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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-03-13 10:17 [p.2063]
Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today in extraordinary circumstances.
I would like to sincerely and warmly thank all the parties in the House for working with us at such an important time.
I can assure Canadians that the priority of the government and all members of the House is to ensure the health and safety of every Canadian. That is why we are moving the following motion:
That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, following the adoption of this order, the House shall stand adjourned until Monday, April 20, 2020, provided that:
(a) the House shall be deemed to have adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28;
(b) for the supply period ending on March 26, 2020, the eighth allotted day shall be the final allotted day;
(c) the order for the deferred recorded division on the opposition motion standing in the name of the member for Vancouver Kingsway, considered on March 12, 2020, be discharged and the motion be deemed adopted on division;
(d) the motions to concur in Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2020, and interim supply for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2021, be deemed adopted on division and the appropriation bills based thereon be deemed to have been introduced and read a first time, deemed read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole on division, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage on division, deemed read a third time and passed on division;
(e) there shall be 10 allotted days in the supply period ending on June 23, 2020;
(f) a bill in the name of the Minister of Finance, entitled An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act (special warrant), be deemed to have been introduced and read a first time, deemed read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole on division, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage on division, deemed read a third time and passed on division;
(g) currently scheduled committee meetings shall be cancelled;
(h) the order of the day designated for Monday, March 30, 2020, for the consideration of the budget presentation, shall be undesignated;
(i) if, during the period the House stands adjourned, the Speaker receives a notice from the House leaders of all four recognized parties indicating that it is in the public interest that the House remain adjourned until a future date or until future notice is given to the Speaker, the House will remain adjourned accordingly;
(j) Bill C-4, An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, be deemed read a third time and passed;
(k) during the period the House stands adjourned, the House may be recalled, under the provisions of Standing Order 28(3), to consider measures to address the economic impact of COVID-19 and the impacts on the lives of Canadians;
(l) the government’s responses to petitions 431-00042 to 431-00045 be tabled immediately and questions on the Order Paper numbered Q-245 to Q-259 be made into orders for returns and that the said returns be tabled immediately;
(m) the government provide regular updates to representatives of the opposition parties;
(n) any special warrant issued under the Financial Administration Act may be deposited with the Clerk of the House during the period the House is adjourned;
(o) any special warrant issued under the Financial Administration Act and deposited with the Clerk of the House shall be referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the committee shall meet to consider any warrants referred to it within 20 sitting days; and
(p) the House call on the Auditor General of Canada to immediately conduct an audit of the special warrants issued under the Financial Administration Act and that the Auditor General of Canada report his findings to the House no later than June 1, 2021.
Madam Speaker, this decision was taken to help keep all Canadians safe and healthy. We made this decision together, with all the parties, and we did not make it lightly.
Our action today demonstrates that we take this challenge seriously. I want to thank all of the health care workers and professionals.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all health care professionals, who are going through tough times at work as they help us through this crisis.
To Canadians, workers and families; to children concerned for their parents; to sisters and brothers concerned for loved ones and friends, we are all united. We will face this together, and we will get through this together.
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, for your reference, I will start by reminding you of my interventions from yesterday.
First, our unwillingness to support the free trade agreement is largely due to the threat of outsourcing that mining industries are facing. The government talks about possible compensation for the industry as if this is something that would benefit the industry. Even if the industry does receive that money, 60,000 jobs could be in jeopardy, because there is no guarantee that the money would reach Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean or the North Shore.
Second, this agreement does nothing to address the softwood lumber issue. Thirty thousand jobs are at stake, and we are struggling to save our villages. Many villages, especially in my riding, are depending on these issues and free trade deals, which do not protect the softwood lumber industry. This can be a difficult situation.
As for supply management, the whole issue of income stability is a major challenge for farmers. They need to be able to predict their income, but the loopholes that have been created in supply management are making things hard for them. We are increasingly seeing quotas being sold off.
When my speech was interrupted, I was saying that the United States is imposing limitations on our negotiations with other world markets. I think that if we adopted an amendment to change that penalty, we would at least have saved our right to trade with anyone we want and thus preserved our sovereignty.
There are 10,000 dairy farms in Canada, including 5,600 in Quebec. That is a major industry that employs 83,000 people, either directly or indirectly, and generates over $1 billion in taxes for the Government of Quebec. The industry is not asking for any direct subsidies. It is a matter of pride, and unfortunately, the decisions on compensation will take advantage of that. Dairy producers do not want the government's charity. They want to be independent and successful. Their prosperity is essential to the vitality of the agricultural life of the small family farms scattered around Quebec's towns and villages.
In closing, in my opinion, Quebec is the big loser in this agreement. The compensation was provided at Quebec's expense. The Government of Canada says that it wants us to work together and that it is reaching out to us. That implies being open to Quebec's demands. It is therefore irresponsible to sign this agreement without adding protections for supply management and aluminum and without putting an end to the softwood lumber dispute.
Could Canada listen to the solutions proposed by Quebec? For now, it is obvious that the federal government has once again abandoned Quebec's economy.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-02-06 10:12 [p.994]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my Bloc Québécois colleague. I think we are on the same wavelength and that, for the most part, we have similar concerns about the new NAFTA.
However, Green Party members have decided to vote in favour of ratifying the agreement because of the improvements that have been made, such as eliminating chapter 11, which gave big U.S. corporations the right to bring arbitration cases against Canada. Our country has been on the losing end of most arbitration cases related to Canadian health and environmental protection laws.
I have a question for the Bloc member. Does he agree that, without chapter 11, the new NAFTA is much better?
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent question.
For me, being here in the House is certainly not about opposing trade or free trade. Quite the opposite. I wish I too could vote in favour of the motion.
The motion is unacceptable to me because of factors vital to industrial sectors in Quebec and its regions, such as aluminum and softwood lumber. Still, there are some positives, such as preserving Quebec's culture. I recognize those efforts.
When I weigh the pros and the cons, however, and I see that $6 billion worth of investment in one industry is at stake, there is no way I can stand up in the House and agree to hand the government a blank cheque.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from the Bloc Québécois a question about our economic competitiveness, which I think very much relates to what we are discussing this morning. It is very important that we are able to develop our natural resources in Canada. Projects like Teck Frontier allow us to create jobs in the country and support the development of our energy sector so Quebec does not have to be reliant on foreign oil but can instead benefit from lower-cost, high-quality Canadian oil. I would think the Bloc Québécois members would be supportive of the principle of allowing provincial autonomy and supporting provinces in pursuing their own aspirations, even if they may be different from each other. In that spirit of provincial autonomy and co-operation, is my colleague willing to express his support for the Teck Frontier project?
