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View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2020-03-10 16:54 [p.1907]
Madam Speaker, I would like to talk about the current state of CUSMA from two perspectives. In my speech, I will reiterate some of the things my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue just mentioned.
First, I would like to start with an overview of recent developments and the exceptional and thoughtful work our party did to accomplish what at first seemed unlikely.
Second, I will address the factor that I like to call the historical context. I will talk about the different circumstances that set the stage for the various trade negotiations that occurred over the past 50-plus years, and the challenges posed by our current situation.
I would first like to applaud the hard work of the Bloc Québécois members from Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière, as well as the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for his work on the parliamentary committee in this file. They all worked tirelessly and with great determination, with the support of our leader, the member for Beloeil—Chambly. They brought people together and supported many stakeholders—mayors and unions—in the aluminum industry, which is vital to their region.
The Bloc Québécois keeps its word. We are here to protect and support Quebec's interests and economy. We have not let up since December. Our resiliency and concern for our own have been on full display over the past few months.
I must recognize, and it is recognized, that the government decided to get involved on two levels. First, it committed to collect real-time data on aluminum imports in Mexico through traceability measures. Second, if that data shows that Mexico is indeed sourcing foreign aluminum, the government promised to revisit this issue so that the “melted and poured in North America” clause applies to aluminum in the same way it applies to steel. By so doing, the government recognized that aluminum did not have the same protection as steel.
Let us not forget that, in the new Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, Canada is the only party that is actually harmed by the dumping phenomenon, that the trade agreements prohibit dumping, that this practice results in unfair competition, and that the success of free trade agreements must normally be based on mutual gains.
Our leader and member for Beloeil—Chambly found the balance required and obtained the co-operation of the Deputy Prime Minister to protect our economic interests and the interests of thousands of North Shore and Lac-Saint-Jean workers.
Earlier, I mentioned historical context as a factor. I would now like to talk about it by going back in time briefly.
The economic sovereignties of Canada and the United States have changed significantly since the second half of the 20th century. Initially, we had what was known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT, where the United States determined the outcome of trade disputes that might arise in a protectionist context. The energy crisis of the late 1970s and the difficult recession of the early 1980s opened the door to very cautious trade relations. The implementation of the FTA in 1989 required the tact, skilful bilateral trade relations and people-to-people links that were the hallmarks of the time.
Members will recall that Quebec economists were in favour of it. Like the Bloc Québécois today, two great economists, two great men who left their mark on Quebec, Jacques Parizeau and Bernard Landry, knew that such an agreement would be beneficial for Quebec and its economy.
In this initial agreement, Ottawa, Washington and Quebec were all winners. Mexico would complete the free trade trio less than two years later.
Under NAFTA, Quebec quickly reaped the benefits of its economic dynamism and, despite the virtual disappearance of its manufacturing industry, the growing openness of 21st-century world markets would allow the development of leading-edge industries. Collectively, we moved forward in an increasingly globalized world, with growing trade and much more.
I would like to highlight two elements that I cannot ignore. These two elements also come from the past.
They speak volumes about the arguments our party raised for several weeks. During all the years that the Bloc Québécois had a lot of seats in the House, successive governments were forced to take Quebec's expectations into account. No less than 16 trade agreements were negotiated and signed without ever allowing for the slightest breach in supply management.
In 2011 and 2015, with reduced Bloc representation, Canada concluded three free trade agreements. That made three agreements with three major breaches, namely Europe, the Asia Pacific region and CUSMA. If there are fewer Bloc Québécois members, does that translate into less consideration for Quebec? To ask that question is to answer it.
This CUSMA came together with the Trump administration. We can all agree that this is a new context and it is not just any context. Based on three deals that are seriously eroding supply management, Canada is firmly on the path to weakening its sovereignty by letting our neighbour to the south undermine it. Yes, I said “its sovereignty”. I think everyone knows that, for the Bloc Québécois, leaving our sovereignty in the hands of another nation is contrary to our nature.
Indeed, CUSMA grants the Americans oversight of the milk protein exports Canada can offer to countries outside North America. A provision like this in a trade agreement is unheard of in anything other than a colonial context, as this provision could have a devastating impact on the dairy industry. This is a question of sovereignty, since we are putting decisions that are our responsibility into the hands of another country. These decisions are not its concern. In other words, the United States was just handed control over Canada's external relations.
In Quebec, we are committed to our farmers. We respect our dairy producers. With CUSMA, Canada has scored a hat trick with three agreements that undermine Quebec's trade model, which has proven successful. The truth is, without a strong Bloc Québécois presence, the Canadian government does less for Quebec.
The historic context we are heading toward is now global. Every economy in the world has to deal with this. I am talking about the climate crisis that has to collectively push us to rise above commercial concerns alone. We have to ask questions. Is intensifying our economic integration the best way to act in this new context? Do we have what it takes to inspire other countries to do their part to deal with climate matters? Is it possible to reconcile economic prosperity with respect for the environment, and if so, how? Is it possible to reconcile regional vitality with economic openness? With regard to the last two questions, I would say that Quebec's aluminum industry is a fine example and that its development can inspire other countries.
We are calling on the government to be responsible and truly follow through on its recent commitments on the two measures related to the aluminum industry and to fully keep its promises.
We are also calling on the government to consider possible accommodations when it comes to Quebec's large dairy industry. Such steps are not so uncommon and the government does not have to wait 10 years to take them. These kinds of steps were taken at least 16 times in 15 years of NAFTA.
We are also asking the government to support our bill, Bill C-216, on supply management, and give it the consideration it deserves, that Quebec deserves, that its farming economy deserves.
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