Mr. Speaker, I continue my speech by going over, one more time, the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, which, on the issue of Bill C-53 on pesticides, recommended among other things that there be a transparent and open process in order to build the public's trust in pest management regulations.
It also recommended that the new legislation make it a condition of registration that applicants carry out ongoing monitoring after registration.
It recommended that existing pesticides be re-evaluated.
It also recommended that adequate independent funding be provided under the legislation. Indeed, because of the shortfalls in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 budgets, the agency responsible for monitoring and registering the products has delayed its re-evaluation program of existing pesticides, because it ran out of money. Of course, this was a very legitimate request by the committee.
It also recommended that the government immediately establish a research program on pesticides that is specific to child health and that it ensure adequate funding.
Why child health? Our children are those who are the most likely to develop health problems that may be caused by pesticides because we continue to tell them to play outside. They roll in the grass.
We want them to play, to be vigilant and to be active. Of course, they take advantage of nice lawns and nice landscapes. They have a lot of fun, but this puts them in direct contact with pesticides that are sprayed not only on lawns, but also on field crops.
Since these pesticides are sprayed, winds can carry them to the lawns of people who do not use pesticides. Pesticides sprayed on essentially agricultural areas may end up on lawns; it is possible.
Of course, it was a very legitimate request on the part of the committee to ask that there be a research program on pesticides that is specific to child health.
The committee also recommended that incentives be provided for organic agriculture, that chemical pesticides be banned and replaced with natural or organic fertilizers, which is totally normal.
When we talk about incentives, we mean money. It takes money to develop organic alternatives to chemical pesticides and put them on the market. Therefore, investment in research is necessary. Incentives are also required to encourage farmers to use natural or organic pesticides.
The report also recommended that the government develop a policy on organic farming. Such a policy should include tax incentives, an interim support program for the transition period, and technical support for farmers.
Obviously, there is nothing in the bill before us in terms of tax incentives or other forms of incentives in favour of organic farming. There is no money. This is typical of what we have been seeing from this government. It proposes nice policies and sets nice priorities but it does not invest the money required to achieve our objectives and our ideals.
Again, it can never be said often enough. I support my colleagues who took part in the work of the committee and who had the opportunity to propose amendments. The amendments put forward by the Bloc Quebecois were rejected because we were asking for real incentives for the development of organic farming, with organic and natural pesticides. We wanted tax credits and other incentives for farmers.
Nearly 60% of my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, located along the Ottawa River and the Lac des Deux-Montagnes, is made up of farmland. It must be noted that in the Mirabel area, a beautiful area that all my colleagues in the House should visit this summer, we have witnessed one of the largest migration since the deportation of the Acadians, with the Mirabel expropriations.
At the time they had announced 90,000 acres. Of course retrocession occurred in 1985. From that year on the voracious appetite and the requirements of the federal government have been reduced considerably. No later than yesterday, we learned--through documents that were released from the archives under a federal government's act requiring that these documents be released after a 30 years period--that Cabinet already knew in January 1971 that 22,000 acres more than needed had been expropriated.
Moreover, some 1,700 people were about to or had been displaced. In 1971, the government was already aware of that. Our current Prime Minister, who was then Minister of Indian Affairs, was part of the Cabinet involved in this decision. It was decided to go ahead with the purchase of these 22,000 acres anyhow because the process had been set in motion and the government did not want to be sued by the public. The fact remains that at the time it already knew that 22, 000 acres more than needed had been expropriated and that 1,700 people were going to have to move, to be deported in fact.
Some of them were able to get their land back starting in 1985. The fact remains that for 14 or 15 years they were victims of a terrible expropriation and their land was ruined. As a result field crops in the Mirabel area and large farms were broken up. Later land and properties were rented out. New farmers came in. Today we have a wide range of farmers.
This gives you an idea of the riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel where farms are now smaller but just as profitable and increasingly more into organic farming. They use less and less GMOs. All they want is to practice organic farming. We support labelling to be able to say that indeed we sell natural and organic products.
I am proud today to speak on behalf of the farmers in my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. They have fine and economically viable farms. These farms are modern, with a diversified production. More and more, farmers are turning to organic farming and natural foods with a much better yield. More and more consumers, especially in Quebec, are interested in organic food. There is good reason for the Quebec government's wanting to ratify the Kyoto protocol. This is what is wanted by the people of Quebec, who are concerned with environmental balance. This is a societal choice by Quebecers.
Once again, it is for good reason that the municipality of Hudson went to the appeal court and fought for its right to ban the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. In Quebec, this is a societal choice. Quebecers care about the environment. That is their choice as a society.
Today, I am proud to stand up for Quebecers and tell the Liberal government that, once more, this bill is too little and too late. The government is not doing enough. As usual, there is no money. But the scandals that have been unfolding in the last few weeks have shown that there is always money for friends of the government and contributions to the Liberal Party. There is always plenty of money for that.
In this bill, we should have told our farmers that if they want to use natural and organic pesticides, we will help them with tax credits, incentives and research money. But there is none of that in the bill.
Once again the people of Quebec made a collective choice, which is not reflected in this bill. Quebec is one step ahead of the rest of Canada, and this bill is holding us back. Our farmers would be ready to receive funds and develop natural fertilizer and organic farming. However, the federal government has chosen not to go that far. Once again, a large part of Canada, Quebec, which represents 25% of the country's population, is being penalized by this bill. This legislation does not go far enough and does not meet the expectations of the people of Quebec.
This is always hard to accept. The fact remains that Quebecers pay 25% of all the income tax collected by Canada. We pay our share in this Canadian system, which is far more profitable for the federal government. Under the Constitution, the federal government is not accountable to anyone for its spending. The federal level does not take care of health, education and transportation.
We have seen what happens; we are trying to get infrastructure programs to help provincial governments reach their goals and give our constituents from all over Quebec a good road system. they made promises, but there are no funds here at the federal level.
Few people blame the federal government because it always acts like a rescuer in all these situations. The terrible part about how Canada is organized is that the federal government has no responsibility whatsoever regarding the true problems of the people.
The federal government is not responsible for health, education, transportation and agriculture. So the federal government passes legislation—on pesticides, in this case—but does not invest money to help producers convert to organic agriculture, to the use of natural or biological pesticides, which, like everything else, always cost more. In the early stages, it means more research.
But no. The federal government is involved with big business, major pesticide sellers, major chemical companies that go and get their resources throughout the world and that sometimes make people work for paltry salaries, to get a better return on their operations and to sell their products here to our producers.
They are often products that are processed or made in countries where these companies use children, cheap labour and women. They take advantage of the situation and, basically, exploit people in other countries to sell to us chemical products that are also harmful to our health.
The amendments put forward by the Bloc Quebecois were very realistic. Finally, we want the government to be able to provide funding through this legislation. I repeat, I am pleased to repeat the standing committee's recommendations, which are very realistic: that the government develop a policy on organic farming. Such a policy should include tax incentives, a transitional income support plan and technical support for farmers.
It is simple. This simply means that farmers using chemical products and pesticides will have to incur costs in order to convert to natural and biological pesticides. They may have to incur losses. A certain balance might not have been reached. Let us compensate those farmers and we will see that things will go well.
We will start a green revolution, as Quebecers want. It is in the image of Quebec. It would be very beneficial for the rest of Canada if they converted to the image Quebec is now projecting, that is being more focused on the environment and the protection of our children.
Finally, everything we do and every decision we make, I hope we are doing for our children and our children's children. We are doing it for our posterity not for ourselves. I hope we will have a little vision.
This is a bill introduced by the federal Liberals who lack vision and will leave nothing to our children and our children's children.