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View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, let me say, as I probably rise for the last time in this Parliament, how honoured I am to represent the good people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, how much I have learned from my colleagues here, but also how invigorated I am by the greatness of this country and my commitment to work hard for the people I represent.
As I join this debate today, I feel compelled to make a few observations. To be clear, Canada did not ask to be put in this position. However, as we know, the U.S. election resulted in a new administration, with a mandate, among other things, to renegotiate NAFTA. That is where all of this started.
I think we can all agree that this particular renegotiated agreement resulted in an outcome that is less than ideal, but of course, it could have been much worse. Many concessions were made, and we still have unresolved issues, such as the lack of a deal for Canadian softwood lumber, something that is critically important to my riding.
Ultimately, it is not a secret that the official opposition will be supporting this deal. Unlike the third party, we do believe it is better than no deal. However, that does not mean that there are not some lessons to be learned here.
To me, it is deeply troubling that the Prime Minister went into these negotiations with his usual theme of demanding things that are all about building his brand and appealing to his base of supporters. In other words, the Prime Minister thought he saw an opportunity to score some political points and feed the brand. This is not unlike what he tried to do when he approached China.
In both cases, he failed miserably. Why would he not fail miserably? Would we as Canadians accept another leader trying to push his or her own values onto us? We simply would not accept that. What nation would? However, that is precisely what the Prime Minister attempted to to. Some may call this arrogance. Whatever we call it, it was easily foreseeable that it was a path to failure.
However, the Prime Minister did not care and went about his virtue-signalling anyway, so we ended up on the sidelines: Canada, a world leader, on the sidelines. There we were, on the sidelines with our biggest trading partner, while Mexico was in the driver's seat, getting the deal done.
Here is the thing. Mexico did get it done. Let us look at its approach. Mexico did not use the trade negotiations as some sort of domestic political opportunity to score points. Mexico did not use this as an opportunity for virtue-signalling. Mexico did not have a lead minister giving a speech within the United States of America that took veiled potshots at the U.S. administration. Mexico discussed issues related to trade and did so professionally. It is easy to see why that approach worked so well for it.
Our approach, led by the Prime Minister, was a complete failure. It did not have to be that way. I can tell colleagues that, on this side of the House, we would have taken a much different approach. I am actually quite confident that there are members on the government side of the House, whom I have worked with at various committees, who I suspect would have also taken a much different approach. I believe it is important to reflect on these things so that we can learn from them.
Canada should never again be in a situation where we are sitting on the sidelines with our greatest trading partner, while Mexico is driving the bus. I hope that is one thing we can all agree on. Perhaps that is why we are now hearing the name of Mark Carney, because there are other Liberals who feel the same way.
Now we have a new deal. Whether it is called the new NAFTA, NAFTA 0.5, USMCA, CUSMA, or whatever, there is something we should all think about. Recently, Jack Mintz wrote a very good piece on investment fleeing Canada. Members who have read the article would know that it debunks some Liberal talking points that had been carefully cherry-picked.
As an example, yes, investment in Canada was up in 2018. However, that sounds good until we consider that it was up from 2017, and 2017 was an absolute disaster of a year. Even in 2018, it was still below where things were in 2015. Yes, I mean that 2015.
Yes, investment in the U.S.A. is down, but that is outside investment. There is a large increase in U.S. domestic capital now staying in the United States. This means it is not coming to Canada.
Why should we care about that? Let us look at our automotive sector. Yes, there is still some investment in Canada, but there is considerably more occurring in the United States and Mexico. Mexico, in particular, has been a hot spot for automotive investment. Let us think about that. Mexico has no carbon tax. It has no new and enhanced CPP causing premiums and payroll taxes to increase every month. Much of its industrial power is cheap, and I would even say it is dirty.
CUSMA does more to address some of those issues than the NAFTA deal it replaces, but we also have to recognize that foreign investment in Canada is not the rose garden the Liberals are trying to suggest it is. This is a deal among three countries. If we become the most expensive, most regulated and most inefficient country to do business in, we lose collectively as a country.
The Prime Minister can continue to be virtuous. He can continue to ask people to pay just a little bit more. He can continue to lecture others for not sharing his values. However, at the end of the day, none of those things are going to attract the investment we need to make the most of this deal.
While we are on the subject of trade, I note that last week, during question period in this place, the Prime Minister vilified former prime minister Harper close to a dozen times. As the Liberals' good friend Warren Kinsella recently pointed out, the Prime Minister is looking “for an enemy to demonize”.
I mention that because the former Conservative government of Mr. Harper concluded more free trade agreements than any prime minister in the modern era. It is not as if the Liberals, or the Prime Minister, would be unaware of this, because they sat in this place during the last Parliament and voted in support of all those new trade agreements, yet the Prime Minister turns around and vilifies the former prime minister, who has a demonstrably more successful record on trade agreements.
However, perhaps that is preferable to talking about the lack of progress on Canadian softwood. I looked up on the Open Parliament website how many times the Prime Minister has even mentioned the word “softwood”. The answer is 18 times since 2016. The vast majority of those times were only because he was answering questions on softwood lumber asked by the opposition.
How many times has he referenced Stephen Harper? It is 190 times, and it will probably be more than 200 after today's question period. With the Prime Minister's priorities so focused on vilifying Mr. Harper instead of focusing on softwood lumber, is it any wonder he has made zero progress on this file?
Why do I point this out? I point this out because lumber mills are closing all across British Columbia at an alarming rate. My riding has lost lumber mills. I know first-hand what that does to a small rural community. It is devastating. However, there is complete silence from the Prime Minister regarding softwood lumber unless he is asked about it by the opposition in this place. Why? Maybe it is because he is too busy vilifying Mr. Harper.
In my view, that is not acceptable. B.C. forest workers deserve better. They deserve to know that they have a prime minister in Ottawa working to reach a softwood lumber deal.
I sometimes wonder whether, if Mexico had a vibrant softwood lumber sector, we would now have a deal done by extension as well. It is clear that Mexico has a more effective track record in these negotiations than the brand-first approach of the Prime Minister.
To summarize, we did not ask to be in this situation, clearly. However, I believe the approach taken by the Prime Minister to try to use this as a political opportunity was deeply flawed and made a bad situation worse.
Again, as evidence of that, I say to look no further than the approach taken by Mexico and the success that it had while we sat on the sidelines.
I have raised this point with ministers of the Crown. They told us that the meetings between the United States and Mexico were simply on bilateral issues that had nothing to do with Canada. However, they came out with a trilateral agreement, and Canada had a take-it-or-leave-it moment.
Despite the many concessions that the Prime Minister has made on this file, we can still make the most of it, but only if we recognize that we need to be more competitive. We have a regulatory environment in which things can get done in Canada. Many people have raised alarm bells, particularly the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and not just about the lack of investment but also the ability to get things done.
The Leader of the Opposition today clearly asked the Prime Minister several times for the date for the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Prime Minister promised the Trans Mountain pipeline, one of the most important projects on the deck and one of the only ones on the deck, would go forward to help build the national interest, but the Prime Minister cannot give a date.
