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View Michael Cooper Profile
View Michael Cooper Profile
2020-03-11 16:39 [p.1952]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon to speak to Bill C-4, an act to ratify the new free trade agreement among Canada, the United States and Mexico, sometimes referred to as the new NAFTA. Whatever one wishes to label the agreement, one thing is clear and that is, for Canadians, it falls far short of a win.
Before I elaborate on some of the shortcomings with respect to the new agreement, it is important to provide some context in terms of the history of how we got to where we are.
In November 2016, President Trump was elected, and it is no secret that President Trump was no fan of NAFTA. Indeed, he called it the worst trade deal ever. In the face of that, it was a little surprising that the Prime Minister pre-emptively invited the President to renegotiate NAFTA. The Prime Minister, ever so confident, stated that he would get a better deal. The Prime Minister boasted about a win-win-win: a win for Canada, a win for the United States and a win for Mexico.
It is no surprise that, given the President's position on NAFTA, he took the Prime Minister up on his offer at the earliest opportunity. What did the Prime Minister do once he got his wish? Effectively, he put forward a whole series of non-trade issues that alienated the United States. During the course of negotiations, we saw punitive steel and aluminum tariffs levelled against Canada that had a devastating impact that lasted for more than a year.
The Prime Minister spent a lot of time doing what this Prime Minister does: virtue signalling while Canadians paid. The United States concluded that Canada was not interested in reaching a deal. The United States negotiated a deal with Mexico. Most aspects of this agreement were negotiated between the United States and Mexico, including steel provisions and other components of the agreement. Canada was invited in at the eleventh hour when there were few items to resolve. In that respect, it was a fait accompli. The government was left with very little choice, either to sign the agreement or walk away. In the face of that, it is no surprise that Canada signed the agreement.
As a result of the Prime Minister's lack of leadership, what we got was not the better deal that the Prime Minister promised, but a worse deal. Instead of a win-win-win, a win for Canada, a win for the United States and a win for Mexico, we have an agreement that is a win for the United States, a win for Mexico and a loss for Canada. It is no wonder that the government was so reluctant to reveal its own economic impact analysis on this agreement until the eleventh hour. It did so one day before the trade committee went clause by clause on Bill C-4.
If this trade agreement were as good as the government would like Canadians to believe, then surely the government would be very eager to reveal its economic impact analysis to demonstrate what a good deal it was for Canada. However, the government did not do that.
Why did it not do that? Very simply, despite the rhetoric on the other side, the government knows that it is not a good deal and the Prime Minister did not get a better deal as he promised.
When we saw the economic impact analysis, the government's analysis compares the new deal to no deal at all. The appropriate comparator is not between the new deal and no deal at all, but between the new deal and the old NAFTA.
While the Liberal government quite deliberately did not undertake that analysis, in terms of what it has revealed publicly, the C.D. Howe Institute did undertake such an analysis. What the C.D. Howe Institute determined was that, under the new deal, Canada stands to lose $14.2 billion in GDP. Not only that, Canada stands to see a reduction in exports to the U.S. market in the sum of $3.2 billion, while Canada stands to import more American products in the sum of $8.6 billion. That is $8.6 billion more in U.S. exports, and $3.2 billion less in Canadian exports. Again, it is a good deal for the United States, and a bad deal for Canada.
Despite the fact that this agreement falls short, we on this side of the House are prepared to support the government, support the passage of Bill C-4 and support the speedy ratification of CUSMA. We support it because, at the end of the day, this deal is better than no deal.
We have heard, as the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook noted, that the business community and premiers want to see certainty. They want to see continued access to our most important trading partner, the United States. We know there is $2 billion in bilateral trade between Canada and the United States every day, and $900 billion in bilateral trade a year. To put that in perspective, that is nine times more than with our second-largest trading partner, China. Seventy-five per cent of Canadian exports are destined for the U.S. market.
In light of that, it would be irresponsible not to support the ratification of this agreement. If we were to not do so, there would be a risk of no agreement, which would benefit no one. However, while we support the ratification, we do so on a qualified basis. We will continue to remind the government of the shortcomings of this agreement.
The Liberal government opened up 3.6% of the dairy market, and got nothing in return. The government was not able to get the same protections for the Canadian aluminum industry that are in the agreement for the steel industry. We know that the government got nowhere in terms of buy America. Mexico got a chapter on buy America, but Canada did not. The consequence is that it leaves Canadian companies out of the opportunity to bid on large government procurement projects in the United States. The government also sold out Canadian sovereignty by requiring permission from Washington to negotiate new trade agreements with non-market economies, such as our second-largest trading partner, China.
While this is a deal that we will support, let us make no mistake about it: It is better than no deal, but it is not a good deal.
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