House of Commons Hansard #302 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigration.


The House resumed from May 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to promote the introduction of national local food day, as proposed by my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia, directly to the west of my riding.

This is an outstanding opportunity to celebrate our farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, U-pick berry farmers, craft brewers, distillers, and those who operate our farmers' markets. It is our chance to thank those who work so hard with incredible passion, innovation, and creativity to ensure that Canadians can put incredible, wholesome, and delicious food on their tables each and every day.

Celebrating local food is an opportunity I hold close to my heart. I am blessed to have a wide array of premium locally sourced food products in my riding, Foothills. This is an amazing time of year that I am sure many of my colleagues in the House will share with me as we get ready for farmers' market season. Even now, I can almost taste the fresh vegetables of the renowned Millarville market, the pies of the Saskatoon Farm, the blackcurrants of Kayben Farms, the fresh honey from Greidanus or Chinook Honey Company, Taber corn, and, of course, amazing Alberta beef.

It is clear that this is a topic every single one of us in the House can speak to. We can see the amazing colours, and we can smell the aromas of grandma's kitchen. Most important, when it comes to our local food, we can taste it. Locally produced food is something we can share with every single Canadian.

The idea of this private member's bill, to designate the Friday before Thanksgiving of each year as national local food day, would provide plenty of opportunities and positives for Canadians throughout the country as we promote local agribusinesses. It also gives us a chance to highlight and showcase our incredible premium homegrown cuisine.

In our roles as shadow ministers for agriculture and agrifood, my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable and I have had a fantastic opportunity to talk to farmers, producers, and business owners almost every day, not only in our ridings but across the country. These people are restaurant owners who feed Canadians every day and challenge themselves to highlight Canadian products in new and exciting ways; farmers who maintain the finest crops; and the ones who prepare and deliver our food to our door and our local markets.

The proposed idea of creating a national local food day is not necessarily about what we are eating. It is also about the products provided by our local producers, who, for many of us, are our friends and neighbours.

Today, many Canadians, especially those in urban communities, are generations away from the family farm. Many of them do not understand where their food is grown, how it is grown, where their food comes from, or the love and care our farmers put into growing healthy, nutritious, and quality food each and every day.

It is my hope that national local food day would be an opportunity for us to reconnect urban and rural Canadians, to reintroduce ourselves to where our food comes from, and to introduce our children to the farmers, ranchers, and beekeepers in our communities. It is also an opportunity to dispel some of the myths out there about what happens on the Canadian family farm. It is an opportunity for us in the House and as Canadians to introduce the city mouse to the country mouse.

Certainly, food is grown on the farm, but the definition of a family farm has changed from what many of us think of as the traditional family farm. When we talk about the family farm, we have a picture in our mind of grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, a couple of kids, maybe a chicken and a cow, and a dog running around in the field.

However, today the family farm could be a major, 10,000-acre business, a multi-million dollar business. Certainly the family is still involved, but those family members are shareholders. A family farm could be a garden in the backyard or a community garden plot, a community project in downtown Calgary. These could all be defined as products and producers of local food. This is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate all these different innovations and opportunities to showcase local food.

When we talk about local, I want us to focus on food products that are coming from the local farm, but also from within our region, our towns, our neighbouring communities, and across the country.

When we talk about food, I do not want us to forget about some of the incredible opportunities happening across Canada. We can go to a local brewery, many of which are in rural communities, and taste its craft beer. I hope that this would be a significant part of our national local food day. I have had the opportunity to visit and tour many of these local breweries across Canada, and I believe a national local food day would provide a catalyst for Canadians to not only test these locally sourced foods and drinks, but get a better connection with the hard-working producers who live and work near them.

For example, just over the last few years in my riding, Foothills, there have been six craft breweries in various stages of construction. There are two award-winning craft distilleries, Highwood Distillers and Eau Claire Distillery. There are even two honey meaderies, which is something I had never tried before. This is an outstanding opportunity to support our local producers. All these innovations have brought new economic opportunities, especially to our rural communities. They are supporting our local farmers, towns, and villages with economic opportunities and new jobs.

One of the big highlights is that this has become a significant tourism industry. Local food has become an opportunity for these communities to highlight some of the things they are most renowned for.

For example, the community of Turner Valley has literally hundreds of people coming from the city every weekend to visit the Fahr brewery or Eau Claire Distillery and have a Hefeweizen on the deck or a glass of prickly pear vodka. They can then head further down the highway to Longview and enjoy an Alberta beef steak at the Longview Steakhouse, or continue down the Cowboy Trail, along Highway 22, to Crowsnest Pass and enjoy the Huckleberry Festival. The Castle Mountain range has some of the best huckleberries in Canada.

This is an incredible opportunity for us to highlight and showcase not only our local food and producers, but certainly our local communities. Anytime we have a chance to bring new economic opportunities to these communities, this is something we need to embrace, and I am excited that national local food day would bring an opportunity for us to highlight what our local communities are doing.

The options are incredible. These businesses are supporting our local farms, but also offering a new twist on our locally grown products. Not surprisingly, our producers are a diverse bunch. Like Canada itself, our culinary heritage is as colourful as a summer salad. We should not be surprised, because for generations, when it comes to immigration, agriculture was the gateway to Canada. When many new Canadians broke ground for their new homes, they brought their recipes and produced those ingredients in Canada's fertile soil, and they have passed those recipes on for generations. These items all fall under the umbrella of locally produced foods. Whether those dishes originate here at home, or in Jamaica, Korea, the Philippines, England, or Ukraine, as long as those foods are produced locally, they should be considered homegrown products. For myself, anytime I have an opportunity to have homemade perogies, I am going to take it.

