Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay.
The NDP is pleased to support the Canada-Ukraine agreement, because it is actually about trade. Canada currently runs a modest trade surplus with Ukraine, and we see a real potential for this deal, by removing tariffs to build upon that trade relationship to create jobs in Canada, and to make a contribution to the economy of the Ukraine as well. This is exactly the kind of agreement that the NDP is happy to support.
As members know, we are opposed to the agreement between Canada and the European Union. With the European Union, Canada currently runs a massive trade deficit, which would likely be enlarged by the agreement that would be a detraction from our economy and from employment in our country. That trade deficit is even larger, if we assume that the United Kingdom will be removed from the agreement as a result of Brexit.
There is a real contrast between these two agreements, in terms of the trade relationships that exist and that the agreements would likely amplify. However, an even bigger distinction has to do with the non-trade aspects of the Canada-Europe deal. The Canada-Europe agreement would extend the duration of pharmaceutical patents, which would drive up the price of prescription drugs for provincial health care systems, as well as for individual Canadians.
We are very pleased to note that those provisions are not present in the Canada-Ukraine deal, which gives us comfort in supporting it. We also note that the Canada-Europe agreement includes investor-state provisions, which empower foreign investors to directly challenge our democratic laws, regulations, and public policies, not in the regular court system, but in a special set of commercial tribunals to which most other sectors of society do not have access.
Again, we are very pleased with the fact that the Canada-Ukraine agreement does not include these pernicious investor-state provisions. Again, this makes us quite comfortable in supporting it.
Before question period, I asked the member for Calgary Nose Hill about why the Conservatives believe it is so important to have investor-state provisions in the Canada-Europe agreement. Given that Canada and Europe both have well functioning court systems, it is not obvious to me why we would need to set up these special tribunals for Canadian investors in Europe, or European investors in Canada. I did not get much of an answer to this question from the member for Calgary Nose Hill. There really was not an explanation as to why the Conservatives, or the Liberal government, for that matter, feel it is important to have investor-state provisions in the Canada-Europe deal.
However, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, in response, did suggest that the NDP not reflexively supporting anything and everything called a free trade agreement somehow puts us in the same camp as the Trump administration, and challenged me to explain our positions on trade vis-à-vis those of President Trump. I would like to take the opportunity to address that.
Mr. Trump has identified several real problems that exist with American trade. He has called attention to the problem of Chinese steel, produced in violation of internationally recognized environmental and labour standards, being dumped into the U.S. market, to the detriment of the American steel industry and American steelworkers.
We have exactly the same problem here in Canada with Chinese steel being dumped into our markets. My sense is that we need to work with the United States, and indeed with the Trump administration, to formulate a North America solution for this problem. If we do not do that, if the United States acts alone against Chinese steel dumping, a lot of that steel will be diverted into the Canadian market, which would hurt our industry and our steelworkers even more.
Worse yet, if Canada allows itself to be a conduit for dumped Chinese steel, we could make ourselves a target for American trade retaliation. That would be disastrous, given that our steel industries are quite integrated across the Canada-U.S. border, and given that the steel trade is quite large and balanced between our two countries.
As someone who serves on the all-party steel caucus, I am going to try to work toward a North American solution to the problem of Chinese steel dumping rather than running the risk of Canada falling victim to the Trump administration's efforts to address this quite real and serious problem.
Now, on the topic of steel dumping, this is an issue with Ukraine as well. Ukraine has quite a significant steel industry, but, unfortunately, it does not have the kind of labour and environmental standards that all countries should respect. There is a problem with the dumping of Ukrainian steel as well. A few months ago, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal renewed anti-dumping duties on Ukrainian steel in recognition that the problem persists.
This is an issue that gives me some pause with the Canada-Ukraine trade deal. However, I am still confident in supporting it, because this deal importantly allows Canada to continue with trade remedy policies. This agreement does not impair our ability to apply anti-dumping and countervailing duties when necessary against Ukrainian steel. I think this agreement safeguards our industry and allows the Canadian government to continue to offset unfair competitive advantages achieved in Ukraine by violating internationally recognized labour and environmental standards. That is an important thing.
On the topic of dealing with the Trump administration on trade policy, in a much broader way, Trump has suggested renegotiating NAFTA. This is clearly a threat to Canada in some ways, but it is also an opportunity. I would note that there are aspects of NAFTA that are problematic, that do not work well for Canada, and that we should seek to fix in any potential renegotiation.
I spoke earlier about investor-state provisions and the problems created when we empower foreign investors to directly challenge policies that allegedly deprive them of some potential profit. We have seen a lot of those problems play out under NAFTA. We have the famous AbitibiBowater case. That company shut down its last pulp and paper mill in Newfoundland and Labrador. In response, the provincial government reclaimed water rights that it had given to AbitibiBowater to operate those mills. The company turned around and sued Canada under NAFTA for the loss of those water rights, even though it was not using them anymore to produce pulp and paper in that province.
The former Conservative government ended up paying AbitibiBowater millions of dollars to settle that. Clearly, investor-state provisions are a problem, and clearly chapter 11 is a part of NAFTA that is not working. I think very high on the Canadian agenda in any renegotiation of NAFTA needs to be to remove chapter 11.
We have also had a lot of debates in the House about pipelines, about being able to export Canadian resources to different markets. NAFTA actually restricts that through the proportionality clause. It locks Canada in to making a certain proportion of our energy resources, not just oil and gas, but also electricity, available to the United States. Removing the proportionality clause from NAFTA is another thing that Canada needs to be pushing for in our negotiations with the Trump administration.
A lot of Canadians are fearful of this whole idea of renegotiation of NAFTA. There is a sense that if it does not work out, if Trump tears up NAFTA, then we will not have anything, that our whole trade relationship with the United States will be at risk. Happily, if we get into that eventuality, we still have the original Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, which is a deal that is much more similar to the agreement we are currently debating with Ukraine. It is an agreement that removes tariffs. It is an agreement that gives us tariff-free access to the U.S. market without including these pernicious investor-state provisions.
Given that we can fall back on the original Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, Canada should be quite bold and should push quite hard in renegotiating NAFTA to fix it and remove those elements we do not like, because as I said, the alternative is something much better.