House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Unborn Victims of Crime
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Norman Doyle St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of people in St. John's East.

The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to enact a law that would recognize unborn children as separate victims when they are injured or killed during the commission of an offence against their mothers, allowing charges to be laid against the offender instead of just one.

Of course, when a pregnant woman in Canada is assaulted or killed, because we offer no legal protection for unborn children today, no charge can be laid in the death of an unborn child.

Therefore, the petitioners are calling upon Parliament to enact a law to that effect.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

May 27th, 2008 / 10:15 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from May 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak about Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and about our amendment, which proposes that the bill not be read a third time but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food for the purpose of reconsidering Clause 2 with a view to making sure that both economic and environmental effects of introducing these regulations do not cause a negative impact on the environment or unduly influence commodity markets.

The New Democrats support the use of biofuels and will continue to do so. A well-managed biofuel program in Canada could have a positive effect on climate change while also helping farmers. We refuse to simply give the Conservatives a blank cheque on this. We have asked that the bill be referred back to committee so that the members of the House can take a second look at it.

I have many constituents who have written to me about the bill, none of whom were supportive of the bill in its present form, which just does not have the controls to limit the reach of the bill. Here is an example. A constituent said:

I worked in Tropical Agricultural Research for 25 years in Asia and Africa. I find this new bill that gives a $2 billion subsidy to biofuel a crime. Following in George Bush's path will lead to a whole range of second and third generation problems. Once big business gets on this technology integrated in its system it will change the market so even more hunger and death will ensue.

I want to give members an idea of the range of comments that I have received. Another constituent said:

I was very disappointed to learn that Canada is now joining the 'food for fuel' club with its vote to mandate ethanol content in gasoline. Never mind the dubious environmental merits of such a move, with food prices spiraling out of reach of the world's poor, such a decision seems morally repugnant at best.

I'm not sure if there is an opportunity for this bill to be revisited.

However, there is an opportunity.

I will not go on, but the emails and the letters I have received are all of this type.

Despite these legitimate concerns, the NDP's proposed amendments to the bill were defeated. Therefore, I urge the members of the opposition in particular to reconsider and to think about our responsibility as parliamentarians to do no harm.

Our amendments would have served to introduce accountability and sustainability into the bill: two essential elements that are clearly lacking in Bill C-33 in its current state.

As it reads now, it will have several impacts. I would like to list some of them.

One of them was raised in one of the emails on food security. A number of governments, in conjunction with large multinational corporations, are pushing farmers to grow crops not for food but for fuel. That has had devastating effects. The Convention on Biological Diversity Alliance states in a recent media advisory:

Agrofuel plantations are already destroying the remaining rainforest reserves in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia pushing farming communities to abandon food production. Agrofuel production is irreversibly displacing agricultural biodiversity.

On this subject I would also like to quote Darrin Qualman of the National Farmers Union. He stated recently:

“There's a misconception that the world has a surplus of food--that we have food to burn. But the truth is, in seven of the last eight years, humans have consumed more food than farmers have produced”.

In that short time, the international supply of food has dropped from 115 days worth of food down to just 54 days worth. If we continue this trend for even one more year...food prices will skyrocket and incidents of food riots and rationing will become commonplace.

We have already seen the beginning of this.

Mr. Qualman goes on to say:

It's irresponsible and unrealistic to call for increased agricultural production from a system that is already unable to produce enough food for people, never mind cars. According to the experts, we need to concentrate on fixing what's broken rather than adding more stresses to an already overburdened system. It's critical that we halt the drop in food stocks and begin to reverse the hunger trend....

Mr. Qualman's words highlight the NDP's concerns about pushing ahead with this legislation without having thought it through.

It is impossible to speak to the bill without talking about the effects of agrifuels on biodiversity, because this bill as it stands ignores this potential problem.

Today, experts estimate that biodiversity is being lost at a rate estimated to be 100 times the rate of natural loss, and this despite the fact that in 2004 some 192 signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity agreed to reduce the rate of biological diversity loss by 2010.

