Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

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

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

Ed Fast  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment implements the Free Trade Agreement and the related agreements on the environment and labour cooperation entered into between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and signed at Amman on June 28, 2009.

The general provisions of the enactment specify that no recourse may be taken on the basis of the provisions of Part 1 of the enactment or any order made under that Part, or the provisions of the Free Trade Agreement or the related agreements themselves, without the consent of the Attorney General of Canada.

Part 1 of the enactment approves the Free Trade Agreement and the related agreements and provides for the payment by Canada of its share of the expenditures associated with the operation of the institutional aspects of the Free Trade Agreement and the power of the Governor in Council to make orders for carrying out the provisions of the enactment.

Part 2 of the enactment amends existing laws in order to bring them into conformity with Canada’s obligations under the Free Trade Agreement and the related agreement on labour cooperation.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • March 5, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on International Trade.
  • March 5, 2012 Passed That this question be now put.

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.
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South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to commence the third reading debate on the Canada-Jordan economic growth and prosperity act.

The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement is yet another example of our government's commitment to helping Canadian businesses compete in markets abroad and create more jobs for Canadian workers here at home. We continue to see fierce competition in the global marketplace, with emerging economies and global players further establishing themselves in a wide range of sectors and integrating themselves into global value chains.

In a number of countries, Canadian firms are at a disadvantage because their foreign competitors have preferential market access under some form of free trade agreement. Like other initiatives in our negotiating agenda, the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement addresses this serious issue by levelling the playing field with key competitors who are already benefiting from preferential market access to Jordan, namely, businesses from the United States and the European Union.

Through the negotiation and signing of the free trade agreement with Jordan, our government is ensuring that Canadian firms are on an equal footing to compete with firms from across the world in the Jordanian market.

Opening doors to trade and investment is the right approach to create opportunities for Canadian workers and businesses in global markets. Our government will do everything it can to ensure that Canadian workers and businesses have the tools and opportunities to build the links needed to succeed in today's global economy. We are committed to bringing continued economic prosperity to Canadians by pursuing bilateral and regional free trade agreements. That is why we are moving forward on an ambitious pro-trade plan to help Canadians compete and win in global markets.

Over the years, Canada and Jordan have built a strong, mutually beneficial relationship and this free trade agreement continues to build on that important relationship. It is a relationship grounded in common aspirations, aspirations like peace, stability and prosperity for our citizens, and this new free trade agreement would help to move these aspirations forward.

Members will recall that, in 2007, the Prime Minister joined His Majesty King Abdullah II in a commitment to take our commercial relationship to the next level. The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement, along with related agreements on labour co-operation and the environment signed in 2009, are a direct result of this commitment. This free trade agreement would benefit both Canada and Jordan by giving Canadian and Jordanian exporters unprecedented access to our respective markets, eliminating tariffs on a number of key products.

Jordan's current average applied tariff is 10%, with peaks of up to 30% applied on some products of Canadian export interests. In fact, 67% of Jordanian tariff lines, covering over 99% of Canadian exports, will be eliminated when the agreement is first implemented. Jordan's remaining tariff reductions will then take place over three to five years.

Of course, a free trade agreement is not a one-way street, nor should it be. Jordan also stands to gain from this free trade agreement. Our government will eliminate all Canadians tariffs on Jordanian goods immediately upon entry into force of the agreement, with the exception of over-quota supply managed dairy, poultry and egg products which are excluded from the tariff reduction.

Canada's trade with Jordan is very diverse. Our top five merchandise exports to Jordan are pulses, mainly lentils and chick peas; wood; vehicles; paper and paperboard; and machinery. Our bilateral merchandise exports more than doubled between 2003 and 2011. This free trade agreement would further enhance the Canada-Jordan trade relationship.

Members will remember that our free trade agreement was just one of the agreements we signed with Jordan in 2009. We also signed a bilateral foreign investment protection and promotion agreement, or FIPA, which came into force on December 14, 2009. This agreement establishes clear rules for investment between our two countries. Canadian investors are particularly excited about opportunities in Jordan's resource extraction, energy, telecommunications, transportation, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors. The FIPA provides Canadian and Jordanian investors with the predictability and certainty they need when investing in one another's markets.

