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House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Motions in AmendmentSeeds Regulations ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Will those members who support the motion please rise in their places.

And 20 or more members having risen:

More than 20 members having risen, the motion is adopted.

(Motion agreed to)

Motions in AmendmentSeeds Regulations ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, if one does not have content, I guess one can always play games, which is what we are seeing here today.

It is really disturbing to see the lengths the NDP is willing to go in order to almost destroy agriculture in this country. It is very unfortunate. The bill is an extreme bill. We heard the parliamentary secretary clearly delineate some of the problems with it and there are many. There are certainly huge problems in terms of the break from sound science.

I want to thank the Liberals this afternoon for coming to their senses and reverting to the position they held in the past when they were in government, and that is the position that we should be making decisions based on sound science. We heard the member for Malpeque say that he is willing to support the government's position on this. We think that is good for farmers. We are willing to work with him in any area where we can put farmers first. Certainly, being able to vote together on the bill will ensure that farmers are protected.

I am not sure why the NDP has consistently taken these positions that are so radically against the interests of farmers across this country. The interesting thing is I think the weakness of the bill is shown in the fact that the mover himself had to come back with 10 separate amendments in order to try to make the bill even palatable to his own people, never mind the rest of the population.

There are some very strange amendments with some very bad consequences for agriculture. One of them is Motion No. 5, which would add a new clause that states:

The analysis referred to in section 2 shall take into account the regulatory systems that govern genetically engineered seed and the crops and products that are derived from that seed in the countries that import Canadian agricultural products.

This is a very strange amendment because now we are not only dealing with a challenge to our regulatory system in terms of the fact that the NDP members do not want to take science into account, they want to take some other ambiguous impacts into account. They want to go to other countries and actually interfere with their systems as well. That is extreme. The amendment is not even clear. It does not define what is being talked about in terms of agricultural products.

One would expect that the provision would be limited to seed or grain which originally was the context of the bill, but this term being used is much more general and it certainly could be extended further. Maybe the NDP is deliberately trying to do this to capture livestock, their products and their byproducts as well. We would be getting into a situation where there are consequences that we cannot even count because there is no way of knowing what they are. The process for determining which countries import Canadian agricultural products is going to be very time consuming. If we want to talk about putting bureaucracies in place, this would certainly do that. This would put bureaucracies in place in our country. It would put bureaucracies in place in other countries as well.

It is clear that a much better way of dealing with these issues is what the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has been doing. He has gone around the world and he has been able to bring about the trade agreements that are so important. He went to China last April and was able to open up markets in China will make a huge difference for Canadian farmers.

Another free trade agreement, which the NDP opposed but which we finally passed was the one we made with Colombia which was critical for our specialty crop producers, particularly in western Canada. The NDP fought and fought against farmers' interests in trying to keep that free trade agreement from coming to reality. The minister has shown tremendous leadership. The Minister of International Trade has shown leadership as well on these files.

That is what is really benefiting our farmers. We are able to take our products around the world. We are able to take new technologies and apply them. That is going to be the future of agriculture, not this backward looking, fear-mongering stance that the NDP continues to take in its agricultural policies.

The member for Malpeque mentioned another place where the NDP is far behind the times. Hopefully, he will be joining with us as well. That is the area of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Clearly the NDP do not want to see western Canadian farmers succeed. This is just one more place where they have stood in the way of success in western Canada. I find it absolutely amazing.

I actually think the Liberals will probably come around on this one.

Motions in AmendmentSeeds Regulations ActPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

I don't think so.

Motions in AmendmentSeeds Regulations ActPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

At some point, they have to understand that business needs to be done on the farm. We have young guys who are coming out to farm as there is such a call these days.

I wish the member for Malpeque would let me speak because I want to talk about young farmers. I know he may have lost touch with agriculture, but he could certainly let me have my time.

Motions in AmendmentSeeds Regulations ActPrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member has an obligation to speak to Bill C-474. We know he is trying to mislead on the Canadian Wheat Board, but Bill C-474 is the topic tonight.

Motions in AmendmentSeeds Regulations ActPrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I believe the hon. member from Malpeque would not be implying that anyone is misleading anyone. However, I think he is raising a point of relevance. I will remind the hon. parliamentary secretary that we are on the report stage motion on Bill C-474.

Motions in AmendmentSeeds Regulations ActPrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, we are certainly glad to talk about Bill C-474. We need to put it in some context, and that is the context of success for farmers.

Obviously we cannot talk about farmers being successful in western Canada without talking about the freedom to sell their own products, the freedom to market their own products and the freedom to run their own businesses. Bill C-474 interferes with that almost as much as the Canadian Wheat Board interferes with that.

