The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand here today to discuss the new NAFTA and the importance this agreement has not only within my riding of Foothills, but across the country.
Today, I want to be really clear. I want to talk about some background of how we came here. I want to be extremely forthright in the fact that many of the stakeholders who I deal with in the agriculture sector, whether that is farmers, ranchers or food processors, support this agreement and they want to see it passed. So do we as Conservatives.
We are the party of free trade. It was under a previous Conservative government that the first NAFTA was born, an agreement which brought about historic opportunities for the Canadian economy, whether that was manufacturing, industry, energy and certainly in agriculture.
It was also under the previous Conservative government, with prime minister Stephen Harper, that we signed free trade agreements with more than 40 countries, bringing Canadian businesses more than a billion new customers. That was unprecedented economic opportunities for our Canadian businesses across the country.
I would like to give a little history lesson. The previous Conservative government negotiated the free trade agreement with the European Union as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. However, the current Liberal government almost bungled those critical trade agreements, with geopolitical mistakes, that almost proved extremely costly to the Canadian economy.
For all intents and purposes, the Trans-Pacific Partnership was to be the renegotiation of the current NAFTA. We negotiated that agreement with President Barrack Obama in the United States, probably the most progressive president in the history of the United States. However, when the current and the Liberal government took power, that Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was not progressive enough for him. In fact, when the Prime Minister was a no-show at that signing ceremony, it was an embarrassment to Canada. It embarrassed our allies and it was highly inappropriate, so much so, it almost resulted in Canada not being an initial signatory on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
However, what did result from the 's embarrassing behaviour as part of that project, was four more years of uncertainty to Canada's economy. It also resulted in the Prime Minister saying that he was more than willing to renegotiate NAFTA under the new President, Donald Trump. That is where our concerns lie.
When the previous Conservative government negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the free trade agreement with the European Union, our previous agriculture minister, Gerry Ritz, and the previous trade minister, the member for , ensured that every step along the way their colleagues in the opposition had regular meetings, regular updates on what the process was, what the concessions were and what the pros and cons would be in it. In addition, all the stakeholder groups also had very keen interests and were included in all those discussions. We have none of that with the current Liberal government.
We have been kept in the dark from beginning to end with this new NAFTA. All we were asking for was some due diligence to see the details in that agreement. Therefore, people can see why Conservative members are not ready to jump on board and approve the Liberals' new agreement without giving it that due diligence, without giving it that scrutiny.
We have heard over the last few days of debate on the new NAFTA that the Liberals have asked us to trust them, that this is a great deal, better than any deal we have had before. However, the Liberals have not earned that trust. They have not earned that trust from Conservative members. They certainly have not earned that trust from stakeholders who have asked us, especially in the agriculture sector, to do our due diligence, to give this process the scrutiny it deserves.
Let us go back a little to why stakeholders are asking us to ensure we review this and why they are wary of what the Liberals may be trying to pass through this NAFTA. They have not earned that trust of many of stakeholders, especially in the agriculture sector.
It is a government that promised to do a thorough and robust review of the business risk management programs and come up with a new program that would be bankable, accessible and efficient for Canadian agriculture. The Liberals have not done that. It is a broken promise.
It is a Liberal government that promised a compensation package for dairy processors as part of its previous free trade agreements. It reneged on that promise. There is no compensation package at all for dairy processors. It is another promise broken.
This is a Liberal government that missed a critical deadline to apply to the World Organisation for Animal Health for negligible risk status for Canada when it came to bovine spongiform encephalopathy. That was a critical mistake.
The agriculture minister, the trade minister, the health minister, the , all of them dropped the ball. How does one miss a date that we knew of 11 years before it was coming? As a result, our beef ranchers in Ontario are struggling because of a lack of capacity and now have limited options to export their beef products.
Had the Liberal government met that deadline, and it was just putting a notice of motion on the table with the World Organisation for Animal Health to let it know that we would be applying this year, it would have opened doors for Ontario beef producers. However, the government did not do that, and has not apologized for this or admitted that it was a mistake. Not only was it a mistake; it was a crushing mistake for Ontario beef producers and certainly cattle ranchers across Canada. It was an important date that the government missed.
In addition to that, the Liberals have implemented a punishing carbon tax on Canadian agriculture. The has admitted this week that she is not keeping any data on the impact of the carbon tax on Canadian farmers.
People can see why our agriculture stakeholders from coast to coast to coast are questioning the ability of due diligence of the Liberal government when it comes to this NAFTA agreement. As I have said from the beginning, the vast majority of stakeholders want the new NAFTA agreement to be enforced, but they do not want us to jump in and sign this agreement as quickly as possible. They want us to ensure we look at every aspect of this agreement before we vote to ratify it.
This has been a harvest from hell for Canadian agriculture, and we have heard this from many stakeholders. I will read some quotes to show why our producers are a little wary of the Liberals' intent here.
Bill Campbell, the president of Keystone Agricultural Producers said:
We are firm in our position that there needs to be an exemption for farmers under the carbon tax framework for all the costs associated with drying all grain, as well as for heating barns and farm buildings...Now that Manitoba falls under the federal backstop, farmers are left paying prices that, as price-takers in the global economy, cannot be passed along.
Jeff Nielsen of Grain Growers Canada said this week:
The 2019 harvest season has put undue burdens on farmers’ livelihoods and every part of the country has been hit hard...Beyond just the crop left in the field, farmers have faced major grain drying expenses, courtesy of the federal carbon tax, to ensure at least some crops make it to market....These costs are adding up and we cannot continue to pay the price for inaction...A complete exemption for all fuels used on the farm is what farmers ultimately require to avoid these crises in the future and provide farmers with the resources to continue doing what we do best.
People can see why our agriculture stakeholders are concerned, because there is no trust level with the Liberal government.
Certainly, the Liberals are giving that great lip service that this new NAFTA is a better agreement, but before we make that decision, we want to have every opportunity to review it.
As many of my colleagues have said in their speeches over the last week, we have asked for an economic impact analysis, we have asked for data that backs up the agreement the Liberals have asked us to sign, but we have not seen any of those documents.
As I have said previously, the stark difference between when the Conservative government was negotiating these free trade agreements and the Liberal government is that under the Conservative government, we ensured that the opposition was involved every step of the way, that it was well informed with all of the decisions that were being made and that the stakeholders were there at the table with us. However, the stakeholders and the opposition have not had the same opportunity when it comes to this agreement.
It is an obligation as elected representatives that we do our due diligence. Our constituents demand us to do that. They are wary of what this agreement may hold. This is especially true when it comes to a trade agreement with one of our most important trading partners, the United States.
For agriculture, we must ensure that there is no question that the new NAFTA agreement represents stability and reliable trade with Mexico and the United States, two of our most important trading partners. In my constituency of Foothills, my residents demand that; they want that.
