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View Sébastien Lemire Profile
Mr. Speaker, for your reference, I will start by reminding you of my interventions from yesterday.
First, our unwillingness to support the free trade agreement is largely due to the threat of outsourcing that mining industries are facing. The government talks about possible compensation for the industry as if this is something that would benefit the industry. Even if the industry does receive that money, 60,000 jobs could be in jeopardy, because there is no guarantee that the money would reach Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean or the North Shore.
Second, this agreement does nothing to address the softwood lumber issue. Thirty thousand jobs are at stake, and we are struggling to save our villages. Many villages, especially in my riding, are depending on these issues and free trade deals, which do not protect the softwood lumber industry. This can be a difficult situation.
As for supply management, the whole issue of income stability is a major challenge for farmers. They need to be able to predict their income, but the loopholes that have been created in supply management are making things hard for them. We are increasingly seeing quotas being sold off.
When my speech was interrupted, I was saying that the United States is imposing limitations on our negotiations with other world markets. I think that, if we adopted an amendment to change that penalty, we will at least have saved our right to do trade with who we want and thus preserved our sovereignty.
There are 10,000 dairy farms in Canada, including 5,600 in Quebec. That is a major industry that employs 83,000 people, either directly or indirectly, and generates over $1 billion in taxes for the Government of Quebec. The industry is not asking for any direct subsidies. It is a matter of pride, and unfortunately, the decisions on compensation will take advantage of that. Dairy producers do not want the government's charity. They want to be independent and successful. Their prosperity is essential to the vitality of the agricultural life of the small family farms scattered around Quebec's towns and villages.
In closing, in my opinion, Quebec is the big loser in this agreement. The compensation was provided at Quebec's expense. The Government of Canada says that it wants us to work together and that it is reaching out to us. That implies being open to Quebec's demands. It is therefore irresponsible to sign this agreement without adding protections for supply management and aluminum and without putting an end to the softwood lumber dispute.
Could Canada listen to the solutions proposed by Quebec? For now, it it is obvious that the federal government has once again abandoned Quebec's economy.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-02-06 10:12 [p.994]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my Bloc Québécois colleague. I think we are on the same wavelength and that, for the most part, we have similar concerns about the new NAFTA.
However, Green Party members have decided to vote in favour of ratifying the agreement because of the improvements that have been made, such as eliminating chapter 11, which gave big U.S. corporations the right to bring arbitration cases against Canada. Our country has been on the losing end of most arbitration cases related to Canadian health and environmental protection laws.
I have a question for the Bloc member. Does he agree that, without chapter 11, the new NAFTA is much better?
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent question.
For me, being here in the House is certainly not about opposing trade or free trade. Quite the opposite. I wish I too could vote in favour of the motion.
The motion is unacceptable to me because of factors vital to industrial sectors in Quebec and its regions, such as aluminum and softwood lumber. Still, there are some positives, such as preserving Quebec's culture. I recognize those efforts.
When I weigh the pros and the cons, however, and I see that $6 billion worth of investment in one industry is at stake, there is no way I can stand up in the House and agree to hand the government a blank cheque.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from the Bloc Québécois a question about our economic competitiveness, which I think very much relates to what we are discussing this morning. It is very important that we are able to develop our natural resources in Canada. Projects like Teck Frontier allow us to create jobs in the country and support the development of our energy sector so Quebec does not have to be reliant on foreign oil but can instead benefit from lower-cost, high-quality Canadian oil. I would think the Bloc Québécois members would be supportive of the principle of allowing provincial autonomy and supporting provinces in pursuing their own aspirations, even if they may be different from each other. In that spirit of provincial autonomy and co-operation, is my colleague willing to express his support for the Teck Frontier project?
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question.
The principle of provincial autonomy is at the very core of the Canadian Confederation, and clearly it is important to us, the Bloc Québécois. I respect the decisions that Alberta might make with respect to its economic development. However, Quebec has decided not to rely on the oil industry.
I made the personal decision to buy an all-electric car. Why? In my opinion, we must develop a green and circular economy. We have to transition away from an oil economy because of the inherent costs. There is always a cost to doing things.
