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View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Madam Speaker, I am thankful for this great opportunity to share some wisdom on this very important bill, Bill C-4, on CUSMA, which is the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement.
However, before I get into the bill, I will speak about the economy. Trade deals are linked to the economy, and the economy here in Canada after five years of Liberal government is very strong compared to what it was when we took office.
Let us look at what has happened. What has changed in the last five years?
We have seen 1.2 million jobs created by Canadians. We have seen over one million people lifted out of poverty, with 353,000 of those being children, which is over 20% of the poverty rate in Canada, and 75,000 being seniors, mostly women. These are big and important numbers.
As well, we are seeing the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years. These are the factors that are clearly stating how strong this economy is and how strong our government is, which has been focused on tax cuts and helping the middle class and those who want to join it.
Trade deals are extremely important to Canadians, and every province and territory is very happy with this trade deal. We had a trade deal before, but this one is new and improved.
We also have the CETA trade deal, which encompasses half a billion people. In that trade deal we have seen 98% of the tariffs removed, whereas in the past it was 25%. Members can imagine how the business community feels about that trade deal today. I know what the business community has to say about it my constituency.
As well, there is the CPTPP, the trans-Pacific trade deal, which, again, encompasses half a billion people. Between the three trade deals, we have a market of 1.5 billion people. In the Asia-Pacific deal most of the tariffs have been removed and 100% of the seafood tariffs are gone. Members can imagine that in my region of Atlantic Canada and in Nova Scotia this is a great opportunity to increase our exports, and it is extremely important.
How important is CUSMA, the Canada-U.S.-Mexico deal? It is $2 billion per day, which is an enormous sum, and 80% of Canadian exports go to these countries.
Who is supporting this trade deal? It is not just us. The premiers are saying they are behind this trade deal, which is important, and I will talk more about it, but we know that Premier Moe, Premier Kenney and company, as well as Brian Mulroney, do. The business community is happy. The unions are happy.
However, they say Trump is a good negotiator. Let us look at the three things he wanted.
First, he wanted a sunset clause at five years when we would have to renegotiate or the deal would be dead. However, that is not in there. We took that out and it is now 16 years.
Second, he wanted the end of supply management. We are the party that introduced supply management, and we are the party that is promoting supply management. We will continue to support supply management because it is important to Canadians.
Third, Trump wanted a dispute resolution tribunal where there would be American judges and courts. Do members think we would have agreed to that? Maybe a Conservative would have, but we did not agree to that. We then added another important piece where the Americans could not stop and must participate in tribunal panels, where in the past they could say no.
These are three key areas where our government has been very successful in negotiating with the Americans.
Let us bring it back to Nova Scotia. What does this trade deal represent to Nova Scotia? It is extremely important because $3.7 billion is spent by Americans in Nova Scotia. That is an extremely important investment yearly, as my colleagues can imagine. That is 68% of all our trade products leaving Nova Scotia and going to the States.
That means there are 18,000 jobs directly related to this trade deal for Nova Scotians. That is 18,000 directly related jobs; I forgot to mention the 7,000 indirect jobs. Colleagues can imagine how we feel in Nova Scotia. The premier, Mr. McNeil, said that this is a great deal for Canada and a great deal for Nova Scotia. That is a very clear message.
I want to talk about a company in my riding just down the street from me, Marid Industries. It is a steel industry and today it knows that with this deal it will be able to be competitive and move their products to the States and Mexico without tariffs. That is extremely important. That is making sure that it can move forward. These are great-paying jobs for the people who work in that industry.
Catherine Cobden from the Canadian Steel Producers Association said:
CUSMA is critical to strengthening the competitiveness of Canadian and North American steel industries and ensuring market access in the face of persistent global trade challenges and uncertainty.
That shows good, strong support from the steel industry.
Of course, we are seeing the strongest amendments in this trade deal when it come to labour and environment, two major areas that Canada is pushing forward. We are making sure that we have some criteria around strengthening labour standards as well as enforcement and inspection standards. That means that wages being paid will create a level playing field. It also affects work hours and conditions. Those are essential pieces to ensure that the playing field is level which is extremely important.
In the environment, as colleagues know, we have added some obligations in the fight against marine pollution. The other piece of it is air quality.
I must also mention pharmacare because in the last amendments we were able to remove the 10-year restriction on generic drugs, which is extremely important.
We have added new chapters protecting women's rights, minority rights and indigenous rights and that provide protection against discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. These are all important chapters that are in this trade deal and are so essential.
As well, there are cultural exemptions, which help all Canadians, including those in Quebec. That is very important.
We have work to do. We know that in a trade deal there is a bit of trade here or there. The poultry and egg industries have opened up a small percentage, 2%. We are compensating them not only for loss, but also supporting them so that they can purchase better and more up-to-date equipment. The products will then be better able to be traded internationally, opening up that potential market as well.