Free and fair trade is a top priority for us as Conservatives and certainly for our constituents as well.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the new NAFTA. I would like to start by showing why this agreement is so important.
More than 400,000 people cross the Canada-U.S. border every day for work. Every day, $2.4 billion in goods cross the border. About two million Canadian jobs are directly linked to free trade with the United States. We now have six time as much trade with Mexico than we had when we signed our agreement in 1993.
Let us also look at the history of why we are negotiating NAFTA. The U.S. president was elected by saying that NAFTA was the worst deal ever made. It was inevitable that any Canadian government was going to have to renegotiate with the United States on NAFTA.
This Canadian government, in my view, did an exceptional job in arriving at a deal that is even better than the previous NAFTA in almost every area. That is sensational when looking at the difference in size between Canada and the United States. The United States has a population that is about nine times bigger than that of Canada.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that Canada is the U.S.'s biggest trading partner in the vast majority of states and that millions of American jobs are linked to NAFTA, there is far less knowledge in the United States on the importance of the trading relationship between Canada and the United States than there is in Canada.
As a result, the team had to deal with numerous challenges in this negotiation, one of which was educating Americans on how important their trading relationship with Canada is. Another was navigating the system in the United States, where the administration was of one party and the majority in the House of Representatives was of another party.
We have now arrived at a point where Mexico has ratified the new NAFTA, the United States Congress has passed it and the U.S. president has signed the bill, ratifying it. We in Canada are now left to decide one thing: Do we go along with our partners in the United States and Mexico and ratify this deal or do we not? I would say yes, we need to do so.
I will talk about a couple of the areas where Canada resolutely defended its position in the NAFTA negotiations.
First, there is chapter 19, the dispute resolution mechanism. We all heard the Americans continually challenge chapter 19, trying to have it removed from the new NAFTA. Indeed, in the initial agreement between Mexico and the United States, that chapter was removed. Canada was able to ensure that this chapter remained, leaving us a dispute resolution mechanism with the United States, something we desperately need in dealing with a trading partner that is vastly bigger than us.
In the course of these negotiations, we succeeded in protecting supply management, something the Americans, who saw it as one of their key issues in the deal, said they wanted us to repeal. We also succeeded in this deal by getting new labour and environment chapters that were not in the previous agreement, things that will be of benefit to Canadian workers and the environment. Indeed, with changes made through the demands of Democrats in the U.S. Congress, the enforcement mechanisms for the labour and environmental chapters are better now than they were in the original deal.
As parliamentary secretary for labour, I am very pleased with the labour chapters in NAFTA. The labour standards that are now established in NAFTA are progressive and fully enforceable. They help level the playing field for Canadian workers and businesses; are a major upgrade from those in the original NAFTA because they protect migrant workers and union members; prevent the import of products made by forced labour; require measures to protect workers against discrimination; ensure that laws and policies that protect workers' rights, like those for collective bargaining and freedom of association, are enshrined; give Canadian businesses a chance to grow; and give workers a fair chance to share in the benefits of free trade. That is something.
In addition, for automobiles to be NAFTA-certified, 70% of the parts used in them have to be made in North America, in Canada, the United States or Mexico. In the current NAFTA this obligation is not there. That is a huge deal for parts makers in Canada that contribute to the auto industry, and it includes steel and aluminum. Seventy percent of the components need to be made in North America.
I understand the concerns that have been expressed about aluminum, but we have to remember that we started with a 0% requirement and are now at 70%. For those parts that are manufactured in Canada and the United States, the anti-dumping measures prevail and, as such, Canadian aluminum producers are doing far better, despite concerns that Mexico may use Chinese aluminum. We do not want that to happen, but that could be happening and is probably happening right now. The deal does not change that issue. It only means that now 70% of the parts need to be made in North America.
While I acknowledge it is true that the deal for steel states that parts need to be poured and melted in North America and it does not for aluminum, that will come into effect seven years from now. We have seven years to see if we can improve stuff on aluminum. However, it still means that the protections for aluminum providers today are better than they were under the previous NAFTA. It is a gain, not a loss.
Another thing that is really important is now a significant percentage of parts need to be made by workers earning more than $16 an hour. That is a huge deal because it means that factories in Mexico with low-cost workers will no longer be able to produce the NAFTA-certified parts under this threshold. That means that more jobs will be kept in Canada and the United States and not moved to Mexico. That is an incredible victory in this deal. Canada has established with Mexico a working group to improve labour standards and working conditions. Mexico is going to need to make labour reforms, especially in areas that are crucial for the implementation of the new NAFTA. The Canada-Mexico bilateral labour working group will ensure that Canadian expertise is available to share our best practices and strengthen co-operation with Mexico. It will bring together Canadian and Mexican experts to help implement the new NAFTA's labour protections and standards. Therefore, when we talk about all of the different things that NAFTA could have been, and we look at the U.S. original negotiating position, this new trade agreement could have been very difficult for Canadians. In the end, this panel of people that Canada has put together, from our professional civil service to our government members working on this, to those many others that helped in the process, including many members of the former Conservative government who aided our current government in negotiating NAFTA, all talked about former prime minister Brian Mulroney, who was intricately involved in assisting our government, and the former interim leader of the Conservative Party, Rona Ambrose. This was a Team Canada effort, as it should be, because when we create a trade deal that is of so much importance to Canadian jobs, Canadian workers and our Canadian economy, it is primordial.
It is primordial to have a first-rate team of people from all over the country who represent labour, employers, unions, individuals from all different groups, including the government, the opposition and everyone. I think Freeland and her entire team did an outstanding job.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today and speak to this very important issue for the Canadian economy and Canadian foreign policy. I know it is also important to my constituents.
We are discussing the new NAFTA. It is important to be clear at the outset that I and the Conservative Party are very supportive of free trade. We are the party of free trade, and it is important to review how we got here. Before I do that, I will underline our commitment to the importance of free trade, particularly in North America. My party wants to see that happen and wants to ensure it happens in a way that is in the best interest of Canada.
If we go back a few decades to around the time I was born, some people in the House will remember the free trade election in 1988. It was very much a live issue of whether free trade with the United States was good for Canada. The Liberal Party and the NDP's position was that this would lead to a hollowing out of Canada completely, and that the effect of this was, as John Turner said at the time, to make Canada a colony of the United States.
I am pleased to say that our party, as on many other issues, was on the right side of history and has been able to prevail in that cause. We are now at a point where there may not be a universal consensus, but a much greater consensus, on the importance of free trade.
Even as we hear more verbal acquiescence from Liberal politicians and others to the idea that free trade is good for Canada, it is very clear if we look at the record that, even today, Conservatives have pursued trade relations with other countries with a great deal more enthusiasm and vigour.
