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View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, let me say, as I probably rise for the last time in this Parliament, how honoured I am to represent the good people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, how much I have learned from my colleagues here, but also how invigorated I am by the greatness of this country and my commitment to work hard for the people I represent.
As I join this debate today, I feel compelled to make a few observations. To be clear, Canada did not ask to be put in this position. However, as we know, the U.S. election resulted in a new administration, with a mandate, among other things, to renegotiate NAFTA. That is where all of this started.
I think we can all agree that this particular renegotiated agreement resulted in an outcome that is less than ideal, but of course, it could have been much worse. Many concessions were made, and we still have unresolved issues, such as the lack of a deal for Canadian softwood lumber, something that is critically important to my riding.
Ultimately, it is not a secret that the official opposition will be supporting this deal. Unlike the third party, we do believe it is better than no deal. However, that does not mean that there are not some lessons to be learned here.
To me, it is deeply troubling that the Prime Minister went into these negotiations with his usual theme of demanding things that are all about building his brand and appealing to his base of supporters. In other words, the Prime Minister thought he saw an opportunity to score some political points and feed the brand. This is not unlike what he tried to do when he approached China.
In both cases, he failed miserably. Why would he not fail miserably? Would we as Canadians accept another leader trying to push his or her own values onto us? We simply would not accept that. What nation would? However, that is precisely what the Prime Minister attempted to to. Some may call this arrogance. Whatever we call it, it was easily foreseeable that it was a path to failure.
However, the Prime Minister did not care and went about his virtue-signalling anyway, so we ended up on the sidelines: Canada, a world leader, on the sidelines. There we were, on the sidelines with our biggest trading partner, while Mexico was in the driver's seat, getting the deal done.
Here is the thing. Mexico did get it done. Let us look at its approach. Mexico did not use the trade negotiations as some sort of domestic political opportunity to score points. Mexico did not use this as an opportunity for virtue-signalling. Mexico did not have a lead minister giving a speech within the United States of America that took veiled potshots at the U.S. administration. Mexico discussed issues related to trade and did so professionally. It is easy to see why that approach worked so well for it.
Our approach, led by the Prime Minister, was a complete failure. It did not have to be that way. I can tell colleagues that, on this side of the House, we would have taken a much different approach. I am actually quite confident that there are members on the government side of the House, whom I have worked with at various committees, who I suspect would have also taken a much different approach. I believe it is important to reflect on these things so that we can learn from them.
Canada should never again be in a situation where we are sitting on the sidelines with our greatest trading partner, while Mexico is driving the bus. I hope that is one thing we can all agree on. Perhaps that is why we are now hearing the name of Mark Carney, because there are other Liberals who feel the same way.
Now we have a new deal. Whether it is called the new NAFTA, NAFTA 0.5, USMCA, CUSMA, or whatever, there is something we should all think about. Recently, Jack Mintz wrote a very good piece on investment fleeing Canada. Members who have read the article would know that it debunks some Liberal talking points that had been carefully cherry-picked.
As an example, yes, investment in Canada was up in 2018. However, that sounds good until we consider that it was up from 2017, and 2017 was an absolute disaster of a year. Even in 2018, it was still below where things were in 2015. Yes, I mean that 2015.
Yes, investment in the U.S.A. is down, but that is outside investment. There is a large increase in U.S. domestic capital now staying in the United States. This means it is not coming to Canada.
Why should we care about that? Let us look at our automotive sector. Yes, there is still some investment in Canada, but there is considerably more occurring in the United States and Mexico. Mexico, in particular, has been a hot spot for automotive investment. Let us think about that. Mexico has no carbon tax. It has no new and enhanced CPP causing premiums and payroll taxes to increase every month. Much of its industrial power is cheap, and I would even say it is dirty.
CUSMA does more to address some of those issues than the NAFTA deal it replaces, but we also have to recognize that foreign investment in Canada is not the rose garden the Liberals are trying to suggest it is. This is a deal among three countries. If we become the most expensive, most regulated and most inefficient country to do business in, we lose collectively as a country.
The Prime Minister can continue to be virtuous. He can continue to ask people to pay just a little bit more. He can continue to lecture others for not sharing his values. However, at the end of the day, none of those things are going to attract the investment we need to make the most of this deal.
While we are on the subject of trade, I note that last week, during question period in this place, the Prime Minister vilified former prime minister Harper close to a dozen times. As the Liberals' good friend Warren Kinsella recently pointed out, the Prime Minister is looking “for an enemy to demonize”.
I mention that because the former Conservative government of Mr. Harper concluded more free trade agreements than any prime minister in the modern era. It is not as if the Liberals, or the Prime Minister, would be unaware of this, because they sat in this place during the last Parliament and voted in support of all those new trade agreements, yet the Prime Minister turns around and vilifies the former prime minister, who has a demonstrably more successful record on trade agreements.
However, perhaps that is preferable to talking about the lack of progress on Canadian softwood. I looked up on the Open Parliament website how many times the Prime Minister has even mentioned the word “softwood”. The answer is 18 times since 2016. The vast majority of those times were only because he was answering questions on softwood lumber asked by the opposition.
How many times has he referenced Stephen Harper? It is 190 times, and it will probably be more than 200 after today's question period. With the Prime Minister's priorities so focused on vilifying Mr. Harper instead of focusing on softwood lumber, is it any wonder he has made zero progress on this file?
Why do I point this out? I point this out because lumber mills are closing all across British Columbia at an alarming rate. My riding has lost lumber mills. I know first-hand what that does to a small rural community. It is devastating. However, there is complete silence from the Prime Minister regarding softwood lumber unless he is asked about it by the opposition in this place. Why? Maybe it is because he is too busy vilifying Mr. Harper.
In my view, that is not acceptable. B.C. forest workers deserve better. They deserve to know that they have a prime minister in Ottawa working to reach a softwood lumber deal.
I sometimes wonder whether, if Mexico had a vibrant softwood lumber sector, we would now have a deal done by extension as well. It is clear that Mexico has a more effective track record in these negotiations than the brand-first approach of the Prime Minister.
To summarize, we did not ask to be in this situation, clearly. However, I believe the approach taken by the Prime Minister to try to use this as a political opportunity was deeply flawed and made a bad situation worse.
Again, as evidence of that, I say to look no further than the approach taken by Mexico and the success that it had while we sat on the sidelines.
I have raised this point with ministers of the Crown. They told us that the meetings between the United States and Mexico were simply on bilateral issues that had nothing to do with Canada. However, they came out with a trilateral agreement, and Canada had a take-it-or-leave-it moment.
Despite the many concessions that the Prime Minister has made on this file, we can still make the most of it, but only if we recognize that we need to be more competitive. We have a regulatory environment in which things can get done in Canada. Many people have raised alarm bells, particularly the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and not just about the lack of investment but also the ability to get things done.
The Leader of the Opposition today clearly asked the Prime Minister several times for the date for the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Prime Minister promised the Trans Mountain pipeline, one of the most important projects on the deck and one of the only ones on the deck, would go forward to help build the national interest, but the Prime Minister cannot give a date.
Originally, the Liberals said that it would be operating this calendar year. Again, I would submit that one need to look no further than the Trans Mountain pipeline as evidence as to where the challenges are. It has been four years, and still there is not a shovel in the ground. The fact that the Liberal government had to buy the project to save Kinder Morgan from the embarrassment of not being able to build it in a timely manner is all part of the problem. The fact that today even the government has serious challenges in trying to navigate the process to get it done is telling. Does anyone seriously believe that Bill C-69 and Bill C-48 will make it easier to invest in Canada?
The Prime Minister says that tankers can operate totally safely in one part of British Columbia and in other parts of Canada, but are so dangerous in another part of British Columbia that they must be banned. Does anyone seriously think that makes sense? In fact, a number of the senators in the other place have commented on the lack of scientific evidence on Bill C-48. The committee that studied it in depth recommended that the bill not proceed.
The approaches of the current government do not reconcile. These are the types of mixed messages that are just not helpful. However, I remain hopeful that we can become more competitive and that as we move forward, we can ultimately try to fully capitalize on this agreement despite the many concessions.
I would like to close on a more positive note, and I will add a few positive observations.
As we have established many times and in many areas, Canada and Canadians can compete and succeed against the very best in the world. As legislators, it is our job to ensure that they have a level playing field and unrestricted market access to do so. Therefore, I will vote in favour of this agreement as, ultimately, it will provide these opportunities.
However, I must say one more time that until we have full, unfettered free trade within Canada's borders, we are, as a country, not owning up to the promise of Confederation, and that falls on us. It falls upon the provinces that have not allowed Canada to become not just a political union but an economic one.
This will be my last speech in the 42nd Parliament, and I would like to share a few words on a personal note.
We all share the collective honour of being elected members of this place, and our families all share the sacrifice for the many times that we cannot be there for them. It is my hope that our families, particularly our young ones, understand that in this place our collective desire to build a better country starts and ends with them. I would like thank all families of parliamentarians for their understanding and support.
I would also like to share a word with other members of this place. It is so unfortunate that much of the work we do here is often summarized by many Canadians as what transpires in question period. Much of the most important work that we do collectively happens at committee.
On that note, I would like to sincerely thank the many members I have worked with on various committees. Everyone I have worked with shares the same commitment to help ensure that the federal government provides the best level of governance possible. We may disagree on programs, projects and approaches, but I have found that we share a commitment to making these programs work best for Canadians.
A final point I would like to make should not be lost by any of us. The former Conservative government introduced a program to provide supports for kids directly to their parents. At the time, the Liberal opposition mocked it, ridiculed it, and suggested that parents would simply blow the money they received on beer and popcorn, but when the Liberals formed their majority government in 2015, they did not kill that program. Liberals saw the merits of it and saw that it was working so they made improvements to it, and now it is working even more effectively. I wish to commend them yet again for that.
That is an example of two very different governments coming up with a program and finding ways to improve it to ensure that it helps support Canadian families.
Trade is similar. After all, we are a nation of traders. We need to have these things that make us collectively prosper, that allow us to build stronger ties and relationships and provide the security and the sense of certainty that it takes for someone to start a business or for a country to get behind a new program. These are great examples of the work that we do when we are here on behalf of Canadians.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the time you spend in the chair. I am sure there are many different ways you would rather spend your time than listening to me, but I do appreciate the work you do and I am sure my constituents do as well. I look forward to the challenges in the upcoming months and in the questions and comments I will hear from my fellow colleagues.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, in my speech I pointed out that this is obviously a three-way agreement and that trade is influenced by many different things: the ease of transport, the tax regime, and tariffs, obviously, because that is what a free trade deal is supposed to deal with.
As I mentioned in my speech, Mexico has seen a rise in the development of its automotive sector because Mexico is not subject to many of the costs that are associated with doing business in Canada, such as the enhanced CPP, for which employers have to pay higher premiums, and the carbon tax, which increases the price of everything, particularly for processes that require a tremendous amount of energy, such as those in the automotive sector.
We must remain competitive if Canada, a nation of traders, is to compete in trade. We cannot take our products and services to other countries if we are priced out of the market because of our input costs. That is an area where we cannot allow Canada to fall back. I hope that when the time comes, the member will advocate for a new government to deal with the red tape and excessive taxation that the government has put on this country.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, I want to reiterate my thanks to the member for her kind words, and to say the same. We all should respect members who work so very hard for our constituents. I thank her for her service.
One thing I have learned as an elected official, both at the city council level and now as a member of Parliament, is that business asks for just one thing from government: certainty. While the negotiations kept going on, I heard right across the country at business round tables that people felt they could not make those once-in-a-lifetime or once-in-a-generation investments in their businesses on the Canadian side. Often the reason people chose to go south with those investment choices was that we did not have trade certainty.
I am fully cognizant that this deal is a sub-par deal that the government's approach led us to this position. I will support this only because the business owners I speak to and the people they employ are asking for that basic certainty.
However, we need to make sure that our entrepreneurs, our producers and ultimately our employees have a level playing field. Right now, I am very concerned about the competitiveness aspects of our country. While we maintain trade ties with Mexico and the United States, competitiveness is going to become more and more important. It is something that we should never take our eyes off of.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, I will just go back to my speech.
Again, it is about putting forward values that may be important to the Prime Minister, that may be important to Canadians. He tried the same approach with China. China rejected that.
I would just ask it the other way around. If the leader of China came to Canada and said, “We want a free trade agreement, but here is what we want to see” and put values in it that are contrary to Canadian values, Canadians would rightly say that we were not in support.
In the case of Mexico, Mexico was laser-focused on where it could win. When we asked the government where it got any wins, the Liberals said that we kept chapter 19. If they cannot say where their wins are and can only say that they kept one component, it is not much of a win.
There was concession after concession, not to mention the steel and aluminum tariffs that kneecapped many in our industry. That was the wrong approach.
In my speech, I gave an alternative view. We should not have allowed Mexico to isolate Canada in those bilateral talks that ended up being trilateral ones. That was a key error, regardless of what the government says. I know there are Liberals on that side who would agree with that assessment.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, the member seemed most offended by the Canada-China FIPA, so I will address that straight away.
First of all, the member should review the Constitution. It is the executive, in this case the Prime Minister and cabinet, that has the authority to enter into agreements with other countries. It was actually the Harper government that made changes that allowed those agreements to be tabled for 21 days here so that parliamentarians could review them.
If the member and his leader want to win enough seats to form an official party, they can make that the question on their opposition day.
When we push Canadian companies to sell their products and services abroad, and they choose to enter a place like China, they may not feel that they are going to be treated the same way they are in a rule-of-law country like Canada, like the United States and like many in the European Union, where there is due process and similar values in that due process. They would ask how they were going to protect themselves in case there was confiscation without compensation. Having that process in place in places like China allows some protection.
I would be happy to speak with the member further about his views.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, in March 2016, the Prime Minister promised to resolve the softwood lumber dispute. He said, “I’m confident that we are on a track towards resolving this irritant in the coming weeks and month.” That was three years ago. Yesterday, the third mill in my riding in two weeks closed its doors.
The Liberals have lots of time for their millionaire friends, but when it comes to B.C. workers, they cannot lift a finger.
Will the Prime Minister finally make good on his promise to resolve the softwood lumber dispute and save jobs?
View Mel Arnold Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-06-18 22:02 [p.29364]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Davenport for her valiant attempt to defend something that is indefensible. She talked for 20 minutes trying to extol the virtues of this agreement, yet in that 20 minutes she never once mentioned the softwood lumber agreement.
In March 2016, her Prime Minister and her trade minister promised to have a deal framework within 100 days. We are now years past that 100 days and nothing has ever been done by the government on the softwood lumber agreement between Canada and the U.S.
Currently, in my home province, British Columbia, and in my riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap, we have mills shutting down because of the difficulties in the market, because there is no certainty created for them out of this trade deal whatsoever. The Liberals have completely abandoned the softwood lumber agreement and left those mills in limbo.
Could the member explain why she did not even mention that in her 20-minute intervention?
View Cathy McLeod Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, in the past few weeks, the communities of Vavenby and 100 Mile House have been devastated by sawmill closures. We have an industry in crisis and it is moving en masse to the United States. Despite this urgency, the government failed to even consider it as part of the NAFTA negotiations.
The Prime Minister is heading to Washington next week to meet with the U.S. President. Will he commit to addressing the softwood lumber dispute with President Trump?
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, while Conservatives support stability, let me point out that we have heard the government say before that everything is fine.
The Mexican government met with the Americans to discuss trilateral issues that they originally said were all bilateral. By the time the Liberal government had woken up, smelled the coffee and realized it had been played, it ended up getting handed a NAFTA 0.5, which is this agreement that is now being referred to as CUSMA.
The Government House Leader has said that she heard specifically that the Canadian process will be in tandem with the American process. The Liberal government has been played before. What evidence does the Government House Leader have from either Congress or the administration that the government will not be played again?
View Cathy McLeod Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the community of 100 Mile House received very difficult news about the closure of Norbord and the 160 jobs that will go with it. This is 10 days following Canfor in Vavenby, with 180 jobs, and the government is partly to blame. The Liberals had four years to resolve the softwood lumber issue, and they have had no progress. They could have attached it to the NAFTA negotiations, but they did not seem to care. Instead, we have an industry that is moving en masse to the United States.
Can the Prime Minister tell us his plan to support these communities?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2019-06-10 19:42 [p.28850]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak again to Bill C-101, which is effectively a story of failed foreign policy, a story of failed Liberal trade policy and a story of abandonment of our western industries and our manufacturers.
This bill, in short, is really reflective of the Prime Minister's failure to recognize how important the relationship between Canada and the United States is. That relationship is with our largest trading partner. Our bilateral trade is somewhere in the order of $850 billion a year.
What happened was that, for a number of years, the United States has been asking Canada to address a serious trade challenge. That trade challenge is the issue of steel and aluminum imports coming into North America, coming into Canada, effectively being dumped in Canada by countries that sell it at prices that are below the actual cost. It is about illegal imports of steel coming through Canada and then being transshipped into the United States.
The challenge here is that, even though the United States was asking Canada to implement some legislation that would address this very serious trade challenge, our Prime Minister did not listen. He thought that Donald Trump was bluffing, and he did not do anything about it.
A year ago, our American cousins became frustrated and said that if Canadians were not going to listen to their concerns, they were simply going to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. That is exactly what happened. It took over a year for this Prime Minister to actually take that message seriously.
Today, we are debating the legislation that should have come forward over a year ago. We did not have to go through this period when the United States was imposing tariffs under the guise of national security concerns. We can just imagine Canada, one of the most trusted partners of the United States, security partner, trade partner, foreign policy partner, and the United States becoming so frustrated that it said it would have to use section 232, the national security exemption, to impose these tariffs on Canadians. It might be illegal at the World Trade Organization, but the U.S. was going to do it anyway because it was so frustrated with Canada's intransigence.
That has to be laid at the feet of the Prime Minister. It is symptomatic of a broader malaise in Canada's trade agenda and policy that started back in 2015. Canadians have a right to ask what the playing field was like back in 2015 when the Conservatives left government and the Liberals came in.
Over the preceding 10 years—
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2019-06-10 19:46 [p.28851]
Madam Speaker, thank you for your consideration. There was a lot of heckling coming from over there. They have very thin skins over there because they do not want to hear the truth about their reckless trade policy.
What did 2015 look like? The Conservative government under Stephen Harper had just completed free trade agreements with 46 different countries around the world: trade agreements with the European Union, with the Trans-Pacific Partnership partners, with South Korea, with Jordan, with Peru, with Colombia and with Ukraine. We also modernized trade agreements with countries like Chile and Israel. We had the most aggressive, successful trade agenda this country had ever seen.
For 2015, the tableau had been set. Our diplomatic relationships and trade relationships around the world were as good as they had ever been. We then had a Liberal government come in. Here we are four years later, and what does that agenda look like? Can our Prime Minister travel to China and talk about trade policy? He absolutely cannot. The Prime Minister went to the Philippines and he embarrassed the president of the Philippines in his own country when our Prime Minister was the president's guest at the East Asia Summit.
