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House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-2.

Topics

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 12:10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I suppose it depends on how one defines innovation.

We could talk about crown corporations and how the member's government used crown corporations as political patronage paybacks.

I would point quite sincerely to the situation with David Dingwall where basically there was a circumvention of the Industry Canada rules with regard to payments for programs and services that were routed back to him. It led to a great controversy about our crown corporations.

Canadians understand that this law will bring greater accountability. If there is going to be a greater demand on the public service with regard to the bill, then it is the duty of Parliament to ensure that our public servants are supported quite strongly in carrying out this law.

The New Democrats have no problem with a strong and accountable public service if we provide fair rules. That is one of the reasons we believe in strong whistleblower legislation. One of the things missing in the bill is that whistleblowers who are students and researchers are not included. We would like to include them in the bill. It is a shame that the other parties did not agree with that.

We believe that the public service will be better served by the bill. It will also be less abused, because it seems that flunkies or bureaucrats related to the sponsorship scandal have been the problem, but we know there are political connections in this file. The bill is an improvement.

I do not disregard the member's comments with regard to adding other levels of work on our public service. It is an important point that probably should be talked about more.

It is incumbent upon us to provide those appropriate supports. If there is a failing of that system, once again it will be Parliament that will have to provide the necessary means to correct it. I believe that Canadians in general view this as accountability in Parliament and in the whole system. We have to deliver on that in terms of real results and not just pass an act that does not provide a fair system for all.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 12:10 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the comments of the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. I am not sure whether he includes in his condemnation of the act the stricter rules to stop the revolving door between lobbyists and senior levels of government as another layer of requirements that somehow will overburden the bureaucracy and make it unworkable.

Perhaps the member for Windsor West could elaborate briefly on why stricter rules to stop the revolving door between lobbyists and senior levels of government are important to bring to the light of day what is actually going on. How is the public interest actually harmed by that kind of revolving door that blurs the lines of accountability?

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 12:10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will summarize very quickly. The member for Winnipeg Centre said this best in committee. He said the government made the commitment that it would end influence peddling and it would put an end to the revolving door that so angered Canadians in the previous government.

The transition team was not just ordering furniture for the new government and organizing office space, it was hiring the most powerful people in the country. It is a shame that the government has not lived up to its expectation on this and has now exempted the war room people. It is appropriate to end this debate with comments made by the member for Winnipeg Centre.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 12:10 a.m.

NDP

Le vice-président NDP Bill Blaikie

It being 12:24 a.m., pursuant to order made Tuesday, June 20, 2006, Bill C-2 is deemed read a third time and passed on division.

(Bill read the third time and passed on division)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

June 22nd, 12:10 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to be a member of Parliament representing an area where the agricultural industry is key. In addition, coming from a region where we find egg, poultry and dairy industries, I understand how important supply management is. This is a system that ensures a satisfactory return for producers and stable prices for consumers.

Allow me to quote a few impressive figures to show just how important supply management is. In Atlantic Canada alone, all supply managed commodities combined—chicken, turkey, eggs—account for $440 million. This for just four relatively small provinces. It is important to the economy of our regions. More importantly, there are more than 15,000 jobs that depend on it.

If the government begins to soften its stand on supply management, negotiate and accept compromises, this will jeopardize an entire industry in the Atlantic provinces, as well as the diversification of our economy.

On November 22, 2005, the House of Commons unanimously agreed to protect supply management and maintain current WTO duties.

However, on June 13, 2006, the Conservatives voted against a recommendation made by the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food that called for improving Canadian controls on imports and limiting, through tariffs, the amount of milk protein concentrate, which would allow the flow of our dairy products to stabilize. Allowing these products into Canada without tariffs undermines our own dairy industry.

And yet supply management of milk proteins on the domestic market is on the verge of crushing our small farms. The Federal Court ruled that such ingredients that come from outside of Canada and contain a high percentage of milk fat should not have been considered milk products for the purpose of tariffs. Without the application of these tariffs, the supply management system is becoming more fragile. That ruling paves the way for massive importing of milk fat substitutes.

This situation will lead to the collapse of the domestic market, to a certain degree, and could mean the loss of thousands of jobs. Billions of dollars in revenue and economic activity could be lost.

By voting against these recommendations from the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Conservatives abandoned Canadian farmers.

Our farmers are very upset that they are not receiving the support they need from the government, as they watch their revenues dwindle.

I share this frustration and fear that the agricultural industry has for the future. If supply management as it stands is changed, this would create a very big problem for Canadian agriculture.

I am fearful, but determined to put up a fight because I strongly believe that it is highly important not to weaken the supply management system.

