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House of Commons Hansard #87 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, this question is particularly relevant. This framework agreement is the first, and there may be others with other countries. Apparently we will be using it to develop trade agreements with other Middle Eastern countries. That is the problem. What standards are we going to apply? Theirs, ours, those upon which we do not agree, where there are differences of opinion?

Unfortunately, in Canada, it seems that NAFTA has driven standards down. If one of the two countries has a lower standard, that will become the standard applied with respect to the use of certain products. One of the products that poses problems, paradoxically, is asbestos. What will be done with asbestos? We want it banned here, and we hope for a stop to the production of this pure poison. But certain countries may be interested in using it to make finished products that are exportable worldwide. These are the inherent dangers of a trade agreement that is negotiated on the cheap, in a rush, without ensuring that all human rights are respected.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure that I speak to the bill. I want to share some ideas in terms of the big picture and how important trade is to our country.

We appreciate the importance of labour legislation and labour laws. We recognize the value of our environment. We recognize how critically important it is that we advocate for strong, healthy, sustainable environments when economic development is taking place. We recognize how important it is to enshrine strong human rights, morals and mores not only in Canada but around the world.

As we become more and more part of a world economy, it is important that we deal with those very important social issues. I do not question that at all. In fact, I would encourage governments of whatever political stripe and whatever jurisdiction, whether it is a national government or a provincial government, to look at those social concerns and advocate where they can. It is safe to say that all constituents, including those who live in Winnipeg North, are concerned about those issues. We are all concerned about the exploitation of children and the damage to our environment. Some countries are far worse than others. Some countries have much higher standards.

It might come as a bit of a shock, but Canada is not the leader in every aspect. I like to believe that we play a very strong leadership role overall, but let us not fool ourselves as there is room for a lot of improvement within our borders. Having said that, it is important that we recognize there is much to be gained through trade and it is in our best interests to encourage it. Canada is a trading nation.

I did some research and came up with some numbers. In 2010, the province of Manitoba, which has a population of 1.25 million, had imports totalling $13.8 billion. That sum of money is the total GDP of many countries. Of that total, 81.4% came from the United States; $648 million came from China; $380 million came from Mexico; $210 million came from Germany; $203 million came from Denmark; and the balance came from other countries throughout the world.

Yesterday we were talking about a free trade agreement with Panama. Today we are talking about an agreement with Jordan. When we talk about other nations around the world, these are the countries we are talking about. Members of the New Democratic Party have said it is such a small amount and that Jordan is ranked 88th in terms of countries that we trade with, at somewhere around $86 million last year.

We heard a great deal of criticism of the country of Panama. We have to be very careful. Yes, Panama does have some issues, as does Jordan and many other countries. However, we do not undervalue the potential of those nations and the way in which trade can better the lives of everyone if it is dealt with in a fair fashion.

Some would argue that if we have a trade agreement with a country, we are endorsing what happens in that country in regard to labour and environmental laws, human rights issues and other concerns. Logically, we could say the same thing for international trade. Because we allow so much trade between Canada and other nations that have those types of social issues, does that mean we are endorsing that sort of behaviour in those countries? I would suggest that is not the case. As Canadians we have serious and genuine concerns in regard to those strong social issues. We have seen the value of economic development that has occurred between nations. Jordan is the country that happens to be the subject of the debate today.

I would like to highlight a country that I am passionate about, the Philippines, which I love dearly. The Philippines is the number one source for immigrants coming to Canada today. It has been the number one source of immigrants to the province of Manitoba for the last number of years. I like to think that the relationship between Canada and the Philippines involves more than just immigration. We need to develop and encourage our relationship. I challenge the Government of Canada and the Prime Minister to look at how we can extend beyond immigration. I would argue that Canada has a greater need for the Philippines than the Philippines has for Canada. We should be looking at how to expand that relationship.

My colleague from the New Democratic Party made reference to dating versus getting married. He said that dating means we allow trade and getting married means we have a free trade agreement. We need to look at getting married to countries like the Philippines because of the economic and social benefits for our two great nations.

We do not have to approach world trade or immigration or however we want to classify it as being a bad thing if it involves a free trade agreement. This is where it is confusing in terms of the message we are getting from the New Democrats.

