Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal colleague from Mississauga-Centre for his speech and for taking inspiration from what the Conservative Party did when it started this process.
My colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley just asked what the difference is between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party. The answer is that the Conservative Party understands the economy, while the Liberal Party does not seem to be known for much of anything—but at least it generously built on our idea and our initiative to introduce Bill C-79, which is about the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership.
The CPTPP is a new free trade agreement. It is good for the economy and for the government to open up new markets allowing us to prosper. By prospering I mean enabling our businesses to be very active internationally to increase revenues and create wealth. As a result, businesses and governments can then make more money available to create social programs and help the less fortunate.
Let us create wealth and provide social programs. At the moment, the Liberals are busy spending a lot of money, but they are using a process that was put in place by the Conservative Party to hopefully create some wealth.
The interesting thing is that the CPTPP opens up markets with Australia, Brunei, Canada, obviously, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
I still maintain that this was put in motion by the Conservative Party. The Liberals love to invoke the name of the former prime minister, a man I admire deeply. He is one of the reasons I am in politics today. Stephen Harper, an economist by trade who is no showman, took steps to grow Canada's economy, and I am glad he did.
This goes to show that the Liberals are just improvising. We saw it with NAFTA, now known as the USMCA. The “C” stands for “Canada”. We get the lowest billing in the abbreviation because we are the last of the three countries to have signed or reached an agreement. This proves that the Liberals are improvising, which I find disquieting.
My leader, the leader of the Conservative Party, wrote to the Prime Minister of Canada this summer to speed up the negotiation process. Our government's negotiations with our neighbour to the south, the United States, have been dragging on for 13 months. I think that, strategically, it would have been a good idea to show the U.S. that we are not vulnerable, that even though they are a significant market, we want to develop other markets in order to have some leverage to negotiate with the U.S.
My leader got in touch with the Prime Minister to speed up the process. What is important for this treaty is to be among the first six signatories for the agreement to enter into force. Again, we are here discussing the CPTPP in October, on the eve of Thanksgiving, because of the Liberal government's improvisation, amateurism and lack of rigour. We are wasting time.
One thing we know in the world of economics is that when a player is missing and orders need to be filled, customers will start looking elsewhere if they are disappointed. It is the same when building a new head office, when there are opportunities to bring head offices here but companies choose to go somewhere else. You do not build a new head office every day, every week or every month. There are cycles and investments. When a company is located in a region or a country, transferring its head office to another country is a complex operation. It is a serious decision for corporate leaders to take.
Here is what we can read in Export Development Canada's website: “Free trade agreements like the CPTPP can: Help you reach new B2B customers; Give your firm a chance to bid on government contracts overseas; Buy goods and services with reduced or no tariffs”.
That is a Government of Canada website promoting the benefits of a free trade agreement. I think that is what a government must do. The current government has been slow. It improvised and was not thorough. Maybe the Prime Minister felt like being on vacation this summer. We, as Conservatives, were ready to move that file forward and expedite the process. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister's answer to our leader was that it was not possible for him to do anything and that things would take their course. That is the reason why we are debating this bill today.
As I mentioned earlier, the agreement will come into effect 60 days after six countries have signed it. If we delay, if we are not one of the first six countries, it means that we are not helping to speed up the implementation of this agreement. Does the Liberal government really want to open markets? That is rather odd. Last Sunday evening, at 10 p.m., on the Lord’s Day, the Prime Minister decided to hold a cabinet meeting here. Now he wakes up. There is an emergency and we need to move quickly. The government’s amateurism shows us that it has irresponsibly sped things up too quickly with the USMCA. The “C” stands for little Canada, which is in the trio along with the large market of the United States.
This government is just not consistent, and that is what is unfortunate. The Liberals have sped up the process. I have no idea what bit them, although in October flies are usually hibernating. In any case, I do not know what bit the Prime Minister to make him decide to speed up the process and give without taking.
I am not an expert negotiator. I was not at the negotiating table with the United States. When one negotiates, there is usually give and take. There is leverage. One agrees to sacrifice “X” as long as the other party gives “Y”. It is an old principle and it does not take a genius to make sure that there is a give and take. I said it in English so that everyone understands. That is what negotiating is all about.
Let us look at what the Liberal government took in exchange for what it gave. I have to say that I do not see anything in my notes. Nothing was gained. We give, we celebrate, we are happy and we say, “well done, mission accomplished”. Yes, it is important to have a market with the United States, but we must not negotiate on bended knee. We have to stand up. A power balance needed to be established. The process was moving along, and then a fly bit someone around the table and it was decided that we had to move very quickly. It is quite dramatic.
