Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-19 21:56 [p.29445]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I think if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing or Special Order or usual practice of the House:
(a) the motion respecting the Senate Amendments to Bill C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous Languages, be deemed adopted;
(b) the motion respecting the Senate Amendments to Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, be deemed adopted;
(c) Bill C-98, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be deemed to have been concurred in at the report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed;
(d) Bill C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, be deemed to have been concurred in at the report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed on division; and
(e) when the House adjourns on Thursday, June 20, 2019, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, provided that, for the purposes of any Standing Order, it shall be deemed to have been adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28 and be deemed to have sat on Friday, June 21, 2019.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-06-10 22:16 [p.28868]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
Normally, I am even more pleased to rise in the House, but I want to point out that we are here sitting late in the session. At 10:15 in the evening, I am sure most other people are watching the Raptors game.
I want to point out that the Liberal government is rushing through a lot of legislation at the last minute. We have seen a bill today that was just introduced two weeks ago and that the government is moving closure on. The Liberals have moved closure on this bill in a big rush. They have woken up like a teenager at school and realized that the end of the session is upon them and they have not finished any of their assignments.
I am happy to be here and debate this legislation. I do not have any family or a spouse who would be an issue. However, a lot of members do have young families or spouses. We talk about this being a family-friendly Parliament. A lot of rhetoric often goes on by members on the other side, but we can see that the Liberals are using their powers as government to drive an agenda that is not family-friendly.
I would be remiss, as the shadow health minister, if I did not point out that these late sessions that go until midnight are not good from a sleep perspective. There are a number of more aged members of Parliament. It is not good for them either.
While it is worthwhile debating Bill C-88, the government should have done more careful planning so as to avoid coming to the end of the session and realizing that none of its legislation was passed.
I do not want to be accused of not being relevant tonight, so I will tell the House in advance what I am going to speak about so members will understand where I am going with this whole thing.
First, I am going to talk about what the bill would do and what it proposes to do, and then I will discuss my concerns about the bill. Then, I want to talk a bit about how the bill aligns overall to indigenous reconciliation in Canada, which is on the minds of all Canadians and I am sure is important.
Then, I will speak a bit about how the bill aligns to natural resource sector development. The natural resource sector is a huge part of Canada's GDP and our economic growth. It is an important industry, so every time we make a change to something that will impact that industry, it is important to look at how it will align to the overall plan. We have a strategy for the north. It is important to look at this bill and how it will align to our northern strategy. Does it fit in? Are there any concerns there?
The bill actually has three parts. The first part would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, from 1998, to reverse provisions that would have consolidated the Mackenzie Valley land and water boards into one.
These provisions were introduced by the former Conservative government within Bill C-15, the Northwest Territories Devolution Act. By way of history, we know that a major component of Bill C-15, where this originated, was the restructuring of the four land and water boards from the Mackenzie Valley into one. Following its passage in 2014, the Tlicho government and the Sahtu Secretariat filed lawsuits against Canada, arguing that the restructuring violated their land claim agreements.
In February 2015, the Northwest Territories Supreme Court issued an injunction preventing the board restructuring provisions from coming into force until a decision on the case was issued. The Liberals paused that legal battle shortly after forming government, and it remains an unresolved issue.
To try to consolidate the land and water boards into one seems to be, in my view, an efficiency, but again, it is important to consult and understand what the people who have the land claims are thinking.
For the government to leave it so late in the session, when there is a lawsuit that pertains to this, is troubling. When we rise from this Parliament, there will be an election, and whatever government is elected will not be able to get back to this matter in a timely way. That is unfortunate.
The second part of the bill would amend the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to allow the Governor in Council to issue orders, when in the national interest, to prohibit oil and gas activities, and it would freeze the terms of existing licences to prevent them from expiring during a moratorium. There are a lot of vague terms there. What is the national interest? How is that determined, and who determines that? I assume it is the Liberal cabinet, and I am not sure it would be necessarily unbiased in its definition. What are oil and gas activities? There is a bit of vagueness in the second part of the bill.
The third part of the bill, as we heard earlier, talks about the regulatory items that were brought forward from the previous Conservative bill, which I have heard members on the opposite side say were actually good. It is not surprising, because the Conservative government has, in the past, done a very good job with respect to regulations that have brought us forward in terms of emission reductions and a number of other items. I do not have much objection to the regulatory items. I agree the Conservative government brought them forward, and they are fine as they are.
Let me go to concerns about the bill. In addition to the litigation cycle that is hanging over this bill, I am concerned with the number of powers the government would have to politically interfere in the development of our natural resources as a result of this bill. We have seen lots of political interference by the government.
Today, I participated in a debate on Bill C-101, a bill about the government politically interfering in the steel market. We have the USMCA agreement with the U.S. and, as members know, there were tariffs on steel for nearly a year that were very punishing to our businesses. In order to get rid of those tariffs, the Liberal government traded away our ability to strategically put tariffs in place on the U.S., which, ironically, is how we got rid of the tariffs on steel in the first place.
It is troubling to me, having the knowledge that the U.S. may again put tariffs on steel, which it is not prohibited from doing under the agreement that has been signed, that the government would immediately virtue-signal to the steel industry that it is doing something. It came forward with a bill two weeks ago, with the dying days of Parliament before us, trying to rush it through in order to make it seem as though it is doing something, when, in fact, it is trying to politically interfere in the free market for steel.
That is not the first time, as I mentioned. There is a pattern of behaviour that I want to talk a bit about. We saw with Bill C-69, the no-more-pipelines bill, that this bill would hugely interfere in projects that are proposed to be built in Canada. It would give the environment minister powers to, for any reason, at any time, reset the process and start the clock again, to veto the process. That is a huge amount of power, and it causes great uncertainty. Those looking to invest and do large projects in Canada are not going to want to invest billions of dollars, knowing that at the whim of the environment minister, projects may die on the vine.
I will talk a bit about the reason the government brings these bills forward and the reaction in the indigenous community. Part of the bill would allow the government to put a moratorium on oil and gas development. I heard in some of the speeches earlier the comment that just before Christmas 2016, the Prime Minister travelled to Washington, D.C. to make an announcement with then U.S. president Barrack Obama, even though there had been no consultation with northerners, despite consistent rhetoric about consulting with Canada's indigenous peoples prior to decision-making. The Prime Minister's Office made this decision and, with 20 minutes' notice, elected leaders in Canada's north were made aware of the announcement. Some of the comments that followed from the community are probably worthy of note.
Wally Schumann, who is the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment and the Minister of Infrastructure for the Northwest Territories, said:
I guess we can be very frank because we're in front of the committee.
When it first came out, we never got very much notice on the whole issue of the moratorium and the potential that was in the Beaufort Sea. There were millions and millions, if not billions, of dollars in bid deposits and land leases up there. That took away any hope we had of developing the Beaufort Sea.
The mayor of Tuktoyaktuk, Merven Gruben, said:
I agree the Liberals should be helping us. They shut down our offshore gasification and put a moratorium right across the whole freaking Arctic without even consulting us. They never said a word to us.
The Hon. Jackie Jacobson stated:
It's so easy to sit down here and make judgments on people and lives that are 3,500 klicks away, and make decisions on our behalf, especially with that moratorium on the Beaufort. That should be taken away, lifted, please and thank you. That is going to open up and give jobs to our people—training and all the stuff we're wishing for.
Merven Gruben further said, “We're proud people who like to work for a living.” He spoke of the increasing reliance on social assistance.
Here again we see that the people who are living there are looking for that economic development they so badly need, but the current government, without any consultation whatsoever, shut it down and put a moratorium in place. Clearly, that is not acceptable.
The pattern of reversing what Conservatives have proposed or put in place is not new to this House. I would say that it has been done on a number of bills. I will pick a small sampling to back up the point.
We had a housing first program that was lifting people out of homelessness. Of the people on that program, 73% ended up going into stable housing. When the Liberal government came in, it decided it was going to have its national housing strategy, but instead of keeping something that was working, it tossed the baby out with the bathwater on that one.
I would say the same was true regarding a bill in the previous government, Bill C-24, which suggested that if people had become a Canadian citizen and gone off to fight against Canada, their citizenship would be revoked. We see that we are in a situation now with people who have been involved in terrorism trying to come back and the government is struggling to get the evidentiary proof to file charges. That would be another example.
One of the first bills the Liberals passed in this Parliament was to remove the financial transparency and accountability for the first nations people on the funding they receive.
Therefore, there is a previous pattern of behaviour of the Liberal government reversing things the Conservatives did when those things were not necessarily bad things.
With respect to the themes we are talking about today, I have expressed some concerns about the bill, but I want to talk about how this bill aligns to indigenous reconciliation, because there has been a lot of rhetoric in the current government about lining up to indigenous reconciliation and consulting with indigenous people. I would say that it is forever consulting but never listening.
If we think about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, early in the mandate of the government it unanimously adopted all 94, and where has the action on those gone? Crickets.
We have seen the mess of the inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women has been, with the number of people who have resigned en route and the fact that many indigenous people feel they were not allowed to participate. Here we are four years down the road, with $98 million or something like that having been spent, and no action.
Many indigenous people felt the tanker ban, Bill C-48, would be bad for them, especially those who were trying to get the Eagle Spirit pipeline built. They were saying this was going to deprive them of an opportunity to have the kind of economic development they need, the same kind of economic opportunity that we see in Bill C-88, which the people there are looking for. Now we have this moratorium on the Beaufort Sea.
Another issue we need to consider when looking at Bill C-88 is how it fits into our northern strategy. If we think about the needs of people who are living in the north, we know there are a number of issues. We know that there is a food insecurity issue in the north. Will this help with that issue? When the government is depriving people of economic development, I am not sure that it is helping that situation.
In terms of the broadband problem, the government has had four years to address the issue. I know I have an inventor in my riding, and I put ideas forward to the innovation minister that for less than $20 million, I have somebody who knows how to put that kind of broadband Internet access across the north, with satellite balloons that are solar powered, incidentally, but to no avail.
The health care in the north has huge issues, from dental hygiene to tuberculosis and just even access to care. There are those things and the sovereignty issues. We have sovereignty in the north, but we have Russia and China really starting to pay a lot of attention to that area. We need to have a plan for how we are going to defend that area, along with the natural resources that are there and what we need to do to protect those. I do not see any plan or any discussion about how this fits into that northern strategy. I think that is something that needs to be looked at.
Another thing that is really affecting the northern area is climate change. We are seeing a thawing of the permafrost. As an engineer who used to work in construction, I am paying close attention to some of the horrendous things that are happening, in terms of roads that are developing huge crevices as the permafrost shifts and buildings that are collapsing after months of construction because the foundations are no longer solid. There really does not seem to be a strategy for how we are going to make sure that, in the north, we are setting them up for success, that we are protecting the assets that are in place. These are places where, if people cannot get to them, any hope of economic development would be lost. There is something to be done there.
Many times this week we have heard that the government has a tax plan, not a climate plan. This is just one more thing that I would add to what needs to be part of a comprehensive climate plan, how we are going to address the results that we see as the climate shifts.
