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View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-11 17:36 [p.1960]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments.
I will acknowledge that in the past, Manitoba and Quebec shared a number of cultural connections. One such example is the great Louis Riel. I think that his tragic fate was what ultimately led to the development of Quebec's national conscience.
Back in the early 1900s, French was still dominant in Manitoba. Clearly, our culture still needs protecting in Manitoba. That is for sure.
Donald Trump obviously wanted to get rid of supply management entirely, so the government eventually agreed to open a crack. We feel that this crack is still too much, because it is the third time, in three consecutive agreements, that it has happened. That is unacceptable.
In closing, I remind members that the American agricultural industry is also protected. The same sectors in the U.S. are protected, along with the sugar industry, and I do not think that the Americans made any concessions.
View Luc Berthold Profile
View Luc Berthold Profile
2020-03-11 17:37 [p.1960]
Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague on his speech.
He spoke about the aluminum industry, which we were very concerned about. We also stood up for the aluminum industry in the House.
Unfortunately, I think the Bloc Québécois is being quite naive. It was satisfied with the Deputy Prime Minister's stated intention to perhaps do something with the Americans to protect our aluminum industry, to provide for traceability measures.
These negotiations unfortunately never materialized. They are yet to happen, and the Bloc Québécois seems to be taking the Deputy Prime Minister and the Liberal government at their word.
Earlier the parliamentary secretary spoke about give-and-take. Where is the give-and-take in all of this?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-11 17:38 [p.1961]
Madam Speaker, first of all, I find my Conservative colleague's comment pretty ironic because the Conservative Party was quick to vote in favour of the new NAFTA at second reading and at all subsequent stages even before we had these enhanced protections.
Second, elected representatives, union members and workers in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean are all very pleased with what we achieved.
We targeted Chinese aluminum and proved that dumping is illegal, and we ensured that measures will be implemented, as is the case in Canada for what enters Mexico. That sends the right signal.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie: I would really like my colleague to stop interrupting and let me speak.
We are well aware that the U.S. government agrees and clearly wants to make sure that aluminum entering Mexico is traceable.
View Bob Saroya Profile
View Bob Saroya Profile
2020-03-11 17:40 [p.1961]
Madam Speaker, I come from the private sector and I am really glad to speak to this very important subject.
For Canadian businesses, when it comes to finding customers, Chicago and Toronto are separated by only 800 kilometres. Vancouver and Toronto are separated by 4,000 kilometres. For businesses in Vancouver, customers in Seattle are much closer than even customers in Calgary.
To put it into perspective, 66% of Canadians live within 100 kilometres of a border. It is closer to ship to the south. Geography is a part of it, but over 325 million potential customers is a powerful reason for businesses to look south before they look east or west. For any growing Canadian company, it is just a matter of time before it looks to expand south.
Business is just one part of this equation. Customers in the United States demand Canadian products and Canadians demand American products.
In terms of trade, no relationship compares to that between Canada and the United States: 75% of Canada's trade is done with the United States and $2 billion worth of goods crosses the border everyday.
Just because trade is mutually beneficial does not mean it is easy. Trade can be complex, with different regulations, safety concerns and government help to the industry in different countries. Free trade is never free of rules. That is why agreements need to be reached.
When Canada and the United States began to trade, we did it piecemeal until 1992. That is when Canada, led by then prime minister Brian Mulroney and the Progressive Conservative Party, signed the North American Free Trade Agreement. That created the world's largest economic trading zone. That agreement was an overwhelming success in growing our trade in both the United States and Mexico.
The deputy prime minister put it into perspective when she said, “Today, Canada, the United States and Mexico account for nearly one-third of global GDP despite having just 7% of the global population.”
The clear benefits of NAFTA have helped establish free trade as a foundation of Canadian conservatism, a foundation that former Prime Minister Harper built on by signing trade agreements with South Korea, Jordan and Columbia, among others. Let me remind everyone that the new European Union trade deal was negotiated almost entirely under the previous government. Simply put, the Conservatives understand that.