Originally, the Liberals said that it would be operating this calendar year. Again, I would submit that one need to look no further than the Trans Mountain pipeline as evidence as to where the challenges are. It has been four years, and still there is not a shovel in the ground. The fact that the Liberal government had to buy the project to save Kinder Morgan from the embarrassment of not being able to build it in a timely manner is all part of the problem. The fact that today even the government has serious challenges in trying to navigate the process to get it done is telling. Does anyone seriously believe that Bill C-69 and Bill C-48 will make it easier to invest in Canada?
The Prime Minister says that tankers can operate totally safely in one part of British Columbia and in other parts of Canada, but are so dangerous in another part of British Columbia that they must be banned. Does anyone seriously think that makes sense? In fact, a number of the senators in the other place have commented on the lack of scientific evidence on Bill C-48. The committee that studied it in depth recommended that the bill not proceed.
The approaches of the current government do not reconcile. These are the types of mixed messages that are just not helpful. However, I remain hopeful that we can become more competitive and that as we move forward, we can ultimately try to fully capitalize on this agreement despite the many concessions.
I would like to close on a more positive note, and I will add a few positive observations.
As we have established many times and in many areas, Canada and Canadians can compete and succeed against the very best in the world. As legislators, it is our job to ensure that they have a level playing field and unrestricted market access to do so. Therefore, I will vote in favour of this agreement as, ultimately, it will provide these opportunities.
However, I must say one more time that until we have full, unfettered free trade within Canada's borders, we are, as a country, not owning up to the promise of Confederation, and that falls on us. It falls upon the provinces that have not allowed Canada to become not just a political union but an economic one.
This will be my last speech in the 42nd Parliament, and I would like to share a few words on a personal note.
We all share the collective honour of being elected members of this place, and our families all share the sacrifice for the many times that we cannot be there for them. It is my hope that our families, particularly our young ones, understand that in this place our collective desire to build a better country starts and ends with them. I would like thank all families of parliamentarians for their understanding and support.
I would also like to share a word with other members of this place. It is so unfortunate that much of the work we do here is often summarized by many Canadians as what transpires in question period. Much of the most important work that we do collectively happens at committee.
On that note, I would like to sincerely thank the many members I have worked with on various committees. Everyone I have worked with shares the same commitment to help ensure that the federal government provides the best level of governance possible. We may disagree on programs, projects and approaches, but I have found that we share a commitment to making these programs work best for Canadians.
A final point I would like to make should not be lost by any of us. The former Conservative government introduced a program to provide supports for kids directly to their parents. At the time, the Liberal opposition mocked it, ridiculed it, and suggested that parents would simply blow the money they received on beer and popcorn, but when the Liberals formed their majority government in 2015, they did not kill that program. Liberals saw the merits of it and saw that it was working so they made improvements to it, and now it is working even more effectively. I wish to commend them yet again for that.
That is an example of two very different governments coming up with a program and finding ways to improve it to ensure that it helps support Canadian families.
Trade is similar. After all, we are a nation of traders. We need to have these things that make us collectively prosper, that allow us to build stronger ties and relationships and provide the security and the sense of certainty that it takes for someone to start a business or for a country to get behind a new program. These are great examples of the work that we do when we are here on behalf of Canadians.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the time you spend in the chair. I am sure there are many different ways you would rather spend your time than listening to me, but I do appreciate the work you do and I am sure my constituents do as well. I look forward to the challenges in the upcoming months and in the questions and comments I will hear from my fellow colleagues.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
CPC (SK)
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
2018-05-31 12:08 [p.19964]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-74, the Liberal government's budget implementation bill. When we consider the contents of the bill and the Liberal government's track record, it reveals a troubling path ahead for Canadians.
We have before us a budget bill that spends borrowed money recklessly. The result of that is a growing debt and higher taxes. Borrowed money always has to be paid back and it is paid back at a premium.
The Liberal government came into power touting modest deficits. The Prime Minister repeatedly promised Canadians that his government would borrow a modest $10 billion a year to grow the economy. He also promised Canadians that the budget would return to balance in 2019. That promise went out the window very quickly.
The Prime Minister has added $60 billion to the national debt in just three short years. Canada's net debt has reached an all-time high of $670 billion. To put that into context, that breaks down to a debt of over $47,000 per Canadian family. What about the plan to return to balance? The budget is not predicted to return to balance until 2045, a far cry from 2019.
The Liberals will wrongly try to take credit for the economic growth that Canada experienced in 2017. A growth rate of 3% in 2017 was largely a result of the oil and gas sector recovering and an unusually strong housing market. The responsible response to that growth should have been for the government to pay down the debt that it borrowed, so in the case of a fiscal downturn, we would be better positioned. However, now, despite all the Liberal spending, private sector forecasts show that Canada is heading for a slow down.
We have legislation before us to help us spend more money and add more debt. Ultimately, it is legislation that would make life more unaffordable for Canadians.
Canadians are already paying higher taxes under the Liberals. It seems that the Liberal government is always finding new ways to dip into the pockets of Canadians. For one, this budget bill would create a costly new carbon tax, which the Liberals are forcing on all provinces that do not have their own. Despite promises of a new era of co-operative federalism, the Liberal government is ramming ahead with its massive carbon tax grab.
My province of Saskatchewan has rejected the Liberal government's carbon tax, and rightly so. The carbon tax will come at a significant cost to the people of Saskatchewan, and the Liberal government is ignoring the basic economic reality that its carbon tax unfairly punishes farmers and rural communities.
My province of Saskatchewan has developed its own climate change strategy, a made-in-Saskatchewan plan that tackles climate change without imposing the unfair carbon tax on Saskatchewan families. However, the Liberal government refused to accept it. The Liberals are forcing it on Saskatchewan against its will.
Well then, what does this carbon tax achieve? We cannot tax our way to a cleaner environment and the carbon tax will not lead to a major emission reduction in Canada.
We can look to British Columbia as an example. British Columbia was the first province to implement a carbon tax. It also has the highest carbon tax in the country. Despite this, carbon emissions have continued to rise there. The real impact of its carbon tax is that British Columbians are now paying more for gas than anyone else in the North American continent.
I will reiterate that point, because it is an important point that needs to sink in. The carbon tax in British Columbia is not reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it is making life less affordable for British Columbians, yet the Liberals continue to strong-arm the province of Saskatchewan.
One would think that given their passion for a carbon tax, the Liberals would be forthcoming with information about its impact. It is fair for Canadians to want to know just how much the federal price on carbon will cost them, but again and again the Liberal government refuses to release those details.
Finance officials have said that the Liberal carbon tax will cost an extra 11¢ per litre of gas and $264 in extra costs for natural gas home heating annually. That alone is already a significant cost. However, there are additional costs and impacts of a $50 per tonne carbon tax.
Repeated requests for information have been issued from this side of the House. We have asked the government over and over again to provide details on the cost of its carbon tax and the results it expects to achieve. However, any response received has been blacked out. What does the Liberal government have to hide? What is it covering up? If the government cannot answer a basic question on what its carbon tax will cost and achieve, it is absurd for it to force it on the province of Saskatchewan.