I am sure all hon. members would all agree that this free trade agreement and the 2009 FIPA with Jordan are no doubt complementary.

In addition to the free trade agreement and the FIPA, our government also signed parallel agreements on labour co-operation and the environment. The labour co-operation agreement signed with Jordan includes commitments to ensuring that each other's laws respect the International Labour Organization's 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and that they protect labour rights and provide a mechanism to address labour complaints.

Canada and Jordan have also negotiated an agreement on the environment that commits the parties to maintain high levels of environmental protection, to effectively enforce domestic environmental laws and to not relax or derogate from such laws to attract trade or investment.

Canada believes that trade liberalization and environmental protection can and must be mutually supportive.

We are living in very challenging economic times and our government has made the economy its number one priority. In order to ensure that our economy continues to grow and continues to compete in the global marketplace, trade barriers are being broken down all across the world through new free trade agreements.

Protectionism is never the answer.

Demonstrating Canada's commitment through new agreements, such as the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement, is key to encouraging other countries, including developing nations, to reject protectionism and embrace free and open trade.

Our government recognizes that trade and investment are cornerstones of our economic success as a nation. Sixty per cent of our GDP and one in five jobs depend upon trade. While our economy has out-performed much of the world in recent years, we cannot take our success for granted. Hard-working Canadians are counting on us to continue expanding markets and opening doors for our businesses to succeed around the world.

That is what our pro-trade plan is all about. It is the most ambitious plan of its kind in Canada's history. The potential benefits are enormous. This is why I ask all hon. members to support Bill C-23, the Canada-Jordan economic growth and prosperity act.

I said earlier in my speech that we should not take Canada's prosperity for granted and we should not. The prosperity that we have today is based on a number of tenets. It is based on a secure and solid financial footing. It is based on free trade agreements and jobs and opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers through those agreements.

Before I sit down I would be remiss not to ask our opposition critics and the opposition parties to support this agreement, then to move forward and support Panama and support the agreement with the European Union because that is the only way that we will maintain our place in the world and maintain markets for our Canadian businesses and jobs for our Canadian workers.

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with much of my hon. colleague's speech.

I would like to ask the member for his opinion on a particular issue. A common issue that arises in trade agreements is the effect trade agreements have or do not have on raising or lowering the human rights, labour or environmental standards in a particular jurisdiction. The government has steadfastly asserted that by signing trade agreements it has the effect of engaging with those countries and, therefore, raising those standards in those countries.

In committee, the New Democrats put forth some amendments to the legislation that would require the legislation to have yearly benchmarks to chart the progress in the human rights, labour standards and environmental standards areas so we would know what effect the trade deals had and we could put the proof of the matter to the government's test. However, government members rejected those amendments.

If my hon. colleague believes that these agreements do raise those standards, why would the government be afraid of putting in benchmark measurements so we could see if that contention was accurate?

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, the question from the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway gives me an opportunity to correct a point I made earlier today in question period when I answered a question from the hon. member. I did not welcome him to the trade file. It is great to have him on board. He contributes at committee and I am expecting a positive influence from that.

The question was on engagement in labour and environmental side agreements. There is a side agreement on labour that is recognized by the International Labour Organization and it has to meet certain parameters under the International Labour Organization. The agreement on environment has a special stipulation that says that neither Jordan nor Canada can make any laws that actually derogate from the environmental rules and regulations that we have in place now in order to have a competitive advantage. The reason we have a side agreement on those two issues is because we recognize that they are important and that we need to move forward on both of those files. However, they are not necessarily trade related. They are part of an addendum to the trade agreement, not part of the official text.

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am going to change my question because the parliamentary secretary did not answer the question by the member for Vancouver Kingsway and it was a good question.

We know the side agreements on environment and labour are there but we also know they are not enforceable. If we are going to be able to monitor what happens on these side agreements to FTAs, then we need measurable results. We heard testimony at committee that raised some fairly startling points on labour conditions, especially for migrant workers in Jordan. The only way we will be able to tell for future trade agreements whether the labour and environment side agreements are working is if we have transparent accounting.

