House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was dairy.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Bloc MP for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2004, with 57% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Sarah Gault June 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, last April, Sarah Gault was named the women's swim team rookie of the year at Rutgers University in the United States. This is the first time in the history of the 94-year-old institution that a foreigner has won this title.

This woman from Châteauguay gave a remarkable performance in the 100 metre breaststroke, the 50 metre freestyle and the 400 metre relay at the Big East Championships in January 2005. Thanks to her performance, Rutgers finished third in the competition.

Sarah Gault's academic performance is also brilliant. As a student in television and radio journalism, she has maintained a 3.5 average, earning a certificate and making the dean's list as a result.

The Bloc Québécois pays tribute to the achievements of this extraordinary athlete and hopes that success may long accompany her in her professional and athletic careers.

Congratulations, Sarah.

Education June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, all too often, unfortunately, we hear that many of our young people are not finishing high school. Dropping out is a social issue as well as an educational one.

Well, in Saint-Constant, in my riding, there is a school called “Le Tournant“. As its name suggests, it marks a turning point for young dropouts between 14 and 18 and is devoted to them alone.

On May 30, several hundred people were invited to a gala organized by and for the students to mark their efforts and to showcase their many talents. It provided an excellent opportunity to show that success, although not always easily achieved, in the end rewards those who go after it. This is all the more true when it applies to young people, the future of our society.

I congratulate the school's principal, Lucie Legault, and her hard-working staff, who have given back to our youth a belief in their abilities and their future.

Supply Management June 7th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I thank the hon. member for her question.

The importation of milk substitutes has a huge impact on Quebec producers. Milk is being replaced by butter oil.

As I said earlier, producers suffered losses of 50%. If a dairy producer cannot sell his milk, he should be able to get compensation somewhere. We all know that cows have to be milked twice a day. It is not like turning on a tap and turning it off.

It is very important to stop these massive losses caused by the importation of milk substitutes, particularly in Quebec. Indeed, Quebec is known as a milk processor, producing the best milk in North America.

Supply Management June 7th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I thank the hon. member. I too would like to understand. Indeed, I do not understand the question. However, I can talk about agriculture, as I am a farmer myself. Of course, the Bloc Québécois and I will always protect the interests of Quebec producers as regards supply management.

Supply Management June 7th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague opposite for his question.

In fact, the Bloc Québécois cannot oppose negotiations on article XXVIII of the GATT, because we have always supported our producers and we are in favour of supply management.

Earlier, I had talked about this supply management. Are products subject to quotas subsidized? My answer is not one bit.

The market, not the government, provides milk, eggs and turkey. The United States and the European Union continue to hand out billions of dollars for their products. The consumer price index for poultry products continues to rise, while the farmers' share shrinks.

I want to give a few examples of the farmers' share of food products. We all go to restaurants on occasion for a meal. We do not often consider the producers who produce what we eat. Here are some typical prices. We pay $14 for eggs Benedict, the producer gets 31¢. A medium-sized pizza costs $13.50; the dairy producer gets 60¢. Grilled chicken on a bed of rice costs $8.40, the chicken farmer gets 19¢. I could go on and on.

When it comes to supply management, I cannot oppose an overture by the government to help our producers in Quebec.

Supply Management June 7th, 2005

Mr. Chair, a little over a month ago, the Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec launched a widespread campaign to raise awareness with MPs from Quebec about the importation of subsidized artificial milk ingredients. One after the other, federal MPs from Quebec were visited by local dairy producers, asking them to press the government to staunch the hemorrhage affecting their industry.

But what is the problem exactly? Why are dairy producers calling for firm action by the federal government at this time?

The dairy producers of Quebec and Canada want to raise public awareness of the fact that milk ingredients subsidized by foreign governments are coming through our borders. These ingredients are increasingly replacing milk in producing dairy products such as cheese and yogourt.

These modified milk ingredients, including casein, caseinates and butter oil with sugar, circumvent supply management regulations to compete with locally produced milk. In fact, this is loophole in the free trade agreement that foreign producers take advantage of to invade our market in Quebec and Canada, which is supposedly supported by a supply management system.

What are the three gold standards for supply management? First is production planning, whereby production must be limited to what can be absorbed by the demand, ensuring that dairy producers produce 100% of what will be used, nothing more, nothing less.

Second is a pricing mechanism that ensures a fair market income, so that producers do not have to rely on government subsidies, as they still do in many countries, despite the free trade agreements.

Third is import control, not the closure of borders but control, so that the industry can know how much is imported and that local production can be planned accordingly.

In a nutshell, these three standards, these three pillars are interdependent, and should one fall, the entire supply management system would collapse.

It should be noted right off that the system of supply management provides a number of benefits. By correcting the imbalance in the forces of a market without subsidies, supply management enables producers to earn a fair income from a market that has the unfortunate tendency to treat producers unfavourably. Supply management thus saves taxpayers' money, since producers do not enjoy generous government subsidies. It also benefits consumers, who can find Quebec and Canadian dairy products on grocery shelves at some of the world's lowest prices.

