Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Honduras, the Agreement on Environmental Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.


Ed Fast  Conservative


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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 environmental and labour cooperation entered into between Canada and the Republic of Honduras and done at Ottawa on November 5, 2013.
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 agreements 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 entered into between Canada and the Republic of Honduras.
Part 3 of the enactment contains coordinating amendments and the coming into force provision.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


June 10, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
June 4, 2014 Passed That Bill C-20, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Honduras, the Agreement on Environmental Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
June 4, 2014 Failed That Bill C-20 be amended by deleting Clause 1.
June 3, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-20, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Honduras, the Agreement on Environmental Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and five hours shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and that, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at report stage and the five hours provided for the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the said stages of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
March 31, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on International Trade.
March 6, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-20, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Honduras, the Agreement on Environmental Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Honduras, not more than one further sitting day after the day on which this Order is adopted shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2014 / 3:20 p.m.
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Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2014 / 3:25 p.m.
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Durham Ontario


Erin O'Toole ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in this House for my first speech of 2014, and welcome all my colleagues back, to speak about the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement.

This agreement represents yet another important step in the diversification of our trade relationships around the world and our efforts to find new markets and to grow markets for Canadian goods and services.

The priority of our government has been focused on opportunity and prosperity for Canadian families. This begins and ends with ensuring that our producers and firms have new markets to trade their wares. Trade leads to employment and prosperity for Canadian families. Whether in the towns of Bowmanville, Port Perry or Uxbridge in my riding or indeed in the cities and towns across the country, families are made stronger by the simple fact that mom or dad can find meaningful employment if they want to be engaged in the workplace.

Canadian exports already account for an astonishing one in five Canadian jobs. More than 40,000 Canadian companies are global exporters. Canadian companies and their innovative products are leaders in sectors ranging from aerospace, transportation and agriculture to information and communications technology.

With trade being critical to Canada's prosperity, Canada has long been a key architect of international trade rules at the World Trade Organization, through the free trade agreement with the United States and ultimately with NAFTA. Our country relies upon strong international agreements and treaties to counter protectionism and keep global markets open for our employers.

We remain very engaged and positive about our most important trade relationship with the United States. Trade with the United States has been a defining part of the Canadian story. From north-south mercantile trade before Confederation to the national policy of Sir John A. to the free trade agreement signed by the Conservative government in 1988, trade with our American friends has brought prosperity to generations of Canadian families.

The need to diversify Canadian trade relationships has been raised for decades because of a growing dependence on trade with the U.S., and this need to diversify came into sharp focus with the global recession in 2008.

In 2008, Canadian exports to the United States totalled $368 billion. The following year, amid the global economic crisis, these exports dropped to $270 billion. While there has been a recovery in the U.S. economy and exports have been rebounding, statistics from 2012 show that our exports to the U.S. still remain 10% below 2008 levels.

The strong economic leadership of our Prime Minister and this government has helped Canada weather the global turmoil better than most developed countries, but we cannot rest on our laurels when it comes to trade. We also must come up with a dual strategy that builds and strengthens our critical trade relationships now while also building new and growing markets to sell our goods and services.

The global economy is changing rapidly, and new markets are exploding around the world. Trade is helping lift millions out of poverty while also promoting peace and security through stronger international engagement.

Canada needs to pursue these new markets that are growing with gusto. We need not only to keep up with our global competitors but to leverage our natural advantages to penetrate new markets faster and deeper than our competitors. Standing still will not create jobs for Canadian families. Over time, inaction could erode our position in the world and our quality of life.

This is why our government has responded with an ambitious international trade agenda. Opening new markets for Canadian companies, large and small, is cornerstone to this plan, as we continue to grow the Canadian economy and the jobs in our economy created as a result of trade.

We have made significant progress on opening new markets for Canadian goods and services. Last October, the Prime Minister announced an agreement in principle on the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement, the most ambitious trade agreement Canada has ever negotiated.

Our agreement with the European Union would give Canadian companies preferential access to an economy of more than 500 million consumers and a $17 trillion GDP. That is tremendous opportunity.

A joint study by Canada and the EU, as part of our negotiations, concluded that our agreement with the European Union could boost Canada's GDP by $12 billion annually and increase bilateral trade by 20%. Most importantly, the deal could result in the creation of 80,000 net new jobs once the benefits of the Canada-EU trade agreement are realized.