I think the member for Vancouver Kingsway was basically asking why the government is so reluctant to accept the motion put forward that would give us the ability as a committee to actually have the reports, see the reports and be able to make a judgment call on those as a result.

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, what both hon. members fail to realize is the entire issue of extraterritoriality. There are certain things we can do when negotiating with another country and certain things we cannot do because they are beyond our sphere of influence.

However, the labour side agreement is recognized by the International Labour Organization. It covers the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, the elimination of compulsory labour and the elimination of discrimination. We have also committed to providing acceptable protections for occupational safety and health; acceptable minimum employment standards, such as minimum wages; overtime pay; compensation for occupational injuries and illnesses; and providing migrant workers, which was part of his question, with the same legal protections as nationals in regard to working conditions.

We know that side agreements on labour are important but there is a limit under the rule of law to what we can actually impose on a foreign nation. What we are asking here is that we move forward together and embrace improved standards of labour co-operation in Jordan.

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I also sit on the international trade committee and I know our government has an ambitious and aggressive agenda to pursue free trade agreements. We have finalized quite a few agreements within the last few years and we are potentially negotiating a lot more.

However, what I have noticed in our committee is that the opposition either opposes or drags out all the free trade agreements.

Could the parliamentary secretary tell the House why it is so important for our government to implement this Canada–Jordan free trade agreement as soon as possible?

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, the importance of implementation as soon as possible is quite simple. It is absolutely the basics of economics. We are trading with Jordan today, as I speak here in the House. There are already agreements and deals being written and trade going back and forth from Jordan to Canada and from Canada to Jordan. We are participating in that trading relationship at a disadvantage.

As I said earlier in my speech, with average tariffs of 10% with peaks of 30%, how are our companies, our businesses and our workers supposed to compete, when we are dealing with a country that has a prohibitive 10% to 30% tariff on Canadian products? It is very simple. Let us compete on an equal footing and we will compete with any country, anywhere in the world.

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am going back to my question, because I have to advise my hon. colleague in the Liberal Party that it has not really been answered.

The amendment that was put at committee was to amend the legislation in this House so that Canada would monitor the human rights, labour standards and environmental progress in Jordan and report back to this House every year. We would have measurable benchmarks to chart our own thesis that signing trade agreements does have that effect, and it may. I am prepared to acknowledge that maybe an agreement does have that effect.

It has got nothing to do with extraterritoriality. It has got nothing to do with international law. It has got to do with presenting information back to the House of Commons so that parliamentarians can actually chart and measure whether or not a particular argument put forth by the government is actually correct.

I ask my hon. colleague one more time, why would the government not build in annual benchmarks so that we could see if his own argument is accurate or not?

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the second attempt at the same question that members opposite could not get through committee because of the weakness of the same argument.

The reality is that the International Labour Organization will monitor the situation in Jordan. The International Labour Organization is the venue, not the Canadian government, to go to if there is any suspected abuse of the labour agreement. It is not the place of the Government of Canada to be the police officer or the judge and the jury on everything that goes on in Jordan.

We are opening up a mutually beneficial trade agreement. For any labour or environmental practices in which we expect to see change, we will use our influence with the Jordanian government and Jordanian businesses and the influence of Canadian businesses to change those.

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on behalf of the official opposition New Democrats about Bill C-23, an act to implement the free trade agreement between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The bill affords me my first opportunity to speak in this House, not only on this bill in specific terms, but also on what I think are the principles that should guide Canada's trade policy in general. I would like to start by speaking about some of those principles.

New Democrats are a pro-trade party. We understand deeply that Canada is a trading nation, and always has been. Our economic system depends, in substantial measure, upon selling goods, commodities and services to the world. We are in the enviable position of having a wealth of resources that the world wants to buy. In exchange, Canada also benefits from the importation of many products and services from around the world. These items supplement Canada's natural bounty and provide a richness and diversity that enhance the quality of living for all Canadians.

However, we approach pro-trade policy somewhat differently from what the Conservatives and, indeed, the Liberals have traditionally done. In our view, trade policy should respect and incorporate thoughtful and established values, trade agreements must meet concrete objectives, Here are some of the core principles that New Democrats believe should guide Canadian trade policy.

