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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today in extraordinary circumstances.
I would like to sincerely and warmly thank all the parties in the House for working with us at such an important time.
I can assure Canadians that the priority of the government and all members of the House is to ensure the health and safety of every Canadian. That is why we are moving the following motion:
That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, following the adoption of this order, the House shall stand adjourned until Monday, April 20, 2020, provided that:
(a) the House shall be deemed to have adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28;
(b) for the supply period ending on March 26, 2020, the eighth allotted day shall be the final allotted day;
(c) the order for the deferred recorded division on the opposition motion standing in the name of the member for Vancouver Kingsway, considered on March 12, 2020, be discharged and the motion be deemed adopted on division;
(d) the motions to concur in Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2020, and interim supply for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2021, be deemed adopted on division and the appropriation bills based thereon be deemed to have been introduced and read a first time, deemed read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole on division, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage on division, deemed read a third time and passed on division;
(e) there shall be 10 allotted days in the supply period ending on June 23, 2020;
(f) a bill in the name of the Minister of Finance, entitled An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act (special warrant), be deemed to have been introduced and read a first time, deemed read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole on division, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage on division, deemed read a third time and passed on division;
(g) currently scheduled committee meetings shall be cancelled;
(h) the order of the day designated for Monday, March 30, 2020, for the consideration of the budget presentation, shall be undesignated;
(i) if, during the period the House stands adjourned, the Speaker receives a notice from the House leaders of all four recognized parties indicating that it is in the public interest that the House remain adjourned until a future date or until future notice is given to the Speaker, the House will remain adjourned accordingly;
(j) Bill C-4, An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, be deemed read a third time and passed;
(k) during the period the House stands adjourned, the House may be recalled, under the provisions of Standing Order 28(3), to consider measures to address the economic impact of COVID-19 and the impacts on the lives of Canadians;
(l) the government’s responses to petitions 431-00042 to 431-00045 be tabled immediately and questions on the Order Paper numbered Q-245 to Q-259 be made into orders for returns and that the said returns be tabled immediately;
(m) the government provide regular updates to representatives of the opposition parties;
(n) any special warrant issued under the Financial Administration Act may be deposited with the Clerk of the House during the period the House is adjourned;
(o) any special warrant issued under the Financial Administration Act and deposited with the Clerk of the House shall be referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the committee shall meet to consider any warrants referred to it within 20 sitting days; and
(p) the House call on the Auditor General of Canada to immediately conduct an audit of the special warrants issued under the Financial Administration Act and that the Auditor General of Canada report his findings to the House no later than June 1, 2021.
Madam Speaker, this decision was taken to help keep all Canadians safe and healthy. We made this decision together, with all the parties, and we did not make it lightly.
Our action today demonstrates that we take this challenge seriously. I want to thank all of the health care workers and professionals.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all health care professionals, who are going through tough times at work as they help us through this crisis.
To Canadians, workers and families; to children concerned for their parents; to sisters and brothers concerned for loved ones and friends, we are all united. We will face this together, and we will get through this together.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2020-03-11 15:28 [p.1941]
Mr. Speaker, we are on the traditional territory of the Anishinabe Algonquins and my constituents, like other Canadians across the country, will receive great benefits from the ratification of this agreement.
Yukoners, like others, are great traders. A lot of our exports are minerals, and Yukoners will benefit from the lower prices when tariffs are taken off many of the products they buy. This is especially important for low-income people.
In the first six minutes of my speech yesterday, I dealt with the concerns brought up by the other three parties in the House. I appreciate that members of all parties are working together in a non-partisan way to support Canadians in this great endeavour. It is not just here in the House where we have such co-operation and support, but across the country.
Premier Moe of Saskatchewan said that a signed CUSMA trade deal is good news for Saskatchewan and Canada. Premier Jason Kenney of Alberta said that he is relieved that a renewed North American trade deal has been concluded, and Jerry Dias of Unifor has said that this is a much better deal than the deal that was signed 24 years ago.
The reason CUSMA is so important, and why people have such positive views of it, is its many benefits. It makes products from the three countries tariff-free in Canada. It helps low-income people, as I said. It has updates that modernize the agreement, with new chapters. It has benefits for business workers, communities, labourers and the environment, including marine and air protection. I do not think anyone would argue against that.
CUSMA has benefits for the automotive trade. The agreement has a dispute resolution mechanism, which was at risk. It protects our culture, which is related to 650,000 jobs in Canada, 75,000 in Quebec alone. It protects energy, agriculture and agri-foods. It includes language on gender and indigenous job rights, but removes the investor-state provisions so that companies cannot sue the Canadian government anymore. That was an improvement many Canadians were looking for.
