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View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 21:02 [p.29356]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-100.
I want to start my remarks by recognizing that we are ending the session shortly and this could very well be my last speech in the 42nd Parliament. That will no doubt delight my Liberal friends, but if they stay to listen to the content of my final remarks, they will have no delight because they will outline their failures.
I want to also send special thanks to a couple of exceptional Canadians, Dr. David Stevens and Dr. Bill Plaxton in Kitchener Waterloo. I have been away the last week with my wife who had surgery. She was in the hands of those amazing medical professionals at Grand River Hospital. I want to thank them and I want to thank her for allowing me to come and speak tonight to NAFTA. I have been trying to help at home a little this last week.
All of us in the House rely on exceptional spouses, partners and families. If these are my last remarks of this Parliament, I think all of us do not thank our families enough. I love Rebecca and I love my family. The sacrifices we make in the House lead to reflection at this time of year. It has been good for me to spend time with my wife who is my partner in this adventure. I want to thank Dr. Stevens in particular for his exceptional care.
I will now proceed to upset my Liberal friends in discussing Bill C-100, back to my normal approach.
I hope a lot of Canadians are watching. I doubt they are, but I will push this out because we have to break this narrative that the government has approached the U.S. trade relationship and NAFTA renegotiations in any form of strategic fashion, because that has not been the case.
Much like almost every foreign relations approach under the Prime Minister, Canada has suffered, our sectors have suffered, employers, job creators, employees have suffered. The Liberal Party always puts the Prime Minister's brand and their own electoral fortune ahead of the national interest. Nothing highlights that more than the famous state visit to India. However, if we look at all the strained relationships Canada has around the world right now, we have never had so many. Almost all of these diplomatic entanglements are attributable to the Prime Minister's own approach, style and obsession with his image and electoral prospects.
We saw that with photographs from the India trip, but we have also seen it in flawed trade relations with China, where we are in the biggest dispute since we have had relations with China in the 1970s, with Saudi Arabia, with the Philippines. Countries like Italy have imposed tariffs on durum wheat. We are losing track of the number of countries that have a serious problem with Canada on trade, on security or in other relations because of the Prime Minister's government.
As much as I have some admiration for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, she is presiding over probably the worst period of modern diplomatic relations of Canada. I do not think 10 more magazine covers of Maclean's will correct that record.
Nothing should concern Canadians more than the situation with NAFTA. Two-thirds of our economy relies on trade with the United States. I have said this many times. Canada became lazy for the last half century, relying on the fact that we lived just north to the largest, most voracious free market economy in the world. In the post-world cycle, Canada traded, produced, were drawers of water and hewers of wood for the largest market just south of us.
Until the Harper government, we did not look much beyond our shores to enhance free trade and develop partnerships to diversify our trade relationships. We were so reliant, but we were also pioneers in free trade.
We can go back to the Harper and Mulroney governments, even back to Pearson with the auto pact of the mid-1960s when there was free trade in automobiles for the first time between two modern industrial countries. An automobile assembled in Oshawa by people like my father and his colleagues who worked in Oshawa where I grew up, or an automobile assembled in Windsor, or Oakville or Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec was considered just the same as if it had been assembled in Michigan.
Over the subsequent decades, we saw a Great Lakes free trade based in auto. It was the epicentre of the global auto industry. With just-in-time manufacturing, a part could be made in Aurora, put on final assembly in Oshawa and 70% of the vehicles produced in our Ontario auto plants were for sale in the United States anyway. Therefore, our free trade with the United States was built upon the auto industry.
I say this for two reasons. The first is because representing Oshawa and that industry, the retirees and the workers there now is a priority for me. The second reason is because it should trouble Canadians that the minister did not mention the auto industry in her priority speech on NAFTA, despite the fact the Liberals' best friend, Jerry Dias, was on the NAFTA advisory committee. I was pushing for auto to be a priority. whereas Jerry Dias was applauding the Prime Minister for an agenda that did not mention the auto industry.
Let us do a recap. President Trump was elected, and before his inauguration, before he was president, the Prime Minister volunteered to renegotiate NAFTA. There have been so many mistakes between now and then, we forget that our Prime Minister inserted us into something that was likely going to be focused on modernization with Mexico. Later on, the U.S. outlined what it wanted.
