House of Commons Hansard #202 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.

Topics

Gun Control
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the very fact that those groups are now before the committee expressing their views with respect to the proposed legislation is proof positive that their perspective is being taken into account.

May I say, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member in opposing this legislation is merely illustrating the inconsistencies in their position. This is the party of law and order that will not do as the police chiefs and the police associations want. This is the party that wants to reflect the views of the people and will not pay

attention to polls in their own province showing widespread support for this legislation.

Infrastructure
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister concerning the disgusting and irresponsible diversion of public funds by the minister of public works for a highway called "death valley" where more than 40 people have died over the last nine years so that he could pave a tourist trail in his own riding.

The Minister of Transport twice said this was a decision made by the provincial government. I have in my hand the agreement signed by both governments which says clearly both governments must approve any such project or deal. Why is the Minister of Transport misrepresenting the facts?

Infrastructure
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Infrastructure
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I will permit the Minister of Transport to answer the question but I remind hon. members we are skirting awfully close to unparliamentary language in this question period.

Infrastructure
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, today I welcome all the members of the fifth party to the House of Commons.

To make sure the hon. member understands this, the death highway he refers to was there during the nine years in which he was a member of government travelling to Nova Scotia. It has not changed in a year from the condition it was in eight years ago, seven years ago, six years ago, five years ago and so on.

The one thing we want to make sure of, which the hon. member should realize, is that it is quite true that by consensus funds are reallocated for highway construction. The difference is when the Government of Nova Scotia requested it we did consent, we did not hold it up the way he and his colleagues used to do when they were in government.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, during question period in response to a question I asked of the minister of public works, he suggested I should find it in my heart to shut up. I do not know what the minister expects me to do. I have to ask questions of the government. I do not think it is very parliamentary to ask another member to shut up.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond
Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, it is not unparliamentary and if the hon. member finds the tone somewhat offensive I would gladly apologise to the hon. member. Perhaps the next time he might want to select a different source.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I suggest, with all respect to all hon. members, you give the Chair enough latitude to decide that which is parliamentary or unparliamentary.

I hope we would think very seriously about the words we are using because some of them are inflammatory. Today I found we were coming pretty close to the line of unparliamentary language. I appeal to you to please be very judicious in your choice of words.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, you called into question today my use of the word lapdog. I have found we have used this descriptive word in the House 32 times already in this Parliament. It is not on the list of unparliamentary language.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Earlier in the session the hon. member for Winnipeg South raised a point of order about the use of a word in Parliament. At that time I explained to the hon. member and to the House that there is no word which in and of itself is unparliamentary. We cannot use the word "liar" in describing each other but if we are using it in a sentence sometimes the word can be used.

The chair is always left with the decision as to what is parliamentary and what is unparliamentary many times from the tone of the word, many times in the context in which it was used.

Again I appeal to all members, as I did in past days, that the decisions I make are hopefully for the proper functioning of the House. Today I asked the hon. member to withdraw a word he used. He was very gracious in doing so and I thank him for it. I would like to let that point sit. I found it offensive today and I have made the ruling.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Canadian Dairy Commission Act
Government Orders

May 16th, 1995 / 3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac, QC

Madam Speaker, at the GATT negotiations in Geneva, dairy producers were taken on a roller coaster ride, especially in relation to the talks on article XI, and the talks on whether the supply management system should be preserved were far from reassuring.

The new accord to be implemented following the conclusion of this round of GATT negotiations will force the farming sector to rapidly adapt to a new economic environment.

Dairy producers in particular are facing an enormous challenge. By virtue of the GATT's definition of an export subsidy, NAFTA will force dairy producers to do away with their system of export levies by August 1, 1995, that is, in two and a half months.

Bill C-86 amends the Canadian Dairy Commission Act in order to resolve the problem of export subsidies. I would like to mention that the commission's chairman is Mr. Prégent. In particular, this bill would implement a national pooling system of market returns which would be used to promote the export of dairy products.

