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View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2014-06-10 15:05 [p.6554]
Mr. Speaker, our government has focused on responsible resource development that protects the environment. There are 84 pipelines crossing the 49th parallel today.
The average approval time for those pipelines is three and a half months. The Keystone XL pipeline is now in its sixth year of deliberations. It is a project that would strengthen North American energy security. It would create jobs on both sides of the border. It would lower risk and rail congestion.
Could the parliamentary secretary tell us more about why our government supports the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2014-05-12 14:06 [p.5194]
Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will officially open a brand new Glacier Skywalk in our beautiful riding of Yellowhead. I had the opportunity to walk on the wild side to preview this skywalk, and it is truly a breathtaking experience.
This cliff-edge walkway soars almost 1,000 feet above the ground and will give visitors to Jasper National Park an opportunity to explore our spectacular landscape in a completely new way. Located off the Icefields Parkway, the Glacier Skywalk is an interpretive experience that will enable our visitors to learn more about the glaciology, geology, and ecosystem of the world-famous Columbia Icefield.
Jasper Park is a national treasure, and I am very impressed with the efforts that have been taken to provide this new experience to visitors who respect both the environment and the integrity of our landscape.
I invite all hon. colleagues in the House, and people all across Canada, to visit Jasper this coming summer for their very own walk on the wild side.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2014-05-07 14:54 [p.5050]
Mr. Speaker, our government remains steadfast in its support for Ukraine. We will not stand idly by while its sovereignty and its territorial integrity are being threatened.
We have shown strong support for the people of Ukraine and the NATO alliance with a commitment of six CF-18 fighter jets, the frigate HMCS Regina, and the participation of Canadian army soldiers in Exercise Orzel Alert in Poland.
Can the Minister of National Defence please update the House on Canada's commitment to NATO's reassurance measures and to the people of Ukraine?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2014-05-05 15:11 [p.4928]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on International Trade related to Bill C-20, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Honduras, the Agreement on Environmental Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras.
The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2014-04-02 14:16 [p.4171]
Mr. Speaker, last week, our government approved four long-term liquefied natural gas export licenses. These approvals are important to Canada's economy as we seek to diversify our energy markets. Canada, by the way, is the fifth largest producer of natural gas in the world.
The International Energy Agency predicts that the world's energy demands will increase some 33% between now and the year 2035. This is great news for all Canadians, as the Conference Board of Canada estimates that the natural gas sector has the potential to create 131,000 new jobs every year between 2012 and 2035 across Canada. This is especially good news for ridings such as Yellowhead, as we predict tremendous growth in our economy due to the opening up of the Duvernay gas field.
I am proud of our government's leadership on responsible resource development as we work to protect the environment and grow the environment from coast to coast to coast.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2014-03-27 15:04 [p.3959]
Mr. Speaker, last year was a record year on the prairies for the harvest, almost 50% higher than the average, which was amazing. Grain prices internationally were also very high, which meant the commodity price was high, so it should have been wonderful news for the prairie farmers. Unfortunately, we have a bottleneck with the railways. The minister actually briefed the opposition on what the Conservatives are going to do to fix it and next time I am going to ask him to use bigger pictures and less print so that they can really get it.
I would ask the parliamentary secretary if he would stand and explain one more time to the opposition in the House exactly what we are going to do for prairie farmers.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2014-02-12 15:09 [p.2900]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, our government outlined the economic action plan for 2014. In that plan, we detailed just how we would create jobs and grow the economy right across Canada. In fact, there are some specific benefits in there for western Canada.
I would ask the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification to stand and outline all the benefits for western Canada.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2014-01-29 15:02 [p.2287]
Mr. Speaker, our government is focused on jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity, and developing our natural resources sector is absolutely critical in accomplishing that goal.
Recently there has been misinformation in the United States in a TV ad on our energy sector and the Keystone XL pipeline. We have seen propaganda before, but it is usually from the NDP. When those members go to the United States, they go there to hurt Canada's interests. When we go down there, we go down there to promote Canada's interests.
Can the Minister of Natural Resources stand and take this opportunity to set the record straight?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-12-04 15:19 [p.1756]
Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege to present two petitions from my riding. They both call on the House of Commons and Parliament to speedily enact legislation to restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-12-03 12:48 [p.1675]
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to contribute to the debate on Bill C-4. It is a very comprehensive piece of legislation and goes a long way toward keeping Canada at the level it has already achieved, not by Canada's standards but by international standards, which is the number one place to do business in the world.
That is remarkable. Canadians are not used to being number one. We are kind of modest people and have kept quiet about that, but the reality is that being number one in the world is no small task and did not happen by accident. It happened because of very deliberate actions. The actions we have taken over the last number of years since the great recession in 2008 have put us in this position, and our position is unique.
I go to Washington to deal with my counterparts in the U.S. legislative arm on a continuous basis, and they ask me all the time what it is that Canada has done. In fact, we have been dubbed by some people in America as “the miracle to the north”. They want to know what it is that Canada has done that has brought us to the position of being named by the IMF and the OECD as the number one place to do business in the world, the place with the greatest opportunity over the next number of years to do business.
Creating a million jobs since the recession is no small task. That is a very large number, and very significant. How did that happen? How is it that we rate number one?
The reality is that we have made, let us say, four broad strokes of fundamental change in direction from the direction that our opponents would have taken in Canada.
First, we lowered taxes. We did not increase them. In fact, we lowered them some 160 times, which I will talk about in a minute. Second, we shrank the size of government; third, we freed up the private sector; and, fourth, we have gone after international markets.
I will break those down, because they are rather significant if they are lumped together as a direction and formula for success. All of the G7 countries are looking at similar things to do, but they are having a difficult time doing them.
Let me begin by talking about shrinking the size of government.
Shrinking the size of government is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it is very difficult to do. We went through every department, making certain that if we could do something better as a government we would try to be more efficient in doing that, and we lowered the cost of doing business in Canada so it would put us on a track to make certain that we can compete in the world. It is worthy of note that before the recession, when this government got into power in 2006, we paid down some $37 billion going into the recession so that the debt to GDP ratio was considerably lower at that time. Since that time, we have grown so fast that our debt to GDP ratio has not been compromised. In fact, it is interesting to note that we were at 34.6% in GDP in 2012. Some people would say that is just a number, but let us look at Europe.
We just signed a free trade agreement with Europe. The number one driver of the economy in Europe, let us say, is Germany. Germany's debt to GDP ratio is 57.2%, but the average of the G7 is over 90%. We are almost three times less than the average in terms of debt to GDP ratio.
Are we in good stead? There is a reason for the OECD and the IMF to say that Canada is doing very well, and it is because we have been disciplined as government.
On top of that, when I speak with my counterparts in the United States and tell them that we are forecasting balanced books by 2015, they say they just fought a debt ceiling crisis in October and they are going to have to do it again early in the new year. They say the big debate is about how much more money they can borrow and have printed.
Canada is not printing money. We are creating jobs and opportunity for the private sector to create the prosperity that Canadians deserve and should have as a country, and we are actually achieving that.
This is considerably different from what our counterparts across the way would have done. In fact, the NDP has said that it would have brought in a carbon tax and increased taxes on everything from—
Hon. Greg Rickford: Soup to nuts.
Hon. Rob Merrifield: Yes, soup to nuts. I suppose we could say it that way. They would raise the taxes on absolutely everything.
As for the Liberals, if we want to know what a party is going to do, we should look at what it has done. When the Liberals were in power, they said they balanced the books. Yes, they did, on the backs of the provinces, health care, and social services. It is one thing to say we are going to balance the books; it is another thing to say we are going to balance the books by lowering taxes, not raising them, and by making certain that the transfers to the provinces are not impeded. In fact, we are increasing those transfers.
Let me talk about taxes for a second, because that aspect is rather significant. We have cut taxes over 160 different ways during that time period, providing an extra $3,200 per average family of four. People who had a job in 2008 and still have the same job now are paying that much less tax. That is very significant.
In the business sector, small- and medium-sized businesses are the ones that are really creating the jobs. We have lowered the taxes for them as well, from 12% down to 11%, but on the corporate taxes, we went from 28% over the years down to 15%. We even kept lowering those taxes during the recession. That takes a lot of leadership and a lot of understanding of what drives the economy.
Do members realize that with the taxes now at 15%, we are bringing in more corporate revenue to the federal government to deal with all the social services and all the issues that we have in lower-income brackets than we brought in at 28%? That is an amazing statistic, but it is very worthy of note in looking at what has actually happened with regard to lowering taxes.
We lowered the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. It is very significant. Everyone who buys anything in this country is realizing the benefit from that. This is no small feat.
What does the corporate tax being at 15% do to us? We are creating lots of growth because of the competitive advantage we have with our largest trading partner. The corporate tax rate in America is 35%. That is compared to 15%; no wonder businesses are coming back into Canada. We saw that the headquarters of Tim Hortons, as an example, went to the United States because of the tax advantage. Then they came back. Why? It is the same reason: the tax advantage.
Those are the kinds of things we are seeing right across the entire spectrum in the private sector.
