(for the Minister of International Trade Diversification)
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
She said: Mr. Speaker, today I rise on behalf of my colleague, the , to speak to Bill . The bill calls on the government to take all necessary legislative steps to ratify the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA, something I encourage all members to support.
CIFTA is now a modern, forward-looking trade agreement that would better serve the sophisticated Canada-Israel trade relationship, while providing a framework to ensure the benefits of trade are more widely shared. Our government has said from day one that trade and open markets are vital for Canada's economic prosperity. Canada is a trading nation. We know that increased trade creates more and better-paying jobs. In fact, Canada is one of the most open G7 countries, rating second for trade and first for foreign direct investment as shares of GDP. Canadian exports of goods and services were equivalent to just over one-third of our GDP.
On trade diversification, the government is pursuing an ambitious trade diversification agenda, one that will make Canada the most globally connected economy in the world. Allow me to provide a few examples of this.
In October, Canada ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, with a speed reflecting the importance of this deal to farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and workers in all industries across Canada. This historic trade agreement came into force on December 30, 2018, and now Canadian businesses will have preferential access to over 500 million consumers, resulting in long-term gains for Canada in excess of $4.2 billion.
In September, we marked the one-year milestone of provisional application of the trade agreement with the European Union, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA. In this past year, Canadians added $1.6 billion in increased export to Europe and saw a 20% growth in container traffic at the Port of Montreal. We can just imagine the opportunities for Montrealers, Quebeckers and Canadians once this agreement is also passed.
We are also updating existing trade agreements with important partners to better match the realities of the 21st-century economy. We have a new agreement with Ukraine in place since 2017 and on Tuesday, a modernized and inclusive agreement with Chile came into force. The Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement distinguishes Canada as the first G20 country to adopt a gender chapter in a free trade agreement.
We are modernizing the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement in the legislation before us today to enhance our relationship with this historical ally.
Finally, the government is actively pursuing opportunities in other important and fast-growing markets and making inroads. Canada is in FTA negotiations with its partners in the Americas, namely the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur, and is exploring possible FTA negotiations with ASEAN. Taken together, Canada has 14 FTAs in force covering 51 countries, connecting our businesses to 1.5 billion of the world's consumers.
While market access is vital, it alone does not create jobs and prosperity for Canadians. Our businesses need the right tools to actively pursue international opportunities, especially in markets covered by our trade agreements. That is why the fall economic statement proposed an export diversification strategy to grow Canada's overseas exports by 50% by 2025, with more assistance for small and medium-sized businesses to help them explore new export opportunities.
The trade diversification strategy will focus on three key priorities: first, investing in infrastructure to support trade; second, providing Canadian businesses with the resources to execute their export plans; and finally, enhancing trade services for Canadian exporters. We know that when we diversify our markets abroad we create well-paying jobs at home for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
Our efforts signal to the world that trade matters, that rules matter and that we will not be drawn into a world of protectionism. We firmly believe our international trade relationships are mutually beneficial. This is demonstrated in the modernized CIFTA, the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement before us today.
Since CIFTA first came into force over two decades ago, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Israel has more than tripled, totalling $1.7 billion last year. This is a testament to how FTAs help advance trade, yet there is room to grow and deepen the commercial relationship. Israel's economy has significant potential and offers diverse commercial opportunities for Canadian businesses given its well-educated population, solid industrial and scientific base and productive natural resource sectors, in particular agriculture and agri-tech.
By providing expanded market access and more predictable trading conditions, the modernized CIFTA would enable Canadian companies to take meaningful advantage of these opportunities. That is why Bill before us today is so important. Allow me to elaborate further on this point by turning to how this tangibly translates into real benefits for Canadian businesses.
Canada and Israel agreed in 2014 to modernize CIFTA, which, at the time, was a goods-only trade agreement. The result of those negotiations is an agreement that updates four of the original chapters, including dispute settlement to bring CIFTA up to the standard of a more recent trade agreement. It adds nine new chapters, including intellectual property and e-commerce. We have negotiated rules that are designed to help address non-tariff barriers, contribute to facilitating trade and reduce some of the costs to companies for doing business.
