Interventions in the House of Commons
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View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, our government's progressive and strategically developed trade agenda draws on rules from throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Guided at all times by our values, it will eventually lead to new trade opportunities. Ignoring this market's tremendous potential for the middle class is neither realistic nor conducive to economic growth. Canadians expect us to engage in talks with China responsibly and in full knowledge of the facts. That is exactly what we intend to do for Canadians right across the country.
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Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the world has seen that Canada will always stand up for Canadians when it comes to trade negotiations. They saw that in Asia last week.
Our government believes in a rules-based, progressive, and strategic trade agenda throughout the Asia-Pacific that helps create new opportunities for Canadians across this country. To dismiss the enormous potential this market represents for our middle class is unrealistic and is not a plan to grow the economy. We are engaged with the Asian region.
Farmers and workers across this nation expect this government to engage in trade in a progressive and inclusive fashion, and that is exactly what we are going to do.
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Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, Canada is a strong supporter of progressive free trade. The Asia-Pacific is an important region and a priority market for our government.
During the last APEC meeting, tangible progress was made toward a possible agreement, including locking in enforceable provisions with respect to labour and the environment, and the suspension of an IP package that was not in Canada's interest.
However, there is still some work to be done. Our priority is to ensure that it is the right deal for Canadian workers and businesses. Our government looks forward to continuing negotiations on outstanding amendments, but will not rush into an agreement that is not in the interest of Canadians.
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Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I assure members that Canadians trust this government when it comes to international trade. Our government is committed to free and fair trade that is progressive, will grow the economy, and will help the middle class. Over the course of the APEC meeting our government made real progress toward a possible agreement. Environment and labour rights will form crucial pillars of the new agreement and will be subject to dispute settlement mechanisms.
However, there are still a number of issues that remain outstanding for Canada.
We are committed to fostering open markets and creating good, middle-class jobs. That is what Canadians expect from this government and that is what we will deliver.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke with passion. I have enormous respect for him, and he knows that.
The member wanted to know what the government had been doing. I can assure him that, as trade minister, I have not taken one trip abroad on behalf of Canadians without bringing up softwood to Asia, whether it is in China, Japan, or Korea. When we were with the Prime Minister in India, we talked about softwood.
I would invite the member, because he speaks so passionately about helping Canadians, to join in our efforts. We need to modernize our industry, bring innovation to it, and diversity it. I recognize the member's passion. I recognize my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have done work on this in the past.
However, I implore my colleagues, for those watching us at home, to join in the journey, come with me on trade missions, talk to the industry in Canada, and ensure that together we can sell more softwood around the world. Families in my riding, just like in his riding, depend on us to act.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.
The motion before the House calls on the government to reaffirm its support for forestry workers and denounce efforts by foreign-funded environmental activists to tarnish the Canadian forestry sector's environmental reputation. I am happy to be speaking today because forestry is central to the economic prosperity of my own region, the Mauricie, in Quebec.
I can assure the House that our government is well aware of the very real hardships the industry is facing and of the impact recent events have had on our forestry communities and their workers, in the Mauricie and elsewhere. I would remind the House that it was our government that took targeted and tangible measures to protect and defend the industry. We have also worked to foster new business opportunities in some highly competitive markets in order to ensure the prosperity of our forestry workers.
Our government is always endeavouring to find new, innovative ways of supporting every stakeholder in the industry, from large corporations and small family businesses to every last worker along the value chain, in every community that relies on forestry.
As Minister of International Trade, I know that over 70% of Canada's forestry products are exported. That is why selling our forest products to the world and Canada's international reputation as an environmentally responsible supplier of sustainable forestry products are among our government's top priorities.
As I was saying to my colleague opposite, my first team Canada trade mission was focused on the Chinese softwood lumber market and included all of our forestry partners, such as Canada Wood and Quebec and New Brunswick representatives. Our goal was to showcase the innovation that we are famous for in the Chinese market.
