The House resumed from January 31 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I thought I would just emphasize the importance of the legislation that we are debating today. One of the ways to look at the trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico is as a modernization of the free trade agreement. This is something that is really good for workers, businesses and communities across our country.
We need to recognize that Canada is very much dependent on trade. Through trade we are able to continue to support and often lift our middle class. That is something which this government has been very much focused on since taking office back in 2015. We realize that building on Canada's middle class and supporting the middle class is good for Canada's economy. Both areas will benefit.
We have seen that through different approaches dealing with public policy. One of those policy measures is the idea of expanding the economy by securing markets through free trade agreements. I would suggest to members on all sides of this House that our government has been very progressive in moving forward and taking specific actions on free trade agreements.
In fact, in looking at the agreement with the European Union with, I believe it is 28 countries, along with the Trans-Pacific Partnership and some of the other smaller agreements, such as the trade agreement with Ukraine, the World Trade Organization, and legislation brought forward by this government a few years back, we will see that the government has really recognized the importance of trade. That was reinforced over the weekend for me in the city of Winnipeg where New Flyer recently entered into an agreement to sell and export a number of electric buses to the United States. I believe it is a total of 100 buses, although I could be wrong.
In terms of the actual numbers, the point is that many companies all over Canada very much need those export markets. When it comes to the United States, we are talking about billions of dollars, about $9 billion every day of commerce between our two countries. We have a very strong desire to ensure that we secure those markets. The best way of doing that is to have these trade agreements in place.
What is really nice about this particular agreement is that Canadians, different stakeholders, organizations, non-profits, governments and political parties of all stripes have really been engaged over the last two and half years to ultimately achieve the final product, which is what we are debating today.
I listened very closely to the debate and the concerns that members across the way have expressed, but I think the overall agreement that we have before us is the best agreement that we could have delivered for Canadians. I recognize that opposition parties will always want to believe that they could have done better. I respect that. However, at the end of the day, I believe that what we are presenting through this legislation is the best agreement for Canada and that all Canadians in all regions will benefit directly as a result of it. It was really encouraging to see the Conservatives, the Greens and the New Democrats support the ways and means motion with respect to this legislation.
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to the new NAFTA, the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement.
New Democrats recognize that the United States is Canada's most significant trading partner, and that the trade enabled by the agreement we are debating today is critical to Canada's economic success. Since the signing of the original free trade agreement, Canadian exports to the United States increased from $110 billion in 1993 to $349 billion in 2014. However, it is vital that the wealth generated through trade creates good jobs for working people in Canada and not simply for the interests of the wealthiest few.
When the initial agreement was signed back in November 2018, the NDP raised serious concerns about how the new trade deal addressed workers' rights and environmental regulations. Disappointingly, it was left to the Democrats in the U.S. rather than the Liberal government to stand up to the Trump administration and fight for these important changes.
I would like to use my time today to address three broad areas of concern. First, I will highlight two industries in my riding of Skeena—Bulkley Valley that I believe should have done better by the deal the government signed. Second, I will address the failure of this deal to engage indigenous people and to uphold their rights. Third, I will speak on our thoughts about the closed-door process by which our government negotiates deals such as this one.
While we have seen some sectors thrive and bring jobs and opportunities to northern British Columbia, we have also seen some industries struggle. We have heard a fair bit in the House already with regard to how this agreement would affect Canada's aluminum industry.
Canada's aluminum industry is the fifth largest in the world with an annual production of 2.9 million tonnes of primary aluminum. All of this is produced with a lower carbon footprint than other international producers.
The only aluminum smelter in western Canada is located in my riding in northern British Columbia. Rio Tinto's Kitimat smelter employs more than 1,000 workers in the town of Kitimat and contributes over $500 million annually to British Columbia's economy. As anyone who knows Kitimat will say, it is hard to overstate the importance of the smelter to this community. Indeed, it was the primary reason for the founding and construction of the community in the 1950s. However, for over a year, illegal steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the U.S. left workers in Kitimat anxious about their community's future. While people in my riding were left wondering whether they would continue to have work, the government went ahead and signed the new NAFTA deal with those tariffs still in place.
The cost of the government's inaction on aluminum has been high. It has been estimated that across the country over 1,000 jobs have been lost. While the government is celebrating the lifting of these tariffs, I am still hearing concerns from aluminum workers in my riding.
The U.S. has made it clear that it would be willing to reinstate tariffs at any time, and all it would take is for President Trump to decide that there has been a surge in aluminum imports for these tariffs to return. Unfortunately, we do not have a definition in this agreement for what would constitute a surge in imports, which means continued uncertainty for workers in my riding regardless of whether this agreement is ratified.
I have also heard concern with how the amended agreement deals with rules of origin in the automotive sector, a topic we have heard about in the House over the past few days. While the agreement requires that 70% of steel and aluminum used in the manufacture of automobiles be from North America, no one seems to have bothered to ask what percentage the industry currently uses. Without that information, how can Canadians determine if this threshold will stimulate our industry or simply be a backstop?
Furthermore, the requirement that 70% of aluminum be North American is undermined again by the lack of a definition for what is meant by “North American”. For steel, the agreement sets out a specific definition, which reads, “for steel to be considered as originating under this Article, all steel manufacturing processes must occur in one or more of the Parties, except for metallurgical processes involving the refinement of steel additives....”
Such processes include the initial melting and mixing and continues through the coating stage, yet for aluminum, no such definition exists. This calls into question whether Mexican auto parts manufacturers could import cheap aluminum ingots from China without running afoul of the 70% rule. If this is indeed possible, it begs the question as to what the value is of having the 70% provision included in the agreement at all.
It appears that weaker aluminum provisions were the cost of getting this agreement signed, a concession that poses a real risk to the economy of the region I represent. Should this deal be ratified, workers in my riding deserve to hear more from the government about how it plans to protect aluminum workers and increase the market for Canadian aluminum.
A second area of concern I have heard about from people in my riding is softwood lumber. In Skeena—Bulkley Valley, as many as 3,500 people are employed in the forestry sector. However, for many communities, falling lumber prices have led to tough times. We have seen layoffs, curtailments and mill closures across northern B.C. At such a tough time, what we needed was a government in Ottawa on the side of forestry workers, but that has just not been the case.
While it is vital and positive that the NAFTA dispute mechanism has remained in the new trade agreement so that Canada can continue to argue for independent arbitration when the U.S. seeks to impose tariffs on Canadian softwood, we see very little in this agreement for the forestry sector. Since the previous softwood agreement expired in October 2015, we have desperately needed a new agreement to give forestry workers certainty that their product will still have access to the U.S. market. Instead, we have seen the Trump administration imposing softwood tariffs.
It would seem that during all those trips to Washington, getting a fair deal in the softwood lumber dispute was never on the table, but we will never know because of the opaque process by which this agreement has been negotiated. I would have thought that while we were opening up trade negotiations with the U.S., getting a stable resolution on softwood would be at the top of the agenda.
Another real concern with this new agreement is indigenous rights. In 2017, the Liberal government promised it would negotiate an entire chapter in this agreement to promote indigenous rights, but again we are left disappointed with what the government has delivered. It is so disheartening, as we work toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples across North America, that this agreement makes no mention of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We see again that the government has put the interests of big corporations ahead of indigenous peoples, who are seeking justice and respect on their own lands.
Finally, I would like to address the process by which this agreement was negotiated.
Throughout the negotiations, we heard from the Liberals that this was the best deal possible, but then the Democrats in the United States were able to deliver the important changes that the Liberals told Canadians were just not possible. Now we are hearing more concerns from some sectors, and again it is difficult for Canadians to have their voices heard. For people in northwest British Columbia, it feels like the government is just not listening.
People are rightly concerned that such an important agreement for Canada's economy would be adopted without a thorough examination. Why is it that Canadians know more about the negotiation strategy and objectives of our trading partner than they do of their own government?
Going forward, we need to see a real commitment to changing how Canada negotiates international trade agreements. Too often we see deals made behind closed doors, with everyday Canadians having little input. We need a commitment to increase transparency and a government that gives voice to working people most affected by trade agreements, not just to corporate lobbyists that stand to profit most from the outcome.
That is why the New Democrats support a thorough study of this deal along with the creation of a transparent trade process that holds our government more accountable and allows Parliament to play a more meaningful role than that of a simple rubber stamp. We owe it to Canadians.
