House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agriculture.

Topics

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but his time is up.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

Noon

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the report stage amendments to Bill C-60, the legislation which will put in place the federal food inspection agency. I will be making presentations as we go through these groups of motions but I will only speak to Motions Nos. 1 and 13 from group 3.

First, I support the amendment in group 1. It could be considered to be a symbolic amendment which asks the federal government to respect the legislative authority of the provinces with regard to this legislation. It is important, it is not strictly symbolic and it deserves to be supported.

This amendment deals with process. I would like to quote from a brief presented by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, probably Canada's largest organization representing farmers across the country. The brief was given to the committee dealing with Bill C-60. I will read a couple of paragraphs from it. I think it should be entered in Hansard . I support most of what is presented by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture in these two paragraphs.

It talks about the process although in part the process that has led up to this legislation being where it is right now.

"The intention to streamline efforts to save costs and create a more efficient system is one which CFA has supported from the outset. The consultation process concerning the structure of the new streamlined entity was good as far as it went.

"One of the major failings from an industry point of view, even now as the legislation works its way through Parliament, is a real business plan with costs and realistic revenue projections that can be shared with those who are effectively the shareholders. As cost recovery systems become part of business life, government must realize that, as in any other business, those who pay call the tune. When industry is forced to pay user fees it considers itself not just a stakeholder, but a shareholder".

I have just one more paragraph from the brief presented by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture to the agriculture committee.

"From this point of view, it is somewhat difficult to comment on the legislation Bill C-60. As are most other pieces of new legislation, it is enabling legislation. Most of the detail will be in the regulations which we do not have to review. We also do not have a clear understanding of the financing of the agency. Statements such as: `There will be no new cost recovery fees for the first year of operation, April 1997 to March 31, 1998', when the industry knows that a new battery of fees will be imposed on April 1, 1997, create at best a level of scepticism, at worst, a level of distrust. The fact that the legislation creates a single stand alone food inspection agency with no clear accountability to shareholders gives us pause. What are we being asked to comment on?"

The closing question is what are they being asked to comment on? That is so true. With this legislation, as with so much other legislation that is presented to the House, it has a very broad scope, without enough detail, not enough clear guidance and restriction. It implements an institution and a policy which is uncertain at best. That is what the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is saying. It is also a big concern to me.

The devil is in the details. The regulations will not be debated and passed in the House either at committee or right here on the floor. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is very upset about it and so am I. It has presented its case very well on this new agency. It does not approve of the process.

I support Motion No. 1 dealing with another part of the process, asking for the approval of the provinces in regard to this legislation.

The second motion from this grouping I would like to speak on is Motion No. 13. I oppose this amendment.

The amendment requires the minister to establish policy standards in consultation with the provinces. I approve of that part of the amendment. Of course there should be consultation with the provinces. There should be approval from the provinces. However, the amendment requires the approval of each province.

Of all governments, this government should know how difficult it is to get unanimous consent of the provinces on an issue such as this. To its credit, the government took the initiative to put in place the agreement on internal trade. It is an agreement which required the unanimous consent of the provinces to remove some of the trade barriers between the provinces that have been put in place over the last 130 years.

Unfortunately many sections of the agreement on internal trade are blank because the government could not get the unanimous agreement of the provinces. Even the completed sections are not being honoured. It is almost impossible to do anything about an infringement or failure to honour the agreement because it requires unanimous consent of all provinces. It does not work. This amendment calls for unanimous consent of the provinces but it is highly unlikely that any major change like this would ever pass.

With regard to the agreement on internal trade, I propose-

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Could the hon. member conclude his remarks in the next few seconds, please?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Madam Speaker, I thought I had only spoken for five minutes. I guess our watches are not synchronized.

In closing, since we cannot get unanimous consent in regard to the agreement on internal trade, other Reformers and I have proposed that instead of a requirement for unanimous consent there should be a requirement for the approval of at least two-thirds of the provinces which would include at least 50 per cent of the population, the double majority. This is just an example. I am not saying exactly what should be done here.

