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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 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 Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-02-06 11:21 [p.1004]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent and say that our Quebec caucus on this side has done a wonderful job on aluminum. It is the greenest aluminum in the world and it should be recognized as part of this trade agreement, but it is not. We are really worried on this side of the House that China is going to bring aluminum in through Mexico and then up, aluminum that is not as clean as Canada's Quebec aluminum. I would like the hon. member to talk about that.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-02-06 11:21 [p.1004]
Mr. Speaker, thanks to the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, we are now talking about green aluminum. We are now talking about the difference in our aluminum, which is one of the best in the world, if not the best. That is especially the case in Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, because as members know, 60% of Canadian aluminum production is in the riding of the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
This is why we made the distinction between Canadian green aluminum and the others. This is why, thanks to the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and supported by the Quebec caucus and the Conservative caucus, we raised this issue and moved forward with it, as has been recognized by the international trade minister and the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada.
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, I am glad to rise today on this debate. As an agricultural producer, and someone who had an export business that shipped to the States and to Mexico, the importance of free trade is something I am proud of as a Conservative. It is our legacy as the Conservative Party. It was a former Conservative prime minister, Mr. Mulroney, who negotiated the first NAFTA deal. Before that it was the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
Having that big vision and making sure that we have trade in this country are parts of a core value of being a Conservative and being a member of our party. I am also proud of our record under former prime minister Stephen Harper. Our former trade minister, the member for Abbotsford, did a phenomenal job in negotiating all sorts of free trade deals.
In particular, I look at the over 40 countries that we negotiated deals with, and at the Canada-European Union free trade agreement that is in place, which was negotiated by the member for Abbotsford. I am just glad that the Liberals showed up and actually signed on the bottom line at the end of the day.
We know that the trans-Pacific partnership was negotiated by the agriculture minister at the time, Gerry Ritz, as well as the member for Abbotsford when he was the trade minister. The terminology and articles of the agreement were all done under his leadership. Again, I just appreciate that the Liberals showed up and signed it. We take full credit for those two major agreements and the 40 countries that we now have free trade with.
The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement is another one that we negotiated. Luckily, the Liberals showed up and signed it at the end of the day, so that agreement exists now.
However, I will say this. The first time that the Liberals had a chance to start the ball from a scrimmage and tried to carry it to the goal line, they fumbled over and over again.
When they were dealing with the White House administration and our colleagues down in Mexico and developed a new NAFTA, which a lot of people call NAFTA 0.5, the Liberals fumbled the ball on numerous occasions both by attacking President Trump in various venues and walking away from the table. We had to play catch-up time and time again.
We have some of the best trade negotiators in the world. Steve Verheul is world renowned and very competent, but with weak leadership he was put into a box that was tough for him to get out of. With Mexico and the United States sitting at the table, we took their deal. We did not take Canada's deal. That is what is really concerning. After talking to people in various industries who are getting the short end of the stick with this new NAFTA deal, we might as well call it “shafta”.
As we sit here and look at what has happened, we have softwood lumber mills across this country, particularly in B.C., that are shutting down left, right and centre. Did the Liberals put a softwood lumber agreement in this deal? Not at all, and jobs continue to bleed and communities suffer because of that lack of leadership.
Looking at various sectors, such as auto, dairy and poultry, the Liberals are actually restricting growth or giving away market access. I am going to go into more detail. I look at the aluminum sector, which the member for Thornhill was just speaking about, and how we have gone from having 100% control of the industry within the former NAFTA framework, to now only having 70% control.
This deal allows backdoor access to China through other aggregators who can bring in aluminum nuggets and remanufacture them, which will hurt our aluminum-producing mills, the greenest mills in the world. Again, the Liberals failed to stand up for them.
The biggest private employer in my riding is Gerdau steel. Although we like to talk about steel having control and protection within the framework of the auto industry, we do not talk about how it can get into the buy America protectionist measures.
The Liberals' inability to move on government contracts in the U.S. because of the buy American restrictions could have been negotiated away if we had stronger leadership from them. They failed to have the buy America policy removed in this new NAFTA deal.
I just met with the dairy industry, and farmers in my riding are upset. They understand the need for free trade. My grain and oilseed producers and my cattle and hog producers are all exporters. They know that what we grow leaves the country, and a lot of it goes south of the border.
