House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

(Return tabled)

Question No. 451
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

With respect to language training, for each fiscal year from 2005–2006 to 2008–2009: (a) how much did the government spend in each province and territory to help newcomers learn (i) French, (ii) English; (b) how much did the government give to third parties in each province and territory to help newcomers learn (i) French, (ii) English; and (c) what are the names of the third parties that received funding for this purpose?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 452
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON

With regard to Canadians diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS): (a) given that the Statistics Canada Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) showed a more than 60% increase in Canadians diagnosed with ME/CFS between 2001 and 2005, (i) what, if any, funding has been allocated to research this illness in the last four years, (ii) how does the government propose to encourage Canadian research into ME/CFS so that the level of research into this complex, multi-system illness is commensurate with its extent and impact, (iii) what is the government doing to develop strategies and programs to meet the needs of Canadians with ME/CFS; (b) how is the government ensuring that health professionals are aware of the following documents, (i) the Canadian Consensus Document for ME/CFS (ME/CFS: A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners) developed by an expert panel selected by Health Canada, so that this illness can be diagnosed consistently and accurately, (ii) the Canadian Consensus Document for Fibromyalgia (Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners), also developed by an expert panel, so that these illnesses can be appropriately and differentially diagnosed; (c) when will the government perform the following tasks in relation to the Consensus Document for ME/CFS posted on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website, (i) improve the location of the document on the website in order to facilitate location of this document, (ii) post the French version of this document; (d) why is the Fibromyalgia Consensus Document not posted as a guideline on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website; (e) what steps is the government taking to ensure that health professionals, patients, and the public have access to science-based, authoritative and timely information on ME/CFS; (f) how soon will the government post other information related to ME/CFS on government websites; (g) what is the government doing to ensure access to ME/CFS knowledgeable physicians and appropriate health care on a timely basis and how is the government working with the provinces, territories, professional organizations, educational institutions and other stakeholders to meet these needs; (h) how is the government working with stakeholders to deal with other needs of Canadians with ME/CFS shown by the 2005 CCHS including, (i) reducing the levels of unmet home care needs, (ii) reducing the levels of food insecurity, (iii) increasing the sense of community belonging experienced by Canadians with this condition; (i) how will the surveillance report on ME/CFS, prepared from analysis of data collected from the 2005 CCHS, be used to improve the situation for Canadians with ME/CFS; and (j) how will the government monitor the extent and impact of ME/CFS and these other conditions on an annual basis given that questions regarding ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities were dropped from the CCHS after 2005?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Madam Speaker, it is certainly an honour to rise in this chamber to speak to the second reading of Bill C-57, the free trade agreement between Canada and Jordan.

I need to preface my speech with some very frank comments. Unfortunately, free trade discussions and free trade agreements have very much been hijacked by the chamber, and I would ask all hon. members in this place to look at the merit of this agreement for what the agreement is. We continue to hear discussions about how there is no such thing as fair trade, how there is no fair trade agreement anywhere in the world, how there has never been one signed, and how they sound good on paper but they do not exist in reality.

We sign comprehensive trading agreements and we sign free trade agreements. I would ask all hon. members to also consider another point, that we are signing these agreements with countries that we are already trading with. This is not brand new. I have listened to a lot of discussion about our free trade agreement with Colombia, and the opposition members talk as if we are not trading with Colombia already, but the reality is that we are and that our industries are working at a competitive disadvantage against other nations in the world that have already signed free trade agreements with Colombia. Nations around the world like Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein have embraced free trade as a methodology for rules-based trading that helps Canadian workers and helps Canadian consumers.

This agreement with Jordan will directly benefit a number of sectors of the Canadian economy at precisely the time when Canadians need competitive access to global markets. In these challenging economic times, we need to do everything we can to help Canadians and Canadian businesses build links to the global economy. Protectionism is not the answer; partnerships are. From the very start of the global economic downturn, the Prime Minister has been very clear that opening doors to trade and investment is the right approach to create opportunities for Canadians in key global markets such as India, which the Prime Minister is visiting right now, and China, where the Prime Minister will travel in a few short weeks, and Jordan.

