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
Ed Fast Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
November 2nd, 2012 / 12:35 p.m.
Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC
Mr. Speaker, I rise with some concern for my friend, who seems to have cribbed much of his notes from the Conservative Party's talking points regarding the NDP and trade. The fact is that under previous Liberal regimes, 13,000 consecutive foreign takeovers were approved without one single rejection. Not once in all of those years and all of those takeovers did the Liberal Party think that standing up on Canadian sovereignty issues and the rest was important.
To clarify the record, because I know my friend is very keen on records, I would point out that when the motion was presented by the members for Calgary Northeast and Wild Rose with respect to some trade negotiations and trade legislation, particularly around Bill C-23, the act with Jordan, that act was passed by this place.
The House resumed from June 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-23, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, be read the third time and passed, and of the motion that this question be now put.
Extension of Sitting Hours
June 11th, 2012 / 3:25 p.m.
Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
That, pursuant to Standing Order 27, the ordinary hour of daily adjournment shall be 12 midnight, commencing on Monday, June 11, 2012, and concluding on Friday, June 22, 2012, but not including Friday, June 15, 2012.
Today I rise to make the case for the government's motion to extend the working hours of this House until midnight for the next two weeks. This is of course a motion made in the context of the Standing Orders, which expressly provide for such a motion to be made on this particular day once a year.
Over the past year, our government's top priority has remained creating jobs and economic growth.
Job creation and economic growth have remained important priorities for our government.
Under the government's economic action plan, Canada's deficits and taxes are going down; investments in education, skills training, and research and innovation are going up; and excessive red tape and regulations are being eliminated.
As the global economic recovery remains fragile, especially in Europe, Canadians want their government to focus on what matters most: jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. This is what our Conservative government has been doing.
On March 29, the Minister of Finance delivered economic action plan 2012, a comprehensive budget that coupled our low-tax policy with new actions to promote jobs and economic growth.
The 2012 budget proposed measures aimed at putting our finances in order, increasing innovation and creating suitable and applicable legislation in the area of resource development in order to promote a good, stable investment climate.
The budget was debated for four days and was adopted by the House on April 4. The Minister of Finance then introduced Bill C-38, Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, the 2012 budget implementation bill. The debate at second reading of Bill C-38 was the longest debate on a budget implementation bill in at least two decades, and probably the longest ever.
On May 14, after seven days of debate, Bill C-38 was passed at second reading.
The bill has also undergone extensive study in committee. The Standing Committee on Finance held in-depth hearings on the bill. The committee also created a special subcommittee for detailed examination of the bill's responsible resource development provisions. All told, this was the longest committee study of any budget implementation bill for at least the last two decades, and probably ever.
We need to pass Bill C-38 to implement the urgent provisions of economic action plan 2012. In addition to our economic measures, our government has brought forward and passed bills that keep the commitments we made to Canadians in the last election.
In a productive, hard-working and orderly way, we fulfilled long-standing commitments to give marketing freedom to western Canadian grain farmers, to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry, and to improve our democracy by moving every province closer to the principle of representation by population in the House of Commons.
However, in the past year our efforts to focus on the priorities of Canadians have been met with nothing but delay and obstruction tactics by the opposition. In some cases, opposition stalling and delaying tactics have meant that important bills are still not yet law. That is indeed regrettable.
In the case of Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act, a bill that will help to create good, high-paying jobs in Canada's creative and high-tech sectors, this House has debated the bill on 10 days. We heard 79 speeches on it before it was even sent to committee. This is, of course, on top of similar debate that occurred in previous Parliaments on similar bills.
It is important for us to get on with it and pass this bill for the sake of those sectors of our economy, to ensure that Canada remains competitive in a very dynamic, changing high-tech sector in the world, so that we can have Canadian jobs and Canadian leadership in that sector.
Bill C-24 is the bill to implement the Canada-Panama free trade agreement. It has also been the subject of numerous days of debate, in fact dozens and dozens of speeches in the House, and it has not even made it to committee yet.
Bill C-23 is the Canada-Jordan economic growth and prosperity act. It also implements another important job-creating free trade agreement.
All three of these bills have actually been before this place longer than for just the last year. As I indicated, they were originally introduced in previous Parliaments. Even then, they were supported by a majority of members of this House and were adopted and sent to committee. However, they are still not law.