This is a very important deal. I am extremely proud to support this. The people in my constituency are just waiting for this to be ratified as soon as possible.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague's powerful speech.
This infamous document raises many questions about the agricultural sector. For instance, we know that dairy producers have been using a lot of fat for the past few years, so much so that they have a lot of protein left over for export.
Going forward, the United States will be deciding how much of those dairy products we can export. That will be 55,000 metric tonnes in the first year of the agreement and 35,000 in the second year. In subsequent years, those limits will increase by only 1.5% or 2%, although we were exporting up to 100,000 metric tonnes a year when there were no restrictions. How can the government put our supply-managed agriculture to work for the U.S.?
Furthermore, we conceded 3.9% of our supply-managed market to the U.S., and that is after dairy farmers' incomes had already been reduced by 8% under the first two agreements. We can only imagine what will happen with this added on.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
I realize, as my colleague should also realize, that you have to give a little to get a little in any negotiation.
One thing is certain: We were able to preserve supply management, which the U.S. President wanted to eliminate, as I explained in my speech. In Canada, we all know, as does my colleague, that supply management is extremely important. It is too bad that our former colleague Maxime Bernier is not here, because he opposed supply management and he certainly would have something to say.
Under this agreement, Quebec will receive $57 billion as a result of exports to the United States. This is definitely a very important agreement for Quebec, too.
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-03-11 16:54 [p.1954]
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois has always been in favour of free trade. The free market allows for growth that would never be possible in a closed market. Quebec needs free trade agreements to help all of its economic sectors grow and innovate.
For example, after the original NAFTA was implemented in 1994, exports of Canadian fruits and vegetables and fresh fruit to Mexico and the United States increased by 396%. The majority of the exports were to the United States. It is essential that we retain this access.
The new CUSMA will ensure that businesses have continued access to the American market, and it will have benefits for many producers. We recognize that. Some producers will come out on top, in particular grain producers. The improved definition of grain is a positive.
A few minutes ago, my NDP colleague mentioned eliminating the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. That is another positive. A number of organizations are therefore calling for this agreement to be ratified quickly.
However, there are some sectors that do not benefit from the agreement. They sometimes benefit very little, or not at all, yet they are the economic mainstay of our rural areas, the pillars that support the dynamic use of our vast land. Like culture, these sectors may need an exception. As members may have guessed, I am, of course, talking about our supply management sectors.
We in the Bloc are working constructively and will be long remembered for the solutions we proposed for the aluminum industry. In fact, our Conservative colleague just mentioned that. At some point, the same thing must be done for the sectors under supply management, but we first need to focus on when the agreement will be ratified.
In this agreement, Canada agreed to allow the United States to restrict its exports to third countries. That is unprecedented. We are talking, of course, about milk by-products. I think members are starting to realize that. Milk by-products, such as milk proteins, powdered milk and infant formula, are restricted. Approximately 110,000 tonnes of these products were exported in 2019. The Trump administration managed to include a provision that limits these exports to 55,000 tonnes the first year and 35,000 tonnes the second year. That is unbelievable.
Not only is our dairy sector already losing 3.9% of the market, but all supply-managed sectors are losing market share. Furthermore, restrictions placed on our farmers make it difficult for them to make up their losses by exporting their surplus solid protein to third countries.
Something will eventually have to be done about this, but the first step is to make sure the agreement is ratified after May 1. If the agreement is ratified in April, the clause explains that the agreement will enter into force on the first day of the third month. That means it would enter into force in July.
If the agreement is ratified in May, however, it would enter into force in August. That would make a world of difference, and people need to realize that. The dairy production year starts on August 1. If the agreement starts on July 1, that means the first year of the agreement will only be a month long. Farmers will only have a month to export the 55,000 tonnes. It makes no sense. That is why we have to make sure the agreement is ratified after May 1.
This will not delay the implementation of the agreement, and I am not suggesting that we postpone the ratification of CUSMA until after this session. That is not the issue. The issue is to make sure the agreement enters into force after August 1 so that farmers can start recouping their losses. We will see what we can do after that. Everyone knows that the Bloc Québécois can be creative. We will need to find a solution to this harmful and unacceptable clause.
On another note, we were pleased to read in the news that dairy farmers have begun receiving compensation. Everybody is happy, even the farmers, although it would have made them prouder to produce milk and feed Canadians, which is all they really wanted.
However, certain sectors are still not getting compensation. They are the supply-managed sectors, including the poultry, turkey, hatching egg and table egg sectors.