However, when we start limiting or giving away market access, it hurts farm families. It is removing income potential and growth from those communities, as well as from those farms. Now over 18% of the domestic milk market, in particular, is already supplied by imports, and the Liberals are eroding that market even further.
The most egregious thing the Liberals did, and not just not negotiating in good faith and not consulting with the dairy industry, the chicken industry or our egg producers, is that they are actually allowing the United States to have a say over how much we can export in dairy products globally.
Currently Canada exports over 55,000 tonnes of dairy products around the world. Under the new NAFTA, or “shafta”, deal, exports are now being limited to 35,000 tonnes. The Liberals are giving up market access in Canada to the extent that 3.6% of the market is now accessible to U.S. dairy producers, and now the U.S. says we can only export 35,000 tonnes.
This is supposed to be a free trade deal. We should be able to access more. One would think that we would be able to go into the U.S. and sell more dairy, but no. The sad part is that it is not just that we are going down from 55,000 tonnes to 35,000 tonnes, a 20,000-tonne reduction, but it is global exports as well.
How can we go out there and sell our fine cheeses, our ice creams, our milk proteins and other products around the world when the Liberals are allowing the United States to say that we cannot export them anymore? That is ridiculous, and it is hurtful. It is something we have to talk about at committee and here in the House.
My colleague, the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, has been leading the charge on what is going to happen in the aluminum industry. I know he is extremely upset that the Liberals have failed to protect aluminum production in Quebec, in British Columbia and across this country. The Liberals are failing to recognize how China can use backdoor shell companies to move their cheap and government-controlled aluminum into our markets. They can use that back door through Mexico in particular. That is something we have to be incredibly concerned about.
The other thing we can look at is the auto sector. Free trade is supposed to help make us more prosperous and create more jobs. The Liberals have a terrible record in the auto industry. We have watched plant after plant shut down and production lines move south of the border. The Liberals have also put in place a cap on how much growth we can have in the automobile industry, a cap of 2.6 million cars and $32 billion in auto parts.
If we look at it, we see that it is only about $20 billion and that we are not producing anywhere near the 2.6 million, but where is the incentive for investors or car manufacturers to set up plants to grow their industry when there is a cap in place, especially when we look at the value of $32 billion? Inflationary pressure alone could eat up that cap within a decade.
Again, it is a disincentive to invest and to expand our manufacturing base, especially in southern Ontario but also right across the country. It is a disincentive for attracting that foreign investment. It is a disincentive to expansion and to an increase in high-paying jobs.
I am very disappointed in the way the Liberals have handled the negotiations. I am very disappointed in what they gave up and by the very little that we got. I am very disappointed that today we have to accept a flawed deal.
View Caroline Desbiens Profile
Madam Speaker, I have been listening to the House debate on CUSMA for a few weeks now.
The Bloc Québécois promised to speak on behalf of Quebeckers here in the House, to ensure that our people, our industries and our investors are represented, heard, protected and served in this Parliament. Quebeckers make significant economic, social, cultural and environmental contributions to Quebec and to the world.
It is for that very reason that I am rising in the House today. It seems clear to me, based on our debates and the results, that Quebec is Canada's favourite bargaining chip to use in economic negotiations with the United States and Mexico. That is obvious. The clean aluminum that Quebec is so proud of will probably be sacrificed in this agreement.
How many times have we shown our colleagues opposite how disastrous this will be for Quebec's economy? A serious, in-depth study showed that this could cause Quebec's aluminum sector to suffer more than $6 billion in actual financial losses. The federal government has not proposed any economic studies on the new provisions in the agreement. We, along with the Conservatives, are still waiting.
Let me also suggest something to think about. Try to imagine how angry Ontarians would have been if the steel sector had been sacrificed instead of Quebec's aluminum sector. Would Ontario have reacted with diligence and resilience, agreeing to sacrifice a large part of its steel economy with the virtuous idea that what is good for Canada must take precedence over what is good for Ontario? I highly doubt it.
That is not the case, since Quebec is making the sacrifices. This clearly shows why Canada is so keen on keeping Quebec in its ranks. An independent and sovereign Quebec would deprive Canada of an important and valuable bargaining chip to use in negotiating economic agreements like CUSMA.
