Madam Speaker, we involved stakeholders and worked with many interested partners to make sure that as many valuable voices were added to the discussion as possible.
These deals require effort. They require collaboration and serious discussion. These are things that Conservatives are very committed to, and we wish it had been the same in this scenario.
President Trump said that the deal was negotiated entirely on his terms, and sadly I have to agree with him. The United States had extensive conversations with Mexico and they worked out a deal. Then they invited Canada to the table. Basically they said, “Sign or don't sign; it is your choice.” Canada signed, but we were not included in the negotiations due to poor negotiating tactics on the part of the government.
I would argue that the Liberal government, which had an obligation to negotiate in the best interest of Canadians, dropped the ball in this case. The Liberals made concession after concession and eventually capitulated to the United States and Mexico. What we have is a deal that will leave us with more barriers, more red tape and more obstacles for Canadian businesses to overcome. It will end up costing taxpayers more, because in order to make up for the failures of the government's negotiation, we will need to assist sectors that were left out of the deal.
We understand that most industry associations and chambers in Canada want this deal to be ratified. We understand that the premiers have put forward a letter asking that it be ratified. While we understand the importance of a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, we also know that in this place it is our responsibility as legislators to put it through due process.
The fact is that Canada backed down on far too many things.
The government backed down on the automotive sector, giving Donald Trump exactly what he wanted: limits on how many cars Canada can export to the United States.
The government also backed down on dairy, again giving Trump exactly what he wanted: more market share for American exporters and less business for Canadians. In fact, arguably one of the biggest losers of the USMCA is dairy, as 3.6% of the Canadian market is now open to imports. The deal also specifies thresholds for exports anywhere in the world for certain dairy products. If the industry grows or if there is a surplus of these products, Canada must add duties to the exports, making them more expensive and less competitive.
The government also backed down on pharmaceuticals, giving Trump, again, exactly what he wanted. That means higher prices and bigger profits for American drug companies, and less for Canadians.
Another sector that was not successfully advocated for is aluminum. The rules of origin used for steel were not agreed to when it came to aluminum, which has left the industry wondering why not.
When it comes to temporary entry for business people, the list of professionals in chapter 16 failed to be updated to bring it into the 21st century. Why would we not take advantage of the opportunity to do that? That seems obvious.
For all these concessions, Canada was unable to win anything significant in return. Buy American provisions still remain in place, thus shutting Canadian companies out from bidding on American government contracts. Unfair and illegal tariffs still remain on softwood lumber. Forestry workers are going through a tough time, and it is because the government, quite frankly, failed to negotiate this deal well.
If those capitulations are not bad enough, Canada also signed a clause that prevents us from entering into trade negotiations with non-market economies, such as China, Vietnam and Brazil, without first gaining big brother's approval. The United States and ultimately Donald Trump have veto power in terms of how we move forward in our trade agreements.
Furthermore, with regard to the sunset clause, it is 16 years out. When we first entered into this deal as a country, the Prime Minister made it really clear that a sunset clause was not even going to be an option, yet he signed off on one. After 16 years this deal will be done away with if a new negotiation is not done. This creates great uncertainty in our economy.
Of course the government has pushed back, saying that is not the case, but as Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and adviser, said in his published article, “It is imperative that the United States retain leverage in any of our trading relationships”. Thus, the sunset clause was put in. This is about the United States and its betterment, not about Canadians and our well-being.
Considering the magnitude of this trade deal, it is important that people do not get left behind. The United States does remain our largest trading partner, with $2 billion of trade passing across our border each and every day. This represents about 75% of all Canadian exports, and NAFTA has created more than five million jobs, which is amazing. These things are worth celebrating.
Free trade must continue. We just wish the deal Canada got would have been a little better.
Despite the fact that those in the House are being asked to vote for this legislation, it should be noted there is still a fair bit of uncertainty. The government has still not released the economic impact statement, and many industries are unclear as to how NAFTA will impact them. These are important considerations that should be brought before the House and to committee. There are considerations that industry stakeholders should be allowed to take under advisement. Yes, we have a deal, but could it have been better? Ultimately, yes, it could have been much better.
With that said, I believe this bill should move forward to committee, where it can be studied further and industry stakeholders can be invited to have a voice at the table. My hope would be that the government would release the economic impact statement so it can be thoroughly studied and the government can be held accountable, so that Canada can ultimately move forward in a way that is beneficial to all Canadians.