For far too long, we have proposed compromises and we have negotiated. We have told our American and European friends that they could enter a certain percentage of our market and that we could enter a certain percentage of their market. We all would have been able to export. Exporting is one thing. Nonetheless, when we respect our commitments and our friends do not respect theirs, then we have to realize that negotiation and compromise have to stop.

As I said, supply management is not negotiable and no compromise is possible. We have to promote the system we have and protect it 100% in order to protect our industry.

The Minister of International Trade said we needed to consider the possibility of the WTO negotiations not succeeding.

On June 9, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said that the government stood alone against 148 countries in defending supply management.

In the event the government fails at the negotiations, will the minister promise to set up Canadian mechanisms that will help protect producers of milk, eggs and poultry, or will the government let the international market decide, as it does in other issues?

June 22nd, 12:25 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to reiterate the government's firm commitment to ensuring the success of the Doha round of WTO negotiations and promote the interests of Canada, particularly when it comes to defending our supply management system.

The sustained growth and prosperity of the Canadian agriculture and agrifood sector depend on our ability to compete in international markets. This is why we are doggedly pursuing within the WTO the elimination of all forms of export subsidies, a substantial reduction in trade distorting domestic support and truly improved access to markets.

Should we achieve these objectives, our agriculture and agrifood producers and processors will be the big winners. This government is therefore doing everything in its power to ensure a favourable outcome for the sector as a whole.

We are continuing to press for the implementation of a tariff reduction formula which would significantly improve access to leading markets in both developed and developing countries for our exporters.

We are also asking for significant reductions in market-distorting subsidies to producers currently provided by countries such as the United States and those of the European Union. That is why we are very happy that negotiations will be focused on the principle that the countries providing the largest subsidies will make the largest cuts.

We are also pleased that members of the WTO have agreed to eliminate all forms of export subsidies by the end of 2013. Thus, our exporters will be able to compete on a more equal footing in international markets.

At the same time, the government recognizes that, like all other WTO members, Canada has offensive and defensive interests. Our negotiating position takes into account the diversity of our agricultural sector. The government supports unreservedly Canada's supply management system all the while attempting to increase markets for our exporters.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has clearly stated this commitment to the supply management system. The government firmly believes that supply management is advantageous for poultry, egg and dairy producers and that this will remain the case in future. However, it is true that Canada is under a great deal of pressure at the WTO with regard to key issues that directly affect supply- managed sectors. Specifically, the 148 other members of the WTO are ready to accept a reduction in customs tariffs and an increase in tariff quotas for sensitive products.

However, as negotiations progress, we will continue to vigorously defend our interests and to seek the best possible outcome for Canada. The minister has also very clearly stated that Canada will not withdraw from WTO negotiations. We will continue to participate and to exert pressure to obtain the best possible outcome for the Canadian agriculture sector as a whole.

June 22nd, 12:30 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is not a matter of coming up with the best possible solution, it is a matter of protecting supply management in Canada, the dairy producers, the egg and poultry producers.

Of course hearing what the parliamentary secretary just said is worrisome, not only for parliamentarians, not only for the public, but it is worrisome for the entire industry. It is not enough for the government to say it supports supply management. It has to protect Canada. But that is far from the response we received.

I will give the parliamentary secretary another chance. If the negotiations fail, will the minister promise to set up a Canadian mechanism that will protect supply management? If the parliamentary secretary does not answer my question this time, I will take that as an indication that the government will adopt the same attitude it has for other issues and allow the international market to decide.

I am asking the parliamentary secretary to answer this question. Will the government protect supply management and ensure that Canadian mechanisms are put in place should the negotiations not work out? Yes or no?

June 22nd, 12:30 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, WTO negotiations are intensifying as Canada and other WTO members do everything in their power to come to an agreement on detailed regulations and commitments as quickly as possible.

Canadian producers and processors have a lot to gain if the Doha round of negotiations ends in a favourable agreement. The government will continue to stand firm in the negotiations in order to reach our goals and protect our interests.

The government has been clear: Canada will not withdraw from the negotiation process. Such a step would be unrealistic. The outcome of the Doha round will affect the agricultural sector worldwide, including Canada's agricultural sector.

The government will continue to work closely with other members of the WTO, the provinces and the sector to conclude negotiations by the end of 2006. We will work toward achieving the best possible outcome for Canada's agricultural sector.

June 22nd, 12:30 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley not being present to raise the matter for which adjournment notice has been given, the notice is deemed withdrawn.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until later this day at 10 a.m.

(The House adjourned at 12:34 a.m.)