Currently, producers pay a levy of some $3 per hectolitre of industrial milk, which is used mostly to make butter and powdered skim milk for export. This levy which was labelled under the GATT and NAFTA as an export subsidy, even though it is paid by the producers and not by the government, is justified because the levy is paid at source, like the Rand formula for unionized workers, as I was explaining to my colleague from Lévis earlier. Union dues are deducted from wages. In this case, the Quebec federation of dairy producers takes $3 for each hectolitre from the farmer's pay. Because it is a deduction at source, NAFTA and the GATT consider it a direct export subsidy, and, as of next August 1, it will no longer be permitted.

Therefore, the pooling allowed under Bill C-86 will be consistent with the international agreements and will permit dairy producers to keep the advantages of the existing system. In 14 and a half months, there will be a single milk pool for all of Canada. In other words, on August 1, 1996 all that will matter is that it is milk, not that it is unprocessed or industrial milk.

The hon. member for Brome-Missisquoi will find that it will not matter whether the cows were Holsteins, Ayershires or Jerseys. The issue is milk, and milk alone. And to top it all off, there will be a single price. No longer will there be two prices, one for fluid milk and one for industrial milk.

We should, however, be aware that if the United States, which is only too ready to challenge, of late, decides to challenge this two price policy for milk, one for the domestic market and one for the international market, the dairy industry could be accused of dumping.

However, the United States, or whatever country feels it has been adversely affected, would have to prove that Canadian exports were prejudicial to its market. Since we do not export a lot, and since our exports are increasingly value added processed products, this proof could be very elusive.

Bill C-86 is the response of producers to the impact of new international rules on the dairy industry. Dairy producers have rolled up their sleeves and found ingenious solutions to their predicament. We in the Bloc Quebecois support Bill C-86 because it allows producers to adapt to the requirements of international trade agreements signed by Canada.

The main purpose of the bill is to replace export levies going into an export subsidization fund with the pooling of returns from the marketing of dairy products.

Since some provinces-such as Quebec-export more dairy products than others, the commission will ensure that each province's contribution to the export fund matches its percentage of quotas. That is fair. If Quebec produces 47.5 per cent of industrial milk, it will pay 47.5 per cent of the export fund. If Prince Edward Island produces 6 per cent, it will pay 6 per cent.

For once in this country, we will have ensured a process that is fair. It will be different from the research and development funding system, in which Quebec receives barely 17 or 18 per cent of the funds allocated to R and D every year. In this case, each province will pay according to its percentage of dairy production.

The pooling of revenues from the marketing of dairy products from every province will allow domestic producers to continue to share market risks equitably and to balance the costs of the system, as the levy system often did. For example, if Quebec produces 48 per cent, it will pay 48 per cent; if Prince Edward Island produces 12 per cent, it will pay 12 per cent, and so on.

As you can imagine, I am pleased to point out that this bill will also allow the commission to delegate its powers to provincial marketing boards and to receive in return any similar powers granted to provincial boards, since fluid milk presently comes under the provinces while the Canadian Dairy Commission's authority is restricted to industrial milk.

The bill provides for a delegation of powers between the commission and the provinces for the purpose of managing the pooled fund. In the absence of a signed agreement, the commission would administer the pool only for industrial milk.

I look at the Liberal members opposite and I think that they, as well as the Minister of Agriculture, who is here this afternoon, will understand. How can this be in a federal system variously described as renewed federalism, courtroom federalism or flexible federalism? Those who talk about courtroom federalism probably worked for the Barreau du Québec or some such organization and see in this an opportunity to line their pockets. As the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs told us again this afternoon: "If you are not happy, all you have to do is sue".

In a normal country, do we go to court every day, one part of the country suing the rest? That is this government's vision of Canada.

Fluid milk, the type we drink every day, comes under provincial jurisdiction, while industrial milk comes under federal jurisdiction, that is to say our jurisdiction, here, in Ottawa.

That is federalism for you: the same cow has to have two sets of udders, with the federal government drawing from the left side and the provincial government from the right. This agreement will help a little bit in correcting this distortion. I can see Liberal members laughing. They are laughing because they did not even know that industrial milk fell within their jurisdiction. One of them just woke up, poor him. He finally realized that reality in the legal world is quite different from the reality of agriculture.

