House of Commons Hansard #111 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ceta.


German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON


That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize the contributions that German-Canadians have made to Canadian society, the richness of the German language and culture, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon German heritage for future generations, and that the Waterloo Region is host to the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany, by declaring October, every year, German Heritage Month, and the nine days commencing the Friday before Thanksgiving, every year, Oktoberfest.

Mr. Speaker, today I have the privilege of presenting a motion which I hope this House will support. The motion I present today has been jointly seconded by the members of all recognized political parties in this House. I thank the members for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, Kitchener—Conestoga, Saskatoon—Grasswood, Saskatoon—University, and Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, as well as my own caucus colleagues, the members for Cambridge, Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, Kitchener Centre, London North Centre, Mississauga—Lakeshore, and St. Catharines for having jointly seconded my motion.

I want to talk briefly about migration and the main reasons that individuals and families decide to leave their communities and countries of origin. The reasons for migration can be classified into four categories.

The first is economic migration, where individuals and families, like most of our ancestors, migrate for better economic opportunities and to find better employment and career prospects. Better employment helps families elevate themselves and achieve greater potential.

The second reason is political migration. People leave a country where political conflict and instability have hindered the lives of its citizens who then choose to flee to areas with a stable political system. Many have immigrated to Canada in fear of their lives and have sought shelter in our communities, and we, as Canadians, have welcomed them with open arms.

The third reason is social migration, where people move to a country where quality of life is substantially better than in a person's country of origin, such as access to social services, health care, education, and so on.

The fourth reason is the environment, where natural disasters have displaced millions of people and devastated communities.

Furthermore, immigrants weigh particular factors before making a final decision to leave their country of origin. Push factors include high crime rates, lack of services and lack of safety in their country of origin, or the country may be impoverished or war torn. Pull factors include better employment opportunities, better services, safer communities, less crime, and political stability. All in all, like so many immigrant families, they immigrate to pursue improved prospects and to build better futures for themselves and their family.

In Canada, we value diversity as one of our country's strengths. We accept that members of ethnic groups can integrate into our shared national economic, cultural, and political systems while simultaneously maintaining their ethnic cultures, languages, and traditions. In fact, reverse osmosis also occurs, in which the shared culture absorbs facets of its constituent ethnic cultures. We celebrate our similarities and our differences.

It may be a trite example, but the online version of The Canadian Encyclopedia has an article entitled “Everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day”. Canadians know what that means. Montreal's St. Patrick's Day parade is the oldest in North America, approaching its 195th year. The millions of Canadians of Irish heritage are as Canadian as Canadians can be, but have a sense of kinship, of shared heritage. We all celebrate with them the significance of the Irish presence and contribution to Canadian culture and history.

Individuals and groups in society thrive and flourish when they are acknowledged, respected, and given the recognition they deserve. The motion I present today proposes to recognize and celebrate the contributions, culture, language, and history of one of the largest constituent ethnic groups in Canada, well over three million Canadians of German ethnic origin, approximately 10% of the Canadian population.

I have the good fortune to represent the riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler, where I grew up from the age of four, and where I live to the present day. The birthplace of the Waterloo region is located in my riding. In 1800, in what is now south Kitchener, which is part of my riding, Mennonite pioneers, the Schoerg and Betzner families, established the first permanent settlement in inland Upper Canada and started farming.

In 1801, the Schoerg family welcomed the first non-native child to be born in what would be Waterloo township. Following soon after, were the Schneiders, and other families whose names can still be found in local names, the Bechtels, the Ebys, the Erbs, the Webers, the Cressmans, and the Brubachers. In 1857, the Hespeler part of my riding was named after Jacob Hespeler, a native of Württemberg, Germany. He was an immigrant entrepreneur who established successful industries in Hespeler and performed exemplary public services.

There are 20% of the residents of my riding, one out of every five people, who are of German ethnic origin. German-Canadian entrepreneurship, industry, skills, and business acumen, have played and continue to play a significant role in the economic success of Waterloo region.

German social clubs, associations, and organizations have a long history as part of the social and institutional infrastructure of Waterloo region, 23% of whose population is of German ethnic origin. The German-Canadian Congress, Ontario branch; the German-Canadian Remembrance Society of Waterloo region; the Kitchener Christkindll market committee; and the presidents of the German-Canadian clubs of Waterloo region, which comprise the Cooperative Council of German Canadian Clubs of the Waterloo Region, have expressed their support for this motion.

Canadians of German ethnic origin are one of the largest constituent ethnic groups in Canada, numbering well over three million, nearly one out of every 10 Canadians. There is 28% of Saskatchewan's population, 19% of Alberta's and the Yukon's populations, nearly a quarter million people in Toronto, 200,000 in Vancouver, over 100,000 residents of each of Winnipeg and Waterloo region, and nearly 100,000 in Montreal, who are of German ethnic origin.

Woven deep into Canadian history, Germans started immigrating to Nova Scotia in about 1751. The German Society of Montreal is still active 181 years after its founding by immigrants and Canadians of German descent in April of 1835.

Following the American Revolution, groups of Germans leaving the United States settled southwest of Montreal and south of Quebec City, but the largest group, Mennonites from Pennsylvania, settled around Berlin, Ontario, which is now known as Kitchener-Waterloo. That settlement attracted new immigrants from Germany, drawing some 50,000 to our region over the following decades, and continuing until well after 1850.

Beginning in 1896, Canada's west drew further large numbers of German immigrants, mostly from eastern Europe and Russia, and later, the U.S., to the new prairie farming community. In the years since 1945, there have been about 400,000 German-speaking immigrants to Canada. An annual declaration of October as German heritage month will provide opportunities to remember, celebrate, and educate future generations about the inspirational role that Canadians of German ethnic origin have played and continue to play in communities across Canada.

In the U.S., German-American heritage has been celebrated ever since the first proclamation by former president Reagan in 1983. October is German-American Heritage Month.

There are two parts or “asks” in my motion. The first asks the government to recognize the contributions that German Canadians have made to Canadian society by declaring October, every year, as German heritage month.

The second part of the motion asks that the government declare the nine days commencing the Friday before Thanksgiving every year as Oktoberfest. This second part of the motion does not conflate German heritage and culture with the annual Bavarian harvest festival. It is separate, though connected.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, now in its 48th year, is the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany, running nine days starting the Friday before Thanksgiving. The festival celebrates German heritage, food, music, and festivities, and is supported by more than 40 not-for-profit organizations. The festival is operated by eight year-round full-time staff, over 500 volunteers, and 1,300 community and service club volunteers. They stage the nine-day festival each October, promoting a unique German cultural experience.

In addition to the economic boost the festival gives the local economy during the international festival, over $1.5 million is raised each year by the not-for-profit organization associated with the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, one of the top three most recognized event brands in Canada.

This motion has the support of Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest Inc., its officers, board members, staff, volunteers, partner clubs and fest-halls, sponsors, and associated businesses. I ask my colleagues on all sides of the House to support this motion.

