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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2018-06-11 23:59 [p.20716]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise just a little after midnight to return to an important issue I have had occasion to raise in the House and at committee. It has to do with the provisions of the trans-Pacific partnership deal, particularly chapter 12, and the potential effects of that chapter for Canadian tradespeople.
Chapter 12 of the TPP is about entry into Canada for temporary foreign workers. Unfortunately, it recreates some of the worst abuses of the temporary foreign worker program that we saw under previous Liberal and Conservative governments. The Liberals have said they want to the program. However, on the one hand, they say they are trying to fix, On the one hand, through the trans-Pacific partnership, they are actually reinstating it.
Often when I have raised this issue, I have been drowned in platitudes by the government. I thought it might be useful to refer to the text to try and orient the debate on the real concern. It is a concern we have heard loud and clear from building trade unions, which have a lot of experience in interpreting these kinds of documents, whether they are collective agreements or other policies that have a direct impact on workers.
The provisions we are particularly concerned about have to do with the number of categories under which we believe workers can enter Canada to perform trades work and if they meet the spirit of the agreement or not. We have certainly seen instances before where companies bring in workers in defiance of the spirit of agreements for temporary workers.
However, the TPP is very clear. For these categories of workers it states, “Canada shall grant temporary entry and provide a work permit or work authorisation to”, in this case professionals and technicians, “and will not:
(a) require labour certification tests or other procedures of similar intent as a condition for temporary entry; or
(b) impose or maintain any numerical restriction relating to temporary entry.
Members of the building trades have been very clear, to us on this side of the House, and they have made similar arguments to members of government, that this essentially means that there will not be any ability to have any kind of meaningful skills testing or to ensure that the workers who are brought in meet Canadian standards. There is also not going to be any attempt to canvas the Canadian labour market to ensure there are not qualified Canadians looking for that work.
I am coming back to that issue. If we look at agreements like the trans-Pacific partnership, and we have seen it in other trade agreements, when big business wants something in the agreement, it gets it, and it gets it in the legal wording of the text. Those are the types of assurances it gets and it knows it can go to court, whether to a real court, a national court, or an international trade tribunal established under the auspices of whatever agreement it is, and get satisfaction if those rules are broken.
However, when it comes to workers, there is no guarantee for workers in these agreements. When it comes to workers, it is always, “Trust us. We're going to set up a little program” or “We'll have some regulations.” However, that will depend completely on the government of the day. There are no real assurances that the government will have any meaningful enforcement mechanism when it comes to this. There is no reassurance that it will be able to track these workers once they are in the country and ensure they perform work in accordance with this deal.
Therefore, why is the government willing to put assurances in these deals for big corporations and not for workers?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2018-06-12 0:07 [p.20717]
Mr. Speaker, I can tell from the member's answer that she has never been on the books waiting for a call for a job while knowing full well that a company imported a temporary foreign workforce in order to build a construction project in her city. If she believes there is a bunch of Canadian trades workers waiting at home for the next opportunity to build a condo tower in Brunei, she is pretty seriously mistaken.
Canadian tradespeople want to be able to get work close to home and chapter 12, for as much as she wants to extol the virtues of the TPP generally, does not have protections for workers and there are no mechanisms for the federal government to track these workers once they are in Canada. The agreement specifically prohibits them from doing any kind of real skills testing and even the wage requirements do not mean a lot if the government is not tracking that and does not have a system to ensure that the workers are being paid what they were promised.
We know that this was a notorious problem with the temporary foreign worker program. I wonder if she would like to revise her answer in light of those facts.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2018-03-02 11:53 [p.17626]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals promised to end the abuse of the temporary foreign worker program, but now they are on the cusp of signing the trans-Pacific partnership, a trade deal that is going to entrench the worst aspects of that program.
Under the TPP, foreign companies are going to be allowed to bring in their own workforce without advertising their jobs to Canadians, without getting a labour market opinion saying there are not enough qualified Canadian tradespeople to do the job. Provincial governments are expressly prohibited from doing any kind of skills testing on these workers.
As a Canadian tradesperson myself, I want to know how it is the Liberals thought it was okay to sell out Canadian tradespeople at the international bargaining table.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2017-06-12 12:31 [p.12459]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona.
