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House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was co-operatives.

Topics

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

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's economic interests in Europe are twofold. A prosperous Europe contributes to global prosperity and CETA represents a wonderful opening to a market of more than 500 million people.

Many of the remarks from our NDP colleagues focus on the uncertain voices that we hear from some quarters of the European Union, but they have very little to say about the enthusiasm from the vast majority of the EU membership, particularly in eastern Europe, where Latvia, for example, has praised CETA as the most progressive trade agreement ever negotiated by the EU.

Could my colleague speak to the fact that perhaps all members of the House should be a little less restrained and voice their enthusiasm, as our new impending European trade partners are so enthusiastically voicing their enthusiasm for CETA?

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

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, we need to have a principled look at trade agreements. It is always important to look at the details of trade agreements. I mentioned in my speech that the Canada-EU relationship went back centuries. We have strong familial ties. In Canada, we have a large European diaspora. The agreement will not only connect families and grow our relations together, but also, as the hon. colleague mentioned, help those countries that are looking for other markets, or are helping other markets to boost their own economy as well. Trade agreements are good. Reciprocal trade agreements are even better, ensuring our agreement has benefits flowing on each side. I think we will only see benefits coming from this.

As my hon. colleague mentioned, Latvia has said this is one of the best agreements it has seen in decades. While we do have some naysayers in the House, I think all members of Parliament will agree that given the uncertain times south of the border and the increasing protectionist rhetoric, everything we can do to create new opportunities for Canadians and Canadian producers is something we should all celebrate.

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

4:20 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, we have had a great deal of debate over the last while on the benefits of the CETA. One thing that needs to be emphasized, and maybe the member could also comment on this, is that these agreements do not happen overnight. Whether it is our current minister, the former minister, or the minister responsible from the Conservative government, an incredibly intelligent, articulate, dedicated group of civil servants has negotiated on our behalf. We need to recognize that Canada as a nation has some incredible levels of expertise that are brought to the table to ensure we will do well under these agreements.

I listened to many of the comments of the members of the NDP. They have raised issues, and there will always be some. However, the net benefit for CETA is overwhelmingly positive from my perspective. I want to extend congratulations to all of those who have been involved in making this agreement possible. Maybe the member may want to make similar comments.

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

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, maybe we should give credit where credit is due. We have an incredible group at Global Affairs Canada that had 10 years of great policy framework and some great investments in ports, airports, transportation, our gateway programs, also in terms of our trade commissioner programs at home and abroad, and our export marketing programs, whether it was go global, or Canexport, and our policy framework.

With respect to our Global Affairs group, Canada has some of the best people at the table. They were led by a strong member, the hon. colleague for Abbotsford. It is important to do everything we can do to ensure we celebrate where we are going, ensuring we give kudos where it is due. However, I would agree with my hon. colleague that we should be celebrating our agreements and celebrating those who get it across the line.

I know there was a considerable amount of work, effort and investment from the previous government and as well as former prime minister Stephen Harper. He had the foresight to set Canada up not only in our investments in our gateway program but also in our marketing and policy framework, moving that forward and subsequently complementing any trade agreement we move forward.

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

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, Canadian Heritage; the hon. member for Provencher, Taxation.

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

February 13th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.

NDP

Erin Weir NDP Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Drummond.

My ears were burning during the speech of my colleague from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, because he spoke about members of the House objecting to CETA based on the investor-state provisions. Having given several speeches to that effect, I thought it was a good opportunity to engage with the arguments that he brought forward.

The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan essentially made two arguments as to why investor-state provisions are okay. He said that we need to have some sort of adjudication of the provisions of trade agreements. He also said that we live in a society with rule of law, where individuals and businesses can sue the government, can take the government to court. At some level I actually agree with both of those statements, but I do not think either one of them supports the kind of investor-state provisions that we see in CETA and a number of other trade deals.

If we talk about the need to have some sort of adjudication process to enforce the provisions in trade agreements, that is very true. Almost all provisions of CETA are subject to a government-to-government dispute resolution system, and it would be entirely reasonable to have the investment provisions subject to that same type of dispute resolution where, if investors felt that their rights had been breached, they would convince the government they had a legitimate case, and the government would bring that case forward. That is how every other aspect of the deal works.

