Madam Speaker, to pass this legislation swiftly, as all stakeholders and constituents had requested, so the vacuum of uncertainty would be lifted on our trade relations with the U.S., our official opposition made many suggestions as to ways we would gladly co-operate with the government.
Knowing that the federal election was coming up in October, the Conservatives offered to begin a pre-study on the original legislation, Bill C-100, in May of this year. That way the government would only have to deal with clause by clause later on, but it declined. When the revised agreement was signed in December, the Conservatives offered to come back early from the Christmas break to begin work on the bill. Again, the government declined.
The international trade committee had approximately 200 requests come in on CUSMA, and the amount of work to do on the legislation had not changed. We consistently offered to commence that work earlier, but the government declined.
The Conservatives ultimately offered to complete clause-by-clause examination by no later than March 5, under the assumption that the government would not be recalling the House of Commons during the constituency break. Again, the government declined.
A unanimous motion was passed at the international trade committee, requesting that the government release its economic impact analysis for CUSMA. It was not provided until one day before committee conducted its clause-by-clause review and the government's economic impact report compared CUSMA to not having a NAFTA deal at all.
What this said was that the government wanted Canadians to believe that any trade deal, no matter how unbalanced or restrictive, would actually be better than nothing at all.
Thankfully, the C.D. Howe Institute released a report comparing CUSMA to the old NAFTA deal on February 21. It affirmed that CUSMA would reduce Canada's GDP by $14.2 billion. Canada's exports to the U.S. would fall by $3.2 billion, while our imports from the U.S. would increase by $8.6 billion. The C.D. Howe Institute's report shed some light on why the government said it was important to support the new agreement moving quickly and then balked at every opportunity we gave to expedite the passing of the legislation.
We are here now dealing with the issues around what was not good in the agreement. With those 200 organizations and individuals who wanted to come and talk to the committee, we were able to process through 100 of those.
The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters said, “If we want Canada to take full advantage of this agreement, the government must take steps to insure Canadian manufacturers' productivity levels are equivalent to that of other OECD countries so they can succeed on North American markets and globally.”
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said, “The CUSMA, as signed last autumn, was in imperfect but necessary agreement to provide greater predictability in our relations with Canada's largest trading partner.” Predictability was lost to such an extent that we were to the point where people were saying that we needed to just get this done.
Last week, I met with my own chamber of commerce and also held a town hall, with the shadow minister for agriculture, in my riding with a number of farmers from the area.
Agriculture and agrifood producers, manufacturers, exporters and all the support services of small businesses in my riding are experiencing the serious impacts of uncertainty with which the government has plagued our economy: increased costs and a loss of customer base because of the punitive policies of the government: an uncertainty of our relationship with our biggest trading partner, plus the shutting down of supply routes due to strikes and lack of rail cars because oil is flowing on our tracks instead of safely through our pipelines; barricades that created dangerous situations and prevented products from being shipped; carbon taxes on heating and cooling systems that are necessary for manufacturing; and increased payroll taxes and red tape.
People feel they have been attacked and ignored by the government. They know that CUSMA is an imperfect, but necessary agreement to provide better predictability in our relationships with Canada's largest trading partner. Therefore, we are here ready to pass Bill C-4.
The Aluminum Association of Canada said, “As part of the ongoing collaboration between the Government of Canada and industry, we intend to initiate discussions with the government to encourage Mexico to implement a similar measure, which would help limit the arrival of products that do not comply with the rules of the agreement between our three countries.” Canada's aluminum industry is concerned by the government's failure to secure the same made-in-North American provision for aluminum as was given to steel. Canada is North America's largest producer of aluminum.
While the 70% rule of origin included looks good on paper, in reality the failure to include a smelted and poured definition, which is what the industry is asking of in Mexico, will leave the North American industry vulnerable to dumping from overseas, particularly through Mexico.
As well, the government needs to report on the status of the $2 billion in tariffs, the revenue that it has collected thus far, to ensure it actually was used to support Canadian businesses impacted by those tariffs. The manufacturers in my communities were very discouraged by what they saw in the government's behaviour when they were facing shut downs, including its suggestion that it help the manufacturers deal with it by giving more EI. They did not want more EI; they wanted to keep those people working.
As well, there is an urgency to develop a strategy to market Canadian aluminum as the greenest in the world to help shore up our competitiveness in existing and emerging markets. This is part of the Conservative environmental plan. It looks at showcasing and bragging to the world about what Canada already has done and how we can help to impact the global issues on climate change that have impacted so many other countries that are not as clean as Canada.
Then there are our dairy farmers.
The largest group left behind by the government during the negotiations is Canada's dairy sector. The government has managed to simultaneously shrink the opportunities for dairy producers and processors at home, while also limiting their ability to grow by exporting.
Canada agreed to place a worldwide cap on exports of certain dairy products in CUSMA, which is unprecedented in regional trade agreements. As the nation's prosperity depends on reliable access to global markets in every market, but specifically in dairy, Canada must not agree to this kind of provision in any future trade agreement. Why would the government say yes to giving the U.S. that kind of power over our sovereignty and our opportunity to trade as we wish with other countries?
This concession is an affront to our sovereignty and there is no excuse or rational argument for this capitulation to go hat in hand to the U.S. to ask if we can please have its permission to export dairy to any country with which we choose to trade.
There are so many areas that are faulty in this agreement, which stakeholders brought to the attention of the committee, and we were able to create recommendations for the government to move forward and to rectify a lot of those issues.
Regarding government procurement, we have no chapter on being able to secure Canada's access to the U.S. market.
Regarding auto, Canada's exports of motor vehicles to the U.S. will decline by $1.5 billion relative to the current trade regime under NAFTA, and imports would decrease by $1.2 billion. In light of the hardships faced by Ontario's auto sector, which were compounded by the punitive actions of the government against our competitiveness, it must fulfill the auto sector's request to delay the implementation of CUSMA for the auto sector until January 2021 to allow it to adjust to the new climate of the deal.
Regarding forestry, so many mills have closed and support services, small businesses and whole communities have been brought to a standstill by the government's indifference. They do not deserve this attitude from their Prime Minister, whom they expect to re-engage right now with the United States trade representative to find a solution to this issue.
Regarding cultural exemption, the price of protecting it in CUSMA was to open ourselves up to retaliatory tariffs not limited to that sector. For example, if Canada decides to implement a digital service tax for a company such as Netflix, the United States would be within its right, as per CUSMA, to place a tariff of equal commercial effect on any Canadian export.
These are just a few of the examples of where the government has capitulated to the U.S.. The U.S. reply to the whole document is a huge document of all of its successes. Ours, from what I understand the previous minister of trade on this side of the House said, was 72 pages long. Clearly, Canada has not come out on the best circumstances here, but as stakeholders have said, we just need to get this done and move on, hopefully in the future with better arrangements.