Madam Speaker, I rise today not only as the member of Parliament for Humber River—Black Creek but also as the chair of the Standing Committee on International Trade to speak in favour of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement and to encourage my hon. colleagues to support the legislation.
I would like to recognize my committee colleagues from all parties for their dedication to their constituents and their country. I look forward to working with them as we go through the parliamentary process. All members have made it clear to me that their sincerest intent is to collaborate, co-operate and come together as a committee to make sure we do the job we were elected to do and do it right.
For over year, Canada negotiated hard for a modernized free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico. During this time, government officials consulted with over 47,000 Canadians and over 1,000 stakeholders from all areas of Canada's economy to ensure that the deal we struck represented the best interests of Canadian workers and businesses from coast to coast to coast. Our foremost concern throughout the negotiation was always Canadian workers and their families: protecting workers' jobs, their families and the planet and ensuring that the deal would grow our economy.
In these respects, the deal we have struck is a winner. The new NAFTA safeguards the over $2 billion of daily cross-border trade, ensures tariff-free access to our largest trading partner and protects Canadian jobs. I have been encouraged by the spirited debate in the House by my hon. colleagues and their commitment and interest. I know that every member shares the same commitment to protecting Canadian workers and maintaining economic growth. In these especially turbulent times for global political discourse, I would like to thank my colleagues for restraining the partnership on all levels, wherever possible, and maintaining the respect and decency that this chamber commands. I hope that will continue.
We must keep in mind that negotiating transformational trade deals like the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement is always tense and difficult. I remind colleagues of the attitudes that existed when NAFTA was being negotiated. Canadians were worried about the impact of NAFTA on not only the Canadian economy but also our national identity. Not only have we found those fears unrealized, and we are very grateful for that, but we now know that NAFTA is one of the pillars of our relationship with the United States and Mexico and one of the cruxes of our economic strength. It is my sincere belief, notwithstanding the occasionally adversarial nature of the debate on this agreement, that we will look back on this deal years from now with the same lens through which we viewed the original NAFTA: a good deal that has contributed a significant amount to Canadian economic prosperity.
From coast to coast to coast, from agriculture to aluminum, to automobiles, every sector of the Canadian economy will stand to gain from this agreement. On the farm, we have successfully defended our supply management system for dairy, poultry and eggs, despite attempts to completely dismantle it. We have gained new market access for refined sugar and margarine and protected billions of dollars in agricultural and agri-food trade. I am well aware of this, as the former minister of agriculture spoke about those issues a lot in the House.
In the factory, we have a gold-plated insurance policy against a possible 232 tariffs on cars and car parts. I would be remiss if I did not remind my hon. colleagues that we are the only G7 country that has been afforded that protection.
We have strengthened labour protections that have been praised by union workers. Jerry Dias of Unifor has endorsed the deal, noting that it is a better deal than the one signed in 1994. We ensured enforceable labour obligations were included in the new deal to protect workers from discrimination in the workplace, in particular on the basis of gender. The improvements made on labour rights for Mexican workers will help level the playing field for Canadian workers, especially in our automotive industry.
In my riding of Humber River—Black Creek, companies such as Etobicoke Ironworks were feeling the pressure of the tariffs imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum. These tariffs were affecting their competitiveness not only abroad but also domestically. I had the distinct pleasure of touring its facilities last year and saw first-hand the important work that it does and how damaging these tariffs were on its competitiveness and ability to plan for the future.
With this new agreement, with the certainty that its products are protected, Etobicoke Ironworks can continue to innovate, expand its operational capacity and provide Canada, the United States and Mexico with high-quality Canadian steel and aluminum.
However, it is not just in the critical sectors of steel and aluminum that we have ensured the protection of Canadian workers and taxpayers. The investor-state dispute resolution, which was a provision of the original NAFTA, was a dispute resolution system that allowed companies to sue the Canadian government. This system cost Canadian taxpayers over $300 million in penalties and legal fees. It elevated the rights of corporations over those of sovereign governments. It is now gone. With the removal of the ISDR, our government's right to regulate in the public interest, especially with respect to the protection of public health and the environment, has been significantly strengthened.
Our climate is changing. For too long, we have known this and not taken the requisite action. The election and re-election of this government is no doubt due in part to our commitment to protecting the environment. On that note, perhaps some of the most important wins in the new NAFTA deal can be found in the environmental protections that have been included in this agreement.
In replacing the separate side agreement regarding the environment, the new NAFTA has a dedicated chapter on the protection of the environment. We now have far more robust and enforceable standards for air and marine pollution.
This is a good deal for auto workers, through the lifting of harmful tariffs; for dairy farmers through the protection of supply management; for indigenous people through the protection of their culture and land; and for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We have heard from all Canadians of all political stripes who echo their support for this deal, from Premier Moe of Saskatchewan to Premier Kenney of Alberta and Premier Legault of Quebec. There is consensus among political leaders in the country that this is a good deal.
We have also heard from important stakeholders such as the Canadian Labour Congress, the Business Council of Canada and the Canadian Steel Producers Association, which all speak in favour of rapid ratification of this agreement.
Arrival at the agreement would have been impossible without so many people rowing in the same direction. As many others have rightly said, this was a pan-Canadian effort, and I am optimistic that we will see more of this spirit of Canadian co-operation over the course of this Parliament.
I look forward to hearing from my colleagues.
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to continue debate on Bill , which would implement the new NAFTA between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Since this is my first opportunity to address the House at some length in this Parliament, I would like to very briefly thank the good people of Perth—Wellington for giving me the honour of serving a second term as their representative here in Ottawa. While I have a great fondness for the 105,000 constituents in Perth—Wellington, I want to thank four constituents in particular: my wonderful wife Justine and our three kids Ainsley, Bennett and Caroline. They have been my biggest supporters, my greatest fans and my rock of support over these past four years and into the current Parliament as well.
The Conservative Party's record on trade is clear. In the previous Conservative government, our government negotiated trade deals with over 40 different countries. We recognize the importance of trade on a global scale, and at a personal level, in my great riding of Perth—Wellington, we recognize the importance of trade for our local agriculture industry and also for the manufacturing industry there, so the concerns of this new trade deal are there as well.
The Liberals appear to not be entirely aware that they are now operating in a minority Parliament, that the basis for their support is not limited only to their party and that they need and require the support of opposition parties to negotiate and to pass these types of trade deals. Therefore, relying on us as the official opposition to blindly rubber-stamp any piece of legislation, but in particular a piece of legislation like this, would be foolhardy. We will not idly vote simply to ratify a deal without certain provisions and certain information being provided to us as the official opposition.
That said, we do recognize the stability that is provided by a continental trade deal such as the new NAFTA. In Perth—Wellington, we are landlocked. We do not share a border with our friends south of the border, but the industries in Perth—Wellington are global in nature. They are reliant on trade deals to export their products all over the world.
After all, Perth County is number one for pork producers in Ontario. Wellington County is right behind it at number three. Perth County and Wellington County have over 100,000 cattle, placing them in the top five for cattle production. Perth—Wellington has, literally, some of the most fertile farmland in the world. Prices for farmland are as high as $25,000 an acre. If we believe the gossip at the coffee shop, the price is approaching $30,000 per acre because of the great nature of the farmland in Perth—Wellington.
Chicken production in Perth and Wellington counties accounts for nearly one-quarter of all chicken production in Ontario. Zones 6 and zone 7 for the egg farmers of Ontario have over 800,000 and over 1.7 million laying hens respectively. Of course, the dairy industry in Perth—Wellington is massive. There are more dairy farmers in Perth—Wellington than in any other electoral district in this country, so when we talk about trade deals and we talk about agriculture, Perth—Wellington is truly at the heart of these discussions on a global scale.
However, it is not just agriculture. It is auto parts manufacturing as well. We have many auto parts facilities in our riding in the city of Stratford, but auto parts facilities across the riding in Palmerston, Arthur, Listowel and St. Marys also provide inputs to the auto parts industry, so it is important that we provide the stability of this trade deal.
At the same time, this trade deal saw concessions. Typically in any negotiation, when we make concessions, we receive something in return. We saw concession after concession after concession, but all we got in return was maintaining the status quo. There was not any new market access. There were not any new opportunities for farmers and farm families and auto parts manufacturers in Perth—Wellington to expand on the global scale. What we saw were concessions, including 3.6% in the dairy industry and the elimination of milk classes 6 and 7. What we saw were potential limits on future exports in the dairy industry, all against the backdrop of $619 million worth of dairy imports already coming into Canada from the United States.