Yesterday I asked the NDP finance critic to provide an example of a free trade agreement that the NDP had voted in favour of. He did not really answer the question, but I did get a chance to ask a follow-up question. The first thing that came to the member's mind was that the NDP supported the auto pact.

A lot of people supported the auto pact for a very good reason. The auto pact was an agreement that was achieved by Lester Pearson back in 1965. Canadians have benefited immensely under that agreement. Millions of jobs were created as a direct result of that agreement. It guaranteed a role for Canada in manufacturing vehicles. It was a great agreement. Lester Pearson happened to be a Liberal prime minister. The agreement was one of his greatest achievements. He set the stage in terms of the benefits we can achieve if we get good agreements. I am glad that the New Democrats supported that agreement.

We need to fast-forward to today and look at the valuable role we could play in terms of enhancing international trade, whereby all Canadians could benefit. To me, that is what this debate should be about.

The biggest criticism I would give the government on this particular bill is its attitude toward trade with some of our other larger trading partners. It seems to have been dropping the ball. It has not been successful at getting the guarantees that Canadians need in order to have access to some of those American and European markets for which we should be fighting.

A good example of that would be in Manitoba. Manitoba has a wonderful, vibrant pork industry. I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to see first-hand the strength of Manitoba's pork industry. I visited a Hutterite colony that had a hog barn with about 10,000 pigs being brought to a certain stage. After they hit that stage, they were loaded on a truck and brought out to Brandon where they were being slaughtered. I was able to tour the different facilities, from the birth to the actual packaging that was being exported. It was very impressive.

The first thing I had to do when I walked into the barn was to sanitize. I had to take a shower, put on a certain smock and the first room I walked into was a computer room. Our farmers on the Prairies are very much high tech these days. The computer told us how much food each pig was actually eating. It was all done based on any given week and ensuring that each animal was receiving the right amount of protein and food. From there, the pigs go to Brandon. Hundreds of jobs are being created in communities like Brandon and Neepawa, and many rural communities, because of the developing pork industry. It has grown from an industry back in the early 1990s, which was, and I am guesstimating here, likely less than $500,000, to an industry of millions of dollars today.

The pork that is being produced in the province of Manitoba is being exported. Manitoba needs to be able to export that pork in order to have the jobs that is has today, some very valuable jobs that are putting bread and butter on the tables of hundreds of families in the province of Manitoba. We need to have that market. Therefore, when Korea was having discussions with the United States, it is understandable why many farmers in the province of Manitoba were asking about Canada in Korea.

We could talk about the BSE crisis and the panic among the cattle producers in the prairie provinces. Again, hundreds, if not thousands of jobs were being dealt with. Trade means a great deal to individuals like those.

It goes beyond that. It is not just our agri-industries. The garment industry has had its ups and downs in the province of Manitoba, and I think it would be similar across Canada. That is why I believe there is a vested interest in looking at ways in which we can secure markets. It does not always need to be bad news. There are plenty of good news stories.

Certain sectors of the manufacturing industry in Manitoba have exploded and are doing exceptionally well. Whether it relates to buses with New Flyer Industries, a wonderful success story for the province of Manitoba, to the smaller but very successful Carte on Logan Avenue. These are companies manufacturing everything from buses to hydro components. They are not just producing products for the local markets of Manitoba. If so, they would not survive. They are producing products that are being sold internationally. Therefore, when we look at free trade agreements in principle, we see the benefits of that for Canadians.

However, we do need to be careful when we sign off on agreements. An example of that would be the garment industry. During the nineties, we had somewhere in the neighbourhood of about 8,000 or 9,000 Manitobans who were directly employed in the garment industry working on sewing machines and so forth. Over the last number of years, between 1999 and 2007, in and around that time frame, our garment industry took quite a blow. It actually went down to under 1,000 people who were working in that industry.

I have had the opportunity to have some discussions with some companies, such as Peerless Garments and Freed & Freed, which are doing wonderful work. I understand that even now there is some growth in that industry but it is an industry that does concern me.

We have a very important aerospace industry in the province of Manitoba. When looking at free trade agreements, I believe that, if done properly, they could benefit many different industries in the province of Manitoba, in fact in all of Canada. When we look at freer trade among different nations and at where we can formalize agreements in general, I think that is a positive endeavour.