The Liberals are not only raising taxes on individual Canadians, they are making it more expensive to do business in Canada. Businesses are also being hit with increased costs due to the carbon tax. This is in addition to the increased CPP and EI premiums, higher income taxes for entrepreneurs, and punitive changes to the small business tax rate. While we consider these higher costs, we cannot forget that the United States is lowering its corporate tax rate. Business investment in Canada has dropped since 2015. Meanwhile, business investment in the United States has increased.
The natural resource sector has been particularly hit hard. The energy sector and the jobs it creates are very important to my riding of Battlefords—Lloydminster. The fact that over $80 billion of investment in the energy sector has been lost in the last two years is very troubling for my constituents. They certainly are not comforted by the Prime Minister's repeated confession that he wants to phase out the oil sands.
The loss of business investment in Canada is a troubling trend, and the Liberals have offered nothing to Canadian businesses in this budget implementation act. The higher cost of doing business will hurt the bottom line for businesses. When it drives away business, results in job loss, and injects less money into our economy, everyone pays, and we all lose.
Bill C-74 offers Canadians a plan we cannot afford and does not move us ahead. Spending money we do not have on things we do not need is reckless and irresponsible. I would not run my personal household in that manner, and I would not teach my children to manage their finances in that way. Most of all, I cannot imagine that the members opposite would manage their personal finances that way and teach their children that as well. It begs the question: why is it that when the stakes are even higher, when the fiscal security of the country hangs in the balance, the Liberals would choose this route?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2018-04-30 13:06 [p.18896]
Madam Speaker, today I will address the oil tanker moratorium act, and in particular, its impacts on indigenous peoples and communities that support responsible resource development.
Bill C-48 is not really about the protection of coastlines or marine ecology. It is actually only a ban on Canadian oil development and exports, on the oil sands, and on pipelines. It is an attack on the hundreds of thousands of energy workers across the country, on one industry, and on one product.
Bill C-48 specifically and only prohibits the on- and off-loading of tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude and persistent oils at ports or marine installations along B.C.'s north coast. It does not target any other vessels of comparable capacity carrying any other product, or vessels of any size, which have similar volumes of fuel on board to operate. It does not even enforce the 100-kilometre voluntary exclusion zone, in the region since 1985.
It only applies to one coast, not to any other Canadian coasts or ports where tankers of all products and from all countries travel regularly. Its intent is clearly to permanently prevent vital energy infrastructure in the region, denying any potential for oil exports to the Asia-Pacific from there, which could expand market access for Canada and reduce Canada's near complete dependence on the United States as a customer for Canadian oil.
Diversifying Canada's exports is crucial now, as the U.S. ramps up production to secure its own domestic supply and rapidly escalates its own crude oil exports after removing the 40-year ban. It is estimated that the U.S. will supply 80% of the world's growing global demand for oil in the next five years, while the Liberals force Canada's oil to remain mostly landlocked.
Bill C-48 is also all about politics. It was a predetermined and foregone conclusion for partisan purposes entirely. The Prime Minister instructed its imposition in mandate letters to ministers only 24 days after the 2015 election. Despite all the Liberal rhetoric about consultation, science, and evidence-based, objective decision-making founding policy and legislation, that is not enough time to undertake comprehensive community or indigenous consultations. That is not enough time for thorough safety and environmental assessments, with an analysis of best practices, gaps, and opportunities for improvement; comparison, contrast, and benchmarking against other countries; or local, regional, provincial, and national economic impact assessments and the consideration of consequences. That is because the motivation was actually a political calculation to hold NDP, Green, and left-wing votes for the Liberals in B.C, which helped them win in 2015.
However, Bill C-48, while confined to one geographical area, will have profound negative impacts for all of Canada, on confidence in Canadian energy investment and development overall, and on Canada's ability to be a global leader and contributor in energy regulation, production, technology, service, supply, expertise, and exports to the world.
Reaching tidewater in all directions for Canada's oil and gas should be a top priority for the Liberals, but their track record so far has been to eliminate the only two opportunities for stand-alone pipelines to tidewater in recent history in Canada.
One was the energy east pipeline, which was abandoned after a billion dollars invested and years of review before it could even make it out of the regulatory mess the Liberals created because they changed the rules and added a last-minute, double standard condition for downstream emissions that does not apply to foreign oil or to any other infrastructure in any other sector.
The other was the northern gateway pipeline, which was initiated in 2002 and had actually been approved, with 209 conditions, under the previous Conservative government, in 2014. After a Supreme Court ruling that there was insufficient indigenous consultation by the crown, the Liberals could have ordered additional months and scope for expanded consultation, just as they did with the Trans Mountain expansion application, which started in 2013 and was under way when they announced a complete overhaul for major Canadian energy projects in 2016. However, that option was not offered for northern gateway. Instead, the Prime Minister outright vetoed it, even though it was reviewed under the exact same process, with the exact same evidence, as the other projects the Liberals announced were approved the same day, including Trans Mountain and the Line 3 replacement.
The Liberal government's decision to kill the northern gateway was a massive blow for expanded market access for Canadian oil. It was obviously a loss for energy producers in northern Alberta, for workers in the industrial heartland and Bruderheim, which is where the northern gateway would have started, inside the western boundary of Lakeland, as well as for workers who would have constructed and then maintained the pipeline through operations across Alberta and B.C. It was a loss for potential oil terminal, refinery, and deep water port workers near Kitimat, never mind of billions of dollars in investment and revenue for all levels of government.
However, there is another aspect of that veto of the northern gateway that is just as devastating. Thirty-one first nations and Métis communities were partners with mutual benefit agreements, worth more than $2 billion, in northern gateway, including skills and labour development opportunities.
In Lakeland and around Alberta, indigenous peoples are very active in oil and gas across the value chain: in upstream exploration and production; in service, supply, and technology contracting; and in pipeline operations. They support pipelines because that infrastructure is as crucial to the lifeblood of their communities, for jobs, education, and social benefits, as anywhere else.
Elmer Ghostkeeper of the Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement in Lakeland said, “Equity was offered to aboriginal communities, and with the change in government that was all taken away.... We are very disappointed.” Ghostkeeper pointed out that 71% of the communities along the proposed right of way looked forward to taking part in construction and in the long-term benefits. All that was destroyed by the Prime Minister. They were not consulted about it.
Bill C-48 would put a nail in the coffin of the $7.9-billion northern gateway pipeline and all its employment and economic and social benefits for indigenous and all Canadians, now and in the future.
However, it gets even worse. The $16-billion Eagle Spirit pipeline project could be one of the biggest private infrastructure investments in Canadian history, with meaningful revenue generation, business, employment, education, training, capacity-building opportunities, and long-term economic self-sufficiency for indigenous communities. From Bruderheim to Grassy Point, the Eagle Spirit pipeline project is supported by 35 indigenous communities, every single one along the corridor. Its proponents have been working for six years to secure that support, even from communities that opposed northern gateway, and to exceed regulatory requirements, including exceptional environmental protection, land and marine management, and spill prevention and response.
