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View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Chair.
Welcome to our witnesses. It's good to see a lot of you again. I know we've met quite often over the last two years. It's good to be back at this standing committee talking about the issues that we all care about.
I understand, of course, from all three of you, that there is a great desire to see this agreement implemented as quickly as possible, and our committee is working under a pretty strict timeline. We only just, at the last committee meeting, received the invitation from the chair of the Standing Committee on International Trade requesting our committee's recommendations and any suggested amendments.
If I'm reading the room right, given your study of the particular clauses that this committee is concerned with, sure, there may be room for some improvement, but you're generally pretty happy with the way they are.
I want to change tack a little bit. The problem I've had, and indeed the problem my party has had, with the way trade deals have been negotiated is that when we, as a legislative body, receive the implementation act, it's basically a fait accompli. That's why I find the other chair's invitation for us to suggest recommendations or any amendments problematic, because, of course, if we were to suggest any amendments to the act, that would require Canada to reopen negotiations.
We are essentially, as a legislative body, faced with a final product and a yes or no. Negotiating a trade agreement, of course, is a royal prerogative of the Crown, and as a legislative body, we're always trying to find ways to get more involved.
I'd like to hear from each of you going forward, because we know there are some significant trade negotiations that are coming up with South America and possibly Canada and the U.K.
My colleague Daniel Blaikie, on the international trade committee, brought up the issue—and it was confirmed by the Deputy Prime Minister today—about how the government is now going to notify Parliament of an intention to start trade negotiations 90 days in advance. We will now get a statement of our objectives in those trade negotiations, and now we're going to get economic impact statements tabled with the implementing legislation. I think this is a great win for all parliamentarians because it gives us a role like the ones the U.S. Congress and the European Union have, to be there from the start so that we feel like we've had some proper input.
I would just like to hear from each of you your thoughts on those proposals. I think that, as a committee, we don't really have a lot of latitude with this particular agreement. There's a lot of pressure to get it done, and I certainly understand the concerns out there with the uncertainty south of the border.
I'll let you start off, and then we'll go down the line.
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