An Act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and to make related amendments to other Acts

Status

In committee (House), as of Nov. 7, 2018

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act in order to implement the Canada – Israel Free Trade Amending Protocol 2018 signed on May 28, 2018.

In order to modernize the text of the Act and by that reflect the amendments brought about by the Protocol, this enactment repeals the preamble to that Act and amends the definition of Agreement, the provision setting out the purpose of the Act and the provisions related to the operation of the institutional and administrative aspects of the Agreement. It also amends that Act in order to confer on the Governor in Council the power to make orders in accordance with the amended Agreement.

Finally, the enactment amends certain Acts to bring them into conformity with Canada’s obligations resulting from the amendments brought about by the Protocol.

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.

Votes

Nov. 7, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-85, An Act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and to make related amendments to other Acts

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

November 7th, 2018 / 5 p.m.
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Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be sharing my time with the member for Essex.

I am very proud to speak to Bill C-85. However, before I go into the bill itself, it is quite interesting to see the work our government has done in the last year. This is fourth trade deal on the table. That is very impressive, without a doubt, keeping in mind that 60% of our GDP is from trade deals, so no trade deals, no economy. That is pretty well how I would describe it. Therefore, they are extremely important.

The good thing about this as well is that small, medium and large Canadian companies are able to compete in the world, which is extremely important. There is nothing to fear, because we are among the best in the world and we can produce the best as well.

I would also like to share with members of the House, all 338 members, that in my opinion, it would be a good strategy, which I will focus on in the next few months, to meet with all business associations in our communities. For example, I have one in Sackville, one in Fall River, one in the Eastern Passage area and one in the Eastern Shore, the Porters Lake-Lake Echo area.

It is time to have some really strong conversations about the opportunities that have been created in the last year with these trade deals. People have to understand that these trade deals touch many sectors. As I go through my speech, they will hear about the 100% cut in tariffs. These are great opportunities. My question for all members is this. Are they communicating with our business communities? Are they aware of these changes? Are they aware of the potential opportunities? That is what is important.

I will talk about CIFTA, the Canada-Israel trade deal. This is not something new that has just come about. Last year, we agreed to amend and enhance this agreement. It had been 20 years. How much has this agreement brought to us? Over the last 20 years, we have seen two-way trade triple. It is now up to $1.7 billion, which is an enormous amount of money for two countries directly trading.

This trade deal, Bill C-85, has four amended chapters and seven new chapters. The amendments, as everyone will see, are very important to improving the trade deal, as well as the new chapters. Once again, our government is influencing major changes to enhance many areas of trade.

Let me start with dispute resolution and dispute settlement. As we know, that was crucial element in the USMCA deal and we were not going to sign any deal without it. That is how important it is. Not only is it in this trade deal, but in many chapters. This will make it that much stronger because there will be analysis and discussions on specific chapters and, therefore, over time, both countries will see the strengths and weaknesses and will be able to work through those processes.

This trade deal would provide more access to products, not just good products but all types of products. There will be almost 100% tariff reduction on fish, seafood and agriculture, which are major sectors in our economy.

We see improvement in the structure of the agreement. On the rules of origin, also very important, we were able to bring some relaxed focus to it, recognizing the global value chain and streamlining for tariff treatment. Again, it ensures the necessary conditions will be in place for greater success.

In the new chapters, we see the e-commerce, which is the online purchasing. Again, no tariff will be applied in any way, shape or form. It will also protect our intellectual properties, again because as Canadians, we have many areas where we have been number one. We have the best products and the best inventions. Therefore, we were able to ensure there would be relief on the copyright end.

Other measures we see in these new chapters are around food safety and environmental protection, which are extremely important, as well as labour standards. We have removed technical barriers to trade. These are very important points.

I want to touch on two areas in the added features where Canada has lead once again. The first is applying a gender lens to the trade deal. It is extremely important that we are able to apply that lens to ensure that both genders are able to contribute directly to the economy and these trade issues. We have shown how we can ensure greater success in the economy with direct contributions. It will benefit all Canadians, not just a certain group of Canadians. It is wide open in that sense.

The second area where we have really made some improvement is in the small and medium-sized businesses. As we know, small and medium-sized businesses in Canada are the backbone of our economy. We must ensure that they are successful and that we give them the tools to ensure that success. That is exactly what we have with this deal.

Let us look at how this this deal will affect my province of Nova Scotia. We can look at the CETA deal, for example. Ninety-six per cent of tariffs on fish and seafood are eliminated. In manufacturing, tires had a tariff of 4.5%, and that is gone. It is now zero percent. Machinery and equipment had tariffs of up to 8%. That is gone. Agriculture and agrifood, such as blueberries, had tariffs of up to 9.6% and now have zero tariffs. Maple syrup, which we are extremely well known for in Canada, now has zero tariffs.

These trade deals are extremely important. Our government has been a leader from day one. We are continuing on that. We have signed the CPTPP, with access to over 500 million people. Through both the CETA and the CPTPP, we now have access to a billion people. Again, in the CPTPP we are seeing major benefits to financial services, food, seafood, agriculture and variety of sectors.

Let me finish with a quote. A mining industry representative said, “We can’t afford to be outside of this trading bloc...It would put as at a huge disadvantage.”

It is obvious that this government is focused on the middle class and the economy. We know that 60% of our GDP is based on trade deals and these trade deals will continue to allow middle-class Canadians to prosper.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

November 7th, 2018 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-85, an act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and to make related amendments to other acts.

There are many elements to any trade deal that can make them extremely complex, and they can be massive documents. However, today I want to focus on gender, labour and the important human rights obligations that this deal can address.

The original Canada-Israel FTA was negotiated in 1993, and has been expanded three times over the last 25 years. The last revision or modernization of this agreement was negotiated by the previous Conservative government and is now being brought into force legislatively by the Liberals, much like the original NAFTA deal and the recent CETA and CPTPP agreements.

New Democrats are supportive of the fact that this deal has a number of positive issues. One of them is that it would create more favourable conditions for exporters through important non-tariff commitments. On the trade committee we hear about non-tariff barriers far more than we hear about tariffs, as Canada is largely becoming tariff-free with the globe. It really is non-tariff barriers that we need to address to ensure that trade is flowing.

It would establish mechanisms whereby both nations can co-operate to resolve unjustified non-tariff barriers. It has provisions related to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. It would create potential new and improved market access for Canada, particularly in the areas of agriculture, agrifood, fish and seafood products. There are changes to the rules of origin that reflect many aspects of Canada's current approach, including recognizing the presence of global value chains and the integrated nation of North American production, as well as streamlining the provisions for obtaining preferential tariff treatment.

