National Local Food Day Act

An Act to establish a National Local Food Day

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.


Wayne Stetski  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Report stage (Senate), as of May 30, 2019
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment designates the Friday before Thanksgiving Day in each and every year as “National Local Food Day”.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Oct. 24, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-281, An Act to establish a National Local Food Day
May 30, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-281, An Act to establish a National Local Food Day

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 1st, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
See context


Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

moved that Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House this evening for the first hour of debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day.

It is easy to love Bill C-281. I tabled this bill almost two years ago, and it has been a project filled with passion for me and my team ever since. Bill C-281 would designate the Friday before Thanksgiving each year as national local food day.

We all know that food matters, from farm to factory to fork. My history, like that of many members of this House, has its roots in local food. My Ukrainian father George's side of the family had their Canadian start as Saskatchewan farmers in the Yorkton area. My first paid employment as a youth was picking rocks and baling hay for farmers when we lived in Beechy, Saskatchewan.

On my Norwegian mother Solveig's side of the family, my grandfather and my uncles built a boat in The Pas, Manitoba, and put it on the Muskeg Express train to Churchill, becoming the first Europeans to harvest fish commercially in Hudson Bay.

Local food is truly a part of my heritage, and I know that is also true for many members serving in the House of Commons today. According to Statistics Canada, agriculture contributed $111.9 billion and accounted for 6.7% of Canada's GDP in 2016.

The agriculture and agrifood sector as a whole provides one in eight Canadian jobs, employing 2.3 million people. A little known fact is that the food and beverage processing industry is one of the largest manufacturing industries in Canada, and it is Canada's largest manufacturing employer.

Food is at the heart of our homes, our communities, and our economy. Ensuring that Canadians have access to healthy, affordable food and a sustainable food system are national priorities. Supporting our local food systems is essential to achieving these goals.

A 2015 lpsos Reid poll found that 83% of Canadians think it is important to know where their food comes from. The Conference Board of Canada found that 77% of Canadian consumers think locally produced is important when making their purchasing decisions.

It is clear that a national local food day is something everyone can get behind. National local food day would provide an annual opportunity for Canadians to celebrate the diversity of local food across the country, while also providing an opportunity to draw attention to the very real challenges many face in accessing healthy, affordable food close to home.

British Columbians are proud of their local food systems, from farmers and ranchers, to fishers and hunters, to winemakers and craft brewers, to artisans and restaurateurs.

According to the 2016 agriculture census, small farms now comprise 40% of the total farms in British Columbia, more than twice the national average. The total gross farm receipts in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia exceeded $65 million in 2016 alone.

Across the country, one in eight Canadian farm operators uses direct marketing to sell his or her products to Canadians, through farm gate sales and stands, farmers' markets, community-supported agriculture initiatives, and other methods. It has been estimated that farmers' markets contribute over $3 billion annually to the Canadian economy.

The British Columbia Association of Farmers' Markets represents more than 145 markets across the province. A study it conducted in partnership with the University of Northern British Columbia found that farmers' markets contributed $170.5 million to B.C.'s economy in 2012 alone. The association estimates that most markets are started by community members wanting to increase access to fresh, seasonal produce in their area.

Kootenay—Columbia is home to many farmers' markets spread throughout the riding: in Cranbrook and Creston, Nelson and Revelstoke, Salmo and Kaslo, lnvermere and Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford, Golden and Baynes Lake. Over the past two years, I have visited almost every one of these markets, and I am always struck by the passion our local producers and artisans have for the work that they do and, of course, by how delicious the food is.

From the dairy farms and orchards of Creston, to the Fernie Cattle Company steak house, to delicious coffee and craft beer everywhere, we really are spoiled.

My lnstagram feed is full of pictures from my riding of people who got out and enjoyed the sunny spring weather that has finally come to our great nation. That sunny weather has me thinking about Creston Valley asparagus.

I am looking forward to our next break week so I can stop by Sutcliffe Farms and watch the asparagus grow. I am not kidding: when the weather is hot in the spring, Creston Valley asparagus can grow up to one inch an hour. I know that when I speak of my riding, I often make reference to the snow-capped peaks of the Selkirk, Purcell, and Rocky mountains and speak of our world-class skiing and golfing, so members may be surprised to learn that the Creston Valley grows virtually every variety of vegetable, wine grapes, peaches, and even some citrus fruit. These local products are the basis for most of the meals served at the Farm Fresh Café in the Savoy Hotel in Nelson.

It is hard to say “café” and “Nelson” in the same sentence without conjuring up images of the beautiful Oso Negro Café, where people happily line up out the door to socialize, do their business, and drink some of the best locally roasted coffee anywhere. I say “some of the best” because Kootenay—Columbia is home to more than a dozen coffee roasters, including the Kootenay Roasting Company in Cranbrook, Stoke Roasted Coffee in Revelstoke, Steam Donkey Coffee in Kimberley, Kaslo's Bean Roasting in Kaslo, Zaltana Coffee Roasters in the Elk Valley, Rooftop Coffee Roasters in Fernie, Kootenay Coffee Company in Nelson, Bean Bag Coffee Roasters in Golden, Beanpod Chocolate Gelato and Coffee in Fernie, Stolen Church Coffee Company in Invermere, and of course Kicking Horse Coffee.

Kicking Horse Coffee is one of the largest employers in the town of Invermere. Its products are available across North America, and its annual sales are in the tens of millions of dollars. I had the pleasure of sharing a lunch with the CEO of Kicking Horse, Elana Rosenfeld, a few months ago. Elana is one of those bosses who goes to work every day with a smile on her face because she is passionate about her product, cares deeply about her employees, and is committed to the culture and community that helped shape her. Kicking Horse has been named a top-15 best workplace in Canada three times by the global research firm Great Place to Work. This year, Kicking Horse earned the top spot as 2018's best workplace in Canada for businesses with 100 to 1,000 employees and was also recognized as a best workplace for women and a best workplace for inclusion. We can buy Kicking Horse's delicious fair-trade and organic coffee at grocery stores across the country, including right here in Ottawa. I highly recommend that my colleagues pick up a bag.

