Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents in the Ottawa Valley riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I am pleased to participate in today's debate, ushering in the peace and prosperity agenda that represents the cornerstone of successive Conservative policies that have been the envy of the rest of the world.
The trail that leads to today's debate for a Canada-EU trade agreement began with our previous Conservative government under the leadership of the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, and was concluded before the last general election. Conservatives recognize that international trade initiatives generate increased economic activity, drive prosperity and job creation, as well as foster greater co-operation between our democratic allies. The Canada-EU agreement will emphasize the importance of secure access to international markets through a rules-based trading system.
Canada must trade. Jobs in Canada depend upon the ability to export what we ourselves do not consume. In turn, the world needs what Canada produces. Conservatives believe that Canada should strive to maximize the benefits we have as a free trading nation. We understand clearly the need to diversify markets as competition promotes fairness. The need to establish trading relationships beyond North America is exactly what CETA accomplishes. This landmark trade agreement is the result of sound Conservative trade policy and years of hard work. I welcome the opportunities in employment and wealth creation of bringing this deal into force.
I ask all Canadians to recognize the hard work over the past decade by our world-class trade negotiators, the ministers who led them, and the prime minister whose vision led Parliament to pass a record number of free trade agreements. The path to reaching the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the EU began nearly a decade ago under our previous Conservative government. Negotiations were formally launched in 2008 by then minister of international trade, my good friend and former colleague, the Hon. Stockwell Day. Talks continued under my friend and colleague, the hon. member for York-Simcoe, who also found time to launch trade talks with India, the world's largest democracy, and trade talks, now finalized, with Ukraine, a democracy under siege. However, we would not be here today if it were not for the hard work and heavy lifting by Canada's longest serving and, easily argued, best minister of international trade, the hon. member for Abbotsford. As minister, he ushered through Parliament trade agreements with Colombia, Jordan, Panama, Honduras, and Korea, all while completing negotiations with the 28 countries in the EU. Canada's consumers, entrepreneurs, farmers, miners, and manufacturers will benefit under this agreement, thanks to the hard work of the member for Abbotsford.
I recognize the present federal government in moving forward in the best interests of all Canadians by supporting trade liberalization with the ratification of this trade agreement. With the decision to walk back on a number of Conservative policies, like tax reduction, reducing the federal deficit, and balanced budgets, Canadians are breathing a sigh of relief that this federal government is not following the regressive left trade policy of isolationism by trying to undo our previous Conservative government's accomplishments on trade. I will only be confident when CETA is finalized.
Canadians will see significant economic benefits from free trade with Europe. Perhaps this will inspire the current government to support free trade between provinces, and free the beer. Like NAFTA, CETA was negotiated under a Conservative government and ratified by a Liberal government. My hope for Canadians is that we will see similar economic benefits from CETA as we have under NAFTA.
My constituents are concerned the Liberal government's anti-business policies and reckless deficit spending will wipe out any economic benefits Canadians might see under CETA. NAFTA helped our economy grow. It helped businesses expand and hire more employees. By expanding the Canadian economy with trade, a previous federal government was able to finally wrestle down the reckless deficit spending launched in the 1970s under Pierre Trudeau.
Now, in what might be the most ironic case of history repeating itself, we have another Liberal Prime Minister whose reckless spending has led us into structural deficits that will far outlive many of the majority of the current generation of taxpayers.
When this trade deal with Europe starts to provide a boost to our GDP, I am concerned that the government will use it as an excuse to keep on its reckless spending record.
It is important to remind Canadians that after the government broke its promise on the annual deficit, and then broke its promise on the total amount it would borrow, any fiscal credibility rests on keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio the same. As Canadian employees and employers work together to open new markets for the products and services in Europe, their creativity and drive will increase our country's GDP. This does not justify larger deficits. The debt-to-GDP ratio should decline over the long term as it did when our Conservative government was in power.
Expanding the Canadian economy with trade and reducing debt is the right policy for Canadians. By expanding the Canadian economy, CETA represents an opportunity to get federal spending under control without the cutbacks of the 1990s that resulted in cuts to health care and the decade of darkness for our military and the nuclear industry.
In my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, we have some of the most innovative and productive farmers in the world. Young farmers are looking forward to seeing 94% of EU tariff lines on Canadian agricultural products becoming duty-free once CETA enters into force. This duty-free access will give Canadian agricultural goods preferential access to the EU market at a time when their American competitors are sidelined, waiting on a stalled deal between the United States and Europe.
With the passage of CETA, I am looking forward to going back to my riding and telling farmers that if they hurry, they can capture new markets and increase their sales. It is important that they increase their sales, because under the Wynne Liberals, their electricity costs have skyrocketed with the hidden carbon tax called the “global adjustment” on consumers' hydro bills. It is important they hurry because the federal Liberal government has implemented a massive carbon tax on all of their energy costs, to be collected by the Toronto Liberal Party.
CETA will be good news for the farmers and manufacturers in my riding, but they use a lot of energy, so any gains they make will be taxed away by the Liberal government.
With the elimination of tariffs between Canada and Europe, combined with our country's vast natural beauty, we could expect to see more European tourists seeking to explore our wilderness. For Europeans watching this debate, whitewater rafting in the upper Ottawa Valley is world class and a lot of fun.
Sadly, when they come this spring, some smaller family-run campgrounds will not be reopening because of the government's relentless attack on small business, and in particular, its attack on family-run campgrounds. Like many European tourists, my colleagues across the aisle may not be aware the government thinks that if campgrounds have fewer than five full-time year-round employees, they are too small to qualify for the small business tax rate and should therefore pay the same as large companies, and in many cases, even more.
Urban MPs do not represent a lot of campgrounds downtown, but when thousands of their constituents leave the city to go camping across Canada this summer and find out their favourite little campground closed because of the Liberals' borrow, tax and spend policies, I expect they will hear a lot more about this issue. In short, CETA is good for tourism, but Liberals are bad for business in the tourism industry.
Again and again, it is the same story. The gains Canadians made from the hard work by our previous Conservative government to cut taxes for all Canadians and successfully negotiate favourable new trade deals is being undone by the Liberal spending government.