The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed about time we were debating this agreement in the House of Commons. It has been a long time coming. In fact, when I became minister of international trade, way back in 2010, negotiations on this agreement had already begun, thanks to the leadership of prime minister Harper and my predecessor in that role as trade minister, Stockwell Day.
It has been a long time coming, but it should be acknowledged that at that time, when I became minister, China was kind of all the rage. We hear that it might be all the rage nowadays. However, one of the things that struck me at the time was it seemed to me there were a fair number of inequalities in the trading relationship with China. We were running a severe trade deficit. Our investors in China were having a great deal of difficulty having their legal rights respected. I thought perhaps we should make our number one trading priority the negotiation of the Canada-Europe free trade agreement, as I chose to call it.
It did become the focus of our department's work, and certainly my work as minister. I felt it was an opportunity where we would be bringing together communities with similar values and similar economic approaches. In many cases, there were similar languages and similar legal systems. The opportunities were tremendous, and as we saw, the negotiations proceeded with tremendous success.
Why was it so important? We had a study undertaken to determine whether or not it was worthwhile embarking on negotiations. That study found that there would be a $12-billion annual boost to the Canadian economy from such an agreement, and that was way before 2010. When we hear that number, and I have seen it bandied about in this debate, it is reasonable to assess that the number that is now almost a decade old would be much higher today as the economies and opportunities have advanced. Therefore, I think we are looking at far more than a $12-billion boost to the Canadian economy. We will certainly need that. That will be a boost that will be coming as a result of a trade agreement like this.
There were some very special things about how this was negotiated that were different than any negotiation before. One of them was the inclusion of the provinces. Canada is a challenging jurisdiction for the negotiation of trade agreements because much of what is on the table, much of what we will have to implement by way of legislation or regulatory changes, is in provincial jurisdiction, thanks to our Constitution. As a result, we structured a negotiating process that had the provinces at the table for the very first time. I know the narrative, the history, that mainstream academics like to talk about in the media was that we did not have great co-operation. We had better co-operation on trade with the provinces than any other government ever in history. It was groundbreaking, and very important. It was one of the reasons we were able to succeed in this complex negotiation, never mind the complexities of the many jurisdictions on the other side of the equation in the European Union.
We also had unprecedented consultations with the various stakeholders. Some of it was structural. Some of it was regular briefings. For example, I remember meeting with the municipalities across Canada, and so on, so that they were apprised, because there were issues that were going to affect them. All of these played into it.
One of the things I saw as a tremendous opportunity for Canada was the fact that if we look at all the countries of the European Union, we have here in Canada significant populations from each and every one of those jurisdictions. I thought about the tremendous potential for us to harness the fact that we have people with ties of language, culture, ethnicity, family, and previous business. We have many recent immigrants with those ties back home, and given the opportunity to expand that trade, think of the potential that could be undertaken there.
Canada has had a unique challenge in our trade that is also our greatest strength. We have beside us the United States of America, a country with similar values, similar languages, and similar legal system, and great roots that we have in common. Therefore, for Canadians and Canadian businesses, that has given us a huge potential to trade. We have such a strong trading relationship. As a relatively small country, we depend on the ability to export elsewhere, especially to that huge market in the United States.
However, the problem for Canada became, and I believe still is, that it is almost too easy. It is so much easier to go and form trading relationships with people where we do not have to learn a new language, or a new legal system or jurisdictions. We can talk about the football game we watched on TV, or the sitcom that was on the networks last week, and still have all those ties together.
To make the decision to go somewhere else in the world for our exports, to learn those new markets, to learn the news systems and the local rules, is much more challenging. However, we have this ace in the hole of those populations here.
As trade minister, one of the things I worked very hard to do was work through those various communities in Canada. Almost every single one of them had a Canadian and whatever the country, members can take their pick, German, Belgian, whatever, chamber of commerce that brought together people of those backgrounds and those interests in Canada who were ready and willing to pursue those opportunities. I can say without exception that every single one of them was excited, engaged, and looking forward to the opportunities that would be presented by this remarkable trade agreement, such as the opportunities to prosper, export, create jobs, and the like.
When we think about it, there were other opportunities on the other side. I remember entertaining many potential foreign investors looking at Canada at the time. What they told me again and again was that there were so many things that were attractive about Canada. Under our Conservative government, we had delivered the lowest level of taxation on new job creators of any comparable jurisdictions. We had the most skilled workforce, the highest proportion of people with post-secondary education, and I could go on. They looked at our debt-to-GDP ratio, and the fact that we were focused on balanced budgets, and said, “As long as there is a Conservative government in place and we see these levels of low debt and deficit, we can have confidence that the numbers we put in our pro forma for taxation will remain for the foreseeable future, and that creates certainty for our investment.” They looked at all of those things and then said, “If you get that free trade agreement with Europe, picture it, you will be the only country in the world, the only major developed economy, with trade agreements with the two biggest economies in the world, the United States through NAFTA, and the European Union. If you're looking for a place to invest a platform, a place to create jobs and produce the products that you're going to export into those marketplaces, nowhere would be better than Canada.”
