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Evidence of meeting #28 for International Trade in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was beef.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Nancy A. Donaldson  Director, Washington Office, International Labor Organization
Patricia Chapdelaine  Executive Vice-President, Operations and Technical Designs, Nygård International
John Masswohl  Director, Government and International Relations, Canadian Cattlemen's Association
David I. Hudson  Representative, Chairman, Indo-British Garments, Nygård International
Sharon Clarke  Director, Communications and Public Relations, Nygård International

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Do you have any idea of the gross value of our exports in beef and beef products at the moment?

11:40 a.m.

Director, Government and International Relations, Canadian Cattlemen's Association

John Masswohl

Yes. The beef side has been very small. We were shut out until February of 2009. The BSE restrictions were lifted in 2009.

That said, the trade statistics show that we exported I believe about $21,000 worth in 2007. That's small. It could even be a statistical error, being that small. Then there was nothing in 2008 and nothing in 2009 or 2010. I believe there were a few half-carcasses that went in 2011, less than $10,000 worth, so it's very, very small.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Part of the reason I ask is that it's good to open up a market, but the second point you raised was the Korean market. One of the problems I have with this government—and the members opposite have heard me say it before—is that on many of these trade agreements they love to talk numbers and say, well, we have seven agreements now, and now we have nine.... But what really matters is the result, and I maintain the government has been asleep at the switch in terms of some of our traditional markets, both the United States and Canada-Korea.

When he was here on Tuesday, I asked the minister a question on the Korean agreement and us being displaced there, and he failed to answer. So I think it's important that you tell the committee how important it is.

As I understand it, between beef and pork, the Korean market is about a billion dollars. Starting today, we become less and less competitive as time goes on. Just what will that mean to the beef and hog industry over the long term if the government doesn't get off its butt, get in there, and get an agreement that stabilizes us and puts us on a par with the U.S.?

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder Conservative London West, ON

On a point of order, Chair, what's the relevance to Jordan?

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Yes, we are talking about the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement, although the testimony of the witness did bring up the Korean agreement. I'll allow a short answer.

11:45 a.m.

Director, Government and International Relations, Canadian Cattlemen's Association

John Masswohl

We certainly have prioritized. We've worked very closely with Minister Ritz to make sure that he's aware of the priorities, as well as Minister Fast. We've been quite pleased with the work they've been doing in those marketplaces.

We've spent a lot of time over the last couple of years on getting the Korean market reopened. The government put a lot of effort into prosecuting that WTO case for us, and we did achieve that market opening. I guess we would very much like to see the next step, which is to finalize the free trade negotiations. They're well advanced. It shouldn't take too many meetings to finish that off.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

Mr. Hiebert.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'll be splitting my time with Mr. Shipley.

I'd like to start my questioning with Mr. Hudson and Dubai.

Mr. Hudson, I'm sure you're familiar with the articles that came out in 2010 relating to alleged abuses in IBG factories. Can you confirm that you are familiar with those accusations?

11:45 a.m.

Representative, Chairman, Indo-British Garments, Nygård International

David I. Hudson

Yes, I can confirm that. I'm very much aware of them. Should I make a comment on that?

March 15th, 2012 / 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

You can comment in just a moment, perhaps. To judge by the information we've been provided, it appears that all your improvements were made as a result of the national labour committee's report, media interest in the story, and an emergency delegation from the United Steelworkers. The conclusion is that things have improved substantially. To what degree was that the impetus for this. Is it true? Is it correct that things were bad until they got put under a microscope?

11:45 a.m.

Representative, Chairman, Indo-British Garments, Nygård International

David I. Hudson

It almost looks that way, doesn't it? We were particularly incensed over this. There was an American, New York-based or Washington-based, who went and wrote a report that started all this. Nobody ever visited the factory. The Jordanian government was particularly upset with them. Quite frankly, I would have been very happy suing them, but it was going to be too costly. We took over two or three factories. We bought them. We've been continually improving them. I believe we won an award from the Jordanian government. I've been visiting the factories continually. In fact, I took the board of directors to see the factory and we assembled all of the staff to talk to them. We've been around the accommodations. We have security, remote television, and they have had their own committees improve it. The conditions are very good. Everyone's in uniform. We have on-site medical, and it is replicating what we have in India, where we started a factory in 2007.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Were these changes brought about before the media attention or after it?

11:45 a.m.

Representative, Chairman, Indo-British Garments, Nygård International

David I. Hudson

I would say two things. The improvements were started when we bought the factories, because we were not satisfied with the conditions. They were an ongoing business, so the improvements were under way, and the media attention did not change any of our policies or our emphasis. Whatever was done, was going to be done.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

I have just....

11:50 a.m.

Representative, Chairman, Indo-British Garments, Nygård International

David I. Hudson

And the improvements are continuing.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Thank you.

11:50 a.m.

Representative, Chairman, Indo-British Garments, Nygård International

David I. Hudson

I'd be very happy to personally meet anyone and show them around, because we're very proud of what we have in Jordan.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Thank you.

My next question is for Ms. Chapdelaine of Nygård in Winnipeg. You talked about the compliance policies you have with these companies and you elaborated on them at length. How are they enforced, these policies? Have you had to take measures to enforce them?

11:50 a.m.

Executive Vice-President, Operations and Technical Designs, Nygård International

Patricia Chapdelaine

With the exception of the overtime, I haven't had to. The overtime is not against what is in the labour laws. In Jordan it's more about being on the golden list, which limits the overtime a lot.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

If the company doesn't comply with the policy, and you find out that they're not in compliance, what do you do? What methods do you have to force them to comply?

11:50 a.m.

Executive Vice-President, Operations and Technical Designs, Nygård International

Patricia Chapdelaine

We could remove our production, but that's not going to immediately correct anything. We try to work with the labour ministry. They can be penalized monetarily. Factories are penalized and removed from the golden list so that they can't produce for certain customers.

11:50 a.m.

Representative, Chairman, Indo-British Garments, Nygård International

David I. Hudson

Could I just comment on that?

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

I'll allow you to quickly answer.

11:50 a.m.

Representative, Chairman, Indo-British Garments, Nygård International

David I. Hudson

Nygård has four to five people in the IBG factory at any one time. And IBG has been on the golden list for the last four years.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

We'll go to Mr. Shipley.