There are no financial costs involved and the benefits are clear. By demonstrating respect for a very large group of Canadians, and a large group of constituents, we make their country and community a better place to live. Motion No. 73 does that. It meets that test. There is no good reason why this motion should not be passed unanimously when it comes to vote in the House.

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, certainly the German community within Sarnia—Lambton has contributed a lot. One of my best friends is German, and so I am definitely in favour of marking the occasion.

My concern is that Women's History Month is also October. There was a motion brought to the House recently about gender equality week in October, and as well, there is Persons Day.

I would ask the member how he feels we can take the whole month for German heritage without taking away from the recognition of women?

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Mr. Speaker, if we can vote on the motion so that it can go to committee, we could discuss it there. It could be, if not the whole month, maybe a couple of weeks in October. I am willing to have a debate in committee to talk about how we can structure that.

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the reality of Canada is that it is a country built on diversity. All these cultures have come here and developed a beautiful mosaic that leads us to greater acknowledgement and understanding of cultures and how to bring those cultures together in a way that is respectful.

I am very happy to hear the motion come forward; however, I do have a specific concern.

The motion says that, “...Waterloo Region is host to the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany, by declaring October, every year, German Heritage Month, and the nine days commencing the Friday before Thanksgiving, every year, Oktoberfest.”

The motion specifically mentions the Waterloo region. We have had some folks get a hold of us and have asked some questions about that. Therefore, to clarify for the record, will this be a month that is celebrated only in the member's riding or is it something that will be celebrated across Canada?

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Mr. Speaker, this can be celebrated all across Canada. I looked at my riding, to speak for constituents in my riding, and to boost the great tourism that comes to our riding. It is beneficial to boost tourism, and to speak for all the organizers, communities, and businesses there.

It is to get more tourists coming to our region and also all across Canada. I know that Ottawa has an Oktoberfest, and I am pretty sure that there are many cities around our country that celebrate Oktoberfest as well.

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I applaud my colleague for bringing forward a worthy motion. We are all very proud of our German heritage.

In Winnipeg North, we are who we are as a community because of how the German heritage community, particularly the German Canadian Congress, has had such a profound positive impact on our social or economic fabric, which has been changed in such a positive way. A good demonstration of that in Winnipeg is during Folklorama where our German community puts on a fantastic pavilion, which is always packed as people genuinely appreciate our German heritage.

I wonder if my colleague would comment regarding something the Prime Minister has often said, which is that one of Canada's greatest strengths is its diversity. We should be very proud of our diversity, and the German heritage community is one of those communities that goes out of its way to ensure that we appreciate how important our diversity is.

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. I grew up in a very multicultural riding and I grew up with a lot of German and Portuguese friends. I learned a lot about their culture. They have brought some of their social fabric, their culture, here to Canada. We have worked together and built together this great fabric and this great culture here in Canada. The contributions that the German community has made in my region and across all of Canada are something to recognize.

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak in support of Motion No. 73 put forward by my colleague the hon. member for Kitchener South—Hespeler.

I had the honour of representing a good portion of the riding that my colleague currently represents but due to changes in the last electoral distribution I now have the honour of working next door to my colleague.

Let me read Motion No. 73:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize the contributions that German-Canadians have made to Canadian society, the richness of the German language and culture, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon German heritage for future generations, and that the Waterloo Region is host to the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany, by declaring October, every year, German Heritage Month, and the nine days commencing the Friday before Thanksgiving, every year, Oktoberfest.

I will focus my remarks primarily on the first part of the motion.

I am honoured to speak in support of the motion because of its content and because I am also proud of my own German heritage. My ancestors arrived in Canada around 1850.

In 2011, the census results reported that 28,490 of my constituents indicated that they were of German ethnic origin. That is about 31% of my riding.

Almost one-third of my riding shares my German heritage and this is something that has contributed greatly to the fact that the riding of Kitchener—Conestoga is the very best riding in all of Canada.

Germans who report their ethnic origin as solely or partly from Germany, or are of German ancestry, are one of Canada's largest ethnic categories of European origin. In 2006, over three million people in Canada reported German as their ethnic origin and in 2011, 430,000 people in Canada reported German as their mother tongue.

Canada's Germans have come from virtually every east European country, Asiatic Russia, the United States, and Latin America.

German colonists have been migrating to eastern Europe since the Middle Ages and to colonial America since 1683.

Canada's main source of German immigration was Russia, especially from the Volga, the Black Sea coast, and Volhynia. Some of the religious allegiances represented in this group are Mennonite, Hutterite, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Moravian, and Jewish. The mother tongue includes High German, Low German, Pennsylvania Dutch, and numerous regional dialects.

I remember well listening to my parents dialogue in Pennsylvania Dutch. I remember hearing conversations in Pennsylvania Dutch between my parents and my uncles and aunts and neighbours who would come to our farm to help with work, threshing grain together, participating in quilting bees in our home, or watching a barn raising in our community as neighbours came together to rebuild barns after destruction by fire. While I did not understand every word they said, I knew by their smiles and laughter that in the midst of their hard work they enjoyed working together as a community.

There are two defining elements that define those of Germanic descent and they are hard work and team work. These are defining characteristics of the German immigrants who came to Canada, especially to Waterloo region. Still today these values of collaboration are very strong. The current Governor General when he was president of the University of Waterloo would often comment about the barn raising spirit in Waterloo region, and that is largely as a result of the German ancestors who settled in our area.

I want to focus a bit on the story of the German Mennonite communities that immigrated from Pennsylvania. These pacifist Anabaptist farmers fled the fervour of American nationalism and sought land for their growing population. Preferring cohesive settlement, they acquired a huge tract of land in Waterloo County. Through chain migration they transplanted their families and Pennsylvania German culture. Their Waterloo County colony, with a hub community named Berlin, developed into an area of concentrated German settlement. From there, German settlements spread to Perth, and Huron and Bruce and Grey counties.

In 1916 during the First World, what was know as Berlin changed its name to Kitchener, when citizens, especially business owners, wanted to combat any perception of disloyalty due to its sizable German-speaking population. In the Second World War, Kitchener was the site of a training camp for the Canadian Women's Army Corps.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Kitchener and its citizens led the nation in first welcoming new German refugees who fled or were expelled from eastern Europe, Romania, Yugoslavia, Poland, and the Soviet Union. It has since its retained its place as one of the centres in Canada most likely to receive refugees, aided by its vibrant local economy. I would like to add that this past year through the resettlement of Syrian refugees, it has been very encouraging to see again the same level of generosity from the Waterloo region that was shown over nearly 70 years ago.

Let me now share a few personal stories about local organizations and the townships and towns that make up the Waterloo region and we will see from the names and the characteristics of these villages the strong German heritage.

Berlin, as I said earlier, changed its name to Kitchener as a result of the First World War and not wanting to appear disloyal to Canada.

