Mr. Speaker, I could almost pick up where I left off earlier this morning on a completely different debate because this morning we were talking about this sense of anti-Americanism that is coming out of I guess the government side of the House in relation to the war in the Middle East.
I think there will some connection made tonight between Motion No. 391 that we are speaking to now and the earlier debate today in the House.
I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade. We will lay our cards on the table very quickly that we cannot support the motion for a number of reasons, primarily because if we were to open up NAFTA again or chapter 11, it just will not happen. It is a very complicated and convoluted process and we will not do that. We will make some suggestions, as we have done in the past, which the government might consider. I do not think it is inconsistent with what the government is thinking.
The ironic thing, of course, is that we are talking about the NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is basically the sister to the free trade agreement that we signed with the United States of America in 1988.
I cannot leave without saying, as I look across at the parliamentary secretary who will have a chuckle or two I am sure, that it was a very hotly debated issue in the 1988 election. In fact, historians refer to it now as being the free trade election. That was the first election I ever ran in and I was successful, but it was a tough election.
The truth is that the Liberal Party at that time, I guess that would have included you, Mr. Speaker, because you came to the House at the same time as I did, but your argument convinced the people down in Cornwall that you were the person and I guess my argument sustained me back in New Brunswick, on that we will agree, but the Liberal Party at the time railed against it. I cannot blame that on the parliamentary secretary because in a real sense I think he came after. I think he is a free trader and understands that issue very well and is a businessman himself, in fact a farmer.
That being said, the Prime Minister of course was the man who said that he was going to renegotiate NAFTA. His predecessor, Mr. Turner, was the man who was going to tear up the free trade agreement. He lost that debate in the election of 1988.
Of course, between 1988 and 1993, not a day went by in the House without the mention of the free trade agreement and how the Americans basically duped us and we were done in by them. In the early days of the free trade agreement there were some readjustments for Canadians. There was legitimate concern whether it would benefit us as we told the Canadian people it would.
History has proven us right, as you well know, Mr. Speaker. Some of the statistics that I will point to are proof of that. These are not my statistics. They come from the parliamentary secretary's office, from the Minister for International Trade.
Let us take a look at exports. The Americans are our biggest export market. Let me speak of Newfoundland for the member for St. John's West. The percentage of increase in exports from his part of the country since the inception of the free trade agreement in 1988 has been 246%.
In P.E.I., one of our smaller provinces, there was an increase of 603% since 1988. In my home province of New Brunswick there has been an increase of 257%. Actually some of the smaller provinces have done better than the larger ones on a percentile basis, although we could argue that the province that benefited the most obviously was Ontario, the industrial engine of Canada, if we listen to the Liberal members from Ontario.