The House resumed from February 3 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, as I indicated in the House on Monday, it is indeed an honour for me to be taking part in my first debate here on the floor of the House of Commons.
In the short time available to me, I would like to resume debate and provide my concluding remarks on Bill , an act to implement the agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States.
As I had indicated previously, Canada's Conservatives support free trade with our North American trading partners. What we do not support is rushing blindly into an agreement to implement a deal whose details have not yet been shared. I am confident when I say that members on this side are prepared to work with our Liberal colleagues to ensure that this agreement is ratified; however, we need them to be open and transparent about what those impacts will be. We know they have done financial modelling and analysis of how this new free trade agreement will affect Canada's economy, both overall and broken down by sector. Will the Liberals commit to showing all the members of this House these financial models?
We already know that dairy concessions in the agreement will negatively impact the industry. By allowing an agreement to be inked that opened our supply management system, the government will now be using taxpayers' dollars to compensate our dairy farmers, because of their loss in market share. We need to know if there are other industries that we will have to compensate with taxpayers' dollars, because these industries are going to be negatively impacted by this new NAFTA.
As it is, the wine industry in my riding of Niagara Falls is facing an uncertain business environment because of Australia's WTO challenge that would change our current federal excise exemption for 100% Canadian-made wines. This is another important sector in my riding that is waiting and wondering what the government is going to do. We are about eight weeks away from the World Trade Organization's interim report on this trade challenge, and the Liberals are missing in action on this important trade file.
Meanwhile, 700 wineries and 9,000 Canadians are wondering about the future of their jobs. That does not include the thousands of other local spinoff jobs supported by the wine industry, including accommodations, dining establishments and tour companies.
These are a few of my concerns that I have about the new NAFTA.
Parliamentarians need to know the details of what has changed from the existing agreement, who will be impacted and what can be done to provide stability to those impacted business sectors. I think it is certainly imperative that the official opposition be allowed to do our job of examining the signed agreement, not just the Liberals' talking points on the agreement.
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak in what hopefully will be one of the last debates regarding the new NAFTA deal before we can officially conclude this and get on with this new deal.
It is important to talk about NAFTA 2.0 or CUSMA or USMCA or whatever we are calling it as an opportunity to modernize the relationship we have with these two very important countries that we have come to rely on and come to work with very well over the last number of years. I say “modernize” because the global world of trade has changed so much even in the last 30 years or so since this agreement was originally put in place.
Today, I am going to focus my comments on this theme of modernization and specifically talk about the auto and aluminum industries as they relate to that, and the environment and the additional measures put into this agreement as they relate to our environmental protections.
I want to start off by talking about the concept of modernizing this agreement and I think back to my riding. I have a number of different manufacturers in my riding that rely heavily on a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, for reasons that can get quite complex at times because of how complex and intertwined supply chains are. The auto sector is one of those. No longer do we live in a world where an automobile and all its various parts are manufactured within a region and assembled right there in that municipality or jurisdiction.
A lot of people probably do not realize that 80% of the nylon that goes into air bags in vehicles assembled and manufactured in North America comes from my riding. The plant is called INVISTA, and it is a global plant.
The nylon's raw components are brought into my riding by train. They are used to create the nylon. The nylon is made into the rolls. The rolls are then taken and go somewhere else like the States and are transformed into the bags. The bags are then moved to another country in this trilateral agreement or back to Canada again. The same concept applies to aluminum and so many other industries.
The supply chain and how things work in terms of the auto industry, and many industries, have advanced so much that we rely heavily on a trade agreement that allows the different materials to move back and forth between countries. That is why I am really glad to see a lot of the components of the new agreement are focused on auto. At the end of the day, we are seeing that the deal accomplished is one that really takes into account the car sector, and in fact, is a very good deal for the Canadian car sector.
That is where I will link to aluminum, because of the effects that the aluminum industry has on the auto sector and vice versa. What we never had before, as it relates specifically to aluminum, was any particular requirement of where the aluminum comes from that is going into vehicles manufactured and assembled in one of the three countries.
For the first time, we are seeing some real measures being taken. Of the aluminum that goes into vehicles assembled and manufactured in Canada, the United States or Mexico, 70% has to come from within that region. It is very good for our aluminum sector to make sure we are not receiving aluminum from other countries that are just dumping it into our market. It will ensure there are good jobs for Canadians in the future, so we can continue to supply that aluminum right from our individual jurisdiction and the three countries involved in the agreement.
Related to aluminum, I talked about Invista and the nylon facilities that it has, but another company, Novelis, operates an aluminum plant in my riding. I had the opportunity to talk with them on a number of occasions, in particular when the aluminum tariffs were brought in by the U.S., about the anxieties that were being felt.
I will give another example of how it works with aluminum. A lot of aluminum for this plant in particular is mined in Quebec. It is then taken from Quebec to the United States, to northern New York, where it is hot pressed. It then moves back across the border a second time into Kingston, Ontario, my riding, where it is cold pressed.
That is just to get the aluminum into a roll. From that point, it is then going to move back and forth across the border as it changes hands and as products are produced as a result of the aluminum that is mined and refined at these various stages.
That is why I find it critically important to maintain supply chains and put confidence in investors, so that these plants that want to can build on one side of the border or another. We must make sure that the confidence is put in place for them, by making sure that an agreement like this is put in place over the long term.
The last thing I want to talk about, as it relates to the modernization of this agreement, is the environmental protections and environmental standards that are put into this agreement.
When the original NAFTA was being created 30 years ago, there would not have been much emphasis on the environment and concerns that relate to environmental impact. Having the opportunity to go through this agreement again, and to update and modernize it, gives us the opportunity to make sure that environmental components are built into it.
We in Canada take the environment extremely seriously. We realize that there are obligations for us to live up to, in terms of mitigating our environmental impact. We also realize that we cannot do it alone. If Canada is the only one trying to do this, we are going to run into a situation where it is going to become uncompetitive.
In a free trade deal, one needs to make sure that the rules are the same on both sides. In this case, when it comes to the environment, it is extremely important to make sure that the rules in place are fair, and that we are treating the environment roughly the same on both sides of the border with those environmental protections.
That is why we see things put in place like making sure there is an entire chapter in the agreement on the environment, which replaced some side agreements that existed.
We are looking at things like upholding air quality and fighting marine pollution, making sure that we have commitments to high levels of environmental protection, which are extremely important in these trade agreements, and at the same time protecting workers and our planet from potential environmental impacts. We need to make sure that these things exist.
This is why I am highlighting that perhaps it was not something that we particularly wanted in the beginning. It is not something that we sought out, but it actually turned out to be a pretty good opportunity for Canada to modernize this agreement, to fix some of the problems with it and to update it to the current standards of where we are in terms of free trade agreements.
I know that after the hard work that was done by the government, and in particular by the who was responsible previously, hard work was done not to accept just any deal. We made sure we got a deal that was good for Canada, good for our values, good for our employees and good for our workers.
That is what we saw at the end of the day here, and I am extremely proud to stand with that and with this government in support of this agreement. We have a modern agreement that is up to date and that lives up to many of the standards that we demand now, which we may not have had 30 years ago.
I am extremely proud of this, and I really hope that this is something that can be ratified and adopted by this entire Parliament unanimously. I really hope that we can get to that place.
Madam Speaker, I thank my constituents again for sending me here for a second term to represent their interests and passions as well. I really believe that political parties are a way for people to organize their passions. Whatever side of the House we are on, we are motivated to do the best for our communities.
What I thought I would do, in the time that I am afforded to speak on behalf of my constituents on CUSMA, is outline some of what I think is lacking in the agreement and what it took to get to this point where we have a deal in front of the House of Commons that we can debate.
As I go through the deal, as I listen to the debate in the House, and as I have heard different members from different parts of the country explain what their concerns are and what they have heard, I have seen in this agreement some lacking elements: things that should have been there that were not successfully negotiated with the American and Mexican governments.
I really thought that we could have gotten a much better deal than the one placed before us. This is Mexico's deal. We are accepting what Mexico negotiated with the United States government and we have found ourselves in a situation where we are accepting what they have given to us. It is a “take it or leave it” deal.
There are some elements that I like in the deal, obviously. Some members have called it a modernization. I do not call it that. I call it what has given us certainty over the next six years at least, as opposed to what we had before.
It lacks a buy American provision. My father, for the longest time, was a defence contractor here in Canada. He worked at the Sorel shipyards, which used to be just outside of Montreal. I lived in Sorel for a long time when I first came to Canada.
My dad's livelihood in Communist Poland was at a shipyard there. He built 70 ships a year. He came here and was building only a few a year. He thought it was a drastic change of workload, but buy America provisions were often used in his sector to block Canadian companies from applying for very lucrative American navy contracts. On top of the Canadian navy contracts and cruise ships that they were working on, my dad would say that these buy American provisions make it very difficult for Canadian companies to bid.