It has been a disaster of a trade policy. We can think about India. We can think about the tweet about Saudi Arabia—
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2019-06-10 19:50 [p.28851]
Madam Speaker, that is funny. The member started off by saying the Liberals completed the agreements. He then said the agreements are not effective. We are talking about the largest consumer market in the world, the European Union, negotiated under the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper. It is the second-largest trade agreement we would have with any other trading partner in the world, the U.S. being number one. The one thing he said that is truthful is that the United States is our largest trading partner and our bilateral trade is some $850 billion.
However, the second-largest consumer market in the world is the European Union, a well-heeled market under which trade is growing. There are huge opportunities for Canadians to now penetrate that market and drive economic growth and prosperity here at home.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2019-06-10 19:57 [p.28852]
Madam Speaker, as a former trade minister involved in the negotiation of the TPP, I can tell members that I was aghast, and all of my Conservative colleagues were aghast, at what happened in Vietnam. The 11 remaining partners of the TPP had completed negotiations and they all agreed that they were going to meet the next morning to sign the TPP, finalize everything and have a formal announcement. They all got together the next morning, except that there were two chairs empty. Canada's trade minister was missing and Canada's Prime Minister was missing. They were missing in action. They did not show up.
It is among the most embarrassing trade moments that Canada has ever been responsible for. I can tell members that under the next Conservative government, that kind of embarrassment will never happen again.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-07 11:44 [p.28753]
Madam Speaker, it is obvious that the government does not care about the over 200,000 Canadians who are employed by forestry, or the 9,500 forestry jobs in indigenous communities across our country, or the hundreds of communities across rural Canada that depend on the forestry industry for at least half their base income.
Despite having a once-in-a-generation chance to end the long-standing softwood dispute by negotiating a new NAFTA, Liberals squandered the opportunity. Why?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-07 11:45 [p.28753]
Madam Speaker, thousands and thousands of jobs are at risk right now. Hundreds of jobs have been lost in recent weeks in my province alone. Where are they standing with them? In the unemployment line? That answer is shameful.
The Liberals have admitted that forestry has not been a priority. They would rather litigate than negotiate. For the past four years, they have failed to be a champion for our forestry families. What are they going to do for the thousands of Canadians employed in our forestry industry who have already received mill closure layoff notices or job losses?
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are sick and tired of the protectionism within their own country and the Liberal government's failure to do anything about it. We are one country from sea to sea to sea, and Canadians should be able to buy and sell goods between provinces.
In the Prime Minister's free trade plan, half the agreement is 130 pages of exceptions. It is time for action, not more Liberal failures.
Premiers are stepping up for genuine interprovincial trade. When will the Prime Minister do the same?
View Cathy McLeod Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, the community of Vavenby received devastating news on Monday when the Canfor sawmill closed and 178 people were out of work. This follows the Tolko Industries closure, where 240 people in Quesnel are out of work. This is the second major shutdown in the last 30 days. We have an industry in crisis.
Why did the government fail to make resolving the softwood lumber issue a priority when it renegotiated NAFTA?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-05 15:06 [p.28584]
Mr. Speaker, in signing the last softwood lumber agreement, the former Conservative government put an end to the longest and most costly trade dispute with the U.S. We expanded overseas markets, we championed a wood-first initiative.
However, when the deal expired, the Liberals refused to make securing a new softwood lumber agreement a priority. In my province, over 140,000 jobs are forestry-dependent, 140 communities are forestry-dependent. In the past three weeks, seven mill closures have been announced or are imminent.
How many more families have to lose their livelihoods before it becomes a priority for the Prime Minister?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-04 13:23 [p.28487]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address some of the failings of the Liberal government over the last four years and reflect upon just how disastrous it has been.
The heckling continues over there. The Liberals never miss an opportunity to get some good heckling in. Our colleagues across the way are chirping loud and doing all they can to throw us off. However, it will not work. I have been chirped at by the best and they definitely are not the best.
I rise today to talk to Bill C-97, the budget implementation act. Essentially, it is an extension of the government's attempt to cover up what could be actually the biggest affront to our democracy in our country's history. It has attempted to cover up potentially the biggest corruption at the highest levels of our government, and that is the SNC-Lavalin case. That is what we are seeing here today. I bring us back to that again because I feel I have to. The gallery is packed. I know Canadians from coast to coast to coast knew this speaker was coming up.
I would be remiss if I did not remind Canadians from all across our country that it was day 10 of the 2015 election when the then member of Papineau committed to Canadians that under his government, he would let the debate reign. He said that he would not resort to parliamentary tricks such as omnibus bills or closure of debate. He also told Canadians around that same time that he would balance the budget in 2019. Those are three giant “oops”, perhaps disingenuous comments. I do not think he has lived up to any of them at this point.
As of today, the government has invoked closure over 70 times. Why? Because the government does not like what it is hearing. If the Liberals do not like what the opposition is saying and they do not want Canadians to hear the truth, they invoke closure. This means we cannot debate really important legislation. They limit the amount of time for debate on that legislation. The BIA, Bill C-97, is just one of them. Does that sound like letting the debate reign? It does not.
It is interesting that whenever things go sideways for the Prime Minister, a couple of things happen. We see him even less in the House or something always happens to change the channel. That is what we have today.
Bill C-97 is really just a cover-up budget. We have talked about that. It just goes in line with more and more of the government's kinds of wacky ways, where it says it will spend money and perhaps it doles it out. However, the money is not really going to things that Canadians need the most.
We see $600 million in an election year being given to the media, a media that is supposed to be impartial. That is a $600 million bailout.
We also know that in the previous budget, approximately $500 million was given to the Asian Infrastructure Bank. That $500 million is not being spent in Canada for one piece of an infrastructure.
I rose to talk about a few things. One of the things that is really disappointing for me is this. When the Liberals came to power in 2015, a lot of promises were made, and this one hits home for us. I have brought this up time and again in the House. The Liberals said that they would put an end to the softwood lumber dispute.
I think it was in 2016 that the Prime Minister stood in the House and told Canadians that he was going to have a deal done within 100 days. He had a new BFF, the Minister of International Trade Diversification said. Both were just giddy. They were going to get this deal done and put an end to the softwood lumber irritant once and for all, yet last week, we found out from the Senate Liberal leader that the Prime Minister had other priorities ahead of softwood lumber.
Over 140 communities and over 140,000 jobs are tied to forestry in my province of British Columbia. Forestry is a cornerstone industry in my province, yet it was not a priority for the Prime Minister in renegotiating his NAFTA deal.
What we are seeing with the Liberal government is that rural Canadians are just not its focus.
Last week I also met with some real estate folks and some Canadian homebuilder folks. They told me that the Liberal government's B-20 stress test and the shared equity program, which is geared toward trying to get Canadians into homes, is actually hurting that industry. The real estate industry is saying that the B-20 stress test, which was geared more for Toronto and Vancouver markets but is all across the country, impacts rural Canadians negatively .
Almost $15 billion has been kept out of that industry, meaning that it is harder for Canadians to get into the home ownership they strive for. It is a step into the middle class. People put money toward something they own rather than putting it into something that someone else owns. The government's failed B-20 policy and the shared equity program is hurting Canadians. It is another example of how Canadians are worse off with the Liberal government.
I will bring us to a couple of years ago. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Minister of National Defence all have it down pat. They can put their hands on their hearts and say that they really care, yet it is the same Prime Minister who told veterans that they were asking for too much.
Yesterday was a very important day, because we saw the closure of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls commission and we saw its report. The government knew that this day was coming, but did it put any money in the 2019 budget for that? There is nothing.
The Liberals like to say that Canadians are better off than they were under our previous Conservative administration, but it is actually the opposite. Canadians are worse off since the Liberal government took over. Eighty-one per cent of middle-income Canadians are seeing higher taxes since the Liberal government came to power. The average income increase for middle income families is $840. The government's higher pension plan premiums could eventually cost Canadians up to $2,200 per household. The Liberals cancelled the family tax cut of up to $2,000 per household. They cancelled the arts and fitness tax credit of up to $225 per child. They cancelled the education and textbook tax credits of up to $560 per student. The government's higher employment insurance premiums are up $85 per worker. The Liberal carbon tax could cost up to $1,000 per household and be as high as $5,000 in the future.
The Prime Minister called small businesses tax cheats. The government's intrusive tax measures for small businesses will raise taxes on thousands of family businesses across Canada.
The list goes on and on. Bill C-97 is just the capping of a scandal-ridden administration, and to that, I say, good riddance.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-04 14:14 [p.28495]
Mr. Speaker, British Columbia is the largest producer of softwood in North America. Forestry is a cornerstone industry in our provincial economy. It generates $33 billion in output and $13 billion in GDP. B.C. leads the world in sustainable forestry practices. Over 140,000 jobs are directly attributed to forestry in British Columbia, and over 140 communities in our province are forestry-dependent. About $8.6 billion in wages are generated by the forestry industry.
However, last week, in the Senate, the Liberal leader said that the Prime Minister missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to renegotiate NAFTA with softwood in it and put an end to the softwood lumber dispute once and for all, because he had other priorities. This was not his priority.
Mill closures and work curtailment notices are being seen across our province, yet hard-working forestry families are not the Prime Minister's priority.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-05-31 11:40 [p.28349]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Senate Liberal leader admitted that the Prime Minister did not even try to negotiate an end to the softwood lumber dispute in the failed renegotiations of NAFTA. He had other priorities.
Mill closures are being seen in my riding and throughout our province. In 2016, the Prime Minister stood and said he would have a deal within 100 days. He also told Canadians that he was seized with finding an end to the softwood dispute, yet now we know he had other priorities.
Why did the Prime Minister not take this once-in-a-generation opportunity and to put an end to the softwood lumber dispute once and for all?
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the member's bluster, and most of the last part of his remarks was bluster.
I am surprised he even started talking about the Prime Minister's approach to trade. When he went to the trans-Pacific partnership meetings, he stood up Australia and Japan, angering them. Now Australia is taking us to court at the WTO.
That member went on about the new NAFTA. A Conservative government would never allow for there to be a supra-committee that would discuss our bank monetary policy, which is in there. It also limits Canada's ability to trade with non-market countries without any definition.
The Prime Minister is hurting us abroad. I do not even need to touch on India, which is a key ally and a potential trading partner, a relationship that the Prime Minister has wrecked.
That bluster needs to come back down to earth and that member should start talking about Canadian interests first, not alienating our partners, not giving away our sovereignty.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour to join the debate. This is my first opportunity to rise and give a full speech in this new chamber.
It is not a secret that the former Conservative government was a strong believer in trade. Indeed, no Canadian prime minister in recent history successfully concluded as many trade deals as occurred under Mr. Harper. Obviously, that includes much of the current trade agreement with Israel we are here to debate today.
Before I begin my comments, I would like to share a few things about my riding. Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola is a large and very diverse riding. Yes, we have large urban areas, with West Kelowna and parts of Kelowna, but there are also vast rural areas in my riding. Ranching, mining, forestry, fruit growing, and of course, winemaking are just some of the activities my riding is well known for.
The exciting thing is that more trade deals have been created. This opens new markets and creates new opportunities. I can say first-hand that it is rewarding to meet with producers or growers who share with me that prosperous new ventures have been created for them courtesy of new trade deals. This is occurring increasingly. That is why I am excited about and supportive of this new, updated trade deal with Israel and the opportunities it will create.
Let us not forget that trade is a two-way street. There will be new trade opportunities in Israel as well as in Canada. Therefore, rather than talking about the trade agreement itself, let us look at a few of these new opportunities for a moment.
The first question to ask is what is in it for Israel. It is a great question. Did members know that, currently, one of the top exports from Israel to Canada is electronic items? These days many believe that electronics are largely made solely in China, when in fact, Israel has a thriving electronics sector. Optical, photo, technical and medical equipment is a leading export from Israel to Canada.
Other major exports include machinery, plastics, stone, precious stones and pharmaceutical products. This is on top of edible fruits, nuts, citrus peel and melons. This is all part of a fairly diversified group of products and commodities.
From the Canadian perspective, what do we export to Israel? Industrial machinery is one of our largest exports, followed closely by aircraft and aircraft parts. We also export to Israel our fair share of electronic items and scientific and precision instruments.
We also have emerging agricultural trade. Our top agricultural exports are wheat, corn and lentils. I have spoken with many people from Israel who are always delighted to share with me how much they enjoy chickpeas from some of our prairie provinces, with Canada being the leading source of that staple. In addition, Canada's fish and seafood exports to Israel include fish fats and oils, scallops, mussels and lobsters.
From a provincial perspective, Quebec, Ontario, Atlantic Canada, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. all currently have some level of trade activity with Israel. This was built on the previous agreement and the work Mr. Harper did to bring our two countries together. This new version of the trade deal will only increase that further.
I have to pause here for a moment. In my view, as much as this is a mutually beneficial opportunity for Canada and Israel, I feel I must point out the obvious. This deal, once ratified, will make it easier for a winery in the Okanagan to directly sell to a customer in Israel than to one in Ontario. It will be easier for an Okanagan winery to ship to Tokyo, Texas or Tel Aviv than to Toronto or Alberta.
That we, as a Canadian people, continue to ignore internal trade barriers should trouble all of us, on all sides of this House. I do not want to make this a partisan issue, but we really need to start making some progress on internal trade.
Getting back to the agreement with Israel, I will close by indicating that I strongly support this agreement. I am always excited for the opportunity that new markets create for producers and for small business owners in my riding and elsewhere in Canada. We know that when Canadians can compete, when they have the chance to compete on the world stage, we can produce world-class results and win.
I will be strongly supporting Bill C-85. I would like to thank all members in this place for their contributions to the great Canadian success story of trade on the international front.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would gladly answer the question if I knew the answer. I did not follow the discussions at committee. I would best leave it for members to decide what they can infer from Hansard.
That being said, the NDP continues to talk about human rights and issues germane to the region of the Middle East. It is important that we always keep the perspective that where we can improve situations and conditions for all people, we should do our fair share and speak up on it.
However, the NDP continues to support flip-flopping back and forth with different positions on Venezuela, which is in a crisis situation. The New Democrats go after people for discussing opening up stronger ties between Canada and Israel, an existing agreement. I wish the NDP would actually focus on the big challenges of the day, in terms of human rights in Venezuela, and not continually switch positions, depending on where the political winds are blowing.
I will say again, members should always be concerned about human rights. We should strive to work together to rise as humanity towards a sense of dignity of persons in all places. It is a little rich for the NDP to constantly be nitpicking on one issue when it is totally out of line when it comes to the Venezuelan people and their rights.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for his leading question. Sometimes when he speaks, I think there is a greater distance than more than two and a half sword lengths. In fact, sometimes I think he is asking questions from Disneyland, most likely from Fantasyland. Some of the things he has said are just not kosher with reality.
On the flip side, we have great opportunities in this country. We have a long relationship with Israel, but let us also note that this newly revised agreement will also include services and Canada will actually enjoy a surplus. There is about a $60-million surplus that we have received, where our Canadians get a chance to go and travel to Israel and share their Canadian know-how.
Who benefits the most from that? Sharing cultures is always important, but it is our young people who oftentimes get sent on overseas contracts to work in different areas. They benefit not only culturally from that and economically, but from creating better ties. Let us be mindful that when we trade, we create bonds, and eventually that is how we create a more peaceful world.
In closing, I will offer an olive branch to the member opposite and say that trade is good for all sides concerned.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, it is always helpful to hear various views in this place and again, I heard a number of times in this debate that Canada is a small and open economy and needs to be out there winning. I would hope all parties would say that when Canadians get out there and compete, we can succeed. That is something in which we should take great pride.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the Conservative member for continuing to talk about the importance of free trade for the country and for the whole world.
The use of trade builds bridges. It also creates economic growth, so that we can start to work on societies and make them stronger. I want to thank the member for the nice question and again ask this place to continue to work on it within our own country in terms of internal trade.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, most people would join me in saying just let me go, but I certainly appreciate the member of Parliament's question.
There are a number of Canadian firms that are developing next-stage technology. There is a huge number in digital health where there may be some extra collaborations. Let us be mindful that innovations that have come from Israel, whether it be desalination or other agricultural processes, do get imported and the practices are utilized here in Canada, but also the innovations we have in Canada can go there. Again, it is not just trade and economic growth. There are opportunities for the extension of quality of life, by sharing what we know.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2019-01-28 18:15 [p.24926]
Mr. Speaker, that is pretty rich coming from the member for Malpeque. I was the trade minister when the TPP was negotiated. All the key elements of the original TPP were incorporated into the final agreement. When the United States bailed out, the other 11 parties said it was worthwhile moving ahead and finalizing it.
The Liberals want to challenge us on trade. When our former Conservative government was elected in 2006, how many trade agreements did we have with countries around the world? We had trade agreements with five countries: the United States, Mexico, Israel, Costa Rica and Chile. When we were finished 10 years later, we had completed the most ambitious and successful trade agenda this country had ever seen. We had trade agreements with 51 countries around the world, including CETA and including the TPP, which was a Conservative negotiation that took place successfully.
We will not take any lessons from the Liberals on trade.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
moved:
That the House: (a) recognize the severity of the looming job crisis in Canada caused by the failed economic policies of the Liberal government, especially for (i) workers in the energy sector impacted by the Liberal carbon tax, the no-more-pipelines Bill C-69, and the ban on offshore oil tankers, (ii) workers in the auto and manufacturing sector impacted by the Liberal carbon tax and failed policies that put Canada in a competitive disadvantage, (iii) workers in the steel and aluminum sectors impacted by the Liberals’ failure to have tariffs removed from their products during NAFTA negotiations, (iv) workers in the forestry sector impacted by the Liberals’ failure to resolve the softwood lumber dispute during NAFTA negotiations, (v) farmers impacted by increased input costs due to the Liberal carbon tax, (vi) workers in sectors that rely on those above, whose jobs and incomes depend on the vitality of the Canadian economy, (vii) workers in all sectors impacted by the toxic medley of carbon taxes, higher payroll taxes, higher personal income taxes, tax increases on local businesses, and costly and burdensome regulations; and (b) call on the government to (i) eliminate the carbon tax, (ii) repeal Bill C-69, (iii) resolve the dispute on steel and aluminum tariffs, (iv) resolve the softwood lumber dispute, (v) lower taxes, (vi) streamline regulations, (vii) open up interprovincial and international markets.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with the member that the government capitulated time and time again when it came to the new NAFTA negotiations. Despite the rhetoric of the government, those steel and aluminum tariffs are hurting jobs right across this great country. With respect to softwood lumber, the first thing I did after the 2015 election was to stand up in this place to implore the government to take concrete action to engage with the Obama administration on softwood lumber. Here we are years later and there is no certainty in either of those.
