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  • Her favourite word is regard.

NDP MP for London—Fanshawe (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am very grateful to my colleague for providing time for this question. Forty-two per cent of Canadian exports to the European Union are to the U.K. Canadian concessions were based on the premise that the UK would be part of CETA. Those concessions include things that we are very concerned about, such as the loss of income for dairy farmers. There was supposed to be compensation and now is now questionable whether it would be adequate. There is also the cost of pharmaceuticals. Will we be able to afford drugs in our country? The joint interpretive instrument, which is outside the treaty, is supposed to be the government's right to regulate and yet it has very little weight in regard to the CETA document.

Now that the U.K. is re-evaluating its position within the European Union after Brexit, the Liberals have failed to re-evaluate the net benefit of CETA. Could my colleague comment on this change? The world has changed but the Liberals have not accounted for that change.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the member for Essex, for her impassioned speech. It reminds me of something that goes back to 1997. I know, Mr. Speaker, that you were a mere child then, but I do recall the election of 1997. The Liberals stood up on their hind legs and said that they would bring in pharmacare and they would have it in place by January of 1998. We know where we are now.

That brings me to my concerns about what is in this agreement with respect to the establishment of pharmacare. We know that to preserve our health care system and reduce those waiting lists, we have to find ways to reduce costs and reinvest in things that produce results. Pharmacare and bulk buying is one of those things. In fact, they reckon we can save $11 billion a year if we had pharmacare. This agreement puts pharmacare in danger. In the fact, the nurses association says that CETA could increase drug costs by more than $850 million.

How on Earth are we going to maintain a universal health care system with this kind of situation?

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, there is an old saying that fools rush in where wise people fear to tread. My question has to do with rushing in to sign this agreement.

We know that CETA will not be fully ratified until all 28 EU member states have passed the agreement in their own parliaments. Clearly, we have time. We should take that time.

I wonder if the member has any thoughts in regard to taking time so we can address the issue of investor-state provisions and the very clear concerns expressed by CELA in regard to environmental degradation. Of course, there are our dairy farmers and those who produce the good food we rely on. Can we accommodate those folks? Can we slow down? Should we?

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the government is preoccupied with rushing ahead on this trade deal without giving it careful thought. In the meantime, we need pharmacare, affordable child care, affordable housing, and conservation in our country. None of these things are of any interest to the government.

I wonder if you could talk about where we should be going instead of headlong into a trade deal about which we know very little.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith is, indeed, a very strong advocate for her community. She spoke about the environment and in light of the threat of climate change not only to Canadians but people around the world, we are very cognizant of the importance of taking environment into consideration.

The Canadian Environmental Law Association is also very concerned. It said that CETA will significantly impact environmental protection and sustainable development in Canada. In that regard, we know that Canada has been sued over and over again, to the tune of billions of dollars, whenever governments try to protect the environment.

One case in point that we have to be concerned about is Lone Pine Resources, a Calgary-based oil and gas developer, that obtained permission to explore for shale gas under the St. Lawrence River. In 2011, the Quebec government revoked that permit in response to concerns about fracking under the river and then Lone Pine sued the government, through its U.S. affiliate under NAFTA, chapter 11, for $250 million in compensation. It is not alone, there have been many more.

In that regard, I wonder if my colleague could comment on the importance of directing our own interests and looking after our own destiny when it comes to the environment and her environmental concerns in general.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, one of the things I was thinking about as my colleague spoke is the reality in Ontario under NAFTA. The member talked about cheaper food products and the fact that in a huge market, milk and dairy products can be produced more cheaply. That is the reality that we face here in Canada. We could very well be inundated with foreign production, to the point where our family farms and the farms in our communities are no longer viable. Farmers could literally be driven from the land.

That brings me to food security. I wonder if the member would please comment on the importance of food security, our nation's ability to feed itself with safe, clean, reliable products in a timely way. Does CETA worry him in that regard?

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his absolutely incredible work with respect to indigenous rights. He has stood up for the people, not just of this nation, but indigenous peoples all around the world.

