Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has finally seen the light and understands how important it is to quickly ratify the CPTPP.
At long last, Canada may soon ratify the agreement reached in 2015. We hope this will happen quickly. Members will recall that the CPTPP was one of the Prime Minister's first missteps on the international stage. I would like to quote a few articles, including this one:
“Prime Minister a no-show at meeting.”
I would like to give the House a quick reminder of what happened.
“Ten leaders from countries remaining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were left “red-faced” by Canadian Prime Minister...when he did not turn up at a TPP-11 leaders meeting.”
Here is some of the reaction:
Shinzo Abe announced that “the signing was off” because the Prime Minister would not attend.
Steve Ciobo called it a 'disappointing development'.
Some ministers said that the Prime Minister got “cold feet” because of looming elections in Quebec.
What motivates this party's actions? Not the national economy. The answer is political trends and partisanship. Why do I think that? Because when the other countries reached an agreement last spring, we could have made short work of Bill C-79 here in the House. The government could have introduced Bill C-79 back in May, and we could have started working on it then. Had that been the case, we would already have ratified the agreement, and we would have been one of the first six countries to do so. However, the government sat on the bill until the last week before the break, at which point it was too late to start working on it.
The official opposition moved two motions for the unanimous consent of the House to get on with studying the bill quickly and adopting it as written. Obviously, that did not happen. Now the government says it is going to act fast. I just do not get it. This has all been such a disappointment. Anyway, if the past is any indication, we know that they do not always walk the talk.
I have a lot more to say about this, but I will not have enough time because I am sharing my time with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. He has a lot to say about Bill C-79 too.
Our leader, the Leader of the Opposition, sent a letter to the Prime Minister this summer, asking him to act more quickly so that we would not miss the opportunity to be among the first six countries to sign the CPTPP.
I would now like to read a few excerpts from the letter our leader sent to the Prime Minister. I think it is important that Canadians know where we stood at the time and why we were asking him to act quickly.
These actions by the United States threaten the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of Canadians. This is even more worrying given the U.S. government's repeated threats to impose 25% tariffs on the auto sector. On this file, Canada's Conservatives' most pressing priority is to protect Canadian jobs and industry by having tariffs removed from Canadian steel and aluminium and by stopping new tariffs from being imposed.
The same is true today. He also wrote:
Conservatives have always supported diversifying our trading relationships around the world, which is why the previous Conservative government had the foresight to conclude free trade negotiations and investment agreements with 53 countries, including the countries of the original trans-Pacific partnership and the 28 countries of CETA, which concluded in 2014.
Our leader continued:
...it is even more urgent that we act to expand and diversify our trading relationships.
That is why he called on the Prime Minister to:
...request that the Speaker recall the House of Commons pursuant to Standing Order 28(3) as soon as possible this summer [exceptionally] to debate and pass Bill C-79, the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership implementation act.
The leader cited the Peterson Institute for International Economics which:
...estimated that the original TPP, which was negotiated and concluded by the previous Conservative government, would boost Canadian income by $20 billion over the next decade.
This request was flatly rejected by the government. We do not understand why.
We were ready to get to work and spend part of the summer ensuring that this bill is passed as soon as possible. Why it is so important for us to be among the first six countries? It is simple. It is because after the first six signatures, after six countries enshrine the agreement, the CPTPP comes into effect within 60 days. If we are not there during that time, all the good agreements for exporting and importing with those countries will already have been concluded with the first six signatory countries. Canada will be left with crumbs.
The last one to arrive at the table in a large family gets whatever is left and often that is nothing at all. That is why we think it is absolutely urgent and necessary to ratify the CPTPP quickly.
We will obviously work with the government to adopt the CPTPP as quickly as possible, because it is important to our industry and to farmers. The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance held two press conferences. They held a press conference and send out a press release to explain why we must adopt the CPTPP as quickly as possible. According to research commissioned by the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, this trade pact could increase Canadian agri-food exports by nearly $2 billion annually for a variety of agriculture products including beef, pork, grains, canola, pulses, soybeans, barley, sugar, and processed foods.
That is the reality. We are talking about the economy. Canadian jobs will be in jeopardy if we do not move fast enough. We are deeply disappointed that the government took too long to finally grasp how important it was to sign the CPTPP as quickly as possible.
I hope the government finally gets it, for the sake of the people who produce these agriculture products, including beef, pork, grains, canola, pulses, soybeans, barley, sugar and processed foods.
I would like to move on to another sector covered by the agreement that is raising some serious concerns. I am referring to the supply management sector. The agreement requires Canada to make concessions on supply management. Under the old agreement, the previous Conservative government foresaw that there would be consequences for producers in supply-managed sectors. That was why we instituted a 10-year compensation plan.
The compensation plan provided up to $4 billion for producers in supply-managed sectors. We created it because we felt it was important to recognize that even though we had succeeded in negotiating a global economic agreement that was good for Canada, we had had to sacrifice part of the supply management quota, and producers deserved to be compensated accordingly. We allocated $4 billion, including $450 million for facility upgrades.
The response of the current government has been to offer no compensation program whatsoever. No wonder people are worried today. No announcements have been made on this subject, and no empathy has been shown towards producers in supply-managed sectors, even though they have willingly sacrificed part of their quotas for the good of the Canadian economy.
The government created a little $350-million program to modernize farms and support processors. The Conservatives' plan allocated $450 million, in addition to more than $3 billion to protect quotas and offset the losses that supply-managed farmers could experience once the TPP is implemented.
In short, the official opposition will support ratifying the CPTPP as quickly as possible, because this agreement is important to our economy. Once again, I hope that the Liberal government will not screw this up come signing time, and I hope that everyone will be there. I hope that we do not end up being a laughingstock on the world stage.