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View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
NDP (QC)
View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
2018-11-27 12:54 [p.24017]
Mr. Speaker, today we are talking about the Liberals, who are proposing a hefty 850-page bill. It is an omnibus bill. It is the largest bill ever introduced in the House of Commons. The omnibus bills that the Conservatives used to introduce were 75 pages long. Today we are seeing an 800% or even 900% increase with this 851-page bill. The Liberals were elected on a promise to be more transparent and more accountable.
Furthermore, we are debating this unusually large bill under a gag order. This morning, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour was boasting about how she has already given opposition members 15 hours of debate.
According to my calculations, 15 hours of debate divided by 851 pages equals one minute and five seconds per page. Is it responsible to allocate so little time to debate a bill? I use the phrase “debate a bill” loosely, because only eight NDP MPs and five Conservative MPs spoke to this bill before today, if memory serves.
The Liberals say that they are more democratic, more transparent and more accountable, but I have my doubts. I think that everyone has reason to doubt the goodwill and good faith of the Liberals.
As my colleague from Jonquière said, this bill amends seven acts. The Liberals have never been able to tell us how many clauses and subclauses are in this mammoth bill. They themselves do not even know. They do not even know all the things they put in this bill. It is ridiculous to have to debate it under time allocation.
I will focus on just a few points in my speech because, unfortunately, nobody in the House can cover all the measures introduced in the nearly 900-page bill in just 10 minutes.
Women have been waiting 42 years for the Liberals to keep their promises on pay equity. Unions have been fighting Canada Post in court over that for 30 years. The government is yet again telling women they will have to wait. Pay equity legislation will come into force not in a matter of weeks or months, but in four years.
Our party has been a tireless advocate for this important issue. We have even proposed changes in the past. As we heard from my colleague from Jonquière, the NDP proposed 36 amendments. The Conservatives proposed amendments. The other parties proposed amendments. How many amendments did the Liberals accept? Not one single amendment was accepted, despite the fact that they reflected the demands of unions and the demands of various women's groups. Not one amendment was accepted to improve the bill, to give women a stronger voice. The Liberals did not agree to any of our suggestions.
Canada is facing some major challenges that require a bolder approach than the one the Liberals are using. The first initiatives requiring employers to determine how many people must receive more pay are a step in the right direction. However, what could possibly justify how long it will take to implement this? Is it acceptable that women continue to be underpaid for another four years under this government?
In 2018, women earn on average $12,700 less than men. If we multiply that by four, that means nearly $51,000 less for women. The government says it is proud to have introduced pay equity legislation. However, women will still have $51,000 less in their pockets, which is a lot.
If I had to summarize the government's action, I would have to say that it is nothing but half measures. The time it will take to implement pay equity is the biggest problem lurking behind the government's facade of good intentions, but it is not the only one. There is also the fact that budget implementation act, 2018, No. 2 does not require employers to apply pay equity to workers who were already under contract if changes are subsequently made to the contract following a call for tenders. Why? We do not know.
The bill also does not include any of the pay transparency measures that advocates have called for. Salaries cannot be compared when pay equity issues are being addressed. What is wrong with that picture? Will the pay equity commissioner have the resources needed to do his or her work properly? We do not know that either.
Speaking of half measures, why did the government not adopt the recommendations set out in the Bilson report, including the creation of a pay equity hearings tribunal? Lastly, the Liberals are once again professing to support equality while telling a segment of the population that is being treated unfairly to grin and bear it. I would like to remind the government that women represent 51% of the population.
The government made its choice. It chose not to make the investments needed to ensure that women receive equal pay, and chose instead to give big business, the richest people in the world, $14 billion in tax cuts. This measure was introduced last week in the Minister of Finance's fall economic statement. Did the rich and these big corporations really need that $14 billion this fall? I do not think so. They are getting help, yet many of them evade taxes or openly use tax havens to avoid paying taxes.
The same is true for web giants like Netflix, Apple and Facebook, which pay virtually nothing in taxes and then get tax breaks. However, they use our services and are quite happy to hire highly skilled workers from Quebec and Canada. The Liberals claim that our SMEs are important and that they want to support buying local, but they support the web giants that do not need to worry about all of the taxes imposed on our SMEs under Canadian law.
