Trudeau in trade hot seat

The headlines in Ottawa this week were unrelenting:

“Trudeau’s trade deal with China turns into an embarrassment,” and “Trudeau breaks the three rules of doing business in China, leaves Beijing empty-handed” were a common theme from national media.

At issue, primarily, was a press conference in Beijing where it was widely expected that the prime minister would announce Canada and China were entering into formal trade talks.

That did not occur and it is unclear what the current status is of talks between Canada and China that are trade related.

Part of the issue rumoured to be a stumbling block is the Trudeau government’s insistence on  “progressive trade."

 What is “progressive trade?"  

Based on the government’s own definition, it is a trade deal that also has guarantees on topics such as labour, gender and environmental rights that are not normally part of a free trade agreement.

There are many criticisms of this progressive trade policy. As an example, would Canadians accept societal values from another country demanded upon us in order to accept a trade deal?

I suspect many Canadians would not, so it is no surprise that this progressive trade approach has been rejected in NAFTA, TPP and now Chinese trade related discussions.

Why does the Liberal government insist on “progressive trade” language? It has been suggested this language is aimed at Canadians back home for political reasons. Obviously, this is also confusing for our potential trading partners.

However, I believe there is another aspect to this. For example, the Trudeau Liberals have insisted on a national carbon tax here in Canada. In the event Canada enters into a free trade agreement with a country that does not have a national carbon tax, our producers and manufacturers would be at a competitive disadvantage.

Likewise, Canada has significant worker protections with social programs such as EI, CPP, parental leave, medical leave, the right to collective bargaining and more. Other countries, particularly China, do not typically offer similar protections for workers.

As many of these programs are funded, in part, by employers, once again a competitive disadvantage would be created in a free trade agreement.

Canada already has a trade deficit with China of roughly $45 billion annually and growing. Obviously, there also many other concerns related to Chinese human rights and environmental policies or lack thereof as well.

In addition past, cyber-attacks on Canadian Institutions such as Canada’s National Research Council that Communications Security Establishment Canada identified as coming from a “highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor” have yet to be mentioned by the Trudeau Liberals as they continue to negotiate with China behind closed doors.

My question this week:

  • are you in support of a “progressive trade” deal with China?


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More Dan in Ottawa articles

About the Author

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

MP Dan’s parliamentary record includes being recognized by the Ottawa Citizen in 2015 as one of five members of Parliament with a 100 per cent voting attendance record. 

Locally in British Columbia, MP Dan Albas has been consistently one of the lowest spending members of Parliament, on office and administration related costs, despite operating two offices to better serve local constituent.

MP Dan Albas is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

In October 2015, MP Dan Albas was re-elected to Parliament representing the new riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. Dan is currently the shadow minister for small business and sits on the Standing Committee on Finance.

MP Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern.  

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories