Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. I rise today to speak to Bill C-85, the free trade agreement with Israel.
We heard some remarkable speeches today in the House from the Prime Minister, the opposition leader, the leaders of the NDP, and from the Bloc and the Green Party in apology for Canada's turning away of the MS St. Louis.
Remarkably, right after the speeches, we heard my colleague, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, give an impassioned speech in support of concurrence with the committee report on the resettlement of Yazidi women and children in Canada. I really hope that people took notice of that. It is about the same issue, namely, people who are facing genocide in a foreign land and that we are not doing our part to help. I hope the government will listen to the comments by my colleague, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, so that Canadians do not have to sit here a generation from now to hear another apology for turning our backs on these people.
Before I get back to Bill C-85, I want to express, as I am sure everyone in the House does, my sorrow about the horror of the murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue a short time ago, an act of violent anti-Semitism and a reminder that this hatred still exists in our world today.
On a per capita basis in Canada, anti-Semitism is unfortunately still the most prevalent hate crime reported. The main synagogue in my riding of Edmonton West, Beth Israel, is a place of worship for a lot of friends of mine. I often visit for events, and I was there this Saturday for the drop-in for Shabbat. One thing I noticed as I approached was a police car across the street providing security and security at the door.
We do not see that security at any other place of worship in Canada, not at the Catholic church I attend, nor the Baptist church that one of my sons goes to for sporting events, nor at other places of worship, such as the mosque that several of my friends attend. It is only at the synagogue. It is disgraceful and very unfortunate in this day and age that this is still required in Canada, the United States, and other parts of the world.
What does this say about our society in Canada in this day and age that a synagogue still requires security? What does it say when a lunatic spouting violent anti-Semitic remarks goes out and kills 11 worshippers in a synagogue? It says that anti-Semitism, unfortunately, is still alive and well and strong.
I belong to an organization called Christians United for Israel. We have about 90,000 members in Canada. There are about 3 million members in the U.S. Why do I belong to it? Well, it is because the scourge of anti-Semitism still flourishes.
Today's debate is on trade with Israel, and I cannot discuss trade with Israel without noting the burgeoning anti-Semitic movement in Canada called BDS, the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement, which works to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. I will call the BDS movement what I believe it is, an anti-Semitic movement.
BDS supporters, hand over heart, will claim they are not anti-Jewish, that they are just anti-Israel. I think we need to call a spade a spade. BDS supporters claim its intent is to move Palestinian-Israeli negotiations forward. Fine and dandy, but it is funny that they are oddly silent about Turkey and Iraq bombing Kurdistan. They are oddly silent about Turkish products from illegally occupied Northern Cyprus. They are oddly silent in response to calls to sanction Morocco for its seizure of Western Sahara.
I have to ask, where is the outrage of the BDS supporters about Russia's illegal invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine? It is funny, I do not see them marching at universities over the tenfold increase in Russian imports into Canada over the last 10 years. Where is their outrage about the Saudi war in Yemen? I do not see them protesting up and down the St. Lawrence as tanker after tanker of Saudi crude sails in. However, I am sure we will see these same people screaming about the injustice of having an Israeli soda stream device for sale in a local store.
The leftists complain that Trump promotes violence with his rhetoric. I believe that BDS and its proponents do the same thing: they promote anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish messaging. To those who say they are not anti-Semitic, just anti-Israel, I say, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.
Why should we support this updated agreement with Israel? Well, Israel is the freest and most democratic nation in the Middle East. It is the only Liberal democracy in that part of the world, and reflects many of the values and beliefs that Canadians hold dear, including respect for democracy, the rule of law, tolerance of a multi-racial and multi-religious society, and tolerance of gender and sexual expression rights.
Israel is called a start-up nation for a reason. It is probably the most innovative nation in the entire world. It ranks first in the world for its attitude toward entrepreneurial risk and for the growth of innovative companies, and it is second, only after the U.S., for venture capital availability. It ranks 20th out of 140 countries listed in the latest competitiveness report for the freeness of economy. Canada can only gain by partnering and having stronger economic ties with such a country.
The fastest growth rates in Israel, averaging 8% annually, are to be found in its high-tech sectors, and 80% of its high-tech products are exported. However, despite all of this, despite its investment in R and D, despite 5.5% of its GDP going for national defence, I would like to point out to my colleagues across the way that the country of Israel still manages to have a budgetary surplus year after year.
As I mentioned, economically, Israel is a high-tech powerhouse, and we can only gain by strengthening our relationship with it. For Canadian companies, we can get improved access to it our agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports. We can get improved border efficiencies, better regulatory transparency and reduced red tape. However, it is odd that the Liberals, who are so in love with regulatory red tape and never pass on a chance to further burden our economy with it, love Israel for the fact that it is going to reduce red tape.
The bill has several new chapters. The new chapter on electronic commerce would commit Canada and Israel to not introduce tariffs and other barriers to commerce. The chapter on intellectual property would affirm commitments between Canada and Israel under the World Trade Organization to ensure proper protection of IP rights. The technical barriers to trade chapter would ensure that technical regulation, conformity assessment procedures and other standards-related measures could not be used as unjustified barriers to trade. The trade and environment chapter would ensure that Canada and Israel pursue high levels of environmental protection while realizing the benefit of liberalized trade. There is a new chapter on trade and labour, which would ensure effective enforcement of labour laws. The chapter on trade facilitation would enhance border efficiencies, increase regulatory transparency and reduce red tape for Canadian businesses. If only the government were as committed to reducing red tape in Canada as it is to trade with Israel. However, both countries would also benefit from an updated dispute settlement agreement and better rules of origin labelling.
We have much to gain from our friends in Israel. As I mentioned, it is literally the only Liberal democracy in the Middle East. It is a world leader in technological innovation. We also see that it leads in pharmaceutical innovation.
Before a friend of mine unfortunately passed away from ALS, he was a test subject who had his body equipped with a robotic walker so he could enjoy the final year of his life being able to walk. These are all advancements made by the Israeli tech industry, which is something Canada can gain from very much.
I would like to end with a quote from the great Milton Friedman about trade, who said:
The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.
I believe the amendments to this trade agreement would benefit both Canada and Israel, as well as our allies.