I come from the hospitality industry, where food services only exist because of farmers and dairy producers. Just think of the famous and delicious Migneron, Fleurmier and Saint-Fidèle cheeses, as well as the tasty Paillasson de l'Isle d'Orléans. I encourage hon. members to sample them if they have the opportunity.
Quebec no longer takes second place to anyone in terms of quality of agricultural produce. Organic farming, another source of great pride for Quebec, is also a growing industry. In my constituency, 37 small and medium-sized dairy operations are prospering because of supply management. For many of the crown jewels of Quebec's agricultural economy, this ingenious system has proved its usefulness again and again.
Supply management is great for Quebec. Not only does it foster balance and regulation in agricultural production, but it also works in harmony with the environment. Supply management encourages consumers to be aware and buy local, thereby reducing the environmental footprint caused by transportation.
Our system is a model for the world, yet Canada persists in knocking major holes in it. Those holes will end up endangering the very foundations of Quebec's economy and our supply management system. All of our success and competitiveness are systematically compromised when the dairy and agricultural sectors are undermined. In macroeconomics, that is known as the ripple effect.
Let's talk about milk, then. Let's talk about two of the loopholes that are hugely important to our dairy producers.
First, there is the elimination of class 7, which was for surplus milk protein. It became a significant economic vector for exports for our dairy farmers. Class 7 allowed farmers to offset losses caused by the influx of massive amounts of American diafiltered milk into the Canadian market.
Worse still, CUSMA gives the Americans control over exports of Canada's milk to other countries. Dairy farmers may end up with surpluses caused by Washington, which reserves the right in CUSMA to limit sales of our dairy protein products to the rest of the world.
Clearly, dairy farmers, 50% of whom are in Quebec, have also been chosen to be part of the sacrifices that Quebec is being forced to make, very much against its will, in order to save NAFTA, now known as CUSMA.
The government is buying their silence with financial compensation. Let's talk about that. What is financial compensation in the context of a dynamic and prosperous economic mechanism complete with development and investment plans that play out over decades?
This is financial compensation for business people. My father, who was a businessman, would say, “Financial compensation? Government subsidies? Those are like band-aids on a wooden leg, my dear.”
Who is going to pay? The agreement will weaken Quebec's economy as a whole in many ways, adversely affecting employment, investment, Quebec's finances and, thus, taxpayers, the same taxpayers who placed their trust in me and my Bloc Québécois colleagues, who hope that we will make the case for what we believe so we can protect Quebec from the Canadian government's lacklustre efforts to stand up for Quebec's interests. The government really wants to use Quebec's major economic levers as bargaining chips in trade treaties like CUSMA. Taxpayers are counting on the Bloc Québécois to ensure that does not happen.
Like my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou, I have met with dairy producers in person. They are bright, proactive, in the know about the best production and marketing strategies. They care about and promote environmental preservation and animal welfare. They are experts on the subject.
I am very proud to be able to sing their praises here. However, what would make me really proud is if the concerns of aluminum workers and dairy farmers were recognized, listened to and taken into account in a fair way in the provisions of the agreement in question.
We are well aware that, even after the agreement is signed, provisions can be put in place to remedy the situation. The government is saying that there will be checks and balances to prevent an abundance of Chinese aluminum from being used in auto parts manufactured in North America. Why are these so-called checks and balances not included in the agreement? Perhaps that is something we could work on.
I am convinced that nothing that we are asking for is impossible if we have a real desire and the creativity needed to come up with clear solutions so that the same people, namely Quebeckers, are not always being penalized. What a great opportunity this could be to stop fuelling the cynicism toward government election promises.
The Bloc Québécois believes in free trade. That position has not changed even though the government is trying hard to lead members to believe the opposite. What does need to change is the bargaining chips used in these agreements.
How are we supposed to believe that all of the measures that have been put in place are for the good of the agreement?
The government is not going to persuade a nation like Quebec to quietly sit back and let it do what it wants to the aluminum and agricultural industries just because it included some provisions protecting Canadian culture.
