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View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-04 13:23 [p.28487]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address some of the failings of the Liberal government over the last four years and reflect upon just how disastrous it has been.
The heckling continues over there. The Liberals never miss an opportunity to get some good heckling in. Our colleagues across the way are chirping loud and doing all they can to throw us off. However, it will not work. I have been chirped at by the best and they definitely are not the best.
I rise today to talk to Bill C-97, the budget implementation act. Essentially, it is an extension of the government's attempt to cover up what could be actually the biggest affront to our democracy in our country's history. It has attempted to cover up potentially the biggest corruption at the highest levels of our government, and that is the SNC-Lavalin case. That is what we are seeing here today. I bring us back to that again because I feel I have to. The gallery is packed. I know Canadians from coast to coast to coast knew this speaker was coming up.
I would be remiss if I did not remind Canadians from all across our country that it was day 10 of the 2015 election when the then member of Papineau committed to Canadians that under his government, he would let the debate reign. He said that he would not resort to parliamentary tricks such as omnibus bills or closure of debate. He also told Canadians around that same time that he would balance the budget in 2019. Those are three giant “oops”, perhaps disingenuous comments. I do not think he has lived up to any of them at this point.
As of today, the government has invoked closure over 70 times. Why? Because the government does not like what it is hearing. If the Liberals do not like what the opposition is saying and they do not want Canadians to hear the truth, they invoke closure. This means we cannot debate really important legislation. They limit the amount of time for debate on that legislation. The BIA, Bill C-97, is just one of them. Does that sound like letting the debate reign? It does not.
It is interesting that whenever things go sideways for the Prime Minister, a couple of things happen. We see him even less in the House or something always happens to change the channel. That is what we have today.
Bill C-97 is really just a cover-up budget. We have talked about that. It just goes in line with more and more of the government's kinds of wacky ways, where it says it will spend money and perhaps it doles it out. However, the money is not really going to things that Canadians need the most.
We see $600 million in an election year being given to the media, a media that is supposed to be impartial. That is a $600 million bailout.
We also know that in the previous budget, approximately $500 million was given to the Asian Infrastructure Bank. That $500 million is not being spent in Canada for one piece of an infrastructure.
I rose to talk about a few things. One of the things that is really disappointing for me is this. When the Liberals came to power in 2015, a lot of promises were made, and this one hits home for us. I have brought this up time and again in the House. The Liberals said that they would put an end to the softwood lumber dispute.
I think it was in 2016 that the Prime Minister stood in the House and told Canadians that he was going to have a deal done within 100 days. He had a new BFF, the Minister of International Trade Diversification said. Both were just giddy. They were going to get this deal done and put an end to the softwood lumber irritant once and for all, yet last week, we found out from the Senate Liberal leader that the Prime Minister had other priorities ahead of softwood lumber.
Over 140 communities and over 140,000 jobs are tied to forestry in my province of British Columbia. Forestry is a cornerstone industry in my province, yet it was not a priority for the Prime Minister in renegotiating his NAFTA deal.
What we are seeing with the Liberal government is that rural Canadians are just not its focus.
Last week I also met with some real estate folks and some Canadian homebuilder folks. They told me that the Liberal government's B-20 stress test and the shared equity program, which is geared toward trying to get Canadians into homes, is actually hurting that industry. The real estate industry is saying that the B-20 stress test, which was geared more for Toronto and Vancouver markets but is all across the country, impacts rural Canadians negatively .
Almost $15 billion has been kept out of that industry, meaning that it is harder for Canadians to get into the home ownership they strive for. It is a step into the middle class. People put money toward something they own rather than putting it into something that someone else owns. The government's failed B-20 policy and the shared equity program is hurting Canadians. It is another example of how Canadians are worse off with the Liberal government.
I will bring us to a couple of years ago. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Minister of National Defence all have it down pat. They can put their hands on their hearts and say that they really care, yet it is the same Prime Minister who told veterans that they were asking for too much.
Yesterday was a very important day, because we saw the closure of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls commission and we saw its report. The government knew that this day was coming, but did it put any money in the 2019 budget for that? There is nothing.
