Evidence of meeting #132 for Agriculture and Agri-Food in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was agriculture.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Stephen Laskowski  President, Canadian Trucking Alliance
Janice Tranberg  President and Chief Executive Officer, National Cattle Feeders' Association
Roger Pelissero  Chairman and Egg Farmer, Egg Farmers of Canada
Tim Lambert  Chief Executive Officer, Egg Farmers of Canada
Bev Shipley  Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, CPC
Johanne Ross  Executive Director, Agriculture in the Classroom Canada
Serge Buy  Chief Executive Officer, Agri-food Innovation Council
Diana Bronson  Executive Director, Food Secure Canada
Leticia Deawuo  Director, Black Creek Community Farm, Food Secure Canada

12:05 p.m.

Serge Buy Chief Executive Officer, Agri-food Innovation Council

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I appreciate being here today, especially with two great organizations beside me. It's nice to talk about this important issue.

Within the presentation and the document we sent out, we provided three recommendations for action. I heard Mr. Shipley ask the previous witnesses what they would do or what would they recommend us doing, and we are definitely making three key recommendations.

Public trust in any sector is crucial. Consumers are motivated by different factors, such as price, availability of product, appearance, etc., but trust is essential to developing and maintaining a good rapport between the whole production and distribution chain on one side and the public on the other.

We have seen the importance of maintaining public trust in the debate on vaccination. Leaders in agri-food research identified public trust as the most important issue facing agriculture. As consumers embrace a notion of what farming used to be, they seem to lack trust in technological and scientific advances related to agri-food. They trust the farmer selling products at the local farmers' market, but would frown upon the notion that researchers have been involved in almost everything related to what the farmer is selling, from plant breeding to pesticide use to the type of packaging, etc. They trust the image of the farmer on his horse looking at his cattle, but occasionally will question beef sold in grocery stores.

Why is that? Why are we facing those issues?

The first factor is probably the lack of understanding of what farming is. It's been raised by my colleague just before. It's been raised in most of the presentations that you've heard on the issue. In 1920, when our organization was created, agriculture was a main source of employment. Canada's population had a greater proportion of people living in rural areas than in cities. This meant that the agri-food production and distribution chain was better understood and accepted.

The second factor is the reliability of information that consumers consult on agri-food. It is fairly common to see self-appointed so-called experts making ill-informed and/or false pronouncements about farming and food. The propagation of false information on social media and even mainstream media, as you've also heard, is a key issue for us.

Then there is the perceived lack of transparency related to scientific advances in agri-food. Progress is poorly explained, and due to this, is often rejected. This is despite the federal government and industry associations investing millions of dollars on various programs such as farm food safety, other food safety programs and quality assurance programs, some of which you've already heard about. While this money has been invested, there is still mistrust.

One of the key issues that we've identified is the fact that there is no single trusted source of reliable information on scientific advances in agri-food. You've heard about the fact that actors with absolutely no background are often more trusted than scientists. Why is that? This is a key issue. Well, consumers don't know where to turn. They have no information on who to approach for real information. This is why AIC's first concrete recommendation is that we should expand the mandate of the chief science advisor and provide that office more resources. The intent would be to have that office help break down misconceptions and promote made-in-Canada agri-food innovation.

I would like to quote Dr. Mona Nemer, Canada's chief science advisor, in her 2018 report, which was tabled last week, I believe. She said, “Communication of science is vital to ensuring an informed citizenry and healthy and engaged society.” She places a good part of the responsibility on science communicators, and we agree.

AIC held a conference three years ago on the effective dissemination of agri-food research. As a result, we produced a tool for researchers to disseminate their research, but the onus should not be left solely on the doorstep of science communicators. We also think it is incumbent on the federal government to take a key role in this process. We believe that this should be done through the expanded mandate and office of the chief science advisor.

Our second recommendation is that the federal government should play a role in promoting cohesive dialogue and information sharing within and between agri-food sectors. Knowledge transfer on scientific advances, best practices, etc., would help create a stronger agri-food sector. A stronger agri-food sector, more recognized, more visible, would gain more trust in the public.

