Throughout history, trade has proven to be a key in nation building. In 1600, the Europeans visited China which was at the time, an advanced culture. The Europeans wanted to trade with China but were denied. Due to this denial, Europeans traded with the rest of the world and the results were dramatic. In 1600, the life expectancy was 26.5 years in Europe and China. By 1800, the life expectancy doubled in Europe but remained relatively the same in China. During that time, Europeans’ physical stature increased by 5.5 inches above their Chinese counterparts. All this was attributed to trade, new foods, medicines and prosperity, which improved the standard of living for most European countries. History revealed the country that embraced this most, England, became the world’s superpower of the day.
Today is no different. Trade is a key to a vibrant economy and the standard of living. Your government has embraced an aggressive trade agenda that will result in growth, jobs, and prosperity for all Canadians. Our Minister of Trade, the Honourable Ed Fast, has regularly met and negotiated trade opportunities with representatives from many countries.
Our government recognizes that if you are going to be a trading nation you need the infrastructure to support related initiatives. Our Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative invested money into transportation, ports, and infrastructure to facilitate greater ease in the transfer of goods between Asia and North America. A good example is the Port of Prince Rupert. Our government, along with the Government of British Columbia, invested $60 million into this port, which has proven to be a great investment. The money was used to help purchase land for the state-of-the-art Fairview Container Terminal, which has grown every year since opening. The port has increased from five million tons shipped through the port in 2006, to 20 million tons today. Since 2009, there has been a 70 per cent increase in jobs, resulting in 2,220 full-time jobs in Prince Rupert, over $420 million contributed to B.C.’s gross domestic product and over $880 million in total economic output across the B.C. economy. A great investment of tax dollars, don’t you think?
The port is also expanding, with a $90 million investment (including $15 million from the federal government) in the Rail, Road and Utility Corridor on Ridley Island, in order to accommodate coal from northeast B.C. and the U.S. Midwest and liquid natural gas going to Asia.
The port is also investing in a B.C. wood pellet terminal that will ship to Asian and Europe, plus greater volumes of containers between Asia and North America (an increase of 18 per cent over last year). British Columbia’s annual lumber shipments to China alone have soared: in 2011, Canada shipped 6.8 million cubic metres of lumber to China, a drastic increase from 2006, when Canada shipped only 331,000 cubic metres.
The lines have now been drawn in Parliament. Over their 13 years in government, the Liberals completed only three trade deals. In less than six years, our government concluded free trade agreements with nine countries. Sadly, the NDP has consistently opposed our government’s efforts to open up new markets for Canadian exporters.
Trade agreements need to protect the best interests of Canadian values, the environment and the economy. You can be assured that this is your government’s top priority in our pro-trade agenda.
– Colin Mayes is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Shuswap.