Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2019-06-20 10:21 [p.29466]
Mr. Speaker, the third petition calls upon the House of Commons to recognize that violence against women remains a critical problem in Canada and disproportionately impacts indigenous women, as reflected by the crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women; that striving for pay equity and equal participation of women in leadership roles must be political priorities for all members of Parliament; and that a shifting cultural attitude toward women and gender minorities in our society requires structural changes in education and socialization.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2019-06-19 16:15 [p.29403]
Mr. Speaker, the third petition I wish to present contains 75 signatures of petitioners who are calling on the government to condemn discrimination against girls occurring through sex-selected pregnancy termination and the use of ultrasound for this purpose.
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2019-06-19 21:23 [p.29440]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak tonight. In the final days of Parliament, I would be remiss if I did not thank my colleagues in the NDP for our tireless fight for fair trade for Canadians, who represent farmers and workers, to keep the cost of pharmaceuticals low and to address the issues Canadians care about and matter to them in terms of trade.
I would like to thank my family for the time that I have been able to devote here, my husband Germaine, my sons Maxwell and Maliq. I thank them for their support and love and for the wild ride we have been on this last four years and I look forward to going further. I would like to say a quick thanks to my team. They are just so incredible. I thank Nadine, Lindsay, Katrina, Joseline and Megan and the many volunteers throughout the years.
We are back on Bill C-100 and I am pleased to rise to speak on this stage of the bill. I thank my colleague, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, who brought forward a reasoned amendment, something the government should consider, which is to decline to give second reading to Bill C-100. Before I get into the reasons, which my colleague laid out quite well in her reasoned amendment last night, there has been a lot of discussion about what is happening in the U.S., the moves the Democrats are making. We know they have written four letters from the subcommittee on trade to Ambassador Lighthizer.
They are in the middle of negotiations right now and it is quite shocking to know that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs will be going to Washington, for Donald Trump, to pressure the Democrats to drop these progressive elements that they are trying to achieve. I do not think that is something that Canadians widely support. It is certainly not something that Speaker Pelosi has said she is willing to do. She said that the Democrat-controlled House will not take up legislation to ratify the deal until it is tweaked to address her concerns, which include issues with enforcement tools, labour reforms in Mexico, environmental protections and provisions on pharmaceuticals.
Are these not things that we in Canada should all be pursuing? Is this not something that the Liberal government should be getting behind and supporting instead of ramming this through, closing down debate in the dying days of Parliament with an uncertain future throughout the summer on Bill C-100? I understand that we are heading into an election and that it is in the best interests of Liberals to try to get this done, to put something on the shelf to show Canadians that they have achieved something on the trade file. I just say “something”. I reserve my comment as to the value of it or how this deal is being viewed.
I want to go back to the member for Windsor—Tecumseh and the reasoned amendment she put forward. The first reason she states is that this new deal, the NAFTA, the CUSMA, the USMCA, whichever one chooses to call it, fails to improve labour provisions necessary to protect jobs. This is entirely true. Yesterday, there were 12 witnesses at the trade committee. There was a witness from Unifor who expressed concerns about the labour provisions. Unfortunately, what was initially attempted was not fully achieved. We know the Democrats are working hard to improve it.
I want to talk about more specifics and the uncertainty that still exists. The first thing I want to talk about is working women. In the agreement that was signed last fall, there was a negotiation that included provisions for improving the conditions of working women, including workplace harassment, pay equity and equality issues, but in the scrub phase of this new deal, those things disappeared. They are completely gone from the agreement now. The Liberals have yet to answer why. They have yet to acknowledge that these important gender gains have completely disappeared and they have yet to ask what happened to them and say they need to be put back in Bill C-100. I would be curious to hear why the Liberals are not pushing for these gender changes that have now somehow disappeared.
There is a lot of discussion about the $16 U.S. per hour wage that has been talked about. The unfortunate part of this provision, and I hope that Canadians understand this, is that it is not a minimum $16 per hour; it is an average $16 per hour, and the determination of that has yet to be defined. If we use the example of an auto assembly plant or a manufacturing plant, we would have to include everyone, the CEO, all of the shareholders, all of the stakeholders, all the way down.
If we take the average wage of everyone working there, $16 an hour is not going to be what people are being paid in right-to-work states in the U.S. or in Mexico. It is simply what the average wage has to be among workers in that whole company. Again, while this appears to be something progressive on the surface, I want Canadians to understand there is no guarantee here that people will actually be paid that amount of money. That is definitely a concern to us.
We know that in the Mexican government, the people have moved toward some labour reforms. The problem is that we are taking a gamble on the backs of working people in hoping that this thing will correct the imbalance and have the jobs continue to drain down to Mexico. There are many Canadian companies that have footprints in Mexico that are not paying a fair wage to people in plants. These are North American multinational companies. Of course, when executives are looking where to put a new manufacturing facility, they know that in Mexico people are being paid a very low wage, there are no labour standards, no legitimate unions and no environmental provisions, and then they look at the Canadian standard.
This is the reason we have not had a new greenfield site in Canada over the life of NAFTA. We will continue to have this problem. It is a great gamble that is being taken, once again, on the backs of working people. We have lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs over the life of NAFTA. We lost our entire textile industry. We lost 50% of our vintners, our wineries that are in a lot of our ridings here in the House. There are a great many questions, to find out whether the provisions in this deal would actually work and would actually help the Mexican working people, the U.S. working people and the Canadians. It is a great gamble and risk that we are taking here. I do not believe that I have heard a strong argument from the other side, other than to say that this is the best that we could do. Canadian workers deserve better than that.
Most people, when they think of the U.S. and Canada and labour standards, certainly do not think of the U.S. as being more progressive than we are, but that is exactly what is happening there now. The Americans are actually trying to stand up for working people in the U.S. It is a shame that we do not see the same thing happening here in Canada.
The other thing I want to talk about, which my colleagues have touched upon and I have in my previous speech, is that this deal allows for the extension of drug patents, which would significantly increase the cost of medication for Canadians. We know that Dr. Hoskins came out with his report saying that we should move toward a single-payer universal pharmacare plan in Canada, something New Democrats have been saying and putting forward as a plan to Canadians for quite some time. It is disappointing to see the Liberals dangle that carrot once again in front of voters, saying, “Do not worry, we are going to do it”. We have been hearing that for 20 years.
Here is a deal that would make drugs like insulin, drugs that are used for Crohn's disease and drugs that are used for rheumatoid arthritis more expensive. That is so counterintuitive to where we need to be going because we know that Canadians already cannot afford the medication that they are taking. The fact is that Big Pharma is getting its way once again in a trade agreement. This is a complete TPP hangover. This was part of the original TPP that, thankfully, disappeared when the U.S. left, but it is right back on the table again.
My colleagues have rightly pointed out the impact on supply management. We heard from the egg farmers at committee yesterday. I just have to pause to point out that it is shameful that we had only 12 witnesses before the committee on a study on the new NAFTA, or the CUSMA, when we had over 400 on the TPP. We did a whole cross-country tour on the TPP, where we not only included everyone in the local communities but we also had open-mike periods. Now we have the complete opposite. While the Liberals keep saying this is our most important relationship and this is why we have to do this, I believe that is the reason it deserves proper attention and proper oversight. Certainly that is not what is happening here.
I am very pleased to rise to say that New Democrats will always fight for fair trade that is in the best interest of people, communities and workers, and we will put the poorest and most marginalized Canadians in the best position when we do so. When we continue to sign trade agreements that will have negative impacts and violate people's human rights, do not address gender inequality and do not work to make the wealth inequality in our country shrink, we are doing a disservice. We need to do better. New Democrats are committed to fair trade at every turn.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2019-06-18 10:24 [p.29267]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls upon the House of Commons to recognize that violence against women remains a critical problem in Canada and that it disproportionately impacts indigenous women, as reflected in the crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women and children; that striving for pay equity and equal participation for women in leadership roles must be a political priority for all members of Parliament; and that shifting cultural attitudes toward women and gender minorities in our society requires structural changes to education and socialization.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2019-06-18 14:48 [p.29308]
Mr. Speaker, I wear this beaded jacket that has the image of indigenous women so we may never forget that we all have a role in giving a voice to those who have been ignored for far too long.