During the time of the Stephen Harper government, we moved forward and signed trade deals with countries representing over 60% of the world's GDP, including the trans-Pacific partnership deal and the Canada-E.U. free trade agreement. We were also pursing trade negotiations with a variety of other countries that were a bit smaller, but still very important.
The government's celebrated achievements in the last Parliament around trade were really crossing t's and dotting i's on agreements that were negotiated under Conservatives. We applauded the fact that they did not stop the progress that was happening.
As we can see even today, the vigour with which Conservatives support and pursue free trade deals is much greater. We understand that voluntary exchange between free peoples is the basis for prosperity, here and around the world. In a context where that voluntary exchange is between free peoples, where it benefits Canadian workers as it does, there is no reason for the government to get in the way of people's ability to engage in commerce across international borders.
In front of us, we have a situation dealing with NAFTA. To add context, we had the election of an American president who said he wanted to renegotiate NAFTA. He took some positions that were very far out of step with what Canadians wanted, which would not have been in Canada's interest.
The Liberal government now claims as victories the fact that it did not make all of the concessions that were asked for. It says, “We could have lost this”, and so forth, but we did not lose things we could have lost. Hopefully the negotiation was never saying, “You can have exactly what you want.” It is a certainty, and it is clear in the deal and the outcome we have, that the government took the existing position we had, negotiated with the positions proposed and ended up with something in between, something that still lost ground for Canada in terms of our interest.
The Liberal government has argued, although not explicitly, that it was inevitable. Maybe it is not said directly, but the government says it was a difficult context and, given the context, this was the best that it could do. There were various strategic decisions made at the political level that did not help.
I think the government could have, at the outset, put the emphasis on Canadian jobs and Canadian workers. It could have been clearer earlier in articulating the specific focus of Canada's interest, rather than putting the focus on more symbolic issues.
I think the government could also have avoided being directly unnecessarily antagonistic. I, of course, disagree with policies of other governments from time to time. I am not someone who is shy about expressing that, including in the chamber. However, I think the government could have done a better job in trying to miss those opportunities to goad the other side and to make themselves the issue, instead of making Canadian workers and their opportunities the issue.
We now have this deal in front of us. I think it could have been much better, but on the other hand we have to take it as it is. I will say for the government, that we are negotiating deals in a minority Parliament. We see an example of this happening in other countries around NAFTA, where the system requires the President to engage actively with congressional leaders around the details of the deal.
Right now we have a minority Parliament, where the government did not actually get the most votes in the last election. They got about a third of the votes. They got fewer votes than the Conservative party did. The responsible way to negotiate deals, to pursue these kinds of things in the context of a minority Parliament, is to have opposition shadow ministers and members directly involved all the way along and given the opportunity to be actively there, proposing ideas, rather than the government just saying that they are going to be briefed after the fact.
As it happens, Conservative members were very involved in advancing the national interest. They were spending time in the United States advancing the relationship, defending Canadian-American trade and talking about the importance of these things. However, we are still not being briefed and engaged in those conversations in a way, and to the degree, that would be considered automatic in the vast majority of democratic legislatures around the world.
I would ask the government to work to do better on that. If it wants to ensure the success of these kinds of agreements in a minority Parliament, it needs to understand that the opposition has a responsibility to scrutinize them in the national interest and in particular in the interest of Canadian workers.
In the context of trade, we need to reflect on our national competitiveness. In an environment where we are trading internationally, we inevitably have to consider the competitiveness of our economy in relation to other countries. That is one of the reason I think the Teck mine project in Alberta is very important.
We need to ensure economic development. We need to ensure that Alberta is able to develop its natural resource sector. The Teck Resources Limited project, a $20.7-billion project, could be producing 260,000 barrels of crude oil per day. This would be very good for the Canadian economy. This would be very good for our competitiveness. This would be very good for jobs and opportunity in Alberta.
I want to clearly express my strong support for this project, but we have mixed messages and dithering on this from the government. We had the saying the cabinet could make a decision to improve it, reject it or delay it. Indeed, the Liberals have implied that they might make that decision contingent on certain policy actions at other levels of government.
The reality is that this project has already been through a rigorous assessment. It is a project that is good for the Canadian economy, and I think is consistent with our environmental commitments, insofar as the world will continue to use oil and we should create incentives for the development of new technologies to improve our environmental performance. In that context, and recognizing strong support for this project from indigenous communities, I hope the government supports it.
This is one of many examples of issues that are important for our national economy and for ensuring our competitiveness, and I hope the government will take my support for the project, and that of other members and certainly of the whole Conservative caucus, into consideration as it moves forward.
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today for my first official speech. As the member for Brampton East, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my constituents for putting their trust in me to represent their interests here in Ottawa. I would also like to thank my family, especially my wife, Jo, and two daughters, Ayva and Maya.
Having spent the last 11 years working as an international trade consultant with businesses from coast to coast to coast, I am grateful to have the opportunity today to speak to Bill , an act to implement the agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States. I know this agreement will give businesses the stability to keep trading and investing in good middle-class jobs here in Canada. With over $2 billion in trade per day, and the countless integrated supply chains with our neighbours to the south, it is clear that Canadian businesses rely on a dependable and stable trade relationship with our friends in the U.S. and Mexico.
In my riding of Brampton East, trade has an enormous impact on families. The trade corridor in my riding brings stability to many Canadians, giving them good-paying jobs and the ability to provide for their families. Many businesses rely on an open trade agreement with the U.S. and I have seen that first-hand. In Brampton the transportation industry, especially the trucking industry, relies heavily on trade with the U.S. This trade deal will give businesses the stability they need to further invest in their ventures and continue to create new middle-class jobs.
The new NAFTA will continue to give Canadian businesses favourable access to almost half a billion consumers. This agreement was a robust, collaborative effort that sought the perspectives and opinions from over 47,000 Canadians to ensure their views were considered at the negotiation table. We also spoke to over 1,300 stakeholders, including small businesses, indigenous groups, female entrepreneurs, academics and youth. Thanks to Canadians who shared their views, we went into these negotiations prepared and, in the end, we got a good deal for middle-class families and for our country.
This trade deal will bring new opportunities, security and market access for many Canadian industries. This new progressive trade deal brings forth a great opportunity for growth and expansion in Canada's automotive sector. More robust rules of origin for the auto sector will help to keep the benefits of the agreement in North America and level the playing field for Canada's high-wage workers.
This new agreement has the potential to generate increased automotive production in North America, including Canada. Additionally, this agreement creates sourcing opportunities for many Canadian parts producers. The strength of Canada's highly skilled workforce and our workers' ability to produce high-quality vehicles has always given the Canadian automotive sector an advantage.
