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View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2019-06-19 17:09 [p.29415]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on the new NAFTA. Before I start, I would like to point out that I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
Let me take the time to highlight, first and foremost, our government's record on international trade. Consecutive governments have talked about trade diversification and trade expansion, but most governments have failed. I acknowledge that the previous government, under Mr. Harper, had started some negotiations, but unfortunately, it was not able to close the deals. When it came to the free trade agreement CETA, while the Conservatives started the negotiations, they could not close the deal. When it came to the CPTPP, the Conservatives negotiated the previous agreement known as TPP, but it failed. It took our government's leadership and our Prime Minister's leadership to renegotiate it to include progressive, inclusive elements and revive it, improve it and ratify it.
Canada is a trading nation. One out of six Canadian jobs is related to trade. Our government has recognized the value of trade. However, we also know that it is really important to make sure that when we sign trade agreements, they are inclusive. We keep in mind our middle class, we keep in mind small and medium-size enterprises and we keep in mind gender equality. Those issues are not virtue signalling. Those issues are economic issues. Those issues benefit all Canadians. They help lift many people out of poverty and invite them into our labour force to ensure that everyone is benefiting from those free trade agreements.
I want to talk about how we were able to close the deal on CETA, sign it and ratify it here in the House of Commons. We were able to renegotiate and improve the previous agreement known as the TPP, the CPTPP, sign it and ratify it here in the House of Commons. In fact, we were one of the first countries to ratify the CPTPP. We were also able to renegotiate NAFTA, and now we are in the midst of the ratification process.
If we add all that up, that is 1.5 billion new customers for Canadian businesses and Canadian workers. Today Canada is the only member of the G7 that has a free trade agreement with all other G7 nations. These are not just any free trade agreements. They are fair, inclusive trade agreements that keep in mind the interests of all Canadians, particularly our middle class.
I also want to highlight our investment in expanding trade. Our government has put the largest investment into trade infrastructure and trade support systems in Canada's history. We have invested over $1.2 billion in expanding our trade corridors, including ports, roads and rail. We have invested in the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, which is our best asset. It is our Canadian businesses' and Canadian workers' best asset. It is Canada's global sales force. It is present in 160 countries around the world, promoting Canadian businesses and promoting Canadian interests, and we are proud to invest in it and to expand its presence around the world.
We are creating programs that support small and medium-sized businesses that are looking to expand and trade, because we know that small and medium-sized enterprises that trade pay better, are more resilient and are more profitable. It is in our best interest, if we want to continue to create more jobs, that we support small and medium-sized enterprises that export. Today only 14% of our SMEs trade, and we want to increase that number.
We have created programs such as CanExport that help small and medium-sized enterprises that are thinking about trade but are worried about the upfront costs. We are providing support to those SMEs all across our great country so that they are able to take advantage of those new markets that are available to them.
It does not end there. In 2018, foreign direct investment in Canada grew by 60%. Why? Canada is receiving an unprecedented level of foreign investment, because the rest of the world is noticing that Canada has access to an incredible array of markets. The U.S. market does not have the same access to foreign markets as Canada does.
International businesses are noticing. International investors are noticing. That is why we have seen a 60% increase in foreign trade investment. Direct investment from countries other than the U.S. has increased by 300%. Those investments bring jobs to our middle class. Those investments bring wealth to our businesses. This is good news for our country and good news for Canadians.
Let me take a moment to talk about NAFTA.
We had to renegotiate NAFTA when the current President of the United States campaigned on tearing up NAFTA. He told U.S. citizens that NAFTA needed to be torn up.
We started the negotiations with the new administration in good faith. We wanted to keep an open mind. NAFTA was over 20 years old, and it needed an overhaul. It was a tough negotiation process.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge how Canadians of all political stripes and Canadian businesses rallied around our government as we were in the midst of a tough negotiation with our partners.
However, many on the Conservative benches, and other Conservative voices, were asking us to capitulate. The Conservative Party loves to brag about Stephen Harper's record. Here is a direct quote from a memo written by Mr. Harper in 2017. He wrote, “it does not matter whether current American proposals are worse than what we have now.” He wanted us to capitulate, and he was encouraging people to put pressure on the Canadian government to capitulate.
My colleagues on the Conservative benches were asking questions in question period, and this is on the record. They were demanding that our government capitulate to U.S. demands. I am glad, and I am proud, that our Prime Minister, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, and our team did not capitulate. We stood firm for Canadian values. We stood firm for what made sense for Canadian businesses. We ended up with a great deal.
We did face a challenge with steel and aluminum tariffs, unjust and illegal steel and aluminum tariffs, but we hung in. We pushed and we advocated. At the time, my colleagues on the Conservative benches again asked us to drop our tariffs. They called them “dumb”. Our retaliatory tariffs worked, and we were able to negotiate the elimination of those tariffs with our partner, the United States.
My friends say that we were virtue-signalling. I would like to know from them what part of this new NAFTA is virtue-signalling. Is the new labour chapter virtue-signalling? Is the new chapter on the environment virtue-signalling? Is the new chapter on gender equity virtue-signalling? These inclusive chapters will benefit all Canadians and will raise their wages. They will make sure that we have more productive jobs for the middle class.
I am disappointed in the Conservatives. I am relieved that they will be voting for this agreement. It does not make sense to me, but still I am relieved that they will be voting for it. I ask them to join us and agree that those provisions and this deal are good for Canadians and good for middle-class Canadians.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 21:02 [p.29356]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-100.
I want to start my remarks by recognizing that we are ending the session shortly and this could very well be my last speech in the 42nd Parliament. That will no doubt delight my Liberal friends, but if they stay to listen to the content of my final remarks, they will have no delight because they will outline their failures.
I want to also send special thanks to a couple of exceptional Canadians, Dr. David Stevens and Dr. Bill Plaxton in Kitchener Waterloo. I have been away the last week with my wife who had surgery. She was in the hands of those amazing medical professionals at Grand River Hospital. I want to thank them and I want to thank her for allowing me to come and speak tonight to NAFTA. I have been trying to help at home a little this last week.
All of us in the House rely on exceptional spouses, partners and families. If these are my last remarks of this Parliament, I think all of us do not thank our families enough. I love Rebecca and I love my family. The sacrifices we make in the House lead to reflection at this time of year. It has been good for me to spend time with my wife who is my partner in this adventure. I want to thank Dr. Stevens in particular for his exceptional care.
