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Results: 1 - 15 of 88
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, for your reference, I will start by reminding you of my interventions from yesterday.
First, our unwillingness to support the free trade agreement is largely due to the threat of outsourcing that mining industries are facing. The government talks about possible compensation for the industry as if this is something that would benefit the industry. Even if the industry does receive that money, 60,000 jobs could be in jeopardy, because there is no guarantee that the money would reach Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean or the North Shore.
Second, this agreement does nothing to address the softwood lumber issue. Thirty thousand jobs are at stake, and we are struggling to save our villages. Many villages, especially in my riding, are depending on these issues and free trade deals, which do not protect the softwood lumber industry. This can be a difficult situation.
As for supply management, the whole issue of income stability is a major challenge for farmers. They need to be able to predict their income, but the loopholes that have been created in supply management are making things hard for them. We are increasingly seeing quotas being sold off.
When my speech was interrupted, I was saying that the United States is imposing limitations on our negotiations with other world markets. I think that, if we adopted an amendment to change that penalty, we will at least have saved our right to do trade with who we want and thus preserved our sovereignty.
There are 10,000 dairy farms in Canada, including 5,600 in Quebec. That is a major industry that employs 83,000 people, either directly or indirectly, and generates over $1 billion in taxes for the Government of Quebec. The industry is not asking for any direct subsidies. It is a matter of pride, and unfortunately, the decisions on compensation will take advantage of that. Dairy producers do not want the government's charity. They want to be independent and successful. Their prosperity is essential to the vitality of the agricultural life of the small family farms scattered around Quebec's towns and villages.
In closing, in my opinion, Quebec is the big loser in this agreement. The compensation was provided at Quebec's expense. The Government of Canada says that it wants us to work together and that it is reaching out to us. That implies being open to Quebec's demands. It is therefore irresponsible to sign this agreement without adding protections for supply management and aluminum and without putting an end to the softwood lumber dispute.
Could Canada listen to the solutions proposed by Quebec? For now, it it is obvious that the federal government has once again abandoned Quebec's economy.
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-02-06 10:18 [p.995]
Mr. Speaker, four years ago the future of free trade in North America was in doubt. At the time, President Trump said that NAFTA was “the worst deal in history“ and campaigned to tear it up. This presented an existential threat to the well-being of Canadians, as so many of our communities and workers depend on free and open market access to the world's biggest economy.
Thanks to the hard work of the Deputy Prime Minister, her negotiating team and Canadians of all stripes and backgrounds, we stood firm against the largest economic threat Canada has faced in recently history. We even did pretty well. Extremely well, I would say, since we reached a better agreement with our partners and friends, the United States and Mexico.
Without a doubt, this is a better deal than the current NAFTA. This is a good deal for Canadians, no matter where they live.
Today I want to focus on the benefits this agreement offers to Quebeckers. The benefits are many, because we stood up for Quebec. Allow me to share some examples. The new NAFTA retains the cultural exemption that allows so many artists and creators to succeed. It even covers the digital world. The new agreement retains the dispute resolution mechanism that was used to defend Quebec's softwood lumber industry. It protects our supply management system, including dairy farmers. It also gives manufacturing exporters and aluminum workers better access to the American market.
Allow me to begin with the cultural exemption. As the former minister of Canadian heritage, as a proud Quebecker and as a lover of arts and music, my province's unique culture is near and dear to my heart.
Quebec itself is near and dear to my heart. Yes indeed, we have a unique culture. Our culture, our way of life, our way of looking at things are what create our identity. We must protect this culture, this identity. It must be protected in traditional media and, especially today, in the 21st century, it must be protected online. The Americans wanted to get rid of this cultural exemption. They wanted to prevent us from being able to financially support and protect our culture, our linguistic duality. Not only did we preserve that right, but we even managed to get it extended to digital media. The Prime Minister drew a line in the sand, sending the Americans a clear message that Canada would not sign without this exemption. No exemption, no agreement.
This will help over 70,000 Quebeckers employed in the cultural industry to continue to thrive.