As we look to this bill, in the dying days of the 42nd Parliament, it looks to me, again, like something that may not even make it through in the remaining days that we have, and it may not have a good chance of being implemented. Certainly, with all of the things the government promised to do but never did, I reflect on the 42nd Parliament and I think, “What did the government really do?” The Canada child benefit and the legalization of marijuana, I will give it those two. Other than that, I am not really sure what has been accomplished.
As we look to the summary of Bill C-88, we have talked about what the bill does, some of the concerns of the political interference that exists and how people are not being listened to in the north. People want this economic development, and the government now has the power to shut them down and is using that power.
I do not think the actions being taken by the government align well with the overall theme of indigenous reconciliation. I feel this will be more fanning of the flame, when people in the north want this economic development and the government is standing in the way or is interfering in the ability of the people to support themselves. That will not go over well.
I also think it is part of a bigger rhetoric on the natural resources sector. We know that the carbon tax has been a huge problem for small businesses. In my riding I have a lot of refineries. Now the government has exempted all the large emitters, 90%, from the carbon tax, but it has also put on a clean fuel tax, which is costing billions of dollars. One refinery in my riding has just gone up for sale, and another one has said that if it does not get an exemption from those clean fuel taxes, it may be unsustainable as well.
The government has a clean pattern of undermining the natural resources sector. We know that it has killed all kinds of natural resource projects: energy east, the northern gateway, the Petronas LNG and, of course, the Trans Mountain pipeline has gone absolutely nowhere.
Until the government can come with a clear message about the natural resources plan and support for that plan, and support for people in the north who want that economic development and are looking for the government to support them and not interfere, then I think that Bill C-88 is not going to go a long way in achieving what is hoped.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-02-08 10:05 [p.25439]
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
She said: Mr. Speaker, today I rise on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of International Trade Diversification, to speak to Bill C-85. The bill calls on the government to take all necessary legislative steps to ratify the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA, something I encourage all members to support.
CIFTA is now a modern, forward-looking trade agreement that would better serve the sophisticated Canada-Israel trade relationship, while providing a framework to ensure the benefits of trade are more widely shared. Our government has said from day one that trade and open markets are vital for Canada's economic prosperity. Canada is a trading nation. We know that increased trade creates more and better-paying jobs. In fact, Canada is one of the most open G7 countries, rating second for trade and first for foreign direct investment as shares of GDP. Canadian exports of goods and services were equivalent to just over one-third of our GDP.
On trade diversification, the government is pursuing an ambitious trade diversification agenda, one that will make Canada the most globally connected economy in the world. Allow me to provide a few examples of this.
In October, Canada ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, with a speed reflecting the importance of this deal to farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and workers in all industries across Canada. This historic trade agreement came into force on December 30, 2018, and now Canadian businesses will have preferential access to over 500 million consumers, resulting in long-term gains for Canada in excess of $4.2 billion.
In September, we marked the one-year milestone of provisional application of the trade agreement with the European Union, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA. In this past year, Canadians added $1.6 billion in increased export to Europe and saw a 20% growth in container traffic at the Port of Montreal. We can just imagine the opportunities for Montrealers, Quebeckers and Canadians once this agreement is also passed.
We are also updating existing trade agreements with important partners to better match the realities of the 21st-century economy. We have a new agreement with Ukraine in place since 2017 and on Tuesday, a modernized and inclusive agreement with Chile came into force. The Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement distinguishes Canada as the first G20 country to adopt a gender chapter in a free trade agreement.
We are modernizing the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement in the legislation before us today to enhance our relationship with this historical ally.
Finally, the government is actively pursuing opportunities in other important and fast-growing markets and making inroads. Canada is in FTA negotiations with its partners in the Americas, namely the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur, and is exploring possible FTA negotiations with ASEAN. Taken together, Canada has 14 FTAs in force covering 51 countries, connecting our businesses to 1.5 billion of the world's consumers.
While market access is vital, it alone does not create jobs and prosperity for Canadians. Our businesses need the right tools to actively pursue international opportunities, especially in markets covered by our trade agreements. That is why the fall economic statement proposed an export diversification strategy to grow Canada's overseas exports by 50% by 2025, with more assistance for small and medium-sized businesses to help them explore new export opportunities.
The trade diversification strategy will focus on three key priorities: first, investing in infrastructure to support trade; second, providing Canadian businesses with the resources to execute their export plans; and finally, enhancing trade services for Canadian exporters. We know that when we diversify our markets abroad we create well-paying jobs at home for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
Our efforts signal to the world that trade matters, that rules matter and that we will not be drawn into a world of protectionism. We firmly believe our international trade relationships are mutually beneficial. This is demonstrated in the modernized CIFTA, the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement before us today.
Since CIFTA first came into force over two decades ago, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Israel has more than tripled, totalling $1.7 billion last year. This is a testament to how FTAs help advance trade, yet there is room to grow and deepen the commercial relationship. Israel's economy has significant potential and offers diverse commercial opportunities for Canadian businesses given its well-educated population, solid industrial and scientific base and productive natural resource sectors, in particular agriculture and agri-tech.
By providing expanded market access and more predictable trading conditions, the modernized CIFTA would enable Canadian companies to take meaningful advantage of these opportunities. That is why Bill C-85 before us today is so important. Allow me to elaborate further on this point by turning to how this tangibly translates into real benefits for Canadian businesses.
Canada and Israel agreed in 2014 to modernize CIFTA, which, at the time, was a goods-only trade agreement. The result of those negotiations is an agreement that updates four of the original chapters, including dispute settlement to bring CIFTA up to the standard of a more recent trade agreement. It adds nine new chapters, including intellectual property and e-commerce. We have negotiated rules that are designed to help address non-tariff barriers, contribute to facilitating trade and reduce some of the costs to companies for doing business.
We also have improved the terms of market access for Canadian companies. Once enforced, close to 100% of all current Canadian agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports to Israel will benefit from some form of preferential tariff treatment, up from the current level of 90%. Meaningful market access for Canada's agriculture and agri-food processors was a key interest in these negotiations and the government delivered, including unlimited duty-free access on sweetened and dried cranberries, baked goods and pet food.
These important tariff outcomes for the agriculture and agri-food sector place Canada on a more level playing field with exporters from the United States and the European Union, which are our key competitors in this sector. They also give Canadian companies a leg-up on competitors in other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with Israel. In exchange, Canada agreed to eliminate tariffs on certain targeted Israeli agriculture and agri-food imports, such as certain fish and nuts, some tropical fruit and certain oils.
I want to reassure all hon. members and all Canadians that a modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, like its predecessor, fully respects Canada's supply management system. I am pleased that the negotiated outcome has the support of key Canadian agriculture stakeholders, including Pulse Canada, the Canola Council of Canada, the Canadian Vintners Association and companies including the processing of potatoes, cranberries, soybeans and pet food. These are only a few of the opportunities the modernized CIFTA provides.
I would like to now speak to an important aspect of the government's trade agenda that aims to ensure these opportunities are more widely shared among Canadians.
An important aspect of the modernized CIFTA is its forward-looking framework that includes new chapters on trade and gender, small and medium-sized enterprises, labour and environment, as well as a new provision on corporate social responsibility. This modernized agreement also provides institutional mechanisms to monitor or address human rights-related matters in the context of the trade agreement, including references and provisions relating to workers' rights and working conditions, responsible business conduct, transparency and anti-corruption. In this regard, this modernized agreement is a new forward-thinking partnership that reflects who we are as vibrant, diverse, open and democratic societies and as in the original CIFTA, just as with all Canada's FTAs, this modernized CIFTA can be terminated by either party unilaterally at any time for any reason.
Some inclusive trade highlights are the new chapters on trade and gender and on small and medium-sized enterprises. Both provide a framework for parties to work together to help ensure women and small and medium-sized enterprises can more fully benefit from the opportunities created by this modernized CIFTA. Each chapter establishes a bilateral committee to oversee activities, including co-operation and promotion activities that provide information and enhance the ability of women and small and medium-sized enterprises to benefit from the opportunities created by this modernized CIFTA.
The new gender chapter acknowledges the importance of incorporating a gender perspective in economic and trade issues to ensure that economic growth can benefit everyone. This chapter has it. This chapter builds on the work accomplished in Canada's first gender chapter, which was negotiated through the modernized Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement. Only the third chapter of its kind, it is also the first such chapter negotiated by Israel. CIFTA's gender chapter, for the first time ever, will include a measure of enforceability through dispute resolution.
The new corporate social responsibility article affirms Canada and Israel's commitment to encourage the use of voluntary CSR standards by enterprises, with specific reference to the government-backed OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, to which Israel and Canada are both parties.
The modernized agreement contains a new chapter on labour that commits both parties to enforce their laws in this area, which must respect the International Labour Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The new labour chapter provides protections for occupational health and safety, acceptable minimum employment standards and non-discrimination for migrant workers.
Allow me to draw to the attention of all hon. members that the successful negotiation of a high-quality labour chapter with Israel was a significant step in modernizing CIFTA. It is the first such chapter negotiated by Israel in a free trade agreement. The United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement does not include labour provisions. The EU-Israel association agreement, the legal basis for EU trade relations with Israel, makes only a few references to labour, with no enforceable obligations.
The modernized CIFTA is also the first time Israel has negotiated a chapter on the environment in a free trade agreement. The new environment chapter contains robust commitments, including to maintain high levels of environmental protection as we intensify our trade relationship. Importantly, both Canada and Israel commit to not lowering our levels of protection in order to attract trade or investment.
Our two countries, Canada and Israel, have a deep history. Canada's strong friendship and partnership with Israel spans more than 70 years and stretches back even further to the arrival of the earliest Jewish settlers in Canada more than 250 years ago, the first of successive waves of immigrants who would leave lasting and indelible impressions on the fabric of our Canadian society, economy and political landscape.
Today there are more than 350,000 Canadians of Jewish faith and heritage in Canada who are an important source of information and support in the political and commercial spheres for both Canada and Israel. There are also approximately 20,000 Canadians currently living and working in Israel. The Minister of International Trade Diversification had the opportunity to meet with some of these individuals during his visit to Israel last year.
For those in the House today who may not know, Israel has a long-standing reputation for technological prowess and a well-developed scientific and educational base. We know this very well in the riding of Waterloo. We see room to expand and build partnerships in these sectors and in many other areas.
When our Minister of International Trade Diversification was in Tel Aviv last September, he announced a pilot program to facilitate new cybersecurity solutions for the energy sector that will consider Israeli options to address the needs of Canadian natural gas delivery companies.
There are also great prospects for forging increased partnerships in the areas of joint research and development. Canadian and Israeli firms have joined forces to develop an ultraviolet water monitoring system that would ensure the safety of drinking water, and there are even more possibilities on the horizon that will change countless lives in communities around the world. Our government firmly believes that these kinds of global partnerships are needed now more than ever.
In conclusion, Canada represents just 0.5% of the world's population, but we account for five times more in global trade. Our continued competitiveness depends on businesses, including small and medium enterprises, pursuing trade opportunities and that we support them in doing so.
Successful trade provides for good employment opportunities. With one in six Canadian jobs linked directly to exports, our government is deeply committed to growing trade and expanding opportunities for all Canadians.
I therefore urge all hon. members to support Bill C-85 to enable Canada to do its part to bring the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement into force on a timely basis and to support Canadian companies as they seek to benefit from the opportunities it offers.