Producers are using incredibly different products as well. For example, a local craft brewery outside Regina, Rebellion Brewing, uses lentils to make its beer, something most of us have probably never taken the opportunity to try, and it is successful in using these new products. I was at a craft distillery in Lumsden that was using dill pickles to make vodka, also something I never thought I would try in my lifetime, but it was definitely an experience. Two weeks ago, when we were at our branding meeting getting ready for the summer season, we all enjoyed Prairie oysters. If my colleagues have not had the opportunity to try that, they should take the chance to do so. There is nothing like a little Prairie oyster after a hard day's work.

We also have to understand the importance of agriculture and local food to our communities and to our economy. This is a multi-billion dollar industry for the Canadian economy. We should take any opportunity, such as national local food day, to highlight what our Canadian producers are doing across the country, but also, perhaps most important, to introduce to Canadians where their food comes from, how it is grown, and the heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears our farmers put into it every day.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today in the debate on Bill C-281, introduced by my colleague, the member for Kootenay—Columbia. I would like to thank him for bringing forward this bill, because it gives all of us in this chamber, no matter what our political affiliation is, an opportunity to talk about the great things that are going on in our ridings.

I am proud to be standing here, not only as the NDP's agriculture critic and as the member of Parliament for an amazingly rich and vibrant region, especially in food production, but also as the owner of a small-scale farming property. I would not go so far as to call myself a farmer; I have a very tiny property. However, it gives me peace of mind to be out there with our sheep and our chickens, as well as putting my hands in the soil and watching things grow from it. Seeing the results of the harvest in the fall is something many of us in this chamber can appreciate. When we talk to the farmers in our regions and get an understanding of the hard work they do on their individual farms to bring that amazing produce to market, it makes a bill like this so much better, because it would give official recognition to something that we all very much enjoy.

I like the fact that Bill C-281 would designate as national local food day the Friday before Thanksgiving. The Friday and Saturday are the days when people are starting to put together the menu for Thanksgiving. If we all recognize the Friday as national local food day, I hope that it would encourage more Canadians to pay attention to local food markets to bring some of that produce, which local farmers have worked on so hard, to their own respective tables and make Thanksgiving that much more special. We already have Canada's Agriculture Day, which we celebrated earlier this year, in February, but I like the appreciation that, in addition to celebrating agriculture as a whole, we would bring it down to the local level.

We all realize that food is not just a commodity. All animals and humans require food to survive, and food is very much a social determinant of health. We know there are a lot of people in Canada who suffer from food insecurity. Food security and food sovereignty have always been key issues to me. Canada is one of the countries that are very blessed, with the amount of arable land we have. Given the relatively small size of our population and the huge variety of growing regions we have in this amazing country, we should be a country that is able to produce food locally for everyone who needs it, not only the bare minimum amount, but also good, quality food. That is really what the conversation needs to focus on.

I am proud to belong to a party that has long had this as part of its mandate. In 2011, we ran on committing to introduce a Canadian food strategy that would combine health goals, environmental goals, and food quality objectives. In 2014, Alex Atamanenko and Malcolm Allen, former members of Parliament, brought together a landmark strategy paper called “Everybody Eats: Our Vision for a pan-Canadian Food Strategy”, focusing on going from the farm to the factory to the fork. The strategy was very comprehensive, and I am glad that maybe in some small part we have brought this conversation to the government, because the government launched consultations on establishing a national food policy. Last year, when I held consultations with the farmers in my region, the farmers were very vocal and involved, and we produced quite a comprehensive report based on all that feedback.

The other reason I like this bill is that it has to do with the concept of food miles. I remember going into a supermarket a few years ago and seeing apples from New Zealand and oranges from South Africa. I know that Canada is not much of an orange-growing region, but we do have a lot of apple orchards. It surprised me that there was actually a market for an apple to travel thousands of kilometres across the Pacific Ocean to Canada and actually be sold, when we have all these amazing local apple growers right here in Canada, and even in neighbouring Washington state. From where I am in British Columbia, Washington state is only a stone's throw away. Given the fact that we have amazing local food farmers who are able to meet this demand, we should try to focus more on making sure that food does not have to travel so far to get to our kitchen table.

I am also proud to come from a province which probably has the most diversified agricultural sector in the country. British Columbia has a variety of different climates given our mountainous province, and we are able to grow a lot of different things in many different regions. Depending on which valley and which part of the province people are in, they will always find a little niche market somewhere.

I want to bring it home and talk about some of the amazing things going on in my riding. Down in the southern end, we have the Goldstream Farmers Market, which is going to be held from May through to October this year, as it is every year. It celebrates all of the amazing agriculture that is going on in the west shore communities.

We have the Cowichan region, which is, believe it or not, Canada's only maritime Mediterranean climatic zone. We have the highest mean average temperature in all of Canada. This allows our farmers to get a head start on growing some amazing food.

We have the amazing rainfall in the winter and amazing sunshine in the summer. It produces an amazing agricultural bounty. This is on display. People can go to the Duncan Farmers' Market and find over 150 vendors. It is one of the largest markets in all of B.C. People can find everything from organic fruits and vegetables; local honey, cheese, and eggs; sustainably harvested seafood; meat from grass-fed and ethically raised animals; homemade jams, jellies, chutneys, and sauces; artisan breads, pies, pastries, and cookies; locally grown and produced wines and spirits; and even gourmet treats for pets.

To cap it off, we have amazing organizations, like the Cowichan Green Community, which is very much focused on local food security. It has worked on initiatives such as the Cowichan food charter and the Cowichan food security plan; projects like FruitSave, which tries to get people, like those who have a 100-year-old apple tree that they never eat all the apples from, to take that fruit to local markets; and, of course, getting kids involved in the joys of farming, and educating them all about it.