He is absolutely right about why this agreement is of concern with regard to the environment, and the fact that we owe it to the indigenous people of this country, of this continent, to consult with them when it comes to the environment, because we know that they are the protectors of the land, the water, and the air.

One of the things I want to draw attention to is the fact that Canada has been consistently sued under NAFTA when we have tried to protect our environment. A classic example is the Ethyl Corporation. It sued Canada because Canadians did not want MMT, an additive that not only increases the octane levels of unleaded gas but also impacts children. It is a carcinogenic. Ethyl sued Canada and it got $201 million U.S. because of the protectionist articles of NAFTA.

I do not want that under CETA.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely indefatigable in how she cares for her constituents.

I must say that her concern about the cost of pharmaceuticals is well-placed. The veterans in our community, the people who have given their health and a great part of their lives and their families' lives to the service of this country, will indeed also be adversely affected if they have to pay the horrendous costs of pharmaceuticals as prices increase because of the protectionism inherent in CETA. This applies to seniors as well.

It is interesting that it was also said that NAFTA would reduce pharmaceutical costs and promote investment by pharmaceutical companies and research and development in new pharmaceuticals in Canada. It did nothing of the sort. In fact, investment in Canadian research declined significantly. Pharmaceutical companies are protected and do not have to do the work, but can simply recycle the same old drugs with a slightly different formulary and continue to make excessive profits.

This is not a deal that Canadians can accept.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying unequivocally that New Democrats believe that it is possible to create a Canada whose economy is sustainable, just, and fair while remaining competitive on the world stage. We believe that we all thrive in an equitable society where everyone has equal access to nutritious food, a safe home, an education, decent work at fair wages, clean air and fresh water, health care, pharmacare, a secure retirement, and child care.

Just today it was reported that child care costs in Canada are unaffordable. They are through the roof. Canadian parents know that, but the current government does not seem to have a clue. After 40 years of promises from Liberals and Conservatives alike, we still have no national, affordable, regulated child care in this country.

Our trade agreements should reflect not only the importance of a strong social safety net but our values as a nation, and child care is certainly one of them.

Any trade deal should promote and protect our communities and our families. Remarkably, it is not clear that CETA serves Canadians in regard to community needs and values. Because of this lack of clarity, New Democrats cannot support Bill C-30.

The NDP supports deepening the Canada-EU trade relationship to diversify our markets, but that does not cloud our vision or divert us from our commitment to ensuring that our trade deals serve the people who have placed their trust in us.

Despite lofty promises to the contrary, it appears that once again, the current government wants to force this bill into legislation without the transparency, public consultation, and careful consideration it warrants. This kind of smoke-and-mirrors tactic invites a healthy dose of skepticism.

Canada's trade relationship with Europe is too important to get wrong. We should be working to fix problems with the current deal rather than settling for this flawed agreement.

We have significant concerns and unanswered questions about CETA. It has been called the biggest trade deal since NAFTA. Without proper security, however, and scrutiny, trade agreements such as CETA have the potential to bargain away programs, services, products, and even the values that we, as Canadians, hold dear.

Our experience with NAFTA should be a lesson to us. Under NAFTA, Canadian workers suffered when well-paid union jobs moved south to low-wage jurisdictions, leaving communities and local economies devastated. In London, the story of Siemens, ABB, Westinghouse, Philips, and Caterpillar are sad examples.

Under the investor-state dispute settlement provisions of free trade agreements, Canada has become one of the most sued countries in the world, winning only three of 39 cases against foreign governments. Under NAFTA, Canada has paid out over €135 million on these claims, mostly to the U.S., and outstanding cases worth another €1.75 billion remain and are a concern.

This past February, the minister announced changes to the ISDS provisions that are purported to improve transparency and neutralize the potential for arbitrator conflicts of interest. However, the renamed investor-court system still allows foreign investors to seek compensation from any level of government over policy decisions those governments make, decisions the investors say threaten their profit margins. In other words, foreign companies will have access to a special court system to challenge Canadian laws without going through our domestic courts.

