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House of Commons Hansard #155 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.

Topics

EducationOral Questions

3 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this is a matter that stretches back a number of years. The government has indicated what its policy is in support of various forms of education across the country. In some cases we support education through tax rebates, such as the 68% that is rebated to local governmental authorities. There is other support that is provided by other means and it is not a case of one size fits all.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Forseth Conservative New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has tabled his glossy report called “Global Partnership Program—Securing the Future”. He talks about security from terrorists getting nuclear material but not once does he mention the stated mission of Iran to get the bomb and follow the pledge of its prime minister to wipe Israel off the Earth. Just voting once a year at the UN for a motion that denounces human rights in Iran does very little.

Why has the minister failed to show leadership and lead a concert of nations to bring Iran before the UN Security Council over its nuclear weapons program?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first, I think the opposition should acknowledge the leadership that this government has been playing at the United Nations. For the third year in a row we have been winning this resolution on the human rights abuse by Iran. This was an extraordinary achievement by our government last week at the United Nations.

On the nuclear issue, we have absolutely condemned the words of the Prime Minister of Iran on the wiping out of Israel. We have rejected that. We have condemned it. We are working with our allies, the United States and the European Union. I am one who believes that soon we will have to take Iran to the Security Council over this nuclear issue.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

November 22nd, 2005 / 3 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, Quebec's agriculture sector is paying the price for a federal program ill-suited to its needs. Although the Government of Quebec and the Union of Agricultural Producers have already done their share in the Colbex abattoir issue, the conditions set by the federal government prevent Quebec farmers from easily accessing the program.

How can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food explain that, instead of helping farmers, the new requirements make it more difficult for them to access the program?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

3 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, the program is not putting on new conditions. The program was in fact expanded. In cases where there is a producer owned operation, the increase has gone from 40% to 60% in terms of what the loan guarantee can provide. In terms of equity, we provided a specific program that will assist producers in putting equity into the plan. We provided additional assistance to help develop business plans and to do feasibility studies in terms of proposed plants.

We have a very vibrant, active and expansive program to assist with the development of new capacity.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, first nations across Canada are increasingly developing plans for large scale commercial and industrial development projects. We now have Bill C-71, a first nations led initiative that would enable first nations to increase the number of major commercial and industrial projects on reserves.

Could the parliamentary secretary tell the House how Bill C-71 would improve the quality of life on reserve and help first nations communities build a brighter future?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

London West Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, I would encourage all members in the House to actively engage in the movement of this legislation.

The first nations have worked in partnership with the government and have a very direct stake in the proposed legislation and are pursuing opportunities to improve economies and create jobs. The bill would mean more opportunities for well-paying, meaningful jobs on reserve, along with better education and skills training, and a brighter first nations community across the country. I encourage the House to move rapidly.

HealthOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Independent

Bev Desjarlais Independent Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, on April 27, 2004, the health minister admitted that the Liberal government was open to the public paying for private health care. The use of private for profit companies for nurses, surgery and diagnostic testing increases the costs to the health care system. This also goes against what Canadians want, which is a quality, accessible, not for profit, universal health care system.

Would the Minister of Health explain why the Liberal government is supporting private for profit health care?

HealthOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that we have strengthened public health care. We have provided more resources. We are training more doctors. We have more residencies across the country for international medical graduates.

The fact is that it is the NDP that walked into the lap of the Tories who actually want to destroy health care. Now the leader of the NDP is doing the work of the Conservatives in trying to call an election which is unnecessary and no one wants.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I read a report today that a Supreme Court vacancy may be filled before the federal election.

Order in Council appointments, on my reading of our conventions, should not be made when there is a question of confidence by the House in the government.

I would refer you, Mr. Speaker, to Pierre Trudeau's minority government in the 1970s when he was advised by the Privy Council Office that during the period of time when there was a question of confidence in his government that had not been settled definitively by the House that he not make order in council appointments.

However I also noted in the report today that the justice minister spokesperson said that the government not only had the legal right to do so when there was a question of confidence but that it had the legal right to appoint a Supreme Court judge during the election period.

