Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to stand in the House today to speak to Bill C-30, the culmination of the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the EU, or CETA as it has become well known.
This landmark and progressive trade agreement, as the minister commented, is the result of years of hard work from 2009 to 2014 when we signed the agreement in principle. I welcome the opportunity to bring this deal that we struck as a government into force here today.
I congratulate the current trade minister for taking the next steps with this agreement, but I do wish she would do the same for the TPP. It is as progressive as, if not more so than, CETA. We would like to see it on the agenda soon as well.
The trade minister commented that she had just gotten back from Lima at five this morning. I just got back from Russia a little before that, so I have had maybe an hour's more sleep than she has. I do wish I could tell her that it is going to get easier, that the time away from family and so on will be made up for in the deals that we strike and the work we do on behalf of Canadians. However, it does not. We are in opposition, but there are still those international functions that we have to attend to continue that work to benefit Canadians and make sure that our future is bright.
I would also be remiss if I did not mention her parliamentary secretary, the long-suffering gentleman that he is. Having said that, he is a tremendous resource for us on the committee. He does a great job there. He is very stable, calm, and collected. Although he does not take part in much in the day-to-day operations, he is there as a resource when we go in camera and so on. I have had the opportunity to sit on a number of media panels with him, as well. He is a gentleman. Having been a trade professor for a number of years on trade, he understands the importance of trade to Canada's economic prosperity.
CETA at the time was cutting edge and one of the most ambitious trade agendas we had ever seen. That is why the Liberals have begun calling it the “gold standard”, which of course is true for other agreements that we did, like the TPP.
In the previous government, under the leadership of the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, my colleague and friend, the minister, the member for Abbotsford, and I were able to negotiate, together with a number of our cabinet colleagues and a number of people from what is now called Global Affairs Canada, agreements with 46 different countries. That was unprecedented in this country's history. I am proud to have been a big part of those successes and for the role that my staff played in that as well.
None of that could have been possible without all of the people who work with and for us, right from front to back benches, side to side, people of all stripes. At the end of the day, I would be remiss if I did not mention someone like Steve Verheul . I got to know Steve some 10 years ago, when he was our long-suffering representative at the WTO, carrying that sort of schizophrenic trade agenda that we had, protecting these portions and putting them up for trade agreements. Steve did a fantastic job. He is one of those soft-spoken, quiet gentlemen who always had his finger on the pulse of what was going on.
I remember a number of instances in Geneva over the years at the WTO, when the leadership at that time loved to take five major countries, sort of the same ones that have a veto at the UN, into a little, dark room at midnight to try to hammer out a deal that the rest of us would then accept. None of that ever worked.
It was amazing to be with Steve during those clandestine meetings that the director general called at that time. His BlackBerry was always lighting up with messages, “China said this; Russia said that; or America said this, how should I handle it?” Steve always had the answer, always had the way forward. If anyone was the arbitrator or mediator of what kept the WTO alive for a lot of years, it was Steve Verheul with his hand on the lever. We cannot say enough good things about Steve. He's world class. I am not sure what he will do for an encore after CETA. It has cost him some personal time and a tremendous amount of energy. As I said, I am sure he will land on his feet and continue to be be as well-respected as he is.
Even when the work is done, it is not complete. We saw this over this past year, as the minister stirred the pot and everyone told her not to do it. Our chamber of commerce told her not to renegotiate. I know that people from global affairs said do not do this. I will not say who they are because they could get fired. Also, the European business councils that I continue to be in touch with said not to do this.
We covered off all of these little warts and blemishes when we signed the agreement in principle some two years ago, and all of this was not swept under the rug but adjudicated and addressed at that point. With the minister going back in and sort of ripping the scab off, opening Pandora's box, it created the crisis we saw in Wallonia. At the end of the day, we have escaped with a deal that is more or less intact. It is pretty much, I would say 99.9%, exactly what we signed in principle over two years ago.
Since that time, it was not a stalled deal, as the Liberals like to say, but it was moving forward with a legal scrub and translation into a myriad of different languages and texts. Members know how important that is to do.
We see that here. A lot of times when we scrutinize our regs, one word in French will not correlate with a word in English, and we go back and change something that has been written incorrectly for years. A lot of work goes into the legal scrub with that many languages and different legal systems in the EU, the same as we have in Canada with civil law and common law. The European Union has a myriad of different legal options as well.
