IN THE HOUSE ~ NDP Opposition Day Motion ~ on the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA)

41st Parliament, 1st Session ~ Opposition Day Motion

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should inform the Government of the People's Republic of China, that it will not ratify the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.

41st Parliament, 1st Session ~ Context : Debate

    Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, in starting I would like to say that I was very disappointed, having been in this House now for nine years, to see the Liberal Party yet again siding with the Conservatives.

    I have been in Parliament nine years, and hundreds of times, when push comes to shove, when Canadians' interests are at stake, the so-called new Liberal Party seems to be exactly like the old Liberal Party, always siding with the Conservatives, always siding with the Prime Minister.

    I would just like to share my disappointment, because I know that this is an important debate. I believe the member for Vancouver Kingsway, in his very eloquent speech, spoke of thousands of emails flooding in from across this country on this important debate. We have received tens of thousands of emails, letters, cards and phone calls from Canadians who are very concerned about the Canada-China FIPA and its implications for Canada.

    I would like to say at the outset that on this of the House we are resolute fair traders. The NDP has always stood for fair trade, that means a rules-based system that is balanced and well-negotiated and serves both parties.

    In the NDP caucus of 100 strong members, we have many members of Parliament who have actually worked as negotiators in the past. They have represented the interests of their side in negotiations. What we have seen before in the Liberal government and most certainly now under the Conservative government is governments that seem incapable of negotiating strongly for Canada's interests.

    I would just like to say on behalf of the NDP caucus that when we come to power in 2015, Canada's interests will finally be effectively protected. Canadians can know for sure that we will have tough Canadian negotiators who will always be for Canada first and will always be capable of negotiating fair trade agreements.

    I just wanted to mention in starting off that I will be sharing my time with the very eloquent member for Nanaimo—Cowichan who has just reminded me of that point. I look forward to her speech. She will be speaking particularly to the consultation that was not done on the Canada-China FIPA, and will also be referencing the lawsuits that are starting to emerge because of this badly botched negotiation.

    Let us start with the Conservative approach to trade. Let us start with the record. The member for Vancouver Kingsway very eloquently set it out. We have the worst trade deficit in our nation's history, and this is after seven years of Conservative government. So badly have they botched negotiations, so badly have they been in terms of defending Canada's interest, that the Conservatives have taken Canada into the worst trade deficit in our history.

    This is something the Conservatives are trying to explain, badly, quite ineptly just a few minutes ago, that somehow that was due to international conditions, that somehow it was somebody else's fault, that it is the worst government in Canadian history for trade deficits but that it is somebody else's fault.

    We see this systematically. The Conservatives are always trying to point the finger at somebody else. The member for Vancouver Kingsway replied that out of 18 countries, in terms of the trade deficit, in terms of our chief industrial partners worldwide, Canada is 18th out of 18 among those countries. It is the worst trade deficit because of Conservative incompetence.

    We have seen this firsthand, time after time since the Conservatives came to power. We have seen half a million manufacturing and value-added jobs evaporate because of Conservative incompetence. We have the worst trade deficit in our history.

    If we look at the inability of the Conservatives to negotiate even one fair trade agreement, then every time we bring fair trade proposals forward, Conservatives and even the Liberals, always vote against them. They have never supported a fair trade agreement or anything that has been brought forward that even smells of fair trade on the floor of the House of Commons certainly since I have been here.

    When we look at the components of what the Conservatives have actually negotiated, we see how badly they have defended Canada's interests.

Context : Debate

    I will give one example, because it strikes home to my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster and it shows what the impacts are of these bad agreements, badly botched agreements, the Conservatives throw onto the floor of the House of Commons and then try to cover up. Of course, there is never any debate because they are so reprehensible in how badly they negotiate these agreements that they never want them to be examined in committee. They never want them debated on the floor of the House of Commons because they are all so bad.

    I will give one example: the softwood lumber agreement. In my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster, in the weeks following the ramming through of that agreement on the floor of the House of Commons, Conservatives and Liberals connecting together, and another party that used to exist and that is not so present today, the Bloc Québécois, conspiring, on behalf of Canadians, to push it through. In my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster, 2,000 families lost their breadwinner. Within a matter of weeks, we saw three softwood plants go down, one, two, three, Canfor, Interfor, Western Forest Products. Those workers were sold out by Conservatives and their partner, the Liberal Party, resulting in those workers losing their jobs and those families losing a breadwinner.

    We said at the time, on the floor of the House of Commons, that there would be dire consequences if we rammed this through. Most of the Conservatives did not even bother to read the agreement. They just voted blindly because the Prime Minister told them to. Many of the 60,000 jobs that were lost were lost in Conservative ridings. The Conservatives said, “We don't care about those workers. We don't care about those jobs. We don't care about those businesses.”.