Just down the highway from Kicking Horse Coffee is Hopkins Harvest in Windermere, a business started out of the back of a truck by Fred and Shelley Hopkins in 1995. It has since grown to what I would describe as one of the world's best roadside fruit and vegetable stands. It is now in a year-round market building, where customers can pick up freshly smoked wings or amazing pepperoni, in addition to produce sourced from local and regional growers. These days, Fred and Shelley's daughter Kerstan and her partner Matthew Larsen have expanded the business to include The Hot Spot, where customers can order delicious artisan pizza baked in a wood-fired oven and topped with locally produced ingredients, a great complement to local craft beer from lnvermere's Arrowhead Brewing Company. Also, they have gone green with their energy consumption. The roof of their store is covered in solar panels.

Speaking of craft beer, in Kootenay—Columbia, like most of B.C., we are spoiled when it comes to beer crafted specifically for local tastes. Torchlight, Backroads, Nelson, Fisher Peak, Over Time, Fernie, Whitetooth, and Angry Hen are all local breweries serving local restaurants and supporting local families.

Craft liquor is also a growing industry, led by producers like Bohemian Spirits in Kimberley and Pommier Ranch Meadery from Premier Lake.

I know I am making some members hungry and thirsty, so I will move on, but before I do, I also want give a quick shout-out to the 2017 Canadian craft brewery of the year, Mt. Begbie Brewing in Revelstoke, founded by Bart and Tracey Larson. Bart has a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, but, as he says, he prefers to make beer, not war, in Revelstoke. I hope he continues to do so for many years to come.

It is clear that along with connecting Canadians to those that grow and produce their food, our local food systems make important social contributions to our communities.

In my riding, the Revelstoke farmers' market has partnered with Revelstoke Community Connections on a food recovery program that has diverted tens of thousands of pounds of food out of the landfill and into the hands of the community's vulnerable citizens. Earlier this month, the Cranbrook Farmer's Market was honoured as the non-profit of the year by the local chamber of commerce at its business excellence awards.

The Cranbrook Food Action committee is a coalition of committed individuals and local organizations. Their work over the last 14 years has included organizing community kitchens, hosting community education events and workshops, laying the groundwork for the formation of the Cranbrook Farmer's Market, community food mapping, and creating the public produce garden at Eric MacKinnon Park, where everyone is welcome to seed, weed, and harvest food.

The Golden Food Bank serves more than 100 families every month, including through a food bank garden, where volunteers grow fresh, local produce for the food bank's clients. They have also participated in local school breakfast and food recovery programs. On Saturday, May 12, the Golden Food Bank is hosting a Fill-a-Raft food drive and BBQ, where community members will help the food bank fill a whitewater raft with food donations. Participants will be entered to win a rafting trip for two with the Glacier Raft Company. This is a wonderful example of a local community coming together to support a local food system that works for everyone.

Creston & District fields forward initiative is a partnership working to support local food and farming in communities from Yahk to Yaqan Nukiy to Riondel. Creston is also home to some amazing dairy farms, dairy products, cheeses, and wineries.

Fields forward's mission is to foster “a vibrant productive local agri-food system that builds genuine community wealth by supporting and sustaining the community's environmental, indigenous, social, cultural, economic and aesthetic values.” This collaborative network, made up of more than 80 producers, organizations, businesses, and local government, is currently piloting an important food venture collaborative, which will bring together private, public, and community partners to identify emerging market opportunities and to address shared agri-food infrastructure needs. Their mobile fruit and vegetable press project has been estimated to contribute almost $775,000 per year to the local economy.

The Conference Board of Canada has said that, “Local food can be a way for firms to illustrate their commitment to local communities and farmers”. Across this country, restaurants and food festivals have made this kind of commitment to local producers and communities by putting the focus on locally grown and locally produced products, and their success continues to grow.

In my riding, the West Kootenay EcoSociety promotes sustainable food systems through the Nelson Garden Festival and a number of community market events, including Nelson MarketFest.

In Revelstoke, the Local Food Initiative society hosts a variety of community events and education programs, including the Incredible Edible Film Festival, seed sales, local food dinners, youth food camps, and others, drawing attention and bringing a fresh perspective to a variety of food issues.

These are just a few examples of what it can look like when communities come together to support local food systems.

Local food looks different across all regions of this vast country, but at its core, food brings us together. It is, after all, more than a commodity. It is an essential human need, and it is at the centre of our culture and our communities.

I say to my colleagues that this is an important opportunity to celebrate what local food looks like to them, their communities, and their constituents. I invite my colleagues to get their constituents involved using #celebratelocalfood or #CélébronslAlimentationLocale from coast to coast to coast. Let us recognize the hard work of local producers and harvesters, food manufacturers, farmers' markets, and others. Let us work together to make national local food day a reality.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 1st, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, earlier today I had the opportunity to talk about how important our farmers are to Canada, as an industry, feeding the world and providing world-class food products of all kinds, all backgrounds. It is important for us to recognize the efforts and what we produce in Canada. It is such a great variety.

We see the important role our farmers are playing, but it is also important to recognize those who are processing food products, everything from the handling of the commodity to ultimately producing some of the best products. In my riding, one can get fresh perogies, and everything from Canadian commodities to all sorts of wonderful fish products.

I wonder if my colleague could provide his thoughts in regard to processing. The motion before us is really an acknowledgement of an industry that is so critical to our country.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 1st, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
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Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the floor had me at perogies, based on my Ukrainian heritage.

Agriculture, and local agriculture in particular, is essential for health across the country, but it is also essential for the economy. As I mentioned earlier, in 2016 agriculture contributed $111.9 billion to the economy and accounted for 6.7% of Canada's GDP. The agriculture and agrifood sector as a whole provides one in eight Canadian jobs, employing 2.3 million people. It is a major industry in Canada, essential to our economy.

What I really like about Bill C-281 is that it provides the opportunity for all members of the House to celebrate what happens in their own ridings every day and to celebrate their local food producers.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 1st, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
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Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia for introducing this very timely bill. I heard that there is a lot of turkey farming in my colleague's riding. Maybe that is why he chose the Friday before Thanksgiving to be national local food day. Like all members in the House, he probably wanted to promote Canadian local food and invite all Canadians to feast on turkeys from his riding in British Columbia.

Could the hon. member provide a bit more detail on his definition of local? As I was just saying, a turkey raised in British Columbia is Canadian. It is therefore local to us. However, does his bill have a more specific definition of the word “local” as applied to food?

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 1st, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
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Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, to me, local food is just that. It is whatever happens in a particular riding.

I will use turkeys as an example. When I was regional manager with the Ministry of the Environment, we introduced a wild turkey season for hunting in my riding. That contributed about a million dollars to the economy in my region, because, as every hunter knows, when a new species shows up, hunters have to go out and buy a new gun, a new outfit, and an ATV.

