Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand again to speak to the new NAFTA. I appreciate the Liberal Party giving me some time to speak about this.
When I left off, I was talking about investor-state dispute settlement and my appreciation that this part of NAFTA was removed. I know it will take three years for it to be completely removed and that some corporations will still be able to use that provision against Canadian laws and policies that get in the way of their profits.
I think it is time to get rid of investor-state provisions in all our trade agreements. It is undemocratic, and it undermines our sovereignty. As we have seen in many cases, such as in Bilcon v. Canada, three arbitration lawyers, whose only interest is keeping the system going, sit in a room and make decisions on our environmental assessment process.
In Bilcon v. Canada, there was a proposed quarry at Digby Neck. The community came out and experts came out and talked about the problems with the quarry. It was an area where the endangered North Atlantic right whales had their calving grounds. There was tourism for whale watching. There was lobster fishing. The community did not want the quarry. When the environmental assessment review panel ruled against Bilcon, after years of environmental assessments, Bilcon was able to take the dispute to a NAFTA panel. Bilcon wanted $470 million. It walked away with $7 million. That is outrageous. Using these kinds of processes to challenge our laws and policies is antithetical to democracy.
Investor-state provisions are being used in developing countries to force through extraction projects or to make developing countries pay through the nose.
A good example of this is Crystallex, a Canadian mining development company. It challenged Venezuela using investor-state provisions after Venezuela decided, on behalf of its indigenous population, that the Crystallex mine would not be in the interest of the indigenous population. It was a threat to the environment. Tenor Capital paid for the arbitration lawyers and invested $30 million. Crystallex ended up getting $1.2 billion in a settlement in this investor-state dispute, and Tenor Capital walked away with a 1,000% return, or $300 million. It is obscene.
I could give members example after example of these kinds of situations. I am glad this is out of NAFTA.
I am also glad to see that the proportionality clause is gone. Under this clause, we had to continue to export the same amount of energy to the United States, on average, as we had in the previous three years.
However, as I was saying earlier, there are a few things that disappoint me about the new NAFTA.
First is the extension of biological patents for pharmaceutical drugs. This is important for products like insulin and for people who have Crohn's disease. People are already struggling with the cost of pharmaceutical drugs. We need drug costs to come down. We must have a national pharmacare program rather than more money for big pharma.
Second is article 22, the carve-out for the Trans Mountain expansion. It looks to me as though it will continue to be a state-owned corporation, which is concerning.
Third is having bovine growth hormone in the American milk and dairy products we will import.
I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to the bill.