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View Ed Fast Profile
View Ed Fast Profile
2020-03-10 17:52 [p.1914]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to engage in this debate again. What I am going to speak to is a story of betrayal, incompetence, weakness on the part of the Prime Minister, hubris and recklessness. It is a story of opportunity lost because we did not even have to engage in this negotiation the way the Prime Minister engaged in it.
Our Prime Minister assumed that, because President Trump said that he was going to tear up NAFTA, somehow he needed to reach out to him and say that he gladly would renegotiate this agreement. Anyone who knows anything about the American trade system knows that the President cannot unilaterally tear up a trade agreement. He needs to have the consent and the approval of Congress.
Think about this: 35 of the American states have Canada as their number one export market. Show me the representatives, senators and governors from those states. Do colleagues think they will ever agree to tear up the old NAFTA? Of course not, but our Prime Minister marched into this negotiation and said, “President Trump, what do you want from us?” That is how it all started and then President Trump said, “Well, I've got this huge trade deficit with Canada.” That is fake news.
The truth is that our trade with the United States is virtually perfectly balanced. One month it will be one way, a couple of billion dollars, another month the other way. The reality is that our trade is as perfectly balanced as any two countries could expect. The President's target was Mexico, but somehow our Prime Minister did not figure that out.
The Prime Minister said that he was going to bring back a win-win-win. It was three wins, one for Mexico, one for the U.S. and one for Canada. Did we get a win out of this deal? By any reasonable measure and standard we lost and we lost big time. Let me explain why.
What are the wins? We did get a digital economy chapter out of it, because back when NAFTA was first negotiated we did not have a digital economy. Today it is ubiquitous, so it makes sense to have a chapter for that.
We did synchronize some of our intellectual property rules with the United States. That is okay.
We raised our de minimis amounts so that people can come across the border with a higher duty-free limit, but there were no real market access gains for Canada in this agreement, except for maybe a little bit of sugar. That is about it, honestly.
Earlier Liberal speakers defined success in this agreement by what Canada did not lose. They said we were able to defend things. We were able to preserve chapter 19. What a great win. We preserved what we had before. That is not my definition of a win. My definition of a win is that we gain something from the United States, not just security or simply a marketplace that will not be disrupted because we do not have an agreement.
Let me now talk about the concessions we made. Can members imagine that after five years of negotiations our Prime Minister agreed to President Trump's demand that there be a six-year sunset clause? In other words, in six years either we decide to carry on, or the deal falls dead. That is the first time Canada has ever done that, by the way.
The aluminum industry in Canada was not provided with the same protection against dumping, primarily from China, that the United States got, so we sold out the aluminum industry.
Then there are export caps on the auto industry for parts and vehicles being exported.
We conceded Canadian sovereignty on milk pricing. Never before have we done that, where we said, “President Trump, if we want to change our milk pricing regime, we will come to you, cap in hand on bended knee, and beg you for permission to do this” to defend our supply management system.
We did the same thing with our sovereignty with regard to negotiating other trade agreements. Can members imagine that? We agreed with Donald Trump that if we ever want to negotiate a trade agreement with a non-market economy like China, we will have to come to him and ask him for permission to do so. Sly fox that he is, he has already negotiated his own deal with China, at least a phase one deal, so he does not have to come to us cap in hand, but we have to go to him that way to try to compete on a level playing field with China. Do members think he will ever approve that? Of course not. We got snookered.
It gets worse. We conceded double the amount of new dairy access that the Americans will have to our market than our Conservative government had negotiated under the TPP. That is a massive failure, and it gets worse. The Liberals actually imposed export caps on our ability to export value-added milk products. For example, in cheesemaking in the milk industry, there are by-products that used to be washed down the drain, but we had some smart Canadian companies there. One of them is in Abbotsford, British Columbia. It is called Vitalus, and we had Phil Vanderpol from Vitalus at committee. We asked him about the export caps.
The U.S. wanted us to limit our exports of these value-added unique products not only to the United States, which might have been fair, but also to other countries all around the world. We said to Donald Trump, “You know what? We are not going to be able to export beyond those cap limits.”
I asked Mr. Vanderpol at committee if he got a chance to talk to the minister and the trade representatives about this. He said that yes, they had a meeting, and they told him in no uncertain terms that export caps were not on the table. When the agreement came out, guess what? Caps had not only been on the table, but had been negotiated away by our Liberal government.
That is the betrayal part of this agreement. That is a betrayal, and Mr. Vanderpol was very upset about how his industry had been sold out by this Liberal government.
I will now talk about the process that the government undertook to apprise Canadians of what this deal really meant in economic terms.
The United States did an economic impact assessment, and I have it here. There are 400 stinking pages of it that explain the impact it will have on the U.S. economy, and it is a positive impact. The assessment says that the U.S. made major gains against Canada. Ours was a 73-pager, and it did not even compare the old NAFTA to the new NAFTA; it compared a universe without NAFTA at all to the new NAFTA.
Fortunately, there is an organization in Canada that did the work that this Liberal government failed to do, and that is the C. D. Howe Institute. It actually compared the impact of the new NAFTA to what the old NAFTA delivered for Canadians in economic terms, and it is a sad story. It is a story of failure on the part of the Liberal government. The C. D. Howe Institute concluded that Canada is going to sacrifice about $14 billion of economic activity every single year going forward. That is a $14-billion GDP hit that we are going to take as a result of this agreement. Is that a responsible agreement?
The Liberals used to say that no NAFTA was better than a bad NAFTA. Now they are saying that it is better to have a new NAFTA than no NAFTA at all. They do know what they are talking about.
They talk about win-win-win. They talk about delivering a better deal for Canadians. At the end of the day, after we look at this agreement, and I do have some experience in trade, we see this is a big fail for Canadians.
I wish we had better news for Canadians, because we can do so much better. The previous Conservative government would have never made the concessions that were made in this agreement. There are things in this deal that Canada has never agreed to before, yet this Liberal government made those concessions. That is a sad story.
It is a story of failure.
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