What is objectionable about the investor-state provisions is they set up an entirely separate process of dispute resolution just for investors. They set up an entirely separate tribunal process that is available only to financiers and property owners, not other parties that might have concerns or complaints or issues under the agreement. What this leads to is a lot of frivolous cases being brought forward under investor-state provisions, because there is no need for investors to even convince their own government that they have a reasonable case that is worth bringing forward. They can bring forward a case to kind of try their luck before the tribunal. They can bring forward a case just to harass a foreign government and try to push back on its democratic laws, regulations, and policies. The problem is not with having some sort of enforcement process; the problem is with setting up this entirely separate and much more powerful enforcement process that is available only to investors.

The next argument we heard from the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan was about the rule of law and how, in our current society, individuals and businesses can already take the government to court. Exactly, so why is it that we need to set up this entirely separate process for investment disputes under this agreement? There are functioning court systems in both Canada and the European Union. I think members would agree that both jurisdictions have legitimate judiciaries. Therefore, how does the existence of rule of law justify creating some sort of entirely separate process?

The original justification for investor-state provisions in NAFTA was that American and Canadian investors were suspicious of the Mexican judicial system and did not have confidence in the Mexican courts. Perhaps that was fair enough, but I really do not see how we would have the same sort of doubts or lack of confidence in the European judicial system. We really have not heard an answer as to why we need this special set of investor-state provisions in CETA.

To illustrate what I am saying about frivolous cases coming forward when we empower investors to directly bring these complaints without even having to clear them through their own governments, it is worth reviewing some of the obnoxious chapter 11 cases that have come forward under NAFTA.

We have the Ethyl Corporation case, where an American company was selling a gasoline additive that had actually already been banned in the United States. The Canadian government tried to ban it as well and Ethyl successfully challenged the Canadian government under NAFTA for lost profits, got $13 million U.S., and had the Canadian government repeal that ban.

There was the AbitibiBowater case where that company shut down its last pulp and paper mill in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The provincial government reclaimed water rights that it had given to AbitibiBowater to operate the mills, but then the company challenged Canada under NAFTA for the loss of its water rights, which it was no longer even using for the purpose they were intended. Well, the previous Conservative government paid AbitibiBowater $130 million to withdraw that NAFTA chapter 11 claim.

We have the current case of Lone Pine Resources. Like AbitibiBowater, it is basically a Canadian company that has registered itself in the United States. It has launched a challenge under NAFTA over a ban on fracking in the province of Quebec depriving it of potential business opportunities. It is claiming some $250 million from our country.

Members can see that these investor-state provisions make it very easy for investors to come forward with almost frivolous cases just to see if they can get a favourable decision, just to sort of intimidate governments into paying them off. We do not want to replicate and amplify this under CETA.

Finally, I would point out that these investor-state provisions are actually having a pernicious effect on domestic politics in our own country. We are starting to see this in the Conservative leadership race where two of the contenders, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle and the member for Beauce, are proposing to entrench private property rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Let us consider the arguments that the member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston made in endorsing this radical libertarian idea. He said:

The lack of constitutional protection for the private property rights of Canadians means that the rights of Canadians can be treated as second-class under NAFTA. Canadians deserve the same property rights that foreign companies enjoy in Canada....

We see that the presence of these investor-state provisions in free trade agreements is causing this proposal to entrench property rights in the Constitution. Let us consider some of the consequences of that. We have heard from the Conservatives a lot of rhetoric in favour of pipelines, but the reality is that the construction of pipelines, railroads, or highways depends almost all the time on the government expropriating some of the land along the route. If every single landowner along the route had a constitutionally enshrined veto, no pipelines, railroads, or highways would ever get built. Therefore, I would encourage the Conservatives to think through the implications of enshrining property rights in the Constitution before they get too excited about the idea, and before their leadership candidates trip over each other too much in trying to be the most libertarian.

We have seen that the investor-state provisions of free trade agreements, including CETA, are not necessary, given that the agreements have a much more sensible government-to-government dispute resolution process already, and given that Canada and Europe already have functioning court systems. There have been many cautionary examples under NAFTA of frivolous cases coming forward with the Canadian government having to pay outrageous amounts of money based on very strange claims. Finally, we see that these investor-state provisions are having a corrupting influence on the political philosophy of our official opposition and are leading the Conservatives down this path of extreme libertarian ideas.

For all of those reasons, I am pleased to speak and vote against this bill.

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

4:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, a couple of years back when we were debating the Jordan, Panama, and other trade agreements, I never heard that particular argument coming from the New Democrats. I suspect it does not really matter what is in this agreement and it is the NDP's full intention to vote against CETA. There is no appeasing the NDP on this agreement.