I am here to discuss the next stage of our trade relationship with the United States and Mexico, the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, CUSMA, also known as the new NAFTA.
We all know how we got here. On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump promised Americans a better deal with trade. Millions of Americans were concerned that jobs were flowing south to Mexico because of low wages, little regulation and few rights for workers. President trump told them that they were right. On election night, many analysts pointed to these words as the reason that President Trump was able to carry the rust belt states. That delivered him the presidency.
Unfortunately for Canadians, as soon as President Trump was elected, it became clear that calls for a new deal were more than just hot air. Renegotiating NAFTA was a primary goal for his presidency. That meant Canada would be back at the negotiating table.
The talk around the negotiating table was not comforting. Statements made by the Canadian government made it look like it did not take the situation seriously. The Prime Minister threw personal attacks at President Trump, which showed an interest in scoring political points rather than securing a good deal for Canadians.
On the other side, statements by the President about Canada were often not true. At times, it seemed as if Canada was an afterthought, as President Trump focused on Mexico.
The good news is that the deal is done. After years of uncertainty, businesses can once again begin investing in Canada, and investors can be assured that trucks, ships and planes carrying goods between the United States, Canada and Mexico will not grind to a halt due to the repeal of NAFTA.
Many businesses and industries as a whole have made it clear that they want this deal signed, and they want it signed soon. Premiers across the country have also added their voices to that message.
I have already made it clear that the Conservative Party supports free trade. We understood that billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs, if not millions, were at stake. We wanted the best deal possible for Canadians.
As my colleague from Prince Albert put it, we wanted a good dealt that would last for the next 50 years, but that is not what we got. Instead, Canadians have a deal with new red tape and other barriers that hurt Canadian businesses, a deal that ignores ongoing problems and mutually beneficial economic opportunities.
The barrier I find most disturbing involves trade deals with other nations. Under CUSMA, if Canada continues expanding it free trade network, it will have to seek permission from the United States. This overreach into Canadian sovereignty is a hard pill to swallow. Canada should be free to pursue its trade interests with anyone.
That question of American oversight also made its way into the rules about dairy products. Canada gave up 3% of the market to American suppliers in the deal, but the concessions did not end there. Milk protein exports are now something the United States government has a say over. The Canadian government also negotiated away milk classes 6 and 7. With all these drastic changes, it should not be a surprise that the dairy industry will need help. That help will most likely come in the form of subsidies or payouts for which Canadians will be on the hook.
The new rules around aluminum have also raised concerns. Canada is a massive producer of aluminum. Globally we are the fourth-largest producer in the world. When CUSMA was being negotiated, it was clear we had to protect our market share in the United States, which, according to the Financial Post, is “just over half of it.” The new rules protect our steel industry but do nothing for aluminum.
As I mentioned before, one of the problems with this deal is the issues that were ignored. The issue that comes to the top of mind is the buy America policies. We failed to get rules in CUSMA that would stop the unfair boxing out of Canadian companies from government contracts in the United States. Mexico was able to strike a deal.
As for the lingering softwood lumber dispute, it was ignored and left in the hands of the World Trade Organization, an organization that has struggled to make any progress on the issue at all.
In terms of opportunities lost, a glaring example was not including more professions under section 16. That would have made it easier for companies to bring in high-demand low-supply professionals who they need to grow their businesses.
Instead of the 50 years of certainty, the new NAFTA gives 16 years, 16 years before we are back at the negotiating table, and that is if we can make it past the six-year formal reviews of CUSMA.
While there are many flaws, a deal is better than no deal, and we need to focus on the next steps. The agreement has put many industries at risk. There needs to be discussions on how Canada is going to ensure CUSMA is not a crippling blow for them. Unfortunately, that means Canadian taxpayers are once again facing new costs because of poor decisions by the Liberal government.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-11 17:50 [p.1962]
Madam Speaker, I have had the opportunity to listen to a number of Conservatives speak, and it has become quite obvious that there is a Conservative spin such that no matter what would have been achieved, the Conservatives would have been highly critical of it. I believe we did get a good deal. That is one of the reasons we have received the support we have throughout the nation.
