House of Commons Hansard #431 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was deal.


Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2019 / 11:15 a.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

moved that Bill C-100, An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by acknowledging that we are meeting on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

I am pleased to rise in the House today to support Bill C-100, the new NAFTA implementation act.

Because of its size and geography, Canada has always been a trading nation. Exports are the very bedrock of our economy and account for fully one-third of our GDP. Imports supply our businesses, fuel our production and meet consumers' needs. Naturally, for geographic reasons, a significant proportion of those exports and imports are with our biggest trading partner, the United States.

The vast majority of them cross the border tariff-free because of our North American free trade agreement. The region covered by this North American free trade agreement is now the largest economic region in the world. Together, Canada, the United States and Mexico account for a quarter of the world's GDP, with just 7% of the global population. We exchange goods, services, investment and people in a growing market that now encompasses 486 million consumers and is worth some US$22 trillion.

Every day, more than two billion dollars' worth of trade and investment move back and forth between Canada and the United States. Our continental supply chains have strengthened North America's ability to compete and to succeed in the global marketplace, and we benefit from that strength here in Canada.

This successful trading arrangement was the foundation upon which we built the agreement being debated here today, and I am pleased to be here to speak in support of the new NAFTA.

When the U.S. administration announced that it would seek to renegotiate NAFTA, we saw an opportunity to update, modernize and improve a trade agreement that was already a strong foundation for North American commerce. We knew that in order to be effective, it was critical that we present a united front and speak for all Canadians in our negotiation.

We came to the negotiating table united as a country. Throughout our intense negotiations, we stayed focused on what matters most to Canadians: jobs, growth and expanding the middle class. We knew these priorities were Canadians' priorities because we spoke with Canadians, industry, agriculture and labour across the country. We sought advice and insight across party lines and asked current and former politicians, including many premiers and mayors, for their help in shaping Canada's priorities and in championing them.

Crucially, we created a NAFTA advisory council, which counted among its members former politicians from the NDP and the Conservatives, as well as business leaders, labour leaders, agricultural leaders and indigenous leaders.

I would like to pause here to thank the council for the excellent work it has done and continues to do on behalf of our great country.

I would also like to thank Canadians from all across the country, especially from business, labour, agriculture, politicians of all stripes, premiers and mayors for their hard work on the new NAFTA. This was a true team Canada effort, and I am so proud of the way our whole country approached these sometimes difficult negotiations.

I also want to thank my hon. colleagues throughout this House for their advocacy and insight throughout this process. So many of them have been integral to our work.

Throughout the negotiation, we kept our cool in the face of uncertainty and worked on getting a new agreement that would preserve jobs and market access, and in turn, support the middle class and economic growth. We held firm. We held out for a good deal and that is what we have today.

I would be remiss if I failed to note that a major obstacle remained even after the agreement was signed in Buenos Aires last November: the United States' unjust and illegal section 232 tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

When the United States imposed the tariffs, Canada immediately took retaliatory measures by imposing counter-tariffs. Canada stood its ground, asserting that the tariffs were inappropriate between two countries that not only are key national security allies but also have a free trade agreement. We made that clear to the American administration, members of Congress, union leaders and business leaders south of the border. We also made it clear that it would be very difficult to ratify the new agreement as long as the tariffs remained in place.

On May 17, we succeeded in getting the steel and aluminum tariffs eliminated.

As I said when I recently met with workers in Regina and in Saguenay, here is why we have succeeded in getting those tariffs lifted. We knew the facts were on our side. We knew that Canada did not represent a national security threat to the United States. We knew our trade with the United States in steel is balanced and reciprocal. We stayed united. We were patient. We persevered, and in the end, we prevailed.

Now that the tariffs have been fully lifted, we are ready to move forward with the ratification of the new NAFTA. Our aim was to preserve Canada's preferential access to our largest and closest market, and that is what we achieved. This is essential for our businesses, our entrepreneurs, our farmers, and for the millions of jobs and all the middle-class families across Canada who rely on a strong trade relationship with our neighbour.

We succeeded in preserving key elements of NAFTA, including chapter 19, the all-important dispute settlement mechanism. No trading relationship is ever without irritants. In the case of the Canada-U.S. relationship, we are aware of the importance of maintaining an effective mechanism to settle disputes. For us, this was non-negotiable.

Over the years, we have used dispute settlement mechanisms many times to make impartial decisions for Canadian industry and workers, particularly in the case of softwood lumber.

We also protected the cultural exception. Canada’s cultural industries provide more than 650,000 jobs across the country. Beyond this vital economic role, they are integral to our ability to maintain a strong sense of national identity, tell our stories and express our culture in all of its diversity. By preserving this exception, we will ensure that Canadian culture is protected and that our unique linguistic and cultural identity will not be jeopardized.

NAFTA is an agreement that is a quarter of a century old. In preparing for this negotiation, we heard from Canadian exporters that there were a lot of bread-and-butter issues preventing them from taking full advantage of the deal. We heard what Canadian businesses needed and we responded.

The new NAFTA includes important updates that will modernize our deal for the 21st century and simplify life for Canadian exporters. In fact, in our consultations before the start of the negotiations, we found that about 40% of Canadians doing business with the U.S. did not bother to use their NAFTA preferences at all. It is a stunning number. The new NAFTA will make life easier for business people on both sides of the border by cutting red tape and harmonizing regulations.

Our job as a government is to safeguard economic gains and prevent economic threats. That is what we have done through this modernized agreement.

Consider Canada's automotive sector, which contributes $19 billion to our country's annual GDP. This is a sector that directly employs more than 125,000 people with an additional 400,000 jobs created in after-market services and dealership networks. Unfair tariffs on Canadian cars and car parts would threaten our economy and hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs and the families they support. Canada was able to negotiate a gold-plated insurance policy for Canadian automobiles and auto parts, protecting our industry from future potential section 232 tariff measures by the U.S. on cars and car parts. This provides added stability and predictability for the car sector and reaffirms Canada as an attractive investment destination.

In addition, the new NAFTA's rules of origin chapter addresses automotive manufacturing wages in North America by including a labour value content requirement. This means that a percentage of the value of a tariff-free NAFTA vehicle must be produced by workers earning at least $16 U.S. an hour. This is a provision that should help level the playing field for Canadian workers.

The new agreement seeks to improve labour standards and working conditions in all three countries. The labour chapter contains key provisions that support fair and inclusive trade, such as enforceable obligations to address issues related to migrant workers, forced or compulsory labour and violence against union members. It promotes increased trade and investment opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses through the small business chapter.