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question.
The principle of provincial autonomy is at the very core of the Canadian Confederation, and clearly it is important to us, the Bloc Québécois. I respect the decisions that Alberta might make with respect to its economic development. However, Quebec has decided not to rely on the oil industry.
I made the personal decision to buy an all-electric car. Why? In my opinion, we must develop a green and circular economy. We have to transition away from an oil economy because of the inherent costs. There is always a cost to doing things.
Of course I am very sensitive to the issue of jobs in the energy sector. Moreover, we are creating a new economy by investing in research and development in electric vehicles, self-driving vehicles and the capacity of our batteries. That is much more promising for the economy of tomorrow. That is the choice I have made as a Quebecker, and my decisions will foster sustainable development.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-06 10:16 [p.995]
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his thoughtful and reasoned speech.
As my colleague pointed out, we see that the three key sectors of Quebec's economy—wood, aluminum, and supply management—were each sacrificed in trade agreements, one after another.
As we know, the Canadian economy is thought to run on two sectors, namely the auto sector in Ontario and the oil and gas sector in Alberta.
In light of such outrageous projects as Teck Frontier, I would like to ask my colleague his thoughts on this unacceptable situation where the Canadian economy is considered only on the basis of two major industries, the auto sector and oil and gas.
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the auto industry is a fine example of what has hurt Quebec. Many free trade agreements have been signed at Quebec's expense.
In regard to the difference between steel and aluminum in the current agreement, I will again refer to the quote by Jean Simard, president of the Aluminium Association of Canada. The day before yesterday, at the Standing Committee on Finance, my colleague from Joliette asked him whether he preferred an agreement like the one in place for the steel sector. His answer was unequivocal. I will rephrase it so as not to directly quote anyone. He said that the association was on the verge of getting what it had asked for through representations by his team and the Deputy Prime Minister. At the end of the negotiations, Mexico said yes to steel and no to aluminum for strategic reasons. That is what is at issue.
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 John Nater Profile
CPC (ON)
View John Nater Profile
2020-02-06 10:28 [p.997]
Mr. Speaker, when Bill C-4, an act to implement the agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, is referred to committee, could the government commit to supporting a proposal at committee to have other committees, in addition to the trade committee, study the provisions of Bill C-4 and the impacts within their respective mandates in the same manner that budget bills have been considered at committee in recent years?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-02-06 10:28 [p.997]
Mr. Speaker, the government is supportive of adopting the process that has been used in the past for budget implementation legislation. Under this process, the chair of the Standing Committee on International Trade would write to the other committees and invite them to do a subject matter review of the relevant provisions of the legislation, as long as the motion contains a fixed date and time for the start and end of clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-02-06 10:29 [p.997]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
Dumping has been condemned by all industrialized countries and by the WTO. Everyone knows that the Chinese dump products, meaning that they sell their products at prices below the production costs. China is banned from exporting aluminum to Canada and the United States because of this practice. The solution is simple. China exports aluminum to Mexico, and the Mexicans turn it into auto parts, which they send to the United States to be used in auto manufacturing. That is how this agreement sanctions Chinese dumping in North America.
My question is very simple, and I hope to get a simple answer. The agreement that the government is so proud of has a 70% rule for aluminum car parts. Could that percentage include car parts manufactured in Mexico from Chinese aluminum? Is it possible that Chinese aluminum alone could be used to manufacture 70% of a car's parts?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-02-06 10:30 [p.997]
Mr. Speaker, the agreement would increase the use of aluminum in cars manufactured in North America to 70%. My colleague knows that this percentage used to be zero.
We can certainly look into different mechanisms that will allow us to ensure that the aluminum comes from North America, and largely from Quebec, where we produce excellent aluminum that is also very clean. We care just as much as the Bloc Québécois about standing up for our aluminum sector, our industries and our regions.
We can also look at working on border controls in Mexico, where we could, for example, develop enhanced traceability mechanisms that would allow us to track aluminum.
However, this can only be possible if the agreement is signed. I urge my colleagues and friends in the Bloc to support this agreement.
View Scott Duvall Profile
NDP (ON)
View Scott Duvall Profile
2020-02-06 10:31 [p.998]
Mr. Speaker, I have some concerns with the agreement when it comes to our sovereignty. Clause 32 states that if we begin negotiations on a trade deal with a non-market economy such as China, we need to have the permission of the U.S. If we do not get that permission, we cannot trade and we get kicked out of CUSMA.
Does Mexico also have to get permission? Do the Americans have to get permission from us? If they do not, why not? Why is that clause in there only for Canada?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-02-06 10:32 [p.998]
Mr. Speaker, we talk about sovereignty. Canada is a sovereign country that stood up for its workers, industries and regions. This is why we got so many good things out of this agreement. This is what allowed us to protect our cultural industries. This is what allowed us to protect the workers in the aluminum sector. This is what will allow us to be able to export more to the States and to protect our long-term relationship with and access to the United States of America.
Once again, this is a very good deal. It is a good agreement. I look forward to adopting this trade agreement with the support of my colleagues from all parties in the House.
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-02-06 10:32 [p.998]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to enter the debate on such an important bill.
I find it very interesting that my colleague across the way, the government House leader, said very emphatically that this is a better agreement. There are some very serious issues that need to be addressed in relation to whether that is, in fact, the case.
In the course of debate over the last number of days, some questions from the Conservatives and other parties have been brought forward. There are serious unanswered questions about the impacts this new trade agreement will have on Canada and our role in the integrated North American market.
I will emphasize that the Conservatives believe very fundamentally in the need for free trade. It was Conservatives who pioneered the first NAFTA. I am very proud that it is part of our legacy. Canada first built a trade agreement with the United States and it was expanded in the late eighties and early nineties to include Mexico. It has left a legacy: Trade with the United States went from approximately $290 billion U.S. in 1993 to $1.2 trillion U.S. in 2018. That is significant, and it affects each and every one of us and each of our constituencies, as jobs are directly affected.
I would suggest that this agreement is simply a reworking of the old agreement. It is referred to as CUSMA, USMCA in the United States, but I would more accurately describe it as NAFTA 0.5 or HALFTA, as I referred to it earlier. It is a bit like a car. The first one was a massive improvement and then one buys a new car. After 30 years, there have been changes and upgrades, but it is really just like a paint job on that old car. A few features have been added, but some pretty serious things, like the power steering for example, have been removed.
