The House resumed from March 10 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, we are on the traditional territory of the Anishinabe Algonquins and my constituents, like other Canadians across the country, will receive great benefits from the ratification of this agreement.
Yukoners, like others, are great traders. A lot of our exports are minerals, and Yukoners will benefit from the lower prices when tariffs are taken off many of the products they buy. This is especially important for low-income people.
In the first six minutes of my speech yesterday, I dealt with the concerns brought up by the other three parties in the House. I appreciate that members of all parties are working together in a non-partisan way to support Canadians in this great endeavour. It is not just here in the House where we have such co-operation and support, but across the country.
Premier Moe of Saskatchewan said that a signed CUSMA trade deal is good news for Saskatchewan and Canada. Premier Jason Kenney of Alberta said that he is relieved that a renewed North American trade deal has been concluded, and Jerry Dias of Unifor has said that this is a much better deal than the deal that was signed 24 years ago.
The reason CUSMA is so important, and why people have such positive views of it, is its many benefits. It makes products from the three countries tariff-free in Canada. It helps low-income people, as I said. It has updates that modernize the agreement, with new chapters. It has benefits for business workers, communities, labourers and the environment, including marine and air protection. I do not think anyone would argue against that.
CUSMA has benefits for the automotive trade. The agreement has a dispute resolution mechanism, which was at risk. It protects our culture, which is related to 650,000 jobs in Canada, 75,000 in Quebec alone. It protects energy, agriculture and agri-foods. It includes language on gender and indigenous job rights, but removes the investor-state provisions so that companies cannot sue the Canadian government anymore. That was an improvement many Canadians were looking for.
CUSMA includes gender equality, enforcement of women's rights, benefits for small and medium-sized businesses and a number of technical trade procedure improvements.
There are a number of things that are brand new in this agreement that we did not have in other agreements related to the environment, women and labour. They all benefit from this agreement.
As I have mentioned at other times when I have spoken about this, there are three or four benefits for the aluminum industry in Canada. I have mentioned a number of reports that talk about the benefits and the tremendous possible damage of not having this agreement for Canada.
I would just like to finish by giving a huge shout-out to our negotiators who were so professional and worked so hard to get this very successful agreement for Canada.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill , the Canada–United States–Mexico agreement implementation act.
I would specifically like to thank my colleague, the member for , for his work on this file. Through extensive negotiation with the government, I am so proud that my colleague secured more openness and transparency for Canada's trade process.
Too often the opposition says that the NDP does not understand trade, but this could not be further from the truth. What we do not support is the neo-liberal trade agenda. New Democrats understand the importance of our trading relationship with the U.S., our largest trading partner, and we believe that a better NAFTA could improve the welfare of all North Americans. We believe that all trade agreements must be transparent, inclusive and forward-looking. They must address important issues, like income inequality, sovereignty and climate change. Above all, they must strengthen human rights. They must be transparent and fair for everyone.
Too many trade agreements are approached with the idea of how to make the rich richer. They focus on growing the wealth and power of those who already hold a great deal of wealth and power. They do not consider bettering the lives of all Canadians.
Certainly, people in southwestern Ontario, in my riding, know all too well what Liberal- and Conservative-negotiated trade agreements have created for them and their families. We see what were once highly productive manufacturing hubs now boarded up. One only has to drive along Dundas Street in London, Ontario to know the history of these trade agreements, and what it means to workers in my riding.
The original NAFTA was negotiated by Conservatives and signed by Liberals in 1994. People were promised jobs, rising productivity and secure access to the largest market in the world. It seemed like we were on the cusp of a dream, and all we had to do was sell our soul to cash in.
What happened was far from that dream, and instead Canadian workers faced a nightmare. Canada lost over 400,000 manufacturing jobs and its textile industry. In addition, Canada paid millions of dollars in court fees and penalties when sued by corporations under the ISDS resolution mechanism.
Despite some improvements, this NAFTA continues a disturbing trend of giving more enforceable rights to corporations in trade agreements than to the real people involved and the environment. Over the last 25 years, because of NAFTA, our North American auto and manufacturing industry has become highly dependent on the integrated supply chain. In fact, automobiles and parts will often cross our borders hundreds of times before a vehicle is completed.
Since 2001, after we lost the Auto Pact, 44,000 Canadian auto jobs were lost. After this devastating announcement at GM in Oshawa a few years ago, Canadians are learning that no amount of language in free trade deals, including the new NAFTA, will stop corporations from leaving Canada and heading to Mexico, where they are taking advantage of a low-wage economy and a country that does not respect the environment.
Workers are left to fend for themselves, despite the fact that the Liberals will say that this agreement is good for the automotive sector. In fact, Liberals also ensured that GM Oshawa had no ties to Canada once they provided a multi-million-dollar bailout, and let the corporation off the hook from ever paying Canadians back.
The Liberals were nowhere to be found when those GM auto workers were fighting for their jobs in Oshawa. They were certainly not on the front lines, desperately searching for answers about their future or their livelihoods.
Interestingly, the Liberals claimed they were working hard for auto workers by signing the new NAFTA last spring. They insisted that the deal was fantastic and no improvements could be made. Funnily enough, the American Democrats proved them wrong. It would seem that the Liberals were not the skilled negotiators they claimed to be.
At every step of the process, the Liberals have said the same thing, that this trade agreement is a great deal. First, they said they were happy with the original NAFTA and did not want to renegotiate. Then they said the first version of CUSMA was the best we could get, and now they say this latest version is the best that they can get. Well which one is it?
When the NDP called on the government to wait to ratify the first version of CUSMA so the Democrats in the States could improve it, said:
Mr. Speaker, what the NDP needs to understand is that reopening this agreement would be like opening Pandora's box ... It would be naive for the NDP to believe that Canadians would benefit from reopening this agreement.
However, the Liberals are now keen to brag about improvements made by Democrats in the United States.
Income and wealth inequality in Canada today is at a crisis level with 46% of Canadians $200 away from financial trouble. Working people, like people in London—Fanshawe, are struggling to get by and the wonders of this new NAFTA, like the old NAFTA, will not materialize for the majority of people in my riding. The fact of the matter is that neo-liberal trade agreements do not work for workers.
New Democrats have been consistent in our calls for a transparent trade process in Canada that makes the government more accountable and allows Parliament to play a greater role than that of a simple rubber stamp.
The Liberals over-promised and under-delivered on holding meaningful public consultations on this agreement.
The NDP believes that in all trade negotiations, the government should consult Canadians and their members of Parliament from all parties in a meaningful, comprehensive and public way.
I would like to address some of the concerns that I have about chapter 11, the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. We are pleased with the elimination of chapter 11; there is no doubt about that. However, it has been replaced with mandatory regulatory co-operation, and further influence has been given to corporations. While, in principle, international regulatory co-operation has the potential to raise standards, experts argue that under the new terms, corporate influence has increased at the expense of public protections, and it limits government's ability to regulate in areas such as toxic chemicals, food safety, rail safety, workers' health and safety, and the environment.
This agreement would give corporations advance notice of new regulations and ensure that they are allowed a consultation process before any regulation goes through a legislative process.
Regulatory co-operation is subject to dispute resolution. This means corporations can still directly challenge government actions, which is the highest form of regulatory chill. Regulators have to vigorously defend proposed regulations and are even required to suggest alternatives that do not involve regulating. They have to provide extensive analysis, including cost benefits, to industry. This makes governments accountable to industry, not to people.
I would also like to address the gender concerns that I have in this agreement. The Liberals promised an entire chapter to promote gender equality, and this was not delivered in CUSMA. The Liberals appear to have abandoned their promise before it could take root. Their limited language regarding the importance of gender equality does not exist, as there is no gender chapter.
Experts testified at the international trade committee that these agreements should not just have a gender chapter, though, but that they must also mainstream gender rights throughout the entirety of an agreement, and that gender equality does not concern only the issues of women entrepreneurs and business owners.
The only chapter that addresses the links between gender and trade in any substantive fashion is the labour chapter. Otherwise, the addition of gender equality language is more superficial than substantive. Labour rights must also address injustices to women, like pay inequity, child labour and poor working conditions. The NDP believes that for an agreement to be truly progressive when it comes to gender rights, it must address the systemic inequalities of all women. The NDP believes that both a gender analysis and a gendered impact assessment must be applied to all trade agreements.
A professor in my hometown of London, Dr. Erin Hannah, testified to the international trade committee:
Overwhelmingly we've put attention on women entrepreneurs in the gender in global trade agenda. That's important.... But the lion's share of women in the developing world work in the informal economy.
We don't have very good tools for assessing the impact of all sorts of things in the lives of women working in the informal economy, but particularly trade....[There are no] methodological tools to study the impact of proposed trade deals on women who are not in the formal economy.
