House of Commons Hansard #216 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was news.


11 a.m.


Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions amongst the parties and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion: That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on Friday, June 23, 2023 shall be 2:30 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24.

11 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay. It is agreed.

The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

11 a.m.

An hon. member


The House resumed from May 15 consideration of the motion that Bill C-282, An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act (supply management), be read the third time and passed.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Michael Kram Conservative Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-282.

Seven years ago, U.S. President Barack Obama visited Ottawa and addressed parliamentarians in the House of Commons. There was one line from his speech that received a standing ovation and was in all the news stories that night. He said, “the world needs more Canada.”

The reason President Obama words received a standing ovation was because he was right; the world does need more Canada. The world needs more softwood lumber from B.C., more cod from Newfoundland and Labrador and more of everything from everywhere in between.

Unfortunately, Bill C-282 marks a significant departure from President Obama's positive outlook for Canada and instead represents a much more inward-looking and isolationist future.

Canada has always been a trading nation. Over the past 40 years, Canadian governments had negotiated 15 free trade agreements with 51 different countries. It is important to note that these free trade negotiations were signed, ratified and implemented under both Liberal and Conservative governments. This team Canada approach has served Canadians well by giving our free trade negotiators the flexibility they need to negotiate a deal that is in the best interest of Canada.

Unfortunately, Bill C-282 proposes to take supply management off the table in future free trade negotiations. It will handcuff our free trade negotiators and limit their ability to negotiate a deal that is in the best interest of all Canadians.

This is exactly the warning that was made to parliamentarians at the international trade committee when its members heard from our lead trade negotiators, both when the bill was being studied at committee as well as an identical bill in the previous Parliament.

Doug Forsyth, director general at Global Affairs Canada in charge of market access and trade development, said the following:

If we were to start from the position that we would not be dealing with 100% of the items that we would negotiate on, it does risk having an agreement that's not necessarily completely beneficial to Canadian exporters and producers and it does risk being an agreement that does not necessarily provide the full economic benefits to Canada that one might have expected.

Mr. Forsyth's concerns were echoed by his colleague, Mr. Aaron Fowler, the chief agriculture negotiator. Mr. Fowler actually went a step further and added, “In some cases, the country may determine that they do not want to go forward with an FTA with Canada in the absence of Canada's being able to make commitments in this sector.”

Given that these warnings are coming from Canada's actual free trade negotiators, it is incumbent upon parliamentarians to take them seriously and to not go down the path of handcuffing our negotiators in future negotiations.

Take, for example, the government's lndo-Pacific strategy, which it announced last fall. In this document, the government outlines its plans to negotiate free trade agreements with both India and the ASEAN nations of South-East Asia. India has a population of 1.4 billion people, and the ASEAN nations have a combined population of over 600 million people. That represents a combined total of over two billion potential customers for Canadian exporters. That sounds like a great opportunity for Canada. However, I cannot help but wonder if Canada's negotiators have to take supply management off the table, then what sectors will India and the ASEAN countries take off the table as well? What opportunities in these markets of two billion people will be lost to Canadian exporters?

One also has to consider our trade relationship with our two closest neighbours in North America, the United States and Mexico. One may be tempted to say that because Bill C-282 would apply to new free trade agreements only, and since Canada already has a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, then there is nothing to worry about. However, it is important to remember that the current NAFTA agreement has a sunset clause, which any of the three countries could invoke if they were unhappy with the current deal and would like to renegotiate it from scratch. If this sunset clause were invoked, Canada could be left without a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico as early the year 2036.

Again, that raises the question. If we sit down with the Americans and the Mexicans 13 years from now to renegotiate NAFTA, and if Canada’s supply managed sectors are off the table from the outset, then what sectors will the U.S. and Mexico take off the table as well? Which Canadians will no longer be able to export to the United States and Mexico because of Bill C-282? Will it be New Brunswick lobster fishermen? Will it be assembly line workers in Ontario’s electric car factories? Who?

I know that I would not want to go home to Saskatchewan and tell farmers and ranchers, potash and uranium miners that their jobs no longer exist because they can no longer export to the United States. I am sure there is not a single parliamentarian in this chamber who would like to have that sort of conversation with exporters in their ridings either.

Therefore, what do we do about supply management when it comes to future free trade negotiations? If a farmer works in one of the supply-managed sectors, and owns quota, and has played by the rules, and if a future free trade agreement reduces the value of that asset, then that farmer should be compensated for his or her loss. That compensation should be clear, complete, spelled out in black and white, and it should be paid out in a timely manner.

While every country has sectors that it seeks to protect in free trade negotiations, no country has enshrined into law what its negotiators can and cannot talk about with other countries. With an open economy that is largely based on exports, we should not be making Canada an outlier on the world stage.

Just about all of the speakers to the bill have extolled the virtues of supply management and the people who work in those sectors. I have no doubt that workers in these sectors are good people who deserve a fair shake in free trade agreements. However, sooner or later someone has to ask about the 99% of Canadians who do not work in a supply-managed sector.

What about other farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods depend on exports? What about Canadian workers who work in export-based industries other than agriculture? What about all the Canadian consumers who drive a car that was built in Germany, or use a smart phone that was built in South Korea or who just enjoy a bottle of French wine with their dinner? All of these Canadians benefit from free trade agreements that are the result of countless hours of work by our free trade negotiators, without having their efforts hindered by Bill C-282.

I would like to conclude with another quote from President Obama’s 2016 address to Parliament. He said, “the benefits of trade and economic integration are sometimes hard to see or easy to take for granted, and the very specific dislocations are obvious and real. There’s just one problem: Restricting trade or giving in to protectionism in this 21st century economy will not work.” That statement also received a standing ovation.

