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View Lenore Zann Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Lenore Zann Profile
2020-01-30 13:17 [p.697]
Madam Speaker, for over a year, Canada has been negotiating very hard for a modernized free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, now called CUSMA or the new NAFTA. We knew how important it was to get it right and to get a fair deal that was good for Canadian workers and good for Canadian businesses and communities. We did everything in our power to protect jobs, create more opportunity for Canadian workers and their families and to ensure the growth of our economy. I believe it has paid off.
The new NAFTA will benefit Canadians from every corner of the country and will reinforce the strong economic ties between our three countries. I hope to see support from all colleagues in the House to get the job done.
The new NAFTA also maintains our country's preferential access to the United States and Mexico, which are Canada's largest and third-largest trading partners respectively, while modernizing long, outdated elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement. This includes labour obligations regarding the elimination of employment discrimination based on gender.
This new NAFTA is the very first international trade deal that recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination in its labour chapter. That is very worthy of our support. This includes our obligations regarding the elimination of discrimination based on gender. That is huge.
When it comes to supply management, the U.S. starting position was to completely dismantle Canada's supply management. The U.S. summary of objectives for NAFTA renegotiation was to eliminate the remaining Canadian tariffs on imports of U.S. dairy, poultry and egg products. Our government has defended our supply management system. This agreement will provide some market access, but most important, the future of supply management is now not in question. This is very good for our dairy farmers and for many of the farming sectors.
Our farmers and our dairy producers will be compensated and dairy farmers can start receiving their first cheques this month. In Nova Scotia, we are very pleased about that.
I forgot to say, Madam Speaker, that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Vancouver Centre.
Another aspect of the trade agreement, which is important to Nova Scotia, is agriculture and seafood as well. Our government has worked extremely hard to negotiate and to defend these interests of Canadians. We protected the North American agriculture and agrifood trade. We have protected the Canada-U.S. bilateral agriculture trade of $63 billion; the Canada-Mexico bilateral agricultural trade of $4.6 billion; and through the new NAFTA, we have also made gains for farmers. Through CETA, the CPTPP and the renegotiation of NAFTA, the biggest free trade deals in Canada's history, we have been able to preserve, protect and defend this supply management system.
When it comes to forestry, we feel that Canada's forestry industry supports really good jobs across the country, especially in Nova Scotia, which is important to me. However, we feel the U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber are unfair and unwanted. Work remains of this.
Nova Scotia remains Canada's number one leader in seafood exports, with more than $2 billion in exports or 29% of Canada's total seafood exports. The U.S. remains our closest and largest market, but China is now second, with an increase of 36% of our seafood in the last few years. We hope the new virus does not affect us too much. We have seen some effects momentarily, but we hope that it does not last.
Finally, our government will always stand up for our cultural industry, because it means protecting a $53.8 billion industry, representing over 650,000 quality jobs for Canadians. That is 75,000 jobs in Quebec alone.
The new NAFTA has important benefits for Quebec, including preserving the cultural exemption. It gives Canada flexibility to adopt and maintain programs and policies that support the creation, distribution and development of Canadian artistic expression or content, including in the digital environment. This is very important to creative industries. As a former actor, writer, producer, I for one know how important that is to our bottom line.
That is why Canada stood firm to protect the cultural exemption and our economic interests during the renegotiation of the new NAFTA. We will always defend our cultural sovereignty, because that is the right thing to do for Canada.
When it comes to the environment, the new NAFTA has a new enforceable environmental chapter. This replaces the separate side agreement of before. It upholds air quality and fights marine pollution. We believe that commitments to high levels of environmental protection are an important part of trade agreements. After all, without the environment, we do not have an economy. These protect our workers and they protect our planet.
When it comes to drug prices, our government knows how proud Canadians are of our public health care system. As Canadians, this is part of our identity. We do not have to sit here arguing whether universal medicare is good; we know it is. We also know that the affordability of and access to prescription drugs remains an important issue for so many Canadians, especially our seniors.
That is why budget 2019 takes bold, concrete steps to lay the foundation for national pharmacare, like the creation of a new Canadian drug agency. This is an important issue for our government. Our government will always stand up for our public health care system, and the changes to data protection for biologic drugs may have an impact on costs. I can assure the people that we will work with the provinces and the territories on the potential impact of these changes.
We have worked hard to achieve a very good deal that will benefit all Canadians. The enforceable provisions that protect women's rights, minority rights, indigenous rights and environmental protections are the strongest in any Canadian trade agreement to date. Of that, I believe we can all be very proud.
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