Mr. Speaker, the agri-food industry and food processors have a dilemma, and they do not know what to do about it. For example, according to the standard, for an item to be labelled “made in Canada”, 98% of the ingredients must be produced in Canada, which is totally unrealistic.
The Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State for Agriculture, the member for Jonquière—Alma, insisted on the 98% standard for labelling items as “Made in Canada”.
We know that even as he was insisting on that, the committee was discussing the matter with the processing industry, which said that the standard was completely unrealistic because it is virtually impossible for products like cookies, blueberry jam from Lac-Saint-Jean and ice wine from Ontario to have less than 2% foreign ingredients. We know that many sweets, such as cookies, contain a lot of sugar. No industry can achieve the 2% goal, so nobody will be able to use the “made in Canada” label.
From April to June, while the committee was doing its job and meeting with different processing industries, they went ahead with a bill. Last April, I addressed the first questions to the minister. He wanted to proceed with a 98% standard, everything was all right and he had consulted the industry. But that was not the case. The industry told us that it did not make sense. For example, the Leclerc company in Quebec told us its cookies could no longer comply with the ridiculous legislation put in place by this government and this minister's stubbornness.
Last July, the industry made many presentations to the minister. He stated that he had listened to the complaints and that he wanted to correct the situation. He says that he wants to correct the situation but then he says that he will write to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board to keep him informed.
What is the Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture) doing to correct a situation that is untenable for many food processing industries?
It also means that the committee's work was ignored. We told him. We warned him and told him it was untenable. And yet, in committee, everyone had agreed on 85% as an acceptable standard. Once again, as is the case with the employment insurance bill, they are ignoring the people's concerns and want to move forward with a bill that does not take reality into account.
I have raised this in the adjournment debate today to make the minister understand that it is time to act and that it is not difficult for him to meet with the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board because he is his colleague. He should immediately change the 98% rule and lower it to a percentage that is realistic for the agri-food industry and food processors.
We will come back to the House. We raised concerns last week but the government does not seem to understand the urgency of the situation.