In 2015, community leaders said what the project meant to them. On behalf of elders, Jack White said, “We like the fact that the Eagle Spirit project put the environment first. Many of our elders are in need and we want our legacy to our children to offer something more that gives them opportunities.”
Youth representative Corey Wesley said, “There are no opportunities for young people in our community. We want a better way of life with real jobs and business prospects so we too can offer our future kids more hope.”
Deputy mayor of the Lax Kw'alaams band and matriarch Helen Johnson said, “Eagle Spirit has widespread support in our community because it shows a real way forward for our members.”
Eagle Spirit's Chiefs Council says the tanker ban is a government action that would “harm our communities and deny our leaders the opportunity to create hope and a brighter future for their members“, which all Canadians take for granted. The Premier of Northwest Territories said almost the exact same thing about the impact on the people he represents of the Liberals' five-year ban on northern offshore oil and gas drilling.
The Prime Minister often says that the relationship with Canada's indigenous people is the most important to him. He says he wants “an opportunity to deliver true, meaningful and lasting reconciliation between Canada and First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit peoples”. However, for the second time, on a pipeline to tidewater, he is actively denying opportunities for dozens of indigenous communities. They say he did not consult them before he ordered the tanker ban.
The Eagle Spirit Chiefs Council says that the tanker ban and the creation of the concept of the Great Bear Rainforest were “promoted largely through the lobbying of foreign-financed ENGOs”. The Eagle Spirit chairman says, “they know nothing about our area, they know nothing about our regions. And they're telling us what we've got to do because it's in their financial interest to do so.” It is “without the consultation and consent of First Nations,” which are “opposed to government policy being made by foreigners when it impacts their ability to help out their own people.”
He says, “We don't need trust fund babies coming into our community...creating parks in our backyard when our people are literally starving”, with 90% unemployment.
I suggest that actual reconciliation involves employment and business opportunities, social welfare, and benefits through economic prosperity, like what is offered by Eagle Spirit, which would ensure environmental protection and benefits for all of Canada.
Eagle Spirit's chairman says, “This is an important issue for Canadians. If you look at what's happening with the oil industry, Canadians are losing $50 million a day. It's about $40 a barrel over four years in margin to the refineries in the U.S. What other country in the world would give away the value of these resources like that? It makes no sense, and it's harming people in northern Alberta and northern B.C. and the chiefs are going to do something about it.”
He is echoed by B.C. MLA and former Haisla chief councillor Ellis Ross, who says, “The more sickening thing for me is that these people who oppose development in Canada truly believe they win when they defeat a project.... Actually, you don't win. It's just that the United States buys the Canadian product at a discount and sells it on the international market.”
The tanker ban is a deliberate and dangerous roadblock to Canadian oil exports. It is detrimental to the livelihoods of Canadians everywhere. It would put very real limits on Canada's future and standard of living, with disproportionately harmful outcomes for certain communities and regions. The Liberals should withdraw it.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2018-04-30 13:37 [p.18901]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate on this, but I think the bill has the wrong name. It is called the “oil tanker moratorium act” when it should basically be called the “pipeline moratorium act”. That is really what it is all about. It is not about cancelling the ability of tankers to move through a certain region of northern British Columbia. In fact, they will be able to move 100 kilometres off the coast, as they have been doing all along. It has put the last and final nail into the northern gateway project, and every single other potential pipeline project that might go through northern British Columbia.
There are a few points I will raise to add to this debate, including a letter I have from Prasad Panda, a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, who is also the member for the provincial riding of Calgary-Foothills. In it, he notes a couple of discrepancies. He notes that Bill C-48 is a flawed piece of legislation, mainly because it contradicts the government's own free trade agreement that it signed.
There are two points that he makes in the letter. He writes that in that free trade agreement, article 301 states, “A Province shall not adopt or maintain any measure that restricts or prevents the movement of goods across provincial or territorial boundaries.” This is what the B.C. NDP is doing to try to kill off Kinder Morgan by harassing it through legal and regulatory means to try to put an end to that project. They are trying to end that and the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the energy sector, both in my hometown of Calgary, which depends on it, and also across Edmonton and a whole bunch of smaller communities across Alberta and Saskatchewan.
With regard to my second point, he writes, “The Government of Canada shall not adopt or maintain any measure that unduly restricts or prevents the movement of goods across provincial or territorial boundaries.” I think we can make a fine argument here that restricting tanker traffic off a coast like the northern British Columbia coast is that type of restriction on the movement through a territory that the British Columbia government claims as its own. It has a certain amount of environmental regulations that it can or it seems to want to apply. It is interesting that it only wants to apply it in the north, not in the south, when 95% of all tanker traffic happens to be in the southern part of British Columbia.
This particular member of the legislative assembly, a fine gentleman, wrote quite a long letter to the chair of the committee that reviewed this piece of legislation. He also brought to the attention of that committee that this ban, this supposed oil tanker moratorium on pipelines, would be like “banning ships from moving through the Welland Canal or using the port at Trois-Rivières”. It would be like “denying rail and truck access to the Michelin Tire factory in Pictou County”, like “detouring all the traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway and driving it down 92 Avenue in Port Kells”, like “taking traffic on Highway 400 and running [it] all down Weston Road in Toronto”, and like “stopping OC Transpo service to Kanata or GO service to Streetsville.” It would be the same principle. It is not science based, not evidence based; it is the random cutting off of the transportation of goods, people, and natural resources for political purposes.
There is absolutely no reason for it. As far as I know, there have been no spills in British Columbia. Members may want to correct me on that, but I do not know of any spills that have happened off the coast of British Columbia that would make it necessary for us to pass this particular piece of legislation.
I also note that in this legislation, the government is giving itself an exemption under clause 6 that basically states,
for the purpose of community or industry resupply or is otherwise in the public interest.
Therefore, if for any reason whatsoever the government believes it should provide an exemption for the import and movement of tanker traffic, it has a complete exemption. There is no real reporting standard there. All it would have to do is make a publication requirement that states,
the Minister must make it accessible to the public on the Internet or by any other means that he or she considers appropriate
I wonder what the minister will think is appropriate when the government provides the exemption. We can imagine how hard the advocates for communities, companies, and tanker companies will push the minister to provide them with particular exemptions and how sought after those will be.
I like Yiddish proverbs, and I have one. It states, “Heaven and hell can both be had in this world.” They can also be had through government policy and legislation. The principle is to protect the environment. That is the window dressing that the Liberals have put on this anti-pipeline bill. However, what they are actually doing when they repeat “the environment, energy, and natural resources”, two sides of the same coin, is only focusing on one part of this. That is their single focus on this point. It is is supposedly the environment, when we know, because of the details of this bill, it will do no such thing. Tanker traffic will simply be moved further to the west. It is not achieving any goals that the government has set for itself. There is no similar ban on any oil tanker traffic anywhere along Canada's other coasts.