I said that we shrank government. We lowered taxes, which is very significant. What else did we do? We freed up the private sector, and that sector is what is really creating the jobs. We brought in a piece of legislation saying that for major projects, it would be one project, one review, at two years maximum. Those are phenomenal opportunities for the private sector.
We have lowered the red tape some 20% to 30% right across the board. Can we do more? Yes, and we absolutely have to do more when it comes to freeing up the private sector. I have had American counterparts tell me that they can go in and do one-stop shopping for projects and get approval. It is not that they are compromising on the approval but that they are doing it in a more streamlined way. We have to do more than that because we are not there yet, but we have certainly come a long way.
Freeing up the private sector to capitalize on the opportunities that we have in some of our trade agreements becomes very significant. That is the fourth thing that we did. We not only freed up the private sector to compete, but then we went after international agreements so they could compete and capitalize on free trade agreements, such as the one we just signed with the European Union. It is the largest, most comprehensive free trade agreement ever signed between any two countries anywhere in the world.
Members may ask where that came from. Is NAFTA not the largest free trade agreement ever signed in the world? Well, it was at the time. Our opponents disagreed with that, and even today they disagree with NAFTA. It is amazing. That is so, even though it created 40 million jobs, and even though the GDP of the three countries of Mexico, the United States, and Canada, which were at $7.6 trillion at the time of signing, have gone to over $17 trillion today. That could not have been realized when they signed the agreement. No one would have forecast that kind of growth. Everyone just said that it was a good opportunity for more trade, but nobody would have put all the pieces together to say that collectively we would raise our GDP and raise opportunity and prosperity in our three countries to that degree.
I would suggest that the same thing will happen with the European free trade agreement. Europe actually imports some $2.3 trillion a year. It is amazing how much more we can capitalize on that.
This does not happen by accident. Pieces of legislation like this take real leadership. Real opportunity for Canadians is what we are looking for. We are saying that these will get us to success, and that is true.
Before closing my remarks, I want to say that our greatest threat in Canada and in this room should be looking at what happens when these principles are not followed. The United States has gone down from a AAA rating to a AA. Heaven forbid that it ever goes to an A rating, which would compromise it all because of a lack of leadership. We need to stay the course.
I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this piece of legislation.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-12-03 12:59 [p.1676]
Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting question coming from my colleague across the way. I do not know where she has been when we lowered taxes 160 different ways during the period of time since the recession.
I have been watching very closely. I have been in this House all that time. I have yet to see NDP members stand in their place to support the tax reductions that we have created in this country. It is the absolute reverse position that they have had in this House. They have never supported a reduction in tax.
We are not just talking about it; we have done it, in 160 different ways. That is not just lip service. That is actual action, and it is what we have done.
However, lowering taxes was not the only goal. The goal was to create jobs and opportunity for the private sector and the people of Canada, and that is what we have done. That is what this House should be very proud of.
Even if I were on the other side and knew I had to be in opposition, I would at least sit there, be quiet about it, and accept the thanks for putting Canada in the number one spot in the world.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-12-03 13:01 [p.1677]
Mr. Speaker, I would love to.
The member may be right on the specifics of the aerospace aspect, but I can say that supporting the auto sector going through the great recession and the kinds of problems that manufacturing had at that time is something every member of this House actually voted on and had the opportunity to vote on. We all voted for a piece of legislation that increased the opportunity of subsidizing our auto sector, a manufacturing sector. At that time, it was a significant number of dollars. I think it was around $8 billion.
I did not think we were ever going to get a nickel of that back, to be perfectly honest. It was one of my more difficult days in this place. I was wrong, thank goodness. The manufacturing jobs actually were sustained. The auto sector came through the recession fine and is doing better now than it was even before the recession.
Also, some of the trade agreements that we have in place will give opportunity for manufacturing around the world. We are going to be supporting manufacturing, and that is going to increase because of our low cost of doing business in Canada. We are starting to see us being able to compete with even some of the Asian countries when we look forward to manufacturing jobs. We have a great opportunity in this country because we provide conditions for the private sector to win and to compete internationally. When we do that, those businesses will grow Canada into the kind of prosperity that we deserve.
I do not believe we have even come close to reaching our potential, but we are headed in the right direction. As long as we keep going, we will stay number one in the world and surpass all expectations.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-11-20 14:57 [p.1109]
Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne made it very clear that our government will remain committed to protecting public safety and that we will take targeted action to increase the safety of the transportation of dangerous goods. This has become an increasing concern, particularly in my riding because of recent derailments.
Can the Minister of Transport tell the House what additional measures our government is taking to further enhance the safety of the transportation of dangerous goods?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-11-07 12:46 [p.865]
Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague spew his ideology, and it really is west-coast ideology that is not driven by any facts.
First, I am in the United States a considerable amount of time and I know quite a bit about what is going on there. To help out the member, I would tell members that the oil that came up and was part of the disaster in Lac-Mégantic was not Canadian oil. That was American oil being refined in Canada. The member said that would never happen in America; I beg to differ with him.
Second, the member's ideology in this motion is all about refusing to move oil through a pipeline because it is environmentally a poisonous way to do it. Looking at the facts of it, oil is going to move one way or another. It is going to move by rail or by pipe. The NDP is so driven by ideology that the members will not look at the facts of that; they will not look at what is good for Canada or for the environment. They are just driven by ideology and saying no to something that they have no idea what they are saying no to. I refuse to accept that.
This motion just reinforces what I have thought of the NDP all the time: that anti-trade—
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-10-29 14:54 [p.548]
Mr. Speaker, signing the historic trade agreement with the European Union makes Canada the only major developed country to have preferential access to the world's two largest economies, the economies of the European Union and the United States.
It is really unfortunate that the NDP and its anti-trade allies mislead Canadians about the importance of the trade agreement. They are actually claiming that the agreement will harm our ability to create jobs. Of course they said the same thing about the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Could the Minister of International Trade please help clear up these allegations?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-10-17 14:01 [p.50]
Mr. Speaker, today I am recognizing my constituent, Michelle Ediger, of Jasper, Alberta, winner of the Canadian Dental Hygienist Association Global Health Initiative Award.
Michelle has been practising in the dental field since 2001. Her first trip to Africa was in 2005, and it changed her world. She knew then that she would be returning on a regular basis to share her skills and to help others smile. This year will mark her sixth trip to Africa. The joy Michelle feels from the people she is able to help makes her realize that the privileged world can learn so much from those who live in poverty.
Michelle is a model volunteer to us all, and I would like to commend her for her selfless gift of her time and her talent in helping those who need it most.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-06-13 10:18 [p.18265]
Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions from my riding of Yellowhead. They are all the same, so I will just describe one.
They are about the termination of sex-selected individuals who are females and say that pregnancy termination is abhorred by obstetricians and gynecologists across Canada as well as the majority of the people of Canada, 92% or more. The petitioners are calling on the House to act on this issue.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-29 19:33 [p.17281]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague on the other side just asked about the introduction of this piece of legislation. It actually started in 2008, with the rail freight service review. It was a two-year process. It was quite extensive and exhaustive, and there was enough guilt on the railway side as well as on the shippers' side when it comes to numbers to make it clear that something had to be done.
This measure was first introduced—in fact, I introduced it—in March in 2012, prior to the election, and then was picked up after the election, in December. This is a piece of legislation that has come a long way and has had lots of consultation.
My question for my hon. colleague is this. When the railway companies looked at this legislation initially, they fought against it, said they did not need it and said they would arrive at their service arrangements themselves. They said that it would drive negotiation away from the table. What I believe will happen is that it will drive both parties to the table, and if they cannot negotiate, it would be an arbitrated settlement. I wonder if my colleague would agree with me.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-29 21:55 [p.17299]
Mr. Speaker, I take great interest in the debate this evening, as well as a bit of pride, because this legislation is very close to me. I was in charge of the railways at the time when the rail freight service review was happening and on behalf of the government, I was able to introduce the announcement to initiate this legislation.
Here we are going into third reading, which is great not only for the House but for the country because all parties are indicating their support for the legislation. It is a great legislation for a lot of reasons.
I will start with why it is here and why we need the legislation. I would like to go back a bit and explain to the House and Canadians what the problem really was.
At the time when I was put in charge of railways, in western Canada the on-time delivery for CN's cars was about 52% to 55% for grain shipments. That is not a good performance. How could western Canadian farmers get their products from the combine to the port and off to international markets when they could only rely on the cars being there at the proper time 55% of the time?
As my hon. colleague from Wascana mentioned, during the review CN upped its game considerably. New management came into CN and really concentrated on trying to up its game at the time, and it did. It went from 55% to over 90% within about a year to a year and a half period. That was strictly because the spotlight was on it and it put full attention toward upping its service because the service review was taking place.
A lot of the shippers came to us and asked that we keep the review going and keep the spotlight on the industries and the railways so they would up the game. We encouraged them to continue to have service agreements with all their shippers. They committed to doing that and signed as many shipping service agreements as they possibly could. In fact, I know there were some in some of the industries, perhaps the coal industry, for over a decade, so there were some long-term agreements that were signed at that time.