It is so important that we get this deal right. It was done right. We have 99.9% of it going forward. We do have a vacuum when it comes to the adjudication of future ISDS claims, and there is no doubt in my mind that there will be some. The NDP and some of its cohorts who came before committee, mostly on the TPP, love to say that Canada is the most sued country in the world. While that might be technically true, the reality is that out of several trillion dollars worth of economic activity, we have paid out $170 million in legal costs, and well over two-thirds of that is due to one little misstep by former premier Danny Williams when he took back an American company, saying that he did not like what it was doing and that he would nationalize it, which he did. Under NAFTA, WTO standards and so on, we paid out some $130 million for that. Canada is sued like every other country, but very few claims come to fruition and get paid out. As I said, that is out of more than several trillion dollars worth of economic activity. CETA is a little different from that, in that we have written guidelines.
We will see the elimination of some 94% of the agricultural tariff lines, and that will allow us to export our goods into a $20 trillion economy.
The European Union is a mature market, unlike the TPP, which is an advancing market. We need both. I often call the CETA agreement the “family reunification trade agreement” because a lot of areas in Canada were settled by Europeans almost a century ago.
I see my friend, the chair of the committee, nodding his head. His family came across and took advantage of the Canadian opportunity. CETA will enable us to work with our cousins at home to bring in different products and facilitate that. I am sure we will be able to get a lot more Scottish, Irish, and English products, all of that good stuff that my colleague's family grew up on. We look forward to that.
We have done an economic agenda. The minister made a nod toward that some years ago. That agenda showed that this agreement would return about $1,000 per middle class family and 80,000 new jobs. That is almost enough to make up for what the Liberals lost this past year. The sooner we get this done the sooner we will be back to zero and can move forward with TPP and start to recoup what we lost and gain what is available in that regard.
It is a unique investment. It is a unique opportunity, in that the European Union has a number of trade agreements with countries around the world, but this is the first one that addresses some subsets of labour standards and environmental standards. It provides the EU with a proper way to negotiate new access to some of our GM products. It is a regulatory package that will allow our beef and pork producers to export their produce using different types of wash facilities and so on. There are still some details to be worked out with respect to that, but at least there are guidelines to move forward with the European Union in a timely way so things are not tied up for months and years.
We will see immediate results once CETA is implemented. Our process here is a bit more arcane than some of the Europeans' processes. They will have to work through all of their 28 member states, as we will with the provinces. The minister also pointed out that when we were negotiating this agreement, my friend and colleague from Abbotsford, and of course Steve Verheul, sat down every time it was required with the provinces and territories that were there, along with industry, which had signed non-disclosure agreements. We had some of the biggest fan clubs. The number of those fan clubs for the CETA deal almost measured up to the number of people the Liberals take along with them on environmental deals. These people were there to get the work done and to make sure that the provinces were looked after. I do not see any type of push-back. Some negotiations are still going on with Newfoundland and Labrador on the payments that will be required. That province has stipulated that a certain amount of fish caught in our waters has to be processed in Canada. There will be some changes in that regard.
Kathy Dunderdale, who was the premier at the time, said that all of the $250 million belongs to her province, which was never true. It is for all of Atlantic Canada to drive efficiency and effectiveness in our fish processing system. The Liberals have that one to work out yet before they will get Newfoundland and Labrador onside, but it is certainly in the works.
It is important that we look at trade writ large. We are fully in favour of CETA. In our view, we could not have done any better. A few steps at the end had our heart in our mouths, but in the end it has all worked out, other than for the vacuum we are going to see in the adjudication of any ISDS claims. There is still work to be done in that regard.
The important part of all these trade agreements is that we take more and more eggs out of that American basket. We rely on the Americans for 75% of our overall trade, 98% when we talk about energy products and, depending on what the issue is, we are very much tied to their economic value. As they pull back on the TPP, there is no reason to believe that we cannot join the other six countries that are gung-ho guaranteed to move forward on it, that we cannot join them and rewrite TPP without the Americans. Let us get it done.
Why would we wait for President Obama to decide whether his legacy will be bad or not? He has gone from being in a lame duck session to a dead duck session, so we have to start moving forward, get this done, join Mexico, Japan, Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. All of them have got it working through their parliaments right now. We have to look at trade writ large. We need that diversity to move away from those holdings in the American market.
We see that when the Americans arbitrarily bring forward things like country-of-origin labelling. There are whispers down there right now again that they will reinvent that. They cannot. We won that fight at the WTO. They would have to change it considerably to bring back anything that looked like Buy America or country-of-origin labelling. As much as that raises red flags, they are only at half-mast, because we did win that particular fight, and we would certainly take up that fight again. We would from the opposition side, I can guarantee that.
At the end of the day it was a good win, but it takes time and there is trade hurt when that is done, so having regulatory packages built in to things like CETA and TPP that really nip those types of negative movements in the bud are very important to take advantage of, and we intend to make sure those are there.
Having both CETA and the TPP in our park would give us access to 80% of the world's GDP, almost a billion consumers who are willing to buy. The difference between CETA and the TPP is that CETA is a mature market. It has been around for a long time. It has trillions of dollars in market potential for us. All we have to do is double or triple a couple of things that we have the capacity to do and we are talking a huge win on both sectors.