I would probably support that kind of formula in this amendment. But it is not there so I do not support it.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Réjean Lefebvre Bloc Champlain, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak once again to Bill C-60, an act to establish the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and to repeal and amend other Acts as a consequence.

As I have said before in this House, the need for a federal food inspection agency comes from pressure exerted by municipal and provincial governments, the agricultural sector, fisheries and even consumers.

The setting up of a single food inspection authority was therefore awaited anxiously, but not at any price and particularly not under just any conditions.

When Bill C-60 was examined in committee, and in this House, the Bloc Quebecois presented numerous amendments, which we are to debate today. The reason for so doing is simple: the bill, as presented, is deficient in a number of areas. It has, therefore, been necessary to improve it, primarily in order to reassure the agriculture and agri-food sector, and especially to ensure that the federal government respects provincial jurisdiction over food inspections.

I would, therefore, like to explain to my colleagues on the government side the reasons why the amendments presented by the Bloc Quebecois are necessary, useful, unavoidable even, if we do not wish to see the Canadian Food Inspection Agency become another den of patronage and source of conflict between the provinces and agricultural industry representatives.

I will, therefore, explain why it is vital for the government to accept, and vote in favour of, the amendments we are debating today. The situation is as follows: the initial block of amendments address the appointment of future directors of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Bill C-60, as tabled by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, offers no guarantee of the competency and expertise of those who will be selected as president and vice-president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

We believe it is vital for the bill to be amended so as to ensure that the person directing the agency is not selected for his political allegiance to the party in power, but rather for his real abilities in the area of food inspection. These appointments must, of course, take place after the provinces and organizations representing agricultural interests have submitted to the advisory committee the names of candidates for those positions.

Since this is about the quality of decision making in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the government can hardly refuse to support amendments in this respect. Common sense and a desire to avoid wasting public funds should be more important than the government's partisan interests. This is a matter of fairness and common sense.

The second group of amendments refers to the powers of the advisory board, which board shall advise the minister of agriculture on the mandate of the agency. The Bloc Quebecois wants to make sure that the minister obtains from the advisory board all the data, opinions and expertise he needs to make informed decisions.

To be able to do so, the board must be given broader powers. That is why we suggest that Bill C-60 give the advisory board the authority to speak out on all matters it deems relevant to food inspection.

The amendments we are proposing will give the advisory board the authority to answer all questions and speak out on all issues submitted to it by the inspection industry, the provinces and the representatives of its employees.

We also want the advisory board to be able to give its opinion on inspection service rates, facilities, products and the rights of the agency. The purpose of these amendments is to let the advisory board take a position on the real issues at stake in food inspection. We do not want a puppet advisory board at the beck and call of the responsible minister.

That having been said, the membership of the advisory board will also have to be changed. The amendment we are proposing would add one representative of the union or unions present in the agency. We think it is necessary to include agency employees in the board's consulting process if we want to keep abreast of what is really happening out there in the food inspection sector.

I believe that the quality of the services offered by the agency will be better protected if the advisory board is given a real mandate that allows it to speak out on the real issues.

The third group of amendments deals with the status of the agency and its employees and the powers of the responsible minister and the auditor general. In my opinion, he should be able to consult all members of the industry he considers representative and the provincial governments before drafting his report. This is not currently the case.

This is why the Bloc is presenting an amendment to require the auditor general to consult these people and organizations so they may express their opinions and recommendations on the agency's operation. The aim is to ensure that provincial governments, the public and the users of the agency's services may comment on ways to improve the services, thus requiring the auditor general to take them into account in his report.

As regards the status of the agency and its staff, we believe it would be dangerous to make the agency a separate employer under the terms of the Public Service Staff Relations Act. The intent of our amendment is to avoid describing the agency as a separate employer in order to preserve the vested rights of employees assigned to the agency.