Representatives of those organizations acted in good faith and were very patient. They sat down with government representatives and presented their numbers. They reached an agreement on the amount of compensation needed last April. This is now March, so it has been almost a year. Nothing has happened since, no sign of anything. There were some meetings last summer, in July and August, maybe because our Liberal Party colleagues wanted to make a campaign announcement. That certainly helps, but nothing ever came of it.
What is holding up this file? Unlike people in the dairy sector, who asked for cash compensation, people in these sectors are asking for compensation in the form of innovation programs and infrastructure upgrades. They also want the option to run a marketing and promotional campaign and funding to support it. It varies from one sector to the next. I listed the four earlier.
I have a question for the House. Is the Government of Canada in the best position to know exactly what each of those sectors needs? Would it not make more sense to give people in those sectors the right to say what they want, what their needs are and what, in their opinion, will help their industries stay competitive and ensure their long-term viability? I think the answer is self-evident: it is up to the people in those sectors to decide.
People in those sectors do not understand. The Bloc Québécois does not understand why there is never any progress. The budget will be tabled soon. We would like to see some numbers. We want to see numbers for this. We want to know what the budget for this is. The government promised compensation for all supply-managed sectors. Settling matters with dairy producers is good, but dairy is just one of five supply-managed sectors, which means there are still four more. We want answers that demonstrate respect for the people working in those sectors, compensation that offsets losses and is comparable to what dairy producers got.
During questions and comments I would like people from the Liberal Party to tell me where we are on this file, because there are some people who are a bit anxious, who are waiting and have concerns. Yesterday, I met with representatives of these sectors, together with my distinguished colleague from Joliette. We want answers. Today, I am asking for answers.
Once this compensation has been paid, we will have to reflect collectively on the importance of these supply-managed industries to the economy, to our rural areas and to the dynamic use of the land. We have to understand the direct impacts these farms have as part of our supply management system, that is, in a protected market that allows us to have quality products, stable income, and food security. We also have to understand the secondary impact on industries that supply goods to these people.
Representatives of these supply-managed sectors told me something that I quite liked, and I want to share it with you. They told me that they are thought of as privileged, when in fact they indirectly pay the rent of the vendors and purchasers they do business with and they provide stability to the economy, a stability that also translates into food security.
The system is already seeing signs of neglect. I hope no one in the House would dare say that the Canadian market is protected. Once the agreement is implemented, 18% of the market will have been ceded to foreign producers. If that is considered a closed market, then I would like to know what an open one is. I think that the supply-managed sectors have done their fare share and it is high time we had legislation to protect them.
We are happy to hear the government's promises. It has assured us that it will not back down and it will be watching Brexit and Mercosur very closely. Still, the government has made similar promises in the past. Unfortunately, public confidence wavers when the government breaks its word. The public then demands more guarantees. Those who made verbal promises but did not keep them are asked to put their promises down on paper and sign them. This paper can then be brought out again. In this case, the paper I am referring to is the bill that my colleague and I introduced to protect supply management.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-11 17:04 [p.1956]
Madam Speaker, whether it is the dairy industry in my home province of Manitoba or the dairy industry in Quebec or anywhere else in Canada, we all have a responsibility to ensure its health and well-being. I understand and appreciate just how important supply management is. I am very proud of the fact that this trade agreement virtually guarantees supply management well into future generations. Whether people are dairy farmers or others impacted by the supply management chain, they will see this as a positive.
We need to remember that President Trump wanted to dismantle Canada's supply management. For many years, that is what was being advocated. Yes, there are some concerns and we have recognized we are going to be looking very closely at the impact and there will be compensation, but let us not promote any sort of misinformation to try to give the impression that supply management, in the long term, is going to be harmed by this particular agreement. We are, in fact, guaranteeing its long-term survival.
Would the member not agree it is in the best interests of all Canadians by having that guarantee for the future?
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-03-11 17:06 [p.1956]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague very much for his comments. I am indeed very pleased to hear what he said. I will try to remember it, since the member just told me that it is very important to guarantee the continued existence of supply management. I imagine that the member agrees with protecting the supply management system through legislation, given that there is no guarantee that the system will continue under future parliaments.
We are often told that Mr. Trump wanted to dismantle the system and we are aware of that. That is why we want to protect supply management through legislation. My colleague spoke about compensation, and that is great. However, the government should announce something, because the four production sectors I mentioned are waiting for answers.
My colleague spoke about disinformation. I would like to know what part of my speech was disinformation because I had all the statistics to back it. There was no disinformation in my speech.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-11 17:08 [p.1956]
Madam Speaker, my question for my esteemed colleague and riding neighbour has to do with what the government representative said a few minutes ago.
He said that there could be no better protection for supply management than what was negotiated in the new NAFTA. However, members will recall that supply-managed sectors took a hit in each of the last three agreements that were signed and, on top of that, now there are the concessions made under WTO, which represent a market loss of 18%.
