Mr. Speaker, we are discussing Bill C-79, a bill to implement the new incarnation of the TPP without the United States.
The Bloc Québécois is sincerely and seriously concerned about supply management and the breaches that are included in this new version of the agreement. The government gave up 3.25% of the dairy market, 2.3% of the egg market, and 2.1% of the poultry market.
The Liberals and Conservatives, who boast about being the great defenders of our farmers and supply management, just voted in favour of time allocation in order to pass this bill quickly. Last spring, they tried to have a motion adopted unanimously to pass the bill immediately. Obviously, we were there and voted against the motion.
There is quite a disconnect between what they say and what they do. They say they want to defend supply management in its entirety, without any breaches. Now that there is a tangible case in front of them, they are changing their tune and cannot pass this new version of the TPP, with all its breaches, soon enough. That does not add up. There is a major lack of credibility here.
On that note, I would remind the House that whenever there is a by-election, big promises are made. During the by-election in Lac-Saint-Jean, the Prime Minister said, "We will not make any concessions when it comes to supply management."
He said this about the TPP on October 19, 2017, in Saint-Félicien, as reported by the Journal de Montréal. I was there too, and I heard it. We were happy at the time, but we now know how much his word is worth.
Just before the last election, on October 4, 2015, the Prime Minister gave an interview to Radio-Canada, which is still available online, in which he said that the Liberal government would not make any concessions on supply management in the TPP. There was even a unanimous motion passed on February 7, 2018. The motion stated:
That the House call on the government to ensure that there is no breach in supply management as part of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership.
My colleague from Mirabel moved this motion, which passed unanimously. The two Liberal international trade ministers were in the House, and they agreed.
I remind members that we, as legislators and elected officials, are the government's boss. We asked the government, including all of the Liberals and all of the Conservatives, to ensure that there was no breach in supply management in the new version of the trans-Pacific partnership. We ended up with a significant breach nonetheless. I repeat that his word and his promise are worthless in my eyes.
I would remind members that we are talking about 3.25% for milk, 2.3% for eggs, and 2.1% for poultry. These are all supposedly protected by a quota system that is very costly for farmers. In total, to have a protected market, we are talking about approximately $33 billion in quotas, including $20 billion just for the dairy sector. That is not peanuts. We should respect that.
This is the current explanation for the breach. The Americans wanted concessions with respect to supply management. As they no longer want to be part of the new TPP, they are being enticed with concessions to come back to the table. So what do President Donald Trump and the Americans do? They say they do not want the new TPP, but they want these types of concessions in NAFTA renegotiations. Since we made them in the TPP, we can make them to the Americans, as well. That makes a breach in two agreements for our farmers, who are paying for absolutely nothing.
I will draw a parallel to NAFTA. On June 7, the Prime Minister stated in a Radio-Canada article that if Donald Trump wants to attack supply management, there would be no NAFTA, that they would not sign NAFTA. Given that the government's credibility and the worth of its word have been seriously tainted, there may be some doubt about that.
On September 26 of last year, we were proactive and passed a unanimous motion:
That the House reiterate its desire to fully preserve supply management during the NAFTA renegotiations.
There is an election campaign underway in Quebec. All party leaders are asking that supply management remain intact in NAFTA. However, it seems that this is not as important given the comments made by Simon Beauchemin, the Prime Minister's advisor in NAFTA renegotiations, who wrote an open letter in La Presse calling for the abolition of supply management.
On that topic, last winter I asked him if he wanted to abolish supply management and how he planned to reimburse the $33 billion worth of quota once supply management is abolished. Farmers are borrowing from financial institutions to cover that. All he did was chortle at me before taking off.
I would remind the House that back when the majority of seats in Quebec were held by Bloc Québécois members, supply management was respected, and those sectors were automatically excluded from the 10 trade agreements signed by Canada, including NAFTA.
At the time, Quebec had more of a voice and Canada listened. Since 2011, that has no longer been the case. Consider the Canada-EU agreement. The bargaining chip that Canada gave up was a new breach for the dairy and cheese sector.
The Harper government had not only promised but even budgeted $4.3 billion in compensation for our dairy producers. The Liberals came to power and tore up that agreement, and instead created a mini program worth $250 million. The first part was gone in a matter of minutes. It was heavily criticized and not suited to our farmers. That is unacceptable. Our farmers were used as a bargaining chip in the Canada-EU agreement. The same thing happened with the TPP and now the CPTPP.
The government has not announced any compensation for our farmers. Once again, farmers are being used as bargaining chips. We are worried about the NAFTA renegotiation because the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have changed their tune. We get silence, or they talk around the issue. We have real concerns that there could be another breach in supply management.
This is in addition to all of the tricks, which I consider illegal, that American producers use to try to break into our market and that take an awful lot of time to address. I am talking about milk proteins, diafiltered milk, and misuse of the duty deferral program. There is also the spent fowl scandal, or the distributors that throw in a couple packets of sauce to bring in chicken wings and bypass supply management. Another example is how pizza kits are used bring in grated cheese, and I could go on.
Up until 2011, the government made its position clear to other countries. If they wanted us to make changes to supply management, they would have to eliminate their subsidies and other protectionist mechanisms. That used to be a prerequisite for negotiation, but not anymore. The government gave an inch, and now it is open season.
A C.D. Howe Institute study showed that, in its first year, the TPP's impact on the GDP would be 0.01%. That is negligible. Any benefit will go mainly to Ontario and the west. Quebec is too far from the Pacific nations to benefit much at all. Nevertheless, the things Canada gave up in order to join the partnership are things that matter to Quebec. That is deplorable and unacceptable.
The supply management system works. The United States has a number of protected sectors such as cotton and sugar, but also dairy, eggs and poultry, same as here. All of the agreements that have been signed include very high tariffs to protect domestic markets. Most, if not all, industrialized nations have mechanisms to protect agriculture. Agriculture is an important sector, one vital to any country's national security and to feeding its people.
Apparently Canada's government is the only one prepared to sell out its farmers time after time. That is unacceptable.
We do not want to see the kinds of megafarms that have been popping up in the United States in recent years. Some of those farms have 10,000 cows. Megafarms account for 30% of milk production. Here, farms typically have about 50 cows. I am talking about a family farm land use model. If we did things here like they do in the United States, my entire riding would have a single producer. That is unacceptable, and we want nothing to do with it. An American magazine called Quartz reported that the suicide rate on American family farms is one a week.
That is not what we want, so we will vote against this agreement because of the major breach it creates in supply management.