That raise much bigger questions, though, about whether the objective of these initiatives is to bring women into the formal economy, to transition women out of the informal economy into the formal economy. It raises a whole host of other issues. I think it's important to think about how that would change these women's lives. We have a data problem, but we also have an ideological problem.
The NDP believes that, like other socially progressive ideals that can be brought forward in trade agreements, words are not enough. For gender, labour, indigenous, environmental or human rights to be truly advanced, there must be tools in place to achieve that progress. As Dr. Hannah rightfully pointed out, Canada has a lot to do itself on the gender agenda. We do not have pay equity. We do not have universal child care. It is clear that to move forward globally and negotiate progressive trade agreements internationally, nationally we must have domestic tools in place that work effectively.
In conclusion, I would like to talk about indigenous rights. My colleague across the way mentioned that again this deal is absent of any mention of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We believe, in the NDP, that the government must abide by article 19 of the UN declaration and obtain free, prior and informed consent of indigenous people before adopting any measures that may affect them.
As was noted by Pam Palmater at the international trade committee during the conversations about Mercosur, indigenous rights should be addressed throughout the entirety of a trade agreement, not only related to one chapter. She also noted that throughout the Pacific Alliance nations, there are large numbers of indigenous people who experience a great deal of violence from transnational corporations involved in trade. That is certainly something we see in NAFTA.
These are some of the concerns I have about the trade deal, and I appreciate the time that this House has given me to discuss them. I appreciate any questions.
Madam Speaker, I would like to recognize we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people, and I thank my Liberal colleagues for sharing this speaking time with me.
The Green Party will support the new CUSMA. We believe in fair and equitable trade that improves health, safety, labour and environmental standards. I would like to congratulate the Canadian negotiating team for getting this deal done with the Trump administration in the White House. Things could have turned out much worse.
CUSMA is not a perfect agreement. It is still a corporate model of trade. There are deficiencies. Climate change is not mentioned. The softwood lumber agreement has not been fixed. The good regulatory practices chapter could be very problematic. The extension of copyrights was not necessary. Indigenous rights and title are a particular area of concern in both Canada and Mexico. Aluminum was not properly covered in the rules of origin. The dairy industry faces increased imports and constraints on its exports. The negotiating process could still be a lot more transparent and consultative.
However, there are significant wins. The proportionality clause for energy exports has been removed. Labour standards have been improved in Mexico. The rules of origin have been improved. Supply management has been protected. The environmental rules have been strengthened. The cultural industries remain protected.
In my view, removing investor-state dispute settlement provisions, or ISDS, is the biggest win. We need to remove ISDS from all our trade and investment agreements. ISDS gives foreign corporations extraordinary powers to bypass national court systems and challenge domestic laws in a private tribunal system. It gives foreign corporations rights that domestic corporations do not have. Foreign corporations can demand millions and even billions of dollars in compensation from governments for the loss of potential profit when domestic laws and regulations get in the way of their profits.
These secretive tribunals take place behind closed doors, with no public scrutiny or participation from some of the affected parties. Under some treaties, such as the Canada-China FIPA, the public may never know that a tribunal took place or that a Chinese state-owned corporation received financial compensation from Canadian taxpayers.
These are not real courts. Trade tribunals are made up of three corporate lawyers who work for major private law firms and earn $1,000 per hour or more. These lawyers switch roles in different arbitration cases. Sometimes they work for the corporation, sometimes they defend government and other times they act as the deciding judge.
I know the Conservatives are big supporters of investor-state dispute settlements, so I would like to correct some of what I have heard from them on this subject.
No Canadian corporation has ever been successful in bringing an arbitration case against the United States. ISDS has not been a helpful tool for Canadian corporations under NAFTA. Canada's laws and policies have been challenged by NAFTA investor-state rules 48 times, and we have lost eight of the 17 cases that were completed. Canadian taxpayers have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign companies for the loss of potential profits, not for real expropriation.
For example, Canada banned imports of gasoline carrying MMT, a known neurotoxin, to protect the health of Canadians. The U.S. company that makes MMT, Ethyl Corporation, went to a NAFTA tribunal and received $13 million in compensation from Canadian taxpayers.
Bilcon v. Canada is another egregious case. The Nova Scotia government told Bilcon it was open for business. Bilcon wanted to build a quarry and a shipping terminal and blast rock for 50 years in the vicinity of the calving grounds of the North Atlantic right whale. Bilcon failed the environmental assessment. It then bypassed Canadian courts and received $7 million in compensation from a NAFTA tribunal. It should have received nothing.
The U.S. government has not paid a penny for an arbitration case because it has not lost a single case under NAFTA. It won all of the 21 claims against it. We need to remove investor-state dispute settlements from all trade and investment agreements.
One of the most problematic of those agreements is the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, or FIPA. This is an ISDS agreement that will be impossible to change.
NAFTA had a six-month notice clause for abrogation or renegotiation. The Canada-China FIPA is locked in for 15 years, and then there is a one-year notice period, after which corporations that invested get a further 15 years of investor-state. It is 31 years in total. The Canada-China FIPA locks in the discriminatory practices that China had in place at the time of signing. The Canada-China FIPA was negotiated in secret, and signed and ratified without a vote in the House. It was ratified by an order in council by the Harper Conservative government while there was an ongoing court challenge by the Hupacasath First Nation. Let us imagine that. It is complete disrespect of our judicial system and of first nations.
The Canada-China FIPA does not have a national security carve-out or exemption, so if Canada blocks Huawei based on national security grounds, then Canadian taxpayers could be on the hook for billions of dollars for the loss of potential profits that Huawei claims, and we may never know that there was an arbitration case or payout, because both parties would have to agree to make that information public. That is another egregious part of the Canada-China FIPA: secrecy.
Canada has FIPA agreements with the A to Z of small-market and developing countries, from Armenia to Zambia. This is where Canadian companies are using ISDS successfully. Canadian companies have won $2 billion in compensation from developing countries, and there is another $10 billion being sought through ISDS, predominantly from extractive companies. For example, the Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources is seeking $4 billion after the Romanian government, under massive public pressure, blocked a project that would have levelled four mountains, destroyed three villages and turned a valley into a toxic, cyanide-laced tailings pond. This is under the Canada-Romania FIPA.
Imagine if that happened in Banff. Imagine a state-owned mining company taking up Alberta on its open-for-business approach and putting in a proposal to level four mountains, relocate Banff and turn Lake Louise into a toxic tailings pond. Then imagine paying that corporation billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded compensation for the loss of potential profit when Albertans reject the project. Imagine that arbitration case and payout being kept secret.
The legal firms that specialize in ISDS shop these arbitration suits around to hedge funds and finance companies that also reap massive profits from these cases. The Wall Street hedge fund Tenor Capital invested $35 million in the Crystallex v. Venezuela case and got a whopping 1,000% return on its investment when the Canadian mining company was awarded $1.2 billion in compensation. The Crystallex case also came under a FIPA agreement. Indigenous people in Venezuela objected to the mine because it was destroying their community and territory. In this era of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we are going to see more challenges to destructive extractive projects not just here in Canada but around the world.
Canada has signed trade and investment agreements with some countries that have terrible human rights records. The Harper government negotiated and signed the Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement after a coup toppled the democratically elected government.
Is that how we reward anti-democratic behaviour? Should trade not lift all boats? Should the improvement of judicial systems, the rule of law and democratization not be part of these agreements? Should trade agreements not improve the health, safety, consumer, labour and environmental standards of all concerned? The Green Party believes so.
Investor-state dispute settlement, by its very nature, is anti-democratic and should be removed from all of our trade and investment agreements. I would like to applaud the Canadian negotiating team for getting rid of ISDS in CUSMA. Our work is cut out for us: one down, many more to go.
Madam Speaker, to pass this legislation swiftly, as all stakeholders and constituents had requested, so the vacuum of uncertainty would be lifted on our trade relations with the U.S., our official opposition made many suggestions as to ways we would gladly co-operate with the government.
Knowing that the federal election was coming up in October, the Conservatives offered to begin a pre-study on the original legislation, Bill , in May of this year. That way the government would only have to deal with clause by clause later on, but it declined. When the revised agreement was signed in December, the Conservatives offered to come back early from the Christmas break to begin work on the bill. Again, the government declined.
The international trade committee had approximately 200 requests come in on CUSMA, and the amount of work to do on the legislation had not changed. We consistently offered to commence that work earlier, but the government declined.
The Conservatives ultimately offered to complete clause-by-clause examination by no later than March 5, under the assumption that the government would not be recalling the House of Commons during the constituency break. Again, the government declined.
A unanimous motion was passed at the international trade committee, requesting that the government release its economic impact analysis for CUSMA. It was not provided until one day before committee conducted its clause-by-clause review and the government's economic impact report compared CUSMA to not having a NAFTA deal at all.
