House of Commons Hansard #344 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animals.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the support. I can assure the member that if he were to go through the legislation, he would see that it is far broader than what his Conservative colleague brought forward. There are some substantial differences, and I assume that his support is for all aspects of the legislation we are debating today and that the Conservative Party would be supportive of quick passage, meaning there would be a very limited number of Conservatives who are prepared to speak on it. That would enable the bill to pass faster.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, absolutely. As I mentioned earlier, as far as I am concerned, it is exactly the same legislation. We will be supporting it at as soon as possible on our end.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we go to resuming debate, 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 Vancouver East, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; the hon. member for Drummond, Natural Resources; and the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, International Development.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Mississauga East—Cooksville.

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4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Davenport.

What this bill brings forward is a balance: more protections for animals against animal cruelty, and also an understanding of the important work that farmers need to do.

We are going to talk a lot about the legislation, but nothing brings it more to life than a story. I was listening to the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford talking about Teddy the dog and the abuse it suffered and how the community has rallied. We have heard from citizens from coast to coast to coast how important this is. That is significant. We know these stories have happened in all of our ridings and it is important for us to protect those who do not have a voice, our animals. That is why it brings me great pleasure to be able to speak to Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting). This bill proposes several amendments to the Criminal Code to improve and expand the law in respect of these two issues.

Historically, discussions surrounding the criminalization of certain types of behaviours toward animals have tended to generate significant controversy and strong passion on various sides. As we experienced during the second reading debate on Bill C-246, the modernizing animal protections act, it is not always easy to reconcile competing interests in this area of the law. Despite the challenges we see time and again on these broader questions, I believe it is important, as a starting point, to recognize that the measures proposed in this bill focus on two issues that enjoy broad support. In fact, I understand that a wide variety of stakeholder groups have written to the Minister of Justice in support of these specific proposals. In addition to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, and a diverse range of stakeholders from the agriculture sector have equally expressed their support, again striking the right balance.

It is clear that there is more we can do as parliamentarians to protect animals and to condemn those who intentionally subject them to harm. When we can all come together, we can get important things done. That is precisely what this bill seeks to do. Bill C-84 seeks to better protect children and other vulnerable persons and animals in a couple of different ways.

First, there are amendments to existing offences in relation to animal fighting. Causing animals to fight each other is generally done for the economic gain of some people and the entertainment of others. In all of its manifestations, it is an abhorrent behaviour that has no place in Canadian society. It has long been prohibited under criminal law. Animal fighting can be a complex enterprise involving many people at different stages of the operation. Because there are a variety of activities carried out by numerous different people, possibly in different places, it can make it challenging to define the scope of the offence and to prosecute those offenders. In fact, animal fighting has been shown to be linked to organized crime. We might suspect the reason for this is that it is a profit-generating activity, which is what criminal organizations are only interested in. This potential link with organized crime is yet another reason to take seriously the measures proposed in this bill.

Criminal law seeks to define offences by identifying specific actions that are prohibited. The time has come to update the existing prohibitions to ensure that all of the various activities done in support of animal fighting are clearly prohibited. That is precisely what this bill does. The existing offence in paragraph 445.1(1)(b) of the Criminal Code prohibits encouraging, aiding or assisting the fighting of animals. The problem with this is that it is not entirely clear what conduct is or is not prohibited. Therefore, the bill would expand this offence so that it would expressly prohibit a range of additional activities that are done in support of animal fighting. It would add the following to the list of prohibited activities: promoting, arranging, receiving money and taking part in animal fighting, as well as training, transporting or breeding an animal for the purpose of fighting.

The objective of such reforms is to more clearly define what conduct is prohibited in order to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of these offences. Related enforcement actions would be facilitated, because it will be very clear when behaviour is criminal and when it is not. Enforcement bodies will not have to ask themselves whether breeding animals for the purpose of fighting or receiving money from animal fighting are prohibited since the various links on the chain of an animal fighting operation will now all be set out very clearly.

This change would greatly benefit the animals that are deliberately subjected to harm in the most brutal of ways for human entertainment and profit. There is no social value to these activities, only cruelty for its own sake.

It is vital that the law be clear, that animals be protected from the full range of activities that are done in support of animal fighting, and that law enforcement be equipped to detect and stop this crime at whatever stage they find it.