Having said that, there is concern with the government not moving in other areas that are having a profound impact on jobs and on our manufacturing industry as a whole across Canada. As economies tried to adjust through the last recession, it is borderline in terms of where it is that we are going over the next year or two. We are concerned that the government has not really been there to support the industries to the degree that it could have been, which has caused a great deal of concern. It has taken some actions, such as the killing of the Canadian Wheat Board, which will have a very profound impact on our western provinces.

Once again, we are pleased to see that this bill is here and to, ultimately, see it go to committee, but we really do believe that the government needs to put more emphasis on and give more attention to the whole issue of the trade file with some of our larger trading partners.

I made reference to exports. In terms of imports, from Manitoba's perspective, it is the United States at 81.4%. Canadians are genuinely concerned that tens of thousands of jobs in those markets will be affected when we get companies moving from Ontario to the U.S., as well as the role the government has played in terms of trying to protect our jobs. Those are the types of concerns that we have today. We need to see the government take a much more proactive approach on that front.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

Noon

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could comment on how important he feels it is to have good labour practices in Canada and to ensure that good labour practices are entrenched in our free trade agreements to protect workers and elevate working conditions around the world.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

Noon

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely critical that, wherever we can, we promote and encourage good labour and environmental standards and human rights.

I will quote from a document, which is from Manitoba's perspective. It states:

Manitoba's exporting community benefits from all these agreements by receiving enhanced market access with preferential tariffs compared to their non-Canadian competitors. Enhanced market access for Manitoba exporters in new markets may encourage them to expand their existing markets and penetrate new markets in nations where Canada has concluded free trade agreements.

The free trade agreements they are talking about include places like Chile, Costa Rica, the European Free Trade Association, Colombia, Panama and Jordan. This report is co-authored by the NDP government in Manitoba and the Business Council of Manitoba. That is why it is important to acknowledge what the member has just said about environmental and labour protections, but we can do both, and that is what I would suggest is the answer.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

Noon

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the one thing I think my colleague and I can agree on is that, although sometimes trade agreements are not perfect, they do help both our country and the country with which we enter into an agreement.

We have seen the changes and the emergence of China over the last two decades. We are very familiar with the human right violations that were very apparent 20 years ago. We have also seen how the situation in China, because it has been exposed to other democracies around the world through trade, has certainly improved. I do not think it is where we are as a country but it has improved over the years.

When we had an opportunity to meet with delegations from Africa in the past, they did not talk about increases to aid. They talked about access to markets. They know that through access to markets, their situation will improve as well.

When New Democrats speak about trade agreements, they do not support free and open trade. They say that they want fair trade, which I think is what we all want, but in the absence of a perfect deal, I do not think we can impart our values on another country.

Is it not best that we enter into an agreement that we think we can have an impact both at home and with the country with which we sign the deal?

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

Noon

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

, Mr. Speaker, the member is right on in terms of his comments. What we would ultimately argue is that we can do both. We will not tell a country that we currently trade with that we have some issues by our standards and that, because of them, possibly human rights related, we will no longer trade with it. I do not believe that is the answer.

Who is prepared to say that we will end all trade with China because we do not like some of the things that are happening there? I do not even think New Democrats would advocate that we should end all trade with China. We can have free trade agreements with a country and still be able to work on the very important social issues. In fact, some would argue that we might even have a greater impact by having a free trade agreement with a country and being able to carry more influence. There is a lot of merit to that particular argument.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, to make it absolutely clear, the NDP is not against trade. It is not against free trade agreements either as long as they address the issues identified earlier in my speech.

We are not saying that we should stop trade with every country around the world. However, there is a big difference to being in a trading partnership and formalizing it into a bilateral trade agreement. A bilateral trade agreement that builds into it inequities for the people of Jordan compared to investors from Canada, we have a great deal of difficulty with that.

This is the time, as we are negotiating, to address giving some teeth to enforcement around labour laws and human rights. If my colleague's argument is seen through to the nth degree, then we would shut our eyes to what happens in other countries as long as we could buy and sell from them. I do not think that is where Canadians are.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, sometimes we have to agree to disagree. The NDP has never voted in favour of a free trade agreement, contrary to what its critic of finance said yesterday. He is already starting to get excited. Remember what Jack Layton said?