Furthermore, we want to enable those who currently represent unionized employees affected by the agency's creation to continue to negotiate the assignment of jobs and positions within the agency and all matters pertaining to personnel management.

The aim here is to protect the rights of employees to ensure that, after the two year transition period provided in the legislation, they continue to enjoy the benefits of the Public Service Employment Act. Otherwise, the situation would be unacceptable.

Finally, we note that the powers accorded the minister are watered down and at times vague with respect to agreements with the provinces on food inspection. Under our amendment, these agreements would be signed by the minister responsible and the provinces without the need for approval by the governor in council.

Our amendment changes the rule so that the minister responsible for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency alone is accountable for decisions involving the agency.

This leads me to my conclusion that the minister of agriculture and his government should not be reluctant to implement the amendments we are debating in this House, because they are based on logic and common sense. I would like to think they will apply good judgement when it comes to time to vote on them.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 1996 / 12:20 p.m.

Reform

Daphne Jennings Reform Mission—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to rise and address the concerns that I have regarding Bill C-60. I am interested in what the members of the Bloc had to say. I share their concern that the power to investigate and the power to know exactly what is going on is of utmost urgency.

I understand that the stated purpose of this act is to establish the Canadian food inspection agency in order to consolidate and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of federal inspection services related to food, animal and plant health and to increase collaboration with provincial governments in this area.

I am concerned, the same as the Bloc is, that this power deals with food inspection, including risk management. It is very important that we look at risk management and the power again to look and investigate. I would be very interested in knowing exactly what direction we are taking when we speak of enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of federal inspection services.

Since they relate to food, animal and plant health, are we talking about food, animal and plant health as we know and recognize it now in its natural part in our society or are we talking about food, animal and plant health that has DNA changes to it? This is not very clear.

If this new act sets out the new agency's framework in terms of responsibilities, accountability and organization, exactly who is the new agency working for? Who is it responsible to? Who is it to be accountable to? I am sure we would all hope it is the people of Canada.

Because of the fast moving changes already occurring in our food chain with plants and animals, should there not be a control factor somewhere in the agency's framework?

When this new Canadian food agency begins operation in 1997, it will become one of Ottawa's largest bureaucratic entities, with 4,500 employees and a budget of $300 million.

Federal officials contend that ending interdepartmental overlap and duplication in such areas as enforcement, risk management,

laboratory services, information systems and communications will save taxpayers $44 million annually starting 1998-99.

Of course we have nothing yet to substantiate these claims but certainly duplication is a problem and anything we can do to cut that down is of benefit to all of us. I am sure most of us are aware of the massive costs at this time to the taxpayer when federal and provincial governments duplicate their services, not to mention the lack of efficiency and effectiveness as a result of this duplicity.

I recently read an article in Reader's Digest written by Premier McKenna of New Brunswick, a Liberal premier, who speaks of the terrible costs in duplication of government services. He speaks of the cost as high as $5 billion a year.

The Reform Party supports downsizing and consolidating the operations of the federal government, but I fear this act will accomplish little except to shuffle names and titles. This act will also continue to decentralize authority for food inspection in the hands of the federal government.

The Reform Party believes the government should acknowledge that since the provinces already provide many of these same inspection services, the emphasis should be on decentralization and encouraging common inspection standards. Along with what the Bloc said, the provinces need to have strong impact on this.

I want to backtrack a bit to the part that I spoke of in relation to federal officials who are responsible for enforcement risk management, laboratory services and information systems and communications because that is very easy and it can be said very quickly but there is a lot in those few words.

I believe we are talking here about looking after our food chain, and certainly that is what the inspection agency's job should be. On whose behalf, again, are all these rules and regulations set up? If it is not for the protection of Canadian citizens, young and old alike, who is it for?

Where is the information and communication with our citizens, the Canadian taxpayer? Who is minding the shop, ladies and gentlemen, and on whose behalf? Two years ago I had to alert citizens in my constituency all about the possibility of rBST injections into dairy cows. They were not notified. There was nothing sent out. There was no communication and no information given. This is very terrifying.

