The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I will use my time to demonstrate why the progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership, or CPTPP, which Bill seeks to implement, is a bad deal.
The Liberals and the Conservative Party seem rather eager to get this bill passed. Try as I might, I cannot comprehend why. There have been extensive studies done in committee. Serious discussions needed to take place, but we should also have had more time to discuss the matter here, in the House. No one even bothered to listen to the evidence presented in committee. More than 400 witnesses appeared before the Standing Committee on International Trade, and comments were made by more than 60,000 people, 95% of which had negative things to say about the trans-Pacific partnership.
It is not just the NDP saying this. The people have spoken, loud and clear. If 95% of the 60,000 people having commented believe that it is a bad deal, I think the message is clear. As usual, however, the Liberals and Conservatives are doing as they please, totally disregarding what the people are saying. Holding consultations is all well and good, but they need to listen to what the people have to say, even if it does not always suit their agenda.
We were all elected to represent the people and to serve their interests, not ours. The NDP will always support agreements between Canada and other countries, despite what the government says and everything that has been said in the House during debate on Bill . However, we do not want a deal at any cost. That is what is important. There are several reasons why this agreement does not deserve the progressive seal that the government likes to give it, and I will have the opportunity to present them in my speech.
We saw the same thing when the Conservatives were in power, and unfortunately, it is continuing under the Liberal government. We keep signing bad agreements. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The government has allocated too little time to debate Bill C-79. I must point out that the Liberals and their Conservative friends allowed a time allocation motion on Bill C-79 to be passed in order to significantly reduce the hours of debate in the House. Because of the adoption of this motion, the number of hours of debate has been reduced from 10 to 4. That is irresponsible. It is important to debate this bill as much as possible so that we can improve it and serve the needs of the people.
We are now at third reading, and I would remind the House that the NDP would like to delete a few clauses from the bill. Several amendments were presented by my colleague from and were unfortunately rejected out of hand.
I would like to focus on some motions moved by my hon. colleague dealing with clauses 11, 12, 19 and 50 of the bill. Clause 11 definitely needs to go, because it grants the minister exclusive power to appoint the members of the various panels. We would prefer that they be appointed in consultation with the ministers of environment and labour as well as with the public, as was suggested in committee.
Clause 12 should also be deleted, as it provides that the government's contribution to the commission's expenses not be disclosed. I find that unacceptable. We need to be transparent with the people. We sought to remedy the situation in committee by proposing an amendment, which my hon. colleague from Essex championed quite well. In the end, we saw the Liberals' hypocrisy at work when they opposed it.
Businesses in my riding are already concerned. They know that the agreement will not benefit them in the slightest and tens of thousands of jobs are in jeopardy around the country. Farms and small and medium-sized businesses are at risk of shutting down. This was already being reported back in March 2018 in Le Quotidien du Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean; a dozen farm operations in the region closed up shop over the past year. Dairy farmers in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean were already aware of the dangers of the breaches that the Liberals have opened in supply management.
Again back in March, Daniel Gobeil, president of the Producteurs de lait du Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, said he was concerned that the negotiations around what was then still called NAFTA would once again be conducted at the expense of dairy farmers. He was right to be concerned. After what they went through with CETA, he said that dairy farmers did not want to be used as bargaining chips anymore, and yet, that is precisely what happened. Smaller operations saw their profits drop, and the climate of uncertainty created by the Liberals has discouraged some from investing, leaving them with no choice but to bow out.
To please the other CPTPP members, the Liberals opened a crack in our supply management system, a crack that has no reason to stay open, given that the United States withdrew from the agreement over two years ago. Members will recall that it was the U.S. that made this request. When they withdrew, a decision was made to keep it in the agreement anyway. The Liberal government gave up 3.25% of our domestic dairy market, 2.3% of our egg market, 2.1% of our chicken market, and 2% of our turkey market. Farmers cannot accept this wrongful decision, especially since the other countries did not ask for any concessions on our supply management system. I repeat, the United States was the only country to demand this, and it is no longer part of the agreement.
