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Results: 1 - 13 of 13
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 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
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 Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
Mr. Speaker, today's debate is of course on the bill to implement the Canada-United States-Mexico free trade agreement, or CUSMA.
Unfortunately, we found that Quebec was pretty much excluded from the discussions. Quebec's priorities were largely excluded. That is why there is a very good chance we will be forced to vote against CUSMA in its current form.
Some of the other parties are making up all kinds of stories about the Bloc Québécois. They want everyone to believe that we oppose free trade agreements, we are against the economy and we want to withdraw into a shell. All the prejudices and all the spin being spewed about us are completely false.
To illustrate that, I want to talk about two important figures in Quebec's independence movement. No one can deny the influence they have had on Quebec and, in a way, on the rest of Canada. I am talking about Jacques Parizeau and Bernard Landry.
Jacques Parizeau was the finance minister in René Lévesque's government, and was also premier of Quebec. He was a great economist who trained at the London School of Economics and Political Science, an internationally renowned school.
As for Bernard Landry, he was also a finance minister in Quebec and premier of Quebec.
They were two important champions of free trade, including the first free trade agreement, the first NAFTA, signed with the United States and Mexico.
They were among its main proponents. Mr. Landry toured Quebec to talk about how important it is for small nations to do business with other foreign countries and to open new markets.
We do not want to stay locked up inside Canada. We do not want to limit ourselves to doing business with Ontario. I am more than happy to do business with Ontario, the Maritimes and the other provinces, but why should we limit ourselves to this country, which has a somewhat limited population? Why not send our goods, our knowledge and our skills to other places and benefit from what others have to offer us?
We have absolutely nothing against that. On the contrary, it is a real benefit for Quebec to be able to take advantage of those different markets. However, there are some things that we care about. There are some things that we want to maintain. To the extent possible, we want to maintain control over our agriculture because we like being fed by local farmers who produce food that meets the highest health standards. Since we never know what might happen abroad, it would be good to be able to continue feeding ourselves.
The other thing we care about is culture. Quebec is America's Gaulish village. That is something we hear a lot. I think it is important for us to keep our culture strong in Quebec and that we ensure that agreements continue to promote and protect that culture.
This agreement does contain at least some worthwhile aspects with regard to culture. Some progress has been made and we are pleased about that.
Labour is also an important issue to us. A free trade agreement must contain attractive working conditions for workers in each of the countries, whenever possible. It is not about comparing apples and oranges. Attractive working conditions are necessary to ensure that people in other countries are not exploited and to ensure that we do not lose any jobs here. Otherwise, the agreement leads to exploitation in other countries.
I think we must consider these issues when we sign agreements. Once again, I think some progress was made. The agreement is not all bad, but unfortunately there are a number of aspects that bother us. I will explain.
One of the things that bothers us is the Liberals' record when it comes to Quebec. Free trade agreements are useful, but free trade agreements are generally about gaining something. Concessions are made, there is some give and take, and we end up with a deal that benefits all parties. The problem in this case is that the Liberal government tends to sacrifice Quebec when it signs free trade agreements.
The gut reaction always seems to be to sacrifice Quebec a bit more and listen to Quebec a bit less than the provinces or the rest of Canada in its entirety. Finally, the government works for Canada and not Quebec. That is why we want to form an independent country. Then we could negotiate our own agreements, which would benefit us and respect our conditions. We would stop getting the short end of the stick, as is often the case with Canada.
Let's go back in time a bit and look at the Liberals' record of listening to Quebec. They are currently making up all sorts of things and saying that they listened to Quebec. If we go back less than 100 years, to the 1940s, the Liberals promised Quebeckers during the Second World War that there would be no conscription. Indeed, Quebeckers did not forget the conscription imposed by the Conservatives under Borden. However, once in power, the Liberals organized a neat little referendum to be able to go back on their promise and impose conscription on Quebeckers. This is just one example of many.
A little later, there were expropriations in Mirabel for the construction of the airport. Then, in Montreal, there were expropriations in the entire Faubourg à m'lasse neighbourhood, where my grandfather grew up, to build the infamous Radio-Canada tower. This was a tragic event in the lives of a lot of Quebec families. Ottawa, claiming to know what was good for them, told them their homes and neighbourhoods would be torn down. These families lost their livelihood, but the government washed its hands of it. I think it is horrible what the Liberals, who were in power at the time, did. It shows their inability to listen and their insensitivity to Quebec.
I will go back in time again, this time to the 1970s, to the time of the War Measures Act. Yes, some people were causing trouble and doing things that perhaps should have been avoided. Let's agree, however, that the enactment of the War Measures Act was a complete overreaction on the part of the Liberal government. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police used the opportunity to enter the offices of the Parti Québécois and steal its lists. More than 400 people were put in prison. It was a national disgrace because, more than anything else, it was an operation that was designed to humiliate Quebec.
Let's now turn to the 1980 referendum. Once again, the Liberals made great promises. Trudeau senior, whose son is now Prime Minister, told us in the 1980 referendum that voting no meant saying yes to change and that it would make Quebec happier. In the end, he promised us all sorts of things and talked about honour and enthusiasm, a bit like Brian Mulroney did a few years later.
After all these fine promises, a constitution was signed by every province except Quebec. This led to the infamous “night of the long knives”, when the others decided to do without Quebec's support.
There was also the sponsorship scandal, which happened under the Liberals as well.
I remember that throughout their last term, the Liberals vowed over and over to protect supply management. However, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement opened a breach in supply management. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership opened another breach in supply management. The Canada-United States-Mexico free trade agreement is opening yet another breach in supply management.
In particular, I remember a byelection campaign in Lac-Saint-Jean in 2018. The Bloc ran an excellent candidate, Marc Maltais. The Prime Minister of Canada went to Lac-Saint-Jean to assure farmers that supply management would not be touched. However, a few weeks after the election, a breach was created in supply management. The people of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean remembered, because in the 2019 election, they voted in a Bloc member.
That is not the end of the problem. This much-touted agreement gives no consideration to forestry, which is important in Quebec. It has not been included in the agreement. More recently, we have learned that aluminum was being completely abandoned.
It is a real shame that I do not have more time to speak, because I would have had a lot more to say.
The important thing to note is that the Liberals keep saying ad nauseam that 70% of auto parts will have to be made of North American aluminum. That is completely not true. No, 70% is no better than zero, because 70 times zero is zero. The 70% is for manufactured parts, but the aluminum will not necessarily come from here. It could come from China and be processed in Mexico.
At the end of the day, we are losing out and it is really frustrating.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2020-02-06 11:38 [p.1007]
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and privilege to stand up today in the House of Commons and talk about the new NAFTA or the “halfta“, as we like to call it on this side of the House.
Before I get into that, I would like to take the opportunity to thank my friends, relatives and volunteers who helped me get elected. As with all members who come to this place, we do not get here without a vast network of people back home. I want to thank all of those people. It would take too long to name all of them here. I had over 250 volunteers from across northern Alberta. Northern Alberta is a beautiful place. I like to call it the promised land. I had people in every community ready to carry the Conservative banner, help put up lawn signs, knock on doors and all those things.
I want to reference a couple of people who really went above and beyond. Bethany VanderDeen knocked on several thousand doors for me in the election. I want to thank her for all her hard work. My sister is my financial agent, which causes her a lot of stress. I want to thank her as well. My campaign manager, Josh, went above and beyond whenever he was called upon to work. I want to thank him for that.
The new NAFTA, CUSMA, or “halfta“, as we like to call it, is an agreement we called on the government to do. We have been advocating for a free trade deal with the United States. In fact, it was the Conservatives in previous parliaments that brought NAFTA to the world, and we are proud of that record.
We asked for a good deal again when Donald Trump said he was going to renegotiate NAFTA. I do not think he considered Canada was the problem with NAFTA, so it was not necessarily wise for our Prime Minister to volunteer to renegotiate our portion of it. When the Liberals jumped into that, we asked them to come up with a better deal than the current NAFTA and one we would be happy with, but we wanted them to bring some stability to the business markets and a deal we could all be proud of. However, by every measure in the new NAFTA, the “halfta”, we have either stayed the same or gone backward. We have lost some sovereignty in a number of areas. We have lost our ability to produce or export in other areas, so we are not enthusiastic about this current free trade deal, but we will be supporting it.