I have posed the question for the members of the NDP. One member of the NDP said yesterday, when I asked if he supported free trade agreements, “We have always opposed free trade treaties”.

Members cannot have it both ways and say that they are open to trade, that they support trade agreements and so forth, such as when the critic of finance said that they supported the auto pact. We are talking about the principle of free trade agreements. The NDP has never voted in favour of a free trade agreement.

The member is getting agitated. He might get a chance to ask question.

Correct me if I am wrong. I challenge any member of the New Democratic Party to stand up and say, “here is the free trade agreement we voted for”, and then name what it is.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the real question is this. When have the Liberals ever voted against a Conservative bad bill?

As members know, the softwood lumber sellout cost 60,000 jobs across the country. The Liberals voted for it even though they knew it would lead to the hemorrhaging of jobs across the country.

The Liberals voted for an agreement with Colombia. We have seen the most recent human rights reports stating that the murders are continuing with paramilitaries connected to the Colombian regime.

The Liberals are also supporting the Panamanian trade agreement, even though everyone, the IRS, the U.S. State Department and the OECD, have condemned Panama for acting as a money laundering centre for drug gangs.

Every time the Liberals say they do not care about that. The Conservatives have brought it forward so they will vote for it.

When have the Liberals ever voted against a bad deal negotiated by the Conservatives? Not once.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, the member kind of makes my point. I challenged him. I asked him a very simple question, and that was to tell me when the NDP had ever voted for a free trade agreement. Unless I am deaf, I did not hear the member cite one free trade agreement.

The reality is NDP members never have and by doing that, they have closed their eyes. They believe free trade is not in the best interest of Canadians. However, hundreds of thousands of Canadians today rely on the exportation and importation of products. It creates real, tangible jobs. That is what Canadians want. They want a government that is concerned about economic development to ensure a future for the industries that will provide those types of jobs. Yes, the Conservatives have made mistakes, but we need to focus our attention on those manufacturing jobs.

The NDP members have dropped the ball all the time. They just talk, talk, talk—

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Speaking of talk, talk, talk, resuming debate, the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have seen the Liberals' slavish devotion to everything the Conservatives bring forward, which is a big reason why they are down in that corner of the House of Commons. Every time the Conservatives brought forward a bad deal, badly negotiated, something we could see would have a negative impact, the Liberals voted for it. The electorate has duly punished them for what has been a slavish devotion to voting in favour, regardless of the consequences, of every Conservative bill. We are not like that. We read the bills, we look at the analysis and we analyze what the impacts will be to our industries.

With the softwood lumber agreement, the testimony brought forward to the international trade committee showed clearly that we would lose tens of thousands of jobs. It was badly negotiated. We could have driven a truck through the anti-circumvention clause. Canadian taxpayers and the industry have had to pick up the tens of millions of dollars in fines that have been levied ever since the bad deal was signed, supported by the Liberals and the Conservatives.

We have seen the Colombian trade deal. We raised concerns about human rights in the House. We were told by Conservatives and their Liberal allies that it would resolve the human rights problems in Colombia. Let me read from the most recent Human Rights Watch. It says that the new paramilitaries connected with the regime:

—have repeatedly targeted human rights defenders, Afro-Colombian and indigenous leaders, trade unionists, and victims’ groups seeking justice and recovery of land. [These] groups appear to be responsible for the 34 percent increase in cases of massacres registered in 2010 and the continued rise in cases reported during the first half of 2011.

We were told in the House by members from both the Conservative and Liberal Parties that signing the deal with Colombia would somehow reduce the ongoing massacres, rape, torture and the incredible human rights abuses taking place by paramilitaries connected with the Colombian government. However, exactly the opposite has occurred and there has been an increase.

