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 Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to rise in the House and talk about the Canada-European Union trade agreement, which is one that I have spoken on a number of times. We have the opportunity to stand in the House to speak about Canada's opportunities on the world stage and the promotion of Canada on the world stage. It always brings me back to the opportunities and experiences I had in the promotion of Canada for over 20 years working in aviation and trade. Indeed, it brings back some great memories.

I am going to focus my speech on a couple of different areas. Obviously, we have heard a lot of speeches over this debate and, indeed, on the earlier versions of this agreement. I am going to talk about why Canada has this agreement, and then get into the agreement as it sits today. I also want to talk a little bit beyond the trade agreements, what we need to do, and what the government needs to do to make sure that we capitalize on the opportunities that trade agreements bring.

The question we always have with respect to a trade agreement as we move forward is making sure that it is the right deal for Canadians, and making sure that Canadian jobs are always promoted first and foremost, and are top of mind. I know that for the previous government under Stephen Harper, first and foremost of critical importance was creating an environment that precipitated investment and trade, and also furthered trade. This was what Prime Minister Harper and his strong team of ministers focused on.

Again, we should always be mindful that we give kudos to the hon. colleague, the member for Abbotsford, who moved this agreement to where it is today. As well, we had the former minister of trade, the member for York—Simcoe, as well who did considerable work in moving agreements such as this.

If I remember correctly, our former Conservative government put over 40-plus agreements in place. The reason we got over 40 agreements done and in place is that we had a focused government that understood that Canada first and foremost is indeed a trading nation. We understood that our economy is predicated on the commodities that we produce. One in five Canadian jobs is directly or indirectly linked to trade. Trade allows us to secure and be the drivers of our prosperity. Every billion dollars in exports generates as many as 11,000 new jobs.

The Canada-EU agreement will be one of the largest agreements that we have had since NAFTA. The history of our Canada-EU relations goes back to 1497 when John Cabot landed. He was looking for spices, but instead found fish, cod at the time, and lots of it. Subsequently, a lot of boats from Europe came to get our cod, because Canadians had some of the best north Atlantic cod. It was dried, salted, and shipped over to Europe. This expanded into the fur trade with our first nations and further with the Hudson's Bay Company. We have a long history of trade with Europe.

As I said, earlier, the Canada-Europe trade agreement is a landmark agreement. It has been mentioned in the House that it really is a gold-plated agreement. It sets the standard for agreements.

This agreement connects producers to over 500 million consumers. It connects our producers to the world's largest economy. Indeed, the EU represents 500 million people and an annual economic activity of almost $20 trillion.

The day that this agreement comes into place, it is said that Canada could experience a 20% boost in bilateral trade, and I believe it has been mentioned time and again that we could experience a $12-billion annual increase in our Canadian economy. That is not chump change. That is a lot of money. That is a lot of jobs. That represents over 80,000 new Canadian jobs.

On the day that it comes into force, nearly 100% of all EU tariff lines on non-agricultural products would be duty-free, along with close to 94% of all EU tariff lines on agricultural products.

The Canada-EU agreement would also give Canadian service providers, which employ more than 13.8 million Canadians and account for 70% of Canada's total GDP, the best market access the EU has ever granted to any of its free trade agreement partners.

This agreement would also give Canadian suppliers of goods and services secure preferential access to the world's largest procurement market. The EU's $3.3-trillion government procurement market would provide our industry and our service providers with the most significant new export opportunities that they have seen in decades.

We have talked a lot about what CETA would bring and we have talked a lot about when it comes into force. I always like to bring it back to what it means for my province of British Columbia. I am the first to stand to say how proud I am to be from British Columbia and to be one of the MPs from there. The EU is already B.C.'s fifth largest export destination and it is our fourth largest trading partner. British Columbia stands to benefit significantly from the preferential access to the EU market. Once in force, CETA would eliminate tariffs on almost all of B.C.'s exports and provide access to new market opportunities in the EU. The provision of CETA would help erase regulatory barriers, reinforce intellectual property rights, and ensure more transparent rules for market access. B.C. would be positioned to have a competitive advantage over exporters from other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the EU.

I have said this before, and I will say it again. We have one of the most business-ready and most competitive business environments and supportive climates in B.C. Our province consistently receives AAA credit ratings. We have vast resources, low tax rates, a stable and well-regulated financial system, and a fiscally responsible government that attracts investment from around the world.

Canada used to have that, as well.