We are here to work hard for Canadians. Adopting today's motion would give the House sufficient time to make progress on each of these bills prior to the summer recess. Adopting today's motion would also give us time to pass Bill C-25, the pooled registered pension plans act. It is a much-needed piece of legislation that would give Canadians in small businesses and self-employed workers yet another option to help support them in saving for their retirement. Our government is committed to giving Canadians as many options as possible to secure their retirement and to have that income security our seniors need. This is another example of how we can work to give them those options.
In addition to these bills that have been obstructed, opposed or delayed one way or another by the opposition, there are numerous bills that potentially have support from the opposition side but still have not yet come to a vote. By adding hours to each working day in the House over the next two weeks, we would allow time for these bills to come before members of Parliament for a vote. These include: Bill C-12, safeguarding Canadians' personal information act; and Bill C-15, strengthening military justice in the defence of Canada act. I might add, that bill is long overdue as our military justice system is in need of these proposed changes. It has been looking for them for some time. It is a fairly small and discrete bill and taking so long to pass this House is not a testament to our productivity and efficiency. I hope we will be able to proceed with that.
Bill C-27 is the first nations financial transparency act, another step forward in accountability. Bill C-28 is the financial literacy leader act. At a time when we are concerned about people's financial circumstances, not just countries' but individuals', this is a positive step forward to help people improve their financial literacy so all Canadians can face a more secure financial future. Bill C-36 is the protecting Canada's seniors act which aims to prevent elder abuse. Does it not make sense that we move forward on that to provide Canadian seniors the protection they need from those very heinous crimes and offences which have become increasingly common in news reports in recent years?
Bill C-37 is the increasing offenders' accountability for victims act. This is another major step forward for readjusting our justice system which has been seen by most Canadians as being for too long concerned only about the rights and privileges of the criminals who are appearing in it, with insufficient consideration for the needs of victims and the impact of those criminal acts on them. We want to see a rebalancing of the system and that is why Bill C-37 is so important.
Of course, we have bills that have already been through the Senate, and are waiting on us to deal with them. Bill S-2, which deals with matrimonial real property, which would give fairness and equality to women on reserve, long overdue in this country. Let us get on with it and give first nations women the real property rights they deserve. Then there is Bill S-6, first nations electoral reform, a provision we want to see in place to advance democracy. Bill S-8 is the safe drinking water for first nations act; and Bill S-7 is the combatting terrorism act.
As members can see, there is plenty more work for this House to do. As members of Parliament, the least we can do is put in a bit of overtime and get these important measures passed.
In conclusion, Canada's economic strength, our advantage in these uncertain times, and our stability also depend on political stability and strong leadership. Across the world, political gridlock and indecision have led to economic uncertainty and they continue to threaten the world economy. That is not what Canadians want for their government. Our government is taking action to manage the country's business in a productive, hard-working and orderly fashion. That is why all members need to work together in a time of global economic uncertainty to advance the important bills I have identified, before we adjourn for the summer.
I call on all members to support today's motion to extend the working hours of this House by a few hours for the next two weeks. For the members opposite, not only do I hope for their support in this motion, I also hope I can count on them to put the interests of Canadians first and work with this government to pass the important bills that remain before us.
June 7th, 2012 / 3:05 p.m.
Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I am not quite as enthusiastic as the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, but I will try.
This morning, my hon. friend, the member for Edmonton—Leduc and chair of the hard-working Standing Committee on Finance reported to this House that Bill C-38, the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, has passed the committee and been recommended for adoption by the House.
I am pleased that the Standing Committee on Finance followed the lead of the House with respect to the longest debate on a budget bill in the past two decades. The committee gave this bill the longest consideration for a budget bill in at least two decades. That is in addition to the subcommittee spending additional time to consider the responsible resource development clauses.
This very important legislation, our budget implementation legislation, economic action plan 2012, will help to secure vital economic growth for Canada in the short, medium and long term. Given the fragile world economy that is around us, this bill is clearly needed, so we must move forward. Therefore, I plan to start report stage on the bill Monday at noon.
In the interim, we will consider second reading of Bill C-24 this afternoon. This bill would implement our free trade agreement with Panama, which I signed when I was international trade minister, some 755 days ago. It is now time to get that bill passed.
Tomorrow, we will consider third reading of Bill C-31, the protecting Canada's immigration system act, so the Senate will have an opportunity to review the bill before it must become law, within a few weeks' time.
Next week I plan to give priority to bills which have been reported back from committee. It goes without saying that we will debate Bill C-38, our budget implementation bill. I am given to understand that there is a lot of interest this time around in the process of report stage motion tabling, selection and grouping.
