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View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2020-02-03 13:33 [p.815]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak about the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement.
After a long and gruelling process, it is great that we have arrived where we are. Parliamentarians now have the chance to review this new agreement and ensure that free trade with our continental partners continues to benefit all Canadians.
Hundreds of thousands of Canadian jobs rely on this international trade, and the North American Free Trade Agreement has been a critically important component of that trade. In fact, one in five Canadians who have jobs in Canada have them as a result of this agreement.
However, there is merit in occasionally updating agreements like NAFTA. There are always going to be things changing, new developments that require reviewing and adjusting existing agreements, but with respect to this latest renegotiation, it seems that the Prime Minister was just a little too eager to open things up when he stated that he was more than happy to renegotiate NAFTA with incoming president Donald Trump.
It was something of a shock when the Prime Minister voluntarily submitted Canada to this renegotiation when it was widely known that the U.S. was primarily concerned with the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. Canada was suddenly drawn into what would become a long and tumultuous couple of years of negotiating. Thankfully, we seem to have arrived near the end of this stage.
I know that those on the negotiating team put in extensive hours, and for that I want to thank our officials and bureaucrats for the efforts they have contributed. I realize that they are handcuffed and restricted from using the tools and environment in which they are working. However, I am confident that they worked tirelessly and that they did their best to make as good a deal for Canada as they could.
Frustratingly, along the way there were some serious missteps that made this process even more difficult. For example, let us take the time that the Prime Minister went to New York City, President Trump's hometown, to deliver a commencement speech at a university. Naturally, he took some time for a photo op, which was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine during this visit. I do not ever expect to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, but I am sure that is quite an accomplishment. To further exacerbate the situation, the article in Rolling Stone magazine portrayed the Prime Minister as an opponent of the president, making the whole trip seem like it was nothing more than an opportunity to poke the President of the United States in the eye. Why would the Prime Minister risk insulting the president right in the middle of tough negotiations with his country when Canadian jobs were on the line?
I have had the opportunity to negotiate many deals in business over the years. I have learned over the years that the best way to make a good deal is to make a connection with the person we are dealing with, develop a relationship of mutual trust and respect and not to try to provoke and intimidate the person and think that we will end up walking away with a fair and equitable deal.
Understandably, the missteps and challenges of this renegotiation have left the agreement with certain shortfalls. I am talking about the Liberals' sellout of our supply management farmers and aluminum producers. Then there were the missed opportunities, such as failing to address the softwood lumber dispute, failing to respond to the buy America clause and failing to move to update the list of professionals eligible for temporary business entry to reflect the 21st century economy, just to name a few examples.
When President Trump signed the agreement at the White House last week, he called the CUSMA the “largest, fairest, most balanced and modern trade agreement ever achieved.” In Canada, the Liberals have not used that same terminology, and I do not think that they appear nearly as confident that we got an agreement that is as fair, balanced and modern as they would have liked. I think that this recognition shows in the way they comment on this particular agreement.
Despite these realities, with Canada's economy slowing and vulnerable, a lack of access to U.S. markets would further weaken business investments and exports. Free trade with our southern neighbour represents opportunities for all Canadians, and we need to embrace those opportunities even as we work to resolve the problems the Liberals have created with this agreement.
Here on this side of the House, the Conservative Party is proud to be the party of trade. It was of course a Conservative government that developed the first free trade agreement with the United States in the first place, generating increased economic activity and jobs for the last few decades.
The United States is our largest trading partner, with roughly $2 billion in bilateral trade per day crossing our international borders. This represents 75% of all Canadian exports. In fact, since the time NAFTA was introduced, more than five million jobs have been created. The total trilateral trade, when we include Mexico, has increased fourfold, to $1.2 trillion annually. Therefore, the Conservatives recognize there is a lot of potential for continued growth, continued investment and continued prosperity with a strong agreement in place.
Like all Canadians, I want the best deal for our families, the best deal for our workers and the best deal for our businesses. Having a free trade agreement in place is important, but it has to do right by Canadians. After the Liberal mismanagement, the reality is that the CUSMA will cost taxpayer money. We need to now ensure that the sectors and industries in areas of our economy and businesses that have been left behind by this agreement have a soft landing.
Allow me for a moment to speak about supply management, for example, for dairy, chicken, eggs, egg products, turkey and broiler hatching eggs.
My riding in Manitoba is home to the largest concentration of supply management farmers in the province. It goes without saying that these folks really are not just farmers. They are pillars in southeast Manitoba communities. They are heavily involved in communities. They are employers. They are what make my constituency of Provencher the most generous constituency in all of Canada when we look at Statistics Canada's numbers for charitable donations, second only to Abbotsford. We are very proud.
Part of the success of being noted as a very charitable riding comes from the fact that our supply management sector contributes heavily to that. However, these folks, unfortunately, have been left behind by the Liberal government. The Liberals agreed to open up 3.6% of the Canadian market to increase dairy imports in this new agreement. That is more than what was even agreed to under the TPP.
When it comes to supply management, we need to remember that under the TPP, the United States was part of that access into our markets. Instead of backing that out when the Americans withdrew from the TPP agreement and we eventually signed the CPTPP, we left that market access in for Asian countries. Now, in addition to that, the Americans have tacked on additional 3.6% market access, really taking that market away from our Canadian producers. I am sure our supply management folks do not view this as a new and improved NAFTA agreement.
Under the CUSMA, Canada will adopt tariff rate quotas providing U.S. dairy farmers with access to Canada's dairy market. That includes milk, concentrated milk and milk powders, cream and cream powder, buttermilk and even ice cream. The CUSMA also dictates specific thresholds for Canadian milk protein concentrates, skim milk and infant formula. When export thresholds for these are exceeded, Canada will be obligated to add duties to the exports that are in excess, making them even more expensive.
Our dairy farmers have anticipated annual losses of $190 million, an additional $50 million on export caps. On top of that, our dairy processors have estimated that their losses will be $300 million to $350 million annually. That is significant and is a lot of money that needs to be made up.
Our chicken farmers are going to experience challenges as well. Under the new agreement, Canada will allow 47,000 metric tons of chicken to enter the country duty-free from the United States. That begins in the very first year, once the deal has been ratified, and will increase to almost 63,000 metric tons annually of chicken coming in from the United States.
The Conservatives are, nonetheless, a party of free trade and we need to find a path forward. A majority of major industry associations want the House to ratify the deal. No one was really looking for these changes, but we are faced with them regardless. I am certainly very clear-eyed looking at the contents of a new CUSMA, but the importance of free trade to so many industries and so many jobs in the country means we simply cannot walk away.
The Conservatives will be there to hold the Liberals accountable and ensure that those negatively impacted by this agreement will have the tools they need to succeed in the aftermath.
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