For auto workers in Ontario, this new deal preserves crucial cross-border auto supply chains. It provides an incentive to produce vehicles in Canada and significantly improves labour rights for Mexican workers, which helps level the playing field for Canadian workers. Jerry Dias of Unifor has said that this is a much better deal than the deal that was signed 24 years ago.
Throughout the negotiations for the new NAFTA, Canada fought hard to lift the U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, and we succeeded. Canada is now the only major producer of aluminum in the world that is not subject to U.S. tariffs. This is great news for Canadians. This success is the cumulative result of our firm and measured response, including $2 billion in support for Canadian workers and companies, and hundreds of interactions with U.S. officials.
The new NAFTA is in the interests of steel and aluminum producers across Canada. Jean Simard, the president and CEO of the Aluminum Association of Canada, even said, “We think the USMCA is the right way to go.”
Catherine Cobden, president of the Canadian Steel Producers Association, said, “Implementation of the CUSMA is critical to strengthening the competitiveness of Canadian and North American steel industries and ensuring market access in the face of persistent global trade challenges and uncertainty
Let us set the record straight. This modernized agreement has secured key benefits and key access for many generations to come and CUSMA is something that all Canadians should be especially proud of. The new NAFTA will preserve existing agriculture commitments between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico and help bring together an already integrated North American industry.
We fought hard to secure many beneficial outcomes for agriculture, including new market access in the form of tariff-free quotas for refined sugar, sugar-containing products and certain dairy products. We established a modernized committee on agriculture trade, which will address issues and trade barriers, and provide obligations for agriculture biotechnology that will promote innovation, transparency and predictability. Over 50% of all of Canada's food exports are destined to the United States.
That is why the new NAFTA is so important. It would ensure that our farmers and producers can continue to have the access they need to sell their goods across the border so that they can continue to help grow the Canadian economy.
Leading into the trade deal talks, the U.S. summary of objectives for NAFTA renegotiations focused on the one key priority of eliminating the remaining Canadian tariffs on imports of U.S. dairy, poultry and egg products. Through our firm approach to the negotiations, Canada preserved it for future generations, just as we are delivering on our commitment to fully and fairly compensate for the impacts of the other trade agreements like CETA and CPTPP for our dairy, poultry and egg producers and processors. We will do the exact same once CUSMA is fully ratified.
Fundamentally, the ratification of CUSMA is good news for the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the agriculture sector that depend on continued tariff-free access to our largest trading partner. Canada's status on the national stage is a non-partisan issue. Canada's success benefits all of us, some way or another.
Premier Moe of Saskatchewan has expressed his support for the new NAFTA, having said that a signed CUSMA trade deal is good news for Saskatchewan and Canada.
Premier Jason Kenney of Alberta has said that he is relieved that a renewed North American trade agreement has been concluded.
Premier Legault of Quebec, who knows how important this trade deal is for Quebec and Canada, has said, “I think that the Bloc [Québécois] must defend the interests of Quebeckers, and it is in the interests of Quebeckers that this agreement be ratified and adopted”.
From farmers in Alberta and auto workers in Windsor, to aluminum producers in Quebec and entrepreneurs in St. John's, Brampton and Vancouver, the new NAFTA would benefit Canadians from every corner of the country.
Throughout the entire process of NAFTA negotiations, Canada's key objective remained the same: Ensure our new deal secures benefits for every Canadian. I am proud to see that this objective was fully achieved. Through the full ratification of this new trade agreement, I am confident that Canada's strategic objectives will be further advanced through a united approach to managing and maintaining our economic relationships with two of our most key allies.
While my speech has featured just some of the key successes of the new NAFTA, I would like to also point out other notable revised outcomes of CUSMA on areas such as environment, energy, culture, indigenous peoples and gender equity. In every aspect, we got a good deal for our country, which means we got a good deal for all Canadians. Canadian parliamentarians of every political stripe must understand that, politics aside, the interests of Canadians come first, last and always.
Madam Speaker, I rise today to talk about NAFTA, but first I would like to thank the hon. Speaker for the opportunity of a lifetime earlier, having sat in the chair with some of the most important people in Canadian history.
Conservatives are the party of free trade. There can be absolutely no doubt about that. Our party is responsible for negotiating some of the largest and most important trade agreements in Canadian history. The importance of that cannot be underscored too much. Our economy today is greatly reliant on the great work of previous prime ministers from the Conservative Party. Indeed, we benefit from that today in our daily lives and in our productivity and wages.
Because of the importance of free trade, I will signal today that it is my intention to support NAFTA .7, however, it is not without deep reservations that I do so as the new NAFTA .7 will have significant impacts on the aluminum industry, the forest industry and an industry that is very important to my riding, the dairy and supply-managed sectors.
National unity should be a key issue that we discuss in every debate. It is incumbent upon members of other provinces to reach across. As the member from Ontario, I have to acknowledge and tell the members, our brothers and sisters from Quebec, that I believe this agreement has an unfair and disproportionate impact on Quebec.
Much of the 2019 discourse focused on a little company called SNC-Lavalin and the 's decision to direct his Attorney General to act on a deferred prosecution had a significant impact on Canada. Of course, Canada is seen across the world as a beacon of virtue, honour and light. Unfortunately, that beacon dimmed a little with his actions.
In the Ethics Commissioner's report, it was found that the 's attempt to influence his Attorney General breached the Conflict of Interest Act. Acknowledging mistakes were made, he stood and said he would not accept full responsibility, saying he will always stand up for Quebec jobs. That statement is very troubling because it means almost limitless actions to protect maybe one job in Quebec. Is he willing to put in peril the rule of law, one of the most sacrosanct principles, just to protect one job in Quebec? Apparently so.
Also, the reality of that statement was found to be untrue because the CEO of SNC-Lavalin said there were not Canadian jobs at stake with respect to the deferred prosecution agreement.
I believe that the final bit of any credibility left in the statement that the will stand up for jobs in Quebec fell apart with the signature of NAFTA .7. To be clear, it is the worst deal for Canadians. The pain from this diminished deal is disproportionately felt by rural Canada and by Quebec.
The dairy industry is an incredibly important part of the economy in Northumberland—Peterborough South. There are 66 dairy farms in my riding. They contribute over 34 million litres of milk to our community. I have been told over and over, most recently at a debate during the election by a farmer who said he was not going to ask for anything except that we stop going through the negotiations bartering their livelihood, farmers' futures, as the first bargaining chip that goes down. Farmers are more important than that and they deserve better treatment than that.
Quebec's dairy industry is also extremely significant. There are nearly 8,000 dairy farms averaging 55 cows per farm and three billion litres of milk are produced, which accounts for about 30% of Quebec's total agricultural production. NAFTA .7 will do significant damage to the dairy industry by reducing the market by nearly 4%. We lost that production without receiving any equivalent compensation from the United States and that is because it is difficult for our producers to get into the U.S. and European markets.