CUSMA includes gender equality, enforcement of women's rights, benefits for small and medium-sized businesses and a number of technical trade procedure improvements.
There are a number of things that are brand new in this agreement that we did not have in other agreements related to the environment, women and labour. They all benefit from this agreement.
As I have mentioned at other times when I have spoken about this, there are three or four benefits for the aluminum industry in Canada. I have mentioned a number of reports that talk about the benefits and the tremendous possible damage of not having this agreement for Canada.
I would just like to finish by giving a huge shout-out to our negotiators who were so professional and worked so hard to get this very successful agreement for Canada.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-03-11 15:32 [p.1942]
Madam Speaker, my thanks to the hon. parliamentary secretary for finishing his speech and remembering to acknowledge territory, as he does whenever he stands to speak. It is much appreciated.
I will say that I am voting in favour of the ratification. I think this is a much better version of NAFTA than the original NAFTA that we have been under all these years.
Now that we have trumpeted the accomplishment of removing the investor-state provisions of chapter 11 of NAFTA in the new version of CUSMA, can the parliamentary secretary tell me whether the government is prepared to examine the other investor-state provisions in other agreements?
Particularly egregious is the secret deal done by the Harper administration with the People's Republic of China, which binds Canada for three decades to secret lawsuits from state-owned enterprises in the People's Republic of China.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2020-03-11 15:33 [p.1942]
Madam Speaker, at this time, I am not familiar with the trade minister's agenda on that, but I will certainly pass on that question for the member.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-11 15:33 [p.1942]
Madam Speaker, my colleague knows that we have had a government in the last number of years that has been very progressive and strong on the whole trade file. Today we are debating the trade agreement among Canada, Mexico and the U.S.A., but we have had other trade agreements over the last couple of years, in particular the European Union, the TPP, agreements with Ukraine and other world trade organizations. All of this comes together as an important issue for Canada. It helps create jobs through trade.
I am wondering if my colleague can provide his perspective on how important trade is to our economy.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2020-03-11 15:34 [p.1942]
Madam Speaker, this would not be such a huge issue in other countries' parliaments, but trade is such a big part of the Canadian economy, bigger than in the United States economy. It is instrumental to our success, and that is why people were very worried at the time that this would disappear.
Now, as the member suggests, we have agreements with 11 countries under the CPTPP, 27 countries under CETA, with Ukraine, and as one of the three countries of CUSMA. We are the only country in the G7 that has trade agreements with all of the other countries in the G7. This is critical to our economy and that is why the ratification of this will be such an important success for Canada.
View Michael Cooper Profile
View Michael Cooper Profile
2020-03-11 15:35 [p.1942]
Madam Speaker, I ask the member for Yukon if this is such a great trade deal, why did the government wait until the 11th hour to release the economic impact analysis, which would actually demonstrate that it is a bad deal? The C.D. Howe Institute released a paper undertaking an analysis in which it pointed out that Canada stands to lose $14.6 billion in GDP under the new deal, compared with the old deal.
I wonder if the member could comment.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2020-03-11 15:36 [p.1942]
Madam Speaker, as I alluded to in my opening remarks, and as I said specifically yesterday, there are a number of studies on this. Most of them show great benefits to Canada. I will mention that RBC said that Canada's GDP could go down a massive 1% without this agreement and it could affect 500,000 Canadian workers. Scotiabank said that the Canadian economy would stand a strong chance of falling into a recession. The benefits of free trade agreements are pretty common knowledge. That is why there is unanimity in the House. All of those studies, with the exception of the one the member mentioned, reinforce that point.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-03-11 15:37 [p.1942]
Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague cited the number of trade agreements that the government has been able to negotiate, but maybe the member could speak about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and climate targets. We have not seen, and maybe he can correct me, that these have been priorities in any of the trade agreements.
Does the member not see that these should be priorities in any trade agreements moving forward?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2020-03-11 15:37 [p.1943]
Madam Speaker, for the first time in history, we have the environment in this agreement, with much protection for the marine environment and air quality. That is a great step forward, so I agree with that.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-03-11 15:38 [p.1943]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-4, the Canada–United States–Mexico agreement implementation act.
I would specifically like to thank my colleague, the member for Elmwood—Transcona, for his work on this file. Through extensive negotiation with the government, I am so proud that my colleague secured more openness and transparency for Canada's trade process.
Too often the opposition says that the NDP does not understand trade, but this could not be further from the truth. What we do not support is the neo-liberal trade agenda. New Democrats understand the importance of our trading relationship with the U.S., our largest trading partner, and we believe that a better NAFTA could improve the welfare of all North Americans. We believe that all trade agreements must be transparent, inclusive and forward-looking. They must address important issues, like income inequality, sovereignty and climate change. Above all, they must strengthen human rights. They must be transparent and fair for everyone.