Finally, our third recommendation is that the federal government help to incentivize initiatives that help Canadians connect with and further their understanding of our agri-food. This could be done through urban farming initiatives by local movements, the farmers' markets and even initiatives such as Agriculture in the Classroom—note the discussion before this presentation.

With a stronger connection, there will be a stronger public trust, and the public trust is what we're trying to either gain or maintain. We think this is really important.

Thank you.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Monsieur Buy.

Now, we go to Food Secure Canada.

I'm not sure who wants to do it or whether you're going to split your time.

12:10 p.m.

Diana Bronson Executive Director, Food Secure Canada

I will start.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

It's a pleasure to testify before the committee today. I speak on behalf of Food Secure Canada, a national network of organizations and individuals aiming to achieve three interrelated goals: zero hunger, healthy and safe food, and sustainable food systems.

I'm accompanied today by Leticia Deawuo from Black Creek Community Farm, one of the member organizations we have.

The main point I want to make today is that public trust is not a public relations exercise. Very often these conversations revolve around how industry can better educate consumers who don't understand farming, science, markets or genetically modified organisms. In this view, consumers are naive, and particularly naive are the millennials, the foodies and the moms.

Today, I want to encourage you to take a broader view of public trust.

I don't believe we have a breakdown in public trust because Canadians don't trust farmers. We have a breakdown in public trust because there are four million Canadians who cannot afford to eat a healthy diet. We have a breakdown in public trust because we throw away $49 billion of food every year, an economic and environmental travesty that has not been adequately dealt with by public policy.

We are raising a generation of children with an epidemic of diet-related diseases. That is going to sink our public health care system if we don't soon get a handle on it.

Finally, there is not enough accessible, reliable, independent information on the environmental impacts of our food system and whether or not that food is good.

People want to eat healthy and sustainable food—food that is good for their bodies and the planet. While I know it may not be universally applauded in this committee, Food Secure Canada is very supportive of the government's new food guide. What happened in that food guide, among other things, which could present an enormous economic opportunity for farmers in this country—something that's not been talked a lot about—is that it turned our attention from what we eat to how we eat. I think this is what needs to happen in public trust. We need to talk not only about what we're producing, but how we are producing it.

We need to begin to envisage a food system where the economic health, equity and environmental objectives are joined up rather than being seen as trade-offs. We have been waiting for the announcement of Canada's new food policy for over a year, a topic that this committee has studied, that you've written a strong report on and that I and many colleagues have had an opportunity to testify about.

One of the recommendations that you endorsed in your committee's report was the creation of a national food policy council or an advisory board body, an arm's-length institution, where civil society organizations, industry, independent experts and different government departments would get together around the same table and have some of the conversations that are right now very siloed and apart from each other.

After this meeting, I shall walk over to the budget lockup to listen to the federal budget being delivered. I hope that today's announcements will include the creation of a national policy council. It would be a great victory for public trust in our food system.

I have four quick recommendations: Don't treat this as a communications exercise, as there are substantive issues that need to be addressed. Don't support industry-only round tables to address the issue of public trust; bring in supported civil society in. Create a national food policy council. Let's announce this food policy.

12:15 p.m.

Leticia Deawuo Director, Black Creek Community Farm, Food Secure Canada

Thank you for enabling me to appear before you today. I'm a resident of the Jane and Finch community of Toronto, and also the director of the Black Creek Community Farm. I think it's important that someone like me can come here today and give you a different perspective from our community.

Black Creek Community Farm is a not-for-profit organization that's in the Jane and Finch community. Our goal is to improve food security, reduce social isolation and improve employment and education outcomes.

Many residents in the Jane and Finch community, and communities like Jane and Finch, are faced with multiple systemic issues. Accessing fresh, affordable, culturally appropriate, healthy and environmentally sound vegetables is one of the main challenges. People in my community have high rates of food-related illness, like hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, to name a few. Fresh vegetables and fruits in our community are more expensive and have a lower quality. Processed food, of course, is very much in abundance. Macaroni and cheese is always on sale. I can go to No Frills, and I can guarantee that I can get macaroni and cheese for a very affordable price.

