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Conservative MP for Abbotsford (B.C.)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 48% of the vote.
Statements in the House
National Defence December 7th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are bungling the replacement of Canada's search and rescue aircraft.
Cascade Aerospace, one of Abbotsford's largest employers, has proposed saving the taxpayers $1.5 billion by completely modernizing the current fleet of Hercules aircraft. It now appears the Liberals have refused to consider that proposal. This decision will kill hundreds of jobs in Abbotsford and will cost Canadian taxpayers dearly.
Why will the defence minister not stand up for B.C. jobs and protect Canadian taxpayers?
Letisha Reimer November 24th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, on November 1, Abbotsford lost a precious teenage life to a senseless act of violence.
Our entire community is grieving the loss of Letisha Reimer. “Letisha was a phenomenal person, and we just love her,” said Mike Olynyk, student ministries pastor at South Abbotsford Church. Mike went on to say, “We miss her, and she will forever be in our hearts, because of how she connected each of us to her and to each other.” The outpouring of love and compassion has been overwhelming.
A community campaign called “Abby Strong” is now raising funds for the families of Letisha and her 14-year-old best friend, who was badly injured. The words “Abby Strong” have been emblazoned on shirts bearing the colours of Abbotsford Senior Secondary School.
I encourage Canadians to visit the Abby Strong Facebook page to see how they too can support these two broken-hearted families.
On behalf of all of us in the House, we send our love and prayers to the families and friends of these two girls. We are, and forever will be, Abby Strong.
The Environment November 23rd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, the government has announced a coal plan that will drive up electricity costs across Canada.
We have seen the story before. In Ontario, Gerald Butts orchestrated the infamous green energy plan, where electricity rates skyrocketed to the highest in North America. The policy was such a disaster that Premier Wynne had to publicly apologize. Now Mr. Butts has convinced the Prime Minister to adopt the same crazy plan.
Why are the Liberals so intent on driving seniors out of their homes and businesses out of our country, and why will the Prime Minister not stop this insanity before he also has to apologize?
International Trade November 22nd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, those were all our Conservative accomplishments.
I can go on and on about how the Liberals are failing Canadian families and workers. Why have they opened up a discussion with the United States on country of origin labelling, when Canada recently won its case at the World Trade Organization? Why did the Prime Minister break his promise to solve the softwood lumber dispute within 100 days of his meeting with President Obama? Do they remember that promise? Do the Liberals not realize how many jobs across Canada and in my home province of B.C. they have put at risk?
International Trade November 22nd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, it is clearly evident that the Liberal's trade agenda is in absolute chaos. There is no softwood lumber agreement, no TPP, and the Liberals have even undermined the protection of Canadian investors under our free trade agreement with the European Union.
The Liberal government does not even understand the damage it will cause to Canada's economy by imposing a massive carbon tax and increasing the price of electricity across Canada.
Why will the Liberals not champion trade, stand up for Canadian workers and businesses, and grow our economy?
Mr. Speaker, I did refer to some of the naysayers in this House as being skeptics and scoffers, and they are exactly that. I do not apologize for that comment at all. These are people who do not understand the role that trade plays in Canada's national prosperity. They have continued to opine that Canada will lose its cultural identity, that we will lose our health care system, that we will lose our pension system, that our economy will be hollowed out, millions of jobs would be lost.
It has been over 25 years that we have had the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA. None of that has happened. History has shown that when trade is done right, it has the capacity to enhance the standard of living for millions and millions of people, not only in Canada, but around the world.
I am encouraging the NDP in this House, for once, to sit down and come up with a coherent trade policy. It supported trade agreements with Jordan and South Korea. However, with one of the most like-minded trading partners, the European Union, New Democrats are now saying no. No one can make sense of their trade policy, so I am asking them to go back to the design board to see if they can get this right.
