That, given that trade between Canada and the United States of America exceeds $1.5-billion per day, more than 300,000 people normally cross the common border monthly, the two countries have enjoyed one of the world's largest open trading blocs for the free movement of goods, services and people since 1989, the economic challenges caused by COVID-19, and the need for a serious plan for the economic recovery that recognizes the integration of the North American economy, the House appoint a special committee with the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the economic relationship between Canada and the United States, including, but not limited to
(i) the expressed bilateral economic priorities of the governments of Canada and the United States,
(ii) natural resources issues, including oil and gas exports and transportation, softwood lumber exports, and related jobs,
(iii) "Buy America" procurement rules, requirements and policies,
(iv) the government's efforts with the United States' administration to ensure a stable and predictable supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses for Canada as a major border and trading partner,
(a) the committee be composed of 12 members, of which six shall be from the government party, four shall be from the official opposition, one shall be from the Bloc Québécois, and one shall be from the New Democratic Party;
(b) the members shall be named by their respective whip by depositing with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the committee no later than Thursday, February 18, 2021;
(c) membership substitutions be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2);
(d) changes to the membership of the committee shall be effective immediately after notification by the relevant whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House;
(e) the Clerk of the House shall convene an organization meeting of the committee on Tuesday, February 23, 2021;
(f) the committee be chaired by a member of the government party and, notwithstanding Standing Order 106(2), there shall be one vice-chair from each of the other recognized parties;
(g) quorum of the committee be as provided for in Standing Order 118 and that the Chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence printed when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four members are present, including one member of the opposition and one member of the government party;
(h) the committee be granted all of the powers of a standing committee, as provided in the Standing Orders, provided that (i) the provisions of Standing Order 106(4) shall also extend to the committee, (ii) until Sunday, April 11, 2021, the committee shall not meet on a day when the House is sitting, except for (A) the meeting required by paragraph (e), (B) the committee's subcommittee on agenda, if one is appointed;
(i) the committee have the power to authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings;
(j) the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, the Ambassador of Canada to the United States of America, and other ministers and senior officials be invited to appear as witnesses from time to time as the committee sees fit;
(k) the committee be instructed to present an interim report, concerning an analysis of the importance of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline to both countries' economies and the consequences of its possible closure, including the labour market implications caused by layoffs of unionized and other workers, together with recommendations to address and safeguard Canadian interests, no later than Thursday, April 15, 2021;
(l) the committee be instructed to present a second interim report, concerning current and proposed "Buy America" procurement rules, requirements and policies, together with recommendations to address and safeguard Canadian interests, no later than Thursday, June 17, 2021; and
(m) the provisions of the order adopted on Monday, January 25, 2021, authorizing virtual and hybrid committee proceedings, shall continue to apply to the committee and any of its subcommittees until Sunday, September 19, 2021.
She said: Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I am proud today to speak on our official opposition day and bring forward a Conservative motion to create a special committee worthy of our focus, which is the economic relationship between Canada and the United States. It is long past the time when the government was being proactive rather than reactive in terms of our relationship with the United States, but the motion before the House today will allow us to do exactly that.
Trade between Canada and the U.S. exceeds $1.5 billion per day. Our partnership with the United States is of critical importance. Our two countries share more than a just a border. We share common ideals, and many Canadians and Americans work and live across our borders and have family or friends who reside on the other side of the border. Their lives are integrated. Our business relationships provide countless jobs across the country with our two-way trade.
Since the ratification of NAFTA in 1994, and more recently with CUSMA, our two nations have enjoyed the benefits of the free movement of goods, services and people. It is a strong relationship that has become only stronger over time. However, like every relationship, it takes effort and work.
I know many of my colleagues today will speak on a wide range of challenges that affect different sectors across our country, some old and some new, which highlight the need for this committee.
We have had Keystone XL cancelled and other pipeline issues, such as Line 5, which may lead to immediate fuel shortages in Ontario and Quebec, higher fuel prices and the loss of thousands of jobs; tariff issues; disputes on softwood lumber, dairy, and aluminum; low-priced Washington apples being dumped into Canada; stricter buy American policies; and investigations on several of our fruit and vegetable exports to the U.S.
We need strategic focus. Most of us on this side of the House come from the private sector. We have been entrepreneurs. We have founded and operated companies. We have been in senior leadership roles. We have been involved in strategic planning and risk management, and we have been responsible for people’s livelihoods. We have forgone pay cheques ourselves to make sure our workers, who often become our friends, get paid.
We take seriously people being able to keep their jobs and support their families. Leadership is acknowledging when there are areas that need focus. It is common practice and good governance to put extra effort into important topics.
Striking this committee would be comparable in the business environment to an ad hoc committee, which would have a specific goal or focus and exist for a set amount of time. At the international trade committee we already have several studies cued up. We are quite behind due to sitting only once between April and September 2020, partially due to the prorogation of Parliament. Other committees are in a similar position.
This Canada-U.S. committee would allow the freedom to focus on the important relationship with this partner. There is a new U.S. administration from which we have already seen some new policies that are affecting businesses and workers in Canada, and that are affecting everyday lives in important sectors.
Our economies and supply chains are integrated, and I will explain what that really means. We may have the raw materials in one country, let us say the U.S., which are shipped to the other country, Canada, where a product is made in a Canadian business, and then sent back to the U.S. and perhaps turned into another item. This is the integration of our supply chains. This happens every day across our border in multiple industries, likely in the ridings of almost every member of the House.
The ’s response to important Canada-U.S. economic issues has been concern or disappointment. Canadian businesses and workers deserve hope and plans. Concern and disappointment are not enough, and they are neither a strategy nor a plan.
One emerging issue is the new buy American executive order signed by President Biden, which has stronger language than we have seen before. This executive order creates a new made in America office within the President’s office. It will substantially reduce the ability for Canadian businesses to participate in U.S. government procurement contracts.
We have already heard from business groups that are concerned, and there is a lot of uncertainly. A small manufacturing business in my riding explained to me that they sell through a distributor in the U.S., which sells to a department of the U.S. federal government. It is unclear if this new buy American policy will outright stop them being able to have these sales.
In 2019, Canadian companies had nearly 700 million dollars' worth of government contracts in the United States. I spoke with a representative of an industry association the other day who thought this might actually be higher due to the integration of our supply chains.
When buy America provisions were announced by the Obama administration a decade ago, the previous Conservative government got to work. They showed those on both sides of the border the importance of the integrated North American supply chain and that promoting and ensuring our mutual economic recoveries were important during the financial crisis of that time. The then Conservative government negotiated an agreement that allowed Canadian companies to be exempt from buy America policies and to continue participating in U.S. government procurement.
We need our current government to work immediately to do the same to ensure stability for our local manufacturing businesses and workers, who depend on this cross-border supply chain. We are in a vulnerable position because, while the buy America policy is addressed in chapter 13 of CUSMA, Canada did not negotiate this and it only applies to the U.S. and Mexico.
The establishment of a special committee on Canada-U.S. economic relations would allow members of Parliament to do a comprehensive dive into the Biden administration's buy America rules. This motion before us specifically addresses instructing the committee to present an interim report on this matter.
Regarding another emerging issue in the past, 31 of my colleagues in the official opposition and I sent a letter to the and the urging immediate government attention. Last September, the United States International Trade Commission began an investigation on U.S. blueberry imports. Additional investigations began on strawberries and bell peppers. Canada was the fourth-largest producer of total U.S. blueberry imports in 2019 and, according to the BC Blueberry Council, was the largest supplier of frozen blueberries. These numbers represent $750 million of our exports to the U.S., which support 8,300 farming families and thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
Our hard-working farmers play an integral role in the economy, and we urge the government for immediate action on this. Apple orchardists in my riding are selling below cost due to large quantities of low-priced apples coming in from the U.S., and many are near bankruptcy. The creation of this special committee would allow us to get ahead of these issues.
We also cannot forget that our forestry workers are still looking for stability and a resolution to the current softwood lumber dispute. The previous Conservative government successfully negotiated a softwood lumber agreement with the U.S. government providing this much-needed certainty. Unfortunately, the current government has yet to reach a similar agreement. While I welcome reduced duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports, which were announced last November, this would not have been an issue if we had been able to negotiate a new softwood lumber agreement with the United States.
When we were debating Bill , the CUSMA implementation bill, around this same time last year, I recall the Conservatives raised the issue of the softwood lumber dispute not being addressed by the government then. This was a missed opportunity, as there were over 6,000 jobs lost in the second quarter of 2020 alone.
In my maiden speech of this House in 2019, I raised the issue of the only lumber mill in my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country, the Kelowna division of Tolko, announcing its decision to close at the beginning of 2020, creating hardship for all those families. This has been a trend in our resource sectors. It is important that we stand up for our responsible resource sectors, a backbone of our economy. We need to get the government to succeed in removing countervailing measures on softwood lumber exports and stand up for Canadian resources, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
I know my colleagues in this House across all party lines will talk on a number of important issues. I will move this conversation forward. We are talking about food security, energy security and mutual economic recovery. With the establishment of this committee, we can strengthen our resolve when acting on the best interests of Canadians.
We must start planning to rebuild, reopen our economy and get Canadians back to work. We are focused on securing jobs, our economy and our future. I encourage all members of this House to vote in favour of this motion, so we can get to work.
Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague from for her excellent speech. I thank her, as well as the , for moving the motion we are debating this morning, which would create a special committee to examine the economic relationship between Canada and the United States.
