Madam Speaker, I am here today to speak to the trade agreement now before the House. I have had opportunities in the last few days to stand in the House, but this is my first speech.
I would like thank all the people in my riding who helped me in being elected to serve in the House for a second term. When we have an election, it is amazing how many people come forward to volunteer, and they do so much significant work in the community.
I also want to thank my family members who supported my being here today, especially my sister Mary. Even thought she has three small children to care for, she flew in to spend the last few days of the election with me. It meant a lot to have her there.
However, I also want to acknowledge all the volunteers for every party. At the end of the day, democracy is fundamental to our country. It is important to acknowledge all the people who volunteered and spent time working very hard for their candidates.
I have some concerns about this agreement and I am torn on this issue. I recognize the importance of trade to our country and to its economic success. We live in a global economy, but I have a lot of concerns about how that works.
The U.S. is is Canada's most significant trading partner. It is our friend and our neighbour. We have some political challenges with the U.S. at certain times, but there is a lot of back and forth between our two countries. Therefore, trying to find ways to work with the Americans is important.
However, at the end of the day, trade needs to focus on fairness. We need to have trade that assures all Canadians are respected throughout the process.
I live in a rural and remote community. North Island—Powell River is just under 60,000 square kilometres. There are several ferries. It is both on Vancouver Island and on the Mainland. One of the things that worries me in our trade process, and I will talk about the transparency of that process, is we often forget some of our rural and remote communities and the challenges they face when we do not think about trade through that lens.
My riding has several dairy farms. When we look at what has been happening with the past several trade agreements, supply management is struggling. From my perspective, supply management is really under attack. I understand that there are challenges when we trade, but supply management is so important. It assures all Canadians of a good product in which they can trust. I encourage people to check out a Canadian dairy farm. It is an amazing thing. It is a lot more healthy and wonderful than one thinks, and we can trust that product.
Protecting rural and remote communities is key. Supply management allows us to have robust farms that are small and local, that provide local jobs, not only on the farms but in the services they use, and that is important.
Viewfield Farms, Daldas Farms and Lloydshaven farm are in my riding. Those farms are a big part of our community. Not only do they employ people at their farms and create amazing products, they also access the services around them to care for their farms, their milk products and their cows.
When we look at the negotiations that have taken place on supply management, under CUSMA, CPTPP and CETA about 10% of the market share has been taken away from those sectors, which makes it harder for those farms. I hope we do not want more focus on centralization. That takes away from those small rural and remote communities and starts to build in larger centres. Therefore, this is important.
The other thing that worries me is that this trade agreement contains a provision that would grant the U.S. oversight into the administration of the Canadian dairy system. It undermines Canada's sovereignty and our ability to manage our product. When we look at the product produced in the U.S., we need to be concerned about it. We know that the American dairy sector uses bovine growth hormone, which increases milk production up to 25%. There are no studies on what that does to people when they consume these products.
We know it is really bad for the cows. They suffer from more stress and there is a higher incidence of udder infections, swollen legs and premature death. It should be very concerning when that product is coming across our borders. Canadians need to know what the product is. As I said earlier, those who go to Canadian farms will feel good about eating dairy products. Farmers take care of their cows.
Another important area for me, especially in this day and age, is environmental protections and addressing issues like climate change. When there are trade discussions, Canada has an important opportunity to reflect on how it is doing with respect to its climate change actions, on which we need to do a lot better. However, it is also an opportunity to negotiate with other countries to increase their accountability. I want to see more trade agreements where provisions around the environment and climate change are binding and fully enforceable. We do not see that in this agreement.
The provisions should also focus on and be in line with Canada's international obligations. When we look at the Paris agreement, we do not see that reflected. When I look at this trade agreement, it really does not help us move forward and toward those important environmental climate change targets.
I have another frustration. I remember being in this place in the spring of last year, talking about ratifying this agreement. Again and again, the NDP asked why the government was rushing this, that we needed to ensure the U.S. Democrats in Congress had an opportunity to do their work on this deal, that they would make it a better deal, and that happened. However, we kept hearing that it was the best deal we could get. Then the government would go back to the table and come back again, saying it was a better deal.
It is important for the government understand it has an obligation to get the best deal it can, to take every action it can to ensure Canadian workers are cared for, that we are respectful of workers in other countries, that we look at how it will impact our businesses and economy, what it looks like in urban settings and in rural and remote settings. I am glad the work was done, but it is frustrating to keep having this conversation.
I am very pleased that chapter 11, the investor-state dispute settlement of NAFTA, is finally gone. When we look at the history of the country, Canada was sued repeatedly and this mechanism kept us in a vulnerable position. I am glad it is gone.
However, I am also concerned about some of the language I see in the agreement that leads me to believe some of those things are entwined in the language. We will have to watch that carefully, and we should be concerned about it.
At the end of the day, though, one of my biggest frustrations on all trade agreements is the lack of transparency of the negotiation process. It needs to be addressed and I hope that is fixed soon.
Canadians across the country need to understand what we are negotiating and why. As I said earlier, I represent three dairy farms in my riding and one thing they wanted to know how much supply management quota we were giving away. They were frustrated by the lack of communication and clarity around this very important issue.
We have a huge country with a lot of diverse economies. We also have a lot of rural and remote communities, like mine, that are struggling as we adjust to this changing world and changing economy. We need to ensure that trade recognizes this and looks at how we can work collaboratively to ensure those folks are not left behind in these discussions.
I call on the government to understand that we need a more transparent process. I understand that when we are negotiating something, we do not want to lay all our cards on the table publicly. However, there still was not enough information that allowed different sectors in our communities across Canada to express their concerns and ensure that those voices were heard. Even in the states, Trump was very clear about his goals, so we need to hear the goals of government.
I look forward to having further discussions. I am excited for the bill go to committee, where we can study these issues more fully.