This legislation does not really speak to the agreements. That is intentional because they are so diverse. Producers cars would have a completely different need and service agreement than would shipping of a coal, potash or forest industries. However, they all want service. Under this legislation, those agreements would be totally flexible because they could contain all kinds of penalties. We are not privy to what the agreements are. We do not need to know what they are. However, when the two parties come to an agreement, they need to have some kind of mechanism to do things.
The first is to ensure that whatever agreement they do reach is complied with. That is what this legislation does. It has penalties that would go to either a shipper or a railway depending on which one breaches the agreement.
The second is there for when an agreement cannot be reached. If negotiations between the shipper, the railway, and so forth are done to the best of their ability, whether in the forest, egg, coal or potash industry, whatever the commodity, yet they cannot come to an agreement, then they are really stuck. This legislation is a way for them to reach a final arbitrated settlement that would give them clarity as to what was fair in an agreement. That is what the industry and the shippers have asked for.
Instead of being held ransom and saying they cannot come up with an agreement because no one wants to negotiate, they are saying, with this legislation, that if they cannot come to an agreement, there will be an arbitrated settlement. It does not say who is going to win or lose in that arbitration. Rather it calls for that to happen. Because of that, there will be a better system all the way around. If we go through the rail service review data carefully, as did the committee and the government, there was a lot of blame on both the shipper and the railway sides.
Let us not pick winners or losers. Let us just fix it in the best interests of this country. That is what this House is all about. It is about designing a piece of legislation that will move the country along. We do not really care who wins or loses. We want it to be fair so that both win. Canada wins because we move product to shore and on to international markets, where the real win is for the railways, the shippers and the country. That is why this should be supported.
International trade is really our stimulus for the future. We just came through a tremendous economic recession that has challenged the world. It challenged North America. It challenged the United States, our largest trading partner. Last year we had $528 billion in trade. Three-way trade between Mexico, Canada and the United States is almost $1 trillion per year. That is a large number, when we start talking about trillions of dollars.
About 40 million jobs have been created in our country because of NAFTA. I love the map at the Canadian embassy in the United States. The map shows for each state the number of dollars traded with Canada and the number of jobs created in that state because of that trade. It is very effective information that our American cousins need to understand more directly. Canadians also need to understand it. The number of dollars traded and the number of jobs created in each province is also on that map. I would recommend it to anyone.
Why do I mention that? It is because one of every five jobs in Canada is created because of trade, because of exports. Sixty per cent of our GDP is from that trade. Is it growing or is it shrinking? The last statistics I saw show a 73% increase in trade internationally between now and 2025. That is a large number. Those countries that capitalize on that growth in trade are the ones that are going to win. I like the way we are positioned to capitalize on that. We are about to sign a European free trade agreement, which I hope will work. That is 500 million people and $17 trillion in GDP in that market that we will be able to capitalize on. Not only that, but when we go to the west coast, with the trans-Pacific partnership, we will be talking about 110 million people and GDP of $17.6 trillion.
These are tremendous opportunities, not only with respect to China and India but with the trans-Pacific partners. It will depend on what we have to offer those markets. We are also working on a bilateral trade agreement with Japan. We are working on more trade with China. China is a big player, particularly when it comes to railways and moving products to the west coast.
What do they want? They want two things: food security and energy security. Canada can provide both, and railways are a major part of that. Before railways and shippers start saying negative things about each other, why do both groups not look at the opportunity before us? Why do we not look at the opportunity before Canada? Never has the opportunity been greater to create a winning situation for Canadian industries. It might be products manufactured and moved back and forth by rail, as we do with United States when we move automobiles back and forth by rail. We can actually supply for the United States products coming from China through the port of Prince Rupert two and a half days faster than any other port on the west coast. It is two and a half days faster, because it comes through Prince Rupert and goes right down to Chicago to supply the largest economy in the world: the United States. It is because of our railways and our system.
People have been criticizing this piece of legislation and asking why we did not include shipments to the United States in this rail service agreement. I can say that the United States is looking very closely at this piece of legislation. Americans are wondering how it is working, what kind of support it is getting and if it is going to actually do the job. I believe that it will do the job. The Americans are very keen to look at it and perhaps even use it as a model for their country. When that happens, there will be a continuous system between Canada and the United States, which is our largest trading partner and always will be.
This is a great piece of legislation for many reasons. When we look at the international markets, it is indeed amazing.
The railways carry a tremendous amount of freight, about 240 million tonnes of freight. About 70% of the surface freight in this country is moved by rail. That includes the bulk commodities such as grains, minerals, forestry products, energy products and so on.
I was talking to a representative of CN last night. He was telling me that the number of cars they are ordering to supply energy to markets by rail is off the charts. That is happening because of the resistance to pipelines. Whether or not the pipelines come, there is no question that rail will play a big part in moving our energy products to shore and beyond.
It is very important that this piece of legislation work not only for the agriculture sector, for grains and seeds, but for the energy sector, mining, potash and so on. It is a great piece of legislation that would go a long way in making certain that we level the playing field.
My hon. colleague said that CN used to be one of the worst as far as providing service. I would tend to agree with him. Perhaps now the reverse is happening, and CP is having more of a struggle providing service than CN. That is hard to argue with, and it is probably true.
We have heard arguments from the president of CN. He is asking why we are bringing in this legislation. He says that it will halt negotiations and drive people away from the negotiating table. It would do just the opposite. It would drive people to the negotiating table, because if they did not get a service agreement, there would be a very quick arbitration process in place through this legislation that would actually make sure they got a deal. That is what the legislation is designed to do. That is why it would work so well.
Would it be used an awful lot? Probably not. I hope not. I hope it is never used. If we bring it in, the jig is up. There should be an arbitrated settlement. If there is not, somebody will do it for them. They will do it quickly, and it will not cost a lot of money. Once the process has been challenged, a precedent will be set. The rest will fall in line with it, and the service agreements will comply.
I do not believe that this piece of legislation will be used terribly much, but it needs to be there, because the manager of CN or CP may not always be the most friendly guy who always wants to do the right thing. When we bring in legislation, it is for a long period and it is in the best interests of the country. It has nothing to do with the personalities of the people who were there.
I remember the forest industry. We were within hours of finalizing an agreement with the forest sector of this country. We brought them to the table. We did everything we possibly could to get them over the line. We could not quite get there. We would get there now, because we would have a piece of legislation that would arbitrate it. I will not say who would win or lose in that arbitration, because I do not know, but I do know that there would be an arbitrated settlement and they would move on.
It is really important that cars are placed in yards at the appropriate time for product to move from where it is produced to the market. That is the number one thing we can do to create the kind of economy, jobs and prosperity this country needs to move forward.
A lot has been said about the penalties that would go to the government. That is because we do not want winners or losers to use this piece of legislation other than as a tool to make certain that services are provided at the appropriate time.
There could be all kinds of penalties within their service agreements if the parties agreed to them. If the agreements were not recognized and not realized, the penalties would be a tool to make sure the service agreement was complied with.
It is a very great day for me. This has been a long process. It is a process that has had a lot of consultation.
I have quotes here from the agricultural, forestry, coal, potash and mining industries that say that this is a very big step in changing the dynamic between the railways and the shippers. They feel that they have a government that will back them in an arbitrated settlement process that does not play one against the other. It is truly there to try to make certain that an agreement works for both and that the service is provided in an appropriate way. Predictable service is something we cannot talk enough about. Unpredictable service is the number one thing that will retard the opportunity for shippers to be prosperous and get their products to market.
I want to commend the standing committee on transport. It worked very hard over a number of years to make this happen. The Minister of Transport has picked this ball up and has pushed it very hard. He has worked very hard to bring this to where it is tonight.
Tonight is a wonderful evening. Think about it. When was the last time we had a substantive piece of legislation such as this that was agreed upon by everyone in the House? I can think back a long time. I know that there have been frivolous pieces of legislation that perhaps have had unanimous consent, but there have not been major pieces of legislation like this that are paradigm shifters that would change the dynamic. It is probably the most significant piece of legislation to come between shippers and railways in 50 years or more, so this is a very significant evening. It is a significant piece of legislation.
I am very proud to be lending my voice to it, and I look forward to the vote, which I hope will happen tomorrow. We will move it into the Senate and on to royal assent very quickly.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-29 22:13 [p.17301]
Mr. Speaker, he is asking if the penalties are large enough to force compliance. It is $100,000 for every car that is not there on time, which is a fairly significant penalty. If it is not, we might have to go back and raise it.
I believe that it is significant enough. There is no one I know in the railway industry who would say that they would just pay the $100,000 and forget to bring the cars. I do not believe the railways will play that card. If that happens, there is an opportunity to go back and address it, but I would not do it at this stage of the game.
What is done for one is the same for the other. The penalty can be for the shipper as well as the railway. It is fair to say that it is a fairly significant penalty for every violation under this act. I do not expect that it is going to happen, but there are all kinds of tools to address it if it does happen.