I will now proceed to upset my Liberal friends in discussing Bill C-100, back to my normal approach.
I hope a lot of Canadians are watching. I doubt they are, but I will push this out because we have to break this narrative that the government has approached the U.S. trade relationship and NAFTA renegotiations in any form of strategic fashion, because that has not been the case.
Much like almost every foreign relations approach under the Prime Minister, Canada has suffered, our sectors have suffered, employers, job creators, employees have suffered. The Liberal Party always puts the Prime Minister's brand and their own electoral fortune ahead of the national interest. Nothing highlights that more than the famous state visit to India. However, if we look at all the strained relationships Canada has around the world right now, we have never had so many. Almost all of these diplomatic entanglements are attributable to the Prime Minister's own approach, style and obsession with his image and electoral prospects.
We saw that with photographs from the India trip, but we have also seen it in flawed trade relations with China, where we are in the biggest dispute since we have had relations with China in the 1970s, with Saudi Arabia, with the Philippines. Countries like Italy have imposed tariffs on durum wheat. We are losing track of the number of countries that have a serious problem with Canada on trade, on security or in other relations because of the Prime Minister's government.
As much as I have some admiration for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, she is presiding over probably the worst period of modern diplomatic relations of Canada. I do not think 10 more magazine covers of Maclean's will correct that record.
Nothing should concern Canadians more than the situation with NAFTA. Two-thirds of our economy relies on trade with the United States. I have said this many times. Canada became lazy for the last half century, relying on the fact that we lived just north to the largest, most voracious free market economy in the world. In the post-world cycle, Canada traded, produced, were drawers of water and hewers of wood for the largest market just south of us.
Until the Harper government, we did not look much beyond our shores to enhance free trade and develop partnerships to diversify our trade relationships. We were so reliant, but we were also pioneers in free trade.
We can go back to the Harper and Mulroney governments, even back to Pearson with the auto pact of the mid-1960s when there was free trade in automobiles for the first time between two modern industrial countries. An automobile assembled in Oshawa by people like my father and his colleagues who worked in Oshawa where I grew up, or an automobile assembled in Windsor, or Oakville or Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec was considered just the same as if it had been assembled in Michigan.
Over the subsequent decades, we saw a Great Lakes free trade based in auto. It was the epicentre of the global auto industry. With just-in-time manufacturing, a part could be made in Aurora, put on final assembly in Oshawa and 70% of the vehicles produced in our Ontario auto plants were for sale in the United States anyway. Therefore, our free trade with the United States was built upon the auto industry.
I say this for two reasons. The first is because representing Oshawa and that industry, the retirees and the workers there now is a priority for me. The second reason is because it should trouble Canadians that the minister did not mention the auto industry in her priority speech on NAFTA, despite the fact the Liberals' best friend, Jerry Dias, was on the NAFTA advisory committee. I was pushing for auto to be a priority. whereas Jerry Dias was applauding the Prime Minister for an agenda that did not mention the auto industry.
Let us do a recap. President Trump was elected, and before his inauguration, before he was president, the Prime Minister volunteered to renegotiate NAFTA. There have been so many mistakes between now and then, we forget that our Prime Minister inserted us into something that was likely going to be focused on modernization with Mexico. Later on, the U.S. outlined what it wanted.
In July 2017, a United States trade representative laid out a series of priorities for the U.S. It spelled them out in detail, including things related to state-owned enterprises and non-market economy-type structures, which were a surprise to people at the end. The U.S. laid it out in July 2017 in detail, rules of origin, part content and the fact it wanted to go after what it perceived to be subsidies in the agriculture sector in Canada, despite the fact the U.S. spends more on agricultural subsidies than we spend on our military. However, it laid out what it wanted to talk about.
What did the Liberal Party lay out a few months later in August 2017 at the University of Ottawa? The minister launched her vaunted progressive agenda speech. There was no response to what the U.S. had already put out on trade. That is how a negotiation is supposed to work. The U.S. talks about the priorities it wants to talk about at the table and we put forward a contrary position. We should have pushed back and said that the U.S. had to stop subsidizing its agriculture sector before it could lecture us. However, the Liberals did not do that. They proceeded to make it all about the Prime Minister again. The “progressive agenda” they called it.
I invite Canadians to look at the speech. The core objectives of the minister's speech were laid out in detail and they were failures across the board. I know the minister has a high degree of education, but if she was getting marked on her paper, her speech, she would have failed.
Let me take the House through the core objectives laid out by the Liberal Party at the beginning of NAFTA.
The first objective was to modernize NAFTA for the digital revolution. That did not happen. In fact, there are concerns with respect to data transfer and localized storage of digital information that Canada was not able to negotiate into the new NAFTA. Therefore, the first core objective was a failure.
The second objective was the progressive section within NAFTA, where the minister, and later on the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and others, said that the government wanted clear, new chapters on climate change, gender rights, indigenous issues regarding reconciliation, those sorts of things. At the time, I said it was hard to be critical of things that were very important social programming and policy issues, particularly reconciliation. I take that responsibility very seriously. However, I also recognize that NAFTA is a trade agreement. There is not even a constitutional alignment between first nations and indigenous peoples, between Mexico, the United States and Canada, so how could we ever negotiate a trade agreement with a chapter on indigenous issues, for example? It was impossible.
Why were those elements the second prong of Canada's NAFTA strategy? Because it was the Prime Minister's brand. That could have been ripped out of the 2015 Liberal election platform.
When we are putting up policies to ensure we guarantee almost two-thirds of our economic activity as a nation, we should not be doing the posturing that the Liberals do on all these relationships. It leads to bad outcomes.
The third core objective the Liberal Party outlined was harmonizing regulations. That did not happen either. In fact, the last government had regulatory co-operation in the western hemispheric travel initiative, beyond the border initiatives. We have gone way back. We are not harmonizing any regulations.
The fourth core objective was government procurement and eliminating local content and buy American provisions. The Liberals failed on that one too. There remain buy America provisions, and the trend is getting worse.
The fifth core objective was to make the movement of professionals easier with respect to allowing Canadian professionals or people transferred to work in the United States. They failed on that front too. They did not secure that. That should have been low hanging fruit.