It can therefore safely be said that a market operating under a supply management system is the model promoting healthy and responsible farming in which all participants, producers and consumers, come out ahead. It is a win-win situation.

Members know, as I do, that there is no stopping scientific advances. In recent years, new technologies have made it possible to fractionate milk, as milk producers themselves say, into a number of elements and milk proteins. The problem lies in the fact that the Liberal government in Ottawa did not include this modern technological development in the application of the law.

Indeed, while real milk imports were monitored, new milk proteins appeared and were not considered to be in the same category as real milk. The law was therefore unable to stop modified milk products from entering the Quebec and Canadian markets, which, it will be remembered, operate under the supply management system.

Milk processors, those who take milk and turn it into cheese and yogurt, for example, are no fools. In the face of these new proteins even less expensive than local milk, because they are subsidized outside the country, processors have no qualms about using them in the manufacture of their cheese and yogurt.

Where does this lead? In the dairy products everyone eats daily, there are fewer and fewer real dairy products and more and more artificial dairy substances subsidized by foreign countries.

In addition, the entry of the modified milk products into the Quebec and Canadian markets has lowered the demand by processors for real dairy products from Quebec and Canada.

Since domestic demand dropped, dairy producers either have to cut production or sell their milk at a loss. Either way, the supply management system is completely off kilter and has been jeopardized as a whole.

As a result, dairy producers have lost nearly 50% of the ice cream market due to butter oil-sugar blends, which the Liberal government decided not to include in the list of imported ingredients subject to supply management. Ice cream is just one of many examples. As a result of these imports violating the principle of supply management, actual annual losses are set at $175 million for producers in Canada and nearly $70 million for producers in Quebec. This does not take into account the $100 million that dairy producers lost in 2004 alone due to fallout from the mad cow crisis. At that rate, given the many ingredients that slip through the overly generous loopholes, dairy producers estimate that their industry could lose up to 30% of the combined market share for all dairy ingredients. This is the real disaster they tried to warn us about by dumping no less than two tonnes of skim milk powder in the offices of 75 Quebec MPs to condemn the unacceptable inaction of this government.

The worst part is that, at the end of the day, the imported modified milk products subsidized abroad do not even benefit consumers here. In some cases, cheese and yogurt made of modified milk products are more expensive. We are robbing Peter to pay Paul and benefiting the processors at the expense of the farmers, while ensuring that the foreign dairy substitute products is prospering at the expense of our industry.

Imports without restriction and unlimited dairy ingredients, including milk proteins, prevents the dairy industry in Quebec and Canada from predicting with certainty the demand for milk proteins, which contributes to knocking down the three pillars of supply management that I was talking about earlier.

There is an urgent need for the government to put an end to this quiet demolition of the supply management system. Some farmers I met with at my office in Châteauguay made a very good point. They said that the losses caused by the imports will never be recovered and can no longer be minimized. The only thing the Canadian government can do is prevent further losses. For that, the government has to set new tariff quotas on certain dairy ingredients in order to protect the balance needed in a system like ours that operates under supply management.

I do not understand, nor do the farmers, the Liberal government's stubborn refusal to do anything about this. It is completely legal, within the framework of the WTO rules, to invoke article XXVIII to stop the foreign influx that threatens a system like supply management, which does not contravene world trade rules.

The use of article XXVIII of the GATT would just allow one very beneficial thing to happen to the dairy industry, and that is to update our tariff quotas list by using the techniques developed over the past decade. It would only be fair to fix the cracks in the foundation of our supply management system.

L'information régionale June 3rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to draw the attention of the House to the award of excellence bestowed on L'information régionale , a weekly newspaper in my riding.

At the recent annual convention of the association Les hebdos du Québec held in La Malbaie, L'information régionale won second prize as the 2004 best weekly in the “28 pages or less” category.

Through this award, the newspaper has once again been recognized as one of the best weeklies in Quebec. L'information régionale also won four second place prizes in the following categories: front page, quality of French, writing and visual content. Our newspaper received no fewer than five awards during this gala.

I congratulate the team behind L'information régionale : Michel Thibault, Sylvain Daignault, Nathalie Simon, Dan Rosenburg, Carole Gagné, Andrew Clark and editor, Jeanne-d'Arc Germain. I thank the team for the quality of journalism it provides.

Agriculture May 19th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec government has already done its part to secure financing for the Colbex abattoir. The federal government must do its share to ensure that producers get a floor price for their cull cows.

Why is the minister not announcing the federal contribution to this financing?

Agriculture May 19th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, yesterday morning, the Quebec Union des producteurs agricoles reminded us that the mad cow crisis has had serious consequences and, to date, producers in Quebec have lost $280 million, losses that existing programs have not compensated.

Why is the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food not amending existing programs to bring them more in line with the reality facing Quebec producers?

Agriculture May 10th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, farm producers are concerned because the government recently backed off somewhat by agreeing to make supply management negotiable.

Why is the government not helping farmers by closing its borders to milk byproducts legally entering Canada duty free?