Too many trade agreements are approached with the idea of how to make the rich richer. They focus on growing the wealth and power of those who already hold a great deal of wealth and power. They do not consider bettering the lives of all Canadians.
Certainly, people in southwestern Ontario, in my riding, know all too well what Liberal- and Conservative-negotiated trade agreements have created for them and their families. We see what were once highly productive manufacturing hubs now boarded up. One only has to drive along Dundas Street in London, Ontario to know the history of these trade agreements, and what it means to workers in my riding.
The original NAFTA was negotiated by Conservatives and signed by Liberals in 1994. People were promised jobs, rising productivity and secure access to the largest market in the world. It seemed like we were on the cusp of a dream, and all we had to do was sell our soul to cash in.
What happened was far from that dream, and instead Canadian workers faced a nightmare. Canada lost over 400,000 manufacturing jobs and its textile industry. In addition, Canada paid millions of dollars in court fees and penalties when sued by corporations under the ISDS resolution mechanism.
Despite some improvements, this NAFTA continues a disturbing trend of giving more enforceable rights to corporations in trade agreements than to the real people involved and the environment. Over the last 25 years, because of NAFTA, our North American auto and manufacturing industry has become highly dependent on the integrated supply chain. In fact, automobiles and parts will often cross our borders hundreds of times before a vehicle is completed.
Since 2001, after we lost the Auto Pact, 44,000 Canadian auto jobs were lost. After this devastating announcement at GM in Oshawa a few years ago, Canadians are learning that no amount of language in free trade deals, including the new NAFTA, will stop corporations from leaving Canada and heading to Mexico, where they are taking advantage of a low-wage economy and a country that does not respect the environment.
Workers are left to fend for themselves, despite the fact that the Liberals will say that this agreement is good for the automotive sector. In fact, Liberals also ensured that GM Oshawa had no ties to Canada once they provided a multi-million dollar bailout, and let the corporation off the hook from ever paying Canadians back.
The Liberals were nowhere to be found when those GM auto workers were fighting for their jobs in Oshawa. They were certainly not on the front lines, desperately searching for answers about their future or their livelihoods.
Interestingly, the Liberals claimed they were working hard for auto workers by signing the new NAFTA last spring. They insisted that the deal was fantastic and no improvements could be made. Funnily enough, the American Democrats proved them wrong. It would seem that the Liberals were not the skilled negotiators they claimed to be.
At every step of the process, the Liberals have said the same thing, that this trade agreement is a great deal. First, they said they were happy with the original NAFTA and did not want to renegotiate. Then they said the first version of CUSMA was the best we could get, and now they say this latest version is the best that they can get. Well which one is it?
When the NDP called on the government to wait to ratify the first version of CUSMA so the Democrats in the States could improve it, Deputy Prime Minister said:
Mr. Speaker, what the NDP needs to understand is that reopening this agreement would be like opening Pandora's box ... It would be naive for the NDP to believe that Canadians would benefit from reopening this agreement.
However, the Liberals are now keen to brag about improvements made by Democrats in the United States.
Income and wealth inequality in Canada today is at a crisis level with 46% of Canadians $200 away from financial trouble. Working people, like people in London—Fanshawe, are struggling to get by and the wonders of this new NAFTA, like the old NAFTA, will not materialize for the majority of people in my riding. The fact of the matter is, neo-liberal trade agreements do not work for workers.
New Democrats have been consistent in our calls for a transparent trade process in Canada that makes the government more accountable and allows Parliament to play a greater role than that of a simple rubber stamp.
The Liberals over-promised and under-delivered on holding meaningful public consultations on this agreement.
The NDP believes that in all trade negotiations, the government should consult Canadians and their members of Parliament from all parties in a meaningful, comprehensive and public way.
I would like to address some of the concerns that I have about chapter 11, the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. We are pleased with the elimination of chapter 11, there is no doubt about that. However, it has been replaced with mandatory regulatory co-operation, and further influence has been given to corporations. While, in principle, international regulatory co-operation has the potential to raise standards, experts argue that under the new terms, corporate influence has increased at the expense of public protections, and limits government's ability to regulate in areas such as toxic chemicals, food safety, rail safety, workers' health and safety, and the environment.
This agreement would give corporations advance notice of new regulations and ensure that they are allowed a consultation process before any regulation goes through a legislative process.
Regulatory co-operation is subject to dispute resolution. This means corporations can still directly challenge government actions, which is the highest form of regulatory chill. Regulators have to vigorously defend proposed regulations and are even required to suggest alternatives that do not involve regulating. They have to provide extensive analysis, including cost benefits, to industry. This makes governments accountable to industry, not to people.