We also have improved the terms of market access for Canadian companies. Once enforced, close to 100% of all current Canadian agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports to Israel will benefit from some form of preferential tariff treatment, up from the current level of 90%. Meaningful market access for Canada's agriculture and agri-food processors was a key interest in these negotiations and the government delivered, including unlimited duty-free access on sweetened and dried cranberries, baked goods and pet food.
These important tariff outcomes for the agriculture and agri-food sector place Canada on a more level playing field with exporters from the United States and the European Union, which are our key competitors in this sector. They also give Canadian companies a leg-up on competitors in other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with Israel. In exchange, Canada agreed to eliminate tariffs on certain targeted Israeli agriculture and agri-food imports, such as certain fish and nuts, some tropical fruit and certain oils.
I want to reassure all hon. members and all Canadians that a modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, like its predecessor, fully respects Canada's supply management system. I am pleased that the negotiated outcome has the support of key Canadian agriculture stakeholders, including Pulse Canada, the Canola Council of Canada, the Canadian Vintners Association and companies including the processing of potatoes, cranberries, soybeans and pet food. These are only a few of the opportunities the modernized CIFTA provides.
I would like to now speak to an important aspect of the government's trade agenda that aims to ensure these opportunities are more widely shared among Canadians.
An important aspect of the modernized CIFTA is its forward-looking framework that includes new chapters on trade and gender, small and medium-sized enterprises, labour and environment, as well as a new provision on corporate social responsibility. This modernized agreement also provides institutional mechanisms to monitor or address human rights-related matters in the context of the trade agreement, including references and provisions relating to workers' rights and working conditions, responsible business conduct, transparency and anti-corruption. In this regard, this modernized agreement is a new forward-thinking partnership that reflects who we are as vibrant, diverse, open and democratic societies and as in the original CIFTA, just as with all Canada's FTAs, this modernized CIFTA can be terminated by either party unilaterally at any time for any reason.
Some inclusive trade highlights are the new chapters on trade and gender and on small and medium-sized enterprises. Both provide a framework for parties to work together to help ensure women and small and medium-sized enterprises can more fully benefit from the opportunities created by this modernized CIFTA. Each chapter establishes a bilateral committee to oversee activities, including co-operation and promotion activities that provide information and enhance the ability of women and small and medium-sized enterprises to benefit from the opportunities created by this modernized CIFTA.
The new gender chapter acknowledges the importance of incorporating a gender perspective in economic and trade issues to ensure that economic growth can benefit everyone. This chapter has it. This chapter builds on the work accomplished in Canada's first gender chapter, which was negotiated through the modernized Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement. Only the third chapter of its kind, it is also the first such chapter negotiated by Israel. CIFTA's gender chapter, for the first time ever, will include a measure of enforceability through dispute resolution.
The new corporate social responsibility article affirms Canada and Israel's commitment to encourage the use of voluntary CSR standards by enterprises, with specific reference to the government-backed OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, to which Israel and Canada are both parties.
The modernized agreement contains a new chapter on labour that commits both parties to enforce their laws in this area, which must respect the International Labour Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The new labour chapter provides protections for occupational health and safety, acceptable minimum employment standards and non-discrimination for migrant workers.
Allow me to draw to the attention of all hon. members that the successful negotiation of a high-quality labour chapter with Israel was a significant step in modernizing CIFTA. It is the first such chapter negotiated by Israel in a free trade agreement. The United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement does not include labour provisions. The EU-Israel association agreement, the legal basis for EU trade relations with Israel, makes only a few references to labour, with no enforceable obligations.
The modernized CIFTA is also the first time Israel has negotiated a chapter on the environment in a free trade agreement. The new environment chapter contains robust commitments, including to maintain high levels of environmental protection as we intensify our trade relationship. Importantly, both Canada and Israel commit to not lowering our levels of protection in order to attract trade or investment.
Our two countries, Canada and Israel, have a deep history. Canada's strong friendship and partnership with Israel spans more than 70 years and stretches back even further to the arrival of the earliest Jewish settlers in Canada more than 250 years ago, the first of successive waves of immigrants who would leave lasting and indelible impressions on the fabric of our Canadian society, economy and political landscape.
Today there are more than 350,000 Canadians of Jewish faith and heritage in Canada who are an important source of information and support in the political and commercial spheres for both Canada and Israel. There are also approximately 20,000 Canadians currently living and working in Israel. The had the opportunity to meet with some of these individuals during his visit to Israel last year.
