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  • His favourite word is deal.

NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 50.10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Ethics November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, spending $120,000 on a last-minute reception is simply unjustifiable. This royal treatment for Europeans cost Canadians $34,000 on food and hotels, $13,000 on drinks, $8,000 on music, $19,000 on backdrops, and a total of half a million dollars for a party and a pointless photo op.

Does the minister not agree that this money would be much better spent helping Canadians and Canadian businesses actually benefit from trade opportunities?

Interparliamentary Delegations November 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-China Legislative Association respecting its participation at the Co-Chairs' Annual Visit held in Shanghai, Beijing, Urumqi, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China, May 11 to May 15, 2013.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was not present in the House for the entirety of my hon. colleague's speech, but I was advised by some who were that she and some others on the Conservative side of the House were making some sort of accusation that somehow the NDP was holding up the bill in committee, or seeking to kill it entirely. That is 100% false.

During the clause-by-clause study of the bill, the New Democrats did our job as opposition and of course studied the clauses. We proposed six amendments that were debated very briefly and voted down by the government. We actually passed the bill at committee after second reading in one meeting. That is because the New Democrats have, from the beginning, listened to the testimony of the business community that it would like to see this agreement in place by January 1, if at all possible. The official opposition has been co-operative in doing so.

Would my hon. colleague correct any remarks she may have made that would erroneously suggest to Canadians that the New Democrats were somehow working to kill or slow down the bill?

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of questions that I think Canadians would want me to put to the hon. member.

She is the international trade critic for the Liberal Party, but she does not sit on the international trade committee and does not attend international trade committee meetings. When this agreement was put before committee to be studied and we heard from witnesses, she was not present to listen to any of the testimony that was put before the committee. The Liberal Party advanced and proposed no amendments to this agreement.

Could the member explain to Canadians why, as Liberal trade critic, she does not think it is important enough to come to the international trade committee and actually study the legislation, listen to the witnesses who come before our committee and give us the benefit of their perspective, and to help formulate policy in the House?

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague, who does excellent work on the international trade committee and provides many thoughtful interventions there and in the House.

These negotiations commenced in 2004, so it has taken about a decade to conclude this agreement. On the one hand, it is regrettable that Canada was unable to close a trade agreement quicker because, as we heard, Canadian businesses lost what those businesspeople told us is about 30% of their market share in South Korea because the Americans and the Europeans got first market access two or three years before we did. On the other hand, I am a big believer that Canada should be getting good agreements not quick agreements.

I do believe that this agreement that has been placed before the House is a thoughtfully negotiated one. I believe overall it is quite strong and all parties are going to work together to ensure this agreement is in place to support Canadian businesses before the January 1 important deadline.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that while the New Democrats have announced a child care plan, it was based on the fact that the leader of the Liberal Party refused to commit to a Liberal government in 2015 bringing in a child care plan. The difference between the child care plans is that a New Democrat government will actually bring it in, whereas the Liberals will only talk about it.

In terms of the TPP, which is a whole different issue, it raises a lot of profoundly important considerations, many of which do not really apply to the South Korea agreement. It is a very important thing. This summer Canada hosted TPP negotiations in Ottawa. The TPP negotiations have been conducted with a completely unacceptable and unnecessary amount of secrecy.

Of course, the United States is the major anchor in the TPP negotiations, which is a regional pact with 12 different countries in it. There are many different concerns about that, including whether the United States will be pushing a very aggressive intellectual property regime that would damage Canadians' access to a free and open Internet. There are concerns about Australia and New Zealand and the United States wanting Canada to open up our supply-managed sectors, which the New Democrats are very strongly against. We believe that we should be keeping a strong supply-managed sector, as I believe the Conservatives agree with as well. For my hon. colleague from the Liberal Party, I am not quite sure what the Liberals feel about the supply-managed sector because some of their MPs and former MPs spend their time attacking the supply-managed sector. I am not quite clear on what their position is on that.

However, the TPP is a very important set of negotiations that I would like to see opened up so that Canadians and parliamentarians can see what is being negotiated and we can keep close tabs on the progress of that important pact.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the kind words. As she said it was refreshing to see New Democrats vote for a trade agreement, I would like to see the government support a child care program. Perhaps we can mutually improve this country by working together on some important policy areas.