One of the big issues opposition members face is that some questions remain. The Deputy Prime Minister said that as soon as the economic analysis is available, it will be available to all members. Negotiating a free trade agreement without the proper economic analysis is troublesome. It shows that the government should have been ahead of some of these very important issues.
Many Canadians have reached out to me to say that it is important we have this agreement, as devastating consequences will happen if it does not go through. However, they are not pleased with the way the negotiations took place, the uncertainty that has existed over the last number of years and, in large part, the actions that left our minds boggled, quite frankly.
The Prime Minister stood up and almost insulted the President of the United States at a press conference, and the President responded quickly with some tweets that said he heard what the Canadian Prime Minister said. That set Canada back. The Deputy Prime Minister participated in some events in Washington as well. Having been a political staffer myself, it should have been the advice of professionals that we avoid doing things that would draw the ire of those we are supposed to find agreement with. However, we saw time and time again that the actions of the members opposite in the last session of Parliament led to some significant sacrifices being made.
I do want to give credit where credit is due. The members opposite asked some officials to speak to members of the opposition this past week in a briefing to give members of the opposition the opportunity to ask questions regarding the new NAFTA agreement. It was very much appreciated, but some of the answers to the questions led to more questions that still have not been answered.
In fact, I find it very interesting that the members opposite brag about the environmental provisions. It is my understanding that many of the environmental provisions that are included in the HALFTA are simply the enshrining of many of the bilateral agreements and trilateral agreements that have been negotiated, from the 1993 version to today. They are simply included in the new agreement. That makes sense, but I find it ironic that the members opposite would claim credit for those all being their part of the agreement when really it has been the concerted effort of not only the government across the way, but of the previous Conservative government and the previous Liberal governments before that, to continue the evolution of trade within the integrated North American market.
One of the members in the other party asked specifically about some of the environmental promises that were made. The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and other members of the government at the time stood up and said that these are their priorities. Our incredibly talented negotiating team has done lots of good work. When asked if the team had accomplished those objectives, the answer was pretty unequivocal in saying, hardly at all. I am not sure if “hardly at all” would represent, in the words of the government House leader, that this is a better agreement, when the lead negotiator is saying that the team did not get what it wanted.
The sunset clause is another great example. When the President's son-in-law, a core adviser, came out and said that the agreement would be reviewed after six years and it would expire after 16 years, it was, in the beginning, a non-starter for the members opposite. They said it could not happen. Suddenly, there are a lot of things that they said could not happen that have happened. Jared Kushner said in an op-ed that was published on CNBC earlier this week that it was imperative that the United States retain leverage in any of its trading relationships. They got the sunset clause, and that leaves the power of this in the hands of the United States.
There are many aspects of the deal that leave significant questions. We have examples time and again where there are questions of trust. Can the government be trusted? I would like to say yes, but many of my constituents remind me on a daily basis and I am pleased to have a very strong mandate to ask some of these tough questions and say that my constituents do not trust the actions of this Liberal government, whether it be on the environment or the caps on vehicle production.
There were not caps before, but there are today. The government members say they are so high that it does not matter. That is not a very optimistic outlook on the Canadian economy.
Regarding steel and aluminum, the Liberals say the 70% is there so it is better than it was before. My understanding is that there was not a need for those caps in the past because virtually all the aluminum specifically came from North America and they could not get the same protections on aluminum that they got on steel. Those are serious questions.
Serious questions are being asked by many of my constituents who are very involved in the agricultural industry, about the supply-managed industries. It drew the ire of the American President, yet many of the stakeholders, farmers and producers in my constituency are facing significant questions about the future of the compensation related to the increased market access and various questions around that. Real questions of trust exist.
I am proud to support free trade and I am proud that our party has been the party of free trade. However, it is important that Conservatives fulfill the democratic obligation that we have to ask the tough questions of this agreement and ensure that Canadians know exactly what we are signing and the long-term effects that this agreement would have on the current status of our country and also on future generations.
We are talking about the economic future of our country, and it is important that these difficult questions be asked.
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
2020-02-06 10:43 [p.999]
Mr. Speaker, I have talked to British Columbians and people in Surrey—Newton and they are very happy we concluded this agreement. It is very important that small and medium-sized businesses and workers have stability and predictability. It is not only for people in British Columbia, though. In fact, in the member's province, his premier, Jason Kenney, says he is very happy with this.
Will the member stand in the House this afternoon and support the agreement?
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-02-06 10:44 [p.999]
Mr. Speaker, it is important to acknowledge aspects of what the member insinuated in the premise.
Yes, we need this agreement. We need an agreement. However, we have a democratic obligation to make sure that the tough questions get asked. The question of trust, which I referred to a number of times throughout my speech, is absolutely key. Canadians do not necessarily trust that the government negotiated the right deal for Canada.
A deal is better than no deal, no question. However, there are many aspects to this deal, and in large part to the actions of the government, that have led to poorer outcomes compared to what we have. There are very serious questions.
I do plan to support the agreement, but it needs to be studied properly to make sure that all the outstanding questions can be answered. For the government to suggest that members should simply rubber-stamp a deal without asking those tough questions is, quite frankly, not an accurate representation of the job that each and every one of us has to do in the House.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-06 10:45 [p.999]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his fine performance.
He pointed out that the government ratified the agreement without first analyzing its economic repercussions. We carried out an analysis for aluminum, and I can tell my colleague that the fact that aluminum did not get the same protection as steel is jeopardizing a $6-billion investment, as well as 60,000 jobs. Between 2020 and 2029, the actions of the Liberal government will cost the aluminum industry a total of $16 billion.
I have a simple question for my colleague. Given that no economic analysis was done, is he planning to vote for or against the agreement this afternoon?
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-02-06 10:46 [p.1000]
Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased that the government House leader committed to making sure that every aspect of the bill will be studied by the relevant committees. That is a positive step forward in ensuring that we get all of these questions answered. The question my hon. colleague asked can be clearly answered as well. We need to make sure we know what we are talking about when we conclude debate on this important agreement.
View Mel Arnold Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mel Arnold Profile
2020-02-06 10:46 [p.1000]
Mr. Speaker, it was interesting to hear the hon. member compare this to buying a used car.
Has the member heard the same things in his riding as I have in my riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap? I have heard that when this issue came up and President Trump was talking about renegotiating NAFTA with Mexico, it was our Prime Minister who jumped in and said, without even being asked, that Canada would be happy to renegotiate NAFTA. As an analogy, I would compare that to when people go to a car lot with a car that is broken down and badly in need of repair. They know they will not be able to drive it off the lot and the salesman knows the same, so they are put in a very bad negotiation position.