This legislation should be passed today so that the Senate can also do its due diligence. I thank members for their work in helping this legislation move forward rapidly.
View David Sweet Profile
View David Sweet Profile
2019-02-08 10:30 [p.25443]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-85. It is a great honour to speak in this brand new chamber for the first time. As always, I am grateful for the opportunity.
At the outset, let me begin by thanking the Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, for his hospitality and outstanding efforts in encouraging all members of the Knesset to get involved in building relationships with other nations, particularly Canada. I know my colleague from Eglinton—Lawrence will agree that Speaker Edelstein exemplifies statesmanship in our time. He is also a man who has endured unbelievable hardship, suffering in the gulags in the U.S.S.R. as one of the last refuseniks.
Canada and Israel are the greatest of friends and the most natural of allies. Since its founding in 1948, Canada supported Israel in its right to live in peace and security in one of the least stable regions of the world.
There may be no better friend to Canada than Israel, with which we are bound together by a shared belief in freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. This renewed agreement is not only another step forward for Canada and Israel economically, but also with respect to our ever-important diplomatic alliance and personal friendships.
It was in May 1961, under Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, that Canadians first warmly welcomed Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to our country. It is fitting that in 2014 another Conservative prime minister was the first Canadian to be invited to speak at a session in the Knesset.
In that speech, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper emphasized the fundamental relationship that was so important. He stated, “Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so. This is a very Canadian trait, to do something for no reason other than it is right even when no immediate reward for, or threat to, ourselves is evident.”
Canadians are proud to do what is right, regardless of reward or threat, because that is the Canadian thing to do. That is why our Conservative government sought to actively support the people of Israel and the Jewish diaspora domestically and in the international arena. Indeed, from 2006 to 2015, the Canada-Israel relationship grew stronger than ever.
In November 2010, Canada hosted, in Ottawa, the conference on combatting anti-Semitism, which was an important international discussion, with representatives from over 50 countries, on addressing rising anti-Semitism in the world. Part of that discussion on anti-Semitism includes ensuring that we do our part to ensure that the atrocities that were committed against Jewish people during the Holocaust are never forgotten.
Our government pushed forward on fighting anti-Semitism and educating Canadians about the horrors that the international Jewish community had faced. We partnered with B'nai Brith to develop the national task force on holocaust research, remembrance and education.
It was former Conservative member Tim Uppal who brought forward the National Holocaust Monument Act as a reminder to Canadians and all those who visit our capital.
However, as the House acknowledged last year, Canada is not innocent when it comes to anti-Semitism. The MS St. Louis remains a dark chapter in our history, when Jewish refugees arrived in Canada after being turned away in Cuba, the United States and South America. We turned them back to Europe, many to face their death in Nazi concentration camps. As far as the Government of Canada at the time was concerned, none was too many.
In January 2011, alongside the Canadian Jewish Congress, former minister of immigration, Jason Kenney, revealed the Wheel of Conscience at Pier 21 in Halifax to commemorate the tragic journey of the St. Louis. The Wheel of Conscience serves to remind Canadians of the underlying attitudes that led to the St. Louis being turned away. The polished stainless steel wheel incorporates four interlocking gears, each bearing a word to represent factors of exclusion: anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism and hatred. The back of the wheel bears the passenger list of the St. Louis, including the names of those who died at the hands of the Nazis upon their return to Europe.
Let that monument be a reminder of how far we have come. Truly, as a country, we have gone from darkness to light, thankfully.
The tragic events surrounding the St. Louis are just one reminder of how important it is for Canada to work with Israel to support the Jewish people's homeland and ensure it remains a vibrant and prosperous country that lives in peace with its neighbours, and, just as important, how important education and dialogue are to ensuring the horrific events of the Holocaust never happen again.
However, supporting the Jewish community means much more than recognizing the failures of the past. It also means moving forward in a way that supports its right to self-determination and to its homeland, and our government made landmark steps towards ensuring that the Jewish state would be able to continue to find prosperity and provide a safe home for its people in an increasingly complicated and dangerous world.
In 2009, our government cut funding to UNRWA, whose ties to Hamas and anti-Israel activities that threatened the lives Israelis and Palestinians alike were unacceptable.
In 2012, our Conservative government signed a new agreement on energy co-operation with Israel that advanced the interests of Canada's energy sector. This agreement also increased collaboration on renewable energy and improving practices for responsible development and reducing environmental impacts.
In 2014, our Conservative government signed the Canada-Israel Memorandum of Understanding, which laid the groundwork for greater economic and diplomatic co-operation to ensure new levels of growth, prosperity and security for our two countries. This framework, which was laid out in 2014, led to a new Canada-Israel air transport agreement to the benefit of Canadians and Israelis alike. It also, of course, led to this modernized free trade agreement that sits before us today, an agreement that was negotiated almost entirely by our Conservative government.
In January, 2014, our government and the Israel government agreed to a partnership to help launch the grand challenges Israel initiative, which promoted global health innovation and fostered scientific and technological innovations to solve health problems in a developing world.
In June, 2015, we announced the Canada-Israel health research initiative to fund up to 30 research projects with a focus on neurosciences and neurological disease.
In January that same year, our government signed the Canada-Israel Joint Declaration of Solidarity and Friendship to outline the path forward for our two countries. Canada committed to supporting Israel's right to live in peace with its neighbours, and we committed to fight any international efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel, and we kept our promise.
Time and again, our previous Conservative government stood up for the right of Israel to exist and to defend itself. While tyrannical regimes in Iran, Syria and other countries sought to delegitimize and dismantle the state, the international community repeatedly sought to unfairly single out Israel as well. Our government rejected what could only be described as targeting of the Jewish state.
Ultimately, if we wish to be a country that promotes democracy, human rights, innovation, freedom, those values that are so important to us as Canadians, then we must continue to forge closer ties with and support nations that embody those same values. This free trade agreement is a significant step forward in continuing our support for our friends in Israel and in promoting those values we share.
We cannot risk abstaining from votes at the United Nations either. These votes unfairly single out and target Israel. Motions from any country in any form that seek solely to undermine Israel's legitimacy and ignore the atrocities being committed by other countries cannot go ignored and must be challenged.
I have been involved in Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Friendship Group since I was first elected to this place. I served as the chair from 2011 to 2015, and I continue to be an active participant in the ongoing dialogue between our Parliament and the Knesset as a vice-chair.
In our many meetings, we have heard and discussed the important role that Canada has played internationally and how much our allies appreciate our efforts, but also how important it is for Canada to remain vigilant.
I have also been fortunate enough to travel to Israel on several occasions, including with former Prime Minister Harper, former Governor General David Johnston, with parliamentary delegations and on personal voyages. Across all of those journeys, it is the people of Israel throughout history; from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who travelled from Ur, the Chaldeans, which is now today's Iraq, and came to the promised land; to Joseph, who saved Israel by going to Egypt and ensuring the famine did not consume his brothers and his father; to Moses, who led Israelis into freedom from their bondage of slavery; to Joshua, King David, the prophets; to the Maccabees, and we celebrate Hanukkah today because the Maccabees were proud enough and strong enough to take back the temple that was being desecrated; to those who kept the Jewish flame alive throughout the years of anti-Semitism; to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust; to David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir; and to the Israelis today that has remained resilient against all odds and hardship. This amazes me the most.
I would like to highlight one more quote from Prime Minister Harper's address at the Knesset. He spoke about the story of Israel:
It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society. A vibrant democracy. A freedom-loving country with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary. An innovative, world-leading “start-up” nation.
If that is not the kind of country we want to grow our ties with, a country that believes in the rule of law and human rights, a country that is innovative, a country that serves as the only stable democracy in the region, then I do not know what country we should align ourselves with.
However, we also must address the domestic impacts of this agreement.
In light of the ongoing trade disputes with the United States, the potential fallout from China during this extradition dispute and the uncertainty in the European Union with Brexit, Canada must continue to look for new opportunities to get our goods to foreign markets.
Our caucus supports free trade. We are a party of free trade. We support a more competitive and prosperous Canada. Free trade is crucial to promoting competitiveness at home and getting Canadian goods to foreign markets.
Being the representative from a region that has been hit particularly hard by steel tariffs put in place by the American administration, I have heard from so many about the need to diversify our trading practices, and this renewed Canada-Israel agreement is a good start.
Between 2006 and 2015, our Conservative government secured access to over 50 countries, and this renewal imitative with Israel was a Conservative one that the government launched in 2014.
Our government negotiated the vast majority of this deal. I would like to thank the hon. member for Abbotsford, who worked tirelessly to finalize not only this agreement, but also the trans-Pacific partnership and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union, as well as the various other agreements that he was largely responsible for.
Our Conservative government negotiated an updated dispute settlement mechanism, which brought in new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and transparency. It was our government that negotiated reduced tariffs and new market access for Canadian goods, including agricultural and seafood products. We negotiated a new chapter on the environment to ensure that both countries pursued greater environmental protection alongside more liberalized trade.
New electronic commerce and intellectual property chapters, again negotiated by our Conservative government, commit both countries to not introduce barriers to commerce and to protect intellectual property rights.
New standards for food safety protect the health of Canadians and our food supply, while new labour standards ensure international norms are respected and workers in both countries are treated fairly.
Finally, initiatives to reduce red tape and barriers to trade will empower Canadian businesses to grow in Israel and for Canadians to benefit from greater access to Israeli goods.
Obviously our side is glad to see this important legislation, which we negotiated, finally coming through the House so it can be implemented, but quite frankly, it has taken too long for the Liberals to finally wake up and begin reacting to the many threats that our country faces.
As I have already said, free trade is an important aspect of ensuring our international competitiveness, but the Liberals are still forcing reckless and anti-competitive taxes and regulation down the throats of Canadians.
Under the Liberals, small businesses, which the Prime Minister believes are tax cheats, have seen their taxes go up and up, and the Prime Minister's new carbon tax is making it even harder for Canadian businesses to compete internationally against competitors in countries where the governments want to see their economy and their businesses grow and thrive.
Ultimately though, despite the poor economic path that the Prime Minister and the finance minister are taking us down, implementing this trade agreement, a final remnant of our Conservative government, will be an important and helpful step for both Canada and Israel.
I look forward to voting in favour of Bill C-85 and continuing to support a strong economic relationship with Canada and Israel.
I must reiterate that this trade agreement is so much more than an economic arrangement. This agreement is particularly important at this time when a new wave of anti-Semitism, weakly disguised under the veil of a supposed legitimate criticism of Israel, is emerging in Canada and across the world.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, as well as the so-called Israeli Apartheid Week, are based at their very core in anti-Semitic and racist undertones that seek to do nothing more than spark hatred against Jews in their homeland. I have seen this locally in the city of Hamilton, on the campuses at McMaster University, and it is very troubling.
This agreement is a statement by the Parliament of Canada that in this time of rising anti-Semitism, Canadians will not tolerate the actions of groups that promote hate and prejudice. It is one more denouncement of the efforts of those who seek to undermine our allies and their citizens. It is a rejection of the terror that groups like Hamas and Hezbollah seek to instill in the Jewish people and it is repudiation of the tyrannical regimes that finance them. It is a rejection of the efforts of those on the West Bank that would litter children's curricula in schools with hatred towards Jews. It is an indictment against those who would name soccer fields and recreational centres after terrorists and suicide bombers.