While the Canada-EU trade agreement represents the culmination of many years of work with a group of nations, with our provincial stakeholders, with industries and with municipalities who are eager to access the 500 million consumers of Europe, our government has also been tirelessly pursuing trade opportunities in markets of all sizes.

Since 2007, our government has concluded free trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, Jordan and Morocco. New agreements and relationships are being struck while existing ones are being expanded. We have also concluded or brought into force 22 new or updated foreign investment promotion and protection agreements to provide better access to growing global markets for Canadian exporters, while also providing more certainty in these markets through the secure framework that a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement offers. It gives me great pleasure to advise the House that Honduras will soon be yet another market that we have opened for Canadian employers through this Canada-Honduras free trade agreement.

While our EU deal represents Canadian opportunities across the pond for exporters, there are also tremendous opportunities here in the Americas. Total merchandise trade between Canada and the countries in the Americas stood at $56.2 billion in 2012. This has increased by 32% in the last six years alone. Canadian direct investment in the Americas totalled $168 billion in 2012 and has increased by 59% over the same period.

We are already engaged in South America and Central America, and our government knows that we need to do more in our own backyard. Canada's trade agenda is not just about the planes, trains and automobiles we manufacture in Canada—and great ones, to boot—nor does it only represent natural resources and agricultural products. We are increasingly pursuing markets for our intellectual property, academic excellence and delivery of professional services around the world.

Canada is very much engaged in negotiations surrounding the trade in services agreement, which would provide a secure legal framework and new market access for Canadian service suppliers in many of the world's most important and growing service markets. We also remain an active participant in multilateral negotiations at the World Trade Organization, where just a few weeks ago Canada helped conclude a trade facilitation agreement that will boost trade by cutting red tape for Canadian companies.

However, we are not just stopping there. Canada is also committed to advancing our ongoing free trade negotiations with other partners in the Caribbean, in Morocco and here in the Americas. We are also looking for new opportunities to grow Canada's international trade and are undertaking exploratory discussions with Thailand and Turkey to determine what benefits Canadians and Canadian employers could see from trade agreements with these partners in the future.

In addition, we continue to update our existing free trade agreements to ensure that Canada remains a global leader in trade and commerce. We recently announced the modernization of the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement. This expansion and modernization builds on an agreement that dates back to 1997 and a trade relationship that is now worth over $2.5 billion. The updated agreement with Chile includes the addition of a new financial services chapter, which will help world-class Canadian financial institutions develop new markets in the areas of banking, insurance and asset management in Chile. It also includes new roles on government procurement, customs procedures and dispute settlement.

As members are aware, the Prime Minister announced last week that we would also modernize our existing free trade agreement with Israel.

The Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement really has been a cornerstone of a growing and important relationship for our country. While our countries enjoy a sophisticated trade relationship, an updated free trade agreement with Israel would enhance bilateral commercial flows by reducing technical barriers, enhancing co-operation, increasing transparency in regulatory matters and reducing transaction costs for exporters.

It would also create greater visibility for Canadian companies in the Israeli and Middle Eastern market and support closer ties with this dynamic economy and important democracy in the Middle East.

It is clear that the government is working hard to ensure that Canadians reap the economic benefits of global trade, which as I said at the outset, accounts for one in five jobs in Canada.

The Canada-Honduras free trade agreement is part of our efforts to liberalize trade with our partners here in the Americas. It is also a realization of our global markets action plan, which will grow existing and important trade relationships while forging new ones around the world.

The Americas offer great potential. Trade has been growing dramatically in the last six years, as I said. We also need to promote increased mutual economic sharing of ideas and increase engagement.

Canada's strategy for engagement in the Americas focuses on intensifying trade promotion and relationship-building efforts, to ensure that the Canadian private sector can take full advantage of the trade and economic agreements, as well as helping to build the capacity of our trading partners to capitalize on the benefits of free trade with Canada and the benefits that come along with a growing and emerging middle class in many of these countries.

Canada is committed to a strong economic partnership with Honduras that would contribute to enhanced prosperity and sustainable economic growth for both our countries in the long term.

This Canada-Honduras free trade agreement is a key component in advancing the goals of Canada's strategy for engagement in the Americas and would support our growing commercial and social relationship with that country.

Canada's two-way merchandise trade with Honduras grew by 46% in the last six years. Canadian companies are active in Honduras in the areas of apparel production and mining. However, there are other sectors of huge potential opportunity, such as green building, clean technologies and information and communities technologies, to name just a few.