    Actions have consequences. That is why the member for Vancouver Kingsway is bringing forward the motion today. Having read the Canada-China FIPA, understanding the consequences, we are saying we need to take a halt on this, not ram it through, not ratify it, because the consequences to Canadian communities and the consequences to Canadians would be serious.

    We have a government that seems intent on a one-dimensional economy. It wants to ship raw logs, raw minerals, raw bitumen out of this country. That is all it wants to do. It seems to think that there would be some economic benefit to doing that.

    I think the figures prove the contrary. Half a million manufacturing and value-added jobs were lost. We have the largest trade deficit in our nation's history. We have the worst trade economic performance in our nation's history. Those facts basically speak for themselves.

    What, then, would happen when we compound that by ratifying a Canada-China FIPA?

    Here is the situation. It was badly botched. The member for Vancouver Kingsway was very eloquent about that, going over step by step, section by section, how badly botched the negotiations were.

    What it would do is permanently keep in place all of the discriminatory measures taken by the Chinese state government, but it would open up Canada and basically ensure that the measures that we might normally take to protect our environment, to ensure that there is economic development, even value-added economic development, could be contested and that Chinese state companies that then choose to move forward and seek compensation could seek compensation from Canadian taxpayers.

    Who would negotiate an agreement that would ensure that discriminatory measures could be taken by one party but not by another? And who would then say, “We're going to put this into place and ratify it for three decades?”.

    We have our answer. It does not seem logical. It does not seem consistent with what the Conservative ran on. Yet it is the current Conservative government that wants to put into place this FIPA and ensure, for all time, that those discriminatory measures could be taken by the Chinese state government but that Canadian measures that we put in place to protect our environment, our health and safety, our economy, could not be taken.

    On this side of the House, we stand with the Canadians who are writing to us throughout this debate, the tens of thousands of Canadians who have expressed valid concerns about how badly this negotiation was botched.

Context : Debate

    The New Democratic Party caucus stands with Canadians on this issue. That is why we encourage the debate. We invite members who have actually read the agreement to vote with us to send a clear direction to the government that the agreement should not be ratified because it is not in Canada's interest.

Context : Questions and Comments

    Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, I am not really sure what the member was talking about. It just seemed to be a diatribe. He did say fair trade is rubbish. A number of countries around the world, including the European Union, Australia and even the United States, who have already incorporated components of fair trade into their trade template, would disagree with the member.

    The reality is, Canada actually has the most outdated trade template among all industrialized countries. Under the Conservative government, the “Flintstonian” approach to trade policy, which it carries so proudly, has the most outdated tools, trade negotiating and trade template of any industrialized country.

    The member says fair trade is rubbish. Most Canadians actually believe in fair trade and most of the prosperous industrialized countries around the world are pushing a fair trade agenda.

    However, there is another issue I wanted to raise while I have the floor. The member is from Calgary. I have been to Calgary about half a dozen times over the past few months talking about the CNOOC takeover of Nexen. I talked to Calgary citizens. They are concerned about the impacts of simply rubber-stamping the CNOOC takeover of Nexen, as the Conservative government did. Nexen plays an important role in the Calgary economy, yet the member and the Conservative government did not stand up for Calgary's interest. It is a shame that Conservatives would not stand up for Calgary when they represent it in the House of Commons.

Context : Questions and Comments

    Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to have a short answer. That is a very good question from my colleague.

    We have been saying all along that we need to modernize the trade template and that we need a fair trade template. That is what the NDP has been promoting.

     We need much more effective negotiations. Conservatives are awful negotiators, the worst negotiators ever, and even worse than the Liberals, which is saying a lot.

    Most importantly, in terms of stimulating our export sales, particularly value-added exports, I have talked to trade commissioners across the world who are Canadian who do not even have the money to buy a cup of coffee for a potential client of Canadian goods and services. That is how this so-called “pro-trade” government has starved the resources that allow for that actual export breakthrough on value-added products.

     Conservatives are awful at trade, case closed. That is our conclusion.

Context : Questions and Comments

    Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, one of the characteristics of what is such a badly botched series of policy decisions by the government is that legal lawsuits ensue.

    The agreements themselves that are put forward are badly negotiated and often have huge ramifications. There is no consultation with the public. The government even refuses, with an agreement with this kind of immense ramifications for the whole country and for communities, to bring it to committee.

    I ask the member if she fears that we will be looking at even more potential lawsuits over the complete lack of consultation by the government yet again, and what are the ramifications for lawsuits if we put in these investor state conditions that allow for secret arbitration, where lawyers basically decide how much money the taxpayers cough up?