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—