Over the years, Canada and Jordan have built a strong mutually beneficial relationship. It is a relationship grounded in common aspirations such as peace, stability and prosperity for our citizens. As the Minister of International Trade saw earlier this year, it is a relationship with deep commercial roots as well. Many Canadian companies already have a solid presence in the Jordanian marketplace. The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, for instance, is one of Jordan's top foreign investors. It is joined by companies like Research In Motion, Bombardier, SNC-Lavalin, Four Seasons Hotels, Second Cup coffee shops and many others which are also active in Jordan.

Our two-way trade is very diverse, covering everything from forestry to agriculture, from food to machinery, as well as communications, technologies and apparel. Canada's expertise in nuclear power is another sector of great interest to Jordan, especially as it embarks on a nuclear energy program to meet its energy needs in the years ahead. Canada's nuclear industry has a lot to offer the government and the private sector in Jordan, especially following the signing of our bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement earlier this year. It is yet another example of how sophisticated our relationship is becoming on several fronts.

In 2008, our two-way merchandise trade reached over $90 million. Canada is the supplier to Jordan of a range of goods including paper, copper, vegetables, machinery and wood. In fact Canadian exporters enjoyed a 21% rise in exports over the previous year, making Jordan a growing market in the Middle East for Canada.

At a time of global recession, when export markets are dropping and decreasing around the world, we have seen an increase in our market with Jordan. This growing trade relationship is one reason our businesses are supportive of closer ties with the Jordanian marketplace.

Our leaders see potential as well. In 2007, the Prime Minister joined His Majesty King Abdullah II in a commitment to take our commercial relationship to the next level. Formal FTA negotiations launched in February of 2008 were concluded after three rounds. In June of this year, Canada and Jordan signed not only a free trade agreement but also agreements on labour cooperation and the environment, and a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement.

These are all important components in our evolving commercial relationship, but the free trade agreement is the centrepiece, the one that will benefit Canadians and Jordanians alike. It will give Canadian and Jordanian exporters unprecedented access to our respective markets, eliminating tariffs on a number of key products. World-leading Canadian sectors such as forestry, manufacturing and agriculture and agri-food will benefit.

Our beef producers too stand to benefit from the agreement. Not only did Jordan fully reopen its market to Canadian beef and cattle in February, but through this FTA, Canadian beef producers will enjoy competitive advantages in a market that the Canada Beef Export Federation estimates to be worth approximately $1 million per Canadian exporter.

In addition to providing these great benefits, this agreement also sharpens our competitive edge. After all, Jordan has free trade agreements with some of our key competitors such as the United States and the European Union. This FTA will help ensure a level playing field for Canadians in the Jordanian market. In fact 67% of Jordan's tariff lines, covering over 99% of Canadian exports, will be eliminated when the agreement is first implemented, and the remaining tariff reductions will take place within three to five years.

An FTA with Jordan also demonstrates Canada's support for an Arab state that supports peace and security in the Middle East, but as I have said before, the FTA was just one agreement we signed with Jordan this year. We also signed parallel labour cooperation and environmental agreements that will help ensure progress on labour rights and environmental protection. Our government firmly believes that increased commerce can play a positive role in society, and these agreements prove our commitment.

We also signed a bilateral foreign investment protection and promotion agreement, or FIPA, that establishes clear rules for investment between our countries. It provides Canadian and Jordanian investors alike with the predictability and certainty they need when investing in each other's markets.

Canadian investors are particularly excited about opportunities in Jordan's resource extraction, nuclear energy, telecommunications, transportation and infrastructure sectors, and Jordan has been very receptive to Canada's many investment advantages, such as our sound, stable economy; our globally recognized banking system; our competitive business taxes; our ongoing investments in infrastructure, science and education; our unmatched position in the North American market; and the skills, ingenuity and innovation of the Canadian people.

