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Results: 1 - 15 of 54
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-02-06 10:32 [p.998]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to enter the debate on such an important bill.
I find it very interesting that my colleague across the way, the government House leader, said very emphatically that this is a better agreement. There are some very serious issues that need to be addressed in relation to whether that is, in fact, the case.
In the course of debate over the last number of days, some questions from the Conservatives and other parties have been brought forward. There are serious unanswered questions about the impacts this new trade agreement will have on Canada and our role in the integrated North American market.
I will emphasize that the Conservatives believe very fundamentally in the need for free trade. It was Conservatives who pioneered the first NAFTA. I am very proud that it is part of our legacy. Canada first built a trade agreement with the United States and it was expanded in the late eighties and early nineties to include Mexico. It has left a legacy: Trade with the United States went from approximately $290 billion U.S. in 1993 to $1.2 trillion U.S. in 2018. That is significant, and it affects each and every one of us and each of our constituencies, as jobs are directly affected.
I would suggest that this agreement is simply a reworking of the old agreement. It is referred to as CUSMA, USMCA in the United States, but I would more accurately describe it as NAFTA 0.5 or “halfta”, as I referred to it earlier. It is a bit like a car. The first one was a massive improvement and then one buys a new car. After 30 years, there have been changes and upgrades, but it is really just like a paint job on that old car. A few features have been added, but some pretty serious things, like the power steering for example, have been removed.
One of the big issues opposition members face is that some questions remain. The Deputy Prime Minister said that as soon as the economic analysis is available, it will be available to all members. Negotiating a free trade agreement without the proper economic analysis is troublesome. It shows that the government should have been ahead of some of these very important issues.
Many Canadians have reached out to me to say that it is important we have this agreement, as devastating consequences will happen if it does not go through. However, they are not pleased with the way the negotiations took place, the uncertainty that has existed over the last number of years and, in large part, the actions that left our minds boggled, quite frankly.
The Prime Minister stood up and almost insulted the President of the United States at a press conference, and the President responded quickly with some tweets that said he heard what the Canadian Prime Minister said. That set Canada back. The Deputy Prime Minister participated in some events in Washington as well. Having been a political staffer myself, it should have been the advice of professionals that we avoid doing things that would draw the ire of those we are supposed to find agreement with. However, we saw time and time again that the actions of the members opposite in the last session of Parliament led to some significant sacrifices being made.
I do want to give credit where credit is due. The members opposite asked some officials to speak to members of the opposition this past week in a briefing to give members of the opposition the opportunity to ask questions regarding the new NAFTA agreement. It was very much appreciated, but some of the answers to the questions led to more questions that still have not been answered.
In fact, I find it very interesting that the members opposite brag about the environmental provisions. It is my understanding that many of the environmental provisions that are included in the “halfta” are simply the enshrining of many of the bilateral agreements and trilateral agreements that have been negotiated, from the 1993 version to today. They are simply included in the new agreement. That makes sense, but I find it ironic that the members opposite would claim credit for those all being their part of the agreement when really it has been the concerted effort of not only the government across the way, but of the previous Conservative government and the previous Liberal governments before that, to continue the evolution of trade within the integrated North American market.
One of the members in the other party asked specifically about some of the environmental promises that were made. The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and other members of the government at the time stood up and said that these are their priorities. Our incredibly talented negotiating team has done lots of good work. When asked if the team had accomplished those objectives, the answer was pretty unequivocal in saying, hardly at all. I am not sure if “hardly at all” would represent, in the words of the government House leader, that this is a better agreement, when the lead negotiator is saying that the team did not get what it wanted.
The sunset clause is another great example. When the President's son-in-law, a core adviser, came out and said that the agreement would be reviewed after six years and it would expire after 16 years, it was, in the beginning, a non-starter for the members opposite. They said it could not happen. Suddenly, there are a lot of things that they said could not happen that have happened. Jared Kushner said in an op-ed that was published on CNBC earlier this week that it was imperative that the United States retain leverage in any of its trading relationships. They got the sunset clause, and that leaves the power of this in the hands of the United States.
There are many aspects of the deal that leave significant questions. We have examples time and again where there are questions of trust. Can the government be trusted? I would like to say yes, but many of my constituents remind me on a daily basis and I am pleased to have a very strong mandate to ask some of these tough questions and say that my constituents do not trust the actions of this Liberal government, whether it be on the environment or the caps on vehicle production.
There were not caps before, but there are today. The government members say they are so high that it does not matter. That is not a very optimistic outlook on the Canadian economy.
Regarding steel and aluminum, the Liberals say the 70% is there so it is better than it was before. My understanding is that there was not a need for those caps in the past because virtually all the aluminum specifically came from North America and they could not get the same protections on aluminum that they got on steel. Those are serious questions.
Serious questions are being asked by many of my constituents who are very involved in the agricultural industry, about the supply-managed industries. It drew the ire of the American President, yet many of the stakeholders, farmers and producers in my constituency are facing significant questions about the future of the compensation related to the increased market access and various questions around that. Real questions of trust exist.
I am proud to support free trade and I am proud that our party has been the party of free trade. However, it is important that Conservatives fulfill the democratic obligation that we have to ask the tough questions of this agreement and ensure that Canadians know exactly what we are signing and the long-term effects that this agreement would have on the current status of our country and also on future generations.
We are talking about the economic future of our country, and it is important that these difficult questions be asked.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-02-05 15:11 [p.957]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals brag about their oceans protection plan, but for it to work they need more than words.
They refuse to spend over $150 million of funding. They promise to protect our coasts and the marine species and people who live on them, but they never miss a chance to push dangerous projects like TMX ahead. Our coasts are in danger. Pacific wild salmon are in the middle of a historic crisis.
When will the Liberals stop breaking their promises, invest the necessary resources and protect our coasts?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-02-05 15:11 [p.958]
Mr. Speaker, in the last mandate we moved forward with a historic oceans protection plan, representing one and a half billion dollars of investment in world-class marine protection.
We will continue to make the investments necessary, including the refurbishment, revitalization and renewal of our Coast Guard fleet. We know there is much more to do, particularly around protecting salmon stocks and preserving wild salmon.
We will continue to work with provincial and indigenous partners to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep our coasts protected and beautiful.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak in what hopefully will be one of the last debates regarding the new NAFTA deal before we have officially conclude this and get on with this new deal.