We will see if that will remain the case. Hopefully, the government will be able to do a reasonable job, although it has already started unilateral disarmament with the Americans vis-à-vis NAFTA. However, if it can hold its own in those negotiations we will continue to hold that position and this agreement will hold that promise for Canada, and that will continue to be the case. It now looks unlikely that the United States, with its current political direction, will proceed very far with its efforts to negotiate a free trade agreement with Europe. That is a huge potential opportunity for us as a destination for investment in that regard. That is something that, when we look at this agreement, when we look at the potential that Canada has, is one of the things that to me was very promising from a job creation and investment perspective.
However, there are worrying signs. I talked about that unilateral disarmament approach of the Liberal government, where it has already volunteered to look at renegotiating NAFTA. The problem is this. Notwithstanding the perceptions that people have, the Americans are not ideological trade negotiators. They are very much self-interested negotiators and they look to maximize their self-interests. If it were not for the charm of one Brian Mulroney and his ability to connect a relationship with Ronald Reagan, we would never have had a NAFTA that was as fair and beneficial for both countries as it is. Therefore, I am very concerned about the potential to do that.
The Liberals are not natural trade negotiators. In all of their 13 years in power in the previous Liberal government, they only negotiated three trade agreements. Some people said two earlier. It was three. They were with economic behemoth powerhouses: Costa Rica, Chile, and Israel. Those agreements were so unambitious that when I was trade minister we reopened all three so that we could make them into stronger agreements that delivered more benefits to Canada. I am pleased to say that we delivered on those. Therefore, are they natural negotiators? I do not know. Fortunately, they inherited this Canada-Europe trade agreement, and although they did find a way to delay it for a year and put a lot of stuff at risk, I hope that 90% of it is intact when compared to what we had arrived at in terms of agreements with the Europeans when we left government and that there will be potential there.
I am excited that this agreement is finally here in the House of Commons and that some of that potential can be harnessed. These things take much longer than they should because of the complexity of so many jurisdictions not only here in Canada but, more importantly, in the European Union.
At the end of the day, free trade means less government; free trade means lower taxes; and free trade means more opportunity, more jobs, more economic growth, and more economic development. That is why this Conservative Party has been so associated with all the great advances of free trade throughout the history of the past century or so in Canada. I am very proud to have played a very small role in that, together with my colleagues.
Mr. Speaker, someone else who I did not get a chance to pay tribute to here who is perhaps really the godfather of the Canada-Europe Union free trade agreement, and I have not heard his name too much, is Jean Charest. When he was premier of Quebec, this former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada took the initiative and got the thing kick-started. He deserves real credit for that. I think it is one of the reasons why the provinces, including Quebec, which is sometimes a bit of a challenge on these sorts of agreements, were among the greatest champions of it.
The problems were not really there. The problems are usually with the partners. We were lucky. We had great partners. I know in my travels throughout Europe, especially the eastern Europeans, people who had experienced socialism, who had experienced how terrible it is when the government tries to run every expect of people's lives, taxing them to death, desperately wanted an agreement that anchored them to the free market model of low taxes that they saw here in Canada. They were very keen to see it. Even there, we had a good opportunity.
However, my concern is on the other aspect of the hon. member's question, and that is, the government can throw up its hands and negotiate with the Americans anytime it wants in NAFTA. I can tell that the hon. member has never sat down with American trade negotiators. As I said, this is not a question of philosophical, ideological commitment to free trade and small government. That is now how the Americans approach things. They decide, what the interests are they want, how they can help their business, and how they can use the fact that they are the biggest market around, with all that power and all the leverage, to get where they want.
The original Canada-U.S. free trade agreement would not have happened if it were not for Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan getting beyond that interest approach to negotiating, to doing what was right and fair for both. I really do not like the idea of unilateral disarmament, when people come to the table and say “Hey, guys, what do you want to take from us today?” That is what the Liberal government is doing.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House to join in the debate on Bill , an act to implement the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union and its member states and to provide for certain other measures.
I must admit that, at first, I was worried for certain sectors of the economy in my riding, dairy production in particular. I want to congratulate the and the for their work in responding to the concerns stemming from this agreement. It is only a start, but I will get back to that a little later in my speech.
