Hon. James Gordon Carr - Speech for Second Reading of Bill C‑79:  Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation Bill


September 17, 2018

Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is with enthusiasm and optimism that I rise in the House today to speak about our government’s plan to diversify Canada’s trade.

Specifically, I will speak about Bill C-79, the legislation before members today to implement the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership – otherwise known as the CPTPP.

This is the first Government Bill to be debated in the Fall sitting.

That is a statement in itself, and I intend to speak to that too.

It reflects the importance we attach to swift ratification of the new CPTPP so that our farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and workers from across the country can get down to the business of tapping new markets and bringing Brand Canada to more corners of the world.

Mr. Speaker, there has never been a better time for Canadians to diversify. 

As a trading nation, we need to add to our list of customers and to the roster of our innovative, hard-working, entrepreneurial and ambitious sellers.

Just today I am meeting with my counterpart from the United Kingdom and in the last two weeks I was in Israel, Thailand and Singapore.

After the United States withdrew, Canada took the lead back in March 2017, relaunching stalled talks for the old TPP and then working tirelessly to secure a deal that reflected not just the ambitions of the few but the dreams of the many.

This effort was in large part about driving real changes for the middle class who have not always seen their interests reflected in agreements.

We changed the terms of trade protecting our intellectual property, our unique culture and we expanded access to a market of 500 million consumers, covering 13 per cent of global GDP.

The new CPTPP was renegotiated with a view to looking beyond the few current large exporters to those unaccustomed or ready for new markets. 

Because while competition is a very healthy thing, if workers feel that their quality work going out the front door is undermined by weaker standards of work coming through the back door, support for trade suffers.

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-79 is of critical importance to the Canadian Economy.

It is vital, particularly for our agricultural sectors that are now, even as I speak, reaping the harvests that will soon be shipped to new markets. 

As we have said from the outset, Canada will be among the first 6 countries to ratify as long as this House, and the other place, recognize the opportunity this deal brings to countless hard-working Canadians and move swiftly to the pass this bill.

Bill C-79 brings forward all legislative amendments required to ratify and implement the agreement.

Other regulatory changes will also be required for Canada to ratify, and that regulatory process will follow Royal Assent of the Bill.

Mr. Speaker, this is not just a new trade agreement for Canada, this is a signal to the world that trade matters, that rules matter, and that we will not be drawn into the world of protectionism. 

This Bill is a statement that we will seek out every opportunity and negotiate terms that benefit the middle class and those working hard to join it. 

Mr. Speaker, this Bill also speaks directly to Canada’s diversification imperative. 

As a middle power, we cannot afford the status quo and we cannot afford to wait for the world to come to us.

Our competitiveness depends on opening more markets and making those markets more accessible, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses.

Mr. Speaker, on Friday we will celebrate another landmark trade agreement secured under this government: the first anniversary of the trade agreement with Europe, CETA. 

And in just one year, business is booming.

Just last week, we learned container traffic at the Port of Montreal is already up year on year 20 per cent.

That is 20 per cent more traffic in the made-in-Canada goods Canadians produce each and every day.

In addition to transatlantic trade, we are expanding preferential access across our hemisphere, moving forward on a free trade agreement our government initiated with Mercosur, including Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay and enhanced membership with the Pacific Alliance, including Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia.

And with the new CPTPP, we extend our reach to the Pacific with an eye to the long term.   

We are, after all, a Pacific Nation.

That is why reorienting and renewing what is now the CPTPP was so critical for us.

Why Canada Negotiated the CPTPP

Asia matters to Canada, Mr. Speaker.

Asia is home to the world’s fastest-growing middle class. By 2030 nearly two thirds of the world’s middle class –estimated to be 3.5 billion people –will call Asia home.

The CPTPP is a cornerstone for Canada’s greater engagement with the Asia-Pacific countries and solidly anchors Canada’s place in the Asian market.

There are ten new markets on offer: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

That is a trading bloc representing close to 500 million people, and 13.5% of global GDP.

Economic Significance of the CPTPP for Canada

The CPTPP translates to benefits for farmers and growers, fishermen and women, lumberjacks (and jills), Bay Street and Main Street, miners and chemists, manufacturers, and service providers.

The CPTPP will also level the playing field for Canadian exporters staying even with competitors that already have preferential access to countries like Japan, the world’s third largest economy.

Last year our bilateral trade with Japan reached $29 billion.  Just imagine next year.

The opportunities are enormous.

For example, the quality and beauty of Canadian wood is world renowned.

In Japan, indeed throughout the Asia-Pacific region, the environmental and structural benefits of wooden construction are being embraced – including plans for a 1,148-foot wooden skyscraper.

The home for the world’s current tallest wooden building is here in Canada; a residential structure at the University of British Columbia; incidentally, as Minister of Natural Resources, I had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon on that project.

With the advent of CPTPP, market opportunities for Canada’s forest products sector are inviting and impressive.

Canadian high-tech companies like OpenText have been battling and succeeding in the ultra-competitive Asian markets for decades.

The IP protections secured in the CPTPP will protect the investments these companies have made in Canada and allow them to compete and win in Asia.

