moved that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
I am truly honoured to speak here today in support of Bill , an act to implement the new NAFTA. Canadians have come a long way since 2017, when Canada's most important trading relationship, indeed our national prosperity itself, was put at serious risk. The years that followed were among the more turbulent in our history. We have emerged not only with the essential elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement intact, but with a better, more effective and fairer agreement than before.
This agreement is better for steel and aluminum workers, better for auto manufacturers and factory workers, better for farmers, forestry workers and energy workers. This agreements is better for the thousands of people working hard in our service industries. It is better for Canadian artists, singer-songwriters and filmmakers and better for the companies that hire them.
Canada has always been a trading nation. We have trade agreements with Europe and the Pacific in place, and we are about to have a modernized NAFTA. That means free trade with 1.5 billion people around the world and makes us one of the world's greatest trading nations.
That we achieved this at a time of considerable uncertainty in global trade, with the rules-based international order itself under strain, is something of which all Canadians can be rightly proud. It is a testament to the unrelenting work of thousands of patriotic Canadians from all walks of life, representing every political view from all orders of government and from all regions of our great country. This truly has been team Canada at work.
A little more than 25 years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement created the world's largest economic trading zone, but let us remember that it did not come about easily or without controversy. In fact, a federal election was fought over free trade in 1988, and my own mother ran against NAFTA for the New Democrats in the riding of Edmonton Strathcona. These were intense debates as many in the House will remember, yet today the Canadian consensus for free trade is overwhelming.
That consensus is a testament to NAFTA's long-term effectiveness as a vehicle for economic growth. More broadly speaking, it is also a testament to the fact that rules-based trade advances personal freedom, fosters entrepreneurial spirit and generates prosperity.
Today, Canada, the United States and Mexico account for nearly one-third of global GDP despite having just 7% of the global population. Every day, transactions worth about $2 billion Canadian and 400,000 people cross the Canada-U.S. border. Those are impressive numbers.
When we were first asked to renegotiate NAFTA, we were determined to improve the agreement, update it, refine it and modernize it for the 21st century. That is exactly what we did.
I would like to stress two points. Under the new NAFTA, 99.9% of our exports to the United States can be exported tariff-free, and when it comes into force, this agreement will be the most progressive trade deal our country has ever negotiated. Indeed, I believe it will be the most progressive trade deal in the world.
“Growth that works for everyone” is not just a slogan. It has been the animating, driving idea in our negotiations from the start.
Let us be honest: The negotiations that got us here were not always easy. There were some twists and turns along the way. There were, as I predicted at the outset, moments of drama. There were times when the prospect of success seemed distant, but we hung in there. Faced with a series of unconventional negotiating positions from the United States, a protectionist flurry unlike any this country has encountered before, we did not escalate and we also did not back down. We stayed focused on what matters to Canadians: jobs, economic growth, security and opportunity. That is how we stayed the course.
It was clear from the start that, in order to be successful, Canada as a whole had to come together and work as a team.
We began by consulting stakeholders across the country. We heard from Canadians in industry, agriculture, the service sector and labour. We sought and received advice and insight from across party lines. We reached out to current and former politicians, including provincial and territorial premiers, mayors, community leaders and indigenous leaders. We asked Canadians for their input and gathered over 400,000 submissions on the modernization of NAFTA.
We established the NAFTA council with people from different political parties, as well as business, labour and indigenous leaders.
I would like to thank every member of the NAFTA council for their wisdom, hard work and collegiality. Their insight helped guide our way forward at every step of the way, right up to the present moment.
I would also like to thank current and past members of the House for their contributions. With politics, there is always partisanship, but there can also be collaboration in the national interest. I know, from the many conversations I have had with colleagues across the aisle and across Canada, that every single one of us here shares the goal of working for Canada and Canadians. This negotiation has not been a political project. It has been a national one.
There have been many hurdles. During the negotiations, we were hit with unfair and arbitrary tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. We defended ourselves without rancour, but with firmness, imposing perfectly reciprocal, dollar-for-dollar tariffs on the United States even as team Canada fanned out across the U.S., reminding our friends, allies and neighbours that they rely on us for trade, too.
We were consistent. We were persistent. We never gave up. We just kept digging in the corners, if I may be allowed one NAFTA hockey metaphor.
The new NAFTA is a great agreement for Canada because we acted with resolve at the negotiating table to uphold the interests and values of Canadians. Our professional trade negotiators are, without exaggeration, the very best in the world. They are a group of true hard-working patriots, led by the inimitable Steve Verheul. I would like to thank them on behalf of all Canadians.
I would also like to thank Ambassador Bob Lighthizer. I found him to be a reliable and trustworthy counterpart, even though there were many times when we did not agree. He is someone who has become a friend. I would like to acknowledge his hard work, his professionalism and his willingness to find win-win compromises for our great continent. That made this agreement possible.
I would also like to recognize the efforts of my Mexican counterparts, who showed tremendous commitment, through a change in government, in renewing our trilateral relationship and in reaching a progressive outcome that raises working standards for workers across our shared continent.
Muchas gracias, amigos.
The benefits of this agreement for Canadians are concrete and considerable. The new NAFTA preserves Canada's tariff-free access to our most important market: 99.9% of our exports to the U.S. will be tariff-free. The agreement preserves the dispute settlement mechanism known as the famous chapter 19 in the original NAFTA, which provides an independent and impartial process for challenging anti-dumping and countervailing duties.
Critically, this mechanism is how we Canadians ensure a level playing field with a much larger trading partner. This mechanism is more valuable today than ever, with the WTO effectively paralyzed.
The new NAFTA preserves the general exception for cultural industries, which employ some 650,000 people across the country. These industries are an integral part of Canada's bilingual nature and our linguistic and cultural identity. This was a crucial factor, because those industries ensure that we can tell our own stories, as Canadians, in both official languages.
Our farmers are more crucial than ever to our collective prosperity. Canada and the United States have the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world in the area of agriculture, which is worth about $48 billon annually.
At one point in the negotiations, the United States demanded that we abolish supply management. We refused that demand. This agreement secures the future of Canada's supply management system for this generation and generations to come.
The new agreement strengthens labour standards and working conditions in all three countries. This is a historic milestone with, for the first time, truly muscular and enforceable labour standards. This agreement, for the first time, levels the playing field in North America for Canadian workers.
It supports the advancement of fair and inclusive trade. It addresses issues related to migrant workers, forced or compulsory labour, and violence against union members, including gender violence. It enshrines obligations related to discrimination, including discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.
This agreement modernizes our trade for the 21st century. Critically, it reduces cross-border red tape and simplifies procedures for Canadian exporters. It promotes increased trade and investment through new chapters dedicated to small and medium-sized businesses.
As well, the agreement preserves the provisions on temporary entry for business people. These provisions are essential to supporting cross-border trade and investments. Temporary entry ensures that investors can see their investments first-hand, and that service suppliers can enter the market to fulfill their contracts on-site.
At a time when walls are being built, temporary entry is a critical advantage for Canadians.
Crucially, the new NAFTA also shields Canada from arbitrary and unfair trade actions. For instance, our auto sector employs 125,000 people directly and another 400,000 indirectly through a network of dealers and after-market services. The side letter we signed with the new NAFTA protects this vital industry from any potential U.S. tariffs on automobile and auto parts.
The new NAFTA is great for Canadian auto workers. We see this in new, higher requirements for levels of North American content in the production of cars and trucks. We see it in the labour chapter, which includes key provisions to strengthen and improve labour standards in the NAFTA space.
One of our government's main objectives is to ensure that women have the opportunity to participate fully and equitably in the Canadian economy. The new NAFTA is no exception. The labour chapter includes a non-discrimination clause and addresses obstacles to the full participation of women.
Environmental stewardship is essential to our collective future. The new NAFTA includes a chapter on the environment that will help ensure that our trade partners do not receive unfair economic advantages because they failed to respect the environment.
The environment chapter requires that all the NAFTA partners maintain strong environmental protection and robust environmental governance. It introduces new commitments to address challenges like illegal wildlife trade, illegal fishing and the depletion of fish stocks, species at risk, conservation of biodiversity, ozone-depleting substances and marine pollution.
It also recognizes the unique role of indigenous peoples in the conservation of our shared biodiversity and in sustainable fisheries and forest management. This is a first. For the first time in a Canadian trade agreement, the new NAFTA confirms that the government can adopt or maintain measures it deems necessary to fulfill its legal obligations to indigenous peoples.
We should note that the obligations on labour and environment in the new NAFTA are subject to dispute settlement. This is a major accomplishment. This means any laggard can be held accountable.
In his speech to the U.S. National Governors Association in 2017, the referred to his father's famous metaphor about Canada, of our experience of sleeping next to an elephant. He said that, contrary to his father's phrase, Canada today is no mouse, more like a moose. This negotiation and its conclusion have shown how right he was.
Throughout the formal negotiations and in the months that followed, the Government of Canada has been intent on upholding the national interest. This work continued last year, culminating in a protocol of amendments signed by Canada, the United States and Mexico that strengthen state-to-state dispute settlements, labour protection, environmental protection and rules of origin.
Our government is committed to ensuring that the benefits of trade are widely and fairly shared.
The new NAFTA helps us accomplish that. It promotes progressive, free and fair economic growth. More generally, it strengthens rules-based trade at a time when those rules are in great need of strengthening. It brings back stability to the trade relationship between Canada, the United States and Mexico. Above all, this agreement provides stability and predictability for companies that employ hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
Our focus in bringing the new NAFTA to Parliament has always been on preserving and fostering opportunity for Canadian workers, businesses, families and communities across the country. That is what we achieved, and this is what all Canadians have achieved together. It is something that all Canadians and every member of the House can be proud of. We are all here to serve Canadians.
I encourage all members in the House and Senate to work co-operatively with us to swiftly pass this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, it is great to start off this debate with the co-operation of all parties, which we are going to need as we proceed down this road.
I will be splitting my time with the new member for , whose riding happens to be right next to mine. I think this chamber will come to enjoy working with him, seeing his positive contribution to the House and watching him in action with his speech.