It is not too late for the government to put its best foot forward. The government has the power to turn the situation around. It is up to the government to show its goodwill and to prove that, this time, it really is listening to Quebec.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
Madam Speaker, first and foremost, I want to thank the Conservatives for making it possible for me to participate in today's debate. I was not supposed to speak, but they allowed me to, so I thank them for that. There is co-operation in the House, which I think bodes well for the rest of the 43rd Parliament, because it will make it easier to move forward on issues.
Incidentally, I will warn my colleagues that I am going to talk about aluminum. I do not know if they are aware of this issue, but there has been some discussion about it lately.
Before I address the House this afternoon, I thought I would do some math for the benefit of all my colleagues. The Bloc Québécois has risen in the House nearly 90 times since the beginning of this Parliament to ask the government to explain to us and to the public why the aluminum sector has received less protection in the CUSMA than the steel sector.
I tried to count the number of satisfactory responses we received. I tallied it up, with the help of hard-working researchers. Unfortunately, the answer is zero. We did not get any satisfactory answers. Instead, we have had a lot of talking points, each one more laughable than the last.
We have been told that 70% is better than zero, even though they know full well that this percentage applies to auto parts and not the metal used to manufacture them. I would like the government to know that 70% of zero is still zero. It is simple math.
Another talking point we have been treated to states that the Aluminium Association of Canada, the AAC, supports the agreement. We are well aware that the AAC represents multinationals and not workers. Jean Simard of the AAC appeared before the finance committee as recently as Tuesday and explained that he would have really preferred to see aluminum get the same protection as steel. This talking point is also laughable.
Still another talking point is that we should listen to Premier Legault. We know full well that not since Pierre Elliot Trudeau's government has there been a Canadian federal government so at odds with Quebec.
The most amusing talking point, however, tells us that U.S. President Trump did not originally want an agreement and that CUSMA is therefore a win. We are well aware that Mexico was responsible for dropping the protection for aluminum because it benefits from the dumping of Asian aluminum.
Since we did not get a proper answer to our question, we suggested that the answer might lie in the fact that most of the steel industry is in Ontario. Otherwise, the agreement would have been different. That is irrefutable evidence. However, all we got was radio silence. Have we perhaps found the smoking gun? I am not sure, but I think so.
While Ottawa ties itself in knots trying to justify its mistakes, unions, residents and politicians in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region have rallied around a consensus, namely that Quebec's aluminum is the greenest in the world, that it helps communities that have been hurt by Canada's many trade disputes thrive, and that our people make it worth fighting for.
Since the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord has chosen not to stand with us, we are the only party in the House that has been pushing for a broadly supported, transpartisan proposal on aluminum since day one of this amendment. That is why we do not need to ask Jean Simard whether he thinks the agreement will directly deprive our economy of $6 billion. We believe it will because it is a fact that is quantified in a non-partisan study conducted by experts using a flawless methodology, which we have provided to all parties. I hope everyone has done their homework.
It seems clear to me that CUSMA will ultimately protect China's aluminum industry instead of North America's. China smelts 60% of all of the aluminum in the world. Quebec essentially produces all of the aluminum in Canada, and this aluminum accounts for 6% or 7%.
What would it cost the federal government to protect such a critical industry in Quebec that is struggling around the world? Since the Deputy Prime Minister launched into a flood of figures the other day, I want to give her some important data to factor into her responses in the future.
Six key investment projects are at stake: phase 3 of the Alouette aluminum smelter in Sept-Îles; phases 1-B, 1-C, 2 and 3 of the AP-60 aluminum smelter in Jonquière; and phase 2 of the billet casting centre in my riding, in Alma.
Some $6.242 billion will be lost in the construction industry, simply because this government did not protect North America's primary aluminum market. We will lose 30,539 direct jobs in the construction industry, indirect jobs with suppliers and induced jobs in the consumer sector. We are talking about 829,000 new tonnes of the greenest aluminum on earth. The worst is that, according to the terms of the agreement, we will have to wait 10 years to renegotiate including the aluminum sector in CUSMA. There is one more figure.
The Quebec economy, and therefore Canada's economy, will lose $1 billion in spending. If you multiply that by 10, you get $10 billion. I will do the math for the government and tell them that it will ultimately cost $16.242 billion in communities that need this money.