Local food can be wild. Hunting and fishing are very big in my riding. Local food on the coast is more about the ocean and the things that can be found there. In the Prairies, there are a number of different crops, such as wheat, peas, and other products.

What I like about local food and celebrating local food day is that it is relevant to every member of Parliament, every senator, and every Canadian in terms of its importance.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 1st, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
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La Prairie Québec


Jean-Claude Poissant LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia for introducing this bill for our farmers.

More and more consumers now want to know where their food comes from. They want to reconnect with the agricultural sector and support their local economy. At the same time, the agriculture and agrifood sector has a lot to gain from strengthening its relationship with its clients. Agriculture and agrifood businesses can get a better idea of what consumers need and adapt accordingly by establishing direct contact with them.

I think many people would be surprised to see all the progress that has been made on Canadian farms over the past few years. Gone are the days of pitchforks and horse-drawn ploughs.

Farmers now drive GPS-guided tractors that will soon be self-driving. Technology has opened up a whole new world to the agriculture and agrifood sector. Precision farming now allows farmers to adjust inputs such as water and fertilizer to meet the specific needs of each individual plant. It is that accurate.

Not only do these advances save farmers money, but they also ease the pressure on the environment by reducing the amount of inputs. Farmers now use drones to detect pests, pinpoint nutrient deficiencies in crops, and locate weeds. These technologies have infinite possibilities.

Farms have also made considerable progress in the area of animal health and food safety. Many farms now apply strict biosecurity measures. For example, hog farms have a shower-in/shower-out protocol to protect the animals' health.

Responsible use of animal health products is another way producers protect animals' health and ensure food safety. Producers take food safety seriously because it is the key to their success. Their clients, whether they are local or international consumers, must be certain that Canadian agriculture and agrifood products pose absolutely no risk.

All these changes make it possible for Canadians to be better informed than ever about where their food comes from. Today's average consumer no longer has a connection to the land. That is why agricultural awareness and the consumer confidence it inspires are so important.

Locally produced food plays a critical role in promoting agriculture. An initiative like national local food day could help strengthen ties between consumers and food producers. That is why agricultural awareness and public confidence are key elements of the new Canadian agricultural partnership. The partnership, which came into effect on April 1, 2018, includes a $3-billion federal-provincial-territorial investment that will help the sector innovate, grow, and prosper. It is the first framework agreement to emphasize the critical importance of maintaining public confidence in our food system. The partnership recognizes that governments and industry must work together to ensure that Canadian and foreign consumers have confidence in Canada's agriculture and agrifood products.

Our producers and processors have earned and deserve consumers' confidence. With this partnership, our government will be supporting efforts to maintain public confidence and increase awareness of food and agricultural practices. The partnership also includes a new focus on agricultural inclusiveness to foster diversity in this sector. The partnership will break down barriers for people with disabilities, women, indigenous communities, and youth to help them take on leadership roles in agriculture.

The Canadian agricultural partnership is also designed to meet the needs of producers of a wide variety of products in order to ensure that all businesses benefit from these investments, no matter their size. Just like our country, the more diversified the sector is, the more prosperous it will be. That includes the dynamic sector of organic products. We support the organic farming industry because it is one of the many farming systems meeting the needs of Canadian consumers. Today, the market for certified organic products in Canada is over $5 billion, making Canada one of the largest markets for organics in the world, and demand for these products continues to grow.

According to the industry, two out of three Canadian consumers buy organic products. That is a 10% increase over last year. According to Statistics Canada, the number of organic farms in Canada has increased by two-thirds over the past 15 years. In addition to this impressive domestic growth, Canadian organic exports are worth more than half a billion dollars annually.

Our government is proud to support the organic sector, which is good for the agricultural industry and for our economy. Over the past two and a half years, our government has invested nearly $20 million to support the organic sector through new technology, new markets, green jobs for young people, and research.

On January 26, 2018, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced an investment of over $400,000 to keep Canada's organic industry strong and growing. Most of the funding, $250,000, will be used to help Canada's organic industry complete the mandatory review of the Canadian organic standards.

This government investment will help the industry ensure that consumers know that, when they are buying Canadian products, they are buying the best products available. Canadians will know that they are buying certified organic products of Canada that meet a strict set of standards.

In closing, I would like to quote from one of the first debates on agriculture in the House. In 1884, the member for Rouville, Quebec, spoke on behalf of Canadian farmers. Both our country and our country's agricultural industry were still very young at that time. The member said that agriculture was the basis of Canada's prosperity.

Over 130 years later, new technology and new practices have revolutionized the agricultural industry and increased its productivity and sustainability, but these words are just as relevant today. Farmers create jobs and stimulate growth in every community across the country.

I would like to invite all Canadians to thank a farmer, to visit a farm, and to talk to a farmer about how food gets from farm to table. There is no better way to learn about the food we eat than by talking to the person who grows it.

I would like to once again thank the member for Kootenay—Columbia for introducing this bill.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 1st, 2018 / 6:40 p.m.
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Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my turn to rise and say to my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia that his idea to designate the Friday before Thanksgiving each year as national local food day is an excellent one. I am quite certain that each and every one of us in the House has a very personal story to tell about food, whether it be local or from somewhere else. When we talk about local food production, we are talking about people in our everyday lives. We are talking about the restaurant owners who feed us when we are visiting our ridings. We are talking about the crops growing in rows that we drive by as we visit our ridings. Local food is about much more than just what we eat; it is about how we live in the regions.

As I mentioned to my colleague in a previous question, the term “local” is very broad. We can eat “Canadian” and, since Canada is such a huge country, local food can come from a long way away. I assume my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia means « very » local, in other words, close to home, from a field that he can drive to in his car and then go to a brewery and taste a local beer. He mentioned the many local breweries in his riding. Let us assume we are talking about very local food, then. I imagine that is his meaning.

Agriculture is an excellent way to stimulate not only our appetite, but also the regional economy. It has a positive impact on population growth, the vitality of our towns, and the businesses and services in each of our regions.

Agriculture is the main source of income for thousands of people in Mégantic—L'Érable. I am proud of the people who devote their lives to the quest for innovative ideas about agricultural production and are passionate about finding ways of getting their products onto local people's plates. Ninety-six percent of the RCM of L'Érable is agricultural land. In 2017, the RCM decided to make the most of unused agricultural land that major producers have no interest in farming. One thing the RCM did was let young people who are interested in agriculture but who do not necessarily want to pursue it as a career use the land for new kinds of unconventional farming and livestock operations. That aligns very well with the national day the member for Kootenay—Columbia wants to celebrate each year. It is the same idea.

