An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act (supply management)

This bill was previously introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Louis Plamondon  Bloc

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

Status

Report stage (House), as of June 22, 2021

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act so that the Minister of Foreign Affairs cannot make certain commitments with respect to international trade regarding certain goods.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

March 10, 2021 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-216, An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act (supply management)

Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1Government Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:40 a.m.
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Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my esteemed colleague from Drummond for his question.

My answer will be mixed. There have indeed been actions taken to support farmers, but often they are inadequate one-offs, involving meagre amounts that, I just said earlier, are used to make “mini-announcements” rather than bring in anything permanent.

There are requests, and I will give three examples. If the House feels strongly about the question asked by my colleague from Drummond and wants to do something for the farming community, Bill C‑216 protects supply management once and for all. All parties voted overwhelmingly in favour of this bill, which was referred to committee and must now come back to the House. I wish it had come back before we leave.

Bill C‑208 is currently before the Senate. I find it very fishy that it is taking so long. I hope the Senate passes it before Parliament rises.

There are several measures like that.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

March 10th, 2021 / 6:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, what a great debate we are having today.

It is funny to hear my colleague say that we should not bring up long-ago governments when he himself talked about Brian Mulroney in 1988. I had to laugh a little when he said we should not talk about former governments.

Even so, my colleagues will be surprised to hear that I agree with my colleague. That is one for the history books: a Bloc MP agreeing with a Conservative about the environment. It is true, the Liberals have not kept their promises on the environment. We agree on that. Sadly, that is all we agree on.

During his speech, my colleague said something that resonated with me. He said we absolutely have to rely on research and development to replace petroleum products. I expect he had wood byproducts in mind, for one thing. In the same breath, he said that we cannot give up oil. The Conservatives are speaking out of both sides of their collective mouth. Unfortunately, they cannot get past that. Earlier today, some of them voted against Bill C-216 on supply management, and a minority of other MPs voted for it.

My question for my colleague is this: From 2006 to 2015, what did they do for the environment?

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

March 9th, 2021 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-216.

We are debating this legislation because the Liberal government has not treated supply-managed sectors fairly. They have not supported farmers or producers, and not followed through on their commitments. However, this legislation does not address the issues of farmers and producers.

Conservatives have been strong and vocal supporters of our supply-managed sectors and will continue to be. In fact, Conservatives have a policy declaration that says the following:

...it is in the best interest of Canada and Canadian agriculture that the industries under the protection of supply management remain viable. A Conservative Government will support supply management and its goal to deliver a high quality product to consumers for a fair price with a reasonable return to the producer.

Our leader, our party, and our policy have been clear on this. The Conservative party is an ally, supporter and defender of supply management in Canada. I will talk about these important supply-managed sectors.

When I met with the Chicken Farmers of Canada, they were clear about their priorities. Through correspondence and an appearance at committee, we know that their priorities are new investment programs to support producers as they improve their operations, a market development fund to promote Canadian-raised chicken, a tariff rate quota allocation methodology designed to ensure minimal market distortions, the enforcement of Canadian production standards on imports and the resolution of import control loopholes undermining this sector. One of these is the fraudulent importation of mislabelled broiler meat being declared as spent fowl. There are reports of chicken meat imports being mislabelled in order to bypass import control measures.

When this situation first became apparent in 2012, Canada was importing the equivalent of 101% of the United States’ entire spent fowl production. According to the Chicken Farmers of Canada, these illegal imports have resulted in an estimated annual loss of 1,400 jobs in Canada, $105 million in contributions to the national economy, $35 million in tax revenue and the loss of at least $66 million in government revenues due to tariff evasion.

These illegal imports also raise important food safety concerns relating to traceability for recalls. This issue not only affects our economy and hard-working chicken farmers, but the lives of Canadians are on the line in the case of a food-borne illness.

Where is the action plan to deal with this?

When I spoke to the Egg Farmers of Canada, an industry association that represents over 1,000 family farms across the country that support over 18,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in GDP, they were clear that they wanted the government to stop claiming to support the industry and actually start defending it. I learned of the innovation occurring in this industry.

The egg industry is tired of being strung along by the government. They had to fight tooth and nail for clarity on promised compensation. They expressed their desire for investment in their industry, which is the backbone of rural communities, and for market development support when it comes to the Canadian egg brand.

Where is the desire or action plan to defend our egg industry?

When I spoke to the Dairy Farmers of Canada, they told me how hard it was for the industry to plan for the future due to the government’s lack of transparency, not the least in regard to the disbursement of promised compensation.

Where is the desire and action plan to defend the dairy industry?

These same concerns were raised by the Turkey Farmers of Canada. When I first spoke with them, they were going into year four without any payments of promised compensation by the government.

The Conservatives are the only party who can and will be able to ensure that our world-class producers of dairy, chicken, turkey, and eggs have a partner in government. The Bloc Québécois will never have to negotiate a trade agreement for Canada and be the partner in government that the supply management businesses in Quebec and across the country can rely on. The Conservative Party is the only party that can and will put an end to the failures of the Liberal government when it comes to trade agreements and compensation.

Conservatives will faithfully defend supply management. We were in the House of Commons pressing the government over and over again to fulfill its compensation promises to the supply-managed sectors. We have also raised in the House the meaningful actions that we can take now to protect and support farmers and producers, including in supply-managed sectors. These actions would include modernizing and improving agricultural risk management programs, asking the Competition Bureau to investigate the impacts of abusive trade practices in the grocery industry by the grocery giants, or providing flexibility and clarity on how compensation for supply-managed sectors is allocated.

Why have we seen no plans on these important topics?

I have spent a lot of time talking with businesses and industry representatives. They want consultation, understanding and transparency from the government. They want support from the government, which has been sorely lacking. After all, our agricultural sectors do not compete fairly with other countries that subsidize, both directly and indirectly, their own products.

Creating legislation such as we are debating today, which could target farmers and producers right from the onset as bargaining chips in future trade negotiations, is not a wise strategy. Canada could be outnegotiated and forced to agree to concessions and pay compensation. This would mean more workers losing jobs, and it would do nothing to drive investment, spearhead innovation or protect jobs.

In my home province of British Columbia, supply management is an important part of our economy. B.C. has over three million egg-laying hens across over 140 farms in the province. Chicken farmers in B.C. produce 87 million dozen eggs annually and account for 14,000 jobs, contributing $1.1 billion to Canada's GDP.

B.C. is also the third-largest dairy-producing province in Canada, with 500 farms.

It is the Conservatives who are putting forth private members' bills that are meaningful to the agriculture sector. Conservative private member's bill, Bill C-206, would exempt farmers from paying the carbon tax on gasoline, propane and natural gas. From heating barns to running farm equipment, farmers face steep energy costs, and these have skyrocketed in many parts of the country due to the increasing federal carbon tax. It is a practical measure to help alleviate the financial strain on the agriculture sector. Supporting our food security is more important than ever.

Conservative private member's bill, Bill C-208, would allow the transfer of a small business, family farm or fishing operation at the same tax rate when selling to a family member as when selling to a third party. I was happy to jointly second this bill in the first session of this Parliament. This was a poor tax policy change brought in by the government. This policy bothered me so much when it first came out. It was one of the factors that prompted me to run to become a member of Parliament.