The world does need more Canada, not less. Bill C-282 is a step in the wrong direction and I encourage all parliamentarians to vote against it.

Business of the HousePrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions amongst the parties and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion:

That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on Friday, June 23, 2023 shall be 2:30 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24.

Business of the HousePrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.

It is agreed.

The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-282, An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act (supply management), be read the third time and passed.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Richard Martel Conservative Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C‑282, which is fairly simple and fairly short. It provides an obligation to fully respect the supply management model. Every time that free trade agreements are negotiated, supply-managed producers lose market share and other sectors do not benefit.

I come from Saguenay—Lac‑Saint‑Jean, a region of Quebec that is a pillar of the agricultural industry because of its location and climate. The region combines all the factors suitable for supporting a substantial agricultural industry. Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean features a wide range of agri-food products, ranging from blueberries to dairy. I will focus on the dairy industry.

Milk production is a vital economic driver for the region. The region currently has 244 farms and 2,151 jobs, making our dairy farmers proud. It is actually on their behalf that I am speaking today, as well as on behalf of the entire dairy industry, which has urged me to support Bill C‑282 because it affects them directly.

Only the markets for dairy, table eggs, hatching eggs, and poultry fall under supply management. This system is based on three main pillars.

The first pillar is supply management through quotas. That word comes up a lot when we talk about supply management. The Canadian Dairy Commission distributes quotas to every province in Canada, which ensures price stability. I do not see a problem with that type of practice because it prevents waste and huge price differences.

The second pillar is price controls. A floor price and a ceiling price are set to ensure that consumers can buy local without paying astronomical amounts. In the worst case scenario, a consumer will have to spend a few cents more for a local product made here under conditions we are familiar with. Since the standards vary widely from country to country, we are making sure that consumers can buy ethically and contribute to the regional economy without having to spend a lot.

Third, there is border control. This part makes it possible for the supply management model to prevent the local market from being overrun. This model allows producers to be competitive by supplying real milk. Take for example local milk that is full of vitamins and protein. Another milk might be diluted with water, which would mean that the same volume of milk would fill more cartons. That milk would be less expensive than the 100% milk that is sold here at home. A person on a tight budget, especially in an inflationary environment like the one we are in right now, would probably choose the second option; however, that milk would not come from Quebec, would not be local and would not contain all the proteins that it should.

Supply management helps to keep the three previously mentioned pillars in balance. It controls production, price and the border.

This model has been used in Quebec since it was first created in 1972. Every country in the world protects their products. That is not new. In Quebec, our supply-managed producers are the ones who need to be protected. The producers are unanimous on this and are calling for this bill to be passed.

This is a Bloc Québécois bill, which I recognize, but it is also the bill of milk, egg and poultry producers across Canada.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many family dairy farms in my riding. I am thinking in particular of Laiterie de La Baie, which was established in 1919 and since then has been handed down from one generation to the next. The values of support, solidarity and quality are part of the company's identity. Animal welfare is a consideration. The cows graze on grass in the summer and eat real hay during the winter. That is the type of farm that we want to encourage. I buy their milk all the time because it is the best and also because, as consumers, we must encourage our local producers.

Supply-managed agricultural sectors are key to the economic and social development of the regions. Let us not forget that. Supply management protects our workers' livelihoods. It ensures that our dairy, egg and poultry farms are not left to fend for themselves. Above all, it protects the integrity of the system. It is natural to have concerns about future agreements. Some even speak about having their hands tied or use the expression “showing their cards ahead of time”. However, some experts reassured the committee that it would not hobble the government, rather, it would strengthen it.

I am a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade, which studied Bill C-282. The committee even asked for additional meetings so that experts, as well as farmers from all walks of life, could share their concerns. The upshot is that farmers in Quebec are urging us to pass this bill. They need it. My job as a parliamentarian is to listen to what my constituents and what the entrepreneurs in my riding are telling me on the ground. The latest free trade agreements signed between Canada and other countries have made supply management a focal point.

The compensation offered by the government following agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, is never paid out fast enough. Investment programs take too long, and farmers end up getting their cheques too late. Farmers and processors no longer want compensation. They want things to be done more efficiently to begin with.

We know that nothing happens fast enough under these Liberals. Timelines are extremely long. The Conservatives are supporting farmers and producers so that families can eat high-quality local products. This bill is necessary because governments have chipped away at the system over the years. The compensation provided by the government is no longer enough. Supply management must be protected, which is exactly what Bill C-282 does. The vitality of our rural regions depends on supply management. As the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, I wholeheartedly support Bill C-282.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to start the week this morning by discussing a bill that protects supply management. This system is vitally important for all the farmers under its management, including dairy, poultry and egg farmers. When a bill like this gets debated and makes it this far along the legislative process, it is precisely because very active and deeply engaged members, firmly connected to their communities, have fought for it.

In Quebec, the supply management system is extremely important, and it makes great things possible. I will explain that a little later in my speech, but right now, I really want to thank the Bloc Québécois members who have worked hard since being elected, especially over the past two years, because today's bill is not the first supply management bill or motion that we have debated.

First of all, I would like to thank the member for Montcalm, who is the bill's sponsor. He introduced this very important bill in the House of Commons and ably defended it in committee and in all forums, as well as throughout his constituency. I think he is lucky. I would have liked to introduce this bill because my riding has many dairy farmers, in particular, who play a major role in our area's development.

I must also thank the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, because it was at the Standing Committee on International Trade that the bill was defended. Committee members heard from various witnesses who, in general, were clear about their support and backing for this bill as a fair and equitable marketing system for farmers, communities and consumers alike.

