Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be joining the debate on Bill C-31. I would like to thank the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman for his contributions so far. It is a great introduction to the intervention I intend to make.
The member reminded this House that it was indeed Yanukovych's refusal to implement the free trade agreement with Europe that led to the downfall of his regime and to freedom for Ukrainians and unfortunately, today, to the crisis of Ukrainians having to repel an attack from Russian forces, initially under the guise of being a so-called separatist movement. We now know that not to be true.
We know that there are 1.3 million Canadians of Ukrainian heritage living in Canada. Many of these people are small business owners, Canadians who are looking forward to this opportunity to trade freely with their country of origin, possibly the country of their birth and also the birth of their fathers, mothers, grandfathers, and grandmothers.
It is an agreement that was negotiated, of course, and the work on it was concluded on July 14, 2015, by the previous Conservative government. This renewed interest we see from the government on free trade is great news. I will not call it a baptism of free trade, but maybe I will call it a confirmation of free trade. I was always hoping that the Liberal government would take up on every single free trade agreement that the previous Conservative government had successfully negotiated and would bring them to the House for ratification. I am pleased to see this one here today.
We have found this newfound interest that the Liberals are promoting for trade to be both comforting and a good sign. I want to take the opportunity in this debate to talk about the economic benefits for Canada and for Ukraine, which many members have done already. I also want to talk about the broader philosophy of why free trade is both good for our country and good globally. I think it is needed right now, with the wave of protectionism coming through the western world and convincing people to perhaps push back against globalization and against further freeing of trade.
To do that, I will be going back at the end of my speech to talk about Sir Robert Peel and the original corn laws, and the great impact that had on Canada and how it actually formed the Conservative Party. I am a member of the opposition, a member of the Conservative Party of Canada, and we have a proud tradition of having this internal battle within our own party between the protectionists and the free traders.
It deeply inspired many of the Conservatives we see today to become free traders, but that has not always been the case. There have been a great many great Conservative leaders. In the United Kingdom, one of them was Winston Churchill, who made his career on the debate on free trade and actually crossed the floor twice, much to his everlasting shame, I will say.
We know that the provinces in Canada that would likely gain the most would be British Columbia and Quebec. B.C. alone represents 71.3% of Canada's exports to Ukraine, $150.2 million in 2015 alone, which was an increase of $46 million in trade from 2014. British Columbia would have an immense opportunity to gain from this free trade agreement.
We also enjoy a trade surplus of $143 million with Ukraine. I can only see that as an opportunity for Alberta farmers, for Alberta agricultural companies, and of course the resource sector, which is one of the main contributions we make for trade with Ukraine. We know that 86% of tariffs in Ukraine would be lifted; 99.9% of Canadian tariffs on Ukrainian goods would also be lifted.
I just want to go over some of those top exports from western Canada, where I am from: frozen hake, bituminous coal, reservoir tanks and similar containers, parts of boring or sinking machinery, air compressors and other similar equipment, seeders and planters, and frozen pork. These are all things that our western producers either build, make, or grow, which now would have an opportunity to enter the Ukrainian market with a lower tariff.
Furthermore, Canadian pork exporters would benefit from duty-free access on fresh and chilled pork and from the large duty-free tariff rate quota for frozen pork and certain pork offals and fats. Reservoir tanks and similar containers would see the tariffs of up to 7% eliminated immediately upon entry into force of this agreement.
Meteorological, geophysical, and other surveying instruments are something for which Alberta and Alberta companies are well known worldwide. We are one of the top providers in the world of both the equipment and the know-how to operate it. The tariff of 5% would be phased out over five years from the coming into force of this agreement.
Wine and ice wine, as well, would see their tariff go down. Pet food and animal feed, as well as pulses, would see tariffs go down, all good news for Canadian producers and Canadian manufacturers in western Canada.
As we know, as of September 19, 2016, Ukraine has a GDP at purchasing power parity of about $339.2 billion. It is an immense market and has immense opportunities for Canadian small and medium businesses to expand their trade exports into this country. It has a population of 45.2 million people. It is Canada's 75th largest merchandise trade partner, and we can only see that number decrease over time. It would become a better trading partner with us.