Succession planning is a challenge at the best of times for small businesses, in particular farmers, and it is unfair that it is more financially advantageous to sell to a stranger than to one's own children, who have often grown up around the family business and contributed over time. I have many communications regarding this bill from my constituents in Kelowna—Lake Country on how positively it will affect their businesses and future planning.

Conservative Bill C-205 would amend the animal health act to address trespassing onto farms, into barns or other enclosed areas where the health of animals and safety of Canada’s food supply is potentially at risk. Entering a farm without lawful authority or excuse would become an offence under the act.

We will always support the hard-working farmers and producers in our supply managed sectors who ensure quality foods for Canadians. Dairy products, chicken, turkey and eggs are core staples on our dinner tables, and the pandemic showed us how important it is to protect our supply chains, supply management and food security.

The legislation we are debating today does nothing to address any of the concerns I have outlined. There are more meaningful, productive and long-lasting ways we can stand up for supply management without supporting Bill C-216.

Canada’s Conservatives will continue to support our supply managed sectors and ensure that dairy- and poultry-farming families and producers are consulted and engaged in any trade negotiations in the future.

We will continue to support all farmers and producers in meaningful ways.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

March 9th, 2021 / 5:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be here today and to speak to this very important bill. I am rising today both as the Bloc Québécois critic for international trade and the member for what is likely the most agricultural riding in the country.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been promoting buying local. We have been realizing the importance of producing and consuming local. That guarantees economic benefits, jobs and quality products, and it enables us to express our solidarity with and appreciation for our artisans.

Supply management is the basis of Quebec's agricultural model. It is a tool for preserving our food self-sufficiency and guaranteeing land use. It is a program that is based on a number of interdependent mechanisms. If one pillar is weakened or disappears, it disrupts the system, which becomes less effective overall. One of the pillars is border protection. That is likely the most important pillar of the supply management system because it helps protect our market from foreign products that are quite often subsidized and cost less to produce.

The idea behind supply management, which has many obvious benefits, is that agriculture cannot be treated as just one of many markets under the conventional rules of international trade.

After the Second World War, this was made clear in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, better known as GATT. This was the beginning of international trade liberalization. Agriculture was off the table in those discussions. It was explicitly excluded. They said that the sector would not be treated in the same way as other markets. Agriculture puts our food on the table. It is what feeds us at breakfast, lunch and supper.

Over the years, successive Canadian governments, no matter their political stripe, have passed the buck, promising to never touch supply management in any future free trade agreement negotiations. Each government said it would not touch it, unlike its predecessor. They said that one's word is one's bond, even though others had said the same thing before. These were in fact just empty words.

In the case of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and Europe and the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, we learned at the end of closed-door negotiations—which I would even describe as secretive—that supply management had not come out unscathed.

Our borders were compromised. Free trade agreements forced Ottawa to allow more imported products onto store shelves and substantially reduced penalties levied on countries that exceeded the limits. Canada lost the tools that enabled it to protect our markets from competition.

They said it would be a tiny little opening. They told us not to worry. They tried to reassure us by saying it would be a tiny little opening. Try telling producers and processors whose losses are mounting daily that the cause of their problems is just a tiny little opening. I am sure everyone will agree that all those so-called tiny little openings add up to a pretty massive hole.

Government after government has tried to make up for these openings with compensation. They told people not to worry because there would be fair compensation. We think there should be compensation and we have applied constant pressure to ensure that farmers who get shortchanged by Ottawa's diplomatic screw-ups get their cheques, of course. The problem is that it takes a very long time to get that compensation, which never really makes up for the holes in what was a proven system.

The Bloc Québécois has moved six motions since 2005 calling on the government to recognize and fully defend the supply management system. Every one of these motions passed, and they passed unanimously, at that. After seeing supply management gouged in each of the last three free trade agreements, we felt it was time to introduce a bill. Promises are not enough. We need legislation to fully protect our agricultural model. We must prevent this system from being undermined in any way in the future. Any minister negotiating a future trade agreement must be mandated to keep the supply management system as is. That is why we introduced this bill to prohibit any future breaches of supply management in any potential free trade negotiations. Members must support this bill. The Bloc Québécois and the Union des producteurs agricoles held a national press conference in November calling on everyone to do just that.

That was the message that the member for Berthier—Maskinongé and I delivered last week, when we did our tour, virtually of course, of all the regions of Quebec. That was also the message of the letter sent by the Union des producteurs agricoles to all the party leaders in the House. Farmers and processors are clear that we must pass this bill. When I vote on this bill I will be thinking about the people in my riding and throughout Quebec.

Since every party has already voted to protect supply management, we have to wonder why some are now refusing to support Bill C-216, which would do exactly the same thing. The parties are all in favour so they should all vote for the bill. The answer is very simple: Canada's two major parties, which like to pass the buck and rightly blame each other for betraying our agriculture sector, want, once they are in power, to keep the door open to negotiating and putting supply management on the table if an interesting opportunity presents itself in another sector.

Last week, a Conservative member from Quebec confirmed his party's so-called clear support for supply management. He said they were 100% behind it while stating that they should not be forced to support it if, in future, there would be opportunities for growth. That is revealing. I like it when things are clear. Yes, they stand up for supply management, but above all they are not obligated to defend supply management. The reason my colleague gave for rejecting our bill is the main reason why we should support it. Oral commitments are no longer enough.

As we heard during this debate, some people think that the bill is unconstitutional. That argument does not hold water. We, too, closely examined that aspect, and we believe that the bill passes the test. We could discuss that.

Furthermore, we are not talking here about the final passage of the bill but about passing the bill in principle. Once the bill is sent to the Standing Committee on International Trade, of which I have the honour and pleasure of being a member, we will study it and hear from witnesses, experts and groups affected by it. We will also have the opportunity to amend it if there is something wrong with it. We could therefore hear from constitutional law experts and, if necessary, change the few lines that need to be changed to ensure this bill is more compliant with the Constitution. In short, there is absolutely nothing to warrant a negative vote in the House at this stage.

Let us pass the Bloc Québécois's Bill C-216. The dismantling of our agricultural model needs to stop. The future of our rural economy is at stake.

Madam Speaker, how much time do I have left?

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

March 9th, 2021 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be joining today's debate on Bill C-216 as the NDP's critic for agriculture and agri-food. Of course, I am following our other critic, the critic for international trade, the member for Elmwood—Transcona, who spoke on behalf of our party during this bill's first hour of debate.

I am here to offer my full support for Bill C-216 and for getting this bill voted on, so that it does proceed to the Standing Committee on International Trade. That committee, through its expertise, would then be able to take a look at this bill in finer detail, bring forward some substantive witnesses and make any possible changes that they see fit.

I do believe at this stage that the House of Commons, as the people's elected representatives, have to make that strong statement in principle through Bill C-216 that we support supply management. Too often those words defending supply management have been quite cheap, and this is an opportunity to put words into substantive action.

I am proud to belong to a party that has long stood in defence of supply management. Indeed, I can remember during my first term in the 42nd Parliament, we were often the ones who were leading the charge on defending supply management when it came to the successive trade deals that were signed by the Liberal majority government during the course of their first term.