The gold medal goes to the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé, our agriculture and agri-food critic, who stands up for all farmers, regardless of their specific field, and who has passionately, wholeheartedly and authentically defended this bill that is so important to Quebec's supply-managed farmers. Where I come from, we would say that the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé is like an agricultural star. There is nobody who grows anything in Quebec who does not know our passionate critic, the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé. He understands, and I think he is trying to impress upon everyone the fact that if Quebec ever becomes a country, we will need farmers. We will need food sovereignty as well.

We believe that defending the supply management system and all of Quebec’s farmers is a real priority. Over the past year, constituents have told me about the Bloc Québécois's work on the ground to make use of every political mobilization strategy possible and to give all the necessary support today so that this bill can be passed tonight and make its way to the Senate, which, hopefully, will not take too long to consider it, because it has gathered very strong consensus or, in any case, is supported by the vast majority of members in the House.

Now that I have said my thanks, I would like to talk about my riding of Salaberry—Suroît. I would say that it is a fairly rural riding. There are 358 dairy farms in my riding. Think about it: There are 358 farms in Montérégie-Ouest, farms that I also like to call businesses. These are dynamic companies always on the lookout for creativity and innovation. These farms are made up of people who work hard in their communities. In Montérégie-Ouest alone, they account for $260 million in economic activity and 3,156 jobs.

That is no small thing. It is a very healthy sector that is extremely vital to our communities. Members often hear me say that, since farms are businesses, they are often at the heart of our small towns. Without them, many businesses would not survive.

I will give the wonderful example of Montcalm Farm, which just celebrated its 100th anniversary of dairy production in Saint‑Louis‑de‑Gonzague, a very dynamic little municipality. I had the opportunity to give a member's statement honouring the Montcalm family and welcoming them here in the House.

The Montcalm family is the perfect example. They developed a family dairy farm. We are not talking about industrial production that is only concerned with production. This is a farming business that is involved in the community.

Let us talk about Maurice Montcalm, who was one of the many generations of owners of the Montcalm Farm. In addition to serving as an active member of the Union des producteurs agricoles to stand up for the rights of dairy farmers and as the president of his central union, he also served as a municipal councillor for Saint‑Louis‑de‑Gonzague and was a member of the community co-op. That is a classic example of how a supply-managed dairy farm contributes to the economic and community development of a village or small municipality. Maurice is now retired, not from his job as a dairy farmer, but from his jobs in the community. He left the union and his job as a municipal councillor, but others have taken up the torch. Mélanie Genesse, Éric Montcalm's wife, has now taken over his role and is involved in the municipal council.

All that to say that dairy farms in Quebec are very important and not just because they produce the best milk in the world. I have no qualms about saying so. We have a traceability system that is the envy of the world. We have family farms that support a lot of people in our villages and municipalities. We have businesspeople who run agricultural businesses and stay up to date. They modernize and automate their farms. That means that a dairy farm might have robots in its milking room, which makes the work more effective and efficient. This means a young, next-generation farmer can attend their child's show on occasion because they can use their cellphone to monitor whether their cows were able to be milked or whether there was a problem. It is magnificent. It is wonderful.

It is not at all, as we often hear it described, an unfair system that puts other producers at a disadvantage. Formerly, I was deputy agriculture critic for my party. That was when I was first elected in 2006. There were vegetable growers, for instance, and supply-managed producers. These are two different agricultural models that are compatible. Everything goes smoothly. The two systems can co-exist. Everyone, producers, the community and consumers are doing well.

I could also have cited the example of David Cécyre's extraordinary farm in Saint‑Stanislas‑de‑Kostka. It just modernized and automated its farm, which produces excellent milk. It managed to breed a cow that performs so well that the farm produced one of the best milk in Quebec.

Members will understand my passion for dairy producers. I have no doubt that this bill will be adopted by a majority in the House, and that it will be sent to the Senate. This bill really makes sense; it is constructive for agriculture in Quebec and the province itself.

I urge senators to do their job quickly so we can pass this very important bill.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour, as always, to speak on behalf of the people of Timmins—James Bay.

I have lost count of the number of times I have risen in this House to defend the principle of the supply management system we have for farming, because in debate after debate, we hear positive messages but we see it undermined continually in trade agreements. Supply management only works if the fundamental pillars are in place and intact.

There is a reason I think it is such an important system to preserve. We are not talking about subsidies. Our farmers do not need subsidies. They control a market that supplies milk to Canadians, and it is a system that works. In my region of Timmins—James Bay, particularly in the Témiscamingue and neighbouring Abitibi-Témiscamingue farming regions, dairy farmers are the backbone of our rural economy. We have lost pork producers to the boom and bust cycles of the pork market. Our cattle farmers always have to struggle. They have good years, but there are years when they are really impacted by what is being given out as payment for cattle being brought to the large slaughterhouses. The ability of dairy farmers to maintain their marketing control has been stable through the good times and bad times.

We have many cash crops in our region. When I was first elected, we had many smaller farms. In the northern Témiscamingue region, there are still family farms in smaller units, but it is getting harder and harder for them to maintain cash crops and compete with the larger corporate farms coming in. To maintain the finances of cash crop farms is more difficult.

Let us look at dairy farms. In our region, young families are able to farm. We have many young dairy farmers building barns and investing. These are major investments in the region, with new dairy farms up in Matheson, in the Timmins region. There is the Earlton and Englehart region, where dairy continues, in good times and in bad, to maintain the balance of the economy in rural northern Ontario.