In terms of ease of doing business, it is ranked 83rd among 189 countries. Hopefully, Canadian know-how, knowledge, and interest in trading with other countries would be transferred to Ukrainian companies and they would be able to do business and potentially hire Canadians, maybe of Ukrainian heritage, who would be able to explain to them how to do business and make it easier to do business in Ukraine. Overall, it is an immense opportunity not just for trade but for that cultural exchange and to show Ukraine what it means to trade freely with other countries.
As I have always done, I will give a Yiddish proverb today: many trades and few blessings. It is an old Yiddish proverb that says a jack of all trades will seldom make a good living. In Canada's case, though, it does not prove entirely true. We have been debating the merit of free trade. Free trade is what Canada does, as a jack of all trades, and what we have always done. Whether we have called it reciprocity in the past or free trade, it has been part of our Canadian identity and the culture that Canada has developed over the years, decades, and centuries.
The story of Canada is, in fact, about securing better markets for our products. Confederation came out of debates over a customs union for the Atlantic provinces and when the Fathers of Confederation came together, that was initially what they were talking about. They were not so much talking about forming a Canadian country. That was really Sir John A. Macdonald's great contribution. He injected himself into a customs union conversation, the great debate, raising it to the level of maybe creating a country like Canada based on the free trade of goods between the provinces that were, at the time, colonies of the British Empire.
The Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 was when Great Britain abrogated the protective tariffs it had in 1846 that led Canada to look for new export opportunities for its products. Then Canadians turned to the United States, our neighbour to the south, which has been for a great many centuries now—almost two—our greatest trading partner, the best relationship we have ever had. When Great Britain abrogated the Corn Laws in 1846, it accorded advantageous customs duties to Canadian agricultural products. It was a great debate in the United Kingdom at the time, in the Conservative Party especially, on whether it should move toward freer trade or become more protectionist. In fact, that ripped the party apart. It cost Sir Robert Peel his government and the leadership of the Conservative Party.
It is important to dwell on that for a moment as we launch ourselves into this Canada–Ukraine free trade agreement, because the cultural identity we have as free traders would be passed on. As I have mentioned, Sir Winston Churchill crossed from the Conservatives to the Liberals over the issue of free trade and then crossed back to the Conservatives later on, in 1924, hoping to lead a right-wing faction of Liberals into Baldwin's government. It was over free trade that he will be most fondly remembered. As he said in his own words, it takes a special type of leader and politician to first rat and then re-rat, twice.
A different generation and a related Parliament fought over the Corn Laws. In fact, in 1842, the Corn Laws disappointed those expectations overnight by substantially modifying the sliding scale duties last revised in 1828 in the direction of free competition. The Economist magazine was actually founded to fight the Corn Laws and eventually would win in 1846. It would see the abrogation of all of those tariffs. A similar measure applied to Canadian corn in 1843.
Members are probably wondering why I would bring up the Corn Laws issue of the 19th century. It shows that Canada has been trading for hundreds of years. It has been a great part of who we are as Canadians. It means a lot to us when we find new partners who want to trade with us. We see this rise of protectionism worldwide, as I mentioned before.
It is incumbent upon a country like Canada, which has been dependent on trade and finding new countries to trade with, to implement treaties like this, to show the way for countries that have an opportunity to grow their economies through exports and the imports of goods from the Canadian market, in which the consumers at home could potentially enjoy Canadian maple syrup or others goods. It really comes down to a willing seller and a willing buyer being found and agreeing to make an exchange of goods by bartering or for money.
Choosing who we trade with without government interference is really important. It speaks again to that shared identity we have as Canadians. Just as free trade was transformational for Canada and our shared identity, I am convinced it would do the same for Ukraine. As we trade more with Ukraine, as other western European countries do more of it, trade will pull Ukraine out of the soviet sphere of influence it has been trapped in for past centuries.
It is a great opportunity for geopolitical reasons; it is a great opportunity for trade reasons. I urge all members to support this. I have been pleased to hear so far that all members in the House, seemingly, will be supporting this bill. I look forward to further debate on it throughout the day.