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.