This is a system that works. It is a system that does not hit the taxpayer up for subsidies. It is an efficient system. If we look at our neighbours in Wisconsin, the dairy farmers there really do not like the supply management system, yet we see massive problems with dumping because of overproduction. We do not have overproduction in Canada's dairy market, so this is an efficient use of farming.

It is really important that we maintain the defence of the dairy sector, because we always hear, as I just heard from my Conservative colleagues, about the false promises of globalization: that if we strip away any ability of a country to maintain regional and local economic vitality, we are somehow betraying the larger principle of globalization. Well, I would say to my Conservative colleagues to look around, because globalization has failed us, and every other country involved in it right now is making sure that their backyards and regions are protected. We are not asking for anything that is unfair in terms of protection. We are asking to maintain a system that works, a system that allows young family farms to maintain, grow and invest. It is a big principle for the New Democrats. We have always been supporters of the supply management system.

I will point out that what we have seen over the years with the corporatization of agriculture is that many local value-added operations have been threatened. Some of that is starting to change. Certainly in the Timmins region, which of course is more known for gold and copper mining than agriculture, we are seeing some really fascinating smaller specialty farms bringing food to markets in urban areas. The potential for young farmers to do that is exciting and something we did not think was possible 15 years ago. We thought we would have to get bigger and bigger, yet we see that niche farming is making inroads. I would encourage the government to support these niche markets through investments. We even see them in urban areas. People want to know where their food is coming from.

As global supply chains are becoming more challenged, we need the ability to have community gardens and community food. Having backyard chickens in Toronto is a great idea. We need to make our cities livable places that have animals and the ability to grow, not just monocrops, grass and concrete.

Going back to the role of dairy in our region, for many years we had the Thornloe Cheese plant, a very small local producer. It was owned by Parmalat, one of the biggest milk companies in the world. Parmalat had no interest in our region. It had no interest in the future of Thornloe. Then one day someone called me and said they were going to shut down Thornloe Cheese. What they wanted, what was valuable to Parmalat, was not the jobs in the region or the product. It was the quota. Parmalat wanted to take the quota away from our region and consolidate it into a much larger Parmalat plant elsewhere.

We met with dairy farmers in our region and asked if they were willing to give up the quota and give up the potential to maintain production. The dairy farmers, certainly in Timiskaming, who have shown a willingness to stand up many times to defend their interests, said they were not going to go along with it. We went back to Parmalat and said the deal was that it could leave but the quota would stay. Parmalat laughed at us, but we were intent and the quota stayed.

I encourage anyone who drives up Highway 11 to stop in at Thornloe Cheese. They will see the best selection of cheese anywhere, because what they did with the quota was diversify. People can go into restaurants in Toronto and get Thornloe Cheese. To build quota and get more access to quota in cheese, one has to do speciality cheeses, so Thornloe has specialized in all manner of cheeses. We have a great brand now of grass-fed butter, which is very popular with people who like to cook and people in urban areas.

It is essential that we maintain value-added production in Canada to supply markets that are emerging so that we are not relying on large container ships bringing cheap product from elsewhere and are empowering communities, empowering farming and empowering rural regions to be part of a sustained, long-term vision for the 21st-century economy. That is why supply management is so crucial. It is one of the foundational pillars of a sustainable rural economy. It does not have the booms and busts that we have seen in other sectors, and it gives opportunities to young farming families.

I do not know how many times I have spoken on supply management, but I will continue to speak for supply management. I will continue to speak for the farmers in our region, because they are fundamental to the fabric of our region and to our country.

The New Democrats will support this bill. We will support and continue to fight for supply management, and we will argue its importance with the ideologues who believe that globalization and free trade should be allowed to erase our local farms and replace them with whatever is coming in from wherever else. We can compete. We can hold our own. We are not asking for any handouts. We are asking to maintain the rural, regional and national right to make sure that our farming is sustainable.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by recognizing the work done by the members for Montcalm, Berthier—Maskinongé and Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. They did an extraordinary job on this bill, which is crucial for Quebec.

This legislation affects one of Quebec's largest and most historically significant industries, specifically dairy production. Simply put, it seeks to protect the management of milk and other quotas to ensure that our producers are not negatively affected by political decisions that could threaten their future.

Of course, other countries will want to undermine supply management in order to get their products into our country. It is important to understand that the most protected sector in the world is agriculture. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, was signed in 1947. That agreement disappeared in 1994 to make way for the World Trade Organization, or WTO, precisely because it was getting harder to convince some countries to listen to reason when it came to protecting agriculture. There are reasons for that. The creation of the WTO did nothing to change the fact that virtually all countries want to protect their farmers.

For starters, we have to protect the industry that feeds us. It is vital to the national community that we protect the people who work hard to feed people. The job is not easy, we know. My father-in-law is a farmer. He is an amazing guy who is always working. Farming is his career and his job. This man, for whom I have a great deal of respect, puts food on people's plates. I often tell him that, when he looks out at everything growing in his fields, he can say that he is playing a part in fighting hunger. He is doing something phenomenal, not to mention tangible. The main reason is that we have to protect the people who feed us. It is a no-brainer. I am sure that people who are listening to me agree that these words make sense and that I speak the truth.

Second, farmers have to spend a lot of money to invest in their business. Costs are high. First, they need to buy the land, but then they also need to acquire livestock and the necessary tools. That takes a considerable investment. Investment means profitability. If producers invest in an area like milk production, for example, they have to make sure they get a return on that investment. They have to protect their return. If there is one sector on the planet where there are economic ups and downs, it is in agriculture, in farming livestock and its product, like milk. We need to ensure that the farmers who go to bat to buy equipment and invest in their businesses get a return on that investment.