New Democrats just do not seem to understand the importance of trade to Canada. Canada is a trading nation. We are very dependent on being able to get our products and services to market. That is what creates the tens of thousands of jobs for Canada's middle class. There is so much potential there that could be realized. Yes, New Democrats voted for the Ukraine trade agreement, and we appreciate that, but I would suggest that was more political, possibly based on our heritage communities here in Canada.

Given the member's comments in regard to the free trade agreement with the United States, am I to be left with the impression that the NDP would vote against NAFTA if it was before us today? If we were to vote on NAFTA today, how would the NDP vote? If we based it on the member's speech, it would be no. Is that what people are left to believe?

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

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Erin Weir NDP Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Winnipeg North may be aware, the current American President is proposing a renegotiation of NAFTA, and the NDP has been very clear about the fact that in that renegotiation, our priority should be to remove chapter 11, the investor-state provisions of NAFTA. We also think it would make a lot of sense to remove the proportionality clause from NAFTA, given that it puts real limits on Canada's ability to decide where it would like to export our energy resources.

We believe there are some positive aspects of NAFTA. We also believe there are some aspects that could be improved.

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

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my friend bringing attention to the great work the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle is doing. I know he is excited about the implications in his own riding of having a leader just down the road.

I would like to respond to his points about property rights. I do not think Canadians I talked to would consider it a radical idea that we have constitutional protection for property rights. Of course, he knows it is subject to section 1 of the charter. I think most Canadians would be surprised to know that we do not already have constitutional protection for property rights.

He talked about investors as being financiers and property owners. Of course, he should include in that investor category union pension funds as well, that are protected by these provisions.

He asked in his speech about this whole possibility of frivolous litigation, but the reality is, that could exist in any context. It is important that we have an adjudication process. He recognizes the need for an adjudication process, yet he somehow thinks that a state-to-state process, which does not give individual investors any standing, or a process that would involve adjudication solely on the basis of domestic law as opposed to on the basis of the trade agreement, are sufficient. He should be able to see that none of these things is actually sufficient for what these provisions are supposed to do, which is to allow investors the opportunity to directly, themselves, raise issues in which governments violate trade agreements. That seems to me to be a basic fairness mechanism. Whether it is financiers, business owners, or union pension funds, surely they should have the right to seek some kind of domestic remedy, regardless of what their own domestic government thinks, if rights that are supposed to be afforded to them are not protected.

However, if he does not believe in property rights, maybe that actually explains the logic behind it. I would be curious for his response.

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

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Erin Weir NDP Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, certainly I do not believe in the constitutional entrenchment of property rights. As I pointed out in my speech, the construction of infrastructure, whether it be pipelines, railroads, or highways, typically requires the expropriation of some land. Giving a veto power to every private landowner along the route would result in no such infrastructure being built.

The argument suggested by the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan is that these property rights would be subject to section 1 of the charter. A judge could decide that an expropriation was a fair and reasonable limit on those property rights, but the Conservatives really want to hang their position of entrenching property rights in the charter on their faith in activist judges.

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

4:35 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to talk about 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.

The NDP and I are in a very bad spot right now. The Liberals have put us in a very awkward position because we are completely in favour of a free trade agreement with Europe. The Liberals need to understand that. Unfortunately, the agreement was negotiated by Stephen Harper's Conservatives in total secrecy with no proper consultation whatsoever. We did not even have the document so that we could do the work properly. The agreement sacrifices several sectors of our economy. What that means for Drummond is that dairy and cheese producers are paying the price.

That is why we cannot support this agreement as it stands. Had it been done properly and wisely, had they negotiated by the book, we could have ended up with a deal that would have garnered the support of all parties in the House. Unfortunately, because of the way it was done, we cannot support it, so we have to vote against this bill.

The bill includes all the changes needed to implement the agreement right away, including the investor-court system provisions that are going to change, as the European states have already clearly indicated. Even if we accept the agreement, European countries will probably oppose that particular part.

The NDP has been calling for improved trade with Europe for some time now in order to diversify our markets. Many serious concerns and unanswered questions remain regarding the proposed agreement, as I mentioned.

Trade with Europe is too important for us to wind up with a botched deal, one that was negotiated by the Conservatives, based on Conservative concerns, and signed hastily by the Liberals without taking any time to properly review the deal and consult Canadians in all sectors of the economy. Some sectors have been completely ignored. I am thinking of the dairy and cheese producers in my riding of Drummond, for instance. I will expand on this a little later on.

With respect to dairy and cheese producers, it is important to point out that the Liberals are not offering adequate compensation. In fact, this agreement is going to result in a huge loss for our dairy producers. As the member representing the people of Drummond, a riding that is home to many dairy and cheese producers, I cannot support the agreement, which is not enough for our dairy producers.