Mr. Speaker, you know how dead against Bill C-474 I am, so I am sure you have an idea of how important I think it is that our western Canadian farmers get freedom to market their own products, to go around the world to sell those products, to take those top-notch Canadian products across this globe so that people can understand far more than they do now how successful and how tremendous the farming sector in Canada can actually be. We would ask the other parties to join with us of course in providing that freedom for our farmers.

I will come directly back to Bill C-474 and to Motion No. 6, which is another one of the amendments that the mover himself has had to make in order to make this bill remotely palatable to even the people who want to support it.

In this motion, they want to add another new clause, which says:

The analysis referred to in section 2 shall take into account the economic impact on Canadian farmers and exporters whose established markets for registered seed or for the crops and products derived from that seed would be harmed as a result of the introduction of the new variety of genetically engineered seed.

There is a whole host of problems with this. We are reminded of canola. As the parliamentary secretary mentioned so well earlier, when canola was developed in western Canada, it gradually took off. People did not know what the impact of canola was going to be when it was introduced.

The NDP is saying, through this bill and through this amendment, that we have to stop these things. We cannot let them come on to the marketplace. We cannot see what potential they might have. We need to look at the negative side of the equation but not at the positive side.

Canola has developed from a very small beginning, with rapeseed. Then they improved the seed varieties and brought in canola, and I believe it is accurate to say that a $14 billion a year industry has developed from canola. The NDP would stand against that. If its bill were in place, if it had its way, the canola industry in western Canada would be wiped out.

I can tell members that if it did that, there would be virtually nothing left of the grains and oilseeds sector in western Canada because canola is a critical crop for many producers, especially those who do not want to be forced to market their product through a central marketer. Those folks, who have chosen to grow canola, grow it because not only can we grow good canola and we can grow lots of canola but we also have the freedom to market it as we choose.

There is a whole host of reasons why we should not be supporting this bill. I am thankful and western Canadian farmers and farmers across this country are thankful that the Liberals have come to their senses and have said that they will be supporting us in our opposition to this bill, because it is critical for the future of Canadian agriculture that we make sure this bill is defeated.

It is too bad that the NDP itself does not see this, that the member himself would not voluntarily withdraw this bill, because it would be much better for Canadians generally. It would probably be better, even in the House here, for those of us who know agriculture to be able to say that we have joined together, all of us have joined together here and we are going to do something that is good for farmers, rather than having one group or a couple of the parties here making the decision, once again, that they are going to oppose Canadian agriculture and not give it the chance to be the best it can be.

I could certainly talk a little more about the methodology that is involved in this bill. It is just flawed from beginning to end. The member who brought it forward wants to talk about the negative economic impact that the changes might have. He does not address the fact that there might be positive impacts from new technology, and it is once again a backwards way of looking at agriculture. It shows a disconnect from the future of agriculture.

We go out on the farm these days and there are new varieties. There is new technology. For example, people now have GPS in their tractors, they have it in their sprayers and they have it in their combines. They know down to the inch what it is they are doing, what they are putting onto their farmland, and it is certainly the same with so many other areas of technology.

This bill goes against all of that. We need to oppose it and we are thankful that the other parties across the way have decided to join with us on that. We ask the NDP to do that as well.

Motions in AmendmentSeeds Regulations ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

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

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for responding to the very important matter of funding decisions regarding the $10 million promised in budget 2010 to address the issue of violence against aboriginal women.

On October 1, I asked the Minister of Justice to tell the House when we could expect to see a plan set in place for the investment of the $10 million promised in the budget. By October 1, it had been more than seven months since the money was promised and the government had yet to disclose a plan. Again, not surprisingly, I was told by the minister that the government would reveal its plan in due time.

Well, we have all read or at least seen parts of the recent research from the Sisters in Spirit initiative, which shows that nearly 600 aboriginal women have gone missing or have been murdered. This number of missing or murdered aboriginal women is the equivalent of more than 19,000 women in the non-aboriginal community.

While it was reassuring that the government seemed to have finally noticed the importance of this issue, it now appears the government's announcement was more of a political diversion than concrete action.

Organizations on the ground have had the solutions necessary to start addressing the issue of violence committed against aboriginal women for quite some time. All that was missing was the funding and the political will from the government to act responsibly.

We need action to stop the overwhelming violence being experienced by aboriginal women. However, when the government finally did make its funding announcement in Vancouver on October 29, more than 40% of the money was dedicated to groups other than aboriginal women.