What I feel is important to emphasize today is that our industry, the best in the world, is about so much more than the product it sells. It offers real solutions to the needs of all modern societies: it supplies a product that is in demand, fights climate change, and adds major value. That is why we are opening up new markets for our producers. For one thing, we want them to have more choices, and for another, softwood lumber offers solutions and is an essential commodity for the biggest markets in the world.
We have also turned to other markets in Asia, where we have held meetings, such as in Singapore, in Vietnam and in the Middle East, to increase our exports and promote our commitment to sustainable forest management. The goal of our plan is to improve business relations with the current main foreign buyers of Canadian forestry products, and to establish stronger relations with new long-term buyers. We are doing that with the support of our team of highly qualified employees in Canada’s missions abroad, and we also use the tools and expertise of Export Development Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada and the Canadian Commercial Corporation.
As Canada’s chief marketing officer, I have made a priority of softwood lumber. I am first and foremost the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain. I have often had the opportunity to meet with employees at Resolute Forest Products, in Haute-Mauricie, and I can testify to their love for the forest and their professionalism. They are proud, hard-working and responsible people.
Remember, with my colleagues the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, we announced on June 1 that our government would invest $860 million in tangible measures under the Lumber Action Plan. My colleague called for tangible measures earlier. We have invested a total of nearly $1 billion to promote innovation and productivity in our forestry sector. This plan offers support to forestry workers and to communities affected by the United States' recent measures targeting softwood lumber.
This plan was developed to directly support workers, as mentioned by the Quebec Forestry Industry Council, whose new president recognizes the work that we have done and that we continue to do in support of the forestry industry. He was once a colleague of ours in the House, a Conservative member; I salute him. That investment is concrete assistance for softwood lumber that will allow for its sustainability and ensure continued operations and development.
It is also our government that has taken strong and concerted action to counter the American administration's unfair measures. This action plan shows the Government’s commitment to taking quick action to overcome the difficulties our important forestry sector must face. It describes the overall strategy of our government to develop markets around the world in a targeted and global manner in order to increase the diversification of trade and Canadian wood and wood product markets as part of our commitment to promote a clean growth economy.
These concerted efforts, combined with the quality products of our Canadian businesses, have already provided initial results in terms of positive growth for exports of Canadian softwood lumber to markets outside the United States. For example, in the first half of 2017, exports to China increased by nearly $50 million dollars compared to the second half of 2016, which is a significant increase. India tripled its imports of Canadian softwood lumber over the same period. We have also seen positive growth in new and emerging markets, including the Philippines and South Korea.
These recent initiatives were not put in place overnight; they are based on our department’s long-standing commitment to support trade associations and businesses that want to develop international trade. Consequently the Canadian trade commissioner service, which has five central regional offices in Canada and more than 161 offices worldwide, is actively involved in various international trade promotion and development initiatives for Canadian forestry products in traditional and emerging markets, often in partnership with national and provincial trade associations throughout Canada, our federal partners at Natural Resources Canada, and of course, our provincial and territorial counterparts.
By working together, we obtain much better results. The trade commissioner service, whose focus is to help small and medium-sized businesses, has employees in 44 of our embassies and consulates around the world who are responsible for offering direct export support for Canada’s forestry product businesses.
These international trade professionals work on the ground, and I commend them for their efforts and know that my colleagues on both sides of the House do too. These professionals work to facilitate numerous initiatives to promote international trade development by Canadian wood product trade associations that receive funds form the expanding market opportunities program led by Natural Resources Canada.
Last year, the tangible results of that commitment included some 45 initiatives specific to forestry products and wood carried out in 16 countries by our trade commissioner service, more than 40 trade agreements with foreign organizations, and some 500 forestry sector clients across Canada who received services and support over the course of the year.
On behalf of forestry sector workers, I thank the trade commissioner service staff for being there to help.
I will set my notes aside and simply say to those watching us that the people who are familiar with the forestry sector, the workers who I meet when I return to my riding on the weekends, know that our government is there to help them. We are with them, we were with them, and we will be with them every step of the way.