There is an opening up of the entire railway act coming in 2015-16, so I do not believe that the railways are going to play silly with this piece of legislation. They will try to comply, because it is in their best interests to do so. It is in their best interest to make certain that they have the cars there appropriately and that the service agreements are fair for both. The shippers have to win for the railways to win, and the railways have to win for the shippers to win. If both win—
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-29 22:16 [p.17302]
Mr. Speaker, the bill is not designed to get into the service agreement.
It used to be that when a shipper ordered a car from CN and it did not show up, it was no big deal. There was no penalty, nothing. If a shipper had trouble with weather or unforeseen circumstances and the car could not be loaded fast enough and moved out, then CN or CP could ding the shipper significantly, without any recourse.
This piece of legislation does not talk about what is in the service agreement, so if someone wants compensation for lack of service then it should be put in the agreement. All we are saying is that if the agreement is not complied with, the penalties will apply. There needs to be a tool to make sure that whatever is agreed upon is actually complied with, and that is what this legislation would do. Complying with the agreement should not be a winner or loser within the agreement to use as a tool. If someone wants compensation, it should be put in the agreement.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-29 22:18 [p.17302]
Mr. Speaker, our trade with the United States is a great success story. I always say that we do not really trade with the United States; we build things together with the United States. Our supply chains are intricately linked. It does not matter if it is the forestry sector, the beef sector, the auto sector, or many other sectors, we do things together.
When I talk to my colleagues in the United States Congress, I tell them it does not matter whether they go after international markets and sell products to China or Japan, or that we do. The United States ambassador says that for every dollar that Canada trades with Japan, 25¢ of that goes to America because our supply system is intricately linked. We need to collectively go after those international markets because of the productivity gain that we will create. Both the United States and Canada will capitalize on those growing international markets in a much better way.
By 2050, there are supposed to be an extra three billion people in the world, and two billion of them will move from poverty to middle class during that time period. They will need energy, food and all of the things we produce in Canada and the United States. Those are the markets we need to go after.
Thinning the border, creating the productivity gains by having a good railway system between Canada and the United States, is absolutely essential in ensuring that we capitalize on those markets. We are the most productive in the world. Canada has great systems. We have some of the best food. We produce some of the best things, whether it is our automobiles and so on.
Canada and the United States are great allies and partners. We do a lot of back and forth trade—
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-29 22:20 [p.17302]
Mr. Speaker, if the president of CN, Claude Mongeau, had impact on the minister, the bill would not be here. I have sat down with him a number of times, and he said we should not do it. He gave me all kinds of reasons why it would be a terrible piece of legislation. The railways are not really excited about this.
My argument to him was that if the railways do not want the bill, then they should have service agreements, and if they do not want service agreements, then they need the bill to be able to get them over the line. I would suggest that there is no impact there.
This is not a piece of legislation that either of the railways is excited about or interested in. They see the rationale behind the legislation. They are not supportive of the bill, but they are not saying anything very negative about it either.
Any time that both sides do not agree 100% on a bill, then that bill is usually striking the right note and balance. I think we have that here.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-29 22:22 [p.17303]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. The creation of jobs and the growing of our economy is absolutely critical, and the railways play a major role in that.
As a government, we have been able to put a significant number of dollars into infrastructure to make certain that the gateway project on the west coast, the corridor project to the south, and the eastern project corridor to the east capitalize on those international markets. The infrastructure that is built there would not only creates jobs, but it would also create an infrastructure that would create jobs because of the kind of trade we are expecting.
We are a blessed country in so many ways and have so much opportunity, especially as we see this massively growing international trading relationship around the world. Healthy railways lend themselves to the success of our country and the kinds of job opportunities we will have for the future.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-02 17:15 [p.16241]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Burlington.
It is very interesting. I have listened to the debates this afternoon and opposition members have been arguing about the rationale as to why they cannot support Bill C-60, our economic action plan.
I would like to give them a few examples of reasons why they should support it. It is rather important legislation that continues a growth pattern that we have started on as a government.
We have come out of the recession as number one in the world, which is really rare for Canada as it has never been there before. It is exciting to see the numbers of jobs that have been created and the opportunity that we have as far as growth as we move forward.
Maybe I will close with some of the optimistic things that we can talk about within our country, but this legislation builds on that. Just for one reason alone, if the opposition is looking at something it could support, it certainly could support our veterans. This legislation would give a very nice benefit to our vets. For that reason alone, the opposition should support it.
Then again, it should also be supporting what the legislation does with regards to going after tax evaders, something that has not happened for many years. Just in fairness, as Canadians, and for no other reason, the opposition should support it to ensure everyone pays their fair share of taxes and to deal with those who cheat.
When it comes to the indexing of the gas tax, I heard the opposition say that the number one problem in municipalities was housing. I would beg to differ. The number one problem in municipalities, as we have heard right across the country from coast to coast to coast, is infrastructure. The legislation deals with $53 billion of infrastructure over a 10-year period, the most aggressive infrastructure plan that we have ever laid out as a country. For that reason alone, the opposition should support the legislation.
We would be lowering taxes and providing flow-through shares for mining and keeping that industry going. The accelerated capital cost allowance creates a tremendous amount of opportunity in manufacturing and opportunity for job growth and industry growth for many years to come. This is a great benefit in the legislation. The opposition should be supporting it because of that, or because of the hiring tax credit that has been continued for small businesses, which is a real benefit that it should be supporting. Even the capital gains exemption has gone up for lifetime capital gains for individuals. This is should be supported.
For those reasons alone, and I could go on about many other reasons, the opposition should support the bill. Instead, we hear a lot of negativity and some things that are negative have nothing to do with the legislation as far as arguments go. I guess I should not be alarmed about that, because when the opposition runs out of manufactured reasons for not supporting it, it comes up with reasons that are not even in the bill.
I would like to spend my time on the number one issue in my riding, which is the lack of labour. It is different from what I heard from the hon. member from Toronto, who suggested the number one problem was unemployment.
I have the opposite problem in my riding, which is a good thing in some ways, but in other ways it is not. The temporary foreign worker program was there to address it in the last election. When the people of my riding discerned whether I was the right person to vote for, the number one issue they came forward with was a lack of labour. The importance of the temporary foreign worker program was to deal with the kinds of reduction and the ability for corporations and industries to grow and create the kinds of opportunity for our region and our country.
However, the temporary foreign worker program was something we said we would take a look at, to see if we could find ways to make that program work even more effectively. Guess what? We did. We made the program work even more effectively and efficiently. However, there is a bit of a problem with the temporary foreign worker program and this legislation addresses that.
In my riding, unemployment is zero. The real objective of the temporary foreign worker program is that it does not take away jobs from Canadians, but helps complement the workforce where there are no Canadians to fill those jobs.
Even where unemployment is virtually zero or very close to it, there are people in the system who have abused the program, even in my riding. This needs to be addressed. In this piece of legislation, we are going after those individuals, tweaking the program and will be consulting on this program in the future to make it better so that it actually deals with what it was intended to do, which was complement and not replace Canadian workers.
There are seven ways that this piece of legislation lays out how it is going to be changed. The first one would come into effect immediately and it is with respect to the pay differential, which was brought in about a year or a year and a half ago and was not being used. Only about 5% of those using the program even bothered with it. Let us get rid of the compromised price of 15% for skilled workers or 5% for lower-skilled workers on the differential of what those individuals are being paid. That we got rid of in this piece of legislation.
We are going to temporarily suspend in this piece of legislation the accelerated labour market opinion process, which was something they were asking for. In my riding, people needed it. We are not going to cancel it in this legislation, just suspend it while we take a breather, do some consultation and look at how we build on this program to make it even better.
The third thing in this piece of legislation on the program is to make sure it has the power to deal with those who abuse the process in the sense of being able to take away, revoke or suspend the labour market opinion process, the work permit as well as the LMO. This is something we need if we are going to be able to deal with those who refuse to see it as a program to complement Canadian workers and use it to replace Canadian workers, which we are seeing even in an area such as ours.
The fourth change to the temporary foreign worker program in this piece of legislation is to make sure we stop outsourcing. The program was never intended to replace the Canadian workforce and to have people work outside our country is a total abuse. This piece of legislation deals with that as well. That is another reason for certain that the opposition should be supporting it.
The fifth reason is that we want to make certain there is a plan in place for corporations that get LMOs and use temporary foreign workers to replace them long term with the Canadian workforce. That may be the most difficult one in my riding to comply with, so we are going to go through a process of consultation on that.
The sixth thing is to make sure that the fund is self-funded. There is no way that the taxpayer should be supporting this fund. The employer should be doing that.
The seventh thing is to make sure that English and French are the only mandatory languages necessary for foreign workers.
Those are the seven changes. The agricultural community and the agriculture workforce are exempt from most of these, except that if people abuse the system, the work permits will be revoked.
These are wonderful changes to the program, but it is in a process of consultation. It is one of the most important pieces in this bill that will impact all of Canada, but particularly my riding.
