Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I appreciate the comments by my colleagues across the way. However, the fact that we have an agreement, or a potential agreement, that will have an impact on every single Canadian farmer and producer in the country—
You're shaking your head, Mr. Longfield, but you're not willing to take five or 10 minutes to discuss an agreement that could possibly impact every producer, because you're worried about the two hours that we have with our two witnesses.
Mr. Drouin, I really do appreciate what you're saying, but you're saying that we can't disrupt this committee's schedule because a very critical issue, a very vital issue, came up today. You're saying, let's not discuss that because it's not part of the agenda we decided on weeks ago.
Come on, you guys. When something important comes up, that's what we're here for, to discuss these types of issues that will have an impact on our producers, our farmers, the agri businesses, and agrifood across the country. If we are continually passing on every study that we think is important, or you think is important, to another committee because it's not our job, then what are we here for? Seriously, what are we here for, other than saying that it will take up two hours of your day for no reason?
You guys cannot dispute the importance and the impact that the trans-Pacific partnership agreement is going to have on the Canadian agriculture industry. For us to say that we are not going to discuss it because it's not on our agenda that we discussed a couple of weeks ago.... This is critical.
Moving forward, what is the message? Is it that if any other critical issue comes up that will impact Canadian agriculture, if it's not something we put on our agenda months ago, it's not worth talking about? That's not the message I want to send to our stakeholders across the country, that “I'm sorry, this is something that's going to impact your livelihood, but it's not something that we have on our agenda for the next couple of weeks and it's not something that I want to take 10 minutes out of a two-hour committee meeting to discuss, because I don't think it's worthwhile.”
I want to leave that with you. I'm not trying to make this political. I know you guys have had the same discussions with your stakeholders that we have had with ours. The importance of the trans-Pacific partnership agreement, positive and negative, is something that our stakeholders are asking us to discuss, want us to discuss. With what transpired today, we have an opportunity now for a timely and very good discussion on what direction the trans-Pacific partnership agreement is going to take and the impact it's going to have on our stakeholders.
For my colleagues to make this about our already having set our agenda and upsetting the officials who are here for two hours is really disconcerting. I have to ask, are these key issues a priority for you guys or not? For us to not do this study is disappointing.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate that. Sorry for the rant.