How much of this money will go to rural areas? We have no idea. The government is allocating billions of dollars for businesses to buy new equipment and innovate, but how can we innovate when our rural areas do not even have access to high-speed Internet or a 3G or LTE cellular network?
The Auditor General criticized the government for its lack of judgment in managing public money allocated to the connect to innovate program. Some municipalities in my riding are turned down for this program or CRTC funds for ridiculous reasons, such as the fact that there is already a home with high-speed Internet within a 25-kilometre radius. This is happening in Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, and all the areas served by Coop CSUR in the Soulanges area are under the same restriction. Do we really want a double standard for our rural and urban areas?
On another subject, how will the poverty reduction strategy be funded? Apparently, it will be made up of existing programs without any additional money. I think the Liberals are just thumbing their noses at us. They have targets, but no plan. That seems to be a theme with this government, because it does not have a plan for the environment either. The Liberals got themselves elected in 2015 by saying, “We have a plan, we have a plan, we have a plan”. Today, there is no plan, there is no plan, there is no plan. I think I will use that in an ad.
Are they going to help the most vulnerable citizens access health care services more easily? No. There is no plan for pharmacare either, even though we know that we could save $3 billion a year according to conservative estimates. We could make a lot of investments in health care with that money.
What other measures does the bill include to drastically reduce our CO2 and methane emissions starting this year? None. Is the government planning to help rural areas go green, develop public transit, make their homes more energy efficient, or use solar and wind power? No.
Is the government going to implement restrictions to help big corporations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? No, of course there is no plan to do that. Will the federal government finally have a costed plan for reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions? No, it has no plan for that either.
It has been pointed out that many citizen movements have been launched. In Quebec, artists, scientists, economists and citizens have signed A Pact for the Transition. Millennials have been criticized for not being more involved in all kinds of things, but yesterday, young people who realized that the government is not doing anything for the environment took action, and a youth environmental group called ENvironnement JEUnesse brought suit against the federal government for failing to take action on the environment.
I have to stop now because I am out of time, but that shows just how important the environment is to people 35 and under and how absurd it was for the government to spend $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money on a pipeline.
That move was not a plan or investment for keeping our planet healthy for current and future generations. It is shameful.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2017-02-13 16:55 [p.8865]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on the Canada-EU free trade agreement.
However, I would like to start off my discussion by recognizing that today is Alberta Oil and Gas Celebration Day. We are celebrating the 70th anniversary this year of the Leduc No. 1, which was one of the first oil wells discovered in Alberta, and the economic prosperity that has come from the oil and gas industry in Alberta since that time. I know there are big celebrations today. Members of my caucus are speaking at events happening there as well. I just thought I would bring that to the attention of the House today.
I would like to congratulate all those who have worked very hard on the CETA deal over the last 10 years. I know that it has been a lot of hard work. The member for York—Simcoe has worked hard on this. The member for Abbotsford has worked hard. I would like to congratulate the current government for pushing this over the finish line. This will have significant impacts on Canada in terms of prosperity for everyone.
We have talked a lot about the expanded market and things like that, but one of the things I would like to talk a bit about is the back and forth that happens with trade agreements.
My riding is a large rural riding in northern Alberta. We are mostly invested in the primary industries, such as logging, agriculture, oil and gas exploration, and a lot of spinoff comes from that. However, one of the things we import a lot of is the equipment that we need. I know that the agricultural industry in my riding is particularly looking forward to a lot of the state-of-the-art technology that the agriculture sector in Europe has and that we can speedily be importing into Canada.
I know there is a burgeoning hemp industry in Alberta. New strains are being developed that grow well in the colder climate we have in northern Alberta. There are big opportunities with this as well, in terms of the fibre that comes out of the hemp plant. Erosion prevention is one of the things that they use this for.
However, we are limited in the equipment used to plant, cultivate, and harvest this plant. They are looking forward to bringing equipment from the Netherlands in particular, which has worked very hard on this. I have been engaged with a number of farmers in my riding who are saying they are excited about this deal, as this will lower their equipment costs, which will only make that particular crop more profitable.