A little town called Merryhill in my constituency used to be called New Germany. Heidelberg, New Hamburg, St. Jacobs, Schindelstettel or Shingletown, Schmidtsville, which was renamed to Wellesley, Baden, named after Baden-Baden in Germany. Recently in Baden we installed the first statue of previous prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald and all 28 previous prime ministers will have a statue installed in the town of Baden at Castle Kilbride, which is the township office for the Wilmot Township in my riding. I am proud of that new icon we will have right in my riding, which will be a tourist destination for sure. Other villages are called Strasburg and Mannheim. We can see from the names of these villages the strong German heritage in my riding and in the Waterloo region.

Companies in my area include Ontario Drive and Gear, started by an immigrant from Germany now working on things like the lunar rover for NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. Schneiders meats has been an icon in our community for years. ATS was started by a person of German heritage.

The German-Canadian Remembrance Society and many other German clubs in our area do a great job of preserving our German heritage. We have the German-Canadian Business and Professional Association, the Alpine Club, German-Canadian Hunting and Fishing Club in Mannheim, the Transylvania Club, the Schwaben Club, and the Concordia Club. We have German Pioneers Day, when each year we celebrate people of German ancestry who have contributed greatly to the economy in the Waterloo region. As my colleague mentioned, we have Christkindl Market at Christmas each year, which is coming up shortly.

Let me now return for a moment to some of the towns I mentioned earlier. The town of New Hamburg, which is of German origin, is popular and known for a number of reasons, but one of the reasons that I am proud to be part of New Hamburg is because of Howie Meeker, a former NHL star who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs for nine seasons. He also served here in Parliament as the member for Waterloo South, which is the predecessor of the riding I currently represent. I was honoured to be with Mr. Meeker when he received the Governor General's Order of Canada.

New Hamburg is also home to Ontario Drive and Gear, a company that produces all-terrain vehicles, including the ARGO, and it is also doing work for NASA on the lunar rover. It is also home to Oak Grove Cheese. People may not have heard of Limburger cheese, but Oak Grove Cheese Company is one of the only cheese factories in all of North America that continues to produce Limburger cheese. I never developed a taste for Limburger cheese. My dad enjoyed it immensely. Maybe one of the reasons I did not was because the smell was not the greatest, to say the least.

St. Jacobs is another town in my riding that is famous for its farmer's market, a popular tourist destination. Walter Hachborn of German ancestry was the person who started Home Hardware in 1963. He brought a number of independent hardware dealers together and formed an association. Today, Home Hardware has a network of over 1,100 stores across Canada. Their headquarters and distribution centre are still in St. Jacobs.

As for the little town of Schmidtsville, which is currently called Wellesley, I am going to read what I found on the Internet. Prior to the 20th century, the area was home to doctors, blacksmiths, and merchants, as well as a tannery, hotels, and churches. Into the early 1900s the village carriage and wagon maker, George Diefenbaker, whose preferred spelling was with an extra “c”, would entertain his grandson, John Diefenbaker, each summer in the little town of Wellesley.

Another little town people have never heard of is Punkeydoodles Corners. It is in the far west of my riding, and it is known for the quaint name, not for any significant settlement. It is a tiny hamlet situated where the counties of Oxford and Perth intersect with Waterloo county. The Huron Road passed through this locale in the late 19th century. It had a blacksmith shop and a tavern, where it was said that the German tavern keeper sang his version of Yankee Doodle, which came out sounding like “punky doodle”, and that is where the name came from.

I want to encourage my colleagues to support the motion. We can be proud of our German ancestry and the immense contribution the German community has made to Canada.

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I stand in the House to speak in favour of Motion No. 73, German heritage month. The maternal side of my family is of German origin, and I have always been proud of the strength of my ancestors who travelled to Canada for a better life for our family.

Canada has a rich German heritage that has contributed to the mosaic of the many cultures that make up our great country. The significant cultural and social contributions of these communities are evident across Canada. Oktoberfest is an example.

According to Historica Canada, German Moravians served the Inuit until the 1960s as educators, traders, doctors, music teachers, and lexicographers. Assisting the Inuit in creating a written alphabet and dictionary, they helped preserve this precious part of the Inuit language and culture.

The first wave of German immigrants took part in the early development of agriculture in the west. Later, in the 1950s, they played important roles as entrepreneurs, professionals, artists, and tradespeople in the development of Canadian urban life in communities like Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria, and Vancouver. That is just a few.

In British Columbia, the German presence dates back to the Cariboo gold rush in the 1860s, when Germans came with the first diggers from California and subsequent waves of miners to the Fraser River valley. Between 1953 to 1963, German immigrants made up 19% of Canada's skilled arrivals to our country. The list goes on and on.

During my time as the executive director of the Immigrant Welcome Centre, our region received newcomers from over 70 countries. Immigrants from Germany often came to our area. I was always impressed by their attachment to the breathtaking natural environment and by their welcoming of all the Canadians they received.

In my riding, the small community of Black Creek continues to have a thriving and long-standing community of German Mennonites. In the 1930s, many came to the region looking for better opportunities for their families. They established themselves and have continued to prosper in the area. They are known for their significant contribution to the musical and academic life of the Comox Valley.

Canada's diversity continues to be a strength that unites us. According to Statistics Canada's demographic projections, the ethnocultural diversity of Canada's population will increase greatly by 2031. The increase in diversity spurs innovative ideas, a strong commitment to one's community, and a rich cultural history that engages all Canadians.

Although the NDP will happily support the motion, I must share some concerns I have heard from organizations across Canada. The specific emphasis on the Kitchener-Waterloo region left some with questions. As the German Canadian Congress said, they are very much in agreement with the motion, but they wonder whether this motion only affects the Kitchener-Waterloo region.

Rich German culture is experienced in small and large communities across our great country. It is important that we do not highlight one region at the expense of any other. While it is wonderful that the Oktoberfest celebration has grown in popularity in Waterloo and across Canada, German cultural heritage should not be reduced to this one symbolic celebration. Many celebrations, such as the St. Nikolas festival, St. Martin's, or lantern fest, Maifest, and Fasching, or Karneval, are important to many German Canadians. Soccer, or football, also pulls together scores of supporters out of solidarity and love of the game.

Lastly, with the Goethe Institut presence in Canada, the German language and deeper cultural learning is now accessible to many. This should not be underestimated when we celebrate German heritage.

I recently had a constituent share a concern about the numerous cultural days or months we have designated for specific cultures. Believe me, I have looked into this. He suggested that we designate one month for multiculturalism and that we use this time to promote all cultural heritages in Canada. I do not agree with this idea. The rich diversity of our country is what leads to so many celebrations of culture and heritage. I am proud of our cultural diversity and will continue to promote all cultural heritages so that Canada remains a land of possibility for all who call it home.