It is important to talk about NAFTA 2.0 or CUSMA or USMCA or whatever we are calling it as an opportunity to modernize the relationship we have with these two very important countries that we have come to rely on and come to work with very well over the last number of years. I say modernize because the global world of trade has changed so much even in the last 30 years or so since this agreement was originally put in place.
Today, I am going to focus my comments on this theme of modernization and specifically talk about the auto and aluminum industries as they relate to that, and the environment and the additional measures put into this agreement as they relate to our environmental protections.
I want to start off by talking about the concept of modernizing this agreement and I think back to my riding. I have a number of different manufacturers in my riding that rely heavily on a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, for reasons that can get quite complex at times because of how complex and intertwined supply chains are. The auto sector is one of those. No longer do we live in a world where an automobile and all its various parts are manufactured within a region and assembled right there in that municipality or jurisdiction.
A lot of people probably do not realize that 80% of the nylon that goes into air bags in vehicles assembled and manufactured in North America comes from my riding. The plant is called INVISTA, and it is a global plant.
The nylon's raw components are brought into my riding by train. They are used to create the nylon. The nylon is made into the rolls. The rolls are then taken and go somewhere else like the States and are transformed into the bags. The bags are then moved to another country in this trilateral agreement or back to Canada again. The same concept applies to aluminum and so many other industries.
The supply chain and how things work in terms of the auto industry, and many industries, have advanced so much that we rely heavily on a trade agreement that allows the different materials to move back and forth between countries. That is why I am really glad to see a lot of the components of the new agreement are focused on auto. At the end of the day, we are seeing that the deal accomplished is one that really takes into account the car sector, and in fact, is a very good deal for the Canadian car sector.
That is where I will link to aluminum, because of the effects that the aluminum industry has on the auto sector and vice versa. What we never had before, as it relates specifically to aluminum, was any particular requirement of where the aluminum comes from that is going into vehicles manufactured and assembled in one of the three countries.
For the first time, we are seeing some real measures being taken. Of the aluminum that goes into vehicles assembled and manufactured in Canada, the United States or Mexico, 70% has to come from within that region. It is very good for our aluminum sector to make sure we are not receiving aluminum from other countries that are just dumping it into our market. It will ensure there are good jobs for Canadians in the future, so we can continue to supply that aluminum right from our individual jurisdiction and the three countries involved in the agreement.
Related to aluminum, I talked about Invista and the nylon facilities that it has, but another company, Novelis, operates an aluminum plant in my riding. I had the opportunity to talk with them on a number of occasions, in particular when the aluminum tariffs were brought in by the U.S., about the anxieties that were being felt.
I will give another example of how it works with aluminum. A lot of aluminum for this plant in particular is mined in Quebec. It is then taken from Quebec to the United States, to northern New York, where it is hot pressed. It then moves back across the border a second time into Kingston, Ontario, my riding, where it is cold pressed.
That is just to get the aluminum into a roll. From that point, it is then going to move back and forth across the border as it changes hands and as products are produced as a result of the aluminum that is mined and refined at these various stages.
That is why I find it critically important to maintain supply chains and put confidence in investors, so that these plants that want to can build on one side of the border or another. We must make sure that the confidence is put in place for them, by making sure that an agreement like this is put in place over the long term.
The last thing I want to talk about, as it relates to the modernization of this agreement, is the environmental protections and environmental standards that are put into this agreement.
When the original NAFTA was being created 30 years ago, there would not have been much emphasis on the environment and concerns that relate to environmental impact. Having the opportunity to go through this agreement again, and to update and modernize it, gives us the opportunity to make sure that environmental components are built into it.
We in Canada take the environment extremely seriously. We realize that there are obligations for us to live up to, in terms of mitigating our environmental impact. We also realize that we cannot do it alone. If Canada is the only one trying to do this, we are going to run into a situation where it is going to become uncompetitive.
In a free trade deal, one needs to make sure that the rules are the same on both sides. In this case, when it comes to the environment, it is extremely important to make sure that the rules in place are fair, and that we are treating the environment roughly the same on both sides of the border with those environmental protections.
That is why we see things put in place like making sure there is an entire chapter in the agreement on the environment, which replaced some side agreements that existed.
We are looking at things like upholding air quality and fighting marine pollution, making sure that we have commitments to high levels of environmental protection, which are extremely important in these trade agreements, and at the same time protecting workers and our planet from potential environmental impacts. We need to make sure that these things exist.
This is why I am highlighting that perhaps it was not something that we particularly wanted in the beginning. It is not something that we sought out, but it actually turned out to be a pretty good opportunity for Canada to modernize this agreement, to fix some of the problems with it and to update it to the current standards of where we are in terms of free trade agreements.
I know that after the hard work that was done by the government, and in particular by the minister who was responsible previously, hard work was done not to accept just any deal. We made sure we got a deal that was good for Canada, good for our values, good for our employees and good for our workers.
That is what we saw at the end of the day here, and I am extremely proud to stand with that minister and with this government in support of this agreement. We have a modern agreement that is up to date and that lives up to many of the standards that we demand now, which we may not have had 30 years ago.
I am extremely proud of this, and I really hope that this is something that can be ratified and adopted by this entire Parliament unanimously. I really hope that we can get to that place.
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
2020-02-05 16:20 [p.967]
Madam Speaker, Canada is a trading nation and the Unites States is by far our largest trading partner. Of our exports, 75% go to the U.S., and 51% of our imports come from the U.S. Mexico is our fifth largest trading partner.
In that context, I am happy to address the House today about the benefits of the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement and to encourage all members in the House to support Bill C-4.
Our government spent over a year negotiating a modernized free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico. Our goal was to negotiate a deal that was good for Canadian workers, Canadian businesses and communities across the country. We negotiated a deal that would protect Canadian jobs, create more opportunities for Canadian workers and their families and ensure the growth of our economy.
From farmers in Alberta to auto workers in Windsor to entrepreneurs in St. John's and Surrey, the new NAFTA will benefit Canadians in every corner of the country.
The agreement we were able to achieve is particularly impressive, given the challenges we faced at the outset. We made the best of a challenging situation, because no other outcome was acceptable.
Trade between Canada and the U.S. is of vital importance. We were dealing with a U.S. president who said that NAFTA was the worst trade deal in history. He was determined to tear it up. He slapped tariffs on our steel and aluminum. What did we do? We stood up for the Canadian steel and aluminum industries, and in the end we won.