It is very interesting how things sometimes get taken out of context. There is context to a lot of these things, such as when we talk about supply management, for example. There has been a lot of discussion around supply management when it comes to this trade deal. There has been a reduction in our ability to export. There has been a threat to some of the productivity that can happen here in Canada. I believe the Liberal government has paid out our dairy farmers across Canada recently for losses that have been incurred because of this trade deal.
When we talk about that, often the Liberals say they support supply management, yet a free trade deal is just one aspect of supporting supply management. The other aspects would be through some of the other things they have done. They have changed the Canada food guide, which has not helped supply management at all in Canada. They have changed the front-of-package labelling laws in this country, which is very detrimental to our supply management. It is very interesting that in the trade deal they say they are supportive of supply management and then in other parts they do not seem to understand what the impacts are.
Also, in many cases in this trade deal we would be competing with our major competitors, whether it is with respect to agricultural, forestry or energy products. We have watched the government put in place a free trade deal that would have us compete in the same marketplace as the rest of the North American market. At the same time, it put in big impediments and essentially shackled us here in Canada when trying to compete with our competitor to the south.
One of the things I want to talk about as well is the carbon tax. We see a lot of defence around aluminum right now in the House of Commons. I want to reference western aluminum in Kitimat, northern B.C. I have been there before, it is a beautiful place. One of the things that comes along with defending aluminum is considering the impacts of the carbon tax. No jurisdiction in the rest of North America has the same carbon tax on aluminum production, so that puts us back as well. It is very interesting how we will say one thing in the context of defending a free trade deal, and yet in other areas we do not necessarily see the government having the same defence.
We see the same thing happen in Alberta with the oil patch investment. We hear that the Liberals are going to expand markets for Canadian products, and then they are going to just kneecap one particular industry in Canada and not allow it to get any access to other markets around the world. What I am trying to point out here is that the logic is used in one direction on a certain bill and then in another direction on another issue. On CUSMA or NAFTA or “halfta”, they are saying we need to gain market access and we need to improve our trading relationship and all these things, and we need to do this so we can get Canadian industries competitive around the world. The next time they are saying that we have to keep the oil in the ground, we have to phase out the oil patch. The logic of that does not jive.
The other thing that is concerning to me are the caps on automotive production. I have made no secret of the fact that I have been an automotive mechanic for most of my life. I worked at a Chrysler dealer. I am very passionate about automobiles, and my family heritage has been with Chrysler, so I follow the sales trends and that kind of stuff on a regular basis. I am proud of the Canadian heritage that we have of building some of the most amazing automobiles on the planet. It is frustrating to me to see that Canada might be taken out of the cutting edge of building automobiles in Canada because of the caps that have been imposed. Everyone tells me not to worry about it because the caps are very high compared to where we are right now, so it will not be a big problem. We are currently talking about the caps being high, but 16 years from now we could be dealing with a clause that says we have to renegotiate this. At that point, we might be very close to that cap, and at that time we might already have seen significant investment that could have been made in Canadian auto manufacturing being made south of the border because the industry there is not limited by a cap.
I am concerned about that cap because of patriotic Canadian pride. I would like to see us building the best automobiles in the world, and we have in the past. One of the great ones that I am very proud of right now is the Chrysler Pacifica, which is built here in Canada and is a beautiful vehicle. I am not sure if it is the only vehicle in the world that has this, but it comes with a built-in vacuum cleaner. As a guy with little kids, that is the most amazing idea ever in a minivan. The Cheerios and the little Goldfish can get everywhere, and a built-in vacuum cleaner is what everyone needs in a minivan, I will say that for sure, especially with four kids. That cap is one of the major concerns.
There is also the national sovereignty piece. If we are going to enter into a trade deal with particular countries around the world, we would have to get the Americans to sign off on that trade deal before we enter it. We are a sovereign nation. The Bloc Québécois members always stand up and say that as well about Quebec and I share that sentiment. We are a sovereign nation and we ought to be able to pursue trade deals with anyone in the world, and not to hive that off as well.
With that, we will be supporting bringing this bill to committee. We look forward to hearing what stakeholders around the country have to say on this bill, and we will move forward from there.
View James Bezan Profile
Madam Speaker, I am glad to rise today on this debate. As an agricultural producer, and someone who had an export business that shipped to the States and to Mexico, the importance of free trade is something I am proud of as a Conservative. It is our legacy as the Conservative Party. It was a former Conservative prime minister, Mr. Mulroney, who negotiated the first NAFTA deal. Before that it was the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
Having that big vision and making sure that we have trade in this country are parts of a core value of being a Conservative and being a member of our party. I am also proud of our record under former prime minister Stephen Harper. Our former trade minister, the member for Abbotsford, did a phenomenal job in negotiating all sorts of free trade deals.
In particular, I look at the over 40 countries that we negotiated deals with, and at the Canada-European Union free trade agreement that is in place, which was negotiated by the member for Abbotsford. I am just glad that the Liberals showed up and actually signed on the bottom line at the end of the day.
We know that the trans-Pacific partnership was negotiated by the agriculture minister at the time, Gerry Ritz, as well as the member for Abbotsford when he was the trade minister. The terminology and articles of the agreement were all done under his leadership. Again, I just appreciate that the Liberals showed up and signed it. We take full credit for those two major agreements and the 40 countries that we now have free trade with.
The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement is another one that we negotiated. Luckily, the Liberals showed up and signed it at the end of the day, so that agreement exists now.
However, I will say this. The first time that the Liberals had a chance to start the ball from a scrimmage and tried to carry it to the goal line, they fumbled over and over again.
When they were dealing with the White House administration and our colleagues down in Mexico and developed a new NAFTA, which a lot of people call NAFTA 0.5, the Liberals fumbled the ball on numerous occasions both by attacking President Trump in various venues and walking away from the table. We had to play catch-up time and time again.
We have some of the best trade negotiators in the world. Steve Verheul is world renowned and very competent, but with weak leadership he was put into a box that was tough for him to get out of. With Mexico and the United States sitting at the table, we took their deal. We did not take Canada's deal. That is what is really concerning. After talking to people in various industries who are getting the short end of the stick with this new NAFTA deal, we might as well call it “shafta”.
As we sit here and look at what has happened, we have softwood lumber mills across this country, particularly in B.C., that are shutting down left, right and centre. Did the Liberals put a softwood lumber agreement in this deal? Not at all, and jobs continue to bleed and communities suffer because of that lack of leadership.
Looking at various sectors, such as auto, dairy and poultry, the Liberals are actually restricting growth or giving away market access. I am going to go into more detail. I look at the aluminum sector, which the member for Thornhill was just speaking about, and how we have gone from having 100% control of the industry within the former NAFTA framework, to now only having 70% control.
This deal allows backdoor access to China through other aggregators who can bring in aluminum nuggets and remanufacture them, which will hurt our aluminum-producing mills, the greenest mills in the world. Again, the Liberals failed to stand up for them.
The biggest private employer in my riding is Gerdau steel. Although we like to talk about steel having control and protection within the framework of the auto industry, we do not talk about how it can get into the buy America protectionist measures.
The Liberals' inability to move on government contracts in the U.S. because of the buy American restrictions could have been negotiated away if we had stronger leadership from them. They failed to have the buy America policy removed in this new NAFTA deal.
I just met with the dairy industry, and farmers in my riding are upset. They understand the need for free trade. My grain and oilseed producers and my cattle and hog producers are all exporters. They know that what we grow leaves the country, and a lot of it goes south of the border.
However, when we start limiting or giving away market access, it hurts farm families. It is removing income potential and growth from those communities, as well as from those farms. Now over 18% of the domestic milk market, in particular, is already supplied by imports, and the Liberals are eroding that market even further.
The most egregious thing the Liberals did, and not just not negotiating in good faith and not consulting with the dairy industry, the chicken industry or our egg producers, is that they are actually allowing the United States to have a say over how much we can export in dairy products globally.
Currently Canada exports over 55,000 tonnes of dairy products around the world. Under the new NAFTA, or “shafta”, deal, exports are now being limited to 35,000 tonnes. The Liberals are giving up market access in Canada to the extent that 3.6% of the market is now accessible to U.S. dairy producers, and now the U.S. says we can only export 35,000 tonnes.
This is supposed to be a free trade deal. We should be able to access more. One would think that we would be able to go into the U.S. and sell more dairy, but no. The sad part is that it is not just that we are going down from 55,000 tonnes to 35,000 tonnes, a 20,000-tonne reduction, but it is global exports as well.