The environment chapter is another first for Israel and would ensure environmental protections are maintained with recourse to a chapter-specific dispute resolution practice.

There is a chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises that would improve transparency and commit both parties to co-operate with a view to removing barriers and improving access for SMEs to engage in trade. It is widely understood that we need greater supports for our domestic exporters to take advantage of this. Certainly, again at the trade committee, we hear consistently that SMEs are not able to trade in the same way that large players are.

For every FTA that we are signing, our exports are decreasing with the country that we are signing. I point to the recent signing of CETA. A year on from the signing of CETA, our exports have decreased. Therefore, there are major fundamental issues that need to be addressed with the types of trade agreements that we are creating and signing onto, if they are not actually creating opportunities for Canadian businesses.

The modernized CIFTA would provide new and improved market access for virtually 100%, up from 90%, of current exports of agricultural, agrifood, fish and seafood products. In the agriculture and agrifood sector, 92% of Canadian exports would enter Israel duty-free, in unlimited quantities, under the modernized CIFTA, which is up from a current level of 83%. The agreement offers the potential for deeper, broader and more prosperous commercial relationships between our two countries. Because of these provisions, New Democrats will support this bill at second reading, but will make constructive suggestions to include crucial human rights elements, and we hope that the Liberals and Conservatives will accept our amendments at committee.

I want to talk about social issues. We are pleased with the new language and the representation of more social aspects of the deal, such as the environment, small business, corporate social responsibility, labour and gender. However, we cannot understand why, with such a progressive trade agenda for the current government, that it would not have these provisions within the text of the agreement and fully enforceable.

I want to talk a bit about corporate social responsibility. The article references again voluntary OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises that are a broad application to this agreement. This is a good first step. However, with respect to this clause, the New Democrats would prefer to see a corporate social responsibility chapter that has some enforceability and some teeth to it. When corporate social responsibility is only voluntary, how can the government plan to hold corporations to account? Those who violate human rights make a bigger profit when there is no one there to ensure that they are not violating rights. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves why this provision is only voluntary.

As I mentioned, this was the Conservative-negotiated deal, but the Liberals were truly concerned with the provisions. They could have negotiated much stronger language, as was done in the European Union-Israel trade agreement, which states:

Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.

I have to ask why the government did not bother to include a similar general line, at the very least, on human rights provisions in this agreement.

I want to talk a bit about the gender chapter. The NDP would like to emphasize, as we have in other trade agreements, that the provisions around gender and equality cannot be just limited to one chapter, especially when it is unenforceable.

As in the international trade committee, where I am vice-chair, and in committee meetings regarding other trade deals, OXFAM Canada came and presented. It called the mainstreaming of gender rights throughout the entirety of this FTA the path that we need to be on, not only relegating to one small chapter.

Gender equality does not only concern issues of women entrepreneurs and business owners. Labour rights must also address injustices to women, like pay inequity, child labour and poor working conditions.

The NDP believes that for an agreement to be truly progressive when it comes to gender rights, it must address the systemic inequalities for all women.

We also believe that both gender analysis and gender impact assessment must be applied to all trade agreements and we would like to see this in the updated CIFTA. Every trade agreement that we sign should build on the previous gender provisions that we have achieved in other deals.

I want to talk a bit about labour. We are pleased to see that there is a labour chapter, which is a first for Israel in a free trade agreement. This would help to ensure that high labour standards are maintained, with recourse to labour-specific, enforceable, binding dispute settlement mechanisms where non-compliance can lead to monetary penalties.

The Canadian Labour Congress has also made it clear that in order to equally raise labour standards and all standards in an FTA, the labour chapter must include the International Labour Organization's eight core conventions and adhere to its decent work agenda. It also must include the creation of an independent labour secretariat to oversee a dispute settlement process when there are violations of labour rights.

The NDP also agrees with the CLC that the Government of Canada must look at due diligence for Canadian companies and funding agencies and create a framework for transnational bargaining to allow unions to represent workers in multiple countries.

Any FTA should be guided by the principle that no one should be disadvantaged. Working people cannot continue to be an afterthought in trade agreements.

Too often people talk about free trade and state that “a rising tide lifts all boats” and that simply trading with another country, they will emulate higher respect for workers, women and human rights. However, we know that is simply not the case.

When we talk about human rights there are concerns with this FTA due to the fact that there are no human rights provisions and protections and recognition of the rights of Palestinians living in occupied territories. Human rights must be a part of our relationship with Israel, rights that Canadians expect us to uphold throughout the globe. Bill C-85 does not ensure that CIFTA complies with international law. The government must respect Canada's commitment to a peaceful and just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Last week I travelled with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and on the trip to Israel and to Palestine, she repeatedly talked about the importance of Canada's commitment to a two-state solution. This trade agreement is an opportunity to address this issue in a meaningful way by including language that mirrors the Israel-EU agreement.

The agreement appears to cover products made in Israeli settlements and occupied territories. Neither Canada nor the United Nations recognize these settlements as part of Israel. These settlements are illegal and clearly violate the fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the settlement of territories acquired by war and the movement of indigenous people in those territories, among other things.

There is virtual global unanimity that the territories seized and occupied since 1967 by Israel, the West Bank, Golan Heights, Gaza and East Jerusalem are not part of Israel but form the basis of a sovereign Palestinian state. Those territories are a fraction of the land awarded to the Palestinian people by the United Nations partition of 1967.

As I said, New Democrats have worked for decades for a peaceful resolution in Israel and Palestine and we will continue to fight for fairness and justice for all, including within this agreement.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, there is much within this modernized agreement that is positive and that we agree with. We will work at committee to ensure respect of human rights is included in the newly updated CIFTA.

Trading with Canada is a privilege not just because of our incredible resources and products, but because of our global reputation. Fair trade can be a tool, among many others, that we use to positively contribute to the world around us. Together with our global partners, we can build a better future.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

November 7th, 2018 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. I rise today to speak to Bill C-85, the free trade agreement with Israel.

We heard some remarkable speeches today in the House from the Prime Minister, the opposition leader, the leaders of the NDP, and from the Bloc and the Green Party in apology for Canada's turning away of the MS St. Louis.

Remarkably, right after the speeches, we heard my colleague, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, give an impassioned speech in support of concurrence with the committee report on the resettlement of Yazidi women and children in Canada. I really hope that people took notice of that. It is about the same issue, namely, people who are facing genocide in a foreign land and that we are not doing our part to help. I hope the government will listen to the comments by my colleague, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, so that Canadians do not have to sit here a generation from now to hear another apology for turning our backs on these people.