Canadians had every reason to be worried about all this. The fact we have a deal is a testament to Canada's determination and patience.
This will be the third major trade agreement signed by our Liberal government. The Trans-Pacific Partnership and CETA are the other two. The ratification of CUSMA will put trade uncertainty behind us. This is a big win for Canada, such a big win that even the Premier of Ontario is on board. Provincial and territorial leaders have urged all federal parties to ratify CUSMA and have warned against playing political games.
The sad truth is that the Conservatives and the NDP do not bring much to the table except political games.
The Conservatives seem to hate it when Canada does well. They say that Canada is an economic failure. They dismiss any good news. They run Canada down. They dismiss the hard work of Canadians who have created over one million jobs in the last four years.
Instead of celebrating the hard work of Canadians that has made Canada and Canada's economy one of the strongest in the world, what do they do? The Conservatives paint a picture of doom and gloom. I encourage the members opposite to stand up for Canada's future, to be proud of Canada's accomplishments, to celebrate what we have achieved together and to ratify CUSMA.
My colleagues from the NDP have joined forces with the Bloc Québécois to drag out the ratification of this trade deal. I am not sure why they want to drag things out, but I am sure that the deal before us is the deal we have and no stalling tactics or delays will change that. Much like the Conservatives, they dismiss the good things that were achieved in CUSMA.
I would think that the NDP and the Bloc would recognize that this deal is progressive trade in action. It has the strongest labour and environment chapters ever to be included in a trade agreement. It removes the investor-state dispute settlement provisions of NAFTA, a key demand of the NDP. CUSMA also has strong protection for women and indigenous peoples.
I am not sure why the NDP wants to delay the implementation of these progressive reforms. We should work together as colleagues, put Canada and Canadians first and get this important bill passed without delay.
In December, Canada signed an amending protocol that makes significant improvements to CUSMA. It strengthens state-to-state dispute settlement, labour protection, environmental protection, intellectual property and the automotive rules of origin and will help keep the most advanced medications affordable for Canadians. These changes are all in Canada's best interest, and they make CUSMA an even better deal.
For residents of my constituency of Surrey—Newton and all of British Columbia, it means access to the U.S. market and the 20.3 billion dollars' worth of exports that B.C. sends to the U.S. every year. It means stability for B.C. workers in the lumber, oil and processed food sectors. It means B.C.'s agricultural goods continue to benefit from duty-free access for nearly 89% of U.S. agriculture tariff lines and 91% of Mexican tariff lines. The agreement also protects the $2.1 billion in B.C. exports to the U.S. market.
CUSMA preserves NAFTA's chapter 19, which gives Canada access to an independent and impartial process to challenge U.S. or Mexican anti-dumping and countervailing duties. That is good news for British Columbia's softwood lumber industry and its $4.3 billion in U.S. exports.
In the previous Parliament, I had the pleasure of sitting on the international trade committee with former MP Linda Lapointe from Quebec. During a trip to Washington, we met with U.S. negotiators and it was Linda who maintained that the cultural exemption component be kept. At that time, U.S. negotiators were not concerned about this issue. However, this is very important for the French language in Quebec and cultural industries throughout Canada.
CUSMA is the result of a long, difficult and challenging negotiation. We made it through and have a deal before us that will help Canadians build a better Canada. Let us pass it and let them get to work.
View Dan Mazier Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, I have heard two members opposite mention the word “environment” and how this agreement is going to save or better the environment. Could the member tell me what specifically in this agreement is going to make the environment better moving forward? What is different now and what specific item of the environment is being saved?
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
2020-02-05 16:30 [p.969]
Madam Speaker, this is different because there is a new enforceable environment chapter included in CUSMA. This replaces the separate side agreement, and it protects air quality and fights marine pollution. We believe that commitments to high levels of environmental protection are an important part of this trade agreement, as they protect our workers and our planet.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2020-02-05 16:51 [p.971]
Madam Speaker, I would like to appeal to the Bloc today.
I am sorry, I do not speak French.
I hope to appeal to the Bloc today with a positive, fact-based discussion about the new NAFTA. I have some credibility in this in that in one of my first speeches, I congratulated the Bloc leader on his positive, fact-based, logical approach to Parliament, which is very refreshing. Therefore, through facts and logic, I hope to constructively provide evidence for the decision that I believe will be in the best interests of Quebeckers and to provide reasons for all of us to make this decision in an expedient manner.
If some members are not here to hear my speech, I will be happy to mail it to them.
I am sure the Bloc members would agree that in any international political realm, things can change quickly. Mexico and the U.S.A. are not exempt. If there is a decision requiring an international agreement that is in our favour, I am sure we would all agree that we should not dally. I mostly want to talk about aluminum, but I will first discuss a few other points.
Quebec is a great manufacturing province. If this agreement does not go through, tens of thousands of Quebec jobs would be at risk. This agreement would give Quebec manufacturing protection from tariffs. Quebec has $57 billion in exports to the United States, so we can imagine how many Quebec workers are at risk.
I believe the Bloc is in favour of environmental protection. This trade agreement has more environmental protection than any of our other trade agreements. Imagine what Quebeckers would lose in marine protection, air quality and other environmental protections if this agreement is not signed.
I am sure the Bloc is in favour of improving women's rights. Again, the advancements that would be made in this area would be lost if this agreement fails. Does the Bloc wish to continue to vote against improvements in women's rights?
I imagine the Bloc wishes justice for labour. Again, this agreement has more advances for labour than any other in history. Does the Bloc really want to vote against this improvement?
Under the old NAFTA, companies were suing our government and weakening local protection of our environment, etc. This agreement would eliminate that. Does the Bloc still want to be held hostage to foreign corporations? Quebec companies have access to U.S. government contracts, a provision that will be lost if the new agreement is not signed. Does the Bloc want Quebec workers to lose these types of jobs?
I am sure the Bloc, like the rest of us, is proud of Quebec culture. This agreement would preserve the cultural exemption and 75,000 Quebec jobs in cultural industries. The U.S. wanted to totally dismantle our supply management in Quebec and all of Canada, but this agreement did not let that happen.
Perhaps most importantly, I am sure the Bloc is sensitive to the poor. If this agreement is not ratified, imagine all Quebeckers paying higher prices on thousands of products, because of U.S. tariffs. Who can least afford that? It is the poor. In any agreement there is give-and-take, but where we have given up something, we can compensate, so that is a win-win situation.
