Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in support of the bill introduced by my colleague from Joliette. I want to commend her on this excellent initiative and on all the good work she has done over the past four years. I really enjoyed working with her and I thank her. I also thank her for truly being a strong voice for farmers in Quebec and for standing up for our regions. I am proud not only to support this bill, but also to have worked with her.
The NDP believes that it is important to support our family farms in Quebec and Canada given that we recognize how important they are to our regions and to the Canadian economy as a whole. Bill C-661 is a step in the right direction for family farms. It makes a small change to the Income Tax Act. It is a small change, but a logical one that will have a big impact. This change is needed to remedy a situation that can create serious problems for farmers. Transfers of family farms are often very complicated. I doubt that any MP in this House believes that that is good for the economy. We want to make it easier for farmers to get down to work, pursue their passion and be able to transfer these farms to family members who want to take them over. We want to ensure that they put all their time, money and energy into this very important work.
Under existing laws, brothers and sisters are not considered to be family and are therefore penalized if they want to buy, sell or transfer land to each other. This can make it even more difficult for them to manage their family farm, especially when they are looking for someone to take over, which may sometimes be a brother or sister. This makes the situation more difficult. We all know that farmers need a government they can count on to make these transfers easier so that they can get back to their work, which is so important to our economy and to all Canadians. We want to be able to eat food grown in Quebec and to take advantage of it.
In my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, agriculture is an extremely important part of the economy. There is a huge amount of diversity in the agriculture, in the type of agriculture and in the changes taking place across my riding, whether it is in Argenteuil, Papineau, Mirabel, the Deux-Montagnes region or even Les Pays-d'en-Haut. It is incredible to see all of the microclimates that exist. This means that different crops can be grown in these locations. It is very important to note that families put their hearts and souls into their passion in order to be able to feed Canadians and Quebeckers. Agriculture is therefore an important economic reality in the region. They are all family farms. Eastern Canada is at a real risk of losing its family farms. We must do everything we can to reverse that trend. Since the Conservatives came to power, thousands of family farms have had to shut down. That is unacceptable. This government has not been able to protect struggling local communities and farmers.
We must also realize that when the agricultural sector is under pressure, the whole rural community feels the effects. We are referring to all the people who make their seasonal contributions and all the small businesses that depend on farmers' investments. Therefore it is very important to ensure stability and investment in this industry. A small change like this will have a huge impact because, as I said, it will eliminate a lot of stress and problems surrounding transfers, rather than creating more paperwork and wasting time, energy and money. We truly must encourage the new generation.
Let us remember a few facts. Canada once had a world-class agricultural infrastructure, and family farms and rural communities were the heart and soul of the industry. Today, however, Canadian agriculture faces the problem of land takeovers, with farmland being purchased and concentrated in the hands of huge businesses. The family farm and the small agricultural business are definitely endangered.
In order to combat this phenomenon and the decrease in the number of farm owners in Canada, the NDP knows that we must lend a hand to family farms and facilitate the transfer of assets between family members.
We simply want to make it possible to recognize the family ties between brothers and sisters in an agricultural operation, in order to make intergenerational transfers and division of assets more flexible and encourage new blood, a new generation of farmers who will be able to carry the torch and invest in their business as their family has done.
I wish to reiterate my wholehearted support for this bill, and I thank my colleague for introducing it. It is extremely important that we have a chance to debate it, and I am pleased we are able to do that this evening.
Since we are at second reading, I hope we will be able to pass this bill, because this is important legislation. My constituents in Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel believe this bill is necessary and is a step in the right direction.
To conclude, because I think this will be my last speech in this Parliament before we leave and the election is held, I would like to thank all my constituents in Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel for a wonderful four years.
I have learned so much from the day I was elected, at the age of 22, to today, when I am 26 years old. I feel that I have grown up here, in a way, and that is thanks to the support of all these fantastic people: my colleagues, my constituents, my team and everyone who works in Parliament every day. I have enjoyed my experience tremendously, and I would like to thank them, because they are what have made it so wonderful.
I am very eager to come back in the fall. I hope to see many of the faces I see today again. To those who are retiring, my thanks and my best wishes for their retirement. I wish everyone a lovely summer. Thank you once again.