I want to thank the minister; the team; the negotiator, Steve Verheul; and the guys in the background, such as Andrew Leslie, the member for , Mark Eyking and the other members of the trade committee. There are all these people, such as the member for , who is sitting right next to me. There was a tremendous effort put forward to make sure that there was a team Canada approach so that everybody understood how important this deal was, not only here in Canada but also in the U.S.
I know that those on the team tried their best and did their best. That said, there are some shortfalls and problems, which is why we need to do our due diligence and go through it. Where there are problems and shortfalls, we will do things like we did with the briefing here this week. There the member for said that we have the greenest aluminum in the world, which comes out of his riding, and made the point to Steve Verheul, the negotiator, that we could sell it under the environmental chapter, so why not put that into the implementation side of things? We could see that the negotiator was thinking that he had not thought of that, but it was a good idea.
These are the types of things we can do if we work together and if we have proper briefings and documents to solve or mitigate some of the issues or missed opportunities in this agreement.
Today we begin debate on Bill , the implementation of the legislation for the new NAFTA. This deal, as described by President Trump, is something negotiated totally on his own terms, which I think is right. It is sad, but I think that is what has happened here. I think that the reality is that President Trump sat down with Mexico, and they did a deal and told Canada to take it or leave it, which is disappointing. It did not have to be that way.
The good news is that after rigorous debate in Parliament and in committee, Canada will continue to have a trade agreement with our largest trading partner. The bad news is that it was negotiated by the Liberal government, which made concession after concession to the United States and Mexico. The good news is that we have an agreement, but the bad news is that it could have been better.
This agreement, if we had done it right, would have set North America up for the next 50 years to become the most competitive sector in the world. With companies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico using our strengths and working together as we have in the past, we could have been so competitive that we could compete with anybody around the world. However, we did not get that in this agreement. In fact, if anything, we got more barriers, more red tape and more hassles for our businesses. It is disappointing.
Unfortunately, the mismanagement of the deal by the Liberal government is going to cost taxpayers money, because the reality is that we will have to have a plan for the sectors and industries that have been left out. During the election we heard quite clearly President Trump talking in the Rust Belt states about people who supposedly lost their jobs because of previous trade deals. There were other things in play, such as modernization and robotics and things like that, which never got talked about, but there was this idea that people were left behind. We cannot do that. In a new trade deal in this day and age, we cannot leave sectors behind, which is why, again, we need to have the proper documents and processes in order to go through the deal, do what we can to mitigate it and create a plan for those people who may have been negatively impacted by it.
However, I want to make it clear that our party supports and wants the free trade deal with the Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Some things are just too big to play politics with.
The United States is our largest trading partner, and NAFTA has been good for Canada, with $2 billion a day in trade crossing our border, which represents 75% of all Canadian exports. U.S. direct investment in Canada in 2018 was over $400 billion, which is huge. Since NAFTA was first implemented, over 5 million jobs have been created, and total trilateral trade has quadrupled to $1.2 trillion. Who says trade does not work? This is proof that trade does work.
The majority of major industry associations in Canada want us to ratify this deal. The Canadian premiers put out a joint statement urging us to ratify it quickly, but it is our democratic obligation to analyze this legislation, and we have to do our due diligence. It is even more important for us to do our due diligence since the government is still refusing, 50 days now since we made the request, to release the economic impact analysis that it has on this new NAFTA.
It looks like the government has something to hide, which is probably true because even though the majority of industries support the deal, many of them have expressed concerns and are looking for clarification on how this deal is actually going to affect them.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce wants further details, especially with respect to the intellectual property provisions. CAFTA wants to confirm that any changes would not negatively impact their producers. The CME wants to know what steps the government has taken to ensure that Canadian productivity levels are equal to those of other OECD countries, to maintain competitiveness here in North America. They also want to know what the impacts of the concessions will be to our aluminum industry.
The shortcomings and missed opportunities of the deal are clear.
First, the Canadian dairy industry is possibly the biggest loser in this deal, as 3.6% of the Canadian market is now opened up to imports. Milk classes 6 and 7 have been eliminated. That is a big deal. That is very important to dairy producers. That was a way for them to get extra value from some of the dairy products that they produce and they now have lost that opportunity.
The deal dictates specific thresholds for Canadian exports to anywhere in the world on milk protein concentrates, skim milk powder and infant formula. As the industry grows and wants to export more, or if the industry should have a surplus in these products to export abroad, it is limited to quotas. If the industry actually does exceed the thresholds, Canada adds duties to the exports in excess. That makes them more expensive, so it makes them uncompetitive to export. That is something Canada has never agreed to before. We really need to see the ramifications. It also sets a precedence for future trade deals.
We have relinquished some of our sovereignty. If we want to do a deal with a non-market country, for example, China, we have to actually go to Big Brother, the United States, and get permission. That does not make sense to me. That is a growing market. It is a market that we have to trade into. We have to find a path forward to have a proper relationship with China. However, we should not be worrying about the U.S. and its issues with China. We should not be drawn into those issues. We should have our own relationship with China and this could impact our ability to do that.
Second, the missed opportunities in this deal make up a long list. Aluminum is not afforded the same provisions as steel. To defined as North American, it would have to be smelted and poured in one of these three countries. We do not know why aluminum was left out. Why did it not get the same treatment as steel, other than maybe something was going on in the U.S. and China that they wanted aluminum to come through Mexico and go down that path.
On temporary entry for business persons, the list of professionals in chapter 16 was not expanded to include professions that exist in the 21st century. Why did we not modernize that list? We could have added a whole pile of new jobs that have been created in the high-tech sector and the service sector. That was not done.
Buy American was not addressed. Mexico got a chapter on Buy American; we did not.
Our forestry workers are hurting. They are going through some tough times. This should have been talked about in the deal. I understand we had a claim in front of the WTO. I also understand that the WTO appellate body is in trouble right now because of the U.S. not appointing judges. Who is paying for that? That would be the guys who were laid off in British Columbia and the folks who were laid off in New Brunswick in the forestry sector because that market has turned down due to the unfair, illegal tariffs of the U.S. government.
Third, the Liberal government made concessions that will result in continued business uncertainty to a certain extent. The ISDS chapter was removed, with no more protections from politics in the U.S. and Mexico. A sunset clause sets out a formal review of the agreement every six years. The agreement will terminate in 16 years unless it is renegotiated. Again, when someone is looking at their business and trying to plan things, it makes it really tough to work in those types of cycles because it does create some instability.
There are more things in this deal I could talk about, but I understand I am down to the last minute and I will use my time at committee to do that.
However, I want to say one thing. We are plugging our noses because the industries and communities say we need to get that bankability, that stability of a trade deal with the U.S., and we are going to provide that. This deal will go through, but we really need to look at who is impacted negatively by this deal. The government really needs to come up with a serious plan, whether it is compensation, finding new markets, training or reallocation. I am not sure what those are. Every sector might have a different solution, but they need to have a plan.
I look forward to working in the committee to identify those sectors, giving them a chance to speak on how this is going to impact them and also trying to find solutions so that we can move forward. In the end, Canadian businesses will win from this deal, but it could have been better.
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for , who has done a great amount of work on this file on behalf of our party. Also, as he has mentioned, he is the member for my neighbouring riding and he has been a tremendous source of encouragement and support for me as I have gone on this journey. I want to thank him for that.
It is indeed a privilege and an honour this morning to stand in the House for my first speech representing the people of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River. I am very grateful for the trust the people have shown in me and I commit to do my very best to represent each and every person for every moment of time they see fit to grant me the opportunity to be here and to serve them in this place.
From my nomination in December 2018 until the election on October 21, our campaign was a fabulous opportunity to get to know many people in this vast riding, and I will cherish that experience forever. My wife Lori and I continue to be thankful to the many people, some who worked tirelessly during the campaign, to provide me the opportunity to serve in the House. I would be foolish to begin mentioning names, as I am sure I would inadvertently exclude someone, but I know that each of them know who he or she is, and I thank each of them.
I will be forever grateful for the support that Lori and my entire family have been to me on this journey. I thank Kent and Rebekah, Mac and Hannah, Nicole and Washington, and Alex for their constant support and encouragement. Lori's commitment and sacrifice may go unnoticed by many, but it will never go unnoticed by me. I honestly do not know how anyone could serve in this place without the unwavering support of their family.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the highlight of the campaign for me was becoming a grandparent for the first time on October 8.
For those who are not aware, Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River is basically the north half of Saskatchewan. In fact, it is 52% of Saskatchewan geographically. It is the second-largest riding in the 10 provinces, and its approximately 70,000 residents are spread over 342,000 square kilometres. Just for reference, the country of Germany has nearly 83 million people spread over a slightly larger 357,000 square kilometres.
As my team and I travelled over 25,000 kilometres during the campaign, speaking to people, one of the common messages I heard was the need for Canada to get our fiscal house in order. I believe that because of my experience as a partner in an accounting firm for nearly 30 years and my service as mayor of the City of Meadow Lake for nearly eight years, voters sent me to this place to be their voice and to hold the government accountable for its wasteful spending.
I feel very fortunate to have built a great team of people, both here and in Meadow Lake, my home community. These people are credible, capable, competent and they are committed to working hard to represent the interests and to bring forward the concerns of all the people of northern Saskatchewan. We know we have much to learn, but we are prepared for that challenge.
Being appointed the shadow minister for indigenous services in November was a tremendous honour. It is a welcome opportunity to be part of an incredible team of people working on behalf of all indigenous Canadians in addition to those I serve in northern Saskatchewan.
My years of coaching minor hockey and my time as mayor, working with my immediate neighbours from Flying Dust First Nation, have taught me how first nations and non-first nations communities, which have relationships built on trust, can work together to find solutions that benefit everyone. I am proud to say that when I set out to seek the nomination for my party, one of my first endorsements was from Chief Jeremy Norman of Flying Dust First Nation. I believe that is a testament to the positive relationship we have built over many years.
I am personally excited in my role as shadow minister to have the opportunity to continue building relationships with indigenous communities across Canada and to continue working to understand the challenges faced by these communities.
However, we are here today to talk about a trade agreement.
The Conservative Party of Canada is the party of free trade. It was under former prime minister Stephen Harper that Canada signed a record number of trade agreements, providing our Canadian businesses with unprecedented access to markets around the world. We have long supported free trade and will continue to support a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico.
