Canada’s continued economic strength under our Conservative Government is something all Canadians can be proud of. Together we have weathered the global economic recession better than most, we have the best job creation record and the best debt-to-GDP ratio among G7 countries, and we are consistently named one of the best countries in the world to do business. Our Conservative Government is building on that strong record by expanding Canada’s trade.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, our Conservative Government is continuing to pursue the most ambitious trade agenda in Canadian history. When our Government first came into office, Canada had only 5 free trade agreements. Now, Canada has agreements with 43 countries. By opening up new markets for Canadian goods we can help grow the economy and create jobs. At the same time, free trade gives Canadian families more choices and lower prices when they go shopping.

A local example of why free trade agreements are important is the recent announcement by Pembroke Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) to re-open after a prolonged shutdown. Pembroke MDF is part of the global supply chain in the new world economy that free trade agreements are intended to benefit from. We depend on exports for jobs. While Canada’s housing market avoided the crash experienced in our principal market due in part to more conservative lending standards and a stronger economy, the drop in US housing starts led to the local shutdown. With Pembroke’s sister plant in the global supply chain now operating at full capacity, Pembroke MDF is well situated for the economic recovery now underway. This is big news for our local economy.

The start of the Pembroke MDF brings back to work 110 employees, with the possibility of 40 more full time employees when the moulding plant gets restarted. Pembroke MDF will directly affect the operations of 19 local lumber mills, 58 timber harvesting business, 15 trucking companies and forest management companies with a total employment of 1.895. Indirectly, Pembroke MDF will engage local businesses in various sectors such as manufacturing service, trucking and logistics, maintenance and related operations representing another 1,500 employees. With a conservative multiplier representing the engaged support businesses and institutions across Eastern Ontario, an operating Pembroke MDF affects over 6,280 workers in Renfrew County and will contribute indirectly to another 1,069 jobs.

When our Conservative Government first took office, we made it a priority to help grow Canada’s exports and sign important free trade agreements to help create jobs and opportunities, here in Renfrew County and across the country.

As a result of our Conservative Government’s hard work, Canada now has free trade agreements with 43 nations. Free trade agreements do not just appear, the way members of the Opposition in Ottawa think budgets “just balance themselves.”

Free Trade Agreements create jobs and opportunities for Canadians across the country. Not only do they benefit Canadian consumers, they are good news for farmers, the aerospace industry like Haley Industries/Magellan Aerospace and the forestry sector, to name a few. Canadian businesses, investors and consumers in every province benefit significantly from the increased market access. By helping expand Canada’s trade, our Government is continuing to help Canadian businesses grow and create jobs, while giving Canadian families more choice and lower prices for everyday goods.

By negotiating free trade agreements our Government is helping give Canada a global competitive advantage, and helping Canadian companies expand and create more jobs. At the same time, we are also helping deliver more choice and lower prices for families here at home. Canadians can count on our Conservative Government to continue delivering on our ambitious trade agenda.

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