I believe that clearly there is a question of confidence in the government today and certainly by next week there will be a question of confidence in the government and we will likely be into an election period. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you consider this a point of privilege in the House that order in council appointments not be made during this time and especially not during the election period.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

During question period, in reference to the former president of VIA Rail, Mr. Jean Pelletier, the member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam used, most likely unintentionally, the word “bandit”.

Even if we are disputing how he did his job, no criminal charges of any kind have been laid against Mr. Pelletier.

I want to give the hon. member the opportunity to withdraw his completely undignified remarks.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did use the word “bandit” in French, which of course means thief, but I was not specifically describing Jean Pelletier. However, if I did use language that was unparliamentary I withdraw it.

Points of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I believe we will treat that matter as complete.

With respect to the first point of order raised by the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills I am sure he is aware that the Speaker of the House does not decide whether motions before the House are matters of confidence or otherwise. What is more, the Speaker has nothing whatever to do with order in council appointments.

While the hon. member has made a representation that I am sure the Minister of Justice was fascinated to hear, I do not believe it is a matter that either constitutes a point of order or a question of privilege for the Speaker to make any decision on.

I appreciate the opportunity to say so, but I am afraid there is nothing more I can say on that subject.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

When the debate was interrupted for question period, the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake had the floor and he has six minutes left in the time allotted for his remarks.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to reiterate that I am splitting my time with the hon. member for Central Nova.

Just to bring some clarity back into the discussion, I want to reiterate that the Conservative Party has 24 members here who are farmers or who have been involved in farming. I am one of those individuals who knows that having a successful WTO is going to be vital to the success of my family farm operation.

I also have experience in the dairy industry. I used to be a cattle buyer and used to buy cattle out of dairy farms. I saw how well the dairy industry succeeded because of supply management. We want to ensure that it continues, but there is no doubt that we have to have a successful conclusion to the World Trade Organization talks in Hong Kong. Talks may slide into next year, but we have to see this come to a successful resolution.

What we are saying here today is that Canada has to be a leader in this issue. We are the third largest agricultural exporter in the world and yet we are not sitting at the table. The mini-ministerials, the countries directing this discussion, are actually made up of five countries: the U.S.A., the European Union, Australia, Brazil and India. Canada is absent.

We are not there advocating for our farmers. We need to be there advocating that we need sensitive commodities protected where supply management fits in, and that we have to have a successful sensitive commodity definition. We have to have a successful guideline set out as to what percentage of commodities in any given country are allowed to be filed that way and we are not advocating that. We are doing it all through back doors, but we are not being up front and open about it.

We also have to talk about our grains and oilseed producers, our ranchers and hog producers, who need to have increased opportunities from the World Trade Organization. As we heard here in the House today, and we talked about it often throughout this session, the farm income crisis is the worst in history.

The reason that the minister can stand up and say that the government has delivered so much money into farm hands over the last two years is because the crisis is so bad. Even with the money that has been coming out as support payments, we are still in negative margins. Farmers are not making any money.

We have to have a World Trade Organization result that will address the trade and production distorting subsidies that exist in other countries. That is why we have to be at the table with the European and the Americans to ensure that their trade distorting subsidies are removed.

We have to bring down their domestic support to a level that is comparable to what we have here in Canada. We have to ensure that their export subsidies are eliminated, that food aid is only used for actual food aid and not used to dump commodities into other markets like we see around the world and hold back development in those countries.

More important than anything else, we have to have market access. We have to ensure that our producers can access markets that are more profitable, so that we can sell commodities that we grow here and can export. Unfortunately, the motion does not address it. I would love to see the motion amended, so that not only are we committed to supply management but to all of agriculture.

As we stated earlier, only 10% of agriculture in Canada is dependent upon supply management and 90% is dependent upon access to foreign markets. We are exporters of 90% of what we produce, whether it is corn, wheat, barley, beef, pork or bison, we have to have those open markets. We have to ensure we have a successful WTO negotiation.

That is why we have to ensure that we provide direction to our negotiators, have an official Canadian position, and that the position should be that, first, we are supportive of supply management and we want to see it protected under sensitive commodity. Second, we are going to open markets, reduce subsidies and tariffs, and ensure that the rest of agriculture succeeds.