However, we cannot blindly support a free trade deal for the sake of supporting a trade deal. We need to take time to ensure it is a good deal for Canadian businesses. We must do our due diligence and examine all aspects of this deal. After all, this is a deal with Canada's largest and most important trading partner. Unfortunately, as has been mentioned earlier already, the government has withheld some important information from us, like the economic impact analysis, and this has hindered us from adequately scrutinizing the deal to this point.
It seems to me that Canadians have every reason to be a bit leery of this new NAFTA. We only need to look at how the government has mishandled very important trade issues for the farmers in my riding.
Throughout the campaign, I heard from canola and pulse crop producers who, over the past couple of years, have had to deal with the failures of the government on the international scene. I think specifically of pulse crop exports to India and canola exports to China. These are real issues and challenges for the farmers in my riding.
As we consider the legislation before us today, I would also like to highlight something that is missing from this agreement.
I am not aware of any agreement on softwood lumber being included in the new NAFTA. This is a significant issue for our forestry sector. I know we often think of B.C. and the workers who are suffering extreme hardships there due to the current government's failure on this file. My colleague, the member for , spoke very capably on this issue in the House on Tuesday afternoon when she pointed out that over two dozen mills had closed in British Columbia, while the government had focused western diversification funds predominantly to the major urban centres of Victoria and Vancouver.
Let me share a story from my own riding on this.
My riding in Saskatchewan also has a very significant forest industry. There are two lumber mills, an oriented strand board mill and a pulp mill, all within a few miles of my small community. I am sure members can appreciate the number of direct and indirect jobs and the economic spinoff this creates in a number of small communities in that area.
In question period in December, I highlighted one of these companies, NorSask Forest Products. This is a sawmill that supports over 400 direct jobs in the Saskatchewan forestry sector. It also has the highest proportion of indigenous forest employment in Canada.
NorSask is a 100% first nations-owned company, whose profits are directed to the nine bands that make up the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. The profits from NorSask Forest Products are funds that are used for core programs like housing, education and health care. This would also include suicide prevention programs, which unfortunately is a very significant challenge in these same ownership communities of which I speak.
As I pointed out in December, since 2017, NorSask has paid over $10 million in softwood lumber tariffs. That is $10 million of lost dividends that could have been paid to the ownership first nations. Imagine the amount of services that could have been provided to the people of these nine small communities with $10 million.
Many stakeholders are affected by this agreement. They are looking for the certainty that comes with knowing they are getting a fair deal, so they can make good business and good investment decisions. That is why I personally look forward to reviewing this deal in detail and contacting many of the businesses in my riding to ensure their success will not be impeded as a result of this trade agreement.
I consider it an incredible honour to serve as a member of Parliament and I will never take that privilege for granted. I again thank all the people of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River for putting their trust in me.
Mr. Speaker, as we saw yesterday, the first bill was passed with the support of all parties in the House except for the Bloc Québécois. That does not mean that we are against free trade and openness to trade, far from it.
In fact, if we look at Quebec's history, the separatist movement has nothing to prove in that regard. The great economists, who were also some of the greatest statesmen of modern Quebec, such as Bernard Landry and Jacques Parizeau, were the fathers of free trade in Quebec. We need not be lectured about that. It would be in extreme bad faith to accuse us of being opposed to trade with other countries.
Nevertheless, that did not prevent Jacques Parizeau from opposing certain agreements. We had to vote against the agreement as presented yesterday for somewhat similar reasons. There seemed to be more arguments against than for. This is politics, not religion. Just because this agreement has a free trade label on it does not necessarily mean that it will get our vote, if it has negative impacts.
Sure, the agreement has some positives and we wish we could have supported it. Some real progress has been made, compared to the old NAFTA. However—and I think that the outcome and the policy positions show exactly why the Bloc is necessary—we represent Quebec, and Quebec is getting the short end of the stick with this agreement in many respects.
Some significant concessions were made, and this came up earlier in some of the questions that were asked. Quebec is bearing the brunt of these concessions, as usual. This agreement contains two deal breakers in particular. First, it undermines our agricultural model, which relies heavily on supply management. Once again, the dairy industry is an example of that. Second, it significantly hinders our aluminum industry's future prospects. This industry is Quebec's second-largest exporter and is a jewel in the crown of our economy.
Our aluminum industry shines for its small carbon footprint. Some even call it carbon neutral, and my colleagues from Saguenay—Lac-St-Jean would know about that. This agreement benefits Chinese aluminum, which would literally flood the North American market through Mexico. A great deal of carbon pollution is created in manufacturing this aluminum.
We are working very hard to force the government to take into account Quebec's interests, which it bargained away during the negotiations. That is our job as parliamentarians and our mission for the immediate future. We are reaching out to the government so that it will work with us to find ways to limit the harm it is causing to the aluminum industry and dairy farmers. As members know, we proposed a way to improve the agreement without having to open it completely. That does not mean that we will not do our job in committee by asking questions and trying to take the agreement in a better direction. Nevertheless, we suggested an approach that would not require opening the agreement.
If the government finds a way to limit the harm that the agreement will cause our dairy industry and to protect our aluminum smelters, particularly against Chinese dumping, then we will be pleased to support the next steps. That is what we want for Quebec.
The government started speaking about openness the very evening it was elected. We have also heard about openness in this debate. However, openness goes both ways. We are willing to negotiate and discuss, but we will not compromise our principles.
Let's talk first about the key sectors of the Quebec economy that are threatened by this agreement. We believe that supply-managed products are a non-negotiable item, yet the government undermined protections for these products when it gave the Americans oversight over our trade practices.
We also believe that the aluminum industry is a non-negotiable item, yet the government agreed to allow Chinese aluminum to flood the North American market by going through Mexico.
Obviously, the government did not stand up for Quebec with the same vigour as it did for Ontario and western Canada. We cannot support the bill to ratify the CUSMA as it stands.
That is why we want the government to co-operate with us and take Quebec's needs into account.
Let's start with aluminum. Canadian and U.S. courts determined that Chinese aluminum was being dumped. That is not our allegation; it is the courts' finding. Unfortunately, as we all know, dumping is common, unfair and illegal. Canada and the United States both impose anti-dumping tariffs. Mexico, however, has no aluminum smelters, so it does not impose anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese aluminum.
As written, the agreement makes it possible for Chinese aluminum to flood the North American market, even though Canada and the United States have protective anti-dumping tariffs. Chinese aluminum is simply processed in Mexico, circumventing the protections we put in place. For free trade to be truly free and profitable for all, it must make unfair trade practices such as dumping impossible.
We also want to minimize our dairy producers' losses. In addition to opening up 3% of the Canadian market to American producers, CUSMA will make it harder for our producers to sell their milk protein to processors. As a result, American diafiltered milk imports could skyrocket, which is an ongoing issue we have been talking about for years.
As drafted, the agreement gives the Americans oversight into all our milk protein exports outside North America. Having a provision like this in a trade agreement is unheard of and it has the potential to completely destroy the dairy industry. We are trying to raise the main concerns with that aspect of the agreement.
I want to come back to aluminum to recap. Under NAFTA, automobile and truck manufacturers are under no obligation to buy North American steel and aluminum. Under the terms of the new CUSMA, 70% of the aluminum and steel bought by car and truck manufacturers has to originate from North America. To qualify as originating from North America, the steel and aluminum will have to undergo significant processing in North America.
On December 10, 2019, the three negotiating parties of the agreement signed a protocol of amendment to CUSMA. The protocol states that seven years after entry into force, steel purchased by manufacturers will have to be refined and cast in North America. That is the rub. There is no such provision for Quebec's aluminum. The amendment also states that 10 years after entry into force of this agreement, the parties will review the appropriate requirements in the interest of the parties so that aluminum can be considered as originating from North America.
Groupe Performance Stratégique, or GPS, examined the absence of a definition for aluminum similar to the definition included for steel in the protocol of amendment, and the economic impact this will have on Quebec between 2020 and 2029. According to GPS, the absence of this definition will jeopardize six major projects on the North Shore and in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, in other words, the heart of Quebec's aluminum sector. The authors explained that Mexico can continue to transform primary aluminum purchased at a very low price from China or elsewhere and export it to the United States.
I am pleased that my colleagues from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean are here for the debate, because those six projects involve construction investments worth about $6.2 billion. I am sure everyone would agree that that is a lot of money. Between 2020 and 2029, if you add up the combined economic impact of the development and construction phases of the six projects, we are talking about investments worth $12.2 billion and 60,000 jobs created, at an average salary of $59,775.
These projects would generate revenues of more than $900 million for the Government of Quebec and almost $325 million for the Government of Canada. These projects would also produce 829,000 new tons of the greenest aluminum on the planet.
As we have been told repeatedly by the government, nothing in the former NAFTA protected the aluminum sector. We agree. This addition may look like progress, yet that is exactly where the problem lies. They are mixing up aluminum parts and aluminum. My colleague from just talked about that. Why is aluminum, a Quebec product, not being offered the same protection as steel, which is a product of other provinces? That is where the problem lies and I will say that we are going to stand firm on this issue.
The definition of steel is clear. It includes the entire process, from melting, to mixing to coating. This will come into effect in seven years. Auto and parts manufacturers will have time to switch suppliers and to start purchasing North American steel. That is all very well and good. We have no problems with that at all.
However, a definition for “originating good” was not adopted for aluminum. Back in 2018, since there was no definition, the agreement was nothing more than a statement of intent that essentially allows automobile and parts manufacturers to get their primary aluminum wherever they want.
I should point out that Canada is the only of the three signatory countries for which protection against Chinese dumping is a real issue. In Quebec, it is imperative. For parts manufacturers in Ontario, this will be more of a long-term issue, which may explain why the government is so reluctant to deal with it.
Now, I want to talk about dairy farmers. Quebec needs a strong voice standing up for it, and we hope to be that strong voice. As members know, supply management is extremely important in Quebec, but less so in the rest of Canada. This is what makes us different as a people, as a nation. This is why we will not compromise on this.