What this said was that the government wanted Canadians to believe that any trade deal, no matter how unbalanced or restrictive, would actually be better than nothing at all.
Thankfully, the C.D. Howe Institute released a report comparing CUSMA to the old NAFTA deal on February 21. It affirmed that CUSMA would reduce Canada's GDP by $14.2 billion. Canada's exports to the U.S. would fall by $3.2 billion, while our imports from the U.S. would increase by $8.6 billion. The C.D. Howe Institute's report shed some light on why the government said it was important to support the new agreement moving quickly and then balked at every opportunity we gave to expedite the passing of the legislation.
We are here now dealing with the issues around what was not good in the agreement. With those 200 organizations and individuals who wanted to come and talk to the committee, we were able to process through 100 of those.
The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters said, “If we want Canada to take full advantage of this agreement, the government must take steps to insure Canadian manufacturers' productivity levels are equivalent to that of other OECD countries so they can succeed on North American markets and globally.”
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said, “The CUSMA, as signed last autumn, was in imperfect but necessary agreement to provide greater predictability in our relations with Canada's largest trading partner.” Predictability was lost to such an extent that we were to the point where people were saying that we needed to just get this done.
Last week, I met with my own chamber of commerce and also held a town hall, with the shadow minister for agriculture, in my riding with a number of farmers from the area.
Agriculture and agri-food producers, manufacturers, exporters and all the support services of small businesses in my riding are experiencing the serious impacts of uncertainty with which the government has plagued our economy: increased costs and a loss of customer base because of the punitive policies of the government: an uncertainty of our relationship with our biggest trading partner, plus the shutting down of supply routes due to strikes and lack of railcars because oil is flowing on our tracks instead of safely through our pipelines; barricades that created dangerous situations and prevented products from being shipped; carbon taxes on heating and cooling systems that are necessary for manufacturing; and increased payroll taxes and red tape.
People feel they have been attacked and ignored by the government. They know that CUSMA is an imperfect, but necessary agreement to provide better predictability in our relationships with Canada's largest trading partner. Therefore, we are here ready to pass Bill .
The Aluminum Association of Canada said, “As part of the ongoing collaboration between the Government of Canada and industry, we intend to initiate discussions with the government to encourage Mexico to implement a similar measure, which would help limit the arrival of products that do not comply with the rules of the agreement between our three countries.” Canada's aluminum industry is concerned by the government's failure to secure the same made-in-North American provision for aluminum as was given to steel. Canada is North America's largest producer of aluminum.
While the 70% rule of origin included looks good on paper, in reality the failure to include a smelted and poured definition, which is what the industry is asking of in Mexico, will leave the North American industry vulnerable to dumping from overseas, particularly through Mexico.
As well, the government needs to report on the status of the $2 billion in tariffs, the revenue that it has collected thus far, to ensure it actually was used to support Canadian businesses impacted by those tariffs. The manufacturers in my communities were very discouraged by what they saw in the government's behaviour when they were facing shut downs, including its suggestion that it help the manufacturers deal with it by giving more EI. They did not want more EI; they wanted to keep those people working.
As well, there is an urgency to develop a strategy to market Canadian aluminum as the greenest in the world to help shore up our competitiveness in existing and emerging markets. This is part of the Conservative environmental plan. It looks at showcasing and bragging to the world about what Canada already has done and how we can help to impact the global issues on climate change that have impacted so many other countries that are not as clean as Canada.
Then there are our dairy farmers.
The largest group left behind by the government during the negotiations is Canada's dairy sector. The government has managed to simultaneously shrink the opportunities for dairy producers and processors at home, while also limiting their ability to grow by exporting.
Canada agreed to place a worldwide cap on exports of certain dairy products in CUSMA, which is unprecedented in regional trade agreements. As the nation's prosperity depends on reliable access to global markets in every market, but specifically in dairy, Canada must not agree to this kind of provision in any future trade agreement. Why would the government say yes to giving the U.S. that kind of power over our sovereignty and our opportunity to trade as we wish with other countries?
This concession is an affront to our sovereignty and there is no excuse or rational argument for this capitulation to go hat in hand to the U.S. to ask if we can please have its permission to export dairy to any country with which we choose to trade.
There are so many areas that are faulty in this agreement, which stakeholders brought to the attention of the committee, and we were able to create recommendations for the government to move forward and to rectify a lot of those issues.
Regarding government procurement, we have no chapter on being able to secure Canada's access to the U.S. market.
Regarding auto, Canada's exports of motor vehicles to the U.S. will decline by $1.5 billion relative to the current trade regime under NAFTA, and imports would decrease by $1.2 billion. In light of the hardships faced by Ontario's auto sector, which were compounded by the punitive actions of the government against our competitiveness, it must fulfill the auto sector's request to delay the implementation of CUSMA for the auto sector until January 2021 to allow it to adjust to the new climate of the deal.
Regarding forestry, so many mills have closed and support services, small businesses and whole communities have been brought to a standstill by the government's indifference. They do not deserve this attitude from their , whom they expect to re-engage right now with the United States trade representative to find a solution to this issue.
Regarding cultural exemption, the price of protecting it in CUSMA was to open ourselves up to retaliatory tariffs not limited to that sector. For example, if Canada decides to implement a digital service tax for a company such as Netflix, the United States would be within its right, as per CUSMA, to place a tariff of equal commercial effect on any Canadian export.
These are just a few of the examples of where the government has capitulated to the U.S. The U.S. reply to the whole document is a huge document of all of its successes. Ours, from what I understand the previous minister of trade on this side of the House said, was 72 pages long. Clearly, Canada has not come out on the best circumstances here, but as stakeholders have said, we just need to get this done and move on, hopefully in the future with better arrangements.
Madam Speaker, I am thankful for this great opportunity to share some wisdom on this very important bill, Bill , on CUSMA, which is the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement.
However, before I get into the bill, I will speak about the economy. Trade deals are linked to the economy, and the economy here in Canada after five years of Liberal government is very strong compared to what it was when we took office.
Let us look at what has happened. What has changed in the last five years?
We have seen 1.2 million jobs created by Canadians. We have seen over one million people lifted out of poverty, with 353,000 of those being children, which is over 20% of the poverty rate in Canada, and 75,000 being seniors, mostly women. These are big and important numbers.
As well, we are seeing the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years. These are the factors that are clearly stating how strong this economy is and how strong our government is, which has been focused on tax cuts and helping the middle class and those who want to join it.
Trade deals are extremely important to Canadians, and every province and territory is very happy with this trade deal. We had a trade deal before, but this one is new and improved.
We also have the CETA trade deal, which encompasses half a billion people. In that trade deal we have seen 98% of the tariffs removed, whereas in the past it was 25%. Members can imagine how the business community feels about that trade deal today. I know what the business community has to say about it my constituency.
As well, there is the CPTPP, the trans-Pacific trade deal, which, again, encompasses half a billion people. Between the three trade deals, we have a market of 1.5 billion people. In the Asia-Pacific deal most of the tariffs have been removed and 100% of the seafood tariffs are gone. Members can imagine that in my region of Atlantic Canada and in Nova Scotia this is a great opportunity to increase our exports, and it is extremely important.
How important is CUSMA, the Canada-U.S.-Mexico deal? It is $2 billion per day, which is an enormous sum, and 80% of Canadian exports go to these countries.
Who is supporting this trade deal? It is not just us. The premiers are saying they are behind this trade deal, which is important, and I will talk more about it, but we know that Premier Moe, Premier Kenney and company, as well as Brian Mulroney, do. The business community is happy. The unions are happy.
However, they say Trump is a good negotiator. Let us look at the three things he wanted.
First, he wanted a sunset clause at five years when we would have to renegotiate or the deal would be dead. However, that is not in there. We took that out and it is now 16 years.
Second, he wanted the end of supply management. We are the party that introduced supply management, and we are the party that is promoting supply management. We will continue to support supply management because it is important to Canadians.
Third, Trump wanted a dispute resolution tribunal where there would be American judges and courts. Do members think we would have agreed to that? Maybe a Conservative would have, but we did not agree to that. We then added another important piece where the Americans could not stop and must participate in tribunal panels, where in the past they could say no.
These are three key areas where our government has been very successful in negotiating with the Americans.
Let us bring it back to Nova Scotia. What does this trade deal represent to Nova Scotia? It is extremely important, because $3.7 billion is spent by Americans in Nova Scotia. That is an extremely important investment yearly, as my colleagues can imagine. That is 68% of all our trade products leaving Nova Scotia and going to the States.
That means there are 18,000 jobs directly related to this trade deal for Nova Scotians. That is 18,000 directly related jobs; I forgot to mention the 7,000 indirect jobs. Colleagues can imagine how we feel in Nova Scotia. The premier, Mr. McNeil, said that this is a great deal for Canada and a great deal for Nova Scotia. That is a very clear message.
