Evidence of meeting #139 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 know.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

France Pégeot  Executive Vice-President, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Annette Gibbons  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

I wish I was able to launch the food policy before the summer. I'm really working hard on it and I'm very proud of the food policy. I had the chance to have a round table with different industries from the agriculture sector in Guelph last week.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Good. Yes, that's right. I was somewhere else.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

That was very interesting. Talking about the food policy, there are different elements, as you know, like access. I will take for granted that you've read all the budget.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Yes.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Maybe I can take this opportunity to speak a bit about the part of it that is to promote Canadian production.

I think it is very important. I don't want it to be limited to a marketing strategy but really to put a lot of emphasis on building the pride and trust of Canadians when they look at our Canadian agriculture. This is something that is dear to my heart.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Good. I spoke to the Friends of the Guelph Public Library last week, and even they were talking about food security. They asked me to give them a presentation on food security, and I said that this is within our food policy discussions. The City of Guelph has put in a smart cities application for a circular food economy looking at reducing food waste.

Could you comment on food waste in relation to climate change or in relation to the budget?

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Yes. The way that the food waste component will be deployed or rolled out is connected to what you just said, because we want to make it a challenge to really find innovative ideas that we will later on be able to scale up. This might be of interest for your team.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Yes.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Last week, still in the same region, I had a chance to participate in a symposium on food security. I realized it was very diversified in the sense that we had very big processors, NGOs, food banks and farmers all in the same place, and I've been told that this network and the fact that they are still working together started with the consultation on food policy. I think it's very promising.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Yes. Since we've never had a food policy, it's creating some discussions. We weren't even thinking of including mental health, and we're going through the completion of a report on mental health and then working with Health Canada. This is another example where there are provincial and territorial responsibilities as well as federal responsibilities.

Could you maybe comment on how you are working with provinces and territories to try to coordinate some of these efforts?

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

I understand the importance of it and, as you know, my parliamentary secretary takes this file very seriously, and he is feeding me this subject. Yesterday I thought it was important to include it while talking about the canola farmers.

You are right that we have to do it in collaboration with the provinces since they are responsible for public health. It's a work in progress.

The other thing on which we will have to work with the provinces is the school food program. It's not related to mental health, but both of these subjects will be part of the conversation we need to have with the provinces.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Yes, food touches everything. It's social.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Oh, yes.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

It's environmental. It's economic. The schoolchildren need support. Unfortunately, in Ontario, it's going in the wrong direction right now. We're hoping we can support it in some way. I know the local Rotary Club has picked up the cause to try to help feed kids before school.

To change channels to the African swine fever, you mentioned in your opening comments an international forum and the work that's being done there. We have a large processing plant in Guelph and we also have Maple Leaf Foods in Guelph. They are both concerned about the food supply security to make sure we don't get infected, as China is. You would think that would become an opportunity in China, if they are losing protein out of their supply by up to 40%.

Is there an opportunity there for us internationally to build up our shipments?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

I really wish it will turn into an opportunity, and it's a possibility as long as we are being extremely careful going forward with new measures to protect ourselves.

We had the forum this week and I'm working in close collaboration with my counterpart, Secretary Perdue, as well, on the subject because it's really a matter of the continent first. I take it extremely seriously. The first thing we've done is to invest to get more detector dogs and to add to the verification we make around animal feed.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Yes, that's right.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

These are things that we have already done.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Great.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

I'm making zoning and compartmentalization a priority element of the meeting I will have with my provincial counterparts in July. The discussions have already started within Canada and with our neighbour as well, because I think it's also an important part of what we need to do to protect ourselves.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Minister.

I have to go to the next speaker.

Mr. MacGregor now has the floor for six minutes.

May 2nd, 2019 / 12:20 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Minister Bibeau, welcome to our committee. It's good to see you.

You may recall that I was on the international trade committee when you appeared on April 2. We had a conversation at that point about the delegation that you wanted to send to China. I missed the early part of your interaction with Mr. Berthold, but you made those statements on April 2 that you had sent a letter and that you were hoping to get the president of the CFIA there.

How much longer are you willing to wait before we regard it as an insult to Canada that China is unwilling to meet with us, unable to provide further scientific evidence? I appreciate the supports you have given to our farmers, but it just doesn't seem we're getting anywhere closer to a resolution with China. How much longer are you prepared to accept their ignoring us before we take other steps or look at other options?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

We have different options on the table, and we are having very transparent conversations with our partners on the working group. We have to take into consideration—it's the first English term that comes to my mind—comparative advantages: who we are as Canadians, how we do business as Canadians, the sizes of our various industries involved in terms of business and trade with China. This is not an easy question.

It's important that we be extremely careful not to elevate or to amplify—

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

At the same time, we have to voice our displeasure when someone like the president of the CFIA can still not get to China. That's not a small bureaucratic position in our government.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

No, I agree with you, but it's very delicate. We are putting in the balance the different sensitivities of each element. Each of us is working and pushing what we have to push. I already said what my role is. Minister Freeland has hers, and Minister Carr as well.

I cannot answer your question clearly. It's not because I don't want to. It's because I don't have the answer to it. I don't have a date, and if I say, “If by May 10”, you know—

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

I have other questions, sorry. I have limited time. That's something I just wanted to know. We will be keeping track of—