For the past year, I have met with multiple stakeholders from the agricultural sector and heard various points of view. One consistent point is that food production must increase by at least 50% by 2050. Canada has a unique opportunity to position itself as the go-to supplier for world demand for food. But in order to do that, we will need to provide our farmers, our processors, and the agrifood supply chain a competitive advantage. That is where CETA comes in. While not perfect, it would provide a greater opportunity for our farmers and the agrifood sector to position themselves as key players in the European market. The EU is among the world's largest markets for food. Removing barriers for our agricultural sector would be part of this agreement.
We need to consider these important facts: almost half of the value of Canada's agricultural production is exported; and two-thirds of our pork, 80% of our canola and canola products, and 90% of our pulse crops are exported.
Let us consider this, then: tariff barriers currently stand at approximately 14%, on average. That means that Canadian agricultural businesses are at a competitive disadvantage compared with those in the European Union. CETA will allow them to be as competitive as European farm operations. When the agreement comes into force, nearly 94% of tariff barriers will be eliminated. This is good news.
However, I would encourage my colleagues not to take my word for it, but rather that of the experts at Cereals Canada, which includes the Producteurs de grains du Québec and the Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and the Canadian Pork Council, to name a few. They all support this agreement. This is good news for agriculture.
What is more, we intend to stay the course. We will continue to fight so that Canadian agriculture can thrive and the supply management system is maintained. It is true that the agreement is not perfect, but the , the , my colleagues and I have worked relentlessly to ensure that our dairy sector can continue to prosper.
Several meetings were held with Canadian dairy farmers, processors, provincial associations, and many young farmers. Discussions focused on the best way to strengthen the sector so that it can face the national and international challenges that lie ahead, and on the transition assistance in light of new market access under CETA.
Our government has been clear from the beginning regarding the need to help dairy farmers and processors make the transition with respect to CETA. That is why we announced a $350-million investment in two new programs aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of our dairy industry in anticipation of CETA's implementation. The government is committed to preserving the vitality of the dairy industry by contributing to farmers' and processors' continued ability to innovate and increase productivity.
The first program is the dairy farm investment program. This five-year, $250-million program will provide targeted contributions to help Canadian dairy farmers update farm technologies and systems and improve productivity by upgrading their equipment.
The second program is the dairy processing investment fund. This four-year, $100-million program aims to help dairy processors modernize their operations and thereby increase their productivity and efficiency, and also diversify their product lines so as to profit from new market opportunities.
These programs will complement the dairy sector's ongoing investment efforts, helping both current and future generations of dairy farmers and processors to remain competitive for the long term within a strong supply management system.
We have already seen the positive impact of this announcement. Already, Gay Lea Foods in Ontario has announced an investment of $140 million to create an ingredient plant.
However, that is not all. We have heard loud and clear about the ongoing problems that negatively impact our supply-managed sectors, particularly our dairy and chicken farmers. We need to address the duties relief program and spent fowl. Consultations will be launched with industry stakeholders regarding potential changes to the duty relief program and the import for re-export program.
We are exploring measures regarding inventory reporting in an effort to improve the predictability of these imports. Our government will also look at specific options regarding certification requirements for imports of spent fowl while ensuring that any such requirements would be fully consistent with Canada's international trade obligations. These are key concerns for our supply-managed industry, and our government is taking action to support these sectors.
With regard to the allocation of CETA cheese quotas, the government is currently reviewing the results of the public engagement process that concluded at the end of August. The 's decision will take stakeholders' views and interests into consideration in determining how to allocate the new CETA cheese quotas. The allocation policy for cheese tariff rate quotas will be finalized following the passage of the CETA implementation legislation and before the agreement's entry into force.
These are the actions of a government that is committed to the people it represents. Some will say we are taking too much time, but as my mother used to say, “better late than never”. One is better off making the right decision than the wrong one.
Although there are challenges, the Canadian dairy sector continues to be progressive and innovative. Canadian dairy producers are doing an excellent job meeting the needs of consumers, whether in terms of food quality, animal welfare, the environment, or good products with high nutritional value.
Consumers like Canadian dairy products. Production continues to grow every year. Butter consumption increased by 10% over the last decade. Yogurt consumption increased by over 60% during the same period, and should continue to rise.
Canada’s dairy producers are among the industry’s world leaders with respect to the environment.
Canada’s dairy industry has a smaller ecological footprint for carbon, water and earth than most of the other big dairy producers worldwide. This is good news.
Today’s dairy producers are able to produce 14% more milk than 20 years ago, thanks to better genetics, better nutrition and better farming practices. They are able to do this with 24% fewer cows, while generating 20% less greenhouse gas. This is reason to be proud of our dairy producers.
The announcement of November 10 contributes to the industry’s success by further modernizing our dairy sector. Much progress has been made, but we must always continue to innovate.
The and the have heard our dairy producers loud and clear, and they will continue to listen to them, while the government will continue to consult other industry players to get their advice and thereby orient the program’s design and help to ensure that these programs meet the needs of producers and processors in tangible ways.