Once implemented, the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement would eliminate tariffs on 98% of the tariff lines going both ways. We would gain better access to a growing market in our hemisphere, with grain and oilseeds, beef, pork, potatoes and processed foods being some of the early and big winners and the potential for more industries and, particularly, service areas, as the relationship with Honduras develops over time.

Canada's Trade Commissioner Service already works with Canadian companies that are interested in doing business in Honduras. These are recognizable and important employers across Canada, such as Gildan Activewear, Aura Minerals and Canadian Bank Note, to name just a few.

Once the trade agreement is ratified, our trade commissioners would ensure that companies, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, are aware of how they could benefit from this free trade agreement so that they could take full advantage of the greater transparency, stability and protection the agreement would provide in the Honduran market.

In addition to opening doors for Canadian companies and building our trade relationship, Canada is also committed to supporting Honduras in other ways.

Canada and Honduras first established diplomatic relations in 1961 and have a broad and diverse relationship, driven by a wide range of links and collaboration, from political dialogue and commercial exchange to people-to-people ties, as well as long-standing and substantial Canadian development co-operation.

We maintain an open dialogue with the Government of Honduras, as we believe that engagement is the best way for us to help Honduras meet its challenges, grow its economy and promote stability.

Engagement on all levels will grow prosperity and security for Hondurans.

As one of the 20 countries of focus for Canada's development assistance, Honduras is Canada's largest bilateral program in Central America and the fourth largest in the hemisphere. In 2011-2012, Canada provided over $39 million to the country through all development channels. This makes it the largest bilateral donor in all of Honduras and the sixth largest overall donor in the hemisphere.

Canada's development program will support and promote economic opportunities in Honduras in a way that will allow its trade with Honduras to grow steadily over time.

It is our view that prosperity, security, and democratic governance, including full respect for human rights, are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. Increased prosperity through trade can contribute to the reduction of poverty and social exclusion by increasing economic opportunity for all Hondurans. Once ratified, this free trade agreement would be a cornerstone of our bilateral relationship with Honduras and would benefit both our countries.

This is a comprehensive trade deal that would give Canadian businesses a secure and predictable framework in a growing Honduran marketplace. The United States and the European Union already enjoy free trade with Honduras, so it is especially important that we ratify this agreement and put Canadian companies on a level playing field with our main competitors.

Let me turn to some specific examples of the benefits of the Canada-Honduras trade agreement. First and foremost, it would help make Canadian products more attractive in the Honduran market by eliminating tariffs. Today Canadian exports to Honduras face average tariffs in the 11% range for agriculture and the 5% range for non-agricultural goods. Once the agreement is in place, Honduras would immediately eliminate tariffs on almost 70% of its tariff lines in respect of goods imported from Canada.

This agreement represents an important component of our government's global markets action plan. This plan would coordinate the funding and expertise inherent in our foreign policy, trade, and development arms, and focus them in countries where we can make a difference, recognizing that benefiting the social and human rights of a country will also help benefit its local economy. Jobs for Hondurans will help promote stability in the country.

This government is on an unparalleled track for promoting the trade of our goods and services across the world. The Canada-E.U. trade agreement represents a huge leap in terms of global trade agreements in that it will provide opportunities for Canadian exporters in a market of 500 million people while it also allows penetration right down to services and mutual recognition of professions. It really is taking trade agreements into this new millennium.

In my riding of Durham, one in five jobs relates to trade. The communities of Uxbridge, Scugog, and Clarington need these new markets for their goods, particularly at a time when the American market is slowly rebounding from the 2008 world economic crisis.

Our government is firmly committed to building new markets for our goods and services to maintain the job creation that trade promotes. These deals are not just with mammoth markets of 500 million people, like the Canada-E.U. trade deal. They are also in other important areas of the world, such as Georgia and Morocco and now Honduras. There our trade, our prioritization of our services, and our engagement through our global markets action plan could not only promote trade in that country but could also promote stability and engagement in a range of labour, environmental, and other areas.

This is a pivotal part of our government's global markets action plan. It is a pivotal part of keeping Canadian families employed and engaged. I am truly hoping all members of the House will support this important agreement.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, extending preferential trade terms to other countries is a major economic privilege, and countries that are democratic and that respect environmental, human rights, and labour standards are deserving of this extension.