In that the millions of Quebeckers I have mentioned so far would benefit from this agreement and have so much to lose without it, would it not be expedient to ratify it quickly in the volatile international political and economic environment?
There is a saying that perfect is the enemy of the good. We could give up a lot of things to try to get one last detail, but we could lose a lot more and put a lot more at risk than the one item we are trying to correct.
Now I will move to aluminum.
The Bloc Québécois has pointed out that almost all Canadian aluminum is made in Quebec, except for the 10% that is made in B.C., but NAFTA would not have an effect on B.C. aluminum, because its market is Asia. Quebec is the big winner in Canada for the gains made by the new NAFTA for aluminum. What are those gains?
First, the regional value content of automobiles would increase from 62.5% to 75%, a big win for Quebec aluminum. Second, 70% of aluminum purchased by automakers must be of North American origin. This protection goes from 0% under the old NAFTA to 70% under the new NAFTA, which is another big win for Quebec aluminum. Third, seven of the core parts of automobiles must contain at least 75% regional value content. These are the core parts of automobiles, such as engines, transmissions, etc. Given that some of these parts have major aluminum components, it is another big win for Quebec aluminum producers.
None of these great wins are mentioned correctly in the Groupe Performance Stratégique report that some of the Bloc members have mentioned. The report also makes an error in saying that is not possible to change the aluminum requirement for 10 years. Although it will be reviewed in 10 years, it can be changed any time under the auspices of the CUSMA working group on rules of origin.
That report also suggests that six major aluminum projects are on hold because of the new NAFTA, jeopardizing $6.2 billion in investment and about 30,000 jobs. If this were true, which it is not, that number does not come anywhere near the millions of Quebeckers who would benefit from the new NAFTA and the thousands of manufacturing and other jobs the Bloc are putting at risk by not supporting the agreement, as I outlined earlier in my speech.
However, the six investment decisions for the six potential aluminum projects were made prior to the final NAFTA and the aluminum benefits contained therein. Therefore, if anyone is jeopardizing the 30,000 possible jobs, it would be the Bloc because they are putting the benefits of the new NAFTA for aluminum at risk by not supporting it.
I am asking the Bloc to live up to the image I have of them, of being professional, facts-based, logical decision-makers. There are so many benefits for millions of Quebeckers, for the Quebec aluminum industry, for women, for labour, for the environment and for Quebec's great manufacturing employees who are producing $57 billion of exports. Please support all these millions of Quebeckers soon by supporting the agreement, before anything occurs to cause Quebeckers to lose all these benefits.
To give the Bloc members a few minutes to change their minds, I will talk about my riding.
There is benefit in the north for the territories. In my area, it helps preserve 130 or so exports in things like mineral products. There is a general exemption related to the rights of indigenous peoples, which is very important for my riding. Trade facilitation and customs procedures are being modernized, which makes it easier to get across the border in remote locations by using electronic processes. Hopefully that will be very helpful.
There is stability and predictability for Canadian investors and service suppliers who do work in the United States. There is special temporary access to the United States, as well, for those Canadian companies that are providing services or for their investors. They can get in and out of the States more quickly and easily than people from other companies. There is also a new chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises, which is most enterprises in my riding, with enhanced opportunities for promoting small and medium-sized enterprises that are focused on women and indigenous groups.
The other two territories have all the same types of benefits. The Northwest Territories exports $3 million in precious gems. In Nunavut, there are a number of exports including sculptures, so all of these things will help them out as well.
I hope I have convinced my Bloc Québécois colleagues of the many benefits for Quebec and that they won't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but get these things in place as soon as possible, before we are in jeopardy of losing them.
View Brian Masse Profile
NDP (ON)
View Brian Masse Profile
2020-02-05 17:04 [p.973]
Madam Speaker, this deal had to get amended. Why were the labour and environmental conditions not in the original deal?
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2020-02-05 17:04 [p.973]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for giving me the chance to outline the labour advancements in this deal. The labour protections in this agreement are the greatest labour protections than in any of our previous agreements.
There were a number of labour protections in the first agreement but some improvements and additions were made last December to labour, women and the environment to make them even stronger. Those improvements enhanced those items. There were in the original agreement a number of labour provisions and they were enhanced last December to make it even better.
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
2020-01-31 10:19 [p.751]
Madam Speaker, before I start my first speech in the House, I would like to thank my wife, Barbara, and my kids, Shauna, Carolyn, Christina, their partners, their kids, the whole team that helped to get me here including my campaign manager, Brent McArthur, and the voters of Guelph.
It is such an honour to rise in this place today in support of Bill C-4 regarding the implementation legislation for the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement. This agreement encompasses Canada's most ambitious environment chapter to date and it is also complemented by the environmental co-operation agreement.
It is a priority for the Government of Canada to ensure that all of Canada's trade agreements not only advance our commercial interests, but also bring concrete benefits to all stakeholders. By including environmental provisions with our free trade agreements, we support Canadian businesses and ensure that trading partners do not gain an unfair trading advantage by not enforcing their environmental laws.
The North American Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect in 1994, was the first free trade agreement to link the environment and trade through a historic parallel agreement on environmental co-operation, the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation.
The parties committed at that time to maintain robust environmental provisions established on our tri-national institution for environmental co-operation, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
The Canada-United States-Mexico agreement integrates comprehensive and ambitious environmental provisions directly into an environment chapter within the agreement, which is subject to the chapter on dispute settlements.
The agreement also retains the core obligations on environmental governance found in the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. This includes commitments to pursue high levels of environmental protection to effectively enforce environmental laws and to promote transparency, accountability and public participation. This reflects the importance that we place on ensuring that trade liberalization, environmental protection and conservation are mutually supportive.
The agreement also includes commitments that go beyond the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. This includes prohibiting a party from moving away from environmental law to attract trade or investment and ensuring that environmental impact assessment processes are in place for projects having potential adverse effects on the environment.
The new NAFTA creates substantive commitments and many of these are in line with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership on a wide range of global environmental issues, which shows the interconnection of our trade agreements within major markets within the globe.
These protections include illegal wildlife trade and illegal logging; fisheries management; protection of the marine environment and the ozone layer; sustainable forestry; and conservation of species at risk and biological diversity, which also include consultations with indigenous peoples. New commitments aiming to strengthen the relationship between trade and the environment include the promotion of trade in environmental goods and services, corporate social responsibility and the voluntary mechanisms to enhance environmental performance.