The sixth core objective was supply management, which the Liberals caved on as well. What I never heard the government say was the fact that the supply management system was criticized relentlessly. We heard President Trump talk about high tariff rates. I never heard a Liberal minister push back on the United States and say that its collection of direct agriculture subsidies amounted to more subsidization of the agricultural sector in the United States than in Canada by a country mile. In fact, the Americans spend more on agricultural subsidies on average each year than we spend on our military. We should have been pushing back at this narrative.
Those were the six core objectives of the minister's speech at the University of Ottawa. I would invite Canadians to look at it. We did not achieve a single objective. If that is not failure of colossal proportions, I do not know what is.
At the same time, we had section 232 speculation about steel and aluminum tariffs. The Conservatives said at the time that we needed to talk security, that we needed to talk trade, that we needed to ensure we could use NORAD and other relationships that were unique to Canada as a way to ensure we did not have section 232 tariffs applied.
The Prime Minister did a steel town tour when the government gained a one month exemption from tariffs. A month later the tariffs applied and they hurt Canada hard for a year. If we look at the statements by Secretary Ross in the United States, we could have avoided it.
Bill C-101 that is before the House now on safeguards is what the U.S. had been asking for. Had we aligned on concerns about oversupply of steel from China, had we aligned on security provisions, we could have avoided section 232 tariffs and we could have had a better NAFTA.
At the time, the Conservatives publicly told the minister to use the North American defence relationship to distinguish Canada. Only Canada has a defence and homeland security partnership with the United States. Mexico does not. Europe does not. NAFTA does not. Only Canada does, and we have had that since the 1950s.
When we are talking trade, or security, or oversupply of commodities from China, we should have been aligned. Oversupply of Chinese steel was something the Obama administration started taking on in the early days of the Liberal government, as the administration was winding down. This was not all about it being hard to align with Trump. No attempt was made by the Liberal government.
The damage the so-called progressive agenda did allowed Mexico to negotiate an agreement before Canada. It should astound Canadians to know that in the final months of negotiations, Canada was not at the table but Mexico was. Mexico had 85 direct meetings with administration officials even though it was starting in a much worse position. The border relationship with Mexico was part of the U.S. presidential election. However, Mexico was strategic. It did not posture. It did not virtue signal. It did not try and run its next election using NAFTA negotiations as the stage.
I cannot stress enough that on almost every major diplomatic entanglement we have had under the current government, it has been the result of the Liberal Party putting its own election fortunes ahead of our national interests, ahead of steelworkers, ahead auto workers and ahead of the softwood lumber industry, which was hardly even mentioned by the government. We have seen those sectors, agriculture and others, let down time after time because of the Prime Minister's particular agenda and his desire to make this all about him. In this Parliament, we should be serving Canadians and not the electoral fortunes of that party.
What has Mexico done? It has surpassed us under the Liberals. In fact, Mexico is now the largest bilateral trade partner with the United States at $97.4 billion in the first two months of this year. That was ahead of our $92.4 billion, even though it is caught in the trade disruption. Mexico has been smarter than the current government has, so much so that it reached an agreement, and Canada was given an option to join it. There were no further negotiations, despite the minister's frequent trips to Washington and storming into the building. The deal was done, and if members go to Washington, everyone knows that. The deal was done, and Canada was given the ability to sign on.
Now we hear the Liberals holding on to things like culture, which was exempted. Culture was never mentioned by the U.S. once. It was not a priority in the minister's speech, and the Prime Minister never mentioned it. The Liberals are now trying to cobble together things they try to say they saved. We already had chapter 19. They are saying that culture was not changed. The Americans were not trying to change it. I read through the six core objectives in the minister's speech. The Liberals failed on every single one.
We have tried to work with them. In fact, the relief from the section 232 tariffs was initiated by the Conservative caucus going down there and saying that we would work with the government on ratification, and the member for Malpeque knows that. He and many people are leaving, because they do not like the way the Prime Minister approached it. I have lost track of how many more Liberal first-timers have resigned today. They do not agree with his approach.
We went down and said that we would try to use the dying days of Parliament to pass a new NAFTA, even though we think it is a step back. Our leader has called it NAFTA 0.5, because we wanted those steel and aluminum tariffs off. They were hurting manufacturers in Ontario. They were hurting people in my riding, like Ranfar Steel, and steel plants in Prince Edward Island that I visited last summer. They were being hurt in Quebec. Therefore, we made an agreement to say that we would try to work with the government on ratifying a deal, which we think is a step back, just to get trade certainty. Businesses want some certainty, even if it means taking a worse deal. This will be a priority for us.
I want to end with remarks that are etched on the walls of the U.S. embassy in Canada. We can let personalities get in the way on both sides, but it will be a priority for the Conservative government to get this relationship back on track.
In 1961 in this chamber, John F. Kennedy said this:
Geography has made us neighbours. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder
He said that in this chamber, and that is a challenge to us. These are our closest allies, trade partners and familial connections going back to the origins of our country. We have to be able to fight for our interests and co-operate on security and trade. To do that, the Conservatives wanted to work with the government to get the tariffs done and work with the NAFTA agreement as we have it. We will fix the gaps after a change in government, sector by sector, including auto, softwood and agriculture. To get the certainty, we were prepared to try to work with the government, even though we would have taken a very different approach.
I look forward to questions, including from my friend, the MP for Malpeque.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2019-06-18 21:25 [p.29359]
Madam Speaker, my colleague made a comment about how the tariffs have been hitting our steel industry hard.
I was looking at the PBO report, and two things stuck out. Last year, the Liberals collected $1.1 billion more in tariffs than they actually delivered to our suffering steel companies. In the fall economic statement, the Liberals further forecast that the Liberal government would bank an additional $3.54 billion in tariffs instead of actually using that money to help our suffering steel industry.
I wonder if my friend could comment on the duplicity of the Liberal government, saying that it stands behind our steelworkers when it is actually just taking the money and putting it right in the bank.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 21:25 [p.29359]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Edmonton West for his work. In fact, he and his office knew the last budget and the errors in it better than the Minister of Finance and his entire department. I think the people of Edmonton should be very proud of the team we have there. It will be growing by two in a few months.