Mr. Speaker, unlike the Canada-European free trade agreement, the Liberals have not actually come out and said that they support the trans-Pacific partnership. Boy, that would be sad if we were not part of that agreement, if and when it gets ratified.
We are talking about 12 countries representing forward-looking trading partnerships, like Australia and New Zealand. Why would we not want to have a trade agreement with those countries? Japan is the third-largest economy in the world. Why would we not want to have a trade agreement with Japan, to open up new markets for Canadian exporters, especially agricultural producers. Unfortunately, there has been deafening silence on the Liberal side.
When it comes to agriculture, of course, there are some challenges that our agricultural producers face under CETA. We have not yet fully negotiated some of the behind the border standards, and rules and regulations, the sanitary and phytosanitary issues, that bedevil our agricultural exporters.
Unfortunately, as part of this negotiation, the Liberal government opened up the door to the EU actually applying safeguards for import surges, as I mentioned in my speech. We do not know what impact that will have on our producers, such as the beef and pork exporters in Canada.
We are still looking to see what that looks like. It was unfortunate that agreement was opened up as much as it has been. However, it is important for us to focus today on the fact that legislation is before us. If it is passed and this agreement is ratified, it will still be of remarkable benefit to Canadians and our long-term prosperity.
Mr. Speaker, let me first of all commend that member for his good understanding of what CETA entails and what the possible consequences of Brexit could be on this agreement.
I have been involved in some public fora where I have expressed my concern over what Brexit will mean for the Canada-EU free trade agreement. If the U.K. exits, what happens to the market access that we had expected to get? The U.K. is our largest export market in the European Union. Canada's trade relationship with the United Kingdom is one of its most significant trade relationships, so Brexit puts us into uncharted waters. This agreement had essentially been negotiated before Brexit. There were not a lot of people who expected Brexit to happen, but it did.
The member is asking me what the impacts would be if the U.K. exits the agreement and whether I believe that the Liberal government has undertaken the due diligence to understand what this means. I do not know. I am skeptical as to whether the government has done that work. When we were dealing with carbon pricing and a carbon tax, the Prime Minister made it clear that the government did no economic impact analysis on that. I suspect that the announcement the government made about abandoning coal-fired electricity had no economic impact analysis. I suspect that the Brexit impact on this trade negotiation with the EU has also not been well understood by the Liberal government, so I share my colleague's concerns.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his hard work in finally moving this agreement close to the finish line.
I mentioned the Trade Commissioner Service. Industry organizations across the country that represent different industrial sectors have been highly engaged in the negotiations of this free trade agreement. Many of our companies across Canada are members of those associations, whether it is the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the CFIB, or the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters. These are all organizations that have engaged in raising awareness of the opportunities that this trade agreement presents among our small and medium-sized businesses.
Since the member mentioned NAFTA, I will note that back when the North American Free Trade Agreement was being negotiated, the Liberal Party of Canada was against it. The Liberal Party of Canada fought against that agreement every step along the way. That party said we were going to lose our health care system and our pension system. It said we were going to hollow out our economy and that our culture would be gone. Of course, none of that happened.
There is one party in the House that understands trade and the opportunities that trade represents for Canadians, and that is this Conservative Party.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to what is truly an historic trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. I want to begin by extending congratulations, because these kinds of negotiations of free trade agreements, at the best of times, are difficult. When there is an agreement like CETA, which is so complex, it is very difficult to get it to the finish line.
I want to extend congratulations to the Prime Minister and also to his international trade minister for doggedly pushing this file forward. It is this close to the finish line. It is not quite there yet, but it is oh so close.
I also want to thank former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who had the foresight and courage to move ahead with negotiations at a time when many naysayers said that this could not be done. In fact, I recall during these negotiations, which I led for four and a half years, many times when people would come up and say that there was no way we were going to be able to address an issue, and there was no way we would be able to open up agricultural access to the European Union.
Each step along the way, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had our backs. He had the back of our team in making sure we got this done. Our country owes Stephen Harper a tremendous debt of gratitude for his remarkable achievement.
