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Results: 1 - 7 of 7
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-12-03 12:48 [p.1675]
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to contribute to the debate on Bill C-4. It is a very comprehensive piece of legislation and goes a long way toward keeping Canada at the level it has already achieved, not by Canada's standards but by international standards, which is the number one place to do business in the world.
That is remarkable. Canadians are not used to being number one. We are kind of modest people and have kept quiet about that, but the reality is that being number one in the world is no small task and did not happen by accident. It happened because of very deliberate actions. The actions we have taken over the last number of years since the great recession in 2008 have put us in this position, and our position is unique.
I go to Washington to deal with my counterparts in the U.S. legislative arm on a continuous basis, and they ask me all the time what it is that Canada has done. In fact, we have been dubbed by some people in America as “the miracle to the north”. They want to know what it is that Canada has done that has brought us to the position of being named by the IMF and the OECD as the number one place to do business in the world, the place with the greatest opportunity over the next number of years to do business.
Creating a million jobs since the recession is no small task. That is a very large number, and very significant. How did that happen? How is it that we rate number one?
The reality is that we have made, let us say, four broad strokes of fundamental change in direction from the direction that our opponents would have taken in Canada.
First, we lowered taxes. We did not increase them. In fact, we lowered them some 160 times, which I will talk about in a minute. Second, we shrank the size of government; third, we freed up the private sector; and, fourth, we have gone after international markets.
I will break those down, because they are rather significant if they are lumped together as a direction and formula for success. All of the G7 countries are looking at similar things to do, but they are having a difficult time doing them.
Let me begin by talking about shrinking the size of government.
Shrinking the size of government is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it is very difficult to do. We went through every department, making certain that if we could do something better as a government we would try to be more efficient in doing that, and we lowered the cost of doing business in Canada so it would put us on a track to make certain that we can compete in the world. It is worthy of note that before the recession, when this government got into power in 2006, we paid down some $37 billion going into the recession so that the debt to GDP ratio was considerably lower at that time. Since that time, we have grown so fast that our debt to GDP ratio has not been compromised. In fact, it is interesting to note that we were at 34.6% in GDP in 2012. Some people would say that is just a number, but let us look at Europe.
We just signed a free trade agreement with Europe. The number one driver of the economy in Europe, let us say, is Germany. Germany's debt to GDP ratio is 57.2%, but the average of the G7 is over 90%. We are almost three times less than the average in terms of debt to GDP ratio.
Are we in good stead? There is a reason for the OECD and the IMF to say that Canada is doing very well, and it is because we have been disciplined as government.
On top of that, when I speak with my counterparts in the United States and tell them that we are forecasting balanced books by 2015, they say they just fought a debt ceiling crisis in October and they are going to have to do it again early in the new year. They say the big debate is about how much more money they can borrow and have printed.
Canada is not printing money. We are creating jobs and opportunity for the private sector to create the prosperity that Canadians deserve and should have as a country, and we are actually achieving that.
This is considerably different from what our counterparts across the way would have done. In fact, the NDP has said that it would have brought in a carbon tax and increased taxes on everything from—
Hon. Greg Rickford: Soup to nuts.
Hon. Rob Merrifield: Yes, soup to nuts. I suppose we could say it that way. They would raise the taxes on absolutely everything.
As for the Liberals, if we want to know what a party is going to do, we should look at what it has done. When the Liberals were in power, they said they balanced the books. Yes, they did, on the backs of the provinces, health care, and social services. It is one thing to say we are going to balance the books; it is another thing to say we are going to balance the books by lowering taxes, not raising them, and by making certain that the transfers to the provinces are not impeded. In fact, we are increasing those transfers.
Let me talk about taxes for a second, because that aspect is rather significant. We have cut taxes over 160 different ways during that time period, providing an extra $3,200 per average family of four. People who had a job in 2008 and still have the same job now are paying that much less tax. That is very significant.
In the business sector, small- and medium-sized businesses are the ones that are really creating the jobs. We have lowered the taxes for them as well, from 12% down to 11%, but on the corporate taxes, we went from 28% over the years down to 15%. We even kept lowering those taxes during the recession. That takes a lot of leadership and a lot of understanding of what drives the economy.
Do members realize that with the taxes now at 15%, we are bringing in more corporate revenue to the federal government to deal with all the social services and all the issues that we have in lower-income brackets than we brought in at 28%? That is an amazing statistic, but it is very worthy of note in looking at what has actually happened with regard to lowering taxes.
We lowered the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. It is very significant. Everyone who buys anything in this country is realizing the benefit from that. This is no small feat.