These are the technical changes introduced by Bill C-86 regarding the Canadian Dairy Commission. It is interesting to note that the bill is put forward in a context where six provinces, namely Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, have signed an agreement in principle to pool their whole milk supply system.

I must say that, among the ten provinces, there is one exception and that is Newfoundland, because it has only fifty of so dairy producers, producing mainly fluid milk, which comes under provincial jurisdiction. So, Newfoundland is not a member of this consortium, leaving nine potential members.

The three Western provinces-Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia-have not joined the other six yet. Should they be called sovereignist provinces? Or secessionist, indépendantiste or even, as the Prime Minister says, separatist? I do not think so. These are elected people who want to properly manage government affairs, adequately represent their constituents, and also check with them to see if this is a good solution. I must say that, regardless of what happens, the six other provinces account for over 82 per cent of Canada's milk production.

Even if all the provinces keep their current quotas, there will only be one milk. There will no longer be any distinction made between industrial milk and fluid milk. Consequently, only one price will apply to milk across the country. The provinces will split the increases in quotas among themselves, and producers will be able to buy quotas from other provinces, which is a nice change.

A Quebec producer will be able to buy a quota in Ontario or in New Brunswick, and vice versa. Of course, there could be an increase in consumption if we help each other, if this government stops reducing subsidies to industrial milk producers, as it just did. The hon. member said that the Minister of Finance was not increasing taxes. What a naive statement on his part, given that the federal tax on gas has gone up half a cent per litre. And the member claims this is not a tax. Oh no, this is not a tax.

The government reduced its industrial milk subsidies by 30 per cent. This is not a tax. However, the cost of milk will increase and the government reduces its subsidies. But this is not a tax. Oh no. It is not a tax. Go and ask producers. Go to Lafaille's for example. I did go last Monday to the Lafaille and Sons' auction, in the riding of my friend, the hon. member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead, and I talked with some of my fellow farmers. Let me tell you that the minister should stay away, because if he went there-but he would not dare do that, of course-he would find out what farmers think of his budget.

Admittedly, it took some doing to conclude this agreement. It is the result of lengthy negotiations in which Quebec demonstrated commendable leadership. When the topic of grain and cereals comes up in the House, the West takes the lead role. But in this case, where for once a bill affects Quebec, I am sure you will not mind if I take a minute this afternoon to congratulate some of our own experts on their tireless efforts. I am thinking of the Quebec federation of dairy producers, its president, Claude Rivard, and its vice president, Jean Grégoire, as well as economist Guylaine Gosselin, the UPA milk expert.

I would also like to pay tribute to officials of the Quebec federation of dairy producers for their unremitting efforts throughout these negotiations. There is no doubt that our milk producers in Quebec are very well represented by their elected officials and by their union, the UPA.

I invite my Liberal colleagues to occasionally take a look at La terre de chez nous. They would find this weekly newspaper very instructive regarding the views of Quebec farmers and other questions. Speaking of the West, La Terre de chez nous carried an article this week about the Canadian milk pool, which threw out an invitation to Western indépendantistes, the three provinces that have not yet signed up: British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Despite their hesitation, the repercussions of this historic agreement may well be greater than first thought.

From a practical point of view, we need only mention that in 1996, Quebec dairy producers should see their income rise by 60 to 70 cents per hectolitre. Of course, 60 or 70 cents is not a fortune. It is an increase of a little over half a cent a litre, which has nothing to do with the increase they should have received, given the rise in the cost of living and the cut of the 30 per cent subsidy that the federal government is getting ready to implement on July 1. This increase of 60 to 70 cents per hectolitre results from the realignment of prices for industrial milk and unprocessed milk in Quebec and the prices of milk in the other

provinces, since by 1996, there will be one national price for milk in Canada.

Because of the GATT, Canada will have to allow butter to be imported this year, which will probably affect quotas. But, with the pooling of all returns, the six provinces will share the impact of market fluctuations on all milk prices and no one province will be hit harder than any other.