I do not see anything in this deal that is going to stop the American government from continuing to do that, and I accept it has national security reasons for doing that. However, we still should have been able to negotiate on it because these large shipbuilding contracts, as we have seen in Canada, are much larger in the American context, when we are talking about building dozens upon dozens of vessels over just a few years' time.
The next provision that I think would have been really important to have in here is something on forestry for softwood lumber. Again, we have a forestry industry. I worked for Alberta forestry for a while. I worked for the minister of sustainable resource development there, and we were responsible for the forestry sector. We would track the price of an OSB piece of wood and construction in America, because it was so important to be able to export to the American market. Again, I do not see that here in this deal.
Third, as I mentioned, are the chapter 16 provisions to include new jobs and professions in the 21st-century economy. If we are calling this a modernization of NAFTA, new NAFTA, new CUSMA, whatever one wants to call it, temporary entry for business people is really important. This is an economy we are further integrating with the Americans', and with the Mexicans' as well. This is an immense opportunity.
Many of my constituents were affected by the drastic downturn and actions by the Liberal government and the previous provincial NDP government in Alberta. These cost hundreds of thousands of jobs in Alberta. Jobs that existed do not exist anymore, and jobs would have been created if the regulatory system had been kept at the point that it was at before.
I have many friends who have gone down to Houston, Denver, San Jose and Dallas. Canadians are working down there. I also have friends who are not allowed to work in America because their job titles and job positions make them ineligible for business entry into America so that they can work. They have had to retrain themselves while their spouses work, and it is difficult on them. I would much rather see them, of course, living back in my riding and being able to travel there.
This is, I think, one of the large drawbacks in how this deal came to be in the House. I know members enjoyed this in the last Parliament. I always used Yiddish proverbs, so I am going to use one again: “The heart of a man may be compared to a sausage: No one can tell exactly what's inside.”
Up until this deal reached the House of Commons, we had no idea what was inside the actual deal. I was finding out things on behalf of my constituents just by reading the news. It would change from week to week, from time to time. There would be new provisions or new discussions, things that we would find out through the U.S. Congress or Mexican politicians giving interviews. That is when we would find out what was going on.
I have often heard it said on the government benches that we were consulted and we were kept informed. However, from my discussions with my colleagues on this side of the House who specialize in the USMCA and free trade deals, it was nothing like in the previous Conservative government. Getting a phone call or text message does not count as consultation. It does not count as a briefing, either.
This is the biggest deal of which Canada is part. Our three economies together are $21.1 trillion in GDP. This is an immense deal. This will have an impact on my constituents, their kids and their kids' children well into the future. For us to call it modernization and not have chapter 16 updated is a farce.
I worked in human resources before as a registrar for the human resources profession. I know the member for will highly enjoy my mentioning that, as I did it at committee. The professions of the future over the next 10 to 30 years will drastically change. How could we not update an agreement that was signed back when the Internet was barely an idea, back when social media designers and infographic designers were not a thing? Database analysts were not a thing. How can we not update this to ensure that Canadians can work in America, Mexico and here at home, so they can travel overseas or overland to another country to continue their important work, earning a living for their families on behalf of the companies they sometimes own or work for? It is such a lost opportunity.
I am looking forward to seeing this deal get to committee so we can hear from more specialists and witnesses who can also dive into the details of this deal. As I mentioned, one of the big problems was that we did not know what was in the deal until it reached the House, and then we were told, almost in the same sentence, that we must pass this as quickly as possible. Parliament is not a rubber stamp. Parliament is not about that. Every piece of legislation should be treated as important. Every one that comes before the House is worthy of time. Every member who stands in the House to speak on behalf of their constituents should be afforded that time.
Why should we rush through the most important agreement, likely, in the lifetime of many parliamentarians here? We should give it a thorough debate, to bring the views of our constituents to the House, take it to committee so we can hear from both stakeholders and large associations and individual companies and people who will be affected by it. They may have a different viewpoint from their trade association, the trade bodies and professional associations by which they may be represented. That is really important, and it takes time to find these individuals. They do not exactly raise their hands immediately to say they will challenge what their professional or trade association has to say. After all, they pay dues to these bodies, so they want to be judicious, they want to know what the contents of the agreement actually are, and this is their opportunity. Once it is before the House, that is when we can give it a thorough consideration. Then we should hear from officials at committee.
I know a great amount of work happens in the standing committees of the House. In the previous Parliament, I was on the Standing Committee on Finance. Often when officials presented the actual details of legislation, that was when we really came to understand the impact certain provisions would have. It was easy for members to say on the floor of the House of Commons that they liked certain provisions and disliked others, but it was only when we heard from officials what the nitty-gritty details were, the sausage making, what is in a man's heart, to go back to that Yiddish proverb, that we knew what was in the legislation and what was being done.
It is important that we take the time to give this bill its full consideration. This deal is important. In it, $21.2 trillion of GDP is being considered by the House of Commons and then by the Senate. I do not want to rush through this work and give the Senate a bill that we have not thoroughly considered. Every member who wishes to speak should be afforded time, because they represent their constituencies.
The people who sent us here do not expect us to rubber-stamp. We are not slot machines. I used to say that quite often in the previous Parliament when time allocation was moved. That is not the role of parliamentarians. We are here to debate. That is the very meaning of the word “Parliament”. This is supposed to be about that. I get to hear viewpoints from other members and I learn something from other members too. I did not know that the member for had aluminum producers in his riding. I do not have them in mine.
I have a foundry in my riding, one of the very last foundries in Alberta.
As my time has expired, I look forward to the questions and comments.
Madam Speaker, Canada is a trading nation and the Unites States is by far our largest trading partner. Of our exports, 75% go to the U.S., and 51% of our imports come from the U.S. Mexico is our fifth-largest trading partner.
In that context, I am happy to address the House today about the benefits of the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement and to encourage all members in the House to support Bill .
Our government spent over a year negotiating a modernized free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico. Our goal was to negotiate a deal that was good for Canadian workers, Canadian businesses and communities across the country. We negotiated a deal that would protect Canadian jobs, create more opportunities for Canadian workers and their families and ensure the growth of our economy.
From farmers in Alberta to auto workers in Windsor to entrepreneurs in St. John's and Surrey, the new NAFTA will benefit Canadians in every corner of the country.
The agreement we were able to achieve is particularly impressive, given the challenges we faced at the outset. We made the best of a challenging situation, because no other outcome was acceptable.
Trade between Canada and the U.S. is of vital importance. We were dealing with a U.S. president who said that NAFTA was the worst trade deal in history. He was determined to tear it up. He slapped tariffs on our steel and aluminum. What did we do? We stood up for the Canadian steel and aluminum industries, and in the end we won.
Canadians had every reason to be worried about all this. The fact we have a deal is a testament to Canada's determination and patience.
This will be the third major trade agreement signed by our Liberal government. The trans-Pacific partnership and CETA are the other two. The ratification of CUSMA will put trade uncertainty behind us. This is a big win for Canada, such a big win that even the Premier of Ontario is on board. Provincial and territorial leaders have urged all federal parties to ratify CUSMA and have warned against playing political games.
The sad truth is that the Conservatives and the NDP do not bring much to the table except political games.
The Conservatives seem to hate it when Canada does well. They say that Canada is an economic failure. They dismiss any good news. They run Canada down. They dismiss the hard work of Canadians who have created over one million jobs in the last four years.
Instead of celebrating the hard work of Canadians that has made Canada and Canada's economy one of the strongest in the world, what do they do? The Conservatives paint a picture of doom and gloom. I encourage the members opposite to stand up for Canada's future, to be proud of Canada's accomplishments, to celebrate what we have achieved together and to ratify CUSMA.
My colleagues from the NDP have joined forces with the Bloc Québécois to drag out the ratification of this trade deal. I am not sure why they want to drag things out, but I am sure that the deal before us is the deal we have and no stalling tactics or delays will change that. Much like the Conservatives, they dismiss the good things that were achieved in CUSMA.
I would think that the NDP and the Bloc would recognize that this deal is progressive trade in action. It has the strongest labour and environment chapters ever to be included in a trade agreement. It removes the investor-state dispute settlement provisions of NAFTA, a key demand of the NDP. CUSMA also has strong protection for women and indigenous peoples.
I am not sure why the NDP wants to delay the implementation of these progressive reforms. We should work together as colleagues, put Canada and Canadians first and get this important bill passed without delay.
In December, Canada signed an amending protocol that makes significant improvements to CUSMA. It strengthens state-to-state dispute settlement, labour protection, environmental protection, intellectual property and the automotive rules of origin and will help keep the most advanced medications affordable for Canadians. These changes are all in Canada's best interest, and they make CUSMA an even better deal.