For more than 200 years, our two relatively young countries have been very prosperous in large part because of shared resources representing trade estimated at $1.5 billion per day. Until recently, 300,000 people crossed our common border monthly. We shared and traded not just raw materials but also manufactured goods and expertise in many specialized fields.
It is a symbiotic and reciprocal relationship in most cases. In 2019, the United States sold us $360 billion in goods and services, and Canada sold the U.S. $358 billion in goods and services. It is a two-way relationship that was going relatively well.
However, we cannot take anything for granted. Often there is a protectionist undercurrent, which hits Canada hard every time, after the elections that are held every two years in the country of Uncle Sam, and even after the election of a new president, as we saw this year. The good relationship that we have been relying on for so long is challenged and some sectors of the economy end up targeted by bans or new punitive tariffs whose only purpose is to look good with a small minority of the American electorate or a well-organized lobby. It is unfortunate, but it happens.
I believe the new special committee we are proposing would allow Canada to set the record straight on trade and ensure that our country is not the victim of punitive measures, most of which are absolutely not deserved.
The existing Standing Committee on International Trade is very important for the Canadian economy and I commend those of my colleagues who are members. However, contentious issues between Canada and the United States are starting to pile up and could jeopardize the economic recovery we are counting on once this taxing crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us.
Allow me to name a few, starting with the softwood lumber tariffs, which affected the forestry industry across Quebec and Canada. Some companies in my riding were hit very hard. Lumber exports from Groupe Lebel in Rivière-du-Loup, Maibec and Matériaux Blanchet in Saint-Pamphile, and Bois Daaquam in Saint-Just-de-Bretenières were all unfairly slapped with a 20% U.S. customs tariff. Although these tariffs were ultimately lowered to 10%, they still cost companies like Groupe Lebel $1.5 million a month.
We are a long way from the agreement the Harper government signed in 2006, which gave the forestry industry 10 years of stability and predictability. Canada's forestry industry did not present a threat to American producers; it helped them meet the ever-growing demand. Between 2001 and 2015, before the tariffs were imposed, the American forestry industry experienced a 10% increase in demand, and demand for softwood lumber increased by 21%.
Despite the pandemic, 841,000 new residential construction projects got off the ground in the United States in 2020, which caused the demand for wood and its price to skyrocket. The U.S. forestry sector is not in crisis and Canada is certainly not going to drive down the prices, since it is only responding to demand. However, the Liberal government is just washing its hands of the whole issue and allowing the tariffs dispute to drag on in the courts, causing further delays. We believe it is important for the government to step up and commit to settling this dispute quickly with the new Biden administration.
There is also the whole Buy America issue when it comes to transportation and infrastructure, which I have raised in the past. According to U.S. rules, when a public transit network in the United States receives federal funding, it is required to buy equipment containing a minimum percentage of American content, sometimes even as much as 70%. Favouritism happens in the U.S., but not in Canada. In 2018, I raised this inequity, noting that the Liberal government, here in Canada, awarded a major contract to procure Via Rail cars from Siemens, cars that are built in California. This is in addition to Ottawa's light rail cars that were built in New York.
It is this government's duty to defend free access to the U.S. market especially for products we need, like vaccines. We also want the people of Maine and other U.S. states to have free access to the Canadian market.
Many Canadians welcomed the election of President Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris south of the border. Incidentally, she used to live in Montreal. After four years of “America First” and treaties constantly being disputed by the former president, we were hoping for a bit of calm and predictability.
Once again, however, the of Canada lacked the clout to get things done, and, in less time than it takes to say “Buy America”, President Biden issued new executive orders disregarding the special relationship we supposedly have enjoyed as neighbours and allies for decades. Such failures threaten Canada's economic future, and we must act quickly to defend our interests.
Several of my colleagues will address the issue of the energy industry, but I want to say loud and clear how important it is.
Keystone XL was vital for maintaining and growing Canada's revenues for a resource that will remain essential for at least 50 years, no matter what anyone says. It is unacceptable that Canada is letting tens of billions of dollars go to other countries every year, when we need that money here to fund our health care system, old age pensions and all the other services. Although members of other parties keep crying out for those things, they continue to oppose any development that would actually help fund them.
Canadians should also be worried about Enbridge Line 5 through Michigan, since it serves not only to export our oil to the United States, but also to supply southern Ontario and regions as far as Montreal. Without this safe, efficient way to supply our refineries, we could see even more ships on the St. Lawrence River in the future, close to home, which would be catastrophic. Not only would this bring us our quest for energy self-sufficiency to a standstill, but it would mean a step backwards in terms of environmental risks.
A special committee on Canada-U.S. economic relations would allow us to study all pressing issues related to international trade. The Leader of the Opposition's motion calls for this committee to convene its first meeting very soon, on February 23, since the situation is urgent.
The , who was transport minister at the time, responded that we had no choice because of our free trade agreements with the United States. If I understand his reasoning, we cannot sell them our trains, but we will be required to purchase theirs.
The Conservative Party is not a protectionist party. We know that customs tariffs cause damage on both sides of the border because they inflate prices for everyone. We do not want to take work away from the United States. We want to join forces and share the knowledge we have acquired over the years in rail transportation.
Not only do we have the Bombardier Transport plant in La Pocatière, which was recently acquired by Alston, but we also have a wide range of suppliers, such as Prelco, in Rivière-du-Loup; Technologies Lanka and Graphie 222, in La Pocatière; the LG Cloutier Group, in L’Islet; and Usines métallurgiques and Chabot Carrosserie, in Montmagny. Each of these businesses has spent years perfecting the parts that they supply. This is a topic I am quite familiar with.
I want to add that in light of what my colleague from said earlier in response to a question from the member for , the existing committees are all running behind on their work. This committee must be created as quickly as possible so we can ensure good governance in our relations with the United States in the coming months and years.
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the motion today. Canada and the United States have long enjoyed one of the most productive, collaborative and mutually beneficial bilateral relationships in the world. It is a partnership of neighbours forged by geography, ennobled by shared values, enriched by common interests, maintained through deep people-to-people connections and reflected in powerful economic and security ties.
Our two countries enjoy the largest trading relationship in the world. We defend and protect North America. We are stewards of our shared environment. We stand on the world stage to respond to pressing global challenges together. This has been true over the course of history. It is true today and it will be true in the days and years to come.
These are not merely words or abstractions. This deep relationship between our two countries is reflected in the relationship between our leaders. Just two weeks ago, President Biden made Canada his choice as his first call to a foreign leader. Together, the and the President reaffirmed our shared values and interests both at home and on the global stage.
Just this past Monday, the spoke with Vice-President Kamala Harris, also her first call to a foreign leader. As many members of this chamber know, the Vice-President has a special relationship with Canada. She recalled her years spent in my hometown of Montreal with fondness. In fact, she went to school in my riding.
I spoke to my counterpart, Secretary Blinken, almost immediately after his appointment, when we reaffirmed the special relationship our countries shared and committed to working together on our shared priorities.
This personal connection is something I share. I spent many memorable years living in the United States, where I trained alongside American astronauts and where my children were born.
If I may begin by talking about COVID-19, the fundamental priority we share with the United States is to end the global pandemic. The spread of COVID-19 has caused upheaval in both Canada and the United States, and we have taken unprecedented action to combat the pandemic, support our citizens and stabilize both economies.
The pandemic has also highlighted how our important and unique bilateral relationship has shaped the way we have managed our co-operation in these uncertain times. Last March, Canada and the United States arrived at a far-reaching agreement to limit discretionary travel across the border, an understanding that has been extended several times by mutual agreement. The magnitude of this decision cannot be overstated. Ours is one of the busiest land borders in the world, with approximately 400,000 people crossing it on any given day.
The smooth flow of people and goods across this border is vitally important to both economies and communities on both sides. In the face of such high stakes, our two countries collaborated in an orderly fashion and quickly arrived at an agreement aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. The agreement has resulted in a 90% reduction in the number of travellers crossing the border while maintaining the flow of essential goods and travellers.
This collaboration set the tone for subsequent co-operation in getting our citizens home, ensuring the continued operation of our supply chains or assisting each other in the production and procurement of medical supplies and other essential goods. A striking example has been our co-operation to procure personal protective equipment, or PPE. As in so many other countries, Canada-U.S. trade in PPE is bilateral and reciprocal. Our collaboration allowed for the smooth flow of PPE across the border and into the hands of health care workers in both countries.
Canadian and American partners are also working together and investing in research to fight the virus with collaboration on 15 different diagnostic and vaccine projects.
Let me say a few words about our trading relationship with the United States.
In 2019, bilateral trade of goods and services totalled $997 billion. That is more than $2.7 billion in trade every day. Our level of economic integration is unique. Approximately 77% of Canadian exports to the U.S. are inputs used to make goods in the U.S. In addition, what we sell to the U.S. contains, on average, roughly 21% American content. We make things together and add value together. Canada is the number one market for most U.S. states, 32 in fact in 2019, and over 74% of Canada's goods exports go to the U.S.
The U.S. is the single greatest investor in Canada. In 2019, U.S. stock investment in Canada was $455 billion, representing nearly half of all investment in Canada.
The enduring trade relationship that has helped build this remarkable regional economic engine, starting with the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in 1989 and continuing with the NAFTA agreement in 1994, has been a model of success for the world. Over generations, Canada, the United States and Mexico have built the biggest economic region in the world, encompassing a $32.2 trillion regional economic market, representing more than 492 million consumers.
