Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Willowdale for her interest in this subject. It gives me an opportunity to further explain the buy American issue.
Our government has been working on a number of fronts to resolve the Canadian industry concerns regarding the expanded buy American requirement in the recent U.S. legislation. We are also working closely with the provinces and territories to secure immediate relief for Canadian businesses from the buy American provisions of the recovery act.
The provinces and the territories have truly stepped up to the plate. They have reached an unprecedented agreement on an ambitious package of sub-federal procurement commitments. This has given the government the consensus needed to engage the U.S. administration and seek an exemption for Canada from the buy American provisions of the recovery act.
Canada's proposal also seeks agreement from the United States to explore a permanent reciprocal government procurement agreement, an agreement that would help us avoid these kinds of challenges in the future. The government sent this proposal to the U.S. in late August and the Minister of International Trade announced that Canada's chief negotiator, Mr. Don Stephenson, assistant deputy minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations, would lead Canada's negotiations efforts.
Since then Canadian and U.S. negotiating teams have held several sessions to work toward an agreement on this issue.
Senior members of government, including thePrime Minister and the Minister of International Trade, continue to raise Canada's concerns with the buy American provisions at every opportunity, including at the Prime Minister's meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and with key members of the Congress and the administration. As President Obama noted, our teams have been working together to ensure that these sources of tension diminish.
However, we are not stopping there. We also recognize the importance of getting our message out to all levels of decision makers in the U.S.
We are pursuing a robust advocacy strategy, building a coalition of U.S. allies to advocate in favour of keeping procurement markets open with Canada and engaging consuls general and the industry groups. Provinces and territories are supporting these efforts, while working to ensure that U.S. decision makers understand that open procurements are in the best interest of both our economies.
The Government of Canada has also undertaken traditional advocacy, delivering our messages directly to U.S. legislators, the U.S. trade representative, the secretary of commerce and their respective officials.
Finally, the government is conducting information sessions for Canadian industry to inform businesses about the opportunities created by the recovery act and strategies to access U.S. government procurement.
In particular, we are helping to clarify the process for obtaining waivers from the buy American requirements. A number of waivers have been issued so far for Canadian products, a testament not only to the integration of supply chains between Canada and the United States, but to the fact that the U.S. recognizes the importance of the integration.
For example, of the 17 project specific waivers issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, 10 have been for Canadian products, many of which are state of the art water treatment products.
Our efforts will continue in the time ahead. Both Canada and the United States depend on strong unfettered trade between our countries. Canadians can count on their government to work with our American counterparts at all levels to address this issue as quickly as possible.
I appreciate having the opportunity to address it here this evening.