A related amendment is a proposed change to the offence of keeping a cockpit, dealt with in section 447 of the Criminal Code. The narrow scope of this offence is likely a result of the historical era in which it was enacted, a time when animal fighting would have primarily involved cockfighting.

Today we know that animal fighting can take other forms, most notably dog fighting. Bill C-84 would therefore broaden the current offence so that individuals who make or maintain arenas that are intended to be used in fighting by any type of animal are subject to criminal law.

I would also note that research continues to show a correlation between animal cruelty and other forms of criminality and violence. While these proposed reforms target one form of animal cruelty, the broader context remains relevant. Where individuals participate in the senseless brutalization of animals, this kind of behaviour represents a threat to public safety that we must all be concerned about.

The other major component of this legislation addresses bestiality. There have always been offences prohibiting bestiality in the Criminal Code, including prohibiting the compelling of a person to engage in bestiality and inciting a person under 16 years of age to engage in bestiality or engaging in it in the presence of an individual, as dealt with in section 160 of the Criminal Code.

However, there is currently no definition of bestiality in the Criminal Code. In the 2016 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. D.L.W., the court held that the common law definition of bestiality is limited to sex acts with animals that involve penetration. This ruling generated a lot of commentary, with many Canadians feeling that it left out many of the offences and forms of behaviour that are harmful and equally deserving of prohibition.

While interpreting these offences is in the domain of the courts, creating new offences or expanding the scope of the existing ones is something that only Parliament can do, and this is precisely what Bill C-84 proposes to do. The bill proposes to amend the relevant section, section 160, to define bestiality for the first time in the Criminal Code.

It is entirely appropriate for Parliament to define the scope of key terms in criminal offences, as this is in fact what defines the scope of criminal conduct. It is our responsibility not just to ensure clarity in the scope of criminal offences, but also to ensure that the scope of criminal offences keeps up with modern times and adequately protects the public from offensive behaviour in a way that is consistent with our collective values.

I am confident that Canadians will support these proposed measures, which aim to clearly identify as unacceptable certain forms of conduct that are harmful to animals, to children and to the whole of society.

I urge all members to support this legislation to ensure its swift passage. This is the right piece of legislation that will bring that balance by protecting animals from cruelty and also ensuring that farmers will be able to do their jobs. Stakeholders are onside. It is time to move forward.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is asking all members to support the bill, and I think we all are. We are supporting it because it is the right thing. It is so tepid and timid that it does not go far enough. We had a private member's bill before us a couple of years ago that perhaps went too far. Perhaps it bit off more than it could chew, as someone said today.

Does the member not think the government could have tackled some of the things Canadians really cared about, such as the care of animals and the egregious mistreatment of them, without treading on the rights of business, farmers, fishers, hunters and trappers? Those sorts of concerns were put forward about the previous bill. It could have answered some of the questions Canadians had around the egregious examples of terrible behaviour in the treatment of animals in some instances. We have to attack these things with the bill, but the Liberals have left them out.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I could feel in the words of the member the passion for our animals and their protection. The bill provides the right balance between protecting our animals, keeping them away from animal cruelty, and marrying that with the work that farmers and others need to do. It also provides many of the stakeholders the ability through law enforcement to have some teeth and come down with the full force of the law on those who break these laws and commit these atrocious acts.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, we cannot oppose a good thing. It is quite clear that this bill makes good sense. However, I find it rather sad because it is like changing the wipers on a lemon with a flat tire.

Animal welfare is the subject of many conversations. There is a legal grey area. There are animals that are mistreated and even tortured. We have seen so many farms where conditions were just deplorable. I can hardly believe people treat animals that way. An animal should have rights and not be treated like property or merchandise. That is a simple idea.

It is a little surprising to see a government reject a private member's bill from one of its own and then present an abbreviated version that does not reflect the reality of people with animals, both those who love them and those who torture them.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, through a great deal of consultation, reaching out to stakeholders and understanding what needed to be fixed, the bill closes the gap. The minister has committed to continuing that work and the conversation as we modernize the Criminal Code. This continues.

If passed, it will bring in the penalties through law enforcement to clamp down and fight against those who do these despicable acts, doing harmful things to animals. The stakeholders are on board. That includes all stakeholders from the agriculture side as well as animal groups. It has the right balance and the teeth to do its job.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 29th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code, bestiality and animal fighting.