The worst part of this agreement is that the 70% “protection” for aluminum parts will sanction aluminum dumping from Asia. If we agree to the terms of the agreement without saying or doing anything, manufacturers will be able to proudly stamp “Hecho en Norte America” and “Fabriqué en Amérique du Nord” on Chinese aluminum.
When we started, it was said that the Bloc was alone on the issue of aluminum. Now, when I look on this side of the House, and on the other side, I see that a number of my distinguished colleagues are now on the same page as us. The NDP and the Conservatives are now more or less sharing our concern for the aluminum sector and the tens of thousands of families that depend on it. I am happy, because the only ones now alone on the issue of aluminum are the Liberals.
Something else has affected me since this debate in the House began. Things have been said that are not acceptable in this House and that hurts me deeply. Last week, the hon. member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook said, "I know there is the issue of parts, but with all due respect, the group of people who came to Ottawa yesterday certainly did not stop in Quebec City." He said it in a tone that was supposed to be humorous.
In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, people have come together to form a regional movement. Civil society, aluminum workers and elected municipal representatives have genuine concerns. The study that was tabled now justifies those concerns. This is no joking matter.
These people are rallying together and coming to Ottawa to tell us that they have concerns and that they are worried for their region, their jobs, their families and their children, and the government is responding with jokes. The government is making fun of them by saying that they should have gone to Quebec City rather than coming Ottawa. Even if the member said, “with all due respect”, I think he did exactly the opposite. He showed a lack of respect for them. Regardless of the topic of debate, we will not agree on everything. However, demonstrating a lack of respect for citizens is unacceptable.
I have a note on my bedside table. The first thing I see when I get up in the morning is, “Who do you work for?” I work for my constituents.
I hope to have elevated the debate.
View Yves Perron Profile
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-02-05 17:00 [p.973]
Madam Speaker, I repeat that the Bloc Québécois is in favour of free trade. It is just that the Bloc Québécois reads contracts before signing them. I would like to be a merchant with something to sell and have my hon. colleague as a customer. For example, I could sell him a discounted car at a completely exorbitant price. He would be so afraid of missing out on the deal that he would quickly sign the contract without reading the fine print, where I indicated that the interest rate is 25%. That is a bit like what he is asking us to do.
We are talking about concessions. The government is saying that it is normal to make concessions, and the government members sometimes seem to find this funny. However, there are people in our regions of Quebec who do not find this funny at all. When it is always the same people who keep being asked to make concessions, things become very difficult for them. Sometimes those people get fed up.
The Bloc Québécois supports the manufacturing industry, the environment, women's rights and so on. With regard to aluminum, how do the members opposite not understand that the place where the aluminum is poured is not protected in the agreement?
As we have already seen over the past several years, this results in a huge increase in aluminum exports from China. This dirty aluminum, which is produced with coal, is going to flood our market. I do not understand why the government members keep saying that 70% is better than zero. It will end up being zero anyway. I would like my colleague's opinion on that.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2020-02-05 17:02 [p.973]
Madam Speaker, I talked about gain after gain in relation to aluminum. I gave three examples where there is much more protection: 75% for the total vehicle, 75% of the core products and 70% of the aluminum purchased by manufacturers.
With respect to taking away the type of dumping the member is talking about, there is much more protection than there was under the old NAFTA. There is much more protection than aluminum companies in Quebec would have without it. The member would not want to deny them these new protections.
To give it a more esoteric response related to parts, aluminum is often bought by car producers themselves and given to parts companies because they can buy in great volume. When they do that, 70% needs to be produced in North America. This is a big benefit for aluminum producers and members would not want to deny them these benefits. They are not the total benefits but they are certainly a lot better than what they had before.
View Chris Lewis Profile
View Chris Lewis Profile
2020-02-05 18:20 [p.985]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak in the House on the NAFTA, both in my role as a member of Parliament for the great riding of Essex and also in my capacity as a member of the international trade committee.
As the House knows, the North American Free Trade Agreement is a legacy of a previous Conservative government. At the time it was introduced, there were a lot of naysayers. Indeed, the Liberals campaigned on their opposition to that agreement and then affirmed it once elected. Twenty-five years later, no one disputes the value of free trade agreements.
Under former prime minister Stephen Harper, Canada signed a record number of trade agreements with over 40 different countries, giving Canadian entrepreneurs unprecedented access to markets across the globe. The Conservative Party's record is clear. We support and want free trade with the United States.
