House of Commons Hansard #105 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was insite.


Second readingRespect For Communities ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the comments of my colleague across the way with great curiosity. I am from British Columbia and have experienced InSite being an issue in my province for many years.

I have one question. I wonder if the member could answer whether she thinks injecting heroin is safe.

Second readingRespect For Communities ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it is quite funny that this Conservative member wants to know if injecting heroin is safe.

Second readingRespect For Communities ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Yes or no?

Second readingRespect For Communities ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Yes or no?

Second readingRespect For Communities ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Is it a good idea?

Second readingRespect For Communities ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the other member is yelling at me over here right now, but the question that the member asked does not have a yes or no answer. Maybe we need to have a little workshop about open-ended and close-ended questions.

The injection of heroin is not the issue here. The issue is making sure that people who are already having substance abuse problems have access to safe injection sites and then to improve the quality of their life and get away from the drug abuse situation that they might be in.

This type of fearmongering and trying to bully or intimidate me in the House will not stop me from trying to support Canadians and making this country a better place.

Second readingRespect For Communities ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have waited a long time to speak.

In my neighbourhood, there are a lot of addicts. I heard some Conservative ministers ask whether we would want such sites in our backyard. Oh yes, I would.

Moreover, out of the four sites that are planned for Montreal, one will be in my riding. We find a lot of syringes in the parks and that is dangerous for the children. In Hochelaga, there are unfortunately a lot of bad drugs, which affect a lot of people.

An organization called Dopamine is already helping protect children and adults by picking up the syringes. It also gives clean syringes to addicts to stop people from getting sick. However, there is nothing Dopamine can do about bad drugs.

At a supervised injection site or a supervised injection service, specialists would be on site to ensure that people who inject too many drugs are protected, do not die and do not transmit diseases to others.

That is what we call harm reduction. That is what these sites are used for, and it has been proven effective in a number of cities.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about that.

Second readingRespect For Communities ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her intelligible question and her comments about her constituency. She is right when she says that places like InSite are not for drug dealers but for health care professionals. It is where our health workers are making sure that the members in their community are safer and are living healthier lives. Weaning these people off their addictions could be a slow process, but it is our health care professionals who are overseeing this.

I want to talk to the second point that my hon. colleague mentioned with respect to harm reduction. We know that the Conservatives do not like the idea of harm reduction in our drug strategy, because in 2007 they took the words “harm reduction” out of the national drug strategy. Now it seems they are looking to dismantle anything in our legislation, our laws, our policies, and our regulations that would support and endorse the approach of harm reduction.

We strongly believe that harm reduction is the way to move forward.

Second readingRespect For Communities ActGovernment Orders

June 17th, 2014 / 5:25 p.m.

Cambridge Ontario


Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for proving a point that we have been trying to make in this House; that is that the members opposite want more time to debate. They have already had 18 hours on this particular subject. More than 97 members have stood in this House to speak to this issue. One of the complaints I have heard from my colleagues is that the NDP members continue to stand up and read virtually the same speech and raise the same issues.

The member asked a pertinent question, whether heroin is safe. Heroin is made by bad guys. It is not a controlled substance. It is not produced in a government lab. Is that the next issue? That is a very pertinent question. Is the NDP saying that the Government of Canada, if run by the NDP, would use taxpayer dollars to make the heroin so that it is safe to be injected at safe injection sites? Is that where the NDP is going with this?

Second readingRespect For Communities ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister's question is quite interesting; that is all I will say.

Heroin is a dangerous substance. This is why we should not be using heroin. This is why most people do not use heroin. However, there are some who have, for whatever reasons, fallen into a negative spiral of substance abuse, whether it is heroin or any other substance abuse.

Take alcohol, for example. Many people in this country drink alcohol, and it is all right. It is culturally accepted. However, there people who have substance abuse problems with alcohol.

I am not saying that it is for the government to get into the production of heroin; I am not sure if the minister is suggesting that. No, heroin is not a safe substance to be using. That is not what the NDP is saying.

The NDP is supporting harm reduction in our communities. That is what the only safe injection site in Canada is doing: making the community actually better by improving harm reduction in that community

Second readingRespect For Communities ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business, as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed, from May 28, consideration of the motion.

Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The last time the House considered the issue, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot had six minutes remaining. She may resume debate.

Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I may be repeating some of the things that were said when we last examined this motion. If so, I apologize for this in advance.

I want to focus on the excellent motion brought forward by my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé which calls on the government to keep the promise it made to dairy and cheese producers.

To set the context, last October 18, Canada and the European Union concluded an agreement in principle on a comprehensive economic and trade accord. Seven months on from this announcement, an agreement has yet to be finalized.

We are talking here about an industry that generates many jobs. It is also important to point out that dairy and cheese producers have publicly expressed their concerns over the possible economic and commercial repercussions of this agreement on Canada’s dairy and cheese industries. Direct and indirect jobs are at stake, in both the production and processing sectors.