When we talk about supply management we, of course, are talking generally about the egg sector: chickens, turkeys and dairy. I would like to talk a little bit about my riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. We have a long and storied agricultural history. We have many family farms here on this part of Vancouver Island that are multi-generational. They were set up here to take advantage of our beautiful climate, the fact our winters are not terribly severe, an abundance of rainfall and some beautiful sunshine. We have an amazing agricultural climate here on Vancouver Island, and many farms have taken advantage of the unique climate conditions that we have.

I think of Lockwood Farms and the local egg farming operation of Farmer Ben's Eggs, which is quite a bit larger. I have visited several dairy operations throughout Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. Time and time again, I have heard about the security that our supply management system is able to give these farms because it relies on three important pillars. It relies on price control and production control, which allow farms to basically plan for the future.

Farmers have a pretty good idea of what they are able to produce, but also the price that they will be able to fetch in return for those goods. These pillars are an important part of local food security and of how we build resiliency into our system. I think that is an important part of the conversation, especially in light of what we have gone through with COVID-19.

Looking at other sectors of our agricultural community that do not operate under supply management one can see wild price fluctuations. Farmers really are at the mercy of the markets, and they can have terribly tough times when those prices crash through the market floor. Even in goods that are supply managed here in Canada, we only need to look across the border at states such as Wisconsin for an example of this. One single state produces as much dairy as our entire country, but because of the crazy price fluctuations they have had, farmers have really been bouncing around. Sometimes they have benefited from high prices, other times they really had to scramble to try to find ways to save the farm. Indeed, many have gone under.

Our system gives farmers that kind of certainty and an ability to pay attention to their future. They can also make huge investments in their farms. They are much more likely to have agreeable financial institutions when they are coming forward with their plans for upgrading their farm because a financial institution can look at what their quota is, what the price is and make an extrapolation on what their earnings will be in future years. It is a bedrock of stability for so many small communities across Canada.

I have talked about the production control and price control elements of the system, which I have to emphasize are incredibly important for local food security. We do want to have prices that are manageable, both for the consumer and for the person who is producing it. I think that it is very important that farmers are paid an adequate amount for the work that they do.

The third pillar, which is also very important and especially pertinent to the debate that we are having here on Bill C-216, is import control. When we look at these three pillars, reference has repeatedly been made to a three-legged stool, and if we remove one of those pillars, the stool is going to fall over. Import control is incredibly important, because our system is carefully designed to look after the needs of the domestic market.

Whenever we have a trade deal come into effect that opens up more and more of our supply-managed market, we are bringing in those foreign products and, in some cases, those foreign products are not farmed to the same standards we Canadians are used to. For example, in the United States, bovine growth hormone is used in cows to increase the production of milk, which may not have an impact on the end product, but it does have an impact on the health, safety and well-being of the cows that are producing the dairy product in the first place. I know that Canadians have a very real interest in seeing that farm animals are treated well and humanely.

This is a huge issue, and trust me, I have been here now for almost six years, so I have heard all of the promises from the Liberals in government about how they brought in supply management and are the defenders of supply management, but if we look at the record, at successive trade deals that were set up, first with CPTPP, then with CETA and now with CUSMA, it is like a death by a thousand cuts. Each one of our sectors has seen increasing percentages of its domestic market share slivered off and given away to foreign competition. Products that had tariff rate quotas are now coming in tariff-free as a result.

Now when consumers go to market shelves, they see they might have more flexibility in buying European cheeses. However, when it comes to homegrown products, we hear repeatedly from Canadians, whenever we survey, that there is a very real interest in supporting local farmers. However, suddenly we are seeing products in there like American milk products, and we do not know how many miles the product has travelled or what kind of processes were put in place during its manufacture. This is a very real concern to people, and it is a very real concern to the family farms that operate in small rural communities right across Canada, just like those in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.

I have mentioned the three trade deals, and Bill C-216 is proposing to amend an existing statute, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act, by adding a new section under the existing section 10, which would basically make sure that whenever the minister is negotiating trade agreements our supply management system is exempted. The new section 2.1 would read:

In exercising and performing the powers, duties and functions set out in subsection (2), the Minister must not make any commitment on behalf of the Government of Canada, by international trade treaty or agreement that would have the effect of

(a) increasing the tariff rate quota...or

(b) reducing the tariff applicable to those goods when they are imported in excess of the applicable tariff rate quota.

Essentially, the bill would spell it out in legislation and put action behind the flowery words that we have heard repeated in the House of Commons so many times.

To conclude, I personally will remain a strong supporter of supply management, not only for the farms in my area but also for the farms across Canada. As the NDP's critic for agriculture and agri-food, I am pleased to give my full support to seeing Bill C-216 proceed to the Standing Committee on International Trade.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

March 9th, 2021 / 6 p.m.
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Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking everyone who participated in this debate, which is wrapping up tonight and will conclude tomorrow with a second reading vote.

I would especially like to thank my leader for his support for Bill C-216 and for always putting agriculture at the top of his political agenda. I would also like to thank our agriculture critic, the member for Berthier—Maskinongé, for the time and effort he put into supporting this bill. He and the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot even travelled around all the regions. At the end of their tour, they came to one conclusion: support for Bill C-216 is crucial. That is what they heard from every leader in the agricultural sector.

I would like to extend a special thanks to Mr. Groleau, president of the Union des producteurs agricoles, who sent a two-page-long letter to all party leaders in the House, asking them to support the bill. Here is part of that letter:

It is time to face the facts. Giving up guaranteed Canadian market share to foreign markets in exchange for potential, and sometimes unlikely, gains is not sustainable. Parliament must take a clear position that reflects your respective commitments in favour of supply management. It is very important to us that you support Bill C-216.

Will this letter, which was sent to all party leaders, be tossed in the trash? No, we must take this message into account and reflect carefully before voting, because it is important to all farm production in Quebec and Canada.

Essentially, the bill simply asks to respect the fact that Quebec and Canada have different agricultural models, based more on agricultural autonomy than on milk, egg and poultry exports. Under international trade rules, certain sensitive products can be protected. All countries have sectors whose products are kept off the table in international negotiations. Why should it be any different for Canada? Why could we not do the same? Supply management is a perfect case.

We are not asking the export sectors to stop exporting. We are simply asking that supply management no longer be used as a bargaining chip at every round of international negotiations to expand market opportunities for certain products. Today we are asking parliamentarians to do something non-partisan that is good for farmers in western Canada, Ontario, Quebec or the Maritimes, and would allow thousands of families to earn a decent living and support thousands of others.

Let us not forget that every farm represents several families. Across Canada, more than 20,000 family farms are supply managed; we are talking about 20,000 businesses and quite a few families. Are we going to jeopardize so many lives and livelihoods? I do not think so.

I know that everyone in the House is appreciative and proud of the work that our farmers do across Canada. Voting for Bill C-216 does not mean voting against the other producers, who are not losing anything, but voting for the farmers and processors who chose a different farming model. It means voting to defend their values and their way of life, which represents rural living and respecting our agriculture.

Therefore, I humbly ask my dear colleagues to act without partisanship so that our regions will no longer have to fight their government to prosper, develop and, above all, to feed us.

