Madam Speaker, as it is my first time rising in the House in debate, I would be remiss if I did not thank the wonderful constituents of the riding of Saint John—Rothesay for re-electing me and sending me back to this beautiful House and this beautiful city to represent them. It was a hard-fought campaign.
I want to thank and congratulate other candidates like Rodney Weston, Armand Cormier and Ann McAlllister for offering spirited debate and great dialogue throughout the campaign. Again, it is an honour to be back here.
I was looking at some records the other day, and I have been in Ottawa almost 600 nights over the last four and a half years. Everybody recognizes the large commitment we all make and the time that we take away from our families. I want to recognize my beautiful wife Denise and my sons Khristian and Konnor for supporting me, putting up with me and standing with me over the last four and a half years.
I want to thank my wonderful campaign team: my co-campaign managers Kevin Collins and Nora Robinson; and last but not least, Jeannette Arsenault and my wonderful office staff for doing great things for the riding, representing my constituents.
It is an honour to rise tonight to speak to Bill C-4, an act to implement the agreement between Canada, the United States and the United Mexican States.
I would like to begin by thanking the hon. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs for her outstanding work in negotiating the new North American Free Trade Agreement, known as the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, or CUSMA, with the United States and Mexico. It is thanks to her hard work, leadership, vision and perseverance that we now have a modernized and improved free trade agreement with our North American partners.
As the member of Parliament for Saint John—Rothesay, I represent a riding with an economy dependent on international trade and, as a result, thousands of workers in my riding depend on their elected representatives to ensure Canada's trading agreements protect their jobs, rights and environment. This is why I am proud to stand here today to speak in support of legislation that intends to implement a modernized NAFTA, which contains unprecedented measures to protect the well-paying jobs of workers in my riding, whose jobs depend on trade with the United States and Mexico, ensure labour standards are upheld and protect the environment.
Before my previous life in hockey, I was involved for 15 years in international trade and business with an aquaculture company. I travelled the world and extensively throughout the United States. If anybody knows the value of a trade agreement, of lowering barriers, lowering and eliminating tariffs and creating an environment of free and open trade, I certainly do. It produces thousands of jobs in my riding and hundreds of thousands of jobs right across the country.
Saint John is a key node in Canada's global trade network. The port of Saint John is Canada's third-busiest seaport and eastern Canada's largest port by volume. It serves Canada's largest oil refinery, the Irving Oil refinery, and handles a diverse cargo base. It handles an average of 28 million metric tons of cargo annually, including dry and liquid bulks, break bulk and containers originating from and destined to ports all over the world.
My riding is also home to a second world headquarters, Cooke Aquaculture Inc., an international aquaculture firm that employs thousands of people, has sales in the billions of the dollars and was started by the Cooke family. Glenn, Mike and their father Gifford live literally 35 minutes from my office. It is a success story that is an example of leadership.
Our port is also in the midst of a historic expansion. It is currently undertaking a $205-million modernization of its west-side cargo terminal. This transformational trade infrastructure project was made possible by the $68.3-million investment by our federal government. In addition, CP Rail announced in November that it will begin serving the port of Saint John as it has purchased close to 800 kilometres of track which runs from Saint John deep into the state of Maine. This means that the port of Saint John will soon be connected to both of Canada's class I railways.
The new NAFTA, which our government is seeking to implement with the bill before us, would ensure that the port of Saint John is able to fully leverage its expansion and the incredible opportunity by preserving our tariff-free access to the American market and ensuring that the other North American ports it competes with comply with the same rigorous environmental standards as it does when it comes to preventing marine pollution through its enforceable environmental chapter.
I am thrilled to tell members that New Brunswick is on the cusp of becoming an international leader in manufacturing and export of small modular nuclear reactors. In 2018, ARC Nuclear Canada and Moltex Energy established offices in Saint John when the provincial government announced its nuclear innovation cluster funding for which they were both chosen as participants. With this announcement, the province of New Brunswick instantly became a climate change policy leader for Canada with the development of SMRs. Since that time, ARC and Moltex have proceeded with purpose to develop their technologies with the goal of eventually establishing a manufacturing export hub for their technologies in our province by leveraging the port of Saint John.
SMRs can employ thousands of people across New Brunswick. Also, if members want to talk about reducing a carbon footprint, SMRs could be used across the country in every province. The new NAFTA would ensure that our province is able to fully leverage this incredible opportunity to grow our economy and tackle climate change by ensuring that we continue with tariff-free access to the American and Mexican markets. As well, it would ensure that our SMR technology companies do not have to compete against companies in other North American jurisdictions that do not have to comply with rigorous environmental standards for air and marine pollution through its enforceable environmental chapter.
This agreement also includes an unprecedented enforcement provision when it comes to labour standards to address, in a timely manner, labour violations relative to collective bargaining and freedom of association. The agreement also includes innovation mechanisms for rapid response between Canada and Mexico and between the United States and Mexico.
To close, as I mentioned previously, I was in international trade for 15 years and I know what it means to have an agreement that reduces tariffs and barriers and promotes free trade. It is crucial to the success of business. It is crucial to the growth of business. It is crucial to the development of business.
I am proud to stand behind this bill. I am proud to support it. I know first-hand that Canadians appreciate what we have done. I can certainly speak for the world leaders, constituents, unions and businesses in my riding who stand with me in support of this new bill.