This motion aims to mitigate the potential impact of this agreement on the dairy and cheese industries. It also seeks support for Canada’s supply management system, which guarantees stable and fair prices, and in so doing protects our producers. We have consistently supported supply management in the dairy, poultry and egg sectors. This system is extremely important to our agricultural industry.

I am especially mindful of how important this system is, having talked to a great many producers from various sectors in my riding. If the terms of the agreement in principle are formalized in the final agreement, the EU will secure greater access to the Canadian cheese market. This would weaken one of the pillars of our supply management system, namely the regulation of imports. In the process, the system’s effectiveness would be threatened. As everyone knows, supply management is built on three pillars and if even one of those pillars is weakened, the entire system is put at risk. That is where the problem lies. Canada’s producers and dairy industry could incur losses. Canadian dairy farmers and their communities could lose a portion of their revenues to the European industry. That is not something we want to see because the economic development of communities and the jobs directly and indirectly linked to this sector would be affected.

As I said, the federal government has promised to compensate dairy and cheese producers, an offer that both Ontario and Quebec have accepted. This shows that producers are acting in good faith. However the government has yet to release any details of possible compensation options. This is not very reassuring for our producers or for the rest of us. My riding is home to a great many producers and its economy could be threatened.

I would also point out that in Canada, and in Quebec in particular, the dairy and cheese industries are flourishing. We have good reason to be proud of the growing variety of high quality products that have become available in recent years. In my view, it is critically important that we continue to support this industry, which helps sustain farms and farm labour.

Supply management does not involve subsidies. It does not provide handouts. At present, dairy producers are not receiving any government assistance. By comparison, in Europe, some producers are receiving government subsidies of up to 60%. Our dairy producers are not operating on an equal footing with European producers. This constitutes unfair competition. The situation does not work and is untenable.

The government conducted negotiations with Europe in a setting of utmost secrecy. The uncertainty created by this lack of transparency obviously had repercussions for the industry.

Investments in this sector are on hold while people wait to see how the industry will be affected by the agreement.

As I stated earlier, supply management is a system that works very well.

My six minutes have flown by. In the sixty seconds remaining, I will run down the list of organizations that support this motion: the Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Union des producteurs agricoles du Québec, the Quebec Milk Producers Federation, the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec, the Association des artisans fromagers du Québec and the Association des transporteurs de lait du Québec.

All of these wonderful organizations support our motion and want to work constructively with the government to resolve the problems associated with this agreement.

Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.


Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and express our government's strong support for Canada's dairy industry. Canadians look to our dairy farmers for the high quality, nutritious milk and cheese products to which they have become accustomed. Our hard-working farmers consistently deliver.

My riding of Kitchener—Conestoga is home to some of the most innovative and productive farmers in all of Canada. Whether it is on Huron Road or Pinehill Road in Wilmot township, Gerber Road in Wellesley township, or Floradale Road in Woolwich township, all through the beautiful riding of Kitchener—Conestoga, we will find well-managed and well-kept dairy farms that are producing high quality milk and cheese products. That is why when it comes to promoting Canadian agriculture at home and around the world, we ensure that the interests of our dairy farmers and their families remain at the top of mind.

Our government is proud to put farmers first, to defend our supply managed industries, and to promote the competitiveness of the dairy sector. This support extends to our international trade negotiations, including the Canada-EU free trade agreement. We are committed to the completion of this historic deal.

With the exception of a new tariff rate quota for cheese and the elimination of the milk protein substance tariff, Canada has not provided any additional access to the EU on any of Canada's supply management products. In addition, the three pillars of Canada's supply management system remain in place: production, border controls and pricing.

That said, we understand the concerns of the cheese and dairy industry. This is why our government has pledged to monitor the impacts from the implementation of the Canada-EU trade agreement on dairy producers' income, and to provide compensation to address such impacts if they materialize. It is a big “if”. I am very confident of the ability of our dairy farmers and the dairy sector to compete, and I am confident that there will be no negative impacts. In fact, I see great potential for positive impacts through the Canada-EU trade agreement for our dairy farmers.

We have been consulting with industry on this issue over the past five months and we continue to do so.

As members know, Canadians love cheese. They especially love Canadian cheese. In fact, demand for our great Canadian cheese made from our high quality Canadian milk has been on the rise in the past few years. In my riding, on the very road where my farm is located and where I have lived for over 60 years, I just recently visited Mountainoak Cheese. I tasted the cheese, and I am very confident that this cheese producer, which is producing cheese for a niche market, can compete with any cheese made anywhere in the world.

Across Canada, we have our classic cheeses, Monforte Toscano, Avonlea Clothbound cheddar, Grey Owl, Oka, and Mont-Jacob, which deliver exactly what we expect: mouth-watering flavour and great textures. Our cheeses are recognized globally for their taste and quality, and for very good reason.