Governments like ours have failed to act decisively to counter this loss. They continue to commit to biofuel quotas without regard for that diversity and the global food supply.

It is clear that increasing energy use, climate change and CO2 emissions from fossil fuels make switching to low carbon fuels a high priority. According to Science magazine of February 2008, biofuels are indeed “a potential low-carbon energy source”. This is why we do support the concept of biofuels, but the magazine article continues, saying, “but whether biofuels offer carbon savings depends on how they are produced”.

I would like to quote from one of the articles, which says:

Increasing energy use, climate change, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels make switching to low-carbon fuels a high priority. Biofuels are a potential low-carbon energy source, but whether biofuels offer carbon savings depends on how they are produced. Converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands to produce food crop–based biofuels in Brazil, Southeast Asia, and the United States creates a “biofuel carbon debt” by releasing 17 to 420 times more CO2 than the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions that these biofuels would provide by displacing fossil fuels.

This is why my colleagues proposed amendments to consider the impact on land changes, as well as the amendment that we are now proposing to refer the bill back to committee for a second look.

Scientists are calling on the international community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% over the next 40 to 50 years to reverse climate change.

Substituting biofuels for gasoline would indeed reduce greenhouse gas emissions because biofuels sequester carbon through the growth of feedstocks, but they also say that these analyses have failed to count the carbon emissions that occur as farmers worldwide respond to higher prices and convert forests and grasslands to new cropland to replace the grain diverted to biofuels.

Using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land use change, they found that corn based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% saving, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for many years to come.

The government's strategy to limit the effects of climate change is more than inadequate. In fact, with this bill it could cause new damage. As the Science magazine article described, if we allow centres of biodiversity such as rainforests, grasslands and other agricultural systems to be cleared to grow biofuels, biofuel production actually increases the global greenhouse gas emissions it is supposed to reduce.

Clearly, all biofuels are not equal. The way this is done is key. In an analysis of the Ontario biofuel options, a report recently concluded that solid biofuels offer the least expensive biofuel strategy for government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario. The report's major discovery is that government incentives applied to large scale solid biofuels would surpass even the most effective existing subsidies, such as those for wind power, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These findings suggest that a solid biofuels policy would be an effective and sustainable means to develop the Ontario and Canadian economies in that area. Such a program would support market opportunities for the forest industry and for farmers with marginal farmland.

It is clear that these are the areas that we think the government and members of committee should explore in giving the bill a second look, and they also should impose some restrictions to move away from the food for fuel approach.

There is another element that I wanted to speak to as well. That element is the increasing corporate control of the agrifuels industry. It is alarming to note that small scale food producers and harvesters are being eliminated through the centralization and control of the food chain, from seed to sewer, by large multinationals, including Monsanto, Cargill and others.

This has happened in the United States. It has been demonstrated through the use of commercial contracts, seed laws, patents and intellectual property rights, not to mention proprietary genetically modified seeds. These corporations are rapidly gaining a stranglehold on agricultural biodiversity and in the process are removing the livelihoods of food producers worldwide.

Therefore, it is important to move ahead with this kind of legislation, being attentive to meeting the needs of farmers but also protecting some of the key issues that I have raised.

I also want to raise an issue that has not been much discussed in this process. That is the government's mediocre program with respect to energy efficiency. This is an area where the government, if it were serious about really taking action to reduce the impacts of climate change, it would put in place more solid programs to help Canadians reduce their consumption of fossil fuels.

With the recent announcement by the B.C. government of its energy program, I was comparing it with what the federal government is offering at the moment to Canadians who use fossil fuels to heat their homes, for water and/or with all the electrical appliances we use. The incentives are so minimal.

This is where the federal government really could set some objectives to help Canadians retrofit their homes and actually make savings. At the moment, the potential for low income Canadians, for example, to retrofit their homes is so limited. This is precisely the group of Canadians that should receive some help.