The cracks in our agri-food market are adding up. First, there was the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which has had dramatic repercussions on our cheese producers. Now we have the CPTPP and soon the USMCA, in which the Liberals handed over our agricultural market to the Americans. One crack, two cracks, three cracks—it is starting to sound like a nursery rhyme. When will the Liberals stop using Quebec's dairy farmers as a bargaining chip?
This is getting to be a bit much. I will give you a concrete example from my region, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. Dairy producers are angry. For a brief moment they considered blocking a road in Saint-Bruno with a tractor to show just how unhappy and angry they are. They did not actually do it because they did not want to inconvenience people. In their opinion, the government made false promises on several occasions.
The agreements we are discussing in the House today are affecting dairy farmers. We are talking about the people who feed us, who work day after day to maintain our food sovereignty. These are the people we are attacking every time we reach a trade agreement. We are creeping up on a 10% breach in supply management. Several members have mentioned that here in the House. Imagine if we were to lose a month’s salary. We might be the first ones to complain.
I understand why they are angry and why they no longer believe the government’s promises of compensation. We saw that recently with CETA, with the importation of 17,500 tonnes of cheese. A program was offered, but dairy farmers had to invest money in order to receive compensation. Moreover, some of the producers I met with this summer had still to see any of that money. This is unacceptable. I understand why the dairy farmers in my region are angry and why they no longer believe in the Liberal government’s promises.
Furthermore, the agreement affects more than just the agricultural sector. It threatens Canada's and Quebec’s cultural integrity. As a number of experts have said, the CPTPP has by far the weakest cultural exemption ever negotiated in a Canadian free trade agreement. The government declared that some problematic cultural clauses had been temporarily suspended but not eliminated entirely.
The new agreement makes no mention of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, despite that fact that seven CPTPP countries, including Canada, are parties to it. In addition, it prevents Canada from making sure that, in the future, online providers will support Canadian content. The new side letters can only complete or clarify the basic text; they cannot solve every problem. The preamble to the CPTPP is insufficient to ensure that Canada’s obligations under the UNESCO treaties will take effect.
First, the CPTPP does not acknowledge any of the internationally recognized instruments of cultural protection, such as the 2005 UNESCO convention.
Second, the agreement assumes that if free trade is encouraged, the impact on culture will inevitably be positive. Nowhere does it acknowledge the threats and the challenges that it poses to our provinces' cultural sovereignty.
Third, the agreement does not recognize the promotion and protection of cultural diversity as legitimate grounds for taking regulatory action. What effect will this have? A dispute resolution panel under the CPTPP could very well decide to reject the legitimacy of cultural regulation.
In the past, Canada signed free trade agreements where culture is explicitly protected in the preamble, including the 2009 agreement with Peru, the 2012 agreement with Jordan, the 2013 agreement with Panama and the 2014 agreement with Honduras.
I do not understand the Liberals' reasoning. Why make concessions on culture, which puts a number of jobs in jeopardy?
As my party's labour critic, I, too, object to this aspect of the agreement. The wording of the labour standards remains virtually unchanged from that of the original trans-Pacific partnership. That is worrisome, as it renders the standards unenforceable. This alone disqualifies the agreement from being considered progressive, as the government has been doing for quite some time.
Under the agreement, workers whose rights have been violated need to prove that the violation had an impact on trade, which is virtually impossible. As I have stated earlier, the onus falls once again on the workers, who, on top of everything else, must prove that there has been an impact on trade. We saw how impossible that is to prove in the dispute between the United States and Guatemala.
In the original TPP, the United States had negotiated a 12-page labour reform plan. That reform plan allowed Vietnamese workers to have free and independent collective bargaining. Canada could not obtain the same commitment. Instead, we got Vietnam to accept a watered-down version of that reform plan.
The U.S., under President Obama, also struck labour consistency plans with Malaysia and Brunei in an effort to ensure that both countries lived up to fundamental labour standards, including freedom of association and collective bargaining, as requirements for trade under the TPP.