Animal rights, updated animal cruelty laws and anything to do with taking care of our animals are very important to Davenport residents, so I felt it was important for me to speak to the bill.

I have received hundreds of letters over the years since I have been elected and a number of calls to action around improving our animal cruelty laws and many of the issues that have been talked about in the House in our discussion on Bill C-84.

Before I begin my formal remarks, I want to acknowledge the work of my colleague from Beaches—East York who introduced Bill C-246 two years ago. This proposed legislation was intended to modernize many aspects of Canada's animal cruelty laws. While the bill was ultimately defeated, I did vote in favour of it, not only because of the overwhelming support of it by Davenport residents but because I personally felt the time had come for us, on a fairly big scale, to update the legislation in a number of ways.

However, it was partly due to the member's efforts that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada committed to review the animal cruelty offences. She engaged in a broad public consultation that led to proposing Bill C-84, which is what I will speak on today. I will focus on a couple of areas.

I think we can agree that bestiality, its links to child sexual abuse, cruelty to animals and the issue of animal fighting are major concerns in Canada. Therefore, Bill C-84 proposes to do a few things, including providing a clear definition for bestiality as well as strengthen and modernize Canada's animal fighting laws. I will focus on these two issues in the bill, which have broad support.

First, Bill C-84 would fill a gap identified as a result of the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the case of R v. D.L.W. in relation to the prohibition of acts of bestiality. In the D.L.W. decision, the Supreme Court was asked to interpret the scope of the bestiality offence under the Criminal Code. Surprisingly, it was found that the Criminal Code did not contain a definition of bestiality.

In considering the origins and historical evolution of the common law bestiality provision, the court stated that penetration had always been one of the central elements of the offence. The court refused to interpret bestiality in such a way as to broaden its scope, saying that the decision to broaden the definition fell squarely within the responsibility of Parliament. The Supreme Court decision in the D.L.W. case allowed us to identify a gap in the law that the bestiality offences in force did not apply to persons who committed sexual acts with non-penetrating animals, even in the presence of children or with children.

Many stakeholders, including child and animal advocates and even some provincial governments, urged the federal government to act on the D.L.W. decision and to fill deficiencies identified by the Supreme Court. The first amendment proposed in the bill therefore is to define the term “bestiality” in the Criminal Code to prohibit “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal”. This proposed legislative amendment will serve several important purposes, such as the protection of children and other vulnerable persons who may witness or be forced to witness an act of bestiality.

The proposed legislative amendment contains a strong public safety component. Research shows that violence, including sexual violence against women and children and violence against animals, are not separate and distinct issues. Rather, they are part of a broader context of violence that is inextricably linked.

In fact, research conducted by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection on images of child sexual exploitation on websites reported that between 2002 and 2009, 35% of all images analyzed involved serious sexual assault, including bondage or sexual servitude, torture and bestiality. This data demonstrated that there was a clear link between bestiality, child sexual abuse and other forms of violence.

In addition, since the D.L.W. decision, the case law analysis on this issue also revealed numerous cases where offenders convicted of possession of child pornography were sadly viewing images of children aged one to 16 engaging in bestiality acts.

Case law further demonstrates that when sexual violence against a child involves an animal, the level of criminal behaviour may be particularly serious, and acts of sexual violence committed do not always involve penetration.

Since the D.L.W. decision, bestiality offences under the Criminal Code do not apply in cases where the offender commits sexual acts with non-penetrating animals. The impact is that animals are only protected from non-penetrative sexual acts by persons when the sexual act causes physical injury to the animal and is therefore an offence for cruelty to animals. Likewise, children are only protected from being compelled to commit or witness acts of bestiality without penetration when other sexual offences against the child apply.

Bill C-84's proposal to define bestiality fills this gap by making it clear that all acts of sex with animals are prohibited under the bestiality provisions of Canada regardless of the circumstances. In other words, society has no legitimate interest in allowing people to commit sexual acts with animals, especially in the presence of children or with their participation. The bill proposes to define bestiality as “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal”.

The meaning of this sentence is well understood and established in law. This expression is found in several other provisions of the Criminal Code, such as child pornography, luring on the Internet and making sexually explicit material available to a child.

In the 2001 Sharpe decision, the Supreme Court of Canada interpreted the sentence in the context of the child pornography offence to mean that the act, viewed objectively, was committed for the sexual gratification of the involved child. It would be noted that the proposed definition clearly would not intended for animal breeding activities such as artificial insemination.

