House of Commons Hansard #87 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, we hear a lot about what happened in the past. In the NDP, we are not necessarily against free trade agreements between countries per se. However, we want everyone to benefit, and by everyone I mean each country, and each and every citizen, whether rich or poor. In the past, rough timber was sold for offshore processing and brought back to Canada, where it is sold at a premium. That means that our manufacturing sector does not develop.

We have a number of concerns regarding what will happen to our natural resources. Will our water be protected, for example? Will we be forced to export our water, if asked? I would like my colleague to respond to that.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
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11:30 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

Indeed, in this agreement, and in all agreements of this type, a state's power to intervene in certain trade issues is limited, and that is unacceptable. It is an intolerable constraint. A second, even bigger constraint is that Jordan relies heavily on migrant workers from other countries. These migrant workers are subject to a legal double standard. Native-born Jordanians have rights that these temporary migrant workers do not. That opens the door to the outsourcing of our industries by using a large labour force in a country that does not pay its workers.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
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11:35 a.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau Compton—Stanstead, QC

Madam Speaker, our colleague from Newton—North Delta spoke of certain key sectors in Canada, including the textile sector. Increasingly, companies in those sectors are going abroad to Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan. However, there are sectors that need to be protected and we must ensure that agreements like this one have more teeth, as my colleague said. What does my colleagues think about the sectors that are at greatest risk in Canada?

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
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11:35 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, offshoring is not a new phenomenon, but it is clearly accentuated by this kind of agreement. The same thing occurred with Europe and Tunisia. In that particular case, it really was an economic favour; Europe wanted to favour Tunisia. In this case, companies are quite simply being given the right to lay off their Canadian workers in order to increase profits by relocating production to countries where production and workplace safety standards are non-existent. It is a race to the bottom when it comes to our rights and those of workers. The workers are the losers, regardless of their origin or nationality. The problem with bilateral agreements of this sort is that the working class is not protected.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
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11:35 a.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent speech. I have some concerns about the free trade treaty. I always go back to NAFTA and its famous chapter 11, which has permitted multinationals to sue the Canadian government and other governments attempting to protect the environment. There have been some famous lawsuits in Canada. Certain multinationals have sued the Canadian government, which has had to compensate those multinationals in the millions and billions of dollars because it tried to prevent them, for example, from using chemicals hazardous to the environment and to human health.

This is one of my concerns. I hope my colleague will agree with me that it is absolutely necessary to ensure, when this free trade treaty is studied in committee, that our workers and our environment are protected.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, this question is particularly relevant. This framework agreement is the first, and there may be others with other countries. Apparently we will be using it to develop trade agreements with other Middle Eastern countries. That is the problem. What standards are we going to apply? Theirs, ours, those upon which we do not agree, where there are differences of opinion?

Unfortunately, in Canada, it seems that NAFTA has driven standards down. If one of the two countries has a lower standard, that will become the standard applied with respect to the use of certain products. One of the products that poses problems, paradoxically, is asbestos. What will be done with asbestos? We want it banned here, and we hope for a stop to the production of this pure poison. But certain countries may be interested in using it to make finished products that are exportable worldwide. These are the inherent dangers of a trade agreement that is negotiated on the cheap, in a rush, without ensuring that all human rights are respected.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure that I speak to the bill. I want to share some ideas in terms of the big picture and how important trade is to our country.

We appreciate the importance of labour legislation and labour laws. We recognize the value of our environment. We recognize how critically important it is that we advocate for strong, healthy, sustainable environments when economic development is taking place. We recognize how important it is to enshrine strong human rights, morals and mores not only in Canada but around the world.

As we become more and more part of a world economy, it is important that we deal with those very important social issues. I do not question that at all. In fact, I would encourage governments of whatever political stripe and whatever jurisdiction, whether it is a national government or a provincial government, to look at those social concerns and advocate where they can. It is safe to say that all constituents, including those who live in Winnipeg North, are concerned about those issues. We are all concerned about the exploitation of children and the damage to our environment. Some countries are far worse than others. Some countries have much higher standards.

It might come as a bit of a shock, but Canada is not the leader in every aspect. I like to believe that we play a very strong leadership role overall, but let us not fool ourselves as there is room for a lot of improvement within our borders. Having said that, it is important that we recognize there is much to be gained through trade and it is in our best interests to encourage it. Canada is a trading nation.

