Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House once again and speak on a matter of grave importance for all Canadians, particularly to constituents in my riding of Timmins—James Bay, which is the issue of supply management.
I would like to commend the member from the Bloc who brought this forward because something very important is happening here. If we were to get all parties to agree on a very simple set of negotiating principles that we will stand by supply management, it would send a message, not only internationally but on our domestic front.
People across rural Canada are worried. We have seen a disintegrating rural economy. We have seen the disappearance of opportunities right across rural Canada. We see our young people leaving rural Canada because they believe there is no hope.
I have met farm leaders who tell me that they believe that rural Canada has been abandoned by the government. Now we are going into a very crucial stage in the WTO talks. We believe, as the New Democratic Party, in the need to end the price distortions that have come from heavy subsidization by the EU, and the U.S. in particular. We believe that markets have to be opened up, but we are looking at this in a very pragmatic light.
When we go to the WTO ,what else can Canada put on the table? What is on the table for us now? There is the Wheat Board, supply management with over-quota tariffs, and the 5% de minimis. There is not much else we can give in order to cut into the EU and U.S. subsidies. We know that even if we put all of this on the table, there will still not be any significant change in the distortion happening in commodity prices because of the heavy subsidizing.
The question is, where do we stand in order of supporting our domestic rural economy? We need to send negotiators a firm message that we are backing a system that works. Supply management works. The rural economy of Canada is broken right now.
Our producers right across the board are suffering, but one area that works is supply management. It does not distort prices. It is not based on subsidies. The New Democratic Party will stand by the right of farmers to choose the means that they choose in order to market domestic products in a fair and equitable manner, and no foreign body will tell us and our farmers how to market their products.
We also stand by the right of any nation to have a fair system to feed their own domestic markets. Unfortunately, that is not happening with the EU and the U.S. right now. I will use the example of Jamaica. It was forced to open its dairy markets under liberalization regimes brought in, not by the WTO, but by the World Bank and the IMF. The member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex mentioned earlier about the memory of hunger. Well, we are seeing how hunger is being caused by the EU's targeting of third world countries.
In Jamaica, 67% of the milk going into Jamaica or being bought in Jamaica now is from the EU, which is the most heavily supported agricultural regime in the world. In fact, it is paying $4.9 million U.S. each year to subsidize milk going into the Jamaican market. In the last 10 years Jamaican farmers have seen their market share of local milk slip from 24% to 4.2%, and in 20 years Jamaica has gone from 4,000 farms down to 100 farms.
The EU and the U.S. were found guilty for anti-dumping, but the Jamaican government was not able to stand up for its farmers because it thought it would take a bigger trade hit. So in a larger sense this is what we are seeing in Canada. We are seeing our government not giving very clear instructions that it will stand up for our domestic economy because we know that it wants concessions from the EU and the U.S. in other areas.
We have a system that works. Yet, we have not had from the minister a clear enough signal that he will stand by a very simple principle, that when it comes to supply management, we will not trade away our over-quota tariffs because they are one of the fundamental principles of supply management.
We have been told that this will move into the sensitive products box. That sensitive products box will have to hold about 11% to 14% of the rural economy and who is kidding whom? The U.S. will never put up with us moving 11% to 14% of our economy into a sensitive category. The U.S. is offering us 1%.
Even before we get to the negotiating table, we already are establishing the principle that we are willing to trade away. If union negotiations are held and the union leadership says something will have to be given up so it will give up between 10% to 90% of its rights, we know that negotiations will collapse. This has been pretty much the Canadian basis up to now. We are musing out loud about what we are giving away.
What we are doing here tonight in Parliament is sending a signal to the world and to our farmers that Parliament and the Canadian people are standing resolute. We are standing up for supply management and we are going into the next round of the WTO sending the firm signal that our farmers have the right to choose the means to domestically market their own products.