My home community was a pork-producing powerhouse in the early 1990s. Since then, we have watched the market essentially evaporate. There are many white elephant pork barns in my neighbourhood sitting empty that have not been used over the last number of years. This has the opportunity to revive that industry and bring it back.
Since the early 1990s, we have not been able to regain enough of the pork industry to produce our own pork. In fact, Canada imports pork now. It would be great if we could get a market so we could reinvigorate the pork industry and see our profits return on that particular commodity.
I know that a lot of farmers diversified. They were growing grain crops and had pork on the side. If the price was not there in the grain crops, they fed it to their pigs and made their money through the pigs. If the price was there for the crops, they would reduce the pork output. That was a great ability to diversify. We have lost that to some degree. They have diversified now more into the different types of crops that they grow rather than diversifying between two different areas within the agriculture sector.
The agriculture sector in particular is very much looking forward, not only to the new market they are going to get but to the new equipment they will be able to bring over and begin to use, and some of the techniques. The interplay between Europe and Canada will be helpful in bringing some of the techniques across the ocean.
These are just the benefits for Canada. However, one other thing we should talk about is how this would benefit the EU. I am a big advocate of prosperity. All people should be able to improve their station in life, and free trade is the best way to make life better for everyone.
The greatest discovery of the 20th century is probably the development of hydrocarbons as a form of energy. I know that the combination of petroleum products and farming techniques regarding fertilizer, but specifically the tractor, revolutionized the way that people farmed. It brought commercial-scale farming to what currently exists, and that has allowed us to feed the world a couple of times over now.
We need to ensure that the products we produce make it to those who need them. That is the biggest issue with free trade, that the products being produced can make it to the people who need them. In other places in the world, heating in the winter is a big priority. The natural gas produced in Canada has the potential for a large market in eastern Europe. It is not only the natural gas, but the technologies that have been developed in Canada over the last 100 years that have improved agriculture, hydrocarbon production, the way forests are managed, and things like that. That technology can be harnessed by eastern European countries to shift their dependence on natural gas from Russia.
Russia currently holds 31% of the EU's oil and gas imports. People I have spoken with have said that whenever Russia feels slighted by eastern European countries, it turns the natural gas off and people start to freeze. I feel that with this agreement, we will be able to export technology and products that will make people's lives better, shift their dependency from Russia, and make it so that we provide freedom and prosperity around the world. That is number one. Free markets bring freedom is the point that I am trying to make.
The natural gas and oil and gas industries have been a great source of prosperity for northern Alberta, and come mostly from the fact that there are a large number of people employed in it. As I understand it, there is a lot of opportunity in Europe to bring technologies from northern Alberta to the eastern bloc countries, specifically the process known as hydraulic fracturing. There is a lot of shale gas in Europe.
In the Netherlands, where my grandparents are from, there is a lot hydraulic fracturing and drilling there. Holland has managed to become a significant contributor to the EU's natural gas game. If that technology goes to other places in Europe, there is a big opportunity for companies that operate here in Canada to export not only their products but their technologies, manpower, and that kind of thing.
I want to shift to some things that have been brought up here today. In particular, I would like to talk about the investor-state legal issue that members of the NDP brought up. This, to me, seems fairly straightforward, in that investors want stability. They want to know that if they are going to invest in a country, whatever it may be, the laws of the land are not going to change tomorrow and their investment dry up. For example, there is a gentleman in my riding who came from the U.K. in the early 1970s and built a nail factory in southern Alberta. He worked really hard to develop this nail factory.
He saw all the wooden houses that we have in northern Alberta and figured there must be a large market for that, but then was forced to compete with companies from eastern Canada. They were given subsidies on the transportation of their nails, which he was not given. Therefore, he said to just make it a level playing field to allow him to compete and he would be able to sell his product in Alberta as well. He ran that nail factory for a number of years, and then he retired from that and he has gone on since to become an advocate for free markets and free enterprise. I meet with him from time to time in my riding office.