Those markets, as I am sure many members are aware, are barred by tariff and non-tariff barriers. One great example of that is the U.S. pasteurization standard. Due to technicalities in the market, it is nearly impossible for Canadian producers to hit that. However, our milk is safe, it is perhaps the safest in the world, and the only reason to apply that standard on our producers is to block entry into their markets. Why could we not have made progress on that important issue?
Perhaps just as significant as the reduction in quota and the reduction in market size is the elimination of classes 6 and 7. The milk that comes from our wonderful cows becomes many different products, such as cream, whole fat and skim. However, the reality is that the market is limited for skim milk, but classes 6 and 7 would allow that skim milk to be sold competitively. In the absence of classes 6 and 7, that skim product now becomes unsaleable and unmarketable, and could be a wasted by-product, adding to the cost and perhaps even limiting the market.
This is not a good deal for the folks in the dairy industry. It is not a good deal for our dairy producers from coast to coast to coast. When we look across the nation, we could have gotten a better deal, and it is not just me saying that this is not a good deal for our dairy. Bruno Letendre, the head of the Quebec milk producers association said that “the agreement is a bad one for the Canadian industry” and that our Prime Minister “negotiated on his knees, and I'm being generous.”
There simply can be no question that the dairy industry and the supply management sector have been damaged. However, supply management has been great for the Canadian economy. It has been great for the Canadian consumer. We have amazing milk in Canada, which is among the safest in the world. Therefore, I was shocked when a Liberal member across the way earlier today said that supply management was not a good system for our consumers. That is completely untrue and objectively false.
When we look at this agreement, we acknowledge that there has been something taken away from supply management. It is clear, because the government has signalled that it will have a compensation package. However, when I talk to our farmers, they do not want another government handout. What they want is to be left alone so that they do not live in fear that, the next time a Liberal negotiator walks up to a free trade agreement, the first bargaining chip put on that board is the farmers of our country. It is not right and it is not fair.
On the impact to the aluminum sector, I have to say that the government members have done an extremely poor job in communicating. Instead of engaging us as the opposition, as partners, they have attempted to gloss over it. Therefore, I will be forthright with members. The aluminum protection is better, because it was not there before. However, the Liberals also have to acknowledge that, to be fair, this protection is undermined, if not completely undermined, by the fact that the aluminum does not have to be melted or poured in North America. I was pleased to hear, during the conversation from members on the other side, an acknowledgement of that, but they should have done that from the beginning instead of trying to sail over these issues.
My ask of government members is that, in future communications with opposition parties, they simply acknowledge the loss issues rather than attempt to sail over them. The intellectual dishonesty of selling too hard leads to distrust, which is never useful, particularly in a minority Parliament.
Further, I ask that the government be transparent and answer the following questions.
What will the economic impact of NAFTA .7 be? The Liberals have the numbers. Please share.
What are the details of the dairy compensation package? How many millions of dollars will the dairy industry lose as a result of this deal?
What is the potential exposure of the aluminum market to foreign dumping? Why was the aluminum industry not afforded the same protection as steel, and if it had been, what would the economic benefit be?
This deal, beyond a shadow of a doubt, shows that the Liberals will not stand up for jobs in Quebec when it means doing the hard job of negotiating with President Trump, and will only act when it is politically expedient to do so.
Madam Speaker, we are here today to talk about the new North American Free Trade Agreement. Whether we call it NAFTA 2.0, the USMCA or CUSMA, this agreement is a testament to the hard work of Canadians from across the political spectrum, from business to agriculture to labour, who came together to put Canada first and present a united front, a team Canada, to reach an agreement that would preserve access to our most important export markets and the millions of jobs that relied on that access.
During these negotiations, over 47,000 Canadians shared their views with the negotiating team, including over 1,300 stakeholders representing small businesses, indigenous groups, women entrepreneurs, academics and youth. The non-partisan advisory council included former Conservative ministers Rona Ambrose and James Moore, NDP strategist Brian Topp and leaders from labour and industry. Their advice and perspective helped make this agreement possible.
I would like to thank the for her leadership and determination to pull this deal off. Under challenging circumstances, she got an agreement that not only preserves our market access, but makes real forward progress in areas such as protections for women's rights and minority rights, and the strongest ever labour and environmental chapters.
Free and fair trade helps to support the quality middle-class jobs that support families in communities across the country.
My community of Scarborough has a strong industrial base that relies on access to global parts and particularly the North American market. The economies of Canada, the United States and Mexico have become so integrated that before a project is complete, it could move across the border several times.
Falcon Fasteners is a Scarborough company that sells a wide range of collated nails and brads across North America. Any type of nail one can think of, it probably makes it. It has grown from a two-person operation in 1956 to a North American leader today, from its base in Scarborough. It relies both on access to the North American market and access to affordable quality steel to make its products. This trade agreement secures that access and will allow it to continue to grow its business.
Many companies in Scarborough rely on access to foreign markets.
Berg Chilling Systems has provided hundreds of industrial refrigeration systems to customers in more than 50 countries. The Scarborough branch of Héroux Devtek specializes in landing gear for aircraft and serves a global market. eCamion is a developer of leading-edge modular energy solutions. The Cableshoppe is an IT services and solutions company that works across borders to deliver the right technology to its clients.
Those are just a few of the Scarborough-based companies exporting their expertise and leading edge technologies across Canada and around the world. Swift passage of this trade agreement gives them the confidence to continue to invest in and grow their business and create more quality jobs, confident they have a predictable and level playing field on which they can compete. It was not just about getting any deal; it was about getting a good deal.
Let us talk about gender equality. For example, for the first time, this agreement includes enforceable provisions that protect women's rights and minority rights. This includes labour obligations regarding the elimination of employment discrimination based on gender. This is also the first international trade agreement that recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination in the labour chapter.
Why is gender equality so important? A McKinsey Global Institute report estimates that women's economic equality could add $150 billion to Canada's GDP by the year 2026. However, women face barriers to full labour market participation, such as gender-based discrimination and lack of training.
More women participation in the global economy is good for all of us.
Let us talk about protecting Canada's cultural industry.
Canadians are justifiably proud of our arts and cultural community. It is a $53.8 billion industry that represents over 650,000 quality jobs that support our middle-class families from coast to coast to coast. It is not just the actors we see on the screen and the artists whose music we stream. It is the many thousands of technicians and professionals who support their work.
By preserving Canada's cultural exemption, Canada has the 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, and this is important in the streaming era. That is why we stood firm to protect the cultural exemption and our economic interest. Canada's cultural industries are world class, and we all always defend our cultural sovereignty.
Let us talk about protecting our environment.