The best way to ensure a return, and therefore ensure that they can continue their work, is to support supply management. It affords them predictability, which ensures a return on their investment. That is the basis of agricultural investment. That is how we protect farmers. That is how we assure those who invest millions of dollars that they, too, will have enough to eat, that there will be bread on the table. That is how we thank them for what they do. That is the second reason why supply management is important.

Third, we often talk about the regional economy, about how we need to find a way to stimulate the economy in the regions to encourage people to stay there. We want them to stay because they love their region, because they are locals and they want to stay. These people need to be able to stay where they are and where they want to be. If they want to stay in the regions, then we need to make sure that they can work and prosper there.

In a previous life, when I was in Quebec City and I was critic for economic matters, we used to talk about Investissement Québec. People would rack their brains trying to figure out what Investissement Québec's core mission was. It was thought that Investissement Québec's mission was to support the regional economy. That is what came up all the time. We were trying all kinds of ways to make that happen.

We see that supply management is a damned good way to stimulate the regional economy. After all, farms are very often located in the regions. This is an extraordinarily important reason for Quebec, given its vast territory. Gilles Vigneault said that villages were thrown into the regions. This is what was considered a feat for Quebeckers: Even in the toughest areas to succeed, there are people who hang on to their land and want to stay there because they love where they are. Supply management is a way of giving them a pat on the back and telling them to stay there, because they can work and make money right where they are. It is also worth remembering that these people hire workers and that these businesses create jobs.

Quebec is known as a nation of small and medium-sized businesses, or SMEs. We often boast about Quebeckers' innovative spirit and creativity, Quebeckers like Armand Bombardier, who is the perfect example of a tinkerer or a guy who messes around in his garage to come up with new ways of dealing with life on this land and making it easier. Quebeckers are very good at that. They are very good at being resourceful and creating SMEs.

Farms, especially dairy farms, are SMEs. I do not know the exact number, but Quebec has thousands of dairy farms. The advantage of these farms in Quebec compared to what is happening elsewhere in the world is that these dairy farms carry family names. Families own them. What does that mean? That means that they are handed down from father to son, that they are a legacy, that knowledge is passed down from generation to generation. We need to be extremely careful about preserving that, and that is what my colleagues have done. I am very proud of that.

When I go around my riding or elsewhere in Quebec, people ask me if the Bloc Québécois is working on anything special. We immediately tell them that we are working on protecting supply management, among other things. Everyone thanks us for that. They tell us to keep up the good work and not to give up.

I have to commend the other parties for doing their part. I have to say, there is no need to be any more partisan than necessary. If this bill ends up getting passed, it will be thanks to the other parties too, and I thank them for that. I hear them. They seem to be on the same page. That is not always the case, but it needs to be acknowledged when it happens. In closing, I would say this: Long live farmers, long live the producers who feed us. Without them, we would not get far.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments that have been put on the record this morning. I want to give a different perspective.

For many years, supply management has played such an important and critical role, not only in our farming communities, but also, I would argue, for true urbanites. We understand and appreciate the value of the product coming to our kitchen tables as a result of supply management and the important role it plays on the issue of quality. It is not just about protecting an industry; I would like to think it is also about the quality food product that ultimately shows up on our kitchen tables. It was a Liberal government that, in essence, brought forward supply management and created the supply management regime. We have seen ongoing governments, including the current government, reinforce their support for supply management in the agreements they have achieved.

One of the things we need to recognize is that Canada, for all intents and purposes, is a trading nation. We are very dependent on world trade, and we see that in terms of the number of agreements Canada has been able to achieve. As a country of 40 million, we very much depend on that two-way trade system. We have a lot to offer the world and we are very successful at doing so. One of the ways we can secure markets is by ensuring that we have formal agreements put in place. When the Prime Minister talks about Canada's middle class, working for Canada's middle class and being there and trying to expand it for those who are trying to be a part of the middle class, we have to look at the issue of trade.

It is easy, from the outside looking in, to say it is 100 per cent supply management, and in the trade agreements we are concerned about giving away quotas and so forth. From the inside, one has to recognize a couple of things. First and foremost, supply management is a good thing, and we continue to support supply management. The second thing is to recognize that we also value having these international trade agreements. There are many industries, including agricultural industries, that have greatly benefited from trade agreements. In the past, I have cited Canada's pork industry, for example. In the province of Manitoba, our pork industry is doing exceptionally well. It could not do anywhere near as well as it is doing today if it were not for international trade. It is very dependent on it.

All one needs to do is go to my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa's riding to see HyLife, in the community of Neepawa. HyLife is a major producer of pork products. When I took a tour of the plant, someone said that over 95% of that pork is going to Asia. It is an area of ongoing growth. That export provides good-quality jobs. Therefore, I do not think it does us any service to say that trade agreements are a bad thing, when, in fact, they are a very good thing, especially from the perspective of where Canada is at and the need for Canada to enhance its trade opportunities. It does not have to be a win-lose situation. We trade with the best interests of Canada in mind. To try to give any sort of false impression that this is a government that does not understand or does not support supply management is wrong.

Our first minister of agriculture was from the Atlantic province of Prince Edward Island, and our current Minister of Agriculture is from the province of Quebec. Both, along with other members, including myself, have been long-time advocates of the importance of our supply management system. It has had a very positive impact for consumers and for product quality, but it has also had a very positive impact on our farmers.

Dairy farms are a good example of that. Not only are they able to plan for the future, but also we are seeing younger generations committed to continuing the farm, so we know there are career opportunities there.