I undertake to do the same, continuing to work closely with producers and processors in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, the riding I represent.
Supply management is a system that works, and it is through collaboration that we will ensure its sustainability. When I was little, it was “Never without my milk”. I will never forget those who produce that milk.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today, as the member of Parliament for Surrey—Newton and also a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade, in support of Bill . The comprehensive economic and trade agreement signed between Canada and the European Union's member states represents a new model for the world on what is possible through a well-thought-out comprehensive trading relationship.
It is amazing to think of the scope of opportunity available to Canada as a result of this agreement. The numbers cannot lie: 28 European Union member states with more than 500 million people and GDP of more than $19 trillion. This is the world's largest single marketplace and, according to a joint report released by Canada and the European Union, this kind of partnership is estimated to increase the value of bilateral trade by 22.9% and increase annual growth of our GDP by approximately $13 billion. In fact, the CETA would establish Canada as the only G8 country and one of the only countries in the world to have preferential access to the world's two largest markets, the U.S. and the European Union.
Numbers are often thrown around without context, so while they are very impressive, they are often unable to translate their impact into communities like my riding of Surrey—Newton. I want to spend a few minutes speaking about exactly that aspect of this historic bill, because ultimately it is just another piece of this government's focus to strengthen Canada's middle class and to provide more opportunities for those wishing to join it. The elimination of trade barriers means lower prices on everything from food to cars that are imported from Europe. However, it is bigger than that because, for Surrey—Newton and other communities across British Columbia, our new preferential market access would represent great opportunity.
The European Union is already B.C.'s fifth-largest export destination and our fourth-largest trading partner. The elimination of the tariffs I just referred to would apply to almost all of the province's current exports and would provide B.C. a competitive advantage when compared to some of our major competitors who do not have the benefit of such an agreement. For our forest products, our metal and mineral resources, our aquaculture exports, and our information and communication technologies, the possibilities for growth are endless. For B.C.'s service suppliers, who represent 76% of the province's total GDP and comprise a sector that employs 1.7 million British Columbians, the CETA would represent greater security and predictability to the new opportunities that would now be available.
For small and medium-sized businesses, European Union procurement opportunities would now also be available with a new capability to supply goods and services to EU-level institutions like the European Commission and the European Parliament, but also to EU member state governments and thousands of regional and local government entities. This is a procurement market that is estimated to be worth about $3.3 trillion annually, which is a staggering figure.
I do not want to get caught up in just trumpeting the benefits of CETA without considering the work we have in front of us to make the agreement a reality.
This is what Bill is all about. In addition to formally approving the deal and outlining the ongoing administrative and operational costs that Canada is responsible for, it would also amend several pieces of legislation in order to ensure that our country is able to live up to the obligations to which we signed on. The numerous changes needed to the acts that govern import and export, patents, and investment, both from and to Canada, represent adjustments to our laws to ensure that Canadians and Canadian businesses are able to enjoy the maximum amount of benefit from this agreement.
These changes also present an opportunity for opponents of CETA, and indeed opponents of all multilateral trade agreements, to spread misinformation and create fear and confusion.
The reality is that it has taken more than seven years to ensure that we had a deal that protected public services for Canadians; that the government continued to have oversight on regulating environmental, labour, health care, and safety standards; that our public health care system and the quality of care that Canadians have come to expect are not threatened; that our water resources and the standards to which they must adhere are protected and maintained; that Canadian laws and regulations cannot be compelled to be changed by foreign investors or corporate interests; and most importantly, that Canadians continue to have access to information and complete transparency on the terms of this agreement.
These are the considerations that Canadian negotiators fought for, to ensure that Canadian sovereignty was not just given away.
Over the past year, I have listened to the testimony of many organizations that have presented their comments and concerns. I stand here today to state that the and all of our members of the Standing Committee on International Trade carefully considered each and every piece of testimony.
CETA is not a threat to the public interest. In fact, it is always with the best interests of Canadians that the government has engaged in negotiations over the past year. This means that compromises were always balanced with benefits and that, once again, the powers of the Canadian government and of our provincial and municipal counterparts are not at risk.
I want to conclude by stating that our sovereignty is more valuable than any trade figure, and CETA is not a threat to it, as many of the fearmongers would have Canadians believe. Canada remains as strong as ever and, as a result of this agreement, we are poised to enter a new era of prosperity and opportunity that would bring benefits to all British Columbians and to all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, at risk of repeating what has been said so many times in the House today, New Democrats support trade deals that reduce tariffs and boost exports, but we remain firm that components like investor-state provisions that threaten sovereignty have no place in trade deals.