This summer I had the honour of having a student in the region shadow me for a day. His family shares both German and Canadian citizenship. This young man hopes to use his dual citizenship to pursue post-secondary studies in Germany. He shared the strong connection he feels between the two countries and how proud he is to be a citizen of both.

I share that pride that these many cultures have joined our culture and have become uniquely Canadian. It is why we must continue to promote understanding and appreciation of Canada's rich diversity and why so many cultural groups have come together to support the history of our country that resides with the indigenous communities that have been here since time immemorial. I look forward to the expansion of cultural diversity in Canada and to the acknowledgement of and growing support for the first people of our country.

I hope we always take time to celebrate the unique richness we have to offer here in Canada. I look forward to supporting this motion.

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta


Randy Boissonnault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address Motion M-73, introduced by my colleague and friend, the member for Kitchener South—Hespeler. This motion seeks to have the House recognize the contributions of Canada's German community and to establish October as German heritage month and the nine-day period starting on the Friday before Thanksgiving as Oktoberfest.

[Member spoke in German]


Our government supports this motion, and I am proud to stand here today to recognize the contributions of the German community in Canada. For all Canadians, German history month will provide a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the German community in Canada and the role it has played in building our country's rich and diverse heritage.

According to the 2011 national household survey, nearly 3.2 million people in Canada have German roots, including nearly 120,000 in my home town of Edmonton. Further, more than 500,000 people indicate that German is the non-official language spoken at home, making German one of the top 10 non-official languages in Canada.

Diversity is an essential ingredient of our Canadian identity. Immigration has played, and will continue to play, a key role in the development of our country. We truly are a country of immigrants, which has made Canada the rich, multicultural mosiac it is today.

German colonies were established from coast to coast. Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, was one of the first. It was named in honour of King George II, who was born in Germany and was also the Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg.

The City of York, now Toronto, was co-founded in 1794 by Johann Albrecht Ulrich Moll, a German immigrant better known as William Berczy. He initiated a major colonization undertaking in Markham, and is credited with clearing the forest to build the road that is now Toronto's famed Yonge Street.

To this day, Canadians of German origin constitute a vibrant and dynamic community. Despite the diversity of their origins, people of German ancestry come together in many ways, including volunteer associations, business and professional networks, and celebrations of German heritage, such as Oktoberfest and other events.

The diversity of the German cultural mosaic is also reflected in its rich heritage. Since the beginning of the 19th century, Canadian artists of German extraction, such as William Berczy, whom I mentioned earlier, and Otto R. Jacobi, have enriched Canadian culture. In literature, Robert Kroetsch won the Governor General's Award, and in the sciences, Claus Wagner-Bartak gained international renown as a space engineer.

It is a pleasure to also recall the close ties of friendship between Germany and Canada. A number of cities across the country have established themselves as sister cities of ones in Germany. For example, Cobourg, Ontario, is a sister city of Coburg in Bavaria. Leduc, in Alberta, just south of my city, is the sister city of Grimma, in Saxony; and Kitchener is the sister city of Diedorf, also in Bavaria.

The strong cultural and social links between our two countries, Germany and Canada, are supported by the German-Canadian Association, founded in 1951. The Canada meets Germany program is another vehicle that works to maintain strong ties. Through this program, young Germans and Canadians from a variety of fields, including business, politics, academia, and culture, meet and exchange ideas. Language and culture are the windows to the soul of the people.

I wanted to understand Germany, its people, and its traditions. That is why, as a 25-year-old student studying at Oxford, I chose German as my first international language to study. I had three classes a week and each

[Member spoke in German]


While I was studying at the Goethe-Institut, with 30 people in our classroom, representing 17 countries, including Jordan, the United States, Australia, Japan, and Denmark, just to mention a few, I realized how much of a crossroads the German republic had become, and it sparked my interest even further to understand its people, its culture, and its language.

Canada has embraced a vast array of German traditions, institutions, and influences. Many have become so accepted that their ethnic origin has been obscured, such as Advent calendars and Christmas trees. Our kindergartens and social security systems are based on models derived from Germany. If we look at the actual word “kindergarten”, it is the place where we keep children, the garden of children. That has become a word we have taken into our own parlance.

The Prime Minister has noted that our enviable inclusive society did not happen by accident and will not continue without effort. The effort required of us is a small one. It is to support this motion to recognize the contributions of the German community to Canada and to declare our support for the establishment of October as German heritage month and the nine-day period starting the Friday before Thanksgiving as Oktoberfest.

Speaking on behalf of Canadian Heritage, it is also important to realize for how many centuries Germany has perfected the art of telling its stories through music, through opera, and through the theatre. Where would our modern society be without Johann Sebastian Bach? Where would we be without Wagner? Where would we be without all the German greats? Modern opera has its roots in the German tradition.

This month is most appropriate, not only for where we are heading as a country but to honour our past and to honour all the people of the world, and in this case the German people, who have come and built our country.

When we are given an opportunity to share our cultures, traditions, and history with others, we are making connections with people with whom we may not otherwise have interacted. German heritage month would provide an opportunity to celebrate our diversity and for the German community to share its culture, traditions, and history with all Canadians.

In conclusion, I want to thank the German community for its contributions to Canada.

Germans have been in Canada for centuries, and they have built a strong, diverse, and pluralistic nation. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts.

I invite all members of this House to vote in favour of this motion. I look forward to celebrating German heritage month and to sharing in the tradition of Oktoberfest.

[Member spoke in German]

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak today to Motion No. 73, German heritage month. As deputy critic of the heritage committee of our party, I totally support the motion.

My province of Saskatchewan has a very high population of German-ethnic groups that came to our region well over 100 years ago. In fact, in my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood, 31% of our residents are listed German-ethnic origin, which is the fourth highest in the province of Saskatchewan.

We are proud to have the German Cultural Centre in my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood. That centre hosts many events throughout the year. It has two banquet facilities and a very large dining area that serves traditional German foods. I was just at the facility yesterday, and the menu featured traditional Bavarian dishes such bratwurst, beef goulash, rotkohl, sauerkraut, schnitzel, reuben, strudel, spätzle, and many more.

Folkfest is a tradition in our city. Every August, it gives our German community a chance to showcase its heritage and its traditions. It is one of the more popular pavilions during the three-day Folkfest in August. Food and drink, along with bands and dance, are showcased, such as traditional German beers known worldwide, which have a rich and bountiful taste. Entertainment includes the Concordia Brass Band, the German choir, the German folk dance, and so on.

In fact, the highest population of ethnic-Germans in our provinces comes from the riding of Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, which, by the way, surrounds the city of Saskatoon.

Although I was born in Saskatoon, I actually spent 11 years in a community called Humboldt. Humboldt is one of four settlements of German Catholics in Saskatchewan. There were also a number of German Protestant settlements, mostly Lutheran. People of German origin have become the largest ethnic component, nearly 30% of our total population of Saskatchewan.