For those in the House today who may not know, Israel has a long-standing reputation for technological prowess and a well-developed scientific and educational base. We know this very well in the riding of Waterloo. We see room to expand and build partnerships in these sectors and in many other areas.
When our was in Tel Aviv last September, he announced a pilot program to facilitate new cybersecurity solutions for the energy sector that will consider Israeli options to address the needs of Canadian natural gas delivery companies.
There are also great prospects for forging increased partnerships in the areas of joint research and development. Canadian and Israeli firms have joined forces to develop an ultraviolet water monitoring system that would ensure the safety of drinking water, and there are even more possibilities on the horizon that will change countless lives in communities around the world. Our government firmly believes that these kinds of global partnerships are needed now more than ever.
In conclusion, Canada represents just 0.5% of the world's population, but we account for five times more in global trade. Our continued competitiveness depends on businesses, including small and medium enterprises, pursuing trade opportunities and that we support them in doing so.
Successful trade provides for good employment opportunities. With one in six Canadian jobs linked directly to exports, our government is deeply committed to growing trade and expanding opportunities for all Canadians.
I therefore urge all hon. members to support Bill to enable Canada to do its part to bring the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement into force on a timely basis and to support Canadian companies as they seek to benefit from the opportunities it offers.
This legislation should be passed today so that the Senate can also do its due diligence. I thank members for their work in helping this legislation move forward rapidly.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill . It is a great honour to speak in this brand new chamber for the first time. As always, I am grateful for the opportunity.
At the outset, let me begin by thanking the Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, for his hospitality and outstanding efforts in encouraging all members of the Knesset to get involved in building relationships with other nations, particularly Canada. I know my colleague from will agree that Speaker Edelstein exemplifies statesmanship in our time. He is also a man who has endured unbelievable hardship, suffering in the gulags in the U.S.S.R. as one of the last refuseniks.
Canada and Israel are the greatest of friends and the most natural of allies. Since its founding in 1948, Canada supported Israel in its right to live in peace and security in one of the least stable regions of the world.
There may be no better friend to Canada than Israel, with which we are bound together by a shared belief in freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. This renewed agreement is not only another step forward for Canada and Israel economically, but also with respect to our ever-important diplomatic alliance and personal friendships.
It was in May 1961, under Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, that Canadians first warmly welcomed Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to our country. It is fitting that in 2014 another Conservative prime minister was the first Canadian to be invited to speak at a session in the Knesset.
In that speech, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper emphasized the fundamental relationship that was so important. He stated, “Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so. This is a very Canadian trait, to do something for no reason other than it is right even when no immediate reward for, or threat to, ourselves is evident.”
Canadians are proud to do what is right, regardless of reward or threat, because that is the Canadian thing to do. That is why our Conservative government sought to actively support the people of Israel and the Jewish diaspora domestically and in the international arena. Indeed, from 2006 to 2015, the Canada-Israel relationship grew stronger than ever.
In November 2010, Canada hosted, in Ottawa, the conference on combatting anti-Semitism, which was an important international discussion, with representatives from over 50 countries, on addressing rising anti-Semitism in the world. Part of that discussion on anti-Semitism includes ensuring that we do our part to ensure that the atrocities that were committed against Jewish people during the Holocaust are never forgotten.
Our government pushed forward on fighting anti-Semitism and educating Canadians about the horrors that the international Jewish community had faced. We partnered with B'nai Brith to develop the national task force on holocaust research, remembrance and education.
It was former Conservative member Tim Uppal who brought forward the National Holocaust Monument Act as a reminder to Canadians and all those who visit our capital.
However, as the House acknowledged last year, Canada is not innocent when it comes to anti-Semitism. The MS St. Louis remains a dark chapter in our history, when Jewish refugees arrived in Canada after being turned away in Cuba, the United States and South America. We turned them back to Europe, many to face their death in Nazi concentration camps. As far as the Government of Canada at the time was concerned, none was too many.
In January 2011, alongside the Canadian Jewish Congress, former minister of immigration, Jason Kenney, revealed the Wheel of Conscience at Pier 21 in Halifax to commemorate the tragic journey of the St. Louis. The Wheel of Conscience serves to remind Canadians of the underlying attitudes that led to the St. Louis being turned away. The polished stainless steel wheel incorporates four interlocking gears, each bearing a word to represent factors of exclusion: anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism and hatred. The back of the wheel bears the passenger list of the St. Louis, including the names of those who died at the hands of the Nazis upon their return to Europe.