My constituents are deeply concerned about climate change and want to see Canada and the world doing all we can to protect our climate and our planet for future generations. I am pleased that the new NAFTA has an enforceable environment chapter, which replaces a separate side agreement. This chapter upholds air quality and fights marine pollution in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Why do environmental protections belong in a trade agreement? It is about a level playing field and protecting the planet by protecting workers in all three countries. Commitments to high levels of environmental protections are an important part of trade agreements.
Perhaps no industry in Canada is more cross-border integrated than our auto industry. Canadian auto plants assemble more than two million vehicles every year. The automotive sector is Canada's largest export industry, supporting over 525,000 jobs and contributing $18 billion annually to our economy. Canada is a global leader in emerging automotive technologies, such as lightweight materials, advanced safety systems, software and cybersecurity and alternative power trains. Free trade is essential to our auto industry, and the new rules of origin in this trade agreement level the playing field for Canada's high-wage worker.
Our negotiators secured a side letter that is already in force. It is a gold-plated insurance policy against 232 possible tariffs on cars and car parts. Canada is the only G7 country with this protection.
This is a great deal for labour, and members' do not need to take my word for it. Jerry Dias of Unifor, one of Canada's largest unions, has said that this is a much better deal than the deal that was signed 24 years ago.
Hassan Yussuff, of the Canadian Labour Congress, said that this deal “gets it right on labour provisions, including provisions to protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of gender.”
It is not just labour. Business is on board as well.
The Business Council of Canada said, "We applaud your government’s success in negotiating a comprehensive and high-standard agreement on North American trade."
Saskatchewan Premier Moe called this trade deal good news for Saskatchewan and Canada. Premier Kenney of Alberta said he was relieved that a renewed NAFTA had been concluded.
The renewed NAFTA defends Canada's farmers, it offers new protection for our auto sector, it protects out culture and it sets out new labour standards for gender and minority rights and environmental protections.
Let us have a robust debate. Let us implement this trade agreement. Let us keep Canada's economy growing. This is a progressive trade agreement that will benefit our economy for years to come.
Madam Speaker, this is the first time that I rise to speak in this Parliament.
I would like to sincerely thank the constituents of Manicouagan for putting their trust in me and electing me for another term. I would also like to thank the team that supported me over the past months: my family, my spouse, my three children—Loïc, Charlotte and Ulysse—my friends, the people who work with me and those who wish to serve the North Shore with dignity, integrity and energy to advance the development of our region and Quebec. I will tackle all the challenges entrusted to me by the people of the North Shore and Quebeckers with humility and respect, as well as with conviction and determination.
Today we are debating a bill that could significantly affect the Quebec economy for the next decade or more. Bill will have major repercussions for Quebec, especially because of the large volume of Quebec exports to the United States.
We have been doing business with the Americans for over three centuries and, more often than not, our trade relationship has been beneficial to Quebec's economic development. In fact, almost 70% of our exports go to our neighbours to the south. New York state alone receives about 10% of all our world exports, as does the small state of Kentucky, which has a population of 4 million.
Given how important a free trade agreement is to Quebec's economic future, each member of the House has a duty to take the time to carefully examine all the details of the agreement and to ensure that all its victims have a forum to tell us about the harmful consequences that passing Bill C-4 will have on their industry.
It is only natural to want a “full, frank, and vigorous debate”, as the said. To think that we do not need serious, legitimate and therefore necessary discussions about the negative impacts of Bill C-4 on Quebec and its regions, on the stability of international trade, on unfair import practices and on the environment shows a lack of respect for Quebec voters and for workers in the dairy and aluminum industries.
I will focus on aluminum workers in particular, not just because there are two smelters in my riding, including the biggest smelter in America, but also because I can foresee the impact that the agreement will have on my constituents.
We are talking about aluminum because this economic sector is crucial for Quebec. The North Shore, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and Quebec need good jobs in order to prosper. However, in its current form, the agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico places no less than 60,000 aluminum sector jobs in jeopardy.
We will all agree that the government can hardly claim to be looking after Quebec's economic development if it accepts, without any serious negotiation, a free trade agreement that may seriously jeopardize six major projects in Quebec's aluminum sector representing $6.2 billion in investments, according to an impact study carried out by Groupe Performance Stratégique. The study estimates that these private investments could generate more than $16 billion in economic spinoffs from 2020 to 2029. That is $16 billion that Quebec would have to go without for the next 10 years.
It is important to understand that the only reason these investments in Quebec are in jeopardy is that the government failed to take Quebeckers' interests into consideration when it signed this agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Perhaps the government does not fully appreciate the importance of regional development and land use. Although the claims he secured guarantees that 70% of the aluminum parts used in automobile production in North America must be from North America, the fact remains that he did not bother to also ensure, as he did for steel, that the aluminum content in those parts would also come from North America. Worse still, he is playing games with the figures, which is just misleading.
The Prime Minister's carelessness and lack of faith in the intelligence of voters is leaving the door wide open for Mexican auto parts plants to import aluminum from China, even though Canadian and U.S. courts have determined that Chinese aluminum was being dumped.
As written, CUSMA makes it possible for Chinese aluminum to flood the North American market, even though Canada and the United States have anti-dumping duties in place. Chinese aluminum needs only to be processed in Mexico in order to circumvent the protections we have collectively put in place. In other words, we could wind up with car parts that are supposedly North American but in fact contain “made in China” aluminum.
For free trade to be truly free and profitable for everyone, we must make unfair trade practices such as dumping impossible.
Allowing car parts made with Chinese aluminum to be considered North American in origin is an insult to Quebec's expertise in the aluminum sector, especially since our aluminum is the greenest in the world. The Liberals seem to think that Chinese aluminum is Quebec aluminum. Just ask Quebeckers if they agree. It is absurd.
Primary aluminum produced in Quebec releases 67% less greenhouse gas than aluminum produced in the Middle East and 76% less than Chinese aluminum. Why would a government taking steps to close coal-fired power plants in Canada be so supportive of Chinese aluminum when 90% of the electricity used to produce it comes from coal? That makes no sense.
Providing aluminum the same protection as steel is not just an economic decision. It is a political one.
If the government had given any consideration at all to Quebec's interests, its economy, its regions and its workers, it would never have signed an agreement whose every concession is detrimental to Quebec. If the Prime Minister's team is really working for Quebeckers, it should fight for Quebec as vigorously as it fought for Ontario steel.
It is unacceptable to the Bloc Québécois that every single concession in the free trade agreement should be made at the expense of key sectors of Quebec's economy, and as such, even though it supports free trade, the Bloc Québécois cannot support Bill . The Bloc encourages hon. members to not blindly accept a bill that is deeply unfair to Quebeckers.
If Quebec had negotiated the agreement, it would have negotiated it in its own interest and never would have compromised the growth of key sectors of its economy.