I am pleased to help outline some of the NDP's thoughts and objections to the motion before us, which has all the thematic unity of a recipe for leftovers soup.
As is the case with leftovers soup, even if people find the totality of it distasteful, it does not always mean they do not like particular ingredients that were thrown into it. There are some good ingredients to this motion, but when taken together, unfortunately we feel we need to oppose it.
The aspect of the motion dealing with softwood lumber is an ingredient we think is a good one. It is right to draw attention to the fact that the government has simply failed to come up with a reasonable solution to the crisis in softwood lumber.
As one of my colleagues in the NDP has just pointed out, it is a little challenging in some ways to hear that criticism come from the Conservatives. They were in government when the agreement expired. They had 10 years. They could have come to another agreement on it, but they did not. They left it to the Liberals, who then made a big deal of their great relationship with the Obama administration and what this would mean for Canadian softwood lumber producers. The Liberals would be able to go ahead and get not just any deal but the best possible deal for producers. That agreement still has not materialized.
A compensation package has been announced, presumably which is a bad omen for Canadian producers who hoped to get a deal that would allow them, through their work, to provide for them and their families, and not have to do that through a government compensation package. I suppose if the Liberals are not going to get it together to get a deal, then that is the next best thing. We would hope, however, to have a government that fights to get that agreement so softwood lumber producers can get back on their feet.
Even the agreement that was in place before was not a great agreement. It was signed by the Harper government. Today Conservatives members want to draw the attention of people to that fact. The leverage the prime minister at the time had was that successive challenges by the United States to the Canadian softwood lumber regime at the WTO and NAFTA had failed. The WTO and NAFTA had supported the Canadian softwood lumber system. In fact, we were on the cusp of getting another decision by the WTO that experts thought would affirm the Canadian position.
Instead of getting to hear that ruling and the benefit that would accrue to Canadian producers by having that ruling on the books, the Harper government went off and cut a side deal. That deal left a billion dollars of the $5.4 billion, which were taken out of the pockets of Canadian producers, in the hands of the U.S. It had taken that money, and not rightfully. That is not just the NDP position; that is the opinion of NAFTA and WTO tribunals.
These are under agreements that we, frankly, do not always like. They were coming to the conclusion that Canada had been wronged by the United States, yet the rug was pulled out from under the feet of Canadian producers who wanted to get the money, which had been taken from them in unfair duties, back. The Harper government did not allow for that. It left a billion dollars of that money on the table.
The Harper government did it with another element of that story, which no one else seems to talk about today. It did it with a Liberal turned Conservative trade minister, David Emerson. Perhaps other parties in the House also want to explore that theme today. No only are the Liberals and Conservatives so close together on this issue, in their common failure to provide a lasting solution to softwood, even under the rubric of the WTO and NAFTA of which they were great supporters, but they felt comfortable using the same guy to negotiate for them on this file in the lead-up to and following the 2006 election.
With respect to this ingredient, we do need a lasting solution for Canadian softwood lumber producers, and it is incumbent on the government to deliver that. It has given us a lot of words, but not a lot of action. However, to hear that criticism coming from the Conservative Party, when it is pretty hard to distinguish the two on this file, is a little rich, too rich to soup me, that is for sure.
Grain is another aspect of this motion. It is quite different from softwood lumber, but nevertheless, here they are together. The issue there, as we started to discuss in questions and comments, is that the big crisis in grain transportation for western Canadian grain farmers occurred after the Canadian Wheat Board was abolished. Partly what we see here is Conservatives criticizing Liberals for failing to find a solution to a problem created by the Conservatives. They found a Band-Aid solution with legislation that is expiring soon, and the problem with the Liberal approach is that while they do suggest some solutions in Bill C-49, the House has yet to pronounce on the adequacy of those provisions. The problem is that it is unlikely those provisions are going to be passed before the expiration of the interim or Band-Aid solution offered by the Conservative Party.
