Evidence of meeting #29 for International Trade in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was negotiations.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Martin Moen  Director, North America Commercial Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Robert Brookfield  Deputy Legal Adviser and Director General, Trade Law Bureau, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

If you're going to give Mr. Lauzon some time—

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Lauzon has a very personal...aspect of what can happen to a community when they don't have agreements in place.

Mr. Lauzon, I'll give you the floor.

August 18th, 2016 / 10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Like Ms. Lapointe, I am a francophone, but thanks to assimilation, I am more comfortable in English.

That said, I would like to give you a personal experience. I understand why my colleagues are so passionate and so emotional about this issue, because I lived the results of a closure of a plant—Domtar in Cornwall. I represent the city of Cornwall. I was a member of Parliament in 2006, when I had to go down to the local college where principals of Domtar conducted a special meeting with 600 employees and told them their jobs, paying approximately $60,000 a year, were coming to an end. I can tell you what happened to our city, what happened to those people.

Folks, I'm not intimately aware of all the implications of the softwood agreement, but I can tell you that we're dealing with people's lives here—350,000. I've seen the ramifications. If you don't get this right, folks, there's going to be a lot of pain in this country. I saw it in a small community of 45,000 people. I urge you to please do what's necessary to get this softwood agreement.

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

Thank you, sir. I know how you feel. We closed the coal mines in Cape Breton, and they were the biggest employer. It's a hard thing, especially when you're an elected representative.

We have time for one more question. I hear the Liberals are going to split it.

Mr. MacKinnon, and Mr. Arya.

Go ahead, sir.

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I represent a riding in the Quebec part of the Outaouais region. The forestry industry is the region's backbone and its foundation. As my colleague Mr. Lauzon and other colleagues said, the forestry industry is likely experiencing a crisis.

However, I find it ironic that we have gathered here to discuss a potential agreement or negotiations, given that those negotiations were not concluded before the agreement expired, last October. That forces us to negotiate under the gun during a U.S. election year. I can only express my sincere disappointment over the fact that no agreement was concluded with the United Stated before the previous agreement expired.

That said, I would like to start discussing matters with our witnesses, whom I thank for joining us today. I would like them to tell us, if they can, about the particular situation of the Outaouais, but to first comment on Quebec's situation. That province has taken measures to make its industry more compliant with the requirements of international trade standards and, of course, the standards related to trade within North America and the United States.

Could you talk to us about Quebec's position and any developments related to that province?

10:55 a.m.

Director, North America Commercial Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Martin Moen

We've worked very closely with the provincial government in Quebec and Quebec industry. In November, when we did our initial consultations, we heard very clearly that there was support for a negotiated settlement, a negotiation of an agreement. We heard very clearly from the Quebec government and producers that they wanted to ensure that in the agreement there was a provision for exits. They believe very strongly that the reforms they've taken, if properly reviewed, would lead to an exit; but at the time the view was very clear that it was important to get an agreement for certainty, and there was a willingness to use the exit provision later.

Some in the Quebec industry have since said that they want an exclusion now, but the view that we continue to hear very clearly from many producers in Quebec and from the Quebec government is that we should pursue an agreement so long as it has this exit provision. We have made that a priority in our discussions. For example, in the joint statement of leaders from June, there was reference to such an exit provision as being a critical element of the deal.

There are other issues, of course, that are important for Quebec, such as the border mills that I've already mentioned, and we continue to work on that.

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

Thank you.

Mr. MacKinnon, you're splitting your time with Mr. Arya.

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

I'm very glad there's ongoing consultation, in addition to the provinces, with the Business Advisory Council and the aboriginal stakeholders. My understanding is that the Business Advisory Council consists of small, medium, and large producers. In particular, I'm interested in the small producers, because I've always championed the cause of small business, especially the small manufacturing companies and their focus on high-value products, specialized products, the remanufacturing. You said this is all being considered.

I missed the last two portions of the four main points in the negotiations. First is the appropriate structure; second is the meaningful, reasonable exit position. The other two I missed, so can you kindly highlight them, please.

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

You just have a minute, so it will have to be a short answer.

10:55 a.m.

Director, North America Commercial Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Martin Moen

There's structure, an exit provision, and of course appropriate exclusions, including for the Atlantic provinces and for companies that source from the United States or from private lands. Then, of course, there's the treatment of high-value products, remanufacturing, and that whole issue. I also mentioned, of course, that the U.S. will want to see anti-circumvention provisions, which would be reasonable to have in the agreement. I also mentioned joint market development.

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

Thank you, sir.

That ends the questioning. I'm glad everybody got a chance to ask a question here today. Welcome to any new committee members who took the time to join our committee today.

That concludes our meeting.

Thank you, gentlemen, for coming in and giving us as much as you know.

The meeting is adjourned.