We are talking about my riding and my constituents. Hon. members will agree that we cannot allow the government to sacrifice aluminum workers back home just to satisfy Ontario's economic interests. The Bloc Québécois is the only party that is truly standing up for the interests of Quebeckers, and I am one.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to Bill today in the House of Commons. The Canada-United States-Mexico trade deal is legislation we are all very proud of. I want to start by complimenting the on the tremendous work she has done and for the time, dedication and commitment to Canada in every line and chapter in the agreement.
This is the first occasion I have had since the election for me to thank the people of my riding for supporting me and electing me to the House of Commons to represent them in this mandate. I want to thank them for having confidence in me and for supporting the agenda we have worked on together for the people of Labrador. I certainly want to thank the many volunteers who worked on my campaign and all campaigns. As parliamentarians, we know how important it is to have the support of communities and individuals. Their work is so valuable in getting our messages out during the election.
As most members know, I come from a province that is hugely dependent on oil and gas development. We are very proud of the industry we have built. We know that energy within Canada in itself is an industry that has allowed our country to grow. It is a huge export commodity. It is one of the pieces dealt with throughout the trade agreement with the United States and Mexico.
I represent a riding that is not only one of the largest producers of hydro development power in Canada, but also through our partnerships with Hydro-Québec, we are able to see a lot of that export of power going into the United States as well. My riding is also the largest exporter of iron ore in Canada and one of the largest exporters of nickel. We know how important it is to have good trade agreements. We know how important it is to have strong allies and strong export markets. That translates into jobs at home and a stronger economy. It also helps so many families in many industrial sectors.
This is a remarkable time in Canada as we enter into this Canada-United States-Mexico agreement. I believe the outcomes in this agreement are good for all Canadians in every sector.
I want to talk about the energy sector because it is one of the sectors that is critically important to both the Canadian and North American economies. Our natural resources place Canada among the largest energy producers in the world. I am very happy to represent a riding and province that contribute in a major way to that energy production in the world market.
In 2018, Canada's energy sector directly employed more than 270,000 people. It indirectly supported over 550,000 jobs, which is quite substantial in terms of the employment generated through this particular sector. Including indirect activities, the sector accounts for 11% of the nominal gross domestic product of the country. Therefore, it was important that a key objective in the negotiations was to address the needs of the sector. This had to be a priority.
Provisions that govern trade in energy goods in Canada, as well as in other regions, are found throughout all of the agreement. It is not just in one particular chapter. It is spoken to in various places throughout the agreement.
It speaks to a number of things. One is national treatment and the other is market access, which we have heard a lot about with many other resource sectors. It speaks to the rules of origin for the energy sector, customs and trade facilitation, as well as cross-border trade in both services and investment.
Commitments from the original NAFTA agreement were brought forward to ensure that exports of Canadian energy products would continue to benefit from duty-free treatment in both the United States and Mexico, which was critical to the industry. Likewise, imports of energy products into Canada will continue to be duty free as well, ensuring that importers have access to these products without the extra cost of tariffs. We know how critical that is to the survival and stability of those investors and those resource sectors.
I am not going to expand upon each of those sectors, but I want to expand on the rules of origin, because the CUSMA addresses a long-standing request that had been there from Canadian industry. That was to resolve a very technical issue that was related to the use of diluent, a petroleum-based liquid that is often added to crude oil to ensure that it flows properly through pipelines. The issue had previously added upwards of $60 million a year in duties and other fees to our exporters in Canada, which was a burden. It was felt to be unnecessary, and they lobbied for a long time to have that removed because it was a huge cost to Canadian businesses. Under the new agreement, that particular issue around the rules of origin was dealt with, allowing the energy sector in Canada to gain financially from that change.
In addition to the provisions that govern energy that are found across the agreement, both Canada and the United States also agreed to a bilateral side letter on energy co-operation and transparency. I mention that because the United States, as we have all said and recognized many times, is Canada's most important trading partner when it comes to energy, as it is for many other resource sectors. The U.S. also accounted for 89% of our total energy exports in 2018. That is 89% of our total exports.
Due to the importance and integrated nature of this relationship, the CUSMA includes new provisions on energy regulatory measures and regulatory transparency that are tailored directly to trading needs between Canada and the United States. The side letter that was signed committed to provisions that would help Canadian stakeholders with more assurances and transparency with respect to the authorization process and allow them to participate in the energy sector in the United States.
Both parties have agreed to publish this information now. They have agreed to an application process, have agreed on monetary payments and have agreed on timelines. All of this is providing for stability and certainty in the industry. It is giving investors the opportunity to make important deals in full knowledge of the scope and lay of the land and without being exposed to unexpected changes. This in itself was key for the industry, and it is one of the pieces that they have been very pleased to see negotiated directly between Canada and the United States.
I know I am running out of time and that we have to conclude, but I am happy to resume this debate and talk more about the energy sector and the export sector under this agreement at another time.
Madam Speaker, I want to start my remarks today by asserting my strong support for the principles of free trade. The original NAFTA, brought in by a Conservative government, led generations of economic growth between our three countries. This agreement is important, and I support it in principle. However, due to Liberal mismanagement, this deal is not what it could have been. It is fraught with shortcomings that will put many sectors of the Canadian economy at risk, but investment in our country depends on certainty, and this deal provides more certainty than we have now.
Under the current Liberal government, business investment has stalled and been driven south due to aggressive American tax cuts. Canada needs to compete, and it is clear that the government has no interest in competing on taxes after repeatedly raising them. Our economy depends on the certainty that comes with a trade deal. This deal, like all deals, is not perfect, and if the Liberals do think that the Conservatives are simply going to rubber-stamp it, they are sorely mistaken.
Many of my colleagues have been highlighting the deficiencies in this agreement, but I want to look at one that has not been talked about as much but is crucial for the future of Canadian creativity and economic growth: copyright protection. Much of the last year on the industry committee we studied Canada's copyright framework, and what changes could be made to improve it. We tabled that report, and I am very proud of all the hard work that went into it. I hope the government accepts almost all the recommendations. One thing we did not recommend was to extend Canada's general copyright term from the life of the author plus 50 years to life plus 70 years. Canada's copyright term is compliant with the Berne Convention and has served us well. It is my opinion that the exclusive rights to a work being held for 50 years after an author's death is entirely appropriate and sufficient. Extending that term is not.
During the copyright study, we heard from many viewpoints about extending copyright term. Many were in favour and many were opposed. At the same time, we knew that the text of the USMCA required Canada to adopt the longer American copyright term. This was not a surprise, as that was contained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership prior to the U.S. pulling out from that deal. I thus expected the text of the USMCA- or CUSMA-enabling legislation we are debating today to contain the extension of the general copyright term. Much to my shock and relief, no such extension is in this bill. There are aspects that extend term in some areas such as sound recording and cinematographic works. There is no general extension to life plus 70.