I did some research to prepare for this speech on national local food day. I happened to come across an article on the website for Enfin!, a Lac-Mégantic company that is passionate about our grandmothers' recipes and that promotes local food through its catering company and sugar shack. That is a plug, and here is why. Sophie Dorval takes care of the website. Here is part of what she wrote to promote local food:

Did you know that, out of all the age brackets, Quebeckers 65 and up are most likely to make the effort to buy local?...I'm not going to go on about the benefits of buying local, because you've probably heard it all before. No, I want to share my thoughts on what it looks like. From the inside, I want to say that I'm proud of your choices.


You forget your lunch, so you head over to Marché Lavallée to pick up a sandwich (thanks, by the way!). You see the HUGE display of Quebec beers and tell yourself that you'll come back tomorrow night with your buddy to pick up some homemade sausages and bbq potatoes for your Oktoberfest party.

You don't realize it, but in buying your lunch, you helped support families in our region and in Quebec. The Première Moisson bakery uses local, chemical-free flour for all of its breads (your sandwich). Your onions and garlic scapes (pesto) were organically grown this summer by Angélique and Manuel in St-Romain. The onions in your onion preserve were delivered with a smile from less than 30 km away and were mixed with the finest maple syrup (France and Sylvio also bought their separator in St-Ludger at Lapierre Equipment) and LEO (beer from La Gare'nison). The ham and turkey were bought at Marché Lavallée and were labelled “Aliment Québec”. Your cheese comes from the Fromagerie La Chaudière, where the young single mom who lives next door works, and your uncle too. Your lettuce, zucchini, and peppers come from the community garden where Sophie and Vincent toiled long and hard to grow all kinds of tasty organic veggies.

People have no idea that something as simple as choosing a local product at the grocery store can support jobs and bring about real change in the lives of folks back home. She goes on:

Some days this summer, you even ate veggies that Sophie harvested in the field a few hours before I put them in your sandwich. In the winter, food comes from elsewhere in Quebec or from Ontario.

It is an impressive piece of writing. I came across it by chance. I congratulate Sophie on writing such a magnificent text to let people know that unremarkable, everyday actions can change the lives of many people. These are such easy things to do. People just have to be aware and choose to buy foods produced close to home by people they know. That includes medium-sized businesses like Fromagerie La Chaudière, which has about 100 employees. It includes all the people we know and people in our communities who can make a living because consumers make the simple choice to buy local.

The day before Thanksgiving weekend, there could be an awareness campaign to encourage people to make additional efforts to ensure that they are eating locally produced food. Obviously, not all the turkeys could come from Kootenay—Columbia. People spend a little more, they have family and friends over, and they could also be doing something to help their local economy.

There is also a difference in taste. The less food has to travel, the fresher it is. These farms tend to be smaller, so people take greater care with their products. I am not saying that products from major producers are not good. I am just saying that people put a little more love into the products they grow, harvest, and deliver themselves to local markets. I am convinced that this love makes a big difference in the taste and in the palates of those who consume local products.

I did some more research and found Docteur bonne bouffe, a small website in France that explains why it is important to eat local. What does it mean to buy and eat local? What are the advantages of local food? Food is eaten when in season. In other words, if we really want to reap the benefits of local food, we will eat strawberries when in season. When maple sap is running, we will definitely visit a producer to buy a tin of fresh maple syrup, that sweet golden syrup from Mégantic—L'Érable. That is a plug people are hearing a little more often.

As I mentioned, the products are full of flavour. If they are organic and we know the producers, we know how they were produced and we do not have to worry about the use of different products.

These goods sometimes command a higher price, but not always. It just depends. Sometimes, they cost a little more, but we are doing our part to support the local economy. It is also an environmental choice, if we consider that this food does not have to be shipped by plane or boat across thousands of kilometres. It makes sense to choose local food.

Canada is a major agricultural producer. I was listening to the parliamentary secretary talk about the importance of agriculture in Canada since 1884. Even before that, when the first colonists arrived, the first thing that happened was that they were given some land to farm. They knew very well that the food sent from France or England would no longer be very good when it arrived in Canada. The first colonists chose to eat locally and to make the country prosper with local products. We should always keep that in mind.

I would address one last message to everyone living in big cities. Sometimes, people make quick decisions without really thinking about what they are putting on their plates. They should take the time to see where these products come from. This small gesture of choosing quality products to put in their grocery carts would create hundreds and thousands of jobs in Canada.

I hope that we will celebrate the first national local food day together next Thanksgiving.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 1st, 2018 / 6:50 p.m.
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Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia for presenting this important bill and for all of his hard work on preparing this bill on agriculture and promoting local food. So far, we have had a great debate. It is around suppertime right now, and a lot of us are getting hungry thinking about all the amazing food that is produced in Canada.

This is an important bill that all parliamentarians can get behind. We know that everybody eats. Sometimes there are situations even in Canada, a rich country, when families and kids do not have the opportunity to eat, for multiple reasons.

This is an important bill to talk about local food and to encourage other people to buy local food, and also to thank farmers for the work that they do to feed us. We know that farmers work 365 days a year. They do not often have a vacation. They are very hard-working people, so this is an important bill to give thanks to primary producers, who do amazing work.

Canada is considered as the breadbasket of the world. A lot of countries and people across the world are very envious of the food that we produce here in Canada. Therefore, I would like to speak a bit about where this bill comes from.

There has been a lot of talk about local food here in the House. There have been a lot of movements across Canada. A lot more people are trying to buy locally and encourage the local food movement, so making this bill a reality and to have a national food day the Friday before Thanksgiving is a great step in the right direction.

I had the pleasure of sitting on the agriculture committee beginning in 2012. As of recently, I am no longer on the committee because I have new responsibilities, but I used to work with Malcolm Allen from Welland, who was a great source of inspiration for me. We were kind of the tag team for agriculture. He brought forward the idea of a national food day, and we also had the honour to work together to prepare a national food strategy. That was the first time a political party had put forward a vision for agriculture, not just for farmers but for Canadians. We put that forward in 2014. I know that the government is consulting on a food strategy, so supporting local farmers and local food here in Canada kind of fits into its priorities.

I want to talk about Berthier—Maskinongé. Since 2011, I have had the honour of representing the people of Berthier—Maskinongé, a riding located between Montreal and Trois-Rivières. It is a rural area, so I represent many farmers. The riding is home to many dairy, poultry, and organic farms. It is home to value-added businesses.

