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View Randy Hoback Profile
View Randy Hoback Profile
2020-03-10 10:37 [p.1848]
Madam Speaker, it will be that member's maiden speech so I think we are going to hear a really good speech from him today. I cannot think of a better topic for him to speak to, because trade is an important issue to the people in his riding. I look forward to hearing his comments. I am sure they will be wise and worth listening to, unlike some of the other comments we have heard here today. No offence intended.
We are getting through Bill C-4. There is no question about that. We kept our word. We said we would not hold this up. We said that we would do everything we could to properly see this go through the committee stage, which we did. We heard some 200 submissions from people who wanted to appear before the committee.
Even though the Liberals shortened the time, with agreement from the NDP, and made it tough to hear from all of those witnesses, we managed to get through the bulk of them by having extended sittings. I want to thank all members of the committee for sharing their time in the evenings and the staff who were involved so that we could listen to these people. They had serious concerns, and I want to talk about some of those today and get them on the record.
I will start off with dairy. During the TPP negotiations, we were going to give roughly 3.5% market access for dairy to the U.S. and all of the other countries involved in the TPP. When the Liberals pulled us out of the TPP and held us back for a year and a half, and Obama lost the ability to move it forward in the U.S., TPP was going to be the replacement. By the Liberals not moving forward here in Canada, and not creating a window for Obama to move forward in the U.S., we lost that window of opportunity for a period of time, thus a new election in the U.S.
We did the TPP. We still gave up 3.5%, and now we had to negotiate a new NAFTA deal with the U.S. What did we do? We gave up another 3.5%. Dairy producers have been hit twice, which they feel is unfair, and I can understand where they are coming from.
What makes it even more disturbing is what else the Liberals gave up. They gave up their ability to market things like powdered milk around the world, things that we have a surplus of here in Canada. When they were being consulted through the negotiations, they told us in committee that they were under the impression that it would be limited to North America. The text of the agreement indicates that it is global.
Why would the Liberals let another country determine the amount of exports a sector is able to do? That is what the Liberals agreed to in this agreement. The dairy sector has some serious concerns and complaints about that, and this is something the minister will have to address.
Aluminum and the 70% rule are another issue with respect to this agreement. There is still a lot of concern in the aluminum sector in Quebec about why that was different from the steel industry. Why was the aluminum industry not given the same considerations as steel? If we wanted to have North American content, it should have been that way.
What is concerning here is that there could possibly be a back door through Mexico for a pile of cheap aluminum to be dumped into the North American market based on how that country goes through the process of identification. I understand our officials have said they are going to monitor it, along with the U.S., to make sure that does not happen, but the same thing could have simply been done for aluminum as was done for steel. We would have been fine.
Another opportunity that the Liberals missed out on, and which the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord brought up in one of our meetings with Steve Verheul, our trade negotiator, is the fact that green aluminum is produced in Quebec and in other parts of Canada. It is all based on hydro power. The facility in British Columbia is based on hydro. The facilities in Chicoutimi are based on hydro. Canada probably produces the most environmentally friendly aluminum in the world.
Why would that not be put into the agreement? Why would we not say that if we want to have green vehicles, environmentally friendly vehicles, let us use environmentally friendly products like Canadian aluminum?
There were opportunities to say that was the way the implementation should be, so that we were not renegotiating the deal. Instead, all three countries said they wanted to do more for the environment and this was one way, so let us put it in our implementation act that we do just that. There was an opportunity there again, an opportunity we would not have known about unless we did some due diligence in committee.
Government procurement is very disturbing. The Liberals did not even touch on it in this new agreement. They said they would leave it up to the WTO. Then we found out the U.S. was talking about pulling out of the WTO government procurement program. We have no protection with respect to government procurement. We have no provisions to fight off buy America. We have nothing in place.
I would strongly encourage the government to go back to the table on this part, especially if we see the U.S. pull out of the WTO agreement. It should get a deal on procurement and deal with buy America, because the Liberals did not do that in this agreement.
Then there is the auto sector. We feel that Canada's auto sector is going to be hit by a decline of almost $1.5 billion when we look at the impact of the changes in the auto rules.
I understand that the U.S. was very tough on these negotiations. There are some wins in it for our guys here in Canada, there are some wins in the U.S. and some concessions made out of Mexico on that. When it comes down to the auto part of the deal, that was actually done in Mexico between the U.S. and Mexico and we took what was left. We did not have a lot of input into the auto part of this deal.
I have some concerns about longevity when it comes to the competitiveness of our auto sector. With these new rules, we are going to have more expensive cars and they are going to be more expensive in the global marketplace. We did nothing to improve the competitiveness of the auto sector within the three countries, which is a really huge missed opportunity.
We also need to talk a little bit about de minimis rates. I know the U.S. wanted us to go up to a higher number. We kept it at a lower number, which is good, but then they put in a strange amendment. They left Canada Post out as being one of the carriers. Looking at it, all of the commercial carriers can handle any packages across the border and get the new de minimis rate, except for Canada Post.
I live in rural Canada. Canada Post delivers my parcels. Why would we have a deal leaving out Canada Post? It is a Crown corporation, and parcel delivery is probably the most lucrative part of Canada Post. Again, this is an area that I think the government needs to look at and fix, because it does not make a lot of sense.
We tried all along to see this piece of legislation go forward. We knew the importance of the deal. We did not like it. We knew it stunk, but I want to get it on the record that we were being progressive and trying to be proactive in moving this forward. This goes back to before the election.
Before the election, we made a motion at the standing committee, once the original deal was signed, to do a pre-study. There were concerns at the time that we would not have the U.S. moving at the same speed as us and we would be ahead of them. Mexico was actually moving very fast. We said that we should have all the pre-studies done and then we would just have to deal with it in the House. The Liberals declined. In December 2019, we offered to come back early and deal with this. The Liberals declined.
It was not until the end of January that the Liberals actually brought it into the House and we managed to work with the other opposition parties and everybody here. Instead of taking the normal 16 days, we did it in six days. At committee, all we wanted was to do thorough research, so we were willing to get it done in the last week of sitting. That last Thursday we put forward an unanimous consent motion, which the Liberals declined, to start this process basically two weeks ago. The member across the way said no. I want to make sure that everybody understands in the House that we have never been the ones holding this up, but we did say that we wanted to have a good thorough look at it.
One of the things that happened at committee, which I think committee members and all members of the House should be very concerned about, is that 20 minutes before our last meeting the Liberals dropped off their economic analysis. They gave us not even an evening, not even an hour to go through it, only 20 minutes. We quickly went through it and started looking at the announcements and the benchmarks, which were compared to nothing. Instead of taking this agreement and comparing it with what we have today, which is what was done on TPP and other trade agreements, it was compared to nothing.
It was a horrible assessment. It was just unusable to help us talk to people who were going to be negatively impacted to find a way forward. It was just incredible.
When C.D. Howe did its assessment, it found this deal is going to cost our economy $14 billion a year. For the Liberals to say this is a win-win-win, no it is not. It is plug our noses and be thankful we got something, because something is better than nothing.
As I sum this up, there is more that I could probably talk about with regard to the committee, but I want to thank all the companies that came forward and all the individuals who gave evidence.
I want to challenge the government because you got a lot of really good information. Do something with that information, mitigate the losses and make sure they are not left out, because it is your responsibility to come up with a game plan. We would be glad to help.
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