June 18, 2019

LIB

Linda Lapointe

Liberal

Ms. Linda Lapointe

Mr. Speaker, thank you for making sure everyone is listening. The agreement we are discussing is very important.

We worked hard to secure a good deal that will benefit all Canadians. For example, the provisions that protect women's rights, minority rights and indigenous rights are the strongest in any Canadian trade agreement to date. This includes obligations with respect to the elimination of employment discrimination based on gender. The new NAFTA is also the first international trade agreement that recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination in its labour chapter.

I would add that, from the very beginning of the negotiation process, we emphasized the need to protect middle-class jobs and support economic growth. The vast majority of Canadian businesses are SMEs. They employ over 10.5 million Canadians, accounting for about 90% of the private sector workforce. The new agreement will help these Canadian businesses by giving them access to the U.S. and Mexican markets and promoting collaboration between the parties to create more opportunities for trade and investment.

During the 42nd Parliament, I had the honour and privilege of being a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade for two and a half years. The agreements that we signed include CETA and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. However, the agreement with the United States and Mexico is very important. The committee and parliamentarians worked very hard to move forward on this file, which is of vital importance to Canada. CUSMA includes a chapter on SMEs designed to complement the other commitments made throughout the agreement. It includes requirements to make available information that is specifically tailored to SMEs, including information on entrepreneurship, education programs for youth and under-represented groups, and information on obligations in the agreement that are particularly relevant to SMEs.

CUSMA also provides SMEs with an opportunity to collaborate in addressing any issue that could impact them in the future. In my riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, which includes Deux-Montagnes, Saint-Eustache, Boisbriand and Rosemère, SMEs are the main employers. The new agreement establishes a committee on SME issues and an annual trilateral SME dialogue that brings together representatives of private sector employees, non-governmental organizations and other experts to discuss issues pertaining to the agreement that are relevant to SMEs. By doing so, CUSMA will give a voice to Canadian SMEs and facilitate discussions on issues that matter to them.

In keeping with our commitment to adopting an inclusive approach to trade, Canada carefully considered the interests of indigenous peoples throughout the negotiations. The Government of Canada is determined to advance the process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples through a renewed nation-to-nation relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect and co-operation. Given the efforts made by Canada to renew this relationship, one of Canada's objectives is to better advocate for the commercial interests of indigenous peoples. To that end, the Government of Canada has undertaken a vast consultation with chiefs and indigenous representatives and also with businesses and experts to better understand their commercial interests and obtain their advice on the priorities for the negotiations.

For the first time in a Canadian free trade agreement, the CUSMA includes a general exception that clearly states that the government can adopt or maintain measures it deems necessary to fulfill its legal obligations towards indigenous peoples. This exception is a testament to the commitment by all three countries to ensure that the agreement's obligations do not interfere with a country's legal obligations towards indigenous peoples.

We are proud to have made indigenous peoples the focus of the NAFTA renegotiations. As National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations said, the new NAFTA's provisions addressing indigenous peoples make this most inclusive international trade agreement for indigenous peoples to date. The provisions will uphold the ancestral, inherent and treaty rights of first nations.

Furthermore, we are proud to have included a chapter on the environment in lieu of the side letter to the original NAFTA.

The chapter on the environment recognizes the important role indigenous peoples play in long-term environmental and biodiversity conservation, as well as sustainable fishing and forestry. The environmental provisions also take into account the rights of indigenous peoples under the Constitution for the use and development of natural resources.

Finally, for the first time in a Canadian free trade agreement, the preamble recognizes how important it is for indigenous peoples to participate more in trade and investment decisions. In addition to achieving results for SMEs, indigenous peoples and, of course, the cultural exemption, Canada has made gender equality and women's empowerment top priorities.

For instance, the labour chapter levels the playing field when it comes to labour standards and working conditions in North America, and includes commitments to ensure that national laws and policies provide protections for fundamental principles and rights at work. This includes provisions on non-discrimination in the workplace, including gender discrimination. It also includes provisions that encourage the adoption of programs and policies to tackle barriers to the full participation of women in the workforce. The agreement supports co-operative activities dealing with questions on gender issues in the workplace, particularly gender equality.