They produce a local food map which identifies all of the farms in the Cowichan region. It identifies 58 unique farms and businesses, all with something distinctive, fresh, and delicious to offer consumers.

We have the Alderlea Farm Café, people who have been involved in a farming venture. We have the Cowichan Valley tea farm; the Cowichan Valley actually grows its own tea. We have Farmer Ben's Eggs, and the Quist family farm.

There are a number of breweries, wineries, and of course I cannot leave out the amazing community of Port Renfrew, which I will say is probably home to the best wild Pacific salmon of anywhere in the country. I love the people of Port Renfrew. They have a real can-do attitude. It is very much driven by the amazing tourist opportunities and the amazing seafood they are able to produce.

With that, I will conclude by saying that I appreciate the member for Kootenay—Columbia bringing this bill forward. It is an important day to celebrate, and I certainly hope all members can get behind this amazing bill to help celebrate national local food day.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Joe Peschisolido Liberal Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Madam Speaker, I too would like to applaud the work of the member for Kootenay—Columbia for introducing what I think is an amazing bill. It will support our farmers and food processors, and all those Canadians who are part of or impacted by the agriculture and food sector in our strong economy.

Our country is a food superpower, and I do not say that lightly. In fact, we are the fifth-largest exporter of agriculture and agrifoods in the world. We are blessed to have the land and resources needed to help the world meet its ever-growing need for food, by producing more than we need to feed our population.

Our exports are known in the global market to be reliable, safe, innovative, and above all sustainable. That is all part of our Canada brand, our narrative.

The vast size and complexity of our food systems are worth consideration. The industry generates one in eight of our manufacturing jobs, over $110 billion of our gross domestic product, and over $64 billion of our exports. From gate to plate, agriculture is one of the key growth sectors of our economy.

Canada's innovative processing industry supplies approximately 70% of all processed food and beverage products available in Canada, and it is the largest customer for our farmers.

All Canadians can share their beloved local foods with the entire planet to help feed the growing world population with sustainable foods. That is why the objective of the new Canadian agricultural partnership is to build a strong agriculture sector. The Canadian agricultural partnership is Canada's five-year agricultural policy framework. It outlines a bold new vision that will help the agricultural and agrifood sector innovate, grow, and prosper.

On April 1, ministers of agriculture from across Canada launched the partnership as a shared vision for the future of Canadian agriculture. Over the next five years, our governments will invest $3 billion in the partnership. Over $1 billion of that investment will support federal programs and activities to revitalize Canadian agriculture. These programs will focus on the following three key areas: growing trade and expanding markets; innovation and sustainable growth of the sector; and supporting diversity and a dynamic, evolving sector.

In supporting this bill, let me begin with the observation that a robust local food industry does not need to compete with farmers who export to world markets. In fact, many farmers do both. All production is local, whether it is consumed locally or on the other side of the world. As the member of Parliament for Steveston—Richmond East, I have berry farmers who produce for the local market, be it in Vancouver, Richmond, or Kelowna, but who also export to Asia, be it in Japan, China, or Korea.

If we think of our vibrant organic sector, it is so much more as well. For example, today the market for certified organic products in Canada is over $5 billion, making us one of the largest markets for organics in the world. Two out of three Canadian consumers buy organic. That is very good news for the many supporters of Bill C-281, both in this House and across this country, who believe in the merits of a national local food day. We are not just talking about small producers; increasingly, we are seeing large-sized, more traditional operations that are gradually converting from conventional to organic production. In Saskatchewan, a 40,000-acre grain farm is converting to organic. In my neck of the woods, in Steveston—Richmond East, a significant organic blueberry farm just converted from traditional blueberries. It is also setting aside a section for traditional farming, once again proving that farms can do both.

I am pleased to say that our government over the past two and a half years has invested nearly $20 million in this innovative, dynamic sector. Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day, is an excellent initiative, and a special tribute to the great success of Canadian farmers, our responsible stewards of the land.

The government also recognizes the importance of strengthening connections between consumers and producers of food. Canadians are increasingly building bridges with local farms and the hard-working farmers they often meet in the colourful farmers' markets across this country. I have the same situation in Steveston—Richmond East. We have the Steveston farmers' market, where the local farmers, be they organic or the more traditional farmers, such as the May family, the Savages, produce food internationally. They also provide good, healthy, sustainable food, sometimes organic and sometimes not, for the local farmers' market. When I head over there and say hi to a farmer, or Canadians say hi to a farmer, we start to build trust because we know where our food is coming from. Local food is about increasing agricultural awareness among our consumers.

The future is bright for Canadian agriculture. We are lucky enough to live in a country with abundant high-quality farmland and a variety of local climates. We have some of the best icewines in the world. For superior-quality grain, we need look no further than the Prairies.

We are happy to support Bill C-281, because when Canadians shop locally, they are supporting the local economy and creating jobs locally, nationally, as well as internationally. Local food helps consumers build lasting relationships with local food producers. It also opens up economic opportunities and employment. It fosters community involvement and also creates a culinary tourism industry.

In supporting this bill, we are supporting the future of farming in this country. Heading down to a farmers' market, which I often do on a Saturday morning to the Steveston farmers' market, national local food day will not just be a way of enjoying solid organic vegetables, or wonderful blueberry ice wine, as enjoyable as that is, it will also be a great way to make the choice for a stronger agriculture and food industry in this amazing country that we call home.

That is why today I am supporting this bill.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia and his private member's bill, Bill C-281, which would designate the Friday before Thanksgiving each and every year as Canada's national local food day.

When Canadians hear that we are debating a national day, the first thing that comes to mind is the associated costs that come with any national day. Fortunately, this bill spells out exactly that this designated day would not be a legal holiday or a non-juridical day. Furthermore, any costs, even at the promotional and awareness level, I believe, would easily be countered by the good this day would do in promoting our local producers' farm products.