What we have ended up with is a forced deal instead of a good deal.
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-02-06 10:47 [p.1000]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. I closely followed the last American election, and the President made a big deal of targeting NAFTA as one of the tenets of his platform. During the election, the target was NAFTA in relation to Mexico.
However, our Prime Minister stood up and made it very clear that he was pleased to jump into negotiations, no matter what the cost. I would suggest that the cost has had a significant impact on this country.
Unless some of the serious questions are answered that I and others have raised, it may have significant long-lasting impacts on the Canadian economy, which will ultimately affect each of the constituencies represented in the House.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, today we are debating the new NAFTA, the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, known as CUSMA in this country.
The original NAFTA was signed in 1994 by the Liberals. It was negotiated by the Conservatives. It promised more jobs and secure access to the largest markets in the world. Supporters of that agreement will point out that Canada's GDP and cross-border trade have grown since that agreement was signed, but those benefits have bypassed many Canadian workers.
In that time, Canada lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs. Its textile industry was devastated, because that agreement allowed those jobs to migrate to areas such as Mexico and the southern U.S. where there were lower labour costs. Canada just lost out.
Wealth inequality in Canada grew because the GDP benefits the trade agreement engendered went largely to shareholders and corporations instead of to workers. If we look at any graph comparing GDP with the real wages of Canadians, the wages flatline while the GDP goes up.
The NDP has always supported fair trade, but in many of our free trade agreements there are provisions and clauses that are anything but fair. One of them in the original NAFTA was the proportionality clause, which gave the United States the right to demand a constant proportion of our oil and gas shipments.
If we produced oil and gas and the Americans were getting 60% of it, we had to make sure they got 60%. Whether we doubled our output or it came down by half, the United States could keep that proportion, even if we felt it was in Canada's interests to keep it to ourselves.
Another flaw in many of our trade agreements, not just NAFTA but also the trans-Pacific partnership and with China, is the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, or ISDS, which in NAFTA was chapter 11. As many people know, that allowed corporations to sue the government in Canada if they felt it had made changes to regulations that affected their profitability. Even if Canada was doing that as a way of protecting our environment and the health of Canadians, American corporations could sue the Canadian government to reverse those changes.
One of the most egregious examples of this was mentioned by the members for Saanich—Gulf Islands and Elmwood—Transcona in their speeches. I would like to say it again.
In 1997, shortly after NAFTA was signed, the American company Ethyl Corporation was making a gasoline additive called MMT. Canada was concerned because MMT was a suspected neurotoxin, and Canada worried about the effects it had on people. Car manufacturers did not like MMT because it gummed up the on-board diagnostics in cars, so Canada banned it.
Ethyl Corporation sued Canada and won, in one of the secret NAFTA tribunals associated with chapter 11 disputes. Canada was forced not only to pay Ethyl Corporation $19.5 million in damages but also to reverse those regulatory changes and allow the use of MMT in Canada. We then had to get on our knees and apologize to Ethyl Corporation for doing that. Here we were, trying to assert our sovereignty with respect to the health of our people and our environment.
Canada has been faced with many of these challenges through NAFTA, far more than the United States or Mexico. When countries go into these so-called free trade agreements, they often give up their sovereignty.
This new agreement is better in two ways. One is that chapter 11 is gone, thank goodness. The NDP is very happy about that. We wish we could have gotten rid of it in the agreements that we have in the CPTPP and our agreements with China. It is a little better in CETA, thanks to the actions of Germany, which softened those provisions, but the NDP is very happy that chapter 11 is gone and that the proportionality clause is gone.
Those are two good things that New Democrats like about this new agreement.
I will move on to the things that maybe are not so good. For one thing, it extends drug patent protection in Canada from eight years to 10 years. That adds two years on to the time that Canadians have to pay drug companies full price for the drugs they develop.
Canadian drug companies were doing fine with the eight years, and we were benefiting. After eight years, we could use generic substitutes for those drugs, and it brought our drug prices down quite a bit. We are still paying some of the highest drug prices in the world, but now we are going to have to pay those very high prices for another two years. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said it will cost Canadians $169 million for every year that Canada has to pay drug companies because of that provision.
This agreement also gives away more of our dairy market to foreign suppliers, and that is exacerbated by the fact that we have already done that in our agreements with the European Union and the trans-Pacific partnership countries. We have now opened up our dairy market by 10%. This agreement is for 3.6%.
Regarding the dairy products we are getting from the U.S., I hear concerns from my constituents that those dairy producers are allowed to use bovine growth hormone, something that boosts milk production in cows, but has unknown effects on humans and some serious effects on the health of the cows themselves. Therefore, people are very concerned that we are degrading the products that we are now forced to use.
I recently talked with a dairy producer in British Columbia. His company produces milk protein products, and this is another example of giving away our sovereignty. The United States now has the ability not only to control how much of our products such as those go to the United States, but also to control how much we export anywhere in the world. The United States has a say over that.
I want to cover a couple of points on trade that are very concerning in my riding but are not covered in this deal. One is the softwood lumber dispute, which is not covered at all. I am very happy to hear that the U.S. commerce department has decided to lower the illegal tariffs that we have been suffering through recently. We are anxiously awaiting the end to that almost unending dispute.
Another is with the wine producers in my riding, in the Okanagan Valley, which produces the finest wine in Canada. Other countries, the United States and Australia, are concerned because our wine producers do not have to pay an excise tax to the federal government if they produce wine from Canadian grapes.
That has really driven the growth in our wine industry. It has been a huge benefit. Now we are being battled on the international trade market, especially because of the automatic escalator in that excise tax. The finance minister tells me they are not really willing to negotiate.
The NDP looks forward to debating this in committee. We want to see if this agreement is a better deal than the old NAFTA. That is the big question.
View Marwan Tabbara Profile
Ind. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to discuss one part of the deal.
The member wanted to know if this was a better deal than the old NAFTA. I want to talk about the automotive sector and what the U.S. first initiated in the deal.
It wanted 50% U.S. content on any vehicles. It also wanted a 25% tariff on vehicles that were exported to the United States. Under no circumstances did our government and the negotiating team cave in to this. We wanted to ensure that these tariffs were not imposed on the automotive sector, and I have a Toyota motor manufacturing company in my riding, as it is one of our biggest sectors. It employs 500,000 people. Therefore, we wanted to ensure we had a good deal for them. There also was a wage increase to $16.
Does the member think this is a good deal for the automotive sector?
