Evidence of meeting #10 for International Trade in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was aluminum.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Donat Pearson  President, Syndicat National des Employés de l'Aluminium d'Arvida Unifor - Local 1937
Éric Gilbert  Vice-President, Syndicat National des Employés de l'Aluminium d'Arvida Unifor - Local 1937
Mike Kilby  President and Chief Executive Officer, Dajcor Aluminum
Brian Topp  Partner, KTG Public Affairs
Jamie Pegg  General Manager, Honey Bee Manufacturing Ltd.
Shelley Bacon  Chief Executive Officer, Northern Cables Inc.
Todd Stafford  President, Northern Cables Inc.
Scott D. Smith  Manager, Components, Systems and Integration, Honey Bee Manufacturing Ltd.
Leigh Smout  Executive Director, World Trade Centre Toronto, Toronto Region Board of Trade
Tabatha Bull  Chief Operating Officer, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
Bridgitte Anderson  President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

5:50 p.m.

President, Northern Cables Inc.

Todd Stafford

No, it would be the same for all of our competitors. It would be a level playing field.

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Further on, it states that you are expanding and trying to find new markets in the United States. Can you describe a few examples of those new markets?

5:50 p.m.

President, Northern Cables Inc.

Todd Stafford

Well, we make industrial and commercial cables. We do not make residential cables. Obviously, commercial construction in the metropolitan areas is very strong. We've established seven warehouses in the U.S. that we ship to customers from, covering mostly the eastern seaboard down into Texas, because freight is a big issue for large cables. We are slowly expanding into the Midwest, into the oilfields of the Dakotas. We make a lot of industrial cables for mining. There's a good mining market in Nevada.

Those are all opportunities for us.

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Are there any concerns and/or fears that the new CUSMA—or the new NAFTA, if you will—will impact the ability of companies such as yours to find new markets either in the U.S. or abroad? Is there any concern?

5:50 p.m.

President, Northern Cables Inc.

Todd Stafford

Our only concern is that it's an opportunity for us if Canada participates as an equal partner, but Mexico is an untapped market for us.

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

That's great to know.

I have a final question for you.

As my colleague, Mr. Carrie, mentioned earlier regarding the CBSA, I'm not sure if you're aware of it, but to date I have seen nothing in the new CUSMA that is going to give the CBSA more training and/or more funds and/or more people.

My riding is Essex down by Windsor, which is the busiest international border crossing in North America. I'm cautiously optimistic that it's going to be a smooth transition, but I have my reservations on that front, which goes to my question.

I notice here that Northern Cables states it experiences seasonal markets. Will the timing of the ratification and the need for effective implementation impact those seasonal markets?

5:50 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Northern Cables Inc.

5:50 p.m.

President, Northern Cables Inc.

Todd Stafford

We don't expect it to, no.

5:50 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Northern Cables Inc.

Shelley Bacon

It's more weather related. One never knows what kind of fall and winter one is going to have. That has a tendency to either increase or decrease the amount of construction one can do given the weather conditions. That's the seasonality to it.

However, we don't expect it to affect our trade, no.

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Very well.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

5:55 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Northern Cables Inc.

Shelley Bacon

I'd like to add one comment about CBSA, if I could, Mr. Lewis.

We were under the impression, perhaps rightly or wrongly, that if a material were going to enter the country, it should be entering the country at recognized world market prices. Simply, if I were to purchase a vehicle for somebody and go to the licensing bureau and say that I only paid $1 for the car, they wouldn't permit that. They would say, “Well, you didn't pay $1 for that car. Here's the fair market value. You're going to pay tax on that.”

Similarly with our industry, cables should not be able to enter this country below fair market value because it is not fair trade practice. We cannot compete against a country such as China, which subsidizes its industry.

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Very well.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

Ms. Bendayan.

February 25th, 2020 / 5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I'd be happy to continue the conversation with you gentlemen from Northern Cables.

First, it's a pleasure to hear how proud you are to be sourcing your aluminum from Quebec, so thank you for that, and also to speak with you this morning about your very constructive comments.

I've taken note of the concern regarding the importation of aluminum at fair market value from other countries, and of the complaint of the United States manufacturer . I'd be happy to take a follow-up meeting with you, as I'm sure my colleagues on the other side would as well.

I also heard you mention, and read in your description, that you have increased the number of manufacturing facilities and distribution centres. I believe you have three manufacturing facilities and six distribution centres now.

How many employees does Northern Cables have at the moment?

5:55 p.m.

President, Northern Cables Inc.

Todd Stafford

We have 250 employees.

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

That's fantastic.

Where is your customer base principally?

5:55 p.m.

President, Northern Cables Inc.

Todd Stafford

It's primarily in North America. We export quite a bit to the U.S., and some of our industrial cables end up in Latin America and the Caribbean.

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

I heard you say that Mexico is an untapped market for you. Do you feel that the new CUSMA would allow you to perhaps export and find new customers in Mexico?

5:55 p.m.

President, Northern Cables Inc.

Todd Stafford

Definitely. We hope it will open some doors. We actually investigated that prior to CUSMA. However, we hope that this agreement will make it that much easier, and as we grow, participate with Export Development Canada into the U.S. We are told that Canadian products are very highly regarded in Mexico, even more so than American-made products.

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

Wonderful.

Madam Chair, how much longer do I have?

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

You have another three minutes.

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

Thank you very much.

I would ask one more technical question of you at Northern Cables. I'm not very well versed in the harmonization standards that you refer to. You mentioned that in order to better support manufacturers such as you, we would need to look at the CSA and UL. Could you help me understand what you're referring to?

5:55 p.m.

President, Northern Cables Inc.

Todd Stafford

Electrical power cables in Canada have to be sold as meeting a CSA standard, basically for safety and quality. In the U.S. it's UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, which does those specs. We participate with the Standards Council of Canada and our industry federations. We sit on standards committees and there is a real drive, as there has been for decades, to harmonize and globalize standards. Our concern is that harmonizing is not necessarily standardization but more of a race to the bottom. This trade agreement may add fuel to that fire.

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

I see. Thank you.

I'll turn now to our friends at Honey Bee.

Thank you for making the trip to Ottawa. I also saw in the description of Honey Bee quite an impressive growth of your company recently, 100,000 square feet of production and warehousing in Saskatchewan.

5:55 p.m.

General Manager, Honey Bee Manufacturing Ltd.

Jamie Pegg

Yes. Engineering, as you're hearing, is the primary thing. Development is what we need to focus on. A few years ago, as the company grew, it outgrew the footprint we had so we've added a complete R and D building to that, to be able to work through that, understanding that innovation is the key for our products moving forward. Really, what we're asking for here today is a chance to be able to share that innovation with the rest of the world. There are lots of other companies that are doing the exact same thing we are.