In 2017, Bill S-3 was finally passed with a delay concerning the 1951 cut-off criteria. The government said it needed time to consult on an implementation plan. The minister's special representative has completed her consultations and report, which was just tabled in Parliament. Indigenous women and their descendants want to know. When will they finally have their human rights restored?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
2019-06-18 14:48 [p.29308]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre for his ongoing advocacy on this. Gender equality is a fundamental human right, and Bill S-3 does eliminate the sex-based discrimination from the Indian Act.
With the ministerial special representative's consultations concluded and her report tabled, we now know what our partners need in a successful implementation plan. Work on that implementation plan is well under way, and I can confirm that we will be bringing these provisions into force within the current mandate. We are committed to working with our partners to remedy all remaining registration issues, but also to accelerate the progress to self-determination by which nations—
View Linda Lapointe Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Linda Lapointe Profile
2019-06-18 20:48 [p.29354]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for making sure everyone is listening. The agreement we are discussing is very important.
We worked hard to secure a good deal that will benefit all Canadians. For example, the provisions that protect women's rights, minority rights and indigenous rights are the strongest in any Canadian trade agreement to date. This includes obligations with respect to the elimination of employment discrimination based on gender. The new NAFTA is also the first international trade agreement that recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination in its labour chapter.
I would add that, from the very beginning of the negotiation process, we emphasized the need to protect middle-class jobs and support economic growth. The vast majority of Canadian businesses are SMEs. They employ over 10.5 million Canadians, accounting for about 90% of the private sector workforce. The new agreement will help these Canadian businesses by giving them access to the U.S. and Mexican markets and promoting collaboration between the parties to create more opportunities for trade and investment.
During the 42nd Parliament, I had the honour and privilege of being a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade for two and a half years. The agreements that we signed include CETA and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. However, the agreement with the United States and Mexico is very important. The committee and parliamentarians worked very hard to move forward on this file, which is of vital importance to Canada. CUSMA includes a chapter on SMEs designed to complement the other commitments made throughout the agreement. It includes requirements to make available information that is specifically tailored to SMEs, including information on entrepreneurship, education programs for youth and under-represented groups, and information on obligations in the agreement that are particularly relevant to SMEs.
CUSMA also provides SMEs with an opportunity to collaborate in addressing any issue that could impact them in the future. In my riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, which includes Deux-Montagnes, Saint-Eustache, Boisbriand and Rosemère, SMEs are the main employers. The new agreement establishes a committee on SME issues and an annual trilateral SME dialogue that brings together representatives of private sector employees, non-governmental organizations and other experts to discuss issues pertaining to the agreement that are relevant to SMEs. By doing so, CUSMA will give a voice to Canadian SMEs and facilitate discussions on issues that matter to them.
In keeping with our commitment to adopting an inclusive approach to trade, Canada carefully considered the interests of indigenous peoples throughout the negotiations. The Government of Canada is determined to advance the process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples through a renewed nation-to-nation relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect and co-operation. Given the efforts made by Canada to renew this relationship, one of Canada's objectives is to better advocate for the commercial interests of indigenous peoples. To that end, the Government of Canada has undertaken a vast consultation with chiefs and indigenous representatives and also with businesses and experts to better understand their commercial interests and obtain their advice on the priorities for the negotiations.
For the first time in a Canadian free trade agreement, the CUSMA includes a general exception that clearly states that the government can adopt or maintain measures it deems necessary to fulfill its legal obligations towards indigenous peoples. This exception is a testament to the commitment by all three countries to ensure that the agreement's obligations do not interfere with a country's legal obligations towards indigenous peoples.
We are proud to have made indigenous peoples the focus of the NAFTA renegotiations. As National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations said, the new NAFTA's provisions addressing indigenous peoples make this most inclusive international trade agreement for indigenous peoples to date. The provisions will uphold the ancestral, inherent and treaty rights of first nations.
Furthermore, we are proud to have included a chapter on the environment in lieu of the side letter to the original NAFTA.
The chapter on the environment recognizes the important role indigenous peoples play in long-term environmental and biodiversity conservation, as well as sustainable fishing and forestry. The environmental provisions also take into account the rights of indigenous peoples under the Constitution for the use and development of natural resources.
Finally, for the first time in a Canadian free trade agreement, the preamble recognizes how important it is for indigenous peoples to participate more in trade and investment decisions. In addition to achieving results for SMEs, indigenous peoples and, of course, the cultural exemption, Canada has made gender equality and women's empowerment top priorities.
For instance, the labour chapter levels the playing field when it comes to labour standards and working conditions in North America, and includes commitments to ensure that national laws and policies provide protections for fundamental principles and rights at work. This includes provisions on non-discrimination in the workplace, including gender discrimination. It also includes provisions that encourage the adoption of programs and policies to tackle barriers to the full participation of women in the workforce. The agreement supports co-operative activities dealing with questions on gender issues in the workplace, particularly gender equality.
The investment chapter includes a special provision that reaffirms the importance of encouraging businesses to uphold standards of corporate social responsibility, including those that apply to gender equality.
The chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises encourages the parties to collaborate on activities that will maximize trade opportunities for SMEs owned by women and promote their participation in international trade. Taken together, the agreement's provisions on equality address the issue directly.
I have to say a few words about the cultural exemption. I remember the Standing Committee on International Trade's trip to Washington. When I said that Canada has over eight million French speakers, they had no idea what I was talking about. That is why the cultural exemption is so important. It affects the cultural industry and means that Canada will still be able to create and maintain programs and policies that support our thriving cultural industries. The industry represents 75,000 jobs in Quebec, and culture represents 2.7% of our GDP and 3.6% of all jobs in Canada. That was a very important gain, and I am very proud of it.
In conclusion, let me reiterate that we worked incredibly hard to make sure the new agreement benefits Canadians, and not just middle-class workers and small businesses, but traditionally under-represented groups, such as women and indigenous peoples, too.
As I said, the cultural exemption was very important, and I can proudly say that our goals were met. We made significant progress in improving standards and benefits for all Canadians.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2019-06-18 21:44 [p.29362]
Madam Speaker, while we are figuring that out, I will speak to the bill.
It is an absolute pleasure for me to be speaking, on behalf of the residents of my riding of Davenport, to Bill C-100, an act to implement the agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States. Indeed, this will be my last speech in this 42nd Parliament, and I am delighted to be speaking on such an important topic.
Before I speak to Bill C-100, I want to marvel at the accomplishments of our federal government over the last few years. We signed not one, not two, but three trade agreements since we came into office in late 2015. I am very proud that we signed the Canada-Europe trade agreement, the CPTPP and the USMCA, which we are now debating. These three agreements give Canada tariff-free access to 1.5 billion customers around the world. It is absolutely amazing. I would also like to point out that Canada is the only country to have a free trade agreement with each of the G7 countries.
I think both of these things are remarkable to note. We should be very congratulatory about the fact that we have been able to accomplish them over the last few years. I think it will truly be beneficial for Canada's economy moving forward.
As members know, we are a trading nation. Geographically, we are a massive country, but we are small in terms of people. Indeed, for our economy to be strong, both now and moving forward, we need these trade agreements.
I want to point out two other trade agreements that I follow in particular, because they have a direct impact on key groups in my riding. The first relates to the Hispanic and Brazilian communities.
In March 2018, our Minister of International Trade Diversification launched negotiations on Mercosur, which is a trading bloc that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. These are really important markets for us and are very important for many members of my particular community. I am delighted that we have embarked on this. I hope to hear about its conclusions by the end of this year or early next year.
