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View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak to Bill C-4, an act to implement the agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States.
We must ask parliamentarians to come together and join our partners in the United States and Mexico and ratify this agreement. We need to ratify it expeditiously and ensure certainty for businesses and, more important, ensure certainty for employees across this beautiful country we call home. It is of paramount importance.
I recommend all my colleagues and all Canadians watching read the economic impact assessment on the new NAFTA, the CUSMA. I will read some of the preamble, which states:
The final CUSMA outcome effectively achieved Canada’s overarching objectives by preserving key elements of NAFTA, modernizing and updating the Agreement to support Canada’s access to and integration with the North American economy, providing important stability and predictability with respect to overall market access, and addressing the harmful impacts of U.S. Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, as well as threats of similar tariffs on automobiles and auto parts.
I am sharing my time today with my hon. colleague, friend and mentor, the hon. member for Humber River—Black Creek.
Two aspects of the agreement need to be highlighted as we begin the debate in the House. These are of paramount importance to the New Democratic Party, the Conservatives, the Greens, the Bloc and the Liberals.
The first is that this would ensure Canada's trading partners in North America would maintain high levels of labour and environmental protection. This agreement has bipartisan support in the United States between Democrats and Republicans. It has been ratified already by the United States and Mexico. It has support from our major unions in Canada, Unifor, Canadian Labour Congress. The agreement is a win for the environment. It is a win for labour. It is a win for hard-working middle-class Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It is a win for our businesses to help grow our economy and keep it moving forward.
Second, the agreement would strengthen the state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism between parties and would ensure that disputes would be settled in an effective and efficient manner. This is all contained in the impact assessment that was done by Global Affairs. It is a great read, is quite insightful and it provides an overview of where we will go with this agreement and how it will benefit all three trading partners and their workers.
We all know we live in a world that is currently seeing a lot of uncertainty with COVID-19. I want to express my sincere appreciation and full support to our health professionals in Canada and across the world who are on the front lines of the situation we are facing. I pray for them and thank them again for what they do.
Many of my colleagues will know that I am economist by training. I worked globally in Toronto, New York City and spent time in Europe before I entered politics. In my view, Canada, its workers and businesses are well positioned to handle the evolving economic environment or landscape. As a country, we will continue to succeed and grow as a people and our economy. We will continue to create jobs.
I witnessed first-hand the tech boom and bust, the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, which at one point our U.S. neighbours to the south were losing several hundred thousands jobs a month. Thankfully coordinated action by the Federal Reserve, under Ben Bernanke, central bankers everywhere and policies pursued by the Obama administration staved off what I believe would have been a second global depression.
As parliamentarians, we must understand how interconnected the global economy is and with that how interconnected the global energy sector is. We have all read the headlines. There are many forces at work currently in the global energy markets, and I wish to begin part of my speech and speak to the importance of Canada's energy sector to Canada's economy today and in the years and decades to come.
CUSMA guarantees access for Canadian products and services to the United States, keeps barrier-free from happening and is good for our energy sector among all other sectors, such as auto, aluminum, steel, dairy, services, intellectual property, etc.
I would like to express my thanks to all of Canada's energy and mineral mining sector workers, whether it be those in the oil sands sector, those working in the western Canadian sedimentary basin, those mining uranium, those maintaining our nuclear plants in Ontario and those working on the TMX pipeline or on the Coastal GasLink, which will supply LNG to the Asian markets, displacing coal and thus reducing the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.
We speak about climate change. We speak about saving our planet. We speak about moving forward. One of those aspects is displacing coal through LNG and that needs to happen so we can get to where we need to be.
CUSMA provides the energy sector, auto sector, our tremendously hard-working dairy farmers, steel and aluminum sector workers and the entire Canadian economy with certainty. However, again, let us focus on Canada's energy sector, which accounts for a very large portion of the two-way trade between Canada and the United States and for a very large portion of the trade between all three countries.
Here are a few facts about how important the energy sector is to the Canadian economy.
As of 2018, Canada's energy sector directly employed more than 269,000 people and indirectly supported over 550,500 jobs. It is all on Enercan's website and I encourage Canadians who want to analyze how important this sector is to take a quick look. That is over 800,000 good, middle-class jobs, with the overwhelming majority providing good wages and benefits to families across Canada.
According to 2018 statistics, the energy sector accounts for over 11% , or $230 billion, of Canada's nominal GDP. Direct revenues from energy to governments totalled over $14 billion in 2018.
As an economist, one measure I like to see is our merchandise trade statistics that are published monthly. In 2019, the Canadian oil and gas sector generated a trade surplus of $76 billion for our economy. That is money flowing into our economy to pay for schools, bridges and roads and to maintain our high standard of living. We can compare this to the auto sector, which is so important for Ontario, that has a trade deficit of $20 billion.
Behind that $76 billion trade surplus, Canada is the sixth largest world's energy producer, the fifth largest net exporter and the eighth largest consumer of energy. Frankly, energy drives our economy, our daily lives and our standard of living.
Total energy exports in 2018 were $132 billion versus $55 billion of imports, with oil and gas exports at $118 billion of which 95% were to the U.S. Notably, we export energy products to approximately 148 countries and 90% of that goes to the United States.
Human capital is a paramount strength of Canada, its people, its diversity, the ability to be an inclusive society and strengthen our economy. That is what makes our country a blessed place to live. When we also include Canada's natural capital resources, whether it is our agricultural sector, our forestry sector, hydro-electric power driven by our rivers and waterways, the mineral and energy wealth our country, Canada and its citizens are blessed and our potential when we work together is endless.
The new free trade deal between the three countries provides certainty to over $1.4 trillion, and growing, in trade volumes. Trade generates jobs, grows our economy and ensures a bright future for all children, including my own.
The world is becoming more interconnected. Our trade deals, CETA, CPTPP and CUSMA allow us preferential access to 1.5 billion individuals across the world. They allow us to continue to export our goods and services. Canada is a magnet for immigration. The best and brightest want to work here. They want to invent. They want to raise their families here. They want to call Canada home, and we welcome them.
On that front, CUSMA will allow us to move forward. When I read the economic impact assessment produced by Global Affairs, I saw what we have done, what the team under Steve Verheul has done. I applaud them. I applaud the Deputy Prime Minister for her steadfast commitment to ensuring a great deal for Canadian workers and businesses.
I have heard from all sectors and stakeholders in our economy and they all want this deal to pass. Whether it is the Chamber of Commerce, both locally and Canada-wide, or Unifor or the Canadian Labour Congress, they all want certainty. In this period of time, we need certainty for our economy. This deal would deliver it.
I look forward to debate this week and participating in it, commencing with today's speech. We know we need to provide certainty for our workers and literally the millions of Canadians whose livelihoods depend on trade with the United States and Mexico.
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