Before I get back to Bill C-85, I want to express, as I am sure everyone in the House does, my sorrow about the horror of the murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue a short time ago, an act of violent anti-Semitism and a reminder that this hatred still exists in our world today.

On a per capita basis in Canada, anti-Semitism is unfortunately still the most prevalent hate crime reported. The main synagogue in my riding of Edmonton West, Beth Israel, is a place of worship for a lot of friends of mine. I often visit for events, and I was there this Saturday for the drop-in for Shabbat. One thing I noticed as I approached was a police car across the street providing security and security at the door.

We do not see that security at any other place of worship in Canada, not at the Catholic church I attend, nor the Baptist church that one of my sons goes to for sporting events, nor at other places of worship, such as the mosque that several of my friends attend. It is only at the synagogue. It is disgraceful and very unfortunate in this day and age that this is still required in Canada, the United States, and other parts of the world.

What does this say about our society in Canada in this day and age that a synagogue still requires security? What does it say when a lunatic spouting violent anti-Semitic remarks goes out and kills 11 worshippers in a synagogue? It says that anti-Semitism, unfortunately, is still alive and well and strong.

I belong to an organization called Christians United for Israel. We have about 90,000 members in Canada. There are about 3 million members in the U.S. Why do I belong to it? Well, it is because the scourge of anti-Semitism still flourishes.

Today's debate is on trade with Israel, and I cannot discuss trade with Israel without noting the burgeoning anti-Semitic movement in Canada called BDS, the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement, which works to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. I will call the BDS movement what I believe it is, an anti-Semitic movement.

BDS supporters, hand over heart, will claim they are not anti-Jewish, that they are just anti-Israel. I think we need to call a spade a spade. BDS supporters claim its intent is to move Palestinian-Israeli negotiations forward. Fine and dandy, but it is funny that they are oddly silent about Turkey and Iraq bombing Kurdistan. They are oddly silent about Turkish products from illegally occupied Northern Cyprus. They are oddly silent in response to calls to sanction Morocco for its seizure of Western Sahara.

I have to ask, where is the outrage of the BDS supporters about Russia's illegal invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine? It is funny, I do not see them marching at universities over the tenfold increase in Russian imports into Canada over the last 10 years. Where is their outrage about the Saudi war in Yemen? I do not see them protesting up and down the St. Lawrence as tanker after tanker of Saudi crude sails in. However, I am sure we will see these same people screaming about the injustice of having an Israeli soda stream device for sale in a local store.

The leftists complain that Trump promotes violence with his rhetoric. I believe that BDS and its proponents do the same thing: they promote anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish messaging. To those who say they are not anti-Semitic, just anti-Israel, I say, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

Why should we support this updated agreement with Israel? Well, Israel is the freest and most democratic nation in the Middle East. It is the only Liberal democracy in that part of the world, and reflects many of the values and beliefs that Canadians hold dear, including respect for democracy, the rule of law, tolerance of a multi-racial and multi-religious society, and tolerance of gender and sexual expression rights.

Israel is called a start-up nation for a reason. It is probably the most innovative nation in the entire world. It ranks first in the world for its attitude toward entrepreneurial risk and for the growth of innovative companies, and it is second, only after the U.S., for venture capital availability. It ranks 20th out of 140 countries listed in the latest competitiveness report for the freeness of economy. Canada can only gain by partnering and having stronger economic ties with such a country.

The fastest growth rates in Israel, averaging 8% annually, are to be found in its high-tech sectors, and 80% of its high-tech products are exported. However, despite all of this, despite its investment in R and D, despite 5.5% of its GDP going for national defence, I would like to point out to my colleagues across the way that the country of Israel still manages to have a budgetary surplus year after year.

As I mentioned, economically, Israel is a high-tech powerhouse, and we can only gain by strengthening our relationship with it. For Canadian companies, we can get improved access to it our agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports. We can get improved border efficiencies, better regulatory transparency and reduced red tape. However, it is odd that the Liberals, who are so in love with regulatory red tape and never pass on a chance to further burden our economy with it, love Israel for the fact that it is going to reduce red tape.

The bill has several new chapters. The new chapter on electronic commerce would commit Canada and Israel to not introduce tariffs and other barriers to commerce. The chapter on intellectual property would affirm commitments between Canada and Israel under the World Trade Organization to ensure proper protection of IP rights. The technical barriers to trade chapter would ensure that technical regulation, conformity assessment procedures and other standards-related measures could not be used as unjustified barriers to trade. The trade and environment chapter would ensure that Canada and Israel pursue high levels of environmental protection while realizing the benefit of liberalized trade. There is a new chapter on trade and labour, which would ensure effective enforcement of labour laws. The chapter on trade facilitation would enhance border efficiencies, increase regulatory transparency and reduce red tape for Canadian businesses. If only the government were as committed to reducing red tape in Canada as it is to trade with Israel. However, both countries would also benefit from an updated dispute settlement agreement and better rules of origin labelling.

We have much to gain from our friends in Israel. As I mentioned, it is literally the only Liberal democracy in the Middle East. It is a world leader in technological innovation. We also see that it leads in pharmaceutical innovation.

Before a friend of mine unfortunately passed away from ALS, he was a test subject who had his body equipped with a robotic walker so he could enjoy the final year of his life being able to walk. These are all advancements made by the Israeli tech industry, which is something Canada can gain from very much.

I would like to end with a quote from the great Milton Friedman about trade, who said:

The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.

I believe the amendments to this trade agreement would benefit both Canada and Israel, as well as our allies.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

November 7th, 2018 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Edmonton West for his excellent and relevant speech. It reiterated the position of our party, the party of free trade and the economy. I also want to thank him for sharing his time with me. I am proud to do so.

Today is a very special day. Earlier in the House, we spared a very special thought for those of the Jewish faith. We reflected about them, apologized, and acknowledged the fact that they, as a people, experienced one of the greatest human tragedies and are still standing. I have a lot of respect for the Jewish people.

Unfortunately, on October 27, a synagogue in Pittsburgh was attacked. That is unacceptable. It reminds me of the massacre at the mosque in Sainte-Foy, where people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time fell victim to barbaric acts. These types of attacks are unacceptable in a civilized society. The government needs to put measures in place to eliminate as much as possible these barbaric acts motivated by race and religion.

Today I will be speaking to Bill C-85, an act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and to make related amendments to other acts. We, the Conservatives, are the party of the economy, as I said at the outset. We are very proud of the markets that we opened up and developed. We are consistent, and we not only talk the talk, we walk the walk. We are going to support this bill at second reading because it is important to create trade routes, and this is one of them.