We saw an agreement that will see 10 million dozen more eggs coming into Canada. We saw 57 metric tons more of products from the chicken industry that will flow into Canada, which is nearly double that negotiated under the trans-Pacific partnership.
On the issue of sovereignty, we saw a trade agreement in which we need permission from another country, the United States, to explore trade deals with non-market countries. This is a concern for people across Canada and people in Perth—Wellington.
Despite all these concessions, despite all these opportunities where we gave, what did we see in return? We did not see a softwood lumber agreement, which has been called for since the beginning of the previous Parliament to help the forestry sector. We saw that the “buy American” provisions have remained. While Mexico was able to negotiate a specific chapter on “buy American”, Canada did not.
We also saw concerns raised around the aluminum industry. My colleague, the hon. member for , has been a strong voice on this, not only for his constituents but for the aluminum industry as a whole. He has proposed meaningful solutions to help address these concerns. He is truly a champion for the people of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, but also for the aluminum industry as a whole.
Trade is important, particularly with the Canada-United States relationship. Estimates from places like the Canadian Chamber of Commerce have indicated that two-way trade is as high as $627.8 billion on an annual basis. That is approximately $320 billion of exports from Canada, and about $307 billion of imports back into Canada.
This is important for industry, but it goes back to our minority Parliament context and the information that is important and needed by all parties, but in particular the opposition parties to implement this trade agreement.
On December 12, members of the official opposition met with staff and members of Parliament for the government. They requested very specific information about the economic impact that this trade deal would have on specific sectors. Here we are on February 3, and that information is still outstanding.
In fact, on January 28, this question was asked in question period and the responsible said that the chief economist from Global Affairs Canada was working on the economic impact and was working on getting that information. However, here we are, still without that information, still being asked to ratify this trade deal despite not having all the information that is needed to ratify it.
We, as the official opposition, have a duty to analyze any piece of legislation that comes before the House, but in particular one that has such a lasting and broad impact on our economy, across every province and every territory, including my riding of Perth—Wellington. For us to do that meaningfully, we need the information that is required.
We need the government to provide us with the economic impact assessments that would tell us the impact this would have on the dairy industry, on supply-managed commodities, on the aluminum industry and on the auto parts industry, in our ridings and across the country.
I am proud to put our record of negotiation up against any. However, we cannot simply idly stand by and ratify an agreement until this information is available to parliamentarians. I look forward to continued debate on this matter. I look forward to the key sector and stakeholder groups appearing before committee and telling us how they see the economy and our country being impacted by this trade deal. We have not gotten the information, as of yet, from the government.
Madam Speaker, I am delighted to speak this morning in support of the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, Bill .
I want to start by acknowledging that we are gathered here on the traditional lands of the Algonquin peoples.
Let me take this opportunity to thank our and her outstanding team for their efforts in securing this deal for Canada. There were many moments of angst, but our minister was diligent and focused on getting not just any deal, but the best deal for all Canadians.
The new CUSMA is a big win for Canadian businesses, Canadian jobs and Canada as a whole. The agreement solidifies our government's resolve to expand trade around the world through agreements such as CETA, CPTPP and a renewed NAFTA. It will help our middle class grow and allow more jobs to be created right here in Canada. The agreement has wins for all parts of the country and in many sectors.
Trade is more important today than at any other time. Access to other markets, free of tariffs, allows us to compete around the world. It also gives our businesses certainty and predictability.
The agreement allows over 500 million people in North America to trade freely, move freely and build an area of trade that is unprecedented in the world. Last Friday, we saw our good friends in the United Kingdom exit the European Union after 47 years. We know that many parts of the world are contracting, in terms of trade. This is an opportunity for Canada and North America to shine as we solidify and reaffirm our interconnectedness, the people-to-people ties and the enormous economic benefits we have seen over the last 24 years through NAFTA.
This bill is about NAFTA and advances it in many significant ways. I want to outline a few key points in the agreement.
First, there is a lot of conversation on agriculture and the very important issue of supply management. This was central to our negotiations in this agreement. As we can see, supply management is secured in this agreement. It allows our farmers to benefit from existing policies. Of course, it opens up a bit of market share to others, but fundamentally for all farmers it secures the supply management system that we have.
It is important because, in 2017, Canada-U.S. bilateral agricultural trade was $63 billion and Canada-Mexico bilateral agricultural trade was $4.6 billion. Together, that represents close to $70 billion in trade. This allows our farmers to be secure in the work they do. Of course we will compensate those who are affected, with cheques going to them as early as this month.
The auto sector is very important to our economy. It affects us across the country, but particularly in Ontario and Scarborough, where we have a lot of auto workers and auto-related jobs.
Over the last 25 years, we have lost many jobs. I grew up in a place called the golden mile, which is within walking distance of my apartment. In the golden mile area, we had Ford, GM and many auto manufacturers and suppliers. Over the years, we saw many of those jobs move.
What is critical is there is still a very strong auto industry in Canada. We see the pressures in Europe. We see Germany, France and the United Kingdom struggling to maintain a strong auto industry. I believe this agreement will ensure that the Canadian auto industry remains strong and vibrant, and will ensure high-paying jobs for Canadians going forward.
As members know, on November 30 our government signed a side agreement that essentially ensures us against possible 232 tariffs on cars and car parts. This is critical for the protection of auto jobs. Canada is, in fact, the only G7 country to have such a protection, and it really does allow us to advance the auto industry.
I will speak briefly on the cultural exemption that was negotiated in this agreement.
Previously, I was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of Canadian Heritage, and in that role I met with many stakeholders in the cultural sector. There are over 650,000 quality jobs for the middle class as a result of our cultural industries, with 75,000 just in Quebec, and it is a $53.8-billion industry.
This is an important part of our economy and an important part of who we are as a people. The cultural exemption provisions allow our cultural industries to continue without diluting their ability to create content. It is such an important part of this agreement.
There was a great deal of skepticism when the minister and our government spoke about protection for the environment, gender equality and labour. There was a great deal of criticism from others saying that this is a trade agreement and we should not bring issues that may appear to be ancillary to trade into these discussions. I am very proud to say that we did not give in to that.
We knew, and we know, that we can have good trade and good social policies at the same time, and we can advance many important values that Canada espouses through these trade agreements. This particular agreement is an example of how we were able to do that.
On the environment, for the first time we are ensuring that we are upholding air quality in flights and addressing marine pollution. We believe that commitments to high levels of environmental protection are an important part of not just this trade agreement but all trade agreements. They protect our workers and they protect our planet.
On gender equality, we worked hard to achieve a good deal that benefits everyone, but particularly to ensure that provisions that protect women's, minority and indigenous rights and environmental protections are the strongest in any of the agreements that we currently have. We also included protection for labour to ensure that there are minimum standards across our three countries.
I believe this is why, for a variety of reasons, we have Canadians from many different backgrounds supporting this agreement. For example, Premier Moe of Saskatchewan has said that a signed USMCA trade deal is good news for Saskatchewan and for Canada. Also, Hassan Yussuff, the president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said, “The USMCA gets it right on labour provisions, including provisions to protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of gender.”
I will conclude by saying that this is a very important step in protecting our economy, creating middle-class jobs, ensuring our businesses are able to compete and ensuring that Canadians have secured access to this market of 500 million. It is an important step forward in advancing our economy.
I look forward to all parties coming together to support this agreement. No agreement is perfect, but there are sufficient benefits here for many sectors and across the country that warrant the support of all parties.
Madam Speaker, this is a broad and heavy topic, so today, I will just keep to the country of origin rule. I will give a brief history to explain where that comes from, why it is important and how this agreement threatens Quebec's aluminum industry.
First, modern agreements originated with the European Economic Community, which was established under the Treaty of Rome in 1957. At the time, the parties concerned created a customs union where goods could move within their countries tariff-free.
The six countries could move goods and services without any trade barriers. However, when they negotiated with other countries, a single negotiator spoke on their behalf. At the time, this decision was made to ensure they could better compete with the Americans under GATT, for example. This was not complicated for them. I will give an example that is easy to follow. Under that agreement, if a Japanese car wanted to enter any of the six countries, the same tariffs would apply for all six. There was no advantage for the car to enter one country first and then be sent to another. At the time, that was how things were done.
