Madam Speaker, I stand among my colleagues today with the duty of holding the Liberals accountable over the new NAFTA they have agreed to and now asked the House to ratify. I would note that they want us to ratify this as soon as possible, yet they still have not provided the requested documents, including the cost-benefit analysis.
I do intend on voting to ratify this agreement because industry, especially the automotive sector, needs certainty so we can keep Canadians working and obtain new investment. Sadly, it is too late for Oshawa. Though this trade agreement has its issues, the certainty of a trade deal will keep our exporting companies in Canada and hopefully bring an end to four turbulent years.
When the Prime Minister originally took office, he had the TPP and CETA ready to sign. We had good relations with both China and India. There were talks of potential trade agreements with each of those growing economies.
However, both China and India want nothing to do with the Prime Minister and the new TPP is a shell of its original form. It does not include the United States. One in four may be average for a baseball player, but it is an awful record for the Prime Minister.
The government has misstepped at every possible turn on the world stage. In fact, this all could have been avoided five years ago with the signing of the original trans-Pacific partnership in 2015 or 2016. The TPP was set to open up Canada to some of the largest markets in the world, over 1.2 billion people. Canada is now a signatory to a new version of the agreement, but there is one noticeably absent signatory: the United States.
The trans-Pacific partnership, in its original form, was the renegotiation of NAFTA, given both Mexico and the United States were involved in the agreement. It solved key bilateral and, more importantly, multilateral issues. One of the TPP's main purposes was to counter the rapid economic expansionism of China, an issue that is growing larger day by day. China is now holding its economic power over our heads as the Prime Minister tries to navigate the current situation he created.
I rose in this House during the last month of the previous Parliament to raise the point that the Prime Minister had the opportunity to avoid the turbulent last four years of NAFTA renegotiation if he had just signed the original TPP. In response, the member for Mississauga Centre completely ignored history and said, “The claim is that if we had ratified the TPP, it would have solved so many problems, but the U.S. pulled out [of] the TPP.” This attitude is still taken by the Liberals today. They cannot seem to remember that the Prime Minister refused to sign the original TPP more than once.
By October 6, 2015, almost two weeks before the 2015 election, the ministers from each of the 12 signatories gathered to announce that the negotiations were complete for the TPP. All the Prime Minister had to do was put pen to paper.
As reported by Bill Curry on November 15, 2015, 14 months before President Trump was sworn in, the Prime Minister's best friend internationally, Barack Obama, was in the Philippines and referenced Canada when he said, “We are both soon to be signatories of the TPP agreement.” Alas, the Prime Minister did not sign.
If we fast forward to March 2016, it is still nine or 10 months before President Trump took office. This time the Prime Minister said he was confident that the softwood lumber dispute would be resolved in a matter of weeks to a month under the TPP, a sentiment shared by President Obama during the Prime Minister's first official to the White House. Sadly, the Prime Minister did not sign again. Even with the most progressive president in recent U.S. history and the Prime Minister's BFF, he refused to sign the agreement because it was not progressive enough for him.
Virtue-signalling aside, the TPP was important because it was set to resolve many issues that we still face today. For example, under the agreement, there would not have been issues with section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs. Signing that agreement would have stopped this years-long debacle in its tracks before it even started.
President Trump may have been able to renegotiate a trade agreement with two other countries, as he did with NAFTA, but he did that over the past two years. Trying to negotiate a trade deal with 11 other signatories would have been next to impossible and the original TPP was a template for that agreement going forward. If the Prime Minister had signed the TPP in the first place, this mess he created would likely have been avoided.
The handling of the TPP was the first time the Prime Minister angered other world leaders, but it would not be the last. After the Prime Minister kicked the TPP down the road, a new president took the Oval Office. President Trump pulled our southern neighbour out of the agreement.
The remaining countries proceeded without the U.S. and were ready to sign in 2017. In fact, the leaders of each soon-to-be signatory gathered in a room for a historic event, but the Prime Minister decided to play hooky and refused to sign once again.
The Prime Minister was nowhere to be found; he just did not show up. Over and over again, the Prime Minister has failed Canada on the international trade file and has angered our global partners.
In response to these antics, the leaders of the aspiring TPP signatories were outraged. High-level Australian officials described the Prime Minister's no-show as “sabotaging the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, according to the National Post. One official even told Australia's ABC News that Canada screwed everybody. How bad does it have to be for Australia to get so upset?
The Prime Minister later signed the updated agreement, but not until he angered world leaders and waited for the United States to withdraw.
It gets worse. In 2017, when President Trump officially indicated his intention to renegotiate NAFTA, the administration issued a list of specific provisions and issues that it was looking to have renegotiated. At that time, it put forward concerns regarding supply management, rules of origin and other specific areas of interest. The Liberal government responded by voicing its outspoken commitment to the so-called progressive agenda and did not even address the list of priorities put forward by the United States administration.
This began a negotiating process that saw our U.S. counterparts leave the negotiating table and deal only with Mexico until they had worked out all the details, without Canadian input. The government's inability to get the job done appropriately led Canada to an agreement that would only maintain certain standards and provisions, but would gain nothing over the original NAFTA agreement.
This is basically a Mexico-United States agreement, and we are only involved because Mexico felt bad for Canada. The Liberal government's negotiating team was forced to sit at the kids' table while the adults settled the details.
I have never been the prime minister of this great country, but it does not take a genius to know that if one screws up an opportunity like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one should at least try to make up for it. However, the Prime Minister decided not to bring an end to the softwood lumber dispute and made our trade relationships with lndo-Pacific nations like China and India even worse.
Rather than finding a solution to the softwood lumber dispute and getting exemptions to buy America, the Prime Minister's logic has been to give away our trade sovereignty to the United States. For example, if Canada wants to sign a trade agreement with a non-market economy like China, we now have to ask the U.S. for permission. The last time I checked, Canada was a strong, powerful country that should not need to ask dad for a treat.
I can understand why the Prime Minister might not trust his own decision-making, but to forfeit Canada's sovereignty is not the solution. The Prime Minister needs to understand that people's entire livelihoods are at stake when he repeatedly makes mistakes that could have been easily avoided. We know this all too well in Oshawa: Our assembly plant did not receive a new product allocation. While the Prime Minister dithered, Oshawa lost.
We are debating this bill in its current form, yet issues remain. On December 12, members of the Conservative caucus requested the release of the economic impact study for the new NAFTA agreement. It has now been 54 days since the request and we have yet to see the report.
On this side of the House, we have been asking when the economic impact study will be released and, as usual, the Prime Minister and his government are ducking the questions. It is a simple question that does not need to be dodged. The economic impact study will give greater insight on the effects of the agreement. The question remains: What do the Liberals have to hide?
This study is important because Canada deserves a trade agreement that will benefit all of us. For example, something that is very important in my community is that the agreement requires that 40% of cars produced in Mexico be completed by workers making at least $16 per hour. However, because of this, there is an assumption that automotive manufacturing jobs will migrate north. How many jobs are expected to be created in Canada? It is impossible to know because the economic impact study has not been released. As well, what effect will this have on the price of cars? Again, we do not know, because the Liberals refuse to release the study.
With that said, I plan on supporting the deal. Though the agreement has issues as a result of the Prime Minister's bad decisions, premiers, small businesses, farmers and manufacturers need the certainty so they can resume their day-to-day business. Canadian businesses cannot wait any longer for certainty and they need to make investments and decisions for their livelihoods. Canadians need a deal, and that is why I plan on supporting the agreement.