For residents of my constituency of Surrey—Newton and all of British Columbia, it means access to the U.S. market and the 20.3 billion dollars' worth of exports that B.C. sends to the U.S. every year. It means stability for B.C. workers in the lumber, oil and processed food sectors. It means B.C.'s agricultural goods continue to benefit from duty-free access for nearly 89% of U.S. agriculture tariff lines and 91% of Mexican tariff lines. The agreement also protects the $2.1 billion in B.C. exports to the U.S. market.
CUSMA preserves NAFTA's chapter 19, which gives Canada access to an independent and impartial process to challenge U.S. or Mexican anti-dumping and countervailing duties. That is good news for British Columbia's softwood lumber industry and its $4.3 billion in U.S. exports.
In the previous Parliament, I had the pleasure of sitting on the international trade committee with former MP Linda Lapointe from Quebec. During a trip to Washington, we met with U.S. negotiators and it was Linda who maintained that the cultural exemption component be kept. At that time, U.S. negotiators were not concerned about this issue. However, this is very important for the French language in Quebec and cultural industries throughout Canada.
CUSMA is the result of a long, difficult and challenging negotiation. We made it through and have a deal before us that will help Canadians build a better Canada. Let us pass it and let them get to work.
Madam Speaker, this debate on CUSMA is an opportunity to learn the details and ramifications of the agreement. This is not about playing politics. People are just trying to do their jobs. As members of Parliament, our job is to work for the people who are put at risk by this agreement. The Bloc Québécois has never been against free trade. Quite the opposite, actually. However, on this side of the House we will not rubber stamp anything.
This agreement, which was negotiated behind closed doors, once against sacrifices Quebec's economy. It is very sad to see history repeating itself. One example is the aluminum industry, which was sacrificed. We have spoken about that a lot in recent weeks. Another example is the agriculture and agri-food industry and our supply-managed agricultural products. The Canadian government, the same government that promised to prevent further breaches, ultimately sacrificed our supply-managed agricultural products. Once again, the government's defeatist position is that it could have been much worse.
When sacrifices need to be made, it often falls on Quebec to make them. It should therefore come as no surprise if, one day, Quebeckers decide that their interests would be much better served by an independent Quebec, where the Quebec nation could choose the agreements it signs after negotiating them itself.
In the meantime, we are here to promote and protect our people's interests. I repeat: There are no political games being played here. There are only dedicated people doing their jobs.
I want to make members of the House and people across the country aware of the enormous sacrifices that have been asked, particularly of farmers. It all started with the creation of the WTO, which replaced GATT. That is when the first breaches occurred. In subsequent negotiations, foreign countries have called for either the elimination of supply management or a larger share of the market. The Canadian government assured us on many occasions that it would not touch supply management again. It is still saying the same thing when we ask questions about Brexit. Nevertheless, the government has capitulated on several occasions.
On February 7, 2018, the House unanimously agreed to a Bloc Québécois motion to ensure there would be no breach in supply management. One month later, on March 8, 2018, the Liberal government went back on its word by signing the TPP, complete with the breaches the U.S. demanded even though it was no longer part of the agreement. How does that make sense?
Prior to that, on September 26, 2017, the Bloc had moved a motion to fully preserve supply management during NAFTA negotiations. A year later, on November 30, 2018, Canada signed CUSMA, caving in once again. According to dairy producers, the government gave up 1.4% of the market in negotiations with Europe, 3.1% in the trans-Pacific partnership, and another 3.9% this time around. The last three agreements alone have taken away 8,4% of our market share. According to the dairy producers' numbers, foreign countries will have a total of 18% of our market once these agreements are all fully implemented in 2024. If that is a closed market, I would like to know what constitutes an open one.
None of our trading partners are giving up that much market share. This is appalling. Our farmers will never be able to recover what they lost. The cost to producers alone will be $1.3 billion per year.
Then they talk to us about compensation, but the money is always slow in coming, because it requires intense negotiations. Several sectors still have not reached an agreement with the government, and that compensation will only ever be temporary. Nothing will ever replace the market share we are giving up.
The compensation to the dairy sector needs to come in the form of cheques with no strings attached, because that is what the dairy industry is calling for. If some other industry has different demands, those demands should also be met, because the people in the sector know their own needs.
That compensation should therefore come in the form of cheques with no strings attached, not so-called modernization programs that will force businesses to go further into debt than they can afford.
Nothing, not even compensation, can make up for the income that these market losses will cost them. In any case, all our farmers want to do is work and feed the people. That is something we do not hear often enough in the House. Our farmers are proud. Getting a cheque does not make them happy. It is compensation. That is the right word.
That is why the people in this sector do not want to hear any more promises or vague commitments. Those commitments get made all the time, but they are rarely if ever fulfilled. Only the protection a law would offer can end this vicious cycle that is slowly but surely killing off supply management, our agricultural model, our thriving rural communities, and the dynamic use of our land.
I am not sure that every MP in the House appreciates the gravity of these new breaches.
As further proof that we are slowly but surely losing our agricultural model, for the first time in Canada's history, the Canadian government agreed to give the United States control over what Canada exports to countries that are not signatories to the agreement. It is unbelievable. Canada has relinquished its sovereignty. I admit that it is odd for me to talk about a sovereignty other than the one I usually talk about.
Total exports of powdered milk, milk protein, and infant formula will be limited to 55,000 tonnes for the first year and 35,000 tonnes for the following years. Anything over these limits will be heavily taxed, making it impossible to export higher volumes because the product would become too expensive and therefore no longer profitable or attractive.
We need to understand that the United States retained the right to limit our exports. My colleagues in the House who did not realize this may need a few minutes to take in this information. I was blown away.
Think about the logic. If we cede parts of supply management, farmers could be tempted to make up for their losses by exporting their surplus products under different forms. Even then, there will be limits. They are getting it on all sides.
The current Liberal government appears to have wilfully decided to eliminate the supply management system. It is eliminating the system bit by bit, but does not have the courage to do so openly. It is being sneaky and secretive and eroding this system one piece at a time. I must admit that I do not understand why I am accused of playing politics when I make this information public.
The government is completely destroying our land use model and throwing it out the back door. Is that what we want? Some farmers under supply management are wondering whether they should sell their quota while it is still worth something. Is that what we want?
I have not yet spoken about investments. If the owner of a company that is deeply in debt has no security, will he go a few thousand or million dollars more in debt, jeopardizing the long-term prosperity of his business?
The government is asking us to sign the agreement quickly, often invoking the notion of economic security. I have some news for them: People in the dairy industry need security too.
Supply management should be protected by law.
Madam Speaker, I would like to appeal to the Bloc today.
I am sorry, I do not speak French.
I hope to appeal to the Bloc today with a positive, fact-based discussion about the new NAFTA. I have some credibility in this in that in one of my first speeches, I congratulated the Bloc leader on his positive, fact-based, logical approach to Parliament, which is very refreshing. Therefore, through facts and logic, I hope to constructively provide evidence for the decision that I believe will be in the best interests of Quebeckers and to provide reasons for all of us to make this decision in an expedient manner.
If some members are not here to hear my speech, I will be happy to mail it to them.
I am sure the Bloc members would agree that in any international political realm, things can change quickly. Mexico and the U.S.A. are not exempt. If there is a decision requiring an international agreement that is in our favour, I am sure we would all agree that we should not dally. I mostly want to talk about aluminum, but I will first discuss a few other points.
Quebec is a great manufacturing province. If this agreement does not go through, tens of thousands of Quebec jobs would be at risk. This agreement would give Quebec manufacturing protection from tariffs. Quebec has $57 billion in exports to the United States, so we can imagine how many Quebec workers are at risk.
I believe the Bloc is in favour of environmental protection. This trade agreement has more environmental protection than any of our other trade agreements. Imagine what Quebeckers would lose in marine protection, air quality and other environmental protections if this agreement is not signed.
I am sure the Bloc is in favour of improving women's rights. Again, the advancements that would be made in this area would be lost if this agreement fails. Does the Bloc wish to continue to vote against improvements in women's rights?
I imagine the Bloc wishes justice for labour. Again, this agreement has more advances for labour than any other in history. Does the Bloc really want to vote against this improvement?
Under the old NAFTA, companies were suing our government and weakening local protection of our environment, etc. This agreement would eliminate that. Does the Bloc still want to be held hostage to foreign corporations? Quebec companies have access to U.S. government contracts, a provision that will be lost if the new agreement is not signed. Does the Bloc want Quebec workers to lose these types of jobs?
I am sure the Bloc, like the rest of us, is proud of Quebec culture. This agreement would preserve the cultural exemption and 75,000 Quebec jobs in cultural industries. The U.S. wanted to totally dismantle our supply management in Quebec and all of Canada, but this agreement did not let that happen.
