Mr. Speaker, before I get into Bill C-231, I will say I am surprised to hear my colleague opposite talk about food insecurity after the stunt the Liberals pulled yesterday in the way they introduced their carbon tax. If they wanted to create instability and insecurity across the country, they could not have done it any more effectively than they have.
When it comes to food production, the way Liberals have done this causes instability in rural and farming communities. It is going to cause food insecurity. They are talking about a carbon tax. We know a carbon tax will hike the cost of everything. It will hike the cost of fuel for farmers as they are trying to do their food production. It hikes the cost of fertilizer. In the production of fertilizer we use products they are planning on taxing. It hikes the cost of things like transportation, so it increases the cost of getting food to market. As the member opposite talks about instability and insecurity, they should be acknowledging that they are creating that. We are going to see greater instability in rural communities, in food production, and certainly it is not a positive advantage for farmers to have to put up with the kind of carbon tax they are suggesting in the future.
Farmers have made a huge contribution, and l am going to talk about that later, but they are the ones who are making the adjustments. They have been making adjustments for years. As was mentioned earlier in question period, farmers are paying up to $30,000 more for machinery now because of the changes to engines and emissions requirements, and they pay that cost directly. The government comes back and says it is going to slap some more taxes on them because they are not taxed enough yet. Between that and the deceptive way they dealt with the provinces yesterday, it means that their carbon tax proposal is not a recipe for any type of security or food stability in the future.
That brings us to food waste awareness day, which has been proposed by my NDP colleague on the agriculture committee. We would have preferred to have a food awareness day because certainly waste could have been part of that. Rather than an act to establish a negative campaign, we could have celebrated the great production and processing of food in this country.
Certainly the area I come from has been a food producer for this part of the world and the rest of the world for over 100 years. People came from Europe, Eastern Europe, China, and the Middle East and settled in western Canada. Most of the reason they settled there is that they wanted to be farmers. They settled on the land and they wanted to produce food. They wanted to grow beef and sell it around the world. They certainly have done that with great success.
Farming has changed over the years. I mentioned earlier about the technology that has changed, but certainly the crops have changed in our area as well. It used to be that we grew nothing but grains and durum wheat. People did not think they could grow anything else. There have been new crops that have come in, and now lentils are grown probably more than any other crop in our area. Mustard is very popular, all three kinds of mustard; the oriental, yellow, and brown are grown in our area, and it is a big area for mustard growing in the world.
Chickpeas are an item we started growing about 20 years ago, and it actually transformed agriculture in our area because for a few years chickpeas were a very profitable crop and allowed farmers to do very well for a number of years. Peas are another success in our area. Farther north, canola has probably been the biggest success story in western Canada, where it is the highest value crop that is grown in Canada. It has been a tremendous success story as well.
We know the beef in western Canada, in my area, has been a very strong contributor to our economy. We see now a couple of feedlots closing in western Canada; again, back to food insecurity. One of the reasons that the latest closure took place is that the operators were not prepared to deal with the carbon tax. They mentioned that in their discussion about why they were shutting down production.
We know that farmers and ranchers are stewards. They raise food, and they protect the environment. They have changed their practices over the years, and the food that is raised in Canada is the safest food in the world. We believe that is what we should be celebrating with the bill. Rather than talking specifically about food waste, we should be talking about food production, about the incredible ways and opportunities that farmers across this country have to be successful, and also about the food processing here. We know we have one of the best systems in Canada for food safety. We regulate for safe and healthy food, and we do that very well. Around the world, Canada is recognized as one of those producers of top-quality food.
It is a good thing we are because we export all over the world. We go to Japan, for example, which is a market that demands top-quality products, and Canadian pork there is seen as one of those products. We also see that around the rest of the world, where they recognize that Canadian products fill those niches at the top of the food chain.
The first part of the bill calls for a waste awareness day. We would have preferred to see something a bit different. Certainly, we would have been more likely to support it had we had seen a bill that celebrated our successes.
I want to talk a bit about the second part of the bill because it becomes very problematic. The bill is short and sweet, but when we get to the second page and start to see what is being called for here under a national strategy, we begin to realize that there will be a really big cost to this and that a lot of work would have to go into putting this bill into effect, without a lot of direction from the author of the bill.
First, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food would need to have a series of meetings, not only with the provincial and territorial governments—we are talking about first ministers' meetings or meetings with officials across this country—but also then a series of meetings with agriculture and agrifood people, as well.
This is not a minor set of just two or three meetings. My colleague is calling for the minister to have major meetings across the country. We know that will cost a lot of money. The reason she would like to see that is to develop a national strategy; but, again, there are no real specifics on what that national strategy would be, other than we know that it will cost a fair amount of money.
She would also like a national public awareness campaign to be developed. Again, that comes with a cost. However, there is no indication from the member opposite of what that cost might be. I do not know if she is talking about an ad campaign or an educational program across the country, but she just talks about having a public awareness campaign of some sort that needs to be developed and implemented by the government.
Then there is a very vague paragraph here that the government should “put in place the tools needed to allow consumers to reduce food waste”. I have thought about that but I am not sure what it means to “put in place the tools needed to allow consumers to reduce food waste”. That is so vague. I do not know how much enthusiasm the government would have for this, but it could mean anything, I guess. It is so open-ended that I do not think we can support it.
Then it becomes interesting. She wants the government to begin to redo some of the great work being done already by private and charitable organizations.
Across this country we have things like food banks and charities like the Salvation Army that handle food across this country to ensure that it is still edible and is getting delivered to people so they have the opportunity to enjoy it. My colleague who spoke earlier talked about some of the food apps that are in place now. People can go online and find an app that will explain where food is available. We do not think there is any necessity for the government to begin redoing the excellent work that has already been done by these organizations. Moreover, when bill talks about facilitating the donation of edible food products to community organizations and food banks, we think people are already doing that very well.
There is a call for an environmental study on used food. I do not know how we would do that or how big that study would be, but it seems like another challenge to the government, without much direction.
Then the last one I think that really concerns me is that she wants food waste reduction targets, but it is not clear what that means. Is this mandatory? Is this voluntary? What do those targets mean? We do not know if there are going to be costs from that. How would we enforce it? Would we have little food police running around enforcing food waste regulations? I do not know. I guess with targets, we would have to examine the relationship between production, transportation, and retail, as well. I think that is a huge overreach.
In conclusion, I appreciate my colleague's good intent in this bill, but I do not think we will be able to support it. It is just too broad and complex. It is a very costly strategy to address this issue and will lead to increased costs. We believe it will increase red tape substantially. Certainly, if I am reading this accurately, there would have to be a massive administration to reach this national strategy. We believe there are better ways to address this issue.