Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Tracey Ramsey Profile
NDP (ON)
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2017-06-21 15:00 [p.13093]
Mr. Speaker, last week, the trade committee submitted a report on the Canadian steel industry and next week the all-party steel caucus will meet officials in Washington.
In the report the NDP recommends that the Liberals implement measures to encourage the use of Canadian steel in infrastructure projects and government contracts. We also recommend that the government defend our ability to promote the use of Canadian steel when negotiating trade agreements like NAFTA.
I have a simple question. Will the Liberals implement our recommendations to protect our Canadian steel industry before they renegotiate NAFTA?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2017-06-21 15:01 [p.13093]
Mr. Speaker, we take very seriously the responsibility of standing up and defending Canada's interests. We repeatedly do so every time we engage with the American administration, including in my recent conversation with President Trump.
We need to ensure that Initiative 232 excludes Canada. National security investigations have no business looking at Canadian steel when we know the North American steel market is specialized, integrated, and extremely well-functioning.
We will continue to stand with our American partners against illegal practices from around the world, while at the same time defending Canadian steelworkers and their industry.
View Karine Trudel Profile
NDP (QC)
View Karine Trudel Profile
2017-06-20 14:57
Mr. Speaker, despite the government's announcement, a lot of work remains to be done to save all the forestry jobs once and for all. Just yesterday, Unifor organized a day of action across the country, including in my home of Jonquière. I marched side by side with the workers to acknowledge the importance of the forestry sector, which is central to the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean communities.
The former government left a lot of money on the table in the last agreement. Can the minister assure us that her government will not negotiate a sellout agreement?
View Andrew Leslie Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we are committed to defending Quebec's forestry sector and we continue to include it in all our negotiations. We strongly oppose the U.S. Department of Commerce's decision to impose unfair countervailing duties. We will continue to work closely with our industry and provincial partners. A negotiated agreement would be the best outcome for Canadians and for the Americans. Nevertheless, we want a good agreement for Canada, not just any agreement.
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
NDP (ON)
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2017-06-20 14:59
Mr. Speaker, workers are out in the streets fighting for their jobs because the Liberal government is failing to fix it.
The failure of the Liberals to secure a deal on softwood is seriously threatening forestry jobs. On the eve of NAFTA renegotiations, the lack of a softwood deal is not inspiring much confidence. The Liberals like to talk about their respectful relationship with the U.S. and how they will get the best deal. How can Canadians trust the government to get a good deal on NAFTA when the Liberals continue to fail to get an agreement on softwood lumber?
View Andrew Leslie Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, as we know, the previous Conservative government allowed the agreement to lapse.
We strongly disagree with the U.S. commerce department's decision to impose unfair and punitive duties—
View Andrew Leslie Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we will challenge this U.S. decision in the courts and we will win, as we have done on every past occasion.
The Prime Minister raises softwood lumber with President Trump at every opportunity, just as the minister for global affairs and trade does. However, we want a good agreement for Canada, not just any deal.
View Erin Weir Profile
NDP (SK)
View Erin Weir Profile
2017-06-19 11:32 [p.12894]
Mr. Speaker, we have heard that the Conservatives will be opposing this bill because it lacks specifics but they see the potential for negative consequences. We in the NDP are a hopeful and optimistic party, so despite the bill's lack of specifics we will be supporting it because we see the potential for it to be quite positive legislation. We will also be proposing amendments at committee to try to set out some of those needed specifics. We certainly support the concept of community benefit agreements, trying to ensure that public infrastructure investment creates local jobs and local training opportunities and that it really enriches the local community.
One of the main purposes the government has provided for infrastructure investment is to boost the Canadian economy. Of course, infrastructure spending only boosts the economy to the extent that it employs Canadian workers and procures Canadian-made inputs. However, the current government has a very weak track record of actually making an effort to use procurement policy in that way.