The city of Humboldt is named after Baron Alexander von Humboldt, a world-famous German scientist. The history of Humboldt was influenced by the establishment of St. Peter's Colony. A businessman formed the German American Land Company back in 1903 and purchased 100,000 acres of the railroad land in the district. The company enticed German Catholics living in the United States to homestead in the St. Peter's Colony. The St. Peter's Abbey began back in 1903, with the arrival of seven Benedictine monks from Collegeville, Minnesota.

Many German-speaking Roman Catholic immigrants had settled in the area. By 1903, homesteads reached over 700. By 1910, over 8,000 thousand arrived. Then, by 1930, it was home to 18,000 Roman Catholics.

Even today, as we drive down Main Street in Humboldt, a number of businesses still have a Bavarian theme on their buildings. They are proud of their tradition and their German culture.

My wife's family settled north of Humboldt, in an area called Marysburg. My wife's parents, Ray and Caroline Albers, had a small farm about three miles north of Marysburg. The family included their two sons, Jerry and Ed, and three daughters, Lois, Ellen, and Ann.

Everything they produced back then was homegrown. The huge garden in the summer produced fresh vegetables. They would also can those vegetables, like carrots, beets, and pickles, so they could be eaten in the cold winter nights.

Strawberries, along with raspberries and Saskatoon berries, were plentiful and were made into jams and jellies. Homemade bread and buns were a tradition, and sometimes bread dough was deep-fried and dipped in sugar, cinnamon, or honey, a special German treat known back then, and still today in our culture, called spitzbuben.

Chicken and other homegrown meats were cut, wrapped and taken to the town of Humboldt back then for storage. There was no electricity, or even running water. However, the work ethic of this family and their culture is world-renowned.

Jerry and Ed later would leave Saskatchewan and move to Alberta, and later British Columbia, but the work ethic of these two men produced a great entrepreneurship, a tribute from their parents. The three daughters all became successful teachers, with Ellen moving away to Alberta to pursue her teaching career with her husband Rick, who was also a teacher. Lois stayed in the area living in Lake Lenore. She was married to Frank Yeager, and they raised a strong family of entrepreneurs. Anne became my wife and moved to Saskatoon to raise two children. Our children have followed in their mom's footsteps and have also became teachers.

What is interesting about the Albers family is that the children have 100% German ancestry, which is rather unique for anyone whose family has been in North America since the last 1800s, and in Canada since the turn of the century.

Some of the German traditions and values were common to many European cultures, and later North American pioneers. From my experience, German people valued intellect, hence their education, and certainly this family with all three daughters in education. They value discipline, hard work, and a job well done. It is no surprise when we look at the landscape of Saskatchewan, and especially around Humboldt, that we call it the iron triangle as many businesses have been set up, producing farm equipment for worldwide.

Living off the land is what this group of German ethic people did best, producing grains, animals for milk and meat, raising their own beef, pork, chickens, and, yes, sometimes the odd goose or even a duck. There was also wild meat.

The Germans are known for their rich tradition of making sausage, hence all the bratwurst dishes. Every meal, of course, included potatoes, which is another German tradition. Some of the best German sausage in the world is made in right our province. A schnitzel is a thin, boneless cutlet of meat, which is coated in breadcrumbs. One can choose a wiener schnitzel, which is made of veal, or a weinerart schnitzel, which back then was made of pork.

Families often made their own butter and cottage cheese, and apple strudel, the popular dessert. It is a buttery pastry filled with apples flavoured with sugar, along with cinnamon, raisins, and breadcrumbs. The delicate flaky pastry is made from an elastic dough, which is kneaded and stretched until it is paper thin. It takes a real talent, but when perfected, it is one of the great foods in the world.

Women certainly worked very hard, not only preparing the meals and looking after the family, but making family clothes, like coats, knitting socks, mitts, and toques.

The church was the centre of the community for both social and religious life. Even when times were tough, parishioners donated large amounts of money to the church. Many of the churches in our area in Saskatchewan have sensational art work, like original paintings on the walls and ceilings. They even have marble alters. Every fall, parishes around Saskatchewan would have their church picnic and everyone would attend. Social events centred around family and neighbours. Large extended families often visited back and forth. Card games like schmear were very common.

Oktoberfest, as we all know, is the world's largest funfair. Many communities in my province celebrate this long tradition. Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held all over the world since 1810. In Canada, it is modelled after the original Munich event.

It is my pleasure to speak in the House today in support of a rich German culture and heritage, which has built our country strong for over 149 years.

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we resume debate with the hon. member for Mississauga—Lakeshore, I will let him know that there are only about seven minutes remaining in the time provided for private members' business. He will have the remaining time of his 10 minutes when the House next takes up debate on the question.

The hon. member for Mississauga—Lakeshore.

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Guten Morgen und danke schön, Mr. Speaker.

It is truly a pleasure and it gives me great pride to rise today in support of Motion No. 73, brought by my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Kitchener South—Hespeler. His motion seeks to declare the month of October as German heritage month, and to designate the nine days commencing the Friday before Thanksgiving as Oktoberfest.

I commend the hon. member for serving Kitchener's German community, alongside all residents of Kitchener South—Hespeler, with such remarkable energy, passion and commitment. I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to his motion.

Canadians of German heritage have profoundly shaped our society. The 2006 census notes that over three million Canadians identify themselves to be of German ancestry.

German immigrants have been part of our Canadian story for several centuries. Canada's first permanent German settlements developed in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia between 1750 and 1753. These settlers were largely farmers and tradespeople, but soon became expert fishermen, sailors and boat builders.

Later, Germans formed the largest non-British subset of Loyalists, migrating north during the American Revolution, and by 1786, making up between 10% and 20% of the refugees who were fleeing to Canada.

In the early 19th century, German Mennonites migrated from Pennsylvania to the Waterloo-Kitchener area, and their successful settlement helped attract some additional 50,000 German immigrants between the 1830s and 1850s.

From Confederation until the First World War, thousands of Germans emigrated to Canada, especially to the Prairies and the west. Canada's rich farmlands and plentiful natural resources proved to be an ideal fit for these newcomers. They worked hard to open the west to central Canada and the Maritimes.

Between the world wars, political, social, and economic uncertainty in Europe led tens of thousands of Germans to come to Canada. Here, they were able to raise their families in safety, preserve their culture and religious tradition, and contribute to Canada's growth and development as a nation.

After the Second World War and through the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of Germans came to Canada to flee a divided country devastated by war. Over the years, German immigrants excelled in the trades, farming and business and became leaders in our communities.

In short, German Canadians have helped to shape a modern Canada that cherishes the diversity and differences among its citizens.

In late August 1981, my parents, my sisters and I arrived in Canada to join those who had come from Germany before us. It was, hands down, the most profound, transformative and inspiring moment that I, as a teenager, could have possibly imagined. It opened up new doors from day one and triggered events, friendships and opportunities that have profoundly shaped and continue to shape who I am today.