How can we go out there and sell our fine cheeses, our ice creams, our milk proteins and other products around the world when the Liberals are allowing the United States to say that we cannot export them anymore? That is ridiculous, and it is hurtful. It is something we have to talk about at committee and here in the House.
My colleague, the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, has been leading the charge on what is going to happen in the aluminum industry. I know he is extremely upset that the Liberals have failed to protect aluminum production in Quebec, in British Columbia and across this country. The Liberals are failing to recognize how China can use backdoor shell companies to move their cheap and government-controlled aluminum into our markets. They can use that back door through Mexico in particular. That is something we have to be incredibly concerned about.
The other thing we can look at is the auto sector. Free trade is supposed to help make us more prosperous and create more jobs. The Liberals have a terrible record in the auto industry. We have watched plant after plant shut down and production lines move south of the border. The Liberals have also put in place a cap on how much growth we can have in the automobile industry, a cap of 2.6 million cars and $32 billion in auto parts.
If we look at it, we see that it is only about $20 billion and that we are not producing anywhere near the 2.6 million, but where is the incentive for investors or car manufacturers to set up plants to grow their industry when there is a cap in place, especially when we look at the value of $32 billion? Inflationary pressure alone could eat up that cap within a decade.
Again, it is a disincentive to invest and to expand our manufacturing base, especially in southern Ontario but also right across the country. It is a disincentive for attracting that foreign investment. It is a disincentive to expansion and to an increase in high-paying jobs.
I am very disappointed in the way the Liberals have handled the negotiations. I am very disappointed in what they gave up and by the very little that we got. I am very disappointed that today we have to accept a flawed deal.
View Caroline Desbiens Profile
Madam Speaker, I have been listening to the House debate on CUSMA for a few weeks now.
The Bloc Québécois promised to speak on behalf of Quebeckers here in the House, to ensure that our people, our industries and our investors are represented, heard, protected and served in this Parliament. Quebeckers make significant economic, social, cultural and environmental contributions to Quebec and to the world.
It is for that very reason that I am rising in the House today. It seems clear to me, based on our debates and the results, that Quebec is Canada's favourite bargaining chip to use in economic negotiations with the United States and Mexico. That is obvious. The clean aluminum that Quebec is so proud of will probably be sacrificed in this agreement.
How many times have we shown our colleagues opposite how disastrous this will be for Quebec's economy? A serious, in-depth study showed that this could cause Quebec's aluminum sector to suffer more than $6 billion in actual financial losses. The federal government has not proposed any economic studies on the new provisions in the agreement. We, along with the Conservatives, are still waiting.
Let me also suggest something to think about. Try to imagine how angry Ontarians would have been if the steel sector had been sacrificed instead of Quebec's aluminum sector. Would Ontario have reacted with diligence and resilience, agreeing to sacrifice a large part of its steel economy with the virtuous idea that what is good for Canada must take precedence over what is good for Ontario? I highly doubt it.
That is not the case, since Quebec is making the sacrifices. This clearly shows why Canada is so keen on keeping Quebec in its ranks. An independent and sovereign Quebec would deprive Canada of an important and valuable bargaining chip to use in negotiating economic agreements like CUSMA.
I come from the hospitality industry, where food services only exist because of farmers and dairy producers. Just think of the famous and delicious Migneron, Fleurmier and Saint-Fidèle cheeses, as well as the tasty Paillasson de l'Isle d'Orléans. I encourage hon. members to sample them if they have the opportunity.
Quebec no longer takes second place to anyone in terms of quality of agricultural produce. Organic farming, another source of great pride for Quebec, is also a growing industry. In my constituency, 37 small and medium-sized dairy operations are prospering because of supply management. For many of the crown jewels of Quebec's agricultural economy, this ingenious system has proved its usefulness again and again.
Supply management is great for Quebec. Not only does it foster balance and regulation in agricultural production, but it also works in harmony with the environment. Supply management encourages consumers to be aware and buy local, thereby reducing the environmental footprint caused by transportation.
Our system is a model for the world, yet Canada persists in knocking major holes in it. Those holes will end up endangering the very foundations of Quebec's economy and our supply management system. All of our success and competitiveness are systematically compromised when the dairy and agricultural sectors are undermined. In macroeconomics, that is known as the ripple effect.
Let's talk about milk, then. Let's talk about two of the loopholes that are hugely important to our dairy producers.
First, there is the elimination of class 7, which was for surplus milk protein. It became a significant economic vector for exports for our dairy farmers. Class 7 allowed farmers to offset losses caused by the influx of massive amounts of American diafiltered milk into the Canadian market.
Worse still, CUSMA gives the Americans control over exports of Canada's milk to other countries. Dairy farmers may end up with surpluses caused by Washington, which reserves the right in CUSMA to limit sales of our dairy protein products to the rest of the world.
Clearly, dairy farmers, 50% of whom are in Quebec, have also been chosen to be part of the sacrifices that Quebec is being forced to make, very much against its will, in order to save NAFTA, now known as CUSMA.
The government is buying their silence with financial compensation. Let's talk about that. What is financial compensation in the context of a dynamic and prosperous economic mechanism complete with development and investment plans that play out over decades?
This is financial compensation for business people. My father, who was a businessman, would say, “Financial compensation? Government subsidies? Those are like band-aids on a wooden leg, my dear.”
Who is going to pay? The agreement will weaken Quebec's economy as a whole in many ways, adversely affecting employment, investment, Quebec's finances and, thus, taxpayers, the same taxpayers who placed their trust in me and my Bloc Québécois colleagues, who hope that we will make the case for what we believe so we can protect Quebec from the Canadian government's lacklustre efforts to stand up for Quebec's interests. The government really wants to use Quebec's major economic levers as bargaining chips in trade treaties like CUSMA. Taxpayers are counting on the Bloc Québécois to ensure that does not happen.
Like my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou, I have met with dairy producers in person. They are bright, proactive, in the know about the best production and marketing strategies. They care about and promote environmental preservation and animal welfare. They are experts on the subject.
I am very proud to be able to sing their praises here. However, what would make me really proud is if the concerns of aluminum workers and dairy farmers were recognized, listened to and taken into account in a fair way in the provisions of the agreement in question.
We are well aware that, even after the agreement is signed, provisions can be put in place to remedy the situation. The government is saying that there will be checks and balances to prevent an abundance of Chinese aluminum from being used in auto parts manufactured in North America. Why are these so-called checks and balances not included in the agreement? Perhaps that is something we could work on.
I am convinced that nothing that we are asking for is impossible if we have a real desire and the creativity needed to come up with clear solutions so that the same people, namely Quebeckers, are not always being penalized. What a great opportunity this could be to stop fuelling the cynicism toward government election promises.
The Bloc Québécois believes in free trade. That position has not changed even though the government is trying hard to lead members to believe the opposite. What does need to change is the bargaining chips used in these agreements.
How are we supposed to believe that all of the measures that have been put in place are for the good of the agreement?
The government is not going to persuade a nation like Quebec to quietly sit back and let it do what it wants to the aluminum and agricultural industries just because it included some provisions protecting Canadian culture.
It is not too late for the government to put its best foot forward. The government has the power to turn the situation around. It is up to the government to show its goodwill and to prove that, this time, it really is listening to Quebec.
View Chris Lewis Profile
View Chris Lewis Profile
2020-02-05 18:20 [p.985]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak in the House on the NAFTA, both in my role as a member of Parliament for the great riding of Essex and also in my capacity as a member of the international trade committee.
As the House knows, the North American Free Trade Agreement is a legacy of a previous Conservative government. At the time it was introduced, there were a lot of naysayers. Indeed, the Liberals campaigned on their opposition to that agreement and then affirmed it once elected. Twenty-five years later, no one disputes the value of free trade agreements.
Under former prime minister Stephen Harper, Canada signed a record number of trade agreements with over 40 different countries, giving Canadian entrepreneurs unprecedented access to markets across the globe. The Conservative Party's record is clear. We support and want free trade with the United States.
Canada's prosperity is tied to a vibrant export market. In Windsor—Essex, we recognize the importance of trade, particularly for our local agriculture industry and automotive sector. The U.S. is our largest trading partner. Every day, $2 billion in trade crosses our border, representing 75% of all Canadian exports. The region of Windsor—Essex, which encompasses my riding of Essex, boasts the busiest border crossing in North America.