As a long-standing trade partner to Israel, Canada has a duty to continue this business relationship. Israel is a major market for Canadian goods and services. The relationship between Canada and Israel is based on shared values and interests. Canada derives tangible benefits from this strong relationship.

First off, with regard to security, Israel is an island of stability amid the turbulence that engulfs the Middle East. The knowledge and experience that Israel and Canada share are ever more important. We all know that in our modern world, threats do not stop at national borders. The security agreement signed by Canada and Israel in 2008 under Mr. Harper's Conservative government has permanently established this collaboration, which is so beneficial for Canada.

Second, there is the economy. Since 1996, Canada and Israel have had a free trade agreement that has significantly boosted trade between the two countries.

Third, there is technology. Israel has the second-largest concentration of high-tech companies after Silicon Valley, in the United States. Israel is a model of innovation. I would add that when I had the privilege, as a parliamentarian, of visiting Israel and Palestine, I observed that the people who live there are determined, intelligent and highly skilled. Canadian start-ups should take a page from their book.

Israel has an impressive approach to supporting and encouraging start-ups. For example, universities are involved in developing start-ups, and there risk is part of the equation. We should be looking at allowing more risk when it comes to start-ups in Canada, because when a company becomes a world leader, even if it is just one in a hundred, that definitely gives us an advantage.

It is therefore in our best interest to come up with a model for start-ups that aligns with the Israeli model.

We are already linked through the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation, or CIIRDF. That foundation takes in proposals for R and D projects in all areas of technology that have no military or defence applications. There is however a special focus on projects in aerospace, agriculture and processed food, financial services, information and communications technologies, life sciences, oil and gas, and sustainable technologies. These relationships are beneficial for both our countries.

The Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA, was signed on July 31, 1996 and came into force on January 1 of the following year. It has therefore been in effect for more than 20 years. This bill seeks to expand the scope of the agreement and deliver on negotiations that were launched in 2010 and 2014. In July 2015 Canada and Israel concluded negotiations on reduced tariffs on all agricultural products, investment protection mechanisms, sanitary measures, intellectual property and non-tariff barriers.

The Government of Canada website on the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement states, under the heading “Modernization overview and chapters”:

In July 2015, Canada and Israel completed negotiations to update four chapters in the Agreement: Dispute Settlement, Goods Market Access, Institutional Provisions, and Rules of Origin. The Agreement was also expanded to include seven new chapters: E-Commerce, Intellectual Property, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade, Trade and Environment, Trade and Labour, and Trade Facilitation.

That, to me, shows that three years were wasted updating an agreement that had been signed in 2015 under the Harper government. I might add that the protocol amending the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement was signed three years later in Montreal on May 28, 2018, but has yet to come into force. Until that happens, the 1997 free trade agreement continues to apply.

The discussions concluded in 2015, and we are now nearing the end of 2018. That means we wasted three years. This government's sluggishness has cost us billions of dollars. The Conservative government is the one that negotiated the agreements, while the current Liberal government is just patting itself on the back and signing the agreements.

Let us not forget the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. This multilateral free trade agreement, which was signed on February 4, 2016, aims to integrate the economies of the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas. The negotiation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership began in 2008 under the Harper government. In June 2012, Canada and Mexico joined the negotiations. On February 4, 2016, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed. It must now be ratified by 12 countires, and that process is still under way. Once again, this shows how slowly things move under the Liberals.

Then there is the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA. Who put that in place? Once again, it was the Harper government. It was the Conservative Party, the party that understands the economy and seeks to open new trade routes. I think that is a very legitimate thing to do since our neighbour to the south is unpredictable. Unfortunately, again this morning, I read that our Prime Minister announced that we are going to sign the agreement with the United States even though the tariffs on steel, softwood lumber and aluminum have not been lifted.

It is good to sign agreements, but we need to use our bargaining power. Unfortunately, when this government signs agreements, it uses our agreements and our objectives and simply continues the work we started. Things would not have gone the way they did with the USMCA if the Conservatives were in office.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

November 7th, 2018 / 6 p.m.
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Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-85, which implements the new Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.

Earlier today, the House acknowledged the atrocities suffered by the victims of the Shoah, particularly the passengers of the MS St. Louis. Because of a heartless policy, indisputably motivated by anti-Semitism, Canada prevented these 907 passengers from finding refuge here at home. We all bear some responsibility for what awaited them when they returned to Europe.

Ironically, this afternoon we are discussing Bill C-85 to modernize the free trade agreement between Canada and Israel. In 1939, Jews did not have a country they could consider their own, where they could be confident they would be safe. Maybe that is what made them so vulnerable and almost wiped them from the face of the Earth, victims of the madness of some and the indifference of others. Today, almost 80 years later, they have a prosperous country and we are talking about modernizing a free trade agreement linking Canada and Israel. We have come a long way.

We note that Bill C-85 is not introducing free trade between Canada and Israel. It is updating an agreement that has existed since 1997, so for 22 years. Israel is one of the first countries in the world with which Canada reached a free trade agreement. In terms of trade, Quebec and Israel have a lot in common. Israel is a modern country, one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, especially in communication and information, and so is Quebec. In any given year, between 40% and 45% of Canada's technology exports originate in Quebec. Also, Israel is a global leader in the electrification of transportation. Quebec is poised to become one. The only thing missing is a little boost from Ottawa.

In those two areas and in many others, there are numerous and logical linkages between Quebec and Israeli companies. That is why we will be supporting Bill C-85 at second reading.

That said, I want to point out an anomaly in the agreement as drafted that must be corrected. Although we are supposed to be debating a free trade agreement between Canada and Israel, that is not what the text states. In fact, this seems to be an agreement with Israel and the occupied territories. By ratifying the agreement as written, Canada would be in some way recognizing that the occupied territories actually belong to Israel. Such a position is in contravention to Canada's foreign policy, international law and the will of the UN Security Council.

To properly understand this point, let us look at the history. In 1947, the United Nations adopted a partition plan in order to create two states in the territory of British Palestine: a Jewish state, which today is Israel, and an Arab state, which would become Palestine. Unfortunately, things were not so simple.

Arab countries rejected the partition plan, war broke out, and to the surprise of many, the Israeli army forced back the Arab forces throughout the territory. It was in this context of war that the State of Israel was created. When the warring parties agreed to the ceasefire in 1949, the international community accepted the ceasefire line as the Israeli border. Palestine, however, was not born. Egypt occupied Gaza while Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. There was no peace, however, this was just a ceasefire.

After years of tension, war broke out again in 1967, and Israel, after driving out the Arab armies, began occupying all the Palestinian territory.