Canada's prosperity is tied to a vibrant export market. In Windsor—Essex, we recognize the importance of trade, particularly for our local agriculture industry and automotive sector. The U.S. is our largest trading partner. Every day, $2 billion in trade crosses our border, representing 75% of all Canadian exports. The region of Windsor—Essex, which encompasses my riding of Essex, boasts the busiest border crossing in North America.
Canada's trade levels with the United States are on the order of nine times more than with our next-largest trading partner, China. As my colleague representing Abbotsford, who was trade minister under the Harper government for four and a half years, said, “The United States will always be our largest trading partner and we had better get that relationship right”. He called this deal a “squandered opportunity”.
Here is a quick list of what Canada gave up or failed to do. The new NAFTA does nothing to address long-standing softwood lumber disputes. This trade negotiation was a perfect opportunity to resolve the buy America provision. Mexico got a chapter on this, but Canada got nothing. The Liberals agreed to major concessions on dairy, eggs and poultry without any American concessions in return. The Liberals agreed to a U.S. veto on any trade negotiations with a non-market economy, such as China. Aluminum was not given the same protocols as steel. Why not?
Despite these flaws, the bottom line is that businesses thrive in a climate of stability. As the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said:
Over the last three years, Canadian businesses have sought certainty on the future of the North American trade relationship....
The CUSMA...was an imperfect but necessary agreement to provide greater predictability in our relations with Canada’s largest trading partner.
As a spokesman for the Business Council of Canada put it, the new NAFTA is “good enough” for Canada, something that “gets us through this administration.”
I echo my colleague from Calgary Midnapore: Canadians deserve more than good enough.
Nevertheless, after years of uncertainty, the majority of Canadian businesses and labour wants this deal ratified. Despite this cautious support, many have also expressed concerns about the details and want to know how this deal is actually going to affect them.
That is our job, as parliamentarians, to find out. It is even more so, given the record of the Prime Minister in dealing with other trade agreements, including the TPP, which was badly mishandled by the government.
We saw a repeat of these unnecessary delays during the new NAFTA negotiations. The Liberals did not work with opposition parties during the negotiation and ratification process and now are rushing to get this deal done. They have not provided documents outlining the economic impacts of the new trade deal despite numerous requests from opposition MPs.
On December 12, members of the Conservative caucus requested the release of the economic impact study. It is now 56 days since the request, and we have yet to see the report. We do not intend to simply rubber-stamp this deal.
One example to illustrate the kind of data needed is an issue close to my heart. Labour has supported the clause that requires 40% of cars produced in Mexico be completed by workers making at least $16 U.S. per hour. There is an assumption that automotive manufacturing jobs will migrate north, and that would be good news for workers in Windsor—Essex if that assumption proves correct. However, because of the lack of analysis, we do not know how many jobs are expected to be created in Canada. An economic impact study would provide a frame of reference for us to track those numbers.
Let us look at another crucial sector: dairy. As the Canadian Federation of Agriculture pointed out, “...concessions made by Canada for supply-managed products will once again negatively impact farmers in these sectors”.
I have met with dairy farmers in my riding of Essex as well as in my office here in Ottawa. Milk classes 6 and 7 have been eliminated and 3.6% of the Canadian market is now opened up to imports. The deal also dictates thresholds for Canadian exports on milk protein concentrates, skim milk, powdered milk and infant formula, something Canada has never agreed to before. Further, if the industry exceeds the thresholds, Canada will add duties to the exports, making Canadian products more expensive and less competitive.
As the dairy farmers suggest, this sets a “dangerous precedent” that could affect other sectors in future trade deals as it applies to exports to all countries, not just the signatories of an individual trade agreement.
The Dairy Farmers of Canada have done an impact study. Its numbers show an 8.4% drop in Canada's milk product, an estimated average of $450 million for dairy farmers and their families. It further projects that by 2024, Canada will have conceded 18% of our domestic market to foreign production.
Another concern is whether foreign dairy products will adhere to the same production standards as produced in Canada. I am told that all milk produced in Canada is free of the artificial growth hormone rBST, which is not the case in the U.S. Quality standards need to be part of the discussions going forward.