For the first time in a free trade agreement, the new NAFTA includes new articles on air quality and marine litter, as well as a binding commitment that prohibits the practice of shark finning. This is a first for Canada. It also recognizes the important role of indigenous peoples in the long-term conservation of the environment, sustainable fisheries and forestry management, and biodiversity conservation to make sure that their voices are also at the table as we move forward.
The agreement provides for an environmental consultation mechanism. Should parties fail to resolve an environmental matter arising under the agreement in a co-operative manner through various levels of consultation right up to the ministerial level, the complaining party may seek recourse through broader formal Canada-United States-Mexico agreement dispute settlement procedures. To help ensure compliance with the environmental obligations, trade sanctions may be imposed by an independent review panel.
While the core obligations on environmental governance apply only to federal legislation, commitments in other areas of the agreement, such as conservation and fisheries, apply to the federal government as well as to Canada's provinces and territories. Provinces and territories were consulted thoroughly throughout the negotiation process.
The agreement maintains and incorporates the submissions on the enforcement matters process established under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, which is a key mechanism to promote transparency and public participation on the enforcement of environmental laws in North America. Under this process, citizens of the three countries may file a submission alleging that one of the three parties is not enforcing its environmental laws. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation secretariat evaluates the submissions and requests from the implicated party to provide information and clarification regarding the enforcement of the environmental law at issue within its jurisdiction.
In December 2019, Canada, the United States and Mexico also agreed to update certain elements of CUSMA, including to strengthen environmental obligations under the agreement. This includes a commitment from parties to implement their respective obligations under specific multilateral environmental agreements, MEAs, that are ratified domestically, as well as the new provision to clarify the relationship between CUSMA and MEAs.
New language has also been added confirming that failure to comply with one's obligations in the environment chapter that affect trade or investment are now presumed to be “in a manner affecting trade or investment between the parties”, unless the defending party can demonstrate otherwise. The environmental provisions are written right into the law of the agreement.
In addition, Canada, the United States and Mexico have negotiated a parallel environmental co-operation agreement that ensures trilateral environmental co-operation continues, supported by ministerial-level dialogue and public engagement as we move forward to improve our targets under the co-op agreement and other international agreements.
The environmental co-operation agreement ensures that unique institutions for trilateral environmental co-operation are created under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation and maintained and modernized going forward. This includes the continued operation of the Commission on Environmental Cooperation, including the secretariat, based in Montreal; a ministerial council, which will continue to meet on an annual basis; and a joint public advisory committee.
The environmental co-operation agreement allows the three countries to establish a work program in which they can develop co-operative activities on a broad range of issues related to strengthening environmental governance; reducing pollution and supporting strong low emissions and resilient economies; conserving and protecting biodiversity and habitats; supporting green growth and sustainable development; and promoting the sustainable management and use of natural resources.
In addition, through the joint public advisory committee, representatives from each country will continue to ensure active public participation and transparency in the actions of the commission. Membership of this committee will be from a diverse pool of candidates, including with respect to gender balance, and will include representatives from all segments of society, including non-governmental organizations, academia, the private sector, indigenous peoples, private citizens and youth.
The environmental co-operation agreement complements the ambitious environmental chapter of the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement. The environmental co-operation agreement will contribute to the maintenance of robust environmental governance and the modernization of the existing institutions for trilateral environmental co-operation.
The Government of Canada is committed to bringing Canadian goods and services to international markets while maintaining our high standards of environmental protection and conservation. We know it is possible, and we have a responsibility to do both. Under this agreement and the new parallel co-operation agreement, we will be moving forward together to ensure we are protecting our shared environment now and for future generations.
View Yasmin Ratansi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Yasmin Ratansi Profile
2020-01-31 10:49 [p.755]
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-4, an act to implement the agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, or CUSMA. For over a year, Canada negotiated hard for a modernized free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico. We knew how important it was to get a deal that was good for Canada, good for Canadian workers, good for Canadian businesses and good for communities across the country.
CUSMA, or the new NAFTA, is a significant milestone in our relationship with the United States and Mexico. The United States, as we all know, is our biggest trading partner. Two billion dollars' worth of goods and services are exchanged every day, totalling about $720 billion per year.
I would like to thank the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the team of negotiators, who worked so hard not only to ensure that Canadian jobs were protected but also to create more opportunities for Canadian workers and their families.
CUSMA, as the new NAFTA is known, has paid off. We have secured a great deal that protects all Canadian communities and benefits Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
What does this ratification mean to all Canadians and to my constituents of Don Valley East? CUSMA will reinforce the strong economic ties between the three countries and support well-paying middle-class jobs for Canadians. CUSMA will maintain the tariff-free market access from NAFTA, which includes the updated new chapters to address modern-day trade challenges and opportunities.
In this speech I will focus on some of the key outcomes of CUSMA as they impact Canadians and my constituents.
First is the environment. The environment has been and continues to be one of the biggest concerns to Canadians. In the last election, 95% of Canadians stated that the environment was their top priority. I am pleased to say that the agreement has a new enforceable environment chapter that replaces the separate side agreement.
What are some of the highlights of the environment chapter? It upholds air quality standards and fights marine pollution. It has an enforcement mechanism through the core obligations in the agreement. It establishes binding and enforceable dispute resolution processes to address any questions regarding compliance. It means robust environmental governance and a win for Canada.
How? Canadian businesses can remain competitive by ensuring that our trading partners do not gain an unfair trading advantage by not enforcing their environmental laws. When all parties play fair on the environment, we can continue to be competitive, grow and expand our economies and get good-paying jobs.
Second is the cultural exemption. Our cultural industry is a robust $53.8-billion industry. Our government, through CUSMA, has protected this industry. The industry represents 650,000 high-paying jobs. In my riding, there are many cultural organizations that are very pleased with the exemption the government has negotiated. This is one way of augmenting the middle class.
The new NAFTA, or CUSMA, preserves cultural exemptions and provides Canada the flexibility to adopt and maintain programs and policies that support the creation, distribution and development of Canadian artistic expressions or content, including the digital environment. That is why the negotiators of team Canada stood firm to protect the cultural exemption and our economic interests during the renegotiation of the new NAFTA.
As I mentioned, this is good for the cultural businesses in my riding of Don Valley East. For example, organizations like SOCAN can count on the stability and assurances the new trade agreement brings. It means they can defend our cultural sovereignty and see that financial benefits go to our talented Canadian artists and the economy.