Under the new deal, these labour consistency plans have completely disappeared. The former TPP made sure that governments were able to invoke respect for workers' rights as a requirement for procurement. That was another tool that helped to ensure that international labour standards were taken into account in public procurement decisions. In the new deal, that clause was temporarily suspended.
According to the Canadian Labour Congress, the labour standards set out in the CPTPP are low and in no way guarantee that the basic rights of member countries' workers will be respected. It also does not guarantee the workers' ability to organize and bargain collectively.
I definitely want to touch on the issue of prescription drugs. Not only does the Liberal government not care what Canadians think, it does not care about their health either.
Canada is already second in the world for drug expenditures per capita. There is one hard truth that the Liberals are refusing to accept: thousands of Canadians cut their pills in half, halt their treatments or eat less so that they can afford the drugs they need. That should have been taken into account in the CPTPP.
In my riding, more than a third of seniors put their health at risk, and that worries me greatly. The CPTPP will only make things worse. It makes even more concessions to pharmaceutical companies, which will increase Canadians' annual drug expenditures by more than $800 million.
Furthermore, this deal jeopardizes our country's sovereignty and the efficiency of our public policies.
I still have a lot to say, but I will conclude by stating that the NDP has always supported agreements that are beneficial to Canada's workers and all Canadians.
As it stands, we cannot support the CPTPP. It contains no progressive measures, which is especially disappointing given that over 60,000 people showed interest and made submissions. In fact, 95% of the comments made were negative, but the government brushed them aside.
I come back to the dairy producers from my region, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, who demonstrated this morning to show their dissatisfaction. The last three trade deals that were forced upon them have weakened supply management, which affects their bottom line. We need to think about the family farms that feed us and about our food sovereignty.
I will now take questions from my colleagues.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I am pleased to speak about the trans-Pacific partnership. I would have liked to ask my colleague from Jonquière another question, since she mentioned dairy products, but not forest products. We kept chapter 19, which addresses dispute resolution. That is very important to her region, but she never mentioned it. However, that is not what I will be talking about today.
I am pleased to be able to talk about protecting Canada’s culture and creative industries within the context of the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership, the CPTPP. I proudly represent the riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. I sat on the Standing Committee on International Trade for two and a half years, and I am very interested in international trade.
As a nation, Canada can celebrate the vitality of its creative industries. Throughout our history, we have established a wide range of dynamic cultural institutions, created a diversified publishing industry, developed a music industry based on Canadian talent, established a prolific digital media industry, and built critically acclaimed film and television industries. Our cultural sector is a powerhouse in Canada’s economy, and it is at the heart of our competitive advantage on the international stage. Canada’s stories, shaped by our vast, rich diversity, need to be celebrated and communicated across Canada and abroad.
Creative industries drive development and diversity. They create jobs and enhance the quality of life of all Canadians. In 2016, the creative industries accounted for $53.8 billion, or 2.8% of the GDP, and created more than 650,000 direct jobs. That is enormous. They generated $16 billion in exports. Our government believes that the creative and cultural sectors, which account for an increasing percentage of our economy, have the potential to be leaders in accelerating the growth of our prosperity.
Over the years, to promote Canada’s dynamic culture, the government has established a combination of financial incentives, Canadian content requirements, tax measures, and other foreign investment and intellectual property policies and tools.
Among other things, the Government of Canada is investing $125 million over five years in Canada’s creative export strategy in order to optimize the export potential of Canadian creative industries. The strategy boosts export funding in existing Canadian Heritage programs, increases and strengthens the presence of Canadian creative industries abroad, builds relationships needed to make business deals, and establishes the creative export Canada funding program.
In short, the Government of Canada's cultural policy was essentially designed to create an environment for creating, producing, marketing, protecting and distributing Canadian cultural products in Canada and abroad, which contributes to the economic, social and cultural development of our country.