Supply management has provided quality entrepreneur opportunities, quality jobs and quality products, and the industry as a whole continues to do well in Canada, whether it is in Quebec, the Prairies, Ontario or other regions of the country. Some have higher numbers of supply-managed communities than others, so it important to the Canadian economy. We have recognized that, historically by creating it and presently by continuing to support it, even though, when it comes to trade, there has been no government in the history of Canada that has signed off on more trade agreements, securing more opportunities for Canadian entrepreneurs, exporters and those who import into the country, so we can continue to support our middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it.

We want to see an economy that works for all Canadians, and there is absolutely no doubt that supply management plays a very critical role in that. I thank the member for introducing the bill so we can have this particular debate.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

The hon. member for Montcalm for his right of reply.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to close the debate at third reading of the bill.

I have five short minutes to hopefully try to convince the very few who are still uncertain about this bill. Here we are at the last step of a parliamentary process to pass my bill, Bill C-282. Today, during these five short minutes, I would like to speak from the heart and set aside the technical aspects of my previous speeches. I believe that everything has been said, and I see that the technical elements have been understood by many parliamentarians.

I rise with my heart filled with pride because my colleagues and I took a collaborative approach. We met with producers, consumers and processors. We got everyone from the agricultural sector involved. We took a non-partisan approach in the House. We really hope that the results will be almost unanimous. We hope to achieve as good a result as last time. There were 293 members who voted for the bill and 23 who were not convinced of the merits of the bill.

First of all, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the dedication, determination and expertise of my colleagues, the member for Berthier—Maskinongé and the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. They made vital contributions. I really think so. Their contributions were essential in getting the bill to this final vote stage, which is scheduled for Wednesday. I would also like to recognize the support shown by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, who has spoken in favour of Bill C-282 from the beginning and at every stage of the legislative process. It is quite rare to see a minister so openly involved from the outset in favour of a bill that is not a government bill.

Today the message is clear and unequivocal. Producers under the supply management system who help feed us must never again be tormented from being left wondering how badly they will be sacrificed on the altar of a free trade agreement. They have given enough. No amount of compensation, no temporary one-off cheques, will make up for the permanent structural damage caused by the breaches contained in previous agreements. All countries exclude certain sectors of their production or products from all of their free trade agreements. When the Americans come to the negotiating table, there is no question of discussing sugar or cotton. The same goes for Japan and rice. Why, then, should we not do the same?

It is high time for us to not only protect the agricultural model, but to promote a balanced agricultural model that ensures the stability of our food autonomy and food security. That model must also guarantee product quality while reducing our ecological footprint. Supply management is logical. I would even go so far as to say it is “eco-logical”. The Bloc Québécois believes that there is room under the sun for everyone. We promote all agricultural models. They are not incompatible, they are complementary. All they need is effective marketing strategies.

It has been said before, but I will say it again: Supply management plays a crucial role in Quebec's regional economies and in the dynamic use of the land. In Montcalm, 87 farms are under supply management. When I travel around my constituency, I see well-structured rural communities practising farming on a human scale and anxious to keep it that way. Breathtaking landscapes emerge along the way.

I know that the die is cast. I urge the Senate to join all of us in the House who have come together on this bill and vote in favour of Bill C-282.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business



The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The question is on the motion.

If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business



Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I request a recorded division.

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development ActPrivate Members' Business



The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Pursuant to an order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, June 21, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Alleged Intimidation of Member—Speaker's RulingPrivilegePrivate Members' Business



The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am now ready to rule on the question of privilege raised on June 12 by the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo concerning an allegation of intimidation by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

The member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo explained that, during question period on Thursday, June 8, the minister sent him an email, the contents of which the member interpreted as a threat to tarnish his professional reputation and his standing in the legal community. The email referred to the member reacting to a question by the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, which referenced a former Supreme Court justice. It also included the sentence, and I quote, “I will let the community know.” He felt that this constituted a form of intimidation, impeding him in the performance of his duties as parliamentarian.

For his part, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons asserted that the member misinterpreted the minister's words. According to the parliamentary secretary, the motives imputed to the minister by the member were not based in fact and were pure speculation. He indicated that the minister had refuted the allegations, which he described as unsubstantiated.

The Chair takes allegations of threats or intimidation against a member seriously. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, page 111, states the following concerning cases where members are obstructed, interfered with or intimidated by non-physical means:

In ruling on such matters, the Speaker examines the effect the incident or event had on the Member's ability to fulfill his or her parliamentary responsibilities. If, in the Speaker's view, the Member was not obstructed in the performance of his or her parliamentary duties and functions, then a prima facie breach of privilege cannot be found.

The Chair has reviewed the arguments presented and the relevant precedents. The member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo referred to the ruling by Speaker Bosley from May 1, 1986, on a similar matter. In that ruling, the Speaker did not conclude that the matter at hand was prima facie. As pointed out by Speaker Bosley, at page 12847 of the Debates:

Should an Hon. Member be able to say that something has happened which prevented him or her from performing functions, that he or she has been threatened, intimidated, or in any way unduly influenced, there would be a case for the Chair to consider. I cannot see that the Hon. Member’s ability to perform her parliamentary functions have been impaired in any way.

As the member knows, to find a prima facie question, the Speaker must be satisfied that the member was in some way hampered, deterred, or otherwise prevented in carrying out their parliamentary duties. In the present case, the Chair is not convinced that this email exchange has impeded the member in such a way.

Accordingly, I cannot find there is a prima facie breach of privilege.

That being said, and while not wanting to speculate about the intention behind the minister’s email, the Chair would invite him to reflect on his actions. I also encourage members to be courteous in their interactions with one another, as they all have a role to play in setting the appropriate tone for our proceedings.