The other agreement I want to mention, as it is important to a group I am very proud to be a part of, relates to the Turkish community. Very recently, on June 8, the JETCO was signed between the hon. Ruhsar Pekcan, Turkey's Minister of Trade, and our Minister of International Trade Diversification at the G20 summit in Japan. We signed this JETCO because we want to further trade and investment between our two countries. We want to put a specific emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises, strategic venture initiatives and technical and scientific co-operation. I am delighted with this. I currently serve as the chair of the Canada-Turkey Friendship Group, and I know this is exciting for both countries. I think it will be a benefit for both of us as well.
In my downtown west riding of Davenport, people are very supportive of trade agreements. This is partly because over 52% of them were born outside of Canada. For them, increasing trade between countries not only is beneficial for Canada overall but is also a way for many of the diasporas in my community to build closer relationships with their home countries or the home countries of their parents or grandparents. I find this particularly endearing. They are very positive toward trade agreements and are absolutely delighted with the CUSMA.
I will provide a few facts and figures. I do not think I will say anything that members have not heard many times before, but it is important for me to reiterate them.
The North American free trade zone is the biggest economic region in the world, worth $22 trillion U.S. in our regional market, and it encompasses more than 480 million consumers. This new updated agreement preserves Canada's market access to the United States and Mexico, securing our most important trading relationship.
I am delighted that this deal would increase trade between all three countries. I also like that it strengthens relations between Canada and the U.S. and between Canada and Mexico. Canada's preferential access to these markets is vital to the continued prosperity of Canadian workers, whose livelihoods rely on trade.
We did have some concerns after we signed the original agreement, which I believe was on November 30, 2018. The reason we had some concern is that the U.S. had imposed some steel and aluminum tariffs.
I am very glad to say that, after months of hard work and effort from our government, particularly our Minister of Foreign Affairs, our Minister of Finance and our Prime Minister, Canadians are now in a very different situation. We have secured a full lifting of the steel and aluminum tariffs and, despite the Conservatives' call to drop our retaliatory measures, we held firm. We have stuck to our principles and there are no longer tariffs on our steel and aluminum, about which I am absolutely delighted.
In terms of benefits, the new agreement preserves NAFTA's chapter 19, which is the binational panel that will settle disputes between our countries on any trade issues. Chapter 19 provides Canada with recourse to an independent and impartial process to challenge U.S. or Mexican anti-dumping and countervailing duties. This is particularly important for our country's softwood lumber industry, which exported product worth billions of dollars to the United States in 2017.
Another benefit is the ease of trade going across our borders. We all know what it is like to wait in a lineup to cross the Canada-U.S. border, and the new NAFTA has new customs and trade facilitation measures that will make it easier for companies to move goods across the border. It will also eliminate paper processes and provide a single portal for traders to submit documentation electronically. Then, of course, there is enhanced regulatory transparency and predictability, which will provide additional assurance for exporters that their goods will make it to new markets.
The other benefit of the agreement is that there is a new chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises, which I believe is going to foster greater co-operation among all three countries in terms of small businesses. It is also going to increase trade investment opportunities. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy here in Canada, and I think they are delighted at this particular addition.
We have talked quite a bit today about the progressive elements of the deal. In particular, I want to mention a couple of them. The first is the agreement's labour chapter. Its key aim is to level the playing field on labour standards and working conditions in North America. It also contains commitments to ensure that national laws and policies provide protections for fundamental principles and rights at work.
The chapter also includes unprecedented protections against gender-based discrimination that are subject to dispute settlement, and there are also specific provisions around sexual orientation, sexual harassment, gender identity, caregiving responsibilities and wage discrimination. Gender equality and women's economic empowerment are important priorities for our government. They are also important priorities in spurring economic development and in making sure that trade works for everyone.
This new agreement is also very strong on the environment. I think that is top of mind for all Canadians right now, particularly since we have now officially declared a national climate emergency. The environment will be top of mind for not only our government but for all governments right around the world. The new and comprehensive environment chapter includes ambitious environmental provisions with core obligations for countries to maintain high levels of environmental protection and robust environmental governance.
Since I have 11 minutes, I will continue with all the benefits of the new NAFTA. I am delighted to be speaking longer on this, and I will continue with the benefits to the environment.
In terms of additional benefits, the updated NAFTA, or the USMCA, also introduces its new commitments to address global environmental challenges such as illegal wildlife trade, illegal fishing and the depletion of fish stocks, species at risk, conservation of biological diversity, ozone-depleting substances and marine pollution. Canadians care about the environment and are delighted that we have these additional provisions.
I always like hearing from third parties in terms of what they think about the agreement, so I want to highlight some of the key third parties and what they have said about the benefits of this agreement. Then I am going to go on as to its benefits for the cultural industry, which is really also very important for my riding of Davenport.
The Business Council of Canada stated:
We applaud your government’s success in negotiating a comprehensive and high-standard agreement on North American trade. The [new NAFTA] maintains our country’s preferential access to the United States and Mexico—Canada’s largest and third-largest trading partners respectively—while modernizing long-outdated elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Also, I have a wonderful quote from one of our former prime ministers, the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, who was the chief negotiator of the original NAFTA. He said that NAFTA got what it wanted and that it was a good deal. Therefore, he wholeheartedly endorsed this as well.
Because we talked a bit about labour provisions, I also have a wonderful quote from Hassan Yussuff, who is head of the Canadian Labour Congress, who said this new agreement, “gets it right on labour provisions, including provisions to protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of gender.”
Therefore, as members can tell, there is quite a bit of support for the new NAFTA, and there are a number of third-party groups who provided these wonderful quotes.
What I would like to spend a couple of minutes on now is the positive impacts of this new updated agreement on cultural industries in Canada. As members may know, Davenport is home to one of the largest communities of artists, creators and those working in the cultural industries. Therefore, whenever I see any new agreements or announcements, I am always looking to see how they are going to benefit artists not only in my community but right across this country. Indeed, there are many benefits.
The USMCA will help strengthen Canada's unique cultural identity, including the French language and the independent Canadian media. The agreement will preserve the Canadian cultural exception that was demanded by Canada, especially in the digital world. It protects our cultural industries and more than 650,000 jobs across Canada. The cultural exception is essential for preserving identity and continuing to showcase our vibrant francophone culture, which is unique in North America.
I want to point out, because I am always proud of it, that I have a really wonderful growing francophone community in my downtown west riding of Davenport. We have a wonderful group called CHOQ-FM, which promotes really wonderful radio programs and really promotes the French language and francophone culture not only across Toronto but beyond.
I want to talk about some additional benefits without a cultural exception, federal and provincial tax credits and program funds to support our newspapers and magazines.
The cultural exception also protects Canada's broadcasting system, ensuring sustained investment in content created and produced by fellow Canadians.
I have some quotes from various leaders within the cultural industry who support the new USMCA and say it is beneficial for the industry.
I will provide a quote from Eric Baptiste of SOCAN, who stated:
Today is a great day for Canadian creators. SOCAN would like to thank the Canadian government for its efforts to defend the interests of the Canadian cultural sector and to provide greater protection for our creators.
I have a great quote from the Canadian Media Producers Association, which stated:
Throughout the NAFTA negotiations, the federal government consistently identified cultural exemption as a key priority. In securing this exemption in the new agreement, [the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs], and the entire negotiating team have stood tall for Canada and defended our cultural sovereignty. We applaud their successful efforts, and congratulate the government on this new deal.
Then I also have a great quote from Margaret McGuffin, who is with the Canadian Music Publishers Association, who stated:
Canada's music publishers and their songwriting partners welcomed the trade agreement reached between the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Finally, I have a wonderful quote from Melanie Rutledge of Magazines Canada, who said, “Magazines Canada's nearly 400 members across the country congratulate” the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and all the other players within the Canadian government who played a role in negotiating this updated free trade agreement. She also said:
We are especially pleased that the cultural exemption applies in both the analogue and digital spaces. This digital inclusion will be critical to Canadian magazines and other cultural industries in the years to come.