We see, for example, the construction of the new Champlain Bridge using only 19% Canadian-made steel. Even as we have steel mills struggling through bankruptcy protection and laying off workers, the Canadian government is importing a huge amount of steel to build this new bridge. This would be a great example of where the concept of community benefits could be put into effect in a very useful way. Therefore, I agree with basically everything that the member for Brampton Centre said; I am just somewhat skeptical that this bill would actually achieve the laudable goals that the member set forward.
The first thing that is important to emphasize is that this bill would not require community benefit agreements. It would not even require contractors to provide information on community benefits. What it would do is allow the minister to require contractors to provide this information. Therefore, in the hands of a very energetic and proactive minister, it is possible that this bill could be used as a tool to help negotiate community benefit agreements, but it would not actually require the government to do anything of the sort.
Another very important issue is the scope of this legislation. I asked the member for Brampton Centre whether it would apply only to infrastructure that is entirely funded by the federal government, which is very little infrastructure, or whether it would apply to infrastructure that the federal government cost-shares with other levels of government. We did not get any kind of a clear answer to that question, but this is a real issue and it came up at committee when this bill's predecessor, Bill C-227, went before the transport committee. The government essentially tried to indicate that Bill C-227 would only apply to infrastructure totally funded by the federal government, which means it would not apply to very much infrastructure at all.
We believe that a more realistic proposal would be to apply this legislation to infrastructure that the federal government cost-shares with other levels of government, but of course that would require a lot more detail and a lot more information about how the federal government would reconcile its objectives in terms of community benefits with those of provincial and municipal governments. I believe there is the potential for the federal government to work together with provinces and municipalities in quite a constructive fashion to achieve community benefit agreements. However, that is something we should be acknowledging and discussing, rather than talking about this bill as though it would only apply to the very small subset of infrastructure that is entirely paid for by the federal government itself.
Another issue I would like to raise regarding this bill is the lack of evaluation or monitoring. If we were to have a successful strategy to implement community benefit agreements, we would want a very good mechanism to report back on whether the benefits were actually achieved.
What this bill talks about is the minister providing a report on community benefits, which could be almost anything. The minister could easily just pick and choose projects that had some community benefits, and highlight those and trumpet those. It would be very easy for the minister to just put forward a positive report without actually doing much analysis or without really evaluating anything.
We believe it would make a lot more sense for this bill to actually require the minister to report on whether community benefits were achieved, so that we have some actual evaluation of whether all the money that the government is spending on public infrastructure is actually creating local jobs, providing apprenticeship opportunities, improving local communities, and improving our natural environment. We believe that this bill requires a lot more detail in terms of reporting and evaluation.
Another issue that is very important to discuss is how this bill fits with international trade agreements. The government has been very aggressive in signing onto trade deals that limit the public sector's ability to use procurement policy to require local employment, the purchasing of local inputs, and that sort of thing.
One of the questions that came up at committee with this bill's predecessor, Bill C-227, was whether it actually fit in with some of the trade deals that the government has signed. We have not gotten a very clear answer on this from the government, but I believe it is an important question. I do not bring it up as an argument against community benefit agreements. I think we want to pursue community benefit agreements, but we also want to make sure we are not negotiating trade agreements that take away the ability of government to use procurement policy in that way.
What I fear about this bill is that it actually contains so little that maybe it does comply with international trade agreements but it complies with them only because it requires so little of the government or of contractors. It is essentially totally up to the minister whether to even require information on community benefits. It seems as though the bill may not actually apply to very much infrastructure, if it is only those few projects that are entirely funded by the federal government. I hope the answer is not that this bill complies with international trade agreements because it does not actually do anything and it does not require anything.
Now, of course, we do have a number of trade agreements that apply to infrastructure that is entirely funded by the federal government. Where our country has more latitude to use procurement policy in a constructive way is with provincial and municipal infrastructure. Fortunately, most infrastructure is indeed also funded by those levels of government. However, the government does not seem to want to say that this bill would apply to those projects.
The NDP very much supports community benefit agreements. We want to see public investment in infrastructure supporting jobs in local communities, providing apprenticeship opportunities, improving the local area, and supporting a clean environment. A way of actually achieving that would be for the federal government to negotiate community benefit agreements in concert with provincial and municipal governments for infrastructure projects that are jointly funded. That would have an effect on a lot of infrastructure and would also comply with international trade agreements.