I love summer. Yes, the weather is warmer, but we can also buy more local products at our farmers' markets. Berthier—Maskinongé is home to all kinds of farmers' markets and many organizations that work to promote local food. Every summer, I take part in the Yamachiche farmers' market. I work with a cook there. He is the expert because, although I have some talents, cooking is not always my strong suit. We buy a number of local products and then cook them and have people try them. It is really important to make people aware of new products. In my riding, there is also the Saint-Élie-de-Caxton farmers' market, the Saint-Norbert farmers' market, and the Lanoraie farmers' market. I would also be remiss if I failed to mention the Marché de solidarité régionale de Brandon. This farmers' market has been working to promote local products for years. It is an initiative of the AmiEs de la Terre de Brandon. They do a lot of work to promote food self-sufficiency with high-quality products in Brandon and the surrounding areas. They promote local and green agrifood.

They also talk a lot about protecting the environment. Buying local requires less transportation. It is a great way of reducing our environmental footprint. Fewer greenhouse gas emissions are produced because less transportation is required. The Marché de solidarité régionale de Brandon also does a lot of work for soil preservation by reducing the use of chemicals. That is why I often shop at that market.

I can say that we have amazing producers in Berthier—Maskinongé. I could talk about them all night long.

D'Autray, in the Lanaudière region, has an organization called Goûtez Lanaudière, which promotes foods from Lanaudière producers.

There is also a tourist route for discovering Lanaudière and its wineries. Former tobacco plantations have been turned into vineyards that make fantastic wine. They include the Vent maudit vineyard, the Carone vineyard, the Aux pieds des noyers vineyard, and the Saint-Gabriel vineyard in Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon, which is an organic vineyard. There are not many organic vineyards in Quebec.

The Mauricie region has the Miam designation, which is placed on products that represent the best of the Mauricie's agrifood industry. It serves as a kind of certification for local producers that sell their own products, such as turkey, beef, cheese, and beer. The Miam designation showcases the products of the Mauricie region. In the grocery store and at farmers' markets, the Miam label shows that the food is produced locally.

To quote Jean-Marie Giguère, president of the Mauricie UPA or agricultural producers' union:

If every person in Quebec spent $20 a week on local products, we could create 100,000 jobs in Quebec. For the Mauricie, the proportion is the same, amounting to about 10,000 jobs.

That is why it is so important to support buying local everywhere. Buying local is not just restricted to the regions. Many local products are sold in urban areas as well. Produce is being grown on rooftops, and plenty of products are available in farmers' markets. It is tremendously important to support buying local and support local food. Buying local reduces our environmental impact. Local food contains fewer preservatives and is fresh. Farmers' markets are crucial.

I think the government can also support the bill introduced by my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia. It could be promoted to raise public awareness, as my Conservative colleague just said in his speech. The government needs to encourage people to buy local and promote local food.

There is one other thing I want to talk about. We are talking about local food but we should also be talking about traditional food for first nations.

We have a great opportunity here to thank farmers for the wonderful work they do. Going forward with this local food day would be a step in the right direction. All members of the House can talk about food systems in their ridings and how proud they are of the food that is produced in Canada.

The debate so far has been very positive. We hope that the bill will go to committee and that next year, we will celebrate national local food day on the Friday before Thanksgiving.

It is really important to work with and educate kids too, both in my riding and across Quebec.

The Union des producteurs agricoles organizes an open house. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and my Conservative colleague know what I am talking about. Quebec producers, like pork, poultry, or organic farmers, open their doors for the day so the public can visit and learn about where milk comes from and how food is produced, for example.

It is important to promote buying local and to raise public awareness, because working in agriculture, being a farmer, is the best job in the world. I think we should thank all farmers for their work, and a good way to do so is for everyone in the House to vote in favour of this bill.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 1st, 2018 / 7 p.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Toronto--Danforth.

I want to point out that the member will have eight minutes instead of the traditional 10, and she will be able to take up the remaining two minutes when this topic comes up again.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 1st, 2018 / 7 p.m.
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Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy today to stand in support of this bill. I would like to thank my friend across the way from Kootenay—Columbia for bringing forth this bill for us to recognize the importance of local foods by having a local food day.

I support this bill because it gives us an opportunity to celebrate our nutritious and delicious local foods. In fact, as the day has gone, we have heard a great deal about different recipes and local foods, and there is a lot of excitement about these opportunities. It is also a chance for us to talk about the importance of where our food comes from, how it is grown, and who is growing our food. It is an opportunity for us to have those conversations and celebrate at the same time.

When I heard about this day, the first thing that came to my mind was one of my family traditions, which is that every year around Thanksgiving we go to an apple orchard together to pick apples. It is one of those great family events for us. We go out, spend some time together, and get to have some wonderful apples. There is really nothing like an apple freshly picked from the tree when it is in season. It is the most wonderful thing. It is also a chance for us to explore the country and meet some of our farmers.

In addition, we get to go and pick other fruits and vegetables. It was always of importance for me to take my children out as they were growing up, and we would pick raspberries, strawberries, potatoes—which was very messy—peas, and all those types of things. It was very important to me for us to learn, as people growing up in the city, about the importance of our farmers and where our food comes from.

We do not always have to leave the city to do that, though. There are opportunities right in our community. One of the things I celebrate every spring is the opening of the farmers' markets in my community. It is a wonderful chance for people to get together and see neighbours, and also to talk with farmers and buy local food.

In only two weeks, I am looking forward to one of the farmers' markets opening up, the East York Farmers' Market at the East York Civic Centre. It is there every Tuesday starting May 15, and runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It has great food, and it is really nice to see people coming together outside of the Civic Centre to celebrate our local foods.

Shortly on the heels of that, we will have the Leslieville Farmers' Market opening up. That one is also fun. There is great music along with the food. It is a chance to bring people together. Every Saturday starting May 20, at Jonathan Ashbridge Park, people will be out and celebrating local food.

Having a local food day is a chance for us to talk about how we can do more of this, more bringing people together in cities and celebrating our local foods.

Not to be left out, the last farmers' market that is going to be opening up in my community is the Withrow Park Farmers' Market. It is every Saturday, starting June 2, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. That is another place where they have different community events, such as “100 in 1 Day”, where people were able to learn how to build homes for bees and all of those types of things. We learn about pollinators and food issues while we are there.