The Liberals' plan to compensate dairy producers is not really a compensation plan. It is a program that is being added and that is totally inadequate. It consists of $250 million over five years for dairy producers and $100 million for cheese producers. However, we do not really know how this program will work. What will be the exact terms and conditions? Will the people of Drummond and Quebec be eligible? Will small cheese producers be eligible? It is not really clear.

I met with some dairy and cheese producers this summer. The members for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and Berthier—Maskinongé accompanied me on a tour of the communities in my riding. We met with dairy producers. They were very angry with the Liberal government, not just because of the Canada-Europe agreement on the horizon, but also because of its failure to take action in the dairy sector, specifically with regard to the massive entry of diafiltered milk, which is completely illegal.

Today, while the Prime Minister is meeting with the President of the United States, we are still faced with a problem that began over a year ago: the issue of diafiltered milk. The Liberal government said that it would resolve this problem during its first three months in office. However, those three months ended a long time ago. Unfortunately, despite all the pressure dairy farmers and the NDP have been exerting to make them change their minds, the Liberals are still sitting back and doing nothing. Meanwhile, there is a fairly simple solution to this problem: apply the same definition to this product at the border as when it is used in dairy products. Milk is milk, but diafiltered milk products are not milk. They should never be used to produce cheese.

The government's inaction is costing dairy farmers a lot of money. The fact that the government is also signing a bad trade agreement with Europe without compensating producers is unacceptable.

It is important to remember that we are talking about 17,700 additional tonnes of cheese coming to Canada under the Canada-Europe free trade agreement. That is about the equivalent of all the cheese produced in Nova Scotia, for example. Cheese producers are being quickly and heavily penalized.

I will read a quote by Daniel Gosselin and Suzanne Dufresne, owners of the Fromagerie Au gré des champs:

People do not realize what it means to have 17,700 tonnes of European cheese arriving in Canada. It is simple: it is like having 1,000 cheesemakers our size suddenly open up in Quebec.

Small and medium-sized cheesemakers are quite worried, and rightly so, about the impending arrival of 17,700 tonnes of cheese in our market without any real compensation for them, without any real support.

I had the opportunity to visit a number of cheese factories in my region a few months ago. For those who have the good fortune of passing through the beautiful Saint-Guillaume area, the fresh cheese from the Fromagerie Saint-Guillaume is among the best. There is a cheese that the locals like to call “Le p'tit frais”, not just because they are proud of it, but because it is made fresh daily. You can even find Le p'tit frais de Saint-Guillaume here in Ottawa. It is utterly delightful.

We also have the Lemaire cheese factory. It too makes an excellent cheese curd often used in poutine. As everyone knows, the Drummond region is the birthplace of poutine. That is where it was invented. In fact, the greater Drummond region hosts the annual poutine festival.

Anyone who visits the region should try the Lemaire cheese factory's poutine.

Lastly, I want to mention Agropur's five-year-old Grand Cheddar, which is made in Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil and was first in its class at the Sélection Caseus competition. My region needs support for its dairy industry, and it needs protection for its cheese industry. This is extremely important.

We cannot allow our government to abandon our dairy and cheese producers or to ignore the diafiltered milk file. As if that were not enough, the government wants to saddle them with the negative outcomes of a free trade agreement with Europe without providing compensation or a plan to help our cheese producers, who have been asking for import quotas for a long time. There is no news on that front.

I could go on about other issues, such as the legal action the government is opening itself up to, but I will stop there because I see that my time is up.

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

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, whenever we have a trade agreement, there is going to be a need to look at different industries and how it might impact them. Let me give the House an example. The member across the way talked about the cheese industry. Manitoba has Bothwell Cheese. I argued the other day that it makes the best cheese in the world. I hope this company will continue to grow and prosper, even with this agreement. Am I concerned? Sure, I am concerned. We also have a fantastic pork industry in Manitoba. Our pork industry will benefit immensely from this agreement.

There are always going to be areas of concern, but the principle is what we are moving forward on, and that is the promotion of international trade, something on which Canada is dependent.

Would the member across the way not agree that no matter what the agreement, even the Ukraine agreement we unanimously passed just the other day, there are always going to be areas of concern related to manufacturing industries or service industries and so forth? Due diligence will ensure that we as MPs do what we can to protect our industries.