The Canada-U.S. agreement signed and implemented in 1989 is a bit different. Canada and the United States decided to merge their markets to remove any trade barriers between the two countries. Tariffs could not be imposed on products being exported from Quebec or Canada to the United States.
Take the example of the Japanese car to be exported to the United States. The Americans had the right to independently decide that products from Japan would not be imported to the U.S. In a free trade zone, the Japanese car could enter Canada and then get a free pass to go to the United States. Obviously, that was disrespectful and inconsistent with the intentions of those who had signed the agreement.
To protect themselves from that, the Americans and Canadians told the Japanese, among others, that if they wanted to take advantage of this customs free zone between the countries, they would have to manufacture the car in Canada and then export it unencumbered to the United States. For a car to be able to go to the United States, the country of origin rule stated that at least 50% of the car needed to be manufactured within Canada's borders.
When Mexico joined the agreement in 1994, this percentage rose to 62.5%. Today, this is a free trade zone where three countries have some sovereignty over what can happen in other countries. Two out of the three countries produce aluminum, namely Canada and the United States. Mexico does not produce any. There is one foreign producer, which is China. In five years, China has increased its production by 48%. It produces four times as much aluminum as the second-largest producer in the world. This is a hefty competitor. It produces 15 times as much aluminum as we do. It is well known that China is dumping products.
Dumping refers to the practice of producing goods that are then sold at a loss. There are several reasons why China would do this, but one of the main reasons is that it can eliminate competition in a country and take over the entire market. It can then increase rates and its profit margins.
That is the game played by countries that engage in dumping. Canada and the United States, both aluminum producers, passed anti-dumping legislation, since they have the right to protect their own markets. China's solution was to go through Mexico. Mexico does not produce aluminum and has no need for an anti-dumping law to protect its market. In two months, between May and July 2019, the Chinese increased their aluminum exports to Mexico by 240%. No, they are not all dressing up as RoboCop. They simply figured out a way around the rules. The Chinese sell their aluminum to the Mexicans, who process this aluminum into aluminum parts, which are then sent across the border into the United States and Canada.
They could not get that aluminum across the border because we have anti-dumping laws. This is a way for Mexico to get dumped materials into markets that are supposed to have protections against dumping. To get this aluminum across borders, to create jobs in Mexico and to support Chinese production, which is the most polluting in the world, the aluminum is transformed into automotive parts. It is a good scheme. Between May and July, aluminum parts exports from Mexico to the United States increased by 260%. This is an established, well-known and lucrative scheme that must absolutely be eliminated.
The agreement does nothing to address this. Given that Canada, and especially Quebec, relies heavily on aluminum production, the Liberals talked a good game and said all the right things to lull people to sleep. They said that 70% of aluminum parts used in automotive manufacturing had to be produced in Mexico, Canada or the U.S. What I just explained is supported by the numbers, and numbers do not lie. As the numbers show, this scheme will continue under this trade agreement.
There is a lot of talk about Donald Trump. Everyone is afraid of Donald Trump. Essentially, the government did not capitulate to Donald Trump, it capitulated to Mexico, which decided to produce auto parts with aluminum dumped by China. They are doing this right under our noses and think we will not notice. We figured out this scheme and have condemned it many times because aluminum is Quebec's second-largest export. It is an extremely important market for us. Just go to Lac-Saint-Jean or visit an aluminum plant in Quebec, on the North Shore or elsewhere, and you will see the number of people working in this sector. They have well-paying jobs. We are talking about more than 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, not to mention those that would be created by planned expansions. That is the legacy the government will leave with a flawed agreement. It was unable to negotiate perhaps because it is used to making concessions, but somehow it is always Quebec that ends up making the concessions, and we are sick of it. It is quite clear that Quebec is always the one to make concessions.
We are here to say that this agreement must be amended. We need to agree on that. I know the government is not going to reopen the agreement and renegotiate it, but there are things it can do. We are calling on the government to do what must be done because Quebeckers' jobs depend on it, because Quebec's second-largest export depends on it and because regions depend on it.
That is why the Bloc is rising. We are in the right here. We know we are defending Quebec's interests. That is why we were elected, and that is what we are going to fight for throughout this Parliament.
Madam Speaker, I stand among my colleagues today with the duty of holding the Liberals accountable over the new NAFTA they have agreed to and now asked the House to ratify. I would note that they want us to ratify this as soon as possible, yet they still have not provided the requested documents, including the cost-benefit analysis.
I do intend on voting to ratify this agreement because industry, especially the automotive sector, needs certainty so we can keep Canadians working and obtain new investment. Sadly, it is too late for Oshawa. Though this trade agreement has its issues, the certainty of a trade deal will keep our exporting companies in Canada and hopefully bring an end to four turbulent years.
When the originally took office, he had the TPP and CETA ready to sign. We had good relations with both China and India. There were talks of potential trade agreements with each of those growing economies.
However, both China and India want nothing to do with the and the new TPP is a shell of its original form. It does not include the United States. One in four may be average for a baseball player, but it is an awful record for the Prime Minister.
The government has misstepped at every possible turn on the world stage. In fact, this all could have been avoided five years ago with the signing of the original trans-Pacific partnership in 2015 or 2016. The TPP was set to open up Canada to some of the largest markets in the world, over 1.2 billion people. Canada is now a signatory to a new version of the agreement, but there is one noticeably absent signatory: the United States.
The trans-Pacific partnership, in its original form, was the renegotiation of NAFTA, given both Mexico and the United States were involved in the agreement. It solved key bilateral and, more importantly, multilateral issues. One of the TPP's main purposes was to counter the rapid economic expansionism of China, an issue that is growing larger day by day. China is now holding its economic power over our heads as the tries to navigate the current situation he created.
I rose in this House during the last month of the previous Parliament to raise the point that the had the opportunity to avoid the turbulent last four years of NAFTA renegotiation if he had just signed the original TPP. In response, the member for completely ignored history and said, “The claim is that if we had ratified the TPP, it would have solved so many problems, but the U.S. pulled out [of] the TPP.” This attitude is still taken by the Liberals today. They cannot seem to remember that the Prime Minister refused to sign the original TPP more than once.
By October 6, 2015, almost two weeks before the 2015 election, the ministers from each of the 12 signatories gathered to announce that the negotiations were complete for the TPP. All the had to do was put pen to paper.
As reported by Bill Curry on November 15, 2015, 14 months before President Trump was sworn in, the Prime Minister's best friend internationally, Barack Obama, was in the Philippines and referenced Canada when he said, “We are both soon to be signatories of the TPP agreement.” Alas, the did not sign.
If we fast forward to March 2016, it is still nine or 10 months before President Trump took office. This time the said he was confident that the softwood lumber dispute would be resolved in a matter of weeks to a month under the TPP, a sentiment shared by President Obama during the Prime Minister's first official to the White House. Sadly, the Prime Minister did not sign again. Even with the most progressive president in recent U.S. history and the Prime Minister's BFF, he refused to sign the agreement because it was not progressive enough for him.
Virtue-signalling aside, the TPP was important because it was set to resolve many issues that we still face today. For example, under the agreement, there would not have been issues with section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs. Signing that agreement would have stopped this years-long debacle in its tracks before it even started.
President Trump may have been able to renegotiate a trade agreement with two other countries, as he did with NAFTA, but he did that over the past two years. Trying to negotiate a trade deal with 11 other signatories would have been next to impossible and the original TPP was a template for that agreement going forward. If the had signed the TPP in the first place, this mess he created would likely have been avoided.
The handling of the TPP was the first time the angered other world leaders, but it would not be the last. After the Prime Minister kicked the TPP down the road, a new president took the Oval Office. President Trump pulled our southern neighbour out of the agreement.
The remaining countries proceeded without the U.S. and were ready to sign in 2017. In fact, the leaders of each soon-to-be signatory gathered in a room for a historic event, but the decided to play hooky and refused to sign once again.
The was nowhere to be found; he just did not show up. Over and over again, the Prime Minister has failed Canada on the international trade file and has angered our global partners.
In response to these antics, the leaders of the aspiring TPP signatories were outraged. High-level Australian officials described the 's no-show as “sabotaging the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, according to the National Post. One official even told Australia's ABC News that Canada screwed everybody. How bad does it have to be for Australia to get so upset?