He was initially concerned about this investor-state legal framework that he had heard about in CETA. I said this would be the same as if he built a nail factory in a new country and the day he opened his nail factory, after investing $1 million in building it, that country's government outlawed making nails. I know this is a little facetious. I said that he would then be able to go to that government and say that since it had just outlawed making nails and he had just spent millions of dollars building his nail factory, could the government please reimburse him for the expense of building the nail factory.
That is essentially what this piece of the deal means. If people make an investment in a country based on the current laws of the land, but the law changes and their complete business model fails because of the law change, they can therefore sue the government.
My colleague from the NDP has mentioned this a number of times, but he seems to only think of it in terms of an investment that is coming here to Canada, which I would say is a positive thing. If people are willing to invest in Canada, it is because they see Canada as a place where they can come and make money, a place where they see that the money they invest is not going to disappear. They see the security and stability of our country and they say, “This is a good place to invest.” For us here in Canada, if we go and invest in other countries to make money there and bring the money that we make back home, it would give us stability as well. We can say that we intended to build a nail factory in Ukraine and if the Ukrainians change the law to outlaw the building of nails, at least we could get our investment back and invest in a different country or bring that investment back home. Therefore, that is a very important part of this.
It is just an interesting place to be with my NDP colleague talking about free trade in particular. It seems that the New Democrats are always advocating for open borders when it comes to people, and yet never advocating for open borders when it comes to things. I know that there is always a bit of minutiae around these things. Everyone wants free trade, but not total free trade; and everyone wants open borders, but not total open borders. I expect them to respond to this and maybe clarify some of those things.
Regarding cereal crops in northern Alberta, I had the canola growers in my office a while back and I was bragging to them that I thought my riding was the largest canola-producing riding in all of Canada. They would not confirm that to me, but they did say that the largest canola-producing riding in all of Canada was in northern Alberta. That is one of three ridings, mine being one of them so I will take it. I think that I am, but they would not confirm it for me. The “can” part of the word canola is because it is a Canadian invention. It is something that we now export around the world. The new CETA would give us a new market for canola and we would be very excited to see where all that goes.
When it comes to exporting our products to other parts of the world, it is incredible to see some of the basic products that we export around the world and then to see what is done with them. One of the big advantages of new markets is that we get fresh eyes on a product with new ideas that come with it. A lot of times, we see a product that has been used in one particular way for a very long time and it enters a new market and gets used in completely new methods that we have never seen before.
I am really excited to see the interplay between the European Union and Canada and what kinds of new things come from that. One of the big areas where we will see job growth and innovation is with some of the new things that will come out of this new free trade agreement.
Another area our NDP colleagues have repeatedly addressed is that they believe that medication costs will go up significantly if we enter into CETA. However, we have people on record in this country saying that the opposite is true.
Phil Upshall, the executive director of the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, applauds CETA, saying, “CETA will ensure continued innovation in medicines and improve the health of all Canadians, including those with mental illness”.
Again, that is an example of the new ideas I am quite excited about that would come with our relationship with the EU. When we have ease of transporting people and things across borders, we also get an intermixing of ideas, which allows us to look at things in new ways, get new perspectives on things, and come up with new solutions, or the solution, for some of the greatest problems in the world.
One of the greatest things that could from the CETA deal would be for us to cure cancer. That would be amazing. Some countries in the EU are cutting-edge when it comes to medical research. Right in our own province of Alberta, the University of Alberta is world renowned when it comes to health research. The interplay that could happen between the EU and Canada is something I am really looking forward to.
In my last few minutes, I would like to talk a little bit about the vision going forward.
I know that trade deals take a long time. From speaking with the member for York—Simcoe, I know that when he was the trade minister, he had already initiated some of the talks that started CETA, the TPP, and things like that. Now there has been significant movement on CETA. We are still looking forward to signing and ratifying the TPP, but we are wondering what the next moves will be. Are we continuing to move forward with plans to set up free trade agreements with other countries around the world?