Perhaps one of the achievements I am most proud of is that the investor-state dispute resolution system, which in the past allowed foreign companies to sue Canada, will be gone. This means that Canada can make its own rules about public health and safety, for example, without the risk of being sued. Known as ISDS, this provision has cost Canadian taxpayers more than $300 million in penalties and legal fees.

Over the past 25 years, North American trade in agriculture and agri-food products has nearly quadrupled. Canada and the U.S. enjoy one of the largest agricultural trading relationships in the world. It is worth more than $48 billion U.S. a year. Under this new agreement, Canadian exporters will continue to benefit, including new market access for Canadian exports of refined sugar, sugar-containing products, and margarine. This is significant for our farmers and our food industry.

Importantly, the agreement preserves and maintains Canada's system of supply management for dairy, poultry and egg products, despite strong attempts by the U.S. to dismantle it. While the new NAFTA introduces a specific amount of liberalization of market access, the future of supply management itself—production control, pricing mechanisms and import controls—is not in doubt. To mitigate the impact of these changes, the government will compensate producers for any loss of market share and work with them to further strengthen their industry.

Our shared North American environment is vital to our economic prosperity. The new NAFTA will ensure that our trading partners do not gain an unfair competitive advantage by failing to enforce their environmental laws. It also includes a new environment chapter, subject to the same dispute settlement mechanism, to help uphold air quality and fight marine pollution.

We secured a general exception related to the rights of indigenous peoples. We have ensured that the environment chapter recognizes the important role of indigenous peoples in conservation, sustainable fisheries and forest management.

The new labour chapter includes a non-discrimination clause for employment and occupation, and addresses barriers to the full participation of women in the workforce.

We also ensured that LBGTQ2 individuals are supported. In fact, the new NAFTA is the first international trade deal that recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination in its labour chapter.

In renewing and modernizing NAFTA, it is important to underscore the importance of our long-standing and mutually beneficial trade relationship with the United States. Our relationship is special and enduring because of our geography and history. It is special and enduring because of our close business, family and personal ties. It has been a significant contributor to jobs, economic growth and prosperity in both countries.

Our partnership with Mexico is critically important as well, and the new NAFTA will ensure that the trilateral North American relationship remains mutually beneficial for years to come.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank United States trade representative Ambassador Bob Lighthizer; the former Mexican secretary of the economy, lldefonso Guajardo; his successor, the current Mexican Secretary of the Economy, Graciela Márquez; and Mexican Undersecretary Jesús Seade. All of us worked hard together, and in the end, we achieved a win-win-win deal for our three countries.

With regard to ratification, insofar as it is possible, we intend to move in tandem with our partners. I am in very close contact with my counterparts in both countries as we discuss our domestic ratification processes.

Our government's purpose is to create the conditions to grow a stronger middle class and improve opportunities for all Canadians. That is what we have achieved with the new NAFTA, and this is something all Canadians can be proud of.

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.


Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Madam Speaker, the minister is talking about ratification. I would ask her to talk in a little more detail about what that may look like here in Canada, given what is going on in the U.S. right now. The Democrats do not seem that eager to move forward with ratification. What is the thought process of the government when it comes to ratification? Is this something we are looking at doing before we leave here for the summer? Given the fact that we are here for only two more weeks, it does not sound like we are in lockstep with the U.S. Is it something the government would consider calling Parliament back in the summertime to ratify?

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Madam Speaker, the NAFTA negotiations themselves, as my colleague knows, was a trilateral process, with three governments working together. The domestic ratification process is about the domestic processes in each sovereign country.

Our view is that first, it is very important for us to focus on our own domestic ratification process, just as each of our partners will be focusing on their domestic ratification processes. We are very clear that just as I do not think anyone in the House would appreciate Americans or Mexicans coming to Canada and opining on our domestic ratification process, we feel that it is inappropriate for us to opine on the ratification processes in our NAFTA partner countries.

Having said that, we also believe that the best outcome for Canada is to have a process that, as far as possible, moves in tandem with our partners. That requires a lot of close collaboration. I am in fact travelling to Washington tomorrow, where I will meet with Ambassador Lighthizer and with members of Congress to get a little more insight into the U.S. domestic ratification process and share some perspectives on our own legislative process, which can be mysterious to—

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Essex.

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.


Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, only the Liberals could describe something as a win-win-win that would raise the cost of medications for all Canadians, and frankly, for everyone in all three countries. We know that there is an effort afoot in the U.S. right now to remove this regressive provision, which the Liberals apparently do not want to go along with, for some reason.

When we talk about raising the cost of drugs, this goes against everything Canadians are calling for right now. Right now we have one of the highest costs in the world for drugs. I am talking about biologics, insulin, medications for Crohn's disease and treatment for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Why exactly have the Liberals agreed to increase the cost of medications and give big pharma exactly what it was looking for in this new deal?

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Essex for her hard work on this agreement. I just want to be very clear that reopening this agreement would be opening a Pandora's box.

All Canadians saw how difficult, at times, this negotiation was. They saw the very difficult demands that were put on the table and that Canada, with real resilience, managed to resist, demands like getting rid of chapter 19, demands like getting rid of the cultural exemption and demands like a U.S. national content requirement for the car sector, which would have been devastating to the member's constituents. We worked really hard, and we got a deal that resisted those demands.

It would be foolhardy, it would be toying with the lives and jobs of Canadians, to reopen this negotiation, and we will not.

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.


Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

Madam Speaker, as I come from Surrey—Newton in British Columbia, I want to commend the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs for her strong leadership in getting this deal done.

I would like to ask the minister this. How is this new agreement going to help British Columbians?

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his hard work on this agreement and for the very many conversations we have had about it. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the provincial government of British Columbia, which was a very important and very constructive partner in this negotiation.

I would like to particularly, actually, give a shout-out to the Premier of British Columbia. There were a couple of difficult moments when I was in Washington, and he sent me some reassuring text messages. I want to take this opportunity to say to the premier that that meant a lot.

I think the reason our B.C. caucus, the government of B.C. and mayors in B.C. were so supportive was that British Columbia is a province that understands how important trade is, how important trade is for the softwood lumber industry in B.C. and how important trade is for the city of Vancouver.