As we can see, there is lots of support from artists and those in the cultural industry.
I will also mention a couple of areas where I think it will be very supportive. Canadians are very proud of our health care system and see it as part of our identity. One of the key things we have done is that this agreement continues to support our health care system.
The new agreement is a renewed understanding among Canada, the United States and Mexico on the significance of our mutual trade agreement. It preserves key elements of our trading relationship and incorporates new and updated provisions that seek to address 21st century trade issues to the benefit of all of Canada's provinces and territories.
I did not expect to speak for more than 10 minutes and I have spoken for about 17 minutes now, but it has been a pleasure. This really is a key and fundamental agreement among Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. As I mentioned, our economy greatly depends on trade. Canadians were worried for a while whether or not we would finally have an updated agreement. I think they can now set aside that worry.
We now have that updated agreement in place. We have charted a course moving forward. It gives us a wonderful foundation from which to continue to build our businesses between Canada and the U.S.; Canada, the U.S. and Mexico; and Canada and Mexico. It will serve us well as we develop closer business relations and as we all seek to improve our economies moving forward.
With that, I am going to wrap up my comments. On behalf of the residents of Davenport, I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity to speak to this very important bill. I encourage everyone in the House to support it.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I stand in the House tonight, as the member of Parliament for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, in Nova Scotia, excited to to speak to this important bill, yet saddened, as this will be my last speech in the House for the 42nd Parliament. I have mixed feelings.
In my closing speech for the 42nd Parliament, the theme I would like to speak on is CUSMA. Bill C-100 is a great example of the work our government has done throughout the four years it has been in power.
If we want a country to be strong, we have to ensure Canadians, the business community and all citizens have opportunities. This is the third trade deal we have brought forward.
A couple of years ago, we brought forward CETA, which was a very important deal with the European Union. With that deal, we potentially have access to 500 million people who can purchase our goods as well. We need to remember that under that deal, 98% of tariffs are gone. In the past, it was only 25%. We are opening the market tremendously and there is great potential for Canadians to move forward with important opportunities.
Our second deal was the CPTPP, once again providing us access to 500 million people. We now have access one billion people. It is an outstanding potential opportunity in Asia and the Pacific. We know we have great entrepreneurs who continue to innovate. They are able to sell and trade with those countries.
The third deal is CUSMA, which is extremely important. Of course, it adds access to 500 million people more. We are now have access to 1.5 billion people.
This is a continuation of what is happening in this great country right now. Our unemployment rate has changed from the time we took power. When the Conservatives left four years ago, we had a 7.2% unemployment rate. Today, as I stand before the House, the unemployment rate is 5.2%. It is outstanding.
There has been job creation. Who has created those jobs? Canadians. How many jobs have they created since 2015? Over one million jobs. How many Canadians were lifted out of poverty during that time? Over 825,000. It is very impressive.
What else have we done? We are investing in Canadians to create a strong Canada, ensuring we build a Canada that Canadians can be proud of and from which Canadians will be able to benefit. We brought forward a national housing strategy for Canadians. We brought forward the CPP. We brought forward a national early learning and child care framework. Canadians should just watch us now, though. We are bringing forward pharmacare for all Canadians. This is what we are doing.
It is important to share with members this victory. It is tremendous.
This is such an important victory for Canadians and I have to tell them how it turned out. President Trump was waking up in the middle of the night and tweeting about what he felt the Americans needed if a deal was to be had. He talked about three major areas.
The first one was the five-year sunset clause, or a shotgun clause, whatever we want to call it. If there was no renegotiation on that, the deal was dead. Canada said no. We cannot expect business communities, businessmen and women and business entrepreneurs to invest, upgrade and modernize when they only have five years of guaranteed potential. We know what the Conservatives were saying. From the start, they were saying we should sign any deal. It did not matter, we just had to get it done. However, that is not what we did. We got what we wanted.
The second thing Trump tweeted about in the middle of the night was that we had to end supply management. The Americans did not want that in the deal. Do we have supply management today? Absolutely. That is a very important. The Americans will not flood our markets with their cheap products. We will not have it. We are proud Canadians, and we will continue to defend supply management for all Canadians.
The third thing President Trump said was he could not sign a deal unless we changed the dispute management mechanism. It was important to the Americans that we changed that. Why? Because the Americans were losing 98% of the time when things went to the tribunal. He wanted to do away with the international tribunal and have American lawyers and judges determine what was right and what was wrong in the deal. The Tories wanted to sign. We said it would not happen and it never happened. That also is important.
I think back to when the Conservatives were criticizing us, saying “Sign Sign”, but we stayed on the path. We were successful. The former prime minister of the country, Brian Mulroney, said that Canada did very well. He said it was a great deal. He was speaking, of course, for the Conservatives.
For the NDP, there is no such thing as an NDP deal. The New Democrats are anti-trade. We could not make it good enough for them. There will always be an issue or a problem.
There is one good, solid New Democrat when it comes to trade, and that is my colleague, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. I think he wants to be a Liberal. I believe he is more Liberal than New Democratic. This is what he said:
I just want to congratulate everybody in this room for the fantastic job that you did, for the leadership of Unifor, to be sure, that we can get the best deal possible and protect workers all around this country.
That was pretty impressive for a New Democratic member who really understands the importance of trade deals.
Let us talk quickly about CUSMA. There are certain aspects that we were victorious on, over and above the fact that we told Trump those three were not going to happen, and that he should get over it. I guess he did get over it. He never showed up last week. He sent Pence here. He knows he did not get the best deal for the United States. He knows that Canada got the best deal. He knows the Liberal Government of Canada got the deal done.
Another very important piece we were successful on was labour. We were able to bring a more ambitious and robust piece to the labour portion of the agreement. The new auto rule of origin that we were successful in getting for the auto industry allows auto workers guaranteed work over time. The auto industry is very proud of that.
The environmental changes we brought forward are very important and are incorporated in the agreement. We are talking about air quality, water and marine. They are all very important aspects.
Of course, who can forget the very important gender lens? We are a party that will work to ensure all genders have opportunities. We put in place a mechanism to protect women's rights. It is very important to recognize gender identity and sexual orientation.
We cannot forget this. The Conservatives, NDP, Bloc and the Greens asked us how we could sign a deal that did not remove steel and aluminum tariffs. We knew what we were doing. Not only were we working on ratifying and ensuring we had a the deal, but we did not ratify this deal before the tariffs were removed. The tariffs on steel and aluminum are gone. They are history. We were able to do that successfully.
I want all members in the House of Commons not to forget that Canadians have a victory with this deal. The people from Nova Scotia have a big victory with this deal. This is very important for people from Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook as well. This bill will create good middle-class jobs for all Canadians.
We have strong deals because we believe in industry. Our products, when we have a level playing field, are the best in the world. We are proving that by implementing these trade deals. Canadians have created over a million jobs. Those jobs have been created before seeing the success of these trade deals.
This is a very good deal for Canadians. I am very proud of this deal and I know all Canadians are proud of it.
View Murray Rankin Profile
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-17 23:14 [p.29254]
Mr. Speaker, I was just making the point that the Criminal Lawyers' Association has made, about why mandatory minimum sentences are important. It is because if a criminal lawyer has the possibility, a zero-sum game, that his or her client will get the minimum sentence that is there with no discretion of the judges to forge a penalty that is appropriate in the circumstances, the lawyer is not going to cut any deals. There will be no plea bargaining. There will be no efficiency. Therefore, the greatest single efficiency gain would have been what the Prime Minister promised us would happen, which is that mandatory minimum sentences, the way the Conservatives did it, would be eliminated. That was the promise that Canadians received over and over again, only to be completely thrown out in this bill.