With that type of motion, 100% of agriculture would be taken care of and we would be addressing the entire issue that we want to see as a successful conclusion to the Doha round.

One thing we need to be concerned about, and this was reported today in the Ontario Farmer, is that back in July 2004, during WTO negotiations, there was already an agreement signed by the government that threatened overall supply management in egg, dairy and poultry producers. It committed Canada to reducing tariffs in proportion to reductions made by other countries.

What is said in the Ontario Farmer is that a 10% quota cut is coming down, which is essentially 10% more market access. Combine that with the 12% that we have already lost in imports because of poorly defined definitions out there in things like butter oils and caseinates. We are losing market share in those industries all the time. We have already lost 10% plus 12%, so it is already at 20% access to the supply managed industries. We need to find the tipping point.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Middlesex—Kent—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague's speech and certainly value his input, both at the agriculture committee as well as during this debate.

He indicated in his speech that there were 24 farmers in his caucus and I respect that. We do not have 24 farmers in the Liberal Party. I would like to ask my hon. colleague, during the Conservative convention earlier with the 24 farmers, why did it take an Ontario delegate to put forward a motion, not only to support the goals, but also to support the concept of supply management?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that my hon. colleague is a great contributor to our agriculture committee and that she brings her farming background and experience to the committee's work at all times. I want to read what the Conservative Party passed as a resolution that came out of our meeting. It states:

The Conservative Party believes that it is in the best interests of Canada and Canadian agriculture that the industries under the protection of supply management remain viable. A Conservative government will support supply management and its goal to deliver a high quality product to consumers for a fair price with a reasonable return to the producer.

We are 100% behind supply management. We have definitely benefited from the quality food products that are brought forward. I know, from experience, that the product price in the marketplace in Canada versus the United States is very similar. It has done a great job in ensuring that consumers are receiving a quality product at a reasonable and fair market value.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague for once again restating the Conservative Party's commitments to farmers, to agriculture, and to the supply management system. I have to give kudos to the member of the Liberal Party who pointed out that this was recently reaffirmed at our policy convention. This is Conservative Party policy and I am delighted that she highlighted that for us.

I want to come back to something the hon. member said, which was the importance of support for our country's position at the World Trade Organization and our support in the international arena for our farmers and agricultural products. He indicated that he believes the federal government is absent from pushing Canadian farm and agriculture issues in the international sphere. I wonder if he would agree with me that there has been an absence of leadership domestically, within Canada.

Let me give an example. We have had three budgets in this country in the last eight months. I defy people to have a look at any of those documents and come away with any inkling that agriculture is a priority with the Liberal Party. I listened to the third budget here within the last week. I did not hear anything about the government's commitment to agriculture or support for any of these things. I do not think anybody heard anything and that is a shame.

We have been pushing for changes to the CAIS program. We want support for the supply management system in this country. We would have liked to have seen changes in federal excise tax as it applies to the wine industry, but we did not hear any of that sort of thing. I wonder if the member would agree with me that not only is there a lack of leadership in the international arena but there is a lack of leadership at the domestic level as well.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that farmers have felt abandoned over the last number of years.

We have had three budgets brought forward in the last eight months and not one gave any more money to agriculture. The last two did not even mention it. We have a situation where farmers feel that they have been completely forgotten. They wonder why there is not any support coming. They wonder why there is not any leadership at the WTO.

As the third largest agriculture player in the world, we should be sitting at the table on those mini-ministerials laying out our position, advocating for farmers, and ensuring that we have a position where they are adequately protected and represented. That is not happening. Instead, we want to go behind closed doors and have little private discussions.

We cannot expect the Europeans, Americans, Brazilians, or Indians to say that Canada wants this and that they should bring that forward. That is not going to happen. If we are not at the table negotiating and advocating for our farmers, we will never have the opportunity again. We are abandoning our farmers by not being more active, more aggressive, and ensuring that we have a position where we are going to get the best for our producers.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin my debate by acknowledging the wonderful remarks of my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake and the practical hands-on knowledge he brings to this debate. As a rancher, as someone who grew up working in the ag sector, my hon. friend knows of what he speaks. He has put before the House and before Canadians via broadcast a very practical and common sense approach that we should be pursuing.