The House will also finish third reading of Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act. The bill is a vital tool to unlock the potential of our creative and digital economy. It is time that elected parliamentarians should have their say on its passage once and for all. I would like to see that vote happen no later than Monday, June 18.
If we have time remaining, the House will also debate second reading of Bill C-24, the Panama free trade act, if more time is necessary, as well as for Bill C-7, the Senate reform act, and Bill C-15, the strengthening military justice in the defence of Canada act.
Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
June 4th, 2012 / 5:25 p.m.
Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in the House to speak about Bill C-23, which is the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement and related agreements on labour co-operation and the environment. Canada signed this agreement with Jordan on June 28, 2009. The government is taking action during these difficult economic times by reaching out to our trading partners and reducing barriers to trade.
Jordan is a key partner for Canada in the pursuit of peace and security in the Middle East and we welcome this opportunity to strengthen our ties with this regional leader. These agreements mark a positive step forward, further enhancing Canada-Jordan relations by stimulating increased trade and investment between our two countries. Upon implementation, the immediate elimination of tariffs on the vast majority of current Canadian exports to Jordan will benefit Canadian exporters, Canadian families and Canadian workers.
This free trade agreement provides Canadian companies with a competitive edge in a variety of sectors, including forest products, machinery, construction equipment and agricultural and agri-foods products such as pulse crops, frozen french fries, animal feed and various prepared foods.
The Canada-Jordan FTA will also improve the competitiveness of Canadian exporters in the Jordanian marketplace and their foreign competitors, particularly from the U.S. and Europe, which already have trade agreements with Jordan.
That this question be now put.
Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
June 4th, 2012 / 4:55 p.m.
Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at this stage of Bill C-23, which is the Canada-Jordan trade agreement.
A great deal has occurred since the trade agreement was initially agreed to in August 2008, four years ago. When the agreement was officially announced in June 2009, the Arab Spring had yet to occur. The instability that has overtaken the region in the past year has been nothing short of transformative. In this climate, the FTA with Jordan is about to unfold.
We are supportive of the bill in principle, as we have been supportive of previous trade agreements. However, we remind the government, which boasts about its trade agreement accomplishments, that this agreement with Jordan is now more than four years old and still has not really been completed. That point was raised by witnesses before the international trade committee.
It is easy to announce new so-called agreements, but it would be nice to finalize them. That seems to be a long time coming. There is a lot of talk by the government on all the trade agreements it has on the go, but we have yet to see much in terms of results. Closing deals is something that the government just cannot seem to achieve.
I would note that the CETA agreement is not near completion, although the minister said earlier in the year that it would be completed before spring. Now the minister is saying that it is going to be a considerably longer period of time.
On the trans-Pacific partnership that the government is talking about getting into, the problem is that the price of admission is the selling out of our supply management system. The members of the TPP know it and the government knows it.
I will give the government some credit, in that it has said it will not put it at issue on the table as the price of getting into negotiations. However, we are concerned about what we are hearing from TPP partners. We know of Canada's great interest in getting in and we know that one of the conditions raised by the United States and New Zealand is in fact at the price of our supply management system.
This morning I had the opportunity to tour, with a couple of members of the NDP and a member of the Conservative government, some supply management operations an hour outside of Ottawa. The success of those operations is phenomenal in terms of their ability to provide consumers with a high-quality product at reasonable prices.
Driving through that community, we see quite a number of supply management operations. hose numbers tell us of the health of that industry, not only in terms of the operations themselves but also in terms of the communities and their development. People in the community are bringing sons and daughters into the operations.
Supply management is a very successful program, and we need to ensure, no matter what the trade agreement, that our supply management system remains intact and successful in this country. I would suggest it is a model of rural development that we should be promoting to the rest of the world, rather than giving the multinational corporate sector the advantages it wants through the demise of supply management.
However, I believe it is just a matter of time before the government finds a way to transition our supply-managed system to a more open market system. In fact, we have seen the Prime Minister's statement when he signed the deal with the Conservative Party and the Alliance party. The Prime Minister himself said that he would like to see supply management basically be given some time to transfer to the open market system.
Those are the words of the Prime Minister before he was prime minister. We just simply, from this end, do not trust the government on maintaining its support for supply management when it comes down to the hard fight.
During the course of committee testimony, Jim Stanford of the Canadian Auto Workers presented the committee with facts that should be of concern to all Canadians concerned about economic growth and the real impact of trade agreements that the government is pursuing. The facts speak for themselves. We have, as a country, lost more ground than we gained through the free trade agreements that we have signed and we have actually performed better with countries that we do not have any such arrangements with. That is a concern.