Most importantly, it is a declaration of the bond between the Canadian and Israeli peoples, the friendship that has done so much for our countries.
Finally, in Solomon's Book of Wisdom, in the book of Proverbs, at 17:17 it says, “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.”
To my friends in Israel and the diaspora here in Canada, through fire and water we will stand together.
View David Sweet Profile
View David Sweet Profile
2019-02-08 10:55 [p.25446]
Mr. Speaker, to have a delay of this many years when most of the heavy lifting was already done is appalling, particularly when we have so much instability with our trading partners.
Let me touch on something domestically, since my colleague has opened this up. We continue to have these steel tariffs in place. My concern with the Liberal government presently is that it does not understand the magnitude of the effect. It has given some funding to steel mills, which is great. In fact, one of them is ArcelorMittal Dofasco in Hamilton. However, what it does not understand is the downstream effect this is having.
I will tell a story of a medium-sized business, whose owner came into my office. He had spent $60 million on an expansion just two years previously to be able to service his American clients. When he came into my office, the tariffs had lasted so long that he had actually had to cut his business to the United States. He had already paid over $2 million in tariffs and could not sustain that expense.
If there are any business people on the other side of the bench, they will know that once a business has lost a customer, it is hard as heck to get that customer back. This is the kind of thing the Liberal government continues to put in the way of our businesses, and it needs to take the removal of these tariffs seriously and work with the American administration to get them removed.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for St. John's East.
I am very proud to stand for the first time officially to give a speech in this new chamber. It is remarkable to see what the engineers and all the other people who have contributed to this success have been able to achieve.
I am proud to speak to C-85, an act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. This is not a new trade deal. This trade deal has existed for 20 years, and it has been very successful. We have seen trade revenues triple through this deal. They are now at $1.7 billion.
That trade deal was focused only on goods being traded. We were able to upgrade it back in 2017. It was agreed that we should modernize it and add chapters to it. That is what we did, and we signed off on it in 2018.
The updated pieces are extremely important. One is on dispute resolution. As members know, it is important that when two or more trading partners move forward on a trade deal, if there are any disputes, we need to have a process in place to ensure that we can find solutions and continue to trade. This is what we were able to add as an updated piece.
We also were able to eliminate or reduce heavily the tariffs on products and increase the number of products in this deal. The rules of origin in the supply chain are quite complex, but we were able to make some headway in that area as well, which is very important.
One new chapter is about e-commerce. I do not know if anyone in this chamber remembers much about online 20 years ago, but there were not too many people doing anything online then. Young people are probably not really aware of that as much as we are. However, 20 years ago, there was no online chapter, of course, and it is an important one for us.
The second one is on intellectual property, which is another very important piece. When we do research and development, we want companies to invest, and we want to make sure that those investments are going to continue. For that to happen, we have to have policies and copyrights that are guaranteed. That is an added piece.
We also added pieces on the protection of the environment, which is extremely important to our government. Two more chapters on labour law were also added.
The pieces I want to touch on the most are the progressive elements in this trade deal, such as gender equality. We have been talking about this in our trade deals for the last two years. Just bringing the perspective of a woman to decision-making at that level is very important, and we need to have more of it. This deal allows it to happen not just in Canada but in Israel as well. We know that this will also help the workforce, because we do not have enough people to fill all the jobs that are required as we continue to prosper.
With regard to small and medium-sized enterprises, when we talk about trade deals, we are often thinking about the big companies trading internationally or globally. What we have done here is recognize the importance of supporting small and medium-sized enterprises so that they can be big players in this trade deal as well. We have been able to achieve that.
We have also been able to move on corporate social responsibility. I know that some people have criticized that as being voluntary, but it brings people to the table. Then we can start to really have some good discussions to make things better. Having good corporate citizens is extremely important.
I have to speak about all these trade deals that our government has been able to accomplish. I listen to the Conservatives and they talk about having worked on such and such a trade deal, but they did not get the job done. We have enhanced and improved them, we got the job done and we are delivering. That is what is important.
We need to keep in mind that Canada is a trading nation. Sixty per cent of our GDP comes from trade, so we need to trade. If we look at CETA, which we signed over a year ago, it is very impressive. We have access now to half a billion people more. We have already seen an increase in the first year of 3.1%, which represents over $1 billion extra. That is important. Ninety-eight per cent of tariffs are off the products going across borders. It was 25% before and now it is 98% plus. It is almost 100%, and some are 100%. It is very impressive as well.
We have seen the elimination of tariffs in certain areas, of course in Nova Scotia, on food and seafood and many other industries, including agriculture. Those are very important industries for Nova Scotia and for Canada.
Let us talk about another half a billion people being added with our deal on CPTPP with Asia. It is a new market, adding potential products leaving Canada and going to those 11 countries in all. The sectors include fisheries, forestry, agriculture, metal, etc.
Is there a theme here? Absolutely. It is a major theme because all these negotiations are for new agreements, which are putting Canada in another place internationally. It is extremely important. We are punching well over our weight and it is because of this progressive government. It is because of how we negotiate, which is extremely important. I will talk about negotiation in the very near future.
We are the only country that has trade agreements with all seven G7 nations. As well, we are the only country that has a free trade deal with the Americas, Europe and Asia. Therefore, we are doing extremely well.
What is important is what we do with those trade deals. It is the responsibility of all of us, the 338 members here, to ensure our business community and our people are well aware of these opportunities. We need to communicate those, which is why I have sent a letter to all 1,200 businesses in my riding. I have started communication on how I can help them to scale up. Let us work together to make it better.
Let us talk the new NAFTA that Canada has signed, and is a great agreement. We have some added features, for example, lower duties for online shopping. We have strengthened labour rights, which is very important. We have protected against possible auto tariffs, a Canada exemption.
I want to talk about Trump. Everybody says that Trump is a pretty good negotiator. I do not think he is a very good negotiator nor do Canadians. There are three big reasons why.
First, he said that there would be no deal unless there was a sunset clause, to renegotiate in five years or it was dead. We said that this was not going to happen, that we would never sign that deal. Guess what. He did.
Then he said that he would not have any deal while supply management was in place. The U.S. wanted to flood the Canadian market. We said absolutely not, no trade deals without it. Guess what. There were no trade deals again.
Finally, he was tweeting out, no trade deal unless we changed the dispute settlement, unless we traded the dispute resolution. Why? Because he lost every time we went to dispute settlement. He wanted the Americans to control the tribunal. Did he win? No, he did not. Did we win? Yes, we did.
Therefore, Canada actually got the best deal, with the Liberal Party. That is the difference between our party and the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party, from the time we started talking about the trade deal last year, was saying not to worry about it, to sign it. The Conservatives said that they had prepared it and we should sign it. We do not sign what is not good. We are there to ensure every Canadian will benefit from this, that the middle class will benefit from this. I am very happy with this agreement.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2019-02-08 12:55 [p.25467]
Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to speak today on the motion before the House. It calls on the government to take the necessary legislative steps to ratify the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA. I encourage the entire House to support it.
CIFTA is now a modern, forward-looking trade agreement that will better serve the sophisticated Canada-Israel trade relationship, while seeking to ensure that benefits are more widely shared by both Canadians and Israelis.
Our government has said from day one that trade and open markets are vital for Canada's economic prosperity. Earlier, the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook elaborated on that. Canada is a trading nation, and we know that increased trade means more and better-paying jobs for Canadians.
Why modernize CIFTA if we have already been doing so well? Canada and Israel already enjoy a rich and fruitful commercial relationship. Since CIFTA came into force over two decades ago, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Israel has more than tripled, totalling $1.7 billion last year. However, as there was room to grow and deepen the commercial relationship, we made changes.
Israel's economy has significant potential and offers diverse commercial opportunities for Canadian businesses, given its well-educated population, solid industrial and scientific base and productive natural resources sectors. By providing expanded market access and more predictable trading conditions, the modernized CIFTA will enable Canadian companies to take meaningful advantage of these opportunities. This is why Bill C-85 is so important.
Israel is a good partner in trade, and we should capitalize on these additional opportunities for business. I will elaborate further on this point by turning to how this agreement will tangibly translate into real benefits for Canadian businesses.
Once the agreement is in force, close to 100% of all current Canadian agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports to Israel will benefit from some form of preferential tariff treatment. This is up from the current level of 90%. That is great for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the fishery, and also for people in the agri-food sector. This will generate benefits for Canadian companies in areas such as agriculture and agri-food, including products such as cranberries, baked goods, pet food, wine, fruit and fish and seafood.
Meaningful market access for Canadian agriculture and agri-food processors was a key interest in these negotiations, and the Government of Canada delivered by obtaining unlimited duty-free access for sweetened and dried cranberries, which currently have a 12% tariff; baked goods, which are currently tariffed up to 8%; and pet food, which currently has a tariff of 4%. These important tariff outcomes for the agriculture and agri-food sector place Canada on a more level playing field with exporters from the United States and the European Union, which are key competitors in this sector as we try to build our trading relationship with Israel.
This agreement will also give Canadian companies a leg up on competitors in other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with Israel. In exchange, Canada agreed to eliminate tariffs on certain targeted Israeli agriculture and agri-food imports, such as certain fish, certain nuts, some tropical fruits and certain oils.
I am pleased that the negotiated outcome has the support of key Canadian agricultural stakeholders, including Pulse Canada, the Canola Council of Canada, the Canadian Vintners Association and companies involved in the processing of potatoes, cranberries, soybeans and pet food. I am sure my colleagues from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick will appreciate that as well.
In Newfoundland, there is a little-known winery in Whitbourne called Rodrigues Winery. It is in area of the province that is shared by the member for Avalon and the member for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity. There, kosher-certified berry wines are produced, and they appear on shelves in Israel. Agreements like these benefit companies like Rodrigues Winery by providing access to the market in Israel and by keeping the trade relationship between our countries strong.
This modernized agreement and the benefits it provides will be an important tool for a sector that makes a tremendous contribution to the Canadian economy from coast to coast. Successful trade provides for good employment opportunities, and with one in six Canadian jobs linked directly to exports, we are deeply committed to growing trade with this nation and expanding the pie for all Canadians.
Interestingly, for online retailers and service providers, including those in my riding, such as Eclipse Stores, the agreement also includes commitments by Canada and Israel not to levy customs duties or other charges on digital products that are transmitted electronically.
When I first saw this note, I had some concerns about the relevant paragraphs, so I sought some advice from the department regarding what this meant and how it might affect the playing field between local and foreign retailers. I was assured that paragraph 2 in article 9.2 outlines that the moratorium on customs duties applied to digital products transmitted electronically does not preclude a party from imposing internal taxes or other internal charges, such as value-added taxes. I know that is important to some of my constituents.
These are a few opportunities that the modernized CIFTA would provide.
I would like to speak on some of the more important aspects of the government's trade agenda, which aims to ensure that these opportunities are more widely shared among Canadians. This is our inclusive trade partnership agenda.
A priority for this government is our inclusive approach to trade. Simply put, we believe that everyone should benefit from and participate in the opportunities that come from increased trade and investment. We demonstrated that with the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union and with the CPTPP, and we are also demonstrating it with this modernized agreement.