Tomorrow, let us stand together to support our supply-managed producers. Lets us stand together to support responsible and sustainable production. Let us stand together to preserve our family farms. Let us stand together so that our farmers get a fair price at the farm gate. Let us stand together to encourage our next generation of farmers to invest with confidence in agriculture. Let us stand together to ensure our food sovereignty. Finally, let us stand together and say loud and clear that there will be no more breaches in supply management.

We ask a lot of our producers. Tomorrow, they deserve our support.

Canada—United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

March 9th, 2021 / 6:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, tonight we are debating Bill C-18, which is the continuity agreement of the relationship between Canada and the United Kingdom. It is always a privilege to bring a voice from the people of Kings—Hants to Parliament, but this agreement in particular is important to Nova Scotia. As a member of Parliament from the east coast, the United Kingdom's proximity geographically makes this an important trading relationship for agriculture producers in my riding and also businesses writ large. The basis of my remarks tonight will be how this continuity agreement is so important to maintaining those open relationships and that business relationship, as well.

Canada is a trading nation. We have what the world wants, whether it is our natural resource products, our services or our ingenuity. We are an important player in serving countries' needs around the world. It has certainly been a focus of our government to establish trading relationships to be able to provide our products to the world. As has already been established, this bill is relatively straightforward. The government had already established a strong trading relationship with the European Union through CETA. This is a confirmation ensuring those provisions that had been established, and that included the United Kingdom, which has now gone through the Brexit program, would continue. Our government has also illustrated its desire to make sure that we can sit down with the United Kingdom and look at a comprehensive agreement to establish even greater ties between our two countries, if there is room for them, which I presume there is.

I want to talk a bit, as a Nova Scotia parliamentarian, about how I see our future trade agreement, whether it be further in scope or as this existing continuity agreement, and what it means to our businesses. I will say again that agriculture is the backbone of our economy in Kings—Hants. There are supply-managed farms such as poultry, eggs and dairy, about which we have heard a lot tonight with Bill C-216, but we are also world-famous for our apple products. There is a long history, in the Annapolis Valley particularly, about our particular apple species, and it has been a source of pride shipped around the world.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Kentville research station, funded through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. It has over 100 years of history in our riding, and a lot of the research that goes on through the Kentville research station supports our farmers by making sure they have varieties the world really wants.

For the benefit of the members in the House here tonight, every apple sold in London during World War II, and certainly for a period after that time, was produced in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. I think that signifies the trading relationship our region has with the Commonwealth countries around the world.

I talked to our apple producers specifically about what this continuity agreement means. We have a huge reliance on the United States, as do many other places across the country, but they see this as an opportunity to re-establish some of those prior trading relationships with the United Kingdom, because of our proximity. I do not expect that overnight 100% of the apples sold in London will be from the Annapolis valley. We have diversified our markets globally, but there are opportunities to build on those existing relationships and our cultural ties.

I also want to speak a little about our wine sector. We have a quality wine sector that is gaining international recognition, and I am one of the biggest proponents of reducing our interprovincial trade barriers, such that our Nova Scotia producers are able to sell their product across the country to Canadians who want it. At the federal level, our government has removed any impediments to that. We have a lot of work to do with some specific provinces, and it is something I continue to call for, both within this House and outside. There is also an opportunity to make sure that our world-leading product can find its way to consumers around the world, and with the fact that our sector has seen significant growth we have an opportunity to have these products find their way to consumers in the United Kingdom, who I am sure would be happy to pick up a Tidal Bay, one of our destination originators in the Annapolis Valley.

I will be interested to see where some of my colleagues on the other side of the House go with this particular piece of legislation. Sometimes, of course, there is criticism, when we are forging trade deals, that there can be repercussions to the agriculture sector. This is an example in which our government stood firm. I cannot speak to the Minister of International Trade's dialogue, because I am not at the table.

I am quite confident that the United Kingdom would have been looking at gaining access to our supply-managed sectors. That was something our government was unwilling to do because of how important that sector is to rural communities across the country, including mine in Kings—Hants.

Part of the discussion here tonight will be comparing and contrasting. I heard some colleagues trying to suggest that our government had been unwavering or not necessarily supportive of this sector. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we look at the past United States administration under President Trump, it seemed that every second word was focused on the dairy industry. We knew that this was not going to solve the issues related to the American dairy industry and its oversupply. In fact, many U.S. producers actually talk about trying to implement a system similar to Canada's, in the sense that we have some ability to control supply. It is becoming even more important, in the world of low carbon emissions, to be mindful of climate change and producing product that is not going to be used. It was something that the President really wanted to push.

We maintained the integrity of the system. I have heard members from the Bloc talk in the House about Bill C-216. I believe they supported the implementation of CUSMA. I believe the Premier of Quebec was calling on all parliamentarians to support this provision. In fact, the former interim leader of the Conservative Party, Rona Ambrose, talked about how it was the best deal that Canada could strike.

I am proud of how the government responded to protecting that system. I contrast that with, for example, the previous government. We talk about CETA. We were really down the road by the time it was implemented, but the member for Abbotsford could probably speak to it. It was a different situation politically, in terms of the pressure and expectation of our government to give up access to make that trade deal happen. That is something I highlight to my dairy farmers when I have the chance. They seem to appreciate that nuance.

Any suggestion, whether in tonight's debate or otherwise in the House, that this party is not committed to supply management is false.

Finally, I want to talk about the cultural ties between the United Kingdom and Canada, but specifically Nova Scotia. We have a lot of shared history. For example, in Nova Scotia we have the largest Gaelic-speaking population outside of Scotland. There is a long history of immigration from the United Kingdom, and Scotland specifically, to Nova Scotia. My great-grandfather has ties to Wales and a Welsh background. My fiancée has ties to Scotland.

As I mentioned, this trade deal presents an opportunity not only to the economy and to business relationships, selling services and goods back and forth, but also to further integrate and ensure that we have opportunities, whether for tourism or research between institutions academically, to strengthen the ties that we have with a country that we are still a dominion of, to make sure that we can support our businesses and individuals, and make sure those cultural ties are strong and remain robust.

I would be happy to take any questions from my hon. colleagues.

Canada—United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

March 9th, 2021 / 6:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by saying that I am rising as the Bloc Québécois critic for international trade.

As we have said, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-18 on the Canada-United Kingdom trade continuity agreement, but not enthusiastically so. Our position is and always has been clear. We support trade openness, which is necessary for our SMEs, and we support market diversification. Given our history, it is particularly interesting for us to see that it is possible for a country that is becoming independent or regaining its independence and trade sovereignty, like the United Kingdom is after Brexit, to quickly reproduce the agreements that were previously signed by the large bargaining group it is leaving.

Of course, the new country then has to renegotiate the agreements on a more permanent basis, but there is no black hole. There is no period of limbo when the newly independent country has no trade partners or international agreements. As Quebec separatists, we find this quite interesting, and we are taking notes. We have taken notes about this process, and we will be ready to address the issues and dispel the fears that Parliament is sure to raise next time Quebec's future is up for discussion.

We are in favour of open trade, but we will never give free trade our complacent and unconditional support if it compromises our agricultural model, harms the environment, supports the privatization of public services or makes it harder for our businesses to get contracts, nor will we support agreements that could undermine sovereignty and democracy for the benefit of profit-driven multinationals.