We talked yesterday about the Panamanian agreement. The member for Trinity—Spadina and a whole variety of other NDP MPs spoke to this yesterday. It is absolutely inconceivable for me that, despite the findings of the OECD, the U.S. State Department and the IRS in the United States that Panama works as a money laundering sector for drug trafficking, the government would not even bring in a tax information exchange agreement before it threw the Panama agreement on the floor of the House. This is irresponsible action that does not lead to the kind of job creation we want to see in the country. The NDP is the only party that seems to be evaluating the impacts of these agreements, making comments and fighting in the House of Commons to defend Canadian values and ensuring that we get a trade system in keeping with profound Canadian values.

The argument used in the House, from the PMO talking points we have heard from the Conservatives over the last couple of days, is that the agreements have contributed to our economic prosperity. Again, the NDP MPs, who are strong, learned and hard-working, coming from a wide variety of backgrounds, are the only ones who have looked at the statistics to find out how we have done. There is no evaluation from the Conservative government before these agreements are brought into the House and there is absolutely no due diligence from any member of the Conservative Party to see how we have done when we sign these agreements.

As I mentioned yesterday, we are not doing very well. We have a record merchandise deficit. Increasingly, as our manufacturing facilities shut down, as plants close, such White Birch and Electro-Motive, we lose thousands of jobs. Now Canada is increasingly not keeping up and there is a merchandise deficit. Those manufactured goods are being imported now. Those jobs have gone to other countries.

The current account deficit on balance of payments is also at a record level. Even the raw resources the Conservatives love to ship out of the country simply do not keep up with what we need to import. Record levels of deficit in those two areas show a significant failure by the government in putting into place a trade strategy that works.

If we look at the job losses, it is even more horrendous. I know Conservatives like to throw out a different number every day, but they like to say that they have created a lot of jobs. Since May 2008, about 200,000 jobs were created. The problem is the labour force grew by 450,000. The government was a quarter of a million jobs short even before we hit the recession, the slow-down that took place in the fall. From September right through to the month of February, 60,000 full-time jobs were lost. That has been combined with the closure of factories that we have seen in various parts of our country.

Conservatives will say that it is okay that jobs are being lost, that the job market is simply not keeping up with the growth in the labour market, that they are a quarter of a million jobs behind and have lost 60,000 jobs, but they are creating good jobs. That is another line that comes from the Conservatives, but they have never offered any proof at all. In looking at the numbers from Statistics Canada, we can see quite a different record. In fact, the jobs that have been created tend to be part-time and temporary, the kinds of jobs that cannot sustain a family.

The net result is that any jobs the Conservatives manage to create pay $10,000 a year less than the jobs they have lost on their watch over the last six years. They have lost, as we know, 400,000 manufacturing jobs. The few jobs that the Conservatives have created pay $10,000 a year less. That is a statistical reality. It does not come from my gut; it comes from Statistics Canada. These are poor quality jobs, the few jobs that have been created. These jobs tend to be precarious, part-time or temporary.

What has been the net result of the Conservative economic management? We have seen a decline in real wages of the average Canadian family over the past year. If members talk to folks in their ridings, they will find that most Canadian families are having a very difficult time making ends meet. It is because in real terms, after-inflation dollars, people are earning less and less.

It has often been said that Tory times are tough times. Conservative times have been particularly difficult for Canadian families because they are earning less and less. Canadian families, and this is an undeniable fact, are poorer under the Conservative government.

What has been the result? Conservatives are now waking up and saying that they should have looked at these economic statistics, that they should have done their homework. I encourage them to look at the economic statements and look at what Canadian families are going through. They will learn a lot. I know some of them are in touch with their constituents and their constituents will tell them that a 2% reduction in real wages is not a happy time for Canadian families.

The result is Canadian families are now suffering under a record debt load, a yoke that has never been seen to this extent in our country. There are record debt levels. Canadian families are earning less and less. Good jobs are being lost. Poorer jobs are being created, part-time and temporary jobs, the jobs that pay less. That is the Conservative economic record.

When Conservatives come to the floor of the House and say that all the other stuff they have done has not worked, that they will throw another trade agreement at us and maybe that will work, maybe that will create the kind of prosperity we want to see, maybe that will pass the test of the NDP, we go beyond the fluff and the political spin. We go to reality. We look at whether there has been an economic evaluation of these trade agreements. There never has been and never will be, because with an economic evaluation, these agreements often cause difficulty. Now what happens? The government is bringing forward this trade agreement.