In our view, the job of government is to pursue better trade, that is, trade that boosts human rights and labour standards, protects the environment, and protects, above all, Canadian jobs. A final trade deal must be based on its net costs and benefits. We have always been clear on this and have opposed trade deals in the past that would have a net negative impact on Canadian jobs and the environment.
To repeat what my colleagues have said, particularly the member for , who has been so strong on this file, trade with Europe is too important to get wrong. The NDP supports deepening our Canada-EU trading relationship to diversify our markets. However, there remain significant concerns and unanswered questions about the proposed CETA deal.
First, changes in CETA will increase drug costs for consumers. Second, there are concerns about local procurement, particularly for local governments. Third, investor-state provisions will have to be removed before this deal is ratified, and fourth, the Liberals have not properly compensated dairy farmers for their loss of market share under CETA.
With respect to the first, increasing drug costs are a significant and known downside of CETA, yet the Liberals have not delivered on their promised compensation to the provinces and territories for the increased cost of prescription drugs to provincial taxpayers and consumers. Changes to intellectual property rights for pharmaceuticals under CETA are expected to increase drug costs by more than $850 million annually.
Quoting Jim Keon, the president of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, he said:
A study prepared for the [Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association] by two leading Canadian health economists in early 2011 estimated that, if adopted, the proposals would delay the introduction of new generic medicines in Canada by an average of three and a half years. The cost to pharmaceutical payers of this delay was estimated at $2.8 billion annually, based on generic prices in 2010
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions has also warned that it could be more difficult to bring down drug prices through a national pharmacare program if CETA comes in.
In opposition, the Liberals demanded that the Conservatives present a study of the financial impact on provinces and territorial governments, both on their health care systems and on prescription drug costs. Now that they are in government, they are telling the provinces that they will cut health care transfers, while pursuing agreements that risk increasing drug costs for the provinces.
According to the Canadian Health Coalition, the delayed arrival of cheaper generics will increase the cost of prescription drugs for Canadians by between $850 million and $2.8 billion a year.
CETA is the first Canadian bilateral free trade agreement since NAFTA that includes a chapter on intellectual property rights. It goes well beyond Canada's existing obligations. The increased patent protections granted to brand name pharmaceuticals were an EU priority, but they are not a Canadian priority. We heard this all the time during the election campaign. When door-knocking in all kinds of neighbourhoods, we heard from Canadians who were splitting their pills, skipping prescriptions, not taking their full prescribed drugs each day, and having to make the terrible choice between buying food and taking the medication their doctor had prescribed. That is a terrible situation, and to think that the current government would risk exacerbating that problem for consumers is unimaginable to me and is certainly not consistent with its campaign promises.
My second area of concern is local procurement. When I was elected to local government, TILMA, the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement, was proposed. It was very controversial in British Columbia.
These days, local governments are encouraged, when they raise taxes on property owners, to then spend those taxes in the local community as much as they can. The local government will contract someone to put up a website, for example, or if it needs catering for a government operation or public function, it might bias that procurement toward local providers and maybe even pay a premium. This has been done more and more. However, the local procurement restrictions increasingly threaten and intimidate local governments from doing those fantastic things that are good for local business and good for the local economy.
We hear that above a certain threshold, minimum local content policies will be outlawed, even for municipal and provincial government procurement. Companies will also have an expanded ability to use temporary foreign workers, without a study of the impact on Canadians.
My third area of concern is the investor-state provisions. These are mechanisms that allow foreign corporations to sue our government if they feel that our regulations have impeded their ability to profit. We know this too well in Canada. Canada is already one of the most sued countries in the world under investor-state dispute mechanisms. Canadian companies have won only three of 39 cases against foreign governments, and our government continues to get new complaints seeking billions of dollars in damages.
One example currently before the courts is Lone Pine Resources, an oil and gas developer that had obtained an exploration permit to look for shale gas under the St. Lawrence River. The Quebec government took the very bold step of revoking the permit in response to constituents' concerns about fracking, but Lone Pine sued the Canadian government, under its U.S. affiliate, under NAFTA chapter 11 and sought $250 million in compensation.
What other province is going to be as brave as the Quebec government and take a stand against something like fracking if there is this kind of chill? This is a real problem. Existing investor-state dispute provisions have also resulted in a regulatory chill where governments have failed to take action in the public interest when they have feared that it may trigger an investor claim.
The Canadian Environmental Law Association said:
[CETA] will significantly impact environmental protection and sustainable development in Canada. In particular, the inclusion of an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, the liberalization of trade in services, and the deregulation of government procurement rules will impact the federal and provincial governments' authority to protect the environment, promote resource conservation, or use green procurement as a means of advancing environmental policies and objectives.
That worries me, every piece of it.