In July 2017, a United States trade representative laid out a series of priorities for the U.S. It spelled them out in detail, including things related to state-owned enterprises and non-market economy-type structures, which were a surprise to people at the end. The U.S. laid it out in July 2017 in detail, rules of origin, part content and the fact it wanted to go after what it perceived to be subsidies in the agriculture sector in Canada, despite the fact the U.S. spends more on agricultural subsidies than we spend on our military. However, it laid out what it wanted to talk about.
What did the Liberal Party lay out a few months later in August 2017 at the University of Ottawa? The minister launched her vaunted progressive agenda speech. There was no response to what the U.S. had already put out on trade. That is how a negotiation is supposed to work. The U.S. talks about the priorities it wants to talk about at the table and we put forward a contrary position. We should have pushed back and said that the U.S. had to stop subsidizing its agriculture sector before it could lecture us. However, the Liberals did not do that. They proceeded to make it all about the Prime Minister again. The “progressive agenda” they called it.
I invite Canadians to look at the speech. The core objectives of the minister's speech were laid out in detail and they were failures across the board. I know the minister has a high degree of education, but if she was getting marked on her paper, her speech, she would have failed.
Let me take the House through the core objectives laid out by the Liberal Party at the beginning of NAFTA.
The first objective was to modernize NAFTA for the digital revolution. That did not happen. In fact, there are concerns with respect to data transfer and localized storage of digital information that Canada was not able to negotiate into the new NAFTA. Therefore, the first core objective was a failure.
The second objective was the progressive section within NAFTA, where the minister, and later on the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and others, said that the government wanted clear, new chapters on climate change, gender rights, indigenous issues regarding reconciliation, those sorts of things. At the time, I said it was hard to be critical of things that were very important social programming and policy issues, particularly reconciliation. I take that responsibility very seriously. However, I also recognize that NAFTA is a trade agreement. There is not even a constitutional alignment between first nations and indigenous peoples, between Mexico, the United States and Canada, so how could we ever negotiate a trade agreement with a chapter on indigenous issues, for example? It was impossible.
Why were those elements the second prong of Canada's NAFTA strategy? Because it was the Prime Minister's brand. That could have been ripped out of the 2015 Liberal election platform.
When we are putting up policies to ensure we guarantee almost two-thirds of our economic activity as a nation, we should not be doing the posturing that the Liberals do on all these relationships. It leads to bad outcomes.
The third core objective the Liberal Party outlined was harmonizing regulations. That did not happen either. In fact, the last government had regulatory co-operation in the western hemispheric travel initiative, beyond the border initiatives. We have gone way back. We are not harmonizing any regulations.
The fourth core objective was government procurement and eliminating local content and buy American provisions. The Liberals failed on that one too. There remain buy America provisions, and the trend is getting worse.
The fifth core objective was to make the movement of professionals easier with respect to allowing Canadian professionals or people transferred to work in the United States. They failed on that front too. They did not secure that. That should have been low hanging fruit.
The sixth core objective was supply management, which the Liberals caved on as well. What I never heard the government say was the fact that the supply management system was criticized relentlessly. We heard President Trump talk about high tariff rates. I never heard a Liberal minister push back on the United States and say that its collection of direct agriculture subsidies amounted to more subsidization of the agricultural sector in the United States than in Canada by a country mile. In fact, the Americans spend more on agricultural subsidies on average each year than we spend on our military. We should have been pushing back at this narrative.
Those were the six core objectives of the minister's speech at the University of Ottawa. I would invite Canadians to look at it. We did not achieve a single objective. If that is not failure of colossal proportions, I do not know what is.
At the same time, we had section 232 speculation about steel and aluminum tariffs. The Conservatives said at the time that we needed to talk security, that we needed to talk trade, that we needed to ensure we could use NORAD and other relationships that were unique to Canada as a way to ensure we did not have section 232 tariffs applied.
The Prime Minister did a steel town tour when the government gained a one month exemption from tariffs. A month later the tariffs applied and they hurt Canada hard for a year. If we look at the statements by Secretary Ross in the United States, we could have avoided it.