The later signed the updated agreement, but not until he angered world leaders and waited for the United States to withdraw.
It gets worse. In 2017, when President Trump officially indicated his intention to renegotiate NAFTA, the administration issued a list of specific provisions and issues that it was looking to have renegotiated. At that time, it put forward concerns regarding supply management, rules of origin and other specific areas of interest. The Liberal government responded by voicing its outspoken commitment to the so-called progressive agenda and did not even address the list of priorities put forward by the United States administration.
This began a negotiating process that saw our U.S. counterparts leave the negotiating table and deal only with Mexico until they had worked out all the details, without Canadian input. The government's inability to get the job done appropriately led Canada to an agreement that would only maintain certain standards and provisions, but would gain nothing over the original NAFTA agreement.
This is basically a Mexico-United States agreement, and we are only involved because Mexico felt bad for Canada. The Liberal government's negotiating team was forced to sit at the kids' table while the adults settled the details.
I have never been the prime minister of this great country, but it does not take a genius to know that if one screws up an opportunity like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one should at least try to make up for it. However, the decided not to bring an end to the softwood lumber dispute and made our trade relationships with lndo-Pacific nations like China and India even worse.
Rather than finding a solution to the softwood lumber dispute and getting exemptions to buy America, the 's logic has been to give away our trade sovereignty to the United States. For example, if Canada wants to sign a trade agreement with a non-market economy like China, we now have to ask the U.S. for permission. The last time I checked, Canada was a strong, powerful country that should not need to ask dad for a treat.
I can understand why the might not trust his own decision-making, but to forfeit Canada's sovereignty is not the solution. The Prime Minister needs to understand that people's entire livelihoods are at stake when he repeatedly makes mistakes that could have been easily avoided. We know this all too well in Oshawa: Our assembly plant did not receive a new product allocation. While the Prime Minister dithered, Oshawa lost.
We are debating this bill in its current form, yet issues remain. On December 12, members of the Conservative caucus requested the release of the economic impact study for the new NAFTA agreement. It has now been 54 days since the request and we have yet to see the report.
On this side of the House, we have been asking when the economic impact study will be released and, as usual, the and his government are ducking the questions. It is a simple question that does not need to be dodged. The economic impact study will give greater insight on the effects of the agreement. The question remains: What do the Liberals have to hide?
This study is important because Canada deserves a trade agreement that will benefit all of us. For example, something that is very important in my community is that the agreement requires that 40% of cars produced in Mexico be completed by workers making at least $16 per hour. However, because of this, there is an assumption that automotive manufacturing jobs will migrate north. How many jobs are expected to be created in Canada? It is impossible to know because the economic impact study has not been released. As well, what effect will this have on the price of cars? Again, we do not know, because the Liberals refuse to release the study.
With that said, I plan on supporting the deal. Though the agreement has issues as a result of the 's bad decisions, premiers, small businesses, farmers and manufacturers need the certainty so they can resume their day-to-day business. Canadian businesses cannot wait any longer for certainty and they need to make investments and decisions for their livelihoods. Canadians need a deal, and that is why I plan on supporting the agreement.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House for the first time in 2020. On top of that, I do so as you preside over this august chamber. I am happy for you, and I thank you for giving me the floor.
I am very pleased to be here to present to the House of Commons an important result the government obtained for the cultural sector with the new NAFTA, also known as CUSMA.
Canada has managed to retain the general exemption for cultural industries, a key provision designed to preserve Canada's cultural sovereignty. This is an important aspect of the original NAFTA.
The general exemption for cultural industries fully preserves the latitude Canada has to adopt and maintain the programs and policies that support the creation and dissemination of Canadian artistic expression or content, including in the digital environment.
At the outset of the negotiations, our government made it clear that it wanted to preserve the cultural exemption and did not back down on that objective throughout the negotiation process, to get the result we have today. The cultural exemption is a matter of national interest that enjoys overwhelming support from Canada's cultural industries, and most certainly those of Quebec, all the provinces and territories, and several municipal and local governments.
Today I am very proud to say that Canada fought hard at the negotiating table to ultimately achieve our objectives in the cultural sector by retaining the cultural exemption.
Why is that so important? As countries' economies become increasingly integrated, different nations need a strong culture and national cultural expressions to preserve their sovereignty and their sense of identity.
Canada is proud of its cultural diversity. We are proud of our heritage, stories, culture and population. As a Quebecker, I can say that we have a very rich culture, a culture we export to just about every corner of the planet. That is also true for the entire country. We should be proud of this, and that is why the cultural exemption is essential. We must preserve the vitality of this important sector. I will speak a little later not only about Canada's fabric, but also about the very important economic benefits of culture.
We understand that culture is important at a number of levels. It helps build our societies, it strengthens social cohesion and pride, it supports economic prosperity, it is an integral part of who we are as Canadians and it enriches our lives.
Historically, culture has been treated differently in Canada's free trade agreements. Since the bilateral agreement we signed with the United States in 1988, Canada has chosen to exempt cultural industries from the obligations of free trade agreements.
The cultural exemption in the new agreement protects Canada's right to pursue its cultural policy goals. This enhances the benefits of the original Canada-U.S. free trade agreement and the original NAFTA.
The new CUSMA recognizes that Canada has a right to promote its cultural industries through incentives like grants, tax credits, regulations and other forms of support. This is why the cultural exemption is so important.
I should also point out that the cultural exemption is neutral on technology. This means that the exemption applies to both the physical world and the digital world. Because of its horizontal scope, this exemption takes precedence over the disciplines on trade associated with the cultural industries in all chapters of the new agreement, including the chapter on digital trade.
The definition of cultural industries in Canada takes into account the key role that both Canadian and non-Canadian online platforms now play in distributing Canadian cultural content. That is why we worked so hard to make sure the cultural exemption would fully apply to the online environment. During the negotiations, we stressed that our ability to take action to adopt measures aimed at promoting Canadian cultural expression in the digital realm needed to be recognized and preserved in the new agreement.
The digital environment is evolving at a fast pace, and it is in this country's interest to keep its strategic options open in the future, especially since we are in the process of reviewing the Broadcasting Act, the Telecommunications Act and the Radiocommunication Act.
Canada not only maintained its existing programs and policies, but it also ensured that it would have the flexibility to intervene strategically to support cultural industries in the future. Over the years, Canada's approach to culture when negotiating free trade agreements has played a decisive role in promoting Canada's national cultural industries and has therefore contributed to economic growth, job creation and prosperity. Since music, television shows, movies and books are not just entertaining, but also essential to our quality of life, as I mentioned earlier, they represent a major industry and a significant segment of our economy.
Together, Canada's cultural industries account for more than 660,000 jobs and contribute $53 billion to our economy. In 2017, our cultural industries accounted for about 3% of Canada's GDP and exports worth nearly $16 billion.
The cultural industries have much to offer the world. Just think of artists like Céline Dion, Drake and The Weeknd, who have propelled Canada onto the international stage. We are an exporter of culture, and we need to celebrate that. Quebec has some amazing filmmakers, such as Xavier Dolan, Denis Villeneuve and Jean-Marc Vallée, who are internationally renowned for their talent and their storytelling. The list goes on and on.
It is our collective responsibility as a government to support this industry, which is the foundation of our national identity, and to create the conditions needed to support the artists of today and help develop the talent of tomorrow.
I would also like to point out that Canada's vibrant cultural industries are ready to do business. In recent years, for example, Canada has become Hollywood North as a result of its welcoming film production environment, world-class production infrastructure—including skilled labour—and strategic tax credits. It is no surprise that over the past five years alone the number of foreign productions filmed in Canada has increased by 160%, more quickly than in the United States or the United Kingdom.
Our commitment to protect culture includes much more than free trade agreements. Canada is a global advocate of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which was adopted by UNESCO in 2005. This convention recognizes both the economic and social value of cultural goods and services and reaffirms the right of governments to adopt their own cultural policies.
In addition, the government made the single largest reinvestment in Canadian arts and culture not only in over 30 years, but also in the entire G7, precisely to bring in the tools needed to support Canada's entire cultural ecosystem. That makes me very proud. It is one of the first things we did when we came to power in 2015, as early as budget 2016, after the cultural sector took such a hard hit during the previous decade under the Conservatives.