This past December, at the 86th annual British Empire Cheese Show, the St-Albert Cheese Co-operative from eastern Ontario was crowned Grand Champion and received two prestigious awards for its aged cheddar. In addition, in October, Glengarry Cheesemaking, just north of Lancaster, Ontario, walked away with the Supreme Global Champion award at the Global Cheese Awards in Somerset, England. Its Lankaaster cheese was crowned the winner among 167 categories in Somerset, England, which is the birthplace of cheddar. This stuff is now flying off of the shelves in Ontario.

In fact, one cheesemaker told the standing committee meeting that she believed that there is an opportunity for Canadian cheese in world markets, including the European market, provided that exporters had the tools they needed to take the leap.

Beyond our award-winning cheese, there is a lot of good news on the horizon for Canadian dairy producers. Our government has boosted innovation investments and initiatives under Canada's new agricultural policy framework, Growing Forward 2. Growing Forward 2 is about helping farmers capture new opportunities, while building a strong agriculture sector for the future.

Under the previous Growing Forward framework, we invested in research clusters, including $7 million in the dairy research cluster. This cluster brought together industry experts, scientists and universities to focus on enhancing this industry's competitiveness.

Whether it is about the pork industry or the dairy industry, I am repeatedly hearing from farmers that they would rather see our government invest in research and marketing opportunities than go to their mailboxes for their cheques that come from the government. I am convinced we are on the right track.

Previous research found new practices to help improve the health of dairy cattle and the safety and quality of our milk. The Dairy Farmers of Canada did a great job in leading this initiative.

We followed up this great work by increasing our original investment under Growing Forward in the dairy sector by investing $12 million for a dairy cluster under Growing Forward 2. This investment will help to continue the cluster's great work over the next five years.

Overall, research in a new cluster is focusing on nutrition, sustainable milk production, as well as dairy genetics and genomics. In collaboration with our world-class scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, this leading edge research will make our dairy sector more competitive.

Genetic improvement for dairy cattle will boost productivity and profitability on the farm through greater health and feed efficiency. Canada is world famous for its dairy genetics, and the results of research and our strong dairy cattle improvement programs have helped to significantly improve milk production per cow over the last 30 years. We have opened markets in the Middle East, the Pacific Rim and South America, with exports of over $90 million in dairy genetics last year.

We appreciate the valuable role of the numerous organizations working alongside Dairy Farmers of Canada and our scientists who advance the work of the cluster, including the Canadian Dairy Network. I am proud that our government is supporting what industry has identified as the highest priority research by the best experts in the field.

Overall, through Growing Forward 2, we are boosting innovation spending to roughly $700 million at the federal level. With proactive investments of $3 billion by federal, provincial and territorial governments over five years, Growing Forward 2, as it is called, is driving sector growth and productivity. We are helping to achieve these goals by increasing our focus on strategic investments and innovation, markets and competitiveness. As we know, the dairy industry is a key economic driver, creating thousands of jobs across Canada.

Our government is committed to keeping this sector strong and profitable and helping all producers stay on the cutting edge. This is just part of the government's broader commitment to growth, to jobs, and to long-term prosperity, not just for the agricultural sector but for Canadians everywhere.

This is why our government will be supporting Motion No. 496. In fact, we have already taken action on a number of the initiatives that are described in this motion. Through the new dairy research cluster and Growing Forward 2, we can all look forward to continued growth and prosperity in this great industry in our rural communities and for our hard-working Canadian farmers.

I am thankful for the time that I have been given to express my support for the dairy industry, which has really been the backbone of the agricultural sector in the riding of Kitchener—Conestoga. I am very proud to represent the farmers there. I have had many opportunities to exchange ideas with them. Just recently, I hosted a round table with the dairy farmers and we were able to dialogue about some of the challenges that this presented. However, it would also provide to them with the opportunities that would be given to dairy farmers as they could benefit from the Canada-EU free trade agreement.

Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it does seem cruel to be talking about Canada's excellent cheeses at a quarter to six. I got very hungry listening to the previous presentation.

Having heard about the hon. member's great love for Canadian cows and Canadian dairy, I cannot resist sharing with the House the fact that I am not only the daughter-in-law of a dairy farmer but also a granddaughter of dairy farmers, and so I join everyone here in our support for our great dairy industry and the tremendous innovations that are happening there.

What I would like to talk about today, and what I think this gives us an opportunity to talk about more broadly, is our trade policy. I would like to discuss what is happening with the CETA deal and the need for transparency in our trade policy so that Canadians can see what is happening and the House can discuss what the deal actually contains. I want to talk about a trade policy that actually delivers, a policy whereby deals that are announced are actually concluded and whereby the deals that now stand concluded actually deliver the results. We in the Liberal Party know a good trade policy can and must deliver for the Canadian economy.

We need trade to work for us because we are a small country—not in geography, but in population—in a huge world economy. Without effectively joining Canada into the global economy, Canada will fail. Our middle class will fail to have the rising incomes that we are not getting now and that we really need.

We are really supportive of an effective trading policy. However, I am sad to say that we do not feel we are getting the results that a truly liberal trade policy should be delivering. In particular, I would like to talk about CETA.