I want to talk about a company in my riding just down the street from me, Marid Industries. It is a steel industry, and today it knows that with this deal it will be able to be competitive and move its products to the States and Mexico without tariffs. That is extremely important. That is making sure that it can move forward. These are great-paying jobs for the people who work in that industry.
Catherine Cobden from the Canadian Steel Producers Association said:
CUSMA is critical to strengthening the competitiveness of Canadian and North American steel industries and ensuring market access in the face of persistent global trade challenges and uncertainty.
That shows good, strong support from the steel industry.
Of course, we are seeing the strongest amendments in this trade deal when it comes to labour and environment, two major areas that Canada is pushing forward. We are making sure that we have some criteria around strengthening labour standards as well as enforcement and inspection standards. That means that wages being paid will create a level playing field. It also affects work hours and conditions. Those are essential pieces to ensure that the playing field is level, which is extremely important.
In the environment, as colleagues know, we have added some obligations in the fight against marine pollution. The other piece of it is air quality.
I must also mention pharmacare, because in the last amendments we were able to remove the 10-year restriction on generic drugs, which is extremely important.
We have added new chapters protecting women's rights, minority rights and indigenous rights and chapters that provide protection against discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. These are all important chapters that are in this trade deal and are so essential.
As well, there are cultural exemptions, which help all Canadians, including those in Quebec. That is very important.
We have work to do. We know that in a trade deal there is a bit of trade here or there. The poultry and egg industries have opened up a small percentage, 2%. We are compensating them not only for loss, but also supporting them so that they can purchase better and more up-to-date equipment. The products will then be better able to be traded internationally, opening up that potential market as well.
This is a very important deal. I am extremely proud to support this. The people in my constituency are just waiting for this to be ratified as soon as possible.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon to speak to Bill , an act to ratify the new free trade agreement among Canada, the United States and Mexico, sometimes referred to as the new NAFTA. Whatever one wishes to label the agreement, one thing is clear, and that is, for Canadians, it falls far short of a win.
Before I elaborate on some of the shortcomings with respect to the new agreement, it is important to provide some context in terms of the history of how we got to where we are.
In November 2016, President Trump was elected, and it is no secret that President Trump was no fan of NAFTA. Indeed, he called it the worst trade deal ever. In the face of that, it was a little surprising that the pre-emptively invited the President to renegotiate NAFTA. The Prime Minister, ever so confident, stated that he would get a better deal. The Prime Minister boasted about a win-win-win: a win for Canada, a win for the United States and a win for Mexico.
It is no surprise that given the President's position on NAFTA, he took the up on his offer at the earliest opportunity. What did the Prime Minister do once he got his wish? Effectively, he put forward a whole series of non-trade issues that alienated the United States. During the course of negotiations, we saw punitive steel and aluminum tariffs levelled against Canada that had a devastating impact that lasted for more than a year.
The spent a lot of time doing what this Prime Minister does: virtue signalling while Canadians paid. The United States concluded that Canada was not interested in reaching a deal. The United States negotiated a deal with Mexico. Most aspects of this agreement were negotiated between the United States and Mexico, including steel provisions and other components of the agreement. Canada was invited in at the eleventh hour when there were few items to resolve. In that respect, it was a fait accompli. The government was left with very little choice, either to sign the agreement or walk away. In the face of that, it is no surprise that Canada signed the agreement.
As a result of the 's lack of leadership, what we got was not the better deal that the Prime Minister promised, but a worse deal. Instead of a win-win-win, a win for Canada, a win for the United States and a win for Mexico, we have an agreement that is a win for the United States, a win for Mexico and a loss for Canada. It is no wonder that the government was so reluctant to reveal its own economic impact analysis on this agreement until the eleventh hour. It did so one day before the trade committee went clause by clause on Bill .
If this trade agreement were as good as the government would like Canadians to believe, then surely the government would be very eager to reveal its economic impact analysis to demonstrate what a good deal it was for Canada. However, the government did not do that.
Why did it not do that? Very simply, despite the rhetoric on the other side, the government knows that it is not a good deal and the did not get a better deal as he promised.
When we saw the economic impact analysis, the government's analysis compares the new deal to no deal at all. The appropriate comparator is not between the new deal and no deal at all, but between the new deal and the old NAFTA.
While the Liberal government quite deliberately did not undertake that analysis, in terms of what it has revealed publicly, the C.D. Howe Institute did undertake such an analysis. What the C.D. Howe Institute determined was that, under the new deal, Canada stands to lose $14.2 billion in GDP. Not only that, Canada stands to see a reduction in exports to the U.S. market in the sum of $3.2 billion, while Canada stands to import more American products in the sum of $8.6 billion. That is $8.6 billion more in U.S. exports, and $3.2 billion less in Canadian exports. Again, it is a good deal for the United States, and a bad deal for Canada.
Despite the fact that this agreement falls short, we on this side of the House are prepared to support the government, support the passage of Bill and support the speedy ratification of CUSMA. We support it because, at the end of the day, this deal is better than no deal.
We have heard, as the member for noted, that the business community and premiers want to see certainty. They want to see continued access to our most important trading partner, the United States. We know there is $2 billion in bilateral trade between Canada and the United States every day, and $900 billion in bilateral trade a year. To put that in perspective, that is nine times more than with our second-largest trading partner, China. Seventy-five per cent of Canadian exports are destined for the U.S. market.
In light of that, it would be irresponsible not to support the ratification of this agreement. If we were to not do so, there would be a risk of no agreement, which would benefit no one. However, while we support the ratification, we do so on a qualified basis. We will continue to remind the government of the shortcomings of this agreement.
The Liberal government opened up 3.6% of the dairy market, and got nothing in return. The government was not able to get the same protections for the Canadian aluminum industry that are in the agreement for the steel industry. We know that the government got nowhere in terms of buy America. Mexico got a chapter on buy America, but Canada did not. The consequence is that it leaves Canadian companies out of the opportunity to bid on large government procurement projects in the United States. The government also sold out Canadian sovereignty by requiring permission from Washington to negotiate new trade agreements with non-market economies, such as our second-largest trading partner, China.
While this is a deal that we will support, let us make no mistake about it: It is better than no deal, but it is not a good deal.
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois has always been in favour of free trade. The free market allows for growth that would never be possible in a closed market. Quebec needs free trade agreements to help all of its economic sectors grow and innovate.
For example, after the original NAFTA was implemented in 1994, exports of Canadian fruits and vegetables and fresh fruit to Mexico and the United States increased by 396%. The majority of the exports were to the United States. It is essential that we retain this access.
The new CUSMA will ensure that businesses have continued access to the American market, and it will have benefits for many producers. We recognize that. Some producers will come out on top, in particular grain producers. The improved definition of grain is a positive.
A few minutes ago, my NDP colleague mentioned eliminating the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. That is another positive. A number of organizations are therefore calling for this agreement to be ratified quickly.
However, there are some sectors that do not benefit from the agreement. They sometimes benefit very little, or not at all, yet they are the economic mainstay of our rural areas, the pillars that support the dynamic use of our vast land. Like culture, these sectors may need an exception. As members may have guessed, I am, of course, talking about our supply management sectors.
We in the Bloc are working constructively and will be long remembered for the solutions we proposed for the aluminum industry. In fact, our Conservative colleague just mentioned that. At some point, the same thing must be done for the sectors under supply management, but we first need to focus on when the agreement will be ratified.
In this agreement, Canada agreed to allow the United States to restrict its exports to third countries. That is unprecedented. We are talking, of course, about milk by-products. I think members are starting to realize that. Milk by-products, such as milk proteins, powdered milk and infant formula, are restricted. Approximately 110,000 tonnes of these products were exported in 2019. The Trump administration managed to include a provision that limits these exports to 55,000 tonnes the first year and 35,000 tonnes the second year. That is unbelievable.
Not only is our dairy sector already losing 3.9% of the market, but all supply-managed sectors are losing market share. Furthermore, restrictions placed on our farmers make it difficult for them to make up their losses by exporting their surplus solid protein to third countries.
Something will eventually have to be done about this, but the first step is to make sure the agreement is ratified after May 1. If the agreement is ratified in April, the clause explains that the agreement will enter into force on the first day of the third month. That means it would enter into force in July.
If the agreement is ratified in May, however, it would enter into force in August. That would make a world of difference, and people need to realize that. The dairy production year starts on August 1. If the agreement starts on July 1, that means the first year of the agreement will only be a month long. Farmers will only have a month to export the 55,000 tonnes. It makes no sense. That is why we have to make sure the agreement is ratified after May 1.
This will not delay the implementation of the agreement, and I am not suggesting that we postpone the ratification of CUSMA until after this session. That is not the issue. The issue is to make sure the agreement enters into force after August 1 so that farmers can start recouping their losses. We will see what we can do after that. Everyone knows that the Bloc Québécois can be creative. We will need to find a solution to this harmful and unacceptable clause.