I would now like to highlight the provisions in the bill to strengthen Canada's animal fighting laws.

At the moment, the Criminal Code prohibits anyone from encouraging or assisting in the fighting or harassment of animals and anyone who constructs and maintains an arena for cock fighting on the premises that the person owns or occupies or to permit such an arena to be constructed, maintained or guarded on those premises. The bill would ensure that all activities contributing to animal fighting would be prohibited and that all animals would be entitled to the same protection. This would be achieved by amending section 445.1 of the Criminal Code to prohibit a wider range of activities, such as promoting, organizing and participating in animal fights.

In addition, Bill C-84 would ensure that section 447 would prohibit all arenas of animal fighting, not only those that would be committed to cock fighting. While there are no reliable statistics on the extent of animal fighting in Canada, given the clandestine nature, we know that animal fighting activities are often related to organized crime, including illegal gambling, trafficking, illicit drugs and weapons. Although cock fighting has become a thing of the past in Canada, the incidence of other forms of animal fighting, particularly those including dogs, has increased.

The animal fighting offence reforms proposed in the bill will achieve a number of important goals, including the following two. They will make it clear that all forms of animal fighting are prohibited. They will strengthen our ability to bring to justice those who commit these heinous crimes and to track the number of cases.

I would like to point out that the broadening of the scope of animal welfare offences does not involve legitimate activities such as hunting, training or the use of dogs for protection purposes. Rather, it targets acts of gratuitous violence that have no place and no legitimate purpose in our country.

Although this is a relatively short bill, the proposed amendments are necessary to fill real gaps in the criminal law.

In short, the bill is part of the firm commitment of the Minister of Justice to examine and strengthen the animal cruelty laws. I hope all members of Parliament will join me in supporting the proposed reforms. I encourage all members of the House to unanimously support the speedy passage of Bill C-84.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate what I asked the previous speaker. This bill is based on a private member's bill, kind of an omnibus bill, about animal welfare and cruelty to animals that perhaps tried to do too many things at once. The government has taken two very simple parts of that bill and put them into Bill C-84. As my colleague from Longueuil said, it is sort of like motherhood and apple pie and, of course, everybody here is going to agree with that.

However, why did the government not do the perhaps more difficult work of broadening the scope to other real animal cruelty issues around the care of animals without getting into the problems of fishers, hunters, trappers and farmers doing their business in proper ways? We could easily have language in the bill that would protect those activities while getting at true animal cruelty, which this bill does not cover at all, even though in her speech, the member seemed to suggest that it does. It is only about bestiality and animal fighting, two things we can all agree are not proper things for Canadians to do. We should have tackled the broader subject.

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5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I share the member's concern. While the bill only addresses two areas, I believe they are two important areas for us to address. The consultation was done very well and we have landed in the exact place we need to be.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, I supported Bill C-246 which the member for Beaches—East York introduced in the House two years ago. I would like far more aggressive work done to protect animals in terms of the cruelty inflicted on them for years. I am not going to stop pushing the government to do better and for us to do more. It is important to Davenport residents and to me.

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5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Is the House ready for the question?

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5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Jim Carr Minister of International Trade Diversification, Lib.

moved that Bill C-85, an act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and to make related amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by adding my voice to the eloquent words of others earlier on in the House today expressing their horror at the tragedy in Pittsburgh over the weekend taking lives only because Jews were targeted. I will say more about this later on in my remarks because this is my community. I will talk about the ties between Israel and Canada which are based on family, friendship, shared values and understanding the importance of these relationships in an uncertain world.

I rise in the House today in support of legislation to implement the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA.

As Minister of International Trade Diversification, I can attest that today, more than ever, we need to diversify our trade and tap new markets so that more Canadians can compete and succeed worldwide. This government has secured the North American platform with the new USMCA. When we add to that the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, in place since last year, and the now ratified Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, that platform actually extends east and west, from Tokyo to Tallinn.

In CETA's first year, Canadians have added $1.1 billion in increased exports to Europe. With 500 million European consumers at our doorstep, that number is sure to grow. In the fast-growing Asia-Pacific markets, the CPTPP will add a further 500 million consumers to Canada's ever-increasing network of free trade.

