Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take a few minutes this morning to add some final thoughts to the consideration by the House to Bill C-86, an act to amend the Canadian Dairy Commission Act, and reaffirm my support and the support of the government for this industry driven initiative. I am pleased to say that the bill reaffirms the support of the House of an industry driven initiative.
As my colleagues from all sides of the House have acknowledged, the Canadian dairy industry will not be untouched by the global market transformation under way. The Canadian dairy, egg and poultry industries or the supply managed industries are evolving in ways that are necessary to meet the global market transformation that is in progress. I am proud and pleased in the way in which they are doing that. They have shown in the past they can roll with the punches. They can evolve as necessary to maintain economically viable industries that provide safe food in sufficient quantities to the Canadian consumer.
Major changes are now reverberating throughout the economic sectors of the world's major trading nations. That is not an exaggeration. Competition is and will be fierce. However, opportunities for success are at hand. In order to take advantage of those opportunities, changes will be required in the way we do business.
Bill C-86 represents one of the best of these changes. The new milk pricing and pooling of returns approach enabled by these legislative amendments evolved from within the industry itself. That is what it is all about.
The new system was developed as a result of intense consultations with a good deal of give and take. These give and take negotiations among the dairy stakeholders took place from coast to coast. These discussions remain ongoing as the dairy sector fine tunes and reshapes the way milk and milk components are sold both within and outside of our borders over the next five years and beyond.
The administration of pricing and the pooling of milk marketing returns by the Canadian Dairy Commission and provincial authorities offers significant advantages. It will permit retention of the equity currently offered by levies while allowing us to keep and possibly expand important domestic and export markets in the face of strict new rules under GATT and the World Trade Organization.
While the possibility of a trade challenge by the United States can never be categorically ruled out, Canadian trade officials have advised that as long as Canada does not use producer financed assistance to support exports of Canadian dairy products to the United States, as long as Canada does not use levies beyond the levels of gradual reduction for export of commodity specific groups, our system will then conform with the provisions of the international agreements we have signed. August 1 is the date of implementation of Canada's dairy commitment under GATT and the WTO arrangements.
It is important to emphasize again that this is an industry driven initiative which is shaping its future on this key issue. While governments will continue to have an important role to play, that role is facilitative. The shaping process is an ongoing one and the passage of the amendments now before us will assist the process. It will not define the process. It will not limit the process nor will it hinder the process with over-regulation
This bill provides the necessary legislative authority to permit the Canadian Dairy Commission, in close co-operation with the provincial milk marketing authorities, to implement a new milk pricing system with the pooling and market returns from different classes of milk.
I wish to remind all members that under the pooling arrangements, the Canadian Dairy Commission will simply be administering a pool of producer moneys on behalf of the producers. No government financing is involved.
Bill C-86 is enabling legislation which does not specifically define the extent or timing of a particular milk pooling system or systems. The dairy industry will do this for itself in the weeks and the months ahead.
With the passage of the bill most aspects of the new dairy approach will be implemented on a national basis within the next two months. Negotiations remain ongoing in all nine provinces. It is only nine provinces because Newfoundland is
not part of the national milk supply management system as it produces only a limited amount of industrial milk. The other nine provinces have agreed to a national pooling of market returns from special classes of milk as of August 1 of this year.
These nine provinces have also agreed to a harmonized milk classification system and all nine provinces have agreed to implement uniform pricing for special classes of milk destined for United States export and for certain domestic products containing diary ingredients.
Six of the nine provinces, namely Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have decided to proceed more immediately to the pooling of market returns for all classes of milk. British Columbia may join this broader pooling arrangement as well and it is still considering the option.
Alberta and Saskatchewan have indicated that they wish to implement pooling arrangements on a more limited scale. At the outset nothing precludes their joining the all milk pool at any point in the future.
Again, I urge my fellow members to fully support and expedite the passage of Bill C-86. Such action will clearly demonstrate our recognition of the dairy sector's commendable initiatives. As well, it will demonstrate our willingness to facilitate this industry driven means of successfully competing in the post-GATT environment.
We look forward to the support of the House in expediting this bill for the good of the industry.