Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to engage in this debate.
This debate is really a story of failed Liberal foreign policy. It is a story of failed Liberal trade policy. It is also a story about the abandonment of Canada's western manufacturers who depend on competitively priced steel and aluminum products.
As with most Liberal ventures, there is always a backstory, a very ugly backstory. In an earlier question, I signalled what that story might be. It is a story of a government that thought it could bluff the Americans. It thought it could get away with not addressing the issue of steel and aluminum dumping, and the U.S. called its bluff. A year ago, the U.S. imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, its most trusted trading ally.
When has that ever happened? Never. This is a Liberal government that cannot even get its relationship with the United States right. I can speak from experience. I am the former trade minister of Canada. Under our Conservative government, we were able to negotiate free trade agreements with 46 different countries around the world, the most successful trade policy ever implemented in this country. We left the Liberal government with a trade environment that was as good as it gets. There was not a relationship around the world that we had where we could not go to our counterpart, whether it was the U.S. trade representative or the trade minister for China or Chile or Peru, and resolve important issues, trade irritants between our countries.
Now we have found ourselves in this situation for a whole year. Canada has faced punitive tariffs from the United States, because of the incompetence of the Liberal government. Let me explain.
The present Liberal government thought it could bluff Donald Trump by saying, “I know you are concerned about the dumping of aluminum and steel products into Canada, for example from China, one of the worst offenders when it comes to dumping. I know you are worried about it, Mr. President, but we are going to do nothing about it.” Donald Trump said, “I am not someone who does nothing. I am going to do something about it. I am going to impose tariffs on you, Canada, one of our most trusted allies. I am going to do it under section 232, the national security provisions.”
What an embarrassment that should be for the Liberal government, that this would happen under the Liberal watch. However, that is what happened. For a year, we had American tariffs on any exports that involved aluminum or steel. We can imagine how difficult that has been for our industries.
I am going to speak a little about Abbotsford, my home community, where we have a number of very significant manufacturers that use steel and aluminum to create products for Canadians and for export to the United States and elsewhere around the world. These companies, small to medium-sized businesses, had been expanding.
In fact, one company, Mayne Coatings, a favourite of mine, had chosen Abbotsford as the best place to invest, assuming that under a Liberal government the trade policy of this country would continue on, that it would be a healthy one, and that our relationship with the United States would continue to be healthy. They made those assumptions, quite falsely, of course. They assumed that would carry on, and they invested heavily in Abbotsford. In fact, they built a manufacturing facility worth $100 million in a small community of 150,000 people. They trusted the Liberal government, and what a mistake that was. No sooner had construction started on this building that Canada was slapped with aluminum and steel tariffs that have seriously undermined the business model for this company.
I feel very sorry for Mayne Coatings and other industries and companies in Abbotsford that trusted the Liberal government. What a misplaced trust that was.
Today we are seeing the tail end of that process. For a year, we suffered under those punitive tariffs, and now finally the Liberal government has woken up to the fact that the Americans expect Canada to address the illegal dumping of steel and aluminum in Canada and to address surges.
The government is finally introducing Bill C-101, which addresses this issue, except it has a number of failings. We have introduced an amendment that highlights the fact that this legislation fails to take into consideration regional disparity. In other words, what happens in British Columbia, where I am from, is quite different from what happens in Ontario and Quebec, where steel and aluminum are produced.
Shipping that aluminum and steel to the west coast does not make any financial sense, so those who manufacture products in my region of the country need to have different rules, which take into account the fact that they have to bring in their steel and aluminum from elsewhere because it is not competitive to do so from central and eastern Canada.
Second, this legislation fails to add a geographic exemption for industries like Mayne Coatings from Abbotsford that are far beyond the reach of our own homegrown Canadian steel and aluminum producers.
Third, this legislation fails to stipulate specific tariff and trade disruption relief for steel fabricators.
The fourth one is the most important one, in my mind, because it is a breach of trust, a breaking of failed promises by the Prime Minister. A promise was made by the Liberal government that it was going to impose retaliatory tariffs on the Americans, which is great. They do it to us; we do it to them. We collect tariffs coming in. What did the Prime Minister promise? He promised that those tariffs would be used to offset the impact of American tariffs on our Canadian manufacturers.
How much did the Liberal government collect? It collected $2 billion in tariffs. How much of that money has actually gone to the manufacturers across Canada that were impacted by the tariffs the Americans imposed upon us because we would not act on their concerns? How much of that money went to our manufacturers across Canada? Virtually zero. This is another broken promise on the part of the current Prime Minister.
Members may remember that he made a ton of promises. He knew very well from the start, even before the last election, that many of those promises he could not keep. He made them anyway, because he just wanted to get elected. That is disgraceful. We see it playing out now here in Canada with our manufacturers who are suffering the consequences of it.
Two billion dollars were supposed to be dispersed to support our small and medium-sized businesses across Canada, and larger ones, that were all being impacted by this failure of the Liberal government to take care of our bilateral relationship with the United States. The Liberals could not even deliver on that.
I do not hold any ill will toward my Liberal colleagues across the way. They are not disputing the fact that $2 billion was collected by the Prime Minister, with the understanding that the money would be dispersed among Canadian companies to make sure they did not suffer as a result of the Donald Trump steel and aluminum tariffs. Guess what. It was a broken promise. Every single one of those MPs on the Liberal side is going to be held accountable for that in October. A reckoning is coming on October 21, and that reckoning is going to hold the Liberals to account for their false promises, such as their promises on balanced budgets, their promises on small deficits—