Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Yukon.
I am pleased to rise in the House this afternoon to speak in support of Bill C-4. It is important to restate that Canada did not choose to renegotiate NAFTA. When confronted with the reality that our major trading partner was intent on replacing NAFTA, our government put in place a negotiating team that positioned Canada well as we began the process toward a modernized free trade agreement that, as my colleagues have stated in the House from time to time, has the overwhelming support of the House of Commons.
I have listened to much debate in the House and have heard various criticisms of parts of the renewed trade agreement, but members have not offered how they would have negotiated differently in those areas. While it is easy to pick apart points and say, “We would do it better”, Canada is a country of some 38 million people and our largest trading partner is a country of well over 300 million people. The official opposition would have Canadians believe that we could have simply gone to Washington and dictated to the U.S. every term we wanted in the agreement.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Ridiculous.
Mr. Robert Morrissey: It is ridiculous. Trade agreements are negotiated between multilateral partners and countries. This particular one was between three countries, obviously: Mexico, Canada and the United States.
Canada, more than most, is dependent on trade. As a country of 38 million people, rich in natural resources, agriproducts and seafood, we depend on selling products worldwide in a competitive marketplace in order for Canada's economy to grow and succeed and to pay for the many programs that we as Canadians take for granted.
In these negotiations, I have to compliment the team that our government put in place to negotiate, at a critical time, a historic new agreement that will put in place, for Canadian businesses, Canadian farmers, Canadian fishers and Canadian workers, a secure framework as we move down the road and continue to grow and expand the economy.
Imagine for a moment standing here today in an environment with no agreement. Where would our industries be positioned? It is important to consider, in any particular trade agreement, which partner has more to lose and which partner has more to gain. For Canada, being a very small country compared to the U.S. in population and market size, it was extremely important that our negotiating team recognized that we had to have an agreement that served Canadians well and served Canada's economy well.
I have no problem going on the record to state that this agreement is a win for Canadians, a win established by a strong negotiating team that understood the dynamics and fundamentals of Canada's economy and ensured that the parts that had to be protected were protected.
I will not go into detail on the economic impact of this particular agreement, because it has been well debated in the House by earlier speakers. However, there is no question that Canada will be better positioned to move forward when the agreement is ratified than it would be if we had no trade agreement at all.
It is important to go back to how we arrived here. It was with a president intent on removing a trade agreement that had worked for a number of years, serving both countries well. That has been documented by speakers on both sides of the House. The agreement has served Canada and the U.S. well over the years.
It was extremely important that our government, being the smaller country population-wise in these trade agreements, secure an agreement that would be beneficial to all those sectors.
A couple of the last speakers basically portrayed the scenario that it was all wins for the U.S. and none for Canada. I believe that most fair-minded analysts would take a look at the agreement and say that Canada won on a lot of points, that Canada's team succeeded in a difficult environment and scored some big wins for us.
One of those wins that has been mentioned time and time again was that, from the outset, this government's line in the sand was always that supply management would remain in place. That was a major win in these trade negotiations, because at the start of this the U.S. administration was intent on seeing Canada's supply-managed system dismantled. That was a position that our government clearly would not waver on. There was room for negotiation, and at the end of the day we still have a sector that enjoys the benefits of operating in a supply market system.
My riding of Egmont is in the province of Prince Edward Island. Prince Edward Island is to Canada what Canada is to the U.S. Prince Edward Island is a province with a small population, and we depend on trade for our agri-products as well as seafood products. We very much depend on our national government to ensure that we have competitive trade agreements so that our goods move to market in a profitable manner and Prince Edward Island's industries remain protected that require it. Those industries that operate in a free market system do much better under this agreement, as was pointed out with the other agreements we signed with Europe and are now being negotiated with the Pacific Rim.
It is easy for opposition members to say that we should have done better in some areas, and we could have done better in some sectors, without offering what they would have exchanged to get to where their preferred position would have been, yet that is the role of the opposition. The opposition members can pick away at the government without offering up what they would do in our place. However, the government has a responsibility to ensure that at the end of the day Canadian entrepreneurs, farmers and fishers operate in a stable market environment with ensured protections. Some of the key areas that were protected are dispute settlement mechanisms, investor-state dispute resolution and the area of supply management.
As I indicated, Prince Edward Island is very small, and our dairy industry is very competitive. During this process, I met extensively with the dairy farmers in my riding. Let me read into the record a fact. Prince Edward Island has 1.7% of Canada's total dairy quota, and that quota has been growing at 3.5% annually, compared to the rest of Canada's at 2%, because the demand for domestic supply is moving. Over six years, that realized a 21% increase in market demand for Prince Edward Island's milk in a supply market system.
The industry is still growing and expanding. I recently had the honour of sitting down with some of the dairy farmers, the largest processors in my riding and the Minister of Agriculture and discussing what areas we had to continue to improve on to ensure that this industry remains competitive and small, medium-sized and large processors are competitive on an international market place.
I am pleased with this agreement. I certainly will be supporting it. I look forward to when this very important deal, which trumpets the accomplishments of this country, will be ratified in this House.