Many of the creative industry organizations are small and medium-sized enterprises that depend on exporting large amounts of their production to the North American market. It is imperative for the House to implement CUSMA sooner rather than later so that our creative industries can gain from the financial benefits and protections offered through it.
A robust cultural sector enables the growth of innovative businesses that embrace the digital market and increase their cultural exports, which makes Canada stand out globally. To back this up, I will quote from an open letter from creative industry organizations published in The Hill Times on January 27, 2020:
We thank the government for signing the Canada-U.S.-Mexico (CUSMA) trade agreement last year. Under it, copyright in Canada will be strengthened by extending the term of protection by 20 years, to the life of the author plus 70 years.
Third is the auto industry. Canada's auto sector is one of the biggest winners from CUSMA. On November 30, 2019, Canada signed a side letter, which has already been entered into force to protect our auto industry and its high-paying jobs against a possible 232 tariffs on cars and car parts. The new rules of origin level the playing field for Canada's high-wage workers. I am pleased to say that Canada is the only G7 country with that protection. This is a good deal for Canada and Canadian workers.
Fourth is the SMEs. Small and medium-sized enterprises will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new NAFTA agreement. SMEs are the backbone of the Canadian economy and employ more than 10 million Canadians, or 90% of the private-sector labour force. CUSMA includes a new chapter on SMEs designed to foster co-operation among the parties to increase trade and investment opportunities for them, ensuring information is available to the SMEs on the obligations and functioning of the agreement. This is good news for many SMEs in my riding of Don Valley East. Businesses like Conavi, Clear Blue Technologies, 7D Surgical and Volanté Systems will benefit from this trade agreement through continued access to the U.S. and Mexican markets.
The streamlined customs and origin procedures and greater transparency in government regulations make it easier for our small and medium-sized enterprises to do businesses in North America and grow and expand. The the Business Council of Canada has said:
We applaud your government's success in negotiating a comprehensive and high-standard Agreement on North American trade. [It] 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.
In conclusion, CUSMA is good deal for Canada. Millions of Canadians depend on stable, reliable trade with our largest trading partners. We are moving forward with the new NAFTA right away to secure millions of jobs, create more opportunities for Canadian businesses and keep our economy strong.
I hope to see support from all of my colleagues in the House to ratify this important deal.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2020-01-31 12:29 [p.773]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the new NAFTA. I would like to start by showing why this agreement is so important.
More than 400,000 people cross the Canada-U.S. border every day for work. Every day, $2.4 billion in goods cross the border. About two million Canadian jobs are directly linked to free trade with the United States. We now have six time as much trade with Mexico than we had when we signed our agreement in 1993.
Let us also look at the history of why we are negotiating NAFTA. The U.S. president was elected by saying that NAFTA was the worst deal ever made. It was inevitable that any Canadian government was going to have to renegotiate with the United States on NAFTA.
This Canadian government, in my view, did an exceptional job in arriving at a deal that is even better than the previous NAFTA in almost every area. That is sensational when looking at the difference in size between Canada and the United States. The United States has a population that is about nine times bigger than that of Canada.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that Canada is the U.S.'s biggest trading partner in the vast majority of states and that millions of American jobs are linked to NAFTA, there is far less knowledge in the United States on the importance of the trading relationship between Canada and the United States than there is in Canada.
As a result, the team had to deal with numerous challenges in this negotiation, one of which was educating Americans on how important their trading relationship with Canada is. Another was navigating the system in the United States, where the administration was of one party and the majority in the House of Representatives was of another party.
We have now arrived at a point where Mexico has ratified the new NAFTA, the United States Congress has passed it and the U.S. president has signed the bill, ratifying it. We in Canada are now left to decide one thing: Do we go along with our partners in the United States and Mexico and ratify this deal or do we not? I would say yes, we need to do so.
I will talk about a couple of the areas where Canada resolutely defended its position in the NAFTA negotiations.
First, there is chapter 19, the dispute resolution mechanism. We all heard the Americans continually challenge chapter 19, trying to have it removed from the new NAFTA. Indeed, in the initial agreement between Mexico and the United States, that chapter was removed. Canada was able to ensure that this chapter remained, leaving us a dispute resolution mechanism with the United States, something we desperately need in dealing with a trading partner that is vastly bigger than us.
In the course of these negotiations, we succeeded in protecting supply management, something the Americans, who saw it as one of their key issues in the deal, said they wanted us to repeal. We also succeeded in this deal by getting new labour and environment chapters that were not in the previous agreement, things that will be of benefit to Canadian workers and the environment. Indeed, with changes made through the demands of Democrats in the U.S. Congress, the enforcement mechanisms for the labour and environmental chapters are better now than they were in the original deal.
As parliamentary secretary for labour, I am very pleased with the labour chapters in NAFTA. The labour standards that are now established in NAFTA are progressive and fully enforceable. They help level the playing field for Canadian workers and businesses; are a major upgrade from those in the original NAFTA because they protect migrant workers and union members; prevent the import of products made by forced labour; require measures to protect workers against discrimination; ensure that laws and policies that protect workers' rights, like those for collective bargaining and freedom of association, are enshrined; give Canadian businesses a chance to grow; and give workers a fair chance to share in the benefits of free trade. That is something.
In addition, for automobiles to be NAFTA-certified, 70% of the parts used in them have to be made in North America, in Canada, the United States or Mexico. In the current NAFTA this obligation is not there. That is a huge deal for parts makers in Canada that contribute to the auto industry, and it includes steel and aluminum. Seventy percent of the components need to be made in North America.
I understand the concerns that have been expressed about aluminum, but we have to remember that we started with a 0% requirement and are now at 70%. For those parts that are manufactured in Canada and the United States, the anti-dumping measures prevail and, as such, Canadian aluminum producers are doing far better, despite concerns that Mexico may use Chinese aluminum. We do not want that to happen, but that could be happening and is probably happening right now. The deal does not change that issue. It only means that now 70% of the parts need to be made in North America.
While I acknowledge it is true that the deal for steel states that parts need to be poured and melted in North America and it does not for aluminum, that will come into effect seven years from now. We have seven years to see if we can improve stuff on aluminum. However, it still means that the protections for aluminum providers today are better than they were under the previous NAFTA. It is a gain, not a loss.