In laboratory services, we have many fine research scientists who, I realize, are very excited by all this new knowledge and the future possibilities. As these new and exciting ideas pour forward, who is asking Canadians if they want these changes? What about enforcement and risk management? What laws are being enforced and where is the risk management control?

I do not believe I am the only member of Parliament who receives weekly correspondence from my constituents who are alarmed by the changes taking place in their food chain, alarmed at the new genetically engineered food. Where is this mentioned at all in the new food inspections bill? Where is the caution?

I now receive books, letters and all sorts of correspondence from all over British Columbia asking me to look at the changes and to consider the apparent lack of caution, as those who would benefit in a monetary manner push ruthlessly ahead to force their will on Canadians.

I recently watched "Jurassic Park". I am not a movie goer, but I happened to catch it on TV last week. I did not find it scary in the physical sense but I found it alarming in the research and academic sense. I am not the first person to say this, but the message of the film to me was not can we do it but should we do it.

There are those who would argue that we are overpopulated and that the world at present cannot feed all of its people and that justifies scientists' changing our natural world as we know it. I agree that overpopulation is serious, but surely the answer is not to move full steam ahead in chaos, for indeed none of us knows where this will lead us.

Unfortunately, when we talk of global food production we have to admit there are serious problems. The human population is growing and we are losing 24 billion tonnes of topsoil a year.

Yes, third world countries need food and I fear all this new biotechnology hype is not helping the third world. Rather, those investing are venture capitalists and they need to find investors. How can we expect a starving third world country to come up with the money needed to invest?

What are we doing in the food inspection bill to take a look at what is around the corner? Surely what we do in legislation will reflect what is to come. We should not have to backtrack all the time.

Canada and I imagine the United States as well have a lot of food that is wasted every year. I have been to dumps in the Okanagan where beautiful ripe peaches, ripe tomatoes and ripe vegetables of all types have been thrown out. Why did we not dehydrate them or reprocess them? Surely the food inspection agency could come to grips with some kind of process so that food would not be wasted.

We send money to these third world countries that we do not have. That increases our tax burden. Yet we have food which we do not send. For countries to waste food when there are starving people in the world is not acceptable. To suggest that we must protect our food market so as not to flood the market and cause

lower prices is not an argument. Surely we have enough intelligence nowadays to be able to deal with both major issues.

We now have concerns that there are a number of products which have been changed. Canola is herbicide intolerant. I am not sure whether that means more or less herbicide is needed. We have tomatoes with fish genes in them to make them more tolerant. There are flavour saver tomatoes. I wonder if anyone has ever gone to a plant that has been ripened by the sun and tasted a ripe tomato. I do not think anything can top that. There are pigs with human genes in them. Even our fish are being engineered to grow faster.

What are the negative side effects? In B.C. we have good research scientists. One of them spoke on the weekend and told us that one of the side effects is that this particular engineered fish is a more aggressive feeder. Therefore it is not unlikely that if released into a natural setting it could over eat and cause the demise of our natural salmon. That is not unrealistic to suggest.

We are not using any controls. Food inspection has to deal with all aspects of food.

Every technology, no matter how beneficial, has unexpected costs. Today more than ever before we need researchers and scientists with ethical and moral values. Our research scientists should be free to explore where their curiosity and expertise take them in a controlled environment. However, if they have to be constantly aware of the economic payoff, then our scientists are not free to do their research and pressure is put on them to produce new ideas for those who want to exploit our world, as we know it, which results in the release of these genetically engineered food products on unsuspecting consumers. They are not being labelled. We do not really know what we are purchasing any more.

I have presented two private member's bills which deal with labelling. I hope those bills will be dealt with seriously.

I want to mention that there are occupational hazards related to biotechnology, which include diseases such as cancer, toxicity and product allergies. The main hazards are allergies from recombinant products, diseases, including cancer, and the production of novel disease organisms.