In the previous government, we had a government that understood that to be competitive on the world stage, we had to create a business environment, an investment environment, with low taxes, quality jobs, quality tradespeople. Our government understood that.

B.C. is at the commercial crossroads of Asia-Pacific and North America. We are also equidistant, in terms of flights, between Asia and the European markets. Our fish and seafood exporters would benefit from CETA. I have said this before.

The seafood industry has gone through many transitions and, indeed, faces an uncertain future. We are just finishing up our study of the Fisheries Act review. We studied the northern cod. We are seeing that fishery has yet to rebound. We have studied our Atlantic salmon fisheries, as well. We know that our fishing communities on the east coast are hurting, but there are incredible opportunities for them. When CETA comes into force, almost 96% of EU tariff lines for fish and seafood products would be duty-free and on 7%, 100% of the products would be duty-free.

It is hugely important because the EU is the world's largest importer of fish and seafood products. EU tariffs for fish and seafood average 11% and can be as high as 25%. It comes down to a competitive advantage, and Canada has it. Once the deal comes into force, Canada can be even more competitive on the world stage.

I talked a lot about what CETA would do and what it would bring, but I want to focus on getting agreements in place, what that means, and how we go about doing that.

We have strong familial ties with Europe. There is a large European diaspora in Canada making sure we can connect with those Canadians. Getting trade access is about more than just formal agreements. It is not enough to just sign the agreement. We have to make sure we have resources and that we are doing everything in our power to build the capacity to take advantage of these opportunities. Whether it is a strategy that looks at our ports or an airports strategy, the previous Conservative government understood that. We invested in our trade commissioners. We invested in making sure that our air policy was there to support our trade and agreements.

I want to talk a bit about that. As we said, getting the agreements across the finish line is just one thing, but we need to make sure that we get a strategy that leverages all of our advantages, including our geographic advantages at home and abroad. Whether it is our trade commissioners, whether it is making available marketing dollars or export investment dollars, it is always so critically important that there is a holistic program that backs up any trade agreement. Access to markets and trade promotion are futile if we cannot move the goods we produce faster and more efficiently than our competitors.

Our former Conservative government invested $14.5 billion in our gateway program, into our ports, our airports, and our transportation networks. We have a world-class multimodal system that competes with none other. We are well positioned to take advantage of our geographic position. In 2006, under former Prime Minister Harper, we launched the Asia–Pacific gateway program, and in 2007 we started a national policy framework for strategic gateways and corridors. On that, I would like to get into a bit about our gateway system. It is incumbent upon us that we talk about this. Again, signing the agreements is just one part of it. We have to be able to make sure that we can move our goods and move the people faster and more efficiently than others before.

I have spoken about the port of Prince Rupert time and again, the closest marine port to Asia compared to any other western seaport. It allows us the competitive advantage that our goods can arrive one to two days faster than from any other west coast port. As I said before, it means that products from and to North America arrive at their destination quicker, with less fuel and less risk. We also have the fastest and greenest road and rail networks into the U.S. Midwest, running right straight through Canada and into the heartland of the U.S. I mentioned the Prince George Airport, my home airport, that has the third longest runway in Canada. It was an investment that our previous government made so that we can compete on the world stage. That is just in my riding.

Port Metro Vancouver is North America's most diversified port. It trades $75 billion worth of goods with more than 160 trading economies annually. The port-related activity alone has an economic impact of $9.7 billion a year and continues to grow. These are all great investments that our previous government put in, and again it is about making sure that once they get that agreement in place they can capture those opportunities.

I want to talk again about the gateways. We have three major gateways in Canada. There is the Asia–Pacific gateway. We have the Ontario–Quebec continental gateway that our previous government invested huge amounts of money in. Thanks to CentrePort in Winnipeg and other trade corridors and supply chain logistics investments in marketing, we were able to capture that movement into the U.S. heartlands.

The Atlantic Canada gateway program in 2007 capitalized on many centuries of background in terms of using Atlantic Canada as a springboard into the U.S. for trading.

Our Conservative government understood that investments went beyond just signing an agreement. We looked at investing in our trade corridors. Whether it was the third largest container port of Halifax or North America's most efficient class 1 rail carrier, double-stacked container service on both the east and west coasts, our government understood that it took more than just signing agreements to allow our consumers and producers to capitalize on them.