Trade deals must result in increased trade that benefits Canada's export sectors. Disturbingly, data is showing that in a number of cases, Canadian trade deals have resulted in imports exceeding exports, which adds to our trade deficit, costs us jobs and impairs our economic growth.

Trade deals must be reciprocal. Good trade deals allow fair access by Canadian enterprises to international markets that seek access to our own. Trade deals must create good jobs in Canada. It is vitally important that Canada encourage value-added production and enhance the value of our exports. Shipping raw products out of Canada is short-sighted and shortchanges Canadians. Good deals must raise the economic and social conditions in each jurisdiction. Respect for human rights and a concerted focus to raise the living and employment conditions for the people of the trading nations must be major priorities.

Trade deals must respect and improve environmental standards. In an interdependent world, that is increasingly aware of our need to sustain development, ensuring that commerce is done sustainably is critical. Finally, trade deals must not damage our democracy by diminishing the ability of governments at all levels to make decisions in the best interests of our citizens. All these issues must be factored in and create a balanced approach to trade.

As I have said, Canada is a trading nation and engaging in trade is demonstrably economically beneficial to Canada. It always has been.

However, that does not mean that we have to give up our sovereignty or our ability to set good policy to do so. This leads me to another policy area that is inextricably linked to trade, that is industrial policy. Trade is not only about with whom we trade and on what terms. It is also about what we produce in our country to trade. Industrial policy is fundamentally linked to trade because our industrial policy is about what we make and how we make the things that we are trading.

The guiding principle for New Democrats is that government must help create the conditions to create and develop good, well-paying, sustainable jobs here in Canada for our citizens and future generations of Canadians. As a cornerstone, a strong industrial policy would help Canadian enterprises make value-added products here in Canada. We must make the successful transition from being hewers of wood and drawers of water to an economy that is based upon secondary and tertiary production.

The resource extraction sector in Canada is incredibly important to our economy. However, wherever possible, we should be developing our resources before shipping them off to another country for them to add value. Shipping raw logs to the U.S. or China only to see those economies derive the benefits of exponentially adding value is not only unwise, it costs our citizens jobs. Shipping raw bitumen offshore instead of processing it in Canada costs our businesses profits and our economy billions of dollars.

New Democrats want to encourage a manufacturing sector that makes products here in Canada, high-quality goods made by Canadians making good wages in safe conditions under the most effective environmental protection. In fact, governments all over the world, from the EU countries to China to Taiwan, from Japan to South Korea to Brazil, are partnering with their private sectors to develop domestic industrial policies that position their enterprises to be successful on the world stage while developing their local economies.

Canada must do the same. Government assistance in market development, R and D support, incentives for sustainable technologies and support for strong education systems are vital parts of a successful trade policy.

Let me now turn to the trade agreement at hand, 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 co-operation between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Canada and Jordan signed a trade agreement in June 2009. It consists of three separate but linked agreements: the actual free trade agreement and parallel agreements on labour and the environment. The free trade component is relatively straightforward. It eliminates or reduces tariffs on a wide variety of goods and services.

Currently, Jordanian tariffs are quite low. While some are as high as 30%, the average tariff rate is 10%. Most tariff rates are in single digits. Jordan would eliminate all non-agricultural tariffs, which currently average 11%. These include tariffs of 10% to 30% on many products of Canadian export interest, including industrial and electrical machinery, auto parts, construction equipment and forest products. Canada would eliminate all non-agricultural tariffs in turn and most agricultural tariffs on Jordan's imports to Canada immediately. Over-quota tariffs on supply managed goods, dairy, poultry, eggs, et cetera are exempt from this deal. Non-tariff barriers would be dealt with through the creation of a committee on trade in goods and rules of origin as a forum for discussion.