Of course I am very sensitive to the issue of jobs in the energy sector. Moreover, we are creating a new economy by investing in research and development in electric vehicles, self-driving vehicles and the capacity of our batteries. That is much more promising for the economy of tomorrow. That is the choice I have made as a Quebecker, and my decisions will foster sustainable development.
View Mario Simard Profile
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-06 10:16 [p.995]
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his thoughtful and reasoned speech.
As my colleague pointed out, we see that the three key sectors of Quebec's economy—wood, aluminum, and supply management—were each sacrificed in trade agreements, one after another.
As we know, the Canadian economy is thought to run on two sectors, namely the auto sector in Ontario and the oil and gas sector in Alberta.
In light of such outrageous projects as Teck Frontier, I would like to ask my colleague his thoughts on this unacceptable situation where the Canadian economy is considered only on the basis of two major industries, the auto sector and oil and gas.
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
Mr. Speaker, the auto industry is a fine example of what has hurt Quebec. Many free trade agreements have been signed at Quebec's expense.
In regard to the difference between steel and aluminum in the current agreement, I will again refer to the quote by Jean Simard, president of the Aluminium Association of Canada. The day before yesterday, at the Standing Committee on Finance, my colleague from Joliette asked him whether he preferred an agreement like the one in place for the steel sector. His answer was unequivocal. I will rephrase it so as not to directly quote anyone. He said that the association was on the verge of getting what it had asked for through representations by his team and the Deputy Prime Minister. At the end of the negotiations, Mexico said yes to steel and no to aluminum for strategic reasons. That is what is at issue.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-02-06 10:18 [p.995]
Mr. Speaker, four years ago the future of free trade in North America was in doubt. At the time, President Trump said that NAFTA was “the worst deal in history“ and campaigned to tear it up. This presented an existential threat to the well-being of Canadians, as so many of our communities and workers depend on free and open market access to the world's biggest economy.
Thanks to the hard work of the Deputy Prime Minister, her negotiating team and Canadians of all stripes and backgrounds, we stood firm against the largest economic threat Canada has faced in recently history. We even did pretty well. Extremely well, I would say, since we reached a better agreement with our partners and friends, the United States and Mexico.
Without a doubt, this is a better deal than the current NAFTA. This is a good deal for Canadians, no matter where they live.
Today I want to focus on the benefits this agreement offers to Quebeckers. The benefits are many, because we stood up for Quebec. Allow me to share some examples. The new NAFTA retains the cultural exemption that allows so many artists and creators to succeed. It even covers the digital world. The new agreement retains the dispute resolution mechanism that was used to defend Quebec's softwood lumber industry. It protects our supply management system, including dairy farmers. It also gives manufacturing exporters and aluminum workers better access to the American market.
Allow me to begin with the cultural exemption. As the former minister of Canadian heritage, as a proud Quebecker and as a lover of arts and music, my province's unique culture is near and dear to my heart.
Quebec itself is near and dear to my heart. Yes indeed, we have a unique culture. Our culture, our way of life, our way of looking at things are what create our identity. We must protect this culture, this identity. It must be protected in traditional media and, especially today, in the 21st century, it must be protected online. The Americans wanted to get rid of this cultural exemption. They wanted to prevent us from being able to financially support and protect our culture, our linguistic duality. Not only did we preserve that right, but we even managed to get it extended to digital media. The Prime Minister drew a line in the sand, sending the Americans a clear message that Canada would not sign without this exemption. No exemption, no agreement.
This will help over 70,000 Quebeckers employed in the cultural industry to continue to thrive.
We stood our ground for Quebec.
Second, I am sure members in the House will recall that the American administration sought to eliminate the dispute resolution mechanism known as chapter 19. We refused to concede to this, and I will explain why.
This mechanism is a critical equalizer in a trading relationship in which we are, frankly, the smaller partner.
It was under chapter 19 that Quebec was able to defend its softwood lumber industry against anti-dumping measures and abusive countervailing duties imposed by the Americans.
The Prime Minister said it was non-negotiable. We gave Canadians our word, and we did not budge.
Once again, we stood our ground for Quebec.