This agreement will help us promote investment between our nations and create new opportunities for our citizens. Canada believes that our ability to weather the current economic storm depends in great part on the global partnerships we pursue. That is why this Conservative government is moving so aggressively on trade negotiations with our global partners.

On July 1, we celebrated the official entry into force of Canada's first free trade agreement since 2002, with the European Free Trade Association's states of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. On August 1, we were celebrating again with the entry into force of the Canada-Peru FTA.

The Prime Minister was in Panama City on August 11, along with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, to mark the conclusion of the Canada-Panama free trade negotiations, and of course, the legislation to implement the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement is currently before Parliament.

There is much more to come.

On October 23, Canada and the European Union concluded a successful first round of negotiations towards a comprehensive economic and trade agreement. The Canadian and EU chief negotiators commended the efforts made by both sides to identify common ground and their readiness to reconcile differences.

Free trade talks are also under way with other countries in the Americas, including the Caribbean community.

We have also announced exploratory talks with India, Morocco and Ukraine, three more exciting opportunities to link Canadians to opportunities in these important markets.

The agreements we have signed with Jordan are an important part of these efforts. They speak directly to our government's ongoing commitment to open more doors and create more jobs for Canadians in these tough economic times.

I would ask that all hon. members fully support these efforts and, specifically, the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement and related agreements that I have outlined today.

Just to wrap up, I would ask very clearly and openly for the support of the opposition parties. This is a minority Parliament. There is no way the government alone can pass these bills through the House. These are good bills. They offer tremendous opportunity, not just for Canadian companies, but for Canadian workers and in turn for Canadian consumers. So I would certainly call upon all of the opposition parties, especially the official opposition which has been a free trader in the past, to look at the opportunities here, to assess them and to support them.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, Canada has a small, open economy. We depend on external trade for our prosperity and for our jobs.

That is why it is ominous that under the current Conservative government we have the first trade deficit that we have had in 30 years. To put that in plainer terms, we are buying more as a country than we are selling. That is a very bad sign for Canadians, because we do not have the robust domestic market that, for instance, the Americans have.

This has been caused by the failure of the Conservatives to defend our interests with our largest trading partner, the United States, and the failure of the Conservatives to diversify Canada's trade relations, particularly their failure to engage India and to engage China. The Prime Minister went to India this week, finally, after four years of neglecting India. In December the Prime Minister is planning to go to China, after four years of showing contempt for China. It is not good enough to show contempt for the world's fastest growing economy at a time when Canadians need jobs and opportunities, and then after four years of contempt, go on a mea culpa tour.

Specific to the Canada-Jordan FTA, we believe that there are tremendous opportunities for Canada and Jordan in this agreement. In fact, the member for Toronto Centre, as premier of Ontario, initiated discussions with Jordan on deepening trade relations between Canada's largest province and Jordan many years ago.

We need to focus on deepening our relationship with Jordan. At the same time, it is important to recognize that Jordan is a country of five million people. It is the 85th most important destination for Canadian exports. Its economy is ranked 95th in the world by GDP.

Contrast that with China. China is expected to grow by 8.7% in 2010 and about 8.4% in 2011. India is expected to grow by 6.5% in 2010 and 7.8% in 2011. At the same time, Jordan is expected to grow by 3% next year and 3.7% in 2011.

It is a good idea to diversify our trade relations, particularly when we face such protectionism in the U.S., our biggest market, particularly during a time when the U.S. economy has been hit the hardest.

At the same time, we cannot understand why the Conservative government has taken such an ideological position relative to China. It is almost as if the Prime Minister has been fighting the cold war that ended a long time ago with China at a time when other countries are engaging China to build relations and to deepen trade opportunities.

