privilege private interest over the public interest. Your responsibility as parliamentarians is to ensure that the public interest is being advanced.

    So that's my response.


    The Chair: You have about 30 seconds, Monsieur Cardin.


    M. Serge Cardin: Si on veut me dire du côté des gens d'affaires ce qu'ils comptent faire pour cette consultation, autant envers la population que les parlementaires.


    The Chair: Mr. Stewart-Patterson.

    Mr. David Stewart-Patterson: I'll try to answer briefly, Mr. Chair.

    First of all, I think the SPP has been a very open process. It's been public from the day it was announced. Governments, as far as I can tell, have welcomed thoughts from all sectors of society. The establishment of the North American Competitiveness Council a year ago was reflective of the fact that leaders felt they would benefit from particular advice from people who had particular expertise on one set of issues within the Security and Prosperity Partnership. We have endeavoured to meet that request.

    The other thing I think we have to keep in mind is that as we talk, this is just sort of discussing how can we help our countries work together on regulatory issues. Whether we can agree on common standards, whether we can agree on mutual recognition, the fact is that any change in regulation, there are processes in place within Canada that involve public consultation. So the rule-making process itself in Canada necessarily involves consultation at that level as well.

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Sosnow, a very brief answer. Monsieur Cardin's time is up.

    Mr. Clifford Sosnow: I would echo those comments. The reality is that there seems to be the assumption that there has not been consultation, that this is a discussion that's in secret, and that this is just all about big business, to the exclusion of everybody else. In our experience, that really has not been the case.

    The Chair: Mr. Julian, go ahead. Five minutes, please.

    Mr. Peter Julian: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Thanks to all of the witnesses for coming today. What's very clear is this goes far beyond Smart borders, and it's helpful to have that as the first of the sessions that we're going to have around the security prosperity partnership.

    I'd like to come back to Mr. Campbell on the issue of water because this meeting that's being help in connection with the SPP tomorrow in Calgary is going to discuss issues around water consumption, water transfers, diversions of fresh water, to looking for a goal of joint optimum utilization of available water. Basically that means Canadian water going to the United States I would imagine. I would like you to comment on that. Again just another example of this going far beyond Smart Borders it's disingenuous to pretend the contrary.

    My final question is around the whole issue of democracy that you raised. I mean there's very explicit confirmation that Canadians reject this kind of right wing strategy from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives brief where they say there's no appetite for a new push or a new grand bargain on the trade front because as we know Canadians voted against the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, though the electoral system did not allow that voice to be heard and very clearly expressed in 1993 concerns about NAFTA that have been justified by the fact that most Canadian families earning less now than they were since this whole process started. So could you comment about the drive for Canada's water, and could you comment on this explicit confirmation that indeed most Canadians would reject this agenda if it was out in the public eye.


    Mr. Bruce Campbell: Water has been a controversial issue on the trade front for a long time going back to the FTA and the NAFTA. Bulk water exports have not been protected adequately. There is no legislation that would do that. Once the tap is turned on it would become a commercial good and therefore it's open for export.

    We know from chapter 11 of NAFTA the investor state provisions of NAFTA that companies in the United States have challenged any provincial measures to limit water exports. There are cases that are ongoing in that respect. It has remained an important issue for the United States. I think this latest initiative with the centre for strategic and international studies is an example of that. They see it as in their national security interests to gain access to Canadian water as to Canadian oil. I mean this think tank with close connections, it was commissioned. From what I've been told it is funded largely by the National Security Council in Washington. There are partners. The Conference Board of Canada is a partner. It emanated in an informal way out of the last SPP meeting and it's one of the issues that's on the table for discussion. I know it makes Canadian politicians and the Canadian public extremely nervous, but it is definitely something that they're pushing for. The trinational business report in 2005 and this latest NACC report do not mention water. Although in the preliminary report, or at least in the minutes from some of their earlier meetings they discussed water and decided it was too controversial to put it formally on the table, but that's not to suggest that it's going to go away. It keeps getting repeated. It keeps reappearing on the agenda.

    The Chair: Mr. Julian, you have about 30 seconds left.

    Mr. Peter Julian: You've advised us to start bringing in these advisory groups that are moving ahead on deregulation, or less a regulation in a number of different areas. To what extent do you think this agenda is moving forward without Canadians actually being able to find out what the implications are in each of the various policy areas?

    Mr. Bruce Campbell: I don't know, perhaps Mr. Stewart-Patterson is better able to respond to that because he's on the inside.

    I've mentioned a number of areas of concern. I mentioned that this framework agreement is moving quickly and that we're going to get resolution before the end of the year. I think it's incumbent upon parliamentarians to get a clear understanding of where these negotiations are, what's on the table, and just what the Canadian side is being asked to sacrifice.

    It's great to have regulatory cooperations, as I said, but how far do you go? That's the question. What are the limits to regulatory cooperation? When does it become a real compromising of policy flexibility and democratic accountability?

    It's sort of like the question of the frog in a pot of hot water. If you put a frog in boiling water, the frog will jump out immediately. If you put the frog in a pot of cool water and heat it gradually, the frog will not jump out and will be boiled alive. It's that sense of this very slow incremental, sometimes fast, under the radar process that is the basis for my concern and the concern of a lot of groups and individuals in Canada.

·  (1300)  

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Campbell.

    Thank you, Mr. Julian.

    Thank you all very much for coming today and getting our study on Canada-U.S. trade and investment off to a good start.

    I thank all the committee members for their questions today and look forward to the continuation of this discussion at our next meeting on Tuesday.

    Meeting adjourned.