As a member of the government, a member of the government's Quebec caucus, and a minister, I always have the interests of forestry workers at heart. I take every opportunity to promote them.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. He knows that I have a great deal of respect for him, as well. He represents a neighbouring riding.
I am happy to learn that my mandate letter contains 2,871 words. I had not looked at it that way, but what I can say is that we are there for more than 2,871 forestry workers. It is one thing to put words in a mandate letter, but quite another to listen to the needs of the forestry industry as a whole and to work with the people at the Quebec Wood Export Bureau and Canada Wood and with our colleagues in New Brunswick and British Colombia.
Our Prime Minister said that we would be an open and transparent government that would listen to people’s needs. My colleague has even condemned us a few times for holding too many consultations.
I can assure my colleague that I listened to more than 2,871 voices asking for help to ensure the development of the forestry industry in Canada.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by acknowledging my colleague, for whom I have enormous respect.
She is addressing a minister from a region of Quebec that relies on the forestry industry. I can tell her that we have taken real action in this matter. We set up a $867-million program to promote innovation and productivity. I encourage her to speak to union presidents and company directors. I encourage her to speak to the president of the Quebec Forest Industry Council, who was telling me recently that we are making progress and that the key is diversification. There are forestry workers in my region. I meet them on weekends, not when I am here in the House answering questions. We see them and interact with them every weekend.
I appreciate the hon. member’s question, because I know she cares about workers, but I can tell her that, on this side of the House, we do more than just ask questions. We take real action. On my trade missions, I have made sure that markets are opening up for our workers.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to salute my colleague.
We have been very clear: we will always defend supply management. We said so in French and we said so in English. The 40 Liberal MPs on this side of the House are working for farmers across the country. I can assure my colleague that we will always be there to defend supply management. We have always worked for farmers. People know that on this side of the House we do not just ask questions, we take action for our farmers.
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Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, common sense tells us that today is a great day for Canadians and small business owners.
In August 2015, we made an election promise that I am going to quote. “...we [will] reduce the small business tax rate to 9% from 11%....” Today we kept the promise we made. We are proud that we have kept our promise to reduce the business tax rate from 11% to 9%.
We really listened to Canadians, and the caucus, in order to make our tax system fairer for all Canadians.
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Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House that our Minister of Finance is in the universe that works hard for Canadians. The minister has worked with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to make sure that all conflict of interest laws are followed.
The appropriate steps have been taken to ensure full compliance with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's recommendations. This is what Canadians want to hear. On this side of the House, we work on behalf of Canadians.
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Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, as we know, it is a great day for small business owners in Canada.
In August 2015, we promised in our platform, and let me quote it because these members may want to hear the answer: “to reduce the small business tax rate to 9 percent from 11 percent”.
We said we should be doing that, and we now are doing what we promised. Our government is proud to fulfill our commitment to lowering taxes on small business from 11% in 2015 to 9% in 2019. We have truly listened to Canadians and our caucus to ensure a fairer tax system that will benefit all Canadians.
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Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a good day for Canadians. Canadians know that when we make a promise to Canadians, we fulfill this promise.
Let me answer the member's question. The minister has worked with the Ethics Commissioner to ensure that all conflict of interest rules are indeed followed. Appropriate measures and screens have been put in place in order to fully comply with the recommendations provided by the Ethics Commissioner. These members had better listen to Canadians.
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Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the treaties entitled “Agreement to Amend, in respect of investment and trade and gender, the Free Trade Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Chile, done at Santiago on 5 December 1996, as amended, between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Chile”, done at Ottawa on June 5, 2017; and the “Agreement to Amend the Free Trade Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Chile, done at Santiago on 5 December 1996, as amended, between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Chile”, done at Ottawa on June 5, 2017. An explanatory memorandum is included with each treaty.
I think this is a great day for Canadians. This is Canada's first free trade agreement that includes a provision on gender equality.
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