Interventions in the House of Commons
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View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows well, because I reported to her when I came back from Chile.
As members know, the Asia-Pacific region is a priority for our government. We owe it to Canadian workers, Canadian families, Canadian exporters to look at expanding markets, because more trade equals more growth, and more growth equals more jobs.
We will continue to have an ambitious trade agenda when it comes to the Asia-Pacific region.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
As she knows, we are listening to people from the industry. I have met with people in the dairy industry from across the country. We are examining this issue with interest, and we will soon make a decision for Canadian dairy producers.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows full well that our government is standing up for our industry. The minister recently discussed this file with her provincial and territorial counterparts. My colleague is well aware that we are working with workers, industry players, and provincial partners.
We will continue to raise this matter with the United States, just as the Prime Minister of Canada has done with the U.S. president and as the minister has done with secretaries Tillerson and Ross. We want a good agreement for Canada, not just any agreement.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague knows, the chemical weapons attack of last week is a war crime. As the Prime Minister said, Assad and his regime need to be held to account. Canada is a significant player in the region on the military, diplomatic, and humanitarian fronts. We are working very closely with our allies to protect the most vulnerable and hold the perpetrators to account.
We have committed $1.6 billion to the region, and Canada has welcomed over 40,000 Syrian refugees. The people of Syria deserve a life free of violence.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague knows, last week's chemical weapons attack is a war crime. As the Prime Minister said, Assad and his regime need to be held to account. Canada is a significant player in the region on the military, diplomatic, and humanitarian fronts. We are working very closely with our allies to protect the most vulnerable and to hold the perpetrators to account. We have committed $1.6 billion to the region, and Canada has welcomed over 40,000 Syrian refugees. The people of Syria deserve a life free of violence, and I am sure every member of this House would agree with that.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question from my hon. colleague. I am just afraid that his memory is failing.
The first thing that our government did was to reduce taxes for the middle class. Nine million Canadians are paying less tax. I would guess there are thousands in the member's riding today who are paying less tax because of the government.
We invested in families. We invested in the middle class. We invested in infrastructure. That is what responsible government is doing. That is exactly what we will continue to do.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent is asking me a question.
The first thing we did was cut taxes for the middle class. The reality is that nine million Canadians pays less taxes. In my colleague's riding, in the Quebec City region, thousands of people are paying less tax thanks to our government.
In 2016, we invested in families, the economy, and infrastructure. In 2017, we invested in training and innovation. That is exactly what responsible governments do; they invest in their people. That is what we have done and what we will continue to do.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chair of the trade committee, the great chair, and all the members of the trade committee for their hard work.
CETA is the most progressive trade agreement ever negotiated by Canada or the European Union. It will create jobs, bolster our prosperity, and grow the middle class.
The Prime Minister will address the European Parliament this week on the importance of the Canada-EU relationship.
Thanks to our trade talks, which focused on the interests of the middle class, Canadian businesses of all sizes and from every part of the country will enjoy unprecedented access to the European Union, a vast market made up of more than 500 million people.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. That is exactly what we are doing.
Let us talk about today's meeting between the Prime Minister and the U.S. president, which focused on the solid relationships and partnerships built by our two countries. Relations between our two countries are based on a shared history, culture, and environment and common values.
What the Prime Minister is doing today is exactly what Canadians want, and that is having a constructive relationship with our southern neighbours. In my opinion, all Canadians are proud of their Prime Minister today.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank all the members of this House for granting unanimous consent for me to speak this morning. I am very grateful. I will be splitting my time with the member for Kootenay—Columbia.
I have the privilege of speaking this morning on Bill C-31, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Ukraine. This is a momentous time in our history for us to be looking at this bill together in this House. I am indeed very pleased to speak today on the topic of the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement and the benefits it will provide to all Canadians.
When we talk about trade, those are benefits that are going to each and every one of the 338 jurisdictions and ridings we have in our country. The good people who sent every member sitting in this House here to represent them will benefit from our free trade agreement. This is a good example of what Canada can do in the world, when Canada stands for progressive trade, and when Canada becomes a beacon of hope and openness around the world.