Since 2001, which, coincidentally is the same time when the Bloc lost its recognized party status, there have been three breaches in supply management. When the Bloc had power, there were no breaches in supply management. Once again, this very fact demonstrates why we need to be here.
The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, or CUSMA, opens up a new breach in supply management that will take away more than 3% of our dairy market, which amounts to a loss of about $150 million a year, every year. The government announced that there would be full compensation. Let us be clear about the nature of that compensation. It is out of the question for this support to come in the form of a modernization program, like the fiasco that happened in 2018 with the European agreement. We are demanding a direct support program, starting with the next budget. That is what farmers are calling for. We will not budge on this either.
One issue that is not getting much attention, but that has the potential to destabilize the industry, is milk protein. Consumers in both Canada and the United States are drinking less milk but eating more butter, cream, cheese and ice cream. This leaves dairy farmers with surplus protein to dispose of. The Canadian International Trade Tribunal ruled in 2006 that above a certain concentration, these proteins became so denatured that they could no longer be considered dairy products and were therefore no longer subject to supply management, the existing laws that prohibit cross-border imports. The American agrochemical industry has developed milk protein concentrates designed specifically to circumvent supply management and enable U.S. farmers to dump their surplus into the Canadian market at lower prices than our farmers can afford to sell for. In Canada, the price paid to farmers is regulated by the Canadian Dairy Commission, as we know. However, imports of diafiltered milk, which does not even deserve to be called milk, have simply skyrocketed.
From zero in 2008, they shot up to 20,000 kilograms in 2014 and 33,000 kilograms in 2015, and they probably would have kept rising.
To solve the problem, farmers came to an agreement with processors on a price that would enable them to switch from American diafiltered milk to our domestic surplus protein. Their agreement was endorsed by Ottawa, the Canadian Dairy Commission, the provinces and the marketing boards.
Canada created a new class of dairy products, surplus protein, that could be sold at a low price. It was commonly known as class 7. Imports of diafiltered milk collapsed, prompting a flurry of irate tweets from U.S. President Trump, who promised to solve the problem during the renegotiation of NAFTA, as members may recall.
In CUSMA, the Americans insisted on spelling out in black and white that Canada would abolish class 7, and Ottawa agreed. To make sure that the class was not revived under a different name, they demanded that they get a say in Canada's protein trade. This whole section of the agreement is deeply disappointing to farmers, but sadly, with a certain sense of resignation, they are giving up the fight. They are not asking the government to push back on this. What they are asking for is a little time to adjust, as much time as is necessary and reasonable.
The government's eagerness to hastily ratify this agreement could cause a lot of harm. Let us take our time on a debate like this one. Let us not rush through this or there will be collateral victims.
Right now, our dairy farmers are selling some of their surplus milk protein concentrates on international markets, for example, in Asia and the Middle East.
The wording of CUSMA regarding the trade of protein concentrates seems to give the United States a say in all of our exports. Washington could decide to limit the quantity of protein concentrates that our farmers can sell to third country markets. Depending on how this CUSMA provision is interpreted, Washington could limit the quantity of protein concentrates that our farmers have the right to sell to the rest of the world. This would enable the Americans to get rid of a competitor on global markets at very little cost. It is a first in the history of international trade to give a foreign country oversight over our trade with the rest of the world. It basically hands over a part of Canada's sovereignty to Washington.
Our producers are likely to end up with huge surpluses of milk solids they cannot sell, which would totally destabilize the system. As written, CUSMA makes that catastrophic scenario a possibility, but the wording is unclear. We need clarity about things like that before we can support the agreement.
Fortunately, there will be a process to debate it. We are perfectly willing to do our job as parliamentarians with the government and the other opposition parties, but let me make it clear that some things are off the table. We are willing to compromise, but not to be compromised.
Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to share some reflections on behalf of the NDP with respect to the final version of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, as it is formally known, or as it is known by many, simply the new NAFTA. Before delving into the details of the agreement, I want to give some context to Canadians who may be listening at home.
Donald Trump was elected President of the United States in 2016, claiming that “NAFTA was the worst deal ever”. While no one in Canada would question the significance of our trading relationship with the United States to the Canadian economy, there are many Canadians who would rightly question who the big winners under NAFTA have been.
The original NAFTA was negotiated by Conservatives and signed by Liberals in 1994. People were promised jobs, rising productivity and secure access to the largest market in the world. However, during the years since NAFTA was signed, Canada lost over 400,000 manufacturing jobs and its textile industry was devastated. While automation has played a role in those job losses, there is no question that many of those jobs moved to Mexico because it was a low-wage economy that could sell finished products back into Canada and the U.S. without penalty.
We can ask auto workers from southern Ontario. Half of Canada's current manufacturing trade balance with Mexico is made up of cars and parts. The overall automotive trade deficit between Mexico and Canada has gone from $1.6 billion to $8.7 billion under NAFTA.
In addition, Canada has paid millions of dollars in court fees and penalties when sued by corporations under investor-state dispute resolution mechanisms. Perhaps most memorably, the Canadian government was successfully sued by a U.S. chemical company, Ethyl Corporation, in 1997 for having dared to try to ban the import and interprovincial trade of the gasoline additive known as MMT.
MMT is a suspected neurotoxin that automakers also claim interferes with automobile on-board diagnostic systems. Under NAFTA, Ethyl won a settlement with damages totalling $19.5 million, but that was not it. The Canadian government was also forced to overturn the regulatory ban and issue a formal apology to the corporation.
It was a stark example of how international trade agreements could override the authority of democratically elected governments to make rules in the public interest. In this case, rules meant to protect human health and the environment.
Canada has been challenged more than any other country under NAFTA chapter 11. Other cases against Canada include challenges to wildlife conservation measures, provincial water and timber protection policies, fracking in the St. Lawrence River basin and the sale and use of pesticides.
The proportionality clause in the original NAFTA also challenged Canada's energy sovereignty, allowing the United States to require a significant share of Canada's oil and gas production be sold to our southern neighbours, whether it was in Canada's national interest or not.
Over the decades under NAFTA, Canada's GDP and cross-border trade no doubt grew, but wealth inequality also grew. Today, Canadians are finding it harder to make ends meet. Each month, 48% of Canadians are within $200 of not being able to pay their bills or defaulting on their debt.
Liberals and Conservatives are far too quick to gloss over, far too often, that it has not been all sunshine and roses under NAFTA. While the rich were getting richer, far too many Canadians were left to fall behind.
Governments and trade tribunals were, and are, quick to defend corporate rights and to bail out big companies when the risks do not pay off. However, when things go wrong for workers, they are offered simple condolences. Maybe they are told they need to accept that this is how the market works, or that they are the victims of downsizing or global restructuring. It is as if these things were natural events, like earthquakes or snowstorms, and not the result of calculated human decisions designed to maximize shareholder profit at the expense of everything else.
In other words, Canadian workers have a lot to be upset about when it comes to trade deals and the global corporate agenda that drives them. That is also why there is a growing political backlash across the western world directed at these kinds of agreements.
Nevertheless, 25 years under NAFTA has led to an integrated North American supply chain for many businesses, and has created confidence for many entrepreneurs that they can invest in cross-border commerce without fear of the kind of arbitrary reprisal we have seen from time to time for certain industries, including softwood lumber, the cattle industry and most recently steel and aluminum.
The understandable desire to maintain that confidence, coupled with an economic interdependence that grew under NAFTA, explains why so many Canadians were concerned when Donald Trump moved to renegotiate the deal. The President's own personality compounded that concern. To say the least, he is a known bully who is quick to throw even his closest allies under the bus when it suits his short-term political needs.
Instead of leaning into the possibility of renegotiating and improving the deal, the Liberals' first instinct was to say that the original NAFTA was the best deal that Canada could get.
They were not the ones to propose the elimination of the chapter 11 investor-state dispute settlement mechanism that gave Ethyl Corporation its win over Canadians' health and the environment. In fact, they initially said they would fight to keep it.
It was only once the U.S. made it clear that it would insist on renegotiation that we really started to hear the government admit that the deal was not perfect and that it could in fact be improved. Suddenly, better was possible after all.
To hear that NAFTA had flaws was no surprise to New Democrats, but to hear that from the mouths of Liberals who had spent years mocking New Democrats for saying as much certainly was a bit of a shock.
As usual, just like Liberals and Conservatives before them, the present Liberal government engaged in a highly secretive negotiation process. While a broader range of stakeholders may have been consulted, there was no information made available to the public or to Parliament. In fact, we are still waiting for some basic economic analysis of the agreement from the Liberal government, something a number of our trading partners not only make available, but make available early on in the process, and I will have more to say on that later.
At the end of the first round of bargaining, the Liberals declared once again that we had the best deal that Canada could get. What New Democrats saw was an agreement that hammered the supply-managed dairy sector, increased the price of already high-cost prescription drugs, and continued to put the rights of corporations on a pedestal without offering real protection for the rights of workers and the planet.
Thankfully, even though the government was eager to pack it in, Democrats in the United States shared some of those concerns and signalled their intention to fight for a better deal. In spite of the promise of a better deal, Liberals in Canada were rushing to ratify it, and the only real criticism they were getting from Conservatives at that time, a short six or seven months ago, was that they were not ratifying it quickly enough.
When the NDP called on the government to delay ratification until the Democrats' campaign to improve the agreement had run its course and to seize the opportunity to push for something better, we were met with a combination of outrage and scorn.
For example, the told us in May 2019:
Mr. Speaker, what the NDP needs to understand is that reopening this agreement would be like opening Pandora's box. Why is the NDP prepared to risk our economic stability? It would be naive for the NDP to believe that Canadians would benefit from reopening this agreement. The NDP is playing a very dangerous game.
In June, the minister continued along the same vein, saying:
...we do not want and we do not need a new NAFTA negotiation. Canada has done its work. We have our deal. We are not going to create an opportunity to have this hard-won agreement...put in jeopardy.
There are more examples but I do not wish to belabour the point. I simply want to point out that happily the Liberals were not able to ratify the first version of CUSMA before last year's election. The Democrats continued their work and they made some meaningful improvements to the agreement.
It turns out the game the NDP was playing was the one that would allow for the elimination of measures that otherwise would have raised the cost of prescription drugs. It turns out we were playing the game that allowed for the establishment of first-of-their-kind provisions for binding, enforceable and internationally monitored labour standards in Mexico.