What are the other provisions in Bill C-281? One of the things that the bill focuses on in its preamble is Canada's national sovereignty and how it is dependent on the safety and security of our food supply. Fortunately, our agricultural industry is thriving and our unique Canadian brand, for the most part, is recognized around the world, and will be as long as the Prime Minister avoids another disastrous trade trip.

In our grain and pulse industries, for example, we have an advantage from our cold climate, which minimizes the risk of pests and other food contaminants. Canadian grains and pulse production is usually given a waiver when it comes to applying decontamination treatments when we ship these products abroad. Our strict regulations makes our food not only safe to eat here at home, but also a prime product for our international customers and trading partners.

The bill also speaks to “strengthening the connection between consumers and producers of Canadian food” and looks at the relationships within our nation's social, environmental, and economic well-being. To this point, I have always said that the true environmentalists are those who live off the land and work tirelessly to maintain it for generations to come. They are not easily influenced by the numerous vested interests of local and international eco-activists who see Canada as a social experiment to be manipulated, because there is money to be made from both rising and falling markets. We need to stand up and fight back against this manipulation.

The foreign money and influence that decimated our oil to and gas industry tend see our other resource sectors as just as vulnerable. We need to shift the focus back on what makes us great. Local farmers, ranchers, and producers have long contributed to our world-renowned sustainable Canadian agricultural industry, long before the Liberals or the so-called progressives co-opted the words “green” and “innovation”. It is about time that we recognize the contributions of our hard-working local growers and producers.

To advocate for our farmers and producers was one of the reasons I decided to run for office. As a farmer myself, and coming from a multi-generational family farm, I know firsthand the passion and the hard work that goes into this very important profession. In my riding, I am always proud to talk about some of our own local producers, from local nurseries, to beekeepers, produce growers, ranchers, farmers, and the community markets that feature our local products. Local farmers' markets are abundant throughout the entire growing season and people from all over the riding make a point of stopping by to get fresh off-the-farm products. As the farmers who supply these markets expand their brands and businesses, consumers feel a closeness with the producer that is very rewarding for both parties. Local abattoirs have fresh meat for sale, produced by local farmers and ranchers, which adds to this unique relationship from farm to fork.

Some may point out that we already have a nationwide celebration of local Canadian cuisine in early August known as “Food Day Canada”. That specific awareness campaign is certainly important from a culinary perspective, but the celebration of harvest, which I believe is the purpose of a national local food day in early October, would give us the opportunity to concentrate on our local growers and producers.

I find it fitting that my colleague strategically aligned this national food day after the year's bountiful harvest and close to our Thanksgiving holiday when Canadians take some time away from work and come home to reflect on everything that has made them thankful. This would be a great way to support our agriculture industry. A nationwide celebration of local food would also encourage Canadians to appreciate and buy more locally grown and produced food.

As we continue with the subject of appreciating our local food, I also want to draw upon my childhood growing up on a mixed farm, where I learned about the importance of the family garden and the many realities and practicalities when it comes to dealing with livestock.

For example, one is taught the concept of timeliness and freshness when it comes to freshly butchered chicken or the importance of properly feeding and caring for the swine and cattle that would eventually find their way into the deep freeze. Picking and preparing berries and vegetables to be made into jam or pickled goods for the winter was also another common chore on the family farm. I remember certain practices and foods that some Canadians would most likely question, like harvesting and preparing certain garden weeds that took the place of spinach, or in making an effort to use all parts of an animal by boiling or pickling. That was simply our way of life.

My late mother was also able to make wine out of anything, no doubt thanks to her Saskatchewan heritage and ingenuity. Most members may have heard of elderflower wine, but Mom had some pretty colourful recipes, like dandelion wine. It was commonly said that “If God grew it, she could brew it”. It was certainly a great way of getting us kids to pick dandelions.

Let me quote my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia when he stood in the House to debate the bill for the first time. He said that “Food is at the heart of our homes, our communities, and our economy.” I could not have expressed that sentiment better myself.

Our agriculture and agrifood sector is not only vibrant and innovative, but also a huge part of our economy, contributing more than $100 billion in revenue. This all too important industry provides one in eight Canadian jobs and employs 2.3 million people. The food and beverage processing industry is one of the largest manufacturing industries in Canada, and is Canada's largest manufacturing employer. Our farmers, ranchers, producers, and manufacturers are not only responsible for the food on every Canadian dinner plate nationwide, but also for the world-class food products in markets and on dinner tables around the world.

Why is this knowledge of food preparation and production so significant when it comes to recognizing the locality of food?

I submit that it is more than just about trying to come up with some geographical recognition, or figuring out the length of time that a product stays on a truck on its way to the grocery store. It has to do with understanding how important Canada's food production system is, not only to the local community but also to the entire world, as more and more Canadians become further removed from the humble family farm.

Generations of kids now have little or no connection to the practicalities that come from growing up on the farm. It becomes easier for them to get confused and persuaded by contradictory marketing and certain political messaging until they either have no idea what to believe or they start to lose faith in our locally grown food and products. This is such a shame when Canada is known for growing and producing some of the world's best and safest food.

This is not to say that the choices people make should be criticized, but people should at least be given proper information so that their decisions and convictions are at least informed and based on scientific fact.

Canadians should be connected to their food and need to understand why a certain practice exists and why certain things have to be done to make sure that their food is safe to eat. This could come from a national local food awareness day. If we start to understand our farmers and the food they grow, we become better advocates for ourselves and our food wherever we are in the world. I am sure that every member would agree with me when I say that we should all know and understand where our food comes from, how it is grown, produced, and manufactured.