Turning to the labour co-operation agreement, the labour rights provisions in the Canada-Jordan deal include both the summary in the main trade agreement of obligations on labour issues and a separate agreement on labour co-operation where the labour obligations are elaborated in greater detail. The agreement references rights contained in the 1998 ILO declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work and the ILO's decent work agenda, which are very substantive. The following commitments are made:

Each Party shall ensure that its labour law and practices embody and provide protection for the following internationally recognized labour principles and rights: (a) freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining (including protection of the right to organize and the right to strike); (b) the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; (c) the effective abolition of child labour; (d) the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation (including equal pay for women and men); (e) acceptable minimum employment standards, such as minimum wages and overtime pay; (f) the prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses; (g) compensation in cases of occupational injuries or illnesses; and (h) non-discrimination in respect of working conditions for migrant workers.

In principle, a complaint regarding labour violations could lead to a ministerial consultation, a review panel for determination of non-compliance and ultimately, to the imposition of fines being paid by the offending government.

The agreement on the environment obligates both sides to comply with and enforce effectively their domestic environmental laws, not to weaken these laws in an effort to attract investment, ensure proceedings are available to remedy violations of environmental laws, co-operate on compliance in environmental technologies, and allow members of the public to question obligations under the agreement. An independent review panel process is also present.

After careful consideration of the agreement, I am pleased to announce that Canada's New Democrats will support the passage of Bill C-23. The Canada-Jordan deal is not perfect. It is not a deal in a form that a New Democrat government would necessarily have negotiated. However, after careful consideration of the deal before us, we have determined that it is worthy of support because we think it is good both for the Canadian and the Jordanian people and because it avoids the major problems that characterize other trade deals that the Canadian government has signed.

Here are some of the major reasons the New Democrats will support the bill. While Jordan is a minor trade partner, the agreement would provide net economic gains for Canada, including in value-added industries, and for Jordan. There is no real evidence of domestic harm to the Canadian economy caused by this trading relationship or agreement. In fact, trade relations and volumes have been increasing among both countries in positive fashion. The New Democrats believe this agreement would bolster business and jobs in both nations. Jordan is a moderate Arab state with a constructive foreign policy that has made, and is making, important progress in the areas of democracy, human rights and labour standards.

This agreement addresses labour standards squarely, and in particular the rights of migrant workers, which were not included in the trade deal the United States made with Jordan 10 years ago. These include elevated standards of work hours, wage protection and stronger penalties against human trafficking. They also include extending domestic employment standards to migrant workers and affording them the ability to join unions if they so wish.

Jordan has demonstrated its commitment to raising the living conditions of its workers, including raising the minimum wage twice in the last several years. Anti-discrimination commitments and provisions to raise conditions among Jordanian migrant workers will particularly help women, who make up two-thirds of the migrant work force.

At committee, the ILO testified that there is encouraging progress on labour issues in Jordan.

New Democrats supported this legislation at second reading, and at that time we stated in the House that we would consider further support if the labour situation continued to improve in Jordan. In important ways, it has.

The environmental agreement, while far from perfect, contains a benchmark commitment to enforce environmental standards. In addition, this free trade agreement contains no investor-state provision, which we generally oppose. There are no invasive chapters on public procurement or intellectual property in this deal, which are serious criticisms of other trade deals including in CETA presently being negotiated.

With no agreement, trade with Jordan will still occur given the low tariffs. It is therefore arguably better to sign an agreement that engages Jordan in a positive, constructive manner with significant commitments than to have none at all. Sometimes it is better to have good progress, if not perfect progress.

As the dominant economy in this relationship, Canada is in a strong position to ensure enforcement of and compliance with labour and environmental commitments. New Democrats will hold the government to account to make sure it does this. When we form the government, we will actively engage with all of our trading partners to ensure compliance with our agreements.

Unlike Colombia, Jordan is not a major human rights violator. Unlike Panama, Jordan is not an international money laundering jurisdiction or tax haven.

I want to read a quote from Ms. Nancy Donaldson, director of the Washington office of the International Labour Organization, who testified at committee. She said:

The government has placed employment and decent work for Jordanians at the heart of its response strategy....They endorsed the national employment strategy in May 2011...formally signed a decent work country program, or a national framework strategy, for 2012 to 2015.

The goal is to support national initiatives to reduce decent work deficits and strengthen national capacity to mainstream decent work.

...We're excited about Jordan because very recently the government has decided they are going to require all manufacturers to participate in the Better Work Jordan program. That means, frankly, bad actors can't opt out and have good actors carry the responsibility.