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, it comes to the question of whether this is a better deal than the one we had.
The Canadian auto sector has really suffered lately. I am not an expert in the auto sector, but we need fair trade agreements that really protect Canadian jobs. The member mentioned the wage increase. That may well be another example of where this agreement is better than the old agreement, if those wage provisions slow down the movement of Canadian jobs to Mexico and the United States. We want to see the details.
The NDP really would like to see a new transparent process of debating trade agreements before we go into negotiations. We want the government to say that this is what it wants, that these are its priorities, that it wants to do this for the auto sector, etc.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I have asked few members this question. One of my friends in the Green Party has sent me a link about it and has suggested I read it, and I will. My views having not yet changed, I want to ask my colleague about investor-state provisions.
It seems to me to be a matter of common sense. If a Canadian company is operating in a jurisdiction like Mexico and we have an agreement that should give that company certain rights, then that company should be able to go to some kind of independent arbitration mechanism, not just the courts of that country, to ensure that its rights, which are supposed to be guaranteed under the agreement, are respected. This means the same could happen in Canada. A company from a partner country can seek a remedy if it feels its rights under the agreement have not been respected. Surely that is reasonable. Surely that is the kind of framework we would expect in any rule-of-law country.
It is interesting to hear my NDP colleagues, particularly, objecting to this kind of remedy, when I think they would accept, in principle, that we should have domestic courts that companies can take governments to if they feel the law or their rights have not been respected.
I am curious to hear the member's thoughts on what the difference is.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, if that is the fair way, then why are Canadian companies not allowed to take the government to court when environmental or health laws are passed which affect them? They do not have that avenue available to them. There might be egregious examples in other countries, but I do not think Canada would treat another corporation completely unfairly.
These are not the situations where we have been taken to court under chapter 11. It is companies that feel they have an avenue open to them, where they can get some money out of the Canadian government because it has changed the rules which may affect their profitability.
The point is that Canadian companies do not have those avenues available within Canada, so why should we give those avenues to foreign countries?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-06 11:05 [p.1002]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice of the House, when no member rises to speak on the motion for the 2nd reading stage of Bill C-4, An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, or at 1:59 p.m., whichever comes first, every question necessary to dispose of the said stage of the said bill shall be deemed put, and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until immediately after Oral Questions this day.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-02-06 11:07 [p.1002]
Mr. Speaker, I apologize for interrupting, but for unanimous consent, typically it is important to ask every member in advance. Given that it would only be my objection, I just want it on the record that I will go along with this, but I would have preferred to have been consulted in advance.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-02-06 11:07 [p.1002]
The House gives its unanimous consent for the motion to be moved.
The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-02-06 11:07 [p.1002]
Mr. Speaker, the motion moved by my colleague from Winnipeg North means that time is running out on this debate, but I want to point out how important free trade is to the Conservatives.
We are the free trade party. We want Canada to succeed on the world stage through free trade. We want to have a successful trade relationship with the United States and Mexico, but we want that to be a winning situation for Canadians.
We have some major concerns about this agreement, which some people have rightly described as HALFTA or the new NAFTA. Unfortunately, it is not a NAFTA that everyone is satisfied with. We have some very serious questions about it.
As I just mentioned, we want to have successful trade relationships with other countries, particularly the United States. That is why, during the previous Parliament, our political leaders, the Hon. Rona Ambrose and the hon. leader of the official opposition and member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, went to Washington to plead the case of trade between Canada and the United States.
Some of our members shared that responsibility. The members for Durham, Oshawa and Brantford—Brant also went to Washington to argue the case for trade between our two countries. We want that relationship to succeed, but we have some concerns. One of them is softwood lumber. There is nothing in the agreement to resolve the softwood lumber issue.
How is it that this agreement includes absolutely nothing about the Buy American Act? We can see why the Americans would want to protect their Buy American Act, which favours American companies to meet the needs of American consumers. However, we also know that in a free trade agreement negotiation, that legislation has to at least be on the table. We have to recognize that this was not the case.
We also have concerns about what happened with aluminum, and I will have the opportunity to come back to that a little later in my speech.
We are the free trade party of Canada, and we are very proud of that. This situation got its roots in 1983, during the leadership campaign of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
Let me remind members that in 1983, the late Hon. John Crosbie, a guy from Newfoundland, as everybody knows so well, was a very strong when he talked about some things. He was the first politician in the House of Commons to raise the issue of a free trade agreement with America during the leadership race. It was in the interests of our country. However, he was alone at that time. Who was the first opponent of the free trade agreement with America? It was the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney. However, Mr. Mulroney was elected as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1983, elected as prime minister in 1984 and was re-elected in 1988 because of the free trade agreement we had with the Americans.
I want to recall this history because sometimes we have to move forward. Even if we oppose something, things move on. When we realize that it is good, we have to walk on the paint, as we used to say in French. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney did that for the future and wealth of the country, with such success.
Five million jobs have been created in Canada since we concluded the free trade agreement with the Americans in 1988. In fact, Canadians showed their support for that agreement in the 1988 election. That election was practically a referendum. We will recall that other parties, like the current governing party, were fiercely opposed, but fortunately they too have come around. They now agree with free trade. That initial agreement was then extended to Mexico, our European partners and our Asian partners.
Let me pay all my respect to the hon. member for Abbotsford, who was my seatmate when I arrived in the House four years ago. I had the privilege of chatting with him many times. Yes, I listened to every speaker at the time, but I learned so much from my chats with my colleague from Abbotsford. More than that, the member for Abbotsford was the longest-serving international trade minister in Canadian history, and he achieved so much: agreements with European and Pacific partners.
Today, Canada is the country of free trade.
Canada has trade agreements with nearly 50 countries. We are the country of free trade, and we should be proud of that. That is why we still have concerns about NAFTA 0.5, which we are now debating.
When the negotiations began, the current government wanted to be the good guys, as they say, and purer than pure. It said that it was going to table a progressive agenda and put forward some concerns. I remember quite well that the hon. member for Durham asked the government to look after Canadians' jobs before talking about its progressive agenda. Those holier-than-thou people were not shy about calling us names and saying that we were against women, first nations, the LGBT community and many others, when all we wanted to do was talk about jobs.
What happened to that famous progressive agenda when they got to the table? The Liberals set it aside to talk about jobs. It was about time. When it came time to negotiate with real partners, these self-righteous people realized that we Conservatives were right.
Unfortunately, we have concerns about the forestry industry, among others. There has been no progress on this issue. It has literally been set aside.