The government likes to talk a good game but delivers very poor results. I really do hope that it takes in mind this motion, because as I said in my speech, we have so many things to be thankful for and so many things we can work on, but we cannot do it if we are saddling our industries with tariffs, policies, regulations and taxes that do not allow them to compete with places like the United States.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would absolutely agree with the member on one thing. It is important for those families who are going to be impacted to get access to EI. They have paid into that system and will expect those benefits to be there when they need them. I appreciate that end of it.
The finance committee, last November and in the spring of this year, went to Washington and New York. We spoke specifically to politicians and businesses there. The tax reform measures the Americans passed late last year absolutely had drawn the attention of a lot of people, because we saw a lot of opportunity for investment, and people were doing that.
Since then we have had tariffs put on the Canadian economy that continue to make things worse for us. In his speech, the member talked specifically about some of the investment provisions in the fall economic update. Does he not agree that this is far too late? For these kinds of incentives if someone is looking to go out of business they are not looking to invest, so it does not help them. It does not help the people in Alberta, and it will not help the people in Oshawa tonight. Does he not see how his government has allowed for this to go on far too long, where we are seeing some of these decisions are made in advance?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2018-11-23 11:32 [p.23779]
Mr. Speaker, the fall economic update came on the heels of sweeping notices of work curtailment and mill closures in British Columbia and indeed in my riding.
West Fraser, Conifex Timber, Tolko Industries, Canfor and Interfo forestry companies have all announced sweeping forms of labour force reductions. With Christmas just 32 days away, families are now facing tough choices.
Why is the Prime Minister and the minister neglecting hard-working forestry families?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2018-06-14 15:08 [p.20952]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe there have been discussions, and if you seek it, you will find consent for the following motion.
I move that, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, Bill C-79, An Act to implement the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership between Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendments, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2018-06-12 14:42 [p.20734]
Mr. Speaker, Canada's farmers locally produce the highest-quality milk, eggs, and poultry in the world.
Maintaining Canada's system of supply management is critical to the farm families that make up the backbone of my community. These families were worried when the Prime Minister went on American television and said that he was willing to be flexible when negotiating with the United States on supply management.
Just how much access to the Canadian market was the Prime Minister prepared to give away in order to make a deal with Donald Trump?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2018-03-19 18:05 [p.17689]
Mr. Speaker, you will forgive me if I cross the line. I have been away for a little while, in case you have not heard. However, I am back and I am a little frustrated.
It is an honour to stand in the House. It is always an honour, and I have a greater appreciation for the work done on all sides of the House. However, it has been frustrating for me to sit at home recuperating, and to watch and listen to the debate. Our colleagues across the way, the Liberals, stand up with their hand on their hearts and tell Canadians time and time again how they are seized with the issues of the day and they are the most important issues for them. Then they table budget 2018.
As always, I bring it back to my riding of Cariboo—Prince George and what this budget would mean to my riding. I will go back to July 31 when the Prime Minister and some of his cabinet ministers stood in my riding, in Williams Lake, before the cameras and said, “We will be there for the rebuild. We will be there for the challenges to come in the months to come, and this is a time for us to stand together and for the federal government to once again say we will there for Canadians in times of difficulty.”
Well, it is months past that date. As I toured my team through our riding last week, we met with family after family, business owner after business owner, logger, forester, farmer, tour operator, municipal councillors, and they are still waiting for that support.
Over the last year, we have seen flooding that happened just kilometres away from here and the unbelievable wildfires that happened in British Columbia. We are seeing some unprecedented natural disasters. However, when our leaders of the day stand up and say they will be there for us, I do not know about other members, but I take them at their word that they are going to do it.
The government has failed Canadians. It has failed rural Canadians. This budget 2018 does nothing for rural communities such as those in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George.
We have some trying times ahead of us with the increasing protectionist agenda of our closest trading partner to the south that we do most of our trade with. It is getting harder and harder for Canadian producers and businesses to plan ahead. It is getting harder for companies to invest in Canada, because we are sending the wrong messages. We are sending mixed signals. As a matter of fact, a CEO of Suncor recently said that things are too uncertain within Canada for them to further invest.
The government's job is not to necessarily weigh into our private lives, to tell us how we are going to do this or that, how the government can do it better for us, or what we should be doing better. Its job is to create an environment where all can be successful, where industry wants to invest in our country, where other countries look to us in high regard because of the way we set policy for our countrymen.
I have stood before this House time and again and said that it seems when the cameras are on, the Prime Minister and his ministers stand there with their hand on their hearts and pledge all the support in the world, that this is what they are going to do, that they are with us, and maybe even a little tear comes out. However, when the cameras are off, they are nowhere to be seen.
Forgive me, as this has nothing to do with budget 2018. However, while I was gone, I was tagged in a social media post. It has been two years since the Prime Minister stood in this House and pledged to the chief of Attawapiskat, Bruce Shisheesh, that he would be there for them, with them, and would visit that community when they were having a terrible suicide epidemic. Guess what? As soon as the media left, did the Prime Minister go there or attend? Has he gone there to this point? No, he has not. If it does not garner a lot of attention, why should he be there?
That is like budget 2018. There is a lot of fluff in there, not a lot of meat. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister is spending today like we are in a crisis. There is no thought about what happens “if”. When the Liberals were campaigning, they said they would post a deficit of about $10 billion. When they tabled budget 2018 a couple of weeks ago, it was $18 billion, with no plan to get us back to a balanced budget. I do not even know how many times we have asked. Our critics on this side, shadow ministers in the opposition, have asked time and time again, and there is no plan.
For somebody who campaigned and said they were ready to lead, all we see is pointing fingers and assigning blame to everyone else. Do not get me started on the international faux pas we have seen on the international stage. I promised myself I would not bring that up. It has been hard, as one can imagine. It has been hard sitting at home and yelling at the TV. As I told my physician, if I can yell at the TV, I can yell across the way. However, it has been difficult.
I visited the riding last week, and there was a lot of despair. Whether it is that there is no softwood lumber agreement or the new tariffs that have come in, there is a lot of concern. We have lost much of our fibre in terms of our annual allowable cut and the harvestable fibre in our neck of the woods. Our farmers are having a difficult time. We hear our colleagues talk about there being no rail cars to move grain to market. Well, there are no cars available for our forestry producers to get their product to market.
In this budget 2018, if the Liberals wanted to do something transformative, why did they not invest in something like our rail system? Why do they not make investments that can have meaningful change and set Canada up to realize some huge potential, whether it is policy or investments? It is disappointing, but, again, this is what we have seen as par for the course. It is disappointing.
There are some great people on the other side, some really good people. I am looking, and I can see a few of them there today. However, I have said this before, and I think the Prime Minister is not only failing Canadians as a whole but failing the back four rows of this House on that side. They have to go back to their ridings and explain the things that this person in the front bench is doing. It is disappointing, it really is.
Mr. Speaker, I know my time is getting short, but I want to end with this. It truly is an honour to stand before you in this House. Once again, and I will probably say this time and time again, I want to thank you and all our colleagues for the support along the way. However, our Prime Minister is failing Canadians, and it is disappointing and unacceptable.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2018-02-28 16:21 [p.17478]
Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that over the last two years there has been a real difference in our competitiveness, a real slide in Canada's competitiveness on the global market. We have seen it especially in the natural resource sector, where increasing regulations, taxes, and a different regime have made Canada's natural resource sector, especially, and manufacturing sector, less competitive as our number one customer becomes our number one competitor.
I saw nothing in the budget that addressed the competitiveness gap between Canada and especially the U.S., and nothing about NAFTA.
Could he talk about what was not in this budget specifically around our competitiveness as a country?
View Mel Arnold Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mel Arnold Profile
2018-02-09 11:09 [p.16996]
Mr. Speaker, trade seems to be a real challenge for the Prime Minister.
First, it was softwood lumber trade. In 2016, we were promised a framework within 100 days. Now, nearly two years later, the PM's framework is nothing more than broken toothpicks. Then there was NAFTA, where he conceded to a rewrite even before being asked. Who knows what he was trading on the Caribbean vacation. What did we get in return? We got a $200,000 tab paid by Canadian taxpayers, not such a great deal.
Now there is a trade war breaking out between two friendly provinces in the west and the Prime Minister fails to act like a national leader in the national interest. Instead, he flies to California to celebrate sunny days while we learn that 88,000 Canadian jobs were lost in January.
There is a trade trend with the Prime Minister, and it is not a good one. Can we finally trade the Prime Minister off before he delivers another trade disaster?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2018-01-30 14:15 [p.16523]
Mr. Speaker, it is January. New year's resolutions are beginning to fade and, surprise, surprise, the Liberals' much-vaunted trade agenda is in shambles.
The long-promised softwood lumber agreement is nowhere in sight. Remember the Prime Minister's bromance with Barack Obama? Then there is the TPP meeting in Vietnam where the Prime Minister was a no-show, embarrassing his hosts, and burning all his bridges to Southeast Asia. A visit to China to beg for a trade agreement was similarly embarrassing, with the Chinese dismissing our Prime Minister, and sending him packing. Now our reckless ambassador has suggested that China could replace the U.S. as our best trading partner and ally. All of this is happening while our hapless Prime Minister is trying to negotiate a NAFTA trade agreement with Donald Trump.
Cozying up to communist China is not going to help our relations with the United States. When will the Prime Minister finally realize that negotiating trade agreements is not for rookies? When will he get out of the way—
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-12-08 11:48 [p.16196]
Mr. Speaker, since day one, we have been challenging the government to make securing a new softwood agreement its number one trade priority. It was no surprise to the rest of us that yesterday's U.S. ruling seems to have caught the Liberal government off guard.
Softwood lumber is now being held ransom by an increasing protectionist U.S. administration. Hard-working forestry families and their livelihoods are being held ransom. With only weeks to go before Christmas, what is the minister planning to do and prepared to do for Canadian families?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-12-07 14:59 [p.16154]
Mr. Speaker, this morning, the United States International Trade Commission unanimously voted against the Canadian lumber industry, because of the Liberal government's inaction and failure to get a deal done despite repeatedly assuring this House and Canadians that it was getting the job done. Canadian industry is being held ransom and is facing a lengthy and costly legal battle. Job losses and layoffs are going to be seen.
What does this minister have to say to those hard-working forestry families who are now facing even a more uncertain future two weeks from the Christmas break?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2017-11-28 12:24 [p.15668]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to again engage in debate on the budget implementation act. As we know, the budget implementation act comes out of the budget process. Every year, the government tables a budget, and that budget tells Canadians where the government wants to go, where it wants to land; the taxpayers' money it is going to spend; where it will be spent; and how it will be spent. The budget implementation act, of course, is effectively the master plan going forward. It is the government's plan to implement the budget.
I would like to focus my remarks on one of the most important drivers of economic prosperity in the country, which is trade. Members will have noticed that in the budget implementation act, the government proposes to spend $10.1 billion in trade and transportation projects. The Liberal government believes there is $10 billion worth of taxpayers' money that should be spent on promoting Canada's trade and transportation interests at home and around the world.
I believe Canadians have the right to ask whether the Liberal government can be trusted to actually negotiate trade agreements in Canada's best interests, and whether the government has the competence to get these agreements right. I am going to digress and talk about three different trade negotiations that are presently ongoing that should give Canadians great concern in terms of the ability of the Prime Minister to negotiate agreements that serve Canada's interests.
First is the softwood lumber agreement. As we know, back in 2006 the softwood lumber dispute had escalated to a point where there was tremendous fear within our softwood lumber industry that we were going to lose companies, opportunities to drive economic growth, and hundreds and hundreds of jobs across Canada because the government of the day, the Chrétien government, just could not resolve that dispute with the United States.
It was at that time that our Conservative government, under Stephen Harper, appointed David Emerson to be the trade minister. His number one responsibility was to negotiate an end to the softwood lumber dispute. Guess what? Mr. Emerson got the job done. He negotiated an agreement that served Canadian interests well, and returned to Canada billions and billions of dollars that the Americans had levied against our softwood lumber exports.
The agreement that we entered into with the United States, under the leadership of David Emerson and Stephen Harper, was a seven-year agreement. Seven years of peace in our woods. Again, it served Canadians well. When that seven-year period expired, there was a provision in the agreement for another two-year renewal. That required the consent of both the United States and Canada, and guess what, we had a great relationship with the American government and were able to persuade it that a two-year extension was in its interest and our interest, and so the agreement was renewed. Now we had a total of nine years of peace in the woods.
It just so happens that on the approximate date the new Liberal government was elected back in 2015, the standstill agreement, the softwood lumber agreement, expired. Canadian forestry companies were left faced impending duties, which have indeed now been imposed by the Americans.
We have had a new trade minister and new foreign affairs minister as of 2015, and they set to work to get this agreement resolved and put to bed. In fact, there was a meeting in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., where our Prime Minister and President Obama got together and said they had established a framework for resolving the softwood lumber dispute and that within 90 days they wanted get the framework in place and resolve it. Here we are two years later and there is no resolution to the softwood lumber dispute in sight. Whether it is incompetence or a failure to understand the softwood lumber agreement, we know that the Liberal government has failed on that front.
The second is the North American Free Trade Agreement. I know the media has been paying a lot of attention to the renegotiation of that agreement. That agreement is now subject to renegotiation because our Prime Minister, when asked by the Americans to renegotiate it, simply said he would gladly renegotiate it, and yet the issues that Donald Trump, the president of the United States, had were with Mexico, not Canada. The Prime Minister has made the fateful decision of aligning Canada's interests with Mexico's, when in fact those interests are not aligned at all.
Members may recall that the first comprehensive trade agreement in the world was actually between Canada and the United States, and Mexico was added in years later. Today, the United States and Canada have a perfectly balanced trade relationship. Canada exports as much to the United States as they do to Canada. Therefore, the president of the United States, if truth be known, does not have a big beef with Canada on trade. He certainly does with Mexico. To entwine our interests with those of Mexico, I believe, is a strategic mistake.
NAFTA negotiations are going nowhere. In fact, most pundits are looking at what has happened in the last few rounds, where the Americans have put demands on the table that are completely unacceptable to us as Canadians, somehow expecting us to surrender or cave in on these negotiations and give the United States everything it wants. Why do they get away with that? It is because we have a government in place that does not have the spine to say absolutely not. We have a government that embarks upon trade negotiations in a manner that does not serve Canada's interests.
The last trade negotiation I want to deal with is the trans-Pacific partnership. That negotiation commenced under the Conservative government. It was completed in Atlanta in November of 2015. Then the United States left the TPP, and now the remaining 11 partners are trying to negotiate a deal among themselves. One of those partners happens to be Japan, one of the largest economies in the world, which we would have a trade agreement with if the TPP actually comes into force.
What happened in Vietnam when the Prime Minister was at the APEC summit? All of the 11 parties to the TPP agreed that the basic essentials of that agreement were now in place and had gathered in a room, where they were going to make the announcement. Where was Canada? It was missing in action. The Prime Minister was nowhere to be seen, a national embarrassment on the international stage. This is what we get from the Liberal government. There is no understanding of what it means to build trusted relationships with some of our most trusted trade allies, like Australia, New Zealand, or Japan. Not to show up at a meeting when it was agreed ahead of time that there was a consensus on the basic elements of a trade agreement is unconscionable. That is not good trade negotiation.
Canadians have a right to ask whether the Liberal government can be trusted to negotiate trade agreements in Canada's best interests as an economic driver for prosperity in Canada? The resounding answer has to be no.
There are many Canadians across Canada who have heard that the Prime Minister now wants to run pell-mell to China to negotiate a trade agreement with that country. They are thinking that he is not getting any of the other deals done. He is juggling them and he cannot put them to bed. How will he ever negotiate an agreement with what he called the “basic dictatorship” that is China?
In summary, when it comes to promoting our economic prosperity, economic growth in Canada through trade, the government so far has been an absolute disaster.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2017-11-28 12:36 [p.15669]
Mr. Speaker, CETA is the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. It was an agreement that was negotiated under our former Conservative government. When the Liberals got their hands on that agreement, they made a big error in judgment. They agreed with the EU to reopen the agreement. Once they did that, there was a big problem when some of the European states wanted to renegotiate the agreement the previous Conservative government had negotiated.
Again, getting back to the spine, the backbone, when we are negotiating trade agreements, we have to be tough. The Liberal government is not tough. In fact, the member is wrong. When CETA was signed, it was the foreign affairs/trade minister who walked across the floor and embraced me for the work our Conservative government had done. That is a correction on the record. I think he would agree that this is actually what happened.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-11-06 12:03 [p.14979]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in the House today, 150 years since the very first sitting on November 6, 1867.
Before I move onto this, it is appropriate that I send our thoughts and prayers to friends, families, colleagues, and first responders who attended the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends, the families, and all first responders in that entire community. Just as they are grieving, we are grieving with them.
I thought about what I would say on the fall economic statement. Today, I will talk about our legacy because, at the end of the day, all of us will be remembered for something. In preparing for this speech, I stumbled across a couple of quotes that I thought I would enter into the records. The first is, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” That was by William Shakespeare. Over the last two year, we have seen the Prime Minister's actions, his direction and his choice of how he will move forward in his mandate or what he believes is his mandate.
I coached for a long time. I would always tell our kids, when I was coaching hockey, or baseball, or soccer or when I was working with youth groups, that they would go through this life once. At the end of the day, all they would have was their integrity, their legacy. I would ask them what they would like to leave behind, or what would be their brand as they moved through life. When I would worked in schools, I would talked to kids. I would ask them what a brand was. They would say that a brand was the swoosh on a Nike shoe, or it was the great big A&W sign or the bear for A&W. I would tell them that their brand was what people would say about them after they left the room. The kids talked about the the swoosh or all those other items. These are logos and marketing tools, but a brand is really what people say about us.
If we compare governments and prime ministers over the years, Prime Minister Harper took us from back row and second from the left to principled leadership and the front row. That will no doubt elicit jabs from the other side, but I want to offer this. We had a leader who was principled, who put his thoughts always on Canadians, how our policy would impact those who elected us, how we were seen on the world stage with respect to Canada as a collective as one nation, and I have the examples to back it up.
There are those of us who are more concerned about how we are perceived through the lens of others than how our actions are perceived and what our legacy will be. I will use a very recent example.
We have a young Prime Minister who has been in Vogue. He has been seen planking, photo bombing through Stanley Park in my beautiful province of British Columbia. He has been seen with his shirt off. Far be it for me to criticize.
We had a leader who was known for his principled leadership. Now there is a leader who is known for fancy socks or for showing up in question period in a Superman Halloween costume underneath his clothes. I was in the House that day. Many on this side were wondering if he had a new haircut. Somebody said that he was trying to be Waldo. I said no. I said that if we had learned anything over the last two years, it was that he believed he was Superman. I said he was trying to Clark Kent. The Prime Minister left part way through question period and returned quickly. Shortly thereafter in social media was the Prime Minister coming down the stairs showing the large Superman logo. He thought that was very novel and that it would be on the front page of newspapers.