The Liberals like to say that Canadians are better off than they were under our previous Conservative administration, but it is actually the opposite. Canadians are worse off since the Liberal government took over. Eighty-one per cent of middle-income Canadians are seeing higher taxes since the Liberal government came to power. The average income increase for middle income families is $840. The government's higher pension plan premiums could eventually cost Canadians up to $2,200 per household. The Liberals cancelled the family tax cut of up to $2,000 per household. They cancelled the arts and fitness tax credit of up to $225 per child. They cancelled the education and textbook tax credits of up to $560 per student. The government's higher employment insurance premiums are up $85 per worker. The Liberal carbon tax could cost up to $1,000 per household and be as high as $5,000 in the future.
The Prime Minister called small businesses tax cheats. The government's intrusive tax measures for small businesses will raise taxes on thousands of family businesses across Canada.
The list goes on and on. Bill C-97 is just the capping of a scandal-ridden administration, and to that, I say, good riddance.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today in the House and join this concurrence debate.
I know this issue was discussed yesterday, but since this is my first time rising since it happened, I do want to add my voice to those of many others who have expressed condolences for the victims of the terrible terrorist attack targeting the Muslim community in New Zealand, and express my solidarity with the victims and all those who are in some way affected by this event.
I also want to highlight growing concerns about the persecution and violence targeting Christians in Nigeria. This is something I have been hearing about from constituents and I know it is a concern for many members in the House as well.
I want to set the stage with respect to the context of the debate. There is some discussion back and forth about the procedure that brings us here.
The opposition has moved a concurrence motion with respect to a report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. It is interesting to hear members of the government speak as if we just should not use the opportunity to bring forward concurrence motions that reflect important public policy issues, but instead we should only debate the things that the government puts on the agenda. This reflects a certain misunderstanding about the role of the opposition and what we are here to do. It is perfectly legitimate for the opposition to put forward motions with respect to committee reports and other issues that reflect public policy issues and reflect what we hear from our constituents. There is nothing illegitimate about the opposition doing its job in that way.
Members of the government would like to talk about aspects of their own legislative agenda, but they need to understand that this is not just about a government and an audience. This is about a government and an opposition. This is how the House of Commons is supposed to work.
We know the government would like to, and on multiple occasions has attempted to, reduce the powers and prerogatives of the opposition to indeed reduce us to a mere audience. However, this Conservative opposition has not and will not go quietly in that respect. It is important for us to assert the prerogatives of members, to assert the important role of the opposition and to use the tools that are available to us, yes, to raise, through concurrence and other measures, important public policy issues, but also to use these tools as a way of challenging the government to do better in other areas.
For instance, we have said that the former attorney general should be able to testify before the justice committee with all of the fetters off. She should be able to actually talk about why she resigned from cabinet and events that happened afterwards. Up until now, the Prime Minister and the government have not allowed that to happen. We have, in a number of ways through parliamentary procedures, highlighted the unwillingness of the government to allow that conversation to take place. Now we have members of the justice committee who are trying to shut down hearings into what happened involving the Prime Minister, the former attorney general and SNC-Lavalin. Therefore, we are very concerned about that.
We hear concerns from Canadians. They are looking for answers and want us as the opposition to use the tools that are available to us to seek answers, and certainly we are going to continue to do that. Therefore, we make no apologies for being an efficient and effective opposition; for standing up for what Canadians are saying; for raising issues around infrastructure, around the Champlain Bridge; and also for raising issues around corruption, dealing with the government. These are things we are going to continue to highlight, whether members of the government like it or not.
Parenthetically I will say that in some of the speeches and comments we have heard from members of the government, they have talked about Bill C-92, which is the legislation that apparently the Liberals were intending to bring forward today. I will draw to the attention of members the fact that Bill C-92 was tabled in the House the last Thursday before the break. Therefore, in terms of sitting days, it has been tabled here for about three days.
Canadians know that the government has been in place for approaching three and a half years. Certainly, these issues around child welfare and indigenous child welfare are important issues for discussion. The government could have moved forward with the discussion of this issue a long time ago. The Liberals could have put forward reforms that they thought appropriate much earlier in their mandate and we would have already discussed these changes and have moved forward with them. However, the government is waiting until the last possible minute to put these things forward and tabling it. Then right away the Liberals are saying that anyone who puts forward other motions and other issues for debate in the House is somehow obstructing this.