I did some research and came up with some numbers. In 2010, the province of Manitoba, which has a population of 1.25 million, had imports totalling $13.8 billion. That sum of money is the total GDP of many countries. Of that total, 81.4% came from the United States; $648 million came from China; $380 million came from Mexico; $210 million came from Germany; $203 million came from Denmark; and the balance came from other countries throughout the world.

Yesterday we were talking about a free trade agreement with Panama. Today we are talking about an agreement with Jordan. When we talk about other nations around the world, these are the countries we are talking about. Members of the New Democratic Party have said it is such a small amount and that Jordan is ranked 88th in terms of countries that we trade with, at somewhere around $86 million last year.

We heard a great deal of criticism of the country of Panama. We have to be very careful. Yes, Panama does have some issues, as does Jordan and many other countries. However, we do not undervalue the potential of those nations and the way in which trade can better the lives of everyone if it is dealt with in a fair fashion.

Some would argue that if we have a trade agreement with a country, we are endorsing what happens in that country in regard to labour and environmental laws, human rights issues and other concerns. Logically, we could say the same thing for international trade. Because we allow so much trade between Canada and other nations that have those types of social issues, does that mean we are endorsing that sort of behaviour in those countries? I would suggest that is not the case. As Canadians we have serious and genuine concerns in regard to those strong social issues. We have seen the value of economic development that has occurred between nations. Jordan is the country that happens to be the subject of the debate today.

I would like to highlight a country that I am passionate about, the Philippines, which I love dearly. The Philippines is the number one source for immigrants coming to Canada today. It has been the number one source of immigrants to the province of Manitoba for the last number of years. I like to think that the relationship between Canada and the Philippines involves more than just immigration. We need to develop and encourage our relationship. I challenge the Government of Canada and the Prime Minister to look at how we can extend beyond immigration. I would argue that Canada has a greater need for the Philippines than the Philippines has for Canada. We should be looking at how to expand that relationship.

My colleague from the New Democratic Party made reference to dating versus getting married. He said that dating means we allow trade and getting married means we have a free trade agreement. We need to look at getting married to countries like the Philippines because of the economic and social benefits for our two great nations.

We do not have to approach world trade or immigration or however we want to classify it as being a bad thing if it involves a free trade agreement. This is where it is confusing in terms of the message we are getting from the New Democrats.

Yesterday I asked the NDP finance critic to provide an example of a free trade agreement that the NDP had voted in favour of. He did not really answer the question, but I did get a chance to ask a follow-up question. The first thing that came to the member's mind was that the NDP supported the auto pact.

A lot of people supported the auto pact for a very good reason. The auto pact was an agreement that was achieved by Lester Pearson back in 1965. Canadians have benefited immensely under that agreement. Millions of jobs were created as a direct result of that agreement. It guaranteed a role for Canada in manufacturing vehicles. It was a great agreement. Lester Pearson happened to be a Liberal prime minister. The agreement was one of his greatest achievements. He set the stage in terms of the benefits we can achieve if we get good agreements. I am glad that the New Democrats supported that agreement.

We need to fast-forward to today and look at the valuable role we could play in terms of enhancing international trade, whereby all Canadians could benefit. To me, that is what this debate should be about.

The biggest criticism I would give the government on this particular bill is its attitude toward trade with some of our other larger trading partners. It seems to have been dropping the ball. It has not been successful at getting the guarantees that Canadians need in order to have access to some of those American and European markets for which we should be fighting.

A good example of that would be in Manitoba. Manitoba has a wonderful, vibrant pork industry. I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to see first-hand the strength of Manitoba's pork industry. I visited a Hutterite colony that had a hog barn with about 10,000 pigs being brought to a certain stage. After they hit that stage, they were loaded on a truck and brought out to Brandon where they were being slaughtered. I was able to tour the different facilities, from the birth to the actual packaging that was being exported. It was very impressive.

The first thing I had to do when I walked into the barn was to sanitize. I had to take a shower, put on a certain smock and the first room I walked into was a computer room. Our farmers on the Prairies are very much high tech these days. The computer told us how much food each pig was actually eating. It was all done based on any given week and ensuring that each animal was receiving the right amount of protein and food. From there, the pigs go to Brandon. Hundreds of jobs are being created in communities like Brandon and Neepawa, and many rural communities, because of the developing pork industry. It has grown from an industry back in the early 1990s, which was, and I am guesstimating here, likely less than $500,000, to an industry of millions of dollars today.