One of the things the Conservatives continue to bring up is the C.D. Howe Institute. They will say, for example, that Canada's GDP has gone down, so they draw the conclusion that this agreement is a bad deal. What they do not mention is that it actually affects the GDPs of the U.S.A. and Mexico as well. All three go down. That is partly because of the issues surrounding the protection of our automobile industry.
Does my colleague across the way not believe that it is worthwhile to protect our automobile industry here in Canada?
View Bob Saroya Profile
View Bob Saroya Profile
2020-03-11 17:51 [p.1963]
Madam Speaker, when we talk about the industry, the negotiation, etc., this deal was negotiated by Mexico. The Prime Minister was calling the president names, and vice versa. That did not help. The deal was negotiated between Mexico and the United States. We signed it at the end of the day because we had no choice. There are many flaws.
As I said earlier, I come from the private sector and I believe in private enterprise. Dairy products, the softwood lumber industry, the aluminum industry and many other industries will suffer with this new deal.
View Scott Duvall Profile
View Scott Duvall Profile
2020-03-11 17:51 [p.1963]
Madam Speaker, my friend mentioned earlier some of the issues with this deal, but I have heard from many major stakeholders in the steel industry, the president of the Canadian Labour Congress and the president of Unifor that although they are not really entirely happy with this deal and are disappointed, they feel it is a much better deal than the original deal. Does the member agree with those comments?
View Bob Saroya Profile
View Bob Saroya Profile
2020-03-11 17:52 [p.1963]
Madam Speaker, back in 1992, if my memory is correct, when NAFTA was created, most of the unions and many other people said it was a bad deal, that it would never happen, that it would take jobs and many other things. However, at the end of the day, it was one of the best things the Conservatives did back in 1992. In today's deal, as I mentioned, there are many flaws.
I wish the Liberals had asked for advice from the member of Parliament for Abbotsford, who negotiated with the European Union and many other countries. The Conservatives could have given them advice at no cost, but the original NAFTA was the best deal possible for us.
View Denis Trudel Profile
View Denis Trudel Profile
2020-03-11 17:53 [p.1963]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
Generally speaking, what I am noticing this afternoon from my Conservative colleagues' comments is a wilful blindness with respect to protecting aluminum. They seem to have difficulty understanding that my Bloc Québécois colleagues, our leader and I worked very hard with the Deputy Prime Minister to negotiate an agreement that includes the traceability of aluminum. Today, the greenest aluminum in the world is protected thanks to the efforts of the Bloc Québécois. Of course, this remains to be seen, but time will tell.
The Conservatives agree that we relinquished 3% of supply-managed markets in this agreement in addition to what was lost in previous agreements.
Today we are talking about compensation. Could my colleague tell us what compensation might be offered?
In his view, what is 3% of the dairy market worth and how much should we give farmers in the coming years?
View Bob Saroya Profile
View Bob Saroya Profile
2020-03-11 17:54 [p.1963]
Madam Speaker, yes, I agree with you that Quebec produces the greenest aluminum. That was left behind because the deal was not negotiated with Canada. The deal was negotiated with Mexico, and we ended up signing the deal for the sake of signing a deal.
As I said, I come from the private sector, where we would rather have this deal than no deal, but the deal was not negotiated with President Trump in good faith and at the end of the day we took what he gave us.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
Madam Speaker, I am very happy to be rising in the House again, this time to speak to Bill C-4 and also the aluminum industry.
I first want to acknowledge all those who worked hard to ensure that the Bloc Québécois could support the agreement. This includes elected officials, such as the mayor of Alma, Marc Asselin; the mayor of Saguenay, Josée Néron; union representatives, in particular Éric Drolet, Sylvain Maltais and Alain Gagnon; as well as economic stakeholders.