The Liberals have been way behind the eight ball in putting forward proposals in this area, and now it is someone else's fault. Their failure to take action, their failure to move the discussion forward earlier, is not something that should lead to the opposition losing its opportunity to raise other issues as well. Their lack of management of the House calendar and their own legislative agenda does not somehow create a requirement for the opposition, especially when all the Liberals would have had to do to facilitate greater co-operation in the House on matters of agenda and procedure was allow the former attorney general to speak at committee without the kind of restrictions the government is continuing to put on the former attorney general.
Canadians want and deserve to hear what she wants to say, and she wants to speak about those things as well. If the government would like to move forward, the first step is to listen to Canadians and let the former attorney general address all the issues around this sordid affair and then allow Canadians to make their own judgment.
I would like to address, in particular, the issues raised in the concurrence motion. This is report 4 of the Auditor General, which deals with the proposal to replace the Champlain Bridge in Montreal and the issue of extensions and late fees being paid by the government. It is another case of Canadians paying in the form of late fees for the mistakes of the government.
We see so many areas in which Canadians are paying more as a result of the mistakes of the government. We are seeing, as a result of that, attempts by the government to raise people's taxes. We know that those attempts to raise taxes are not the end of it from the government. Indeed, this out-of-control spending is the same thing we saw from the Kathleen Wynne Liberals in Ontario. When there is out-of-control spending, it leads to subsequent proposals from the same government for higher taxes.
We have a critical window of time to fix those failures, to get back on track in terms of spending, to address the deficit, to control the areas of failure that are costing Canadians and to thus prevent this kind of situation where taxes will have to go up.
Moving forward on the Champlain Bridge is an important project. It is a process that began with the previous Conservative government, but we have seen a failure to move this forward effectively by the current Liberal government. This is representative of a larger problem in terms of the infrastructure policies of the government. The government has failed to deliver on infrastructure in many different areas. The Liberals talk a lot about infrastructure. They have made a lot of promises about infrastructure, but they have failed to deliver.
Let us start from the beginning on the infrastructure file. The first minister of infrastructure, who is from a neighbouring riding in the Edmonton region, was very concerned about the infrastructure of his office. He was very concerned about developing the infrastructure where he and his political staff would be operating. Huge amounts of money were spent on renovations in his office, and this was widely discussed within his constituency and the surrounding area. I heard those discussions. When the priorities of the infrastructure minister should have been infrastructure Canadians use, such as roads, bridges and so on, so much in the way of public dollars went into renovating the infrastructure of his office instead.
We see repeatedly from the government announcements and reannouncements of the same projects, projects, in many cases, that were previously put in place, and a lot of the work done, under the previous government, yet we see a lack of action.
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister and eight of his ministers fanned out across the country to reannounce infrastructure announcements that had already been made, which provided more opportunities for photos and selfies. However, the Liberals, when it comes to infrastructure, as in so many other areas, are all talk and no action. They are not moving forward. We see that on all sorts of key infrastructure, including the Champlain Bridge.
I would add that while there is a failure to move forward on Canadian infrastructure, the government made a decision to make a big investment in something called the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the AIIB. The AIIB is headquartered in Beijing and really is a tool of China's foreign policy to build infrastructure throughout Asia. We have seen the way the Chinese government seeks to build infrastructure as a way of extending its political influence and control throughout the continent. There is the example of a port constructed in Sri Lanka. It has raised big concerns about Chinese control and influence as a result of the way this port project has proceeded.
There are many different cases through the so-called belt and road initiative, whereby the Chinese government seeks to extend its influence by spending money on these kinds of projects. One might understand why the Chinese government sees it as in its national interest to do so. However, what I do not understand and what constituents in my riding do not understand is why it is in Canada's interest to be spending Canadian taxpayer dollars on building infrastructure in Asia through a vehicle that is designed to advance the foreign policy objectives of the Government of the People's Republic of China. That does not make sense to me and my constituents, and I do not think it makes to taxpayers anywhere.
While putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is building a pipeline in Azerbaijan and projects outside the country, we have had a failure to move forward with vital infrastructure projects here in Canada.
I have raised the issue of the dissonance between the eagerness to invest in infrastructure overseas and the failure to invest in infrastructure here in Canada. The government's response is that this is about Canadian companies now having the opportunity to bid on these projects. The Liberals say that if they give money to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, this vehicle of China's Communist government's foreign policy, Canadian companies will be able to participate in these projects. That would be an interesting argument, if it were true.