It is a gigantic reform initiative. To be fair, it is all pertaining to criminal law but is a gigantic effort with this gigantic problem completely ignored. It is not a problem that I alone identify as an obstacle to efficiency gains and to addressing the crisis that Jordan represents, of people walking free from very serious crimes because we cannot get a trial in a reasonable amount of time. For reasons that escape me, the Liberals completely ignored that and did a number of other things, some of which are commendable but do not do what the objective of the bill was to be, which was to address the issue of inefficiency. That is the problem that the Criminal Lawyers' Association pointed out.
The courts have been reduced to simply being, as some people call them, slot machines of justice. They have no discretion at all. If the facts are made out, the penalty is there. It is push a button. Some judges have complained to me privately that they feel like they are simply automatons. That is not what judges historically have done. The Conservatives rendered them in this position that is invidious and, frankly, embarrassing to many judges. What they thought they had the power to do, which was to render an appropriate sentence to fit the crime, was thrown out the window when mandatory minimums were imposed on so many of the sentences in the Criminal Code.
We also have a crisis in Canada with the overrepresentation of indigenous women in particular. To his credit, the Minister of Justice referred to this problem. We all are aware of it. It is another national disgrace. Jonathan Rudin testified to the justice committee. He is a very memorable witness. He is a lawyer with the Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto. He highlighted the government's inaction with regard to abolishing mandatory minimum sentences and its particular effect on indigenous women. Here is what he said:
[w]e have to look at the fact that there are still mandatory minimum sentences that take away from judges the ability to sentence indigenous women the way [judges] would like [them] to be sentenced. There are still provisions that restrict judges from using conditional sentences, which can keep women out of prison.
The first thing he urged the committee to recommend was to bring into legislation that judges have sentencing discretion, which the Liberals promised to do and did not.
I suspect the problem is much worse now, but in 2015 the proportion of indigenous adults in custody relative to their percentage of the population was eight times higher for indigenous men and a staggering 12 times higher for indigenous women. Any measure that could address this problem head-on has to be looked at seriously. The government's failure to address what the mandate letter from the Prime Minister told us it would do is a serious missed opportunity.
I would like to turn to preliminary inquiries, which the minister also referred to and was the subject of some of the reform proposals that the Senate brought forward. The Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee passed an amendment to Bill C-75 that would bring back the option for preliminary inquiries for hundreds of criminal offences. Since Bill C-75 was first introduced in the House, the NDP has been advocating that preliminary hearings be retained in criminal proceedings. The Senate is attempting to reverse the government's move to eliminate preliminary inquiries for all offences, except for offences carrying a sentence of life imprisonment.
Senator Pierre Dalphond, a former judge, passed an amendment to bring back the option of preliminary inquiries for most indictable offences, as long as the judge ensures that the impact on complainants is mitigated.
The Liberals argue that this will cost court time, but we heard at the justice committee over and over again testimony that, if we got rid of preliminary inquiries, time saving would actually be marginal and the potential for miscarriage of justice would be great.
While the government has accepted many of the Senate amendments, it is using its motion to continue to severely limit the use of preliminary hearings. We have opposed this measure since Bill C-75 was brought to the House, and our stance, I am confident, remains the correct one.
The Liberals at the House justice committee voted to allow preliminary inquiries only when the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. The other place amended this provision to allow far more judicial discretion, increasing the number of offences that could have a preliminary inquiry from 70 to 463. The minister pointed out that they tried to find some middle ground on this issue.
Overwhelmingly, we heard from witnesses at the justice committee that restricting the use of preliminary inquiries will not address court delays sufficiently and will sacrifice or could sacrifice the rights of the accused. For example, Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt said at the committee that preliminary inquiries occupy a very small percentage of court time but “deliver huge savings to the system. Preliminary inquiries deliver these efficiencies in a number of different ways.” They focus issues for trial, reducing trial length; they identify evidentiary or legal problems in a case at an early stage so the parties can ensure that these problems don't arise during the trial; and they can facilitate the resolution of charges.
He was not alone. Time does not allow me to list all the people who agreed with Mr. Spratt, but they include the Canadian Bar Association; the Criminal Lawyers' Association; the Alberta Crown Attorneys' Association, the prosecution side; various defence lawyers, such as Sarah Leamon, a criminal lawyer; Professor Lisa Silver of the University of Calgary, and on and on, yet the government did not want to go there. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why.
There is also a huge possibility that with taking preliminary inquiries away, there could be a risk that people will be wrongfully convicted. That is what Bill Trudell, the chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, said. The government says we do not need them because we now have what are called Stinchcombe disclosure provisions, Stinchcombe being a famous case requiring the Crown to provide all the evidence available to the defence witnesses. The government says that, as a result, we do not need preliminary inquiries. That certainly is not what these people have said, and on a risk-benefit analysis they think it is just not right. The possibility of a wrongful conviction seems to be something we should all be worried about.
I know that time is running out quickly, but I said I would comment on some of the positive things in the bill, and I would like to do so.
First, there is the elimination of what are called “zombie” provisions of the Criminal Code, which criminalize things that are no longer illegal. These provisions have been found to be unconstitutional and have no place in the Criminal Code.
The bill would restore the discretion of judges to impose fewer victim fine surcharges or not impose them at all. I commend the government for that step as well.
I said in my question for the Minister of Justice earlier that I commend the government for broadening the definition of intimate partner violence. That is a good step. Creating an alternative process for dealing with breaches of bail is another good step. Codifying the so-called ladder principle, which requires that the least onerous form of release be imposed, is a good thing as well.
I agree with the government, and I confess not everybody does, that abolishing peremptory challenges is a positive step. Also, the routine police evidence provision has been amended for the good.
For the LGBTQ2+ community, the vagrancy and bawdy house provisions that were often used in the past to criminalize gay men have been rightly repealed. I am proud of the role that I played at the justice committee in moving those amendments, and I commend the government for finally repealing these discriminatory provisions.
I wish to be on record as saying that there is much in this bill that is commendable. It is the fact of the missed opportunity that is so disturbing.
I still have concerns about the many hybrid offences created in Bill C-75, because contrary to what the hon. Conservative member for Sarnia—Lambton said earlier, all this does is to push them down to the already overburdened criminal courts at the provincial level. The more hybrid offences, which proceed by way of summary rather than indictment, go to the provincial courts, where 95% of all criminal matters already take place. I have talked to people in my province of British Columbia who are very concerned about the impact of this on the administration of justice in that province. Jordan is perhaps not as much of a problem in the superior courts, but is a bigger problem in the provincial courts. Surely, that was not the intent.
I know that I have little time left, but I want to complete the point I made earlier about Madam Justice Marion Buller, the chief commissioner for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She had the opportunity to go to the Senate committee with her report. A number of suggestions were made for reform in the other place and are now in the amendments before this House. I am very happy that that has happened. However, there are still serious problems with some of the legacies of residential schools and the sixties scoop that still need to be addressed.
I believe my time is almost at an end, so let me just say this. I wish we could support this bill. There is much in it that is worthwhile, but the failure to do what the Prime Minister told us they would do, deal with the mandatory minimums, and the inability to address the preliminary inquiries in a more manageable way, are the reasons we must respectfully oppose this bill.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
moved that Bill C-100, An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I want to start by acknowledging that we are meeting on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
I am pleased to rise in the House today to support Bill C-100, the new NAFTA implementation act.
Because of its size and geography, Canada has always been a trading nation. Exports are the very bedrock of our economy and account for fully one third of our GDP. Imports supply our businesses, fuel our production and meet consumers' needs. Naturally, for geographic reasons, a significant proportion of those exports and imports are with our biggest trading partner, the United States.
The vast majority of them cross the border tariff-free because of our North American free trade agreement. The region covered by this North American free trade agreement is now the largest economic region in the world. Together, Canada, the United States and Mexico account for a quarter of the world's GDP, with just 7% of the global population. We exchange goods, services, investment and people in a growing market that now encompasses 486 million consumers and is worth some $22 trillion U.S.