I also want to thank my former cabinet colleagues for enthusiastically supporting this agreement every single step of the way and for providing helpful advice in their areas of expertise. I especially want to congratulate and thank my colleague, the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster, who was the minister of agriculture as our previous Conservative government was negotiating this agreement. He worked on one of the most difficult provisions in this agreement, which is agricultural access to the European Union, and also addressed some of the sensitivities on the Canadian side. He was able to get it done in a way that our stakeholders ended up strongly supporting this agreement.
I am pleased to see that he is now the official opposition's trade critic, holding the Liberal government's feet to the fire as they try to defend and promote Canada's trade interests around the world.
I also wanted to thank chief negotiator Steve Verheul and his large team of sectoral negotiators for a job very well done. These are some of our best Canadian negotiators. They represent the very best Canada has to offer. Their advice is not only sought by us as governments here in Canada but is sought around the world, because Canada is a kinder, gentler, more flexible negotiating partner. However, we are firm. We have resolve when we negotiate. The standard we have set is that we will not negotiate a trade agreement unless it is in Canada's national interest.
I also want to thank my friend, the former premier of Quebec Jean Charest, for first imagining what was possible and then inspiring us to take the first step in broadening our economic partnership with the European Union. That is exactly what this trade agreement achieves. It represents a broadening of our economic partnership with the European Union in a way that many of us could not have imagined a decade ago.
I want to just walk through this agreement. First of all, I want to talk about the agreement itself, the deal, and then the beneficiaries of this agreement. I want to talk about the opportunity this represents for Canadians and also the challenges we still face in getting this agreement over the line.
This agreement is the most comprehensive the world has ever seen. I say that without reservation. It delves into areas that were never considered before as being possible within a trade agreement.
This agreement has been compared to the North American Free Trade Agreement, and I would admit that NAFTA is still the definitive trade agreement between Canada and its two North American partners. Because of the scope and size of that relationship, it also dwarfs all the other trade relationships we have around the world.
CETA is much more comprehensive. It is a complex agreement. It means that it took longer to negotiate because of the complexities and because we needed to have this agreement be in Canada's national interest.
I recall on a number of occasions when we, the Canadian team of negotiators, had to leave the table. We had to say that the deal on the table was not in Canada's interest. Then a month or two later, we would go back and the other side would come back, and we would come up with new approaches to some of the obstacles that faced us, and we would find ways through those obstacles.
This agreement is complex because of the novel and bold approaches the two sides agreed to take. For example, in negotiating expanded services access, services like engineering, digital technology, and information technology, we want to make sure that Canadians have an expanded marketplace in the world to sell high-quality services into. For the first time ever, Canada and the EU agreed to use a negative list approach to negotiating services. What that means is that if a service is not included on the list of approved services for additional market access, or if it is not specifically excluded, any future services that might be developed in a rapidly evolving global marketplace would be captured by this agreement and would be provided full access into the EU and Canada. That is unique in this agreement.
What else is unique is that for the first time ever, Canada had its provinces and territories at the negotiating table when it came to areas of their sole or shared jurisdiction. What this allowed us to do was to secure outcomes that none of our trade agreements before had ever secured. There was, for example, an outcome on government procurement. When a government goes out and solicits contracts for services, for properties, or goods and services, whenever that happens, typically governments protect their home market. What we have done is expanded government procurement access for Canadian companies to start bidding on projects within the European Union, the world's largest service market. Again, we were able to come up with a highly ambitious outcome on government procurement.
We know that trade, when done right, benefits all partners and has the potential to raise living standards and prosperity all around the world. That is also why we took great care in negotiating outcomes in things such as goods trade; services trade; technical barriers to trade; labour mobility; the environment, which Canadians care very much about; intellectual property and protecting our innovators; geographical indications; and as I mentioned, government procurement.