Perhaps most importantly, I am sure the Bloc is sensitive to the poor. If this agreement is not ratified, imagine all Quebeckers paying higher prices on thousands of products, because of U.S. tariffs. Who can least afford that? It is the poor. In any agreement there is give-and-take, but where we have given up something, we can compensate, so that is a win-win situation.
In that the millions of Quebeckers I have mentioned so far would benefit from this agreement and have so much to lose without it, would it not be expedient to ratify it quickly in the volatile international political and economic environment?
There is a saying that perfect is the enemy of the good. We could give up a lot of things to try to get one last detail, but we could lose a lot more and put a lot more at risk than the one item we are trying to correct.
Now I will move to aluminum.
The Bloc Québécois has pointed out that almost all Canadian aluminum is made in Quebec, except for the 10% that is made in B.C., but NAFTA would not have an effect on B.C. aluminum, because its market is Asia. Quebec is the big winner in Canada for the gains made by the new NAFTA for aluminum. What are those gains?
First, the regional value content of automobiles would increase from 62.5% to 75%, a big win for Quebec aluminum. Second, 70% of aluminum purchased by automakers must be of North American origin. This protection goes from 0% under the old NAFTA to 70% under the new NAFTA, which is another big win for Quebec aluminum. Third, seven of the core parts of automobiles must contain at least 75% regional value content. These are the core parts of automobiles, such as engines, transmissions, etc. Given that some of these parts have major aluminum components, it is another big win for Quebec aluminum producers.
None of these great wins are mentioned correctly in the Groupe Performance Stratégique report that some of the Bloc members have mentioned. The report also makes an error in saying that it is not possible to change the aluminum requirement for 10 years. Although it will be reviewed in 10 years, it can be changed any time under the auspices of the CUSMA working group on rules of origin.
That report also suggests that six major aluminum projects are on hold because of the new NAFTA, jeopardizing $6.2 billion in investment and about 30,000 jobs. If this were true, which it is not, that number does not come anywhere near the millions of Quebeckers who would benefit from the new NAFTA and the thousands of manufacturing and other jobs the Bloc are putting at risk by not supporting the agreement, as I outlined earlier in my speech.
However, the six investment decisions for the six potential aluminum projects were made prior to the final NAFTA and the aluminum benefits contained therein. Therefore, if anyone is jeopardizing the 30,000 possible jobs, it would be the Bloc because they are putting the benefits of the new NAFTA for aluminum at risk by not supporting it.
I am asking the Bloc to live up to the image I have of them, of being professional, facts-based, logical decision-makers. There are so many benefits for millions of Quebeckers, for the Quebec aluminum industry, for women, for labour, for the environment and for Quebec's great manufacturing employees who are producing $57 billion of exports. Please support all these millions of Quebeckers soon by supporting the agreement, before anything occurs to cause Quebeckers to lose all these benefits.
To give the Bloc members a few minutes to change their minds, I will talk about my riding.
There is benefit in the north for the territories. In my area, it helps preserve 130 or so exports in things like mineral products. There is a general exemption related to the rights of indigenous peoples, which is very important for my riding. Trade facilitation and customs procedures are being modernized, which makes it easier to get across the border in remote locations by using electronic processes. Hopefully that will be very helpful.
There is stability and predictability for Canadian investors and service suppliers who do work in the United States. There is special temporary access to the United States, as well, for those Canadian companies that are providing services or for their investors. They can get in and out of the States more quickly and easily than people from other companies. There is also a new chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises, which is most enterprises in my riding, with enhanced opportunities for promoting small and medium-sized enterprises that are focused on women and indigenous groups.
The other two territories have all the same types of benefits. The Northwest Territories exports $3 million in precious gems. In Nunavut, there are a number of exports including sculptures, so all of these things will help them out as well.
I hope I have convinced my Bloc Québécois colleagues of the many benefits for Quebec and that they won't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but get these things in place as soon as possible, before we are in jeopardy of losing them.
Madam Speaker, as part of my time debating Bill , the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement, or CUSMA, also known as the new NAFTA, I have some questions that my constituents and Canadians deserve answers for.
The Conservative Party has a long trade record and understands the importance of global trade. The previous Conservative government negotiated trade deals with over 40 countries.
In my community of Kelowna—Lake Country, we have many sectors that rely on international trading. We are the largest trading area between Vancouver and Calgary, with now the 10th-busiest airport in Canada.
A report from the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission laid out a sector overview. Manufacturing in my community includes agri-food and high-tech aerospace, with metal, plastic, wood, concrete and fibreglass products. It anticipates that fabricated metal, non-metallic, mineral and transportation equipment manufacturing, as well as plastics, rubber products and beverages, will lead the way in growth. The cross-section of manufacturers makes it easy for existing and new businesses to find high-quality partners locally.
When China started embargoes on Canadian farming products, local cherry producers in my community were concerned that they would be next and started looking to potentially expand their exports to the United States and other markets. It is therefore very important to farmers and all businesses that we have stable and clearly outlined trading relationships.
NAFTA was not perfect, but it has been good for Canada, with $2 billion in trade crossing the border every day. The United States is our largest trading partner, representing 75% of Canadian exports.
I understand that the majority of major industry associations in Canada and the group, Canada's Premiers, are encouraging us to ratify the CUSMA deal. Canada's Premiers has stated, “Beyond seeking the ratification of CUSMA, Premiers are still prioritizing engagement with the U.S. to deal with other trade issues including Buy American policies and the softwood lumber dispute.”
Why was the buy American policy not addressed in CUSMA? Mexico got a buy America chapter in CUSMA, but Canada did not. There was no procurement chapter.
There has been a lot of uncertainty for four years. We have lost business opportunities and investments are on hold. Many people just want to be able to move forward with clarity. Goldy Hyder from the Business Council of Canada has said that the signed new NAFTA is “good enough” for Canada and “gets us through this administration.”
I will tell members about an industry that thinks the CUSMA agreement is good enough but is no further ahead, like so many other industries we hear about across the country with this deal. This is the wine industry specifically in British Columbia. Ontario also has uncertainty.
Just this past Monday I was speaking with Miles Prodan, executive director of the British Columbia Wine Institute. I have his approval to bring his comments forward in the House today. He stated, “We accept and support moving forward with CUSMA. However, there is nothing better and nothing more advantageous for our wine industry. A status quo was a win for us.” He is referring to the 281 VQA wineries his organization represents in B.C., 32 of which are located in my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country. “A status quo was a win for us.”
This is at a time when Canada is having a potentially devastating wine excise tax trade dispute with Australia. As I mentioned in the House yesterday, in 2018, following the Liberal government's introduction of an escalator tax for beer, wine and spirits, Australia requested a review from the World Trade Organization of Canada's exemption for 100% Canadian wines. This tax basically means automatic tax increases each and every year.
The draft report of this WTO review is anticipated in April, with a final report coming sometime this summer. A WTO ruling against Canada would be legally binding and could have a catastrophic effect on some 400 Canadian wineries, forcing them to bear the burden of millions of dollars of new taxes and putting this important industry and Canadian jobs on the line. This shows again a lack of clear understanding and thoughtful consideration by the Liberals of the ramifications of their tax policies and decisions.
On January 16, those of us from across the country who have wineries in our communities signed a letter to the . It was led by our colleague, the member for , the Conservative shadow minister for international trade. It asked the government to engage with Australia to resolve the dispute prior to the WTO ruling. We received a response from the minister on January 31, and in the letter the minister said:
Australia's position on the excise duty exemption has been unwavering and clear. Any negotiated settlement must include the removal of the excise exemption for Canadian wines in its entirety, and this was confirmed to Canadian officials as recently as December 2019.
I bring this up today as this is a trend we are seeing with trade negotiations with the current government, an attitude of, “They drew a line in the sand, so what are you going to do?”
The Australian government could be responding in this way because Australia, like many other countries, was not happy with Canada due to the 's no-show for the trans-Pacific partnership. This was a trade deal that the Prime Minister just had to sign. Reports are that TPP's signatories, including Australia, were outraged.
Regarding CUSMA negotiations, the chairman of the U.S. House ways and means committee said that the and conceded on just about every point they raised for one reason: “enforceability, enforceability, enforceability.” What other concessions did we agree to that prompted such a statement?
If nothing else, the government is consistent. The attitude that we have heard on how Canada negotiated with the U.S. with concession after concession in CUSMA, we see here again on the Australia trade issue. This laissez-faire, “what are you going to do” attitude is not serving Canadians or families well.
Another major sector left out of CUSMA discussions was our softwood lumber industry in British Columbia. We lost thousands of jobs this past year, bringing the total to some 50,000 job losses over the last few years. I have spoken in the House about how this has directly affected my community of Kelowna—Lake Country, where 217 permanent jobs were lost.