Another thing that is really important is now a significant percentage of parts need to be made by workers earning more than $16 an hour. That is a huge deal because it means that factories in Mexico with low-cost workers will no longer be able to produce the NAFTA-certified parts under this threshold. That means that more jobs will be kept in Canada and the United States and not moved to Mexico. That is an incredible victory in this deal. Canada has established with Mexico a working group to improve labour standards and working conditions. Mexico is going to need to make labour reforms, especially in areas that are crucial for the implementation of the new NAFTA. The Canada-Mexico bilateral labour working group will ensure that Canadian expertise is available to share our best practices and strengthen co-operation with Mexico. It will bring together Canadian and Mexican experts to help implement the new NAFTA's labour protections and standards. Therefore, when we talk about all of the different things that NAFTA could have been, and we look at the U.S. original negotiating position, this new trade agreement could have been very difficult for Canadians. In the end, this panel of people that Canada has put together, from our professional civil service to our government members working on this, to those many others that helped in the process, including many members of the former Conservative government who aided our current government in negotiating NAFTA, all talked about former prime minister Brian Mulroney, who was intricately involved in assisting our government, and the former interim leader of the Conservative Party, Rona Ambrose. This was a Team Canada effort, as it should be, because when we create a trade deal that is of so much importance to Canadian jobs, Canadian workers and our Canadian economy, it is primordial.
It is primordial to have a first-rate team of people from all over the country who represent labour, employers, unions, individuals from all different groups, including the government, the opposition and everyone. I think Deputy Prime Minister Freeland and her entire team did an outstanding job.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today and speak to this very important issue for the Canadian economy and Canadian foreign policy. I know it is also important to my constituents.
We are discussing the new NAFTA. It is important to be clear at the outset that I and the Conservative Party are very supportive of free trade. We are the party of free trade, and it is important to review how we got here. Before I do that, I will underline our commitment to the importance of free trade, particularly in North America. My party wants to see that happen and wants to ensure it happens in a way that is in the best interest of Canada.
If we go back a few decades to around the time I was born, some people in the House will remember the free trade election in 1988. It was very much a live issue of whether free trade with the United States was good for Canada. The Liberal Party and the NDP's position was that this would lead to a hollowing out of Canada completely, and that the effect of this was, as John Turner said at the time, to make Canada a colony of the United States.
I am pleased to say that our party, as on many other issues, was on the right side of history and has been able to prevail in that cause. We are now at a point where there may not be a universal consensus, but a much greater consensus, on the importance of free trade.
Even as we hear more verbal acquiescence from Liberal politicians and others to the idea that free trade is good for Canada, it is very clear if we look at the record that, even today, Conservatives have pursued trade relations with other countries with a great deal more enthusiasm and vigour.
During the time of the Stephen Harper government, we moved forward and signed trade deals with countries representing over 60% of the world's GDP, including the trans-Pacific partnership deal and the Canada-E.U. free trade agreement. We were also pursing trade negotiations with a variety of other countries that were a bit smaller, but still very important.
The government's celebrated achievements in the last Parliament around trade were really crossing t's and dotting i's on agreements that were negotiated under Conservatives. We applauded the fact that they did not stop the progress that was happening.
As we can see even today, the vigour with which Conservatives support and pursue free trade deals is much greater. We understand that voluntary exchange between free peoples is the basis for prosperity, here and around the world. In a context where that voluntary exchange is between free peoples, where it benefits Canadian workers as it does, there is no reason for the government to get in the way of people's ability to engage in commerce across international borders.
In front of us, we have a situation dealing with NAFTA. To add context, we had the election of an American president who said he wanted to renegotiate NAFTA. He took some positions that were very far out of step with what Canadians wanted, which would not have been in Canada's interest.
The Liberal government now claims as victories the fact that it did not make all of the concessions that were asked for. It says, “We could have lost this”, and so forth, but we did not lose things we could have lost. Hopefully the negotiation was never saying, “You can have exactly what you want.” It is a certainty, and it is clear in the deal and the outcome we have, that the government took the existing position we had, negotiated with the positions proposed and ended up with something in between, something that still lost ground for Canada in terms of our interest.
The Liberal government has argued, although not explicitly, that it was inevitable. Maybe it is not said directly, but the government says it was a difficult context and, given the context, this was the best that it could do. There were various strategic decisions made at the political level that did not help.
I think the government could have, at the outset, put the emphasis on Canadian jobs and Canadian workers. It could have been clearer earlier in articulating the specific focus of Canada's interest, rather than putting the focus on more symbolic issues.
I think the government could also have avoided being directly unnecessarily antagonistic. I, of course, disagree with policies of other governments from time to time. I am not someone who is shy about expressing that, including in the chamber. However, I think the government could have done a better job in trying to miss those opportunities to goad the other side and to make themselves the issue, instead of making Canadian workers and their opportunities the issue.
We now have this deal in front of us. I think it could have been much better, but on the other hand we have to take it as it is. I will say for the government, that we are negotiating deals in a minority Parliament. We see an example of this happening in other countries around NAFTA, where the system requires the President to engage actively with congressional leaders around the details of the deal.
Right now we have a minority Parliament, where the government did not actually get the most votes in the last election. They got about a third of the votes. They got fewer votes than the Conservative party did. The responsible way to negotiate deals, to pursue these kinds of things in the context of a minority Parliament, is to have opposition shadow ministers and members directly involved all the way along and given the opportunity to be actively there, proposing ideas, rather than the government just saying that they are going to be briefed after the fact.
As it happens, Conservative members were very involved in advancing the national interest. They were spending time in the United States advancing the relationship, defending Canadian-American trade and talking about the importance of these things. However, we are still not being briefed and engaged in those conversations in a way, and to the degree, that would be considered automatic in the vast majority of democratic legislatures around the world.
I would ask the government to work to do better on that. If it wants to ensure the success of these kinds of agreements in a minority Parliament, it needs to understand that the opposition has a responsibility to scrutinize them in the national interest and in particular in the interest of Canadian workers.
In the context of trade, we need to reflect on our national competitiveness. In an environment where we are trading internationally, we inevitably have to consider the competitiveness of our economy in relation to other countries. That is one of the reason I think the Teck mine project in Alberta is very important.
We need to ensure economic development. We need to ensure that Alberta is able to develop its natural resource sector. The Teck Resources Limited project, a $20.7-billion project, could be producing 260,000 barrels of crude oil per day. This would be very good for the Canadian economy. This would be very good for our competitiveness. This would be very good for jobs and opportunity in Alberta.