Does he think that the best way to protect supply management is to sacrifice part of the market in every agreement? If not, what can we do?
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-03-11 17:09 [p.1956]
Madam Speaker, I will try to answer the excellent question asked by my esteemed colleague and riding neighbour.
I will show a lot of good faith in my answer. I think that what we need to remember about what our Liberal colleague said is that supply management was threatened and they did what they could.
I think that all members of the House can agree that, from now on, we need to protect our supply-managed sectors through legislation. We will give the Liberals the opportunity to do so and to prove to all the farmers in their ridings that they are really standing up for them.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, the Conservative Party is the party of free trade and free markets. We recognize the importance of the U.S. and Mexican markets for Canadian exporters, which is why the Conservatives have been clear that we will support the swift passage of the new NAFTA deal. However, while a deal is better than no deal, Canadian industries are bracing for the impact of the changes to come.
Ironically enough, the Liberal government's economic impact report compares CUSMA to not having a NAFTA deal at all. This is baffling, since almost any trade deal, no matter how lopsided, would have been better than having nothing at all.
The C.D. Howe Institute discovered that CUSMA would reduce Canada's GDP by $14.2 billion. Its recent report found that after the implementation of CUSMA, Canada's exports to the U.S. will fall by $3.2 billion, while our imports from the U.S. will increase by $8.6 billion, with the worst impacts being felt in our agriculture and dairy sectors.
I have heard from many farmers in my riding who operate businesses in supply-managed industries, and they feel that the Liberal government has literally sold the family farm. The Conservatives are committed to Canada's supply management system, but the Liberal government's weak leadership and ineffective negotiation tactics have continued to erode the system's integrity. Concessions have been made to the U.S. without our receiving anything meaningful in return, and stakeholders are speaking up.
Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with turkey farmers in British Columbia. They indicated that market access concessions made as the result of CUSMA are going to hurt turkey farm families across the country. Not only that, this change would greatly hinder Canadian consumer access to locally farmed products.
What would this impact look like? Under CUSMA, the market access commitment calculation for turkey will be modified to a 29% increase in new market access for the U.S. into Canada. It will allow the U.S. to export an additional 1,000 metric tons of turkey products each year for the next 10 years above current access levels, with potentially more in the future.
Canadian dairy farmers and processors are also set to lose market access to the Americans. Before the international trade committee, the Dairy Processors Association of Canada shared that at full implementation, the access granted under CUSMA, in addition to the existing concessions from other agreements, namely CETA and CPTPP, represent about 18% of the Canadian market. When considering the three latest trade agreements, Canadian dairy processors will lose $320 million per year.
On top of the market access concessions, CUSMA includes a concerning and unprecedented clause that will impose export caps on worldwide Canadian shipments of milk powder, protein concentrates and infant formula. For example, for skim milk powder and milk protein concentrates, a cap of 55,000 tonnes will be imposed for the first year and 35,000 tonnes for the second year.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is also sounding the alarm. In addition to the market access concessions, supply-managed industries are anxiously waiting for government to fulfill its commitment to quickly and fully mitigate the impacts of these trade agreements, action that is necessary, though insulting to many of my constituents who work in these industries.
Before the international trade committee, Mr. Dykstra, a New Brunswick dairy farmer, stated:
I now want to touch on the compensation package promised, and partly delivered, for CETA and CPTPP. I haven't heard anything about the remaining years and how it will be paid out. That in itself concerns me. The compensation package is bittersweet. Most farmers, including me, received a payment in December of last year for those previous trade agreement concessions. As far as I am aware, no concrete timeline has been set for the next payments. We, as dairy farmers, have always prided ourselves on getting all our money from the marketplace. This is how the system is supposed to work. This is how it did work. The government trading away excess and then offering compensation is not what we want.
In addition to the previously mentioned market access concessions, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture has raised two other issues causing serious industry concern.
First, the Liberals have relinquished Canadian sovereignty on critical internal policy development and export control functions. CUSMA commits Canada to consult with the United States before making changes to Canadian dairy policies. This should have never been surrendered.
Second, as mentioned previously, the Liberal government also agreed to cap dairy-sector exports of milk protein concentrates, skim milk and infant formula to CUSMA and non-CUSMA countries, and approved an export charge on exports over the cap. This is disturbing on several fronts. Canada has long argued against the use of export tariffs to regulate trade. It also sets a dangerous precedent by allowing a regional trade agreement and a party in that agreement to control the trade of another party to countries outside of that agreement.
This is why the Conservative Party is standing up for these Canadian businesses and calling on the Deputy Prime Minister and the Liberal government to amend the agreement. Export thresholds for milk protein concentrates, skim milk powder and infant formula should only be subject to trade between the CUSMA signatories, not to other countries that are not party to the agreement.