Do those environments matter less? Do the beaches in Prince Edward Island matter less than those in northern British Columbia? Do the coasts matter less in Quebec? Do the coasts matter less in Ontario? I do not think that is the case, but I do not see tanker bans being imposed. I do not see pipeline bans being imposed. That is what leads me to say that this particular piece of legislation is all about northern gateway. It is to kill it off, and that is what the government intends to do through this particular piece of legislation.
The tankers that go through the southern part of British Columbia right now are in the 80,000 to 120,000 dead weight tonnage. If this were truly about tanker traffic, and there were worries about how many of these tankers are moving through a particular geographic region, then the regulatory process would be simplified to ensure the maximum size tankers could actually come through different channels as safely as possible.
If the government wanted to do it that way, it would ensure that ultra-large crude carriers, ULCCs, were able to navigate certain regions, doing so safely, with the necessary tugboats to pull them out in case they have security problems. It would not impose a random ban on geographic areas, pushing tankers further out into the ocean. That does not achieve any environmental goal I could easily name. It would also kill off economic jobs that northern gateway and other pipeline projects could provide in the future.
What it actually would do is sterilize an entire region of northern British Columbia from any type of development in the future. It would basically ensure that no company would ever propose a new pipeline project running through any of those communities, regardless of how many indigenous communities support it, regardless of how many of them are onside.
As the member for Lakeland has said, there are many indigenous communities that would depend on these energy and natural resource jobs of the future. Over 500 communities all across Canada depend either on energy or natural resources jobs.
When oil, natural gas, coal, or any type of mineral is extracted, it has to be moved to a market. It does no good to sit on a large pile here at home. It has to be moved to the buyer. That is done through a port, through the rail system, and through tankers. Those are the requirements of ensuring that the economy is looked after, and that is what the government is failing to do with Bill C-48.
This bill would kill off any future pipeline projects. It sends another chilling signal to the business community in Canada that we are not open for business. We have had the largest flight of capital from the natural resources sector over the past two and a half years. We are at the lowest level since 2010, and it just continues.
Energy east was killed off by the government. Northern gateway was killed off by the government. The government neglected Pacific Northwest LNG. It has neglected Alberta's energy sector. It has done everything possible to ensure that every single new piece of red tape would strangle the industry, and it has done a great job at it. This is one thing the government has been quite exceptional at, strangling the industry and putting tens of thousands of Alberta energy workers out of work permanently, with no reasonable expectation to return to work in the field of their speciality, in the field where they have spent years obtaining their education and working professionally.
Back home in Alberta, we have spent a generation trying to convince people to move to Alberta in the first place. British Columbia is beautiful, but we just wanted people to stop in Alberta and have a professional career with us. We spent a generation convincing people to move there, but we also spent a generation convincing young Albertans, men and women, that it was worth getting into the energy sector because there would be jobs well into the future and they could work anywhere internationally. They are not going to have that.
Bill C-48 is a nail in the coffin of every single future pipeline project. Every company that is even thinking about running a pipeline through northern British Columbia, or anywhere in fact, will think twice. All of their money could be lost, or there could be a random moratorium, a ban, or a cancellation of their project.
I cannot support this bill. It is another chilling signal to the business community and to energy workers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia that the government is not on their side.
View Ed Fast Profile
CPC (BC)
View Ed Fast Profile
2018-04-30 16:12 [p.18927]
Mr. Speaker, I have been looking forward to the opportunity to engage in this debate.
I am going to frame this discussion in terms of Canada's competitiveness and our future, what our future will look like for the coming generations if we continue to go along the path of sending terrible signals to the global investment community. My comments will actually focus on how Bill C-48 is poorly thought out and really does not reflect the reality of Canada's resource economy.
I am a proud Canadian, but I am also a very proud British Columbian. Unlike many of my colleagues in this House, I have had the chance to hike many of the different remote wilderness areas of British Columbia. I have had the chance to hike the Chilkoot Trail, where one hikes out of the coastal rainforest in Alaska into the drier interior area of British Columbia and follow the trail the early gold miners took to the Yukon gold fields. I have had a chance to hike the Bowron Lakes. In fact, we canoed the Bowron Lakes, 12 lakes connected with portages, where one is almost guaranteed to see moose and bear along the way. I have had a chance to climb the Rockwall and Skyline trails in the Rocky Mountains. I have had a chance to hike in the Cathedral Lakes area outside of Keremeos, British Columbia. Also, in the northeast corner of British Columbia, there is the Muskwa watershed, Gathto Creek, and Pine River. British Columbia is an awesomely beautiful province, a place we as Canadians can be very proud of. It is a legacy that has been left to us.
Anything that would threaten our coastal areas, any threat to the marine life in our oceans, is something I take very seriously. We know oil tankers have been plying our coastal waters for many, many years. Over those years, how many crude oil spills have actually happened in British Columbia waters? Does anybody want to guess? Zero. There have been zero crude oil spills as far back as we want to go. Why? Because we have superior pilotage, and we have tankers today that are double-hulled as opposed to single-hulled to make sure if they strike something, that object does not penetrate the hull. We now have a world-class marine oil spill response, and we love the government for doing that. That is good. We want to protect our coastal areas.
What we do not want to do is undermine Canada's prosperity as we do this, so we have to be careful how we implement policy. We have to ask ourselves what the Prime Minister's motive is behind imposing a moratorium on tanker traffic off our west coast. By imposing a moratorium, we are preventing Canada from getting its oil and gas products to foreign markets where they fetch the best price. What is the motive? Well, we could just follow the Prime Minister around the world on his global travels from costume to costume, leader to leader. Guess what? We found him in France, where he thought he was safe and he started badmouthing Canada's resource sector. More specifically, he badmouthed Canada's oil sands and lamented the fact that he had not been able to phase out the oil sands by now.
There is the hidden agenda. We have a Liberal government that wants to phase out our oil industry. It wants to put all kinds of impediments in the way of our resource sector to make sure Canadians do not get the maximum dollar that they should for their products.
The Prime Minister goes so far as to pretend he is one thing in British Columbia, where of course he is the champion of the environment whenever he visits, but when he travels to Alberta of course he suddenly becomes the champion of the energy sector.
In fact, what he did in Alberta was to say, “If you impose a massive carbon price on your residents, you'll be able to get the social licence to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built.” What happened? Alberta followed suit. It trusted the Prime Minister, which is something I think Canadians are now very wary of. Premier Notley trusted the Prime Minister when he said, “Hey, a carbon tax and you'll get your pipeline to tidewater”. Well, do we have a pipeline to tidewater? Today we have protesters, no leadership from the Prime Minister, and court challenges. What happened to the social licence? It is bogus.
Along the way, this moratorium on tanker traffic off our Pacific coast is just one more nail in the coffin of completely undermining Canada's competitiveness within the global marketplace. Every day that goes by, Canada becomes less and less competitive, especially vis-à-vis our partner to the south, the United States. I will mention a few things that this government has already done. If imposed, a moratorium on offshore drilling in the north undermines prosperity, because we leave resources in the ground that could have fetched good dollars, but we leave them there.