Third, I turn to the agriculture industry, and the supply management system in particular.
Supply management supports thousands of farmers, food producers and their families. Together, they export $5.7 billion worth of agricultural products from Quebec to the United States every year. The U.S. President and his administration wanted to do away with supply management. We said no. Period.
While CUSMA provides incremental access to the U.S., our negotiators overwhelmingly maintained the supply management system of controls on production, price and imports.
The Prime Minister has been clear: We will fully and fairly compensate farmers and processors for any loss of market share, as we did under the trade agreements we signed with the European Union and Asia-Pacific countries.
This summer we announced $1.75 billion in compensation over eight years for nearly 11,000 dairy farmers in Canada. Everyone who applied by December 31, 2019, has received their payments by now. The rest will receive theirs by March 31.
We protected supply management. This will allow Quebec dairy products to remain part of our kids' daily breakfast routine, in Quebec and right across the country.
Once again, we stood our ground for Quebec.
Finally, and more perhaps more importantly, CUSMA preserves and actually increases duty-free access for Canadian goods. For Quebec, this means that key exports to the U.S. will continue to receive duty-free treatment compared to the most favoured nation rate charged on imports that are not from the United States' free trade partners. It also means continued market access for nearly $60 billion in Quebec exports to the U.S., and stability for workers in aerospace, heavy truck, agriculture and aluminum industries.
My Quebec colleagues like to say that the new agreement is bad for our aluminum workers, but that is completely untrue, because the new agreement requires 70% of the aluminum in vehicles to be North American in origin. That is 70% compared to zero. My Bloc colleagues would have us believe that is a step backward, but I see it as a clear win.
We have also increased the regional value content threshold for cars from 62.5% to 75%, which is a major step forward, as car manufacturers will be required to use more of our products, including our aluminum.
Manufacturers are using more and more aluminum in cars because it is lighter, which means that cars consume less fuel. These measures are helping our industry, and our workers benefit from increasing demand. The industry itself supports the agreement. Jean Simard, president and CEO of the Aluminium Association of Canada, said that the new NAFTA is the right way to go.
Quebec's economic community supports it too. Last week, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec called for it to be ratified as soon as possible to end years of economic uncertainty.
In December, Quebec's business sector signalled its support for the agreement. The Conseil du patronat du Québec, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, the Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec and the Conseil de la transformation alimentaire du Québec told us that they want all parliamentarians in Ottawa and all stakeholders to ensure that the agreement is ratified as soon as possible. This agreement is vital for economic growth and for all Quebec regions. Therefore, there is a consensus in Quebec, except for my Bloc Québécois friends and colleagues, who are not really listening. They keep repeating that the agreement will let Mexico import aluminum from China and pass it off as North American aluminum. The opposite is true, as the agreement will prevent that.
At the industry's request, we have put a system in place to track and monitor transshipments of lower-quality aluminum from countries such as China or Russia through Mexico. This will ensure that Quebec's high-quality aluminum is not replaced by cheaper, lower-quality goods.
Once again, we stood our ground for Quebec.
The benefits of the new deal do not stop here. There are also progressive, modern elements in this agreement that align with the values of Quebeckers.
Some hon. members of the opposition mocked the government when we wished to include chapters on labour and the environment. Both of these chapters are in the new agreement, and they are not window dressing. Actually, they are both subject to dispute resolution. This means Quebec union workers will be on a more level playing field with Mexican workers, and it means that the environment we share will not be forsaken in the name of economic growth.
The Canada-United States-Mexico agreement is a good agreement for Quebeckers and for all Canadians. We have made real gains that will help our families. As Premier Legault said, I believe that the Bloc Québécois must defend the interests of Quebeckers, because it is in the interest of Quebeckers for this agreement to be ratified and adopted.
As always, I am reaching out to my colleagues from all parties and urging them not to delay the process, but to work together and adopt this important bill.