The pork that is being produced in the province of Manitoba is being exported. Manitoba needs to be able to export that pork in order to have the jobs that is has today, some very valuable jobs that are putting bread and butter on the tables of hundreds of families in the province of Manitoba. We need to have that market. Therefore, when Korea was having discussions with the United States, it is understandable why many farmers in the province of Manitoba were asking about Canada in Korea.

We could talk about the BSE crisis and the panic among the cattle producers in the prairie provinces. Again, hundreds, if not thousands of jobs were being dealt with. Trade means a great deal to individuals like those.

It goes beyond that. It is not just our agri-industries. The garment industry has had its ups and downs in the province of Manitoba, and I think it would be similar across Canada. That is why I believe there is a vested interest in looking at ways in which we can secure markets. It does not always need to be bad news. There are plenty of good news stories.

Certain sectors of the manufacturing industry in Manitoba have exploded and are doing exceptionally well. Whether it relates to buses with New Flyer Industries, a wonderful success story for the province of Manitoba, to the smaller but very successful Carte on Logan Avenue. These are companies manufacturing everything from buses to hydro components. They are not just producing products for the local markets of Manitoba. If so, they would not survive. They are producing products that are being sold internationally. Therefore, when we look at free trade agreements in principle, we see the benefits of that for Canadians.

However, we do need to be careful when we sign off on agreements. An example of that would be the garment industry. During the nineties, we had somewhere in the neighbourhood of about 8,000 or 9,000 Manitobans who were directly employed in the garment industry working on sewing machines and so forth. Over the last number of years, between 1999 and 2007, in and around that time frame, our garment industry took quite a blow. It actually went down to under 1,000 people who were working in that industry.

I have had the opportunity to have some discussions with some companies, such as Peerless Garments and Freed & Freed, which are doing wonderful work. I understand that even now there is some growth in that industry but it is an industry that does concern me.

We have a very important aerospace industry in the province of Manitoba. When looking at free trade agreements, I believe that, if done properly, they could benefit many different industries in the province of Manitoba, in fact in all of Canada. When we look at freer trade among different nations and at where we can formalize agreements in general, I think that is a positive endeavour.

Having said that, there is concern with the government not moving in other areas that are having a profound impact on jobs and on our manufacturing industry as a whole across Canada. As economies tried to adjust through the last recession, it is borderline in terms of where it is that we are going over the next year or two. We are concerned that the government has not really been there to support the industries to the degree that it could have been, which has caused a great deal of concern. It has taken some actions, such as the killing of the Canadian Wheat Board, which will have a very profound impact on our western provinces.

Once again, we are pleased to see that this bill is here and to, ultimately, see it go to committee, but we really do believe that the government needs to put more emphasis on and give more attention to the whole issue of the trade file with some of our larger trading partners.

I made reference to exports. In terms of imports, from Manitoba's perspective, it is the United States at 81.4%. Canadians are genuinely concerned that tens of thousands of jobs in those markets will be affected when we get companies moving from Ontario to the U.S., as well as the role the government has played in terms of trying to protect our jobs. Those are the types of concerns that we have today. We need to see the government take a much more proactive approach on that front.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could comment on how important he feels it is to have good labour practices in Canada and to ensure that good labour practices are entrenched in our free trade agreements to protect workers and elevate working conditions around the world.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

Noon

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely critical that, wherever we can, we promote and encourage good labour and environmental standards and human rights.

I will quote from a document, which is from Manitoba's perspective. It states:

Manitoba's exporting community benefits from all these agreements by receiving enhanced market access with preferential tariffs compared to their non-Canadian competitors. Enhanced market access for Manitoba exporters in new markets may encourage them to expand their existing markets and penetrate new markets in nations where Canada has concluded free trade agreements.

The free trade agreements they are talking about include places like Chile, Costa Rica, the European Free Trade Association, Colombia, Panama and Jordan. This report is co-authored by the NDP government in Manitoba and the Business Council of Manitoba. That is why it is important to acknowledge what the member has just said about environmental and labour protections, but we can do both, and that is what I would suggest is the answer.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

March 1st, 2012 / noon

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the one thing I think my colleague and I can agree on is that, although sometimes trade agreements are not perfect, they do help both our country and the country with which we enter into an agreement.