As I said yesterday in the House about the Panama agreement, we have severe concerns with that agreement as well. We raised concerns in the House about the Colombia agreement and the softwood lumber sellout. In the case of Jordan, it is a country that is making some progress on human rights, but the problems we have with what Conservatives bring forward is the actual structure or template of the agreements.

They call them free trade agreements. We talk about fair trade and the reality is that the difference between the two concepts is like that between driving a modern Ferrari and Fred Flintstone's automobile with the stones that rolled around. That is the difference between Conservative trade policy and what the NDP has moving forward.

The old antiquated template of the Conservatives dates back to the 1980s. Ronald Reagan was president when this trade template was put together. It includes things like investor-state provisions, which are an override of democratically elected governments. We have seen a number of cases where governments who make decisions in the public interest, who make decisions responding to the democratic involvement of their citizens, have had to pay significant fines, not because what they did was wrong and not because the process was somehow undermining democracy. In fact, they did exactly what a prudent government should do: they made decisions that were in the public interest such as removing neurotoxins that have profound negative health impacts. They did that but because of investor-state provisions, the citizens or taxpayers, once a government makes that decision, have to pay compensation to the company. Investor-state provisions are a right-wing ideal thrown out in the 1980s under Reagan, and today in 2012, we still these provisions reflected in the trade template used by the Conservatives.

Conservatives will defend themselves by saying that the Liberals did the same thing and that is true. However, the reality now around the world is that the modern, progressive fair trade agreements are what we favour, like we see with Mercosur where there are social objectives and anti-poverty measures. Those are the kinds of things that we want to see.

We talk about the European Union and its binding human rights obligations. The Conservative government signed a trade agreement with Colombia. We have seen the results in the latter government's increased links to paramilitary violence and from the increased number of massacres, as there are no binding human rights obligations in the Colombia agreement. In the deal with Colombia we have a commitment to maybe produce some kind of whitewashed report at some point. I have never seen one tabled in the House of Commons, but the reality is that there are other progressive administrations that have put in binding human rights obligations. This is the kind of fundamental value that Canadians share. This is the kind of progressive fair trade approach to trade agreements that Canadians want to see.

We talk about Australian model and the Labour government there that said it was not going to go ahead with investor-state provisions. This was in the 1980s when the right-wing was pushing back on government and democracy and everything else. We are seeing some shades of that coming back, unfortunately, but the reality is that progressive fair trade agreements do not include measures such as investor-state provisions.

Those are some of the agreements that we support. Those are the kinds of amendments that we offer. That is why we are in the House of Commons. We bring forward these kinds of intelligent, progressive and modern ideas. We have done this for each of the deals and each time Conservatives have said, no, they do not want to update their aproach. They want to keep their high bound, right-wing ideology and do not care about the consequences. They are really more concerned about ideology than the kinds of objectives of a trade agreement that would actually reflect Canadian values and would be effective.

Before I move on to the next point I want to take one further step. We have offered this kind of progressive, modern fair trade infrastructure to the government. We have consistently been refused. We proposed a dozen amendments to the last agreement, but all of them were rejected.

With this agreement we will endeavour again, because even those who are the most hidebound in their ideology can eventually learn. We are going to continue to offer these kinds of positive alternatives. We will certainly be doing that.

I want to point out what happens after a trade agreement is signed. Regardless of whether a trade agreement is well written or not, whether it contains Fred Flintstonian aspects or a modern, progressive fair trade agenda, like we favour on this side of the House, the question is how do we then implement the kind of export supports that would contribute to the growth of the Canadian economy?

We in the NDP do our homework and actually had to get the following statistics ourselves. I had asked DFAIT for a year for the export market development figures in real terms—

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

The no development party, the NDP.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2012 / 12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I can see the Conservatives are waking up again, Mr. Speaker. That is good. I am happy to hear that. This is the type of information exchange that will hopefully lead to progress in our country.

However, DFAIT could not produce the figures in real terms. A dollar is not a dollar when it diminishes over time due to inflation. Therefore, if we are comparing exports from Canada to a market that Canada has signed a trade agreement with, we really have to use inflation adjusted dollars to compare apples with apples. Is that not right? My NDP colleagues all agree. Looking over at the Conservatives, maybe they agree less. It does not matter. The point is this: we could not get those figures from DFAIT but had to produce them ourselves.