While we can all see the value of instruments and investments announced in Vancouver, the funding for them should have come from moneys other than those promised to aboriginal women. For example, $4 million of the $10 million promised to address violence against missing and murdered women went to the creation of a national missing persons database.

This creates significant concerns because such a database does not focus on aboriginal women alone, but rather will track both men and women from across Canadian society. While this is also necessary, aboriginal women are at the greatest risk of experiencing violence and should therefore have a specific database, such as the one developed by Sisters in Spirit. That information is already available and must be acted upon.

I also wonder about the way missing persons reports will be filed. In my conversations with Sisters in Spirit, it was revealed that part of the issue related to the fact that police reports did not indicate the ethnicity of the women. Police only report if the subject is white or non-white. This is extremely problematic. Had the government consulted Sisters in Spirit, it would have learned about the problem and could have ensured that ethnicity was addressed in the database.

We have also learned from Sisters in Spirit and from the Native Women's Association of Canada that they were not consulted by the government. How could the government make plans concerning the well-being of aboriginal women without consulting the largest group in the country?

Why did the government fail to consult with aboriginal women before making a funding announcement? Why has it managed to fund something that it will not address the issue facing women in our communities?

7:30 p.m.

Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles Québec

Conservative

Daniel Petit ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, the member's question shows that there is misinformation out there right now about the government's response to the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women. I would first like to thank the opposition member for giving me the opportunity to correct these misunderstandings.

I think that this issue is much too serious to be politicized, because young women have been brutally killed and families are still ravaged by pain. That is why I will answer this question very carefully and try not to leave anything out.

On October 29, the Minister for Status of Women announced the seven components of the most recent investment by the government in response to the unacceptably high number of missing and murdered aboriginal women, as indicated in the Sisters in Spirit reports.

We expect that these investments will enhance law enforcement and justice system interventions. This approach is in line with our throne speech commitment to “address the disturbing number of unsolved cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal women”, which we consider to be an urgent criminal justice matter, and our budget commitment to take “concrete actions...to ensure that law enforcement and the justice system meet the needs of Aboriginal women and their families.”

This is why a portion of the money will be allocated to creating a new national police support centre for missing persons. In addition, funds will be used to ensure that police officers on the ground across Canada have easier access to comprehensive information about missing persons so they will know immediately whether a person detained for any reason has been reported missing. This measure responds to the concerns expressed in the report by the Native Women's Association of Canada. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police passed a resolution calling on the federal government to show leadership with respect to missing persons, and the federal-provincial-territorial working group on missing and murdered women recently published a report.

The new national police support centre for missing persons will help all Canadians. Permanent staff will include members of the RCMP's national aboriginal policing services to ensure that missing aboriginal women remain a top priority. The new centre's mission will be to create connections among the five police intervention units currently responsible for solving cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women and to provide specialized services to regional and local investigators.

Five of the seven measures announced focus on these other aspects. Funds will be channeled to the western provinces, where Sisters in Spirit has reported the largest number of missing or murdered aboriginal women, to help them better adapt their victim services to aboriginal culture. There are also funds available for front-line aboriginal groups and organizations to create victim support services that meet the unique needs of families of missing or murdered women, which is important. This measure will help aboriginal victims and their families.

Some funding will also be allocated to help aboriginal communities work together to develop community safety plans that focus on and meet their needs, one community at a time, to bring about change—

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for London—Fanshawe.

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has said repeatedly that the Native Women's Association of Canada is supportive of its plan. That is not true. Let us set the record straight.

On November 9, 2010, the Native Women's Association of Canada made the following statement:

NWAC originally sent out a press release saying that we were supportive of a decision being made about the $10M allocation of funds from the Department of Justice Canada on the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. However, at closer inspection, NWAC and Sisters In Spirit have serious concerns of how this money is allocated...

This quotation makes clear that NWAC does not support the government's plan. The Conservatives are ignoring aboriginal women and further marginalizing them. This can be clearly seen with the government's refusal to continue the Sisters in Spirit initiative. The government does not actually care about aboriginal women. They are just a pawn in a Conservative shell game.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada works with provincial and territorial authorities, as well as with aboriginal communities and groups, to help find the most effective and appropriate solutions and to design co-operative approaches to address the many factors that increase the risk of violence for aboriginal women.

The seven measures that were announced on October 29 constitute concrete, targeted action that use this front line experience. Working together, the new national police support centre for missing persons, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the five police intervention units will be able to make a real difference in law enforcement. Aboriginal communities, groups and organizations also have real experience that must be taken into consideration in order to make sustainable changes.

I am eager to see how this investment will improve the current approaches.

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:40 p.m.)