I believe it is important to show our support, especially when we see both the social and economic value of culture. We know that the money invested generates returns both for jobs and the GDP. This industry represents 3% of our GDP, which is huge. It is important that the government support our content creators, our artists, artisans and Canadian cultural industries, which are so vital.
I would like to reiterate that the cultural component of the new agreement represents a major victory for the Canadian cultural industry and for all Canadians. Indeed, Canadians will continue to have access to rich and diverse cultural expressions across all media and all formats.
In future, we will continue to tell our stories and express our culture in all its diversity and on every platform. I think that all members of the House should be pleased that in spite of tough negotiations, Canada succeeded in preserving our country's cultural exemption and ensuring that it applies in the digital age.
Madam Speaker, as this is my first opportunity to address the House in formal debate, let me first thank the amazing citizens of Red Deer—Mountain View for their support during the last election. None of us makes it to this place on our own. From that perspective, I wish not only to recognize the numerous volunteers who have supported me, but also my devoted family who has stood beside me all along the way. My wife Judy, our son Devin, our daughter Megan, our son-in-law Hanno and our grandchildren Julian, Serena and Conrad are my inspiration for my service to my community.
I have been blessed to have so many wonderful people guide me along my political journey. Over the past 12 years, I have continually felt that same sense of duty and honour each time I enter this chamber. I reflect upon the love, passion, desires and counsel my parents, brothers, family, colleagues and friends have taught me, and I strive to live up to the honour they have bestowed upon me by allowing me to serve as their representative.
During the last Parliament, I was honoured to serve on the international trade committee. Committee members had a unique view of the negotiation process and numerous opportunities to meet with parliamentarians from around the world, including our American neighbours.
I was also honoured to accompany Prime Minister Harper to London in the final days of the CETA negotiations, where discussions with Canadian producers, manufacturers and distributors looking to do business with their European counterparts took place.
Canada is a trading nation. As Conservatives, we truly are the party of trade. This was obvious from the respect that Prime Minister Harper commanded as he spoke with global leaders. It saddens me to hear how the current Liberal government continually tries to minimize the great work done by our former government and how it desperately tries to weave its way into the international trade narrative.
When it comes to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, the current government was handed CETA on a silver platter. All the had to do was retrieve the ball the Harper government had hit over the fence for the walk-off home run, and sign it.
The government's insistence that it reopen parts of the agreement caused serious confusion with our trading partners and showed inconsistencies and weaknesses of which other signatories were quick to take advantage. This became the opening that encouraged one of those European partners, Italy, to initiate unsubstantiated, non-tariff trade barriers against Canadian durum wheat. Ironically, its ploy was to demonize us for herbicide use. This came from a region that uses three to six times the amount of herbicide our Canadian farmers do. Because the current government had no strategy or ability to help our farmers, the rest of the world saw this administration as weak.
Canadian farmers once again took it on the chin when the government chose to tweet in Arabic about internal issues in Saudi Arabia, which had always previously been dealt with professionally through proper diplomatic channels.
Similarly unexplainable behaviour by the created a near disaster with Vietnam at a time when tensions were high after the U.S. pulled out of TPP discussions. Because the TPP was a template for a renewed North American trade agreement and was so close to being a reality in July 2015, it was with disbelief that we saw the Prime Minister once again put our position in jeopardy by creating a scene during these negotiations. Whether it was the entire reason or not, the consequence is that we have another non-tariff trade barrier with Vietnam that once again affects our agricultural exports.
Then we had our problems with India. The trade committee happened to be in Malaysia on the last leg of an ASEAN trade tour when the 's Indian antics hit the global news wire. To say that all of us were embarrassed would be an understatement. If it had just been the costume party, that would have been bad enough, but revelations about his guest list and the snubbing of the Indian prime minister went beyond the pale.
Canada had always had agreements with India regarding our pulse exports, but these agreements needed constant vigilance. The government dropped the ball, and all of a sudden we had an international incident: another non-tariff trade barrier that put our Canadian pulse producers in jeopardy. This multi-billion dollar market became another casualty of a disjointed government strategy that lacked both knowledge and direction.
Sadly, Canadians are no longer surprised by these types of unforced errors from the . This has also been the underpinning of his attitude with our southern neighbours. This was obvious from the Prime Minister's confrontational commentary once he thought the American president was out of earshot. His irresponsible statements inflamed our relationship with the United States at a time when we should have been addressing solvable irritants with our southern neighbours.
There may have been a sense of bravado at the PMO, but the result was that the U.S. administration lost its respect for its traditional ally and stopped listening to us.
This heightened the problems associated with the stalled steel and aluminum tariffs, slowed any action on softwood lumber, and in the new NAFTA, solidified their entrenched position on dairy.
The issues that we have with China today are complex and I wish our diplomatic team success as it deals with these concerns. On the trade file, the concerns we have today have been exacerbated by the government's global, knee-jerk response to serious trade issues and the serious diplomatic missteps that have been a hallmark of the government.
If Canada would not stand up to the non-tariff issues of the countries I previously mentioned, then the Chinese government was pretty confident that we would not stand up to its import restrictions either. Canola, pork and beef were to become pawns in this debate. With the present developments with the U.S.A.-China agreement, we find ourselves on the outside looking in. Quite frankly, neither of these important trading partners have time for us. No longer are we that soft middle power that both our U.S. neighbours and the Chinese government would seek counsel from when issues arose. The egos of the leaders and administration of all three countries now dominate the discussion and as Canadians, we suffer the most.
Where does this leave us with the new NAFTA? We have always had strong relationships with our southern neighbours and we must continue to value these trusted partners through a strong, well-thought-out free trade agreement. However, while doing so, we must always think of our Canadian workers and their combined expertise, our manufacturers and their ability to compete with Canadian raw materials, our farmers and their world-class food production, and our natural resource industry and its respected environmentally friendly footprint.
These are the people, and the industries in which they toil, that any free trade agreement must consider. In our present national discussions, we hear a lot of talk about the environmental practices of our mining, oil and gas, agriculture, forestry and other industrial users and naively think that this matters to the rest of the world.
As a western Canadian, I would love it if we would use our environmental record as a lever for global acceptance of best practices and that as a nation we would champion this expertise so that the world would take notice. Sadly, our global competitors that pile on when it comes to natural resource development have found allies with anti-development actors that have infiltrated political parties, honest ecological activists and inculcated our education system. All this to portray our natural resource industries in a negative light.
In Alberta, we did not look for sweetheart deals from the federal government to allow our heavy emitters to put actual pollutants into the air or to get permission to pour raw sewage into our rivers. Instead, we set up strong environmental conditions that made sense for our geography, that recognized our natural resource advantages from forestry and agriculture, and our desire to build on all resources for the betterment of the nation. We wanted to do our part.
Do any of these things seem to matter to the eco-activists that will do all they can to shutter in our resources while ignoring the blatant economic sabotage and environmental disasters that are practised by our competitors? No, but we in the west still forge ahead despite these attacks because we know that this is how we can help build a nation.
We will stand up for the green aluminum producers from Quebec because we are proud of what they produce, because it is the right thing to do. We will stand up for our oil and gas industry because by doing so we can help displace poorly regulated and environmental suspect energy from other global suppliers, because it is the right thing to do. We will stand up for our forestry workers and we will stand up for our great farmers and ranchers who produce the best food in the world with the softest environmental footprint, because it is the right thing to do.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the Liberal Party for sharing this speaking time with me so I can add my voice and perspective to this important debate on the new NAFTA or, as it is called now, CUSMA.
I would like to congratulate the Canadian negotiating team for getting this deal done with a U.S. administration that, at best, can be described as difficult to deal with.
This is not a perfect agreement. As parliamentarians, we are being asked to choose between the original version of NAFTA and this updated version. The original NAFTA successfully created an integrated supply chain that benefited businesses and entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, there are many flaws in the agreement that created and accelerated inequality.
For more than a decade, the Green Party has called for the renegotiation of NAFTA and the removal of problematic components. In our view, the worst part of the original agreement was the investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms and the proportionality clause, both of which have been removed in CUSMA. The investor-state provisions in NAFTA allowed foreign corporations to seek financial compensation from taxpayers through private arbitration tribunals when laws and regulations got in the way of their profits. Canada is the most-sued country under these NAFTA investor-state rules, and taxpayers have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to U.S. companies, but no Canadian company has ever successfully won compensation from the U.S. government.