On my father's side, my family has a strong connection to Berlin, Germany's capital. My father, one of my sisters, my grandfather and I were all born in Berlin, and my great-great-grandfather, Johann Anton Wilhelm von Carstenn-Lichterfelde, built a section in the city known today as Berlin-Lichterfelde. In the course of this project, he constructed the world's first electric streetcar line in 1881, exactly 100 years before my family and I arrived in Canada.

In 1963, at the height of the Cold War, then-U.S. president John F. Kennedy spoke in the still divided city and declared that “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin.” I am sure that with a gentle nudge, he would have included women as well.

Fifty years later, in 2013, President Obama visited Berlin and, speaking at the city's most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate, referred to Kennedy's words as:

...timeless because they call upon us to care more about things than just our own self-comfort, about our own city, about our own country. They demand that we embrace the common endeavor of all humanity.

Having been born in Berlin and now working daily to defend our core values of freedom, democracy and inclusiveness as a member of the House, it gives me great pride to echo President Kennedy today and to say, “Ich bin ein Berliner”.

I am proud to join a list of seven other German-born members of the House, one woman and six men. The first was the Hon. Hugo Kranz, elected in 1878 in the riding of Waterloo North.

Today, I am honoured and humbled to represent my riding of Mississauga—Lakeshore, and I am proud to stand today as the only German-born Liberal member of Parliament in its history so far. I hope there will be others to follow.

In the meantime, let me recognize a remarkable institution located in my riding. Friedrich Schiller Schule is a German language school that has championed language training since 1972. Named after the great German poet Schiller, and founded by the late Christa Guschewski, the school teaches students from kindergarten through high school. In 1999, Christa Guschewski received the Federal Cross of Merit or Bundesverdienstkreuz from the German government for her dedication and commitment to German heritage, language, and culture. Today, the school is beautifully run by her daughter Christina Guschewski.

Economic and cultural ties between Canada and Germany are numerous, and the partnership between our countries runs deep. It includes trade and commerce; research and development; military training exercises and exchanges through NATO; academic connections, including student exchanges, and tourism.

Germany is admired for its commitment to sustained investment in science, technology, and engineering, and for its long-standing constructive relationship between capital, labour, and the state. As a result, many German products and services are globally recognized and sought on the basis of quality, design, and efficiency. German companies with strong representations in Canada include BASF, Bayer, Carl Zeiss, Hapag-Lloyd, Miele, and DB Schenker, to name a few. Siemens, the company whose founder 100 years ago developed and produced the cars for the electric tramline that my great-great-grandfather installed in Berlin-Lichterfelde, has its Canadian headquarters in Oakville, my neighbouring riding to the west.

On the trade side, Germany, as the economic powerhouse of the European Union, was one of the primary driving forces behind the new Canada-Europe trade agreement. I congratulate our incredibly hard-working Minister of International Trade, the hon. member for University—Rosedale, and her team for having secured this milestone, which will bring about an even stronger and closer relationship between Canada and Germany.

To conclude, I would like to pay special tribute to the German community in Kitchener—Waterloo and its long-standing contribution to Canadian heritage. I had the privilege of accompanying the Prime Minister to Kitchener this fall to celebrate Oktoberfest, and I met many of the amazing volunteers and hard-working executives of the region's German clubs. Their warm welcome and hospitality truly underscore the word gemütlichkeit.

Motion No. 73 is a most fitting recognition of German heritage and its contribution to Canada. I am honoured by the opportunity to speak today and would like to congratulate the member for Kitchener South—Hespeler for this important motion.

German Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 12:03 p.m., the time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders


University—Rosedale Ontario


Chrystia Freeland LiberalMinister of International Trade

moved that Bill C-30, An Act to implement the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union and its Member States and to provide for certain other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is very appropriate that we should be beginning this debate following our discussion of the private member's motion that celebrates the close and historic connections between Canada and Germany. As we have just heard, Germany has indeed been one of the driving forces in getting this historic agreement signed.

I am delighted to rise in the House today in support of legislation to implement the Canada-EU comprehensive economic and trade agreement, CETA.

This is a historic day for everyone, a moment that I know very many hon. members of the House have worked hard to achieve. CETA is the most progressive trade agreement ever negotiated. It will help redefine what trade can and should be. It will lead to increased prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic, create well-paying middle-class jobs, which I will speak to further in a moment.

Our government believes strongly in an open global economy, and we will continue to champion the open society and open global trade. However, we cannot ignore the reality that, today, we are living in the most protectionist environment I have experienced in my lifetime, probably the most protectionist environment since the Second World War.

There is a reason for that. Many people simply feel that 21st century global capitalism is not working for them. This anxiety is manifesting itself, among other things, in a powerful backlash against globalization. For those of us who support the open society, and I hope and believe that includes all members of the House, it is incredibly important for us not to be in denial about the importance of these sentiments that are sweeping so much of the western industrialized world.

This is real. It is tempting for us to say that if only we could explain to people how positive the open society is, how valuable trade is, how costly protectionism is, if only we could find better words, everything would resolve itself. However, that is not going to be enough. We need to look more deeply than that and understand that this powerful wave of populist anti-globalization sentiment is based in the very real, very concrete experience of so many people in western industrialized countries, including our own. The answer has to be in more than trade deals, because the anxiety is about more than trade deals. It is about the impact of 21st century global capitalism.

The concerns people have, the economic concerns, the concerns they have for themselves, for their retirement, and for their children, are very real, and we need to address them. That is why our government is very proud to have cut taxes for the middle class. We are proud to have raised taxes on those who can afford them, the 1%. We are very proud to have created the Canada child benefit for the families most in need, and have boosted CPP for our seniors.

We are making essential investments every day that strengthen and support our middle class. We know and believe that that is why we can still proudly say in Canada that we have broad public support for the open society and globalization.

It is also why CETA is all the more important. Canada is raising the bar with CETA and establishing more inclusive trade and higher standards for how global economies must function in the 21st century. This agreement that we are debating today cements the paramount right of democratically elected governments to regulate in the interest of our citizens, to regulate the environment, labour standards, and in defence of the public sector.

We are proud to have made these changes to CETA since coming into office. We will continue to champion aggressive trade policies. As the Prime Minister said about CETA:

That leadership that we were able to show between Canada and Europe is not just something that will reassure our own citizens but should be an example to the world of how we can move forward on trade deals that do genuinely benefit everyone.

I must say, having just returned at five o'clock this morning from Lima, Peru, from the APEC trade summit of Asia Pacific countries, CETA was much discussed and seen as an example of how it is possible, even in 2016, to do progressive trade deals.

Most importantly, CETA will benefit Canadians. It will give benefits to consumers through lower prices and more choice; it will help workers with better quality jobs, because we know that jobs in export-oriented sectors pay 50% more; and it will help small and medium-sized businesses by lowering the tariff barriers their products face.

CETA sets new standards for trade in goods and services, non-tariff barriers, investment, and government procurement in addition to its very high labour and environmental standards.