The investment chapter includes a special provision that reaffirms the importance of encouraging businesses to uphold standards of corporate social responsibility, including those that apply to gender equality.

The chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises encourages the parties to collaborate on activities that will maximize trade opportunities for SMEs owned by women and promote their participation in international trade. Taken together, the agreement's provisions on equality address the issue directly.

I have to say a few words about the cultural exemption. I remember the Standing Committee on International Trade's trip to Washington. When I said that Canada has over eight million French speakers, they had no idea what I was talking about. That is why the cultural exemption is so important. It affects the cultural industry and means that Canada will still be able to create and maintain programs and policies that support our thriving cultural industries. The industry represents 75,000 jobs in Quebec, and culture represents 2.7% of our GDP and 3.6% of all jobs in Canada. That was a very important gain, and I am very proud of it.

In conclusion, let me reiterate that we worked incredibly hard to make sure the new agreement benefits Canadians, and not just middle-class workers and small businesses, but traditionally under-represented groups, such as women and indigenous peoples, too.

As I said, the cultural exemption was very important, and I can proudly say that our goals were met. We made significant progress in improving standards and benefits for all Canadians.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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NDP

Peter Julian

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, one of the problems with the agreement has to do with its impact on supply management. Farmers from across Canada are looking at the concessions that were made to the Americans on dairy and other products.

In New Westminster, I am seeing American milk on the shelves for the first time in my life. That milk is cheap because it contains ingredients like bovine growth hormone. Generally speaking, the quality of that milk is not as good, but it puts consumers in a difficult position because it costs less.

The question I want to ask my colleague is very simple. Why did Canada and the government make so many concessions with regard to supply management? They are undermining all of our existing supply managed products.

What is more, why did they not offer dairy farmers the kind of compensation they should be able to expect from a government that supports them?

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Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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LIB

Linda Lapointe

Liberal

Ms. Linda Lapointe

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer my colleague's question about supply management. That issue is very important to me. We have heard a lot of talk about supply management in Quebec. However, from what dairy and poultry farmers are telling me, they are very satisfied.

It is important to remember that there are also new opportunities available. Take, for example, refined sugar and margarine. Markets are opening up. We are able to go there.

I would like my NDP colleague, who often speaks about international trade, to tell me whether there is an agreement, other than the one between Canada and Ukraine, that the NDP would have accepted. They do not think any agreement is good enough.

As for the official opposition, they were willing to accept any agreement as quickly as possible. They thought it we should just take whatever we could get without any negotiation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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NDP

Peter Julian

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Julian

Mr. Speaker, I asked a question. It would have been enough to answer me, but as usual the Liberal government prefers to attack the NDP.

As far as trade agreements are concerned, the NDP has always supported trade agreements that are fair, while the Conservatives and Liberals never talk about fair trade agreements. They are more interested in agreements that leave a lot to be desired for Canada and Canadians.

I am very pleased that my colleague mentioned that the NDP is the only party that supports trade agreements that are fair. It is the only party. As usual, the old parties are prepared to sign anything at any price. We have always advocated for evaluating agreements to see what we are gaining and what we are losing, in order to have trade where everyone wins, a fair trade agreement. The Liberals have never offered a single—

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NDP

Carol Hughes

New Democratic Party

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes)

Order. I apologize, but I have to give the hon. member the chance to respond to the question or make a comment.

The hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles has just under one minute.

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LIB

Linda Lapointe

Liberal

Ms. Linda Lapointe

Madam Speaker, I find that interesting, but he still has not said what kind of agreement they would have accepted.

We have faith in our farmers and in all those who work in the agri-food sector. Furthermore, the free trade agreement that we will sign with Mexico and the United States offers plenty of opportunities. Quebec excels in producing fine cheeses. Do members know that the best Camembert in the world comes from Quebec? We can export it. We are developing markets. It is simply a matter of seeking opportunities and selling our products.

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CPC

Erin O'Toole

Conservative

Hon. Erin O'Toole (Durham, CPC)

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 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 of 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 of 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 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 America 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.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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NDP

Brian Masse

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise and talk about the auto industry, coming from the auto capital of Canada, Windsor.

