Alistair spoke on the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act int he House of Commons
November 21st, 2016 - 1:25pm
Mr. Speaker, one of the things that struck me from my colleague's speech was that the approval process in European legislatures is going to take between two to five years. Here we are in Canada's Parliament, where the Prime Minister signed the agreement on October 30, and the legislation was brought in on October 31. That violated the memorandum that outlined that 21 sitting days needed to pass before legislation was tabled in the House. Furthermore, we learned that the trade committee is restricting witnesses to only those who provide submissions to the committee.
From all perceptions of these actions, the ramming through of this legislation without the proper notification period, the fact that the committee is restricting the witnesses and the submissions, gives the perception that the government is trying to ram this through without proper oversight.
I ask my colleague where the rush is when it is going to take European legislatures two to five years. Why is Canada giving a blank cheque to the government and not doing due oversight?
November 21st, 3:40 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, as a proud member of the party in this corner of the House, I will unapologetically stand up for those Canadians who do have concerns about these trade deals. While we may disagree on this issue, out of respect for all the views that Canadians have, we should at least try to bring some respect to this place about those different viewpoints.
However, in an effort to turn this conversation in a more collegial route, I want to ask the member a question. He has a lot of experience on this file.
I want to bring his attention to the specifics of one country, and that is the United Kingdom. As he may very well be aware, 42% of Canada's exports to the EU go to the U.K., and a large part of the CETA negotiations were based on the premise that the U.K. would still be a part of CETA. The Liberal government has not properly evaluated CETA without the U.K. If the U.K.
triggers its exit from the EU and leaves CETA, is my colleague comfortable with the concessions that Canada has made in CETA, given that the U.K.
represents nearly half of Canada's exports to the EU?
November 21st, 4:55 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the hon. member a little about consultations.
Back in 2012, when the Liberals were in opposition, they wrote a dissenting opinion in the 2012 report that further consultation with Canadians was needed on CETA.
When we compare the consultations that have been held with the TPP, we have had 400 witnesses before the trade committee and submissions from approximately 60,000 Canadians, on this agreement, the implementation legislation is enacted a day after it is signed and is brought before Parliament to be rushed through. Furthermore, the Liberal-dominated trade committee has refused to hear any submissions except from witnesses who are appearing.
I cannot believe the Liberal members on that trade committee did that without the cabinet leaning heavily on them. Therefore, why is the Liberal dominated trade committee forcing this through without allow proper submissions from Canadians across the country, not just those who have the means to appear before the trade committee?
November 21st, 6:25 p.m.
Madam Speaker, I realize I have one of those lucky spots, where I get about a four-minute speech, seeing as we are getting close to 6:30 p.m.
I want to start by thanking my colleague, the member of Parliament for Essex, for the incredible work she has been doing in raising these issues.
I have been quite sorry to hear some of the condescending tones emanating from the Liberals. I would like to be there when their constituents start raising issues, asking the Liberals where they were when we talked about dairy compensation, or about the high cost of pharmaceuticals, or about the application of sovereignty, the ability of local and provincial governments to make laws for their own citizens and not have some super-national body overrule them. I would very much like to be there when their constituents ask them where they were when we were bringing up these very real concerns with this agreement.
I will unapologetically stand here and bring these concerns, as is the job of a progressive opposition, to signal that we are in favour of trade, but the agreement is so much more than just simple trade. It goes far above and beyond simple trade, and we have to bring forward these important points.
Trade with Europe is too important to get wrong. We support the deepening of Canada-EU relationships. These are member countries to which we have significant historical and cultural ties. We have received many waves of immigration from European countries, which represent some of the most progressive democracies in the world. However, this is such an important agreement that we must ensure the scope of it remains in Canada's interests.
The Liberals are essentially asking Parliament to sign-off on CETA, despite the fact that European states have made it clear that the investor-state provisions would have to be removed before they ratify it.
I want to reference how quickly the Liberal government is trying to ram this through.
On October 30, the Prime Minister signed CETA at the EU-Canada leaders'
summit. Two days later Bill C-30 was put forward as the implementing legislation. This process violated the government's own policy on tabling treaties in Parliament, which requires the government to table a copy of the treaty, along with an explanatory memorandum outlining key components of the treaty, at least 21 sitting days before the legislation is presented. The Liberals also neglected to table a mandatory environmental assessment of the free trade agreement, as per a 1999 cabinet directive on environmental policy plans and program proposals.
Seeing that my time is short, tomorrow I will continue my speech and go over some of the costs to our drug provisions, as the seniors critic, and some of the investor-state provisions. I look forward to continuing that conversation tomorrow.