We also have concerns about the fact that the Buy American Act is still in effect. The chair of the ways and means committee of the U.S. House of Representatives said that the current Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister had conceded to just about every point for one reason: enforceability. Our American partner said that. The U.S. is very happy for Canada to have capitulated, which does not bode well for the future.
It is important to acknowledge that the big loser in these negotiations is the aluminum industry. Even though the people in the aluminum industry and the unions are saying that the agreement must be signed and that we agree on that, we must recognize that the people most affected by this agreement are aluminum workers.
I am very proud of the work accomplished by my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. Since day one, he has been defending the workers and citizens of his riding tooth and nail. We are here to represent the people in our ridings. I am very proud to represent the people of Louis—Saint-Laurent. They are not directly and negatively affected by the agreement. The hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord's riding accounts for 60% of Canada's aluminum production. When his riding is the one most affected by the agreement, he steps up and works for his constituents. I am very proud of that.
According to today's issue of Le Quotidien, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord is satisfied with the discussions he initiated on the free trade file. He said that he discussed matters with the government and took advantage of pre-budget consultations to question various witnesses about aluminum. He detected enthusiasm for our party's proposals, which was good and showed that our approach is working.
Our approach, the brainchild of the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, is to distinguish Canada's aluminum, which is clean, from aluminum produced abroad and shipped to Mexico before arriving here as auto parts, for example. We are very proud of our colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord for his hard work and for proudly and passionately standing up for the people of his riding.
Conservatives are in favour of free trade. We want a positive trade partnership for Canadian industries. Overall, Canada did well here, but we would have liked to see more progress with respect to the Buy American Act, softwood lumber and aluminum.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-06 11:17 [p.1004]
Mr. Speaker, over the last couple of years we have seen labour groups, businesses, non-profits, members of Parliament and political participants of all political parties come together and participate in a very great debate in order to ensure that all the different industries were represented in this final product, the bill we have before us today. The amount of support we have received is virtually endless.
Would my friend not agree that Canadians as a whole have been very much informed over the last couple of years as to how important this agreement, or an agreement, is between Canada, the United States and Mexico?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-02-06 11:18 [p.1004]
Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we worked for that deal. We worked for the best in these negotiations. Our leaders at the time, the Hon. Rona Ambrose, who was leader of the official opposition, paid visits to our partners in Washington, as did the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. It was the same thing with our colleagues for Brantford—Brant, Oshawa and Durham, who went to Washington to work for Canadians, Canadian businesses and Canadian workers. We did our homework for the goodwill of this country.
Unfortunately, the government failed to recognize what we had done and, more than that, failed to give us documents to study to make our homework better. Also, the government did not consult us during the negotiations. This is why we are very concerned with some issues. I talked about softwood and the Buy American Act, and I also want to talk about dairy farmers.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-06 11:19 [p.1004]
Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed my colleague's speech, even though it was not entirely accurate.
First, aluminum workers' unions never asked us to support the agreement. Quite the opposite.
Second, it is important to note that a delegation from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean came here but, unfortunately, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord did not participate in the press conference we held with them.
During yesterday's meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord asked a question that suggested the $6 billion in spinoffs identified in the study might be illusory.
I have a simple question for my colleague. Nobody really knows where the Conservatives stand now. Do they think aluminum is worth fighting for or not?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-02-06 11:20 [p.1004]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to my colleague that the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord participated in the meetings when stakeholders from Chicoutimi and the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region came to Ottawa. He met with them and always works with them. He is in direct and constant contact with them. It is very important to have that type of approach.
I will repeat what I said earlier. I am very proud to see the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord rise in the House and do his job on behalf of his constituents every day. That is why we are here.
We know that Quebec's premier, among others, has said that it is a good agreement and that we must move forward with it. We also know that the aluminum industry believes that we must move forward with this agreement. We know all that, but we have seen that the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord works every day on behalf of his constituents and we are very proud of that.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-02-06 11:21 [p.1004]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent and say that our Quebec caucus on this side has done a wonderful job on aluminum. It is the greenest aluminum in the world and it should be recognized as part of this trade agreement, but it is not. We are really worried on this side of the House that China is going to bring aluminum in through Mexico and then up, aluminum that is not as clean as Canada's Quebec aluminum. I would like the hon. member to talk about that.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-02-06 11:21 [p.1004]
Mr. Speaker, thanks to the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, we are now talking about green aluminum. We are now talking about the difference in our aluminum, which is one of the best in the world, if not the best. That is especially the case in Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, because as members know, 60% of Canadian aluminum production is in the riding of the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
This is why we made the distinction between Canadian green aluminum and the others. This is why, thanks to the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and supported by the Quebec caucus and the Conservative caucus, we raised this issue and moved forward with it, as has been recognized by the international trade minister and the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
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 by-election 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 Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
2020-02-06 11:32 [p.1006]
Mr. Speaker, on this side, the Liberals will always defend our cultural sovereignty. We have always defended and stood up for cultural communities.
I remember one instance in the previous Parliament when the international trade committee travelled to the United States. A former member of Parliament, Linda Lapointe, was on that committee. She stood up for cultural exemptions when the United States was not that concerned. We made sure that this was protected.
Having this clause and protecting this clause certainly helps Quebec's cultural sovereignty, helps cultural sovereignty across Canada and protects jobs. Would the hon. member agree?
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, in response to my colleague's question, I do think it was important to modernize the agreement and include the cultural exemption. We consider that to be a positive.
However, we are not looking at this agreement through rose-coloured glasses. When the time comes to make a decision, we do not look at one sentence or two lines only, but rather at the entire agreement. We have made proposals to the government to improve the agreement and make it acceptable to the Bloc Québécois and to Quebeckers. Unfortunately, it is not acceptable in its current form.
Our hope is that, when this is all over, we will have an agreement that will hold up and that we can support.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2020-02-06 11:34 [p.1006]
Mr. Speaker, I agree with much of what my colleague from Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères said in his speech around softwood lumber and the protection of aluminum in Canada. I want to mention the aluminum in Kitimat out in western Canada as well.
The member spoke about the sovereignty of provinces. It is very interesting that he would mention he is annoyed with the federal government about that. In Alberta, we are somewhat like that as well. What is really interesting to me is that day after day, his leader stands up and rails against the Teck Resources mine we are trying to get going in Alberta.
Is that stepping out of the lane? If he is so concerned about Quebec sovereignty, maybe he should stay out of Alberta sovereignty.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I do not think my colleague's question is particularly relevant to the topic we are currently debating, namely the free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico.