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

4:50 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would respond to my colleague by saying that this deal was signed by Stephen Harper's Conservatives for the benefit of Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

The Liberals picked up where the Conservatives left off and introduced it quickly on October 31. They were practically ready to vote in favour of it the very next day. We need to take some time to read it and study the details. We proposed 11 amendments at our committee meetings, and I would like to commend my colleague from Essex for her hard work there.

There is no rush, because we have five years to finalize the details of the Canada-Europe agreement. Let us take the time to do things right, for this is a very important agreement, especially for the NDP. We want a good deal with Europe. We want a deal that works, one that will be in place for the long term, one that is beneficial for Canadians, for the people of Drummond, and for our dairy and cheese producers.

We are still waiting for you to resolve the issue of diafiltered milk, and we are tired of waiting.

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

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am sure the hon. member was not asking me to resolve the issue, but rather the member for Winnipeg North.

The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

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

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, in my remarks earlier, I talked about being concerned about present businesses and present jobs but also about being interested in creating the conditions for future investment, and in that context, being concerned about jobs and businesses that do not yet exist but that could exist under the right conditions. Protectionist barriers do not create a climate in which people want to invest, because if they make investments in Canada, they will not have access to a wider array of markets.

Would the member not agree that one of the important features and advantages of the kind of trade access Canada has been pursuing is that we are encouraging not just the continuation of future business but new investments in this country? Exporters will know that they will have access to a great deal of the world's market by basing themselves in Canada, access they would not have in other countries. Is that not an important advantage of this trade deal?

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

4:50 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for directing my comments to you. I was wrong.

The Canada-Europe agreement is extremely important even for my region of Drummond. We need to develop new markets. We want an agreement with Europe, but a good agreement that will respect the environment and workers' health and rights. We are not so sure that will happen under the current agreement. There might be lawsuits.

In my riding, Drummond, people are very concerned about hydraulic fracturing and shale gas. Almost everyone in my riding has voiced their disapproval of hydraulic fracturing in their riding and in the entire St. Lawrence River sector. Accordingly, the Government of Quebec has put a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in this sector because of the agricultural land and the protected lands in the area.

A suit was filed as a result of bad agreements and that is why we want a better agreement.

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

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on the Canada-EU free trade agreement.

However, I would like to start off my discussion by recognizing that today is Alberta Oil and Gas Celebration Day. We are celebrating the 70th anniversary this year of the Leduc No. 1, which was one of the first oil wells discovered in Alberta, and the economic prosperity that has come from the oil and gas industry in Alberta since that time. I know there are big celebrations today. Members of my caucus are speaking at events happening there as well. I just thought I would bring that to the attention of the House today.

I would like to congratulate all those who have worked very hard on the CETA deal over the last 10 years. I know that it has been a lot of hard work. The member for York—Simcoe has worked hard on this. The member for Abbotsford has worked hard. I would like to congratulate the current government for pushing this over the finish line. This will have significant impacts on Canada in terms of prosperity for everyone.

We have talked a lot about the expanded market and things like that, but one of the things I would like to talk a bit about is the back and forth that happens with trade agreements.

My riding is a large rural riding in northern Alberta. We are mostly invested in the primary industries, such as logging, agriculture, oil and gas exploration, and a lot of spinoff comes from that. However, one of the things we import a lot of is the equipment that we need. I know that the agricultural industry in my riding is particularly looking forward to a lot of the state-of-the-art technology that the agriculture sector in Europe has and that we can speedily be importing into Canada.

I know there is a burgeoning hemp industry in Alberta. New strains are being developed that grow well in the colder climate we have in northern Alberta. There are big opportunities with this as well, in terms of the fibre that comes out of the hemp plant. Erosion prevention is one of the things that they use this for.

However, we are limited in the equipment used to plant, cultivate, and harvest this plant. They are looking forward to bringing equipment from the Netherlands in particular, which has worked very hard on this. I have been engaged with a number of farmers in my riding who are saying they are excited about this deal, as this will lower their equipment costs, which will only make that particular crop more profitable.

My home community was a pork-producing powerhouse in the early 1990s. Since then, we have watched the market essentially evaporate. There are many white elephant pork barns in my neighbourhood sitting empty that have not been used over the last number of years. This has the opportunity to revive that industry and bring it back.

Since the early 1990s, we have not been able to regain enough of the pork industry to produce our own pork. In fact, Canada imports pork now. It would be great if we could get a market so we could reinvigorate the pork industry and see our profits return on that particular commodity.

I know that a lot of farmers diversified. They were growing grain crops and had pork on the side. If the price was not there in the grain crops, they fed it to their pigs and made their money through the pigs. If the price was there for the crops, they would reduce the pork output. That was a great ability to diversify. We have lost that to some degree. They have diversified now more into the different types of crops that they grow rather than diversifying between two different areas within the agriculture sector.