I want to give a couple of comparisons that I noted in regard to the difference in the subsidies. In British Columbia, for example, on an air pump B.C. is offering something like $1,450, while the federal government is offering something like $400. It gives us an idea of the difference in the magnitude of interest that the federal government is putting into energy efficiency.

Indeed, one of the most important sources of potential energy savings is in the energy that is being wasted at the moment. A serious energy efficiency program would have multiple positive effects.

Let us consider the amount of energy that is being used. Recently British Columbia provided a breakdown of the way we use energy in our homes: 46% goes toward heating and 30% goes toward water. Let us think about these two sources we use in our homes and consider the kinds of programs. If, for example, the government decided that each year hundreds of thousands of homes would be retrofitted, ensuring that Canadians had the support they needed at all income levels, this would be a beginning to actually reduce the use of fossil fuels before jumping into programs that may or may not be effective. As an example, an efficient clothes washing machine or dishwasher uses less power and less water. Efficiency also provides a higher level of comfort, so it is not a question of sacrificing quality of life.

In conclusion, I would like to speak to a couple of issues which, in my opinion, are important to consider in this bill. The government has undermined and indeed has reversed the efforts of individuals and groups on environmental issues. The government's track record on environmental issues is shameful. That is the only way to put it. How then can we simply give it free rein on the question of biofuels? That is the question all opposition members should be asking themselves.

With the kind of record the government has, can we give it free rein on this question? Canadians have made it clear that we simply cannot. Any solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss must be complementary, not mutually exclusive and must not undermine each other. Above all, our guiding principle must be, as I said earlier, to do no harm because, as decision makers, we are responsible for the harm that we cause through actions, as well as the harm that we fail to prevent.

With this in mind, I urge all of my colleagues to reconsider the harm this bill could cause if we do not apply some provisions to control its reach.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Victoria raised many points. I listened to her closely, and I congratulate her for having touched on so many of the issues. However, there is one that I did not hear her mention. She most likely did not have the time to discuss it. It affects my region in particular, and many others in Quebec.

I am talking about the large number of farmers increasingly deciding to move toward what we call food sovereignty. I do not want my colleagues to worry—we are not talking about Quebec's sovereignty, but food sovereignty. This concept aims to make us increasingly independent in terms of food, to allow us to create our own supply and to have a safe supply at a better price. Obviously, in terms of the environment, this system aims to pollute as little as possible. If we buy products that come from closer to home, there is no transportation and so on.

If she would, I would like my colleague to talk about this difficult choice that producers may face—go along with the market economy, that is, choose to use their land in a way that keeps cars on the roads and adds to pollution, or focus on an economy of proximity by taking into account sustainability and feeding the people around them.

I would like to hear her ideas on this issue.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question. It is an important point.

I believe that I tried very quickly to make the point that it is possible to develop a biofuel program while also helping farmers. But my colleague has raised another point, which relates to the issue of food security and sustainable farming.

In that regard, the government could help even more. Earlier, I alluded to the energy programs that the government could set up to help ordinary Canadians who are trying to reduce their fuel consumption. However, I did not have time to discuss what we could call sustainable farming. I know that in my community, Victoria, more and more farmers are growing organic produce and increasingly selling it in smaller markets. This is becoming more profitable.

In my opinion, the government could help. It could offer concrete support that would promote local markets and regional development instead of continuing to help multinationals to the detriment of small farmers who make every effort possible. It must be repeated that this is not about blaming small-scale farmers who want to earn a living. Basically, that is the problem. They are being offered subsidies to make a lot more money instead of incentives for sustainable farming. That is what is inconsistent about the bill.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Victoria for pointing out in the context of her speech about biofuels and the valuable debate we need to have about demand side management generally. I was taken by some of her comments regarding the efficiency of demand side management versus the generation of new units of energy.