The $3.5 billion in tariffs is part of our push-back on Bill C-101. The government promised certain things in terms of tariff relief. When it imposed the retaliatory tariffs on the U.S., it knew that it was having an adverse effect on Canadian producers and suppliers. In fact, I called some of them dumb, because the minister had promised me that she would adjust if those retaliatory tariffs were having virtually no impact in the U.S. but a huge impact in our community. We all know boat sellers across the country, like the Junkin family in my riding. They have received no relief. They now have stranded inventory.
As part of our support for the safeguard bill the Liberals are rushing through at the end, we have asked for a plan to get rid of that $3.5 billion. That is tax they collected that is in government revenues. It should go out to the small steel fabricators. It should go out to the boat retailers. It should go out to the SMEs impacted by Liberal trade disruption.
When are the Liberals going to dispense the money these Canadian enterprises, particularly in western Canada, need so much?
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
moved that Bill C-100, An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I want to start by acknowledging that we are meeting on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
I am pleased to rise in the House today to support Bill C-100, the new NAFTA implementation act.
Because of its size and geography, Canada has always been a trading nation. Exports are the very bedrock of our economy and account for fully one third of our GDP. Imports supply our businesses, fuel our production and meet consumers' needs. Naturally, for geographic reasons, a significant proportion of those exports and imports are with our biggest trading partner, the United States.
The vast majority of them cross the border tariff-free because of our North American free trade agreement. The region covered by this North American free trade agreement is now the largest economic region in the world. Together, Canada, the United States and Mexico account for a quarter of the world's GDP, with just 7% of the global population. We exchange goods, services, investment and people in a growing market that now encompasses 486 million consumers and is worth some $22 trillion U.S.
Every day, more than two billion dollars' worth of trade and investment move back and forth between Canada and the United States. Our continental supply chains have strengthened North America's ability to compete and to succeed in the global marketplace, and we benefit from that strength here in Canada.
This successful trading arrangement was the foundation upon which we built the agreement being debated here today, and I am pleased to be here to speak in support of the new NAFTA.
When the U.S. administration announced that it would seek to renegotiate NAFTA, we saw an opportunity to update, modernize and improve a trade agreement that was already a strong foundation for North American commerce. We knew that in order to be effective, it was critical that we present a united front and speak for all Canadians in our negotiation.
We came to the negotiating table united as a country. Throughout our intense negotiations, we stayed focused on what matters most to Canadians: jobs, growth and expanding the middle class. We knew these priorities were Canadians' priorities because we spoke with Canadians, industry, agriculture and labour across the country. We sought advice and insight across party lines and asked current and former politicians, including many premiers and mayors, for their help in shaping Canada's priorities and in championing them.
Crucially, we created a NAFTA advisory council, which counted among its members former politicians from the NDP and the Conservatives, as well as business leaders, labour leaders, agricultural leaders and indigenous leaders.
I would like to pause here to thank the council for the excellent work it has done and continues to do on behalf of our great country.
I would also like to thank Canadians from all across the country, especially from business, labour, agriculture, politicians of all stripes, premiers and mayors for their hard work on the new NAFTA. This was a true team Canada effort, and I am so proud of the way our whole country approached these sometimes difficult negotiations.
I also want to thank my hon. colleagues throughout this House for their advocacy and insight throughout this process. So many of them have been integral to our work.
Throughout the negotiation, we kept our cool in the face of uncertainty and worked on getting a new agreement that would preserve jobs and market access, and in turn, support the middle class and economic growth. We held firm. We held out for a good deal, and that is what we have today.
I would be remiss if I failed to note that a major obstacle remained even after the agreement was signed in Buenos Aires last November: the United States' unjust and illegal section 232 tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
When the United States imposed the tariffs, Canada immediately took retaliatory measures by imposing counter-tariffs. Canada stood its ground, asserting that the tariffs were inappropriate between two countries that not only are key national security allies but also have a free trade agreement. We made that clear to the American administration, members of Congress, union leaders and business leaders south of the border. We also made it clear that it would be very difficult to ratify the new agreement as long as the tariffs remained in place.
On May 17, we succeeded in getting the steel and aluminum tariffs eliminated.
As I said when I recently met with workers in Regina and in Saguenay, here is why we have succeeded in getting those tariffs lifted. We knew the facts were on our side. We knew that Canada did not represent a national security threat to the United States. We knew our trade with the United States in steel is balanced and reciprocal. We stayed united. We were patient. We persevered, and in the end, we prevailed.
Now that the tariffs have been fully lifted, we are ready to move forward with the ratification of the new NAFTA. Our aim was to preserve Canada's preferential access to our largest and closest market, and that is what we achieved. This is essential for our businesses, our entrepreneurs, our farmers, and for the millions of jobs and all the middle-class families across Canada who rely on a strong trade relationship with our neighbour.
We succeeded in preserving key elements of NAFTA, including chapter 19, the all-important dispute settlement mechanism. No trading relationship is ever without irritants. In the case of the Canada-U.S. relationship, we are aware of the importance of maintaining an effective mechanism to settle disputes. For us, this was non-negotiable.
Over the years, we have used dispute settlement mechanisms many times to make impartial decisions for Canadian industry and workers, particularly in the case of softwood lumber.
We also protected the cultural exception. Canada’s cultural industries provide more than 650,000 jobs across the country. Beyond this vital economic role, they are integral to our ability to maintain a strong sense of national identity, tell our stories and express our culture in all of its diversity. By preserving this exception, we will ensure that Canadian culture is protected and that our unique linguistic and cultural identity will not be jeopardized.
NAFTA is an agreement that is a quarter of a century old. In preparing for this negotiation, we heard from Canadian exporters that there were a lot of bread-and-butter issues preventing them from taking full advantage of the deal. We heard what Canadian businesses needed and we responded.
The new NAFTA includes important updates that will modernize our deal for the 21st century and simplify life for Canadian exporters. In fact, in our consultations before the start of the negotiations, we found that about 40% of Canadians doing business with the U.S. did not bother to use their NAFTA preferences at all. It is a stunning number. The new NAFTA will make life easier for business people on both sides of the border by cutting red tape and harmonizing regulations.
Our job as a government is to safeguard economic gains and prevent economic threats. That is what we have done through this modernized agreement.