If we look at the Canada-United Kingdom trade continuity agreement, or CUKTCA, it looks like the worst was avoided. Supply management has not been chipped away at, thank goodness. Sadly, that job had already been done with the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, or CETA.

In the end, this agreement is not particularly bold, but it does allow us to maintain access in the short term. I say “short term” because this agreement is supposed to be transitional. Let us not forget that we must reach a permanent agreement later.

When we talk about free trade, it always sounds very abstract, but in reality, at the grass roots level, it ends up feeling quite concrete. This bill is very likely to pass in the next few hours, and there is nothing stopping us from looking ahead now.

There is something frustrating about this kind of process. It has to do with the fact that we, as parliamentarians, always end up rubber stamping an agreement as it is presented to us. The text is there, here it is, there is nothing more to say. We are never consulted beforehand, when we should be consulted before the negotiators even go to negotiate. We should be able to give them mandates. We are parliamentarians; we are here to represent the positions of our constituents. We should be consulted far more often. We should be given reports at different stages of the negotiations. Unfortunately, we do not get any of that.

That is why one of the first things we need to do right now is demand more transparency. The provinces and parliamentarians need to be more involved in future discussions. The elected members of the House of Commons are responsible for protecting the interests and values of their constituents. They are not just here to rubber-stamp agreements that have been negotiated in secret. We are not just puppets.

Between 2000 and 2004, the Bloc Québécois introduced a number of bills on this matter in the House. With the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, our colleagues in the Liberal Party and the NDP came to an agreement on sharing more information with elected members. The Deputy Prime Minister made a commitment at the time. Unfortunately, although this seemed like a step in the right direction, the government asked us before Christmas to study the agreement with the United Kingdom without letting us see the agreement itself. We heard from witnesses like the Minister of International Trade, but we could not read the agreement.

That was when we needed it. Can members imagine how ludicrous and absurd this was? The Standing Committee on International Trade had to study this agreement without having a copy of the text. I do not think members realize the absurdity of it all.

As parliamentarians, we must be kept informed at every step of the process, even before the negotiator steps on a plane or prepares for the virtual meeting. This would prevent parliamentarians from having to speak to an agreement without having the information needed to make a well-thought-out decision. The negotiations would be more transparent.

With regard to the provinces, members will recall that during the negotiations with Europe, which led to the ratification of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement in 2017, Quebec was able to send a representative when talks were held. However, Quebec was not invited to attend by Canada, but rather it was invited by Europe, as the European Union had to go through the parliaments of its member states and therefore requested that the Canadian provinces be present.

The Canada-United Kingdom trade continuity agreement contains elements that the Quebec representative fought for. As a result, under the grandfather clause, the Société de transport de Montréal has a local content requirement of 25% in the procurement of rail cars, buses and so on.

That is a step backward from what we had before the agreement with Europe, but we can still say that we managed to salvage something in this new agreement with the United Kingdom. That did not happen because Canada fought for it, but because it was copied and pasted from CETA. That will be obvious when there is a permanent agreement, which is one more reason why the provinces and parliamentarians should come to an agreement before the negotiations in order to be able to give the negotiators clear mandates.

Quebec and the provinces can officially refuse to apply an agreement on their territory. We are taking a strong stand on extending Quebec's jurisdictions beyond its borders, something that the Privy Council in London acknowledged decades ago in a decision that led to the adoption of the Gérin-Lajoie doctrine, which is very important in Quebec.

In the end, independence is the only way we will be able to advocate for ourselves on the world stage. The Canadian negotiator will always be predisposed to protect Canada's interests at the expense of Quebec's. Until then, we have to do whatever we can to have our voice heard.

It is time for Parliament to look at procedures to give elected members more control over agreements. We have no choice. The minister responsible for ratifying an agreement should be required to table in Parliament an explanatory memorandum and provide a reasonable timeframe for obtaining the approval of parliamentarians before any ratification. This should be the bare minimum in the Parliament of a so-called democratic country. This should go without saying.

Let us also talk about what we might anticipate. I gave the example of awarding contracts and there has been much talk of buying local since the beginning of this pandemic. Fortunately, supply management currently remains protected, but we know that the United Kingdom would like to export more cheese. We dodged a bullet for now, but the permanent agreement could be worse and cause us problems in the future. I would say that is why we must adopt Bill C-216, which protects supply management and our agriculture model in its entirety. It would spare us from any new bad surprises. Our dairy, poultry and egg farmers have given enough. Enough is enough.

Another very important element, and this is one of the reasons we support the bill, is the infamous investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, which will not apply for at least another two years. In fact, it may not come into effect in two years if there is no agreement within the EU.

Let us imagine a political fiction scenario. Imagine those two years have gone by and there is an agreement with the European countries, that kind of mechanism is in place, and there is no further discussion about a permanent agreement. The parties would have to use something such as an exchange of letters for it to apply. Furthermore, this cannot be part of any future agreement. Most fortunately, the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement eliminated that possibility.

This is a very serious issue. Chapter 11 of the 1994 NAFTA included protection of foreign investors in a given state and enabled those investors, if expropriated, or the victims of what is known as the equivalent of an expropriation, to sue the state in an arbitration tribunal created for this purpose.

On paper, this seems to make sense. When a company invests money somewhere, it obviously does not want to fall victim to the policies of the local government. However, when we look at what it means in concrete terms, we realize that what is in there is extremely serious. There is a real risk of applying the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism to all rules or laws of an economic nature that could be detrimental to private profit. Could this open the door to the potential dismantling of national policies? It is certainly becoming increasingly difficult for governments to legislate on issues related to social justice, the environment, working conditions and public health, for example. If a given transnational corporation believes it has been hampered in its ability to make a profit, it will have recourse. My colleagues may be wondering exactly what that means. First of all, I would point out that trade litigation generally take a long time and is therefore extremely lucrative for law firms. A document from two non-governmental organizations has already demonstrated how eager large firms specializing in trade law are to engage in complex litigation.

Over the past few years, fewer multilateral agreements have been signed, but this does not change the fact that there are more than 3,000 bilateral investment protection treaties in the world. I will give one example and I will again be asked what this means in concrete terms. I will give a list of the trade actions against states resulting from these mechanisms. It is chilling.

In 1997, Canada decided to restrict the import and distribution of MMT, a fuel additive, which was believed to be toxic. Ethyl Corporation filed a suit against the Canadian government for an apology and $201 million.

In 1998, S.D. Myers Inc. filed a complaint against Canada concerning the ban on exporting waste containing PCBs between 1995 and 1997. PCBs are synthetic chemical products that are extremely toxic and used in electrical equipment. Canada lost before the tribunal established under NAFTA.

In 2004, under NAFTA, Cargill, a producer of carbonated soft drinks, won $90.7 million U.S. from Mexico, which was convicted of creating a tax on certain soft drinks that caused a serious obesity epidemic in the country.

In 2008, Dow AgroSciences filed a complaint after Quebec took steps to prohibit the sale and use of certain pesticides on lawns. The case was settled amicably once Quebec, which wanted to put an end to the challenge, agreed to acknowledge that the products posed no risk as long as users read the label.