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very happy to see that the proportionality clause has been eliminated from NAFTA. I am glad to see that the investor-state dispute settlement provisions, ISDS, have been eliminated as well. I would like to see ISDS removed from all our trade agreements and from our FIPA agreements, specifically from the Canada–China FIPA, which the Conservatives passed without a vote in the House of Commons. These agreements are detrimental to our sovereignty and to our democratic authority in this place.

I am disappointed about the provisions for extending patents. I am also disappointed about the provisions for allowing American dairy to come into Canada. I wonder if the minister could explain how dairy will be labelled and what we will do about BGH, bovine growth hormone, in milk from the United States.

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Madam Speaker, let me start by thanking the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith for his question. I think it is one of the first questions he has asked in the House, and it is nice to be having this conversation.

I am also grateful to the member for raising the question of the proportionality clause, or the ratchet clause, which bound Canada to sell a certain proportion of its energy exports to the United States. This is a clause that is gone, and I think that is another real victory for Canada.

I share the member's view, as I said in my comments, that getting rid of ISDS in our trading relationship with the United States is another real win for Canada. As I mentioned, ISDS has cost Canadians more than $300 million, and it has had, academics believe, a regulatory chilling effect in terms of our own ability to regulate for health, safety, the environment and so on.

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to go back to something the minister said about opening Pandora's box. In the United States, there are good examples of times when trade agreements have been opened. In fact, in May 2007, the House Democrats, under Ms. Pelosi, did just that. They opened four existing trade agreements. They were very targeted. They went after specific things, and not with the fearmongering of the Liberals today about a Pandora's box. It was actually a precedent for doing exactly what they are trying to achieve right now.

There is no rush to ratify this agreement. The U.S. has not even put this on the floor of its Congress. It has not taken one step towards it, to be honest.

I saw Ms. Pelosi last week, and she assured me that it will not happen until they can come to an understanding on labour, on the environment and on removing the patent extension for drugs.

I am quite encouraged by the work that is happening in the States. I am shocked that the Liberals do not want to be part of this. Why are the Liberals rushing ratification through and not standing up for progressive trade?

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Madam Speaker, let me correct my hon. colleague on a point of fact. The U.S. has, in fact, taken a couple of initial steps to begin the clock on the ratification process. That work has begun.

I am absolutely clear, as I believe are the overwhelming majority of Canadians, that we do not want and we do not need a new NAFTA negotiation. Canada has done its work. We have our deal. We are not going to create an opportunity to have this hard-won agreement, with gains for Canada preserving our market access, put in jeopardy.

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Madam Speaker, as has been mentioned before by my colleague from the NDP, I would caution the government to move prudently on this. We have already seen the Democrats not wanting to give Mr. Trump any kind of victory. Therefore, we have not seen a lot of co-operation from the U.S. If we get too far ahead of ourselves regarding ratification, that could be an issue. Therefore, I would echo the comments of my colleague from the NDP that as a result of the uncertainty we see in the U.S., we need to be cautious as we move forward with ratification.

The government's legislation aims to implement the Canada-United States agreement. The government is calling it by its acronym CUSMA. The bill would reaffirm key NAFTA provisions, but it would also introduce new conditions on Canadian trade and economic strategy.

Mexico and especially the United States are Canada's natural trading partners. A framework agreement that governs trade and other commercial issues between all three countries is essential.

I would like to state from the beginning that the Conservatives will support the speedy ratification of CUSMA's implementing legislation. However, having said that, it is also important to say that the deal and how it came to be is not without significant flaws.

In the beginning of negotiations, the Prime Minister pushed an agenda, including issues that were not on the radar of the Americans whatsoever. This nearly derailed the whole deal. It was very similar to what the Prime Minister did just months before negotiations of the trans-Pacific partnership with his erratic behaviour. The government pushed non-trade-related matters, which seemed to irritate the Americans, instead of seeking to find common ground on priorities and mutual interests.

As a result of taking that type of tactic to negotiations, the Americans negotiated most of the steel provisions with the Mexicans and then brought Canada in at the eleventh hour to deal with some of the remaining issues that had not been dealt with. We had an opportunity to be at the table with our most important and significant trading partner, but we were talking about issues the Americans did not want to talk about. As a result, they decided that since we did not want to talk about trade and NAFTA, they would talk to Mexico. We should think about the implications of that. We were not even at the table at the time the agreement came into effect. That speaks volumes to how the government handled this process.

As I said before, of course the Conservatives are going to support the bill. We reached out to stakeholders. I had a chance, like some of my colleagues, to talk to stakeholders across the country. They said that they needed certainty, that they needed a deal. There was no question about that. However, the concern is that the Liberal government talks about what a great deal it is, but that is definitely not the case as we move forward. What stakeholders and people have told us is that a deal is better than no deal. That is why Conservatives will be supporting the bill.

The government did not fight for our own interests. Let us think about that. It talked about the interests that were important to the Liberal Party and its political brand. The Liberals were focused on non-trade issues instead of worrying about the national interests of Canadians.

Let us consider auto manufacturing, agriculture and lumber. After four years, we still do not have a softwood lumber deal. I do not even know if the conversation has been brought up. Despite our many interests, which include auto manufacturing, agriculture, lumber and prescription drugs, the Prime Minister represents his own political interests. That should be very concerning for Canadians.

In addition, during the negotiations, the Americans decided to impose devastating steel and aluminum tariffs for close to a year. This was after months of them asking the Liberals to fix the loopholes that allowed steel dumping into the United States via Canada.

Now we have a bill before us that does not put safeguards in place. The Americans asked us to do this four years ago, but because the Liberals decided it was not important, we ended up with steel and aluminum tariffs. For years our manufacturing sector was under a bunch of uncertainty. We saw our jobs move to the states and a number of other things. Only now are the Liberals reacting. It it almost as though they created the crisis so they could point out they fixed it. That is what Canadians should really understand.

Canadian businesses and producers are still reeling after this very difficult period. The imposition of these very avoidable tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum have served to erode our competitiveness and have impacted thousands across the supply chain. The Liberals announced a $2-billion assistance package for the steel and aluminum sector, but almost none of this money has gone to the workers.

I talked to a number of businesses the other day. They said that before steel and aluminum tariffs were lifted, there was a big push from the government to get their applications in and it wanted to work with them. Then, all of a sudden, there was radio silence.

Are all those companies left holding the bag with respect to not having money and not having access or is the government going to follow through? It is easy to announce and reannounce programs. It is more difficult to ensure the money gets out the door. This is a huge issue. The reality is that these tariffs were avoidable. There was no reason for those steel and aluminum tariffs and the pain that our manufacturing sector has had to endure over the last couple of years.