I believe I heard her say that a unit of energy harvested from the existing system by demand side management measures is exactly the same as one produced at a generating station or taken out of the ground as a unit of energy from fossil fuels, except for a number of important differences. One is that unit of energy harvested from the existing system is available at approximately one-third the cost of digging it out of the ground or producing it at a generating station. It is also available and online immediately. In other words, if we turn off a light switch as we leave a room, that unit of energy we have saved can be resold to another customer in the same instant instead of the seven year lag period it might take to build a new generating station or to dig another oil well.

Also, the demand side management measures that my colleague is recommending create as much as seven times the person years of job opportunities as those created by the harvesting of natural resources such as in the oil fields or building hydroelectric dams.

These points are rarely raised in the debate about alternate fuels. In the context of biofuels we should be looking at a holistic approach toward how we are going to answer our energy demand needs in the future with dwindling energy supplies.

I do not believe any province in this country or certainly the national government has done nearly enough to investigate the enormous potential in demand side management of our precious energy stocks and resources. I think it would be helpful to those MPs listening today if my colleague expanded on the need and importance of demand side management and energy retrofitting.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the largest pools of potential energy is that which is wasted through inefficient use. My colleague raised an excellent point, which I did not get an opportunity to cover, about the number of jobs that could be created from an advanced, solid energy retrofit program for homes and buildings, both government and commercial buildings. If we set a target of 200,000 homes per year, and it could be any number, we would begin to see some real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

On the issue of wasting energy, I heard about standby power or vampire power. The growing number of appliances contributes to this phenomenon. Today's average home contains more than 20 appliances, including computers, stereos and other equipment. Even in standby mode these appliances use more than 10% of the electricity in our homes. The government could take action to prevent this kind of waste, as could Canadians themselves. The government could set higher standards, which would be a good start. It could also provide greater incentives and greater help to Canadians to buy higher efficiency appliances.

The Prime Minister recently said that nothing could be done to help Canadians with soaring gas and heating oil prices, but he is wrong. Not only could the government take action to help Canadians reduce their consumption, but jobs would be created which would help our flagging economy.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I will support this NDP amendment, which I feel is very important. Moreover, I invite my colleagues to support this amendment so that the committee can examine this whole issue in greater detail.

Since the debate began, we have heard numerous opinions that have been more or less well documented, more or less scientific, more or less emotional. I myself have a number of opinions. I believe that for the sake of the people we represent, it is important that each and every one of us in this House consider the advisability of using a natural resource, a raw material as precious as our most beautiful farmland.

I am thinking of Quebec, among other places. I am familiar with the Montérégie area, for example, where corn grows perfectly and in huge quantities. Even in my region, the Lower St. Lawrence, we have corn. We can think about wheat in the west.

We are using our beautiful land to produce something that we call a biofuel or agrofuel to ease our consciences. It will give us a clear conscience, because with 5% or 2% in our tank, we will feel as though we are helping to save the environment. In my opinion, we should not kid ourselves.

First, as I just said, we are using a precious resource, precious materials, namely our land. I will digress for a moment. Yesterday, I listened as a Conservative member who had gotten upset said he hoped we would never get to the stage in this House where we would tell farmers what they can and cannot do. I believe that in 2008, we should be telling them what they can and cannot do, because the land belongs to all of us. More importantly, it belongs to future generations, and we have to be responsible stewards. When we look at agriculture regulations—I will talk about Quebec, because I know the regulations in Quebec—we see that more and more, they are being imposed with good reason on our farmers so that they will keep environmental sustainability in mind as they farm. In my opinion, we are giving them a responsibility.

They have been landowners for decades, perhaps centuries, but they are responsible for this wonderful piece of land. They have been given something very valuable on behalf of a community. Just because they are landowners does not mean that they can do whatever they want, just as a city dweller, an owner of the smallest piece of land with the smallest home, cannot do whatever he or she wants on land in the middle of a city. We have a responsibility in both rural and urban areas. To get back to the point, this greatly concerns me, along with a number of my constituents, because it is important to also consider the process used.