This agreement is an important step in Canada's relationship with Ukraine, and one that is supported by Canadians from across the country. Following the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian migration to Canada last year, we are reminded of the Ukrainian Canadian community, which is more than 1.2 million strong in our nation.
Our people-to-people ties form a strong foundation for the partnership enjoyed by Canada and Ukraine today. Canada has remained steadfast in its support of Ukraine and believes the free trade agreement will only strengthen this relationship going forward. Trade is good for the world; trade is good for the people.
In 1991, Canada became the first western country to recognize Ukraine's independence. I am sure this is an act that a lot of members in the House take great pride in. Since then, and especially now in the face of recent crises, Canada has prioritized its role in the international community by encouraging Ukraine's and Canada's shared commitment to security, advancing democracy, and promoting sustainable economic growth.
One of the ways that Canada has done this is through technical and financial assistance, which since 1991 amounts to more than $1.2 billion. Reflecting the multi-faceted nature of our relationship, this includes support for macroeconomic stabilization, democratic and economic reforms, support for promoting the rule of law, security and stability, and, very importantly, humanitarian assistance.
In addition, Canada is seeking to support efforts to find a lasting and sustainable resolution to the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine through the provision of stabilization and security assistance. Since 2014, over $60 million has been committed to support initiatives in a wide range of areas, including ceasefire and human rights monitoring, police reform, and non-military equipment and training.
Further, Canada has provided $27 million in humanitarian assistance to help people affected by the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, including emergency shelters and essential relief items, safe drinking water, food, sanitation, basic medical care, hygiene supplies, education, protection, and psychosocial support.
I am sure that every member in this House today recognizes how Canada is a power for good in the world. When I say these words, I am sure many of us take great pride in saying what role Canada can play in the world. As we can see through our multi-faceted work with Ukraine, Canada is deeply committed to supporting the economic reform and development efforts of the Government of Ukraine.
The Canada-Ukraine FTA will only reinforce these efforts. The agreement is complementary on the premise that economic development can strengthen the social foundations in countries and contribute to a domestic environment where human rights, good governance, and the rule of law are all respected.
I am sure that is something that all members in the House firmly believe to be the foundation of every nation. This agreement will create new business opportunities and assist with developing a predictable and prosperous future for Ukraine.
The beauty of the agreement, however, is that it is mutually beneficial. It has opportunities for both Ukraine and Canada. Tariff elimination will improve access to each other's markets and thus help to expand commerce between Canada and Ukraine.
Upon implementation, the Canada-Ukraine FTA will result in an immediate elimination of tariffs on 86% of Canadian exports to Ukraine. This is very significant. The remaining tariffs will be phased out over seven years on industrial products, fish and seafood, and essentially all agricultural goods exported by Canada.
Ukraine is an interesting market for Canadian exporters with opportunities in areas such as aerospace, agricultural equipment, information and communication technologies, agriculture, agrifood, fish and seafood, and mining equipment. At the same time Canada will eliminate tariffs on 99.9% of imports from Ukraine. This stands to benefit Ukrainian exporters for products such as sunflower oil, sugar and chocolate, baked goods, vodka, apparel, ceramics, and mineral products.
An hon. member: Vodka.
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne: Mr. Speaker, I see members already interested in free trade. It is only Friday morning, but I see a lot of support in the House for free trade.
Beyond tariff reductions, the FTA includes disciplines and commitments on non-tariff measures that will help ensure that market access gains are not constrained by unjustified trade barriers. This agreement also includes commitments on trade facilitation that are designed to reduce red tape at the border. These provisions will increase certainty and predictability for businesses, something that Canadian businesses across our country will want to see.
Furthermore, the Canada-Ukraine FTA reflects this government's commitment to a progressive approach to trade in trying to ensure that trade reflects Canadian values such as environmental protection and labour rights. This agreement therefore includes comprehensive provision in the areas of labour, environment, transparency, and anti-corruption.
As part of this free trade agreement, Canada and Ukraine have agreed on anti-corruption provisions to protect human rights. Under this agreement, Canada and Ukraine have committed to ensuring that companies can be held responsible for human rights violations.