For example, in the area of trade in goods, which includes things such as agricultural products, automobiles, and fish and seafood, we have some of the best quality fish and seafood products in the world. When it comes to forestry products, and equipment and machinery, we have opened up the marketplace in the EU for those products. We would be eliminating 98% of all tariffs that presently face Canadian exporters within the European marketplace, including the 10% tariff on Canadian cars when they are sold in that market. That is good news for our auto industry.
This agreement is also very special because it provides Canada with unique global market access to both the European Union and the United States. We already have a free trade agreement, NAFTA, with the United States and Mexico, but we are the first major economy in the world to also have a free trade agreement with the European Union, a marketplace of over 500 million consumers. This is a huge advantage for Canada.
We also negotiated services. The question we had to ask was where does Canada's comparative advantage lie? Where does Canada, as a highly developed, highly educated, highly innovative country have an advantage? It is not in manually sitting on a production line, putting together widgets. That is not the future for Canada. The future for Canada is in the knowledge economy. That is where our future prosperity lies. It is in areas such as engineering, digital animation, gaming, health services, education, cybersecurity, information technology, and so many other areas that have high-paying jobs and are the economy of the future.
Let me give the example of engineering. Did members know that Canada is the third-largest exporter of engineering services in the world? We are a country with a small population of 35 million in a global marketplace of seven billion people up against giants like Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States, and we rank third. These are high-paying jobs. Canadians are carving out a reputation for their innovation and excellence and the quality of the services they provide. This trade agreement would dramatically improve the export potential of these services.
Let me talk a bit about the beneficiaries of this agreement.
Of course, there are the manufacturers and the exporters who want to access the European marketplace but who have, for so many years, been unable to do so because of high tariffs and very high non-tariff barriers, meaning all the rules and regulations and standards behind the borders that frustrate our exporters and provide protection for European companies. In large part, we are addressing those challenges both on the tariff and non-tariff sides. It is good news for manufacturers and for exporters.
It also means greater mobility for the workforce that our manufacturers have. The ability to move professionals back and forth between our two trading partners and to move senior management personnel back and forth seamlessly has been improved in this agreement.
Investors will be very happy because if the investor-state dispute settlement measures are in fact brought into force, our investors would have greater protection against discrimination and expropriation without compensation within the European Union.
I have already mentioned our service providers and what a huge market they would now have available to them. They are going to be very happy.
Then there are those who sometimes slip through the cracks, and those are Canada's consumers. When we remove tariff barriers on the European side, what happens? We get access to their marketplace. We would also remove tariff barriers on the Canadian side, which means Canadian consumers would have access to better-quality products at better prices, improving their value proposition. This is excellent news for Canada's consumers, who are trying to make the buck stretch a little farther. That is what we would accommodate here.
Some people have said that there are going to be winners and losers. Certainly there are going to be a lot of winners under this agreement. When we witness the hundreds of industry stakeholders and the owners of thousands of companies across Canada who have voiced support for this trade agreement with the European Union, clearly there would be many winners in this agreement. But we live in a rapidly changing world where creative disruption is becoming the norm, and Canadians must be ready and willing to adapt. I know there are going to be many winners under this agreement. There will also be some who will be adaptors, who will have to adapt.
Let me give an example of why I believe Canadians are up to this challenge. When the Canada–U.S. Free Trade Agreement was being negotiated some 25 years ago, the wine industry in Canada said that the government could not open up the border to U.S. wines, that it would cause the industry to go bankrupt, that the industry would be lost, that it would be over. The government of the day, Brian Mulroney's Conservative government, at least had the vision and the understanding of what Canadians were capable of. The agreement came into force and the industry stakeholders decided to reinvest in who they are as a wine industry. They invested in technology, in knowledge, and decided simply to get better at what they do here in Canada when it comes to the wine industry. Today, 25 years later, we have a world-ranking wine industry, not because we are protecting the industry with artificial barriers but because the people in the industry are simply good at what they do. They are among the very best in the world, winning awards all over the world. To those Canadians who may find themselves adapting to this agreement, take courage. We are innovative as Canadians. We can address changes in the evolving global marketplace, and this agreement would certainly achieve that.
