Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 21:30 [p.29360]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Durham for his speech.
Today we are debating the new NAFTA. The government announced that it wanted to fast-track it. For the Trans-Pacific Partnership we heard more than 400 witnesses in committee. There are just three days left before the House adjourns for the summer, followed by the election.
Does the member for Durham think this is all a pre-election spectacle by the government to show Canadians that it is resolving the matter of free trade, or is the Prime Minister simply sending a message to President Trump, telling him that he is taking care of it and will see him next week?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 21:32 [p.29360]
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois does not oppose the implementation of the new NAFTA, now known as CUSMA. We had two conditions for agreeing to consider the bill. We stated our reasons more than once, and I even wrote about them in the U.S. media. First, we wanted the issue of the steel and aluminum tariffs to be resolved. That has been done. However, there is also the issue of supply management, which has not been resolved.
The government wants to ram through the implementation bill for the agreement, and we are opposed to that. As I indicated in my previous question, more than 400 witnesses were invited to appear before the committee when it was studying the trans-Pacific partnership. However, to date, no witnesses have been invited to speak about CUSMA, the new NAFTA. We are therefore opposed to its implementation, because it puts the cart before the horse.
In Washington, Congress has barely started looking at the new agreement, and Congress has the authority to sign international agreements. The text that the Prime Minister signed in November may change. We know that the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, disagree with the Republicans, who control the U.S. Senate, about a number of things. The Democrats may well demand changes to the agreement before they endorse it. As of now, Congress has not even drafted the bills to implement the agreement, yet here we are debating ours. This makes no sense. Implementing an agreement that has not even been finalized is nothing more than pre-election smoke and mirrors.
Where is the fire? NAFTA is still in force and will remain in force after the dissolution of the House. There is no rush. I understand the government wanting to cross a few things off its to-do list, but doing a sloppy job is not the right way to bolster its record. Doing things properly means waiting. Furthermore, this agreement has some very real implications, and the government has not even bothered to listen to the people it will affect. That is a major problem.
Like all agreements, this one has winners and losers. The losers will need compensation, guidance and help, and that needs to happen at the same time as ratification, not afterwards, on the 12th of never. We know that promises made before ratification are quickly forgotten. Just look at the workers in the shipbuilding industry. They were told they would be compensated, and the next day, they were forgotten. We can also think of workers in the clothing, furniture, agriculture and automotive industries. They are getting no support.
We all know that this agreement was signed at the expense of our supply-managed farmers, our regions and our agricultural model. There is nothing to help them deal with this, nothing but vague promises. There was nothing in the notice of ways and means motion tabled a few weeks ago either.
After four years, we know what this government's promises are worth. It has been two years since CETA and the TPP were signed, but our farmers have yet to see even a hint of any cheques, and they will not get one red cent before the election. Despite its lofty promises, the government has done nothing. It should be ashamed. Because of its inaction, any commitments made in the budget have become campaign promises. Canadians have been burned, so all trust is gone.
With respect to CUSMA, the programs should already be in place when the agreement comes into force. Our farmers have been fleeced twice now, but they will not be fleeced a third time.
I want to address another issue of concern to dairy farmers. With CUSMA, Donald Trump will have control over the export of milk proteins, class 7. That is an unprecedented surrender of sovereignty by this government. Our farmers can currently sell surplus milk protein on foreign markets. If the agreement comes into force too quickly, there is a good chance that Washington and President Donald Trump will completely block our exports. It is worrisome. The risk is very real. That would completely destabilize Quebec's dairy industry.
If we get our protein exports in order before the agreement is implemented, there is a chance that the Americans will see the matter as resolved and will let it go. That is what we want. The last three agreements were signed at the expense of our producers. If the government implements this agreement in the worst way possible, it will cause irreparable harm. I think our farmers have been punished enough by the government. Enough is enough. For this reason alone, it is worth waiting. I think we all agree on that.
As I was saying, we do not systematically oppose every free trade agreement. We support free trade in principle. Quebec needs free trade. I also want to say that CUSMA, the new NAFTA, is not all bad. If I were a Canadian, I would probably think that the Minister of Foreign Affairs got a good deal. For example, she shielded Ontario's auto sector from potential tariffs. She also protected Canada's banking sector from American competition. That is not nothing. It is good for Ontario. She maintained access to the American market for grain from the west. This is good for the Prairies. This is a good agreement for Canada.
She also took back Canada's control over the oil trade, which Brian Mulroney abandoned in 1988. Alberta must be happy. For once, I am not being heckled too much. She did away with the infamous chapter 11 on investments and preserved the cultural exception. That is good. However, the specific gains for Quebec are less clear. I talked about supply-managed producers. I could talk about how the Government of Quebec will have to pay more for biologic drugs and will no longer be able to collect QST on packages arriving from the United States from Amazon or other web giants. Small retailers will find themselves at a disadvantage. What is more, copyright will be extended from 50 years to 70.