Why should vegetables sold in Rosedale be any different in terms of nutrient value and quality from vegetables sold in Jane and Finch? Black and brown people make up the majority of workers on our farms across the country. Why is it that the people who grow the vegetables are also the same people who face the most inequities in terms of accessing fresh, affordable vegetables?

Why public trust? Small-scale farms and farmers, especially black and indigenous farmers who are working against all odds to feed their communities, do not get the same amount of support from our federal government. Agriculture and agri-food budgets are set up to support big agribusinesses, not organizations like mine. Lower-income residents are frequently policed and harassed within their communities, so I guess I'm here to say, since my time is up, that public trust is built from the ground up and not necessarily from the top down.

I look forward to answering questions and to talking further. Thank you.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Members will have a chance to ask questions. Thank you, Ms. Deawuo and Ms. Bronson.

Mr. Dreeshen, you have six minutes.

March 19th, 2019 / 12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Thank you very much.

Welcome to the panel.

I'm a former educator. For 34 years I taught math, physics and agriculture in Alberta. One of the major concerns that I've had is to try to make sure that we understand how agriculture is perceived throughout the country.

Ms. Ross, I applaud the work that you are doing. Before, the egg in the classroom program was simply that we'd send somebody out that had a bit of agricultural knowledge. They'd go and see a bunch of grade 4 or grade 5 classes—I can't remember the year—and they'd hit maybe one or two schools in the community, and we'd say it was good.

We need a lot more than that. We need to make sure that our educators.... Again, as a teacher I know that if lesson plans are available, those are the things that people are going to look at. The only ones who have taken the time to put those together have been the activist groups and so on, so that's all the kids hear. You illustrated a couple of those as well.

It's very important that we talk to our departments of agriculture and our departments of education, and we have them talk. Otherwise they're only going to present those things that are easy for them to get and go from there. I think that's really one of the critical parts of it.

The truth in agriculture.... I was at a conference in Red Deer a while back where they talked about methane gas and the relationship as far as beef is concerned, and dairy, and how there's actually less methane being produced now than there was 30 or 40 years ago when there were more animals. It's because of efficiency. We can't always talk about efficiency or the big farms and so on being the devil here. We have to look at the fact that you learn from that, and then smaller operations are able to use that technology once other people have presented it.

Those are some of the critical aspects of it.

The lesson plans, the field trips, Canadian Agriculture Literacy Week, and careers in agriculture.... Perhaps, Ms. Ross, you could take a couple of minutes and mention some of the things that you see on how we can coordinate with your Canadian charitable organization so that groups, whether they be industry groups or the Black Creek community groups, can talk to you and be engaged with you.

12:20 p.m.

Executive Director, Agriculture in the Classroom Canada

Johanne Ross

Absolutely. Thank you, Mr. Dreeshen.

You made a couple of points there. One really important one I want to start with is that agriculture is not in curricula, as you said. It's a challenge for teachers to bring agriculture concepts into what they have to teach. They don't have time to bring new stuff in that isn't connected to what they need to teach. This has been a really key element to our success across the country, in Alberta and beyond, that everything we offer to teachers is something they can use and connect to science, social studies or whatever they want to teach.

I'll mention some of the recent successes for our national organization. I may or may not have said in my comments that we've only been formalized nationally for four years. The provincial organizations were operating across the country, but the national voice has just come into play in the last four years. We're representing the provincial organizations now.

We have something on our website called the Canadian educator resource matrix, which means that any teacher in any province or territory can go into this matrix and apply filters as to what they're teaching, where they're teaching and what grade level it is and apply even other thematic filters. They can click and all those resources come up for them that will fit in. As a grade 10 Alberta physics teacher, you may even find some resources on there that would work for you to teach in physics. That's how much agriculture can fit into almost every subject area. That's one example of something we're very excited about.

That whole matrix is going to be a huge project, as you can imagine. We're going to continue to populate it with resources that fit that ABC mandate, which we've talked about, and need to be curriculum linked.

We also have these outreach initiatives. Think of the ag career initiative that you mentioned. That's an initiative we run across the country and can actually just ask students to be curious about agriculture and food as a career. They need to understand it's much more than farming. Of course farming is the foundation—we wouldn't be here without it—but there are so many dynamic and unique careers for students. They don't know about them because they think agriculture equals farming.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Thank you very much.