I will remain neutral on whether or not what the Liberals are proposing would provide a lasting solution, but what is clear is that there is going to be a gap between the Liberals' proposed solution and the Conservatives' Band-Aid solution. That puts grain farmers, particularly western Canadian farmers, in a tight spot that they ought not to be in, because we could see this problem coming from a long way off. The Liberals had extended the Conservative Band-Aid solution once before, so they knew when the deadline was coming. The fact that they have not been able to put in place a more lasting solution in time for what is essentially their own deadline is sad. Canadian grain farmers deserve better.
The last bit of the soup has to do with carbon pricing, and this is the ingredient that the NDP finds most objectionable. It is not about criticizing the Liberals' approach to carbon pricing, but it tries to say that any form of carbon pricing, the very principle of carbon pricing, cannot work with a functional, growing economy. That is a claim that we simply reject.
I watched as all but one Conservative member voted last week in favour of a motion for this Parliament to support the Paris climate agreement. The idea that we could go on with our current policies, as the Conservatives advocate, in further development of the Alberta oil sands and pipelines and not put any price on carbon is just not feasible. This aspect of the motion stands in contradiction to the position that they took only last week with respect to the Paris accord. Something has to change in terms of Canada's environmental policy if we are going to make good on our commitments under the Paris climate agreement. That much is clear.
When we get into the details, it does not take long before a lot of controversy is sparked, and there is certainly a lot of fair criticism that one can level at the government for its lack of concrete action.
For instance, if we are going to meet our Paris accord commitments, clearly we would need targets to get us there, but we do not have targets. We have the inadequate targets of the previous Stephen Harper government that the Liberals ran against, but the Liberals have not provided newer, more ambitious targets, so there is a clear problem in how we are going to get there.
In my view, part of the problem with the Liberals' carbon pricing plan is that they have given all the responsibility for implementation to the provinces, which means it may be implemented differently in different parts of the country. This situation raises the issue of equity between provinces, and Canadians living in some provinces may live under a different carbon pricing regime from Canadians living in other provinces. That is a real issue, and it is not one that the Liberals have managed to adequately address.
There is an equity issue as well in terms of people on low or fixed incomes being disproportionately affected by a carbon tax. Other governments, such as the NDP government in Alberta, have sought to address this issue by bringing in a rebate program for low-income people that operates along the same principles as our GST rebate. It is not an insurmountable problem and it is one we could address, except that the Liberal government's approach has been to divest itself of all responsibility for implementation and put it onto the provinces. Once again, whether people will be disproportionately affected by this tax will depend on whether they live under the NDP in Alberta or live under governments in other parts of the country.
There is a lot to talk about and there is a lot to criticize. It is very disappointing to read in international papers this weekend, for instance, about Angela Merkel looking for support within the G20, thinking she could count on our current Prime Minister to stand up to Donald Trump on climate, and finding that she cannot.
It flies in the face of the motion that the Liberals themselves presented in the House last week to affirm our commitment to the Paris accord, a motion that we all supported nearly unanimously. Now we see that the Liberals' actions do not meet their words. It is Kyoto all over again.
We need to do better, but I do not think this motion is about a good-faith attempt to solve that problem.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2017-02-06 16:10 [p.8517]
Madam Speaker, what is sometimes frustrating when we have debates on trade in the House is trying to work our way through the barrage of suffocating platitudes about free trade to talk about particular agreements. It seems to me, having listened to the member's speech, that she does not believe it matters, when we are on the cusp of signing a major multilateral treaty with a number of major partners, that one of the major partners is pulling out of the deal.
Let us say that one was planning one's family's financial future. Assuming that one partner had a job with a certain income and the other one had a job with another income, the two decide what they can afford in purchasing a home and are keen to sign the mortgage. In the meantime, both lose their jobs and their financial situation totally changes. The current government would walk right in there and sign the mortgage anyway.
We are living in a turbulent time. The conditions surrounding CETA have changed dramatically. Canada's trade position with respect to the United States is in the process of potentially changing. There is a lot of uncertainty. It seems like a bad time to jump into a trade deal that we do not even know Europe is going to agree to.
Why is it that the government and the member feel it is so urgent to sign this deal when we do not even know the context in which we are signing it?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2016-12-13 16:43 [p.8054]
Mr. Speaker, I want to start by indicating that I will be sharing my time with the member for Regina—Lewvan.
