Madam Speaker, it is a real honour to rise today to speak to this important motion as the member of Parliament for Bow River.
I would like to acknowledge many of the members in the House today who have shared many different opinions and a lot of knowledge. I appreciate learning. This is a good opportunity to hear all of the different opinions and share knowledge, often much more knowledge than I might have, so I appreciate that.
I will talk about trade. Canada has a long history when it comes to trade. We could say it started with John Cabot in the 15th century, an Italian explorer who was in the employ of King Henry VII of England. As we know, Cabot mistakenly believed he had reached Asia when he got to the coast of Newfoundland. He was intent on trading spices, silk, and other high-end merchandise at that time. Cabot is considered the father of trans-Atlantic trade between England and North America because he discovered the abundant cod. Later, there were the cod fishermen from England and Europe.
Then there was fur. We know how important and crucial the fur trade was in the development of Canadian culture, identity, and institutions. Look at the Hudson's Bay Company, for example, which was established as a fur-trading outfit with a royal charter from King Charles II of England in 1670. It still exists today. Its main competition was The North West Company, though the two later merged in 1821.
Then there was our trade relationship with the United States, which virtually stalled in the years leading up to the War of 1812. I do not think it caused the War of 1812, but it did not help. By 1854, the treaty of reciprocity had been signed by both countries. Then there was still a group of British colonies in the United States. We could argue that was Canada's first free trade agreement. It reduced tariffs, duties, and fees for goods traded between the two countries. That treaty, in its form, did not really last, and although many similar treaties were negotiated, they never had the effect of the original reciprocity treaty.
That was true until the free trade agreement that was negotiated by former prime minister Brian Mulroney. It became the election issue in the 1988 federal election. The FTA then became NAFTA, and NAFTA has made Canada wealthier, stronger, and better off economically. NAFTA was a necessary agreement. Without it, I do not think we would have one of the world's largest economies today.
More recently, the previous Conservative government negotiated several trade agreements, including the Canada-EU trade agreement, which has the potential to give Canadian businesses and consumers access to a market of 500 million people. That same government negotiated the trans-Pacific partnership deal, which is the subject matter of the motion before us today.
As NAFTA and the Canada-EU free trade deal are crucial for the constituents in Bow River, the TPP is one of the most important trade agreements that Canada will ever ratify. We cannot ignore this agreement and stick our heads in the sand. The future economic prosperity of Canada is in jeopardy if we do not get ourselves organized and get this deal ratified. If we can get the TPP ratified, we would become the world's only major economy with free trade access to Europe, the NAFTA region, and the Asia-Pacific region. That is over 60% of the world's economy.
When the government hears that fact, all I can ask is, if not now, when will the consultations happen and when will it be back in the House? Can the government please explain to the House why we are not seeing a timeline for completion? That is what we are looking for, the timeline. Let us get it done and use that timeline.
I would like to look at some of the sectors that are going to benefit greatly from the TPP, and I want to start with a quote from Maclean's magazine on October 5, 2015, which stated, “on average, we can expect TPP trade liberalization to deliver higher productivity, higher GDP, and higher incomes to Canadians". This is the crux of the matter here.
Overall, the TPP is a good deal for our people. It is a good deal for the Canadian companies that employ Canadians, and it is good for our economy as a whole. One of the biggest sectors in my riding is agriculture. There are very large farms in Bow River. In fact, Alberta's crop commissions were here last month to lobby the government to get the TPP ratified immediately.
Do members know why the TPP is so important to these organizations? It is because, as stated in the press release they produced on April 19, “The TPP agreement would increase demand for Canada’s agricultural exports and ensure Canada can remain competitive in key markets, as two of our major competitors, Australia and the United States, would otherwise see preferential access to key Canadian markets within the TPP zone.”
Essentially, if we do not get this deal ratified, agricultural exporters in my constituency will be hurt because of it. Placing this sector at a disadvantage in some of their export destinations is just unacceptable.
I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the largest employers in my riding, which is JBS Food Canada. JBS Food is the largest meat packing plant in Canada. The group that represents it and other industry stakeholders nationally here in Canada, the Canadian Meat Council, had this to say about the TPP, “Canadian meat packers and processors strongly support ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
They also had the following to offer to the discourse:
The current and future viability of the Canadian livestock and meat sector is profoundly dependent on international trade. In the absence of competitive access to critical export markets, including those in the TPP region, the sustainability of the Canadian meat industry would be quickly and seriously imperilled.
Producers, processors, workers, [innovators], investment, exports, rural communities, and domestic food security in every region of Canada would gain measurable benefits from implementation of the TPP. All would suffer severe, rapid, and enduring negative consequences should the TPP be implemented without Canadian participation.
This is a very high-stakes agreement for food processors like JBS in Brooks, and they absolutely need to see this deal ratified.
Another group that is excited about this deal are the ones who supply the beef, the Canadian cattlemen. There are many of these cattlemen across my constituency. We have some of the best ranches in the country in Bow River, and our cattlemen are a dedicated bunch. Have I mentioned how much I love Alberta beef?
As a result of TPP, the Canadian cattlemen estimate that Canada's cattle producers could as much as triple their export capacity to Japan, which would mean $300 million worth of exports. That is a huge number and would greatly benefit businesses in my constituency.
One sector that has perhaps not been featured as heavily in the discussions surrounding the TPP is Canada's service sector. I am not sure if my colleagues in the House are aware, but Canada's service sector is a gigantic part of our economy. With numbers that are current as of 2013, it accounts for 70% of the GDP of Canada. There is 78% of Canadians, or 4 in 5 people, who work in the service industry. That is incredible.
The TPP deal covers this industry, and for us that could be a major advantage. The Conference Board of Canada, for example, believes that Canada's service is very high value and the appetite for such service is only going to grow stronger, even in areas like the TPP zone.
According to Global Affairs Canada, as of 2011, Canada was the 18th-largest exporter of services in the world. Would it not be incredible if we could elevate ourselves to the top five, or even aim for number one?
I believe the benefits to our service industry are clear, and ratification of the TPP would be very welcome among those Canadian companies that provide such services.
With all this in mind, we urge this Liberal government to make a decision on the ratification of the trans-Pacific partnership, which they have already signed. If it would do this before the North American Leaders' Summit on June 29, it would send a great message to our business community. The clarity that such a measure would bring to Canadians would be welcomed.