Since 1967, the conflict has been frozen. The international community's position has not changed. The State of Israel's territory is what belonged to it in 1949. The rest of the territory it occupies does not really belong to the country. Any change should be the outcome of a bilateral agreement, not a bilateral agreement between Canada and Israel such as the one we are discussing today, but an agreement between Israel and Palestinians.

Canada supports the international consensus. As the Global Affairs Canada website states

:Canada does not recognize Israel's unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem. ...Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967.... Israeli settlements in the occupied territories... constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.

Canada's position is clear. It is in line with international law, which the Bloc Québécois fully supports.

That is why I mentioned an anomaly earlier. The free trade agreement appears to deviate from that stance. Article 1.7 specifies that Israeli territory is the territory where its customs laws are applied.

An occupied territory is a territory on which laws are imposed and enforced. This is the very meaning of an occupation.

The agreement as is includes the occupied territories, and in particular the settlements. It states that they are part of Israeli territory, which is at odds with Canada's foreign policy.

When the agreement was signed in May, the Minister of International Trade said the following to The Canadian Press: “In international trade law, the way a territory is defined is the physical territory where the customs laws apply.”

However, this does not have to be the case. Europe chose to make its trade policy comply with its foreign policy. Article 83 of the Europe-Israel free trade agreement quite simply states that the agreement applies to the territory of the State of Israel.

There has been no movement in the Israeli conflict, and it is festering. As settlements continue to grow, it becomes increasingly difficult for Israel to put an end to the occupation, and it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve what everyone here in this House wants, which is for the two states to live in peace, side by side, within recognized borders.

The UN Security Council understood that well. It also understood that a provision like the one in the agreement does not promote peace. In resolution 2334, which was passed unanimously in December 2017, the Security Council called on all states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.

Quebeckers are friends with Israel, but they are also friends with Palestinians. Above all, they care about peace. That is why, after passing Bill C-85 at second reading, we will ensure this anomaly is corrected.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

October 29th, 2018 / 5:05 p.m.
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Jim Carr Minister of International Trade Diversification, Lib.

moved that Bill C-85, an act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and to make related amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by adding my voice to the eloquent words of others earlier on in the House today expressing their horror at the tragedy in Pittsburgh over the weekend taking lives only because Jews were targeted. I will say more about this later on in my remarks because this is my community. I will talk about the ties between Israel and Canada which are based on family, friendship, shared values and understanding the importance of these relationships in an uncertain world.

I rise in the House today in support of legislation to implement the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA.

As Minister of International Trade Diversification, I can attest that today, more than ever, we need to diversify our trade and tap new markets so that more Canadians can compete and succeed worldwide. This government has secured the North American platform with the new USMCA. When we add to that the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, in place since last year, and the now ratified Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, that platform actually extends east and west, from Tokyo to Tallinn.

In CETA's first year, Canadians have added $1.1 billion in increased exports to Europe. With 500 million European consumers at our doorstep, that number is sure to grow. In the fast-growing Asia-Pacific markets, the CPTPP will add a further 500 million consumers to Canada's ever-increasing network of free trade.

Canada is now the only G7 country with free trade links to all of the others. Think about the importance of that reality. We have 41 FTAs connecting us to 1.5 billion of the world's consumers. lnvestors recognize how important this is. FTAs are the bridges, but to truly realize the opportunity we have created, we need people, the entrepreneurs and first-time exporters, to cross those bridges. Our diversity is our economic strength.

Canada and Israel have long been connected through the power of people-to-people ties, a shared commitment to democracy and a friendship that started 70 years ago when Israel became a nation. It continues to grow with each passing year.

Israel is the home of the Jewish people and if we needed reminding why this is so important, why affirming and reaffirming our bonds is so important, we horrifically saw why when on Saturday, 11 worshippers were killed in Pittsburgh only because they were Jewish.

Jewish people have been in Canada since 1759 and now our community of more than 350,000 continues to contribute impressively to our national mosaic. My grandparents came to Canada in 1906, escaping the pogroms of the tsar. They were persecuted only because they were Jewish. That is yet another reason to underline the importance of security to the State of Israel.

I have visited Israel many times and made my first trip as Canada's Minister of International Trade Diversification in August. Canada and Israel have forged a partnership that continues to deepen with each passing year. Strengthening those bonds depends on constant renewal, which is why our government recently modernized the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. The agreement creates opportunities for Canadians and Israelis to partner in the growing fields of science, technology and innovation across our vibrant markets. The agreement has the potential for more people to work together, creating well-paying jobs for hard-working Canadians as a result.

Bill C-85 before the House today stands as testimony to Canada's and Israel's shared commitment to maintain openness, celebrate our friendship and expand our links so that more of our people and more of our businesses can benefit from them.

I am especially pleased that this modernized trade agreement strengthens our commercial ties, generating more business for both our countries. When Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen travelled to Canada this year to sign our modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, we built on that partnership. We committed to a forward-looking framework for trade that expanded meaningful access to each other's markets and introduced chapters on gender, labour, environmental protection, and support for small and medium-sized enterprises. Minister Cohen said at that time, “We are witnessing a historical step in the trade relations between the two countries with the signing of the upgraded agreement.”

In some respects Minister Cohen was even a little understated. We expanded market access for more Canadians and Israelis, but we also pushed the envelope by writing new international law, putting an end to inequality of access to job-creating trade and investment. The new chapters on gender, the environment and labour are explicitly about growing our trading relationship while expanding access for those who did not necessarily see themselves or their values reflected in the agreements of the past.

There is enormous untapped economic potential, but for too long we have focused on the few and not on the many. We are changing that. We are encouraging more of these would-be exporters to get in the game, and these chapters are about showing workers and their families that trade can work for them. Israel is clearly thinking longer term to future-proof its own economy, taking full advantage of its entrepreneurial spirit to develop a high-tech industry and to promote clean technologies.

Israelis have every right to tout the initiatives launched by the Israel Innovation Authority to drive public sector innovation. We see room to expand Canadian-Israeli business partnerships, innovating our way into greater prosperity.

Since the original CIFTA came into force in 1997, merchandising trade between Canada and Israel has more than tripled, reaching $1.7 billion in 2017. This demonstrates the importance of trade agreements to bilateral trade.

The modernized CIFTA will open new doors and make Canadian goods more competitive in the Israeli market. For example, in this new agreement, we have expanded market access for goods by eliminating tariffs on nearly all products traded between Canada and Israel, nearly all products. This will make Canadian agri-food, agriculture, fish and seafood products more competitive in the Israeli market, benefiting a range of companies in all those sectors.