Let that monument be a reminder of how far we have come. Truly, as a country, we have gone from darkness to light, thankfully.
The tragic events surrounding the St. Louis are just one reminder of how important it is for Canada to work with Israel to support the Jewish people's homeland and ensure it remains a vibrant and prosperous country that lives in peace with its neighbours, and, just as important, how important education and dialogue are to ensuring the horrific events of the Holocaust never happen again.
However, supporting the Jewish community means much more than recognizing the failures of the past. It also means moving forward in a way that supports its right to self-determination and to its homeland, and our government made landmark steps towards ensuring that the Jewish state would be able to continue to find prosperity and provide a safe home for its people in an increasingly complicated and dangerous world.
In 2009, our government cut funding to UNRWA, whose ties to Hamas and anti-Israel activities that threatened the lives Israelis and Palestinians alike were unacceptable.
In 2012, our Conservative government signed a new agreement on energy co-operation with Israel that advanced the interests of Canada's energy sector. This agreement also increased collaboration on renewable energy and improving practices for responsible development and reducing environmental impacts.
In 2014, our Conservative government signed the Canada-Israel Memorandum of Understanding, which laid the groundwork for greater economic and diplomatic co-operation to ensure new levels of growth, prosperity and security for our two countries. This framework, which was laid out in 2014, led to a new Canada-Israel air transport agreement to the benefit of Canadians and Israelis alike. It also, of course, led to this modernized free trade agreement that sits before us today, an agreement that was negotiated almost entirely by our Conservative government.
In January, 2014, our government and the Israel government agreed to a partnership to help launch the grand challenges Israel initiative, which promoted global health innovation and fostered scientific and technological innovations to solve health problems in a developing world.
In June, 2015, we announced the Canada-Israel health research initiative to fund up to 30 research projects with a focus on neurosciences and neurological disease.
In January that same year, our government signed the Canada-Israel Joint Declaration of Solidarity and Friendship to outline the path forward for our two countries. Canada committed to supporting Israel's right to live in peace with its neighbours, and we committed to fight any international efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel, and we kept our promise.
Time and again, our previous Conservative government stood up for the right of Israel to exist and to defend itself. While tyrannical regimes in Iran, Syria and other countries sought to delegitimize and dismantle the state, the international community repeatedly sought to unfairly single out Israel as well. Our government rejected what could only be described as targeting of the Jewish state.
Ultimately, if we wish to be a country that promotes democracy, human rights, innovation, freedom, those values that are so important to us as Canadians, then we must continue to forge closer ties with and support nations that embody those same values. This free trade agreement is a significant step forward in continuing our support for our friends in Israel and in promoting those values we share.
We cannot risk abstaining from votes at the United Nations either. These votes unfairly single out and target Israel. Motions from any country in any form that seek solely to undermine Israel's legitimacy and ignore the atrocities being committed by other countries cannot go ignored and must be challenged.
I have been involved in Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Friendship Group since I was first elected to this place. I served as the chair from 2011 to 2015, and I continue to be an active participant in the ongoing dialogue between our Parliament and the Knesset as a vice-chair.
In our many meetings, we have heard and discussed the important role that Canada has played internationally and how much our allies appreciate our efforts, but also how important it is for Canada to remain vigilant.
I have also been fortunate enough to travel to Israel on several occasions, including with former Prime Minister Harper, former Governor General David Johnston, with parliamentary delegations and on personal voyages. Across all of those journeys, it is the people of Israel throughout history; from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who travelled from Ur, the Chaldeans, which is now today's Iraq, and came to the promised land; to Joseph, who saved Israel by going to Egypt and ensuring the famine did not consume his brothers and his father; to Moses, who led Israelis into freedom from their bondage of slavery; to Joshua, King David, the prophets; to the Maccabees, and we celebrate Hanukkah today because the Maccabees were proud enough and strong enough to take back the temple that was being desecrated; to those who kept the Jewish flame alive throughout the years of anti-Semitism; to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust; to David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir; and to the Israelis today that has remained resilient against all odds and hardship. This amazes me the most.