For more than 10 years, I have worked to raise awareness about the serious problems created by investor-state provisions in our trade agreements. These provisions are anti-democratic and they obstruct good public policy and environmental protections, including action on climate change. I am happy to see the investor-state provisions removed from the CUSMA. This is a win. I would like to see investor-state dispute settlement provisions removed from all trade agreements and investment treaties that Canada has signed, and they should be excluded from any new agreements.
NAFTA's proportionality clause required that Canada export the same proportion of energy that it had on average in the previous three years, even in an energy crisis. Mexico did not agree to the inclusion of this clause. Canada, the coldest NAFTA country, signed away too much control of its energy sector. Fortunately, the proportionality clause was removed from the CUSMA. This is also a win.
The continued exemption of bulk water exports is encouraging, and the Canadian cultural exemption remains intact. These are wins as well.
The Green Party believes in fair and equitable trade that does not exploit lower labour, health, safety or environmental standards in other countries or result in the lowering of standards in Canada. Done right, trade can be an effective way to improve conditions for people and the planet rather than creating a race to the bottom.
Free trade agreements have allowed corporations to exploit lower wages and standards in other countries. Under NAFTA, many jobs in Canada were moved to Mexico for this reason. This hollowed out Canada's manufacturing and textile sectors and led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs here. When NAFTA was negotiated and signed, Canadians were promised that it would increase prosperity. In reality, NAFTA increased the wealth of the rich at the expense of working Canadians, whose wages have stagnated.
As an international human rights observer in the 1990s, I accompanied labour activists who were trying to organize workers in Guatemala's sweatshops, which produced low-cost goods for the North American market. The simple act of trying to create a union led to intimidation, violence, disappearances and murder. This was not how international trade should work. I am pleased that CUSMA would create stricter enforcement of labour standards in Mexico, would guarantee Mexican workers the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining, and would help to strengthen the labour movement there. The agreement includes a rapid response mechanism for labour violations.
These labour standards were strengthened in the new, improved version of the agreement, thanks to a push by Democrats in the United States who were not happy with the lack of proper labour standards or enforcement in the first signed version of CUSMA.
U.S. Democrats also managed to roll back the patent extensions on biologic drugs proposed in the first version of the CUSMA agreement. This change will save Canadian consumers money and make it more affordable to create a universal pharmacare program in Canada.
Thankfully, the Canadian Parliament did not rush to ratify this first signed version of the agreement, so we can all benefit from these important changes made by U.S. Democrats.
Another area of improvement is the rules of origin. Higher levels of North American content are now required before goods can be certified as made in North America. There is a new 70% North American steel and aluminum requirement for automobiles, but while the steel content requirement guarantees that steel must be produced in North America, there is not an equal requirement for aluminum. This requirement should have been included in the agreement..
Our supply management system for dairy and poultry farmers will remain intact, but one of the drawbacks of the new agreement is that it will allow imports of dairy products from the U.S. This will undermine the economic viability of Canadian farms and will require compensation to farmers.
In addition, many dairy products in the U.S. contain a genetically modified bovine growth hormone called rBGH, which is banned in Canada. We need legislation in place to ensure that U.S. products containing rBGH are either labelled or blocked from entering this country.
The CUSMA agreement makes some progress on environmental protections. Countries are committed to meet their obligations on a number of multilateral environmental treaties they have signed. These agreements are all enforceable. However, what CUSMA is missing is any mention of climate change and any obligation for the three CUSMA countries to uphold their commitments under the climate accords. While the climate change targets established in Paris are binding, there are no enforcement mechanisms or penalties for countries that do not live up to their commitments.
Increasing trade in goods will accelerate climate change. One of the best ways to combat climate change is to localize our economies as much as possible. This is especially true for agricultural products. Redundant trade, such as importing products that can easily be produced locally, does not make sense.
There are other concerns with CUSMA. The agreement fails to address the decades-long softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the United States. Getting the proper agreement on softwood is critical to the health of the Canadian forest industry.
The good regulatory practices chapter is also of concern. Who decides what good regulatory practices are? Will this process involve only business and government, or will civil society organizations representing labour, consumers, and the environment be involved?
The extension of copyright from 50 years after an author's death to 75 years is an unnecessary change.
It is ironic to hear the Conservatives complaining about not having enough access during the negotiation process and having to study an agreement that is a done deal. This really speaks to the lack of a clear and transparent process for negotiating trade agreements. The process of negotiating CUSMA included briefings for an expanded group of stakeholders, going beyond just the business organizations and corporations that were consulted in the past. That is an improvement, but there is still work to do to make the trade agreement negotiation process more transparent. It is unacceptable that Canadians, and the parliamentarians who represent them, can only get involved in a debate about the merits of a trade agreement once it has been completed and signed.
Both the Liberals and Conservatives complained about the secretive nature of the negotiation process while they were in opposition. The Greens believe that we should be following the European Union model for trade negotiations. We should have an open and transparent discussion and debate about Canada's objectives before negotiations start. That debate should continue during and after negotiations are concluded. Also, a socio-economic analysis of the potential impacts and benefits of a new trade agreement should be made available to all Canadians.
For years I have spoken out loudly against the corporate free trade model, so people who know me might wonder why I intend to support the CUSMA agreement. This is not a perfect agreement, the negotiation process is flawed and we can and should do better, but this is a choice between retaining the old flawed NAFTA and ratifying this new, improved version. A step forward is preferable to the status quo.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak about the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement.
After a long and gruelling process, it is great that we have arrived where we are. Parliamentarians now have the chance to review this new agreement and ensure that free trade with our continental partners continues to benefit all Canadians.
Hundreds of thousands of Canadian jobs rely on this international trade, and the North American Free Trade Agreement has been a critically important component of that trade. In fact, one in five Canadians who have jobs in Canada have them as a result of this agreement.
However, there is merit in occasionally updating agreements like NAFTA. There are always going to be things changing, new developments that require reviewing and adjusting existing agreements, but with respect to this latest renegotiation, it seems that the was just a little too eager to open things up when he stated that he was more than happy to renegotiate NAFTA with incoming president Donald Trump.
It was something of a shock when the voluntarily submitted Canada to this renegotiation when it was widely known that the U.S. was primarily concerned with the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. Canada was suddenly drawn into what would become a long and tumultuous couple of years of negotiating. Thankfully, we seem to have arrived near the end of this stage.
I know that those on the negotiating team put in extensive hours, and for that I want to thank our officials and bureaucrats for the efforts they have contributed. I realize that they are handcuffed and restricted from using the tools and environment in which they are working. However, I am confident that they worked tirelessly and that they did their best to make as good a deal for Canada as they could.
Frustratingly, along the way there were some serious missteps that made this process even more difficult. For example, let us take the time that the went to New York City, President Trump's hometown, to deliver a commencement speech at a university. Naturally, he took some time for a photo op, which was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine during this visit. I do not ever expect to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, but I am sure that is quite an accomplishment. To further exacerbate the situation, the article in Rolling Stone magazine portrayed the as an opponent of the president, making the whole trip seem like it was nothing more than an opportunity to poke the President of the United States in the eye. Why would the risk insulting the president right in the middle of tough negotiations with his country when Canadian jobs were on the line?
I have had the opportunity to negotiate many deals in business over the years. I have learned over the years that the best way to make a good deal is to make a connection with the person we are dealing with, develop a relationship of mutual trust and respect and not to try to provoke and intimidate the person and think that we will end up walking away with a fair and equitable deal.
Understandably, the missteps and challenges of this renegotiation have left the agreement with certain shortfalls. I am talking about the Liberals' sellout of our supply management farmers and aluminum producers. Then there were the missed opportunities, such as failing to address the softwood lumber dispute, failing to respond to the buy America clause and failing to move to update the list of professionals eligible for temporary business entry to reflect the 21st century economy, just to name a few examples.
When President Trump signed the agreement at the White House last week, he called the CUSMA the “largest, fairest, most balanced and modern trade agreement ever achieved.” In Canada, the Liberals have not used that same terminology, and I do not think that they appear nearly as confident that we got an agreement that is as fair, balanced and modern as they would have liked. I think that this recognition shows in the way they comment on this particular agreement.
