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View Martin Shields Profile
View Martin Shields Profile
2020-03-10 17:40 [p.1912]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Abbotsford, who has a long history in trade. During his time as trade minister, 51 agreements were completed. Therefore, I am honoured to share my time with such a financial wizard of trade.
North America has a trade history. If I go back to the Blackfoot Confederacy and my riding, the nations traded west through the Bow River corridor into B.C. They traded south into Wyoming. They traded into Montana. Therefore, we have had international trade going on in North America for some time with the indigenous people.
The Hudson's Bay Company showed up and traded across the country and exported all over the world. We are an exporting country. We survive because we export. We are tied to it. We have to trade.
Back in 1854, before we were a country, reciprocity with the U.S. was an issue. There was a reciprocity agreement in 1854, because we were dependent on trade with the U.S.
In the times after Confederation, with Macdonald, Borden, Mulroney and Harper, we continued to build trade agreements because we knew we were an exporting nation. However, there were challenges in those decades. As the U.S. became more intertwined in the later decades of the 1890s into the 1930s, we had the Smoot-Hawley agreement. The U.S. realized trade deficits with Canada were really detrimental to it. Therefore, it began to build trade tariffs, one after another, over those next 40 years.
Following the Second World War, Canada was constantly going back to the U.S. for exemptions to deal with trade under the Smoot-Hawley agreement, which was very protectionist. We were begging for exemptions. We did get the Auto Pact. When Nixon became president, he decided the U.S. was done with exemptions for Canada. He left us the Auto Pact, but that was the only thing he left us.
The next decade began with the building of NAFTA. We realized we were so intertwined economically with North America that we needed a better deal than what we had. As that grew, Mulroney was elected. Who did he use as a spokesman to build the NAFTA agreement across Canada? Premier Lougheed of Alberta. He was the gentleman who went across the country and the United States to get support for this agreement and to get people to understand how good NAFTA would be for them. It was an incredible experience for the premier of Alberta to show what with North America meant, not just for Alberta but for the whole country.
Once the NAFTA agreement was in place, it worked for decades. Now we are faced with one that has its challenges.
Several times today, members have mentioned the dairy industry and what it has lost in the new agreement.
Aluminum will be an interesting challenge. We know what has happened in Mexico. It is not as good as the deal we have for steel. We have a great aluminum industry in the country. I do not know why we did not work more to protect it, because it is such a green industry, both on the west coast and in Quebec. It is one of the greenest industries we have. It should have been protected more. It is an example of a green industry.
The cattle industry still has issues with cross-border trading. Moving live animals is a problem. Washington State is now looking at COOL, which is country of origin labelling. It is already developing some legislation. Trump likes that kind of legislation. Our cattle industry is very concerned because hundreds of thousands of live animals and products move back and forth in North America. COOL was very detrimental, but we managed to get it out. Now it is coming back. We have to deal with that. Our agriculture industry is absolutely paranoid about the cost of that.
We did not deal with softwood.
There is something else interesting in my riding. It is the only sugar beet industry left in Canada. We produce sugar beets in Canada. My grandfather was involved in bringing that industry to southern Alberta from the United States. He brought it up and we have irrigation. The sugar beet industry is very strong in my riding. It employs up to 200 people a year when those sugar beets are harvested. There was access to the U.S. market under the previous NAFTA, and the sugar beet industry was very concerned about what might happen. It was protected and it is still there, so that is a positive piece under the current NAFTA.
Somebody here mentioned the Wheat Board, and I cannot resist that because that was a problem. It put shackles on western Canada as far as trade for our prairie farmers. I have very successful farmers in my riding who knew that they could trade better than the bureaucracy of the Canadian Wheat Board. They would load up their trucks and take them across the border to deliver a Canadian product, because they knew they could trade better than a bureaucratic Canadian Wheat Board. Those people went to jail. They spent months in jail for driving across the border delivering a Canadian product that was wanted in the United States for trade. Canadians went to jail because they wanted to trade, but that is what we do. Some of those people continue to be leaders in their communities today. That jail record did not keep them from doing the good things they needed to do. It is just an example of what we believe about trade. We believe in western Canada how good it is, but it is trade all over the country.
Most recently, for example in Newfoundland, people have learned how to develop the eggs that come out of sea urchins for the Japanese market. We trade all over this country because we are tied to it.
This agreement is done and it has been signed, but there are things that need to be fixed. There were concessions made, one after another, to get it done out of fear of what Trump would do to us. Out of that fear, we got an agreement. It is not an agreement that is going to be fixed easily, but it is something that we need to do.
Do we agree with trade? Do my constituents want trade? Absolutely they do, but they want certainty. They need to know where those markets are because we are traders. We are entwined with the U.S. and Mexican markets. We have to trade. We need to get our products to market. The deal will be done and we will support it, but there certainly are losses in this one.
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