This is evident in the case of the oil sands. All of the contaminated water must be stored somewhere, while it waits to be decontaminated. We hope that it will not contaminate our streams, our lakes, our rivers, and that there will not be any human errors that could lead to spills in some areas, which would be a concern. That would be an environmental nightmare. We should remember that this has happened in the oceans, on the shores and the coasts. These things can happen.

The water needed for this process is another very precious natural resource which is ultimately being used so that we can have a clear conscience and produce biofuels, so-called because they come from a biological source. Most people think that because of this name, the product must be good, since it is bio. I think we need to go beyond that.

There is some irony in using some of our most precious natural resources literally to run our cars and to ease our consciences.

All of us, as citizens, elected members of this House and representatives of the public, have the responsibility to dig deeper and ask questions. What does a government, of any political stripe, have to do to ensure that the environment is truly taken into account? What does a government have to do to help us reduce our dependence on oil sooner rather than later? There is no miraculous solution, but if we all do our part, what methods could we use to run our vehicles on sources of energy that produce less and less pollution? We will definitely continue to drive, but we have to become far less dependent on petroleum, whether it has ethanol additives or not. This is very important.

Earlier, when I asked the hon. member for Victoria a question, I raised a point that is important to me; that is, how farmers use their resources and the painful choice our producers are faced with. On one hand, they are being told they will be encouraged and even subsidized, so that they can contribute to this economy. The epitome of a market economy has to be asking farmers to produce additives for our gasoline instead of food for human consumption. In fact, why would environmentally conscious farmers simply continue to produce food for human consumption, and punish themselves financially by choosing not to produce biofuels?

That is the difficult choice they are faced with. On one hand, they are told what they can do to produce “natural” additives for gasoline, in order to allow us to drive more and to ease our conscience, as I was saying earlier. On the other hand, a number of producers are currently taking this a step further and are taking action to achieve food sovereignty. It is increasingly clear that this is the best route for the environment and for food security.

Of course I always talk about what I know best: Quebec. As everyone knows, we have extraordinary measures in effect for food crops. We have a traceability system for our animals as well as codes for our produce, for example. Similar systems likely exist elsewhere, as well. When people buy their food from local producers, they know that for the most part they are getting quality products at a reasonable price.

We are faced, however, with a difficult decision. Would producers rather produce biofuels, because they are more lucrative, or provide good food for people? If they do the latter, will the population return the favour? As we say where I come from, in the Lower St. Lawrence, we are real happy to be able to buy potatoes, carrots and other summer produce. We can stock up on them when buying in our own region, just a few kilometres from home. Many people do it. The same is true for berries. People preserve them, make jam out of them and so on. It is very ecological and, by doing so, we allow our producers to live well and meet their needs. Like everyone else, they have every right to live well and provide for their families.

On the other hand, producers must make a difficult decision. Should they not bother because their motto, like everyone else's today, would be to make money when we can? Should they convert a portion of their land to biofuel production?

This issue is of great interest to us all, and for good reason. We have to keep talking about it. We cannot simply dismiss this person as being completely unrealistic. People say that that is what things have come to with the global economy, and that is what has to be done. But I do not think that we need to get carried away with wild imaginings and accusations against everyone. We have to be responsible. We have to look at the consequences of this.

When it comes to biofuels, there is no doubt that in addition to speculation, it has become profitable for many people around the world to use their agricultural land for purposes other than growing food, for the least environmentally friendly purposes possible to meet a need and, as I was saying earlier, to make things, such as our cars, go.

Somebody was talking about China yesterday. People who visit China can see that, unfortunately, the Chinese are making all the same mistakes we made decades ago. Instead of using new technologies, they are doing exactly as we have done. Why not use fossil fuels as long as they are available? Why not pollute for as long as possible?