In February 2016, during CETA's legal scrubbing phase, the minister announced changes to the ISDS provisions that are supposed to improve transparency and strengthen measures to combat the conflicts of interest of arbitrators. However, the new court system still allows foreign investors to seek compensation from any level of government for any policy decision they feel would impact their profits.
The Liberals still have not explained how they would ensure that environmental health and safety regulations would be protected from foreign challenges.
Fourth, the Liberals have not properly compensated dairy farmers for loss of market share under CETA. Quoting the Dairy Farmers of Canada:
CETA will result in an expropriation of up to 2% of Canadian milk production; representing 17,700 tonnes of cheese that will no longer be produced in Canada. This is equivalent to the entire yearly production of the province of Nova Scotia, and will cost Canadian dairy farmers up to $116 million a year in perpetual lost revenues.
We cannot afford to be making and processing less of our own food. We cannot afford to be undermining dairy farmers, who are at the foundation of the way our country and our rural economies have grown. We cannot let this go.
The Liberals also have not explained whether and how they will compensate Newfoundland and Labrador for fish processing losses. Again, this is a time we should be adding value to our natural resources, not trading them away.
Given all these concerns and all these unresolved issues, I will quote Maude Barlow, from the Council of Canadians:
Given the process could take another five years in Europe, what's the rush here other than another photo op? There needs to be a fuller public consultation process on CETA, just as the government has done with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
I will leave, finally, by saying once again that New Democrats want better trade, trade that boosts human rights and labour standards, protects the environment, and protects Canadian jobs. This is not a progressive trade deal until those measures are implemented. If the Liberal government will not stand up for progressive trade deals, New Democrats surely will.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell members how excited I was when I saw that job creation in Central Nova was going to be on the docket for debate today, which is what international trade is all about.
Whether we are talking about the agrifood producers in the Musquodoboit Valley, the fisheries on the north Northumberland Strait on the eastern shore, small businesses in Antigonish, or manufacturers in Pictou county, international trade is about generating new business and ultimately creating jobs, which is my top priority as long as I hold this office.
Before I begin, I would like to take a moment to highlight the global context within which this debate about the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement takes place.
There is a growing trend toward what I will call inward facing politics. Quite honestly, I find this to be one of the most troubling political trends, and potentially the greatest intellectual debate that we may have in a generation next to climate change.
What I see around the world, whether it is with Brexit or a rise of nationalism in different parts of the world, is an attitude that we do not need our neighbours to get by. When it comes to matters of immigration to security, economics or climate change, I firmly believe we are better when we work together, when we co-operate.
It is easy to understand where this belief comes from. When we talk about billions and billions of dollars, when we frame everything in the context of GDP, I can empathize with many people at home who perhaps see these numbers and think that is not working for them. However, I could not disagree more strongly, because international trade is one of the avenues that we can pursue to help grow our economy and create jobs in my own community.
The starting point for me is that economic development is a good thing. Perhaps it is a bit obvious, but it is worth stating. It is not just because we have the opportunity to have more money in our bank accounts. With economic development, we see improved health care outcomes and better hospital care for our kids. We see improved economics and job creation in our communities so people have something meaningful to do with their career. We see better education opportunities for young people in our communities. We see more vibrant communities and ultimately a higher quality of life for Canadians.
How do we get to economic development in Canada?
I look at some of our assets. We have an abundance of natural resources. We have been blessed in every square inch of the country to be able to produce something. We also have an incredibly skilled workforce. We have tremendous education. We have the tools to make economic development work for our communities.
However, one of the shortcomings we have as a country is a small population relative to the magnitude of our resources and our skilled workforce. What we have to do to turn these opportunities into jobs is start selling to customers outside of our own country. This is where international trade comes into the picture for me.
If we can open up new markets for our natural resources and the products we create with our skilled workforce, we will be able to put more people to work in our own communities. This is why I have been incredibly thrilled with the approach that the government has taken toward international trade. Indeed, after some strong advocacy by my colleagues in the Atlantic caucus on this side of the House, we have managed to secure investment and trade as a key pillar to the Atlantic growth strategy, which was announced this past summer.
With this context in mind, I would like to turn this into a more local discussion.
When I look at these small businesses in my riding, I need to look no further than MacKay Meters on Abercrombie Road in Pictou county to identify a perfect opportunity of how the Canada-European Union trade agreement is going to create jobs in my home town. This is an incredibly innovative company that makes parking metres. There is only a handful of companies that make parking metres in the global community, and these guys do it better than anybody.
The company makes solar-powered parking metres, sometimes made almost exclusively of recycled materials. It is also very close to working on a technology that can retrofit its parking metres to become electric vehicle chargers. It also holds a patent that allows it to accept major credit cards for payment for parking and potentially for charging electric vehicles.