Canada's trade levels with the United States are on the order of nine times more than with our next-largest trading partner, China. As my colleague representing Abbotsford, who was trade minister under the Harper government for four and a half years, said, “The United States will always be our largest trading partner and we had better get that relationship right”. He called this deal a “squandered opportunity”.
Here is a quick list of what Canada gave up or failed to do. The new NAFTA does nothing to address long-standing softwood lumber disputes. This trade negotiation was a perfect opportunity to resolve the buy America provision. Mexico got a chapter on this, but Canada got nothing. The Liberals agreed to major concessions on dairy, eggs and poultry without any American concessions in return. The Liberals agreed to a U.S. veto on any trade negotiations with a non-market economy, such as China. Aluminum was not given the same protocols as steel. Why not?
Despite these flaws, the bottom line is that businesses thrive in a climate of stability. As the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said:
Over the last three years, Canadian businesses have sought certainty on the future of the North American trade relationship....
The CUSMA...was an imperfect but necessary agreement to provide greater predictability in our relations with Canada’s largest trading partner.
As a spokesman for the Business Council of Canada put it, the new NAFTA is “good enough” for Canada, something that “gets us through this administration.”
I echo my colleague from Calgary Midnapore: Canadians deserve more than good enough.
Nevertheless, after years of uncertainty, the majority of Canadian businesses and labour wants this deal ratified. Despite this cautious support, many have also expressed concerns about the details and want to know how this deal is actually going to affect them.
That is our job, as parliamentarians, to find out. It is even more so, given the record of the Prime Minister in dealing with other trade agreements, including the TPP, which was badly mishandled by the government.
We saw a repeat of these unnecessary delays during the new NAFTA negotiations. The Liberals did not work with opposition parties during the negotiation and ratification process and now are rushing to get this deal done. They have not provided documents outlining the economic impacts of the new trade deal despite numerous requests from opposition MPs.
On December 12, members of the Conservative caucus requested the release of the economic impact study. It is now 56 days since the request, and we have yet to see the report. We do not intend to simply rubber-stamp this deal.
One example to illustrate the kind of data needed is an issue close to my heart. Labour has supported the clause that requires 40% of cars produced in Mexico be completed by workers making at least $16 U.S. per hour. There is an assumption that automotive manufacturing jobs will migrate north, and that would be good news for workers in Windsor—Essex if that assumption proves correct. However, because of the lack of analysis, we do not know how many jobs are expected to be created in Canada. An economic impact study would provide a frame of reference for us to track those numbers.
Let us look at another crucial sector: dairy. As the Canadian Federation of Agriculture pointed out, “...concessions made by Canada for supply-managed products will once again negatively impact farmers in these sectors”.
I have met with dairy farmers in my riding of Essex as well as in my office here in Ottawa. Milk classes 6 and 7 have been eliminated and 3.6% of the Canadian market is now opened up to imports. The deal also dictates thresholds for Canadian exports on milk protein concentrates, skim milk, powdered milk and infant formula, something Canada has never agreed to before. Further, if the industry exceeds the thresholds, Canada will add duties to the exports, making Canadian products more expensive and less competitive.
As the dairy farmers suggest, this sets a “dangerous precedent” that could affect other sectors in future trade deals as it applies to exports to all countries, not just the signatories of an individual trade agreement.
The Dairy Farmers of Canada have done an impact study. Its numbers show an 8.4% drop in Canada's milk product, an estimated average of $450 million for dairy farmers and their families. It further projects that by 2024, Canada will have conceded 18% of our domestic market to foreign production.
Another concern is whether foreign dairy products will adhere to the same production standards as produced in Canada. I am told that all milk produced in Canada is free of the artificial growth hormone rBST, which is not the case in the U.S. Quality standards need to be part of the discussions going forward.
Dairy farmers have outlined three action items: one, full and fair compensation for recent trade agreements and ensuring that no more concessions are made in future agreements; two, seeking improvements to the new NAFTA through its implementation to ensure that dairy export penalties apply only to the U.S. and Mexico, not globally; and three, ensuring that agencies like CBSA and CFIA have the resources they need to enforce dairy quality standards and regulations.
Past promises to mitigate such concessions have not materialized. We need to ensure that our producers are properly compensated.
Another troubling aspect of this deal is that aluminum was not afforded the same provision as steel, requiring it to be North American and requiring it to be smelted and poured in one of these three countries. Mexico has no smelting capacity for aluminum. The concern for Canadian manufacturers is that without this provision, imported aluminum that is unfairly subsidized and/or sold at bargain prices from countries like China will be dumped into the Canadian market.
Our Bloc Québécois colleagues have made a compelling case for a thorough study of the impacts of this omission. I look forward to hearing more about the economic impacts to aluminum producers and what my Quebec colleagues propose as mitigation.
I also had a briefing with CAFTA, the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, which represents thousands of farmers. Its statistics underscore the importance of international trade to our producers, as 90% of farmers in Canada depend on trade, 50% of which is with the U.S. and Mexico. As well, value-added products represent a $36-billion export market to 190 nations. Market certainty is key to its members' success. It urges us to ratify the new NAFTA and is committed to working with us on implementation to ensure this and other trade agreements function properly. It is so important to Canada's economic prosperity that we get this right.
In closing, I will reiterate that we intend to do our due diligence. We need to see the ramifications, identify the new NAFTA's weaknesses and its implications for future trade deals, and ensure that there is a plan for those sectors and industries that have been left out. We need to do what we can to mitigate negative impacts.
At the end of the day, Conservatives want the best deal for Canadians, but we also know that Canadians depend on us to find out where this deal falls short. That is what we will do at committee. Along with my colleagues, I look forward to giving the new NAFTA a thorough examination.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am delighted to speak this morning in support of the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, Bill C-4.
I want to start by acknowledging that we are gathered here on the traditional lands of the Algonquin peoples.
Let me take this opportunity to thank our Deputy Prime Minister and her outstanding team for their efforts in securing this deal for Canada. There were many moments of angst, but our minister was diligent and focused on getting not just any deal, but the best deal for all Canadians.
The new CUSMA is a big win for Canadian businesses, Canadian jobs and Canada as a whole. The agreement solidifies our government's resolve to expand trade around the world through agreements such as CETA, CPTPP and a renewed NAFTA. It will help our middle class grow and allow more jobs to be created right here in Canada. The agreement has wins for all parts of the country and in many sectors.
Trade is more important today than at any other time. Access to other markets, free of tariffs, allows us to compete around the world. It also gives our businesses certainty and predictability.
The agreement allows over 500 million people in North America to trade freely, move freely and build an area of trade that is unprecedented in the world. Last Friday, we saw our good friends in the United Kingdom exit the European Union after 47 years. We know that many parts of the world are contracting, in terms of trade. This is an opportunity for Canada and North America to shine as we solidify and reaffirm our interconnectedness, the people-to-people ties and the enormous economic benefits we have seen over the last 24 years through NAFTA.
This bill is about NAFTA and advances it in many significant ways. I want to outline a few key points in the agreement.
First, there is a lot of conversation on agriculture and the very important issue of supply management. This was central to our negotiations in this agreement. As we can see, supply management is secured in this agreement. It allows our farmers to benefit from existing policies. Of course, it opens up a bit of market share to others, but fundamentally for all farmers it secures the supply management system that we have.
It is important because, in 2017, Canada-U.S. bilateral agricultural trade was $63 billion and Canada-Mexico bilateral agricultural trade was $4.6 billion. Together, that represents close to $70 billion in trade. This allows our farmers to be secure in the work they do. Of course we will compensate those who are affected, with cheques going to them as early as this month.
The auto sector is very important to our economy. It affects us across the country, but particularly in Ontario and Scarborough, where we have a lot of auto workers and auto-related jobs.
Over the last 25 years, we have lost many jobs. I grew up in a place called the golden mile, which is within walking distance of my apartment. In the golden mile area, we had Ford, GM and many auto manufacturers and suppliers. Over the years, we saw many of those jobs move.
What is critical is there is still a very strong auto industry in Canada. We see the pressures in Europe. We see Germany, France and the United Kingdom struggling to maintain a strong auto industry. I believe this agreement will ensure that the Canadian auto industry remains strong and vibrant, and will ensure high-paying jobs for Canadians going forward.