Japan is part of the TPP, but it would be interesting to see if we have to strike out on a separate deal with them as well. Israel, with the innovation and technology that comes out of that country, would be a great country to have an agreement with. Are we moving on that? India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It would stand to benefit greatly from some of the technologies we have here. I wonder if that is the direction we are going.
I know that it is a lot of hard work and something that is not for the faint of heart, but I wish to persuade the government to show us that it is advocating for these things and working hard on them to ensure that we get the next generation of free trade deals in the hopper, so to speak, because we know how much work and time they take to make happen.
It has been my pleasure to stand and speak today about the CETA free trade deal. I want to affirm once more that I think free trade has the opportunity to solve a lot of the problems in the world. With free trade comes freedom. Hopefully, through free trade deals, we can solve some of the greatest problems that we as humanity face. I see this as the big opportunity before us.
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
NDP (ON)
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2017-02-03 10:16
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at report stage of Bill C-30, an act to implement the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union and its member states and to provide for certain other measures. It is a very important piece of legislation, one that I fear has not been given due study or consideration by parliamentarians.
As a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade, I was dismayed to be the only member of Parliament who voted against a heavy-handed motion that restricted our committee from receiving feedback on this legislation from anyone but the few witnesses who were selected to appear.
It is vitally important that we hear from Canadians on the legislation that comes before us at committee. Shutting the door on the voices of Canadians goes against the spirit of openness and transparency, which should be the very cornerstones of our democracy.
With limited committee meetings and witnesses, there were many issues that the committee failed to properly address, such as the impact of CETA on mariners' jobs. Even of those few witnesses we heard from, groups that are supportive of the deal have concerns about how it will be implemented and how the government will support their industries in accessing potential new markets.
CETA has been called the biggest trade and investment deal since NAFTA. It covers a wide array of issues, including significant reforms to Canadian intellectual property rules related to generic and non-generic pharmaceutical drugs.
Deals like CETA are part of a new generation of trade deals, such as the trans-Pacific partnership, which include many controversial aspects that have more to do with investors' interests than the public's interest.
There is growing concern around the world, where people are questioning if these massive trade and investment deals are in the public's best interests. The Minister of Foreign Affairs claims that swift passage of CETA is necessary to send a message that Canada still supports these deals in the face of mounting public opposition to trade agreements. However, passing this legislation with little study of its impacts on the lives of everyday Canadians is the opposite of how we as legislators should be proceeding.
Much has changed in the world since CETA was signed. We are having many conversations about the trade agenda of the newly elected U.S. president and what it means to have fair trade or free trade.
I would like to read a quote from Angella MacEwen, senior economist at the Canadian Labour Congress, who testified before our trade committee:
There are market failures, distributional impacts, and very real concerns that workers have, because trade deals can increase inequality if you don't take proper action to make sure they don't. The answer isn't in rushing more trade deals through. The answer is in taking a minute to examine those very real concerns that people have and those very real negative impacts to see how you can mitigate them.
I agree that the proper response is not rushing more trade deals through. This is why I pushed at committee for more meetings, more study, and more input from Canadians on CETA.
I proposed various amendments at committee and I was pleased to see the Liberals agreed there need to be some changes to the bill's intellectual property rights. We agreed on several amendments to these provisions in the bill.
I also proposed amendments to limit CETA's controversial investment chapter. There is no reason Bill C-30 should have contained these provisions. European states, namely Belgium, have made it clear that investor-state provisions must be removed before it is willing to ratify CETA, yet the Liberals are asking parliamentarians to sign off on CETA as it stands, including these investor-state provisions. If these provisions will not be provisionally applied and will be rejected for ratification in Europe, why would Parliament sign off on them?
In the event that an investor court system is established as Bill C-30 proposes to do, there is an issue with how tribunal panellists will be selected. As pointed out by Gus Van Harten, these panellists will hold incredible power yet their appointments will be unilaterally selected solely by the Minister of International Trade. I proposed an amendment at committee that this process be opened up and I was disappointed to see that government MPs had no interest in debating my proposal.
I also proposed an amendment to remove the increased threshold for mandatory foreign takeover reviews. CETA includes a clause that would raise this threshold from $600 million to $1.5 billion, meaning foreign takeovers of Canadian companies under $1.5 billion would not be subject to review of whether such a takeover would be in our national interest.