Once again, the Liberals talk about all the money that has been collected, which I believe almost $2 billion. My point is that very few businesses have received any money. We studied this at committee for quite some time. Company after company said that the application process was difficult and that was hard to figure out how to make this thing work. They also said that they were not getting money. Once again, the announcement talked about the money, but the proof was whether the companies had the kind of help they required, and that was not the case.

This was all avoidable if the government had acted when the Americans asked it to close the loophole that allowed cheap and dumped steel to flood the American market, using Canada as a transit country.

The Liberals have lurched from crisis to crisis on trade and tariffs. They have been constantly out of step with Canadian workers and manufacturers. The government's negotiations of CUSMA also delivered no progress on buy American provisions with respect to government procurement.

Another issue we have not talked about is buy American. It is concerning for our Canadian manufacturers. Are they going to have the ability to access some of those things? It is a major blow to Canadian businesses and jobs across the country.

The Liberals also made concessions on the Canadian supply-managed agriculture sector, which the foreign affairs minister deemed to be key to our national interests . The Americans did not budge when it came to their use of agriculture subsidies. As a matter of fact, we have seen the subsidies grow over the last number of months.

The government and the Prime Minister also made key concessions on intellectual property, which will see provinces burdened with higher costs for biological drugs.

The government also restricted future trade deals, with unparalleled provisions granting Americans an indirect veto over Canadian trade partners. Think about this for one second. This is an issue of sovereignty. While the U.S. negotiates trade deals with China, basically it has told us that we need to get its permission if we want to move forward on any deal with China. This is huge. This was not discussed a whole lot in the general public, but has long-term consequences for our ability to do our job as Canadians and get our products to market.

I will give credit where credit is due. One of the major achievements was to preserve chapter 19, the dispute resolution provisions. The minister mentioned that. It is fair to say that it was a concern if we did not have an independent third party to look at some of our challenges. Therefore, I will give credit to the Liberals on that one, but that will probably be it right now. However, that was definitely important.

A trade deal is judged by what one has gained from the negotiations. In this deal, compared to previous versions, Canada lost a number of key sectors and gained absolutely nothing. However, the Liberals go on tour around the country like they are some kind of heroes and it makes no sense. They have lost ground from previous governments. We do not talk about it as a save, but it could have been a lot worse. However, to travel around the country and say somehow this is an amazing deal for Canadians is just not true.

It has been very clear from the beginning that the Liberal government was unprepared to renegotiate the NAFTA deal. When the negotiations started, the Liberals kept stumbling and in the end, they were forced to take a deal where they lost on many fronts.

As I mentioned earlier, we will support the bill because it is essential to provide our businesses and producers with certainty. We have heard that on the ground. They have also suffered enough under the government. The Liberals have mismanaged the economy and trade. They have created a lot of uncertainty as we move forward.

Another thing we need to point out is that last year the U.S. grew its economy by 3.2%. That was after a government shutdown for the first quarter. In 2018, when the government was shut down for a large part of the first quarter in which it only had 2% growth, it still was able to notch up growth of over 3.2%.

We need to compare our record with that. In the last quarter of 2018, we saw growth at 0.3%. This quarter it was 0.4%, which is not quite a third of that of the U.S. The U.S. economy is on fire right now and the best we can muster is a growth of 0.4%, with all the money we are spending and all the deficits we are creating. The comparative is important to understand.

In order to compete with the United States and Mexico, our business environment needs to be more competitive or else we are setting up our businesses to fail in the face of strong competition from our counterparts to the south.

How is Canada doing with respect to competitiveness? The government has managed to make things worse on this front as well.

Let us start with the most important mistake first, and that is the carbon tax. First, let us just get this out of the way in the beginning. The carbon tax is not an environmental plan; it is a tax plan. It will do nothing for the environment. The Liberals are fully aware of this and Canadians know it as well.

The Liberal carbon tax is not a plan to lower emissions. It is just another cash grab, which is hurting already overtaxed Canadians. Small businesses and their employers are already being overtaxed. The Liberals have increased CPP and EI premiums. They have increased personal income tax rates for entrepreneurs. They have made changes to the small business tax rate that will disqualify thousands of local businesses.

Dan Kelly, president of Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said:

Many small businesses want to take action on climate change, but the carbon tax is putting them further behind. In fact, 71 per cent have told us that the carbon tax makes it harder for them to make further investments to reduce their emissions.

Seventy-one per cent of small businesses have said that the carbon tax makes it harder for them to make further investments to reduce their emissions. What more proof does the government need, when the ill-advised carbon tax makes no impact on the environment and makes our businesses uncompetitive.

Last Friday, the Canadian Press reported that the average carbon tax rebate Canadians received in 2018 was significantly lower than the amount the Liberals had claimed they would receive. When announcing the carbon tax rebate program, the Liberals established the average payment would be $248 in New Brunswick, $307 in Ontario, $336 in Manitoba, and $598 in Saskatchewan. However, the actual average rebates have been much lower: $171 in New Brunswick, $203 in Ontario, $231 in Manitoba and $422 in Saskatchewan.

Like the Prime Minister himself, these carbon tax rebates are simply not as advertised. The Liberals continue to cover up the true costs of the carbon tax. They still have not told Canadians how much more it will cost them for everyday essentials, like groceries, gasoline and home heating.

With less money being returned to Canadians, they will have even less money in their pockets, thanks to the Prime Minister and his Liberal carbon tax. The Liberal carbon tax will go up, if he is re-elected in October. Environment Canada is already planning for $300 per tonne, which is 15 times more expensive than it is today.

Make no mistake, a Conservative government will scrap the carbon tax, leave more money in the pockets of Canadians, let them get ahead and allow our businesses to stay competitive.

How else is the government making Canada's business environment uncompetitive? It is a good question, because Canada recently fell to the lowest spot ever in competitiveness. Canada has fallen out of the top 10 in a ranking of the world's most competitive economies. We are now 13th. Let us think about that. In an age where we are competing with one of the largest and most successful economies in the world, the U.S., which is ranked at number three, not only are we not in the top 10 anymore, we have dropped to 13th.

Competitiveness drives our economy. It helps us to compete when we have deals and when we try to move our goods and services across the border. This will only continue to make it tougher for Canadians to succeed financially in the coming years.