As members know, on November 30 our government signed a side agreement that essentially ensures us against possible 232 tariffs on cars and car parts. This is critical for the protection of auto jobs. Canada is, in fact, the only G7 country to have such a protection, and it really does allow us to advance the auto industry.
I will speak briefly on the cultural exemption that was negotiated in this agreement.
Previously, I was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of Canadian Heritage, and in that role I met with many stakeholders in the cultural sector. There are over 650,000 quality jobs for the middle class as a result of our cultural industries, with 75,000 just in Quebec, and it is a $53.8-billion industry.
This is an important part of our economy and an important part of who we are as a people. The cultural exemption provisions allow our cultural industries to continue without diluting their ability to create content. It is such an important part of this agreement.
There was a great deal of skepticism when the minister and our government spoke about protection for the environment, gender equality and labour. There was a great deal of criticism from others saying that this is a trade agreement and we should not bring issues that may appear to be ancillary to trade into these discussions. I am very proud to say that we did not give in to that.
We knew, and we know, that we can have good trade and good social policies at the same time, and we can advance many important values that Canada espouses through these trade agreements. This particular agreement is an example of how we were able to do that.
On the environment, for the first time we are ensuring that we are upholding air quality in flights and addressing marine pollution. We believe that commitments to high levels of environmental protection are an important part of not just this trade agreement but all trade agreements. They protect our workers and they protect our planet.
On gender equality, we worked hard to achieve a good deal that benefits everyone, but particularly to ensure that provisions that protect women's, minority and indigenous rights and environmental protections are the strongest in any of the agreements that we currently have. We also included protection for labour to ensure that there are minimum standards across our three countries.
I believe this is why, for a variety of reasons, we have Canadians from many different backgrounds supporting this agreement. For example, Premier Moe of Saskatchewan has said that a signed USMCA trade deal is good news for Saskatchewan and for Canada. Also, Hassan Yussuff, the president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said, “The USMCA gets it right on labour provisions, including provisions to protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of gender.”
I will conclude by saying that this is a very important step in protecting our economy, creating middle-class jobs, ensuring our businesses are able to compete and ensuring that Canadians have secured access to this market of 500 million. It is an important step forward in advancing our economy.
I look forward to all parties coming together to support this agreement. No agreement is perfect, but there are sufficient benefits here for many sectors and across the country that warrant the support of all parties.
View Michael Barrett Profile
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to talk about this important agreement with our most important trading partners.
It has been 51 days since we, the official opposition, the Conservatives, who are very concerned and seized with the economic future of our country, requested the economic impact analysis for this agreement from the Liberals. While we wait, the Deputy Prime Minister has asked us to accelerate our approval for the ratification of this agreement through this place. We have continued to wait. Perhaps while I am speaking today, the Liberals will deliver that economic impact analysis to us. In the meantime, we can talk about some of the ways this deal has fallen short and why we think it is important for it to be studied before its passage.
As Conservatives, we understand the weight and importance it has for all Canadians and our trading partners. Ultimately the Conservatives, as the party of free trade, will support important free trade agreements like the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement. However, that does not mean that it gets a rubber stamp, because we know that in all of our ridings, and truly in all 338 constituencies represented by members from all parties in the House, this deal falls short. That is not for a lack of trying on the part of the official opposition to give good advice to the government and give them opportunities to get this deal right.
In my riding of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, I have heard concerns from a variety of sectors. I will highlight a few of them today.
Over the course of this debate, we have heard people talk about the deal's negative impact on dairy farmers. We know that these concessions, the capitulation on these items, are not only unnecessary but harmful and hurtful to these farmers. The uncertainty created by this deal is also hurting them. We know that these farmers are on the cutting edge of sustainability. They do it not because they have to, not because the government regulates them to do so, but because they, as stewards of our land and responsible providers of world-class food products like milk and cheese, want to do what is best for Canadians. They expect the government to do what is best for them.
The concessions on market access that were given and the elimination of milk classes 6 and 7, which were done in the absence of proper consultation with their sector by the government in negotiating this deal, has caused a lot of concern. We are concerned and skeptical as we wait for the details of the full impact of CUSMA, and we know that farmers are waiting to find out what the full impact will be.
We have also talked about aluminum. I want to talk about the impact that has on my community. The folks at Northern Cables have been very concerned about some of the policies that have been in place and how they have not been protected from the dumping of aluminum, sourced from China, in North America and its impact on their business.
Northern Cables is a local employer. It is a company owned by Canadians that produces a high-quality product. The company knows that its future is uncertain due to a lack of protection in this deal. It is great for industry associations to say that it is good for them, but I can tell members that Northern Cables, which is located in multiple communities across my riding, is concerned. The company knows that producers based in China are skirting the rules by soldering connectors onto long lengths of aluminum to get around the existing rules.
They know the provisions in this deal allow for that. North American-based aluminum means aluminum that has been melted down and then shipped again.
Transshipping of aluminum is going to hurt the industry, especially if it lands in Mexico and is sent across the continent to land in Canada. It is going to hurt producers and manufacturers. It is going to have a negative effect on jobs in places like Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes and at locally owned and operated businesses like Northern Cables. That gives us concern.
We wonder what the impact will be. We worry about what the compensation will be, because the government has been silent on that. We do not know what is going to be done to compensate supply-managed sectors. We do not know how the government is going to protect the aluminum sector.
Our NDP colleagues do not seem to be sure whether they want the deal to pass or not. Our record shows that we are the party of free trade. I am not sure that the NDP has supported any but one free trade agreement in the history of our country, so that causes us concern.
When it comes to holding the government to account, this falls squarely on our shoulders. We need to make sure that all Canadians are heard, not just well-placed lobbyists speaking to people in the Prime Minister's Office. That is what we hope to have done in committee.
We need to look at important provisions in this deal, like how it would affect our sovereignty. This deal would allow the United States to have oversight of Canadian trade negotiations with other countries. That should concern all Canadians. It seems very much like an unforced error. It seems very much like the result of an unprepared team in achieving the deal that it has.
Other important Canadian sectors have been left unprotected. Our forestry sector is still looking for a resolution to softwood lumber concerns. With that dispute not addressed in this deal, is this truly free trade?
Here in Ontario in particular, the auto sector is important to the Canadian economy. It is an important employer. For a car to be seen as North American, only three-quarters of the car are considered, from the ground up. It is not really a North American car. When the requirement is only for 40% to 45% of auto content made by workers earning $16 an hour, this gives opportunity to countries with labour provisions that do not protect their workers. That is going to undercut our auto sector here in Canada.
The sunset clause in this deal requires a formal review of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement every six years. The agreement will terminate in 16 years if the parties do not agree to it.
I call it the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement because that is its official name. However, we know, having heard praise from the American president for what the Canadian government was prepared to give up, and he said we gave up a lot, that this deal really is NAFTA 0.5.
Conservatives want a good deal for Canadians. Conservatives will support free trade. But Conservatives know that Canadians depend on us to find out where this deal falls short, and that is what we are going to do at committee. We will get those answers so we can help support those sectors when we form government as soon as Canadians call on us to do so.
It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to this important deal today. Along with all members of the House, I look forward to giving it a thorough examination before its passage.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2020-01-31 12:29 [p.773]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the new NAFTA. I would like to start by showing why this agreement is so important.
More than 400,000 people cross the Canada-U.S. border every day for work. Every day, $2.4 billion in goods cross the border. About two million Canadian jobs are directly linked to free trade with the United States. We now have six time as much trade with Mexico than we had when we signed our agreement in 1993.
Let us also look at the history of why we are negotiating NAFTA. The U.S. president was elected by saying that NAFTA was the worst deal ever made. It was inevitable that any Canadian government was going to have to renegotiate with the United States on NAFTA.
This Canadian government, in my view, did an exceptional job in arriving at a deal that is even better than the previous NAFTA in almost every area. That is sensational when looking at the difference in size between Canada and the United States. The United States has a population that is about nine times bigger than that of Canada.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that Canada is the U.S.'s biggest trading partner in the vast majority of states and that millions of American jobs are linked to NAFTA, there is far less knowledge in the United States on the importance of the trading relationship between Canada and the United States than there is in Canada.
As a result, the team had to deal with numerous challenges in this negotiation, one of which was educating Americans on how important their trading relationship with Canada is. Another was navigating the system in the United States, where the administration was of one party and the majority in the House of Representatives was of another party.
