House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was negotiations.

Topics

Business of the House
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the House
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

It being 6:24 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-429, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Manicouagan, QC

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 98, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, December 15 immediately after oral questions.

(House in committee of the whole on Government Business No. 9, Mr. Andrew Scheer in the chair)

Economic Negotiations with the European Union
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State

moved:

That this committee take note of the current negotiations to conclude a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union by the end of 2011.

Economic Negotiations with the European Union
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Minister of International Trade

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to rise this evening in the House to speak about Canada's comprehensive economic and trade agreement negotiations with the European Union. These negotiations are at the centre of our government's ambitious trade strategy, which involves promoting job creation and prosperity for Canadians.

Canada has always been a trading nation. Our businesses count on selling their goods, products and services all around the world and they are counting on their government to open markets around the world for them to succeed. Our government will always stand together with our businesses and with our workers, opening free markets, because that is what Canada's economy needs.

Free trade is not an abstract concept. It creates real tangible benefits for people. It helps entrepreneurs succeed and win in global markets. It helps our businesses expand, strengthens their operations here at home, maintaining and creating jobs all across the country. When our businesses succeed, Canadians succeed. That is why our government is standing up for Canadian businesses through free trade, free trade with the European Union in particular.

We are proud of the progress we have made to date. Over the past four years, we signed new free trade agreements with eight countries and we are currently in the midst of negotiations with close to 50 others, including the European Union.

That, of course, includes its 27 member states.

Over the years, the European Union has become Canada's second largest trade and investment partner in the world, second only to the United States. In sectors as diverse as agriculture, banking and high technology, we can point to jobs and prosperity in both Canada and in Europe that are directly supported by our close relationship.

Canadian businesses are excited about the European Union's position as the world's largest single common market and biggest investor and global business hub. At the same time, our European partners are looking to Canada's own cutting-edge, innovative economy, talented workforce, and world-leading business community. They are also attracted to Canada's banking system, which is, as we know, the soundest banking system in the world. They look to our taxes, soon to be the lowest taxes across the board on businesses, and already the lowest taxes on new business investment.

I have seen this interest in Canada in my own travels just this year in Europe promoting our European Union-Canada free trade negotiations in countries like Estonia, Greece, Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Belgium and Bulgaria. These countries and more have all expressed a great interest in doing business with Canada. Recognizing the great opportunity, our negotiators have been working closely with their European counterparts to work out the details.

As we prepare for the sixth round of negotiations in Brussels next month, I am pleased to report the great progress that we have made to date. We have made progress across the board, including in the main market access areas like good and services, investment and government procurement.

We are well on track to having these negotiations concluded, we hope, by the end of next year.

Tomorrow, I will be meeting with the European Union trade commissioner, Karel De Gucht, here in Ottawa to take stock of the progress that we have made so far.

Given the high level of co-operation and the high degree of flexibility we have seen, I have no doubt that these negotiations will be fruitful and result in the signature of a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that will benefit all Canadians.

The benefits of such an agreement would be tremendous.

A joint study was done in advance of the negotiations to set the table to decide whether it made sense for both sides to proceed with the free trade negotiations. That study indicated that a deal of the type contemplated, a deal of the type we are on track to deliver, would deliver a benefit to the Canadian economy in excess of $12 billion annually.

An agreement would also give Canada a significant competitive edge against other countries. Canada would be the first developed country with a trade agreement with the European Union. What is more, that would put Canada in a unique position. It would be the only developed country in the world with free trade agreements with both the United States and the European Union, the two biggest markets in the world. Members should think of the competitive advantage that would give to Canadian businesses and workers. It is a unique position with which nobody in the world would be able to compete.

And yet, even with those kinds of benefits, we continue to hear voices from the fringe and the extreme opposing our efforts.

I should point out that these are the same voices that were heard during the debate over free trade with the United States, naysayers who believe, for example, that economic co-operation requires giving up our sovereignty or is somehow harmful to a nation's economy. They should tell that to the millions of Canadians who have benefited and continue to benefit from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

NAFTA did not weaken Canada's sovereignty in any way. It strengthened our economy and made us more competitive. Under NAFTA, international companies invested in Canada and will continue to operate here.

For example, since free trade with the United States was initiated, Canada's merchandise trade with the United States has actually more than doubled; and our trade since NAFTA with Mexico has increased almost fivefold.

Just think of all the jobs and economic activity, all the prosperity, all the families that are doing better today than before as a result of these free trade agreements and the opportunities they delivered.

In fact, 4.1 million Canadian jobs have been created since free trade with the United States became effective. Critics of free trade choose to ignore these facts. Instead, they think our businesses and our economy should be isolated from the global competition.

Our government believes Canadian businesses can compete with the best. We believe Canadian workers can compete with the very best in the world. That is what they have done and that is what they will do into the future. They have proven, time and again, that they can win in the markets of the world, and they are counting on us to stand up for them, to negotiate the terms of access they have been looking for so that they can sell their goods, their products and their services, the best in the world, into the 27-member European Union. We are not going to let them down.

It is not too late for our critics to join us in efforts to help create more jobs and prosperity here in Canada. It is not too late for them to join the chorus of support we have been hearing from our own business community, as well as from the provinces and territories, who have been deeply involved in these negotiations since the start. In fact, for the first time in Canada's history, the provinces and territories have been actually at the tables in these negotiations, helping us to deliver a broader and deeper agreement.

All of Canada is participating in this initiative, and we have seen a great deal of enthusiasm for the efforts we are making to establish closer trade ties with the world's largest markets.

We are asking members on both sides of the House to help us create new jobs and increase prosperity for Canadians by supporting our free trade agenda as we take an important step in Canada's history as a trading nation.

This is a tremendous opportunity for Canada. This trade agreement would be the most significant initiative since the North American Free Trade Agreement. This is a trade agreement that creates opportunities in every part of this country. This is a situation where Canada has the potential to set itself apart from any of our traditional competitors.

We can be very proud of the track record of our government, the free trade initiatives we have taken, the new agreements that we have already launched. In fact, our predecessors were timid about trade agreements and only did three in the 13 years of Liberal government.

We are in the process of actually enhancing and improving those three agreements, renegotiating them to meet our standards of an ambitious agreement. This is our chance to have the most state of the art, ambitious free trade agreement ever.

It is an opportunity we should not let pass by. It is significant at this time of economic challenges that Canada is showing this leadership. We are indeed the strongest of any of the economies in the G7, with the strongest economic growth, the lowest debt and the lowest deficit, and the most skilled workforce in the world, with the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates of any OECD country.

We can be proud of what we have been doing, but we can take that pride on the road, on the world stage, and create jobs and opportunity for Canadians across the country by delivering a free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.

I encourage all members of the House to get behind this very significant effort.