We stood our ground for Quebec.
Second, I am sure members in the House will recall that the American administration sought to eliminate the dispute resolution mechanism known as chapter 19. We refused to concede to this, and I will explain why.
This mechanism is a critical equalizer in a trading relationship in which we are, frankly, the smaller partner.
It was under chapter 19 that Quebec was able to defend its softwood lumber industry against anti-dumping measures and abusive countervailing duties imposed by the Americans.
The Prime Minister said it was non-negotiable. We gave Canadians our word, and we did not budge.
Once again, we stood our ground for Quebec.
Third, I turn to the agriculture industry, and the supply management system in particular.
Supply management supports thousands of farmers, food producers and their families. Together, they export $5.7 billion worth of agricultural products from Quebec to the United States every year. The U.S. President and his administration wanted to do away with supply management. We said no. Period.
While CUSMA provides incremental access to the U.S., our negotiators overwhelmingly maintained the supply management system of controls on production, price and imports.
The Prime Minister has been clear: We will fully and fairly compensate farmers and processors for any loss of market share, as we did under the trade agreements we signed with the European Union and Asia-Pacific countries.
This summer we announced $1.75 billion in compensation over eight years for nearly 11,000 dairy farmers in Canada. Everyone who applied by December 31, 2019, has received their payments by now. The rest will receive theirs by March 31.
We protected supply management. This will allow Quebec dairy products to remain part of our kids' daily breakfast routine, in Quebec and right across the country.
Once again, we stood our ground for Quebec.
Finally, and more perhaps more importantly, CUSMA preserves and actually increases duty-free access for Canadian goods. For Quebec, this means that key exports to the U.S. will continue to receive duty-free treatment compared to the most favoured nation rate charged on imports that are not from the United States' free trade partners. It also means continued market access for nearly $60 billion in Quebec exports to the U.S., and stability for workers in aerospace, heavy truck, agriculture and aluminum industries.
My Quebec colleagues like to say that the new agreement is bad for our aluminum workers, but that is completely untrue, because the new agreement requires 70% of the aluminum in vehicles to be North American in origin. That is 70% compared to zero. My Bloc colleagues would have us believe that is a step backward, but I see it as a clear win.
We have also increased the regional value content threshold for cars from 62.5% to 75%, which is a major step forward, as car manufacturers will be required to use more of our products, including our aluminum.
Manufacturers are using more and more aluminum in cars because it is lighter, which means that cars consume less fuel. These measures are helping our industry, and our workers benefit from increasing demand. The industry itself supports the agreement. Jean Simard, president and CEO of the Aluminium Association of Canada, said that the new NAFTA is the right way to go.
Quebec's economic community supports it too. Last week, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec called for it to be ratified as soon as possible to end years of economic uncertainty.
In December, Quebec's business sector signalled its support for the agreement. The Conseil du patronat du Québec, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, the Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec and the Conseil de la transformation alimentaire du Québec told us that they want all parliamentarians in Ottawa and all stakeholders to ensure that the agreement is ratified as soon as possible. This agreement is vital for economic growth and for all Quebec regions. Therefore, there is a consensus in Quebec, except for my Bloc Québécois friends and colleagues, who are not really listening. They keep repeating that the agreement will let Mexico import aluminum from China and pass it off as North American aluminum. The opposite is true, as the agreement will prevent that.
At the industry's request, we have put a system in place to track and monitor transshipments of lower-quality aluminum from countries such as China or Russia through Mexico. This will ensure that Quebec's high-quality aluminum is not replaced by cheaper, lower-quality goods.
Once again, we stood our ground for Quebec.
The benefits of the new deal do not stop here. There are also progressive, modern elements in this agreement that align with the values of Quebeckers.
Some hon. members of the opposition mocked the government when we wished to include chapters on labour and the environment. Both of these chapters are in the new agreement, and they are not window dressing. Actually, they are both subject to dispute resolution. This means Quebec union workers will be on a more level playing field with Mexican workers, and it means that the environment we share will not be forsaken in the name of economic growth.