There is evidence that private corporations have attempted to use the threat of investor-state charges under NAFTA to discourage governments from advancing legislation that is in the best public interest, threatening the progressive social values we hold dear as Canadian citizens.

Critics have argued that CETA threatens our public services, including health care; that it endangers local job creation; that it threatens our sovereignty when it comes to fresh water and a clean environment; that it threatens our food sovereignty and farmers' rights; that our cultural and communications sovereignty is in danger; and that indigenous sovereignty and human rights are threatened, as are labour rights and the quality of our existing jobs.

Several European states have already made it clear that the investor-court provisions of the agreement must change before it is implemented, yet Bill C-30 includes all the necessary legal changes to implement CETA without knowing what those changes will be. Liberals are basically asking parliamentarians to sign a blank cheque and trust them to fill out the amount afterward: Sign the contract and read it later.

It is not an exaggeration to say that our democratic and domestic sovereignty is at risk if we accept a deal whose consequences are unknown. We can do better. Some could argue that Canada and Europe have more progressive policies than the U.S., making CETA different from NAFTA in its potential to affect our democratic sovereignty. Consider, however, that most large American corporations have Canadian subsidiaries. What is to stop one of those subsidiaries from invoking the investor-court provisions of CETA to challenge the environmental, health, and labour policies of signatory states?

New Democrats have been calling for a national pharmacare program for Canada forever. Evidence shows that such a program is not only sustainable but is cost-efficient for the government to implement. It would save billions in taxpayer dollars and would make life easier for Canadians who rely on those prescriptions for their health and quality of life.

In opposition, the Liberals demanded a study of the fiscal impact of CETA on prescription drug costs. In government, they are rushing to implement CETA, while at the same time they are refusing to consider increased health care transfers to the provinces. One would think that sunny ways would require a comprehensive analysis of policies and agreements and their effects on Canadians before signing off, but that does not seem to be the case here. Canadians deserve better.

Recognizing that supply management farmers would suffer under CETA and the TPP, the previous Conservative government earmarked $4.3 billion for compensation to industries affected by the deal. The Liberal government has announced a $350-million package for dairy farmers, falling far short of their actual losses under CETA. Neither has the government explained how it will compensate Newfoundland and Labrador for fish processing losses expected under the deal.

Under CETA, companies will also have the increased ability to employ temporary foreign workers without consideration of the impact on Canadians. These effects have the potential to be devastating to our local economies as well as to those workers who must accept precarious working conditions to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.

In opposition, Liberals called for further consultation with Canadians on CETA. In government, they passed a motion in camera to restrict written submissions to those who the trade committee had selected to appear. This is yet another example of Liberals campaigning on the left and governing on the right. It is understandable that Canadians might have a hard time keeping up with this Liberal sleight of hand.

Given that testimony from over 400 witnesses and written submissions from 60,000 Canadians were overwhelmingly critical of the TPP, it appears that the Liberals have learned from their TPP experience. If only they had used this hard-won knowledge to actually listen to Canadians about their very real concerns regarding CETA rather than restricting public consultation and conducting what should have been public business in a closed and secretive environment.

We know from the example of Wallonia, in Belgium, that improving the agreement is possible where there is political will to do so. Because of Wallonia's intervention, consideration of trade union concerns has been incorporated into the legally binding, interpretative instrument of the agreement.

New Democrats do not oppose trade deals that reduce tariffs and boost exports, but we do not believe that investor-state provisions that threaten our sovereignty are necessary evils. In fact, investor-state provisions are unacceptable evils. They serve corporations and only corporations. These provisions do not serve people.

We believe that the job of government is to pursue better trade, trade that boosts human rights and labour standards, protects the environment, and protects our health care system, social security, and Canadian jobs.

We believe that better trade deals are achieved with inclusion and must involve a better consultation process than was employed by previous Conservative and Liberal governments, and now the current Liberal government. It has kept—

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my question for the hon. member has to do with public consultation. I know he spoke at length about it, but I would like him to underscore why it is important. Is it integral to the success of the trade deal?