On the massive carbon tax that Canadians are now being expected pay, members can imagine how that undermines our competitiveness as we layer tax upon tax. Foreign investors wonder why they would invest in Canada and not go to the United States where the corporate tax rate was dropped from 35% to 21% and it got rid of all the red tape. The Liberal government funds a Canada summer jobs grant to an organization that is actually organizing and protesting against the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Prime Minister publicly says that it is going to build, but then gives cash to oppose it. That is our Liberal government.
Then, of course, there is Bill C-69, the new regulations that the Prime Minister would impose on resource projects. The bill would add more discretionary powers to the minister to extend and suspend timelines. There would be longer time frames. There would be new criteria added, including upstream and downstream impacts. This is how crazy it gets. The government would impose criteria, conditions, upon our own oil and gas producers that we do not impose on those who ship gas from foreign jurisdictions like Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and Venezuela. The oil that comes from those countries into Canada right now does not have to comply with any of those criteria, but our own homegrown producers of that product, which is the cleanest in the world, and is subject to the toughest conditions in the world, have to comply with those criteria. We wonder why we have lost 100,000 jobs in our economy. It is because of policies like that. Over 87 billion dollars' worth of capital has fled Canada because of the poorly thought out policies of the Liberal government.
As Conservatives, and the word “conservative” implies conservation, we believe that the highest environmental standards have to be complied with. When we extract our resources in Canada, whether it is mining, oil, or gas, Canadians expect that it be done to the highest environmental standards. Canadians also understand that those resources that lie in the ground represent huge opportunities for economic growth in our country, for jobs, for long-term prosperity, and for funding the programs that governments want to provide to Canadians. It is absolutely critical that moratoria, like the one the Prime Minister is trying to impose on our west coast, not proceed, because at the end of the day, Canadians will pay a very significant price for that. Quite frankly, if in fact the Prime Minister cannot get the job done, he should step aside and let the adults take over. Let someone else take over, someone who really understands the economy, someone who understands the environment, and the appropriate balance between the two.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2018-04-30 17:41 [p.18940]
Mr. Speaker, the member talked about investments and the uncertainty here in Canada. John Ivison wrote a great article this morning on the front page of the National Post. He talked about the “slow bleeding” of corporate Canada that is about to be under way, and the fact that as investments are slowing, they are almost ready to fall off the cliff.
One of the comments he made was on the uncertainty, not just “over NAFTA, [but] minimum wage hikes, high electricity prices, jurisdictional wrangling over pipelines and carbon taxes, the imposition of new environmental regulations” and why they have a precedent. The government is more interested in taxing than generating wealth.
The government talks about how all these things are doing, yet we see investments starting to dry up. The member alluded to this in his comments, and I would hope he would comment further about how this is undermining not just the oil and gas sector, but other sectors in this industry.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2018-04-30 17:42 [p.18940]
Mr. Speaker, the numbers do not lie, and we have lost $80 billion in investment over the last two years alone. Maybe we do not see the impact today, but these are the investments that will grow our economy tomorrow by providing the jobs and wages for tomorrow. The government can talk about how great the economic numbers are, but it is living off economic numbers from investment when the Conservatives were in government. We are going to be living in a future that has less investment because of the actions of the government.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2018-04-30 17:57 [p.18942]
Mr. Speaker, what the Liberals fail to see is that there is a challenge, an undercurrent in this country where investment is starting to dry up because of decisions the government has made. The Liberals go around the world telling people to come and invest in Canada, and yet a number of investment dollars have left. Last summer, when the Liberals mused about making tax cuts, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business brought in stakeholders and talked about how a billion dollars had left the country, because capital can flee.
Given some of the challenges that have been going on with building pipelines, does the member believe that we are going to be in trouble in terms of being able to attract direct foreign investment as we move forward from this point on?
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2018-04-30 18:15 [p.18944]
Mr. Speaker, I sometimes feel that the Prime Minister is the captain of the Titanic and all these members are rearranging the deck chairs as they head toward an iceberg. Why I say that is the whole issue of direct foreign investment.
I had the chance to meet with 20 businesses from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. These are large companies that have factories here in Canada. One company in particular said that it had six plants in Canada. It could assure us that, because it has other investments around the world, it will probably never invest in Canada again. That is troubling.
What is going on here in terms of direct foreign investment, in terms of uncertainty, and why do these issues matter as it relates to money being invested In Canada from other parts of the world?
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2018-04-30 18:16 [p.18945]
Mr. Speaker, my riding runs up beside Calgary, and we know what is happening in Calgary. When the president of Cenovus says that his office is now in Denver, we know what is happening. It may not have moved its head office yet, but we know what is going to happen.
I personally know a number of people in the oil sector who are now working in Texas because they know that is where the investment is. A number of highly skilled people are leaving their families to search for jobs and may end up in Australia or Africa. They are leaving because there is no work here because the investment has gone somewhere else in the world. It has left Canada and it will be a while before it comes back.
View Wayne Stetski Profile
NDP (BC)
View Wayne Stetski Profile
2018-02-05 17:34 [p.16779]
Mr. Speaker, I have to admit that when the topic of political financing reform comes up, many Canadians' eyes glaze over. It is not the most exciting subject in front of this Parliament, and yet we have heard about 18 or 19 speakers on this topic pointing out both the strengths and the weaknesses of the bill.
I wish the House rules permitted the same level of debate on some of the very important private members' bills that come before the House. Perhaps we could work together to see that happen in the future.
Bill C-50 is important. We only have to look south of the border to see what happens when there are no controls over who donates to elected representatives or how much they can donate.
During the recent U.S. debate over net neutrality, another exciting subject, companies and groups on both sides of the issue lobbied with their wallets. According to OpenSecrets.org of the 535 members of Congress, 495 received campaign contributions from groups who lobbied the Federal Communications Commission on net neutrality. The telecoms, opposed to net neutrality, donated millions and the Republicans fell in line. The result will be a more limited, more expensive Internet experience for Americans. Thankfully, here in Canada we have largely constrained such obvious vote buying, but that has not always been the case.
In advance of the1872 election, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald and his colleagues sought out campaign contributions from a Montreal shipping magnate named Hugh Allan. Allan donated what would have been a fortune back in 1872, $350,000, to Macdonald's Conservative government and he was rewarded for that donation. The Canadian Encyclopedia says:
After the election, a railway syndicate organized by Allan was rewarded with the lucrative contract to build the Canadian Pacific Railway — the trans-continental railroad promised to British Columbia when it joined Confederation.
More recently, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was implicated in a scandal that became known as the Airbus affair.
My own province of British Columbia used to be the case study for what happens when there are insufficient campaign financing laws. In fact, a year ago The New York Times called British Columbia the “wild west” of Canadian political cash, citing the former provincial Liberal government for its many conflicts of interest and describing the “unabashedly cozy relationship between private interests and government officials in the province”. It cited B.C. for having no limits on political donations, and repeated criticisms that under the Christy Clark regime, the provincial government “has been transformed into a lucrative business, dominated by special interests that trade donations for political favours, undermining Canada’s reputation for functional, consensus-driven democracy.”