The Canada-United States-Mexico agreement is a good agreement for Quebeckers and for all Canadians. We have made real gains that will help our families. As Premier Legault said, I believe that the Bloc Québécois must defend the interests of Quebeckers, because it is in the interest of Quebeckers for this agreement to be ratified and adopted.
As always, I am reaching out to my colleagues from all parties and urging them not to delay the process, but to work together and adopt this important bill.
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 Tony Baldinelli Profile
CPC (ON)
View Tony Baldinelli Profile
2020-02-05 15:41 [p.962]
Madam Speaker, as I indicated in the House on Monday, it is indeed an honour for me to be taking part in my first debate here on the floor of the House of Commons.
In the short time available to me, I would like to resume debate and provide my concluding remarks on Bill C-4, an act to implement the agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States.
As I had indicated previously, Canada's Conservatives support free trade with our North American trading partners. What we do not support is rushing blindly into an agreement to implement a deal whose details have not yet been shared. I am confident when I say that members on this side are prepared to work with our Liberal colleagues to ensure that this agreement is ratified; however, we need them to be open and transparent about what those impacts will be. We know they have done financial modelling and analysis of how this new free trade agreement will affect Canada's economy, both overall and broken down by sector. Will the Liberals commit to showing all the members of this House these financial models?
We already know that dairy concessions in the agreement will negatively impact the industry. By allowing an agreement to be inked that opened our supply management system, the government will now be using taxpayers' dollars to compensate our dairy farmers, because of their loss in market share. We need to know if there are other industries that we will have to compensate with taxpayers' dollars, because these industries are going to be negatively impacted by this new NAFTA.
As it is, the wine industry in my riding of Niagara Falls is facing an uncertain business environment because of Australia's WTO challenge that would change our current federal excise exemption for 100% Canadian-made wines. This is another important sector in my riding that is waiting and wondering what the government is going to do. We are about eight weeks away from the World Trade Organization's interim report on this trade challenge, and the Liberals are missing in action on this important trade file.
Meanwhile, 700 wineries and 9,000 Canadians are wondering about the future of their jobs. That does not include the thousands of other local spinoff jobs supported by the wine industry, including accommodations, dining establishments and tour companies.
These are a few of my concerns that I have about the new NAFTA.
Parliamentarians need to know the details of what has changed from the existing agreement, who will be impacted and what can be done to provide stability to those impacted business sectors. I think it is certainly imperative that the official opposition be allowed to do our job of examining the signed agreement, not just the Liberals' talking points on the agreement.
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-02-05 16:35 [p.969]
Madam Speaker, this debate on CUSMA is an opportunity to learn the details and ramifications of the agreement. This is not about playing politics. People are just trying to do their jobs. As members of Parliament, our job is to work for the people who are put at risk by this agreement. The Bloc Québécois has never been against free trade. Quite the opposite, actually. However, on this side of the House we will not rubber stamp anything.
This agreement, which was negotiated behind closed doors, once against sacrifices Quebec's economy. It is very sad to see history repeating itself. One example is the aluminum industry, which was sacrificed. We have spoken about that a lot in recent weeks. Another example is the agriculture and agri-food industry and our supply-managed agricultural products. The Canadian government, the same government that promised to prevent further breaches, ultimately sacrificed our supply-managed agricultural products. Once again, the government's defeatist position is that it could have been much worse.
When sacrifices need to be made, it often falls on Quebec to make them. It should therefore come as no surprise if, one day, Quebeckers decide that their interests would be much better served by an independent Quebec, where the Quebec nation could choose the agreements it signs after negotiating them itself.
In the meantime, we are here to promote and protect our people's interests. I repeat: There are no political games being played here. There are only dedicated people doing their jobs.
I want to make members of the House and people across the country aware of the enormous sacrifices that have been asked, particularly of farmers. It all started with the creation of the WTO, which replaced GATT. That is when the first breaches occurred. In subsequent negotiations, foreign countries have called for either the elimination of supply management or a larger share of the market. The Canadian government assured us on many occasions that it would not touch supply management again. It is still saying the same thing when we ask questions about Brexit. Nevertheless, the government has capitulated on several occasions.