There are many other examples. In 2009, the Pacific Rim Mining Corporation sued El Salvador for the loss of potential profits. El Salvador had refused to issue a permit for a gold mine because the company was not complying with national standards. El Salvador finally won the case in 2016. At least the government won, but the plaintiff only paid two-thirds of the defence's legal fees. El Salvador is obviously not rolling in money. The $4 million U.S. that this struggling country lost could have gone towards social programs.

In 2010, AbitibiBowater closed some of its facilities in Newfoundland and laid off hundreds of employees. The provincial government responded by taking over its hydroelectric assets. AbitibiBowater did not accept that and filed suit. To avoid a lengthy legal battle, Ottawa offered the company $130 million. There was an amicable agreement with a cheque on the way out.

In AbitibiBowater there is the name Abitibi. Abitibi is in Quebec, which unfortunately is still part of Canada. Considering that its headquarters are in Montreal, how is it a foreign investor?

This goes to show all the schemes that are at play. The company is registered in Delaware, a tax haven, in order to present itself as a foreign investor.

Let us look at other examples. In 2010, Tampa Electric got $25 million from Guatemala, which passed legislation to put a cap on electricity rates. The complaint, which dated to the previous year, was made under the Central America free trade agreement. In 2012, the Veolia group went after Egypt because of that country's decision to increase the minimum wage.

There are many other examples, but it would take a long time to list them all. The most recent case dates back to 2013, when Lone Pine Resources announced its intention to sue Ottawa because of Quebec's moratorium on drilling in the St. Lawrence.

It all goes to show that the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism allows democracy to be hijacked by powerful multinationals whose only goal is to make a profit.

As I was saying earlier, it is important to note that many companies were suing their own country, when there was a way to register or incorporate elsewhere. Fortunately, the transnational corporations did not always win these cases, but they continue to multiply. States must provide the financial and technical resources to defend themselves. This mechanism is one-sided. The government is always the defendant, while the multinational corporation is always the plaintiff.

According to a 2013 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 42% of the cases were decided in favour of the state and 31% in favour of the business. The rest were settled out of court. That means that the plaintiffs were able to fully or partially rebuff the states' political and democratic will in 60% of cases.

These numbers are enormous, but they do not reveal an unquantifiable factor: the permanent pressure of this mechanism on states. Public policy-makers are censoring themselves. Behind departmental doors, they are deciding not to apply such and such a policy because they do not want to be sued. This pressure and self-censorship is real. A 2014 report by the Directorate-General for External Policies of the European Union said this clearly served a a deterrent during policy decision-making.

I will give an example. In 2012, Australia imposed plain packaging for cigarette packs, banning the use of logos. The tobacco company Philip Morris International, which had also sued Uruguay in 2010 for its tobacco policies, sued the Australian government based on a treaty between Hong Kong and Australia. As that was going on, New Zealand decided to suspend the coming into force of its plain packaging policy, and the United Kingdom decided to postpone the debate that was supposed to begin on the matter. As we can see, there is an atmosphere of self-censorship. France waited three years before implementing this policy within its borders.

Multinational corporations are sometimes more powerful than governments, and if the will of the people, or even their safety, might affect profits, they are pushed aside. This is extremely serious. Especially in these pandemic times, we do not need this mechanism in future agreements. If it does not apply in the short term in the agreement with the United Kingdom, that is even better. We will do everything we can to ensure that it never applies. We demand that Canada oppose it in future negotiations with the United Kingdom for the permanent agreement.

Canada—United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

March 9th, 2021 / 7:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I suspect that my esteemed colleague is not disinterested in the issue. That said, I understand his total devotion to agriculture and supply management.

Agriculture is a jewel, and our model is based on food sovereignty and land use. We must protect and defend it. Farmers have heard enough empty promises.

I am very concerned about what comes next, not just a potential permanent agreement with the United Kingdom, but also the fact that the United Kingdom could join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, and then hold quotas. The same goes for the United States, which withdrew from the CPTPP and did not get its hands on the quota that had already been released. That could happen with both the United Kingdom and the United States. I am quite concerned about that.

Because we toured Quebec together virtually last week, my colleague obviously knows that we have to pass Bill C-216 and never touch our agricultural model again.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

November 24th, 2020 / 5:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, QC

moved that Bill C-216, An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act (supply management), be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on International Trade.

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time that we have heard about supply management in the House. Every time that a motion is introduced on the issue, there is a unanimous vote and it seems that the matter is settled.

In fact, the House has already unanimously adopted three motions calling on the federal government to fully protect supply management. By all accounts, however, Liberal and Conservative governments were not bound by their commitment when they signed the last three free trade agreements, those with the European union, Asia-Pacific and the United States and Mexico. These agreements and the concessions that were made to reach them were catastrophic for supply-managed agricultural producers. Their revenues dropped by more than 8.4%.

Supply management has always been a key issue for the Bloc Québécois. This system was established in 1970 to stabilize the price of agricultural products and, at the same time, ensure a decent and predictable income for dairy farmers, table and hatching egg producers and poultry producers, including turkey and of course chicken.

During the time that the Bloc enjoyed a greater presence in the House of Commons and was strongly pushing for full respect for supply management, all free trade agreements with 16 different countries fully protected the supply management system. The strong pressure and numerous interventions by the Bloc made a difference.

The World Trade Organization, or WTO, was established with the goal of eliminating all tariff barriers, and the WTO considered supply management to be one of them. Protecting supply management became an even greater priority for the Bloc Québécois after the federal election that followed the system's creation in June 1977, as any occasion the WTO had to talk about it turned into a direct attack.

The Bloc Québécois was the first party to demand that the three pillars of supply management be maintained, in a motion moved by the former member for Richmond—Arthabaska, André Bellavance, in November 2005. I remind members that the House unanimously passed this motion. All parties in the House adopted André Bellavance's motion, which read as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should give its negotiators a mandate during the negotiations at the World Trade Organization so that, at the end of the current round of negotiations, Canada obtains results that ensure that the supply management sectors are subject to no reduction in over-quota tariffs and no increase in tariff quotas, so that these sectors can continue to provide producers with a fair and equitable income.

This motion did not have unanimous support when it was moved, but it passed unanimously at the end of the day, after different groups of producers put pressure on their members of Parliament throughout the day.

Today the Bloc wants to go further than a motion and insert protection of supply management into legislation. We want to go further because the major Canadian parties in power do not seem to feel bound by the commitment that a motion represents. I suppose they think of it as more of a wish. We want protection of supply management inserted in a statute so that it is given force of law.

Then the governments, whether Liberal or Conservative, could no longer ignore their commitments to agriculture and the producers could see who really has their interest at heart. It is important to remember that in Quebec alone, dairy, egg and poultry producers represent 6,000 farms and 86,000 jobs.

With the exception of Ontario and Alberta, all of the other provinces have supply-managed producers so it would be disastrous if supply management disappeared.

I would like to talk about the bill that I am introducing on behalf of the Bloc Québécois. It is very simple. It amends the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act to make the protection of the supply management system a responsibility of the minister. It adds supply management to the list of directives that the minister must take into account when conducting Canadian external affairs, particularly in the area of international trade.