I come from Vancouver and my riding is Vancouver Kingsway. Of course, British Columbia is Canada's Pacific province and we have a very strong orientation towards the Asia-Pacific. This is something that I think is sometimes not recognized quite as much as it ought to be in Ontario and Quebec, who tend to be South America, European or American focused. However, the opportunities for British Columbia, and Canada through British Columbia, to build strong economic relations as well as cultural, social and political bonds with South Korea and other important countries in the Asia-Pacific region are explosive.

We know that China is posed to be the largest economy in the world in just a number of years. It is Canada's second-largest trading partner. Therefore, any opportunity we have to strengthen our economic relations with an important Asian economy such as South Korea will pay dividends for Canada down the road.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is a very thoughtful question that I think deserves a thoughtful answer.

The New Democrats believe that each trade agreement has to be evaluated on its own merits. We have to identify the partner involved and we have to look at the agreement itself. There are some profound and significant differences between the investor state provision in the South Korea agreement and the one my hon. colleague talked about with respect to the Canada-China FIPA.

For one thing, the Canada-China FIPA investor state provision would bind Canada for 31 years. The Korean agreement is six months.

Second, the Canada-China FIPA permits either sued party, whether China or Canada, to have the tribunal hearings held in camera, in secret, thereby avoiding one of the hallmarks of the rule of law, which is open public court proceedings. The South Korean agreement explicitly requires that investor state proceedings are to be made in public, using the word “shall”.

Finally, China is, of course, a very different country than South Korea. China is a command economy and a major capital exporter, whereas South Korea is an open market economy that has been on a trade liberalization regime for quite some time. The concerns about state enterprises or South Korea using the power of its state interests to further its interests in Canada's sensitive sectors are not quite the same.

However, the member is quite right that a New Democratic government, and it is our party policy, would not negotiate agreements with investor state provisions. We do not think they are necessary. That is why the New Democrats believe that the South Korea agreement must be monitored very closely. If it turns out that the investor state provisions are being abused in the South Korea agreement, New Democrats would not hesitate to invoke the cancellation provisions of South Korea, which would end the agreement on six-months notice, and it would not have any further binding effect after that time.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to stand in the House to speak on behalf of the official opposition New Democratic Party on Bill C-41, which is an act to implement the Canada-South Korea trade agreement. Once again, on behalf of the New Democrats, it is also a privilege to stand and support this agreement. There is no question that the overwhelming evidence is that this agreement is not just of net comprehensive benefit to Canada, but, in my opinion, it is of significant benefit to the Canadian economy, and that includes Canadian workers.

The Canada-Korea trade agreement is also a critical opportunity for the Canadian economy, which we simply cannot afford to miss. As has been pointed out in the House before at second reading, we do not negotiate in a vacuum. The Canada-South Korea negotiations for a trade agreement took place in the context of other trade agreements being negotiated, notably the United States and the European Union, both of which concluded trade agreements with South Korea before Canada did, in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

That means that businesses in the United States and the European Union both had access to reduced tariffs that Canadian businesses have not had. Since those agreements have been in place over the last two and three years respectively, Canadian businesses, sector after sector, have told our committee that they are losing market share in South Korea as a result.

It is our opinion that even if we wanted to oppose the agreement, the context is such that we could not, because Canadian businesses simply cannot compete in a world where their competitors are getting tariff reductions that they are not. I might also point out that Australia, which is a very direct competitor to Canadian producers in a number of areas, has also just concluded an agreement with South Korea.

I will be talking about this at the end, but I also want to point out that New Democrats have a coherent and well-thought-out lens through which we evaluate trade agreements. This is unlike the Conservative government, which seems to support trade agreements with anybody at any time, regardless of what is in them, or the Liberal Party, which opportunistically will support an agreement and then not talk about it.

We asked ourselves a number of important questions. New Democrats asked first of all what characterizes our proposed trade partner: Who is our proposed trade partner? Can it be said that they are a modern democracy with respect to the rule of law, democracy, and human rights? Or, if there are challenges in that regard, can it be said that they are on a positive trajectory?

