Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to talk about Bill C-41, a bill that is important to all Canadians. People everywhere, including in the riding of Laurentides—Labelle, have concerns every time there is a new free trade agreement. They automatically worry about it because they have seen the government sign agreements with dictatorships and drug lords, and they have seen all kinds of agreements that do not work. Of course they are wondering why, this time around, we are supporting a trade agreement. However, it should not be that surprising because we always use objective criteria to assess the treaties Canada will be signing.
I know that members across the way see our support of a free trade agreement as a historic event. That is not the historic event, though; what is historic is the fact that they have come up with something that we can support, something that makes at least some sense.
To take a hard look at the situation, we use an analytical grid and ask whether the country with which we are signing an agreement respects democracy. Is it a modern country with appropriate labour standards? Are its environmental standards acceptable? Then, we look at the country's strategic importance. In Korea's case, obviously, the economy is very advanced, much more than our own, because Korea has an industrial strategy and an international trade strategy, unlike us. It does not make things up as it goes along.
Then, we look at the terms of the agreement. We have reservations, of course. We would not have done things the same way, but the terms are reasonable overall and provide sufficient assurance that we know there will be no big surprises.
One of the reasons we support this agreement is because it has been in the works for so long already. It is clear that Korea's agreements with the United States and the European Union hurt markets for our pork and beef producers and our aerospace industry. These sectors suffered considerable losses, and signing the agreement may allow them to catch up somewhat and give them some compensation.
The Conservatives seem to look at international trade with rose-coloured glasses. There is a reason Korea is in the situation it is in today, with modern infrastructure and a very competitive industry. They adopted a consistent industrial strategy decades ago, while we winged it every step of the way. Korea had an economy based on subcontracting. It manufactured low-end automobile models for the American and Japanese industries. The Koreans decided to develop these niches.
They made investments in research and development, and produced high-quality products, which makes them probably one of most competitive in the world. If we had done the same, our manufacturing sector might not be floundering.
A number of my colleagues alluded to the threat this agreement could pose to the manufacturing sector, in particular the automotive sector. However, this is only a threat because of the government's inconsistency, lack of industrial strategy, lack of investment in research and development, and improvisation, with respect to the free entry of Korean vehicles into our market through the United States and Mexico.
I have to wonder why it has taken so long to sign this agreement. What caused this disaster for our exporters and caused them to lose a considerable share of the market? Do we simply have the government's diplomatic skills to thank for that?
The government shut down consular services in our embassies in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, without even warning the Japanese government. That is not how you deal with parties who are serious and who care a great deal about details. These people run their country responsibly. If we surprise them and mess up, negotiations will drag on forever, and our manufacturing companies and farmers will be left to pick up the pieces.
The NDP is not supporting the agreement because of magic formulas, mantras or messages from the Prime Minister's Office. We take the time to analyze things. Rhetoric and magic formulas do not work. We need to carefully negotiate each detail and know what we are getting into. Once this process is complete, we can support an agreement without worrying about surprises. We need to show respect for serious players and be serious ourselves.