In short, we need to look at all of those things in order to implement measures that will help Quebeckers benefit from the new opportunities that are available and put programs in place to compensate those the government abandoned during the negotiations. We need to do all that before we vote on this legislation. No party in the House deserves to be given a blank cheque.
I hope that, after the election, the Bloc Québécois will have the balance of power. That is what political analysts are saying could happen. Then, there will be no more blank cheques.
An hon. member: Oh, oh!
Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie: Madam Speaker, the member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert will see. For the first time in years, Quebeckers will be able to rest assured that their interests are being taken into account. In order to do that, we need to wait before voting on the NAFTA implementation bill. There is no hurry.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 21:41 [p.29361]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his thoughtful question.
Before I answer, I do not think I made myself clear in my speech, so I wanted to say again that I will be sharing my time with the member for Davenport. The microphone was off, but—
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 21:42 [p.29362]
Madam Speaker, I also said that I wanted to share my time with the member for Davenport, but you could not hear me because the microphone was off.
I therefore ask the unanimous consent of the House to share my time.
An hon. member: No.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-18 21:42 [p.29362]
Madam Speaker, I am really disappointed that the member who asked the question opposed the motion.
There are times when we do not get our requests met as we would like. It is nice when we manage to agree on how to play the parliamentary game, but when people act in bad faith, it complicates things.
Indeed, it is troubling that the copyright period has been extended from 50 years to 70 years. It is important to take the time in committee to consult experts and the people who could be affected. Extending it from 50 to 70 years will have many repercussions on radio stations that broadcast cultural programming. Let me give a bit of a silly example. Playing Elvis Presley songs did not cost anything, but what is it going to cost for another 20 years? That is problematic. That said, we need to listen to producers and broadcasters to properly evaluate it. That is why I am saying we should not rush this.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-12 16:50 [p.29011]
Mr. Speaker, several of the amendments that were rejected came directly from the oil lobby. However, some of the amendments would have affirmed respect for the provinces' rights and municipalities' land use plans. Why were these amendments rejected? The Bloc Québécois proposed similar amendments in committee.
Why must the provinces' rights and municipal land use regulations always be ignored?
View Monique Pauzé Profile
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-11 13:58 [p.28912]
Mr. Speaker, I heard my colleague's comments about the softwood lumber, steel, aluminum and automotive sectors, but I did not hear him say anything about supply-managed producers.
We are being asked to ratify this quickly, but would that not mean giving the government a blank cheque to ratify the agreement without compensating our supply-managed producers? We should be sending a cheque to every supply-managed producer rather than giving this government a blank cheque.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-04 13:39 [p.28490]
Mr. Speaker, it is time to take a look at the Liberals' record. There are two and a half weeks left in this Parliament. The budget implementation bill that is before us today is the government's last. Anything not contained in that bill will have to wait until after the election. Budget 2019 is consistent with this government's approach of saying one thing and doing the opposite.
First, let us talk about this so-called green government. Since the last election, bitumen extraction in Alberta has skyrocketed. We are talking about an increase of 25%. That is no small thing. Extraction grew even faster than under Stephen Harper. In fact, production has grown so much that it has exceeded transport capacity.
Today, the Liberals and the Conservatives would have us believe that there is a pipeline problem, but that is not the case. There is an overproduction problem, which is not the same thing. To limit overproduction, the government is proposing to support new investments in the oil sands with accelerated capital cost allowance. A total of $2.7 billion in taxpayers' money will be wasted on this tax expenditure.
In one year alone, the government announced $19 billion in new oil investments. The oil industry certainly got the message. If you look at production estimates, it is clear that the industry wants to maintain the level of growth it has seen the past four years. This will result in more overproduction and cause prices to continue their downturn. This is meant to make us believe that more pipelines are inevitable and that we have no choice but to export and pollute more.
The direct consequence of this government's policies is that energy east will be forced back on us. The Liberal government is working to keep us in the 20th century, bogged down in the tar sands.
Mr. Alain Rayes: Where do you get your gas?
Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie: Mr. Speaker, at my daughter's school there is a big banner saying “zero tolerance for bullying”. The previous Conservative member who spoke accused the Liberals of bullying, and now the member for Victoriaville is hurling epithets and questions at me. There should be zero tolerance for bullying here too. We have a right to speak without being interrupted.
To get back to what I was saying, that is not what we need in Quebec. We have already started to go green. GHG emissions per capita are two and a half times lower in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. A policy for the 21st century is to make polluting expensive and avoiding pollution profitable.
I can already hear the Liberals saying that they created the carbon tax, so let us talk about it. The government imposes a tax, then gives the money back to those who paid it. It is a circle that does not result in any real transfer of wealth from polluters to the good guys. It does not make it profitable to go green. It will not result in a true green shift. It does not entitle anyone to make green speeches. It is merely an image, just like the government has been since it was elected: an image, no more, no less, but definitely no more.
Let us move on. In the lead-up to the budget, the Bloc québécois reached out to Quebeckers, and what we consistently heard was that their main priorities are health and education. There is nothing about that in the budget. Health transfers have been capped at 3% for two years, and yet, health costs in Quebec have risen by 5.2%. You do not need a Nobel prize in mathematics to see that there is a problem. The healthcare system is stretched to its limit, and wait times are getting longer. Something has to give, and everyone knows it.