We have a wonderful experience in Canada. When we were coming through the recession, my colleagues in America went green with envy. They call Canada the miracle to the north because of the jobs created, the lower taxes, how we are freeing up the private sector to grow, capitalizing on international markets and moving to balanced books. For that, we should be very excited as Canadians. We have a great story to tell. We are doing some wonderful things not only in this budget, but in past budgets. This complements past ones. All members should think soberly about that and support this piece of legislation.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-02 17:26 [p.16243]
Mr. Speaker, it is an absolutely wonderful story that we have with regard to investments in Canada, and for those who come to this country to invest and create opportunities for employment in manufacturing, as well as the opportunity in the long run for Canadians on investments. This is one of the first times in the history of our country that we actually have the floodgates wide open because it is all about confidence. People are going to invest in this country because of the confidence that is here that they would actually be making money.
In fact, I was talking to a group this morning from chemical corporations in this country that are dealing with investments. They are looking at infrastructure builds of $5 billion over the next five years. They are saying that they have corporations all over the world, but the corporations that are making the most money are really Canadian corporations. Why? It is because of the competitive advantage that we are giving them. We are working to make certain that we have the opportunities for Canadians to be able to develop manufacturing jobs and good jobs in the long run. These are one small example of the kinds of investments that are coming into this country.
When it comes to Canada Post, CBC and other crown corporations, they are arm's-length from government, but we want to make sure that they are sustainable in the long run. We have to work and be responsible to Canadians and to the public we represent by making sure that these crown corporations move in that direction. That is where I believe this piece of legislation will take us.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-02 17:28 [p.16243]
Mr. Speaker, I beg to differ with my hon. colleague: it is absolutely new. It is indexed gas tax funds, which is brand new, plus $14 billion in larger projects. I do not have the numbers in front of me, but collectively it is $53 billion in 10-year, long-term, stable funding.
This is exactly what the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been asking for across Canada. This is what it is getting in this piece of legislation. It is the most excited. When I talk to mayors and reeves in municipalities across my riding, they are absolutely ecstatic about this bill. They want it passed because they then can make some long-term plans for solid infrastructure that will build this country a long way into the future.
My hon. colleague should support this piece of legislation if for no other reason than the infrastructure alone.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-04-18 10:11 [p.15562]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, on behalf of the people of my riding, a petition calling on the government not to allow inequality of women's and girls' rights by sex-selective abortions.
The petition calls on the government to abhor this and to stop it at every opportunity in the future.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-04-18 13:09 [p.15587]
Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my hon. colleague, who is a member of the trade committee, and I listen to him quite often at trade committee. His position on this issue and the position of the NDP is really quite astounding.
The position of the New Democrats on trade is really quite anti-trade, but when it comes to China, they are prepared to go against an agreement that would actually protect Canada's interests in China and not compromise Canada's interests. How they bend and twist it is really ideological.
When it comes to our colleagues in the Liberal Party, they too have an interesting perspective when it comes to trade. The Liberals seem to want to subsidize China. China can get along very well without subsidies, thanks very much, when it comes to taking them off the list with regard to tariff compromisation.
Getting back to the issue at hand, I ask my hon. colleague a question with regard to his comments. When we have signed 24 of these agreements with other countries around the world and when we are actually doing more trade with China than ever before—in fact, 24% more just in forestry alone in the last few years—why is it so wrong to have a deal with China that we have signed with 24 other countries when it is okay with these other 24 countries?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-04-18 13:34 [p.15592]
Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague and I listened to the comments of my colleagues across the way with regard to this FIPA, which really does protect and level the playing field between China and Canada.
It is interesting. When we were in Japan as a committee, and the last two colleagues who spoke were there, we asked Japan if it had a FIPA with China. Japan is China's largest trading partner, much larger than Canada, much larger than America. It said that it did not. We asked if it would sign a FIPA and it said it would love to, which would level the playing field and give protection for the Japanese in China and for Japanese investment. Has Japan been compromised with some of the investments in China? Yes, it has but it continues to work. Japan would love to have a FIPA that would allow it that protection that China has offered through this FIPA with Canada.
My hon. colleague was on the trip with us to Japan. Would he see this as a good thing not only for Canada but also for Japan?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-04-18 15:47 [p.15614]
Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate my hon. colleague's position about Canada's interests in investment in China. It is well thought out.
I find it a little rich when my hon. colleagues from across, particularly the NDP members, look at trade surpluses or deficits in the sense of whether we bring in more imports than we export. We are in a global world. He has heard witness after witness, at committee, testifying as to how integrated we all are. Just because we, for a certain period of time, bring more in than we export, that does not necessarily mean that is bad for Canada. In fact, that is actually a good sign, because we have to bring products in to manufacture them and create them to have greater exports.
I really find it a little rich when the opposition, actually both parties, take the position that it is a really negative thing. It is actually a very good thing, and we will continue to promote trade, as a government.
I want my hon. colleague to answer the question with regard to the position we take on trade, as a government, compared with the opposition, because I think that needs a little more explanation, obviously.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-04-17 14:12 [p.15528]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to lay out some facts about Keystone. It is a fact that the Keystone pipeline will create thousands of badly needed jobs for Canada and America, especially while sequestration brings thousands of American vets home.
It is a fact that the U.S. state department has declared the new route of the pipeline to be environmentally sound. It is a fact that the Nebraska governor supports the pipeline. It is a fact that two-thirds of all Americans support it as well. It is a fact that the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have voted to approve Keystone.
There are over 80 pipelines that currently cross the 49th parallel. The only thing that makes Keystone special is that radical environmentalists and Hollywood have chosen to make it their cause of the day. In light of all the facts, we are encouraged and we are hopeful that the President will do the right thing and approve Keystone.
While we are talking about facts, it is a fact that when my colleagues and I go to Washington, we go to create jobs for Canadians. The scariest fact is that when the Leader of the Opposition goes to Washington, he goes to kill Canadian jobs.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-03-27 15:07 [p.15283]
Mr. Speaker, the oil sands are an absolutely incredibly important resource that creates thousands of jobs and growth right across this country. While the NDP leader attacks the growth in this sector and actually calls it a disease, the Conservative government keeps fighting for jobs in the building trades, jobs in manufacturing and jobs in the local economy.
My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Can he update the House on the latest development in our government's efforts to create jobs and grow the economy in Canada's resource sector?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-02-28 10:03 [p.14409]
Mr. Speaker, with a continuing desire to grow our economy and create more jobs for Canadians by way of international trade, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on International Trade, a report of an economic partnership agreement between Canada and Japan. Japan is the third-largest economy in the world and, as such, very important to Canada.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-11-26 14:45 [p.12443]
Mr. Speaker, last Thursday we learned of deeply divisive and anti-Alberta comments from the Liberal critic for amateur sport. They were so bad that they were worse than his colleague's, who had to step down from his role as critic for natural resources. The minister pointed out last week that the member cannot possibly stand up for Canadian athletes who are a source of national identity and pride since his comments show that he fails to represent those values himself.
Can the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism update the House on our government's position on national unity?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-11-22 14:12 [p.12345]
Mr. Speaker, our government continues to stand up for the interests of Albertans and all Canadians. Unfortunately, the Liberals do not.
My constituents were shocked to hear a top Liberal spokesman for natural resources tell us to go back to Alberta if we wanted to defend the interests of Albertans or the energy interests. The comments were so arrogant and unacceptable that the member had to step down from his role as critic.
However, it does not change the fact that the anti-Alberta attitude remains ingrained in the Liberal Party. In fact, in the last 24 hours it has been revealed that the anti-Alberta attitude within the Liberal Party is alive more now than ever before.
I need not remind my constituents of Trudeau's failed national energy program that devastated the economy and cost Albertans billions of dollars.
Our government is proud to defend Alberta's interests, especially against disastrous Liberal policies that have hurt Alberta in the past and would do the same in the future. God forbid that the Liberals ever get that chance.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-11-07 16:04 [p.12066]
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to share my comments on a bill that should have been passed two and a half years ago. We are in the eleventh hour of debate on this bill, which is certainly not being rammed through. It should have been passed long ago.
We are a trading nation, as most members of the House and Canadians know. It is something to see the magnitude of trade that we do in Canada as we look at what has happened over our history. Eighty-five per cent of our trade has been with our southern neighbour, the United States.
Here I want to take the opportunity to congratulate President Obama for his win last evening and the people of Michigan for their decision to allow the new bridge to be built between Windsor and Detroit. The existing bridge is the largest trading bridge anywhere in the world. At times there is $2 billion a day in trade going across that bridge, so it is very important that a new bridge be built.
As I said, about 85% of our international trade has been with the United States, whereas last year it was about 73%. We are becoming less dependent on the United States and more dependent on other markets, such as the one we are debating under this piece of legislation, Panama's.
It is impressive to see the number of jobs created because of our international trade. One in every five Canadian jobs is generated through exports and 63% of our country's annual GDP is created because of international trade. Therefore, it is very important that we get this piece of legislation through. Panama is the hub of the Americas and a very important logistical platform for us to trade with in Central America.