That may have been a dangerous game for pharmaceutical companies looking to maximize their profits on the backs of the sick. It may have been a dangerous game for companies looking to drive out competition by moving their manufacturing to a low-wage economy like Mexico. However, I do not think we can say it was a dangerous game for everyday Canadians trying to pay for prescription drugs or worried about their jobs moving south.
There are still real concerns for many Canadians, and I suspect big pharma and the big three will still find a way to make money, although maybe not quite as much.
The problems have not all been fixed, but Canadians will be a little better off than they otherwise would have been thanks to the hard work, not of this government that wanted to rush ratification, but of U.S. Democrats who were not willing to throw in the towel so easily.
Canadians should not have to depend on politicians in foreign countries to get a better deal at the bargaining table. They should be able to have confidence that their government is at the table fighting for them instead of acting at the behest of corporate lobbyists.
We can give Canadians that reassurance by making our trade process more open and transparent and by involving Parliament at the outset. We can build confidence in the process by formalizing the consultation process so that Canadians know when, where and how they will be able to express their hopes and concerns with respect to a prospective trade agreement, and by ensuring that all the right people, organizations and institutions are consulted.
We can build confidence by having the government clearly and formally state its objectives for the negotiation, by having a debate and vote in Parliament on those objectives before formal negotiations begin and by requiring the government to prepare and publish economic data and analysis on the likely impact of a deal. These are things that to many would seem to be simple common sense.
Why should Canadians not have a right to know how they will be consulted on trade issues instead of having a different process every time? Why should Canadians feel confident their government is fighting for them, if it will not be transparent about its goals?
How can Parliament play a truly meaningful role in setting Canada's trade policy if it can only debate and vote on the merit of trade with a country once a deal has already been signed? How can Canadians and their elected representatives be truly expected to judge the value of an agreement with no economic data or analysis? This is the very situation that we find ourselves in.
Before my colleagues and other parties begin dusting off their straw men to say things like, “You're talking about negotiating in public. You can't do that. You don't understand trade”, let us consider this, because we have heard that many times before in this place.
The executive in the United States is required to give at least 90 days' notice to Congress of its intent to enter trade discussions with another country. Congress is able to define trade policy priorities and specify negotiation objectives. The executive is expected to honour those objectives in its negotiations, and Congress can set out consultation and notification requirements so that it is satisfied the executive is actually following it through.
In other words, legislators in the United States have far more authority and involvement in the trade process, yet they were still able to conclude a deal. It did not mean they could not get a deal done. The sky did not fall. Americans had more information about what their government was trying to do at the bargaining table, but it did not impede them from getting a deal.
In the European Union, the very first step in the trade process is for its executive to prepare an assessment of the likely economic impact of a proposed deal. The EU publishes its negotiating directives online before negotiations even begin. The executive publishes online a report of each negotiating round and its initial negotiating proposals.
The commission also informs the European Parliament at every stage of the talks, about the latest developments. When the EU is close to finalizing the text of a deal, the commission tells Parliament and informally sends the final text to EU member states and the Parliament.
That is only a summary of some of the highlights of the EU trade process. It may be that some members found that tedious but, if so, they should reflect on the fact that despite all that consultation, all those steps and all that sharing of information, the EU has been quite capable of negotiating trade agreements, including the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement it recently signed with Canada.
In Canada, we have no formal process at all. The government is free to go to any country in the world and negotiate and sign any deal it wants. It does not have to tell anyone. It does not need any parliamentary approval. In fact, the only reason Parliament is studying the deal at all is that the implementation requires changes to the law. However, by the time we get to that stage, the deal itself is already signed and negotiations are already concluded.
I want Canadians to know that we do not have to do it that way. Adopting some of the practices of our trading partners could make for a more open, democratic, transparent and accountable trade process in Canada. It could do that without jeopardizing our ability to get a deal. That is a false argument. We know, because we have deals with places that do those very things.
The time to set up that kind of process is right now. It is while we are talking about this deal. It is while we are concluding this deal. It is while it is in the media. It is while people are paying attention. If we wait, the issue may not draw public attention again, and I worry it may not draw the attention of the government either until the next negotiation, say between Canada and the United Kingdom, which may not be that far away. Once that process is already started and is in the news, it will be too late to do it right, which is why we should set it up now.
That is why the NDP has called on the government to move quickly on the institution of a proper trade process for Canada. We look forward to a substantive discussion about how best to move forward on that in this Parliament.
To conclude, I want to come back to the substance of the agreement. I mentioned already that the NDP looks favourably on the elimination of chapter 11 and the proportionality clause. We are, however, concerned about the so-called good regulatory practices chapter and whether it will continue to put downward pressure on public interest regulation, making it harder to create and maintain regulations for the public good.
We are concerned about the requirement that Canada consult the United States before entering into negotiations with any non-market economy. Unless we bring in a meaningful domestic trade process, this means that the U.S. government will have more right to know about Canada's trade intentions than our own Parliament will, which makes no sense to me at all.
We are encouraged by the new provisions enabling monitoring and enforcement of labour standards in Mexico, but we want to better understand how exactly those are meant to work. Study at committee will be a good opportunity to do that.
We have heard concerns about the chapter on e-commerce, and we would like to hear what the experts have to say about the implications for Canada's digital economy.
We also share the concerns of dairy farmers and aluminum workers, and we want the government to tell us what concrete measures it plans to take to help workers and farmers in those sectors after CUSMA is ratified.
These are the concerns we hope our study of the bill will address. That is why we voted to let the government table the bill yesterday. There is no such thing as a perfect agreement, but we will keep an open mind while asking certain questions.
Does this version of the agreement place Canadians in a better position than the existing agreement? We want an answer to that question.
Could the ratification process for this bill lead to a trade process that offers Canadians more transparency, more consultation and more accountability?
Those are our thoughts so far. We are anxious to delve deeper into these matters in the coming weeks.
Madam Speaker, I just want to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for .
This is a great opportunity to stand before the House to speak to the trade deal CUSMA. As members know, I am from Nova Scotia and my riding is Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook. It is a riding on the outskirts of the cities of Halifax and Dartmouth. There are many companies in my riding, and throughout last summer and during the campaign, I had an opportunity to speak with many in the business community. They were quick to tell me how important trade deals are for Canadians, all trade deals, and they zeroed in on some of the key trade deals we signed in the last four years, in the last mandate.
I will touch on three of them, because they are extremely important to Canadians. I am talking, of course, about the final piece of CUSMA that we have before us, CETA and the CPTPP. Those were big deals because they represent 1.5 billion people. Let us think about that for a second: 1.5 billion people. These are major trade deals. I can say as a member of Parliament that there are very important conversations we should be having with our constituents right across the country, in all 338 constituencies.
When we talk about trade deals, we have to talk about the Canadian economy. In the last four years, we have seen a drastic improvement in the Canadian economy. We had over 10 years of austerity and cuts by the Conservative government. It was time to invest in Canadians, and that is exactly what we did.
By investing in Canadians, we were successful in increasing the number of jobs. There were one million more high-quality jobs, believe it or not, over a four-year period. That is extremely important. The second thing we saw was the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years. Those are big numbers.
Along with that, 800,000 Canadians were lifted out of poverty, 300,000 of them children. We lifted 20% of Canadians out of poverty. That is a good example of what we see when an economy is strong and things are moving. Canadians in all walks of life increase their opportunities to be successful when we lift 20% of them out of poverty.
Trade deals are very important because they level the playing field for those who are part of a deal. I can say with confidence, no question about it, that the business community in Canada can compete with the world when the playing field is fair. That is exactly what we have in this deal. I challenge all members of Parliament to continue to dialogue and consult with the business community and let businesses know that these important deals are now ready to go and they can take advantage of the opportunities. Our government has invested in the business community so that businesses can expand, grow, prosper and trade globally. Those things are all part and parcel of this. It is a general approach right across the board.
Now let us talk about the CETA deal. Because of the CETA deal, tariffs have been removed from 98% of all products, up from 25%. Let us think about that. Only 25% of our products were being exported with no tariffs and now we are at 98%. That is exceptional. That is why we will see more and more trade between our country and the European Union.
With the new CPTPP deal, half a billion people more are trading with us. Most of the tariffs have been removed by the CPTPP and 100% of the tariffs on seafood have been removed. That is very important for Canadians, especially those in Atlantic Canada and Nova Scotia. Some of those tariffs varied from 10% to 22%, so just imagine the investment potential now of the industry in Atlantic Canada and across Canada. That is extremely powerful.
The new CUSMA is so important. It is nice to say we could have had this or that, but it is a trade deal that represents $2 billion per day. That is $2 billion yesterday, $2 billion today, $2 billion tomorrow and so forth. That is big.
Some 68% of all products from Nova Scotia are traded with the Americans. That represents $3.7 billion U.S. per year. It also represents 18,000 new direct jobs and 7,000 indirect jobs. Is Nova Scotia happy with the trade deal with the Americans? Absolutely. As the Premier of Nova Scotia said, “Our message to them, really, is that Canada and Nova Scotia is open for business.” That is what Premier McNeil of Nova Scotia shared with Nova Scotians and Canadians.
With the new CUSMA deal, we have seen, in a new piece since June, some very big improvements in certain areas. The first one is labour. Labour is extremely important for levelling the playing field. We have seen a strengthening of the standards and the enforcement. It is one thing to set standards, but do we have any enforcement? Are we going to follow through on that? Through inspections and various approaches and strategies, we are going to make sure that wages are acceptable within the fair playing field. If we trade product and someone is paying $1, then it is much different.
There is also the new obligations for the environment. We all know that the environment is a very important aspect for all Canadians. It is a big challenge, the biggest challenge of our time, I would say. The new dispute resolution process in Chapter 20 will be powerful once again because no country will be able to block it.
I know my time is running short, but I have to share what Mr. Trump said. We have to look back to when Trump said to throw out NAFTA. When he was tweeting at three o'clock in the morning, he said that the U.S. had to do three things for sure or he would not sign anything and that there had to be a sunset clause of five years. Then he said it would be dead if it was not renegotiated. We said no. It is not in there.
On supply management, he said there would be no supply management in any NAFTA deal. Is supply management there? Yes, because we as a government made sure that it had to be there.
The third thing he said, again as he was tweeting at three or four o'clock in the morning, was about dispute resolution. He said it had to be an American tribunal, not an independent tribunal. Is it an American tribunal? No. Did he win? No. That is a good example of how our deal was negotiated.
I want to finish with a quote from the Business Council of Canada: “We applaud your government's success in negotiating a comprehensive and high-standard agreement on North American trade. That is pretty clear.”
We have to understand that a negotiation is a negotiation. We are not going to win every point, but right across this country we now have a deal that will allow us to continue to grow economically.
Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak on Bill an act to implement the agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States.
CUSMA, as it is commonly known, reminds me of a song by the Village People from my time working and living in New York City. It reflects over two years of negotiations by our Canadian, American and Mexican trade officials.
I first wish to commend and congratulate Canada's negotiating team and our lead trade negotiator Steve Verheul, along with our and member of Parliament for University—Rosedale, who reached an agreement that modernizes the original NAFTA that came into effect on January 1, 1994.
I also wish to congratulate the Government of Mexico as well as the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives on ratifying the trade deal. This is an instance in the United States of bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans.
I have the privilege of representing a dynamic and entrepreneurial riding, Vaughan—Woodbridge. Businesses and their employees in my riding depend on trade certainty with the United States and Mexico, full stop.
My riding is home to CP Rail's busiest intermodal facility in our country, with logistics hubs for Home Depot, Costco, Sobeys, FedEx facilities, Saputo and leading exporters of products, including Martinrea's flagship auto parts facility, which supplies parts for the GM Equinox and Terrain; Vision Plastics, employing thousands in the York region and exporting over 75% of its products to the United States; and Extrudex Aluminum, with headquarters in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge and facilities in Ohio and Saint-Nicolas, Quebec, manufacturing high-quality aluminum extrusions for usage across North America.
This trade deal brings certainty to Canadian businesses and obviously to Canadian employees across Canada and our communities. It is very important that we move ahead with multipartisan support from all parties here in the House.
As vice-chair of the Canada-U.S. interparliamentary association, I had the opportunity to visit the United States capital and speak with many congressmen, congresswomen and senators on trade. During those conversations, it was evident that all parties and all political representatives wanted to come to an agreement to provide certainty in trade among Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
As we look at how we are doing in terms of inclusive growth and growth for all citizens in society, it is very important to ensure that the trade deal is a win-win-win situation for all involved and that we stop and think about how this trade deal prevents what is called the race to the lowest common denominator. In this regard, we can be very proud that this trade deal has provisions on labour and the environment and that it maintains the cultural exemption, which I know is so important for La Belle Province, Quebec.
We know that a race to the bottom creates inequality. We know that it can create resentment and create losers. We do not want that. We want to make sure that workers in North America benefit from trade deals. We want to make sure that those workers have bright futures, that middle-class families across North America and working-class families across North America and all employees benefit from trade. We want to make sure that trade lifts all boats.
We know that since NAFTA came into effect in 1994, trade between Canada and the United States and Mexico has exponentially grown. It has grown ninefold between Canada and Mexico and more than doubled between Canada and the U.S.
The companies in my riding that I referred to have a few things in common. They continue to invest in Canada and in Canadians, which is helping to grow our economy. They need certainty in the markets they serve and they need trade certainty, and CUSMA delivers that.
I ask my colleagues across the aisle to support this deal, to come together and do what is in the best interests of all Canadians, including businesses, employees and communities.
We know that increased trade means jobs for Canadians. Since 1994, when NAFTA came into effect, it has generated economic growth and rising standards of living for the people of all three member states. In fact, total merchandise trade between Canada and the U.S. has more than doubled since 1993, as I stated earlier, and grown ninefold between Canada and Mexico.
Since our government was elected, we have pursed an aggressive trade agenda. The signing of CUSMA has followed both the completion of the Canada-Europe free trade agreement and the CPTPP. Canada is the only G7 country that has trade agreements with all other G7 countries, enjoying free trade with nearly 1.5 billion people. This gives Canadian companies unprecedented access to markets and allows for the creation of good jobs in all markets.
The world is much more connected and interconnected today than at any point in history. Canada is leading the way, and our government, which I am proud to be a part of, is leading the way with policies on trade, infrastructure investment and immigration to attract the best and the brightest to Canada and allow trade-oriented firms to establish themselves and continue to invest in Canada to create those jobs and, most importantly, to ensure a high standard of living for today's generations and future generations, including my children. I want to ensure that they inherit a strong economy and a strong environment that are both filled with opportunity.
The 20-year-old agreement was in need of modernization. The world has changed significantly over the last two decades, and many clarifications and technical improvements need to be made to the original NAFTA in the areas of labour, the environment, culture and many other sectors.
Our government's objectives in reaching a new revised free trade deal centred upon three objectives: defend the national interest, which we did; preserve and create jobs, which we have done; and foster economic growth. Canadians can rest assured that the government and the negotiating team were on their side from day one.
I would like to take a step back to understand how important our trading relationship is with our southern neighbours. Let us examine a few statistics.
Realistically, over two million jobs in Canada are trade-dependent on Canadian exports to the United States. Nearly nine million jobs in the United States are connected to trade with Canada. Over 400,000 individuals cross the border back and forth every day, and nearly $2.5 billion worth of goods and services cross the border between our two countries every day. Trilateral trade among the three countries, measured by imports among the member states, totalled $1.1 trillion, while two-way trading of goods and services between Canada and the U.S. in 2017 totalled over $900 billion.
Those are big numbers, but behind those numbers are individuals getting up in the morning, going to work, saving for a better future and creating a better future for their families in our communities from coast to coast to coast. That is what it is about. This trade deal is about people in Canada, the United States and Mexico creating a better future for themselves and their families and ensuring a brighter future for their children.
The importance of this agreement cannot be understated. Trade certainty provides a path forward for businesses to invest in Canada. It allows businesses to remain focused on ensuring Canadians have the right skills to succeed in today's globally competitive economy and ensures that they can undertake investment decisions here in Canada and invest in Canada and Canadians to continue to grow our economy. We know growth continues in Canada. We know we have put in place the right policies. Since the deal came into effect in 1993, Canadians have created over six million new jobs.
I will focus the rest of my time on the auto sector.
CUSMA provides for revised automotive rules of origin. These rules will require higher levels of North American content in order to incentivize production and sourcing here in North America. These were ideas put forward by our Canadian team, and we will see the robust rules of origin for the auto sector keep the benefits of the agreement in North America and encourage both sourcing and resourcing here in North America.
The new agreement includes the following: an increase in the regional value content threshold for cars from 62.5% to 75%; stronger regional value content requirements for core car parts, such as engines and transmissions; a requirement for 70% North American steel and aluminum; and a new labour value content provision requiring that 40% of the value of a passenger car and 45% of the value of light trucks, including final assembly, be made up of materials, parts and labour produced or carried out by workers in plants averaging an hourly wage of $16. This is what I refer to as “lifting all boats”. We will not be going to the lowest common denominator for employees but allowing employees across North America to have a better future for themselves and their families.
We were adamant about getting a good deal for our Canadian workers. We got the deal done with help from former members of the prior government, who approved of this deal.
It is interesting and really nice to see the premiers in western Canada saying that they need this deal signed, and I encourage them to continue adding their voices to this debate.
The enforceable provisions that protect labour are the strongest in any Canadian trade agreement to date. With the labour chapter being further strengthened by establishing a new bilateral mechanism with Mexico, Canadians can be assured that state-to-state dispute settlements and facility-specific rapid response labour mechanisms are in place to ensure that we can keep tabs on facilities to make sure that labour regulations are followed.
I look forward to questions and comments from my hon. colleagues.
Madam Speaker, I am sharing my time with the member for .
Here we are, debating the new NAFTA, which is sometimes called the USMCA. I know the government is calling it CUSMA. Others call it NAFTA 2.0. Others call it NAFTA 0.5. We are going to call it the new NAFTA. It does not matter what name we want to call it. A rose by any other name is still a rose, except that with this rose the bloom went off it a long time ago. This is a deeply flawed agreement that could have been so much better.
While I will be supporting this bill going forward to committee for review, this is really a story of a squandered opportunity, and I will explain that in a minute.
By the way, I have listened with amusement to my colleagues on the Liberal side claiming to now be the champions of trade. I harken back to when the original Canada-U.S. free trade agreement was being negotiated by Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney. That agreement eventually morphed to NAFTA. During an election, the Liberals actually said they were going to vote against it. They were not going to approve this massive trade agreement between Canada and the United States. Of course, as soon as they were elected they affirmed the agreement.
That is how Liberals do it. They try to take credit for the work of others and score political points. We will not take any lessons from the Liberals on trade.
In fact, I want to highlight that basically 95% of the value of all trade agreements that Canada has signed has been negotiated under a Conservative government, starting with the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, going all the way through to the Canada-EU trade agreement and the original TPP. Those are all Conservative accomplishments.
The reason this new NAFTA is so important is that the United States is by far the largest trading partner for Canada with $900 billion a year of bilateral trade. Every single day there is over two billion dollars' worth of trade in goods and services that cross our common border with the United States. That is why it is important that we get this right.
Our trade levels with the United States are somewhere in the order of nine times more than our next-largest trade partner, which is China. Let us think about that. A lot of people are saying we need to diversify and we need to focus on China. I would say to them to keep their eyes on the ball. The United States will always be our largest trading partner and we had better get that relationship right before we look to diversify elsewhere in the world.
Why is this revised trade deal, the new NAFTA, a squandered opportunity? The Liberal government got completely outplayed and outfoxed by Donald Trump.
First, let us ask ourselves what standard we should use to measure this new NAFTA. What measure should determine whether this agreement is good for Canada and one that we should be supporting? Perhaps it is by the standard set by the himself, who said he was going to come back with a better deal than we had before. By all measures the Prime Minister failed on that account.