The government of Honduras was essentially installed in a military coup in 2009. It has conducted two flawed elections since then that have been roundly condemned as corrupt. It violates its citizens' human rights; suppresses freedom of speech and association; tolerates killings, kidnappings, and the arbitrary detention of thousands of its citizens; has the highest murder rate in the world; is the planet's most dangerous place for journalists; represses the media, opposition, and citizens who peacefully express their political views; is a major drug trafficking centre, with 80% of cocaine shipments from South America; has an average of 10 massacres per month; and allows paramilitary squads to operate with impunity.

Canadians would not support a free trade agreement with the government of Ukraine, North Korea, or Iran. Why does the government believe it should support an agreement with Honduras that has an equally bad record of violating the democratic and human rights standards not only of Honduras but of Canada and the world?

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, what troubles me about the position of the New Democratic Party on trade is that its members are continuing their decades-long, almost generations-long, opposition to trade of any kind. In fact, the hon. member, in an interview with The Huffington Post, when talking about countries like Honduras, Peru, and Chile, which are important countries and allies of ours in the Americas, said that these countries should not be considered. He actually said that they have no strategic value for Canada.

That is not diplomacy at its finest. We are about promoting economic opportunity and jobs in massive markets, like the 500 million the Canada-European Union trade agreement will lead to, but also in smaller markets, where our input and our engagement will actually benefit Hondurans and will promote stability in that region.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, one has to ask: Where will the government not go just to add another number and say that we now have x number of trade agreements? That is what it is all about.

I listened to the words of the parliamentary secretary. He went to great lengths to use all the right words in all the right places, but the facts on trade do not bear out his words. This is the first government that has had a trade deficit in 30 years. He talked about the CETA agreement at great length, not Honduras, and he said it could create x number of jobs. Could? We have not even seen the text yet. It has not even been presented in the Parliament of Canada.

What he did say, though, was that there are new rules on dispute settlements. I have a question on that. In 32 of the last 44 months, they have had a trade deficit. In the dispute settlement in our agreement with the United States, Canada's beef industry is suffering badly because of the aged cattle restriction the Americans have and because of the COOL agreement.

Instead of negotiating with Honduras, which has a terrible human rights record, what are Conservatives doing to settle the trade dispute with the United States, which really matters to Canadian farmers?

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the member's question or statement, he asked what lengths we would go to. I think it is clear that this government will go and sell Canadian goods and services abroad as much as possible if it will lead to jobs here at home.

I would remind the hon. member that in the 13 years of the Liberal government, it signed three trade agreements. In fact, during the Prime Minister's recent trip to Israel, we are expanding on the less than ambitious trade deal the Liberals signed with that country.

We are clearly about promoting trade for our country. As I said, I used the European deal as an example. In big markets and in small markets, if there is a win for Canadians and our world-class goods, services, and products, we will be there for Canadians.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I was enormously grateful to the member for Vancouver Kingsway for so clearly reciting the reasons the bill before us is odious, as is the trade agreement.

This trade deal is with a country that has just had a populist democratic leader knocked out by a coup. It has a military regime that suppresses human rights, indigenous rights, and labour rights, but we would rush to an agreement that would only benefit certain parts of Canada.

I love my country, but an agreement like this would support Canadian mining companies’ taking advantage of indigenous rights in other countries. It would give a Canadian mining company the kind of rights that I do not want the Chinese state-owned enterprises to have, which is to bring arbitration cases against us if we toughen our laws. This agreement would work against the interests of equity, democracy, civil society, and human rights in Honduras.

I would beg my hon. friend, the parliamentary secretary, who is an honourable friend, to have nothing to do with promoting this agreement.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands and welcome her back to a new year of jousting in this place.

I think there is a philosophical disagreement with our government and the opposition, including the Green Party, which really wants to isolate Canadians and isolate our opportunity to create jobs. While our largest trading partner is having slow growth, we are out selling our markets and our goods and services, but we are also engaging.

I think the hon. member should look and see that this agreement has a corporate social responsibility component, it has a labour component, and it has an environmental component.

I believe firmly that engagement, and elevating struggling countries into the global community, where these things are taken very seriously, would not only enhance those countries but also deal with those root issues. Our global markets action plan not only targets the economic opportunities that trade promotes, but it also strengthens our diplomatic work by targeting some of our aid and targeting our diplomacy, and growing jobs at the same time.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the parliamentary secretary's comments, and I want to say that he was right about our parties having different philosophies on the importance of free trade.

