House of Commons Hansard #13 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nafta.

Topics

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I draw attention to the fact that, when we started these negotiations, the Prime Minister and his crew over there said that a sunset clause was a non-starter, and that it would not even be allowed. At the end of the day, the government did sign off on a sunset clause. What that does is create incredible uncertainty for those within our own country who would invest capital in order to further their business.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, this is the second time in three days that I have heard opposition members refer to hon. members in the House using language that I would view as unparliamentary.

I wonder if the member, whom I know and who is an honourable woman, could choose better language when referring to all members, all of her colleagues in the House of Commons.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I think the member is referring to the fact that I said “the Prime Minister and his crew.” I certainly did not mean any disrespect by that and I apologize.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Thank you.

We are resuming debate and the hon. parliamentary secretary has the floor.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Oakville North—Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Pam Damoff LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services

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

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

While we are on the subject, the member for Spadina—Fort York used some language that would also fall under the same category addressed by his colleague. I am just wondering if you, Madam Speaker, would like to give him the same opportunity to address the type of language that he used as well, since we are on the subject.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Madam Speaker, I admit that I stooped to their level, and I apologize.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

The apology has to be genuine, and the member knows this.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Madam Speaker, after they called us the “crew over there”, I referred to members on the side opposite as “the gang over there.” I apologize for using that word and I withdraw it.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

I thank the member.

Resuming debate, the hon. parliamentary secretary.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

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

I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-4. In the fall of 2018, leaders from Canada, the United States and Mexico announced a new trilateral trade agreement to replace the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. This was a pivotal moment for our country, for North America and for fair trade around the world. This agreement would ensure free and fair trade in North America, a trading zone that accounts for more than a quarter of the world's economy, with just 7% of its population.

During the negotiations, we saw unprecedented support from across the country. We came together to ensure that we got the best possible deal for Canada and Canadians. We had co-operation from all political parties.

In May 2017, I visited Washington, D.C., with the public safety committee. Conservative, NDP and Liberal MPs came together to meet with U.S. elected officials. Talk inevitably turned to trade and we successfully shared stories about why NAFTA was so important to the trading relationship between our countries.

Brian Mulroney and Rona Ambrose have both worked with our government and have spoken out in favour of the agreement. The new NAFTA has the support of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Assembly of First Nations, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, to name just a few. Business, industry, individuals and local governments are in favour of this deal because of the certainty, security and prosperity that will come from a modern free trade agreement.

Perry Bellegarde, AFN national chief, said:

The new NAFTA...is the most progressive and inclusive trade agreement to date. It’s good for #FirstNations and Canada. Involving #Indigenous peoples & respecting our rights leads to better outcomes and greater economic certainty.

As the Deputy Prime Minister said following the signing of the new NAFTA:

...it preserves free trade across the North American continent and market access in a $25-trillion open market of 470 million people. A market that has tripled in size since the creation of NAFTA in 1993.

And it does this while providing insurance against the spectre of auto tariffs that were threatening our economy and thousands of good, well-paying jobs—on both sides of the border.

...[It] maintains tariff-free access to the majority of Canadian exports to U.S. markets.

...Since the Auto Pact, Canada has been an integral and essential part of a North American auto industry, with its highly integrated supply chains. We fought for that, and we have preserved it and created opportunities for growth.

She also said:

...[It] is good for hundreds of thousands of Canadian workers. Not only does it preserve essential cross-border supply chains, but it significantly improves wages and rights for Mexican workers. This will concretely level the playing field for auto workers in cities like Windsor and Oshawa [and Oakville]. It helps guarantee their future.

The minister continued:

...[It] preserves the Canadian cultural exception, that was demanded by Canada, especially in the digital world. That protects our cultural industries and more than 650,000 jobs across Canada. It preserves our unique, bilingual identity, as Canadians.

...[The] agreement fully upholds the impartial dispute resolution of Chapter 19 of the original NAFTA. When there’s a disagreement over trade, it goes to an independent, bi-national panel. And that panel gets to decide.