We remember he said he was going to deliver a win-win-win, so there would be a win for us, a win for the United States and a win for Mexico. That implies there would be a net gain for each of those parties. In fact, this agreement is all about Canada conceding to the United States with virtually no concessions in return. Let us talk about that. We know that Donald Trump is the master of the quid pro quo, so we expect that he would be involved in a back-and-forth: “You give me a concession; I will give you a concession”. That is the way trade agreements are normally negotiated, except for this time.
The did not deliver an agreement that was better than the one we had before. We just conceded and conceded and conceded. Why on earth would the Prime Minister have embraced a negotiation with Donald Trump? He proactively reached out to Donald Trump and said he would be glad to negotiate an agreement. Why on earth would anyone volunteer to renegotiate a trade deal on preconditions set by Donald Trump?
John Ivison of the National Post said:
Politicians, like gamblers, need to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. [The Prime Minister’s] pre-emptive decision to tell one of the planet’s most voracious deal-makers that Canada was willing to renegotiate NAFTA, without even being asked, was naïve.
Our national media is saying that the was naive to proactively want to negotiate a new NAFTA, because at the end of the day, what we see is that we got a lesser deal than we had before. What is worse is that this is effectively an asymmetrical trade deal. Most of the benefits of this negotiation are going to the United States. Very few, if any, concessions are given by the United States to Canada.
Let us quickly look at what Canada gave up or failed to achieve. One of the major failings, of course, is that the new NAFTA does nothing to address the long-standing softwood lumber dispute. Canada's forest industry, especially in my home province of B.C., is in crisis mode, because the has failed to deliver on his promise to resolve this dispute.
Members may remember that back in March 2016 in the White House rose garden our and President Obama promised to resolve this dispute. Here is exactly what our said on that day, “I’m confident that we are on a track towards resolving this irritant in the coming weeks and months.”
Here we are, almost four years later, and there is no softwood lumber resolution in sight. By all accounts that is a failure that lies at the feet of this Liberal government. The NAFTA renegotiation was a perfect opportunity to resolve this dispute, but it did not get done.
Then there are the buy America provisions. The United States has effectively said that in many of the states, if large projects and large procurement contracts are tendered, only American companies can compete or participate. Canadian companies are shut out. Those are called buy America provisions.
This trade negotiation, the new NAFTA, was a perfect opportunity to resolve that dispute. It did not get done, which is another lost opportunity, another failure.
Our Liberal friends also agreed to give major concessions on dairy, eggs and poultry, without any American concessions in return. Those concessions were big enough that, as my colleague who spoke just before me mentioned, the government had to come up with compensation to cover for those concessions. Guess who pays for that compensation. Canadian taxpayers pay for that. The has actually cost us money as taxpayers as a result of this negotiation.
What is worse is that, after making those concessions, the also agreed that he would limit the exports of value-added dairy products, like powdered milk and diafiltered milk products.
It gets worse. To add insult to injury, our fearless Liberal negotiators even agreed that if Canada ever wants to change its milk pricing and classing regime, we have to go begging, cap in hand, to the United States to ask for permission. We have effectively given away a piece of our sovereignty. Shame on the government.
There is another concession the made. He gave up the right to an investor-state dispute settlement, which protects Canadian companies and allows them to sue the American government if it acts discriminatingly against them. Now the remedy is they have to go to the American courts.
Another thing the gave away is a veto to the United States on any trade negotiation with a non-market economy. In other words, the President of the United States can veto our ability to actually negotiate an agreement with any country that does not have a free market economy based on free market principles, like China. However, the United States itself has already negotiated a deal, placing us at a competitive disadvantage. It goes on and on and on.
This is a failed deal, yet we are going to support it because this relationship with the United States is so critical. We want the assurance for our Canadian businesses that they can continue to do business with the United States and with our other NAFTA partner, Mexico.
Madam Speaker, this situation reminds me of a story of when I was young. It was my parents' anniversary. My father came home and my little sister looked at my father and yelled, “Roses, roses.”
My mother was behind me modestly smiling and my father presented my mother with a beautiful bouquet of tulips. My mother was a little disappointed as she had wanted roses, but instead received tulips. In this moment, she decided, similar to this agreement, that it was good enough.
There has been a big debate within the Conservative caucus that this is not a great deal, as the previous speaker indicated. We have lost a lot. Why is that? Let us look at it for a moment.
There was a memo written by a prime minister, as published in the National Post, which indicated three reasons. The first is the inconsistency we have seen within negotiations and taking strong stances without thinking that the President of the United States might cancel NAFTA, which certainly the opposition felt was a very real possibility, as well as all Canadians.
It was the government's decision to work almost overwhelmingly agreeably in the beginning with Mexico. I joked, desearía estar Obrador. I would love to be Obrador in this moment with Canada wanting to work so closely. In fact, it was quoted as, “the U.S. is both irked and mystified by the Liberals’ unwavering devotion to Mexico”, rather than Canada and Canadians. That is the second part.
The third, of course, is that it was a criticism of the Liberals for pursuing their progressive trade policies in these talks. Did they really think that somehow they would force the Trump administration into enacting their entire agenda on union power, climate change, aboriginal claims and gender issues? While the Canadian government was doing that, the Americans were laying down their real demands, and we got outmanoeuvred and out-negotiated, as my previous colleague mentioned.
Let us look at the things we lost. My colleague also touched upon that, but I will remind members again that on aluminum, we were not afforded the same provisions as steel. On dairy, 3.6% of the Canadian market opened up to imports. The accord now dictates specific thresholds for Canadian exports of milk protein concentrates, skim milk powder and infant formula. If the export threshold is exceeded, Canada adds duties to the exports in excess to make them even more expensive. Also, within dairy, we have seen milk classes 6 and 7 eliminated.
As well, the temporary entry for business persons has not been updated to reflect the new economy. As someone who studied in the States, I certainly have an appreciation for the J-1 visa. Then, of course, there is the H-1B visa. As my colleague recognized, Buy America was absolutely not addressed, another way we were outmanoeuvred.
Finally, auto rules of origin were ignored and I will add that forestry was as well, which my colleague expanded on quite significantly. The softwood lumber dispute was not even addressed during the negotiations. The following quote says it very well, “The United States is measuring this deal by what they gained.” Our Deputy Prime Minister “is measuring it by what [s]he didn't give up.” That is not good enough at all.
Conservatives feel we have a duty to support this bill at second reading on behalf of Canadians. Canadians would certainly be better with it than without it, but even the commentary around it is very lukewarm. If we look at the commentary from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, it states, “The CUSMA...was an imperfect but necessary agreement to provide greater predictability in our relations with Canada’s largest trading partner.” That is not very enthusiastic.
In addition, my good friend and colleague Goldy Hyder with the Business Council of Canada said that the new NAFTA is, as my mother thought the tulips were, “good enough” for Canada, something that “gets us through this administration.”
I will now refer to the 's letter to Canadians. It states, “We faced a series of unprecedented trade actions from the United States. It was a protectionist barrage unlike any Canada has faced before.” I wonder why that is. “This national consensus is remarkable.” Yes, that this deal is okay. “That said, there is a reason why more than 75 per cent of Canadians support ratification of this agreement.” I would argue that it is fear and resignation.
Who are the winners? As my previous colleague mentioned, President Trump. This is clearly one for the president.
He got a legit, comprehensive deal done with two foreign countries and Democrats, who are currently trying to impeach him. He can also say he delivered on a key campaign promise: to renegotiate or “terminate” NAFTA. The deal should be a positive for the U.S. economy, another boost in an already improving economic picture for 2020. It also gives him confidence and momentum in his trade battle with China.
This, of course, is the reason we have the special committee.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi played this right. She made the decision to focus on the one issue of labour rights rather than asking for an overwhelming barrage of a number of interests. We were really outplayed there, without question.
It is said in this Washington Post article that USMCA will “create 176,000 new jobs in the United States”. Congratulations to the U.S. I wish we could say the same.
What did it say about Canada? It said, “The Canadians managed not to cave too much to Trump.” That is pretty sad. That is hardly good enough. The paper went on to explain all of the things that we lost, which is very unfortunate, because there are a lot.
Why are we pushed into a corner on deals such as this? It is because the Liberal government has no clear foreign policy strategy based on consistent values like the previous Conservative government had, and we have absolutely seen this consistently.
In 2017, the promised to lead Canada into a new era of international engagement. He said his foreign policies would focus on improving Canada's commitments to multilateralism, human rights, the rule of law and effective diplomacy. But when it comes to foreign policy, the Liberal government has fumbled every single step of the way. It has conducted its foreign affairs, including this trade agreement, with style over substance.
We could go on and on: the disastrous trip to India, the concessions he made here and his government's inability to bring home two Canadians arbitrarily detained in China. All of this has done everything to damage Canada's reputation on the world stage and our relationship with trade partners.
Rather than following proven approaches to diplomacy, the has chosen to rely on social media and this has absolutely hurt Canada.
The has also done this. She irresponsibly tweeted about civil society and the imprisonment of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia responded by freezing all of its investments in Canada and expelling our ambassador. As a result, Canada was left with zero ability to influence Saudi Arabia on human rights.
The has failed to deliver the new era in Canadian international engagement that he promised. Canada's inaction and lack of strategy when it comes to major players has allowed these countries to expand their spheres of influence around the globe. Make no mistake, others are watching, including Donald Trump. Being a good ally and contributor on the world stage requires more than just talk. Strength and confidence are respected.
It is time to renew Canada's reputation globally, promote the values that we stand for and assert our sovereignty as a nation once more, which we did not do in the negotiation of this agreement.
Canadians deserve better than “good enough”. Would we have surgery by a doctor who is “good enough”? Would we fly on a plane with a pilot who is “good enough”? Canadians deserve a principled, well-thought-out foreign policy, but the Liberal government is not delivering it. We care about the Canadian people, the dairy worker, the auto worker, the rig worker and their families. That is why we are supporting this at second reading to send it to committee. Canadians deserve better than “good enough”.
Madam Speaker, for over a year, Canada has been negotiating very hard for a modernized free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, now called CUSMA or the new NAFTA. We knew how important it was to get it right and to get a fair deal that was good for Canadian workers and good for Canadian businesses and communities. We did everything in our power to protect jobs, create more opportunity for Canadian workers and their families and to ensure the growth of our economy. I believe it has paid off.