Second, is the economy of strategic or significant value to Canada? The Conservative government has been a broken record in terms of bragging about the agreements it has signed over the last six years. However, most, if not all, of those agreements have been, with the greatest of respect, economies that have very little trade with Canada and do not have significant or strategic value to our economy. These are countries like Honduras, Panama, and Jordan. As important as these countries are, and as important as it is to have good relations with these countries, I do not think anyone is going to delude themselves into thinking that trade agreements with those countries are going to have a significant impact on the Canadian economy.

South Korea is different in that regard. South Korea is a member of the G20. It is the fifteenth-largest economy in the G20. It is a multi-party democracy with robust rule of law. It has the highest post-secondary participation rate of any country in the OECD. Canada and South Korea are complementary economies. That is an important point. In most respects our sectors are not in direct competition with each other, and our economies are mutually beneficial.

South Korea is also a world leader in green technology, in renewable energy and energy conservation.

I will repeat what I asked in my question to the hon. parliamentary secretary. South Korea has dedicated 2% of its GDP per year to the green technology sector. South Korea is a trillion-dollar economy annually. That translates into $20 billion a year that South Korea is investing in what is clearly an economic direction for the future.

One of the many reasons that New Democrats believe this agreement has the capacity to be very positive for our economy is because New Democrats believe that, wherever we can, the Canadian economy should be steered in a direction where we are replacing outmoded forms of energy, polluting forms of energy, with sustainable ones.

Canadians often see a lot of rancour, discussion, debate, and argument back and forth in this House. They often do not see when Parliament works in a positive way. This is one example where it has, with all parties on the trade committee participating in the deliberations of this important agreement.

Canadians may know that after second reading in this House, and after a vote, then legislation goes to a committee. In this case, this agreement went to the international trade committee where we debated the legislation. We importantly called and heard from witnesses about their points of view on this legislation. We also had an opportunity to propose amendments.

The New Democrats were the only party that proposed amendments at second reading. Neither the Liberals nor any other party proposed any amendments. I will be talking about that in a moment. I think those amendments would have strengthened this agreement.

MPs heard testimony during the committee that was very favourable to the agreement. In fairness, we heard some testimony that was not favourable. We also heard testimony prescribing next steps for the Canadian government and exporters, as we seek to realize the full potential created by this deal both for Canadian enterprises and workers.

On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I would like to thank the witnesses for their efforts in raising awareness about different components of the deal and its impact on their sectors. It added some very important information for us as parliamentarians, and I want to highlight some of that evidence.

The testimony that we heard essentially amounted to a strong exhortation that the federal government have this agreement in place before January 1. As I stated, the context in which we evaluated this deal is one where we have competitive agreements and competitors around the world who are beating us to the market because of the tariff reductions they are enjoying and that Canadian producers are not. We also heard from sectors that believe this agreement may present challenges for them.

In an effort to strengthen the deal for Canada, and consistent with some of those suggestions from witnesses, New Democrats moved a number of common sense amendments to address those concerns. We are somewhat disappointed that the Conservative government was unwilling to work with the opposition to strengthen the deal. They rejected all six of our amendments. Nevertheless, the NDP will continue to offer concrete proposals to ensure that the full potential of this deal is reached and that Canadian businesses and workers benefit.

Committee members were privileged to hear the testimony of the chief negotiator for Canada in these talks, Mr. Ian Burney, who very clearly and succinctly unpacked the many components of the trade deal and articulated their significance for the Canadian economy. Here are some highlights of his testimony.

The outcomes are particularly advantageous for Canada when you consider that Korean tariffs are on average three times higher than ours, 13.3% versus 4.3%. [...] For example, in the sensitive fish and seafood sector, where Korean tariffs run as high as nearly 50%, we've obtained faster tariff elimination.... In agriculture, Korea's most heavily protected sector, with tariffs approaching 900%, we've achieved better outcomes than our competitors.... There will also be major benefits across industrial and manufacturing sectors in Canada, including aerospace, rail, information technology goods, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals to name a few, where Korean tariffs can run up to 13%.

Mr. Burney, primarily in answer to questions raised by the New Democrats, addressed concerns about the impact of the deal on Canada's auto sector. Here is some of his perspective on the matter. He pointed out the following:

...most Canadian production, in fact, almost 90% last year, is exported and so will be unaffected by the increased competition in the Canadian market. Moreover, Korean-branded cars sold in Canada are, as you know, increasingly coming in from plants in the U.S. duty-free under NAFTA. That volume is already close to 50%, so the protection afforded by the tariff is declining in any event.