I would also like to address the gender concerns that I have in this agreement. The Liberals promised an entire chapter to promote gender equality, and this was not delivered in CUSMA. The Liberals appear to have abandoned their promise before it could take root. Their limited language regarding the importance of gender equality does not exist as there is no gender chapter.
Experts testified at the international trade committee that these agreements should not just have a gender chapter, though, but that they must also mainstream gender rights throughout the entirety of an agreement, and that gender equality does not concern only the issues of women entrepreneurs and business owners.
The only chapter that addresses the links between gender and trade in any substantive fashion is the labour chapter. Otherwise, the addition of gender equality language is more superficial than substantive. Labour rights must also address injustices to women, like pay inequity, child labour and poor working conditions. The NDP believes that for an agreement to be truly progressive when it comes to gender rights, it must address the systemic inequalities of all women. The NDP believes that both a gender analysis and a gendered impact assessment must be applied to all trade agreements.
A professor in my hometown of London, Dr. Erin Hannah, testified to the international trade committee:
Overwhelmingly we've put attention on women entrepreneurs in the gender in global trade agenda. That's important.... But the lion's share of women in the developing world work in the informal economy.
We don't have very good tools for assessing the impact of all sorts of things in the lives of women working in the informal economy, but particularly trade....[There are no] methodological tools to study the impact of proposed trade deals on women who are not in the formal economy.
That raise much bigger questions, though, about whether the objective of these initiatives is to bring women into the formal economy, to transition women out of the informal economy into the formal economy. It raises a whole host of other issues. I think it's important to think about how that would change these women's lives. We have a data problem, but we also have an ideological problem.
The NDP believes that, like other socially progressive ideals that can be brought forward in trade agreements, words are not enough. For gender, labour, indigenous, environmental or human rights to be truly advanced, there must be tools in place to achieve that progress. As Dr. Hannah rightfully pointed out, Canada has a lot to do itself on the gender agenda. We do not have pay equity. We do not have universal child care. It is clear that to move forward globally and negotiate progressive trade agreements internationally, nationally we must have domestic tools in place that work effectively.
In conclusion, I would like to talk about indigenous rights. My colleague across the way mentioned that again this deal is absent of any mention of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We believe, in the NDP, that the government must abide by article 19 of the UN declaration and obtain free, prior and informed consent of indigenous people before adopting any measures that may affect them.
As was noted by Pam Palmater at the international trade committee during the conversations about Mercosur, indigenous rights should be addressed throughout the entirety of a trade agreement, not only related to one chapter. She also noted that throughout the Pacific Alliance nations, there are large numbers of indigenous people who experience a great deal of violence from transnational corporations involved in trade. That is certainly something we see in NAFTA.
These are some of the concerns I have about the trade deal, and I appreciate the time that this House has given me to discuss them. I appreciate any questions.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the intervention today by my colleague from the NDP although I do take exception with respect to one of the comments that she made specifically around the previous government wanting to basically accept any deal that was out there.
I appreciate the fact that the member was not in the House at that time, but I will tell her what actually happened. A deal was presented. This government seriously negotiated with the Americans for a number of weeks, if not months, to get the absolute best deal. To be fair, it was not the NDP but the Conservatives at the time who asked why we did not take the deal. There was a deal they said and they wanted us to take it. However we insisted on no. We felt we had to work on it and get a better deal and we did end up getting a better deal.
What we have today is a result of the hard work that was done not just by the ministry but also by the government officials who were on side, making sure that we would end up with the best deal. It is important to put that on the record.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-03-11 15:49 [p.1945]
Madam Speaker, I may not have been in the House but I was working for the NDP member of Parliament for Essex, who was the NDP critic for trade at the time. I do know what happened throughout that negotiation process. It was the Conservatives who were pushing for the deal. A lot of promises were made by the Liberal government at the time and it did not fulfill many of them.
When the minister came before committee, she talked about a gender chapter. She talked about an indigenous chapter. The government did not deliver.
At the end of the last session, the Liberal government put forward a signed deal that it wanted the House to accept, despite a lot of New Democrats saying no, that the government was not getting the best deal. We knew then that it could be better. U.S. Democrats insisted that the deal could be better and they made it better. I find it interesting that the Liberal government is now taking credit for that work.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-03-11 15:50 [p.1945]
Madam Speaker, I would like to quote what the vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture said at committee. He said, “Canada agreed to place a world-wide cap on exports of certain dairy products in the CUSMA, which is unprecedented in regional trade agreements. As the nation's prosperity depends on reliable access to global markets, Canada must not agree to this kind of provision in any future trade agreement.”
Could the member tell me what she sees as the dangers in Canada making this kind of concession in regard to another country limiting our own trade with other countries?
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