What is the concern? The concern is that many of these significant hazards are being ignored by the scientists who are doing research and those reporting on the research that these novel allergies in food products will impact on workers. In fact the escape of these genes on the coats of laboratory workers is occurring each day. Some of them are being taken outside the lab and this matter is not being dealt with.

I will conclude by saying we should look at all the research we have. Let us be very cautious that we do not just choose research that fits our particular purpose at the time and that we worry about all consumers.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Madam Speaker, this group of amendments concerns mainly the respect of jurisdictions. The amendments proposed by the member for Frontenac and other BQ members of the standing committee on agriculture who spoke after him stand for a principle very dear to Quebecers, that is the respect of jurisdictions.

Agriculture being a shared jurisdiction, it cannot be denied that the federal government has a say in that area. But it cannot be denied either that the provinces also have a say.

As a member of the standing committee on health, I am very concerned by this issue. Food inspection will be the responsibility of the future agency of the Agriculture Department, but why is food inspected? It is inspected to protect the health of citizens, and certainly not to harm businesses, slaughterhouses or farm producers. The goal of food inspection is to preserve health, probably the most precious gift anyone can have.

I used to be political attaché to the Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

The best!

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

There are some remarks that I cannot make in this House and I do not want to be partisan, but I remember very well that, in 1978, Quebec faced the same problem the federal government is now confronted with, that is the multitude of food inspection agencies.

For example, I will tell you what the situation was in Quebec in 1978. At the federal level, there were at least three departments, Agriculture, Health and Fisheries, and the situation was similar in Quebec. In addition, the Montreal area, Quebec City and a number of other major centres in Quebec had their own food inspection agencies.

Therefore, people dealing with food inspection said: "We respect the principles and objectives pursued by food inspection agencies, but enough is enough. It is impossible to work, food inspectors are always on our backs and they contradict one another". There was no consistency.

So, the federal government is now looking for consistency, very late of course, almost 20 years after Quebec. We agree with that objective because, at least, there will be only one federal agency. However, since there is also one agency left in Quebec, there will still be some duplication in respect to slaughterhouses.

I know about it. In my riding, there are slaughterhouses, as there probably are in every riding. These are referred to as type A and type B slaughterhouses. This may not mean anything to the people who are listening and who are not concerned by the issue, but these are the categories. Some categories of meat are approved by the federal government. Others are approved by the provincial govern-

ment. In some cases, this means duplication for the businesses. There is still some duplication left, which is unfortunate.

That is why I agree with the member for Frontenac. He is telling us that one cannot stop the federal government from moving forward, because of some rules involving shared jurisdiction in agricultural matters. But please, do respect provincial jurisdiction in this area, as well as in health. Health is even more of a provincial jurisdiction than agriculture.

Personally, I hope there will be agreement between the provinces, even if the agency is federal. That would be simpler for everybody. It is also possible that we, in Quebec, do not want to control what is happening in British Columbia. If that province is more interested in letting the federal government do the whole thing, so be it. Except that, in Quebec, we have a specific culture. People always equate culture with language, but there is much more.

You know that, Madam Speaker. You come from a region that has a specific culture. That can also be true for food, or gastronomy. Now, this bill is suggesting that one agency could do the work efficiently for all the different regional cuisines.

A while ago, there was a reference to the cuisine of the Lac-Saint-Jean region. That is really good cooking. I know, because I have tasted it. Each region has its own specialties. Even the region of Edmundston, your region, Madam Speaker, has its own specialties. You know that people have different customs in different regions.

I do not want to go into distinctions, but we know that French speaking people do not eat the same food as English speaking people, whether they are in New Brunswick, in Quebec or elsewhere. We must recognize that fact.

In this case, who is in the best position to deal with these problems? The closest level of government. I am from Quebec. In my case, the closest level is the Government of Quebec, and all the more so because Quebec has been a leader since 1978 in matters of food inspection. At that time, I worked in the office of the Minister of Agriculture for Quebec, Jean Garon. I can name him since he does not sit in this House. That is to say that I followed this issue closely. Everybody quoted him as an example.