I do not think that this battle is over, as the transitional period means term extension will likely be in the eventual Copyright Act reform that comes from the committee report, but for now the term will be maintained. I hope the government reads the report from the industry committee and seeks to mitigate the damage to Canadian copyright law that comes from the USMCA.
Why is extending the term not the right move? It is because if Canada extends our general term by 20 years, that will create a 20-year black hole in which no works will enter the public domain. For two decades, no work will become open for Canadians to access it in any format they wish without the permission of the rights holder. This will cast a chill on a large amount of innovation and creativity in our country.
The purpose of copyright was to make sure that creators of a work could enjoy the benefits of their hard work and creativity without someone else stealing it. Protecting that work for the creator's entire life, and for 50 additional years so that their descendants could profit off the work, is a good idea. When we are talking about adding 20 more years, we start to blur the purpose of copyright.
No artist is deciding not to create art because only three generations of their descendants, instead of four, may hold the rights to that art. To suggest otherwise is an absurd proposition. Artists create because they love what they do and want to put their art into the world. The only reason to further extend copyright is to ensure rights holders, often large corporations, can continue to profit off that intellectual property for decades.
In the past, I have been tempted to call the government a Mickey Mouse operation, but that would not be fair. Mickey Mouse runs a hyper-efficient and effective operation when it comes to expanding copyright protections. “Efficient and effective” are words that I would never use to describe the government.
Any time the copyright on early Disney cartoons is due to lapse, the U.S. Congress just extends them. It happened in 1976, the year I was born. It happened again in 1998 and will probably happen again in a few years.
Extending the copyright term is not about protecting artists. It is about protecting large companies that own the rights for decades after the artist's death. To see the impact large corporations can have, utilizing intellectual property law, we only need to look to my riding in the Okanagan Valley.
A small, family-run coffee shop that has operated for five years now has to change its name because of a lawsuit from a multibillion dollar company. I believe it could win if the shop fought it, but it literally cannot compete with such a giant corporation, as it would be far too expensive for this family. That is the risk in further expanding intellectual property powers for rights holders. They can use them to bludgeon small business and independent creators.
Respected Canadian copyright expert Jeremy de Beer, who presented to the Copyright Act review, stated that the trade agreement's intellectual property chapter was “an American win”. Thankfully, despite Liberal mismanagement of the negotiations, Canada was able to salvage the notice and notice regime and avoid implementing an American-style enforcement mechanism, which should not happen.
Over the coming months and years, we will have to work as a body to try to mitigate the damage from the intellectual property chapter in this agreement to which the Liberals agreed. I can only hope we ensure that Canadian and international content remains open and accessible and that innovation and creativity does not suffer serious hardship.
Canadian copyright law has managed to be distinct from, and I believe in many respects superior to, American law. Unfortunately, with this agreement, that will no longer be the case. This deal contains a forced alignment of our framework to the American one, and the Canadian consumers and creators will be worse off because of it.
Another topic I want to speak about today is one that is incredibly important to my riding, softwood lumber. Earlier this year, we watched over 200 jobs disappear in Kelowna, British Columbia as the decades-old Tolko lumber mill closed. This also hits independent logging contractors and all their suppliers and third-party business owners, and those are small businesses. Yet, there was not a word from the Liberal government about softwood lumber. There was not a word in the mandate letter to the in 2015 nor again in this mandate.
When the recently had a conference call with B.C. Premier John Horgan, guess what subject never came up? Softwood lumber. Why is that? Why is the Liberal government constantly silent on softwood? Let us not forget that with a lack of a deal, we now see Canadian lumber companies setting up shop and investing in the United States. That is jobs and opportunities lost while the Liberal government looks the other way. That is why free trade is important.
If we are not competitive and we get it wrong, it is our trading partners who will benefit at our expense. That is why this deal is flawed. That is why, despite its obvious shortcomings on copyright, on softwood lumber, I will support the bill moving to committee.
Madam Speaker, our country came together and negotiated hard. With representation at the political level, the civil service level and from many different stakeholders, we achieved a modernization of the free trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
By doing that, we have secured the future for literally hundreds of thousands of jobs here in Canada. We have provided a more secure market for the future economy and economic growth of our country. We need to realize that over $2 billion of trade takes place between the United States and Canada every day.
This is an important agreement. What I am saying should not surprise anyone in the chamber because we can see the support it is getting in all regions of our country, in all the different sectors.
Unions, businesses, non-profits and governments of different levels have recognized the significance of the modernization that we have achieved. We have an incredible group of individuals who sat through the negotiations. We have a and a who were committed to get the job done.
We have built a large base of support among individuals and groups to ensure that Canadians' interests were first and foremost at the table and protected.
A good example of that is supply management. There has been an immense amount of pressure. Whether in this trade agreement or previous trade agreements signed by this government, from dealing with the European Union to the trans-Pacific partnership, protecting Canada's agricultural community, in particular our dairy farmers and other producers, through supply management is something we have been very clear on.
In certain situations there will be some compensation, but let there be no doubt that whether it is supply management or industries that are so vitally important to the many different regions of our country, they have been protected.
The other day when we had the vote on the ways and means budget, I was pleasantly surprised. When the vote was counted, we had Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and Green Party MPs standing in favour of this agreement. I recognize that as a very significant achievement. One would have to go a long way back to have that group of political entities voting in favour of a trade pact, if it has ever happened before.
It is a significant achievement. To my friends in the Bloc, I would encourage them. They have raised many concerns, in particular for the aluminum industry. They will see, at second reading, that it is an industry that is protected a lot more than in the original trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico. For the very first time, there are guarantees in place.
If we look at some of those advocates for passage of the legislation, we will see that it includes the premier of the province of Quebec, and not only that particular premier but virtually all premiers. I know other premiers, such as Jason Kenney, who have also been quoted in regard to this agreement and the need to see it passed.
As a government there is a reason why we have been so successful at getting well over a million new jobs created in the last four-plus years. We understand how important it is to get public policy right and how it can have the type of desired impact that Canadians want to see.
We see that in the form of tax breaks. We see it in the form of progressive social policies such as the Canada child benefit, the seniors policies and the infrastructure policies.
I would argue that our commitment to expand world trade has been second to none, especially on a per capita basis. Canada is excelling. These are the types of initiatives that are making a difference in the everyday lives of Canadians, no matter where they live in Canada. These are the types of things that help in increasing disposable income, driving our economy and providing more hope for future generations.
When I look at this particular trade agreement, I often think of John Crosbie, who made the comment that he had not really read the deal when we had the original trade agreement with the United States. I have faith and confidence in our negotiations. I have been following the news, much like the other members in opposition and I have had the opportunity to have a great deal of dialogue with stakeholders and others. I am absolutely confident that this is a good deal, and I look forward to continuing my speech on Monday.