I would point out that we also have information that Hyundai is opening two auto plants in Mexico in the next two years, an assembly plant and a parts plant, which would be capable of producing several hundred thousand units a year. Therefore, that 50% vehicle entry into Canada from Korean manufacturers is no doubt going to go up.

Mr. Burney continued:

With respect to the Korean market, [where] it remains challenging, there is no doubt it is opening up. Imported auto sales in Korea have been growing at about 30% annually over the last four years. The import penetration rate has increased from about 3% when our negotiations started to over 12% today, meaning that nowadays one in eight cars sold in Korea is an imported vehicle.

New Democrats believe that trajectory has to be watched carefully so we can ensure that Canadian auto products do indeed have access to the Korean market, which up to now has been identified as one of the more closed markets in the world.

The NDP is also proud to join the United Food and Commercial Workers, Canada's largest private sector union, in supporting the Korea trade agreement and its positive potential for tens of thousands of unionized workers in Canada.

Here are some of the words of UFCW legislative director Bob Linton:

UFCW Canada believes that the Canada-Korea free trade agreement overall will be a good deal for Canadian workers.... Korea is heavily dependent on food imports with a demand exceeding $28 billion annually. Korea is Canada's fifth largest agricultural food export market. It has a population of 50 million relatively high-income citizens....

He continues:

Furthermore, increasing trade with Korea and other similar countries is a crucial step [in] diversifying our export industries, reducing risks and dependence on the...U.S. economy.

He also said:

This agreement means that not only members at our locals in Quebec, such as Local 1991, and Ontario, Local 175, will benefit from this free trade agreement but locals in Alberta, such as Local 1118 and 401, and Saskatchewan, Local 1400, will also have the potential to benefit. This deal will not only help to protect the jobs of our members in these provinces but has the potential to increase employment with good union paying jobs that benefit the communities.

Committee members also heard testimony from business and community leaders in Canada's vibrant Korean-Canadian community. Two witnesses I was privileged to put on the list were from British Columbia, Mr. Mike Suk and Mr. David Lee, who described to committee the potential benefits that this deal could bring to the Korean-Canadian community.

Here is a highlight of the testimony by Mike Suk, president of the Korean Cultural Heritage Society:

In less than 60 years South Korea has made its mark on the world stage. Cutting-edge industries have developed in Korea. Korea has also emerged as an influential tastemaker in Asia. I believe companies in Canada, through joint ventures with South Korea, [businesses] will gain favourable access to other high-growth emerging markets in Asia.

I would point out that this is Canada's very first trade agreement with an Asian country. This is another salient factor that went into the New Democrats' decision to support the agreement. Not only does this represent the so-called Asian pivot, where it is important for Canada's economy to establish strong and deep and broad economic relations with Asian economies, but Korea also represents an important gateway opportunity. We will penetrate the Korean market that provides opportunities for us to access the broader Asian market as well.

I want to talk very briefly about the amendments that the New Democrats proposed, which we felt would strengthen the agreement.

Our first amendment would amend the bill to add a clear preservation of the right of Canadian governments to legislate and regulate in the public interest. By way of brief explanation, the New Democrats do not believe that investor state provisions ought to be put into free trade agreements.

In this case, if an investor state agreement is put into an agreement, then we would like a crystal clear and explicit statement in that agreement that nothing in that trade agreement, but nothing, would trump the sovereignty of the states involved to legislate or regulate in the public interest. That is not clearly set out in the bill, and we thought it ought to be.

The second amendment would amend the bill to explicitly prohibit the weakening of environmental standards in order to attract foreign investment.

In fairness to the agreement, it does have a significant amount of language on the environment. However, in our view, when it comes to the environment, we cannot be clear enough. No trade should be facilitated, ever, by a diminution or reduction in environmental standards, and Canada should say so directly in each and every trade agreement that it signs.

The third amendment amends the bill to repeal the investor state dispute settlement chapter from the agreement. As my hon. colleague, the parliamentary secretary stated, Korea and Canada both have robust, mature judicial systems. There is absolutely no rational basis for including an investor state provision in an agreement when investors have full protection and recourse to the judiciaries of both countries to protect their investments and business interests.