This legislation is the final step in safeguarding more than $2 billion a day in cross-border trade as well as tariff-free access to our largest trading partner. It will also support hundreds of thousands of Canadian jobs, now and in the future.

In December 2019, Canada joined the U.S. and Mexico in signing an agreement that reflected additional changes. That has given us an agreement that strengthens the state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism, labour protection, environmental protection, intellectual property and the automotive rules of origin. It will also help make the most advanced medicines affordable for Canadians.

These changes were met with widespread praise. I was particularly happy to see Jerry Dias, president of Unifor Canada, say, “The new [deal], while far from perfect, provides a road map to implement necessary changes in trade policy to benefit workers.”

Throughout the negotiations for the new NAFTA, we fought for a total lift of the U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, and we succeeded. Canada is now the only major producer of aluminum in the world that is not subject to U.S. tariffs. It is the result of our firm and measured response, including $2 billion in support for Canadian workers and companies and hundreds of interactions with U.S. officials.

I was pleased to welcome the Prime Minister to Oakville North—Burlington in 2018, shortly after the negotiation had finished on this new agreement. We visited MetriCan, which has facilities in Canada, the United States and Mexico and is a significant, innovative player in the global automotive industry and a leading supplier of tooling and stamped metal components.

The Prime Minister told MetriCan employees:

Canadians told us they wanted us to stand firm to protect good middle-class jobs like those here at MetriCan. The automobile and auto parts manufacturing industry remains a key driver of Canada’s economy. Thank you for showing me the important work you do here at MetriCan to ensure it remains so.

I am proud to have a company like MetriCan in my riding, and I know the impact the visit had on the owners and employees of the company.

Ford of Canada's head office is located in Oakville, and from the time of my election, ensuring their access to the U.S. and Mexico has been a top priority. I have been pleased to work with both management and Unifor Local 707 to ensure their concerns were heard and shared with the government.

I remember a meeting held with the presidents of the big three automakers and the president of Unifor Canada, where we all agreed that a team Canada approach to trade with regard to the auto industry was critical for success. I am proud to work with the fine men and women from Ford of Canada, and I know they want to see this agreement passed by this House.

These are just two examples of businesses in my community that are counting on us to ratify this agreement. The new NAFTA is an important achievement for the middle class and Canadians working hard to join it. This new agreement will be good for Canadian workers, businesses, and families. It will strengthen the middle class and create good, well-paying jobs and new opportunities for the nearly half a billion people who call North America home.

This agreement is good for Canada's economy. It will modernize and stabilize the economy for the 21st century, guaranteeing a higher standard of living for Canadians for the long term. The agreement will also protect jobs and preserve cultural industries in Canada.

It is now time to ratify the agreement so that we can move ahead with confidence that the Canadian economy is secure, even as we expand our trade to markets around the world. Canada has always had strong economic ties with the United States and Mexico. By strengthening the rules and procedures governing trade and investment, the agreement will provide a solid foundation for building Canada's prosperity and demonstrate the benefits of open trade for the rest of the world.

I am proud of our government for standing firm and getting not just any deal, but the best deal for Canada. I would in particular like to single out our Deputy Prime Minister for her leadership, professionalism and determination to ensure that the interests and values of Canadians were always defended. She did yeoman's work to see this agreement negotiated and to see it ratified here in the House. I thank her on behalf of all residents of Oakville North—Burlington and all Canadians.

As hon. members know, the Deputy Prime Minister has asked that we work together as colleagues to put Canada and Canadians first and get this important work done without undue delay. We have seen industry, business, union leadership, diplomats, indigenous leadership and government officials all buy into a team Canada approach. The United States and Mexico have already ratified this agreement. Now it is our turn.

Let us show the world that we all play for the same team.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, the member often referred to this “new NAFTA”; I would much rather refer to it as “half a NAFTA” or “halfta”.

I am just wondering if she is at all concerned about the fact that this NAFTA deal was unable to secure a softwood lumber deal along with it?

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, we will disagree on the name. There seem to be an awful lot of acronyms bouncing around with regard to this trade agreement.