I would also like to discuss the issue of how CETA impacts maritime jobs. CETA will, for the first time, legally allow foreign-owned vessels and foreign crews to transport goods between Canadian ports and will open up domestic dredging contracts to foreign suppliers. This will lead to the estimated loss of 3,000 Canadian seafarers' jobs. These are high quality, well-paying jobs. This industry as a whole supports 250,000 direct and indirect jobs.
I received a phone call in my office over the holiday period from a woman who was distraught over the impact on maritime workers. She was also distraught that her Liberal MP would not respond to her request to understand the situation he was putting their community in. These communities rely on these good-paying jobs, and this has simply been ignored.
I was shocked that the Liberals did not even say a word at committee during the debate around this motion. There was not one word. That is incredibly disappointing for parliamentarians who are committed not only to represent the people in their own riding but across the country, when they sit on such an important committee as the international trade committee.
We also know that CETA will allow foreign boats to bring in foreign workers, with no requirement for a labour market impact assessment. These workers can be paid as little as $2 an hour, and suffer from low safety standards and poor working conditions. Over the holiday period, there was a ship on the west coast that came in with workers who had not been paid and workers who had been on the ship a year beyond their contract and could not be released to go back home. These workers are being mistreated, and only when they reach Canadian ports and someone discovers this is happening are Canadians able to intervene on their behalf. This is an issue of human rights in our own waters.
I would also like to point out that by permitting more foreign flag vessels CETA encourages tax avoidance, since foreign ships registered in flags of convenience countries, such as Malta or Cypress, take advantage of tax havens and the cheapest labour available.
Today, at report stage, on behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada, I am proposing amendments to delete clauses of Bill C-30 that would implement parts of CETA's investment chapter, implement changes to the pharmaceutical intellectual property rights, implement a host of new geographical indicators, raise the threshold for foreign reviews, and change the rules for coasting trade.
I want to go back to the geographical indicators for a moment, because the European Union was quite clear. It requested over 170 carve-outs for geographical indicators. Some in the House may be asking what these exactly are. These are things like cheese designation for Asiago cheese, or feta cheese. It is things like champagne or Darjeeling tea. These are things that Canadian producers will no longer be able to label with those names because they will own those geographical indicators in Europe. If Canadian suppliers or producers attempt to put the name on them, they will be in violation of CETA.
The interesting part about this is Canada received zero geographical indicators. Think about Nanaimo bars, Saskatoon berries, maple syrup, or Montreal smoked meat. None of these things are protected. That means European companies can continue to label their products in this way. This is a huge loss to all of these growth industries.
I look forward to further debating these amendments today, and I ask fellow parliamentarians to take a serious look at these proposed changes before the House moves on to the third reading of Bill C-30. There are many unanswered questions and outstanding concerns regarding CETA. As parliamentarians, we cannot simply turn a blind eye to the very real concerns that exist in this trade deal.
It is disheartening to me that the Liberals refuse to address the increase in the cost of pharmaceutical drugs that will impact every person in their riding, I believe it is a disservice to Canadians not to look at the good and bad in every piece of trade legislation that comes before the House. We actually are obligated to do that. We have taken an oath to do that. I ask parliamentarians to take that seriously today.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I had three minutes in my speech yesterday so I will be continuing along today. The point I want to underline is that we in the NDP will be here to provide reasoned and progressive elements to debate in this implementation act for CETA.
As I was saying in my speech on the bill yesterday, it remains a mystery as to why the government is trying to ram the bill through without letting parliamentarians conduct their proper research and oversight. I want to refer all members of this House to the open and accountable government publication from the Prime Minister that ministers were to treat Parliament with respect and provide the necessary information for parliamentarians to do their job. I quote from that document:
Clear ministerial accountability to Parliament is fundamental to responsible government, and requires that Ministers provide Parliament with the information it needs to fulfill its roles of legislating, approving the appropriation of funds and holding the government to account.