People were indeed expecting us to vote, but they wanted us to be voting for gains. Instead of ordering us to shut up and vote no questions asked, they instead chose to work with us, which worked out really well in the end.
Indeed, it was a pretty good idea. We used the full power of our positions to ensure that the fundamental interests of Quebec and its regions were protected. We were not simply criticizing without making any suggestions.
It may have been a long shot back in December, since the House seems to have forgotten that an opposition can do more than oppose for the sake of opposing. We had to believe that it was possible to make gains. Clearly, our belief ultimately paid off.
I will come back to the steps that finally led me to say that I would vote in favour of Bill C-4. It think they are worth mentioning, mainly for those who are watching at home and who are wondering what happened between two days before CUSMA was ratified and now regarding the loss of protection for aluminum.
On December 10, we learned that aluminum was no longer protected, as my colleague from Joliette so clearly pointed out. The government abandoned the aluminum industry even though aluminum is Quebec's second-largest export. What is worse, the government considered the matter to be closed for the next 10 years. That was a disaster for us and for many stakeholders in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, the North Shore and central Quebec.
On December 12, we clearly announced our intentions. We would not vote in favour of the agreement unless aluminum was given the same protections as steel. Even the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord was on our side. He told the media that he planned to vote against the agreement. He issued a press release with us, which basically said the following:
There are some good things in the agreement, but the lack of protection for the aluminum industry is unacceptable...my constituents will always come first. The aluminum industry was not respected...and unless something is done to secure our place on the North American market or unless export programs are put in place, I am seriously considering voting against the agreement.
That has changed, but that is what he was saying not too long ago.
I imagine that he trusted us to do the rest. The following week, on December 19, we took part in a demonstration, without him, but with many unions, business owners, and municipal and provincial officials from all across Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. More people turned out than for LNG.
Aluminum has been a big industry for us for 100 years. What is more, the aluminum produced in my region and in Quebec is the greenest in the world.
Fundamentally, however, what everyone needs to remember is that when all this started, the Bloc Québécois were the only ones saying aluminum had not received the same protection as steel, because we were the only ones who had read the agreement carefully.
Curiously enough, the steel industry is concentrated in Ontario, and the aluminum industry, as we now know, is almost exclusively located in Quebec. In fact, 90% of Canada's aluminum is produced in Quebec, and 60% of that comes from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. It is no surprise, really. Quebec is starting to get used to being used as a pawn in international treaties and being sacrificed for the sake of Ontario's auto industry and western Canada's oil industry.
We were the only ones saying it, while the Liberals kept trotting out the same old convoluted talking points. After repeating our arguments and proving them in debate, we eventually got the NDP and the Conservatives on our side. However, the Liberals continued to deny the sad truth. Unlike our colleagues in the other opposition parties, we could not let down our aluminum workers. We could not vote for the implementation of the agreement. There was just no way we could do that.
I may have mentioned this before, but I stuck a little note to the side of my nightstand that says, “Who do you work for”. It is the first thing I see every morning. The answer to that question is that I work for my constituents, for the people of Lac-Saint-Jean and for Quebeckers as a whole.
What do we do in this situation?
Some people said we were on our own. They did not reckon on the courage, strength and determination of our people. Our people mobilized, and we supported them politically and technically. We were not alone, and they were no longer alone. They all came here, to Ottawa, at the end of January, to air their concerns. Elected officials, workers and economic players from our regions came here to share their concerns, and they brought a study with them.
Basically, the study said that 30,000 jobs would be at risk if the expansion phases did not go through. Investments worth $6.2 billion were in jeopardy. That would have been $1 billion in economic spinoffs every year for 10 years gone if the agreement was not changed and a real solution not found. We needed a concrete proposal to provide better protection for aluminum.
Considering those massive numbers, should we have just sat there twiddling our thumbs?