I hope that we can all agree that it is important to ratify this agreement. Certainly the softwood lumber industry is extremely important to the Canadian economy, and our government continues to work towards ensuring that the softwood lumber dispute is settled. We will go from there.

I do hope that we can count on the hon. member's support, and that of his party, when we vote on this deal.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I have just a couple of questions.

I know that one of the items the hon. member discussed, in terms of an achievement, was working with indigenous peoples. The Liberal government promised an entire chapter to promote indigenous rights in 2017. This was not delivered in CUSMA.

The other area I have a question about is in regard to gender and women. I am wondering if the member could describe how the rights of women are highlighted in this deal, considering that the Liberals again promised an entire chapter to promote gender equality in trade in 2017. Again, this was not delivered in CUSMA.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her advocacy on two issues that are extremely important.

On the first, as the member likely knows, the government held extensive consultations with nearly 50 different indigenous groups on this agreement, including self-governing nations, tribal organizations, national organizations, development corporations, business and lending organizations, legal advisers and policy experts, so they were certainly included in the negotiation.

In terms of gender, there are enforceable provisions in the new agreement that protect women's rights, minority rights, indigenous rights and the environment, all of which we have never had before in a trade agreement. I am very proud of what we were able to negotiate.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Green

Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, we have heard a lot of criticism on the opposite side from the Conservatives about the fact that Trump is not going to be allowing non-market trade agreements. I do not want to be dictated to by the United States. What does “non-market” mean? We are talking about communist countries and dictatorships. We are talking about countries that are not democracies, that do not have the same rule of law that we have.

Should we be engaging in trade with countries that do not have those same values and giving them most-favoured-nation status, or should we be looking at strengthening trade with democratic countries with advanced judicial systems so we do not need to worry about Canadian investors getting ripped off? Should we be looking at countries that respect the same kind of rule of law that we have? Should we be facilitating and working on trade agreements with those kinds of countries instead of non-market countries?

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, as a government we have taken leadership on a number of trade agreements. We are the only country that has trade agreements that allow us access to billions of people and markets around the world, and we are always taking into account the human rights conditions in those countries. We have always been a strong advocate for human rights around the world, and we will always stand up for that. We certainly are not dictated to by any other country when we are negotiating trade agreements. Canada is standing up for what is best for Canadians, Canadian workers and Canadian business. We will always do what is best for our country.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, as always, it is a great pleasure to rise in this House and to be speaking on behalf of the amazing constituents of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. I am pleased to be able to stand today and offer a few of my thoughts on the proceedings before us with regard to the implementation act of CUSMA, the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, through Bill C-4.

I want to start by acknowledging our relationship with the United States. The sheer amount of trade and travel that happens between our two countries and the long shared history that we have make it the most important relationship that Canada has. I want to also acknowledge how difficult this negotiation was for many of our hard-working trade negotiators, especially when policy from the United States seemed to be changing on the fly, according to tweets we would read from President Trump.

The NDP's position with regard to trade has always been that we want to have fair trade agreements that have enforceable protections for workers, the environment, and the rights of indigenous people and women. We feel that far too often, and there are many examples that we could list, trade negotiations seem to turn into corporate rights documents and give a lot of attention to regulatory harmonization. I understand that in some cases regulatory harmonization can be a good thing, because we do not want our businesses overburdened by too much red tape. However, we have to remember it is often large multinational corporations that are seeking the free flow of goods between borders, and often those regulations are in place because they are are particular and unique to the country that hosts them. When we have regulations dealing with environmental protections or workers' rights, those are extremely important, and we do not want to be chasing the lowest common denominator. We do not want to simply make it easy for the free flow of goods and trade without respecting those very important things.

I understand too that the renegotiation of NAFTA was sparked by President Trump. Again, this illustrates why it is so important for Canada to maintain relationships with the other branches of the United States government. We must maintain our contacts in the United States House of Representatives and the Senate, but more importantly the various governors and state legislatures, because the United States has a very broad power-sharing network and it is certainly not equal to just one person.