The CETA deal, as we all know, was signed with a lot of fanfare on October 18 of last fall by the Prime Minister and the President of the EU, José Manuel Barroso. We still do not have that deal concluded, although we have had some opportunities. The Prime Minister was recently in Brussels. There was a lot of speculation and a lot of hope among Canadians that he would come home with a done deal. He has not done that. We would like to hear why. We would like to know what is going on.

The irony of the situation for us as Canadian legislators, at least for those of us on this side of the House, is that right now we and Canadian citizens are hearing more from EU officials and EU diplomats.They have been quite open in talking about how the deal is not quite ready and talking, quite frankly, about how that initial agreement was signed much earlier than is normal in these trade negotiations and that much more work needed to be done then. More seems to still need to be done now than we were led to believe when the agreement was signed with such great fanfare.

It is even the case that we have had a hard time tracking down what was actually signed. We submitted an access to information request to access the agreement that was actually signed by the Prime Minister and the President of the EU. Here is what we were told by the Privy Council Office:

A thorough search of the records under the control of PCO was carried out on your behalf; however, no records relevant to your request were found.

This really is theatre of the absurd. We really would like to know. I think everyone in the House would like to know and needs to know. As the private member's bill suggests, we need more transparency on what is happening. We need not just great photo ops, but the details of what is going on with these trade deals that are so essential for the Canadian economy and for Canadians.

What I am particularly concerned about when it comes to the CETA deal is that because of the timing, because of the lag between today, in the middle of June, and October 18, Canada now finds itself behind the United States in the queue of nations that are negotiating trade with the EU. The story of Canada, the story of Canadian diplomacy in the world, is understanding what it means to be the neighbour of the United States. There can be big advantages, but it also means we have to dance delicately and lightly and act smarter.

While we were ahead of the U.S., while the U.S. proposals were not on the table, there was a real opportunity for us to have the full attention of EU officials and EU negotiators. Now, however, I am very sad to say that people informed about these deals are saying that EU officials are, understandably, focusing much more time and energy on their negotiations with the United States. We are now, I am afraid to say, in a position where important concerns, including concerns of the Canadian dairy industry and of Canadian auto manufacturers, are going to have to take a back seat to the deal being hammered out by the Americans, and we may well find ourselves having to settle not for a deal made for Canada in Europe but for a copy of what the Americans are able to negotiate.

It did not have to be that way, given that this deal was being worked on earlier, and we would really like to hear why we have let ourselves fall behind a party that has a bigger economy to bring to the table.

I would also like to point out that despite the fact that many of us in this House agree that trade and exports need to be, and are, an essential part of a healthy Canadian economy, we are just not seeing that performance today. We have photo ops and we have trade deals announced, but they are not moving the dial when it comes to Canada's actual economic performance.

I do not ask members to blindly trust my assertion. I do not ask members to simply take my word when it comes to the undeniable fact that Canada's trade policy, although we are getting the photo ops and the announcements, is not delivering for the Canadian economy. Here is who I do ask members to trust: the Bank of Canada.

In its financial system review published this month, this is what the Bank of Canada had to say, in part, about export and trade and its performance for the Canadian economy: “In Canada, the anticipated rebalancing of economic growth toward exports and investment remains elusive....”

These are damning words. It is not enough to have photo ops of trade deals. It is not even enough to have trade deals. What we need are trade deals that do the job we need them to do, and that is to strengthen the Canadian economy. Right now, as the Bank of Canada economists say, we need a tilt toward exports. Trade deals are meant to facilitate that, but as the Bank of Canada says, that shift remains elusive.

We really need to see and would like to see more transparency about what the government is doing on this file. We need and want to see harder work on this file and more delivered results.

I would like to cite another source, another group that is deeply concerned about Canada's export performance. This is another group that we in the Liberal Party listen to very closely, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. What business has to say about Canada's trade and about export performance in particular is very worrying. Its report was issued just last month, and even the title is very worrying: “Turning it Around: How to Restore Canada’s Trade Success”. It states that “... the increase in exports and outward investment has been slow in recent years, and diversification to emerging economies has been limited.”

This is echoing the Bank of Canada report. We are just not seeing the export performance that we need.

The Chamber of Commerce is worried. In referring to “Canada's lagging trade performance”, here is what it says:

Despite more firms looking abroad, Canada is lagging its peers according to several measures. Over the past decade, the value of exports has increased at only a modest pace.

Most worrying of all, the chamber did an interesting calculation in which it backed out the increase in commodity prices that has flattered Canada's export performance. It concluded:

If these price increases are excluded, the volume of merchandise exports shipped in 2012 was actually five per cent lower than in 2000 despite a 57 per cent increase in trade worldwide.

Therefore, the real story—what the numbers say, what the Chamber of Commerce is worried about, and what the Bank of Canada is warning us about—is that our trade performance is lagging behind. We need to do better.