Bill C-101 that is before the House now on safeguards is what the U.S. had been asking for. Had we aligned on concerns about oversupply of steel from China, had we aligned on security provisions, we could have avoided section 232 tariffs and we could have had a better NAFTA.
At the time, the Conservatives publicly told the minister to use the North American defence relationship to distinguish Canada. Only Canada has a defence and homeland security partnership with the United States. Mexico does not. Europe does not. NAFTA does not. Only Canada does, and we have had that since the 1950s.
When we are talking trade, or security, or oversupply of commodities from China, we should have been aligned. Oversupply of Chinese steel was something the Obama administration started taking on in the early days of the Liberal government, as the administration was winding down. This was not all about it being hard to align with Trump. No attempt was made by the Liberal government.
The damage the so-called progressive agenda did allowed Mexico to negotiate an agreement before Canada. It should astound Canadians to know that in the final months of negotiations, Canada was not at the table but Mexico was. Mexico had 85 direct meetings with administration officials even though it was starting in a much worse position. The border relationship with Mexico was part of the U.S. presidential election. However, Mexico was strategic. It did not posture. It did not virtue signal. It did not try and run its next election using NAFTA negotiations as the stage.
I cannot stress enough that on almost every major diplomatic entanglement we have had under the current government, it has been the result of the Liberal Party putting its own election fortunes ahead of our national interests, ahead of steelworkers, ahead auto workers and ahead of the softwood lumber industry, which was hardly even mentioned by the government. We have seen those sectors, agriculture and others, let down time after time because of the Prime Minister's particular agenda and his desire to make this all about him. In this Parliament, we should be serving Canadians and not the electoral fortunes of that party.
What has Mexico done? It has surpassed us under the Liberals. In fact, Mexico is now the largest bilateral trade partner with the United States at $97.4 billion in the first two months of this year. That was ahead of our $92.4 billion, even though it is caught in the trade disruption. Mexico has been smarter than the current government has, so much so that it reached an agreement, and Canada was given an option to join it. There were no further negotiations, despite the minister's frequent trips to Washington and storming into the building. The deal was done, and if members go to Washington, everyone knows that. The deal was done, and Canada was given the ability to sign on.
Now we hear the Liberals holding on to things like culture, which was exempted. Culture was never mentioned by the U.S. once. It was not a priority in the minister's speech, and the Prime Minister never mentioned it. The Liberals are now trying to cobble together things they try to say they saved. We already had chapter 19. They are saying that culture was not changed. The Americans were not trying to change it. I read through the six core objectives in the minister's speech. The Liberals failed on every single one.
We have tried to work with them. In fact, the relief from the section 232 tariffs was initiated by the Conservative caucus going down there and saying that we would work with the government on ratification, and the member for Malpeque knows that. He and many people are leaving, because they do not like the way the Prime Minister approached it. I have lost track of how many more Liberal first-timers have resigned today. They do not agree with his approach.
We went down and said that we would try to use the dying days of Parliament to pass a new NAFTA, even though we think it is a step back. Our leader has called it NAFTA 0.5, because we wanted those steel and aluminum tariffs off. They were hurting manufacturers in Ontario. They were hurting people in my riding, like Ranfar Steel, and steel plants in Prince Edward Island that I visited last summer. They were being hurt in Quebec. Therefore, we made an agreement to say that we would try to work with the government on ratifying a deal, which we think is a step back, just to get trade certainty. Businesses want some certainty, even if it means taking a worse deal. This will be a priority for us.
I want to end with remarks that are etched on the walls of the U.S. embassy in Canada. We can let personalities get in the way on both sides, but it will be a priority for the Conservative government to get this relationship back on track.
In 1961 in this chamber, John F. Kennedy said this:
Geography has made us neighbours. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder
He said that in this chamber, and that is a challenge to us. These are our closest allies, trade partners and familial connections going back to the origins of our country. We have to be able to fight for our interests and co-operate on security and trade. To do that, the Conservatives wanted to work with the government to get the tariffs done and work with the NAFTA agreement as we have it. We will fix the gaps after a change in government, sector by sector, including auto, softwood and agriculture. To get the certainty, we were prepared to try to work with the government, even though we would have taken a very different approach.