As I mentioned, the United States is number three. We are trying to compete with the world's biggest economy and it is tough when we see it use tax reform and regulation reform. What we a doing is making it more difficult for Canada to compete as a country.

If we look at the other things that are going on right now, and some of the things we talk about when it comes to competitiveness, there is the whole issue of pipelines. We have tanker moratoriums and things like that.

Let us think about that. In a day and age when the U.S. is building more pipelines, we have bills like Bill C-69. I noticed in the paper this morning that six premiers have come together to say that if something is not done, this is going to create a potential national unity crisis. In terms of the investment that we have chased from this country, it is almost $100 billion in energy investment.

Let us look at the things we are doing. We have a country south of the border that is looking for ways to reduce regulation and red tape. We have a government here that is barely chugging along in terms of its GDP. As I said, it is 0.3% in the last quarter and 0.4% in this quarter. That is without the new rules in this legislation that is before the House right now.

If we look at bills like Bill C-69, which is to increase the regulatory reform when it comes to pipelines, and Bill C-48, where we are trying to get our goods to market around the world, this is one more thing that makes us uncompetitive as we move forward. One of the things we need to be on guard against is that as the U.S. and countries around the world are reducing and streamlining regulation, we are making these things more difficult.

We need to look at what we are doing as a country. Trade deals are important. The U.S. is extremely important as a partner. As I said before, stakeholders have told us that it is more important to have a bad deal in place, for certainty, than it is to have no deal at all. Therefore, as we move forward on these issues, one of the things we need to be talking about is not just the trade deals we have right now, but how we are going to become more competitive in the future.

Looking at the kind of money we are spending on deficits, the current government has racked up almost $80 billion in deficit spending, and yet we have very little to show for it when we start talking about GDP growth and some of these things. There was the tax on small businesses that we experienced two or three summers ago. How are these things helpful in terms of making us more competitive?

As I look at what is going on around the world, I believe we are heading in the wrong direction. I believe we should be doing much better, given the fact that the U.S. economy is on fire south of the border. Yes, we need to do other things, like work on how we can get our goods and services across interprovincial borders and a number of these things. However, one of the things we need to constantly work on is how we streamline to reduce the burdens that business owners have to deal with.

In looking at this bill before us today, we realize that it would create some certainty for some businesses. In the long term, the challenge will be how we deal with this issue in terms of competitiveness. How do we deal with the issue that we need to do a better job of getting our goods and services to market? How do we deal with the issues of trade infrastructure in this country?

When we were in government, we spent a number of dollars on trade infrastructure, as it was very important to us. We have not seen a whole lot of money go out the door in terms of infrastructure. There has been some talk about an infrastructure bank, and yet in the three or four years, there has been very little money flowing out the door. We have somewhere in the neighbourhood of almost $80 billion in deficit spending and we do not have a lot to show for it.

Sure, we have more programs, but at the end of the day, what do Canadians feel about that? I would say that Canadians are not feeling that they are any better off. As a matter of fact, we have seen it reported in the press that Canadians are feeling the pressure, in terms of what they have to take home at the end of every month.

As we move forward, these trade deals are important, but we have to continually focus on competitiveness here at home. We have to figure out ways that we can reduce taxes, reduce regulations and streamline the process, and then we can move in a direction that helps us to compete around the world. We have a great opportunity, with what is going on around the world right now, to attract the best and the brightest. I would encourage the government to continue to move in that direction. I can assure members that when we have the opportunity to form government in October, some of the things we are going to be looking at are how we become more competitive as a country and how we compete with the U.S. and other countries around the world.

In closing, the Conservatives will be supporting this deal. However, we have some concerns with how it was handled. We have concerns with some of the crises that were created that we believe did not need to happen. We will do our best to try to fix these things when we are elected with a strong, stable Conservative government in October of this year.

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Don Valley West Ontario


Rob Oliphant LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member had been allowed a prop, he might have waved a white flag part way through that speech.

I appreciate the member's support for the binational dispute resolution mechanism in chapter 19 being preserved. However, of all of the other things we have accomplished, I wonder which is his favourite.

Is it protecting the cultural exception, preserving supply management, increasing market access for refined sugar and margarine, ensuring gender and sexual orientation protections? Is it making the environmental chapter subject to a trade dispute mechanism? Is it the rules of origin that benefit auto workers? Could it be the new small business chapter, removing ISDS that prevents government from making policy in the public interest? Is it removing the oil ratchet issue?

Which of all of those accomplishments would be the member's personal favourite?

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12:05 p.m.


Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague mentioned before, I already mentioned my favourite one, which is chapter 19. I am going to leave it at that.

As I said, there was an opportunity right from the start for the government not to insert itself in the process. I really believe that at the end of the day, when Mr. Trump was concerned with tariffs, what he was really concerned about was China. If we look at what has happened recently with his involvement with China, when he was talking about unfair practices, I do not believe that was ever directed at us.

It was mentioned by the minister, when she spoke earlier, that they welcomed the opportunity to jump into this thing. As a government, Conservatives would have done things differently. We would have been down there right away. We would have said that in terms of some of the issues around China, the issue is not one that they were targeting us on, but they were targeting other people around the world for their unfair practices. We would have been in there and had a conversation. We would have dealt with this in a way that it would not have formed a crisis manufactured by ourselves that then had to be fixed.

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12:05 p.m.


Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk a bit about supply management, which was mentioned in my colleague's speech. We have really undermined Canada's dairy sector in this deal. Certainly, there were moves toward that in CETA and in CPTPP, and we have now opened up 10% of the market.

However, that is not all that we have done. We also have a provision in the new CUSMA that will grant U.S. oversight into the administration of the Canadian dairy system, which farmers say undermines our sovereignty. The member mentioned other pieces which are undermining to our sovereignty, such as the fact that we now need permission from the U.S. to enter into trade negotiations with certain countries.

On dairy in particular, in the egregious things that have happened, we actually agreed to a lower amount of export than we exported in the previous year. There are some strange things that have happened to dairy. It is not just opening the market access.

To be honest, I am a bit baffled by the Conservatives' position on this. They have raised all of the issues that we are raising over here regarding things that are not good for Canadians and, in this case, Canadian farmers.

Does the member support these changes to dairy that were given up, these concessions in the deal, and if he does not, then why are Conservatives supporting the deal?

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12:05 p.m.


Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have worked on a number of files as they relate to trade and all these things. As I mentioned before in my remarks, there has been a lot of discussion back and forth in the Conservative caucus regarding their support and non-support. I had a chance to talk to stakeholders last summer. I spoke to over 150 myself, and I had a number of other colleagues who were on the road speaking to individuals as well. By and large, all those people said to me that we needed to make sure we had a deal done. The context in which they said that was in eliminating the steel and aluminum tariffs.

When we signed the deal, which the Prime Minister said he would not sign unless steel and aluminum tariffs were done, and that he went ahead and signed anyway, the reality is that businesses needed certainty. Therefore, we were challenged, as the member mentioned. There are a number of issues that we have concerns with. Supply management is certainly one of those issues, in terms of the fact that we have given up the right to export some of the proteins, etc. However, there is also the fact that they have put provisions on what we are able to do in dealing with a non-market economy, or in this case, China.

That will be a bigger issue in terms of sovereignty as we get down the road. The U.S. has said that if it does not like the deal we create that it can deal with this new deal itself, and that will cause problems.

At the end of the day, we are challenged. We realize that this deal is not a good deal. However, it is what stakeholders, businesses and people have told us they need in order to have certainty so they can move forward with their relationships with the U.S.

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12:10 p.m.


Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, whom I share time with on the Standing Committee on International Trade, for his speech today. Over the last 15 years, we have not seen a significant growth of companies that have been trading internationally. Over the 10 years of the former Harper government, it was roughly 12% to 15%. We saw an increase in trade, but we are not seeing an increase in trade with the small to medium-sized exporters. In fact, I represent a riding in Atlantic Canada where 54% of businesses have one to four employees.

What did my colleague's government do to help the small to medium-sized exporters get involved in trade and to benefit to the extent that some of the larger exporters are?

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12:10 p.m.


Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from New Brunswick Southwest. She is correct that we sit on the trade committee. We have had a number of discussions about how we can help our SMEs do a better job and to access these things. We can never forget that it was the Conservative government that was the government of trade. It was the Conservative government that worked to get CETA down the road and implemented. I realize that the Liberals came along and helped with the ratification, which we appreciate. I think that is important.

If we look at the TPP, we had a bow on it and it was gift-wrapped. All the Liberals needed to do was to take it across the finish line. However, for a couple of years, they were unsure whether they wanted to do anything. At the end of the day, we got a new deal. The new deal had a new name. Therefore, the only new thing we got was that it is now the CPTPP instead of the TPP.

To answer the member for New Brunswick Southwest, one of the things we did as a government was to promote the trade agenda. We moved it forward to create and access more markets so that our SMEs and other businesses had more opportunities to sell around the world.

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12:10 p.m.


Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, my Liberal colleague asked my colleague, the critic in this area and shadow cabinet minister in opposition regarding trade, about all the things he liked in the agreement. Of course, he mentioned chapter 19.

However, the government has failed to mention another very important area, which is softwood lumber. There is still not an agreement in that area. I wonder if the member could comment on that.

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12:10 p.m.


Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we look at the number of trade irritants we have with the United States, certainly softwood lumber is one that comes to mind. It was one of the things our former prime minister, Mr. Harper, dealt with. We had a deal in place that expired just after the current government came in. I have heard nothing from the government about its plan or what it would like to do with respect to softwood lumber. It has been languishing for these last three or four years on the issue.

Let us look at some of the things that have been going on. Let us talk about pipelines for a second. The current government likes to talk about all the pipelines we did not build, which is categorically false. We twinned, and did a number of things with at least four pipelines. However, I have not seen anything go in the ground over the last three and a half years.

When we talk about our forestry sector, our major concern is that there has been no action on softwood lumber. We thought that with the renegotiation of NAFTA, this would have been front and centre. The government would have recognized that it had to deal with that kind of thing. However, when I look at the way that these things have been handled—the fact that we had tariffs on steel and aluminum that we did not need to have, because if we had dealt with the issue of safeguards right from the start that would not have been the case—we have gone through pain and suffering.

There has been no mention of what is going to happen with softwood lumber. We see a history of what has happened with this party. As I mentioned in my speech, we see a party that is not prepared to begin the conversation around the renegotiation of NAFTA.

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12:10 p.m.


Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the rumours that the Liberals would push the legislation on the new NAFTA through after Mike Pence's visit are now a reality.

Since 2015, we have heard the government talk about its so-called progressive trade agenda time and again. The question that Canadians should be asking about the new NAFTA is: If the Liberals are truly interested in improving the deal, why are they undermining the efforts right now in the U.S. to improve it?

Right now, Congress and labour in the U.S. are working hard to improve the key progressive elements in this agreement. In four separate letters sent to Ambassador Lighthizer, they have laid out their call for stronger language to include labour and environmental provisions. They are also pushing hard to change the intellectual property protections in the new NAFTA that favour big pharma and will lock in high prescription drug costs for all three countries. No progressive party should be arguing to increase the cost of medication for citizens, and on this basis alone, we should support their efforts.

I have to note that it was quite interesting to hear the minister in the House earlier giving her speech. She did not even mention that the cost of drugs will be going up for Canadians. Certainly, I can understand why she would not want to wear that badge proudly, but it is something the Liberals need to be honest about with Canadians. They are now increasing the cost of medication on a whole host of biologics that many Canadians rely on for their health, and that is fundamentally wrong.

This renegotiation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to right the wrongs of the original NAFTA, which has cost Canadians hundreds of thousands of jobs. New Democrats believe that truly progressive trade means working with our partners to improve the lives of Canadians. Instead, it appears that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are choosing to ram this legislation through at the end of Parliament to bow to President Trump. It would be no surprise that Trump wants the new NAFTA signed to put pressure on the Democrats in Congress to back down from their progressive asks, but the real surprise here in Canada is that the self-proclaimed progressive government that claims to value the environment, fair working conditions and affordable medication is now bowing to U.S. pressure. That is not something Canadians are proud of, to see their government not trying to get improvements that would help the lives of Canadians.

We all know that the U.S. is our largest trading partner. I come from a region in southwestern Ontario. My riding is right on the border with the U.S. We have the largest border crossing on the Ambassador Bridge, soon to be the new Gordie Howe bridge. We have a tunnel crossing, a rail crossing and a ferry crossing. We are crossing in every way possible. Goods flow across that border every single day at a very high volume, so certainly, we understand the importance of trade in our region. However, we also have a responsibility to ensure that trade deals are being negotiated in the best interest of Canadians. There is no reason to rush this ratification in Canada.