This year Canadian exports to the U.S. have plummeted by 30%. We have seen rising protectionism from the Americans. We have seen a protectionist sentiment at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Whether it is the western hemisphere travel initiative, the new passport requirement that came into effect in June that has reduced cross-border same-day travel by 29%, which has had a devastating impact on border cities and communities, or the country of origin labelling that is hurting Canada's livestock industry, and more recently and perhaps most important, the buy American provisions, in every single case, the Conservative government has failed to effectively engage the Obama administration and Congress to defend Canadian interests. The fact is that over their first three years in government, the Conservatives focused so much on the Bush Republicans that they completely ignored the Democrats. Now with the Democrats in charge at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Canada is at a disadvantage.

We are too dependent on the U.S. market, and the Conservatives have failed to defend Canada's interests in that big and important market. At the same time, we have to diversify and deepen our trade relations with countries like China and India.

Perhaps the greatest advantage and opportunity we have as a country is our head start in clean conventional energy technology. In fact, it was a Liberal government that initially invested massively in CO2 sequestration research and development in places like Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Those investments led to Canada having an advantage in clean conventional energy. In fact, Canada has the best technology in the world in carbon sequestration technology.

This summer, China signed a memorandum of understanding with the Obama administration to cooperate on the research and development of CO2 sequestration technology. The question we have to ask ourselves is: Why did China go to the U.S. for CO2 sequestration technology when in fact Canada has the best CO2 sequestration technology?

There are only two answers that make any sense. It is one of two things. Either the Conservative government's contempt for China over the last four years has damaged the relationship to such a point that China does not want to come to Canada for anything, or perhaps it is that the Conservatives have refused to promote Canada's clean energy solutions to the world. Either way it is damning because the Conservatives do not recognize the important comparative advantage Canada has in the research and development and export of clean energy technologies and solutions.

Perhaps the fastest growing area of the 21st century economy is going to be in clean energy and clean energy solutions. It is an area where Canada has a natural advantage as a traditional conventional energy producer. It is an area wherein the previous Liberal government invested to develop a global advantage in the area of clean conventional energy. It is an advantage that the Conservatives are frittering away in their ideological fight with China, their naive treatment of the fastest growing economies in the world, and their absolute incompetence in managing trade relations with those important economies that provide Canadians with the opportunities and the jobs of the future.

We do believe that there are opportunities for Canada in Jordan and there are opportunities for Jordan in Canada. The opportunities for us to trade and deepen the relationship is welcome, but we have real challenges with the fact that the Conservatives have so neglected the greatest opportunities.

In 1993 Prime Minister Chrétien went to China with the Team Canada mission. He took 300 senior executives of Canadian companies and all Canadian premiers, except Lucien Bouchard, with him. They signed billions of dollars' worth of agreements with China at that time, deepening the relationship, creating jobs for Canadians.

Mr. Chrétien at that time also led trade missions to India. Again he took with him hundreds of Canadian business people and the Canadian premiers. He engaged Indian government leaders and business leaders in business, not in photo ops.

This week the Prime Minister has gone to India. In his mea culpa tour to India and China, he has a handful of Canadian business people in India, but not enough to sign the kinds of deals that were signed when Mr. Chrétien was prime minister. That is because of the fact that the Conservative Prime Minister is more interested in photo ops and his mea culpa tour than he is in developing real business opportunities and jobs for Canadians.

The Prime Minister does not recognize Canada's multicultural policy not just as a successful social policy but as an economic advantage. The Liberal Party developed the multicultural policy and believes it is not only a social advantage but an economic advantage. We should be engaging our multicultural entrepreneurs to build natural bridges to the fastest growing economies in the world, economies like India and China.

Next month when the Prime Minister goes to China, he will have a lot of explaining to do. The Prime Minister has spent four years treating China with contempt. He failed to go to the opening of the Beijing Olympics. When I was in China in September, there were meetings with Canadian business people doing business in China, meetings with Chinese officials, and in every meeting the no-show of the Conservative Prime Minister at the opening of the Beijing Olympics was raised. It is a real issue. This is not a construct. It has cost Canadian business; it has cost Canadian deals. It has shown a Prime Minister who does not understand the importance of relationships in China.