The new NAFTA will benefit Canadians from every corner of the country and will reinforce the strong economic ties between our three countries. I hope to see support from all colleagues in the House to get the job done.
The new NAFTA also maintains our country's preferential access to the United States and Mexico, which are Canada's largest and third-largest trading partners respectively, while modernizing long, outdated elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement. This includes labour obligations regarding the elimination of employment discrimination based on gender.
This new NAFTA is the very first international trade deal that recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination in its labour chapter. That is very worthy of our support. This includes our obligations regarding the elimination of discrimination based on gender. That is huge.
When it comes to supply management, the U.S. starting position was to completely dismantle Canada's supply management. The U.S. summary of objectives for NAFTA renegotiation was to eliminate the remaining Canadian tariffs on imports of U.S. dairy, poultry and egg products. Our government has defended our supply management system. This agreement will provide some market access, but most important, the future of supply management is now not in question. This is very good for our dairy farmers and for many of the farming sectors.
Our farmers and our dairy producers will be compensated and dairy farmers can start receiving their first cheques this month. In Nova Scotia, we are very pleased about that.
I forgot to say, Madam Speaker, that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for .
Another aspect of the trade agreement, which is important to Nova Scotia, is agriculture and seafood as well. Our government has worked extremely hard to negotiate and to defend these interests of Canadians. We protected the North American agriculture and agrifood trade. We have protected the Canada-U.S. bilateral agriculture trade of $63 billion; the Canada-Mexico bilateral agricultural trade of $4.6 billion; and through the new NAFTA, we have also made gains for farmers. Through CETA, the CPTPP and the renegotiation of NAFTA, the biggest free trade deals in Canada's history, we have been able to preserve, protect and defend this supply management system.
When it comes to forestry, we feel that Canada's forestry industry supports really good jobs across the country, especially in Nova Scotia, which is important to me. However, we feel the U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber are unfair and unwanted. Work remains of this.
Nova Scotia remains Canada's number one leader in seafood exports, with more than $2 billion in exports or 29% of Canada's total seafood exports. The U.S. remains our closest and largest market, but China is now second, with an increase of 36% of our seafood in the last few years. We hope the new virus does not affect us too much. We have seen some effects momentarily, but we hope that it does not last.
Finally, our government will always stand up for our cultural industry, because it means protecting a $53.8 billion industry, representing over 650,000 quality jobs for Canadians. That is 75,000 jobs in Quebec alone.
The new NAFTA has important benefits for Quebec, including preserving the cultural exemption. It gives Canada flexibility to adopt and maintain programs and policies that support the creation, distribution and development of Canadian artistic expression or content, including in the digital environment. This is very important to creative industries. As a former actor, writer, producer, I for one know how important that is to our bottom line.
That is why Canada stood firm to protect the cultural exemption and our economic interests during the renegotiation of the new NAFTA. We will always defend our cultural sovereignty, because that is the right thing to do for Canada.
When it comes to the environment, the new NAFTA has a new enforceable environmental chapter. This replaces the separate side agreement of before. It upholds air quality and fights marine pollution. We believe that commitments to high levels of environmental protection are an important part of trade agreements. After all, without the environment, we do not have an economy. These protect our workers and they protect our planet.
When it comes to drug prices, our government knows how proud Canadians are of our public health care system. As Canadians, this is part of our identity. We do not have to sit here arguing whether universal medicare is good; we know it is. We also know that the affordability of and access to prescription drugs remains an important issue for so many Canadians, especially our seniors.
That is why budget 2019 takes bold, concrete steps to lay the foundation for national pharmacare, like the creation of a new Canadian drug agency. This is an important issue for our government. Our government will always stand up for our public health care system, and the changes to data protection for biologic drugs may have an impact on costs. I can assure the people that we will work with the provinces and the territories on the potential impact of these changes.
We have worked hard to achieve a very good deal that will benefit all Canadians. The enforceable provisions that protect women's rights, minority rights, indigenous rights and environmental protections are the strongest in any Canadian trade agreement to date. Of that, I believe we can all be very proud.
Madam Speaker, as members well know, since August 2017 when we were told that NAFTA was going to go by the board and we would have to start thinking about how we would renegotiate, a lot of things were put out there as, “this is not going to happen anymore”. Therefore, since August 2017 and until we were able to ratify this and sign on to the new CUSMA, we have done a great deal of work, and Canada did that work.
One of the things we need to talk about, because anyone could find loopholes in this deal, is that any deal or negotiation means that no one side is going to get everything it wants. There is a bit of give and take here in order to get this and keep this.
We had a very strong set of negotiators. I want to point out that our negotiators were not just our Minister of Foreign Affairs, our and our bureaucrats. We brought labour and industries to the table. We brought Canadians and farmers and people who had a vested interest in this to our table. We all began to talk about what the most important things were for us to get when we were at the table.
Having negotiated for the doctors in British Columbia on occasion, I can tell you that we have to go in and say, “We are not going to budge on this.” We knew what we wanted, and we dug our heels in, and that was decided on by the team of people who were negotiating with us. We all realized what we had to give up, and we all decided what was strong.
This deal is better in many ways than the old NAFTA. That is because the team decided on what was most important. We must not forget that we have maintained privileged access to the U.S., which is our largest trading partner. We do 76% of our trade with the United States, so that was an important thing.
We have heard people talk about sovereignty. It is said that Canada's sovereignty went by the board. One of the things that is very clear, and what we dug our heels on and retained, is what is indeed sovereignty for Canada.
We managed to keep control over our key cultural sector. Canada is different culturally from the United States, and we know that. We see a huge $54-billion cultural industry in Canada, which has created about 650,000 jobs across this country, with 75,000 of those being in Quebec alone. Because Quebec is distinct in language and culture, we have been able to maintain sovereign control over that part of who we are as Canadians, and that is important to remember.
We also kept true to some of the more important things: our values, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our values are very clear in terms of what we stand for as Canadians. Gender equality, LGBTQ rights and minority rights were negotiated and kept strong. We have strong and enforceable language on all of those things, which we did not have in the old NAFTA.
When people say we gave up our cultural sovereignty, etc., we did not. We kept the things that were vital to us. I want to remind everybody that those decisions were not just made by the government. They were made by a team of everyone coming together who decided that these are the things we are going to fight for and we are not going to give up on. We got most of those things.
We have heard about the cultural sector that we have protected. In my province of British Columbia, the film industry is massive. In fact, the number one special effects globally come out of British Columbia. We were able to keep that moving and growing. This is important when we talk about jobs and the people who are benefiting.
Looking at British Columbia, we have heard a lot of talk about softwood lumber and the forestry sector, but we did something very important. We managed to keep a very strong and enforceable dispute resolution mechanism when it comes to looking at things like softwood lumber.
Supply management was something that we were promised by the United States. The U.S. said it was going to take it away from us. We have kept it, so supply management is no longer on the table for debate. How we get better deals for all our dairy products, etc., is an ongoing negotiation and we need to look at how we move forward.
In British Columbia, where 77% of our agricultural exports go to the United States, we have managed to keep that. We have managed also to allow our farmers access to Mexico, which we did not have extremely good access to. Now we have broadened our market within Canada.
Again, for those of you who have long memories, we used to have to go to the WTO on softwood lumber every time. We struggled for years debating it and going to the WTO, and the United States ignored us. Now, we have enforceable and strong dispute resolution mechanisms, so we do not have to spend a lot of time dealing with what we know is going to come up. Everyone is still going to try to deal with protectionism, but we have ways now of fighting that very clearly.
For me, there are a lot of important things in this agreement. One of the things that is key to being Canadian is medicare, our public health care system, which has not been touched. Our ability to maintain, change and deal with our public health care system in the way we have always done is sacrosanct, and it is still there. When we talk about sovereignty, we talk about that as being sovereign. We are bringing in pharmacare. Our government is working on this.
The ability to bring down, from 10 years to eight years, our biologics information and data and put that out for generics means we are going to get cheaper drugs, especially for expensive drugs like biologics.
There are some really important things that do not have to do only with trade but with maintaining who we are as Canadians, what we stand for and what we think is important. This agreement would enhance our ability to continue our health care, especially when health care and Obamacare have been under great threat by the United States. We know that we can keep what we have, and we see how important that is.
Again, we have enforcement language on environmental standards in forestry and our agricultural sector. We have also maintained our plastics ban and all those kinds of environmental issues that Canada has acted on. We are talking with a country that does not believe in global warming, but we have still managed to keep intact our own ability to deal with it.
Our oceans protection plan, which protects species at risk in our oceans and which our government brought forward with $1.5 billion, remains intact. We have an agreement to help to look at how our whales and turtles are under threat, and how we need to maintain and sustain those threatened species.
Also, we would look at fishing and compare stocks to see if overfishing is harming our ability in British Columbia to maintain ordinary stocks of fish, such as salmon. Therefore, while we have endangered species, we also have ordinary fishing species to look at and how overfishing would impact maintaining some of those stocks, which is extremely important.
When we look at labour, we have the ability to enforce the fact that there are going to be strong standards around labour. For instance, in the United States, discrimination based on sexual orientation is no longer there. In Mexico, we had seen a strong push-back against unions and labour rights. We have that in there. It is there and it is enforceable. We also have very strong dispute resolution mechanisms to deal with a country that would deny these labour rights. We have moved forward on a whole lot of things that we did not have before.
One of the important things to remember is that this agreement is very good for my province in terms of the fact that 50% of all the lumber that goes to the United States comes out of British Columbia. It is important for us, and these clear dispute resolution mechanisms are going to stop us from running back and forth as we did in the old days with the WTO.
In closing, I am sure that every one of us in the House, including me, could pick holes in this agreement. Of course there are going to be things we wish we could have had, such as everything we wanted when we went to the table. However, if members have ever negotiated before, they would know that when we go to the table, we go with 100 items, but will go to bat and dig our heels in on 50 of them, because we have to give some up to get some. This is what happened.
This is a great deal. It is a better deal than we ever had. I hope all members in the House will recognize it and think of Canadians, our economy and the jobs that will come out of it, and ratify this agreement.