I am pleased to rise on second reading of Bill C-31 to express support for the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement.
I come from a part of the country, Elmwood—Transcona that, like many parts of the country, has a very strong Ukrainian community, of which I am a part. My mother's father's parents originally came to Canada and settled around Gilbert Plains. They were farmers there. When my grandfather left the farm, he served in the Second World War and ultimately landed in Transcona working for the Canadian National Railway, as many Ukrainians did. Ukrainians came to be an important part of Transcona, and an important part of the railway there, which is my heritage. My grandpa worked decades for CN in the shops, and like many with a good employer, good benefits, and a good pension, was able to make a life for his family, retire, and live out his retirement comfortably in Transcona.
I am proud to be a member of the Ukrainian Canadian community. I am proud to represent a riding where that community is strong and active. I am, therefore, also proud to support this agreement.
There are many issues that I had expressed yesterday about the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Europe that do not present themselves in the case of the bill before us, starting with the government following its own process: tabling the implementing legislation 21 days after tabling the agreement; and actually submitting the assessment that it is required to submit, including an environmental assessment. Therefore, in terms of process, I would say that the government has done a really bad job of CETA, but has succeeded in following its own rules with respect to CUFTA, which I think helps in terms of engendering a sense of trust and confidence in the process. This is thing number one.
Thing number two that is different is that we do not have the same contentious investor-state dispute settlement clauses in CUFTA that we have in the Canada-Europe trade agreement. This also goes a long way to alleviate some of the concern on this side of the House about the nature of this deal. It allows us to look at what it really is as a trade deal. It is a deal to lower tariffs on Canadian goods going into Ukraine and lower Canadian tariffs on goods coming out of Ukraine into Canada. On balance, when we look at that, there is already an existing trade relationship. There was a lot of business done already with Ukraine, and this is an opportunity to expand that level of trade. Therefore, overall, it is a good thing.
Members on this side have said, and I will say again, that we think it is important that there be a tougher human rights monitoring provision alongside this agreement to make sure that our trade is not being used to further the interests of an oligopoly in Ukraine. However, we are nevertheless supportive, and we would like to see it ultimately come to fruition. We believe this is something that should be part of the process going forward, but not a reason to stop the process here.
Another difference with this agreement over CETA is that there is an important political point, economics aside, to this particular agreement, because of the rich history between Canada and Ukraine, and because Ukraine is in a very difficult position with a belligerent neighbour that has already annexed part of its territory and has made it clear that it intends to and wants to dominate Ukraine. I think this agreement sends an important political message that Canada stands behind Ukraine, because economic muscle is a real tool that belligerent neighbours use against those they want to control. We are willing to help people in Ukraine who want markets to be able to sell their goods and continue doing business. Canada is open to being a good friend and ally to them, and not force them into trying to trade with a belligerent neighbour.
We want to provide Ukraine with positive options that allow it to continue to have a market for its goods through trying times. That is an important political statement to be made about the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement, especially important to make at this time.
Those are my general thoughts on the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement. A nice thing we could do, because Global Affairs Canada has actually issued some information about the agreement and what the government believes the impact on trade would be, is talk about some of the details. We do not have a comparable document, unfortunately, for the Canada-European Union free trade agreement.
I know some hon. members have gotten into those details. I will spare the House from going over them once again, but I want to highlight the fact that we can actually dig down into those details, because the government has endeavoured to make some of them available. That should be standard practice and it is shocking to me that it is willing to do that for a smaller bilateral agreement but when we talk about larger multilateral agreements that, it is fair to say, have a much larger potential impact for the economy, it is ridiculous that we do not have better information. If we want to make sound economic decisions, we have to do it on the basis of numbers. We have them for this agreement, but we do not have them for some larger potential agreements.
