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View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-03-10 13:49 [p.1877]
Mr. Speaker, I want to throw some kudos out to my colleague for his speech. He is a long-serving member of this House of Commons, as am I, and it is great to see him back here standing up for the people in his riding. This is my first speech in the House of Commons since the last election. It is not my maiden speech by a long shot, but I want to thank all of the good people in central Alberta and the riding of Red Deer—Lacombe for once again putting their trust in me and sending me back here with one of the best mandates that I have had.
I am not trying to say it is all about me. For those around the country who might not understand what we are going through, in Alberta the last election was basically a referendum on whether Alberta feels like it is a valued and equal partner in this confederation, and we are having those conversations as we go on.
It is also a good segue into whether Canada in the new NAFTA, or the CUSMA, is a full and equal partner in the North American trading space. I would suggest that we could have done better, but let us go back to where this all started.
Back in November 2016, Donald Trump was about to become the president in the fall elections of that year. Our Prime Minister naively humoured Donald Trump's assertions that NAFTA needed to be ripped up or renegotiated.
Rather than defending Canada's interests and saying something to the effect that the North American Free Trade Agreement was working very well for Canada, or that it was a long-standing agreement that had benefited all parties in the agreement, he willingly committed Canada to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with the President and with the American administration, should Donald Trump take over the White House, without fully understanding the ramifications of what he was saying. Other evidence suggests that the Prime Minister does not understand the ramifications of the things he says.
That is where we are. That is where this all began. There was nobody in Canada asking for this. I do not believe there was anybody in Mexico asking for this. Have there been irritants? Have there been long-standing issues with NAFTA over the years? Yes, because no deal is going to make everybody happy. We are not starting from that context, but that is where we are now.
Because we took that weak approach at the start, to pretend that everything was going to be nice if everybody would just naively follow the Prime Minister's approach and assume that everybody in the world was going to be nice and treat Canada nicely, we ended up in a situation where Canada is a net loser with the new agreement that we have, compared with where we were in 2015.
Let us talk about where we were in 2006. My colleague from Abbotsford, who was a cabinet minister from 2011 on, and I were both elected in 2006. Mr. Speaker, you are part of the class of 2006 as well. When the member for Abbotsford and I came to the House in 2006, Canada had trade agreements around the world that we could count on—
Hon. Ed Fast: One hand, five.
Mr. Blaine Calkins: Was it one hand? I thought it was six, but it is five. The member for Abbotsford, as a former trade minister, knows more about this than I do, I will concede.
Mr. Speaker, we could count the number of countries that Canada had trade agreements with on one hand. After 2015, we had trade agreements with 51 countries, through the previous Harper government from 2006. We negotiated these agreements, and we started the negotiations with a minority government. We did not start with a position of power in Parliament. As a matter of fact, we had 123 Conservative MPs and we were government. That is only two fewer than we have right now in opposition.
We were able to launch a series of trade negotiations that would insulate and cushion Canada's economy and spread our influence and trading relationships around the world with the trading compact of Norway and a few countries, Liechtenstein and so on, a small group in Europe; the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, with the other European Union countries; the Pacific partnership trade agreement and a trade agreement with Korea. We have so many trade agreements now, I cannot even remember what they are all called.
Thankfully we have those opportunities to take advantage of now, because we were so dependent upon the United States before, and because of what we have just lost and given up. What did we give up?
I represent a large rural and urban split now, but when I was the MP for Wetaskiwin it was primarily a rural riding. I have the largest concentration of dairy farmers in Alberta in my riding. We gave up another 3.6% in the value of that supply management. More importantly, the dairy producers that I am hearing from in my riding are not satisfied with how that compensation is being reallocated.
Dairy farms in Alberta look a lot different from dairy farms in other parts of the country, and their needs are different from what the needs might be in other parts of Canada. The government should have had a different approach in meting out and making amends for that loss of market access.
The most egregious part of this is that the United States now dictates what countries Canada can export to outside of this agreement, when it comes to our supply-managed sector. We have ceded our ability as a nation to bargain for ourselves, on behalf of our producers and farmers, for who we can trade with outside of the three countries in the agreement.
For example, if we wanted to have an agreement trading poultry or dairy with Korea, and we wanted to change the nature of that relationship, we would need the permission of the United States of America to do so. That is actually the ceding of sovereignty, and that is an unfortunate and dangerous precedent.
The aluminum industry in Canada did not get the same deal as the steel industry. The steel industry got a pretty good deal. I think the steel folks are fairly happy, generally speaking. They got the escalating scale on the amount of steel that has to be poured in Canada or in North America. That is a good deal. This is a good thing for our industry.
Why could we not achieve the same thing with aluminum? What was the issue with that? I ask because Canada is in a good position when it comes to being able to smelt and pour aluminum. We did not gain anything there. We lost over $4 billion in trade in the auto sector alone.
Now I want to talk about softwood lumber. My friend from Abbotsford would remember this. Back in 2006, with a minority government that only had two more MPs than we currently have in opposition, we were able to resolve the long-standing softwood lumber dispute. We put $4 billion, which we got back from the United States, back in the pockets of Canadian businesses and companies that were wrongfully charged those tariffs. For years, we had peace on the softwood lumber front.
Where are we today? In the context of renegotiating this new CUSMA agreement, we still have outstanding issues with softwood lumber. A majority Liberal government for four years, with the full confidence of its own caucus, I am assuming, even with the bromance with President Obama for the first year, could not resolve these long-standing trade irritants with softwood lumber. As a result, rural Canada is again under siege, with jobs lost and mills closed outside of our major urban areas as a direct result of the government's inability to get good things done for the people of Canada.
I would like to use my last minute to talk about all of the good things that this trade agreement has and all of the new things it has gotten.
I am done.
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