Evidence of meeting #105 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was businesses.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Matthew Sreter  Executive Director, Strategic Policy Development and Integration, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Ana Renart  Director General, Market Access, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Peter Burn  Member, Canadian International Trade Tribunal
Pierre Marier  Director, Procurement, Trade and Environment, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Eric Wildhaber  Senior Counsel, Secretariat to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada, Canadian International Trade Tribunal

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

I agree with Mr. Whalen. It would be interesting to find trade balances or imbalances on some of the procurement we're talking about.

I have a couple of quick questions for you.

We talked about our trade agreements and how we have to make sure that they don't favour local companies. How are we ensuring that Canadian companies are getting fair access down in the States? Is it all complaint-driven, or do we proactively check on fairness? That's for anyone.

Is this like a secret...?

11:35 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

11:35 a.m.

Director General, Market Access, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Ana Renart

No, it's absolutely not a secret. I'm making sure we're getting it right.

It is complaint-driven. We don't proactively check to see whether they're following their obligations. We do have a wonderful trade commissioner service, which will help companies access by explaining rules—

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Sorry, but if it's complaint-driven, what market are most of the complaints in? I don't mean geographic market, but business market. I assume that most of it is based around the U.S., seeing as they are our largest partner.

November 2nd, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.

Pierre Marier Director, Procurement, Trade and Environment, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Yes. That's exactly right. To the extent that we're getting complaints from Canadian stakeholders in terms of accessing foreign government procurement markets, it's mostly in the United States, and that's because the United States has—

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

What business market is it? Is it construction or engineering services?

11:40 a.m.

Director, Procurement, Trade and Environment, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Pierre Marier

It's mostly construction-related, and around infrastructure developments in particular, so that's construction services. Often associated with that is the procurement of construction materials, particularly steel. Also, in the public transit sector, the United States does maintain some discriminatory policies. The Buy America program is discriminatory in nature. We do not have access to Buy America measures in the United States, so of course we do have some Canadian companies that do not have preferential treatment for the U.S. market. We work with them on a regular basis in terms of—

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

How are we protecting Canadian companies from dumping through bidding in our infrastructure procurement? Again, is it complaint-driven? The reason I'm asking is that in Edmonton we have cement companies that produce a lot of jobs, but they're commenting that they believe there is foreign dumping of cement sales.

Again, is that all complaint-driven? Are we proactive in looking at that? I know that Mr. Weir is probably going to follow up on the steel issue, but....

11:40 a.m.

Director General, Market Access, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Ana Renart

Do you want to address dumping?

11:40 a.m.

Member, Canadian International Trade Tribunal

Peter Burn

Well—

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Again, it's a pretty simple question—

11:40 a.m.

Member, Canadian International Trade Tribunal

Peter Burn

It's complaint-driven.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

It's complaint-driven.

11:40 a.m.

Member, Canadian International Trade Tribunal

Peter Burn

It's totally complaint-driven, to us. It will have to go through CBSA for the determination of whether there actually was dumping and whether that complaint is valid. They have to prepare a comprehensive complaint. It comes to us, and then we will look for injury. That's the kind of process that happened, for example, in gypsum earlier this year, after the fire.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Walk me through the timing, though. If in a major procurement in Edmonton, for example, a local company, says, “Wait a moment; they're dumping”, the city can't just sit and wait for a year. Well, actually, our city does sit and wait a couple of years before they build stuff, but they can't normally sit and wait a couple of years until it works its way through the process. Is it that the city just goes ahead, or the province goes ahead, or the feds go ahead with the procurement, and we deal with the fallout or penalties later?

11:40 a.m.

Member, Canadian International Trade Tribunal

Peter Burn

Eric, give it a go on our side.

11:40 a.m.

Eric Wildhaber Senior Counsel, Secretariat to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada, Canadian International Trade Tribunal

We don't follow, really, the interplay between procurement and dumping, but for sure a dumping complaint will first go to the CBSA, and the CBSA does have a very extensive program for aiding small and medium-sized businesses and other complainants to bring their complaint together. They will gather varied information, and some of that information, indeed, in some instances, I would imagine, would be evidence of lost tenders. That may very well be public tendering. That may very well be private tendering as well.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Ms. Renart or Mr. Marier, it's been announced in the economic update, I think it was, that we're investing several hundred million dollars in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Is that going to open up opportunities for Canadian companies?

In Edmonton, we have Stantec. Of course we have SNC-Lavalin and a couple of other very large and well-known international engineering firms. Is that going to open up procurement opportunities for Canadian companies, and if so, will that be protected by our trade agreements for fairness?

11:40 a.m.

Director General, Market Access, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Ana Renart

Whenever we negotiate FTAs, we'll normally include provisions on GP, government procurement, so—

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

I'm asking specifically. Do you know about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank?

11:40 a.m.

Director General, Market Access, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Ana Renart

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is not our lead at trade, but normally they would be included in FTAs.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Very quickly—and this is for anyone—what qualifies as an aboriginal business? Is it ownership? Is it a percentage of workers?

11:40 a.m.

Executive Director, Strategic Policy Development and Integration, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Matthew Sreter

Within the procurement strategy for aboriginal business, PSAB, there are qualifiers and definitions for what constitutes an aboriginal business. It could relate to ownership, participation, number of employees, and so on and so forth. During the session on PSAB that I understand you'll be examining, we can delve into that further.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

I was hoping you'd just tell me, but that's fine.

Do we get complaints about—

11:45 a.m.

Executive Director, Strategic Policy Development and Integration, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Matthew Sreter

I don't have it with me.