The fact is that the Conservative government and members of the Conservative Party have attacked the Liberal leader for being too worldly when they should in fact be apologizing for their leader not being worldly enough. We have a Prime Minister of Canada today who does not understand the opportunities presented to Canada by the world. Canada, the most multicultural and diverse country anywhere in the world, has tremendous opportunities as we see the emergence of economies like China and India. He is a Prime Minister who does not understand Canada's responsibility to the world, to develop and promote the clean energy solutions that the world needs.

The Prime Minister, when it came to trade relations with places like India, started on third base. Four years later, he hit a single and he thinks he is hitting a home run. The fact is he has hurt our relations with China. He has damaged our relationship with India. Four years later, he is indulging himself in a photo op tour which, at best, can repair some of the damage that his rigid ideological perspective has created for Canadian companies, business leaders and workers in those important economies.

We in the Liberal Party believe there are opportunities in a Canada-Jordan trade agreement but we also believe that the Conservative management of Canada's historically important relations with places like China and India have been an abject failure. The Conservatives' treatment of those relationships has hurt Canadian competitiveness, has damaged our capacity to protect the jobs of today and has hurt the capacity for us to create the jobs of tomorrow.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the member for Kings—Hants. I always listen to him with interest. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I profoundly disagree. I listened very attentively.

The reality is that Jordan is not Colombia and we have to look at the Jordan issue of this trade agreement on its own merits. Of course, there are concerns around human rights in Jordan, concerns around some of the actions of the Jordanian government and concerns around the rights particularly of women migrant workers who come to Jordan.

When this bill goes to committee, which I assume at some point it may, much before any other of the trade bills before the House, would the member not agree that there needs to be effective hearings? Would he agree that the committee needs to hear from women's organizations, human rights organizations, environmental organizations, labour organizations, as well as the business community, so that the committee can ascertain the real impact of this trade agreement?

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, of course the Liberal Party is concerned about issues of rights. The Liberal Party has always been engaged in the defence of human rights. In fact, we believe trade, free trade and human rights go hand in hand because effective economic engagement actually strengthens the capacity to engage on rights. Pierre Trudeau was no slouch when it came to the defence of human rights. At the same time, he saw the wisdom of engaging China. He was the first Western leader to establish diplomatic relations with post-revolution China.

The disconnect we have with the NDP is that it somehow sees legitimate economic trade as being the enemy of human rights. In fact, the best thing we can do for a country that is developing its economy is to engage it economically. Then we can have an influence on them on human rights.

The Conservatives' isolationist approach to China has created a situation where we have less influence on human rights in China today than we did four years ago under a Liberal government. The fact is more economic engagement can strengthen the capacity to engage on human rights. I just wish the NDP members would be more open to the proven fact that free trade and a rules-based system can strengthen our engagement with these countries on human rights. I wish they would not be so ideologically rigid.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the member for Kings—Hants what he thinks about the fact that today, the Conservative government put forward a free trade agreement with Jordan.

It is a small country. In general, we are in favour of trade. Not to judge the country, but given the current situation, we have to wonder whether the government will be able to structure international trade, set policies and apply them properly. The government reminds us of a child in kindergarten. The Conservatives are in their first year of international trade kindergarten, and they have been held back three times already. They seem to understand nothing about international trade. They are cutting their teeth on small countries, while major markets are opening up, which we could be investing much more energy in.

I would like to know what the member thinks about the Conservative government and the development of its international trade policy. Ideally, we should not be signing bilateral agreements; we should be focusing primarily on multilateral agreements, ensuring that the rules of the game are the same for everyone. But what is happening is that we are signing a pile of bilateral agreements with some somewhat distorted rules.

I would like to hear what my colleague thinks.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

It is clear that the Conservatives do not understand and do not support a multilateral approach. It is also clear that we must diversify our international trade relations.

I do not understand why the Conservatives always concentrate on the small markets and completely ignore the big markets like China and India. I agree with the member; multilateralism is very important for Canada. The Conservatives do not understand this system. At the same time, we must develop and diversify our international trade relations, and the Conservatives are completely incompetent when it comes to this.