Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act

An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.

Sponsor

Stockwell Day  Conservative

Status

Second reading (House), as of Nov. 19, 2009
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment implements the Free Trade Agreement and the related agreements on the environment and labour cooperation entered into between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and signed at Amman on June 28, 2009.

The general provisions of the enactment specify that no recourse may be taken on the basis of the provisions of Part 1 of the enactment or any order made under that Part, or the provisions of the Free Trade Agreement or the related agreements themselves, without the consent of the Attorney General of Canada.

Part 1 of the enactment approves the Free Trade Agreement and the related agreements and provides for the payment by Canada of its share of the expenditures associated with the operation of the institutional aspects of the Free Trade Agreement and the power of the Governor in Council to make orders for carrying out the provisions of the enactment.

Part 2 of the enactment amends existing laws in order to bring them into conformity with Canada’s obligations under the Free Trade Agreement and the related agreement on labour cooperation.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Canada-Jordan Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 1:20 p.m.
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South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary 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 ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal 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 ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP 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 ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 1:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal 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 ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 1:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc 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 ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 1:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal 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.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 1:50 p.m.
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Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Madam Speaker, I was riveted as I listened to the speech of the hon. member. He spoke glowingly of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. It struck me as a little odd. As I was listening to him I was also looking at some past issues of Hansard from 2000. I note the hon. member had this to say:

I was appalled at the recent national Liberal convention, which I attended as an observer for my party. I also was a commentator for CBC and CTV. I was there for the weekend and I felt a bit like an undercover rabbi at a PLO conference.

He went on to say:

It was an interesting experience, to say the least, but the fact is that what I learned disappointed me about the leadership of the Liberal Party at this time. Frankly, I had expected that the Prime Minister would have had a better idea of where the world was going...

The member said that when Chrétien was the prime minister. Could he could explain the change in his views since then?

Canada-Jordan Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 1:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, that reminds me of the time when John Maynard Keynes was involved in a debate and his opponents said, “Mr. Keynes, your view on monetary policy has changed dramatically over the last 20 years because 20 years ago this is what you said on monetary policy”. Keynes said, “Well, sir, the facts have changed and when the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

The facts are the Chrétien government and the Martin government understood the importance of China and India, as did the Mulroney government, as did the Diefenbaker government and the Trudeau government. The only government of any political stripe in Canada over the last 40 years to not understand the importance of engaging China has been the current Conservative government. It has betrayed a bipartisan commitment to engagement of China in developing Canadian jobs in China.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 1:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Absolutely, Madam Speaker. I will be looking forward to committee and to hearing from witnesses and hearing the potential impact that the agreement can have on the people of Jordan and the people of Canada in terms of the economic and social impact on both countries.

This is something we have done, for instance, at committee with the Canada-Colombia agreement. The overwhelming evidence is that the Canada-Colombia FTA will strengthen and improve the lives of Colombians, their economic opportunities and their rights and securities.

This is the kind of information we garner when we actually listen to witnesses with an open mind, as opposed to badgering them with ideological rhetoric, as has been the case with the NDP when witnesses appear.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 1:55 p.m.
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Bloc

Claude Guimond Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is the only party on Parliament Hill that truly defends the interests of Quebeckers, and it is the only party that has remained faithful to its values and principles. We are the only party with integrity.

The provisions of Bill C-57, to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, are such that the members of the Bloc Québécois can vote in favour of the agreement.

However, we want to express some criticisms that we hope will be taken into account and will help the Conservative Party and maybe even the Liberal Party change their approach. Despite the fact that we support Bill C-57, we feel that the Conservatives are wrong to negotiate bilateral agreements at the expense of multilateral agreements.

Why do we support this bill? Despite the fact that Jordan is, quite frankly, a small trading partner, an agreement with the country is in Quebec's best interests. In this time of economic turmoil, with a forestry industry in crisis, this agreement can give private woodlot owners and the forestry industry in Quebec a leg up.

The Conservative government's refusal to help the forestry sector as much as it helped Ontario's automotive sector is doing nothing of course to improve the situation facing thousands of workers who have been hit hard by the current forestry crisis.

Considering the fact that out of the $35 million worth that Quebec exports to Jordan, $25 million comes from the pulp and paper sector, the agreement in question would allow us to maintain this situation, for one, as well as offer new opportunities to our pulp and paper producers and to our private woodlot owners, of whom there are 130,000 in Quebec. It is also important to consider the fact that our trade balance with Jordan is in Quebec's favour.

Unlike Bill C-23, which we have been discussing for quite some time now in the House, that is, the free trade agreement between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, the agriculture that goes on in Jordan does not present a threat to Quebec farmers. The proof is that the Union des producteurs agricoles du Québec, of which I was once president for my region, supports this bill. However, despite the fact that natural ground and surface waters, in their liquid, gas or solid form, are excluded from the agreement by the enabling statute, the Bloc Québécois noted that this exclusion is not written into the text of the agreement itself.

That is why the Bloc Québécois would like to ensure that Quebec's major water resources are clearly excluded from the agreement, so that control over their development remains in the hands of Quebeckers and the Quebec nation.

Considering that Canada has already entered into a trade agreement with Israel, signing a similar agreement with a neighbouring country, whose relations with Israel can be difficult, would help show a certain balance in interests in the Middle East region.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 3:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Claude Guimond Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me the floor again so that I may continue to talk about the Bloc Québécois' observations of Bill C-57.