As I said, having a local food day really encourages us to have that conversation about the importance of our local foods. It is a chance to highlight people working in the farmers' markets and their volunteers, the farmers who bring the food to the markets, and learn about everything we can do to make sure we protect the lands on which this food is grown. That is another important aspect.

I found it very interesting that a poll of Ontario consumers conducted by Environics Analytics in partnership with the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation in 2007 found that 80% of Ontarians polled preferred to buy locally grown produce. In fact, 91% of the people polled said that they would buy locally grown food if they could find it in the grocery stores. The poll shows that in my home province of Ontario—and I expect this is similar across our country—people support local food production. They actually seek it out and would really like that to be something they can find in their stores.

In Toronto, one of the places where those local foods can be found and are grown is in our Greenbelt. I cannot emphasize how important our Greenbelt is in the greater Toronto area to Ontario, and really across our country, for food.

In fact, Ontario's Greenbelt is the world's largest permanently protected greenbelt. It has almost two million acres. It protects farmland and forests, but also agricultural lands. It really surprised me that it is the world's largest greenbelt and, not only that, of the approximately two million acres, over 900,000 acres of the Greenbelt are farmland. As it is so close to the city of Toronto, local food day would be an opportunity for people to explore and get to know more about the Greenbelt that surrounds them. In fact, if the weather is nice, people could even choose to explore, on local food day, the Greenbelt by cycling, because there are cycling trails. There are 462 kilometres of cycling routes through the Greenbelt. What a wonderful opportunity to cycle along those routes and see some of our great farms close by.

As we celebrate local food day, it is also important to think about how we can promote and support farmers. It is a chance for us to grow an awareness of the importance of our local farmlands. I do not want us to underestimate the importance of that conversation because, as has happened recently in conversations members have had in their communities, people tell us that they believe there are better uses for our agricultural land. They tell us that we should be using some of the Greenbelt for other uses, such as development. Local food day would give us an opportunity to highlight the importance of protecting the Greenbelt. It would give us a reason to have conversations with people so they could learn more about why we need to make sure those agricultural lands are protected.

We can talk about the reasons we like our local food and recipes, but it is also about healthy food that we can grow locally. It is good for our environment to have these green spaces, It is good for our economy, which people do not always talk about. Local food and our agricultural markets are very important to our economy as well.

Finally, as we have been talking today, people have shared recipes and talked about their favourite restaurants and foods in their areas. It is about community as well. It is wonderful that food is a way to bring people together and if we have local food day, I am excited to push that forward, have the conversations, and also eat some wonderful foods together.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 1st, 2018 / 7:10 p.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The time provided for private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

The House resumed from May 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 28th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
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John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to promote the introduction of national local food day, as proposed by my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia, directly to the west of my riding.

This is an outstanding opportunity to celebrate our farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, U-pick berry farmers, craft brewers, distillers, and those who operate our farmers' markets. It is our chance to thank those who work so hard with incredible passion, innovation, and creativity to ensure that Canadians can put incredible, wholesome, and delicious food on their tables each and every day.

Celebrating local food is an opportunity I hold close to my heart. I am blessed to have a wide array of premium locally sourced food products in my riding, Foothills. This is an amazing time of year that I am sure many of my colleagues in the House will share with me as we get ready for farmers' market season. Even now, I can almost taste the fresh vegetables of the renowned Millarville market, the pies of the Saskatoon Farm, the blackcurrants of Kayben Farms, the fresh honey from Greidanus or Chinook Honey Company, Taber corn, and, of course, amazing Alberta beef.

It is clear that this is a topic every single one of us in the House can speak to. We can see the amazing colours, and we can smell the aromas of grandma's kitchen. Most important, when it comes to our local food, we can taste it. Locally produced food is something we can share with every single Canadian.

The idea of this private member's bill, to designate the Friday before Thanksgiving of each year as national local food day, would provide plenty of opportunities and positives for Canadians throughout the country as we promote local agribusinesses. It also gives us a chance to highlight and showcase our incredible premium homegrown cuisine.

In our roles as shadow ministers for agriculture and agrifood, my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable and I have had a fantastic opportunity to talk to farmers, producers, and business owners almost every day, not only in our ridings but across the country. These people are restaurant owners who feed Canadians every day and challenge themselves to highlight Canadian products in new and exciting ways; farmers who maintain the finest crops; and the ones who prepare and deliver our food to our door and our local markets.

The proposed idea of creating a national local food day is not necessarily about what we are eating. It is also about the products provided by our local producers, who, for many of us, are our friends and neighbours.

Today, many Canadians, especially those in urban communities, are generations away from the family farm. Many of them do not understand where their food is grown, how it is grown, where their food comes from, or the love and care our farmers put into growing healthy, nutritious, and quality food each and every day.

It is my hope that national local food day would be an opportunity for us to reconnect urban and rural Canadians, to reintroduce ourselves to where our food comes from, and to introduce our children to the farmers, ranchers, and beekeepers in our communities. It is also an opportunity to dispel some of the myths out there about what happens on the Canadian family farm. It is an opportunity for us in the House and as Canadians to introduce the city mouse to the country mouse.

Certainly, food is grown on the farm, but the definition of a family farm has changed from what many of us think of as the traditional family farm. When we talk about the family farm, we have a picture in our mind of grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, a couple of kids, maybe a chicken and a cow, and a dog running around in the field.

However, today the family farm could be a major, 10,000-acre business, a multi-million dollar business. Certainly the family is still involved, but those family members are shareholders. A family farm could be a garden in the backyard or a community garden plot, a community project in downtown Calgary. These could all be defined as products and producers of local food. This is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate all these different innovations and opportunities to showcase local food.

When we talk about local, I want us to focus on food products that are coming from the local farm, but also from within our region, our towns, our neighbouring communities, and across the country.

When we talk about food, I do not want us to forget about some of the incredible opportunities happening across Canada. We can go to a local brewery, many of which are in rural communities, and taste its craft beer. I hope that this would be a significant part of our national local food day. I have had the opportunity to visit and tour many of these local breweries across Canada, and I believe a national local food day would provide a catalyst for Canadians to not only test these locally sourced foods and drinks, but get a better connection with the hard-working producers who live and work near them.

For example, just over the last few years in my riding, Foothills, there have been six craft breweries in various stages of construction. There are two award-winning craft distilleries, Highwood Distillers and Eau Claire Distillery. There are even two honey meaderies, which is something I had never tried before. This is an outstanding opportunity to support our local producers. All these innovations have brought new economic opportunities, especially to our rural communities. They are supporting our local farmers, towns, and villages with economic opportunities and new jobs.