Our plan helps protect major national institutions, supports industries that reflect our unique identity as Canadians, and creates good jobs for the middle class, as well as economic opportunities in the cultural and creative industries.
Our government believes that Canada must maintain some flexibility in developing policies and programs if we want to create the right conditions for success and achieve the objectives of the cultural policies.
With regard to international trade agreements, our approach has always been to have exemptions for creative industries. In negotiating past agreements, we always tried to leave enough strategic leeway to pursue cultural objectives that support creating, distributing and experimenting with Canadian cultural content. We have also worked to promote cultural diversity in Canada and abroad and to open new export markets and opportunities for artists and culture professionals.
The CPTPP is no exception. During negotiations, our government has always been mindful of the importance of the creative institutions and industries that Canadians cherish and promoting the values that define them.
In public consultations, we listened to stakeholders from the Canadian cultural industry.
They expressed concerns about the original scope of CPTPP exceptions with respect to measures affecting cultural industries, which was narrower than that of the exceptions in previous free trade agreements.
In their opinion, such limits would have reduced the range of accessible strategic options for maintaining the success of Canadian cultural content in an open environment. In order to strike a balance in terms of the cultural protections required within the framework of the CPTPP, the government reached bilateral agreements with every CPTPP member.
These agreements state that the agreement’s original limits with respect to Canada’s right to promote its cultural industries in a digital environment do not apply within the framework of the CPTPP. These side agreements are important because they preserve Canada’s ability to promote and maintain programs and policies to promote, create, distribute and develop Canadian artistic content, including in a digital context.
Also, Canada was able to preserve the original warnings about Canadian culture in the chapters of the agreement dealing with the service trade, investment, electronic trade, goods, Crown corporations and government procurement.
In addition, Canada maintained a special exclusion for the CBC, Telefilm Canada and all similar Crown corporations in the future, which protects cultural institutions’ ability to play a key role in promoting, producing and distributing our cultural products.
In conclusion, I would like to repeat that our government is determined to promote Canada’s cultural interests in trade negotiations and to protect its cultural flexibility nationwide.
At the same time, our government places great importance on giving Canadian creators and artists every possible opportunity to take advantage of openings provided by foreign markets and audiences.
By insisting that the rules regarding culture in the CPTPP be tightened, our government demonstrated that it is possible to create new and promising perspectives for exporters and investors in a dynamic region that is experiencing some of the strongest growth in the world, while making sure that the industries that help shape our identity and our values continue to grow.
Mr. Speaker, again, I am honoured to rise in the House today to discuss Bill , an act to implement the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership between Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Bill is our government's commitment to the swift ratification and implementation of the CPTPP. Implementing and ratifying the CPTPP would strengthen our existing trade partnerships with Chile, Mexico and Peru, and provide preferential access to seven new markets: Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. Doing so would improve market access to an estimated 500 million global consumers with a combined GDP of $13.5 trillion, representing roughly 40% of the world economy. These numbers are truly staggering and offer a glimpse into the endless opportunities afforded by the CPTPP.
This agreement would diversify trade to benefit the middle class and enhance our ability to compete and win on the global stage. As I have previously mentioned during the debate in this chamber over the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement, any student of Canadian history knows our great country has been, in many ways, shaped and founded by trade. To this day, nearly 60% of our GDP and fully 20% of Canadian jobs are immediately tied to exports. Our government understands increased trade leads to economic growth and that economic growth leads to jobs for the middle class.
However, this simple fact is currently under siege. As the world slides toward protectionism and isolationism, a regression apparently favoured by some of my colleagues across the aisle, it is vital Canada remains an open society and a champion of open global markets. On this side of the House, we recognize the prosperity of hard-working Canadians and their families is directly linked to diversifying into new markets.
From the ratification of CETA to the recent conclusion of the USMCA framework, our government has long understood a commitment to free and fair trade is absolutely vital. As the only G7 country that is a signatory to all three of these agreements, once CPTPP enters into force, Canada would have 14 trade agreements that would provide preferential access to 51 different countries. Combined, this represents access to nearly 1.5 billion global consumers and over 60% of the global economy.