We agree with Bill C-57, Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act, but we have a few small comments to make that we hope will be considered by the government.

Considering that Canada has already entered into a trade agreement with Israel, signing a similar agreement with a neighbouring country, whose relations with Israel can be difficult, would help show a certain balance in our interests in the Middle East region. Such an agreement with Jordan would also send a positive message that Canada is open to cooperation.

Concluding this agreement would send a signal to other Middle Eastern countries wanting to develop better economic relations with the West.

The Bloc Québécois wants fair globalization. It is something to strive for and I hope the Conservatives will agree with us on this.

For the Bloc Québécois, it is out of the question to accept a free trade agreement that would be a race to the bottom and ignores human rights, workers' rights and the environment, not unlike Bill C-23, which we have been debating for a long time: the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement. That agreement is a very bad example of fair globalization.

The absence of environmental or labour standards in trade agreements puts a great deal of pressure on our industries, mainly our traditional industries. It is difficult for them to compete when products are made with no regard for basic social rights. It is difficult to compete with that type of business.

It is therefore increasingly important, at a time when we are still trying to define globalization, to have fair and balanced trade agreements. Let us choose a multilateral approach and limit bilateral agreements that do not allow for standards to be set to civilize trade.

That is what the Bloc Québécois really does not like about the Conservative government's strategy and its approach to negotiating trade agreements. Bill C-57 is no exception.

Quebec is not in a position to implement protectionist measures and rely solely on our domestic market. We have to pursue fair trade opportunities in the context of multilateral agreements.

Someday, Quebec will be a fully independent country, and we will represent ourselves internationally. In the meantime, the Bloc Québécois would like to propose some changes to Canada's trade priorities. Canada has moved toward trade liberalization and must now concentrate on developing regulations that will promote fairer trade. The Bloc Québécois believes that our trade policy must focus on fair globalization, not the shameless pursuit of profit at the expense of people and the environment in certain countries that clearly need help.

If Canada wants to maintain its credibility on this front, it should immediately sign on to the International Labour Organization's principal conventions against various forms of discrimination, forced labour and child labour, as well as those in support of the right to organize and collective bargaining.

The Bloc Québécois is urging the federal government to change its position on trade agreement negotiations to include provisions ensuring respect for international standards with respect to labour law, human rights and the environment.

In their current form, side agreements on minimum labour standards and environmental protection lack a binding mechanism that would make them truly effective.

The Bloc Québécois also wishes to reiterate its full confidence in the multilateral process. We believe that this in the only forum in which countries can work toward adopting regulations that will foster fairer globalization.

In closing, I want to say that the Bloc Québécois will only support future bilateral free trade agreements if it believes that they will benefit Quebec's economy. We want to see future free trade agreements contain provisions ensuring respect for minimum standards with respect to human rights, labour law and the environment.

That is what the Bloc Québécois calls fair globalization.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 3:55 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague, as I do twice a week at the Standing Committee on International Trade.

We are talking about an agreement with Jordan. True, Jordan is not Colombia, which is a very good thing. We all know just how appalling the situation is in Colombia.

That being said, there are nevertheless some problems related to human rights in Jordan. Problems have been identified by many workers who are not from Jordan and are mistreated. There are reports of sexual abuse and attacks against female workers who are from outside Jordan.

This agreement does not include any protection. There are side agreements on the environment and on labour, but those agreements are not legally binding, as the member well knows. These provisions do not require the government to take any action. Fortunately, more and more trade agreements from the European Union and South America have provisions requiring governments to take action.

Since these provisions are not legally binding, they cannot be used to force the government to take any measures regarding these worrisome issues. Does my colleague believe that this agreement goes far enough? Should it not be strengthened?

Canada-Jordan Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 4 p.m.
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Bloc

Claude Guimond Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comment and his question.

As I mentioned in my speech, the Bloc Québécois is convinced that bilateral agreements are not the best way to achieve fair trade. For that reason, every time we have the opportunity to talk about free trade agreements in committee or in this House, we tend to speak of multilateral globalization. We believe that multilateral globalization would raise the bar rather than lowering it. We also hope to enter into agreements that are of benefit to certain countries in order to provide them with the opportunity to improve human rights, environmental rights, labour rights and so forth.

In the debate on Bill C-57, a number of my colleagues will soon have the opportunity to criticize the agreement, which, like all the others introduced by the Conservative government, requires improvement and additional guarantees in order for Canada to enter into fairer free trade agreements with other countries on this planet.

Canada-Jordan Free Trade ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2009 / 4 p.m.
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Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques on his thorough knowledge of this file. We just recently received everything we needed. We undertook an analysis that we do not claim to be comprehensive in that there may be some minor items that we find puzzling.

We know that freedom of association may be affected. However, we must understand that this country has almost 1.7 million Muslim refugees, among others. If freedom of association is mentioned it may be to prevent Islamic gatherings. We know that there may be implications for the countries surrounding Jordan. These may be appropriate measures for the situation. For that reason, the committee must conduct a thorough analysis.

I would like to point out that the freedoms of associations such as unions may be affected. These issues must be examined in more detail. I know that my colleague is very interested in union freedoms and I would like to hear what he has to say about this.