I am proud to give my support to the member for Kootenay—Columbia and Bill C-281. A national local food day would be a great chance for communities across Canada to come together and celebrate their local farmers, producers, and, of course, their local food. Such a celebration would be a great opportunity for everyone to appreciate the work that our Canadian farmers and producers put into ensuring that the food on our tables continues to be the best in the world.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, because local foods are delicious, nutritious, and good for the local economy, and in every way help innoculate us against the impacts of climate change, and employ young people who demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit, it is such a pleasure to stand up to laud some of the successes in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith and the local foods movement.

I think first of Eric Boulton. Mr. Boulton is well into his 80s. He is a long-time farmer from my island, Gabriola Island. He still drives his tractor. He still fights the province on meat slaughtering regulations. He went all the way in fighting the previous Liberal government on that. He and his daughter, Alexa, donate beautiful, locally grown turkeys to the People for a Healthy Community spirit feast at Christmas every year. They are major donors and players in the community. Village Food Market, the local grocery store, especially under the leadership of the McCollum family, always has Alexa and Eric Boulton's beautiful grass-raised beef in the aisles of our market's shelf. It is great to have local foods so easily available.

Nanaimo Foodshare is teaching local people how to buy food in season, how to cook from scratch, how to reduce food waste, and how to compost. Funded by a provincial grant, it has a gleaning program that has saved over 400,000 kilograms of fresh produce in one season alone. That gets local food on the tables of people who need it the most.

Then there is Gabriel's on Commercial St in Nanaimo. Members must try their roast vegetable eggs bennie. It is fantastic. The place has doubled in size. It is a restaurant fully committed to local foods and sustainability. With compostable, takeout containers and all, it really walks its talk.

The Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce celebrated local foods with a massive “feastival”, headlined by chefs and vintners. This year, on June 21, it is carrying on that tradition in its commercial street market, the night market.

COCO Cafe employs persons with disabilities. They cook and cater. This is in Cedar, B.C. It is the centre of the Cedar community. These fantastic young people are learning skills like cooking soups and baking breads and pastries from scratch. They develop these skills then take them home to their own lives. It is creating employment opportunities for people who might not otherwise get them. COCO is a place we are all really proud of.

The Farmship Growers Cooperative grows ethical, healthy, and natural produce for our region, and its co-operative model is creating more opportunities for farmers, protecting farmland, and increasing local food security.

Since 1961, St. Jean's has been doing value-added seafood. It does custom sport fish processing. It has natural hardwood smoked and hand-packed seafood that is distributed across North America. Even better, in 2015, the Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Limited partnership became the majority owner. St. Jean's is headquartered in Nanaimo. It continues to prosper and grow as one of Canada's leading quality seafood producers. Again, that is right in Nanaimo.

Loaves and Fishes' food bank has a program called Food 4U. It is a food recovery program that is run with the help of 700 volunteers in our community of Nanaimo. In partnership with local grocery stores, it ensures that perishable foods that would otherwise go to landfill are utilized by other food banks, faith organizations, and people in need throughout the community. It rescues what would cost more than $2 million at grocery stores every year. People who might otherwise go to a food bank are getting real quality local food. It is such a point of pride for us. Forty non-profits and schools use its Port of Nanaimo food centre store every week.

If folks at home want any more details on any of those last four groups I highlighted, they can look at my little MP's calendar for 2018, where we have profiled each of these groups. They can call my office in Nanaimo if they did not get one in the mail.

From the Canada summer jobs grant, this year we got over $65,000, or 10% of the Canada summer jobs grant, which in our riding went directly to local food and sustainability groups. That supported 17 summer jobs with some of the businesses and NGOs I have already mentioned as well as the Small Scale Food Processor Association, the Vancouver Island Exhibition, Farmship Growers Cooperative, Generation Farms, and Meal Exchange.

Craig Evans, from the Growing Opportunities Farm Community Co-op, said that it “will help expand our programming on our five acre urban farm and support meaningful skills training and experience for youth with disabilities in our community. It’s opening up opportunities to strengthen food security and urban agriculture in our region.”

There is more local food flavour in our riding, such as Cedar Farmers' Market, Lantzville Farmers' Market, Gabriola, Nanaimo, and Bowen Road.

We drink alcohol locally, too. Mike, from Arbutus Distillery, in Nanaimo, is raising the bar, with 100% B.C.-sourced products from the distillery's own herb garden. Tyler, from White Sails Brewing, Harley, from Longwood Brewery, and Kevin, from Wolf Brewing, are all award-winning brewmasters. They also curate local festivals to highlight the benefits of buying, drinking, and eating locally. It keeps the money and employment in our community as well as all the health benefits that comes with that.

What do all these local success stories have in common? They are all part of the burgeoning local foods movement. The Council of Ontario Universities tells us that 96% of campuses have local food initiatives, 86% have a community or teaching garden, and 77% have a local farmers' market. There is big appetite for this.

Farmers' markets alone are estimated to contribute over $3 billion to local economies annually, and we really need it on Vancouver Island, where 95% of our food right now is imported from off island. Therefore, it is a security issue for us as well.

The Vancouver Island Economic Alliance has recognized this and is promoting local foods in a new and innovative way. It has an “Island Good” tag, and in co-operation with Thrifty Foods, Country Grocer, Quality Foods, and the 49th Parallel stores, in a pilot started this March, they label local foods to make the local products easier to find. I hope I am not scooping VIEA, but I have heard that in just three months, it has created a lift in sales of 17%, and this is a brand new pilot.

Let us do more of these, and let us support the legislation from my colleague, the member for Kootenay—Columbia. His Bill C-281 would designate the Friday before Thanksgiving Day every year a national local food day. This is following in the great tradition of New Democrat MP Malcolm Allen and a long history of New Democrats who have stood up for the environmental, economic, local economy, and youth employment benefits of local foods.