The complicated progression of this agreement on the global stage, as I have said previously, serves as further proof that these values are currently under attack from protectionist forces. In light of such pressures, I am truly proud of our government for having taken the lead in negotiating this progressive free trade agreement.
Before I continue, I would like to thank the and the for their hard work on this file, as well as the members of the Standing Committee on International Trade for their insights and contributions. Moreover, as a former international trade lawyer myself, I would like to thank and congratulate former colleagues in the public service who helped make this important agreement a reality.
It was as a trade lawyer that I gained valuable first-hand knowledge into the tangible benefits that well-crafted trade agreements provide us with every day, and it is from that very same perspective I approach today's remarks. In particular, I would like to discuss six broad elements of Bill to highlight the very benefits this agreement would have for Canadian businesses, exporters, workers and families. My hon. colleague from focused on the preservation of our cultural sector. In turn, I will talk about market access, the service sector, investment, government procurement, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Speaking first on market access, implementing the CPTPP will eliminate over 95% of taxes being imposed on over 99% of Canada's total exports. From making our machinery, equipment and business services more competitive, to protecting and preserving our unique culture, we are improving market access for Canadian business and have secured an amazing deal for Canadians. In fact, the vast majority of related tariffs will be eliminated immediately upon enactment of Bill . After that, we will see the gradual introduction of more products being included in this list of tariff exemption over a period of 10 to 15 years.
To cite just a handful of targeted market access benefits, Bill would enhance market access opportunities for Canadian pork, beef, fruit and vegetables, malts, grains, cereals, animal feeds, maple syrup, wines and spirits, processed grain, sugar, chocolate confectionary and processed foods and beverages. It would also eliminate 100% of tariffs on Canadian fish and seafood products, benefiting the salmon, snow crab, herring, lobster, shrimp, sea urchin and oyster industries. In addition, we would see the elimination of 100% of tariffs on industrial goods and consumer products. Finally, tariffs on all Canadian exports of forestry and value-added wood products would be eliminated.
Delving into services, the CPTPP emphasizes the importance of transparency and predictability in order to give Canadian service providers more secure access to CPTPP markets, including a range of sectors for professional, environmental, mining-related, IT and financial services. In the face of a rapidly-evolving and modernizing global digital economy, the importance of these changes cannot be overstated.
Speaking of investment, this government has gone above and beyond the original conditions set in the TPP to better protect our investors, using Canada's negative list approach. Investors will be protected by provisions such as expropriation and denial of justice, backed by robust mechanisms for the resolution of investment disputes.
On non-tariff measures, Bill proposes to implement provisions related to non-tariff measures. Non-tariffs measures, as members are aware, refer to provision introduced regarding technical barriers to trade that will protect the key market access gains written into the agreement for the unnecessary and discriminatory regulatory burdens.
Moving to small and medium-sized enterprises, this government recognizes the importance of SMEs to the Canadian economy, which to do this day represents approximately 90% of our private sector jobs in Canada that will benefit from the provisions of this agreement. As a result, we have made it a priority to support SME access to the relevant data and information, a first among Canadian free trade agreements.
Provisions such as improved transparency, enforceable provisions on state-owned enterprises to promote fair business practices and an electronic commerce framework for cross-border data flows and server localization requirements have been made available to better protect Canadian businesses and encourage them to enter into the global market. These new measures will not only place Canadian businesses on the global value chain, but help them compete and thrive.
When our government came into office in 2015, in keeping with our commitment to evidence-based policy-making that listened to the needs and interests of Canadians, we held extensive consultations on the CPTPP, including over 41,000 correspondences and 265 interactions and meetings with more than 530 stakeholders. We did so to ensure a deal that promoted the creation of new jobs and benefits for Canadian families. The end result of this process is an ambitious and progressive trade agreement that will not only benefit Canadian businesses, workers, and families, but will certainly serve as a landmark for global trade arrangements moving forward.