That is not what matters in this case though. What matters is knowing who we are signing this treaty with.

The Conservatives cannot guarantee that the current Honduran government will not use this free trade agreement to facilitate illegal shipments of cocaine. That is what it comes down to.

Crime rates in Honduras are 50 times higher than in Canada. There is no doubt that the political authorities in that country are crime bosses.

How can the Conservatives ask us to sign an agreement with people so mired in crime? How can they themselves be willing to sign it? That is the question.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important to note that we are trading with Honduras now. It is a key destination for our aid now. It is trading and has free trade agreements with the United States and with the European Union, now, putting Canadian job creators at a disadvantage.

My position has been clear. I would ask the member to challenge his colleagues, in a party that has been isolationist and anti-trade for 50 years, by saying that this is a way we can engage with countries, to actually help lift their economy out of much more difficult circumstances while also promoting job creation here in our country. Our changes to DFATD would make sure that we not only target economic opportunity but that it be alongside aid, engagement, and institution building. This would actually help the people of Honduras. The isolation of the opposition would do no good.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2014 / 3:55 p.m.
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Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats believe that Canadians recognize the importance of trade to our economy and want an effective, strategic trade policy that expands trade opportunities and supports Canadian exporters.

We believe that Canadians want a trade policy that produces good jobs in our communities and encourages the development of value-added production to our many resources here in Canada.

We believe that Canadians want a trade policy that strengthens our economic relationships with growing significant economics that add strategic value to the Canadian economy.

We believe that Canadians want trade agreements that preserve our ability to legislate in the public interest, protect our social programs, and promote local economic development.

We believe that Canadians want their government to pursue a balanced trade policy that builds trade and at the same time fosters positive democratic development, human rights, and environmental standards, both in Canada and in the nations with whom we trade.

New Democrats also know that Canadians care about the process by which we implement trade policy. Canadians want an open, transparent, and accountable process in all aspects of the development of trade policy and agreements.

Canadians want and deserve to be consulted about their priorities and kept advised about the progress of trade negotiations. After all, they know that trade agreements are not negotiated on behalf of political parties or special interests but are negotiated on behalf of all Canadians and all sectors of our economy. This is particularly the case as trade agreements have become more comprehensive and increasingly deal with areas of policy that have historically been considered to be of purely domestic concern.

Since the Conservatives took office in 2006, by all objective measurements Canada's trade performance has been deplorable.

In 2006, the Conservatives inherited a current account surplus of some $18 billion. Today, after eight years in power, Canada has a current account deficit of $62 billion. That is a negative swing of some $80 billion, an average decline of $10 billion for every year the Conservatives have been in power.

Over the last two years, even as we have pulled slowly out of the global recession, Canada has experienced 23 consecutive months of merchandise trade deficits.

We have also seen an alarming shift in the quality of our exports. Under the Conservatives, there has been an increase in the percentage of our exports that are raw or barely processed, reversing a decades-long trend toward an increase in our value-added products. Nor can this poor performance be explained away by the recession that Canada experienced between 2008 and 2011.

A comparison by the Library of Parliament of Canada's trade performance to 17 other countries around the world between 2006 and 2012, countries that experienced the exact same global recession, collapse in commodity prices, and currency fluctuations, found that Canada came dead last in current account performance.

This poor trade record is consistent with the Conservatives’ poor performance economically, across the board. A look at major economic metrics provides comprehensive evidence of the government's economic failure since it took office in 2006.

I hear laughing on that side, but we will see if those members still laugh after hearing these statistics.

The national unemployment rate in 2006 was 6.6%; today it is 7.2%. The youth unemployment rate in 2006 was 12.2%; today it is 14%. Among the 34 OECD nations in employment creation since 2006, Canada ranks 20th. The number of governments since 1935, in the last 80 years, that presided over a slower rate of real economic growth per capita is zero. The per cent of our federal debt accumulated since 2006 is one fifth. The percentage increase in our real average manufacturing wage from 2006 to now is zero. The percentage drop in productivity since the Conservatives came to power is a negative 1.9%.

The conclusion is obvious. The Conservatives have had eight years to implement their trade and economic policies, and the unacceptable results are there for all to see.

The Bank of Canada has explicitly stated that a major contributing factor to Canada's stalled economic performance is due to our under-performance on the trade file.