Dairy farmers have outlined three action items: one, full and fair compensation for recent trade agreements and ensuring that no more concessions are made in future agreements; two, seeking improvements to the new NAFTA through its implementation to ensure that dairy export penalties apply only to the U.S. and Mexico, not globally; and three, ensuring that agencies like CBSA and CFIA have the resources they need to enforce dairy quality standards and regulations.
Past promises to mitigate such concessions have not materialized. We need to ensure that our producers are properly compensated.
Another troubling aspect of this deal is that aluminum was not afforded the same provision as steel, requiring it to be North American and requiring it to be smelted and poured in one of these three countries. Mexico has no smelting capacity for aluminum. The concern for Canadian manufacturers is that without this provision, imported aluminum that is unfairly subsidized and/or sold at bargain prices from countries like China will be dumped into the Canadian market.
Our Bloc Québécois colleagues have made a compelling case for a thorough study of the impacts of this omission. I look forward to hearing more about the economic impacts to aluminum producers and what my Quebec colleagues propose as mitigation.
I also had a briefing with CAFTA, the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, which represents thousands of farmers. Its statistics underscore the importance of international trade to our producers, as 90% of farmers in Canada depend on trade, 50% of which is with the U.S. and Mexico. As well, value-added products represent a $36-billion export market to 190 nations. Market certainty is key to its members' success. It urges us to ratify the new NAFTA and is committed to working with us on implementation to ensure this and other trade agreements function properly. It is so important to Canada's economic prosperity that we get this right.
In closing, I will reiterate that we intend to do our due diligence. We need to see the ramifications, identify the new NAFTA's weaknesses and its implications for future trade deals, and ensure that there is a plan for those sectors and industries that have been left out. We need to do what we can to mitigate negative impacts.
At the end of the day, Conservatives want the best deal for Canadians, but we also know that Canadians depend on us to find out where this deal falls short. That is what we will do at committee. Along with my colleagues, I look forward to giving the new NAFTA a thorough examination.
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-02-03 12:15 [p.803]
Madam Speaker, this is a broad and heavy topic, so today, I will just keep to the country of origin rule. I will give a brief history to explain where that comes from, why it is important and how this agreement threatens Quebec's aluminum industry.
First, modern agreements originated with the European Economic Community, which was established under the Treaty of Rome in 1957. At the time, the parties concerned created a customs union where goods could move within their countries tariff-free.
The six countries could move goods and services without any trade barriers. However, when they negotiated with other countries, a single negotiator spoke on their behalf. At the time, this decision was made to ensure they could better compete with the Americans under GATT, for example. This was not complicated for them. I will give an example that is easy to follow. Under that agreement, if a Japanese car wanted to enter any of the six countries, the same tariffs would apply for all six. There was no advantage for the car to enter one country first and then be sent to another. At the time, that was how things were done.
The Canada-U.S. agreement signed and implemented in 1989 is a bit different. Canada and the United States decided to merge their markets to remove any trade barriers between the two countries. Tariffs could not be imposed on products being exported from Quebec or Canada to the United States.
Take the example of the Japanese car to be exported to the United States. The Americans had the right to independently decide that products from Japan would not be imported to the U.S. In a free trade zone, the Japanese car could enter Canada and then get a free pass to go to the United States. Obviously, that was disrespectful and inconsistent with the intentions of those who had signed the agreement.
To protect themselves from that, the Americans and Canadians told the Japanese, among others, that if they wanted to take advantage of this customs free zone between the countries, they would have to manufacture the car in Canada and then export it unencumbered to the United States. For a car to be able to go to the United States, the country of origin rule stated that at least 50% of the car needed to be manufactured within Canada's borders.
When Mexico joined the agreement in 1994, this percentage rose to 62.5%. Today, this is a free trade zone where three countries have some sovereignty over what can happen in other countries. Two out of the three countries produce aluminum, namely Canada and the United States. Mexico does not produce any. There is one foreign producer, which is China. In five years, China has increased its production by 48%. It produces four times as much aluminum as the second-largest producer in the world. This is a hefty competitor. It produces 15 times as much aluminum as we do. It is well known that China is dumping products.
Dumping refers to the practice of producing goods that are then sold at a loss. There are several reasons why China would do this, but one of the main reasons is that it can eliminate competition in a country and take over the entire market. It can then increase rates and its profit margins.
