Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act (Bill C-41)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. friend from Winnipeg North about an aspect that is often confused with trade agreements but has nothing to do with liberalizing trade and has everything to do with putting foreign corporations in a superior position to domestic government, and those are what are referred to generally as investor state agreements. As the member may know, the Green Party opposes investor state agreements because, by their very definition, they are anti-democratic.

I know there are some concerns within the Liberal Party, but it seems members are generally in favour of investor state agreements, and I wanted to ask my friend from Winnipeg North if there are any limitations on Liberal Party support for investor state agreements such as the Canada-Korea agreement we have before us now?

Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, I am not too sure of the terminology of investor state agreements that the member is referring to. I will take her at face value. Obviously in any sort of an agreement there are always certain aspects that raise concerns. What we are talking about is the overall principle of having free trade agreements, and the benefits to Canadians as a whole have been, generally speaking, very positive.

There are always going to be concerns. When I think of the Korea agreement, for example, one of the biggest concerns that I and members of my caucus have is in regard to the automobile industry. We are very sensitive to that industry and the needs of that industry. This is an industry where, again, through time, we have seen very progressive, liberally minded prime ministers talk about ways in which we can expand that industry and complement it.

Whenever there is a trade agreement, one of the more responsible things to do is to look at where and how that agreement would impact real jobs here. For example, in the Korea agreement, part of the concern I have, and I know many of my colleagues share it, is the automobile industry. When we talked about the European Union agreement, I raised the issue of the impact on cheese sales. There are always going to be different aspects of an agreement, but in general I believe that free trade agreements are a positive thing and we have to recognize that in principle.

As for the point of order from my New Democratic Party colleague, this is the first time in all the months or years of my challenging the NDP that they have actually suggested a date. I look forward to doing the follow-up and I will look into that date. I would be shocked to find that all the members of the New Democratic caucus actually voted in favour of that agreement. However, I will wait and do a little research on that date. I was encouraged. This is the first time in which an NDP member has actually stood and declared a date, but I would still be surprised if every member of the New Democratic caucus actually voted in favour of a free trade agreement.