Highlights of the Agreement

Mr. Speaker, we consulted extensively with Canadians for more than  two years to get the Agreement right and fought hard on their behalf to make important changes; suspensions to certain articles or side letters with the full force of international law in areas such as intellectual property, investor-state dispute settlement, culture and autos.

The CPTPP also includes many other significant achievements.

For example, financial service providers will benefit from enhanced investment protection and preferential access, including in Malaysia and Vietnam where commitments go far beyond what either country has offered in any FTA.

Through the Government Procurement Chapter, Canadian businesses will be able to access open and fair procurement in all CPTPP markets.

CPTPP Parties will eliminate tariffs on over 95% of tariff lines, covering 99% of current Canadian exports to CPTPP markets, with the vast majority to be eliminated immediately upon entry into force of the Agreement.

The CPTPP also addresses non-tariff measures that we know are prevalent and which create business uncertainty for our exporters. 

And that includes the auto sector where we know non-tariff barriers have been a constant irritant.

In addition, the Chapter on State-Owned Enterprises and Designated Monopolies provides for rules to help ensure that state-owned enterprises operate on a commercial basis and in a non-discriminatory manner when making purchases and sales.

Making the CPTPP more accessible

Mr. Speaker, we didn’t stop there.

The CPTPP also includes dedicated chapters on labour, environment, small and medium-sized enterprises, transparency and anti‑corruption.

  • The Labour Chapter includes binding commitments to ensure that national laws and policies provide protection for fundamental principles and rights at work, including freedom of association, collective bargaining, and the elimination of child labour and forced labour.

When we relaunched stalled talks, these chapters were on ice.

And now? Both the Labour and Environment Chapters are fully enforceable through the Agreement’s dispute settlement mechanism.

We reaffirmed our right to regulate in the public interest; promoted labour rights, environmental protection and conservation; preserved cultural identity and diversity; and promoted corporate social responsibility, gender equality and Indigenous rights.

Canada is now poised to be the only G7 country with free trade agreements with all of the other G7 countries.

To realize that remarkable value proposition, diversification into new markets must be a national project to which every farmer, rancher, fisher, manufacturer, entrepreneur, business owner and innovator commits their efforts.

We need every Canadian with ambitions to grow their business to think global.

We have countless people to people ties to almost every country on earth; these are the bridges over which more trade can flow. 

We also need to support our youth in gaining global experience for their future career prospects, and securing Canada’s place in the global economy.

We will not stop until Canada is the epicentre of global trade and the world’s most connected, stable, predictable, innovative and in-demand market on earth.

We are focused on providing the middle class with unparalleled access to sell East across the Atlantic, south across our hemisphere and West across the entire Pacific basin. 

Mr. Speaker, my first trip as the Minister of International Trade Diversification outside of North America was to Thailand and Singapore. 

In Singapore, I pushed for an acceleration of talks towards a possible free trade agreement with the ASEAN nations, adding some of the largest and fastest-growing countries to our ever-expanding piece of the Pacific pie.

Competitiveness‎: Making Canada the Global Trading Hub

While we must open opportunities for all Canadians, we must also focus on areas where Canada has a clear global competitive advantage.  Our most innovative business sectors have the greatest export potential.

This is a message that is coming through loud and clear through the work of the Superclusters and Economic Strategy Tables, for

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Agri-Food
  • Health/Bio-Sciences
  • Clean Technology
  • Digital Industries
  • Resources of the Future

We are committed to continuing this work with industry partners to turn high-growth Canadian companies into global successes.

We are a government that invests in its ideas.

Capacity: Building the Skills to Compete Globally

We recently announced $50 million to support diversification efforts and opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses.

We need to link our small and medium-sized businesses to global supply chains and to multinationals and global infrastructure projects the world over.

More global companies should see Canada as critical and integral to their supply chain and our SMEs need access to international markets to scale-up.

Connectivity: Taking our Innovation & Skills Global‎

Exports and imports account for 60% of Canada's GDP.

This government knows that our competitiveness depends on making real investments in our future.

Mr. Speaker, the previous government talked a good game but focused only on the detail that worked for the top one per cent.

They scaled back the programs available through our Trade Commissioner Service so it could only serve the privileged few, the ones largely operating overseas.

We will reverse that trend and get our sales numbers way up.

Confidence: Making Trade Work for Hardworking Canadians

Mr. Speaker, Canada will also carry the mantle of defender of the global rules based order.

Canada played a key role in building the multilateral trading system of the last century and we will not see it eroded.

We will defend it and we will reform it.

Our convening power and commitment to the rules-based order is an essential strength and we will put it to work for more Canadians.

That is why next month I will host a WTO Reform Summit in Ottawa.


Mr. Speaker, Canada is the home of Marconi’s Signal Hill and Bell Northern Research, precursors to our current successes in hi-tech.  

We were the birthplace of the Skidoo and the regional jet, the home of canola, an agri-innovation that helps feed the world and Cirque de Soleil, which helps feed the soul. 

We are the home of international gaming studios and the burgeoning hub of Artificial Intelligence. 

We are the home of the Canadarm and Candu, the Toronto International Film Festival and Canada Goose.

There is nothing like Brand Canada.  We are naturally global.

But we haven’t always been actively global.

The CPTPP is a call to action.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all members in this House and the other place to move swiftly on this Bill. 

Now is our time. Thank you. Merci.

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