That is the game played by countries that engage in dumping. Canada and the United States, both aluminum producers, passed anti-dumping legislation, since they have the right to protect their own markets. China's solution was to go through Mexico. Mexico does not produce aluminum and has no need for an anti-dumping law to protect its market. In two months, between May and July 2019, the Chinese increased their aluminum exports to Mexico by 240%. No, they are not all dressing up as RoboCop. They simply figured out a way around the rules. The Chinese sell their aluminum to the Mexicans, who process this aluminum into aluminum parts, which are then sent across the border into the United States and Canada.
They could not get that aluminum across the border because we have anti-dumping laws. This is a way for Mexico to get dumped materials into markets that are supposed to have protections against dumping. To get this aluminum across borders, to create jobs in Mexico and to support Chinese production, which is the most polluting in the world, the aluminum is transformed into automotive parts. It is a good scheme. Between May and July, aluminum parts exports from Mexico to the United States increased by 260%. This is an established, well-known and lucrative scheme that must absolutely be eliminated.
The agreement does nothing to address this. Given that Canada, and especially Quebec, relies heavily on aluminum production, the Liberals talked a good game and said all the right things to lull people to sleep. They said that 70% of aluminum parts used in automotive manufacturing had to be produced in Mexico, Canada or the U.S. What I just explained is supported by the numbers, and numbers do not lie. As the numbers show, this scheme will continue under this trade agreement.
There is a lot of talk about Donald Trump. Everyone is afraid of Donald Trump. Essentially, the government did not capitulate to Donald Trump, it capitulated to Mexico, which decided to produce auto parts with aluminum dumped by China. They are doing this right under our noses and think we will not notice. We figured out this scheme and have condemned it many times because aluminum is Quebec's second-largest export. It is an extremely important market for us. Just go to Lac-Saint-Jean or visit an aluminum plant in Quebec, on the North Shore or elsewhere, and you will see the number of people working in this sector. They have well-paying jobs. We are talking about more than 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, not to mention those that would be created by planned expansions. That is the legacy the government will leave with a flawed agreement. It was unable to negotiate perhaps because it is used to making concessions, but somehow it is always Quebec that ends up making the concessions, and we are sick of it. It is quite clear that Quebec is always the one to make concessions.
We are here to say that this agreement must be amended. We need to agree on that. I know the government is not going to reopen the agreement and renegotiate it, but there are things it can do. We are calling on the government to do what must be done because Quebeckers' jobs depend on it, because Quebec's second-largest export depends on it and because regions depend on it.
That is why the Bloc is rising. We are in the right here. We know we are defending Quebec's interests. That is why we were elected, and that is what we are going to fight for throughout this Parliament.
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-02-03 17:07 [p.849]
Madam Speaker, I want to acknowledge my colleague and thank him for his speech. He praised his government's negotiating skills and claimed that government officials stood up to the Americans.
In my earlier remarks, I said that aluminum dumping is happening in Mexico, which is processing the metal and redirecting it to other places in North America. In a way, that jeopardizes Quebec's aluminum production. This new agreement institutionalizes the idea of Mexico taking the aluminum being dumped in its market and using it to manufacture parts for the production of North American vehicles.
My question is simple. If federal officials stood up to the Americans, why did they capitulate to Mexico?
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
2020-02-03 17:08 [p.849]
Madam Speaker, as the Deputy Prime Minister explained to the House repeatedly during several oral question periods, the aluminum sector is in a better position now and is better served by the new agreement than it was by the old one.
Under the new agreement, vehicles will have to contain a certain percentage of North American steel and aluminum, which was not the case before. I believe the requirement is now 70%, whereas it used to be zero. I think 70% is better than zero.
Moreover, we must not forget that transportation costs are a factor in this market. If aluminum is produced near its markets, customers will naturally choose a product that costs less because it does not have to be transported as far.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2020-02-03 17:09 [p.849]
Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague, a veteran MP, on his analysis of this agreement.
My question is very simple. We have been hearing a lot of outrage and concern about aluminum even though we know international trade rules have anti-dumping provisions that apply in Canada.
Would the member tell us a bit more about that aspect of the new NAFTA?
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