Our fourth amendment would amend the bill to require annual Canadian trade missions to Korea to monitor the elimination of discriminatory non-tariff barriers and the implementation of the agreement and report back to Parliament annually. Every single auto company has told us that South Korea has historically utilized a series of non-tariff measures. We could fail to experience any benefits of a trade agreement if a country does two things: if it implements non-tariff barriers and if it manipulates its currency. It could wipe out any potential benefits that a trade agreement would give us by tariff elimination.

The New Democrats, quite thoughtfully and reasonably, suggested that we go every year, at least upon implementation of this agreement, perhaps the first five years, and take representatives of all industries and labour with us and monitor the non-tariff barriers of South Korea to ensure that companies in our country do get the benefit of this agreement. Unfortunately, the Conservatives chose to vote against that thoughtful amendment.

Our fifth amendment would amend the bill to require the inclusion of a snap-back provision for Canadian auto and steel tariffs in the event of a surge in vehicle imports or steel imports from the Republic of Korea. We have heard different testimony on this. I remain of the opinion that we should get what the U.S. got in its agreement with South Korea, which was a snap-back provision. What that means is that if it was found over a period time South Korea market access was not being realized, or it was found there was a dumping of South Korean imports into, in that case, the United States, the tariffs would snap back to protect the domestic industry. We thought the Canadian steel and auto sector ought to have the same protection that their colleagues in the U.S. have.

The sixth amendment is the one that is specifically on steel. Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted down each one of those amendments. I am disappointed that they did.

At the same time, I want to mention that South Korea has been identified in the past as one of those jurisdictions that has been accused of intervening in its currency to artificially suppress its currency level as a means of boosting its exports. I make no such accusations in this regard, but that has been identified.

New Democrats, before committee, announced to Canada that we would be proposing the following motion at committee to address this major trade barrier, which is currency manipulation. It reads:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee undertake a study of the use of currency intervention by states throughout the world to create advantages in international trade, policy options available to address unfair currency interventions, and report its findings back to the House. The focus of this study should include: a) Investigating the challenges and opportunities in using trade and investment agreements to address currency intervention; b) examining the status of progress at multilateral bodies in developing fair international rules on currency intervention; and c) balancing respect for sovereign nations in the management of their monetary policy with the development of fair international rules to level the playing field for exporters in all countries.

People as diverse as the U.S. manufacturers association, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Ford Canada and any number of people involved in import and export understand the importance of currency in expanded trade opportunities. Regrettably, our motion will not be studied, at least now, before our committee. That is disappointing as well because we think that having a stable and fair currency trading system is key to establishing a smart trade policy for Canada.

Canada is a trading nation. We have always been a trading nation. We continue to be a trading nation. New Democrats will continue to suggest intelligent, thoughtful and prudent measures that will not only boost exports for Canadian champions around the world but also make sure that we can create those value-added, good-paying jobs here at home that are the hallmark of every modern industrial economy.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my hon. colleague on his speech. We work together on the international trade committee, where we have been studying this important deal.

As Canadians know, the New Democrats are supporting the Canada-South Korea trade agreement because we believe, on balance, it is of net benefit to Canada. I am happy to work together with my colleague to expedite the bill through the House.

He is right about the need to put this agreement in place quickly. We heard testimony in committee from a number of witnesses that it is important for the Canadian business sector to have the agreement in place, if at all possible, by January 1. That is when the next tranche of tariff reductions come down in the Korea-U.S. deal, and we need to keep our businesses competitive.

I want to focus on one aspect of the deal and get my hon. colleague's comment on it. South Korea is a world leader in green technology, renewable energy, and conservation technology, and unlike the Conservative government, it is dedicating a substantial amount of money, 2% of its GDP, to that sector. With a trillion-dollar economy, that is $20 billion a year that South Korea is investing to develop green technology. That is one thing New Democrats believe is a positive about the deal: Canada can join with South Korea and improve our trade in that very important green technology sector, which we believe will be an important sector for Canada's economy in the future.

I wonder if my hon. colleague has any comments on the opportunities that this deal may present for Canada in terms of green technology, renewable energy, and energy conservation.