Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for that clarification.
I want to say a few words about the bill in the context of the reality of the government's trade policy and foreign policy generally.
Panama is a relatively small economy, but it is an important player in the Americas and an important market for Canada. In fact, it is a stable country which has made significant progress in recent years in terms of development and democracy, which Canada can play an important role in encouraging.
I had the experience four years ago of being part of a delegation led by the Speaker to three francophone countries in Africa, Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali, with the purpose of encouraging democratic development by holding conferences and discussing how our system works as opposed to theirs. That was an important process.
We talked, for example, about the role of an official opposition and how important it was to have one. Even if my colleagues opposite may not always enjoy that experience, they know it is important to have one. That was actually a novel concept for some of the parliamentarians we were talking to. We could see how the discussion was getting them thinking about ways they might want to see change in their own country. There are things that we as a country can do to encourage democratic development.
Of course, Canada is a trade-dependent nation. Eighty per cent of our economy depends on access to foreign markets for Canadian exports. Imagine that. That is incredible. Eighty per cent of our economy depends on access to foreign markets.
It used to be, 20 years ago, that 90% of our exports went to one country, the U.S., and these days it is about 80%. That has been a change, but is still a huge proportion of our exports and economy that is dependent upon one trading partner, the United States, a very important partner and good friend. It is a good sign that there has been some progress in increasing our trade elsewhere and we should keep trying to do so.
That is one of the reasons the Liberal Party supports the principle of free trade, because Canada is an exporting country. If we cannot get access to other markets, we have real problems. That is why the negotiations that led to the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement were started under the Trudeau government. I have some knowledge of that because my dad was the minister of international trade at the time. Interestingly, the secretary of trade for the U.S. had the same last name. His name was Donald Regan as opposed to Gerald Regan, who was my dad.