The agriculture sector in particular is very much looking forward, not only to the new market they are going to get but to the new equipment they will be able to bring over and begin to use, and some of the techniques. The interplay between Europe and Canada will be helpful in bringing some of the techniques across the ocean.

These are just the benefits for Canada. However, one other thing we should talk about is how this would benefit the EU. I am a big advocate of prosperity. All people should be able to improve their station in life, and free trade is the best way to make life better for everyone.

The greatest discovery of the 20th century is probably the development of hydrocarbons as a form of energy. I know that the combination of petroleum products and farming techniques regarding fertilizer, but specifically the tractor, revolutionized the way that people farmed. It brought commercial-scale farming to what currently exists, and that has allowed us to feed the world a couple of times over now.

We need to ensure that the products we produce make it to those who need them. That is the biggest issue with free trade, that the products being produced can make it to the people who need them. In other places in the world, heating in the winter is a big priority. The natural gas produced in Canada has the potential for a large market in eastern Europe. It is not only the natural gas, but the technologies that have been developed in Canada over the last 100 years that have improved agriculture, hydrocarbon production, the way forests are managed, and things like that. That technology can be harnessed by eastern European countries to shift their dependence on natural gas from Russia.

Russia currently holds 31% of the EU's oil and gas imports. People I have spoken with have said that whenever Russia feels slighted by eastern European countries, it turns the natural gas off and people start to freeze. I feel that with this agreement, we will be able to export technology and products that will make people's lives better, shift their dependency from Russia, and make it so that we provide freedom and prosperity around the world. That is number one. Free markets bring freedom is the point that I am trying to make.

The natural gas and oil and gas industries have been a great source of prosperity for northern Alberta, and come mostly from the fact that there are a large number of people employed in it. As I understand it, there is a lot of opportunity in Europe to bring technologies from northern Alberta to the eastern bloc countries, specifically the process known as hydraulic fracturing. There is a lot of shale gas in Europe.

In the Netherlands, where my grandparents are from, there is a lot hydraulic fracturing and drilling there. Holland has managed to become a significant contributor to the EU's natural gas game. If that technology goes to other places in Europe, there is a big opportunity for companies that operate here in Canada to export not only their products but their technologies, manpower, and that kind of thing.

I want to shift to some things that have been brought up here today. In particular, I would like to talk about the investor-state legal issue that members of the NDP brought up. This, to me, seems fairly straightforward, in that investors want stability. They want to know that if they are going to invest in a country, whatever it may be, the laws of the land are not going to change tomorrow and their investment dry up. For example, there is a gentleman in my riding who came from the U.K. in the early 1970s and built a nail factory in southern Alberta. He worked really hard to develop this nail factory.

He saw all the wooden houses that we have in northern Alberta and figured there must be a large market for that, but then was forced to compete with companies from eastern Canada. They were given subsidies on the transportation of their nails, which he was not given. Therefore, he said to just make it a level playing field to allow him to compete and he would be able to sell his product in Alberta as well. He ran that nail factory for a number of years, and then he retired from that and he has gone on since to become an advocate for free markets and free enterprise. I meet with him from time to time in my riding office.

He was initially concerned about this investor-state legal framework that he had heard about in CETA. I said this would be the same as if he built a nail factory in a new country and the day he opened his nail factory, after investing $1 million in building it, that country's government outlawed making nails. I know this is a little facetious. I said that he would then be able to go to that government and say that since it had just outlawed making nails and he had just spent millions of dollars building his nail factory, could the government please reimburse him for the expense of building the nail factory.

That is essentially what this piece of the deal means. If people make an investment in a country based on the current laws of the land, but the law changes and their complete business model fails because of the law change, they can therefore sue the government.

My colleague from the NDP has mentioned this a number of times, but he seems to only think of it in terms of an investment that is coming here to Canada, which I would say is a positive thing. If people are willing to invest in Canada, it is because they see Canada as a place where they can come and make money, a place where they see that the money they invest is not going to disappear. They see the security and stability of our country and they say, “This is a good place to invest.” For us here in Canada, if we go and invest in other countries to make money there and bring the money that we make back home, it would give us stability as well. We can say that we intended to build a nail factory in Ukraine and if the Ukrainians change the law to outlaw the building of nails, at least we could get our investment back and invest in a different country or bring that investment back home. Therefore, that is a very important part of this.