To conclude, we very much hope that we will have more transparency and better performance on the CETA deal and on deals with some of the big emerging markets in the world.

Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will do something I usually do not do, which is to actually give my speech in English this time. The reason is that in Quebec, there is no debate about supply management. People get it. There is no controversy about it.

When I read economists or pundits from large urban centres such as Montreal, Toronto, or Quebec—actually, rarely from Montreal, but from Toronto, Vancouver, or any other large setting—they are always against supply management. It does not make sense to me.

It happens largely in urban centres because they take the perspective of the consumer, even though they are wrong in this perspective or they are wrong in their statements. I would like to explain why supply management actually makes sense from an economic perspective.

It makes sense because there are coordination problems that are unique to agriculture. Some other domains can have those problems, but we witness them in agriculture. If in natural resources, for example, the price of copper decreases, the mining company or processor will tend to reduce supply by laying off people and reducing its production until prices rise again. The people on the boards making those decisions will make them without fearing for their livelihoods: the company will still be standing, so they can afford to make the decision to reduce supply.

For farmers faced with the same type of decision—if the price of milk drops, for example—the sensible move would be to do the same thing and decrease supply. That is what we might see if there was coordination. However, the lack of coordination in a pure market in determining the need for milk, for example, makes it impossible for the individual farmer to do that, because the farmer relies on production for a livelihood. Even though the individual decision should be to reduce supply, the mass of farmers will actually increase their supply, because they need to sell more to compensate for the drop in price. This is what we call the “tragedy of the commons”: individually it makes sense, but as a collective decision, it is a call for disaster.

The other point is that there is also a problem of asymmetry in market power. In the pure market economy, the individual farmer is a price taker. He has to take the price. He has no market power compared to the large processors, the large buyers of his product. Those companies, such as Agropur, Parmalat, or Saputo, are the price setters.

If there is no coordination among farmers, obviously the power in itself is really unbalanced. This is why there is a need for a countervailing power to make sure that the farmers can actually get organized. In some other jurisdictions, it takes different forms. In Canada, we have chosen to go with supply management.

To address this type of market failure, different countries have taken different routes. We often hear from the opponents of supply management that New Zealand is the way to go. New Zealand used to have supply management, but scrapped it. According to opponents of supply management, New Zealand let the market do its part.

The example is actually a fallacy, because in New Zealand there are now fewer farmers and fewer milk-producing farms. They decided to go a different route. Basically there is only one buyer, the Fonterra Co-operative Group, which is the result of the merger of 12 co-ops in New Zealand. Fonterra is buying 95% of the milk produced. Basically it is a large co-op that exports to about 140 countries.

There is one single buyer for all the milk. That means that the farmer actually has some protection. This process is very reminiscent of the Canadian Wheat Board, which we scrapped here in Canada thanks to the Conservative government. That is the way New Zealand decided to go. It is not a pure market economy. They have not scrapped supply management. They are not leaving anything behind. They left that large co-op, that large single buyer.

Looking at the European Union or even the United States, we see that they have taken the direction of subsidies. Even though there has been some progress in decreasing the level of subsidies in the European Union, it is still significantly high, to the point where the gains that we could make in the dairy industry in Europe are very theoretical at this point.

Obviously if the dairy products from Europe actually come to Canada, they are supposed to come without any subsidy to help production. On the other side, if we are exporting, we will be faced with a subsidized industry in Europe. So it is not sure at this point if we are going to be on a level playing field with the European Union on its own turf.

The United States is often referred to when we talk about the “high cost” of supply management because we tend to compare our prices to the consumer here with those in the U.S. We look at the U.S. and think the prices there are much lower. We say supply management has been a failure, but the prices are subsidized either directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or by the individual state's government.

Between 1995 and 2012, a period of 17 years, U.S. farmers actually received over $5 billion in direct subsidies from the federal government in the U.S. That is an average of $313 million a year. Looking at the last year available, 2012, it was actually close to $450 million in subsidies to the farmers in the U.S. The prices we see there are largely subsidized, which makes many economists say that basically the U.S. consumer is paying twice. The consumer is paying the regular retail price and paying through taxes as well, which is not the case here. Supply management is not something that the taxpayer is subsidizing. It is a mechanism that actually helps to ensure stability in the price that the producer receives.

Looking at Australia, which is probably the closest example of the liberalized market, it is almost liberalized, but it had so many problems when it decided to scrap what was akin to supply management that it basically had to subsidize those farmers who were in jeopardy. At the time when it started to fully deregulate at the end of the 1990s, it attached to the deregulation bill about $1.8 billion Australian, to actually help the transition. If things were not bad enough, because the farmers could not actually live on what they were getting, they had to add about $122 million Australian by the end of 2000, to help the industry, and that was given to about 7,750 producers.