On February 7, 2018, the House unanimously agreed to a Bloc Québécois motion to ensure there would be no breach in supply management. One month later, on March 8, 2018, the Liberal government went back on its word by signing the TPP, complete with the breaches the U.S. demanded even though it was no longer part of the agreement. How does that make sense?
Prior to that, on September 26, 2017, the Bloc had moved a motion to fully preserve supply management during NAFTA negotiations. A year later, on November 30, 2018, Canada signed CUSMA, caving in once again. According to dairy producers, the government gave up 1.4% of the market in negotiations with Europe, 3.1% in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and another 3.9% this time around. The last three agreements alone have taken away 8,4% of our market share. According to the dairy producers' numbers, foreign countries will have a total of 18% of our market once these agreements are all fully implemented in 2024. If that is a closed market, I would like to know what constitutes an open one.
None of our trading partners are giving up that much market share. This is appalling. Our farmers will never be able to recover what they lost. The cost to producers alone will be $1.3 billion per year.
Then they talk to us about compensation, but the money is always slow in coming, because it requires intense negotiations. Several sectors still have not reached an agreement with the government, and that compensation will only ever be temporary. Nothing will ever replace the market share we are giving up.
The compensation to the dairy sector needs to come in the form of cheques with no strings attached, because that is what the dairy industry is calling for. If some other industry has different demands, those demands should also be met, because the people in the sector know their own needs.
That compensation should therefore come in the form of cheques with no strings attached, not so-called modernization programs that will force businesses to go further into debt than they can afford.
Nothing, not even compensation, can make up for the income that these market losses will cost them. In any case, all our farmers want to do is work and feed the people. That is something we do not hear often enough in the House. Our farmers are proud. Getting a cheque does not make them happy. It is compensation. That is the right word.
That is why the people in this sector do not want to hear any more promises or vague commitments. Those commitments get made all the time, but they are rarely if ever fulfilled. Only the protection a law would offer can end this vicious cycle that is slowly but surely killing off supply management, our agricultural model, our thriving rural communities, and the dynamic use of our land.
I am not sure that every MP in the House appreciates the gravity of these new breaches.
As further proof that we are slowly but surely losing our agricultural model, for the first time in Canada's history, the Canadian government agreed to give the United States control over what Canada exports to countries that are not signatories to the agreement. It is unbelievable. Canada has relinquished its sovereignty. I admit that it is odd for me to talk about a sovereignty other than the one I usually talk about.
Total exports of powdered milk, milk protein, and infant formula will be limited to 55,000 tonnes for the first year and 35,000 tonnes for the following years. Anything over these limits will be heavily taxed, making it impossible to export higher volumes because the product would become too expensive and therefore no longer profitable or attractive.
We need to understand that the United States retained the right to limit our exports. My colleagues in the House who did not realize this may need a few minutes to take in this information. I was blown away.
Think about the logic. If we cede parts of supply management, farmers could be tempted to make up for their losses by exporting their surplus products under different forms. Even then, there will be limits. They are getting it on all sides.
The current Liberal government appears to have wilfully decided to eliminate the supply management system. It is eliminating the system bit by bit, but does not have the courage to do so openly. It is being sneaky and secretive and eroding this system one piece at a time. I must admit that I do not understand why I am accused of playing politics when I make this information public.
The government is completely destroying our land use model and throwing it out the back door. Is that what we want? Some farmers under supply management are wondering whether they should sell their quota while it is still worth something. Is that what we want?
I have not yet spoken about investments. If the owner of a company that is deeply in debt has no security, will he go a few thousand or million dollars more in debt, jeopardizing the long-term prosperity of his business?
The government is asking us to sign the agreement quickly, often invoking the notion of economic security. I have some news for them: People in the dairy industry need security too.