The agreement also encourages both countries to look at implementing legal protection for whistleblowers. Time and again, Canada has shown that it considers protecting workers' rights a priority. It has negotiated labour protection provisions in the free trade agreements it is a party to, provisions that are essential to upholding human rights. The labour provisions in the free trade agreement with Ukraine will ensure that workers' basic rights are protected in both countries.
Canada and Ukraine also agreed to uphold the standards in the International Labour Organization's 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. To do so, both parties must comply with labour laws governing standards pertaining to minimum wage, hours of work, and workplace health and safety. The labour provisions protect the right to collective bargaining and freedom of association. Child labour, forced labour, and discrimination at work are forbidden. The Canadian labour movement made a vital contribution to promoting equality for women, indigenous peoples, and people with disabilities.
One of our government's priorities is to strengthen the middle class and ensure that all Canadians benefit from trade. Canada's long-term prosperity depends on broad access to foreign markets because trade is a driver of our country's growth and economic success. It enables Canadian businesses to grow, gives Canadian consumers access to a variety of products at competitive prices, and creates jobs for the middle class.
In closing, that is exactly what the free trade agreement with Ukraine is intended to do. I want to thank all members who are here this morning for adding their support by voting in favour of the Canada-Ukraine agreement. This support will help ensure that Canada remains a model of global progressive trade as well as a world leader that chooses to do business with a country like Ukraine, so that people on both sides of the Atlantic can benefit from a progressive trade agreement.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, my colleague has always been a great supporter, and someone for whom I have a lot of respect.
It is very important that we talk about that this morning. When we talk about progressive trade, what Canada stands for in these trade agreements is to try to move the bar higher in a number of countries with respect to that. There is a whole chapter in the agreement with respect to terms of transparency and anti-corruption. It would require legislation in the jurisdiction we are talking about and would make acts of bribery a criminal offence, as well as imposing sanctions that reflect the gravity of these acts and the negative impacts they have on the poorest people. We know that corruption disproportionately affects poor people, and those who are working hard to join the middle class. Lastly, any enterprises doing so will be liable for the crimes that they commit.
I am happy to receive that question, because it shows on the record how, when we talk about progressive trade, we can help people in a concrete fashion.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia, but I also want to thank him on behalf of the people of Ukraine and Canada for supporting this agreement. He has made the point as to how progressive trade and these agreements are good for the world. When we set an ambitious agenda for Canada with respect to progressive trade, whether we are talking about labour standards, or the environment, something that I know the member, and I think all members in this House, care a lot about, that is exactly the voice that people in the world want to hear.
This morning, I had the privilege of meeting with a number of ambassadors. People are asking Canada to seize the moment, to show the world that we can think about open trade and move the bar by working together. There is no greater pleasure for me than to stand here today, knowing that this has bipartisan support. We are sending a strong message, not only to Ukraine, but to the world, that Canada will always stand behind free trade, will always stand for open societies, and will always stand for the environment. We will be true to our values. Our Canadian values will be exported to our trade agreement, and those in the world who are like-minded will benefit. It is all about people. This agreement will improve the lives of people. I am sure that the constituents in my colleague's riding and in mine, as well as the good people of Ukraine, will benefit from what we are doing today. This is an historic moment.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am afraid my colleague has a short memory. The first thing that this government did was reduce taxes for nine million Canadians. It then came along with the Canada child benefit, which is helping nine out of 10 families, and then introduced an infrastructure program for $128 billion, something that is historic in this country. The sad thing that the people at home recognize is that the Conservatives voted against helping the middle class in this country every step of the way.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean.
What I can promise him today is that, while we are in office, we will work for Canadian families and the middle class. That is what we did in budget 2016 and in the fall economic update. He can rest assured of that.
Every day, every step of the way, the members on this side of the House are working to improve the lives of Canadian workers.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for allowing me to repeat this. The first thing we did, and the promise that we made, was to reduce taxes for Canadians. What Canadians across this nation remember is that the Conservatives voted against that. They have voted against helping middle-class families. They have voted against helping Canadian workers. However, we will continue to do just that, working for middle-class Canadians.
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