I look forward to questions, including from my friend, the MP for Malpeque.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 21:23 [p.29359]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member for Windsor West. As he recognized, I mentioned the Auto Pact in my remarks as the first example of sectoral free trade between two large industrial countries.
Canada did benefit in a large way. His area of Windsor, my area of Oshawa, places like Oakville, Sainte-Thérèse, Mississauga and Aurora grew what became a Great Lakes basin of auto parts, auto supply and assembly.
There are a number of reasons we have seen Canadian competitiveness erode in the last few years. This negotiation is one of them. In fact, some of the best years, when that member was working in the auto industry, came in the early nineties, when we had record levels of assembly with the United States. I know the member was part of that at the time.
What we are seeing now is protectionism with the U.S. We should have made sure that auto was our priority from the start. The fact that our minister did not mention auto as a priority in her core objectives speech should concern Canadians. It should concern Jerry Dias, who was on the committee. Where was Jerry? That is a good question. Now the Liberals are putting him on other advisory committees, at least for the next few months.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 21:25 [p.29359]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Edmonton West for his work. In fact, he and his office knew the last budget and the errors in it better than the Minister of Finance and his entire department. I think the people of Edmonton should be very proud of the team we have there. It will be growing by two in a few months.
The $3.5 billion in tariffs is part of our push-back on Bill C-101. The government promised certain things in terms of tariff relief. When it imposed the retaliatory tariffs on the U.S., it knew that it was having an adverse effect on Canadian producers and suppliers. In fact, I called some of them dumb, because the minister had promised me that she would adjust if those retaliatory tariffs were having virtually no impact in the U.S. but a huge impact in our community. We all know boat sellers across the country, like the Junkin family in my riding. They have received no relief. They now have stranded inventory.
As part of our support for the safeguard bill the Liberals are rushing through at the end, we have asked for a plan to get rid of that $3.5 billion. That is tax they collected that is in government revenues. It should go out to the small steel fabricators. It should go out to the boat retailers. It should go out to the SMEs impacted by Liberal trade disruption.
When are the Liberals going to dispense the money these Canadian enterprises, particularly in western Canada, need so much?
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 21:28 [p.29360]
Madam Speaker, I am glad I provoked my friend from Malpeque to stand. We are going to miss him when he retires shortly.
I would direct him to MacDougall Steel Erectors in Borden-Carleton. They are great people. They know the member well, and they know he has been frustrated. MacDougall is a great example of a supplier that has worked with companies in Quebec that are working on buildings in Manhattan. It is amazing. They can get specialized steel products made on Prince Edward Island into a Quebec company's bid for a Manhattan high-rise. What the tariffs were doing, under the Liberals' watch, when they allowed them to happen, was pricing the Quebec steel company and the P.E.I. company out of North American supply chains. We could not have another year of companies like MacDougall stuck out of these supply chains. That is why Conservatives are working with the government to get the tariffs off, and if it means a NAFTA 0.5, we will fix it after the election.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 21:31 [p.29360]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
Free trade agreements like NAFTA, the TPP and CETA are very important to our future, because we need to seek out new markets around the world. Trade between Canada and the United States is currently being disrupted, especially with respect to steel and aluminum. The Conservative Party will work with the government if we have a normal agreement and if there are no tariffs going forward.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 22:57 [p.29371]
Mr. Speaker, what to say after that speech? Winston Churchill once said that a man was about as big as the things that made him angry. Certainly, the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook was quite angry tonight, trying to defend the government's record on trade, which is not a good one. It reminds me a little bit of the advice he was given by the minister for climate change when she said that if we wanted people to believe something, just keep saying it, yell it, get angry and then they would totally believe it.
I would ask the member this. He talked a lot about how the Prime Minister fought for the progressive agenda in the U.S. trade deal. Of course, in the last two months of this trade deal, which is represented in Bill C-100, Canada was not even at the negotiating table. Mexico got the deal. We had to be added to it.
The member talked about the signature of the progressive agenda and he mentioned the gender lens. I would like that member to refer me to the chapter in the agreement on gender. Here is a hint for Canadians watching: There is no chapter. None of the items the government laid out in their objectives were met.
I know the member worked a lot in education. I think he will be going back to that in the fall. Could he tell me something? In the six core objectives, when the Liberals got zero out of six, would he fail a student with that mark?
