Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to have this opportunity to debate something that in my earlier days meant a lot to me, at least in the practical sense, because I was born and raised on a dairy farm, and today I realize the importance of all the complexities that go along with the process of protecting that dairy farm and the interests of the farmers in our communities.
Today I want to say that when we talk about our country's history as we look at trade, Canada has played what I would call a unique and constructive role in international affairs. Multilateralism has been a hallmark of our foreign policy and it has defined our reputation as a country that works in partnership with others to achieve goals that benefit people all around the world.
Likewise, when we talk of the multilateralism that has defined Canada's trade policy since the creation of the GATT before World War II, our trade policy has been built on the long-standing belief that Canadians prosper from secure access to foreign markets.
Secure access offers Canadians a more stable and predictable business environment and a more level playing field for our producers. Equally important is the recognition that Canadians need clear and enforceable rules and effective dispute settlement mechanisms to ensure that power politics do not impair the way our agrifood products are traded around the world.
Canada has consistently worked in partnership with many different countries to build a global trading system in which all countries, regardless of their political or economic power in the world, can compete on a level international playing field governed by multilaterally agreed upon rules.
This is why the WTO agricultural negotiations are so critical for Canada as a whole and for the agrifood business in particular. The negotiations offer us the best opportunity to work hand in hand with other countries to achieve greater market opportunities and to level the playing field for addressing foreign subsidies and tariff barriers that hinder our ability to compete fairly in foreign markets.
Since the negotiations began almost six years ago, Canada has been working in partnership with many countries to move the negotiations forward. As has been the case many times before in international relations, Canada has played a very effective broker role between divergent points of view, building on our current alliances and forging new ones.
It should be no surprise that this approach has been very successful for Canada. Many of our ideas and approaches have been reflected in negotiating texts to date and, most important, the framework that the WTO members reached in July.
The framework agreement will guide the next stage of the agricultural negotiations. As the framework was being negotiated in July, Canada's negotiating team met with the other WTO members, developed and developing countries alike, to promote our views. They worked day and night, leaving no stone unturned, as one would say, to advance Canada's objectives and to work toward a framework in the interest of the entire agrifood sector, including the five supply managed industries and the Canadian Wheat Board.
The framework clearly points the way toward a more level international playing field and moves in the direction of clearer and fairer rules that can address some of the existing inequities facing Canadian producers. The framework provides scope for Canada to continue pursuing our negotiating objectives and reflects many of the key ideas that Canada has been putting forward since the negotiations began.
I am proud to say that this government has been working in close partnership with our domestic partners, the provincial governments and the whole range of agrifood stakeholders over the course of these negotiations. Even before the negotiations began in the year 2000, the government consulted extensively with the provincial governments and the entire agrifood sector to develop Canada's initial negotiating position.
Because of this close partnership, our negotiating position has enabled Canada to put forward strong and credible ideas and approaches throughout the negotiations. I would like to applaud both Minister Peterson and Minister Mitchell for the amount of time and energy they and their officials have devoted to working with the stakeholders over the course of these negotiations, for these negotiations are not easy.
With the agricultural framework that we now have in place, Canada can continue to work toward achieving our negotiating objectives. It is true that Canada will continue to face pressure on our domestic sensitivities. When we talk about domestic sensitivities, we are specifically looking at such areas as our supply managed industries. We are ready and Canada will continue to work closely with the stakeholders to achieve a positive outcome for the entire agrifood sector.
The government is fully committed to continuing to work closely with our stakeholders, including the five supply managed industries and the Canadian Wheat Board, as negotiations progress. We will continue to aggressively pursue these objectives as set out for the negotiations and developed with the provinces and Canadians across this country.
We will continue to strongly press Canada's positions in the negotiations because all of our producers need a rules based trading system in which to do business and a level playing field in which to compete fairly and effectively.
This government will continue to defend the ability of our producers to choose how to market their products, including through the orderly marketing structures like supply management and the Canadian Wheat Board.
We welcome the momentum that the July package provided to the negotiations. We were glad to see that the July package integrated many of the key Canadian ideas. There is much hard work to be done this year if we are to move the negotiations forward to a successful sixth ministerial conference in Hong Kong, China, in December of this year.
We need to make every effort to advance the trade interests of our agrifood sector by working with other countries to move the negotiations forward in ways that not only advance our objectives but help meet the needs of the producers from countries around the world, especially those from developing countries. We need to continue to work together with our domestic partners to support Canadian agriculture, which depends heavily on exports, a predictable trading system, supply management, and the Canadian Wheat Board.
Coming from an agricultural background, I can certainly confirm the importance of the supply managed system as it relates to the dairy industry. So many in my community depend on the certainty of that business being there for them next week and next year, producing quality products at competitive pricing for all our citizens of this country.
At a recent policy convention of my party, a resolution that was raised by my own constituency brought forward the need for strong support for this particular supply managed industry. It was adopted virtually unanimously as a resolution of the party.
All of these factors speak to the importance that our communities give to supply managed industries and the need for the support of these industries within our country. We believe in supply managed systems. We believe they have been good for this country.
I am very pleased to stand here today and say I support supply managed industry, in particular of course because of my background in the dairy industry, and I want to see it flourish.