What does the corporate tax being at 15% do to us? We are creating lots of growth because of the competitive advantage we have with our largest trading partner. The corporate tax rate in America is 35%. That is compared to 15%; no wonder businesses are coming back into Canada. We saw that the headquarters of Tim Hortons, as an example, went to the United States because of the tax advantage. Then they came back. Why? It is the same reason: the tax advantage.
Those are the kinds of things we are seeing right across the entire spectrum in the private sector.
I said that we shrank government. We lowered taxes, which is very significant. What else did we do? We freed up the private sector, and that sector is what is really creating the jobs. We brought in a piece of legislation saying that for major projects, it would be one project, one review, at two years maximum. Those are phenomenal opportunities for the private sector.
We have lowered the red tape some 20% to 30% right across the board. Can we do more? Yes, and we absolutely have to do more when it comes to freeing up the private sector. I have had American counterparts tell me that they can go in and do one-stop shopping for projects and get approval. It is not that they are compromising on the approval but that they are doing it in a more streamlined way. We have to do more than that because we are not there yet, but we have certainly come a long way.
Freeing up the private sector to capitalize on the opportunities that we have in some of our trade agreements becomes very significant. That is the fourth thing that we did. We not only freed up the private sector to compete, but then we went after international agreements so they could compete and capitalize on free trade agreements, such as the one we just signed with the European Union. It is the largest, most comprehensive free trade agreement ever signed between any two countries anywhere in the world.
Members may ask where that came from. Is NAFTA not the largest free trade agreement ever signed in the world? Well, it was at the time. Our opponents disagreed with that, and even today they disagree with NAFTA. It is amazing. That is so, even though it created 40 million jobs, and even though the GDP of the three countries of Mexico, the United States, and Canada, which were at $7.6 trillion at the time of signing, have gone to over $17 trillion today. That could not have been realized when they signed the agreement. No one would have forecast that kind of growth. Everyone just said that it was a good opportunity for more trade, but nobody would have put all the pieces together to say that collectively we would raise our GDP and raise opportunity and prosperity in our three countries to that degree.
I would suggest that the same thing will happen with the European free trade agreement. Europe actually imports some $2.3 trillion a year. It is amazing how much more we can capitalize on that.
This does not happen by accident. Pieces of legislation like this take real leadership. Real opportunity for Canadians is what we are looking for. We are saying that these will get us to success, and that is true.
Before closing my remarks, I want to say that our greatest threat in Canada and in this room should be looking at what happens when these principles are not followed. The United States has gone down from a AAA rating to a AA. Heaven forbid that it ever goes to an A rating, which would compromise it all because of a lack of leadership. We need to stay the course.
I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this piece of legislation.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-10-29 14:54 [p.548]
Mr. Speaker, signing the historic trade agreement with the European Union makes Canada the only major developed country to have preferential access to the world's two largest economies, the economies of the European Union and the United States.
It is really unfortunate that the NDP and its anti-trade allies mislead Canadians about the importance of the trade agreement. They are actually claiming that the agreement will harm our ability to create jobs. Of course they said the same thing about the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Could the Minister of International Trade please help clear up these allegations?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-02-28 10:03 [p.14409]
Mr. Speaker, with a continuing desire to grow our economy and create more jobs for Canadians by way of international trade, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on International Trade, a report of an economic partnership agreement between Canada and Japan. Japan is the third-largest economy in the world and, as such, very important to Canada.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-11-07 16:04 [p.12066]
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to share my comments on a bill that should have been passed two and a half years ago. We are in the eleventh hour of debate on this bill, which is certainly not being rammed through. It should have been passed long ago.
We are a trading nation, as most members of the House and Canadians know. It is something to see the magnitude of trade that we do in Canada as we look at what has happened over our history. Eighty-five per cent of our trade has been with our southern neighbour, the United States.
Here I want to take the opportunity to congratulate President Obama for his win last evening and the people of Michigan for their decision to allow the new bridge to be built between Windsor and Detroit. The existing bridge is the largest trading bridge anywhere in the world. At times there is $2 billion a day in trade going across that bridge, so it is very important that a new bridge be built.
As I said, about 85% of our international trade has been with the United States, whereas last year it was about 73%. We are becoming less dependent on the United States and more dependent on other markets, such as the one we are debating under this piece of legislation, Panama's.
It is impressive to see the number of jobs created because of our international trade. One in every five Canadian jobs is generated through exports and 63% of our country's annual GDP is created because of international trade. Therefore, it is very important that we get this piece of legislation through. Panama is the hub of the Americas and a very important logistical platform for us to trade with in Central America.