Because the topic has to do with perception of and public trust in Canadian agriculture, Mr. Chairman, a notice of motion was presented last week. I would like to move that motion at this time.

It is the one that reads:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee invite the following witnesses to appear concerning the recent revocation by the Chinese government of Richardson International's canola export registration to the Chinese market:

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food;

The Minister of International Trade Diversification; and

The Minister of Foreign Affairs;

and that all witnesses appear no later than Thursday, March 21, 2019.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Mr. Dreeshen.

Mr. Hoback.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Thank you, Chair. Thank you, colleagues.

I want to thank the witnesses.

I apologize. This is something that is costing farmers a lot of money, and we have to deal with it. It's important that this committee focus on that at this point in time. It doesn't lessen what you bring to the table. We respect what you bring to the table and respect what you want to talk about. It's not that we don't want to do that. It's that in this last three weeks we've seen canola devalue in the marketplace by about $1 billion at the farm gate. We have farmers who have canola in the bins right now because of a political decision.

I think everybody on this committee would agree that the quality of our product is the best in the world. There's no question about the quality of Canadian canola or Canadian food, as far as what we export around the world is concerned. We know it's good. We have a situation now that's a political decision by China, using a non-tariff trade barrier to restrict access to JRI of canola shipments into China.

As I said, the market impact of that decision in Canada coming back to the farm gate is roughly $1 billion in lost value in the canola stock sitting in the bins.

We also have a situation where farmers are looking at their spring planting intentions. You're sitting there. You're looking at the marketplace. You see it going down. You're not sure what the game plan is to normalize this relationship with China. You have to decide whether you're going to plant canola, peas, malt barley, lentils. Maybe you shouldn't be planting canola based on what's happening right now.

It's very important that the committee look at this and do the study right away, as quickly as physically possible. We are devaluing canola as we speak every day. The market is reacting to what's happening, and there's not a clear message coming from this government on the path forward. We don't have an ambassador in China at this point. We're not sure what CFIA officials are doing on the ground there. We don't know when a minister will be going to China to talk about this.

I can assure you that when Mr. Ritz was the ag minister, when something like this happened, he was basically on the plane the next day. The last time this happened, the prime minister was in China within a month and talking about canola. He alleviated the issue and we got our market back.

The size of this market is some $26 billion to the Canadian economy. That is 25% of our farm gate receipts. The bulk of our profitability for the agriculture sector comes from canola. It is huge. That is why I was really hoping that the committee would have met two weeks ago when we first asked them to. I was hoping that our NDP member would have signed the letter at that point. I understand that he had some issues and he couldn't make it here. However, it needed to have a response immediately, even last week, and it didn't get that response.

I think it's important now that the committee take this on, make it an actual emergency, and understand the importance it has to producers in western Canada and for the Canadian economy in general. Have these three ministers come forward.

You ask, why the three ministers? Well it involves different areas of the government. You have trade, so the trade minister has to be involved. There's no question about that. With regard to agriculture, CFIA is involved in this scenario, so you have to have the ag minister.

Last week, the ag minister, in press conferences in western Canada when she did her western tour, happened to miss Saskatchewan. We can't understand why an ag minister would want to learn about agriculture and not go to Saskatchewan. That is beyond us in Saskatchewan.

The concern we have is that the ag minister said the Minister of Foreign Affairs has the lead on this file. If the Minister of Foreign Affairs has the lead on the file, then it's very important that she testify in front of this committee. She needs to answer for the placement of CFIA officials, for what we have for resources on the ground in China. There are some concerns, in talking to people in the industry, that we do not have enough people on the ground in our embassies around the world.

We are looking at non-tariff trade barriers popping up all the time now. We've seen it in Peru, in Vietnam. We've seen it in Italy, on durum. We're seeing it now in China on canola. There is some fear that it's going to spread to malt barley, to pulses. We know the issues we have in India on pulses. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has to tell us, to reassure farmers and Canadians on the integrity of our system, that we have the resources in place to do the work to make sure we can keep these markets open.

