Madam Speaker, this is such great debate following the CUSMA deal that was just finished. There are a lot of things we could learn from our negotiations and handling of that process.
I think back when we first heard that the Trump administration wanted to renegotiate NAFTA, and the fear that was in the eyes of Liberals, Canadian businesses and everybody else. I remember the first few times we went to the U.S. to talk to people in Congress and in Senate about the relationship with Canada, and how we talked about how important Canadian businesses were in each of their districts. We talked about things that were important to the U.S. and how Canada has an impact on those things.
I also remember, after having those meetings, sitting down with the member for Malpeque, former member Hon. Mark Eyking, and members of the trade committee and saying it is a relationship we take for granted, a relationship that just happens. Roughly $2 billion and 300,000 people cross that border every day during normal times. It just happens and it is so simple.
When we see a threat, we start to ask if we have done the right things to nurture that relationship and if we have always been involved and working closely with our American friends in a way that we should be, making sure that each country understands the importance to the other.
That is what I saw when we went to Washington during the CUSMA negotiations. The Prime Minister would make a gaffe, a comment that would blow up in the media. We would go down to talk to members of the Republican and Democratic parties to set the record straight, reminding them over and over again what we do together and how we are better together than apart.
That was one of the frustrations of the CUSMA agreement. It was an agreement that did not look at where we could gain strengths from all three different countries. It was an agreement that looked to protect what we had or what we could get from each other. That goes against the spirit of North America and the original NAFTA agreement.
That is why I think the committee could be really good. There would be opportunities to identify things that could work well for Canada and Canadian workers, and that could take advantage of the strengths that the U.S. has. It could also work well for the U.S. We need to look for those synergies. There are things we could do together in a variety of ways, not only in trade but also in foreign and military affairs, that would make us stronger together. Canada has a lot to contribute to that relationship. I will use a few examples.
Let us talk about regulations. We have always talked about having the same regulations. I find it interesting that when we travel to the U.S., we will find something that is safe to eat in the U.S. but when we come back to Canada we find that we cannot eat it here.
I will use the agriculture sector as an example. We look at things that at one time we either could not get or was hard to get in Canada, yet we could across over to Montana and get it. There were farmers who would actually hop in a van together and go down to buy it and come back. That difference does not make sense. Why would that regulation not be harmonized so that it would be consistent, whether in Montana or Saskatchewan, basically anywhere where beef is moving across the border all the time. Why would we have different rules and regulations?
We could really use the committee to identify some of those things that are becoming barriers that make us non-competitive in the world market. We could use the committee to look at solutions for things that make us uncompetitive and to remove those barriers while maintaining the safety of American and Canadian citizens. It could set the stage or standard around the world. We could be such a dominant player in so many areas.
It is really important to look at new technologies and clean technologies, which some of the other members have talked about today. When we think about clean technologies, as these new regulations are being developed, why would we not do this in conjunction with the U.S., using their strengths and our strengths together, so that we would force the rest of the world to actually follow those regulations? It would give us a competitive advantage. It would be the right way to do things. We know that if we do it here at home, in conjunction with the U.S., it would be done properly and safely. The end-user and consumer would be front and foremost. We have those skill sets. We just have to have the desire to work together to accomplish that.
We have seen buy American surface and the cancellation of Keystone. These are disturbing things that just re-emphasize the fact that we need to be down there constantly talking to our American colleagues and explaining to them how it is important to us and impacts us.
We were very successful in the CUSMA agreement talking about the importance of that relationship and putting it in the perspective of what it meant to members in different districts and to the Canadian economy. Sometimes I wonder if we need to do the same thing in Canada, if we need to start going across the provinces to talk about how important it is to buy a truck from Ontario, to get propane out of Alberta, to get lobster out of Nova Scotia and to get softwood lumber out of B.C., and what that would mean to all of us to have access to all of those great things we make here in Canada.