CETA offers Canada, Canadian workers, and Canadian businesses preferential access to a dynamic market of more than half a billion people. This is the world's second largest market for goods. In fact, the EU's annual imports alone are worth more than Canada's entire GDP.

Of the EU's more than 9,000 tariff lines, approximately 98% will be duty-free for Canadian goods the moment CETA comes into force, and almost all of the remaining tariff lines will be eliminated when the agreement is fully implemented. This will translate into better market opportunities and more jobs for Canadian businesses of all sizes, in all sectors, and in every part of the country.

Consider Guelph's Linamar, a Canadian manufacturing success story with operations in Europe, which now stands to be even more competitive in the EU market as tariff barriers on products like its Skyjacks go down to zero; and Northland Power, with its clean and green power projects, which can expand even further into Europe; or one of my favourites, Manitoba Mukluks, a Métis-founded business, whose mukluks and moccasins are currently subject to a 17% tariff in Europe. That tariff will go down to zero when CETA enters into force.

Whether it is technology and software, aerospace, telecoms, clean tech, life sciences, agriculture, or infrastructure, Canadians working across our economy stand to benefit from this deal. This is great news for our middle class and those working hard to join it.

My hon. colleagues know, though, that trade today is about more than just tangible goods. It also includes services. In Canada and the EU, the service sector is responsible for most of our economies—more than 70% in both cases. CETA, a gold standard, modern agreement, recognizes the increasingly important role services play in global trade and creates a wealth of new business opportunities for Canadian service providers.

CETA offers Canadian businesses new opportunities to access EU government procurement contracts, which are estimated to be worth $3.3 trillion. In addition to increased access to markets, CETA also includes many other important benefits.

CETA is the first bilateral trade agreement in which Canada has included an entire chapter on regulatory co-operation. It includes a conformity assessment protocol, which will allow Canadian businesses in certain sectors to sell their products tested and certified in Canada without the European Union having to duplicate those testing and certification requirements.

CETA also includes a detailed framework for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, which is a key factor for labour mobility.

CETA is a progressive and modem trade agreement that fully integrates labour rights and environmental standards. It emphasizes the role played by public services and the right of states to pass regulations.

Our common objective is to ensure that globalization is a positive force based on our shared values and high aspirations. That is this agreement's raison d'être and why it is so important.

I will now address some of CETA's more progressive elements. CETA's preamble recognizes that the agreement's provisions reaffirm the parties’ right to regulate within their respective territories to achieve legitimate policy objectives, such as the protection of public health, safety, the environment, public morals, and the promotion and protection of cultural diversity.

Article 8.9 of the chapter on investment makes it clear that the parties to the agreement preserve the right to regulate in order to achieve legitimate policy objectives.

Changes were made to the investor dispute settlement provisions to include more detailed commitments on the independence and ethical behaviour of members of the tribunal, as well as establish a revised process for selecting members of the tribunal and an appeal mechanism.

Nothing in CETA prevents governments from regulating in the public interest, including by granting preferential treatment to indigenous peoples or adopting measures to protect or promote Canadian culture.

CETA will not necessarily lead to the privatization of public services. Canada has a great deal of experience using the negative list approach and is sure that CETA will give it free rein when it comes to policy making.

Articles 23.2 and 23.4 under the labour and trade chapter address labour rights and recognize the right of Canada and the European Union to set their own labour priorities and protections and stipulate that it is inappropriate to encourage trade or investment by weakening or reducing the levels of protection afforded in their labour law and standards.

In the chapter of CETA on trade and the environment, Canada and the European Union also reaffirm that environmental standards cannot be lowered in order to promote trade or attract investment. Those are two very important points for both us and the European Union.

CETA also recognizes the European Union's and Canada's right to define their own environmental priorities and levels of environmental protection and to pass or amend their own laws and policies accordingly.

What is more, CETA includes a commitment to co-operate on trade-related environmental issues of common interest, such as environmental assessments, climate change, and the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

Our government has been tireless since the day we assumed office, pushing this deal forward and leaving no stone unturned. I would like now to recognize some of the people who have worked so hard on this historic agreement.

I would like to start, of course, with my Prime Minister, whose relentless advocacy, in public and in private, whose work directly with Europe's leaders, and whose work at home and abroad, were essential in getting to where we are today. I thank him for his leadership on CETA, and more generally for his voice in Canada and the world in speaking for the open society.

Many of my cabinet colleagues, as well as my exceptional parliamentary secretary, have worked extremely hard on this agreement, both in Canada and in Europe. Their engagement has been absolutely essential. In fact, my parliamentary secretary and our CETA envoy have spent a great deal of time over the past weeks and months across Canada, and particularly working with our partners in Europe.

Hon. members in this House, and particularly our Quebec caucus, worked very hard in the final days before the signing of CETA, personally reaching out to our European partners, to legislators in Europe in national and subnational assemblies, explaining to them how important this agreement was, and speaking about the shared values between Canada and Europe, including our shared membership of La Francophonie.

I would like to sincerely thank my colleagues for this absolutely critical work.

Our provincial and territorial partners have been extremely engaged in working on CETA. I am very proud to say that when we were in Europe a few weeks ago to sign CETA, the Europeans pointed to Canada as an example of effective federalism, of federalism that works. The degree of co-operation between the provinces and the federal government on this essential deal has been outstanding, and I would like to strongly thank the trade ministers of Canada's provinces and territories and their chief negotiators, who worked so hard on the agreement.

I would like to single out the role that Quebec has played in working on the agreement. The leadership of Quebec, including strong advocacy for CETA in Europe, was very important, and played a particular role in securing the support of francophone Europe for this deal.

I would like to thank my Quebec colleagues.

I would like to very warmly recognize and thank the exceptional work of our public service. We in Canada are extremely lucky to have outstanding public servants, and, as trade minister, I say our trade negotiators are the best of the best. They have done an outstanding deal on CETA.

I would like to personally recognize Steve Verheul, our chief negotiator for CETA. I would like to thank him for his years of dedicated work to ensuring that we as a country could conclude negotiations on this progressive gold standard agreement. It will serve as an international standard and also offer tremendous specific, concrete benefits to Canadian workers and Canadian businesses.

I would also like to recognize the hard work of the previous government on getting this deal done. Canada's strength is when we can work together across party lines, across this aisle, and pass the ball from one government to another and finally get it over the finish line. I would like to personally recognize the leadership of the former prime minister, Stephen Harper, on this issue.

CETA will set the bar for future trade agreements, and it forms the cornerstone of our government's progressive trade agenda. This is an agenda linked to our government's core focus here at home on reducing income inequality and enhancing inclusive growth that benefits all Canadians. CETA sends a clear signal, at an essential moment, to the whole world, that we in Canada believe in an open society. We believe in a society that welcomes immigrants and welcomes investments, and believes that by doing that we have more jobs and more growth. After all, at our core, we are a trading nation, a nation of immigrants, and we are very proud of that.