The thing with the TPP is it is an emerging market. We are talking middle classes that are growing, their palate is changing, and they are asking for more types of westernized cuisine. In some cases, God help them, but in other cases, it is good for our exports. We will ship them all the burgers and beer they can handle and make money doing it.
It is in our best interests to have that diversity in our trade portfolio, having both the mature markets that take certain cuts of the beef and having the opening markets to take other cuts. We have countries in that Pacific Rim that will make use of a lot of products that we do not when it comes to a livestock animal or when it comes to grain products and pork products and so on. It then adds to the value of that product here in Canada. It changes our processing somewhat. We have to learn to sell what they want, not what we have, but that is just an educational thing that the market will take care of.
It is one of consistency. Canada has been a trading nation since beaver pelts were currency. We are going back a long time. Having said that, trade is still currency. It is still what drives our economy. The little discussion that the minister and I had was on moving forward on trade, setting the standard, and the social side of it that we have to talk to people about. There is a lot of angst out there on media websites and so on about what could go wrong, but there is very little on what goes right in these types of agreements, driving our economic agenda.
We have seen in the last few days our Prime Minister roll over and say, “Sure, we will sit down and renegotiate NAFTA, why wouldn't we?” but at the end of the day we do not start with a position of surrender to having any kind of positive drive on that. Certainly, NAFTA is 20-some years old. There are things in there that need to be modernized. There are things happening now that were not even discussed 20-some years ago, the digital age and all of those things that need to be addressed.
Yes, there are certain things that we need to look at, certain things we need to get on top of, and if we can roll in irritants like the softwood lumber agreement into a new, improved, long-term NAFTA agreement, everybody would benefit. We would not have these legal fights that cost billions of dollars and hurt our industry overall.
Before the Prime Minister sidelines our economic activity by saying we will take whatever the Americans give us, we should be negotiating from a power position. We have resources the Americans are envious of and require. Keystone XL is a case in point. We saw the president of the day in the U.S. veto it, not based on science or on his economic standards, because it has passed all of that, but based on the fact that his major fundraisers were against it.
Hopefully with the new president, who really does not require the same fundraising, we will see some movement on that. He has already been very positive in that regard, but if the Americans are to take that sector of our energy and our resources, then they have to take our energy and our resource sector writ large. What is very important in renegotiating things like NAFTA is to set the standards of what it is we will not take less than, rather than just saying, “Hey, let us do this” and leave it open-ended.
We are seeing a lot of the TPP countries questioning what the Americans have up their sleeve when it comes to trade and when they start talking about renegotiating NAFTA. It is one thing to do it during a political cycle when one is campaigning hard. At that time, we saw Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and president wannabe Bill Clinton both decry NAFTA. They said they would never sign it, they would tear it up, that it would never be in their best interests. Within months, both of them signed it and never looked back. However, they all took credit for it stating, “Look at what wonderful things we did.”
NAFTA was a negotiation by the Conservative government of the day, which faced the wrath of Canadians at the election at one point. That was one of many issues that led to its downfall. However, to be progressive and to have an open society we have to do what we are good at. We are good at trade. We are good producing grapple grommets. The one thing we have never come to grips with is doing some value-added to the grapple grommets before we ship them out of the country and get that side agreement on labour standards, and so on.
We have already seen major changes in our automotive sector. As a political neophyte, I remember during the NAFTA discussions thinking that our our wine industry would be decimated before it even got up and running, and yet it has become an international success story. We cannot go anywhere in the world without seeing some Canadian wines on display. We take international awards every year for the great quality products that we ship out. Therefore, there is from trade that underlying driver of efficiencies and innovation, which make us even stronger and better. Certainly, there are transition times required. We have seen that with our dairy industry and the compensation package that has been offered for the 17,000 tonnes of cheese that will be coming in on an annual basis. However, that will not grow. It is a static number. At the same time, we have unlimited access back into the European market once our guys figure out how to do that with a global cost-pricing structure. They have done it for pizza kits here in Canada, so we know they can do it moving forward.
At the last Paris show that I was involved in, there were 30-something Canadian groups there marketing their products. That was a tremendous opportunity. Although maple syrup is well known, many of them were winning awards for their fine cheeses. Therefore, we know we are world class. We know we can step up and provide whatever is required by the world. We know we can grow our trade. However, we need a government that is ready, willing, and able to take those steps. We are seeing some final steps here, such as getting to the podium to accept the medal after the relay race is done. I was happy to be part of that relay race. However, at the end of the day, there is a lot more trade that needs to be looked at and moved on expeditiously, including the trans-Pacific partnership. We hope we will see these types of actions moving forward on the TPP soon.