This is a continuation of an agenda that our government has had since coming into office. We have signed nine different free trade agreements, including with countries such as Colombia, Jordan, Peru and Honduras; and with the European Free Trade Association, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. This is long overdue. We are very aggressively pursuing other countries with regard to free trade agreements, seen in the Canada-European Union free trade agreement, for example. We look forward to the final text perhaps being out before year end.
I was with the trade committee in Japan last week and was very encouraged by what we heard regarding a bilateral trade agreement with Japan, the world's third largest economy.
When we add all of these up and see exactly what we are doing, the possibilities of moving forward on our trade agenda are very encouraging.
Just to look at what we have done with NAFTA and the United States, since NAFTA was signed some 18 or so years ago, that agreement has created about 40 million jobs. The GDP of the three countries was a little over $7 trillion at the time of signing and is now over $17 trillion now. Between the three countries, we are now trading almost $1 trillion a year. It is very significant.
Canadians realize the importance of a trade agenda. What I cannot understand is where the opposition is at with regard to our trade agenda. Even today, opposition members say that they do not like and would get rid of the NAFTA agreement. They say they would never support it and never have supported it. It does not matter what kind of logic we use or what kind of math we put in front of them to show them the benefits of it, they disagree with it. This is something that I absolutely do not understand.
The opposition members have disagreed with all of the nine free trade agreements our government has signed, except maybe the one with Jordan, which they could not come to a decision on. They had to sit on their hands because they did not want to show that they were somewhat supportive of that agreement. When we look at the Canada-Panama free trade agreement, I would suggest that it is much more beneficial even than the agreement with Jordan. Yet the opposition filibusters and accuses the government of trying to ram it through.
There has been a lot of debate on the Canada-Panama free trade agreement, and it is amazing what is in that piece of legislation and what it will do for our agriculture sector. Agriculture is near and dear to my heart, as we farm about 3,000 acres of canola and wheat. It is important for us to understand the size of agriculture in Canada. The agrifood sector actually generates 8% of our GDP. It creates one in eight jobs in this country. That is 2.2 million jobs in Canada created because of agriculture. There is some $41 billion created because of trade in our agricultural products in international markets. Almost half of our total agricultural production in this country goes to international trade. Indeed, we are sixth largest exporter of agricultural products in the world.
It is very important that we make sure that we capture as many possible markets as we can for our agricultural products. Panama is the second largest market for agricultural products in Central America. This piece of legislation would allow agriculture not only to be enhanced but also for it to be done in a tariff-free way. How many tariffs are there? On the signing and implementation of this piece of legislation, 78% of Canadian agricultural exports to Panama would be tariff-free .
What are those products? The 20% tariff on frozen french fries, which help Prince Edward Island and Atlantic Canadians, would be eliminated. How about the pulse crops of the Prairies? There is a 15% tariff on those that would be eliminated immediately upon signing of this agreement. How about malt exporters, the barley growers of this country? The 10% tariff applying to them would be eliminated upon signing of this agreement.
By the way, the opposition disagrees with our getting rid of these tariffs and has fought this for two and a half years in the House. That is absolutely ridiculous when we see the benefits to these areas.
How about our beef sector, which has been plagued by the BSE crisis and all kinds of problems, including its exports to different countries around the world being shut down as a result? The producers have gone through a very difficult time. The tariff they face in the Panamanian region is 25% to 30%. That would be eliminated.
I was in Japan last week with the trade committee, where we were excited about the opening up of the export of our beef, from beef aged 21 months to beef aged 30 months now. However, Japan is another market that has been hurt because of the delays by the opposition with regard to this piece of legislation.
The tariff that really bothers me the most is the 60% to 70% tariff on our hog industry. It is amazing to see that kind of tariff placed on our hogs. That so important to us because our largest competitor in that market is the United States, which signed a free trade agreement with Panama on October 31. If we do not get our free trade agreement with Panama through the House, we will lose our competitive edge and never get it back. It is absolutely critical that we make sure that we stop playing around in the House and start doing what is right for Canadians. The opposition should get onboard.
There has been two and half years of filibustering in the House, two and a half years of wasted time and opportunity for us to be able to capitalize on the great infrastructure of the Panama Canal, as well as the opportunities for our agriculture sector and many others. The opposition says we are fast-tracking this by bringing in time allocation. I understand the NDP, because that is just their ideological bent and where they are at. They are what they are. However, two days ago we had the Liberals opposing our closure motion on this legislation. I find that really hard to understand.
Not only has the United States signed an agreement with Panama, but the European Union is also expected to sign an agreement, perhaps by the end of this year. Then we will lose a competitive edge with Europe as well.
It is absolutely amazing when we see what the opposition is doing with regard to this piece of legislation and the free trade agreements we have reached with nine different countries around the world and have been promoting. I just do not understand it.
I will quote the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, who was the vice-chair of the trade committee at one time. He said that when it comes to trade agreements, they are “job-destroying”. I do not understand where he gets that math. How can he possibly get there?
There is only one thing that we heard with regard to trade in the NDP's platform and that was a $21 billion cap and trade carbon tax. That is what the opposition is promoting, instead of the positive trade we will experience when we pass this piece of legislation. I encourage the House to get on with this. The next two hours cannot go fast enough.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-11-07 16:15 [p.12067]
We have heard for two and a half years that the reason the New Democrats are saying no to this is because of a tax haven in Panama. It was on a grey list, and it has moved from a grey list to a white list. My hon. colleague knows this. We heard it in testimony at the committee. He heard from the finance department that this is working and that there is a change with Panama. Panama has come a long way.
We could take two approaches. One approach is as we did with Jordan, where we sign an agreement to try to improve the labour situation and some of the corruption we potentially see in some of these countries. Or, we could just step aside and wait until they have their house completely in order. Our approach is to go in, engage and be able to bring them into a place that is much more positive. That is exactly where Panama is. It has gone from a grey list to a white list, and it is improving.
The hon. colleague knows full well that this is going to be worked out in this legislation, and that is the fact. The hon. colleague, if he were absolutely true to himself and to this House, would admit it.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-11-07 16:18 [p.12068]
Mr. Speaker, not only would their carbon tax be an absolute blowout, estimated at $21 billion, but with their anti-trade thing, now we are getting into serious money. If we got rid of NAFTA and all trade agreements, not only would it be an unbelievable black eye and message to the international community that our agricultural products are not the best in the world, which they are—the safest in the world and coveted by most of the world, along with our energy supply and on and on—but the amount of dollars that would be compromised would actually cripple this country. Canadians are too smart to buy this nonsense.
The opposition members are driven by ideology, based mainly on unions that are a little out of touch and self-serving. This is absolutely ridiculous. We cannot build the nation under that ideology. It is unfortunate that we have an opposition that is driven by ideology rather than actual facts and the reality that we are a trading nation and we have great optimistic opportunities as we move forward. We need to enhance and accelerate trade, not hamper it.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-10-19 11:58 [p.11240]
Mr. Speaker, our government continues to focus on what is really important for Canadians and that is creating jobs and ensuring that we grow our economies and have long-term prosperity right across the country.
To help with that, our government recently launched the community infrastructure improvement fund. Our communities and the communities in my riding are ecstatic about that. In fact, they really appreciate the support they are getting for community spaces and buildings.
Would the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification update the House on this important program and just how it is in such contrast to the high-tax NDP?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-10-17 14:11 [p.11090]
Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to rise and congratulate the Rocky Mountaineer Train Company for its nomination in the “social media initiative of the year” category at the Canadian Tourism Awards.
In Canada, tourism is a $78.8 billion industry that generates $15 billion in exports every year and employs over 600,000 hard-working Canadians. Tourism remains a viable source of economic stability throughout the country and it accounts for more of our GDP than agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing combined.
In 2011, Rocky Mountaineer used a new social media strategy touching on every aspect of the customer experience. Highlighting Jasper National Park especially, it showered much of its attention on Canada's natural splendour. Jasper is the jewel of the Rockies and I invite all members of the House to come and see for themselves.
I congratulate Rocky Mountaineer and wish it all the very best at the awards in November.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and a pleasure for me to stand and speak to this important piece of legislation.
I just came from chairing the international trade committee. It is a pleasure for me to serve in that capacity. When it comes to trade, it is absolutely imperative that I explain to Canadians just how important trade is to Canada.
One out of every five jobs is created because of trade. Sixty-three per cent of our GDP is represented by trade, and we have accomplished that because of trade agreements.
The trade file started with NAFTA. NAFTA has been in existence for almost 17 years. What has happened in that time period? Jobs have gone up by 23%, meaning there are 40 million net new jobs in North America because of NAFTA. Trade has tripled, and has quadrupled with one of our partners.
Opposition members argue against free trade agreements. It really puzzles me that they let the Jordan free trade agreement go through on a voice vote; it was as if their union people were not watching. It is absolutely amazing to me that they could agree with the Jordan free trade agreement and then stand in the House and give some of the arguments that I have heard recently against the Panama free trade agreement. I will talk about that in a few minutes.
I want to give one quick example about NAFTA. We heard arguments that when NAFTA came in, the wine industry in Canada would be absolutely destroyed. It would cease to exist. All those arguments were presented on the floor of the House, and they were argued vigorously.