According to Mr. Stanford:
I've reviewed our five longest-standing trade pacts: with the United States, Mexico, Israel, Chile and Costa Rica. Canada's exports to them grew more slowly than our exports to non-free-trade partners, while our imports surged much faster than with the rest of the world.
Mr. Stanford went on to say:
If the policy goal (sensibly) is to boost exports and strengthen the trade balance, then signing free-trade deals is exactly the wrong thing to do.
Mr. Stanford himself said that he supports trade arrangements. He respects the importance of trade. However, I think that statement spells out something that we do not have in this country that the Liberals believe we should have—that is, an industrial strategy, in terms of value added, that has to happen domestically and internally within the country to reap more of the benefits back to Canadians and the Canadian labour force from these trade agreements. I think that is what we are missing. That is something that I think the country has to work on.
Allow me to focus on the Canada-Jordan agreement itself.
We should keep in mind a cautionary note included in a recent report by the RAND Corporation, which stated:
Small states situated next to states in turmoil frequently suffer collateral economic damage. Jordan is a case in point.
There are a couple of areas of concern that were raised during the hearings by the international trade committee. Among the areas of concern are those related to child labour matters and to other labour-related issues which would best be resolved through an open and transparent agreement. I will get to a statement on that aspect in a moment
We have heard a bit about the labour conditions and working conditions in Jordan, and it is really a matter of concern. Jordan is a country with a workforce of 1.8 million, of which 313,000 are guest workers. That means they are migrant workers in the country. According to a September 2011 Human Rights Watch report:
Pressing financial needs have led hundreds of thousands of women to migrate as domestic workers to Jordan, where many face systemic and systematic abuse. This results from a recruitment system in which employers and recruitment agencies disempower workers through deceit, debt, and blocking information about rights and means of redress; and a work environment that isolates the worker and engenders dependency on employers and recruitment agencies under laws that penalize escape. Jordanian law contains provisions and omissions that facilitate mistreatment, while officials foster impunity by failing to hold employers and agencies to account when they violate labor protections or commit crimes, and belittling or ignoring a disturbing pattern of abuse.
What concerned me as I started to raise questions on this issue was the trade zones in Jordan where these plants for manufacturing garments are. They are not local companies or employers, nor do they employ local employees. These are migrant workers who are coming in. The plants are located in Jordan and there is some spinoff to the economy but we will find that the companies are owned elsewhere, the managers are often from other countries and the workers are migrant workers, just to put into context the way that these operations work.
The International Labour Organization, the ILO, in a July 2011 report on Jordan, outlined the following area of concern. It states:
Since 2006, continuous action has been taken to improve labour law compliance in particular in Qualified Industrial Zones (free trade zones) and the apparel sector as a response to the increasing number of labour infractions in relation to migrant work in this sector.
It goes on to state:
In Jordan, labour inspection campaigns are conducted in the apparel sector, as many labour law infringements take place in this sector, mostly concerning migrant workers.
Therefore, there is a lot of concern being expressed by the ILO as it relates to this issue.
We did hear testimony that was rather disturbing and it is on the committee record. I would like to mention some of that testimony because we were told by the Jordanian representatives that there was some improvement, and I will grant them that, but it has not improved to the extent that we would like to see. Therefore, I am putting this on the record to make it very clear to Jordan that the Government of Canada is watching, the NDP is watching and we are watching.
This testimony was given by a Mr. Jeff Vogt, legal advisor to the Department of Human and Trade Union Rights of the International Trade Union Confederation, the ITUC, which is a global confederation of some 160 million workers worldwide, including workers in Canada. He gave testimony on March 29 of this year. He stated from a report that he had done:
The workers have no rights whatsoever. It's a real sweatshop. Workers are housed in primitive dormitories. The Chinese workers and Bangladeshi workers have no voice. In the dormitories during wintertime, there is not sufficient heat or hot water. Their bathing facilities are a bucket of water; they use a cup and splash water on themselves. The workers are treated with no rights whatsoever.
He went on to say:
I would say in that Rich Pine factory, every single labour right under Jordanian law and under the U.S. free trade agreement is being blatantly violated in broad daylight.
Those are pretty serious allegations. What I find troubling is that those are the working conditions so that the wealthy in the industrialized countries of the world can buy cheaper clothes. There is something wrong with that situation. We would certainly demand that the Jordanian government apply the laws that it has in place so that those kinds of working conditions do not exist.