At a time when fishers, farmers, and small business people are suffering, the Prime Minister is being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner. The finance minister is embroiled in an investigation, one that I do not know we ever have seen before. He seemingly has profited since being in office. He introduced legislation that would benefit the companies in which he had assets. We now know that there are more hidden businesses, numbered companies, in the Bahamas. The latest leak in the last 24 hours is that there are more questions. Canadians are hearing about questionable actions, which are leading to more questions.
I come back to our legacy. When I ran in the election, I had an opportunity to speak to a few members of Parliament, a few MLAs, and leaders within the community, who I hold in high esteem. They are really my mentors and I respect them. They put our constituents first. I think the world of Mayor Lyn Hall in my riding. During the course of the wildfires, he led his team with actions, not just words. He helped alongside myself and some of the MLAs as our community grew beyond our traditional population base. We welcomed 11,000 evacuees into our community and looked after them. We opened up our hearts and homes and looked after them.
With true leadership, MLA Mike Morris, MLA Shirley Bond, and MLA John Rustad did whatever they could to ensure that those in our communities were cared for. We do that every day, not just when there are emergencies. Why? Because we care more for how those in the community who elected us are doing than getting a picture on the front page of a newspaper, wearing new socks, walking a red carpet, or taking a selfie. We care about those who elect us. We care deeply about our communities. We care deeply about Canadians.
We have a government that campaigned on promises to Canadians, that said they were ready to lead. They said real change will be coming. Have we ever seen real change. The Liberals announced in their fall fiscal update that they have no plan to get back to a balanced budget. They have no plan, because it is not their money. They have no idea.
When I talk about my family finances, I do not refer to them as my fortune. In my riding of Cariboo—Prince George, there are very few people who can stand before a mike or a camera and talk about their family's fortune. They would probably say they are worried about their family's finances or how they are going to make ends meet. They would probably say they are worried about the fact that Canada does not have a softwood lumber agreement in place.
There is a further concern in terms of one of our number one industries within the province of British Columbia. This past weekend, Tolko, one of the largest mills in my riding and located in Williams Lake, had a massive fire. This added further insult to the fact that we lost 53-million cubic metres of fibre in the wildfires this past summer.
The Liberal government has dithered away any opportunity to get a softwood lumber agreement in place, and hundreds of people have been waiting to see their government stand up for them and fight. Now there is further uncertainty in our communities. There is further uncertainty in our communities because of what the government has done. The Liberals like to say that Canadians are far better off, but the reality is that hydro, gasoline, home heating, health and dental benefits, employee discounts, personal savings, life-saving therapies, and local businesses have all been attacked by them, regardless of what they say.
People at home are listening to this debate today. People in the gallery are listening. I can say that everyone gets talking points. Government members get talking points. When we ask the hard questions that Canadians want us to ask, time and time again the Liberals will stand up and give the same repetitive answer, which turns out to be a non-answer. Why is that? It is because they do not believe they have to answer to Canadians.
There is another quote that I want to mention, “All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.” What level are we talking about for the next generation? Under the leadership of Prime Minister Trudeau, what is the government going to leave to the next generation? The debt we are incurring today, the money we are talking about today, is not free money. It has to be paid back. Who is going to pay that money back? It will be my kids. It will be their kids. The next generation will have to pay it back. That will be the Liberal legacy.
I have stood in the House a number of times since the summer. I have talked about the wildfires and how our communities managed to rally together.
Speaking about legacies, there is a gentleman back home who is very sick. I believe he knew how sick he was during the summer. Regardless of how sick he was, he continued to fight the fires. He continued to lead teams all on his own. He is a local logging contractor whose name is Lee Todd. He is legendary in the Cariboo. However, he was sick, and I am not quite sure how sick, but he flew his personal helicopter to try to spot where the first fires were. He led other local contractors.
In the Cariboo, we do not take no for an answer and we do whatever we can to get things done. Regardless of whether it is prescribed, we just get it done. We do not ask for permission, many times we beg forgiveness afterward, but we get the job done. Nobody knows what tomorrow is going to bring but, for me, one of Lee's legacies is going to be that regardless of his own health and well-being, he continued to lead and do whatever he could. For example, he opened his shop and fed the firefighters and contractors who wanted to save our community.
I throw that in because, again, when we are talking about legacy and moving forward, we have to be reminded time and again that this House does not belong to us. It does not belong to the government or to those of us on the side. It belongs to Canadians. We were elected to be here and be their voices. We have talked about parliamentary privilege over the last year. That privilege is not so we can get to the front of line, ride in fancy vehicles, or attend fancy events. Parliamentary privilege is there to protect the rights of Canadians. This has been forgotten.
We have a Prime Minister and a House leader who wanted to change the standing rules of the House because they thought it would modernize them. They have invoked closure on debate, time allocation, time and again. I know what is going to come from the other side. They are going to start pointing fingers and saying that when those guys were in power this is what they did. Well, I can only speak about my experience. I am a new member of Parliament, as people know. I am fortunate that the good people of Cariboo—Prince George elected me. I have lived every day of being elected with the mindset of asking what my legacy is, because I may only get the chance to be elected once. We do not know how long this opportunity is going to last. Whatever we do, we should try to impact and change as many lives as we can.
Hopefully, people see that they have a fighter and I am fortunate enough to be elected in the next election. Whether it is my bill, Bill C-211, that calls on the government to develop a national framework with respect to post-traumatic stress disorder; our work in talking about the impacts of impaired driving on families, which loss never heals regardless of time; working with my colleagues on this side of the House to hold the government accountable and fight for Canadians; working with colleagues across the way on team Canada approaches, and going to the U.S. to sit side by side with them and presenting team Canada, not being partisan, but team Canada; or whether it is through parliamentary trips, we always have to be mindful of what our legacy is.
I know my time is very short. I want to leave everyone with this last quote, and I have one question after that. John Diefenbaker said, “Freedom is the right to be wrong, [freedom is] not the right to do wrong.” I think that is so important. I am going to leave my colleagues with this. Before the partisan jabs come out, I want to ask everyone in the House what they want their legacy to be and what they want to be remembered for. Is it standing up for someone who is hiding assets and making it harder for Canadians? Fight, fight for Canadians.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-10-19 11:33 [p.14261]
Madam Speaker, our hon. colleague is from a forestry-dependant community, as I am, as a British Columbia member of Parliament.
Over the tenure of our previous government, we put an end to one of the longest and most costly trade disputes between our country and the United States. That was in 2006, and we did it within the first three months of our mandate. It took longer than we would have liked, but we managed to get that deal done. That provided 10 years of certainty for our forestry industry, which had a lot of uncertainty previously.
We also negotiated a grace period that allowed the two countries to figure out what was working and was not working and then come to some form of agreement. We had some great discussions leading up to 2015. We indeed set whatever government would be coming into power in good stead to push it across the finish line, as we did with CETA.
We also invested in green technology. We spent hundreds of millions of dollars on green technology to innovate and to make our forestry sector a leading technology producer.
I want to ask our hon. colleague this. Where does he see that we have failed the forestry industry?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-10-19 11:38 [p.14262]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his kind words regarding my riding. It is indeed devastating. As we do in Cariboo, we will prevail and will come back stronger than ever.
I believe our hon. colleague was part of an emergency meeting that took place with the natural resources committee back in August 2016, where I put forth an emergency motion calling on the government to immediately convene a round table of provincial ministers, our own minister, and the industry to come up with some form of agreement or strategy moving forward, because we were within mere days of the deadline. At that time, we were told by the Liberal members that this was seen as a complete waste of time and money.
Can the member offer comments on that?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-10-19 11:40 [p.14262]
Madam Speaker, it is indeed an honour to rise to speak to something that, as many in the House know, I am deeply passionate about. The forestry sector has played a vital role in Canada's history and is leading the way toward a bright future. It is clean, it is green, and it is growing. Trees provide jobs, sustain our economy, and truly help define our culture. After all, where would Canada be without hockey sticks? I love that point. It was sent to me by a friend who is in the forestry industry, which has been hard hit and has felt a little neglected over the last while. It was a forest leader in my province of British Columbia.
These are indeed troubling times we see moving forward and indeed have faced over the last two years.
In the last two years, I think I was the first person to bring up softwood in this Parliament. I am deeply passionate about it. I am probably one of only a few members of Parliament who can honestly say that I know what it is like to get up at two o'clock or so in the morning and then drive hundreds of kilometres to the block. I ran a skidder for a while as well as bucked. I ran a chainsaw. I know exactly what it is like to have sawdust in my hair—I know that I do not have hair, but at one time I did—and to have chain oil underneath my fingernails and on my hands.
Forestry truly is the lifeblood of our economy in British Columbia.
I want to apologize. The first time softwood was mentioned in this House I attributed to me. I want to be on the record saying that I was wrong. I erred. It was not me. It was my colleague from Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola who raised it on December 7, 2015, just an hour or minutes before I gave my maiden speech and mentioned it as well. I was, however, the second MP to mention softwood, the next day, when I got up in questions during the debate on the Speech from the Throne. It was not mentioned in the Speech from the Throne. As a matter of fact, it has been missed completely by the current government from day one. The Speech from the Throne failed to mention the importance of softwood and our Canadian forestry workers. The first time it was actually mentioned by a Liberal member of Parliament was on January 29, 2016. I asked a question, and it was the Liberal member of Parliament for LaSalle—Émard—Verdun who said that the government was consulting. I asked where we were in terms of the softwood lumber agreement and that it meant jobs, and well-paying jobs, in communities right across Canada.
This has been a priority for us from day one. Indeed, our previous Conservative government invested a lot of time and effort. I mentioned earlier, and I have said it before, that the Conservative government put an end to one of the longest and most costly trade disputes between Canada and the U.S., our number-one trading partner. We put to bed this long-standing trade dispute in 2006. We did it within three months of our mandate.
There is much to be said about that trade dispute. In doing research for this presentation, something interesting I found was that the trade dispute was very costly. It cost our Canadian producers dearly. It was found to be unfair and unjust. The penalties that were assessed were unfair and unjust. Do members know who really benefited from that? There is some good that came out of that trade dispute. When signing the 2006 Canada–U.S. agreement, we did more than bring some peace to a perennially problematic trade file.
What it did was guarantee that $500 million of the penalties and duties levied against the Canadian lumber industry would not go to the American industry. It went to American charities, and one of them was Habitat for Humanity. The organization has built over 19,000 homes since that time, with 70,000 people in the U.S. benefiting from the $500 million that went to Habitat for Humanity due to the Conservative Party's negotiations to make sure that the money did not go only to the American side, which was unfair. Again today, the U.S. is penalizing our forestry producers, families who depend on forestry for their livelihoods, as well as U.S. consumers. It is unbelievable that the Americans are so nearsighted that they are holding their own consumer market hostage. Why? What product makes up a good portion of all the homebuilding and new housing market in the United States?
An hon. member: Softwood.
Mr. Todd Doherty: Softwood, and Canadian softwood. Why is that? It is because we have the best product in the world right here. Not only that, our industry is leading the way in green technology. It is the leading the way in harvesting methods and principles. Despite what we hear, which I will get into, we are being continually attacked by outside interests that have a sole purpose, and that is to shut down the Canadian industry. Whether it is the forest industry, the fishing and marine industry, the tanker industry, or the oil sands, outside interests are intent on one thing: shutting down the industry in Canada.
I got a little off topic, but I will go back to one of the very early throne speeches that the Prime Minister addressed to Canada and the world. He said that under this government, Canada will be known more for its resourcefulness than its natural resources. That rings true to this point. Projects are not being approved. Definitely energy east has gone by the wayside. Where is softwood lumber? That is why we are debating this today. We are seeing more and more uncertainty.
The government's role always is to create an environment in which industry and organizations want to invest to create jobs. At this point, two years into the Liberals' mandate, all they have done is create more uncertainty. A recent article stated that Canada is no longer one of the most economically stable environments or countries in the world because the government continues to cause uncertainty through inconsistent policy, inconsistent measures, and, indeed, questionable actions.
British Columbia is the largest producer of softwood lumber in North America, with $33 billion in output and $12.9 billion in GDP for the province. In 2016, there were, indirectly and directly, over 140,000 jobs tied to the forest industry. There was a total labour income of $8.6 billion. There are over 140 communities in the province of British Columbia that are forest-dependent. My riding of Cariboo—Prince George is one of them.
This past summer, B.C. faced one of the most unprecedented fire seasons. Over 53 million cubic metres of fibre have been scorched. To put that into context, that is the equivalent of one year's annual allowable cut for the province of British Columbia and 10 years' annual allowable cut for my riding of Cariboo—Prince George. It remains to be seen how much of that is still marketable. There is a very small time frame for forest producers to get in to see whether there is any salvageable or marketable wood or fibre.
We call on our provincial NDP government to allow access to industry, to get in to find out what is going on. We are calling on it again today to make sure that this is taking place. The earlier we can get in and figure out the status of our fibre, the better we can strategize and plan as we move forward.
The B.C. forest sector is the world leader in sustainable forest management with less than 1% of our provincial forests harvested. For every tree taken, three are replanted. That is something that many people never mention, but we can always do better. Our previous government invested in that. We spent hundreds of millions of dollars in green technology allowing us to reforest. If we replant we have a root structure along a bank that means rivers, lakes, and streams are going to be secure as well. We are going to need that more than ever before with the 53 million cubic metres of fibre that has been scorched. Our rivers, lakes, and streams have lost that critical root structure, so we call on the federal government to assist our provincial government to make sure that takes place.
I also want to talk about the impact to Canada. The Minister of Natural Resources talked about the importance to Canada. He has been speaking to the file for awhile and he talked about the value to Canada, $22 billion in GDP. We employ over 200,000 first nations and people right across Canada, with 9,500 jobs in indigenous communities. I would hazard that the actual indirect numbers are well beyond 200,000 and forest-dependent communities are in the hundreds right across Canada.
We see that the government has dithered away a good amount of time on the softwood lumber issue. It was not mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, the very first message to Canadians about what the Liberals were going to do during their mandate. We heard earlier that the first time it was mentioned by a Liberal member of Parliament was January 2016 on a question from a Conservative.
In the early part of 2016, we heard there was a new-found relationship, that the Prime Minister and the outgoing president were BFFs and they were going to get this deal done. As a matter of fact, one of the ministers said that the Prime Minister was absolutely giddy. That was the term that she used in one of her interviews. There was a bromance going on and they were going to hammer through all the challenges.
We pressed from this side and we later heard that within 100 days there would be some form of agreement. I believe the president at the time stood in the House and said “we will come up with a solution to this irritant.” I took offence to the fact that he called it an irritant. This irritant employs my family, my wife's family, so many families in my riding and as we have heard, many families across Canada. It is not an irritant, Mr. President, it is a way of life. It is one of our number one industries. It is the cornerstone of our national economy and it is shameful when a Prime Minister sits there and smiles and calls it a bromance. When he went to a state dinner, he left the Minister of Natural Resources at home. He is more focused on the red carpet and taking selfies than negotiating a softwood lumber agreement.
I am getting a little frustrated because people in my riding, family members, friends, and neighbours have been waiting for good news. Time and again, it is us sitting here pounding away and what do we get? Platitudes or a hand on the heart.
We are seized with this issue. Somebody must be kidding me. Two years.
I have been on those trips to Washington. I have heard comments from folks on the other side, who are not Conservative friendly. They say the Liberals have mismanaged this file from the beginning of their mandate. They limped into the discussions. They did not negotiate from a position of strength, and that brings me to my next point.
Throughout this tenure, whether it is my file on fisheries, oceans and Canadian Coast Guard, whether it is electoral reform, whether it is forestry, foreign-funded groups have taken credit for the defeat of the Conservative Party in the 2015 election. The senior policy adviser to the Prime Minister at one point was the president and CEO of one of those groups. Some of the chiefs of staff and those who advise ministers on our files, files that are key to our national economy, have roots based in these groups. Whether it is ForestEthics, Greenpeace, Tides Canada, or Tides Foundation, they all have one thing in mind but they like to say that it is all about making things greener or it is for the good of the land.
I will bring the House right back to something else that happened in my community, and I am speaking of the Mount Polley mine disaster. There are no two ways about it, it was a disaster but the company and our community, those that mattered, those that are dependent upon the lakes and streams and the environment and the mine for the economic viability of our region, all banded together and managed to get things done, They all agreed that they never want to see this happen again.
When we did an ID check at the front gate it was interesting to note who was protesting. Busloads of people were sent to protest and they were not from Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George, Vanderhoof, or Cariboo region. These people, these paid activists, came from other countries, they came from south of the border, and they came from larger communities.
It does not surprise me that our NDP colleagues are not supporting this motion. During the 2015 election these groups openly targeted those Conservative ridings that were seen as vulnerable, and my riding was one of them. I could show the House the documents. Who did those groups support? They supported NDP candidates and other candidates who were not Conservative in order to defeat Harper, to defeat the Conservatives.
It is interesting to note that the NDP members, with whom we have banded together so many times in recent weeks to point our fingers at members across the way for their failures, will not stand up with us in support of our forestry workers. That is shameful.
Our policy should always be developed in the best interests of Canadians and without the influence of foreign groups. With that, I am going to rest.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-10-19 12:02 [p.14264]
Mr. Speaker, I categorically reject some of the things my hon. colleague has said.
The hon. minister stood in the House and talked about China, how it got a ton of new things, and that the government had introduced Canada's wood to China. We have been in China for over a decade. I was there. I helped lead some of the trade missions, Canada's wood first. Canada did an incredible job prior to the Liberal government. Again, the Liberals can try to take credit for that, but we will not let them.
I agree that we should get a deal done, but what are the Liberals waiting for? They have had two years. I will bring the member back to what I said on the newfound romance and friendship with the outgoing President Obama. There was going to be a 100-day solution to that irritant, an irritant to which I so angrily took offence.
The Liberals have let other groups influence decisions along the way. They have dithered away. I am not pointing a finger at who has mismanaged it. It has been the collective of the government's ministers. From day one, this has not been a priority. Now they are scrambling. They are behind the eight ball, despite our warnings time and again.
In my maiden speech in the House on December 7, I brought up the softwood. We brought up forestry and the importance of it. The government has dithered away. It has sat two years since being elected and we have yet to see a softwood lumber agreement. In fact, all we have seen is more and more uncertainty.
The Liberals talk about their care package. They would not need a care package if they had managed to get the deal done, and get the job done. They said they had a plan when they came into power. All we have seen is that they do not have a plan, and they have failed Canadians.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-10-19 12:06 [p.14265]
Mr. Speaker, again, from the earliest point of raising this issue, our Conservative team and myself, as vice-chair of softwood, have offered our support.