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 23:07 [p.29372]
Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure how to follow my friend from Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook. I will try to do so with facts, as opposed to volume. He knows that my family, who live in Fall River in his riding, have a great deal of respect for him, as I do. Unfortunately, the speech he was given tonight with respect to NAFTA does not reflect what really happened in the negotiations and the deal.
As a Nova Scotia MP, the member would know that the future of economic development in Nova Scotia, the success being had right now, is attributable to two things. First is the amazing potential of institutions and entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada, and Nova Scotia in particular. Second was the strategic focus on trade and infrastructure that took place during the Harper government. Specifically, Atlantic Canada has never seen a larger investment than the awarding of the shipbuilding contract to the Halifax shipyard. The largest investment in the history of Atlantic Canada is attributable to the Conservatives.
I am very proud of that, having served on board one of the frigates bought previously by the last majority Conservative governments of Mulroney. When Conservative governments are in, they have to modernize and update the Canadian Armed Forces every generation. We see the current government buying 40-year-old used aircraft from Australia and being parodied on the world stage, but the investment at the Halifax shipyard is impressive. In fact, I will be going to see it again this summer.
What is interesting as well for the Halifax Regional Municipality, an area that the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook should know well, as his riding abuts the Halifax airport, is that Peter MacKay made it a priority for the runways at the Robert Stanfield airport to be extended. Longer runways allowed for more cargo flights to take Atlantic Canadian exports around the world, exports like lobster to South Korea. As parliamentary secretary in the Harper government, I was proud to visit the cargo terminal at Stanfield International in Halifax to see one of the first few months' worth of flights taking Nova Scotia lobster, fished from Cape Breton right down through to the south shore and to Yarmouth, to new markets in Asia, to secure a better price for the products.
In fact, the CETA trade deal was particularly beneficial to a number of key industries in Atlantic Canada, particularly on the seafood side, as was the bilateral trade deal with South Korea, which I was involved in.
If we do the rundown, at Cape Breton, the tar ponds that were talked about for generations, when I was in law school at Dalhousie or serving at Shearwater, were finally cleaned up under the Conservatives. The trouble is that by the time we get these projects done, we have done the heavy lifting and we do not get to cut some of the ribbons that the new people do. However, I would like the member to spend a few moments researching that.
At the moment, I cannot point to one major investment by the current government. In fact, when the minister in charge of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is based out of Mississauga, and when the Liberals tried to break with 80-year tradition to block an Atlantic Canadian jurist from the Supreme Court of Canada, defying constitutional precedent, I would suggest Atlantic Canadians have seen that there is zero priority for their needs with the government. There are lots of photo ops and selfies, but that is wearing thin on them.
I would like the member to do some research on the items I have just spoken about. I would like anyone to bring it to the floor of the House of Commons if I am wrong about the shipbuilding investment in the Halifax shipyard being the largest single public procurement infrastructure project ever in Atlantic Canadian history. As someone who lived, served and studied in Atlantic Canada, I am very proud of that track record.
I am now speaking on a continued debate on Bill C-100 and the amendment offered by the NDP. I might as well get to the crunch of the challenge we face here.
As Conservatives, we negotiated 98% of Canada's export access; 98% were deals negotiated by the Conservatives. That included the U.S. free trade agreement, NAFTA, CETA and the trans-Pacific partnership, which basically was agreed upon in the middle of the 2015 election, but then the U.S. pulled out and there were some changes made. There was the agreement with South Korea and a tonne of bilateral agreements. There are really only two or three free trade agreements that were not negotiated by Conservative governments: the Israel free trade agreement, which we modernized, and I think maybe the Chile agreement. However, by and large, 98% of our export access was negotiated by Conservatives. Therefore, we have been frustrated in this process, seeing a lack of attention on trade, exports and key market sectors to be put forward in the renegotiation of NAFTA. This amendment raises a range of issues.
Core to the problems with the NAFTA negotiation were not the outcomes on labour, because the U.S. was concerned basically about labour rates in Mexico. In fact, Canada is a signatory to more ILO treaties than the U.S. is. What is interesting is that, just today, in front of Congress, the USTR, Ambassador Lighthizer, viewed it as a success that Mexico is going to have a secret ballot in the union elections, something the Liberals oppose as a democratic approach to elections for union representation. They likely oppose it because Jerry Dias appears to be a senior advisor to the Prime Minister, advising now on how to spend the $600 million media fund. That should trouble Canadians.