As an example of the impact this deregulation had on farmers, the number of dairy farms actually dropped from 2000 to 2007 from 13,000 to 8,000, while the average herd, which is an important number to evaluate the productivity of the farm, increased from 170 cows to 225 cows during the same period. Therefore, we are seeing increased productivity, but supply management has also increased productivity. In my riding and in my region, even small family farms are a lot more productive than they used to be.

Economists say that prices are much higher here. There are many more aspects to the equation than just supply management. If we look at the price for pork in the U.S., for example, which is not a supply managed industry, and compare it to Canada, often it is half the price. It is not supply managed.

There are many more reasons, and I know my time is limited, so I will not be able to address some of those criticisms, but we know that supply management is not something that is a hindrance to our international trade negotiations. It is not detrimental to our processors, who are doing very well, and the criticism that it does not give incentive to make efficiency gains is not accurate, because obviously if they are working through a quota system, producers have to decrease their costs and be more productive, so they can make a better living.

For all these reasons, supply management is a productive and positive element of our dairy industry. We urge all members to support it by voting yes on this motion.

Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé for tabling this very important motion. However, I would have much preferred not to be speaking to a motion that should not even have been necessary had the government not compromised supply management in its negotiations with the European Union on CETA.

It is no secret that there has been tremendous pressure by the corporate sector as well as our trading partners to dismantle, or at least modify, supply management. This attack is driven in our country in part by the Conference Board of Canada. As NFU President Jan Slomp outlined in a recent op-ed:

The CBoC claims to be an independent think tank, but is affiliated with the New York-based Conference Board, run by and for US-based multinational corporations. While pretending to serve the public it advocates for a suite of policies—including dismantling dairy supply management—that promote corporate interests at the expense of the values and aspirations of Canadian people.

Our supply management works well for Canadians and does not cost the taxpayer a penny. It was created in 1969 as a reaction to erratic milk-handling practices to depress farm-gate prices paid to farmers. Supply management is not a barrier to trade. Many other countries, including the EU and the U.S., enact policies that directly subsidize domestic production. We do not do this.

It is also important to note that Canada gives more access to imported products than many other countries give in any sector. We currently import over 6% of the market for dairy products and more than 7.5% for poultry. In contrast, the U.S. gives only 2.75% access to its market for dairy products and Europe offers a mere 0.5% for poultry.

There is absolutely no reason for Canada to sign a trade agreement that allows an additional 17,700 tonnes of cheese from the EU. In effect, our dairy farmers who receive no government subsidies would be competing with European farmers who receive state subsidies as high as 40% to 50% of their income. According to the Dairy Farmers of Canada, it is estimated that the new EU access of 17,700 tonnes of cheese would cost Canadian farmers some $150 million annually, with cumulative losses of $300 million industry wide.

It is also important for Canadians to be aware that our dairy prices are comparable to other countries'. In fact, in New Zealand, which has dismantled supply management, consumers pay among the highest prices for dairy in spite of their farmers' low costs of production.

A few years ago I criss-crossed Canada in my “Food for Thought” tour, and one of the recurring themes that came up during the community consultations was the simple need to take agriculture out of free trade agreements.

For example, it is absolutely ludicrous that, as a result of NAFTA, many vegetable and fruit growers went out of business. Had they been protected, as in the supply management sector, our horticulture industry would be thriving today. Instead, many farmers have been forced to go into grapes and scramble to plant new varieties of fruit. An Ontario broccoli producer once told me that he only makes money when there is a drought in Florida. This is completely unacceptable.

Many are fearful that the CETA concessions of cheese imports is the start of a slippery slope.

It is no secret that countries such as the U.S. and New Zealand would like to see supply management on the table during the negotiation of the proposed trans-Pacific partnership trade agreement. Canada must not, and I repeat, must not make any further concessions in regard to supply management.

For the reasons I just mentioned, it is extremely important that Parliament support Motion No. 496. The federal government must keep its promise to the Quebec and Canadian dairy and cheese producers who will be affected by the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement by revealing, without delay, details related to the compensation that will be paid and by providing for an implementation period for the agreement that is as long as possible.

I would like to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts on trade, since everybody is listening to my speech. The first point is that Canada has always been and will always be a trading nation. To say that I, or members of my party, are anti-trade is simply ludicrous.

The bottom line is that any trade agreement we sign should not do harm to our country or its citizens.

As I have outlined, allowing 17,700 tonnes of European cheese into our market will harm our dairy industry.

CETA would also contain a clause that allows European multinational corporations to sue the federal government if there is a perception of unfair treatment, such as local sourcing of contracts. This provision, or chapter 11, already exists in NAFTA and has allowed U.S. corporations to collect over $157 million in compensation from the Canadian federal government since NAFTA was signed.

We need to take a hard look at this provision, as other countries have done. It is a total affront to our nation's sovereignty. Australia, for example, will not allow a similar provision to be included in any future trade agreements it signs. We should do the same. Canadian tax dollars should not be going as payment to foreign corporations.

Now I will go back to Motion No. 496.