I will give a real-world example of this from a company that employs hundreds of people in my riding, Vitalus Nutrition, whose CEO, Phil Vanderpol, presented at the trade committee.
Vitalus processes milk supplied by Canadian farmers into high-quality cream and butter, milk protein concentrates and milk protein isolates that have superior quality, nutritional value and functionality. It planned and anticipated demand and, up to this point, was capitalizing on the growth in the global market for nutritional value-added dairy ingredients. The federal government, or at least Western Economic Diversification Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, recognized Vitalus' economic promise and even invested significant funds in the company in the previous Parliament. However, that same federal government is now pulling the rug out from under the company and, ironically, its own previous investments. The Liberal government has managed, in this case, to simultaneously shrink the opportunity for Canadian dairy producers in the Fraser Valley while limiting their ability to grow by exporting.
Turning to forestry, Canada's forestry industry is also disappointed in the Liberal government's inability to protect its sector, since CUSMA does not prevent the United States from applying anti-dumping and countervailing duties to Canadian softwood lumber. Yes, Canadian forest product producers want a speedy ratification of CUSMA, even though it will provide no relief for their uncertainty. They want this in the hope that the federal government will start providing their industry the attention it requires. Businesses are going under, families are hurting and more than 20,000 forestry workers have suffered layoffs. The Liberal government must take immediate action to solve the softwood lumber dispute. It is unconscionable that a sector so significant was not part of the agreement.
I do not have time to address all of the shortcomings I have outlined that are in this new trade agreement, but I note that I would have liked to see the list of professionals admitted under temporary entry for business persons expanded to include the jobs of the 21st century. There are a lot of problematic issues regarding the rules of origin for automobiles and the new quotas in place. Also, buy America was not addressed.
When I was a graduate student, I participated in the North American forum for young leaders in North America. I had the opportunity to work with American and Mexican students at some of the top universities in our continent. On a personal note, we have so much untapped potential between our three countries, and I look forward to seeing labour mobility provisions changed during my lifetime, of course with strict immigration protocols, to meet the untapped potential we have with our trading partners.
With that, I would say that the new NAFTA deal put forward for ratification by the government is, overall, a disappointment, which I know because I represent the supply-managed industries in Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon. It would leave Canadians worse off than they were under the prior agreement and would relinquish our sovereignty. Our economy depends on free trade, and we need a federal government that signs agreements for the benefit of Canadians. It seems in this case that Canadians were sold out on so many fronts. We need ministers like my old boss, the member for Abbotsford, at the helm of international trade.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-11 17:24 [p.1959]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise and speak to the bill to ratify CUSMA. We are at third reading; things are moving fast. I am glad this is moving forward, but it is important not to rush. We need to take the time to properly study and debate this bill.
The job of the Bloc Québécois is to represent the interests of Quebeckers. That is why we are here. We agree with free trade agreements in principle. We need free trade. In economics, Quebec could be described as a small, open economy. We have a large territory with a population of about eight million. We need to trade with the rest of the world. Our areas of expertise include aerospace, artificial intelligence and computer science. We are proud of our farmers and our forestry workers in the regions. We are well positioned to trade. In essence, we support free trade agreements.
Obviously, no agreement is ever perfect. NAFTA was not perfect. Did we really need a new agreement like CUSMA to replace NAFTA? Our neighbour to the south demanded it. I would say this agreement is fairly good for the Canadian economy. The government did pretty well for the auto industry, for example.
There is one thing I find disappointing about this agreement and other agreements Canada negotiated recently. Generally speaking, an agreement should benefit the majority of the population, Canada's population in this case, but somebody always gets the short end of the stick. I do wonder—though not for long—why sectors that are important to Quebec's economy are always traded away.
In this agreement, concessions were made with respect to supply management. That happened with the trans-Pacific partnership too. Quebec is nowhere near the Pacific Ocean, but a significant chunk of the economy was traded away. The same thing happened with the Canada-EU free trade agreement. It seems that when Canada negotiates, it is all too ready to give up Quebec when it needs to offer something in exchange. Canada would like to protect Quebec's interests, but when it has to choose, it sacrifices part of Quebec's economy.
We saw the same thing happen when China joined the WTO. That killed our textile sector. It is still around, but as a shadow of its former self. The government did nothing to support that sector. Many women who had worked in the industry all their lives were left out in the cold, empty-handed. In contrast, the United States supported its textile industry and managed to save more jobs.
The same thing happened with our shipyards. The agreement with northern Europe ended up putting shipyards in Montreal and Sorel out of business, with neither compensation nor support. What a shame.
That being said, this agreement may not be perfect, but we think it offers a great opportunity to resolve the softwood lumber dispute. Quebec's forestry system was overhauled from top to bottom to ensure that the U.S. would have absolutely no reason to say it is subsidized and that we could do business on softwood lumber with our neighbour to the south.