We have seen the changes and the emergence of China over the last two decades. We are very familiar with the human right violations that were very apparent 20 years ago. We have also seen how the situation in China, because it has been exposed to other democracies around the world through trade, has certainly improved. I do not think it is where we are as a country but it has improved over the years.

When we had an opportunity to meet with delegations from Africa in the past, they did not talk about increases to aid. They talked about access to markets. They know that through access to markets, their situation will improve as well.

When New Democrats speak about trade agreements, they do not support free and open trade. They say that they want fair trade, which I think is what we all want, but in the absence of a perfect deal, I do not think we can impart our values on another country.

Is it not best that we enter into an agreement that we think we can have an impact both at home and with the country with which we sign the deal?

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

Noon

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

, Mr. Speaker, the member is right on in terms of his comments. What we would ultimately argue is that we can do both. We will not tell a country that we currently trade with that we have some issues by our standards and that, because of them, possibly human rights related, we will no longer trade with it. I do not believe that is the answer.

Who is prepared to say that we will end all trade with China because we do not like some of the things that are happening there? I do not even think New Democrats would advocate that we should end all trade with China. We can have free trade agreements with a country and still be able to work on the very important social issues. In fact, some would argue that we might even have a greater impact by having a free trade agreement with a country and being able to carry more influence. There is a lot of merit to that particular argument.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, to make it absolutely clear, the NDP is not against trade. It is not against free trade agreements either as long as they address the issues identified earlier in my speech.

We are not saying that we should stop trade with every country around the world. However, there is a big difference to being in a trading partnership and formalizing it into a bilateral trade agreement. A bilateral trade agreement that builds into it inequities for the people of Jordan compared to investors from Canada, we have a great deal of difficulty with that.

This is the time, as we are negotiating, to address giving some teeth to enforcement around labour laws and human rights. If my colleague's argument is seen through to the nth degree, then we would shut our eyes to what happens in other countries as long as we could buy and sell from them. I do not think that is where Canadians are.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, sometimes we have to agree to disagree. The NDP has never voted in favour of a free trade agreement, contrary to what its critic of finance said yesterday. He is already starting to get excited. Remember what Jack Layton said?

I have posed the question for the members of the NDP. One member of the NDP said yesterday, when I asked if he supported free trade agreements, “We have always opposed free trade treaties”.

Members cannot have it both ways and say that they are open to trade, that they support trade agreements and so forth, such as when the critic of finance said that they supported the auto pact. We are talking about the principle of free trade agreements. The NDP has never voted in favour of a free trade agreement.

The member is getting agitated. He might get a chance to ask question.

Correct me if I am wrong. I challenge any member of the New Democratic Party to stand up and say, “here is the free trade agreement we voted for”, and then name what it is.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
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12:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the real question is this. When have the Liberals ever voted against a Conservative bad bill?

As members know, the softwood lumber sellout cost 60,000 jobs across the country. The Liberals voted for it even though they knew it would lead to the hemorrhaging of jobs across the country.

The Liberals voted for an agreement with Colombia. We have seen the most recent human rights reports stating that the murders are continuing with paramilitaries connected to the Colombian regime.

The Liberals are also supporting the Panamanian trade agreement, even though everyone, the IRS, the U.S. State Department and the OECD, have condemned Panama for acting as a money laundering centre for drug gangs.

Every time the Liberals say they do not care about that. The Conservatives have brought it forward so they will vote for it.

When have the Liberals ever voted against a bad deal negotiated by the Conservatives? Not once.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, the member kind of makes my point. I challenged him. I asked him a very simple question, and that was to tell me when the NDP had ever voted for a free trade agreement. Unless I am deaf, I did not hear the member cite one free trade agreement.

The reality is NDP members never have and by doing that, they have closed their eyes. They believe free trade is not in the best interest of Canadians. However, hundreds of thousands of Canadians today rely on the exportation and importation of products. It creates real, tangible jobs. That is what Canadians want. They want a government that is concerned about economic development to ensure a future for the industries that will provide those types of jobs. Yes, the Conservatives have made mistakes, but we need to focus our attention on those manufacturing jobs.

The NDP members have dropped the ball all the time. They just talk, talk, talk—