Supply management should be protected by law.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-05 16:45 [p.970]
Madam Speaker, like many members of the House, the member has no doubt been provided with the opportunity to meet with dairy producers. I had that opportunity yesterday and I am very grateful. I found it to be exceptionally informative on the dairy industry in Canada, which I think provides the best product in the world.
I am very proud that a part of these negotiations that have taken place has secured that sense of commitment to supply management, protecting our dairy farmers and ultimately all Canadians because of the superiority of the product, and the industry as a whole will benefit.
Whether it is the dairy sector or all the other sectors, we have seen a wide spectrum of support, including the premier of the Province of Quebec, labour organizations and businesses. They are saying that this agreement is a step forward for Canada and that we should be supporting it.
Given the type of support we are getting nationwide, including in the Province of Quebec, would the member not agree that we should be voting in favour of it?
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-02-05 16:46 [p.971]
Madam Speaker, I thank my distinguished colleague for his question.
During yesterday's and today's question period, we very clearly demonstrated that when the Liberal government cites the support of Quebec's government, it is very specific and incidental, and it is chosen very selectively.
If my colleague believes that we should always follow the Quebec government's recommendations, he would therefore agree to apply Bill 101 to businesses that do business in Quebec, because that is what Quebec's premier is asking for. He would agree to increase health transfers, because that is what Quebec's premier is asking for. I could go on, but I will stop there.
I just want to mention that I am pleased to have heard him say that he is proud of our producers, the quality product they make, the financial security that brings them and the food security it provides to all citizens of Quebec.
I am pleased that we both appreciate this. I believe that he will also be firmly in favour when we introduce a bill to stop any further breaches in supply management. We have opened up 18% of the market and that is enough.
View Philip Lawrence Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his support for Canada's sovereignty.
I would ask the member if he believes that it would be helpful to hear from the other side about the economic impact that the agreement will have on the dairy industry, and in addition hear the actual details of the package that the Liberal government may be giving to those in the dairy industry in compensation for the loss of their quota.
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-02-05 16:48 [p.971]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the great question and for the joke. A sense of humour is essential for sitting in the House.
He asked a great question. The costs need to be assessed. However, since negotiations are still ongoing for some sectors, that is very hard to do.
I would also like to see an assessment of the cost of the adverse impact on our local farmers and on the use of our agricultural land. That is an important aspect that the members across the way do not seem to care too much about. The only thing they care about is signing the agreement as fast as possible.
We on this side of the House are going to do our job and question every one of these aspects to make sure we fully understand the contract we are signing. I am glad that my Conservative colleague wants to do the same.
View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2020-02-05 17:35 [p.978]
Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure I join the debate this afternoon on the new NAFTA, or NAFTA .7 as I like to call it. There are a lot of things that we can agree on in this new NAFTA legislation but there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Our job here is to review legislation, to review new agreements as they come forward. People in our ridings sent us to Ottawa to make sure we do due diligence on legislation and everyone in this room would agree with that.
I have been listening to members opposite. Some of our Liberal colleagues have spoken to this legislation. To quote a member earlier, “We can always do things...better.” We would all agree with that. That is why we need to look at this agreement through a lens. We need to find out what we received in return for the concessions we made to the Americans.
Canada came to the table too late. Mexico and the United States had been negotiating far too long without Canada being represented at that table. This came down to the eleventh hour. The Mexico-United States agreement had moved far beyond where we left off in our discussions and negotiations with our partners in this trilateral agreement. Members opposite made a mistake. Canada was not at the table soon enough and we were not fighting for our industries hard enough.
We do have a lot of questions with this deal going forward.
I grew up on a dairy and beef farm in Rush Lake, Saskatchewan. I have a lot of friends who are still in the dairy industry. The member from Winnipeg said conversations were had with the dairy industry. Representatives from Dairy Farmers of Canada have been here over the last couple of days, and that is fantastic. Our conversations may be a bit different than what members on the opposite side had.
There are concerns with what has been going on and many questions were asked. Dairy farmers feel that the CUSMA negotiations went far beyond dairy market access concessions. The agreement also concedes the equivalent of a worldwide cap on the export of certain Canadian dairy products. It requires a level of consultation with the U.S. on any changes to the administration of Canada's supply management system.
