Justin Trudeau

Ver­ba­tim: The Ele­phant and the Moose

Policy - - In This Issue - An­drew Scheer is Leader of the Con­ser­va­tive Party of Canada, Leader of the Op­po­si­tion, and MP for Regi­naQu’Ap­pelle. an­drew.scheer@parl.gc.ca

up new mar­kets for Cana­dian small busi­nesses. Its pos­i­tive ef­fects are felt in ev­ery com­mu­nity in Canada.

Con­ser­va­tives un­der­stand why Cana­di­ans are anx­ious about the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment (NAFTA) re-ne­go­ti­a­tions. With 1-in5 Cana­dian jobs linked to trade, it is clear that NAFTA is in­te­gral to Canada’s pros­per­ity. It is there­fore not sur­pris­ing to find out that the ma­jor­ity of Cana­di­ans are con­cerned about the on­go­ing re-ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The Con­ser­va­tive Party’s proud his­tory of free trade and these fun­da­men­tal Cana­dian in­ter­ests are top of mind for our MPs as Justin Trudeau en­gages in re-ne­go­ti­a­tions. Af­ter a decade in of­fice, and with a solid record of ex­pand­ing free trade ac­cess to over 50 coun­tries, Canada’s Con­ser­va­tives have a great deal of in­sight and ex­pe­ri­ence to of­fer.

Canada and the United States are the world’s largest trad­ing part­ners. Our trade re­la­tion­ship has cre­ated 550,000 jobs in the auto sec­tor, 400,000 in forestry and 211,000 in aerospace. These in­dus­tries, and dozens more, move over $2 bil­lion in trade over the Canada-U.S. bor­der ev­ery sin­gle day. We are the top trad­ing part­ner of 32 U.S. states, and ap­prox­i­mately 9 mil­lion Amer­i­can jobs de­pend on trade with us.

These are the stakes as the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment sits down to rene­go­ti­ate NAFTA with the U.S. and Mex­ico. The num­bers may be ab­stract, but the re­al­ity for mil­lions of Cana­di­ans is that their jobs and liveli­hoods de­pend on this ro­bust trade re­la­tion­ship. Canada can­not af­ford to bar­gain away ac­cess to the U.S. mar­ket. We can’t al­low pro­tec­tion­ist rhetoric on ei­ther side of the bor­der to un­der­mine our abil­ity to trade freely across the bor­der.

I have been giv­ing a great deal of thought to the ques­tion of how we de­fine our role in this process, first and fore­most as Cana­di­ans, but also as Con­ser­va­tives, and as the Of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion. Our Con­ser­va­tive Op­po­si­tion will not be mere ob­servers to this process. In­deed, we’ve al­ready acted to pro­mote Canada’s in­ter­ests di­rectly with de­ci­sion-mak­ers in the U.S. My pre­de­ces­sor as leader of the Con­ser­va­tive Party, Rona Am­brose, moved quickly to de­fend Canada’s in­ter­ests, vis­it­ing Wash­ing­ton in Jan­uary and tak­ing Canada’s case to se­nior Amer­i­can law­mak­ers like Sen. Or­rin Hatch, Chair of the Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee. Dur­ing a re­turn visit in April, she met with met with U.S. Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross, among oth­ers.

Con­ser­va­tive MPs have been reach­ing out to their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts, and many have been to Wash­ing­ton over the course of this year. Many mem­bers of the Con­ser­va­tive cau­cus have ex­pe­ri­ence in ne­go­ti­at­ing trade agree­ments and in build­ing our con­ti­nen­tal re­la­tion­ship. Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment like Randy Hoback and Gerry Ritz have been work­ing hard to pro­mote Canada’s in­ter­ests and make sure their coun­ter­parts un­der­stand the im­por­tance of a ro­bust and open trade re­la­tion­ship. Our Cau­cus will con­tinue to as­sist the gov­ern­ment by pro­mot­ing the mer­its of free trade when­ever they have the op­por­tu­nity to do so.

Our Con­ser­va­tive Op­po­si­tion wants to see Canada suc­ceed at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble. That means do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to ar­gue Canada’s case and pro­mote free trade, but it also re­quires the vig­or­ous work of an Of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion, hold­ing the gov­ern­ment to ac­count in Par­lia­ment.

It is our job as Her Majesty’s Loyal Op­po­si­tion to ask se­ri­ous ques­tions about the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­i­ties in these ne­go­ti­a­tions. This is a duty we un­der­take with the great­est re­spect to the val­ues and in­ter­ests I have out­lined above. It is not a mat­ter of rou­tine par­ti­san­ship, an ac­cu­sa­tion the gov­ern­ment might well make in re­sponse to any crit­i­cism they re­ceive dur­ing these ne­go­ti­a­tions. Con­ser­va­tives won’t seek to em­u­late the Lib­eral ap­proach to free trade talks in the 1980s, when a Lib­eral MP fa­mously re­marked that his party would blame “ev­ery spar­row that falls” on the gov­ern­ment. This is not our Con­ser­va­tive ap­proach.

