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View Marilène Gill Profile
View Marilène Gill Profile
2020-01-31 13:41 [p.784]
Madam Speaker, this is the first time that I rise to speak in this Parliament.
I would like to sincerely thank the constituents of Manicouagan for putting their trust in me and electing me for another term. I would also like to thank the team that supported me over the past months: my family, my spouse, my three children—Loïc, Charlotte and Ulysse—my friends, the people who work with me and those who wish to serve the North Shore with dignity, integrity and energy to advance the development of our region and Quebec. I will tackle all the challenges entrusted to me by the people of the North Shore and Quebeckers with humility and respect, as well as with conviction and determination.
Today we are debating a bill that could significantly affect the Quebec economy for the next decade or more. Bill C-4 will have major repercussions for Quebec, especially because of the large volume of Quebec exports to the United States.
We have been doing business with the Americans for over three centuries and, more often than not, our trade relationship has been beneficial to Quebec's economic development. In fact, almost 70% of our exports go to our neighbours to the south. New York state alone receives about 10% of all our world exports, as does the small state of Kentucky, which has a population of 4 million.
Given how important a free trade agreement is to Quebec's economic future, each member of the House has a duty to take the time to carefully examine all the details of the agreement and to ensure that all its victims have a forum to tell us about the harmful consequences that passing Bill C-4 will have on their industry.
It is only natural to want a “full, frank, and vigorous debate”, as the Deputy Prime Minister said. To think that we do not need serious, legitimate and therefore necessary discussions about the negative impacts of Bill C-4 on Quebec and its regions, on the stability of international trade, on unfair import practices and on the environment shows a lack of respect for Quebec voters and for workers in the dairy and aluminum industries.
I will focus on aluminum workers in particular, not just because there are two smelters in my riding, including the biggest smelter in America, but also because I can foresee the impact that the agreement will have on my constituents.
We are talking about aluminum because this economic sector is crucial for Quebec. The North Shore, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and Quebec need good jobs in order to prosper. However, in its current form, the agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico places no less than 60,000 aluminum sector jobs in jeopardy.
We will all agree that the government can hardly claim to be looking after Quebec's economic development if it accepts, without any serious negotiation, a free trade agreement that may seriously jeopardize six major projects in Quebec's aluminum sector representing $6.2 billion in investments, according to an impact study carried out by Groupe Performance Stratégique. The study estimates that these private investments could generate more than $16 billion in economic spinoffs from 2020 to 2029. That is $16 billion that Quebec would have to go without for the next 10 years.
It is important to understand that the only reason these investments in Quebec are in jeopardy is that the government failed to take Quebeckers' interests into consideration when it signed this agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Perhaps the government does not fully appreciate the importance of regional development and land use. Although the Prime Minister claims he secured guarantees that 70% of the aluminum parts used in automobile production in North America must be from North America, the fact remains that he did not bother to also ensure, as he did for steel, that the aluminum content in those parts would also come from North America. Worse still, he is playing games with the figures, which is just misleading.
The Prime Minister's carelessness and lack of faith in the intelligence of voters is leaving the door wide open for Mexican auto parts plants to import aluminum from China, even though Canadian and U.S. courts have determined that Chinese aluminum was being dumped.
As written, CUSMA makes it possible for Chinese aluminum to flood the North American market, even though Canada and the United States have anti-dumping duties in place. Chinese aluminum needs only to be processed in Mexico in order to circumvent the protections we have collectively put in place. In other words, we could wind up with car parts that are supposedly North American but in fact contain “made in China” aluminum.
For free trade to be truly free and profitable for everyone, we must make unfair trade practices such as dumping impossible.
Allowing car parts made with Chinese aluminum to be considered North American in origin is an insult to Quebec's expertise in the aluminum sector, especially since our aluminum is the greenest in the world. The Liberals seem to think that Chinese aluminum is Quebec aluminum. Just ask Quebeckers if they agree. It is absurd.
Primary aluminum produced in Quebec releases 67% less greenhouse gas than aluminum produced in the Middle East and 76% less than Chinese aluminum. Why would a government taking steps to close coal-fired power plants in Canada be so supportive of Chinese aluminum when 90% of the electricity used to produce it comes from coal? That makes no sense.
Providing aluminum the same protection as steel is not just an economic decision. It is a political one.
If the government had given any consideration at all to Quebec's interests, its economy, its regions and its workers, it would never have signed an agreement whose every concession is detrimental to Quebec. If the Prime Minister's team is really working for Quebeckers, it should fight for Quebec as vigorously as it fought for Ontario steel.
It is unacceptable to the Bloc Québécois that every single concession in the free trade agreement should be made at the expense of key sectors of Quebec's economy, and as such, even though it supports free trade, the Bloc Québécois cannot support Bill C-4. The Bloc encourages hon. members to not blindly accept a bill that is deeply unfair to Quebeckers.
If Quebec had negotiated the agreement, it would have negotiated it in its own interest and never would have compromised the growth of key sectors of its economy.
We are talking about my riding and my constituents. Hon. members will agree that we cannot allow the government to sacrifice aluminum workers back home just to satisfy Ontario's economic interests. The Bloc Québécois is the only party that is truly standing up for the interests of Quebeckers, and I am one.
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