We have also negotiated rules that are designed to address non-tariff barriers, facilitate trade, make it more predictable, and reduce red tape, including some of the costs to companies for doing business. The modernized CIFTA also adopts a new framework that includes chapters on trade and gender, small and medium enterprises, labour and the environment, as well as a new provision on corporate social responsibility.

The modernized agreement reflects who we are as vibrant, diverse, open and democratic societies. This agreement is not only for today but for future generations.

The new chapters on trade and gender and on small and medium enterprises ensure that the benefits and opportunities that flow from trade and investment are more widely shared. Both chapters provide frameworks for Canada and Israel to work together to encourage women and small and medium enterprises to take full advantage of this agreement.

The new chapter on environment includes robust commitments so that parties maintain high levels of environmental protection, while liberalizing trade. This is in line with other Canadian FTAs, including more environmental governance. This is the first environmental chapter that Israel has ever agreed to in a free trade agreement.

Canada and Israel also agreed to a chapter on labour that includes comprehensive and enforceable obligations to protect and promote internationally recognized labour principles and rights. The labour chapter recognizes that economic development is not achieved at the expense of workers' rights, backed by an enforceable dispute settlement mechanism.

A modernized CIFTA shows the world that we put our people first and are committed to embracing that value as an economic strength.

One in six Canadian jobs are directly linked to exports, and that is one of the reasons we are so committed to expanding the pie for all Canadians. The more bridges we build, the more opportunities there are for people to cross those bridges with goods, services and investments.

For those here today who may not know, Israel has a long-standing reputation for technological prowess, with a well-developed scientific and educational base. We see room to expand and build partnerships in these sectors and many others. There are exciting opportunities for Canadian companies in sectors such as aerospace, smart mobility, sustainable technologies, information and communications technology, life sciences and energy.

There are also great prospects for joint research and development. For example, Canadian and Israeli firms have joined forces to develop an ultraviolet water monitoring system that ensures the safety of drinking water. There are even more possibilities on the horizon that will change countless lives in communities across the globe. When I was in Tel Aviv in September, I announced a pilot program to facilitate new cybersecurity solutions for the energy sector, matching expertise in areas like anti-hacking with the needs of Canada's natural gas delivery companies.

With so much potential and opportunity on both sides, it simply makes sense that we work together and knit our economies even tighter. Not surprisingly, the government's consultations, in the context of the negotiations, have consistently revealed support for a modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. Canadians want to do more business in and with Israel in the years ahead. A modernized free trade agreement between our countries is a surefire way to make that happen. Our competitiveness depends on small and medium-sized enterprises pursuing trade opportunities and for us to support them in doing so.

The Prime Minister has prioritized, in my mandate as minister of international trade and diversification, support for Canadian businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that flow after trade agreements are signed, including by drawing on resources from across government and from public and private sector partners.

In order for the benefits of FTAs to be fully realized, Canadian businesses need to be aware of the agreements and the benefits they offer. Once ratified, I will work hard to promote awareness of the modernized agreement so would-be exporters have the information they need to get into the market.

My department has mobilized a free trade agreement promotion task force that is undertaking a comprehensive outreach and training program for the business community. Efforts of the task force are currently focused on flagship agreements, like Canada's trade agreement with the European Union, or CETA, and the CPTPP, which last week received royal assent and was subsequently ratified. I want to pause here and thank all members of the House who co-operated so fully to ensure that Canada was among the first tranche to ratify, which gives us a first advantage that will be meaningful for our entrepreneurs and our exporters, and ultimately will create jobs for Canadians.

Once CIFTA is ratified, I will ensure this promotion work is extended to this agreement too. At the same time, Canadian companies can access the free services and export advice offered by the Canadian trade commissioner service, TCS, which is 1,000 strong around the world. The TCS helps Canadian companies export by preparing businesses for international markets, providing market potential assessments, offering connections to qualified contacts abroad and assisting in resolving business problems.

The CanExport program, which is delivered by the TCS in partnership with the National Research Council industrial research assistance program, helps Canadians take the practical and necessary steps to make their first sale overseas. This five-year, $50-million program provides direct financial assistance to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to make that happen. In June 2018, the government announced an additional $40 million for the CanExport program. The new funding, along with enhancements to the program, will provide Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises with more opportunities to diversify their export markets, including to Israel.

Now we need to give life to our agreement by taking advantage of the two-way trade between our knowledge-based, innovation-driven economies.

With our expanded air transport agreement, we need more travel between our two countries and the flights to support it.

There are ample reasons to be optimistic about our future. Not only does working together support economic prosperity and job creation in both countries, it raises the international bar for the rules-based and inclusive trading order on which economies like ours depend. This is yet another example where two states recognize that our future prosperity depends on liberalized trade.

We know in Canada that there are protectionist forces and that is why we convened 12 nations just last week to push for concrete reforms to the WTO so that the future of global trade is put on a better footing.

We need more partnerships in the world that reflect this approach and the approach we have taken with Israel in CIFTA.

We need to create the conditions for small and medium-sized businesses to compete and succeed because they are the lifeblood of both of our economies.

Going about the business of trade differently is not just about exporting values, it is about adding value to our respective bottom lines. We can only do that if we focus on the middle class and the confidence they need to make their first international sale or deal.

Our modernized trade agreement is an example of what happens when two governments decide to put the middle class at the heart of our trade agenda.

I therefore urge all hon. members to support Bill C-85 and thereby enable Canada to do its part to bring the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement into force in a timely way.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

October 29th, 2018 / 5:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Madam Speaker, I also want to extend my condolences, sympathies and utter outrage at what happened to the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. My heart goes out to those in Pittsburgh and to the greater Jewish community. It is absolutely reprehensible that anyone would come into a place of worship, a place so sacred, and do what happened. This was a very heinous crime. I just want them to know that they have our support here on this side of the House, as has been mentioned by all members in the House today.

I want to start by saying that the Conservatives will support Bill C-85, the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. This agreement was overwhelmingly negotiated by our former Conservative government. In October 2011, we began the consultation with Canadians. In January 2014, Prime Minister Harper and Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the launch of the CIFTA negotiations. In July 2015, Canada and Israel announced the successful conclusion of the revised agreement.

Amendments to the original deal included four updated chapters: dispute settlement, good market access, governance and rules of origin. The agreement also added seven new chapters: e-commerce, environment, intellectual property, labour, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, and trade facilitation.

The modernized CIFTA breaks down many old barriers. It creates new export opportunities for Canadian agriculture and agrifood. It creates new opportunities for our fish and seafood companies in the Israeli market. As members can see, we are very proud to have been the main drivers of this agreement.