We renewed our commitment to the trilateral commercial relationship with the entry into force of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, CUSMA. This new NAFTA addresses modern trade challenges, reduces red tape at the border and provides enhanced predictability and stability for workers and businesses across the integrated North American market. Crucially, the new agreement preserves virtually duty-free trade in North America and ensures the continued predictable and secure market access for Canadian exporters to the United States. These outcomes reinforce integrated North American supply chains and help enhance our competitiveness globally.
Of course, the government also recognizes the critical role energy plays in our trade relationship. Jobs, economic security and competitiveness on both sides of the border depend on our bilateral energy trade. Canada and the United States have a unique energy relationship. We know that the United States is Canada's most important market for energy. In turn, Canada is the largest and most secure foreign source of energy for the United States, including crude oil, natural gas, hydroelectricity and uranium.
In 2019, 91% of Canada's energy exports were destined for the U.S., totalling nearly $125 billion in value. The reverse was also true. Canada is the second-largest market for U.S. energy exports, and these exports play an important role in ensuring Canada has a reliable and secure energy supply.
The truth is that Canada and the U.S. have a highly integrated energy infrastructure system, which allows for the optimization of current global competitiveness, benefiting both Canada and the U.S. We know that the energy sector provides thousands of well-paying, middle-class jobs on both sides of the border.
An essential element of this energy system is a cross-border energy infrastructure, including pipelines. As the said directly to President Biden during their call two weeks ago, “we are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfill his election campaign promise on Keystone XL.”
This said, the Canadian oil industry moves through over 70 pipelines, creating one of the most integrated energy systems between two countries. We will continue to make the case that to continue to deliver and enhance the benefits of Canadian oil and gas to the U.S. we need to build and maintain the necessary infrastructure to get products where they are needed.
I would be remiss if I did not also mention our ongoing legal challenges related to Line 5. Our government has been clear. This pipeline, including the tunnel project under the Straits of Mackinac, is crucial to economic and energy security on both sides of the border. There is no question of Line 5's importance. It supports thousands of jobs in Ontario, Quebec and western Canada. It is essential for keeping the lights and heat on for thousands of Canadians and Americans. It provides a critically important fuel source for farmers and industry.
Line 5 has been operating safely for 68 years. A comprehensive nine-month review concluded that it would not affect protected public uses of Michigan's water resources. Even Michigan state's own environmental body has said that the project is safe.
These are the arguments our government has been raising with American officials and we are using every tool at our disposal to see to it that Line 5 continues its operation. We continue to promote our other sources of energy as well.
On electricity, exports of Canadian hydroelectricity provide clean, renewable, firm 24-7 baseload to many U.S. states. Electricity crosses the U.S.-Canada border along more than 30 major transmission lines, unrestricted by physical barriers, as part of an effective, efficient and highly integrated North American energy grid.
This highly integrated system benefits both Canada and the United States. Operators consistently take advantage of spare energy capacity in neighbouring jurisdictions to optimize their own systems. Ratepayers benefit from a more reliable and resilient electrical system that spans the international border.
Canadian hydro also contributes to U.S. energy security and helps states meet critical greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and move to a low-carbon economy.
Canada is also a leader in nuclear energy. Canada supplies the U.S. with 33% of the fuel used for its reactors, which in turn generate one-fifth of U.S. electricity. Industry and government in both countries are also collaborating on developing advanced nuclear technology, including the next-generation small modular reactors.
In the current context of a global pandemic, it is clearly more important than ever that we work closely to ensure a secure, reliable, sustainable supply of energy sources for North America and the world.
Of course, energy security is only one important factor in our region's safety and overall security. Canada and the United States work closely together in the area of national and international defence.
Canadians and Americans have depended on each other for decades. From the Halifax explosion to the beaches of northern France in World War II, from the hours and days following the September 11, 2001, attacks to the wildfires that devastated California and Oregon last fall, Canadians and Americans have faced the great challenges of the continent and the world side by side.
Today, hundreds of members of the Canadian Armed Forces continue to serve alongside their U.S. allies across America and around the world. The job of protecting the North American homeland continues under the watchful eye of Canadian and American aviators, sailors, soldiers, police officers and firefighters.
A further element that unites us is our shared natural environment.
For example, Canada and the U.S. share many waterways that mark or cross our shared border from the Great Lakes to rivers such as the mighty St. Lawrence. The shores of these lakes and rivers are home to tens of millions of Americans and Canadians, and decisions made within the basins of one country have consequences for the other. Hence, their joint stewardship is a cornerstone of Canada-U.S. relations.
Finally, despite so much progress together, we must acknowledge that our societies face similar difficulties and shameful legacies. Canadians continue to grieve alongside our American friends at the countless victims of police violence around the world. These are not isolated incidents or elsewhere problems.
Prejudice, discrimination and violence are a lived reality for too many people in Canada, just as they are elsewhere. In the face of these injustices we must be clear. We condemn anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination in all its forms. That is what thousands of principled Americans and Canadians have been doing throughout our two countries and we continue to admire and honour their work.
We hear the same calls for a more inclusive and just society here in Canada, where systemic racism is a problem every single day. Canada is not a bystander. As neighbours, this is a burden our two societies share, and we must do better together. Indeed, when the spoke with the vice-president this past Monday, he underscored the need to promote diversity, inclusion and mental health, as well as the importance of addressing online hate, firearms trafficking and gender-based violence. Just yesterday, we listed the white supremacist group the Proud Boys, and others, as a terrorist organization. Our fight against the forces of intolerance and racism is unequivocal.
It is clear that the Canada-U.S. relationship can withstand and even grow in the context of extraordinary challenges. After all, our relationship is a model for the world.
The and President Biden agreed to meet to further the important work of renewing the close and enduring friendship between Canada and the United States. Canada is pleased that this meeting will be taking place and is looking forward to future co-operation.
It is crucial to find partners that we can trust and who will stand by us, even amid the world's relentless challenges. For Canada and the U.S., those partners are each other. We will remain partners, friends, allies and neighbours.
Madam Speaker, first, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with my esteemed colleague from .
I am pleased to rise today as the Bloc Québécois critic for international trade. First, I would like to say that the Bloc Québécois supports the official opposition’s proposal to create a special committee to take a close look at Canada-U.S. economic relations.
The text of the official opposition’s motion lists certain topics that will be studied by the committee, but specifies that the committee will not be limited to these matters. That is fortunate, since there is no shortage of topics.
The government will have to answer for its various fiascos. In its negotiations with the United States, the government used farmers under supply management as a bargaining chip. The same government abandoned our aluminum industry, the cleanest in the world, and failed to settle our forestry file, namely the softwood lumber issue.
The government will also have to explain its dealings with the U.S. government with respect to the COVID-19 vaccines. The pace at which Canada is receiving the vaccines it procured, with no guarantee as to delivery date, is a cause for concern. Deliveries were delayed or postponed several times. Quebec even had to suspend its vaccination operations because it had no vaccines.
Unfortunately, we know that the Liberals do not like it when committee members ask questions. The government turned a deaf ear to a Bloc Québécois request to create a special committee tasked with reviewing all COVID-19 spending despite the clear need for that review.
The most recent protectionist measures implemented by the U.S. government are chilling. Illusions are being shattered and the Care Bears are gone. We are dismayed to have to face the truth we did not want to see: former President Donald Trump did not invent protectionism and trade wars; they existed before him, and they will continue to exist long after.
The most recent protectionist measures are a reminder that governments make policy based on their interests. No country, even a political ally, will give its neighbour a gift out of the goodness of its heart. The concept of “doux commerce” is a myth. The market is not, as was once held, a place where a buyer and a seller meet and all is well. That is an outdated romantic notion. The market is a competitive place where every tactic is fair.
Competition has reigned since the stone age. You could even call it economic warfare. Let us not mince words. People may say that world organizations are there to regulate all of that, but let us not be naive: they will never eliminate the impact of the balance of power. There are still some countries that are stronger than others.
Consider the World Bank. Decision-making power is based on a country’s capital subscription. It is like a shareholder meeting where countries are represented by a board of governors. As in a shareholder meeting, the weight, the voting power, of each country is based on its economic value. At this time, the United States is the World Bank’s principal shareholder.
The United States is unabashedly committed to economic nationalism, hence the Buy American Act, which we are discussing today. We recognize that that is essentially a legitimate strategy. I would even go so far as to say that, like the United States, which promotes national production, Quebec should also reduce its dependence on external markets when it comes to the procurement of essential goods.
Economic nationalism is a principle that is completely foreign to Canada, except maybe when it comes to the banking, oil and auto sectors. In contrast, it is part of the DNA of Quebec, which has a number of Crown corporations that serve as strategic tools. Take, for example, Hydro-Québec, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the former Société générale de financement.
That is a fact of life for us. We understand why the Americans want to privilege their own markets and companies at a time when buying local is being promoted. Every nation makes policy based on its own interests. We are here to defend the interests of Quebec, and we know that the United States is our main trade partner. We are doing well by having access to U.S. markets. Nearly 12,000 Quebec companies do business with Uncle Sam.
I want to draw members' attention to a very specific and extremely important aspect of U.S. hyper-protectionism, and that is the fact that the country's law is often put to the service of its power.
That is something that the committee proposed today should pay attention to, because Washington implemented a very effective legal system targeting the extraterritoriality of American law. The U.S. Congress believes that the laws it passes in the United States apply to the entire planet. There are many such laws, particularly regarding the oversight of foreign investments, but there are two main aspects to this tentacular way of doing things: the fight against corruption and the fight against embargo violations.