One of the big highlights is that this has become a significant tourism industry. Local food has become an opportunity for these communities to highlight some of the things they are most renowned for.

For example, the community of Turner Valley has literally hundreds of people coming from the city every weekend to visit the Fahr brewery or Eau Claire Distillery and have a Hefeweizen on the deck or a glass of prickly pear vodka. They can then head further down the highway to Longview and enjoy an Alberta beef steak at the Longview Steakhouse, or continue down the Cowboy Trail, along Highway 22, to Crowsnest Pass and enjoy the Huckleberry Festival. The Castle Mountain range has some of the best huckleberries in Canada.

This is an incredible opportunity for us to highlight and showcase not only our local food and producers, but certainly our local communities. Anytime we have a chance to bring new economic opportunities to these communities, this is something we need to embrace, and I am excited that national local food day would bring an opportunity for us to highlight what our local communities are doing.

The options are incredible. These businesses are supporting our local farms, but also offering a new twist on our locally grown products. Not surprisingly, our producers are a diverse bunch. Like Canada itself, our culinary heritage is as colourful as a summer salad. We should not be surprised, because for generations, when it comes to immigration, agriculture was the gateway to Canada. When many new Canadians broke ground for their new homes, they brought their recipes and produced those ingredients in Canada's fertile soil, and they have passed those recipes on for generations. These items all fall under the umbrella of locally produced foods. Whether those dishes originate here at home, or in Jamaica, Korea, the Philippines, England, or Ukraine, as long as those foods are produced locally, they should be considered homegrown products. For myself, anytime I have an opportunity to have homemade perogies, I am going to take it.

Producers are using incredibly different products as well. For example, a local craft brewery outside Regina, Rebellion Brewing, uses lentils to make its beer, something most of us have probably never taken the opportunity to try, and it is successful in using these new products. I was at a craft distillery in Lumsden that was using dill pickles to make vodka, also something I never thought I would try in my lifetime, but it was definitely an experience. Two weeks ago, when we were at our branding meeting getting ready for the summer season, we all enjoyed Prairie oysters. If my colleagues have not had the opportunity to try that, they should take the chance to do so. There is nothing like a little Prairie oyster after a hard day's work.

We also have to understand the importance of agriculture and local food to our communities and to our economy. This is a multi-billion dollar industry for the Canadian economy. We should take any opportunity, such as national local food day, to highlight what our Canadian producers are doing across the country, but also, perhaps most important, to introduce to Canadians where their food comes from, how it is grown, and the heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears our farmers put into it every day.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 28th, 2018 / 11:10 a.m.
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Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today in the debate on Bill C-281, introduced by my colleague, the member for Kootenay—Columbia. I would like to thank him for bringing forward this bill, because it gives all of us in this chamber, no matter what our political affiliation is, an opportunity to talk about the great things that are going on in our ridings.

I am proud to be standing here, not only as the NDP's agriculture critic and as the member of Parliament for an amazingly rich and vibrant region, especially in food production, but also as the owner of a small-scale farming property. I would not go so far as to call myself a farmer; I have a very tiny property. However, it gives me peace of mind to be out there with our sheep and our chickens, as well as putting my hands in the soil and watching things grow from it. Seeing the results of the harvest in the fall is something many of us in this chamber can appreciate. When we talk to the farmers in our regions and get an understanding of the hard work they do on their individual farms to bring that amazing produce to market, it makes a bill like this so much better, because it would give official recognition to something that we all very much enjoy.

I like the fact that Bill C-281 would designate as national local food day the Friday before Thanksgiving. The Friday and Saturday are the days when people are starting to put together the menu for Thanksgiving. If we all recognize the Friday as national local food day, I hope that it would encourage more Canadians to pay attention to local food markets to bring some of that produce, which local farmers have worked on so hard, to their own respective tables and make Thanksgiving that much more special. We already have Canada's Agriculture Day, which we celebrated earlier this year, in February, but I like the appreciation that, in addition to celebrating agriculture as a whole, we would bring it down to the local level.

We all realize that food is not just a commodity. All animals and humans require food to survive, and food is very much a social determinant of health. We know there are a lot of people in Canada who suffer from food insecurity. Food security and food sovereignty have always been key issues to me. Canada is one of the countries that are very blessed, with the amount of arable land we have. Given the relatively small size of our population and the huge variety of growing regions we have in this amazing country, we should be a country that is able to produce food locally for everyone who needs it, not only the bare minimum amount, but also good, quality food. That is really what the conversation needs to focus on.

I am proud to belong to a party that has long had this as part of its mandate. In 2011, we ran on committing to introduce a Canadian food strategy that would combine health goals, environmental goals, and food quality objectives. In 2014, Alex Atamanenko and Malcolm Allen, former members of Parliament, brought together a landmark strategy paper called “Everybody Eats: Our Vision for a pan-Canadian Food Strategy”, focusing on going from the farm to the factory to the fork. The strategy was very comprehensive, and I am glad that maybe in some small part we have brought this conversation to the government, because the government launched consultations on establishing a national food policy. Last year, when I held consultations with the farmers in my region, the farmers were very vocal and involved, and we produced quite a comprehensive report based on all that feedback.

The other reason I like this bill is that it has to do with the concept of food miles. I remember going into a supermarket a few years ago and seeing apples from New Zealand and oranges from South Africa. I know that Canada is not much of an orange-growing region, but we do have a lot of apple orchards. It surprised me that there was actually a market for an apple to travel thousands of kilometres across the Pacific Ocean to Canada and actually be sold, when we have all these amazing local apple growers right here in Canada, and even in neighbouring Washington state. From where I am in British Columbia, Washington state is only a stone's throw away. Given the fact that we have amazing local food farmers who are able to meet this demand, we should try to focus more on making sure that food does not have to travel so far to get to our kitchen table.

I am also proud to come from a province which probably has the most diversified agricultural sector in the country. British Columbia has a variety of different climates given our mountainous province, and we are able to grow a lot of different things in many different regions. Depending on which valley and which part of the province people are in, they will always find a little niche market somewhere.

I want to bring it home and talk about some of the amazing things going on in my riding. Down in the southern end, we have the Goldstream Farmers Market, which is going to be held from May through to October this year, as it is every year. It celebrates all of the amazing agriculture that is going on in the west shore communities.

