Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part tonight in the adjournment proceedings to discuss the upcoming negotiations on agriculture within the World Trade Organization.
As I stated in the House on April 19, it is important that the government be familiar with the views of all parts of the agriculture sector that may be positively or adversely affected by the trade talks.
In Canada, agricultural trade is more often than not a small family business competing against the world's largest corporations. In many ways it is like David versus Goliath, which makes it vitally important that we have a strong, consistent federal government looking out for the interests of agriculture.
We need rules that let the small guy trade with the big. We are all for world trade, but only if the rules are applied equally. Let us look at the recent example of Canadian beef not being allowed access to the European Union. I support our government's efforts to get tough by using the rules already in place to take action against the EU.
Trade rules applied equally and fairly are sentiments shared by many groups, including the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, but also the Ontario wheat producers, Ontario pork producers and Ontario dairy farmers to name but a few from my province.
Horticulture too is import sensitive but export dependent. This sector is but one example of the great stake they hold in the talks.
These negotiations, scheduled for November 30 to December 3 in Seattle, are crucial to Canadian egg, dairy and poultry farmers. They want the WTO to focus on eliminating subsidies, suggesting that the United States and the European Union still continue to subsidize their farmers while Canada has lived up to its previous commitments.
It is great to be free traders in Canada, but the world also must be fair traders.
Tariff rate quotas must also be set realistically and not artificially inflated according to the amount the importing countries can actually accept or afford.
We have known for two years in advance that agriculture will be on the bargaining table at the next WTO talks. For those years meetings have been held by Agriculture Canada officials with a cross section of producers groups. Meanwhile, our supply management system has proven year in and year out its effectiveness.
The new issues that should emerge in Seattle this fall will deal with biotech products and single desk buying and selling. Canada currently cannot send genetically altered canola to Europe any longer because of their fear of genetics, based on Britain's mad cow disease.
Members will know that there are no black and whites in trade, just varying shades of grey. Thus it is important that Canada stick to a position based on the views of all our agriculture sectors and not trade one off against the other. It is a tough row to hoe because of the very complicated issues that will discussed.
I remain hopeful that the World Trade Organization negotiations this fall will work toward implementing effective rules that will be fairly enforced enabling our agricultural producers to compete head on with a level playing field.