This is a continuation of an agenda that our government has had since coming into office. We have signed nine different free trade agreements, including with countries such as Colombia, Jordan, Peru and Honduras; and with the European Free Trade Association, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. This is long overdue. We are very aggressively pursuing other countries with regard to free trade agreements, seen in the Canada-European Union free trade agreement, for example. We look forward to the final text perhaps being out before year end.
I was with the trade committee in Japan last week and was very encouraged by what we heard regarding a bilateral trade agreement with Japan, the world's third largest economy.
When we add all of these up and see exactly what we are doing, the possibilities of moving forward on our trade agenda are very encouraging.
Just to look at what we have done with NAFTA and the United States, since NAFTA was signed some 18 or so years ago, that agreement has created about 40 million jobs. The GDP of the three countries was a little over $7 trillion at the time of signing and is now over $17 trillion now. Between the three countries, we are now trading almost $1 trillion a year. It is very significant.
Canadians realize the importance of a trade agenda. What I cannot understand is where the opposition is at with regard to our trade agenda. Even today, opposition members say that they do not like and would get rid of the NAFTA agreement. They say they would never support it and never have supported it. It does not matter what kind of logic we use or what kind of math we put in front of them to show them the benefits of it, they disagree with it. This is something that I absolutely do not understand.
The opposition members have disagreed with all of the nine free trade agreements our government has signed, except maybe the one with Jordan, which they could not come to a decision on. They had to sit on their hands because they did not want to show that they were somewhat supportive of that agreement. When we look at the Canada-Panama free trade agreement, I would suggest that it is much more beneficial even than the agreement with Jordan. Yet the opposition filibusters and accuses the government of trying to ram it through.
There has been a lot of debate on the Canada-Panama free trade agreement, and it is amazing what is in that piece of legislation and what it will do for our agriculture sector. Agriculture is near and dear to my heart, as we farm about 3,000 acres of canola and wheat. It is important for us to understand the size of agriculture in Canada. The agrifood sector actually generates 8% of our GDP. It creates one in eight jobs in this country. That is 2.2 million jobs in Canada created because of agriculture. There is some $41 billion created because of trade in our agricultural products in international markets. Almost half of our total agricultural production in this country goes to international trade. Indeed, we are sixth largest exporter of agricultural products in the world.
It is very important that we make sure that we capture as many possible markets as we can for our agricultural products. Panama is the second largest market for agricultural products in Central America. This piece of legislation would allow agriculture not only to be enhanced but also for it to be done in a tariff-free way. How many tariffs are there? On the signing and implementation of this piece of legislation, 78% of Canadian agricultural exports to Panama would be tariff-free .
What are those products? The 20% tariff on frozen french fries, which help Prince Edward Island and Atlantic Canadians, would be eliminated. How about the pulse crops of the Prairies? There is a 15% tariff on those that would be eliminated immediately upon signing of this agreement. How about malt exporters, the barley growers of this country? The 10% tariff applying to them would be eliminated upon signing of this agreement.
By the way, the opposition disagrees with our getting rid of these tariffs and has fought this for two and a half years in the House. That is absolutely ridiculous when we see the benefits to these areas.
How about our beef sector, which has been plagued by the BSE crisis and all kinds of problems, including its exports to different countries around the world being shut down as a result? The producers have gone through a very difficult time. The tariff they face in the Panamanian region is 25% to 30%. That would be eliminated.
I was in Japan last week with the trade committee, where we were excited about the opening up of the export of our beef, from beef aged 21 months to beef aged 30 months now. However, Japan is another market that has been hurt because of the delays by the opposition with regard to this piece of legislation.
The tariff that really bothers me the most is the 60% to 70% tariff on our hog industry. It is amazing to see that kind of tariff placed on our hogs. That so important to us because our largest competitor in that market is the United States, which signed a free trade agreement with Panama on October 31. If we do not get our free trade agreement with Panama through the House, we will lose our competitive edge and never get it back. It is absolutely critical that we make sure that we stop playing around in the House and start doing what is right for Canadians. The opposition should get onboard.
There has been two and half years of filibustering in the House, two and a half years of wasted time and opportunity for us to be able to capitalize on the great infrastructure of the Panama Canal, as well as the opportunities for our agriculture sector and many others. The opposition says we are fast-tracking this by bringing in time allocation. I understand the NDP, because that is just their ideological bent and where they are at. They are what they are. However, two days ago we had the Liberals opposing our closure motion on this legislation. I find that really hard to understand.
Not only has the United States signed an agreement with Panama, but the European Union is also expected to sign an agreement, perhaps by the end of this year. Then we will lose a competitive edge with Europe as well.