I find the debate surrounding this agreement interesting. Not only has the current Parliament been seized with the agreement, but it was also a big feature in the 42nd Parliament. I can remember when question period often had the theme of CUSMA. I want to acknowledge the hard work of my former colleague Tracey Ramsey, the former MP for Essex, who led the way as our international trade critic and was often probing the government's negotiating tactics and the objectives that it was trying to achieve.

At that time, our main argument was that we should hold off on ratifying the agreement, because it was quite clear to anyone who was a keen observer that the United States Democrats in the House of Representatives were keen on changing some aspects of the deal, yet the Liberal government in the 42nd Parliament thought that would be a mistake. They wanted to agree to it as it was, not taking into account the fact that changes were coming.

In fact, the Deputy Prime Minister, when she had her previous role as the lead minister for this file, said, “Mr. Speaker, what the NDP needs to understand is that reopening this agreement would be like opening Pandora's box”, and that it would be naive for the NDP to believe that Canadians would benefit from reopening this agreement, yet that is precisely what happened. I do not know of any other instance in which Canada had to rely on the actions of a foreign government to deliver a better deal. I think that is actually quite unprecedented.

If only we could have had a process whereby the Parliament of Canada had played a bigger role. I know a lot of legislators on the opposition side of the benches were constantly referring to this and to the fact that there were possibilities of getting a better deal, but no: The government at the time wanted to proceed forward. Thankfully, we did get a renegotiated deal, and the U.S. Democrats were about to put in some important provisions. I think that when we look at the balance sheet, some improvements were definitely made.

I look to my home province of British Columbia. I make my home on Vancouver Island. Of course, the big industry that has had no mention in this agreement is our softwood lumber industry. That dispute is still ongoing with the United States, and I understand that Canada has had to take its concerns to the World Trade Organization.

We have many workers in British Columbia who still have this cloud of uncertainty hanging over their industry. Many mills have closed over the previous decades. Many communities in British Columbia have had to transition out of a mill-based work force into something closer to tourism or a service-based industry. However, it has forever changed the face of many small towns in British Columbia.

For the towns that are lucky enough to still have a thriving mill, we still are plagued with a lot of uncertainty. This is certainly one part of the Canada-U.S. relationship that has to be studied and worked on.

As the NDP's critic for agriculture, I would also be remiss if I did not mention the concessions that were made in this agreement to our supply-managed dairy sector. We are giving up a few percentages of our market, as we did under the CPTPP and CETA. The Liberals constantly say in the House that they are the party that defends supply management and that they are the ones who brought it in. However, now we have started to see even more cuts. The problem is that when we were negotiating this deal and opening up parts of our market to the United States, especially in supply management, in a sense what the government is asking our dairy farmers to do is to pay the price for another jurisdiction's overproduction problems.

I will illustrate that by pointing this out. The State of Wisconsin produces more milk than the entire country of Canada combined. As it does not have supply management, it has wild fluctuations in price. Many farmers are experiencing bankruptcy down there. There are serious concerns to mental health and they do not have the protections there. In a sense, we are trying to open up our market from U.S. demands. We are trying to pay the price for their overproduction.

It goes further. Under clause 3.A.3 of the agreement, we have now agreed to establish threshold limits on exports. We have put those threshold limits on things like infant formula, milk protein concentrates and skim milk powder. This means that Canada has agreed to absolute limits of exports in those categories. Furthermore, if we exceed those thresholds, we then have to place a punitive tariff, which would essentially price us out of the market.

I would like to know if we have an economic impact statement on how this will affect the future growth of the industry. Has the government done an analysis of how close our industry already is to those threshold limits? Furthermore, in the coming into force provisions of the agreement, are we giving our producers enough time to compensate and deal with those changes?

Through the debate on Bill C-4, I would really like members of the House to think about how we can have a better process in place for future trade negotiations.