Israel is our closest partner in the region and also the only democracy in the region. Israel's economy is a very modern and advanced one. Our two countries enjoy an excellent commercial relationship. Since the original agreement came into force over 20 years ago, trade between our two countries has tripled, totalling $1.7 billion in 2017.

Israel's market has a lot of potential and offers many opportunities for our Canadian businesses. Israel is also placed in a very economically strategic region in the Middle East. With one of the best educated populations in the world, a solid industrial and scientific base, and abundant natural resources, specifically in the agricultural and agri-tech sectors, Israel makes for a great partner in trade.

It is also important to mention that this agreement will further strengthen Canada's support for Israel, which should be very important to all of us. As we bring Canada and Israel closer through this trade deal, we begin to see a very positive pattern for Conservatives when it comes to negotiating free trade deals, a pattern of Conservative-negotiated agreements.

Conservatives negotiated the original NAFTA, the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, CETA with the Europeans, and now the modernization of CIFTA. The biggest free trade agreements were done under Conservative governments. We are very proud of that.

We are also very proud of the member for Abbotsford, who worked tirelessly to complete the negotiations on CIFTA, the TPP, and CETA. I have tremendous respect for him on a personal level, and of course, as the former international trade minister.

I have to say that although this agreement will likely pass without much delay, there is a greater concern Canadians have with the Liberal government when it comes to the economy. That concern is about competitiveness.

Canadians are worried that the Prime Minister and the Liberals are making our economy uncompetitive. While our neighbours to the south are cutting corporate taxes and getting rid of massive amounts of burdensome red tape, the Prime Minister keeps raising taxes and adding more red tape to everything he touches. He is raising taxes everywhere he can. He is putting in ridiculous regulations and massive roadblocks that serve to kill pipeline construction and many of its offshoot jobs.

This is no secret. In fact, he admits it every day in question period and every time he speaks around the country. He just sugar-coats it, smiles for the cameras, and relies on his pals in the media to sell it.

Let us take the carbon tax as an example. Last week, the Prime Minister announced that he will be forcing Canadians living in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick to pay his carbon tax. While he claims that he will return 90% of all the money he collects, Conservatives know that the Prime Minister and his Liberals are simply looking for more ways to sustain this massive debt and out-of-control deficits.

Unless large and developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, global emissions will not decrease. Let me repeat that one more time: Unless large and developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, global emissions will not decrease. The Prime Minister's carbon tax will not save the environment. It will only hurt Canada's economy, Canada's small businesses, and Canadian families.

Canadians are not fooled by the carbon tax. They know the Prime Minister's carbon tax is a tax plan dressed up like an emissions plan. Canadians see it for what it is, another tax or an election gimmick. Only the Liberals could argue that a new tax will mean money in our pockets while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To make matters worse, the Prime Minister is personally withholding documents that show the true cost of the carbon tax, both for families and businesses. The reality is that the Prime Minister's carbon tax will make everything more expensive, from driving to work to feeding our families to filling our gas tanks. Canadians will see through this election gimmick, and we will hold the government and the Prime Minister to account for it.

I know the Liberals will keep on repeating the same old tired message they have been repeating, a message that asks for our plan. I would like to be very clear. The Liberals do not have an environment plan. They have a tax plan, an election gimmick. It is another tax. It is nothing more. However, they have no plan to lower emissions. We believe that it is more important to arrive at a plan that will actually reduce global emissions, and that takes time to carefully consider. I would also like to be very clear that we will be unveiling a detailed and comprehensive environmental plan before the next election.

On top of taxing Canadians more through the carbon tax, the Prime Minister and the Liberals are working against Canadian jobs in the oil and gas sector, making our economy even more uncompetitive.

The Liberals have no plan to get the Trans Mountain expansion built. Thousands of workers have already lost their jobs because of the Prime Minister's failure to get any pipelines built. Canadians have lost their jobs because of the Liberals' damaging anti-energy policies. This cannot continue. The Liberals' anti-energy policies have driven more than $100 billion of investment out of Canada in the last two years. Talk about being uncompetitive; this is totally unacceptable.

The Federal Court of Appeal gave the Liberals clear direction to address their failure to properly consult with indigenous communities on the Trans Mountain expansion. However, instead of following those directions, the Liberals announced that they will launch another process, with no timeline, that will only further delay construction.

Canadian families cannot wait until next year for a plan. For the workers and communities affected by the Prime Minister's failure, every day counts. Getting the Trans Mountain expansion built should be the Prime Minister's top priority. What exactly is going on? He spent nearly $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money on the existing pipeline and still cannot tell workers when construction will start, how much it will cost or when it will be completed. The pipeline is crucial for workers across Canada, including the 43 first nation communities that have benefit agreements worth over $400 million, which now hang in the balance.

It seems like the Prime Minister is doing everything he can to phase out our energy sector. We just have to look at Bill C-69. This Liberal bill would again fail Canadian workers and the Canadian resource sector, making us even more uncompetitive. It would kill future resource development, drive jobs and investment out of the country and do nothing to enhance environmental protection.

Before the current Prime Minister became thePrime Minister , there were three private companies willing to invest more than $30 billion to build three nation-building pipelines that would have created tens of thousands of jobs and generated billions in economic activity. The Prime Minister killed two of them and put the Trans Mountain expansion on life support. Bill C-69 would block all future pipelines.

When the Prime Minister says he wants to phase out the oil sands, Canadians should believe him. In the last two years, over $100 billion of investment in the energy sector has been cancelled by the Liberal government. Over 100,000 good-paying, high-quality jobs in the resource sector have been lost. Under the current Prime Minister, energy investment in Canada has seen its biggest decline in over 70 years. Now the Bank of Canada predicts no new energy investment in Canada until after 2019.

The current Liberal government seems incapable of doing anything but raising taxes, creating red tape, and getting in the way of the energy sector. Our country's competitiveness is at stake, and the Liberals do not seem to care.

Yes, walking completed Conservative free trade agreements across the finish line is a good thing. They seem to be doing that, and we appreciate it. Whether it is the TPP, CETA or the modernized CIFTA, the government seems to understand the value of the free trade agreements that we, the Conservatives, helped arrange and worked on. However, it is important to understand that unless the Liberals stop raising taxes and creating out-of-control regulatory burdens, we will not be able to produce anything to trade with anyone. There needs to be a shift in thinking on the part of this anti-energy government. We hope this shift will start soon.

Let us hope that the modernized CIFTA is the beginning of some pragmatic thinking for the Liberals. CIFTA was a great achievement when concluded by our former Conservative government, and it is still very much worthy of supporting now.