Trade is such a complex file. We have to look at many things. We talked about the umbrella, about ensuring we had a bit of strategy, a holistic approach to this. I go back to the agreement done in 2007. Our Conservative government recognized the direction we where moving in with our trade agreements and we recognized where we wanted to go. In December 2009, we signed a comprehensive air transport agreement, which allowed Canadian carriers access into 27 other markets. We reciprocated on that agreement, allowing those member states access to our Canadian market.

Atlantic Canada is situated right on the flight path. One of the very first airports in North America was Gander airport. It gets an incredible amount of traffic from Europe in the trans-Atlantic cargo network, and it is through the investments that our government made. We looked at our air policy to ensure our air cargo policy was where we wanted to go, that our aspirations matched what we were doing with our regulatory and policy framework.

Our government invested in information and technology to ensure Canada was in tune with some of its largest trading partners, whether it was the U.S. to the south of us and our largest trading partner, or the EU. We wanted to be in line with the information and technology of those countries. We wanted to ensure we had a secure supply chain as we moved forward.

I talk a lot about trade gateways and the promotion of Canada, because I was on the front line of promoting Canada. We always ask, why Canada? I had the opportunity to be in Europe this past fall. I boarded a bus with my Canadian pin. A handful of people wanted that pin. People want to trade with Canada. They want to be associated with Canada. Why? Because we have the rule of law and one of the most safe and secure countries in the world. We have a political system that rivals any.

Up until the last 18 months, for the most part, we had a secure business environment. Canada did not have a large debt, which usually creates political unrest, certainly with investors. We had principled and pragmatic leadership that saw where Canada wanted to go, but we looked at our policies, whether it was our air policy, our regulations, or our framework. We ensured our small and medium-sized enterprises could take that opportunity to invest, expand and see the benefits of trade agreements, whether it was our go global fund that helped with funding and marketing products.

Signing an agreement is just one part of the process. We celebrate and congratulate the government across the way for getting CETA to the finish line, but there are a whole host of things that need to accompany that agreement. Our Conservative government set them up very well. We hope the Liberal government recognizes that, sees this through and continues with some of the programs our government funded. We funded a number of different initiatives because, under Prime Minister Harper, we understood that Canada was a trading nation first and foremost and that Canadian jobs and Canadian prosperity depended on trade.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, trade is going to allow us to export products, which is very important. It is good for the manufacturing sector. In my riding, a lot of research and development is taking place. I have three post-secondary institutions, and I am very proud of the research they are coming up with that ultimately leads to the creation of products and makes Canada sought after by the world in having these products brought to their markets.

The member commented on how the agreement would impact jobs. I would like to hear a little more about that in terms of areas like research and development and how the agreement would lead to job creation for Canadians, which is one thing on which our government has been very focused.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the benefit of trade agreements is our Canadian products and Canadian producers. We have some of the best and brightest, innovative, and technological companies in the world right in Canada. Being able to access new markets, the world's largest economy, is only going to create more jobs.

I will bring it back to the comment I made before about the third grader in my riding who asked what trade agreements did. If that third grader can only manufacture widgets and sell them within his small community of a couple hundred, it is not going to create jobs, and slowly but surely his product is not going to have any more market. If we can open it up to the communities and countries around us, all of a sudden that product can get to all of the largest economies in our world, whether the U.S., the EU, or, I hope, an Asia-Pacific pact, or the TPP. Trade is good. Trade creates jobs and ensures that our best and brightest are showcased on the world stage, and that is so important.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Erin Weir Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, the labour mobility provisions of CETA would allow European companies to bring their own workers into Canada, without having to go through our immigration system. The deal would also allow vessels flagged in ports of convenience, like Malta and Cypress, to operate in Canadian waters, despite atrocious labour standards on board.

I wonder if the member for Cariboo—Prince George shares our concerns about CETA's effective expansion of the temporary foreign worker program.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting, coming from the NDP. It is another poke in the hole of something, or a witch hunt on trade. The New Democrats say that they are standing up for Canadians, but they will find every excuse to go against a trade agreement. The bottom line is that in uncertain times, as we are seeing with our largest trading partner south of the border, we need to ensure we are not putting all of our eggs in one basket. That is exactly what CETA will bring.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent 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 Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty 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 Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Winnipeg North
Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Parliamentary 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 Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty 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 Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker 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 Act
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February 13th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.

NDP

Erin Weir 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 Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North
Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Parliamentary 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 Act
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4:35 p.m.

NDP

Erin Weir 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 Act
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4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis 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 Act
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4:35 p.m.

NDP

Erin Weir 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.