Mr. Speaker, I rise again this evening in adjournment proceedings to find out from the Secretary of State for Agriculture how quickly the government will come to the defence of farm producers and especially Ontario and
Quebec producers of quotaed products. That is what we call rightly or wrongly supply management in the case of eggs, poultry and milk.
I will take a moment to remind the House of the issue. In response to market globalization, Canada signed an agreement with the United States known as the FTA. A few years later, we expanded the agreement, which became NAFTA. Mexico joined the two original partners.
In the fall of 1993-it was signed in the fall of 1993-GATT became the WTO. Within the context of the WTO and NAFTA, we set tariffs on imports of these various products to protect our agriculture, administered by supply management.
The tariff percentages are huge. But they protect our domestic markets very well. In general terms, they vary from 180 to 360 per cent. We must reduce these tariffs by 30 per cent over the next six years. It must, on average, be not less than 15 per cent.
However, the United States, in their usual heavy handed fashion, are making our life very hard. We had to argue before a NAFTA tribunal and we won five out of five. The head of the tribunal and the four judges supported without exception our tariffs on eggs, poultry and milk.
However, the trade representative, Charlene Barshefsky, swore up and down to the American farming community that she would fight to the end and win. Having lost under NAFTA, the U.S. is now turning to the WTO, and the reports I have are quite alarming, because there is serious question about this government's efforts to defend producers since we have seen how pliant it has been in the past before American demands.
I offer as an example the situation with durum wheat and lumber. We give them too much, when we should not. The point of my remarks is to make the government aware and remind it that the Bloc Quebecois will be there in the next elections to be on the lookout and ensure that the Liberal government defends the rules for our farmers who depend on supply management.