On another note, we were pleased to read in the news that dairy farmers have begun receiving compensation. Everybody is happy, even the farmers, although it would have made them prouder to produce milk and feed Canadians, which is all they really wanted.
However, certain sectors are still not getting compensation. They are the supply-managed sectors, including the poultry, turkey, hatching egg and table egg sectors.
Representatives of those organizations acted in good faith and were very patient. They sat down with government representatives and presented their numbers. They reached an agreement on the amount of compensation needed last April. This is now March, so it has been almost a year. Nothing has happened since, no sign of anything. There were some meetings last summer, in July and August, maybe because our Liberal Party colleagues wanted to make a campaign announcement. That certainly helps, but nothing ever came of it.
What is holding up this file? Unlike people in the dairy sector, who asked for cash compensation, people in these sectors are asking for compensation in the form of innovation programs and infrastructure upgrades. They also want the option to run a marketing and promotional campaign and funding to support it. It varies from one sector to the next. I listed the four earlier.
I have a question for the House. Is the Government of Canada in the best position to know exactly what each of those sectors needs? Would it not make more sense to give people in those sectors the right to say what they want, what their needs are and what, in their opinion, will help their industries stay competitive and ensure their long-term viability? I think the answer is self-evident: it is up to the people in those sectors to decide.
People in those sectors do not understand. The Bloc Québécois does not understand why there is never any progress. The budget will be tabled soon. We would like to see some numbers. We want to see numbers for this. We want to know what the budget for this is. The government promised compensation for all supply-managed sectors. Settling matters with dairy producers is good, but dairy is just one of five supply-managed sectors, which means there are still four more. We want answers that demonstrate respect for the people working in those sectors, compensation that offsets losses and is comparable to what dairy producers got.
During questions and comments I would like people from the Liberal Party to tell me where we are on this file, because there are some people who are a bit anxious, who are waiting and have concerns. Yesterday, I met with representatives of these sectors, together with my distinguished colleague from . We want answers. Today, I am asking for answers.
Once this compensation has been paid, we will have to reflect collectively on the importance of these supply-managed industries to the economy, to our rural areas and to the dynamic use of the land. We have to understand the direct impacts these farms have as part of our supply management system, that is, in a protected market that allows us to have quality products, stable income, and food security. We also have to understand the secondary impact on industries that supply goods to these people.
Representatives of these supply-managed sectors told me something that I quite liked, and I want to share it with you. They told me that they are thought of as privileged, when in fact they indirectly pay the rent of the vendors and purchasers they do business with and they provide stability to the economy, a stability that also translates into food security.
The system is already seeing signs of neglect. I hope no one in the House would dare say that the Canadian market is protected. Once the agreement is implemented, 18% of the market will have been ceded to foreign producers. If that is considered a closed market, then I would like to know what an open one is. I think that the supply-managed sectors have done their fair share and it is high time we had legislation to protect them.
We are happy to hear the government's promises. It has assured us that it will not back down and it will be watching Brexit and Mercosur very closely. Still, the government has made similar promises in the past. Unfortunately, public confidence wavers when the government breaks its word. The public then demands more guarantees. Those who made verbal promises but did not keep them are asked to put their promises down on paper and sign them. This paper can then be brought out again. In this case, the paper I am referring to is the bill that my colleague and I introduced to protect supply management.
Madam Speaker, the Conservative Party is the party of free trade and free markets. We recognize the importance of the U.S. and Mexican markets for Canadian exporters, which is why the Conservatives have been clear that we will support the swift passage of the new NAFTA deal. However, while a deal is better than no deal, Canadian industries are bracing for the impact of the changes to come.
Ironically enough, the Liberal government's economic impact report compares CUSMA to not having a NAFTA deal at all. This is baffling, since almost any trade deal, no matter how lopsided, would have been better than having nothing at all.
The C.D. Howe Institute discovered that CUSMA would reduce Canada's GDP by $14.2 billion. Its recent report found that after the implementation of CUSMA, Canada's exports to the U.S. will fall by $3.2 billion, while our imports from the U.S. will increase by $8.6 billion, with the worst impacts being felt in our agriculture and dairy sectors.
I have heard from many farmers in my riding who operate businesses in supply-managed industries, and they feel that the Liberal government has literally sold the family farm. The Conservatives are committed to Canada's supply management system, but the Liberal government's weak leadership and ineffective negotiation tactics have continued to erode the system's integrity. Concessions have been made to the U.S. without our receiving anything meaningful in return, and stakeholders are speaking up.
Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with turkey farmers in British Columbia. They indicated that market access concessions made as the result of CUSMA are going to hurt turkey farm families across the country. Not only that, this change would greatly hinder Canadian consumer access to locally farmed products.
What would this impact look like? Under CUSMA, the market access commitment calculation for turkey will be modified to a 29% increase in new market access for the U.S. into Canada. It will allow the U.S. to export an additional 1,000 metric tons of turkey products each year for the next 10 years above current access levels, with potentially more in the future.
Canadian dairy farmers and processors are also set to lose market access to the Americans. Before the international trade committee, the Dairy Processors Association of Canada shared that at full implementation, the access granted under CUSMA, in addition to the existing concessions from other agreements, namely CETA and CPTPP, represent about 18% of the Canadian market. When considering the three latest trade agreements, Canadian dairy processors will lose $320 million per year.
On top of the market access concessions, CUSMA includes a concerning and unprecedented clause that will impose export caps on worldwide Canadian shipments of milk powder, protein concentrates and infant formula. For example, for skim milk powder and milk protein concentrates, a cap of 55,000 tonnes will be imposed for the first year and 35,000 tonnes for the second year.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is also sounding the alarm. In addition to the market access concessions, supply-managed industries are anxiously waiting for government to fulfill its commitment to quickly and fully mitigate the impacts of these trade agreements, action that is necessary, though insulting to many of my constituents who work in these industries.
Before the international trade committee, Mr. Dykstra, a New Brunswick dairy farmer, stated:
I now want to touch on the compensation package promised, and partly delivered, for CETA and CPTPP. I haven't heard anything about the remaining years and how it will be paid out. That in itself concerns me. The compensation package is bittersweet. Most farmers, including me, received a payment in December of last year for those previous trade agreement concessions. As far as I am aware, no concrete timeline has been set for the next payments. We, as dairy farmers, have always prided ourselves on getting all our money from the marketplace. This is how the system is supposed to work. This is how it did work. The government trading away excess and then offering compensation is not what we want.
In addition to the previously mentioned market access concessions, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture has raised two other issues causing serious industry concern.
First, the Liberals have relinquished Canadian sovereignty on critical internal policy development and export control functions. CUSMA commits Canada to consult with the United States before making changes to Canadian dairy policies. This should have never been surrendered.
Second, as mentioned previously, the Liberal government also agreed to cap dairy sector exports of milk protein concentrates, skim milk and infant formula to CUSMA and non-CUSMA countries, and approved an export charge on exports over the cap. This is disturbing on several fronts. Canada has long argued against the use of export tariffs to regulate trade. It also sets a dangerous precedent by allowing a regional trade agreement and a party in that agreement to control the trade of another party to countries outside of that agreement.
This is why the Conservative Party is standing up for these Canadian businesses and calling on the and the Liberal government to amend the agreement. Export thresholds for milk protein concentrates, skim milk powder and infant formula should only be subject to trade between the CUSMA signatories, not to other countries that are not party to the agreement.
I will give a real-world example of this from a company that employs hundreds of people in my riding, Vitalus Nutrition, whose CEO, Phil Vanderpol, presented at the trade committee.
Vitalus processes milk supplied by Canadian farmers into high-quality cream and butter, milk protein concentrates and milk protein isolates that have superior quality, nutritional value and functionality. It planned and anticipated demand and, up to this point, was capitalizing on the growth in the global market for nutritional value-added dairy ingredients. The federal government, or at least Western Economic Diversification Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, recognized Vitalus' economic promise and even invested significant funds in the company in the previous Parliament. However, that same federal government is now pulling the rug out from under the company and, ironically, its own previous investments. The Liberal government has managed, in this case, to simultaneously shrink the opportunity for Canadian dairy producers in the Fraser Valley while limiting their ability to grow by exporting.
Turning to forestry, Canada's forestry industry is also disappointed in the Liberal government's inability to protect its sector, since CUSMA does not prevent the United States from applying anti-dumping and countervailing duties to Canadian softwood lumber. Yes, Canadian forest product producers want a speedy ratification of CUSMA, even though it will provide no relief for their uncertainty. They want this in the hope that the federal government will start providing their industry the attention it requires. Businesses are going under, families are hurting and more than 20,000 forestry workers have suffered layoffs. The Liberal government must take immediate action to solve the softwood lumber dispute. It is unconscionable that a sector so significant was not part of the agreement.