I want to clearly express my strong support for this project, but we have mixed messages and dithering on this from the government. We had the environment minister saying the cabinet could make a decision to improve it, reject it or delay it. Indeed, the Liberals have implied that they might make that decision contingent on certain policy actions at other levels of government.
The reality is that this project has already been through a rigorous assessment. It is a project that is good for the Canadian economy, and I think is consistent with our environmental commitments, insofar as the world will continue to use oil and we should create incentives for the development of new technologies to improve our environmental performance. In that context, and recognizing strong support for this project from indigenous communities, I hope the government supports it.
This is one of many examples of issues that are important for our national economy and for ensuring our competitiveness, and I hope the government will take my support for the project, and that of other members and certainly of the whole Conservative caucus, into consideration as it moves forward.
View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Salma Zahid Profile
2020-01-31 13:26 [p.782]
Madam Speaker, we are here today to talk about the new North American Free Trade Agreement. Whether we call it NAFTA 2.0, the USMCA or CUSMA, this agreement is a testament to the hard work of Canadians from across the political spectrum, from business to agriculture to labour, who came together to put Canada first and present a united front, a team Canada, to reach an agreement that would preserve access to our most important export markets and the millions of jobs that relied on that access.
During these negotiations, over 47,000 Canadians shared their views with the negotiating team, including over 1,300 stakeholders representing small businesses, indigenous groups, women entrepreneurs, academics and youth. The non-partisan advisory council included former Conservative ministers Rona Ambrose and James Moore, NDP strategist Brian Topp and leaders from labour and industry. Their advice and perspective helped make this agreement possible.
I would like to thank the Deputy Prime Minister for her leadership and determination to pull this deal off. Under challenging circumstances, she got an agreement that not only preserves our market access, but makes real forward progress in areas such as protections for women's rights and minority rights, and the strongest ever labour and environmental chapters.
Free and fair trade helps to support the quality middle-class jobs that support families in communities across the country.
My community of Scarborough has a strong industrial base that relies on access to global parts and particularly the North American market. The economies of Canada, the United States and Mexico have become so integrated that before a project is complete, it could move across the border several times.
Falcon Fasteners is a Scarborough company that sells a wide range of collated nails and brads across North America. Any type of nail one can think of, it probably makes it. It has grown from a two-person operation in 1956 to a North American leader today, from its base in Scarborough. It relies both on access to the North American market and access to affordable quality steel to make its products. This trade agreement secures that access and will allow it to continue to grow its business.
Many companies in Scarborough rely on access to foreign markets.
Berg Chilling Systems has provided hundreds of industrial refrigeration systems to customers in more than 50 countries. The Scarborough branch of Héroux Devtek specializes in landing gear for aircraft and serves a global market. eCamion is a developer of leading-edge modular energy solutions. The Cableshoppe is an IT services and solutions company that works across borders to deliver the right technology to its clients.
Those are just a few of the Scarborough-based companies exporting their expertise and leading edge technologies across Canada and around the world. Swift passage of this trade agreement gives them the confidence to continue to invest in and grow their business and create more quality jobs, confident they have a predictable and level playing field on which they can compete. It was not just about getting any deal; it was about getting a good deal.
Let us talk about gender equality. For example, for the first time, this agreement includes enforceable provisions that protect women's rights and minority rights. This includes labour obligations regarding the elimination of employment discrimination based on gender. This is also the first international trade agreement that recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination in the labour chapter.
Why is gender equality so important? A McKinsey Global Institute report estimates that women's economic equality could add $150 billion to Canada's GDP by the year 2026. However, women face barriers to full labour market participation, such as gender-based discrimination and lack of training.
More women participation in the global economy is good for all of us.
Let us talk about protecting Canada's cultural industry.
Canadians are justifiably proud of our arts and cultural community. It is a $53.8 billion industry that represents over 650,000 quality jobs that support our middle-class families from coast to coast to coast. It is not just the actors we see on the screen and the artists whose music we stream. It is the many thousands of technicians and professionals who support their work.
By preserving Canada's cultural exemption, Canada has the flexibility to adopt and maintain programs and policies that support the creation, distribution and development of Canadian artistic expression or content, including in the digital environment, and this is important in the streaming era. That is why we stood firm to protect the cultural exemption and our economic interest. Canada's cultural industries are world class, and we all always defend our cultural sovereignty.
Let us talk about protecting our environment.
My constituents are deeply concerned about climate change and want to see Canada and the world doing all we can to protect our climate and our planet for future generations. I am pleased that the new NAFTA has an enforceable environment chapter, which replaces a separate side agreement. This chapter upholds air quality and fights marine pollution in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Why do environmental protections belong in a trade agreement? It is about a level playing field and protecting the planet by protecting workers in all three countries. Commitments to high levels of environmental protections are an important part of trade agreements.
Perhaps no industry in Canada is more cross-border integrated than our auto industry. Canadian auto plants assemble more than two million vehicles every year. The automotive sector is Canada's largest export industry, supporting over 525,000 jobs and contributing $18 billion annually to our economy. Canada is a global leader in emerging automotive technologies, such as lightweight materials, advanced safety systems, software and cybersecurity and alternative power trains. Free trade is essential to our auto industry, and the new rules of origin in this trade agreement level the playing field for Canada's high-wage worker.
Our negotiators secured a side letter that is already in force. It is a gold-plated insurance policy against 232 possible tariffs on cars and car parts. Canada is the only G7 country with this protection.
This is a great deal for labour, and members' do not need to take my word for it. Jerry Dias of Unifor, one of Canada's largest unions, has said that this is a much better deal than the deal that was signed 24 years ago.
Hassan Yussuff, of the Canadian Labour Congress, said that this deal “gets it right on labour provisions, including provisions to protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of gender.”
It is not just labour. Business is on board as well.
The Business Council of Canada said, "We applaud your government’s success in negotiating a comprehensive and high-standard agreement on North American trade."
Saskatchewan Premier Moe called this trade deal good news for Saskatchewan and Canada. Premier Kenney of Alberta said he was relieved that a renewed NAFTA had been concluded.
The renewed NAFTA defends Canada's farmers, it offers new protection for our auto sector, it protects out culture and it sets out new labour standards for gender and minority rights and environmental protections.
Let us have a robust debate. Let us implement this trade agreement. Let us keep Canada's economy growing. This is a progressive trade agreement that will benefit our economy for years to come.
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