Every day, more than two billion dollars' worth of trade and investment move back and forth between Canada and the United States. Our continental supply chains have strengthened North America's ability to compete and to succeed in the global marketplace, and we benefit from that strength here in Canada.
This successful trading arrangement was the foundation upon which we built the agreement being debated here today, and I am pleased to be here to speak in support of the new NAFTA.
When the U.S. administration announced that it would seek to renegotiate NAFTA, we saw an opportunity to update, modernize and improve a trade agreement that was already a strong foundation for North American commerce. We knew that in order to be effective, it was critical that we present a united front and speak for all Canadians in our negotiation.
We came to the negotiating table united as a country. Throughout our intense negotiations, we stayed focused on what matters most to Canadians: jobs, growth and expanding the middle class. We knew these priorities were Canadians' priorities because we spoke with Canadians, industry, agriculture and labour across the country. We sought advice and insight across party lines and asked current and former politicians, including many premiers and mayors, for their help in shaping Canada's priorities and in championing them.
Crucially, we created a NAFTA advisory council, which counted among its members former politicians from the NDP and the Conservatives, as well as business leaders, labour leaders, agricultural leaders and indigenous leaders.
I would like to pause here to thank the council for the excellent work it has done and continues to do on behalf of our great country.
I would also like to thank Canadians from all across the country, especially from business, labour, agriculture, politicians of all stripes, premiers and mayors for their hard work on the new NAFTA. This was a true team Canada effort, and I am so proud of the way our whole country approached these sometimes difficult negotiations.
I also want to thank my hon. colleagues throughout this House for their advocacy and insight throughout this process. So many of them have been integral to our work.
Throughout the negotiation, we kept our cool in the face of uncertainty and worked on getting a new agreement that would preserve jobs and market access, and in turn, support the middle class and economic growth. We held firm. We held out for a good deal, and that is what we have today.
I would be remiss if I failed to note that a major obstacle remained even after the agreement was signed in Buenos Aires last November: the United States' unjust and illegal section 232 tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
When the United States imposed the tariffs, Canada immediately took retaliatory measures by imposing counter-tariffs. Canada stood its ground, asserting that the tariffs were inappropriate between two countries that not only are key national security allies but also have a free trade agreement. We made that clear to the American administration, members of Congress, union leaders and business leaders south of the border. We also made it clear that it would be very difficult to ratify the new agreement as long as the tariffs remained in place.
On May 17, we succeeded in getting the steel and aluminum tariffs eliminated.
As I said when I recently met with workers in Regina and in Saguenay, here is why we have succeeded in getting those tariffs lifted. We knew the facts were on our side. We knew that Canada did not represent a national security threat to the United States. We knew our trade with the United States in steel is balanced and reciprocal. We stayed united. We were patient. We persevered, and in the end, we prevailed.
Now that the tariffs have been fully lifted, we are ready to move forward with the ratification of the new NAFTA. Our aim was to preserve Canada's preferential access to our largest and closest market, and that is what we achieved. This is essential for our businesses, our entrepreneurs, our farmers, and for the millions of jobs and all the middle-class families across Canada who rely on a strong trade relationship with our neighbour.
We succeeded in preserving key elements of NAFTA, including chapter 19, the all-important dispute settlement mechanism. No trading relationship is ever without irritants. In the case of the Canada-U.S. relationship, we are aware of the importance of maintaining an effective mechanism to settle disputes. For us, this was non-negotiable.
Over the years, we have used dispute settlement mechanisms many times to make impartial decisions for Canadian industry and workers, particularly in the case of softwood lumber.
We also protected the cultural exception. Canada’s cultural industries provide more than 650,000 jobs across the country. Beyond this vital economic role, they are integral to our ability to maintain a strong sense of national identity, tell our stories and express our culture in all of its diversity. By preserving this exception, we will ensure that Canadian culture is protected and that our unique linguistic and cultural identity will not be jeopardized.
NAFTA is an agreement that is a quarter of a century old. In preparing for this negotiation, we heard from Canadian exporters that there were a lot of bread-and-butter issues preventing them from taking full advantage of the deal. We heard what Canadian businesses needed and we responded.
The new NAFTA includes important updates that will modernize our deal for the 21st century and simplify life for Canadian exporters. In fact, in our consultations before the start of the negotiations, we found that about 40% of Canadians doing business with the U.S. did not bother to use their NAFTA preferences at all. It is a stunning number. The new NAFTA will make life easier for business people on both sides of the border by cutting red tape and harmonizing regulations.
Our job as a government is to safeguard economic gains and prevent economic threats. That is what we have done through this modernized agreement.
Consider Canada's automotive sector, which contributes $19 billion to our country's annual GDP. This is a sector that directly employs more than 125,000 people with an additional 400,000 jobs created in after-market services and dealership networks. Unfair tariffs on Canadian cars and car parts would threaten our economy and hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs and the families they support. Canada was able to negotiate a gold-plated insurance policy for Canadian automobiles and auto parts, protecting our industry from future potential section 232 tariff measures by the U.S. on cars and car parts. This provides added stability and predictability for the car sector and reaffirms Canada as an attractive investment destination.
In addition, the new NAFTA's rules of origin chapter addresses automotive manufacturing wages in North America by including a labour value content requirement. This means that a percentage of the value of a tariff-free NAFTA vehicle must be produced by workers earning at least $16 U.S. an hour. This is a provision that should help level the playing field for Canadian workers.
The new agreement seeks to improve labour standards and working conditions in all three countries. The labour chapter contains key provisions that support fair and inclusive trade, such as enforceable obligations to address issues related to migrant workers, forced or compulsory labour and violence against union members. It promotes increased trade and investment opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses through the small business chapter.
Perhaps one of the achievements I am most proud of is that the investor-state dispute resolution system, which in the past allowed foreign companies to sue Canada, will be gone. This means that Canada can make its own rules about public health and safety, for example, without the risk of being sued. Known as ISDS, this provision has cost Canadian taxpayers more than $300 million in penalties and legal fees.
Over the past 25 years, North American trade in agriculture and agri-food products has nearly quadrupled. Canada and the U.S. enjoy one of the largest agricultural trading relationships in the world. It is worth more than $48 billion U.S. a year. Under this new agreement, Canadian exporters will continue to benefit, including new market access for Canadian exports of refined sugar, sugar-containing products, and margarine. This is significant for our farmers and our food industry.
Importantly, the agreement preserves and maintains Canada's system of supply management for dairy, poultry and egg products, despite strong attempts by the U.S. to dismantle it. While the new NAFTA introduces a specific amount of liberalization of market access, the future of supply management itself—production control, pricing mechanisms and import controls—is not in doubt. To mitigate the impact of these changes, the government will compensate producers for any loss of market share and work with them to further strengthen their industry.
Our shared North American environment is vital to our economic prosperity. The new NAFTA will ensure that our trading partners do not gain an unfair competitive advantage by failing to enforce their environmental laws. It also includes a new environment chapter, subject to the same dispute settlement mechanism, to help uphold air quality and fight marine pollution.
We secured a general exception related to the rights of indigenous peoples. We have ensured that the environment chapter recognizes the important role of indigenous peoples in conservation, sustainable fisheries and forest management.
The new labour chapter includes a non-discrimination clause for employment and occupation, and addresses barriers to the full participation of women in the workforce.
We also ensured that LBGTQ2 individuals are supported. In fact, the new NAFTA is the first international trade deal that recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination in its labour chapter.
In renewing and modernizing NAFTA, it is important to underscore the importance of our long-standing and mutually beneficial trade relationship with the United States. Our relationship is special and enduring because of our geography and history. It is special and enduring because of our close business, family and personal ties. It has been a significant contributor to jobs, economic growth and prosperity in both countries.