The fight against corruption in the United States began after the Watergate scandal. A number of high-profile investigations revealed that U.S. companies abroad were using bribes to gain privileged market access. In 1977, the government of the day passed a law forcing those companies to declare bribes in their financial records. The fight against corruption is beneficial in and of itself, of course, but it is surprising that the U.S. is not a party to the International Criminal Court.
It is strategic. The fight against corruption does not stop there. Look at the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which governs accounting rules for companies that are publicly traded in the U.S., whether they are American or not, and for their foreign subsidiaries. The act gives agencies access to the information they want, including a company's strategic secrets. Then there is the Bank Secrecy Act, which provides access to information about U.S. banks' foreign partners.
I will now turn to the issue of embargo violations. The United States believes that there are rogue states with which their companies must not do business. In 1996, they passed the Helms-Burton Act, whose stated objective is to dismantle the Cuban regime by targeting every business around the world. A few months later, the U.S. D'Amato-Kennedy Act continued the process with Iran and Libya. These acts set a ceiling on businesses wanting to trade with these countries. They even refer to trade as trafficking, which shows how much these countries are seen as a plague. Note that trade with these countries is not in any way condemned by the UN or the WTO. It was because of a violation of a U.S. law imposing retaliatory sanctions against Iran that Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, not because of an ordinary crime. Forcing other countries to abide by U.S. laws is therefore extremely important. In 1997, to resist the U.S. offensive, Canada amended its Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act. In reality, however, it continued discussions with the Americans to get exemptions for its businesses, thereby legitimizing the 1996 legislation.
In early 2002, the United States deployed an extremely powerful tool to combat terrorism, increasing sanctions in the name of national security and actively promoting the economic interests of the U.S. The American courts then have the power summon a company, require that it co-operate and make their case by threatening to simply deny it access to the U.S. market. When lawyers get involved, the business runs the risk of having them siphon off highly sensitive information, internal strategies, and all the data, messages and internal communications that it cannot erase from its servers. The Department of Justice funnels data to intelligence services as set out in various U.S. laws. In practice, in the world of international trade, this results in agreements. In the U.S. justice system, the judge only makes an appearance at the end, which makes it entirely possible that the foreign company will be gutted.
In 1993, Secretary of State Warren Christopher stated before Congress that to face economic competition the U.S. needed to employ the same means used to win the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Make no mistake, Washington suspends the economic sovereignty of any nation that engages in practices deemed unacceptable by Uncle Sam. We must not be complacent and naive about this. The U.S. is competing, at times fiercely, with Russia, China, Japan and Germany, but we must not accept everything and anything. We must study this matter, and I hope the committee will do so.
The United States is a powerful partner, but we must not lose sight of the nature of this power. We must not get caught up in wishful thinking only to possibly wind up disillusioned.
Madam Speaker, the motion before us today reflects what the public needs. People need answers and a vision for the future that brings hope. They do not need sound bites that make for great video clips and advertising.
One might ask how studying the economic relationship between the United States and Canada can bring hope. The United States is our largest trading partner. In fact, 70% of Quebec's exports are destined for the American market. Canadian exports to the United States are worth $650 billion. Those figures represent normal times, but these are not normal times.
Today I will address some unanswered questions, namely, the importance of learning from the past, doing better and properly preparing for recovery.
Last week, exactly seven days ago to the minute, I made a speech in the House during which I asked a lot of questions. Those questions reflected the concerns of the people of Beauport—Limoilou, Quebec and all of Canada. Those questions reflected the suffering of people who no longer know what to think, whom to believe or where we are going.
Will the vaccines arrive in time? Will everyone be vaccinated in 2021 or 2022? No one knows. There are targets, of course, but a target is not a plan. I will come back to that.
Why is there so much secrecy around vaccine contracts and agreements in Canada but not in the U.S., where the public has access to the information? How much does it cost to procure, transport and store the vaccines? Why are we not getting more vaccines and equipment from our closest neighbour and biggest partner? What consequences does the Buy American Act have on Canada? What are the diplomatic or local solutions to these consequences? What solutions could we come up with? What are our objectives and means to achieve them? When do we want to achieve them by?
In short, what is the plan?
It is not right that I, as an elected member, have so many questions unanswered. Imagine how the public feels right now. It is not right that Canada has slipped to 33rd in the world for its vaccination efforts and the government offers so little by way of answers to us and the public.
It is not right for a G7 country to be on the COVAX list, a list that is meant to help disadvantaged countries get access to vaccines. Am I missing something? Since when is Canada a disadvantaged country? What is happening?
The committee will allow us to study these issues and work together on finding solutions and the means to implement them. I will use the example of equipment and vaccines to illustrate the usefulness of the committee.
The past is no indication of the future. This adage is true only if we learn from past mistakes. As I was saying, we were warned about the possibility of a pandemic. We had the SARS crisis in 2003 and the H1N1 crisis in 2009-10. A 2013 note in the journal Études internationales, made after these crises, revealed that not only did pharmaceutical companies line their pockets, but resources were wasted in both cases.
Can we talk about this, promptly analyze what has been done and what still needs to be done, and then make sure that we do not make the same mistakes? Taxpayers' money should never be wasted.
It is not too late to avoid the mistakes of the past, and it is our duty to ensure we do not repeat them. However, I sincerely believe that what was done in both of the earlier crises was done in an effort to meet Canadians' needs. That does not mean that mistakes were not made. It means that our intentions were good.
We are precisely in the same position now. If we do not take a realistic, non-partisan look at our decisions, we risk wasting more of our valuable resources once again. It is especially important to take a look at our economic relations with the United States in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
How does our relationship with the U.S. affect our supply capacity? Is what we have a true partnership? If so, all the better; is there a way of improving that partnership? If not, why is our relationship not a true partnership? Is someone getting fleeced? Is it us? Is it the United States? Is it a little of both depending on the situation? We have a duty to examine the true impact of our most important partnership.
Let me get back to the mistakes made in past crises. We also need to avoid what was done in the months following these crises: The Conservatives made cuts to university research, and the Liberals did not reinvest massively in this area.
I know that it is no fun to have our mistakes pointed out and be forced to admit them. I am aware of that, but the responsible and rational thing to do is to recognize our mistakes and work to correct them and to avoid repeating them.
I have more questions. The former U.S. administration nearly crushed our efforts to combat COVID-19 mainly by imposing restrictions on exports of 3M supplies. Was there a cost attached to negotiations for the unrestricted supply of these supplies? Are there restrictions on vaccines? What are these restrictions and why do they exist? I will reiterate that there is a Pfizer facility in Michigan. Why is that facility not supplying us with vaccines?
Our existing trade agreements are controlling the current situation and we must take the time to study whether or not they benefit both partners. We can do better and we now must do better for Canadians and for the future. A plan requires objectives and we have many of them: six million vaccine doses in March, 20 million more by June, for a total of 80 million in December. We have many objectives, but not the means to achieve them or a strict timeline. Everyone is calling for solutions.
A committee could study all this and ensure that we have an optimal recovery for Quebeckers and Canadians, along with our most important partner, which we hopefully can depend on.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to this motion today that highlights the importance of the relationship between Canada and the United States. It is something that I think all Canadians know very well, particularly Canadians in business and those many workers who either cross the border every day or work in industries that have goods crossing the border every day.
I want to start by recognizing the importance of this relationship to the well-being of the country, both economically and beyond, because those economic ties also create social and political ties that are important to keeping a productive peace and partnership within the North American context.
Over the last four years, we saw just how difficult life could get for Canadians when the administration in the United States was not of a view to respect, support and cultivate that long-standing relationship. A number of problems came up. I am thinking particularly of workers in the softwood lumber industry. It was not a new problem, but that administration put its stamp on the relationship, in the way the former president was wont to do. It caused a lot of hardship for Canadian companies and workers who really ought to have been able to sell their products according to the terms and conditions that so many other goods are sold under to the United States.
We continue to look for a resolution to that issue. A number of governments of different stripes have turned some attention to that issue and come up short. I think of the Harper government that abandoned successful suits through various trade agreements, just on the cusp of victory. That was the feeling of many people in Canada at the time. Then we saw a new comprehensive trade agreement negotiated with the United States in the last Parliament, and an equal lack of success when it came to resolving some of the long-standing issues in the softwood lumber trade.
Focusing some of Parliament's attention on this issue again is always welcome in an attempt to come up with real and constructive ways forward that are not just about the politics of the issue, but are about how we can support Canadian workers in good jobs to be able to continue what they are doing.
I think about workers in the steel and aluminum industry who, notwithstanding progress towards a trade deal that was supposed to cover these things, seriously upset their industry. A lot of anxiety and damage was caused by tariffs that never should have been imposed in the first place, and were imposed for the most specious of reasons. The claim by the previous U.S. administration that Canada was somehow a national security threat was just ridiculous to anybody who knew anything about the issue and did not have a political agenda in the United States.
There are a lot of issues. It is an important relationship. It is something that we absolutely ought to be looking at.
I make note of the fact that we have a special committee right now on Canada-China. It bears mentioning, as many members in the House will know, that this has been an extraordinary time for Parliament, and has taxed its resources. Folks who have been around for a while and are used to sitting on committees that sometimes meet after hours or in the evenings know that has not been possible, in part because the House resources are extended by providing service to our normal committees, to the House itself and to a special committee of the House.
