Mr. Speaker, it has been an interesting debate. I was here the other day when we were talking about Bill S-6. It goes to show that members on both sides of the House really want to have that discussion about taxation and Canada's economy. There is a lot of contrast between the Conservatives, New Democrats and the Liberals on those types of issues. What I thought I would do is provide what I think is a fairly accurate snapshot in terms of the types of things that we have seen, and Bill S-6 is a good example of that.
Bill S-6 is about Madagascar and Canada achieving a tax agreement. However, tax agreements are not new. There are tax agreements between Canada and many other countries, but when we look at the bigger picture, we see that Canada is in fact a trading nation. In order to sustain ourselves going forward, trade is critical and of the upmost importance for all Canadians, whether they are directly, indirectly or not at all engaged in trade, particularly with the exports of services, goods, technology and so forth.
Over the last few years, we have seen the government, on a number of fronts, focus its attention on Canada's middle class, and one of the ways was by dealing with the issue of tax fairness between Canada and other countries. One of things we have to look at is the OECD and the tax conventions. We have to take a look at the individual tax agreements that we have been able to achieve, and Canada has seen dozens of tax agreements achieved over the last number of years. All of this assists us in facilitating trade and investment. We are very much dependent on that.
I have stood in my place on numerous occasions talking about the importance of the middle class. When we talk about how we support the middle class, we address it directly by saying that, as a government, the first thing we did was bring in legislation to cut the taxes for Canada's middle class, which was a very popular piece of legislation, at least on this side of the House. It was very well received by Canadians throughout the country, because it literally put hundreds of millions of dollars directly into the pockets of Canadians. However, less direct but just as supportive for Canada's middle class is our aggressive trade agenda, which takes place in different forms, such as in legislation, budgetary announcements and discussions among different levels of government, with ministers and internationally with governments around the world.
In a relatively short period of time, we have seen a good number of agreements reached between Canada and other countries. The previous speaker made reference to Stephen Harper and 50-plus trade agreements, but that is not necessarily accurate. However, I will give credit where it is mostly due, and that is with some incredible civil servants who have been at the table negotiating on Canadians' behalf. They recognize the importance of international two-way trade and the potential for agreements with many different countries.
Within a few months of our taking office, our Prime Minister was in Ukraine, signing off on a trade agreement. We were all very proud of that. There is a valid argument to be made that a good portion of that work was in fact done by the previous administration, but let there be no doubt that it was actually finalized through this government.
The significant trade agreement that has so much opportunity for firms and companies across Canada has to be the European Union trade agreement. This agreement was off the rails. It was because we were aggressive on that trade agreement that we were able to get it back on track and ultimately bring it across the line. We still have to see other countries sign off on it and so forth, but that was an agreement that was achieved under this administration.
We can also talk about the trans-Pacific partners that we have, and the trade agreements that have been achieved there. Earlier today, I was talking to one of our ministers, and he was mentioning that because Canada was one of the original six who actually passed it off, we were able to deal with some other issues that allowed us to benefit more than other trading partners within the trans-Pacific agreement, which has enhanced our export sales of industries dealing with pork, cattle and more.
Whenever I hear of pork being sold outside of Canada, I think of the fabulous, fantastic pork industry that we have in the province of Manitoba. We actually have more pigs in Manitoba on an annual basis than we have people. We are a great exporter of the best pigs, I would argue, in the world. We have a product that is in high demand, and it is creating thousands of jobs in my home province. In Brandon, Winnipeg or Neepawa, three beautiful communities in Manitoba, we get a sense of the size of the pork industry, not to mention the many farmers and other individuals within our agricultural community. There are many success stories as a result of that one industry.
There are many different industries out there that have benefited directly as a result of the aggressive trade agenda of this government. That is something that has assisted in the generation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the last three years. That is something that should be recognized, at least in part.
When we talk about the tax agreements with other nations, we should be reflecting on how important it is, as much as possible, to get that level playing field. Having these tax agreements allows us to move that much further ahead in serving Canadians, because it is about trade and investments.
We understand how important it is to watch and be very diligent about tax avoidance and tax evasion, and we know they are very different. I would like to think that as a government we have been very progressive in our thinking and actions to ensure we are minimizing the amount of evasion and avoidance out there.