However, the problem was the focus in the NAFTA negotiations, which was softwood lumber, our eternal irritant with the U.S. relationship. In fact, Canadian softwood allows home ownership in the United States to be available to more people. The only reason the tariffs on our softwood lumber, which were agreed upon by the current government, are not having as big an impact as they could is the voracious appetite in the United States right now for construction and softwood in general. Therefore, the price and demand are strong enough that they are living with the tariff that has been imposed.
Members may recall that when the Harper government came in, it made the unusual decision of asking David Emerson to switch parties to help drive toward a deal on softwood. That was the last agreement we were able to lock down with the United States. Therefore, it has been a perpetual irritant in the trade relationship with Canada, which is largely due to a few stakeholders in the U.S. who have a lot of influence in Washington holding back affordability for millions of Americans. The Liberals should have used this opportunity of opening up NAFTA to get resolution on a core irritant of trade. If we are going to modernize, let us fix something that we are always fighting with the Americans on. It was not even mentioned in the priorities of the Liberals, nor was auto.
As I said earlier, the Auto Pact of 1965 was the first free trade agreement between Canada and the U.S. We would not have NAFTA, nor the USFTA, were it not for the Auto Pact. That was not mentioned as a priority.
Most of the agriculture sector is not mentioned. In fairness, the minister did mention supply management but did not push back at any of President Trump's inflated rhetoric on 200% tariff quotas. The U.S. spends more on agricultural subsidies than we spend on our military. When were we pushing back on that? There is no level playing field in agriculture if the U.S. is spending billions in direct subsidies.
We ignored agriculture, auto and softwood. We literally left out most of the areas that we should have been focused on right from the start. That is what the Conservatives said. That is what our leader said. That is what I said. That is what many of our members said.
We also urged them to look at ballistic missile defence, modernizing NORAD as a way to remind Americans that if they are going to impose section 232 tariffs because of security grounds, they do not do that with their one partner on homeland defence and security, Canada. They did not do that. In fact they took positions antithetical to the U.S.
Canada pulled out our jets in the fight against ISIS. When France and the U.S. were asking us to do more in security, the Prime Minister in a second vote in this Parliament, whipped by the former head of our army, I would note he is retiring. He was the whip. I know how difficult that must have been to withdraw from a battle when our allies are trying to step up.
The Obama presidency, the bromance the Prime Minister brags about all the time, wanted us to stay in. We were not seen as a trusted, reliable security partner under the Prime Minister. When section 232 tariffs were being talked about on security grounds, we were not making our case.
Here is something else I recommended and I would recommend the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, who informed us how they try and fool Canadians by being persistent, yelling, being loud and then Canadians will totally believe them. The big myth we have in modernizing NAFTA was modernizing trucking and transportation in North America. We knew that President Trump had issues with Mexican trucking and some of the border rules in terms of states on the border and trucking regulations.
When the Mulroney government negotiated the U.S. Free Trade Agreement, concluded in the 1988 election, Canada still owned Air Canada. We had not liberalized passenger airline travel. It was still a Crown corporation. Fast-forward to today in 2017, 2018, 2019, we see efficiencies for more open skies. I would like to see even more. We see efficiencies in the North American railroads where Canadian companies like CP and CN have done very well with liberalized transportation rules.
We urged the government, if it wants a game-changer, to truly modernize NAFTA, modernize trucking because in many cases because of state or provincial rules, if we send goods from Quebec to California, or from Ontario to Massachusetts, those trucking resources often have to come back empty or do not have the ability to transport interstate.
What is interesting about that, and I know my friend, the leader of the Green Party is listening intently, is that, had we brought cabotage and trucking into it, it would have been the single largest reduction in greenhouse gases in the history of North America, by modernizing trucking.
I recommended that and when David Emerson, a former transportation minister, someone very well regarded in the industry as well, appeared at transport committee, I asked him would that not have been a win on both the trade front and the environment front. He agreed it would have been the single largest way to reduce greenhouse gases.