Before I sit down, I want to draw the House's attention to that and implore members on the government side to do a far better job when it comes to the larger agreements. There is a template for it with the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement and it is one that they ought to apply to other larger deals.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2016-12-13 16:51 [p.8055]
Mr. Speaker, I am afraid I will have to admit that I am not familiar with the details of that particular act, but in the context of trade with Ukraine and, in particular, in light of its situation, we need some kind of strong oversight mechanism. It is a dynamic situation and we certainly do not want to be doing things that would strengthen the hands of Russian actors within that country. If we are going to say that we are committed to human rights and not having the proceeds of Canadian trade perversely fund the oppression of Ukraine, then we need to also be committed to bringing about a realistic process that could give us the right information about what is actually happening on the ground and then assign some meaningful consequences.
I am not familiar with the particular details of the act that the member mentioned, but that is where we need to go. To the extent that we may or may not be going there, then those are the criteria that I would use to assess that particular proposal.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2016-12-13 16:53 [p.8055]
Mr. Speaker, I note that the member, too, represents a riding with a very strong Ukrainian community and heritage. The Ukrainian Labour Temple is in his riding, among other important Ukrainian institutions in Winnipeg, and he is very fortunate to have that community in his riding.
As I mentioned before, going forward, the NDP's focus, in terms of improvement of the bill, would be to ensure that there is a fulsome and adequate process for monitoring the human rights situation in Ukraine and ensuring that if the information coming back is that there are significant abuses or that the proceeds of Canadian trade end up going to help Russian aggression within the region, we are able to take meaningful action in order to quell that outcome and get things back on track.
From the NDP point of view, that is the main focus of improvement with this act.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2016-12-13 16:54 [p.8055]
I wish I did, Mr. Speaker, but I cannot say that I do. It makes sense that as the size of the agreement increases, the importance of following that process increases as well. When the government tables a trade bill as large as what is called the comprehensive economic trade agreement with Europe, and then asks members to debate it in the House in very short order, without the period the government's own policy suggests MPs need to get up to speed on it, it makes no sense at all.
I do not know why the Liberals chose to do it that way. They felt a false sense of urgency about this all along. Perhaps the member for Regina—Lewvan can take up this theme in his remarks.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2016-12-12 16:12 [p.7970]
Mr. Speaker, many European countries had reservations about signing this agreement, and many have now signed but with the proviso that they have not yet ratified. The debate within Europe, especially about the investor-state dispute settlement clauses, is far from over.
There are other aspects of the agreement that could be positive, and there are some negative ones too.
I am wondering who the member thinks is putting on all this pressure. If the investor-state dispute settlement clauses are what risks having the deal fall through in Europe, who is pushing for them? If it is the Canadian government, why would the Canadian government be willing to risk the rest of the deal for the sake of keeping these provisions? Certainly not many of the governments in Europe are pushing for these. In fact, that is where they are getting the push-back from their own population on this deal. Who is defending these, and why is it so important to keep them in there if it jeopardizes everything else the Liberals and Conservatives say is good about the deal?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2016-12-12 16:15 [p.7970]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again to speak to CETA in the House, because there is a lot to talk about and I do not think we have done a good enough job yet of discussing what is in this deal. We have heard a lot of platitudes by those who support the deal and, I would say, not a lot of information. The government has certainly not provided any detailed study of the anticipated economic impact of this deal. Canadians are supposed to just take it on faith that somehow it is going to be good for them, their jobs, and their communities.
It is reasonable for Canadians to expect at any time, and particularly from a government that has promised to bring back evidence-based decision-making and a scientific approach to government, to be provided with information and analysis on the particular ways that the government thinks this deal would be beneficial. However, we have not received that at all. Instead, we get an ideological repetition of the idea that these deals must obviously be good.
The NDP, instead, has been trying to offer an example of how to look at an agreement's details, to evaluate the various clauses, and to come to a conclusion about whether, overall, it is a good agreement for the country. I do not think it is any secret that the conclusion New Democrats have come to on this particular deal is that it is not, on balance, good for Canada. I will get to why.
There is one thing we need to recognize, first and foremost, which may sound silly to say. When considering the positions and arguments advanced by other parties, it bears repeating that trade deals are an important part of public policy. It is not as if trade, on the one hand, is separate and divorced from all the other public policies of government, on the other hand. Trade deals have important implications for governments, particularly these kinds of comprehensive trade agreements. They set the economic framework and a number of other important rules under which government can or cannot apply other levers of public policy.