We have seen trade relations erode, and we have seen our current footprint shrink, most notably in the last number of years. I think it is important to recognize that it was actually 1965 when Canada got the Auto Pact in place. We had a trade deficit with the United States, despite the fact that my region was actually the birthplace of the Canadian auto sector. It actually developed with Detroit.

Fast forward from 1965 and we go from an auto deficit with the United States to actually having a significant surplus, which led to some consternation in the United States. In fact, it was the Mulroney Conservative government that killed the Auto Pact with the original NAFTA agreement. That is the reality.

What I would like to know from the Conservatives is what the difference would be in the auto sector with regard to these new negotiations and this trade agreement, given the fact that it was the Mulroney government that actually got rid of the Auto Pact.

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CPC

Erin O'Toole

Conservative

Hon. Erin O'Toole

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.

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CPC

Kelly McCauley

Conservative

Mr. Kelly McCauley (Edmonton West, CPC)

Madam Speaker, my colleague made a comment about how the tariffs have been hitting our steel industry hard.

I was looking at the PBO report, and two things stuck out. Last year, the Liberals collected $1.1 billion more in tariffs than they actually delivered to our suffering steel companies. In the fall economic statement, the Liberals further forecast that the Liberal government would bank an additional $3.54 billion in tariffs instead of actually using that money to help our suffering steel industry.

I wonder if my friend could comment on the duplicity of the Liberal government, saying that it stands behind our steelworkers when it is actually just taking the money and putting it right in the bank.

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CPC

Erin O'Toole

Conservative

Hon. Erin O'Toole

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?

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Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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LIB

Wayne Easter

Liberal

Hon. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I could not resist standing, because there was so much boom and bust and bluster from the member for Durham that it provoked me to ask a question.

There was a lot of fiction and very few facts in his remarks this evening. The fact of the matter is that we should be thanking the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the negotiating team for getting a pretty darn decent agreement at the end of the day. The Conservatives, on the other hand, in the initial stages of the negotiations, were taking the position that we should just cave in and give the Americans what they wanted.

The member for Durham talked about supply management, but what did President Trump put on the table when he was speaking with the dairy farmers from Wisconsin? He said he wanted the supply management system gone in its entirety. That is not where we ended up. We saved supply management. Yes, we gave a little bit of access, but we saved the system and negotiated a good agreement for Canada.

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CPC

Erin O'Toole

Conservative

Hon. Erin O'Toole

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.

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Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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BQ

Gabriel Ste-Marie

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie (Joliette, BQ)

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Durham for his speech.

Today we are debating the new NAFTA. The government announced that it wanted to fast-track it. For the Trans-Pacific Partnership we heard more than 400 witnesses in committee. There are just three days left before the House adjourns for the summer, followed by the election.

Does the member for Durham think this is all a pre-election spectacle by the government to show Canadians that it is resolving the matter of free trade, or is the Prime Minister simply sending a message to President Trump, telling him that he is taking care of it and will see him next week?

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Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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CPC

Erin O'Toole

Conservative

Hon. Erin O'Toole

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.

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BQ

Gabriel Ste-Marie

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie (Joliette, BQ)

Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois does not oppose the implementation of the new NAFTA, now known as CUSMA. We had two conditions for agreeing to consider the bill. We stated our reasons more than once, and I even wrote about them in the U.S. media. First, we wanted the issue of the steel and aluminum tariffs to be resolved. That has been done. However, there is also the issue of supply management, which has not been resolved.

The government wants to ram through the implementation bill for the agreement, and we are opposed to that. As I indicated in my previous question, more than 400 witnesses were invited to appear before the committee when it was studying the trans-Pacific partnership. However, to date, no witnesses have been invited to speak about CUSMA, the new NAFTA. We are therefore opposed to its implementation, because it puts the cart before the horse.

In Washington, Congress has barely started looking at the new agreement, and Congress has the authority to sign international agreements. The text that the Prime Minister signed in November may change. We know that the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, disagree with the Republicans, who control the U.S. Senate, about a number of things. The Democrats may well demand changes to the agreement before they endorse it. As of now, Congress has not even drafted the bills to implement the agreement, yet here we are debating ours. This makes no sense. Implementing an agreement that has not even been finalized is nothing more than pre-election smoke and mirrors.