This is a non-partisan issue. Where we are getting partisan is on the failure to actually get a job done. When we are sitting before our counterparts, the U.S. side, this is not a partisan issue; this is a Canadian issue.
I have been waiting for an invite, but it is not my file. Clearly I am passionate about this. I am the vice-chair. I wait for the invite to go to speak passionately about the impact in my riding, but also about the impact on other countries. I can speak first hand about the challenges we face. I can also speak first hand about the opportunities we have.
I have yet to see an invite. I just came back from a trip with the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. I welcome the opportunity to travel with the Minister of International Trade. Hopefully, I get that invite in my mailbox shortly, and the whip approves it.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-10-19 12:35 [p.14269]
Mr. Speaker, I thank our hon. colleague for his impassioned speech. I hope it came from the heart and was not written for him, as we are hearing the same talking points over and over again.
About half an hour ago I stood up and was a bit animated. As members can imagine, I am passionate about softwood lumber because it impacts thousands of families in my riding, and we are facing troubling times. The Liberals like to stand up and say they are fighting passionately for these families right across Canada, yet what we seen is a wasted opportunity. They point fingers at the previous Conservative government, rather than rolling up their sleeves and taking responsibility for a file they have now had for two years. All they have done is to point fingers and say, “They should have done this”, and have offered nothing but excuses.
Late last year we got wind of a deal on the table. What was wrong with that deal and why did the government not pursue it, because if it had, it would not now have had to provide the aid package it is boasting of and would have been able to put some certainty into an industry that is facing uncertain times. Late last year there was a deal on the table. Why did the government not take that deal?
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I want to speak today about the softwood lumber industry, the motion, and share some concerns. I come from a northern British Columbia riding. Forestry is big in Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies. Just two weeks ago, I visited Lakeland Mills in Prince George to see how it was doing. It was affected by the mill fire and loss of life. It has recovered well and selling its lumber, thankfully, with the temporary lifting of the tariffs until, I guess, the U.S. decides to re-establish them in November.
I made a lot of trips to the U.S. to understand its view on the softwood lumber industry. I got to know Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior, and a week into the Trump administration's mandate, in February of this year, I understood where they were going. They are developing a lot of their public timber and fibre to be much more competitive with Canada's. The concern is that Canada supplies a lot of their timber and lumber.
When talking about the softwood lumber agreement, the reason I bring up the U.S. is that 69% of our softwood goes to the U.S., which is a big deal. Meanwhile, the U.S. administration to the south of us is sharpening its pencils and doing its very best and whatever it takes to develop its industry. We cannot blame it for that. It is defending its country, just as we defend ours. The government seems to be making a lacklustre effort to negotiate a softwood lumber agreement. It was the former Conservative government that actually negotiated and extended the last softwood lumber agreement. Conservatives think it was a successful agreement, with two streams to it. When I go to the U.S. and talk to the Secretary of the Interior, I ask why we cannot sign a similar agreement to the one that worked for everyone before and I argue that the U.S. needs our lumber, etc.
I will go back to why we are debating this today in the House. We have a government that does not seem to be interested in the softwood file. It is busy with NAFTA, which is a big part of what it is dealing with right now, but on softwood lumber, I would say as a person from the province of British Columbia, that it is equally as large in terms of exports. It is a massive part of our industry base, providing jobs and employing British Columbians and Canadians in the province and my riding. That is why Conservatives are deeply concerned.
When the Liberal government was elected in 2015, it seemed that some positive things were going to come from the relationship between the Liberal government and the then Obama administration. On softwood lumber, the Prime Minister and the president promised to have an agreement within 100 days. When those two key figures make a promise like that, there should be no reason why they could not come together. Ideologically, there were not many differences between the two administrations. There was a lot of hoopla, fanfare, and expense for the president to come to Ottawa. We always welcome heads of states from other countries in this place, in this room where we sit today. With all of the fanfare, we hoped that a book would be opened and the softwood lumber agreement would be signed.
Days went by, the president spoke in this place, and then left, with no agreement being reached. Members with softwood in their ridings knew it was a huge missed opportunity. It sent signals to forestry workers in B.C., Quebec, and across Canada that the government did not view softwood as that important an issue. Selfies, pictures with the president, and dinners with fancy suits and dresses were important, but no signal was sent by the Prime Minister and the president in reaching a softwood lumber agreement, which could have been done easily. That makes us question if the government understands how significant this industry is to the entire country. It sent a signal that really did not exist.
I understand that it is difficult to conclude a softwood lumber agreement, but when we hear a promise by a prime minister and a president that they can reach one within 100 days, we would expect them to have it all sorted out. They had three months to get it done. They already had a pre-existing agreement that had worked for both countries. It would have been very simple to bring that back to the table and sign off on it so we could continue.
Right now, we are caught in a dispute that is just going to get worse. With our American neighbours elbowing us out for their own industry to grow, it is likely not going to get better.
We cannot cry over spilled milk, but there was a whole bunch of spilled milk that day when the agreement was not signed and fulfilled. It left a promise unfulfilled by both individuals.
Concerning a lot of our communities, we wonder about our government's resource development philosophy. We see projects in B.C., even pipelines, being over-regulated to the point that companies are pulling out of the province of B.C. The Energy east project has been halted, with the company saying there are too many regulations and too many risk factors to proceed with that particular investment.
We look back at other industries like agriculture and forestry that have chugged along year after year over the centuries in Canada, and we look to rely on those even more for stability in our economy. It is troubling that the government appears not to understand how significant that is. It has really failed our forestry industry and workers.
As politicians we are often guilty of talking about the economy, numbers, GDP, exports, and import tariffs, and all of that kind of terminology, but it really comes down to food on tables, roofs over heads, and sustaining families where they want to live.
I was born and raised in the Peace region. We lived out here in Ottawa when my kids were small. We are happy to be back in Fort St. John and the north Peace area of the province of British Columbia. People ask why we would want to go back when we lived in such a nice city, in Ottawa. It is because it is home. A lot the forestry workers simply want a nice place to live, which we have in beautiful northern British Columbia.
Robson Valley is another place where there is a lot of forestry, including in Valemount, McBride, Prince George, and all the way up the Rocky Mountains. They all really rely on the forest industry. It is not a number they rely on in the forest industry; it is a person, a family, and other industries. There are subsets of those industries, employing heavy-duty mechanics and others. I have often said that a person at Tim Hortons selling coffee to people in the morning is likely selling it to someone who works at a mill and makes lumber. Likewise, someone who works on trucks, like my son, a heavy-duty mechanic, likely works for a company in forestry. He is a first-year apprentice. He works on trucks and heavy equipment that go right out into the forest. That is how he makes his living. It has afforded him a nice car and lifestyle.
I want to get back to the government needing to care about that person on the ground. We are coming up to Christmas. We will be celebrating a great season with our families and we want to make sure that those jobs and lifestyles are sustained.
I hope that the government considers how important the softwood lumber agreement is to British Columbia, Quebec, and Canada. I hope it will do a better job than it did in the past. We saw a lost opportunity, and I hope the relevant ministers and the Prime Minister grasp how important the agreement is and how much it means to Canadians. I hope they will think about the people who are attached to these forestry jobs and how they would be affected by a signed softwood lumber agreement.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, that is a great question. The industry views risk as a calculation. If a company's survival is at risk, that company will go somewhere else where it will survive and flourish. We have seen a lot of our Canadian forestry companies go south. Some of our older companies that used to be located predominately in Canada now have more than 50% of their mills in the U.S.
When we talk about over-regulation, these groups are going to make a decision just like we saw with Pacific NorthWest LNG, and so on. They look at the risk and decide to move out of Canada.
I would like to highlight something the member said: once we lose these companies it is going to be difficult to get them back.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2017-06-12 16:35 [p.12482]
Mr. Speaker, I want to cast the member's mind back, perhaps take a trip down memory lane with me, and remember when the bromance was in full effect. It was the Prime Minister and President Obama, and it was all cocktails and canapés and state dinners here and there. However, when they went for their fancy state dinners to Washington, they left behind the Minister of Natural Resources, who is responsible for softwood lumber.
Can the member talk about the priorities of the government and why, during a time when it supposedly was the closest relationship in Canadian and U.S. history, it failed to get the job done?
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2017-06-12 16:37 [p.12482]
Mr. Speaker, as always, it is a pleasure to stand on behalf of the constituents of Chilliwack—Hope to speak in the House. Today we are debating the following motion:
That the House recognize that the government has mismanaged the economy in a way that is damaging Canadian industries and diminishing Canadians’ economic stability by:
(a) failing to negotiate a deal on softwood lumber and instead offering a compensation package rather than creating sustainable jobs for Canadian forestry workers;
(b) attempting to phase out Canada’s energy sector by implementing a job killing carbon tax, adding additional taxes to oil and gas companies, removing incentives for small firms to make new energy discoveries and neglecting the current Alberta jobs crisis; and
(c) refusing to extend the current rail service agreements for farmers in Western Canada which will expire on August 1, 2017, which will result in transportation backlogs that will cost farmers billions of dollars in lost revenue.
I want to concentrate on the first two sections of the motion during my remarks. I know that members, like the members for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, Brandon—Souris, and others, have done an excellent job of talking about how the government is failing western Canadian farmers. That is certainly part of the Liberal legacy that continues whenever Liberals are in government.
I want to talk about the failure to negotiate a softwood lumber agreement. This is truly something that the Liberals have over-promised and under-delivered on. They promised that they would have a deal done. The Conservatives did not get it done, and Liberals were saying just watch us. I have several quotes, all from CBC News. On March 12, the then minister of international trade heralded a real breakthrough on softwood lumber negotiations, and we were promised that within 100 days, there would be the structure of a deal. I remember being in the House and hearing the thunderous applause, when members were still allowed to applaud, by the Liberal MPs heralding this 100-day breakthrough. Boy, were they ever going to get it done. Of course, that deadline came and went. “No softwood lumber deal, as 'challenging but productive' talks drag on” was the headline after that deadline came and went. However, the key features were now set, and we were told we should just wait, because they were going to sign a good deal for Canada. That is what we were promised.
In the interim, as I mentioned in my question, there was back-patting and photographs like we would not believe. It was the photogenic President Obama and the photogenic Prime Minister of Canada exploring their relationship, strengthening their personal ties. In fact, speaking of personal ties, when there was a state dinner in Washington, it was the personal ties of the Prime Minister of Canada that took priority over forestry workers. It was the in-laws of the Prime Minister of Canada who got a seat at that table, while the Minister of Natural Resources had to cool his heels at home. There was room for family, and there was also room for Liberal bagmen. The chief fundraisers of the Liberal Party got a seat at the table, but the Minister of Natural Resources did not. Why would he want to go to Washington? There was not much going on. There was no Keystone XL and no softwood lumber deal to negotiate. He was nowhere to be found because no one could get him a seat at the table. There were just too many favours to call in and too many photos to be taken with the two beautiful leaders of the two beautiful countries.
We have seen just today that Canada and the U.S. remain quite far apart on softwood lumber, and it is amazing how the reality has set in. To paraphrase the former Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff: They didn't get it done. They haven't gotten it done. They promised they would, and they failed Canadian forest workers.
Liberals have come up with a $900-million aid package. We, in the official opposition, will be watching very closely to ensure it goes to those who have been impacted by the failure of the Liberals to get a deal done, that it goes to the workers who need it most urgently, those who will be laid off as a result of the punitive countervailing duties that are coming up. Again, this is something the Liberals promised they would get done. They promised Canadians this would be done, and they have failed to deliver. That is one part of this motion today. They did not get the deal done and they put jobs at risk. As a result, we have already seen mill closures and are expecting more in the days ahead.
The second part of the motion that I want to address is on the issue of competitiveness for our energy sector. Quite frankly, I am not concerned about the bottom line of companies like Royal Dutch Shell or Chevron or Cenovus or CNRL. I am concerned about the workers, the men and women who earn their paycheques every day and put food on their tables, those middle-class employees of these companies. That is whom we in the official opposition are concerned about, and that is why we have been so concerned about the lack of foresight by the government in terms of our competitiveness, which means that our jobs are put at risk.
The Prime Minister let slip his true feelings on the energy sector when he was on his apology tour after his Christmas vacation on billionaire island, where he went coast to almost coast. He did not go to British Columbia of course. He did not want to have to talk about pipelines there. When he was in Peterborough, Ontario, he said quite clearly that we need to “phase out” the oil sands. He claimed several days later, when he was in Alberta this time, that he misspoke, but we see from action after action of the current government that he was actually just revealing the truth. He let slip the truth. He did not misspeak, because time after time, action after action, the Liberals are punishing the energy sector.
In the budget, as is referenced in the motion, the Liberals cut the Canadian exploration expense, which is a tax incentive that allows for exploration that encourages companies to find that next well that would provide those next sets of jobs for energy workers, that would put food on the tables of people across the country, not just in the prairie provinces. While our biggest competitor, which used to be our biggest customer but is now our biggest competitor, the United States is busy cutting red tape, cutting taxes, and making it easier for energy companies to hire workers, the current government is putting up roadblocks.
We talked about the national tax on carbon that the Liberals are implementing, that they are forcing the provinces to implement. That will have a negative impact on our competitiveness. Taking away the incentives for new exploration will have a negative impact on our competitiveness and the ability for Canadian workers to keep doing the jobs that they have always done.
We have quotes here from people like Jack Mintz at the school of public policy at the University of Calgary. He said:
I think this competitiveness issue is a huge issue for Canada coming down the road and I am surprised [the government] took actions right now on this when they will be needing to deal with a much bigger set of changes next year.
The U.S. is going in a completely different direction on carbon and major U.S. tax reform. That’s in addition to the measures being taken on carbon in Alberta. You start adding it all up and it’s not a healthy climate. Businesses are taking their money elsewhere.
That is what we have seen. We have seen businesses walking with their money. We have seen some of the same businesses who lined up behind Rachel Notley and talked about how excellent it was that there would be a new carbon tax on Albertans and how that was going to create all kinds of social licence, weeks later say, “Good luck with that. We're going to the United States. We're going to Kazakhstan. We're going to jurisdictions that do not have a punitive carbon tax.” Therefore, what is happening is that there is not less carbon being emitted. There is just less carbon being emitted in Canada. If we are in this worldwide fight against climate change, that does not do anything except kill jobs in Canada.
On softwood lumber the Liberals did not get it done, and on the energy sector what they are doing is making things even worse. They need to change course or even more Canadian workers are going to lose their jobs.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Battle River—Crowfoot.
I would like to speak to the motion of my colleague for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, and I will highlight three key things on forestry.
The first part of the motion reads:
That the House recognize that the government has mismanaged the economy in a way that is damaging Canadian industries and diminishing Canadians’ economic stability by: (a) failing to negotiate a deal on softwood lumber...forestry workers;
This is a section of the larger motion the member has brought forward. However, it is a big deal to people in British Columbia and across the country for that matter. However, I will speak to how it affects people of Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies.
There was promise by the Prime Minister and President Obama that this deal would be reached within the first 100 days of the government's regime. I think we can all agree that there are some things other parties do that we like and want to see go through. It is not just about winning the political game; it is about what is good for our constituents. Therefore, we were hopeful that this 100-day agreement would come to fruition.
There was a big announcement that President Obama was going to come to Ottawa to speak, and he did. Regardless of whatever party the president represents, it is an honour to be in this place to hear heads of state speak. However, usually a visit from a head of state, especially one that promised a deal on softwood lumber, would follow with the signing of an agreement. We had hoped for that, and it would have worked out on timing. I think it was 90-plus days when the former president came to speak to us.
We heard the speech in Parliament, and I am sure many Canadians watched it on TV, and we waited. We thought maybe that night an agreement would be signed and we would hear an announcement the next morning that the Prime Minister and President Obama had come to an agreement. However, we were disappointed when President Obama left Ottawa without any documents signed. We knew then that we were in trouble. That was the window of opportunity for Canadians and Americans to get the agreement signed and done.
People say that it is a complicated thing to sign a softwood lumber agreement. I have the agreement that our previous government crafted. Anybody go to the web, under treaty-accord.gc.ca, and find the most recent softwood lumber agreement. All we were looking for was to have that reinstated. We negotiated this agreement before. It was fair to both countries. We were trading softwood lumber across our borders quite well with that agreement.
A group of us went to Washington in February. I wanted to meet with some of the members of the transition team for the new President. This was about a week after his inauguration. I met with about 10 members of the transition team and other members of the natural resource committee. We asked what the intent of the current presidency was on signing this agreement. We wanted to see where they stood on it. The message I received was quite clear. The new President was looking to expand the lumber manufacturing in the U.S. He wanted to develop his own industry and expand it even further. The new administration wanted to look at public land timber as opposed to private land timber, which would greatly expand timber and lumber manufacturing in the U.S.
What was clear to me was that we had a new regime in the U.S. that wanted to dramatically develop its resources, dramatically increase forestry production. What was also clear to me was that our window had passed. The window we had with what Obama and the current Prime Minister promised would have been the perfect opportunity, but alas, it did not happen.
I want to respond in the latter part of my speech to some of the comments that we hear, such as, “Conservatives didn't get it done under their watch.” Actually, we did get it done. We got it done, originally, in 2006, and we got an extension in 2012, up until a few months ago. They say we did not get it done, yet we actually have an agreement and we have an extension to that agreement that carried us from 2006 for 10 years and beyond.
To say that we, as Conservatives, did not get it done is, to me, laughable. We are the only ones who have produced a softwood lumber agreement in my recent memory. I would challenge the Liberals across the way to say otherwise. The fact of the matter is that former MP David Emerson was key in the deal, key in negotiating the softwood lumber agreement. That was under a Conservative watch, not under a Liberal watch, just to clarify that. If the Liberals want to check the record, they are more than free to do that. There is only one signatory at the bottom of the softwood lumber agreement, in 2006, and it is, again, the man I just mentioned, whose name is David Emerson. Certainly, a lot of people's efforts make an agreement. There are a lot of people who are needed to make that happen; for example, a lot of clerks are involved in writing it. However, it was still under a Conservative government that it happened.
I guess the hope was that since we had already done the legwork for the current government and the past president, all that really needed to be done was for it to be resubmitted and re-ratified and we would have another softwood lumber agreement until however long that agreement would be held, maybe six years, maybe more.
This is what is really problematic for me. I do not think the other side really understands how important that window was. We had, apparently, two willing parties to sign the agreement. The will was in the room and the will appeared to be strong enough. We saw the announcements and the Americans saw the announcements that President Obama was willing to do it and our Prime Minister was more than willing to do it. They had their meetings and they seemed to get along quite well. We were not upset about that. We were, frankly, happy they were going to get along, and hopefully get this agreement done, but then we saw that window float by and just disappear. To open that door again is going to be very difficult.
However, I think there is an answer. I think there is a way that we can get this done. Again, the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman has put forward this motion to challenge the government to develop its agreement. I think it is possible. What I think we need to understand, and what the government especially needs to understand, is that the current president of the United States, President Trump, is doing what he is doing for his country. He is trying to make his industry as competitive as possible in the market, to get as much of that market as possible. We cannot fault him for that.