Incidentally, during our consultations, I met old acquaintances from the Quebec department of agriculture. I was told: "Strangely enough, the federal government is trying to copy us". So much the better if Quebec can influence and try to improve something that will apply somewhere else. I have nothing against that. But I believe the federal government should take into account the fact that Quebec's mindset, culture, way of life, food, and behaviour are quite distinct.

At least, there is some change, some improvement. Instead of three federal agencies there will be only one. It remains to be seen whether this agency will respect areas of provincial jurisdiction.

I want to commend the member for Frontenac for his hard work on this issue. He brought it up time and time again in caucus, at every meeting, to make us realize how important this debate is. He mentioned it to me yesterday, and again today.

He even told me: "My dear colleague from Lévis, I know you have some experience in agriculture, even though it is no longer your field". Finding his exemplary perseverance and tenacity irresistible, I came here to speak in favour of his amendments, to support his views. We will never say it often enough, the member for Frontenac is a staunch supporter of the Quebec farming community. Without sounding like a victim, he has often said that farming was not mentioned enough in speeches in this House. If it were not for the member for Frontenac, the member for Lotbinière, and the member for Champlain, we would not hear much about farmers.

If we were to rely on the Liberal Party, the government, to speak about farming in the House, we would never hear about it. Today is a case in point. It is frightening.

Food inspection is a concern not only for farmers, but also for consumers. How is it that no Liberal members of the health and agriculture committees are speaking on this issue? I am not allowed to criticize them for being absent, but I can criticize them for being silent. This is incredible.

In conclusion, I will congratulate the member for Frontenac. I hope that members opposite will reconsider their position and join us in this extremely important debate on the issue of respecting areas of provincial jurisdiction.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, I realize that the Liberal majority has decided not to answer the call of the member for Lévis. Once again, they remain silent on agricultural issues.

I am happy to speak to the amendments proposed by the member for Frontenac, telling the federal government that, even if it did update its vision of Canadian federalism and merged together all federal food inspection agencies, it was high time to make those changes because there was a terrible mess in that area.

However, in doing so, because of its very limited view of what had to be done in that sector, the federal government disregarded

the fact that provinces already had some expertise and that they had developed some know-how.

With his amendments, the member for Frontenac wants to make the government listen to reason and realize that it should not interfere in provincial jurisdictions with this bill on food inspection.

Let me give you three main reasons. Sometimes we hear people say that separatists are against anything federal, but that is not the problem in this case; it is a matter of principle, of logic, of common sense.

Everyone knows about the first example, the raw milk cheese. Thanks to a Canada-wide way of thinking, a view I would say is almost cultural, they came to a ridiculous conclusion that mainly affected Quebec raw milk cheese producers, because there are more producers in Quebec, but also all Canadian producers, of course. The Bloc Quebecois led a powerful fight on that issue at the federal level.

Did the Government of Quebec initiate the same kind of action in the case of food inspection? Not at all. Our practices are different, our point of view is different, but this has to do with our culture, with our perception of the future of our society, and it translates into concrete initiative like these.

Our first example was the planned ban on raw milk cheese. We had to wage a public fight, we had to demonstrate publicly the ridiculous side of the position taken by federal officials in order to win our case. Quebecers are looking forward to the day when it will no longer be necessary to do battle in the House in order to get things that make sense.

I would like to give you another example. If we allow the federal government to intervene in the area of food inspection, if we let it set standards and operating procedures, we will get some strange results. A case in point is lamb production.

Lamb production in Quebec is very different from lamb production in the rest of Canada. In Quebec, there are many small farmers with 200 to 300 sheep, sometimes less. In western Canada the flocks are much larger.

When a disease that should be eradicated is found in one flock, up to two years ago the practice was to slaughter all the sick animals and those who might have been contaminated, in order to eliminate the problem.