Canada is now the only G7 country with free trade links to all of the others. Think about the importance of that reality. We have 41 FTAs connecting us to 1.5 billion of the world's consumers. lnvestors recognize how important this is. FTAs are the bridges, but to truly realize the opportunity we have created, we need people, the entrepreneurs and first-time exporters, to cross those bridges. Our diversity is our economic strength.

Canada and Israel have long been connected through the power of people-to-people ties, a shared commitment to democracy and a friendship that started 70 years ago when Israel became a nation. It continues to grow with each passing year.

Israel is the home of the Jewish people and if we needed reminding why this is so important, why affirming and reaffirming our bonds is so important, we horrifically saw why when on Saturday, 11 worshippers were killed in Pittsburgh only because they were Jewish.

Jewish people have been in Canada since 1759 and now our community of more than 350,000 continues to contribute impressively to our national mosaic. My grandparents came to Canada in 1906, escaping the pogroms of the tsar. They were persecuted only because they were Jewish. That is yet another reason to underline the importance of security to the State of Israel.

I have visited Israel many times and made my first trip as Canada's Minister of International Trade Diversification in August. Canada and Israel have forged a partnership that continues to deepen with each passing year. Strengthening those bonds depends on constant renewal, which is why our government recently modernized the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. The agreement creates opportunities for Canadians and Israelis to partner in the growing fields of science, technology and innovation across our vibrant markets. The agreement has the potential for more people to work together, creating well-paying jobs for hard-working Canadians as a result.

Bill C-85 before the House today stands as testimony to Canada's and Israel's shared commitment to maintain openness, celebrate our friendship and expand our links so that more of our people and more of our businesses can benefit from them.

I am especially pleased that this modernized trade agreement strengthens our commercial ties, generating more business for both our countries. When Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen travelled to Canada this year to sign our modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, we built on that partnership. We committed to a forward-looking framework for trade that expanded meaningful access to each other's markets and introduced chapters on gender, labour, environmental protection, and support for small and medium-sized enterprises. Minister Cohen said at that time, “We are witnessing a historical step in the trade relations between the two countries with the signing of the upgraded agreement.”

In some respects Minister Cohen was even a little understated. We expanded market access for more Canadians and Israelis, but we also pushed the envelope by writing new international law, putting an end to inequality of access to job-creating trade and investment. The new chapters on gender, the environment and labour are explicitly about growing our trading relationship while expanding access for those who did not necessarily see themselves or their values reflected in the agreements of the past.

There is enormous untapped economic potential, but for too long we have focused on the few and not on the many. We are changing that. We are encouraging more of these would-be exporters to get in the game, and these chapters are about showing workers and their families that trade can work for them. Israel is clearly thinking longer term to future-proof its own economy, taking full advantage of its entrepreneurial spirit to develop a high-tech industry and to promote clean technologies.

Israelis have every right to tout the initiatives launched by the Israel Innovation Authority to drive public sector innovation. We see room to expand Canadian-Israeli business partnerships, innovating our way into greater prosperity.

Since the original CIFTA came into force in 1997, merchandising trade between Canada and Israel has more than tripled, reaching $1.7 billion in 2017. This demonstrates the importance of trade agreements to bilateral trade.

The modernized CIFTA will open new doors and make Canadian goods more competitive in the Israeli market. For example, in this new agreement, we have expanded market access for goods by eliminating tariffs on nearly all products traded between Canada and Israel, nearly all products. This will make Canadian agri-food, agriculture, fish and seafood products more competitive in the Israeli market, benefiting a range of companies in all those sectors.

We have also negotiated rules that are designed to address non-tariff barriers, facilitate trade, make it more predictable, and reduce red tape, including some of the costs to companies for doing business. The modernized CIFTA also adopts a new framework that includes chapters on trade and gender, small and medium enterprises, labour and the environment, as well as a new provision on corporate social responsibility.

The modernized agreement reflects who we are as vibrant, diverse, open and democratic societies. This agreement is not only for today but for future generations.

The new chapters on trade and gender and on small and medium enterprises ensure that the benefits and opportunities that flow from trade and investment are more widely shared. Both chapters provide frameworks for Canada and Israel to work together to encourage women and small and medium enterprises to take full advantage of this agreement.

The new chapter on environment includes robust commitments so that parties maintain high levels of environmental protection, while liberalizing trade. This is in line with other Canadian FTAs, including more environmental governance. This is the first environmental chapter that Israel has ever agreed to in a free trade agreement.