We all know that the negotiation of international treaties, such as trade treaties, is a royal prerogative of the Crown. It is a latent power of the Crown, held over from centuries ago. It is certainly within the executive's right to negotiate deals. However, the problem is that when we get the final product in the House of Commons, all we are allowed to do is to vote yes or no. The deal has already been signed. Our role is limited only to implementing legislation.

I know there have been consultations with many groups, but if we could find a process whereby members of Parliament actually have that opportunity to have a more fulsome discussion, where we can state what are objectives are and have a more fulsome role, as they do in the European Parliament and in the United States Congress, then we could take this opportunity to ensure that in future negotiations, perhaps with the United Kingdom, we would go in as the people's representatives with a much better idea of exactly what we are trying to achieve.

I look forward to any questions that my colleagues may have.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is encouraging to hear that the New Democratic caucus has taken a look at the important issue of trade, particularly the $2 billion a day of trade between Canada and the United States, not to mention the importance of trade in North America.

As the member reflects on the old trade agreement between Canada and the U.S.A., would he agree that there are significant changes in this new agreement? He has made reference to some of them. I have talked a great deal about the issue of supply management. We hear a lot about the guarantees on aluminum, the 70%. There are things in the agreement that ultimately are better for the environment and other social progressive measures.

We recognize that everyone believes we could have a better deal, but from our perspective, this is a good deal for Canadians. Could he tell us why he feels it is an important agreement to pass?

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, the choice before us in the House of Commons is whether, through the implementation of Bill C-4, we want to go back to the old NAFTA, which is not a possible route anymore given that the United States and Mexico have ratified the new agreement, or go to something that is slightly better.

I would refer my colleague back to my remarks during my speech. The Liberals were well prepared in the last Parliament to barge ahead with an agreement that was not quite acceptable. There were still some glaring holes. My main point of contention, my main criticism, is that Canada had to rely on the actions of U.S. Democrats to get a better deal. If we had proceeded with what the Liberals wanted, we would not have these improvements before us today. We had to rely on the actions of a foreign government, and that is unfortunate.

I hope the Liberals will take a lesson from this and take stock from our suggestion that there is now an opportunity before us to have a better process in place.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague mentioned that this deal seemed to be slightly better than the previous NAFTA. I continue to call it “half NAFTA” or “halfta”.

We went backwards on one thing. CNBC reported recently that there was now a sunset clause in this deal. Does the member think a sunset clause is a better part of “halfta” than NAFTA?

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, we have to realize just who we were negotiating with. The United States President often changed his position and the Americans were driving a hard bargain. In particular, I would like to know how we agreed to place threshold limits on our dairy exports.

It is important that we send the legislation to the international trade committee where we can hear from witnesses and really start to dissect the process that put us where we are at today. This could be a thing for us to worry about in 16 years time, which I am led to believe is the correct number. However, that is certainly why the international trade committee has to do its important work, even from the agricultural industry's perspective. A lot of stakeholders have already been knocking on my door, expressing an interest in giving their viewpoint. There is a wide spectrum of opinion depending on which particular industry one is a member of.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook Nova Scotia

Liberal

Darrell Samson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

Madam Speaker, my colleague has a way of drilling down to the key issues and I appreciate the way he does that.

I am sure he remembers last year when we were talking about the trade deal in the House, CUSMA or NAFTA 2.0, whatever one wanted to call it at the time. The President of the United States said that he would not sign a deal without a sunset clause in it. He was referring to five years. We did not accept that. However, the Conservatives were asking us to sign the deal at that time.

The President also said that he would not sign a deal with supply management included in it. It is still there, and that is important.

Dispute resolution is in the new agreement and even better.

Does the member want to share—

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

February 3rd, 2020 / 4:50 p.m.

Brossard—Saint-Lambert Québec

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes LiberalThe Assistant Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, a very quick answer.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I do not know if I have time to answer three separate questions, but what I will say is let us use this to recognize there is an opportunity here to allow Parliament to have a greater role in future negotiations. If we went into these negotiations understanding exactly what our red lines and objectives were, people could have more confidence in the process. In the end, we would have greater buy-in than having a bill presented to us with simply a yes or no answer.