Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and provide a bit of an antidote to the Conservative-Liberal love-in that has been taking place in the House of Commons today over CETA, which we cannot deny has been pretty cozy. When we have the international trade minister and the international trade critic of the Liberals and Conservatives, respectively, hugging in the House of Commons over a deal, I think it is fair to say if there was anything we could call a love-in within Parliament, that is it. That happened on the day they signed the deal and has continued throughout this debate.
Therefore, I am pleased to rise and provide a different perspective, one that frankly is shared by many Canadians and many people across North America who are fed up. That energy needs to be channelled in the right way, with having this kind of condescending claptrap from parties and politicians who have big business as their allies, and who, every time we criticize the fact that in some cases these deals have meant good jobs leaving the country, tell us that we just do not understand trade or that we are against trade.
The NDP is for trade. We understand well the importance of trade for our local economy and for workers. However, I also think insurance is a good idea. We could pontificate on the history of insurance and that it came to be because some things were not the way they should be and families ended up in dire straits. Therefore, insurance is a great product and we should have insurance. However, we would not take any insurance policy and sign it without reading it, so it is not about whether we are for or against insurance that we decline a particular policy or not, and it is not that the NDP is against trade that we say that there are problems with this deal. On balance, we think the problems are not worth the proposed benefits.
What we have heard members say is that they are in favour of the possible benefit of the potential market. What we have not seen from the government is a province-by-province analysis of what this will mean for jobs. We have not seen a sector-by-sector analysis to say who the winners and the losers will be. In some cases, we do have a sense of who the losers will be. We know that they are in the agricultural sector. We know that the former government negotiated a settlement with some of those producers to the tune of over $4 billion. Nothing has changed in the agreement, and presumably nothing has changed in terms of the consequences for those producers, but the current government has arbitrarily lowered that compensation package. However, what we have not heard, and what the Liberals have not said, is why we are hurting those producers and why it is worth spending taxpayer money to compensate those producers, even though they are not doing it to the extent that the Conservatives saw fit, because these people over here will win, and these are the jobs that will be created, and these are the businesses that are just waiting with an export development plan to move their business into Europe and to capture that market, instead of just talking about the paper access that we are buying, and not inexpensively, as we go through some of the other items in this deal.
I was talking to a farmer in Manitoba just last week who was saying that it is true that for certain agriculture products there are quotas on what can be exported from Canada into Europe. It is true that CETA raises those quotas. That is great. It would be even better if those agricultural producers were actually meeting the existing quotas. However, they are not. Therefore, we will sign up for certain investor-state dispute settlement clauses, we will sign up for an agreement that will interfere with the ability of local governments to use buy local provisions in their procurements, and we will sign on to a higher cost for drugs. Why? To expand a quota that is already not being met.
When we talk about trade-offs, it seems to me that the kind of theoretical benefit of an expanded quota that producers are already not meeting is not worth the very concrete costs that are represented in higher drug costs, for example. That is an argument the Liberals should understand as it is comparable to an argument they made about the tax-free savings account when they reduced that threshold. They asked why the threshold should be increased from $5,000 to $10,000 when most people are not already availing themselves of the $5,000 limit. It is the very same argument. Therefore, why would we incur higher drug costs, which is a very real cost for Canadians, in exchange for higher quotas on certain agricultural products, when those quotas are already not being met?
I think we need to come down to earth a bit and stop making this a debate about whether we are for or against trade. The member for Calgary Rocky Ridge said in his speech that he wanted to talk about what was in the agreement and whether on balance certain things were better or not. Then he launched into a diatribe against the NDP just for saying that we think there are some problems with the agreement. I did not hear him once mention something that he thought was problematic in the agreement.
I do not know how we could conceptualize a debate on the content of an agreement and the nature of the trade-offs without actually mentioning any of the trade-offs, but just launching into a platitudinous speech about how wonderful this is without concrete examples.
I already mentioned that part of the problem here, if we want to get real and assess an agreement, is that there is not enough information to do that. We do not actually have anything approaching a comprehensive study by the government, released to Canadians, talking about what the impact on jobs and industry in Canada is going to be.
We do not know what the relative impact, from province to province, is going to be. We do not know how the various sectors are going to be affected. We do not know, frankly, and we could not know, the economic impact of everything that is being given up in this agreement without a blink. This agreement covers everything except for what is carved out.
There are certain carve-outs, for instance, on the buy local provisions. Some provincial governments have advocated to say that this sector should not be touched or that sector should not be touched, when what that gives up is everything we have not already thought of.
If members in this House think that they are so smart, and everyone in provincial legislatures is so smart, as to have thought of every technological and economic development that is going to happen over the lifetime of this agreement, which incidentally is not a temporary agreement, then so be it. I am a little more modest. I think we ought to be more modest.
There are a lot of things that can change. We live in a world that changes very quickly. It is imprudent at best to sign on to agreements that essentially give up everything that we have not already thought of. We do not know what the impact of that is going to be.
No one has said why it is a good idea to sign that kind of an agreement that essentially covers everything we have not already thought of versus an agreement that just covers the things we are talking about, in the sectors that we know about today and some of those particular trade-offs. On the face of it, that seems like a better approach.
We also do not know, recently having had a referendum to leave the European Union, what the impact or consequence of that is going to be. We do know that it is going to take years for European parliaments to ratify this agreement. I simply do not understand why we are in such a rush here in Canada. I have not heard a good answer.
We heard one member say that he does not see a need to put on the brakes on a good deal. How do we know if it is a good deal when we do not even know who is in it yet? Is the member saying it is immaterial to the benefit of the agreement to Canada, whether Britain is covered by the agreement or not? That is a ridiculous thing to try to maintain.
If we do not do that, if we take the sensible approach and say that it actually does matter whether the United Kingdom is covered under CETA or not, and that that has an impact on what the potential benefits are for Canada, then the right thing to do would be to put the brakes on and take a little bit of a wait-and-see approach.
The agreement is not going anywhere. I think it would be far more prudent to come back to it when we actually have a better sense of what the lay of the land is. It is a time of a lot of change and uncertainty. To me, that says it is the wrong time to jump in with both feet into a major economic treaty.
With this agreement, there is a recurring problem, in my view, with a lot of the trade agreements that we have signed since 1993, which is the investor-state dispute settlement clauses. In my mind, those have very little to do with trade. Foreign investors who have an issue and who do not feel they have been treated fairly can go to Canadian courts and can seek fairness in Canadian courts. They can do that without tying the hands of government in terms of its ability to regulate for the benefit of the environment, for the benefit of workplace health and safety, for health benefits. That is a reasonable approach. There is nothing wrong with that.
The Canadian court system has certain principles of openness and transparency that I think we would all agree are important. No one is advocating we get rid of those principles. When we take that decision-making power out of the hands of the Canadian court system and transfer it to the international trade tribunals, for which we do not have the rules or the guidelines according to which arbitrators are going to be selected, we are doing serious damage to the ability of Canadians to make their own decisions.