The modernized CIFTA incorporates several key inclusive trade elements. These features will help to ensure that economic gains complement important Canadian values and priorities, such as support for environmental protection and labour rights.
I appreciate some of the comments from members on the other side of the House from the New Democratic Party, who raised some issues about extending these benefits further. However, I believe we strike a good negotiated solution in the Canada-Israel relationship.
These trade elements also help to ensure everyone benefits from and can participate in the opportunities that flow from the agreement. The addition of these inclusive and forward-thinking trade elements signals a commitment from both Canada and Israel to create the right conditions for trade in our modern economies.
There are also additional resources for business. In order for the benefits of free trade agreements to be fully realized, Canadian businesses need to be aware of the agreements and the benefits they offer. Accordingly, the Prime Minister of Canada has mandated the Minister of International Trade Diversification to provide support to Canadian businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that flow after trade agreements are signed, including by drawing on resources from across government and from public and private sector partners. In this regard, Global Affairs Canada has mobilized a free trade agreement promotion task force that is undertaking a comprehensive outreach and training program within the business community. Work on these leading agreements is scheduled to take place across Canada in early 2019 so that the task force can focus on the CETA with the European Union, the CPTPP and the implementing legislation that is currently before Parliament.
In addition, Canadian companies can access the free services and export advice provided by the trade commissioner service, the TCS. The TCS helps Canadian companies export by preparing businesses for international markets. I encourage all members of Parliament to encourage businesses that are exporting to take advantage of this service.
Online resources, such as the step-by-step guide to exporting, have also been developed to ensure that Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises from across the country can benefit.
In conclusion, trade is, at the end of the day, about the relationships between people, the opportunity to share in our common prosperity and to work together to create larger, more interesting markets. Canada's strong friendship and partnership with Israel spans 70 years and stretches back even farther, 250 years, to the arrival of the first Jewish settlers to Canada, the first of successive waves of immigrants who would leave lasting and indelible impressions on the fabric of our Canadian society, economy and political landscape.
Today there are more than 350,000 Canadians of Jewish faith and heritage in Canada. They are an important source of information and support in the political and commercial spheres for both Canada and Israel, and they are also good friends. There are also approximately 20,000 Canadians currently living and working in Israel. Such deep ties are important for many reasons. Strong trade relationships depend on people-to-people relationships, which Canada and Israel have in abundance, and they also create peace.
In St. John's East, I grew up just five doors down from our synagogue. People might not realize St. John's has a synagogue, but it does. It once had a very strong and thriving Jewish community, and now it has a strong but smaller one, since, like many other Newfoundlanders, many people have moved away.
My grade nine French teacher, Ms. Frankel-Slama, was one of the best French teachers I ever had, and she is Jewish.
I also want to mention my roommate, Jono Kalles, who organized cultural exchanges between Canada and Israel for many years. I never had the opportunity to go to Israel or Palestine with him, but I have heard other MPs say they had a chance to go so they could make their own contribution to maintaining good relations between our countries.
I would encourage all members to support Bill C-85 to help us accomplish that and a great deal more in the years to come.
View Joël Godin Profile
View Joël Godin Profile
2018-10-05 10:33 [p.22264]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal colleague from Mississauga-Centre for his speech and for taking inspiration from what the Conservative Party did when it started this process.
My colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley just asked what the difference is between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party. The answer is that the Conservative Party understands the economy, while the Liberal Party does not seem to be known for much of anything—but at least it generously built on our idea and our initiative to introduce Bill C-79, which is about the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership.
The CPTPP is a new free trade agreement. It is good for the economy and for the government to open up new markets allowing us to prosper. By prospering I mean enabling our businesses to be very active internationally to increase revenues and create wealth. As a result, businesses and governments can then make more money available to create social programs and help the less fortunate.
Let us create wealth and provide social programs. At the moment, the Liberals are busy spending a lot of money, but they are using a process that was put in place by the Conservative Party to hopefully create some wealth.
The interesting thing is that the CPTPP opens up markets with Australia, Brunei, Canada, obviously, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
I still maintain that this was put in motion by the Conservative Party. The Liberals love to invoke the name of the former prime minister, a man I admire deeply. He is one of the reasons I am in politics today. Stephen Harper, an economist by trade who is no showman, took steps to grow Canada's economy, and I am glad he did.
This goes to show that the Liberals are just improvising. We saw it with NAFTA, now known as the USMCA. The “C” stands for “Canada”. We get the lowest billing in the abbreviation because we are the last of the three countries to have signed or reached an agreement. This proves that the Liberals are improvising, which I find disquieting.
My leader, the leader of the Conservative Party, wrote to the Prime Minister of Canada this summer to speed up the negotiation process. Our government's negotiations with our neighbour to the south, the United States, have been dragging on for 13 months. I think that, strategically, it would have been a good idea to show the U.S. that we are not vulnerable, that even though they are a significant market, we want to develop other markets in order to have some leverage to negotiate with the U.S.
My leader got in touch with the Prime Minister to speed up the process. What is important for this treaty is to be among the first six signatories for the agreement to enter into force. Again, we are here discussing the CPTPP in October, on the eve of Thanksgiving, because of the Liberal government's improvisation, amateurism and lack of rigour. We are wasting time.
One thing we know in the world of economics is that when a player is missing and orders need to be filled, customers will start looking elsewhere if they are disappointed. It is the same when building a new head office, when there are opportunities to bring head offices here but companies choose to go somewhere else. You do not build a new head office every day, every week or every month. There are cycles and investments. When a company is located in a region or a country, transferring its head office to another country is a complex operation. It is a serious decision for corporate leaders to take.
Here is what we can read in Export Development Canada's website: “Free trade agreements like the CPTPP can: Help you reach new B2B customers; Give your firm a chance to bid on government contracts overseas; Buy goods and services with reduced or no tariffs”.
That is a Government of Canada website promoting the benefits of a free trade agreement. I think that is what a government must do. The current government has been slow. It improvised and was not thorough. Maybe the Prime Minister felt like being on vacation this summer. We, as Conservatives, were ready to move that file forward and expedite the process. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister's answer to our leader was that it was not possible for him to do anything and that things would take their course. That is the reason why we are debating this bill today.
As I mentioned earlier, the agreement will come into effect 60 days after six countries have signed it. If we delay, if we are not one of the first six countries, it means that we are not helping to speed up the implementation of this agreement. Does the Liberal government really want to open markets? That is rather odd. Last Sunday evening, at 10 p.m., on the Lord’s Day, the Prime Minister decided to hold a cabinet meeting here. Now he wakes up. There is an emergency and we need to move quickly. The government’s amateurism shows us that it has irresponsibly sped things up too quickly with the USMCA. The “C” stands for little Canada, which is in the trio along with the large market of the United States.
This government is just not consistent, and that is what is unfortunate. The Liberals have sped up the process. I have no idea what bit them, although in October flies are usually hibernating. In any case, I do not know what bit the Prime Minister to make him decide to speed up the process and give without taking.
I am not an expert negotiator. I was not at the negotiating table with the United States. When one negotiates, there is usually give and take. There is leverage. One agrees to sacrifice “X” as long as the other party gives “Y”. It is an old principle and it does not take a genius to make sure that there is a give and take. I said it in English so that everyone understands. That is what negotiating is all about.
Let us look at what the Liberal government took in exchange for what it gave. I have to say that I do not see anything in my notes. Nothing was gained. We give, we celebrate, we are happy and we say, “well done, mission accomplished”. Yes, it is important to have a market with the United States, but we must not negotiate on bended knee. We have to stand up. A power balance needed to be established. The process was moving along, and then a fly bit someone around the table and it was decided that we had to move very quickly. It is quite dramatic.
Canada came in third in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The United States and Mexico reached an agreement and told Canada it could join if it wanted to, but that, if it was not interested, they would go ahead as planned. Some position of power. Our Prime Minister’s Liberal government opened up our dairy market for free; the U.S. is still denying our farmers and dairy producers access to its market. At least the CPTPP grants us access to the market.
The government caved in to the United States, allowing it to maintain the surtaxes on steel, aluminum and softwood lumber. We conceded, we negotiated, the other side found ways of exerting pressure, but then, after we came to an agreement, it failed to remove that pressure. That is quite something.
In addition, the agreement extends the data protection period for pharmaceuticals. That means that it will cost Canadians a lot more to stay healthy. That is an impressive bargaining achievement.
Moreover, limits will be placed on the development of the Canadian auto industry. Now there are quotas, where before there were none. What did we get in return?
There is a lot more in the agreement. I cannot address every item. That being said, the more we read, the more we find out, and the devil is in the details. What I am about to say has never been heard before: we will have to ask the President of the United States for permission before we enter into any trade agreements with other countries. I am about to fall off my chair—well, not literally. I do not understand.
Our Prime Minister, however, is happy with the negotiations. As I have said before, it is important to have a free trade agreement with the United States, since the U.S. market is very important for Canadians. It represents practically 80% of our exports. It is important, but not at any cost. The government just managed to survive the negotiations, and it is thrilled. We, however, got nothing in return.
We are told that the negotiations are over. A company in my riding, Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, does business in the U.S. and Canada. Unfortunately, its product is on the list of products saddled with surtaxes, a tool the U.S. used to exert pressure during the negotiations. If the company develops products in the U.S. to meet U.S. and Canadian needs and then imports them into Canada, it will have to pay a surtax.
Not to mention any names, Biscuits Leclerc is a well-known company with facilities in 20 countries. It is a Canadian company, and its head office is located in Canada. I am extremely pleased to say that it is located in my riding, more particularly in the Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures industrial park. How important is the company? The industrial park is called the “Parc industriel François-Leclerc” in recognition of the company’s decision to set up its head office there. The company is prosperous and believes in us—and we believe in it.
I will get back to my story. The company produces cookies and ships them to Canada. It produces its own products and exports them to Canada. Do you know what the annual surtax is for the company? One million dollars. The surtax is still in effect, despite the fact that the government is thrilled that everything is settled and proud of what a good job it did in the negotiations. That is quite an example of success.
After signing the agreement, Donald Trump gave a victory speech at a press conference. He was happy. He won, but what did Canada win? It barely survived.
The agreement has been negotiated, but the negotiations are not finished, since there are still surtaxes on both sides of the border, for example on steel and cookies. We were even told that the surtax on steel and aluminum would remain as a matter of national security. Why did we not use food safety during the negotiations to justify holding firm on supply management? Canadian producers’ standards and controls for dairy and other types of production are higher in Canada in terms of safety and hygiene. Health Canada is doing a good job, but the rules are not the same in the U.S.
When we trade with another country or market with lower standards, that means that their production costs are lower. They can produce more at a lower cost. That is unfair competition. Why did the Liberal government negotiators not use food safety as an argument to close the door on supply management? The government told Canadian farmers that it would protect supply management. Great job! It protected nothing, and managed to open a breach. The other agreements included compensation and market access.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister met with farmers. He told them that the minister might give them full compensation. Now the government is backpedalling. People are seeing what we in the House have known for three years. This government is not in control. It consults, it talks the talk, but it is not proactive. Take, for example, the CPTPP, which we are discussing today. It is based on our government's work and I am very proud of that. We must have done something right at some point. Canada's economy is what it is because of the Conservative Party.