To conclude, I will give special thanks to the farmers of Gabriola who feed me personally, including Watercliff Farm, Stephen Levesque, and Tamaya Beale; Graham, for all his pep talks on the ferry; and Rosheen Holland, for her dignified and big-hearted support of young farmers, me, and other activists in the community. I am grateful to be fed by all of them, and I look forward to celebrating them more.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I will advise the next member that I may have to interrupt her to allow the sponsor of the bill to have his five-minute response.

The hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I too am rising to support my colleague, the MP for Kootenay—Columbia, on declaring the Friday before Thanksgiving national local food day. That would be very celebrated in my province of Alberta.

Among those I count as heroes of the planet are the agricultural producers of Alberta, who have fought valiantly to protect agricultural land. They have battled urban sprawl, industrial projects, and the paving over of prime agricultural land, including my city's most frost-free, productive market garden land.

For many decades, I have been honoured to provide legal representation and advocacy support to many of these farmers trying to protect their productive lands. I wish to single out just a few of the names of the Alberta farmers who I honoured some years back for their personal dedication in protecting Alberta's prime agricultural land.

There was the Bocock family, which donated their leading-edge dairy farm to the University of Alberta for research; and George Friesen and Jim Hainsworth, who founded the Preserve Agricultural Land Foundation. George put a covenant on his own productive land to say that he only had the right to grow and produce on his land, not profit from putting a pipeline through. Jim Visser, the Kuhlmanns, the Vriens, and Wayne Groot, the potato farmer, fought valiantly to protect the northeast market gardeners. Doug Visser has mounted a major campaign to protect Lady Flower Gardens, run by and benefiting the homeless and the disadvantaged in Edmonton, who go out and grow the vegetables and take them back for their sustenance. Many hundreds of Edmontonians attended hearings on calls to preserve our northeast market gardens to produce healthy local foods for Edmontonians.

Many Edmonton restaurants now feature locally produced food. Many bakeries produce baked goods using local grain, including my favourite, and very popular, neighbourhood bakery, the Boulangerie Bonjour.

Among the greatest tributes I have received in my life is a lifetime membership to the Preserve Agricultural Land Foundation. Since childhood, I have accompanied parents, grandparents, and now friends and constituents to the downtown market, and now the Strathcona market in Old Strathcona and at La Cité Francophone, the quartier francophone of Edmonton, the only one in Canada.

I not only try to visit my market each Saturday, I regularly buy local organic carrots, parsnips, and berries and put them in my carry-on luggage, which really throws off the security officers every week.

A growing number of community gardens across my riding and the city are growing local produce for Edmontonians. The Green & Gold Community Garden, at the University of Alberta south campus, for 10 years has been producing local produce, and the funds go to global benefit, with the profits going to a women's collective in Rwanda.

Another garden close to the University of Alberta provides fresh produce to the food bank. Last year, Danielle Munroe worked with Youth Empowerment and Support Services, persuading the city to let them plant vegetables on a large empty lot across from the project, and it became a popular drop-in centre for everyone in the city to come to.

Now the Edmonton Food Council has created support for urban beekeeping and hens, promoting local plot cultivation, including across the street from me in an empty lot. There is now competition for who can grow the most local vegetables. That is not to mention provincial support for local craft breweries and distilleries, many of which are in my riding and that people are enjoying, particularly the locally crafted gin.

We must also recognize the importance and acknowledge the treaty rights of indigenous peoples to harvest their local foods. I work closely with first nations adjacent to the lake where I spent my summers, where they are concerned that they are losing the ability to harvest their local medicines. It is very important to consider that in projects being proposed.

The Province of Alberta has actually taken new steps to raise the profile of local food production, supported with one billion dollars toward local food industries. It tabled the supporting Alberta's local food sector act to raise the profile of the local food industry, strengthen consumer confidence in local foods, identify solutions and challenges faced by local producers and processors, and support sustainable growth in agriculture and food processing. It would establish a local food council and declare a new Alberta local food week, during the third week in August, which could lead into the Friday before Thanksgiving. It would provide a level playing field for certified local organic farmers and processors and build trust in the purchase of local food.

Local food sales in Alberta from farmers' markets and through direct-to-consumer channels have more than doubled since 2008, exceeding $1 billion last year alone. Now we have several companies in Edmonton that are delivering this local produce to my constituents' doors.

It is important to recognize that what is considered local food is now very diverse. There are many in my constituency who have actually established community gardens for new immigrants so they can grow the vegetables and produce they are used to.

With that, I will close so that there is plenty of time for my colleague to give his final comments on this very important bill.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, I am proud to wrap up the second reading debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day for Canada.

I want to thank all the hon. members for their speeches, for their support, and for making me very hungry and thirsty. I want to thank my staff for their amazing work on this important initiative.

When I last spoke in the House on Bill C-281, I highlighted a number of local food producers and initiatives in Kootenay—Columbia. Over the recent break week, I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Creston Valley, which in many ways is the agricultural heart of my riding. As I noted in my previous speech, the Creston Valley grows virtually every variety of vegetable, wine grapes, apples, and other kinds of fruit. The Creston Valley is also home to Tabletree juice, whose black cherry juice was recognized as the world's best pure juice product at the World Juice Awards in 2012.

I am not sure if members are old enough to remember a time when milk came in glass bottles. Thanks to Kootenay Meadows Farm, it still does in much of the Kootenays. The Harris family dairy farm produces fresh organic milk that is delivered in reusable glass containers.

Remember those wine grapes I mentioned? For an amazing Kootenay—Columbia culinary experience, try pairing a vintage wine from Skimmerhorn Winery and Vineyard, Wynnwood Cellars, or Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery with any of Kootenay Meadow Dairies' organic hard cheeses.