I do not have time to address all of the shortcomings I have outlined that are in this new trade agreement, but I note that I would have liked to see the list of professionals admitted under temporary entry for business persons expanded to include the jobs of the 21st century. There are a lot of problematic issues regarding the rules of origin for automobiles and the new quotas in place. Also, buy America was not addressed.
When I was a graduate student, I participated in the North American forum for young leaders in North America. I had the opportunity to work with American and Mexican students at some of the top universities in our continent. On a personal note, we have so much untapped potential between our three countries, and I look forward to seeing labour mobility provisions changed during my lifetime, of course with strict immigration protocols, to meet the untapped potential we have with our trading partners.
With that, I would say that the new NAFTA deal put forward for ratification by the government is, overall, a disappointment, which I know because I represent the supply-managed industries in Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon. It would leave Canadians worse off than they were under the prior agreement and would relinquish our sovereignty. Our economy depends on free trade, and we need a federal government that signs agreements for the benefit of Canadians. It seems in this case that Canadians were sold out on so many fronts. We need ministers like my old boss, the member for , at the helm of international trade.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise and speak to the bill to ratify CUSMA. We are at third reading; things are moving fast. I am glad this is moving forward, but it is important not to rush. We need to take the time to properly study and debate this bill.
The job of the Bloc Québécois is to represent the interests of Quebeckers. That is why we are here. We agree with free trade agreements in principle. We need free trade. In economics, Quebec could be described as a small, open economy. We have a large territory with a population of about eight million. We need to trade with the rest of the world. Our areas of expertise include aerospace, artificial intelligence and computer science. We are proud of our farmers and our forestry workers in the regions. We are well positioned to trade. In essence, we support free trade agreements.
Obviously, no agreement is ever perfect. NAFTA was not perfect. Did we really need a new agreement like CUSMA to replace NAFTA? Our neighbour to the south demanded it. I would say this agreement is fairly good for the Canadian economy. The government did pretty well for the auto industry, for example.
There is one thing I find disappointing about this agreement and other agreements Canada negotiated recently. Generally speaking, an agreement should benefit the majority of the population, Canada's population in this case, but somebody always gets the short end of the stick. I do wonder—though not for long—why sectors that are important to Quebec's economy are always traded away.
In this agreement, concessions were made with respect to supply management. That happened with the trans-Pacific partnership too. Quebec is nowhere near the Pacific Ocean, but a significant chunk of the economy was traded away. The same thing happened with the Canada-EU free trade agreement. It seems that when Canada negotiates, it is all too ready to give up Quebec when it needs to offer something in exchange. Canada would like to protect Quebec's interests, but when it has to choose, it sacrifices part of Quebec's economy.
We saw the same thing happen when China joined the WTO. That killed our textile sector. It is still around, but as a shadow of its former self. The government did nothing to support that sector. Many women who had worked in the industry all their lives were left out in the cold, empty-handed. In contrast, the United States supported its textile industry and managed to save more jobs.
The same thing happened with our shipyards. The agreement with northern Europe ended up putting shipyards in Montreal and Sorel out of business, with neither compensation nor support. What a shame.
That being said, this agreement may not be perfect, but we think it offers a great opportunity to resolve the softwood lumber dispute. Quebec's forestry system was overhauled from top to bottom to ensure that the U.S. would have absolutely no reason to say it is subsidized and that we could do business on softwood lumber with our neighbour to the south.
Sadly, the new agreement did not resolve that dispute. The U.S. strategy is to drag out the dispute as long as possible and levy taxes to cool down this industry's market. Once it is on the verge of collapse, we will sign on the cheap. So far, this has not been done. I lament the fact that the has never spoken up in defence of Quebec's forestry industry. Forestry companies are paying more for lumber, since the price is determined by a market mechanism, and on top of that, they get taxed at the border as well. We did what was needed to fix that, but the government did not do its job at the federal level. As a result, our industry is paying twice. That is truly deplorable.
Given all that, we decided a year ago that the Bloc would support CUSMA on two conditions. The first was full compensation for supply-managed farmers. I am quite proud that I asked for the unanimous support of the House for full compensation for the last three agreements before ratifying this agreement. Naturally, we had to wait for the former member for Beauce to step out to go to the bathroom, because he was fiercely opposed to supply management. After all, he could have held it in. When we saw the support in the House we decided we could support this new agreement since half our conditions had been met.
The other condition was to have the illegal taxes on steel and aluminum cancelled. There are indeed steel producers in Quebec, as my colleague from confirmed. However, we were mainly concerned with the aluminum sector because 90% of the aluminum made in Canada comes from Quebec. There has been long-standing trade with our American neighbours when it comes to aluminum. I went to Washington and I wrote newspaper articles there. We held several meetings, we all pitched in and managed to get these taxes lifted. We thought that was it.
On December 10, 2019, after Mexico and the United States had signed the agreement, the House decided to move forward and the Liberals were patting themselves on the back. However, when we saw the final version of the agreement, we saw that a key section of Quebec's economy had once again been sacrificed. There was a disparity between the protection given to steel, which is primarily manufactured in Ontario, compared to aluminum, which is primarily manufactured in Quebec. Once again, Quebec got a last-minute surprise in the House. Quebec's economy did not receive the same protection as Ontario's. That is unacceptable. Since the United States and Mexico had already ratified the agreement, it was very difficult to go back and renegotiate provisions so that Quebec would have the same protections.
There was all kinds of pressure from the government and various stakeholders to sign the agreement, and we were made to believe that it could no longer be amended. My colleagues from and immediately rallied stakeholders in their regions, elected officials, workers, unions and businesses. They said that they could not allow this to happen and that they would do something. We were being told to sign the agreement because it was good for the rest of the economy. We were being asked to forget that supply management and the aluminum sector were being short-changed, and to think about the sectors that were gaining something.
We nevertheless decided to fight this and to stand up for the aluminum sector. We did not know how to proceed, but we managed to make significant progress with the help of stakeholders and—credit where credit is due—the .
We now know that the problem caused by last-minute changes to CUSMA was that steel was being given significant protection. The “melted and poured” provision of the agreement required that most of the automotive parts made in the territory of the agreement were to be made with North American steel. This clause did not apply to aluminum.
Many automotive parts are made in Mexico, which imported aluminum from China, the dirtiest aluminum in the world because it is made at coal-fired plants, compared to Quebec's aluminum, which is the greenest and made at the most energy efficient plants in the world. All Mexico had to do was process the Chinese aluminum to make it North American aluminum. Even the acknowledged that the dumping of Chinese aluminum is unacceptable and illegal in international trade.
We obtained a commitment from the government that it would ensure that Mexico applied the same traceability measures as Canada's to track Chinese imports and the portion of components made with Chinese aluminum. If a problem arises, we can then revisit the “melted and poured” clause. I have been led to believe that the Americans agree with us and that very soon they will implement traceability measures to prevent Mexico from using dumped aluminum.
I will stop here, as my time has expired.
Madam Speaker, I come from the private sector and I am really glad to speak to this very important subject.
For Canadian businesses, when it comes to finding customers, Chicago and Toronto are separated by only 800 kilometres. Vancouver and Toronto are separated by 4,000 kilometres. For businesses in Vancouver, customers in Seattle are much closer than even customers in Calgary.
To put it into perspective, 66% of Canadians live within 100 kilometres of a border. It is closer to ship to the south. Geography is a part of it, but over 325 million potential customers is a powerful reason for businesses to look south before they look east or west. For any growing Canadian company, it is just a matter of time before it looks to expand south.
Business is just one part of this equation. Customers in the United States demand Canadian products and Canadians demand American products.
In terms of trade, no relationship compares to that between Canada and the United States: 75% of Canada's trade is done with the United States and $2 billion worth of goods crosses the border every day.
Just because trade is mutually beneficial does not mean it is easy. Trade can be complex, with different regulations, safety concerns and government help to the industry in different countries. Free trade is never free of rules. That is why agreements need to be reached.
When Canada and the United States began to trade, we did it piecemeal until 1992. That is when Canada, led by then prime minister Brian Mulroney and the Progressive Conservative Party, signed the North American Free Trade Agreement. That created the world's largest economic trading zone. That agreement was an overwhelming success in growing our trade in both the United States and Mexico.
The put it into perspective when she said, “Today, Canada, the United States and Mexico account for nearly one-third of global GDP despite having just 7% of the global population.”
The clear benefits of NAFTA have helped establish free trade as a foundation of Canadian conservatism, a foundation that former Prime Minister Harper built on by signing trade agreements with South Korea, Jordan and Columbia, among others. Let me remind everyone that the new European Union trade deal was negotiated almost entirely under the previous government. Simply put, the Conservatives understand that.