This motion seeks to mitigate CETA's potential impact on the dairy and cheese sector and support Canada’s supply management system, which guarantees fair and stable prices. In other words, if our dairy and cheese producers are at risk of losing $300 million per year, then the Canadian government must commit to compensating them for that.

It is important to remember that our dairy and cheese industry also promotes the survival of farms and farm labour. Producers reinvest in their farms and support local suppliers and businesses, which contributes to the Canadian economy as a whole. The dairy industry's contribution to the GDP went from $15.2 billion in 2009 to $16.2 billion in 2011.

It should also be noted that it is Canadian dairy producers themselves who invested their own money to build up the Canadian market. It is simply unfair for the Conservative government to give market share away to European Union producers.

As the House is aware, the dairy industry is not the only fortunate industry to have supply management. The egg and poultry sectors do as well. Together, these three sectors are responsible for generating billions of dollars of revenue to our economy as they provide jobs and invest in our communities.

It is inconceivable that our federal government would even think about introducing any policies that have the potential of destroying the fine balance we have in our agriculture sector. As a matter of fact, as we have jumped from crisis to crisis in our grain, beef, and cattle sectors throughout the past decade, farmers in the supply managed sector continue to receive a stable, predictable income. Others were forced to deal with the shifting patterns of the open market or government protectionist policies, such as the U.S. country of origin labelling.

Make no mistake: the pressure and propaganda is out there for Canada to get rid of its farmer-driven supply management sectors. They are being attacked on a regular basis as ads appear in small community newspapers like those in my riding from organizations such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which consistently trash supply management. They forget, however, that supply management does not cost the government or the taxpayer any money, while it guarantees us good quality food and contributes significantly to the Canadian economy.

The fact that now our farmers are under threat because of the increase in cheese imports is a betrayal by the Conservative government. It is morally wrong to talk about supporting supply management while at the same time eroding its pillars. One has to wonder who the next victim will be when the terms of the trans-Pacific partnership are released.

I would like to once again thank my colleague, our hard-working deputy agriculture critic, for bringing this motion forward. It is my sincere hope that it will pass unanimously in the House and that the federal government will make known in short order how exactly it will assist farmers hit by the terms of our trade agreement with the European Union.

Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


François Pilon NDP Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in this House today and to support my esteemed colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé and the cheese producers in Quebec and throughout the country by supporting Motion No. 496.

This motion calls on the Conservative government to keep its promise to dairy and cheese producers of Quebec and Canada by revealing details without delay related to the compensation that will be paid under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union. It also calls on the government to provide an implementation period for the agreement for these producers and to put an end to the circumvention of tariff quotas and the misclassification of products at the border, while imposing the same production and processing requirements on products to be imported and committing to provide support for commercialization.

On October 18, 2013, Canada and the European Union reached an agreement in principle on what is now known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Seven months later, no final agreement has been announced. According to the terms of the agreement in principle, the European Union will have an additional tariff-free access for 16,000 tonnes of high-quality retail cheeses and another 1,700 tonnes of industrial cheeses.

This announcement has of course caused a certain level of concern among Canadian dairy and cheese producers, who are publicly expressing their concerns about the economic and commercial repercussions of this agreement on their industry.

The motion before us today seeks to mitigate the impact that CETA may have on the dairy and cheese industry and to support supply management in Canada, which helps us ensure fair and stable prices. It also calls on the government to keep its promise to provide financial compensation to the producers involved following the signature of the agreement in principle, and finally asks the government, seven months after the fact, to tell the House of Commons—formerly the most sacred place of Canadian democracy—the details of the agreement in principle.

As we know, the NDP supports the supply management system in the egg, dairy and poultry sectors and for the agricultural industry. Under the agreement in principle with the European Union, the EU will have greater access to the Canadian cheese market. This undermines one of the very pillars of supply management, that is, import controls, and at the same time jeopardizes the system’s effectiveness for Canadian producers. This potential agreement represents a loss for Canada’s dairy producers by taking away part of their income to the benefit of the European industry.

Canadians are aware that the economic development of many Canadian communities, as well as a number of jobs in this sector, would be jeopardized. The Conservatives promised to protect supply management, but the conclusion of the negotiations with the European Union has undermined the foundations of the supply management principle. This is one of the reasons why the government must tell Canadians, especially Canada's dairy and cheese producers, the details of this agreement, without delay.

In this regard, it is important to mention the reason why the motion put forward by my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé is so important. The dairy and cheese industry is booming in Quebec and Canada. We have the right to be proud of the industry's growth in recent years and of the tremendous quality and diversity of its products.

It is of the utmost importance that we continue to support this industry, not only for the reasons mentioned earlier, but also because the producers reinvest in their farms and support local businesses and suppliers, thereby contributing to the development of Canada's local, regional and national economies.

It is also important to point out that the supply management principle that we are talking about here is not a subsidy. Dairy producers do not receive any government support, unlike what is seen in Europe, where 60% of the income of some producers is made up of government subsidies. As a result, our dairy producers begin with two strikes against them if they are placed on the same footing as their European competitors. This is why it is so important for our government to respect the principle of supply management to the letter.