I have to say that I love the saying, “If God grew it, I can brew it.”

I know that just as I am passionate about local food in my riding, Canadians in every region are passionate about local food in their communities. I have heard from many Canadians across the country about what local food means to them.

Jolene, from Aldergrove wrote:

I think the most simple way that can put it is connection....

I am certain that through the generations, we've lost our connections to food. What food is, how to prepare and how it is grown. I changed because I don't want my children growing up to think that food is something frozen, that you buy at a grocery store and put in the microwave.... I want them to know that a lot of people work very hard for the food we put on our tables and some of them grow so much food and still can't put food on their own tables to eat. I also want them to know what a clean, healthy, sustainable farm looks like....

I can't imagine a better place to change the world for the better than helping people who've lost touch with their food, come back into connection with it.

Hélène, from Brossard, wrote, “Eating local food is important to me as it encourages people here who work hard to make a living.... When you consume food from the other side of the world, it takes longer, it pollutes the planet more”.

John, from Sudbury, wrote that national food day:

is a good idea on several fronts—economic, social, health and environmental. It would be a boost to the local economy for farmers. Rural communities and surrounding towns and cities would be more socially connected....

This idea is a winner and should be supported.

The Surrey/White Rock Food Action Coalition wrote:

Focusing attention on healthy, high-quality locally grown food will support our farmers and fishers, keep jobs in our communities and strengthen the local economy....

We envision an integrated and resilient local food system that enables physically accessible, culturally acceptable and affordable food for everyone, supports a sustainable food economy, and empowers food literacy and capacity building within the community. Let's celebrate these values with a National Local Food Day this October.

Whether people's local food is the caribou and arctic char of the north, the seafood of the coasts, the artisan cheeses of Quebec, the ice wine of Ontario, the pork of Manitoba, the beef, grain, and prairie oysters from the Prairies, the traditional foods of indigenous people across Canada, or anything in between, a national local food day is for them.

I have always said that it is easy to love Bill C-281. It is my sincere hope that all members will vote in support of this bill at all stages. We all know that food matters, from farm to factory to fork or from gate to plate. Let us make national local food day a reality.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It being 12:02 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired.

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

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members



National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members


National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members


National Local Food Day ActPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, May 30, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Accuracy of May 25 JournalsPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business



Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, I am rising today on a point of order to dispute the correctness of the records of the House of Commons related to Friday's proceedings. Specifically, I disagree with the entry at page 3282 of the unrevised Journals, concerning government Motion No. 22 that “Debate arose thereon”.

Page 1225 and 1226 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, informs readers that:

The daily Journals are verified and corrections or changes are incorporated prior to publication of the revised Journals. The accuracy of the record has rarely been questioned, but possible errors or omissions have on occasion been brought to the attention of the House. Errors are corrected by those responsible for the publication

On Friday, the government had scheduled consideration of government Motion No. 22. It is my respectful submission that the motion was not, however, actually debated.

Personally speaking, I do not think the calling or reading of the orders of the day on Friday morning was legitimate, but I will not dwell on that point. Suffice to say, the Chair has ruled that the motion was properly proposed to the House.

Turning to page 536 of Bosc and Gagnon, one reads, “Once a motion has been proposed to the House by the Chair, the House is formally seized of it. The motion may then be debated”.

Erskine May's Parliamentary Procedure, 23rd edition, at page 393 says, “When the question has been proposed by the Speaker, and, if necessary read to the House, the House is in possession of the question, debate begins...”.

The authorities are clear. The act of calling an order of the day and the act of reading a motion do not constitute debate. The use of the word “then” by Bosc and Gagnon reflects a critical understanding that these are not sequential steps; they do not overlap. To be clear, debate had not yet started when the Speaker called upon the government House leader to speak. What she had to say we do not know because she could not be heard.

Members hoping to hear her remarks in French were totally frustrated. I am told that listeners to the French audio feed of the government House leader heard no fewer than five times an interpreter announce “inaudible”. When we check the record for the length of time the House leader spoke, she spoke for a total of about 91 seconds. In that 91 seconds, “inaudible” was stated at least five times. At one point, the English audio feed also heard the announced quote “the hon. leader is inaudible”. This was pointed out by the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga Friday and also by several journalists following.

Subsection 4(2) of the Official Languages Act reads:

Facilities shall be made available for the simultaneous interpretation of the debates and other proceedings of Parliament from one official language into the other.

The French version is even more pointed:

Il doit être pourvu à l'interprétation simultanée des débats et autres travaux du Parlement.

Interpretation shall be provided. It could not be clearer. In fact, it is quite common in the House that whenever there is a glitch with the interpretation system, we take a break, we pause, we even suspend sittings.

Pages 408 and 409 of Bosc and Gagnon refer to this:

In recent years, the House has suspended its sittings for a variety of reasons: rectify a technical problem with simultaneous interpretation in the Chamber.

That passage's footnote cross-references to the case found at page 18,516 of the Debates on June 18, 2013. Page 3,433 of the Journals for that sitting records that the sitting was suspended for eight minutes while the interpretation system was fixed.

The Standing Orders and usual practices of the House were breached. The Official Languages Act was violated. No one could hear the government House leader in her language of delivery. No one could hear an interpretation of the government House leader.

There have been many times in the House, whether during question period, during members' statements, or during debate, when we recognize that something is wrong with the interpretation or the microphones we get your attention, Madam Speaker, and everything is stopped until that is clarified and corrected. Then that member then starts again. According to the records, because it was not heard it, it did not happen. It cannot reasonably be said that on Motion No. 22 anyone has ever engaged in debate.