The minister also said earlier that we are moving in tandem with our partners, but that is false. The U.S. has not even tabled legislation in Congress yet. Speaker Pelosi herself has said that they will not do that until they can come to some sort of agreement with Ambassador Lighthizer. Therefore, to say that we are moving in tandem is completely and utterly false. The U.S. is not moving at all in that process. Of course, it is in part of its TPA process right now; that is true, but to say that it is moving toward ratification is not the case.

The Liberal government could and should join New Democrats in our support of what is happening in Congress and its important efforts. If there is any attempt to improve this deal to protect jobs, workers, the environment and the cost of medication, why would the Liberal government not be supportive of that? It really is bizarre to me.

The Conservatives under Brian Mulroney were the original architects of NAFTA. At the time, they ignored the alarm bells that were being raised about job losses and impacts. The member for London—Fanshawe sat provincially at that time. She told me that at the time everything that they raised, all of the issues they brought forward prior to the signing, are exactly what has come to pass in these 25 years: the incredible number of job losses, the textile industry being completely eradicated in our country, the vintners and our wine sector losing 50%. We have had widespread job loss throughout our country, and for some reason, there seems to be no acknowledgement of that in the House.

The Liberals should not be so quick to make the same mistake. They should listen. Any attempt to improve labour provisions in particular should be supported and championed.

The NDP has repeatedly raised major concerns about the impact this deal would have on Canadians. The new NAFTA has sacrificed our dairy farms, locks in the increased cost of medication for sick and vulnerable people and provides no guarantee that workers' jobs would be protected.

Our number one priority is protecting Canadian jobs. If the Liberals rush this new NAFTA through, they will be sending a signal to working people in Canada that they are more interested in a trophy on their trade shelf than they are in improving the lives of working people who are deeply impacted by trade.

At the heart of NAFTA are millions of people who work every day for a decent life for their families and their communities. I am one of those people. Before I was elected, I was an auto worker in Ontario. I lost my job. I was laid off for three years, because investments were going only one way after the signing of NAFTA. They were heading down south chasing cheaper wages.

Twenty-three years ago when NAFTA was being originally negotiated by the Mulroney Conservatives, they tried desperately to sell Canadian workers on the idea that it is more than just a trade deal. They tried to make the case that this trilateral deal would bring prosperity to everyone across the continent. They claimed it was going to be an equalizer for all. There is an an analogy they use that really gets to me. They said that NAFTA was a high tide that would float all boats. The only boats that anyone saw raised were yachts and many of the other boats sank.

Working people studied NAFTA carefully at the time, and they began to raise alarm bells that it would not work. Labour and civil society brought their concerns to the streets over the weak side agreements. They rightly claimed that it would do nothing to change the inequalities if they did not improve the deal then.

Conservatives pressed on, and now in 2019, we see the impact this deal has had on every community across our country.

Successive governments have neglected to address the alarming reality that the NAFTA promise of 1994 has not led to an increased standard of living for all. The only benefit has been for those who already hold the power and influence.

Where are we today? Income inequality and wealth inequality in Canada are at a crisis level. Forty-six per per cent of Canadians are $200 away from financial trouble. To say that NAFTA has not played a role in that economic instability is complete nonsense.

As I said, I was an auto worker from southwestern Ontario. I saw the effects of NAFTA every day. When I started working 23 years ago at Ford Motor Company, we had six plants in Windsor and 6,700 people working. Today, we have two plants and 1,500 people working. There is a direct line between those job losses and NAFTA.

Every contract negotiation after NAFTA was signed reminded us that our jobs could go to Mexico in a heartbeat. That was always the threat, and it has been held over the heads of working people in the Canadian manufacturing sector at every contract table since NAFTA was signed.

We saw this at local 88 at CAMI Automotive in Ingersoll last year, where workers were out on the line, on strike, because they were being threatened that their jobs would be moved to Mexico. Not surprisingly, not one Liberal showed up on that line. Those people were living the reality of NAFTA and what has happened to working people.

I am not saying that working people in Mexico and the U.S. have it any better. In Mexico, people are constantly threatened to accept unsafe working conditions and keep their wages low. They are threatened that if they ask for more or better, they will not be able to attract that work away from Canada and the U.S. Labour conditions in Mexico in practice do not reflect their international standards or commitments and the regulations are not enforced. The minimum earned salary in Mexico is $142 Canadian per month. Even that does not meet the monthly minimum living wage in Mexico of $177 Canadian.

How can workers in Canada compete with extremely low unfair wages for workers who are being treated poorly? It is shameful that Canadian companies and global companies are down in Mexico taking advantage of Mexican workers.

In the new NAFTA there is a $16 average wage but many across the labour movement are concerned. When looking at an average wage, it includes the entire plant, including the wages of executives and management. The wages of Mexican workers will not go up at all, because that is what the average wage is going to be. That is if corporations even pretend to try to achieve this at all because, quite frankly, the tariff is so low there is no incentive for them to even follow through with this.

This is a gamble we are taking on the backs of working people once again when we have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. There is the transnational blackmail that is happening between our countries and it has hurt all working people, because we are all connected. Working people are always looking to raise standards for others.

There is the disappearance of a chapter to promote gender equality. When the deal was signed, it included provisions for improving conditions for working women with respect to workplace harassment, pay equity and equality issues, but for some reason, they did not survive the scrub phase and have completely disappeared. What do Liberals have to say about this loss? Where did this promised gender chapter go? I have to be honest. New Democrats do not believe a chapter is sufficient and it is not the answer. There needs to be a full gender analysis and gender impact assessment on this deal and every trade deal we sign, but we have yet to see one from the Liberal government, nor have we been given any indication that this is the direction in which it is going. Once again, women have been knocked completely off the table in this deal, without any explanation from the minister today about why that happened.

The minister did talk about indigenous people. There was a promise of a chapter to promote indigenous rights, but that does not exist in the CUSMA either. Once again, Liberals are signing another trade agreement that disrespects article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that they have to obtain free, prior and informed consent. New Democrats believe that indigenous peoples should not be just delegated to a chapter. They should be at the negotiating table and be considered a full partner in any trade deal. We heard the minister reference a lot of the provincial partners she worked with, but we did not hear her talk about the indigenous partners she worked with at the table because they simply were not at the table in an equal fashion.

