Mr. Speaker, let me also congratulate my friend across the way. I see another friend from the trade committee. We are getting some great work done. As he is rightly pointing out, there are a tremendous number of opinions out there as to what constitutes good trade, what constitutes progressive trade, and what constitutes us giving away the country that I do not agree with.
Having said that, we are a trading nation. We always have been. It was traders who came to this great country and settled it many years ago. The first nations that were here when they arrived were traders, and they continue to be. We had several of them before committee yesterday. There is a huge contradiction, whether they are for it or against it, what the day is, and so on.
On Bill C-13, lucky 13, the trade facilitation act, a number of things come into play. The former minister was up just a moment ago talking about how difficult it was. I happened to be at that particular WTO meeting in Bali. It was one of the last ones I attended. It was always interesting to see the countries siding with certain other countries. He said that there is a tremendous amount of disagreement between the developed, the developing, and the underdeveloped countries and how we get from one level to the other, with everyone scrambling.
The unfortunate part with the WTO is that it seems to want to bring everyone down to a median as opposed to lifting everyone up. That is what caught my attention at my first WTO meetings, almost a decade ago in Geneva. What we were discussing then was already irrelevant, but we were trying to get that passed so we could move on. Rather than shift it aside and move on to something more relevant, they were stuck in a situation where everyone had a veto and they really could not move forward. To actually bring this through in the Bali package, as it was called, and India was very much against it, took another year of negotiation back in Geneva.
It takes two-thirds of the membership of the WTO to make this happen, so roughly 108 countries have to agree. Once we get this done here in the next little while, we will be number 82, so there is still a tremendous amount of work to do before it actually comes into play.
What it seeks to do is level the playing field to create more predictability and stability in trade corridors around the world. These are global trade corridors now. Certainly, Canada is part of all that global movement. However, it will also help the developing countries.
The parliamentary secretary talked about the women entrepreneurs around the world. I could not agree with him more. That is one of the strengths I see in the TPP, which hopefully we will get to at some point in this august House as well. There are labour and environmental standards, and it seeks to reinforce them throughout the world.
Countries that are involved in the TPP, like Vietnam, are looking forward to it. I had a good opportunity to be in Vietnam about a year or a year and a half ago. It is looking forward to using our level of labour standards, our workers' compensation, and a number of other things to reinforce its ability to grow. It has an economy of some 80 million people in a small area. It does a lot of secondary processing that goes into other economies around the world through any trade corridors that work. There are a tremendous number of women involved in what happens in Vietnam. It is looking forward to that. With the environmental standards, too, it does not have to commit the errors that a lot of us, as growing economies, did. It does not have to go through coal-fired generation. It can go right to something green. There are all those opportunities out there as well.
I agree with the parliamentary secretary on this. If I say that three times, someone slap me, because that will be enough.
At the end of the day, this is all about making sure that we have global standards that are enforceable. As obsolete as the WTO is at times on certain fronts, it really is the only rules-based organization that everyone belongs to. We used that operation when we were taking the United States to task on country-of-origin labelling. The parliamentary secretary will have an idea of how much work went into that over the two or three years it took to wind through the appellate body at the WTO. It started to come together fairly quickly when the United States realized that it had run out of options, and it finally put forward a piece of legislation and took that off its agenda.
However, they are the only rules we have on a multilateral stage. We have rules involved in NAFTA. We have rules involved in the TPP. There are rules involved with the CETA and ISDS adjudication, which is groundbreaking. We look forward to those rules being put in place and having the ability to argue our side, make our case, and move forward.
It takes things like this TFA, almost housekeeping, because it is sort of reactionary to what has happened before. It needs to be addressed, but it is not forward looking, as we see in some of the movement we have with the CETA and the TPP. It is today's economy.
When I was first elected to this place almost 20 years ago, cell phones were not in vogue. Few people had them, so at one point I took my garage door opener with me a couple of times just to make it look like I was part of the in-crowd. Now everything is done at the speed of commerce. We have to address those situations throughout the world and go back into some trade agreements and address how we download cultural products and so on.
There is a lot of concern about getting it right as we move to that in CETA and the TPP. I think we have. A lot of consultation went on with respect to both of those agreements as we moved forward page by page. The former minister of trade and I worked hard. The TPP agreement is 6,000 pages long. There is a lot of stuff in it. We went through it page by page as it developed over the years Canada was involved in negotiating it.
I want to take a moment to congratulate all the great people at DFAIT, as it was called at that time. Now it is called Global Affairs. I want to congratulate all the negotiators, the Steve Verheul, the Kirsten Hillman, who did the heavy lifting day after day, taking, some would say, a schizophrenic position that Canada always carried into those agreements and making it work. They did tremendous work, as did all of the people who worked with them. We owe them a tremendous amount of gratitude for getting us to this level today and for making Canada a broker in the world.
On my first trip to Geneva, we were still working on the Uruguay round of GATT. Everyone has since forgotten about those things and moved on, but they are still important, because they set the foundation.
I remember being with Steve Verheul on a number of different fronts. At that point, the director-general of the WTO was Pascal Lamy. He had the idea that if he kept everyone dangling until midnight then put them to work, he would get something done. That did not work. He just ended up with mad people around the table. We did not get anything done. He would break us into country groups of five and cherry-pick who he wanted. I remember going out with Steve for a beer afterward or supper late at night or whatever, and his cell phone never stopped ringing with calls from the five people who were in the room who were asking him what they should do. He was the broker involved behind the scenes for a lot of the countries. They relied on Steve Verheul and people like him.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for the work these people have done to get us to this point. Now they are watching to see how long it will take us to do the light lifting and put into play what they worked so hard to do.
This is a good first step, but there are so many other things that need to be addressed as we move along. It seems almost hypocritical to me that we are going to implement border-smoothing operations under the TFA while at the same time we cannot seem to clean up our own interprovincial trade. We have a motion coming forward, and the government has already said it will not support. The government is going to support this at the international level but we are not going to clean up our own house at the same time. That is a bit hypocritical and is something we will really have to bear down on.
Other countries are watching. We talk about rules and about how Canada is a global trader, but we have all of these anomalies right here within our own country we need to address.
The Senate has done some work on this. We will be doing some work on it, I am sure, at trade committee. I look forward to those future discussions.