Our partnership with Mexico is critically important as well, and the new NAFTA will ensure that the trilateral North American relationship remains mutually beneficial for years to come.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank United States trade representative Ambassador Bob Lighthizer; the former Mexican secretary of the economy, lldefonso Guajardo; his successor, the current Mexican Secretary of the Economy, Graciela Márquez; and Mexican Undersecretary Jesús Seade. All of us worked hard together, and in the end, we achieved a win-win-win deal for our three countries.
With regard to ratification, insofar as it is possible, we intend to move in tandem with our partners. I am in very close contact with my counterparts in both countries as we discuss our domestic ratification processes.
Our government's purpose is to create the conditions to grow a stronger middle class and improve opportunities for all Canadians. That is what we have achieved with the new NAFTA, and this is something all Canadians can be proud of.
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2019-06-11 12:14 [p.28897]
Mr. Speaker, the rumours that the Liberals would push the legislation on the new NAFTA through after Mike Pence's visit are now a reality.
Since 2015, we have heard the government talk about its so-called progressive trade agenda time and again. The question that Canadians should be asking about the new NAFTA is: If the Liberals are truly interested in improving the deal, why are they undermining the efforts right now in the U.S. to improve it?
Right now, Congress and labour in the U.S. are working hard to improve the key progressive elements in this agreement. In four separate letters sent to Ambassador Lighthizer, they have laid out their call for stronger language to include labour and environmental provisions. They are also pushing hard to change the intellectual property protections in the new NAFTA that favour big pharma and will lock in high prescription drug costs for all three countries. No progressive party should be arguing to increase the cost of medication for citizens, and on this basis alone, we should support their efforts.
I have to note that it was quite interesting to hear the minister in the House earlier giving her speech. She did not even mention that the cost of drugs will be going up for Canadians. Certainly, I can understand why she would not want to wear that badge proudly, but it is something the Liberals need to be honest about with Canadians. They are now increasing the cost of medication on a whole host of biologics that many Canadians rely on for their health, and that is fundamentally wrong.
This renegotiation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to right the wrongs of the original NAFTA, which has cost Canadians hundreds of thousands of jobs. New Democrats believe that truly progressive trade means working with our partners to improve the lives of Canadians. Instead, it appears that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are choosing to ram this legislation through at the end of Parliament to bow to President Trump. It would be no surprise that Trump wants the new NAFTA signed to put pressure on the Democrats in Congress to back down from their progressive asks, but the real surprise here in Canada is that the self-proclaimed progressive government that claims to value the environment, fair working conditions and affordable medication is now bowing to U.S. pressure. That is not something Canadians are proud of, to see their government not trying to get improvements that would help the lives of Canadians.
We all know that the U.S. is our largest trading partner. I come from a region in southwestern Ontario. My riding is right on the border with the U.S. We have the largest border crossing on the Ambassador Bridge, soon to be the new Gordie Howe bridge. We have a tunnel crossing, a rail crossing and a ferry crossing. We are crossing in every way possible. Goods flow across that border every single day at a very high volume, so certainly, we understand the importance of trade in our region. However, we also have a responsibility to ensure that trade deals are being negotiated in the best interest of Canadians. There is no reason to rush this ratification in Canada.
The minister also said earlier that we are moving in tandem with our partners, but that is false. The U.S. has not even tabled legislation in Congress yet. Speaker Pelosi herself has said that they will not do that until they can come to some sort of agreement with Ambassador Lighthizer. Therefore, to say that we are moving in tandem is completely and utterly false. The U.S. is not moving at all in that process. Of course, it is in part of its TPA process right now; that is true, but to say that it is moving toward ratification is not the case.
The Liberal government could and should join New Democrats in our support of what is happening in Congress and its important efforts. If there is any attempt to improve this deal to protect jobs, workers, the environment and the cost of medication, why would the Liberal government not be supportive of that? It really is bizarre to me.
The Conservatives under Brian Mulroney were the original architects of NAFTA. At the time, they ignored the alarm bells that were being raised about job losses and impacts. The member for London—Fanshawe sat provincially at that time. She told me that at the time everything that they raised, all of the issues they brought forward prior to the signing, are exactly what has come to pass in these 25 years: the incredible number of job losses, the textile industry being completely eradicated in our country, the vintners and our wine sector losing 50%. We have had widespread job loss throughout our country, and for some reason, there seems to be no acknowledgement of that in the House.
The Liberals should not be so quick to make the same mistake. They should listen. Any attempt to improve labour provisions in particular should be supported and championed.
The NDP has repeatedly raised major concerns about the impact this deal would have on Canadians. The new NAFTA has sacrificed our dairy farms, locks in the increased cost of medication for sick and vulnerable people and provides no guarantee that workers' jobs would be protected.
Our number one priority is protecting Canadian jobs. If the Liberals rush this new NAFTA through, they will be sending a signal to working people in Canada that they are more interested in a trophy on their trade shelf than they are in improving the lives of working people who are deeply impacted by trade.
At the heart of NAFTA are millions of people who work every day for a decent life for their families and their communities. I am one of those people. Before I was elected, I was an auto worker in Ontario. I lost my job. I was laid off for three years, because investments were going only one way after the signing of NAFTA. They were heading down south chasing cheaper wages.
Twenty-three years ago, when NAFTA was being originally negotiated by the Mulroney Conservatives, they tried desperately to sell Canadian workers on the idea that it is more than just a trade deal. They tried to make the case that this trilateral deal would bring prosperity to everyone across the continent. They claimed it was going to be an equalizer for all. There is an an analogy they use that really gets to me. They said that NAFTA was a high tide that would float all boats. The only boats that anyone saw raised were yachts and many of the other boats sank.
Working people studied NAFTA carefully at the time, and they began to raise alarm bells that it would not work. Labour and civil society brought their concerns to the streets over the weak side agreements. They rightly claimed that it would do nothing to change the inequalities if they did not improve the deal then.
Conservatives pressed on, and now in 2019, we see the impact this deal has had on every community across our country.
Successive governments have neglected to address the alarming reality that the NAFTA promise of 1994 has not led to an increased standard of living for all. The only benefit has been for those who already hold the power and influence.
Where are we today? Income inequality and wealth inequality in Canada are at a crisis level. Forty-six per per cent of Canadians are $200 away from financial trouble. To say that NAFTA has not played a role in that economic instability is complete nonsense.
As I said, I was an auto worker from southwestern Ontario. I saw the effects of NAFTA every day. When I started working 23 years ago at Ford Motor Company, we had six plants in Windsor and 6,700 people working. Today, we have two plants and 1,500 people working. There is a direct line between those job losses and NAFTA.
Every contract negotiation after NAFTA was signed reminded us that our jobs could go to Mexico in a heartbeat. That was always the threat, and it has been held over the heads of working people in the Canadian manufacturing sector at every contract table since NAFTA was signed.
We saw this at local 88 at CAMI Automotive in Ingersoll last year, where workers were out on the line, on strike, because they were being threatened that their jobs would be moved to Mexico. Not surprisingly, not one Liberal showed up on that line. Those people were living the reality of NAFTA and what has happened to working people.
I am not saying that working people in Mexico and the U.S. have it any better. In Mexico, people are constantly threatened to accept unsafe working conditions and keep their wages low. They are threatened that if they ask for more or better, they will not be able to attract that work away from Canada and the U.S. Labour conditions in Mexico in practice do not reflect their international standards or commitments and the regulations are not enforced. The minimum earned salary in Mexico is $142 Canadian per month. Even that does not meet the monthly minimum living wage in Mexico of $177 Canadian.
How can workers in Canada compete with extremely low unfair wages for workers who are being treated poorly? It is shameful that Canadian companies and global companies are down in Mexico taking advantage of Mexican workers.
In the new NAFTA there is a $16 average wage but many across the labour movement are concerned. When looking at an average wage, it includes the entire plant, including the wages of executives and management. The wages of Mexican workers will not go up at all, because that is what the average wage is going to be. That is if corporations even pretend to try to achieve this at all because, quite frankly, the tariff is so low there is no incentive for them to even follow through with this.