It is just an interesting place to be with my NDP colleague talking about free trade in particular. It seems that the New Democrats are always advocating for open borders when it comes to people, and yet never advocating for open borders when it comes to things. I know that there is always a bit of minutiae around these things. Everyone wants free trade, but not total free trade; and everyone wants open borders, but not total open borders. I expect them to respond to this and maybe clarify some of those things.

Regarding cereal crops in northern Alberta, I had the canola growers in my office a while back and I was bragging to them that I thought my riding was the largest canola-producing riding in all of Canada. They would not confirm that to me, but they did say that the largest canola-producing riding in all of Canada was in northern Alberta. That is one of three ridings, mine being one of them so I will take it. I think that I am, but they would not confirm it for me. The “can” part of the word canola is because it is a Canadian invention. It is something that we now export around the world. The new CETA would give us a new market for canola and we would be very excited to see where all that goes.

When it comes to exporting our products to other parts of the world, it is incredible to see some of the basic products that we export around the world and then to see what is done with them. One of the big advantages of new markets is that we get fresh eyes on a product with new ideas that come with it. A lot of times, we see a product that has been used in one particular way for a very long time and it enters a new market and gets used in completely new methods that we have never seen before.

I am really excited to see the interplay between the European Union and Canada and what kinds of new things come from that. One of the big areas where we will see job growth and innovation is with some of the new things that will come out of this new free trade agreement.

Another area our NDP colleagues have repeatedly addressed is that they believe that medication costs will go up significantly if we enter into CETA. However, we have people on record in this country saying that the opposite is true.

Phil Upshall, the executive director of the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, applauds CETA, saying, “CETA will ensure continued innovation in medicines and improve the health of all Canadians, including those with mental illness”.

Again, that is an example of the new ideas I am quite excited about that would come with our relationship with the EU. When we have ease of transporting people and things across borders, we also get an intermixing of ideas, which allows us to look at things in new ways, get new perspectives on things, and come up with new solutions, or the solution, for some of the greatest problems in the world.

One of the greatest things that could from the CETA deal would be for us to cure cancer. That would be amazing. Some countries in the EU are cutting-edge when it comes to medical research. Right in our own province of Alberta, the University of Alberta is world renowned when it comes to health research. The interplay that could happen between the EU and Canada is something I am really looking forward to.

In my last few minutes, I would like to talk a little bit about the vision going forward.

I know that trade deals take a long time. From speaking with the member for York—Simcoe, I know that when he was the trade minister, he had already initiated some of the talks that started CETA, the TPP, and things like that. Now there has been significant movement on CETA. We are still looking forward to signing and ratifying the TPP, but we are wondering what the next moves will be. Are we continuing to move forward with plans to set up free trade agreements with other countries around the world?

Japan is part of the TPP, but it would be interesting to see if we have to strike out on a separate deal with them as well. Israel, with the innovation and technology that comes out of that country, would be a great country to have an agreement with. Are we moving on that? India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It would stand to benefit greatly from some of the technologies we have here. I wonder if that is the direction we are going.

I know that it is a lot of hard work and something that is not for the faint of heart, but I wish to persuade the government to show us that it is advocating for these things and working hard on them to ensure that we get the next generation of free trade deals in the hopper, so to speak, because we know how much work and time they take to make happen.

It has been my pleasure to stand and speak today about the CETA free trade deal. I want to affirm once more that I think free trade has the opportunity to solve a lot of the problems in the world. With free trade comes freedom. Hopefully, through free trade deals, we can solve some of the greatest problems that we as humanity face. I see this as the big opportunity before us.

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

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am going to pick up on the member's point in regards to what other kinds of deals might potentially be out and about. The Prime Minister has talked about Canada's diversity being possibly our greatest strength. The member made reference to India. Whether it is a reflection from within this chamber or a reflection of all Canadians, there is a strong link between our two countries in good part because of how we are enriched by the Indo-Canadian community.

I could say the same thing with regards to the Philippines. The Philippines is a beautiful country and it is Canada's number one source of immigrants. I had the opportunity to visit the Philippines in January where I talked about trade.

There are a lot of ideas out there. Canada is a diverse country and the opportunities are there but it takes time to develop those ideas and move them forward. Many agreements, the Korean agreement being one, were started under previous administrations. CETA was started under the previous administration. It takes time to get these things together.

I wonder if the member could talk about the benefits of Canada's diversity and how it enables us more than many other countries to get the types of agreements that will lead to trade, which all Canadians benefit from.