However, what bothers us about the Teck Frontier project is that it is using Quebec taxpayers' money to fund oil companies in the rest of Canada, at a time when we are striving to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to do things better. In our view, it is completely counterproductive.
Moreover, as I see it, the fight against climate change has no borders and everyone has to work together. We have a duty to call out actions that harm the planet when we see them.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-02-06 11:35 [p.1007]
Mr. Speaker, I am going to do my best to ask my Bloc Québecois colleague this question in French, although it is hard for me.
Like the Green Party, the Bloc Québecois is speaking out against Teck's oil sands project. However, I have many concerns about the agreement with China, in terms of investment protection. It contains the same thing as chapter 11 of NAFTA, which has been removed from the new NAFTA.
I am worried because we accepted the same type of agreement with China under the former Harper government and because Teck Resources has a lot of investments from China.
I am worried if we say no to Teck, we could have an investor challenge from China against Canada because of the close links between Teck Resources and the People's Republic of China.
My question is, do we have to work towards eliminating all investment agreements?
I would like to know my colleague's opinion.
View Xavier Barsalou-Duval Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her question and for asking it in French. Her French is excellent these days.
In answer to her question, I would point out that we had many concerns and reservations about some aspects of NAFTA chapter 11, which allowed companies to sue governments when laws or regulations did not suit them.
I think it is very important to be vigilant, knowing that such provisions could pop up in other trade agreements. We should try to eliminate them as much as possible, because they undermine state sovereignty and, at the end of the day, it should be the people who decide, not businesses.
The fact that this could indeed apply to Teck's Frontier project really worries me.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
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 Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-06 11:48 [p.1008]
Mr. Speaker, I share the passion of the automobile industry with my colleague. I am more of a Ford guy. I like the Rangers and the Mustangs. I give Chrysler full credit on the K-car and the Caravan. My family history also is very much tied to the automobile industry.
Trade agreements go back to the sixties with the Auto Pact. It was led by the automotive industry in many ways. If we look at the trade agreements since the sixties, we see exceptional strength coming from Canada on the automobile side. I believe this agreement is going to add further value and strength overall to an industry that is not only important to myself and the member opposite, but to all Canadians.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2020-02-06 11:49 [p.1008]
Mr. Speaker, it sounds to me like the member is more a fan of Lee Iacocca, because the Mustang, the K-car and the minivan were all his ideas. It is great to share a common interest with the member.
I agree that Canada has been a leader, particularly with the North American Big Three, but we also see many of the import brands now building factories here in Canada. I would like to see that continue.
The trouble that we are going to see, if I can be a prophet looking into the future, is that as we approach that cap, that is when we are going to see that investment. If people are going to build an expansion on a plant, everyone is going to be looking at each other and playing a game of chicken. As they approach that cap, they might say we are not sure if they are coming online with their plant first or we are coming online with a plant first, so they will not build in Canada. They will build somewhere else to prevent them from being the company that goes over the cap.
View Michel Boudrias Profile
BQ (QC)
View Michel Boudrias Profile
2020-02-06 11:50 [p.1009]
Mr. Speaker, I am a sovereignist, and in the past several days of debate on free trade, I have been hearing many concerns expressed about Canadian sovereignty on trade issues. My colleague talked about it again earlier.
Obviously, when it comes to defending Canadian sovereignty in trade agreements, there is always something called state strategic industries. Energy and aluminum are two examples. Trump used the national security clause, for instance. There needs to be a clear definition of what is sacred and inviolable for the security and prosperity of a typical country. Take, for example, industries like the high-value-added, high-tech aerospace sector.
Is my colleague not concerned about the government's laissez-faire approach to dealing with Washington and other powerful nations in these trade agreements? Is he not concerned about how easily the government gives in and sacrifices certain key sectors?
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2020-02-06 11:51 [p.1009]
Mr. Speaker, I share the member's concerns around Canadian sovereignty and national interest projects. We need to look at how to compete as a country on the world stage.
I would also reference supply management. Often when dairy farmers visit me, one of the things they say is if they do not have supply management, we will not have milk production in Canada, and that would be a national security issue. If we were ever at war, we would not have milk production.
View Laurel Collins Profile
NDP (BC)
View Laurel Collins Profile
2020-02-06 11:52 [p.1009]
Mr. Speaker, in 2017, the Liberals promised an entire chapter on gender equality in this trade deal. According to sources, the renegotiated deal originally included provisions for improving conditions for working women, including provisions around workplace harassment, pay equity and gender equality.
However, these provisions disappeared in the scrubbing process. Do the member and his Conservative colleagues wonder what happened to these provisions? Will he be standing up and speaking out about the need for provisions that improve conditions for women in the workplace?
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2020-02-06 11:53 [p.1009]
Mr. Speaker, yes, we called for this deal to be a better deal than the previous deal had been. We said that we needed to have a deal and were adamant about the fact that a deal needed to be signed. What was very interesting though is that as negotiations went along, Canada was more and more cut out of the negotiations and at the 11th hour signed the deal, without being able to see what was in it.
I have stood in this place and advocated for good labour laws around the world to ensure that human trafficking does not happen, and I am happy to stand up to defend the labour laws of Canada to ensure we have comparable labour laws across North America.
View Peter Kent Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Kent Profile
2020-02-06 11:53 [p.1009]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate in the debate today with mixed feelings. I certainly recognize the need for ratification of this treaty, but I also recognize the need to do the due diligence required to look at a treaty that, by all measures, can be considered as deficient.
We in the official opposition have made clear since the beginning of this debate that Canadian business and industry desperately need the certainty and predictability that ratification of the new NAFTA will provide. Granted, much of the certainty and predictability is that this deficient, retrograde agreement has negative overtones in many ways and many places and it will touch many corners of Canadian society. It will be seen in the dairy and poultry industry, in the aluminum sector and in a number of areas that were not even discussed in the negotiations over the past couple of years by the Liberals and their negotiators, areas such as the softwood lumber problems and of course the American challenges to free trade with regard to the buy America process. These were not even addressed by Canadian negotiators as they were forced to accept an agreement that contains considerably less than the original NAFTA.
I would like to recall the debate that took place in 1988, not in this new House but in the original House of Commons just across the way, when Liberal Party members, led then by John Turner, were vociferously in opposition to the original NAFTA proposal brought in this House by then prime minister Brian Mulroney. John Turner said that he would tear it up if he became prime minister.