We did plenty of things right. Many Canadians I speak to, and I will have the opportunity to meet others because I will be in my riding next week, keep telling me that they miss the previous government, and that is music to my ears. It makes me happy. Canadians are beginning to see this government’s true colours after its constant failures this summer.
I have a piece of advice for the Liberals. I am not an expert, but I have my sources. In Business Insider, Jeff Haden gave 12 negotiating tips. I would have commented on each and every one of them, but since I do not have enough time, I will simply list them: go first; be quiet; know what you want — that one brings up big question marks; assume the best case; avoid setting ranges; only make concessions for a reason; avoid getting cornered; make time your friend; ignore face value; give the other person room; forget about winning and losing; and create a relationship.
The Liberal Party negotiators completely failed in many of these areas. In fact, there is nothing to evaluate, since they did not get any results. I will have the opportunity to talk about this a bit more.
As I mentioned in my speech, we will support the agreement. Opening markets is important. First, we need to create wealth, and then we can establish social programs.
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2018-10-05 13:03 [p.22288]
Mr. Speaker, again, I am honoured to rise in the House today to discuss Bill C-79, an act to implement the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership between Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Bill C-79 is our government's commitment to the swift ratification and implementation of the CPTPP. Implementing and ratifying the CPTPP would strengthen our existing trade partnerships with Chile, Mexico and Peru, and provide preferential access to seven new markets: Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. Doing so would improve market access to an estimated 500 million global consumers with a combined GDP of $13.5 trillion, representing roughly 40% of the world economy. These numbers are truly staggering and offer a glimpse into the endless opportunities afforded by the CPTPP.
This agreement would diversify trade to benefit the middle class and enhance our ability to compete and win on the global stage. As I have previously mentioned during the debate in this chamber over the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement, any student of Canadian history knows our great country has been, in many ways, shaped and founded by trade. To this day, nearly 60% of our GDP and fully 20% of Canadian jobs are immediately tied to exports. Our government understands increased trade leads to economic growth and that economic growth leads to jobs for the middle class.
However, this simple fact is currently under siege. As the world slides toward protectionism and isolationism, a regression apparently favoured by some of my colleagues across the aisle, it is vital Canada remains an open society and a champion of open global markets. On this side of the House, we recognize the prosperity of hard-working Canadians and their families is directly linked to diversifying into new markets.
From the ratification of CETA to the recent conclusion of the USMCA framework, our government has long understood a commitment to free and fair trade is absolutely vital. As the only G7 country that is a signatory to all three of these agreements, once CPTPP enters into force, Canada would have 14 trade agreements that would provide preferential access to 51 different countries. Combined, this represents access to nearly 1.5 billion global consumers and over 60% of the global economy.
The complicated progression of this agreement on the global stage, as I have said previously, serves as further proof that these values are currently under attack from protectionist forces. In light of such pressures, I am truly proud of our government for having taken the lead in negotiating this progressive free trade agreement.
Before I continue, I would like to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of International Trade Diversification for their hard work on this file, as well as the members of the Standing Committee on International Trade for their insights and contributions. Moreover, as a former international trade lawyer myself, I would like to thank and congratulate former colleagues in the public service who helped make this important agreement a reality.
It was as a trade lawyer that I gained valuable first-hand knowledge into the tangible benefits that well-crafted trade agreements provide us with every day, and it is from that very same perspective I approach today's remarks. In particular, I would like to discuss six broad elements of Bill C-79 to highlight the very benefits this agreement would have for Canadian businesses, exporters, workers and families. My hon. colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles focused on the preservation of our cultural sector. In turn, I will talk about market access, the service sector, investment, government procurement, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Speaking first on market access, implementing the CPTPP will eliminate over 95% of taxes being imposed on over 99% of Canada's total exports. From making our machinery, equipment and business services more competitive, to protecting and preserving our unique culture, we are improving market access for Canadian business and have secured an amazing deal for Canadians. In fact, the vast majority of related tariffs will be eliminated immediately upon enactment of Bill C-79. After that, we will see the gradual introduction of more products being included in this list of tariff exemption over a period of 10 to 15 years.
To cite just a handful of targeted market access benefits, Bill C-79 would enhance market access opportunities for Canadian pork, beef, fruit and vegetables, malts, grains, cereals, animal feeds, maple syrup, wines and spirits, processed grain, sugar, chocolate confectionary and processed foods and beverages. It would also eliminate 100% of tariffs on Canadian fish and seafood products, benefiting the salmon, snow crab, herring, lobster, shrimp, sea urchin and oyster industries. In addition, we would see the elimination of 100% of tariffs on industrial goods and consumer products. Finally, tariffs on all Canadian exports of forestry and value-added wood products would be eliminated.
Delving into services, the CPTPP emphasizes the importance of transparency and predictability in order to give Canadian service providers more secure access to CPTPP markets, including a range of sectors for professional, environmental, mining-related, IT and financial services. In the face of a rapidly-evolving and modernizing global digital economy, the importance of these changes cannot be overstated.
Speaking of investment, this government has gone above and beyond the original conditions set in the TPP to better protect our investors, using Canada's negative list approach. Investors will be protected by provisions such as expropriation and denial of justice, backed by robust mechanisms for the resolution of investment disputes.
On non-tariff measures, Bill C-79 proposes to implement provisions related to non-tariff measures. Non-tariffs measures, as members are aware, refer to provision introduced regarding technical barriers to trade that will protect the key market access gains written into the agreement for the unnecessary and discriminatory regulatory burdens.
Moving to small and medium-sized enterprises, this government recognizes the importance of SMEs to the Canadian economy, which to do this day represents approximately 90% of our private sector jobs in Canada that will benefit from the provisions of this agreement. As a result, we have made it a priority to support SME access to the relevant data and information, a first among Canadian free trade agreements.
Provisions such as improved transparency, enforceable provisions on state-owned enterprises to promote fair business practices and an electronic commerce framework for cross-border data flows and server localization requirements have been made available to better protect Canadian businesses and encourage them to enter into the global market. These new measures will not only place Canadian businesses on the global value chain, but help them compete and thrive.
When our government came into office in 2015, in keeping with our commitment to evidence-based policy-making that listened to the needs and interests of Canadians, we held extensive consultations on the CPTPP, including over 41,000 correspondences and 265 interactions and meetings with more than 530 stakeholders. We did so to ensure a deal that promoted the creation of new jobs and benefits for Canadian families. The end result of this process is an ambitious and progressive trade agreement that will not only benefit Canadian businesses, workers, and families, but will certainly serve as a landmark for global trade arrangements moving forward.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2017-06-09 13:10 [p.12427]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talks about growing the economy and being innovative, and I appreciate those comments.
In their budget last year, the Liberals removed a 25% tariff to build ferries in Canada that even the Harper government would not remove. They removed it because they knew how important it was, as a marine nation, to build ferries here in Canada. The government decided to remove that barrier because the Canadian Ferry Association promised that it would lower rates for ferry users here in Canada.
That was $118 million in tariffs that went into government coffers that could have been invested in communities like Port Alberni and communities in coastal British Columbia where there is high unemployment. It could have been invested to build capacity to build boats in Canada.
The government claimed that shipyards were at capacity, supporting the Canadian Ferry Association concern, but the truth of the matter is that Canadian shipyards are not at capacity. In fact, there are tons of capacity in coastal communities looking for work.
The Liberals removed the 25% tariff in last year's budget and $118 million was taken from Canadian taxpayers, but ferry rates did not go down. In fact, in British Columbia, that did not get passed on to consumers. It went into the pockets of the contractors who had the contracts to build our boats in Poland and in Turkey. That is where those jobs are too. When we have the highest unemployment in southwestern British Columbia, the government failed British Columbians, failed coastal people, and failed the shipbuilding industry here in Canada.
View Mary Ng Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mary Ng Profile
2017-06-09 13:12 [p.12428]
Mr. Speaker, we are here today to talk about the budget, and I am really proud to support this budget. If passed, it will begin to work for Canadians. We are committed to historic investments in infrastructure that will create great jobs for middle-class Canadians and those who are seeking to join it.
View Blake Richards Profile
View Blake Richards Profile
2017-02-13 12:35 [p.8825]
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-30 and about the important role trade plays in our Canadian economy.
This is one of the few bills I can praise the current government for. It is something I wish I could do more often, if the Liberals would follow the Conservative path.
They obviously picked up on the great work we were doing as a government and have been able to help carry it through. Maybe the Liberals can take some of those lessons on things like balancing the budget or lowering taxes. One can only hope that maybe their understanding and recognition of the importance of trade will extend to other things that are important to our economy and to our fiscal situation in this country. Again, that is me being an optimist.
Let me get to the heart of the matter we are speaking to today, which is trade itself. Canada is a trading nation, and trade really is the lifeblood of our economy. In fact, one in five jobs in Canada, and about 60% of our GDP, are linked to exports. We do not have to look very far or very hard to figure out how important trade is to our economy and to opportunities for Canadians, based on those statistics.
History has shown that trade is the best way to help us create jobs and growth and long-term prosperity here in Canada. As trade increases, so does our nation's economic success, which obviously then puts more money into the pockets of hard-working Canadians. That is really what it is all about, at the end of the day. People talk about a strong economy and opportunities. What it all boils down to is putting more money into the pockets of Canadians to feed their families and provide better opportunities for their children. That is really what we are speaking about when we talk about trade and economic prosperity.
Under our previous Conservative government, the Stephen Harper government, one of our key accomplishments was that we launched one of the most ambitious pro-trade plans in our country's history. It was probably the most ambitious, in fact. I would like to take a moment, while I am on that point, to add a note of praise. I have heard others who spoke do the same, but it is important that it be said, because credit should be given where credit is due.
I look at the member for Abbotsford, who was the former minister of international trade, and the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster, who was our agriculture minister, and the great and hard work they put in. I know the travel schedules those two individuals and others had to undertake to accomplish some of the things that were accomplished under the Stephen Harper Conservative government. Under the leadership of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself, some great things were done, but it was a lot of hard work on the part of those members in particular. I want to note the legacy they created, because I think that is important. The two of them remain here in the House and continue to work hard in opposition to encourage these kinds of things to continue.
Under the leadership of those individuals, we were able to conclude free trade agreements with 38 countries. Examples are Colombia; the European Free Trade Association, which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland; Honduras; Jordan; Panama; Peru; South Korea; and the 28 member states of the European Union. There were some pretty significant advancements there.
We also concluded, signed, or brought into force foreign investment promotion and protection agreements, FIPAs, with 24 countries. That was more than any other government in Canadian history as well.
One of our historic achievements was the Canada–Korea Free Trade Agreement, which was Canada's first free trade agreement in the Asia Pacific region, which is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. South Korea is not only a major economic player and a key market for us in Canada but also serves as a gateway for Canadian businesses to the entire Asia Pacific region. This agreement is projected to increase Canadian merchandise exports to South Korea by 32% and to boost Canada's economy by $1.7 billion.
Additionally, in November 2013, our Conservative government released the global markets action plan, which was our pro-jobs, pro-export plan. It was aimed at creating new opportunities for Canadians, through trade and investment, by targeting emerging and established markets with broad Canadian interests.