They are planning to shield the city for the Olympic Games so that the athletes can perform. After that, pollution will resume once again. Unfortunately, they are making the same mistakes we did as though they had inherited our ways. That is a real shame.

In Quebec, we have other ways of doing things that do not involve doing what big Canadian and multi-national corporations want us to do. I think the government has a responsibility. I will always think that. It is responsible for the common good and for redistributing wealth. In this case, as in others, it must play its part. The population expects nothing less from a government of any political stripe that calls itself accountable.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for her participation in the debate. I know she has been paying close attention to it over a number of days. I know it is something that is very important to her and to her constituents.

I think she was very correct in stressing the whole understanding of food sovereignty. I think it is something that Canadians and the people of Quebec are becoming much more aware of. For a number of us who are city dwellers and who do not have much of a relationship to the production of food in Canada, it seems to be something that miraculously appears at our supermarkets.

I think through issues related to food sovereignty and certainly the growing debate around biofuels that all Canadians are developing a new appreciation for the production of food and what that really means in the grand scheme of things. I think it is very important.

I remember a few years ago when farmers were demonstrating on the Hill about the income crisis that they were suffering through and one of their slogans was “farmers feed cities”. That is certainly a concept we do not want to lose track of in this whole debate on biofuels.

I wonder if she might expand a little more about how that appreciation of food sovereignty, of the importance of locally grown food is part of this debate, but also the larger debate about the need to have a greater appreciation for what is produced locally by our farmers.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and comments.

Not just rural residents but city dwellers also are gaining a greater appreciation of this fact. Furthermore, there are many ways to learn about this issue and a multitude of articles are written on the subject every week.

One concept in particular has led to much greater awareness among citizens. I am referring to our environmental footprint. There are sites, especially on the Internet, where we can calculate our environmental footprint and determine the amount of pollution created by our daily individual activities and our work. We are responsible for the pollution we create. Obviously this encourages us to make changes.

City dwellers are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that food does not miraculously appear on the table. The member used the right expression. More and more, people read the labels when grocery shopping to determine where the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, parsnips and other food comes from. That is a growing trend where I come from.

There are cities in eastern Quebec and not just small, very rural municipalities. People are asking whether the food is local or if it comes from very far away, from abroad. They know that the produce leaves an environmental footprint because transportation and other factors cause pollution.

In my opinion, it is our responsibility to continue to raise awareness so that citizens have a better understanding of the issue. That is done through their representatives. It is one of our responsibilities to continue this work and to do it well. I have no doubt that the hon. member who asked the question does this very well.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue on the same train of thought. Food security is an issue that is very important to me.

I wonder if the hon. member could explain what measures the government could take to provide additional help to farmers to better meet this emerging yet recognized need, namely, food security. That is, crops must be grown in a sustainable manner, instead of encouraging the large multinationals.

I would like to hear the member's comments on this.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Victoria. I think the answer can be found in her question.

The government must take action to really promote food security. This is done through regulations. Of course, my colleagues in this House will not be surprised to hear me say that this must be done while respecting provincial jurisdictions, since Quebec already has regulations in place. We have a department, the ministry of agriculture, fisheries and agri-food, as well as an agricultural producers union, which is made up of several branches and covers various types of products.

We must have regulations at a level that is as close as possible to the farmer. We must work together, in partnership, to make our products as safe as possible and to encourage new methods, something that is done regularly.

When it is within its prerogative and its jurisdiction, the federal government must take action through subsidies and other means in order to allow our producers to innovate, to use the best methods that are the least polluting and as safe and secure as possible.

As I said earlier, when food is produced and harvested as close as possible to the people who consume it, people can ask the producer directly, at the market, for example, what kind of pesticides, insecticides or other products were used on the food. Thus, people know what is in the food they eat. It is all right in front of them. The closer it is to them, the more responsible people become and the more likely they are to ask questions, and rightfully so.

To begin with, encouraging people to assume more responsibility will ensure food security. Of course, government regulations must also be obeyed and all jurisdictions must be respected.