What must be stressed is that this kind of agreement is based on the economy. It is the kind of agreement which maximizes the strong points of each and every member, who are all working together. Even with a referendum around the corner, producers from various provinces did not hesitate to collaborate with Quebec because it was in their best interests to do so. When we get down to reality, not hypothetical disaster scenarios, we see that the voice of reason prevails over political considerations.

In a document written by The Council for Canadian Unity, largely funded by the taxes paid by all Canadians, and in particular by Quebecers who are forced to pay for this kick in the behind, the council strongly suggests that the word "separation" be used, although the explanation it gives of the term in the glossary simply refers the reader to the definition of sovereignty.

And a few weeks ago, I saw that, regarding the separation of Quebec, the Prime Minister once again uttered the sentence that he just loves to repeat: "Does Quebec want to separate or not?" He knows very well that his only way of convincing people is by fearmongering.

Last week, when I was doing the rounds in my riding, I made a point of visiting-and I hope you did too, Madam Speaker, because I know you have a very special relationship with seniors and as you know, last week was national seniors homes' week-so I made a point of visiting the homes in my riding, and to my surprise, I found that more and more seniors support sovereignty for Quebec.

When I read in La Presse that the Premier of Quebec went to the Lower St. Lawrence, in the riding of the Quebec minister of agriculture, where at a home for seniors, he renewed the membership card of the oldest member of the Parti Quebecois on that member's one hundred and first birthday, I thought that was splendid.

This always reminds me of my elderly mother-unfortunately she passed away three years ago-who said she was going to vote for sovereignty because all her children were in favour of sovereignty. But she always added that this was the only weapon we have against their scare tactics. In fact, in a document the Council for Canadian Unity recommends using the term "separation", but they have a nerve, it is not even in the dictionary.

According to them, with sovereignty Quebec would immediately lose-and this is just to scare our farmers-all its market quotas in Canada. According to them, it is unlikely that farmers in other provinces would agree to maintain those quotas. When I say them, I am referring to the Council for Canadian Unity, led by a bunch of dyed in the wool federalists who are biased and misrepresent the facts.

Does this mean that after making substantial changes in their operating procedures during this referendum year, producers outside Quebec would be so inconsistent as to drop the whole thing this fall? Madam Speaker, let us be reasonable. In business matters, farmers know which side their bread is buttered.

Canadian Dairy Commission Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

An hon. member

As they say: "Money talks".

Canadian Dairy Commission Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac, QC

Indeed. This single milk pool which, as I said earlier, represents 82 per cent of milk production, was created not for the sake of any one group but because it makes sense, and the six provinces that are part of this agreement are in it because it works for them. And who knows, maybe this agreement will be the first of many to be negotiated between Canada and Quebec, after a positive response by Quebecers to the referendum this fall.

At a time when we must adjust to the new environment created by the GATT agreements, we should welcome this agreement wholeheartedly.

As the president of the Union des producteurs agricoles du Québec, Laurent Pellerin, pointed out: "The day after the GATT agreements, the government reiterated its support for supply management on the condition that producers, and dairy producers in particular, collectively adapt their marketing tools". The ball is now in the federal government's court. Let us see whether it keeps its word on this.

Let us now take a closer look at Bill C-86, which was made necessary. As usual, the present federal government waits until the last minute before acting. This bill must pass all stages, receive Senate approval and be in force by August 1, 1995. If we do not count May, only June and July remain. Therefore we have to get on with it.

The aim of this bill is to adjust the famous $3 currently deducted on every hectolitre of industrial milk produced by dairy producers. This $3 levy, known as the export costs in the industry, will be illegal under international agreements as of August 1. This levy is vital, however, because, without this assistance to industrial milk processors, our exports would no longer be competitive, and we would not be able to compete with products from outside the country, which could flood the markets in Canada and Quebec, because our prices would be too high.

I have 40 minutes, Madam Speaker. Yes. I wonder if time does not go by faster on your watch than on mine.

Canadian Dairy Commission Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

You had 30 minutes left when you started.