Everything I have just said about the healthcare system also applies to education. Teachers are as burnt out as nurses. It is the same problem, except that, in this case, transfers were capped at 3% 15 years ago. Health and education are Quebeckers’ two main priorities. There is nothing about that in Bill C-97. The government decided to gradually move away from Quebecker’s priorities. That is abundantly clear in Bill C-97.
Now, let us look at the measures the government has taken to stimulate the economy. Its primary measure involves infrastructure. In and of itself, that is a good thing, but the methods used are another story. By multiplying specific programs, each one with very strict criteria, Ottawa has ruined everything. Federal requirements have caused a tug of war with Quebec and will paralyze the entire process. The result is striking: the money is starting to trickle down just before the election. We had to wait a long time. In the first two years of its term, the government spent $100 per Quebecker and $700 for each Canadian outside Quebec.
We know the federal government is building precious little infrastructure. It owns barely 2% of all public infrastructure, while the provinces and municipalities own 98%. Through federal transfers, the government is financing infrastructure that does not belong to it, that is not within its jurisdiction and that it does not have the means to prioritize intelligently. The government had good intentions, but the whole undertaking has been a monumental failure on the ground.
The money is not flowing. The federal criteria are too rigid and do not meet communities' needs. During the last election campaign, the Liberals promised to transfer blocks of infrastructure funding. They promised to mind their own business and do their job. That is yet another broken promise, and Quebec is paying the price.
As I said, my leader and I have been travelling around a lot listening to Quebeckers. People do not realize how future-focused Quebec is. Quebeckers are creative and innovative. Yesterday's tinkerers are now developing video games, designing new aircraft and working on artificial intelligence. Year after year, Quebec accounts for between 40% and 45% of Canada's tech exports, even though its share of Canada's economy is only half that much.
In metropolitan areas across Quebec, there are at least 5,000 technology startups. I think of it as Silicon Valley North. What is in Bill C-97 for technology? Is it an aerospace policy? No. Is it patient capital to let our technology start-ups develop here in Canada rather than being bought out by U.S. web giants? It is not that either.
However, there is some venture capital to help out the rest of Canada. That is how it is in all areas. When Quebec succeeds, Ottawa is not there. Take supply management, for example. Our regional agriculture lends itself well to local distribution. That is the future. Instead of helping, the government is hurting agriculture. It has signed three trade agreements with three breaches, and not a single penny has been paid to farmers.
We scoured Bill C-97 for the compensation, but it is not there. Our producers were taken for a ride. They will get nothing before the election. That is also the case for Davie. Does Bill C-97 announce a review of its horrible naval strategy? The answer is obviously no.
The same goes for the fight against tax havens. These loopholes allow banks and multi-millionaires to get out of paying taxes. The government needs to act fast, but instead, it has legalized three new tax havens. In my private member's bill, I proposed a working solution to close the loopholes, but, of course, all the Liberals but one voted it down. Like the sheriff of Nottingham, they would rather defend fat cats than low-income workers. The Conservatives also voted against my bill, but at least they were being true to type. Unlike the Liberals, they do not try to dress up as Robin Hood.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-04 13:48 [p.28491]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît for her question. Her comments were very astute.
As I said in my speech, under this government's watch, oil sands extraction has increased by 25%. That says it all. This government says it cares about the environment and that it is polluting less, yet extraction has increased by 25% in four years.
Next, I talked about their notorious carbon tax. They are rewarding those who pollute. This is not a wealth transfer or incentive for those who pollute less, nor is it a penalty for polluters. It is an empty gesture that is meant to sound environmentally responsible, but when we really look at the actions taken, it is not the same thing. That is why Canada's reputation around the world on environmental matters has plummeted to zero. This is simply not good enough, considering the urgency. Urgent action is needed. We cannot afford to let the situation deteriorate any further. All reports from the IPCC and scientists are telling us that we need to act now, that strong action is needed right away.
These measures could also help Quebec's economy. We have everything we need to transition to a green economy, a forward-looking, 21st century economy. The only thing missing is the will on the other side of the House, which clearly is not there. We hear nothing but empty rhetoric.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2019-06-04 13:51 [p.28491]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for his words of praise for Quebec's carbon pricing system, which is working quite well, though much still remains to be done.
With respect to the national carbon tax, I would say that its criteria are lacking. Major polluters are currently exempt, and only consumers, meaning Canadians, are paying it and receiving a cheque in return.
If we really want to leverage this measure to bring about a change in behaviour, we have to start by going after the main emitters, rewarding those who do good things for the environment and punishing those who increase pollution.
Yes, it is a good idea, and it sounds good, but as for the real, concrete impact, the Bloc Québécois and I believe it is not enough.
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2019-06-03 15:22 [p.28418]
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois agrees to apply the result from the previous vote and is voting in favour of the motion.
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