He went on further to say:
I want to talk finally and briefly about the Classic factory in Jordan. It's the largest factory in Jordan. There are 5,000 workers from Egypt, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and China.
They have $125 million of exports to the U.S., most of it Walmart and Hanes. The workers are working 14, 15 hours a day. Maybe they get two Fridays off a month. The workers are slapped, screamed at. When shipments have to go out, they'll work 18-and-a-half-hour shifts. But that's the least of it. What we have discovered is that at the Classic factory, Jordan's largest factory, there are scores and scores of young women guest workers who have been raped at the Classic factory.
He goes on and explains further.
The fact is that, even though Jordanian representatives have come before committee and talked about the laws, from what we are hearing in that testimony, they are not being forced aggressively enough. That should not be happening in the global community in terms of apparel manufacturing. Those are inhuman conditions for people to work in. It is clearly a violation of human rights, and unacceptable.
I would suggest that the Canadian government needs to be very strenuous in its observation of those labour rights and demanding that proper labour and human rights be applied to the workers following a signature to this free trade agreement.
The Canada–Jordan labour co-operation agreement would commit both countries to ensuring that their laws respect the International Labour Organization's declaration of fundamental principles and rights at work.
The ILO's 1998 declaration, which aims to ensure that social progress goes hand in hand with economic development covers the right to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
To further protect the rights of workers, Canada and Jordan have also committed to acceptable protection for occupational health and safety; acceptable minimum employment standards, such as minimum wage and hours of work; providing compensation in case of workplace injuries and illnesses; and providing migrant workers with the same legal protection as nationals in respect to working conditions. I think it is very important that that agreement is part of this FTA with Jordan.
The countries have also agreed, subject to the availability of resources, to develop a framework for co-operative activities that he will allow Jordan to better meet its obligations under the LCA.
I will come back to what I said earlier. A lot needs to be done to ensure that workers' rights, human rights and the conditions of work are being applied properly because, clearly, as Mr. Jeff Vogt said on March 29, the evidence is that that has not been happening to date.
The United States department of state, in its most recent country report on human rights 2010, outlined a number of concerns which, even though the statutes are in place, remain. I will not go through all those concerns that are outlined in that report. I have outlined a lot in terms of the rights' issues.
While the Conservatives have proclaimed the promotion of trade, it has been under their watch that the mismanagement of the file in terms of trading relationships has resulted in trade deficits for the first time in over 30 years.
With respect to the United States, we have seen the government surprised by increased United States protectionist actions. First, it was surprised by the initial buy American provisions in the 2008 United States stimulus package. Second, it was surprised in the fall of 2011 when buy American provisions returned in the Obama administration's recent jobs plan. Finally, it was surprised by the announcement of the United States Federal Maritime Commission that, at the instigation of United States senators, an investigation in United States-bound container traffic being diverted to Canadian ports and whether to impose fees or tariffs as a result of the diverted trade.
While we are looking at a lot of trade deals around the world, the government is falling down on the ones we already have in existence.
Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
June 4th, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.
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
June 4th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.
South Shore—St. Margaret's
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.
The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-23, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.
Business of the House
May 31st, 2012 / 3:05 p.m.
Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we will continue with the NDP's opposition day motion.
Tomorrow, we will finish report stage on Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act. Including second reading, this will be the eighth day of debate on the bill, in addition to many committee meetings. As the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism told the House on Tuesday, this bill must become law by June 29.
On Monday, we will resume the third reading debate on Bill C-25,, the pooled registered pension plans act. Following question period that day, we will mark Her Majesty the Queen's jubilee and pay tribute to her 60 years on the throne. After that special occasion, we will get back to the usual business of the day, debating legislation. Bill C-23, the Canada–Jordan economic growth and prosperity act, will be taken up at report stage and third reading.
Jumping ahead to next Thursday, we will resume debating Bill C-24, the Canada–Panama economic growth and prosperity act, at second reading. I would also call Bill C-25 that day if the debate does not finish on Monday.
Finally, June 5 and 6 shall be the seventh and eighth allotted days, both of which will see the House debate motions from the NDP.
I can confirm notice of a motion for unanimous consent regarding the private member's bill, Bill C-311. This is the bill to amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act that the NDP filibustered the other day. I understand the NDP has now agreed that was a mistake and it is willing to allow it to proceed to a vote at this time. Therefore, we anticipate we will be consenting to that motion to undo the damage that the NDP unwisely did when it filibustered the bill previously.