Sadly, the new agreement did not resolve that dispute. The U.S. strategy is to drag out the dispute as long as possible and levy taxes to cool down this industry's market. Once it is on the verge of collapse, we will sign on the cheap. So far, this has not been done. I lament the fact that the Prime Minister has never spoken up in defence of Quebec's forestry industry. Forestry companies are paying more for lumber, since the price is determined by a market mechanism, and on top of that, they get taxed at the border as well. We did what was needed to fix that, but the government did not do its job at the federal level. As a result, our industry is paying twice. That is truly deplorable.
Given all that, we decided a year ago that the Bloc would support CUSMA on two conditions. The first was full compensation for supply-managed farmers. I am quite proud that I asked for the unanimous support of the House for full compensation for the last three agreements before ratifying this agreement. Naturally, we had to wait for the former member for Beauce to step out to go to the bathroom, because he was fiercely opposed to supply management. After all, he could have held it in. When we saw the support in the House we decided we could support this new agreement since half our conditions had been met.
The other condition was to have the illegal taxes on steel and aluminum cancelled. There are indeed steel producers in Quebec, as my colleague from Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères confirmed. However, we were mainly concerned with the aluminum sector because 90% of the aluminum made in Canada comes from Quebec. There has been longstanding trade with our American neighbours when it comes to aluminum. I went to Washington and I wrote newspaper articles there. We held several meetings, we all pitched in and managed to get these taxes lifted. We thought that was it.
On December 10, 2019, after Mexico and the United States had signed the agreement, the House decided to move forward and the Liberals were patting themselves on the back. However, when we saw the final version of the agreement, we saw that a key section of Quebec's economy had once again been sacrificed. There was a disparity between the protection given to steel, which is primarily manufactured in Ontario, compared to aluminum, which is primarily manufactured in Quebec. Once again, Quebec got a last-minute surprise in the House. Quebec's economy did not receive the same protection as Ontario's. That is unacceptable. Since the United States and Mexico had already ratified the agreement, it was very difficult to go back and renegotiate provisions so that Quebec would have the same protections.
There was all kinds of pressure from the government and various stakeholders to sign the agreement, and we were made to believe that it could no longer be amended. My colleagues from Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière immediately rallied stakeholders in their regions, elected officials, workers, unions and businesses. They said that they could not allow this to happen and that they would do something. We were being told to sign the agreement because it was good for the rest of the economy. We were being asked to forget that supply management and the aluminum sector were being short-changed, and to think about the sectors that were gaining something.
We nevertheless decided to fight this and to stand up for the aluminum sector. We did not know how to proceed, but we managed to make significant progress with the help of stakeholders and—credit where credit is due—the Deputy Prime Minister.
We now know that the problem caused by last-minute changes to CUSMA was that steel was being given significant protection. The “melted and poured” provision of the agreement required that most of the automotive parts made in the territory of the agreement were to be made with North American steel. This clause did not apply to aluminum.
Many automotive parts are made in Mexico, which imported aluminum from China, the dirtiest aluminum in the world because it is made at coal-fired plants, compared to Quebec's aluminum, which is the greenest and made at the most energy efficient plants in the world. All Mexico had to do was process the Chinese aluminum to make it North American aluminum. Even the Prime Minister acknowledged that the dumping of Chinese aluminum is unacceptable and illegal in international trade.
We obtained a commitment from the government that it would ensure that Mexico applied the same traceability measures as Canada's to track Chinese imports and the portion of components made with Chinese aluminum. If a problem arises, we can then revisit the “melted and poured” clause. I have been led to believe that the Americans agree with us and that very soon they will implement traceability measures to prevent Mexico from using dumped aluminum.
I will stop here, as my time has expired.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-11 17:35 [p.1960]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments, and I really appreciate the fact that the Bloc has decided ultimately to support the legislation, which makes it unanimous among the parties.
The provinces of Quebec and Manitoba have a lot in common. We can talk about the textile industry, and some of the things that were to the detriment of the textile industry a number of years ago, supply management, our garment industries, our aerospace industries, and how much we love and want to protect our culture and arts. Much of this stuff is in fact protected within the trade agreement.
When we have these types of negotiations, as I am sure my colleague would recognize, there is give-and-take. I made reference to some of that give-and-take with the last presenter from the Bloc. I said that President Trump was determined to dismantle supply management. Here, at least, we have now guaranteed it into future generations. I see that as a positive thing for the dairy farmers and others in Manitoba and Quebec.
I wonder if the member could provide his thoughts in terms of that particular guarantee.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-11 17:36 [p.1960]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments.