We have now arrived at a point where Mexico has ratified the new NAFTA, the United States Congress has passed it and the U.S. president has signed the bill, ratifying it. We in Canada are now left to decide one thing: Do we go along with our partners in the United States and Mexico and ratify this deal or do we not? I would say yes, we need to do so.
I will talk about a couple of the areas where Canada resolutely defended its position in the NAFTA negotiations.
First, there is chapter 19, the dispute resolution mechanism. We all heard the Americans continually challenge chapter 19, trying to have it removed from the new NAFTA. Indeed, in the initial agreement between Mexico and the United States, that chapter was removed. Canada was able to ensure that this chapter remained, leaving us a dispute resolution mechanism with the United States, something we desperately need in dealing with a trading partner that is vastly bigger than us.
In the course of these negotiations, we succeeded in protecting supply management, something the Americans, who saw it as one of their key issues in the deal, said they wanted us to repeal. We also succeeded in this deal by getting new labour and environment chapters that were not in the previous agreement, things that will be of benefit to Canadian workers and the environment. Indeed, with changes made through the demands of Democrats in the U.S. Congress, the enforcement mechanisms for the labour and environmental chapters are better now than they were in the original deal.
As parliamentary secretary for labour, I am very pleased with the labour chapters in NAFTA. The labour standards that are now established in NAFTA are progressive and fully enforceable. They help level the playing field for Canadian workers and businesses; are a major upgrade from those in the original NAFTA because they protect migrant workers and union members; prevent the import of products made by forced labour; require measures to protect workers against discrimination; ensure that laws and policies that protect workers' rights, like those for collective bargaining and freedom of association, are enshrined; give Canadian businesses a chance to grow; and give workers a fair chance to share in the benefits of free trade. That is something.
In addition, for automobiles to be NAFTA-certified, 70% of the parts used in them have to be made in North America, in Canada, the United States or Mexico. In the current NAFTA this obligation is not there. That is a huge deal for parts makers in Canada that contribute to the auto industry, and it includes steel and aluminum. Seventy percent of the components need to be made in North America.
I understand the concerns that have been expressed about aluminum, but we have to remember that we started with a 0% requirement and are now at 70%. For those parts that are manufactured in Canada and the United States, the anti-dumping measures prevail and, as such, Canadian aluminum producers are doing far better, despite concerns that Mexico may use Chinese aluminum. We do not want that to happen, but that could be happening and is probably happening right now. The deal does not change that issue. It only means that now 70% of the parts need to be made in North America.
While I acknowledge it is true that the deal for steel states that parts need to be poured and melted in North America and it does not for aluminum, that will come into effect seven years from now. We have seven years to see if we can improve stuff on aluminum. However, it still means that the protections for aluminum providers today are better than they were under the previous NAFTA. It is a gain, not a loss.
Another thing that is really important is now a significant percentage of parts need to be made by workers earning more than $16 an hour. That is a huge deal because it means that factories in Mexico with low-cost workers will no longer be able to produce the NAFTA-certified parts under this threshold. That means that more jobs will be kept in Canada and the United States and not moved to Mexico. That is an incredible victory in this deal. Canada has established with Mexico a working group to improve labour standards and working conditions. Mexico is going to need to make labour reforms, especially in areas that are crucial for the implementation of the new NAFTA. The Canada-Mexico bilateral labour working group will ensure that Canadian expertise is available to share our best practices and strengthen co-operation with Mexico. It will bring together Canadian and Mexican experts to help implement the new NAFTA's labour protections and standards. Therefore, when we talk about all of the different things that NAFTA could have been, and we look at the U.S. original negotiating position, this new trade agreement could have been very difficult for Canadians. In the end, this panel of people that Canada has put together, from our professional civil service to our government members working on this, to those many others that helped in the process, including many members of the former Conservative government who aided our current government in negotiating NAFTA, all talked about former prime minister Brian Mulroney, who was intricately involved in assisting our government, and the former interim leader of the Conservative Party, Rona Ambrose. This was a Team Canada effort, as it should be, because when we create a trade deal that is of so much importance to Canadian jobs, Canadian workers and our Canadian economy, it is primordial.
It is primordial to have a first-rate team of people from all over the country who represent labour, employers, unions, individuals from all different groups, including the government, the opposition and everyone. I think Deputy Prime Minister Freeland and her entire team did an outstanding job.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
moved that Bill C-4, An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
I am truly honoured to speak here today in support of Bill C-4, an act to implement the new NAFTA. Canadians have come a long way since 2017, when Canada's most important trading relationship, indeed our national prosperity itself, was put at serious risk. The years that followed were among the more turbulent in our history. We have emerged not only with the essential elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement intact, but with a better, more effective and fairer agreement than before.
This agreement is better for steel and aluminum workers, better for auto manufacturers and factory workers, better for farmers, forestry workers and energy workers. This agreements is better for the thousands of people working hard in our service industries. It is better for Canadian artists, singer-songwriters and filmmakers and better for the companies that hire them.
Canada has always been a trading nation. We have trade agreements with Europe and the Pacific in place, and we are about to have a modernized NAFTA. That means free trade with 1.5 billion people around the world and makes us one of the world's greatest trading nations.
That we achieved this at a time of considerable uncertainty in global trade, with the rules-based international order itself under strain, is something of which all Canadians can be rightly proud. It is a testament to the unrelenting work of thousands of patriotic Canadians from all walks of life, representing every political view from all orders of government and from all regions of our great country. This truly has been team Canada at work.
A little more than 25 years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement created the world's largest economic trading zone, but let us remember that it did not come about easily or without controversy. In fact, a federal election was fought over free trade in 1988, and my own mother ran against NAFTA for the New Democrats in the riding of Edmonton Strathcona. These were intense debates as many in the House will remember, yet today the Canadian consensus for free trade is overwhelming.
That consensus is a testament to NAFTA's long-term effectiveness as a vehicle for economic growth. More broadly speaking, it is also a testament to the fact that rules-based trade advances personal freedom, fosters entrepreneurial spirit and generates prosperity.
Today, Canada, the United States and Mexico account for nearly one-third of global GDP despite having just 7% of the global population. Every day, transactions worth about $2 billion Canadian and 400,000 people cross the Canada-U.S. border. Those are impressive numbers.
When we were first asked to renegotiate NAFTA, we were determined to improve the agreement, update it, refine it and modernize it for the 21st century. That is exactly what we did.
I would like to stress two points. Under the new NAFTA, 99.9% of our exports to the United States can be exported tariff-free, and when it comes into force, this agreement will be the most progressive trade deal our country has ever negotiated. Indeed, I believe it will be the most progressive trade deal in the world.
“Growth that works for everyone” is not just a slogan. It has been the animating, driving idea in our negotiations from the start.
Let us be honest: The negotiations that got us here were not always easy. There were some twists and turns along the way. There were, as I predicted at the outset, moments of drama. There were times when the prospect of success seemed distant, but we hung in there. Faced with a series of unconventional negotiating positions from the United States, a protectionist flurry unlike any this country has encountered before, we did not escalate and we also did not back down. We stayed focused on what matters to Canadians: jobs, economic growth, security and opportunity. That is how we stayed the course.
It was clear from the start that, in order to be successful, Canada as a whole had to come together and work as a team.
We began by consulting stakeholders across the country. We heard from Canadians in industry, agriculture, the service sector and labour. We sought and received advice and insight from across party lines. We reached out to current and former politicians, including provincial and territorial premiers, mayors, community leaders and indigenous leaders. We asked Canadians for their input and gathered over 400,000 submissions on the modernization of NAFTA.
We established the NAFTA council with people from different political parties, as well as business, labour and indigenous leaders.
I would like to thank every member of the NAFTA council for their wisdom, hard work and collegiality. Their insight helped guide our way forward at every step of the way, right up to the present moment.
I would also like to thank current and past members of the House for their contributions. With politics, there is always partisanship, but there can also be collaboration in the national interest. I know, from the many conversations I have had with colleagues across the aisle and across Canada, that every single one of us here shares the goal of working for Canada and Canadians. This negotiation has not been a political project. It has been a national one.
There have been many hurdles. During the negotiations, we were hit with unfair and arbitrary tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. We defended ourselves without rancour, but with firmness, imposing perfectly reciprocal, dollar-for-dollar tariffs on the United States even as team Canada fanned out across the U.S., reminding our friends, allies and neighbours that they rely on us for trade, too.
We were consistent. We were persistent. We never gave up. We just kept digging in the corners, if I may be allowed one NAFTA hockey metaphor.
