Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak on the subject of trade again. In the 21 years I have been in Parliament I have spoken on numerous occasions on our country's trade agenda. It is critically important, we all know. We are a small population with large natural resources, so foreign trade is extremely important for us.
In the early days, our trade with the U.S.A. was very high. We had a great trade relationship with the U.S.A. with our integrated economies. At that time we were in the opposition and we had a Liberal government in power. The Liberals talk about their trade agenda today, but they moved very slowly. At the time of prime ministers Chrétien and Martin, they did not sign too many trade agreements. They talked a lot about it, but they did not sign any meaningful trade agreements.
Also, during that period of time the NDP was expressing some concern. Let us be very clear. The NDP has always opposed any trade agreement.
Then we recognized the fact that Canada needed to open up its markets and not rely on one market. Henceforth, our government's efforts were directed toward that, with the help of the department of foreign trade and foreign affairs. We have some very excellent public service officers who have had extreme experience in negotiating trade deals. They are non-partisan, and look after the interests of Canada. I want to make that point very clearly, because this government is trying to put their work down as if the public servants in the departments do not know what is good for Canada. The fact of the matter is, when our Conservative government came into power it realized that we needed to push this agenda very strongly. As my colleague has stated about the number of trade agreements we signed, let us not forget how many FIP agreements we signed around the world as well, because FIPA is the first step in going into international trade. The member for Abbotsford, who led the file, worked extremely hard to ensure the groundwork was laid. Let us make it very clear that the groundwork was laid by the Conservatives.
The groundwork for CETA was laid by our government. The groundwork for TPP was laid by our government. NAFTA was, again, the Conservatives under Brian Mulroney. As we go forward, the groundwork for all trade agreements was done by the Conservatives.
Sure enough, when we changed government, the Liberals now recognize that these trade agreements are important. However, as usual, trying to please everyone, they do not look at the bigger picture and were more concerned with other agendas, and less for trade. It was only after the president of the U.S.A. started saying he wanted to renegotiate NAFTA, and with so many conditions, that we now face a situation where we need new markets. Suddenly, the Liberals have woken up. We cannot forget the Prime Minister leaving the other leaders waiting in Vietnam for them to talk about TPP. All the other leaders were there.
We get an idea of what the Liberals are talking about in changing the TPP. We had been negotiating with the same governments for a long period of time. Do they think they have suddenly changed and have started accepting what the Liberal government is trying to say, and that the markets have changed in the TPP? That is nonsense. They have their position. Even though they are tinkering to make it look like it is a Liberal agenda, it was our government that laid the groundwork, and as far as it is concerned, it is delayed again.
With the Trans Mountain pipeline now dropped, getting our resources to tidewater has been delayed and the impact on the economy is very strong. Now we see no pipeline to tidewater, no oil going out, and NAFTA now under challenge.
Now, suddenly, the Liberals have woken up and are saying they need TPP. Before that, if these things had not happened, the government's lacklustre agenda on trade would have been moving very slowly. Therefore, today I will say very clearly that I am very glad to have spoken in the House for 21 years on trade promotion for Canada, and to be the last speaker on this so that we can get this thing going very quickly. We need it implemented so we can get Canadian businesses working.
Indeed, the NDP will always voice concerns about it and talk about job losses. However, the great part of the whole thing is that when the economy moves forward collectively, everybody gains. Even though there might be a slight change in a sector, they will gain over the long term. If we contract our market, then the loss of jobs is far higher than we can anticipate.
Talking about farmers, my colleague sitting next to me is a successful farmer in Alberta, and he is also looking for markets to sell his crop. Therefore, when the NDP members say that the farmers are very worried, I can say that my colleague sitting next to me who is a farmer is not worried. He is looking for the opportunity that will allow him to sell his grain on the world market. This is what Canadian businesses are looking for. Therefore, let us look at the larger picture of what is important for this country. It is important for this country to have good trade agreements, so that Canadian businesses have a level playing field with other countries.
Trade agreements make level playing fields. As we see with China, we have an unlevel playing field. China has its own rules, which are not compatible with ours, and this is why the Chinese are not very keen. Neither were we, as the Conservative government, keen on opening free trade with China, because we have different regulations and systems. However, with other countries, and now with the opening market of Japan and all of these countries, we are looking at the growing economies of the world. We should be part of this growth, so that Canadians can benefit with jobs, jobs, jobs. Therefore, we need a collective approach from the government so that we can move forward.
I have to say one thing. I want to tell you guys here to wake up and smell the—