I will acknowledge that in the past, Manitoba and Quebec shared a number of cultural connections. One such example is the great Louis Riel. I think that his tragic fate was what ultimately led to the development of Quebec's national conscience.
Back in the early 1900s, French was still dominant in Manitoba. Clearly, our culture still needs protecting in Manitoba. That is for sure.
Donald Trump obviously wanted to get rid of supply management entirely, so the government eventually agreed to open a crack. We feel that this crack is still too much, because it is the third time, in three consecutive agreements, that it has happened. That is unacceptable.
In closing, I remind members that the American agricultural industry is also protected. The same sectors in the U.S. are protected, along with the sugar industry, and I do not think that the Americans made any concessions.
View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2020-03-10 10:10 [p.1844]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to this very important bill, Bill C-4, an act to implement the new North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, formally known as the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement. This agreement is extremely important to Canada, Canadian businesses and workers, and I can say, as a representative of a Mississauga riding, that the bill, this agreement, is very important for my constituents and the businesses in Mississauga.
Our government has embarked on a very aggressive trade agenda because trade is extremely important to Canadian businesses and workers. Members will be interested to know that one out of six jobs in Canada depends on trade. It is because our country produces some of the best products and services in the world, and the world needs more Canadian products and services. We know that with our agenda to grow and support the middle class and create more jobs for the middle class, we need to encourage Canadian businesses to trade, export and import more.
Our government maintained an aggressive trade agenda, and over the last few years we have signed and ratified CETA, a free trade agreement with the European Union, and the CPTPP, a free trade agreement with Asia-Pacific nations. Today, Canada is the only G7 country that has a free trade agreement with all other G7 nations. This is a competitive advantage that our friends and competitors in the United States do not have. We have a great environment in Canada for businesses and workers to export our products and services around the world.
Over the last few years, after the U.S. election, President Trump has campaigned on the issue of revamping and reviewing NAFTA. Our government took that very seriously and engaged with the U.S. administration to make sure that we protect Canadian interests, particularly the interests of Canadian workers and businesses. Access to the United States market is extremely important for businesses. Every day, almost $2 billion of products and services cross the border into the United States, so we know how important maintaining access to U.S. customers and businesses is for our businesses and workers.
At a time of increased protectionism, when, as we all know, the U.S. administration was adamant about increasing protectionism and building barriers, it was very important for our government to protect the interests of Canadian businesses and workers. What did we do? We assembled a strong team of industry, labour and stakeholders, a team that transcended partisan lines, with representatives from different parties and groups, to make sure that a complete voice for Canadian businesses was at the table as we were negotiating and protecting Canadian interests.
Canadians will recall the process that we engaged in over the last few years. It was at times very difficult, as most trade negotiations are, and there were moments of challenges and difficulties. In assembling a great team, engaging the provinces, premiers, stakeholders, legislators in the House of Commons and senators, we took an excellent team Canada approach as we embarked on this negotiation process with the United States, led by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other ministers. We made sure that Canada's voice was strong and firm at the table, as we were very interested in maintaining access to Canadian businesses, markets and workers.
There were some challenges. As members may recall, there was a period when the U.S. administration imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on Canadian businesses. We were very firm and clear in our opposition to those tariffs. We fought very hard for businesses and workers to have those tariffs lifted. There was a regrettable time when some opposition voices were asking us to lift the countervailing duties that we had imposed on American products, but we knew it was the right thing for Canada. It was the right thing for Canadian interests.
The outcome of the negotiations was very good for Canada. We ensured that 99.9% of Canadian businesses, products and services maintained tariff-free access to U.S. markets. It was really important for business certainty, for business continuity and for workers to know that that access would be maintained.
For the automotive sector, we have increased the rules of origin to 75%, and that is good news for Canadian workers and businesses. We all know how important the auto sector is to the Canadian economy. It is very important for businesses in my riding of Mississauga Centre.
We have also preserved the state-to-state dispute resolution mechanism. That was something the U.S. administration was intent on removing, but we knew it was really important to continue to have an independent adjudicator for the dispute resolution mechanism, and we were able to preserve it.
We were also able to preserve the integrity of our supply management system. Again, the U.S. administration came to the table intent on completely dismantling our supply management system. However, we stood our ground. We stood firm behind our farmers and producers, and we protected the integrity of our supply management system.
We also preserved the cultural exemption that existed in NAFTA. That was very important for our cultural industries. Canada, compared to the United States, is a relatively small market, but we have our own unique identity. We have the unique identity of bilingualism and multiculturalism. We were able to protect an inclusion for our cultural industries, so that we could maintain our policies to nurture and support Canadian culture here at home.
We created provisions or chapters for rules of labour, for the environment and for making sure that we maintained our policies for reconciliation with indigenous peoples. We wanted to make sure that we retained sovereignty over our policies as we were embarking on this journey of reconciliation with our indigenous peoples.
