Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise again in this place to speak to the concerns I have about Bill C-30, legislation to enact the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.
There are a number of fallacies that have come up in the debate today, and I will try to address those. They relate, by the way, to the investor-state provisions, which I believe to be the key and most unacceptable part of the trade agreement. However, I want to make sure I do not skip over the other concerns that have been raised by many in Canada and in the European Union.
One is that this trade agreement will absolutely make pharmaceutical drugs cost more in Canada. There is no question about this. By giving greater patent protection, it will postpone the moment when drugs go to generic form, when they become much more affordable. The estimates are that it will increase the cost of pharmaceutical drugs anywhere between $800 million and $1.6 billion.
Let me give the reasons why. This is what the comprehensive economic and trade agreement commits to and that Bill C-30 would implement. It would commit Canada to creating a new system of patent term restoration that would delay the entry of generic medicines by up to two years. It would lock in Canada's current terms of data protection, making it difficult or impossible for future governments to reverse them, and it would implement a new right of appeal under the patent linkage system that would create further delays for the entry of generics.
If this trade agreement is in the interest of big pharma, the pharmaceutical industry, which I would have to mention is an economic sector that does not need a handout, can we accept that the prescription drug business, the pharmaceutical industry globally, does very well for itself and does not necessarily do well for those who need life-saving drugs?
This relates to the debates we have had in this place about the need for pharmacare and a national pharmacare program. It is even in the mandate letter to our Minister of Health to pursue bulk purchasing of prescription drugs to try to bring down the price to the level we could get if we had a national pharmacare plan, when all prescription medication could be purchased centrally to try to drive down the cost.
The reality is that the single largest growing cost within our health care system is the cost of prescription drugs. I want to reference the hard work of my hon. colleague from Oakville, Terrence Young, who lost his seat in the last election. His daughter died from taking a drug, as prescribed by her physician. Her name was Vanessa, and in the last Parliament, we passed Vanessa's Law.
It is very clear that the drug industry charges more than what it costs to produce a drug, because it can. This is the last sector on Earth we should be wanting to give yet more advantages to make the price of drugs go higher.
At the same time, litigation relating to pharmaceuticals, the notice of compliance proceedings dealing with full patent infringement, has been termed by Canadian Lawyer magazine as streamlining litigation, again, to the benefit of the pharmaceutical industry. It has a very effective lobby. Hats off to the pharmaceutical industry in Europe and in Canada for getting its own way under this agreement, but that does not mean it is in the interests of Canadians.
I am also very concerned, as is the Green Party, about the protection of procurement. This has to do with the rights of municipalities and other government sectors to say that they want the right to choose where they procure their products. They want to say that it is okay to preference their local suppliers. That will not be possible under CETA.
We also know that the way this agreement is structured around intellectual property leaves a lot to be desired and does not adequately protect Canadian companies in the large, more predatory global marketplace.
Getting to the misconceptions, one was, I thought, rather unexpected in this debate. Just to put it to rest, I heard a number of Conservative MPs use this debate on the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union to rail against having a carbon price. This was a very unusual place to make that argument, since the European Union has carbon prices. Why, in a debate on CETA, would we hear distorted arguments about the economic impact of putting a carbon price in place? It is rather the contrary. If Canada does not put a carbon price in place, we might find ourselves at the other end of discriminatory tariffs brought forward by the European Union, because they have done so, and they want trading partners to do so as well.
Other fallacies have to do with the way in which we characterize investor-state dispute resolution. It is very important that we distinguish and differentiate between terms of trade agreements to resolve disputes over trade. We have those in NAFTA. We have those in CETA. We have those at the WTO. When there is a dispute over a tariff or an alleged subsidy, there is a dispute process that resolves trade disputes. The investor-state provisions are not those. Investor-state provisions have nothing to do with resolving trade disputes. That may seem counterintuitive, but let me back up. Trade dispute mechanisms within treaties are state-to-state. If Canada has a problem with Belgium, or Poland has a problem with Canada, the investor-state dispute resolution is entirely different.
If we go ahead with CETA, it would give a Polish company the right to sue Canada if any government, state, provincial, municipal, first nations, or a court decision, made a decision that interfered with that corporation's expectation of profits. Therefore, it is not state to state, as it would be in a trade dispute. It is corporation to government.
Let us use a real life example from my home province. The people of Kamloops, B.C. are busy fighting a proposal for a large open-pit mine within the town limits. It is called the Ajax mine. It is being proposed by a Polish state-owned enterprise. Kamloops is a mining community with other mines. It is not as if it is against mines, but the majority of people in Kamloops do not want an open-pit mine in the town limits. If CETA is not in place and the Government of British Columbia decides it will not go ahead with an open-pit mine, that is the end of the story. B.C. can make a decision and Kamloops can make a decision. However, with CETA in place, it would not be the end of the story. The Polish mining company, Ajax mine, could do what Bilcon from New Jersey did under chapter 11 of NAFTA. When its open-pit mine on Digby Neck, Nova Scotia was turned down by the Conservative government of Nova Scotia and the Conservative government federally, under the previous environment minister, John Baird, Bilcon went for a secret tribunal under chapter 11 of NAFTA and sued us for $300 million. Did it allege we were wrong on the science? No. Did it say this was a secret protectionist move to protect trade in Canada? No. It just said it did not think the environmental assessment process was fair to it.
Ajax, the Polish mining company, would have the right to bring secret arbitration cases. The one thing that is different under CETA is the process would not be a secret. There would be an investment court. However, there would be no room at the table to have litigants representing the public interest. No environmental group would be allowed before the so-called investment court to argue this was a reasonable decision that our government made.
Therefore, the presence of these agreements really needs to be much better understood, investor-state agreements, the chapter 11s or sometimes called FIPA, the foreign investor protection agreement, such as the one Prime Minister Harper secretly passed in cabinet, which binds Canada to the year 2045, so the People's Republic of China has the right to sue Canada and we cannot get out of it until 2045.
These agreements need to be better understood as fundamentally corrosive to democracy. They do not belong in trade treaties. They have nothing to do with advancing trade. They are all about reducing the power of sovereign government and increasing the power of transnational corporations. That is why I will be voting against Bill C-30.