Thankfully, the new NDP government under Premier John Horgan immediately brought in political finance reforms, including bans on corporate and union donations and limiting individual donations to $1,200 per year. It is good to see civil reforms brought to the wild west.
Meanwhile, with the current federal Liberal government we have seen the cash for access scandal, where lobbyists were sold exclusive access to the Prime Minister by simply buying high-priced tickets to Liberal fundraising events. During the last election, the Liberal Party made a promise to "close political financing loopholes altogether”.
As we look at Bill C-50, the legislation before us today, we see only a timid attempt in that direction. This bill would force some party fundraising events to be advertised five days in advance, and it would ensure that the names of those attending the function are published.
The new rules apply to events attended by cabinet ministers, party leaders, and some leadership candidates. The NDP offered amendments at committee to include parliamentary secretaries and senior political staff but the Liberal members voted down those amendments.
Observers should note that the Liberal government's parliamentary secretaries are subject to the Conflict of Interest Act, but with Bill C-50, they are exempt from the transparency rules aimed at cash for access events. At the end of the day, cash for access events will still go ahead; we will just know a little more about them.
Is the government closing political financing loopholes and meeting its campaign promise? Not at all. What should this bill contain? A 2016 Globe and Mail editorial titled, “Money and politics: How to end the corruption and conflict of interest” said:
Individual donation limits should be low – possibly as low as $100. These rules should apply at all times, including election years and during party leadership campaigns.
While I am not sure about the amount, lowering the limit would absolutely take big money out of the political picture. No longer could wealthier Canadians expect to meet with cabinet ministers or the Prime Minister because only they could afford the steep price tag.
On another issue, a 2017 Senate report titled, “Controlling Foreign Influence in Canadian Elections” found that current law “does not sufficiently protect Canadian elections from being influenced by foreign entities, whether through direct interference or by providing funding to third parties.” Its recommendations, well worth the consideration of this chamber, include a “provision that more clearly states that any attempt made by foreign entities to induce Canadian electors to vote in a particular way is prohibited”, removal of the “six month limitation on the requirement to report contributions made to third parties for the purposes of election advertising”, and “require that Elections Canada perform random audits of third parties’ election advertising expenses and any contributions they have received”. These are provisions I would like to see examined further.
Currently in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, I am often asked about issues that constituents have learned about through media websites. Unfortunately, in many cases, these news websites turn out to be politically prejudiced, are often racist, and in some cases are heavily influenced by foreign elements. They mislead, scaremonger, and prevent fact-based political discourse.
Finally, I would like to point to Bill C-364, introduced by the member for Terrebonne. His bill would sharply restrict individual donations while bringing back a formula for public subsidies to campaigns. While Bill C-364 has not yet had a rigorous review by this House, it is certainly raising some excellent issues that I would like to have seen considered within Bill C-50.
Too often money equals power, but in this place, money should have no influence. While I will be supporting this bill as at least a first baby step in the right direction, I am disappointed that the Liberal government has missed this opportunity to truly strengthen Canada's political financing laws to truly prevent influence peddling and cash for access.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-02-13 15:53 [p.8857]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to rise in the House and talk about the Canada-European Union trade agreement, which is one that I have spoken on a number of times. We have the opportunity to stand in the House to speak about Canada's opportunities on the world stage and the promotion of Canada on the world stage. It always brings me back to the opportunities and experiences I had in the promotion of Canada for over 20 years working in aviation and trade. Indeed, it brings back some great memories.
I am going to focus my speech on a couple of different areas. Obviously, we have heard a lot of speeches over this debate and, indeed, on the earlier versions of this agreement. I am going to talk about why Canada has this agreement, and then get into the agreement as it sits today. I also want to talk a little bit beyond the trade agreements, what we need to do, and what the government needs to do to make sure that we capitalize on the opportunities that trade agreements bring.
The question we always have with respect to a trade agreement as we move forward is making sure that it is the right deal for Canadians, and making sure that Canadian jobs are always promoted first and foremost, and are top of mind. I know that for the previous government under Stephen Harper, first and foremost of critical importance was creating an environment that precipitated investment and trade, and also furthered trade. This was what Prime Minister Harper and his strong team of ministers focused on.
Again, we should always be mindful that we give kudos to the hon. colleague, the member for Abbotsford, who moved this agreement to where it is today. As well, we had the former minister of trade, the member for York—Simcoe, as well who did considerable work in moving agreements such as this.
If I remember correctly, our former Conservative government put over 40-plus agreements in place. The reason we got over 40 agreements done and in place is that we had a focused government that understood that Canada first and foremost is indeed a trading nation. We understood that our economy is predicated on the commodities that we produce. One in five Canadian jobs is directly or indirectly linked to trade. Trade allows us to secure and be the drivers of our prosperity. Every billion dollars in exports generates as many as 11,000 new jobs.
The Canada-EU agreement will be one of the largest agreements that we have had since NAFTA. The history of our Canada-EU relations goes back to 1497 when John Cabot landed. He was looking for spices, but instead found fish, cod at the time, and lots of it. Subsequently, a lot of boats from Europe came to get our cod, because Canadians had some of the best north Atlantic cod. It was dried, salted, and shipped over to Europe. This expanded into the fur trade with our first nations and further with the Hudson's Bay Company. We have a long history of trade with Europe.
As I said, earlier, the Canada-Europe trade agreement is a landmark agreement. It has been mentioned in the House that it really is a gold-plated agreement. It sets the standard for agreements.
This agreement connects producers to over 500 million consumers. It connects our producers to the world's largest economy. Indeed, the EU represents 500 million people and an annual economic activity of almost $20 trillion.
The day that this agreement comes into place, it is said that Canada could experience a 20% boost in bilateral trade, and I believe it has been mentioned time and again that we could experience a $12-billion annual increase in our Canadian economy. That is not chump change. That is a lot of money. That is a lot of jobs. That represents over 80,000 new Canadian jobs.
On the day that it comes into force, nearly 100% of all EU tariff lines on non-agricultural products would be duty-free, along with close to 94% of all EU tariff lines on agricultural products.
The Canada-EU agreement would also give Canadian service providers, which employ more than 13.8 million Canadians and account for 70% of Canada's total GDP, the best market access the EU has ever granted to any of its free trade agreement partners.
This agreement would also give Canadian suppliers of goods and services secure preferential access to the world's largest procurement market. The EU's $3.3-trillion government procurement market would provide our industry and our service providers with the most significant new export opportunities that they have seen in decades.
We have talked a lot about what CETA would bring and we have talked a lot about when it comes into force. I always like to bring it back to what it means for my province of British Columbia. I am the first to stand to say how proud I am to be from British Columbia and to be one of the MPs from there. The EU is already B.C.'s fifth-largest export destination and it is our fourth-largest trading partner. British Columbia stands to benefit significantly from the preferential access to the EU market. Once in force, CETA would eliminate tariffs on almost all of B.C.'s exports and provide access to new market opportunities in the EU. The provision of CETA would help erase regulatory barriers, reinforce intellectual property rights, and ensure more transparent rules for market access. B.C. would be positioned to have a competitive advantage over exporters from other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the EU.