To conclude on my point of order, I ask that when we look at the Journals, there has been no debate on government Motion No. 22, and therefore page 3,282 of the unrevised Journals requires correction. I look forward to your ruling, Madam Speaker.

Accuracy of May 25 JournalsPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I greatly appreciate the information provided by the official opposition House leader. I will certainly take it under advisement and will get back to the House if required.

Speaker's RulingExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

There are two motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of C-47. Motions Nos. 1 and 2 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

I will now put Motions Nos. 1 and 2 to the House.

Motions in AmendmentExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC


Motion No. 1

That Bill C-47, in Clause 8, be amended by adding after line 12 on page 5 the following:

“(2) If, subsequent to the issuance of the permit, the Minister becomes aware of any information that could affect the determination made under subsection (1), he or she shall reconsider whether the risk that the export or the brokering of the goods or technology specified in the application for the permit would result in any of the negative consequences referred to in subsection 7.3(1) and, if applicable, amend, suspend or cancel the permit.”

Motions in AmendmentExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB


Motion No. 2

That Bill C-47 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motions in AmendmentExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, when the Liberal government announced that Canada would finally accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, I was very happy, and I congratulated the government at that time. For years now, the NDP has been asking Canada to join this important, life-saving treaty that addresses important issues such as gender-based violence and the illegal arms trade, which is a major destabilizing force internationally.

This boils down to one more broken Liberal promise. They say they want to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, but Bill C-47, which is before us today, respects neither the spirit nor the letter of that treaty.

The current bill was described by an expert to whom I spoke as making a mockery of the Arms Trade Treaty. Even though we in the NDP wanted, and have pushed for years, Canada to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, we cannot support the bill because it does not respect the treaty. It does not respect either the letter or the spirit of the treaty.

In fact, this bill is full of holes. It might as well be a sieve that lets everything through, even the important bits. The first hole, a massive one, is that this bill does not cover any of our exports to the United States.

We have to take into account that over 50% of our arms exports are to the U.S. When I say over 50%, I do not mean 51% or 52%; I mean it could be 55%, 60% or 65%. In fact, we do not even know. Officials tell us that it is over 50%, but we do not know what the actual percentage is because those exports are not tracked and are not reported. In committee, when I said we should at least report on our arms exports to the U.S., one of my Liberal colleagues answered that it was difficult to report on something the government did not track. That is a problem.

It should be tracked, especially right now when President Trump is lowering the bar for export to countries like Nigeria. This risk that arms or components produced in Canada find their way to a range of countries where we would not want to see those arms is even greater.

Members will recall when the sale of helicopters to the government of the Philippines hit the news. When this news became public, everyone remembered that the President of the Philippines had boasted about throwing a man from a helicopter and said that he would do it again. Everyone was busy trying to stop the deal. The Philippine authorities were a bit insulted, and the plan was dropped. However, there are reports that the company in question now plans to send helicopter parts to the United States, assemble them there, and send them to the Philippines. They found a good way to get around the act. This poses a practical problem in that we have no control over more than half of our arms sales.

This violates the letter and the spirit of the Arms Trade Treaty. The treaty calls for universal adherence. We cannot pick and choose, saying that exports to one place will be covered by the treaty, but exports to another place will not. This is not how treaties normally work, and this is not how this particular treaty works.

I would like to get back to the sale of helicopters to the Philippines. People are asking how this could have happened and how the minister approved an export permit for these helicopters to the Philippine government.

The problem is that an export permit was not needed. The agreement between the two defence departments was brokered by the Canadian Commercial Corporation. That is another gaping hole. These are nevertheless exports of a sensitive nature made without the requirement to obtain the minister's approval or an evaluation of the risk of these arms being used to commit human rights violations. This a gaping hole in how we manage Canadian exports.

What does Bill C-47 do to solve this problem? Guess what, absolutely nothing.

Bill C-47 does not even cover the activities of the Department of National Defence or the Canadian Commercial Corporation, so there is a huge loophole, and we do not know whether that loophole will still be wide open. Export to the U.S. is not reported on, not covered by the treaty. DND and CCC are not covered by the treaty. What is left is shrinking all the time.

This legislation should be sent to the shredder, because it is basically flawed. I am not the only one to say this. All of the experts are saying it as well, but, of course, the Liberal government will not listen to them. The government will ram through this legislation even though it could weaken the actual treaty. I always wonder where Canada is in the world. To me, it is not back on the world stage.

That would be the ideal solution, but the Liberal government will not do it. However, at least we are trying to improve it a bit. This amendment would close another crucial element of the Arms Trade Treaty that is not covered in the current bill. It would make sure that if an export licence has been given and new information comes to light, the minister has to reassess the export permit. I hope that my colleagues will support that. It is part of the treaty and it should be in the bill. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the minister refused to do so.

Here I will rest my case.

Motions in AmendmentExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick


Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her work in committee.

I find it unfortunate that she is now expressing her opposition to Canada's accession to the ATT. The NDP once took the principled stance that Canada should be a leader in regulating the sale of conventional arms around the world. I am not surprised that, once again, NDP members have abandoned their principled position in favour of partisan opposition in their stance.

I do want to correct the record, though. Bill C-47 will see the entirety of the Government of Canada accede to the ATT. All of the organizations and departments which the member referenced will be a party to ATT standards. It will allow Canada to play a leadership role in regulating the sale of conventional arms worldwide.

Why is the NDP once again proposing to abandon its principled position that will help Canada play a leadership role in the world?

Motions in AmendmentExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

He may have missed my speech because I was very clear: we fully support the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty, but it has to be done properly. We cannot just say that we have signed the treaty, we have to abide by it.

However, we are completely opposed to this bill, which makes a mockery of the Arms Trade Treaty and does not comply with it.