Committees of the House

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise tonight in this debate on the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union, negotiated by our government over several years in a form that is truly revolutionary for trade agreements. This agreement anticipates not only trade in mercantile goods and agricultural products but trade in services and sharing of professional services and professional recognition across the ocean, dipping into procurement and infrastructure projects. This is truly the 21st century benchmark for trade agreements.

As with all trade agreements that enter the House, one of the critical sectors for our negotiators has always been agriculture. The agriculture sector is well understood by this government, but more important, farming families across Canada are at the centre of much of what this government does on its trade policy work.

I would remind the House that Conservative governments have granted Canadian exporters, including our farmers, 98% of their market access around the world. Ninety-eight per cent of our trade opportunities have been negotiated by Conservative governments. In many ways, trade and our success in the last few years under the present Prime Minister is one of the hallmarks of our economic track record of success that is leading the G7.

At the focus of the reason these new markets and new opportunities are important are farming families. I am speaking of farming families like the Mustard family in my riding of Durham, sixth-generation dairy farmers, and that of my colleague from Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, who came to Parliament from a dairy background. We have farmers in our party. We heard from my colleague from Prince Albert. We have farmers in the House who bring their experience and their knowledge of what is important to farming families to the debate and to the negotiated outcomes of our trade agreements. We have always said we will not reach a trade agreement unless it is a win for all sectors, and that includes supply-managed sectors.

That 98% of market access that our government has secured was done while we have been able to maintain the four pillars of supply management. That, particularly in the global economy, is a real accomplishment, and it is an accomplishment because it is a priority. Our government set it out as a key priority when entering into these negotiations and obtaining outcomes that are wins for all sectors, including the supply-managed sector.

It is my privilege in my role as parliamentary secretary for international trade to meet with these sectors, including our supply-managed sectors. They see that we have been careful in our negotiations to secure wins for all agricultural commodities but, in particular, not sacrificing one for the other. We are proud of that.

The comprehensive economic and trade agreement, CETA, is an example of such success. When this agreement is implemented we would have 50,000 tonnes of access for our beef farmers. I have spoken to farmers in Alberta and Ontario who told me that they were struggling for many years, and only in the last two years have margins on beef become profitable. We have seen improper trade actions from our largest partner to the south, so those have encouraged us even more to get access for these farmers in global markets.

I am proud to be part of a government that has secured that with South Korea. It was so good that the NDP, after 50 years of opposing trade, had to acknowledge it was a great deal. Those members stood in the House to support it.

The European deal is equally ambitious, because our beef producers, some of the world’s best, are effectively blocked by a huge 20% tariff. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association has estimated that CETA, when implemented for Canada, would represent a $600 million win in that industry alone. That is truly incredible.

Equally important is pork. We would be able to get 81,000 tonnes of tariff-free access for fresh or frozen pork products. I have met with the industry across the country, particularly in Brandon, Manitoba, where there is an underutilized facility needing new markets. If we can get the provincial government to address the moratorium on hog barns and get production levels up, we will have one of the world-class facilities there ready to ramp up to gain access to markets like South Korea and Europe for our pork products. It is another industry that has seen some challenges in the last decade, so securing new markets would be important.

Why is that important? It is because price would be assured, and a higher price is assured when there is more than one customer. Canada has been very lucky to sit on the border of a very large and hungry market, so we have been able to rely heavily on the U.S. trade relationship, which is still critical for our country, but having more markets secures better prices for our farmers and reduces risk by diversifying the markets into which we can export.

In debate tonight, members have already mentioned a range of other products, so I am not going to repeat a lot of them. I am going to focus on a couple that are very important to my riding of Durham in southern Ontario, which has some of the best agricultural land in Canada. Fresh apples have a 9% tariff rate that would come down with the European deal. The Kemp and Gibson families at Algoma Orchards in Bowmanville and Newcastle have been ramping up their operations, building a facility for processing. This would be a brand new market of 500 million consumers. Not far from them is the Stevens family, Charles, Judi, and Courtney, who are famous for creating the first blueberry marshmallows in the world. Fresh blueberries are at a 14% tariff.

When we start adding tariff rates like that to the cost of goods, they are essentially a wall to access. Through the work of this government in the last few years, we have been able to reach an agreement that would get rid of these tariff rates and allow these producers to gain access to a market that represents a bigger market than NAFTA, with some of the largest and most diverse economies in the world and with a strong middle class that wants world-class Canadian food products—across the board: meats, livestock, grain oil seeds, fruits, produce.

I met with the produce producers today, who are very bullish on the future due to trade, and this is an opportunity and a deal that represents a win from coast to coast on agriculture. We have heard about the wine and some of the fruits in British Columbia, through to the grain and oil seeds and durum wheat in the Prairies, to the beef and pork in Ontario, to fruits and maple syrup in Quebec, to frozen potato products, which have had a tariff rate as high as 17% for P.E.I. and parts of the Maritimes.

It is really once in a generation that we get such a tremendous opportunity for the agricultural sector as the CETA European trade deal represents. The last generational opportunity for Canadian exporters was the U.S. Free Trade Agreement negotiated with the vision of the Conservative government at that time. It really takes the Conservatives to open these new markets for our farmers, to allow them to diversify their markets and raise their average price.

It has been an honour for me as parliamentary secretary to meet with stakeholders from coast to coast to coast to work with them on their plans to get ready for the market access that CETA would represent. Whether it is the cattle or pork producers in western Canada or some of the fresh fruit and horticulture sectors here in Ontario, they are ambitious about this opportunity because we have some of the best agricultural businesses in the world and some of the best products to sell. Now we are giving our farmers more markets to sell them in. It is a huge opportunity, and I hope the NDP will finally get behind it.

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