We know that it is not just about bandwidth, but also about the people who support that work, especially our interpreters. We have heard a lot of reports about the rate of injury among interpreters. There is a high vacancy rate now within our normal contingent of interpreters. There was a story at the beginning of the year, and we are not far into the year, about how the substitute roster for our interpreters was beginning to see attrition as interpreters were injured.
Part of that had to do with the amount of time they were spending on Zoom, so there are issues about members using headsets, but there are also issues about the amount of time they are spending doing their jobs in this way with equipment that is not meant for it.
As members get excited about studying important issues, we ought to think about how we can use the existing time and resources of our standing committees. As the NDP's member on the Standing Committee on International Trade, I would be very happy to take this up as a study through the normal committee process. It is important that we study the issue. New Democrats are very open to a discussion about how best to do that, and we recognize that House resources come into play and that parliamentarians have a responsibility to think meaningfully about how we deploy our parliamentary resources to best effect.
I want to reiterate our openness to looking at different ways to ensure that we pursue the subject matter of the motion, but do it in a way that makes the most sense given the resources that are available.
This motion singles out a couple of topics for an interim report. I note that, when we had the debate on the Special Committee for Canada-China Relations, the House was not as prescriptive. It did not single out particular issues. I said earlier that previous debate in the House will reflect that the Canada-U.S. relationship has many dimensions. Even if we just look at the economic relationship, there are a lot of dimensions to it and many of them are important to Canadians who work in all sorts of industries.
While I appreciate the extent to which certain issues have come to the fore with the change in U.S. administration, I wonder at the wisdom of being so prescriptive. One of the virtues of establishing a study, whether at the standing committee or in some special forum, is to have parliamentarians get a handle on what some of the major issues are after hearing testimony from players in that economic relationship, and then giving them the latitude to decide when an interim report would be timely, and on what issues.
In the last Parliament, we saw how things could take a turn with a more hostile U.S. administration. We are all looking forward to a more constructive relationship with a new U.S. administration. It presents certain risks and opportunities. It is definitely a great moment to be looking at Canada's relationship with the United States because there are a lot of opportunities right now.
While some members want to focus on the negative side of those opportunities, particularly when it comes to the energy sector, and make hay from the fact that a U.S. president followed through on an election commitment that also reflects a long-standing policy of his party, the fact is other opportunities are opening up, particularly when it comes to clean energy. The U.S. administration has announced a desire to focus on the problem of climate change, and for many Canadians that is a welcome emphasis. A lot of Canadians would like to see their elected representatives giving serious thought to the kinds of economic opportunities that will open up. They are happy about the positive environmental consequences of having a U.S. administration focused on the problem of climate change, but also to ask what kinds of economic opportunities this will open up over the next four years and how Canada can position itself to take advantage of those economic opportunities and create meaningful employment for Canadians while we tackle the climate crisis here.
Of course, talking about buy America is very important at this time. The U.S. President's emphasis on buy America is not new, and has often been touted across political lines. However, the emphasis on it is rightly a worry to many Canadians who depend on access to the U.S. market in order to earn their livelihoods.
Regarding automobiles, New Flyer Industries here in Winnipeg is a bus manufacturer that sells the lion's share of its product into the United States. It has structured its business model knowing there is always an emphasis on buy America within the United States. We are hopeful the company's business plan will insulate it from that. However, it is by far not the only company that will be affected.
That is why it is important to talk about the opportunities the new administration presents in terms of clean energy and transitioning away from fossil fuels, and how we ensure Canadians become employed in it. We also want to talk about the effects of the buy America policy and the various industries it will impact, particularly the auto industry. As one example, if there is public procurement for buses in the United States as part of that clean energy program, we want to make sure that Canadian manufacturers are getting access to those opportunities.
When we talk about Canadian procurement through CUSMA, we have provided American companies access to that too, but one of the glaring omissions of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement was that Canadian companies do not get reciprocal access to American projects. That needs to be fixed.
When we get into buy America, what we really get into is a discussion. When we talk about CUSMA, we were willing to sign on to an agreement as a country that left a gap, as it were, between our access to American public procurement and its access to Canada.
Part of it is driven by a blind faith, by both Liberals and Conservatives over the last 30 years, in the globalized trade agenda. Globalized trade can have advantages, for sure, but it is not the be-all and end-all. When we look at the United States and buy America, one of the things we see is a country that talks about the benefits of globalized trade when it suits its interests, but does not put all its eggs in that basket. It has clearly been willing to defend its own economy and vital interests.
When we look at vaccine procurement we see this again, with the European Union moving to protect its vaccine supply. Europe produces vaccines, and we do not produce them here in Canada. We did not get on the exempt list for the countries that will not have these new European Union measures apply to them. Some other countries that did not are the U.S., Australia and the U.K. What sets them apart from Canada? They all have domestic vaccine production.
Only in Canada do we have two political parties so committed to the global free-trade agreement that they did not do the job, when they were in government, of having real industrial plans for Canada and asking the question, even in the context of free global trade, of how we ensure that the nuts and bolts are here in Canada. Canada privatized and sold off a lot of its domestic vaccine production capability.
There is some capability here but, tellingly, Canada has waited to access that domestic vaccine production capacity. It did not make the investments early in the pandemic, and it sounds like we are going to be waiting at least a year to begin producing vaccines here at all. That is the result of a blind faith in a globalized trading system that even our trading partners do not have.
I think of our government and how, instead of thinking about how to have a domestic plan for vaccine manufacturing, its first thought was to go to the drug companies themselves and ask how to pay more. That was reported earlier this year in The Globe and Mail. The government asked companies manufacturing vaccines in Europe how we could pay more for more vaccine doses and faster access. That was its first thought.
It is that kind of behaviour that may have given rise to the measures the European Union ultimately took to protect its own vaccine manufacturing. That is because the government first thinks of going to big corporations instead of thinking of its duty to regulate in the public interest and make investments at home.
Our airline industry is in serious distress. We have had no plan at all for the airline industry from the government. Rather, we have seen a total laissez-faire approach to let the market decide. It seems that the position of the government is that if our airline industry does not make it, so be it. It offered the Canadian wage subsidy and then was upset when some airline companies took that subsidy and then laid off a bunch of workers anyway. It does not have a plan for the industry. We are meeting with people who represent workers in the airline industry. They say that there really is no plan. This is a strategic sector.
While we trade with other countries, and the U.S. among them, that are interested in liberalizing trade, they do not do that at the expense of having a plan for key industries that are the backbone of their economies. They do not do that at the expense of being able to manufacture important things like vaccines.
Canada has been the sucker for 30 years now when it comes to international trade. The Liberals and Conservatives alike have bought this hook, line and sinker instead of realizing our trading partners are talking free trade when it suits their interests, but have a domestic plan on how to deliver good jobs to their people and how deliver on the public health needs of their populations.
Let us talk about all those things, but let us give the committee the real breadth it needs to decide those priorities as it hears from witnesses.
With all that in mind, including a willingness to not only talk about where the study takes place, but some of the ways we think it might be improved, let us put some emphasis on new opportunities and not just the risks presented by the new administration in the United States.
Therefore, I propose the following amendment to the motion: That the motion be amended: (a) in subparagraph (2) by replacing the words “softwood lumber exports and related jobs” with the words “clean energy, softwood lumber exports and related jobs within a context of the global climate crisis; (b) in subparagraph (3) by adding after the word “policies”, the words “and their impact on the Canadian economy, including the automobile industry”; and (c) by deleting paragraphs (k) and (l).
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
For some 75 years, since the end of the Second World War, Canada and the United States have shared a strong relationship. As President John F. Kennedy famously said, “Geography has made us neighbours. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies.”
Seventy-five years after the pivot away from the end of one empire toward a new empire, it is clear America has changed. The rise of conspiracy theories like QAnon and white supremacism, the rise in extremism and polarization, and the events of January 6 last month are all evidence of that.
The U.S. administration has also changed. The previous administration, under Donald Trump, was unlike any other in modern American history. He renegotiated our free trade agreement, which, according to the C.D. Howe Institute, resulted in a 0.4% drop in our economic output relative to NAFTA.
The new Biden administration has made it clear that it is going to continue with many of the policies of the previous administration, policies such as “buy American” and increasing protectionism. In short, the Washington consensus that began with the end of the Cold War has evolved into the “America first” consensus. This trend of “America first” did not start with the previous Trump administration; it began well before that.
For example, under President Obama, the United States began a policy of withdrawing from global leadership, albeit in a more subtle style. Under President Obama, the United States decided its role in Libya would be “leading from behind” while encouraging allies to intervene. In 2013, President Obama pulled back from his threat to strike Syria after it used chemical weapons, an action he said would cross a red line.
Both President Obama and President Trump called on Canada to spend much more, double what we currently spend, on our military. In fact, I remember sitting in this very House of Commons in June of 2016 when President Obama called on us to double Canada's defence spending, something both sides of the aisle rose vigorously to applaud. Therefore we, as Canadians, need to be realistic and clear-eyed about these changes to our largest trading partner and ally.
While many Canadians breathed a sigh of relief at the inauguration of President Biden and Vice-President Harris, we should not fool ourselves and believe that all will return to the way it once was, even with a new U.S. president, who is a decent man with good intentions. The facts are right in front of us. On the very first day of the new Biden administration, it made a decision that damaged our economic recovery and threatens the very unity of this country by cancelling Keystone XL, a project that would have created some 15,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada. It moved quickly to disadvantage Canadian companies and workers when President Biden signed an executive order mandating a “buy American” policy.