When I was in Beijing last, I visited the headquarters of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to discuss its procurement policies. It said very clearly that it has an open staffing and open procurement policy. Therefore, any company from anywhere in the world, theoretically, has the same opportunity to bid on their projects, regardless of whether the country in which that company is headquartered is a member of the bank. That was the Liberal government's one argument for putting hundreds of millions of dollars into this foreign infrastructure bank: it would provide opportunities for Canadian companies to bid. However, Canadian companies already have those opportunities.
Canadian nationals already have the opportunity to work for the bank. In fact, when we went to Beijing, we met with a Canadian national who was working for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Therefore, the Liberals' only argument for hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money going to these projects falls through. It would not have been difficult to find that information.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: How much money did Harper put in the Asian bank?
Mr. Garnett Genuis: My colleague is heckling with a question he can ask during questions and comments. I think it was about how much other countries are putting into this bank.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: No, how much did Harper put in?
Mr. Garnett Genuis: He is asking about the previous government. The previous government of Canada did not participate in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. It chose not to. That decision was aligned with the decision, for instance, of the Barack Obama administration in the United States, which raised significant concerns about accountability and issues around human rights related to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. However, the Liberal government, in its eagerness to curry favour with the Chinese regime, put hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into that bank.
The issue I hear from Canadians is that they are supportive of a focused, objective-driven, compassionate international development policy, but they do not see why we should give money to an organization affiliated with the Chinese government that is building infrastructure as a way of advancing its foreign policy, when we have dramatic unmet infrastructure issues here at home that the government is simply ignoring.
One other aspect of infrastructure, although it has historically generally been infrastructure built by the private sector, is the issue of pipelines. We see a total failure of the government to move forward with pipelines. The former infrastructure minister, now the natural resources minister, has been no more successful moving forward natural resources infrastructure than he was in his previous portfolio directly dealing with the issue of infrastructure.
We see many areas of failure with the Liberal government when it comes to infrastructure, pipelines and prioritizing the needs, interests and values of Canadians. As a result of those failures, Canadians are paying for the government's mistakes.
If members are wondering why the government's focus seems to be off here and why it seems to have missed basic points about things like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, it may be because it is distracted. It may be because its focus has so narrowly been on its own strategic interests and on covering for the damage to its political reputation that is coming about as a result of the SNC-Lavalin affair.
The government's effort to manage this message without actually coming clean on the reality is really unbelievable. The latest announcement on the government's approach to responding to SNC-Lavalin was that it is going to appoint a former Liberal cabinet minister, who is still actively involved in fundraising for the Liberal Party of Canada, to provide some kind of independent advice. That is quite something. That would be like asking Stephen Harper to provide non-partisan advice. Clearly, when one brings in a former politician who has long been affiliated with and continues to support a political party and claims that this person is going to provide independent advice, that is a transparent attempt at misdirection.
There would be a simple solution to the government's efforts to manage the message, and that would be to actually come clean, open up the doors, recognize that sunlight is the best disinfectant and allow all the conversations that need to happen to happen. What would that look like? It would mean allowing the former attorney general to come to committee to speak without the restrictions of solicitor-client privilege or cabinet confidence. The government tried to play this sleight-of-hand game on this issue by saying that it was going to waive these restrictions, but only up to a certain point and not after a certain point.
The Conservative deputy leader, the member from Milton, was very clear in asking questions at committee and received very clear answers from the former attorney general. Was she able to speak about why she resigned from cabinet? No. Was she able to speak about conversations that happened after? No. Was she able to speak about the possible continuation of pressure or clarify the nature of the pressure, discussions and information that came to her afterwards? No, she was not.
We know now that another member of the cabinet has resigned. The Prime Minister's principal secretary has resigned, and the Clerk of the Privy Council is leaving. We have four major resignations associated with this affair, but nothing is wrong, according to the front bench. It is incredible that the Liberals would try to sustain this narrative that nothing is wrong while we have this continuing spate of resignations. That does not include the large and growing number of members of the Liberal caucus who are saying that they are not running again. We cannot, of course, know the exact cause in every case, but there has been a significant spike in announcements of not running again ever since this affair broke.
This affair stinks. We need answers. Let the former attorney general speak.
We are seeing many cases of failure by the government to proceed on infrastructure issues, failures that are costing Canadians more. These are important issues to highlight and discuss in this House.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
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.
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