Despite the rhetoric, the government's greenhouse gas emission reduction plan is a tax. We could have worked this into NAFTA. The timing was there. As I said, liberalizing trucking regulations was not even forecast in the eighties because there was still state ownership of airlines and so on. Today with air liberalized to a large degree to rail, to short sea shipping in many cases, we could have added trucking. Not only would it reduce greenhouse gases, it would have made businesses more efficient, would have potentially reduced costs and maximized the utility of our trucking infrastructure.
That is something we recommended for the agreement, particularly with a president who likes to tell everyone that he is a business leader. That would have been a way to say we can have a win for the customer, a win for competitiveness, fewer trucks on the road and fewer emissions. Let us modernize that in NAFTA.
No, we did not mention that either. We did not mention our core industries, like auto, softwood or key agriculture sectors. We did not even get modernized professional work abilities in the United States. We did not get digital modernization. We did not get security and certainty with respect to where data and data storage would be for privacy reasons. We really did not get anything in this agreement, because we did not go into the negotiations in a strategic fashion.
The Liberal government underestimated what the negotiations would amount to, and they went in with the sort of posturing image of the Prime Minister, his much vaunted progressive agenda. Liberals kind of said that they would work with Mexico, too. The Prime Minister went down to Mexico to say that we would work together. Then, what did Mexico do? It had 85 direct meetings with White House administration officials.
By the end, the last two months, we had negotiated ourselves away from the table, and the member for Fredericton should know, because the exporters in New Brunswick have been let down by him, remarkably, on this file, that when Canada is not present at the negotiation of a trilateral agreement, when there are only two parties present, it is a failure of the third party.
I understand why the member for Fredericton is frustrated. He might be the next first-term Liberal to announce his retirement. I am losing track of how many. Today it was the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard. We had a few others, I think. I would love to have the Library of Parliament research this fact because I am not 100% sure, but maybe the member for Fredericton could research it too. I think that a majority government has never seen more first-time MPs leave than the current government.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 23:25 [p.29375]
Mr. Speaker, if only we had seen that passion from the member for Fredericton a few years ago, we might have been able to avoid some of the disastrous results we have had on the trade front.
On nights like this, I wonder if he is reflecting on that fact and on what he is going to say when he goes back to Fredericton. He will have to say that we are rushing through bills like Bill C-100 and Bill C-101 in the final hours of Parliament because we were not able to secure good outcomes for Canada. This is despite the fact that we were able to join a deal that Mexico and the United States had signed.
As I was saying before he had his outburst, if there is a trilateral agreement being negotiated and one of the three parties is no longer at the table, we should ask how we let that happen. As I said in my remarks on Bill C-100, this year is the first year that Mexico has surpassed Canada as the number one bilateral trade partner for the first two months of this year. Mexico surpassed us, negotiating the USMCA. It had a deal on section 232 tariffs before Canada, despite the fact we are NORAD partners and we have had free trade with the U.S. for years before Mexico did.
We have to work with what the government has been able to table. We have to make sure that we do not have the tariffs come back on, because steel fabricators in Fredericton and MacDougall Steel in Prince Edward Island cannot afford another year of tariffs.
In fact, I can summarize and conclude with this. Canadians cannot afford another four years of the Liberals.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 23:30 [p.29375]
Mr. Speaker, with the interventions tonight from the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, the member for Fredericton and the member for Malpeque, there must have been a really good Atlantic reception tonight in Ottawa these members were attending before late night debate.
I talked about how impressed I was when I toured the MacDougall Steel facility in Borden-Carleton. I know that the member from there is proud. He knows that they were hurting under the tariffs, which is why we are trying to work with the government.
I refer the member for Fredericton to Tek Steel, L&A Metalworks and Ocean Steel in St. John, which does work across the region. They were hurting because they were being boxed out of North American bidding opportunities. In fact, in this trade deal, we still see buy American provisions in the United States.
I invite that member for Fredericton to meet me this year at Tek Steel, and let us talk to them about the damage that has been done with tariffs, with trade uncertainty and with taxes. Remember, Tek Steel and MacDougall Steel are run by the people the Prime Minister thinks run small businesses to avoid paying taxes. The Liberals already had their war on small business two years ago.