It is absolutely amazing when we see what the opposition is doing with regard to this piece of legislation and the free trade agreements we have reached with nine different countries around the world and have been promoting. I just do not understand it.
I will quote the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, who was the vice-chair of the trade committee at one time. He said that when it comes to trade agreements, they are “job-destroying”. I do not understand where he gets that math. How can he possibly get there?
There is only one thing that we heard with regard to trade in the NDP's platform and that was a $21 billion cap and trade carbon tax. That is what the opposition is promoting, instead of the positive trade we will experience when we pass this piece of legislation. I encourage the House to get on with this. The next two hours cannot go fast enough.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-11-07 16:15 [p.12067]
We have heard for two and a half years that the reason the New Democrats are saying no to this is because of a tax haven in Panama. It was on a grey list, and it has moved from a grey list to a white list. My hon. colleague knows this. We heard it in testimony at the committee. He heard from the finance department that this is working and that there is a change with Panama. Panama has come a long way.
We could take two approaches. One approach is as we did with Jordan, where we sign an agreement to try to improve the labour situation and some of the corruption we potentially see in some of these countries. Or, we could just step aside and wait until they have their house completely in order. Our approach is to go in, engage and be able to bring them into a place that is much more positive. That is exactly where Panama is. It has gone from a grey list to a white list, and it is improving.
The hon. colleague knows full well that this is going to be worked out in this legislation, and that is the fact. The hon. colleague, if he were absolutely true to himself and to this House, would admit it.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-11-07 16:18 [p.12068]
Mr. Speaker, not only would their carbon tax be an absolute blowout, estimated at $21 billion, but with their anti-trade thing, now we are getting into serious money. If we got rid of NAFTA and all trade agreements, not only would it be an unbelievable black eye and message to the international community that our agricultural products are not the best in the world, which they are—the safest in the world and coveted by most of the world, along with our energy supply and on and on—but the amount of dollars that would be compromised would actually cripple this country. Canadians are too smart to buy this nonsense.
The opposition members are driven by ideology, based mainly on unions that are a little out of touch and self-serving. This is absolutely ridiculous. We cannot build the nation under that ideology. It is unfortunate that we have an opposition that is driven by ideology rather than actual facts and the reality that we are a trading nation and we have great optimistic opportunities as we move forward. We need to enhance and accelerate trade, not hamper it.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and a pleasure for me to stand and speak to this important piece of legislation.
I just came from chairing the international trade committee. It is a pleasure for me to serve in that capacity. When it comes to trade, it is absolutely imperative that I explain to Canadians just how important trade is to Canada.
One out of every five jobs is created because of trade. Sixty-three per cent of our GDP is represented by trade, and we have accomplished that because of trade agreements.
The trade file started with NAFTA. NAFTA has been in existence for almost 17 years. What has happened in that time period? Jobs have gone up by 23%, meaning there are 40 million net new jobs in North America because of NAFTA. Trade has tripled, and has quadrupled with one of our partners.
Opposition members argue against free trade agreements. It really puzzles me that they let the Jordan free trade agreement go through on a voice vote; it was as if their union people were not watching. It is absolutely amazing to me that they could agree with the Jordan free trade agreement and then stand in the House and give some of the arguments that I have heard recently against the Panama free trade agreement. I will talk about that in a few minutes.
I want to give one quick example about NAFTA. We heard arguments that when NAFTA came in, the wine industry in Canada would be absolutely destroyed. It would cease to exist. All those arguments were presented on the floor of the House, and they were argued vigorously.
Can members guess what happened? Canada's wine exports amounted to $1.8 billion. From all the various countries—Argentina, Australia, France, Italy, Spain—we imported $800 million in wine, so our exports doubled our imports. What a great success story, and all because of international trade. That is something my hon. colleagues should keep in mind.
What have we been doing as a country? We have signed nine different free trade agreements: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Peru, the European Free Trade Association members, and Panama, the one we are dealing with today.
What are we pursuing? We are pursuing an economic free trade agreement with Europe. We just heard testimony less than an hour ago in committee from our chief negotiator, who indicated how well that is going. We expect to have the final draft by the end of the year.
Why is that important? It is important because it is the most comprehensive free trade agreement between any two nations anywhere in the world. It will supposedly be at end of text by the end of the year. It is exciting to see how well that is going, and I compliment the negotiators on that free trade agreement.
What does that agreement mean to Canada? It means $1,000 per family per year. That is a fair amount. That is $12 billion coming into Canada every year because of the economic free trade agreement with Europe.
