Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
The trade agreement with Ukraine was done in 2015 and was originally negotiated under the Conservative government. It removed tariffs on 86% of all exports. That agreement really showed support to Ukraine when it needed it. It was there to give it a hand up. It laid the groundwork for creating perfect and good partnerships with Canada and Ukraine and for building on our relationship, which has been going on for years and years.
My riding of Prince Albert has a strong Ukrainian community. Ukrainians are very active in the community. In fact, there is a big festival coming up in a couple of weekends, at which they will be celebrating their heritage again. There are also a lot of Ukrainian refugees in the riding who contribute to our economy. They have basically fit right in and are pulling their weight. I am sure they would rather be back in Ukraine with their families, but we are glad to have them in Saskatchewan, in the riding of Prince Albert. We are making them feel at home, and we are there for them.
This new agreement lays out what I expect in a trade agreement. I am not going to lie. I was actually surprised we made an agreement while the war was ongoing, but looking at Ukraine, I thought we should think about it in a practical sense. Ukraine is going to win this war. I think everybody here believes that Ukraine will win this war. It is going to have to rebuild after the damage that Putin has caused in Ukraine. There is no question about that.
Who is in the best position to help it do that? That would be Canada. That is why we make an agreement like this. We position ourselves to be there not only during the war but also after the war to partner with the Ukrainian people to rebuild their country, to make it the modern country it can be and make it a progressive part of the EU, which I think it will ascend to one day.
We say that is what we expect out of a trade agreement. I expect a trade agreement, first of all, to take advantage of the Canadian skill sets we have. Let us look at the agriculture sector. I used to be the marketing manager in eastern and western Europe for Flexi-Coil, which was owned by Case IH at the time, and for a brief stint, Ukraine was my marketplace. It was one of the areas that I covered.
I went to Ukraine once, and its potential to grow crops was phenomenal, but it did not have the technology. We shipped it air seeders and tractors and got it new genetics. I know other companies go there with cattle genetics and dairy genetics. Canada had all these resources that we shared with Ukraine to build it up, and what did it do? It helped feed the world. Now, with this war, people in northern Africa and places like that may die of hunger because Ukraine is not there to help feed them.
In a scenario like that, with the war and the amount of damage being done, Canada can step in again on the agriculture side to be there for Ukraine, to help rebuild its agriculture sector, its food production and food manufacture. If we look at our manufacturing sector, we have some of the most efficient manufacturers in the world. They have to be. With the carbon taxes and everything they have here, they have to be efficient to compete on the global stage. They are that much better than anywhere else in the world. Canada would be a natural ally to go into Ukraine to help it rebuild its manufacturing sector and their facilities and plants.
We can look at uranium power generation and nuclear technology. Saskatchewan is where uranium is mined, and it is processed in Ontario. When we look at the facilities we have in Canada and what we offer for sale around the world, there is a great partnership to offer to the world. Canada and Ukraine working together could provide green power moving forward. That makes so much sense. I expect a free trade agreement to start to facilitate those types of partnerships and that type of growth.
When I was in western Europe this spring with the foreign affairs committee, one of the discussions was about how to rebuild Ukraine and make sure it has the skill sets, the plumbers, the electricians, the people who would go back to that country after the war to rebuild it. We have talked about how we could use the education system in Canada with the women who are here right now. How can we give them the skill sets so that when they go home, they can contribute to rebuilding their country?
That is something the province of Saskatchewan is looking at very seriously. It is saying that, through its education system, it can do that, making sure people have the proper skill sets, the technology and the know-how to do that, but they also need the resources to do it. They are going to need the lumber, the cement and all the things to finish those projects.
What of those things can come from Canada? Which items can actually be imported from Canada, or maybe from somewhere else, but where the technology and knowledge are transferred into Ukraine? I think there is a tremendous amount of potential there.
As we look at the Canadian Ukrainian community working together, just think about how that partnership can be in the world. When one sees a business that has Ukrainian strengths and Canadian strengths put together, if we think about it, it will compete anywhere in the world.
Ukrainians have one little hurdle, which is Mr. Putin. They have the war to overcome; I am amazed and maybe speechless about just how well they have done and how they have been there, pushing back the Russian forces and fighting for their country and for their people.
One thing I have to say is this: We had a staff member in my office who was from Ukraine, and when the war broke out, she left my office to go back. There is no question of the commitment from people in Ukraine to their country.
Not only Ukrainians from Ukraine but also Ukrainians from around the world are saying the exact same thing: They want to free Ukraine. They want to see their country grow and prosper. Can we give them a hand up and do that?
Can this free trade agreement actually do that? Can it give them a hand up? Can it provide the tools for a prosperous Ukraine after the war?
We need to be there. We cannot neglect things. We cannot say that there are other issues in the world, so we have to water down our support for Ukraine. No, we have to be steadfast, with our chin out, with Ukraine. We have to do what we can to get it through this crisis, this war, and get it back on its feet afterward.
I will tell everyone this: If Canada can do that, we are going to have a good ally and friend for years to come. I just see us building on those strengths. The trade agreement is a great way to do that.
In a trade agreement like this, I expect the markets to be open, with goods coming out of Ukraine. I expect goods to come out of Canada and go to Ukraine. I expect the exchange of technology, labour, knowledge and education systems.
As I said, I expect the uranium sector, the nuclear sector, to be focused on, as well as the commitment to bring that sector together, to actually grow it and to offer that technology throughout the world. We can take our strengths, bring them together and put them on the marketplace.
An FTA can do that. If it is written right, it can do all those things. One thing about an FTA, even now, for the people of Ukraine, is this: They can look at that and say, hey, if it is written right, it is a good agreement.
It is just another reason why we need to fight, to steel our resolve and actually push the Russians and Putin back and get back to some normalcy. I think this FTA could do that. I am looking forward to seeing that as a possibility.
If I look back to the riding and people of Prince Albert, they are free traders. Saskatchewan is a trading province. We export. We produce so much that we have to export. Therefore, we are always in favour of trade and good trade agreements.
With Ukraine, we have technologies that are so common and that have so many advantages we can work together on, and we can work for each other's benefit. It could be a really good relationship moving forward.
I look forward to seeing what is in this agreement. I like the idea of a trade agreement with Ukraine; I always have. I have always liked the idea of giving Ukraine a hand up and being there for them, not only during the war but also after the war. I think there is a possibility of a win-win, if it is done properly.
I think the Ukrainian people will look at us and thank us for being there, both during and after the war. I think they will thank us for being there all the time and consistently.
We have been there since the early 2000s. When the wall came down in Berlin and the Communists left, Canada was one of the first countries to actually start throwing resources into Ukraine. After the war, we will be there to help it again.