Evidence of meeting #147 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 work.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Chris Forbes  Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Jaspinder Komal  Vice-President, Science Branch, Chief Veterinary Officer and World Organisation for Animal Health Delegate for Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Christine Walker  Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Management Branch, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Ariane Gagné-Frégeau

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Does that mean that you will be one of them? You did say you wanted people to know that what they think they're buying is what they are actually buying, so does that mean you'll be standing up to make sure that people understand that some of these claims coming in are, in fact, not accurate.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Absolutely.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Thank you.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

I say this because when we did the consultation, it came as a worry, as something that Canadians want to be reassured about. That is why I'm saying in the same sentence that we have to acknowledge, but at the same time, we have to show and demonstrate and share the good stories of what we are doing in our Canadian agricultural sector. We have to be proud of it and be able to trust in it. That is very important.

The main objective of the food policy is to give Canadians access of healthy and safe food. We all know that we have safe products in Canada, but not everyone has access to the most healthy or diverse foods. This is much more the issue, making sure that everyone has access to healthy, and obviously, safe food.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Minister.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Chair, I'd love to ask another question, but I should save the time for some of our other—

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

It's already one minute extra.

Mrs. Nassif, you may go ahead for six minutes.

June 6th, 2019 / 11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Eva Nassif Liberal Vimy, QC

Thank you for being here, Minister, for the second time in a month.

You were recently in Japan for the G20 agriculture ministers meeting. There, you met with your counterparts from the G20, including China's agriculture minister.

Can you share some of the details of what you talked about and the results of the meeting?

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

I did, indeed, attend the G20 meeting. The talks focused on the importance of reliable rule-based trade, market stability and evidence-based decision-making. It was the perfect opportunity to speak with my Chinese counterpart. I was quite clear about Canada's concerns over his country's suspension of the licences of Canadian exporters.

He said there was a problem with Canada's canola seed, and my response was that we'd undertaken all the necessary inspections and found no evidence of any issues. I asked him to show us the evidence and stressed that, if there was a problem, we wanted to know what it was so we could fix it. I made it very clear that we needed to have an evidence-based conversation.

At this stage, our respective scientists and experts need to talk and sit down with one another. He's the agriculture minister, but he's not in charge of customs. I got the distinct impression that he heard what I was saying and was going to raise the issue with his colleague. That may be why, yesterday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was involved in new talks that were more science-based. The general feeling was that the discussion would result in something more. Did one thing lead to another? I can't say for sure, but at least there some movement on the file. Our respective scientists are talking.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Eva Nassif Liberal Vimy, QC

Tell us, if you would, about the benefits of the G20 meeting.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

As a general rule, meetings at a G20 gathering are always very important. Of course, there's always a formal agenda laying out the main themes, which I already talked about.

On the sidelines, however, quite a few multilateral and bilateral meetings take place, so I had an opportunity to speak with the European Commissioner for Agriculture about Italy's shunning of Canadian wheat. We also talked about African swine fever, which is a major concern for us. We don't have the disease in Canada, so that opens up opportunities for our farmers.

I also met with Argentina's minister to discuss the possibility of exporting canola there. I attended a special meeting with U.S., Mexican, Argentinian and Brazilian representatives. We spoke mainly about the importance of a unified continental front to support decision-making and adopt evidence-based international trade rules so we can face the big issues together.

I had numerous opportunities to assert Canada's position and initiate or continue dialogue with other countries, either bilaterally or multilaterally.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Eva Nassif Liberal Vimy, QC

Thank you.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you.

Mr. Berthold, you have the floor for five minutes.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Minister, thank you for sharing details about your G20 meetings.

I, too, think it's important to cultivate relationships with other countries in order to get results. Unfortunately, we haven't seen much in the way of results thus far. Canada seems to be having a tough time getting issues resolved. None of the problems you mentioned has been fixed. What's more, Canada hasn't been able to protect its farmers' interests, and therein lies the rub.

The government seems to do a lot of talking but isn't so adept at finding any solutions whatsoever. That is the exact opposite of what Canadians expect. That's why we want ministers to speak to one another—so they can work together in a coordinated way. We want the Prime Minister to stand up for Canadian farmers on the world stage, rather than letting his ministers travel around and talk to people willy-nilly. We want these issues resolved.

Minister, we examine multiple issues, and I could've asked you countless more questions. If you were willing to stay another hour, I'm sure that would do it.

I'm going to turn to the animal transportation regulations, which have drawn considerable feedback. The new rules are slated to come into effect early next year, but your department is in the midst of a study that won't be finished by then. Why don't you object and demand that the regulations not come into force until the results of your department's study are available?

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducted a very thorough study and consulted—

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

That's not your department. I'm talking about your department, which is conducting its own in-depth study on animal transportation. Industry stakeholders expect tangible findings that they can rely on. Why, then, is your government going to implement the regulations before the results of your study come out?

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

A considerable amount of research has already been done, and there is sufficient evidence to warrant moving forward with the regulations.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

So you are in agreement with the proposed changes.

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Once again, the decisions are based on data, on probative data.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

So you are in agreement with the proposed regulations.

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Yes, indeed, we are proceeding with the regulations. I understand that, for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the process remains open. That means that we will—

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

As minister, are you in agreement with the changes that will go into effect in January?

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Absolutely.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Minister, the Americans have announced a flood of billions of dollars to help their farmers with the various initiatives of their government.

What is the Government of Canada’s plan to confront the consequences of those billions of dollars that are going to flood into the American industry? We demanded no concessions from the Americans for our supply-managed markets. We actually made a lot of concessions, whereas they are going to continue as before and even increase their subsidies to their industry.

So, Madam Minister, what is the Government of Canada’s plan to support our producers in this very difficult economic situation?

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Berthold, I do not understand how you can say with a straight face that we demanded no concessions. You know very well that the Americans wanted—