Consider, for instance, a previous trade agreement that Canada once had with the United States called the Auto Pact. It was an agreement on the trade of a particular good, in this case automobiles, across the border. The people who negotiated and concluded that agreement recognized that trade deals were public policy. Therefore, the public policy goals of that agreement were not just to create more wealth for transnational corporations. They said that if they were going to sign a trade deal, they needed to enunciate what their public policy goals were. An important public policy goal was to ensure that jobs were created within Canada and that the goods being sold in Canada actually meant that Canadians got a slice of the production of that good and received wages for the goods sold in Canada.
When we talk about trade deals of different kinds and the values that can be represented in them, here is an example of a trade deal that we should not need to approve just because it concerns trade. Let us face it, multinational corporations have negotiated with themselves, because they are advising all of the various governments involved in these negotiations. These are not negotiations including union leaders and people representing the interests of the environment and ordinary Canadians. They are largely negotiations with government representatives and representatives of multinational corporations meeting behind closed doors and coming up with rules. Then, when they come out of that negotiating room, we are told that either we agree with trade or we do not, and that this particular set of rules that has been negotiated behind closed doors represents the best possible scenario for ordinary Canadians. That is a laughable claim. They never provide any evidence to back up that claim and we are supposed to just take it on faith. When we look at agreements like this, it is not clear what the public policy goal is.
Consider CETA, for instance. This agreement, we know, because it has been confirmed by a number of independent studies, will raise the cost of pharmaceutical drugs in a country that already has among the highest such costs. We need to go from where we are right now with respect to the costs of drugs and to find ways to bring those down, and we know that CETA would move us in the wrong direction. What gain would we be making that would offset that loss, unless the public policy goal, perversely, of the government is to fatten the wallets of international pharma?
I do not think that is a defensible public policy goal. However, if that is the goal of the government, let it say so; and if it is not, let it tell us what we are getting out of this deal that counteracts that effect on Canadians. If everyday Canadians are made to pay more for their pharmaceutical drugs, that is a tangible cost, and what tangible benefit can they expect to see in return?
There are lots of other ways we could pursue other public policy goals within the context of these kinds of trade agreements. For instance, we could say that because we want green public transportation in Canada and with our trading partners, whether they be in Europe, the United States of America, or wherever else, we want a firm commitment, with timelines and penalties if these goals are not met, to work toward a common charger for electric vehicles. That would be a legitimate thing to do. Certainly, if a trade deal like CETA can pronounce on the minuscule details of municipal procurement, we could certainly reach a deal that would bring its member parties together to pursue a common charging standard that would allow that industry to reach economies of scale, increase production, whether in Canada or the other member countries, and begin greening public transportation in those various areas.
However, we never hear about that because we do not actually get into a debate about what the public policy goals of a trade deal are. Rather, we are just told that this will create massive wealth, that it will be great for everyone, and that everyone is going to get a job after we pass this.
The evidence does not support that at all if we look at the historical record of what has happened in the Canadian manufacturing sector since the late 1980s and early 1990s when we began signing these kinds of agreements. No further evidence has been provided. When we look at the historical track record, I would argue it is not particularly good, and we are not given any contrary evidence.
We might also say that when it comes to labour mobility, for instance, these agreements tend to have lots of provisions on how companies can bring in their own workers from wherever to perform work here in Canada that ought to be performed first and foremost by Canadians who are looking for this kind of work. That is not the right way to go about this in these provisions, but we do know that there are labour mobility challenges. For instance, trade unions who have hiring halls have people here who are out of work and there are places with labour demand in the United States, and those people cannot get that work because in order to be authorized to do the work, they first need an employer and a visa. However, because there is an agreement in which the employers go to the hiring hall to fill their labour demands, the workers need to be cleared to work at the hall first, but until they are cleared at the hall they do not have an employer so they cannot apply for the visa and cannot be cleared at the hall until they have a visa. That is a legitimate labour mobility issue.