The way we respond to that is not by putting in a carbon tax to make costs go higher for our industry. I know some may think that is the answer, but it absolutely is not. We need to get more competitive. We need to sharpen our pencils. We need to meet the new president on the same field as he is on. Where he is becoming more competitive, we need to become more competitive to compete with the new reality in the U.S.
There is an answer to this issue. I would suggest we look back at when former prime minister Harper was here. We had a competitive capital tax regime for corporate tax rates. We had a competitive regime for small business tax rates, etc. I think the present government needs to look a few pages back to see why we were so strong in the G7, why we were so strong in the world economy when, really, everybody else was failing.
Why was our economy strong? It was because it was competitive. I think we need to understand how to get back there. I look back to our government in 2011, and a bit further back, as the way we can be successful in the new reality that is before us in Canada.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, it is actually funny that he wonders what planet we are on. Our government got a softwood lumber agreement and got an extension. I would challenge the hon. member. This is coming from a government that has zero softwood lumber agreements under its belt but just keeps throwing the mud back at us. We are not in government anymore to make that decision. I think the challenge is for the member across the way. The Liberals need to develop their own softwood lumber agreement. If they are so good at making softwood lumber agreements, let us see it. Let us see them pull it off.
The government had the opportunity with a willing Prime Minister and a willing president to get a softwood lumber agreement. What did we get? Absolutely nothing. Until the Liberals can prove they can pull off a softwood lumber agreement, they should think twice about saying that about our former government.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, that is actually a great question. We were working on it in 2006 and got it done. We had it extended in 2012. It is good to have an extension. Why create a new softwood lumber agreement if we can extend it?
There was a little thing called an election that got in the way of 2015. While we were working on a new agreement, trying to work out the details, the election got in the way. Had we got back, it is all speculative what we would have been able to do, but we did it before and we know we could do it again. Now the challenge is up to the government across the way to follow through on its promise of 100 days. The 100 days have gone and are behind us. The challenge is for the government to pull it off.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Battle River—Crowfoot for bringing that up, because this is how good an agreement that was. It held up in the higher court and we actually won those battles. The Americans came back and tried to get us for $5 billion, and we won the case and we got the money back.
The proof is in the pudding that we could pull off a great softwood lumber agreement. It held up in the higher courts of the land and in international courts for that matter. Let me remind the Liberals across the way that we got that done under a Conservative government. The challenge before the Liberals now is to get their own softwood lumber agreement that is so strong it will hold up in those higher courts. The challenge is out there. I honestly hope they pull it off.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' dithering on the softwood file just keeps getting worse. We learned this week that Obama's visit, expected to result in the signing of the softwood lumber agreement, cost Canadians $4.8 million, with nothing to show for it, while hundreds of thousands of good-paying Canadian jobs are being lost and are at risk. Now we find out that lumber remanufacturers are paying twice as much as regular mills.
Why is the Prime Minister refusing to protect the softwood lumber industry, specifically our remanufacturers?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-06-01 14:56 [p.11849]
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the Liberals did not take it seriously in 2015. They did not get the job done with Obama in 2016, and they are mailing it in right now in 2017. Now we are seeing thousands and thousands of jobs right across Canada being lost.
The government's aid package for the softwood industry is too little, too late for forestry workers and their families. Mills are already closing down across the country and this money will not bring those jobs back. Canadian forestry workers deserve stability and predictability from their government.
What does the Minister of Natural Resources have to say to those workers who want jobs, not EI?
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2017-05-04 12:00 [p.10751]
The simple answer, Mr. Speaker, is no. We Canadians believe in fair competition. We believe in free trade. I want to remind the member of back when the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement was being negotiated. Does she remember that? Remember how our wine growers were saying, “This is the end of our industry because we will not be protected against California wine anymore. It is over for our industry”. What happened? The Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and then NAFTA came into force, and our wine industry was forced to adapt and get better and invest in itself.
Today, our wine industry is a world leader. How do I know that? This past weekend I was in the Okanagan Valley doing wine tasting, visiting different wineries.
An hon. member: It was research.
Hon. Ed Fast: Researching, yes, Mr. Speaker, that is what I was doing. It was great research to do. The quality of our Canadian wines is the best in the world. That is what we Canadians do when we can compete fairly.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-05-04 14:48 [p.10778]
Mr. Speaker, it has been 11 days since the crippling tariffs have been levied on our small and medium producers. On this side of the House, we are hearing from concerned producers, manufacturers, and fearful forestry workers. The minister says we should expect job losses. This is unacceptable, and Canadians deserve better.
What is the minister doing to reassure the over one million Canadians who depend on the forestry industry for their livelihoods, and what is the plan for our communities that depend on forestry?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-05-01 14:54 [p.10571]
Mr. Speaker, last week was a dark week for the over one million Canadians who are supported by Canada's forestry industry. The minister said that the U.S. trade action did not come as a surprise and that job losses are to be expected. Stories of work curtailment and mill closures are being heard right across our country. One small mill owner in my riding today is writing a cheque in the millions. He is not sure how much longer he can keep the doors open.
The minister did not have answers last week, so I am asking the Prime Minister. Will he stand today and tell the hard-working forestry families what his plan is now that they are facing uncertain times?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-04-07 11:47 [p.10325]
Mr. Speaker, from a minister who has been here for so long and someone who understands it, he knows that these families deserve better. Canadians deserve a better answer than what he gave.
We know through our U.S. contacts that softwood lumber negotiations are non-existent. We are days away from a lumber trade war that will see mill closures, jobs lost, and communities decimated. British Columbia is the largest producer of softwood in the country. There are 140 communities across the province that depend on forestry.
I know it is not Wednesday, but will the Prime Minister stand in the House and answer this question? What are his plans to protect the jobs in communities for the families that depend on the forestry industry?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-16 17:36 [p.9071]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak to Motion No. 102.
I want to commend our hon. colleague for the incredible work in putting together this motion. I have to admit that this is an issue that came up in my riding. We have organizations that have already started taking steps to adopt these regulations or at least the processes in place, and Motion No. 102 is a great start in recognizing this problem.
Motion No. 102 reads:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) adopt regulations on formaldehyde emissions for composite wood products intended for indoor use that are sold, provided, or supplied for sale in Canada; and (b) ensure that these regulations are similar to US Environmental Protection Agency regulations enforcing the formaldehyde emissions standards in the US Toxic Substances Control Act Title VI in order to protect the health of Canadians who use these products.
A concern we have, and industry has brought it up as well, is with the word “similar”. We recognize that this is a common-sense motion. We would like to see an amendment, as we would like to have language such as “align with” or “in alignment with”.
I received word from one of our major manufacturers of composite wood and plywood in my riding, one of the leading forestry product producers in Canada. It suggested that these regulations should be patterned on the U.S. formaldehyde emissions requirements, and more specifically patterned on California's very strict rules. I believe my hon. colleague has moved on this.
Our previous Conservative government has always taken a stance on controlling toxic substances that pose risks to human health. For example, it was a priority to pass the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, which banned the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles.
On December 12, 2016, the American Environmental Protection Agency published new regulations to reduce exposure to formaldehyde emissions from certain wood products domestically produced or imported into the United States. The EPA adopted California Air Resources Board regulations for composite wood products to ensure a consistent regulatory framework across the U.S.
Formaldehyde is used as an adhesive in a wide range of wood products, such as furniture, flooring, cabinets, bookcases, and building materials, including plywood and wood panels, as our hon. colleague mentioned. Composite wood products are made with pre-consumer, recycled wood residuals, which utilize 95% of the whole tree and also a significant majority of wood fibre, which is locally sourced. This is important, especially in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George where we are dependent on forestry.
Exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation; other respiratory symptoms; and even cancer. Formaldehyde in Canada is classified as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protections Act of 1999, CEPA, and it is regulated. However, if the Government of Canada decides to adopt EPA regulations, the use of formaldehyde in wood products would be subject to stricter regulation on finished wood products, like plywood, cabinet doors, and countertops.
It is important to note that Canadian exporters of composite wood products already adhere to the American and Californian standards voluntarily through the CSA Group to export into the American market. If Canada did not adopt this regulatory change or if we refused to adopt Motion No. 102, composite wood products entering Canada would be subject to less stringent formaldehyde regulations than Canadian exports to the United States.
This is also about jobs. It is not just a health issue, but a competitive advantage. It is about jobs here in Canada as well as products that could be flooding into our market from foreign countries, such as composite wood products from China.
I will reiterate for the record that this is a common-sense motion.
When we see so many topics come through the House, where the House can oftentimes be divided, this is one that hopefully will be supported by all members on all sides because it is a very common-sense motion. I want to bring it back to Canadian jobs. We need to always be mindful that it protects jobs within Canada. It also promotes jobs and job growth.
The composite panel industry supports Canadian jobs. Nearly 12,000 people across Canada are employed in this industry, many of them in rural communities like those in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George. In fact, the West Fraser production plant in Quesnel is a significant job creator and is a member of the composite panel industry and indeed one of the largest producers of this in Canada.
If Motion No. 102 does not pass, these jobs and jobs in my riding could be negatively impacted.
As members know, I am one of the fiercest proponents of getting a new softwood lumber agreement done as quickly as possible. With increasing protectionist rhetoric coming from our friends across the border, we need to do everything in our power to ensure our Canadian producers enjoy the same advantages as those who are in competition with them. If Motion No. 102 does not pass, those jobs and jobs in my riding will be negatively impacted.
Aligning Canada's regulatory framework with the United States on wood products containing formaldehyde will prevent the dumping of non-compliant EPA products into the Canadian marketplace. This will ensure Canada's wood product manufacturers maintain a competitive advantage, both domestically as well as internationally. In an ever-changing uncertain global economic environment, we need to seize every opportunity to ensure our forestry products and forestry producers remain competitive.
Here is a statistic for the House. Over 140 communities in my province of British Columbia are forestry dependent. Roughly 65,000 jobs depend on the forestry industry for their livelihoods and to put food on the table for their families. We currently do not have a softwood lumber agreement in place. This has been mentioned time and again, and I will continue to defend our forestry workers.
It is expected that tariffs will soon be levied on our Canadian producers that ship between Canada and the U.S. Prior to the Harper government coming to power, disputes on the softwood lumber had been simmering for more than 20 years. It reached a peak in May 2002 when the United States imposed duties of 27% on Canadian softwood. It was argued that Canada unfairly subsidized producers of spruce, pine, and fir lumber.
The trade war took a toll on Canadian jobs. While we like to tout our record in litigation, thousands upon thousands of people in the industry lost their jobs, including nearly 15,000 forestry workers in my home province of British Columbia.
A quote that was thrown around this chamber quite frequently was “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. Instead of negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement right out of the gate, we have seen inaction on this file and the Liberal government has chosen to put it on the back burner and instead put false promises as well as false deadlines forward.
That is where we stand today, with no deal and our high-quality, well-paying forestry jobs at risk. One certainty we do have is knowing from the experiences of the last four trade wars that this one will not end well. Regardless of where we move with our softwood lumber agreement, there will be losers.
Canadians need results from the government that include protection of almost 400,000 jobs from a new softwood lumber agreement. From conversations I have had with them, Canadians are rightly worried because it is clear there is no plan to protect the high-paying jobs that are created in Canada as a result of NAFTA, including 550,000 auto sector jobs, 211,000 aerospace jobs, and our oil and gas, mining, and forestry jobs.
We need the Liberal government to start recognizing the importance of our rural economies as the backbone of the national economy. The Conservative Party stands for our hard-working families employed in the resources sector. Oftentimes these individuals are working 12 to 14-hour days doing back-breaking, labour intensive jobs in all kinds of unpredictable weather. They work hard to put food on their tables, and we stand with them.
Making a small, common sense change to tweak legislation that is already voluntarily acted upon is a good move, and that is why we will support Motion No. 102.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-14 14:54 [p.8918]
Mr. Speaker, 140 communities in British Columbia are dependent on forestry industry. This equates to roughly 65,000 jobs in just one single province.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister left the Minister of Natural Resources at home alone, and there is no evidence that the Prime Minister brought this agreement up once. It is not even mentioned in one minister's mandate letter.
It is clear yet again that softwood lumber and forestry workers are not a priority for these Liberals. Will the minister make softwood lumber a priority and make sure a deal is in place before a single forestry worker loses a job as a result of his and her inaction?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-13 12:30 [p.8825]
Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government, under the watchful eye and governance of Stephen Harper, signed many trade agreements. Many things went into not just signing the agreements but putting into place investments that would ensure our goods and our people could benefit from those trade agreements.
I wonder if our hon. colleague from York—Simcoe could comment on the gateway program and the marketing programs that our Conservative government under Stephen Harper invested in, to ensure our small and medium enterprises could not just get access to those markets, which is important, but to teach our small and medium enterprises how to take advantage of such trade agreements.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-13 15:53 [p.8857]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to rise in the House and talk about the Canada-European Union trade agreement, which is one that I have spoken on a number of times. We have the opportunity to stand in the House to speak about Canada's opportunities on the world stage and the promotion of Canada on the world stage. It always brings me back to the opportunities and experiences I had in the promotion of Canada for over 20 years working in aviation and trade. Indeed, it brings back some great memories.
I am going to focus my speech on a couple of different areas. Obviously, we have heard a lot of speeches over this debate and, indeed, on the earlier versions of this agreement. I am going to talk about why Canada has this agreement, and then get into the agreement as it sits today. I also want to talk a little bit beyond the trade agreements, what we need to do, and what the government needs to do to make sure that we capitalize on the opportunities that trade agreements bring.
The question we always have with respect to a trade agreement as we move forward is making sure that it is the right deal for Canadians, and making sure that Canadian jobs are always promoted first and foremost, and are top of mind. I know that for the previous government under Stephen Harper, first and foremost of critical importance was creating an environment that precipitated investment and trade, and also furthered trade. This was what Prime Minister Harper and his strong team of ministers focused on.
Again, we should always be mindful that we give kudos to the hon. colleague, the member for Abbotsford, who moved this agreement to where it is today. As well, we had the former minister of trade, the member for York—Simcoe, as well who did considerable work in moving agreements such as this.
If I remember correctly, our former Conservative government put over 40-plus agreements in place. The reason we got over 40 agreements done and in place is that we had a focused government that understood that Canada first and foremost is indeed a trading nation. We understood that our economy is predicated on the commodities that we produce. One in five Canadian jobs is directly or indirectly linked to trade. Trade allows us to secure and be the drivers of our prosperity. Every billion dollars in exports generates as many as 11,000 new jobs.
The Canada-EU agreement will be one of the largest agreements that we have had since NAFTA. The history of our Canada-EU relations goes back to 1497 when John Cabot landed. He was looking for spices, but instead found fish, cod at the time, and lots of it. Subsequently, a lot of boats from Europe came to get our cod, because Canadians had some of the best north Atlantic cod. It was dried, salted, and shipped over to Europe. This expanded into the fur trade with our first nations and further with the Hudson's Bay Company. We have a long history of trade with Europe.
As I said, earlier, the Canada-Europe trade agreement is a landmark agreement. It has been mentioned in the House that it really is a gold-plated agreement. It sets the standard for agreements.
This agreement connects producers to over 500 million consumers. It connects our producers to the world's largest economy. Indeed, the EU represents 500 million people and an annual economic activity of almost $20 trillion.
The day that this agreement comes into place, it is said that Canada could experience a 20% boost in bilateral trade, and I believe it has been mentioned time and again that we could experience a $12-billion annual increase in our Canadian economy. That is not chump change. That is a lot of money. That is a lot of jobs. That represents over 80,000 new Canadian jobs.
On the day that it comes into force, nearly 100% of all EU tariff lines on non-agricultural products would be duty-free, along with close to 94% of all EU tariff lines on agricultural products.
The Canada-EU agreement would also give Canadian service providers, which employ more than 13.8 million Canadians and account for 70% of Canada's total GDP, the best market access the EU has ever granted to any of its free trade agreement partners.
This agreement would also give Canadian suppliers of goods and services secure preferential access to the world's largest procurement market. The EU's $3.3-trillion government procurement market would provide our industry and our service providers with the most significant new export opportunities that they have seen in decades.
We have talked a lot about what CETA would bring and we have talked a lot about when it comes into force. I always like to bring it back to what it means for my province of British Columbia. I am the first to stand to say how proud I am to be from British Columbia and to be one of the MPs from there. The EU is already B.C.'s fifth-largest export destination and it is our fourth-largest trading partner. British Columbia stands to benefit significantly from the preferential access to the EU market. Once in force, CETA would eliminate tariffs on almost all of B.C.'s exports and provide access to new market opportunities in the EU. The provision of CETA would help erase regulatory barriers, reinforce intellectual property rights, and ensure more transparent rules for market access. B.C. would be positioned to have a competitive advantage over exporters from other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the EU.
I have said this before, and I will say it again. We have one of the most business-ready and most competitive business environments and supportive climates in B.C. Our province consistently receives AAA credit ratings. We have vast resources, low tax rates, a stable and well-regulated financial system, and a fiscally responsible government that attracts investment from around the world.
Canada used to have that, as well.
In the previous government, we had a government that understood that to be competitive on the world stage, we had to create a business environment, an investment environment, with low taxes, quality jobs, quality tradespeople. Our government understood that.
B.C. is at the commercial crossroads of Asia-Pacific and North America. We are also equidistant, in terms of flights, between Asia and the European markets. Our fish and seafood exporters would benefit from CETA. I have said this before.
The seafood industry has gone through many transitions and, indeed, faces an uncertain future. We are just finishing up our study of the Fisheries Act review. We studied the northern cod. We are seeing that fishery has yet to rebound. We have studied our Atlantic salmon fisheries, as well. We know that our fishing communities on the east coast are hurting, but there are incredible opportunities for them. When CETA comes into force, almost 96% of EU tariff lines for fish and seafood products would be duty-free and on 7%, 100% of the products would be duty-free.
It is hugely important because the EU is the world's largest importer of fish and seafood products. EU tariffs for fish and seafood average 11% and can be as high as 25%. It comes down to a competitive advantage, and Canada has it. Once the deal comes into force, Canada can be even more competitive on the world stage.
I talked a lot about what CETA would do and what it would bring, but I want to focus on getting agreements in place, what that means, and how we go about doing that.
We have strong familial ties with Europe. There is a large European diaspora in Canada making sure we can connect with those Canadians. Getting trade access is about more than just formal agreements. It is not enough to just sign the agreement. We have to make sure we have resources and that we are doing everything in our power to build the capacity to take advantage of these opportunities. Whether it is a strategy that looks at our ports or an airports strategy, the previous Conservative government understood that. We invested in our trade commissioners. We invested in making sure that our air policy was there to support our trade and agreements.