Consider Canada's automotive sector, which contributes $19 billion to our country's annual GDP. This is a sector that directly employs more than 125,000 people with an additional 400,000 jobs created in after-market services and dealership networks. Unfair tariffs on Canadian cars and car parts would threaten our economy and hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs and the families they support. Canada was able to negotiate a gold-plated insurance policy for Canadian automobiles and auto parts, protecting our industry from future potential section 232 tariff measures by the U.S. on cars and car parts. This provides added stability and predictability for the car sector and reaffirms Canada as an attractive investment destination.
In addition, the new NAFTA's rules of origin chapter addresses automotive manufacturing wages in North America by including a labour value content requirement. This means that a percentage of the value of a tariff-free NAFTA vehicle must be produced by workers earning at least $16 U.S. an hour. This is a provision that should help level the playing field for Canadian workers.
The new agreement seeks to improve labour standards and working conditions in all three countries. The labour chapter contains key provisions that support fair and inclusive trade, such as enforceable obligations to address issues related to migrant workers, forced or compulsory labour and violence against union members. It promotes increased trade and investment opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses through the small business chapter.
Perhaps one of the achievements I am most proud of is that the investor-state dispute resolution system, which in the past allowed foreign companies to sue Canada, will be gone. This means that Canada can make its own rules about public health and safety, for example, without the risk of being sued. Known as ISDS, this provision has cost Canadian taxpayers more than $300 million in penalties and legal fees.
Over the past 25 years, North American trade in agriculture and agri-food products has nearly quadrupled. Canada and the U.S. enjoy one of the largest agricultural trading relationships in the world. It is worth more than $48 billion U.S. a year. Under this new agreement, Canadian exporters will continue to benefit, including new market access for Canadian exports of refined sugar, sugar-containing products, and margarine. This is significant for our farmers and our food industry.
Importantly, the agreement preserves and maintains Canada's system of supply management for dairy, poultry and egg products, despite strong attempts by the U.S. to dismantle it. While the new NAFTA introduces a specific amount of liberalization of market access, the future of supply management itself—production control, pricing mechanisms and import controls—is not in doubt. To mitigate the impact of these changes, the government will compensate producers for any loss of market share and work with them to further strengthen their industry.
Our shared North American environment is vital to our economic prosperity. The new NAFTA will ensure that our trading partners do not gain an unfair competitive advantage by failing to enforce their environmental laws. It also includes a new environment chapter, subject to the same dispute settlement mechanism, to help uphold air quality and fight marine pollution.
We secured a general exception related to the rights of indigenous peoples. We have ensured that the environment chapter recognizes the important role of indigenous peoples in conservation, sustainable fisheries and forest management.
The new labour chapter includes a non-discrimination clause for employment and occupation, and addresses barriers to the full participation of women in the workforce.
We also ensured that LBGTQ2 individuals are supported. In fact, the new NAFTA is the first international trade deal that recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination in its labour chapter.
In renewing and modernizing NAFTA, it is important to underscore the importance of our long-standing and mutually beneficial trade relationship with the United States. Our relationship is special and enduring because of our geography and history. It is special and enduring because of our close business, family and personal ties. It has been a significant contributor to jobs, economic growth and prosperity in both countries.
Our partnership with Mexico is critically important as well, and the new NAFTA will ensure that the trilateral North American relationship remains mutually beneficial for years to come.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank United States trade representative Ambassador Bob Lighthizer; the former Mexican secretary of the economy, lldefonso Guajardo; his successor, the current Mexican Secretary of the Economy, Graciela Márquez; and Mexican Undersecretary Jesús Seade. All of us worked hard together, and in the end, we achieved a win-win-win deal for our three countries.
With regard to ratification, insofar as it is possible, we intend to move in tandem with our partners. I am in very close contact with my counterparts in both countries as we discuss our domestic ratification processes.
Our government's purpose is to create the conditions to grow a stronger middle class and improve opportunities for all Canadians. That is what we have achieved with the new NAFTA, and this is something all Canadians can be proud of.
View Dean Allison Profile
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-11 11:44 [p.28892]
Madam Speaker, as has been mentioned before by my colleague from the NDP, I would caution the government to move prudently on this. We have already seen the Democrats not wanting to give Mr. Trump any kind of victory. Therefore, we have not seen a lot of co-operation from the U.S. If we get too far ahead of ourselves regarding ratification, that could be an issue. Therefore, I would echo the comments of my colleague from the NDP that as a result of the uncertainty we see in the U.S., we need to be cautious as we move forward with ratification.
The government's legislation aims to implement the Canada-United States agreement. The government is calling it by its acronym CUSMA. The bill would reaffirm key NAFTA provisions, but it would also introduce new conditions on Canadian trade and economic strategy.
Mexico and especially the United States are Canada's natural trading partners. A framework agreement that governs trade and other commercial issues between all three countries is essential.
I would like to state from the beginning that the Conservatives will support the speedy ratification of CUSMA's implementing legislation. However, having said that, it is also important to say that the deal and how it came to be is not without significant flaws.
In the beginning of negotiations, the Prime Minister pushed an agenda, including issues that were not on the radar of the Americans whatsoever. This nearly derailed the whole deal. It was very similar to what the Prime Minister did just months before negotiations of the trans-Pacific partnership with his erratic behaviour. The government pushed non-trade-related matters, which seemed to irritate the Americans, instead of seeking to find common ground on priorities and mutual interests.
As a result of taking that type of tactic to negotiations, the Americans negotiated most of the steel provisions with the Mexicans and then brought Canada in at the eleventh hour to deal with some of the remaining issues that had not been dealt with. We had an opportunity to be at the table with our most important and significant trading partner, but we were talking about issues the Americans did not want to talk about. As a result, they decided that since we did not want to talk about trade and NAFTA, they would talk to Mexico. We should think about the implications of that. We were not even at the table at the time the agreement came into effect. That speaks volumes to how the government handled this process.
As I said before, of course the Conservatives are going to support the bill. We reached out to stakeholders. I had a chance, like some of my colleagues, to talk to stakeholders across the country. They said that they needed certainty, that they needed a deal. There was no question about that. However, the concern is that the Liberal government talks about what a great deal it is, but that is definitely not the case as we move forward. What stakeholders and people have told us is that a deal is better than no deal. That is why Conservatives will be supporting the bill.