The sustainable resource sector has been hit hard and is currently being forced to pay tariffs to the United States. Why was the softwood lumber industry left out of CUSMA? So much for supporting the middle class.
It is our duty as parliamentarians to think deeply and look at legislation closely. These calls by the government to hurry up and move it along are not responsible. These are not just numbers we are talking about. We are talking about lives, families and jobs. With the reckless Liberal “push it through” attitude, I seriously wonder whose jobs the Liberals are more concerned about.
The ratification process is slightly different in each country. In June of last year, this deal was ratified by the Mexican senate. Due to modifications made to the agreement, it was re-ratified in December. In the United States, debate proceeded in the House of Representatives in September 2019. It was passed in the House in December 2019, and the U.S. Senate passed the bill on January 16, 2020.
I can appreciate that we had an election, but we were all elected back in October. After the election, Conservatives were calling on the government to call the House back on November 25 as we needed to roll up our sleeves and get back to work on behalf of Canadians. This fell on deaf ears, and the did not call the House back until December 5.
The CUSMA deal had to be reintroduced after the election, but the government did not table Bill until January 29. We are now debating it much later than our trading partners, and are being asked to hurry up. It was simply reckless and irresponsible that the government waited so long to reintroduce the legislation. It is important for us to do our proper due diligence, in particular since the government has still not presented us with an economic impact analysis. This is something we, the official opposition, have repeatedly requested for almost two months now and have yet to receive.
We heard that the government had an economic impact analysis, but two days ago here in the House the said that the government would present it once it is complete.
Was one actually done? Was it done only on certain sectors? Is it incomplete? Is there information that there are industries where the analysis is not positive, and the Liberals do not want the information disclosed yet? These are all questions that we need answered.
Conservatives support and want free trade with the United States. We are the party of trade deals with our closest allies. NAFTA is a legacy from the Conservatives. Our Canadian businesses deserve certainty, and we should not be rushed into this important vote without having answers to the questions we are asking. It is our job as parliamentarians, and we owe that to the communities we serve. I urge everyone to take this information to committee so that we can delve into some of these questions properly.
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to intervene in this discussion. I represent Windsor West, which is right on the Detroit border in the United States.
Our peninsula Windsor-Essex County has been a trading component of our nation from its creation, from our first nations that were in the area and still are to this day, and we are working on reclaiming some of their rights for many reasons of colonialism, to the French settlement, followed by the British settlement. It is the oldest European settlement west of Montreal. I represent Sandwich Town.
About 40,000 vehicles, 10,000 of them trucks, per day traverse through my riding. The 40,000 vehicles not only bring as passengers visitors, but up to 10,000 doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who work in the Detroit region daily.
It was the founding of the logging industry originally, but most recently it has been the hotbed for the auto industry and manufacturing. Trade with the United States has been part of our way of life. It is our people who are interchanged, so the Canada-U.S. relationship is very important because families live on both sides of the border.
I have an American aunt. This is a normal thing: we have Canadians and Americans in our family units and our working units as well. Even our sports and culture are very much there.
We see American flags in my riding, but we will not find any fiercer Canadians, especially when it comes to issues like being against the war in Iraq, where Windsor and other areas fought to keep us out of that war.
I remember the days of debates here in the House of Commons, when Canada was going in that direction and we pulled ourselves back from that. A relationship is knowing when to tell a friend when they are wrong. Knowing when to intervene is something is the strength of a relationship, not a weakness by any means.
This agreement is important, no doubt. We have to look at the previous agreement and what takes place. There are some important things that need to be clarified in the debate. First of all, this agreement coming back to us is better and improved because the Liberal government did not do its job. Liberals did not want to listen to Tracey Ramsey, the former member for Essex, who forced and focused on the issues of the environment, dairy and labour that should have been in the original agreement.
In fact, there were Liberals who would say certain negative things all the time, but this bill is coming back in this chamber for this vote because Liberals did not do their job. They do not want to have to be here. They would have loved to have dealt with this the first time, but the reality is Democrats were able to take Congress. When they took Congress, the Democrats had the opportunity to fix the deal, and they did.
I have heard in the chamber, many times, members pushing the government to support Democrats to get this improved, when they did nothing. They stayed down on it because it is a Trump-Trudeau deal. That is the reality of this deal in itself. We now have—
Madam Speaker, I did say that, so I retract it.
I will continue to advocate that people need to fix this deal to bring it to an improved place. We have to measure it against what it was in the previous deal. We currently have some serious problems with it.
The original free trade agreement had significant consequences for a riding like mine, Windsor West, and manufacturing in particular. When the free trade deal was signed by Mulroney, the problem was that the manufacturing sector was destroyed. There were 400,000 jobs lost in manufacturing. It was one of the things that was exposed as part of doing the deal.
What we lost under the free trade deal was the Auto Pact. The Auto Pact was a special trading relationship we had with the U.S. for the manufacture and sale of automobiles in the United States, the world's largest market at that time. That built our robust industry. In the riding I represent, the Ford family and others who had factories and plants on both sides of the border invested heavily in Canada because of the Auto Pact.
After we signed the free trade agreement, that special relationship we had was challenged in the WTO by Japan, and it was struck down. Instead of fighting that WTO decision, the Chrétien government accepted it. Since then we have gone from number two in the world in auto assembly to number 10.
This current deal has some higher thresholds for automotive components, construction and assembly, but the sad fact is we are not doing the jobs much anymore, so it does not matter if the quota is raised. That is why, in the absence of a national auto strategy, something we have implored the government to develop, we will have further erosion, concerns and problems.
The original deal was sent by the Liberals to Washington, and the subsequent deal was fixed by people in Washington with respect to labour rights to give us some better protections. However, we have still seen plants close and move to Mexico. We have also seen new opportunities being created in Detroit, two miles across the river. In the Windsor-Detroit region, General Motors just closed a plant in Oshawa and is now building electric vehicles and a battery plant in the U.S.
What is amazing is that the Liberals often brag about $6 billion in auto investments since they have been in government. When they had a super-majority government and support from us and others to do a national auto strategy, they never did anything about it, but they brag about that $6 billion. Most of that was actually plant refurbishment that was being done without them anyway.
If we compare that investment to others, Detroit alone is up to $16 billion of investment. There we have rejuvenation and a fight for jobs taking place, and it affects workers and their families. It is very significant for their future because the new age of automation in auto is here, and Canada does not even have a battery plant.
In our city of Windsor we produced the award-winning Pacifica hybrid vehicle, and the government left it off the incentive list for the new eco rebate program. The came down to Windsor, toured the plant that I worked in, stood on the line with the men and women who were building an award-winning vehicle and asked them to subsidize foreign vehicles for other Canadians. We could get a foreign vehicle from that list, yet the vehicle produced in their own community, which pays taxes into the coffers of the government, was left off the list.
What was unbelievable about it was that because it is multi-passenger, this vehicle is cleaner and greener, and we still had to fight to get it on the list.
Our point for this process is to look at this trade agreement. We need to move it to committee and examine it. If we think we are just going to sign it and all these jobs are going to come, it does not happen like that.
If we look at when we sign all our trade agreements, we often go into trade imbalances. We have significant trade imbalances from many of our deals. We hear all the time about all the jobs that are going to come, but they are never value added and they always come with a big subsidy from the government because there is no plan. That has to change. It is time to fight for our manufacturers.
Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure I join the debate this afternoon on the new NAFTA, or NAFTA .7 as I like to call it. There are a lot of things that we can agree on in this new NAFTA legislation but there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Our job here is to review legislation, to review new agreements as they come forward. People in our ridings sent us to Ottawa to make sure we do due diligence on legislation, and everyone in this room would agree with that.
I have been listening to members opposite. Some of our Liberal colleagues have spoken to this legislation. To quote a member earlier, “We can always do things...better.” We would all agree with that. That is why we need to look at this agreement through a lens. We need to find out what we received in return for the concessions we made to the Americans.
Canada came to the table too late. Mexico and the United States had been negotiating far too long without Canada being represented at that table. This came down to the eleventh hour. The Mexico-United States agreement had moved far beyond where we left off in our discussions and negotiations with our partners in this trilateral agreement. Members opposite made a mistake. Canada was not at the table soon enough and we were not fighting for our industries hard enough.
We do have a lot of questions with this deal going forward.
I grew up on a dairy and beef farm in Rush Lake, Saskatchewan. I have a lot of friends who are still in the dairy industry. The member from Winnipeg said conversations were had with the dairy industry. Representatives from Dairy Farmers of Canada have been here over the last couple of days, and that is fantastic. Our conversations may be a bit different than what members on the opposite side had.