Despite these realities, with Canada's economy slowing and vulnerable, a lack of access to U.S. markets would further weaken business investments and exports. Free trade with our southern neighbour represents opportunities for all Canadians, and we need to embrace those opportunities even as we work to resolve the problems the Liberals have created with this agreement.
Here on this side of the House, the Conservative Party is proud to be the party of trade. It was of course a Conservative government that developed the first free trade agreement with the United States in the first place, generating increased economic activity and jobs for the last few decades.
The United States is our largest trading partner, with roughly $2 billion in bilateral trade per day crossing our international borders. This represents 75% of all Canadian exports. In fact, since the time NAFTA was introduced, more than five million jobs have been created. The total trilateral trade, when we include Mexico, has increased fourfold, to $1.2 trillion annually. Therefore, the Conservatives recognize there is a lot of potential for continued growth, continued investment and continued prosperity with a strong agreement in place.
Like all Canadians, I want the best deal for our families, the best deal for our workers and the best deal for our businesses. Having a free trade agreement in place is important, but it has to do right by Canadians. After the Liberal mismanagement, the reality is that the CUSMA will cost taxpayer money. We need to now ensure that the sectors and industries in areas of our economy and businesses that have been left behind by this agreement have a soft landing.
Allow me for a moment to speak about supply management, for example, for dairy, chicken, eggs, egg products, turkey and broiler hatching eggs.
My riding in Manitoba is home to the largest concentration of supply management farmers in the province. It goes without saying that these folks really are not just farmers. They are pillars in southeast Manitoba communities. They are heavily involved in communities. They are employers. They are what make my constituency of Provencher the most generous constituency in all of Canada when we look at Statistics Canada's numbers for charitable donations, second only to Abbotsford. We are very proud.
Part of the success of being noted as a very charitable riding comes from the fact that our supply management sector contributes heavily to that. However, these folks, unfortunately, have been left behind by the Liberal government. The Liberals agreed to open up 3.6% of the Canadian market to increase dairy imports in this new agreement. That is more than what was even agreed to under the TPP.
When it comes to supply management, we need to remember that under the TPP, the United States was part of that access into our markets. Instead of backing that out when the Americans withdrew from the TPP agreement and we eventually signed the CPTPP, we left that market access in for Asian countries. Now, in addition to that, the Americans have tacked on additional 3.6% market access, really taking that market away from our Canadian producers. I am sure our supply management folks do not view this as a new and improved NAFTA agreement.
Under the CUSMA, Canada will adopt tariff rate quotas providing U.S. dairy farmers with access to Canada's dairy market. That includes milk, concentrated milk and milk powders, cream and cream powder, buttermilk and even ice cream. The CUSMA also dictates specific thresholds for Canadian milk protein concentrates, skim milk and infant formula. When export thresholds for these are exceeded, Canada will be obligated to add duties to the exports that are in excess, making them even more expensive.
Our dairy farmers have anticipated annual losses of $190 million, an additional $50 million on export caps. On top of that, our dairy processors have estimated that their losses will be $300 million to $350 million annually. That is significant and is a lot of money that needs to be made up.
Our chicken farmers are going to experience challenges as well. Under the new agreement, Canada will allow 47,000 metric tons of chicken to enter the country duty-free from the United States. That begins in the very first year, once the deal has been ratified, and will increase to almost 63,000 metric tons annually of chicken coming in from the United States.
The Conservatives are, nonetheless, a party of free trade and we need to find a path forward. A majority of major industry associations want the House to ratify the deal. No one was really looking for these changes, but we are faced with them regardless. I am certainly very clear-eyed looking at the contents of a new CUSMA, but the importance of free trade to so many industries and so many jobs in the country means we simply cannot walk away.
The Conservatives will be there to hold the Liberals accountable and ensure that those negatively impacted by this agreement will have the tools they need to succeed in the aftermath.
Madam Speaker, since this is the first time I have spoken in this Parliament, I want take this opportunity to thank the residents and families of Mississauga-East—Cooksville. I thank them for their support, their trust, their belief in a better tomorrow and for electing me for a second term. I would be remiss if I did not thank my greatest supporters, my wife Christina and my twin boys, Sebastien and Alexander.
When I get the opportunity to visit schools, I meet many children, such as the young girl who loves science and wants to be our next scientist to discover the cure for cancer or the little boy who loves to plant things in the yard and will be our next farmer who will grow the safe and healthy food we eat. They are why we do this work, for them.
We do this work for the seniors who have toiled and worked so hard to build our country. We want to support them with a life of dignity and respect. We do this work for some of our newest Canadians, so they have the opportunity to contribute fully and fulfill their Canadian dreams.
I am not alone with these desires. I have heard them from all members of Parliament from all sides of the House.
An intersection in my riding of Mississauga-East—Cooksville, at Hurontario and Dundas, is called the four corners. At any time of day, people from the four corners of the world will be at that intersection. They have come to Canada to share and contribute to our goals and values, those of peace, democracy, freedom, fairness of the rule of law, safety, security, opportunity, teamwork, friendship and trust, all the things we value as Canadians. It is the same values that brought all of us to Canada, and our forefathers.
I will take everybody back to the U.S. election debates of 2016, when the threat of ripping up NAFTA came to light. That existential threat soon became real. Our country was seized with this new reality and we rose to the challenge. We became a unified force, team Canada. The Canadian people, the industry and labour sectors, all levels of government, indigenous people and all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, manufacturing and environment, worked together to protect and enhance this agreement.
Canadians believed in the plan. Canadians believed in the process. Canadians ultimately believed in the goal. The goal was to have a win-win-win agreement. Canadians believed that was possible, and we made it possible.
I want to thank the and the for their work in bringing all members of the House together, across the aisle and on this side. We understood how big and important this was.
I appreciate the opportunity I had to be on the international trade committee, to criss-cross the country and listen to Canadians and stakeholders. We received 47,000 submissions on the new NAFTA to ensure that this agreement was good for Canada and Canadians and that we could all prosper through free and fair trade.
That did not only happen here. We went to the United States, through our committee and ministers' offices. Many members here had the opportunity to speak to senators and representatives, We were able to share with our friends, the Americans, how important this agreement was, not only to us but to the U.S. and Mexico, to create this trading block that has brought so much prosperity to all of us.
I want to thank Steve Verheul and the amazing negotiators we have in Canada, who were at the table and did not give an inch when it came to our values. They understood that we were open to change, to making things better and to modernizing this agreement, which is what we did. We did it through the voices of the House, through stakeholders, through much consultation and through listening to people.
That is the difference with this agreement, which has put Canada in an enviable place, being the only G7 country to have agreements with the Pacific Rim, Europe and North America. This agreement covers 1.5 billion people. In this economic region, we are talking about $23 trillion, with $2 billion going between the United States and Canada every single day.
This agreement touches everyone in a good way. It is a progressive agreement that takes into account indigenous peoples, our cultural sector, the environment and our labour sector, many things that others never thought could be touched. However, we took a progressive approach to this agreement. Through that plan, that process and the belief that this was the right way to do things, we were able to achieve this good agreement for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
That is why I am so proud of the work all of us have done. I say that to both sides of the aisles, because the input that came from the opposition, and many of those who were skeptical, was important. It helped shape the agreement to what it is today, and much of that input was brought into the agreement.
In my riding of Mississauga-East—Cooksville, having met with stakeholders, small businesses and some bigger enterprises, I have heard positive reactions regarding supply chains and the many workers they employ. People are saying that we got it done.
It was difficult. At many times, we did not know if this agreement would happen, but we have reached an agreement. We are at a stage right now where we must all come together again in this Parliament. We come together because it is an opportunity for us to debate the agreement and talk about the many wins and benefits that will come to Canadians in all different sectors, but also an opportunity to think about and discuss the fact that we have a very good agreement for Canadians.
I have heard some of the debates, as well as some of the questions that have been asked and answered by members. I always look at the glass as being half full. I have heard about things that we could do in the future that may be better, and I agree: We can always do better. Better is always possible. We know that. The opportunity to debate and hear from members about how we can make things better in the future is terrific.
At this time, we also need to come together and understand that there has been a significant amount of listening, working and toiling by all of us. We have to get this agreement past the finish line for the prosperity of all Canadians and businesses, so that we can bring them the stability they have been looking for, for a very long time. This modernized agreement is good for Canadians. It is going to provide the predictability and stability that businesses and workers need.