The co-chair of the President's inauguration, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, is threatening to shut down Line 5, which has safely transported oil and gas products to Sarnia, Ontario, since 1953. This pipeline transports some 300,000 barrels a day of energy products, providing jet fuel for Pearson airport, gasoline for millions of people who live in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor and propane for many people living in Ontario. If this pipeline shuts down, it would not only threaten the environment by increasing transport by truck, train and boat over our Great Lakes; it would also threaten to cut off much-needed propane for home heating in Ontario and increase the chance of gasoline and jet fuel shortages in southern Ontario.
There is no doubt that outside of the bilateral issues of trade and investment, the new administration and Canada will find much in common. We Conservatives are hopeful that Canada and the United States can work together on a joint alliance to counter China's threats and to seek the release of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor. We are also hopeful that both of our countries can work together to engage, strengthen and reform multilateral organizations like the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization. We are hopeful that Canada and the United States can work together during this pandemic to secure PPE, medical devices, medical supplies and vaccines.
However, arguably the most important elements of the bilateral relationship are trade and investment, and on those it is clear that America has changed and that its actions are threatening Canadian jobs and livelihoods here at home, affecting millions of Canadians. As I mentioned earlier, the previous administration's actions on trade have cut Canadian economic growth by one-half of one per cent. The current administration's actions will no doubt contribute to a decline in Canadian economic growth and prosperity.
Our trade relationship with the United States has always been an asymmetrical one. We have always produced more beef, wheat, corn, cars, steel, aluminum and so many other products than we can consume, and so we have always needed to export these products to the United States.
The United States is our largest export market, and by a country mile. Our second-largest export market, China, is less than one-twentieth the size of the U.S. marketplace for Canadians. In fact, one out of five things we produce in this country is for export to the United States. That is one out of five jobs and one out of five dollars in economic output. However, the relationship is not symmetrical. We are not the largest U.S. export market. In fact, we buy the equivalent of less than 2% of America's economic output every year. In other words, they buy about 20% of our economic output, and we buy less than 2% of their economic output. In that context, the onus is on us to get their attention and to defend our interests, to defend our jobs and to defend Canadian workers. As former prime minister Brian Mulroney said, “an open door to the Oval Office opens many other doors for Canada.” We need to understand that America has changed and that we need to change how we approach Canada-U.S. relations in response.
Budgets do not balance themselves, vaccines will not deliver themselves and our economy will not rebuild itself. The time to plan to secure our future is now.
That is why I support today's motion. It will make it possible to create a special committee founded on one of the most important pillars of our recovery, namely the economic relationship between Canada and the United States. At a time when our two countries have to focus on getting people back to work and returning to our normal way of life post-COVID-19, this committee will get answers for Canadians and fight to secure our future.
Canadians need to get back to work. We need a plan to create jobs in every sector in every region of this country. We cannot afford another failure to plan. We must begin to plan to reopen and rebuild our economy and to get Canadians back to work. This motion, if adopted, would create a committee that would help to provide ideas to the government on how that can be done.
We must work together to secure our economic future. We must start now to secure our future after COVID-19, and that is why I encourage all members of the House to support this motion.
Madam Speaker, this is such great debate following the CUSMA deal that was just finished. There are a lot of things we could learn from our negotiations and handling of that process.
I think back when we first heard that the Trump administration wanted to renegotiate NAFTA, and the fear that was in the eyes of Liberals, Canadian businesses and everybody else. I remember the first few times we went to the U.S. to talk to people in Congress and in Senate about the relationship with Canada, and how we talked about how important Canadian businesses were in each of their districts. We talked about things that were important to the U.S. and how Canada has an impact on those things.
I also remember, after having those meetings, sitting down with the member for , former member Hon. Mark Eyking, and members of the trade committee and saying it is a relationship we take for granted, a relationship that just happens. Roughly $2 billion and 300,000 people cross that border every day during normal times. It just happens and it is so simple.
When we see a threat, we start to ask if we have done the right things to nurture that relationship and if we have always been involved and working closely with our American friends in a way that we should be, making sure that each country understands the importance to the other.
That is what I saw when we went to Washington during the CUSMA negotiations. The would make a gaffe, a comment that would blow up in the media. We would go down to talk to members of the Republican and Democratic parties to set the record straight, reminding them over and over again what we do together and how we are better together than apart.
That was one of the frustrations of the CUSMA agreement. It was an agreement that did not look at where we could gain strengths from all three different countries. It was an agreement that looked to protect what we had or what we could get from each other. That goes against the spirit of North America and the original NAFTA agreement.
That is why I think the committee could be really good. There would be opportunities to identify things that could work well for Canada and Canadian workers, and that could take advantage of the strengths that the U.S. has. It could also work well for the U.S. We need to look for those synergies. There are things we could do together in a variety of ways, not only in trade but also in foreign and military affairs, that would make us stronger together. Canada has a lot to contribute to that relationship. I will use a few examples.
Let us talk about regulations. We have always talked about having the same regulations. I find it interesting that when we travel to the U.S., we will find something that is safe to eat in the U.S. but when we come back to Canada we find that we cannot eat it here.
I will use the agriculture sector as an example. We look at things that at one time we either could not get or was hard to get in Canada, yet we could across over to Montana and get it. There were farmers who would actually hop in a van together and go down to buy it and come back. That difference does not make sense. Why would that regulation not be harmonized so that it would be consistent, whether in Montana or Saskatchewan, basically anywhere where beef is moving across the border all the time. Why would we have different rules and regulations?
We could really use the committee to identify some of those things that are becoming barriers that make us non-competitive in the world market. We could use the committee to look at solutions for things that make us uncompetitive and to remove those barriers while maintaining the safety of American and Canadian citizens. It could set the stage or standard around the world. We could be such a dominant player in so many areas.
It is really important to look at new technologies and clean technologies, which some of the other members have talked about today. When we think about clean technologies, as these new regulations are being developed, why would we not do this in conjunction with the U.S., using their strengths and our strengths together, so that we would force the rest of the world to actually follow those regulations? It would give us a competitive advantage. It would be the right way to do things. We know that if we do it here at home, in conjunction with the U.S., it would be done properly and safely. The end-user and consumer would be front and foremost. We have those skill sets. We just have to have the desire to work together to accomplish that.
We have seen buy American surface and the cancellation of Keystone. These are disturbing things that just re-emphasize the fact that we need to be down there constantly talking to our American colleagues and explaining to them how it is important to us and impacts us.
We were very successful in the CUSMA agreement talking about the importance of that relationship and putting it in the perspective of what it meant to members in different districts and to the Canadian economy. Sometimes I wonder if we need to do the same thing in Canada, if we need to start going across the provinces to talk about how important it is to buy a truck from Ontario, to get propane out of Alberta, to get lobster out of Nova Scotia and to get softwood lumber out of B.C., and what that would mean to all of us to have access to all of those great things we make here in Canada.
We could show some pride in our country and brag about that. Sometimes I think we are so focused on doing everything outside Canada that we forget and take for granted all of the wonderful things that we have within our country. There is some work that needs to be done there. Outside of this committee, that would be something else that our governments should get together and move forward on.
Getting back to the idea of a committee, with buy American, we did secure a situation where we had preferential access to that market. We did that, but we had some problems at the state and municipal levels. However, since 2009, we have had 36 states, I believe, that have signed onto the WTO, which would basically remove that problem. When I look at the history of our and his relationship with the new President, I think that would be easier to do now than it would have been under former Prime Minister Harper and President Obama. While I think they worked very well together, they were not necessarily the best of friends. However, they looked at this from both countries' perspectives and saw the advantage for both countries, and they managed to get it done. It was tougher at the state and municipal levels, and I think more work needs to be done there, but that work has to happen. It has to happen among all of our trade commissioners and a variety of people we have right across the U.S. who are promoting Canadian goods, and I trust that it is happening today.
Unfortunately, I cannot travel to the U.S. and, unfortunately, the member for cannot travel to the U.S. Unfortunately, the Canada-U.S. friendship group cannot do the things it had been doing in the background, such as on CUSMA, as effectively as it could back then. Members can see why this committee should be constructed.
I see so many ways this committee could focus on things that a trade committee or a natural resources committee just could not. We could actually give this the time it requires. We could give this relationship the effort it deserves, considering the importance of it to everybody in North America. I would not be surprised that if we went down this path, Americans would say, “What a great idea. This is our big trading partner. This is North America. Why do we not do the same thing and have that special committee?” We could start to see growth in understanding from talking back and forth, and the benefits for North America, for Canada and the U.S., that would definitely result from it.
There are many more things I could talk about in regard to this, but when I look at this committee, I just see opportunity, and I hope that is how all parties address it. Yes, there are problems and obstacles. It is no different from a family relationship between brothers and sisters, and there are times that are tough. The relationship with the U.S. is sometimes compared to a family relationship and sometimes to a relationship between an elephant and a mouse. Both of these are true. However, we have to work on this relationship and nurture it, and this committee could do that. This committee could have the ability and wisdom to look at things with a different perspective and take the time to talk to experts right across Canada and the U.S. on the best way to proceed.
A case in point is buy America. Why would we not bring in some Canadians, for example, our former ambassador, Mr. MacNaughton, who was there on tour during CUSMA, and listen to their wisdom to formulate a good policy moving forward? Why not bring in former members like Rona Ambrose, Stephen Harper or Ralph Goodale? The sky is the limit as far as the type of people we could bring into a committee like this to seek really good advice. When we have good advice, we make good decisions that are, in my view, to the benefit of all Canadians.