The new NAFTA is a great agreement for Canada because we acted with resolve at the negotiating table to uphold the interests and values of Canadians. Our professional trade negotiators are, without exaggeration, the very best in the world. They are a group of true hard-working patriots, led by the inimitable Steve Verheul. I would like to thank them on behalf of all Canadians.
I would also like to thank Ambassador Bob Lighthizer. I found him to be a reliable and trustworthy counterpart, even though there were many times when we did not agree. He is someone who has become a friend. I would like to acknowledge his hard work, his professionalism and his willingness to find win-win compromises for our great continent. That made this agreement possible.
I would also like to recognize the efforts of my Mexican counterparts, who showed tremendous commitment, through a change in government, in renewing our trilateral relationship and in reaching a progressive outcome that raises working standards for workers across our shared continent.
Muchas gracias, amigos.
The benefits of this agreement for Canadians are concrete and considerable. The new NAFTA preserves Canada's tariff-free access to our most important market: 99.9% of our exports to the U.S. will be tariff-free. The agreement preserves the dispute settlement mechanism known as the famous chapter 19 in the original NAFTA, which provides an independent and impartial process for challenging anti-dumping and countervailing duties.
Critically, this mechanism is how we Canadians ensure a level playing field with a much larger trading partner. This mechanism is more valuable today than ever, with the WTO effectively paralyzed.
The new NAFTA preserves the general exception for cultural industries, which employ some 650,000 people across the country. These industries are an integral part of Canada's bilingual nature and our linguistic and cultural identity. This was a crucial factor, because those industries ensure that we can tell our own stories, as Canadians, in both official languages.
Our farmers are more crucial than ever to our collective prosperity. Canada and the United States have the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world in the area of agriculture, which is worth about $48 billon annually.
At one point in the negotiations, the United States demanded that we abolish supply management. We refused that demand. This agreement secures the future of Canada's supply management system for this generation and generations to come.
The new agreement strengthens labour standards and working conditions in all three countries. This is a historic milestone with, for the first time, truly muscular and enforceable labour standards. This agreement, for the first time, levels the playing field in North America for Canadian workers.
It supports the advancement of fair and inclusive trade. It addresses issues related to migrant workers, forced or compulsory labour, and violence against union members, including gender violence. It enshrines obligations related to discrimination, including discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.
This agreement modernizes our trade for the 21st century. Critically, it reduces cross-border red tape and simplifies procedures for Canadian exporters. It promotes increased trade and investment through new chapters dedicated to small and medium-sized businesses.
As well, the agreement preserves the provisions on temporary entry for business people. These provisions are essential to supporting cross-border trade and investments. Temporary entry ensures that investors can see their investments first-hand, and that service suppliers can enter the market to fulfill their contracts on-site.
At a time when walls are being built, temporary entry is a critical advantage for Canadians.
Crucially, the new NAFTA also shields Canada from arbitrary and unfair trade actions. For instance, our auto sector employs 125,000 people directly and another 400,000 indirectly through a network of dealers and after-market services. The side letter we signed with the new NAFTA protects this vital industry from any potential U.S. tariffs on automobile and auto parts.
The new NAFTA is great for Canadian auto workers. We see this in new, higher requirements for levels of North American content in the production of cars and trucks. We see it in the labour chapter, which includes key provisions to strengthen and improve labour standards in the NAFTA space.
One of our government's main objectives is to ensure that women have the opportunity to participate fully and equitably in the Canadian economy. The new NAFTA is no exception. The labour chapter includes a non-discrimination clause and addresses obstacles to the full participation of women.
Environmental stewardship is essential to our collective future. The new NAFTA includes a chapter on the environment that will help ensure that our trade partners do not receive unfair economic advantages because they failed to respect the environment.
The environment chapter requires that all the NAFTA partners maintain strong environmental protection and robust environmental governance. It introduces new commitments to address challenges like illegal wildlife trade, illegal fishing and the depletion of fish stocks, species at risk, conservation of biodiversity, ozone-depleting substances and marine pollution.
It also recognizes the unique role of indigenous peoples in the conservation of our shared biodiversity and in sustainable fisheries and forest management. This is a first. For the first time in a Canadian trade agreement, the new NAFTA confirms that the government can adopt or maintain measures it deems necessary to fulfill its legal obligations to indigenous peoples.
We should note that the obligations on labour and environment in the new NAFTA are subject to dispute settlement. This is a major accomplishment. This means any laggard can be held accountable.
In his speech to the U.S. National Governors Association in 2017, the Prime Minister referred to his father's famous metaphor about Canada, of our experience of sleeping next to an elephant. He said that, contrary to his father's phrase, Canada today is no mouse, more like a moose. This negotiation and its conclusion have shown how right he was.
Throughout the formal negotiations and in the months that followed, the Government of Canada has been intent on upholding the national interest. This work continued last year, culminating in a protocol of amendments signed by Canada, the United States and Mexico that strengthen state-to-state dispute settlements, labour protection, environmental protection and rules of origin.
Our government is committed to ensuring that the benefits of trade are widely and fairly shared.
The new NAFTA helps us accomplish that. It promotes progressive, free and fair economic growth. More generally, it strengthens rules-based trade at a time when those rules are in great need of strengthening. It brings back stability to the trade relationship between Canada, the United States and Mexico. Above all, this agreement provides stability and predictability for companies that employ hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
Our focus in bringing the new NAFTA to Parliament has always been on preserving and fostering opportunity for Canadian workers, businesses, families and communities across the country. That is what we achieved, and this is what all Canadians have achieved together. It is something that all Canadians and every member of the House can be proud of. We are all here to serve Canadians.
I encourage all members in the House and Senate to work co-operatively with us to swiftly pass this legislation.
View Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Profile
Mr. Speaker, as we saw yesterday, the first bill was passed with the support of all parties in the House except for the Bloc Québécois. That does not mean that we are against free trade and openness to trade, far from it.
In fact, if we look at Quebec's history, the separatist movement has nothing to prove in that regard. The great economists, who were also some of the greatest statesmen of modern Quebec, such as Bernard Landry and Jacques Parizeau, were the fathers of free trade in Quebec. We need not be lectured about that. It would be in extreme bad faith to accuse us of being opposed to trade with other countries.
Nevertheless, that did not prevent Jacques Parizeau from opposing certain agreements. We had to vote against the agreement as presented yesterday for somewhat similar reasons. There seemed to be more arguments against than for. This is politics, not religion. Just because this agreement has a free trade label on it does not necessarily mean that it will get our vote, if it has negative impacts.
Sure, the agreement has some positives and we wish we could have supported it. Some real progress has been made, compared to the old NAFTA. However—and I think that the outcome and the policy positions show exactly why the Bloc is necessary—we represent Quebec, and Quebec is getting the short end of the stick with this agreement in many respects.
Some significant concessions were made, and this came up earlier in some of the questions that were asked. Quebec is bearing the brunt of these concessions, as usual. This agreement contains two deal breakers in particular. First, it undermines our agricultural model, which relies heavily on supply management. Once again, the dairy industry is an example of that. Second, it significantly hinders our aluminum industry's future prospects. This industry is Quebec's second-largest exporter and is a jewel in the crown of our economy.
Our aluminum industry shines for its small carbon footprint. Some even call it carbon neutral, and my colleagues from Saguenay—Lac-St-Jean would know about that. This agreement benefits Chinese aluminum, which would literally flood the North American market through Mexico. A great deal of carbon pollution is created in manufacturing this aluminum.
We are working very hard to force the government to take into account Quebec's interests, which it bargained away during the negotiations. That is our job as parliamentarians and our mission for the immediate future. We are reaching out to the government so that it will work with us to find ways to limit the harm it is causing to the aluminum industry and dairy farmers. As members know, we proposed a way to improve the agreement without having to open it completely. That does not mean that we will not do our job in committee by asking questions and trying to take the agreement in a better direction. Nevertheless, we suggested an approach that would not require opening the agreement.
If the government finds a way to limit the harm that the agreement will cause our dairy industry and to protect our aluminum smelters, particularly against Chinese dumping, then we will be pleased to support the next steps. That is what we want for Quebec.
The government started speaking about openness the very evening it was elected. We have also heard about openness in this debate. However, openness goes both ways. We are willing to negotiate and discuss, but we will not compromise our principles.