I am here to discuss the next stage of our trade relationship with the United States and Mexico, the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, CUSMA, also known as the new NAFTA.
We all know how we got here. On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump promised Americans a better deal with trade. Millions of Americans were concerned that jobs were flowing south to Mexico because of low wages, little regulation and few rights for workers. President trump told them that they were right. On election night, many analysts pointed to these words as the reason that President Trump was able to carry the rust belt states. That delivered him the presidency.
Unfortunately for Canadians, as soon as President Trump was elected, it became clear that calls for a new deal were more than just hot air. Renegotiating NAFTA was a primary goal for his presidency. That meant Canada would be back at the negotiating table.
The talk around the negotiating table was not comforting. Statements made by the Canadian government made it look like it did not take the situation seriously. The threw personal attacks at President Trump, which showed an interest in scoring political points rather than securing a good deal for Canadians.
On the other side, statements by the President about Canada were often not true. At times, it seemed as if Canada was an afterthought, as President Trump focused on Mexico.
The good news is that the deal is done. After years of uncertainty, businesses can once again begin investing in Canada, and investors can be assured that trucks, ships and planes carrying goods between the United States, Canada and Mexico will not grind to a halt due to the repeal of NAFTA.
Many businesses and industries as a whole have made it clear that they want this deal signed, and they want it signed soon. Premiers across the country have also added their voices to that message.
I have already made it clear that the Conservative Party supports free trade. We understood that billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs, if not millions, were at stake. We wanted the best deal possible for Canadians.
As my colleague from put it, we wanted a good dealt that would last for the next 50 years, but that is not what we got. Instead, Canadians have a deal with new red tape and other barriers that hurt Canadian businesses, a deal that ignores ongoing problems and mutually beneficial economic opportunities.
The barrier I find most disturbing involves trade deals with other nations. Under CUSMA, if Canada continues expanding it free trade network, it will have to seek permission from the United States. This overreach into Canadian sovereignty is a hard pill to swallow. Canada should be free to pursue its trade interests with anyone.
That question of American oversight also made its way into the rules about dairy products. Canada gave up 3% of the market to American suppliers in the deal, but the concessions did not end there. Milk protein exports are now something the United States government has a say over. The Canadian government also negotiated away milk classes 6 and 7. With all these drastic changes, it should not be a surprise that the dairy industry will need help. That help will most likely come in the form of subsidies or payouts for which Canadians will be on the hook.
The new rules around aluminum have also raised concerns. Canada is a massive producer of aluminum. Globally we are the fourth-largest producer in the world. When CUSMA was being negotiated, it was clear we had to protect our market share in the United States, which, according to the Financial Post, is “just over half of it.” The new rules protect our steel industry but do nothing for aluminum.
As I mentioned before, one of the problems with this deal is the issues that were ignored. The issue that comes to the top of mind is the buy America policies. We failed to get rules in CUSMA that would stop the unfair boxing out of Canadian companies from government contracts in the United States. Mexico was able to strike a deal.
As for the lingering softwood lumber dispute, it was ignored and left in the hands of the World Trade Organization, an organization that has struggled to make any progress on the issue at all.
In terms of opportunities lost, a glaring example was not including more professions under section 16. That would have made it easier for companies to bring in high-demand low-supply professionals who they need to grow their businesses.
Instead of the 50 years of certainty, the new NAFTA gives 16 years, 16 years before we are back at the negotiating table, and that is if we can make it past the six-year formal reviews of CUSMA.
While there are many flaws, a deal is better than no deal, and we need to focus on the next steps. The agreement has put many industries at risk. There needs to be discussions on how Canada is going to ensure CUSMA is not a crippling blow for them. Unfortunately, that means Canadian taxpayers are once again facing new costs because of poor decisions by the Liberal government.
Madam Speaker, I am very happy to be rising in the House again, this time to speak to Bill and also the aluminum industry.
I first want to acknowledge all those who worked hard to ensure that the Bloc Québécois could support the agreement. This includes elected officials, such as the mayor of Alma, Marc Asselin; the mayor of Saguenay, Josée Néron; union representatives, in particular Éric Drolet, Sylvain Maltais and Alain Gagnon; as well as economic stakeholders.
People were indeed expecting us to vote, but they wanted us to be voting for gains. Instead of ordering us to shut up and vote no questions asked, they instead chose to work with us, which worked out really well in the end.
Indeed, it was a pretty good idea. We used the full power of our positions to ensure that the fundamental interests of Quebec and its regions were protected. We were not simply criticizing without making any suggestions.
It may have been a long shot back in December, since the House seems to have forgotten that an opposition can do more than oppose for the sake of opposing. We had to believe that it was possible to make gains. Clearly, our belief ultimately paid off.
I will come back to the steps that finally led me to say that I would vote in favour of Bill C-4. I think they are worth mentioning, mainly for those who are watching at home and who are wondering what happened between two days before CUSMA was ratified and now regarding the loss of protection for aluminum.
On December 10, we learned that aluminum was no longer protected, as my colleague from so clearly pointed out. The government abandoned the aluminum industry even though aluminum is Quebec's second-largest export. What is worse, the government considered the matter to be closed for the next 10 years. That was a disaster for us and for many stakeholders in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, the North Shore and central Quebec.
On December 12, we clearly announced our intentions. We would not vote in favour of the agreement unless aluminum was given the same protections as steel. Even the member for was on our side. He told the media that he planned to vote against the agreement. He issued a press release with us, which basically said the following:
There are some good things in the agreement, but the lack of protection for the aluminum industry is unacceptable...my constituents will always come first. The aluminum industry was not respected...and unless something is done to secure our place on the North American market or unless export programs are put in place, I am seriously considering voting against the agreement.
That has changed, but that is what he was saying not too long ago.
I imagine that he trusted us to do the rest. The following week, on December 19, we took part in a demonstration, without him, but with many unions, business owners, and municipal and provincial officials from all across Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. More people turned out than for LNG.
Aluminum has been a big industry for us for 100 years. What is more, the aluminum produced in my region and in Quebec is the greenest in the world.
Fundamentally, however, what everyone needs to remember is that when all this started, the Bloc Québécois were the only ones saying aluminum had not received the same protection as steel, because we were the only ones who had read the agreement carefully.
Curiously enough, the steel industry is concentrated in Ontario, and the aluminum industry, as we now know, is almost exclusively located in Quebec. In fact, 90% of Canada's aluminum is produced in Quebec, and 60% of that comes from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. It is no surprise, really. Quebec is starting to get used to being used as a pawn in international treaties and being sacrificed for the sake of Ontario's auto industry and western Canada's oil industry.
We were the only ones saying it, while the Liberals kept trotting out the same old convoluted talking points. After repeating our arguments and proving them in debate, we eventually got the NDP and the Conservatives on our side. However, the Liberals continued to deny the sad truth. Unlike our colleagues in the other opposition parties, we could not let down our aluminum workers. We could not vote for the implementation of the agreement. There was just no way we could do that.
I may have mentioned this before, but I stuck a little note to the side of my nightstand that says, “Who do you work for?” It is the first thing I see every morning. The answer to that question is that I work for my constituents, for the people of Lac-Saint-Jean and for Quebeckers as a whole.
What do we do in this situation?
Some people said we were on our own. They did not reckon on the courage, strength and determination of our people. Our people mobilized, and we supported them politically and technically. We were not alone, and they were no longer alone. They all came here, to Ottawa, at the end of January, to air their concerns. Elected officials, workers and economic players from our regions came here to share their concerns, and they brought a study with them.
Basically, the study said that 30,000 jobs would be at risk if the expansion phases did not go through. Investments worth $6.2 billion were in jeopardy. That would have been $1 billion in economic spinoffs every year for 10 years gone if the agreement was not changed and a real solution not found. We needed a concrete proposal to provide better protection for aluminum.
Considering those massive numbers, should we have just sat there twiddling our thumbs?
We are talking about the vitality of our regions and of Quebec as a whole. We are talking about our families and our children, and that is why we all took a stand.
We did more than just criticize; that would not be our style. We also proposed a solution. Initially, no one on the other side of the House was listening to us. Life is like that, but only a fool will not change his mind. In the end, the Liberals did listen to reason. I will give them that, and I thank them for it.
The Liberals agreed to negotiate, and we finally reached an agreement. At the end of the day, some of my hon. colleagues were able to set partisanship aside and put the interests of their constituents ahead of the interests of the parties in the House.
There are many things that divide us in this place. For instance, I strongly believe that Quebec should become a country, and as soon as possible. Despite the obvious differences in our political perspectives, we were able to secure a win and ensure that aluminum would be better protected. It was a Bloc Québécois proposal, but it was the who brought that proposal to Washington. I thank her for that.