We talked a little about vaccinations, and this is something we should have been talking about five or six years ago when we first had SARS, such that, in North America, if we were to see an outbreak, a pandemic, how would we operate? How would we function? Do we have PPE in America? We could see how much PPE there was in Canada and the U.S. to see if we were covered. These are the types of things that should be talked about strategically.
When we talk about border infrastructure, whether it is the Gordie Howe International Bridge or things like that, these are the strategic investments that we should be making and talking with our American cousins or brothers and sisters about, however we want to call them, about what should be and what it should look like.
When we look at our competitiveness in Asia, we should be talking about that. When we look at China's influence in South America, Latin America or Africa, we should be talking about that and what it means to us. When we talk about rare earth elements, mining and natural resources, these are things we should be discussing amongst ourselves. For example, would we allow them to be purchased by Chinese companies? Are we going to allow these resources to have foreign ownership? Are we going to allow these resources to leave our continent? Do we have the requirements in this regard moving forward?
Again, these are the things we could discuss together in a committee and have good policy that would represent Canadians in the best way.
Members can see that I am very excited about this committee, because I see lots of positives and lots of things that could benefit all of Canada, the U.S. and North America altogether. It would actually—
Madam Speaker, I thought I had, but in case I did not, I would love to share my time with the member for .
New Flyer Industries embodies why it is very important that people recognize the value of that relationship. New Flyer Industries, based in Winnipeg, is a manufacturer of transit buses and motor coaches. The company is the largest bus manufacturer in North America, with a 43% market share of all heavy-duty transit buses and a 45% market share of all motor coaches produced in 2018. The company employs 9,300 people across 50 facilities in the United States and Canada. We should remember that its home base is in Winnipeg. Canada manufactures world-class buses, second to no other.
I suspect if we looked at every province, whether it is Quebec, Ontario, B.C. or Nova Scotia, and up north in the territories, we would find there are direct links to trade with the United States. As I said, there is $2 billion a day in cross-border trade, and a lot of that trade is not just widgets that go up for sale. Our economies are melded together in many ways, because something that is manufactured in the United States might come to Canada, or vice versa, as a part that ultimately turns into a final product.
A good example of that is our automobile industry. Our automotive industry is interconnected with that of the United States. Steel and parts go back and forth and final products come off of different assembly lines. These are absolutes. We need this.
The Government of Canada recognized that right from the get-go. When the was elected in 2015, it was not much longer until President Obama spoke to us on the floor of House of Commons. With reference to the current President, we do not need to be lectured in any fashion. I believe and hope we are not being lectured, because all parliamentarians have an understanding of that important relationship.
The CUSMA deal is something all of us should take pride in. Canada has an incredible group of individuals who have negotiated very important international agreements. Think of how many countries we have signed trade agreements with in the last five years. We are talking about dozens of countries. Not one prime minister has signed off on more trade agreements than the current , and that includes agreements with the United States and Mexico, our most important trading allies.
We have recognized the importance of trade agreements from the beginning. We understand and appreciate the true value of them and recognize why it is so important that we continue to have professionals negotiating on our behalf and working with the different ministries. It is important that we recognize the efforts they put in for all Canadians, because we all benefit. One of the ways we build Canada's middle class is to get strong jobs, and those jobs, in good part, are being created by international trade agreements.
I was very proud of the fact that ministers, the government and other members contributed to ultimately getting the CUSMA deal. We have a parliamentary friendship group that is fairly proactive. I only wish we would be equally proactive with our Philippines friendship group in terms of the number of connections and the amount of travel that occurred between the U.S. and Canada with the Canada-U.S. friendship group. There is such a strong relationship between our two nations, and I believe it is the personal contacts that often assist in negotiations.
The said that for just over 30 American states, Canada is their number-one trading partner. They are very much in need of Canadian consumers. Equally, we need American consumers to consume our products. It is a mutual benefit.
We can show this to the world. We should be very proud of our democracy, proud of the fact that we are in America and proud of the wonderful things that our democracy and sense of capitalism can accomplish.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak on this opposition motion from the member for . I thank her for bringing this forward.
Trading and our relationship with the United States is for me, and for my riding and my constituents, very important. Canada is a trading nation. We have benefited greatly from both our north-south linkages and from those with other continents through CETA and the CPTPP.
In particular, however, our relationship with the United States has been so important to me. I have had the privilege of working the global financial markets for several years, both here in Canada and in New York City. I have many relatives, as do so many Canadians, that live and have been living in the United States for many years.
In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, here in the city of Vaughan, there are literally thousands of trade-dependent jobs. The distribution facility for Home Depot is located in my riding. The distribution facilities for all of eastern Canada for Home Depot and Costco are in my riding. The UPS distribution facility and the FedEx distribution logistics hub are here in the city of Vaughan. The busiest intermodal facility for Canadian Pacific, which is called their Chicago-Toronto line, their intermodal facility, is in the heart of my riding, and the CN's MacMillan Yard, the largest CN yard in the country, is located here in the city of Vaughan.
We are not only a trade-dependent country. My riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge is a trade-dependent entity in terms of economics and in terms of creating good middle-class jobs.
This motion addresses a number of important issues, and I am pleased to speak to it today. In the time allotted to me, I would like to focus on two aspects of the motion: the importance of Line 5, and energy trade between Canada and the United States.
With respect to Line 5, our government has been extremely clear. This project has our unequivocal support, and we are using every tool at our disposal to see it move forward. Line 5 is vital to the energy security of Canada and North America. Our government takes this issue very seriously, and any suggestion to the contrary from the opposition is not only misleading but also irresponsible, a political game that this side of the House has no interest in playing.
The importance of Line 5 unquestionably goes beyond partisan politics. It supports thousands of jobs in Ontario and Quebec, as well as in western Canada. It is essential for keeping the lights and heat on for millions of Canadians, and it provides a critically important fuel source for farmers and industry. Line 5 provides jet fuel for Pearson Airport, Canada's busiest airport.
Running from Wisconsin through Michigan across the Straits of Mackinac to the lower peninsula, Line 5 supplies Michigan and Ohio refineries with oil and natural gas liquids from Alberta and Saskatchewan, before it enters Ontario at Sarnia. From there, it is refined into gasoline, diesel, home-heating oil, aviation fuel and propane, supplying southern Ontario and Quebec. What is more, Line 5 provides a safer way to transport oil than rail or road. It has operated safely for over 65 years.
Enbridge is now proposing to dig a tunnel to replace the two oil pipelines that run along the lakebed under the Straits of Mackinac.
Enbridge is committed to making a safe line even safer through the tunnel project. It is committed to encasing the line in reinforced concrete to reduce the risk of an anchor strike and to ensure enhanced safety. Michigan, just a couple of days ago, provided permits for this project.
Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy approved the project a few days ago on January 29, after an extensive nine-month review involving the State Historic Preservation Office and a report by an independent civil engineering firm specializing in complex tunnelling projects, which concluded that the project would have minimal impact on water quality in the Great Lakes and would not affect protected public uses of Michigan's water resources.
The director of EGLE's water resources division, Ms. Teresa Seidel, said, “During our review of this proposed project, our top priority has been protecting the Straits of Mackinac and the surrounding wetlands, aquatic life, and other natural and cultural resources from adverse environmental impacts.”
What would this impact be? According to EGLE, this project would result in minimal impact to wetlands. In fact, it would only affect an area roughly one-tenth the size of a football field. As a result, EGLE concluded that the proposed tunnel beneath the lake-bed could be built in compliance with the state environmental laws.
Let me emphasize that Michigan's environmental agency has ruled that the project is completely safe. This is not Enbridge's opinion, nor is it Canada's opinion. It is the finding of the agency responsible for enforcing Michigan's environmental legislation. This is the point that our government raised with U.S. officials. However, their response is that they want to stop the project.
What we have heard this week from the Leader of the Opposition and others on the other side of this House is that we are not doing anything. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Government of Canada has supported Enbridge in this dispute for three years, at both diplomatic and political levels, and we will continue to do so.
Ambassador Hillman is making the case. Consul General Comartin in Detroit is making the case. The raised the issue of North American energy security with Vice President Harris, and the will press this case with former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm as soon as she is confirmed as the U.S. energy secretary.
I will say it again. This line is vital to Canada and to the United States. We will always defend it and protect Canada's energy and industrial infrastructure.
Let me now turn to the broader context of the energy relationship between Canada and the United States, a relationship worth more than $100 billion in cross-border trade. In total, more than 70 pipelines and over 30 transmission lines already cross the Canada-U.S. border, creating the most integrated energy system in the world. As a result, Canadian oil accounts for more than half of all the crude oil that the United States imports each year. Alberta alone sends more than three million barrels a day south of the border, to the U.S. Midwest and Rocky Mountains region. Canadian crude represents roughly 70% of the feedstock used in local refineries. In Michigan, half of all homes are heated with propane from Canada.
It is the same with other energy sources of Canada. Canadian electricity powers close to seven million American homes, and Canadian uranium generates 6% of America's electricity, enough to power one in every 17 American homes. All of this energy integration benefits both countries by strengthening our energy security, lowering energy capital costs and enhancing reliability of supply.
It also creates good middle-class jobs on both sides of the border, including at the thousands of American companies that supply technology, machinery and other services to Canada's energy industry. I will be clear that any shutdown of Line 5 would have significant economic impacts, not just in Ontario and Quebec, but in Michigan and neighbouring states. In Houston four years ago—
Madam Speaker, I very much appreciate this opportunity to speak to this very important motion, but first I would like to say that I will split my time with the hon. member for .