Can members guess what happened? Canada's wine exports amounted to $1.8 billion. From all the various countries—Argentina, Australia, France, Italy, Spain—we imported $800 million in wine, so our exports doubled our imports. What a great success story, and all because of international trade. That is something my hon. colleagues should keep in mind.
What have we been doing as a country? We have signed nine different free trade agreements: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Peru, the European Free Trade Association members, and Panama, the one we are dealing with today.
What are we pursuing? We are pursuing an economic free trade agreement with Europe. We just heard testimony less than an hour ago in committee from our chief negotiator, who indicated how well that is going. We expect to have the final draft by the end of the year.
Why is that important? It is important because it is the most comprehensive free trade agreement between any two nations anywhere in the world. It will supposedly be at end of text by the end of the year. It is exciting to see how well that is going, and I compliment the negotiators on that free trade agreement.
What does that agreement mean to Canada? It means $1,000 per family per year. That is a fair amount. That is $12 billion coming into Canada every year because of the economic free trade agreement with Europe.
We are also working aggressively on another free trade agreement, in this case with Japan. The benefits to Canada would be $9 billion. As well, there is India, Brazil, Thailand.
Just a few minutes ago we heard that we are in the TPP, which, as of yesterday, is a group of 10 countries on the Pacific rim that will work on a comprehensive free trade agreement in that group.
What about China? Last year we imported $44.5 billion from China. It imported $13.2 billion from us. To equalize the trade benefit from China and to balance the trade would be a $30 billion benefit. It could be just an act of goodwill by China.
We are very excited about accelerating trade and about our opportunities with these growing countries that are in need of the products we produce and the resources, industries and intelligence we have here in Canada to offer them.
What are the elements of the Canada-Panama agreement? We trade cross-border services, telecommunications, investment, financial services, government procurement and so on.
It is important to sign this agreement and get on with it. The bill reached third reading in the last Parliament. It is important because the United States, Chile, Taiwan and Singapore already have an agreement with Panama.
What would bilateral trade with Panama mean? In 2011, trade was $235 million. We imported about $144 million in products such as metals, gold, fruit, machinery, fish and seafood products. We exported about $111 million in products such as machinery, meat, aerospace products, vegetables and so. Signing this kind of agreement would provide a great opportunity for our corporations and our country.
It is very important to understand the opportunities that lay themselves before us under this agreement on the procurement side. In Panama it is projected there will be $28.9 billion U.S. worth of infrastructure projects over the coming years. One of the largest is the Panama Canal, which is a $5.3 billion expansion and a great opportunity for Canadian corporations with regard to not only that but also ports, roads, bridges and airports, with respect to procurement.
It is important to understand that the tariffs on our agricultural products are rather intense. They go from 13.4% right up to 260% for some of our agricultural products. Imagine what the elimination of those could do with respect to exporting frozen potatoes, pulses, pork, malt barley and other products such as beef, hogs and so on. When it comes to the non-agricultural goods, the tariffs are anywhere from 6.2% right up to 81% on many of those, such as materials, equipment, industrial and electrical machinery, paper products, vehicles and so on. We can see that the potential for this is great.
The resistance I hear from the opposition members is rather interesting because they have talked about labour problems, human rights problems and environmental concerns. There is a corporate social responsibility that has been agreed to by Canadian corporations when we get into this piece of legislation. It very much encompasses environmental protection, human rights, labour relations, corporate governance, transparency, community relations, peace and security, and anti-corruption measures. Therefore, the opposition members are really blowing smoke when they say that the legislation does not include any of this. It is very important that it is there and that we sign this agreement so that Canadian companies would be able to capitalize on these kinds of opportunities.
The corporate social responsibility part of this agreement is very important. It is something that has not been talked about an awful lot here but is something that is very important. With respect to the side agreements on labour and the environment, I have heard opposition members ask why they are not encompassed within the body of the agreement. It is no different than with Jordan, for which they had no problem with standing in this House. Well, actually they did not stand; they just sat there on a voice vote and let it go unanimously at third reading. It is off to the Senate and will be passed very soon we hope. There is no difference here with respect to that, so I do not know how, in their own thinking, they can support one and not the other.
In testimony at committee we heard the most outrageous circumstances on human rights happening in some of the factories in Jordan. The members of the opposition who are on the committee heard the same testimony. There are two approaches that can be taken when we look at a free trade agreement. We can either say that unless that country comes up to Canadian standards we will disengage or just check out because there is no point, which will send a message that we would not do business with anyone who does not come up to our standards. The other approach is to engage that country as much as possible, improve its standard of living and give Canadian businesses as well as the corporations in those other countries opportunities that would help them along, so that we both win. That is the approach this government is using.
The most hypocritical position I have ever seen in this House on the trade file is the opposition members supporting Jordan but not supporting Panama, Colombia and others. It is really beyond anything I have seen. Clearly, it is something that has to be addressed when we challenge the opposition members to come on side and sign the agreement. If they say they are pro-trade then they should do it. The excuses I have heard are absolutely not excuses but rather blind ideology that hurts Canadian businesses and Canada as a country.
Canada is a wonderful country. It is the greatest country in the world, according to the IMF, the OECD and Forbes magazine. We have created 760,000 net new jobs since the bottom of the recession. We have done that by lowering taxes and giving Canadian corporations the opportunity to actually develop and move their goods and services into international trade opportunities around the world. As a government, we will continue to do that. Why? That is what Canadians expect us to do.
The NDP would like to raise taxes to get out of this recession. We believe we should grow our country. That is the way to win, and we will continue to do that.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I addressed that question in my deliberations, but nonetheless I would like to repeat it.
It is absolutely no different from the agreement with Jordan that the opposition sat in this House and agreed with 100%. The most horrendous testimony we have heard in our committee came from the factories in Jordan, of the misuse of human rights, yet the side agreements on human rights and on the environment are the very same.
I am saying to my hon. colleague that it is ridiculous to say that the side agreements on human rights and environment say we are going to go soft on it. We are going to go as hard as we possibly can and make sure we do what we can, in this agreement and other agreements, to be able to respect human rights wherever we can. We understand very well that in Jordan and in Panama there may be problems.
I would say the opportunity to have more intense problems, when it comes to human rights, is in Jordan rather than in Panama.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting comment. Maybe the member is rather new here, but when the Liberals were in power for 13 long years, they signed zero agreements.
We signed nine and are heading to ten free trade agreements. It is very important that we not allow other countries to eat our lunch when it comes to trade. That is exactly what I said: when it comes to Panama, we have the United States, Singapore and other countries ahead of us with free trade agreements. The first one in usually has an opportunity ahead of the others. That is why we are pursuing, aggressively, free trade agreements with Japan and others. There is an advantage to making sure we do that.
It is very interesting, coming from the Liberal Party that agrees with free trade, because they did absolutely nothing. We have seen that as a trend by the Liberal Party for many years, so we are not really surprised.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the member is not opposed to trade; she is opposed to time allocation. This bill got to third reading with the last government. How much more debate does the member want on this thing?
Now we have started from scratch. This government has brought it up through committee and into the House, into third reading. That is a fairly extensive look at it. If the opposition has not made up its mind by now, it is never going to.
When it comes to tax havens, this is something that has been brought up before. In 2002 Panama committed to implementing the OECD's standards when it comes to exchange of tax information. In 2011, the OECD took another look at it and formally listed Panama as having substantial implementation and as having achieved international standards on exchange of information.
I believe Panama has come a long way. This is the right thing to do, and I encourage all members to consider that and vote for this piece of legislation.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague, who sounded a bit like a wounded bear. I would like to challenge him on some of the things he said and ask him a question.
This budget is really about building Canada and the vision he talked about so inappropriately of Preston Manning, his vision of smaller government, greater opportunity for the private sector, lowering taxes to enable that and to help the private sector make this country what it truly is, the greatest nation in the world, the one that has the most prosperous opportunity, as endorsed by the IMF, the OECD, other organizations, and Forbes magazine as well.
How could my colleague, as a supposed Rhodes scholar and an individual who ran Ontario into the ground, be a person of that stature and be so misinformed on Preston Manning, the Reform Party and what we on this side believe are the opportunities that Canadians should have and do have? How could he be so misinformed on those ideas and why—
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-06-06 14:06 [p.8925]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize an outstanding accomplishment of an organization in my riding of Yellowhead.
This coming Saturday, June 9, in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, the Alberta Beach Lions Club will be receiving an award at the International Snowmobile Congress 2012.
This group's great work has been recognized by the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations, which has bestowed upon it a national excellence award for outstanding promotion and development of snowmobiling in 2011-2012. This promotion of snowmobiling by the club is done with the common goals in mind in respect to the environment, conservation, access, education and accountability.
In Canada, there are over 603,000 snowmobiles registered, and the industry has $6 billion of economic impact annually.