I thank members for their attention.

Alleged Obstruction of Member for South Surrey—White Rock—Speaker's RulingPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am now ready to rule on another question of privilege, raised on June 14 by the chief opposition whip concerning the behaviour of the member for Kingston and the Islands.

In her intervention, the chief opposition whip alleged that the member for Kingston and the Islands obstructed her in the performance of her parliamentary duties because of his unparliamentary behaviour and an offensive gesture. The chief opposition whip qualified the behaviour as an “ordeal”, as well as distracting and disruptive to her efforts to complete her speech. While she acknowledged the apology provided by the member, she indicated that she did not feel it was sufficient. Citing procedural authorities and previous rulings, the member felt the matter met the threshold for a prima facie question of privilege.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons countered that the matter had been resolved when the member for Kingston and the Islands unreservedly apologized for the gesture he made. He also noted that the apology was delivered shortly after the incident occurred and that the Deputy Speaker accepted the apology; therefore, he considered the matter closed.

The Chair reviewed the incident that occurred on the evening of June 13, 2023, and accepts the word of the chief opposition whip as to how upsetting she found the offensive behaviour directed to her. Frequently, the House debates contentious subjects where emotions run high on both sides of the issue. This should never be used as a justification for inappropriate behaviour.

When the incident occurred, the Deputy Speaker ably addressed the behaviour by instructing the member for Kingston and the Islands to apologize unreservedly for his behaviour and offensive gesture. The member complied with that direction, and the Chair, who was tasked with making this determination, considered the matter closed.

I would remind members that decisions from the Chair are final. They are not to be debated after the fact, nor are they to be revisited once they have already been settled. That is our practice. In fact, on October 9, 1991, Speaker Fraser, at page 3516 of the Debates, made this observation, and I quote:

The member in this case, as has been the practice, has apologized. Hon. members clearly feel very strongly about the matter as perhaps so does the Speaker. I cannot allow…that a practice build up of continuing the debate.

The Chair also observes that the participation of the chief opposition whip in proceedings remains undiminished. As such, I cannot find a prima facie question of privilege.

The Chair will finish by echoing a very simple and straightforward request often made in the past: Please observe the same common courtesy that should regulate interactions in any professional setting. Vigorous exchanges of ideas, which are the hallmark in any democratic assembly, can and must be exercised in conjunction with some self-restraint.

I thank all members for their attention.

Alleged Breach of Member's Right to InformationPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have reserved the right to respond to the government's response to my question of privilege.

I believe it was on Friday that the member for Brampton North added some government response to the question of privilege I raised last week with regard to the government withholding information on an Order Paper question and proof of this.

The member for Brampton North said the following:

The government met the requirements of the Standing Orders in tabling its response to the Order Paper question. The response to the access to information request provides a legitimate rationale as to the reasons it was not in a position to include certain information in its response.

The problem with that is twofold. First of all, my question, Order Paper Question No. 974, had many aspects of information requested. The member for Brampton North said that the government was “not in a position to include certain information in its response”, but the government should have endeavoured to answer all parts of the question.

I will read an email from the ATIP that brought this question of privilege to light for your consideration in making your ruling, Mr. Speaker. It is from Eleni Deroukakis in the Department of Natural Resources. This person is a deputy director-level staffer member. The email reads:

Hi Dan,

See the official tasking for this request. As we discussed last week, it might be a good approach to leverage on the “generic” email you prepared on this issue. I sent you Kim's feedback on that response that I just received this morning.

Also as discussed, the response needs to be as high level as possible (instead of addressing every single question)....

Therefore, the staffers met and decided to deliberately withhold information from the answer to my Order Paper question. Again, I just want to re-emphasize this; it is on pages 2 and 3 of the ATIP, and it was to specifically not answer certain parts of the question.

Mr. Speaker, I will give you an example of the information they chose to withhold. One part of my question was to ask which government official gave an interview to the CBC on the story that had originated my OPQ request. The paragraph in question in this article reads, “The Canadian government has been active, too. Canadian officials say they've already provided the U.S. with a list of 70 projects that could warrant U.S. funding.”

I wanted to know who told the CBC that, so that I could follow up and perhaps get more information or a briefing. However, the staffer at Natural Resources said that they did not want to answer; they made an active effort not to answer any part of my question, and they conspired on that. As per the Speaker's ruling that I referenced from 1980 in my original submission on this question of privilege, there is a deliberate effort to withhold information.

The other point of rebuttal that I would like to make, on the assertion of the member forBrampton North that the government was in a position to withhold this, is that it is not just my Order Paper question that the Department of Natural Resources has decided to use this method of what they call “high-level limitation language”. There is a table that I would draw your attention to, Mr. Speaker, when you are making your ruling. It outlines at least, I believe, 15 other members who had an Order Paper question. It is all strategy in the comments part of that table on whether “high-level limitation language” would provide a risk. I will read one particular answer, which is in regards to a colleague asking for some basic details on government contracts, which was a generic question to all government departments. This is what the Department of Natural Resources said: “NRCan answer uses limitation language and does not disclose specific cancelled contracts from the time period requested. Communications risk appears low and depends on whether NRCan stands out among all departments answering. Inherent risk of limitation language is accepted.”

Mr. Speaker, when you are making your ruling, I would ask you to consider what the department is referring to when it says that “inherent risk” is acceptable. I interpret this as saying that the risk of me complaining to you, Mr. Speaker, or pointing out that they have deliberately withheld information is acceptable, based on whether other departments actually provide information.