Obviously, when we look at our record, we strongly support international trade, and we support international trade initiatives that will generate increased economic activity, jobs, and a collaborative relationship between Canada and emerging economies.
Canada should also strive to maximize the benefits we have as a free trading nation and establish trading relationships, beyond North America, with these emerging markets. To that end, it is important that the government vigorously pursue the reduction of international trade barriers and tariffs. This is why we supported Bill C-13, the trade facilitation agreement, which received royal assent not long ago. The trade facilitation agreement will simplify customs procedures, reduce red tape, expedite the release and clearance of goods, reduce costs associated with processing, and make international trade more predictable for Canadians.
Predictability is certainly key. We see the effects when we lack predictability when we look at the current government and its never-ending, constant changes to regulatory processes for energy project reviews. We can see what the lack of certainty creates when the chill is put on investments. Certainty is certainly key when we look at providing opportunities for businesses to help grow the economy. They need to have certainty.
Canadian investors, importers and exporters of goods, and small and medium-sized businesses will certainly benefit from the implementation of the TFA.
Another trade agreement that was successfully negotiated by the previous Conservative government was the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement. This agreement will continue to strengthen the Canada-Ukraine partnership in peace and prosperity. Total bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Ukraine averaged $289 million in 2011-15. It is expected to expand by 19% as a result of the implementation of this trade agreement. With this agreement, Canada and Ukraine will eliminate duties on 99.9% and 86% of our respective current imports, thereby benefiting both Canadian and Ukrainian exporters and consumers. Our GDP will increase by about $29.2 million under that agreement, and Ukraine's GDP will expand by about $18.6 million. Canada's exports to the Ukraine will increase by about $41.2 million.
Canada's export gains will be broad-based, with exports of pork, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, other manufactured products, motor vehicles and parts, and chemical products being some of the leading industries. Our previous Conservative government also established market access for beef in Ukraine in July 2015. Canada exported about 35.5 million dollars' worth of agriculture and agrifood and seafood products to Ukraine in 2014. These obviously show some of the benefits of trade and trade agreements and what they can mean for Canada.
Let me get to the trade agreement we are talking about today, the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement. Negotiated by our previous Conservative government, CETA is by far the most ambitious trade initiative Canada has ever concluded. Once this agreement comes into force, Canada will be one of the few countries in the world to have preferential access to the world's two largest economies: the European Union and the United States.
The Conservative Party strongly supports international trade initiatives that will generate increased economic activity, drive prosperity and job creation, and foster greater co-operation between our democratic allies.
A joint Canada-EU study concluded that a trade agreement with the EU could boost Canada's economy by about $12 billion annually, and increase bilateral trade by 20%. It is important to put some sense to what that means for the average Canadian and Canadian families. It is the economic equivalent of adding about $1,000 to the average Canadian family's income. It would add about 80,000 new jobs to the Canadian economy. That is something that the government has failed at to this point. This would be something to help create some jobs to put people to work, and provide new opportunities for Canadian families to increase their income.
When CETA comes into force, nearly 100% of all EU tariff lines on non-agricultural products will be duty-free, along with close to 94% for agricultural products. The agreement would also give Canadian service suppliers the best market access the EU has ever granted any of its trading partners. That is great news for the 13.8 million Canadians who are employed in the industry. It accounts for about 70% of our country's GDP.
Under CETA, Canadian firms could bid on contracts and supply their goods and services to the three main EU level institutions: the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Council, as well as the EU member state governments, and thousands of regional and local government entities. The Canada-EU trade agreement would give Canadian suppliers of goods and services better access to the EU's $3.3-trillion government procurement market, which would provide them with significant new export opportunities.
Investment plays a key role in the Canadian economy. CETA would provide Canadian and EU investors with greater stability and transparency for their investments. The stock of known foreign direct investment by Canadian companies in the EU totalled about $210 billion at the end of 2015, representing about 21% of Canadian direct investment abroad. Conversely, in that same year, known foreign direct investment from European companies in Canada totalled more than $242 billion, representing 31% of total foreign investment in Canada.
This is a landmark agreement. It has resulted from years of hard work, especially by our world-class trade negotiators who did all the heavy lifting on this.
I would like to focus in and speak to the benefits CETA would bring to my home province of Alberta. Times are tough in Alberta right now, so when we hear any good news on the economic front, it is something we can greatly appreciate. There is no question Alberta stands to benefit from the preferential access to the EU markets. The EU is already our province's fourth-largest export destination and our third-largest trading partner. Once in force, CETA would eliminate tariffs on almost all of Alberta's exports, and provide access to new market opportunities in the EU. CETA also includes provisions that would ease regulatory barriers, reinforce intellectual property rights, and ensure more transparent rules for market access. Alberta exporters could benefit from all of these improved conditions. When we look at some of the opportunities there, the main merchandise exports from Alberta to the EU are agriculture and agrifood products, advanced manufacturing, metals and mineral products. Some of our other exports include chemicals and plastics, fishing and fish products, forest products, and information and communications technology.
I would also like to take a minute or two to talk about one very specific opportunity that we have already seen open up as a result of this agreement.
In 2014, when negotiations had proven to be successful toward this agreement, a beef processing plant in my riding reopened. It had been a farmer-owned plant that had closed down in 2006, and had been sitting vacant since then.
In 2014, we were able to announce that there was a buyer, Rich Vesta from the United States, who is well known in the beef industry and has brought a lot of great opportunities to some of the businesses he has been involved with in the United States. He decided to purchase this facility and bring it back online. He chose to do that largely based on this agreement. He saw an opportunity for specific cuts of beef to go to some niche markets that would be based around some of the trade agreements we had been able to sign for Canada, in particular, the opportunities that CETA would create. Even before being implemented, we already could see the benefits of these opportunities.
That plant had been sitting there dormant since 2006. I was able to tour it recently and it is nearing its opening. It is expected to open later this month, in fact. When I toured it a couple of months back, I could see it was really coming together. I heard about all of the innovations and improvements being made. This is going to be an absolute world-class facility. The processing innovations that it is going to bring to Canada are amazing. They are all based on trade opportunities being created by some of the trade agreements under the Conservative government and the hope generated by this particular agreement as well.
We can already see the success stories and I am sure they will continue. It is something that people are very excited about and proud of in my home community of Airdrie, as well as Balzac in Rocky View County, where the facility is located. It will create jobs for people in the area. Many people are struggling right now and trying to find work. Not only will this create opportunities for people, but down the line there will be opportunities, such as more buyers for our cattle as well. Small cow-calf operations would benefit, right up through feedlots, etc., because it would create opportunities for everyone. People are really excited about what it would mean for my area.
I will take a minute to speak about some of the opportunities and benefits that CETA would bring to the forestry sector in Canada, which is another example. The EU is actually the world's third-largest importer of forest products. In 2015, it accounted for about 14% of global forest product imports, or about $46 billion. While most Canadian forest products already enter the EU duty-free, when CETA comes into force, Canadians will also enjoy quota-free market access. This means Canada would have a preferential trade advantage with the EU that many competitors will not have.
As well, bilateral dialogue on forest products would enhance Canada's ability to influence the development of EU measures, reducing the potential negative impacts of EU measures on Canadian exports, and help ensure continued access for Canadian forest products to the European Union. That would provide Canada with a really unique window into the regulatory development process in the EU. Canada would then be able to raise industry concerns with proposed regulations at a very early stage. That would be of benefit to our forestry producers as well.
We are also looking at a new phytosanitary measures joint management committee that would facilitate discussions between Canadian and EU experts. It would provide a venue for experts to resolve issues impeding trade before they become major problems.
CETA would also establish a framework for co-operation on the full scope of animal health, plant health, and food safety provisions.
Tourism is also something that I focus on greatly. It is pretty important in my riding. We already have great links and ties between Canada and the European Union countries when it comes to tourism. I have often said that tourism breeds trade and trade breeds tourism, so opportunities would be created by those links that already exist. This agreement would help to build on all of those things.
I stand today to show my support for CETA and for the opportunities that it would create, the jobs it would create certainly for small and medium-sized businesses in our country and right on through. I appreciate the opportunity to speak in support of the bill.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2017-02-13 13:37 [p.8834]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-30 to implement the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union and its member states.
Before I start, I would like to pass my thanks on to my colleagues, the member for Abbotsford, the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster, and former Prime Minister Harper, for their hard work in bringing this about.
I want to start with the obvious. Trade is good. Trade makes markets better. Trade lowers prices for consumers and gives them more options. Trade does not make life better just for wealthy Canadians; it makes life better for all Canadians.
I am always proud to stand in this House to defend agreements and legislation that make life better for Canadians. I spoke to Bill C-30 at second reading back in November. In that speech, I spoke to four points about why I am supporting the agreement. I want to expand on a few of them today.
First, as I mentioned, trade is good for Canada. A more competitive market means Canadians have access to the best products, at the best prices. Lowering or eliminating tariffs on goods that we import for our own consumption means that the price we pay for these goods will drop.
Again, I will always stand up to defend policies that lower prices for my constituents, and for all Canadians.
Trade agreements help Canadians from both perspectives: consumers benefit when we have lower prices and producers benefit when they can have greatly expanded markets to sell their goods.
Farmers in Alberta can now sell their products to not only people in Ontario, Quebec, and B.C., but once CETA passes, basically duty-free to Belgians, Germans, the French, and every other country signatory to this agreement. The EU represents some 500 million people, with almost $20 trillion in economic activity. The EU's imports alone are worth more than our entire GDP.
If we want our producers to grow, we must ensure they can access newer, bigger, and hungrier markets. When our producers have more customers, they need more workers to fill that demand. I do not think I have to remind members in this House that we could use a few extra jobs in Alberta right now.
CETA is projected at a $12-billion annual increase to our economy. I know $12 billion can be an abstract number, but a $12-billion increase is equivalent to adding $1,000 to the average family income each and every year, or 80,000 jobs.
Some of those jobs will help my constituents in Edmonton West and the constituents of colleagues across Alberta.
CETA will help Alberta grow, access new markets for our goods, and will help Albertans access products at lower prices.
For our producers, the EU is already Alberta's fourth-largest export destination and our third-largest trading partner. The EU currently imports over $2 trillion annually, of which Alberta makes up $1.4 billion. We have just .07% of the European market. We have plenty of room to grow. Alberta's main exports to the EU include high-value items as well as resources, such as nickel, turbo-propellers and other machinery, cereals, medical instruments, cobalt, electrical machinery, mineral fuel and oil, services, wood pulp, inorganic chemicals, meat, animal feed, grains, seed, fruit, plastic, vehicles, pharmaceuticals, beverages, iron and steel products, and animal products.
For our consumers, nearly 100% of all non-agricultural products will be duty-free and nearly 94% of all agricultural products will be duty-free.
Once in force, CETA would eliminate tariffs on almost all of Alberta's exports and enable Alberta's job creators access to new market opportunities in the EU. Eliminating tariffs on almost of all of our exports means we would have more competitive pricing to offer to the more than 500 million new customers. It is like moving our lemonade stand from a neighbourhood street corner to Times Square. The potential for us is enormous.
CETA would also provide Alberta exporters with a competitive advantage over exporters from other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the EU. That is like moving our lemonade stand from the neighbourhood street corner to Times Square where our competitor is stuck in a location with no traffic and higher costs.