I have said this before, and I will say it again. We have one of the most business-ready and most competitive business environments and supportive climates in B.C. Our province consistently receives AAA credit ratings. We have vast resources, low tax rates, a stable and well-regulated financial system, and a fiscally responsible government that attracts investment from around the world.
Canada used to have that, as well.
In the previous government, we had a government that understood that to be competitive on the world stage, we had to create a business environment, an investment environment, with low taxes, quality jobs, quality tradespeople. Our government understood that.
B.C. is at the commercial crossroads of Asia-Pacific and North America. We are also equidistant, in terms of flights, between Asia and the European markets. Our fish and seafood exporters would benefit from CETA. I have said this before.
The seafood industry has gone through many transitions and, indeed, faces an uncertain future. We are just finishing up our study of the Fisheries Act review. We studied the northern cod. We are seeing that fishery has yet to rebound. We have studied our Atlantic salmon fisheries, as well. We know that our fishing communities on the east coast are hurting, but there are incredible opportunities for them. When CETA comes into force, almost 96% of EU tariff lines for fish and seafood products would be duty-free and on 7%, 100% of the products would be duty-free.
It is hugely important because the EU is the world's largest importer of fish and seafood products. EU tariffs for fish and seafood average 11% and can be as high as 25%. It comes down to a competitive advantage, and Canada has it. Once the deal comes into force, Canada can be even more competitive on the world stage.
I talked a lot about what CETA would do and what it would bring, but I want to focus on getting agreements in place, what that means, and how we go about doing that.
We have strong familial ties with Europe. There is a large European diaspora in Canada making sure we can connect with those Canadians. Getting trade access is about more than just formal agreements. It is not enough to just sign the agreement. We have to make sure we have resources and that we are doing everything in our power to build the capacity to take advantage of these opportunities. Whether it is a strategy that looks at our ports or an airports strategy, the previous Conservative government understood that. We invested in our trade commissioners. We invested in making sure that our air policy was there to support our trade and agreements.
I want to talk a bit about that. As we said, getting the agreements across the finish line is just one thing, but we need to make sure that we get a strategy that leverages all of our advantages, including our geographic advantages at home and abroad. Whether it is our trade commissioners, whether it is making available marketing dollars or export investment dollars, it is always so critically important that there is a holistic program that backs up any trade agreement. Access to markets and trade promotion are futile if we cannot move the goods we produce faster and more efficiently than our competitors.
Our former Conservative government invested $14.5 billion in our gateway program, into our ports, our airports, and our transportation networks. We have a world-class multimodal system that competes with none other. We are well positioned to take advantage of our geographic position. In 2006, under former Prime Minister Harper, we launched the Asia–Pacific gateway program, and in 2007 we started a national policy framework for strategic gateways and corridors. On that, I would like to get into a bit about our gateway system. It is incumbent upon us that we talk about this. Again, signing the agreements is just one part of it. We have to be able to make sure that we can move our goods and move the people faster and more efficiently than others before.
I have spoken about the port of Prince Rupert time and again, the closest marine port to Asia compared to any other western seaport. It allows us the competitive advantage that our goods can arrive one to two days faster than from any other west coast port. As I said before, it means that products from and to North America arrive at their destination quicker, with less fuel and less risk. We also have the fastest and greenest road and rail networks into the U.S. Midwest, running right straight through Canada and into the heartland of the U.S. I mentioned Prince George Airport, my home airport, which has the third-longest runway in Canada. It was an investment that our previous government made so that we can compete on the world stage. That is just in my riding.
Port Metro Vancouver is North America's most diversified port. It trades 75 billion dollars' worth of goods with more than 160 trading economies annually. The port-related activity alone has an economic impact of $9.7 billion a year and continues to grow. These are all great investments that our previous government put in, and again it is about making sure that once they get that agreement in place they can capture those opportunities.
I want to talk again about the gateways. We have three major gateways in Canada. There is the Asia–Pacific gateway. We have the Ontario–Quebec continental gateway that our previous government invested huge amounts of money in. Thanks to CentrePort in Winnipeg and other trade corridors and supply chain logistics investments in marketing, we were able to capture that movement into the U.S. heartlands.
The Atlantic Canada gateway program in 2007 capitalized on many centuries of background in terms of using Atlantic Canada as a springboard into the U.S. for trading.
Our Conservative government understood that investments went beyond just signing an agreement. We looked at investing in our trade corridors. Whether it was the third-largest container port of Halifax or North America's most efficient class 1 rail carrier, double-stacked container service on both the east and west coasts, our government understood that it took more than just signing agreements to allow our consumers and producers to capitalize on them.
Trade is such a complex file. We have to look at many things. We talked about the umbrella, about ensuring we had a bit of strategy, a holistic approach to this. I go back to the agreement done in 2007. Our Conservative government recognized the direction we were moving in with our trade agreements and we recognized where we wanted to go. In December 2009, we signed a comprehensive air transport agreement, which allowed Canadian carriers access into 27 other markets. We reciprocated on that agreement, allowing those member states access to our Canadian market.
Atlantic Canada is situated right on the flight path. One of the very first airports in North America was Gander airport. It gets an incredible amount of traffic from Europe in the trans-Atlantic cargo network, and it is through the investments that our government made. We looked at our air policy to ensure our air cargo policy was where we wanted to go, that our aspirations matched what we were doing with our regulatory and policy framework.
Our government invested in information and technology to ensure Canada was in tune with some of its largest trading partners, whether it was the U.S. to the south of us and our largest trading partner, or the EU. We wanted to be in line with the information and technology of those countries. We wanted to ensure we had a secure supply chain as we moved forward.
I talk a lot about trade gateways and the promotion of Canada, because I was on the front line of promoting Canada. We always ask, why Canada? I had the opportunity to be in Europe this past fall. I boarded a bus with my Canadian pin. A handful of people wanted that pin. People want to trade with Canada. They want to be associated with Canada. Why? We have the rule of law and one of the safest and most secure countries in the world. We have a political system that rivals any.
Up until the last 18 months, for the most part, we had a secure business environment. Canada did not have a large debt, which usually creates political unrest, certainly with investors. We had principled and pragmatic leadership that saw where Canada wanted to go, but we looked at our policies, whether it was our air policy, our regulations, or our framework. We ensured our small and medium-sized enterprises could take that opportunity to invest, expand and see the benefits of trade agreements, whether it was our go global fund that helped with funding and marketing products.
Signing an agreement is just one part of the process. We celebrate and congratulate the government across the way for getting CETA to the finish line, but there are a whole host of things that need to accompany that agreement. Our Conservative government set them up very well. We hope the Liberal government recognizes that, sees this through and continues with some of the programs our government funded. We funded a number of different initiatives because, under Prime Minister Harper, we understood that Canada was a trading nation first and foremost and that Canadian jobs and Canadian prosperity depended on trade.
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