I want to begin with a story. The reason I am starting with a story is that this is possibility thinking. This is possibility thinking 101 about what can be done when we bring all parties together.
For about a month or so right before Christmas, our office worked tirelessly for a couple who were separated. The gentleman was in Michigan and the woman lived here in my riding. We worked very well with the office and the land border controls on both sides. On Christmas Eve, our office was still working diligently on this problem. I spoke to a member of the minister's office, and he was working on Christmas Eve as well. On Christmas Day at 2:37 p.m., we received a text that the woman and man were reunited.
Why do I bring that up? We are facing, if I can be so bold as to say so, World War III. What got those people back together were the efforts of all. It is absolutely vital that we keep that in the forefront and look at the possibilities as opposed to the negatives.
As always, it is an honour to speak to the importance of this motion to create a special committee to study the economic impact on Canada-U.S. relations. My riding of Essex neighbours the busiest international border in North America. Thus, I am well aware of the importance of getting this right. In fact, a new international bridge is currently being built to support this infrastructure.
As I previously had the honour of being the deputy shadow minister for Canada-U.S. relations, I understand the importance of being a strong partner in working with our close ally, friend and neighbour, the United States of America. Further, as a former committee member of the international trade committee and having been part of the passing of CUSMA, I know today's motion to create a committee is vital.
Solid relationships only work when there is strong communication and open, honest dialogue. So much is at stake, and now, more than ever, is when we need to work shoulder to shoulder with our neighbour and get this right. So much of what this House has been speaking about and will continue to speak about and study in committee and seek solutions for can be tied directly back to Canada-U.S. relations, including vaccines, Line 5, the Keystone XL pipeline, steel and aluminum tariffs, and softwood lumber agreements, or lack thereof. The list goes on.
This committee will provide for a win-win for both countries. This is not a one-side-takes-all. However, this committee will create a foundation and a plan for recovery for all Canadians in each province and territory from coast to coast to coast. The work of this committee will be an opportunity to not only save jobs but also to create jobs, good-paying union jobs that sustain our economy and put food on the table for Canadian families.
It has been stated that we are in World War III, and although we cannot physically see the enemy called COVID-19, we are nonetheless at war. Now is the time to work closely with our closest ally on every front.
Having worked in the United States for a number of years and having been part of an international company, I witnessed how integrated our economies are. Both economies rely heavily on each other. The automotive sector and the supply chains that go along with it are a solid example.
However, COVID-19 has brought many obstacles. One example would be local mould-makers. I have spoken with them on numerous occasions. The issue they are having now is that they are losing contracts to the United States, and the reason is that because of COVID-19, they cannot get their inspectors onto their shop floors to see their product. These types of discussions at committee we can find solutions for, but to lose contracts, millions and millions of dollars for Canadians, is not acceptable. We need to study this.
My riding of Essex has been called a microcosm of not only Canada but of North America. Basically, if we can find it in Essex, we can probably find it in Canada. Just as our relationship with the United States is unique on the world stage, so too are our economies uniquely aligned. Essex, like Canada and the United States, has so much to offer, but bringing these opportunities is only possible when all parties work together. Canada cannot afford to be a junior partner at the table and have our economy dictated by the stroke of a pen. We can no long sit idle without a solid, well-executed plan and be blindsided at the 11th hour once again.
Creating this committee, with members from all parties collectively working for the common goal of a strong economy, secure jobs, a plan for recovery and a strong Canada, is what is needed most today. Studying the impacts of COVID-19 would give Canada the tools it needs to have solid negotiations with our U.S. counterparts. We can no longer afford to do nothing.
Budgets do not balance themselves, vaccines will not deliver themselves and our economy will not rebuild itself. The time to plan to secure our future is now. As has been stated on a number of occasions, there is trade of $1.5 billion per day between these two fantastic countries. What is possible? How much higher could that be? How much more stake could Canada have in the game?
At a time when our countries need to be focused on getting people back to work and restoring our ways of life after COVID-19, this committee would get answers for Canadians and fight to secure everyone's future. We must begin planning now, today, to reopen and rebuild our economy and get all Canadians back to work. This is about the future. This is about a plan. This is about bringing the greatest minds of all colours and parties together to ensure once and for all that Canada is a strong partner with the United States of America and is the highest on the international stage.
I will leave members with this: I am sure that no member in this House would disagree that the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations would be more important than a special committee on Canada-U.S. relations. Canadians deserve nothing less.
Madam Speaker, we are here today to talk about the creation of a special House of Commons committee to look at all aspects of the U.S.-Canada economic relationship.
Why create a special committee? There are two key reasons. First, we need an integrated opportunity to look at all aspects of the economic relationship. Our House of Commons committees tend to focus on certain aspects such as finance, trade or foreign affairs. We need to be able to look at all of those things in one committee, and that is why we need this special economic relationship House of Commons committee. An economic relationship includes all those aspects.
Second, parliamentarians absolutely have a role in this conversation. We have seen increasing challenges, and a narrative from the government that says the House of Commons committees do not have a role; however, House of Commons committees work with Canadians to discuss, look at and research challenging issues so we can make recommendations to Canadians and governments.
Why do it now? We find ourselves at a tipping point. We have witnessed a fundamental shift in the global economic balance of power. We are seeing countries use trade as a weapon to gain political, economic and national strategic advantage. At the same time, in the last 20 years we have seen vast increases in consumer spending, GDP growth and stock prices. What we have not seen, in the United States and Canada, is significant economic benefit for individual Canadians or Americans, and that was before COVID.
Now we need to act with a sense of urgency. This rising tide has not raised all boats. We need to understand why that is, and we need to be proactive to determine how we are going to secure the future health and prosperity of Canadians. There is no question we will not be able to do that successfully without our most important trading partner, defence and security ally, and in many cases our greatest friend: the United States.
We have $1.5 billion a day in trade. All kinds of people and goods go back and forth. We have integrated supply chains. We need this committee in order to understand where both our countries are economically, and to look at what the foundation of our economic relationship needs to be.
The world is not the same as it was in the 1980s, when we first put NAFTA in place. Both our economies have changed substantially. From 1999 to 2015, the U.S. lost over five million manufacturing jobs. Canada lost over 600,000, which was over 25% of our country's industrial workforce. Barely two workers in 10 in Canada are employed in making goods, and in the last 18 years, there has not been a single net increase in jobs in the goods sectors.
In both our economies, the middle class is drastically shrinking. In the United States in 1980, 60% of the national income was from the middle class. Unfortunately, today that number is 40%. Every four years, one in five people in the middle class falls into the ranks of the working poor, and it is increasingly difficult to move up. Wages are stagnating, the gig economy is making work more precarious, prices continue to rise and student debt is a greater burden than for any generation previously. From 1990 to 2015, 80% of Canadians saw few, if any, income gains, and that was before COVID.
We see a trend in the U.S. that started long before President Trump and may well continue under the new administration. We need to understand what that is and actively plan to address it, mitigate it and work mutually for a win-win situation between Canadians and Americans.
The narrative we have heard is that the global trading system is universally unfair to U.S. workers. There is a call in the United States to turn back the clock to a time when goods sold in the U.S. were made in the U.S. There is also a further push for globalization, which appears is neither inevitable nor desirable, and if actions speak louder than words, a number of examples highlight this trend.
For example, the renegotiated NAFTA, now called the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, or CUSMA, is not a free-trade agreement but a managed trade agreement, with conditions that further restrict Canada's participation in the North American market. It gives American farmers increased access to Canada while also eliminating regulations and slanting the playing field in favour of the U.S. Also, it caps the growth of the Canadian auto sector and raises the cost of Canada's production, jeopardizing our competitiveness. It is an agreement that has caused Canada to lose sovereignty, because it is not a simple free-trade agreement: it is an agreement with clauses that put conditions on Canada's ability to enter into other trade agreements and limit our independence on monetary policy.
Furthermore, the U.S. has seen massive tax reform. U.S. corporate taxes have been slashed, and measures have been put in place to incentivize American companies to repatriate their manufacturing operations to the U.S. We have witnessed punishing steel and aluminum tariffs under the guise of national security, and new protocols have been put in place to make it easier to put further tariffs on in the future. We are also witnessing non-tariff trade barriers from the United States: The United States International Trade Commission is in the process of reviewing the safety and security of blueberries, strawberries and red peppers that Canada is exporting to the U.S. After 21 days of these investigations, the U.S. could impose tariffs on these products. This is a $750 million export market that affects over 8,300 Canadian farmers and families, and thousands of jobs as well.
There is no question that economic relationships at their core are relationships and, like relationships between people, no aspect of an international relationship can be viewed in isolation. Canada's relationship with the U.S. is a defence and security one. It is a values and ideas one. It is a world view one, as well as an economic one. It is one that is rapidly changing and evolving. Canada cannot afford to be complacent and take for granted, or assume, that the conditions that have been in place for the last 20 years will remain the same going forward.
We must pivot. We must have the courage to look at ourselves and understand exactly what we need to do to position ourselves, and the United States, in a win-win situation for the future. We need a special House of Commons committee to understand our own economic situation, our own rules and regulatory frameworks, our own taxes and everything else so that we can also look at the security and prosperity that we depend on in this most important relationship.
Canada's security and prosperity depend on this relationship. The benefits that we can achieve, together with our friends and allies, will be unparalleled. I hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting the motion before us, so that we can create the committee and get this work started as quickly and urgently as possible to position ourselves for a secure—