When I look at what is going on around the world, I see the Netherlands has adopted legislation that says that after 2025, it will not be selling any more cars that use gas or diesel to move the wheels. It is going to be purchasing electric vehicles in Europe. If I want to be able to create an opportunity for a company that has a manufacturing base in my community and a research and development office in Halifax, I would look no further than this group that has powered automobiles across Europe for a generation.
It is not just one company. There are a lot of small and medium-sized businesses that generate positive economic outcomes. I can look at Velsoft, a company that creates computer training materials for tech giants like Microsoft, that will not face unfair tariffs and that will help expand its access to global markets. I can look at a company like Bionovations based in Antigonish that manufactures through its own research and development shipping containers that allow it to transport live seafood, which is our nation's second-largest export, and a massive opportunity for eastern Canada.
While I am on the lobster fishery, we are already seeing incredible economic returns from a policy of engaging with the world when it comes to our seafood exports.
In lobster fishing communities there are only a couple of things one can do to really have a bumper crop, so to speak. There could be more fish in the water, which is, for the most part, beyond the scope of government policy, or there could be a better price for the fish that we sell. Last year, it was incredible to see fishermen in my community getting $7.75 a pound, which is nearly unheard of. The best thing I can have for some of the communities that I represent, whether it is Sheet Harbour, Lismore, Sonora, is a high price on lobster. This is a terrific thing, although it might be personally inconvenient for me at times when I get hungry at home.
This agreement will help sustain rural Canada. We are going to be saving little fishing communities along the eastern shore and the Northumberland Strait if we continue to engage with the world. The demand for Nova Scotia lobster creeps higher and higher with every conversation we have with another member of the global community.
It is not just the primary industry or the small manufacturers that are going to benefit. We have tremendous opportunity in 21st century sectors like the aerospace industry. We have Halifax international airport in my riding. The Aerotech Business Park is right there as well. Pratt & Whitney Canada is currently subject to significant barriers to trade and tariffs when it comes to the EU, which is the largest importer of aerospace technology. I see an opportunity for these innovation players, like Pratt & Whitney, in and around the airport. If that means there will be more aerospace engineers working in communities I have been elected to represent, I will feel as though I am doing my job fairly well.
We also have tremendous opportunities when it comes to transportation. I have two coasts in my riding, each of which is dotted with shipyards and ports. The port in Sheet Harbour would love to have open access for local markets to the European Union. It has a deepwater port that it would love to expand and take on the increased traffic that would be shipping. There would be more work for the stevedores and their community.
It is not just international trade from which we have such a great benefit. Embracing modern trade agreements like this also promote investment in our communities.
I need to look no further than the shipyard in Pictou where it manufactured turbines that went into commission just recently to generate 21st century clean power through tidal resources in Parrsboro. This is a benefit to the entire region, promoting clean energy and high-skill manufacturing jobs that we can do in Canada, and we need to be promoting them.
If we can give certainty to investors around the world so they have their international companies putting money from somewhere else into the communities that we represent in Canada, that create jobs for people in our communities, we can be very proud.
As I mentioned at the outset, my number one priority from the moment I stepped into this office was to create more jobs at home. By promoting international trade and opening up markets for Canadian businesses in the European Union, we will create opportunities for the private sector to grow and hire more people who live in Pictou county, Antigonish, the Musquodoboit Valley, the Eastern Shore, and everywhere in between.
By standing up and speaking in support of this legislation, I will have done the job I have been elected to do and I will help businesses create work for the people who so desperately need jobs at home.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.
I have listened intently over the last few days to the debate. I think it is a healthy debate. Clearly, there are two groups here that support this agreement and are willing to move forward and create some Canadians jobs and, clearly, there are others in the House who appear to be against trade, despite their tweeting and facebooking on the iPhones and the Apple computers they have, which are products of trade. It is surprising to me that we have people here who put up every type of roadblock against trade.
I would like to start by acknowledging the hard work of our hon. colleagues on this side, the hon. members for , , and , who worked hard on this agreement under the previous government to get it to the point where it would come to fruition. I think it should be noted today that a lot of that heavy lifting was done by our Conservative government and our trade team, which did a considerable amount of work on this project in getting it to where it is today.
In light of the Canadian Football League and the Grey Cup that will be taking place this weekend, I am going to start my speech with a few football analogies, if I can.
It was our previous minister of trade and our trade team that got us to first in goal. The present and trade team is now at fourth in inches, so to say. The heavy lifting, again, as I said, was done by us and our trade team. The hard work our trade team did got us to a goal line drive. It did an amazing job and brought us to the goal line drive and the present government has used every timeout and down to get us within inches of the goal.
Now, there is more to be done. I am not taking away from the Liberal government the work it has done to get us to this point and I am acknowledging that the present has got it to where it is today. However, I also would like to acknowledge the strong leadership of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who fought passionately for Canadian jobs and the Canadian industry.