Once the bill is fully implemented, the minister responsible for international trade will have to stand up to our trade partners and protect supply-managed farmers. The bill will make it part of the minister's mandate to negotiate without chipping away at the system, as he did when the three biggest international trade agreements of the past decade were signed. Of course, I am talking about the agreements with Europe, Asia-Pacific and the United States and Mexico.

Supply management is a Canada-wide risk management tool that is designed to protect agricultural markets from price fluctuations. By doing so, it guarantees a fair and stable income for farmers in exchange for their work and their products.

In Canada, only the markets for dairy, table eggs, hatching eggs, and poultry, meaning chicken and turkey, are under supply management. The system is based on three basic principles, often known as the three pillars. Dairy farmers used to give their elected representatives a little three-legged stool like the ones used for milking cows years ago. If an MP displayed that symbol on their desk, it meant they supported supply management.

The first pillar is production control via a quota system. Based on research about consumption, meaning consumer demand for dairy products, the Canadian Dairy Commission distributes quotas to each province, whose marketing boards or what are known as producer associations sell quotas to their own farmers. That ensures production is aligned with domestic demand.

The second pillar is price regulation through the establishment of a minimum price and a maximum price, so that each link in the supply chain gets its fair share.

The third pillar is border control. Obviously, if we do not skew the global market, we cannot allow other countries to skew our market. That is why we use border controls to set very high tariffs and purchasing quotas to prevent foreign products or by-products from flooding our market.

For instance, there might be times when our chicken or egg farmers do not produce enough, and that is when chicken and eggs are allowed in to meet this country's needs and avoid overproduction. The principle of border control is very important and is always the one that comes under attack in international negotiations.

It is this aspect that has been weakened considerably by international agreements. Canada is opening an ever-widening door in our markets for foreign companies to sell their products here. On top of that, international trade standards are constantly seeking to reduce the tariff levels. Our largest trading partners would like to see these tariffs disappear completely, and thus abolish supply management.

For example, without supply management, an American egg producer that produces one million eggs a day could overrun the Canadian market, cut prices and ultimately take control. Border controls are very important, and that is where the government always folds. It caves, often using supply management as a bargaining chip. Since the government is supposed to represent all Canadians and since supply management is a federal program, the Bloc Québécois simply wants the Prime Minister and the Liberal party to keep the promise they have made more than once to stop making concessions at the expense of supply-managed producers.

On at least 20 occasions over the past 15 years, I have heard a prime minister or an agriculture minister commit to fully defending supply management in future negotiations of a treaty. That is not what happened in the last three agreements. The concessions made in these negotiations instead resulted in income losses for producers in the order of 8.4% to 10%. Some will say that Canada is very vast. That is the argument we are given from time to time. We are told that it is impossible to create effective Canada-wide policies that benefit all the provinces. What is more, some experts believe that applying one standardized program nationwide in agriculture or in other sectors will not stand the test of time and will make it more difficult to resolve regional problems that crop up. That was the main argument we were given for conceding part of supply management.

The second argument is that supply management does not make a substantial contribution to Canada's gross domestic product. It represents approximately 2%, so that is a good excuse for sacrificing a little bit in every negotiation. This argument fails to consider that this is a very important economic sector for Quebec and Ontario. Supply-managed goods account for about 40% of Quebec's agricultural revenues, or $3.4 billion out of $8.9 billion. Quebec's dairy sector has revenues of $2.4 billion. That is twice the amount of agricultural revenue from the pork sector, which is an excellent export sector and contributes $1.2 billion a year.

These are different agricultural markets, but the agricultural sector as a whole is very important. The problem also stems from the fact that most supply-managed production occurs in Ontario and Quebec, representing 70%. Crops such as beef, grains and oilseeds are grown for export. The government is always looking to expand markets, but supply management must not be given up in exchange for these markets. That is the problem.

Supply management has survived 16 agreements. It needs to survive any future agreements as well. This system accounts for $8.7 billion of our GDP and $2 billion in economic spinoffs. Without this policy, the agricultural sector could lose 58,000 to 80,000 jobs. On top of that, half of this country's dairy exports would be compromised.

In closing, I want to remind members that Canada is currently negotiating with five countries that are part of Mercosur, which also includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela and Bolivia. This bill must be passed before these agreements are concluded. I urge all members to unanimously support this bill, as we did with the previous motions.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

November 24th, 2020 / 6 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is high time we had a man for prime minister who behaves like someone who understands the farming community and especially Canadians from rural areas.

Our message is clear and will remain clear: Canada must restore agriculture to its former glory and give it the recognition it deserves. It is just wrong that neither the current agriculture minister nor her predecessor were directly involved in the negotiations for the trade agreements that became the TPP, CETA and CUSMA.

The future prime minister of Canada, the leader of the Conservative Party, will rectify this situation. We are here tonight to talk about supply management. Before I talk about the Liberals' failures on supply management, of which there are many, I want to clearly state our party's position on supply management.

The Conservative leader made clear commitments during the leadership race. He made it clear and reiterated, in his discussions with the dairy industry, that there will be no further concessions in future trade agreement negotiations. He will protect supply management. He will respect supply management for our dairy and poultry farms and, most importantly, he will make sure that all farm families are involved in trade negotiations, or any other program affecting the sector, through the Minister of Agriculture, who will be at the table, not sitting somewhere else, away from the negotiations. He will allow more flexibility in allocating the management of farm assistance programs. He will not create a milk lottery, as the previous government did. Above all, he pledged to pay out all the promised compensation, while providing flexibility in how it is allocated so it is done in the way producers want.

Much more than that, a Conservative government will raise the possibility and want to renegotiate the overall limits on skim milk powder exports that were given away by the current government. A Conservative government will modernize and improve agricultural risk management programs to help producers deal with all the crises they are currently facing.

A Conservative government, and I think that this is very important right now, will also ask the Competition Bureau to investigate the impacts of abusive trade practices concentrated in the grocery industry. We know about it, and we are hearing about it these days: huge amounts of money are being demanded just to put products on grocery store shelves. This is unacceptable.

We believe it is very important to protect the food security of Canada and we recognize that supply management is an element that is essential to the success of Canadian agriculture.

Unfortunately, although Bill C-216 sets out to protect supply management in the context of future trade agreements, it could wind up doing the opposite.

First, everyone here in the House knows that any new trade agreement would be the subject of new legislation in which the Liberal government could amend Bill C-216 as it sees fit. That is what happened with the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement. The government proved that when it shamelessly opened up supply management by giving the Americans a say in the tariff schedule and when it shamelessly allowed the United States to limit our exports of skim milk powder.

Second, if this bill passes, we can be sure that potential trade partners will target supply management right off the bat and counter with their own protectionist measures. This is like drawing the other side's attention to a specific negotiation issue that could well force Canada to agree to new concessions, which would be written into a bill approving the framework agreement, and all because we ourselves put the issue on the table.

That is exactly what happened during the latest negotiations for the Canada-United States-Mexico free trade agreement. Members may recall that the United States' first target was Mexico.

I met with a representative of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. Congress at the beginning of the negotiations. The message they sent us was to stay calm, but then the Prime Minister of Canada got involved.

He wanted an agreement that was progressive and environmentally friendly, and he got the attention of Donald Trump. He gave in on supply management, and Canada had to struggle just to remain in this important agreement for our economy. Dairy, egg and poultry producers paid the price as the Liberals modified the existing laws to be able to give up more of our market to the United States. This is the reality.