Canada is a trading nation. Our economy is historically, and continues to be, substantially dependent on our export sector and increasingly, with global supply chains and integrated production, on our import experience as well.

It is therefore vital that Canada implement a smart, effective trade policy and pursue well-negotiated beneficial trade agreements with strategically important growing and significant economies that will help Canadian businesses and create good jobs for Canadians.

That brings us to the matter before the House: Bill C-20.

With all the issues and deeply entrenched problems facing Canada's trade sector, what do the Conservatives bring to this Parliament today? They bring Canadians a free trade agreement with Honduras. Now, this is not surprising. Although the Conservatives like to brag about the trade agreements they have concluded in the last eight years, the facts, again, tell a different story. In truth, they have concluded a total of six trade agreements with the following countries: Jordan; Panama; Peru; Colombia; a goods-only agreement with four small European countries including Liechtenstein and Iceland; and now Honduras.

As is obvious, these are agreements with small economies of limited strategic interest to Canada. Trade agreements with major developed and developing economies like Japan, India, South Korea, Brazil, China, and South Africa—agreements that would have a material and positive benefit for the Canadian economy, if negotiated well—the Conservatives have been unable to conclude.

New Democrats believe that we should apply three important criteria to assess trade agreements.

First, is the proposed partner a democracy that respects human rights, adheres to acceptable environmental standards and Canadian values, and if there are challenges regarding these, can it fairly be said that they are on a positive trajectory toward these goals?

Second, is the proposed partner's economy of significant and strategic value to Canada?

Third, are the terms of the proposed agreement acceptable?

The proposed free trade agreement with Honduras fails this test. Again, let us look at the facts, and take a closer look at the country to which the current Conservative government wants Canadians to extend preferential trade benefits and closer economic relations.

Honduras is a country with a seriously flawed human rights record; weak institutions; corrupt police and army; and a history, both entrenched and recent, of repressive, undemocratic politics. The last democratically elected government, that of President Manuel Zelaya, was toppled by a military coup in June 2009. This coup was staged by the Honduran army under the pretext of a constitutional crisis that had developed between the supreme court and the president. Following the coup, the government suspended key civil liberties, including freedom of the press and assembly. In the ensuing days, security forces responded to peaceful demonstrations with excessive force and shut down opposition media outlets, causing deaths, scores of injuries, and thousands of arbitrary detentions. The coup was widely condemned around the world, including by all Latin American nations, the European Union, the United States, and the UN General Assembly.

In January 2010, Porfirio Lobo Sosa assumed the presidency through what has overwhelmingly been deemed undemocratic and illegitimate means. Of course, holding an election mere months after the violent military overthrow of the elected administration is hardly an acceptable context for a free and fair election. Indeed, most foreign governments and election-monitoring agencies refused even to send observers, and many countries rejected the results of the election. The recent election held in November 2013 has similarly been condemned by independent observers.

Since 2009, NGOs of all types have documented serious human rights abuses. Extra-judicial killings; kidnappings of political figures; intimidation of citizens; severe restrictions on public demonstrations, protest, and freedom of expression; and interference in the independence of the judiciary are well established in Honduras.

Here are some basic facts from independent sources about the situation in Honduras.

Honduras ranks 85th out of 167 on the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2012 democracy index. That is a slide from being 74th; in other words, it is getting worse.

Honduras is now classified as a “hybrid regime”, rather than its previous designation as a “flawed democracy”.

Transparency International ranks Honduras as the “most corrupt country in Central America”, which is no small feat. It is a major drug-smuggling centre, and it has the worst income equality in the region. The U.S. state department estimates that 79% of all cocaine shipments originating in South America land in Honduras. Drugs move from South America through countries like Honduras and other Central American states into Mexico and the United States and Canada.

Independent observers have noted the increasing levels of violence, as well as organized criminal and gang activity associated with the trade in illegal narcotics. According to The Economist, “the countries in 'the northern triangle' of the Central American isthmus”—and that includes Honduras—“form what is now the most violent region on earth”.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that in 2011 there were 92 murders per 100,000 people per year in Honduras, making it the most violent country in Latin America. In 2012, Honduras became the murder capital of the world, reaching a record high of 7,172 homicides in 2012, or 81 per 100,000 people.

In 2013, on average there have been 10 massacres per month, according to the investigative website InSight Crime, which defines “massacre” as an instance where three or more people are murdered at one time. In the previous four years, fewer than 20% of homicide cases have been investigated, let alone prosecuted.