The interesting result up to 2009 is that in virtually all cases where an agreement was signed, and this is similar to what happened under the Liberals and what the Conservatives are continuing, exports from Canada to those markets declined after the agreements were signed. Here I am not just talking about manufacturing exports but about all exports. Imports from those countries increased, contributing to the factor I just talked about and going far beyond the Dutch disease, where we have seen an artificially inflated dollar hurting our manufacturing capacity. It is something that many people are talking about. Many have raised these concerns.

What we are talking about with our trade agreements is a type of disease where our exports decline and imports go up after we have signed an agreement. Members know what that means: more lost jobs and less prosperity for Canadians. Yet in virtually every case, with the singular exception of Mexico, which I will come back to it in a moment, our exports declined. In some cases they have recovered over time, but in some cases they have not. With Costa Rica, for example, our exports are still below their initial levels.

What we see here is a lack of will, the view that signature of an agreement is sufficient for the government to move forward without walking the talk afterwards. Other major industrialized economies, such as the European Union, the United States and Australia, have very robust export promotion. They have regimes in place and great supports for product promotion and product publicity, to get those goods to market.

I have met with trade commissioners of ours outside of Canada who do not even have the money to buy a cup of coffee for a potential client of Canada. The figure that DFAIT has given us is that about $13 million is spent on trade promotion worldwide. This is for export product promotion. Australia spends half a billion dollars. The European Union spends $125 million just to promote its wine products. In the United States, we are talking upwards of $80 million just for the beef industry. It is about walking the talk as well. It simply is not happening with the current government.

As far as the trade agreement with Jordan is concerned, we will be putting forward amendments at committee. We will be doing the due diligence that New Democrats have always done in the House on trade issues. We will be scouring the bill that we have seen and offering amendments. Our critic, the member for Windsor West, and other members of trade committee will be putting forward those amendments at committee.

What we hope to see is a sea change in attitude on the Conservative side, that Conservative members will accept the kind of progressive fair trade amendments that we will offer. Why? It is because it is in Canada's interests to have a modernized trade template for the agreements we bring forward. It is in Canada's interests to build an export strategy that will lead to job creation. In short, it is in Canada and Canadians' interests to have the kind of progressive fair trade agreements that New Democrats bring forward in the House.

I hope that we will get support for those amendments at committee.

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12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed my colleague's remarks for their entertainment value. We both used to sit together on the international trade committee.

First I have a comment, then a question. The hon. member referenced investor-state provisions for Canadian investments abroad. Those provisions are in trade treaties to protect private investment abroad, such as protecting investors who may invest in Venezuela, whose president has a habit of nationalizing industries. If we do not have those provisions in our international treaties, how then do we expect to protect Canadian investments in other countries? Also, if we expect protections for Canadian investments abroad, should we not protect private property investments in Canada?

How does the hon. member propose to protect the private property of Canadians abroad and foreigners who invest in Canada from unjust government seizure?

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12:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I appreciate hearing from him again. We worked together on the trade committee, as he mentioned.

The member is actually talking about two different things. He is talking about FIPAs, foreign investment protection agreements, which we have supported in the House of Commons. I was referencing a completely different order of things, the investor-state provisions that we have seen in NAFTA and which have subsequently become part of every single trade agreement put forward by this government.

Even the United States, after NAFTA, pulled back from the investor-state provisions because these provisions put in place an eternal program of compensation for businesses, regardless of what products they produce and whether they are in the right or the wrong. Ethyl Corporation, for example, which produced a neurotoxin, was able to get compensation from Canadian taxpayers under the investor-state provisions of NAFTA for a product it had produced that had known health impacts. It was toxic for Canadians, yet through the investor-state provisions it was able to get a handout.

I am sure the hon. member does not agree with that. I am sure he and all hon. members in the House would agree that when a company manufactures something that is dangerous for Canadians, the Canadian government should have the right to say that it is going to ban that product without taxpayers having to pay compensation to that company. I think we would all agree on that.