There are concerns with what has been going on and many questions were asked. Dairy farmers feel that the CUSMA negotiations went far beyond dairy market access concessions. The agreement also concedes the equivalent of a worldwide cap on the export of certain Canadian dairy products. It requires a level of consultation with the U.S. on any changes to the administration of Canada's supply management system.
By requiring the Canadian dairy sector to consult with the U.S. on any proposed changes to our system, the government has given up some sovereignty over our domestic and international decision-making. That is a problem for any industry, whether it is dairy, softwood, forestry or the auto industry. Any time a Canadian industry feels like it has given up some of its sovereignty to another country or given up international market options is a problem for any agreement we move forward on as a government. Those are valid concerns. Some of my friends back home in this industry have big concerns.
CUSMA requires any export of skim milk powder, milk protein concentrate and infant formula beyond a specified amount be charged an export charge on each additional kilogram of product exported globally. This requirement goes well beyond what would normally be expected in a trade negotiation. It will affect dairy exports to all countries, not only the signatories of the agreement, namely, the United States and Mexico. This sets a dangerous precedent for future trade agreements for all other commodities, including agriculture.
These are some concerns that we have to take very seriously moving forward. When an industry says this will set a dangerous precedent for other industry sectors moving forward, that should make us pause and take a step back.
I am looking forward to having some of these conversations when this legislation gets to committee so that we can figure out exactly what we received in return for these concessions with one of our more important sectors. What did we receive from the American negotiators after we conceded quite a bit in our dairy sector in the U.S.-Mexico trade agreement? There are other questions going forward.
Dairy farmers are hard-working people. They have no days off. It is 24-7 work. Dairy farmers cannot have a sick day because the cows still need to be milked. We need to make sure that we have the backs of our dairy farmers when we are negotiating these agreements. They do a wonderful job.
Our milk and cheese products are the best in the world. When we move forward, we should do it together to ensure that we have fair trade deals and that the dairy industry knows we are there for it.
We have had a lot of conversations about aluminum. My colleagues from Quebec have done an amazing job bringing forward the issue China sending ingots to Mexico, where they are melted down and can then be considered as North American aluminum. We very much need to have conversations about this loophole to ensure our aluminum producers and manufacturers can have their world-class product be considered ahead of a product being shipped into Mexico, melted down and then sent out for auto parts. That conversation very much needs to be had. I appreciate those members bringing the issue forward.
EVRAZ steel is on the border of Regina—Lewvan, my riding. If steel had that deal, then aluminum should have that as well. This is another thing we should talk about at committee. Stakeholders come to committee meetings so we can have these in-depth conversations and figure out how we can help our aluminum sector going forward. These conversations are best suited for committee.
With the time we are given, a lot of issues can be discussed on the floor of the House, but there needs to be more time to go through in detail some of the concessions we made to our American partners.
To go back to my original point, we made those concessions because we were not at the table soon enough. We let Mexico and the United States go too far down the path of an agreement without our being at the table to have those conversations, having a strong voice there to ensure that our industries were supported and that they knew we were there to support them.
Another industry we fell short on was softwood lumber. Softwood lumber suppliers in northern Saskatchewan have concerns about this going forward. We hope that when we get to committee, some of the stakeholders have those conversations with committee members.
We talked about going fast and going slow. My Liberal colleagues have said that we have not been consistent on what we would like to see. The Conservatives would like to see a strong deal. We would like to see all sectors supported. We would have liked to see a government that did not let this go so far down a path that it had to go on bended knee, begging for a good deal at the eleventh hour.
The Conservatives would have liked to have seen strong negotiations taking place long before it happened. We would have liked to have seen the government bring forward the deal before the middle of December so we could actually look at it. We would have liked to have seen an economic analysis on how this deal would affect all these sectors before we voted on it.
The Liberals have talked about the premiers wanting this deal to be passed to allow for certainty. I would like to know how the 16-year sunset clause will be negotiated. Every six years, there is supposed to be a review. What is the process for that to take place?
The Conservatives have a lot of questions going forward. From our standpoint, as legislators we want to do our due diligence so our constituents, the people who have sent us here, know we are doing our jobs.
I am looking forward to having these conversations in committee and moving forward. I want to be a partner with all parties in this chamber so we can get the best deal for all those sectors. We want to ensure that we have a stronger economy for all Canadians and that there are good-paying jobs in these sectors going forward.
Madam Speaker, as this is my first time rising for a debate, I want to begin by thanking the people of my riding, Repentigny, who put their trust in me once again last October. I hope to be worthy of their trust.
I will address two aspects of this debate, namely dairy producers and, of course, aluminum.
I will talk about the lack of consideration for the dairy farmers of Quebec from a completely different perspective than people might expect. That perspective is necessary because we have to find solutions. This is imperative.
I will start by reminding hon. members that Quebec's dairy producers are resilient. They live and breathe their work 365 days a year. They look after their herd, invest in their facilities and prepare the next generation. It is not easy, because the economic outlook is something of a concern.
I invite hon. members to put the numbers aside and give a thought to the human dimension of the consequences of agreements on a top-notch nourishing industry.
The member for and the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food came to a sad conclusion in the summer of 2019. They heard testimony from artisanal farmers and agricultural producers who were struggling and facing real psychological distress. If you know what rural areas are like, you know that people in the regions help each other and work together. However, when pressures, obligations and constraints increase, but protections disappear, distress is inevitable.
Would it be fair to think that, since the launched a campaign acknowledging that the agricultural industry is struggling, the agreement should work along the same lines instead of causing the industry any additional distress?
In Quebec, the Au cœur des familles agricoles organization has been instrumental in this area for 10 years now. Since 2016, in collaboration with the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and the Union des producteurs agricoles, the organization has trained 1,200 industry workers to recognize psychological distress in farmers and direct them to specialized resources.
As we have said in the House, supply management is an economic model that suits Quebec well. It goes well with our culture. This economic and trade model is what allows for stability and predictability, which was exactly what the agriculture industry asked for during negotiations for this new agreement.
In its current form, CUSMA's provisions and economic repercussions for Quebec's dairy industry are troubling. The Bloc Québécois strongly believes we must condemn all of the harms that our dairy farmers will suffer. We will never stop demanding that this government and the House respect Quebec, and we will never stop calling for consistency and integrity on this file.
We have been doing this for two months now, but I will now set the record straight yet again on the aluminum industry's position on CUSMA.
The House has repeatedly heard that Jean Simard, the president and CEO of the Aluminium Association of Canada, agreed with the current CUSMA. However, Mr. Simard made his position clear to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance yesterday. My colleague from asked him straight out whether he would rather have had an agreement like the one the steel sector got. Mr. Simard answered that this was what the association had asked for and was about to get, thanks to the efforts of Ms. Freeland and her team. However, at the end of the negotiations, Mexico said yes to steel but no to aluminum for strategic reasons.
Mr. Simard gave the committee an honest answer. We know that a committee involves multiple stakeholders, detailed questions and background work, since members take the time to study the topic being debated by the committee. Mr. Simard's candid answers clearly show that the aluminum industry was hoping to get the same protections as the steel sector.
Where in Canada is there a dynamic aluminum industry with tremendous potential for expansion? Where has this industry been creating jobs for decades, well-paying jobs that allow workers to develop professionally, start a family in their region, and in turn, contribute to the regional economic vitality that all levels of government so desperately want?
Well, that place is Quebec.
CUSMA proposes an economic free trade model that will allow aluminum from China to flood the North American market via Mexico. That is what we have been saying over and over for months now.
Parts manufacturing should be done within partner countries under the agreement. However, unlike steel, the metal used for manufacturing could come from anywhere. Mr. Simard was very clear on that point in committee yesterday.
What we want to hear from the government is simply a statement from the Prime Minister along the same lines as what he said the night of his election victory.
Here is what he said: “Dear Quebeckers, I heard your message tonight. You want to continue to go forward with us, but you also want to ensure that the voice of Quebec can be heard even more in Ottawa. And I can tell you that my team and I will be there for you.”
Were those words meaningless, forgotten as soon as they were said?
The Bloc Québécois wants to work in a proactive and practical way to help Quebec's aluminum industry and obtain fair results. We want to work with the government to find solutions. We refuse to accept that this agreement is already settled and that it must absolutely be signed.
The conditions currently set out in CUSMA regarding this industry will cause serious harm to thousands of Quebec workers and Quebec's economy. Since I am our party's environment critic, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the absolutely essential manufacturing process used by the aluminum plants in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region.
Alcoa and Rio Tinto chose the Arvida aluminum plant to establish a research and development centre called Elysis, valued at over $550 million. Together, they will develop all of the technology needed to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the production of aluminum and produce pure oxygen. Does the Prime Minister remember when that project was unveiled? He was at the project launch in 2018.