As pointed out by the Americas Policy Group, this high level of impunity serves to mask political violence.

Since 2010, there have been more than 200 politically motivated killings and Honduras is now regarded as the world's most dangerous place for journalists. According to a 2013 Human Rights Watch report, Honduras has the region's highest rate of journalists killed per capita, with some 23 having been assassinated in the last three years alone. According to the Honduran national human rights commission, 36 journalists were killed between 2003 and mid-2013, and 29 have been killed since President Lobo took office.

Today, journalists in Honduras continue to suffer threats, attacks and killings, and authorities consistently fail to investigate these crimes effectively. Peasant activists and LGBT individuals are particularly vulnerable to attacks, yet the government routinely fails to prosecute those responsible.

In June 2013, 24 U.S. senators signed a letter expressing concern about the human rights situation in Honduras. Ninety-four members of Congress have called on the U.S. State Department to halt all military aid to Honduras in light of its violent repression of political activity.

At least 16 activists and candidates from the main opposition party, LIBRE, were assassinated since June of 2012, and 15 more have been attacked. On August 25, 2013, just months ago, three leaders of the indigenous Tolupan were shot and killed. There are extensively documented cases of police corruption, with 149 extrajudicial killings by police recorded between January 2011 and November 2012 alone.

In January 2013, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers called the dismissal of four Supreme Court justices by the Honduran government a violation of international norms and a grave threat to democracy.

This is what Mr. Neil Reeder, the director general of the Latin America and Caribbean bureau in DFAIT testified before committee:

...institutions...are...weak. Impunity is pervasive and corruption is a challenge.

Corruption within the Honduran police force is a particular problem, which the Government of Honduras...recognizes. Largely because Central America is situated between the drug-producing countries of South America and the drug-consuming countries to the north, Honduras...[has] been particularly affected by the growth of transnational drug trafficking, human trafficking, and the impact of organized crime.

Another element of the violence affecting Honduras is the presence of street gangs, known as maras, which rely on extortion and other forms of crime as...income. Honduras has more of these gangs than all other Central American countries combined, and their activities contribute to crime and insecurity in the country. Honduras now has...the highest homicide rates in the world, at 81 per 100,000, as compared with 1.8 per 100,000 in Canada.

This is the profile of the country that the Conservative government wants Canada to extend preferential trade access and closer economic relations to.

In terms of significance to the Canadian economy, the facts reveal the following.

Honduras ranks 120th out of 186 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. The World Bank categorizes Honduras as a lower-middle income country, and Honduras suffers from extremely unequal income distribution, extreme social inequality, high unemployment, poor health and education. This is the country that the government wants Canadian businesses to compete with.

Honduras is currently Canada's 104th export market in terms of export value. In 2012 merchandise exports totalled a meagre $38 million and imports $218 million, marking a significant trade deficit. Internal DFAIT analyses confirm that only marginal benefits for the Canadian economy are expected from this deal.

Although Canada's extractive sector has interests in Honduras, Canadian mining companies have been ensnared in controversial local struggles with citizens and indigenous groups and face allegations of environmental contamination.

In terms of the process used by the Conservatives to arrive at this deal, there has been a complete lack of transparency in the negotiation process of this trade agreement. Despite repeated demands by civil society in Canada, the Government of Canada failed to make public the text of the agreement during the negotiation process, and further, the government's token environmental impact assessment of the free trade agreement, released in October, omitted any assessment of the impact of Canadian investments in Honduras because these figures are considered “confidential”.

Also, as is usually the case with the Conservatives, they have allowed no opportunity for either this Parliament or Canadians themselves to comment upon or influence the agreement before it is signed. We are left with a choice of only voting yes or no. The labour and environmental side agreements are inadequate, given that they are not accompanied by any real enforcement mechanism to ensure they are adhered to. Through the investment chapter of the Canada-Honduras trade agreement, corporations can sue the Canadian government in international tribunals, hindering Canada's ability to make decisions aimed at protecting the public good.

Considering that Honduras is an undemocratic country with weak institutions and low standards, and is of insignificant strategic interest and has a record of serious human rights abuses, New Democrats believe that the majority of Canadians would not agree that preferential trade terms be accorded such a nation.