View John Nater Profile
View John Nater Profile
2020-02-06 10:28 [p.997]
Mr. Speaker, when Bill C-4, an act to implement the agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, is referred to committee, could the government commit to supporting a proposal at committee to have other committees, in addition to the trade committee, study the provisions of Bill C-4 and the impacts within their respective mandates in the same manner that budget bills have been considered at committee in recent years?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-02-06 10:28 [p.997]
Mr. Speaker, the government is supportive of adopting the process that has been used in the past for budget implementation legislation. Under this process, the chair of the Standing Committee on International Trade would write to the other committees and invite them to do a subject matter review of the relevant provisions of the legislation, as long as the motion contains a fixed date and time for the start and end of clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-02-06 10:29 [p.997]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
Dumping has been condemned by all industrialized countries and by the WTO. Everyone knows that the Chinese dump products, meaning that they sell their products at prices below the production costs. China is banned from exporting aluminum to Canada and the United States because of this practice. The solution is simple. China exports aluminum to Mexico, and the Mexicans turn it into auto parts, which they send to the United States to be used in auto manufacturing. That is how this agreement sanctions Chinese dumping in North America.
My question is very simple, and I hope to get a simple answer. The agreement that the government is so proud of has a 70% rule for aluminum car parts. Could that percentage include car parts manufactured in Mexico from Chinese aluminum? Is it possible that Chinese aluminum alone could be used to manufacture 70% of a car's parts?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-02-06 10:30 [p.997]
Mr. Speaker, the agreement would increase the use of aluminum in cars manufactured in North America to 70%. My colleague knows that this percentage used to be zero.
We can certainly look into different mechanisms that will allow us to ensure that the aluminum comes from North America, and largely from Quebec, where we produce excellent aluminum that is also very clean. We care just as much as the Bloc Québécois about standing up for our aluminum sector, our industries and our regions.
We can also look at working on border controls in Mexico, where we could, for example, develop enhanced traceability mechanisms that would allow us to track aluminum.
However, this can only be possible if the agreement is signed. I urge my colleagues and friends in the Bloc to support this agreement.
View Scott Duvall Profile
View Scott Duvall Profile
2020-02-06 10:31 [p.998]
Mr. Speaker, I have some concerns with the agreement when it comes to our sovereignty. Clause 32 states that if we begin negotiations on a trade deal with a non-market economy such as China, we need to have the permission of the U.S. If we do not get that permission, we cannot trade and we get kicked out of CUSMA.
Does Mexico also have to get permission? Do the Americans have to get permission from us? If they do not, why not? Why is that clause in there only for Canada?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-02-06 10:32 [p.998]
Mr. Speaker, we talk about sovereignty. Canada is a sovereign country that stood up for its workers, industries and regions. This is why we got so many good things out of this agreement. This is what allowed us to protect our cultural industries. This is what allowed us to protect the workers in the aluminum sector. This is what will allow us to be able to export more to the States and to protect our long-term relationship with and access to the United States of America.
Once again, this is a very good deal. It is a good agreement. I look forward to adopting this trade agreement with the support of my colleagues from all parties in the House.
View Damien Kurek Profile
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-02-06 10:32 [p.998]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to enter the debate on such an important bill.
I find it very interesting that my colleague across the way, the government House leader, said very emphatically that this is a better agreement. There are some very serious issues that need to be addressed in relation to whether that is, in fact, the case.
In the course of debate over the last number of days, some questions from the Conservatives and other parties have been brought forward. There are serious unanswered questions about the impacts this new trade agreement will have on Canada and our role in the integrated North American market.
I will emphasize that the Conservatives believe very fundamentally in the need for free trade. It was Conservatives who pioneered the first NAFTA. I am very proud that it is part of our legacy. Canada first built a trade agreement with the United States and it was expanded in the late eighties and early nineties to include Mexico. It has left a legacy: Trade with the United States went from approximately $290 billion U.S. in 1993 to $1.2 trillion U.S. in 2018. That is significant, and it affects each and every one of us and each of our constituencies, as jobs are directly affected.
I would suggest that this agreement is simply a reworking of the old agreement. It is referred to as CUSMA, USMCA in the United States, but I would more accurately describe it as NAFTA 0.5 or “halfta”, as I referred to it earlier. It is a bit like a car. The first one was a massive improvement and then one buys a new car. After 30 years, there have been changes and upgrades, but it is really just like a paint job on that old car. A few features have been added, but some pretty serious things, like the power steering for example, have been removed.
