House of Commons Hansard #10 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreement.


North American Aerospacedefence CommandAdjournment Proceedings

5:30 p.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Madam Speaker, I am glad to be revisiting something that I consider essential and that is denying Canada the right to impose tariff equivalents to replace import quotas on milk, poultry and eggs products. At the present time, the United States are arguing their case before a special panel set up under chapter 20 of NAFTA. The five national organizations dealing with supply management in agriculture as well as the Government of Canada are abiding by the agreements signed under the WTO.

This major trade dispute should be settled come springtime. Is the Minister of Agriculture aware that Canada has a lot to lose in this dispute, more than 138,000 jobs? Should Canada lose before this NAFTA panel, 138,000 "jobs, jobs, jobs" will be in jeopardy.

Is the Prime Minister aware that he is digging his own grave? One hundred and thirty eight thousand jobs, that is enormous. Consequently, what measures is the Minister of Agriculture going to take to win his case before the panel? Could he guarantee this House that he will defend this case as if his life depended on it?

The uncertainty in the agricultural industry in Canada is the reason why so many of our farmers are worried; and considering what the Minister of Agriculture is doing, how can they not to be worried? The government is burying its head in the sand. Is the Canadian government convinced that it will win this fight?

We must not fool ourselves. We must face reality and not hide from it. Above all, we must not hide from the consequences of a potential defeat that would undoubtedly drive many of our farmers to bankruptcy.

I wonder if the minister of agriculture intends, for example, to compensate farmers for the financial losses related to the value of their production quotas. Will the minister of agriculture and his government again go so far as to agree to make concessions to the powerful Americans a few months before the presidential election, as they did with softwood lumber, durum wheat and sugar, for example?

Let us not forget that Canada agreed to make concessions such as setting export quotas and increasing stumpage fees to make our American neighbours happy.

In the conflict between Cuba and the U.S., the timid behaviour of the Prime Minister and his Minister for International Trade puzzles farmers. Is this what awaits us? One does not play with 138,000 jobs. The government's casual handling of this matter is unacceptable, and the Bloc Quebecois formally notifies this government that it will never forgive carelessness or a moment of weakness in this matter of import tariffs on supply-managed agricultural products.

In closing, the Canadian government has the greatest cause in its hands. Everyone agrees that the Americans will be defeated, so we must not make any concession. Do not blink.

North American Aerospacedefence CommandAdjournment Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick


Fernand Robichaud LiberalSecretary of State (Agriculture and Agri-Food

Madam Speaker, I want to reassure the hon. member for Frontenac and say that Canada will not give up anything. Throughout the panel's proceedings, Canada will strongly defend its right to impose customs duties on dairy products, poultry and other American commodities.

The government worked in close co-operation with industry and provincial officials to prepare Canada's case, before it is heard by NAFTA's dispute settlement panel.

Canada and the United States have now submitted their briefs to the panel. In its document, the United States claims that Canada did not comply with its commitment, under NAFTA, not to increase its customs duties, adding that under the same agreement Canada must eliminate all such duties by 1998.

That position does not take into account-and I say it loud and clear-the fact that both the FTA and NAFTA clearly state that Canada retains the rights granted to it under GATT regarding agricultural commodities subject to a supply management system, including the right to apply WTO's tariff provisions to agricultural commodities of American origin.

In its brief to the panel, Canada insists that the tariff system it uses regarding these commodities is in full compliance with its international trade obligations under NAFTA and the WTO. When Canada agreed to have tariff provisions apply to Article XI, in support of products subject to the supply management system, it had obtained legal opinions expressly confirming the validity of its right, under GATT, the WTO and NAFTA, to impose resulting tariff equivalents to US imports.

We are convinced that our legal opinions are valid and we will vigorously defend the rights of Canadian producers before NAFTA's panel. We will not concede anything.

North American Aerospacedefence CommandAdjournment Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow, pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 5.43 p.m.)