What the New Democrat opposition wants is a strategic trade policy where we restart multinational negotiations, where we sign trade deals with developed countries that have high standards and developing countries that are on positive trajectories. These are countries like Japan, India, Brazil and South Africa. These are the countries we should be signing trade agreements with, not undemocratic countries like Honduras that are drug trafficking centres, human rights violators and have low standards that will hurt Canadian business.

I could do no better than to adopt the words spoken by two Canadians, Mr. Garry Neil and Ms. Stacey Gomez, who said:

...we really do not believe that it is good public policy for the government to be pursuing trade and investment agreements that are economically basically meaningless with volatile and undemocratic nations like Honduras....

We have long maintained that under the right conditions, trade can generate growth and support the realization of human rights. These conditions simply do not exist in Honduras. Canada should refrain from signing the FTA with Honduras until there is a verifiable improvement in the country’s democratic governance and human rights situation. Until these things are achieved, the Canada-Honduras FTA will do more harm than good.

I believe these are wise words. New Democrats will vote against the agreement accordingly, and I urge all members who want trade to be a positive force in the world economically, politically, socially and environmentally to join us in doing so as well.

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January 29th, 2014 / 4:10 p.m.
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Durham Ontario


Erin O'Toole ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and friend from the trade committee for his speech. He clearly has a future in diplomacy.

My question for him really relates to a multi-generational issue. I am not talking about the last few decades, but the multi-generational isolationist policy of the New Democratic Party, opposing every trade deal, and even the auto pact that brought prosperity to Canadian families.

My friend listed off a range of countries, but in my experience the NDP has opposed free trade with the U.S., NAFTA, and it does double-speak on CETA, the European trade deal. The NDP has never supported trade with any other country but has followed a multi-generational isolationism.

What would the member's strategic plan be for growing those one in five jobs attributable to trade in Canada?

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January 29th, 2014 / 4:10 p.m.
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Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for that question, but again, decision-based fact-making seems to typify his government.

The auto pact was actually opposed by the Conservatives, and the New Democrats pointed out problems, but it passed in this very chamber on division. In fact, there was no one who opposed the auto pact. The auto pact has actually come to serve as a model of the kind of sectoral trade agreement that actually benefits our country. It was actually under this government that the auto pact was eliminated.

It is also the case that the New Democrats supported the last trade agreement with Jordan, which serves as a good contrast with the present agreement. Jordan is a developing country, but is on a positive trajectory. It is raising its employment standards. It raised its minimum wage three times in the past four years and has signed on to ILO labour rights standards. Also, it does not have a history of murdering its citizens, throwing them in jail and killing journalists. However, that is what is happening in Honduras. That is the issue before us today.

I set out quite clearly what the New Democrats' position on trade would be. It would be to sign well-structured, good trade agreements that advance the Canadian economy with developed countries who adhere to good standards and developing countries who adhere to normative international standards. We would not advocate signing a trade agreement today with Iran or North Korea.

Why does the government not bring forward a trade agreement with those countries? If it really believes that signing trade agreements is the way to elevate human rights, it should sign a trade agreement with Iran. It will not do that because Iran does not conform to acceptable international standards. Those are exactly the same criteria we are applying to the agreement here today.

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January 29th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.
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Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments by the member and want to look at trade in a broader sense of international trade more generally, whether with or without agreements.

The member talked about many of the concerns with regard to Honduras. Today we have trade with Honduras. We have a considerable amount of trade with many countries with which there are concerns regarding to issues like human rights, environmental law and so forth.

Given the member's comments, I am led to believe that the Government of Canada should look at ways of minimizing trade with countries about which we have concerns regarding human rights and issues such as he has pointed out. Is that ultimately what the NDP would like to see happen?

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January 29th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.
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Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course the issue before this House is Bill C-20, which is a trade agreement that purports to extend special trade preferences to a particular country.

Trade occurs every day in this world, and the hon. member is quite correct about that; but when we sign a trade agreement, we are singling out a specific jurisdiction for special treatment. I view that, and I think Canadians view that, as a privilege that ought to be earned by that country, and we should be selective about which countries we accord such a preference. Those countries should be selected based on how much they will improve the economy of Canada and whether they conform to acceptable standards of conduct.

Ultimately, there are some cases in the world, such as Iran today, where, if their conduct becomes so egregious, then Canada and other countries will actually implement trade restrictions on the country. They will freeze assets and restrict trade, and that is ultimately a tool available.

That is not what we are advocating, but that Canada pursue a better trade policy with responsible nations and not extend preferences to countries that are so atrocious in their behaviour domestically.