Where is the fire? NAFTA is still in force and will remain in force after the dissolution of the House. There is no rush. I understand the government wanting to cross a few things off its to-do list, but doing a sloppy job is not the right way to bolster its record. Doing things properly means waiting. Furthermore, this agreement has some very real implications, and the government has not even bothered to listen to the people it will affect. That is a major problem.

Like all agreements, this one has winners and losers. The losers will need compensation, guidance and help, and that needs to happen at the same time as ratification, not afterwards, on the 12th of never. We know that promises made before ratification are quickly forgotten. Just look at the workers in the shipbuilding industry. They were told they would be compensated, and the next day, they were forgotten. We can also think of workers in the clothing, furniture, agriculture and automotive industries. They are getting no support.

We all know that this agreement was signed at the expense of our supply-managed farmers, our regions and our agricultural model. There is nothing to help them deal with this, nothing but vague promises. There was nothing in the notice of ways and means motion tabled a few weeks ago either.

After four years, we know what this government's promises are worth. It has been two years since CETA and the TPP were signed, but our farmers have yet to see even a hint of any cheques, and they will not get one red cent before the election. Despite its lofty promises, the government has done nothing. It should be ashamed. Because of its inaction, any commitments made in the budget have become campaign promises. Canadians have been burned, so all trust is gone.

With respect to CUSMA, the programs should already be in place when the agreement comes into force. Our farmers have been fleeced twice now, but they will not be fleeced a third time.

I want to address another issue of concern to dairy farmers. With CUSMA, Donald Trump will have control over the export of milk proteins, class 7. That is an unprecedented surrender of sovereignty by this government. Our farmers can currently sell surplus milk protein on foreign markets. If the agreement comes into force too quickly, there is a good chance that Washington and President Donald Trump will completely block our exports. It is worrisome. The risk is very real. That would completely destabilize Quebec's dairy industry.

If we get our protein exports in order before the agreement is implemented, there is a chance that the Americans will see the matter as resolved and will let it go. That is what we want. The last three agreements were signed at the expense of our producers. If the government implements this agreement in the worst way possible, it will cause irreparable harm. I think our farmers have been punished enough by the government. Enough is enough. For this reason alone, it is worth waiting. I think we all agree on that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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Some hon. members

We agree.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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BQ

Gabriel Ste-Marie

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie

Good. As I was saying, we do not systematically oppose every free trade agreement. We support free trade in principle. Quebec needs free trade. I also want to say that CUSMA, the new NAFTA, is not all bad. If I were a Canadian, I would probably think that the Minister of Foreign Affairs got a good deal. For example, she shielded Ontario's auto sector from potential tariffs. She also protected Canada's banking sector from American competition. That is not nothing. It is good for Ontario. She maintained access to the American market for grain from the west. This is good for the Prairies. This is a good agreement for Canada.

She also took back Canada's control over the oil trade, which Brian Mulroney abandoned in 1988. Alberta must be happy. For once, I am not being heckled too much. She did away with the infamous chapter 11 on investments and preserved the cultural exception. That is good. However, the specific gains for Quebec are less clear. I talked about supply-managed producers. I could talk about how the Government of Quebec will have to pay more for biologic drugs and will no longer be able to collect QST on packages arriving from the United States from Amazon or other web giants. Small retailers will find themselves at a disadvantage. What is more, copyright will be extended from 50 years to 70.

In short, we need to look at all of those things in order to implement measures that will help Quebeckers benefit from the new opportunities that are available and put programs in place to compensate those the government abandoned during the negotiations. We need to do all that before we vote on this legislation. No party in the House deserves to be given a blank cheque.

I hope that, after the election, the Bloc Québécois will have the balance of power. That is what political analysts are saying could happen. Then, there will be no more blank cheques.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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An hon. member

Oh, oh!

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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BQ

Gabriel Ste-Marie

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gabriel Ste-Marie

Madam Speaker, the member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert will see. For the first time in years, Quebeckers will be able to rest assured that their interests are being taken into account. In order to do that, we need to wait before voting on the NAFTA implementation bill. There is no hurry.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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June 18, 2019