A couple of years ago, the Minister of National Revenue, the minister responsible for the CRA, announced well over $400 million to deal with individuals trying not to pay what we would argue is their fair share of taxes, through tax avoidance.
When we think of the money that is lost as a direct result of both avoidance and evasion, we are going into the hundreds of millions, into billions of dollars on an annual basis. It is hard to believe that for 10 years, while Stephen Harper was our prime minister, very little was done on that file. It took our government to say we need to put additional resources in the budget in order to ensure that the CRA is better equipped to go after those who are avoiding paying taxes, or those who are evading paying their fair share.
It is not like it was a commitment of just one budget. The following year, once again, we saw hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the CRA in order to again deal with the issue of tax avoidance and evasion. In total, we are probably looking at somewhere in the neighbourhood of close to a billion dollars of additional resources that have been allocated in order for us to deal with those two very important issues.
As a government, we see these tax agreements. Today, it is about Madagascar. We have seen other tax agreements achieved that allow the Canada Revenue Agency and the many different departments involved to continue to build relationships with other countries through tax agreements.
Most countries around the world recognize that in order for us to move forward where there is more world wealth, we need to do what we can to enhance trade. There is a sense of competition, and we have to be in a position to compete.
I differ from my colleague across the way, when he said that all we have to do is lower taxes and the jobs will come. Arguably, that is the formula Stephen Harper attempted with the boutique taxes. He reduced the GST. I will give him that. However, we need to recognize the economic performance of the 10 years of Stephen Harper's governance. We will find that in many ways the economy moved ever so slowly forward. We have created more jobs in three years than the Conservatives did in over 10 years.
My friend across the way talked about investment and said investment is leaving the country. The Conservatives have to take some responsibility for that loss of investment. The example the speaker before me gave was in reference to our oil industry. He talked about investments leaving the country because of pipelines not being built. I would challenge members across the way to reflect on that. On these tax agreements and trade agreements, we believe Canada has the competitive edge. If we are on a level playing field, we will do exceptionally well.
I think of what we could have been doing as a government, because we need to recognize that there is a role for the government. Far too often, the previous administration would step aside and not take action. Let me use the very same example that the previous speaker used, the issue of pipelines.
Over 99% of the oil that comes out of our ground goes first to the U.S. through the lines that are currently in place. That was the case when Stephen Harper became the prime minister of Canada. When Stephen Harper lost the election in 2015, that was still the case. The Conservatives were completely reliant on the U.S. market, and that is one of the reasons that sector is hurting today.
When the Conservatives talk about taxation fairness and the importance of tax agreements and so forth, yes, that is really important. However, when my colleague from across the way tries to give the impression that it is the only thing the government needs to do, he is wrong in that assertion.
We have a government that was prepared to move forward to get that commodity to new markets. We were able to acknowledge that by setting up a process that takes into consideration indigenous issues, environmental issues and others. It might not be happening as fast as the opposition members would like, but they had 10 years and it did not change.
If we go back to the issue of trade and commerce, and how we attract investments, I would suggest that in the future we will see many of those oil or commodity dollars continue to be invested in Canada, because we are in many ways giving attention to issues of our environment, with green technology as an example.
When we look at the future of exportation, we are going to be at an advantage or have a competitive edge because we have a government that recognizes that. We have a government that not only goes out to secure trade agreements and tax agreements but also recognizes that there are other ways in which it can contribute.
That is why having Canada's investment bank, having investment hubs and supporting our economic diversification funds have all become very important to this government. If we can build on taxation fairness and trade and investment, we will have a healthier economy. On many occasions I have indicated that if we have a healthy economy, we will have a healthier middle class. Those aspiring to be a part of it, those individuals who are in need and in fact all Canadians will benefit.
It is taking a holistic approach at developing Canada's economy and being sensitive to the areas and stakeholders that we need to be listening to. At the same time, I know that these tax agreements and trade agreements are not something that have happened overnight. They have taken years to develop. I recognize that the two major parties in the House can share some of the credit in terms of the trade we have seen.
I am running out of time. To conclude my remarks, I would like to thank members for the opportunity to speak on a very important issue.