I would like to highlight one more quote from Prime Minister Harper's address at the Knesset. He spoke about the story of Israel:
It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society. A vibrant democracy. A freedom-loving country with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary. An innovative, world-leading “start-up” nation.
If that is not the kind of country we want to grow our ties with, a country that believes in the rule of law and human rights, a country that is innovative, a country that serves as the only stable democracy in the region, then I do not know what country we should align ourselves with.
However, we also must address the domestic impacts of this agreement.
In light of the ongoing trade disputes with the United States, the potential fallout from China during this extradition dispute and the uncertainty in the European Union with Brexit, Canada must continue to look for new opportunities to get our goods to foreign markets.
Our caucus supports free trade. We are a party of free trade. We support a more competitive and prosperous Canada. Free trade is crucial to promoting competitiveness at home and getting Canadian goods to foreign markets.
Being the representative from a region that has been hit particularly hard by steel tariffs put in place by the American administration, I have heard from so many about the need to diversify our trading practices, and this renewed Canada-Israel agreement is a good start.
Between 2006 and 2015, our Conservative government secured access to over 50 countries, and this renewal imitative with Israel was a Conservative one that the government launched in 2014.
Our government negotiated the vast majority of this deal. I would like to thank the hon. member for , who worked tirelessly to finalize not only this agreement, but also the trans-Pacific partnership and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union, as well as the various other agreements that he was largely responsible for.
Our Conservative government negotiated an updated dispute settlement mechanism, which brought in new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and transparency. It was our government that negotiated reduced tariffs and new market access for Canadian goods, including agricultural and seafood products. We negotiated a new chapter on the environment to ensure that both countries pursued greater environmental protection alongside more liberalized trade.
New electronic commerce and intellectual property chapters, again negotiated by our Conservative government, commit both countries to not introduce barriers to commerce and to protect intellectual property rights.
New standards for food safety protect the health of Canadians and our food supply, while new labour standards ensure international norms are respected and workers in both countries are treated fairly.
Finally, initiatives to reduce red tape and barriers to trade will empower Canadian businesses to grow in Israel and for Canadians to benefit from greater access to Israeli goods.
Obviously our side is glad to see this important legislation, which we negotiated, finally coming through the House so it can be implemented, but quite frankly, it has taken too long for the Liberals to finally wake up and begin reacting to the many threats that our country faces.
As I have already said, free trade is an important aspect of ensuring our international competitiveness, but the Liberals are still forcing reckless and anti-competitive taxes and regulation down the throats of Canadians.
Under the Liberals, small businesses, which the believes are tax cheats, have seen their taxes go up and up, and the Prime Minister's new carbon tax is making it even harder for Canadian businesses to compete internationally against competitors in countries where the governments want to see their economy and their businesses grow and thrive.
Ultimately though, despite the poor economic path that the and the are taking us down, implementing this trade agreement, a final remnant of our Conservative government, will be an important and helpful step for both Canada and Israel.
I look forward to voting in favour of Bill and continuing to support a strong economic relationship with Canada and Israel.
I must reiterate that this trade agreement is so much more than an economic arrangement. This agreement is particularly important at this time when a new wave of anti-Semitism, weakly disguised under the veil of a supposed legitimate criticism of Israel, is emerging in Canada and across the world.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, as well as the so-called Israeli Apartheid Week, are based at their very core in anti-Semitic and racist undertones that seek to do nothing more than spark hatred against Jews in their homeland. I have seen this locally in the city of Hamilton, on the campuses at McMaster University, and it is very troubling.
This agreement is a statement by the Parliament of Canada that in this time of rising anti-Semitism, Canadians will not tolerate the actions of groups that promote hate and prejudice. It is one more denouncement of the efforts of those who seek to undermine our allies and their citizens. It is a rejection of the terror that groups like Hamas and Hezbollah seek to instill in the Jewish people and it is repudiation of the tyrannical regimes that finance them. It is a rejection of the efforts of those on the West Bank that would litter children's curricula in schools with hatred towards Jews. It is an indictment against those who would name soccer fields and recreational centres after terrorists and suicide bombers.
Most importantly, it is a declaration of the bond between the Canadian and Israeli peoples, the friendship that has done so much for our countries.
Finally, in Solomon's Book of Wisdom, in the book of Proverbs, at 17:17 it says, “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.”
To my friends in Israel and the diaspora here in Canada, through fire and water we will stand together.