Imagine what would have happened if we had just remained in our seats and voted in favour of implementing the agreement without making any demands. It is not complicated. If the Bloc had acted like all the other parties in the House, our aluminum workers would have been left out in the cold. The regions in Quebec would have been abandoned. Quebec's economy would have once again been the big loser in another international treaty signed by Ottawa.
This House was then able to see the principles that guide the Bloc Québécois. Above all, we are guided by our conscience. There is no denying that we have had a positive influence on how work is done in the House. So much the better if the other parties represented here are inspired by our approach. In the end, it is the men and women we represent who come out on top.
Who do we work for? I know. Now it is up to all my hon. colleagues to answer that question.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill , which I will be supporting, as it turns out.
I am very satisfied with the work my political party did in the spirit of openness and collaboration. However, I would say this victory was bittersweet, because an economic sector was once again left out of this agreement. I am referring to softwood lumber. The forestry sector gets no respect from the Canadian federation and is constantly overlooked. That is holding me back from fully celebrating our victory on aluminum.
At a meeting of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, the Canadian negotiator told me that he did not include softwood lumber in CUSMA because he had to focus on other priorities. I think the phrase “focus on other priorities” says it all. It is the Canadian mantra. What are the priorities of Canada's economy? Ontario's auto industry and western Canada's oil industry, the same as for the past 25 years.
Is it perhaps because of a power imbalance? The Bloc Québécois now has 32 seats, and I feel like things are changing. However, Quebec's economic sectors are consistently ignored. The expression “focusing on other priorities” makes me think. Negotiations with the United States on softwood lumber are always pushed back.
This makes me think of an expression I often hear among federalists: “The fruit is not ripe enough.” When we talk about constitutional negotiations, many federalists use this somewhat perverse rhetoric: “The fruit is not ripe enough.” It appears to me that the fruit of federalism is currently rotting on the tree when it comes to softwood lumber and our role within this federation.
I do not want to only play the blame game, but I would like to come back to the importance of Quebec's forestry industry. It is important to note that Quebec has 2% of the world's forests, an area of 760,000 square kilometres, or the equivalent of Sweden and Norway combined. The industry provides 58,000 direct and indirect jobs in Quebec. The forestry industry is currently the economic driver of 160 of our municipalities.
If you look at Canada as a whole, the forestry sector provides 600,000 direct and indirect jobs, which is not insignificant. I cannot stress enough that we are facing global warming, and many experts have identified the forestry sector as our best shot at fighting climate change.
Our greatest misfortune, however, is that the United States is our main trading partner in the forestry industry, taking in 68% of our forest product exports. I find that unfortunate because I have the impression that the Canadian government has never really made much of an effort to develop new markets.
I am always amazed when I go to France and I see all kinds of infrastructure, bridges and big buildings built of wood or glulam even though France lacks the primary resource that is wood. We have it, but I feel like we are not doing anything with it.
Since the 2000s, the forestry industry has gone through tough times because the pulp and paper industry has gone through tough times now that less and less newsprint is being sold. We need to find new market opportunities. All this was exacerbated by a string of crises during negotiations with the United States.
During a Standing Committee on Natural Resources meeting, Beth MacNeil, Assistant Deputy Minister for Natural Resources Canada's Canadian Forest Service, told us that the forestry industry is at a crossroads. I thought that was very interesting. If my girlfriend told me we were at a crossroads, I would definitely be afraid because that would mean I had not taken care of her and had a lot to make up for.
The Canadian government is now at a crossroads with the forestry industry because past governments, both Liberal and Conservative, have chosen to focus on the oil industry in the west and Ontario's auto industry, not on the softwood lumber industry at all.
I see two big issues here. We have these trade agreements, which sometimes create barriers for the forestry sector, but we also have research and development. I find one statistic particularly interesting: From the early 1970s to the late 2000s, Canadians collectively invested $70 billion in the oil sands because that technology was not profitable. My father would call that a pretty penny, not to mention it was a raw deal for us. Of that $70 billion, $14 billion came from Quebec.
One thing of note that is troublesome and that I want to focus on is Dutch disease. A few years ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers reported that when the Canadian dollar appreciates by one cent, there is an immediate domino effect and the forestry industry loses $500 million. It is an export industry, which requires that it be competitive. Investing $70 billion in the oil industry is a blow to the forestry industry. The circumstances are different today and I hope that the government will take action.
I would quickly like to review the impact on the forestry sector of the two main downturns. The first downturn, which began in 2003 and ended in 2008, resulted in the loss of 11,329 forestry jobs in Quebec alone. From January 2009 to January 2012, 8,600 jobs were lost. The government of the day took no action. I remember that the Conservatives promised to provide loan guarantees for the forestry industry in 2005.
What is troublesome is that the U.S. strategy is to ensure that major forestry producers are worn down. When that happens, they end up signing a cheap agreement. I believe that this happened often. There has been no agreement since 2017. Thus, I believe that this is happening again. They want to wear down the forestry industry so it accepts a cheap agreement. In the meantime, the government is not taking action. It is not offering loan guarantees. Neither Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions nor Export Development Canada has brought forward a strategy for developing new markets. There is no investment in research and development. No, the government prefers to focus on the usual sectors, the oil and automotive industries.
To sum up, from 2005 to 2011, Quebec's forestry industry lost 30% of its workforce, going from 130,000 workers in 2005 to barely 99,000 in 2011. From 2004 to 2005 and from 2012 to 2013, there was a 38% drop in jobs in silviculture and in timber harvesting, which reduced job numbers to a little more than 10,000 in those areas. It is disastrous for Quebec and again the government did not learn from its mistakes. In the CUSMA negotiation, it preferred to deliver that famous speech about the fruit not being quite ripe enough. At some point, we are going to take matters into our own hands and harvest our own fruit. We will become our own country.
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure this evening to rise in the House to speak to the modernized NAFTA, specifically to the important outcomes contained in the labour chapter.
The Canada-United States-Mexico agreement preserves, as well as modernizes, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or as we know it NAFTA, by carrying forward key existing elements and improving outcomes in areas that will enhance our most important trading relationship. Moreover, the amendments agreed to in December 2019 strengthen enforceability provisions in this agreement, including new mechanisms specific to the implementation of labour obligations, which make a good deal even better.
Through the new labour chapter, the agreement seeks to protect and enhance workers' rights and improve working conditions and living standards across North America. Canada's practice is to negotiate comprehensive labour provisions in the context of its free trade agreements in order to promote and uphold strong labour standards.
Trade and labour protections are mutually supportive. Canada strives to demonstrate internationally that a competitive economy includes safe, healthy and co-operative workplaces. The original NAFTA includes a side agreement on labour called the North American Agreement on Labour Co-operation. The new NAFTA includes a comprehensive and robust labour chapter that is fully enforceable and represents a significant improvement over the original NAFTA, its side agreement and other language.
In particular, the new labour chapter includes commitments to protect and promote internationally recognized labour principles and rights as set out in the International Labour Organization's 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, including the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. The chapter also includes a non-derogation clause that prevents parties from deviating from their domestic labour laws in order to encourage trade or investment.
These commitments are all subject to the state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism that is contained within this agreement. Importantly, the new labour chapter has a number of key provisions to ensure that trade does not come at the expense of workers' labour rights. For instance, it includes enforceable obligations to address issues related to migrant workers, forced or compulsory labour, and violence against union members. To address labour rights violations in Mexico, it also includes an annex with specific requirements on worker representation and collective bargaining.
The terrible practice of forced or compulsory labour still exists in many countries. The International Labour Organization estimates that in 2016 approximately 25 million people worldwide were subjected to forced labour, and a disproportionate number of them were women and young girls.
The new NAFTA is a landmark deal, because it is the very first free trade agreement to include an obligation that commits parties to prohibit the importation of goods produced by forced labour. This is a milestone provision that will support workers' rights and human rights around the globe.
While these inclusive trade provisions will largely help workers outside of Canada, the modernized agreement will also help workers here at home. North American free trade has been an enormous benefit to Canadian businesses, workers and the overall economy. It means more good-quality jobs here at home and more affordable goods and services available domestically as well as internationally.
I will give an example of how the agreement will protect Canadian interests and help to curb the outflow of jobs. The rules of origin chapter addresses automotive manufacturing wages in North America by including a labour value content requirement.
Basically, this means that 40% of the value of a vehicle must come from a plant where the workers earn an average of at least $16 U.S. per hour in order for the vehicle to be considered as originating from a NAFTA country. The provision, together with the labour chapter provisions on collective bargaining rights, may create upward pressure on wages in Mexico and help to level the playing field for Canadian workers, as well as businesses throughout our great nation.
It is also important to note that the labour chapter is subject to the dispute settlement chapter in instances of non-compliance to ensure that all labour obligations are well respected. The agreement provides an opportunity for parties to take the necessary actions and measures to enforce the agreement's obligations if prior attempts to resolve the matter through consultations prove ineffective.