The aluminum industry is not only changing and developing its potential with a clean, renewable and nationally owned source of energy, but it is also producing aluminum using a zero-emission technology developed in Quebec. How many inconsistencies must we point out before the government does the right thing?
Since I am running out of time, I will not talk about the importance of concrete action to reduce GHG emissions. The aluminum industry is on the right track, and I encourage members of the House to review this issue and be honest with their caucuses about what I am saying.
Let me be clear: The Bloc Québécois is not against free trade. Nevertheless, we believe that, in any trade or other relationship, the parties must communicate, be open, negotiate and make compromises. It would be disingenuous to argue that Quebec's economy was not ignored in the CUSMA negotiations. I gave two examples of that. Members of the House of Commons who claim it was not ignored are, in my opinion, acting in bad faith or are misinformed on the agreement.
We will not ignore what industry representatives are telling us. They came to Parliament Hill last week. During the election period, Quebeckers voted for a voice that would raise their concerns here, in this chamber. That is exactly what we are doing and that is exactly what we will continue to do.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House tonight to talk about Bill , the Canada–United States–Mexico agreement implementation act, better known over here as NAFTA 2.0.
Since tonight is my first time addressing the chamber at length since the October election, I want to take a moment to thank those who have sent me here for my second term as the member of Parliament for Saskatoon—Grasswood.
I thank my volunteers. They made it possible for me to come into the chamber tonight for the 43rd Parliament. As well, I think everyone in the House would agree that our spouses are the most important. In this case, yes, my wife Ann has had to put up with me for 42 years now. It has been a long time, but we have had a great journey, and for the first time, during the election I also had my two children, Courtney and Geoff, door knock in Saskatoon—Grasswood, which is probably another story, but we certainly enjoyed it as a family.
It is my privilege to talk about this bill, because it is the most important bill in the 43rd Parliament. It would affect every territory and province in this great dominion. The relationship between Canada and our neighbour to the south, without question, is our most important relationship. Most of our trade is with our partners in the United States, including 75% of our exports and over 50% of our imports. Between goods and services, our bilateral trade with the United States is almost $900 billion. The original NAFTA deal that was put together by Prime Minister Mulroney and the Conservative government has done this country a great deal of service. We have all enjoyed free trade.
At this time, I would also like to speak of the member for , who spoke earlier on this bill. Without question, he is one of the greatest trade ministers we have ever had in this country. We went from five agreements all the way up to 55. He is known around the world. I went to Taiwan, which had great things to say about the member for Abbotsford and the trade agreement that he brought during the Harper years. It should be recognized in the House that the member is still with us and is a valuable contributor. He spoke the other day on this agreement and had several very good points.
It was kind of a surprise that Mexico is our third-largest trading partner, so NAFTA 2.0 is very much front and centre in this country. The three countries are very close, both economically and politically. As well, at this time of year, many Canadians go to Mexico for weeks or months, and they know how important it is for Mexico, the United States and Canada to get along.
The importance, though, of this trading relationship is felt particularly strongly in my province of Saskatchewan. It is a trading province. It has a population of 1.2 million people, roughly, and exports more than it takes in, which it always has and hopefully always will, from agriculture to energy to manufacturing. Much of the provincial economy, more than 50%, is dependent on trade both within Canada and outside Canada. That is why it is important to recognize that Saskatchewan's premier, Scott Moe, is in Washington today with the . Trade is foremost in my province of Saskatchewan. We are dependent upon the NAFTA 2.0 agreement. Every community in my province of 1.2 million people depends on the NAFTA 2.0 agreement. Let me get that out into the open.
Conservatives from coast to coast understand exactly how important this trade is. Conservatives negotiated, as I mentioned, the original NAFTA. We did all the heavy lifting of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union and worked with the government of Israel to expand and modernize our agreement with that country. There are dozens of other countries that the Conservatives have negotiated new trade agreements with as well, such as South Korea, Honduras and Panama. The world is ours.
In this country, we produce more than we can use. We have a population of only 37 million, so it is important that we have trade with each and every country in the world if we can do it.
As I have mentioned, perhaps more than any other province or territory in this dominion, Saskatchewan has benefited from the increased trade between Canada and our international partners. The economy in my province of Saskatchewan is growing like it has never grown before. With it, the population is growing, including 80,000 new jobs since 2007, largely due to the increase in trading opportunities created by the previous Conservative government for nine and a half years. Exports from Saskatchewan are up nearly 60% in that same time frame, and now our province ships to over 150 countries around the world.
I was in Regina on Monday for the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association address. Our premier has an ambitious growth program for our province. In 2030, we want to get another 100,000 people in our province and we want to increase our trade by another 50%. We can see that this agreement here is front and foremost in the province of Saskatchewan.
What has this meant? It has meant more for young people now who no longer have to go to Alberta to search for jobs. We have new schools in our province for the first time in a long time. We have young families who can stay home in Saskatchewan and share their families with grandma and grandpa. We have infrastructure, and the province makes investments in services for the people of my province.
It is concerning that the current government has not been able to live up to this record. In fact, it has been hurting our trade relationships. I will give a couple of examples.
Saskatchewan's minister of trade reported that Saskatchewan's exports to India alone plummeted from roughly $2 billion in 2015 when we left government, to only $650 million in 2018. Let us think about that. India was one of our biggest trading partners when the Conservatives left in 2015, and now my province of Saskatchewan is suffering at only $650 million. Our agriculture sector in particular is so tied to trade with India, in chickpeas and so on. We know all about that. I might add that part of the problem has been the 's trip to India. It has hurt the provincial economy.
Trade is important in our province. I cannot emphasize that enough. In light of the current government's weakness on this file, to compensate and to further our province's trading relationships around the world, Saskatchewan's provincial government has had to open new international offices in Japan, India and Singapore. I ask members to think about that. Our provincial government has had to go out and seek new trading partners because the federal government has let us down in the province of Saskatchewan. We now have trade offices in India, Singapore and Japan. These kinds of actions are so important because the people of Saskatchewan know how difficult it can be when we are facing uncertainty in our trading relationships.
The Saskatchewan caucus has heard over and over again from our producers, our workers and our unions about how the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum hurt Saskatchewan workers and producers.
I want to thank a number of people from our caucus because they have raised some flags in this trade agreement. For the member for there is the softwood lumber issue where we have lost tens of thousands of jobs for B.C. Regarding automotive, our MP has certainly stood up in this House and talked about the differences in this trade agreement. On aluminum, there is our member for . We all know that Quebec aluminum is the greenest and best in the world, and yet we are being penalized with NAFTA 2. There appears to be a cap on milk exports that we have talked about before in the House.
In closing, it will be an interesting time. We want to see this bill go to committee. We want to bring in many stakeholders because it is the stakeholders who in the next six years will have the biggest say on this NAFTA.
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak in the House on the NAFTA, both in my role as a member of Parliament for the great riding of Essex and also in my capacity as a member of the international trade committee.
As the House knows, the North American Free Trade Agreement is a legacy of a previous Conservative government. At the time it was introduced, there were a lot of naysayers. Indeed, the Liberals campaigned on their opposition to that agreement and then affirmed it once elected. Twenty-five years later, no one disputes the value of free trade agreements.
Under former prime minister Stephen Harper, Canada signed a record number of trade agreements with over 40 different countries, giving Canadian entrepreneurs unprecedented access to markets across the globe. The Conservative Party's record is clear. We support and want free trade with the United States.
Canada's prosperity is tied to a vibrant export market. In Windsor—Essex, we recognize the importance of trade, particularly for our local agriculture industry and automotive sector. The U.S. is our largest trading partner. Every day, $2 billion in trade crosses our border, representing 75% of all Canadian exports. The region of Windsor—Essex, which encompasses my riding of Essex, boasts the busiest border crossing in North America.
Canada's trade levels with the United States are on the order of nine times more than with our next-largest trading partner, China. As my colleague representing , who was trade minister under the Harper government for four and a half years, said, “The United States will always be our largest trading partner and we had better get that relationship right”. He called this deal a “squandered opportunity”.
Here is a quick list of what Canada gave up or failed to do. The new NAFTA does nothing to address long-standing softwood lumber disputes. This trade negotiation was a perfect opportunity to resolve the buy America provision. Mexico got a chapter on this, but Canada got nothing. The Liberals agreed to major concessions on dairy, eggs and poultry without any American concessions in return. The Liberals agreed to a U.S. veto on any trade negotiations with a non-market economy, such as China. Aluminum was not given the same protocols as steel. Why not?
Despite these flaws, the bottom line is that businesses thrive in a climate of stability. As the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said:
Over the last three years, Canadian businesses have sought certainty on the future of the North American trade relationship....
The CUSMA...was an imperfect but necessary agreement to provide greater predictability in our relations with Canada’s largest trading partner.
As a spokesman for the Business Council of Canada put it, the new NAFTA is “good enough” for Canada, something that “gets us through this administration.”