On the day CETA's provisions enter force, 98% of Canadian goods would be duty-free. For agriculture and agrifood products, almost 94% of EU tariffs on Canadians goods would be eliminated, rising to 95% once all phase-outs are complete. This duty-free access would give Canadian agricultural goods, including beef, pork, and bison, preferential access to the European market.
I know some of my colleagues have this stereotypical image that Albertans are all ranchers and cowboys. I hate to play into that stereotype, but I cannot pass up this opportunity to remind the House how important beef is to the Albertan economy and what CETA means to this. According to the CBC, because of CETA, Canada is poised to supply about 1% of all the beef needs in Europe under this new pact. That would mean $600 million for Alberta, $600 million in new business, $600 million in new jobs.
As well, the following industries in Alberta would benefit. The first one is metals and minerals. Alberta's metals and minerals sectors include natural gas, conventional oil, coal, minerals, and the oil sands. More specifically, Alberta's metal refinery and mineral sector is a foundational industry that allows for infrastructure development as well as energy and natural resource production in Alberta. It generated 28% of the province's total GDP in 2011, and employs more than 181,000 Albertans, creating employment opportunities that provide some of the highest earnings in the Alberta economy. Exports of metals and minerals currently face tariffs as high as 10%.
There is agriculture and agrifood. Alberta has more than 50,000 farms with crop and livestock production. They produce an abundance of world-class agriculture commodities. The agriculture and agrifood sector employs nearly 76,000 Albertans and contributes 2.5% to the GDP. Between 2010 and 2012, the exports of agriculture products to the EU suffered tariffs of over $35 million. That is $35 million that can be reinvested in the economy, jobs, and productivity improvement.
There are forest products. The forest products sector employs nearly 19,000 Albertans and represents a significant component of the economy. Forest product exports to the EU average $62 million and face up to a 10% tariff right now. These barriers would be eliminated under CETA.
There is advanced manufacturing. Alberta's advanced manufacturing industry employs more than 28,000 people. Between 2010 and 2012, Alberta's exports of advanced manufacturing products to the EU averaged a quarter of a billion dollars, which face tariffs as high as 22%. Industrial machinery, one of Alberta's key advanced manufacturing exports to the EU, faces tariffs of up to 8%.
Alberta is a major producer of chemicals and plastics. It employs 11,000 Albertans, an important part of exports to the EU, with exports averaging just under $100 million a year. These exports currently face tariffs of up to 6.5%. Again, these would be eliminated.
In addition to beef and agriculture products, CETA would also provide for increases in eligible trade for products with high sugar content. This stipulation would enable a company like PepsiCo, which has a large bottling facility in Edmonton's west end as well as other parts of Alberta, to continue to ship its products abroad and find new customers in new markets duty free. The stipulation for sugary products would also help local Edmonton start-ups, such as JACEK Chocolate Couture, which opened in Sherwood Park last year, and has now expanded into Canmore as well as downtown Edmonton. It will help it to hire new employees and reach a massive new market base.
CETA will open up markets for our burgeoning alcoholic beverage companies, which products are very well known to members of the Alberta Conservative caucus. There are over 50 breweries in Alberta, including favourites like Big Rock, Alley Kat, and Yellowhead. There are distilleries like Eau Claire Distillery, which makes gin and vodka from only local Alberta grains, and Park Distillery, based in Banff, that makes a vodka with glacial waters from the Rockies.
Closer to my home in Edmonton, there is Red Cup Distilling in Vegreville. I am wearing the button today supporting Vegreville. There is also the Big Rig Craft Distillery in Nisku, by the Edmonton airport, where people can get brum, which is basically rum made with sugar beets instead of sugar cane. I want to note it is called brum and not rum, so as not to run afoul with the rum lobby. If the all-powerful rum lobby is watching on CPAC today, please note I called it a brum and not a rum.
Edmonton is home to many head offices of world-class companies that are said to grow, compete, and win with access to this huge new market. PCL Construction has finished Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton, the finest hockey and event arena in the entire world. Stantec engineering, Booster Juice, and Weatherford are all based in Edmonton.
Edmonton is also renowned for its start-up culture, and many new enterprises will benefit from increased access to markets and added IP protection. TappCar is a ride-share company that has gained ground by working with municipal governments rather than circumventing local laws. Drizly is an app that arranges liquor deliveries. Should it expand to the Parliament Hill area, I am sure that sales will spike massively. My wife's personal favourite is Poppy Barley shoes, which has grown from a small, shared office space downtown to Edmonton's famous Whyte Avenue, with pop-ups in Toronto.
Edmonton also boasts having three of the top fifteen start-up companies in Canada, as named by Metabridge. The first is LoginRadius, which does customer analytics and serves over 1,000 businesses worldwide. There is Mover, a company that handles cloud file migration. The third company is Showbie, which helps teachers, schools, and students get connected across technology platforms.
Edmonton's bread-and-butter business, the oil and gas sector, stands to benefit tremendously from CETA by increasing market access to our oil and gas products. The Prime Minister wants to phase out oil and gas, but CETA represents a grand opportunity for Canada's job-creating and economic-driving industry to capitalize on new customers.
Supplier diversification is one of the European Union's top energy priorities. Currently Russia has 31% of the EU's oil and gas import market share, making it first. Canada has just 1% of the market share, placing us 26th. It is well known that Russian President Putin uses his country's oil and gas reserves as a weapon. Given that Russia supplies almost one-third of the EU's oil and gas, this position is strong. The EU needs to diversify, wants to diversify, and Alberta has plenty to offer. Not only will this create wealth and jobs in Alberta and the rest of Canada, it will help to free Europe from the bullying and blackmail of the Russian president and deprive him of his desperately needed revenues that he uses to threaten our democratic allies. The Right Honourable Stephen Harper famously told Putin to get out of Ukraine. CETA will help us get him out of Europe's oil and gas business.
As CETA reduces and eliminates tariffs across the board for oil and gas products, Canada and Alberta are well poised to fill the gap and become a crucial energy ally. This is an opportunity that we should not pass up, and frankly cannot pass up. The government may perhaps one day support energy east, and then we can ship Alberta oil to Quebec and New Brunswick for refining and stop sending jobs and billions of dollars to despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia.
Beyond energy, free trade helps foster greater co-operation between our democratic allies. We strongly support international trade initiatives that strengthen the bonds with friendly countries, increase economic productivity, and drive prosperity and job creation.
The world is full of uncertainty, and prior champions of trade and co-operation are retreating. This comes at an unfortunate time for Canada. Our country has the fastest-growing population in the OECD, and the west has the fastest-growing and youngest population in Canada. We have products. We have workers. We have the businesses. We will continue to have more people and more products over the next few years, and we need places to sell these goods.
CETA is an opportunity for us to secure access to the largest single market in the world at a time when other countries are retreating. Not only will this agreement help to give our job creators access to growing and demanding markets, it will give Canadians a head-start advantage over our competitors who are retreating from the global marketplace.
Even after all of these benefits I have discussed and talked about, CETA's detractors argue that the costs outweigh the benefits. They will say that CETA gives too much power to corporations and will allow them to sue governments for compensation if they change policies. The argument is callously thrown around as a holistic and negative point. It is just an assertion.
According to a summary in The Globe and Mail, CETA opens up a new process called the investment court system, or ICS. The ICS essentially acts as a permanent tribunal to handle complaints brought by businesses. Canada and the EU have hailed the ICS as a breakthrough offering a high level of protection for investors while fully preserving the right of governments to regulate and pursue legitimate public policy objectives, such as the protection of health, safety, and our environment.
It is perfectly legitimate for businesses that act in good faith and set up shop in new countries because of a trade agreement to be able to protect themselves from arbitrary changes by the host government. If governments agree to and sign a trade agreement, they agree to be bound by the provisions of that trade agreement with some exceptions. It is unreasonable to make governments the sole power holder in this arrangement.
If we expect companies to come to Canada, to do business in Canada, to create work for Canadians, and create wealth for our country, we must be able to guarantee them some modicum of stability and predictability, or at least grant them some recourse if a future government makes arbitrary changes that violate the provisions of that trade agreement. This is a two-way street, and businesses do not deserve less protection just because they are creating jobs, making investments, and earning profits.
At the same time, it is also important that governments are able to react to changing circumstances and create legislation that is good for Canadians in the event that exceptional circumstances arise. This is why CETA has built in provisions to protect both business and government.
I want to note here that Canadian investment in the EU was almost a quarter of a trillion dollars as of 2014. That is Canadian investment that will also be protected from the whims of a changing political landscape in Europe.
The Consider Canada City Alliance is a partnership with 12 of our largest cities. These cities represent 63% of Canada's GDP and 57% of our population. They work to increase investment in Canada and grow trade opportunities.
Our own highly respected Edmonton Economic Development Corporation is part of this coalition. Michael Darch, president of the CCCA states:
We see Canada moving toward creating the largest trading and investment block in the world. The cities that comprise the Consider Canada City Alliance account for 63% of Canada's GDP fully understand that our economic prosperity is built on global trade and investment....
Modern commerce is much more than moving goods across the borders. It is about financial and knowledge-based consulting services, digital commerce and entertainment, and the freedom of movement for the skilled workers who are creating the 21st century global economy.... CETA addresses these and many more opportunities. Canada is demonstrating leadership in building the agreements necessary to protect our economic future and guarantee access to prosperity for all Canadians.
The Consider Canada Alliance has listed its top five reasons for supporting CETA. Number one is “dollars and sense”. It “will increase Canada-EU trade by 20% and boost Canada's economy by $12 billion...”
Number two is “unparalleled market access”. “Once...CETA comes into force...investors in Canada will have assured preference access to both NAFTA and the EU” with nearly one billion customers combined and a GDP of over $35 trillion.
Number three is “enhanced investor protection”, as I just mentioned. “CETA will provide Canadian and EU investors with greater certainty, transparency and protection for their investments.” Again, I note, Canadians have invested a quarter of a trillion dollars in the EU. That is Canadian investment that will be protected from the whims of a changing landscape in Europe.
Number four is “easing of investment restrictions”. “The net benefit review threshold under the Investment Canada Act will be raised from the current $600 million to $1.5 billion, following CETA's entry into force.”
Number five is that it “signals open trade, not closed borders”. “While populist movements in some developed countries appear to be antagonistic to expanding trade agreements, Canadian cities are welcoming aggressive investment interests from across Europe and around the world during investment missions conducted in partnership with Federal [and provincial] colleagues.”
Again, I repeat, trade is good. Trade lowers prices and enables competitive and valued Canadian businesses to expand, hire new employees, and prosper in a globalized world. Trade helps strengthen ties with our allies. We will always support international initiatives that nurture greater co-operation between Canada and our friends overseas. Free trade allows billions of dollars in Canadian exports to reach new markets and ensures that European goods flow into Canada at competitive prices for our consumers. Free trade will help Alberta's businesses grow and prosper at a time when Alberta needs it most.
I am proud to support this agreement that will help Alberta's small and large businesses, Albertan consumers, Canadian industry, Canadian producers, and that will deepen our long-standing ties between Canada and Europe.
View Todd Doherty Profile
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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