This is a gamble we are taking on the backs of working people once again when we have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. There is the transnational blackmail that is happening between our countries and it has hurt all working people, because we are all connected. Working people are always looking to raise standards for others.
There is the disappearance of a chapter to promote gender equality. When the deal was signed, it included provisions for improving conditions for working women with respect to workplace harassment, pay equity and equality issues, but for some reason, they did not survive the scrub phase and have completely disappeared. What do Liberals have to say about this loss? Where did this promised gender chapter go? I have to be honest. New Democrats do not believe a chapter is sufficient and it is not the answer. There needs to be a full gender analysis and gender impact assessment on this deal and every trade deal we sign, but we have yet to see one from the Liberal government, nor have we been given any indication that this is the direction in which it is going. Once again, women have been knocked completely off the table in this deal, without any explanation from the minister today about why that happened.
The minister did talk about indigenous people. There was a promise of a chapter to promote indigenous rights, but that does not exist in the CUSMA either. Once again, Liberals are signing another trade agreement that disrespects article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that they have to obtain free, prior and informed consent. New Democrats believe that indigenous peoples should not be just delegated to a chapter. They should be at the negotiating table and be considered a full partner in any trade deal. We heard the minister reference a lot of the provincial partners she worked with, but we did not hear her talk about the indigenous partners she worked with at the table because they simply were not at the table in an equal fashion.
There is a lot of uncertainty, and this has been talked about throughout the day, about what is happening in the States, but this is why Congress is working hard to improve this deal. I mentioned that I met with Nancy Pelosi and several other Democrats last week. I told her that New Democrats in Canada support the efforts and the important work that Congress and labour are pushing for in the States. It is quite incomprehensible why the Liberals, who came out with some of their objectives after we forced them to at the trade committee, have let those things completely fall off the table.
We have an opportunity to truly fix the problems in this deal, but it appears the Liberals do not want to be a part of that, and they cannot seem to answer why. Why are we in Canada putting pressure on them and doing Donald Trump's dirty work? Quite frankly, it is mind-boggling. There is this whole idea that somehow we are going to open a Pandora's box, that we all have to be afraid of that, that it is way too scary and we cannot actually improve the deal because we are afraid of what they might do. That is complete nonsense. This is happening in the States. They are pushing for this. There is a precedent of this happening before. In 2007, there were four trade agreements opened at the same time in a very targeted fashion and they were able to make improvements. Why would we not support that? Why are the Liberals fear-mongering to the Canadian public, trying to make people think that better is not possible?
I want to talk about dairy and supply management. Many people know that in the new NAFTA Canada has once again thrown our dairy families under the bus to appease the U.S. The U.S. will gain 3.59% access to our dairy market. On top of the concessions that were in the CPTPP and CETA, that brings the total loss to a 10% market share. I have to ask what other group or sector the Liberals and Conservatives would dare cut 10% of their market share from. That is mind-boggling. For some reason, dairy farmers have become the favourite to throw completely under the bus.
That is not even the worst of it for dairy farmers, who, by the way, are not the wealthy people that some in the House would have us believe. These are hard-working families in my community, in Essex, and across the country. They are people like Mark Stannard and Vicky Morrison. I have been to their farms and know how much pride they put into producing top-quality milk for our communities.
We all know that the bovine growth hormone is used by American dairy farmers and it increases milk production. By the way, that BGH is created by Monsanto. We have absolutely no studies on the effect on human health of this hormone that is being used. We live in a border city, and the people I know would much rather see that little blue cow and know that it is Canadian milk than wonder where it is coming from and what is in it. They would rather pay the prices that they pay, which are honestly right in line with the rest of the globe, to know that they are getting quality milk that is safe for their families.
Another provision in CUSMA grants U.S. oversight of the administration of the Canadian dairy system. While the Liberals like to say that they protected it and they are not dismantling it, now they have to go to the U.S. to get permission to do anything in our own system. This is an issue of sovereignty, and the farmers are rightly raising it and asking why the Liberals have done this. We were forced to abandon our class 7 milk pricing. The agreement also allows the U.S. to limit and monitor our exports, not just to the U.S., but to the world. We have given up far more than just the percentage of market share when it comes to our dairy farmers, and our dairy farmers are certainly not happy about the situation we are in.
I want to talk about the cost of medication. Again, this is a major concession in this deal that the minister did not address earlier and fails to do so at every turn. We pay the second-highest prices in the western world, and the IP provisions the Liberals have agreed to in this deal, to appease big pharma, will increase the cost of drugs for two more years. We have extended the patent. These are biosimilar drugs, such as insulin or Humira, which can treat Crohn's disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
Thanks to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, my colleague, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, initiated a study, and we now know that the estimated drug costs of CUSMA in the first year alone are $169 million. We are literally making medication more expensive at a time when our country is demanding a national pharmacare program because people cannot afford their medication. If we did not know that the Liberals are doing the work of big pharma from the fact that they have not introduced national pharmacare in four years and keep dangling that carrot in front of Canadians, we certainly know that they did it in the new deal. They do not even want to talk about it or the reality of it.
This is one of the areas the U.S. Congress is trying to fix. Again, it is people and patients in all three countries who will pay the price, while profits continue to soar for big pharma. I know there are people who would say that we need that patent extension so there can be more R and D in our country. We are below 4% in R and D. There is no R and D investment happening in Canada. Big pharma has made this promise to us before, when it got an extension on the patent, and it did not follow through on that deal. Why do we keep rewarding it for bad behaviour that is costing Canadians, and Canadians are not even able to take the drugs they need?
The new copyright provisions in chapter 20 raise the term from life plus 50 to life plus 70 years. This is another TPP hangover that again the Liberals have happily signed onto. It would raise educational costs alone by millions of dollars. In fact, when we did the study on the TPP, we had Girl Guides and librarians coming to warn us about this provision and how it would not only cost us money but limit access to these works in our public space.
If we look at things like where we work, what we eat and the drugs we need, these are all things that matter to Canadians, and these are all concessions that the Liberals have made in this deal.
New Democrats will always stand for fair trade that benefits the lives of Canadians, and the new NAFTA is simply not good enough for Canadians in its current form. We are strongly united to see the changes and the work being done in the U.S. go through. We hope that the Liberals will stop this foolishness of ramming this through the House, because there is nothing happening in the States right now until this deal happens, and we hope they will join us to see a truly progressive deal for working people and for Canadians.
To be honest, working people should not be expected to pay the price for bad negotiations. If the Liberals force this legislation through, they are throwing away our greatest opportunity to make trade fairer for Canadians.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2019-06-10 15:31 [p.28819]
Mr. Speaker, the third petition indicates that a CBC documentary revealed that ultrasounds are being used in Canada to tell the sex of an unborn child so that expectant parents can choose to terminate the pregnancy if the unborn child is a girl. An Environics poll found that 92% of Canadians believe sex-selected pregnancy termination should be illegal. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the Canadian Association of Radiologists strongly oppose the non-medical use of fetal ultrasounds.
There are more than 200 million girls missing worldwide. This gendercide has created a global gender imbalance resulting in violence and human trafficking of girls. The three deadliest words in the world are “It's a girl”. Therefore, the petitioners call upon Canada's Parliament to support legislation that would make sex selection illegal.
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2019-06-05 14:16 [p.28575]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to talk about the real and tangible way this government is improving the lives of women and girls. I am talking about the equality fund that our government announced this week. To tackle gender issues, we have to act as a team, because together everyone achieves more.
We are investing $300 million to build a funding platform and bring together the granting, philanthropic and investment worlds and make Canada the leading donor to women's rights and gender equality organizations in the world.
Over the next 15 years, we hope to allocate $1 billion to gender equality. In addition to funding, we will play a leadership role. When we act as a driver of change, other countries are bound to follow.
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