But the federal government, under pressure from western producers, who can be counted on to defend their interests, has changed the procedure. But it has always decided there would be only one rule across Canada; now, it was quarantine. The major impact of this in Quebec is that the management of a producer's herd may be totally paralyzed because, when a producer has 200 animals and they are all placed under quarantine, we might as well say he has to shut his farm down. In western Canada, if 200 animals out of a herd of 3,000, 4,000 or 5,000 are placed under quarantine, the economic impact is not the same at all.

This is to show you that if we decide that the federal government can interfere in this way with food inspection and management, we will get absurd results similar to the one I just described.

There is another sector in which the federal government should not enjoy unjustified powers, that is, the management of slaughterhouses. Our slaughterhouses vary widely in size. We need standards that may differ for the various types of slaughterhouses, without putting aside the rules on food quality and the guarantee that diseases will not spread.

There are still small regional slaughterhouses that can work. They are often multifunctional slaughterhouses that slaughter different kinds of animals. These facilities need to be regulated differently from what might be a very large slaughterhouse dealing with a single species, say pigs. There are major differences in terms of management, which results in practices being different from region of the country to another. In that sense, to give the federal government the power to establish standards and, with these national standards, to interfere in any province is not doing Quebec or any other province a service.

I would like to come back to clause 11 of the bill and to the amendment we put forward so that each province could veto the use of this provision by the Minister of Health.

We would not want to find ourselves in a situation where the federal government could decide to get involved, to interfere in a certain area-raw milk is still an excellent example to illustrate this point-and the province would then have to prove such interference is uncalled for. The onus should be reversed and each province should have a veto on the application of this provision so that, any time a decision made by the federal government in a given area is in contradiction with the province's objectives, the province may say: "Thanks, but no thanks. This just cannot be done here, and the reason for that is quite simply that it is not in keeping with our way of doing things".

We must therefore ensure that this bill to standardize food inspection at the federal level does not lead to what would amount to across-the-board standardization and that those who have a centralizing, federalist vision of Canada are not given yet another tool to impose national standards in an area that requires a level of flexibility unlike what is provided for in this government bill.

We must ensure that the provision about agreements respecting food inspection entered into by the federal government and any of the provinces does not leave the door wide open for federal interference in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

To let the federal government provide services to the public on behalf of the two levels of government, thereby directly interfering with provincial jurisdiction, is only perpetuating a pattern. Once again, we have a basic choice to make: do we want a federal system where the delineation between provincial and federal jurisdictions is an incredible mess? Or could we not at least, while we are in this system, clarify the respective jurisdictions and let provinces keep the jurisdiction they have as regards food inspection?

As we can see, provincial governments, or Quebec in any case, are 10, 15, or 20 years ahead. Back in 1978, food inspection responsibilities were assigned to one department. Today, in 1996, the federal government is putting forward a proposal to that effect, but its proposal still reflects the old political assumption that the federal government should control all areas of activity.

This could lead once again to the problem of having to manage national standards, which do not necessarily apply easily and appropriately to each of the existing areas of activity.

As for constituents of Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, those involved in farming in these various areas, every time they see duplication of government services, they point it out. They were delighted to see the federal government reduce the number of food inspection groups. It was about time, because three departments were involved, whereas there will be only one from now on.

This bill could, and must, be improved by giving provincial governments control over food inspection, so that, in two, three, or five years, we will not be in court over legal complications. If those concerned by food inspection measures need a loophole, in order to elude the law, well, let us leave the bill as is, as it will give them an opportunity to do so. Then, all they will have to do is blame governments for not minding their own business. Therefore, there must be a fee structure.

The burden of proof must be reversed. Food inspection must come under provincial jurisdiction. The federal government could, through its legislation, manage some aspects which fall under its jurisdiction, but it must not be allowed to interfere in such a way that, in two, three, or five years, through regulations, it ends up with even greater control. This is why I support the amendment by the hon. member for Frontenac.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is the House ready for the question?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The division on the motion stands deferred.

The question is now on Motion No. 13. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.