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12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I certainly never pretend to be a trade expert, but trade and this particular deal have been referred to as a marriage. Having been married for 27 years, I can speak a little about that. I know that in the deal I signed on my wedding day there was a caveat, “for better or for worse”. I know that my wife had hoped for a little less worse and maybe a lot more better, but she still hangs tough and honours her part of the agreement, and I do the best with mine.

For the benefit of the House, I am sure the government and we here on the Liberal side would want to know the answer to the following question. One thing the member for Burnaby—New Westminster cannot dispute is that your party has never supported a trade deal that has come through this House. That is on the record. You know that, so let me ask this question. I am sure the new members of the NDP would like to know this, because you have experience in the party and are a mentor.

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12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please.

I would like the member for Cape Breton--Canso to come to his question and remember that it is the Chair that he is asking the question of, not one of his colleagues.

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12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, my apologies. In our agreement together, I assure you that I will address the Chair.

What is one deal that the NDP came close to signing, only for one aspect of it? Could the member name one free trade deal that it came close to signing?

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to speak softly because I heard a complaint from the Minister of Foreign Affairs that I was speaking too loudly. It is an important wake-up call and New Democrats make sure everyone in the House can hear us.

I addressed this yesterday and I will address it again. New Democrats were strong supporters of the auto pact and the Liberals said, “You cannot support the auto pact”. We have talked about the types of progressive trade deals that we do support: the binding human rights obligations out of the European Union, the obligations around social development and anti-poverty measures in Mercosur. We have talked about Australia and its measures to gut the investor-state provisions to allow democratically elected governments to make decisions in the public interest.

Then the member said, “We Liberals adopt everything the Conservatives bring forward on trade. For six years, everything the Conservatives bring forward, we vote for”. What has been the result? The softwood lumber deal not only killed 60,000 jobs across the country but 2,000 jobs in my constituency. Yes, New Democrats take it personally when Liberals simply rubber-stamp everything the Conservatives bring forward. They are bad deals. We will continue to be positive and offer amendments. If the Conservatives accept our amendments, of course we will be voting for it.

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Claude Patry NDP Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his speech. There is something that concerns me when we talk about free trade and globalization. We should be talking about the globalization of the human beings behind this, the workers in these countries.

If we compare the conditions of the workers in these countries with those of workers in other countries with which we have entered into free trade agreements and where men and women enjoy the proper conditions, we could almost be talking about slavery. What can be done with these sorts of free trade agreements? How can we insert in them a condition so that these people can live properly in their country as they trade their goods with ours?

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question and the best one thus far. I thank the member for Jonquière—Alma, the only member to this point who listened to my presentation. I know that I am not the most interesting speaker, but I had hoped that the members would at least listen to me. The member for Jonquière—Alma was listening carefully and that is great. I very much appreciate his talent and the fact that he listens.

As has been said, obligations must be mandatory. That is what did not work in the agreement with Colombia. The Liberals said that a report every two years would be enough, but we saw the human rights crisis in Colombia.

We know that there are problems in Jordan. Women live in horrible situations. We are proposing amendments that would make these obligations mandatory. That is what the European Union is doing and that is what we are proposing, among other things, in our amendments to the bill.

We hope that, for once, the Conservatives will set aside their ideology and use common sense. Violations of human rights must stop. An agreement that has mandatory requirements and penalties will help improve human rights in Jordan.

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12:35 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have enjoyed the entertainment factor following the NDP member's speech. However, it makes quite a mockery of Parliament when the member has been asked several times by my learned friends from the Liberal Party to identify one free trade agreement that New Democrats have voted in favour of. Canadians know very well that when members of Parliament are asked questions, many politicians try to skirt the issue. When the NDP continued to say that it has in fact supported one, let the member be honest and either admit that he has misled Canadians by saying that or name that free trade agreement. If he does not, then I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that you inform Canadians through this process that this is an absolutely disgust and a mockery of Parliament.

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12:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, as you know, that was very unparliamentary language. I would be pleased to answer the parliamentary secretary's question, but I would ask her withdraw her unparliamentary language.

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12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I would encourage all hon. members to give each other the respect that is due. I appreciate this is a contested issue. I am not sure I understand the comment of the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

Is the hon. member for Winnipeg North rising on a point of order?