Furthermore, the uncertainty and secrecy surrounding this agreement in principle also affects investments in the Canadian cheese industry, because the people who want to invest are waiting to find out what impact the agreement will have on the industry. It is therefore crucial that the government reveal the terms of the agreement in principle as soon as possible, not just for the sake of transparency, but for the well-being of dairy and cheese producers in Quebec and Canada, in particular.

That is what we are trying to make the government understand with Motion No. 496, which is being debated today in the House.

Trade rules need to acknowledge the special and strategic role of agriculture and provide policy measures to promote stability in the food supply, leaving countries with enough flexibility to manage their own unforeseen circumstances through the availability of mechanisms for appropriate market regulation.

In this case, the agreement jeopardizes the supply management principle currently in place, which allows Canadian producers to have growth in their industry. It is therefore vital, first of all, to reveal without delay the details of the compensation that will be paid to producers, because all of the stakeholders have asked for more details. The producers want assurances that the Conservative government will keep its promise so that they can then make business decisions.

We are also calling on the government to provide for an implementation period for the agreement. Canadian dairy and cheese producers have called for measures in the agreement affecting their industry to be phased in over at least seven years.

We are also calling for an end to the circumvention of tariff quotas and the misclassification of products at the border. The supply management system is built on three pillars; undermining one of them—circumvention of quotas—could potentially compromise the integrity of the system.

It is necessary to impose the same production and processing requirements on imported products. Canadian standards are sometimes higher than those in Europe, making reciprocity important so that Canadian producers are not penalized.

Lastly, the government must commit to provide support for commercialization. This agreement will penalize Canadian cheese producers. This is not news to anyone. It is therefore important that they receive government support so that they can promote their products in new markets.

With this motion, the NDP is showing its firm and clear commitment to our dairy and cheese industry and to the existing and effective supply management system.

Dairy Farmers of Canada agrees with our demands. I hope that the Conservative government cares just as much about the well-being of producers as we do. That is why I urge the government to support the motion moved by my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé.

Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud and pleased to rise today in the House during the second hour of debate on Motion No. 496, which supports dairy and cheese producers. I sincerely wish to thank all those who have taken part today in this important debate.

The motion that I brought forward seeks to mitigate the impact of the CETA on the dairy and cheese industries and to support Canada’s supply management system, which guarantees stable and fair prices. It comes in response to the demands of dairy and cheese producers from across Canada.

The Canadian government maintains that concessions to the dairy industry would represent annually 4% of the overall market, an amount that in its view could be easily recovered. Dairy producers on the other hand argue that 4% represents a market in excess of $300 million annually.

After speaking to producers and to Canadians, I know that they trust the supply management system. This system has truly stood the test of time. It does not cost the government or the taxpayers anything because producers do not receive any subsidies. Producers would like to see a compensation framework in place to protect supply management, which was introduced in the early 1970s to offset price instability. For the past 40 years, dairy producers have been able to rely on a stable environment and to weather the challenges of changing market conditions.

The intent here is not to initiate a debate on supply management but rather to remind the government of its importance. The agreement in principle will give the EU greater access to the Canadian cheese market, which operates under supply management. It will directly weaken one of the pillars of supply management, namely import controls, and at the same time, the effectiveness of supply management will be put at risk. The stability afforded by supply management allows producers to reinvest in their farms and to draw an income without having to rely on government assistance.

Supply management does not involve subsidies since dairy producers do not receive any kind of government assistance. By comparison, certain European producers receive government subsidies of up to 60%. Our dairy producers are therefore not on an equal footing with their European counterparts. All across the country, flourishing dairy and cheese industries are a boon to local economies. Canada produces 133,270 tons of specialty cheeses, a by no means insignificant amount. This is the end result of many years of work and innovative practices. However, I cannot help but be concerned. For every European cheese sold in our supermarkets, one Canadian cheese loses its spot on store shelves.

My motion ensures that Canadian cheese producers will receive the support they need to compete with European cheeses. It is not a question of providing financial compensation, but rather of giving them much needed support.

I want to point out that 2014 has been designated as the International Year of Family Farming. As a result of government policies, Canada has lost over 8,000 family farms since 2006. Now is not the time to bury our heads in the sand. We must take steps to ensure the survival of our farms and farm labour. Producers reinvest in their farms and in so doing, they support local suppliers and businesses, all of which helps sustain the country’s overall economy.

I know that this has already been mentioned several times this evening, but I will say it again. My motion has received the support of the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec, the Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Producteurs de lait du Québec, the Association des fromagers artisans du Québec, the UPA, Solidarité rurale du Québec and the Association des transporteurs de lait du Québec.

These groups agree that we need a long-term vision for agriculture and dairy and cheese producers. During the first hour of debate on May 28, my colleagues on the other side of the House spoke in favour of my proposal. I hope they will act accordingly.

Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members



Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


Dairy ProducersPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.