CETA sends a message to the world that Canada and the EU reject protectionism and we are committed to a freer and more open global economy. At a time when so much of the world is saying no to trade and no to the global economy, I am very proud that on Canada's behalf, and through CETA, we can resoundingly say yes.

We are sending an unmistakable signal to the rest of the world that even now, at a time of some uncertainty, Canada believes in building bridges, not walls. Now is the time to embrace stronger partnerships with our friends around the world. Now is the time to pursue prosperity and economic growth with a progressive trade agenda, built from the ground up, to help strengthen the middle class here at home.

I welcome this week's debate on CETA, and I hope all members will support this important agreement.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree we are a trading nation, and trade with Europe is too important to get wrong.

I heard the minister talk about the insecurity felt by all Canadians. This is extremely true. She also mentioned her duty to regulate in the interests of Canadians. There is 25% of the legislative changes that are to the Patent Act for extensions and changes to pharmaceutical patents that will cost all Canadians. She mentioned no stone unturned. The stone unturned is talking to Canadians. CETA will lead to increased costs of prescription drugs for Canadians.

When the Liberals were in opposition, they agreed with New Democrats that greater analysis was needed, as well as compensation to the provinces. However, the government has provided no analysis of just how much this would cost provinces, nor has it offered any compensation.

Is the minister comfortable signing off on CETA without any further analysis of how these increased drugs costs will impact Canadians and those in her own riding?

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question and for her very hard work on this file. I am extremely comfortable, indeed proud, to advocate for CETA. I have absolutely no doubt that this agreement will bring tremendous benefits to Canadians. It will bring jobs and growth. A joint Canada-EU study that was done a few years ago found that CETA would bring GDP growth of 0.7% to the Canadian economy. When we look at where the economy is today, how hard we are fighting for even 0.1% of growth, to be able to sign and soon ratify an agreement that will give us almost 1% more in our GDP is something I am extremely proud to do.

As the hon. member knows, our government was very clear when I was trade critic, when we were in opposition, of our strong support for CETA. We have been true to what we said then in supporting it today and in getting it across the finish line. Of course, this trade agreement, like any trade agreement, will have some variable impacts across different sectors. That is something our government is working on and consulting on, and I am working very closely with my relevant cabinet colleagues on that.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is quite a unique situation when the relay race is over and the minister gets to stand in the middle podium, so I welcome the opportunity to speak to this issue today. Having said that, she commented about an open society, and I could not agree more. There is a lot more media scrutiny, more social media scrutiny, on things like this, and there is very little factual information at times.

However, what pays for an open society? I would like the minister to comment on that. Trade is one of the major economic drivers of this great country, one in eight jobs in some sectors, and one in five jobs in other sectors, that rely on trade and the openness of trade to make that happen. The minister has often commented that this is the gold standard of trade agreements, and I could not agree more, having been part of the development of it. It is the chapters on labour standards, environmental standards, and the regulatory co-operation that facilitate that economic drive that will create and pay for an open society.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member for Battlefords—Lloydminster and I find ourselves very much in agreement. I believe strongly, as does our government, that trade is a driver of economic growth in opening up trade agreements with the world. In this historic agreement with Europe, we are driving more growth to the Canadian economy. We will be creating more jobs for middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join the middle class.

I absolutely agree with the member opposite that it is through economic growth that we are able to support and sustain our open society. The member spoke about the labour and environmental standards embedded in CETA. Those are tremendously important for our government, and we are proud of the work we did to further strengthen those. He referred also to regulatory co-operation, which is an important part of CETA, but we will have to talk about that later.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Simon Marcil Bloc Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, in her speech, the minister bragged about being an advocate for progressive trade agreements, and the Liberals have been bragging about being progressive from the beginning.

However, the government voted against Motion No. 42 on the tax haven of Barbados, which was moved by my colleague from Joliette. It was that very tax haven that allowed the right dishonourable Paul Martin to save $100 million in taxes. The government is saying that it is signing nice, progressive agreements, which is great and the Liberals get some good photo ops out of it, but the problem is that they still have not resolved the diafiltered milk issue or that of compensation for cheese producers.

Will the government stop taking us for fools?

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for raising many issues with one question.

The hon. member spoke about the canada-european union comprehensive economic and trade agreement, or CETA. I want to underscore that this agreement is truly the most progressive international trade agreement in existence. In fact, this agreement has the support of all socialist parties in a government coalition.

I would also like to point out that in terms of investment our government has made very significant and very progressive changes, and I am certain that they will serve as a model for all other international trade agreements.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice—Champlain Québec


François-Philippe Champagne LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to stand today and congratulate our Minister of International Trade, who has done an astonishing job. She mentioned all of the people who contributed, but I think they would agree that she is probably one of the hardest working people in Parliament. She has broadened Canada in making sure that our trade relationships are growing. I cannot be more proud than to stand today on behalf of all of my colleagues to congratulate her. She is an astonishing figure, recognized not only in our country but around the world.

I would like to ask the minister what this agreement will do. As we know, our government is about Canadian families, the middle class, and jobs. What will this agreement do for all of the stakeholders in our country? I know that when the minister negotiates, one thing she remembers is the Canadian middle class and Canadian jobs.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his overly kind words.

As a member of our Quebec caucus, my hon. colleague was very much engaged in this intensive outreach effort, particularly in the final days ahead of the signing of CETA, and being sure that we spoke to European parliamentarians, especially francophone parliamentarians.

I made a point in my remarks of specifying three Canadian companies that would specifically benefit from the lowering of tariff barriers, which will take effect immediately when CETA comes into force. It is something that will happen in a matter of weeks or months. It is not something far in the future.

I would also like to point out that CETA already is having a positive effect when foreign companies look at Canada and how they view Canada as an investment destination.

I was with the Prime Minister in South and Latin America over the past few days. We met with many companies there. They were very interested in how CETA now positions Canada uniquely as a country where investors have access to both the North American and the European markets. That is good for Canadian jobs.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for her speech in the House.

However, I must point out that Quebec's agri-food system finds itself on the losing side of the canada-european union comprehensive economic and trade agreement. Producers feel abandoned by the Liberal government because it is not defending our supply management system under either CETA or the trans-Pacific partnership. The government has been in power for one year and has not yet resolved the issue of diafiltered milk.

Furthermore, the transition assistance plan is only providing $350 million. That is peanuts. The industry believes that there should be between $750 million and $1 billion in transition assistance.

Given that our producers are worried and feel abandoned by the Liberal government, can the minister give us a little more information?

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question and her work. I would also like to thank my colleague, the Minister of Agriculture. As my colleague said, a few days ago, the minister announced our robust plan to support dairy producers as they undertake this important transition and modernize their operations. I know that the hon. Minister of Agriculture has worked very hard and done a lot of consultation with dairy producers.

All Canadian provinces, including Quebec, strongly support this trade agreement. I was very proud to work with my Quebec counterparts.