If you closely follow events in Ottawa, you may have heard the Conservative official Opposition recently voted against a revised Canada-Ukraine free-trade agreement.
That raises the question of why I voted against it.
In 2015, the then Stephen Harper-led Conservative government negotiated Canada's first free-trade deal with Ukraine. I strongly supported that free-trade agreement at the time and would still vote in favour of it today.
In September, the current Liberal government announced its plans to update the Canada-Ukraine trade agreement. At that time, Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade of Canada Minister Mary Ng stated, "The new deal maintains existing market access while introducing new clauses related to services, investment, labour standards, and gender equality."
In reality, the revised agreement includes even more progressive language. One example is section 13.10.8 (h), which states, "promote carbon pricing and measures to mitigate carbon leakage risks."
Including carbon pricing in a trade agreement is part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's domestic political agenda. However, I believe it should not be imposed on another country.
Here is what the former Canada-Ukraine agreement stated in section 12.3: "Recognizing the right of each party to set its own environmental priorities, establish its own levels of environmental protection, and adopt or modify its environmental laws and policies accordingly, each party shall strive to ensure that those laws and policies provide for and encourage high levels of environmental protection. Furthermore, each party shall strive to continue improving these laws and policies, as well as the underlying levels of protection."
The previous (and still active) agreement acknowledged the principle that the citizens of Ukraine, through their democratically elected governments, can establish their environmental legislation.
There is also the issue of hypocrisy. While the government is advocating for the implementation of carbon pricing, it recently granted a carbon tax exemption on home heating oil, citing affordability as the justification.
Both the promotion of carbon pricing and the temporary removal of the federal carbon tax on home heating oil were done to further Trudeau's domestic political agenda.
Additionally, it is worth mentioning the Conservatives proposed amendments to the revised Canada-Ukraine free trade deal. Those amendments aimed to increase the availability and supply of Canadian manufactured ammunition. However, the (government) curiously rejected that amendment.
I have always supported trade deals that respect the rights of other democratic countries to determine their priorities and policies. In my opinion, the "progressive trade” concept seeks to impose specific values and priorities from one country onto another, undermining this process.
This week's question is:
Do you agree with Prime Minister Trudeau's attempt to include topics such as the promotion of carbon pricing in a trade agreement with another country? Why or why not?
You can reach me at [email protected] or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkamen-Nicola.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.