Calkins: Getting NAFTA negotiated correctly

MP Blaine Calkins wants to see the Trudeau government sort out its NAFTA negotiations

Blaine Calkins

MP Red Deer-Lacombe

After a welcome Christmas Break, I am currently preparing to head back to Ottawa for the winter session of the House of Commons. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and rang in the new year in good health.

One thing I kept hearing from constituents across the riding is the failure of the Trudeau Liberal government to secure a renegotiated NAFTA deal.

Considering that approximately 85 per cent of Alberta’s exports are sent to the United States, NAFTA termination could have a devastating impact on our province. In total around 13 per cent of Alberta jobs, or over 300,000 jobs, are directly linked to U.S. exports. Additionally, overall Canada-U.S. trade amounts to over $800 billion per year. Therefore, it is crucially important that the Government of Canada secures a renegotiated NAFTA agreement that protects Canadian jobs and businesses.

Without NAFTA, local farmers and businesses in Red Deer and Lacombe would face tariffs when exporting their goods to the United States. As our largest trading partner these tariffs would have a direct and immediate impact on the bottom line of local businesses and negatively impact our economy with the potential to severely affect the local labor market.

In early January, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and his team of Shadow Ministers travelled to Washington, D.C. to fight for a new NAFTA deal. We are working alongside the Government of Canada to present a united front on behalf of Canada in the face of protectionist U.S. trade policies. My Conservative colleagues and I are regularly consulting with concerned businesses and industry groups and our U.S. counterparts regarding the importance of NAFTA’s survival.

In contrast to the Conservative team’s cooperative and supportive stance, the Trudeau Liberal government has taken an obstructionist approach to the NAFTA renegotiation. Unfortunately, the Trudeau Liberal government is complicating a potential NAFTA deal by insisting on the insertion of provisions on gender equality, labour rights, and Indigenous rights. While important issues, I see little need of one democracy to lecture another in this regard, especially in light of the economic importance of this relationship.

Furthermore, Trudeau has neglected the U.S. trade file in pursuit of a free trade deal with China, which has to date, failed epically. Trudeau has also failed to secure a softwood lumber deal with the comparatively more pro-free trade Obama administration. Now, the Trump administration can use the softwood lumber dispute as leverage in the NAFTA renegotiation. Trudeau has also severely tarnished the image of Canada with the other 10 members of the TPP11, when he failed to show up to the meeting of leaders from these countries to sign the agreement that had been negotiated in good faith. I fear Canada will pay a price for this should TPP11 be implemented.

Overall, I am concerned that Canada is becoming a less attractive place to do business under this Liberal government. While the U.S. government has passed sweeping tax reform to significantly lower their corporate tax rate, the Trudeau Liberals have introduced punitive tax increases on small business owners and refused to cut Canada’s corporate tax to compete with the U.S. Furthermore, the U.S. government is overseeing a dramatic increase in oil and gas production at the same time that the Trudeau Liberal government is imposing a carbon tax, tanker bans, pipeline cancelations and upstream and downstream emissions regulations that make every energy project in Canada unattractive for investment. This is not in the national interest.

The Trudeau Liberal government must act to secure a renegotiated NAFTA deal and reduce taxes to keep the Canadian economy competitive with that of the USA. It’s in all our best interests.

Please contact my Constituency office if you have any questions or concerns on any federally related matters, postage free, at: 201-5025 Parkwood Road, Blackfalds, AB T0M 0J0; tel: 587-621-0020; toll free: 1-800-665-0865 or visit my website: www.blainecalkinsmp.ca.

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