Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell members how excited I was when I saw that job creation in Central Nova was going to be on the docket for debate today, which is what international trade is all about.
Whether we are talking about the agrifood producers in the Musquodoboit Valley, the fisheries on the north Northumberland Strait on the eastern shore, small businesses in Antigonish, or manufacturers in Pictou county, international trade is about generating new business and ultimately creating jobs, which is my top priority as long as I hold this office.
Before I begin, I would like to take a moment to highlight the global context within which this debate about the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement takes place.
There is a growing trend toward what I will call inward facing politics. Quite honestly, I find this to be one of the most troubling political trends, and potentially the greatest intellectual debate that we may have in a generation next to climate change.
What I see around the world, whether it is with Brexit or a rise of nationalism in different parts of the world, is an attitude that we do not need our neighbours to get by. When it comes to matters of immigration to security, economics or climate change, I firmly believe we are better when we work together, when we co-operate.
It is easy to understand where this belief comes from. When we talk about billions and billions of dollars, when we frame everything in the context of GDP, I can empathize with many people at home who perhaps see these numbers and think that is not working for them. However, I could not disagree more strongly, because international trade is one of the avenues that we can pursue to help grow our economy and create jobs in my own community.
The starting point for me is that economic development is a good thing. Perhaps it is a bit obvious, but it is worth stating. It is not just because we have the opportunity to have more money in our bank accounts. With economic development, we see improved health care outcomes and better hospital care for our kids. We see improved economics and job creation in our communities so people have something meaningful to do with their career. We see better education opportunities for young people in our communities. We see more vibrant communities and ultimately a higher quality of life for Canadians.
How do we get to economic development in Canada?
I look at some of our assets. We have an abundance of natural resources. We have been blessed in every square inch of the country to be able to produce something. We also have an incredibly skilled workforce. We have tremendous education. We have the tools to make economic development work for our communities.
However, one of the shortcomings we have as a country is a small population relative to the magnitude of our resources and our skilled workforce. What we have to do to turn these opportunities into jobs is start selling to customers outside of our own country. This is where international trade comes into the picture for me.
If we can open up new markets for our natural resources and the products we create with our skilled workforce, we will be able to put more people to work in our own communities. This is why I have been incredibly thrilled with the approach that the government has taken toward international trade. Indeed, after some strong advocacy by my colleagues in the Atlantic caucus on this side of the House, we have managed to secure investment and trade as a key pillar to the Atlantic growth strategy, which was announced this past summer.
With this context in mind, I would like to turn this into a more local discussion.
When I look at these small businesses in my riding, I need to look no further than MacKay Meters on Abercrombie Road in Pictou county to identify a perfect opportunity of how the Canada-European Union trade agreement is going to create jobs in my home town. This is an incredibly innovative company that makes parking metres. There is only a handful of companies that make parking metres in the global community, and these guys do it better than anybody.
The company makes solar-powered parking metres, sometimes made almost exclusively of recycled materials. It is also very close to working on a technology that can retrofit its parking metres to become electric vehicle chargers. It also holds a patent that allows it to accept major credit cards for payment for parking and potentially for charging electric vehicles.
When I look at what is going on around the world, I see the Netherlands has adopted legislation that says that after 2025, it will not be selling any more cars that use gas or diesel to move the wheels. It is going to be purchasing electric vehicles in Europe. If I want to be able to create an opportunity for a company that has a manufacturing base in my community and a research and development office in Halifax, I would look no further than this group that has powered automobiles across Europe for a generation.
It is not just one company. There are a lot of small and medium-sized businesses that generate positive economic outcomes. I can look at Velsoft, a company that creates computer training materials for tech giants like Microsoft, that will not face unfair tariffs and that will help expand its access to global markets. I can look at a company like Bionovations based in Antigonish that manufactures through its own research and development shipping containers that allow it to transport live seafood, which is our nation's second-largest export, and a massive opportunity for eastern Canada.
While I am on the lobster fishery, we are already seeing incredible economic returns from a policy of engaging with the world when it comes to our seafood exports.
In lobster fishing communities there are only a couple of things one can do to really have a bumper crop, so to speak. There could be more fish in the water, which is, for the most part, beyond the scope of government policy, or there could be a better price for the fish that we sell. Last year, it was incredible to see fishermen in my community getting $7.75 a pound, which is nearly unheard of. The best thing I can have for some of the communities that I represent, whether it is Sheet Harbour, Lismore, Sonora, is a high price on lobster. This is a terrific thing, although it might be personally inconvenient for me at times when I get hungry at home.
This agreement will help sustain rural Canada. We are going to be saving little fishing communities along the eastern shore and the Northumberland Strait if we continue to engage with the world. The demand for Nova Scotia lobster creeps higher and higher with every conversation we have with another member of the global community.
It is not just the primary industry or the small manufacturers that are going to benefit. We have tremendous opportunity in 21st century sectors like the aerospace industry. We have Halifax international airport in my riding. The Aerotech Business Park is right there as well. Pratt & Whitney Canada is currently subject to significant barriers to trade and tariffs when it comes to the EU, which is the largest importer of aerospace technology. I see an opportunity for these innovation players, like Pratt & Whitney, in and around the airport. If that means there will be more aerospace engineers working in communities I have been elected to represent, I will feel as though I am doing my job fairly well.
We also have tremendous opportunities when it comes to transportation. I have two coasts in my riding, each of which is dotted with shipyards and ports. The port in Sheet Harbour would love to have open access for local markets to the European Union. It has a deepwater port that it would love to expand and take on the increased traffic that would be shipping. There would be more work for the stevedores and their community.
It is not just international trade from which we have such a great benefit. Embracing modern trade agreements like this also promote investment in our communities.
I need to look no further than the shipyard in Pictou where it manufactured turbines that went into commission just recently to generate 21st century clean power through tidal resources in Parrsboro. This is a benefit to the entire region, promoting clean energy and high-skill manufacturing jobs that we can do in Canada, and we need to be promoting them.
If we can give certainty to investors around the world so they have their international companies putting money from somewhere else into the communities that we represent in Canada, that create jobs for people in our communities, we can be very proud.
As I mentioned at the outset, my number one priority from the moment I stepped into this office was to create more jobs at home. By promoting international trade and opening up markets for Canadian businesses in the European Union, we will create opportunities for the private sector to grow and hire more people who live in Pictou county, Antigonish, the Musquodoboit Valley, the Eastern Shore, and everywhere in between.
By standing up and speaking in support of this legislation, I will have done the job I have been elected to do and I will help businesses create work for the people who so desperately need jobs at home.