The government did not fight for our own interests. Let us think about that. It talked about the interests that were important to the Liberal Party and its political brand. The Liberals were focused on non-trade issues instead of worrying about the national interests of Canadians.
Let us consider auto manufacturing, agriculture and lumber. After four years, we still do not have a softwood lumber deal. I do not even know if the conversation has been brought up. Despite our many interests, which include auto manufacturing, agriculture, lumber and prescription drugs, the Prime Minister represents his own political interests. That should be very concerning for Canadians.
In addition, during the negotiations, the Americans decided to impose devastating steel and aluminum tariffs for close to a year. This was after months of them asking the Liberals to fix the loopholes that allowed steel dumping into the United States via Canada.
Now we have a bill before us that does not put safeguards in place. The Americans asked us to do this four years ago, but because the Liberals decided it was not important, we ended up with steel and aluminum tariffs. For years our manufacturing sector was under a bunch of uncertainty. We saw our jobs move to the states and a number of other things. Only now are the Liberals reacting. It it almost as though they created the crisis so they could point out they fixed it. That is what Canadians should really understand.
Canadian businesses and producers are still reeling after this very difficult period. The imposition of these very avoidable tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum have served to erode our competitiveness and have impacted thousands across the supply chain. The Liberals announced a $2-billion assistance package for the steel and aluminum sector, but almost none of this money has gone to the workers.
I talked to a number of businesses the other day. They said that before steel and aluminum tariffs were lifted, there was a big push from the government to get their applications in and it wanted to work with them. Then, all of a sudden, there was radio silence.
Are all those companies left holding the bag with respect to not having money and not having access or is the government going to follow through? It is easy to announce and reannounce programs. It is more difficult to ensure the money gets out the door. This is a huge issue. The reality is that these tariffs were avoidable. There was no reason for those steel and aluminum tariffs and the pain that our manufacturing sector has had to endure over the last couple of years.
Once again, the Liberals talk about all the money that has been collected, which I believe almost $2 billion. My point is that very few businesses have received any money. We studied this at committee for quite some time. Company after company said that the application process was difficult and that was hard to figure out how to make this thing work. They also said that they were not getting money. Once again, the announcement talked about the money, but the proof was whether the companies had the kind of help they required, and that was not the case.
This was all avoidable if the government had acted when the Americans asked it to close the loophole that allowed cheap and dumped steel to flood the American market, using Canada as a transit country.
The Liberals have lurched from crisis to crisis on trade and tariffs. They have been constantly out of step with Canadian workers and manufacturers. The government's negotiations of CUSMA also delivered no progress on buy American provisions with respect to government procurement.
Another issue we have not talked about is buy American. It is concerning for our Canadian manufacturers. Are they going to have the ability to access some of those things? It is a major blow to Canadian businesses and jobs across the country.
The Liberals also made concessions on the Canadian supply-managed agriculture sector, which the foreign affairs minister deemed to be key to our national interests. The Americans did not budge when it came to their use of agriculture subsidies. As a matter of fact, we have seen the subsidies grow over the last number of months.
The government and the Prime Minister also made key concessions on intellectual property, which will see provinces burdened with higher costs for biological drugs.
The government also restricted future trade deals, with unparalleled provisions granting Americans an indirect veto over Canadian trade partners. Think about this for one second. This is an issue of sovereignty. While the U.S. negotiates trade deals with China, basically it has told us that we need to get its permission if we want to move forward on any deal with China. This is huge. This was not discussed a whole lot in the general public, but has long-term consequences for our ability to do our job as Canadians and get our products to market.
I will give credit where credit is due. One of the major achievements was to preserve chapter 19, the dispute resolution provisions. The minister mentioned that. It is fair to say that it was a concern if we did not have an independent third party to look at some of our challenges. Therefore, I will give credit to the Liberals on that one, but that will probably be it right now. However, that was definitely important.
A trade deal is judged by what one has gained from the negotiations. In this deal, compared to previous versions, Canada lost a number of key sectors and gained absolutely nothing. However, the Liberals go on tour around the country like they are some kind of heroes and it makes no sense. They have lost ground from previous governments. We do not talk about it as a save, but it could have been a lot worse. However, to travel around the country and say somehow this is an amazing deal for Canadians is just not true.
It has been very clear from the beginning that the Liberal government was unprepared to renegotiate the NAFTA deal. When the negotiations started, the Liberals kept stumbling and in the end, they were forced to take a deal where they lost on many fronts.
As I mentioned earlier, we will support the bill because it is essential to provide our businesses and producers with certainty. We have heard that on the ground. They have also suffered enough under the government. The Liberals have mismanaged the economy and trade. They have created a lot of uncertainty as we move forward.
Another thing we need to point out is that last year the U.S. grew its economy by 3.2%. That was after a government shutdown for the first quarter. In 2018, when the government was shut down for a large part of the first quarter in which it only had 2% growth, it still was able to notch up growth of over 3.2%.
We need to compare our record with that. In the last quarter of 2018, we saw growth at 0.3%. This quarter it was 0.4%, which is not quite a third of that of the U.S. The U.S. economy is on fire right now and the best we can muster is a growth of 0.4%, with all the money we are spending and all the deficits we are creating. The comparative is important to understand.
In order to compete with the United States and Mexico, our business environment needs to be more competitive or else we are setting up our businesses to fail in the face of strong competition from our counterparts to the south.
How is Canada doing with respect to competitiveness? The government has managed to make things worse on this front as well.
Let us start with the most important mistake first, and that is the carbon tax. First, let us just get this out of the way in the beginning. The carbon tax is not an environmental plan; it is a tax plan. It will do nothing for the environment. The Liberals are fully aware of this and Canadians know it as well.
The Liberal carbon tax is not a plan to lower emissions. It is just another cash grab, which is hurting already overtaxed Canadians. Small businesses and their employers are already being overtaxed. The Liberals have increased CPP and EI premiums. They have increased personal income tax rates for entrepreneurs. They have made changes to the small business tax rate that will disqualify thousands of local businesses.
Dan Kelly, president of Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said:
Many small businesses want to take action on climate change, but the carbon tax is putting them further behind. In fact, 71 per cent have told us that the carbon tax makes it harder for them to make further investments to reduce their emissions.