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

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, probably more than anything I would just confirm that is exactly the case. I come from Dutch heritage. I do not know whether Canada had a free trade agreement with the Netherlands or not but we did a lot of trade back home. I am a second-generation Canadian but I still have a lot of connections with the Netherlands. Trade with Canada was easy because the culture was the same. Both countries liked the same kinds of foods. We in the Netherlands wanted to have some of the classic foods back, one of them being the salty candies that we like. We call them droppies. Most Canadians think they taste awful but for some reason Dutch people really like them. Just importing Dutch candy into Canada was a small industry all on its own.

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

5:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I recognize my colleague's efforts to draw an analogy for why investor-state agreements are useful. He only criticized the NDP for its opposition. I guarantee the hon. member that I oppose investor-state agreements more. I have never voted for them at all and unfortunately my colleagues in the NDP caucus have done so. My colleague can take that with a grain of salt.

My concern is this. My colleague's nail factory analogy would be clear if it were this example. Let us say a nail factory is opened in a foreign country and the government of that country changes its minimum wage standards. It has nothing to do with the factory. It is not discriminatory. In a democratic society, if a government changes the wage standards or it changes the requirements for a company to pick up its own waste, then that is enough under the dispute history of investor-state agreements for a foreign corporation to have the right to bring an arbitration suit against the government. A domestic corporation would not have that right. That right is exclusive to foreign corporations. The litany of cases that are like this are not in any way categorized by discriminating against a foreign investor or being reckless or discriminatory. They are normal decisions of public policy that foreign corporations will have a right to seek arbitration relief in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

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

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, that sounds like a problem of having too many lawyers hanging around looking for something to do. I will state for the record that I am not a lawyer. I am an automotive mechanic.

My analogy is probably more complicated than I initially anticipated. To my colleague's analogy of changing the minimum wage rate, I would like the free market to set the wage rates. If government did not interfere with the wage rate, we would see free trade and we would see wages being reflected differently in different countries. I would like the wages of everybody to go up. If there was an opportunity to make more money in an area where the labour rate was cheaper, more companies would move there, investment in that country would typically go up, and the wage rate would go up. The wage advantage would disappear in that particular country. There is some give and take on that.

The member and I probably agree that when we have free trade agreements with other countries we would like the labour standards and the environmental standards to be the same as ours so that we would be on a level playing field. I am sure my colleague would agree with me on that.

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5:20 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, during part of the member's speech, he was raising some of the concerns that we in the NDP have about the cost of pharmaceutical drugs. I should explain to him why we have that position. The increased patent protections granted to brand name pharmaceuticals are going to go way beyond Canada's existing obligations. We have evidence of this from the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association. It conducted a study and showed that, if adopted, the proposals would delay the introduction of new generic medicines in Canada by an average of three and a half years. The cost of this delay to pharmaceutical payers was estimated at $2.8 billion annually, based on generic prices in 2010.

Therefore, my question for the member is this. If he disagrees with that particular statement, and may I remind him, this is coming from the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, which knows its stuff, can he offer evidence to the contrary?

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5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not necessarily disagree or agree with that statement. If they are making it, that is fine. My basic assumption with free trade agreements is that we would probably increase the options available. If it takes longer to get the generic drug, that is probably the case. However, if we have an integration between the two areas of trade, Canada and the EU, we may increase the options for different kinds of drugs that are not necessarily available in Canada right now but may be available after the free trade agreement comes into force. We may not even have to use the particular drug that he was talking about before, as now we have a different one.

The other thing that comes into play, and I have mentioned this on and on, is the interplay between people, ideas, and things that would happen between our markets as we go to more and more free trade. We may actually find solutions to the problems that these drugs are trying to solve. We may make a particular drug obsolete and go on to a new one because of the interplay between the people, things, and ideas.

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

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member made a very good point about the kinds of problems we can solve if we work together across international lines. Free trade creates opportunities for interstate commerce, which can move human society forward in ways that are outside of just creating jobs. It could actually solve real problems that play off strengths of technologies that may exist in different places. I wonder if my friend could comment and elaborate on the opportunities that could come from co-operation between Canada and Europe.

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

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will go straight to the example that I was giving during my speech, and that was the production of the hemp plant and the fibre that comes with it. I know that this market has been significantly developed in the EU, and they have a real demand for the basic product, the hemp plant itself.

I cannot speak for the rest of the country, but we have an opportunity, specifically in northern Alberta, with available land. We have farmers who are looking for a new product in order to increase their profitability. Here is a huge opportunity for an interplay. We can get the equipment and the plants grown here, and have the raw product shipped over there, where they need more of it for their current production facilities