By requiring the Canadian dairy sector to consult with the U.S. on any proposed changes to our system, the government has given up some sovereignty over our domestic and international decision-making. That is a problem for any industry, whether it is dairy, softwood, forestry or the auto industry. Any time a Canadian industry feels like it has given up some of its sovereignty to another country or given up international market options is a problem for any agreement we move forward on as a government. Those are valid concerns. Some of my friends back home in this industry have big concerns.
CUSMA requires any export of skim milk powder, milk protein concentrate and infant formula beyond a specified amount be charged an export charge on each additional kilogram of product exported globally. This requirement goes well beyond what would normally be expected in a trade negotiation. It will affect dairy exports to all countries, not only the signatories of the agreement, namely, the United States and Mexico. This sets a dangerous precedent for future trade agreements for all other commodities, including agriculture.
These are some concerns that we have to take very seriously moving forward. When an industry says this will set a dangerous precedent for other industry sectors moving forward, that should make us pause and take a step back.
I am looking forward to having some of these conversations when this legislation gets to committee so that we can figure out exactly what we received in return for these concessions with one of our more important sectors. What did we receive from the American negotiators after we conceded quite a bit in our dairy sector in the U.S.-Mexico trade agreement? There are other questions going forward.
Dairy farmers are hard-working people. They have no days off. It is 24-7 work. Dairy farmers cannot have a sick day because the cows still need to be milked. We need to make sure that we have the backs of our dairy farmers when we are negotiating these agreements. They do a wonderful job.
Our milk and cheese products are the best in the world. When we move forward, we should do it together to ensure that we have fair trade deals and that the dairy industry knows we are there for it.
We have had a lot of conversations about a aluminum. My colleagues from Quebec have done an amazing job bringing forward the issue China sending ingots to Mexico, where they are melted down and can then be considered as North American aluminum. We very much need to have conversations about this loophole to ensure our aluminum producers and manufacturers can have their world-class product be considered ahead of a product being shipped into Mexico, melted down and then sent out for auto parts. That conversation very much needs to be had. I appreciate those members bringing the issue forward.
EVRAZ steel is on the border of Regina—Lewvan, my riding. If steel had that deal, then aluminum should have that as well. This is another thing we should talk about at committee. Stakeholders come to committee meetings so we can have these in-depth conversations and figure out how we can help our aluminum sector going forward. These conversations are best suited for committee.
With the time we are given, a lot of issues can be discussed on the floor of the House, but there needs to be more time to go through in detail some of the concessions we made to our American partners.
To go back to my original point, we made those concessions because we were not at the table soon enough. We let Mexico and the United States go too far down the path of an agreement without our being at the table to have those conversations, having a strong voice there to ensure that our industries were supported and that they knew we were there to support them.
Another industry we fell short on was softwood lumber. Softwood lumber suppliers in northern Saskatchewan have concerns about this going forward. We hope that when we get to committee, some of the stakeholders have those conversations with committee members.
We talked about going fast and going slow. My Liberal colleagues have said that we have not been consistent on what we would like to see. The Conservatives would like to see a strong deal. We would like to see all sectors supported. We would have liked to see a government that did not let this go so far down a path that it had to go on bended knee, begging for a good deal at the eleventh hour.
The Conservatives would have liked to have seen strong negotiations taking place long before it happened. We would have liked to have seen the government bring forward the deal before the middle of December so we could actually look at it. We would have liked to have seen an economic analysis on how this deal would affect all these sectors before we voted on it.
The Liberals have talked about the premiers wanting this deal to be passed to allow for certainty. I would like to know how the 16-year sunset clause will be negotiated. Every six years, there is supposed to be a review. What is the process for that to take place?
The Conservatives have a lot of questions going forward. From our standpoint, as legislators we want to our due diligence so our constituents, the people who have sent us here, know we are doing our jobs.