Canada and Israel also agreed to a chapter on labour that includes comprehensive and enforceable obligations to protect and promote internationally recognized labour principles and rights. The labour chapter recognizes that economic development is not achieved at the expense of workers' rights, backed by an enforceable dispute settlement mechanism.

A modernized CIFTA shows the world that we put our people first and are committed to embracing that value as an economic strength.

One in six Canadian jobs are directly linked to exports, and that is one of the reasons we are so committed to expanding the pie for all Canadians. The more bridges we build, the more opportunities there are for people to cross those bridges with goods, services and investments.

For those here today who may not know, Israel has a long-standing reputation for technological prowess, with a well-developed scientific and educational base. We see room to expand and build partnerships in these sectors and many others. There are exciting opportunities for Canadian companies in sectors such as aerospace, smart mobility, sustainable technologies, information and communications technology, life sciences and energy.

There are also great prospects for joint research and development. For example, Canadian and Israeli firms have joined forces to develop an ultraviolet water monitoring system that ensures the safety of drinking water. There are even more possibilities on the horizon that will change countless lives in communities across the globe. When I was in Tel Aviv in September, I announced a pilot program to facilitate new cybersecurity solutions for the energy sector, matching expertise in areas like anti-hacking with the needs of Canada's natural gas delivery companies.

With so much potential and opportunity on both sides, it simply makes sense that we work together and knit our economies even tighter. Not surprisingly, the government's consultations, in the context of the negotiations, have consistently revealed support for a modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. Canadians want to do more business in and with Israel in the years ahead. A modernized free trade agreement between our countries is a surefire way to make that happen. Our competitiveness depends on small and medium-sized enterprises pursuing trade opportunities and for us to support them in doing so.

The Prime Minister has prioritized, in my mandate as minister of international trade and diversification, support for Canadian businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that flow after trade agreements are signed, including by drawing on resources from across government and from public and private sector partners.

In order for the benefits of FTAs to be fully realized, Canadian businesses need to be aware of the agreements and the benefits they offer. Once ratified, I will work hard to promote awareness of the modernized agreement so would-be exporters have the information they need to get into the market.

My department has mobilized a free trade agreement promotion task force that is undertaking a comprehensive outreach and training program for the business community. Efforts of the task force are currently focused on flagship agreements, like Canada's trade agreement with the European Union, or CETA, and the CPTPP, which last week received royal assent and was subsequently ratified. I want to pause here and thank all members of the House who co-operated so fully to ensure that Canada was among the first tranche to ratify, which gives us a first advantage that will be meaningful for our entrepreneurs and our exporters, and ultimately will create jobs for Canadians.

Once CIFTA is ratified, I will ensure this promotion work is extended to this agreement too. At the same time, Canadian companies can access the free services and export advice offered by the Canadian trade commissioner service, TCS, which is 1,000 strong around the world. The TCS helps Canadian companies export by preparing businesses for international markets, providing market potential assessments, offering connections to qualified contacts abroad and assisting in resolving business problems.

The CanExport program, which is delivered by the TCS in partnership with the National Research Council industrial research assistance program, helps Canadians take the practical and necessary steps to make their first sale overseas. This five-year, $50-million program provides direct financial assistance to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to make that happen. In June 2018, the government announced an additional $40 million for the CanExport program. The new funding, along with enhancements to the program, will provide Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises with more opportunities to diversify their export markets, including to Israel.

Now we need to give life to our agreement by taking advantage of the two-way trade between our knowledge-based, innovation-driven economies.

With our expanded air transport agreement, we need more travel between our two countries and the flights to support it.

There are ample reasons to be optimistic about our future. Not only does working together support economic prosperity and job creation in both countries, it raises the international bar for the rules-based and inclusive trading order on which economies like ours depend. This is yet another example where two states recognize that our future prosperity depends on liberalized trade.

We know in Canada that there are protectionist forces and that is why we convened 12 nations just last week to push for concrete reforms to the WTO so that the future of global trade is put on a better footing.

We need more partnerships in the world that reflect this approach and the approach we have taken with Israel in CIFTA.

We need to create the conditions for small and medium-sized businesses to compete and succeed because they are the lifeblood of both of our economies.