We be­lieve that a strong, prin­ci­pled Op­po­si­tion will strengthen our ne­go­tia­tors’ de­fence of Canada’s in­ter­ests in these talks. There is a par­al­lel to be noted with the Amer­i­can trade ne­go­ti­a­tion process. The United States Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Robert Lighthizer, is re­spon­si­ble to Congress. Dur­ing his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings at the U.S. Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee in March and April, Lighthizer was in­ter­viewed by se­na­tors of both par­ties, Demo­cratic and Re­pub­li­can, over his po­si­tions on var­i­ous trade is­sues. Ron Wy­den, a Demo­crat from Ore­gon, de­manded the trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive take a hard line over soft­wood lum­ber. Pat Toomey, a Re­pub­li­can from Penn­syl­va­nia, wanted Lighthizer to op­pose Canada’s sup­ply man­age­ment pro­gram. Re­gard­less of their party, ev­ery se­na­tor pressed the in­com­ing Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to de­fend their state’s in­ter­ests in ne­go­ti­a­tions with Canada over NAFTA. This isn’t seen as rote par­ti­san­ship. It’s the job of Amer­ica’s elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Amer­i­can ne­go­tia­tors come to the ta­ble know­ing they have to de­liver some­thing that will se­cure enough votes to pass through Congress. And this need to sell Congress on the deal

Con­ser­va­tive MPs have been reach­ing out to their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts, and many have been to Wash­ing­ton over the course of this year. Many mem­bers of the Con­ser­va­tive cau­cus have ex­pe­ri­ence in ne­go­ti­at­ing trade agree­ments and in build­ing our con­ti­nen­tal re­la­tion­ship.

has its uses as a bar­gain­ing tac­tic, one that Cana­dian ne­go­tia­tors will find all too fa­mil­iar.

The legacy of our land­mark free trade agree­ment with the United States, and its sub­se­quent ex­pan­sion into the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment with Mex­ico, is one of mas­sive eco­nomic ex­pan­sion, job growth and in­te­gra­tion be­tween our con­ti­nent’s three large, dy­namic economies.

We think pres­sure from an ef­fec­tive Con­ser­va­tive Op­po­si­tion can serve the same pur­pose. That’s why Con­ser­va­tives won’t hes­i­tate to raise these im­por­tant ques­tions and to de­mand the gov­ern­ment tell Cana­di­ans its plan to de­fend the jobs that de­pend on NAFTA. As we see Congress press­ing Amer­i­can trade ne­go­tia­tors to take a hard line with Canada, we will push our gov­ern­ment to de­fend, and even ex­pand, our trade ac­cess to the Amer­i­can mar­ket. When the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment fails Cana­di­ans on ma­jor trade is­sues Con­ser­va­tives will hold them ac­count­able. For ex­am­ple, the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s in­abil­ity to se­cure a soft­wood lum­ber agree­ment with the for­mer Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion left the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion with sig­nif­i­cant lever­age over Canada at the NAFTA ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble be­cause of the tens of thousands of jobs that are cre­ated by our forestry sec­tor. The Lib­er­als will also find in­creas­ing dif­fi­culty mak­ing the case that U.S. firms need ac­cess to the Cana­dian mar­ket as they pur­sue mis­guided eco­nomic poli­cies that raise the cost of op­er­at­ing a busi­ness in Canada. Con­ser­va­tives have not hes­i­tated to point out the prob­lems these Lib­eral fail­ures have cre­ated for our po­si­tion in this ne­go­ti­at­ing process.

We will also be push­ing the Lib­er­als to go be­yond just meet­ing with politi­cians. When the U.S. threat­ened Canada with their “Buy Amer­i­can” pol­icy, the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment did not just make our case to Wash­ing­ton by our­selves. In­stead, we found busi­nesses all across the U.S. that em­ployed Amer­i­can work­ers thanks to trade with Canada. We had them help make our case for us; they helped us con­vince U.S. law­mak­ers that it was also in their coun­try’s in­ter­ests to keep our bor­ders open. The Lib­er­als need to be do­ing much more of this kind of heavy lift­ing. I be­lieve that Don­ald Trump is much more likely to agree with Canada’s po­si­tion if he is con­vinced of the ben­e­fit to his own coun­try.

We will do what­ever we can to pro­mote Canada’s case south of the bor­der, but we will also hold the gov­ern­ment to ac­count when we be­lieve Cana­dian jobs could be at risk. NAFTA is a his­tor­i­cal legacy of the Con­ser­va­tive Party, and we will not stay silent when Canada’s pros­per­ity is threat­ened by U.S. pro­tec­tion­ism, or Lib­eral mis­man­age­ment.

Above all else, these ne­go­ti­a­tions should not be han­dled with a wai­t­and-see ap­proach. We need clar­ity on Canada’s plan and on what we ex­pect to win through these ne­go­ti­a­tions. Get­ting these an­swers and hold­ing the gov­ern­ment ac­count­able is cen­tral to our role as Her Majesty’s Loyal Op­po­si­tion. This is not blind par­ti­san­ship; it’s our Par­lia­men­tary democ­racy at work. The legacy of our land­mark free trade agree­ment with the United States, and its sub­se­quent ex­pan­sion into the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment with Mex­ico, is one of mas­sive eco­nomic ex­pan­sion, job growth and in­te­gra­tion be­tween our con­ti­nent’s three large, dy­namic economies. Mil­lions of jobs across the con­ti­nent de­pend on free trade be­tween our coun­tries, a fact Cana­di­ans un­der­stand well. This is why Con­ser­va­tives take these NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tions with the ut­most se­ri­ous­ness. We have a very im­por­tant role to play, and a great deal of wis­dom and ex­pe­ri­ence to of­fer. We will do what­ever we can to pro­mote Canada’s case south of the bor­der, but we will also hold the gov­ern­ment to ac­count when we be­lieve Cana­dian jobs could be at risk. NAFTA is a his­tor­i­cal legacy of the Con­ser­va­tive Party, and we will not stay silent when Canada’s pros­per­ity is threat­ened by U.S. pro­tec­tion­ism, or Lib­eral mis­man­age­ment.

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