Seventy-one per cent of small businesses have said that the carbon tax makes it harder for them to make further investments to reduce their emissions. What more proof does the government need, when the ill-advised carbon tax makes no impact on the environment and makes our businesses uncompetitive.
Last Friday, the Canadian Press reported that the average carbon tax rebate Canadians received in 2018 was significantly lower than the amount the Liberals had claimed they would receive. When announcing the carbon tax rebate program, the Liberals established the average payment would be $248 in New Brunswick, $307 in Ontario, $336 in Manitoba, and $598 in Saskatchewan. However, the actual average rebates have been much lower: $171 in New Brunswick, $203 in Ontario, $231 in Manitoba and $422 in Saskatchewan.
Like the Prime Minister himself, these carbon tax rebates are simply not as advertised. The Liberals continue to cover up the true costs of the carbon tax. They still have not told Canadians how much more it will cost them for everyday essentials, like groceries, gasoline and home heating.
With less money being returned to Canadians, they will have even less money in their pockets, thanks to the Prime Minister and his Liberal carbon tax. The Liberal carbon tax will go up, if he is re-elected in October. Environment Canada is already planning for $300 per tonne, which is 15 times more expensive than it is today.
Make no mistake, a Conservative government will scrap the carbon tax, leave more money in the pockets of Canadians, let them get ahead and allow our businesses to stay competitive.
How else is the government making Canada's business environment uncompetitive? It is a good question, because Canada recently fell to the lowest spot ever in competitiveness. Canada has fallen out of the top 10 in a ranking of the world's most competitive economies. We are now 13th. Let us think about that. In an age where we are competing with one of the largest and most successful economies in the world, the U.S., which is ranked at number three, not only are we not in the top 10 anymore, we have dropped to 13th.
Competitiveness drives our economy. It helps us to compete when we have deals and when we try to move our goods and services across the border. This will only continue to make it tougher for Canadians to succeed financially in the coming years.
As I mentioned, the United States is number three. We are trying to compete with the world's biggest economy and it is tough when we see it use tax reform and regulation reform. What we a doing is making it more difficult for Canada to compete as a country.
If we look at the other things that are going on right now, and some of the things we talk about when it comes to competitiveness, there is the whole issue of pipelines. We have tanker moratoriums and things like that.
Let us think about that. In a day and age when the U.S. is building more pipelines, we have bills like Bill C-69. I noticed in the paper this morning that six premiers have come together to say that if something is not done, this is going to create a potential national unity crisis. In terms of the investment that we have chased from this country, it is almost $100 billion in energy investment.
Let us look at the things we are doing. We have a country south of the border that is looking for ways to reduce regulation and red tape. We have a government here that is barely chugging along in terms of its GDP. As I said, it is 0.3% in the last quarter and 0.4% in this quarter. That is without the new rules in this legislation that is before the House right now.
If we look at bills like Bill C-69, which is to increase the regulatory reform when it comes to pipelines, and Bill C-48, where we are trying to get our goods to market around the world, this is one more thing that makes us uncompetitive as we move forward. One of the things we need to be on guard against is that as the U.S. and countries around the world are reducing and streamlining regulation, we are making these things more difficult.
We need to look at what we are doing as a country. Trade deals are important. The U.S. is extremely important as a partner. As I said before, stakeholders have told us that it is more important to have a bad deal in place, for certainty, than it is to have no deal at all. Therefore, as we move forward on these issues, one of the things we need to be talking about is not just the trade deals we have right now, but how we are going to become more competitive in the future.
Looking at the kind of money we are spending on deficits, the current government has racked up almost $80 billion in deficit spending, and yet we have very little to show for it when we start talking about GDP growth and some of these things. There was the tax on small businesses that we experienced two or three summers ago. How are these things helpful in terms of making us more competitive?
As I look at what is going on around the world, I believe we are heading in the wrong direction. I believe we should be doing much better, given the fact that the U.S. economy is on fire south of the border. Yes, we need to do other things, like work on how we can get our goods and services across interprovincial borders and a number of these things. However, one of the things we need to constantly work on is how we streamline to reduce the burdens that business owners have to deal with.
In looking at this bill before us today, we realize that it would create some certainty for some businesses. In the long term, the challenge will be how we deal with this issue in terms of competitiveness. How do we deal with the issue that we need to do a better job of getting our goods and services to market? How do we deal with the issues of trade infrastructure in this country?
When we were in government, we spent a number of dollars on trade infrastructure, as it was very important to us. We have not seen a whole lot of money go out the door in terms of infrastructure. There has been some talk about an infrastructure bank, and yet in the three or four years, there has been very little money flowing out the door. We have somewhere in the neighbourhood of almost $80 billion in deficit spending and we do not have a lot to show for it.
Sure, we have more programs, but at the end of the day, what do Canadians feel about that? I would say that Canadians are not feeling that they are any better off. As a matter of fact, we have seen it reported in the press that Canadians are feeling the pressure, in terms of what they have to take home at the end of every month.
As we move forward, these trade deals are important, but we have to continually focus on competitiveness here at home. We have to figure out ways that we can reduce taxes, reduce regulations and streamline the process, and then we can move in a direction that helps us to compete around the world. We have a great opportunity, with what is going on around the world right now, to attract the best and the brightest. I would encourage the government to continue to move in that direction. I can assure members that when we have the opportunity to form government in October, some of the things we are going to be looking at are how we become more competitive as a country and how we compete with the U.S. and other countries around the world.
In closing, the Conservatives will be supporting this deal. However, we have some concerns with how it was handled. We have concerns with some of the crises that were created that we believe did not need to happen. We will do our best to try to fix these things when we are elected with a strong, stable Conservative government in October of this year.
View Scott Duvall Profile
View Scott Duvall Profile
2019-06-11 12:42 [p.28901]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Essex for all the great work she has done on this file. The passion she has for this file, and making sure we get it right, has been totally amazing.
One of the issues and concerns we had in Hamilton and across the country, in the provinces that have steel industries and manufacturing industries, was tariffs. We were very happy when we heard the announcement that the tariffs were lifted.
However, do we know all the details of that agreement? The reason I ask is that one of the problems the steel industry had was about quotas. I understand that no quotas are mentioned in the new document, which is very good. However, a new word has been invented, “surge”. What does that mean? Does that mean that tariffs can come back on at any time if there is a surge? Have the tariffs definitely gone away?