Unfortunately, we are getting the suggestion from the government that this would only apply to those few projects that are totally federally funded and, in that case, might not fit in with Canada's international trade obligations.
In conclusion, we in the NDP are going to support this bill, but we are going to support it with the view to getting it to committee so that we can amend it into a constructive and positive piece of legislation.
View Ruth Ellen Brosseau Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Premier of Quebec will be in Washington today to talk about the NAFTA negotiations, and many Quebec mayors have already done likewise. Elected officials in Quebec no longer have any confidence in the federal government to conduct these negotiations.
I do not blame them after the government's failure to properly address the softwood lumber and diafiltered milk issues. Unlike those of the federal government, Quebec's priorities are clear: protect good jobs, protect supply management, and resolve the softwood lumber issue.
When will the government tell us what its priorities are for the renegotiation of NAFTA?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2017-06-19 14:25 [p.12920]
Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my friend Philippe Couillard, the Premier of Quebec, who, like all of the other provincial premiers, has committed to working with the American government.
We emphasized how important it is for all levels of government to work together to make the United States understand that Canadians stand united, that we are concerned about its approach, and that we are prepared to strongly defend Canada's interests. That is what we are all going to do, and I commend Premier Couillard for his initiative today in Washington.
View Ruth Ellen Brosseau Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister needs to stop repeating his talking points and reassure Canadians once and for all.
The Liberals cannot continue to hold Canadians in the dark when it comes to the renegotiation of NAFTA. Workers throughout the country are quickly losing confidence in the Liberal government and its ability to negotiate a good trade deal in their interest. In less than a month, the U.S. will reveal its final priorities, and still, deafening silence from the government side.
Canadians deserve a government that will stand up and fight for their jobs, so when will the government release its plans on the renegotiation of NAFTA?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2017-06-19 14:27 [p.12921]
Mr. Speaker, we very much look forward to sitting down with the American side after August 18, when the Americans have permission to sit down and start negotiating. Until then, we have made it very clear that our priorities are defending Canada's interests. Whether it be in softwood, whether it be in auto, or whether it be in dairy and supply management, we will always stand up and defend Canada's interests. We will not, however, talk in great detail about our negotiation strategy. Canadians know we will defend their interests. We will continue to fight hard for Canadian jobs and for growth for the middle class, because that is what Canadians expect of us.
View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2017-06-19 15:07 [p.12928]
Mr. Speaker, forestry workers are demonstrating across Quebec today to call on the government to negotiate a fair and balanced agreement on softwood lumber. That may seem obvious, but the forestry sector has learned not to trust Ottawa.
Arguing over guarantees has cost weeks of work for workers, who are more than ready for a bit of stability.
Will the government make a solemn promise to refuse to sign any sellout agreement that could hurt forestry workers?
View Jim Carr Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Jim Carr Profile
2017-06-19 15:08 [p.12929]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question because it is a chance to remind the House of the significance of the measures that we have undertaken to make sure, both in the short term and in the long term, that the forestry industry is respected in Canada.
That includes $605 million from the Export Development Corporation. It includes very timely measures to expand export markets. That includes taking the leaders of the industry in Quebec to China to begin to make the argument that our wood is the best wood in the world.
We are very proud of that initiative. We are very proud of how we have stood up for the forestry—
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
NDP (ON)
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2017-06-14 14:46
Mr. Speaker, on Monday, the U.S. dairy industry formally asked trade officials to come after the Canadian dairy industry in NAFTA renegotiations. New Democrats have repeatedly stood in the House highlighting trade attacks on our supply-managed dairy industry.
With the U.S. blaming Canadian farmers for their own overproduction, we need more than vague assurances from the government. It is clear to everyone that dairy will be a top priority for the U.S. administration. Instead of the same meaningless talking points, will the Prime Minister draw a red line and commit to no expanded market access?
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