I want to talk a bit about that. As we said, getting the agreements across the finish line is just one thing, but we need to make sure that we get a strategy that leverages all of our advantages, including our geographic advantages at home and abroad. Whether it is our trade commissioners, whether it is making available marketing dollars or export investment dollars, it is always so critically important that there is a holistic program that backs up any trade agreement. Access to markets and trade promotion are futile if we cannot move the goods we produce faster and more efficiently than our competitors.
Our former Conservative government invested $14.5 billion in our gateway program, into our ports, our airports, and our transportation networks. We have a world-class multimodal system that competes with none other. We are well positioned to take advantage of our geographic position. In 2006, under former Prime Minister Harper, we launched the Asia–Pacific gateway program, and in 2007 we started a national policy framework for strategic gateways and corridors. On that, I would like to get into a bit about our gateway system. It is incumbent upon us that we talk about this. Again, signing the agreements is just one part of it. We have to be able to make sure that we can move our goods and move the people faster and more efficiently than others before.
I have spoken about the port of Prince Rupert time and again, the closest marine port to Asia compared to any other western seaport. It allows us the competitive advantage that our goods can arrive one to two days faster than from any other west coast port. As I said before, it means that products from and to North America arrive at their destination quicker, with less fuel and less risk. We also have the fastest and greenest road and rail networks into the U.S. Midwest, running right straight through Canada and into the heartland of the U.S. I mentioned Prince George Airport, my home airport, which has the third-longest runway in Canada. It was an investment that our previous government made so that we can compete on the world stage. That is just in my riding.
Port Metro Vancouver is North America's most diversified port. It trades 75 billion dollars' worth of goods with more than 160 trading economies annually. The port-related activity alone has an economic impact of $9.7 billion a year and continues to grow. These are all great investments that our previous government put in, and again it is about making sure that once they get that agreement in place they can capture those opportunities.
I want to talk again about the gateways. We have three major gateways in Canada. There is the Asia–Pacific gateway. We have the Ontario–Quebec continental gateway that our previous government invested huge amounts of money in. Thanks to CentrePort in Winnipeg and other trade corridors and supply chain logistics investments in marketing, we were able to capture that movement into the U.S. heartlands.
The Atlantic Canada gateway program in 2007 capitalized on many centuries of background in terms of using Atlantic Canada as a springboard into the U.S. for trading.
Our Conservative government understood that investments went beyond just signing an agreement. We looked at investing in our trade corridors. Whether it was the third-largest container port of Halifax or North America's most efficient class 1 rail carrier, double-stacked container service on both the east and west coasts, our government understood that it took more than just signing agreements to allow our consumers and producers to capitalize on them.
Trade is such a complex file. We have to look at many things. We talked about the umbrella, about ensuring we had a bit of strategy, a holistic approach to this. I go back to the agreement done in 2007. Our Conservative government recognized the direction we were moving in with our trade agreements and we recognized where we wanted to go. In December 2009, we signed a comprehensive air transport agreement, which allowed Canadian carriers access into 27 other markets. We reciprocated on that agreement, allowing those member states access to our Canadian market.
Atlantic Canada is situated right on the flight path. One of the very first airports in North America was Gander airport. It gets an incredible amount of traffic from Europe in the trans-Atlantic cargo network, and it is through the investments that our government made. We looked at our air policy to ensure our air cargo policy was where we wanted to go, that our aspirations matched what we were doing with our regulatory and policy framework.
Our government invested in information and technology to ensure Canada was in tune with some of its largest trading partners, whether it was the U.S. to the south of us and our largest trading partner, or the EU. We wanted to be in line with the information and technology of those countries. We wanted to ensure we had a secure supply chain as we moved forward.
I talk a lot about trade gateways and the promotion of Canada, because I was on the front line of promoting Canada. We always ask, why Canada? I had the opportunity to be in Europe this past fall. I boarded a bus with my Canadian pin. A handful of people wanted that pin. People want to trade with Canada. They want to be associated with Canada. Why? We have the rule of law and one of the safest and most secure countries in the world. We have a political system that rivals any.
Up until the last 18 months, for the most part, we had a secure business environment. Canada did not have a large debt, which usually creates political unrest, certainly with investors. We had principled and pragmatic leadership that saw where Canada wanted to go, but we looked at our policies, whether it was our air policy, our regulations, or our framework. We ensured our small and medium-sized enterprises could take that opportunity to invest, expand and see the benefits of trade agreements, whether it was our go global fund that helped with funding and marketing products.
Signing an agreement is just one part of the process. We celebrate and congratulate the government across the way for getting CETA to the finish line, but there are a whole host of things that need to accompany that agreement. Our Conservative government set them up very well. We hope the Liberal government recognizes that, sees this through and continues with some of the programs our government funded. We funded a number of different initiatives because, under Prime Minister Harper, we understood that Canada was a trading nation first and foremost and that Canadian jobs and Canadian prosperity depended on trade.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-13 16:14 [p.8860]
Mr. Speaker, the benefit of trade agreements is our Canadian products and Canadian producers. We have some of the best and brightest, innovative, and technological companies in the world right in Canada. Being able to access new markets, the world's largest economy, is only going to create more jobs.
I will bring it back to the comment I made before about the third grader in my riding who asked what trade agreements did. If that third grader can only manufacture widgets and sell them within his small community of a couple hundred, it is not going to create jobs, and slowly but surely his product is not going to have any more market. If we can open it up to the communities and countries around us, all of a sudden that product can get to all of the largest economies in our world, whether the U.S., the EU, or, I hope, an Asia-Pacific pact, or the TPP. Trade is good. Trade creates jobs and ensures that our best and brightest are showcased on the world stage, and that is so important.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-13 16:16 [p.8860]
Mr. Speaker, it is interesting, coming from the NDP. It is another poke in the hole of something, or a witch hunt on trade. The New Democrats say that they are standing up for Canadians, but they will find every excuse to go against a trade agreement. The bottom line is that in uncertain times, as we are seeing with our largest trading partner south of the border, we need to ensure we are not putting all of our eggs in one basket. That is exactly what CETA will bring.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-13 16:18 [p.8860]
Mr. Speaker, we need to have a principled look at trade agreements. It is always important to look at the details of trade agreements. I mentioned in my speech that the Canada-EU relationship went back centuries. We have strong familial ties. In Canada, we have a large European diaspora. The agreement will not only connect families and grow our relations together, but also, as the hon. colleague mentioned, help those countries that are looking for other markets, or are helping other markets to boost their own economy as well. Trade agreements are good. Reciprocal trade agreements are even better, ensuring our agreement has benefits flowing on each side. I think we will only see benefits coming from this.
As my hon. colleague mentioned, Latvia has said this is one of the best agreements it has seen in decades. While we do have some naysayers in the House, I think all members of Parliament will agree that given the uncertain times south of the border and the increasing protectionist rhetoric, everything we can do to create new opportunities for Canadians and Canadian producers is something we should all celebrate.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-13 16:21 [p.8861]
Mr. Speaker, maybe we should give credit where credit is due. We have an incredible group at Global Affairs Canada that had 10 years of great policy framework and some great investments in ports, airports, transportation, our gateway programs, also in terms of our trade commissioner programs at home and abroad, and our export marketing programs, whether it was go global, or Canexport, and our policy framework.
With respect to our Global Affairs group, Canada has some of the best people at the table. They were led by a strong member, the hon. colleague for Abbotsford. It is important to do everything we can do to ensure we celebrate where we are going, ensuring we give kudos where it is due. However, I would agree with my hon. colleague that we should be celebrating our agreements and celebrating those who get it across the line.
I know there was a considerable amount of work, effort and investment from the previous government and as well as former prime minister Stephen Harper. He had the foresight to set Canada up not only in our investments in our gateway program but also in our marketing and policy framework, moving that forward and subsequently complementing any trade agreement we move forward.
View Dianne L. Watts Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, over many years, this has now come to fruition. Being of Ukrainian heritage, I am particularly pleased to see this trade agreement. However, given the Russian aggression in the Ukraine, does the member feel this will impact the trade agreement?
View Dianne L. Watts Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could speak to the conditions in Ukraine. We all support this trade agreement, but how can we help with the Ukrainian refugee issue?
View Dianne L. Watts Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for talking about the work the Conservative government undertook in regard to free trade. We had 46 trade agreements, and initiated the one before us today. To have all parties support this is really quite an accomplishment.
My question is about the tariffs that will be removed on some of the items. We look at what is going on south of the border with the reopening of NAFTA. Could the member speak to the impacts for Canada of reopening and renegotiating NAFTA?
View Dianne L. Watts Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, one of my colleagues asked a question regarding the sharing of satellite images with the Ukraine military and the parliamentary secretary did not respond. I am wondering if she could please answer the direct question.
View Alice Wong Profile
CPC (BC)
View Alice Wong Profile
2017-02-07 17:25 [p.8603]
Madam Speaker, I have to stress that Canada has always been a good friend of Ukraine. I remember when Prime Minister Harper and I attended the opening ceremony of APEC in Beijing. The first thing he said to Putin was to get out of Ukraine. That shows the Conservative Party's strong support for our good friends in Ukraine.
Economic growth is also the best way to grow a country, a region, or a community. I remember when I trained Muslim women, single parents, in Malaysia on how to start and run a small business successfully. These women saw the need for economic independence and they successfully became women entrepreneurs in their own country. SMEs are important and so is the strength of the Ukrainian community in my riding of Richmond Centre.
My question for my hon. colleague is this. How would you demonstrate that trade can help small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and businesses benefit and create jobs because of this free trade agreement?
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-06 17:12 [p.8522]
Madam Speaker, before I go to my speech today, I want to give credit where credit is due. I know that many members on both sides of the House have recognized our member of Parliament for Abbotsford, the former minister of trade, who did considerable work getting this piece of legislation, this trade agreement, further than it had been previously, for all of the hard work that he has done with respect to that. I know he is at home right now. He should not be listening, but if he is listening—
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-06 17:13 [p.8522]
Madam Speaker, I withdraw my comment. I want to give credit to the hon. member for Abbotsford for all of the hard work that he did in getting this trade agreement, and many others, passed in that time.
In times of uncertainty, as we are seeing today, it is ever more important to do whatever we can to ensure that Canadians are employed, and that Canadian producers have markets in which to trade their goods.
Although I am not quite sure of the time frame, we are now without a softwood lumber agreement. Over the last week, while attending the BC Premier's Natural Resources Forum with an hon. colleague from another opposition party, I learned that over 140 communities in British Columbia are forest-dependent. That means that the importance of a softwood lumber agreement should be of the utmost concern for the current government. However, we saw in the latest mandate letter of the Minister of Foreign Affairs that softwood lumber or the TPP were not mentioned once.
International trade agreements generate increased economic activity. They drive prosperity and job creation. As well, they foster greater co-operation between our democratic allies.
Canada should always strive to maximize the benefits we have as a free trading nation. One in five jobs in Canada today is directly linked to our exports. The need to establish trading relationships beyond North America is critically important, especially when we hear the increasing protectionist dialogue from our number one trading partner south of the border. I was just pulling off some figures, and the U.S. is our number one trading partner, with over $769 million in trade. We now have more uncertain times, especially when, within minutes of the president-elect being elected, our Prime Minister offered to renegotiate NAFTA.
These increasing times of uncertainty speak volumes. We, the 338 members of Parliament, need to do everything we can to be the voice of Canadians when we are in our ridings and continue to hear the concerns of our constituents, our manufacturers, our lumber producers, and our farmers that the government needs to be focused on Canadian jobs and industry.
The EU is British Columbia's fifth-largest export destination.
I will take a bit of time to talk about our beautiful province of British Columbia. We have one of the best economies. It is probably one of the top economies in the country. In strong part, that is due to the investments that our former Conservative government undertook. Through the negotiation and movement of over 40 trade agreements, plus the investments made in our ports, airports, and transportation networks, which are so vital to get our goods and services to market, and also through the pragmatic views of our air policies and our bilaterals, because with trade agreements what also comes willingly along the way are enhanced and strengthened familial and tourism opportunities, B.C. stands to benefit significantly from preferential access to the EU market.
Adjacent to my riding in Skeena—Bulkley Valley, we have the Port of Prince Rupert, which is the closest and fastest marine port to Asia. It is a port that allows us a competitive advantage because our goods arrive one day to two days closer to Asia, and faster than from any other west coast port. That port was an investment in marketing made by our Conservative government. It means that the products shipped from North America arrive at their destination more quickly, using less fuel, and are subject to less risk.
We also have the fastest and greenest road and rail networks to the U.S. Midwest markets running right through our region. The Prince George Airport, my former airport, has one of the longest runways in Canada, and it is equidistant between Europe and Asia.
These are just a few of the competitive trade advantages that are in my province and riding alone.
Port Metro Vancouver is North America's most diversified port. It trades $75 billion in goods in over 160 trading economies. I bring this up because trade is good. Canada's economy is predicated on the availability of markets, access to markets, and being able to get our goods to market.
CETA would be good for our agricultural groups as well. My riding of Cariboo—Prince George was built off the backs of traditional industries, such as forestry and farming. The beef and dairy farmers who wake up every morning before sunup and who are hard at work long after sundown would benefit from this agreement.
CETA would open up a market of approximately 500 million consumers for our dairy and cattle producers, beef producers, and our agrifood industry that are looking for those new markets. We are already starting to see our number one market, the U.S. market, bring up the COOL legislation and the dispute that we have had.
We have to do whatever we can to not put all of our eggs in one basket. We need to diversify our economies, which would give some assurances to our communities in rural Canada that our government has the best interests of Canadians at heart and is doing everything to protect Canada now and into the future.
We have such an opportunity here with our fish exporters as well. The seafood industry has gone through many transitions and faces uncertain times. When CETA comes into force, almost 98% of EU tariff lines for fish and seafood products will be duty-free. In seven years, 100% of products will be duty-free, which is hugely important.
The EU is the world's largest importer of fish and seafood products. The current EU tariffs for fish and seafood average 11% and can be as high as 25%. Those would be eliminated. We can think about what this is going to do for those hard-hit marine and coastal communities that depend on forestry and fishing for their livelihoods.
CETA is a great agreement. It has been touted as a gold-plated agreement. It is something that all sides should agree on. When this moves forward, we will be doing everything in our power to support it. CETA, in a nutshell, is a good-news story.
I agree with my colleagues down the way that there are things we need to be aware of. As we move forward, we have to go into these agreements with eyes wide open, always protecting Canadian jobs, Canadian industry, and Canadians as a whole.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-06 17:22 [p.8523]
Madam Speaker, I will go back to a conversation I had with a third grader at Hickson elementary school a little while ago. He was asking about trade agreements. I told him to pretend he manufactured widgets, but he was only allowed to sell those widgets in Hickson. When I asked him what the population of Hickson was, he gave me a number, and I said that was only a couple of thousand people he would be able to sell to in a lifetime. I said to imagine if he had the ability to sell those widgets in Quesnel, Prince George, Williams Lake, Vanderhoof, and all the great communities in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George. He could sell thousands. I told him he would probably have to employ more people to build them, and he said that, yes, he would. Being able to open markets for our Canadian products is important.
I agree with our friends down the way that we should be doing everything to make sure that we are protecting jobs and the labour side of it, but we have to have access to those markets so that we can build our Canadian economy. We do not have enough within Canada, as we heard earlier, to live up to the high lifestyle that we as Canadians enjoy. We need to have access to other markets.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-06 17:24 [p.8523]
Madam Speaker, I had the incredible opportunity to represent Canada on the world stage in pursuit of trade and economic development. I visited some areas of other countries where we toured plants that had deplorable work conditions. I also brought international developers over to Canada. I am going to stand up for our government and our provincial governments as well. When companies are interested in doing business, we never sacrifice our laws and morals when it comes to doing deals with other countries. We ensure they are following the law of the land here and abroad.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-06 17:26 [p.8524]
Madam Speaker, clearly, my hon. colleague did not hear my speech. I am a huge proponent for trade. A lot of the work we have done over the years with trade missions and development was indeed to bring Canadian businesses, small and medium enterprises, abroad so we could promote them and build their businesses.
Our government did an incredible job in providing tools and mechanisms. Whether it was our trade commission offices, or EDC, or Canada Export, our government did an incredible job to ensure that small and medium enterprises had the tools to not only compete but thrive in the international market.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my comments by sharing a few small but important examples with the House on why trade is important to my riding.
Back in 2013, the former minister of agriculture, known in this place as the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster, signed a deal with China that would result in an innovative new way to send B.C. cherries to China. It was not only innovative from both a food science and regulatory perspective, it actually resulted in B.C. cherries being able to access the Chinese market two weeks faster than our competitors from other countries. Two weeks is a massive time savings when we consider cherries have a one-month shelf life.
I mention these things because one day I had a meeting with a group of local fruit growers. The growers came to my office not to request more government funding or support, but rather to share with me that this new opportunity in China was working incredibly well for them and was creating very lucrative returns.
Many people in my area are concerned about keeping farmers farming. If there is a good income to be made, the fastest and strongest way that any government can support farmers is to ensure that they can receive those returns. Again, I go back to it. In other words, they wanted me to know what their government had done and that it was working for them.
Now I will briefly provide another quick example. A local winemaker shared with me news that he done a million dollar deal selling his wine direct to Asia. For a small family winery, that is simply massively exciting news for them. More so, when we consider that this same small family winery still cannot sell directly into Ontario. However, that is a topic we will save for another day.
The point of these examples is that trade creates new opportunities that in turn create prosperity. Best of all, it is not government largesse but opportunity that they want. We know now that when Canadians compete with the world, we can and do succeed every day, allowing us to thrive and for these farm families, these small businesses, to flourish.
I say we know now because, of course, as a country, we did not always know that. There was a time shortly after the first free trade agreement when the free trade agreement with the United States was announced, some B.C. vintners threatened to tear up their grapes, so convinced were they that they could not compete with the vast acres of the massive California wine industry.
Today one of my constituents frequently consults and provides his expertise to the California wine industry. Another one of the wineries in my riding is actually buying up a few California wineries.
I believe members can all understand my enthusiasm and my support for what new opportunities will become available with the implementation of the comprehensive economic and trade agreement deal.
On that same theme, I would like to commend the government for carrying on the good work of the former government to see this CETA deal moving forward. Having said that, I do have a few serious concerns I would like to share.
None of us in this place know exactly what changes, if any, may become of our most important trade relationship south of our border. However, I believe we would all agree that diversifying and creating new trade opportunities is the type of due diligence and leadership that we can collectively provide in Ottawa.
However, we must also be very careful. So much as market access is critically important, we also must not forget that trade is always a two-way street. If our side of the street is full of road bumps that slow things down and is more expensive to travel on, then trade can become more of a one-way street and flow more in one direction.