Canadian businesses have had enough. On October 21, they can choose the Conservatives.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 23:34 [p.29376]
Mr. Speaker, if Canadians are still watching, I want them to know that we have lots of respect and friendships across the aisle, and I am friends with the member for Eglinton—Lawrence. I will try to tone down my partisanship. I would like to thank him for asking his last question in the House of Commons.
I find it interesting that a lot of members keep quoting elements of this deal that are not in the deal. We know the Liberals made really big news about the progressive agenda, but there is no chapter on gender. In the Chilean deal, in which they updated an appendix, it was non-binding provisions. They are pointing to things that are not even in the deal but are still in the brand talking points of the Prime Minister, and that is the problem with the Liberal approach to trade. It is the problem with the trip to India. It is the problem with China. It is the problem with Saudi Arabia. It is the problem with the Philippines. It is the problem with Italy, which has imposed tariffs on durum wheat.
Right now, Canada is not seen as being serious under the Liberal Prime Minister, because he puts electoral prospects in certain parts of the country and his own brand and image in photographs ahead of our trade, ahead of our economic future and ahead of our security.
When France asked us after the Bataclan attack to step up our fight against ISIS, the Prime Minister was the only western leader to pull back, and countries noticed. As the foreign affairs critic, I meet with them, and near the end of the meeting it is clear they are wondering what has happened to Canada.
We do not need more photographs or hashtags. We need more principled Canadian leadership in the world, and that is what the world will get with a Conservative government.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 23:37 [p.29376]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith. It is my first time responding to his question.
I share his concern about the loss we had on data protection with respect to biologics. I have seen the impact of those drugs, personalized medicine, and I think that was one of many losses.
ISDS is one, as his leader would know. However, it is interesting that the Liberals do not seem to recognize that foreign companies operating here can already use our court system, which is the most fair in the world when they are not interfering with it like in the SNC-Lavalin affair. We need that certainty in other countries. With the FIPA with China, we were giving Canadian exporters the right to sue there.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-18 23:48 [p.29378]
Mr. Speaker, I know the member served in the Ontario legislature with my father, and my father had good things to say about him. He got off the HMCS Titanic before the Wynne government took down the Liberals in Ontario, in many ways because they made the Ontario economy less competitive. A high-tax, high regulatory environment was driving investment to the U.S. and other jurisdictions.
Added to that competitiveness challenge that our PC cousins in Ontario inherited after 15 years of the Liberals, we now see trade uncertainty, tariffs and potentially reduced market access around the world, further complicating Ontario, Mississauga and the GTA as a place for investment.
It is not lost on many people that the retreat of the auto industry, hitting the auto parts industry in Durham, is the culmination of the three Ts, high taxes, tariffs and trade uncertainty, all things brought in by Liberal governments provincially and federally.
Does he see the threat of the reimposition of steel and aluminum tariffs as a serious competitive threat for Ontario?
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-07 11:41 [p.28753]
Madam Speaker, the veterans' hospital in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, was transferred from the federal government to the Government of Quebec in 2016.
Unfortunately, under this Liberal government, the quality of care has gone downhill, forcing very elderly veterans to take legal action to get the services they were promised at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.
Why are the Liberals once again abandoning our veterans?
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-07 11:43 [p.28753]
Madam Speaker, what is inappropriate is for the Liberal government to ignore our veterans a day after we celebrated their win over tyranny in World War II, veterans like Wolf Solkin, who is the lead veteran at the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue hospital. He and his friends were the veterans who secured the democracy we have today. He is standing up for his fellow veterans at Ste. Anne's to ensure that they have the same level and quality of service and treatment that they had before the transfer in 2016. We can celebrate our veterans, and both sides respect that, but only this side can make it right.
When will the government commit to fixing the situation at Ste. Anne's?
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-06-07 12:53 [p.28765]
Madam Speaker, Bill C-59 is a very important bill because it is an omnibus bill related to security and intelligence measures. I have spoken to it several times in the House, and it is critical.
It is critical for parliamentarians to understand and hear the discussion on this bill before we pass it. Therefore, Madam Speaker, I would like to ask you whether the House has quorum for my speech on Bill C-59.
And the count having been taken:
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