We could show some pride in our country and brag about that. Sometimes I think we are so focused on doing everything outside Canada that we forget and take for granted all of the wonderful things that we have within our country. There is some work that needs to be done there. Outside of this committee, that would be something else that our governments should get together and move forward on.
Getting back to the idea of a committee, with buy American, we did secure a situation where we had preferential access to that market. We did that, but we had some problems at the state and municipal levels. However, since 2009, we have had 36 states, I believe, that have signed onto the WTO, which would basically remove that problem. When I look at the history of our Prime Minister and his relationship with the new President, I think that would be easier to do now than it would have been under former Prime Minister Harper and President Obama. While I think they worked very well together, they were not necessarily the best of friends. However, they looked at this from both country's perspectives and saw the advantage for both countries, and they managed to get it done. It was tougher at the state and municipal levels, and I think more works needs to be done there, but that work has to happen. It has to happen among all of our trade commissioners and a variety of people we have right across the U.S. who are promoting Canadian goods, and I trust that it is happening today.
Unfortunately, I cannot travel to the U.S. and, unfortunately, the member for Malpeque cannot travel to the U.S. Unfortunately, the Canada-U.S. friendship group cannot do the things it had been doing in the background, such as on CUSMA, as effectively as it could back then. Members can see why this committee should be constructed.
I see so many ways this committee could focus on things that a trade committee or a natural resources committee just could not. We could actually give this the time it requires. We could give this relationship the effort it deserves, considering the importance of it to everybody in North America. I would not be surprised that if we went down this path, Americans would say, “What a great idea. This is our big trading partner. This is North America. Why do we not do the same thing and have that special committee?” We could start to see growth in understanding from talking back and forth, and the benefits for North America, for Canada and the U.S., that would definitely result from it.
There are many more things I could talk about in regards to this, but when I look at this committee, I just see opportunity, and I hope that is how all parties address it. Yes, there are problems and obstacles. It is no different from a family relationship between brothers and sisters, and there are times that are tough. The relationship with the U.S. is sometimes compared to a family relationship and sometimes to a relationship between an elephant and a mouse. Both of these are true. However, we have to work on this relationship and nurture it, and this committee could do that. This committee could have the ability and wisdom to look at things with a different perspective and take the time to talk to experts right across Canada and the U.S. on the best way to proceed.
A case in point is buy America. Why would we not bring in some Canadians, for example, our former ambassador, Mr. MacNaughton, who was there on tour during CUSMA, and listen to their wisdom to formulate a good policy moving forward? Why not bring in former members like Rona Ambrose, Stephen Harper or Ralph Goodale? The sky is the limit as far as the type of people we could bring into a committee like this to seek really good advice. When we have good advice, we make good decisions that are, in my view, to the benefit of all Canadians.
We talked a little about vaccinations, and this is something we should have been talking about five or six years ago when we first had SARS, such that, in North America, if we were to see an outbreak, a pandemic, how would we operate? How would we function? Do we have PPE in America? We could see how much PPE there was in Canada and the U.S. to see if we were covered. These are the types of things that should be talked about strategically.
When we talk about border infrastructure, whether it is the Gordie Howe International Bridge or things like that, these are the strategic investments that we should be making and talking with our American cousins or brothers and sisters about, however we want to call them, about what should be and what it should look like.
When we look at our competitiveness in Asia, we should be talking about that. When we look at China's influence in South America, Latin America or Africa, we should be talking about that and what it means to us. When we talk about rare earth elements, mining and natural resources, these are things we should be discussing amongst ourselves. For example, would we allow them to be purchased by Chinese companies? Are we going to allow these resources to have foreign ownership? Are we going to allow these resources to leave our continent? Do we have the requirements in this regard moving forward?
Again, these are the things we could discuss together in a committee and have good policy that would represent Canadians in the best way.
Members can see that I am very excited about this committee, because I see lots of positives and lots of things that could benefit all of Canada, the U.S. and North America altogether. It would actually—