I am looking forward to having these conversations in committee and moving forward. I want to be a partner with all parties in this chamber so we can get the best deal for all those sectors. We want to ensure that we have a stronger economy for all Canadians and that there are good-paying jobs in these sectors going forward.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2020-02-05 17:45 [p.980]
Madam Speaker, I have a couple of points of clarifications on supply management. Of course there will be compensation on the quota and we have guaranteed there will be no more in any future trade agreements related to milk and milk proteins in infant formula. The quota number is much bigger than we already produce and export, so it will not have any immediate effect.
On aluminum, I outlined in my speech three different new benefits for aluminum producers. It is not perfect. If a company wanted to bring in aluminum ingots from Mexico, it could not, as 70% has to come from North America. That protection was not in place before. Parts makers could bring it in, but a lot of them get their supply from the auto producers because they can buy en masse and get a much lower price. Therefore, they would be buying from North America.
View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2020-02-05 17:46 [p.980]
Madam Speaker, I know there have been concessions made in the dairy sector, because we spoke with those groups yesterday. They brought up the infant formula and a few of those other issues and their lack of ability to gain more access to the global market. I appreciate that we will have more of these discussions at committee.
Hopefully, the member opposite will be at committee when the dairy producers of Canada and SaskMilk give their presentation, so he can hear right from the producers how they feel the negotiation on NAFTA .7 went. They do have some concerns moving forward. I look forward to seeing the member at committee for their presentation.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2020-02-05 17:50 [p.981]
Madam Speaker, as this is my first time rising for a debate, I want to begin by thanking the people of my riding, Repentigny, who put their trust in me once again last October. I hope to be worthy of their trust.
I will address two aspects of this debate, namely dairy producers and, of course, aluminum.
I will talk about the lack of consideration for the dairy farmers of Quebec from a completely different perspective than people might expect. That perspective is necessary because we have to find solutions. This is imperative.
I will start by reminding hon. members that Quebec's dairy producers are resilient. They live and breathe their work 365 days a year. They look after their herd, invest in their facilities and prepare the next generation. It is not easy, because the economic outlook is something of a concern.
I invite hon. members to put the numbers aside and give a thought to the human dimension of the consequences of agreements on a top-notch nourishing industry.
The member for Mégantic—L'Érable and the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food came to a sad conclusion in the summer of 2019. They heard testimony from artisanal farmers and agricultural producers who were struggling and facing real psychological distress. If you know what rural areas are like, you know that people in the regions help each other and work together. However, when pressures, obligations and constraints increase, but protections disappear, distress is inevitable.
Would it be fair to think that, since the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food launched a campaign acknowledging that the agricultural industry is struggling, the agreement should work along the same lines instead of causing the industry any additional distress?
In Quebec, the Au cœur des familles agricoles organization has been instrumental in this area for 10 years now. Since 2016, in collaboration with the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and the Union des producteurs agricoles, the organization has trained 1,200 industry workers to recognize psychological distress in farmers and direct them to specialized resources.
As we have said in the House, supply management is an economic model that suits Quebec well. It goes well with our culture. This economic and trade model is what allows for stability and predictability, which was exactly what the agriculture industry asked for during negotiations for this new agreement.
In its current form, CUSMA's provisions and economic repercussions for Quebec's dairy industry are troubling. The Bloc Québécois strongly believes we must condemn all of the harms that our dairy farmers will suffer. We will never stop demanding that this government and the House respect Quebec, and we will never stop calling for consistency and integrity on this file.
We have been doing this for two months now, but I will now set the record straight yet again on the aluminum industry's position on CUSMA.
The House has repeatedly heard that Jean Simard, the president and CEO of the Aluminium Association of Canada, agreed with the current CUSMA. However, Mr. Simard made his position clear to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance yesterday. My colleague from Joliette asked him straight out whether he would rather have had an agreement like the one the steel sector got. Mr. Simard answered that that was what the association had asked for and was about to get, thanks to the efforts of Ms. Freeland and her team. However, at the end of the negotiations, Mexico said yes to steel but no to aluminum for strategic reasons.