It's a good policy approach. There are monitoring processes, which are then reported back to the manufacturers, with remedial recommendations where there is non-compliance. Then, after a period of time, they are published for the public to know and for the brands to know.

We've been in Jordan long enough now that we are seeing some progress in a number of areas where there has been difficulty in non-compliance.

Mr. Pierre Bouchard, director of bilateral and regional labour affairs in the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development, said:

To elaborate on those options and what the legal obligations are, it's important to underline that our agreement with Jordan is the first agreement where Jordan makes specific commitments concerning the labour rights of migrant workers.

These are encouraging signs. This shows a willingness and a good faith attitude on the part of our trading partner, which gives us hope that this deal will encourage continued progress in Jordan.

While the development of respect for the rights of labour and migrant workers in Jordan is encouraging, there is more work to be done. At committee, there was also alarming testimony about continuing mistreatment of workers in Jordan, particularly in the qualified industrial zones where migrant labour is used. Concerns have been raised about the ability to effectively enforce the standards called for in the labour side deal.

This agreement also has no real sanctions or penalties for non-compliance with the environmental side agreement.

While there is no investor-state provision in the free trade agreement, Canada did sign a foreign investment protection agreement with Jordan in advance of this deal, which contains the very problematic tribunal complaint mechanism that subjects governments to attack by multinational corporations, as we just saw in the Mobil decision that will cost the Newfoundland and Labrador government and the Canadian government millions of dollars for simply requiring that certain research work be done in Canada. This shows how important protecting sovereign democratic rights in trade agreements is and why New Democrats believe so strongly in doing so.

This leads to an important point. Signing an agreement is not an end in itself, and it is not the end of the process either. As with any good contract and ongoing relationship, care must be taken to monitor and enforce the reciprocal commitments if the deal is truly to have integrity and meet its stated objectives. I sincerely hope that the present government will take this care.

However, we must recognize when we see an agreement that does not have many of the provisions to which we object. We see that here. We must recognize when we are working with a partner who, while by no means perfect, as we are not, is improving with regard to human rights and labour rights. We see that in Jordan. We must recognize when we see a deal that will bring mutual economic benefit to Canada, our trading partner and our business sector. While Jordan is a small trading partner, our trade relationship is growing and we see that this agreement would bring mutual benefit. That is why I am happy to stand with my New Democrat colleagues and support this bill.

This is the beginning of a new chapter in our trade relationship with Jordan. Our countries already trade with each other every day, but this is the start of a new engagement which we, along with the government, business and other stakeholders, including, most importantly, the labour movement and civil society, believe has the capacity to bring increased economic activity, improved labour standards and a lasting commitment to environmental protection to both countries.

If these results do not occur, we can withdraw from this agreement. This agreement provides that either party can give six months' notice at any time and withdraw. This is something that is not mentioned enough. We cannot just sign a deal and assume that the market will take care of everything or that others will monitor the agreement for us. We cannot assume that the promised benefits of trade agreements will happen organically and magically without monitoring or working hard. If, as the time goes on, we determine that the benefits are not happening, we should not hesitate to use the termination clause that is present in all trade agreements to get out of this deal, if required. Promises must not just be made; they must be kept.

In conclusion, I want to say how exciting it is for me to have been named the official opposition critic for international trade at this time. Now more than ever, Canada's New Democrats are poised to form the government, but New Democrats know that this does not just happen and that the trust of the electorate is not something to be taken for granted. It must be earned.

With regard to trade, I am excited to show Canadians that a New Democrat government would put trade at the top of its agenda. I am excited to work with business, labour, all levels of government and civil society to build a new template for the trade deals we would sign, because New Democrats know we can sign deals that do not hurt our democracy by imposing restrictions on provinces and municipalities to make policy. We need not sell our sovereignty or impair our democracy by insisting on investor-state dispute resolution mechanisms that tip the balance of power away from people to multinational corporations.

We know we can unite trade policy with sound environmental protection and labour and human rights standards. We know we can have better enforcement mechanisms to ensure these are not empty promises. We know we can sign trade deals that provide a mutual benefit to Canada and our trading partners. New Democrats will write better trade agreements than the current government and the Liberals before them.

