Mr. Speaker, the point is well taken. Let me put some framework around my response.
It was very exciting to be in Prague last week with the Prime Minister as we formally signed a declaration that gives our negotiators in Canada and in the EU the ability to start the negotiations on a free trade agreement.
For Canada, the benefits of that would be huge. We have run some econometric numbers on it, and if there were a free trade agreement in place right now between us and the 27 countries of the EU, our exports would be $12 billion more than if we did not have one or do not get one.
I want members to consider the impact of an extra $12 billion of exports right now in this time of economic downturn. It is huge and it is very positive. It would create jobs and opportunities.
With all trade arrangements, there are always, without exception, going to be disputes about a particular trade item. What we have then is a mechanism to handle the dispute in such a way that the whole agreement is not cratered.
We always have one dispute or another, even before tribunals, with the Americans, for instance, or possibly with the Mexicans in our free trade agreement. We do not trash the whole agreement and affect the livelihoods of thousands, and in fact, with NAFTA, millions of people.
With the EU, it is going to affect millions of people. We do not trash a whole broader agreement because of one dispute, however passionately we feel about that dispute. So we can do the two separately.
By the way, the Prime Minister did raise this particular issue with the members of the commission with whom we met last week, and he raised it in a very strong way, but we are also going to continue negotiations to get a broader economic agreement under that umbrella.