The Prime Minister expects ministers to demonstrate respect and support for the parliamentary process. However, if we look at the facts surrounding the introduction of the bill, on October 30 the Prime Minister signed CETA at the EU-Canada Leaders' Summit, and it was only two days later that the implementing legislation, Bill C-30, was introduced in Parliament.
This rushed process violated the government's own policy on the tabling of treaties in Parliament, which requires the government to table a copy of the treaty, along with an explanatory memorandum that outlines the key components of the treaty, at least 21 sitting days before we debate. That was violated, and I would argue that the spirit of open and accountable government was clearly violated by ignoring that process.
Furthermore, we know that the international trade committee has already passed a motion that will restrict written submissions to only those witnesses who are selected to appear. Let me make that clear. No Canadians who do not appear before the committee will be allowed to provide written submissions, and only those who have the means to travel to Ottawa and the time to do so will be allowed to do so. We are in effect closing down exactly from whom we will hear on this.
If we compare that with the government's process on the trans-Pacific partnership, where the committee heard from over 400 witnesses and received written submissions from approximately 60,000 Canadians, there really is no comparison.
The underlying point here is that Parliament is essentially being asked to write a blank cheque with this implementation bill, despite the fact that each of the 28 EU member states will have to ratify CETA for all of the provisions to apply, and it is a process that is expected to take between two to five years.
I ask again, what is the rush? What is the government trying to ram through here? Why is it not letting parliamentarians do due oversight when there is obviously enough time for us to examine the bill?
The next part I want to look at is on the investor-state dispute mechanism. New Democrats support trade deals that reduce tariffs and boost exports, but we will always remain firm that components like investor-state provisions that threaten our sovereignty have no place in trade deals.
The new investor court system still allows foreign investors to seek compensation from any level of government over policy decisions they feel impact their profits. Furthermore, the Liberals still have not explained how they will ensure that environmental and health and safety regulations would be protected from foreign challenges. Even the joint interpretive statement about the investor court system falls outside the text of the treaty, and therefore does not have full legal weight.
If we look at the quote from the Canadian Environmental Law Association, it states that CETA “will significantly impact environmental protection and sustainable development in Canada. In particular, the inclusion of an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism....” It goes on to say that it will really “impact the federal and provincial governments' authority to protect the environment, promote resource conservation, or use green procurement as a means of advancing environmental policies and objectives.”
The other part I want to examine is particularly important to me, both as the NDP seniors critic and the member of Parliament for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. It is the impact this deal would have on the cost of pharmaceutical drugs. I take the issue of pharmaceutical costs very seriously, because I have helped enough seniors over the last eight years to know that the high cost of these drugs can have a real impact on the quality of life of our seniors.
The chapter on intellectual property rights goes well beyond Canada's existing obligations. The increased patent protections granted to brand-name pharmaceuticals will have the effect of delaying the arrival of cheaper generics and will increase the cost of prescription drugs to Canadians by between $850 million and $2.8 billion per year.
This is a cost that I do not think seniors are prepared to take on. Furthermore, I would argue it would hamper any efforts of bringing in a national pharmaceutical strategy both at the federal level and in what individual provinces are trying to do with their already ballooning health care costs.
I also want to quote Jim Keon, the president of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, who said:
A study prepared for the CGPA by two leading Canadian health economists in early 2011 estimated that, if adopted, the proposals would delay the introduction of new generic medicines in Canada by an average of three and a half years. The cost to pharmaceutical payers of this delay was estimated at $2.8 billion...
Therefore, we do have validators of this opinion, we do have the research to back it up, and it is certainly a very real concern that we should be bringing up.
In conclusion, we are in favour of a trade deal with Europe. As I have stated previously, we have deep historical and cultural ties, and they are some of the most progressive democracies. However, we are concerned with specific measures in CETA as it is negotiated, and it is our job on this side of the House to uphold the interests of Canadians in the process.
The Liberals have missed key opportunities to fix this agreement, but the deal is still not done. We will continue to urge them to fix it. Furthermore, if Liberal members of Parliament are not prepared to stand up for the progressive interests of their constituents, we in the NDP are always ready to take on that rein, and we will do so proudly.
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