I echo my colleague from : Canadians deserve more than good enough.
Nevertheless, after years of uncertainty, the majority of Canadian businesses and labour wants this deal ratified. Despite this cautious support, many have also expressed concerns about the details and want to know how this deal is actually going to affect them.
That is our job, as parliamentarians, to find out. It is even more so, given the record of the in dealing with other trade agreements, including the TPP, which was badly mishandled by the government.
We saw a repeat of these unnecessary delays during the new NAFTA negotiations. The Liberals did not work with opposition parties during the negotiation and ratification process and now are rushing to get this deal done. They have not provided documents outlining the economic impacts of the new trade deal despite numerous requests from opposition MPs.
On December 12, members of the Conservative caucus requested the release of the economic impact study. It is now 56 days since the request, and we have yet to see the report. We do not intend to simply rubber-stamp this deal.
One example to illustrate the kind of data needed is an issue close to my heart. Labour has supported the clause that requires 40% of cars produced in Mexico be completed by workers making at least $16 U.S. per hour. There is an assumption that automotive manufacturing jobs will migrate north, and that would be good news for workers in Windsor—Essex if that assumption proves correct. However, because of the lack of analysis, we do not know how many jobs are expected to be created in Canada. An economic impact study would provide a frame of reference for us to track those numbers.
Let us look at another crucial sector: dairy. As the Canadian Federation of Agriculture pointed out, “...concessions made by Canada for supply-managed products will once again negatively impact farmers in these sectors.”
I have met with dairy farmers in my riding of Essex as well as in my office here in Ottawa. Milk classes 6 and 7 have been eliminated and 3.6% of the Canadian market is now opened up to imports. The deal also dictates thresholds for Canadian exports on milk protein concentrates, skim milk, powdered milk and infant formula, something Canada has never agreed to before. Further, if the industry exceeds the thresholds, Canada will add duties to the exports, making Canadian products more expensive and less competitive.
As the Dairy Farmers of Canada suggest, “this sets a dangerous precedent that could affect other sectors in future trade deals as it applies to exports to all countries, not just the signatories of an individual trade agreement.”
The Dairy Farmers of Canada have done an impact study. Its numbers show an 8.4% drop in Canada's milk product, an estimated average of $450 million for dairy farmers and their families. It further projects that by 2024, Canada will have conceded 18% of our domestic market to foreign production.
Another concern is whether foreign dairy products will adhere to the same production standards as produced in Canada. I am told that all milk produced in Canada is free of the artificial growth hormone rBST, which is not the case in the U.S. Quality standards need to be part of the discussions going forward.
Dairy farmers have outlined three action items: one, full and fair compensation for recent trade agreements and ensuring that no more concessions are made in future agreements; two, seeking improvements to the new NAFTA through its implementation to ensure that dairy export penalties apply only to the U.S. and Mexico, not globally; and three, ensuring that agencies like CBSA and CFIA have the resources they need to enforce dairy quality standards and regulations.
Past promises to mitigate such concessions have not materialized. We need to ensure that our producers are properly compensated.
Another troubling aspect of this deal is that aluminum was not afforded the same provision as steel, requiring it to be North American and requiring it to be smelted and poured in one of these three countries. Mexico has no smelting capacity for aluminum. The concern for Canadian manufacturers is that without this provision, imported aluminum that is unfairly subsidized and/or sold at bargain prices from countries like China will be dumped into the Canadian market.
Our Bloc Québécois colleagues have made a compelling case for a thorough study of the impacts of this omission. I look forward to hearing more about the economic impacts to aluminum producers and what my Quebec colleagues propose as mitigation.
I also had a briefing with CAFTA, the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, which represents thousands of farmers. Its statistics underscore the importance of international trade to our producers, as 90% of farmers in Canada depend on trade, 50% of which is with the U.S. and Mexico. As well, value-added products represent a $36-billion export market to 190 nations. Market certainty is key to its members' success. It urges us to ratify the new NAFTA and is committed to working with us on implementation to ensure this and other trade agreements function properly. It is so important to Canada's economic prosperity that we get this right.
In closing, I will reiterate that we intend to do our due diligence. We need to see the ramifications, identify the new NAFTA's weaknesses and its implications for future trade deals, and ensure that there is a plan for those sectors and industries that have been left out. We need to do what we can to mitigate negative impacts.
At the end of the day, Conservatives want the best deal for Canadians, but we also know that Canadians depend on us to find out where this deal falls short. That is what we will do at committee. Along with my colleagues, I look forward to giving the new NAFTA a thorough examination.
Madam Speaker, it goes without saying that you should feel free to do your job as required.
The new NAFTA is not all bad for Canada or, more specifically, for the rest of Canada. It preserves the cultural exemption for Quebec, it protects the automotive industry and steel producers in Ontario, it protects Canada against legal action by American investors. However, the members of the Bloc Québécois are here to represent Quebec, its economy, its workers and its regions. Unfortunately, once again, in the negotiations with the United States, all the concessions made by the Government of Canada were made on the backs of Quebeckers. For the sake of Quebec's regional economic development, the Bloc Québécois cannot accept that. Let me explain why.
First there is aluminum. I asked around and I spoke with my colleague from to find out what the president of the Aluminium Association of Canada, Mr. Simard, said. I think it bears repeating.
My colleague, the member for , asked him whether he would rather have had an agreement like the one the steel sector got. Mr. Simard's answer was clear. He gave that answer in this institution, not in this room, but at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance. He said that this was what the association had asked for and was about to get, thanks to the efforts of Ms. Freeland and her team. However, at the end of the negotiations, Mexico said yes to steel but no to aluminum for strategic reasons.
That strategy is obvious.
Canada sacrificed Quebec's aluminum industry in its negotiations. Because of Canada's decision to let Chinese aluminum flood the North American market by way of Mexico, six aluminum smelter expansion projects in Sept-Îles, Jonquière and Alma may not go ahead.
What is the government promising? It is hinting that compensation is likely. If I represented an industry, that would hardly come as a surprise. That money can be taken and maybe used to build those industries elsewhere. This could be a disaster with severe economic consequences for 60,000 workers.
Businesses across Quebec, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and the North Shore are suffering the consequences of the Trudeau government's refusal to protect Quebec's aluminum. As a result, $6 billion in investments will be put off. The consequences will be devastating.
Madam Speaker, I was saying that over $6 billion worth of investments could be delayed, which would have a significant impact on the construction industry, suppliers and workers across Quebec.
That is not all. Another industry has been left out in the cold and is not getting nearly enough attention in the House: the forestry industry. Unfortunately, the Canada—United States—Mexico agreement has not led to resolution of the softwood lumber conflict, far from it. This conflict has been going on for too long. Washington's unfair tariffs on a range of forestry products are at the root of the softwood lumber crisis. Quebec's new forestry regime was developed specifically to address the United States' demands and to ensure that Quebec would not be accused of having illegal subsidies.
We know the softwood lumber crisis is cyclical and has been for at least 20 years. Quebec has suffered the consequences of sanctions that did not necessarily target its industry. Of course we stand united with Canada's industry, but that hurt us, especially in the early 2000s.
Canada prefers the status quo even though U.S. tariffs have led to the closure of several mills. I would note that problems in the forestry industry affect the vitality of many Quebec towns and cities. These problems have had a devastating impact on the economy of Nédélec, a town in Abitibi—Témiscamingue, where I am from.
The forestry industry accounts for nearly 30,000 direct and indirect jobs in Quebec, mostly in the regions, but also in the cities. These businesses invest an enormous amount of money to increase their productivity while lowering their production costs. To manage that, they have to be financially and generously supported by innovative Government of Canada projects. To remain competitive, we must absolutely modernize our plants, and to do that, we will have to think about improving programs, including those delivered by Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions.
I have enough time to talk about supply management. The new NAFTA weakens our agricultural model in Quebec, and the federal government made a massive concession. This saddens me to no end. By 2024, our dairy producers will lose 18% of their domestic market to foreign production. That represents an annual loss of $450 million.
I found out that in my region, producers living through this economic uncertainty have started selling some of their quotas. As far as I am concerned, that is the beginning of the end. This shows how much uncertainty this free trade agreement is creating for our farmers.
As if that were not enough, this agreement will also let Americans have a say on our commercial practices. I find that simply unacceptable. How can Canada allow the Americans to use export penalties to block our trade with other global markets? This will limit the ability of Canadian products to compete with those of other countries.
What can we do? First, the compensation package for the new NAFTA will have to provide for millions of dollars in compensation for the losses suffered by dairy producers as a result of previous bad agreements. I remind members that if these producers were asked to choose between receiving compensation or being fairly rewarded for their work, they would tell you that compensation is not their choice.
Next, we will have to require that the Americans—