We are also working aggressively on another free trade agreement, in this case with Japan. The benefits to Canada would be $9 billion. As well, there is India, Brazil, Thailand.
Just a few minutes ago we heard that we are in the TPP, which, as of yesterday, is a group of 10 countries on the Pacific rim that will work on a comprehensive free trade agreement in that group.
What about China? Last year we imported $44.5 billion from China. It imported $13.2 billion from us. To equalize the trade benefit from China and to balance the trade would be a $30 billion benefit. It could be just an act of goodwill by China.
We are very excited about accelerating trade and about our opportunities with these growing countries that are in need of the products we produce and the resources, industries and intelligence we have here in Canada to offer them.
What are the elements of the Canada-Panama agreement? We trade cross-border services, telecommunications, investment, financial services, government procurement and so on.
It is important to sign this agreement and get on with it. The bill reached third reading in the last Parliament. It is important because the United States, Chile, Taiwan and Singapore already have an agreement with Panama.
What would bilateral trade with Panama mean? In 2011, trade was $235 million. We imported about $144 million in products such as metals, gold, fruit, machinery, fish and seafood products. We exported about $111 million in products such as machinery, meat, aerospace products, vegetables and so. Signing this kind of agreement would provide a great opportunity for our corporations and our country.
It is very important to understand the opportunities that lay themselves before us under this agreement on the procurement side. In Panama it is projected there will be $28.9 billion U.S. worth of infrastructure projects over the coming years. One of the largest is the Panama Canal, which is a $5.3 billion expansion and a great opportunity for Canadian corporations with regard to not only that but also ports, roads, bridges and airports, with respect to procurement.
It is important to understand that the tariffs on our agricultural products are rather intense. They go from 13.4% right up to 260% for some of our agricultural products. Imagine what the elimination of those could do with respect to exporting frozen potatoes, pulses, pork, malt barley and other products such as beef, hogs and so on. When it comes to the non-agricultural goods, the tariffs are anywhere from 6.2% right up to 81% on many of those, such as materials, equipment, industrial and electrical machinery, paper products, vehicles and so on. We can see that the potential for this is great.
The resistance I hear from the opposition members is rather interesting because they have talked about labour problems, human rights problems and environmental concerns. There is a corporate social responsibility that has been agreed to by Canadian corporations when we get into this piece of legislation. It very much encompasses environmental protection, human rights, labour relations, corporate governance, transparency, community relations, peace and security, and anti-corruption measures. Therefore, the opposition members are really blowing smoke when they say that the legislation does not include any of this. It is very important that it is there and that we sign this agreement so that Canadian companies would be able to capitalize on these kinds of opportunities.
The corporate social responsibility part of this agreement is very important. It is something that has not been talked about an awful lot here but is something that is very important. With respect to the side agreements on labour and the environment, I have heard opposition members ask why they are not encompassed within the body of the agreement. It is no different than with Jordan, for which they had no problem with standing in this House. Well, actually they did not stand; they just sat there on a voice vote and let it go unanimously at third reading. It is off to the Senate and will be passed very soon we hope. There is no difference here with respect to that, so I do not know how, in their own thinking, they can support one and not the other.
In testimony at committee we heard the most outrageous circumstances on human rights happening in some of the factories in Jordan. The members of the opposition who are on the committee heard the same testimony. There are two approaches that can be taken when we look at a free trade agreement. We can either say that unless that country comes up to Canadian standards we will disengage or just check out because there is no point, which will send a message that we would not do business with anyone who does not come up to our standards. The other approach is to engage that country as much as possible, improve its standard of living and give Canadian businesses as well as the corporations in those other countries opportunities that would help them along, so that we both win. That is the approach this government is using.
The most hypocritical position I have ever seen in this House on the trade file is the opposition members supporting Jordan but not supporting Panama, Colombia and others. It is really beyond anything I have seen. Clearly, it is something that has to be addressed when we challenge the opposition members to come on side and sign the agreement. If they say they are pro-trade then they should do it. The excuses I have heard are absolutely not excuses but rather blind ideology that hurts Canadian businesses and Canada as a country.
Canada is a wonderful country. It is the greatest country in the world, according to the IMF, the OECD and Forbes magazine. We have created 760,000 net new jobs since the bottom of the recession. We have done that by lowering taxes and giving Canadian corporations the opportunity to actually develop and move their goods and services into international trade opportunities around the world. As a government, we will continue to do that. Why? That is what Canadians expect us to do.
The NDP would like to raise taxes to get out of this recession. We believe we should grow our country. That is the way to win, and we will continue to do that.
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