We are talking about the vitality of our regions and of Quebec as a whole. We are talking about our families and our children, and that is why we all took a stand.
We did more than just criticize; that would not be our style. We also proposed a solution. Initially, no one on the other side of the House was listening to us. Life is like that, but only a fool will not change his mind. In the end, the Liberals did listen to reason. I will give them that, and I thank them for it.
The Liberals agreed to negotiate, and we finally reached an agreement. At the end of the day, some of my hon. colleagues were able to set partisanship aside and put the interests of their constituents ahead of the interests of the parties in the House.
There are many things that divide us in this place. For instance, I strongly believe that Quebec should become a country, and as soon as possible. Despite the obvious differences in our political perspectives, we were able to secure a win and ensure that aluminum would be better protected. It was a Bloc Québécois proposal, but it was the Deputy Prime Minister who brought that proposal to Washington. I thank her for that.
Imagine what would have happened if we had just remained in our seats and voted in favour of implementing the agreement without making any demands. It is not complicated. If the Bloc had acted like all the other parties in the House, our aluminum workers would have been left out in the cold. The regions in Quebec would have been abandoned. Quebec's economy would have once again been the big loser in another international treaty signed by Ottawa.
This House was then able to see the principles that guide the Bloc Québécois. Above all, we are guided by our conscience. There is no denying that we have had a positive influence on how work is done in the House. So much the better if the other parties represented here are inspired by our approach. In the end, it is the men and women we represent who come out on top.
Who do we work for? I know. Now it is up to all my hon. colleagues to answer that question.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-11 18:04 [p.1965]
Madam Speaker, I can attempt to answer the question in terms of who I work for. I represent the wonderful, fine residents of Winnipeg North, but the residents of Winnipeg North believe that the well-being of the nation is really important to all of us, no matter what region of the country we live in.
Appreciating the importance of Canada's middle class is of the utmost importance. In providing different types of programs, whether it is health care or public education, the role that the national government can play is important. I would argue that my constituents are very similar to the constituents of all members of Parliament in all the different regions of our country.
When I look at the trade agreement as a whole, I see that it is in the best interests of my constituents, based on the type of feedback I receive from them. Would the member across the way not agree that this trade agreement is in the best interests of his constituents, as it is to mine?
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague would not be making that speech if he were the member for Lac-Saint-Jean. Obviously, the people of my riding were not really happy with this agreement.
The aluminum sector is one of the biggest economic engines in my riding, the biggest even. Right from the start, I will have to disagree with my hon. colleague.
Second, we worked with the Liberals on getting improved protection for aluminum because there was work to be done. When the agreement was ratified in December it was not as good as it is today. We collaborated in order to improve the agreement.
The people in my riding are knocking on my door to say that they are not happy and they are concerned for their job, their children, their family and their future. Clearly, I cannot agree with my hon. colleague.
View Emmanuel Dubourg Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Emmanuel Dubourg Profile
2020-03-11 18:06 [p.1965]
Madam Speaker, first, I would like to commend my colleague for his speech.
He very eloquently defended the interests of his constituents. I also want to tell him that there were many factors to consider in the negotiations.
Does my colleague recognize, like other elected provincial and municipal officials in Quebec, that the agreement that will be signed contains significant gains for Quebec?
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
Madam Speaker, there are good things and bad things in this agreement, as there are in any agreement.
That being said, I woke up one morning and realized, as I read the paper, that the aluminum industry, the economic backbone of my region, was being threatened. The Bloc Québécois worked hard to develop a proposal and persuaded a lot of people. Premier Legault also said that the way the aluminum industry was being treated was unacceptable. Of course, he had his own concerns and so he wanted the agreement to be signed. If we had sat back and failed to use the means at our disposal as MPs, we would not have gotten what we did. I agree with my hon. colleague that there are good things in any agreement. There is no doubt about that, and that is what we have been saying from the beginning. We simply needed to stand up and fight for our constituents, which is what we did. I am very proud of that.
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