Canada came in third in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The United States and Mexico reached an agreement and told Canada it could join if it wanted to, but that, if it was not interested, they would go ahead as planned. Some position of power. Our Prime Minister’s Liberal government opened up our dairy market for free; the U.S. is still denying our farmers and dairy producers access to its market. At least the CPTPP grants us access to the market.
The government caved in to the United States, allowing it to maintain the surtaxes on steel, aluminum and softwood lumber. We conceded, we negotiated, the other side found ways of exerting pressure, but then, after we came to an agreement, it failed to remove that pressure. That is quite something.
In addition, the agreement extends the data protection period for pharmaceuticals. That means that it will cost Canadians a lot more to stay healthy. That is an impressive bargaining achievement.
Moreover, limits will be placed on the development of the Canadian auto industry. Now there are quotas, where before there were none. What did we get in return?
There is a lot more in the agreement. I cannot address every item. That being said, the more we read, the more we find out, and the devil is in the details. What I am about to say has never been heard before: we will have to ask the President of the United States for permission before we enter into any trade agreements with other countries. I am about to fall off my chair—well, not literally. I do not understand.
Our Prime Minister, however, is happy with the negotiations. As I have said before, it is important to have a free trade agreement with the United States, since the U.S. market is very important for Canadians. It represents practically 80% of our exports. It is important, but not at any cost. The government just managed to survive the negotiations, and it is thrilled. We, however, got nothing in return.
We are told that the negotiations are over. A company in my riding, Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, does business in the U.S. and Canada. Unfortunately, its product is on the list of products saddled with surtaxes, a tool the U.S. used to exert pressure during the negotiations. If the company develops products in the U.S. to meet U.S. and Canadian needs and then imports them into Canada, it will have to pay a surtax.
Not to mention any names, Biscuits Leclerc is a well-known company with facilities in 20 countries. It is a Canadian company, and its head office is located in Canada. I am extremely pleased to say that it is located in my riding, more particularly in the Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures industrial park. How important is the company? The industrial park is called the “Parc industriel François-Leclerc” in recognition of the company’s decision to set up its head office there. The company is prosperous and believes in us—and we believe in it.
I will get back to my story. The company produces cookies and ships them to Canada. It produces its own products and exports them to Canada. Do you know what the annual surtax is for the company? One million dollars. The surtax is still in effect, despite the fact that the government is thrilled that everything is settled and proud of what a good job it did in the negotiations. That is quite an example of success.
After signing the agreement, Donald Trump gave a victory speech at a press conference. He was happy. He won, but what did Canada win? It barely survived.
The agreement has been negotiated, but the negotiations are not finished, since there are still surtaxes on both sides of the border, for example on steel and cookies. We were even told that the surtax on steel and aluminum would remain as a matter of national security. Why did we not use food safety during the negotiations to justify holding firm on supply management? Canadian producers’ standards and controls for dairy and other types of production are higher in Canada in terms of safety and hygiene. Health Canada is doing a good job, but the rules are not the same in the U.S.
When we trade with another country or market with lower standards, that means that their production costs are lower. They can produce more at a lower cost. That is unfair competition. Why did the Liberal government negotiators not use food safety as an argument to close the door on supply management? The government told Canadian farmers that it would protect supply management. Great job! It protected nothing, and managed to open a breach. The other agreements included compensation and market access.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister met with farmers. He told them that the minister might give them full compensation. Now the government is backpedalling. People are seeing what we in the House have known for three years. This government is not in control. It consults, it talks the talk, but it is not proactive. Take, for example, the CPTPP, which we are discussing today. It is based on our government's work and I am very proud of that. We must have done something right at some point. Canada's economy is what it is because of the Conservative Party.
We did plenty of things right. Many Canadians I speak to, and I will have the opportunity to meet others because I will be in my riding next week, keep telling me that they miss the previous government, and that is music to my ears. It makes me happy. Canadians are beginning to see this government’s true colours after its constant failures this summer.
I have a piece of advice for the Liberals. I am not an expert, but I have my sources. In Business Insider, Jeff Haden gave 12 negotiating tips. I would have commented on each and every one of them, but since I do not have enough time, I will simply list them: go first; be quiet; know what you want — that one brings up big question marks; assume the best case; avoid setting ranges; only make concessions for a reason; avoid getting cornered; make time your friend; ignore face value; give the other person room; forget about winning and losing; and create a relationship.
The Liberal Party negotiators completely failed in many of these areas. In fact, there is nothing to evaluate, since they did not get any results. I will have the opportunity to talk about this a bit more.
As I mentioned in my speech, we will support the agreement. Opening markets is important. First, we need to create wealth, and then we can establish social programs.