One of the big issues opposition members face is that some questions remain. The Deputy Prime Minister said that as soon as the economic analysis is available, it will be available to all members. Negotiating a free trade agreement without the proper economic analysis is troublesome. It shows that the government should have been ahead of some of these very important issues.
Many Canadians have reached out to me to say that it is important we have this agreement, as devastating consequences will happen if it does not go through. However, they are not pleased with the way the negotiations took place, the uncertainty that has existed over the last number of years and, in large part, the actions that left our minds boggled, quite frankly.
The Prime Minister stood up and almost insulted the President of the United States at a press conference, and the President responded quickly with some tweets that said he heard what the Canadian Prime Minister said. That set Canada back. The Deputy Prime Minister participated in some events in Washington as well. Having been a political staffer myself, it should have been the advice of professionals that we avoid doing things that would draw the ire of those we are supposed to find agreement with. However, we saw time and time again that the actions of the members opposite in the last session of Parliament led to some significant sacrifices being made.
I do want to give credit where credit is due. The members opposite asked some officials to speak to members of the opposition this past week in a briefing to give members of the opposition the opportunity to ask questions regarding the new NAFTA agreement. It was very much appreciated, but some of the answers to the questions led to more questions that still have not been answered.
In fact, I find it very interesting that the members opposite brag about the environmental provisions. It is my understanding that many of the environmental provisions that are included in the “halfta” are simply the enshrining of many of the bilateral agreements and trilateral agreements that have been negotiated, from the 1993 version to today. They are simply included in the new agreement. That makes sense, but I find it ironic that the members opposite would claim credit for those all being their part of the agreement when really it has been the concerted effort of not only the government across the way, but of the previous Conservative government and the previous Liberal governments before that, to continue the evolution of trade within the integrated North American market.
One of the members in the other party asked specifically about some of the environmental promises that were made. The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and other members of the government at the time stood up and said that these are their priorities. Our incredibly talented negotiating team has done lots of good work. When asked if the team had accomplished those objectives, the answer was pretty unequivocal in saying, hardly at all. I am not sure if “hardly at all” would represent, in the words of the government House leader, that this is a better agreement, when the lead negotiator is saying that the team did not get what it wanted.
The sunset clause is another great example. When the President's son-in-law, a core adviser, came out and said that the agreement would be reviewed after six years and it would expire after 16 years, it was, in the beginning, a non-starter for the members opposite. They said it could not happen. Suddenly, there are a lot of things that they said could not happen that have happened. Jared Kushner said in an op-ed that was published on CNBC earlier this week that it was imperative that the United States retain leverage in any of its trading relationships. They got the sunset clause, and that leaves the power of this in the hands of the United States.
There are many aspects of the deal that leave significant questions. We have examples time and again where there are questions of trust. Can the government be trusted? I would like to say yes, but many of my constituents remind me on a daily basis and I am pleased to have a very strong mandate to ask some of these tough questions and say that my constituents do not trust the actions of this Liberal government, whether it be on the environment or the caps on vehicle production.
There were not caps before, but there are today. The government members say they are so high that it does not matter. That is not a very optimistic outlook on the Canadian economy.
Regarding steel and aluminum, the Liberals say the 70% is there so it is better than it was before. My understanding is that there was not a need for those caps in the past because virtually all the aluminum specifically came from North America and they could not get the same protections on aluminum that they got on steel. Those are serious questions.
Serious questions are being asked by many of my constituents who are very involved in the agricultural industry, about the supply-managed industries. It drew the ire of the American President, yet many of the stakeholders, farmers and producers in my constituency are facing significant questions about the future of the compensation related to the increased market access and various questions around that. Real questions of trust exist.
I am proud to support free trade and I am proud that our party has been the party of free trade. However, it is important that Conservatives fulfill the democratic obligation that we have to ask the tough questions of this agreement and ensure that Canadians know exactly what we are signing and the long-term effects that this agreement would have on the current status of our country and also on future generations.
We are talking about the economic future of our country, and it is important that these difficult questions be asked.
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