Sadly, that has not been the record of the government. Somehow, common sense does not enter into the equation. What we are seeing now is the shameless pre-election posturing that has had a detrimental impact not only on this issue, but on so many others.

I am pleased to take part in this debate because it is so timely. It speaks to the importance of our supply management sector and the negotiations that are under way at the World Trade Organization.

The motion unfortunately does not deal with the other agriculture sectors that also have a clear and a vested interest in the WTO negotiations. I should acknowledge as well the work of my colleague from Ontario, our critic in this area, who has done yeoman service in presenting the very legitimate concerns of the ag sector. There are differences. This is perhaps one of the most diverse areas of the economy and also one of the most challenged. This debate nor any debate on this subject should not pit one sector versus another.

Supply management as we all know is based on three pillars: market based pricing, production quotas and border controls. Producers only produce enough product to respond to the consumers' demands. This promotes stability in price and in the market. Prices are negotiated with buyers in order to receive fair market value, fair market returns.

Border controls which include high tariffs on supply managed products prevent imports above the agreed level of market access. The dairy, chicken, turkey, and egg producers under supply management provide Canadians with high quality and affordable food in an efficient manner. In many cases it is the envy of other sectors. Canada's supply managed farmers do not subsidize and 100% of the producers' revenues come from the marketplace. Canadian consumers have had access to high quality products at reasonable prices as a result.

Survey after survey has shown that Canadian dairy products are actually cheaper than those found in the United States. That points to the efficiency and the innovation of Canadian farmers. They deserve a great deal of credit. This is not about government policy or management; this is about a tribute to those farmers who are actually working the land, working with animals and producing high quality products for consumers.

Dairy, poultry and egg farmers contribute a net $12.3 billion to the Canadian GDP, generate more than $7 billion in farm cash receipts, sustain more than $39 billion of economic activity and employ more than 214,000 Canadians. Canada's 18,000 dairy farmers create 50,800 jobs directly on the farm. Another 25,200 jobs are created through the provision of goods and services to dairy farmers. According to the Dairy Farmers of Canada, their farms provide as many jobs on the farm, that is over 50,000, as Alcan, which is a very large employer in this country.

Central Nova is home to some of the hardest working and most efficient farmers in the country. Last November Bernie MacDougall, president of the Nova Scotia Dairy Farmers, and Jack Ferguson from Pictou County visited me here on the Hill to emphasize the need to push the federal government to protect the interests of the supply managed sector at the trade talks. Almost half of the farms in Nova Scotia are under the supply management system. They also briefed me on the challenges that are facing the dairy industry with respect to the use of modified milk ingredients and the problems facing dairy farmers with respect to the BSE crisis in culled cows.

I know from speaking to the McCarron family, and Mary McCarron in particular, that this remains a concern and has hurt the industry significantly. It was not just beef producers as my colleague would attest. Dairy farmers as well took a big hit as a result of the BSE crisis and the mismanagement the government displayed in how that was handled.

Unfortunately, the Liberal government over the past 12 years has not stood up for farmers and has had to be pushed each and every time when it came to a crisis. When a crisis hit the agriculture sector, the needs of farmers unfortunately did not seem to register with the government.

I recall one minister of agriculture who proudly stated that supporting our farmers meant no further cuts to the agriculture programs. Lo and behold, somehow, somewhere the Liberal government forgot that the ability to produce our own food in a safe and efficient manner is one of the very fundamentals of a safe and secure country.

The current WTO negotiations on agriculture could have a huge impact on the supply managed producers as well as our export oriented producers. Much of the debate at the WTO focuses on how to address the huge amounts of subsidies that are being paid to United States and European Union farmers. Canadian supply management does not receive government subsidies. It is vitally important that our government aggressively makes that point at these talks.

Canadian farmers have suffered from poor ministerial representation in the past at WTO negotiations and it appears that this year will be no exception. An example of Liberals shirking their duties to Canadian farmers was the absence of both the Minister of International Trade and the Minister of Agriculture at the mini ministerial meeting that took place in Kenya on March 2 to 4 this year.