We have the Cowichan region, which is, believe it or not, Canada's only maritime Mediterranean climatic zone. We have the highest mean average temperature in all of Canada. This allows our farmers to get a head start on growing some amazing food.

We have the amazing rainfall in the winter and amazing sunshine in the summer. It produces an amazing agricultural bounty. This is on display. People can go to the Duncan Farmers' Market and find over 150 vendors. It is one of the largest markets in all of B.C. People can find everything from organic fruits and vegetables; local honey, cheese, and eggs; sustainably harvested seafood; meat from grass-fed and ethically raised animals; homemade jams, jellies, chutneys, and sauces; artisan breads, pies, pastries, and cookies; locally grown and produced wines and spirits; and even gourmet treats for pets.

To cap it off, we have amazing organizations, like the Cowichan Green Community, which is very much focused on local food security. It has worked on initiatives such as the Cowichan food charter and the Cowichan food security plan; projects like FruitSave, which tries to get people, like those who have a 100-year-old apple tree that they never eat all the apples from, to take that fruit to local markets; and, of course, getting kids involved in the joys of farming, and educating them all about it.

They produce a local food map which identifies all of the farms in the Cowichan region. It identifies 58 unique farms and businesses, all with something distinctive, fresh, and delicious to offer consumers.

We have the Alderlea Farm Café, people who have been involved in a farming venture. We have the Cowichan Valley tea farm; the Cowichan Valley actually grows its own tea. We have Farmer Ben's Eggs, and the Quist family farm.

There are a number of breweries, wineries, and of course I cannot leave out the amazing community of Port Renfrew, which I will say is probably home to the best wild Pacific salmon of anywhere in the country. I love the people of Port Renfrew. They have a real can-do attitude. It is very much driven by the amazing tourist opportunities and the amazing seafood they are able to produce.

With that, I will conclude by saying that I appreciate the member for Kootenay—Columbia bringing this bill forward. It is an important day to celebrate, and I certainly hope all members can get behind this amazing bill to help celebrate national local food day.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

May 28th, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
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Joe Peschisolido Liberal Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Madam Speaker, I too would like to applaud the work of the member for Kootenay—Columbia for introducing what I think is an amazing bill. It will support our farmers and food processors, and all those Canadians who are part of or impacted by the agriculture and food sector in our strong economy.

Our country is a food superpower, and I do not say that lightly. In fact, we are the fifth-largest exporter of agriculture and agrifoods in the world. We are blessed to have the land and resources needed to help the world meet its ever-growing need for food, by producing more than we need to feed our population.

Our exports are known in the global market to be reliable, safe, innovative, and above all sustainable. That is all part of our Canada brand, our narrative.

The vast size and complexity of our food systems are worth consideration. The industry generates one in eight of our manufacturing jobs, over $110 billion of our gross domestic product, and over $64 billion of our exports. From gate to plate, agriculture is one of the key growth sectors of our economy.

Canada's innovative processing industry supplies approximately 70% of all processed food and beverage products available in Canada, and it is the largest customer for our farmers.

All Canadians can share their beloved local foods with the entire planet to help feed the growing world population with sustainable foods. That is why the objective of the new Canadian agricultural partnership is to build a strong agriculture sector. The Canadian agricultural partnership is Canada's five-year agricultural policy framework. It outlines a bold new vision that will help the agricultural and agrifood sector innovate, grow, and prosper.

On April 1, ministers of agriculture from across Canada launched the partnership as a shared vision for the future of Canadian agriculture. Over the next five years, our governments will invest $3 billion in the partnership. Over $1 billion of that investment will support federal programs and activities to revitalize Canadian agriculture. These programs will focus on the following three key areas: growing trade and expanding markets; innovation and sustainable growth of the sector; and supporting diversity and a dynamic, evolving sector.

In supporting this bill, let me begin with the observation that a robust local food industry does not need to compete with farmers who export to world markets. In fact, many farmers do both. All production is local, whether it is consumed locally or on the other side of the world. As the member of Parliament for Steveston—Richmond East, I have berry farmers who produce for the local market, be it in Vancouver, Richmond, or Kelowna, but who also export to Asia, be it in Japan, China, or Korea.

If we think of our vibrant organic sector, it is so much more as well. For example, today the market for certified organic products in Canada is over $5 billion, making us one of the largest markets for organics in the world. Two out of three Canadian consumers buy organic. That is very good news for the many supporters of Bill C-281, both in this House and across this country, who believe in the merits of a national local food day. We are not just talking about small producers; increasingly, we are seeing large-sized, more traditional operations that are gradually converting from conventional to organic production. In Saskatchewan, a 40,000-acre grain farm is converting to organic. In my neck of the woods, in Steveston—Richmond East, a significant organic blueberry farm just converted from traditional blueberries. It is also setting aside a section for traditional farming, once again proving that farms can do both.

I am pleased to say that our government over the past two and a half years has invested nearly $20 million in this innovative, dynamic sector. Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day, is an excellent initiative, and a special tribute to the great success of Canadian farmers, our responsible stewards of the land.

The government also recognizes the importance of strengthening connections between consumers and producers of food. Canadians are increasingly building bridges with local farms and the hard-working farmers they often meet in the colourful farmers' markets across this country. I have the same situation in Steveston—Richmond East. We have the Steveston farmers' market, where the local farmers, be they organic or the more traditional farmers, such as the May family, the Savages, produce food internationally. They also provide good, healthy, sustainable food, sometimes organic and sometimes not, for the local farmers' market. When I head over there and say hi to a farmer, or Canadians say hi to a farmer, we start to build trust because we know where our food is coming from. Local food is about increasing agricultural awareness among our consumers.

The future is bright for Canadian agriculture. We are lucky enough to live in a country with abundant high-quality farmland and a variety of local climates. We have some of the best icewines in the world. For superior-quality grain, we need look no further than the Prairies.

We are happy to support Bill C-281, because when Canadians shop locally, they are supporting the local economy and creating jobs locally, nationally, as well as internationally. Local food helps consumers build lasting relationships with local food producers. It also opens up economic opportunities and employment. It fosters community involvement and also creates a culinary tourism industry.

In supporting this bill, we are supporting the future of farming in this country. Heading down to a farmers' market, which I often do on a Saturday morning to the Steveston farmers' market, national local food day will not just be a way of enjoying solid organic vegetables, or wonderful blueberry ice wine, as enjoyable as that is, it will also be a great way to make the choice for a stronger agriculture and food industry in this amazing country that we call home.

That is why today I am supporting this bill.