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View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
2020-02-06 13:20 [p.1021]
Madam Speaker, first and foremost, I want to thank the Conservatives for making it possible for me to participate in today's debate. I was not supposed to speak, but they allowed me to, so I thank them for that. There is co-operation in the House, which I think bodes well for the rest of the 43rd Parliament, because it will make it easier to move forward on issues.
Incidentally, I will warn my colleagues that I am going to talk about aluminum. I do not know if they are aware of this issue, but there has been some discussion about it lately.
Before I address the House this afternoon, I thought I would do some math for the benefit of all my colleagues. The Bloc Québécois has risen in the House nearly 90 times since the beginning of this Parliament to ask the government to explain to us and to the public why the aluminum sector has received less protection in the CUSMA than the steel sector.
I tried to count the number of satisfactory responses we received. I tallied it up, with the help of hard-working researchers. Unfortunately, the answer is zero. We did not get any satisfactory answers. Instead, we have had a lot of talking points, each one more laughable than the last.
We have been told that 70% is better than zero, even though they know full well that this percentage applies to auto parts and not the metal used to manufacture them. I would like the government to know that 70% of zero is still zero. It is simple math.
Another talking point we have been treated to states that the Aluminium Association of Canada, the AAC, supports the agreement. We are well aware that the AAC represents multinationals and not workers. Jean Simard of the AAC appeared before the finance committee as recently as Tuesday and explained that he would have really preferred to see aluminum get the same protection as steel. This talking point is also laughable.
Still another talking point is that we should listen to Premier Legault. We know full well that not since Pierre Elliot Trudeau's government has there been a Canadian federal government so at odds with Quebec.
The most amusing talking point, however, tells us that U.S. President Trump did not originally want an agreement and that CUSMA is therefore a win. We are well aware that Mexico was responsible for dropping the protection for aluminum because it benefits from the dumping of Asian aluminum.
Since we did not get a proper answer to our question, we suggested that the answer might lie in the fact that most of the steel industry is in Ontario. Otherwise, the agreement would have been different. That is irrefutable evidence. However, all we got was radio silence. Have we perhaps found the smoking gun? I am not sure, but I think so.
While Ottawa ties itself in knots trying to justify its mistakes, unions, residents and politicians in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region have rallied around a consensus, namely that Quebec's aluminum is the greenest in the world, that it helps communities that have been hurt by Canada's many trade disputes thrive, and that our people make it worth fighting for.
Since the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord has chosen not to stand with us, we are the only party in the House that has been pushing for a broadly supported, transpartisan proposal on aluminum since day one of this amendment. That is why we do not need to ask Jean Simard whether he thinks the agreement will directly deprive our economy of $6 billion. We believe it will because it is a fact that is quantified in a non-partisan study conducted by experts using a flawless methodology, which we have provided to all parties. I hope everyone has done their homework.
It seems clear to me that CUSMA will ultimately protect China's aluminum industry instead of North America's. China smelts 60% of all of the aluminum in the world. Quebec essentially produces all of the aluminum in Canada, and this aluminum accounts for 6% or 7%.
What would it cost the federal government to protect such a critical industry in Quebec that is struggling around the world? Since the Deputy Prime Minister launched into a flood of figures the other day, I want to give her some important data to factor into her responses in the future.
Six key investment projects are at stake: phase 3 of the Alouette aluminum smelter in Sept-Îles; phases 1-B, 1-C, 2 and 3 of the AP-60 aluminum smelter in Jonquière; and phase 2 of the billet casting centre in my riding, in Alma.
Some $6.242 billion will be lost in the construction industry, simply because this government did not protect North America's primary aluminum market. We will lose 30,539 direct jobs in the construction industry, indirect jobs with suppliers and induced jobs in the consumer sector. We are talking about 829,000 new tonnes of the greenest aluminum on earth. The worst is that, according to the terms of the agreement, we will have to wait 10 years to renegotiate including the aluminum sector in CUSMA. There is one more figure.
The Quebec economy, and therefore Canada's economy, will lose $1 billion in spending. If you multiply that by 10, you get $10 billion. I will do the math for the government and tell them that it will ultimately cost $16.242 billion in communities that need this money.
The worst part of this agreement is that the 70% “protection” for aluminum parts will sanction aluminum dumping from Asia. If we agree to the terms of the agreement without saying or doing anything, manufacturers will be able to proudly stamp “Hecho en Norte America” and “Fabriqué en Amérique du Nord” on Chinese aluminum.
When we started, it was said that the Bloc was alone on the issue of aluminum. Now, when I look on this side of the House, and on the other side, I see that a number of my distinguished colleagues are now on the same page as us. The NDP and the Conservatives are now more or less sharing our concern for the aluminum sector and the tens of thousands of families that depend on it. I am happy, because the only ones now alone on the issue of aluminum are the Liberals.
Something else has affected me since this debate in the House began. Things have been said that are not acceptable in this House and that hurts me deeply. Last week, the hon. member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook said, "I know there is the issue of parts, but with all due respect, the group of people who came to Ottawa yesterday certainly did not stop in Quebec City." He said it in a tone that was supposed to be humorous.
In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, people have come together to form a regional movement. Civil society, aluminum workers and elected municipal representatives have genuine concerns. The study that was tabled now justifies those concerns. This is no joking matter.
These people are rallying together and coming to Ottawa to tell us that they have concerns and that they are worried for their region, their jobs, their families and their children, and the government is responding with jokes. The government is making fun of them by saying that they should have gone to Quebec City rather than coming Ottawa. Even if the member said, “with all due respect”, I think he did exactly the opposite. He showed a lack of respect for them. Regardless of the topic of debate, we will not agree on everything. However, demonstrating a lack of respect for citizens is unacceptable.
I have a note on my bedside table. The first thing I see when I get up in the morning is, “Who do you work for?” I work for my constituents.
I hope to have elevated the debate.
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