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Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, last Thursday, September 21, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, CETA for short, came into effect. Much of the groundwork for that was laid, of course, by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper and the capable leadership of Minister Ed Fast.

In October 2013, Stephen Harper tabled in the House of Commons the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement summary of the negotiated outcomes, which was an agreement in principle. In other words, in 2013 the Conservatives had already negotiated an agreement in principle with the EU, which Prime Minister Harper called a milestone toward the most ambitious trade agreement in Canadian history.

In fact, 2013 was the most productive for international trade and investment in Canadian history. It included, besides the signing of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, bringing into force or signing free-trade agreements with three priority countries and concluding or bringing into force a record 10 foreign investment promotion and protection agreements. This agreement was so close to coming into effect that The Conference Board of Canada predicted, in June 2015, that it would come into effect the very next year. At that time The Conference Board of Canada pointed out that it would be larger in scale than any other international trade agreement in Canada’s history.

In March 2015, Stephen Harper gave a speech in which he pointed to his government’s record on signing free-trade agreements, which far outstripped the previous Liberal government’s. He said:

Under our Conservative government, Canada is going to have virtually unfettered access for our world-class products, workers and investors in 43 countries across the world . . . compared to just five when we took office.

Of that five, the most significant one was the trade agreement with the United States that was negotiated by Brian Mulroney.

Under the Harper government, FTAs with 10 countries came into force, with Peru, Colombia, Jordan, Panama, Honduras and South Korea, under individual agreements; and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland under a goods-only regional agreement. The deal with the European Union brought another 28 countries into free trade with Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.