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.