Madam Speaker, the House has heard a great deal of debate on CETA. Throughout these discussions, the NDP has pointed out some critical problems with the agreement. It is likely to worsen Canada's trade deficit. It is likely to harm key sectors of our economy. It is likely to make it easier for temporary foreign workers to come into our country. It is going to extend pharmaceutical patents, driving up the cost of prescription drugs for our provincial health care systems as well as for individual Canadians. It will expose our democratic laws, regulations, and public policies to more challenges under the investor-state provisions.
I do not want to repeat all of those points. What I would like to do in today's speech is look at CETA from a different perspective. I want to look at it from the perspective of its implications for future Canadian negotiations. In particular, I want to look at our likely negotiations with a post-Brexit United Kingdom. I want to look at our potential renegotiation of NAFTA with the United States. Finally, I want to look at the negotiations we have, within our country, with corporate Canada.
In terms of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, a big question is what that means for CETA. It is a question the NDP has been asking throughout this debate, because of course, the United Kingdom is the one major economy in the EU with which Canada currently enjoys a trade surplus.
I was interested to note on Friday that a Conservative colleague, the member for Sarnia—Lambton, actually asked that question during question period and did not get much of a response from the government. What the parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade said was:
If CETA is passed by the EU, we will have a deal with the U.K. until things unfold in that country. Canada, of course, has an interest in maintaining access to the significant U.K. marketplace, and we believe very strongly that CETA provides an excellent baseline for future negotiations.
Here we have the government actually acknowledging that CETA is not a done deal, that it is unclear whether or how it might apply to the United Kingdom, and that in all likelihood, Canada would have to enter into new negotiations with the U.K. after the Brexit process plays out. Why, then, would we want to establish that baseline now? Will this be a baseline from which we make further concessions in negotiations with the United Kingdom?
It seems to me that after Brexit, the United Kingdom will actually be under pressure to formulate new trade agreements. It will no longer be part of free trade deals through the EU, and the British will be the ones who really need to make concessions to get trade deals. Why would Canada set the baseline now? Would it not be more prudent to see what happens with Brexit and then negotiate with Britain from a position of strength? Agreeing to CETA before Brexit has played out actually puts Canada in a much weaker position for prospective negotiations with the United Kingdom.
The second thing I want to consider is negotiations with the United States about the North American Free Trade Agreement. It is really important to recognize that under NAFTA currently, there is a concept of most favoured nation treatment, so when we make concessions to Europe through CETA, we are automatically making those same concessions to the United States. Indeed, in Bill C-30, we find that it does exactly that. It provides concessions not just to the EU but to all trade agreement investors. For example, when CETA extends patent protections, it does not just do it for European pharmaceutical companies; it does it for American pharmaceutical companies as well. Of course, we do not get anything in exchange from the United States for that concession. It just happens automatically.
Another thing Bill C-30 does is raise the threshold for foreign investment reviews of proposed foreign takeovers to $1.5 billion. It does this not just for proposed takeovers by European investors but also for proposed takeovers by American investors. This is a concession we are making to the United States without getting anything back in return on softwood lumber, on steel, on buy American, or on any of the other trade issues we might have with our neighbours to the south. It strikes me that rather than making these concessions to the United States preemptively through Bill C-30, it would be far more prudent to see what happens with Trump and with our potential renegotiation of NAFTA so that if we need to make concessions, we can get something for them. We can bargain rather than just give the U.S. these concessions as part of a deal with Europe. That is another reason to defeat this legislation.
The third type of negotiation I would like to speak to are the negotiations that are constantly going on between the Canadian state and corporate Canada, because one aspect of extending investor-state provisions through these different international agreements is that Canadian companies want to have access to the same special commercial tribunals so that they are able to directly challenge and sue over laws, regulations, and public policies they may not like. The more we extend these investor-state provisions, the more we invite Canadian companies to demand a similar basis on which to challenge our own democratic domestic policies.
We are starting to see this kind of thinking bubble up in the Conservative leadership race. Just last week, we had two candidates for the Conservative leadership, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle and the member for Beauce, tripping over each other to try to adopt radical libertarian positions. The member for Regina—Qu'Appelle said that we should entrench private property rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The member for Beauce was very quick to agree with this concept. We can see the linkage of this with trade deals by looking at the way another Conservative MP reacted to this proposal. The member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston stated:
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, and shouldn’t be second-class in their own country.
We have this argument that because there are investor-state provisions in trade deals, they should be extended to all Canadian companies and property owners. What would that mean in practice? We can forget about any kind of land use planning for starters, but we can also forget about building any type of major public infrastructure that would traverse lots of different property. Imagine trying to build or even twin an existing highway if every landowner along the route essentially could veto it because their private property rights were entrenched in the Constitution. The power of expropriation is an extremely important thing if we want to get infrastructure built.
We have heard a lot of rhetoric in favour of pipelines from the Conservatives. Good luck building any pipelines after private property rights are entrenched in the Constitution. That is something the Conservative leadership candidates need to think about.
Bill C-30 would weaken Canada's negotiating position with a post-Brexit Britain. It would weaken Canada's negotiating position on NAFTA with the United States. It would also lead us down this goofy path of entrenching private property rights in the Constitution. For all those reasons, I urge my fellow MPs to defeat this bill.