Former Prime Minister Harper understood that Canada is first and foremost a trading nation. He understood that one in five jobs was dependent upon trade and that 70% of our GDP was driven by trade. When former Prime Minister Harper sat at the negotiating table, he got the job done and, surprise, surprise, not a selfie needed to be taken to get it done.
This deal was successful because of the leadership and efforts of our former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his understanding that trade deals are what make our country competitive in an ever-increasing globalized world and that international trade agreements generate increased economic activities because diversification of our trade drives prosperity and job creation, I think it is definitely appropriate for us today to stand in the House and give kudos to our former strong trade team, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and, as well, as I said, the present .
Our previous government signed 43 trade agreements over the course of its tenure. We made critical investments in industry, transportation, and market development. That set Canada as a leader on the international stage, which helped us weather the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. It was through former Prime Minister Harper's strong vision that Canada's trade diversified.
CETA is our country's biggest bilateral trade agreement and trade initiative since NAFTA. When it comes into force, Canada will be one of the few countries in the world to have guaranteed preferential access to the world's two largest economies, the U.S. and the EU.
Well, that was until just two weeks ago, when the finally decided he was going to renegotiate NAFTA—but that is a speech for another time.
Imagine, as we go down the path with TPP and CETA, that the TPP would connect Canada to a market of 800 million consumers, with a combined GDP of $29 trillion or 35% of global GDP, which combined with CETA would give Canada the opportunity to be a North American trade hub and to take advantage of something that our friends from the south are woefully, right now, kind of tossing in the wind.
We are here to talk about CETA, a deal that is good for all of Canada and, specifically, for my home province of British Columbia. CETA connects Canadian producers to 500 million consumers. It provides access to the largest economy in the world. It is a good deal for Canadian producers and a great deal for Canadian consumers. It will open trade, almost eliminating tariff lines for trade with the EU.
Studies show that CETA would bring a 20% boost to our bilateral trade and a $12 billion increase to Canada's economy. That is the economic equivalent of adding $1,000 to the average Canadian family's income, or creating 80,000 jobs. Adding 80,000 new jobs is incredible.
The EU is already B.C.'s fifth-largest export destination and our fourth-largest trading partner. British Columbia stands to benefit significantly from preferential access to the EU market. Once in force, CETA will eliminate tariffs on almost all of B.C.'s exports and provide access to new market opportunities in the EU. The provisions in CETA will help erase regulatory barriers, reinforce intellectual property rights, and ensure more transparent rules for market access. B.C. is well positioned to take competitive advantage of this new agreement.
CETA is good for our farmers. It has been said time and again by members on all sides, whether in regard to our dairy, our beef, or our pork producers, that this is something that will benefit our agricultural sector and those beef and dairy farmers who wake up every morning before the sun rises and hard at work long after the sun goes down.
If the Liberals could only act in a similar way to the previous Conservative government and bring home a new softwood lumber agreement, everything would be amazing. Maybe we would even stand a chance of maintaining our current employment levels in our forestry industry.
Our Conservative Party believes that Canada should strive to maximize the benefits we have as a strong trading nation. The establishment of trading relationships beyond North America is exactly what CETA accomplishes.
Our fish and seafood exporters would also benefit from CETA, as the EU is the largest importer of fish and seafood, averaging $21 billion annually. The seafood industry has gone through many transitions and faces an uncertain future. When CETA comes into force, almost 96% of the EU tariff lines for fish and seafood will be duty free. In seven years, 100% of the products will be duty free. This is hugely important because, as I said, the EU is the world's largest importer of fish and seafood products. It comes down to a competitive advantage. Once the deal comes into force, Canada will have just that.
I would like to turn my attention back to my province. Through the strong leadership of the Conservative government, investments were made in British Columbia ports, gateways, and structures that would allow Canadian consumers, as well as manufacturers, to take full advantage of trade deals. We invested in the Asia Pacific gateway fund. We invested in the Go Global program that allowed small and medium-sized companies the opportunity to find out, once they get a trade deal, how to take advantage of it and fully prepare themselves to enter those markets. Not only did we do that, but we invested in ports, airports, railways, and roadways, so we could get our goods to market. That is exactly what our government did. We understood.
B.C. is a strategic gateway and can take full advantage of this new agreement. As a matter of fact, in my riding alone, we have the port of Prince Rupert, one of the largest and fastest marine routes. We have the third-longest runway in Canada in Prince George, which is equidistant to Europe and Asia.
One of the things we need to talk about is what we do after we get this agreement in place. We need to look at our policies as to how we take full advantage of it. We need to develop programs for how we can invest in our markets and our small and medium-sized organizations so they can fully experience the full opportunities of this agreement.