Let's talk first about the key sectors of the Quebec economy that are threatened by this agreement. We believe that supply-managed products are a non-negotiable item, yet the government undermined protections for these products when it gave the Americans oversight over our trade practices.
We also believe that the aluminum industry is a non-negotiable item, yet the government agreed to allow Chinese aluminum to flood the North American market by going through Mexico.
Obviously, the government did not stand up for Quebec with the same vigour as it did for Ontario and western Canada. We cannot support the bill to ratify the CUSMA as it stands.
That is why we want the government to co-operate with us and take Quebec's needs into account.
Let's start with aluminum. Canadian and U.S. courts determined that Chinese aluminum was being dumped. That is not our allegation; it is the courts' finding. Unfortunately, as we all know, dumping is common, unfair and illegal. Canada and the United States both impose anti-dumping tariffs. Mexico, however, has no aluminum smelters, so it does not impose anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese aluminum.
As written, the agreement makes it possible for Chinese aluminum to flood the North American market, even though Canada and the United States have protective anti-dumping tariffs. Chinese aluminum is simply processed in Mexico, circumventing the protections we put in place. For free trade to be truly free and profitable for all, it must make unfair trade practices such as dumping impossible.
We also want to minimize our dairy producers' losses. In addition to opening up 3% of the Canadian market to American producers, CUSMA will make it harder for our producers to sell their milk protein to processors. As a result, American diafiltered milk imports could skyrocket, which is an ongoing issue we have been talking about for years.
As drafted, the agreement gives the Americans oversight into all our milk protein exports outside North America. Having a provision like this in a trade agreement is unheard of and it has the potential to completely destroy the dairy industry. We are trying to raise the main concerns with that aspect of the agreement.
I want to come back to aluminum to recap. Under NAFTA, automobile and truck manufacturers are under no obligation to buy North American steel and aluminum. Under the terms of the new CUSMA, 70% of the aluminum and steel bought by car and truck manufacturers has to originate from North America. To qualify as originating from North America, the steel and aluminum will have to undergo significant processing in North America.
On December 10, 2019, the three negotiating parties of the agreement signed a protocol of amendment to CUSMA. The protocol states that seven years after entry into force, steel purchased by manufacturers will have to be refined and cast in North America. That is the rub. There is no such provision for Quebec's aluminum. The amendment also states that 10 years after entry into force of this agreement, the parties will review the appropriate requirements in the interest of the parties so that aluminum can be considered as originating from North America.
Groupe Performance Stratégique, or GPS, examined the absence of a definition for aluminum similar to the definition included for steel in the protocol of amendment, and the economic impact this will have on Quebec between 2020 and 2029. According to GPS, the absence of this definition will jeopardize six major projects on the North Shore and in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, in other words, the heart of Quebec's aluminum sector. The authors explained that Mexico can continue to transform primary aluminum purchased at a very low price from China or elsewhere and export it to the United States.
I am pleased that my colleagues from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean are here for the debate, because those six projects involve construction investments worth about $6.2 billion. I am sure everyone would agree that that is a lot of money. Between 2020 and 2029, if you add up the combined economic impact of the development and construction phases of the six projects, we are talking about investments worth $12.2 billion and 60,000 jobs created, at an average salary of $59,775.
These projects would generate revenues of more than $900 million for the Government of Quebec and almost $325 million for the Government of Canada. These projects would also produce 829,000 new tons of the greenest aluminum on the planet.
As we have been told repeatedly by the government, nothing in the former NAFTA protected the aluminum sector. We agree. This addition may look like progress, yet that is exactly where the problem lies. They are mixing up aluminum parts and aluminum. My colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean just talked about that. Why is aluminum, a Quebec product, not being offered the same protection as steel, which is a product of other provinces? That is where the problem lies and I will say that we are going to stand firm on this issue.
The definition of steel is clear. It includes the entire process, from melting, to mixing to coating. This will come into effect in seven years. Auto and parts manufacturers will have time to switch suppliers and to start purchasing North American steel. That is all very well and good. We have no problems with that at all.
However, a definition for “originating good” was not adopted for aluminum. Back in 2018, since there was no definition, the agreement was nothing more than a statement of intent that essentially allows automobile and parts manufacturers to get their primary aluminum wherever they want.
I should point out that Canada is the only of the three signatory countries for which protection against Chinese dumping is a real issue. In Quebec, it is imperative. For parts manufacturers in Ontario, this will be more of a long-term issue, which may explain why the government is so reluctant to deal with it.
Now, I want to talk about dairy farmers. Quebec needs a strong voice standing up for it, and we hope to be that strong voice. As members know, supply management is extremely important in Quebec, but less so in the rest of Canada. This is what makes us different as a people, as a nation. This is why we will not compromise on this.
Since 2001, which, coincidentally is the same time when the Bloc lost its recognized party status, there have been three breaches in supply management. When the Bloc had power, there were no breaches in supply management. Once again, this very fact demonstrates why we need to be here.
The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, or CUSMA, opens up a new breach in supply management that will take away more than 3% of our dairy market, which amounts to a loss of about $150 million a year, every year. The government announced that there would be full compensation. Let us be clear about the nature of that compensation. It is out of the question for this support to come in the form of a modernization program, like the fiasco that happened in 2018 with the European agreement. We are demanding a direct support program, starting with the next budget. That is what farmers are calling for. We will not budge on this either.
One issue that is not getting much attention, but that has the potential to destabilize the industry, is milk protein. Consumers in both Canada and the United States are drinking less milk but eating more butter, cream, cheese and ice cream. This leaves dairy farmers with surplus protein to dispose of. The Canadian International Trade Tribunal ruled in 2006 that above a certain concentration, these proteins became so denatured that they could no longer be considered dairy products and were therefore no longer subject to supply management, the existing laws that prohibit cross-border imports. The American agrochemical industry has developed milk protein concentrates designed specifically to circumvent supply management and enable U.S. farmers to dump their surplus into the Canadian market at lower prices than our farmers can afford to sell for. In Canada, the price paid to farmers is regulated by the Canadian Dairy Commission, as we know. However, imports of diafiltered milk, which does not even deserve to be called milk, have simply skyrocketed.
From zero in 2008, they shot up to 20,000 kilograms in 2014 and 33,000 kilograms in 2015, and they probably would have kept rising.
To solve the problem, farmers came to an agreement with processors on a price that would enable them to switch from American diafiltered milk to our domestic surplus protein. Their agreement was endorsed by Ottawa, the Canadian Dairy Commission, the provinces and the marketing boards.
Canada created a new class of dairy products, surplus protein, that could be sold at a low price. It was commonly known as class 7. Imports of diafiltered milk collapsed, prompting a flurry of irate tweets from U.S. President Trump, who promised to solve the problem during the renegotiation of NAFTA, as members may recall.
In CUSMA, the Americans insisted on spelling out in black and white that Canada would abolish class 7, and Ottawa agreed. To make sure that the class was not revived under a different name, they demanded that they get a say in Canada's protein trade. This whole section of the agreement is deeply disappointing to farmers, but sadly, with a certain sense of resignation, they are giving up the fight. They are not asking the government to push back on this. What they are asking for is a little time to adjust, as much time as is necessary and reasonable.
The government's eagerness to hastily ratify this agreement could cause a lot of harm. Let us take our time on a debate like this one. Let us not rush through this or there will be collateral victims.
Right now, our dairy farmers are selling some of their surplus milk protein concentrates on international markets, for example, in Asia and the Middle East.
The wording of CUSMA regarding the trade of protein concentrates seems to give the United States a say in all of our exports. Washington could decide to limit the quantity of protein concentrates that our farmers can sell to third country markets. Depending on how this CUSMA provision is interpreted, Washington could limit the quantity of protein concentrates that our farmers have the right to sell to the rest of the world. This would enable the Americans to get rid of a competitor on global markets at very little cost. It is a first in the history of international trade to give a foreign country oversight over our trade with the rest of the world. It basically hands over a part of Canada's sovereignty to Washington.
Our producers are likely to end up with huge surpluses of milk solids they cannot sell, which would totally destabilize the system. As written, CUSMA makes that catastrophic scenario a possibility, but the wording is unclear. We need clarity about things like that before we can support the agreement.
Fortunately, there will be a process to debate it. We are perfectly willing to do our job as parliamentarians with the government and the other opposition parties, but let me make it clear that some things are off the table. We are willing to compromise, but not to be compromised.
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