NRCan has actually strategized on the opportunity cost of not pulling that information, which I am entitled to under the Standing Orders, on the gamble that you are going to rule that this is okay. Just to re-emphasize, this is what I pointed out in my original question of privilege when NRCan's deputy chief of staff, Kyle Harrietha, said that the Speaker will just tut-tut this and let it go.

The Speaker, in December 1980, pointed out that if there was a deliberate attempt to deny answers to an hon. member, this would constitute a breach of privilege in terms of how Order Paper questions are responded to. This ATIP clearly shows that the Department of Natural Resources has a pervasive culture of trying to withhold information from members through communication strategies, as opposed to trying to provide that information and then figuring out the communication process afterward. The department has it backwards. It is diminishing my ability as a member to find this information and do my job as per the Standing Orders, and it is also diminishing your role as Chair.

I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to consider that. This is very serious. I encourage you to read through the ATIP. It is troubling. I would argue against what the member for Brampton North said; it was a deliberate attempt to withhold information.

Alleged Breach of Member's Right to InformationPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

12:15 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I thank the hon. member for her intervention, and it will be taken into consideration in the ruling.

The hon. member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola.

Alleged Breach of Member's Right to InformationPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

12:15 p.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is not in my nature to stand and argue that I have been wronged. I believe that a privilege motion is a very serious event, so, hopefully, my standing alongside the member of Parliament for Calgary Nose Hill underscores the seriousness that I take with this breach.

Just a few comments with regard to my specific situation stemming from the arguments of the breach that was noted by the earlier speaker.

I think we all can probably agree that, in Canada, democracy is not as healthy as it could be and as it needs to be. We also know that the Prime Minister and his office, and some of his ministers, do not take the health of Canadian democracy all that seriously.

However, we are incredibly fortunate that in Parliament we have the Westminister parliamentary system that can and needs to stand up for democracy. How does that work? Because the one thing that the Prime Minister does not have the power to do is to elect you, our Speaker. The fact that for many years parliamentarians must vote in the Speaker should never be forgotten or taken for granted, because the Speaker does not represent the government. Rather, the Speaker represents all democratically elected officials in this place to protect our ability to carry out the discharge of our duties; the benefit of a free and democratic society. In other words, you, Mr. Speaker, represent all of us in this work.

I mention these things because we have a situation where a government department, in this case NRCan, with my Order Paper Question No. 1113, decided that it did not want to be accountable to Canadians. This department deliberately withheld information in order to mislead us as democratically elected officials. In an access to information request by the member for Calgary Nose Hill, there included a short reference to my Order Paper question. It specifically related to cancelled government contracts and any other related costs.

Spending of the government and its scrutiny is core to every member of Parliament, who is not a part of the executive, to our parliamentary functions. The department and its communication assessment, for those who are watching at home, means to identify any issues and associated communications approach. It said, “NRCan answer uses limitation language and does not disclose specific cancelled contracts from the time period requested. Communication risk appears low and depends on whether NRCan stands out among all departments answering. Inherent risk of limitation language is accepted.”

We know that this department did not want to disclose specific cancelled contracts. Were department officials embarrassed? Were they sensitive? Did they just not want to be accountable to the public? We do not know, but we do know that they identified there would be other departments that would answer honestly and forthrightly, as is their duty, being the stewards of public money. That was the risk that NRCan weighed.

Imagine for a moment if every department started to do this, especially with something like an Order Paper question, where we ask for factual information with the expectation that we will get factual information. That is why this privilege motion is so critically important for Canadian democracy. We know that this department did not want to disclose specific contracts. Why that is we do not know.

This, Mr. Speaker, will be your moment to stand up for the House, and for all members, to send a powerful message to NRCan that democracy will always prevail in Canada. That is the Speaker for whom I voted. I believe that we must send this message strongly, that no government department can be allowed to withhold information or taint our Order Paper process. If we allow this to happen once, it will inevitably happen again; if not the same kind of level, it could be worse.

I ask that you investigate this, Mr. Speaker, to ensure we can carry out our parliamentary duties. There is no way that the decision to limit the language, to purposefully hide contracts from public disclosure would not happen without the approval of the minister responsible and his staff.

All of this falls on your shoulders, Mr. Speaker, who must stand in this place to represent us and send a powerful message that this is wrong and needs to be turned around. If the Speaker fails to do this, it will only enable more government departments to engage in this kind of garbage, and, frankly, I think we all can agree that it is not acceptable.

This department thought it was above this place. Let us remind the government and its departments that they are there to serve Canadians and that Order Paper questions should be sacrosanct and factual.

Alleged Breach of Member's Right to InformationPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

12:25 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I want to thank the hon. member for his input. I do want to assure him that any decision made by the Speaker and by the office is made following the rules that are set forward by the members of the House, and followed so that it will be fair to all members: not one side or the other but all members.

The hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill is rising with a short reply.

Alleged Breach of Member's Right to InformationPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

12:25 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, when you are making your ruling on this, I would ask that you look to the response to Question No. 1113, which is the question on which my colleague from Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola is raising his additional information. I would ask you to look specifically at the language under the NRCan response, which is different from other departments. Other departments actually undertook a search of these contracts, but NRCan used what it referred to in the ATIP as “high-level limitation language”.

I would also ask you, Speaker, when you do that, to look at how there is similar language now from departments across all other Order Paper questions. I suspect that if there are further ATIPs, we will find the government has adopted an approach of “high-level limitation language”. It is a copy-and-paste across departments, which is a purposeful attempt to deny members of information, and goes against the spirit of the Standing Orders.

Thank you for your consideration, Mr. Speaker.