Let me talk about the opportunity.
As with all other trade negotiations, CETA was a very difficult one. In fact, it was among our most difficult negotiations, because of the high level of ambition of both the European Union and Canada in the negotiations. It was a highly complex negotiation, one that involved new and novel approaches.
We now have this agreement almost in place, and it puts Canada in the enviable position, as I mentioned earlier, of having a free trade agreement with both the European Union and the United States. Let us think of the advantage that Canadian companies now have over the United States. The United States is one of our fiercest competitors. It does not have a free trade agreement with the European Union. It started negotiating one that has badly stalled. Now with the election of President-elect Donald Trump, we expect that there will be very little, if any, further movement on negotiating a trade agreement between the United States and the EU, which they called TTIP. That means that Canadian companies now have a once in a lifetime advantage over their American competitors to access the European market. That is why we are encouraging them to get out there and be proactive, and start exploring the European marketplace.
It is also a huge opportunity for us to attract investment from parts of the world that traditionally have not looked at Canada, because we now have a truly competitive investment advantage over other countries around the world, having access to a consumer market, including the U.S. and EU, of 800 million consumers.
Are there still challenges? Of course there are. CETA has not yet passed the European Parliament. We expect that will happen this December. I am hoping that it will in fact pass. It is also now generally acknowledged that the CETA that the government negotiated is actually a lesser agreement than what our Conservative government had originally negotiated. For whatever reason, the Liberal government agreed to reopen discussions. I fear that the investor-state dispute settlement part is going to end up falling by the wayside because it is are no longer part of provisional coming into force of the agreement. The regional governments throughout Europe will now have a say in whether they approve of that. My concern is that it will never see the light of day. I believe this may be a lesser agreement than we had bargained.
I also note that the European Union agreed to provide its regional governments with agricultural safeguards to protect against import surges, something we did not expect to happen. It is not clear what impact that provision is going to have on our agricultural producers, like the beef and pork exporters in Canada. There is also further work required to address some of the behind-the-border issues, the sanitary and phytosanitary standards that concern our producers.
I also note that the compensation package that our government had announced for the dairy producers is now being abandoned by the Liberal government. It is a lesser package that they are offering to the dairy industry. We are very disappointed in that.
Finally, we also have to inspire our small and medium-sized businesses to take advantage of this agreement. Canadians are notoriously cautious when it comes to expanding their export and trade horizons. I would just encourage Canadian companies, that if they are going to go to one source, go to the point source for information on trade in Canada. That is our Trade Commissioner Service. I got to know these folks well. They are some of the very best professionals, the most knowledgeable trade experts in the world. There is about 1,000 of them across Canada and around the world in 150 offices with one goal, to promote Canadian businesses and Canadian business interests all around the world. Businesses should go to the Trade Commissioner Service if they are looking for opportunities.
This free trade agreement is about a bold, new future for Canada. Let me be clear that trade is not for the weak-kneed or the faint of heart. It is not for the timid or for those who cower in the face of adversity. It is not for the skeptics and scoffers. I note there are some in the corner of the House today. There is a tinfoil hat brigade in the corner of the House that does not understand trade and the opportunities to use trade to grow our national prosperity.
Trade is for champions. It is for people who measure and take calculated risks, who venture beyond the status quo and beyond the same old, same old. It is for visionaries who seize opportunity when it comes knocking, and achieve extraordinary results for the people they serve, their companies, their employees, and their country.
I am honoured to be surrounded today by many of my colleagues who share that vision of trade, who are champions in their own right, and who are prepared to do the heavy lifting to ensure that CETA lifts Canada up to unprecedented prosperity.
Let us get to work. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Canadians we represent. Let us not squander that advantage.