IN THE HOUSE ~ Question Period ~ NAFTA

39th Parliament, 2nd Session

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, many believe the government interfered in the U.S. primary elections by a deliberate disinformation campaign. NAFTA-gate continues to have serious consequences for Canada's relations with U.S. Democrats.

Now the trade minister adds insult to injury by accusing those who criticize NAFTA, such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, of being irrational. What a way to strain relations with candidates, one of whom could become the next U.S. president.

Will the government apologize to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the minister's insulting comment?

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Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the substantive policy question of free trade and NAFTA, we are not going to make any apology for standing up for Canada's interests. One of those aspects of standing up is recognizing that NAFTA has been very positive for Canadians. It has been positive for Americans too.

Our standard of living is higher than ever before. As a result of that there are more Canadians working than ever before, partly as a consequence of that free trade agreement. We believe it is very much in Canada's interests and we will continue to stand tall and advance that agenda and we will always fight for Canada's best interests on trade issues.

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Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, two-thirds of Canadian families are actually earning less now than when the agreement was signed, so that simply does not hold water. It must be deliberate policy to undermine relations with U.S. Democrats.

Weeks ago NAFTA-gate broke and the alleged disinformation campaign of the government to interfere with the U.S. primary elections was revealed. The Conservatives are sweeping under the carpet the biggest scandal we have had with the U.S. by privatizing the investigation. So when is the government going to release the mandate and results of the inquiry and when are we going to know the truth about NAFTA-gate?

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Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the question of determining where the unfortunate leak occurred of the foreign affairs document out of the consulate in Chicago is ongoing. That is being led by the Chief Clerk of the Privy Council. It is a matter of great concern to us because our relations with the United States are important and the subject matter, the North American Free Trade Agreement, is particularly important for Canadians.

That agreement has been, contrary to what the hon. member said, very, very productive for Canadians. We had a massive increase in job growth as a result of increased trade with the United States. Canadians have been successful. We have been able to compete. We have been able to do well. More Canadians got jobs at higher incomes because we can compete.