Going about the business of trade differently is not just about exporting values, it is about adding value to our respective bottom lines. We can only do that if we focus on the middle class and the confidence they need to make their first international sale or deal.

Our modernized trade agreement is an example of what happens when two governments decide to put the middle class at the heart of our trade agenda.

I therefore urge all hon. members to support Bill C-85 and thereby enable Canada to do its part to bring the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement into force in a timely way.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the minister for getting set to renew the agreement.

For 20 years, we have seen the growth of our two nations expand to about $1.7 billion last year. We needed a new agreement. It has been four years in the making. This agreement is important to the economics of Canada and to small businesses.

I wonder if the minister could explain to me if he thinks that we will be as competitive with our neighbours and Israel with the carbon tax placed on Canadian businesses? Does he think that will harm our competitive edge with companies and corporations in Israel?

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5:25 p.m.

Minister of International Trade Diversification, Lib.

Jim Carr

Mr. Speaker, I had several opportunities over the last number of weeks to talk to international business leaders about Canada's competitiveness. They said to me that, on regulation and on taxation, it is a bit of a wash. One could make an argument one way or another that the United States or Canada might be more competitive.

What really struck me was when I heard that Canada's greatest competitive advantage is its immigration policy. Our labour pool is made up not only of those who live in Canada but those who live around the world and who are attracted to come to Canada, some of whom are coming from the United States.

As a competitive advantage, I thought that was quite an insight from an entrepreneur, a woman CEO, who makes decisions all the time about where to invest capital. She wanted to look at particular ways of enhancing her company's footprint in Canada and cited the most important reason to be our immigration policy.

It has not come up in my conversations—

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. Questions and comments, the hon. member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay.

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5:25 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the natural resources critic over here, I enjoyed my time with the minister when he had that file. I wish him well in foreign trade diversification.

Considering that the UN Security Council has Resolution 2334, which calls upon all states to distinguish between the territory of Israel and the occupied territories since 1967, and since our own government has a policy that Israel does not have permanent sovereignty over those occupied territories, would it not respect our own policy and our international obligations to do what the European Union has demanded of Israel since 2015, and that is on its exports to label products as to whether they are from those occupied territories or from the state of Israel so that Canadians can see where they originated and we are able to live up to our obligations?

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Minister of International Trade Diversification, Lib.

Jim Carr

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his spirit of collegiality. When he was critic and I was minister of natural resources, we travelled to many places around the world. I have learned from him and really do value his friendship.

On the issue of territoriality, no amendments were made to CIFTA's original definition of Israel's territory. The territorial scope of application of the modernized CIFTA will continue to be the territory where Israel's customs laws apply. As such, qualifying trade with Canada from the West Bank and Gaza Strip can also benefit from preferred access.

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5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. Minister of International Trade Diversification.

I was a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade for two and a half years and I also had the opportunity to visit Israel, which is a very interesting country.

There are indeed a lot of trade ties between Israel and Canada, some of which should be further developed. It is good to see that we are able to update the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.

I am addressing the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. I hope some of them are watching.

I would like the minister to explain how this update to the free trade agreement could benefit the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, who are obviously part of the middle class.

In my riding, there really are a lot of SMEs. The aerospace industry has a big presence in the Lower Laurentians area and an artificial intelligence supercluster was set up in the Montreal area. There are others in my riding. You said earlier that SMEs in aerospace and AI were the “the lifeblood of our economy” and that “it is about adding value”.

I would like the minister to explain how this will benefit the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

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5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The member used the word “you” again, but I am not the one talking; the minister is. I would remind the member that she must address the Chair.

The hon. Minister of International Trade Diversification.

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5:30 p.m.

Minister of International Trade Diversification, Lib.

Jim Carr

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the observation, because it is really at the heart of why we sign trade agreements. We talk a lot in Canada, and so we should, about how we distribute our wealth. We have robust discussions about how much should go to health care, to infrastructure or to universities, and I might argue that more should go to symphony orchestras, but we do not spend an awful lot of time talking about wealth creation. It is the creators of wealth who can take advantage of these bridges that we construct through trade agreements.

What does “creating wealth” mean? It means creating jobs. Therefore, all of our constituents stand to benefit from trade agreements that create growth and wealth that produce jobs for Canadians. I would easily be comfortable making the argument that in all 338 constituencies across Canada, men and women stand to benefit from this agreement because this agreement will lead to wealth, growth and jobs.