The New Democratic Party, in opposition at the time under Ed Broadbent, was also very strongly opposed to the agreement, as it is today, saying that Canada would effectively become the 51st American state of the United States if it was implemented. I regret I have no historic quotes from the Bloc Québécois, because at that time Lucien Bouchard sat in the cabinet of the Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney. The Bloc was still at that point only a spark in the back of Mr. Bouchard's mind.
Looking back at 1988 and the final ratification in 1993, I think we can agree that this new NAFTA is nothing like its predecessor, the original North American Free Trade Agreement.
My colleagues have reminded the House on all sides since the beginning of this debate about the imperfect negotiating process that the Liberals pursued, such as sitting at the table, leaving the table, procrastinating, consulting and then rushing back to the table to be the third party and given a “take it or leave it” trade agreement. I remind the House that Canada's Conservatives support today, and have always supported, free trade with the United States. After all, as I have reminded the House, NAFTA was a Conservative legacy.
Members will recall that when this began, the Prime Minister promised his trade negotiators would come back with a deal better than Canada had before. He spoke of a win-win-win outcome for this negotiation. We know it was certainly a huge win for the United States and a big win for Mexico, but this is definitely not anything like a win for Canada.
When the deficiencies of this backsliding new NAFTA agreement were first presented to Canadians, we in the official opposition asked for, and were assured by the Liberals that they would provide us with, impact analyses of the agreement on the various sectors in Canada with which we saw reason for great concern.
Anyone who ever served in government knows that every department touched by this new agreement, this new treaty, has done a cost-benefit analysis. They have measured the impact in the short term and the long term.
The Liberals promised an analysis statement, and we are still waiting. We hope that the government, which proclaims its commitment to transparency, accountability and evidence-based decisions, will provide this impact data in the days ahead when this debate and study go to committee.
We know that in committee we will get some impact statement, if not from the professional and sectoral associations that desperately want certainty and predictability, even in a negative context. This will address the concerns and fears of the workers, the people and the communities that are about to be impacted by the negatives that this agreement would impose on them.
Of the many deficiencies in this agreement, I mentioned a few at the outset. My colleagues have looked across the spectrum of shortcomings, and I would like to address one that is of great concern to many Canadians. That is the impact on Canada's aluminum sector.
Members will recall that at the beginning of December, when details of the agreement were revealed, we found to our dismay that the deal included a last-minute change to the requirement calling for 70% of the steel and aluminum used in auto production to be purchased in North America.
One of the rules for the steel sector was that the steel must be melted and poured in North America. There was no provision for aluminum. The initial response from the president of the Aluminum Association of Canada has changed in the last few weeks. When Jean Simard discovered the fact that there was diminished protection for Canadian aluminum, he said, “They fought, Canada fought, but they lost....At the very end Mexico said, ‘This is my red line. That’s enough.’ ”
That is the reality, although the Aluminum Association today, again desperate for certainty and desperate to cut its losses, said that yes indeed, it is a good deal, a necessary deal.
I would like to sympathize with those in the sector. In the Côte-Nord, the Lac-Saint-Jean area, Sept-Îles, Alma, Bécancour, Baie-Comeau, Deschambault, Laterrière, Grand-Baie, Arvida, Shawinigan Falls and, of course, on the west coast, in Kitimat, I would like to sympathize with the workers and unions that now see this 70% rule.
The Liberals think this is a great new improvement. They boasted that there was no guarantee for the Canadian aluminum sector in the original NAFTA, and they were right. There was no need for the rule in 1988, in 1993 or until the end of the last century, because until the end of the last century, Canada was a very competitive producer of aluminum. China was an up-and-coming, but still limited, threat to the Canadian market and certainly to the North American market. Under NAFTA, under the Auto Pact, Canada effectively had close to 100% of the aluminum content in the auto production industry.
I understand the negative impact this is having on this major sector of the Quebec economy and the Canadian economy as a whole. Of course, Canadian aluminum is the cleanest.
It is the cleanest around the world.
In conclusion, we will support the bill, but we support it with heavy hearts.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-06 12:04 [p.1010]
Madam Speaker, over the last couple of years I have heard Conservatives say that we should never have even attempted to reopen the trade agreement. I have heard Conservative MPs say that we need to be able to modernize the trade agreement. The Conservatives have challenged the government, saying that to sign any deal would be good.
Over the last couple of years, we have had stakeholders of all forms, including premiers, non-profit sectors, labour organizations and businesses, come together to create a final product today. This agreement is better than what was there in the past. It provides for things such as culture and the environment and makes guarantees for the aluminum industry. These things were not there in the same fashion.
I am wondering if the member sees all of those as positive. Is there anything specific in the agreement that he believes should not be in the agreement?
View Peter Kent Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Kent Profile
2020-02-06 12:05 [p.1010]
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question and the opportunity he has given me to conclude a couple of thoughts with regard to the deficiency in this agreement, as it applies to the aluminum sector.
We see in this agreement that Canada is protected. There is the 70% rule. However, until recently Mexico did not have an aluminum sector. It did not produce aluminum. China is now by far the largest producer of aluminum in the world. China produces 10 times the Canadian metric tonnage of aluminum every year.
As its economy has slowed in recent years, China has been dumping that aluminum around the world. Much of it has gone to Mexico, where it is then transformed magically into a Mexican product, which is being further dumped in Thailand, Vietnam and India. This will certainly have an impact on the Canadian aluminum sector in the automotive industry.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-06 12:06 [p.1011]
Madam Speaker, I want to commend my colleague for his speech. That is the first time that I have heard a well-reasoned speech in the House from anyone other than a Bloc Québécois member.
I would simply like to clarify a small point. As you very rightly pointed out, when NAFTA was originally signed, Canada was the major player in the aluminum industry. Now Mexico produces 15 times more aluminum than Canada. I would like to make a minor distinction. You said that all workers would be affected—
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-06 12:07 [p.1011]
Madam Speaker, I got carried away in my enthusiasm.
I would like to point out to my colleague that he was talking about workers in Kitimat, but the agreement will not really change anything for them because their primary market is Asia.
The North American aluminum market is Quebec's domain. I do not know whether my colleague shares my opinion. Quebec is once again the sacrificial lamb in this deal.
View Peter Kent Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Kent Profile
2020-02-06 12:07 [p.1011]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
I am well aware of the threat China poses to Canada's aluminum industry.
Indeed, it is something that the Liberals are trying to pass off by saying that 70% is such a great guarantee. However, 70% is not a great guarantee when it used to be 100% and it was defended by the Government of Canada, the Province of Quebec and the Province of British Columbia, and workers were guaranteed a bright future for what is the cleanest aluminum produced in the world today.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
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.
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