How do we prevent that? Here is the good news. On the regulatory side of things all parties in this place voted in support of the Red Tape Regulatory Reduction Act that was approved in the 41st Parliament. I mention this as the new president has indicated that he will introduce similar measures in the United States, even going a step further than our one for one regulatory reduction, calling for a two-to-one reduction.
Historically, also working in Canada's favour is the fact that we have had lower corporate and small business taxes, something members may recall the Burger King Corporation was eager to take advantage of when it moved its head office from the United States to Canada. Here again the new president has indicated he will seek to lower U.S. corporate taxation rates similar to Canada.
Most of the world has paid no attention to the fact that the president is doing these things because people are mesmerized instead by his presidential Twitter feed. Rest assured that in Canada we need not lose focus on the big picture, and it is the big picture about which I am most concerned.
The Liberal government has dictated a national carbon tax regime that will increase the costs of doing business in Canada. We must keep in mind that none of our major competitors, not the United States of America, not China nor India are following our lead on this. When people are no longer following us, then we are no longer leading the way.
The Liberals say that these increased carbon tax costs will not make a difference to our competitiveness. Here is some food for thought on that.
In British Columbia, in 2008, at the time the B.C. carbon tax was introduced, basically 100% of all cement used in British Columbia was manufactured in British Columbia. Why not? Concrete is not exactly a lightweight, inexpensive product to import and then transport from other jurisdictions. What happened when B.C. produced concrete that was subject to a carbon tax in 2008? It became more expensive.
By 2014, B.C.-produced concrete only accounted for roughly 65% of all concrete used in British Columbia because cheaper concrete was being imported from jurisdictions with no carbon tax. As result of this, the B.C. government is now providing financial subsidies to the B.C. concrete industry. Now the B.C. pulp and paper sector is looking for similar carbon tax relief.
It should also be pointed out that B.C. greenhouse growers have also secured B.C. carbon tax exemptions, not unlike many of Ontario's worst industrial polluters that have also received extensions and exclusions from the Ontario cap and trade way of taxing carbon.
In every one of these situations, these exemptions or subsidies are being provided to protect jobs and support local economies. However, we must not overlook who they are protecting these jobs from, and that is ourselves. It is our own government-imposed carbon taxes that we are now in turn subsidizing to compete against jurisdictions that do not have a carbon tax. Let us not forget the exceptions of the B.C. government that has a balanced budget. Many of these subsides are being provided with borrowed money, borrowed money that taxpayers pay interest on, and this is over and above the carbon tax they pay. We must also consider that in jurisdictions like Ontario, government policies have created some of the highest energy costs in North America.
In Ontario, over 600 jobs are being lost as General Motors is closing a car manufacturing plant and moving jobs to Mexico where they have considerably lower production costs, all at a time when the Liberal government is dramatically increasing the costs on employers through a new carbon tax called big CPP. Even the finance department has said that the big CPP will harm jobs and the Canadian economy for somewhere between 20 and 25 years. We should think about that.
I want to recap something. I am supportive of these opportunities. It is incredibly important that government support these things, but let us not lose sight of the big picture here. The big picture in this government is making us our own competitors. We need to be showing the way in a way that our industries can compete internationally.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I think I did make it very clear that I was supportive of CETA, but I also mentioned that trade is a two-way street. Inevitably, if we make it more difficult here in Canada for Canadians to compete internationally, if we make it so that we either do not have proper access, or we have more red tape, or higher taxes, and all the things that go along with many of the policies of the government, we will inevitably see trade dry up on one side of that street. We will see Canadian businesses burdened and not able to employ people. We will continue to see those 600 jobs, and more, go from Canada south to Mexico. Why is that? It is because with those increased costs, we cannot compete successfully.
Those farmers I met with could compete because they needed the access, but we need to continue to make sure they can compete, or else we will end up subsidizing and exempting, all to make sure we do not lose the big picture.
I am just asking the current government to take these things to heart, and if it is ready to actually engage, to do the right things and not put us down a road that we are going to regret five, 10, or 20 years out.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, first, the United Kingdom cannot engage in any new trade deals until after it has formally triggered Brexit. Given our long-standing ties with the many Commonwealth countries, particularly the United Kingdom, it would be helpful, and I would hope other members would support this. My understanding is the United Kingdom was very key in the negotiations of CETA, and perhaps we could come to terms rather quickly and maintain that market access. Of course, that would take the government to engage with the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has been talking to many other liberal western democracies, such as the United States, because it believes it is in its interest to keep trade lines open.
Therefore, I really hope the government will be quick on its feet and that it has pounded on the door to let the United Kingdom know that Canada wants to not only continue that relationship but increase it.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, the member makes a good point with respect to the importance of medical and dental benefits, and what this tax grab would cost. However, he also brought something up that is even more important.
In my speech, I talked about creating an environment for businesses to be successful. In our province, the softwood lumber agreement is absolutely essential for the forestry workers. If they did not have those jobs, they would not have medical and dental benefits. That agreement expired a long time ago. The Prime Minister and the former U.S. president said that they would get the deal done. We were very optimistic. Obviously, they failed. I am becoming increasingly concerned about getting a proper softwood lumber deal done, and ultimately about those jobs in the forestry sector in British Columbia.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2016-12-13 10:37 [p.7996]
Madam Speaker, I listened intently to the Minister of International Trade go on and on about her passion and her beliefs regarding her Ukrainian heritage.
Canada does stand with Ukraine. It should be no surprise that Conservative members on this side of the House stand with Ukraine. The minister acknowledged the hard work that our international trade team did in getting the trade agreement to this point. My hon. colleague is pushing it across the goal line.
The minister waxed on about her Ukrainian heritage. As a Ukrainian leader in cabinet, how can she stand by and watch her government shut down what I consider to be the Ukrainian capital of Canada, Vegreville? I would imagine there are approximately 280 families of Ukrainian descent in Vegreville. I have been there. I have family there. How could you stand by and not use your voice to stand up for such an important job-creating facility in what I consider our Ukrainian capital of Canada?
View Mel Arnold Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mel Arnold Profile
2016-12-13 10:45 [p.7997]
Madam Speaker, I thank the minister opposite for her presentation this morning. I can obviously see she is a strong supporter of Ukraine and its culture by her attire today.
However, a colleague on my side of the House, the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George, asked a clear question this morning and I listened intently for an answer, but did not hear even a hint of an answer.
Does the minister support the Ukrainian heritage that is obviously present in the town of Vegreville? Is she concerned, and has she addressed the 400 jobs that are being taken out of that community, or has that been a trade deal with the minister in Edmonton who will receive those jobs?
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, “Canada is a friend, indeed”. Those five words, spoken by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, state a very simple truth. When one thinks of the many kinds of relationships two countries can have, such as enemies, allies, partners, and competitors, none of these words touch as far or as deeply as being described as a friend. However, can countries be friends? That is a great question and one I hope members of this chamber will let me answer.
Before I go down this path any further, I would like to inform you, Mr. Speaker, that I will be sharing my time with my friend from Yellowhead.
One of my favourite authors and speakers, in defining the very term friend, remarked that a friend is a person who will come and get us. He remarked that if he ever found himself locked up in a foreign jail and unduly accused, a true friend would, despite the obstacles and accusations, come and get him and take him home. Despite all the relationships he had built and acquired over a lifetime of business and philanthropic activities, filled with hundreds of acquaintances, partners, co-chairs, and colleagues, only one, perhaps two, would meet the standard of what it would be to be a friend. Sure, many would sympathize and say, “I totally understand your situation, and I wish there was something I could do. Please let me know when you get back stateside”. Ultimately, only a friend would come and get him, no questions asked, no matter what.
Friends will come and get us, no matter what. Friends are the ones who stand at our side during our most difficult times. They will also be there when we need to hear something, even if we do not like hearing it, and especially if we do not like hearing it.
We all know the challenges the Ukrainian people have faced and continue to face right now. Many of us were in this very chamber in September 2014 and heard the very dark assessment given by President Poroshenko that Ukrainian freedoms were being paid for in Ukrainian blood and that it was important for countries like Canada, nay, friends like Canada, to stand fast.
There is no way for Canada to simply come and get Ukraine, nor is there any way to change its geographic locale, which is of such strategic concern that Russia, whether we are speaking of the former Russian Empire, the later Soviet Union, or its current incarnation and administration, simply refuses to leave it alone. However, there are things we can do.
When Russia invaded Crimea, Canada was certainly outspoken, and this was epitomized by the former prime minister, upon shaking the hand of Vladimir Putin, telling him clearly, “get out of Ukraine”. The previous government promised and delivered monetary support, non-lethal defensive equipment, and satellite imaging for intelligence support. While I wish to say that all these efforts and more continue, alas, citing budgetary reasons, the current government has cancelled its satellite imaging. That is regretful and something I hope the government will reconsider.
I realize that some members will cite the continuing efforts to apply economic sanctions, and that is good. I encourage the government to do all it can on this front. I would also like to encourage the Liberals not to dismiss the good work of my colleague, the MP for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, with his Bill C-267, the justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act.
With all of that said, I would like to now direct my comments to Bill C-31, an act to implement the free trade agreement between Canada and Ukraine. As we have said, Ukraine has many challenges: invasion; corruption; its fiscal and financial development; and meeting the needs and expectations of its people, who have clearly said, through marches, protests, and ultimately at the ballot box, that its future is to be an open, free economy and society, much like Canada is today.
The challenges are large. Let me read from an international monetary analyst, Mr. Benn Steil:
In April 2013, Ukraine was sporting a massive current account deficit of eight percent, and it badly needed dollars to pay for vital imports. Yet on April 10, President Viktor Yanukovych’s government rejected terms set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $15 billion financial assistance package, choosing instead to continue financing the gap between its domestic production and its much higher consumption by borrowing dollars privately from abroad. So a week later, Kiev issued a ten-year, $1.25 billion eurobond, which cash-flush foreign investors gobbled up at a 7.5 percent yield.
Everything seemed to be going swimmingly, until May 22, when the U.S. Federal Reserve’s then chair, Ben Bernanke, suggested that the Fed might, if the U.S. economy continued improving, soon begin to pare back, or “taper,” its monthly purchases of U.S. Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. The Fed had begun the purchases the previous September in order to push down long-term interest rates and encourage private lending; their end would mean higher yields on longer-maturity U.S. bonds, making developing markets decidedly less attractive. Investors in Ukrainian bonds therefore reacted savagely to the taper talk, dumping them and sending their yields soaring to near 11 percent, a level at which they would remain for most of the rest of the year.
Ukraine’s financial problems had been mounting over many years, but it was the mere prospect of the Fed pumping fewer new dollars into the market each month that pushed the cost of rolling over its debt—that is, paying off old obligations with new bonds—beyond Kiev’s capacity to pay. Had the Fed stayed dovish, Ukraine could have at least delayed its financial crisis, and a crisis delayed can be a crisis averted. Yanukovych ultimately turned for help to Moscow, which successfully demanded that he abandon an association agreement with the European Union in return. Ukrainians took to the streets—and the rest is history.
Like many countries, it can be difficult to exist in a global market where investment can disappear overnight. The only protection is a thriving economy where domestic industries can build competitive advantage and compete internationally. Forming stronger, long-term, and diversified trade will create jobs and a more sustainable tax base that will help Ukraine.
Whatever members have heard, and despite what the NDP likes to say, Canada knows very well the benefits of trade. I mentioned the importance of the stabilizing effect trade can have on an economy when it expands trade. I mentioned an expanded tax base. When a country has a stable tax base, there are more resources for citizens for health care, schools, important productive infrastructure, such as a new bridge or airport, and quality-of-life infrastructure, such as advanced waste water management or water treatment. It also allows for institutions of the state, like tax collection and a well-resourced legal framework with authorities, that can help tackle institutional corruption and make them more inclusive.
More inclusive institutions are better equipped to help receive and share information with the public through access to information and better public monitoring of elected and other public officials. This creates a more open and productive society, and Canada can help by sharing its experiences.
It is also important for us to see that we have a way to go when it comes to transparency and making sure that corruption is stamped out. One only has to see the damage to the institutions of government, and not just to the Liberal Party's brand, when Canadians can plainly see either preferential access to elected decision-makers or perceived preferential access with cash for access fundraisers.
Let us celebrate our way of life here in Canada, but let us not be blind to our own conduct as we encourage institutional development internationally in countries that seek a path similar to Canada's.
I return to the words of President Poroshenko: “Canada is a friend, indeed”. There is much to support in Bill C-31. There is much promised and made good by the previous government, and to some extent, the current Liberal government as well. However, like a friendship, it never ends until we part ways personally or through death. I would suggest, in answering the question of whether countries can be friends, that yes, they can be. However, until we see the Ukrainian people through these dark days, stand firm with them, share with them our concerns, and help them through this trying time, only then can we say, in response to President Poroshenko, “Canada is a friend in deed”.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I do hope the member heard my speech, because I think I said many of the very same things. However, I do take the point that there are many Canadians of Ukrainian heritage who would want Canada to live up to Mr. Poroshenko's words.
Again, Canada is a friend indeed, but a friend stands fast when times are tough. A friend tells one what sometimes one does not want to hear but needs to hear. A friend stands with one despite everyone else leaving.
I think for Ukrainian Canadians and those Canadians of Ukrainian heritage, this is the kind of action they want from the current government. They got it from the last government, and I hope the current government is listening.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her contribution to this place and for raising a number of concerns.
Again, budgetary was named in a number of different sources, and the member has cited a few other ones. I do not necessarily disagree that there might be some operational and contractual issues.
However, I will always go back to this: Leadership means making decisions and making them for the betterment of all. It may cause some concerns operationally, it may cause some concerns financially, but as it has been said many times, we only need one reason to do the right thing, and it is that it is the right thing to do.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, again, I do appreciate that there are a number of concerns when someone is taking a decision. Again, there was a point in time where we offered that service to support Ukrainians in their time of need, and it was cut off.
Now it may not have been ideal for a department, it may not have been ideal for the Ukrainians, but it was supportive of them, and it was something that Canada could, and I argue, should do.
View Mark Warawa Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Warawa Profile
2016-12-13 17:09 [p.8055]
Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to speak with your oversight as Speaker today. So I do not forget, I want to wish you and yours a very merry Christmas as we approach the Christmas season, happy Hanukkah and happy new year.
I am truly honoured to speak to Bill C-31. It is a very important bill and it is unique in that it brings all the parties here from diverse opinions on different political debates together to support a free trade agreement between Canada and Ukraine. It is a good thing. It is nice to see the New Democrats temporarily lay aside their ideologies and their positions on free trade agreements, which is normally no, and say yes, and it is for very important reasons. I believe it is because of the incredible work and the history and relationship between Canada and the Ukraine.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Lakeland.
As has been pointed out, of our population in Canada of only 35 million people, 1.3 million have a Ukrainian heritage. I am one of those. I am greatly honoured that my grandparents, my baba and gido, from Brody, Ukraine, came to Canada and homesteaded, worked the land, built roads, cleared the land and worked hard to pay taxes. It was a very tough time but it was necessary. Different groups came from Europe to Canada to homestead and help build our great country.
That is the foundation on which we find ourselves in Canada. We have this heritage and this wonderful relationship between Canada and Ukraine.
The largest population of people with a Ukrainian heritage of course is in Ukraine. However, the second largest in the world is in Canada. That wonderful Ukrainian culture blesses us. The member across the way was so happy that perogies, cabbage rolls, borscht, kumasi were available. It is the wonderful food. We are also experiencing the wonderful dance at this important time of the year.
I also want to give huge thanks to the member of Parliament for Abbotsford who, in the last Parliament, was the minister of international trade. I have never seen somebody work as hard as he did. He was on the go, going all over the world. He accomplished free trade agreements that would create jobs and financial prosperity in Canada. He worked so hard for our country. I want to thank him for all the work he did.
In fact, I was able to go with him on one of his trade agreement trips. Senator Andreychuk was there as was the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. Again, we witnessed first hand how hard the member for Abbotsford, the former minister of international trade, worked.
I was also honoured to be with the former Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, on one of those trade agreement trips. Shortly after President Yanukovych was elected the president of Ukraine, the prime minister hosted a trade mission to build relations with Ukraine.
On July 14, 2015, Prime Minister Harper and the prime minister of Ukraine successfully completed the negotiations on the Canada free trade agreement. It was a lot of years and a lot of hard work, and it was concluded just before the last election.
I am very happy and thankful that the government has indicated this is also one of its priorities, to continue the work of the previous government and see this very important free trade agreement ratified. It will be good for Canada and for Ukraine.
I also want to give huge thanks to the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. He has been long an advocate for justice. He is our critic for defence and is doing a great job. He has been to Ukraine many times. I enjoyed being with him on one of those trips as election observers.
In the last election when President Poroshenko was elected, I was an election observer in western Ukraine. The member observed first hand the attacks of war coming from Russia, directed by Putin. He first took Crimea as we were celebrating the Olympics. Then he continued to try to take eastern Ukraine. That mentality of dominance is very reminiscent of the Stalin years, when they would try to expand the Russian borders through all forms of brutality.
Over the years we saw President Yushchenko poisoned. Then Yanukovych took over. Then there were the shootings in Maidan, Russian provocateurs working with President Yanukovych killing Ukrainians. After Maidan, there was the election when Poroshenko was elected president. He came to Canada and spoke to Parliament in the House. The member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman and the member for Abbotsford built an incredible relationship with the president of Ukraine. For him to come to Canada as one of his first state visits identified the wonderful relationship we had with Ukraine.
I want to thank the government for now moving ahead and ratifying this very important agreement. That shows support to Ukraine. It is a benefit to Ukraine and to Canada. Again, I thank all of those who have done so much work.
More needs to happen. The fix for Ukraine is not won. There is no one secret thing that we can do to support Ukraine as it is protects itself in a defensive mode from the attacks from Russia, wanting to take the eastern part of Ukraine. We need to continue in our support of Ukraine. How do we do that?
Russian aggression has to be identified for what it is. The House will be voting shortly on Bill C-306. Over generations, there have been Russian attacks, from Stalin on, against Crimean Tatars. It meets the definition of genocide. Therefore, Bill C-306 asks Parliament to show Ukraine its support and call genocide what it is in the face of the Crimean Tatars. I hope every member in the House will do the right thing.
The other thing is increasing youth mobility. We need Ukrainian interns to continue to come to Canada and work so they can learn how Parliament is to function, not learn from our bad examples, but from good examples, so they can build a strong, prosperous country. We also need to fund PTSD training so those who struggle from the Russian attacks will be able to get the appropriate treatment. If we train them how to fish, they can fish. If we train them how to treat PTSD, they can meet those needs within their country, which are so important.
I am available to answer questions, but in the interest of time, I would ask members in the House not to ask me any questions so the member for Lakeland will be able to have her time. We are all anxious to hear her speak.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, obviously investor-state resolution processes are important, although it should be noted that if a country does treat foreign nationals in a way that is arbitrary, it can either use the resolution process or it can go to a court. It is important to recognize that here