As great friends of Israel, my Conservative colleagues and I will be supporting this agreement when it comes to a vote later.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

October 29th, 2018 / 5:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill C-85, an act that would amend and strengthen a free trade agreement between Canada and the only democracy in the Middle East. I speak with particularly passionate solidarity with Jews in Israel, around the world and in my riding of Thornhill tonight because this debate is taking place in the shadow of the hate-driven outrage in Pittsburgh on the weekend. I will speak more directly of that in a few moments.

First, I will speak to Bill C-85. Canada's original formal free trade agreement with Israel came into force in 1997. Negotiations to update it began under Prime Minister Harper in 2014. The legislation we have before us today is the culmination of that work. It has taken a little longer perhaps than necessary under the Liberal government, and it does contain predictable elements of Liberal virtue signalling, but overall it is a good, strong agreement agreement that contains the chapters our Conservative government considered essential to bringing the original free trade agreement to address the realities of the 21st century.

Unlike the most recent updated but diminished trade agreement with another democratic ally clumsily achieved in desperation at the 11th hour with great give and little get, this free trade agreement would truly be a win-win for both Canada and Israel. This updated deal would expand market access for both Canada and Israel. It would include new chapters related to intellectual property, e-commerce and labour, and would preserve and protect a provision that recognizes Israel's customs laws, the one that accepts that all merchandise from the West Bank—manufactured goods, produce, and wine—can be sold in Canada marked with the label “Product of Israel”.

Now, the Liberals defer responsibility for this determination to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, but it is clearly a matter of international trade law.

As we did while in government, the Conservatives are pleased to enthusiastically endorse this reality, which not only provides quality products to the Canadian marketplace but also provides good jobs, fair wages and broader opportunities for Palestinians, opportunities that should improve the economic and social environment for an eventual negotiated peace agreement, which would see Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in a peaceful co-existence that has, for most of the past century, been obstructed by tyrants and terrorists who would rather continue the futile, tragic, hateful obsession with eliminating the State of Israel and the Jewish population with it.

I have been to Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and the neighbouring countries of the Levant many times over the years. My first visit was to have been in June 1967, as a journalist assigned to cover the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. However, that conflict was so short, six days, and Israel so decisively defeated the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian forces, and in the process liberated the Old City of Jerusalem that our crew's assignment was cancelled before we could get to the region.

Therefore, my first visit to Israel did not occur until October 1973, during the fourth Arab-Israeli war, launched by Syria and Egypt on the holiest day of the Jewish year, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. That was when I first really understood the vulnerability of this tiny democratic country.

Very early each morning during the war, our crew would go to Beit Sokolov, the journalists' house in central Tel Aviv, to be assigned a military officer to accompany us to either the northern front on the Golan Heights, or on other days, to the Egyptian front, across the Gaza Strip through the Mitla or Gidi passes on to the Sinai desert battlefield. For a young Canadian journalist accustomed to vast spaces between provincial, let alone national, borders, it came as a shocking realization that in covering war in tiny Israel, it was only a matter of hours to either front.

The Yom Kippur War was, as all conflicts are, a costly and deadly war for all parties. It was the closest that Israel's enemies in the Arab world came to achieving their obsessive, destructive objective. In fact, only last minute emergency resupply of aircraft and ammunition from the United States turned the tide.

I still have powerful memories of the dogfights over the Golan; being strafed near Quneitra; crossing the Suez Canal on a Bailey bridge with General Sharon's tank column, part of the encirclement and capture of the Egyptian Sixth Army; the truce negotiations at kilometre 101 between the Israeli and Egyptian generals; and of sitting on Mount Hermon on the night of October 25, 1973, waiting to see whether the truce between Syria and Israel would hold and the fighting stop.

It did, although over the decades since, we have seen lesser conflicts: the Lebanon wars, the Palestinian intifadas, the Gaza war and, until today, Iran's proxy-sponsoring of continued terrorist rocketing and attempted terrorist infiltration from Gaza. In fact, this past weekend, we saw dozens of rockets fired from Gaza by Islamic Jihad on orders from Iran's Quds Force, coincidentally only hours before the hate-driven, deadliest attack on a Jewish community in North America at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue. Most of the rockets from Gaza were intercepted, shot down by Israel's Iron Dome defence system. Israel responded with air strikes against 80 sites across Gaza.

In North America, in my home riding of Thornhill and across Canada, as across the United States, there have been heartfelt condolences offered to victims of the weekend atrocity, and today, to the victims of the Pittsburgh murder, declarations of unity against hate and plans for multi-faith vigils. Nonetheless, this weekend's events are a terrible reminder that Israel and Jewish communities in the diaspora remain under constant threat from individuals and organizations that would destroy it and destroy them.

This brings me to happier recollections of visits to Israel as a member of Parliament and as a minister, as a member of Prime Minister Harper's historic visit to Israel and his powerful restatement of Canada's commitment to Israel, through fire and water. As Prime Minister Harper said in his speech in the Knesset, “to [really] understand the special relationship between Israel and Canada, [we] must look beyond trade...to the personal ties of friendship and [of] kinship”. He paid tribute to the people of Israel, saying and applauding, their “courage in war”, their “generosity in peace, and the bloom that the desert has yielded”. Stephen Harper is still a champion of Israel today, if from a different dimension.

The Conservatives, under a new leader, are equally committed to this deep relationship and still hold to the pledge to stand with Israel through fire and water. Our leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, has vowed to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel when we regain government in 2019. He has clearly restated, without equivocation or ambiguity, that Canada's Conservatives have been and always will be a strong voice for Israel and the Canadian Jewish community; that Israel is one of Canada's strongest allies, a beacon of pluralism and democratic principles in a turbulent part of the world; and that Canada's Conservatives recognize the obvious fact that Israel, like every other sovereign nation, has a right to determine where its capital is located, and that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

Let me close by restating my enthusiastic support for Bill C-85, an act to amend and to strengthen a free trade agreement between Canada and the only democracy in the Middle East.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

October 29th, 2018 / 6 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's shared concern and disgust at the events in the synagogue in Pittsburgh, the continuing threats to our holy places of all faiths in Canada and the amount of time, effort, security and money that needs to be expended to guarantee the security of these vulnerable holy meeting places.

On the member's point about the benefits of trade, it is indeed with trade agreements like the agreement originally signed with Israel in 1997, which we are building upon with Bill C-85 today, that enable the growth of trade between countries and opportunities in either partner country with regard to developing trade relationships.

When Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Canada a few years ago in talks with our government, both he and Prime Minister Harper, and I am sure the Prime Minister today, recognized that there was a great deal more opportunity to be taken advantage of with respect to growth and mutual benefit than we had seen, even today, with the growth in the last two decades. Certainly—