The agreement preserved important access to the United States and Mexican markets. Today, businesses are seeing a lot of uncertainty, especially during this difficult time of dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak around the world. It is very important for businesses that are investing in Canada, and for businesses that rely on access to the United States, that they know that access to the U.S. market is preserved and supported, and is there for the long term.
It is really important to thank all the stakeholders who were involved throughout this difficult and long journey to reach this agreement with our friends, the United States and Mexico.
It was important to have their voices at the table. It was important to have their insight at the table and our government made sure that we took their input into account.
I want to take a moment to thank our colleagues in the House, the Conservatives, the Bloc and the NDP, for offering support to help us ratify the bill in front of us today. It is a sign for all of Canada that we can set aside partisanship when we know that we are working on something that is in the interests of all Canadians and Canadian businesses. Even at a time when people are saying minority parliaments may be more difficult to work in, this is a great moment for all of Canada to see that we are able to set aside partisanship interests because we know what is in the interests of Canadians is in the interests of all parties in the House.
I am grateful to the Standing Committee on International Trade for doing its job in studying the bill. I know the members worked tirelessly around the clock to make sure that voices who wanted to offer their opinion on the bill were able to testify at committee. Experts were able to come and present their testimony before the committee. Members of the House who sat across from each other at the committee were able to work collaboratively and pass the bill at second reading and send it back to the House of Commons.
This is a moment for us to acknowledge that we are able to work together for the benefit of all Canadians. I look forward to our colleagues in the Senate studying the bill in an expedited fashion. I know they understand the importance of the bill. We know that our friends in the United States and Mexico have already ratified the agreement, so Canada is on its way to finalize the ratification process.
Businesses know that it is very important for them. It is very important to note that businesses are breathing a sigh of relief today when they see the House of Commons about to ratify this NAFTA and they are comforted by the fact that there are so many upgrades to this agreement that benefit them.
I talked about the protection for labour standards, environment, indigenous policies and cultural exemptions, and about increasing the rules of origin for our products. I also want to take a moment to recognize how we were able to deal with the steel and aluminum tariffs that were imposed on Canadian products by the United States.
We were able to stand firm. Today not only have we been able to lift those tariffs, but now we have a side letter with our friends in the United States that ensures that, if at any point in the future the United States decided to impose tariffs under the guise of national security, we were able to get Canadian businesses an exemption from those tariffs. Those exemptions are at a greater level than the levels of our current production and current exports to the United States. Not only were we able to lift those tariffs, but we were able to get guarantees and exemptions from the United States that if at any point in the future, for some reason or another the United States decided to impose those tariffs again, Canadian products and services from steel and aluminum will be exempted.
When we tabled Bill C-4, I know our friends in the NDP and the Bloc had some questions about the bill. I am happy to talk about the process of our discussions that took place, ensuring that we listened to their concerns and we found a way to address their questions so we could reach consensus on the bill.
Let me take a moment to thank my colleagues in the NDP. We were able to reach an agreement that, with future trade agreements, we will declare our intentions and objectives of those negotiations here in the House of Commons where all MPs and Canadians will see up front what the objectives of those negotiations are.
In discussions with the Bloc, we were able to come to an agreement that on behalf of Canadian workers and producers of steel and aluminum, Canada will work with our friends in the U.S. and Mexico to encourage them to implement some monitoring measures the way we have in Canada on the production of steel and aluminum.
This is a great example of how our government is able to work with the other parties in the House to respond to their needs and address their legitimate questions.
I know the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and entire government are all looking forward to ratifying this important legislation. It will mean stability and increased exports for our businesses and workers. It will mean increased and growing prosperity for the middle class. It will mean growing jobs for the middle class in Canada. I am grateful to my colleagues in the House of Commons for supporting us and I am looking forward to the debate.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-10 11:33 [p.1856]
Madam Speaker, I am sure my friend would recognize that in virtually all provinces and territories there is a certain element of uniqueness in terms of their economy and different industries and so forth. There is a high demand for people to participate in the negotiations and as government we have a role to play.
The member made reference to supply management and we will use that as an example. The original proposal from the United States was to completely dismantle supply management. This government, working with partnerships, was able to ensure that supply management continues on as part of the Canadian heritage and tradition. Does the member not see that as a positive thing?
View Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, as you can see, I learned my lesson.
As for what may have happened at the bargaining table, we are well aware that the United States wanted to eliminate the entire system. That goes without saying. However, since the government had made a direct promise not to touch the agriculture industry, this sector should not have been touched. At the very least, it should have been an untouchable, but that was not the case. The government promised several times not to touch it, as the previous government had done. In the end, it did touch it. At some point, the government needs to stop insulting people's intelligence.
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