The main purpose of Bill C-216 is to protect supply management. That is also the Conservative Party's goal.

We do not believe that Bill C-216 is a good bill to protect supply management and Canadian producers.

It is important to protect our family farms because the Liberal Party does not keep its promises and is unreliable when it comes to its relationships with supply-managed farmers, and because farmers were regrettably the only ones who were sacrificed at the negotiating table by the Liberal government's negotiating teams for the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement.

In Quebec, you cannot go one kilometre between two municipalities without seeing farms, dairy farms and all kinds of farms. Farmers reign supreme in Quebec's rural regions. If they were not there to pay taxes, there would be no more rural regions. If they were not there to maintain roads, there would be no more rural regions. We need our farmers.

The Conservative Party of Canada heard the message of producers from all the regions in Quebec. I heard it in Mégantic—L'Érable. Like the majority of my colleagues, I received 50 or so letters from producers in my riding. We have all gotten them. Their message was very clear.

People wrote that Canada's dairy farmers have had to deal with the fact that major concessions were made in recent trade agreements. By 2024, 18% of their domestic dairy production will have been ceded to foreign dairy producers. They are the ones who will provide the milk in dairy products that will end up on the shelves in our grocery stores. The concessions amount to a loss in revenue estimated at $450 million a year for dairy farmers and their families. That loss has a major and lasting impact on their farms and their communities, including their capacity to plan for the future of their families. For more than two years, and more recently in the Speech from the Throne, dairy farmers have been promised compensation. Dairy farmers were pleased to see that full compensation remains a priority, but actions speak louder than words.

That is where things go sideways in the letter we received.

The letter goes on to say that, in 2019, the government announced compensation spread out over eight years of $1.75 billion for the CETA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Despite requests for clarification and even though the first year was delivered, the farmers have yet to receive any detail on the balance for the remaining seven years. The uncertainty that comes with such an approach makes it very hard to plan the future of their farms.

Every member of the House received the same set of letters from dairy farmers across Canada. They are worried.

The letter ends with the statement that farmers believe that a promise made should be a promise kept. The time has come to keep their promises. What are the goods? What will the Liberals deliver? The Liberals' compensation plan was announced just before the 2019 election. They promised to cut a cheque the day after the election. There has been nothing more since the election. There has been total silence. There has not been one word about the seven other years or about compensation for 2020, even though there are fewer than 40 days left in the year. There has been not one word about 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, or 2026. There has not been one word about the next phase of the plan. I am only talking about dairy producers. There has not been one word about egg and poultry producers who were also promised compensation. They have not even seen the shadow of a red cent despite repeated promises by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Dairy processors have been treated to the same worrisome silence by the Liberals, who boast about defending supply management, but only talk about it when an election is on the horizon. We may hear about it because we have a minority government and there could be an election sooner than we think. Again, the Liberals take an interest in dairy producers only when there is an election.

Did I take the time to talk about the agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico? That is the most recent trade agreement where the Liberals caved on supply management. Has anyone heard the Liberal government talking about a compensation plan? Have we heard anything about the full compensation promised by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food that she mentioned again today in the House? Where is their plan? The plan for the agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico simply does not exist because the Liberals are incapable of keeping their promises.

The Liberals are all talk and no action. We cannot trust them. At minimum, farmers should be able to get answers from the government to ensure the economic viability of their farms. That is the top priority for helping them to get through the pandemic.

I would like to end with a quote from the chair of the Producteurs de lait du Québec, who aptly described farmers' immediate needs. He said:

We should not have to fight this battle over again every year to obtain compensation that was already announced! Our farms also have to budget and need to know whether they can count on the money that was promised to them for the next seven years.

The Liberals are incapable of keeping their promises, but the Conservatives will keep their promises to supply-managed farmers.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

November 24th, 2020 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to have this opportunity to talk about Canada's supply management system and to support a bill that will prevent the government from further undermining the agricultural sector during free trade agreement negotiations.

Supply management is very important to a number of agricultural sectors in Canada. It ensures a decent income for farmers and fair prices for consumers. It is part of a vision for a more co-operative economy.

Supply management is also part of the NDP way of thinking. A long time ago, the NDP's predecessor, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, included individuals such as Thérèse Casgrain. More recently, former MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau was a staunch defender of the supply management sector, specifically dairy production.

The agricultural sector is a very important sector, but the Canadian government has sold it out repeatedly during international trade agreement negotiations. It happened with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and Europe, or CETA, and again with the recent Canada-United States-Mexico agreement.

The markets in other countries, and especially the dairy market in the United States, are very competitive. The United States would like to see us adopt their dairy market. As a result of all of the concessions that the Canadian government made while negotiating free trade agreements, our industry has been getting more similar to the U.S. market.

Dairy farmers in the U.S. are currently in crisis, and some of them are taking their own lives because their farms are no longer profitable. This is not because they cannot produce enough, but because they produce too much. The economic model would have them produce more and more and try to develop export markets, but that model does not work.

Some Canadian dairy farmers own businesses that are smaller than those in the United States. They have a stable, decent income. They produce all of the dairy products that Canadians need. This system works very well.

The supply management industry is under attack for essentially ideological reasons. The supply management system is important, and we must do more.

Canadian governments of all stripes have consistently failed to properly protect the supply management system.

What can we do?

The government does not give Parliament much space or much of a role in these negotiation processes. We saw this with CUSMA, and we are now seeing it again with the agreement between the United Kingdom and Canada. Parliament often does not get to see the text of these free trade agreements before they are signed. By then, there is very little time left to debate the bill before the components of the agreement are implemented.

When could Parliament have an influence on the negotiating process? It has not been for lack of trying in the past. In five years, I have seen several members ask questions about this issue while negotiations were under way. Once the agreement is signed and provided to Parliament, parliamentarians and Canadians, it is too late, and that is when we see that concessions have been made in the supply-managed sectors.

I think that Bill C-216 is important for defending not only supply management, but also the concept, which I strongly support, that Parliament needs to be more involved in the negotiation process.

I heard my Conservative colleague say that he did not like this bill because if the issue of supply management were put on the table, our free trade partners might target these sectors more. However, I do not think that we can defend supply management by ignoring it. That does not seem to me to be an effective strategy, and it does not inspire much confidence.

If Parliament wants to focus on the supply-managed sectors and do everything it can to defend supply management, given that we have a government that regularly makes promises about supply management and then does not keep them, this bill will allow us to truly say that Parliament supports supply management.

I will once again thank my colleague from Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel for introducing this bill. As I said at the beginning, I am very pleased and proud to support Bill C-216.

An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActRoutine Proceedings

February 24th, 2020 / 3:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-216, An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act with respect to supply management.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to protect supply management by making it non-negotiable in future international negotiations.

We recall that in recent negotiations—whether for the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Europe, the Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership or the Canada-United States-Mexico free trade agreement—significant breaches were made in the supply management system, which lowered producers' revenues by approximately 8%.

This bill will amend section 10 of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act by adding provisions that will make supply management non-negotiable.

I hope that all members will vote in favour of this bill, which is highly anticipated by producers.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)