There is a lot of uncertainty, and this has been talked about throughout the day, about what is happening in the States, but this is why Congress is working hard to improve this deal. I mentioned that I met with Nancy Pelosi and several other Democrats last week. I told her that New Democrats in Canada support the efforts and the important work that Congress and labour are pushing for in the States. It is quite incomprehensible why the Liberals, who came out with some of their objectives after we forced them to at the trade committee, have let those things completely fall off the table.

We have an opportunity to truly fix the problems in this deal, but it appears the Liberals do not want to be a part of that, and they cannot seem to answer why. Why are we in Canada putting pressure on them and doing Donald Trump's dirty work? Quite frankly, it is mind-boggling. There is this whole idea that somehow we are going to open a Pandora's box, that we all have to be afraid of that, that it is way too scary and we cannot actually improve the deal because we are afraid of what they might do. That is complete nonsense. This is happening in the States. They are pushing for this. There is a precedent of this happening before. In 2007, there were four trade agreements opened at the same time in a very targeted fashion and they were able to make improvements. Why would we not support that? Why are the Liberals fear-mongering to the Canadian public, trying to make people think that better is not possible?

I want to talk about dairy and supply management. Many people know that in the new NAFTA Canada has once again thrown our dairy families under the bus to appease the U.S. The U.S. will gain 3.59% access to our dairy market. On top of the concessions that were in the CPTPP and CETA, that brings the total loss to a 10% market share. I have to ask what other group or sector the Liberals and Conservatives would dare cut 10% of their market share from. That is mind-boggling. For some reason, dairy farmers have become the favourite to throw completely under the bus.

That is not even the worst of it for dairy farmers, who, by the way, are not the wealthy people that some in the House would have us believe. These are hard-working families in my community, in Essex, and across the country. They are people like Mark Stannard and Vicky Morrison. I have been to their farms and know how much pride they put into producing top-quality milk for our communities.

We all know that the bovine growth hormone is used by American dairy farmers and it increases milk production. By the way, that BGH is created by Monsanto. We have absolutely no studies on the effect on human health of this hormone that is being used. We live in a border city, and the people I know would much rather see that little blue cow and know that it is Canadian milk than wonder where it is coming from and what is in it. They would rather pay the prices that they pay, which are honestly right in line with the rest of the globe, to know that they are getting quality milk that is safe for their families.

Another provision in CUSMA grants U.S. oversight of the administration of the Canadian dairy system. While the Liberals like to say that they protected it and they are not dismantling it, now they have to go to the U.S. to get permission to do anything in our own system. This is an issue of sovereignty, and the farmers are rightly raising it and asking why the Liberals have done this. We were forced to abandon our class 7 milk pricing. The agreement also allows the U.S. to limit and monitor our exports, not just to the U.S., but to the world. We have given up far more than just the percentage of market share when it comes to our dairy farmers, and our dairy farmers are certainly not happy about the situation we are in.

I want to talk about the cost of medication. Again, this is a major concession in this deal that the minister did not address earlier and fails to do so at every turn. We pay the second-highest prices in the western world, and the IP provisions the Liberals have agreed to in this deal, to appease big pharma, will increase the cost of drugs for two more years. We have extended the patent. These are biosimilar drugs, such as insulin or Humira, which can treat Crohn's disease or rheumatoid arthritis.

Thanks to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, my colleague, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, initiated a study, and we now know that the estimated drug costs of CUSMA in the first year alone are $169 million. We are literally making medication more expensive at a time when our country is demanding a national pharmacare program because people cannot afford their medication. If we did not know that the Liberals are doing the work of big pharma from the fact that they have not introduced national pharmacare in four years and keep dangling that carrot in front of Canadians, we certainly know that they did it in the new deal. They do not even want to talk about it or the reality of it.

This is one of the areas the U.S. Congress is trying to fix. Again, it is people and patients in all three countries who will pay the price, while profits continue to soar for big pharma. I know there are people who would say that we need that patent extension so there can be more R and D in our country. We are below 4% in R and D. There is no R and D investment happening in Canada. Big pharma has made this promise to us before, when it got an extension on the patent, and it did not follow through on that deal. Why do we keep rewarding it for bad behaviour that is costing Canadians, and Canadians are not even able to take the drugs they need?

The new copyright provisions in chapter 20 raise the term from life plus 50 to life plus 70 years. This is another TPP hangover that again the Liberals have happily signed onto. It would raise educational costs alone by millions of dollars. In fact, when we did the study on the TPP, we had Girl Guides and librarians coming to warn us about this provision and how it would not only cost us money but limit access to these works in our public space.

If we look at things like where we work, what we eat and the drugs we need, these are all things that matter to Canadians, and these are all concessions that the Liberals have made in this deal.

New Democrats will always stand for fair trade that benefits the lives of Canadians, and the new NAFTA is simply not good enough for Canadians in its current form. We are strongly united to see the changes and the work being done in the U.S. go through. We hope that the Liberals will stop this foolishness of ramming this through the House, because there is nothing happening in the States right now until this deal happens, and we hope they will join us to see a truly progressive deal for working people and for Canadians.

To be honest, working people should not be expected to pay the price for bad negotiations. If the Liberals force this legislation through, they are throwing away our greatest opportunity to make trade fairer for Canadians.

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12:35 p.m.


MaryAnn Mihychuk Liberal Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, that was an interesting speech. At this time, when there is so much exaggeration, we need to be very careful about how we present the facts. There is an onus on all of us to ensure that what we say has a sense of truth and validity and that we can back it up.

How can the member say that indigenous people have been somehow shortchanged or relegated to the back seat on this agreement? I want to take a minute to quote the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. He said:

The provisions addressing Indigenous Peoples in the USMCA make it the most inclusive international trade agreement for Indigenous peoples to date. The protection for Indigenous people's rights in the general exceptions to the agreement will protect inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights as well as increase stability, certainty and integrity to international trade.

I would ask the member to explain why she put perhaps confusing statements on the record, when the truth is that indigenous people are proud of the Liberal government for making a better international agreement.

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12:35 p.m.


Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I suppose that when there is a low bar for involving indigenous people, then I understand why the Liberals believe they have gotten over that bar, but we are actually signatories to article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which says that one must obtain “free, prior and informed consent”.

Why did the Liberals not achieve that and have yet to achieve that in any single trade deal that exists? That is not respecting indigenous people. I understand the Liberals think that having a few things in this agreement is better than what they previously had, which is quite a sad statement, because indigenous people should be full partners at the table, not relegated to a few lines in a trade agreement.