Madam Speaker, this situation reminds me of a story of when I was young. It was my parents' anniversary. My father came home and my little sister looked at my father and yelled, “Roses, roses.”
My mother was behind me modestly smiling and my father presented my mother with a beautiful bouquet of tulips. My mother was a little disappointed as she had wanted roses, but instead received tulips. In this moment, she decided, similar to this agreement, that it was good enough.
There has been a big debate within the Conservative caucus that this is not a great deal, as the previous speaker indicated. We have lost a lot. Why is that? Let us look at it for a moment.
There was a memo written by a prime minister, as published in the National Post, which indicated three reasons. The first is the inconsistency we have seen within negotiations and taking strong stances without thinking that the President of the United States might cancel NAFTA, which certainly the opposition felt was a very real possibility, as well as all Canadians.
It was the government's decision to work almost overwhelmingly agreeably in the beginning with Mexico. I joked, desearía estar Obrador. I would love to be Obrador in this moment with Canada wanting to work so closely. In fact, it was quoted as, “the U.S. is both irked and mystified by the Liberals’ unwavering devotion to Mexico”, rather than Canada and Canadians. That is the second part.
The third, of course, is that it was a criticism of the Liberals for pursuing their progressive trade policies in these talks. Did they really think that somehow they would force the Trump administration into enacting their entire agenda on union power, climate change, aboriginal claims and gender issues? While the Canadian government was doing that, the Americans were laying down their real demands, and we got outmanoeuvred and out-negotiated, as my previous colleague mentioned.
Let us look at the things we lost. My colleague also touched upon that, but I will remind members again that on aluminum, we were not afforded the same provisions as steel. On dairy, 3.6% of the Canadian market opened up to imports. The accord now dictates specific thresholds for Canadian exports of milk protein concentrates, skim milk powder and infant formula. If the export threshold is exceeded, Canada adds duties to the exports in excess to make them even more expensive. Also, within dairy, we have seen milk classes 6 and 7 eliminated.
As well, the temporary entry for business persons has not been updated to reflect the new economy. As someone who studied in the States, I certainly have an appreciation for the J-1 visa. Then, of course, there is the H-1B visa. As my colleague recognized, Buy America was absolutely not addressed, another way we were outmanoeuvred.
Finally, auto rules of origin were ignored and I will add that forestry was as well, which my colleague expanded on quite significantly. The softwood lumber dispute was not even addressed during the negotiations. The following quote says it very well, “The United States is measuring this deal by what they gained.” Our Deputy Prime Minister “is measuring it by what [s]he didn't give up.” That is not good enough at all.
Conservatives feel we have a duty to support this bill at second reading on behalf of Canadians. Canadians would certainly be better with it than without it, but even the commentary around it is very lukewarm. If we look at the commentary from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, it states, “The CUSMA...was an imperfect but necessary agreement to provide greater predictability in our relations with Canada’s largest trading partner.” That is not very enthusiastic.
In addition, my good friend and colleague Goldy Hyder with the Business Council of Canada said that the new NAFTA is, as my mother thought the tulips were, “good enough” for Canada, something that “gets us through this administration.”
I will now refer to the Deputy Prime Minister's letter to Canadians. It states, “We faced a series of unprecedented trade actions from the United States. It was a protectionist barrage unlike any Canada has faced before.” I wonder why that is. “This national consensus is remarkable.” Yes, that this deal is okay. “That said, there is a reason why more than 75 per cent of Canadians support ratification of this agreement.” I would argue that it is fear and resignation.
Who are the winners? As my previous colleague mentioned, President Trump. This is clearly one for the president.
He got a legit, comprehensive deal done with two foreign countries and Democrats, who are currently trying to impeach him. He can also say he delivered on a key campaign promise: to renegotiate or “terminate” NAFTA. The deal should be a positive for the U.S. economy, another boost in an already improving economic picture for 2020. It also gives him confidence and momentum in his trade battle with China.
This, of course, is the reason we have the special committee.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi played this right. She made the decision to focus on the one issue of labour rights rather than asking for an overwhelming barrage of a number of interests. We were really outplayed there, without question.
It is said in this Washington Post article that USMCA will “create 176,000 new jobs in the United States”. Congratulations to the U.S. I wish we could say the same.
What did it say about Canada? It said, “The Canadians managed not to cave too much to Trump.” That is pretty sad. That is hardly good enough. The paper went on to explain all of the things that we lost, which is very unfortunate, because there are a lot.
Why are we pushed into a corner on deals such as this? It is because the Liberal government has no clear foreign policy strategy based on consistent values like the previous Conservative government had, and we have absolutely seen this consistently.
In 2017, the Prime Minister promised to lead Canada into a new era of international engagement. He said his foreign policies would focus on improving Canada's commitments to multilateralism, human rights, the rule of law and effective diplomacy. But when it comes to foreign policy, the Liberal government has fumbled every single step of the way. It has conducted its foreign affairs, including this trade agreement, with style over substance.
We could go on and on: the Prime Minister's disastrous trip to India, the concessions he made here and his government's inability to bring home two Canadians arbitrarily detained in China. All of this has done everything to damage Canada's reputation on the world stage and our relationship with trade partners.
Rather than following proven approaches to diplomacy, the Prime Minister has chosen to rely on social media and this has absolutely hurt Canada.
The Deputy Prime Minister has also done this. She irresponsibly tweeted about civil society and the imprisonment of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia responded by freezing all of its investments in Canada and expelling our ambassador. As a result, Canada was left with zero ability to influence Saudi Arabia on human rights.
The Prime Minister has failed to deliver the new era in Canadian international engagement that he promised. Canada's inaction and lack of strategy when it comes to major players has allowed these countries to expand their spheres of influence around the globe. Make no mistake, others are watching, including Donald Trump. Being a good ally and contributor on the world stage requires more than just talk. Strength and confidence are respected.
It is time to renew Canada's reputation globally, promote the values that we stand for and assert our sovereignty as a nation once more, which we did not do in the negotiation of this agreement.
Canadians deserve better than “good enough”. Would we have surgery by a doctor who is “good enough”? Would we fly on a plane with a pilot who is “good enough”? Canadians deserve a principled, well-thought-out foreign policy, but the Liberal government is not delivering it. We care about the Canadian people, the dairy worker, the auto worker, the rig worker and their families. That is why we are supporting this at second reading to send it to committee. Canadians deserve better than “good enough”.