I am very proud of the Alberta Beach Lions Club for its hard work in promoting activities that are not only fantastic and fun, but also ones that bring family, people and communities together.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-06-04 18:29 [p.8778]
Mr. Speaker, this House has seen an amazing sight this afternoon as the NDP has swallowed itself whole with regard to the trade file. It is absolutely amazing, because there is no difference in the principle of the Jordan free trade agreement wherein it is not a perfect world. We heard some of the most horrendous testimony in committee with regard to what is happening in some of the factories, which is no different from what is happening in Colombia, perhaps in Panama and in some of the other countries with which we have free trade agreements that the NDP says that it will not support.
The principle is the same. It is not a perfect world, but we try to make it better by engaging, not disengaging. It is absolutely, amazing and I will ask a quick question.
The leader of the official opposition was just up in the oil sands of Alberta. He had to go to the oil sands of Alberta to pull his head out of the sand on the trade file. When is the next time that he will go up there to learn more about how important trade is and take the rest of his caucus with him?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-05-30 15:38 [p.8574]
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents, I would like to present a petition.
The petitioners call on the House to confirm that every human being is recognized under Canadian law as a human by amending sections 22 and 23 of the Criminal Code in such a way that recognizes medical evidence of the same.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-05-10 14:59 [p.7886]
Mr. Speaker, history has shown that in severe economic times and challenge, the global economy is revived through lowering trade barriers, not raising them.
However, concerns have been raised about an amendment to a buy America provision in the transportation bill before the U.S. Congress. Shamefully, the NDP member for Burnaby—New Westminster has called the buy America a perfectly logical policy.
Could the Minister of International Trade please share with the House how our government is defending a strong Canada-U.S. partnership and creating jobs for Canadian workers and their families?
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-04-30 15:18 [p.7338]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on International Trade in relation to Bill C-23, an act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report it back to the House, without amendment.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-04-30 15:25 [p.7339]
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the residents in my constituency, I have two petitions.
The first petition calls upon Parliament to confirm that every human being be recognized by Canadian law as a human being by amending section 223 of the Criminal Code in such a way to reflect 21st century medical evidence.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-04-30 15:25 [p.7339]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from constituents in my riding who ask that we speedily enact legislation to restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-03-14 15:11 [p.6282]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on International Trade in relation to the main estimates 2012-13.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-03-12 15:10 [p.6086]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on International Trade in relation to the study of the comprehensive economic trade agreement with the European Union.
This agreement would allow us to capitalize on a population of 500 million, a third of the world's GDP. This would be the most comprehensive free trade agreement, if passed, in both of our respective jurisdictions. It is much more comprehensive than NAFTA. A witness told committee that this agreement would add $1,000 per year to the average Canadian household.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-03-12 15:16 [p.6087]
Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions from the riding of Yellowhead.
The petitioners recognize that the Supreme Court said that Parliament was responsible for enacting abortion legislation. They request that the House of Commons enacts legislation as fast as possible to restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-02-14 13:50 [p.5259]
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to Bill S-5, the financial system review act.
The bill has cleared the Senate and is now in the House. Some of my colleagues on the other side are asking why now and why so fast. It is not really fast. The consultation process started in September. We had to use that process to be able to get it to this place. Then we need to get it to committee and move it through so that it can actually be implemented by April of this year. That is very simple to understand.
We have a very strong and stable financial system in Canada. In fact, we came through the financial crisis with flying colours as a country, as did our financial institutions. Why? It is because we do these regular reviews. We ensured we made changes as we moved along and that nothing would be left on the back burner. We are actually moving forward and doing something with it to accommodate Canadians and their interests in the changing world in which we live.
Bill S-5 would make a number of improvements to key areas in the Canadian economy. The financial sector is very stable, and there are reasons for that. It is stable because of these mandatory reviews we are doing. It is also very big. We must realize that 750,000 people work in the system, all in well-paying jobs. It makes up about 7% of the GDP of this country. A lot is made up of the oil sands in my province, being 6% of the GDP in this country, and yet the financial institutions are larger than that and is doing very well.
The bill is not only big but also good. Why would it not be good when we have the number one Minister of Finance in all of the world? That is something that has never happened before to Canada. In fact, we are rated number one in the world in many different areas, especially in the field of financial management. In fact, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada as having the soundest banking system in the world. Forbes magazine has ranked Canada number one in its annual review as the best country to do business with as we move forward. Bloomberg has recently listed our five big banking institutions in Canada as the world's strongest banks, more so than in any other country in the world.
There is a competitive environment in this place and opposition members do what opposition members do, they oppose.
I have a quote here from a past Liberal finance minister, the now president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, John Manley, who said:
Our financial system and institutions were tested during the financial crisis and have proved sound. Canada’s banking system is now widely viewed as the most stable and efficient in the world.
That is high praise from a former opposition individual who knows the financial system very well.
Last month, an independent financial stability board appeal review praised the government's swift and effective response to the global financial crisis. We did come through it quite well. In its review, it highlighted the resilience of the financial system that we have as a model for other countries to follow. As Canadians, we should be proud of that.
We must realize that as we went through the financial crisis in Europe there were many problems with a lot of the banks there, as well as south of the border in the United States. If we compare ourselves to our number one trading partner, there was a meltdown of the financial systems. Not one of the financial institutions in Canada failed. Not one failed or required direct government support in the form of cash injections or debt guarantees during the global financial crisis. That is something that did not and does not happen by accident. It happened because there was good management of the Canadian financial systems and it is directly related to what we are doing here today with this legislation.
In fact, the report stated:
This resilience, which was achieved in spite of Canada’s relatively complex regulatory structure, highlights a number of key lessons for other jurisdictions.
What are those lessons that Canada can teach other jurisdictions? The first is to be proactive with targeted macroeconomic policies supported by adequate fiscal space and flexible exchange rates that will help absorb the external shocks.
The second is a prudent banking system management so that we do not become over-leveraged, as has happened in Europe, the United States and other banking systems and sectors. This is particularly important if we are to go through a crisis, such as what is happening around the world. We hope that we are through it now and that we will not revisit it, although what is happening around the world should make us a bit cautious, particularly the debt crisis in Europe and perhaps some overspending in the United States that could impact us in years to come.
The third thing is the comprehensive regulatory supervisory framework that effectively addresses the domestic prudent concerns including, when necessary, adopting regulatory policies that go beyond the international minimum standards.
Those are three lessons that other jurisdictions can learn from.
As the board noted, since 2008, the Conservative government has taken significant steps to make our financial system more stable and to reduce systematic risk to Canadians and to the system. In fact, the first thing we did in the 2008 budget was to modernize the authorities of the Bank of Canada to support the stability of the financial system.
We came through it in glowing fashion, as far as our financial institutions, but in budget 2009 we suggested other changes. Just in case we were to run into problems with our banking system, we wanted to ensure we were able to capitalize our banks so that they would not go into receivership. This is very important. What it really allowed for was, if there was an injection needed into our banking system to sustain it, the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation would have the flexibility to do that. That is actually a very wise thing. We did not need it, thankfully, and, hopefully, we never will. A bridging institution was what we needed. In banking terms it is called a bridged bank. Bill S-5 includes a number of technical refinements to ensure that the efficient implementation of those bridged bank tools are there.
Budget 2011 also announced our government's intention to establish a legislative framework for covered bonds, which are debt instruments secured by high quality assets, such as residential mortgages. This bill would make it easier for Canadian financial institutions to assess the low cost sources of funding and help to create a robust market for covered bonds in Canada.
Let us look ahead. We have this five year review. It is very important that we do this review, mainly adding to some of the changes that we have made over the last number of years, chiefly technical. One of the changes that would actually make it a little stronger goes back to one of the changes that was made by Liberals in 2001. It would back that off so that any bank that invests in more than 10%--
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-02-14 15:06 [p.5273]
Mr. Speaker, this is important legislation that we have before us. As I only have a minute and a half, I will reiterate some of what I have said. I mentioned how important the financial system is to Canada, how well we are actually doing compared to other countries and that some of the changes are a tweaking and of a technical nature of the Financial Systems Act.
One of the issues I was talking about before the question period break was that no financial institution can invest more than 10% of its assets in another international jurisdiction. That is to make certain that the system is protected and Canadians are not overly exposed. In fact, the Canadian Bankers Association, which we would think would be a bit concerned about this kind of imposition, said that it fully supports it.
We do have a great system in Canada. It is the best in the world. We have the greatest finance minister in the world. We have been recognized by international agencies in countries around the world as having done our job and done our job well. We have low taxes, stable finances and great opportunities. I believe that our best years are yet to be realized in this country if we just continue the course.
This legislation should meet with the approval of all members of the House as we move forward. I encourage everyone to consider this bill for what it is worth and the importance of it so that it can be completed in time for the April 20 deadline.
View Rob Merrifield Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2012-02-09 15:05 [p.5093]
Mr. Speaker, millions of people from all around the world visit our national parks in Canada every year, and why would they not? They are national treasures. In fact, in 2008-09 as a result, $3 billion was pumped into the Canadian economy. They are creating sustainable jobs for thousands of Canadian families. The private sector partnerships are also very important in our parks. They run the ski hills and look after hospitality and services.
Would the Minister of the Environment update the House on the latest exciting partnership that we have with the private sector?
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