At that meeting member countries discussed their commitments to the Doha round. The international trade minister and the agriculture and agri-food minister were not at the meeting at all, because they were attending the Liberal convention. That speaks volumes. Once again they were putting political partisan priorities ahead of the interests of farmers and Canada's national interests.

Under the rules of the mini ministerial meeting, without a minister present no other representative of the country was able to speak. They were not allowed to be officially present. My colleague from Macleod suggested that he would like to go in the place of the minister if the Prime Minister decides to opt out, but unfortunately that cannot happen.

The Liberals have done such a poor job of showing up and participating at other conferences that other countries are looking at Canada and beginning to seriously wonder about our commitment to supply management. Canada's supply managed sectors ought to be setting an example at the WTO negotiations. The proof is that many other countries believe that supply management is purely a government subsidy program. We have to show up and forcefully make the case that it is not.

The ministers' poor showings at the WTO imperils the livelihood of farmers in Canada. In an already volatile situation, their absence hurts our farmers directly.

Canada is the third largest agriculture exporter in the world. Given that two of the ministers have given mixed messages at the WTO in the past and other member countries as well, this breeds confusion. It is not surprising that Canada is losing credibility among WTO country participants. I do not know which is worse, showing up with a confused position or not showing up at all. Either way, the Canadian ag sector is paying the price for ministerial incompetence or absence.

Former Liberal international trade minister Roy MacLaren went on the record recently in a Globe and Mail article on November 8 saying, “Canada has mysteriously disappeared from the global trade arena”. That is a scathing condemnation from an individual who was once very prominent in Liberal circles. He also stated:

Canada's current policy of ambivalence--offering little in terms of liberalization, free-riding on what others negotiate, and implicitly protecting our preferential access to the U.S. market by not pushing for an ambitious global deal--may buy short-term political peace.

Former Canadian trade negotiator Bill Dymond, now with the Centre for Trade Policy and Law here in Ottawa, stated, “Canada has become essentially marginalized”.

Last Friday Nova Scotia Premier Hamm and agriculture minister Chris d'Entremont met with farm groups. Minister d'Entremont said, “We're looking at being caught out by the tide as certain decisions are made. We need to be very firm on what our stance is and have that plan put forward”. Premier Hamm also has committed to attend the WTO meetings in Hong Kong next month to remind the federal government and to push it to stay on course.

Producers have a right to worry. In the July 2004 WTO negotiations the Liberal government signed an agreement that threatens supply management in the egg, dairy and poultry sectors. That July 2004 WTO agreement commits Canada to reduce tariffs in proportion to the reductions made by other countries. The Conservative Party supports all sectors of farming, including supply management. We believe that one sector should not be pit against another which has been a common trend among the Liberal government. Rather than make a decision, it causes confusion and breeds seeds of dissent within the industry itself. This should not be pursued.

Last March at our policy convention in Montreal, we reaffirmed our traditional support for agriculture. Our policy statement is clear. It states:

The Conservative Party views the agriculture industry to be a key strategic economic sector of Canada. We recognize that various regions of Canada and sectors of the industry hold competitive advantages in the agricultural production. National agriculture policy will reflect our belief that one size does not fit all.

Agriculture policy must be developed only in consultation with the agricultural producers.

I conclude my remarks by reiterating the Conservative Party's support for supply management. We specifically passed a motion at that same convention in support of supply management. We are ready to stand up for Canadian farmers at the World Trade Organization when the Liberal government is replaced with a new Conservative government.

I seek the unanimous consent of the House to move the following amendment to the motion that is currently on the floor. Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find there is unanimous consent. There has been consultation among the parties.

The amendment reads as follows: “That the motion be amended by replacing all the words after 'quotas' with 'and also ensure an agreement that strengthens the international marketing position of Canada's agricultural exporters so that all sectors can continue to provide producers with a fair and equitable income'”.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for Central Nova have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this amendment?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Rivière-Du-Loup—Montmagny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like a clarification about the amendment moved.

Since it is a Bloc Québécois opposition day, if an amendment is made, is it not only the support of the party moving the amendment that is needed for the amendment to be in order and therefore debated? I would like the Chair's interpretation of the Standing Orders on this point.