We could be working to address labour mobility issues in that way rather than encouraging the import of temporary foreign workers who then work only for that company and who are thus, frankly, under the dictatorship of that company, because if the company decides for whatever reason that those workers are complaining too much about their working conditions or if the company does not pay them what they were promised when they came over, the workers can be sent back by the company. That is not a fair arrangement for those workers. It is not a fair arrangement for Canadians who are expected to then compete against them. There are other ways to do that, but these do not come up when we are talking about these deals.
What the NDP is trying to do in this debate is to say that there are other ways of doing this and there are other important public policy goals that ought to be taken into consideration when we pursue trade agreements. However, successive Liberal and Conservative governments have failed to do this. That is the problem. That is what we are trying to zero in on. We are trying to show that, yes, trade deals and trade is important, but there is more than one way to do it. There are an infinite number of ways. This particular way, in which we take away the ability of democratically elected governments in Canada and elsewhere to make decisions about health, the environment, and working conditions within their own jurisdiction and to put them at the mercy of trade tribunals that are more concerned about whether transnational corporations are losing money than about the substance of those issues, is the wrong way to do it. That is not to say there is not a way to do it, but it means that we have to ask more of our governments here in Canada when it comes to negotiating a trade deal.
Conservatives and Liberals alike have shown that they are not up to the task. Although we have seen a change in government, we have yet to see a change in approach. We saw the same when David Emerson switched from being the Liberal international trade minister to being the Harper international trade minister, and we saw it when the current Minister of International Trade hugged the former international trade minister on the floor of the House of Commons the day CETA was signed. There is no difference between the two.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2016-12-12 16:26 [p.7972]
Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands that there is something fundamentally broken at the conceptual level with the investor-state dispute settlement clauses. There absolutely is. Giving foreign companies the ability to intervene in areas of domestic policy-making, which we elect democratically governments to do, is just completely backward.
The idea that somehow in order for those companies to get fair treatment in Canada we need these investor-state provisions, when we have a whole body of common law and other international agreements that give reasonable assurances to those companies they will not be treated unfairly, is also wrong. Added to that is a mechanism by which these transnational corporations can use the threat of serious financial punishment of a government in order to direct its policy behaviour. That is what is wrong about this. It is not about fair treatment. That already exists under the law before we sign these agreements. This is about whether we are going to give these companies the hammer and the threat of it use to direct government policy. That obviously is wrong and should not be a component of deals going forward.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2016-12-12 16:29 [p.7972]
Mr. Speaker, I think that is exactly what is required. I cannot imagine a large company embarking on a new contract with a new supplier or new partner without doing some serious due diligence. I cannot imagine that they sit down in corporate boardrooms and say they have the opportunity to have a partnership with a major new supplier or a competitor who wants to join with them and that they are going to approve the merger simply because bigger is better and mergers are good. I cannot imagine their saying they do not need to take the time to study it, they do not need any numbers, because they believe that bigger is better is a good economic principle and therefore that they just need to go ahead. I cannot imagine their saying that all of the questions are just slowing them down and that the board needs to stop asking questions about the money and the jobs and about their obligations under a new contract and just plow ahead because it is a great principle, that they run the company based on principles, not on spreadsheets or numbers.
There is not a company that would last a day in the market if it ran itself that way, and Canadians should expect better from their government.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2016-11-23 16:29 [p.7141]
Madam Speaker, the member just mentioned Brian Mulroney fighting an election over NAFTA, but of course it was not NAFTA. It was the free trade agreement. NAFTA was actually brought in by the Liberals. To be sure, it was negotiated by Brian Mulroney and the Conservatives, but it was actually the Liberals who ran on a promise to change it and who gave Canadians the impression they were not very committed to it, then went ahead and brought it in.
I cannot help but notice the similarity of that to the position we are now in. For instance, in the election, the Liberals said they were not really in support of the TPP. Since coming into government, they have launched consultations within the country, but internationally, the Prime Minister has been out promoting the deal. They took CETA and picked up right where the Conservatives left off. They have been moving that project ahead despite the fact they have not presented any real evidence about how it will be good for the country, and they have not done anything to mitigate some of the real costs of the agreement.
I wonder if the member has noticed the same approach to trade by the Liberals, to give Canadians who have legitimate concerns about free trade the impression that they are on board with those concerns when they were in opposition, and then steamroll ahead when they are in government.
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