We export 90% of what we produce. You have to remember that. We export 90% of what we produce. This is an export-driven industry. Canola is a Canadian crop. It was developed here in Canada. It was our pride, our researchers. It was a success story. We developed it here in western Canada and we've taken it around the world. We've proven that it's the healthiest oil in the world.

When you start to hear all this, I think you can start to understand why I feel this is so important and why I'm very passionate about how this committee needs to address this right away.

I'm looking forward to seeing a positive vote on this, because I think everybody can understand the importance of it, and then I look forward to seeing all three ministers coming in front of this committee and giving us a path forward. We need to have some comfort and producers need to have some comfort that there actually is a game plan, that there actually is an action plan, that the government is actually taking this seriously so that they can make these planning decisions. Then hopefully, if the markets see that the government has a game plan, the situation will normalize and moderate as that plan is taken into consideration, and the discounting of canola in the marketplace which is happening as we speak will stop.

These are just some examples of why I think it's very important to do. I'll leave it up to my colleagues to bring forward some other examples, but I would strongly encourage you, Chair, to bring this forward as quickly as possible, and to deal with it even this week. We're willing to sit day and night. We're willing to sit next week if they want us to. Whatever it takes to get this to happen, we're willing to do.

Thank you, Chair.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Mr. Hoback.

Monsieur Drouin.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

We understand what's happening out west and the impact it's having on farmers, and I know Mr. Hoback probably made that same passionate speech on Sunday when they asked to have the emergency meeting, which the members of Parliament on the government side agreed to. I know he knows full well that officials will be appearing this Thursday to discuss the very same issue. I know he knows full well that the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of International Trade Diversification will be appearing before the very same committee that he is a regular member of.

I know he knows that, and we will respect the process that is happening at international trade. We won't be supporting the motion, and it's not because we're against this issue. We support this issue. We're with you, but there's already a committee that has looked at this, probably commenced by you, Mr. Hoback. I'm sure you pushed your opposition members to write a letter to the chair or the clerk of the international trade committee.

Mr. Hoback knows what's happening at international trade. I know he's well versed on this issue, and I know it's having a major impact on his constituents. I know that Minister Freeland and Minister Carr are on this issue, and Madame Bibeau is also on this issue. We will respect what the international trade committee is doing. It is already looking at this issue, and we will not be supporting this particular motion to have the same hearings here at agriculture.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Mr. Hoback.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Chair, I'll respond to that.

First of all, when you look at what the trade committee is doing, I want to point out a couple of things. We asked to do it immediately. They are not going to deal with this issue until we come back in April. The amount of money that can be lost in the marketplace in a week is substantial. It's substantial. The impact it has on farmers' decisions regarding what they're going to plant will be immense. That's why I thought it was important that the ag committee deal with it. CFIA is an ag issue. It's not necessarily solely a trade issue. It is your issue in this committee.

The other issue—and you said it yourself—is that Minister Freeland is in control of this file. She's not allowed to come in front of the trade committee. I would like to think that you have confidence enough in your Minister of Foreign Affairs to bring her to the ag committee so she can lay out the game plan, because she has the lead. We know that. You've said that. The ag minister has said that. Why she will not come in front of a committee is beyond me. This is crazy.

I don't care what marching orders you got from the PMO. Do the right thing, please. We can do it tomorrow. We can do it next week. I don't care. It has to be done quickly, and it's not going to be done quickly enough at the trade committee. If this committee can do it faster...and actually this committee should take the lead on it. It should. It's embarrassing that the trade committee has to take the lead on it, but if we have to, we will.

For you guys to sit here on your hands, it's unacceptable. And I'll tell you this. This is not a western Canadian issue. We grow canola in Manitoba. We grow it in Ontario. We grow it in Quebec. We grow it across Canada. We buy goods that are made in eastern Ontario and manufactured in Ontario.

If you take $1 billion out of our marketplace right now, or you take $2 billion or $3 billion out of it, what is that going to do to truck sales? What is that going to do to the manufacturing sector in Ontario? Do you not think it has a trickle-up effect? It has a huge effect, and if they should proceed into malt barley or peas.... It's unacceptable, totally unacceptable.