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2019-06-11 12:43 [p.28901]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague has done incredible work on the steel file as well. We sit on the steel caucus together. It really has been a team effort, certainly working with labour and all the stakeholders to see the removal of the tariffs.
However, as the member points out, in the agreement that we have, the tariffs are not actually gone. They could still be imposed at any time. The surge is completely undefined. Some of my Conservative colleagues talk about the importance of certainty and businesses being able to know what they can expect. However, we have undefined terms. I have asked the minister this question directly in question period, and I have not received an answer from her. I do not believe there is an interpretation or a joint understanding of what “surge” means.
There are loopholes that one could drive a truck through in removing these tariffs. There is a lot of uncertainty and fear on the ground that those tariffs could come back.
There is another piece that we gave up. Everyone knows that we did not just reciprocate on the tariffs but we had that secondary list, trying to impose some pressure. We have given up that ability. We can reciprocate, but we cannot have any further tariffs on the U.S.
We have actually given up quite a bit in achieving velocities and there is no certainty for people who work across the steel sector, steel producers or steel manufacturers like Atlas Tube in my riding.
View Terry Sheehan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Terry Sheehan Profile
2019-06-11 13:45 [p.28911]
Mr. Speaker, seeing that the member is from Alberta and was talking about premiers earlier, I want to know if he would agree with what Premier Jason Kenney said on Twitter on May 17: “The removal of US tariffs from Canadian steel and aluminum products is good news for our economy. Thank you to the federal government for its successful efforts, and to the US Administration for doing the right thing.”
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
2019-06-11 13:46 [p.28911]
Mr. Speaker, it was very clear right from the first, when the tariffs were put here, that we took a very strong stand, which Jason Kenney has done. However, for the government to take credit for it is not right. As my colleague has said, all of us worked on it, including members of the trade committee, who went to the U.S. and lobbied everywhere. Let me put it this way: Irrespective, it was good for Canada.
View Colin Carrie Profile
View Colin Carrie Profile
2019-06-10 18:41 [p.28846]
Mr. Speaker, this is very disturbing. In my community, there is a big steel recycler, Gerdau Ameristeel. The minister knows how important the auto sector is, as well as certainty with regard to prices and inputs.
He talked about these illegal tariffs. The minister was at committee and we found out that the Liberals actually knew that Mr. Trump was going to be using a tariff strategy for steel and aluminum a year before he put these tariffs in place, and the current government did absolutely nothing about it, though there were things put forward.
We have talked about the importance of debate as opposed to closure. I would like to ask the minister about a certain number: $2 billion. The Liberals have collected a huge amount in tariffs from the steel and aluminum community, but they really have not disbursed very much of it. The minister is quite aware that the regional challenges in Ontario are quite different from those in British Columbia. I wonder if the minister could address the $2 billion and how the government is going to utilize that to support the areas of the country that are going to be disproportionately affected by moving forward on this bill.
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Navdeep Bains Profile
2019-06-10 18:42 [p.28846]
Mr. Speaker, I understand how important the automotive sector is. That is why our government made changes to the strategic innovation fund, which previously was the automotive innovation fund, and made it into a grant program. The objective was to make sure that industry understood very clearly that we were there to support it. Because of our programs, policies and approach to the automotive sector, we have seen more than 11,000 jobs created in the first three years of our mandate, versus 20,000 jobs lost under the Harper government before the recession even hit. That is our track record when it comes to the automotive sector, and we will continue to defend that sector.
With respect to the question about the $2 billion that the member opposite raised, clearly a significant amount has gone back toward remissions. I have also highlighted the support package that we put forward for industry through EDC, BDC and SIF. These are different programs and initiatives from Export Development Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada and the strategic innovation fund. We have deployed $700 million of that money directly to Canadian businesses right across the country. We have supported not only the large producers but also the supply chain and the small and medium-sized businesses through these efforts, and we will continue to do so. That is why we want to move ahead with this bill: to provide us with additional flexibility to protect these Canadian jobs.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-06-10 18:49 [p.28847]
Mr. Speaker, my question has to do with the interesting timing of this bill. It came forward suddenly in a big rush two weeks ago, just after the steel tariffs were lifted and the government sacrificed our ability to put strategic tariffs on the U.S. in any future deal. I have a concern because, in my riding of Sarnia—Lambton, there are very large projects that are up to seven years long and involve a lot of steel purchases. This bill would give the government the ability to interfere in the steel free market.
Would the minister admit that this is just a virtual signal to steel workers, who know that the Liberals dropped the ball on the USMCA when the tariffs were put in place and that they might be reinstalled in the future?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Navdeep Bains Profile
2019-06-10 18:49 [p.28847]
Mr. Speaker, again, I respectfully disagree with my colleague, whose assessment of the situation is inaccurate. People understand very clearly that we are there to defend workers. That is why we renegotiated a new NAFTA, a new NAFTA that provides predictability, stability and market access into the United States and into Mexico. This is exactly what businesses wanted in Sarnia. This is exactly what businesses wanted right across the country.
As well, we made an important decision with our lobbying efforts and the advocacy and the leadership of the Prime Minister to get these unjustified tariffs removed from section 232 that were imposed on our steel and aluminum sectors. It was a huge win for Canada, and that demonstrates again that this file is very important.
I strongly suggest that we can play politics on a lot of issues, but when it comes to NAFTA and the section 232 tariffs, it is a great opportunity for all of us to work on a united front. I implore all members in this House to support this legislation.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am going to be specific, and I hope the minister will provide some clarity for my constituents. I hear from businesses in my own riding that are concerned and impacted because they are importers of steel. It is a common story in western Canada, where companies are importing steel. They are not able to buy steel within Canada because they see it as cost prohibitive, or there are limits of supply or whatever their concerns are.
Also, they have concerns about some of the administration of safeguards. For example, I have heard that permit applications can essentially only happen a few days before the shipment arrives, which makes it very difficult for companies to plan in advance whether they are going to get permits. Also, I have heard of cases where the application for a permit requires them to send a fax to a number in Ontario. These are real practical difficulties that western Canadian businesses have. There is a possibility of higher costs as a result of these safeguards but also a lack of predictability.
What would the minister say to producers who have contacted me in my riding who are concerned about the impacts on their business because they rely on, and need to rely on, imported steel?
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