Today our world faces many large questions. Can we have a global economy that has global, social and environmental policies and open democratic governance by the economic decision-makers? Can we ensure that the benefits of increased trade produce shared gains that elevate the living standards of all the people of our world? Can we commit to a more just economic policy that sees trade as a tool to make a better world for every nation? New Democrats say yes, we can. We will continue to show Canadians that a New Democrat government would advocate positive proposals precisely to these ends.

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:45 p.m.
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South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech and endorsement of the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement. I do not know if it was an epiphany on the road to Damascus that occurred, but I have been in the House for 15 years and two things have occurred today that should be noted. Number one, an NDP member of Parliament stood up and endorsed trade and said that Canada is a trading nation, and number two, he said that New Democrats are going to support a free trade agreement. I thank him for that. That took a leap of faith and some courage, because I suspect he will have a little more difficulty with his colleagues than his own epiphany.

However, I have a question and it is simple. These free trade agreements are written on a very similar template, with labour and the environment attached to them. The free trade agreement with Jordan really is not much different than the free trade agreement with Panama. Panama is off the OECD grey list. It is no longer looked at as a major offender in the money laundering business. If New Democrats are going to support this agreement, why not support the rest?

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:45 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a fair question. I have not had a chance to review the Panama agreement, but I can say that we can distinguish our support for this deal from others, including Panama and Colombia, with some reasons at this point.

For example, Jordan has better labour standards. It has demonstrably improving labour conditions. It has comparably better human rights records. Jordan is not a tax haven or a drug laundering centre. It does not prosecute, persecute or murder trade unionists en masse. It is not pursuing serious environmental destruction policies. Jordan is not forcing citizens to relocate due to large scale industrial projects and, as I said, the deal has no investor-state provision in the text, and it protects Canadian intellectual property and public procurement processes.

I think my hon. colleague has heard the standards and principles that New Democrats will apply, and we will apply those standards consistently to every agreement. Where a country has fulfilled those standards, we will consider supporting it; where it does not, we will not.

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the member. It is a bit of a revelation in the sense that only last week another one of his colleagues, just a few seats over, stated that the NDP would never support a free trade agreement. The only free trade agreement it would support is one that was drafted by the NDP.

Having said that, we welcome the flip-flop of the NDP on the trade file. Most Canadians would appreciate the fact that we do need to look at freer trade agreements among other countries throughout the world.

For years Canadians have benefited immensely by freer trade agreement and other mechanisms that are put into place. Canadians as a whole have concerns with regard to labour standards and environmental concerns, as the Liberal Party has had for generations in recognizing the value of these sorts of trades.

The question I have for the member is not that far off what the government member has posed. We have the Panama free trade agreement, but has the NDP developed a list of countries with which it is prepared to say that the government should be looking at developing free trade agreements? Is that something the NDP members are looking at? Are they now at a stage where they will review previous agreements as to the countries with which they support having freer trade?

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the only long list I have is a list of the Liberal flip-flops that goes back decades in this country.

I believe it was the Liberal Party that opposed the free trade agreement with the United States. I believe it was Liberal Party members who said they would withdraw from NAFTA if they formed government. I believe it was the Liberal Party that said it would bring in a national child care program. I believe it was the Liberal government that said it would bring in a national housing program. I believe it was the Liberal government that said it supported and then opposed corporate tax cuts.

Really, to hear a member of the Liberal Party stand up in this House and talk about flip-flopping is truly a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 4th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague for his presentation and analysis on an important issue and for his appointment to the international trade responsibility, because it is a very serious responsibility.

As he has said so well, and as others on this side have said in this House, we are a trading nation, but we need to ensure that as we engage in negotiations with other nations around the world, we do so not with a cookie cutter approach, as the government would do, regardless of which country it is, regardless of the history of relations and regardless of the circumstances. We need to ensure we recognize the values that exist between the countries with which we are doing business and with which we would engage, in order to make sure it is a positive relationship for the people, the workers and the businesses of our country and of the country with which we are partnering.

I would like to ask the member if he would speak to how important the whole question of values is, in terms of our approach to dealing with international trade.