Mr. Simard gave the committee an honest answer. We know that a committee involves multiple stakeholders, detailed questions and background work, since members take the time to study the topic being debated by the committee. Mr. Simard's candid answers clearly show that the aluminum industry was hoping to get the same protections as the steel sector.
Where in Canada is there a dynamic aluminum industry with tremendous potential for expansion? Where has this industry been creating jobs for decades, well-paying jobs that allow workers to develop professionally, start a family in their region, and in turn, contribute to the regional economic vitality that all levels of government so desperately want?
Well, that place is Quebec.
CUSMA proposes an economic free trade model that will allow aluminum from China to flood the North American market via Mexico. That is what we have been saying over and over for months now.
Parts manufacturing should be done within partner countries under the agreement. However, unlike steel, the metal used for manufacturing could come from anywhere. Mr. Simard was very clear on that point in committee yesterday.
What we want to hear from the government is simply a statement from the Prime Minister along the same lines as what he said the night of his election victory.
Here is what he said: “Dear Quebeckers, I heard your message tonight. You want to continue to go forward with us, but you also want to ensure that the voice of Quebec can be heard even more in Ottawa. And I can tell you that my team and I will be there for you.”
Were those words meaningless, forgotten as soon as they were said?
The Bloc Québécois wants to work in a proactive and practical way to help Quebec's aluminum industry and obtain fair results. We want to work with the government to find solutions. We refuse to accept that this agreement is already settled and that it must absolutely be signed.
The conditions currently set out in CUSMA regarding this industry will cause serious harm to thousands of Quebec workers and Quebec's economy. Since I am our party's environment critic, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the absolutely essential manufacturing process used by the aluminum plants in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region.
Alcoa and Rio Tinto chose the Arvida aluminum plant to establish a research and development centre called Elysis, valued at over $550 million. Together, they will develop all of the technology needed to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the production of aluminum and produce pure oxygen. Does the Prime Minister remember when that project was unveiled? He was at the project launch in 2018.
The aluminum industry is not only changing and developing its potential with a clean, renewable and nationally-owned source of energy, but it is also producing aluminum using a zero-emission technology developed in Quebec. How many inconsistencies must we point out before the government does the right thing?
Since I am running out of time, I will not talk about the importance of concrete action to reduce GHG emissions. The aluminum industry is on the right track, and I encourage members of the House to review this issue and be honest with their caucuses about what I am saying.
Let me be clear: The Bloc Québécois is not against free trade. Nevertheless, we believe that, in any trade or other relationship, the parties must communicate, be open, negotiate and make compromises. It would be disingenuous to argue that Quebec's economy was not ignored in the CUSMA negotiations. I gave two examples of that. Members of the House of Commons who claim it was not ignored are, in my opinion, acting in bad faith or are misinformed on the agreement.
We will not ignore what industry representatives are telling us. They came to Parliament Hill last week. During the election period, Quebeckers voted for a voice that would raise their concerns here, in this chamber. That is exactly what we are doing and that is exactly what we will continue to do.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, sometimes British Columbia and Quebec seem oceans apart, even though it is all land in between, but when it comes to free trade, there are a couple of things that we have in common.
One of those, of course, is that we produce aluminum in British Columbia as well. The second one, which is very important to me, is dairy on Vancouver Island.
I wonder if the hon. member sees the same concerns that I do. Whenever we cut into dairy production in Canada, we endanger not only the income of farmers but also the quality of our dairy products in Canada because of the lower standards in the United States, and we endanger our food security locally and our ability to supply our own markets with good, high-quality food as well. That is very big issue on Vancouver Island.
I wonder if the hon. member shares those concerns.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2020-02-05 18:03 [p.983]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for speaking about food security.
Some statistics indicate that, without the agreement, 17,700 tonnes of cheese could have been made here with Canadian or Quebec milk, which meets a much higher standard than U.S. milk does.
I completely agree with my colleague that this agreement could put our food security at risk. The Bloc supports milk produced here.
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