I can't accept that, Mr. Drouin. I can't. I know you did that in the justice committee, but you cannot do that here. This is the committee that should be dealing with it, and if they're not going to deal with it.... Yes, we will deal with it on the trade committee, but I'll tell you, there are going to be a lot of farmers put in a bad position because of this committee putting its head in the sand.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Mr. Hoback.

Go ahead, Mr. MacGregor.

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

I will support the motion.

Our committee has been having trouble getting the former minister of agriculture to appear. I went across the floor yesterday to the new minister, Minister Bibeau, and congratulated her on her new role. I know she is dealing with some family issues right now; she told me that.

We have been waiting for the Minister of Agriculture to appear, to speak about the spending of her department as well, for the estimates process.

I think this issue absolutely does deserve some close attention and immediate attention, but we also need to have the minister appear to talk about her departmental spending plan.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Mr. MacGregor.

Hearing no other comments, we shall proceed to a vote.

Mr. Dreeshen.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

I think the critical part, as was mentioned by Mr. Hoback, has to do with the uncertainty that exists there. We have an opportunity in the ag committee to talk about something that is agriculture-related.

We know how long it took to get the previous minister here, and that didn't happen. We now understand that it's going to take a while to perhaps get people up to speed. I'm not sure. Nevertheless, this needs to happen right away because right now, people are trying to decide what they are going to be seeding. There are people who have the seed cleaners out there right now for their wheat and their barley, and these decisions are critical.

If we're going to wait until another committee—because we didn't get it done here—is going to take that lead, then we're making a serious mistake.

As far as our agriculture community is concerned, they expect things to come from the ag committee, and I believe if we make that decision and determination right now that it shouldn't be the case, then all of us will wear that.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Mr. Shipley.

12:35 p.m.

Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, CPC

Bev Shipley

I'm going to be honest with you. I just don't understand. This is the time. Maybe the ones on the other side have never planted crops—I know Mr. Poissant has—to know about the timing in terms of changing cropping rotations and planning on buying inputs and getting a cropping plan in place. Maybe if it's a lack of understanding, then I guess that's the way it is. I feel bad for that because what you're doing is affecting people across Canada, as Mr. Hoback has said.

This isn't just a western issue. Up in northern Ontario....

The other part of it, folks, is what are we studying today? We're studying the perception of trust in agriculture. What did China do? Well, we have the safest product in the world here, one of the best that we market around the world, but China has said there is some issue with the quality of it. What does that tell people, the consumers, as this sits out there and tends to get media attention?

Well, we actually can't...I know you guys are saying that we can, but I guess we really can't trust you.

What is the government doing? Well, they don't think it's that important because they're going to wait for international trade. At that time, after farmers have made their decisions, in April.... They have to make their decisions not only on how they plant their crops, but also how they're going to start to market it.

There may be those who haven't done that, but I can tell you, you plan your crop planting and you plan your early marketing based on what you plant. If the meeting can't happen this week, at the latest it has to happen next week. I can assure you, if you can't make it happen this week, we'll be here next week.

I think the farmers across Canada, not just out west, will be looking forward to seeing us take some movement, as an agriculture committee, to help promote the government's action to move forward in realizing it's a huge issue. We don't have Canada's spokesperson in China speaking for us. They've booted the ambassador out and he hasn't been replaced. This is what ambassadors are for, to help promote. We don't have a promotion vehicle. We need to be it.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Mr. Shipley.

Monsieur Drouin.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

I'm just going to correct a couple of facts. We are ready to call the vote, but if this were an important issue, I'll remind you, Mr. Hoback, you chose to send a letter to the international trade committee and not through this committee, so obviously you had a preference to go toward—

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Mr. Drouin, I'll ask you to address the chair, if you can, and also the other side. Usually we let it loose, but I think it's important that you address the chair.

Thank you.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

It's not us. To my knowledge, we did not receive any letters on our side to request an emergency meeting two weeks ago or last week. Of course we could have had this meeting at this particular meeting, if an emergency request were made, but it wasn't done. It was done at international trade, and I suspect because they—they, speaking of the opposition—wanted to hear this at the international trade committee.

Again, I'm just going to state a couple of facts, and we are ready to call the vote on this side.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Mr. Drouin.

Mr. Hoback.